In the world of K-pop, a comeback is a seriously big deal. Think of it like your favorite sports team’s first game of the season, except it happens several times a year, as it’s when a group releases its latest song. But a comeback is not just about a song, it’s about the entire concept behind it. Fans look forward to comebacks a lot, as apart from hearing new music, they usually showcase an entirely new look for the group.
On August 22, K-pop group Ive (pronounced like the abbreviation of “I have”) will release a new single, After Like. It follows on from 2022’s Love Dive and 2011’s Eleven, making it the six-member group’s third release. If you’re new to Ive, or to K-pop in general, now is the time to get ready for the comeback, and here’s our guide to Ive’s songs and members, plus some suggestions about other, similar groups to listen to as well.
After Like, coming soon
A tweet from Ive’s official Twitter account sent on July 24 provided early details of After Like, showing the August 22 release date and a first look at the graphic used for the single’s title. Since then, the group’s Instagram page has been updated with a large, 12-panel version of the teaser image. Expect promotion for the single to kick off in earnest at the beginning of August.
3rd SINGLE ALBUM
— IVE OFFICIAL (@IVEstarship) July 24, 2022
Despite providing the announcement date, little else is known about After Like yet, although a newly released video, “I’ve Summer,” may hint at its themes. While summer idol songs aren’t anything new, the film suggests Ive may take a more heartfelt, mature approach to the concept as each member talks, quite poetically, about love and loss. Even if I’ve Summer doesn’t relate to After Like‘s concept, it’s still a rather beautiful short film.
At this point, you may be wondering about Ive’s popularity. The group’s social account followings give you a good idea — Ive has 2.4 million followers on Instagram, 1.6 million subscribers on YouTube, and its Twitter account has more than 866,000 followers at the time of writing. Not bad for a group active for less than a year, and an indication of why we should pay attention to the new release.
Meet the members
Ive is a six-member group, so let’s take a moment to introduce them all properly. The leader is Ahn Yu-jin, who will be familiar to some K-pop fans as a member of the now-disbanded group Iz*one, where she performed alongside fellow Ive member Jang Won-young. Both Yujin and Wonyoung won their positions in Iz*one during the 2018 music survival show Produce 48.
While these two members came into Ive with experience being part of a girl group and established fanbases, the remaining four members made their debut with Ive. The youngest member of the group is Lee Hyun-seo, known as Leeseo, and she is joined by Kim Ji-won, known as Liz, and Kim Ga-eul. While all the members so far are Korean, Ive’s final member is Naoi Rei, known simply as Rei, who is Japanese.
If you’re reading some of the names and wondering how to pronounce them properly, this video may help you out. If you want to get to know the members better they all introduce themselves personally in this video, shot just before the group’s debut in 2021, and it comes with English subtitles. If you’ve got some more time, Ive has its own variety show — 1,2,3,Ive — that also has English subtitles, but we’d also recommend watching 1theK’s Peaceful Late Night Study Time too.
Don’t just take the word of millions of followers about why Ive’s comeback is highly anticipated. Instead, this is a great time to revisit, or discover for the first time, the group’s earlier releases. The debut single, Eleven, was released at the beginning of December 2021, and at just over three minutes long it makes a big impact, particularly through the clever use of a varying tempo ahead of the catchy chorus.
Ive returned in April 2022 with Love Dive, which built on the electropop style of Eleven, but this time enhancing it with a glorious, ethereal tone to the vocals and chorus. The music video’s dreamy visuals suit the lyrics perfectly, the dance break highlights Yujin’s talent, and it’s impossible not to copy the “love dive” gesture in the choreography at the appropriate times.
The coupling tracks for both single releases — Take it and Royal — are similarly catchy, but don’t leave the same strong impression as the A-sides. Both albums have only featured two tracks, but it’s unclear whether After Like will also contain just two songs, or if it will expand on this. However, as it’s being promoted as a “single album,” an extensive track list seems unlikely.
After Like’s release date has been announced and although the songs have not been revealed yet, you can already pre-order the single album. There are two main versions, one in a standard Jewel case and a second photo book version, and each is split into further separate editions. There are three different editions of the photo book, and each will come with different cover art, CD art, and photo cards. The six different jewel-cased releases will have cover art featuring an individual member.
Pre-orders have already opened, but artwork has not been revealed yet. There are several online stores that provide fast, reliable international shipping for physical K-pop releases — Global Interpark and Ktown4U are popular choices — and most will provide the option to either order one random edition, or buy a complete collection of all three photo book releases or all six jewel-cased releases.
Some retailers seem to be offering some exclusive versions of the photo book for those who pre-order After Like, and the initial run of copies will include a poster and a special photo card too. It’s worth shopping around before ordering to make sure you get the version that’s best for you.
If you’ve listened to Ive’s songs and want something more, perhaps with a similar sound or more from some of the members, here are three songs to try if you’re a newcomer and like what you’ve heard so far.
The first recommendation will probably be familiar to most Ive fans, but if you’re new to K-pop you may not know Iz*one very well. It’s the group where Yujin and Wonyoung started, along with 10 other members, and we recommend listening to Sequence, a dance-focused song from the 2021 album One-reeler, with lyrics about the right way to win someone’s heart.
Next, make sure you listen to Fearless by Le Sserafim. Formed very recently, the new group has five members, with Kim Chae-won and Miyawaki Sakura also coming from Iz*one. The song has a very cool vibe, backed by a hard-hitting refrain and ultra-confident choreography in the music video. Our advice is to listen to the song over headphones, as it has a solid bass kick and involves stereo separation that’s easily missed otherwise.
Finally, just in case our recommendations seem biased towards former Iz*one members (we admit and embrace our bias), you will also likely enjoy Gfriend’s disco-driven Mago. It was the major release from what would become the group’s final album before it disbanded, and we love the version shot for Studio Choom, which shows off the disco-tastic choreography and costumes best.