Well, it seems that the indefatigable Korean Pop scene has met its nemesis – bona fide, honest-to-whomever, female sexuality. Last month marked the debut of a girl group years in the making, Rania, with a racy song, black leather costuming, and not even remotely subtle choreography. Not surprisingly, Rania is the creation of an American producer, Teddy Riley, with ambitions of creating international juggernaut of hot Asian girls. Based on the first single, he’s off to alright start.
Personally, I didn’t think much of their debut song “Dr Feel Good,” and not just because of the blatant pandering to pervs like myself, but because the song just isn’t that great. There’s nothing new about the sound, and the hook, unlike everything about this group, is exceptionally modest. I wanted to like them. Rania’s members, who hail from all over the Asian world, are clearly very talented, and there was plenty of effort put into their packaging (a little too much, probably). Plus, I love sexy girls. Musically though, there is better stuff out there.
What I do like about Rania is their conviction. As I’ve talked about previously in this blog, K-Pop is rampant with an infantalized, doubethink kind of sex appeal, where if a girl group is going to dance in a suggestive way or in tiny shorts, they have to do it with the hapless expression of a 12-year-old. Its refreshing to see a group that simply is what it is – grown-ass women who are good at being sexy. As an American, to me Rania’s single and video were not shocking in the slightest, but in the context of K-Pop its a bit like a bowling ball to the forehead. Even the raciest of Korea’s girl groups, while they might have some suggestive lyrics, never actually sing about wanting to get some, not in a single anyway. Rania, clearly, has no interest in beating around the bush. This mentality, this unwillingness to compromise, is reflected in the finished product. Each note, dance move and toss of the hair speaks of utter commitment, performers that know where they stand. Whereas the rest of the K-Pop scene, even the boy groups, are forced to compromise and fuss around with an image that only makes their producers and prepubescent girls happy, resulting in routines that appear tired and disingenuous. While by image alone Rania resembles subtle-as-a-sledgehammer groups like 4Minute and T-ara, their solid presence is more like that of f(x) or 2ne1, two groups that are exceptional for not using sex to sell their records.