So the year is coming to a close and for a 2nd year in a row, my fiance Ben has posted his top 9 albums on Facebook. I’m always inspired to do these and I did in fact, do a list last year. 3 actually with the way the Japanese and Korean music markets work, I knew just one top 9 list would reflect my opinions accurately. This list here will reflect my top 9 mini-albums or EPs of the year. I decided to that in order to qualify for this list the mini-album had to have around 5 to 6 tracks (ignoring remixes and intro/outro tracks). I’ve also have had to listen to every track on the mini-album. If i liked the lead single and that’s all i listened to, chances are its under another list.
These are listed in a numbered order, but it does not mean one is better over another.
1.) Love & Evil by LOOΠΔ 1/3
LOONA is probably the group I have been following the most outside of MAMAMOO. They have yet to debut but this year has been a great one for them! Love & Evil is actually a re-package of their Love & Live mini-album but I really like the new tracks added so I chose it. I admit I was a little salty when this sub-unit was announced since I don’t care for Vivi much and felt Yeojin got shafted. Oh well. All the songs are a lovely mix of older and newer pop sounds. While the newer girls revealed for LOOΠΔ have been on the more electronic/dancier side, I still appreciate the more natural, classical and almost innocent side to the group. This mini-album really showcases that.
2.) YOU & ME by KARD
Second on the list is KARD’s second mini-album You & Me. I had thought about putting their debut HOLA HOLA which dropped back in July but for some reason this newer release just resonates with me more. Don’t Recall has been one of my top jams of the year, but I think since all the songs on You & Me are new it takes the cake. While two of the tracks (Trust Me) are seemingly the same, I enjoyed the different style/approach they took to each one. In the end I think i prefer slower paced BM & Somin version alongside the rap lyrics BM wrote. Overall this mini-album is just a nice listen that seems more mature then their previous release. I’m happy when they released a video for Trust Me, the chose the music from BM & Somin’s version.
3.) The Sun, The Moon by Kisum
Third is Kisum’s third mini-album, titled The Sun, The Moon. I’m glad Kisum made it on my list again this year! While I like her other EP Musik more, I still enjoy this EP for different reasons. I feel its softer yet in some ways groovier than her last release. Like Heize she seems to be diving into the more ballad r&b/pop alongside her usual music with Sleep Tight. The Sun, The Moon in love is probably my favorite track and its a damn shame it didn’t get a video. In The Rain is also an amazing and fun track to listen to with its effects.
4.) Purple by MAMAMOO
Purple is so far MAMAMOO’s only release of the year and it was worth the wait! While I enjoyed Memory, their previous mini-album, I felt I didn’t listen to it quite as much as I did Purple since it was mostly made of previously released tracks. I also think one of the reasons was the debacle that was Décalcomanie‘s music video. This time MAMAMOO got the theme of women empowerment right with Yes I Am. I was initially shocked by the sound of Purple but it grew on me. Yes I Am and Finally sound more main-stream poppy then their usual style so I was worried they were leaving their roots behind. The album still very much feels like them though. I appreciated the hilarious Age-Gag as they have done other funny songs before with 1cm Pride. Actually Age Gag has more of that jazzy/blues/instrumental sound I’m used to hearing from them! I was surprised to see MoonByul got a solo as well but its very much enjoyable and hearing her both sing and rap is a treat for fans.
5.) The Red Summer by Red Velvet
Red Velvet is one of the groups that I fall for more and more each year. I was initially worried this year when their song ROOKIE dropped because I couldn’t stand it. So much so I skipped listening to their EP titled by the same name. I still haven’t listened to it. However once The Red Summer was released I was immediately happy. The album really does have a fun, upbeat and summery feel to it. It’s sure to be a staple on KPOP summer playlists for years to come. I enjoyed the incorporation of sound effects and clips in Zoo. Hear the Sea is an amazing outro for such a fun album and it just always gets me in the feels as it progresses.
6.) From. Wu Ju So Nyeo by Cosmic Girls (WJSN)
Cosmic Girls were behind one of my favorite releases last year with “The Secret”. I wasn’t sure if they would hold up this year as this EP didn’t impress as much as Secret but I’m still glad I have it a chance. Perfect is probably my favorite non-title track because it reminds me of something I would hear on before mentioned EP. It’s overall an easy listen with both electronic and acoustic elements. The EP sounds almost like a 2.0 of The Secret, perhaps the younger and not as fleshed out version of it.
7.) Max & Match by ODD EYE CIRCLE
As I mentioned before, LOOΠΔ has been hot on my radar this year. While LOOΠΔ 1/3 is seen as the more softer, natural side of the group, ODD EYE CIRCLE is the dancier, more electronic side. Much like LOOΠΔ 1/3, ODD EYE CIRCLE had one EP released, and then a re-packaged a short time later. Max & Match being that re-package. While its not anything out of the ordinary I find its a nice, easy listen, which is why I think its seen as more popular than the other LOOΠΔ releases to date. I really enjoy Sweet Crazy Love, Girl Front and Chaotic. Odd Front is an interesting re-arrangement that is at times better, but also at times worse. Overall, it had me excited to see what else the girls have in store for us in the future.
8.) Hi! Pristin by PRISTIN
Oh look an artist I already talked about before on here! PRISTIN was actually a surprise like for me since I didn’t think I’d like them or that if I did, Wee Woo would be the their only hit I’d listen to it. I actually decided to give their debut EP a spin and I like it! They actually released another EP later this year, and they were almost neck in neck, but in the end this one won me over. The girls voices work very well together. I also really like the arrangements and the different sound effects used in the tracks. I find this album is actually fun to listen to with headphones on. Wee Woo, Black Widow are good bops and WE is a beautiful track to end on.
9.) Don’t Say No by Seohyun
Last on this list is the first and probably will be only EP by ex-Girls’ Generation member Seohyun. I guess its good she released this when she did, seeing she didn’t renew her contract with SM to pursue acting. Seohyun is an amazing vocalist and its a shame to see her leaving the group. However, it’s nice to see her venture off and test the musical waters on her own. Ranging from the usual pop to acoustic theres a little bit of everything on this album for someone. The entire album is a nice listen but Love & Affection, Hello and Moonlight are all solid jams in my opinion.