Track 4 K-pop acts who will create a big bang
LAST year was an incredible one for K-pop.
Pioneers of swag Big Bang showed the world that they were still in a league of their own, whether in the role of creative mavericks or style icons.
Girls' Generation's first album as an octet turned out to be such a massive success - everyone's now going "Jessica who?"
I loved the return of rap phenom Psy, pop granddaddies g.o.d and Brown Eyed Girls' unabashedly raunchy tunes.
Then again, we expected nothing less than excellence from these A-listers.
This year looks set to be even better. If the January releases and teasers are any indication, the time has arrived for younger stars to step up their game and set the industry ablaze.
Here are four acts to look out for this year:
FLYING THE K-POP FLAG AT COACHELLA: EPIK HIGH
Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have heard that the hip-hop trio are performing at Coachella in April, a milestone for K-pop.
Yes, that Coachella - the renowned United States music festival where headliners Guns N' Roses are reuniting after 20 years.
Tablo, Mithra Jin and DJ Tukutz have come a long way from Seoul's underground scene to become stalwarts in K-pop, having signed to giant label YG Entertainment.
Make no mistake, the desert valley in southern California is ready for them.
BRINGING SEXY BACK: DAL SHABET AND STELLAR
Female groups with racy, titillating dance routines tend to get a lot of heat from netizens, as well as television networks which have no qualms barring them from performing on screen.
But let's not kid ourselves. Following the onslaught of wholesome rookie groups such as Red Velvet, Twice and Lovelyz - their cheerful, cutesy ways dominated the second half of last year - we kind of miss the overt sexiness of bolder, more mature outfits like Dal Shabet and Stellar.
Well, the good news is they are back.
Dal Shabet dropped a new mini album, Naturalness, earlier this month while Stellar showed off their svelte figures and slender legs in promotional photos for their upcoming release, Stabbed.
K-POP'S NEW COOL CATS: WINNER
To be labelled by the Korean media as "the next Big Bang" when they were mere rookies, the expectations must have been unimaginable.
Yet, instead of buckling under pressure, the suave quintet has grown from strength to strength.
A video teaser for Winner's upcoming studio release Exit Movement boasts some of the coolest, slickest visuals I have seen.
In it, the boys are portrayed as rebellious, hard-partying superstars leading a wild, reckless high life. In one scene, they land themselves, all blurry-eyed, in the back of a police car.
They have also taken a leaf out of seniors Big Bang's book of clever marketing.
Like the latter's MADE album series last year (where singles were released one at a time, across a few months), Exit Movement is billed as a "project" slated to run over the first half of this year.
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