K-pop is honestly, truly the only tightly choreographed, effervescent escapism getting me through it in 2017: BTS get me through my lifting sessions at the gym, brah. Suzy‘s my melancholy airy crooner accompanying me on late night strolls through the city. Twice supplies the sugary soundtrack to shameless underwear dance parties in my apartment. Really, there’s a whole bunch of different acts are doing it for me right now out of South Korea.
I even made a glorious return to YouTube just to count down some of my favorite releases of February. Actually, I tried to make this very post a video early today, but unbeknownst to me, the camera was out of focus the whole time. Cue crushing depression!
This month, two fairly up-and-coming girl groups from less popular agencies made their comeback at the same time (gasp), resulting in a friendly rivalry forged in the press and on the fan forums. Pitting women against each other is problematic and predictable — so let’s go ahead and do it on this #InternationalWomensDay, anyway.
Just kidding! This is about supporting both acts.
With four former members and one currently on hiatus for health problems, the Brave Girls and their member roster make the Sugababes look like they had their shit together the whole time by comparison. But that’s the magical ephemerality of K-pop: it’s rare that a group goes the distance unaltered. (Protect Girls’ Generation.)
The group made their comeback with their latest mini-album and title track “Rollin’,” complete with a 19+ rated music video. Don’t get your pervy hopes up, all you gay men and teenage girls: aside from some vaguely suggestive skin-baring outfits and butt smacking moves, the music video would probably still pass the Disney Channel standard.
Still, it’s refreshing to see a girl group finally sidestep the cutesy concepts (sorry, Red Velvet) and go for some sexually liberated fun. And the song — infused with the oh-so-trendy “Trop-Pop” sound of the past year, plus an inoffensive-but-no-less-trend-hopping beat breakdown — is an earworm. (“Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’!“) The rest of the mini-album is great too, including their freestyle-infused “Memory” and the #SomethingMoreUrban flow of “No Rush.”
GFriend, on the other hand, is a relatively new 6-piece girl group. Well, maybe not so new in K-pop years: they debuted in 2015, so they’re basically considered senior citizens.
The girls made their own comeback with “Fingertip” from their bubbly fourth mini-album The Awakening, following last year’s studio album full-length debut, LOL. (These goddamn teens these days and their hip text-speak.)
“Fingertip” is a funky, throwback ’80s synth ‘n’ bass-filled blast, bordering somewhere between a cheesy anime opening and a Super Nintendo interpretation of, like, Daft Punk or something. Truthfully, it’s more of a grower — but catchy. (It’s also a bit like the Wonder Girls‘ amazing throwback effort with Reboot.)
The music video, on the other hand, is a visual spectacle — and it makes no fucking sense: from the cutesy weapon battles, to the dream-within-a-dream bubble and butterfly-themed sequences, to the gorgeous intergalactic backdrop-meets-Batman rooftop battle dancing scenes. Something about a dream-within-a-dream (REFERENCE)? Sure! There’s also a really fierce breakdown by a select few members of the troupe which gave me just the slightest tease of BoA-level greatness. The plot might be up for interpretation, but it gets all the points for originality.
There you have it: two girl groups, two comebacks, one industry on the other side of the world churning out a seemingly endless array of enjoyable distractions on a conveyer belt, actively assisting in making my complete and utter media burnout feel just a little less crippling. (I need a vacation toni-i-ight…)