May 26, 2016

South Korea's New National Girl Group I.O.I Makes Their Official Debut With "Dream Girls"

I cannot even tell you just how huge this newly formed girl group is in Korea right now. Hailing from the hyped Mnet competition show "Produce 101" the eleven members of I.O.I were voted by the public and are now temporarily together to promote as one group until they eventually disband and go back to their respective agencies. It's a pretty crazy concept and that's how I felt about the show when it was still airing as well, which is why I didn't watch it, but there's really no way of escaping this group right now. When I was in Korea the "Produce 101" popularity was intense and all of the members of the group have a huge amount of fans which means that I.O.I are debuting onto the scene whilst already being really well known by the public.

The song they've chosen to promote as their debut song is called "Dream Girls", and upon watching this video you might think that it looks very familiar; that maybe some of the elements and sections seem to remind you of something you've seen before. If those kind of thoughts happen to cross your mind you're perfectly correct in your thinking. Why? Well, if you're into K-pop you might have heard of this group called Girls' Generation, and you might even have watched their debut MV from 2007. If you haven't I suggest you do that and then come back here. Now you understand where I'm coming from?

Yeah, it's pretty clear to see where the inspiration for this debut MV comes from, clear to the point of it almost being on the edge of blatant copying. I get it, SNSD are hugely influential and this could be seen as a kind of homage, but the similarities are just too striking. First let's ask ourselves what the song "Dream Girls" is about and if the explanation for the video's theme can be found in its lyrics. I actually think that "Dream Girls" is way worse than any of the other original songs released on "Produce 101" or their pre-release "Crush", and the mini album "Chrysalis" has a lot of better songs too (my favorite being "When The Cherry Blossom Fades"). It's not that "Dream Girls" is a bad song because it is very catchy and radio-friendly, but it's just a bit too generic for my liking. What makes me cringe the most though are the lyrics for the song, whom are awfully cheesy.

Don't get me wrong here, the message of the lyrics is definitely a good one and I'm always 100% for girls singing about being confident and taking matters into their own hands. However the way the song flows added with this annoyingly cheerful MV makes for quite a cringe-worthy combined experience. Basically this video has all the members in their own little plot (just like SNSD's video for "Into The New World") trying to accomplish a goal or a dream, but of course they encounter obstacles along they way yet still manage to overcome it in the end. Members Yoojung and Nayoung helped write the lyrics and like I said before I love it when girl groups have these kind of empowering themes that are about fulfilling a dream or working towards a goal, and it having nothing to do with love or boys, but compared to SNSD's (and let's face it, a comparison is unavoidable) this one feels childish and slightly immature. I guess it could have something to do with the song sounding very juvenile and Disney Channel-like with quite unimpressive vocals to boot.

The acting in the video is not very impressive either, and it doesn't help that the video looks like it was shot on quite a low budget as well. The choreography is decent, but with 11 members I feel like they could've done something way more exciting. It's also pretty cheap that some of the scenarios are exactly the same as the ones in SNSD's video, which does make the video as a whole seem like a poor man's "Into The New World". I don't think it's fair at all to the girls because they definitely deserve better, but rather the agency that handles I.O.I, YMC, need to step up their game. For a group that's already so famous they should definitely been able to come up with something better and something more original.

I get that this review is coming off as very negative, and it's not because I dislike this group or even this debut, but I simply feel like they could've done so much better. The song could've been way better and the MV could've been made as a better representation of this group's image and color rather than coming off as a cheap copy. Overall I would say this debut is average at most, and that really sucks because I know how anticipated they were and I know how disappointed a lot of people were after it was released. I.O.I is still attracting a lot of people, of course, but I'm definitely hoping for something a lot more interesting and original for their next comeback. Until then I will just have to do with this and enjoy all the pretty fancams of the members.

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

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