In a surprising turn of events, Areum has announced that she will be leaving T-ara to pursue a solo career. *Runs to get popcorn for ensuing netizen explosion*
Unlike with Hwayoung, Areum’s leaving the group caught me completely off guard. She had seemed to settle into that third vocalist role behind Soyeon and Hyomin as well as sharing rap duties with Eunjung, both of which she performed well considering her age and experience. As of now there’s no record of any discord between her and the other members, but I’m sure the netizen brigade will dig up something to prove whatever misguided theories they have regarding this matter. So as we are going on the assumption of an amicable split, as much as I liked her in T-ara, this change makes so much sense.
Even since Hwayoung’s inclusion in the group, many of T-ara’s fans have not been happy with CCM tinkering with T-ara’s lineup. So now, with Areum leaving, this brings T-ara back to its original debut lineup. In some ways, I’m not a huge fan of this. 6-ara’s biggest flaw was that it only had 3 members who were of any value vocally: Soyeon/Hyomin/Eunjung. 3 years later after…and these 3 are still the only members that actually have lines in their songs. Jiyeon has improved since her debut, but she still has a very specific vocal range that they give her. Qri and Boram usually have their token lines, but they’ve been stagnant since debut. With Areum gone, it’s just going to be 75% Soyeon instead of the current 70%. Which I have no problem with, to be honest, because I really do like Soyeon’s voice.
The best part of Areum leaving is that Eunjung gets bumped back to her rightful spot as main rapper. She is by far their best rapper and I would argue the best female idol rapper. The biggest thing I’ve missed about 6-ara is how much rapping she did before. I suppose that Hyomin goes back to being second rapper, but in all fairness to her, she’s much better off as lead vocal with Soyeon. Jiyeon has tried rapping, most notably in this scene in Dream High 2, but i think we can safely scratch that off her list of talents. Qri and Boram, I can’t even fathom them doing it either. As such, I hope they just let Eunjung do all the rapping from now on.
The one thing I do hope is that this doesn’t mean Dani gets her chance with the group. Not only is she far too young compared to the rest of the group, but she can barely speak Korean. Any problems that Hwayoung had would only be magnified with Dani. If CCM has learned anything from all their tinkering, they should have learned that adding members doesn’t work. After all their changes, it’s 3 years later and they’re no more popular than when they first starting messing things around. Without Hwagate, T-ara could easily be one of the top tier groups in Korea. At their peak, nobody beat them in digital sales, not even SNSD. Now, though, they’re probably on the same level as say Rainbow, APink, and After School. Those groups will do okay, but they’re not winning any of the music shows anytime soon.
So while the 7-ara lineup with Areum is in my mind the most versatile and balanced of all their various permutations, I can’t really complain with getting the original crew back. I just hope Areum does actually go solo because she really is talented for her age and would be a shame for her to give up on her dream. And now, here’s all of the major songs that Areum had a part in with T-ara. “Bunny Style” was an abomination and will not be listed here.