Mid-tier girl groups carve their niche as rebels, contrarians

H1-KEY performs 'Get Hot' at the showcase for its third mini-album 'Love or Die,' at the Blue Square Mastercard Hall in Yongsan, Seoul, Wednesday. Yonhap

Rookie mid-tier girl groups are carving their niche as rebels and trendsetters, emerging with unique talent despite the dominance of major entertainment companies like HYBE, SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment.

H1-KEY, which recently resumed its activities with the release of its third EP, “LOVE or HATE,” on Wednesday, is carving out a unique path by challenging the norms for K-pop girl groups.

Known for creating the “miracle of mid-tier idols” with its delayed-hit debut EP “Rose Blossom” last year, the group blends the less mainstream pop-punk genre with hip-hop and dance to produce unique music.

In the music video for the title track “Get Hot” from its new album, H1-KEY showcases its members playing instruments in a rock band style.

The members’ outfits and accessories accentuate a rebellious punk band concept. Despite the rough image, the lyrics, described by the agency as “realistic,” resonate deeply with their generation.

Unlike the K-pop trend of patching together melodies from various composers, H1-KEY’s title track is crafted by a single lyricist-composer (Hong Ji-sang), adding a distinctive flavor.

An official from the group’s agency, GLG, said, “We believed that band-oriented music suited the members well and aimed to 안전 specialize in this concept. While working with various overseas composers might be advantageous for trendy music, collaborating closely with a specific composer seems more effective in highlighting the team’s unique personality.”

This approach allows H1-KEY to carve out its own niche in a market dominated by larger agencies, proving that originality and talent can still create waves in the competitive K-pop industry.

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