t-ara sugar free
T-ara are one of the few K-pop groups that actually put out great albums instead of just hot singles surrounded by filler. Absolute First Album still stands as one of the best, if not the best, Korean girl group album of the past five years, while Temptastic and its fifty million re-releases were fantastic (who can forget “Ma Boo”?).

Unfortunately, T-ara’s album quality went from ‘amazing’ to simply ‘quite good’ after they dropped their once-signature electronic hip-hop sound on releases like Day by Day and Again. I thought we’d lost Album-ara forever until I heard their latest effort, And & End, which is easily their best since Funky Town.

Every track on the album is as perfect as Soyeon’s evolving face (with the exception of some boring OST ballad tucked in the middle), but my favorite is “I Don’t Want You.” Produced by hitmaker Duble Sidekick, it’s a sweet and melancholy midtempo that also sounds terribly chic due to the prominent use of a French accordion (because anything French is fancy, duh). If T-ara’s Page One café chain had expanded overseas instead of going out of business a week after it opened, then “I Don’t Want You” is the song they’d play in the Parisian shop.

I just wish T-ara had been able to save this song for something more than a semi-promoted b-side, because I actually like it more than “Sugar Free.” Maybe give it a cheap MV like they did with “Because I Know” last year, or make it an official QBS single (especially since Qri’s “Whatchu waiting for…” is the best part).

They’ve performed the song a handful of times so far, but the only place where it was skillfully filmed with good audio and not cut down to a 1 minute snippet was M! Countdown. The concept outfits are divine, and the hip-wiggling choreography is beyond cute.

Other songs on And & End worth checking out include the vengeful electro-pop bop “ORGR,” and “If I See Her,” which sounds exactly like a Brave Brothers’ track.

Now start praying for “Sugar Free,” because it just flopped on the weekly singles chart at No. 37.