For foreigners, 2009 was one of the better K-Pop years. With debuts by After School, 2NE1, 4Minute, T-ara, f(x), BEAST, Secret, MBLAQ, and Rainbow, it was a year to remember for these fandoms. Unfortunately, there were groups that didn’t survive the debut wave even though they had potential.
Lee Yeon Entertainment debuted Heart and Mind (HAM) September 23, 2009 with the song “T.T. Dance.” The then four-member group was made up of leader Miyu, Gayeon, Hyoni, and Sujin. Prior to “T.T Dance’s” release, the girls were introduced and their training documented on the Mnet show Hello, We Are New Group HAM.
HAM’s “T.T. Dance,” which is powerful and catchy, served as a nice introduction to the group; listening to it now perfectly captured the sound of the year with strong, impressive vocals and dance-heavy beats. HAM promoted “T.T. Dance” for two months with moderate success, but not enough to propel them into the spotlight. Shortly after “T.T. Dance,” the group promoted “Dugeun Dugeun,” which was cutesy song, but didn’t capture the power of their first song.
Part of HAM’s issue was when they debuted: Groups like T-ara, 2ne1, and 4Minute caught more attention domestically and internationally due to stronger promotions and debut songs. Furthermore, HAM came from a smaller company. Another issue lied in how 2009 was saturated in female group debuts. Naturally, some groups would get lost.
HAM did have a Korean single for the World Cup in 2010 called “We Are One,” and they also had an opportunity to do a promotional song titled “Alpensia” for a Korean ski resort, so some did recognize their talent.
Another issue that hampered HAM was how their company opted to promote in Japan. For larger groups with established fanbases, promoting in Japan isn’t a problem. But when a group hasn’t had enough time to gain ground in one market, then it’s a bad idea.
While in Japan, HAM had a TV show, a single, and a few concerts, but they didn’t earn enough status.Throw in a long hiatus in Korea and not enough promotions, and a recipe for disaster ensues.
HAM returned to the Korean market in October 2010 sans leader Miyu, who left the group. The now-trio released “So Sexy,” which was a strong single but lacked the vocal depth of “T.T. Dance,” “Dugeun Dugeun,” and “We Are One.” Besides the awkward high notes affecting the song, broadcasting stations took issue with the song’s dance and content, limiting “So Sexy’s” airplay. With little promotion and an already diminished fanbase, HAM’s days in Korea were numbered.
Lee Yeon Entertainment sent HAM back to Japan for more promotions prior to trying to break into the Chinese market. Both attempts did not yield success.
In February 2011, HAM made one more attempt at the Korean market with “Lower Your Sight.” The song earned praise and moderate success, but it was the last time they were heard from again. While there wasn’t an official announcement, HAM disbanded in 2012. Sujin later redebuted as a member of BBde Girl; they haven’t been active since 2013 and are rumored to have also disbanded.
HAM may have been successful if it wasn’t for poor promotions and missteps by their company. Then again, there were many strong groups that debuted in 2009 that are still around today. HAM had the vocals, but sometimes that isn’t enough to stand out. It was nice knowing you, HAM. We’re sad to see you disappear into K-Pop history.