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One of a kind: How ‘OnlyOneOf’ transforms the K-Pop genre with their music

One of a kind: How ‘OnlyOneOf’ transforms the K-Pop genre with their music

Since 2015, I’ve been a K-Pop fan, and I also stan a lot of groups. I’ve seen many concepts, listened to much different music, and seen many stage performances. A K-Pop group, on the other hand, has been making a name for themselves in the K-pop scene with their distinctive presence. The six members of OnlyOneOf resemble the ideal K-Pop group formula when mixed with their distinctive music and concepts.

Photo from OnlyOneOf

On May 28, 2019, OnlyOneOf made their debut appearance as 8D Creative’s (RSVP) first boy group. KB (lead rapper, vocalist, producer), Rie (lead vocalist, lead dancer), Yoojung (main dancer, vocalist), Junji (the lead vocalist, lead dancer), Mill (main rapper, vocalist), and Nine (vocalist, maknae) make up this dynamic group of performers.  In August 2021, Love, their former leader, departed the group for personal reasons. 

Photos from OnlyOneOf Facebook Page

After carefully listening to their songs, you will hear that their music truly defines them as one of a kind. They transform the K-Pop scene with the help of their bold and distinctive music.

How OnlyOneOf transforming K-Pop with their music

Distinct and captivating music

One of the things that drew me to this group was their distinct and fresh sound. I believe that their music made them stand out from the K-Pop scene. Like their controversial song libidO, which stands out among other K-Pop songs in having a strong, captivating, seductive vibe. The song’s entire sensual aspect is what draws people to its launch. If you enjoy aesthetics and avant-garde music, libidO is worth checking out.

In the same way, their song skinz has a bold sound that sets them distinct. The song’s ambiance is haunting and distinctive, swinging from soothing R&B in the verses and harsh electro-synth in the chorus to produce an intriguing, jagged effect. The song’s glitchy background in skinz lends it some uniqueness and makes it stand out from other songs. Obviously, OnlyOneOf music would not be complete without its seductive rapping and vocals.

Meanwhile, with their ongoing project, undergrOund idOl, each member will show us their individuality and dynamic. For the remainder of the year, a solo single will be released by each member each month. The project was launched by YooJung’s song, begin, which had a city pop vibe. It was followed by KB’s be free, which, despite being somewhat melancholy, it intensifies the funk with a funky bassline and plenty of rhythm guitar.

On the other hand, be mine, which Junji recently released as a solo project, features a snappy, expressive vocal that fits the track’s R&B leanings. I’m excited to hear how other members’ uniqueness will contribute to the group’s dynamic sound.

Breaking gender norms

Indeed, OnlyOneOf has the guts to release fresh and distinct songs, which is rare for modern K-Pop groups. The concepts and themes in their songs and music videos also set them apart from other groups. Their LGBTQ-themed songs and music videos are controversial but daring.

Due to South Korea’s conservative culture, it is uncommon to find videos like libidO that feature LGBTQIA+ themes. It is truly commendable that OnlyOneOf and the team behind them took a big risk with this music video and pushed the boundaries. I find it to be exquisite and refined. Aside from its LGBTQIA+ themes, it is more focused on its title. The Freudian term for sexual desire, libidO, is used to give it a sexual feel that shows queer sexual blossoming.

However, the LGBTQIA+ themes in the music video for skinz were more subdued. The song’s message, however, is what gives it additional impact. The group emphasizes the need of being unique and true to oneself, regardless of what society may think. Additionally, the music videos feature close-up and intimate shots showing the group members eye contact and how they look at each other in a deep, meaningful way.

Queerbaiting accusations

Of course, the group can’t escape criticism from South Koreans given that their music and song are overtly LGBTQIA+ themed. In addition to that, they have come under fire for allegedly queer-baiting since their music videos depict the members’ intimate actions with one another. But is it queerbaiting, though?

YooJung’s solo features an inclusive representation of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is intended to inspire those whose relationships do not receive the same recognition as cis-heterosexual couples. Yoojung appears in the music video along with fellow OnlyOneOf member KB. It depicts the tale of a same-sex pair meeting and ultimately coming to terms with their feelings for one another to start a relationship.

Among the countless lovers in the world, there are also lovers that couldn’t be blessed.
For whatever reasons.
Religious reasons, things like parents’ disapproval.
I dedicate this song to all those lovers that couldn’t be blessed.

—Yoojung

They also write the lyrics, choreograph the performances themselves, and produce the songs. The music video for libidO is also gay, as confirmed repeatedly by the members and their creative director. Furthermore, it is inaccurate to criticize the authorial intention by calling their music queerbaiting. Even in the background, it is obvious that they knew exactly what they were aiming for. Is it therefore queerbaiting? It is all up to you.

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Provocative and unique stage performances

Their stage performances are similarly daring and bold to match the boldness of their songs and music videos. They kept the LGBTQIA+ elements in their choreography. It is commendable that the group members were able to execute this challenging but striking choreography. With all those movements, like the sliding knees and the use of rope throughout the routine, they really emphasized the sensual element of libidO, which I found to be really effective.

Of course, there was criticism for going too far with the choreography, particularly on the bridge of the song. Following up with hands on the crotch area, one member kneeled in an awkward position in front of another member. Although explicit, it’s only necessary to express the song’s desire-inducing theme.

Additionally, the members personally responds to sexually suggestive choreography. They performed in accordance with the idea of human instincts and desires, according to Love, their former leader. He emphasizes that it is more than just what many people would consider sexually explicit. Meanwhile, Rie suggested people concentrate on the overall picture rather than specific details.

Breaking from the stereotype of a K-Pop idol is, in my opinion, a brave move. Their appealing concept is excellent because it feels new and intriguing. I think that people should applaud and support their idea for libidO.

Photo from OnlyOneOf

On the whole

Despite the overt homophobia in South Korea, it appears that more and more idols are taking matters into their own hands. They fight against the discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community in their country through their music. OnlyOneOf did something extraordinary and brave. They transform the K-Pop scene by introducing queer themes and sensuality in their music.

Concepts by OnlyOneOf have a reputation for challenging Korean societal standards. Future performances by OnlyOneOf are something we’re looking forward to seeing. Hopefully, the prejudices that many Koreans still have will be brought to light and dispelled by their music.

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