We may be barely three months into 2015, but K-pop has already said goodbye to some six groups, a hint that staying together could be the watchword for this year in music. As girl groups like Jewelry and boy bands like Wonder Boyz call it a day, join us on a journey down memory lane; as we run down a list of 10 essential K-pop groups that said farewell too soon.
Heard the expression “a flash in the pan?” Well, DEMION were certainly that. Debuting in September 2013, the group the boys released a debut mini album. It was a barnstormer, especially the anthemic lead song “Ask Her Out”:
…but also other promising dance-driven tracks like “Roller Coaster.” We waited patiently for the comeback, only to get a kick in the guts in the way of the news that the group had split up almost exactly a year later, citing financial reasons.
If there was ever a K-pop group that embodied the expression “what might have been,” it is 5Dolls, F-ve Dolls or however you want to stylize it. Even the group’s name was a misnomer of sorts: this was an act that went through some 10 members in its four-year history. The girls started out life as a promising, if slightly generic girl group with the debut album “Charming Five Dolls” (which included the popular “I Mean You”).
They then preceded to release possibly one of the best songs of 2011, the explosive dance hit “Like This or Like That.”
Their next move? Vanish off the face of the K-pop planet for two years. In 2013, they resurfaced with arguably the best dance track of the year, the disco-influenced “Soulmate #1.”
The track was a gigantic shift in musical direction for the group, and came replete with a nifty and eye-catching dance routine. Their following move came earlier this month when they officially disbanded, leaving nothing but a string of disappointed and bemused K-pop fans in their wake.
“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” sang Joni Mitchell on her 1970 hit “Big Yellow Taxi.” I guess that a lot of people never really paid much attention to 8eight while they were active. But when they rather suddenly announced they were calling it a day in 2014, K-pop fans realized that they had just lost one of the most versatile groups around. You were never really sure what you were going to get with 8eight. Would the next track be a slow ballad? Would it be an upbeat number? Would it be more female vocal-led, or male-vocal led, or an even balance? In retrospect, 2009 was probably their year, as it saw both the release of possibly the group’s outstanding song “Goodbye My Love.”
… as well as the “Golden Age” studio album. Could have gone on to do so much more.
If your reaction to seeing BB.Boys on this list is “who?” then you clearly weren’t listening to K-pop in 2011. With a debut album that featured a collaboration with one of the biggest female solo names in K-pop, G.Na, the three-piece group looked like it was meant for big things.
Unfortunately, the album “Best of Best: First Album” would be as good as it got for BB.Boys. The group disbanded a year later. The BB.Boys story does have a happy ending, however, as two of the members went on to join M.Pire, even if one did end up changing his stage name in the process.
Now this is a K-pop act that lived up to its name. It began with kisses all round thanks to the wonderful January 2014 debut track “Domino Game:”
– a festival of sexiness, powerful vocals and near-perfect production. The group also recorded this audio gem:
But it all turned to tears in September the same year when the group announced that it had disbanded “against its wishes.” Almost certainly, the group’s members will be back in the world of K-pop in various forms, but as a foursome they could have achieved so much more.
As a rule, I am not really a fan of ballad groups, but B.o.M recorded some tracks that put that rule to the test. The group made a strong debut in 2011 with the “Burning Rose” mini album, and its outstanding song “Dear Feelings Dear Heart” was rightly chosen as the lead track.
Other songs on the album, such as “Song for You” hinted that the boys could contribute much more to the K-pop world. The group returned later in the year with the single “Without You,” another decent track with a silky smooth spoken-word breakdown.
But that was about it for the group. Two years later they announced their breakup, stunning ballad enthusiasts. The silver lining is that a few of the members have remained on the K-pop scene, not least Song Minho, who went on to join chart-topping boy band WINNER.
What a pity. Many disliked M.O.A’s February 2014 debut track “I’ll Call Ya.” To be fair, they had plenty of reasons. The song was under-produced, and the music video was of such a low quality that KBS refused to play it (check it out below if you must).
But you could tell from the girls’ music show performances during the promotion the track that they had potential – they were good dancers with a strong visual element. And crucially, they obviously had bags and bags of energy, the quality that girl groups who perform dance music need to have in spades. The sophomore single “Run for Your Dream” in March 2014 was a step in the right direction, although the track still suffered from a few, quite glaring, production issues.
All was not lost, however. It was clear the girls were on a curve of progression, and you felt sure that they would strike it lucky with their third release. About four weeks later, though, the group’s Twitter page vanished, along with all traces of the group.
I may get flayed for including this act, as I am sure that many people consider Simon D’s solo work or his work with Jay Park on the AOMG project to be superior to his Supreme Team work. But personally I have a lot of time for Supreme Team. E-Sens is a talented performer, and the two stars had a lot of chemistry together.
“Supermagic” is still one of the best Korean hip-hop tracks that anyone has ever put out there, and the K-pop world could have done with a few more Supreme Team albums before the duo called it a day.
Maybe the saddest story on this list, Bob Girls were forced to break up earlier this year after member Jina was diagnosed with encephalitis. The Chrome Entertainment girl group dropped a very strong debut with the song “No Way” in June last year.
Much was expected from the act, who quickly outgrew their moniker as “Crayon Pop’s younger sister group.” Even after on two songs, the foursome proved that they had more than enough potential to step out of the shadow of Chrome’s flagship group. But it wasn’t to be for Bob Girls, and all four members have since been released from their contracts at the talent agency.
Sometimes efforts to please everyone at once fall flat. Co-ed groups have come and gone in K-pop, with fairly limited success, and no group embodies this more than F1rst. Trying to mix the best of both worlds – a group that can appeal to boy band and girl group fans at the same time – usually sees neither group of fans particularly impressed. However, F1rst could have changed all that. They were insanely talented (I actually got the chance to see them live shortly after their debut, and they electrified the small but captivated crowd). They were also equipped with some very decent upbeat dance numbers like this:
They really deserved so much more than becoming what they have – a mere footnote in the annals of K-pop.
Possibly not the best of names for a girl group, H.A.M was short for Hearts and Minds, on reflection one of the less ludicrous acronyms in K-pop. The four members of H.A.M actually got off to a flying start in 2009 with the slightly gimmicky, but nonetheless catchy “T.T Dance.”
It was a song that put the girls firmly on the K-pop map. Unfortunately, instead of capitalizing on this initial popularity, H.A.M’s management seemed to hum and haw about the group’s next move. The group suddenly reappeared in late 2010 as a three-piece, releasing the outstanding “So Sexy.”
H.A.M really seemed to have found a new, mature, dance-driven sound that showcased the group’s vocal talents. They went one better the next year, dropping “Lower Your Sights,” by far their best song yet.
And then, when it looked like they were about to carve out a unique niche as K-pop’s leading female three-piece act, they promptly vanished without a trace, never to be heard from again.
You’ve read our list, Soompiers, now have your say! Which now-defunct K-pop groups have left you wishing for more? Let us know in the comments below.
timmydee is a music geek with a penchant for pop, an enthusiasm for electonica and a hankering for hip-hop. When he isn’t writing for Soompi, he is remixing your favorite K-pop tracks – with sometimes astounding (but often catastrophic) results.