2012 has thus far appeared to be the year of the boyands: many players in the industry seem to have hordes of young men lined up to debut ths year. But YG Entertainment have decided to go the other way, and debut a new girl group instead. Smart move, YG; I’m liking this strategy.
So far, only one member of this girl group– Superstar K3 contestent Kim Eun-bi–had been revealed, but recently YG uploaded a practice video featuring Eun-bi and another trainee, Euna Kim, performing a cover of Sam Sparro’s hit “Black and Gold.” The embedding for the official video has been disabled, but I recommend visiting the page anyway to see the plethora of comments from YG stans. They’re really open to new things, YG stans, which is good to see.
“Black and Gold ” is an elctro-pop song with a R&B edge to it. It has a smooth, almost jazzy, sound and has been coverd by many a songstress, including Ellie Goulding, Katy Perry and Adele. As far as song choices go, this is a pretty good one for by YG; their new girl group is going to be compared to their last female act, 2NE1, and having the trainees sing a song that is different from 2NE1’s typical sound is a great way to differentiate them from their sunbaes, and give them a bit of their own identity in preparation for their debut. So far, so good; this sounds like a great way to get the group’s name out there and generate some genuine hype surrounding their talents rather than their looks, or flashy wardrobes, or glitzy teasers in fancy sets and finicky camera tricks. Just two girls covering a catchy song in a video uploaded onto YouTube with very little fanfare–isn’t that how Justin Beiber got famous?
It was the perfect plan. Until YG uploaded the video.
Above is a classic example of Perfect-Plan-Poor-Execution. I’ve already detailed the reasons why it was the perfect plan; now for the execution.
YG Entertainment is the “hip hop” label in mainstream K-pop, and I’d figured that, like their previuos idol groups, their new girl group would also feature rappers. But I thought that YG would at least know which songs suit rapping, and which don’t. “Black and Gold,” I feel, falls under the latter category; Euna’s rap didn’t really suit the song, especially considering that the original arrangement was kept largely intact. Also, Euna has that nasally quality to her rapping; was she trained by G-Dragon or something? In fact, that’s something I’ve noticed with other YG artists too–like CL, though with her it’s to a much lesser extent, to the degree that it doesn’t actually bother me as long as I don’t think about it. I honestly think YG should look into that, it looks like it’s becoming kind of endemic over there. Another thing that also got to me was the swag. Swag is also another thing YG specialises in, but again they fail to pick a song that allows them to appropriately display aformentioned swag. “Black and Gold” is about primarily about vulnerability–an emotion not conducive to swaggery. And yet, I see the two trainees bopping to the music, smirking (very slightly, but still) at the camera, and doing them gangsta nods–and it really jarred with the lyrics and mood of the song for me, they just did not go together. And don’t give me the “They don’t know English” excuse: Euna is reportedly Korean American, and she was the main perpertrator. And they’re with YG, too.
That said, the English of both ladies was pretty good (like I said: they’re with YG), as was the singing; I much prefer Euna crooning than rapping, and Eun-bi’s voice was lovely to listen to as well. Unfortunately, most of my attention seemed to be taken up by Euna, and I had to pay force myself to really focus on Eunbi to be able to fully appreciate her singing in the video. This is another reason why you don’t have troll raps: they steal the limelight from other members. And I loved their 90-degree bows at the end as well; it’s this thing I have with YG artists, who are all swag while performing, only to give perfect 90-degree bows at the end. It’s such a dramatic change, and I’m really enjoying this piece of Koreanness that’s sneaked its way into YG’s western packaging.
All in all, these girls seem talented, and maybe even the rapping may be alright if used in the right song–it’s just that “”Black and Gold” isn’t that song for these two YG trainees, and their company, so far, is not off to the best of starts in promoting their newest project. I know that I am perfectly capable of changing my mind about them in the future, but for now Kim Eun-bi and Euna Kim will be known as the girls who almost ruined one of my favourite songs for me.
What are your thoughts on this cover, readers? And have you ever had a favourite song covered badly by a K-pop artist?
(Island Records, YG Entertainment)