T-ara have been one of the most influential Hallyu girl groups since their debut in 2009. However, the group has also always met a lot of troubles and problems with members leaving due to artistic differences or feeling that their time with T-ara is up. The release of their new EP “What’s My Name?” on 14th June 2017 sees the departure of Boram and Soyeon and a renewal in T-ara’s sound and engagement with the current Hallyu scene. What makes this EP so interesting (especially the digital release) is the inclusion of solo tracks from each of the current four members, giving us something different and showcasing the individual members’ talents and skills.
What’s My Name? (Nae Ireum-eun)
T-ara opens with ‘What’s My Name?’, the EP’s title track. It’s a track that definitely fits with T-ara’s style but modernised to fit with the more synth-dance sounds we’re hearing in modern pop at the moment. It’s a pop track through-and-through: I don’t think anyone says otherwise! It’s catchy and cute, but at points can be a bit too repetitive. Overall, it’s a great opening track and would definitely be a fan favourite.
‘Reload’ has a very different sound: funk, disco, and an 80’s pop feel that surprisingly fits with T-ara’s vocals perfectly. It’s a relatively simple track and one that doesn’t require strenuous vocals, but it definitely captures the mood that they’re trying to create. Definitely a solid track in this EP!
‘20090729’ is most certainly a reference to the two days after T-ara’s debut single, ‘Geojitmal—Lies’, but unlike that track, ‘20090729’ is a slow ballad with a lot of substance. Sound-wise, it’s similar to the ballad version of ‘Geojitmal’ but far slower and emotional. It’s a very typical Hallyu ballad but definitely, showcases T-ara’s wonderful vocals.
Diamond (QRI solo)
‘Diamond’ opens the first of the four solo tracks. ‘Diamond’ is a synth-pop track with a weird and exotic feel, a pseudo-hip-hop and rap feel, and the definite pop feel. If I had to be brutally honest, the track is quite jarring, but this is probably because it doesn’t fit with the other tracks on this EP which makes me then credit QRI for trying something different and unique to her. It’s not my favourite track on the EP but it’s certain a memorable one!
Ooh La La (Hyo Min solo)
Hyo Min brings things back to pop with some fantastic sassy vocals, attitude, and a rock feel—the underlying guitar, synths, and drum beat give us something T-ara-esque but something just outside their style. Hyo Min’s vocals are definitely a winner in this track and it’s certainly a track that really shines in this EP.
Real Love (Eun Jung solo)
Eun Jung slows things down with ‘Real Love’, a more typical Hallyu slow pop track: a steady drum beat, an interesting piano accompaniment, and some wonderful vocals. Despite its typical sound, ‘Real Love’ definitely fits the bill and gives us something heartwarming to start concluding this EP.
Lullaby (Ji Yeon solo)
Ji Yeon closes this EP with a sweet mid-tempo ballad, not unlike ‘Real Love’ previously. It’s hearty and full of some beautiful moments: the guitar is a wonderful addition and with light drums and lack of synths, we get a softer track that really showcases Ji Yeon’s vocals. ‘Lullaby’ is a definitely a great track to end with and one that we’ll definitely remember.
The digital release of the EP concludes with a Chinese version and the instrumental version of ‘What’s My Name?’ which I won’t review here. Excluding these tracks, T-ara have released a very interesting and engaging EP. It’s one that has stayed true to their original sound but adding newer elements that will keep T-ara relevant and with the times. It’s also great to see the solo tracks that help us get to know the four remaining members of T-ara better. Overall, it’s a great EP and one that will leave you surprised. Well done, T-ara!
Release date: June 2017