GFriend’s triumphant return to the Music Bank stage with another full two-song set comprised of LOL’s melancholy dance number “Gone With the Wind” (the song you figured would be a ballad but totally isn’t, yet somehow weirdly almost is) and the pulse-pounding “Navillera”.
Some idiot hustler on the internet is trying right now to accuse Oh My Girl of “racism” for the sitars on “Windy Day”, so I guess the multi-armed choreo opener may well fuel further complaints. Needless to say, to heck with such losers.
I love the push-pull of “Navillera”s lyrics. In real life this sort of ambiguity might be a bit disconcerting, but watching Eunha wink as she warns she won’t wait around forever makes for delightful viewing. And then there is the godlike certitude of “I will make this come true, like I always did.” Watching this performance again, for the first time it occurred to me how GFriend may also be heirs to T-ara as well as rival/succesors to A Pink. They can do things with full-throttle energy we haven’t quite heard since the 2009-12 phase of the Hallyu Wave’s girl groups.
As a Main Vocal, Yuju’s delicious pyrotechnics have a different emotional color than the honey-rich outpourings of Eunji or the Soyeons. Perhaps it’s not Yuju’s destiny to provide something like the silken quiver of T-ara Soyeon’s voice at the opening of “Gwaenchanayo” or the seductive lull of Eunji’s opening lines in “Deja Vu”. But in terms of pure drama, Yuju’s piercing outpours are like GFriend choreo transmuted into pure sound– the sonic miracles of “Me Gustas Tu”, “Rough”, and “Navillera” which, I have come to think, hearken a sea change perhaps in the entire current of popular music in the 21st Century, are unthinkable without her. Engimatic and almost urchin-like as she sometimes appears, Yuju should already be considered a legend.
Perhaps this J-popization is also a sort of throwback to the moody emotional template of K-pop’s electro phase. Lovelyz and Oh My Girl have great “beagle energy” too, but GFriend exert an uncanny blend of “innocent concept” approachability with a kind of girl-gang toughness. Umji perhaps is the visual mascot of this enigmatic charm, and Sowon has something of it too (she reminds me at times of 4Minute’s Jihyun, but with a more extroverted manner and a slight air of defiance)– though at the moment lustrous SinB has finally joined her “World’s Greatest” teammates Eunha and Yerin in truly smiting my heart!