November 2021 was undoubtedly the month for girl groups and female soloists, from the long-awaited comeback of iconic second generation act T-ARA to the solo debut of former Big Hit Music producer Adora to more new music by TWICE. And let’s not forget about MAMAMOO’s Hwasa making her return with the badass ‘I’m a 빛’.
The boys aren’t forgotten either; this month, MONSTA X brought us back to their early days with their latest track ‘Rush Hour’. There was also the official solo debut of GOT7 member Mark Tuan, as well as the first half of B.I’s ‘Cosmos’ album. Without further ado, let’s jump right into the seven K-pop songs from November 2021 you need to hear.
Adora’s ‘Make U Dance’
It’s the debut we’ve all been waiting for: Former Big Hit Music producer, who has written hit songs for BTS, TXT and GFRIEND, is officially stepping out of the shadows and into the spotlight to make her own voice known. And the cherry on top? Former GFRIEND member Eunha joins her on the track.
What NME said: “‘Make U Dance’ makes for an enchantingly gratifying listen. That’s thanks to its dissonant, unpredictable alt-pop sound, coupled with syrupy-sweet vocals by Adora and former GFRIEND member Eunha..” – Gladys Yeo
Following a rough couple of years for this talented multi-hyphenate, B.I seems to have found peace on the first half of his new album ‘Cosmos’. And nowhere is it more apparent than on the joyful and uplifting title track.
What NME said: “As someone who’s previously named The Beatles’ ‘In My Life’ as his all-time favourite song, it’s only a matter of time before the old-but-gold influence came through to his music. Here, he injects a contemporary take on classic doo-wop vibes in the song he simply describes as being ‘about eternal love’.” – Ruby C
Hwasa’s ‘I’m a 빛’
Equal parts shocking and insightful, MAMAMOO’s Hwasa grabs us all with her striking new single ‘I’m a 빛’. Coming well over a year after her 2020 smash hit ‘María’, this badass track was well worth the wait.
What NME said: “‘Excuse you, I’m a bitch,’ the 26-year-old chants throughout the song, injecting a kind of giddy fun into the statement. If this single is intended to capture the ‘wave of emotions and downs’ Hwasa has experienced since 2020’s phenomenal ‘Maria’, ‘I’m A 빛’ does so coolly.” – Rhian Daly
Mark Tuan’s ‘Last Breath’
Now that he’s left JYP Entertainment and out of the watchful eye of the typical K-pop system, GOT7 member Mark Tuan is making his voice heard with new solo music. The Taiwanese-American singer and rapper gives fans a peak at what he has up his sleeves on the vulnerable ‘Last Breath’.
- READ MORE: Mark Tuan on ‘Last Breath’ and the daunting reality of going solo: “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep pursuing music”
What NME said: “Whether the sonic style of ‘Last Breath’ is one the GOT7 member will continue to pursue remains to be seen, but it suits his message here. It balances emo-rap with minimalist hints of pop-punk, both playing up the vulnerability and open hearted emotion in Tuan’s words.” – Rhian Daly
MONSTA X’s ‘Rush Hour’
MONSTA X throw it back to their early days with the brand-new single ‘Rush Hour’. Despite the absence of leader Shownu, who is currently serving his mandatory military service, the remaining five members amp up the confidence on this boisterous listen.
What NME said: “The way ‘Rush Hour’ hinges on this indelible confidence through its lyrics is not the only thing that makes it such a rousing listen – the song itself purposely calls back the familiar swaggering boastfulness MONSTA X debuted with.” – Carmen Chin
T-ARA’s ‘Tiki Taka’
After four long years away, iconic girl group T-ARA have made their much-anticipated return with ‘Tiki Taka’ – and the quartet definitely haven’t lost their touch. The group pick things back up exactly where they left off, raring and ready to go.
What NME said: “[The song] might not sparkle as boldly and brightly as some of their best work, but it doesn’t tarnish their legacy by any means. Should they keep working on new music, it could be just the building block they need to begin their ascent back up to their very best..” – Rhian Daly
Off the heels of their first English-language single ‘The Feels’, TWICE hit it out of the park just a month later with the infectious ‘Scientist’. Much like their previous release, the track fuses TWICE of old and new, creating a mix that is just simply undeniable.
What NME said: “‘Love ain’t science, don’t need no license / the more you sit there thinking, it’s a minus,’ the group says during what is an absolutely satisfying chorus, which is preceded by an equally charming climb. The consistent bass makes a solid foundation for the track, allowing for a comforting breathing space for the group’s anchored vocals.” – Tanu I. Raj