Things have really heated up this month in the KPop world with long-awaited comebacks, fresh poolside anthems, and debuts. The ladies from Queendom 2 continued their string of comebacks, which added even more brightness and color to our summer playlists. The gentlemen brought their own kind of heat to our earbuds, as well. Lots of fun songs to talk about in July!
These were my top 10 new releases of the month! If you don’t have time to read it all, scroll to the end to see what my top 3 recommendations are!
WJSN – “Last Sequence”
Released July 5
Their first comeback after winning Queendom 2 allowed the ladies of WJSN to really show off what led them to that crown spot. The first verse is beautiful, but then that chorus drops and it gets me every single time. And the bridge…the vocals are so stunning and powerful. I want a full album of songs like this. Ha! The whole song has this retro vibe that intrigues me; somehow it’s both ethereal and powerful at the same time. I enjoyed their title track “Unnatural” from last year and then got more interested in them after seeing group member Bona in “Twenty-five, Twenty-one.” Because of her, I watched the group on Queendom 2. So in some ways, I’m feeling slightly biased, but not more than I am towards other groups. (See upcoming SF9 review…ha!) All that to say, It’s not very often that I enjoy a new song this much, this quickly from a group I don’t already stan. That should say something! And it makes me want to listen to even more of their music, which is a kudos moment to the group!
WINNER – “I LOVE U”
Released July 5
WINNER is one of those groups that always drops a memorable song full of energy that is totally unique to them. This is another one of those tracks; I think I could’ve guessed it was their song just by listening to it without any more information. Stellar vocals, one of KPOP’s most dynamite rap duos, and quintessential YG energy makes this one of my favorite releases of the month for sure. Every time I get to the second verse, I get so dialed in; Mino and Hoony’s ability to rap around each other and be playful is a high point for me in most of their songs. Put this on the list with other WINNER favorites like “AH YEAH,” “REALLY REALLY,” and “ISLAND.” It’s so pure. The lyrics are packed with cuteness, comparisons to romantic movies, promises to always make sure the other person knows they’re loved. Who doesn’t love that?!
SF9 – The Wave OF9
Released July 13
This new album from SF9 takes us back to a concept that I LOVE with this group. They’ve done the whole sexy-man-concept for a few comebacks now and don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it; but this side of the group is more fun and it’s what drew me to them years ago. I try to listen to as many releases as possible throughout the month, but I kept circling back to this album. The title track, “SCREAM” fills a need in my boy group summertime playlist. As good as it is, the b sides are where the real gems lie. “OK OK” is that b side that I was casually grooving along to and then lost my mind at about the 1:25 mark. Now it’s my go-to summer song for a mood boost. “Summertime Bounce” is the song I’ve been singing while doing everyday things, like taking out the trash or making lunch. It’s all kinds of stuck in my head! “Driver” is my other favorite b side from this album; it’s got a distinct groove to it that every album needs. This will definitely end up being one of my top albums of the year.
HYOLYN – iCE
Released July 18
This month, HYOLYN brought us some fire, ironically, through her new EP titled iCE. In addition to 2 previously released songs, we got 4 new tracks including the title track “No Thanks.” This song will forever be stuck in our heads and added to our list of English phrases that we hear differently. “No Thanks” is a perfect song to show off as many of HYOLYN’s talents in one song as humanly possible. Playful vocal cadences, rap prowess, high notes with ease, and more. Something I find that I consistently enjoy about HYOLYN’s songs is that the composition and production are inviting; b side “Over you” is a great example of this, in addition to “No Thanks.” “Over you” starts really softly, shining a spotlight on HYOLYN’s stunning vocal control. Then it builds to a catchy melody in the chorus and from then to the end, I’m hooked. That’s definitely my most played b side on this EP! I’m glad that she put “Laying Low” and “Waka Boom” on this EP, as well; it’s best to have all these great tracks in one place for old fans and new ones alike.
STAYC – WE NEED LOVE
Released July 19
If you weren’t already aware, STAYC girls are underrated vocal queens. Yes, they’ve had some stellar title tracks that have been super popular, like “ASAP” and “STEREOTYPE”, but what I look forward to the most with each comeback is to hear those vocals. And that’s the point that I don’t hear people talking about enough with this group. Their EP from this month had 3 new songs and a remix of their last title track, “RUN2U.” Their new title track, “BEAUTIFUL MONSTER” brought a new and fresh style to this girl group summer we’ve been having. It wasn’t as bright and beachy as a lot of the new songs we’ve gotten in the last couple of months, but that’s why it stands out to me I think. The two new b sides, “I LIKE IT” and “LOVE” have some distinctive STAYC flavor, but also add something new to their overall discography. I get more and more impressed with this group with each comeback. Definitely don’t miss this short EP.
Xdinary Heroes – Hello, world!
Released July 20
When this band debuted about 7 months ago, I wasn’t totally sure how I felt about them. They had a cool energy that the KBand world was missing, for the most part, but I wasn’t sold on their debut song. This comeback, though, has had me rethinking my opinion. “Test Me” had me hooked from the very first listen. About halfway through the music video, I thought…this is exactly what I wanted from them. “KNOCK DOWN” really spotlights how stellar the vocalists are in this group and has a melody that had me making that signature stank face. The other b sides, “Sucker Punch,” “Strawberry Cake,” and “Pirates”, all have elements to them that I think are doing something really, really right. I wish that bands got the same level of recognition and praise than the dancing KPop groups got, but it is what it is. If you’re looking for something to shake up your popular music playlist, look no further. One word that comes to mind with this album? Quality.
P1Harmony – “Doom Du Doom”
Released July 20
This rookie group has had some fun releases since their debut! In July, this was probably the song that would pop into my head at the most random times. The chorus is so catchy and easy to sing along with! I really love the way the song builds during the first verse into each section that follows. Smooth transitions can make or break a song! The pre-chorus has this really great vocal moment that shows off the really stylish vocals that these guys have, which I always appreciate. The rappers have so much swagger, as well; this group has everything and this particular song doesn’t really lack anything for me. From the guitar intro to the group sing at the end – I’m a fan! If that’s wasn’t enough, the lyrics are all about doing things your own way. “This is my rhythm…this is my song…this how I sing it…” I’m always drawn to songs with this kind of message. We all need that reminder sometimes!
KB (OnlyOneOf) – “be free”
Released July 26
In the last month, 2 members of the boy group OnlyOneOf have released solo tracks. The music videos share a storyline, so it’s been fun to see what the teasers were leading us towards and what that story would tell. Of the 2 songs, the other being “begin” by YooJung, KB’s is my personal favorite. It’s got this really fun groove to it and KB’s vocals are sultry, captivating, and memorable. This is one of those releases that I think should have more views and streams than it does. That’s true of all OnlyOneOf’s releases, though; they have a really different style of music than what we hear in the mainstream KPop circuit. This release definitely fits that description as well. This is one of my favorites from July because every time I listen to it, I hear something different. It’s no cookie-cutter release!
ZICO – Grown Ass Kid
Released July 27
This was ZICO’s first release after completing his mandatory enlistment; it was a long-awaited comeback to say the least. Once again, ZICO showcases his versatility with styles and shines a spotlight on the fact that his distinctive swagger has been greatly missed. Earlier in the month, we got the single, “SEOUL DRIFT,” which is a really catchy and stylish release. The title track for the EP, “Freak” really reminds me of something Block B would’ve released. It makes me wonder if it’s a newly written song, or if it could’ve originally been penned for the whole group. Both of these songs feel like ZICO, which also giving us a glimpse of some newer approaches that make me excited for what he’ll drop next. “TRASH TALK (feat CHANGMO)” feels like some classic hip-hop; “OMZ freestyle” made me yell “YESSS” out loud because there’s just nobody that raps quite like ZICO; and the EP ends with “Nocturnal animals (feat Zior Park),” a groovy R&B finale. Do not miss this EP!
Stray Kids – “Time Out”
Released July 31
And squeezing in at the very end of the month, we have this special single from Stray Kids to celebrate their fandom’s anniversary. Even in the midst of a tour, filming for Idol Star Athletic Championships, and planning for KCON, they still made sure to give something to Stay. This song brings in a fun rock style and paints a carefree picture of running to somewhere far away. The music video couldn’t be more perfect, taking us to a paradise location and helping us dream of what that mental break could look like. This is that song that refills your empty energy tank and when you need that reminder that it’s okay to pause for a mental time out from time to time! It’s a healing song from the boys of Stray Kids straight to you! “Go, let the stress fly away. Don’t worry about tomorrow. So we’ll just have some fun right now.” This release was a great way to wrap the month up!
Let’s wrap this up with what I want to make sure you didn’t miss this month! Be sure to check out SF9’s “OK OK,” KB’s “be free,” and ZICO’s “Freak”!
What were your favorite releases of the month? Share with us in the comments and we hope you’ll return next month to see what our next batch of favorites are!