T-ara has returned as a quartet for the first and last time, creating a bittersweet end to an unforgettable eight years. T-ara originally debuted with six members, including Jiyeon, Boram, Qri, Soyeon, Hyomin, and Eunjung. The group gained success in Korea due to the popularity of their song, “Bo Peep Bo Peep,” but it was “Roly Poly” that captured worldwide attention. “Roly Poly” skyrocketed T-ara to fame, with the group performing all over Asia, including Japan, Vietnam, and China. Though T-ara proved successful with six members, MBK Entertainment decided to switch things up with the lineup, which is when everything changed.
In 2012, MBK announced that Hwayoung (a.k.a. the “TroubleMaker”) would join T-ara permanently. It was an abrupt decision to many, especially since the group was already approaching their third year. Hwayoung made her debut with “Lovely Dovey,” which became popular due to its shuffling choreography. Then came the group’s infamous “bullying” controversy, spanning over three years (which is hard to believe). Long story short, the public was manipulated into believing that the six original members were bullying Hwayoung, with people singling out specific tweets made by the T-ara members as evidence of the group’s abuse. At the time, it was a pretty big thing, as T-ara had never been involved in such a scandal. Things became worse when Hwayoung “injured” her leg at a concert and could only perform one song, which earned apparent backlash from the members. To top things off, MBK decided to add two new members to the group during this tumultuous time, which honestly made no sense. Dani (who was 14 at the time) and Areum were added to the lineup, making T-ara a nine-membered group. T-ara released the song “Day By Day,” which didn’t do as well as they had hoped. Soon, Hwayoung “left” the group and, once again, things were up in the air.
T-ara suffered terribly, with their popularity decreasing along with their album sales. Many believed they must have bullied Hwayoung, as she had left the group. Fortunately, T-ara put on a brave face and continued to release music regardless of what people were saying. What should be noted is that, curiously, the members of T-ara never said anything bad about Hwayoung in any of their interviews. Later, T-ara released the song “Sexy Love” with Areum (with no Dani in sight), which received mixed reactions. As a result, MBK tried creating sub-units as a method of introducing Areum to the group’s fans, which worked only slightly. To make things worse, Areum abruptly left the group, surprising many. In the span of two years, T-ara went from nine to six members, with Dani still missing, which resulted in the group hitting their lowest point in Korea in terms of popularity and public perception.
The positive side of this scandal, however, is that T-ara focused heavily on Japanese and Chinese promotions. The group gained huge success abroad (bigger than most groups), which meant they could continue to promote in Asia. T-ara released the songs “Sugar Free” (a bop), “So Crazy,” and “Tiamo,” slowly gaining back the trust of their audience. However, another problem T-ara faced was that the group was taking long periods of time to make a comeback. T-ara wanted to focus on Korea, wanting to return with a better image, which fortunately happened this year. In February, Hwayoung appeared with her twin sister, Hyoyoung, on a TV show where she further discussed the hardships she experienced as a part of T-ara. The backlash from MBK staff following the twins’ appearance on the show revealed that Hwayoung and Hyoyoung were, in fact, bullying Areum, with Hwayoung also faking her injury and even threatening staff. Finally, the truth had come out (after a whopping three years), with the original members of T-ara receiving massive respect for how they had dealt with the situation. Now, that left T-ara back as six, but was their reputation repaired? And most importantly, were they ready to return stronger than ever?
Unfortunately, members Soyeon and Boram decided not to renew their contracts, with their last performance as part of T-ara taking place during the group’s final concert. T-ara has returned with Jiyeon, Eunjung, Hyomin, and Qri. The group’s new song, “What’s My Name?” is about breaking up with someone and realizing how happy you are after the relationship. It discusses how being in that relationship has made you forget who you are, hence the title “What’s My Name?” Though the lyrics are on the upsetting side, the song itself has a club-like feel to it, with a more uplifting beat. Many are interpreting the song in different ways, such as it being a metaphor for Boram and Soyeon’s departure or simply a depiction of a realistic break up. Either way, it’s a song that will keep you dancing and reminiscing of old times. The music video shows the members each having a bottle with a scroll in it, with two separate bottles left on their own (referencing Boram and Soyeon).
Though the past years have had their fair share of highs and lows, T-ara has continued to showcase a positive and mature side while handling the worst. Through member changes and controversies, the original six members have continued to support one another. T-ara has also released countless songs that will undoubtedly be considered legendary in the years to come, as they are now. T-ara will certainly make it into the history books.