aespa – Drama
Following hot on the heels of their sold-out ‘SYNK:HYPER LINE’ world tour as well as their viral hit “Better Things”, Korean girl group aespa’s fourth mini album Drama comes at a pivotal point in their journey where they feel at the brink of a major crossover. Led by the menacing “Drama”, the cyperpunk queens once again deliver a cutting-edge slice of their futuristic pop, making fiery declarations of empowerment against a backdrop dripping in glistening synths and sci-fi laser glitches. Elsewhere, the trippy and bouncy melodies across an undercurrent of trap-pop in the alluring “Trick or Trick” comes together as an offering only aespa can pull off, while “YOLO” is a soaringly euphoric moment. Balanced out with softer moments in “Hot Air Balloon” and the floral ballad “You”, Drama is a solid entry to aespa’s catalogue which further defeines their intricately unique artistry.
Slayyyter & Lolo Zouaï – “Makeup”
Indie pop princesses Slayyyter and Lolo Zouaï have teamed up for a slinky new offering, “Makeup”. Across buzzing chords, blinking synths and a low-key electro beat, “Makeup” revels in the power that comes with being able to control romantic situations and the joy of making up after troubling times: “no more tears I just wanna make love, stop fights cos I wanna make up.” The gem follows on from Slayyyter’s standout sophomore album Starfucker, a concept record coated in luxurious electropop and centered around themes of fame, sex, femme fatales and celebrity obsession in Hollywood.
Bella Poarch – “Bad Boy!”
Viral star Bella Poarch has returned with a retro flavored offering, “Bad Boy!” – a sexy and empowering number which marks her second new release of the year. Meanwhile the revealing cover art for “Bad Boy!” features a nude Poarch, displaying her tattoos in all their glory. The “Build a Bitch” hitmaker shared on Instagram: “I’ve always had a love and hate relationship with my body since childhood. I’ve felt insecure about parts of myself, have hid my scars with tattoos, and have fallen into the pressure of looking a certain way. I have had moments of feeling good in my skin and other moments of hating myself. After my sexual assault, I felt like I couldn’t look at myself in mirrors worse of all I felt like a stranger in my body. Now, I’m regaining a sense of myself that I lost, I’m rediscovering myself, and reclaiming my body.”
KISS OF LIFE – Born to be XX
Korean group KISS OF LIFE have had a monumental 2023, instantly catapulting to viral notoriety with their debut offering “Shhh” from their self-titled mini album in July. Now after relishing in their newfound attention, the quartet officially return with their Born to be XX project fronted by “Bad News” – a refreshingly sassy hip-hop number which is sure to continue building the hype around these exciting newcomers. Elsewhere on the R&B-leaning Born to be XX mini album, “Gentleman” fuses addictive whistle melodies with booming drums; “My 808” and “TTG” are classic R&B-pop entries; while “Nobody Knows” blends lofty hip-hop beats with Manhattan-esque horns, bass slaps, and Ariana Grande levels of vocal talents. A follow-up record which does not disappoint, Born to be XX shows KISS OF LIFE are set to continue climbing the ranks in 2024.
SUMIN – SICHIMI
Multifaceted extraordinaire SUMIN is a prolific name in the Korean underground scene, leading the way with her signature brand of ‘neo K-pop’ – while also lending her talents to a range of hits for names reeling off like a ‘who’s-who’ of K-pop, from BTS and Red Velvet to IU and Chungha to name a few. Now the beloved underground star returns with her latest EP SICHIMI, a six track insight into her progressive sonic style which is SUMIN’s first project since XX, in 2020. Boasting significant feature artists on SICHIMI, from the legendary ’90s diva Uhm Jung Hwa on the bouncy “Closet” and iconic sunwoojunga on the alt-pop “Human Theater”, the mellow R&B in “Nunchi” and the futuristic soul/2-step fusion “KIKI” show off the endless charms of SUMIN’s diverse skills as a producer, songwriter and artist thriving in her own lane.