Caught in between 2nd and 3rd generation K-pop, debuting in 2011 meant that groups like Apink, B1A4, and Block B are left in an awkward position. These groups are not old enough to consistently be included in discussions about legendary 2nd generation K-pop groups, but hold noticeable differences from 3rd generation K-pop groups. Unfortunately, while the aforementioned groups have managed to stand the test of time and stay together, they are seen more as rare exceptions to a more likely outcome of disbandment.

As such, it is hard not to root for group like Apink. Through their career, the six-membered girl group has build a stable and loyal domestic fanbase and a significant regional fanbase. Even as their peers gradually fizzle out from the industry, Apink have proved their commitment to the group — staying out of trouble, focusing instead on making music and sharing precious memories with their fans.

Musically, Apink can be attributed as one of the pioneers of the “innocent, pure and sweet” concept among K-pop girl groups, due to the success of their past hit singles such as “Luv” and “NoNoNo“. However, as the members slowly approach their 30s, it was only a matter of time before they had a revamp to their image, which came in the form of 2018’s “One & Six”. The group received praise for their successful transition into a sleeker, more age-appropriate concept, and have since set the bar for groups looking to diversify while still retaining semblances of their personal style.

“Dumhdurum” is their grand return to the scene after a one year and four months. Bright, chic, and put together, the song remains largely in line with what we have come to expect from Apink after the irresistible “I’m So Sick” and “Eung Eung”.

While the MV does not have a definite storyline, its striking colour palette parallels “Eung Eung” and makes for an overall enjoyable viewing experience. The MV leaves viewers caught in a world that is distinctively Apink. With bold neons and pastels, “Dumhdurum” retains a sense of modern girliness that represents the identity of Apink — women who have always embraced feminity, even as it presents itself in different forms.

The vocal arrangements of the song play out nicely, with Bomi‘s brighter timbre taking centre stage during the song’s main hook that gives the song its distinctive glow. Conversely, main vocalist Eunji‘s darker timbre provides a balance and a sense of groundedness, and her lines, though spaced out, are striking and memorable. Often not given enough of the limelight is Namjoo, who proves her capabilities as a lead vocalist, taking on the song’s opening and ending, as well as the choruses.

Dressed as posh travellers on a vintage-looking train, the members are surrounded by matching sets and styling that evoke a sense of nostalgia and old school glamour. Yet, everything from the choreography, chorus’ hook, and even the song’s title is reflective of typical modern-day girl group trends. What then sets the MV of “Dumhdurum” apart is the members’ effortless grace and dignity, a maturity that cannot be faked. The true triumph of “Dumhdurum” is thus its harmonious blend of old and new.

With the use of water surfaces, reflections, and light as motifs in the MV, the scenes represent fluidity and vastness that transcends the physical boundaries of the space. Even as they switch between different styles and sets, Apink’s poise gives “Dumhdurum” a trippy sense of calm, even as the song hits its climax.

Female beauty is often linked to youthfulness with an expiry date much earlier than that of men, and girl groups like Apink are part of a powerful message that ageing can be a beautiful, glorious process. While most might say that they have still got it, I would like to argue that they do not. Through “Dumhdurum”, they have proven that they never lost anything to begin with. Instead, their prime is now as they shine brighter and stronger with time.

Along with Brown Eyed Girls‘ recent reunion and SPICA‘s Bohyung and Boa reuniting as vocal duo KEEMBO, the presence of older female artists making a comeback in the music industry is a powerful message worth celebrating. Apink’s success will definitely provide a source of hope and ambition for future girl groups hoping to not only make it past the seven-year curse, but thrive in years to come.

“Dumhdurum” is deservingly dominating the music charts in South Korea, a result which is of little surprise considering how far Apink’s appeal extends out. Along with their already solid fanbase, Apink also has the collective support of older K-pop fans eager to hear releases from one of the last remaining active girl groups of the 2010s. With the track’s trendy sound, Apink is also likely to gain new and younger fans. By turning their position as an awkward middle child debut to be in their favour, “Dumhdurum” allows Apink to get to their destination, and things are looking bright.

(YouTube. Images via Play M Entertainment.)