Episode 3

2020 Rookie Roundup 3

An Album a Day is my exploration into the Korean music scene. This podcast will cover mainstream, indie and some underground artists within the scene and provide both factual and opinionated commentary. The biggest benefit to sharing my thoughts this way is that it will hopefully expose you to more great music and exploration of your own.

Welcome back to Rookie Roundup for 2020 Korean idol groups. It’s a day for the gentlemen only, as today’s lineup is E’LAST, ENHYPEN, Ghost9, H&D (한결,도현), and Lucy, right after the drop.

You’re tuned into An Album a Day. Show start.

Hey y’all, curl up with a soft blanket, good book, and a cuppa (British: “cup of”) for the first group, E’Last. Making their debut on June 9, 2020, on E Entertainment, this eight-member boy group is revitalizing. Think crisp winter air, morning rain, or how your nostrils kind of open up when toothpaste first hits your mouth. On two albums five months apart, the young men have a wonderful ballad sound. Don’t get me wrong, they made the mandatory pop track for their second album, but that’s it -- there’s only one track squeezed between soothing tracks and delightful vocals. E’Last, short for “everlasting,” took to YouTube to build a respectable fanbase before their debut, uploading weekly videos to showcase their unique colors. And, much like many other groups, we’ll be talking about from third and fourth generations, some of their members have had survival show experience. Ultimately, if you wish to feel like you’re in a K-drama montage, go with these guys.

I genuinely didn’t realize that ENHYPEN only made their debut on November 30, 2020. I swore that their name was making the rounds for much longer than that. This is possibly because the seven-member boy band was first a part of the survival show I-Land? Whatever the case may be, within the fandom and commentary spaces I frequent, this group is talked about. Developed on Belift Lab, a collaboration between CJ ENM and Big Hit Entertainment, their debut EP sounds wonderful -- production is crisp and clean and the young gents sit within the tracks, never chasing after it nor being overpowered by the music. Ah yes, their name. At one point, they were going with the English letters EN and the hyphen symbol, but their name is to imply connection. I don’t know what the “en” is for, and I don’t think I ever will, but I enjoyed listening to them. That was not an intended joke.

Ghost9 of Maroo Entertainment was formed in 2019 but made their debut on September 23, 2020. The nine guys vocally sound like ENHYPEN but the music production isn’t the same at all. That’s the major distinction for many artists on smaller labels -- the vocals might excel but the access to more competitive production sounds is limited. It was so off-putting for me on most of their tracks that I could have honestly gone with an acapella album from them. They come in with enticing introductions and then drop into an area that isn’t fully realized but it didn’t stop Ghost9 from earning a respectable peak position on the Korean music charts with their first of two EPs. In short, this is a group with awesome singers but in order to stick around long-term, their label will have to bring in production reinforcement. 

Well, this is interesting. H&D (한결,도현) is a subunit of boy group BAE173 who made their debut on April 21, 2020. The duo consists of Lee Han Gyul, who has a singing voice that’s more mature than his age, and rapper Nam Do Hyon. If you look up more information about the two of them, I can promise you that Han Gyul’s story will get a reaction out of you. That being said, they are a great combo and everything they released prior to their BAE173 debut is worth your time.

Last, is four-member live band Lucy who made their debut on May 8, 2020, on Mystic Story. Named after a neighborhood dog that would visit them to play in between practicing their craft, Lucy accompanies their vocals with a violin, guitar, piano, drummer, bassist, and producer. String instruments are my favorite and this much string magic and production means that I’ll be following them! I don’t know if I want to keep them on repeat or send them tracks for consideration. Their debut album is great because of the invigorating sound of living, breathing instruments. 

I must admit that today’s groups provided me with a magical listening experience overall. Coming off a long day of work and unwinding with their music was just what I needed. Maybe some of their music will do the same for you? As with previous rookies, none are added to the respective playlists, keeping in fairness with providing them time to gain albums under their belts. Check-in tomorrow for more Rookie Roundup! I’ll catch you in the next episode, bye y’all.

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About the Podcast

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An Album a Day
A Review of Every Album in K-pop

About your host

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Ashley Borjon

Ashley is a content creator, educator, and public speaker. As an authority on the Hallyu phenomenon, she has collaborated on projects and events with various domestic and international companies and brands as a music historian. As the host of An Album a Day, she leads an English-language podcast promoting commentary on South Korean pop music.