January has been a great year for many female K-pop stars, with endless comebacks, releases, and music videos highlighting the strength, elegance, and sheer talent of these hard working ladies. Here are just a few of the shining stars this month so far:
The Return of Fiery Soloist, Sunmi
Former Wonder Girls member, Sunmi, brought her A-game once again with her latest single, “Heroine.” After the explosive power of “Gashina,” it was definitely risky for Sunmi to return after less than six months, but it’s a testament to her star power. Without even trying, Sunmi effortlessly pulls off another great hit and one which brings her even more into the limelight. Throughout the song, Sunmi is featured in different sets playing the heroine as she battles the mixed emotions of her failing relationship. In the end, she decides the “show must go on” and shoots her sad, crying self away (the same move was seen in her choreography for “Gashina”). It’s been revealed by many sources that “Heroine” is the prequel to “Gashina,” which makes sense considering Sunmi seems less like a vixen and more like a lost woman battling with her soon to be ex (notice her dancing with men more often, instead of women). Despite allegations of plagiarism towards producer Teddy, it’s a song which still unapologetically brings Sunmi to center stage, right where she belongs.
Chung Ha Brings a Darker Edge to Her First Comeback
The sweet, adorable, so-cute-she-can-fit-in-your-packet Chung Ha has left the building, and instead, the mature, sexy Chung Ha has returned. After the disbandment of I.O.I. in January 2017, many were wondering what would happen to the hardcore main dancer Chung Ha, prior to her revealing her future solo endeavors. Her first solo song ˚Why Don't You Know," personally felt a bit lackluster and was a safe choice for the usually unique dancer. It was cute, featured tropical house, and heavily followed trends popular in 2017. While there’s nothing wrong with her debut, it did leave fans wondering just how far she could stretch her talent. Well, she showed off her immense skill with her latest release, “Roller Coaster,” this week! Unlike “Why Don’t You Know,” “Roller Coaster” incorporated more of Chung Ha’s artistic elements with her opinions strongly influencing the production and concept of her comeback. By using blacklight, neon colors, retro EDM, playful xylophones, and other elements, Chung Ha was able to be cool by being completely herself. She followed millennial trends (because she is a millennial, duh), while not following the same path paved by others. Instead, she created her own path and this surely marks the beginning of her illustrious career.
MOMOLAND Brings the Fun Kookiness Back to K-pop
Many girl groups are either two things: too serious or too cute. Thankfully, MOMOLAND could care less about these two things, and instead are unapologetically weird, something K-pop has been missing for a while. K-pop has always been known for being extra and sometimes downright strange. However, recently, K-pop has been a bit dull and obsessed with being the coolest, which is where MOMOLAND comes in to remind everyone that music can also just be a lot of fun. What many of us needed following the New Year was a song to shake your hips to and shout along in the car with, which MOMOLAND delivered with the tune, “BBoom BBoom.” Already considered one of the catchiest songs of the year, “BBoom BBoom” has everything. Whether it’s the catchy, unique instrumental chorus, the intense rap breakdown, or even the fun hoppy choreography, it doesn’t matter because it all comes together to create one great and weird song. It’s like MOMOLAND wants to become a meme with member JooE (in the pigtails) being highlighted as just that with her overly dramatic dancing throughout the song. Perhaps MOMOLAND is incredibly self-aware as to what a horrible year 2017 was for many parts of the world, and wanted to make people smile.
Elegance Returns with OH MY GIRL in “Secret Garden”
“Coloring Book” was one of my favorite songs of 2017, and for good reason. It definitely made me intrigued as to what OH MY GIRL was going to come back with in January. The girls certainly didn’t disappoint with not only a visually stunning music video but a vocally stunning album. What OH MY GIRL’s latest title song, “Secret Garden,” lacks in instrumentals, it makes up for the strong vocal performances of each member and the overall arrangement. While each girl shines throughout the song, it also has a cohesive quality, much like the garden the girls sing about throughout. A garden is made up of many individual flowers and plants, but still share the same land, something which can go horribly wrong if the plants are in constant competition. However, if done right, a bright, a vivacious garden is produced much like OH MY GIRL’s song. Another stand out elements are the ballet-inspired choreography and costume, enhancing the same elegant theme exemplified through the girls’ vocals throughout.
GIRLKIND Proves Femininity Isn’t Defined by Cute Faces and Frilly Pastels
Hip-hop concept group, GIRLKIND, debuted Tuesday with the poppy track, “FANCI.” Although the song certainly wasn’t hip-hop and lacked substance, it also paved the way for many girl groups to try the same concept. Many girl groups are stuck in the same box of cutesy pastels with frills, which isn't wrong but is something that's overused. GIRLKIND showed that feminity can be more than frills, and instead be hardcore dancing with some IKEA shirts on. It was an exciting addition to the already heavily populated girl group scene, but the group's popularity is sure to come eventually. I'll definitely be on the lookout as these girls continue producing new tracks, and hopefully a mini-album in 2018. Many people seem overly critical of the girls' debut, which could be linked to double stands within K-pop (lots of boy groups debut with horrible songs hailed as "masterpieces"). Also, have you checked out GIRLKIND's live performances? Yeah, make sure you do! When twirling is considered normal for K-pop girl groups, GIRLKIND shows that girls can dance just as well as the boys.
It's refreshing to see these strong ladies taking over the K-pop scene right now! What other female artists have inspired you this month? Let me know in the comments below!
Stay Kurrent. Stay K-pop.
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