Having an eye-catching group name is an integral aspect when breaking into the bleak and competitive realms of K-pop and Bonus Baby definitely hits the bullseye with their ridiculously intriguing name. Hailing from Maroo Entertainment which houses Kim Jong-kook and boy band Supernova, the girl group prides themselves on being one of the youngest girl groups in K-pop, with an average age of 16.6. It was in the nascent days of this year when the girls baby-stepped into the K-pop world with “Urikiri”, also known as “We”, but received a lukewarm reaction. Both song and MV were vastly criticized for being ignoble, but their saccharine-induced comeback track “If I Become An Adult” is worth a listen.
If anyone remembers MyB who debuted in August 2015 and only lasted for a good one year, members Moonhee and Hayoon are back in the game alongside the four other members – Chaehyun, Dayoon, Gaon and maknae Kongyoo.
It’s known that the popularity of an artist and the company’s reputation are correlated. As a product from a small company, Bonus Baby’s debut failed to win substantial commercial success and public recognition, due to insufficient marketing and the dominance of groups like Dreamcatcher and Pristin in the rookie girl group landscape. Hence, it’s not a surprise if you have never heard of Bonus Baby at all.
But I think one thing we can agree on is that their name is downright atrocious, which I find absolutely no amusement in. If the company had thought that the name Bonus Baby would pique the interest of the public, they thought wrong. Yes, to a large extent, it is attention-grabbing but on the other hand, it’s also utterly embarrassing. While it’s understandable that they’re going for that youthful and cheery look and their talents might be a “bonus”, their name doesn’t do them any justice and I honestly wonder how the girls genuinely feel about it. Whether or not their name leaves you amused or dumbfounded, I’d say that their name could possibly snag the award for 2017’s Worst Group Name, if there was such an award.
One quick glance at their concept of their two MVs and you’d be wondering already, “School uniforms, again?” Albeit being done to death by multifarious groups, Bonus Baby has joined the bandwagon of the school uniform concept, bringing nothing new to the table. The school uniform trend remains to be a force to be reckoned with, as we’ve had our fair share of witnessing groups like A Pink, G-Friend and Lovelyz adorned in pretty high school uniforms, highlighting youth and naiveté. Though it’s understandable and almost expected of them to take on such a concept given their age, this direction could also backfire and lead to the downfall of the group, as it might come off as a cringe fest to some.
“If I Become An Adult” isn’t a drastic departure from debut song “Urikiri” – they are still donning the same concept and saccharine-induced sonic sound, but the comeback song is definitely an improved piece, song arrangement and MV-wise. However, I couldn’t help but be reminded of G-Friend and April. While I don’t wish for people to slam Bonus Baby for being an imitation of the two groups as the concept or look isn’t owned by any group in particular, I was already hit by a hankering sense of nostalgia upon the first few seconds into the MV.
A synth-heavy sugary track, “If I Become An Adult” describes the beauty of coming-of-age and the warm tingling sensation from having a crush. It opens with a dramatic, upbeat introduction that has the potential to grow on the listener, especially if one needs some adrenaline boost. Lyrics-wise, it details the worries of an inexperienced girl who has developed romantic feelings for a boy, which are fitting for the young girl group.
No no no no no no no
Appa doesn’t know
No no no no no no no
Oppa too doesn’t know
Everyday everyday everyday, my heart worries
The song is rather catchy, with repetitive phrases and a unified chorus but it’s dripping with familiarity. I feel like I’ve heard a similar melody before and soon, I’m being transported back to the olden K-pop days. The track borders on overly sugary high-pitched vocals and a unison chorus that enhances the group’s well-rounded sound but it might come off as too cliché. Although catchy, it lacks a memorable tune for listeners to be hooked on and can be easily forgotten and labeled as another typical girl group comeback song.
We’ve witnessed the boom of pastel tones in K-pop and the MV for “If I Become An Adult” is your typical pastel color-saturated affair with a soft filter that magnifies the dreamy aesthetic. However, there is a lack of story plot as the scenes merely transit from them dancing, to them playing around in their PJs and then to them smiling daintily in front of the camera. To sum it up, it’s a commonplace low-budget MV.
Nevertheless, the group’s synth-heavy J-pop influence is seemingly becoming a trademark of the group and hopefully, the girls will take it as it is and establish it as their signature sound. One thing that stood out strikingly to me was their fresh energetic choreography, which pleasantly amplified the group’s femininity. Their synchronization and sharpness in their execution have displayed a remarkable strength of the group. However, their dance brings to mind the debut tracks of Girls’ Generation and G-Friend, “Into The New World” and “Glass Bead” respectively. Maybe a powerful choreography is the key to capturing the attentions of netizens.
Bonus Baby’s comeback is not terrible, but understated at the very least. It has a catchy nostaglic tune that will appeal to some and I have to admit that I found myself re-listening to it several times, but it didn’t exactly knock me solid. The fact that they hail from a small company is evident in the song and MV budget. Not to be anal but their MV teaser had a typo which misspelled their name as “BounsBaby”, but I do believe that this mistake, despite being a minor one, is reflective of the company’s professionalism and experience. At least they had quickly re-uploaded the revised version. With their commonplace concept and lack of exposure and marketing from the company, being a clear standout amongst other rookie groups is going to be a challenge.
I don’t have anything against the song but I can foresee myself getting uninterested sooner or later. If Maroo Entertainment hopes to market the girls into the competitive force and make a name for themselves, they need to urgently step up their game (and maybe also change their name, if possible). I’m optimistic about Bonus Baby’s future endeavors and I just hope that this wouldn’t be their first and last comeback, fingers crossed.
What are your two cents about Bonus Baby’s comeback?