First up we have Spica, a group still relatively unknown despite being in the industry for two years now. With their latest single "I Did It" they are officially making their US debut, a decision that surprised many, including myself. For a group that still hasn't managed to make a name for themselves in their own country, is it really such a good idea to have them promote overseas singing songs in a language they don't understand? Famous crossover attempts include the Wonder Girls and SNSD among many, and those didn't really work out that well to be honest. Both groups have big fanbases, no doubt, but it wasn't enough to make them a mainstream, household name in the US. Little Spica will be awesome at what they do because they just are, but I don't think their debut will fare any better than the other two's.
The song and video however, leaves me conflicted. I really like the song and the message of it, and it seems they are sticking to a similar sound that "You Don't Love Me" had, which was perfect by the way, but it's no instant hit in my book. They did have some pretty famous American producers work on it though, so the song doesn't sound too alienated as some K-pop songs do to people unfamiliar with it. Boa and Bohyung seem to have received the longer end of the stick in terms of number of lines, but considering their vocal skills it's understandable, although all of them can hold a note really well. Overall, it's a nice, sassy tune and the girls sing it with confidence and attitude, so I can't really complain too much here.
I can complain about the video though, because you can really tell their company didn't have much room in the budget for a fancy video the accompany the song. I can imagine they put down a lot of money and effort into making this US debut happen, and I guess there had to be some part of it that wouldn't be as high-quality as the rest. In this case, it's the video. I mean, the members all look fantastic and they are such stars whenever they perform, but nothing in this 4 minute long showcase do them any justice. It looks, quite frankly, cheap and unmotivated. I don't know if they tried to do it in a more "American" way, but it's still fairly underwhelming. I really like the styling though, and Jiwon looks flawless as usual, but it isn't enough to make me want to watch this video more than I have to in order to complete this review.
Making their comeback a mere day after Spica, 2013 rookies Ladies' Code are staying in South Korea making sure no one forgets about their funky, colorful style. I have liked all the songs they have released so far, and this one is no exception. They have sure found their distinct sound and look, and so far it seems to be working for them as they are sticking with it 100%. "Kiss Kiss" is very much what you would expect a Ladies' Code song to sound like, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. Taking in the fact that they're still not that recognized (although I think they have immense potential), it's probably a good thing that they do what they do because that gives them a unique brand they can develop and call their own.
The song is about kissing, and the conflicted feelings that come with having your first kiss and wondering whether you're ready or not to share that experience. While I do think these girls seem a bit too old to be that inexperienced, they sure pull if off well. There seems to be an internal struggle going on, judging by the lyrics, as the girls do want to have their first kiss but are too nervous and worried to actually go through with it. I like that the youngest member Zuny sings about having her "unnies" tell her about the tangling feeling you get, playing the "maknae" card and utilizing the position even in the musical world.
I am crazy about the video though, and I am seriously digging the animated, color-book inspired sets and imagery that contribute to their somewhat unique image. There are elements of comedy in it, exaggerated facial expressions and ridiculous lip-costumes that all come together to create this whimsical fairy-tale of a video. Talking about fairy-tales, there are some hints at well known stories such as "The Frog Prince", "Snow White" and the infamous tale of Wilhelm Tell and how he shot an apple of top of his son's head with a crossbow. There a plenty of meaningful symbolization hidden throughout the video, and while some of it might be distracting there are actually a lot of logical symbols such as the poisonous apples and endless amount of frogs. It appears random at first sight but is actually quite clever if your think about it, and the fictional references add to the dreamlike, cartoon-ish theme. The other bits, such as styling and choreography, are also very well executed as per usual with this group. Both EunB and Sojung are rocking the short haircuts, and while RiSe probably didn't get the most flattering shade of blonde she somehow manages to make it look not too horrible.
Last but not least we have Secret, the first group to come out of TS Entertainment way back in 2009, making them quite the seniors by now. What Secret is mostly known for is their ability, or more like tendency, to switch from mature and sexy to cute and innocent. It's literally one or the other, and that has unfortunately shown not to be so advantageous in the long run. I personally think this group suits a more grown-up style better, considering they're all in their mid-twenties, and that's why I'm so happy about this comeback.
The song is definitely one of their better ones since "Posion" two years ago, which was flawless in every way, and has those familiar brass instrument elements that this group loves to use whenever they do a conept like this. It's not as retro as some of their earlier material, but the influence is still there and I'm actually happy it's not used as much as it could have been because it brings some diversity to their sexier title tracks. I really wish Jieun would have received more lines since she's the main vocal, but instead it's frontwoman Hyosung who gets to shine the most, like she normally does when the choreography involve any kind of body rolls.
The video is not the best, but it's a great effort and pretty solid as a K-pop release. There are your standard sets and props, dance sequences and solo shots of the girls singing their agony while staring seductively into the camera. The lyrics of the song are struggling with a much larger issue than having your first kiss, and the internal battle seems to go on forever without reaching a solution. They are deeply in love, as the title suggests, but are not sure whether their love is right due to the target's bad behavior. They sing about not knowing if it's love or poison, and although he makes them anxious and paralyzed, they are still in love and cannot decide what to do. The members are seen as either white, "the angel" and black, "the devil" as those two personas represent the different sides of the battle going on inside their heads. They are also seen visiting an assumed psychologist to talk about their problems, but at the end we're left with the image of Hyosung both being the counselor and the patient, meaning that it is indeed a mental fight that will be won by either the dark or light side.
Although the concept is simple and the video isn't too complicated either, it still leaves a good aftertaste because of the performances of the members. I do think they are more comfortable doing this type of style, as it allows them to act more like adults and not having to pretend to be teenagers. The styling is fairly basic too, and it's nothing remarkable but looks good nonetheless since they are such beautiful women. For me, Jieun and Sunhwa stood out the most with their styling and acting respectively, but it's no question they all are working what they're given. That goes the same with the choreography, which I also think is basic by all means, but it's such a nice change from the disastrous "I Do I Do" that I don't really care.
All in all, each one of these groups have impressed me in different ways. Spica had, once again, a great song with stunning vocals, Ladies' Code continues their streak with awesome videos and Secret are back to doing what they do best. None of them managed to completely blow me out of the water though because none of them were perfect comebacks by any means, but all of them had their good points.
Which comeback have you been most impressed with so far?