In a time when levity and freshness is needed to uplift heavy hearts during hardship, Cube Entertainment has debuted the buoyant 8-member girl group LIGHTSUM. According to the company, the name means “transmitting greater energy through a message of hope so that the bright lights (SUM) can reach everyone in the world.” A message that is both current and timeless.
In an online press showcase hosted by MC Park So-hyeon on June 10, 2021, the talented octet revealed their debut music video, “Vanilla” composed by STEVEN LEE, Caroline Gustavsson and J. Littlewood and penned by Jo Yoon-kyeong. A combination of bubblegum sweet lyrics that are meant to cast a spell on the viewer and a sassy melody that flirts with the bassline, the “teen pop dance song” invites fans to join them in an energetic fairytale-like fantasy. The video broke 2.5 million views a mere 18 hours after its release, which makes them the fastest debuting girl group record-breakers of 2021. They ranked #19 on Korean music chart Bugs! almost immediately and topped iTunes single charts across the globe. Two days after their debut, the girls saw record sales surpass 10,000 copies. Currently the group has over 5.5 million views of their video 5 days after their debut.
The video itself is an enticing pink-laced journey into a fantasy full of friendship, games, candy, and a promise of something more. Scenes in the pastel “Vanilla Lab” shift into a fairy light decorated forest, blurring the lines of fantasy and reality. At one point, they even shift wardrobe between pink and blue, much like Aurora of Sleeping Beauty – perhaps a purposeful fairy tale reference.
Although the showcase marked their debut, LIGHTSUM’s members come from creative and competitive backgrounds that make their debut stronger than most. Chowon, Nayoung, and Yujeong participated on competition television show Mnet’s Produce 48 and Juhyeon, impressed judges on KBS2’s The Unit and Dancing High. Hina and Huiyeon are practiced in ballet and figure skating while eloquent Sangah and youngest member Jian round out the group. The confidence of the members who performed on competition shows shone through and guided the entire group to a successful debut.
However, the confidence hadn’t always been there. After the disappointments of Produce 48, Nayoung felt anxious that people would forget about her, but is happy to debut on the same team as Yujeong and Chowon. “It seems many people are looking forward to our stages, so we worked harder to show better performances. We would like to return the love and support to the fans who have waited for us,” Chowon shared, sentiments reflected by all of the girls.
Coming into this debut, LIGHTSUM steps into the 4th generation of K-pop as the first girl group that Cube has debuted in three years. “I remember [Soyeon of (G)I-DLE] saying that I need to communicate frequently with my members even for the little things and that there would be no worries if I just trust my members and walk along with them,” Juhyeon said of her company senior. And trust they need as Nayoung revealed their group’s ambitious goal: to be known as “Impeccable Rookies” who receive the “Rookie of the Year Award.”
After their live performance of “Vanilla,” they may be on their way. The octet slid confidently into the choreography and melody lines of the poppy sweet tune, powerfully showcasing their performance abilities on their debut media showcase. In fact, they were downright cheeky as they breezed through their key point “icecream” moves that pantomimed scooping and swirling. Vocals were strong and lacked the awkwardness of many a debut. However, that awkwardness visited at the end of the live performance when, with no real audience to cheer, the girls were left holding their final pose to silence, which they handled professionally.
It is not only that professionalism but also the group’s unique qualities that make them a potential force in K-pop. “I think our unique charming points are purity, bubbliness and positive energy that contrast with, but come along with our synchronized dance performances,” leader Juhyeon shared, which is indeed what they showed. Jian revealed that the power in their dance stems from practicing their seniors’ songs often when they were trainees.
Debuts in COVID-19 times may be unconventional as they are online and the new debutees are far from their fans. But LIGHTSUM made the most of their time at their debut media showcase and showed the positive energy bolstered by sharp skills. When it is safe, Sangah expressed wanting to meet her fans face to face while Yujeong longs for a concert and fan meets. For now, the group is grateful for all the love they’ve received at home and from all over the world. Here’s to looking forward to what they do next. Shine some light onto K-pop, LIGHTSUM.