Controversial girl group T-ara is looking for a fresh start to return to the top of the charts with a new splinter group called T-ara N4. The group’s name is said to be shortened from “T-ara Brand New 4.” Featuring members Ji Yeon, Eun Jung, Hyo Min and Areum, the sub-unit group’s new single “Countryside Life” (referred to as “Jeon Won Diary” in Korea and on the K-Pop Hot 100. The easier-to-digest title for Westerners with “Countryside Life” is taken from the single’s EP title.) is their first attempt to return to the public’s good graces after a major controversy when member Hwayoung’s contract was terminated.
Who’s the best example of a major success in K-pop? PSY of course! It’s rumored that label Core Contents Media recruited the “Gangnam Style” music video director, Jo Soo Hyun, for their new visual. The clues are there as the video is fun, colorful and features several fun, easy-to-copy dances to go along with the video. Although, T-ara N4 kicks it up a notch as the dances are quite physically demanding and, for the most part, do not stop.
But, it wasn’t just a music video that led to PSY topping Billboard’s Digital Songs Chart for several weeks. “Gangnam Style,” first and foremost, was a hit song. The track had elements of LMFAO’s energetic EDM-pop in No. 1s “Sexy and I Know It” and “Party Rock Anthem.” The featured rapper even sounds like he could be Red Foo or Sky Blu when he shouts “Party people!” at the first beat drop.
T-ara N4 plays close to this template with a similarly spastic build-up before the beat drops. But the unit incorporates many other trendy elements into their song, such as showcasing a raging saxophone riff–heard in songs including Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” or Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”–though T-ara N4 uses the instrument much more prominently. As well, there’s an accordion-like sound similar to Edward Maya and Vika Jigulina’s international dance hit “Stereo Love” that echoes throughout the track.
All in all, Core Contents Media seems to be putting everything into this unit, undoubtedly hoping for a “brand new” outlook for their once top-tier (and major money-making) artist T-ara. “Countryside Life” has all the elements of a hit, but will the splinter group go No. 1 on the K-Pop Hot 100? Before member Hwayoung left the group, T-ara already had two No. 1s. With this updated quartet, it’s possible the public may forget about the past and focus on the hit they’ve clearly created. In any case, it’s one of this year’s K-pop tracks with the highest crossover appeal.
Watch the dance version of “Countryside Life” above and the “drama” version below.