With the announcements Core Contents Media made dealing with the potential member changes of their main group T-ara, the majority of their fans (now officially named QUEENs) were left worrying of the changes up ahead. The majority of the fandom opposed the change, preferring the group, its members, and their image as it is right now. To those fans, I say have no fear. Since T-ara’s new sister group, the Gang Kiz is here, and they’re almost identical musically, stylistically, and conceptually with the current T-ara!

No, but seriously, the extent of the parallels between the group and their seniors T-ara have become a bit worrying. Recently debuting with mini album We Became Gang, the group basically presents itself as a less experienced version of T-ara. The Gang Kiz are dressed similarly, have similar music and music videos, and similarly have seven members. I know it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for idol groups to come up with something original, but basically reusing the concepts and sounds of another group in your label is inexcusable. Not only is it not positively met (just look at BtoB whose main criticism is their similarity to labelmate Beast), but it shows how little effort the company is taking in promoting the group.

With the changes CCM is bringing about to T-ara, it seems as if they created the Gang Kiz just to potentially catch those turned off those turned off by the changes made to their flagship group. And the comparisons between the two groups probably wouldn’t have been pronounced if T-ara’s name wasn’t mentioned as much as it was when it came to debuting this group. The intention of the name dropping was clear; by mentioning how Hyomin helped with styling, how Jiyeon helped direct, and how the whole of T-ara was present during MV filming in Milan, it brings the group attention. But by doing this, it’s making T-ara’s presence around the group all the more blatant. If a spectator wasn’t already comparing the two labelmates, they sure are now.

Even CCM noted the similarities, calling “Honey Honey,” the Gang Kiz’s lead single, “Lovey Dovey” in Europe. And that itself is a pretty accurate analysis. Honestly, the song sounds like a combination of T-ara’s most recent hits, with its hook sounding similar to “Roly-Poly,” its sultriness reminiscent of “Cry Cry,” and its overall structure and lyrical content in vein of “Lovey Dovey.” But what makes this single marginally different from T-ara’s singles is the blatant sensuality presented throughout. The girls, being older, are more able to take on mature concepts and while one shouldn’t overuse this asset (a la Rania), it could have been advantageous for the girls to have went this route instead. Also the euro-pop and trot influences in the song sets this song apart from T-ara’s singles. The influences were very much appreciated and if more blatantly announced, the use of euro-pop could have actually justified the trip to Milan. However, a little criticism is that the combined use of funky euro-pop and trot makes the song sound stuffy at some points. Also, the way the girls’ voices merged into seemingly one voice was off-putting, but it seems like all of CCM’s groups besides Davichi are prone to this, so it’s overlooked for now. Overall, while similar in structure to their seniors, “Honey Honey” is a presentable single, severely catchy and sexy in its own way, and fitting enough for the Gang Kiz.

While the song itself was redeemable despite the similarity to their seniors through its euro-pop influences and sexy vibes, the MV, however, wasn’t. The first of seven versions, the first MV featured the Gang Kiz, portrayed as a group of misfits with troubled pasts, in a road trip and all the hi-jinx that ensue. First of all, seven different MVs of the same song is way too much. It doesn’t really show ambition; instead it really just shows excess. I struggle to even imagine what material they’d film to create seven music videos, especially considering how little sense the first one made. And second of all, it’s become almost a trademark for CCM to release mini-dramas as music videos, and while it’s appreciated that they’re going out of the box, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. The plots of these mini-dramas either have obvious plot-holes and often turn melodramatic in an instant. Suffice to say, this MV made little sense at all, to the point the “plot” really distracted viewers from the real intention: the song.

There were a lot of problems in this MV, the main ones being its lack of sense and its severe mood whiplashes. The song starts very dark and angsty using solo scenes of each member over a voice over saying things not really relevant to the music video. There was an abundance of scissors, tears, dramatic running, and clothing removals, and each scenario ended with the sound of gunshot before the group’s logo appeared. While some parts of this montage like part was cheesy and not completely put together, it was actually a really well thought out move as it gives you a somewhat proper introduction to each member. Some of the scenes really were well acted, and the visuals of the city and the way it was filmed was great.

The intro hinted at a serious, mature MV that, while prone to being melodramatic and unfitting for the chipper song, would have at least been bearable and fitting for the group’s tough image. While the MV did become melodramatic, it was not at all serious or that mature. Instead right after the intro, after showing how the girls gather together (via hitchhiking through the same van), we are treated with a montage of the girls eating, having food fights, playing pool, and basically just partying. This presented a huge mood change that basically eliminated all the seriousness set up with the intro.

After this useless cut that provided nothing more than fanservice, the MV decides to move on with the plot with one of the girls, Hae-in, finding a gun in another girl’s luggage. A moment passes where she suspects the other members before she gets interrupted by another girl. The song cuts as we are shown a scene with the group stops at a gas station. When one of the girls, Hye-ji, steps away from the group presumably to go to the restroom, she gets harassed by three men. Before anything bad can happen, another one of the other girls, Ji-hyun, threaten the men with her pistol before telling the other girls to drive off. The moment when she tells the girls to go and the music picks up again was a really effective one, probably the only serious scene where the music actually fit what was going on. It helped create a climax for the music video even when the song itself didn’t have a clear climax.

From there, we are treated to even more fanservice as we are taken to a motel where the girls are shown sleeping on top of one another. While the other girls were asleep, Hye-ji attempts to steal the gun secretly, unaware that one of the other girls saw the whole spectacle. The next day, Hye-ji is seen pointing the gun at, by the looks of it, an ex-boyfriend. Before she can though, the rest of the “gang” show up with water guns, splashing him with them and leaving him soaked rather than dead. But wait, it gets better. Ji-hyun, with the gun under her possession again, points the gun at the girls with no reason behind it at all. It looks like she’s about to fire, but she then reveals the gun was fake the entire time, ruining any tension built with all the previous scenes. Cut to another montage of shopping, a game of tag, and fun at the snow, and there you have the Gang Kiz first MV.

There was no choreography in this video, but from we received in the rehearsal videos, the dance is sexy and alluring, much like the song, so at least that’s good. It’s nothing new that other groups haven’t done before, but at least sexy and mature fits with Gang Kiz.

Overall, it seemed like the whole MV struggled to choose whether to make the video serious and dramatic, or to fill it with lighthearted moments to showcase the girls’ appealing sides, and ended up doing both, to an unbalanced result. The lighthearted scenes ended up cancelling the serious scenes and the serious scenes made the happier scenes look useless in comparison. And other than that, there were not enough cues in the music video to make the plot of the MV make much sense or have much meaning. The scenes as they are and not put together were actually handled well; Europe looked amazing and engaging and the girls, some fairly experienced actresses already, were able to sell them pretty effectively. But the changing of the moods honestly made the entire video and the Gang Kiz themselves hard to take seriously. And that’s definitely sad and discouraging with six more versions of this on the way.

The definition of the world detour is as follows:

de·tour noun \ˈdē-ˌtu̇r also di-ˈtu̇r\
a deviation from a direct course or the usual procedure; especially : a roundabout way temporarily replacing part of a route

And a detour is the best way I can describe Gang Kiz debut with “Honey Honey.” Their debut just a drawn-out, roundabout way of gaining attention, a different albeit unnecessary deviation from the usual procedure. While the release of seven MVs at the start may sound prestigious and nice, whether they can pull it off would be the real cause of praise. And judging from their first attempt, it looks like that won’t be the case. The girls probably would have achieved the same payoff and not as much backlash if they released one MV and debuted the orthodox way instead, but I applaud them for trying to stand out in the vast ocean K-pop has become. Putting the comparisons with T-ara aside, the Gang Kiz really could have potential to shine. If they only find an image of their own and utilize their skills and age a bit more, then they really could be something.

But for now, their MV, while having some decent individual scenes, deserves a lackluster 2/5 due to the lack of coherence and the unreasonable mood changes. What do you think, Seoulmates? Did the Gang Kiz start off with a wrong turn, or are they heading to the right path, the path of relevancy? Leave your thoughts below!

(Core Contents Media, GM Contents Media, Merriam-Webster, T7Queens)