FINALLY, I get to write about a girl group again! Nothing against boy groups, but I feel like I’ve been covering so many of them lately. And I normally listen to an even mix of both, so I’ve been feeling rather out of balance for a while. Thankfully, PURPLE KISS has provided me with something new to fixate on. They’re the latest girl group to debut from RBW Entertainment, the agency most known for creating MAMAMOO. I felt like I’d been hearing about RBW’s plans to launch another girl group for a couple of years, so this was one debut announcement that definitely caught my attention. By the way, it’s worth noting that PURPLE KISS has released two pre-release tracks; however, I didn’t watch or listen to either yet so I could experience their debut with a completely fresh perspective.
I was interested to see if RBW would have PURPLE KISS follow in the footsteps of MAMAMOO, who are truly the “cool girls of K-pop” over here in South Korea. But based on “Ponzoña,” I honestly probably wouldn’t have been able to guess they were from the same company. And I see this as a good thing, because so many agencies tend to use their new girl groups to eventually phase out their older more established ones. The strongest similarity I found was that both groups have the same strong emphasis on vocals, and it does sound like they share the same singing techniques. Since MAMAMOO is considered a strong vocal group, it’s definitely a plus that PURPLE KISS is following suit in this regard. And I guess one could say PURPLE KISS is also going for a “cool girl” look, albeit with a different vibe. However, their dark and glamorous debut definitely sets them apart thematically – from both their seniors and a lot of other girl groups.
Truthfully, I’m really impressed by “Ponzoña.” I’d seen some teaser images beforehand, so I was anticipating something that had a girl crush or charismatic vibe. Though it’s definitely somewhere in that zone, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t a foot-stomping power anthem like I was expecting. For the record, I do love those kinds of songs and I would have been perfectly happy had PURPLE KISS gone that route. And “Ponzoña” does have a dance break with that kind of fierce energy I love. But overall, it’s more of an R&B song mixed with jazzy undertones of violin and piano. It’s dreamy yet mysterious, addictive and appealing. It somehow manages to be demure in some places and yet alluring in others. It’s also surprisingly elegant and mature for a group that’s so young and just starting out. (Not saying that young people can’t be mature – I’m just so used to rookies doing sugary sweet songs or energetic dance bops.) This sound is territory that’s relatively unexplored for girl groups, and definitely something that I could get used to hearing more of in K-pop.
Visually, I feel everything is pretty on point. RBW has definitely invested in PURPLE KISS’s dance skills, and I found myself totally absorbed in the choreography – ESPECIALLY that killer dance break. And the aesthetics of the music video really appealed to my personal tastes. I assume they won’t always make everything as purple as their name, but they picked some really beautiful shades that gave the music video a mysterious and majestic vibe. And I loved the whole dark glam look; it really suited them. I’m not going to pretend I understood everything that was happening, but I was very into the occult vibes and imagery. It’s also worth noting that “ponzoña” means “poison” in Spanish, so it was quite cool to see the references to spiders and Medusa. (I haven’t checked out an English translation yet, but I’m really interested to see how “poison” is manifested in the lyrics of the song.)
Side Note: When I first watched the music video, my attention kept going to the girl with the dark purple hair (the one who was in the center a lot), because she was just totally killing it. She looked super familiar to me, so I did some poking around and realized she’s Na Goeun from Produce 48. I’m so shocked because I watched that show and I remembered she was a talented vocalist – she made it into the Top 30 – but I had no idea she could dance like that! She’s definitely worked hard and glowed up between that show and now. I’m very impressed by all the members, but I just wanted to give her a special shoutout.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
Perhaps it’s because PURPLE KISS has a couple of pre-releases under their belt, but “Ponzoña” doesn’t feel like a group’s first official single to me. It does have an ambitious energy that’s characteristic of rookies, but it’s not that common to see a debut with such a solid concept that’s so well-executed through the song, the dance, AND the music video. This may not be the image PURPLE KISS stays with forever, but “Ponzoña” clearly shows me who they are now and who they want to be for the time being. The older I get, the more adamant I am about not picking up any rookie groups… but it looks like I might have to make PURPLE KISS one of this year’s few exceptions. I’ll wait at least another comeback to decide since rookies usually need a couple promotion cycles to find their footing – but in my opinion, so far so good.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Music video and featured image belong to RBW Entertainment.