It would not be a stretch to say K-pop girl group Girl's Day has had their share of setbacks. The group, which originally started with five members, have suffered from three lineup changes -- including two members leaving shortly after their first single -- to the point that the current four member lineup only comprised of two original members. Understandably, finding their footing in K-pop took longer than expected. This could also be attributed to Girl's Day being the first artist for their agency, Dream Tea Entertainment, who debuted a new female duo, Jevice, last year.
Yet, in their third year on the K-pop scene, Girl's Day seem to have finally hit their stride by shaking up their usual sweet, cute look for a sexy, Lolita concept with the "Expectation" album and its accompanying title track.
Girl's Day singles like “Twinkle Twinkle”  and their latest, “Don't Forget Me,”  sounded like they could be pulled off by strong, sexy femme fatales, but they were always instead presented with loads of sweet, cute, innocent looks (aka “aegyo” in K-pop terms). The pre-release buzz single "White Day" (below) released for the "Expectation" album was a sugary pop/R&B ballad that seemed to indicate Girl's Day would continue down their aegyo-loaded path for their full-length.
Perhaps that’s why “Expectation” is so striking -- it’s not at all what K-pop fans expected. While moving from cute to sexy concepts is no innovative move in K-pop (acts like Brown Eyed Girls, After School, SISTAR and HyunA have perfected the transition), Girl's Day seemed absolutely adamant about their look. Even with slick productions in singles like “Oh! My God!”  “Hug Me Once”  and the aforementioned singles could have been pulled off with slick, sexified concepts, but they were given mostly innocent and cutesy images. “Expectation” is, no doubt about it, sexy.
The track itself begins with whooshing synthesizers (like most Girl's Day singles) with the ladies singing “oohs” that could have easily led to another “Twinkle Twinkle” type hit. But the verse production changes to a beat reminiscent to Nicki Minaj’s “Pound The Alarm.”  If anyone has seen the video to the femcee’s single, one knows it as unabashedly explicit in its sexiness--a seemingly perfect song to base a sexy debut with. On the verses, the girls’ voice jump from middle to upper register giving a fascinating delivery over the mainstream, electro-pop beat. A highlight in the song comes in the bridge where the song changes key as the group combines a rising, key-shifting wail with a repeating robotic phrase. A unique way to change keys before the explosive final chorus.
The music video is another juicy point of analysis as the girls transform into fierce women -- a 180 from the innocent, collegiate look fans last saw in “Don’t Forget Me.” The girls' hair colors are striking with bold reds, black and browns diversifying each girl more than their softer shades. The choreography is undoubtedly the most controversial part of this release -- showcasing different moves that emphasize the private lady parts. Despite its sexy nature, the dancing is much more cohesive than their last single that saw the girls at one point hit random poses. (See a live performance on SBS' Inkigayo here )
Like the cohesive choreography and look of “Expectation” the single, the new tracks on the album also indicate growth from Girl’s Day. “I Don’t Mind” is an excellent, 90’s-inspired R&B ballad (below) while “Easy Go”  is a slice of racing electro-pop with an energetic, repetitive chorus and fast-paced verse section. Other tracks show fearless attempts to combine genres with “Don’t Trust Her”  blending bubblegum pop, anthemic sounds, tribal beats and current electro-pop with “Oh! Great” mixing “Dance Dance Revolution”-like energy with modern EDM. Along with Girl’s Day’s sweet harmonies and, at times, powerful vocals makes for a very enjoyable album experience for all music fans.
While Girl’s Day may find extra interest in their music due to their drastic and alluring change, it is definitely a change that showed cohesiveness and an openness to embracing new styles in both music and concept. If anyone thought Girl’s Day was a one-act, aegyo-filled group, think again! Looks like there is a lot more to still be seen from these four girls; it just look a little longer to see than usual.
- K-Town