Rania was a South Korean girl group formed by DR Music in 2011, created by American Teddy Riley. In 2016, the group was renamed BP Rania and remained that way until 2018, when they returned to using Rania. In June of 2020, the group announced they would be rebranding and changing their name to Blackswan.
2011–2012: Debut as Rania and member changes
Rania made their debut in April 2011 as an eight-member group, consisting of Saem, Jooyi, Riko, Joy, Yijo, Di, T-ae and Xia. Due to the release of the album, Yijo revealed that she left the group. She also wasn’t here in the debut performances as a result she was having issues with work visa. On April 6 they performed on KBS' Music Bank, with the EP "Teddy Riley, the First Expansion In Asia and its title track "Dr Feel Good", composed by producer Teddy Riley. The song was originally given to Lady Gaga.
However, since their music video and live performances caused controversy in South Korea as some viewers felt that their image and concept were too provocative, Rania were forced to change their choreography and make minor changes to the outfits.
After the conclusion of "Dr Feel Good" promotions, the group returned in June with their first digital single "Masquerade", also composed by Riley.
Despite having planned an American debut, the group made no advancements. Shortly afterwards Riley announced that he would have nothing more to do with the group after falling out with their record label, releasing a statement saying "I wish them the best. It's not the girls I dislike, I love Rania, they would be better with me at SM Entertainment. Their manager does shady business, used me for my music. I love Rania, I just don't like their company business. That's why they are not getting bigger. They don't do business upfront. They used my name every where then back door me on the group. It's ok if they will regret it. If they leave that company, I will sign them up quickly. Please know the facts before attacking me. Attack their company. Such great talent will be wasted if they don't get better support."
The group released their second EP, Time to Rock da Show, on November 16, 2011. The music video for its title track, "Pop Pop Pop", written by Brave Brothers, was revealed four days later. On 30 May 2012, Rania performed a new song named "Killer" at the Dream Concert.
In June 2012, Jooyi revealed that she left the group; however, DR Music claimed she was on hiatus because her parents' house had been affected in the flood which occurred in Thailand at the time of the release. Jooyi deleted her official Rania twitter account soon after.
Rania then made a comeback on September 16 with second digital single "Style", whose music video was revealed on September 20. Jooyi did not participate in this comeback, though DR Music claimed she was still a member of the group.
2013–2014: Just Go, temporary hiatus and member changes
Rania released the lead single "Just Go" on March 8, 2013, along with their first full-length album, also titled Just Go (Goodbye's the New Hello). Riko did not participate in this release.
They also announced they would debut in America in summer 2013. Empire Records was to handle the girls' distribution while Fireworks was to handle their American management. Larry Rudolph and Adam Leber, two of Britney Spears' managers, were slated to be Rania's managers throughout their U.S. promotions. Starting May 21, Rania began filming for their MTV reality show Road to Fame in Los Angeles and other cities across the U.S. The show would feature the group's preparations for their U.S. debut and would air for three months. It was also revealed that the album would feature collaborations with both Snoop Dogg and 2 Chainz. However, Rania's American debut was delayed again in June. In the meantime, the group released a special digital single titled "Up" for fans on July 5, again without Riko.
In May 2014, the group signed with Spanish label INGENIOmedia and confirmed they would have a comeback in July with "Acceleration", with a second round of promotions in September. The label also confirmed that they were looking for a sixth member to replace Riko, who had been absent from the group since "Just Go". Following an incident where a staff member at INGENIOmedia leaked Rania's comeback track to a sasaeng fan, the company severed ties with the group, stating they were "taking too long". INGENIOMedia later released a statement saying that they were not looking for a member to replace Riko, apologizing for any confusion, and said that any news on member changes would have to come from Rania's company.
In late 2014, the agency announced Saem’s departure. Riko’s departure to focus on university was also finally announced.
Shannon Park would be added to the group.
2015–2016: Return with Demonstrate, Line-Up Changes and reformation as BP Rania
In January 2015, fans noticed that Jooyi had not made any public appearances with the group, to which DR Music replied that that she was simply on hiatus. Soon afterwards Sharon announced that she had left the group to focus on her modeling career.
In July of that year, the group made an appearance with two new members, Seulji and Hyeme. In October, they were announced to be having a comeback as a six-member group on November 6 with their third EP "Demonstrate". It was announced that Demonstrate would feature African-American rapper Alexandra Reid. On November 4, DR Music confirmed that Alexandra Reid would be joining the group, Alex is the first Black woman to be an official member of a South Korean girl group.
DR Music sent out a letter to fans announcing their Makestar project, informing them that Rania's comeback had been pushed back to August 2016 and that they were working on a Hyeme and Alex sub-unit instead. On July 13, 2016, however, Makestar announced that due to repeated failed attempts to contact DR Music about the project's progress and "the continued irresponsible behavior and stance taken by the Rania project creator, and our unwillingness to ignore the inconvenience this is causing to the project participants", the project was terminated and all money returned to the fans.
On May 26, it was revealed that the last three original members of the group (Di, T-ae and Xia) had chosen to not renew their contracts and left the group.
On August 15, 2016, Alex announced that she was the group's new leader.
DR Music stated that out of the seven DR Music trainees they would choose new Rania members. On December 23, 2016, DR Music revealed a teaser image for "BP Rania", "Black Pearl" Rania, in reference to Alex's darker skintone) and hinted a comeback as a seven-member group.
It was reported that former member Saem had rejoined the group two years after her departure in late 2014, and that she had changed her stage name to Yina. The single "Start a Fire" was released on December 30, 2016, along with their fourth EP of the same name.
2017: Refresh 7th and Line-Up Changes
On February 10 2017, DR Music announced that BP Rania would start promotions for their second song "Make Me Ah" from the Start a Fire EP, on February 14. It was also announced that this would be the first time that Alex would take part in the entire choreography.
On May 12, DR Music announced that they were looking for three to four new members to start BP Rania W, a worldwide group that would promote alongside the current members of BP Rania. At the end of March, Yina revealed that she had left the group again. The agency later confirmed her departure from the group to focus on acting.
BP Rania continued as a six member group, releasing their fifth EP "Refresh 7th" on August 12, with title track "Beep Beep Beep".
Promotions became controversial when fans and viewers noticed that Alex had few lines and spent the majority of the performance standing to the side while the remaining five members continued to dance and sing. When fans asked the company to clarify, the choreographer responded "[Alex] said she won't do it because she's a rapper", to which Alex replied via Twitter "If these lies keep magically surfacing, I'll go ahead and come out with the truth. Let it really hit the fan." DR Music then issued a statement saying "The rumors that Alexandra was not willing, able, or present at practice to participate in the full choreography are false. Her level of talent is surpassed only by her work ethic and dedication to the team. It is for those reasons that we gave her the position of leader."
Soon afterwards it was announced that Alex had left the group. Alex took to her own Twitter and critized the company.
On September 13, it was announced that the group would be making a comeback with "Breathe Heavy" from their Refresh 7th EP.
2018–2019: Forthcoming comeback as Rania, hiatus and member changes
In January 2018, after fans noticed that Ttabo had missed several appearances with the group, DR Music issued a statement stating she was filming a movie in China. On May 31, DR Music announced the departure of Yumin from the group due to her having "recently been faced with circumstances that make it increasingly hard for her to follow the extremely demanding team schedule".
It was also announced that the group would be having a comeback in June and releasing a "Best Of" album in August, but neither event occurred. Soon afterwards it was announced that Yumin and former Topp Dogg member P-Goon had married and were expecting a child. The pair has since divorced.
On June 28, it was announced that a new member named Namfon had joined the group, making her the group’s second Thai member. She made her first appearance on Rania's Malaysia tour.
On November 7, when asked via SNS by fans if she was still a member, Ttabo stated that she was an “ex-celebrity”. Shortly afterwards, fans noticed that every remaining member of the group had removed "Rania" from their social media accounts and that the company had unfollowed some of the members, leading to rumors that DR Music as a company had gone bankrupt and the group had unofficially disbanded.
On August 18, 2019, Rania announced via their official Instagram account that they would be performing in Romania. Fans began speculating that this meant Zi.U and Jieun had left the group. On August 28, the group's official YouTube account uploaded a video promoting their Romanian performance as well as revealing the three new members as Seunghyun, Larissa, and ex-Stellar member Youngheun, as well as confirming the departures of Jieun, Zi.U and Ttabo.
2020—present: Reformation as Blackswan, Goodbye Rania, temporary hiatus, Hyeme’s departure and forthcoming comeback
On January 25, 2020, Namfon was announced to have left the group.
On June 26, 2020, Hyeme announced through DR Music’s social media pages that the members of Rania at that time with the exception of Seunghyun would rebrand as B.S, which was later changed to Blackswan, with two new members; Judy and Fatou. On October 9, 2020 Blackswan‘a social media pages announced that they would be making their debut with the full album "Goodbye Rania" on October 16, 2020. The lead single was titled "Tonight".
On November 9, Hyeme was involved in a scandal in which it was revealed that she had allegedly scammed a friend out of 50 million KRW (approximately $44,800 USD). On November 10, DR Music announced Hyeme would left Black Swan due to the expiration of her five year contract. They also announced that, due to the aforementioned controversy, Blackswan would be going on a brief hiatus.
On December 9, Fatou mentioned Blackswan was preparing for their next comeback through an Instagram livestream.
Sources: KBS World, M-NET KPOP, bbvoxlover, Wikipedia, gfycat, MBCkpop, tumbral.
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I thought it would be nice to do Rania because they officially (?) said goodbye to Rania. Thoughts on the group? Out of all the installments I have done so far this is definitely one of the messiest ones. I feel like I kept writing about member changes, what a shady company.
They do have some very good releases though, in general I always really enjoyed their music. I also really liked Blackswan's Tonight and I'm curious to see what they will come up with from now on. It's too bad their agency still, after all these years, is not any better than they were before but I wish the members well. What is your favorite release? Thoughts on their future as a group?