T-ARA (티아라) is a South Korean girl group – consisting of Boram, Eunjung, Hwayoung, Hyomin, Jiyeon, Qri and Soyeon – which debuted in 2009. Under the management of Core Contents Media, T-ARA has been steadily gaining popularity in South Korea, Japan, and in Asia; naturally, the seven girls are establishing themselves as a vocal-dance powerhouse, and a strong force to be reckoned with. They have won the Newcomer Award (Golden Disk Awards, 2009), Best New Artist Award (Seoul Music Awards, 2010), Most Influential Artist (Mnet 20′s Choice Awards, 2010), Bonsang Award (Melon Music Awards, 2010) and the Diamond Award (Asia Jewelry Awards, 2011).
There are many other reasons that make T-ARA stand out from their counterparts, and this explains the creation of this personal fan-page. I would love for more to know about them, listen to their music (watch their videos), and appreciate their amazing talents. 1. They are more than a singing-dancing girl group. Besides their commitment to performances, concerts and musical showcases, T-ARA’s members participate actively in an assortment of variety shows, where their quirky personalities and off-screen antics are revealed. The group has “T-ARA World“, “T-ARA Dot Com“, “T-ARA Hello Baby” and “T-ARA Dream Girls“, but individual members have been on different shows: Hyomin was on “Invincible Youth“, Jiyeon on “SBS Heroes“, and Soyeon on “Oh! My School“.
2. Movies and television productions? No worries. With a background in acting, Eunjung and Jiyeon have been juggling acting commitments with their singing-dancing routines within the group. The former was in dramas “Coffee House” and “Dream High“, as well as the movie “White“; while the latter acted in television drama “Master of Study” and the movie “Death Bell: Bloody Camp“. Over the years, the other T-ARA girls also have had their fair share of filmography too (Hyomin in “Gisaeng Ryung“, and Qri in “King Geunchogo“).
3. Breaking new ground with their music videos. While the usual girl group music video features minimal plot-lines and places heavy emphasis upon dance moves and choreographed routines (typically behind rotating sets or backdrops), T-ARA has been forthcoming with their music video experimentation. Alongside the Brown Eyed Girls, T-ARA’s videos are interesting and engaging. From the split-screen “Time To Love” to the mini-movie “Cry Cry“, the harmony between song and video is breathtaking.
4. Rotational leadership. This is one aspect of T-ARA that I appreciate the most; in essence, giving every girl the chance to lead the group progressively, and learn important teamwork skills along the way. It is a form of empowerment that is very integral in the entertainment industry, because the leader has to skilfully navigate through the expectations from the media, and interactions with a host of stakeholders. It helps the girls mature (also prepares them for their future endeavours), and gives fans a different look at the group each time round.
5. Musical substance and diversity. As you will hear for yourself (in the following discography section), there is strong musical substance and diversity in the tracks released by T-ARA. The difference in styles and execution – from catchy hook-songs like “Bo Peep Bo Peep” and “Roly Poly” to emotional ballads like “Lies” – caters to a wide range of audience. Strong, consistent album and single sales are a testament to the quality of the tracks, especially if one takes into account the fact that T-ARA does not have an official fan-club or following (which should be looked into).
6. Approachability. This trait is especially evident if one watches the reality shows or programmes featuring all of them together in different settings; some might contend that scenes may have been rehearsed for the desired effect, but it is not easy to artificially produce the camaraderie and friendship exhibited. T-ARA does not have the popularity of a couple of other girl groups (primarily because CCM is not one of the Big Three South Korean entertainment groups), but has been making tremendous in-roads with their talents and perceived approachability.
7. Hyomin. Need I elaborate further?
Click on the picture thumbnails to listen to a preview of the individual tracks (on YouTube)!
Cry Cry. Though not strictly a ballad (there is an alternate version available), the song was widely-considered to be a breath of fresh fair in the South Korean music industry, especially within the sphere of girl groups. There had been a plethora of dance tracks released by the aforementioned, and “Cry Cry” managed to position itself strategically to appeal to a greater variety of audience. Not just another love song, it was complemented brilliantly with a fifteen-minute music video, starring actor Cha Seung Won.
Good Person. The soundtrack for the drama “Cinderella Man”, this song featured former members Jiwon and Jiae, who left T-ARA in June 2009 (the group was officially complete after the addition of Boram, Qri and Soyeon later in the same year). Regardless of the singers who participated in the recording or production of this song, many would agree that it is outstanding: crisp vocals, great sense of drama and emotions, and all the voices blend together extremely nicely (fantastic backing as well, particularly at the chorus).
거짓말 (Lies). T-ARA’s official debut song. Although this single did not gain critical acclaim in terms of the overall volume sales (neither did is sky-rocket them into fame right away), it showcased the group’s – affectionately publicised as “super rookies” for the amount of training invested prior to the girls’ debut – vocal talents. The song talks about how a guy has overwhelmed a girl with lies, and the melody of the ballad is naturally emotional and almost heart-wrenching.
TTL (Time To Love). As a collaboration with boy band 초신성 (Supernova), this can be considered as T-ARA’s first hit single in South Korea (the project did not, however, involve Boram and Qri vocally). The chorus and bridge parts sung by the girls are melodious and addictive, while the raps from Supernova provide good backgrounds. They also experimented with a different concept for the music video, employing a split-screen projection in-between the singing and dancing for the playing out of the song’s lyrics.
너 때문에 미쳐 (I Go Crazy Because Of You). This song could be considered as a “hook song” (see above and below), but the music video has the girls prancing around with powerful dance moves and exciting choreography. The crazed, passionate (almost obsessive) nature of the lyrics suits very well with the pace of this dance track, and the performances bring this out smoothly. Not one of T-ARA’s best in my opinion, but it features a strong rap interval from the girls, which makes the song a little more special.
내가 너무 아파 (I’m Really Hurt). The track is very mellow, jazzy, but also very groovy; which makes it easy to sway and dance to. There are three different versions of the music video, all of them largely similar in terms of the backdrop and sets (honestly, as a fan, I did not really comprehend the concept behind the videos). Nonetheless, if you are looking to identify the T-ARA girls, this is a good place to start (like I did), because the other video productions change scenes in a split second.
처음처럼 (Like The First Time). The song’s lyrics can be interpreted as being mildly sexual in nature (the title “Like The First Time” in itself is quite suggestive), but the music video does present a more innocent and pure image. In general, the track shows-off a more sexy and mature side of T-ARA, and is a very different form of “dance track”. Like “내가 너무 아파 (I’m Really Hurt)“, there is a degree of jazz and groove in the song (along with catchy dance moves), which makes one feel like moving along too.
놀아볼래 (Wanna Play?). One of the most underrated songs (from T-ARA’s debut single), though one could contend that the amazing chorus has been overshadowed by the excessive rap and auto-tune in the verses. As a track, overall, it provided a strong and fitting contrast to ”거짓말 (Lies)” (highlighting the dance and up-tempo aspect). The words are very simple and to-the-point, though I believe T-ARA could have converted more individuals earlier on if a better version was produced.
Bo Peep Bo Peep. While the song’s lyrics are not exactly the most meaningful (basically asking a guy – supposedly – to get back together with her), the song is catchy, and the tune memorable. There is consistent repetition of the “Bo Peep Bo Peep” phrase (from an English language nursery rhyme), and the track is overall considerably groovy. It was a huge hit when it was released in 2009, and was widely parodied and performed by other celebrities on music or variety shows.
롤리폴리 (Roly Poly). The single was positively-received when it was released in 2011; many praised it for the disco theme, and the nostalgic emphasis on elements – from the music video dance stage and performance sets, style to the costumes – which increased T-ARA’s accessibility across generations. Essentially a love song, it makes a lyrical reference to the roly-poly toy (“even if you push me away, I’m going to come back to you“). 롤리폴리 in 코파카바나 (Roly Poly in Copacabana) is available here.
왜 이러니 (Why Are You Being Like This?). To accompany its catchy chorus, the T-ARA girls perform a straightforward (yet unique) routine that propelled them to further fame (not to mention, the music video is both classy and elegant). As with many other tracks, as inferred from the title, the song is about a girl attempting to start a relationship; nonetheless, the contents is far from the emphasis. The “Temptastic” album, with this song and “야야야 (yayaya)“, was the first to feature Hwayoung as a new member.
야야야 (yayaya). Even though this track was widely-criticised for its nonsensical lyrics (about a girl having a crush on a guy) and the heavy use of auto-tune, the associated dance moves were received quite well. Even though it did not reach the critical success of its other hook songs, a number of fans remain attracted to the rhythmic progression of the song, and showcases another unique dimension of the T-ARA girls that is celebrated by many of their listeners.
Log-In. This song was a “Public Service Announcement” released in 2011, produced in conjunction with South Korean television and radio network SBS and sports clothing company JDX, in aid of flood victims in the country. The song is simple, upbeat and refreshing, but also simultaneously highlights the commendable singing-vocal abilities of the T-ARA girls. The track is a call-to-action (as implied by the title itself), and is – at the same time – a love song.
원더우먼 (Wonder Woman). This was a collaboration with 다비치 (Davichi) and 씨야 (SeeYa), given that these girl groups were under the same management, and only involved Eunjung and Hyomin. Previously, Jiyeon had – prior to T-ARA’s debut – featured in “Forever Love” and “Women’s Generation” with the same singing girl groups. The song “Wonder Woman“, as the name suggests, places strong emphasis upon female empowerment, and the value of true friendship between women.