Your Cure for the Kpop Summer Blues? K-R&B!

Let’s face it, unless you’re Tim Moore, you’re probably getting very, very tired of the relentless sugary stream of girl group summer songs. AOA, Sistar, Girls’ Generation, Nine Muses, NS Yoon-G. It seems the new trend of summer is for Kpop labels to throw their women onto a beach and give them something uninspired to sing. But fear not! There is an antidote!

If you’re desperate for some artists who don’t take sugar with their pop music, then it’s time you checked out K-R&B. It’s one of the most exciting genres under the wide umbrella of Kpop right now, full of up-and-coming artists that are bursting with talent. No, that’s not a euphemism for “good looks.” These artists are the real deal, but most of them haven’t received the recognition they deserve. 

Technically, K-R&B has been around at least since the 1999 duo Fly to the Sky. But more recently, the scene has been dominated by solo artists like Zion.T and Taewan. There are also some amazingly talented women lighting up the stage, like Boni, Satbyeol, and Hoody, to name a few. But since I’m trying to cure your summer blues, let’s focus on the K-R&B artists who are releasing new music, right now, without an ounce of sugary sweetness.

Jonghyun - “02:34”

Okay, maybe there’s a tiny bit of sugar! If there is, it’s probably in Jonghyun’s “02:34” (or “2:34am”), released through MBC’s Blue Night Radio, of which he is the late night DJ. We haven’t had an official release from the multi-talented SHINee member since Base, which I called “pure entertainment” in my review. As for “02:34,” it’s a song inspired by friendship, specifically by the late night travels of Jonghyun to meet his friends after a long night of recording. And can you hear it? Music video or no, “02:34” evokes a summer night. Rainfall gives way to an electronic beat, then the piano and drums join Jonghyun’s silky voice. It’s the perfect foil to the bright colors and exposed skin of so many recent girl groups.

Nieah - “Why”

We could not be more excited to hear the newest release from Nieah, “Why.” And we’re also thrilled to see her working with Mute and Jay Dope again, the same producers that helped create “No Rush” and “Tell Me Why.” Seriously, this girl has a voice that will kill you just so it can bring you back to life. All hyperbole aside, this is one of the best K-R&B releases I've heard. Stay tuned - there might be more from Nieah in the next few weeks. A mini album dropping in July was mooted a few months ago, so we’ll see if this is a one-off or part of something larger.

G.Soul - Love Me Again

New music from G.Soul? Yes, please. Released June 29, three-song album, Love Me Again, has been on repeat for me. “Love Me Again” is searching and hopeful. I’m lost in the moody, ephemeral “Beautiful Goodbye,” and crushed by the insistence of “Stop Running from Love.” G.Soul was a revelation with his long overdue debut album, Coming Home, bringing to Kpop a style reminiscent of Canadian artist, The Weeknd. When your first album is 15 years in the making, new music just six months later is a blessing! Sorry, no official music video yet for “Love Me Again,” but it’s coming!

Crush - Oasis

And last, but certainly not least, Crush is back with the brand-spanking-new album, Oasis. I’ve been a huge fan of Crush since Crush On You, his debut album full of Frank Ocean vibes. Crush’s collaboration with Zion.T at the beginning of the year was, for me, “immaculate.” And now we have new music to sink our teeth into. Summer blues? Get outta here. 

But do me a favor: listen to "You and I" first. Yes, "Oasis" will get all the attention, a big single featuring the ever-popular Zico. But with “You and I,” Crush proves that he’s not only one of the very best in K-R&B, but he might be one of the best global R&B artists. This song doesn’t have the feel of a Miguel song - it’s better. As for "Oasis," it's a fun song, but dangerously close to becoming...a sugary summer song! Maybe there is no escape.

Zander Stachniak is a southern-born, Chicago-based writer who first discovered Kpop through ShoutCast Radio. His biases are f(x) and Block B.


  1. Hoody actually released a single not so long ago with producer Cokejazz that's worth checking out!

  2. Holy shit I'm just now discovering this site and it's incredible! Honestly you guys are doing some dope work, keep up all the critical pieces and reviews! <3


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