20140107_seoulbeats_girlsday” ______  will be coming back with a never-before seen sexy concept. Please anticipate it.”

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not imagining things. The year of sexy, 2014, was kicked off by Girl’s Day, with their release of “Something.” It seems like Girl’s Day has opened the flood gates as three other groups began their sexy promotions soon after: Dal Shabet with “B.B.B.,” AOA with “Miniskirt,” and Rainbow Blaxx with “Cha Cha.”

Girl groups have always been conveniently categorized as sexy or cute, and a handful have managed to escape these associations by being labeled as ‘fierce’ or ‘hip-hop’. Yet even so, the sudden onslaught of sexiness was unexpected. However, as easy as it is to criticize these groups for switching to the sexy route, it’s important to understand why they have done so.

Having not found widespread success with their cute concepts after two years, Girl’s Day began the transition to sexy with “Expectation” and “Female President”. However, “Something” is their first full foray into ‘sexy,’ and this has made them stand out among the January releases.

20130621_seoulbeats_dalshabetWith the shift from their original concept, Girl’s Day has been seeing an increase in popularity and this mirrors the trajectory of other girl groups who have chosen this path.

Dal Shabet, previously known for their cute and somewhat quirky image, first made the leap to sexy with “Be Ambitious” in mid 2013. Their image change was more dramatic than Girl’s Day as the latter group seems to have eased into ‘sexy’ — Dal Shabet went from cute in “Have, Have Not” straight to the controversial “Be Ambitious.”

This month, Dal Shabet returned with their provocative (albeit a little toned-down) fare, “B.B.B. (Big Baby Baby).” It seems as if being sexy has led to an increase in recognition and it wouldn’t be surprising if Dal Shabet chose to stick with this image for a bit longer.

131027_seoulbeats_aoaThe most drastic change, however, came with AOA’s “Miniskirt.” AOA debuted with a unique group make-up, of being both an idol group and an idol band. Several of the members actively played instruments in their earliest songs and after being relegated to the background, AOA’s band members got a chance to shine with their own sub-unit AOA Black in “Moya.”

Unfortunately, the girls never saw much success and have turned to more revealing stuff, such as “Miniskirt.” What’s sad about this decision is that they came on the scene with talent and a fresh, promising concept, but this has not gained traction in the over-saturated idol market. ‘Sexy’ has become the only way to go.

While AOA has been criticized for their concept and choreography, there’s no denying that “Miniskirt” got their name out and led to more exposure. If only their band concept had been able to do the same.

20140124_seoulbeats_rainbowblaxxLastly is the sub-unit Rainbow Blaxx, from Rainbow, with their song “Cha Cha.” A striking departure from the bigger group’s first sub-unit, Rainbow Pixie, Rainbow Blaxx has aimed to show a different side, and they’ve succeeded — for better or for worse.

Having been stuck in third-tier idoldom, a sexy concept change might have been just what Rainbow Blaxx — and by extension, Rainbow — needed to rise up.

Here at Seoulbeats, we’ve talked about the roles girl groups are often forced into, namely cute or sexy. Unfortunately, a unique concept isn’t enough to make it in the K-pop biz, especially not for women, and groups have had no choice but to switch up their concepts just to scrape by. If there’s one thing this round of comebacks has taught us, it’s that sexy sells.

What do you think about the current trend of comebacks? Do you prefer your girl groups as they were or as they are now?

(Dream Tea Entertainment, Happy Face Entertainment, FNC Entertainment, DSP Media)