Debut songs are a tricky thing. You have to introduce yourself, as a group or a soloist, to the public after months of waiting. Yes, you are much more than one song, but you still want to make your best impression. Today, I want to take a trip down memory lane and discuss some of my favorite debut songs. These artists hit the ground running with stellar debuts that captured our attention and love.
SHINee — Replay
Could we really start this list without “Replay”? I remember when I first started listening to SHINee. I’m still stunned that they debuted with this. “Replay” is a timeless hit that feels like it’s always been there. It’s never tired and it’s just so smooth. I only understand its age when I see this video or compare how far SHINee’s skills have progressed. Fans have joked that they’ll play this for their kids when it’s time to clean the house, and frankly, it’s perfect for this. This is a perfect song, honestly.
Infinite — Come Back Again
Even at their debut, we see the hallmarks of an Infinite comeback. We have great harmonies, synchronized dancing and an infectious chorus. This whole debut runs with great precision but never sounds sterile or cold. While their signature synth instrumental isn’t present, this song doesn’t sound different from their later songs. Much like “Replay” on this list, it’s a fun throwback track that stands out.
Twice — Like OOH-AHH
I have a hard time letting girl groups into my heart. I’ve gotten better over the years, but I still struggle to find one that I love. Then in October 2015, JYP said “Bet!” and gave me Twice! Yes, I realize Twice is a gift to the world, but it felt like they were tailormade for me at the time.
First of all, this instrumental is really good. There’s a sweet flute and synth melody in the background that’s followed by this thud of bass. Even the chorus has this “phroom” bassline, and it helps balance out the ladies’ voices. Then we have the video of cute girls dancing in a zombie apocalypse, and everyone is fierce! I love this group, y’all.
Akdong Musicians – 200%
THIS VIDEO!! Seriously, did any of us expect this from a YG artist? When they signed to YG after their win on “K-pop Star,” many worried their unique charm and sound would be swallowed up. Fortunately, their time there has allowed them tools to grow creatively and make quirky and meaningful music. The song production is tight, joyous and matches their personalities amazingly. It fits their age without going too sugary or trying too hard.
BIBI — BINU
I love how playful this song is. For a song that’s so laid back, Bibi does a bit of heavy lifting here. With Korean hip hop getting more popular, you have to work even harder to stand out from the crowd. As the latest artist on the Feel GHood Music label, she manages to do that with this chill song.
This song is shy of three minutes long, and she just subtly flexes her talent. She has this cheeky confidence that’s rare for a newer artist. She has a unique voice and style, and you get enough of a taste to draw you in. I’m also a fan of the pun “Binu, binu, let’s be new.” (“Binu” means “soap” Korean.) She only debuted last May, but I already see great things for Bibi.
NCT U — The 7th Sense
When SM talked about their then upcoming NCT project, I was incredibly skeptical. They announced in 2015 when most Hallyu fans were still digging through the rumbles of the disastrous 2014. SM just dropped a 20+ member group of sub-units on us as if we weren’t still mourning and exhausted. I thought it was ridiculous. Then they released this.
“The 7th Sense” isn’t just the debut of these five men but of the entire NCT concept. This one song proved all of the doubters wrong and got us hyped for more. It doesn’t even really fit into the SM musical soundscape at the time. Yet it feels like the natural evolution of songs like TVXQ‘s “Mirotic” and SHINee’s “Symptoms.” It’s an SM song with a really great rap verses in it. AND PROFANITY!! This song has no right to be this good. There I said it!
These are just a few of my favorite debut tracks. Who did I miss?