Jiyeon Never Ever
T-ara contains a handful of versatile talents and stars –namely Eunjung, Jiyeon, and Hyomin– but it would’ve been impossible during the group’s heyday for any member to spin-off with a solo career. Pre-scandal T-ara was quite possibly the most heavily-worked girl group in K-pop, and when they weren’t re-releasing their hit albums or promoting overseas, they were busy acting, modelling, and working the variety circuit 24/7. But a lot has changed since Hwayoung threw her crutches to the ground in a fit of rage, and these days T-ara’s had to be a little more flexible in the way they promote themselves.

We got a taste of solo T-ara on their 10-edition J-pop single “Bunny Style!,” followed by the subunits of T-ara N4 and the underrated QBS. Now with girl group soloists becoming the new trend and T-ara’s image still in ruins in Korea (if the chart performance of “What Do I Do?” is anything to go by), the sixsome’s star member Jiyeon has now gone solo with a 3-track mini-album, NEVER EVER.

A few years back, Jiyeon was one of K-pop’s most popular idols and top-ranked beauties, and probably could’ve nabbed a solo smash with almost any song or concept as long as it was catchy enough. But things are obviously a lot different now, so she’s gone for the safer option of a sexy concept with a Duble Sidekick-produced single, titled “1min1sec,” that sounds suspiciously like the inescapable sound that Brave Brothers has carved out for himself with hits like SISTAR19’s “Gone Not Around Any Longer” and Sunmi’s “Full Moon.” However, imitation is commonplace in K-pop, and if true success lies in execution, then Jiyeon is motherfuckin’ Henry VIII because she slayed this shit.

On its own, “1min1sec” is a bit of a non-event. It follows the aforementioned Brave Brothers’ blueprint to the letter –open with a catchy refrain of “oohs” or “aahs,” add some melancholy ’80s riffs from a cheesy instrument like an electric guitar or saxophone, and repeat the opening refrain on the post-chorus– with no curve balls thrown to differentiate it from similar-sounding songs. But it’s much-loved formula that works for a reason, and just like Sunmi’s past solo efforts, the concept and choreography take this from being a good song to a great one.

Jiyeon Never Ever Gif 02

The music video falls somewhere between Sunny Hill and STELLAR, with equal time given to both art and sleaze. Half the clip consists of stop-motion scenes showing a distressed Jiyeon confined to a one-room apartment where time passes but nothing ever gets better, while the other half has the 20-year-old in short-shorts and thigh-high stockings seductively grinding her hips as rain falls down around her. Much like T-ara N4’s “Countryside Life,” the drama portion of the MV can be viewed as a metaphor for T-ara’s post-scandal situation and the psychological damage that the public’s relentless cyber bullying has had on Jiyeon. The deteriorating house can represent both Jiyeon’s mental state (she was recently told via a reality show that she needs counselling) and her career, while the faceless man represents the netizens that hate from the privacy of their keyboards. Despite her anguish, Jiyeon vows to never give up, but the dramatic finale suggests that her personal hell won’t come to an end until we all free her from it.

The dance portion of the video is total titillation, but that doesn’t mean that it’s devoid of artistic merit. The choreography is some of the most original and expressive that I’ve seen in K-pop in a long time, and it’s absolutely mesmerizing to watch performed live on stage. And on a purely superficial level, Jiyeon looks beyond incredible with a style and physique that trumps most of her contemporaries. She’s only 20, but she looks like a real woman — not some little girl awkwardly attempting sexy because it’s the trend. “1min1sec” definitely isn’t the strongest song of the year, but conceptually and visually it trumps every Duble Sidekick and Brave Brothers’ comeback this year, from Sunmi and Hyosung to AOA and the rest of ’em.

Jiyeon Never Ever Gif

Outside of the title track, Jiyeon doesn’t disappoint with the rest of her mini-album. “Yeouido Cherry Blossom” is a breezy little ditty about enjoying the cherry blossom trees with a lover before spring turns to summer, while the bleak “Marionette” shares lyrical similarities to the STELLAR song of the same name and perfectly fits the bill of ‘B-side you wished was a real single’ just like STELLAR’s “Guilty” or T-ara’s own “Goodbye, OK.”

So far Jiyeon’s doing quite badly on the digital charts, which is hard for me to fathom after seeing her M! Countdown performance — a.k.a one of the best comeback stages of the entire fucking year. But I guess if the perfect “What Do I Do?” can flop, anything can.

It seems that the Korean public are still determined to keep Jiyeon locked in her padded room for the foreseeable future, but even without commercial success on her side, Jiyeon has exceeded expectations and shown that she has everything that it takes to be a solo artist and more. It might not be a mutizen, but it’s still a success in my eyes.

  • Suzy Sooyoung

    fucking iconic comeback! This song and concept slayyyyyyyyy

  • it saddens me so badly to know it’s tanking on the charts :'(

    • Allen Alexander

      Let’s not think about that bb. Let’s at least thank the stars that they actually gave her something pretty legit. I mean it could have been worse. She could have had to perform a solo version of the ratchet “Countryside Life” remix.

    • FreakyFlyBri

      Take heart, Jiyeon may not do that well on the digital charts but she’ll probably be able to do well in terms of physical albums (better than a lot of other female soloists, anyways). T-ara’s fanbase is small but very loyal, and they can and do buy albums. It’s one of the reasons T-ara is still able to stay somewhat relevant in South Korea.

  • T-ara the best

    this whole thing is so avant garde, like no mv are done this way b4.

    • lol…actually, the video feels like a continuation of the joint single “painkiller” with t-ara, the seeya, speed and 5dolls in which jiyeon stars as a suicidal chick

  • LOL inkigayo’s prudeness is RIDICULOUS… but she she slayed on the vocals. and oh this routine is so classy and sexy. it shits all over sunmi’s boring music show’s version of full moon

  • JammySmoochie

    On first listen, it didn’t quite amaze me. But days after, I’m already prancing around my house wailing “Never ever” followed by gibberish Korean. And after that life-affirming M! Countdown performance, this was a certified win in my book. Good vocals (okay, not perfect but definitely two million times better than that of lipsyncing kings EXO) and that choreo… oh my God, that choreography.

    Overall, this was a 4/5.

  • Brett

    The live performances are so perfect! It’s a shame she’ll never win no.1 because she deserves it so much!

  • lilah_lilah

    Tags: J-pop, Jiyeon

    Is the J in J-pop for Jiyeon?

    • Whoops that was a typo!

      • lilah_lilah

        It’s fitting. Jiyeon Pop!

  • Matheus Torres

    I hate this bitch, but I gotta admit the whole concept and comeback performances were great. She’s doing a better job than I anticipated.

    • haha this bitch is flaaaaawless! she’s the regina george of korea. she’ll spin and crack your spine with just a look.

      lol i’m kidding… hey r u brazillian?

      • Matheus Torres

        Sim, eu sou brasileiro! :D

  • Allen Alexander

    LOVE this shit. I was literaly sent into a rage when I saw them televise her mental evaluation. CCM is so heartless and brutal that it kills me. Like most people, the song itself didn’t sell it, but the performances are awesome.

  • Sunny

    i really wanted to like it as i love T-ara and all of the members, i was not impressed by the title track.

    BUT i have to say the performances/MV/everything else is flawless…. I just am not crazy over the song. The sexy concept fits Jiyeon well *_*

  • ByronZ

    So bad to know she’s not doing good on the charts :(.

    Jiyoen slayed everything about this solo debut <3

  • zql

    Jiyeon’s debut was so well produced, i was worried for her but it turned out much better than i expected, I have high hopes for t-ara’s summer comeback

    I’m still confused about the scandal, kwangsoo said he fired hwayoung after discussing with staff members and for not performing at music bank so why are they still dragging the fake bullying story

    • well two things: 1- kks is a motherfucking untrustworthy liar… and 2- even if it is true [which probably is in some extent] korean netizens ain’t interested on the truth, just the drama


    Wasn’t and still not impressed with the track, YCB or Marionette would have been more suitable choices imo. Can’t deny she looks gorgeous and i definitely enjoyed the stage, that’s what really took it to the next level for me. But I’m sorry gurl this is not my favorite comeback this year, this isn’t even in my top 10. I just wish Jiyeon would have had the chance to take more control over her debut, it would have been so much better.

  • KingBeaArthur

    First spin of the song I thought it was meh. Then I saw the mv and I got it completely. Jacques was spot on by saying the concept & choreography is stronger than the song (which is good; it’s elevated by visuals).

    She absolutely obliterates the live stages! It helps that the she has a fully fleshed out routine that uses every inch of the stage available and, aside from that moment on the wall *clears throat*, she isn’t using sex as a crutch. A++ in my book!

    • the song may not be inventive [we’re talking about duble sidekick for chrissake!] but it’s very effective in terms of hook. the shit grows on you and it ends up being the best thing about your music day lol

  • FreakyFlyBri

    I have to hand it to Jiyeon…she is fucking WINNING right now in terms of the lives she’s putting on. And that music video is easily one of the best I’ve seen all year long, regardless of whether it’s K-Pop, western pop…whatever. It appeals to my love of psychological horror, and the twist was equal parts horrifying and sad.

    Say what you want about CCM, but they know how to handle T-ara and its members in terms of their styling, choreo, songs, etc. I wish they weren’t inept at actually managing them, but that’s an entirely different story. At any rate, they nailed it with Jiyeon, it gives me hope that Hyomin’s impending solo debut will be equally flawless.

    As far as the chart placement for the single goes, meh. I think T-ara’s lost their status as digital queens for good. I’m pretty sure the mini will still sell reasonably well thanks to how loyal most fans of T-ara are, though.

  • niyahhill

    Nobody knows how hard it is to do that hip move until they try it.
    I almost died trying to do that dance.
    It takes alot of muscles to do that and not look sloppy.

  • yosafbridge

    I’ll be honest. I think T-ara deserve a chance back at the spotlight and Jiyeon should be doing a lot better on the charts based on the song and her live performances. But I think the writing is on the wall for T-ara.

    What makes me think this? There’s a variety show “Star Beauty Show” and they recently had a series of specials pitting girlgroups against each other in terms of make-up skills. Each episode is a one vs one knock-out round.Each group’s performance is evaluated by a studio audience (comprising professional make-up artists) as well as the TV audience who vote via SMS. The overall score is a straight addition of professional panel’s vote + TV audience vote.Invariably, the more popular girl groups win even when they perform badly since their TV audience score swamps the professionals’ opinions often reversing the make-up pro’s scoring.

    Case in point : BEStie crushed Tiny-G even when the pros voted overwhelmingly for Tiny-G since BESTie’s fans voted to save them and reversed the overall score. Again for SPICA who basically cruised to the finals and the overall win since their TV audience voted consistently for them. T-ara? Lost in the first round to a nugu group like STELLAR smh. Yep, things looks ominous for T-ara…

    • I saw that :(

      I was actually shocked in the first place that T-ara was on that show! Back in the day they only did the top variety shows or just had their OWN shows like T-ara dot com and T-ara dream girls. Then I see Star Beauty Show and they’re on with Tiny-G, BESTie, STELLAR, Sunny Days (who?!)… If there had been some other popular groups to balance it out it would’ve been fine but it was literally T-ara and then a bunch of flops and nugus.

      • yosafbridge

        Any mid-tier girl group like Miss A, Girl’s Day or Secret would have walked the competition–all they would have to do is basically show up. For T-ara to falter at the first round of what is essentially the Nugu Olympics is a pretty bad indictment of their standing in the general public’s eyes.

        • FreakyFlyBri

          I agree that public opinion of them is negative (and probably always will be to a certain extent) but as far as groups go, T-ara could be doing a LOT worse. I’m not bothered by what a bunch of idiots who probably watched the show SPECIFICALLY to make sure T-ara didn’t win think because at the end of the day, T-ara’s still flawless and that’s all that counts.

          Anyways, I don’t mean to come off like I’m arguing or attacking you, but saying T-ara is done is kind of passé at this point. If they were going to be done any time soon they would have called it quits a while ago, but since they’re still able to do decently as a group in other territories (and still outsell other girl groups who are more popular than them in physical sales) I don’t worry about their ability to carry on. Not in the immediate future, anyways.