Since the early 2000s, K-pop has been a mainstay in the playlist of many due to the boom of the second generation of K-pop. Although the K-pop music industry is dominated by fourth-generation artists now, the legacy of their seniors is still ever-present.
Many second-generation groups, such as Girls’ Generation and KARA, made their much-anticipated return with new K-pop songs for their anniversary since their debut. So expect a varied mix of new K-pop songs from veteran and budding artists in the coming months. We’ve compiled the best new K-pop songs you should listen to and include in your music playlist in 2023.
OnlyOneOf is definitely not your average cookie-cutter boyband. The six-member group’s anchor concept is ‘ubersexual’-inspired, showcasing a mix of softness and strong masculine sexiness. After a string of successful 2022 Japanese hits, OnlyOneOf returned to their motherland and released their first Korean single of 2023, ‘seOul drift’.
Self-produced by the group themselves, this fierce grungy song sees OnlyOneOf expressing the “dreams of young minorities” in the accompanying Cyberpunk-esque video.
From seOul cOllectiOn fifth EP mini-album. Release date: March 2.
After releasing his successful debut full-length solo album Jack In The Box last year, j-hope drops a surprise single which coincides with his intention to start the military enlistment process. The BTS member also finally realised his dream to collab with one of his music heroes J.Cole via ‘on the street’.
This song looks back into j-hope’s artistic roots – his love for hip-hop and street dance. “The key motif of the track comes from the word ‘street’ which can be interpreted as a place where many people’s everyday lives pass by—a metaphor for life,” HYBE explained in a press statement. This is also reflected in the accompanying music video where both musicians appear to express their love for street culture and musical craft.
From ‘on the street (with J.Cole) digital single. Release date: March 3.
There’s definitely never a dull moment when CRAVITY’s around. On the nine-member boyband’s fifth mini-album, confidently titled MASTER:PIECE, lead single ‘Groovy’ channels youthful energy and the feeling of freedom with some electro-funk.
The upbeat vibe also extends into the song’s music video through vibrant visuals and eye-catching colours. CRAVITY’s message is that each of us is the protagonist of our own lives, whether in reality or on TV, and we have the limitless possibility of becoming whoever we want to be, according to the press statement.
From MASTER:PIECE fifth mini-album. Release date: March 6.
While fans await SHINee’s return as a group, they can find satisfaction in the boyband’s current leader and vocalist Onew’s genre-bending first full-length album Circle. Hot on the heels of fellow bandmate Key’s repackaged second album Killer last month, Onew’s latest solo project is also an aural treat.
Circle‘s title track, ‘O (Circle)’, “is an R&B song that combines an arpeggio synth sound, a heavy bass line, and a groovy melody”, as explained in a statement by SM Entertainment. “Its lyrics express that the highs and lows of life are something we all have in common, and that just like seasons of nature, our lives come back full circle after taking various shapes and forms.”
From Circle first full-length studio album. Release date: March 6.
After a year since their previous EP release Cherry Wish, Cherry Bullet makes their long-awaited comeback with their third mini-album Cherry Dash. The seven-member FNC Entertainment girl group plays with acronyms on their dynamic title track ‘P.O.W! (Play On the World)’ which exudes spunky energy.
Dance-pop in nature, listeners will get hooked on the catchy experimental melody while they convey a confident resolve of challenging themselves without getting affected by other people’s opinions.
From Cherry Dash mini-album. Release date: March 7.
Former GFRIEND main vocalist and current vocal soloist Yuju returns to the airwaves with her poignant sophomore mini-album ‘O’. On the emotional title song ‘Without U’, the KONNECT Entertainment (owned by fellow K-pop soloist Kang Daniel) singer comforts with her deliberate subdued melodic delivery.
While Yuju always impresses with her limitless vocal range, the overall tone of O might leave fans wanting more. Something dynamic and grandiose. Perhaps her third project will be her best yet as three is a charm.
From O mini-album. Release date: March 7.
One of the most anticipated best new K-pop song releases in 2023 has got to be from TWICE. Fresh from winning ‘Breakthrough Artist’ at the 2023 Billboard Women In Music Awards, the veteran nine-member JYP Entertainment girl group is gearing up for their 12th mini-album release Ready To Be.
The group first teased the album with pre-release single ‘Moonlight Sunrise’, a sensual English-language R&B cut from their upcoming record. ‘Set Me Free’ will serve as the title single of Ready To Be and the group has recorded both Korean and English versions for this album. “You make me wanna risk it all / I’m running high on the feeling / Gonna set me, set me, set me free,” Twice teases ‘Set Me Free”s English lyrics in an audio clip via social media.
From Ready To Be mini-album. Release date: March 10.
In a surprise announcement via social media, GOT7’s Youngjae reveals that he’ll be dropping a digital single ‘Errr Day’ within the week. The Sublime Entertainment artist’s previous music project before this release was his second EP Sugar in 2022.
In a press statement by his agency, they explained that “Youngjae is involved in the production and lyrics writing of ‘Errr Day’, which is a colloquial take on ‘every day’.” The song also “depicts the fluttering mind of being together every day with the person you love.”
From ‘Errr Day’ digital single. Release date: March 12.
Kai of boyband EXO is gearing up to release his third mini-album Rover in March. First announced last month, the SM Entertainment singer will make his long-awaited solo comeback since November 2021’s ‘Peaches’.
The title song will also act as the lead single for this project. In a tweet on EXO’s Twitter account, the song is described to be “full of ‘wild hip’ vibes, and hyping up for a new performance to be shown with ‘Rover’.” This mini-album will have six songs in total, including ‘Rover’.
From Rover mini-album. Release date: March 13.
Another BTS member, Jimin, will drop original music this month. The singer, previously featured on Taeyang’s ‘Vibe’, is set to pre-release buzz single ‘Set Me Free Pt.2’ before debuting his first solo album Face.
Not to be confused with TWICE’s ‘Set Me Free’, which was coincidentally released on March 10, Jimin’s song is rumoured to be a thematic sequel to bandmate SUGA’s ‘Interlude: Set Me Free’ from the latter’s from his D-2 mixtape under his alias Agust D alias. In a press statement by Big Hit Entertainment, this song describes Jimin singing “about his resolution to free himself from various emotions hidden deep inside him.”
From Face debut solo album. Release date: March 17.
Besides TWICE’s comeback, another JYP Entertainment girl group returns in March too. NMIXX, the younger sister act of TWICE, is set to drop their first EP expégo after releasing a string of single albums. This comeback also marks the group’s first schedule as a sextet without former member Jinni, who departed the group last December.
expégo will have a total of six songs, including lead single ‘Love Me Like This’. A teaser video trailer for this project, ‘Secret of Sweet Oasis’, hints at the concept of expégo and also features a throwback to scenes from their debut song ‘O.O’.
From expégo debut EP mini-album. Release date: March 20.
Following the footsteps of fellow bandmates j-hope, Jin, and RM who released original solo material since BTS announced their hiatus, it’s now Jimin’s turn to hit the stage as an individual artist with Face. His debut solo mini-album will feature a total of six songs, including pre-release single ‘Set Me Free Pt.2’. Also on the album are the Korean and English versions of title track “Like Crazy,” which is co-produced by Jimin and his fellow BTS member RM.
“Face will show how Jimin marks a new beginning as an artist,” said Big Hit Music in a press statement. “He played an active role in producing his mini-album to bring his unique style to the fore.”
From Face debut mini-album. Release date: March 24.
Finally, BamBam of GOT7 will release his first full-length studio album. The joyful Thai-born singer previously put out his debut mini-album Ribbon when he went solo in 2021.
A total of eight songs will be featured in Sour & Sweet, including the same-name title song, ‘Take It Easy’, and ‘Ghost’, among others. BamBam has also recently been active on social media via his YouTube reality show ‘Bam House’.
From Sour & Sweet first full-length album. Release date: March 28.
[#Billlie] 4th Mini ALBUM— Billlieofficial (@Billlieofficial) March 7, 2023
[the Billage of perception: chapter three] | Billlendar
2023. 03. 28. 6PM KST
Title - EUNOIA#빌리 #하람 #하루나 #문수아 #시윤 #션 #수현 #츠키 #HARAM #HARUNA #MOONSUA #SIYOON #SHEON #SUHYEON #TSUKI #EUNOIA #유노이아 pic.twitter.com/YfWV9t365x
Rookie girl group Billlie indeed had a great 2022, with member Tsuki’s viral fan cam for the group’s GingaMingaYo (The Strange World) live performance stages. Their popularity sky-rocketed after, following up with comeback single RING ma Bell (what a wonderful world) from The Billage of Perception: Chapter Two.
The quirky group is set to continue this blooming streak in 2023 through its sequel The Billage of Perception: Chapter Three and lead single ‘EUNOIA’. Details regarding this era, like tracklist, has yet to be revealed. Although there are hints pointing to a youthful school-themed concept with the visual designs from the teaser posters.
From The Billage of Perception: Chapter Three mini-album. Release date: March 28.
The final BLACKPINK member, Jisoo, will soon release her long-awaited first solo project this March. This news was first announced through BLACKPINK’s social media accounts like Instagram and Twitter with a cryptic image that shows a red dress laid flat in a lush green field.
Details of Jisoo’s Me single album, such as tracklist and concept, are expected to be revealed in the upcoming weeks. BLACKPINK is now in the midst of their world tour and will perform in Singapore come May 2023.
From Me solo single album (TBA). Release date: March 31.
K-pop veteran hip-hop trio EPIK HIGH enlists Hwasa, the charismatic and sultry vocalist of MAMAMOO, for their Strawberry mini album’s lead single. The song is multi-faceted, as member Tablo told Billboard. “‘Catch’ has a dual meaning, it can be like, No matter what you do, you can’t catch up to me. At the same time, it’s like, When you’re falling, I want to be there to catch you.”
Although a five-track length record, the featured tunes on the mini album pack a punch. Also appearing in it is GOT7’s Jackson Wang, who lends his vocals to ‘On My Way’.
From Strawberry mini album by EPIK HIGH. Release date: February 1.
After taking part in project girl group GOT the Beat’s Girls On Top sub-unit comeback last month and Girls’ Generation 15th anniversary celebrations last year, soloist Taeyeon tones the mood with a ballad.
The poignant track, produced by Brown Eyed Soul’s Naul, sees Taeyeon delivering an emotional performance with her soulful voice over the moving piano melody.
From Ballad Pop City project single album by Naul. Release date: February 2.
Need something to perk you up? Plug into tunes by SEVENTEEN sub-unit BSS (BooSeokSoon). Fans have also been clamouring for their return since their previous release (and debut) in March 2018.
Comprising of members Boo Seung-kwan, Lee Seok-min (DK), and Kwon Soon-young (Hoshi), the trio’s high-energy songs are mood-boosters and will certainly dispel gloom upon listening. ‘Fighting’, their latest, is a motivational jam that features a contrasting chill rap verse by Show Me The Money 11 winner Lee Young Ji.
From Second Wind single album by BSS (SEVENTEEN). Release date: February 6.
Multi-hyphenate hip-hop artist Jay Park will be dropping a two-track single album on his own label MORE VISION. Consisting of solo track ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Love is Ugly’ featuring MAMAMOO’s Hwasa (who’s indeed popular these days), it has not been revealed which song will be the lead single or both songs will be double A-side singles.
Jay Park was recently seen as a judge on Mnet’s Show Me The Money 11 and appeared at The 37th Golden Disc Awards in Bangkok.
From Yesterday single album. Release date: February 13.
2022 was a busy year for SHINee’s Key, who released his second full-length studio album Gasoline and performed a headlining concert in both Seoul, South Korea and Yokohama, Japan. The latter was his first offline gig in three years.
The veteran K-pop performer proceeds to repackage the successful Gasoline record and renamed it Killer, featuring a lead single of the same name. This dark and retro up-tempo dance track will see Key assume a racer identity to convey regret and pains from a breakup, and looks set to be one of the best new K-pop song releases in 2023.
From Killer repackage full-length studio album. Release date: February 13.
tripleS – a K-pop girl-group whose sub-unit tripleS AAA (Acid Angel from Asia) is one of the promising K-pop rookies that debuted in 2022 – will introduce themselves as a 10-member full group this year. They will include all four members of tripleS AAA and an additional six who will be revealed subsequently on social media.
Expectations will be high as tripleS AAA’s sound went viral on TikTok with their 90s-inspired R&B debut song ‘Generation’.
From ASSEMBLE debut mini album. Release date: February 13.
After shifting their sights to debut in Japan late last year, K-pop girl group STAYC heads back to South Korea with a brand new single album Teddy Bear. Before their Japan debut, the sextet dropped two mini-albums in 2022 – We Need Love and Young-Luv.com led by singles ‘Beautiful Monster’ and ‘RUN2U’ respectively.
The upcoming two-track release will feature lead single Teddy Bear and catchy pre-release single ‘Poppy’, which served as their Japanese debut song.
From Teddy Bear single album. Release date: February 13.
RBW Entertainment girl group PURPLE KISS is set to make a comeback with their fifth mini-album ‘Cabin Fever’. Lead single ‘Sweet Juice’ is reportedly “about breaking free from the bonds that imprison oneself and finding freedom by dancing”.
This marks their first music in seven months since July 2022’s ‘Geekyland’ mini-album which was spearheaded by lead single ‘Nerdy’.
The upcoming release will also be the girl group’s first record as a six-piece from the departure of ex-member Park Ji-eun. Park left the group after experiencing “continuous poor health condition and symptoms of anxiety”, as mentioned by RBW Entertainment.
From Cabin Fever mini-album. Release date: February 15.
THE BOYZ is gearing up for a comeback this month with their eighth mini-album BE AWAKE. The 11-member IST Entertainment boy band even brought forward its release date by a week, which is uncommon for a K-pop release schedule.
This upcoming release will also see the return of member Eric. He will be promoting with the group for the first time since going on a temporary hiatus in March 2022.
From BE AWAKE mini-album. Release date: February 20.
Formerly the main rapper of K-pop girl group AOA, Shin Jimin now promotes as a soloist and will be releasing her debut mini-album BOXES this month.
Prior to preparing for this solo project, Shin took part in JTBC’s reality singing competition show The Second World in 2022 alongside peers like MAMAMOO’s Moonbyul, OHMYGIRL’s Mimi, and Billlie’s Moon Sua.
From BOXES mini-album. Release date: Feb 22.
You may recognise him from the hit K-drama Alchemy of Souls. This year, former NU’EST member Hwang Minhyun will jump back into music and release his debut solo mini-album Truth or Lie.
Hwang has been focusing on his acting career since the disbandment of NU’EST in March 2022. He will also star in upcoming tvN drama Useless Lies, which is scheduled to air later in 2023.
From Truth or Lie debut solo mini album. Release date: Feb 27.
(Hero and feature image credit: TWICE – JYP Entertainment)
This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia