Underrated Artists: WE

WE - Party

Let's talk about WE. Not you, or me, or we, but WE.

Wait, what?

WE is a Kpop group that belongs in the category of underrated and unknown. Although the group has not had much mainstream success, several members have been heavily involved with Korean entertainment for years. So who is WE? Unfortunately, it's notoriously difficult to find much information about them. What is interesting to note is the dynamic of the group (comprising 3 males and 1 female), and their age ranges. Chances are, you haven't heard much about them, but you have probably seen their influence in some major players today, such as Block B. If nothing else, they have made some lasting contributions to Kpop that we should be aware of. So why did they never get popular? Let's take a look at some factors that may have contributed to their descent into underground music.

WE debuted in November, 2011 with pop-rap ballad “Rainy Days.” The track is a surprisingly soulful tune that merges rap and pop elements together with much success. However, it was largely ignored and did not interest many bloggers or fans at the time. Perhaps this is because it was released within the same time period as BANG&ZELO's “Never Give Up” and MYNAME's debut, “Message.” The hype surrounding these two groups drowned out other newcomers. But it's also clear that WE is not aiming for the same type of popularity as their younger counterparts.

WE The Party

Usually, once an idol reaches the age of 25 their career is considered over. Age becomes a death kiss. But in this case, it is the opposite. WE consists of 4 members, all of whom are above the age of 27 at the writing of this article. The members are Jung Ji Hoon (Kanghan), Mandoo, Macho (Hwang Dong-Joo) and the sole female, Rosie. Kanghan is a former member of the group Black Beat, who ranked fairly well on music shows in the early 2000s. Black Beat were just a hair too early for the Kpop wave, but have been featured in music videos by early TVXQ and BOA. WE was originally conceived by Kim Chang Ryul, otherwise known as a member of DJ DOC of Run To You fame. Although you may not be familiar with old-school Kpop, there is no doubt that you have heard several groups do cover performances of this iconic song. It remains a staple in Korean karaoke to this day. (This has been confirmed by the writer of this article, who may or may not participate in Korean karaoke.)

The infectious style of dance-rap and easy-to-follow party song translated into WE's second single, and most well-known song, “Party.” While it did have some small success with the group appearing on music shows, it never took off. This could be because of timing. In recent Kpop, we have seen the launch of groups that do not fit cookie-cutter molds that have reached critical and commercial success. The formula of handsome guys, or stunning girls marketed for sex appeal was still popular at the time WE debuted, and because they did not comfortably slide into that format, they have been excluded from mainstream success. Add on top of this the shocking notion of a co-ed group where the female does more than show off her body. Rosie was already in her mid-20s when WE debuted. She exudes a sexy confidence and showcases incredible vocal talent, while still finding her place among the boys. The male members were also older, and did not represent the standard of Kpop idol “beauty.” This is a shame because songs like “Party” embody the spirit of dance songs that know exactly what their purpose is – to get you moving!

Many critics have laughed at their choice of a group name, but frankly, WE is one of the most clever names I've heard in a while. Not only is it the source of many puns, but when included in songs like “Party” it becomes a tongue-in-cheek jab at the use of English in Korean songs (“WE like party!”). But it also unifies the group as a collection that everyone can be a part of. They are not US, they are WE.

Unfortunately, WE has not released any new music in over a year. Their latest project consisted of Mandoo collaborating with Bak Chi Gi, or Chigi of label-mate group Wonderboyz, on the song “He Says, She Says.”

The group remains highly active on Twitter, and Mandoo now takes on the role of choreographer for Block B and MrMr. Even while we worry about the group’s disbandment, we eagerly await a comeback, even if it’s still in the underground scene. Do yourself a huge favour and check out WE's album, WE THE PARTY.

'L' lives in Ontario, Canada. She is a pop culture and media junkie and has helped organize kpop parties and events across Ontario. Her biases are BTS, Block B, M.I.B and Infinite.


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