Summer releases are always a highlight in K-pop. The companies go an extra mile with the music videos, girl groups dominate, and more often than not, the schedule is so jampacked that several artists dominate the charts for a week or two before another comes in to take the top spot. This summer has been eventful in K-pop – from the scandals, the myriad of releases, groups celebrating their anniversaries, and groups both debuting, disbanding and members leaving groups.
For this edition for the Roundtable, we reminisce on the hot summer that is coming to a close just as the soft breeze of autumn promises to come. We ask the writers: what was your favorite summer release of 2017? Which song in particular dominated the summer?
Lorenza: Summer will never be the same again without Sistar. “Lonely” was a good send-off, but the fact we won’t be getting any other upbeat, catchy, dance tunes like “Touch My Body” or “Shake It” hurts me deeply.
That said, my song of the summer is, without a doubt, “Jelly” by Hotshot. I love the song; in my opinion, it tailored the current EDM/island trend to them and their strengths. Plus, it was a good song to comeback with after their 2 year hiatus and Produce 101. I’ve been playing it pretty consistently ever since it came out.
Red Velvet‘s “Red Flavor” dominated for a while, with good reason. It’s catchy as hell and is a total bop. I also really enjoyed Winner‘s later summer comeback. “Love Me Love Me” reminds me of driving along the California coast and “Island” feels like being a carefree undergrad student again.
I missed a lot of debuts and comebacks in general this summer, but these ones were the ones that stuck out to me and are making it onto my Summer 2k17 playlist.
Josh: I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t say that Red Velvet brought everything we had hoped from them. “Red Flavor” is incredible at worst, and perfect at best. But besides the obvious, there have been so many girl groups with very good songs this summer (though not Red Velvet quality). Perhaps my favorite is “Happy” from WJSN. They brought the power with a really solid album in Happy Moment. “Happy” is incredibly infectious and the sound just seems so clear and bright. It’s one of the best pure pop songs that we’ve had from girl groups since Oh My Girl‘s “Liar.” In fact, it’s probably better. Besides that, there have been plenty of other nugu groups that have brought some amazing songs. DIA continued their cutesy trend and dropped some really good songs including their new single, “Can’t Stop.” Though “LO OK” is the best pick of the bunch from their new album, though that’s a subunit song. Huihyeon has shown she might be one of the best female rappers in any girl group right now.
While Red Velvet released an expected bop and it’s not all that surprising to see groups like DIA and WJSN drop quality tracks and albums. The most surprising rookie group is easily Loona. This spring and summer, they released a new subunit of girls starting with Kim Lip‘s “Eclipse” and ending with Choerry‘s “Love Cherry Motion” with JinSoul‘s “Singing in the Rain” in the middle. Now we’re just waiting on Loona 2/3 to release their track with these three girls. If the quality of music and music videos that they’ve produced with this subunit is any indication of their Loona 2/3 track, we’re about to be in for a real treat. The cinematography itself is going to make it a can’t-miss. Seriously. Blockberry Creative is going all out on music video visuals.
One last shout out. Dreamcatcher‘s “Fly High” was a good song and a nice prologue to their earlier two releases. But the real winner is “Sleep-Walking,” which is one of the best b-sides I’ve heard on any K-pop album. It’s full of energetic synths and it has that dark pop that Dreamcatcher has been so popular for. If Dreamcatcher wasn’t trying to tell a story through “Chase Me,” “Good Night,” and “Fly High,” this song would have easily been the single for this album. It’s easily their best song to date.
Pat: Josh, your description of “Red Flavor” is so on point. I hated the song when it was released – it’s such a Disney song, and not quality at that. And yet I find myself saying that “Red Flavor” is one of my favorite tracks of the summer. It has joined by designated summer playlist that features Sistar, Hyuna, and Nine Muses. Another song joining that playlist is Pristin‘s “We Like.” Both songs are poppy, bright, and energetic – everything a summer song should be.
Maybe it’s because I’ve also missed some comebacks and debuts, but it seems like we don’t have an unequivocal song of the summer? I feel like there has always been one – EXO‘s “Growl” from 2013, Girl’s Day‘s “Darling” and Sistar’s “Touch My Body” and “I Swear” in 2014, AOA‘s “Heart Attack” and Wonder Girls‘ return in 2015, and Sistar’s “I Like That” and EXO’s own release in 2016.
Notice I didn’t include Sistar in 2015. I was being generous and letting other acts fill their spot. I’m going to miss the reliable Summer Queens so much. Lorenza, we should form a support group to deal with this hurt.
Cjontai: I’ll join the Sistar support group. I appreciate how they went out, though, performing their classic summer songs in a medley on music shows one last time. It was a bittersweet goodbye.
Winner’s “Really Really” is one of the few songs I felt embodied the vibe of the season best. It’s got this laid back island beat that puts you in that chill vacation mentality. KARD‘s “Rumor” was also fun. I liked it more than “Hola Hola“, but either song is great club music.
I enjoyed NCT 127‘s “Cherry Bomb” the most this season. It’s one of those jams that causes you make the good stank face, lips puckered with your eyes shut tightly and your nose scrunched up. That hook is so infectious. I got to throw my ass in a circle because it’s that lit.
Leesha: I was thinking that it doesn’t seem like this summer has been particularly impressive but maybe I’m just not over Sistar. That being said, Hyorin and Kisum‘s “Fruity” was really the first song that I felt really embraced the season. Nostalgia? Maybe, but it’s become one of those songs I have to listen to on my way to work to get myself in a good mood. Eric Nam also came out with a song that everyone should go listen to right now: “Like You.” When he was in the US a couple weeks ago he sang it as a preview and it was amazing but the studio version goes just as hard. I legit have listened to this song at least 3 times a day since it’s come out. Rather than a standout song for the whole summer, I’ve just had some favorites here and there. Also, it should go without saying that I’ve played the hell out of Bang Yong Guk‘s “Yamazaki” and B.A.P‘s “Honeymoon” but you all know by now how I feel about B.A.P.
I want to co-sign on Hotshot’s “Jelly” because that introduced me to them this summer and Winner’s “Really Really.” I haven’t listened to Winner much since their debut but this was such a good vibe from them and I hope they don’t get stuck in the YG basement, though it tends to bring some good results.
What were your summer songs of 2017? Which can you recommend to everyone else? Comment down below!
(Images via SM Entertainment, Starship Entertainment, Blockberry Creative, TS Entertainment, Woollim Entertainment, Pledis Entertainment)