The Best K-Pop Girls of June

June Gals
The last week in June was kind to us girl group lovers. A string of releases from old and new groups brought K-pop back to life after a slow month. They also brought with them a number of familiar sounds with two groups showing influences from recent times, and Brave Brothers doing what he does best with his favourite girls. The rookies also show us that if a company has a member in I.O.I or participated in “Produce 101” then expect them to debut very soon.

“This Place” by Subin

First is probably the most well-known of this group yet has had the least promotion for her music. Dal Shabet’s vocal goddess Subin released her first mini album “This Place” alongside a digital single of the same title. She previously dropped her debut single, the underrated “Flower,” in May of this year to little fanfare as well. Whatever Happy Face’s strategy is, it does not involve actually promoting Subin. Nevertheless, they are fitting her with music that sounds like it’s coming from every inch of her body.

The lyrics certainly do, anyway. They have an ephemeral beauty to them just like her voice, which tails off as she breathes out each syllable. “Swept away to the wind, The leaves that walk, Something sweeps away my spirit,” she slowly lulls us into the song. Subin croons alongside a crisp piano, reminiscent of Joe Hisaishi’s work on the films of Studio Ghibli. Each note is pronounced and reverberates beside Subin’s voice. It hits the ballad sweet spot of being simple but not boring, emotional but not maudlin.

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“High Heels” by Brave Girls

Brave Girls’ new incarnation is proving to better than the original. They’ve been together for five years now and still have little to show for it. Under the tutelage of Brave Brothers though, we can count on them for quality pop tracks. “Deepened” from earlier in the year is one of the songs of the year and they stay on form with “High Heels.”

It’s a classic of his, using an object as a title and as a means of expressing a young girl’s love. Also present are the catchy chants and simple structure. Doubling down on the Brave Brothers formula of total functionality, “High Heels” has a two choruses. The first is almost identical to the verse but with bigger vocals (which mark it as a chorus alongside the mention of the title) and some guitar. Layered vocals bring this first chorus to a strong climax before the second one starts immediately with the chant of “high, high, high heel.” A mix of horns add the last bit of flair. It’s such an effective way of making a song constantly exciting. This is all added to by having the rap come straight after the first double chorus as well. Hyeran is fast becoming one of my favourite idol rappers. Her delivery is strong and confident, and has an odd nasally quality I really like.


“We” by Pledis Girlz

Pledis Entertainment’s girl groups are probably my favourite of the companies outside of the top two (SM and JYP, I don’t know a YG), given their groups are consistently innovative in sound and style. That‘s probably why their latest group, the ingeniously named Pledis Girlz, have got off to a disappointing start.

Their debut (if it even is a full debut given their name) “We” is another indicator of the GFriend reign. From the opening pianos, strings, and chimes, it’s clear the direction they were going in. This brand of schoolgirl pop is GFriend’s impact on the K-pop industry. None of these songs have been particularly bad, each one hits the mark in terms of the formula. It’s getting tired though, and with little to show in ways of upgrading, Pledis Girlz look like imitators. However, two things are quite satisfying. When the beat kicks and the strings really start to move, that feeling of joy pop music gives me is brought straight back. It sounds like the opening to a delightfully wholesome kids TV show. Also, the rap is something GFriend lack, and here it’s especially good thanks to the playful delivery and the music taking a back seat.

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“Wonderland” by Gugudan

A problem for Pledis Girlz might be their rushed nature thanks to the desperation of companies trying to debut girls from Produce 101. Gugudan are another one of these, coming from Jellyfish Entertainment with Sejong and Mina being fully fledged members of I.O.I.

Gugudan take a similarly safe route as Pledis Girlz, but with a little bit more kick. “Wonderland’s” glossy electro pop is has an energy that eclipses the other rookies of the week. It mixes a cavalcade of sounds to create something that never stops moving forward. The guitar and bass rhythm section is a funky delight that is heard in and out between verses. The vocal rhythm of the chorus bounces along with it and the twinkles and blasts of synths. It has an unpredictable exuberance that carries it the whole way through.


“I Like U Too Much” by Sonamoo

TS Entertainment’s Sonamoo took on the much harder task of copying Red Velvet. After failing with their hip-hop concept at debut, Sonamoo switched to a chaotic style of pop for “Cushion.” Calling this a copy does a disservice to these girls, though.

“I Like U Too Much” opens with supreme harmonies of the chorus. It sets out where they can go from there on in as it moves into a sweeter verse that recalls Girls’ Generation more than their younger label mates. It has another double chorus with the first being an exciting bubblegum pop of synths and the second those aforementioned harmonies. Each part is more addictive than the last all leading up to a blistering bridge of more harmonies and duelling speed vocals. The lyrics perfectly match this unstoppable force by telling the story of a girl in a love that is out of control. “Oh Baby I want to bite you, Can’t leave you alone,” they shout at an unsuspecting boy. I feel the same way about this song.

Despite increased reliance on using sounds from groups who are still a big part of the environment, Korean girl groups are in a seriously good place right now. Even if they are imitating, the youthful joy is still palpable in every note they produce. Sonamoo especially look like they can grow to be an incredible group given continued support. Which should be easy since TS has seemingly completely forgotten about Secret. All of these girls have potential to do great things in the future.

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Review: Sonamoo ‘Deja Vu’


TS Entertainment’s latest girl group, Sonamoo, debuted at the end of 2014, with the song Deja Vu. There was some controversy around TS debuting a new group amidst contract issues with TS popular idol group, B.A.P, and also concerns that Sonamoo’s official color is too similar to that of SM Entertainment’s SHINee. Despite the issues have with how TS Entertainment handled Sonamoo’s debut, it’s hard to deny that Deja Vu is a stellar debut song.


The song is catchy and the members appear to be able to sing well (although some of their debut stages leaves room for argument). The song has powerful beats and EDM elements that wouldn’t be out of place in a club, but Déjà Vu just isn’t really memorable. It’s just another dance track with a powerful beat. Sonamoo tries really hard, but the debut song seems like just another dance song with some interesting beats dropped every once in a while in an attempt to make the song give off a more powerful vibe.

Credit: TS Entertainment

Credit: TS Entertainment

One of the major problems is that the seven girls have voices that don’t really match up with the hip-hop elements. Some higher pitched voices simply don’t seem to fit amidst deeper, rougher voices like those of the rappers. The two rappers, D.ana and New Sun, dominate the entire performance with their stage presence and stellar attempts at rapping. But transitioning from rap to a sweet sound comes off as sudden and I personally feel that it ruins the momentum.

Sonmoo Deja Vu Gif 1

Credit: TS Entertainment


Another problem I have with the song is that I really wish that they had gone with more meaningful lyrics rather than just singing about how love is like fate that has happened over and over again. If I didn’t know what Sonamoo was singing about, but heard the song and saw the performance, I’d honestly probably think that the seven were singing a song about female empowerment. The music video looks like it would be more about the awesomeness of girl power along the lines of Beyonce’s Run The World, but Déjà Vu doesn’t deliver that.

Music Video

The video’s sets were really cool, even though some of it reminded me a lot of B.A.P’s debut music video for Warrior. Nothing wrong with reusing sets, though, especially when the set is remade to look like the inside of an industrial factory with a chandelier. The dance stage, where the seven members of Sonamoo danced amidst scaffolding, looked really cool and futuristic, but differed a bit from the rest of the video’s style (the outfits that I take problem with also made their appearances during that part).

Credit: TS Entertainment

Credit: TS Entertainment


Moreover, the plot is a bit nonexistent. With a title like Déjà Vu it would seem that the music video would be about Sonamoo seeing things over and over again. Instead, it’s about the members looking for something and turning on the power, literally, and seeing a stream of energy flit about the place without any clear interpretation.


The video started out really strong conceptually, rocking the hip-hop styled sporty outfits. Sports bras, loose harem pants, athletic jerseys, leather jackets… They all made appearances. But then the black and white tight fitting outfits appeared and I was less impressed that TS Entertainment chose to put the fiercer outfits aside for traditionally sexy, skin-fitting clothes. The individual style for each girl, with unique hairstyles and personalized outfits, were a nice touch.

Credit: TS Entertainment

Credit: TS Entertainment


Sonamoo’s strength is definitely its dance. The body popping and locking that several of the dancers use is rare to see in K-pop girl group’s songs, although the twerking, now a commonly seen dance move in K-pop, isn’t super exciting and kind of diminishes the powerful dance moves. Even so, Sonamoo’s dancers are really good performers, performing splits and never seeming out of synchrony. The random hand-game that the rappers perform seems kind of silly and doesn’t really add to the song, though, so I can’t really say the dance is flawless.

Credit: TS Entertainment

Credit: TS Entertainment


It’s a really good attempt at a style of girl group that’s rare– tough rather than cute or sexy, but the song, while catchy, doesn’t really seem so memorable. The vocals are good but have a long way to go, and Sonamoo’s saving grace is really the dancing.