By now, everyone has seen the Wonder Girls make their comeback to the k-pop scene, and everyone has an opinion about it. When I initially divulged on the two teasers some weeks back, the outlook was skewed. The two teasers were polar opposites of each other: one was sexy, even a little raunchy–something we’ve never seen the Wonder Girls do, and that was exciting. The other was, well, everything I had feared for: a retro melody and mediocre choreography. Same old Wonder Girls.
When JYP dropped the “Be My Baby” music video, I wanted to crawl under my covers and cry. In fact, it was so boring, I couldn’t even finish the whole thing. I felt cheated–JYP teased us with this invigorating and fresh new look for the Wonder Girls only to throw us all under the bus of failed expectations with typical Wonder Girls material. The song was easily marred as a botched holiday jingle.
With so much hype and anticipation behind the famed Wonder Girls comeback, I really wished JYP spent a little more time coming up with something a little more inventive for the music video, not something that sounds like miss A leftovers crammed together. But, I must say their live performances really made me reconsider my opinion about the song. Perhaps the biggest reason that made me change my mind occurred when I realized that I knew who I was watching perform on stage–and I know that sounds silly, but stay with me.
Groups in K-pop change concepts and images all the time. SNSD just went bad-ass, 2NE1 became a litte girly, Seo In-young has finally gone mature, Tablo is once again on the pop scene. How we identify with K-pop groups will ultimately change as those groups’ images change–if a group fronts with a poor or boring concept, they may lose support or interest from general music fans. Likewise, a stellar image promotion will most likely produce a stellar response and interest levels.
Lets take for example SNSD and their infectious single “Gee.” “Gee” was catchy, it was cute, and the concept for the video was crafty while still representing the girl’s group image well. It just made sense for a group like SNSD. Thus, most of us ended up loving the song even if we hated it at first.
Now look at 2PM.
When 2PM debuted, they were acrobats and bad boys. Over time, however, their image has altered into something I can’t really explain–just some weird shuffle stepping and too much guyliner for me to comfortable with. In short, when 2PM came back with songs like “Heartbeat” and “Without U,” it was hard to flesh out any of that original ‘bad boy’ 2PM. Now their acrobatics are a thing of yesterday.
And that’s why I suddenly appreciate “By My Baby.’ For all the smack I could say about how I had expected so much more, I can still see an original Wonder Girls image in the song and even the rest of the album. Too few groups these days promote a consistent images like these girls do, and that’s something worth throwing a nod to.
The Wonder Girls are not doing something completely different, not trying to be something that is farthest thing from what we know the Wonder Girls to be, but not promoting something entirely the same either. While word is that “Me, In” will be their second promotional song from their album, and it will probably the more enthralling of the two promotions, I think JYP and the Wonder Girls played their cards right by promoting “Be My Baby” first and foremost. It has effectively brought them under the spotlight, good and bad criticism aside, and more than that, has served as a good reminder as to who these girls are in the K-pop industry: the same old Wonder Girls. The girls we’ve always known and loved in the end.