Sub-groups are all the rage in Kpop right now, and T-ara is the latest group to jump on board! This is a fantastic move for them, seeing as how half of the group is irrelevant anyway. This sub group consists of relevant members Eun Jung and Hyomin. They are joined by the new girl, Areum. This is a good move, as it allows her a chance to shine without simply being “Hwa Young’s replacement.” Finally, the group is rounded out by the group’s “it girl,” Ji Yeon.
For this release, the girls have put on some colorful and funky hip-hop fashions. Its a new image for the group, and they work it like pros. However, the style seemed a bit odd when paired with the song’s name. Hip-hop and Countryside Life (or Jae Won Diary, depending on the translation) don’t seem to fit together. Just ask 4minute how that worked out. This song definitely throws alot at us, and for whatever reason…it works.
At a time when the musical landscape is changing, Countryside Life takes some huge musical risks. The beat is a mishmash of genres, yet it all comes together in a cohesive way. With its house influences and accordion melody, it reminds one a bit of Edward Maya’s hit Stereo Love. On top of that, you have some hip-hop and dubstep influences, bongo drums and saxophone riffs all rolled into one well produced Kpop hit. Yes, it is all a bit chaotic, but from the chaos, a true gem is born.
T-ara’s story is definitely a noteworthy one. Through hard work and back to back hits, this group rose from the ranks of rookie, and came within kissing distance of the top spot. However, they got swept up in a huge controversy that left their reputation heavily damaged. They became an easy target for haters, gossip magazines, and internet trolls all over the world. T-ara went from the top to…well, this….
And that’s what makes this release so freaking awesome. K-pop songs are rarelly socially aware. However, Countryside Life has a poignant message. And no, it isn’t “I’m sorry.” Its…well, this…
As it turns out, the left is actually a pretty cool place to be. The song’s lyrics give a giant “fuck you” to the haters. Their meaning is obvious with lyrics like “Leave me alone, whats it got to do with you? You know nothing for gods sake!” They even spend a solid 15 seconds repeating “Why you hating? W-w-why you hating?” in the song’s breakdown! This is a bold move for the group, but its one that they pull off triumphantly.
While there is much to praise about this song, I also have my share of complaints. For one, the song doesn’t really feature the girls enough. While the focus of the song is on the music and the lyrics, the girls are only given short verses that don’t really allow them to shine. However, the choreography is an absolute beast, and the catchy “ting-a-linga-a” hook hits its mark with frightening accuracy. The girls might have blink-and-you-miss-it singing parts…but it may have been a necessary evil.
With one of the most interesting beats I’ve ever heard, along with poignant lyrics and powerful choreography, Countryside Life may very well be T-ara’s strongest release yet. Never before has the group seemed so bold, confident, and above all, triumphant. I think this is the start of a new T-era.