Wonder Girls, JYP, JYP Entertainment, Sunye, Sun, Yeeun, Yenny, Yubin, hyerim, Lim, Sohee
When the Wonder Girlsdebuted under JYP's tutelage in 2007, no one could predict that this group of five talented girls would make such a permanent dent in popular culture. What makes a Wonder Girl?Throw a dash of unique charms, heartwarming personalities, a sprinkle of relatable personas, talent and fun, youthful music. Jumping between countries like it's no big deal, it's no surprise that the title of World Stars fits like a perfectly, glittered crown.
Wonder Girls entered 2012 with a strong foothold; led by Sunye(Sun) and with current members Yeeun(Yenny), Yubin, Hyerim(Lim) and Sohee, the pop quintet orchestrated their biggest comeback yet on November of 2011, which extended well into 2012. After an absence of sixteen months, Wonder Girls released "Be My Baby". The song went to stay in the Billboard Kpop chart Top10 for eight weeks straight. Along with the single, the album Wonder Worldwas also released. This, which came to be their second full length album, peaked at the fifth position on the Billboard World Album Charts upon release, while at the same time reaching #1 on both weekly album and monthly album charts on Gaon Korea, among other important rankings. Performing "Me, In", off the Wonder Worldalbum at the SBS Gayo Daejun on December 31 can only be described as the perfect opening to 2012 - If you were looking for a bang, this was it.
January 2012 started off with the release of their first OST digital single "The DJ is Mine". This served as a promotional tool for their American television advancements. The song featured a heavy Dubstep hook, with lyrics and a music video that showed a different side for the group. During the same month, the K-Pop quintet promoted in Taiwan, performing at the TTV Taiwan CNY Eve Special "Red and White Superstars" along with fellow JYP artists miss Aand big stars from all over Asia. Simultaneously, the group appeared on the American website TeenVogue.com for the first time as one of their top searched celebrities of the year.
February was a busy month for the group; making truth to their title of World Stars, the Wonder Girls premiered their first English TV movie on TeenNick, on February 2. The movie was well received as a light-hearted comedy by fans and expectations about a second television project grew. A week later, just in time for Valentine's Day, member Yenny made an OST appearance with the self-composed track "Hello To Myself" - part of the "Dream High 2" soundtrack. The song was praised for its strong vocals and power ballad quality. That same week fellow member Sohee became the face of the Tommy Hilfiger Denim campaign in Korea and the Wonder Girls were nominated in the Favorite Asian Act category in the Nickelodeon Kids Choice awards.
Three months into 2012, the Wonder Girls were occupied with individual schedules and appearances, while fans waited patiently for news about the release of their English work. However, during the month of March they made time to travel to Shanghai to continue the promotion of their successful single "Be My Baby". They appeared on DragonTV's "Let's Shake it", a show with monstrous popularity and made positive headlines in China for being able to communicate entirely in Chinese with the hosts. The Wonder Girls always make a point to communicate with their fans in their local language, and this time it was no exception. The month was closed by the girl's attendance on the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards in America, the second year they were been invited to a Nickelodeon award show.
Right in April, group leader Sun released what would be her third contribution for a k-drama, the track "The Sound of Love" for the OST of "Feast of The Gods". Unfortunately, history repeated itself as the song was leaked on YouTube and other media sharing websites before the release. Nonetheless, Sun's powerful effort was praised as well as her vocal versatility. By mid-April Japanese fans were in for a big surprise - Wonder Girls were gearing for the first steps of their Japanese activities! On April 18, a new endorsement of a cosmetic brand was revealed and with it a glimpse of the previously unannounced Japanese version of their game-changing hit "Nobody". In the advertisement each of the girls displayed their individual beauty and showed the ways to apply the product. A day later, producer JYP hinted on twitter at an incoming Korean comeback by announcing that he had written a new single for the girls.
May was an exciting month right off the bat. On the 3rd it was revealed that the Wonder Girls would be making a comeback by early June! Fans everywhere became excited. It had been nearly 8 months since their last comeback and stakes were high. Would they be able to maintain their popularity right through a competitive summer comeback scene? As the date of the return neared, the group became in high demand. Members Sun and Lim were among the exclusive celebrities in attendance at the Men in Black IIIpremiere in Seoul, where they chatted candidly with Will Smithas he shared how members of his family were fans of the group's music. The event made topics such as the girl's English skills, Sun's confident looks and Lim's growing beauty immediately popular on South Korea's search engines and news aggregators. On March 18, pictures began surfacing of what appeared to be a music video filming for the girl's comeback... Fans, once again, became excited and message boards filled with speculation about the incoming release. What would the Wonder Girls surprise their followers with?
Only a week later, on May 26, the group wowed the crowds at the MBC/Google Korea Music Wave Concert in California, standing out among a near army of South Korean pop performers. The girls delighted in entertaining and interacting with the audience, proving that their effort in touring the U.S had reaped a reward when it comes to stage presence.
June came, and as promised by their management company, Wonder Girls geared to present a new improved image through their summer comeback. On June 4, the mini album Wonder Partywas released and JYP Entertainment announced the group would hold their second Korean concert after three years, only a month later, on July 7. The album contained surprises for fans, as it included self-penned songs from group members Yubin and Yenny, as well as a true sophisticated and fun party concept that reflected its name. The lead single "Like This" proved to be a great departure from the more familiar Wonder Girls sounds, but did not come as too big of a surprise to those who had been following their musical progression. "Like This" is an upbeat hip hop-inspired track with an interesting and catchy chorus, where the dance movements are the spirit of the performance. The music video was set in a flash mob style, where the girls danced with the general public moving through different scenes. The MV proved to be popular, quickly reaching a million views in a single day and generating talk for its creativity among an ocean of boxed-in K-Pop videos.
It's considered a great achievement for a young Korean artist to be able to hold an individual concert in their home country. For a group to be able to hold not one, but two successful concerts in their career it is no small feat. On July 7, the Wonder Girls did exactly this, by delighting some 7,000 fans in Seoul with a lively concert that revisited their full back catalogue, fan favorites and recent hit singles. The concert served as a stepping stone to kick off their Asia concert tour and Japanese activities.
During the month of July fans were also given peeks at the girl's future U.S single - "Like Money". Speculation grew when it was revealed that a famous American singer would be featured in the song. Who could it be? Eventually the digital single was released on July 9 on iTunes and a video was uploaded to the official Wonder Girls Vevo YouTube channel. The MV quickly amassed views from all over the world, as Wonderfuls (Wonder Girls fans) and K-Pop fans in general were curious about what the group's advancement into the American music scene would sound like. The song and video did not disappoint fans, who described it as a step in the right direction with a matured sound and lyrics, more fit for American audiences. The song, which featured rapper and producer Akon, reached the iTunes electronic charts top 10 in more than a dozen countries, reaching #3 in the U.S and Canada. Within a week of release, faintly but surely, fans in the U.S and Europe were reporting hearing the song on their local pop stations and also reported sightings of the music video being played in large chain stores and malls. Despite not reaching the Hot 100, the track was followed with several editorials on billboard.com and grammy.com front pages. The single also proved to generate interest in Korea, as it reached #1 in multiple real time rankings like Soribada, Naver Music and Bugs despite not having any local promotion.
On July 17 the group uploaded their first official Japanese single, a remake of their hit "Nobody". The video pleasantly surprised the public with its upgraded slick take on the original "Nobody" concept. On the 25th of the same month, the Wonder Girls released their first Japanese EP Nobody for Everybodywhich upgraded two Korean language songs to include Lim's vocals, replacing original member Sunmi, who had departed in 2010.
August brought a whirlwind of promotions for the Wonder Girls, both in the U.S and Japan, as they geared for their Wonder World Tour 2012. JYP's artist collective "JYP Nation" held a sold out Seoul concert with the group in attendance on August 4, followed by two other sold-out concerts in Japan. The month was brought to closing on a high note, by the group's press tour in the U.S in Los Angeles, California. During the start of September the group continued to promote their American efforts in the U.S as well as holding presentations of their Asian Tour, this time taking place in Singapore. The month finally closed by performing by invitation at one of the most highly televised events in the world, the China CCTV Mid-Autumn Festival.
The American press and Asia touring continued through October. On the 8th Sun released her fourth OST contribution, releasing "Come To Me" for the drama "Ohlala Couple". This time, it did not leak on the internet. Just a day later, it was announced that she had been invited to be the guest speaker at the "Global Hallyu Forum" at George Washington University, in the U.S. Sun received praise in the Korean media for her fluent English speech, confidence and dept of topics discussed at the event. On the 24th of the same month, the group was invited to perform at the United Nations. They got the great honor of performing with legend Stevie Wonder, a personal inspiration for them, and meeting U.N secretary Ban Ki-Moon. On this day they also performed a live-band version of "Like Money" which delighted thousands of fans who had gathered to watch it online. From October 17 until October 26, the group participated in a radio tour of the U.S. They held concerts in Houston, New York and Orlando, while appearing for interviews on Vibe.TV and E! News, among others. During the tour, the Wonder Girls dropped hints about their future U.S album, while also discussing plans for their proposed television show on TeenNick.
During the month of November, as the year drew closer, the group maintained a strong pace. On the third of the month, they performed in Indonesia as part of their tour, and a week later released their Best-Of album in Japan - Wonder Best. On November 24 their performance in Vietnam took place. During all performances of the tour, the group was praised for conversing in English with fans and being able to use welcoming words in the local languages, as well as wearing local cultural outfits for the special "Be My Baby" stage in each city.
Just a few days later, on November 26, the group shook the media again in a way most people did not expect. Leader Sun announced she was engaged to be married in January 2013. Her boyfriend, a Korean-Canadian missionary, had met her during a trip to a mission in Haiti. Immediately, this topic took over Korea's news portals by storm and maintained this trending pace for many days. The internet users, fan and celebrity reaction was overwhelmingly positive, but many fans, while happy for Sun, could not help but feel like this could mean the end of the group. A few days later, management company JYPE reassured the public that the group was not breaking up, and that Sun would in fact continue to promote with them in the future. The agency also clarified that there were no plans for former member Sunmi, who had vowed out in 2010, to return to the group in the near future...
December closed with individual activities; a beautiful magazine cover and a music project for Lim, an announcement of Yenny's musical debut, two New Year's closing events in China, expectations about solo projects for Yubin and Sohee and a nearing marriage - which might just be the most anticipated event of the year. One can't help but wonder: what things will 2013 bring for the Wonder Girls? The group has been able to win the hearts of fans not only in Asia, but around the world, and six years and two member changes later, the history of the group just keeps re-writing itself.
In 2012, it appeared that the Wonder Girls filled the world with wonder, doing things they have always dreamed of as if there is no tomorrow.2012 was a good year to show what Sun's Wonder Girls look like, and how her leadership has shaped a group of phenomenal and graceful women.Led by Sun's example, a girl's wonder stems not from physical features but inner beauty only found from living one's dreams.