May 4, 2015

Bring The Girls Out!: A "The Ark" and "Oh My Girl" Debut Post

The year of girl group debuts continues on, and so far I've been delighted by all of the next generation's idol groups. It all started back in 2014 with the debut of Mamamoo, Red Velvet and Lovelyz, but has escalated quickly the first half of 2015 with new groups such as GFriend and CLC debuting. I never thought I would be this invested in rookie groups, and I probably wouldn't have either if all of them weren't so instantly appealing. The Ark and Oh My Girl are two new groups that come with different styles and concepts, but has both caught my eye with their impressive skills.

The video for The Ark's debut single "The Light" was released on April 9, which means I am almost a month late with this review. I waited however because I wanted to make a joint debut post and talk about both this group and Oh My Girl, since their debuts have quite different approaches. I initially knew very little about this group in particular, but I've managed to gather some information about them. Euna Kim, the rapper of the group, was a former YG trainee but jumped ship not too long ago after never getting to debut, and a majority of the other members have been contestants on reality singing competitions. Having that kind of experience surely must be an advantage not only in getting your name out there but also in a performance aspect.

The Ark consists of 5 members and are seemingly taking a more mature approach with their debut, rocking simplistic clothing in black and white with more masculine fittings. I do find it quite rare for a girl group to have this kind of image, and for that reason alone I liked them already when I saw the elegant teasers. Their music, too, certainly has its own style and sound, and one that at least I find don't occur very often with commercially promoted girl groups. The tempo is kind of medium paced and the overall impression of it is more contemporary pop and R&B, which I find refreshing and intriguing. The singing is matched by great rapping portions from Euna and maknae Jane, and the melody is simple but very memorable. Overall, it's a good song. The video however, is on an entirely different level of good.

Taking a different route than most new rookie groups, The Ark chooses to go with a plot-based video revolving entirely around the story of a woman and her young daughter, played by member Halla, and featuring no group shots or dancing sequences whatsoever. No other members even appear in the video and the choreography, which by the way is amazing, is not included at all. I don't know yet if I think it's a good strategy or not, but I guess time will tell.

The story focuses on the relationship between a mother and her daughter, and I won't spoil too much of it but it's a sad story with a sad ending, beautifully shot and captured of course. Everything about it is gorgeous, and the way the progression of the plot matches the dynamics of the song is breathtakingly moving. I will however not watch it on repeat, but that's mainly because my tear ducks would dry out quite quickly due to the never-ending stream of tears.

Apart from the high-quality video and song, this group is bursting with talent. Admittedly I do sometimes like groups that rely more on looks, concepts and catchy tunes rather than genuine musical talent, but I can't look away from the fact that these five young ladies are good at what they do. Not only is both the rapping and singing on point but the dancing. Jesus Christ. Watch the performance above, as well as their dance covers of boy group choreographies, and you'll see just how high the performance level is and how natural they are on stage. Sure that girl group rookies have been impressive lately, but The Ark raised the bar by like a million with their professional skills.

Song: 4/5
Video: 3,7/5

"Cupid" was released exactly 10 days later on April 19, and is being sung by the first girl group to come out of WM Entertainment, the same company that built and created B1A4. Considering B1A4's debut concept, which was also quite cute and quirky, it's not so strange that WM would want to follow up with a similar female version. Oh My Girl has been releasing teasers on and off for quite some time so to finally see them debut was definitely exciting, and so far I have not been disappointed.

After last year's invasion of sexy concepts for girl groups, a counter-reaction came quite quickly in the form of this year's girl group debuts. Cute and sweet is, once again, the concept to strive towards, and I'm not particularly sad about that. Oh My Girl's title track "Cupid" is on the contrary much more of a spunky song than what you might had anticipated, considering the track is build on marching-band drum beats and trumpet tones. The melody and drive is surprisingly pleasant and indulging, and although they're playing it cute and innocent the song is still interesting and up-tempo enough to take away some of that sticky sweetness.

The lyrics of the song are about a girl's feelings towards her love interest, and about how she's going to shoot Cupid's arrow of love in order to receive that special attention. In the video the girls themselves are dressed up as Cupid, rocking fluffy wings and shooting arrows from equally fluffy bows. I'm not going to lie and say I didn't kind of love the video because I'm weak for cute girls dancing synchronized (see GFriend), but objectively this isn't as much of a good video as "The Light". Yet it's not supposed to be either so you can't really compare them. This is more your standard K-pop video, a bit safe but still enjoyable, and there are actually many positives with this one too.

I enjoy the silliness of the story-line, the flower crowns and the pastel colors, and although the styling might be a bit questionable the overall impression of the video is still a good one. The choreography isn't amazing but it has its charming points and the members are all adorable. A few of them actually have similar features to other celebrities, such as Seunghee looking a bit like a younger IU and Hyojung resembling actress Go Ara when she smiles. Their love performances so far have also been highly enjoyable and fun to watch, but in a different way than with The Ark. Oh My Girl are still fresh and inexperienced and you can tell, but it also means that there's plenty of room for them to grow and mature. Looking at big brothers B1A4's glorious journey to stardom assures me that they'll be fine, as long as they keep on getting good songs and marketing.

Song: 3,8/5
Video: 3,6/5

So where does this leave me then? Well, it can be concluded that while The Ark's debut was of better execution and quality I don't actually like them better than Oh My Girl. Since both groups are as different as they are and are targeted towards audiences there's isn't much use comparing them. The Ark provides great, modern pop music and Oh My Girl caters to my girl group loving heart with their charms and energy. I think, and hope, that we will see much more of both of these groups in the future because they're both off to a great start.

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