If you’ve been living under a rock, or if you are in a great state of delusion, then you’d immediately dismiss the living fact that the best rookie groups last year are Oh My Girl and Seventeen. I’d easily rest my case on this one though because any other group that you’d pitch will still fall inferior to these two but I won’t so here you go:
With the influx of new groups debuting every single year, it’s always a challenge for a rookie to stand out from the rest. I think the end goal here is to establish the group well enough that they can be considered as the rightful successors of their sunbaes. Case in point is how fans would call WonSoKa (Wonder Girls, SNSD, and KARA – add in 2NE1) as leading girl groups of second generation K-Pop following icons such as SES and Fin.K.L.
This is a tough call for rookies because they need to call dibs on an identity that can be associated with them and take it from there – as soon as they can. The key to achieving this relies on a combination of market research and luck and as far as I’m concerned these two groups have been able to ease in a slot that they can call their own and in gradual steps.
Seventeen, for example, made the right decision by taking off with a brighter and youthful debut instead of what they originally planned because if they did, they’d look like almost all of their contemporaries now with all the dark hep-hap $WaG that always sounds angry and abrasive which is just…meh.
The same can be said for Oh My Girl. While 2014 was a year of sexy girl group concepts, 2015 was built on girl groups sounding sweet, innocent, and pure. On first look, OMG may look like a group that has music similar to GFriend, Lovelyz, or DiA but this is a group where you come for the visuals and stay for the music. Yup, they’re that good. I’ll get into this later.
Anyway, the main point of this post is to gush and spazz over how right I was to root for these two groups because their follow-ups for this year have been totally excellent.
Seventeen – Pretty U and Very Nice
Seventeen really went off to a good start last year knowing that the anticipation for their 2016 comeback was quite high. In terms of recognition alone, one can say that they already got out of nugudom considering how they’re behind Exo and BTS in terms of album sales. And they’re from Pledis dammit, give credit where it is due.
The good thing about this though is that Seventeen lived up to that hype with the lead track from their first full-length album, the adorable “Pretty U”. At first listen, it may sound weaker than their past singles but I think that is because of the audio used from the official MV release. It can affect your judgment by that much because it sounds so amazingly lo-fi (and not in a good way) to a point that it totally concealed their signature sound. When you listen to it through Spotify or through a proper upload though, Pretty U is as strong next to Adore U and Mansae. It’s funky, highly layered, and it evokes the youthful energy that made Seventeen a standout from the rest of the pack.
However, the best thing about Pretty U is how the song is married to its performance. Not that it depends on it to become a great track, but it simply becomes a whole different experience when it is seen live. They run around, carry each other, lie down in a sofa, read a book, and stomp their feet vigorously in a span of three minutes and it is just pure fun. The fact that Pretty U looks and sounds like something that you see in a musical makes it more amazing.
In a way, that is what makes K-pop unique. It’s a complete visual experience wherein the performance is regarded in the same way that the song is and that is what they exactly did.
Pretty U was then followed up by the newly released “Very Nice” which is the lead single from their repackaged album. It’s basically as in-your-face as Mansae with a chorus that reminds me of their b-side called Chuck where they repeatedly chant the song’s title. In Very Nice’s case, instead of a dubstep breakdown, “aju nice” is accompanied with what sounds like a sped-up version of that iconic chorus from Uptown Funk.
What Very Nice does for Seventeen is that it shows how consistent they are sonically and this is something that will be easily associated with them as new groups come by.
The accompanying albums where these tracks can be found are quite good as well. For Love and Letter, highly recommended tracks include the disco-inspired Still Lonely and the Hip-Hop team’s version of Mansae aka Monday to Saturday which sounds chill af. My favorite cut from the repackage is Healing which sounds like something that Sweetune would pen so that’s an automatic yes for me.
Oh My Girl – Liar Liar and Windy Day
Like what I said earlier, Oh My Girl is packaged in the same way as their other contemporaries are but upon a “closer” listen you would say how different this group is from the rest. I think it’s a conscious effort from their agency to ride on the innocent girl group concepts that really took off this year. However, this doesn’t seem to work for them as all the singles that OMG released (as awesome as they are) didn’t chart that high.
But then again as what I also said earlier about Oh My Girl, you come for the visuals (I mean look at them) and you stay for the music. My theory about OMG’s unique discography is that instead of studying other girl groups that borrow their sound from A-Pink or early SNSD, their team focused on how SM groups like f(x) and Red Velvet (in particular) construct their sound which is quirky and commercially palatable at the same time aka their “Red”. Building up from this, the group also has incorporated an ethereal, slightly worldy sound which we can say is their “Velvet”. As a result, they have a created their own version of that trendy cute/innocent palette that they can call their own.
Their first release, “Liar Liar”, is at their most “red” that you can even say that it is the direct counterpart to their debut single Cupid. It sounds and looks cute and sugary af but somewhere along the song, you can feel a sense of eeriness and I think that’s because they usually sing in a higher pitch, especially in the chorus. Whenever I listen to Liar Liar, I can’t help but feel like it can be used as a track to accompany that marching parade scene from Paprika.
OMG’s venture to pseudo-worldly music started with last year’s Closer which will go down as one of the songs that they will be remembered with. They continue this tradition with the glorious Windy Day aka one of the best K-pop songs this year (I’M CALLING IT!).
This song is the best way to describe Oh My Girl as a group. It starts of as something like a basic acoustic spring song that the Korean public loves. But this is OMG we are talking about and they are not the one for conformity. The chorus takes you by surprise as it suddenly builds up out of nowhere, and we’re at the first wave still, take note. The second wave contains the eerie high-pitched chants that they have been using and by the third chorus, you’ll be drowned in a sort of Middle Eastern flurry where they gently chant “WINDY DAAAAAYYY~” repeatedly. Oh My Girl is a group that you stan beyond what you see from the exterior.
Me after listening to Windy Day
And the best part? It goes back to how the song started like all that chaos never happened. This brilliant pop songwriting can only be courtesy of Anderas Oberg (you’ll know by that signature guitar of his) and Maria Marcus who were also responsible for one of f(x)’s most misunderstood songs, Glitter. Their collaboration is reminiscent of the Namyu x Sweetune partnership and that’s nothing but amazing.
So that’s basically it, if you don’t stan the best rookies of 2015 then you are missing on a lot!!! Seventeen’s on their way to becoming really big (only if Pledis doesn’t mess them up) and I hope that y’all see the brilliance of Oh My Girl because I feel like they’re gonna have their Hurt Locker moment if we don’t buy what they sell. They’re slated for another comeback this year so it’s never too late to see the light!!!