Track: Hot Summer | Artist: f(x) | Album: Hot Summer (repackage)

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Apt title for these dog days, don’t you think? (I never went outside today.)

Korean entertainment agencies have a curious fascination with debuting groups set up as “counterparts” to others within their company. YG Entertainment did it with 2NE1 and Big Bang, JYP Entertainment (perhaps most egregiously) with 2PM and 2AM, and SM Entertainment with SHINee and, as seen here, f(x).

f(x) debuted in 2009 with La Cha Ta (or, as it was stylized, *checks notes* LA chA TA), and were quickly regarded—and actively promoted as—the female equivalents of SHINee, who had debuted a year prior with Replay and were currently riding high with Ring Ding Dong’s success.

And indeed, f(x) and SHINee would both go on to become recognized as SM Entertainment’s go-to artists for the company’s weirder, more experimental efforts. You just can’t imagine Girls’ Generation singing 4 Walls, for instance, or Super Junior doing Clue + Note as much justice as SHINee could.

This doesn’t mean f(x) never appealed to the common denominator (they are, after all, an idol group). Hot Summer was released in 2011, after Pinocchio and before Electric Shock; together, they form a good triptych of the kind of music f(x) produced: one step weirder than most, pushing the boundaries of pop music with one clever lyric and one nontraditional chorus at a time.

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This is Summer Songs Week, where we attempt to stave off the heat slowly killing us all with beachy, refreshing tunes.