Every Wonder Girls Single Ranked From Worst to Best: Critic's Take
With the release of "Draw Me," a K-pop dynasty came to an end.
With the release of “Draw Me” on Thursday (Feb. 9), K-pop’s retro darlings Wonder Girls came to a final end. The bittersweet single served both as a farewell song from the girl group and a celebratory track to commemorate their 10th anniversary. While “Draw Me” is a sentimental rock ballad, it’s significantly different from most of Wonder Girls’ singles and raises the question of which sonic style worked best for the pioneering girl group over the years.
For the first part of their career, Wonder Girls favored nostalgia-inducing dance tracks and then in 2015 switched to band-oriented music. While they had several B-sides turned into singles (like “This Fool,” “Me,In” and “R.E.A.L”) and many great B-sides (shout-out to “Faded Love” and “To the Beautiful You”), it was 12 singles that propelled their career. So now that they’ve officially come to an end, it’s time to revisit the best and worst of Wonder Girls.
Read on for Billboard's ranking of every Wonder Girls single:
12. “The DJ Is Mine” (2012)
The song was created for the Wonder Girls’ TeenNick movie, when they were trying to make it big in the U.S. and, unfortunately, isn’t the girls at their best. Starting off from the dubstep intro, “The DJ Is Mine” didn’t really match the girl group that had built their reputation on pop tracks that reinvigorated the sound of yesteryear. The song morphed into an electro-pop number that utilized heavy Auto-Tune, before returning to that dubstep sound for Yubin’s rap bridge. It was so anachronistic from what Wonder Girls had been doing until that point that “The DJ Is Mine” wasn’t really the break-into-America single that it could have been.
11. “2 Different Tears” (2010)
Their first post-”Nobody” single tried to revive Wonder Girls’ retro styling with this disco-inspired track, which they released in both English and Korean. But after a promising piano-based, soulful opening verse, the song shifts to a rather messy dance track that tries really hard but falls flat after being flooded with digital beats and pulsing synths that just make the song’s composition come off as overwhelming. It was also, notably, the first song with member Hyelim after Sunmi left the group. (She returned in 2015, after members Sunye and Sohee left the band.)
10. “Like Money” feat. Akon (2012)
Another English single that broke away from their typical sound, “Like Money” struggled with Wonder Girls’ desire to dominate the American music market and didn’t really fit into the band’s artistic style. Like “The DJ Is Mine,” “Like Money” was an electro-pop single infused with dubstep, but it didn’t suffer as much from saccharine banality. Instead, it featured Wonder Girls as the power vocalists that they are thanks to the song’s blaring melody. Though its composition was a bit awkward with a lengthy bridge from Yubin and featured artist Akon, “Like Money” was Wonder Girls at their most confident.
9. “Irony” (2007)
K-pop debut singles are typically something to look at fondly, but not to necessarily listen to on repeat years down the line. “Irony” is pretty dated with its R&B-pop styling and redundant beat, but the sleek, hook-filled chorus was filled with promise. Plus it’s the only Wonder Girls single that was promoted with original member HyunA.
8. “Like This” (2012)
The simple, repetitive clapping rhythm and the continuous synth whirring of “Like This” worked and felt very Wonder Girls, but it didn’t really have anything going for it except being ridiculously, perhaps irritatingly, catchy. While it featured some great vocal runs, “Like This” suffered from trying to be nothing more than a viral phenomena with an addictive chorus, which it definitely was.
7. “So Hot” (2008)
Fresh off the success of “Tell Me,” “So Hot” was the group’s comical response to their sudden fame. The synthy song and its catchy “so hot hot” chorus went viral upon its release and proved that Wonder Girls weren’t just a one hit wonder with a capital W. It may not have aged well, but the campy single is a K-pop classic.
6. “Draw Me” (2017)
Their newest, and final, single, is a sweet rock ballad that equates their career to a painting that began with a blank canvas. Tinkling synths add a dreamy feel to the simple tune, and mellow raps from Yubin and Hyelim draw it together. Co-written by Yeeun and Yubin, the melancholic melody and sweet vocals featured in “Draw Me” are a touching bookend to Wonder Girls’ iconic career.
5. “Be My Baby” (2011)
More of a straight up motown pop song than many of their other post-2010 tracks, the frollicking “Be My Baby” featured vibrant clapping beats and soaring synths that made it impossible to ignore. The addictive chorus with its crooning pleas is so stereotypically Wonder Girls that “Be My Baby” reinvigorated life into the group after their overseas absence and the rather lackluster “2 Different Tears.”
4. “Tell Me” (2008)
No other song affected Wonder Girls’ career as much as the ‘80s-inspired “Tell Me,” which went went viral as YouTube was just beginning out and resulted in a dance craze in South Korea based around the single’s easy-to-learn choreography and Sohee’s meme-worthy exclamation of “omona!” (“oh my gosh!”) during the chorus. The song’s propulsive beats don’t really stand up to the test of time, but the electropop chorus lives on as a K-pop legend. (“Tell Me” was also notably the first single to feature rapper Yubin, completing what would go on to become the group’s most prominent lineup along with members Yeeun, Sunmi, Sunye, and Sohee.)
3. “Why So Lonely” (2016)
The psychedelic track was one of the best songs in Korea last year with its blend of ‘70s rock and reggae. The mellow lyrics and mid-tempo rhythm had the perfect beachy feel for a summer song, and “Why So Lonely” ended up becoming one of the biggest hits in South Korea last year. The song was so radically different from what Wonder Girls had been before that it appeared to signal a major shift in direction away from synthpop but ultimately became their final single prior to announcing their break-up.
2. “Nobody” (2009)
The group’s representative song “Nobody” came on the heels of their successes with “Tell Me” and “So Hot” and had an undeniable impact on the Wonder Girls’ career, and K-pop in general. It revived the industry with a modern update to old school sounds that drew on Motown and the disco era for inspiration, which resulted in the single becoming one of the most popular Korean songs ever. “Nobody” was the first K-pop song to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 76 in 2008, resulting in the girl group heading stateside to try and break into the music market here. While their efforts ended up seeing few results, aside from the Wonder Girls touring with the Jonas Brothers and starring in their own TeenNick movie, “Nobody” and its addicting chorus was one of the first K-pop songs to bring the genre to the United States. The song was still a major, career-defining hit, and by the time the "Nobody" crazy had died down, Wonder Girls had recorded the song in Korean, English, Japanese, and Mandarin.
1. “I Feel You” (2015)
After member changes and three years out of the limelight, Wonder Girls returned in 2015 with a new, four-member lineup and a song that shook-up their career in the best way possible. “I Feel You” was a transformative song for Wonder Girls as the group went from a dance team to a band. Although it took until their 2016 single for the members to fully participate in the instrumentals on their music, Wonder Girls' 2015 album Reboot was one of the best K-pop albums we've seen in years. The song mimicked ‘80s synthpop in both sound and visual style and was released alongside a music video that took place in 1987.
The sophisticated “I Feel You” featured sultry vocals and twinkling synths that modernized the sound of the '80s without feeling too cheesy. Compared to their earlier retro-infused singles, “I Feel You” was miles ahead of the curve and proved that Wonder Girls were not only still relevant to the K-pop industry, but that were true leaders of the genre.