The “debut song” can decide whether a group will flop or become a success story, except this isn’t always the case. These groups are examples of artists who overcame a poor debut to go on to great success.
Some people may enjoy these songs still but they were not well received by the public when they were first released and the groups have released more popular tracks since.
1. Gugudan (Wonderland)
After all the hype that Sejeong and Mina generated during their time on Produce 101 and during their time performing as part of I.O.I, fans expected something special from the debut of Gugudan.
What they got was as a song with a very generic beat and a concept that didn’t fit the girls. The “innocent” aegyo concept doesn’t work well for Gugudan who have plenty of badass energy and witty charisma to feed off of. No member truly got a chance to shine in Wonderland either, as all verses tend to blend together.
Thankfully, in tracks such as “A Girl Like Me”, we get to see the real talent of Gugudan with emphatic dancing and a concept which teeters on the edge of girl-crush.
And it seems like finally, Jellyfish have embraced this side of Gugudan, as their newest single “Not That Type” exemplifies the badass and imposing style of the girls. Each member gets to display their rebellious charms and fantastic abilities in this energetic track.
2. Girl’s Day (Tilting My Head)
This song is an autotuned mess. At times, it can actually be painful to listen to because of the static effect that the backing track seems to have. Their styling was also erratic, with strange wigs and make-up that didn’t really seem to contribute to the theme of the track.
But as we know now, once Girl’s Day switched to a more mature, sexy sound they took off almost instantly. Songs such as “Expectation” and “Something” are what the real Girl’s Day looks like. They are sexy and fierce with fantastic vocal and dancing ability. Girl’s Day turned out to be one of the innovators of the sexy-yet-tasteful concept.
3. Block B (Freeze)
Everyone today knows how cool and talented Block B is but you wouldn’t think this by listening to their debut song. The song can certainly be catchy at times but so much seems to have come as a result of questionable decisions, from the styling to the concept and even to some of the vocal decisions. It doesn’t focus on the hip-hop strengths of the group at all and instead opts for a similar sort of composition to what we would have seen from SHINee at the time except this doesn’t suit Block B. Block B themselves seem reluctant to perform this song these days.
Contrast this with “Shall We Dance” which is a perfect portrayal of what Block B is. A song with a very heavy focus on rap and hip-hop but also makes use of their talented vocalists to tie it all together. Not to mention that their styling is on-point with the concept of the song, though this could also be a sign of changing fashion trends.
4. IOI (Dream Girls)
Everyone had fallen in love with I.O.I before they even debuted because of their televised trials and tribulations on Produce 101. Everyone already knew how talented and hard-working each member was, so when “Dream Girls” was released everyone was somewhat surprised. The song still did quite well because of the popularity of Produce 101 but looking back now everyone can tell this wasn’t the best work of the girls. Most members don’t get any time to shine in the song and overall it’s easily forgettable.
Unfortunately, I.O.I did not even get a year to show what they were made of. However, they did manage a very good release in “Very Very Very” which was produced by Jin Young Park. The song is subtly buzzing with energy throughout and never really slows down, even during Nayoung and Mina‘s rap breaks. Even during the bridge, it’s going faster than what you’d normally expect from a similar song. Their styling is also an improvement, with the concept being more fun-loving and representative of the girls than what we saw in Dream Girls.
5. VAV (Under The Moonlight)
VAV was originally planned to have a vampire concept, hence the interesting imagery in the music video for their debut song. The chorus of the song is incredibly forgettable and some of the lyrics can make the listener wince, for example, “We are monsters bad boy basters” doesn’t work on any level.
It’s fortunate that A Team Entertainment saw the error of their ways and dropped the vampire concept entirely. Compare their first song to “Senorita” and the difference is striking. The sultry vocals, the sexy styling and the catchy beat stand out in particular. VAV are on their way to a successful career if they stay in this vein of music.
6. EXO (Mama)
This strange track had netizens calling EXO “the first SM group to flop”. The almost biblical concept was a bit of a miscalculation on SM’s part and the choreography wasn’t as slick as we now know EXO to be capable of. The song is admittedly catchy at some points but it’s hard to differentiate each member’s voice because of the way the song is composed. I think everyone can look back on Mama as the start of something great but maybe consider it a false start.
Compare this to Growl, the song which catapulted EXO into the stratosphere. With their one-shot music video, sleek styling and a hint of sexiness, this is what EXO truly is. And just look at the choreography compared to that of Mama, the difference is night and day. Everyone is thankful that SM let EXO show their talents and look at what they became as a result.