“All that is gold does not glitter,” wrote JRR Tolkien in “The Lord of the Rings.” This couldn’t be more true than in the world of K-pop. You don’t even need to be a fan of Korean music to know that there are more boy bands and girl groups out there than you can count. Some are wonderful, some are mediocre. Music is highly subjective, so which group falls into which category is really up to you.
But whatever your preferences, it is hard to deny that Ladies’ Code was a group blessed with enormous talent. I speak in the past tense, not because I pretend to know the future for the members still recovering from the fatal car crash that claimed member EunB’s life, but because if the surviving members of the group do ever return to the world of music, things will never be the same for them again.
I know a lot of K-Pop enthusiasts, but I have to say that I don’t think I can honestly name a single Ladies’ Code fan from among them. There is no point in trying to be revisionist and claim that they were a top-tier girl group. But what you can say about Ladies’ Code is that they brought energy and talent to the table. And EunB was integral to that.
Fan-taken footage of the group’s last ever performance, the KBS concert in Daegu that EunB would never return home from, makes for painful viewing. EunB was never the most outspoken member, but she was the silent engine of the group, its center of gravity.
She was 21. She could sing. She could dance. The world was at her feet. She might have one day gone on to become one of K-Pop’s biggest names. Sadly, now we will never know.
In that final Daegu concert, she is full of vitality, her dance moves are spot on, her performance abounds with vitality.
And that, for many people, is exactly what Ladies’ Code excelled at — vitality. They never threatened to rival the likes of Girls’ Generation or SISTAR in the popularity stakes, but if you are looking for uplifting, energetic, dance-driven pop, Ladies’ Code delivered it every time. “Hate You” and “So Wonderful” are fantastic examples of that.
The mini album “Code #1: Bad Girl” is one of the most overlooked mini albums of the past few years. Although it was only five tracks long, it featured an extraordinary range of music style, from the jazzy “Dada La” to the bass-driven “Supergirl.” If you are looking for examples of EunB’s vocal talent, try listening to “Code #1: Bad Girl” from start to finish. I am no industry insider, but I imagine that producers simply loved working with EunB, there was not a musical style that she could not turn her hand to.
In a remarkable show of K-Pop fan unity, one of the girls’ lesser-known tracks, the ballad “I’m Fine Thank You,” has now hit number one in the charts, fulfilling EunB’s most cherished dream — a Ladies’ Code song at the top of the K-Pop world.
But the track that will make me remember EunB most fondly is not a ballad. Ladies’ Code could do ballads, but, let’s be honest, that really isn’t what they were about at all. A much more fitting tune is, in my opinion, “Pretty Pretty.”
Why? Because there have been few more uplifting, more joyful and more danceable tunes released in the world of K-pop this decade. “Pretty Pretty” is the essence of Ladies’ Code, and the essence of EunB. The song just made you feel good, like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Like EunB.
All that is gold does not glitter. Not every star is destined to shine brighter than the rest. But EunB was a little ray of starlight in the life of anyone who heard her music or watched her perform. I hope that K-Pop fans will remember her, first and foremost, for the happiness she unfailingly brought into our lives.
EunB (Go Eun Bi), November 23 1992-September 3 2014