June at Seoulbeats equals having Summer comebacks flooding our music reviews. In the past month, there have been many releases K-pop fans have been eagerly waiting for. Day6, BtoB, Shinee, Black Pink, Taeyeon…and the list goes on. Many debuts have also taken our breaths away, with Katie Kim’s “Remember” generating quite a buzz, as well as Kim Donghan’s surprisingly stellar debut with D-Day.
In the hype between old names and new ones, some still manage to slip through our fingers. If you’ve missed the funky and colourful releases in June, it’s time to catch up!
From its start, the MV’s retro concept cannot be more distinct. With the flat digital aesthetics reminiscent of 60s Japanese animation, it brings us immediately back in time. The rough disco beats make the theme even more prominent. Yubin is not afraid to go all the way with the concept, both visually and musically. She dresses up in flashy outfits, puts on large sunglasses, and goes to the extent of stepping onto a fanciful stage during her dance parts. Even her choreography follows in the style of retro disco moves.
As part of Wonder Girls, Yubin has always exuded aloofness, being the rapper of the group. Her solo debut with “Lady” is almost a shock, but an impressive one. Rather than being confined to a single image and vocal role, she is finally given the chance to show off her voice. We finally get to appreciate her deep vocal colour.
“Lady” is a concept driven song, but it does so successfully with a surprisingly layered melody. It is interesting to bring back an old genre, and put a trendy twist on it, especially in this era of electronic music. Returning to the roots of electronica and electronic-pop is a travel through time. Easy to groove to, it is a track that spotlights an idol that seems to have fallen off the grid for some time.
Having only debuted early this year, Girlkind has been gaining a fanbase since their debut with “Fanci.” Their comeback with “S.O.R.R.Y” takes on an entirely different tone. “Fanci” was overloading with character and heavy beats. “S.O.R.R.Y” changes their image to suit the Summer.
“S.O.R.R.Y” falls into the typical girl group concept as a bubbly upbeat track. The MV plays with the storyline of a road trip. Filmed with the seaside as their backdrop for parts of the MV, it is impossible to ignore the choice of vibrant colours. Cruising with the hood of a car down, having fun at the beach, the girls have thrown the bad girl image out the window.
A song with a catchy chorus, it is perfect to groove with on a long drive. For a new group, they have done well in putting out a tune to suit the vibes of the season. Even though “S.O.R.R.Y” is not ground-breaking, Girlkind have revealed their potential for executing a range of music genres.
Another group trying on a colourful upbeat concept, Busters have the advantage of their members being extremely young. Their oldest members, Minji and Hyungseo, are both born in 2001. Without having to do much, they exude youthfulness and are the perfect fit for their newest release, “Grapes.”
The MV’s aesthetics bring to mind lollipops and bubblegums, adopting the transitions often used in candy commercials. The title of the track itself is also telling, with its obvious reference to fruits. The song aims to be a refreshing drink for a hot summer. If you’re looking for a tune to cheer you up, “Grapes” offers that element of joy that is not easily conveyed without sounding boring.
A.C.E, “Take Me Higher”
A fairly new group, having debuted only in 2017, A.C.E’s “Take Me Higher” was surprising in terms of its vocal strength. Being a dance group, I was not expecting much. I admit I was too quick in making judgement. In “Take Me Higher,” the boys belt out notes while at the same time delivering beautiful falsettos. At the same time, their choreography is swift and sharp. The group is screaming potential for success.
The MV is also an appealing bricolage showcasing their dance, as well as their fun personalities. From the MV’s beginning, the music falls in pace with the transition between images, creating an aesthetic harmony rarely seen in newer groups. This attention to music and image blending is carried throughout the MV, albeit subtly. From transitions to facial expressions, and later the choreography, the filmography is a joy to watch.
Furthermore, the musical complexity is evident in the play of rhythm, especially with the bass that surfaces and dips strategically. The group makes a statement: they have the vocals and the dance skills. The song delivers what its title promises. “Take Me Higher” is not only uplifting, it will make listeners feel like flying.
Unlike the other girl groups mentioned in this article, fromis_9 exudes a maturity despite their relatively recent debut. “DKDK” is compositional more stable, with the build-up from the verses into a fast-paced chorus. However, they balance the rhythmic portions with a slowing down in the song’s bridge and pre-chorus. The high and lows mapped out with the tune creates a dynamic melody that makes the song interesting despite knowing it’s a typical dance pop track.
The MV is also a pleasant experience, fusing fantastical elements into a realistic backdrop. The girls are dressed as though having walked out of a comic book. They have brightly coloured matching clothes, high socks, cutely designed pinafores, among many others. They chase after a cat, only to find one larger-than-life.
The aesthetics to the MV is drizzled with the flavour of a fairytale, and it is certainly a magical experience. Unlike the other comebacks which aim for cheeriness to be conveyed in a straightforward manner, fromis_9 offers a surreal escape. After all, what better way to take a break than daydreaming of lying down on a huge fluffy cat.