On the K/Queue — June & July 2018, Part 2: Singles
Singles of the summer by Golden Child, Taeyeon, Yubin and more
As promised, this is the singles portion of this month’s On the K/Queue. June and July was one productive period, so it’s worth highlighting the songs as much as the mini albums released during the season. I didn’t include acts whose mini albums already appeared on the first part of this feature, though just know they also put out memorable singles.
Crush: “Cereal” ft. ZICO
Crush bounced back from his downcast single “Bittersweet” in July with a much more light-hearted mini album, Wonderlost. Maybe you can guess with that title, but his lead track with ZICO is a example of a more playful record from the singer.
Golden Child: “Let Me”
Woollim’s boy-band rookies serves a charming summer anthem in “Let Me.” The happy-go-lucky guitar pop recalls early One Direction, and so does the group’s desire to fulfill your every whim.
Gugudan SEMINA: “SEMINA”
First was OGUOGU, and now Sejong, Mina and Nayoung form another subunit out of Gugudan. While both are supported by a peppy R&B band, SEMINA has a more professional draw with the single teasing the fullness of the trio’s vocals, especially Sejong’s.
Kim Dong Han: “Sunset”
Kim Dong Han struck out solo in June with Sunset, and the title track is a proper dance-pop to re-introduce him after the dissolution of JBJ. While the song initially goes for a soft-pop route with its sensual guitar riff, it shifts to one distorted electro bass line in the chorus to sets up an edgier impression.
Kyungri: “Blue Moon”
“Blue Moon” pulls a neat yet risky trick for a solo debut single: just as the crystalline house beat climbs to its peak, it mutes everything but the thick bass line, leaving 9Muse’s Kyungri all on her own. She goes on unfazed, though, and continues to slowly draw one closer into her world.
Laboum: “Between Us”
Laboum’s last single capitalized the most upon summer fever, but its comeback sounds like it came from a whole different group. “Between Us” takes a chance on sultry R&B instead of sticking to cutesy pop, and the effort pays off.
Sleepless summer nights need a soundtrack, too, and MelodyDay hands in a moody R&B single fitting for such a scene. The synths click like a ticking clock behind the melancholy music, and the yearning lingers as the track burns slow.
Rookie girl group NeonPunch debuts with a grand house-pop single in “Moonlight.” Everything builds up to the huge chorus, driven by a brazen sax line and an equally energetic piano riff.
Saturday: “MMook JJi Bba”
Saturday is another new girl group makes a big splash with its debut single. That sax line in the chorus definitely leaves a impression along with that shout-out-loud hook — who knew “rock, paper, scissors!” would be such a great pop chant? — but that Guetta-circa-2009 synth line in the verses packs a punch too.
SHINee: “I Want You”
The Story of Light EP2
SHINee’s second single from its Story of Light series mellows down the upbeat disco of “Good Evening” for a more intimate R&B. The chorus finds the group feeling bittersweet and more emotionally vulnerable especially in light of recent events.
Taeyeon: “Something New”
While she turned into an icy disco queen for her solo debut, Taeyeon follows it up with a more classy get-up. Backed by an elegant, laid-back funk, she sings as a bashful romantic dreaming about how there’s got to be something better.
Triple H: “Retro Future”
An entire year after HyunA, Hui and E’Dawn announced their joint unit Triple H, the trio hits back with a sequel this summer that matches the retro funk of their debut single, “365 Fresh.” They up the ante here if not in pop thrill, then definitely with its heavily styled music video.
UNB: “Black Heart”
The winning boy group of The Unit takes a step back from its dramatic debut single for a more playful follow-up. The boys appeal with a more traditional boy-band approach than the high-art music video of “Feeling,” but the high-energy song moves just as stylish.
Varsity tries its best to convince you who’s more perfect to be by your side in the sentimental dance-pop “Flower.” It’s tough to resist after witnessing those synths crackling underneath the emo pianos burst into electronic fireworks in the chorus.
Wanna One: “Light”
If the trap-pop bombast of “Boomerang” from March was a refinement of “Light It Up,” then “Light” plays spiritual sibling to Wanna One’s breezy dance-pop staple “Energetic.” The slightly somber mood cast upon the pop-house beat answers to its chorus trying to let go of doubt and uncertainty.
Yubin goes solo with a glamorous city pop record with a sound that follows the retro-queen legacy of her former group Wonder Girls. She tackles the bubble-era disco with attitude, waving goodbye to guys who can’t handle her lifestyle because she ain’t got time to waste.
More K-pop singles from June and July…
- Summer has so far been a fantastic season for boy groups. Here’s a list of a few: “Grand Bleu” by 100%, “Always You” by Astro, “Keeper” by The Boyz, “Sorry for My English” by IN2IT, “Lover” by Teen Top.
- Following her mate Sojung, Ashley of Ladies’ Code broke out solo with tropical pop single “Here We Are.” Though I prefer its night-time companion “Answer,” it has been exciting following her with her promo.
- Blackpink returned with “Ddu-du Ddu-du” along with its first mini album, Square Up. My favorite thing about it? Lisa’s neon-green gloves. Or maybe her messy rap in the Japanese version.
- Chung Ha put out her own summer single with “Love U.” Though it feels more like a safe detour, it’s tough to follow up such a powerful anthem like “Roller Coaster,” so I don’t blame her for taking a little break.
- Gun shots pierce Day6’s new single, “Shoot Me.” Cliche, maybe, but it still works wonders to help deliver yet another punchy chorus for this rock band.
- I already covered GFriend in the mini album section, though the group didn’t stop there. “Wanna Be” for the drama What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim is classic GFriend. Yuju from the group, meanwhile, worked with Suran for solo R&B track “Love Rain” that sounds outside of the group’s usual affair.
- After waving bye-bye to a frustrating relationship in “Dally,” Hyolyn returns quick with a more sunny dance-pop single, “See Sea.” She sings a more positive outlook there, too, under the influence of a new person who caught her eye.
- Lovelyz barely released “That Day” at the end of April (their new mini album, Heal, was a favorite for this column that month) but they already brought another hit and spoiled us for the summer with “Wag-zak.”
- MAMAMOO kept busy with yet another new mini album, Red Moon. The group’s take on Latin pop in “Egoistic” was fine as a lead single, though the mini album had better pop exercises, like “Midnight Summer Dream.”
- Minseo dropped a single each month of June and July, first with “Is Who,” then “Zero.” While the latter aimed big, the playfulness of the former was more of my favorite.
- Momoland’s seemingly endless promo run of “Bboom Bboom” (now also available in Japanese!) finally comes to a stop to now push… more of the same in “BAAM.” It’s also a song better experienced in audio only or a TV performance rather than its controversy-stirring music video.
- A simple, water-droplet beat assists the title track of NAVI’s Monday to Sunday mini album. What’s better, though, is the chill hip-hop track “Bloom” that closes out the record.
- ONF aimed big and bold in “Complete,” betting it all with a cheesy tie-up hook going “you complete me” and an EDM-backed sax line like it’s 2014–2015. At least the singles fully gets them out of its shell.
- Red Velvet’s Japanese debut single “#Cookie Jar” was… Not so sweet, though the candy shop collaboration in promotion for the mini album was oh so glorious. Let’s just now look forward to the full English version of “Bad Boy” in the upcoming summer mini album.
- Didn’t make as much of a splash for me as Taeyeon’s, but former SNSD sister Tiffany Young also put out a solo single, “Over My Skin,” that moves on from her disco-rink days of 2016 into a more contemporary field of pop.
- Twice joins the season fun in “Dance the Night Away.” The rather basic EDM sound is admittedly more of a cash-grab for the summer season, but who am I to ruin a simply good time?
- Cosmic Girls’ Luda and Seola joined forces with Weki Meki’s Kim Doyeon and Choi Yoojung as WJMK all in the name of soda, and the resulting jingle “Strong” was not so bad. I’m willing to put in my coins to Pepsi if we can get a few more different WJSN/Weki Meki crossovers.
- Speaking of Cosmic Girls: Mei Qi and Xuan Yi made it to the final line-up in the Chinese edition of Produce 101, and their debut single with the rest of the winners as Rocket Girls dropped toward the end of July. It’s not K-pop, so I won’t cover their progress from here on out, but this at least was worth mentioning.
Phew! Do you need something to take all this with you? Here’s a YouTube playlist of all the songs featured in this column, plus a few more I didn’t get to cover!