This Week in Kpop: October 18-24, 2015

This Week in Kpop is brought to you by the letters I and U! No, not You & I, although that would be fine too, because IU is back, and she's twenty-three and she's a queen. So why don't we get started already?

IU is Twenty-three!

IU capped an excellent week for Kpop with the fun, sassy, and redefining "Twenty-three," which is a part of her also wonderful mini-album, Chat-Shire, a release that is just killing every chart imaginable right now. Koreans just can't get enough of IU, and we didn't even realize how much we've missed her until we saw the teasers for "Twenty-three" last week.

And here's the thing, we've actually missed IU longer then she's been away! Last year was an incredible year for her, with the special remake album, A Flower Bookmark, and who can forget her collaboration with Seo Taiji and releasing the haunting, "Sogyeokdong?" But while those releases have transitioned IU into something beyond traditional Kpop idol, we feel like we've also been missing a glimpse into her bright personality, a door that has been closed since...? "Red Shoes" maybe?

Say no more - "Twenty-three" is a feast of personality, one of IU's most personal and easily the most poppy release in ages. She's had a hand in every song in her mini-album, and that personal touch has led to this quirky, fun single. We've seen idols addressing their maturity whence reaching milestone ages, but IU's take is uniquely her own, highlighting her contradictions, her misconceptions, and, perhaps, the perception of her as an idol. This is a welcome return for IU, who, again, has redefined herself with a release that requires multiple views, with the lyrics on full display. It's been too long, IU, but welcome back!

XIA's "Yesterday"

XIA came back this week with the beautiful/disturbing "Yesterday," which seems like a great place to followup his equally beautiful/disturbing "Flower." While "Flower" introduces us to a post-apocalyptic landscape (of the heart), "Yesterday" brings us smack in the middle of the end of the world, with nuclear warfare (or is it a meteor?), planes crashing, and cities reduced to rubble, while the demon moon observes. The imagery is actually a bit jarring in that the world itself is in a state of intense warfare, where cities in rubble and people fleeing warfare is a part of our daily news cycle.

But it's impossible to deny that the imagery is effective and somehow darkly moving, which would mean absolutely nothing if Junsu here didn't have an amazing, soulfully heartbreaking voice, that just carries you to the end of this cataclysm. He's definitely become an artist to watch for dark, adult releases, but really he's been doing this for a while now, friends.

Critical Kpop Podcast - Episode 8: Twice!

Listen (harder), friends. We're super hyped for Twice's rookie debut, calling it, among other things, one of the best rookie debuts of the year! In our latest podcast, we detail what makes this release so stunning, and where we see their bright future heading! Listen right here, friends!

October 18-24, 2015

And that was This Week in Kpop! This week was full of high-quality releases that make us excited to be Kpop fans! While we've been focusing on our podcast in recent weeks, if you have an itch to write a review, please seek us out - we'd love to see what you're thinking and are always open to publish new writers! We'll back next week just in time for Halloween! Until then, have fun and be safe!


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