Khia Damaged Lady
KARA is probably the most consistent idol group in K-pop. Since hooking up with the infallible Sweetune on 2008’s joyous “Rock U,” they haven’t released a bad single or bothered to overhaul their sound. That doesn’t mean that they haven’t evolved, though: They’ve tackled the sugary sweet (“Rock U,” “Honey”), upbeat party-starters (“Jumping,” “Step”), bouncy bops (“Mister”), the edgy (“Lupin,” “Wanna”) and most recently, sexy and sassy (“Pandora”). But despite the natural growth, their music is just fizzy ’80s synth-pop at its core that’s as instantly identifiable as their own signature sound as Yasutaka Nakata’s Perfume productions or Timbaland’s work with Justin Timberlake.

The group’s latest single, “Damaged Lady,” follows the same aformentioned formula of their past hits, and also shares some similarities with Sweetune’s more aggressive work with boy bands like INFINITE and Boyfriend. Although Sweetune’s obligatory grinding electric guitars appear, the production isn’t quite as straightforward as usual: A few small tempo changes are thrown in to gingerly get in on the K-pop trend of skitzo musical arrangements, but without actually going all “I Got a Boy” bonkers or anything like that.

Like “Pandora,” “Damaged Lady” leans more towards the mature side. The lyrics tell the tale of a young woman who was just unexpectedly dumped on a deceptively beautiful day, while the aggression of the music mirrors the anger and emotional chaos that comes directly after a sudden breakup. While most KARA songs get by solely on their airtight hooks and melodies, “Damaged Lady” benefits from an understanding of the words and concept. You can credit that to the growth of KARA, who are now digging a little deeper and getting a bit more serious after more than five years at the top of the K-pop game. It’s no wonder that their latest album is titled Full Bloom since it feels like the first time that the group has truly embraced a more grown up sound and image.

“Damaged Lady” isn’t doing that well on the charts right now and will probably continue the trend of KARA’s declining sales, but that’s hardly a surprise. KARA’s ancient in K-pop years, and at this point the only way they’d possibly be able to turn things around is with a complete reinvention — something that many pop acts, from Madonna to Miley Cyrus, have all done to extend their careers. The pre-release of the gorgeous “Runaway” was a noble effort, but not enough to permanently put KARA back on the upswing. But even if the general public are no longer down for the girls that gave us the butt dance, as a fan they’ve given me everything I wanted and will likely continue to do so up until the day they disband.

  • lildarien

    I want to see this on a live stage, I feel like the dance needs uninterrupted time to really sink in. The ring off the finger move is lovely though.

  • Nicole Naeun

    Seriously this is flopping? Like, seriously? The song, concept, everything is iconic! Nicole’s sexiness and Hara’s beauty is still there. How is this flopping?

    It must be that ugly duckling Seungyeon’s bad luck rubbing on this iconic song. Ever since she started doing acting, netizens have been hating on her. So there must be some kind of conspiracy against Seungyeon to boycott her from the industry or something. Poor KARA…

    • Bluebeat

      Digitally yes. But not physically. People are buying their albums in stores.

    • OfficialKARALover

      가온차트 9월 2주차 앨범 판매 순위는 카라의 4집 ‘Full Bloom’이 4만 1311장을 판매해 1위에 올랐다.It said
      GAON Album Chart – Week September 2nd, KARA’s 4th album “Full bloom” is No.1 with 41,331 copies sold

  • Kris

    One of the best K-Pop songs of 2013. Sweetune sure knows how to produce em. That chorus is everything>>>

  • James Smith III

    full bloom, i believe this is the sequel to their first album “the first blooming”

  • Mai Hoang

    Aren’t they doing well in Japan? I really can see sort of J-pop influence in this song along with Pandora.

    I think Japan’s their bread ticket, but they need to release singles in Korea because that’s their home market…

    • Fawoo

      I feel like if DSP had their ways, Kara would be in Japan 24/7.

      Oh well still a really good song, I’m sure it’ll end up on Kara’s next Japanese album as a filler.

    • James Smith III

      they are still doing well in Japan but right now all kpop groups, girl groups in patricular, are not selling as well as they did back in 2011

    • Bluebeat

      Yeah, their singles are doing very well. They got like #1 and #2 on a few charts there. By declining sales, I think Jac was referring to their latest full-albums which isn’t selling that many copies.

  • SerferTJ

    KARA steady killin it! I don’t know how they do it (maybe it’s to Sweet Tune’s credit), but I they always like have the best hooks in K-Pop!

    “NaVa tu meeetoooomeeee tu yaaadddy yaaadddy yaaaaaaa!!!!”

  • ICONI3

    I really love the song.

    I must say I’m somewhat a little shocked to see the song doing poorly I would have thought that at least they would have secured the #2 spot…but even with Runaway they barely scratched the top 10.

    • Bluebeat

      I wasn’t actually surprised to hear that. When I heard news that GD was gonna release his new song+half of his full album digitally on the same day, it was expected. Its ok though, KARA seems to more focused on physical sales. DSP’s really promoting them well since Pandora. Album showcases, advertisements and tv appearances are all set for them.

  • Quang Phạm

    The song is sure match the consistent sound Kara always have but it’s not catchy enough to do well on the chart and keep them relevant in the K-Pop scene. And they don’t seem to really enjoy what they are doing in the video. Those awkward faces…

    I have a feeling that DSP just want Kara to occasionally put out some random songs to make sure fans in Korea don’t feel neglected.

  • a_chan

    Flawless as always. But it’s true that KARA need a reinvention to pick themselves back up. Their contract negotiations are reportedly going very well so KARA will likely become the longest running k-pop girl group after Jewelry.

    It seems DSP is already starting KARA’s reinvention with Runaway and by working almost exclusively with new producers on Full Bloom, bar Damaged Lady. But whether or not they can follow through with this remains to be seen.

    • Tony T

      Brown Eyed Girls have been around longer than KARA (for like 1 year) and they are showing no sign of slowing down yet, just saying ;) I personally like this song and concept but do agree that they need to pull off something total different and fresh in order to be on top again.
      Jewelry should not be counted anymore since they have become a totally different group now.

    • Bluebeat

      I really do wish that they’d work with someone else instead of Sweetune. I don’t think that the duo composers can carry them to their next level of maturity. Lupin was great, but Pandora and Damaged Lady seems like a repeat of the same thing. These two ‘mature’ title tracks are just not as good as Mister & Step. Let’s face it, Sweetune are only good at sweet stuff. I don’t think they’re capable of giving KARA mature tracks that are strong enough to compete with many top-tiers.

  • it does seem like the end of some era for them: kara’s first album is “the first bloom” and now they’re fully grown and bloomed. very cute! and i hope they have a deserved pop reinvention while maintaining their goddess like femininity.

    • Bluebeat

      Agreed. Their youngest member is turning 20 on January so they’re all going to be officially ladies by next year. I’m interested to see what they’d do now. I reckon they should stick with their bright, colorful and cheery image. Just add some spunk like on Step & Mr.

      • mergong

        You’re all over this post, and I’m loving it

  • Bluebeat

    KARA’s Full Bloom is actually doing well on physical sales. I think it came down to both bad-timing and the fact that their title track is not strong enough. Let’s be honest, it lacked that cheerfulness that most Koreans loved about KARA. I think its time KARA parted ways with Sweetune. They are only good at giving them cutesy and happy songs. For mature songs, they’re not that great. I hope that DSP really learns from their lesson by now about working with the same composers. What KARA needs is a ‘new sound’. Their full album is pretty solid though, much more substance than their Pandora EP.

    • 364Leinad

      Sweettune is actually great at making mature songs. It’s just that they give their most powerful stuff to INFINITE and Nine Muses and KARA get left with the scraps.

  • Suzy Sooyoung

    OK these princesses slayed it <3 This song is more and more perfection with each listen. I can only feel sorry for everyone who is buying "Crap D'Etat" instead of this gorgeous song!

  • Marhaebwa

    Regardless of chart positions, this songs gives me life so…

  • KingBeaArthur

    The lyrics <3 Knowing the meaning helps really appreciate the song more! I'm not bowled over by "Full Bloom" overall just yet but I like "Runaway" and "1+1", so I'm willing to keep listening.

    They look absolutely AMAZING in the mv! Gyuri is slaying me.

  • OfficialKARALover

    Mods don’t delete gonna report it here also

    KARA #1 GAON weekly chart..

    I think before you TALK you should make some RESEARCH
    i know its easy to talk than to research but RESEARCH is a MUST

    가온차트 9월 2주차 앨범 판매 순위는 카라의 4집 ‘Full Bloom’이 4만 1311장을 판매해 1위에 올랐다.
    It said
    GAON Album Chart – Week September 2nd, KARA’s 4th album “Full bloom” is No.1 with 41,331 copies sold

    The Gaon Chart is the national chart of South Korea and is intended to be the equivalent of Oricon in Japan and Billboard in the United States.

    Check out the chart rankings for the week of September 1 to September 7 below!

    1. G-Dragon – “Who You?”

    2. G-Dragon ft. Jennie Kim – “Black”

    3. Yoon Mi Rae – “Touch Love”

    4. KARA – “Damaged Lady

    1. KARA – ‘Full Bloom’

    1. G-Dragon – “Who You?” – 347,616 Downloads

    2. G-Dragon ft. Jennie Kim – “Black” – 308,579 Downloads

    3. Yoon Mi Rae – “Touch Love” – 232,055 Downloads

    4. G-Dragon – “COUP D’ETAT”– 201,785 Downloads]

    5. KARA – “Damaged Lady” – 196,878 Downloads

    1. KARA – “Damaged Lady” – 82,030 Points