For casual fans of K-pop's bigger crossover acts like Girls' Generation or 2NE1, here's another South Korean girl group to put on your radar: AOA
Still relatively new on the scene -- they debuted about two years ago -- the seven-member troupe released their latest video, "Like A Cat," on Monday (November 10), and it boasts everything those high-concept music videos from the "TRL" era always brought: elaborate costumes, choreography, intrigue, suspense, lasers.
And then there are also the cats. Or, at least the idea of cats. Check it out below.
I spoke with Jeff Benjamin, Billboard's K-pop columnist, about what it is that sets AOA apart from their peers. He boiled it down to two main components: 1.) their band concept and 2.) their sexiness.
"The quick backstory is AOA stands for 'Ace of Angels,' and it consists of the seven members, or 'angels,' as part of the dance-pop ensemble," Benjamin explained. "Four of those members also play instruments and perform as a part of AOA Black, AOA's band splinter group, along with the 'half-angel' member Youkyung." Playing instruments is rare for K-pop artists, he told me, as they usually only dance and sing.
As for that second, sexier component, Benjamin said: "It feels like they're helping K-pop embrace its sexuality." AOA buck the trend of "cuteness and innocence" that is apparently common in a lot of K-pop, without pushing the envelope too far for more conservative tastes. You could say they're changing the game sneakily...
...like a cat.