The last few years have seen countless K-pop acts abandon Japan for China as the hallyu wave shifted countries, but Apink aren’t one of them.
Since making their Japanese debut in 2014, the girls have enjoyed a respectable amount of success and released some really fun tunes like “Brand New Days” and “Summer Time.”
The angelic group’s latest “Bye Bye” is easily their best yet. Produced by Shinsadong Tiger, who has been behind almost all of Apink’s major singles, the melancholy mid-tempo follows Apink's classic formula to a T with early noughties bubblegum beats and an addictive post-chorus instrumental refrain. It’s essentially a springtime version of their most popular hit “LUV,” which is certainly not a bad thing.
Being so similar to Apink’s Korean-language music, I wasn’t surprised to find out that “Bye Bye” had originally been created as the title track from the group’s last album, Pink Revolution. Instead, they went with the R&B-ish, Black Eyed Pilseung-produced “Only One,” which became the lowest-selling lead single of their career.
Now, I’m a huge supporter of “Only One.” In fact, I think it’s one of the greatest Apink tracks ever. It pushed the group in a more mature direction whilst still staying true to their signature style, and it would’ve been praised as a ‘90s throwback bop had BLACKPINK or Red Velvet recorded it. But the release of “Bye Bye” has got me thinking: Should they have released it instead of “Only One”?
Despite being a bit of a rehash, “Bye Bye” probably would’ve been heralded as the second “Luv,” a song even non-Apink fans seem to adore. But if “Bye Bye” would’ve made a better, more successful Korean comeback than “Only One” it also means that most K-pop listeners simply don’t want to see Apink grow up. If they did, then “Only One” would’ve done far better than it did.
With Apink planning a mid-year comeback, it’ll be very interesting to see if the girls continue to push their more mature direction, or if they regress back to the same Shinsadong Tiger tunes that have worked so well for them in the past.
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