Is There An Age Limit To Having A Girl Crush?
"Wait, what?! Are you coming out of the closet, Mama?" some of you may ask. Not at all, but there are a few ladies out there who are making my heart flutter with excitement, that's for sure. Even at my time of life. Like the amazing Hwasa from Mamamoo.
When I first got into KPop music almost 10 years ago, now, I have to admit that I was totally smitten by the boy bands. I came in at a point in KPop when its 2nd generation were just about to peak with the likes of Super Junior, Shinee, TVXQ, Big Bang, and such. The boys were very striking at the time. I found most of the girl groups back then way too bland for my tastes. The fact that I've never really been much of a "girly-girl" didn't help either. At the risk of bringing the wrath of their fans on me, amongst my least favourites of the day were acts like Girl's Generation, GFriend, A Pink and such. That's not to say these groups weren't talented. These girls are highly talented and accomplished performers. I have since changed my opinion about some of them. I just wasn't feeling the vanilla music and image that they were being groomed with back then. Like I said - not a girly-girl.
Then I found 2NE1 and it was instant girl crush with my personal bias being their cute maknae (youngest member) Minzy. Minzy could sing, (she has a pretty powerful voice), she can rap and she dances better than a lot of guys I know! Yea, I said it! She was the full package. The other members of 2NE1 (Sandara, Bom and CL) were pretty phenomenal in their own right too. Their leader, CL, was the ULTIMATE girl crush who represented to the fullest. Her rap style even gained her respect from male rappers. Her solo track, "The Baddest Female" back in 2013 made a huge impact on the Korean audience with the track reaching number 1 on Melon, Mnet, Olleh, Bugs, Naver Music, Daum Music, Soribada and others, as well as entering the U.S. iTunes chart at No. 75 within 3 hours of its release.. An amazing feat for a female artist back then. One could say, she was truly a ground breaker. One of the biggest things that I loved about 2NE1 as a whole, was that their whole image was not typical. It was pretty edgy with a heavy dose of "urban-fashion" and very colourful and bold. When they did do the "girly thing" they did it "diva-style".
The first time that I saw Hwasa, I thought she looked like (what I imagined to be) a "love child" between Hyolin and Minzy. Crazy right?! Hear me out on this though. On further inspection, it turns out that they have a LOT in common. Like Hyolin, she has an unbelievable voice. Like Minzy and Hyolin, she can also dance well. Hwasa is also an talented songwriter. Like Hyolin and Minzy. And like Minzy and Hyolyn, she can also rap. It's freaky I tell ya! All three of these ladies have been criticized for their looks. Her skin tone is on the dark side like Hyolin who also had many comments about it. South Korea has a very distinct view of beauty and they aren't "backward in coming forward" to point out someone's differences. Both Minzy and Hyolin have clearly succumbed to lightening their skin tones having nose jobs and other "re-modelling" work, but Hwasa is refusing to crumble. She recognizes that she is beautiful as she is. She has said that she is here to change the Korean concept of beauty (I LOVE this girl!).
With the recent success of her solo single "Twit" (see video above), Hwasa is definitely amongst this 3rd wave of Hallyu (Korean Wave) stars that are changing how female acts are being seen in the industry. Even her group Mamamoo co-members (Solar, Wheein, and Moonbyul) put forth solo projects showing their individual colours in the past 12 months with varying levels of success. Their talent cannot be contested. But these ladies are not alone in this new spate of girl groups.
Groups like Red Velvet, Twice, Momoland, Pristin, Station, Itzy, CLC and Black Pink (who are hailed as the "next/wannabe 2NE1 as they're from the same agency (YG Entertainment)) are bringing a much needed shake up to how girl groups are in the industry. Their dance choreographies are becoming more challenging, almost catching up with the levels as the boy groups with many girl groups now having dance members who're competent at mimicking male dance styles. Their songs are becoming edgier with a lot of these groups giving their male counterparts a good run for their money where even the rappers have had to step up their game. Even the "girly-girl" groups are mixing it up by using more EDM sounds in their music. Both Red Velvet and Black Pink are making a little "foot-hold" for themselves in the USA with both groups performing in concerts out there in the past 2 years (Black Pink are scheduled to perform there again, later this year).
I think Korean Pop is definitely NOT what it used to be, and, in my humble opinion, that's a GOOD thing. It's clear to me that the world is now starting to pay attention to the music from this little country in far east Asia, not just because of its cars, TVs and mobile phones. With the whole world watching, these companies can't afford to keep messing up as they have in the past - not if they want to survive. This current trend seems to be continuing and more and more girl groups keep raising the bar of beauty mixed with mind blowing talent each year. I hope the world will be ready and willing to swallow future tsunami-sized waves from the shores of the East Sea.
By the way, surprisingly, there was one "girly group" from the 2nd generation that I did like. They were called SISTAR. I've raved about one of their main vocalists in a previous post, but Hyolin was the reason why I fell for Sistar's charm. Hyolin's voice captivated me in a Kdrama that I was watching at the time and it caused me to check out more. Sistar was a 4-girl KPop group whose main image were sexy, yet tasteful. They also had a lot of summer hits. Korea's number 1 MC, Yoo Jae Suk has been quoted, on camera, that "it's not summer without Sistar". The four ladies, Hyolin, Bora, Dasom and Soyou have since disbanded but they all have solo careers in various fields. Bora and Dasom are both working in acting, Soyou released 2 solo albums whilst Hyolin is currently running her own agency and touring on her 1st world tour as a solo artist. Here's to the power of a "girl crush". Keep up the great work ladies. And, ftr, I don't think there's any age limit to having respect and admiration for a same-sex person who is being the best person that she can be. So there! Haha!