The most exciting thing that happened to K-pop in the later half of last year was the rise of iKON. After years of television survival shows, a half-album (yes, it’s a trend in K-pop), and a double digital single (another K-pop thing), YG’s latest boy group finally dropped their much-anticipated first full album before the year came to an end.
For those who keep tabs on the genre, the collection on Welcome Back would sound awfully familiar. That’s because a huge chunk of pre-released tracks have made their way to the record.
Does that mean that all elements of novelty are flung out the window? Well, not quite. The album manages to stay fresh by thanks to buzzworthy additions such as Dumb & Dumber, What’s Wrong?, and I Miss You So Bad.
For the uninitiated, iKON – that features rappers B.I. and Bobby, vocalists Jin-hwan and Jun-hoe, visual Yun-hyeong, dancer Dong-hyuk and maknae (youngest member) Chan-woo – has been consistently delivering trendy concoctions of hip-hop and K-pop throughout the year.
Rhythm Ta evokes the brilliance of fellow labelmate and sunbae BIGBANG during their Fantastic Baby era. And on the laidback My Type, the boys prove that they do romance just as well as they tackle grit. Granted, iKON’s brand of ballad – with their strong rhythms and emphasis on hooks – sounds a little left-field next to other mellower numbers within the genre.
A looming conundrum here is that iKON is way more exciting when it dishes out frenetic by-the-book hip-hop numbers. Away from the heavy beats and aggressive raps, though, there’s nothing much to separate the boys from their contemporaries.