Jul 12, 2016

Riding The I.O.I Wave - DIA And Gugudan Emerge From The Ashes


In the aftermath of the debut of immensely popular project group I.O.I, two companies decided that it was best to make the most of the hype and bring back their respective idols after the group's first promotions were over; in order to make them return with their "actual" groups. For Chaeyeon that meant returning to MBK and DIA, who made their initial debut a year ago with "Somehow". For Jellyfish members Mina and Sejeong it meant debuting once again yet this time with the group they're going to stay in after I.O.I disband; Gugudan. Both groups have gone for a concept that's becoming all too popular these days, and although I want to like both of them none of the releases managed to keep my interest up.

I wouldn't go as far as saying that this is all a result of the "GFriend Effect" but let's be real; it kind of is. Especially with this comeback as the song "On The Road" is a creation by the same producer who made many of GFriend's hits. What we see developing in the K-pop sphere right now is pretty similar to that of the "Sistar Effect" in 2012 when they slayed everyone with "Alone" and suddenly all girl groups made "sexy" comebacks or new girl groups debuted with sexier concepts than ever seen before. However as we know the thing with trends is that eventually they fade and usually a counter-reaction happens, thus is the case right now for girl groups. DIA aren't at all stupid for hopping on a style and sound that is incredibly popular (youthful, bright, feminine and innocent), but this release is probably the most unoriginal I've seen in a pretty long time.

Not only does the song sound like a below average GFriend B-side, the video too takes clearly too many references from other videos with similar concepts, dances and songs. With this comeback DIA picks and chooses freely and combines all in this release, and it's so painfully obvious that it can only make one cringe. Of course this comeback is quite rushed given the circumstances with Chaeyeon and I.O.I so it's understandable that it results in a decrease in quality, but I've seen too many rushed comebacks that were better than this that I don't buy into that excuse at all.

In this case it only strikes me as pure laziness on MBK's part, as if they've just sat down and went: "Well we have no ideas of our own so let's copy whatever is popular right now. That'll probably work". That is the problem with this comeback rather than the actual song or MV, because they're not particularly better nor worse than other mediocre girl group releases. If I remember correctly I wasn't particularly impressed with this group's debut either, and partly because that one too lacked originality. MBK definitely isn't doing this group justice in any way, and hadn't it been for Chaeyeon's success on "Produce 101" this comeback might have never happened or if it had I probably wouldn't bother writing about it.

Song: 2/5
Video: 2,4/5

Speaking of rushed productions I'd have to say that as rushed as "On The Road" was it doesn't hold up to the likes of Gugudan's debut with "Wonderland". I.O.I members Mina and Sejeong are arguably two of the most popular members of their group, and thus it's not too odd for them to have a lot of screen time in this MV. Apart from the song and general concept that was actually what stood out to me the most, for some reason, because although I knew this group would be nine members I could swear I only saw the same five people for basically all of the videos' length. I also came to my attention that the main vocalist Haebin only actually get to sing ad-libs at the end which is serisouly stupid, and those are only some of the issues I have with this debut.

What makes me the most annoyed is that I really like the concept they're going for here, living as mermaids under the water, but the concept could've been taken so much further and served a more interesting story-line or basically anything to make it not seem like any other girl group MV. I'm not crazy about the song nor the choreography, and for having such a promising concept (it's actually titled "Act 1: The Little Mermaid") some of the sets and outfits look down-right tacky. I know that their labelmates Vixx's debut wasn't all that amazing and surely these girls will improve and find their own path in time, but I still would've expected a bit more from Jellyfish.

Again, the problem here doesn't lie in the fact that they have a bad song because it's definitely not below average, but the problem is that this doesn't elude a big sense of originality either. They could've done some great things with this concept and premise but instead it just kind of becomes another one of those releases that you listen to and don't find half-bad but immediately forget afterwards. I don't think this debut shows even a tiny bit of what this group is capable (I know for instance that they have a great set of vocalists) but that again comes from the fact that everything was put together very quickly. Overall I'd say I'm not as put-off by this as DIA's comeback, but it doesn't really make me want to get to know them better either.

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

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