With the release of 2ne1’s first full length album, and unprecedented comeback that involves promoting not one but three singles at the same time, this foursome has undoubtedly shown themselves to be head and shoulders above the teeming flock of Korean girl groups. Now, let’s see if we can’t figure out why that is.
I’m not going to get on any girl who wants to shake her butt in booty shorts- we all know how much I love Hyuna and that I think she’s powerful and amazing – but the fact of the matter is that sexuality is not at all a part of 2ne1’s appeal. Sure, they’re hot, Minzy brings in a blush-inducing Lolita-factor and Dara has never looked more glamorous than in this new video to me. But that’s clearly never been their priority. Neither their clothes nor their choreography showcase particular body parts (and particular body parts is key, gyrating every once a while doesn’t count), but instead their personalities, skill as entertainers, and their chemistry with each other.
The same can’t be said about new group Rainbow, who have been making a name for themselves with the sexy pop anthem “A.” Recently, the girls (ahem, that is, their management) have come under fire for a certain shirt lifting move in “A” ‘s choreography, and they’ve been barred from using it in performances here on out. Despite the fact that they’ve been promoting this song with the move for over a month now.
I hope its clear how these two video are like night and day, not just because one is “hip hop.”
Now, I love “A.” Its a completely enjoyable song and video. But when I first saw the shirt-lift, I rolled my eyes. Not because its a failure as a sexy moment, quite the opposite. Its a very suggestive move, and its a perfect example of this “Look at me, don’t look at me” complex that K-pop girl groups seem to be infected with. Its not the exposure of skin that’s the problem, but this faux come-hither, I’m-going-to -pretend-to show-you-something-but-we-all-know-I-won’t attitude topped off with bright wide eyes and smiles so perfect and sweet they make your cheeks hurt that pisses me off. It’s a propagation of Disneyfied sex, bedroom antics and dance hall pussy popping made safe for a presumably more naive audience to consume. So how is that 2ne1 with their swagger and hoodies feel so much more dangerous?
Lets talk fashion for a moment. Did you notice the uniforms? Both videos feature their girls in different scenes, each with its own look that all the girls share. While Rainbow’s showcase their legs, their navels, and their rear ends, 2ne1 is covered nearly head to toe for almost the entire video. Even when they get to show their arms, the skin is covered in fake tattoos effectively giving them another kind of sleeves. Are they any less attractive for it though? The difference is what we’re attracted to is their faces. Imagine that. The tease, instead of a little bit of abdomen, is the edges of their newly dyed hair that peeks out around their hoods.
We all know that sex and girls being sexy is awesome, but what seems to not be so universally known is that its not just about body parts and imitating what grown ups do when they love each other very much. It just so happens that personality and style can get people way more excited when its genuine and creative. And if you can’t at least imagine that little inner purr that’s transmitted through your screen when Minzy smiles, then you don’t know what sex really is.
Its not that Rainbow is sexy and 2ne1 isn’t. 2ne1 has their own kind of sexuality that’s based around them as people, not a collection of desirable parts. Its not that the girls of Rainbow are being exploited and CL and company are not. We should all hope to be used so beautifully at some point in our lives. And its not that Rainbow – and 4Minute, and Girls’ Generation, and all the other girl groups who take the same approach as them – at the rate they’re going will not reach the success that 2ne1 is clearly heading for…oh wait. That’s exactly what it is. Which group received gifts from Jeremy Scott in honor of their comeback? Which group received a YouTube shout out from will.i.am.? Take a guess. Yes, sex does seem to sell. And yes, controversy sells even more. But what goes home with the trophy at the end of the race is almost always innovation, edge and personality. But even if it doesn’t in this case, while Rainbow will continue to simper and wiggle like robots, lift the edges of their shirts like its a chore, 2ne1 will clap their hands and love every minute of it. And I get to see Minzy smile.