K-Pop Pick Of The Day: A

Track: A | Artist: Rainbow | Album: So Girls

Yes, this song is literally called A. That might make things a bit confusing for us, but bear with me, because it’s Rainbow’s best.


Rainbow debuted in 2009 under DSP Media, which also managed the very successful KARA before them, and therefore brings forth the question: how did they fuck it up so badly with Rainbow?

More than anything else, Rainbow stands as a dubious lesson in how not to manage a group. While the group was technically extant until 2016, they hit their peak in 2010 and early 2011 with tracks like A, Mach, and To Me. All of these songs are of a similar vein; very electronic hook songs with a catchy chorus, firmly on the sexy side of the spectrum.

Starting in 2012, though, DSP Media somehow thought it was a smart idea to execute a 180-degree change in their concept. Going forward, we would see releases like Sweet Dream, Tell Me Tell Me, and Sunshine. While these were fine songs, they absolutely shattered Rainbow’s carefully-constructed concept to devolve them into yet another cutesy-pop girl group.

Watch and listen to Sunshine, and compare it to A, four years earlier:

Needless to say, this gave fans enough whiplash to last for a lifetime. If this wasn’t enough, Rainbow launched a very ill-advised Japanese debut at around the same period; this came at the worst possible moment, when they still did not have a solid domestic fandom to fall back on, and when the Japanese public were starting to sour on Korean artists hopping across the pond to chase Japan’s larger spending base.

To make matters worse, their first Korean album after nearly a year spent abroad didn’t even feature the full group; instead, DSP Media launched a sub-unit, Rainbow Pixie, with Hoi Hoi. This transparent attempt to break into Orange Caramel’s stranglehold of the offbeat-cutesy K-Pop market was a failure. Recognizing this, the company tried again on the opposite side of the spectrum with yet another sub-unit, Rainbow Blaxx, with Cha Cha:

While Cha Cha did marginally better, it wasn’t enough to prevent Rainbow’s slow slide into falling profits and irrelevancy, and they would announce their breakup in 2016, which longtime fans had seen coming for a while.


If there is a silver lining to DSP Media’s ham-handed management of Rainbow, it’s that the group also became the textbook case of how to disband; prior to their dissolution, the group embarked on a farewell tour, and were able to give their fans some closure. To this day, all of the Rainbow members remain close with each other, which lends hope to a potential reunion sometime down the line.

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“A” is a classic and it’s a travesty that it didn’t catapult them onto the A-list...no pun intended. I once saw a promo CD single on eBay for like $250 AND I ACTUALLY CONSIDERED GETTING IT.

Anyway, I was somewhat iffy with Rainbow with all their cutesy songs, so it surprised me when they (well, Blaxx, and DSP why the heck is it pronounced “black”)  came out with “Cha Cha”. I loved it to the point where it became my most-played song on iTunes ever (which was eventually displaced by “Rollin’” by Brave Girls). And then the group came out with “Black Swan” which pretty much was the final nail in the coffin, although I liked the song a lot (once I got used to it).

I fully agree with you that DSP screwed this up royally and I think they have yet to fully recover from all this. They had a solid group of girls (Beautiful! Talented! Good on variety! JAEKYUNG!), catchy songs, and no major scandals (unless you include Hyunyoung dating Alex). It honestly gets me very frustrated and 답답해 that they weren’t able to be more successful. (I know that this is in part due to DSP’s President becoming ill a few years ago and having his family lead the company instead; I guess I should also mention the fact that they burned bridges with Sweetune.)

Sigh  I will now play “A” on repeat on my way to work.