"2 Different Tears" is by no means a bad song, but it's a messy caricature of everything Wonder Girls represent: a throwback-inspired act that brings touches of past musical eras to the colorful world of K-pop world. The song vaguely feels like a disco throwback, but lacks a cohesive concept altogether.
Every K-pop act either looks back at their debut single with fond memories or with pangs of embarrassment. We have an inkling that it was the latter for Wonder Girls. "Irony" boasts a beat that aged terribly, with a tragically cheap music video to boot. The hook is nice and it's great to see HyunA in retrospect, but we have a feeling WG would rather forget this one.
Ah, what could have been. Wonder Girls' first official English single had so much promise with its trippy, dubstep-y teasers, but the final result was a lackluster electro-pop cut with wayyyy too much AutoTune—c'mon, these girls didn't study years of English for that, did they? While the song boasts a catchy melody and icy production, the first wrong move might have been incorporating Akon who, in 2012, hadn't had a hit in three years.
It's kinda fun, kinda catchy, but many worried that when Wonder Girls went on hiatus in 2012 that this lackluster hip-hop cut would be their final contribution to K-pop. Luckily that wasn't the case...
Shout out to the music video, which was pretty cute and saw the girls wearing normal clothes and interacting with real people. And funnily enough, looking back, "Like This" sounds like it would have had a much better chance in the U.S. market than "Like Money."
While it lives on as a viral dance craze in Korea, "Tell Me" is a slight step up from "Irony," music-wise. The moaning samples are always awkward (especially when you consider Sohee and Sunmi were 15 years old then), and it's another beat that wasn't meant to stand the test of time, but that melody is undeniable. Don't miss Sun's power at the end either.
Once again, the beats haven't aged well here, but we did get what would become the classic K-pop line: "JYP and the Wonder Girls...we're back!" This one really focuses heavily on the synths, but its silver lining is the catchy melodies that became impossible to forget at first listen.
It took more than three-and-a-half years—two lifetimes in the fast-moving K-pop industry—but Wonder Girls returned with a refreshed lineup and concept. Yenny, Yuibn, and Lim were rejoined by Sunmi to represent a four-member group that now plays like an '80s synthpop band that plays (*gasp*!) real instruments.
They didn't disappoint by any means: "I Feel You" was one of the slickest gems of 2015, representing how the group could come back with a song that brought the sheen K-pop is known for with a retro sound that (finally) didn't seem dated or cheap. The instrumental hook is one of the best uses of a twinkling synthesizer breakdown in pop, the video includes loads of hidden visual goodies that one needs to replay multiple times to catch, and the four Wonder Girls found a way to make sure they exuded a sophisticated, matured confidence that was necessary after so many years away.
There's perhaps no tale more fascinating (or cautionary) for K-pop than "Nobody" and what the song represents for the overall scene. Musically, the 2008 single was a breakthrough moment for Wonder Girls, where their brand of Korean pop finally got the much-needed upgrade to compete on the same level as the Western counterpart they so longed to emulate at the time. The track's disco-tinged feel was an accessible throwback that didn't feel dated while packing in sonic eccentricities that tend to only work in K-pop—e.g. "Nobody" ending with Yubin's section instead of placing it in the expected bridge.
The single remains the greatest non-PSY success story in K-pop's American advancement, but that isn't what makes it the group's best. "Nobody" is a slick, shimmering slice of what K-pop could have been, and it reset the standard for what this fascinating industry could create—and they did it all with their own spin. The song might have had a disco sound, but those hooks were totally K-pop. The structure wasn't what listeners were used to, but it felt exciting instead of grating. The video evoked the feel of Motown, but it still managed to push the K-pop industry to upgrade their visuals. Less is more, but the brilliance of "Nobody" is in how much is subtly stuffed inside here.
Keep up to date with the latest news by subscribing to our newsletter.*required