After a long, successful run with numerous hit songs, the iconic K-pop girl group Kara announced their disbandment last week. As one of the most notable girl groups over the past 10 years, this week’s Playlist Sunday is a look back of some of our team’s favorite Kara songs to celebrate their awesome career.
“Step” was the Kara song that the group needed after garnering major attention for hits like “Mister” and “Lupin.” While it’s not a Great in the sense that other Kara songs were, “Step” is Kara at their very best. The upbeat 80’s inspired disco track had the retro synth elements and a catchy hook that Kara’s perfected over the years, with the majority of the song dedicated to the chorus. Those elements paired with a catchy melody and some outstanding vocal performances from the Kara ladies make it impossible for someone to listen to “Step” and not immediately get the song stuck in their head; this is what Kara does best. “Step” features some electro-funk elements that were ahead of their time for K-pop, and an extremely good example of Kara’s vocal prowess about a minute and fifteen seconds into the song. “Step” is perhaps the last Kara song released from their dance-hook era, and their next release, “Pandora,” is a sadly overlooked example of K-pop experimentation at its greatest. But just because it’s last doesn’t make “Step” boring. Even in 2016, this 2012 hit is still a fresh-sounding song that will get everyone “Step”-ing.
Also on KultScene: Artist Spotlight: April
We can’t have a playlist remembering KARA without mentioning some of their Japanese releases. Considered the first big crossover group and are probably the only Korean group to really establish themselves in the Japanese market, not seeing it as just another possibility for success but as equally important as the Korean market. After leaving KARA in 2014 Jiyoung went on to become an actress in Japan showcasing exactly how popular Kara had been over there. My favourite of their Japanese songs is the impossibly sugary “Bye Bye Happy Days”. The first thing you’ll think when you listen is that this has to be an anime theme song and you’d be right. It was used for KARA The Animation, a show portraying each of the members pursuing different careers. The synths are in full flow, the smiles behind the vocals beam out, and the girls are pulling their best aegyo. A song like this should be irritating but somehow it worms its way into your head and heart. Just like KARA did all those years ago, *sniff*.
Most people probably don’t know or remember that KARA was once a four member group. This was pre- Hara and Jiyoung, and certainly well before their latest member Youngji, during a time when the group was struggling to get their name out there after being considered a commercial failure (their first album was not well received by the general public). I suppose that’s why their single“If U Wanna” is still so underrated. But what’s not to like about it? The strong female image they debuted with is evident here in the spunky and collective raps and percussive claps, which at times come off as cheer-like. It’s girly, but in no way like the bubblegum sweet way that other girl groups often went for. There’s a youthful pep in their vocals that gives away their rookie group status, but it’s endearing especially when you consider how much the group has evolved over the past nine years. Back when K-pop was still trying to gain a foothold internationally in 2007, KARA was already off to a great start… well, at least in my books.
Also on KultScene: The Other Top 10 Korean Songs of 2015
By far, my favorite KARA song is “Step,” but at a close second is 2014’s “Mamamia,” which was also KultScene’s second favorite song of the year, by the way. “Mamamia” is a electro pop and disco extravaganza full of my favorite attitudes a girl can have: fierceness and sass. And not only is the jam fabulous, but the four girls look absolutely flawless with their gorgeous styling. Not to mention the killed the choreography. I will miss KARA’s ability of dropping banger after banger and how they achieved the perfect formula of femininity, sexiness, and strongness. Other girl groups may try to fit into one or another category, but only KARA mastered them all at once.
What’s your favorite Kara song? Share your picks and 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.