Okay, okay. We admit it, butt is cute. Kpop butt is cute. But when is butt too much butt? What is the breaking point? We're not even condemning the glut of sexy concepts. Look at various YouTube comments under various girl groups' videos to see those "complex" discussions. We're just saying that we might have gotten enough butt to last us a good long time now. Butt - sorry, but - hear us out here.
Yes, Hello Venus has butt in their new comeback called, Butt. Or is it called, "Sticky Sticky?" We couldn't tell because we were distracted by butt. I mean, look at the picture above. That camera angle. The awkward hip movement. The hands waving above the butt, saying, look at butt. We've seen this move before, from Sistar, remember? We like butt, sure. But butt needs context too, doesn't it? Some reason to be butt? And Sistar's "So Cool?"
That butt dance was three years ago. We never thought we'd believe this, but butt is becoming retro.
You know what we miss? Those glory days of butt. Many arguments erupt when attempting to pinpoint just the video that encapsulates the beginnings of that time period (some would argue that it can be glimpsed in Sistar's "So Cool" in fact), but there should be no real discussion. We're talking about Kara. And immediately you know. That's how wonderful their butt dance is. Because when we say Kara and butt you just know.
Do you even remember 2010? Obama was president. The war on terror. Healthcare? And then there was a group called Kara with an amazing song called "Mister," with a butt dance that was so butt dance that everyone called it "butt dance." But here's what's so amazing about this quintessential butt dance. For one, it's not just about the butt as a curvy, sexual image, butt as object, as some would say. The butt is not the centerpiece here, the butt is often shielded by the suspenders or the attached hats. This could be because of the far more conservative times of the early 10's, but also because when it comes down to it, the butt here is serving the song exactly as it should. Because the song is so good, so energetic, that you need to, you have no choice but to move your damn butt.
That's why, even all of these many years later, Kara's butt dance is iconic. Do you see? As amazing as butt is: Good butt needs context. A reason to be. "to butt or not to butt" should not be the question. The real question on every idol's lips should be: Why butt?
Since the golden age of butt ended (and no one can say when it ended, we just know that it's been over for a long time), Kpop groups have the butt part right, but not the context in which to place that butt.
Some would argue that Girl's Day, "Except" was another iconic butt dance, one that was both audacious (Girl's Day transitioning from cute to sexy) and memorable.
And yes, we'll give Girl's Day credit (and we do love Girl's Day) for having a butt dance that uniquely employs suspenders. But does the butt dance fit the seriousness of the song as well Kara's "Mister" fits their butt dance's joy? Probably not. And since that song, Girl's Day butt integrity has been spotty at best. Observe, from "Female President."
Or from "Darling," just below. Yes, we do realize some people have come here just to view butt.
Slowly but surely, the butt has gotten just...lazy. And Girl's Day isn't even the biggest offenders. Sistar, with their flagrant use of butt, isn't the worst either.
AOA loves butt. I think we can safely establish that. Did you see "Miniskirt?" Their new video for "Like a Cat" furthers this love of butt. Did we say love? With AOA, butt is fetishization.
And again, we love butt too. We don't know why sometimes, but we do. But the butt is getting lazy, and when it's not lazy, it's weird. Who cringed when super cute Crayon Pop subgroup Strawberry Milk had their little butt jiggle?
Why butt? Or Hyomin's butt shake? Or Fiestar's various butt shots in "One More?" We know western fans decry Wa$$up and their butt antics, but when butt is as widespread as it has become, can we really put the blame on one singular person or group? And if we can, maybe the butt of the blame goes to you. Me. The consumer. Butt sells. Which means someone's buying.
We're not advocating a boycott on butt. We're not even saying all butt is now bad. We're saying that it's not all about butt, or it shouldn't always be. We know that Korean culture has different views on cleavage and networks blush at the very sight of voluptuous idols like Secret's Hyoseong or G.NA. But there's more to sexiness than specific body parts, isn't there? Shouldn't we get beyond the parts, beyond viewing the body simply as an object?
You know one of the sexiest girl group videos I've ever seen? This might surprise you: Rainbow's "A."
It's an amazing song, for one (one of the most underrated Kpop songs ever). But that move, lifting the shirt, ever so much, sometimes to reveal belly button...there's nothing gratuitous about it, except, perhaps, the implication. But audiences went crazy for it. And, for me, it wasn't about seeing their waists, it was that the song fit that teasing sexuality perfectly.
You might have a different opinion on sexiest video, but that's the point. Everyone has a different perception of sexiness. Sexiness should be diverse, creative. Different. But right now, all we're getting, and will continue to get, is butt.
And we're bored.
Timothy Moore writes from Chicago. He blogs at Read My Blog Please, and edits at Ghost Ocean Magazine. His biases are T-ara, Block B, Nine Muses, Brown Eyed Girls, and Girl's Day.