Friday, January 15, 2016

NOW KPOPPING: The 10 Best KARA Singles

 is best known for being a girl group that not only saw admirable success in South Korea but in Japan as well, nabbing hits on the Oricon and selling out Domes, the latter being a feat few Korean artists can boast. 

Recently, news broke that three of KARA's current four member lineup are choosing to not renew their contracts with their entertainment company, DSP Media (also home of fellow girl group Rainbow and, well, little else). This left many fans of KARA and KPOP in general to come to a sad conclusion: the group is pretty much kaput.

If you were a fan of KARA, you already know that with this group, there was no half-stepping in their brand of dance pop. They're sassy, they're sexy, they're super fun to dance to. Hence my super sad face emoji feelings about this news.

We've gotten no "official" word from DSP Media on KARA's disbandment (yet), although media outlets are reporting a targeted date at early February. But still, I figured now was as good a time as any to remember what made KARA so great as a group -- part of the generation that made me fall in love with the genre in the first place.

UPDATE: DSP has officially confirmed KARA's disbandment. :( #ThankYouKara

Yes, I think this calls for a KARA dance party...


Lineup changes aren't anything new to these ladies. Original member Sung-hee left the group shortly after debut in 2008. Popular member Nicole and baby Jiyeon left the group (and the company) in 2014, resulting in the launch of the reality competition television show Kara Project to find one girl to fill the member vacancy and continue on. This was not without controversy, however. One of the girls competing on the show, Ahn Sojin, reportedly committed suicide after not being chosen (and being a DSP trainee for years).

Now, with the announcement of the exit of leader Gyuri, original member Seung-Yeon, and visual/occasional solo artist Hara, the project now only includes Young-Ji, who won the Kara Project reality program. Normally, I'd say anything could happen in the world of pop music but on the surface, this doesn't look good. Sure, Wonder Girls was able to turn it around (and so did TVXQ! after the exit of three singers) but considering only one gal is left...

DSP may choose to re-cast (again) but it would make more sense to give her a new project to perform in considering she's only been with KARA for about a year. They recently debuted a six-turned-five member girl group called APRIL who hasn't really rocked the boat in terms of sales. Perhaps they could retool the APRIL project and include Young-Ji? Time will tell.


Below are my favorite KARA jams. Let me know your faves in the comments or on Twitter via @melismaticdiva.

10. MAMMA MIA (2014) 
Sorry, Young-Ji. This is the only one that features you. If that isn't proof that this poor girl got the short end of the stick, I don't know what is. But considering the Girl Group Curse of 2013, it's a miracle we got something this great after the big blow of losing Nicole & Jiyeon.

9. ELECTRIC BOY (2012)
The gals were already long into their Win Streak in Japan when they released this one (cutesy "Jet Coaster Love" hit #1 on the Japanese Oricon the year before) but this was more in line with their synthy dance style that I enjoy so much. It also went to #1 on the Japanese Hot 100, compiled by Billboard.

8. SPEED UP (2012)
Another Japanese dance jam.

7. BREAK IT (2007)
A red herring in style -- this was KARA's first single/debut song in South Korea. The lineup excludes future visual member Hara as it was before she was in the group and the sound style is decidedly more R&B / 90's girl group ethos. Those clothes!

6. HONEY (2009)
After lineup changes and stylistic changes, "Honey" marked the beginning of their popularity in South Korea (and later Japan). 

5. MISTER (2009)
You can't talk about KARA and not mention the butt dance. The dance routine became regularly copied in the Korean music scene and is, to this day, one of the most iconic dance moves of the genre. Everybody and their mother was doing it.

4. WANNA (2009)
"Wanna" marked the first song by KARA I really put on backhole repeat. It doesn't get catchier than this.

3. PANDORA (2012)
Slick production, stylish visuals, all of the girls look and sound incredible. Banger.

2. STEP (2011)
It was hard for me to put this at #2 since I adore the song so very much. Disco outfits, Disco Concept -- you can't really go wrong. I still play this song a ton. It definitely holds up.

1. LUPIN (2010)
At the height of the "dark" trend that took over KPOP for awhile (arguably started by Girls' Generation's "Run Devil Run"), "Lupin" represents (to me) KARA at their ultimate peak.

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