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The best K-Pop of summer 2023

By September 12, 2023No Comments7 min read
NewJeans Get Up

Summer 2023 is coming to an official close soon, and the season delivered on an overwhelming amount of strong releases. Some of the best, buzziest, songs were K-Pop releases, many of which we’ve been humming for months straight as they occupy permanent residency in our brains. The K-Pop industry is vast with new and returning artists making comebacks frequently, to the point where keeping up in totality is a fools errand. That said, we’ve tried to narrow it down to some of the best, brightest, and most addictive songs of the summer. Worthy of note too is the sheer, current domination of girl groups. Here are the best K-Pop songs of summer 2023.

aespa – “Better Things”

Closing the summer, Aespa released another English track following their previous songs “Life Too Short” and “Hold On Tight.” The up-tempo dance track “Better Things” is carried mainly through its ebb and flow, with the girls harmonizing with each other. The track differs from Aespa’s usual hyper-pop and EDM-infused tracks about the virtual world they’ve created, “KWANGYA.” In “Better Things,” the girls chant about how they’re over their ex and have way better things to do with their time. Evidently, the concept change has done good for the group, helping them showcase their powerful vocals and their versatility. While tropical up-tempo dance tracks are pretty popular in K-Pop, the way “Better Things” progresses into its bridge and chorus separates and elevates the track from prior releases by K-pop groups. [Fatima Belagam]

Dreamcatcher – “BonVoyage” 

Dreamcatcher stands out among their contemporaries due to a alt-rock focused sound that best emulates 2000s pop-rock. Their latest EP once again demonstrates a variety of influences but “BonVoyage” is the standout. With wailing vocals and a catchy, electric beat, the song bridges the bands pop elements with explosive choruses. [Ally Johnson]

fromis_9 – “Attitude”

Just one of many dance inspired tracks on this list, fromis_9’s “Attitude” dabbles in vocal distortion and synth for it’s overall, engaging effect. The repetitive nature of the chorus is addictive, and the electronic style adds to the overall result which allows the singers vocals to shine while adding an extra flavor to their sonic expression. The simplistic structure and stripped down lyricism allows the production to shine. [Ally Johsnon

Jihyo  – “Killin’ Me Good”

TWICE’s main vocalist JIHYO released her anticipated debut “Killin’ Me Good” in late summer. While not as impressive as “POP” by fellow TWICE member NAYEON, “Killin’ Me Good” is still a solid debut. Thanks to its repetitive hook, the R&B dance track shines through, making it memorable. The track is rhythmic and groovy enough to be a good listen; however, it doesn’t make it the best solo release of TWICE. JIHYO still shines through with her vocals and visuals, but the song still doesn’t beat NAYEON’s bouncy summer anthem “POP!”  [Fatima Belagam]

Jungook feat. Latto – “Seven”

Any fan of BTS knew that the day the main singer, Jungkook, decided to release his own official solo music, that it would be a bop. In his English release, “Seven” featuring up-and-comer rapper Latto, the singer proved just that. Inspired by British garage music, the song is simplistic in nature especially when isolating the catchy chorus, but is enlivened by Jungkook’s crisp vocals which layer and play with versus and delivery, elevating the song beyond the basic sum of it’s parts. It’s the perfect summer anthem, playful, sweet, and endlessly easy to sing along to. [Ally Johnson]

LimeLight – “Madeleine”

The synth and beat heavy “Madeleine” from girl group LimeLight pulsates dance inspired energy. The three member group made their official debut this year with their EP Love & Happiness, with “Madeleine” their latest, infectious single. With a short discography under them, “Madeleine” is a strong declaration of their proposed sound that embraces its dance track elements with an unrelenting pace. [Ally Johnson]

LUCY – “So What”

The four-piece South Korean band LUCY has been existing on the fringes of mainstream, massive appeal since they’re debut. In their latest EP the quartet deliver their best songs to date since “Flowering” and “Flare.” “So What” is the best of the bunch, channeling a frenzied energy that marries both anime OP pacing and sound with rock infused guitar riffs. Bolstered, as always, by the energized violin and Choi Sangyeop’s barrier breaking vocals, “So What” races towards the finish from the moment go, never wasting a moment. [Ally Johnson]

NewJeans – “ETA”

When people talk about summer K-Pop releases, most will note the EP Get Up by NewJeans, the girl group that’s about to take the world by storm. “ETA” might be their most addicting song since “OMG,” with an infectious, old school hook and a sweet and playful delivery that hones in on their youthful exhuberance. Utilizing everything from air horns to drum breaks, the song plays with form and genre and the result is a song destined for repeat listens. [Ally Johnson]

SHINee – “The Feeling”

In their most recent release as a group, SHINEE once again proved why they’re such an integral mainstay in the industry. As they weave in and out of current sounds and older influences, “The Feeling” off of their eighth album, Hard, stands out. Possessing a jaunty backing motif, the song is instantly bolstered by their vocals and how they harmonize with one another, creating a distortion of sound that best encapsulates what sets them apart. Fizzy and sparkly, the song arrives with a requisite to play it at sunset, ideally while driving with the windows down. [Ally Johnson]

SOMI – “Fast Forward”

Embracing electro-pop and deep house, SOMI takes a trip back to 2016 with “Fast Forward.” The Dutch Korean singer wonders how many relationships she must go through before finding the one. While there’s no doubt that SOMI isn’t the best singer amongst other K-pop soloists, she still has a way of creating some of the best dance tracks out of K-pop in recent years. The highlight of the track lies within the insane beat-drop throughout its chorus. For a dance track, the choreography and music video are rather banal, the catchy beat-drop and overall production help distract the listener from all its mediocre aspects. [Fatima Belagam]

Stray Kids – “S-Class”

As one of the most popular boy groups, Stray Kids have meticulously crafted a sound that is distinctly their own. “S-Class,” off their album 5 Star, exemplies this. Written by Bang Chan, Changbin, and Han, the lead single is big, bold, loud, and actively working to overwhelm your eardrums. The hip hop number’s production is top notch with a perfect balance of rap and vocals that utilize R&B, and dance influences. [Ally Johnson]

V – “Love Me Again”

As BTS ventures into what is known as “Chapter 2” of their careers, the members are not wasting much time releasing their solos. V has come out with his own solo, “Love Me Again.” V’s voice echoes throughout the R&B-laced track. The song follows the influences of Daniel Caesar and H.E.R. with mellow and subdued vibes. V croons about longing for someone he was once loved by. “Love Me Again” is the type of song that one might randomly hear at a coffee shop or on a random Spotify playlist and become obsessed with. The track breaks away from dance heavy tracks we usually get from summer releases in k-pop and gives the spotlight to some mellow alternative R&B that focuses more on vocals than production and choreography. V’s “Love Me Again” puts his talent at the forefront showcasing not only his immaculate vocals but also how vast BTS’ artistry is. [Fatima Belagam]

Allyson Johnson

Based in New England, Allyson is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of InBetweenDrafts. Former Editor-in-Chief at TheYoungFolks, she is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Her writing has also appeared at CambridgeDay, ThePlaylist, Pajiba, VagueVisages, RogerEbert, TheBostonGlobe, Inverse, Bustle, her Substack, and every scrap of paper within her reach.

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