First Impressions and Expectations #1: AOA

Time for the first part of a (hopefully!) fortnightly feature. There’s a lot of rookies coming out at us these days (which is a bad thing in my opinion), so I don’t have the time to check every single one nor do I have the will to try to do so as most generate no interest to me. So, every two weeks I am going to write about one rookie, whether group or solo, pop, ballad or indie etc. I’ll try and mix things up as much as I can and if within the fortnight I find no artist to write about I’ll write about one from within the past few months. The blog needs a constant to it so I hope this can be something that helps people find some of the “worthy” debuts and also something interesting for people to look forward to on this blog!

So! Now onto the main point of the post. Let’s talk about the group!

AOA (Ace of Angels) is FNC Music’s (F.T Island, CN Blue, Juniel) latest group along with being its first girl group. It consists of 8 (7+1) members and has two units: AOA White and AOA Black. AOA White is the dance unit which features 7 of the members (main members if you will). AOA Black is the instrumetal unit has 4 members from the dance unit and an additional member who is not part of the dance partition of the group (hence 7+1). They debuted on the 9th of August on M!Countdown and showcased sections of both versions of their debut single “Elvis”.

—–First Impressions—–

With my motivation to keep up to date with kpop waning, it’s very rare that I follow teaser releases and such for new and old groups alike. But since I happen to like F.T Island and Juniel a fair bit, I decided to keep track of the teasers for this group. Following such, I was highly confused as to what this group was supposed to be. It seemed odd for FNC to debut an entirely dance group (I’m not against companies trying something new but it was something fairly unexpected coming from a company of instrumental artists). I was hoping we’d get a really great instrumental girl group as the “female FTIs/CNBs” that have debuted in the past have fallen very far from expectations.

However, as it came to our knowledge that the group would have two units and one of which would be instrumental, it left me a lot more hopeful for this group.

In comes the “angel” concept. I’m really not a fan of gimmick debuts. Sure, it may gather some interest in the group, but you can only recycle the theme for comebacks a certain amount of times before it becomes extremely dull for both casual and avid listeners and fans. The angel concept however does have the ability to be mixed about a bit, so hopefully they can stick to it without being too same-same with each release. I’ll be impressed if they manage to create a mildly extending story with this concept throughout their career.

AOA White Members: Choa (Main vocalist), Jimin (Leader, rapper), Yuna (Lead vocalist), Hyejung (vocalist, visual), Mina (Main rapper, vocalist), Seolhyun (Lead dancer, vocalist, visual) and Chanmi (Maknae, main dancer, vocalist, rapper). [Yukyung also appears in this MV for the band sections and as part of the “storyline].

Their debut track “Elvis” is a pleseantly addictive, catchy song. Featuring a mix of different guitars being used, a strong, steady drumbeat, funky albeit slightly comical (it’s reminiscent of background music for spoofs of old british shows to me ok) sax lines among others, it sounds like a very busy track in terms of the instrumental, but everything mastered well so that everything isn’t trying for power over the whole song, the right instruments are heard at the right time and everything is layered nicely.

Vocally, not the best group to come out from the industry, yet not the worst. The main vocalist Choa has the most stable voice along with the most pleasing tone compared to the rest of the girls. Doesn’t mean they’re horrifically bad though, some tones just don’t appeal to me. However, I feel when all their voices and tones are together in the one song, they work well so I don’t have too many complaints on this matter. Although her tone of voice isn’t what I would usually like, I really feel like I have a liking for Jimin’s voice, I think it’s partially to do with the way she gives off a lot of confidence during her parts.

AOA Black Members: Choa (Guitarist, vocalist), Jimin (Guitarist, rapper), Yuna (Keyboardist, vocalist), Yukyung (Drummer), Mina (Bassist, vocalist).

Of course, the band version is definitely worth checking out. With a slightly different instrumental to the other version and having only shots of the 5 members that are in the band unit, this is more enjoyable to me as it was what I was expecting from a group coming from FNC. It also seems this grouping in particular has the most talent in general, not only on a basis of instruments.

I try to watch a few performances before I base judgement on how good a group is live and while I have done so, I’m just going to show you their debut performance for just now. The girls seem to be able to carry themselves consistently and confidently on stage. They are decently stable in terms of their vocals in performances though of course, nothing wrong with a little bit of improvement. Both the dance and the band versions of this song are enjoyable live and I think they generally do a good job on stage.

So overall, I have been ¬†impressed with this group. We have attractive girls that can sing well (some better than others, expected), dance and have some that play instruments. Combine this with this incredibly catchy song and you have a really great combination. There’s room for improvement but there’s a lot of potential in this group.

—–Expectations—–

I hope this isn’t going to be a case of all of the songs released being the same. Both in terms of finding the “winning formula” and having the dance and the band units doing the same songs. I would like to see a variation in what they release come out, though I guess that might be a little too much to expect from them but it would be ideal. Since they are mixing pop and rock together I feel there’s a lot of variations of songs that could be released by them. Since some of the girls are skilled at production etc I hope we get a lot of self written material in the future as well. We need a widely appealing female idol rock group doing the rounds and the AOA Black unit has that chance.

I also hope they stick to this slightly cute but subtely sexy feel that they have at the moment as I feel this is a charm that works for them and would be able to easily maintain a nice level of interest in them. There seems to be no need for them to slip into either the scandalous sexy frame or the sickeningly cute one.

I feel this is a group that has the potential to improve with each comeback they make. So I hope that will be the case and this will definitely be a group I will keep my eyes on in the future and will try to follow their promotional cycles a lot closer than I had done with their Elvis one. I also feel this group will have appeal to a wider audience, both those that enjoy dance and rock/instrumental music and of course, those that enjoy both.

As an extra note I would suggest you check out “Temptation” on their single as it is the most enjoyable out of the b-sides in my opinion.

Finally, all that’s left now is to ask you, the readers, what you think of this group? Do you feel the same as I do or do your views contrast mine?

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2 responses to “First Impressions and Expectations #1: AOA

  1. ( I try to express my opinion in english ^^ If I don’t use the good word, don’t hesitate to say to me)
    I didn’t know this group before your article. As you say, there are too many new group this year ! And I think it affects the quality of the music.
    The composition of this group perplexes me. I like FNC because It offers singers, composers with a talent for the instruments. This company is not like others in the Kpop’s world, and it’s this difference I like.
    Lyrics are “cuculapraline” (as frenchs say. I don’t know translate this). The lyrics seems like others groups : superficial, no complicated. They dance like the most of the kpops’ group. On top of that, I don’t like the idea to add a member (Yukyung) to keep image of instrumental’s band. It’s very ungrateful for her… And to justify her presence, FNC creates a cock and bull story !
    It’s just an additionnaly group in the kpop’s world ! I think the instrumental group is enough. The dancers are not useful. I hope they decide to emphase on the instrumental group.
    Irregardless, this song is lively, catchy and I often listen it.

    • Yes! I do agree with you on this, which is why I feel I seem to prefer the instrumental group and it seems at least a number of them are capable of writing their own material so I hope we get to see that sometime.
      But yeah, for the most part it is just another kpop group with basic lyrics but I think that’s part of the charm sometimes but I hope we can see an improvement with their future releases ^^
      I do kind of wish they ditched the dance group idea and just kept with the instrumental group as I feel that Yukyung feels a bit left out of the group just a little because she’s not in the main unit

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