네온펀치 (NeonPunch) | NeonPunch 1st Debut Album ‘MOONLIGHT’

I didn’t forget K-pop! I’ll also be going down memory lane for a lot of Korean pop releases throughout the year, so keep an eye out!

My next review focuses on a really recent release, having been distributed in the summer of 2018. You might not have heard of NeonPunch, but you may have seen MIXNINE, where a few of its members have gone on to compete. Heralding from small company A100 Entertainment, NeonPunch is the company’s first girl group and made the scene with a ‘debut album’ that makes us wonder if this will be the perfect night out for moonlight. Will it be as bright as ever, or is it too dull for us to proceed further?

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ITZY (있지) | IT’z Different

The hype train is real! This is the case for five-member pop group ITZY, introduced to the K-pop world under the JYP Entertainment umbrella, featuring members you might have already been familiar with under the likes of SIXTEEN, MIXNINE, and Stray Kids. ITZY’s hype was so huge at the beginning of 2019, being that they are TWICE’s ‘little sisters’ and that they were the group that even JYP’s former starlet Somi was supposed to be in.

But with that hype comes the actual delivery, and when the delivery doesn’t hold up, the hype becomes unsatisfactory. Is ITZY really all that different from every act on the K-pop scene, or are they just the same as everyone else?

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NATURE (네이처) | NATURE WORLD: CODE A

NATURE who? Uh, get into it!

Korean-pop group NATURE made their debut in 2018, and they have yet to make any dent into the K-pop industry as a one-year-old group. That being said, NATURE looks to have pulled a trick up their sleeve with the addition of new member Sohee, who people might actually recognize to be Produce 101 alum Kim So Hee, who was in project groups C.I.V.A, I.B.I, and Girls Next Door. Here, the light is on Sohee to bring NATURE to better recognition, but are we bound for NATURE WORLD, CODE A, or are we headed off in the opposite direction?

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IZ*ONE (아이즈원) | HEART*IZ

Remember Produce 48? Here’s a rundown: it’s basically the survival reality program to find the nation’s girl group Produce 101 merged with Japanese mega-group AKB48. Despite it facing some scrutiny under recent times due to ‘voting manipulation’, Produce 48 created monster rookie group IZ*ONE upon its completion, who managed to stir the charts with an elegant but fiery red debut, creating waves in both Korea and Japan as a girl group to watch out for.

In April 2019, IZ*ONE released their very first comeback, and with all the hype that came before for what may follow from their huge debut, all IZ were on the group to follow-up with something just as great. Carrying on in the floral concept, IZ*ONE tackles the heart with the second mini HEART*IZ, but is this where the heart is?

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TWICE (트와이스) | Feel Special

If you have been living under a rock for the year or have distanced yourself from K-pop entirely, then perhaps you might not have heard about the recent news involving 9-member JYP girl group TWICE. One of its members, Japanese-born Mina Myoui, took a hiatus from promotional activities due to anxiety, something that isn’t fairly represented in the world of K-pop. With the concerns that their fanbase had over Mina’s health and this affecting TWICE as a whole, TWICE decided to shed light on the matter with a comeback that is not only dedicated to their fans, but may be important to Korean pop music as a whole.

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현아 | FLOWER SHOWER

2018 wasn’t a particularly good year for former CUBE family members HyunA (of 4minute fame) and E’Dawn (of PENTAGON fame). After the announcement of their dating hit the netizen world, they were thrown under so much scrutiny and ridicule that it led to their dismissal from the company and disappearance from the public eye. Cut to about a year later, and P NATION, their new management company led by the Gangnam Style hitmaker PSY, announces a dual comeback: HyunA and E’Dawn.

HyunA’s comeback tackles a trendy concept, but are we going to be showered with blooming flowers, or is the concept going to wilt the flowers around it?

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모모랜드 (MOMOLAND) | GREAT!

Are you into K-pop? You are? Then, have you heard about MOMOLAND recently? Scoring 100 million views for an MV when you’re relatively unknown is a feat in itself, and MOMOLAND certainly proved this to be possible. GREAT!, the mini that the MV has been promoting, may go down as one of K-pop’s interesting successes, but is the group’s third mini-album all that it’s chalked up to be? Is it actually great? It may just be…

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