December 2017 is already well on its way, and Christmas is only about two weeks away. But before we get into holiday jingles and tunes that bring out our jolly spirits, let’s revisit some of the best underground releases of November—because God knows there have been quite a few that I, unfortunately, missed in the past few weeks.
GIRIBOY feat. Kim Seungmin — “TV Star”
The most recent out of the four tracks on this list, “TV Star” is an EDM song like we’ve rarely heard from indie hip-hop artist and renowned producer GIRIBOY. Don’t get me wrong—this isn’t the first time he’s meddled with the genre, but never has he released a track with such a heavy influence of it. Released on November 25, “TV Star” has a great and catchy dance beat and an even catchier chorus, where GIRIBOY sings, contrasting with the rap he delivers in the first verse. Underground rapper Kim Seungmin takes over for the second verse—and boy, is he talented! Kim Seungmin isn’t a name I’ve come across before, but the verse he delivers in “TV Star” is memorable with its swift and rhythmic flow.
Hanhae feat. Hani — “Eyes”
Couldn’t get enough of Hani’s vocals on EXID’s latest release? Worry not—the singer features in the brand new single “Eyes” by Hanhae, out since November 24. However, Hanhae truly steals the spotlight for most of the song, and we’re not exactly mad about it—quite the opposite, actually. The rapper has an unparalleled flow, as he’s proved time and time again through various releases (notably the excellent “I Used To” from 2016, or the 2015 mini-album 365). It’s always a pleasure to listen to his rap, but “Eyes” also lets him show off some of his best vocals in this pop-influenced R&B number, making for a nice surprise in the track. Pairing Hani’s sultry voice with the quiet guitar that opens and follows throughout the entire song results in a strong, undeniably catchy tune for the winter.
Hoody — “Can’t Wait”
What would this list be without Hoody’s latest single? Titled “Can’t Wait” and available since November 17, the singer shows off the best of her impressive vocals in this slow-paced, piano-driven R&B track. The first (and still the only) woman signed to Jay Park’s independent label AOMG, Hoody has one of the strongest voices I’ve heard in R&B in a long time; her lower range is just as powerful and strongly delivered as her high notes and falsettos, and there’s just something about her style and voice that fits the genre perfectly. “Can’t Wait” walks the thin line between a pop-sounding single and a ballad, so it doesn’t do much musically; the beat is very static, and the melody rarely varies. Yet, Hoody manages to wrap us around her little finger with her voice alone, giving the song more rhythm and variation as she sings and delves into lower tones and higher notes. The result is stunning, to say the least.
NELL & GroovyRoom — “Today”
Last but definitely not least, one of the best singles we’ve gotten from the underground scene is “Today,” the (rather unusual) collaboration track between rock band NELL and producing duo GroovyRoom, also released on November 17. Rather than leaning towards hip-hop and R&B, as GroovyRoom tends to do, the duo instead decided to give NELL a song with more of an EDM touch—like they’ve done with Hyolyn and Changmo’s track “Blue Moon,” though it is not quite as strong in “Today.” You can still hear the keys, the guitars, and the drums that are characteristic of NELL’s music, while also hearing that added plus of GroovyRoom’s producing work. The song makes for quite an emotional and comforting journey; the lyrics depict that bittersweet yet inexplicable feeling of being sad—similar to feelings usually associated with depression. But as the chorus goes, “Today, it’s just that kind of day,” and we hope that, in a short while, we’ll feel better. I don’t think there’s a way to know that exactly—who knows what the future holds—but the hopeful tone of the melody definitely helps the listener stay optimistic.