Oct 5, 2015

Two More "Little Sister" Groups Debut In The Form Of April & Dia

The K-pop market is as of now very populated. There are a ridiculous amount of groups and new ones are debuting what feels like every other day. Naturally this means that it's difficult for companies to get the names of their groups out there, especially ones that are less well known. However recently a new phenomenon has arisen, because with so many new girl groups debuting these last two years some of them have been referred to as "little sister groups". This means they're debuting with a company already housing one or several other semi-popular groups and are using their names to get the new groups publicity. It happened with Lovelyz, Oh My Girl and Sonamoo, and now there are two more. Meet April, Kara's little sisters, and Dia, T-ara's younger siblings.

April is as mentioned from the same company that manages Kara, Rainbow and boy group A-Jax; DSP Media. It's been a few years since they debuted a new group, and quite honestly I feel a bit torn about it. Apart from Kara the other two existing groups, especially A-Jax, are severely mismanaged and have yet to reach any kind of significant popularity. Maybe April is their chance of earning more money to help the other groups as well, but I definitely think they should be focusing on their existing ones more than they do currently. Anyhow, this new girl group released their debut single and MV "Dream Candy" on August 23 this summer, and they've debuted with a very specific concept.

In "Dream Candy" the girls sing about wanting the viewer to come with them into the land of stories, as they dream of travelling and escaping into a different world. The song is literally as sweet as candy, as it's very light-hearted, cute and harmless. A bit bland, you might say, but it's well-suited for the concept and their image as young, naive girls. We've seen other girl groups debut with this kind of fresh, cute and innocent concept in recent time (Lovelyz and GFriend for example), but neither of them are quite as over-the-top as April. It certainly helps that they have an average age of 16,5 and that they have two members born in 2000 or later, because watching this video does feel like watching a group of children. The fact that the video revolves around folk tales and children's stories, such as the little red riding hood isn't doing anything to imply they are anything else but pre-teens either.

The video is cute and has beautiful aesthetics, I can give it that, but it's also fairly predictable. The color palette, the high brightness and saturation as well as the white faded finish are all effects we've seen before this year, and thus the video doesn't particularly stand out much. Although some of the set designs are quite lovely and the camerawork and editing are a step above average, I can't bring myself to fully enjoy and appreciate this video for what it is. Maybe it's the girls' young ages, or more so the fact that they're being infantilized even further and that it's just not comfortable for me to watch. The costumes they're wearing aren't making it any better either, as the dresses they're wearing look like they come straight out of a six-year old girl's closet.

As a whole I think that the video does have it's charm and that the girls look cute and adorable, and the production value is pretty impressive as well. You can tell that DSP need for this group to do well because while the concept isn't for me personally it's very well-executed. There are many visual highlights and pretty sets, and the song is decent enough too, but it's just too juvenile and naive for me to enjoy wholeheartedly.

Half of the members are so young and DSP has taken great advantage of that in creating this group's image which unlike many other groups with similar concept does feel like that of a little sister. Maybe in the future I will get to like them more but up until then I'll have to say pass on this one, and it breaks my heart because Somin is in it, and she was my favorite in Baby Kara. Well, I guess some things just aren't meant to be, at least not yet.

Song: 2,75/5
Video: 3/5


A couple of weeks later the other "little sister" group debuted, and in the form of DIA, which is an acronym for "Do It Amazing". Flawless English, I know. The company behind the group is MBK Entertainment, who are known for screwing up their groups. T-ara was their flagship group until their scandal three years ago, and they also manage a couple of other groups that are even more unknown. Like with DSP this is probably MBK's chance to redeem themselves, and thus the seven-member girl group DIA was formed. Their debut MV for "Somehow" was released September 14, and unfortunately I can see many problems with this debut already.

First off, the song. "Somehow" is made by Shinsadong Tiger, who is known for composing hits for many groups; A Pink for example. Yes, I know you can hear it too. This song is a complete A Pink rehash, and it's a bit strange to me that they'd actually want their debut track to have the sound that another group already has built their entire career on. This definitely calls for comparisons, which are completely justified, and is not really the greatest way to introduce a new group. It doesn't exactly help that the song is pretty bland and generic as well, and I in no way can create myself an idea of what this group stands for musically. It makes them lack a specific individuality and identity.

On the other hand the rest of this debut is nothing like A Pink, as the groups are fairly different in terms of styling and branding. While the sound of the song is the same, the rest isn't similar at all. Because of this I get confused, since I'm used to hearing this song and seeing a certain aesthetic which certainly isn't the one DIA is presenting in this MV.

They are styled less feminine and sweet, and have more of a modern street vibe with high socks, sneakers and caps. The choreography is also not what I would have expected, at least parts of it. Some sequences do look quite cutesy, which then clashes with their outfits, whereas others are sexier but looks strange because of the song's sound. In other words, there are a lot of areas within this debut that aren't working very well together and the result is kind of confusing. I personally don't quite know where to place them because of the disjointedness.

Additionally the video is pretty horrible, to be honest. When I first watched it I was stunned because of the cheapness of it, and I feel like MBK could have done so much more to use it as a way to actually create an identity for the group. From the looks of it it was shot in Hong Kong, which is no surprise considering MBK's relative success there with T-ara (probably they're trying to do the same with DIA), and the entire MV consists of the groups running around on the streets of the city. They explore it via bus, train and foot, and finish it off with a good old pool party. Quite honestly it was hard to tell whether this was an actual music video or an advertisement for Hong Kong, because it could definitely be the latter as well.

DIA Releases MV Teaser for Debut Song “Somehow”
While I might not have liked April's young and childlike concept and MV, this one is not much better despite the concept being (at least aesthetically) easier for me to like. After watching this I still have no idea as of what kind of a group they are and what their specific brand is, and the video isn't helping at all either. It was shot very cheaply and the result is a low-budget, uninspiring video that doesn't make me interested in this group in any way. The girls themselves are pretty, yes, but there's not much going on in the vocal department and the rapping was quite frankly horrible. They surely have a long way to go if they want to get on the same level as their "older sisters".

Song: 1/5
Video: 2/5

My conclusion of listening to the debut material of these groups is that neither of them are of any interest to me right now. I can see myself getting into April more in the future, when they've grown up a bit, but I'm not so sure about DIA. It will probably depend on how they'll be marketed and how much money and effort MBK decides to put into them. I'm curious as to what you readers think about these groups? Have they gained your interest?

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