Battle of the Comeback Queens: Son Dambi vs. Narsha

So I decided to scrap a lot of projects I wanted to do to write this. I’m at the height of the most excitement I’ve felt about Kpop this year for a few months.

This year for me was just dull as summer rolled around–notice how the majority of the Mubank, Melon, and Cyworld top songs were from very early on during the year. f(x), 4minute, 2pm, BEAST, Suju etc. failed to impress me, MBLAQ’s Y slightly piqued my interest, new groups aside from miss A have not really fascinated me, and even Hyori and Rain and Taeyang didn’t make me get excited to the point where I’ll think about how awesome their songs were when I’m going to sleep. I kept on thinking, where’s the “Gee” of 2010?

Turns out, we needed some new divas aside from Hyori to spice up the summer. Pledis queen Son Dambi and BEG’s resident diva Narsha both released mini-albums and mvs within the same week, titled Queen and NARSHA respectively. Dambi’s never really caught my attention despite being touted as the next Hyori (what happened to BoA as the standard), and her biggest hit, Saturday Night, was forgettable. I liked her in Amoled, but 1.) it was a CF and 2.) she was propped by After School.

Her title song, ‘Queen,’ attempts to depart from her previous label of sexy (or shekshi as I should say) into more classy albeit still autotuned tunes. To me it was ok, fun to listen to but entirely forgettable. There was no annoying/good hook to make me remember the song. Now her mv is under fire for plagiarism (what else is new) for copying a Syfy show, of all things.

Narsha’s done good self-promoting, now that I look at it. She really showed her personality through variety shows like SGB and Invincible Youth, and I have to say she’s hilarious. NegaNetwork really pushed promoting first Gain and then Narsha, and I personally was obsessed with Gain for a while because she looked to freakin’ hot in Abracadabra. Now I realize that Narsha is the real jewel of the group. Gain is actually kind of dry and nervous on variety, while Narsha just seems like an endless cornucopia of fun. She’s confident borderline cocky, but gives obvious targets for others to attack and generate additional hilarity (read: her age XD). She’s variety TV gold. The TV appearances are super critical, I think, is what will save her new song Bbi-Ri-Bop-A from making her seem unacceptably eccentric. This is extremely important actually. BRBA is going to come under a lot of crap especially if it blows up to be a hit (which I predict it will), and Narsha will need to separate herself from her music to show that her song doesn’t represent her as a person. Lee Jonghyun, labeled Korea’s Lady Gaga, suffered this problem.

BRBA to me was a good listen, but also not standout. Then the MV was released. This also didn’t make me fall in love with it, but I really did appreciate the excellent quality of the MV. I think it’s the best MV of summer 2010, edging out even Hyori’s CCBB. As I rewatched the MV for the third time, I really appreciated the artistic details of the scenes–the contrast of color with black and white filming, the tasteful use of CGI effects, etc. It really blows recent MVs away. However, To balance Dambi’s plagiarism issue, Narsha is now under fire for religious controversy for sacrilegious images/satanic worship/all that jazz in the MV.

Let’s get to the dirty. Gaga. Bad Romance. The resemblances are so apparent I won’t even bother defending anyone here. The catchy nonsensical chant, the melodically contrasting chorus, the whole prayer robes stained red thing, whatever. I don’t think Narsha deliberately copied Gaga. But I’m not going to say it’s unique either. I just want to judge it as itself as a piece of music.

I was undecided on whose comeback was better–until I saw Mubank recaps.

Narsha blew me, Dambi, and whoever else performed, far, far away. It was good. It was so good. I got excited. Narsha’s never been a strong dancer, and didn’t do anything fancy, but her stage presence was AMAZING. Every second captivated me. I remembered being semi-dismissive after her first track, I’m in Love, was released, but boy, have I changed my mind. Dambi was just no match. The Can’t U See intro was the only good part of her comeback. Queen was so…Dambi sounding…that it was just plain and ok (definitely not bad, that’d be Girl’s Day, but just no match for Narsha). Plus, I realized the importance of Narsha being more talented vocally. Two mostly autotuned songs, but when performed live and the chorus needs to be belted, Narsha delivers and Dambi doesn’t. Dambi’s performance wants you to find her vocals acceptable (and they’ve been improving) and instead really focus on her dancing. Narsha’s performance wants you to be captivated, and her vocals, though nowhere as fantastic as Jea’s, are strong and has flair.

Narsha’s not performing on Mucore, which may either be NegaNetwork artists never do or, as I believe, is due to Gain and Kwon’s WGM’s situation with MBC. Gain showed up on SBS Family Outing and majorly POed MBC WGM executives. Gain and Kwon are too popular to be dropped, but rumors were that MBC was giving BEG a hard time performing on their network. I’m POed, but won’t rant about the stupid media system now. I’ll wait to see if she performs at Inkigayo, and will have to settle with Dambi tonight.

I think BRBA could be the next big thing in Kpop. It’s my tentative prediction entirely off gut feeling. I haven’t felt this excited, as I said, since, oh, maybe Lupin. On charts Dambi is selling slightly better than Narsha, and though both songs are climbing, Queen is higher up. But both songs are less than a week old, and the live performances which I think are hugely influential in people’s perception of these two songs have yet to register.

As album sales figure majorly in Mubank, I don’t think either can win K-Chart anytime soon as Taeyang will dominate (Solar normal edition is now beating Repackaged Bonamona). However, M!Countdown and Inkigayo are real possibilities, though I predict miss A will sneak in a win in between. They are running strong on Dosirak, Soribada, and Melon now at number 1.

I’ll most likely post reviews on Narsha’s mini-album, Taeyang’s Solar, a Suju review, something about SHINee, and exciting random fun. Dambi I’m going to pass on for now, because I don’t predict it to explode (maybe a M!Countdown win, but that’s it). Narsha I wasn’t planning on reviewing either, but hey, circumstances change.

Here’s both’s Music Bank comeback/debuts and their respective MVs.
Son Dambi



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