Most of the time, a k-pop group’s title track is the best song on their album. But, sometimes b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.
I was pretty hard on Rocket Punch’s Juicy, and still think that it conforms to some of today’s worst girl group tropes. Thankfully, the rest of the mini album is much stronger. Honestly, I’m really questioning Woollim Entertainment’s judgement at the moment. I just can’t understand how they thought Juicy would be a better single than Summer Punch. Not only is Summer Punch the superior song and showcase for the group, but it’s more closely aligned with the season and even drives home Rocket Punch’s brand. It’s practically a no-brainer. The only explanation I can come up with is that Woollim thought that Juicy might score the girls a CF for smoothies or something.
If Summer Punch had been a single, it would be the most convincing girl group summer track of the year so far. That doesn’t mean it’s absolutely amazing, but it dials back the cutesy vocal delivery that’s marred so many similar 2020 songs in favor of a more timeless performance. The instrumental hinges on a catchy bass guitar rhythm, not unlike Oh My Girl’s sleeper hit Dolphin (another reason this should have been a single!). This gives it a buoyant, freewheeling energy that reminds me a bit of Red Velvet’s immortal classic Red Flavor.
This appeal extends to Summer Punch’s melody, which is well-structured and addictive from the get-go. It’s rhythmic to a fault, but carries a sense of momentum through its mix of sung and chanted elements. The second verse gets a little too aegyo for my taste, but not in an overly jarring way. And… is that a Flavor Flav vocal sample hidden deep in the mix during verse one? I doubt it, but it sure sounds like a “yeeeaaaah, boy!” to me. That would certainly be a K-pop girl group first!
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