The 2015 “Girl Group Ranking” was put together by industry insiders, and a lot of the changes in the ranking are related to what they view as a shift in the playing field as a new crop of girl groups takes over.
2NE1, Girls’ Generation, and SISTAR maintain their coveted thrones in the highest tier, coined the “Insurmountable Wall.”
2NE1 had a successful comeback last year with their second album “Crush,” which topped charts, especially “Gotta Be You” and title track “Come Back Home. And despite member Jessica leaving the group last year, Girls’ Generation continues to be active domestically and abroad.
However, according to Sports Chosun, the two veteran groups didn’t necessarily make the cut with flying colors. Girls’ Generation has continued to lose its competitive edge, and despite a strong comeback, 2NE1 lost the chance to one-up their rival with Park Bom’s drug controversy.
On the other hand, SISTAR stepped it up to the next level last year. 2014 was a vibrant year for the group what with their hit summer anthem “Touch My Body” and individual members successfully branching out into solo music, acting, and variety show activities.
Thus, 2NE1 and Girls’ Generation are occupying “a shaky first place,” as new hoobae girl groups like Girl’s Day are fast approaching the entrance to the “Insurmountable Wall.” Indeed, touting hit songs “Something” and “Darling” as well as member Hyeri who became a national sensation through her participation on “Real Men,” Girl’s Day is currently the top candidate to snatch a spot in the highest tier.
AOA made the biggest leap in the ranking this year, jumping two whole tiers from the second-to-last tier, the “Popular Maginot Line,” to the second-highest tier, “National Star.” The group was divided up into two groups, five-member band unit AOA Black and three-member dance unit AOA White, when it debuted in 2012 but reconsolidated into one seven-member group in 2013. The group also amped up the sex appeal in 2013 and since has had a solid string of hits, namely “Miniskirt,” “Short Hair,” and “Like a Cat.”
A CUBE’s Kang Yoon Sik comments, “Their music sales are not bad. [AOA is] a team that succeeded after converting to a sexy concept.” DreamT Entertainment’s Na Sang Cheon says, “Having steadily grown and gained recognition, [AOA is] a group to look forward to.”
There is one girl group that absolutely cannot be left out of the ranking, and it’s last year’s dark horse EXID.
EXID, which never appeared in the rankings before, makes a grand entrance, starting off on the fourth tier, the “Mania Level.” Indeed, the group has been a living Cinderella story, propelled by the magic of not a fairy godmother but social media.
Having debuted in 2012, EXID packed their bags after releasing their digital single “Up & Down” to a lukewarm response.
However, after a fancam of EXID, specifically member Hani, performing the song went viral, the group was revived and has since been topping charts with “Up & Down” and winning several music shows.
Starship Entertainment’s Seo Hyun Joo remarks, “[EXID is] a group that created the term ‘forced comeback’ with the overwhelming attention member Hani received through the fancam.”
A Pink has regularly disrupted the rankings. Last year, it rose two tiers to “Socialite Level,” and this year has made another stride up the rankings into “National Star.” With hits like “Mr. Chu” and “LUV,” A Pink is one of the few girl groups that hasn’t switched over to a sexier concept and has successfully maintained for the past four years their innocent image from their debut days.
Kara, which down tumbled three tiers last year after Nicole and Kang Ji Young’s departure from the group, got back on their feet with the seamless integration of new member Youngji, joining A Pink in the “Socialite Level” tier this year.
In contrast to last year where the only rookie group that made the cut was BESTie, this year’s ranking features a slew of rookie groups, including Mamamoo, Red Velvet, and brand new 2015 rookies Sonamoo and G-Friend.
SM Entertainment’s Kim Euna says, “G-Friend is receiving a lot of attention from the male fandom with their fresh girly image. Sonamoo catches the eyes with their powerful dance and fierce image. Mamamoo is gaining recognition as a skilled rookie group.”
On Red Velvet, industry insider Jung Won Jung remarks, “Just the fact that Red Velvet is SM’s new girl is sufficient to anticipate their potential.”
Now if there are groups that rise in the ranking, then it is inevitable that some groups must take a hit.
These groups include f(x), miss A, and Crayon Pop.
f(x) had a rocky year with member Sulli taking a sudden hiatus from all activities, and despite being one of the strongest contenders for a spot in the highest “Insurmountable Wall” tier, the group dropped from “National Star” to “Socialite Level.”
miss A had an even poorer showing, such that industry experts considered it an achievement that the group even placed in the “Mania Level” tier. One survey respondent says, “While member Suzy is holding down the fort, the group itself is gradually losing its force.” Another respondent comments, “[miss A is] a group that is meaningless without Suzy.”
Crayon Pop, which has been unable to follow up their sensational hit “Bar Bar Bar” with another one, drops to the second-last tier “Popular Maginot Line.”
There are some groups that have fallen off the ranking altogether, namely Brown Eyed Girls, After School, Wonder Girls, and Rainbow. The main trait shared by the “Ranking – Out” groups is their long period of inactivity. Brown Eyed Girls and After School have been silent since releasing “Kill Bill” and “First Love,” respectively, in the summer of 2013.
Rainbow also released their last song, “Sunshine,” in the summer of 2013. However, with their upcoming with mini album “Innocent,” there is a high probability they will make it back onto the ranking next year.
Meanwhile, Wonder Girls has been basically nonexistent since leader Sunye got hitched in January 2013.
What do you think about this year’s rankings? Did your favorite girl groups make the cut?