Happy Friday!  We have been tossing around the idea of having a roundtable segment at Soulbeats for some time now and it’s finally here to help you get an early start on your weekend.

This week’s topic: Are you looking forward to cutesy or sexy girl group comeback of the fall/winter?

Ree: Honestly both tend to be done in such an overbearing manner it kind of turns me off either way. To be honest I like the “cute” concept more, but I like the music produced when girl groups decide to go for the “sexy” concept, since the song quality tends to be better.  I like it when girl groups go for classy and feminine over everything else. Or when they’re just acting like ‘girls’ with no strings attached. Like KARA before they hit the big time.

Jean: I’ll have to agree and say that neither concept really appeals to me. If I absolutely had to choose, it’d be the “sexy” concept, but that’s only because I like After School Red a little more than After School Blue. If it has to be sexy though, the group or solo artist should adopt a subtler image, such as G.NA’s Banana or Hyori’s U Go Girl look. (I consider “over-the-top” to be something like RaNia’s debut or Hyuna’s Bubble Pop!. Then again, everyone’s judgement can vary.)

I also like a more edgy, flashy type, like 2NE1, or a subdued hip-hop image like BoA’s Eat You Up era. A classy, feminine concept is also very appealing. Something gentle and age appropriate, like IU’s brand, works for me as well. KARA’s debut is great too – it has that casual hip-hop image I previously mentioned.

Megan: Definitely gotta agree with Jean, I want to see something flashy and fierce. Fashion forward and full of attitude! If you made me choose, those, then I’d choose the sexy look. It’s great to blast when no one’s at home and dance around in your baggy pajama sweatpants, and pretend you look good to boost your ego. Cute is just not that fun.

Young-Ji: I have absolutely have no preference as long as they don’t overdo it.  Here’s a though – how about introducing a new concept to the mix. I know that Tasha is the only real hip hop artist coming back, but would love to mature hip hop concepts as well as some crazy – Lady Gaga-eque – theme in the hot pot. I think what would make it boring is a simple battle between cute and sexy. There are so many colors of the rainbow, yet K-pop turns to the two extremes.

I agree that sexy songs are easier to dance to, but cutesy songs are easier to sing to at noraebangs.

Quynh: I definitely go for the sexy look more. I like fierce, scandalous, and in your face, make me uncomfortable and blow me away with all that confidence you have. Sexy is edgier, darker, and even a bit classier. Cute is like getting a fluffy white kitten while sexy is getting a lion roaring at you (if this analogy makes any sense). Plus cute is just too quiet, too “oh look you’re a girl who can wink at me” while sexy is “MY GOD WOMAN YOU ARE GORGEOUS AND YOU KNOW WHAT YOU GOT.”  But sexy done wrong, especially when young girls try to be sexy, such as GP Basic, is just a disaster.

But then again, the cute songs are the ones that stick in my head even when I don’t want them to.

Ree: who doesn’t love fluffy white kittens!  I feel so alone on the cute bandwagon.  Not that I don’t like some sexy every now and then- but I’ve never been too pet peeved by cute. At least when it’s done right and it’s genuinely cute for the sake of being cute. Not cute for the sake of (blatantly) luring sketchy 50 year old men. Cute has always just been a pretty Asian thing- kawaiification is never going to go away, so I’m just used to it. Cute stationary, cute anime girls, cute songs. I mean- I actually liked Gee (sort of).

That being said, cute is pretty out dated at the moment though. So I doubt any of the girl groups are going to go for cute. Unless its Girls Day– who are tragedies for several reasons anyways.

But sexy is good when done right- but it’s harder to get sexy done right than it is to get cute done right. I’m like one of the few who wasn’t blown away by RaNia. ONE OF THE GIRLS WAS A 94er! What is that! But subtle sexuality can be really great- like missA’s debut. Though that was more… normal than sexy. The girls are just pretty hot without trying, I guess.

Amy: But I feel that being “cute” in Asia has a ton of loaded meaning though — they’re cute because they’re doing so for the male gaze. They’re made to look and act more youthful than they actually are, in order to preserve an image of virginity and purity. I do think you can find girl group concepts that are cute without being sketchy, but it’s already so inherently built that you also sort of can’t find cute without the sketch somewhere.

Ree: To be honest, maybe it’s just me, no matter what girls do there’s always going to be that reliance on capturing the male’s attention. Even with sexy- it may be fierce and confident. But it’s still sexy- and it gives just as much to the guys as it does for us. I think with cute the reason it’s seen with such a cut eye is because it generally makes it seem like girls are all submissive and whatnot- and it makes sense. I mean look at the sheer amount of timid anime girls with large eyes, pinked cheeks, and emphasized bust. But the thing is cute doesn’t necessarily have to mean “Oppa, oppa, I love you”.

KARA’s Wanna was cute- but it was the girly sort of cute. Not the submissive kind of cute. I think there’s a difference between the cute that appeals to girls, and the cute that appeals to guys. I mean comparing two of SNSD’s cute songs ‘Kissing You’ and ‘Oh!’. They’re both cute- but not the same kind. The only thing they really have in common is the broad umbrella term ‘cute’. And the fact both songs suck.

Phouc: I’ll agree with Young Ji and say neither, but my thought is that I think there’s always an eventual amalgamation between the two as girl groups progress, whether it’s through the choreography and outfits and whatnot. Either that or girl groups will transition from one type to the next within months, really. I just wish that they bring back the concept of boyish chic that was becoming a little popular around 2008-09? The appeal of both gender was really interesting, especially when I initially saw the concept in 2NE1 and f(x)’s debut. Unfortunately, that didn’t last – 2NE1 is bordering on hip-hop/rock while SM is pushing f(x) towards the cutesy/sexy look.

This is strange, but if we were to turn this question and ask about male groups, is it wrong that I wouldn’t mind seeing them cutesy? I’m getting a little tired of all the ab-flashing and as long as they don’t overdo it with the animal suits or aegyo, I’m a happy camper.

Quynh: I second Phuoc’s idea about male groups’ aegyo. The dark, brooding, tortured, “I want you but I can’t have you”, and the abundant abs get old quickly and with so many groups using the same idea, I can’t wait until one of my favorite groups come back with a cutesy concept. As much as I love Shinee’s Lucifer or Beast’s Soom, I enjoyed “Hello” and “Beautiful” much much more. I like seeing them smile and not have to worry so much about the choreography though I understand it’s part of the package. Plus when they’re acting cute, it’s easier to imagine that they’re singing to me.

Patricia: After seeing the freakfest that was Boyfriend’s debut, I’m not sure if I ever want to see another boygroup do ‘cute’ ever again.

Here’s an idea: what about a concept where the girls are allowed to act their age? I’m getting a little tired of seeing women in their twenties act as if they’re six, and conversely, I’m completely uncomfortable with seeing girls barely out of middle school wearing mini skirts while humping the floor. If you’re going to go for a ‘sexy’ concept, at least make sure that the performers in question are actually old enough to own their sexuality, no?

It’s funny, because it seems to me that girl groups in particular seem to be limited to being either cute or sexy, whereas boy group concepts are usually more multifaceted – or, at the least, they seem to be a lot more complex than just ‘cute’ or just ‘sexy’. What do you guys think about that?

Quynh: Boy groups certainly do have a lot more freedom and choices because honestly no matter what they do their fan girls think it’s cute or hot and buy that shiz up. As for girl groups, they have two choices: either wink their way into the fans heart or drive their fans hot and wild. It’s quite demeaning actually to think that people only see these girls as cute or sex toys. But they gotta do what sell right?

Subi: How about they just do whatever they want, as long as it comes from the heart? You can be cute, you can be sexy, you can be whatever you want to be, as long as it’s coming from some place real. I’m so sick of seeing and hearing girl groups do something they’re not personally into. It always shows and it always comes off as fake and eventually, annoying. So cute, sexy–I honestly, don’t care. If you’re going to do it, do it for real. Don’t try to force a snarl and call it bad ass and don’t try to force a smile and call it sugary cuteness. Because we can tell. We can tell and even though we’ll play it on iTunes a bazillion times and we’ll rack up the views on YouTube, we won’t like it.

What do you think about cutesy vs. sexy girl group comebacks?