Just in case you haven’t seen it yet, the first challenge of the second season of Queendom 2 had the competing groups perform their “signature song”. Hyolyn selected SISTAR’s Touch My Body, Brave Girls opted to mix Chi Mat Ba Ram with (obviously) Rollin’, Kep1er didn’t seem to have a choice but to perform Wa Da Da, Viviz, aka GFriend Lite chose a remix of Time for the Moon Night and Rough, and Loona was supposed to have PTT as their entry, which they, unfortunately, missed because they all contracted COVID in the day of competition.
But for WJSN, the task presented them with a bit of a challenge. The group seemed lost as to which song they will perform, as they felt that despite having really good songs, they don’t have that single breakout hit that exploded and made them household names. Even for casual viewers, it was a bit heartbreaking to see the Cosmic Girls facing their first “challenge” in the competition. But then, does the group not really have a signature song? Let’s review their lead releases and see if they indeed are challenged when it comes to picking the single song that represents them.
“Mo Mo Mo” (모모모)
For a debut track, Mo Mo Mo suffices. But then, considering a number of factors, you can say it is a bit underwhelming. These factors include:
- That WJSN is the dongsaeng group to SISTAR. As in THE SISTAR, the group that has only known single digits in the charts, from the debut track Push Push that peaked at #9 to the farewell song Lonely that topped the charts. As in the group of Hyorin, their competition in Queendom 2. In hindsight, that record was only established because it can’t be denied that Every. Single. SISTAR. Track. Rocks. That is an indisputable fact and Mo Mo Mo, unfortunately, doesn’t hold a candle against even a SISTAR b-side track.
- In relation to the first point, WJSN is produced by Starship Entertainment, which has a track record of producing S-tier groups. Until WJSN debuted, the other group Starship created aside from SISTAR was Monsta X, which debuted with Trespass, a song that a lot of boy group trainees still perform for evaluations up to this day. Well, there was Boyfriend, but every company is allowed one huge fail, right?
- The song itself is not outstanding. It is cloyingly sweet, even with the inclusion of Exy’s rap verses. The visuals were maximized in the music video, but the dancing skills of the Chinese line and the abilities of the vocal line were underutilized. Considering that the year also saw the debut of Blackpink, the girls really needed to pull out all the stops for them to get some attention. And this song didn’t do them factors.
- The creepy music video had the group holding a welcome party where they invited an astronaut who turned out to be Lee Kwangsoo. As in Running Man Lee Kwangsoo. The girls, who were at most in their late teens or early 20s, had to gush over Kwangsoo when his identity was revealed. That was weird. But all 12 were super pretty though.
Finally, it has to be said that this rather cutesy concept is not something the group will likely hold on to or establish as their image for the rest of their career. So, as much as Mo Mo Mo indeed suffices as a debut track*, it’s not strong enough to be a signature song.
*Sidenote: A lot of debut tracks have gone on to be important items in some groups’ discographies. Into the New World by Girls’ Generation, Push Push by SISTAR, Mollayo by Apink, Hot Issue by 4Minute, Fire by 2NE1, Boombayah by BlackPink, Latata by G-IDLE… need we say more? The point is, there are strong debut songs and there are those that aren’t. Mo Mo Mo isn’t.
“Catch Me” (캐치미)
After Mo Mo Mo comes Catch Me, which is practically a 180-degree turn from their saccharinely sweet image in their debut track. This time, the girls donned short black outfits that looked like they were going on an intense workout routine but ended up filming a sexy music video. It felt weird to see the girls performing choreography that can be described as “racy” so early in their careers, with a lot of booty popping and floorwork reminiscent of Hyoryn’s solo dance moves.
Maybe we can change this to growing pains, but admittedly, the song didn’t do much to advance the group’s popularity. They may have shown their range in terms of pulling off totally different concepts, but upon first listen (and first viewing of the music video), many did hope for better songs and better fitting concepts for the group.
Finally! Without a doubt what should have been the group’s debut song had they wanted to present themselves with a bang! Released later in the same year as Mo Mo Mo and Catch Me, the song was the first of the group as 13, with the then-recent inclusion of Yeonjung who just finished her contract with Produce 101 project group I.O.I. People also noted that this was their first release that had a music video that more or less adhered to their supposed image of cosmic girls, as it features the girls in a somehow mystical wilderness with a falling star (or comet?) falling with the newest member inside. Well, unless you count Lee Kwangsoo in an astronaut costume as “cosmic”, the music video to Secret was really the most mystical and cosmic as the group can get in their careers that then has only spanned six months.
Many opined that it was rather unfortunate that it had to take Yeonjung’s inclusion to WJSN for Starship to get its act together and really push the group with both a solid song and concept. Why didn’t they do this from the start so that the group has an easier time building a fanbase, as it wasn’t really sure whether Mo Mo Mo and Catch Me did the group any favors. While it goes without saying that Yeonjung definitely did her part as a former I.O.I member to raise WJSN’s profile, many were also concerned that the group would be too dependent on the amount of fame the new member would bring to the group.
Considering that WJSN already had a strong line-up even before the late entry of I.O.I’s former main vocal, people felt that the group got the chopped liver treatment during the recent sequence of events. Moreover, they also feared that Yeonjung’s recognized vocal talents may cause the other main vocalists to give way and make space for the new maknae. Which unfortunately did happen in the next few releases as many noted the obvious decrease in the number of lines for one of the group’s main vocalists, Dawon.
Otherwise, this song is everything you’d imagine a WJSN song to be. Definitely a great gateway song for those who want to join Ujung.
“I Wish” (너에게 닿기를)
My fav mv of WSJN is i wish and happy face😁
I like this girl rapping! pic.twitter.com/QIw5iwQ823
— ⭐️ ⏳ (@ChainedUp2Vixx) February 25, 2018
I Wish is light and fun, WJSN style. This was one of those WJSN where it feels like Yeonjung was just in every verse. Which of course, works for fans of the I.O.I alum but a rather sad plight of things for fans of members like Change Xiao who only had to repeat the line “tell me why” and its variation “just tell me why” in every chorus and Dawon who went from the main vocalist to someone who only sang for 11 seconds the entire song. Still, it is a good song though, because the message of love and admiration isn’t as saccharine-ly worded as expected in most innocent girl group concept songs.
Although not too intense in the cosmic treatment, the music video still employs a bit of the mystical and cosmic elements the group has started to own since they released the Secret music video. We have the girls finding their way through a maze and in some scenes, dancing in a field of pink grass under a rainbow. That still counts for something in the cosmic world, eh?
Another light and fun track, many did appreciate Happy because it’s a song about… happiness, obviously. The song itself sounds quite refreshing as it’s super bright. But then, please do not be deceived by the overly bright rendition of the girls as the high energy does not hinder Yeonjung from doing the vocal runs that would be hard for other groups to copy. This reminds me of Queendom’s Episode 2 when Kep1er apparently set their sights on covering Happy, which made me wonder how they would arrange it in such a way that would omit Yeonjung’s vocal calisthenics. Because seriously, who in Kep1er can do it?
The music video had the girls play cheerleaders in some scenes and highly competitive dodgeball players. Serious fun ensues. Both the song and the music video veer away from cosmic references, but it’s okay since they’ve established the strength of their concept inspired by their group’s name. So, this one’s a win as well.
“Dreams Come True” (꿈꾸는 마음으로)
Disclaimer: This song is the author’s personal favorite, so expect inevitable bias ahead.
Any song that starts with a drumroll and leads to a bass guitar that sounds like the opening credits of an anime will forever be a superior song. And that’s what Dreams Come True is. Since it conjures images of anime characters that are basically superheroes and or people whose concerns are very out of this world, then yes, the song is pretty much faithful to the group’s cosmic concept. The song’s lyrics are also big on things like dreams, trust, and destiny (that the singer and the subject of the song will realize their seemingly challenged love). The chorus goes:
Trust, trust me
Hold tight to this moment, give me more courage
With a dreaming heart
I’ll go into your embrace that I dreamed about
I make the impossible, possible
Trust in me Trust in you
Whatever it takes, we will meet
I’ll find you, I’ll run to you
I’m stronger because of you
And with the heavy drum accompaniment, it really sounds like a song only WJSN, with the group’s concept, can justify.
As for the music video, the overly filtered footage with the planets or other celestial bodies shown, the girl’s faces shown in rapid succession at the start of the video (again, very anime-inspired), Bona in a bed floating in the clouds, Eunseo seeing a shooting star (or was that a comet?) flashing across the sky as she looks up from texting on her phone, Mei Qi holding and releasing balls of light, Dayoung (and later, Soobin) running as soon as she saw a cosmic alert message on her phone and tripping, as everyone fathered to a helipad amidst a lightning storm, then Bona falling off from her floating bed to unite the girls who have gathered in a field this time (maybe they teleported from the helipad to the field?), then everybody holding hands as they send the same cosmic image, which may represent their reunion, to the sky. Then, Bona wakes up, realizing it was just a dream, but no! Her phone shows that cosmic storm image again. So maybe everything did happen. But yes, the entire music video hammered the entire cosmic concept to its viewers, that is if we’re not yet convinced that they are the Cosmic Girls.
P.S. This has been the last WJSN with the three Chinese members included. Chengxiao, Meiqi, and Xuanyi have been pursuing individual activities in China since.
“Save Me, Save You” (부탁해)
⊹ ⋆ﾟ #wsjn • save me, save you
﹆ mv perfomance fix crop cropped pinned video kpop pic.twitter.com/CapSzFrEUW
— 📁 (@ggcropps) April 28, 2022
Sexy-ish schoolgirl? A few songs after the anomalous release that was Catch Me, which had the then-rookies in rather risque outfits, the girls returned with another song that had a music video that can make any viewer wonder, “Why do I feel like the video is suggesting things to me?”
Anyway, back to the song. By now, the group has practically cornered the market for singing songs about distant lovers who believe in destiny and wonder about the day when they will finally be reunited. Intersperse that with lines about dreams and the future, that is your template for a WJSN song. And there’s something about the song’s arrangement and instrumentation that can make any long-time follower of k-pop, in general, recognize this as a typical track from the girls.
The sexy vibes are mostly pushed by the music video that calls to mind Harry Potter in a not-so-innocent setting. You have the girls attend what looks like a school of magic where you can see them perform some magical things with flowers and butterflies. Nothing weird about that, right? Well, maybe there’s one where they transform from wearing their uniforms to black and white ensembles with fishnet socks (yes, socks, not stockings) while dancing in some antique study hall.
So the storyline is not particularly risque, so what gives this music video some serious sexy vibes? Along with the live performances, it is the choreography that is the culprit! Lots of moves where the girls touch each other and clapping in weird areas just give the song this uniquely strange and sexy vibe. And when you have the girls in those black and white outfits doing the weird clapping move, it does make you think.
Then, you have a section of the video where everything is burning, including a scene where everybody leaves an auditorium except Bona who stays while the chairs in the rows before her are burning. And Seola is also left by herself in a classroom while crying a single silver tear. Altogether a weird music video. But hey we can’t really be mad at the song, as this gave the girls their first music show win two years after their debut.
“La La Love”
WSJN La La Love acquired! ❤️ I think the signature is Yeonjung pic.twitter.com/ajGg1DIhi2
— Paulomus (@Paulomus) March 6, 2019
This was one confusing WJSN release that went by and did not really gain any traction or buzz for some reason. The song is okay, the music video is okay, and both didn’t really bring anything new to the table. The music video starts with Luda typing something, then the girls dancing and doing things in a carnival, like dancing in the carnival, watching a horse (I don’t know why they didn’t feature an elephant instead), Yeorum making cotton candy, Dawon reading a newspaper (beats me as to why she is doing that in a carnival), Eunseo, Bona, and Exy riding those huge circus loops, and some members inspecting light bulbs and empty birdcages. They also have a scene where they are all seated around a table, playing Uno (or some game with really colorful cards) and in some scenes, a member standing on top of the table, which may lead the viewer to believe these ladies had a bit too much to drink.
But after a two-song absence (with Dreams Come True and Save Me Save You not charting which is just pure injustice), La La Love brought WJSN back to the Gaon Singles Charts. I guess the song has its charms, after all.
This is the Cosmic Girls doing an impression of SISTAR. By the time Boogie Up was released, it has been two years since the Queens of Summer surrendered their tiaras, so it may be that WJSN felt that the field is open for aspirants to the position. Boogie Up conjures sunny feelings that songs like Shake It, Touch My Body, and I Swear successfully accomplished with SISTAR, and so it makes sense that the new queens of Starship would also be on point in this. Besides, Boogie Up is the lead single of the group’s EP titled For the Summer, so if there’s still any doubt that the group wanted some of that summer music chart action, then those should have already been quashed.
The music video is also pretty much SISTAR in 2019. Filmed in Okinawa, the girls were shown lounging in the pool, lounging on the beach, going to buildings with English signs; the only thing missing is for the group to leave their “jobs” and ride in a convertible with the top down and this would have been another SISTAR video. But of course, since there are ten people, they couldn’t possibly fit in a convertible, so they instead had a party in a club where they were the only ones in attendance, very reminiscent of the Girls Generation Party music video. But instead of drinks, the cosmic girls partied with glow sticks. Still pretty wholesome, eh?
“As You Wish” (이루리)
Finally, another song for WJSN to really stamp their trademark on. Both the song and the music video are quite earnest and are not as flashy as their other songs that adhere more to their cosmic concept. The lyrics are about wanting to be that person who makes the dreams and wishes of your loved ones come true. The music video is quite interesting too, as it has the girls working in some facility where they are operating phones and reading letters, which we may interpret as an office that receives people’s wishes, as we see a little girl sending one of those wishing sky lanterns at the start of the video. Of course, we also see the girls dance in the office and have coffee breaks in cable cars. Finally, towards the end of the video, the girls rush outside to watch a display of fireworks.
As the song was released before 2019 ended, the song did give strong holiday vibes. True enough, when the new year of 2020 rang, Koreans listened to the song, making it chart at the top of Melon’s 5-minute realtime chart (it eventually settled at #4 and Bugs in January 2020. It also reached number 4 on Genie and number 2 on FLO on the same day. This has continued for the past two New Years, with the song topping the MelOn, Bugs, and Genie real-time charts in January 2021 and the MelOn, Bugs, and Genie real-time charts. It goes without saying that this is definitely WJSN’s signature song, so it is a bit worrying that the girls up to now still do not feel like they have a signature song.
While most of the songs WJSN has released stick to the cosmic concept save for a few stray tracks like Happy, Chase Me, and Boogie Up, this one belongs to the latter. Butterfly, which is included in the group’s ninth (9th! You read that right!) EP, Neverland, has the group go the ethereal fairytale route. Lots of free-flowing fabric, lots of arm flailing movements, and obviously, lots of butterflies in the music video. The song is solid, and the music video is great, but definitely, not a contender for WJSN signature song for the simple reason that it doesn’t really support a concept the group has invested in / may have plans to invest in. Nevertheless, it is a solid item in the group’s discography.
KPOP MV REVIEW – WSJN EDITION (‘UNNATURAL’ REVIEW) https://t.co/cLmHRVZkUM
— ali ali 🇵🇷 | TXT – 'GOOD BOY GONE BAD' REVIEW 📌 (@alililiyabbay) March 31, 2021
Here’s another strong contender for WJSN signature song. The latest WJSN release has the group entering their sophisticated and elegant era. The song is in a key only extremely talented people can execute and it seems their stylists for the music video were given million-dollar budgets for the girls to look that polished. And yes, for anyone who still needs convincing that the group’s vocal line is one of the most talented in k-pop, please look for the video of the group performing the song with a live band. That they make it look so easy is just the icing on the cake.
So, to answer the girls’ concern about what their signature song is, I shall offer my suggestions:
- As You Wish
- Dreams Come True
- Save Me, Save You
As they did perform As You Wish for the challenge in Queendom, I am very pleased. And I hope the girls go easy on their insecurities and be kinder to themselves as it’s a sure thing that they will face more challenges in the course of the competition.
Featured Image: WSJN Official Twitter