4l move
Out of all the sexy concept comebacks this year, the most memorable has to be STELLAR’s “Marionette.” Although it wasn’t as big of a hit as AOA’s “Miniskirt,” Girl’s Day’s “Something,” or even Rainbow Blaxx’s “Cha Cha,” the impact that it had and what it did for STELLAR’s career was enormous.

Thanks to “Marionette,” STELLAR went from non-charting irrelevant rookies to K-pop’s most controversial new girl group virtually overnight. The song became a top forty hit, the music video scored over 2 million views in a single week, and STELLAR were suddenly being offered endorsements, variety show appearances, magazine pictorials, and endless requests to perform at nightclubs and events across Korea. Even I was shocked at just how much they squeezed out of what was technically just a minor hit, and I’ve been a fan of the group since 2011’s “Rocket Girl.”

STELLAR were held up as an example of pushing the trending sexy concept too far — so much so that most of the sexy-themed comebacks that followed failed to drum up as much press as “Marionette” did. The concept had already been pushed to the limit, and nobody was game to take it any further.

That is, until 4L came along with “Move.”

4L, also known as ‘Four Ladies,’ is a nugu rookie group primarily made up of members from another nugu rookie group called M.O.A. M.O.A only debuted back in February –about a week after “Marionette” dropped– but they’ve already disbanded, which really says a lot about just how cut-throat and competitive the K-pop scene is.

M.O.A’s first and only single, “I’ll Call Ya,” was a hideously low budget slice of generic dance-pop with an even cheaper music video to match, but 4L’s debut single, “Move,” is surprisingly high quality (at least by bankrupt no-name agency standards).

Instead of the usual autotuned electro crap we’ve come to expect from nugu rookies, the production on “Move” is refreshingly sparse and elegant — think Bob Girls’ underrated “No Way” or the first half of miss A’s “Hush.”

It’s a tango track, with acoustics, piano, and a lot of bandoneon (or accordion), which is something I haven’t really heard in K-pop since Ga-In’s flawless Step 2/4 mini-album. While Ga-In’s “Irreversible” was quite sinister and macabre, 4L’s take on tango is extremely sensual, but still tasteful — seriously. There’s a number of classy K-divas who could’ve easily recorded “Move” without tarnishing their images, like Uhn Jung Hwa, Kim Wan Sun, or Ivy.

Speaking of Ivy and tango, can we please just take a moment to acknowledge that “Move” is better than “I Dance”? Thank you.

Anyway, for what is actually a somewhat sophisticated SEXPOP single, the “Move” music video contains about as much class as Farrah 2: Backdoor and More (the one where Farrah performs ATM, among other unhygienic acts). It’s pretty raunchy, with provocative lesbian love scenes between the members (even though the song specifically references that “Move” is about a male), and hilariously explicit choreography. It’s still tamer than Beyonce’s “Partition,” but it’s super naughty by K-pop standards.

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It’s clearly been modelled off of “Marionette,” with 4L stealing STELLAR’s outfits, font, the colour purple, portions of the choreography, and select scenes and sets from the video. They make their STELLAR theft intentionally obvious, as if to say, “Look at us! We’re doing what STELLAR did, only much worse!

To add some relevancy to “Move” they also jacked the chorus from Hyosung’s “Good-night Kiss,” but the main goal is to out-STELLAR STELLAR, and so far it’s worked. It’s only taken “Move” a few days to get 1.2 million views on YouTube, and the sexual content has earned 4L tonnes of attention on various K-pop sites.

Now, are 4L going to last beyond this flash-in-the-pan controversy? Probably not. It’s unlikely that they’re going to get as far as STELLAR did (or Wa$$up… or RaNia…), but at the end of the day, they’re still doing a lot better than M.O.A did, and that has to count for something.

“Move” is a genuinely good song, and the music video is a lot of fun, even if it is nothing more than a testament to just how impactful STELLAR’s heel turn was to K-pop this year. I don’t know about y’all, but I’ll be supporting 4L until the long-awaited follow-up to “Marionette” arrives and sweeps the nation with more fervour than Park Ji Yoon’s “Coming of Age Ceremony.”