Summer Sluggies: The Booms and Busts Of This Summer’s K-Pop


Guess what? There were a lot of K-Pop releases over the past three months. With September and the fall season rolling in, the last of the summer concepts are trickling in so now is as a good a time as any to look back and see which singles were keepers and which were duds*.

*Feel free to suggest any gems and/or abominations to K-Pop if I miss any.

And your Summer Sluggie goes to…

MVP of the Summer: f(x) – “Red Light”

Yeah, in a twist the best song of the summer had more of a Halloween vibe than it did a vacation vibe. It’s unfortunate that the drama following the promotion of “Red Light” may very well be all that anyone remembers thanks to Sulli’s ethering/exile/hiatus because the actual song is the best thing that f(x) has ever done.

Runner Up: Orange Caramel – “My Copycat”

The After School sub-unit has surpassed their main group in terms of relevance, concept and singles. “My Copycat” is yet another Orange Caramel offering which sounds completely like Orange Caramel and completely unlike anything else in K-Pop. The group is on its own wavelength and no one else has come close to emulating the bizarre joy of an Orange Caramel music video.

Surprise Sleeper of the Summer: Wa$$up – “Fire”

Ostensibly made for the World Cup, “Fire” is better than that damn Shakira song that no one could escape for a solid month. The beat and video are a sort of aggressive tackiness that somehow circles around to charming. “Fire” may have come and gone without so much as a flash but it’s an addictive little ditty that deserved more love than it received (long live Nari).

Runner Up: Lodia – “I Got a Feeling”

Consider this the one plug for my annual Rookie Group to Shamelessly Plug. The self-composed soft western-influenced EDM single is the type of easy-listening that is all too often missing from pop music generally, a laid back and chill song that isn’t a damn ballad.

Disappointment of the Summer:   Hyomin – “Nice Body”

Holy shit, how could T-ara and CCM have Jiyeon’s solo debut gone so right and then have Hyomin’s debut go so blandly awful?

Runner Up: Girl’s Day – “Darling” 

I almost forgot about “Darling.” That’s pretty much all that has to be said about it (Sojin though).

Summer Sluggies are voted on by the various media experts, industry insiders and musical critics that reside within my head. Yes, the fall doesn’t begin until late September but it’s a slow news day and I’m pretty sure that nothing’s going to change these rankings much. 



  1. It will be interesting to see what happens with Sulli. I don’t see what SM can do to repair her image as she already had detractors over Choiza and half-assing performances at times, and now she has picked up the reputation of being a drama queen and torpedoing f(x)’s comeback and an repackage promotion. It’s really sad as f(x) is right on that cusp of becoming a top-tier group with 2NE1, SNSD, and Sistar (Girl’s Day seems to be on that cusp too for those wondering why I didn’t mention them). At least if SM sacks Sulli from f(x) or she quits f(x) the group will be fine and maybe even better. I just hope we don’t have to wait a year or more to hear from them again.

    In answer to why Hyomin’s solo debut went so poorly, I think the answer is that CCM was involved. That company isn’t well managed (Though it seems to have stabilized some). Fortunately they haven’t destroyed T-ara completely. At least they seem to find good songs for T-ara to release. If they have another song as successful as “Number 9” it should put a lot of that bullying scandal behind them with most people.

    1. But CCM was also responsible for Jiyeons solo release too. Releasing good music videos is actually something ccm does relatively well. Just dropped the ball on Hyomin’s.

  2. Kpoptartsarebestpoptarts · · Reply

    Well, you got the color right anyway. The best song released this summer by far was Hyuna’s Red. Runner up was Short Hair by AoA and right behind was Fiestar’s One More. My sleeper is WAX’s Be Amplified. Those four songs will probably be the only ones added to my regular rotation.

    I had actually almost forgot what Red Light sounded like, so I watched the MV again. All I have to say about it is LUNA. The world needs more Luna.

    1. Fiestars One More was my next one, I played that one a ton when it came out. And yes. LUNA!

    2. Yeah – Hyuna’s ‘Red’ and Fiestar’s ‘One More’ are two of the best releases of the year.

      I’d probably give the “Artist of the Year (so far)” award to Orange Caramel. Best music videos, most creative live stages, and all three songs were catchy.

      1. Huh, y’all liked “Red” a lot more than I did. I thought it was really good, don’t get me wrong but I was pretty much over it after a week of playing it.

  3. how dare you miss Fiestar.

    1. One More was probably the catchiest song I heard this summer but I like f(x)’s video better and OC’s work is just so damn charming. One More is definitely the most played song of my summer but it’s not my favorite oddly enough.

      1. preach. ‘One More’ is so damn catchy that their title song want me to replay it every single time. OC’s new song is lackluster but the video is very creative as hell.

        So, EXID’s Up & Down doesn’t charmed you? i see no their review here as you said.

      2. EXID’s ‘Up & Down’ is what happens when (what’s left of) 9MUSES tries to do Orange Caramel 😉

  4. I looked at my playlist and put my vote in for ‘One More’ as well. If Fiestar can keep up the momentum, this will be the track that elevates the group (more Linzy, please).
    I think only other song I played more around the same time was ‘Hair Short’ by Wings. I believe that that was released earlier but it’s such a darn good track and better than their follow up single ‘Blossom’.
    On a side note, Stellar’s ‘Mask’ is surprising good, albeit with their usual sexploitation.

    1. yeah. Stellar’s new song is good in dramatic way. But still cannot beat Marionette’s catchiness.

      their sexploitation is toned down, though. that’s a good one.

    2. Hair Short was released in March. It’s my favorite song this year by a long shot, and certainly one of my all time favorites. The number of times I’ve listened to it is well into the ridiculous. It’s the only Kpop song that I’ve actually memorized every word.

  5. black soshi · · Reply

    ‘Red’ would have been my choice too, but I don’t get a vote.

  6. You didn’t like Kara’s new single, Yellow Slug?

    1. It’s ok but I can’t help but compare it to STEP and it just doesn’t compare.

  7. I just got around to listening to BESTie’s new single (there is no MV for it). I’d have to put this on a short list of the best summer songs, as well:

    1. Thanks for this. I had to turn on VPN to watch this in my location but ‘니가 필요해 (I Need You)’ is an enjoyable track. The video itself is painful to watch as the girls look even skinnier than before. I hope they are given more than a sweet potato a day!

    2. Woah, I’m getting addicted to ‘Bestie’s ‘I Need You’. In lieu of a MV, below’s the always enjoyable dance practice video. Also, is anyone else hearing shades of Sistar’s ‘Loving U’ in this track? I swear that these girls are going to out-sistar Sistar.

      1. They are very Sistar-y (including having a great vocalist in Uji).

        Which is one reason I thought they might have more success than most nugus. Hasn’t quite happened yet. The fact that they released this song without a MV isn’t a great sign.

      2. Yep, no video is a sign their company is likely really struggling and can’t afford to produce one or has lost confidence in the group and feels it would not be money well spent. In the 70’s you could get away with not having a video, but not anymore.

      3. Yeah, even the dance video is light on choreography.. can’t fault the mini-skirts though!
        I do hope they make it since 3/4 of BESTie are already ex-members of EXID, with Uji/Yuji even being a previous JPY trainee that was suppose to debut as a trio with Secret’s Jieun and SISTAR’s Hyorin.

  8. Thanks for mentioning Lodia. Could comment on all the other groups and songs, but I give major kudos to Lodia for I got a feeling. The album cover is horrendous, and the remix should have never been done, but still they get my best summer song award.

    1. Woo, yeah Lodia is on my wavelength right now.

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