Madonna, Rihanna, Beyonce, Christina, Shakira… the top divas of the West all ooze sex appeal and confidence. The same is not true in South Korea as most top acts have an almost-unbelievable spotless record, sparkling charm and whole-hearted innocence. While K-pop stars display loads of sexiness, it tends to be modest than sexualized, cute over raunchy, innocent over dirty.
This week’s K-Pop Hot 100 has three songs in the Top 20 all about bad girls. Lee Hyori’s former No. 1 “Bad Girls” sits at No. 3 this week while Bumkey’s new hit “Bad Girl” shoots to No. 4. CL of 2NE1 made international waves with her debut solo track “The Baddest Female” at No. 20 this week.
There are some stars who just want to be bad and flawlessly pull off the role. Spanning decades of Korean pop, take a look at the ten baddest chicks in the game. While they can still rock the cutesy concepts these ladies are best bad.
In no particular order, K-Town brings you the 10 “Baddest Females” in K-pop.
In case anyone forgot Lee Hyori was a badass female after 10 years in the business, she reminded them by naming her comeback single “Bad Girls.” The bold single going No. 1 on the K-Pop Hot 100 solidified her slot as one of K-pop’s top divas. While her new material dabbles with a soul/jazz-pop sound, the music videos are filled with confident sass as she plays a sexy criminal in “Bad Girl” and pokes fun at beauty queens in “Miss Korea.” Longtime K-pop fans will remember her fierceness seen like when she stripped in a car in 2006’s “Get Ya” or as a badass space invader in 2010’s “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (below).
As a member of Brown Eyed Girls, Narsha rocked her way through femme fatale-inspired concepts like the sexually-charged “Abracadabra” and battle-themed “Sixth Sense,” along with her band mates. But Narsha doubled the spunk as a solo artist. The different looks, wigs and crazy faces she rocks in videos like “Mamma Mia” and “Bbi Ri Bba Bba” (below) rival Lady Gaga.
The “Gangnam Style” co-star and 4minute member has always been one of the most-confident K-pop performers. From breaking it down in her debut solo single “Change” to her suggestive “Ice Cream” single to the “Bubble Pop!” video and choreography (below) getting banned in Korea for its raciness, HyunA has always been shameless. And the public responds: a 21-second teaser clip for her “Ice Cream” video has earned over five million views!
Kim Wan Sun
In 1986, a 17-year-old Kim Wan Sun debuted on the K-pop scene and has since left a legacy leaving some to call her the Madonna of South Korea. Similar to Madge, Kim never heavily relied on her vocals but instead used sexy dance to keep viewers (and critics) talking. While she eventually gained further respect for polishing her vocals (as did Madonna), her legacy remains as a dance artist paving the way for similar dance-inspired divas like Ivy and Baek Ji-Young. Check out one of the original bad girls in a classic live performance from 1987.
Compared to most K-pop idols, Kahi was a late bloomer — but always fierce. The 32 year old started her K-pop career in 2009 as the leader of successful girl group After School. The outfit hit the scene billed as the Asian Pussycat Dolls as Kahi led them through different images and performance stages like tap dancing and drum lines. Kahi released a solo EP in 2011 led by the EDM-ballad hybrid “Come Back You Bad Person” (below) giving her the limelight to show off her spirited rapping and dance skills. She has since graduated from After School (the group has an admission/graduation concept) and many anticipate a strong solo debut from her this year.
NEXT PAGE: FIVE MORE BAD GIRLS
2NE1 has always been a bold girl group in the K-pop market made up by the young Minzy, beautiful Bom and adorable Dara leaving the ultimate boldness to come from its leader, CL. The outfit’s live shows have always seen CL wile out (hundreds of thousands watched her lead 2NE1 at Psy’s “Happening” concert in April) and May saw CL taking the stage solo declaring herself “The Baddest Female” in her debut single. She can rap in English (see will.i.am’s “Gettin’ Dumb”) and Korean (made clear in 2NE1’s debut single “Fire”). Plus, is there any performer (male or female) that can break it down with a parrot on their shoulder?
Uhm Jung Hwa
If Kim Wan Sun was the controversial diva to arise from the 80s, Uhm Jung Hwa would be her predecessor for the 90s. She’s been one of the most successful female acts in K-pop and did so on her terms. She pushed her legacy by dabbling in different genres (including electronic in the early 00s and teaming up with BIGBANG members T.O.P. and G-Dragon for a fresh sound a few years later) and striking visuals. The music video to “Betrayal of the Rose” (below)–which makes suicide and sex allusions–is one of her most notable.
Min (of miss A)
Undoubtedly, the phrase “Dance like no one’s watching” would be the life motto for Min, the dancer/rapper in girl group miss A. But the 21-year-old South Korean usually has her whole country watching as well as the online K-pop fandom searching her on YouTube. She can open her legs to a 180 degree angle standing, do the splits and she knows how to slap a man who’s done wrong. Check out a fanmade compilation of some of best (and craziest) moves from Korean reality TV below.
Born in Fort Hood, TX, Yoon Mirae helped usher the once-absent hip hop genre to South Korea in the late 90s/early 00s. She was a part of the group Uptown (with hits like “Olla Olla” and “Let’s Meet Up Again”) and has gone on to successful solo work all with her fierce signature spit skills. She has a mind-blowingly fast delivery in both English (heard on a remix to Far East Movement and Justin Bieber’s “Live My Life”) and Korean (watch her nail a medley of her biggest hits here). Check out 2011 single “Get It In” here:
Hyoyeon (of Girls’ Generation)
Girls’ Generation have gone through all types of concepts from sugary-sweet “Gee” to collegiate cuties in “Oh!” to cyber femme fatales in “Flower Power.” But the outfit’s dancer/rapper Hyoyeon always has a certain level of spunk to her even if she doesn’t have the most lines. Her label, SM Entertainment, must have picked up on this as they placed her as the sole female in the agency’s first dance unit Younique. Just like the aforementioned nine ladies, it takes one of the baddest females to represent the women among other top idols.