Usually, in the K-pop industry, entertainment labels and companies concentrate on forming three kinds of K-pop acts: boy bands, girl groups, and soloists. Boy groups are the most common because they are often the most popular K-pop acts in their respective labels. To help further prove this, EXO is the most popular K-pop act of SM Entertainment, Big Bang is the most popular K-pop act of YG Entertainment, and BTS is the only K-pop act of Big Hit Entertainment yet often ranked No. 1 or 2 as the most popular K-pop act overall. What do they have in common? They are all boy bands.
Girl groups usually follow behind boy bands and can at times stand out more than boy bands given the right promotions. Both Twice of JYP Entertainment and GFriend of Source Music stand out as the most popular K-pop acts under their respective labels. So Nyeo Shi Dae (SNSD), better known as Girls’ Generation, who are under SM Entertainment, is the most popular girl group in Hallyu history. Finally, soloists are often made from individuals in boy bands or girl groups, yet there are stand-alone musicians like IU, Ailee, and Ben.
However, the one K-pop act that seems to be lacking in attention is co-ed groups. These are groups consisting of both male and female characters. Take note, it was mentioned they are lacking in attention, but not lacking. In a fantastic op-ed by Brooke Nicole of Soompi, she explains how there are many co-ed groups in K-pop including Urban Zakapa, Clazziquai Project, Koyote, 8Eight, and MFBTY, but they do not get the same buzz as their single-gender or soloist counterparts. Oftentimes, they either fail (F1RST) or lose their co-ed status (Sunny Hill losing their sole male member Janghyun), or divide up into single-gender groups (Co-Ed School dividing into F-ve Dolls and Speed).
In short, K-pop doesn’t necessarily need more co-ed groups, just a higher acceptance of them from both fans and the industry. Ergo, it was a wonderful surprise to find out DSP Media would be forming a new co-ed group known as K.A.R.D. Now they just made their debut with a wicked debut single titled “Oh NaNa” which includes a very special fifth “hidden” member, Heo Youngji.
DSP Media made known the formation of K.A.R.D. with initial promotions on November 30 in their first teaser. In it, they showed the logo for the group though at the time, nobody knew they would be a co-ed group until the next day when the first two members, B.M and Jiwoo, were introduced. The next day after that, the other two members, J.seph and Somin, were introduced bringing the total to two boys and two girls. They would continue introducing the four members, pushing more promotions which included solo performances and their take on the popular internet trend, the Mannequin Challenge.
However, the biggest promotion K.A.R.D. had was the inclusion of a “hidden” member. According to DSP Media, this particular member is a wildcard per se as in any K-pop act can occupy the slot for whatever promotion K.A.R.D. is doing at the time. According to AllKpop, the “hidden” member for K.A.R.D.’s debut will be Heo Youngji, the “last member standing” of Kara before it disbanded.
Eventually, K.A.R.D. would make its debut on December 12 with their digital debut single song, “Oh NaNa.” The song is very catchy and has a retro-synth R&B vibe to it. Also as of the publication of this article, its music video has almost 500,000 views, which is not bad at all.
To be frank, DSP Media needs some good news pertaining to K-pop for 2016. Earlier this year, their veteran K-pop girl group Kara officially disbanded after Gyuri, Seungyeon and Hara chose not to renew their contracts with DSP Media. As for their other K-pop groups, A-Jax and April, they were constantly plagued with member lineup changes. Probably the only saving grace DSP Media had was Heo Youngji. After transitioning into a soloist for them, she had a breakout role as Yoon Ahn Na in the extremely popular Another Oh Hae Young. Not only that, she had numerous variety show hosting responsibilities and appearances too.
For K-pop fans, especially those who are still Kamilia (official fan club of Kara) especially for Heo Youngji, K.A.R.D.’s debut album titled the K.A.R.D. Project, Vol. 1 featuring their debut title track song “Oh NaNa” is available for purchase on iTunes.
[Featured Image by DSP Media]