Popping The K-Pop Cherry June 2015 Edition: Giving G-friend, Rubber Soul, CLC And A Few More A Spin

Rubbe-Soul

It’s June and there hasn’t been a good roundup/arbitrary list/even more arbitrary “award” post around these parts so now is as good a time as any to go through the backlog of rookie K-Pop groups that I’ve been meaning to check out and give some initial impressions. Hopefully, some of these will be good. Without further ado, here goes nothing.

G-Friend (Girlfriend) – “Glass Bead”

While the initial Lifetime Movie type lighting had me braced for some of the worst aegyo of my tortured life, “Glass Bead” sounds like something out of a K-Pop time capsule and that’s a good route to take with such a young looking group. “Glass Bead” is passable but it sounds like a send up of SNSD’s “Into the New World” which is one of my favorite K-Pop songs, so this suffers in comparison.

Rating: 6/10 Slugs. Not entirely sold on the song and the concept isn’t exactly a new one.

Rubber Soul – “Life”

Initial impressions: I REALLY want to love this but I can’t quite get there. A girl hip-hop trio with an offbeat, low-key, non-CL/GD-sensory-assault beat is pretty damn awesome in concept. In execution, it’s a little lacking, especially for the first minute where Rubber Soul seems much more interested in showcasing how different their beat (or, in this case, lack of a many-layered beat) is from the rest of their contemporaries than they are invested in making a catchy hip-pop track. Luckily, the song picks up by the halfway mark and it’s truly enjoyable by the bridge. Thankfully, it gets even better on replay. A pretty confident and assured release (“Lonely Friday” does everything that “Life” does but it’s better in almost every way).

Rating: 8/10. Sharing a name with one of the best albums of all-time certainly doesn’t hurt but this is a trio that I’m going to be paying attention to in the future.

CLC – “Pepe”

Like a lot of rookie debut releases, it’s hard to see how CLC is trying to differentiate itself from the hordes of similarly young and ambitious groups out there. “Pepe” is well crafted and executed well but there’s nothing particularly memorable about the song or choreography. The group is very pretty but “Pepe” doesn’t do the group many favors. On the bright side, it doesn’t hurt either.

Rating: 5/10. Meeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, we’ll see.

Cupid – “I Feel Good”

A hot mess.

There’s low budget and then there’s this poor karaoke video. Somehow, “I Feel Good” makes Wassup’s “Wa$$up” look like a goddamn Peter Jackson film. I’d be more forgiving if the song didn’t sound like a Dance Dance Revolution filler track.

Rating: 2/10. Can we start a Kickstarter for Cupid? By the looks of the video, they might need one.

Seventeen – “Adore U”

On the plus side, the song sounds pretty damn good. The vocals are strong and the song propels forward with a confidence and energy that is pretty great for a rookie debut. On the other side, I’m not sure how 13 members (13!) could all sound so similar without some serious production tricks (or raise the levels of the few who can sing above those who are likely group filler). The dubiously bad dubbing job for the video (seriously, there are times where the way that the members’ mouths move in no way lines up with what’s being sung) doesn’t exactly instill confidence either. However, I can’t deny that I’ve probably played “Adore U” more than the rest of the songs featured above*.

*Rubber Soul’s “Lonely Friday” gets more love from me but I was trying to stick to group debuts for this.

Rating: 8/10. It’s straight forward, well produced and has a great vibrancy for these summer months. I could do without the whole “super group” thing but I can’t help but adore “Adore U” for its slickness.

If there are any other rookie groups that I should give a spin, let me know and I’ll try to incorporate them into one of these features when there’s a slow news day or something.

As for this crop, the breakdown goes like this:

Shows promise: Rubber Soul, Seventeen

Ehhhh: G-Friend, CLC

NOPE: Cupid

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10 comments

  1. Monsta X ?

  2. Shadow · · Reply

    Needless to say, I TOTALLY disagree with you on CLC.

    1. They are very pretty and could be the face of any girl group out there. Their debut was just so… cookie cutter to me.

  3. I will say that I have been pretty disappointed lately in the music coming out of Korea. Each week I check out the new music videos or show performances and feel underwhelmed again. I want to spend money on downloads, but the industry has not been delivering anything that last few months that justifies my spending it. Between rookie acts that bring nothing new to the table or uninspired solo projects, there hasn’t been much out there lately. I’m hoping that the heavy hitters that are supposed to start releasing this month and next come through with something worthwhile.

    1. Let me know if you happen upon anything promising. I’ve had a similar view of most of what I’ve seen from new groups so far this year.

      1. and older groups too. Bigbang and Exo aren’t exactly hitting home runs right now.

  4. Yeah, the similarity of “Glass Bead” to “Into the New World” is incredible, & certainly no accident. It seems to be a tried & true debut tactic (to get a close to ITNW as possible) sometimes it works, I guess, but I thought the same thing as soon as I heard that one the first time & it turned me off.

    Have to agree with Shadow that I thought CLC’s Pepe was better.. but it IS pretty “standard” fare for a group that has more talent than that track shows.. it seems the entertainment companies just simply CANNOT get away from the bubble-gum & cotton candy image for a new groups debut, even when the artists’ voice & forte don’t lend themselves to that “schtick” (I won’t use genre). Think Lee Hi.

    Cupid: how many times are we supposed to “put up” with a debut group using the same name as a track from a veteran group.. seems this happens all the time. Imagination anyone? It IS confusing, but also just bad marketing, IMHO.

    I agree, the boy-band track is the best track out of the bunch (with the possible exception of “Pepe”). Both though are so formulaic, no one will remember either in two months.

    1. uh, when you saying about the Cupid part, do you mean KARA’s ‘cupid’ ? Oh my girl one is released before Kara’s.

  5. here’s the song/vid/performance that started my infatuation with seungyeon.

    i like it more than the rest of clc’s discography, at least.

  6. Chucker · · Reply

    the ark?

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