Sunday, September 23, 2012

NOW KPOPPING: Girl Group Gallery

With Girls' Generation planning their next big bow, 2NE1 dragging their feet for their next release (side eyes, side eyes) and T-Ara's career circling the drain, you'd think the girl group scene in Korea would be boring. Nope. Here's a quick catchup lesson of what you should be listening least until TVXQ drops their latest classic in a few minutes...

EVOL (pronounced like 'evil') - "We Are A Little Bit Different"
There's plenty of rookie girl groups coming out of the woodwork. Telling the difference between all these nugus is not something I particularly excel at, but from the minute I saw the music video for EvoL's "We Are A Little Bit Different" (too on the nose? No?), I found  myself quite taken by them. They have the spunk and "rebel girl" attitude that gave 2NE1 such success but is still very much within the cutesy-girl-group-with-latent-sex-appeal pocket that seems to be Korea's bread and butter.

EvoL is a five member girl group and at the moment are best known as being the "sister" group to fellow "rebel" boy band Block B. "We Are A Little Bit Different" isn't the best song from their debut EP, Let Me Explode (in my opinion, that goes to slightly harder "Magnet"), but still has a bangin' dancefloor, Guetta-esque feel. My only real complaint is the chorus is literally non-existent (Oo-oh-ohhhh Oh Oh Oh Oh!). Come on, girls. You can do better than that. Considering it's their debut single, I will give them a pass because I have a feeling they have more up their sleeves.

SECRET - "Poison"
Secret is a four-piece girl group that's been around the block a few times. They are best known in Korea for being the true queens of the vintage sound, so if you dug Wonder Girls' "Nobody" swing or TaeTiSeo's "Twinkle", you should be all about Secret. Signed to TS Entertainment (who is basically these days only relevant for the rampant popularity of the in-your-face boy band B.A.P.), the group debuted in 2009 (a year that also brought us f(x), 2NE1 and 4minute). I started paying attention thanks to 2010's "Madonna", a song that had a slight New Jack Swing kind of feel long before SHINee was oh-so-curious and their recent comeback, centered around the single "Poison" from their third official mini album, feels a bit like "Madonna" (Part 2!) in a really great way.

While I am a bit upset that Secret doesn't get the attention or credit they probably deserve, considering how vocally talented they are, "Poison" is a really fun song, albeit a bit repetitive. But then again -- this is KPOP, so...

And I know what you're thinking. Not totally unlike SISTAR, Secret is a girl group in Korea with curves. Astonishing, I know, but they do exist. 

KARA - "Pandora"
I'm gonna be honest when I say that I probably don't have the swag necessary to be the fifth member of 2NE1, and while I joined the KPOP fandom in 2009 feeling like perhaps I wouldn't mind being the sixth member of 4minute (don't judge me -- those neon-colored leggings circa the "Muzik" era were fierce), these days, I picture myself more along the lines of a BFF of the Wonder Girls and perhaps the sixth member of KARA.

While 2NE1 & Girls' Generation often gets lots of press for their success in Japan, if we want to be totally accurate, it's the girls in DSP Entertainment's KARA that are really making bank in the second biggest music market in the world. They also clean up in Korea, with a stack full of hits including cutesy "Wanna", butt-dance creating "Mister", the 70's disco-inspired "STEP" and everybody's fave "Lupin". They added to this hit brigade with their latest comeback in the synthy space jam "Pandora" -- perfectly fitting in to the KARA sound without feeling like a remash of what they've already done.

The song itself is very catchy (as is the case with most KARA jams) but recently gained a bit of criticism for being too sexy (this is Korea we're talking about, after all), as in the choreography, the girls pull down their shirts and exposes quite a bit of their back. Had KARA been a boy band, we all know this would have been totally cool and probably encouraged, but because they are chicks, we must shield the minors from this kind of total depravity. Sigh. Another day, another Korean Scandal. Doesn't make "Pandora" any less amazing.

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