With an influx of solo debuts by K-Pop group members in the first half of 2015, Billboard discusses the best of the best so far.
11. Starting off the list is Crayon Pop’s Soyul with her charming “Y-shirt.” While the song was a nice shift away from Crayon Pop’s typical dance tracks, writer Jeff Benjamin points out that “its charms aren’t enough to make this a standout debut.”
10. Benjamin’s choice for number 10 was SHINee’s Jonghyun in part because his official debut track “Crazy” was “overshadowed by his cleverly titled buzz single “Deja-Boo” on the charts.” While it is true that his two tracks battled it out on the charts, Jonghyun swept music show wins with “Deja Boo” while “Crazy” was the most watched K-Pop music video in January.
9. Coming in at number nine was T-ara’s Eunjung who debuted as Elsie with “I’m Good” featuring K.Will. While Eunjung shared many troubles she faced following T-ara’s longstanding bullying scandal, she hoped to step away from that image with her solo. However, as Benjamin points out, “K.Will feels more like the star in what could have been Eunjung’s breakout moment.”
8. Girl’s Day‘s Minah was number eight on the list with Benjamin citing that the solo debut was simply “slight genre exploration” for the Girl’s Day main vocalist. Meanwhile, Girl’s Day recently made a comeback with “Ring My Bell” which achieved an all kill on real time charts following it’s release.
7. Block B‘s Taeil debuted with “Inspiring” that was praised as nothing less than its title though Benjamin points out that the music video is “a bit distracting overall and begins to feel like the song is being dragged on too long.” Meanwhile, Block B recently released a bright music video for the Japanese version of “Her.”
6. BEAST‘s Hyunseung debuted with “Ma First” featuring Giriboy with a “forward-thinking piece with a sonic-shifting production making the single a musical triumph.” During his promotions for his solo track, Hyunseung reunited with the group he competed to debut with, BIGBANG, after 8 years. Meanwhile, BEAST recently released a nostalgic teaser revealing plans about their first comeback of the year.
5. f(x)‘s Amber rocked the K-Pop world with her funky, upbeat debut track “Shake That Brass” and showcased her unexpected vocal talent with her viral ballad “Beautiful.” Benjamin points out that not only did Amber have a powerful debut, she “earns extra points for her composing this; showcasing herself in a new role of pop producer.” Meanwhile, f(x) is currently in preparations to comeback as a 4 member group following Sulli‘s leave.
4. CNBLUE‘s Vocalist Yonghwa‘s “One Fine Day” found international success as his debut EP not only featured “an awe-inducing ballad and a nice change-up for Yong Hwa” but also increased his international fanbase as Taiwan-based Singaporean singer JJ Lin was featured on the release.
3. Starting off the top 3 is Teen Top‘s Niel‘s “Lovekiller” and Benjamin puts it best saying, “The single is more or less a tribute to Michael Jackson, but what makes it more than a cheesy rehash is how it also sounds like something MJ himself would have released.”
2. After School and Orange Caramel’s Lizzy is the only soloist on the list that debuted with a trot song and it seems she’s found her niche. With her debut single “I’m Not an Easy Girl,” Benjamin complimented her saying, “Not only did the singing style fit Lizzy’s tone, but the mix of old-school music with a modern twist made the actual song a knockout too.”
1. Topping off the list is none other than K-Pop Star Season 1 winner and half of JYP Entertainment‘s powerful vocal duo 15&‘s Jimin Park! Her soulful ballad showcased a more emotional side and drew on her strong vocals as she “sings with an emotional gusto and vulnerability unheard in previous 15& tracks and indicates huge promise for the type of vocalist she’ll be as her voice continues to mature.”
Did any of these rankings surprise you? Check out all that Jeff Benjamin had to say in his original Billboard article. Who is your favorite soloist of 2015 so far?