Random Shuffle Review: T-ara – What’s Wrong?

With over 2,600 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.

The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!

Year Released: 2010

T-ara really were one of a kind. Their early work established so many of the norms we now expect from modern K-pop girl groups, and that legacy kicked off in 2009. The group released no less than nine (!) singles during the first two years of their career, most of which are included in the epic Absolute First Album/Breaking Heart Repackage. What’s Wrong (왜 이러니) was taken from their first mini album, paired with the more adventurous YaYaYa. It was also their first single with newly-added member Hwayoung (certainly not the only line-up change that T-ara would experience!).

For those more familiar with T-ara’s “hook” songs like Bo Peep Bo Peep and Roly-Poly, What’s Wrong may first come off as somewhat forgettable. Its chorus is a tenacious little earworm, but not as single-minded as some of the group’s work. My favorite aspect of the track is actually its instrumental, which blends 80’s synths with a meaty dose of filtered guitar. The central riff has always reminded me of spaghetti western soundtracks, though I doubt that was the cultural touchstone the producers were aiming for.

Refreshingly, every element in What’s Wrong’s catchy brew is working towards the same goal — circling around the same melodic hook. This sense of musical continuity is harder to find these days, but imbues the track with a natural flow that helps to build momentum. When the instrumental (and tempo!) switches up for the breathless bridge, it works particularly well thanks to the cohesion of everything that came before it.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.75



6 thoughts on “Random Shuffle Review: T-ara – What’s Wrong?

  1. I hadn’t heard this song before, only the main T-ara singles from back when.

    Its a very solid pop song, not overambitious, actual musical hooks not just beeps and boops as the hook. I am speculating here but it sounds like the song was written straight through by someone with an instrument such as a piano or guitar, and not crafted on a computer program with samples and snippets.

    The rhythm change break at about 2:50 is killer fantastic. They don’t do bpm changes much recently in kpop like they experimented with in the mid 2nd gen not too long ago. And I miss that dearly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are a few groups that stir sadness when they pop up in my mind. T-ara, Ladies’ Code, et al. All groups have difficulties, but some.. ..have really been through the wringer. Okay.. ..sad panda face off.

    T-ARA! Iconic. Indelible. Idiosyncratic. Incredible. When I first entered the K-pop scene, I was initially drawn to the pastel-tinted candy shoppe side of the genre, but I never stayed completely on that side of the street. When two “Flower Paths” diverge in a glade, I’ll always have a soft spot for groups that take the one less traveled by because “they’ll” be the ones making all the difference.

    Every group tries/fails/succeeds to have a unique identity, but very few leave a “legacy” level impression. While I will forever stan bygone groups like Secret, Rainbow, 4minute, etc., there were only a few that really set themselves apart (for me anyways).

    T-ara was one. Brown Eyed Girls was another. I could keep naming groups, but this is where my list will conflict with yours; so let’s not make this post about that.

    Suffice to say, T-ara “IS” K-pop.


    • Dude, same. While many of my favorite groups are second gen/disbanded/on indefinite hiatus, I absolutely worship T-ara’s legacy above most everything. Absolutely iconic.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wae Ireoni is such a classic. You know how when you reviewed the Infinite discography and had an inordinate amount of 10s? That’s how I feel about T-ara’s singles run; it’s just absolutely fantastic. Imo this is one of their best, and it’s not every day that you get an instrumental that’s equally as catchy as the vocal line itself. As an aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Spaghetti Western” was exactly what they were going for in that guitar riff, because that sort of style pops up elsewhere in their discography.


  4. This is my favorite T-ara song. It has a retro sound whose era I can’t pin down for some reason. It has the classic melodic catchy vibes you feel a pop song should have. I wonder why it’s not more popular; even the old video uploads don’t have that many views.


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