This summer, the K-pop scene is packed with releases from seasoned and rising artists alike — including the girl group KISS OF LIFE. Signed under S2 Entertainment, KISS OF LIFE consists of Natty, Belle, Julie, and Haneul. Despite their fresh debut on July 5, the quartet has already gained a lot of traction. Leading up to their self-titled mini album, each member had her moment under the spotlight with their solo tracks. Additionally, with their distinct visual identity, the girl group stands out when it comes to incorporating the coming-of-age genre into their concept. Read on to discover seven things about KISS OF LIFE, from the concept to the members.
Breathing Air into KISS OF LIFE
The phrase “kiss of life” may remind one of something fresh and replenishing. According to S2 Entertainment, the group’s name refers to the act of giving vitality by artificial resuscitation. Not only does a “kiss of life” revitalize someone, it also takes them to new places. By bearing this name, KISS OF LIFE aspire to “breathe new life into the music industry with their music and charm.”
Reflecting their name, KISS OF LIFE’s concept centers around the stages of life, particularly adolescence and early adulthood. With the members’ ages ranging from 18 to 23, their joys and struggles are captured in their cinematic pre-debut releases. Released on May 12, the group’s trailer intimately portrays the members in four different states of hardship, typical of youth their age. However, one thing unites them: the desire to be their best, true selves.
Stealing the Crowd’s Attention with “Shhh”
KISS OF LIFE debuted with the lead single “Shhh,” written by Rick Bridges and Strawberrybananaclub. The dance and hip-hop song contains lyrics that talk of proclaiming the members’ freedom and confidence. Mirroring the track’s spirit, the members took part in producing the song: Natty, Belle, and Julie helped with the composition and lyrics.
As seen in their pre-release songs, the “Shhh” music video follows the quartet as a group of friends. After overcoming their personal struggles, they bonded over their shared dream of performing onstage. Not only do they have fun, but they also save themselves from danger — like confronting an invasive stranger at a skating rink. At the end of the music video, as the credits roll, KISS OF LIFE perform as a group for the first time.
“Bye My Neverland:” Leaving the Past Behind
The other group track on KISS OF LIFE’s self-titled mini album is “Bye My Neverland.” In contrast to “Shhh,” it has a more laid-back feel, combining mellow synths with acoustic and electric guitars. Just like in “Shhh,” some of the members contributed to this pop rock song: Julie with lyrics and composition, and Haneul with composition.
Lyrically, the quartet sings about wanting to grow up and leave things typically associated with childhood, like sandcastles and merry-go-rounds, behind. This includes “burning” their own Neverland: a place where no child has to grow up. Although adulthood can be terrifying, their decision is final — they’re ready to embrace everything life has to offer. As they proclaim in the song’s bridge, “‘And they all lived happily ever after’ / There’s nothing like that / I don’t want obvious happiness / So I won’t stop my time / Even if it hurts, I wanna grow.”
Natty: Born to Be a Star
Twenty-one-year-old Natty is no stranger to the K-pop scene. The Thai artist formerly participated in Sixteen (2016) and Idol School (2017), which gave rise to TWICE and fromis_9 respectively. After her appearances on idol survival shows, she made her solo debut in 2020 with NINETEEN. The release was followed by another single album, Teddy Bear, in the same year.
Compared to her previous releases, Natty’s solo track as a KISS OF LIFE member displays her more mature, sensible side. “Sugarcoat” draws strong influence from first-generation K-pop songs, sporting R&B beats and sultry vocals. Complementing the song’s vibe are lyrics that express her dream to reach the top as her authentic self. “I’ll just be me / Just move, as I desire / Dancing a more splendid dance,” she sings. In the accompanying music video, she does just that: struggling to make ends meet as a street dancer, she decides to audition for a musical project. As she leaps onto the stage, she moves one step closer to reaching her dreams.
Belle: Shining On and Off-stage
Before debuting as an idol, Belle had a remarkable musical portfolio as a producer. She contributed to the composition of multiple K-pop songs, including the LE SSERAFIM and Nile Rodgers’ hit “UNFORGIVEN,” as well as (G)I-DLE member Miyeon’s “Softly.” The 19-year-old also provided backing vocals on NCT member Mark’s debut solo, “Child.” Aside from writing for K-pop artists, Belle uploads her original works to her SoundCloud page.
In “Countdown,” Belle solidifies her identity as a multihyphenate. She co-composed the song with Royal Dive, a producer team that has collaborated with Red Velvet, GOT7, and NCT’s Taeyong. The track seamlessly weaves pluck-heavy verses with deep bass-filled choruses. Belle’s soft yet powerful voice sings of accepting herself, including the good and the bad. While she may stumble at times, she doesn’t dwell on it and is always ready to rise again. And as portrayed in the track’s intense music video, she proclaims: “I want to reach beyond that level / I want to go anywhere I desire.” She breaks free from the expectations of others, paving her own path instead.
Julie: The Fierce Performer
KISS OF LIFE’s eldest and resident rapper, Julie, hails from Hawaii. After moving to Korea to pursue her dreams of becoming an idol, videos of her rapping gained attention online. Under an idol academy called DEF Dance Skool, she honed her performing skills and eventually found a place in S2 Entertainment.
Her solo track, “Kitty Cat,” further showcases her alluring charm. Notably, compared to the other members’ solos, the song leans towards hip-hop with percussion-heavy beats. Rapping both in Korean and English, Julie tells her listeners there’s more to her no-nonsense attitude. “You know I be the baddest in this town / But I want to be loved for just a day,” she sings. The track’s music video portrays her as the life of a party, her presence attracting the eyes of many. However, beyond the stares and the chit-chat, she longs for a deeper, more meaningful relationship.
Haneul: Crystal Clear Voice
Born in 2005, Haneul is KISS OF LIFE’s maknae (youngest member). As shared in her profile post, she understands Korean, English, and Japanese. She also cites Olivia Rodrigo as her role model, with “good 4 u” being one of her favorite songs. Her name, which means “sky” in Korean, reflects her bright voice — as showcased in her “application video” and her solo track, “Play Love Games.”
The music video for “Play Love Games” follows Haneul as a teenager in search of recognition from her peers. Once she discards her “nerdy” clothes and starts uploading dance videos online, her classmates begin to find her interesting. However, after an encounter with a young man, she soon realizes there’s more to her sudden popularity. The song itself draws a contrast from the music video, as it is a cheerful synthpop track which interpolates the 1908 song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
Interested in rookie K-pop girl groups? Read our coverage of Lapillus’ latest comeback with “Who’s Next” here!