T-ara is a South Korean girl group, formed in 2009 by MBK Entertainment. A broad array of visual concepts have earned the group a "chameleon-like" reputation. The group officially debuted in July 2009 with the single "Lie". They went on indefinite hiatus on January 3, 2018 allowing the members to pursue their solo careers.
2009–2010: Formation, debut and Absolute First Album
The original pre-debut five T-ara members (Jiae, Jiwon, Eunjung, Hyomin and Jiyeon) trained together for three years under Mnet Media. The meaning behind the group's name, which is based on the word "tiara", comes from the idea that they will become the "queens of the music industry".
In April 2009, they released their first song "Joheun Saram (Ver. 1)" (좋은 사람, "Good Person") for the Cinderella Man soundtrack.
Jiyeon teamed up with labelmates SeeYa and Davichi for a collaboration single titled "Yeoseong Shidae" (여성시대, "Women's Generation"), which was released in May 2009.
In June 2009, Mnet Media announced that Jiae and Jiwon would be leaving T-ara due to differences in music style. The first new member to be added to the group was Boram, the daughter of singer Jeon Young-rok and actress Lee Mi-young. Soyeon, a former trainee of SM Entertainment who was supposed to be the leader of Girls' Generation, and Qri were added to T-ara three weeks prior to debut.
In early July 2009, the group was moved from Mnet Media to its subsidiary company Core Contents Media.
T-ara made their debut on MBC's Radio Star talk show on July 29, 2009.
Their first performance was on Mnet's M Countdown music show on July 30, where they performed "Geojitmal" (거짓말, "Lies") and "Norabollae?" (놀아볼래?, "Wanna Play?") from their debut single.
Their debut was looked upon negatively by webpostings, where people stated that it was lipsynched and commented that it seemed like an "elementary school" performance. The group announced afterwards that future performances would be live.
In September 2009, Eunjung, Soyeon, Hyomin and Jiyeon collaborated with labelmates Kwangsu, Jihyuk, and Geonil of Supernova for the single "TTL (Time to Love)". It was released on September 15, 2009, and became both groups' first number one song as it topped many of the online charts. T-ara and Supernova collaborated again for "TTL Listen 2", a sequel to "TTL (Time to Love)", which was released on October 9, 2009, and included all the members from both groups.
T-ara released their debut studio album, Absolute First Album, on November 27, 2009. In order to determine the album's title track, Core Contents Media held a survey in which the public had to choose between "Bo Peep Bo Peep" or "Cheoeum Cheoreom" (처음처럼, "Like the First Time"). 9,000 people took the survey on various music portals with 53% (4,770 people) choosing "Cheoeum Cheoreom" over "Bo Peep Bo Peep". However, the latter was promoted on music shows instead for unknown reasons. "Bo Peep Bo Peep" peaked at number four on the Gaon chart, while "Cheoeum Cheoreom" peaked at number ten.
At the 24th Golden Disk Awards, T-ara was awarded Rookie of the Year along with girl group 4minute.
The group won their first-ever music show award with "Bo Peep Bo Peep" on the New Year's Day episode of Music Bank. The song went on to win five awards in total: two on Music Bank and three on Inkigayo, earning them a "Triple Crown".
Later in January 2010, the group announced promotions for their follow up single, "Cheoeum Cheoreom", which ended quickly as Soyeon was diagnosed with H1N1.
"Wonder Woman" is the second collaboration digital single between SeeYa, Davichi, T-ara. Although T-ara is credited in the single, only Hyo Min and Eun Jung participated.
In February 2010, the group announced a re-release of their debut album under the title Breaking Heart. The two lead singles, "Neo Ttaemune Michyeo" (너 때문에 미쳐; "I Go Crazy Because of You") and "Naega Neomu Apa" (내가 너무 아파, "I'm Really Hurt"), were digitally released on February 23, 2010, and peaked at number one and number thirty-one on the Gaon chart, respectively. T-ara held their comeback performance on the same day on M Countdown, and won several music awards for "Neo Ttaemune Michyeo" over the course of their promotions: two consecutive Mutizen wins on Inkigayo and one first place award on M Countdown.
Breaking Heart was released physically on March 3, 2010, peaking at number two on the weekly Gaon chart and number thirty-five on the yearly chart; selling 40,695 copies. After promotions for "Neo Ttaemune Michyeo" ended, T-ara performed "Naega Neomu Apa" on music shows until early April 2010.
On July 16, 2010 T-ara representatives announced the addition of Hwayoung Ryu as the seventh member of the group. The reason given was that with so many solo projects, they would be able to have a more complete lineup for T-ara when individual members were filming or doing other appearances. They also stated that it would allow the members to undertake more solo activities, and would give them all some relief from their heavy schedules.
Soyeon released "What Should We Finish?" as part of the Death Bell 2 ost.
T-ara released the digital download for "Wae Ireoni" (왜 이러니, "Why Are You Being Like This"), the lead single for their first extended play, Temptastic, on November 23, 2010. Temptastic was released in digital format on December 1, 2010, along with their second single, "Yayaya". The album's physical release was delayed until December 3 due to the bombardment of Yeonpyeong earlier in November 2010.
T-ara held their first comeback performance through Music Bank on December 3 and began promotions with their new seventh member, Hwayoung, and new leader, Boram, and received two consecutive wins for "Wae Ireoni" and "Yayaya" on M Countdown.
Internationally, T-ara caught a lot of flak for their music video and live performances for “Yayaya,” because it appropriated stereotypical images of Native Americans. The lyrics feature very little words (in English or Korean) in favor of chants and yells. Stereotypical gestures make up the choreography, including T-ara’s members bobbing their hands over their mouths and prancing around an attractive male tied to a pole. Feather headbands, face paint, beaded jewelry, teepees and tribal pattern were used all used as part of their stages.
2011–2012: Breakthrough and bullying controversy
T-ara's second EP, John Travolta Wannabe, was released on June 29, 2011. It charted at number three on the Gaon Album Chart and has sold 30,116 copies as of 2011. The EP's only single, "Roly-Poly", peaked at number two on the Gaon Digital Chart and number one on the Korea K-Pop Hot 100 chart. The single became a breakthrough success, becoming the top-grossing and highest-selling single of 2011 in South Korea with over four digital million units sold. "Roly-Poly" was awarded Best Music Video at the 3rd Melon Music Awards and Singer of the Year (July) at the 1st Gaon Chart Awards, and was nominated Best Dance Performance by a Female Group and Song of the Year at the 13th Mnet Asian Music Awards.
The group released a limited edition re-issue of John Travolta Wannabe, titled Roly-Poly in Copacabana, on August 2, 2011. The title track, "Roly-Poly in Copacabana", is a eurodance remix of "Roly-Poly", named after the song "Copacabana" which was popularized in the 80's in Jongno disco clubs. The album peaked at number three, while the single peaked at number forty and forty-five on the Gaon and Billboard Korea K-Pop Hot 100 charts. The group began follow up promotions for the remixed single on Music Bank.
T-ara released their debut Japanese single "Bo Peep Bo Peep" on September 28, which peaked at number one on the Oricon weekly singles chart with over 49700 copies sold, making them the first non-Japanese girl group to rank at number one for a debut single in Oricon history. The single peaked at number one on the Billboard Japan Hot 100, and was certified Gold by the RIAJ for both full-length cellphone downloads and PC downloads.
In November 2011, T-ara released their third extended play, Black Eyes, which charted at number two on the Gaon charts. The album was preceded by the release of "Cry Cry", which peaked at number one on the Billboard Korea K-Pop Hot 100 and won two consecutive first-place awards on M Countdown. The music video for "Cry Cry" was noted for having a billion Korean won production budget and a thirty-minute drama story line.
T-ara promoted a ballad version of "Cry Cry" alongside their title track.
The group released their second Japanese single, a remake of "Yayaya" from their Temptastic EP, on November 30. The single peaked at number seven on the Oricon charts and number six on the Billboard Japan Hot 100.
In December 2011, Core Contents Media announced that T-ara's third leader Hyomin would be passing on her leadership to Soyeon. The group performed a three-day mini-concert tour titled X-mas Premium Live, that was held at the Shinagawa Stella Hall in Tokyo, the Zepp in Nagoya, and the Zepp in Osaka.
T-ara rose to become the second biggest girl group in Korea in 2011 by ranking at number eight on the Gallup Korea poll.
T-ara and Davichi released their Christmastide ballad, "Uri Saranghaetjanha" (우리 사랑했잖아, "We Were in Love") on December 23, 2011; which was later included on T-ara's Funky Town re-release album. The single reached number one on the Gaon Chart and peaked at number two on the Billboard Korea K-Pop Hot 100. Both groups performed the song weekly on SBS's Inkigayo in the midst of T-ara's heavy preparations for their year-end ceremonies.
T-ara re-released Black Eyes under the title "Funky Town" on January 3, 2012. The album peaked at number one on the Gaon weekly album chart and number two on the monthly album chart, selling 76.749 copies. "Lovey-Dovey" was released as the second single from the album, which peaked at number one on both the Gaon and Billboard Korea K-pop Hot 100 charts. The single has sold more than 3 million digital copies in South Korea alone.
In February, Forbes Korea, in celebration of their ninth year of establishment, reported the year's list of the "Top 40 Power Celebrities". T-ara ranked on the list at number seventeen, thus making them as the third most powerful girl group and the seventh most powerful female celebrity in Korea.
In April, Core Contents Media announced that two new members were to be added to T-ara's line-up in July, thus transforming T-ara into a nine-member group. On May 30, 2012, 14-year-old Dani was announced as one of the group's new members. She later starred in the drama version of T-ara's "Day by Day" music video. However, she never made her official debut as a member of T-ara. On June 14, 2012, Core Contents Media introduced 18-year-old Areum as the new maknae and last of the group's two new additions.
The group released their first Japanese album "Jewelry Box" on June 6, 2012. The album debuted at number two on the Oricon weekly albums chart with sales of over 57,000 copies. They embarked on their first Japanese concert tour T-ara Japan Tour 2012: Jewelry Box in Nagoya on June 19; the tour's attendance was expected to exceed 40,000 people.
On July 3, T-ara released their fourth extended play, Day by Day, which charted at number five on the Gaon chart. The title track, "Day by Day", was released as a single on the same day, peaking at number two. The first comeback performance for "Day by Day" was held on July 7, 2012, alongside "Don't Leave" on Music Core, which was backed by a 70-person orchestra and featured the stage debut of the group's eighth member, Areum.
On July 25 and 26, T-ara held a concert in Japan, with Hwayoung only performing one song due to a leg injury.
After the concert, one member of T-ara tweeted a general message about determination, and four of the other members agreed with her. Subsequently, Hwayoung and her sister, Hyoyoung, tweeted about a "bad person," which gave Korean netizens the impression that there was a conflict within the group. Netizens retweeted the messages and speculated that Hwayoung was being bullied. When the bullying controversy got out of hand, Core Contents Media abruptly announced Hwayoung's immediate departure on July 30, after being with the group for one year and eight months.
CCM's CEO, Kim Kwang-soo, claimed that Hwayoung's contract was terminated because staff members felt her behavior was hurting teamwork, and the bullying controversy was not the reason for her departure. The controversy caused the group to temporarily suspend activities, while the members continued with their individual activities. Both Hwayoung and the other members of T-ara have said that facts about their bullying issue were made-up by netizens, but on the other hand confirmed there was in fact a conflict between Hwayoung and the other members.
After the scandal got a lot of press coverage and people started criticizing T-ara very heavily, netizens tried to find evidence of bullying. T-ara lost a lot fans, performances, CFs and other work opportunities.
Former T-ara fans were seen breaking, cutting and even burning T-ara merchandise and albums. They went on to spread false information, they left negative comments everywhere and someone even threw eggs at T-ara's company for adding Hwayoung in the first place.
It was later announced that there would be no changes to T-ara's upcoming comeback; however, their agency took the statement back and announced that their comeback would be postponed indefinitely.
Their Day by Day extended play re-issue, Mirage, was eventually released on September 3, 2012. Two singles, "Sexy Love" and "Najgwa Bam (Love All)" (낮과 밤, "Day and Night"), were released from the album on the same day, with "Sexy Love" peaking at number four on the Gaon charts and number three on the Billboard Korea K-pop Hot 100 charts.
On September 10, 2012, it was announced that the group would release a best of album in Japan consisting of all of their Korean singles to date (excluding "Day by Day" and "Sexy Love") in celebration of one year since their Japanese debut. The album was eventually released on October 10. On September 26, T-ara released the Japanese version of "Day by Day", which is mainly composed of scenes from their Korean music videos for that song.
In October, T-ara released the Japanese version of "Sexy Love" and shortly after, the group departed to Japan to promote for their upcoming single.
Sources: TV-People , MBCkpop, wikipedia, channel-korea, Superflamess, Kpop4HD, gifer, fanpop
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There's so much to cover I decided to split them into 2 parts. I really hope you enjoyed the first part and that you're looking forward to part 2! I'm going to disable comments here so hopefully we can talk about T-ara's journey in part 2. Next time I'll also give my full opinion because I have a lot to say..
Can you still fully dance along to Roly-Poly?