10 years ago, Girl’s Day made their debut with “Tilt My Head”. Their early years saw them struggle with uneven sales, concept changes, and multiple member departures. Then, in 2013, they broke through with “Expectation”. This move cemented their sexier image, along with their follow-ups “Something” and “Ring My Bell”. Their greater discography, however, emphasises that their true niche as performers is sultry. Their b-sides, as demonstrated here, encompass class and maturity, as well as an impressive variety of genres.
The first hint at this side of Girl’s Day came on their debut EP, Girl’s Day Party #1. “Control” married a dark club beat to languid, cooing vocals. It creates a perpetual mismatch in energy that keeps the song from fully settling into place- the thudding beats drive you to move as the drawn-out notes push you to sit. The up and down keeps the audience’s mind focused Girl’s Day, which is the goal. “Control” is a prime example of seduction by invitation. Girl’s Day, rather than make a move directly, offer themselves up and simply wait for their prey to come to them. It is a subtle way to pull strings; playing with the idea that the person on top is the person in control.
Their aptitude for sultriness truly came into being on a ballad from Expectation, their first full-length album. “I Don’t Mind” is gorgeous, pure and simple. A basic drum and guitar track, but the instrumentation, warm though it is, is rightly placed in the back of the mix. The emphasis is rightly placed on the incredible vocal performance. Sojin gets the most focus, but each member is given a chance to shine. The real standouts, though, are the harmonies. All four voices meld into a lush soundscape that practically melts the outside world away. A simple track that embodies the feeling of just being happy being with someone, “I Don’t Mind” is a knockout.
“Whistle”, off of Girl’s Day Everyday #3, sees Girl’s Day take the aggressive role for the first time. The chipper whistle and more upbeat guitar lines turn more sinister as the track goes on, mirroring the disillusionment felt by the ladies. They’re lonely and frustrated that their repeated searches for a lasting relationship keep turning up scrubs who stop putting in effort the instant things become serious. Minah’s quiet yet potent rage gives “Whistle” it’s teeth, as they plead for someone who will actually act like they care. Then there’s the staccato drum beats and string flourishes, which when played against the sheer desperation Girl’s Day exudes, implies they will keep pursuing any and every guy they see, just hoping to find one that sticks.
The opening track from their second album, “With Me”, takes its cues from the tango. Strings, piano, and an accordion all blend into a fiery, driven song that encapsulates the back and forth of the tango, trapping the listener in a dizzying whirl as Girl’s Day plead for their relationship as their lover tries to leave — not just a tango, but the masochism tango. Their relationship is not working out, both parties are miserable, yet they refuse to let their partner leave. Yura’s rap reminisces on better times, but the overall tone is one of jealousy and lust creating a very passionate relationship; one where it is less that they do not want to lose a lover than they do not want to lose, period. The end result is that “With Me” is dramatic, over-the-top, and just a little sad for everyone involved.
Also from Love is “Macaron”, which sees Girl’s Day trade the Argentinian influence for French. “Macaron” is jazzy, bluesy, and seedy; the kind of song you’d hear in a speakeasy or Parisian nightclub. Opening with a terrifically drawn-out horn riff, the groove is an infectious big band throwback, laden with brass, double bass, and vocals that straddle the line between saccharin and seductive. Girl’s Day gives a deliberately honeyed performance; sweet on the surface, but with just enough playfulness and bite to let the double entendres hit. “Macaron” is the femme fatale playing coy and giving just enough plausible deniability that all they want to do with you is dance.
Rounding out the list is “Thirsty” from Girl’s Day Everyday 5. “Thirsty” also features a lust-driven relationship fizzling out, but rather than start clinging, they approach it with more self-awareness. They know this relationship is draining on both of them and going nowhere fast, referring to the toll taken as them drying out. Yet the repeated use of “thirsty” against the suggestive tropical house beat implies that they are not willing to let the physical aspect go yet. Sojin’s breathy pleading for touch is juxtaposed against Minah’s indignancy and assuredness that he needs her just as much, crafting an image of a fractured bond that is crumbling around both partners, held together by sex and duck tape, and they just ran out of duck tape.
Girl’s Day was a truly underrated group. They had interesting songs, powerful vocals, good stage presence, and were not afraid to take chances. Their discography shows them at their best: confident women who are in control of their sexuality, desires, and anyone who hears them.
(Image via Dream Tea Entertainment, YouTube)