This Week in Kpop: February 14-20, 2016

NU'EST Overcome

This Week in Kpop is all about the comebacks. NU'EST and Rainbow are back, but so are groups like Double S 301 (formally 501)! But just when you think everything old is new again, there's a new rookie group that you should be paying attention to. With that in mind, let's get started already!

NU'EST Overcomes

NU'EST came back this week and brought in the smooth and the sexy, and we're not just talking about Ren's lush long hair here. While we'd just be happy to see NU'EST having a comeback with Pledis Entertainment's financial woes, "Overcome" is actually a quality jam, reminiscent of their most popular song, "Face" even.

It's a welcome turn away from their more quasi-ballad, "I'm Bad," which failed to generate much interest, if any. 

Perhaps they went too far into ballad territory? NU'EST seems to work best in the realm of pop jams that have a more adult sexiness at their core, a serious, almost melodramatic flair that feels more like traditional Kpop with a hint of R&B at a time when hip hop has taken a hold of most boy groups. On the other end of that spectrum? Groups like Pledis Entertainment's very own Seventeen (of which we adore), a young, cheery group that really compliments the more mature and forlorn NU'EST.

Which is to say, while NU'EST's "Overcome" doesn't really break any new ground here, it's of note because it's holding ground. With returning to form, NU'EST doesn't have to reinvent the wheel, they just have to remind Kpop fans why that wheel was so wonderful to being with. Does this song remind you, netizen? Is NU'EST's "Overcome" the next step in Pledis Entertainment's rehabilitation?

Rainbow's Return

Speaking of holding ground, Rainbow came back this week with their quirky, 80's and, really, 90's inspired "Whoo." And like NU'EST, we're just happy to see them. They're one of our favorite girl groups and we've been charmed with their underdog status for years. Some groups are built on being perennially overlooked, and we were simply satisfied with bemoaning Rainbow's status under the shadow of the behemoth that was Kara, the flagship group of DSP.

But what happens when the flagship falls?

Well, it weighs down singles like "Whoo" with an amplified importance, one that shouldn't warrant, and this is no slur, a mid-level release. Because at this point of their career, it's a lot to ask Rainbow to suddenly take the reins of an agency that has treated them like the second tier for years now. They could do a dramatic reinvention, but how far could that take them with groups like Twice, G-Friend, and Red Velvet growing more popular everyday?

With that being said, "Whoo" is a good, fun release. It's fine. The women of Rainbow have never looked better. Woori is one of our favorite Kpop girl rappers and Jisook is adorables. The group is sexy without relying on provocative butt dances and have the charisma to carry what is essentially a GAP commercial (we've seen this comparison on various forums, credit goes to the Internet). But will this release push Rainbow to the top and save DSP?

No. But DSP should have planned for this contingency years ago, and instead they treated Rainbow like they didn't matter.

Brave Girls' Debut

Brave Girls debuted this week, and the rookie group impressed us with their sophisticated song, confident poise, and really strong concept for this music video. We'll learn more about this group soon, but they're now on our radar, and they should be on yours too, friends.

How to Build a Kpop Girl Group 

We welcomed Kushal Dev back this week, as he poses the question: What makes a girl group stand out? Wouldn't you like to know the answer? Check out his latest article here!

Critical Kpop Podcast - Episode 25: Fan Club Names Got Us Like "I'm So Pain"

It's time for another episode of the Critical Kpop Podcast! This week, Zander, Sarah, and Tim stress over new and old fan club names alike, and take a look at new releases from the likes of AOA Cream, Mamamoo, G.Soul, and the returning Rainbow and Double S 301! Listen harder, friends, but also listen here!

February 14-20, 2016

And that was This Week in Kpop! We had a lot of returning groups this week, and we're excited for what's coming around the corner (TAEMIN). Whatever does come around the corner, we'll be here to talk about it. Until then, have fun and be safe!


  1. Brave Girls aren't technically rookies though. They debuted in 2011 with their old lineup of five members, but Brave Ent. didn't manage them very well so they faded into obscurity. They were on a hiatus since 2012, at some point three of the original members left to pursue other things and Brave Ent. announced this year that they were making a comeback as a seven member group. I think this member change will work out better for them like it has for Girls Day and EXID. The original two members have taken charge and they're getting more attention now than previously. Not to mention that their company finally made an MV for them higher than 360p. Good luck to them.

  2. Idea for Critical Kpop article: K-con arrives in Abu Dhabi for the first time and the exploration of interest in Kpop in the Middle East. It was fascinating to read John Seabrook's article 'Factory Girls' about K-con in LA a few years back, it would be great to have someone explore the idea of K-cons in other parts of the world.


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