Not contempt with snatching our wigs mere months ago in March, the slippery K-pop queens GFriend have returned for the second time this year with “Love Whisper”. Sadly, that’s exactly the impression this comeback has made on me – it’s a bit of a lifeless whisper.
“Fingertip” was GFriend’s first comeback of 2017, marking a wild and radical difference in both sound and style for the famous six-piece. GLegends traded in their characteristically chirpy and beaming looks for moody glares; “Bang bang bang FINGERTIP / I’ll aim for your heart / Bang bang bang FINGERTIP / So your heart stops,” GFriend aggressively directed over a buzzing and snappy 80s dance beat, violently miming to load a shotgun as they said so. It was an embraced transition for GFriend, who were usually prancing about in school girl outfits as if they were the human form of virginal purity itself. “Fingertip” proved that the virgin queens had versatility – GFriend could also be dangerously fierce, and embody that remarkably well.
Frustratingly, GFriend’s “Love Whisper” is leaps backwards from the edgy steps they embarked on with “Fingertip” – “Love Whisper” is the run of the mill, sickly sweet schoolgirl-pop GFriend have always done, except not executed as well (it sounds like a watered down rehash of their name-making hit “Me Gustas Tu”). The dark skies and sexy Eurobeat sounds of “Fingertip” have evaporated, making way for yet more prancing in sunflower fields under blue skies.
Although I am not a fan of this overly honeyed image, I can understand why GFriend had to revert right back to what made them overnight stars. At 576k copies sold, “Fingertip,” in all of its innovative glory, is their lowest selling title track to date and their only title track to sell under one million downloads. A risk was taken with “Fingertip” and, as the numbers demonstrate, it didn’t really pay off. It’s no surprise, then, that GFriend almost immediately followed up “Fingertip” with “Love Whisper” to make us forget about it, and remind K-pop audiences about what they thought was so magical about GFriend in the first place.
Interestingly, the mini album “Fingertip” is lifted from (accurately titled THE AWAKENING TO GFRIEND’S SLAYAGE) is GFriend’s bestselling mini album to date, proving that K-pop fans are here for a new and improved version of GQueens. But by returning to the copiously cute sound that made them a household name, GFriend have effectively gotten it so wrong yet so right on their newest comeback – instead of continuing to grow sonically and visually like they tried to with “Fingertip,” GFriend have immediately retreated to something that they know will work well for them (“Love Whisper” has already racked up over four million views in less than twenty-four hours on YouTube) just because something a little more experimental didn’t exceed previous sales figures.
Hopefully, GFriend will go back to taking more risks with their sound and image on later comebacks!