With leader Soyeon at the helm (and members Minnie and Yuqi as blossoming producers in their own right), (G)I-DLE have stood proud since their 2018 as one of the few fully self-producing girl groups in K-pop. They’ve also become known for their bold lyricism and pushing the boundaries with each release, as they venture where many of their peers will not, from the not-so-subtly sapphic ‘Oh My God’ to the cutting commentary of ‘Nxde’.
Despite a year-long hiatus after original member Soojin left the group in 2021, the quintet came back with a vengeance last year on ‘Tomboy’, proving that they can truly never die. In celebration of their fifth anniversary as a group and ahead of their new mini-album ‘I Feel’, here are 10 of (G)I-DLE’s best songs to date.
‘Oh My God’ (2020)
Opening with haunting, eerie church bells, the atmospheric ‘Oh My God’ is perhaps one of (G)I-DLE’s more unconventional title tracks. The verses are effortlessly sultry, followed by a galvanising build-up as their emotions come to a head before it all crashes down. “Oh my god / She took me to the sky,” the chorus echoes, as they finally give in to temptation.
‘Villain Dies’ (2022)
Reminiscent of a noir film, ‘Villain Dies’ is (G)I-DLE at their darkest and most unapologetic, declaring that they’d rather die a villain than concede defeat in a game of love. After all, isn’t it always the villain who drives the plot?
Debuting with a tropical-pop single at the height of K-pop’s tropical craze was a pretty risky move. But while countless others have faded into the background, (G)I-DLE managed to make their mark from day one with one of the biggest earworms of 2018. Perhaps it was Soyeon’s edgy charisma or Yuqi’s jarring (but charming) low tone that made it stand out. Either way, ‘LATATA’ remains one of the most polished, confident K-pop debuts to date.
Enchanting moombahton beats skip through the lovesick ‘Dahlia’, offering a hopeful conclusion to their sorrowful 2021 mini-album ‘I Burn’ as they find themselves infatuated all over again. Produced by Minnie, this fan favourite track borrows from the moody charms of the rest of the record in its verses, before blossoming into a heart-fluttering chorus that swells with the dangerous thrill of choosing to fall in love again.
Channelling laidback ’90s hip-hop, ‘Uh-Oh’ is a lighthearted break from (G)I-DLE’s usual intensity. Still dripping with attitude, the girl group stay unbothered as they brush off the haters disguised as friends, nonchalantly calling out their lies and backhanded compliments as they coolly draw the line: “Don’t expect me to do something for you.”
‘Put It Straight’ (2019)
While (G)I-DLE are not particularly known for their ballads, the beautifully poignant ‘Put It Straight’ is definitely one worth talking about. From moody, restrained verses blooms a catharsis in the chorus by Minnie and Miyeon. And as simple as their repeated cries of “it hurts” are, the song’s rawness perfectly drives home the helpless, inconsolable agony of watching a once-great love fall away like sand between your fingertips.
Another artfully produced track by Minnie, the bouncy jazz–pop of ‘Sculpture’ is a bittersweet ode to navigating romance as a woman, constantly contorting oneself to feel worthy of receiving love. “Even if there are cracks in my sculpted body / Yeah, I think it’s easier to lose me than to lose you,” Miyeon confesses in the track, which contains some of (G)I-DLE’s most vulnerable, honest lyrics to date.
As spellbindingly beautiful as the celestial body it’s titled after, the bewitching ‘Moon’ only gets better with every listen. This mid-tempo number is deceptively groovy, while its sorrowful lyrics plead desperately with the moon to stop shining – if only for a moment – out of a desire to hide in the darkness and lick one’s wounds. It’s painfully honest, exquisitely capturing the post-heartbreak yearning to be left alone as Soyeon closes out the track with a resigned sigh: “A bright, moonlit night / I can’t even cry”.
Visceral and intense, the girl group re-imagine themselves as untamable beasts in their Queendom finale song, forcefully demanding the attention of their listeners as they promise to “destroy the boring rhythm and devote a lion’s dance”. Ruthlessly cutting rap verses and fierce belts lend ‘Lion’ most of its power, while dynamic buildups drape its atmosphere with a commanding grandeur.
Although (G)I-DLE have always been a force to be reckoned with, ‘Lion’ marked a major turning point in their careers, in which they made the transformation from promising rookies to true masters of their craft.
On top of being (G)I-DLE’s most cohesive record to date, ‘I Burn’ also boasts some of their greatest tracks, as evidenced in its overwhelming presence in this list. It’s no surprise then, that its title track takes the crown as the group’s best song so far.
The haunting, ethereal ‘HWAA’ taps into the dreaminess of 2018’s ‘HANN’, only more polished and intentionally crafted than before. Familiar moombahton beats dance between delicate plucks of traditional Korean instruments, imbuing the track with a melancholic, orchestral quality, yet never losing momentum.
Lyrically, one might consider this Soyeon’s magnum opus. The title itself plays on the Chinese characters of ‘火’ (‘Fire’) and ‘花’ (‘Flower’), both pronounced ‘Hwa’ in Korean. Meanwhile, its lyrics are written in a more traditional form of the language, lending a great deal of atmosphere to those who can understand Korean. Though much of this is lost in translation, the regal, poetic quality of ‘HWAA’ still pierces through and remains with listeners long after the song ends – a testament to Soyeon’s masterful abilities.