For this week’s Flashback Friday, we revisit 2007 to explore KARA’s debut song “Break It” from their first album The First Blooming. When they debuted, KARA was a quartet made up of Park Gyuri, Jung Nicole, Kim Sunghee, and Han Seung-Yeon.
“Break It” is an R&B track that features KARA’s strong vocals and power. The song oozes female empowerment as KARA sing about a breakup and kicking the ex-boyfriend aside. There is no sense of regret or sadness; strength and standing tall are the themes. There are hints of bitterness since the lyrics indicate the ex has done some terrible things to be on the receiving end of such anger.
The lyrics don’t contain any flowery language, so there’s not a lot of complexity in “Break It.” Reading the lyrics,the song comes across as repetitive. In this case, however, the repetition is more helpful than hurtful since it mimics how angry people repeat their arguments while trying to get a point across.
Essentially, “Break It” is just a dance MV designed to showcase KARA’s abilities and introduce the group to the public. The dancing is good and matches the beat well, establishing KARA as a strong up-and-coming talent when they debuted.
There are moments in the MV that are worth paying attention to in terms of matching lyrics, though. For example, we see the love interest locked behind bars with KARA. This indicates that the girlfriend caught her boyfriend cheating with multiple women and that he locked himself in a prison of lies trying to keep his cheating ways under wraps. KARA then confront him about his lies while kicking him to the curb.
The debut song was accepted well by critics, but the general public didn’t like it. “Break It” caused many to look at KARA as a Fin.K.L copycat (both groups are under DSP Entertainment). They were compared to Fin.K.L based on appearance and style to which KARA deemed as an honor.
“Break It” recalls first generation K-Pop sounds, so it’s easy to see the Fin.K.L comparisons. First generation K-Pop through until the late 2000s had its own unique sound that makes it easy to recognize today. KARA emulated the sound well and made it their own, layering the sound with rich vocals. There are times where the song sounds like Britney Spears’ “Oops, I Did It Again” crept in, so there are some issues with originality. However, it is a good reminder of a decade gone by and some of K-Pop’s memorable strengths.
Looking at “Break It,” it’s amazing to see how much KARA has changed over the years, not just in member additions and subtractions, but musically as well. Today, they’re brighter with more cheerful songs and lighter concepts; it’s also evident how the Japanese market influenced their music. KARA’s sound is still unique to them, but at the same time, there’s something missing. It would be nice to hear some of KARA’s older sound again to help them surge into a top group once more.