Something beautiful is happening under our noses: Bang Minah’s solo debut. Minah is best known for her role as the main vocalist for k-pop girl group Girl’s Day. It was there that her adorably mischievous image was carefully curated with early videos like “Hug Me Once” and “Twinkle Twinkle”, whose titles reveal them as what they are: sickly sweet, bubblegum pop. Her signature look is deep red hair and blunt bangs, though it is briefly abandoned in the sexier video for “Expectation”. With that video we saw a slow transformation in Minah, from the sweetheart to the scorned vixen. The next time we saw Minah, she had again donned her bangs to appear in “Female President”, which mimicked the trend of “Expectation” – female empowerment. Both videos present a strong argument for sexual and social liberation. Following that, Girl’s Day released “Something” and “Darling” and Minah abandoned her bangs for good. “Something” is a video built on allure – complete with thigh-high skirt slits, black feathers, and a decadent fur coat. “Darling” is a summery fan service video that revisits Minah’s aegyo (a Korean word meaning “winsome”, popularly used to describe the wiles of girls whose cutesy charms are irresistible) with a sex kitten twist. She’s sporting pastel highlights and a whole lot of winking. Girl’s Day’s next release is “I Miss You”, a broken-hearted ballad. This video is speckled with scenes of Minah crying over a mug of tea, still looking altogether breathtaking as a brunette. Chronologically and thematically that brings us to her debut video, “I Am A Woman Too” (also the title of her mini album).
I’ll admit upon first watching this I was unimpressed. To my eye, her new look was much like Hyuna in her recent video “Red”. Though the blonde highlights she has adopted are fairly unique, the honeyed circle lenses felt too reminiscent. I even got an occasional pang of Jung Eun Ji in “Mr. Chu”. My second run-through of this video was much different. I saw all the things that made this fresh, new, and so very distinctly Minah.
The video opens with a shot of her walking in killer red pumps, as all good music videos do. Each scene, every outfit (and there are many) is in cool tones. Most of the video is set in what appears to be an abandoned home where Minah is the only inhabitant and everything is just a little too big for just her. Among her wardrobe and setting are a long white shirt in a lonely and dilapidated bed, a smart red suit sitting at an empty dinner table surrounded by signs of ruin, and glittering hot-pants paired with a flowing blouse in a peeling room where most of the dance routine is held. Minah’s voice is sweet and silky as ever, pleading with an ex lover who thinks she is always strong, telling him she is not just a pretty piece of furniture, but a woman – a human being. The lyrics of this song hearken back to those of Girl’s Day’s “I Miss You”, even going so far as to also mention waking up in tears. This is purely conjecture, but the consistency makes me wonder if maybe it was Minah’s own personal heartbreak which inspired both songs. You’d believe it, hearing her lament say you’re sorry now and I love you, love you, love you. Just before the release of “I Miss You” in October of 2014 she announced the end of her relationship with football player Son Heung-min.
Though there is an occasional male dance partner representing her lost love, there is no sight of the man providing moral support in English to Minah throughout her tears. Despite this, I think he’s a nice touch. Through Minah’s broken stare as she passes each day, her stoic numbness contrasted with the hopeful beat, and her belts begging for a better way to live this video offers rich, subtly sexy visuals and emotional complexity. She has thoroughly shed her aegyo image in favour of a more mature look. I am very much looking forward to seeing how Minah continues to grow. This is a strong start for her and there’s no doubt that she will be given more chances to show us what she’s got. Her mini album, titled the same as the single, has already sold 10,000+ copies in less than two weeks. DreamTea Entertainment has their hands full with this idol.
In the future, I’d like to see Minah playing more powerful roles in her songs. More redolent of “Female President”. She follows the trend of girl group vocalists going solo, and I would love to hear her scold the world for underestimating her because she has a pretty face. Other recently solo artists are CL of 2NE1, an r&b k-hop group. CL released the video for Baddest Female, an epic rap anthem for “bad meaning good, not bad meaning bad, ya know” bad girls everywhere. Hyuna of hip-pop group 4Minute released the aforementioned “Red”, a song that is all about Hyuna herself and how redhot she truly is. Minah has the potential to follow this trend as well, the trend of female empowerment. CL is putting out hotter rhymes than any American rapper, Hyuna is a veritable queen of self love, and Minah could take her place as empowered minx, able to turn on her aegyo one moment and curve you the next. I’ve been waiting for coquetry to be the next tool in taking down the patriarchy and I think Minah could do that for us.
Erin Marie Young--theatre major in FUBAR, NC, failed writer, perpetually trying to teach her three cats how to do kpop dance routines or at the very least wield a sword. Find her Twitter: @cleferin.