Live concerts and face-to-face fanmeets may still be scarce, but the year has been abuzz with many K-pop comebacks satisfying fans at home to the fullest. And we’re even only halfway through 2021. There’s more to be excited about in the next months, but first, let’s take a look at the best K-pop comebacks that reinfused zest into our quarantine life in the first half of 2021.
SHINee – Don’t Call Me (February 22)
SHINee’s back! And there’s more to this than just Taemin, Key, Onew, and Minho being back together since 2018. To fans, there’s familiarity in sound and style—with their staple experimental music mixed with R&B and dance-pop styles. But there’s also something refreshing to be had especially from the group’s showcase of performance and versatility in this nine-track album.
ATEEZ – ZERO: FEVER Part 2 (March 1)
ATEEZ has followed up last year’s ZERO: FEVER Part 1 strong with a Part 2, with title track Fireworks (I’m the One) breaking through charts in South Korea and abroad, including Gaon and Billboard. The album’s seven tracks span various genres from Firework’s forceful EDM and synth-pop Time of Love to the gem that is Take me Home with its nostalgic ‘80s-style saxophone solo.
Super Junior – The Renaissance (March 16)
The Renaissance is a symbolic return for Super Junior as they passed the 15th year mark in the industry, proving the power they hold over K-pop fans of all ages. The group has mastered traversing through time with songs that are both nostalgic and modern. An old song Raining Spell for Love has also been revived with a mellower, more sentimental remake version.
ENHYPEN – Border: Carnival (April 26)
Border: Carnival is ENHYPEN’s first comeback after their debut last year, and this new album sums up the excitement of the seven members’ foray into the world of fame. Pop-rock lead single Drunk-Dazed is full of passion and energy that’s quite unique to the ears.
ITZY – Guess Who (April 30)
ITZY strips off their girl crush image in the MV of Guess Who’s more daring lead single Mafia in the Morning. The album has also brought the group for the first time on Billboard 200, peaking at #148. Also from the album, Not Shy stands out with its title-track quality, country rock vibes, and intricate choreography.
NCT Dream – Hot Sauce (May 10)
NCT Dream continues to open up new horizons with their latest comeback album Hot Sauce, which quickly climbed to the top of the Gaon Digital Chart. The septet has also debuted on Billboard Global 200, unsurprisingly so with the title track’s blend of Korean, Spanish, and English lyrics.
BTS – Butter (May 21)
After the group’s first purely English hit Dynamite in 2020, BTS gets closer to international ARMYs with another English summer bop Butter, which took inspiration from classic R&B legends Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. And as expected from the world’s hottest K-pop act, Butter quickly conquered various charts including Billboard and broke streaming records on YouTube and Spotify among others.
TXT – The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE (May 31)
TXT comes back like a beacon of light with an album that’s both relatable and inspirational especially for the youth in these troublous times. Each of the eight tracks tells of TXT’s bittersweet journey through growth, love, and adulthood, at the same time showcasing the quintet’s music writing and production prowess.
EXO – Don’t Fight the Feeling (June 7)
Two years is worth the wait for an EXO comeback with seven members including Chinese member Lay and fresh-from-enlistment D.O. and Xiumin. Don’t Fight the Feeling is also Baekhyun and Chanyeol’s last treat to fans before their own military enlistment. The album is the perfect summer playlist with its groovy title track as well as funky songs Paradise and No Matter.
TWICE – Taste of Love (June 9)
Another summery comeback, this time from a girl group, is TWICE’s history-making Taste of Love. It opened at the top 6 of Billboard 200, a first for a female K-pop act in the mini-album class. The album also recorded the highest first-day sales in 2021 and continues to take over various music charts.
*Featured image via BIGHIT MUSIC, EXO, TWICE, ITZY