Updated: Jul 21
Welcome back, Coziers! It is once again time for my weekly girl group challenge. It's that special time of week that I set aside to check out and learn about a new (to-me) girl group. This week, we are checking out WJSN aka Cosmic Girls.
For you, coziers, this is week two of joining me in this challenge - but for me this actually week twenty-six. Part of the fun of this weekly challenge is truly appreciating differen concepts and seeing beyond a cute music video. Where better to start than a group, like WSJN, known for softer, bubblegum-y, synthpop sound?
I will admit to having done a bit of a deeper dive on this group in advance, because their subunits were a point of confusion. But it's okay friends, I have done the research, so you don't have to! Grab a unicorn frappe and a macaroon and let's get started.
Learning about the group - just the basics
WJSN aka Cosmic Girls is a 13-member girl group under Starship Entertainment and Yuehua Entertainment. They debuted on February 25, 2016. Similarly to some other larger kpop groups, they have a number of subunits.
Much like Loona, a many of their subunits have more relevance pre-debut. So when you see, subunits listed with Grecian alphabet titles, those were part of an earlier concept, involving astrology, that is not so relevant to where they are as a group now.
A friend, (that I consider an expert on girl groups), explained that as many members are currently pursuing acting careers or potentially unable to participate as much due to Chinese promotions, or membership in temporary girl group, Rocket Girls; the current subunits allow for comebacks with the members that are available at the time. Or similarily to the rotating subunit of NCT, NCTU, it allows for concepts that fit some, but not all of the members.
So to sum up, here are some existing subunits that are not relevant now: αγυρτης (The Imposter), ενύπνιον (The Dreamer) and φορευς (Dream Carrier). Further divisions are: Wonder, Joy, Sweet and Natural or WJSN.
Subunits that are used more currently are: WJSN THE BLACK (which skews more towards harder, "girl crush concepts"), and WJSN CHOCOME (which focuses more on sweeter, cuter concepts).
However, for each member I will be listing all units, current and former. Let's learn each member's name, subunits, position and age. Please note, that a few members are on hiatus and that will also be noted.
-subunits: Sweet, αγυρτης (The Imposter) and WJSN THE BLACK
-position: Leader of Sweet subunit, Main Rapper, Vocalist
-subunits: Sweet, ενύπνιον (The Dreamer), WJSN THE BLACK
-position: Lead Vocalist
Xuan Yi: on hiatus
-subunits: Joy, αγυρτης (The Imposter)
-position: Leader of Joy, Lead Dancer, Vocalist
-subunits: Wonder, ενύπνιον (The Dreamer), WJSN THE BLACK
-position: Leader of Wonder, Lead Dancer, Vocalist, Rapper, Visual
-subunits: Sweet, αγυρτης (The Imposter), WJSN CHOCOME
-position: Main Vocalist
-subunits: Natural, ενύπνιον (The Dreamer), WJSN CHOCOME
-position: Vocalist, Rapper
-subunits: Natural, ενύπνιον (The Dreamer)
-position: Main Vocalist
Eunseo Sub Unit: Joy, αγυρτης (The Imposter), φορευς (Dream Carrier), WJSN THE BLACK
-position: Vocalist, Rapper
Cheng Xiao: on hiatus
-subunits: Wonder, αγυρτης (The Imposter)
-position: Main Dancer, Vocalist, Visual, Face Of the Group
Mei Qi: on hiatus
-subunits: Natural, ενύπνιον (The Dreamer)
-position: Main Dancer, Vocalist
-subunits: Joy, φορευς (Dream Carrier), WJSN CHOCOME
-position: Main Dancer, Vocalist, Rapper
-subunits: Wonder, φορευς (Dream Carrier), WJSN CHOCOME
-position: Lead Vocalist
-subunits: φορευς (Dream Carrier)
-position: Main Vocalist, Maknae
This is just scratching the surface of WJSN, please check out their Kpop Profile for additional trivia and fun facts.
Music to check out and live stage
Okay, now that we know about the twisted web that is WJSN and their subunits, we are going to check out a few songs and stages. To get the full picture, we're going to try, WJSN - THE BLACK'S - Easy, WJSN - Unatural, WSJN - Happy and WJSN Chocome - Super Yuppers!
Expectations - before watching
Before watching WJSN THE BLACK's Easy, I expect it to be a more hard-hitting sort of banger. From what I can see in the YouTube thumbnail, we have one of my favorite girl group concepts, ladies in suits! I am sucker for executive realness!
Prior to viewing WJSN's Happy, I am expecting a brighter, bouncy sound. Everyone appears to be dressed as cheerleaders, so I am thinking lyrically, it will be about overcoming personal obstacles.
WJSN's Unnatural looks to be more intense. Black and red outfits are showcased in the thumbnail leading me to expect a hard dance-type track.
Finally, WJSN's Super Yuppers! is giving me sweet and girl-y. Even the title of the song suggests a carefree agreement to some wholesome fun. I am expecting soaring vocals and a bouncy beat, little or no rapping.
Thoughts - after watching
Before we get down to my thoughts on these tracks and performances, I would like to emphasize that I will be approaching each one with an open mind and will be taking care to bring up positive aspects of any track that is not entirely to my liking. If I don't love something, it may just mean that I need to check out different songs that will better suit my sensibilities.
Let us all take a minute to hum the MST3K theme song and pretend it is about music and not shlock films. "I should really just relax!"
WJSN THE BLACK - EASY
The mv and lyrics
WJSN's Easy has a wandering bass line with a bit of funk to it. Honestly, that bassline is easily my favourite part of the track. I am a sucker for great bass. (I did used to play bass guitar in high school band, so it is especially close to my heart). Is the song a certified banger? Yes! The vocals are a good deal airier and breathy-er than I expected. The tone of the song is very flirtatious. EXY and Bona's rap sections are a standout. Lyrically, it is a simple song about being confident in approaching the object of your affections, possibly for some adult fun times.
Ladies! In! Suits!
Choreography shown in the mv is very reflective of the lyrics. There is a good deal of satisfying hair-ography. They are sharp in their movements, flipping it every which way to channel the confidence in the lyrics. The floor work is on the sensual side, with a particular emphasis on and highlighting of their legs. Again, this is dovetailing perfectly with the song's overall message.
The actual concept of the mv scenes, is a bit hard to follow. Are we rich office ladies planning crime?
Is Seola interrogating Bona?
Or are we spies?
Just Seola doing heist things.
Heist plan or crime solving board? (Eunseo with gray hair is killing me, truly!)
Or are we cowgirls with a side hustle in office work and a secret side-side hustle in bank robbery? (The most amazing head canon possibility for the mv.)
They said, "señorita bandidos."
Either way, it is engaging to watch, so it doesn't really matter. They will take your valuables and look good doing it. It will be "easy" to give them your wallet. Insert high hat cymbal smash here.
The performance and choreo
All four members and their back up dancers are looking great in white suits. The intro involves some sexy chair work. The choreography uses a fair amount of jacket flipping and adjusting, or letting it slide off the shoulder for emphasis.
Seriously, Eunseo, you are doing too much!
The most common movements are about long arms and swift hip motions. The chorus begins with some rear-stage facing moments to enhance, a come hither effect. It also suitable heavy on body rolls, often starting from a hand behind the head and the arms following the roll down the body. The chest pops are very eye-catching.
I was looking for some gifs from this stage that had more than just Eunseo doing the dance moves, I mentioned, but here we are. Thank you for your hard work, bravegirlss tumblr.
The bridge is where the floor work, I mentioned in the mv comes into play. There is also a tightening of the jacket cuffs move that stands out as it, shows that these women mean business.
Legs for days!
WJSN - Happy
The mv and lyrics
Happy is giving you exactly what you would expect from that title. It has all the colours! It is on beyond bouncy! Conceptually simple, with so much sunshine yellow, that you are choking on it, but in a good way. To me it looks like were are in a doll house, that is also a boarding school with an important volleyball match. The members are both cheerleaders and volleyball participants. The animated effects are super cute.
Welcome to the WJSN dollhouse!
Sound-wise the upbeat bubblegum is strong with this song. EXY's rap is fast and amazing! It is the kind of song that is stuck in your head for the rest of the day, after you hear it. This bright sound with synth tickles the other 80s music part of my brain (not the parts obsessed with new wave and dumb hair metal), the part that loves Cyndi Lauper.
Choose your player!
Lyrically, I am less enthused. Please I am looking at translations of lyrucs that may not be as nuanced as the original. I am also not blaming my problems with these lyrics on WJSN as a group, but rather on the sings lyrists.
To pharaphrase the song according to the translation I saw, it tells the story of a girl that was too difficult, to date. So she was dumped. Now you can stare at her as much as you want, just smile and stroke her hair. She was not confident with thick thighs, she just needed to be told she was cute. She is cute like a puppy (there's not a direct comparison there, but the juxtaposition of a dog named Happy and her feeling happy is taking us there anyway). She's not a person, she's just a girl to be dated is the subtext of that to me. Honestly, the sum of the lyrics is an old man telling a female cashier to smile, in my opinion. Again it is possible that some details were lost in translation.
Am I against girls feeling cute and pretty and having crushes? No. But lines like "Watch all you want." And the entire three-verse section screenshoted below about thicker thighs, how they make you feel and just shop and call us cute, we work hard is problematic as I understand these lyrics. It comes across to me as men looking at a girl and seeing Barbie. She's shallow and sweet, she shops, she is cute and likes cute things. She was sad, but a man called her cute, now everything is magically better.
This is the three-verse section that annoys me.
Responsible for these lyrics are: Black Eyed Pilseung, Jeong Goon and Kim Tae Joo, all men. Black Eyed Pilseung is a production duo of two men, Rado and Choi Kyu-Sung, of the two Rado has said some questionable things publicly about Twice. Jeong Goon tends to work closely with Black Eyed Pilseung as a production team. Kim Tae Joo is actually a producer that I have enjoyed in the past, as he is one of the people responsible for KNK's signature sound.
If you're wondering why I am doing a deeper dive on the lyrics, if I know that translation may be flawed? It is because understanding the song's message helps me to interpret the choreography in more detail in the next section.
I really like the half-hip ribbons on these uniforms.
I don't want to end this part so negatively, captions off, I can enjoy the song and the mv. Captions on and I am doing the Captain Pickard face palm. So room for improvement here. If you are really into this song, don't let me dissuade you.
The performance and choreo
Looking at this closer, I am not sure if these are cheer or volleyball outfits. Maybe volleyball?
As evidenced by two piece white and green cheer costumes, there is a clear cheerleading influence choreography-wise. The name of the game here is adorable hand gestures accompanied by hips.
There are lots of "yay" hand gestures as well as a few aegyo seeming moves such as cute cat ears hands, fake crying, finger hearts, and applying makeup to cheeks.
Soobin really excels in these moments.
There are the standard face framing gestures to hip shake motions that are very common in kpop choreography for female groups. The chorus uses a simple "v" formation to show everyone clearly.
The mv showing the "soultrain moment," which may also signify lining up along a volleyball net to shake hands after the game.
Throughout the song we occassionally form a two line "soultrain" so one or two members can dance down the centre, supported by the others posing on the side. After watching all of these lives, their dance style does err a bit on a point and pose style.
WJSN - Unnatural
Of all the tracks examined here, Unnatural is definitely my favourite. The talk-singing portion before the first chorus, EXY again, leading into the second chorus is phenomenal. Luda and Bona are also killing it. The vocalists are going off as well. It is the fast switch offs between vocalists and rappers that are really capturing the essence of the song, which is a re-enactment of stuttering anxiety in front of your crush. There are sharp pauses between words and syllables to further emulate this scenario. Truly, the vocal rhythm of the song is the standout feature of the track. EXY has a producer credit on this track for lyrics, which I am assuming is her rap section. Good for her!
These gold and white boots outfits are giving such opulence.
Visually the mv, though stunning, is on the simpler side. The focus is on the choreography and the elegant, expensive vibes of the styling. The colour pallet is firmly anchored in the red, white, black and gold end of the spectrum and I am not mad about it.
Black and red outfits are definitely my fav.
Once again, the choreography is taking it to the floor in the best of ways. It is flawless and focused on giving leg, leg and more leg. I am having trouble finding their choreographer, so if you know, please let me know in the comments, but it may be 406K or it may be member, Bona. Are there some portions that are members standing to the side waiting to re-enter the dance? Yeah, a bit, but overall I am still having a great time and they all look and sound amazing!
The performance and choreography
Unnatural's beginning formation, is on the floor. As the members rise, only the centre is facing forward. Everyone is looking great in black, red and gold outfits. The arm movements here have sharper punctuation to them and there are several sections such as in body rolls towards the end of the song where dance moves stutter to the beat. There is a fair amount of drawing lines down the body.
The best gifs of the stuttering body rolls are from the mv.
There are also body shapes where arms and legs are bent akimbo which to me, fits with uncertainty brought up in the lyrics. It kind of resembles a doll fallen to the ground legs askew.
Forgive me for screenshot-ing this unflatteringly, Yeonjun.
There are hand gestures that hide and reveal face to emphasize shyness. If you look closely there is a hand gesture that is either signifying craziness (index finger to temple, thumb out) or a gunshot ( to emphasize embarrassment).
There are also a few interesting member interaction moments during the bridge that start off signifying closeness, but then turn away from each other as if conflicted or nervous.
This stage mix gif, featuring Yeoreum standing, best captures the faces that could be close, but turn away out of shyness.
WJSN - Super Yuppers!
Mv and lyrics
Okay, lastly Super Yuppers, please brace yourself for an another unpopular opinion. Are there aspects of this that I like sonic-ally and in the videos? Absolutely! Is there one aspect that does put me off in a major kind of way? Absolutely! Let's get into it.
These Wonder Woman in 40s outfits are so perfect!
First off the mv, visually, is bright and a bit space-y. Concept wise, it is super fun. The ladies are superheros out to solve minor crimes such as bad table manners, not putting trash in the bin and equally silly infractions. There are vibrant colours everywhere! Everything feels cartoon-ish and fun like a live action adaptation of a light, fluffy anime.
Be nice and polite to your mother or wife, bad table manners guy! Or else!
I genuinely don't know what kind of infraction this gentleman has committed, he looks so confused.
The sound of the song itself is great, the production is on point. It sounds a bit retro synthpop with just a soupçon of trot. The comment section is full of comparisons to 3rd gen girl group trio, Orange Caramel. The focus is more on the vocal side, even though WJSN Chocome does include Yeoreum and Luda, who are capable rappers, as well as vocalists. There are a few sort of spoken word sections near the start that have good flow.
This is really taking me back to the 90s vinyl à la Clueless fashion and I love it!
Now we are on to the part of the track that I dislike, the lyrics. Does every song need super, deep and meaningful lyrics for me to be able to enjoy it? Heck no! Am I opposed to songs with more simple romantic lyrics? Not even slightly! Again, I am aware that the translation may not be accurate. But I do feel like Lee Changmin of 2AM, did them a disservice here. I would go so far as to say that there are only, a few things that I would change, that would make this more palatable to me.
The lyrics are focused on the members being ready to come as soon as you call and never say no. It is so close to being a message tgat I could get behind. The first part of the lyrics about being there for someone seems great. However the second part about not a girl not saying no, is jarring because that phrase has certain conotations in English that may not exist in the original Korean. Culturally, the expectation of women to be sweet and submissive, as much as possible, is a bit off-putting to me as an outsider from a place that holds a more relaxed standard of feminity.
Now there is nothing wrong with supporting your partner, in fact, you should support your partner. But ideally you should also be your own person and be able to have healthy disagreements with them. Lyrics like this and those of Happy are a small example of why I would like more girl group members to be allowed to be involved in song production, if they are so inclined.
This superimposed shot of everyone is my favourite. I can see why it is the video thumbnail.
For instance, EXY's involvement in Unnatural's production, helped to make it great. A quick search reveals that (G)I-DLE is the one of the few girl groups known to do so on the regular in 4th gen. So many male group members are permitted and encouraged to pursue an interest in song production. I would like to see more women involved in future in Kpop music production and the production of other music genres.
Again, if you love this song, please don't let me rain on your parade. I only wish for lyelrical improvement, selfishly so that I can better enjoy this song because aside from the lyrics it is so great already. I can see many aspects here that would make it easy to like.
Performance and choreography