War. War never changes. Every summer, the girl groups of K-pop enter the fiercest battle of the year, as comeback is pitted against comeback. Who provided the soundtrack to your steamy summer nights? Who will emerge as 2020's Queens of Summer? Let's find out...
3YE - LIKE THIS SUMMER & ON AIR
3YE have consistently served up a badass look and sound since their debut in May 2019, but special single "Like This Summer" shows off a more cute, relaxed side of the group. It reminds me of some of Wa$$up's carefree summer bops. There's plenty of aegyo on display here, although the song isn't without glimpses of 3YE's harder edge, and the girls seem like they're genuinely having fun with it.
frequency: it's a fun song but it's so different from their usual stuff that i'm a little taken aback lol
reader17: Fun song! Very enjoyble mv :)
In August, 3YE came back with "On Air", taking on the tropical house trend. While it's not quite as unique and badass as their previous releases, the girls' charisma remains on full display. This being the "choreography version" of the M/V makes me wonder if a more traditional M/V is forthcoming. Either way, it's great to see such prolific and diverse output from the group. #Give3YEaTag!
adenar: i love all their new hair colours! especially how they died yuji's blonde bits blue
violoncelliste: i love this song and the choreo vid was great!
APRIL - NOW OR NEVER
Now this is a song and music video that takes me right back to the summer of 2015 (which, coincidentally, is when April debuted). That bright, sunny pop production, those colorful outfits, blue skies and the poolside party theme... This feels just like something Apink, Girl's Day, or even SNSD might have released back in the day. Just a fun, uncomplicated summer jam.
a_suitcase: This is fun and cute. I love the girl with the blue hair!
dio_elaclaire: it's no lalalailala but it's cute and i'll probably watch the mv many times this summer 💙
AREAL - WAKE ME UP
Despite COVID-19 doing a number on the nugu side of the K-pop industry, underfunded companies and groups continue to sprout up like dandelions. Perhaps no one asked for them, but the right kind of person will still treasure them. On the surface, there's not much to set Areal apart so far - "Wake Me Up" sounds quite hacked-together and the low budget is glaringly obvious. Good luck to these girls!
peachypearl: I love it when groups debut with a MV shot in a real surrounding. It always look 100 times better than the cheap CGI box sets that they can't really afford yet.
lizanka23: in some parts it reminds me of electric shock from fx. of course this song is not mixed or produced as well but the girls have talent definitely.
BLACKPINK FEAT. SELENA GOMEZ - ICE CREAM
Blackpink have finally found a 5th member in Selena Gomez, it seems. Unlike many Western artists' features, her lines are actually blended in throughout the song, making her inclusion feel a bit less random. This is the first we've seen of BP's "pink" side since 2017, and it's a breath of fresh air to see them embracing their cute side a little more, although the "black" side is still palpable in Lisa's ever-questionable rhymes. It's a rather minimal, upbeat pop song with lots of American pop influence. Also it may not have an actual chorus? Ah, the never-ending parade of YG weirdness.
runawaydecember: You know what? I don’t hate this. Would I listen to it again? No.
torontok: YG said y'all hate Blackpink choruses so much so we won't give you one this time.
BOTOPASS - FLAMINGO
Botopass are making their debut with a scandal already on their shoulders: three of the eight members were formerly in ILUV, another group from the same company, and were accused of abusive behavior by former groupmate Minah. Both the company and Minah are pursuing legal action. So... you may want to steer clear of this mess and not click play. But if you do, you'll find a fairly catchy yet safe Latin-inspired pop song. If that's your flavor, may I recommend Favorite's "Loca" instead?
paige_nevaeh: I quite like it actually... the girls have charisma and seem to have something about them. But yeaaa - the bullying scandal makes me feel a bit.. idk if cautious is the word but yea.
ginger_star: This is fine I guess. The whole bullying thing has really put me off though.
BRAVE GIRLS - WE RIDE
It's all too easy for K-pop companies to give up on their groups and let them fall by the wayside without so much as an official disbandment. Yet the Brave Girls have escaped that fate and, against all odds, made a comeback! Their new sound, too, is unexpected; while producer Brave Brothers is known for hook-heavy pop anthems, "We Ride" is a laid-back city pop tune. If you're a fan of the Wonder Girls' later work, you'll probably dig the nostalgic '80s vibe here.
nana_the_dwarf: Everything is beautiful and nothing hurts. I’m glad they had such a good song for a comeback.
coyote_revolver: Aw, I love this! The melody in the chorus is so catchy imo.
CHERRY BULLET - ALOHA OE
After changing up their concept earlier in the year, Cherry Bullet are back to their cutesy roots with "Aloha Oe". It's fun, colorful, and had lots of potential to be a summer bop... if only FNC Entertainment had done a few seconds of research on the meaning of the title and the song they sampled. Alas, we are left with another example of offensive cultural appropriation in K-pop.
horichansenpai: If only FNC would get rid of that one melody and fix the song name, then I could properly enjoy it...
premonitioner: i can't even tell if they're saying 'oe' as 'oh yeah' on purpose or not.....
CSVC - NO MERCY
If you're fed up with corporate K-pop nonsense, may I interest you in an indie girl group? Consisting of soloists Cheeze, Stella Jang, Lovey, and Park Moonchi, CSVC are all about the '90s throwback concept and they pull it off with remarkable authenticity. "No Mercy" is a sincere, loving tribute in the style of the pop groups of yesteryear. That drum machine... those glittery eyelids and highlighted hairstyles... it's all here.
timetobegin: The perfect 90s tribute band!!!!
audiograms: Could this get any more nineties?! I LOVE IT what a nostalgia trip.
DREAMCATCHER - R.O.S.E BLUE & BOCA
In July, Dreamcatcher released "R.o.S.E Blue", an OST for the game "Girl Cafe Gun". Although it's an OST, it feels almost like a mainline Dreamcatcher release with its anime-esque sound and melodramatic MV. Melodic hard-rock guitars sprinkled here and there with industrial and trap influences, topped off with sci-fi/fantasy visuals. Yep, that's DC.
bauci: Love it!!! I'm so into their sound and visuals <3
aleksu7: I don't understand shit about the MV but Jiu with that outfit can shoot me in the face whenever she wants...
In August, Dreamcatcher made their official comeback with "Boca", which adds Latin pop to the list of influences they've tried blending into their goth-rock sound. Rapper Dami especially stands out against this new beat. As always, the girls and the MV are gorgeous, but the lyrics may be the best part of this one; they're all about how words can hurt.
belintuchiha: Time to shut up the bullies! AMAZING. It's different but I love it. THE OUTFITS!!!!
senshicalico: this is like... rock meets tropical house? and it's not working as well.
EXID - B.L.E.S.S.E.D
With all the members of EXID having been freed from their Korean label, they've been focusing on Japanese activities since last year and they seem pretty happy. "B.L.E.S.S.E.D" embodies that laid-back feeling; the verses have a chill, brassy '90s R&B kind of sound, while the chorus picks it up with a faster pop hook. Some find it disjointed, others find it relaxed. EXID are vibing, enjoying their success, and putting out whatever they please without following trends.
lightframes: I really like the verses much more than the chorus. The video is really cute. Love Jeonghwa's typewriter.
thomaswilmoore: I kinda love it? But I'm biased towards Taku Takahashi
FLORIA - CHITTY CHITTY
Floria, the latest nugu girl group to chitty-chitty their way onto the K-pop scene, made their debut in August with a song that I can only describe as... Bvndit meets Itzy meets a low, low budget? Something like that. It's actually quite catchy, and with an extra coat of polish and some more time in the oven, I could see it being a hit. Give "Chitty Chitty" a try!
frequency: song isn't awful, though the chorus feels like it came from a completely different one altogether, lol.
tsubaki874: Kinda reminds me of Stellar, I like this!
GFRIEND - APPLE
GFriend have been maturing their sound and image over the past few years, and "Apple" is a pretty dramatic step in that direction. The "power innocent" girls have bitten the forbidden fruit and transformed into a darker, sexier version of themselves. With its haunting, mysterious sound and eccentric "wee-oh-wow" chorus, "Apple" calls to mind some of Red Velvet's more velvety tracks.
pikapika217: I like this song and aesthetically it's very beautiful but is this something uniquely them? Not really.
cxxl: Are we pivoting right back into the sexy concept phase of GG existence? If we are it's gonna be ironic (well more full circle) considering that Gfriend were one of the groups that ushered in the cute concept for the 3rd generation of girl groups.
(G)I-DLE - DUMDI DUMDI
After the melodrama of "Lion" and "Oh My God," (G)I-DLE are back with a much more lighthearted summer bop in "DUMDi DUMDi". The latest culture they've decided to try on is that of the American Southwest - thankfully, no cowboys were harmed. The M/V does a really nice job conveying the sweltering heat of the desert, and the song brings the refreshing coolness of a pool party. It's upbeat, catchy, and wonderfully unproblematic.
typhlogirl: This was such a fun MV?? And the song is really fun too! Nothing groundbreaking, but I think I'll be adding it to my Spotify playlists.
.tsukino: I'm not sure how to describe it well, but this doesn't feel like their song. It's a little too pop for their usual brand.
IRENE & SEULGI - MONSTER & NAUGHTY
In July, Red Velvet's first subunit made their debut: the duo of Irene & Seulgi. The two main dancers show off their charisma and some inventive choreography in "Monster". SM Entertainment loves experimenting at the intersection of pop and EDM, and that's certainly reflected here. That meowing instrumental... those dubstep riffs... It's strange, unique, and distinctively Red Velvet.
eliscodubiolay: the song is way more chill than i imagined it to be considering the theme and it doesn't leave a huge impression, i like it but i don't love it.
vintage_boom: Minus the demon CGI which is laughable I rly love the MV, the song, and this comeback.
Irene & Seulgi followed up their first single with "Naughty", a somewhat more approachable R&B-dance tune. It's smooth and seductive yet highly danceable, as the pair show with their inimicable choreography. They wind around each other like twin snakes and show off some tutting, a type of intricate finger dance. There's also an M/V for the Demicat Remix, a more psychedelic take on the song and the visuals.
avrgaesthetics: they are so so talented. come thru miss irene, she actually seemed like happy to be there in this video lol.
weneedmedicine: This subunit did NOT disappoint at all.
ITZY - NOT SHY
By now, Itzy have firmly established themselves as K-pop's purveyors of girl power and sassy confidence. But with their new single "Not Shy," they've finally put a slightly different spin on their concept. It's still "I love myself," but now it's also "I like you." And musically, it's consistent with their previous output: a loud, modern pop sound with plenty of hooks and lots of chanting.
rosiemotleymind: I like it! It’s completely different from their other singles but I enjoy it and the vibes it gives.
mad_nux: i've listened to it plenty times trying to find the music but it's all noise and disjointed to me.
K/DA - THE BADDEST
What, you thought K/DA would be disqualified from the Girl Group Battle just because they're not real? Voiced here by Bea Miller, Wolftyla, and (G)I-DLE's Soyeon & Miyeon, the League of Legends ladies are back with "The Baddest". It sounds like a slightly toned-down version of their debut single, a slick and synthetic K-pop/hip-hop brag-fest that might get you in the mood to stomp some n00bs, or whatever the gamers say these days.
babyjenkski: Popstar is better imho but this one is so chill.
hellicoptajuuce: idk i feel like Popstar is too iconic for any followup single to have the same level of success
KEEMBO - 99 (GU GU)
Keembo are back with "99 (Gu Gu)", a chill summer track that's perfect for rolling down the windows and cruising by the shore. It's got a retro '70s pop sound and a cute music video featuring Boa and Bohyung making the most of a beach vacation. After all they've endured in the K-pop industry, it's great to see the ladies of Spica having so much fun.
rightclick5ave: never thought I'd hear such a cute and fun and perfect summer song from them
myungung: I like the song, but I have a feeling it's because of their vocals that make it enjoyable, because if it were other groups I'll be like basic summer song.
MAKA MAKA - BURNING POWER
Another nugu group making their debut this summer, the members of Maka Maka have been seen in a few places before; you may recognize leader Heesu from Mixnine, or maknae EunB from The Unit or the now-disbanded group LipBubble. "Burning Power" is a generically bright pop song with a mild house chorus, but the whole thing has enough polish and the girls enough charisma that it's worth checking out.
dior_chic: It’s cute - the chorus is catchy! wont lie I keep hearing bunny power instead of burning and that makes it cuter lol
xoxkenzxox: It's cute. Sounds like something to be played in the background at a pool party. It's not bad.
PINKFANTASY - SHADOW PLAY
PinkFantasy are one of the strangest, most unique nugu groups out there. You may know them as the group with the mystery member in the rabbit costume, but that member is absent here. It's technically a unit comeback, but it's credited to the full group, and it's radically different from their previous releases. "Shadow Play" is a more subdued, seductive song with a "desert" sort of theme. Their company, Mydoll Entertainment, seems to be one of the most supportive and upstanding companies in K-pop, despite PinkFantasy's concepts being hit-or-miss.
xoxkenzxox: I like that they tried a different arrangement than most groups. The chorus actually has a fun bass sound. [...] But that stereotypical "middle-eastern/Egyptian/Indian" sound is annoying.
benihime99: It's tiring to always use the cliché belly dancer/bollywood dance to imply sexy/mature...
RED VELVET - MILKY WAY
While Irene & Seulgi's debut was the talk of Reveluvs this summer, the full group also made an appearance to pay tribute to BoA on her 20th anniversary as an artist. They contributed a cover of "Milky Way" to the Our Beloved BoA EP, a more subdued, velvety version of the classic tune. This is also Wendy's first appearance with the group since she suffered a serious stage accident last December. The full group's harmonies are something to behold.
aeries_amethyst: Awwww, this tugged at my heart strings. It warms my heart to see them all singing together again.
myungung: the harmonisation gives me warm fuzzy feelings. I've missed RV singing as a group
ROCKET PUNCH - JUICY
"Bim Bam Bum", "Bouncy", and now "Juicy". Rocket Punch's branding thus far is pure, colorful fun. "Juicy" is a bit more relaxed than the high-energy chanting of their previous single, but it still feels like a sugar rush. A simple beat paired with a nursery-rhyme-esque melody and lots of fruity visuals makes this feel like a song for a younger demographic.
bloodtaki2: I don't know if this will grow on me. It's upbeat but with no substance to it.
kcaomei: i really like it! i think it's super cute and the chorus is already stuck in my head.
SATURDAY - D.B.D.B.DIB
When it comes to Saturday, my desire to remain fairly objective in these descriptions is stretched thin like an overfilled balloon. They're just... so... dang... cute!!! "D.B.D.B.Dib" is another example of their trademark high-energy, aegyo-filled nugu-pop. Despite a limited budget, the M/V is quite polished and creative. If you're a fan of quirky groups like Momoland, give Saturday a try.
aures: i kind of love it? the chorus is so catchy and i'm super excited for their live stages!
kyungwons: it's no bbyong or mmook jji bba but i probably like it as much as wifi
S.I.S - DON'T WAIT
Despite the title, fans of S.I.S have to wait a long time between releases. They debuted in 2017, and have only had one comeback a year since then. "Don't Wait" is a soft, sweet guitar-driven ballad that feels more like a B-side, but is still worth a listen. While it feels unlikely that S.I.S' company will survive the pandemic-induced financial crisis, they've managed to stick around this long. Whatever is next for the members, I wish them the best.
dior_chic: It’s a nice song albeit kinda boring, but the vocals are lovely and I can see myself listening to this in a field relaxing on a blanket lol
So, now that you've seen the contenders...
CHOOSE YOUR WINNER!
Irene & Seulgi
Source: YouTube: 3YE OFFICIAL (1, 2), APRIL, AREAL official, BLACKPINK, SUPER SOUND Bugs!, 1theK (1, 2, 3), official CSVC, Dreamcatcher official, TOKUMAJAPAN, FLORIA, Big Hit Labels, (G)I-DLE, SMTOWN, Red Velvet, JYP Entertainment, League of Legends, KEEMBO, MakaMaka, Mydoll Ent, SM STATION, woolliment, GENIE MUSIC (1, 2), GIF: Tumblr: saturday-net