KARA's 'Cupid' Is a Sexy Sugar Rush From K-pop's Indestructible Angels
Classic KARA With a TwistFresh Production From e.oneYoungi's Iconic Rap
Oh My Girl's 'Cupid' Is Way Better It's Not The Triple Crown Winning Hit I Know KARA Can Still Do
3.6Overall Score
Reader Rating 45 Votes

KARA‘s “Cupid” comeback was previously touted as a total revamp for the veteran girl group, but the finished product is more like a welcome twist than a complete overhaul.

The deliciously tacky cowgirl concept KARA’s sporting this era is the closest they’ve come to a sexy image outside of the shoulder-baring “Pandora,” but “Cupid” still features all the KARA trademarks –fizz, femininity, fluorescence– that have defined the group for almost eight years.

Cupid’s arrow becomes a phallic metaphor in the lyrics, while the MV is somewhere between a naughty midnight Vegas show and a frosted KARA 5 Jewel commercial. It’s a pretty perfect way of combining K-pop’s two most ubiquitous girl group concepts –very cute or very sexy– without being too heavy handed or biased towards one or the other.

The biggest change in KARA this time around is their sound, which is thanks to rising production duo e.one. The pair, made up of Jung Ho Hyun and V.O.S’ Choi Hyun Joon, have produced album filler for trendy teen favourites like EXO, A Pink, BtoB, and Boyfriend, but “Cupid” is their first real shot at doing a big pop single.

“Cupid” is a rubbery, synthetic thing with a double hook and a wriggly electric siren that sounds like it was snatched straight out of a J-pop song or anime theme. It’s like the midway point between Kylie Minogue and E-Girls (a comparison that could be made for oodles of K-pop), but it still feels quintessentially KARA.

Despite being chewy bubblegum, the desired sexy effect is still there amongst the chirpy vocals and holographic synths. The chorus has KARA breathlessly chanting about a dangerous man, before spiking up and demanding he shoot their trembling bodies with his love arrow. There’s also a whispered rap break from new member Youngji, which is both odd and arousing in its utter restraint. “Cupid” may be sugary as hell, but it’s still a lil’ steamy.

I wasn’t quite sure how KARA would fare after losing the triple threat of Nicole, Jiyoung, and Sweetune, but looking at “Mamma Mia” and now “Cupid,” it’s as if there was never any kind of group restructure in the first place. Every change in KARA has always felt like a natural evolution. Their popularity ebbs and flows and their singles usually vary from good to ridiculously great, but no matter what they’re always around and they’re always relevant, and in the fickle, fast-moving world of K-pop, that’s a rare miracle.

  • MolkangMolkang

    The chorus is good, I just think it’s missing that oomf that takes it to the next level. Mamma Mia is still flawless though.

    • beat

      Heard that one did poorly in charts though. Cupid is doing marginally better at the moment but with Big Bang constantly releasing new music videos it will be unlikely to get anywhere near Top 5.

  • byoing~byoing.

    Um, when did Gyuri return to the HBIC of belting and vocal slayage in KARA? Those high notes are everythinggggggg!
    The only bad thing I can say about this comeback is that I can’t deal with these cowgirl outfits they’re wearing. They look so cheap and disgusting? Who is styling KARA these day? Honey Boo Boo’s mum? Gurl bye

    • hahahaha i atually love the cowgirl shtick although i agree they could look more madonna’s “don’t tell me” glam than the high school costume party quality it actually is.

      but hey…sometime we expect too much from k-pop. not all agencies are SM and even them get it shitty sometimes lol

      • _craypopper

        Sometimes? — Side-eyes basically every fashion selection Tiffany has ever “made”.

        • kakakakakka the holler yellow outfits were disturbing!

          the whisper ones were gorgeous ITOH

        • Marhaebwa

          Better spill that Tiffany-wants-to-be-designer-but-aint-Jess tea.

  • i love it. i was expecting not to like it so much, cos u know i’ve been reading asian junkie a lot… but it’s amazing, the darkish tone of the c.u.p.i.d intro setting the mood that this won’t be as sweet as it seems.

    youngji’ rap is glorious! it’s like the rapping jokes by scary and ginger spices throughout their debut album. it’s low key and not fantastic but, even though i know shit what she’s speaking of, it delivers the context message: sex.

  • When is the rap breakdown in kpop a track highlight?! Oddly great. Also, does anyone else feel like they are recycling past girl group dances in the chorus, but better?

    • James Smith III

      the rap starts around 2:35

      • oh sorry, that was a rhetorical question, bc i freakin’ love her spoken word breakdown

  • KingBeaArthur

    I really love the song (and bits of the overall concept) but I prefer “Mamma Mia”.

  • Db

    I love the song and the tacky Dallas Cowboys cheerleader-inspired outfits.

    The rap was kinda pointless and the MV could have used a bit more pizzazz. I was bored upon first viewing. Overall it’s still a resounding success in my book.

    I’m wondering why everyone is ditching Sweetune these days. After having created the immaculate Nine Muses catalogue, they’re by far my favorite producers in kpop,

    • jizabel

      I stan Sweetune and tbh I would absolutely let them dp me, but the fact is that they haven’t produced a big hit in literal years, which was KARA’s Mister, and to a much lesser extent, Step. Their songs didn’t decrease in quality or anything, the South Korean listening public just has horrid taste in pop music.

      • Well they still produce hits for INFINITE but it’s true that with girl groups the best they’ve managed in the past few years is moderate hits, but nothing big

        • it’s a pity because i loved his girl group stuff. the muses catalogue and kara’s and rainbow’s stuffs uhg gorgeous!

      • SKS

        There have been rumours that Sweetune and DSP had a falling out that was connected with Nicole. Sweetune did Nocole’s solo release.

        Sweetune have to get back with Rainbow; they were the only ones who did the group justice.

    • I love the outfits too. At first I thought WTF, but then I remembered that I love everything tacky in K-pop so I automatically stanned them.

  • Love the first chorus part, but the second part has no pizzaz. SeungYeon and YoungJi have swapped hair, which is good for YoungJi but bad for SeungYeon. Very surpised to see YoungJi get a rap part but its pretty cool. The rose arrows are fairly rad. Not sold on GyuRi’s freckle sparkles.
    RE: Sweetune: Thank christ it isn’t YET ANOTHER Brave Sound 1x Chord progression cookie cutter.

    I give it 8 SNSDs out of 9.

  • nightvisiongoggles

    No matter how good the song is, the costumes have already been panned and physical sales have been flagging. What’s surprising is their digital/SNS stats are better compared to ‘Mamma Mia’. Where they’ll go from here, I don’t know. It’s one of the reasons why they hardly make an effort for their Korean releases lately.

    On the other hand, their latest Japanese single topped Oricon, and they have a full Japanese album this June. If that coming album also does well, I bet that their next Korean release will just be obligatory.

    • beat

      Yes at least KARA’s still making lots of yens. They’ll basically earn the same amount as SHINee and Big Bang will for their comebacks this month. These girls are rich especially since each member have lots of CFs and even the new member is on a TV show.

  • James Smith III

    So its amazing to think that after having three group transition this girl group is still one of the top groups in Asia. I wonder why they are never considered to be in the top echelon of the 2007-2009 groups? I mean damn they have hit after hit and a true professionals.

  • beat

    Its impossible to do a triple crown win for KARA because they’re always coming back around the same time as Big Bang and SHINee for the last 3-4 years now. Big Bang will just release another music video to next week to block Cupid off the Top 5 charts. Big Bang= Big Bullies. They should return in January or October when its empty house so they can win again (they released Lupin in early Jan 2010).

  • Nicole Naeun

    Wow I love everything about this comeback, the catchy song, the doll-ness of Hara and Gyuri, the airbrush on Seunyeon and Youngji, the iconic cowboy outfits (no idea why these white people say it’s tacky, maybe it’s a white ppl thing?), basically everything!

    Another 5/5 from the ever-amazing KARA!