After weeks of girl group releases, did you really think that things were going to slow down? Well, did you, punk? All I know is that the second and third tiers of Kpop may have the most compelling releases of the summer. But does it matter when groups like Apink and Girl's Generation dominate the charts no matter what they release? The Clash of the Girl Groups keeps on going, so let's get started!
Stellar vs. The Internet
It's been called, by many, the vagina video. And, yes, there's so much vagina imagery that Georgia O'Keeffe would be like, This is a bit much. But in this day and age, with the competition as fierce and unforgiving as this Kpop summer has been, too much is just enough. I've said many times that if you want to have a killer release, you have to Go Big Or Go Home. And Stellar must have heard me because no group has done that more than them. They've decided, probably after no one cared about the more lighthearted, generic "Fool," that if they're not going to be famous, they're going to infamous.
It helps that this song just kills. It's an epic release and by the time you've been assaulted by half-a-dozen vaginas, the song blasts to the climax and you're loving it (Georgia O'Keeffe would be like, This is my jam). This is the sequel to "Marionette" no one knew they wanted. All the way down to the leotards.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the internet. Remember how controversial and polarizing netizens found "Marionette?" It made half of Kpop sound like grandparents, bemoaning the decay of society.
The hellfire brought upon "Vibrato" isn't even close to that. In fact, if you look at the YouTube video, most comments are fans giving their full support. While there are plenty of dislikes, the likes finally dwarf them. So what's changed since oh 2014? Have netizens somehow turned the corner? Have we all grown up a little? Maybe just desensitized? Or is it the timing - Stellar's hyper-sexuality instills something close to relief whilst grouped in with the summer sweetness of most girl group releases. Whatever the reason, we're glad that Stellar has transcended the tired slut-shaming conversation of Kpop's recent past. They've gone big, ridiculous even, and have an iconic release that will be remembered for years.
Stellar vs. The Internet: GO BIG OR GO HOME
Apink vs. THE FUTURE
We've got to hand it to Apink, they are unabashedly devoted to their brand of sweet, pre-millennium Kpop. Did I say brand? Because really, it's a sub-genre within Kpop that Apink has spearheaded, and without their success we'd probably not see the likes of Lovelyz or GFriend, who are apparently releasing a song with a Spanish title?
Which, considering the marketing potential with the devoted South American Kpop fanbase, feels pretty ingenious. But, I digress.
Forever now, we've been wondering when Apink would change up their concept, but, the more we think about it, why on Earth would they do that? If they went sexy, they'd get lost in the shuffle of sexy concepts. If they even went mature, they'd lose that idyllic innocence that seems to be so appealing to their fans (we honestly don't get it, here at Critical Kpop, but we can't deny that it's there).
But the future, it's coming. Sonamoo and Hello Venus are jumping into the fray!
Sonamoo with "Cushion."
And Hello Venus with "I'm Ill."
Now, of course, Apink will wipe the floor (what does that saying even mean??) with the both of them. It's not even a question. Apink may be the sole girl group this summer that can challenge SNSD at music shows (if Infinite doesn't win everything first). So where's the fight here? As Georgia O'Keeffe would say, Where's the clash?
The clash is in evolution, Georgia. Some groups, like Hello Venus, will change their concepts dramatically with every release, just to see what will stick(y). "Wiggle Wiggle" may have been the most cynical release of the year, signaling what we'd like to refer to as the Post-Kpopalypse, where these second and third-tier groups sense weakness (after a tumultuous year of scandal for the top-tier groups), and will go unflinchingly overboard in trying to elevate their standing. With "I'm Ill," Hello Venus is going for something T-ara-lite with the EDM and strobe lighting quick cuts. It's a decent song, although the music is a bit overpowering so you can't really differentiate the vocals (and Lime seems completely underused here, which is sad).
Sonamoo's a rookie group so we should expect some change here. The strange lyrics aside ("He's like a cushion??"), it's a solid if not spectacular song. I'm surprised and more than a little disappointed that they didn't go further with being B.A.P's sister group, and went instead with something softer and middling here. Maybe it's because of the hate they were getting from irate B.A.P fans? Whatever happened to B.A.P's contract dispute anyway? Kpop is a strange world, folks.
But anyway, you look at what these groups are changing, almost haphazardly, and then you have Apink, resilient, steadfast, fighting the future one release at a time. And they keep getting more popular. Who wins here? Who do you think?
Apink vs. The Future: Apink
Choco Chip Cookie vs. How About Me?
As Georgia O'Keeffe would say, What's this - a solo release in the Clash of the Girl Groups? Well, first of all, calm down, O'Keeffe. Goo Hara is a member of Kara, in case you forgot, so what she does as a solo artist resonates in the Girl Group arena.
The only point I need to make here is that DSP just released a dance practice video for "How About Me?" proving that life isn't fair.
I complained a bit about this in the last This Week in Kpop, but "How About Me?" is a thousand times more memorable than the pretty pictorial we got from "Choco Chip Cookie." I know, I know, KBS banned the song. But you run with that, DSP, and go with the song with some attitude and edge. This is the solo release we deserved after years of flat Kara releases. This is the evolution Kara should be taking, and having Youngji there too shows what we're missing because DSP is afraid to take risks. As Georgia O'Keeffe would say, GO BIG OR GO HOME. Wait, I said that. I'm sure a lot of people have said that though, at least once.
Choco Chip Cookie vs. How About Me?: We've All Lost, All Is Lost
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.