(G)I-DLE’s ‘LATATA’ song review

Longtime fans of K-pop girl groups have, in recent years, lamented the absence of fierce, powerful girl groups. As the onslaught of cute and innocent concepts among newer groups like TWICE, GFRIEND, WJSN, and more continues, girl groups with stronger concepts have become a fading minority in the K-pop world.

But not if (G)I-DLE can help it. On May 2, the six-member girl group debuted with house-pop track “LATATA,” employing fierce dance-pop instrumentals, extensive rap verses, and onstage pyrotechnics in tow. Formed by Cube Entertainment, the girl group’s name effectively translates to Girl Children from Korean to English, among a host of other complicated double entendres.

Despite the group’s strangely infantilizing name, “LATATA” is about a steamy dance-floor encounter, beginning with a fast percussive bang followed by a bouncy tropical house beat that underlies the verses. Main rapper Jeon Soyeon, riding her Produce 101 and Unpretty Rapstar fame to the frontwoman position of the group, begins the song atop this rhythm, soon passing the verse to the group’s main dancer Soojin, who asks “What’s there to be scared about?” as she engages with her lover.

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A surprising moment of distortion in synths and tempo, member Minnie’s “Uh oh” at the beginning of the pre-chorus is the song’s definitive vocal highlight. She slurs her words and holds her notes through her parts, capturing a hypnotic, snake charmer-esque sound that contrasts with that of the incoming faster-paced section sung by deeper-voiced Yuqi. “We can burn it up even more/There’s no tomorrow,” she declares. The percussive bang sounds again, and vocalist Miyeon sings her seduction in the chorus: “I’m singing for you, so you can fall deeper.” Visual member Shuhua’s repeated “Latata” chants—her only solo lines in the song—are a call for the lover to “sing for me, so I’ll never forget you.”

The chorus is followed by a dance break carried by a repeating synth line that resembles an electric guitar riff. When the group performs this live on weekly music shows, the choreography is tight, the members sporting strong, sensual facial expressions as they quickly shift formations.

Contrasting with other girl groups’ shyness around lovers, Soyeon encourages the one-night stand in her post-chorus rap break. As the tempo quickens, she spits, “Don’t be lazy, come to me baby,” asking her mysterious hookup to “go in deeper, swallow me up.” Her confidence is both audible on the track and visible in performances—a demonstration of the prowess she’s developed over the course of two survival shows and a solo debut since her first TV appearances in early 2016.

Returning to the pre-chorus, the song repeats the previous sequence until it reaches a slower-tempo bridge, backed by a stripped tropical house instrumental featuring an occasional tabla. After a final lengthened dance break, the song ends as Soyeon says, “Every day, every night, Latata.”

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While “LATATA” itself doesn’t deviate too much from the typical K-pop song structure of verses, pre-choruses, and choruses followed by dance and rap breaks, it is a welcome change in sound from current chart-topping girl groups with more demure concepts. Rather than attempting to emulate the success of cutesy girl groups like TWICE or Oh My Girl, (G)I-DLE seeks to revive the sounds and stylings of older girl groups like those of past Cube labelmate 4MINUTE, and widen the fierce girl group niche that is rapidly decreasing in size. And as “LATATA” enters the Top 30 of Korean music charts and tops iTunes K-pop charts around the world, it is becoming clear that the absence of powerful girl groups has been felt by K-pop fans old and new alike.

Of course, (G)I-DLE’s debut immediately calls into question the future of labelmate girl group CLC, whose songs have repeatedly failed to chart for three years now (likely due to the group’s constant flip-flopping between innocent and strong concepts across different releases). It also brings up the possibility of a rivalry between (G)I-DLE and BLACKPINK—one of K-pop’s only other powerful girl groups of the moment.

Whatever the answers to these questions are, one verdict is clear: (G)I-DLE is, in its infancy, reigniting the age-old tug-of-war of girl group concepts, an industry-wide debate whose point of equilibrium is finally beginning to shift. In the oversaturated girl group market, such a noticeable effect on the bigger K-pop narrative is more than enough to deem this debut a success.

What do you think of (G)I-DLE’s debut track? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

4 Ways to Promote a K-pop Trainee

4 ways to promote kpop trainee

[Disclaimer: No offense intended to any group or company mentioned]

All K-pop idols have to go through life as a trainee before they can debut, and this period of time is usually the most difficult for them. It’s filled with never-ending practices, criticisms, and at times even hopelessness, but this all serves as a foundation However, it can be said that how successful a debut of an idol or a group is largely affected by how the trainees are promoted before their debut. Based on existing and current examples from reputable companies such as SM Entertainment and YG, here are the four ways K-pop trainees are promoted before their respective debuts.

1. Competition Shows

win who is next

These reality competitions are all the trend now, with YG’s “Win: Who Is Next” (2014), Pledis Entertainment’s “Seventeen Project” (2015), and JYP’s “Sixteen” (2015), to name a few. These competition shows normally start out with a large group of trainees, and after various missions and evaluations where contestants are eliminated, the final contestants will form a new idol group. This seems to be a good way to ensure a successful debut for the group, mainly because the contestants would have the chance to garner a strong fan base through challenges like public stages and even guerilla concerts.

In the case of JYP’s “Sixteen” for example, there is also public voting held through an app (Milk) held every week, increasing the participation of the public and thus the potential amount of fans for the contestants.
The correlation between groups who debut through competition shows and how successful their debuts are can be seen by a few examples. Firstly, through YG’s “Win: Who Is Next”, where the boy group Winner was born. With their debut album “2014 S/S,” the group achieved great success, as can be seen by how they topped charts and received numerous awards in music shows. Compare this to JYP’s GOT7, a boy group which also debuted in 2014. Unlike Winner, GOT7 did not debut through a competition show, and when they debuted on January 16 with “Girls Girls Girls”, they did not win a single music show. Despite having two members who had already debuted in JJ Project (2012) and had even acted in idol drama “Dream High 2”, they still did not have as large a fanbase as Winner at the time of their debut. This shows that competition shows are indeed more effective as a promotional tool, even compared to dramas.

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2. Social Media/YouTube Exposure

No one can deny that social media is a powerful thing, and through the example of EXID, who has found popularity three years after their debut thanks to a viral video of Hani, it can be seen that it has the ability to make a group or an artist extremely famous. SM knows this, and is using social media very effectively to promote their trainees, who are all awaiting debut. Known as the SM Rookies, this pre-debut group is already enjoying lots of popularity, thanks to the numerous YouTube videos uploaded by SMTOWN about them. There are videos of the boys doing short but extremely impressive dances, birthday surprises among the rookies, and even Lunar New Year Greetings.

These videos allow viewers to get to know these rookies in a more personal way, thus gaining them fans. The rookies also have an entire website dedicated to them, on which there are their profiles and more videos of them. Along with the website are Facebook and Twitter accounts, social media sites which serve to allow fans to keep up on what the rookies are doing. It seems that these measures are paying off, what with the rookies having 162k followers on Twitter and more than a million views on most of their videos. These rookies are even enjoying more popularity than some existing k-pop groups are, and I can’t wait to see how successful their debut will be in the future.
Another group from SM has proven this effective strategy, as can be seen by the massive waves they have made in k-pop ever since their debut in 2012. This group is none other than EXO, whose first teasers were released by SM around five months before their debut. This caused viewers and fans to get attracted to the group during that period and these promotions paid off when the group debuted to instant success. Since then, EXO has continued to remain extremely popular and they enjoy a huge and dedicated fanbase.

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3. CF/Music Video Appearances

There have been several instances in K-pop history when an idol group or artist debuts, only for fans to find that these new idols are not really that new anymore. Reason being they have appeared in music videos or advertisements pre-debut, making them familiar faces to the general public and even gaining them fans. A good example would be YG’s Kim Ji Soo, who is still a trainee and hasn’t made an official debut, but has already appeared in CFs for Nikon, appeared with popular stars such as Lee Minho, and even cameoed in a recent hit drama “The Producers”. She has already been given a lot of exposure as compared to fellow trainees and has gained herself numerous fans, making it hard to imagine how popular she would become when she does officially debut.

4. Not Promoting Them At All

Not all companies are as big and well-established as SM and YG, indeed. Big budgets are required for the promotion of idols, let alone for trainees who haven’t debuted. It is an unfortunate situation, but a realistic one, for several smaller entertainment companies. Take the example of new boy group Romeo from CT Entertainment. Despite being from a company that is a “spin-off” from SM Entertainment, the boy group does not share the same fame as the SM Rookies and debuted to little fanfare early last month. Without the help of pre-debut promotion, the group is still relatively unknown in the industry, and in an industry that has new groups debuting literally every week, they could easily be buried by other new acts.

Romeo group picture