This is getting to be just too much now, friends. As a lover of girl groups, and resident girl group Kpop lover here at Critical Kpop, I've been ready to wave the white flag and declare 2015 Year of the Boy Band. But the girl groups are back, with an unrelenting vengeance. And they're rewarding/punishing their fans by having their releases days apart, in a clash of the girl powers the likes the world has never seen (we imagine)! Hyperbole aside, let's look at the continuing clash of the girl groups! Who are the winners here?
AOA vs. Sistar
This faceoff seems like it's getting strangely personal between the groups and their respective fandoms, with even the voting on music shows being suspect. There have been conspiracy theories for a while that MBC and Music Core despise Sistar and love seeing them fail, and when Sistar beat AOA on all categories except fan texting, and still lost, Sistar fans felt like this was another prime example. And when you look at Sistar, after hearing that AOA has won, Hyorin does not look happy. She leaves immediately as the encore begins, and none of Sistar congratulates AOA.
To be fair, AOA looked less than thrilled when Sistar won on Music Bank, and to be fair to both groups, the stakes are high here: Sistar wants to stay on top and may feel the strain of proving, with every release, that they're elite. AOA is hungry and has been so close to being elite that they're seeing red. But, really, both of these groups are going to win their share of music shows, so fans should be advised to, well, chill. Sistar and AOA are not direct rivals - they're very different in almost every way (except for their love of BUTT). Kpop is big enough for the both of them, and if they have one thing in common it's that neither of these songs are works of art. They're fun, they're light, and perfectly targeted for summer. But let's not pretend that one group is dominating the other with these releases.
Sistar vs. AOA: It's a Draw!
Just over a week ago, the leaked footage of Jessica in "Catch Me If You Can" reopened a wound that hasn't even healed completely. It could be divine providence that we now get the first of three(!) releases that showcase an SNSD as eight, enjoying the summer sun. Okay, let's be honest with ourselves here. This release, besides featuring Kpop's favorite girls, is so, so boring. Even looking at this objectively, as a summer song, it falls flat. We don't even like Sistar's summer songs but they can give SNSD a pointer or two, at least. Yes, this will dominate the charts, but will we even remember this song by the end of the year?
That's not important. SM knows this, you know this. Consider this the appetizer to the two other releases, which seem like they'll be more ambitious attempts at stealing your hearts.
But that still begs the question: Will "Party" be memorable enough, in the meantime, at expelling Alternate Universe SNSD's version of "Catch Me If You Can" from the Kpop consciousness? Looking at the charts, which SNSD has quickly topped and All-Killed, it seems like "Party" can and already has. Even with the public breakup, SNSD has not received T-ara-level backlash. SNSD is untouchable, in any universe. They're an institution. They're money.
SNSD vs. Alternate Universe SNSD: OT8
Girl's Day vs. Expectation(s)
Here's my advice to you, dear reader: Give this song multiple listens. It does get better in time, but no matter how many times you listen to it, "Ring My Bill" is a cluttered mess. The chorus of "Ring ring my bell/Ring my bell," feels so disjointed that it halts the song right when it's picking up momentum. Minah's killer vocals almost bridges to the chorus, but the song just veers into too many directions to be enjoyed with major enthusiasm. Believe me, I've tried. Girl's Day has been one of my favorites. But this song is damaged goods.
Is Girl's Day damaged goods too? Netizen Buzz seems to think so. They've posted multiple articles that target Girl's Day: from accusations of plagiarism, to shorts being too short, to the girls being aloof during an internet show. I'm not linking them here, because linking to internet attack hounds seems counter-intuitive to how I want my Kpop world to be. Netizens are eating this up and being pretty brutal with their comments to these manufactured "issues." Girl's Day is getting big-time hate here. Do you know what that means?
They've made it!
Girl's Day vs. Expectation(s): Every Day, Girl's Day!
(Mamamoo Just Wants to Have Fun)
They've always given stellar live performances, but they're really tearing up the music shows right now, and having more genuine fun at just being there and competing on the charts (hovering in the top ten!), that it will make your cold, wicked Kpop heart warm for summer.
Watch Every Mamamoo Live Performance!
Nine Muses vs. EVERYBODY
And then there's Nine Muses, and, listen, there's a reason that they're the cover image: Their "Hurt Locker' BEATS EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE RELEASES. Not in the charts, no, not even close. But the song? Maybe their best since "Wild," in their fabled and epic 2013. It has the summer energy without the summer cheesiness. In fact, Nine Muses spits in the face of that summer fluff. There's power and emotion in this song that the other girl groups aren't even touching right now. This song is being epic while the other girl groups are tanning on the beach.
The choreography? Move over, butt shakes! Get out of her, leg wobbles! Have you even seen (Nine Muses') Sojin dance? Watch the live performances. You'll be a believer.
This is a killer release and Nine Muses rises above the summer mediocrity with the best girl group song this side of 4Minute's "Crazy." Will it win on the charts? Will it win on a music show? Does Nine Muses ever win?!
Nine Muses vs. EVERYBODY: Nine Muses Never Wins WHY
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.