The six-piece Kpop group have made a comeback with 'Fingertip'
GFriend’s fourth mini album The Awakening is out today.
GFriend, whose romanized Korean name is yeoja chingu, is a group that you would not have heard of three years ago. Ironically enough, it is now a name that can be considered household, with most people in South Korea, and even beyond, being very familiar with hearing. In the time since their debut in January 2015 to now, they have quickly risen to national and international acclaim, being praised on everything from their singing, dancing, acting and visuals. But what makes them so special, and why is it so significant they have risen to the top of the kpop charts so quickly?
For those who may be unfamiliar with the South Korean music industry (Although by this point, the Hallyu Wave is so large and far-reaching, I would be surprised should there be any reader with no knowledge of the country’s pop culture), groups, generally formed of either all-female or all-male members, debut by releasing their first song(s) under a particular music label after having been in training for up to years prior.
GFriend is no exception to this rule, having debuted on January 16th 2015 under music label Source Music, with their Extended Play Season of Glass, with the title track Glass Bead. The group, formed of the members Yuju, SinB, Eunha, Yerin, Sowon and Umji, can be seen smiling and dancing in school girl uniforms in the music video, with the lyrics brightly and cutely confessing their love. This was generally met with positive reviews, though commercially, the release couldn’t be considered a massive hit, with the single peaking at number 25 on one of the main South Korean music charts, Gaon Digital.
It was not until their next release 6 months later, Flower Bud EP, where they would shoot to stardom. A video surfaced of the girls performing the EP’s title track, Me Gustas Tu, on a rainy and slippery stage, with the girls falling over multiple times during the just under four minute duration of the song. The video, posted by YouTube user ‘Smile –wA-’, now has well over 12 million views and 70,000 likes. In spite of the lack of success of the performance, netizens were quick to defend and praise the girls, with many others asking after the member’s heath. One commenter wrote, “Man! To be able to finish the song even after all the falls, these girls are awesome,” whilst another commented, “I became [the] ultimate fan of GFriend after I watch[ed] this video. I hope they are all okay”.
Not only did the video garner domestic attention, pushing up Me Gustas Tu up almost 10 places on digital sales charts, but they also started to gain international attention. Non-South Korean outlets such as TIME, Billboard and NME wrote about the performance, with an online article of The Daily Mail Online describing them as ‘determined’.
It was no surprise then that the girl’s next release, and their first of 2016, would be an instant success. The title track, Rough, of their third EP, Snowflake, rocketing to number one in South Korean Charts. Four more of the EP’s tracks placed within the top 40 of South Korean music streaming charts. The seven-track EP peaked at number 2 in South Korea’s Gaon Digital album chart, and even placed at number 10 in Billboard’s US World Albums chart.
Predictably, their next release, LOL, was similarly well-received. The album has an almost 40-minute running time, and continues with their cute girl concept of their former releases. Again, the title track Navillera rocketed to number one. Between the singles Navillera and Rough, GFriend won 29 South Korean music shows (which reflect sales, streams, popularity scores and live voting), which is the most in any single year of any girl group – ever.
GFriend’s agency has, over the last week, released multiple teaser images and videos in the run up to GFriend’s next release, currently set to be the 6th of March. Whilst their previous videos have been seen to be cute and innocent, their new music video trailer can be seen to have switched the school uniforms for military outfits, with the short amount of choreography that has been shown seeming to incorporate gun imagery. The girls themselves more sultry expressions than prior, showing the growth, development and maturing of the image.
The comeback trailer and teaser for the music video, which were both posted on YouTube channels ‘1theK’ (a South Korean channel that posts many teasers and music videos of new or upcoming releases), as well as GFriend’s own YouTube channel, ‘GFRIEND OFFICIAL’, now have over 3 million combined views.
Whilst this change in group concept was not anticipated, the change seems to be working in GFriend’s favor, and online netizens are loving it.
One user wrote, “I really like how Gfriend is gradually changing concepts without changing their music style, they’re not just jumping from a concept to another. They are most certainly gonna do well.” Whilst I agree with this comment, the success of the group cannot be predicted in the rapidly-changing and competitive South Korean music industry. As a fan myself, I do hope that the release will be met with great success, but whether it does or doesn’t, it will still definitely be one to watch.
Watch GFriend’s new music video, Fingertip, below.