K-pop is constantly evolving, exploring new sub-genres and getting more and more innovative by the day.
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It’s clear that a new sound is emerging in K-pop: one that combines different tempos, rhythms, and melodies all into one song. It’s the musical equivalent of whiplash – in the best way possible! If you’re interested in expanding your K-pop horizons, look no further.
1. NMIXX – “O.O”
NMIXX may be newly debuted, but that doesn’t mean that they’re playing it safe when it comes to their debut track “O.O” – which combines hip hop rhythms and electro-pop melodies to create the effect of three songs in one. The beat change is totally addictive, as is the addition of the pop-rock guitar. They’re here to shake things up!
2. TXT – “Eternally”
“Eternally” is the perfect blend of what TXT does best, and it shows off the group’s versatility. It shifts back and forth from a beautiful, ethereal melody with effortlessly light vocals to a hard alternative style so fast it’ll definitely give you whiplash. It comes together perfectly though, and the music video’s enthralling storyline makes it just that much better.
3. aespa – “Next Level”
aespa definitely wasn’t the one to pioneer this mixed-up K-pop style, but they might just be the ones to put it on the map. Their ultra-modern AI concept meshes perfectly with this sort of music, as evidenced by “Next Level.” Going from a spunky hip hop sound to a smooth R&B beat and then right back again, you can never get bored with this track.
4. EXO – “Tempo”
“Tempo” may have been released in 2018, but it still sounds totally modern. The song starts with a short harmonic run before jumping right into the peppy beat that most fans associate with this song. Don’t be fooled though – it comes back around to that ballad-y vibe, backed by some truly amazing jazz piano, before finishing with a cool blend between the two styles.
5. TWICE – “LIKEY”
While maybe not a total switch-up in the way that some of the other songs on this list are, there’s still something addictive about the way that “LIKEY” changes when the beat drops. From a bright, bubblegum sound straight into a suave hip hop beat, the rap section stands out in the best way. I only wish that there was more of it!
6. NCT U – “Make A Wish”
Released as a part of NCT’s second full-group album, “Make A Wish” definitely brings out the best in the group’s hip hop based sound and amazing ballad vocals. This song features a whistle that you just won’t be able to get out of your head, as well as a bridge with vocals so gorgeous they might give you goosebumps.
7. ITZY – “24HRS”
If there was a song that could actually give you whiplash, it might just be “24HRS.” This song starts with a heavy beat so strong you can feel it, and it switches to the sweetest bubblegum sound so suddenly you might wonder if you accidentally skipped to the next track. You might not think it would sound good, but it’s better than good – it’s awesome!
8. BTS – “Interlude: Shadow”
Suga’s solo track as a part of BTS’s larger “Map of the Soul” album series, this song is a tour de force in K-pop rap. It starts with a fairly simple rap line and some smooth vocals, but it switches into a chaotic track that seems almost rhythmless. Suga rides the beat in a way that feels like he’s making his own, which makes it all the more genius!