Bandwagon’s Picks for the Best K-Pop Album Packaging of 2022 include BTS’s RM, DPR IAN, NewJeans, Epik High, and more

Purchasing an album is a comprehensive experience in and of itself, starting with pressing the “order” button, followed by following your delivery diligently, and finally, carefully opening your parcel. Even when your bank account begs you to stop, it’s an excitement that you find yourself returning to.

Our group enjoyed purchasing our fair share of albums in 2022, whether they were from our favorite bands or K-pop stars. But the former has to get some credit because it features so many brilliant ideas and stunning designs that we can’t help but swoon.

You may rely on Min Hee-jin, a pioneer in the K-pop industry and the leader of All Doors One Room, to create an experience (italics added) for new music releases. She once commented in 2010, as quoted by The Korea Herald,

K-Pop Album
K-Pop Album

“Physical CDs are no longer something to listen to but viewed [because] it’s through the CD covers that the customer encounters new music.” The highly acclaimed music of ADOR’s girl group NewJeans needed to be matched with an identity and story that was visually driven and appropriate for their new, “natural” approach.

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The nostalgic factor is amplified in NewJeans’ self-titled EP (stylized as New Jeans, two words). Each of the four massively popular songs, including the anthem “Hype Boy,” is in some way influenced by early 2000s music.

However, from a visual standpoint, NewJeans’ gimmick was to create a complete time capsule rather than only referencing Y2K pop culture and design trends. Physical copies were packaged in a handy WeVerse version, a sizable “Blue Book,” and a charming, practical spherical bag.

Each variation made an effort to have a handcrafted appeal, like risograph prints with stickers. There are the standard photo cards with the members’ drawings on the back (a design that Min Hee-jin herself had introduced to Girls’ Generation).

One of the photobook ideas was designed to resemble an exam booklet. The CDs resemble burned discs from the past, down to the colored marker artwork. While the “Y2K style” has recently been widely popular, far too often, most attempts come off as cartoonish reconstructions.

Here, the design stays away from the popular retrofuturist clichés of the 2000s (think: sci-fi typefaces, glossy chrome skeuomorphism, frosty blues, android-like fashion, etc.). NewJeans are depicted as typical teenage girls, and all these things they did just so happened to be extremely cool.

It’s like living in Mandy Moore’s “Candy” world, which is blatantly cheesy, but you know what? I can handle it. It has that cozy, familiar feeling that transports you to more carefree days. DPR IAN always ensures that every product it produces is an experience.

The physical CD for MIITO was just as mesmerizing as the captivating music that chronicles the journey of his alter ego and the breathtaking videos that put you in a trance. The album’s cover was heat-sensitive; it transformed from red to pale pink when the temperature rose.

I got it in the pinkest possible form because I lived in the Philippines. When I initially got it, I’m sure I stood my album up in front of the chilly air for at least ten minutes to see it turn bright red before attempting to convert it back to pink with my hands.

On the inside, MIITO includes a holographic representation of DPR IAN’s character in all his various incarnations, which I also play with excessively, along with the CD that looks like an iris. Although the record itself is very straightforward, these little but significant touches help to make it stand out.

This year, I’ve had the opportunity to experience a wide range of offers from the complete DPR team, and I’ve come to realize that’s what sets DPR IAN apart.

A masterpiece comprises many small details rather than large pieces that attempt to do too much. I occasionally glance over at MIITO, which is currently on my shelf and cannot help but take it up and become enthralled again.

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