Favorites of 2021: June

We’re pretty much halfway through July, but whatever June in K-pop typically involves a rush of comebacks that can overwhelm a multifan, and this year was no exception. So many groups and artists I regularly follow dropped new music that I found it hard to choose favorites. In fact, no song released in June made it into the top of my Most Listened To playlist because because I just kept cycling between them (meaning I didn’t listen to any of them enough times to surpass the songs that already had a lot of play counts). It was really difficult to decide because I had a lot more “likes” than “loves,” but I think I finally figured it all out.

*Please remember that all of the following is my own personal opinion!*

This Month’s Favorites

Normally, I don’t include songs that are released at the very end of the month – for example, I delayed writing about TXT for a month and put them in this post because they made their comeback on May 31. I do this because I usually don’t have enough time to form an opinion about later releases before the month ends, and I feel like I can’t really call something a “favorite of the month” when it was only actually around for 1 or 2 days. However, this time I made an exception for June because I’m going to release a list of my favorite comebacks of the first half of the year – and I wanted both posts to match timing-wise. I also instantly connected with a couple comebacks that came out in the last days of June, whereas most other songs from this month took their time to grow on me.

Favorite SongFavorite DanceFavorite Music Video
#1LIGHTSUM,
“Vanilla”
NCT Dream,
“Hello Future”
2PM,
“Make It”
#2NCT Dream,
“Hello Future”
2PM,
“Make It”
NCT Dream,
“Hello Future”
#32PM,
“Make It”
LIGHTSUM,
“Vanilla”
SEVENTEEN,
“Ready to Love”
#4TWICE,
“Alcohol Free”
TWICE,
“Alcohol-Free”
Monsta X,
“Gambler”

Favorite Overall Comebacks

#1: NCT Dream, “Hello Future”

When NCT Dream announced they were doing a repackage, I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate it – I was barely done with “Hot Sauce” and feeling like I’d spent enough of my energy on them and their music for a while. But lo and behold, here I am totally captivated by “Hello Future.” Its fresh and positive vibes take me back to early NCT Dream, and I think it’s such a perfect fit for them musically and conceptually. This might actually be my favorite comeback of theirs so far. (Read my post about it here.)

#2: 2PM, “Make It”

I’ve been a K-pop fan for five years, and 2PM sadly has only had two comebacks in all that time. The first one was way back in 2016, when I was brand new to everything and didn’t know them well – so I didn’t appreciate it as much as I could (or should) have. But 2PM made their grand return post-military service with “Make It,” and I was READY. It’s the kind of comeback only an older mature boy group can give: smooth, sophisticated, and undeniably sexy. I listened to a lot of their music before, but “Make It” definitely inspired me to officially become a fan. (Read my post about it here.)

#3: LIGHTSUM, “Vanilla”

I never expected that I’d prefer a brand new rookie group’s debut song over a bunch of releases by my usual favorites, but I really find “Vanilla” THAT addictive. It has everything you could want in a girl group song: it’s catchy, it’s cute, it’s got some sassy girl crush vibes, and it’s even a little bit quirky. I just found myself listening to it over and over, and I even got some of my elementary students hooked on it too. LIGHTSUM has made an exciting debut, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for them. (Read my post about it here.)

#4: TWICE, “Alcohol-Free”

My beloved TWICE returned with a shimmery and sweet song this time around, continuing the more mature streak of music they’ve been releasing the last few years. It’s much more lowkey than I’m used to from them, but it’s still a bop that’s undeniably perfect for summer. COVID-19 makes it hard to tell whether I’ll be able to chill by the pool or the beach for my summer vacation, but I know “Alcohol-Free” will still be my personal theme for the whole thing. (Read my post about it here.)

Albums and B-Sides I Like

As a K-pop listener, it’s fairly uncommon for me to listen to a whole album consistently. I’ll check one out a few times to see if there’s anything I like; but since I listen to lots of different groups, I spend most of my time rotating through different title tracks. I don’t know why, but it’s just how I’ve always operated. That being said, I think it’s important to acknowledge the work that groups and artists put into their albums. So, I want to point out a few albums and B-sides that piqued my interest.

My Top 3 Albums of June

(You can click on the album’s picture to go to a playlist on YouTube.)

#1: 2PM, Must

#2: EXO, Don’t Fight the Feeling

#3: TXT, Chaos Chapter: FREEZE

B-Sides

(You can click the song title to go to the video on YouTube.)

ArtistAlbumB-Sides I Like
BamBam (GOT7)riBBon
(1st mini album)
“Pandora”
“Air”
Brave GirlsSummer Queen
(5th mini album)
“FEVER”
EPEXBipolar, Pt. 1 Prelude of Anxiety
(1st mini album)
“Sling Shot”
EXODon’t Fight the Feeling
(5th special album)
“Paradise”
“No Matter”
Joy (Red Velvet)Hello
(1st mini album)
“Day By Day”
LOONA[&]
(4th mini album)
“Be Honest”
“Dance on My Own”
Monsta XOne of a Kind
(9th mini album)
“Heaven”
“Secrets”
NCT DreamHello Future
(Hot Sauce repackage)
“Bungee”
SEVENTEENYour Choice
(8th mini album)
“Heaven’s Cloud”
“GAM3 BO1”
TWICETaste of Love
(10th mini album)
“Scandal”
“Conversation”
TXTThe Chaos Chapter: FREEZE“Anti-Romantic”
“No Rules”
UP10TIONConnection
(2nd full album)
“Summer Drive”
“Believe in You”
WEiIDENTITY: Action
(3rd mini album)
“Waitin'”
Yugyeom (GOT7)Point of View: U
(1st mini album)
“Running Through the Rain”
2PMMust“Champagne”
Moon & Back
“My House (Acoustic Version)”

(I try to stick with one or two picks per artists, but I HAVE to include the acoustic version of “My House!”)

Special Mentions

This section is kind of a catch-all for different things I want to bring attention to: artists that I don’t normally listen to, songs that I like but don’t have enough material to write a whole post on, songs that I find interesting but aren’t official comebacks, etc.

iKON, “At Ease” (Kingdom finale performance)

I would honestly put all six of the Kingdom finale songs on here, but I’m going to *try* and be sensible and limit myself to two. And out of all of them, “At Ease” is most definitely the one that I’ve listened to the most. As much as I enjoy iKON, I haven’t really connected most of their recent music. I mostly like their more powerful and exciting songs, so I was thrilled when they returned to that – it was exactly what I needed from them, and I was totally here for it.

SF9, “Believer” (Kingdom finale performance)

If “At Ease” is the Kingdom finale song I listened to the most, “Believer” is the one I watched the most. SF9 delivered some seriously stunning performances during the show, and “Believer” was the perfect ending to that creative journey. Plus song is also really nice to listen to outside of the performance and can stand on its own as a single. It’s so good I lowkey wish that it could have been its own comeback.

NCT 127 X Amoeba Culture, “Save”

I can’t believe it’s now been over a year since NCT 127 made a comeback. Since they’ve consistently been my favorite K-pop group over the last few years (in terms of music), the hiatus has hit me hard. Thankfully, they dropped this bop “Save” to tide me over until September. It’s a certified EDM dance jam, and I’m constantly playing it and dancing along.

This Year’s Favorites (So Far)

One of the reasons I created this column was so I could keep track of my favorites in “real time” as I progressed through 2021. This year, I hope to release several new end of year favorites posts in addition to my regular Top 50 (if I can get my act together). So, I hope that writing these down every month will help me better remember exactly how I felt about everything later on.

There are different colors to indicate any changes in the table from the previous table:

  • (NEW) means something has appeared in the Top 10 for the first time.
  • (+#) means that it’s gone up in my rankings.
  • (-#) means that it’s gone down in my rankings.
  • No mark means that there’s no change from last month.

Right now, my habit is paying attention to a comeback for a certain amount of time and then taking a break from it. It’s usually only in the second half of the year that I start revisiting music and re-evaluate my opinions. Also, I haven’t had as much time to listen to or watch K-pop in general lately. So, there aren’t many songs moving up my lists at this point – it’s mostly just me adding in my new favorites of the month and shifting the chart accordingly. The significant changes are more likely to come later in the year.

Favorite SongFavorite DanceFavorite Music Video
#1LIGHTSUM,
“Vanilla” (NEW)
aespa,
“Next Level”
fromis_9,
“We Go”
#2NCT Dream,
“Hello Future” (NEW)
NCT Dream,
“Hello Future” (NEW)
aespa,
“Next Level”
#3SHINee,
“Don’t Call Me” (-2)
SHINee,
“Don’t Call Me” (-2)
2PM,
“Make It” (NEW)
#4aespa,
“Next Level” (-1)
NCT Dream,
“Hot Sauce” (-1)
NCT Dream,
“Hello Future” (NEW)
#5NCT Dream,
“Hot Sauce” (-3)
2PM,
“Make It” (NEW)
NCT Dream,
“Hot Sauce” (-2)
#6SHINee,
“Atlantis”
Oh My Girl,
“Dun Dun Dance” (-2)
SEVENTEEN,
“Ready to Love” (NEW)
#72PM,
“Make It” (NEW)
SHINee,
“Atlantis” (-1)
SHINee,
“Atlantis” (-3)
#8ASTRO,
“ONE” (-4)
LIGHTSUM,
“Vanilla” (NEW)
Monsta X,
“Gambler” (NEW)
#9ITZY,
“In the Morning” (-4)
TWICE,
“Alcohol-Free” (NEW)
TWICE,
“Alcohol-Free” (NEW)
#10TWICE,
“Alcohol-Free” (NEW)
ASTRO,
“ONE” (-5)
EXO,
“Don’t Fight the Feeling”
(NEW)

My Listening Stats for K-pop in 2021 (as of June)

NOTE: These are primarily based on my Apple Music Replay stats.

Most Played SongsMost Played ArtistsMost Played Albums
#1Super Junior,
“House Party”
Super JuniorSuper Junior,
The Renaissance
#2ITZY,
“In the Morning”
NCT DreamNCT Dream,
Hot Sauce
#3aespa,
“Next Level” (NEW)
SHINeeITZY,
Guess Who
#4SHINee,
“Don’t Call Me”
ITZYSHINee,
Don’t Call Me
#5Rosé (BLACKPINK),
“On the Ground”
(G)I-DLE(G)I-DLE,
I Burn
#6(G)I-DLE,
“HWAA”
NU’EST (+3)Various Artists,
Kingdom: Final Episode
(NEW)
#7WayV,
“Kick Back”
Cosmic Girls (+1)Cosmic Girls,
Unnatural
#8ASTRO,
“ONE”
EXO (NEW)NU’EST,
Romanticize (-2)
#9NCT Dream,
“Hot Sauce”
Red Velvet (+1)Chungha,
Querencia (-1)
#10Cosmic Girls,
“Unnatural” (NEW)
ASTRO (-4)Baekhyun (EXO),
Bambi

There aren’t too many changes here compared to the past few months. As I mentioned before, none of the June K-pop releases made it into the Top 10 because I just kept cycling through the title tracks – plus I didn’t really listen to new albums all the way through more than once. “House Party” is at 40-something plays (with ITZY just a few behind), so there was no way I listened to any June song that many times through. Also, I’m stunned by how quickly “Next Level” shot up to the Top 3 in just one month. I knew I listened to it a lot, but I clearly didn’t realize how much.

Favorite Releases of the Year

I’m skipping this category this time around because I’ll be releasing a full write-up on my mid-year favorites sometime in the next few days – I’ll link it here when it comes out!

Favorite Albums and B-Sides of the Year

Favorite AlbumsFavorite B-Sides
#1Super Junior,
The Renaissance
Baekhyun,
“All I’ve Got”
#2NCT Dream,
Hot Sauce
NCT Dream,
“Rocket”
#3SHINee,
Don’t Call Me
Super Junior,
“Burn the Floor”
#42PM,
Must (NEW)
ITZY,
“Sorry Not Sorry”
#5Cosmic Girls,
Unnatural (-1)
Super Junior,
“Tell Me Baby”
#6ITZY,
Guess Who (-1)
SHINee,
“Body Rhythm”
#7(G)I-DLE,
I Burn (-1)
NCT Dream,
“Dive Into You”
#8EXO,
Don’t Fight the Feeling (NEW)
TXT,
“Anti-Romantic” (NEW)
#9TXT,
The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE (NEW)
2PM,
“Champagne” (NEW)
#10NU’EST,
Romanticize (-3)
TWICE,
“Scandal” (NEW)

SOURCES: YouTube, Abyss Company (BamBam), AOMG (Yugyeom), Big Hit Music (TXT), Blockberry Creative (LOONA), Brave Entertainment (Brave Girls), Cube Entertainment (LIGHTSUM), C9 Entertainmemt (EPEX), JYP Entertainment (2PM/TWICE), MNET (“At Ease” and “Believer” performances from Kingdom). OUI Entertainment (WEi), Pledis Entertainment (SEVENTEEN), SM Entertainment (EXO/Joy/NCT 127/NCT Dream), Starship Entertainment (Monsta X), TOP Media (UP10TION)

Cover Image: SM Entertainment (NCT Dream)

2 thoughts on “Favorites of 2021: June

  1. Yesssss 2PM rise! Welcome to the club haaha

    Surprisingly I don’t think I listened to LIGHTSUM at all after the first few listens but your post has inspired me to give it another spin!

    Liked by 2 people

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