As summer is almost here, K-pop’s beginning to get busier and busier. Last week we sadly saw the Queens of the Summer bow out, and while we’ll miss them, that opens up the playing field for more artists. Some of the songs released this week aren’t necessarily “summer anthems,” but we liked them as if they were.
“What’s My Name?” by T-ara (Released June 14)
T-ara’s latest (and possibly final) release both maintains and builds on their sonic character in their eighth year together. While maintaining their usual high-voiced, electronic sound, the group manages to incorporate some EDM and eurodance-inspired themes on this new track. And coupled with a markedly different choreography when performing live (one that capitalizes on Jiyeon and Hyomin’s girl-on-girl appeal that was first showcased in their live cover of “Troublemaker”), the group undoubtedly shows growth, which is great to see as netizen comments and public reaction in general finally becomes the least bit more friendly. This is both an era of hope (one we never thought we’d see after their destructive scandal) and fear for Queens, who are seeing T-ara become more likable again while also being threatened by a possible disbandment. At least in my opinion, I’m hoping that the group continues. While netizens used to make fun of the group for having too much “determination,” I really do hope they maintain it and continue with it. They are a group worth keeping around, no matter what haters have to say at this point.
“We Loved” by Bolbbalgan4 & 20 Years Of Age (Released June 13)
There’s really something special about Bolbbalgan4’s success. With each new release, the duo does phenomenally because of their sentimental, yet realistic, lyrics. For “We Loved,” the pair brought the mellow vocals of soloist 20 Years of Age into the mix to contrast with Ahn Jiyoung’s rather rough, but sweet, voice. The swaying melody belies swaying melody and snapping beat belie the song’s earnest, verge-of-break-up lyrics. A romance coming to an end is sad, but “We Loved” makes it feel natural. “Our time has stopped,” is such a poignant, mature approach to the end of a relationship in a way that few Korean love songs depict. It’s no surprise “We Loved” is topping Korean music charts; this is no idealized version of romance, it’s just straight and simple reality.
“Whiplash” by NCT 127 (Released June 14)
Throughout 2017, I haven’t been particularly excited about any entire K-pop mini album or full album. Until NCT 127’s comeback, that is. While “Cherry Bomb” is the, well, bomb single we’ve been waiting for as far as boy groups go, their b-sides are nothing to scoff at. But that doesn’t come as a surprise, as the group has always had fiery b-sides that rival the singles, and on this album, “Whiplash” is such song. It’s a mid-tempo hip-hop track lead by Mark and Taeyong’s rap and has an easy bounce that makes it fun to listen to. The composition might not be as intricate as “Cherry Bomb” or even “0 Mile” (another b-side on the album), but it’s this stripped sound what makes it fresh and so unlike SM Entertainment songs. NCT 127 truly are the super rookies to look out for.
“Always” by the Top 20 Produce 101 trainees (Released June 17)
The second season of Produce 101 came to a shocking and extremely bittersweet end on Friday night, with exciting performances put up by the trainees right before the reveal of the final 11 members of Wanna One. The last performance of the 20 trainees, “Always” however, is definitely one which I will remember for a long time. The emotional performance, coupled by a beautiful song which showcased the much improved vocals of the trainees, was made even better because of the song’s heartfelt lyrics. Despite the various controversies and upsets that came along with this season, it was evident that through it all, these trainees have forged close bonds with each other and will deeply miss the time that they have spent together. The song was a fitting way to close off the season, and though I’m sad that it’s over, I’m looking forward to see the trainees continue to move towards their dreams.
What was your favorite K-pop release of the week? Tell us what you think in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.
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If you are enrolled in a higher education program, then summer break has just started, and if not, then you are preparing for it. Either way, as we are nearing the midpoint of 2015 we could all use a couple of tunes to unwind to from this busy first half of the year. Before the inevitable upbeat summer-themed music videos start to roll in from our favorite acts, it is worthwhile to check out some of the already established hits. So in order to start off the break with the best attitude, here’s five fun K-pop songs to get you in the summertime spirit.
Though it has been a long two years since SHINee last released a full-length Korean album, fans discover that it was well worth the wait as the group’s fourth studio album “Odd” recently dropped and has been dominating the music charts worldwide. Written by leader Kim Jonghyun himself, the title song, “View,” heralds in this year’s early kickoff of summer releases. It features an addictive chorus and funky techno beats that are sure to make listeners dance and sing along, whether at a summer pool party, club, or simply alone within the confines of our bedrooms. The blend of a house sound in the chorus is something that can easily be popular among non K-pop fans as well.
The video itself is very refreshing, as the boys are finally let out of SM Entertainment’s formulaic flashy box sets and into the wild with a group of beautiful female friends (or fans?) who take them away from the public’s watchful eye. Together, the gang ride motorbikes, swim in other people’s pools and drink it up at vacant bars – activities that we would never catch our idols doing. They also trade in their usual eccentric prints and suits for a more casual, quotidian look. The whole video just screams summer getaway, and audiences are left feeling a sense of liberation as we watch the members shed away their responsibilities. “View” is definitely one of the must-watch, must-listen to videos and songs of the season.
Off of their fifth mini-album of the same name, “Solo Day” is one of B1A4’s best and most fun tracks. After they released songs such as “Lonely” in 2014 and “Tried to Walk” in 2012, which showed a more mature side to the quintet, it was nice to see the boys return with a track that showcased their original silly dispositions that they debuted with back in 2011.
Produced by leader Jung Jinyoung, this title song has a light and sing-song feel to it. The repetitive chorus of “solo, solo day,” accompanied by the playful whistles, will undeniably get stuck in listeners’ heads even after the first listen. The video matches the song perfectly as it is just as ridiculous and whimsical. The members take on the role of five quirky individuals – the couch potato (Jinyoung), the pizza delivery guy (Sandeul), the obsessive compulsive guy (CNU), the space geek (Baro), and the flower vagabond (Gongchan) – who, through their road trip antics, end up signaling and encountering a UFO on the beach (yes, you read that right). It does not make much sense, but it does not have to. That’s the charm of B1A4. Just as how the boys are singing along while driving on the wide open road or how they bob their heads to the beat of the whistles, this catchy tune will have listeners doing the same.
The group takes a somber topic, like that of a break-up, and transforms it into an upbeat and empowering track about the freedom that supplements with it. Such a positive message and entertaining video is sure to be a perfect addition to any summer playlist.
HyunA “Bubble Pop!”
Because what “Fun K-Pop Music Videos & Songs to Start Your Summer” list isn’t complete without “Bubble Pop!,” right? Produced by the musical masterminds behind many of the songs from HyunA’s group 4Minute, Shinsadong Tiger and Choi Kyu-sung could not have anticipated the success that the hit would garner.
Coming in fourth on Gaon Weekly Digital Charts at the time, it was practically the summer anthem of 2011. The track presents an up-tempo and sassy quality to it, which suits HyunA’s sexy and bad-girl image. It’s the type of song that will have listeners bouncing around on their beds or shaking their booties at the notorious “Bubble bubble bubble pop, Bubble bubble pop pop” lyrics. Despite HyunA’s position as a rapper, the song is short of any raps, but rather punctuated with aspirated ooh’s and aah’s that further add to the seduction.
Overall, the track is very (appropriately) bubbly. As for the music video, HyunA never looked better. Her tan and slim figure makes any of the outfits – from the flirty self tie shirts to the evocative mesh tops – she wears look good and lets us know that she is beach-ready. With its various poolside and sandy beach scenes, the video emanates a very apparent summer vibe. It reminds us that ‘tis the season for summer flings with the cameo of MBLAQ’s ex-member Lee Joon as the male love interest. Set in a comic book-styled vignette, the video follows the two on a shopping date.
Unfortunately, the video also reminds us that flings are ephemeral in nature, as depicted in the scene where HyunA coyly shoves Joon into the pool after catching him ogle at other girls. Over the span of four years, this fun-in-the-sun video racked up nearly 93 million views on Youtube already, proving that it is a favorite among many.
Infinite “She’s Back”
Inspirits (Infinite fans) are in for a treat at this summer throwback. From their debut mini album “First Invasion,” “She’s Back” is one of Infinite’s most feel good songs. Infinite is one of those groups who has a distinctive sound and sticks with it. Unsurprisingly, this electro-pop title bears the same synth-heavy and often retro sound that will lay the groundwork for later songs.
Coupled with the passionate long notes from main vocalist Nam Woo Hyun and the collective voices of the seven members during the chorus, it works well here to produce a fun and loving track. And while listening to the song on its own may not conjure images of pools and getaway resorts like the other tracks on this list might, after watching the accompanying music video, it will be hard not to separate the summertime themes from this single.
Within the first couple of seconds, we are immediately thrusted onto a beach where the boys clad in trunks, tank tops and flip flops are running with their dog. Another couple seconds in and the boys are enjoying a picnic. The fun doesn’t stop there as the next few scenes show them playing water games in a pool. This is all spliced together with clips of the members singing in unison on a boat in a beautiful wash of light as the sun sets down on them. If this music video is not considered the epitome of summer, then I do not know what is. The boys are all smiles as they appreciate their mini vacation, and we can’t help but too just watching them being all jubilant. A fine tune to jam to during any summer, Infinite’s “She’s Back” will have listeners crying out in joy that she’s back without knowing exactly who she is.
Probably the most underrated title on this list, “In the Night Sky” is the result of After School’s special project unit group composed of members Kahi, Jungah, UEE, and Nana. It features a looped synth sound and a pleasant to listen to melody that is characteristic in any dance-pop song that Brave Brothers has and will produce. Perhaps this is why the track is so reminiscent of Sistar’s “Shady Girl,” another one of the many hits that the talented producer has in his repertoire. In fact, during the second verse where Kahi raps her lines, I can easily envision Sistar’s Bora replacing her part. Nevertheless, “In the Night Sky” offers a slightly more memorable chorus with its repetitive eh, eh’s that are very easy to sing along to, especially for those who may not be familiar with the language.
Again, the song would not be complete without the concomitant music video. If the fresh, girly vocals of the subunit did not convince listeners of its summer playlist potential, then maybe the video might. The concept of the video can best be described in two simple words – bohemian chic. The girls, minus UEE, who they later meet up with, look absolutely fierce riding through the open desert in their Harley’s and Jeeps dressed in headpieces, feathers, braids, fringes and animal fur. Once the four are reunited and night has fallen, we see the four dance around a bonfire with a slew of friends, seeming as if they are without a care in the world.
There must be something about summer that makes people feel empowered and independent, but this song preaches the popular “I’m stronger without you” message that usually prevails around this time of the year. Certainly, “Into the Night Sky” is the ideal soundtrack to listen to on a cool summer’s night with some close friends.
BONUS: jtL “Just Say Goodbye”
While “Just Say Goodbye” (“Enter the Dragon,” 2001) may not be what you expect when you think of fun and upbeat summer songs, the music video for this song is just too stunning not to include here. Shot in Saipan, the video reveals the island’s tropical forests and clear blue skies. jtL members Tony Ahn, Jang Woo Hyuk, and Lee Jae Won stand high on a mountain overlooking the sea, letting the wind blow through their shirts while singing emotionally to the ballad. Meanwhile, a young Song Ji Hyo (actress and cast member of Running Man) meanders through the lush flora alone. Everything about the song and video is just so romantic, yet bittersweet. The nostalgic old-school K-pop sound of this single would be great to wake up to on a bright summer morning.
Did I forget to include a song/music video on my list? Who else belongs on the list? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts. Read more
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