Five young girls signed and groomed by well-known producer, Park Jin Young for his talent agency, JYP Entertainment. They took Korea by storm with their retro hit, “Tell Me” in the latter part of 2007. Who are the Wonder Girls exactly?
There has been a dearth of decent girl groups since the days of Fin.K.L, S.E.S, Baby Vox, etc. They rose to popularity quickly and there was a good friendly rivalry then. But then, all suddenly disbanded around the same time. 2007 was where a clutch of girl groups suddenly appeared all at the same time as you had Cats, Kara, Baby Vox Re.V, Wonder Girls and So Nyeo Shi Dae.
There are five members in Wonder Girls, Sun Ye (leader), Ye Eun, HyunA, Sun Mi & So Hee. All were signed through auditions and Ye Eun was the last to be signed after being rejected initially. They then underwent training in JYP Entertainment under the tutelage of acclaimed singer/producer/CEO, Park Jin Young for five years. Rain who was in JYP Entertainment before he left also had a hand in their education. They finally made their official debut on Febuary 11th 2007, appearing on Mnet M! Countdown and performing, “Irony” a hip-hop track from their debut CD single, “The Wonder Begins“.
The track “Irony” wasn’t that bad but I didn’t take the bait and just took it as another worth listening to track in my music collection. My interest in them went up after I saw them performing a S.E.S song on Show Music Tank, “I’m Your Girl“, not the best but it was pretty good for a new group. But it did not last as they disappeared from my radar and they tried to break into the Chinese market with limited success.
Then a slew of disasters started to happen to the Wonder Girls. So Hee tore her knee ligament while filming for her movie on June 25th 2007, leaving the other four to promote without her. More woe was to follow as HyunA was withdrawn from the group by her parents, citing health concern. Wonder Girls was however back to a 5-member group with the addition of Yoo Bin in early September.
The Wonder Girls made their comeback on KBS Music Bank on September 7th 2007, with “Tell Me“, a 80s track from their debut album, “The Wonder Years“. I didn’t really take to it initially because I found their clothes tacky and what’s with the “old-fashioned” hairdos. So I just passed them by again.
There was a scare on September 14th when the Wonder Girls including their manager and stylist were briefly hospitalised with concussion and other minor injuries following an early-morning traffic accident returning from a performance at Dong-Eui Institute of Technology in Pusan. The van in which they were travelling rear-ended a taxi, killing the driver of the taxi and injuring nine others. Their activities were temporarily halted before resuming in late September.
It changed totally on October 5th 2007 when they appeared on KBS Music Bank again as they did a special stage with Big Bang performing first, “Tell Me” and then “Lies”. I still remember I replayed this over and over again. Simply great and infectious performance and still is today for me. I was hooked on Wonder Girls from this day onwards.
And the popularity of “Tell Me” just kept snowballing and it’s effect is still being felt to this day. Their unrelenting schedule of appearing on various programs, gayo shows to promote ”Tell Me“ had a telling effect as the infectious tune and easy dance steps were picked up by fans and non-fans. Numerous UCC videos of normal folks doing “Tell Me” dance started appearing on video steaming sites which further pushed up the popularity level. It was declared a national hit and Wonder Girls were called, “Korea’s Little Sisters” in the month of November. No one can resist having a go at doing the dance apparently.
“Tell Me” has clearly defined Wonder Girls career and the turning point of their career. It has helped them to stand out from a slew of rival groups and something from which they can build from in future. The wonder will continue for them heading into 2008 as they seek to consolidate their popularity.