Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Yu Jin Kim
K-pop has made a big move to snag 2023 World Expo hosting in Busan. BTS, chosen as the official honorary ambassador, rocked a concert as part of the city’s bid to host the event. Joining the effort, girl groups played their part to seal the deal. The powerhouse trio of (G)I-DLE’s versatile Soyeon, aespa’s incredible vocalist Winter, and IVE’s distinctive voice Liz dropped a track called “NOBODY,” specially crafted for the occasion. The track blends disco vibes with K-pop flair, showcasing each member’s unique voice. In this article, we introduce five K-pop subunits that bring out that special synergy that sparks magic in their collaborations.
Seulgi-SinB-Chungha-Soyeon: Wow Thing (2018)
“Wow Thing” is a collaborative song released by Red Velvet’s Seulgi, VIVIZ’s SinB, Chungha, and (G)I-DLE’s Soyeon. Produced by Yoo Young Jim, it’s a pop dance track that merges a hip-hop beat with pop music. The song conveys a hopeful message, drawing parallels between the persistent efforts of youth and the transformative journey of a butterfly. Although the song was part of the SM Station project, it was never performed live on stage and was exclusively revealed through music and choreography videos.
Hyojung-Arin-Jang Won Young-Leeseo-Serim-Jungmo: BLUE & BLACK (2022)
“Blue & Black” is a project song for the 2022 Pepsi campaign, a collaboration between Pepsi and Starship Entertainment. This track brings together WM Entertainment’s Oh My Girl members Hyojung and Arin, along with Starship Entertainment’s IVE members Jang Wonyoung and Leeseo, and CRAVITY’s Serim and Jungmo. Unlike other collaboration projects, what sets it apart is that two members from different teams joined forces in one unit. This song, carrying the vibe of a midsummer, inherits the confident energy from the 2021 Pepsi campaign’s collaboration, “ZERO:ATTITUDE,” featuring Soyeon and IZ*ONE. The lyrics convey a message of encouragement, urging listeners to take on challenges without hesitation.
Kai-Seulgi-Jeno-Karina: Hot & Cold (2022)
“Hot & Cold” is a track from the 2022 Winter SMTOWN: SMCU PALACE winter album, an annual release by SM Entertainment. This refreshing and sophisticated pop dance song features EXO’s Kai, Red Velvet’s Seulgi, NCT’s Jeno, and aespa’s Karina, contributing to its charming synth sound. The lyrics playfully depict the contrasting ways of love between a hot-blooded man like summer and a cold-hearted woman like winter, using temperature differences as a metaphor. Additionally, with two male and two female members, there was anticipation for a paired choreography, and the combination of Kai and Jeno, as well as Seulgi and Karina, gave a refreshing twist to the expected performance.
Toheart: Delicious (2014)
“Delicious” is a song that garnered attention as a surprise collaboration between SHINee’s Key and INFINITE’s Woohyun. While it’s commonplace now to see K-pop unit groups with members from different labels, it was rare back in 2014. Moreover, the release of a 6-track album, rather than just a single, showcased the verstaile musical colors of the unit. The title track “Delicious” is a punk-pop song featuring the aesthetic sense of Key and the refreshing vocals of Woohyun. The lyrics are in a form where Woohyun and Key compete for the affection of the same woman, expressing their perspectives through song. A distinctive feature is that there are no parts where both sing the same lyrics. Check out the music show performances where the two fandoms, SHINee World and Inspirit, cheerfully support the stage in harmony.
HI SUHYUN: I’M DIFFERENT (ft.BOBBY) (2014)
If the first half of 2014 surprised K-pop fans with To Heart, the second half had Hi Suhyun. Following their promising performances on the audition program K-pop Star, the R&B master Lee Hi and the rhythmical vocalist Lee Suhyun collaborated on a song. In an era where everyone is shouting their individuality but ultimately sounding the same, these two sing “I am different.” Exchanging the same melody with their differently colored voices, they created a fantastic duet. Both are artists under YG Entertainment, with the song composed by YG’s in-house producer P.K., and rap making contributed by BOBBY from the same agency’s group, iKON.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.