Copycat claims can't dampen 4Minute's Crazy success
Netizens accuse K-pop girl group 4Minute of plagiarism over Crazy, their new single and music video
"Yeah I'm the female monster".
4Minute's buxom rapper HyunA spits out that line in the opening verse of the K-pop quintet's sassy new track Crazy.
The 22-year-old could well be describing 4Minute's position on the music scene now - collectively, they make a monster of a K-pop group.
With Crazy, which New York's Fuse TV calls "one of the biggest club bangers of 2015", the girls have hit a winning streak.
On home turf, most-recognised member HyunA, Jihyun, 25, Gayoon and Jiyoon, both 24, and Sohyun, 20, have clinched sevenNo. 1 trophies on various TV shows, including SBS Inkigayo, MBC Show Champion and Mnet M! Countdown.
Internationally, their results have been equally impressive.
Crazy, the lead single from 4Minute's EP with the same title, topped China's YinYueTai V and QQ Music charts.
The music video for Crazy on YinYueTai raked in more than 2.2 million hits in just two days.
Over in the US, 4Minute snagged their first No. 1 spot on Billboard's World Albums chart.
The five, whose last EP 4Minute World was released in March last year, told entertainment portal Mwave eNews that with their new image for Crazy, they have gone full circle.
And that meant ditching their previous sexy, feminine look for good.
"We decided to go back to the intense image we had right at the beginning of (our showbiz) debut (in 2009)," said Gayoon.
"To show the stronger and more intense sides of ourselves, we decided to give up on looking pretty. We looked at each other's make-up and said, 'Let's give up on men,' and laughed."
GROWING FAN BASE
But as their growing fan base continues to soak in Crazy's energetic, addictive blend of synth beats, throbbing basslines and Middle Eastern flutes, 4Minute find themselves smack in the middle of controversy.
They are facing not one, but three accusations of plagiarism.
Entertainment news site Kpopstarz reported that YouTube vlogger MRJKPOP, popular for his reviews of K-pop music videos, pointed out alleged similarities between Crazy and Big Bang member G-Dragon's One Of A Kind.
"I didn't know G-Dragon was going to be in this music video," he commented, as he juxtaposed a screen grab from One Of A Kind against a scene of the 4Minute girls dancing.
"Just saying. That's disappointing."
In Crazy, HyunA, Jihyun, Gayoon, Jiyoon and Sohyun are seen wearing all-black outfits and hats with their names printed in caps, looking eerily similar to G-Dragon and his crew, who are likewise decked out in black tees with white letters.
Other netizens have slammed 4Minute for "blatantly stealing" fellow girl group 2NE1's "concept".
2NE1 released their second studio album Crush in February last year.
Sharp-eyed 2NE1 fans immediately noticed that 4Minute's promotional material for Crazy - from their EP's symbols and fonts, to the girls' hip-hop attire - resemble 2NE1's closely, during the latter's promotional stint for Crush.
A 2NE1 stylist posted a curt remark on Facebook about 4Minute's teaser picture for their ballad Cold Rain: "It's like (2NE1's 2013 song) Missing You."
Coincidentally, 2NE1 and G-Dragon are signed to YG Entertainment, a rival talent agency of Cube Entertainment, which manages 4Minute.
Online fan opinion is, expectedly, divided, with some in the G-Dragon-2NE1 camp commenting that "Cube is trying too hard to copy other groups".
Meanwhile, supporters of 4Minute are arguing that the "gangsta concept" is not a YG privilege.
But the harshest accusation directed at the girls has come from Korean blogger Lineage135, who alleged that the K-pop stars had heavily lifted parts of another song Boss Mode, penned by Australian electronic music duo Knife Party.
"Crazy by 4Minute didn't simply steal sounds, (it) copied the progression of (Knife Party's) song, melody and even beats," he wrote.
But the whole matter was laid to rest, when Rob Swire, the DJ-producer of Boss Mode, came out on Twitter to deny any copying of Knife Party's number.
So far, neither 4Minute nor Cube Entertainment has responded to any of these accusations.
But there does not seem to be any bad blood between 4Minute and the other K-pop idols.
In a recent interview with London-based Dazed & Confused digital magazine, Gayoon said she would love to befriend her peers in the industry if given the opportunity.
"I want to get to know all of them," she said.
"All artistes go up on stage at the end of (Korean music) shows, and if I am close with everyone, it won't be awkward any more."
Also, plagiarism woes or not, the angst you see in their music videos is real.
The girls told US music site Noisey.com that there is no need for them to pretend to be feisty or aggressive, because it has always been a part of them.
"Our secret is: We're angry all the time, because we don't express our anger off the stage," explained Sohyun.
"We keep it all in and release our anger onstage, so we are able to kick off at a very high level of energy. No need to get pumped up."
To show the stronger and more intense sides of ourselves, we decided to give up on looking pretty.
- 4Minute's Gayoon