Another epic chapter from KINGDOM, an excellent debut from NINE.i and a pair of great J-pop comebacks from INI and CIX.
“Ascension” by KINGDOM
Regal, epic, dramatic, grand. All adjectives you can describe any of KINGDOM’s title tracks since their debut. The group continues their unique and thoroughly captivating concept with the next chapter in their royal series. “Ascension” is another amazing all-around performance. Vocals, dancing, charisma; it’s all here and you can’t help but be captivated by that performance.
And just like their first albums, if perhaps you’re looking for something a bit more “traditional” in terms of good ol’ pop tracks, the B-side tracks may be for you. “Blinder” is a bright pop-dance track, while the rock-infused “Appetite” is a confidently playful romantic track. The dreamy synth of “Illusion” is my favorite track from the album. And the album closes with the soaring ballad “The Song of Dann (Promise),” the haunting traditional Korean sounds perfectly harmonizing with the group’s passionate vocals.
KINGDOM is one of the K-pop’s most unique and most talented rookies.
“Parallel Universe,” NINE.i
Speaking of rookies, 10 member group NINE.i makes their debut with the title track “Parallel Universe” and I love it. The dreamy pop dance track and its motivating message is a great way for the group to introduce themselves to the public. And the rest of the album follows suit with wonderful vibes. The “iNTRO” perfectly sets the tone before leading into the title track “Parallel Universe.” “Beauty Inside” is a romantic moodmaker, “Wasted Youth” is another encouraging and upbeat track and the funky rock-infused “Daze Days” wraps the album up. Overall, a strong debut from the talented rookies!
“We Are” by INI
Also showing off their youthful charm is INI with the second single from their latest release. I wasn’t a big fan of the first track (“Call 119”) from this album. But I definitely like this second one much more. “We Are” is a bright and hopeful track that seems to fit the mold for PD101JP groups in which they pair a powerful, charismatic track with brighter, perhaps more uplifting tracks with every album release. “We Are” is in that latter slot and it’s just more my speed.
“Pinky Swear” by CIX
CIX releases their latest Japanese single and “Pinky Swear” is a fun, bright song. It might not be “Cinema”-level song of the year, but it’s a perfect illustration of the groups youthful vibes mixed with playfully romantic charm.