meta-script15 K-Pop Soloists To Know: Chung Ha, Taeyeon, BIBI & More |
(From left): Sunmi, Taeyeon, BoA, Chung Ha, Ailee

Photo: All images by The Chosunilbo JNS/Imazins via Getty Images except Sunmi (Han Myung-Gu/WireImage) and Ailee (JTBC PLUS/Imazins via Getty Images


15 K-Pop Soloists To Know: Chung Ha, Taeyeon, BIBI & More

Women in K-pop are consistently creating new paradigms in the genre. From BoA to Sunmi, CL and Lee Hyori, get to know 15 trailblazing K-pop solo artists who have broken the mold.

GRAMMYs/Mar 18, 2024 - 01:09 pm

In the music video for her 2018 single "Woman," BoA, the "Queen of K-pop," enters the scene walking upside down. Poised and commanding, BoA's posture conveys a majestic confidence — she's dauntless and defying gravity. 

"No comparing, I shine just as I am/ I'm beautiful enough/To be a woman," she sings in the opening verse. "In a stylish and modern picture/ I'm enjoying this adventure/ A true woman.

It's a galvanizing anthem of self-love, encouraging women to own their identities and practice sorority to encourage change. BoA's message resonates deeply, especially considering the ways the K-pop industry often places rigid standards and limitations on its female artists. 

BoA is just one of a handful of K-pop soloists who are taking the rains of their artistry and motivating others to do the same. These artists are shattering the glass ceiling, establishing music labels, and consistently breaking records to create new paradigms in K-pop. 

In celebration of Women's History Month, get to know 15 inspiring K-pop soloists who are revolutionizing the K-pop landscape.

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Contemporary K-pop cannot be considered without BoA's cultural influence. Entering the industry at only 13 years old, the artist born Kwon Bo-ah debuted in September 2000 under the wing of SM Entertainment with the album ID; Peace B

She forged ahead in Japan's music market, breaking barriers — especially if we consider the fragile diplomatic relationship between both countries — and making history as the first Korean artist to reign at No.1 in the Oricon Charts.

She also became one of the first Korean artists to venture into the American market, releasing her debut English single, "Eat You Up," in 2008 and starring in the film Make Your Move. By the time of her seventh Korean album, Only One, BoA was wielding creative control over her oeuvre and was creating her own compositions.

Her performance was also unique. The choreography of "Only One" is a staple piece in her repertoire, as it includes a section where she dances with a partner, and some of the magnetic performers in K-pop — SHINee's Taemin, Eunhyuk from Super Junior, Hwang Minhyun, TVXQ's Yunho, Ten from NCT and WayV, to name a few — have shared the stage with her.

It's a combative spirit, an overflowing versatility, superb dancing skills and a honeyed voice that makes BoA a complete artist. In perfect alignment with Women's History Month, BoA will deliver her next project March 26.


If you want to understand IU's impact in the Korean music industry, check the South Korean charts. Chances are, when IU has a project, she will be immovable at the top with not just one song, but several. 

The world first met IU (real name Lee Ji-eun) at age 15 with her debut mini-album, Lost and Found, and its titular song, "Lost Child," a striking ballad built on yearning. IU's popularity only increased, as did praise for her unique vocal technique and artistic range. So, when she dropped her prismatic third studio album in 2013, Modern Times, it was clear that IU had grown into an unstoppable force. At the same time, she flourished as an actress, embodying complex characters that displayed her histrionic capability. 

IU welcomed her 30s with a revamped mindset, understanding that it's best to enjoy life unrestrained. Her latest EP, The Winning (released on Feb. 20), symbolizes this passage. To the delight of her international fans, she recently embarked on her first world tour, which will wrap up in the U.S. with six-sold out concerts.


Timeless and graceful are just a couple of words that could describe Kim Taeyeon, once the best-selling female K-pop soloist and the leader of the history-making act, Girls' Generation. Her powerful, yet heartwarming voice naturally adapts to any composition while always maintaining its character.

In 2007, Taeyeon debuted as a member of Girls' Generation, a girl group who were key players in the diffusion of the Hallyu Wave (the cultural torrent that globalized the South Korean entertainment industry). Her star began to burn even brighter with the release of her first EP, I, in 2015. Subsequent releases, such as her studio debut album My Voice, her fourth Korean EP What Do I Call You, and her third studio album INVU, cemented her status as one of the greatest singers in the K-pop sphere. 

At the end of 2023, Taeyeon released her fifth mini-album, To.X, its title track conveying sentiments of breaking away from a waning and toxic relationship.


Younha's career has been a process of rapid movements. Once ignored by South Korean agencies who deemed her not "pretty enough," she subverted expectations by achieving mainstream recognition in both South Korea and Japan. Her weapons? Her piano, an unwavering determination and her songwriting mastery.

Raised by artist parents, Younha's love for music was present from an early age. After several rejections, she tried her luck in Japan, a decision that brought her an impressive outcome; she was even called the "Oricon Comet" for cracking the top spots of the Japanese chart. Back in her home country, she also broke into the Top 10 on local music charts with songs like "Unacceptable" and a re-imagined version of "Umbrella," featuring Tablo from Epik High.

Though not everything has been smooth-sailing for Younha, as she had to face a legal battle with her former label. Still, the storm passed. In 2022, Younha released the viral hit "Event Horizon," a touching composition that dominated the Circle Digital Chart, South Korea’s most notable music ranking.

Lee Hyori

Lee Hyori debuted in 1998 as the leader of the Fink.L, a first-gen girl group. But by 2003, Lee Hyori's name was everywhere in South Korea. That summer, she debuted as a soloist with Stylish…, led by the R&B-infused track "10 minutes." The record, along with her sensual and magnetic stage presence, propelled her popularity and trailblazer status.

Lee Hyori is the architect of her discography. She employed her own compositions and lyrics prominently in her last two productions: 2015's Monochrome and 2017's Black. Both releases were more developed and riskier musically, flirting with different genres without losing cohesion.

Following the success of Stylish…, Hyori also began branching out into acting, TV hosting and guest appearances in variety shows. 

Uhm Junghwa

Uhm Junghwa has created a long-standing queendom of brilliance. Over three decades, she has developed a chameleonic identity that easily navigates and dominates different genres and forms.

Her first steps in the music industry could be considered lukewarm to some extent, but she experienced a boost with the release of her second studio album, Uhm Jung Hwa 2. Uhm Junghwa early shared her sensual image in the music video for lead single, "Sad Expectation," and has continued expanding throughout the years. Other singles, such as "Rose of Betrayal," a dance-heavy number that calls out a treacherous lover, and the mega-hit "Invitation," reinforced this artistic direction. 

By 2010, her impact in the Korean entertainment industry was undeniable, as she built a prosperous acting career and as a soloist. While thyroid cancer prompted her to put suspensive dots on her music ventures, she made a triumphant comeback in 2017 with her tenth full-length album, The Cloud Dream Of The Nine. 


Born Lee Chaerin, "The Baddest Female" CL first rose to prominence during K-pop's second generation as the leader and main rapper of the celebrated quartet 2NE1. Rounded out by Dara, Minzy and Park Bom, 2NE1 shifted the perception about women in K-pop with bold and empowering tunes. 

While still promoting with her group, CL also stepped into the solo spotlight in 2013. Her spirited single, "The Baddest Female," confidently declared, "I'm a queen bee, I'm the heroine."

She later released "Hello Bitches" and "Lifted," the latter being her debut single in the United States. But in 2017, 2NE1 disbanded and CL remained under YG Entertainment until 2019. In a power move, CL founded her own entertainment company called Very Cherry in 2020, aiming to reclaim her solo career that stalled due to mismanagements from both her American and Korean representatives. To much expectation, CL finally dropped her first studio album, Alpha, in 2021. 


Sunmi's creative lexicon is synonymous with daydreaming, immersing listeners to her eclectic soundworld developed over two decades. Her first steps were taken as part of Wonder Girls, the first Korean act to break into Billboard's Hot 100, before reaching an eventual hiatus in 2010 to focus on her education. 

Sunmi continued honing her skills stealthily until 2013, when she debuted solo with the digital single "24 Hours." The song, later included in the haunting 2014 EP Full Moon, illustrated Sunmi's evolution into a more mature and captivating artist.

She would also return to Wonder Girls in 2015 for their final chapter and celebrated full-length album Reboot, and the digital singles "Why So Lonely'' and "Draw Me." When the group dissolved in 2017, Sunmi signed with MAKEUS Entertainment and soon dropped "Gashina," an eccentric and vivacious record.

Always the innovator, Sunmi shapeshifted again with a template called "Sunmi-pop." She works with throwback inspirations, taking sonic textures mostly from the '80s, and combining them with modern pop to bring vivid compositions. Take, for example, the scintillating instrumental or "Siren," or "ppporappippam" and all its synth-pop thrill. With Sunmi, we never know what to expect, and yet, once a new release unveils, we can't help but conclude, "it is very her." 

Jung Eunji

Jung Eunji is one of the most gifted vocalists in the K-pop industry with a wide-ranging tessitura. A member of Apink, one of the few active second generation girl groups, Eunji went solo in 2016. Her debut  EP, Dream, is a tender and melancholic production that contrasts with Apink's glimmering beats.

She refined this particular style on mini-albums The Space and Hyehwa, which were filled with a subtle hopefulness. Her most recent solo offering, Log, was a remake album released in November 2022. 

Eunji has been focused on other aspects of her artistry beyond music. She earned a special place in people's hearts with her stellar performance in the television drama "Reply 1997," where she played an avid K-pop fan named Sung Shiwon. The role would mark a before and an after in Eunji's career, as she received critical acclaim and bagged several awards.


With the goal of making music her profession, Denver-born Ailee moved South Korea in 2010. Her rich, warm vocal stylings were noticed almost immediately, landing her a record deal with YMC Entertainment, where she began preparing her debut as soloist with the single "Heaven." Just as she bewitched her recruiters, Ailee's talent percolated through the ears of listeners who eagerly embraced her music. Because listening to her sing is feeling the heart invaded with a myriad of emotions simultaneously.

Over the years, she has lent her voice to soundtracks of famous South Korean dramas and collaborated with an impressive roster of artists. Her discography currently stands at six EPs and four studio albums (including 2022's Amy, recorded entirely in English), most productions received awards that highlighted her vocal abilities.


"I hope I won't be like a diva," singer/songwriter Heize said in an interview, referring to her never losing touch with reality and always being humble. It's fitting, as she exudes an irresistible genuineness while inhabiting a duality of voice. When she raps, her tone hardens without losing its glacé, and her singing is mellifluous.

Heize was a semifinalist on the second season of famous reality rap show "Unpretty Rapstar" and earned popularity for her unique artistry. Treating "her songs as a diary," Heize's lyrics often detail love stories with distinct endings. She also has contributed to soundtracks of popular South Korean dramas, including "You Are Cold" from the Netflix-helmed series "It's Ok Not To Be Ok" and "Round and Round" from "Goblin: The Lonely and Great God." Heize is currently signed under P Nation, a music label founded by K-pop legend Psy

Yerin Baek

Known for her evocative voice and raw lyricism, Yerin Baek entered the spotlight in 2007 by participating in the reality show "Amazing Contest Star King," which led her to sign with the industry juggernaut JYP Entertainment. There, she trained for seven years prior to her debut as one-half of the K-pop duo 15& alongside Jimin Park.

In 2015, Yerin Baek released her first mini album EP, Frank, succeeded by a string of digital singles, collaborations with other Korean artists, and soundtrack features, including the ballad "Here I Am Again" from the popular Korean drama, "Crash Landing On You." Shortly after revealing Our Love Is Great, her second EP, in March 2019, Yerin Baek left JYP Entertainment and established her label Blue Vinyl, which also houses Baek's rock band The Volunteers. 

There are few women in K-pop at the helm of their own company, which allows Yerin Baek more agency over her craft. Without her image controlled or suppressed, she has an extensive artistic freedom rare for female musicians.

Lee Hi

Lee Hi has embraced the limelight since her teenage years, enticing listeners with her soulful vocals. At 16, she placed second on the televised competition, "K-pop Star 1,"  and shortly after, she joined the ranks of YG Entertainment (home to BLACKPINK). Her debut was a jazz-infused single, "1, 2, 3, 4." 

Lee Hi's work comes at a steady but selective pace, with productions typically arriving in two or three years intervals. Her debut album, First Love, arrived in 2013, and her second studio album, Seoulite, followed three years later under YG's subsidiary HIGHGRND. 

The sophomore effort was led by "Breathe," a poignant ballad written and composed by SHINee's Jonghyun. The track reached the No.1 on the South Korean charts, and Lee Hi would perform it at the 32nd Golden Disk Awards as a tribute for Jonghyun, who passed away in November 2017. 

In 2019, Lee Hi released her first EP, 24°C, the last project of her career backed by YG Entertainment, before moving to the R&B label AOMG that same year. 

Chung Ha

An alum of the extinct reality competition "Produce 101" and former member of the popular yet temporary girl group I.O.I, Chung Ha has enchanted the K-pop world with her beautiful stage presence since day one. 

Following I.O.I's disbandment at the beginning of 2017, she took a leap of faith by choosing to be a soloist instead of joining another group — and debuted with her first mini-album, Hands on Me. But ChungHa's watershed moment arrived with "Roller Coaster," the lead single from her second EP Offset, where she sings about an electrifying love. 

Her first full-length album, Querencia, was diverse, even releasing a duet with Puerto Rican singer Guaynaa called "Demente," completely sung in Spanish. In 2022, she released her second LP, Bare and Rare, before parting ways with her then-agency MNH Entertainment.

What followed was a quiet period where she pondered about her next move. In a guest appearance at MBC's "Point of Omniscient Interfere," ChungHa confessed she considered studying abroad and staying away from industry due to burnout. But following the advice of Korean American rapper Jay Park, she ended up signing with his label More Vision. After almost two years, she released the single album EENIE MEENIE in March 2024, its title track featuring ATEEZ's Hongjoong.


The youngest member of this list at 25, BIBI is a rising star in Korean music known for her nonchalant poise and carefree musicality. Emerging outside the borders of K-pop's training system, her songwriting skills caught the attention of the Korean hip-hop legend Yoon Mirae, who recruited her to be part of Tiger JK's label Feel Ghood Music. 

BIBI's catalog — two extended plays and one full-length — is peppered with existential tales of love and afflictions, and she doesn't shy away from speaking her mind. It's a formula that has resonated with local and global listeners, who fall for the charm of her authenticity. At the tail end of 2023, BIBI joined forces with Becky G to release the provocative, multilingual collaboration, "Amigos," and most recently, her single "Bam Yang Gang" swept the South Korean Charts.

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Chung Ha
Chung Ha



Chung Ha Returns: On 'EENIE MEENIE,' The K-Pop Soloist Is Ready To Step Back Into The Spotlight

Chung Ha was one of K-pop’s most promising soloists, but decided to step back from the industry. Upon her return, Chung Ha wants to tell her fans "that they have the freedom to choose."

GRAMMYs/Mar 12, 2024 - 01:26 pm

It takes courage to become a soloist in K-pop — a scene largely dominated by girl groups and boy groups of the most varied sizes — but more than that, it takes verve. Singer, dancer, and songwriter Chung Ha, 28 years old, knows it better than anyone.

Born in Seoul, South Korea but raised in Dallas, Texas, she first rose to stardom in 2016, after  returning to her home country and participating in Mnet’s trainee competition show "Produce 101." There, Chung Ha caught the eyes of judges and viewers alike for her sharp movements and innate charisma. She placed fourth on the finale, and became a member of I.O.I — the show’s resulting temporary girl group.

While I.O.I and its 11 members found great success, when the group disbanded in early 2017, Chung Ha decided to challenge herself further. In June of that year, she released her solo debut EP, Hands On Me

Soon, Chung Ha became one of K-pop’s most promising (and somewhat unexpected) soloists — not only did she prove to be an exceptional dancer, but a smooth vocalist as well, full of style and star power. On stage, she commands performances with surgical precision, yet flows with breathtaking grace. She proved her versatility with a string of captivating singles, like the ice-cold "Snapping" and the bewitching "Gotta Go," which reached No.1 on Billboard’s K-pop Hot 100 chart in 2019. Her first studio album, 2021’s Querencia, blended R&B, EDM, reggaeton and even bossa nova with finesse.

But amidst all the success, Chung Ha took a break. She decided not to renew the contract with her previous label, spent more than a year on a hiatus, and even considered abandoning the music industry, as revealed on the YouTube talk show "Gabee’s Rising Star"

Luckily, Chung Ha changed her mind. She signed with MORE VISION, a label founded by singer and rapper Jay Park, and will drop the single album EENIE MEENIE on March 11. caught up with Chung Ha via Zoom to learn more about her comeback — and to dive into her creative process, how she sees herself, and who she wants to be.

You spent more than a year on a hiatus, and even left your previous company. What made you sign with MORE VISION for this new phase of your career?

Jay [Park] reached out to me often. When I talked to the other co-workers at the company, their vision really aligned with mine. I think that was a crucial reason.

For example, I've never toured. I want to start out in small venues, and if I do have a chance I want to make it bigger. I want to work on more collaborations and try different genres of music like [on] "EENIE MEENIE," and they're aligned with me on that.

On "Gabee’s Rising Star," you said that you wanted to study abroad during your hiatus, and that being a celebrity is "just a job." What made you want to come back to music?

I was always interested in psychology. Working in this industry, it's a little chaotic, so I tried to maintain my mental health by [attending] counseling, and then I felt like I wanted to maintain my mental health on my own.

And growing up in Texas, I always had my Mexican friends with me, but I was the only one unable to understand Spanish. I was always interested, but [the break] felt like it was the right time to embrace Spanish more. I wanted to dive into the culture and the language, but at the end of the day, it was all about me maintaining my mental health because I wanted to be in this industry. Me wanting to explore Spanish because I wanted to engage more with my fans. I just realized, Oh, it was all about music. Okay. [Laughs.]

Since your last comeback, in what areas do you think you have improved or evolved?

Um… I don't know. I'm gonna need to have a real [live] stage for that. I think that's the kind of question I want to ask my fans to see what gradual changes that they notice, because for me, I feel like I'm still the same. But I want to tap myself [on the back] for trying new genres and being brave about getting out of my comfort zone.

What did you have in mind when you started producing this new album? What's the story behind it?

I was really confused. I was asking people, like, "I don't know what to do. I don't know what's next for me."I feel like I've tried different genres of music and different colors of myself, like "Bicycle," "Play," "Love U," and "Roller Coaster."

I didn't know what to do, so I decided to show both sides of myself. A new [side] with MORE VISION, and the one people are always eager to see, like [on] "Stay Tonight" and "Dream Of You." Those were some of the biggest [songs] that I saw people commenting on. So, the familiar side of me and a new side of me are both in the album, and I'm pretty confident [about it].

You collaborated with Hongjoong from ATEEZ in the lead track "EENIE MEENIE," which represents that new side of yourself. How was that experience?

I have followed ATEEZ since the beginning of their career. Their performance is so mind-blowing, they have that special energy that only they can give, so I was always inspired by them.

And then, on "EENIE MEENIE" there is a rap part, so when I heard the track I was like, Oh, I am not rapping. [Laughs.] That's just too new for me. I sing-rap in "EENIE MEENIE," but that’s about it. So, I needed a real rapper and a real captain on my side and I thought Hongjoong was a perfect fit. After I heard his verse, it was so great, more than I ever expected. He definitely gave that final touch.

The other song on your album, "I’m Ready," represents your familiar side with driving house beats and a mesmerizing atmosphere, almost like a sequel to "Stay Tonight" and "Dream of You." As for the title, what are you ready for?

I guess I'm navigating through new things, and I don't know how it's gonna come out. [People] might say it's a failure, they might say it's a success, they might say I'm brave to challenge myself, but I'm just ready to face all that. 

Even though someone might say, "Oh, I don't think it's the right fit for Chung Ha" or "I liked the old Chung Ha better," I don't think I'm afraid of getting judged, or getting rates on anything. I'm just ready to be more adventurous. Being too nervous might drag you into this anxiety space, but just being nervous in general with music and releasing new things is what makes me keep going.

I think people need that nervous feeling, being out of their comfort zone. You never know how you're going to feel, how the outcome is going to be. 

Do you remember any specific experiences where you were trying something new and it turned out better than expected?

Oh, "Stay Tonight"was one of them. When I first heard the track, I was like, Um… this is too high. I don't know if K-pop lovers will like this song, because it was more [Western] pop than K-pop. It was right after I dropped "Snapping"and "Gotta Go," so I was like, Are my fans ready for this? 

But [I thought] hey, you know what, let's just have fun. Let's just try new things. Let's vogue. [Laughs] I've always wanted to vogue, so I did that, and it became one of my epic pieces of performance. It didn’t go big in the charts or anything, but it became a real standout from a more artistic point of view.

EENIE MEENIE represents a new start for you, and both songs in the album talk about trusting yourself and your choices. Since you participated in the songwriting, is that what you have been experiencing lately? How do you recognize what feels right for you?

I feel like you never know what's right, but for me, I decide [something] when it keeps on popping in my head. Like, I would just be calm and see where my mind goes and what my [fandom] HAART keeps on telling me. 

If your heart moves that way, I’d rather just do it and regret, than not do it and regret. That’s how I trust my instincts, listening to what I really want.

You mentioned that you see K-pop and Western pop as one. What do you think about the global growth of K-pop, and Western artists trying K-pop, or artists collaborating?

I think it's wonderful. I mean, the only difference is the culture and the language, and how we make our music with different rules and stuff. And it's really awesome [to see] other artists trying out Korean, trying out the marketing strategy of what we have always done. But it's the same with Korean artists, they try to go abroad and then try Western music.

Trying different cultures is getting more natural than splitting what's K-pop and what’s pop. I think it's all gathering into one because music is one, and we love music.

Is it easier for you to see everything as one because you are Korean, but you lived in America for so many years?

Yes, I think it was more natural for me to try different things. It was fun to get to know things like, Oh, this is Western style music, Western marketing strategy, or Western businesses, it goes on like this, and then Korean businesses go on like this. So it's all about learning.

You mentioned in an interview with Teen Vogue that you like to portray characters in your songs, but recently you have been telling your own story in them as well. How do you find the balance between those two possibilities?

I don't initially choose what to do before I hear the music. I hear it first, and then decide, like Oh, I want to share a story of mine, because I have this experience and my current state of mind is this, but sometimes it's just Oh, this is a new character I've never tried before. I want to be her, or I want to be him, or whatever. Let me try that out, let me see what it tastes like. [Laughs.] When new music comes to me, whatever character, whatever story comes up first, I would go with that.

And for this album, are you a character or are you portraying your life story?

I’m portraying my life story in both songs. I had a lot of choices to make throughout the beginning of my new career [after leaving my former company], like choosing a label, choosing a new logo, choosing songs, and other things, but in the end I just like what I like to do. 

I came back to the music industry, and I really want people to embrace whatever they want to do. To tell them that they have the freedom to choose more than predetermined answers. I wanted to encourage that.

In another moment of your interview on "Gabee’s Rising Star," you said "When people think of Chung Ha, all that comes to mind is ‘Gotta Go’."Do you still believe in that?

Yes, and no. But I’m very grateful, because that song is what elevated me to the next step, and it gave me the courage to try different genres of music. But "Stay Tonight" and other pieces of music also identify me in different ways.

Who is Chung Ha, then? How would you like to be recognized?

Definitely not "Gotta Go." [Laughs.] I'm not that person now. I'm just a girl who loves music, and I'm just grateful and thankful, always. As much as I was diligent before, I want to keep on doing that, and I want to meet my fans more.

As Chung Ha, I want to ask my fans who they think I am, because I try to be as authentic as possible with music and my personality. Also I'm an adventurous person. Love to challenge myself. And I’m ready to go.

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New Music Friday November 17 Hero
Bibi and Becky G

Photo: Amy Lee


New Music Friday: Listen To New Songs From Andre 3000, Drake, Ozuna & More

From long-awaited debut albums to surprising singles, listen to these six new releases from Nov. 17.

GRAMMYs/Nov 17, 2023 - 06:54 pm

With Thanksgiving around the corner, this New Music Friday offers us a feast of new sounds from some of the music industry’s biggest artists.

Country star Maren Morris teamed up with Teddy Swims for a passionate duet version of his song "Some Things I'll Never Know," while Steve Aoki & ERNEST paired up for an energetic dance/country crossver, "Us," from Aoki’s HiROQUEST 2: Double Helix.

American band Bleachers unleash their wild side with "Alma Matter," from their upcoming self-titled album dropping March 8, 2024. Meanwhile, alternative rock band Bad Suns released their catchy, six-track EP Infinite Joy. Across the pond, long-time British rockers Madness released their 13th album, Theatre Of the Absurd Presents C’Est La Vie.

With sultry sounds from R&B songstress Ari Lennox to mellow, indie rhythms from Dermot Kennedy to upbeat, radiant vibes from the duo Surfaces, this Friday brings a kaleidoscope of sounds from across every genre. 

Along with the slew of releases mentioned above, press play on releases from the likes of André 3000, Drake, Ozuna, Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, Danny Brown, and Bibi and Becky G — and be sure to add some new sounds to your rotation.

André 3000 - New Blue Sun

If you’ve seen Andre 3000’s impromptu flute performances in the past few years, then the GRAMMY winner's new sound won’t come as a shock. On his eight-track debut solo album New Blue Sun, the Outkast member experiments with wind instruments and percussion, creating serene and melodic compositions.

Across eight elaborately titled tracks  — "I swear, I Really Wanted To Make A "Rap" Album But This Is Literally The Way The Wind Blew Me This Time" and "That Night In Hawaii When I Turned Into A Panther And Started Making These Low Registered Purring Tones That I Couldn’t Control… Shyt Was Wild," — Andre details his artistic journey and the possibility of returning to rap music. Because, as Andre has told numerous outlets, New Blue Sun is not a rap album.

"I get beats all the time. I try to write all the time. People think, Oh, man, he’s just sitting on raps, or he’s just holding these raps hostage. I ain’t got no raps like that," he told GQ. 

In the future, fans might see 3000 return to the rap universe but in the meantime, let’s enjoy the ambience of the blue sun. 

Drake - For All The Dogs Scary Hours Edition

It’s not Scorpio season without a release from the scorpion king himself, Drake. In the latest installment of his Scary Hours series, Drake brought in a heavy-hitter lineup of producers including Lil Yatchy and Alchemist.

With songs surrounding themes of betrayal and broken trust (an the less-than-subtle chant "F— My Ex" more than 10 times in one song), For All The Dogs Scary Hours Edition shows how deep the Certified Lover Boy is in his feelings.

Drake brings out his Swiftie side in the track, "Red Button," shouting out Taylor Swift with lyrics "Taylor Swift the only n—- that I ever rated/ Only one could make me drop the album just a little later/ Rest of y’all, I treat you like you never made it." Seems that the big-ups and grudges heard on October's For All The Dogs translate to Scary Hours, too.

His song "Evil Ways" features J. Cole, increasing anticipation for their joint tour, which was announced on Nov. 13.

Ozuna - Cosmo

After receiving a nod for Best Reggaeton Performance and performing with David Guetta at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs, Puerto Rican Singer Ozuna dropped his sixth album, Cosmo. Filled with soon-to-be dance floor staples, Cosmo highlights Ozuna's versatility.

Songs like "El Pin" and "La Chulita" are full of infectious dance and Afrobeats influences, yet stay true to his reggaeton roots. The 15-track record also includes collaborations with Jhayco, Chenco Corleone, Anuel and David Guetta.

"When you think of a colorful image, you think of youth. When people listen to this album, I want them to take it seriously," Ozuna said in an interview with the Fader. "People want to hear what’s real, what’s clear-cut, in black and white.”

The goal, he continued, is to allow "people to know who the real Ozuna is."

2 Chainz, Lil Wayne - Welcome 2 Collegrove

Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz have joined forces once again to release their second joint album, Welcome 2 Collegrove. The album’s title is a melding of 2 Chainz's hometown of College Park, Georgia, with Lil Wayne’s Hollygrove, Louisiana.

Welcome 2 Collegrove includes features from a cross-section of hip-hop and R&B greats, including Usher, 21 Savage, Rick Ross, Benny The Butcher and Fabolous. Tracks like "Presha" and "Long Story Short" bring back the duo’s classic rap sound from their 2016 project COLLEGROVE, and show their ability to create hip-hop anthems. The special guest artists add even more depth to their songs. 

Danny Brown - Quaranta

After a four year break, Detroit rapper Danny Brown is back with his seventh album, Quaranta. A departure from his earlier, more club-centric music, the 11-track album offers a new perspective in Brown’s life.

Quaranta is a turning point in Brown's musical journey, where he reflects on themes of regret, self-destructive behavior, and growth. While songs like "Ain’t My Concern" and "Celibate" still include his signature flair of fast, high-pitched verses, this album takes on a more mature and introspective route. 

Bibi feat. Becky G - "Amigos"

On "Amigos," South Korean singer Bibi teamed up with Latin star Becky G for a multicultural but ever-relatable track that focuses on being hung up on past lovers despite having someone new in their life. "I know we had a good time and that you always want more / But if my boyfriend calls, we’re just friends, nothing more," they sing in Spanish.

"Amigos" is rife with hip-hop influences — a genre Bibi loves. 

"Expressing oneself through lyrics is so real and genuine," BIBI told AllKPop. "As I’m someone who wasn’t necessarily gifted with natural musical talent — I didn’t even know the difference between boom bap or trap beats until way later. I think the other factors of music organically followed as I grew as an artist."

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Chung Ha

Chung Ha

Photo: Han Myung-Gu/


Chung Ha, Wanna One Announced As First 2018 KCON LA Performers

With fests June in New York and August in Los Angeles, it's shaping up to be a great K-summer

GRAMMYs/Jun 2, 2018 - 03:26 am

On May 31 KCON USA announced additions to the anticipated KCON 2018 NY lineup from June 23–24 and let out their first lineup news for KCON 2018 LA to be held Aug. 10–12. Mnet television stars from "Produce 101" Chung Ha and Wanna One will headline Los Angeles and Chung Ha has also been confirmed for the New York event.

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Chung Ha broke through in 2017, building on her television competition experience and time in the band I.O.I to emerge with solo hits such as "Why Don't You Know" and her 2018 hit "Roller Coaster." Before pursuing music in her native South Korea she spent many of her young years in Texas and acquired English in Dallas.

Wanna One had already been announced for KCON New York and were the first lineup artist announcement for KCON 2018 LA. They formed during the 2017 season of "Produce 101," a year after Chung Ha. Their hit that year "Beautiful" caught on tremendously, with millions of hits across several video versions. The teaser preview released on May 28 for their anticipated drop "Light" is pushing toward 1 million views. While in the U.S., Wanna One will also perform several solo concerts.

This year's KCON USA events are a lot to look forward to and we can all expect the fan responses to be electrifying. Here's to a wonderful K-summer.

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Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images


Solange To Babymetal: 11 Women Mavericks Making Moves In Music

From stretching the definition of identity and innovative musical approaches to tackling overt themes of female empowerment, these women are taking an outside-the-box approach to their careers

GRAMMYs/Mar 31, 2018 - 02:31 am

Music may be largely male dominated but there is plenty of room for women to break through. The industry is filled with women who possess a keen ability to go outside of the box, shake things up and set a new example for their colleagues.

Whether it's developing an alter ego and letting their music speak over their image, not being afraid to take a risk onstage or championing the work of other females, these 11 women know what it takes to stand out. Get to know some of the industry's most notorious female mavericks.

Madame Gandhi

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After graduating with a bachelor's degree in mathematics, political science and women's studies from Georgetown University, Madame Gandhi landed a job at Interscope Records as the company's premiere digital analyst. During her tenure, she analyzed patterns in Spotify streams and YouTube views, advising brands like Bonnaroo, D'Addario and Eleven Seven Music on artist release strategies.

In 2012 the multifaceted artist came into prominence when she began drumming for M.I.A. Three years later she earned her MBA from Harvard Business School and shifted her focus toward creating her own music.

Her debut EP, 2016's Voices, featured "The Future Is Female," which hit the Spotify U.S. Viral Charts Top 50. The tune is very much in line with the trailblazing musician's motto, "To elevate and celebrate the female voice." In addition to crafting her own tunes, Gandhi prides herself on her keen ability to bring out the best in those she produces, the majority of whom are females.

"I tend to like using my skillset to only produce for other female artists," she reveals. "If I'm producing for somebody else's art, I tend to really dial into their energy in that moment and create based on what they are hearing and feeling instead of asserting my own intuition."

And the only critic that Gandhi is interested in satisfying? "I'm not seeking the validation or the approval of a male-dominated industry; I'm seeking the approval and validation of myself."


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Solange may be Beyoncé's sister, but the 31-year-old songstress has more than proven herself worthy of owning her title as a music industry staple. The performer got her start as a backup dancer for Destiny's Child before signing her own deal with Music World Entertainment at age 16. She released her debut, Solo Star, in 2002 and began writing songs for the members of Destiny's Child. Solange followed up with 2008's Sol-Angel And The Hadley St. Dreams, 2012's True EP and A Seat At The Table, which dropped in 2016.

In an industry that thrives on originality, Solange has never been afraid to take a risk with her tunes, often honoring her passion for Motown and pulling from past eras like the '60s, '70s and '80s to infuse into her albums. She launched her own record label, Saint Records, in 2013. And in 2015, she made waves with her anthem "Rise," a track inspired by the Baltimore and Ferguson police killings.

Complementing her music, Solange is a style icon and revels in the opportunity to express herself onstage. With her sultry voice and raw lyrics, the artist is refreshingly willing to tap deep into her emotions evidenced by her anthemic "F.U.B.U." Her entrepreneurial spirit has also brought a variety of ventures into the world, such as Baby Jamz, a hip-hop inspired toy line inspired by her son, and designing performances for museums and galleries, such as her Tate Museum digital interactive dossier, "Seventy States." She is, in every sense of the word, an innovator.

St. Vincent

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Annie Erin Clark, aka St. Vincent, began playing guitar at the age of 12. As a teen, she joined her uncle Tuck Andress' jazz duo, Tuck & Patti, before attending Berklee School of Music. She toured as a guitarist and vocalist with the Polyphonic Spree and backed up Sufjan Stevens, during which she recorded a three-song EP to sell at the shows under her newfound moniker of St. Vincent.

In 2007 St. Vincent released her debut album, Marry Me, which caught the attention of the critics. From there she was off, rising through the ranks of the indie rocker genre with her sophomore endeavor, Actor. She's since released four additional albums, including a collaborative endeavor with David Byrne (Talking Heads), Love This Giant.

Clark is known for her punchy vocals, polysemous lyrics and ability to play a plethora of instruments, including guitar, piano, bass, and theremin. At the 57th GRAMMY Awards, she earned the GRAMMY for Best Alternative Music Album for her self-titled LP. And she now has her own signature guitar via Ernie Ball Music Man.

"I just wake up with melodies in my head. I just feel like sometimes one of those people in the machine, where they pump dollar bills into it and they let the wind blow it around," said Clark. And that's why they call her the "indie rock goddess."

Karen O.

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Karen O. came into her own as frontwoman for the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs and has been deemed one of the best female rock vocalists of all time.

She is all about self-expression and has an essence uniquely her own. First, there is the wardrobe. Fans of hers cram as close to the stage as possible for the chance to glimpse her latest ensemble. She frequently dons an array of eclectic outfits, including capes, headpieces and feathers made by her fashion designer friend Christian Joy.

Then there are the moves. You never know quite what you'll get at a Karen O. performance. She's a true rock star, a show-woman of the stage — frolicking around in ripped up fishnets, spewing beer on her audience and letting out primal screams in the moment.

In addition to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O. has tackled side projects such as Native Korean Rock And The Fishnets. She's also cemented her status as an in-demand female vocalist, being featured on the Flaming Lips' album Embryonic, Santigold's Master Of My Make-Believe and collaborating with David Lynch on "Pinky's Dream."

"[People] care way too much about being 'liked,'" said Karen O. regarding pushing her way to the top of a male-dominated industry. "It wasn't easy, but I stuck to my guns — I had to rebuild how I thought about myself being in an all-dudes rock world. Trying to be heard in that context was tough, and I had to scream and break things to make people listen to me, but they did. They listened."


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When you think of metal, women don't often come to mind, let alone adolescent girls. But Babymetal have proven that stereotypes are meant to be broken. The Japanese trio released a self-titled album in 2014, which they followed up with Metal Resistance two years later. The girls take the stage in signature red and black outfits and perform choreographic movements to their pop-infused heavy rock.

Members Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal have said they are happy to be seen as role models for other girls. Before they became Babymetal, they admittedly didn't know much about metal themselves and hoped that people who were never exposed to the genre would be now inclined to listen after seeing them perform.

They've opened for Lady Gaga, and have taken home a variety of awards such as the 2015 MTV Video Music Award Japan for Best Metal Artist, giving a new face to their genre. And with songs addressing themes such as body image and bullying, they're doing so in a refreshing manner.

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Mon Laferte

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Chilean singer/songwriter Mon Laferte started playing guitar as a child, has been singing for "as long as I can remember" and began writing songs at age 13. Later, in 2003 she released her debut album, La Chica De Rojo, and began to make a name for herself beyond her hometown of Vina del Mar, Chile.

Her career came to a brief halt when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009 but she didn't let that hold her down. The songstress rebounded with her sophomore album, Desechable, in 2011 and has been going strong ever since. Laferte was a judge on the Chilean version of "The X Factor" and has gone on to release three additional albums.

Laferte prides herself on bringing her native Tejano sound to the masses and has satiated listeners with her unique theatrical pop style. Aside from her fans, she caught the attention of her peers in winning a 2017 Latin GRAMMY for Best Alternative Song for "Amárrame," an edgy duet with Juanes.

"My grandma is my inspiration. She was also a singer/composer. She played guitar. I always wanted to be like her," says Laferte.


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If there's one facet of the music industry that is male dominated, it's the world of hip-hop. But that isn't enough to deter female rappers like Leikeli47 from doing what they love.

"I don't identify myself as a 'female musician,'" says the performer of her strategy for standing out amid a sea of male colleagues. "I'm just a musician and as a musician when I hear, 'It's go time,' that's just what it is — go time — no matter who's in the way."

The rapper got her start releasing mixtapes and followed with her 2017 self-titled debut. On the concert trail, Diplo and Skrillex brought her out to accompany them onstage during their 2014 New Year's Eve set and she's since donned stages like Electric Daisy Carnival New York.

Being herself is 100 percent the goal of Leikeli47. "My job is to create, protect, and deliver as an individual. Originality is what drives the machine," she reveals. "I sell out to the moment. I don't try. I just do; even when I'm afraid. I've never been the type to just walk through a door. To reach any destination I must jump out of the window first. That's my approach."

Cordell Jackson

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"When I first started playing the guitar at 12 [I was told], 'Young girls don't play guitars. ...' And I says, 'Well I do.' I looked 'em straight down and says, 'I do.'" Those words served as the motto of a young Cordell Jackson who, throughout her entire five-decade-plus career, set her sights on pushing through boundaries.

The "rock-and-roll-granny" was an early pioneer of rockabilly. She also became the first woman to write, arrange, engineer, produce, promote, and manufacture her own rock and roll record label. Jackson founded Moon Records in Memphis in 1956 as a means of getting some attention to her own previously unreleased demos. She released "Rock And Roll Christmas"/"Beboppers' Christmas" and went on to put out tunes by other artists such as Allen Page.

Cordell continued the label through the '70s and '80s, eventually realizing her career-defining hit, "Football Widow."

"You just have to forge your own way, and go to the bank with what you can," said Cordell in response to being asked about her strategy for making waves as a female in the early days of rockabilly.


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Since the early 1990s, Peaches has been a symbol of female empowerment. From her shocking lyrics to racy stage antics, the singer has never been afraid to stay true to her roots, even at the expense of facing censorship from television, venues and radio stations across the globe.

The Toronto native has served as a champion for powerful female voices around her, frequently collaborating with high profile artists such as Karen O. and Yoko Ono. And true to her glamorous look, her songs have tackled topics like gender identity, frequently playing with nontraditional notions of gender roles while her stage shows blur the lines between male and female.

"I stuck with my own brand of performance art, music and lyrical content that I believed widened the perspective of sexuality and identity, creating a fun, empowering and uplifting dynamic," says Peaches. "I have seen the effects of my efforts and I have proudly witnessed new fresh perspectives that open up this discussion and make room for creativity."

And guess what? Peaches will continue to shake things up. "It is important for me with my music to question and challenge what has always been presented to me in pop music because I never felt included in its mainstream narrative or believed that it should actually be called main stream. … There is no reason to create music or art that is stifling and non-progressive."


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When you get Rihanna's stamp of approval early on, you know you've got something going on. Such is the case for the sultry R&B singer/songwriter who goes by H.E.R., an acronym for "Having Everything Revealed."

In 2016 the performer made her debut with her seven-song EP, H.E.R. Vol. 1. She followed that up with a volume two EP, a collaboration with Daniel Caesar on "Best Part," and a tour supporting Bryson Tiller.

Instead of putting herself out there in the vein of her genre-sharing colleagues, H.E.R. prides herself in remaining elusive. Her goal is to let her music speak for itself and to let her velvety vocals and vulnerable lyrics lead the audience to believe whatever they want to about her.

"The anonymity of H.E.R. came from me wanting this to be about the music — wanting people to hear the message without necessarily attaching an age or a face to it," she said. "As women, we go through a lot of the same things. We all get hurt. So I just wanted to be that one voice with a message that women and even men can relate to."

Andrea Echeverri

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Andrea Echeverri fronts and plays guitar in the Colombian rock band Aterciopelados, a Latin GRAMMY-winning act. She's also an esteemed singer/songwriter with several solo endeavors under her belt.

Lyrically, Echeverri's songwriting explores an array of personal and political themes such as motherhood, love and femininity. She is also very involved — and takes meticulous care — in her own musical process. Echeverri handled the entire production, composition and vocals on her 2012 solo album, Ruiseñora, which tackled themes like feminism and female empowerment.

In a world riddled with stereotypes, it's Echeverri's mission to spread her native Colombia's music to the masses and crack through the stereotypes associated with being from South America.

"When we started travelling outside Colombia back in '95 it was the subject of each and all of the interviews and as a joke they asked, 'What did you bring in your suitcase?'" said Echeverri. "Everything was like on the subject of drugs, but I think that colleagues like Juanes and Shakira already are more famous than drugs and Pablo Escobar."

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(Nicole Pajer is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She has written for a variety of publications, including BillboardRolling StoneMen's JournalHemispheresThe Red Bulletin,, the Honda Civic tour, Coachella CAMP, and more. Follow her on Twitter @NicolePajer.)