UPDATE (9/23): Whoa! After more than half a million votes, BIGBANG is crowned the winner of Fuse's K-Pop Summer Comeback Battle. The phenom's four-EP, seven-single strategy clearly wowed fans and made for the biggest splash amid the heated battle.
In the runner-up slot was the K-pop boy band to watch BTS with their banging single "Dope." Girls' Generation's Lion Heart album promotions landed them in third—with single "Party" named this summer's most underrated anthem—while newcomer boy band Seventeen were fourth as veteran male act 2PM rounded out the Top 5.
Click on for the full Top 10 along with all of K-pop's hottest comebacks from summer 2015.
Original Story (9/11): Any K-pop fan will tell you that this was the scene's most exciting summer in years. Get the lowdown on the 23 releases that shook up the charts and then decide who was the ultimate summer champ in our poll.
Who: The quintet whose international stardom can't be denied after such a successful summer
What: An intense release schedule that included two singles a month, for a whopping eight tracks and seven music videos this summer, all previewing their upcoming Made album.
The Impact: On both South Korea's Gaon singles chart and Billboard's U.S.-based World Digital Songs chart, every one of BIGBANG's singles hit the Top 3. When the brilliantly melancholy "Let's Not Fall in Love" (which joins "Loser" and "Bae Bae" as one of their best singles to date) hit No. 1 on World Digital Songs, it became the band's third chart-topper, which tied Psy for most No. 1s ever on the chart, proving the band as a major force in America. The unprecedented release schedule was a celebrated welcome home to the band, who hadn't released new music in three years. Not only that, but it likely made all K-pop acts step up their game for the most competitive summer in recent K-pop history.
Who: The bad boy rappers with a sweet side
What: "Dope," the second single off the boys' excellent The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt. 1 album.
The Impact: Despite being out for two months before, "Dope" flew back up the U.S. charts with its music video sending it to be the best-selling K-pop song in America that week—ahead of new singles from AOA, Teen Top and Sistar.
Who: The once-nine-now-eight-member girl group phenomenon
What: Girls' Generation's fifth full-length album, Lion Heart, promoted by three singles and four music videos.
The Impact: In South Korea, the new album hit No. 1 (as expected) and the group hit No. 1 on Billboard's U.S.-based World Albums chart, but didn't sell enough to bow on the Billboard 200—a bit of a letdown when last year's Mr.Mr. became one of the highest-charting K-pop albums ever in America. On the singles charts, "Party" hit No. 1 in Korea; "Lion Heart" has been a slow-burning hit, eventually going Top 5, while "You Think" stalled at No. 30. Perhaps most importantly, the act showcased their best choreography in years (see "You Think" and "Catch Me If You Can") and looked like they were having the more than ever ("Party"), while still retaining their regal, goddess-like nature ("Lion Heart").
Who: The biggest boy band you've ever seen
What: The first two EPs by the 13-member act, 17 Carat and Boys Be, respectively, promoted by the singles "Adore U" and "Mansae."
The Impact: Seventeen solidified themselves as the new K-pop act to watch this fall, making teens swoon with their debut EP, 17 Carat, that hit the Top 5 in Korea, and even charted in the Top 10 of Billboard's World Albums chart—a rarity for such a new act. The guys just dropped their Boys Be EP this week and fans are eager to see how they chart.
Who: Veteran R&B-pop boy band 2PM
What: The release of their fifth, full-length album No.5, led by the addictive bop "My House."
The Impact: No.5 was one of the best K-pop albums of the year to date packed with sophisticated R&B and pop cuts. Meanwhile, "My House" was another Top 10 hit for the band, showing the guys embracing the fun personalities we saw in the last single, "Go Crazy!", but in a more mature way with a fresh sound.
Who: One of K-pop's longest-lasting acts
What: The veteran boy band's eighth full-length album Devil, which was touted as a "special" album for fans that featured new tracks sung by Super Junior and its various splinter groups.
The Impact: Devil missed the top spot on the albums chart, peaking at No. 2, their first time not earning a chart-topper in a decade. Meanwhile, the title track single was one of the band's best and slickest releases to date, but it failed to hit the Top 20 on the charts.
Who: K-pop's latest international boy band sensation
What: "Love Me Right," a pop gem and the lead single for the repackage version of their Exodus album—the LP that broke the record for the biggest sales week for a K-pop artist.
The Impact: "Love Me Right" hit No. 1 in Korea, despite some controversy with member Tao bowing out of the group, leaving nine in EXO.
Who: The controversial girl group
What: T-ara's seventh EP, So Good, led by the sexy, funky single "So Crazy."
The Impact: The group earned another Top 5 album in Korea, but the single failed to make much of an impact on the charts. Though, "So Crazy" did start going viral in China, a big market for T-ara.
Who: The group you can always expect an experimental single from
What: "Married to the Music," the single off SHINee's repackaged spring album Odd, which hit No. 1 in Korea and on the World Albums chart.
The Impact: The "Thriller"-inspired track was a Top 10 hit for the boys and brought Halloween a little early for fans via its campy music video.
Who: The K-pop provocateur and Psy's "Gangnam Style" video costar
What: The singer/rapper's fourth EP, A+, promoted with the synthy single "Roll Deep."
The Impact: Despite "Roll Deep" marking HyunA's boldest release to date (just watch the video above), the release didn't quite live up to the hype with A+ barely scraping into the Top 5 on the albums chart and "Roll Deep" missing the Top 10, peaking at No. 13.
Who: The talented girl group to watch
What: Their third EP, Pink Funky, and lead single "Um Oh Ah Yeh."
The Impact: "Um Oh Ah Yeh" gave the group their first certified smash, going Top 5 in Korea, while Pink Funky gave the group their first entry on the World Albums chart, showing their growing international presence. Not only that, but the ladies' vocals were praised and spotlighted more than ever.
Who: The girl group you can count on for an addictive summer smash
What: Their third EP Shake It, promoted by its feel-good title track
The Impact: The song hit No. 1 in Korea, continuing their string of chart-toppers and further solidifying them as a Katy Perry-like force on the domestic charts. The EP also hit No. 6 on World Albums, the group's highest entry yet on the ranking, which could show their international fanbase growing.
Who: The suave boy band famous for their fancy footwork
What: The guys' sixth EP Natural Born, led by the super-smooth single "Ah-Ah"
The Impact: Natural Born topped the Korean album charts, but "Ah-Ah" missed the Top 10 which was unexpected for the consistent boy band. It's a shame too since "Ah-Ah" was one of the smoothest jams of the season.
Who: The trendy, sexy female act
What: Their third EP Heart Attack with its EDM-ified title track
The Impact: The girl group strayed from their soulful, rhythmic sound to try out arena-ready dance single. They earned their highest-charting hit to date (No. 2 in Korea) and the EP landed at No. 5 on World Albums chart—their first appearance. Even sweeter: The group charted higher on World Albums than both Sistar and Teen Top (two acts older and more established than them) who also released albums that same week.
Who: Korea's R&B wunderkind
What: His breakout summer smash "Yanghwa Brdg."
The Impact: You thought K-pop was just about catchy boy bands and girl groups? Smooth crooner Zion.T hit No. 1 with the sentimental hit "Yanghwa Brdg," a revealing track about Zion's family's past struggles and his personal worries about being a father. It was one of the most honest tunes to resonate in the mainstream this season and indicated the public was down to support superstars getting real in their music.
Who: The adorable rising boy band
What: Their third EP Just Right, led by its uplifting title track.
The Impact: Despite the inspirational message telling female listeners they were "Just Right," the song wasn't a total smash for the boys when it peaked at No. 20 on Korea's charts while the EP made it to No. 3. In better news, "Just Right" soared to No. 3 on Billboard's World Digital Songs chart, GOT7's best ranking to date, perhaps indicating a growing U.S. fanbase.
Who: The sassy and sexy quartet
What: Sophomore full-length album Love, led by the single "Ring My Bell."
The Impact: Things started off strong for Girl's Day, with Love marking their highest-charting LP to date while "Ring My Bell" peaked at No. 2 on the singles chart. Yet the single failed to have a long-lasting impact on the scene like the group's past string of hit singles. Plus, their music may have been overshadowed by a public controversy where television viewers decided the ladies showed an alleged bad attitude during an appearance while promoting the LP.
Who: One of K-pop's most in-sync dance acts
What: The septet's fifth EP Reality, promoted by the single "Bad."
The Impact: "Bad" once again showcased Infinite's slick, electro-pop stylings and earned them another Top 10 hit. The EP hit No. 1 on the albums chart too further cementing their status as one of the biggest male acts in K-pop.
Who: The innocent and throwback-inspired girl group
What: Apink's second full-length album Pink Memory, promoted by the summery tracks "Remember," "Petal" and "Promise U."
The Impact: Both the Pink Memory album and its promoted single "Remember" hit No. 2 on their respective charts. The group missed the elusive No. 1 single yet again, tying their highest mark for a single with their last two singles (2014's "Mr. Chu" and "Luv") also peaking at No. 2.
Who: K-pop's royal duo
What: TVXQ!'s eighth full-length album, Rise as God, which will be Max and U-Know's last release for the time being as both enlist for South Korea's mandatory two-year military service. Both members dropped solo singles with their own accompanying music videos.
The Impact: Rise as God was released on July 20, and hit No. 1 on the charts. It was a bittersweet last present from fans as U-Know enlisted in the military a day its release. It likely won't be their last chart-topping album either: The duo has promised to reunite in 2017 for new music.
Who: One of the world's most beloved K-pop girl groups
What: Wonder Girls' long-awaited comeback album, Reboot, featuring a refreshed lineup (original members Sun and Sohee have left, but departed member Sunmi returned) and new sound (embracing '80s synth-pop instead of '60s Motown).
The Impact: The risks taken for the comeback paid off and the girls earned a hit single with "I Feel You" (No. 3 on the singles chart) and their album was a hit (Top 5 in Korea). It was a far cry from their chart-topping days during their peak fame during 2007-2012, but U.S. fans showed their support by sending Reboot to No. 2 on the World Albums chart—their best ranking to date.
Who: One of K-pop's most consistent boy bands who now write and compose their own hits
What: Beast's ninth EP, Ordinary, led by the EDM-inspired single "Yey" and ballad tune "Gotta Go to Work."
The Impact: The band's core fanbase sent their EP to No. 1, but the singles divided listeners. "Gotta Go to Work" was the classic, sweet ballad fans have come to expect from the sextet, but "Yey" lacked the sophistication Beast's singles have always showcased. Both singles still wound up in the Top 5.
Who: The boy band who emphasize the word "band"
What: The lovable quintet's completely self-composed Sweet Girl EP, promoted by its title track.
The Impact: "Sweet Girl" was one of the smoothest releases of the year and actually incorporated a live instruments in the recording. Nevertheless the public didn't totally love it, the single missed the Top 10— the first time B1A4 did so in three years—and the EP peaked at No. 2, after snagging five consecutive No. 1 albums since 2011.
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