(G)I-dle (Neverland)- LATATA

Written by Kimberly Hill

The world of Kpop during the past year has certainly been one of its most eventful ones. Not only are we beginning to see some of the genre’s major players begin to enter the North American consciousness, but the landscape at home in South Korea has also seen some gigantic shifts. The likes of YouTube and Twitter have effectively evened the playing field for its labels, allowing smaller acts to amass digital sales and views in ways that they could have never imagined. And K-pop’s chief benefactors, its fans, have endless new ways of communicating their likes, dislikes, pains, and desires. One of those desires? Expanding the variety in K-pop’s girl group scene.

Throughout the last 28 years of the genre’s extensive and colorful history, girl groups have been a steady albeit misunderstood force of nature, resulting in the sounds and themes they’re given space to explore being severely limited. Although teeming with bubblegum finesse and courtly balladry, one aspect that has found itself missing time and time again is the street-friendly, hip hop-inspired grit that was haphazardly perfected by their male counterparts. But early 2018 brought many, many surprises to Hallyu including the introduction of Cube Entertainment’s latest sensation (G)I-DLE.

 

On April 8th, 2018, Cube Entertainment unveiled official photos of their upcoming girl group featuring members

 

Soyeon Jeon (19)

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Shuhua Yeh (18)

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Minnie Nicha Yontararak (20)

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Soojin Seo (20)

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Yuqi Song (19)

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Miyeon Cho (21)

Miyeon Image Courtesy 뉴스인스타 Via Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

 

Soyeon, the group’s leader, further explained their unique moniker with the following statement: “The ‘I’ in the group name refers to each individual while “DLE” represents the Korean word ‘deul’, which is used to make plural forms of noun words, and the ‘(G)’ means “girl’.” The group name is read as “IDLE”. News spread fast and anticipation for the group quickly began to build.

“Latata” hit South Korean airwaves on May 2nd, 2018. The track was an instant winner with fans and critics alike, garnering specific praise for rapper Soyeon’s formidable flow, its lyrics, sharp production, and distinct urban edge. Though it had a slow start initially, by June 8th their debut had risen to #12 on Gaon (South Korea’s official music chart), a coup for a female rookie group in a particularly oversaturated idol market. The success of “Latata” brought home music awards from MTV Korea’s “The Show”, Mnet’s “M Countdown”, and it led to the group’s accompanying EP “I Am”, selling over 20,000 copies to date.

Not one to waste time, Cube Entertainment began to tease (G)I-DLE’s first comeback with cryptic video clips. “HAAN (Alone)” arrived on August 14th, 2018. With the sleek and temperamental rhythms accented by a whistled hook standing in tense contrast to the warm, weather-friendly composition of their previous single, “HAAN” welcomingly disturbs the tradition of bright and sunny tropically-tinged releases seen during the summer seasons, firmly placing the members of (G)I-DLE in the public’s sight yet again.

Though roughly three months old, (G)I-DLE has already begun to challenge the historically narrow confines that South Korea’s female pop stars have been subjected to with a strikingly modern look and sound. The world of Hallyu is an ever-changing, well-financed, and well-oiled machine, but groups like (G)I-DLE remind us that there can be much, much more to that machine than what meets the untrained eye.

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