It wasn’t just PSY who gained major global recognition with “Gangnam Style.” His female-co star, K-pop singer HyunA of girl group 4minute, also received an untold amount of exposure. It’s led to millions viewing her music videos (summer single “Ice Cream” has 42 million on YouTube), covering magazines in English-speaking territories (like sharing a cover with Taylor Swift for UK’s POP mag), and interest from U.S. record labels (as she told Billboard in one of her rare interviews).
But a new girl group member looks poised to own the international spotlight as with Ga In, of Brown Eyed Girls, co-starring in PSY’s new music video for “Gentleman.” Choosing her as his co-star is appropriate for the clip as its choreography is based around the famous hip-swinging dance moves from her group’s 2009 hit “Abracadabra.” (More on that later) Check out highlights of Ga In’s career below.
Brown Eyed Girls are a unique group in K-pop as they were made organically — with the members forming on their own, rather than through an agency. Ga In was the last member added to the quartet after an impressive audition for a reality singing competition. While it was unsuccessful for the program, a Korean producer connected her with the three members — JeA, Miryo and Narsha — to complete their lineup.
Despite the sexual nature Ga In portrays in the video, those unfamiliar may be surprised to hear Brown Eyed Girls originally debuted in 2006 without revealing their looks — to let the music speak for itself. At the time, Brown Eyed Girls specialized in R&B ballads which showcased their talents, but did not lead to huge success. Their major breakout came after they dabbled with of-the-moment musical trends with 2008 singles like “LOVE,” “How Come,”and with the mid-2009 release, “Abracadabra.”
Now, a heavier emphasis was placed on the girls’ image with a sexually-charged, titillating music video from plotline to choreography. The subtle, sexy, hip dance featured in the video caused some clamor in South Korea at the time, but ultimately led the girls to a major hit and now, an iconic dance.
Brown Eyed Girls continued their electro-pop streak, and controversial videos, with “Sign.” In one jarring scene, Ga In is shown drowning in a tank of water. While the track was a hit, it did not live up to the level of success of “Abracadabra.” Instead of trying again, the group focused on oversea and individual projects.
As a solo singer, Ga In found major success in late 2010 with a tango-inspired concept with her single “Irreversible.”
She also gained notoriety with a duet with Jo Kwon, a member of 2AM, who was her partner in the popular reality show “We Got Married,” where Korean stars portray what being married to each other would be like, complete with tasks and emotionally-driven interviews. In their 15-month commitment, they teamed up for a duet track “We Fell In Love.” Ga In also dabbled in acting on a Korean sitcom before the release of Brown Eyed Girls’ fourth album.
In 2011, Ga In and her bandmates erased all worries that they would never live up to the success of “Abracadabra” with another game changing single: “Sixth Sense.” The song incorporated cinematic violins, a pounding beat, Pussycat Doll-like cooing and Mariah Carey-esque whistle notes. It was a major comeback (peaking at No. 2 on the K-Pop Hot 100 that was established in August 2011) for the girls and set them up nicely for more solo success.
Before she released her second mini-album in 2012, Ga In was chosen to collaborate in a rare duet with Park Jin-Young, a former solo singer and now the CEO of JYP Entertainment; home to Wonder Girls, 2PM, miss A and more. The song, “Someone Else,” peaked at No. 4 on the K-Pop Hot 100.
Chart success continued on the EP, “Talk About S,” with lead single “Bloom” peaking at No. 2. But with “Bloom” Ga In, once again, found herself swimming in a sea of controversy but this time with a new twist. The single detailed sexual awakening and the utter ecstasy that comes with giving oneself to their lover. Despite the blatant sexual imagery in the video, “Bloom” stood out as both a critical and commercial success. All five songs from the EP also charted on the K-Pop Hot 100.
Ga In brought the nature of the song with a sensual, dominating table dance used on music programs. The combination was another success.
She stayed relatively quiet for the rest of 2012, until reappearing with a new mini-album, “Romantic Spring,” in collaboration with reality singing competition contestant, Hyung-woo. The duo released a cute duet for the project’s lead single “Brunch” this month which has gotten off to a nice start at No. 36 on the K-Pop Hot 100 this week.
HyunA released her own version of “Gangnam Style” with PSY that’s garnered a staggering 336 million views, but has remained shy and reclusive during the song’s heyday. This is not an issue, just a choice, for the young singer. It will be interesting to see if Ga In, five years older than the 4minute star, uses the PSY platform to catapult herself and/or Brown Eyed Girls to higher international success.
Is Ga In set for global superstardom? Let us know your thoughts below!