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.

  • heeeey ya!! i thought i was the only one who acknowledged “ma boo” as one of the best thing by t-ara ever! as i commented on the last post here about THE QUEENS, t-ara is one of the few k-pop groups who can brag about a great discography back-to-back and there your are posting about t-ara b-sides… i love you! ^_^

    as for “flop free”… it is beyond a pity, but kinda expected. first because no matter how amazing the girls are and how interesting is the big room approach S.Tiger gave to the song, it IS a “number 9” redux. personally it works very little for me.

    thus said, i was seeing some physical sales lists from the last semester, and SLAY-ara was on #3 [or 4, at least a top5]!!!! they are still loved!!

    ccm should most deffinitely focus on promoting them as a more mature musically idol group, producing great albums [that are their selling strength in korea] along with more grown up music production, instead of trying to make them digital goddesses again.

  • William Love

    yikes, sugar free is flopping THAT hard? i’m not completely surprised, just because by K-pop standards, it’s fairly niche in it’s sound. big room house music hasn’t exactly been tackled in the mainstream over there, but damnnn. i bet if they had promoted this song they’d be doing a whole lot better!

  • negredo

    plese review T-ARA Ma Boo as throwback thursday for T-ara please

  • Db

    I don’t really care for the charts, but it kills me to see something so amazing as Sugar Free flopping so hard.

    There’s little to no reward for trying something new (with respect to the current trends in k-pop) and no respect for actual creativity. 15&’s Sugar and Yenny’s HA:TFELT album immediately come to mind. Some of the the best music put out this year, yet both were failures. All the Korean public is eating up is bland songs by the likes of Winner and heard-it-all-before tunes by SISTAR. I Swear is great, but it’s nothing new for the group.

    • OMG ha:tfelt’s album is amazing! despite thinking “ain’t nobody” sounds too much like sia for my taste, the rest of the album is wonderful! so atmospheric and dark… you can hear the artist’s sensitivity and you feel shit is deep even if you know crap of korean…

      i recently made a list on my tumblr with the top 5 best flops of korean summer, things i’d rather praise instead of shitty sistar, ridiculous mamacita and boring over-hyped YG acts.


      it is in portuguese, but well you can see the list anyway lol

      • Db

        Nice little article. I speak Spanish and French so I can make some sense of Portuguese. I actually never made the Sia connection with Ain’t Nobody. I don’t think I agree with it, but I can see what you mean. That said, I’d love it if Sera of Nine Muses would come back as a solo artist with something as amazing as HA:TFELT.

        I share your sentiments about SISTAR, SuJu and WInner. They’ve all been playing it safe and it’s getting old. I want my trashy So Cool SISTAR back!

        • omg thanks! glad you could read it all ^_^

          oh yes, i’ve been thinking the same about sistar. i don’t like their works ever since they started with duble sidekick. i thought “loving u” was nice, but i wished it were just a fase… then boring “give it to me” came along and bleh…

    • Guest

      I had an entire comment ready but logging on deleted the entire thing. Basically: the HAT:FELT project is overrated. It is really pretentious with the constant refrain of how DEEP, DARK, RAW, EMOTIONAL it is (also fans constantly reminding us that it is too) when it feels kind of derivative and amateurish to me. Yeeun is not the vocalist she things she is and the songs fall flat by her delivery of it. She’s talented as a musician and has great ideas but some light in that dark would have honestly made the album better. I don’t count Bond as light because that was just an exercise in style to be honest.

      • Db

        Better Together is quite light and fun. It could easily be played in any club and get the crowd going.

        I don’t enjoy all of the songs on the album, but she definitely deserves the praise for it. She actually wrote and composed the whole thing, which to me is very impressive for an idol, considering they don’t get any input into the music or concepts they promote.

  • niyahhill

    Im honestly so tried of how the korea public treats t-ara.
    They know t-ara is the fucking best and yet because of a bullshit scandal they treat them like shit.
    Im so ready for t-ara to tell those bias-ass music shows to fuck off and just go live outside of korea.
    That were they get the most love anyway.

    • James Smith III

      An it’s so crazy because just a month ago the netizens were discussing how amazing TARA was! KKS really did screw things up with this group; they were so close to being right up there with SNSD.

      • niyahhill

        You mean back up there with GG. There was times when t-ara would beat GG on Music shows and for song of the year.And I dont think KKS had full blame in t-ara being hated. It was that damn scandal that did that and ignorant people spreading it like it was true. And netizens are fucking flip-floppy. I doubt that people in korea even really hate t-ara like they did before but its just the ignorant ones are always the ones who voices are heard loud. Not only that the person who had a HUGE PART in t-ara down fall always had a part in the ferry accident. This bitch lied about everything calming she was hwayoung cousin and shit. She also lied about some other shit when the ferry went down. And I just fell like the same person who lied about knowing someone on the ferry also lied about being Hwayoung’s cousin. How could you believe anything she said???

        • James Smith III

          But KKS was the heart of that; if he had never added members to the original 6 none of that would’ve happened.

          • niyahhill

            I didnt say he was blame less but I mostly myself blame the hater who spread those rumors. That was t-ara down fall. And if the rumors never came out its most likey with the way hwayoung was acting she would’ve got fired anyway it went.

          • well KKS’s fault is for being such a bad manager. CCM’s PR damage control was totally fucked up during the whole hwayoung-gate. instead of acknowledging and explaining t-ara’s other members side on the whole thing, he just made a dumb announcement that 3 days later a reveleation would be made about t-ara. THREE FUCKING DAYS on this time is like a whole century of scandals being dug and made up by hateful netizens. by the time he announced hwayoung was being let go, even if CCM was making the right decision people on the internet had already had her as the victim of the whole thing and was making her a martyr in all of this.

            besides, KKS/CCM bad management history with t-ara and other artists is very long so…

  • niyahhill

    T-ara may flop when it comes to digital but they ALWAYS KILL it when it comes to ablum sells.

  • Johnnyyy

    Will they ever release another STUDIO ALBUM?

    • Sunny

      even though they do release albums in Japan (the most recent one flopped)

      they’re definitely overdue for another korean one. Its been 5 damn years T_T

      • gawd…but that last japanese album was goddam awful! >.<

        • Um no it was amazing motherfucker

        • niyahhill

          Yes Gossip girl was amazing

  • amdary

    Absolute First Album was the best kpop album till Red Light dropped. As of right now Red Light is the pinnacle of kpop albums.

  • KingBeaArthur

    I’m so done with Korea’s mistreatment of T-ara! Still mad over RUMORS??? Some high school bullshit…

    T-ara have owned this era 100%. From the styling to the live stages, impeccable.

  • true

    i know charting is important but we have to remember kpop idol are not the most popular artist in Korea, kpop is like 1D & katy perry to korean audience.

    what counts are sales, video views, airplay, radio & fan chants
    the fact T-ara have fans who are chanting for them is a blessing, who remember the blackout era