K-pop girl group AOA became one of the first top-tier K-pop girl groups to release music in the new year when they released dual singles “Excuse Me” and “Bing Bing” on New Year’s Day (Jan. 2 in Korea).
After breaking out with a trio of hits in 2014, the group hit a rough patch in 2016, but came back strong with their first Korean studio album Angel’s Knock on Jan. 1, which debuted on the Billboard World Album chart at No. 5.
The song that started it all, “Elvis” was AOA’s very first single. The peppy tune set the girl group apart with their unique approach to K-pop: AOA was built as a hybrid band & dance group. When they promoted the song on Korean music shows, several members (known as subunit AOA Black in 2013) played the song alongside brass accompaniment before moving to join the rest of AOA to perform the choreography.
“Get Out” (2012)
While “Elvis” introduced AOA as a hybrid dance-band, “Get Out” was the act’s most successful attempt at incorporating flirty pop-rock into their music. Unsurprisingly, the bubblegum song is reminiscent of the upbeat style favored early on by labelmates FTISLAND and CNBLUE, thanks to its tapping rhythm and guitar riffs paired with excellent performances courtesy of lead vocalists Choa and Yuna. “Get Out” was AOA’s only single as a whole group to feature a band concept; drummer Yookyung formally departed from the act last year, after years of inactivity after the group shifted concepts to focus solely on dance music.
The sexy “Confused” was nestled in between AOA’s first experimental year and their breakout in 2014, slowing things down to a midtempo dance song. The smooth vocals and mellow pop hook foreshadowed what was to come. The group’s previous pop-rock style is heard in a more toned down variety, through the guitar & percussion-driven melody.
“Miniskirt,” “Short Hair,” “Like A Cat” (2014)
It’s practically impossible to separate the threesome that propelled AOA to their greatest heights. Beginning with “Miniskirt,” 2014 was dominated by the group’s hook-driven rhythmic-pop songs, all three of which were produced by frequent collaborator Brave Brothers.
The brassy sultriness of “Miniskirt,” and a controversial dance, propelled AOA the top of Korean music charts and the group followed up with two new singles that built off of the hit’s sound. Both of the follow-up tracks presented a different slant on the style first introduced in “Miniskirt”– “Short Hair” is decidedly groovy while “Like A Cat” features the boldest, most confident tone of the three– but the trilogy remains the basis of AOA’s musicality.
“Heart Attack” (2015)
A catchy chorus that pounds like a pulse is paired with the group’s fluttering vocals on “Heart Attack.” The electro-pop track never seems to come to a rest and instead flits between multiple distinct melodies. Jimin’s coquettish rap provides some necessary punch to the overwhelmingly upbeat tune. The success of “Heart Beat” landed the accompanying EP at No. 5 on the Billboard World Album chart, marking the first time AOA appeared on the chart.
“Give Me The Love” Feat. Takanori Nishikawa of T.M.Revolution (2016)
Their most recent Japanese single, “Give Me The Love,” teamed AOA up with popular Japanese singer Nishikawa. The pop track features dense production and is overflowing with quirky sound effects, including scratching synths and unique whistles that seem pulled straight out of a ‘60s western. Like AOA’s latest songs, the chanting, hook of a chorus makes “Give Me The Love” incredibly addictive.
“10 Seconds” (2016)
Although it wasn’t a single, “10 Seconds” stood out from last year’s Good Luck EP and showcased a softer side to a group known for their hypnotizing dance tracks. The dreamy track is a mid-tempo atmospheric slow burn that features shimmering synths that make “10 Seconds” feel like it was pulled straight from the ‘80s. The blended vocals of the seven members breaks from AOA’s typical style of emphasizing the distinct vocals of individual singers, resulting in their most refreshing sound in years.
“Excuse Me” (2017)
One of two singles recently released by AOA, “Excuse Me” fits right in the group’s wheelhouse of incredibly catchy, bouncing dancepop hits. Blending synthpop riffs with an addictive electro rhythm, the sleek track’s repetitive “Excuse Me” hook is balanced by restrained vocals and trap-infused raps.