Retrospective: Dreamcatcher’s Short But Sweet “Summer Holiday” Promotions Build On 2021 Success

K-Pop — Dreamcatcher Retrospective

Though the Olympics made it seem Dreamcatcher was only back for a short time period, the group’s version of a K-Pop summer comeback flexed new partnerships on the road to another successful promotions cycle.

Dreamcatcher takes a group photo during “BEcause” MV filming. Source: Naver

As news of Dreamcatcher’s summer comeback surfaced in early July, it became clear that on a couple of levels, the group and the company seemed to be experimenting a little. The decision to drop an album in the midst of the 2020 Summer Olympics make-up Games, which pushed music show promotions back a week but which also allowed them sole possession of a pre-album release comeback stage on M! Countdown was one of these, as was an unusually early spoiler of the song’s choreography on Weekly Idol.

SuA enjoys the ocean during “Summer Holiday” jacket filming. Source: hf_dreamcatcher

Then there was also, of course, the concept being pushed — the fact that this was a “Special Mini Album” (the group’s 2nd, with their 1st being 2019’s “Raid of Dream” collaboration with “King’s Raid” developers Vespa) meant that the group had room to do something a little different than what fans might have been used to. The usual individual and group teaser images presented, in part, an unusually bright Dreamcatcher, filmed on a beach and seemingly having fun in the sun. And while later images, as well as things like the BEcause” MV teaser, showed that this was still at its core going to be unmistakenly Dreamcatcher’s signature rock/horror stylings, fan reaction ranged from curious to concerned about whether or not a Dreamcatcher take on K-Pop’s usually happy and catchy “summer comeback” might go over well.

But despite lots of these different factors and experiments, “Summer Holiday” ended up being a solid and successful comeback for K-Pop’s resident rock/pop girl group. Sales numbers at the time of this writing show the album at 92,862 on Hanteo according to the Deukaekdata Twitter account, just above early 2021’s “Road to Utopia” and its last tracked 92,276 mark per user nat1withadv on Reddit. While that seems like the group only grew their numbers slightly, the fact that they reached in one month a marker that took six to reach the last time around is of note and a testament to the group’s sustainability. As we’ll see, however, there are plenty of other reasons besides numbers to see that Dreamcatcher was building on an already successful 2021 filled with new opportunities and milestones. Let’s take a look at some of what made “Summer Holiday” a short, but definitely sweet, comeback for the group.

New partnerships with recognizable brand names showcased the group’s growing recognition in the industry.


As a sneak preview to my 2021 year-end writeup, I’m certainly going to be highlighting the fact that Dreamcatcher has grown their partnerships, and having Sony Music Global as their distribution and label partner for “Summer Holiday” was one of the most prominent. Sony’s reach in the music arena is huge, and adding its considerable weight and promotion mechanisms to the group was nothing but good for the album — and a preview of potentially more to come in the future.


Then there was Spotify Korea, who gave Dreamcatcher the opportunity to get in front of their platform with a nice little Q&A with fan-submitted questions. Spotify’s been trying to get a foothold in the Korean music streaming market, which has been traditionally dominated by Kakao-backed MelOn, an inevitable clash that led to Spotify temporarily de-listing many K-Pop songs as a part of a distribution disagreement with Kakao. As such, it made sense to create new partnerships with K-Pop groups to drive traffic to their platform, which was certainly of benefit to the group. Though Spotify has a small but growing presence in the South Korean market, international fans that make up the bulk of Dreamcatcher’s fanbase have been familiar with the platform for a while as a means to listen to the group’s music, so adding this collaboration was a nice feather in Dreamcatcher’s hat.


Rolling Stone Korea also scheduled an interview with Dreamcatcher. Many folks are sure to be familiar with the Rolling Stone brand, but as the origins of the publication are certainly grounded in part in the rock genre, having rock-based Dreamcatcher on, even if only for a few minutes, seemed to validate that some of the most rock-associated brands are taking notice of Dreamcatcher and what kind of music they’ve been putting out that’s advanced rock appreciation as a genre in South Korea.

And while this wasn’t quite the result of a partnership, but more of a nice little coincidence, the Olympics, while serving to shorten Dreamcatcher’s music show promotions, appeared to indirectly pay them back for it by having title track “BEcausebe a part of music breaks during South Korea’s women volleyball matches, which /r/dreamcatcher subreddit admin SpideyCylist happened to track. Someone in the sound booth for those venues is likely to have been a K-Pop fan, and the timing of the release of “Summer Holiday” meant that “BEcause” was immediately available for use. Just having this play in the background during a worldwide event, though having admittedly little mileage overall, is just another little footnote in Dreamcatcher’s global footprint.

Dreamcatcher recognized its international fanbase with a global interview circuit to increase its outreach.

Speaking of Dreamcatcher’s global reach, this time around it was noticeable that the group did a pretty wide-ranging circuit of international websites and video channels to conduct interviews. Some, like Buzzfeed and Bandwagon, were immediately recognizable, but the vast majority of sites appeared to be music publications and channels from all over the world, including but not limited to:


Dreamcatcher has always been aware of and been thankful for their international fanbase, which has always been a solid portion of their following. And while they’ve certainly done interviews before, this was the first time that I can remember that they’ve done so in such a deliberate manner, actually doing the rounds around the globe to talk to and reach out to their fandom in many countries as part of promotions. This was especially important as Dreamcatcher was trying some new things with their hybridized rock sound this time around (including actually being able to make a traditional summer-type song in B-side “Airplane” and a trip into citypop with “Alldaylong”), so hearing all the different ways in which they played with their sound was insightful and interesting.

Dreamcatcher took advantage of existing relationships and a growing network of their peers in the industry to promote “Summer Holiday” (and become successful fans).


If “Summer Holiday” promotions proved anything from a networking perspective, it’s that Dreamcatcher and Dreamcatcher Company leveraged what they have built so far in 2021 with their variety and radio appearances. They made their second dedicated full episode appearance on Weekly Idol, appeared on Esquire Korea for the third time to do not only a “BEcause” performance but also a fashion film, dropped back into After School Club, and much more.


These variety relationships, whether they are older and more long-standing, or part of new opportunities only realized for the first time previous in the year (such as when Dreamcatcher headed back to Mdromeda to do a live band version of “BEcause after having appeared previously for “Odd Eye” and “Wind Blows”) are evidence of Dreamcatcher continuing to solidify what they’ve begun to shore up as far as their gradually growing domestic recognition, something that’s been a long time coming. Being able to not just appear a single time but also work repeatedly with show partners can only increase Dreamcatcher’s exposure both at home and on the international front.

But the greater evidence that Dreamcatcher is increasing its reach for “Summer Holiday” and beyond is found in the expansion of their network with their fellow idols, some of which exist in more popular circles in the K-Pop industry. During “Summer Holiday” promotions, SuA took full advantage of her regular radio gig on SBS’s Youngstreet and her new/growing friendship with Red Velvet’s Wendy to parley an appearance for her, JiU, and Siyeon. An earlier, partial group appearance on Naver NOW’s Studio Moon Night with MAMAMOO’s Moonbyul turned into a second chaotic and entertaining appearance with the full group, with the same happening for Secret’s Jun Hyosung’s Dreaming Radio. JiU and SuA also made their way back to Hope Song at Noon with Weeekly’s Jihan and Jaehee after a successful first appearance earlier in the year.


All of these repeat appearances with fellow idols in the radio and video arenas in K-Pop go to show that Dreamcatcher is not just making but sustaining their network of friends and peers in the industry and that in turn, those peers are taking notice of their hard work and success these past four years.


The most tangible way in which this recognition has manifested itself during these promotions is through Dreamcatcher members meeting senior artists who they’ve idolized and looked up to. Yoohyeon, long a fan of ex-Wonder Girls member and accomplished soloist Sunmi, got to not only meet her, but also do a dance challenge with her, take photos with her, and exchange numbers for future contact. Dami, normally calm and collected, went full fangirl when Dreamcatcher appeared on Legendary Trainee, a new variety show where Girls Generation/SNSD member Sunny acts the part of a new pre-debut trainee getting advice from “seniors”. Dami’s well-known among Dreamcatcher’s fans to be a hardcore “S♡NE” (SNSD’s fandom name) and was ecstatic to be recognized and appreciated by a member of her most treasured K-Pop group. These are nice moments to see — not just for the fact that this kind of networking validates Dreamcatcher’s success, but that individually, the members can feel like they’re accomplishing a sense of respect and even friendship from people they’ve been fans of. K-Pop is very often volatile and a difficult industry to succeed in, and seeing Dreamcatcher be recognized like this is a milestone they should be proud of.

Dreamcatcher continued to forge new relationships and appearances to create new potential avenues for success in the future.

Even though promotions seemed shorter this time around, Dreamcatcher still managed to establish some new appearances with places they haven’t been before. Jungshik, who has an idol interview/variety show called “Official Request” and is also known as a frequent partner host for veteran idol/soloist Jessi’s hugely popular “Showterview” series, was able to meet Dreamcatcher for the first time and hilariously play off of their dark horror concepts for fun interactions.


Dreamcatcher also returned to Kiss the Radio for the first time since 2017 (shortly after their debut), but this time there was a new host — Young K, part of rock group Day 6, who Dreamcatcher have been fans of for some time. Dreamcatcher have appeared with Day 6 members before — the last being an Idol Radio appearance — but it definitely didn’t hurt to have more members to interact with and add to their growing network.


Picking up where they left off during promotions for “BOCA” at this time last year, partner LG/IDOLLive gave Dreamcatcher an opportunity to drive traffic to their mobile platform and show off their intelligence and insight by putting them into a brand new “Fan Finding” show, where idol groups try to figure out from between two choices who is a “real” fan and who was “fake”, constructed from staff research. Dreamcatcher playing up the detective role, literally smelling their way to the answer of who is the real fan, and walking through their accomplishments was fun to see, and a testament to their entertainment value in general for new variety shows.


And of course there were the random and unexpected new appearances in new places, such as when Dreamcatcher sent frequently chaotic duo SuA and Siyeon to fun YouTube channel Icon Chips, whose meme-filled, casual interview style suited them just fine as they told interviewers about what it’s like being seen as having “beagle energy” in a room, roasting each other over their proficiency in other languages and generally making people laugh with their antics. These appearances, though sometimes with little notice, are a nice way to see that even though Dreamcatcher has made plenty of inroads with their existing connections, that they’re not afraid to make new ones and expand their web of content — something that allows them to persist in delivering fun videos and appearances to their fans long after promotions have ended. It’s a strategy that has built confidence in the group’s wide-ranging appeal, even if at times they might be missing the “big” variety shows (and even that might gradually be changing) that K-Pop fans frequently watch.

Like Handong before her during ”Road to Utopia”, Gahyeon emerged as a noticeable standout during “Summer Holiday” promotions.

Like I said in the last retrospective, I hesitate to declare any comeback era as one single Dreamcatcher member’s. After all, it’s the group presentation and execution as well as the different personalities and talents that make up why Dreamcatcher is successful and also why individuals on Dreamcatcher and stand out in the first place.

That said, it’s hard to deny that youngest member Gahyeon hasn’t had a pretty decent amount of attention given to her by fans, her fellow members, and the company during these comeback promotions. From her prominent role in the “story” of the “BEcause” music video where she ends up the unwitting latest victim of the doppelganger replacement that served as an homage to horror movie “Us”, to her deep red hair, to her noticeable time front and center for the choreography, Gahyeon seemed to have embraced the opportunity to do more this time around.

Arguably, this maturing of Gahyeon’s performance skill and presence has been happening for over a year. Since picking up prominent portions of the rapper line with Dami during promotions for “Scream” and then again during “BOCA”, we’ve seen Gahyeon on an upward trajectory of being trusted with doing more for the group, and like Handong, has embraced the role when given the opportunity. She’s frequently been referred to as a member that catches new fans’ eyes when they’re just getting into the group, and her following has increased as people have gotten to know how far she’s come from her much younger days when she was still a student until shortly after debut.

And while we still see flashes of the stereotypical “maknae” (youngest member) role that typified much of Gahyeon’s earlier presentation and camera time with the rest of the group, including acting more “cute” and needing a bit more encouragement from her older fellow members, there’s also an assertiveness and more identifiable confidence that comes not from being seen as the youngest (and thus more apt to wanting/needing attention), but in finding her own niche in the group as a whole.

Gahyeon deviously deflects attention from her and onto innocent citizen JiU during a Mafia Dance Game. Source: Dingo Global DGG

Just to pull out some examples, Gahyeon’s knowledge of drama trivia (as displayed during a recent After School Club appearance), brilliant manipulation of her fellow members to win in the Mafia Dance Game in their recent appearance on Dingo Global DGG, and, according to her fellow members, her ability to comfortably blur the age lines between the members through her cavalier use of language displays a sharpness and a personality that reveals a depth beyond just being seen as the “maknae” member. The company seemed to recognize and trust this, going so far as to trade some of her rap lines the last two comebacks for more center camera time, where she has the opportunity to show how her stage presence has improved — even if that meant Gahyeon used informal language on a public music show broadcast to wish SuA a happy birthday, to both comedic and touching effect.


Of course, it also helps that recently Gahyeon’s been doing more individual activities as well. Picking back up her contributions to the Dreamcatcher’s VLOG series to show off some candid behind-the-scenes work for “Summer Holiday” filming, and following in Yoohyeon’s footsteps by having an extended gaming livestream where she actually played with and managed interaction with fans are just two examples. Her independence in this vein displays a confidence that the company, and more importantly, Gahyeon herself, is exhibiting to carve her own niche in the group. While every Dreamcatcher member contributes significantly to the success of everyone as a whole, having Gahyeon pick up responsibility like this only helps perception that there is no member left behind, and that from the youngest to the oldest, Dreamcatcher is a complete, multi-talented group of performers. When Gahyeon succeeds, Dreamcatcher does, and it’s nice to see that more prominently shown this comeback cycle. Like everyone, I was quite relieved to hear from Gahyeon herself that her current situation after being diagnosed with COVID is being monitored closely and that she’s feeling better and resting, and we’ll look forward to more from her when she’s back to 100%.

Dreamcatcher’s SuA makes a wish for her birthday while the members look on. Source: Naver

All in all, even though this felt a bit shorter than normal, “Summer Holiday” appeared to check all the boxes for a successful comeback for Dreamcatcher — solid album sales, lots of memorable moments both from a performance and variety standpoint, expansion of their reach a recognition from both old and new industry connections that their work is unique and valuable, and a healthy and safe finish to their schedules. Their current COVID quarantine situation aside, they certainly don’t show any signs of slowing down and plan on staying as busy as they can as we approach the last portion of the year. As always though, Dreamcatcher’s health and safety is most important, and regardless of how much more they decide to engage in this year as a result, they’ve certainly accomplished a lot already in 2021. I’ll look forward to seeing more from the group whenever they’re able, and many more future successful comebacks.