Unlike Exo who is supported by the most loyal fandom and by one of the most powerful agencies, Girls Day has followed a route of a struggling new girl group without big agency– which worked out pretty well in case of Kara. Girls Day, who slowly gained recognitions for about a year earlier, made several big hits in the spring and now gained a funny nickname “President of Korean Army” hich emphasizes their absolute popularity and influence in the all-male army demographics.
1) Signature Dance Routine
Dance. Dance. Dance. K-pop lives and dies with dance. For singers not effectively promoted by powerful agency, the easiest way to make a smashing hit is a signature dance routine in the chorus part that captures eyes of the audience. It should be extremely memorable, yet impressive, to the point when whenever the song plays, the scene of that group dancing to that part should automatically play in one’s mind. (To name few: Kara’s Mister. Brown Eyed Girls’ Abracadabra, BEAST’s Mystery)
Although a popular dance routine does not necessarily lead to actual album sales, it definitely makes the group’s name heard in major TV shows, which lead them to higher places in music chart. (How TV appearance affects music chart ranking? Read ‘Debunking how Music charts are made‘)
Numerous gifs have made on Girls Days signature ‘suspender dance’(above) of course, with some even complaining that several cameramen dont capture it from the right angle.
2) Three Factors, A Perfect Storm.
It took one fiasco, one scandal and one golden week to turn a minor group into the most talked-about idols in the local market.
Numerous headlines were made about Hyeri’s relationship with Tony Ahn who is 16 years older than her. That was in mid-April. Hyosung’s Ilbe fiasco disappointed so many fans who quickly found their replacement, Girls Day. That was in early May. K-pop is now over-saturated with girl groups with similar traits and one misstep by a group can lead to a golden opportunity for another.
By the time their suspender dance started trending, the university festival season came. (Korean university’s spring semester ends around first week of June and their annual spring festival are held in May) Girls Day was one of the most invited idol groups by the universities. That happened throughout May.
Appearing in university festivals is one of the most effective strategies for idol groups with shallow fan base– first of all, there are not that many major colleges to cover, and second, it is a chance to appeal to demographics who have enough the time and money to buy their K-pop products, unlike teenage fans.
One worrying fact for Girls Day is their lack of popularity in international market. To international fans, they appear as too girly, too tiny and lot less charismatic than other groups– perfectly fitting the stereotype of an Asian girl people try to flee away from. Kara overcame this issue by advancing to Japanese market. Will Girls Day become next Kara-figure? They surely need a good international strategy to move up to the next level of fame.
Part 1 was about Exo’s case.