WGHistory

History

Debut

Wonder Girls performing “Irony” at Hanyang University in May 2007. From left to right: So Hee, Hyeona, Ye Eun, Sun Ye and Sun Mi.

As a group, the Wonder Girls were introduced through the program called MTV Wonder Girls which was filmed and directed by MTV. The first four episodes outlined the characteristics and profiles of each member and showcased their schedules for the day. Not long after selecting Ye Eun as the fifth member, the Wonder Girls had their showcase in the MTV Studio. In the showcase, they performed a cover of “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls and their own songs, such as “Irony” and “미안한 마음” (“A Sorry Heart“). Sun Ye did the solo by singing Destiny’s Child‘s “Stand Up for Love” while Hyun-a showed off her dancing skills with a solo dance. The other three members — Ye Eun, Sun Mi and So Hee — performed a cover of Janet Jackson‘s “Together Again“.

The Wonder Girls officially debuted in early 2007 on MBC‘s 쇼! 음악 중심 (“Show! Music Core“), singing “Irony”, the hip-hop single from their debut mini-album, The Wonder Begins. The mini-album sold 11,454 copies in 2007.[7] The Wonder Girls official fanclub was established, with the name of “Wonderful”.

Throughout the rest of 2007, however, members of the Wonder Girls were beset by various injuries and health problems. On June 25, Sohee was sidelined for a month after tearing a knee ligament falling off a motorcycle during the filming of 뜨거운 것이 좋아 (“I Like It Hot“).[8] The remaining four members continued performing until late July, when Hyuna was removed from the group by her parents due to their concern over her health—in particular, chronic gastroenteritis and fainting spells.[3]

Rise to popularity

Wonder Girls performing “Tell Me” at Halla University

In the autumn of 2007, Good Entertainment, the talent agency sent their trainee Yubin to JYP Entertainment as a replacement for Hyuna. She made her debut three days later in the group’s live performance of “Tell Me” on Music Bank .[9]

Their first full-length album, The Wonder Years, was released the following week with “Tell Me.” Due to the last-minute addition of Yubin, the album version does not contain her part. However, the performance version of the song was reworked to include a bridge with rapping by Yubin. The single was a hit and reached number one on various Korean television and internet music charts, including KBS‘s Music Bank.[citation needed]

The choreography for the song was simple and widely imitated: by October, many fan performances of the dance circulated on video sharing sites such as YouTube and Daum,[10], including one by a group of policemen who were eventually profiled on SBS‘s Star King. The dance became so popular it was known as the “Tell Me Virus” and earned them the title of ‘Korea’s Little Sisters’.[citation needed] Videos of the dance came from fans in France and the Philippines, and the song also went to Number 1 in Thailand.[3]

The Wonder Girls had an extensive promotional schedule for their album and in late 2007 they began performing the second single from the album, “이 바보” (“You Fool”). They made numerous appearances on variety and game shows, sang live on radio, at music festivals, on music shows, and in special joint performances with other groups such as Big Bang. MTV has also aired three seasons of The Wonder Life, a reality TV series starring the girls.

2008: More singles & continued popularity

Wonder Girls performing “So Hot” at the M Super Concert in June 2008.

The Wonder Girls returned to Korea in spring of 2008. In May a picture of each member was released over five days starting with Ye-eun and ending with Sohee. A preview track from the upcoming single was then released. There were rumours that past member Hyuna would be returning to the group; JYP Entertainment confirmed that this was not the case.[11]

Their new single, “So Hot“, was released on May 22, 2008; the song topped online charts soon after.[12][13] They then performed in mid-2008 on MBC‘s Music Core, performing “So Hot” and “This Time”. The full single was released soon after containing the title track, the rap version of “Tell Me“, “This Time”, and “You’re Out”. Due to vocal cord problems, Yubin temporarily lip-synched her parts under doctor’s orders[13].

Wonder Girls performing “Nobody” at the 2008 BICHE opening ceremony in October.

The full music video for “Nobody” was released in the early autumn of 2008, and the single was digitally released at the same time. They performed the following weekend on Music Core, Music Bank, and Inkigayo. The song went to #1 on KBSMusic Bank, staying there for four consecutive weeks,[14] and also won Cyworld‘s “Song of the Month” award in September and October 2008.[15] Like “Tell Me”, “Nobody” also sparked a dance craze.[16]

At the 2008 MNet KM Music Festival Awards, the Wonder Girls won three awards, including “Song of the Year” and “Best Music Video” for “Nobody”, and “Best Female Group”.[6] The group also won an award at the 2008 Golden Disk Awards for high digital sales.[17] At the 18th Seoul Music Awards, the Wonder Girls won the Daesang (“Artist of the Year” award) for “Nobody”, along two other awards.[5]

Overseas promotional activities

Wonder Girls at a May 2008 fan meeting in Bangkok.

The Wonder Girls have had several showcases in China shortly after their debut in 2007 and have been receiving Chinese language lessons.[18]

In February 2008, the Wonder Girls joined their producer Park Jin-young for his month-long concert tour through Korea and the United States (including New York City and Los Angeles) as special guests, and took the opportunity to film the music video for “Wishing on a Star” while in New York City.[19] Park had stated that the concerts were also meant to be a showcase for his other protégés, such as Min, G-Soul, and Lim Jeong Hee.[20]

In September 2008, the Wonder Girls was selected as a top girl group by Virgin Media, which put them amidst girl groups such as the Pussycat Dolls, Girls Aloud, and Danity Kane.[21] At the end of 2008 the Wonder Girls had earned 12 billion (equivalent to $9 million US) as a group.[22]

2009: International tour and American debut

The Wonder Girls tour started on February 28, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. The Wonder Girls, along with mentor JYP, then held concerts in the United States, visiting Los Angeles on March 5, La Mirada on March 6, and New York City on March 8.[23] They also performed for a small crowd at MTV Iggy on March 10. The group then returned to South Korea, holding concerts in late March in Seoul and Pusan.[24] After the end of the tour, the Wonder Girls debuted a music video for “Now”, a cover of Fin.K.L‘s single from their third album. Created for a commercial for LG, a version featuring only the dance was released online on April 9, 2009.[25]

Wonder Girls started their official MySpace Music account.[4] The page confirmed that the group would launch in the United States with the official release of an English version of “Nobody” sometime this summer.

In June 2009, JYP Entertainment announced that the Wonder Girls would be joining the Jonas Brothers on the North American leg of the Jonas Brothers World Tour 2009.[26] The company also announced that “Nobody” would be the first English single, followed by “Tell Me“,[26] and that an English album would be forthcoming.[27] It was later revealed that in order to concentrate on their American debut, both So-hee and Sun-mi dropped out of high school as it was not possible to attend while in the United States.[28][29]

The Wonder Girls released an English version of their single “Nobody” on June 26, 2009, just one day before the start of their tour with the Jonas Brothers.

The Wonder Girls were intially signed on for 13 concert dates across the US, but due to unexpected circumstances during one of the concerts and the Girls’ witty handling of the situation (they taught the ‘Nobody’ dance, unscripted and unrehearsed, in English to use up time), they were given the opportunity to join the Jonas Brothers for a total of 45 concert dates.[30]

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