As much as I was completely floored by Big Bang’s breakthrough release “Lies,” they weren’t the only musical acts throwing down in the latter half of 2007. There was an explosion of new artists stepping to the stage, artists like Younha, Supernova (Choshinsung), K. Will, Battle and F.T. Island.
But as well as some breakthroughs that completely caught the world by surprise.
At the time…sad to say, I was too wrapped up in the sound of Big Bang to fully appreciate the significance of the Wonder Girls. With this memoir, I really want to go in chronological order when it comes to how I discovered them and what my impressions were at the time…however, I’d be remised if I didn’t mention the impact of the Wonder Girl’s smash hit, “Tell Me.”
The Wonder Girls released “Tell Me” in September of 2007 and stayed number one on the charts for seven weeks. Almost every time I clicked on a broadcast of a music program, I’d see some Korean celebrity singing or dancing to snippets of that song. Everyone was into it! Even Big Bang when they made appearances on variety programs. If you heard the song, it’d be stuck in your head all day long. There’s no avoiding it. Sorry.
I have nothing against the Wonder Girls…but I just wasn’t a fan of that sound. In upcoming chapters, you’ll see that I’d eventually come to respect their artistry and their story. Because they definitely had some adversity, losing a member, gaining another. Not to mention, they had competition when Girls Generation stepped out onto the scene and it’s not like the Wonder Girls were about to back down.
Nevertheless, in late 2007, the Wonder Girls took the throne when it came to female musical acts. I got into Kpop due to DBSK. But I know a whole generation of ladies who credit the Wonder Girls for bringing them into the fold.
Hailing from the same label as megastar Rain, the Wonder Girls were instrumental in building JYP as one of the top three entertainment agencies, surpassing DSP in my opinion, to put them right up there with SM Entertainment and YG. Without the Wonder Girls, JYP wouldn’t have achieved this feat with Rain alone. And without the Wonder Girls, another up and coming group wouldn’t have stood a chance on the congested battlefield of rising boybands. A group by the name of 2pm, but I’ll save that for later.
The reason why I credit late 2007 as the beginning of modern k-pop as we know it was due to its diversity and a stepping away from the early 2000 sounds reminiscent of Nsync’s “Celebrity” album, the imitations of poppy dance hip hop songs that relied on an overpowering beat like Usher’s “Yeah”.
In late 2007, you saw greater creativity from the artists. It seemed like people were looking for the more toned down, chilled rhythm and beat that still got you up and moving. It was the introduction of electronica. More songs like Ne-Yo’s “Because of You”.
In particular…two musicians struck my fancy, and in so many ways made life more bearable for me. One of those artists is probably the most underrated singer in all of Kpop history. His name is Wheesung, also goes by the name of Real Slow.