Some songs just scream summer. And with July approaching, I’m hoping to hear quite a few of them soon. But the first single to really embrace the sunny pop stylings of the season isn’t actually from Korea. Japan beat k-pop to the prize in the form of Junho’s deliriously catchy Ice Cream. Given his stature as a veteran k-pop idol with group 2PM, I can’t help but wish he would have positioned this as a comeback in his homeland. Korea could use a jolt of ridiculous, colorful fun.
Either way, I’m just thankful that Ice Cream exists. The song had me from the moment the funky, syncopated 80’s beat kicked in. Junho went retro last year with the excellent DSMN, and it remains a match made in heaven. His character-filled vocal fits the era perfectly. But while DSMN took a more hard-hitting approach, Ice Cream pumps up the goofy energy to create a track that falls right on the edge of novelty without quite succumbing. In a way, it feels like a pseudo-sequel to NCT Dream’s bright, sugary-sweet Chewing Gum from last year, albeit with a more commanding, funk-influenced delivery.
In a year that has lacked a strong series of full-throated choruses, Ice Cream‘s tongue-twister of a hook feels like a breath of fresh air. Yes, the lyrics are about as inane as can be, but the agile melody rides the break-beat so well that it hardly matters. Try as you might to roll your eyes at the sheer ridiculousness of it all, the song is going to catch up with you eventually. That’s the power of a solid pop hook, and Ice Cream is essentially one volley after another.