As we kickstart 2024, drastic and sudden changes are arriving in the K-pop world.
With the arrival of new boy and girl groups and a barrage of album releases, 2024 begins to look like a promising year for K-pop fans. In the past decade, K-pop has generally been dominated by the likes of BLACKPINK, BTS, TWICE, and others. However, with YG Entertainment introducing their new girl group, BABYMONSTER, and ADOR's NewJeans arriving at the scene, things are beginning to look a lot more interesting for the K-pop genre in the upcoming years. Here are 9 K-pop songs to listen to in 2024.
1. BATTER UP - BABY MONSTER
Starting with YG Entertainment's BABYMONSTER, this new girl group, consisting of 7 members, first took over the hearts of K-pop fans around the world with their pre-debut song “DREAM”, and then again with their new single "BATTER UP”. The song features hype dancing, slightly resembling their predecessor, BLACKPINK. However, the style includes less traditional choreography and instead gears towards hip-hop.
The song, as mentioned in the title, features the ‘batter up’ move, referencing baseball, in which the members raise their arms together as if holding an imaginary bat and swivel their wrists, stepping with the beat. Netizens have speculated that, like baseball in which the baseball players face the ball head-on, ‘BATTER UP’ emphasizes facing challenges directly and overcoming them. With a classic tempo and excellent vocals, ‘BATTER UP’ has by no means underperformed YG Entertainment's standards and BABYMONSTER is on track to becoming, perhaps, the next BLACKPINK.
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2. DASH - NMIXX
NMIXX, consisting of six members, debuted in 2022 from JYP Entertainment and almost instantly became an international sensation, partly due to their forerunner, TWICE. Their newest album, Fe304: BREAK, released on January 15, 2024, features the newest top hit in 2024; DASH. Within a week, DASH M/V reached over 20 million views on YouTube and is still on a steady climb, and it isn't hard to see why.
Beginning with a catchy chorus and a steady, swing beat, DASH places itself in between the genres of pop and jazz, creating a beautiful equilibrium of music. It moves to a quiet bridge without a distinct drum beat that crescendo slowly into the chorus - “I wanna dash, I wanna dash." The members bump to the beat, swinging from side to side, with enthralling choreography and graceful dance steps. The NMIXX members outperform themselves with their 2024 comeback.
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3. OMG - NewJeans
NewJeans, perhaps the most popular K-pop girl group in the 4th generation, came out with multiple international hits including Ditto and Hype Boy. But perhaps the most well-known NewJeans song of 2023 was OMG. With the ‘OMG’ dance move going viral on TikTok overnight, the song skyrocketed NewJeans into multinational levels, and with a quick listen to OMG, the reason becomes crystal clear.
With a fresh music style and clean, smooth choreography, ‘OMG’ immediately sticks in your head with its catchy chorus ("Oh my, oh my god") and amazing vocals. Each of the five members shines individually with their solo sections and collectively with synchronized dance moves. ‘OMG’ was awarded the Top Global K-Pop Song in the Billboard Music Awards for 2023, and there is no doubt that NewJeans will continue to bring global hits in the coming years.
4. LALALALA - Stray Kids
Stray Kids, often dubbed the ‘next BTS’, released their latest album ‘ROCK-STAR’ on November 10, 2023, and it has quickly risen to become one of the top K-pop albums of the year. Its most-played song ‘LALALALA’ is currently trending at just under 100 million views on YouTube. The song begins with a repetitive chord progression that repeats throughout the song, the tune sticking in our ears. LALALALA continues to progress and crescendo, adding a catchy clapping beat, and, with Chanbin's powerful voice entering, the song turns ballistic (in a good way).
It is easy to see why the song is such a huge hit. The hype that enters with their captivating vocals and rapping, the instinct to nod, if not dance, along to their beats, is distinct. During the pre-chorus, Seungmin sings, “Just feel the rhythm of the world, ‘cause we will make it rock" and there is no doubt that Stray Kids did with their global hit ‘LALALALA’.
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5. Standing Next to You - JungKook
BTS may be in the army, but they are still out here making international sensations, as JungKook of BTS releases his debut studio album ‘GOLDEN’. His album has numerous award-winning hits, but perhaps the most popular has been ‘Standing Next to You’. With nostalgic instruments and a catchy drum tempo, JungKook begins the song with a hint of the chorus. Throughout the song, he shows off his incredible vocals, from low to high, with near-perfect voice control. His voice comes into light especially at the chorus, singing: “Standing in the fire next to you-ou.”
‘Golden’ has lived up to the high standards of BTS's millions of fans worldwide with ‘Standing Next to You’ and we can't wait to see what JungKook and the other members have in store for us!
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6. Closer Than This - Jimin
Another BTS masterpiece, Jimin brings ‘Closer Than This’ to the table and hits all the checkboxes of an easygoing, laid-back song. With poetic lyrics ("Do you also remember? The moment we first met?"), an angelic voice unique to only him, and a flowing melody, it is obvious why ‘Closer Than This’ is now trending on all media platforms.
The meaning behind this song is profound: Jimin encapsulates his feelings for ARMY (the BTS fanbase) as he leaves for military service in Korea ("Whenever it snows, I'll cherish how you smiled for me…"). He also describes the connection between BTS members ("Seven equals one, right, our hearts beat as one.") and that nothing can separate his heart from ARMY ("I could never let you go.") Through this touching song, we can grasp both Jimin's beautiful voice and meaningful lyrics.
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7. Drama - aespa
Aespa, a four-member girl group consisting of Winter, Karina, Giselle, and Ningning, released their fourth extended play on November 2023 and instantly hit international headlines. The album is composed of six songs, with the featured song being ‘Drama’. Nearing 95 million views on YouTube, ‘Drama’ is undoubtedly one of aespa's most popular songs to date and showcases their energetic and hype-filled music perfectly.
“Ya, ya, I'm the drama.” The song begins like a banger, with aespa's classic beautiful visuals and mesmerising vocals. Their synchronized dance moves and fluid motions are captivating to watch, the beat drops almost impossible to not nod along with. The music video is highly praised across social media platforms, with ‘MY’, the aespa fanbase, praising SM Entertainment: “This MV has the best cinematography out of all the MVs I’ve watched ever,” and “help i can’t stop listening to this song.”
Image Credit: 티비텐 from Wikimedia Commons
8. You and Me - JENNIE
This list would not be complete without BLACKPINK. BLACKPINK has long reigned as the K-pop girl group queens of the 21st century and even in the new generation, with girl groups such as NewJeans and aespa contesting the popularity crown, Jennie of BLACKPINK releases ‘You and Me’. When first sung on stage as a surprise, unreleased song meant for her debut album, videos released on multiple social media platforms instantly turned viral.
Released officially on Spotify in October 2023, the song has reached over 120 million streams and 114 million views on YouTube. With her outstanding visuals and alluring voice, Jennie melted the hearts of millions of BLINKs worldwide. The dreamy tune, with calm, synthetic beats, moves slowly until the beat drops at the chorus: “I love you and me, dancing in the moonlight. Nobody can see, it's just you and me tonight." Debuting at number 7 on the Billboard Top 200 list, Jennie has proved herself as not only relevant but prominent in the K-pop world today.
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9. GODS - NewJeans
3 months after their second comeback ‘Get Up’, NewJeans drops another banger with League of Legends: GODS. On November 19th, NewJeans performed the song live at League of Legends Worlds 2023 and was received with overwhelming support. With their hypnotizing and angelic voices, each of the members showcases their vocal talent. The huge bass resounding and backing up each of their voices, the way their lines reach highs in a crescendo, is enough to send goosebumps down your arm.
Lines such as “Singing your praises, la-la-la. Screaming your name out la-la-loud.” and “Once you play God, they're going to crumble one by one. Then we gon' ride right into the sun like it's the day my kingdom come,” resound deeply with a statement Creative Director Carrie Dunn made: “‘GODS’ juxtaposes epic and intense production elements with NewJeans’ beautiful and powerful vocals – conveying both the grind and the glory that awaits our players at Worlds.”
With dozens of new and exciting K-pop groups, hundreds of albums and singles released over the year, and no signs of stopping, 2024 is looking to be an exciting year for K-pop fans around the world. We cannot wait to see what the K-pop world has in store for us in the next 12 months!