STATE OF KOREA: Sub-Units Galore, News & SHINee's Back (Soon)

Well, hello there. It's been a second since we've last spoken -- especially since we've last spoken KPOP. Don't blame me -- blame New York. We had a "blizzard" named after my #2 KPOP Bias (if you don't get that joke, you're not an ELF, and I apologize) during Fashion Week of all times (the nerve of some weather systems) and February is proving to be a crazy busy month for yours truly. This marks the second year I've been a judge for SELF Magazine's Healthy Food Awards (it's not as glamorous as it seems, I just like to eat free food), and in this month alone, I will be seeing not one, not two, but three artists live in concert (two of them are this coming week). Enough of the personal stuff...onto the the KPOP.

+ In mid-January the generally amazing Simon Curtis announced on Twitter that a song he had written was being used by a KPOP artist. He didn't give many other details other than in a reply tweet he mentioned "group" which only narrows it down to 45 million potential artists. (FYI - if it's SHINee, I will cry happy tears of joy.) Let the speculation begin...

+ Speaking of SHINee, it was confirmed that not only will they have a new song in Japan under the promising dancey title of "Fire" (koong koong koong...no wait), but will also be returning to Korea with a brand new full album on February 19th under the title "Dream Girl". Three teaser images have been released so far (Taemin, Key and Jonghyun) and are all predictably confusing but hey -- at least they look genuinely attractive this time and not creepy as all eff like during the "Sherlock" era. Can you believe it's almost been a year since the SHINee bb's got "so curious, chyeahhhh"? (PS: SM, if this "Dream Girl" is just a rebooted Korean version of "Dazzling Girl", I will cry foul.) Anyway you look at it, you can definitely expect a fangirl keyboardsmash post -- we all know SHINee is my third favorite KPOP boyband.

+ BoA released a music video for her one off single "Disturbance" which features the youngest SHINee bb as her main love interest in honor of her first ever headline tour in Korea. I know -- BoA's the original KPOP Queen and yet this is her first tour in Korea? Wait -- you're surprised BoA, a 26 year old popstar is using a 13 19 year old boy band cutie in her video? Um...are you new here? SHINee's marketing was built upon seducing noonas.

+ Apparently, I was really lucky to see the Wonder Girls live in concert when I did. You may have already heard that leader Sunye recently tied the knot, making her the first Korean idol to get married while a group was still currently popular. (Her bridal party included her BFF and the genuinely snap FABULOUS! JoKwon of 2AM.) She also confirmed that she would be leaving Korea to live in Canada, in order to live with her hubby, who is Korean-Canadian. While your obvious first reaction should be, "Awww, good for her!," it does kind of beg the question of what's gonna happen to Yubin, Lim, Yenny and Sohee? Will the Wonder Girls continue as a four-piece? Will they get a new member? Will they switch leaders? And most importantly, will we ever see that freakin' English album? The answer is...who knows? JYP is not answering any questions at the moment, other than the remaining four ladies will be focusing on solo projects for the time being. A large rumor swept fandom that former member SunMi, who left the group in 2010 following the English release of "Nobody," might return to take Sunye's place, but JYP was quick to shoot that down. There are also rumors running rampant of a possible sub-unit release, most likely of Yubin and Sohee, and potentially mixing them with members of little sister group miss A, although nothing has been confirmed or denied. Basically, the sum up is, the future of the Wonder Girls is completely uncertain. :(

+ The reason why I put some hope and faith into a possible Wonder Girls sub-unit situation is because: currently in Korea, the cool thing seems to be unit groups, and by "unit" I mean sub-units. 4minute debuted their second official "unit" group following the highly successful Trouble Maker duo pairing of HyunA and B2ST's JS (well, if you don't count HyunA's solo work, which I don't) in the form of duo group 2YOON (pronounced "ssang-yoon" officially, in Korean) or "double yoon". They have taken on this name as the two 4minute members featured are GaYoon and JiYoon. Get it? They released their title track "24/7" back in January and it was described as a "country KPOP dance fusion". Yes, country as in with farm animals and twangy banjo. I'm not joking. A lot of people were digging it; I was not one of them. You can check watch the music video below.


+ More recently, two of the hotties from quartet group SISTAR (ooh hoo hoo hoo) have re-emerged their sub-unit SISTAR19, featuring the main star of SISTAR (and the best known member) Hyorin alongside rapper Bora. The significance of the 19 suffix to SISTAR is supposed to suggest a sexier, "more mature" feel than SISTAR's usual repertoire, but considering SISTAR is one of the few genuinely curvaceous ladies of KPOP, I think they were already mature to begin with (did you see the video for "Alone"?). Anyhoo, the unit released a follow up to 2011's "Ma Boy" (which honestly, I didn't much care for) in the form of the incredibly redundant title song "Gone, Not Around Anymore". The song is fairly sparse, features a hip wiggle dance and recently went to #1 on the Billboard KPOP Hot 100 Chart. It's definitely a grower, but lacks the immediate appeal that "Alone" had. Watch the video below.


+ And finally, the last sub-unit worth mentioning is the aptly titled Super Junior-M (M is for Mandarin), who returned with their new cut "Break Down" (downnnnnnnnn-uh!), complete with fashionable dubstep swooshes. The song was released in both the Chinese music market and the Korean music market, and this is incredibly important for this very reason: "Break Down" was performed and promoted in Korea. This has never happened before officially for Super Junior M. Which meant it was Chinese member Zhou Mi and Taiwanese-Canadian member Henry's big Korean debut! After five years as a member of the Super Junior family!! It was definitely an emotional moment for the two of them to perform on a Korean stage -- and is proof positive that the very nationalistic "Only 13" drama that plagued them when they were first added to the SuJu collective is finally starting to dissipate. (Seriously: Only13ers, go get a life. With cute boys of any nationality, the more the merrier.) It also supplied us with questionable hair (Eunhyuk, I'm looking at you -- not just in the video but through this whole promo phase, just stawp it with the Manic Panic dyes), terrible fashion and lots of borderline too-much body waves. Seeing as it's SuJu, it was predictable -- and I wouldn't have it any other way.


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