Zico is once again heating up the charts with his newest MV “Summer Hate.” Featuring Rain, “Summer Hate” expresses annoyance at the summer heat and longing for lethargy. With South Korea seemingly on the downward curve of a second wave of COVID-19, this song comes at a fitting time as citizens begin to emerge from a second round of social distancing.

“Summer Hate” is basically the antithesis of Crush’s “Mayday” that laments at the redundancy of being stuck inside alone for long periods of time and was released in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic. Conversely, Zico’s song is bright and bouncy, wishing for refuge from the summer sun, obviously implying extended periods of time outside. This song highlights an important update, however: the ability to actually be outside among people engaging in summer activities. To date, South Korea has been heralded as exemplary in containing the novel coronavirus, but government and health care officials remain on high alert. Although confirmed cases continue to rise, numbers remain at “manageable” levels and most businesses currently remain open.

Therefore, Zico’s newest song straddles an interesting time; he implies summer vibes and activities associated with the season as well as expressing a reluctancy to get out of bed and engage at all. In a way this perfectly captures what is happening in the world right now, both in South Korea and internationally, as people cope with protests, a pandemic, and the changing season simultaneously. This dichotomy outlines basically the whole song.

At the beginning of the introduction, there are just percussion licks reminiscent of Afro-Cuban syncopation and featuring an interesting mix of auxiliary instruments rather than a standard drum kit. The stringent saxophone solo is a nice touch as well. As the song progresses, a drum set is added to the mix and brass lines are used as transitions between sections. The underlying bassline is fairly consistent and simple as well. The music itself is not particularly intricate, but it is remarkably effective in creating an upbeat sound perfect for a TikTok dance trend, likely intentional for an earworm summer song.

Interestingly, Rain’s vocals blend seamlessly with Zico’s. Rain mostly sings in the choruses, but without watching the video and listening closely, it is almost difficult to discern when they trade off melodic duties. Zico’s lyrics are incredibly witty and relatable with gems such as “I’m sick of leftover pizza,” “even the air from the air conditioner feels warm,” and “I’m allergic to seawater. Instead, crank up on a summer jam and web-surf.” Though the rhythms outlined in the rapping are subtle and mostly grounded, they flow nicely when juxtaposed with the syncopated percussion.

The imagery is easily one of the highlights of this MV with a mix of cluttered, sandy shots of old gas stations and campsites with fantastical CGI craziness. Special effects run rampant from giant pizza skewered on skyscrapers, clotheslines on fire, melting body parts, and a tiny Zico floating in a cup of water. Frankly, it makes everything more carefree and fun rather than nagging or annoying, a sentiment sorely needed given the world right now. While Rain does not offer a whole lot variety as far as vocals, his presence in the music video is engaging and fun. He vibes along with Zico in crazy outfits, shirtless, and even in a mock TikTok video. The whole video is as extra and overdramatic as it gets in addition to being just visually appealing. I am still annoyed that they are complaining about the heat while wearing thick sweatshirts outside.

Overall, Zico’s newest MV highlights an urgency to get outside and enjoy the summer as well as an excitement to immediately turn around and return to our air-conditioned oasis. With summer temperatures rising and the world coping with intense stress and uncertainty, “Summer Hate” is upbeat, fun, and (ironically) a refuge from a multitude of summer stressors.

(YouTube, Naver, Reuters, Exemplars in Global Health, Images via KOZ Entertainment, Cube Entertainment)