K-pop Comebacks 2013
Whether it’s Western pop or K-pop, the fourth quarter is always the most exciting time for big pop releases. Everybody rushes out their albums and your fave is battling someone else’s fave and we all have fun little stan wars. It’s great. October is looking especially juicy for K-pop this year: We’ve got the tarnished IU and T-ara putting out their first post-scandal releases, Taeyang and Kahi coming back after several years away from the solo spotlight, the almighty Nine Muses with their first full-length album, new stuff from underdogs like Block B and AOA, and a whole lot more.

I’ve rounded up the ten most anticipated K-pop comebacks of the bunch and ranked ’em all from least to best. Only the officially confirmed or strongly rumoured returns for October made the list, so that means no miss A, B1A4, Sunmi, or TVXQ.


10. 2NE1

2NE1 2013 Comeback
2NE1’s obviously not getting a high spot here because we’ve already had two comebacks from them this year, and neither of them were very good. (Personally I liked that generic mess “Do You Love Me,” but I know I’m in the minority.) The artificially fierce foursome are still capable of the odd slam dunk here and there (see: “Scream,” “I Am The Best,” and “Hate You”), but overall they’ve never been able to match the fun of their To Anyone album, and probably never will again.

[Confirmed: Digital single or album, untitled, October]

9. Taeyang

Taeyang 2013 Comeback
Nothing against Taeyang because he’s hella sexy and “I Need a Girl” is undeniably gorgeous, but there’s nothing exciting about a Taeyang comeback. He epitomizes YG Entertainment’s American-lite paint-by-numbers style, and while his songs are never actually bad, he offers nothing that you can’t already get from Jay Park or Ne-Yo.

[Confirmed: Unspecified new album, untitled, mid/late October]

8. SHINee

SHINee 2013 Comeback
SHINee’s never had a bad comeback and they probably never will, but we’ve already heard from them twice this year (thrice if you include “Selene 6.23”), so that lessens the anticipation a little. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how they’re received now that Jonghyun’s back in business and Taemin and Key are enjoying the spoils of variety show stardom thanks to their roles on We Got Married.

[Confirmed: 5th mini-album, ‘Everybody,’ October 14]

7. Jaejoong

Jaejoong 2013 Comeback

Jaejoong brought J-rock and visual kei to Korea with January’s dramatic “Mine,” so I can’t wait to see what he’s got up sleeve this time around. The only concern is that he’ll pull a Junsu –who followed up the brilliant “Tarantallegra” with the derivative dance-pop sludge that is “Incredible”– and leave his unique style behind for album No. 2. Pray for the best, y’all.

[Confirmed: Unspecified new album, untitled, late October]

6. Kahi

Kahi It's ME
Yes, the long-awaited Kahi komeback is actually happening! More than a year since graduating from After School and two-and-a-half years since her techno ballad, “Come Back You Bad Person,” slayed us all, Kahi is finally ready to release a new mini-album. If the last few singles from Pledis Entertainment artists like NU’EST, After School, and Son Dam Bi are anything to go by, the new Kahi stuff is gonna be pretty amazing.

[Confirmed: Second mini-album, ‘Who Are You?,’ October 10]

5. Girls’ Generation/TTS

Girls' Generation Galaxy Supernova
Normally a Girls’ Generation comeback would rank right at the top, but since The Divine Nine already served up 2013’s most dazzlingly different slice of pop perfection with January’s “I Got a Boy,” I’m not quite on the edge of my seat like I would be if they’d been away for longer. I’m hoping for a return of the TTS unit so we can get another bubbly bop like “Twinkle,” followed by a full group comeback early next year.

[Rumoured: Late October]

4. Seo In Young

Seo In Young Love Me Comeback

Seo In Young has been on absolute fire for the past year, and her May mini-album, Forever Young, is one of the best K-pop releases in recent memory. After a brief foray into balladry with the beautiful “Let’s Break Up,” Ely’s returning to dance music with the Gaeko-assisted “Please Love Me.” Chances are that it’ll give Sunmi’s “24 Hours” and Lee Jung-hyun’s “V” a run for their money as the year’s best K-diva single.

[Confirmed: Digital single, “Please Love Me” featuring Gaeko, October 4]

3. Nine Muses

Nine Muses Prima Donna
Since hooking up with Sweetune in 2011, Nine Muses hasn”t released a single that’s been anything less than a total knockout. Everything they’ve put out is perfect, and the replay value is always through the roof (January’s “Dolls” is still on HEAVY rotation). There’s no doubt in my mind that their upcoming single, “Gun,” is going to be every bit as incredible as all their other Sweetune smash hits have thus far.

[Confirmed: First studio album, ‘Prima Donna,’ October 14]

2. IU

IU Modern Times 2013
It’s unfortunate that IU has to settle for being the biggest female soloist in Korea when she should be one of the biggest female soloists in the world. When stans are arguing about who the top pop divas of today are, IU’s name deserves to be mentioned alongside the likes of Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, and Lady Gaga. I guess we can call her the new Hikaru Utada?

With that said, what’s not to anticipate about an IU comeback? She’s never released a bad single, she shows artistic growth with every release, almost all of her b-sides and filler tracks are great, and “Good Day” remains one of the best pop songs of the past ten years. Modern Times is gonna be epic, and that’s a fact.

[Confirmed: Third studio album, ‘Modern Times,’ October 7]

1. T-ara

T-ara No.9 Feature
Under normal circumstances, I would’ve placed IU at No. 1 in a heartbeat, but there’s just so much riding on T-ara’s return that there’s no one else that could’ve topped this list but them. Yeah, I know IU had a scandal too, but the fallout was nothing like T-ara’s — and even if it had been, I still think IU would’ve eventually made a full recovery. The sheer anticipation to see what T-ara will do next and how everybody will react to it is almost too much to handle!

“Comeback” is a term used in K-pop to refer to any artist that’s releasing new music, but T-ara actually has the chance to make a real comeback in the dictionary definition sense of the word with “No. 9.”

Plus, have you seen the official teasers? Eunjung has long hair!

[Confirmed: Mini-album, ‘No. 9,’ October 10]

  • Nicole Naeun

    I still think IU has the most anticipated comeback of the year. She’s gone a total 180-degree never-been-done transformation for this era and it’s gonna cement her status as K-Pop’s icon or a complete has-been. IU might chart first on the first day release due to the curiosity of people but it’s the after that concerns me. So, IU is def #1.

    T-ara would’ve been #1 if T-ara N4 never happened. N4 stole all the attention for a post-scandal T-ara comeback with their in-your-face why-u-hating concept. No. 9 concept is just another T-ara concept, the song will sound catchy like RP/LD and that’s it (not that I’m agaisnt it, I’m always here for a T-ara song). And N4 did pretty good on the charts although not amazing like T-ara usually.

    Seo In Young is def #3 because, well, she slays. The teasers >>>>>>>>>

    I’m actually a bit concerened with Nine Muses. I love my muses, they were very amazing with Dolls, but let’s be honest: Wild wasn’t the exact stuff we were expecting from Nine Muses, rite? It’s really good, but they did so much better before. Judging by the title of the new song, i’m really really hoping it’s something super fierce like News. Please grant my wish, LeeSsem!

    The rest of them is the same for me. Although I def count out Jaejoon, has-been Taeyang, and the “artificially fierce” 2ne1.

    • I actually thought “Wild” wasn’t quite as flawless at first, but eventually I grew to love it as much as all their other hits. I actually play it all the time now! It’s so fierce and I love the robotic dubstep parts that come through and the rap breaks.

      I treat T-ara N4’s WHY YOU HATIN’ era as just a warm-up for the proper comeback. I think they knew it wouldn’t do as well as main T-ara releases, so they just wanted to come out and address the scandal and tell all the netizens to get fucked so they wouldn’t have to deal with it as much when they made their proper group comeback.

      • Nicole Naeun

        It’s the opposite for me lol. I initially worshiped “Wild” as soon as it’s released but forgot about it after a few weeks, while song like Dolls, News, Ticket and Figaro (which is my most fave NM song) remain on heavy rotation until now. Wild was exciting due to the awesome video, but the song itself wasn’t quite punching. I thought that Wild was supposed to be the new News, but it lacked that fierceness of News.
        So I hope Gun would be at least as fierce as News!

        • Please understand the error of your ways and get back into the iconic WILD again!

          It’s a true NM classic.

          Please see this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6aRKV9wDZU

          • Nicole Naeun

            I’ll listen to “Ladies” instead cause that song is one hell of an iconic trash! L-l-l-l-ladies LADIES LADIES LADIES LADIES LADIES *chants like a horny korean man on his military service*

      • Andi

        “Wild” is fantastic, but I’ve actually come to like “Action” more. Something about the heavily reverbed vocals and the glitchy electro-pop just does it for me.

        • Action is iconic but it’s no Wild to me.I actually prefer the last song on the mini, the synthy ballady type song. (don’t know what it’s called coz it’s in hangul lol).

          • it’s “living person” and yes it’s my favorite track too. i love the mid-90’s lionel ritchie R&B vibe is has and the raps are flawless! actually nine muses’ music have proved that idol rapping can be absolutely amazing and necessary to k-pop songs.

      • if “no. 9” hits i secretly can’t wait to see areum’s shit-what’ve-i-done face for jumping off the boat

        • UncleFan

          I think Ahreum “jumped” off the boat about as much as Natalie Wood… we just never saw her get pushed!

  • samm


  • Andi

    This list is perfect, except for 9 & 10. I’m so over YG and their bullshit that I can’t seem to find a fuck to give about their artists; the only thing that would excite me would be a GD&TOP or TOP solo release. Also, I can’t wait for Kweengri to give me LIFE in the new Nine Muses’ MV!

    • Tbh only put those flops there coz I didn’t want people to whine about “WHERE’S 2NE1 AND TAEYANG” and I also needed to pad the list out to ten. Also, I’m personally not into Block B, and even though I love AOA, I assumed I’m the only one who does lol.

      • Andi

        The only reason I pay attention to Block B is because I want to sit on P.O’s face lol.

        • Nicole Naeun

          A Block B guy is attractive? I don’t find any of Block B guys attractive. To me, they’re just a bunch of average-looking, attention-whoring delinquents (although some of their songs are gems).

          • Andi

            Leave me and my sexual frustrations alone, ya cunts.

          • Nicole Naeun

            Who is this P.O. anyway? Why is he plagiarizing D.O.’s oppa inital-styled name?
            D.O. oppa >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

            Sitting on D.O.’s opa face >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

          • D.O. is way too cute and adorable to sit on. I’d rather he sit on my face.

          • “To me, they’re just a bunch of average-looking, attention-whoring delinquents”

            KAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAK you’ve made my day!

        • *Googles P.O.*

          A mess. I’ll stick to King Bang Yongguk, King Yunho, and Kween Jonghyun.

          • Sunny

            *dead* I love your tastes bew lol

  • ICONI3

    IU is my most anticipated of the month. Artistically she has so much to say and so far 3/4 of the current teasers released have slayed me.

    Next is a toss up between nine muses and T-ara for me. I’m still not completely on the NM bus yet, but their last release with “wild” was pretty good(figaro is still the best though). As for T-ara, looking back on it I’ve always liked their music, but I wonder if they waited a little too long. I wasn’t a fan of their sub-unit releases, but I have faith they’ll deliver a hopefully infectious pop jam like they did during their 2010-early 2012 peak.

    Shinee-I’ll let me sister stan them, but I have liked some of their music.
    Kahi- didn’t like her first solo, but as you said pledis has had great releases this year so we’ll see.
    Seo in young- Still can’t get into her…I think I vaguely remember liking her solo from a few years ago.
    SNSD- Music has gotten better, but I’m not super excited.

    The rest I don’t give a fuck about.

  • the top 3 is all i think about k-pop lately. every day i wake up to a new marvelous IU teaser, not only with the droolingly mature concepts but with the potential ADULT POP that is acoming! as for nine muses…it’s been a great year to be a stan of them and i can see myself easily forgetting everyone else’s releases to just follow them [‘cept of course their top 3 colleagues]

    NOW… T-ARA MY KWEENS! you described perfectly why this comeback is so exciting. during t-ara n4’s promotions we had a glimpse that maybe korea could be ready to forget the past – “jeon won diary” wasn’t a huge smash but it wasn’t the great disaster haters like to picture itself, with physical sales even higher than the PERFECT and long anticipated lee hyori’s comeback album.

    everything seems exciting about “no. 9” especially because it feels like a full circle release. it’s like t-ara’s been through this totally crazy and dangerous odissey since their debut and now they’re back to the very start!

    if the teasers didn’t blatantly spotted more grown and sexier queens i’d say it feels like a re-debut. and i can’t wait to see my hyomin and eunjung snatching some wigs with their fast paced dialogue rapping! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

  • twerkdol

    My body is ready for Kahi, GG, 9MUSES, IU & 6-ARA!!!

    What about AOA? Elvis & Get Out were both flawless so I’m ready to be slayed once more by the nugu angels<3

    I can't stand Taeyang so I hope his comeback is over with quick so we can have Big Bang back.

    & hopefully ZzZne1 flops spectacularly and finally decides to call it a day #Disband2ne1

    • png

      I think AOA released “Moya” this year, but it was only the band side that was involved.

  • Johnnyyy

    SNSD’s comeback will be the best out of the bunch.

  • UncleFan

    Even though Seo In Young is a much better singer, I gotta say I’m a lot more curious about Kahi’s comeback, simply because she’s been gone so long.

  • Geraldine Alexandra

    T-ara <3 TTS <3 & Kahi ♥♥♥♥

  • zephyrmagicsparkle

    T-ara ftw

  • amdary

    I stan for T-ara and Nine Muses but i get the feeling Seo In Young’s will be my favorite comeback. ‘Forever Young’ is truly outstanding and the teaser for Please Love Me sounds so effin flawless.

  • KingBeaArthur

    SHINee all day, everyday!!!!!!!!

  • Bluebeat

    Very excited for IU because she’s trying an ‘edgier’ look and sound for her comeback. Something that she hasn’t done yet. She’s my #1, #2 TaeYang, #3 T-ARA, #4 2NE1 and #5 JaeJoong (they better let him perform on music programs!!! SME quit blocking JYJ!!!!).

  • yosafbridge

    I’m still recovering from that photo of Jiyeon. When did she get so hot?

  • ya what the hell happened to the 2ne1 comeback? Didn’t they say they were releasing a new single every 3 weeks? Its been way longer than 3 weeks since Do You Love Me came out. And all the songs have been mediocre (not bad, just none of them feel like an epic comeback single after an entire year away).

  • FreakyFlyBri

    I honestly have a really good feeling about T-ara’s comeback. I know there’s inevitably going to be some hate throw their way but it seems like the usual netizen wank hasn’t been present like it was during the Countryside Life promotions; plus they look amazing and the song sounds like it’s going to showcase two of T-ara’s best traits: catchy earworms and sad pop.

  • Aviator

    I’m excited for every artist, but especially 9MUSES. They have just gotten better with time and I will stan them harder than ever (unless a certain other nine-member group can return with incredible vocals, precision, and maturity -ahem ahem-).

  • Dwight Villegas

    wrong ranking!! i think the top 5 here (not in particular order) ARE:::
    and #T-ARA (3RD TO 5TH SPOT).