Mar 27, 2017

Girl Group Takeover: Twice, Lovelyz & Gugudan Make Comebacks

March has definitely been (and continues to be) the month of girl groups having comebacks. Ok fine; these groups did have had theirs in late February but they've mostly been promoting in March so that's why I'm saying so as well as other girl groups actually having comebacks this month but that's for another post. Anyhow; three different groups from three different companies with different concepts and musical styles recently dropped new releases, those groups being Twice, Lovelyz and Gugudan. There were some surprises and some not-so-surprises but overall three strong comebacks from the fourth generation girl groups of K-pop.

Twice had their comeback first with "Knock Knock" from their repackaged album "Twicecoaster: Lane 2" and I was personally really excited for this release. I did end up loving "TT" a lot but somehow I wanted something a bit stronger from them and I was hoping this would be it. Although none of their releases so far have been over-the-top sugary none of them have been as fierce and powerful as their debut release which was something I missed. They've definitely been playing more on the cute side as of recent but never without going too unnaturally cute as their releases has been age appropriate, but I personally wanted them to turn to a more grown-up side of the spectrum this time around. The teaser images for this comeback definitely felt more so, especially with the styling being more sexy and not as sweet, thus I was hoping the song would be up to par.

TWICEs foto.I can't say it was exactly like I had hoped but "Knock Knock" definitely has a vibe and a drive to it that I appreciate much more than for example "Cheer Up" which is a very cute-sounding song. "Knock Knock" is more pop-rock oriented and almost sounds to me like it could be a B-side of off one of their mini albums; and I mean that in a good way as some of their B-sides have been favored by me over their title tracks. It has a great instrumental with electronica beats as well as electric guitars and the overall pulse and tempo of the song makes it a very energetic and lively sounding track.

It also has a great melody and chorus with solid vocal performances from the members, leaving me not much to complain about. It might not have as much of a memorable hook as their other promotional tracks but I find that it has a maturity that the other ones might lack. It still borders on the cutesy side of things but in very natural way which I appreciate. It never feels like they're forcing anything but are rather just being their genuine selves who happen to be smiley, playful and energetic. The MV is also a genuinely good video and I like that it's connected to the story in the video for "TT", but in a fun and not too complicated kind of way. Enough so that you have to think about it but not so much that it'll give you a headache (yes I'm looking at you BTS). JYP himself makes a cameo as well which is nothing but hilarious, adding to the light-hearted vibe of the MV. The girls are adorable and I love that their personalities get to shine through, which is one of this group's most advantageous traits.

TWICEs foto.
I also love the way the choreography is made to mirror the lyrics of the song and although it's not very difficult or complex in terms of moves the formations are really clever and the girls definitely sell it well. The way that the choreography is shown is with the use of stop-motion recording which means that the moves match the beat perfectly and add a bit of a quirk to the video. Overall I've enjoyed this comeback quite a lot and I hope that this is a direction Twice will continue walking towards; a bit sassier and a bit more mature but equally as lovable.

Song: 4,1/5
MV: 4/5

About a week later Lovelyz made their awaited comeback with "WoW!", which is their first release after almost a year. Their latest comeback was with "Destiny" last year which was somewhat of a departure from their previous material as it was less cute and upbeat and more dramatic and elegant. This time however they've returned to their earlier image which is dreamier and quirkier but with a song that is strangely similar to "Destiny"; or at least parts of it. The structure of "WoW!" is a bit confusing as the main hook of the song is neither a verse nor a chorus or something in between and the verses aren't really verses but rather two lines of build-up before the actual chorus drops.

Lovelyz foto.There seems to be somewhat of a retro theme in terms of the styling and the hook of the song is kind of funky as well which is a theme I can get behind, but the chorus sounds like a rip-off of "Destiny" which I don't get at all. If I wanted to listen to "Destiny" I would and I don't really see the point in using almost the exact same melody and chord structure here as it does nothing to develop Lovelyz' sound or show any kind of growth. It's sad that it clashes with the otherwise funky retro sound of the song as it kind of worsens the entire impression of the song. It's a shame because the concept does have potential.

The video for the "WoW!" is not as underwhelming as the song however, as it's a very typical Lovelyz video in the sense of it being cute, quirky and creative with an eye for detail. The colors are great as is the styling and the sets and props in addition to good camera-work and editing. The idea of portraying the members as paper-dolls is also cute and matches the concept perfectly. Despite this I don't really feel anything when watching this video. It's certainly unique and well-made but despite this it actually bores me quite a bit which also is disappointing.

I think it goes without saying that this comeback left me quite let down. I've never been extremely into this group but I've always enjoyed their singles and I really liked their last mini-album so this comeback comes as a surprise. The song isn't living up to expectations and although the concept is good it doesn't weigh up the overall underwhelming feeling of this comeback, sadly. The problem isn't that it's bad in any way because it's not, it's just that I feel like they could do much better.

Song: 3,2/5
MV: 3,5/5

Only a day after Lovelyz Jellyfish Entertaiment's first and only current girl group Gugudan had their first comeback after debuting last year with "Wonderland". I personally wasn't all that impressed with their debut as it felt extremely rushed and thus lacked quality in both song and concept, but with this comeback it seems like they've taken their time. "A Girl Like Me" is quite different from "Wonderland" in every sense of the word and I definitely think this comeback suits the group much more. They've taken it from a girly and sweet fairy-tale-like concept with bright colors to this confident and classy piece that's all about loving yourself.

구구단 gugudans foto.
"A Girl Like Me" is as a song is very different from "Wonderland" as it's less cutesy and bubblegum sticky sweet and much more powerful. It's still a pretty ordinary electronica pop track but there is a drive to it and a stronger feeling that I guess along with the overly confident lyrics makes for a song that leaves an impression on you. You should all know by now that if there's one thing that I love it's girls singing about praising and loving themselves and that's exactly what "A Girl Like Me" does.

In this song the girls sing encouraging words towards their love interest as they tell them to hurry up as they're girls who don't have time to wait for guys who can't act on their interests. Lines such as "Sorry I know we've never seen each other before but I wanna make you mine" and "This isn't a chance that you can get everyday" speak loudly about the confidence that they have and the awareness of their own self-worth which I can't get enough of. You go girls; get all them boys!

구구단 gugudans foto.To reflect the lyrics' nature being almost borderline narcissistic the video does everything in its power to show off the girls as self-centered as possible; but in a fun way. Each of the girls have their own individual set that in one way or another showcase their exaggerated confidence, such as Mina's bedroom being covered in pictures of herself, Mimi posting countless selcas and videos on social media, Nayoung living the life of a photoshoot and Hana being surrounded by mirrors. All of them have their own little story in which their self-obsession is clearly shown and all of this in sets with great use of props and strong, bold colors.

Another aspect of this comeback that I really enjoy is that although their concept has switched from their debut one to a more sassy and fierce one they haven't suddenly changed their initial girlishness and gone all "bad girls" as one may would associate with these kind of lyrics. Said lyrics may be written to portray them as strong and independent but they're still dancing and singing in dresses and skirts in typically feminine colors, which is a combination we don't see enough of in K-pop. The styling may still be more on the cute and girly side but that doesn't mean they can't send a message of confidence and self-love and that's actually a really important message. I do hope they can continue this type of style, both musically and stylistically, as it seems to suit the girls much better and has also produced one of my favorite comebacks so far this year.

Song: 4,2/5
MV: 4/5

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