Their image is both a good thing and a bad thing - while it is what catapulted them from behind the shadows of Big Three girl groups, it is now hindering their shot at greater success. A Pink’s songs must stay true to their concept (which hasn’t changed at all since 2011) or risk losing popularity from fans. All of their lead singles, while doing well (and being super catchy) are pretty much the same. Their songs are predictable - their music videos will contain the members of A Pink engaged in stereotypical girly activities, Eunji will be given the most solos, and there will be a dance sequence shoe horned in, just because (fans also find those dance sequences convenient for fan chants).
One might argue that having a signature sound and concept is important in the oversaturated Kpop industry, but A Pink’s songs, while being frilly and girly fun, aren’t exactly the most original - almost every girl group has done a cute concept and song once in their career. Compare A Pink to all the other girl groups out there - Girls' Generation, Spica, f(x) - and you’ll see that all of them have variety between their concepts and music.
I’m not saying that A Pink should go the sexy route like lots of other groups this past year - far from it. A Pink is standing out for remaining devoted to their concept of innocence and girly-ness. But can’t they experiment a bit? Making a drastic concept change worthy of Girls' Generation need not happen, but fans will start getting restless. However, I understand their position right now - Kpop as an industry is in a precarious position right now, and their winning formula for a perfect comeback is making them gain popularity. But playing it safe can lose fans too, and people will get bored of what A Pink has to offer.
I still think that 2015 is the right year to make a change - after three years of establishing their “signature” sound that they own, they can take a risk or two, like their seniors f(x) did. If you can recall, all of f(x)’s singles after LaChaTa sounded the same, and so they established their “sound.” However, many people were alienated by f(x)’s songs, saying that they all were the same and so on - the same complaints for A Pink! Granted, f(x)’s sound was more distinct in an industry that loves aegyo. But after a couple of years, f(x) released Pink Tape, which included many familiar f(x) style tracks and experimentation on others.
Some might say that with A Pink, experimentation isn’t possible, since they come from a smaller agency and already have a music show-winning, chart-topping formula for success every comeback. However, have you seen the material Cube has been releasing for their boy groups? No one would say that BTOB or Beast’s songs sound the same, because they don’t. The female acts in Cube Entertainment are getting worse material compared to the boy groups. In one way, this is understandable - there are more female Kpop fans in general, and boy groups sell where girl groups don’t. That isn’t the best excuse out there, compared to the material other girl groups are getting.
A Pink has so much going for it, and their popularity is rising. However, in order to reach the level of success that other top-tier groups have, they’ll have to take a risk instead of playing it safe. Otherwise the fans will get bored, and there is so much more Kpop has to offer.
Poonam S. lives in the suburbs of Massachusetts, and got into kpop in the summer of 2014. She is a full time student, and has been interested in the more critical aspects of music from a very young age. Her biases include f(x), Infinite, Big Bang, and AKMU.