Did you know that popular Korean independent music website Korean Indie are having their tenth anniversary, and that you should celebrate it? Well, you do now! Let’s celebrate!
Korean Indie is a great k-pop site where you can learn about all the k-pops that are in fact not k-pops. It has groovy things like a yearly “best of”, lots of interviews, they review songs in a slightly less cunty manner than I do, and all sorts of other things. We should all take a moment out of our lives to thank this great website for existing and providing us with all the k-pop content that is not k-pop content.
So in honour of Korean Indie, let’s retrospectively look at Gfriend videos! But why Gfriend? Korean Indie have resolutely denied any interest in Gfriend ever since I randomly suggested a mini-album of theirs as “best indie release of the year” back in 2016 (not technically incorrect, as Source music were a 100% independent label at that time). Their denial of interest in Gfriend was emphatic enough to make me suspicious, in that same way that your friend who continually mentions how repulsed he is by gays probably leads a double life where he goes to LPSG.com and looks longingly at their extensive Wonho thread that I came across the other day purely by chance and definitely haven’t participated in except for the bits where I wrote stuff. So it’s clear that Korean Indie probably secretly stans Gfriend, but even if they really don’t this should be good promo for them anyway as they get even less web traffic than I do so you guys really should be visiting their site more. Don’t forget to tell them that I sent you.
I originally pitched the idea of a Gfriend retrospective to Korean Indie but they strangely didn’t seem to be that interested:
What a pity. However independent polls conducted by myself show that in fact there was quite a bit of interest in this:
Gosh, no wonder Korean Indie struggle so much with web traffic, clearly they don’t know what their audience wants. So anyway here’s my Gfriend feature track retrospective, and if Korean Indie feel that they really need to boost the visits to their site (and they should), they have my permission to steal this content to add to any of their 10th anniversary celebratory postings as long as they credit me appropriately.
Before we get started on the videos, it’s important to know who is who, so here’s a quick profile on Gfriend:
- the one who always makes the Kpopalypse bias list, but only when her hair doesn’t go past shoulder level
- secretly wants to be Brown Eyed Girls’ Gain, as she only ever looks truly comfortable on stage when mimicking her
- clearly undergoing ongoing severe trauma from being forced into Gfriend’s early years aegyo concepts
- Gfriend’s visual and fashionista, revered by k-pop fandoms worldwide for her unique and impressive visuals
- so attractive that she is exempt from Kpopalypse bias list inclusion purely to level the playing field
- somehow hasn’t been sued yet by Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson for swiping his early 80s look
- kind of looks like Yui Hatano, which I’ll point out if I ever write a sequel to that “k-pop idols who look like porn stars” post from 1863
- knows what’s on your external hard drive, and also knows why the toilet paper is sitting by the computer
- confirmed bias of Korean Indie’s Chris P
- Is tall, so I always mixed her up with Sowon until Sowon did the Nazi thing
- Looks like a computer-generated cross between Mamamoo’s Moonbyul and AustralianSana
- Sorry that’s about all I know about her, but I feel like I’ve covered off everything relevant
- the tallest member in the group, but still not as tall as the mannequin master race
- excellent taste in men’s fashion
- doesn’t know about your external hard drive, your “collection” is safe, if she finds it one day just tell her it’s pirated games from Israel or something and she’ll probably never even think about it again
- very clumsy compared to the other members
- also singlehandedly responsible for the group’s fame during the mid 2010s thanks to falling over a lot on stages
- BTS may have paved the way, but they could have cleaned the fucking pavers afterward before Gfriend had to do a stage on them, what a bunch of useless cunts those BTS boys are
Now that we (mostly) know who is who, let’s get on with the songs!
Gfriend’s rubbishy debut, a disappointing clone of Girls’ Generation’s “Into The New World” that’s only really notable for how incredibly uncomfortable Eunha looks when she’s straining her eyelids to the maximum as she tries to do the wide-eyed “innocent” thing while singing. Nobody is fooled by this bullshit, least of all Eunha herself who probably needs regular eyedrops to this day.
ME GUSTAS TU
Pretty much the same thing as “Glass Bead” but Gfriend’s songwriters actually wrote a decent song of their own this time instead of stealing someone else’s. The dance moves are impressive (mainly because the girls actually stay upright) and even though all the girls still look awkward as shit it doesn’t really matter because the songwriter sneaking in heavy metal guitar dive-bombs is such a laugh.
Gfriend clothed and styled correctly for the first time makes a much more entertaining video, and the song is a fantastic “Me Gustas Tu” on steroids, with an overblown strings/guitar arrangement that would kick just as much ass without any vocals even on it. This video is notable for making fans think that the first three feature songs had some sort of overarching “coming of age” concept that was going to be continued on throughout their career. The joke was on them because Source stopped giving a fuck very quickly after this song.
I was probably a little harsh on “Navillera” when it came out, but that’s only because “Rough” was so good. Notable for the best lead guitar tone ever utilised on a Gfriend song, the tune’s light feel and fast pace would be a welcome relief if it was released among 2021’s parade of dreary, plodding slow-as-shit trap-infused 40BPM comebacks.
Gfriend go all-in on the rock concept that their songwriters secretly always wanted them to do, and the results are outstanding, with the track thumping and the girls looking better than ever. Apparently a relative commercial failure compared to their viral moth-squishing success at that time, because Koreans are boring and threatened by music that kicks ass, so this type of idea was never convincingly tried again.
Source do their best to make everyone forget they tried “Fingertip” by making Gfriend return to their musical roots. This marks the only time Gfriend ever got the “innocent” look right, but even then they’re stuck in horrible blue bathers for 50% of the dance routines. Hats off to the video director for making the girls dance ankle-deep in water to help improve their agility and lower body strength in preparation for future hazardous live stages.
Gfriend have done this sound about 286 times during their career but rarely this well, the piano backings adding some extra depth that was very underappreciated at the time. Other than that it’s Gfriend by numbers but that’s fine because nobody wants AC/DC to go EDM either.
TIME FOR THE MOON NIGHT
In some ways a return to “Rough” but also featuring a harmonically complex string arrangement that takes a little bit of the direct pop appeal edge away from the song, replacing it with something more maudlin and introspective, this would become a common musical theme with Gfriend tracks from this point forward. Who knows what the fuck the video even means, there’s a million fan explanations and they all make little sense, what it really all probably means is that Source Entertainment have you by the balls.
An awful clone of the horrible songs that Sistar would routinely shit out every June and July over the summer period in the northern hemisphere over the early 2010s, only saved as an “entertainment object” by the fact that once again the girls look outstanding in the video and don’t have horrible-looking religious cult tattoos on their abdomens.
Gfriend’s first feature track for the Japanese market that wasn’t just a remake of something already released in Korea, but it’s still “Time For The Moon Night” in Japanese. The music isn’t better than the Korean versions of the same thing, but the costume designer really went all-out on this video in an unprecedented way, and the result is both some of the best and worst outfits that Gfriend members have ever been seen in.
Another song in the new “Time For The Moon Night” style sound, with similar high musical quality and an equally inscrutable visual narrative. The high-flying string arrangement is really the star of the show here, as well as the Gfriend girls swanning around in regulation early-Apink white dresses for no clear reason other than to entertain people who like that sort of thing.
“Flower” is another Japanese-market track, and is sadly a bit of a weak hybrid of where Gfriend had already gone before (heavily strings-based retro pop), plus some new directions that they were yet to explore in Korea at this stage (disco). Outstanding set and costume design still makes this worth a look.
A little-known track that I don’t know the story behind, seems it was for a drama or a commercial or something? In any event Gfriend aren’t in the video and the song is bland so who gives a fuck, let’s just move on.
Gfriend’s stab at the lame tropical shithouse trend is just as pathetic as most of the others that emerged during the latter half of the 2010s, and has no real redeeming features other than it’s Gfriend doing it so at least you get a good video out of it. The girls look as bored as we are, and the opportunity cost of missing out on another potentially great comeback due to trend-riding hurts.
OH DIFFICULT (with SONAR POCKET)
A track that even some hardcore Gfriend stans may not be aware of, Gfriend collaborated with Japanese group Sonar Pocket for “Oh Difficult”. If you’ve never heard of this song before, don’t worry as you weren’t missing much – the music is kind of drab, and the video has only 50% Gfriend plus too much lens flare making it nearly impossible to actually focus on anything that you’re actually there to see.
Another Japanese comeback that is part dreary-ballad, part “Time For The Moon Night” style goodness. Once again some imaginative set design helps increase the relevance of a song and video that would otherwise probably slip under the radar compared to their better Korean output.
And again we’re doing “Time For The Moon Night” just with different chords and a different wardrobe. This was an unfortunate feature track choice when the far superior “Labyrinth” was readily available from the same release, but with the group being kind of scared of rock music ever since “Fingertip” bombed I can see why Source weakly pussied out on Gfriend and their audience.
A completely different sound for Gfriend, presumably designed to help Eunha realise her fantasies of actually being in Brown Eyed Girls. Unfortunately they gave Eunha her worst ever look with the long blonde hair so she didn’t get to realise her dream visually, but then we’ve all seen that “Bloom” stage so we can die happy that this happened I guess.
Gfriend take another left turn and explore pure disco with a concept that their new labelmates BTS completely failed with. With imagery clearly only designed to highlight how great the girls look, and bizarre lyrics about satanism or something, this is Gfriend finally coming of age into the kind of cunts that ensure a lifelong stanning from Kpopalypse.
Hopefully this helps you all stan Gfriend! Don’t forget to support Korean Indie! Kpopalypse will return soon!