The world-class Wonder Girls


Ciara Whimbush

Established in 2007, the South Korean K-Pop girl group, Wonder Girls, created several iconic singles and albums which still continue to entertain both domestic and foreign audiences. By maintaining pop influences throughout their decade-long span, the group serves as a blueprint for musical acts of the modern day.

Ciara Whimbush, Reporter

While the early days of the musical genre occurred in the 1950s, Korean Pop (K-Pop) has found major success, visibility and notoriety across the globe from the 2010s to today. Several modern groups such as Red Velvet and Day6 harbor fanbases in various countries, with international appearances and tours as the norm for performers and bands. Amidst the mass amounts of the well-deserved acclaim the genre receives, one group in particular, both thanks to social media and their respective talents, witnessed an uptake in new fans and induced nostalgia in old ones; The Wonder Girls, best-known for their 2007 hit song, “Tell Me,” established a successful framework for girl groups in the early 2000s and 2010s. Although the group disbanded six years ago, its melodic legacy lives on as an electric example of pop perfection.  

The inception of Wonder Girls took place in K-Pop’s originating country, South Korea. At the time, the freshly minted group stood as the first all-girl gathering for record label JYP Entertainment after their debut in 2007. The first iteration of the Wonder Girls’ line-up featured five performers: Rapper and dancer Hyuna, vocalist Sohee, vocalist and dancer Sumni, vocalist Sunye and vocalist Yeeun. However, in February of their premiere year, Hyuna withdrew from Wonder Girls and later became replaced by rapper and vocalist Yubin. The second alteration to the arrangement occurred three years later, when Sumni exited from the ensemble, with rapper and vocalist Hyerim taking her place. In the final modifications to the unit before they separated, Sumni returned to the unit the same year that veteran members Sunye and Sohee departed in 2015. 

The chronology of Wonder Girls also featured a three-year hiatus from 2012-2015 to account for the group’s reshaping during that time. Despite the breaks and the series of revisions to the ensemble, the group still maintained its musical integrity. Through each new release, while different elements of genres appear, the ensemble sustained the presence of pop influences through their records.

As the genre’s title suggests, Wonder Girls featured several hallmarks of pop music within their songs through their memorable hooks and repetitive choruses. Consistently throughout their discography, the group masters this musical formula, creating bodies of work that own the ability to persistently captivate audiences. The Wonder Girls utilized the element of rap in their melodies which added a spark to their verses. For example, in their 2007 song, “Headache,” Yubin delivers a sharp verse that appreciably contrasts with the electro-pop beat. They also feature phrases in their lyrics in English, like their song, “Sweet and Easy,” released in 2016.

Wonder Girls and JYP entertainment

The implementation of English occurs in a number of their records, such as “Friend” and “Like This.” This trend carries on today within modern K-Pop songs, such as “Blue Hour” by Tomorrow x Tomorrow.  The group also released records completely in English, including “Tell Me (English Version).” While the Wonder Girls did not invent the addition of English into Korean pop, or any genre of international music for that matter, their unique utilization of the device allowed group members to deliver striking verses that last long in the minds of their fans. 

“My favorite aspect of Wonder Girls would be the adventurous music types and sounds they produce. Although the hit ‘Tell Me’ was not as adventurous as their whole discography, they venture out of the comfort of Korea’s music style during their time and explore new ways to express music with JYP [Entertainment]. I love how they are able to break the music barriers of Korea with new and interesting styles and are not afraid to venture out of Korea’s comfort zone, especially with K-Pop being fairly new and rising in Korea,” sophomore Yumi Chun said. 

Throughout their tenure, the Wonder Girls found success and acclaim with foreign and local audiences. The release of their first studio album, “The Wonder Years” met a humble reception after its release in September 2007, with sales landing at 83,391 KOR. During 2008 however, the group dipped their toes further into the pool of commercial success with the release of their single “Nobody” in September of that year. The tuneful song accompanied by its 60s-themed music video received a major slew of domestic popularity upon its release, and earned a spot on the Billboard Top 100 in 2009 at #76, the first K-Pop song to do so. The band received several accolades, such as  “Why So Lonely” winning Best Pop Song at the 2017 Korean Music Awards. Wonder Girls also found a brush with success overseas. In 2009, the girl group collaborated with The Jonas Brothers on their North American World Tour, as well as their own performance endeavors in the United States. With the release of their single “Like Money,” in 2012, the group joined forces with musical artist Akon.

Despite the group’s split in 2017, the Wonder Girls still manage to entertain audiences with their exciting music videos and their eccentric sound. With their timeless pop influences, the group produced hits that maintained their intrigue in the late 2000s and onward. Throughout the success of former members of the group in their respective musical and acting careers, the legacy of the enigmatic group remains long-lasting. 

“I’ve recently started to get into Wonder Girls, so I don’t know their whole discography. I became a fan through their song ‘[So] Hot’ after watching the boy group Vixx do a cover. My favorite aspect of their career would be their ‘Nobody,’ ‘Tell Me,’ era. The songs were just so iconic and simple, that it’s just a vibe. I’m also a huge fan of the member Sunmi’s solo career,” magnet junior Destine Lowery said.