Few K-pop groups have had the kind of roller coaster career that T-ara’s had. Throughout their almost nine years together, the girls have been on top, on the bottom, and everywhere in between. With an iconic career that’s spawned K-pop classics like “Roly Poly” and “Bo Peep Bo Peep,” it's only fitting that T-ara end their contract with longtime label MBK Entertainment in a big way with their last MBK album, What's My Name?.
The jam-packed album doesn't skimp on the songs, with three brand new group tracks, a solo for each of the group’s remaining four members, and a Chinese version of the title track. T-ara are also doing full television and music program promotions for the album, which is something a lot of other veteran girl groups skipped for their farewell promotions.
On title track “What's My Name?,” T-ara bypass the usual final single balladry in favour of a dance-pop bop. That's not to say that the song is all superficial club fluff. Producer Brave Brothers brings some emotional weight to the music with melancholy melodies, making “What's My Name?” similar to STELLAR’s excellent “Crying.” It's a great song that delivers the sentimentality of a farewell single without sacrificing the catchy dance beats that K-pop fans love.
The music video is even more touching, with tonnes of references to members Boram and Soyeon, who unfortunately had to sit this comeback out due to their contracts expiring early.
The rest of the album shifts away from the electronic style of the title track. “Reload” is a sexy slice of retro funk that sounds like it belongs on a James Bond soundtrack. Just listening to it conjures up images of T-ara dressed as spies and glamorous Bond girls!
The group also slow things for the tender ballad “20090729.” The song is meaningful for two reasons: the title is a reference to T-ara’a debut date, and the song was written and composed by their junior group DIA.
Things get really interesting on the album’s four solo tracks. The big surprise is Qri, who channels her inner hipster on the sweltering M.I.A.-lite number “Diamonds.” Qri was a bassist in an indie band before debuting as an idol with T-ara, and “Diamonds” indicates that she hasn't quite let go of her indie roots just yet.
Hyomin keeps things fun and flirty on “Ooh La La.” The talented singer-rapper has always been known for her sexually-charged solo music, so it's nice to see her taking a more playful approach this time around.
Wrapping things up is Eunjung’s melodic “Real Love,” which has roots in early retro pop-soul, and Jiyeon’s sweet ballad “Lullaby.” Jiyeon’s single recalls her underrated solo album, Never Ever, so longtime fans will definitely love it.
Overall, this was a really impressive farewell album for a K-pop act. While it's still unclear if T-ara will regroup under a different agency or not, if they don't “What's My Name?” fortunately serves as the perfect send-off.
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