By Han Sang-hee
Competition in the music industry this summer is expected to be fierce, with two favorites returning with new looks and sounds.
are both planning to release new albums this year, their firsts in more than three and five years, respectively.
, who made his debut in 2003, garnered fans with his signature smile, sleek dance moves and strong vocals. The 26-year-old had hits with albums "Just Listen", "Must Listen", "24/7" and "Se7onlution", but competing with fellow singer Rain proved to be hard, both in popularity and album sales.
The singer flew to the United States three years ago and it seemed he was making progress with collaborations with American rapper Lil' Kim and Amerie. His expectations faded, and fans started to wonder when he would return to the local stage. News that he would make a comeback came out last year, but according to his agency, YG Entertainment
, fans will probably have to wait until June.
"The time of his comeback will be determined depending on how far his album is finished. It won't take that long", YG Entertainment
He is currently recording songs he received from fellow artists under YG Entertainment
Determined to regain his popularity, Se7en
will not only return to local fans, but will also seek opportunities in Japan, where fellow Korean singers and groups have created a firm foundation over the past few years.
seems to have the whole package― vocals, dance moves, style and even a popular actress girlfriend to cheer him on ― but he will need a smart strategy to compete with younger idol bands.
is returning to Korea with her distinctive sounds as well. The 23-year-old celebrates her 10th anniversary as a singer, and both fans and music critics are guessing on what concept she will go with this time.
Her last album here was her fifth, "Girls On Top", where she sported an edgy look, right before she flew to the U.S. with her American debut single, "Eat You Up". Her American entrance was not a huge failure, but she didn't taste the success she had dreamed of.
According to her agency SM Entertainment, BoA
is currently gathering songs from fellow artists and prepping up for another hit album.
, who is looking to knock on the Japanese market's door with his upcoming album, BoA
released her seventh Japanese album, "Identity", last month. She is currently on tour in Japan, which will end in April.
The two singers will have to be prepared for a competitive race, as two other top singers are also planning comebacks.
Lee Hyo-ri will be the first to release an album, as the 30-year-old plans to have it in stores no later than this month. Lee dropped out from the popular television program "Family is Out!" to focus on her upcoming album, and according to her agency, Mnet Media, she will return with a line of stylish dance numbers collaborated with fellow singers, including Leessang, 4Minute and After School. The agency announced that she has already finished filming her music video.
Following Lee is Rain, who is returning to his former role as a singer after going on a promotional tour for his Hollywood flick, "Ninja Assassin
". The 27-year-old has been busy not only with his own film plans, but also nurturing boy band MBLAQ
, which made its debut last year.
Rain will release a mini-album of four to five songs next month.
"We have finished some tracks, but are still receiving better numbers from composers. We are planning to release his final album in October", J.Tune Entertainment said.
With idol groups making headlines and dominating the music charts, this year will be a treat for music fans who are looking for a bit of competition.