Without a doubt, Wonder Girls are one of K-pop’s most beloved acts, helping spread the scene far beyond South Korea. But since their hiatus early last year, fans have been hungry for news from the members — all five staying mostly quiet on the music front.
But one of the quintet’s top vocalists and songwriters, Yenny, broke the silence Wednesday (July 30) reinventing herself as the soloist HA:TFELT. According to a teaser video, the 25-year-old’s pseudonym is an adjective that combines the words “heartfelt” and “hot.” It’s a rather Prince move from the esteemed star, but a clear endeavor to separate herself from her idol past and be seen as the woman singing, co-composing and co-writing all the tracks on her debut EP, Me?
HA:TFELT’s first single, “Ain’t Nobody” (which may or may not be a slight jab at one of Wonder Girls’ biggest hits “Nobody,” which broke into the Hot 100), is an intense introduction to the new Yenny. The track opens with simple piano and subtle percussion backing the singer’s soft delivery. But like a sonic shot of Everclear, the track’s quiet tone bolts into a loud, hard-hitting dubstep chorus with screeching synths and wub-wubs featuring Yenny’s voice jumping from chesty belts to fluttery high notes. But just like that, the fiery chorus glides into a brilliant trap breakdown with the rest of the track moving from section to section with different electronic embellishments.
Wonder Girls Nostalgia
The quick jumping of genres and vocal stylings are extremely reminiscent of Sia’s brilliant hit “Chandelier,” which has found its way onto radio and into listeners’ hearts despite (or because of) its wild vocal runs. Appropriately enough, both Sia and Yenny wrote their respective singles, making their performances all the more personal and special.
Another Sia comparison comes in the “Ain’t Nobody” video, which sees Yenny dancing out her emotions as her guy chooses another woman over her. Like the interpretive dance from “Dance Moms” star Maddie Ziegler in “Chandelier,” Yenny gorgeously spins, falls and twirls with her free-form choreography, which takes her from an apartment to the New York City streets and a building stairwell.
Ultimately, HA:TFELT shows Yenny taking risks with her music and image. The Usher fanatic could have come back with a safe pop tune or ballad, but she chose an intense, genre-defying creation. She could have prepared a fun dance routine, but she went for freestyle choreography. Yenny could have even shied away from the dubstep — it’s been a part of K-pop for years now — but the decision ends up adding an intensity to Yenny’s emotional belts, presumably an artistic decision.