July’21 K-Releases

Summer is just about to begin.

A summer break groove
HippoPotamic “1, 2, 3”

It’s almost impossible to categorize a song into a singular genre, and it’s the most challenging for indie bands, a group that continuously experiments and mixes sounds. HippoPotamic feels like a genre in-between R&B, alternative rock, pop, electronic, and funk, but what I love about “1, 2, 3” is that it’s less of all those. The overall melody has a lightness and simplicity that matches the lyrics of the protagonist who just wants to have a good time with his friends on one boring day. It gives positive energy that feels appropriate for a summer break mood.

Song: Apple Music / Spotify

아무런 의미 없는 나의 하루
더이상 혼자 있긴 싫어 졌어
누구든 나와 놀아
somebody play with me
어디야 뭐해 let’s go out now

나도 몰라 우리가 뭘할지는
일단 만나 해가 지기전에
눈치 보지 말고
come on and dance with me
turn right turn left

this meaningless day
i don’t want to be alone anymore
anyone come and play with me
somebody play with me
where are you, what are you doing, let’s go out now

i also don’t know what we’re gonna go
let’s just meet before the sun sets
don’t mind others
come on and dance with me
turn right, turn left

City pop galore of sentimental nostalgia
김아름 Kim Areum [SUMMER CITY]

I thought city pop had its moment, and it was soon going to pass, but it’s still here to stay as millennials are craving for the aesthetic of their parents’ nostalgia and revamping with contemporary sentiments and sounds.

Kim Areum’s 2018 single “Line” marked her musical career as a next-generation city pop artist. She has since released two full seasonal city pop albums, with her third, [SUMMER CITY], as her second summer dedication. It begins with a 50-second prologue of a flight attendant’s announcement you hear before departing, followed by “Summer Days” which begins with a sound of a plane taking off. She immediately invites us on a holiday, or just a simple plane ride, that we all long for during these pandemic times. The entire album feels like an escape, a drive into the clear blue sky or a dance under the moonlight. [SUMMER CITY] is also sonically beautiful, a galore of strings, electric piano, and percussion with an unforgettable saxophone (“Drive” is a must-listen). Aside from the saxophone solo break, the title song, “Summer City” (below) is my favourite as it fully embraces the sentimental nostalgia for the days gone and the naive optimism for the days to come, which are my key characteristics for city pop, with a splash of sea breeze to add to the imaginary vacation.

Song: Apple Music / Spotify

나에겐 전혀 낯설지 않잖아
어딘가 묘한 보랏빛 노을도
지나간 7월의 우리를 찾듯이
한참을 모래 위로 발자국만 새겨

니가 제일 좋아하던
오렌지색 하늘이 물들면
꼭 그날로 돌아온 것 같아

우리만의 푸른 설렘
가득히 품은 바닷가
하얀 파도가
날 기다린 듯 여전히 반기잖아

it’s familiar to me
the mysterious purple sunset
searching for us from july
we leave footprints on the sand

when the sky becomes orange
just like how you like it
i feels like that day came back

the blue sea filled with
our blue fluttering hearts
the white waves
greet me as if they were waiting for me

Tropical beach beats
Didi Han “What You Love (feat. 김완선 Kim Wan-sun)”

DJ Didi Han meets 90s diva, the “Korean Madonna”, Kim Wan-sun. Didi Han brings a unique blend of house, hip hop, and R&B, but this collaboration has a tinge of city pop-funk with its dreamy synth and romantic optimism, further heightened with Kim Wan-sun’s dreamy vocals. Released as part of her first EP [Wake Up], this song instantly feels like a summer beat on a tropical beach. In this behind-the-scenes video, Didi Han describes how Kim Wan-sun seems to be creating her own utopia, and this song felt the most suitable for her as a reminder that we can all find and enjoy what we love.

Album: Apple Music / Spotify

난 꿈을 꿔 이곳에서
여긴 나의 유토피아
sing the song

조급해 하지 마
달릴 필요도 없어
너의 템포에 맞춰
이상은 가까이

모두들 엉뚱한 곳에 있어
그 리듬이 아니야

i dream here
this is my utopia
sing the song

don’t be impatient
you don’t have to run
follow your tempo
towards your ideal

everyone’s in a strange place
that’s not the rhythm