Stellar have gone through quite a few transformations since their debut in 2011, more so than most groups. In fact, this girl group seems to be trying everything they can in order to make it big. Stellar have seen multiple concepts, ranging from sci-fi, cutesy, studious, and sexy. The group’s foray into sexy concepts, which is not completely gone with their latest comeback, was their most successful as of yet. It has also been by far the most interesting of their concepts, with the trio of songs Marionette, Mask and, their latest, Fool, all of which have given a glimpse into the relationship between sexy K-pop idols and the adoring public. Through meta-textual lyrics, abrasive sexual imagery, and eventual confrontation, Stellar have chronicled the difficulties of being a female idol today.
Released in February 2014, Marionette was not only Stellar’s most successful song to date but also their first to have any sort of cultural relevance. Their singles prior to this were little more than generic europop tracks, common among struggling young K-pop girl groups. Marionette looked like it would be an uninteresting release, with questionable marketing methods and what could have been just another sexy concept. Once it dropped, the difference was immediately noticeable.
The first thing you notice is that while Marionette at first appears sexy, Stellar does not appear all that appealing in the video. The girls’ skinny bodies move around like the puppets and they sing about and wear strange, flimsy leotards. They seem to be inviting objectification and the outrage that comes with it. The lyrics only help to solidify this reading. They sing of a self loathing doll being controlled by a vindictive lover.
When you touch me, I accept it. Tell me, am I a joke to you?
This can be seen as a metaphor for female idols who are forced or resort to taking off more clothes for recognition. They are then shamed by this same public for doing so, despite this being what they all want.
Stellar have taken on the sexy concept and attacked it from within. Of course, the reaction was exactly like the women sang about. It was the group’s most successful song and reached the 35th spot on Korea’s Gaon chart, but Marionette met with criticism for its overtly sexy video and dance. The dance was censored on Korean music shows and eventually faded into the past. The Korean public had their cake, a scandalous song and dance, and ate it too.