Nugu Roundup #64 - Give me a HINT

Hello and welcome to the latest Nugu Roundup!

What is this?: This is a weekly feature designed to highlight the unknown/underappreciated groups and soloists working hard in the Kpop world that often fall under the radar. Please share your own information, favorite performance videos, fanmeet stories, or anything else relevant below!

Last week we got to know the persevering guys of KNK . This week let’s check out a girl group who’s roots go back past a rebrand and who recently released a new single, let’s get to know HINT!

Look at the first comment below for the winner of the eighteenth Nugu Roundup Album Giveaway, plus details on this week’s album up for grabs!

What is Nugu?: While in Korean it literally means ‘Who’ in the broader Kpop context it refers to groups that are generally unknown amongst the greater public. It doesn’t have to mean they’re extremely new, though it can, and there are of course varying degrees of ‘unknown’ which some groups having very strong niche fandoms and others being almost invisible. I take a fairly broad view and will include groups that may be known to some, but who don’t have widespread name recognition.

Let’s get on with the show…

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HINT

Who are they?: HINT is a five member girl group under Swan Media Entertainment (Formerly StarPro Entertainment). While HINT officially debuted in 2017 the groups roots go back to 2013 when several members originally debuted under the same company in a group called TURAN. Their name comes from “When people think about which girl group to be a fan of, we want our name to be a hint in the right direction” and also “When people face a problem, we want to be that light in the darkness that helps people out”. Their fandom name is Answer.

Company: HINT appears to be the only group under Swan Media Entertainment. It’s unclear if Swan Media is a renaming of StarPro Entertainment or if the old agency folded and the group was picked up by a new company (StarPro’s website no longer appears to work).

Members

  • Hyejin

    • Position: Leader, Lead Vocalist

    • Real Name: Lee Hyejin

    • Age: 28 (IA)

    • Self Introduction

    • Facts: She was a member of Turan, joining after debut for their second release. She won many singing competitions as a child. She is very proud of her smile and thinks it’s her best feature. She loves cooking and finding new restaurants, but especially loves cafes and bakeries. She has the most experience in the group. She was featured in the song Daily (MV) by Bubble X. She recently appeared in the web drama “Nice to Meet You” and has received CF deals for a cosmetics company. She is the most interested in fashion in the group. She likes to ride the bicycle.

  • Arra

    • Position: Lead Vocalist

    • Real Name: Choi Arra

    • Age: 27 (IA)

    • Self Introduction

    • Facts: She debuted as a member of HINT as a new member for the reboot. She is a graduate of Dongduk Women’s University. She says that while many people look at her and think she’s unathletic she played tennis in school and works hard to have a healthy lifestyle. She can play the saxophone and piano. She enjoys puzzles and board games and likes to paint and draw. She lived in Vancouver, Canada for ten years and learned English there. Her English name is Irene.

  • Nael

    • Position: Main Rapper, Main Dancer, Maknae

    • Real Name: Lee Yejin

    • Age: 26 (IA)

    • Self Introduction

    • Facts: She is a former member of Turan, having joined in 2016. She was previously a backup dancer for various idol groups and Son Dambi. She is good at freestyle dancing. She loves pork belly and could eat it every day, and even wants to make a perfume that smells like it. She loves the summer most out of all seasons. She thinks her lips are her best feature.

  • Cherry

    • Position: Main Vocalist

    • Real Name: Park Jungah

    • Age: Unrevealed but is the oldest in the group

    • Self Introduction

    • Facts: She is a former member of Turan, having joined in 2016. She picked her stage name because she’s “sweet and fresh” like a cherry and also because cherries are her favorite fruit. She’s a huge fan of Shinhwa and a member of their official fan-club Shinhwa Changjo. She’s been to many Shinhwa concerts and say they’re her role models. Her bias in the group is Kim Dong-wan. She is very good at doing impressions of other singers and rappers. She is a former member of the trot duo Foxes (Run MV). During the filming of HINT’s first MV TangTangTang she lost one of her ties so the company’s CEO made her a new one on the spot from scraps of fabric they had leftover.

  • Haesol

    • Position: Lead Dancer, Vocalist

    • Real Name: Unrevealed

    • Age: Unrevealed

    • Self Introduction

    • Facts: She is a former member of Turan, having joined in 2016. She can do animal impressions. She is very athletic and competed in track and field events in school. She is the most talkative member in the group and says she brings positive energy to the group. She is the naggiest member in the dorms. The group members say she’s the one in the group who was the best at the sexy concept with their recent comeback.

Debut: March 31st, 2017 with Tang Tang Tang (MV) Live Stage (Link) Dance Practice (Link)

  • Song: With a throwback jazzy feel meeting trot elements, the group’s debut digital single staked out a unique sound. According to the group the song was designed to be easy to sing along to and to have an ear-worm chorus. It’s about expressing love. A beautiful bridge by Cherry really elevates the song, and Nael stands out as quite a strong rapper especially for a small company debut song.

  • Composers/Producers: Cho Young-Soo (조영수) (Solar & Kassy – A Song From the Past, G-Reyish – Candy, Jo Jung Min – Be My Theresa)

First Comeback: January 3rd, 2018 with Walkie Talkie (MV) Live Stage (Link) Dance Practice (Link)

  • Song: The title track from the group’s first EP “Walkie-Talkie” this upbeat dance-pop tune with tropical house elements has playful lyrics that encourage the listener to get out of their room and go outside to play if they’re bored, likening staying in all of the time as turning into a cow.

  • Composers/Producers: Kwon Do Yoon (권도윤) (Yanse – Color Vampire, Mirim – Goodbye, Marge – Exotic Night), TAQ (HINT – Girls on Top, HINT – Love Beat), Kafu (no additional credits)

Second Comeback: March 7th, 2018 with Pang Pang Pang (Performance Video) Live Stage (Link)

  • Song: A special digital single, this is a re-recorded version of their b-side track “Love Beat” from their previous EP. With a driving electronic dance beat it’s a fun and upbeat song with a sassy and flirtatious dance.

  • Composers/Producers: TAQ (see above), Kwon Do Yoon (see above), Kafu (see above)

Most Recent Comeback: October 14th, 2020 with Eh-Oh (MV) Live Stage (Link)

  • Song: The group’s second digital single, following an over-two-year hiatus, this was from their digital single album “EH-OH The Red Thread of Fate”. This marked a departure from their previous cute and bubbly style towards a sexier and more mature style, which the group members say that they lobbied for their company to let them do. With sultry vocals and a Latin-inspired instrumental, this song tells the story of a man and woman tied together by a string of fate who must always end up together even if they try to move to other people.

  • Composers/Producers: Urban Hz (K-Girls – Not Bad, AxisB – Be My Love, Little Cheer Girl – Lucky Star), Kid Pool (Lovo Verdi – Nocturne, Little Cheer Girl – We are LCG)

  • Trivia: This was the group’s first release as a five member group. During the hiatus between their previous release one and this one member Sogeum left the group and the industry, and member ByulA left the group and reduted with girl group My Darling as UByeol.

Debut as TURAN: July 10th, 2013 with Bang Bang Bang (MV) Live Performance (Link)

  • Song: From their debut single album “Shotgun” this song is an interesting mix of middle-eastern and latin styles combined with a bit of a dance club beat and some intriguing modal things happening in the accompaniment.

  • Composers/Producers: Bean Sprout Shop (콩나물가게) (A.I.N – Candy Girl)

  • Trivia: Following this release Turan released an EP called “Mystery Member” with a title track of the same name, however it was not promoted and I can’t seem to find any recording or performance of it online, if anyone has a link, please share!

YouTube Channel: HINT Official

Random Stuff

Trivia: The group’s long hiatus was due to COVID and working to change their concept according to the group. The group members all went to the bath house together and scrubbed each other to build camaraderie and make their skin beautiful before their most recent comeback. Cherry and Hyejin each have their own rooms in the dorms as the leader and oldest members, Arra and Haesol were originally roomates but Arra likes to play computer games late at night and keep the room dark so she moved into the living room as a courtesy to Haesol so now Haesol and Nael live together. Arra is very good at League of Legends and likes playing the support role. The group is now planning an online Untact Concert.

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SOLOIST OF THE WEEK

AIVAN

Who is he?: A male soloist under Evermore Music. He began his career doing covers on YouTube before beginning to catch on with original music in Japan and then returning to Korea.

Company: Evermore Music represents vocal-focused boy group Voisper, K-Rock bands Bursters and Hello Stranger, and Jazz Trio SLK in addition to Aivan.

Real Name: Lee Yohan

Age: 28 (IA)

Korean Debut: July 5th, 2018 with Tell The World (MV) Live Performance (Link)

  • Song: His Korean debut digital single, he describes this song as “Soul Pop”. With soothing vocals and a light Pop R&B style it’s a relaxing listen that still has some personality.

  • Composers/Producers: Eskiimo (Gruzio – Deep, Navi – Rose, KISSES – By My Side), AIVAN (original artist)

First Comeback: August 9th, 2019 with Curious (MV) Live Stage (Link)

  • Song: A melancholic intro blends into a retro synth-rock ballad in the title track from Aivan’s first EP “Curiosity”. The song is about the curiosity one feels when seeing someone whose beauty captivates you and wanting to know more about them.

  • Composers/Producers: AIVAN (original artist), Dongil Park (no other credits), Choi Garam (Taekwon Lee – Because a Day is like a Year)

Second Comeback: October 23rd, 2019 with Knotted Wings (MV) Live Stage (Link) English Version (Link)

  • Song: A dreamy pop-rock song, this was a digital single release. With expanded instrumentation including organ and synth strings and brass, a full instrumental track gives the song momentum. The song is about opening up about yourself, using the imagery of un-knotting a pair of wings to gradually showing more and more of your true self as you gain confidence to show the world who you really are.

  • Composers/Producers: AIVAN (original artist)

Third Comeback: March 13th, 2020 with Pointless (MV)

  • Song: Aivan says that when he was 17 years old he was working on writing a song and late at night during the winter with the light of a single bulb a combination of a lyric and chord filled him with a bitter emptiness, which quickly flowed into what became the origins of this song.

  • Composers/Producers: AIVAN (original artist)

Most Recent Comeback: May 7th, 2020 with Spring Spell (MV) Special Version MV (Link)

  • Song: Another digital single, and a light pop rock song with some great acoustic guitar backtracking and just a hint of Hammond Organ to really sell that breezy melancholic mood in this song about longing for love with an adorable MV.

  • Composers/Producers: AIVAN (original artist)

YouTube Channel: AIVAN Official

Random Stuff

Trivia: He is originally from Seoul but grew up in Montreal, Canada as well as living in England and the Philippines. He can play the guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards. He was an intern with CNN Korea in their Foreign Media department. He is a member of MENSA Korea with a high IQ of 156. He has a Master’s Degree in Communications from Yonsei University.

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IN MEMORIAM

MASC

Who were they?: MASC was a 4-8 member boy group under J Planet Entertainment (home of new girl group LUNARSOLAR and soloist NC.A). Their name stood for ‘Masculine’ and their fandom was MaBling.

Debut: August 19th, 2016 with Strange (MV) Live Stage (Link)

  • Song: The lead single from the group’s debut EP “Strange” this tells the story of two lovers who have suddenly broken up and the strange feelings that come from the sudden loss. With a strong chorus and fun drum riffs plus some nice brass and guitar in the accompaniment this stands out as a particularly solid debut song.

  • Composers/Producers: Park Woosang (Mamamoo – Dingga, Rothy – Bee, BVNDIT – Children, plus many many more), Kimmacho (Mamamoo – Dab Dab, RB Code Free – Sora)

First Comeback: February 4th, 2017 with Tina (MV) Live Stage (Link) Dance Practice (Link)

  • Song: With a throwback ’90s R&B/hip-hop instrumental hinting at New Jack Swing combined with some electric guitar rock elements this song merges the retro and modern in a fun and unique way for the group’s first comeback and first digital single. The song is about being played and knowing it while not wanting to give up on a lover.

  • Composers/Producers: Park Woosang (see above)

Second Comeback: October 12th, 2017 with Do It (MV) Live Stage (Link)

  • Song: The group’s second digital single it’s described by the company as “an old school up-tempo song with a manly message”. Incorporating some retro-funk elements with a bit of ’80s synth pop (reinforced by some Michael Jackson influenced scenes in the MV) this is a fun high energy song that again expertly combines the retro with the modern. One can see some influence from Block B’s hit Her in the visual elements and overall sound.

  • Composers/Producers: KZ (Dahye – Bad Blood, LUNARSOLAR – OH YA YA YA, Stray Kids – I Am You), Down (전다운) (IN2IT – Run Away, OneWe – Reminisce About All, Basick – Nice), Crazy Emotion (미친감성) (MAP6 – Follow Me, HALO – Feel So Good, Sunny Hill – Here I Am)

  • Trivia: The group added four additional members for this comeback.

Final Comeback: May 27th, 2019 with Maschera (MV) Live Performance (Link)

  • Song: Abandoning their retro-influenced sound and jumping late onto the Tropical House bandwagon for their third digital single, this song is described as having “sexy vocals and masculinity described in the lyrics”.

  • Composers/Producers: SpaceCowboy (SPICA – Your Dance, Golden Child – Her, Lovelyz – Beautiful Days), Jay Hong (Oh My Girl – Tic Toc, Beatwin – You’re My Everything, Seven O’Clock – Nothing Better)

  • Trivia: The group was back down to four members for this comeback following the loss of four between comebacks.

Active Between: August 19th, 2016 – October 18th, 2020

Reasons for Disbanding: The group announced that they would be moving on to take on new challenges individually. While the group had a promising beginning they never found the level of success that the company was likely looking for, and with incidents which occurred which set them back, an inability to perform live with the pandemic, plus new groups on the horizon it appears the company decided to cut the cord.

Trivia: Following their comeback with Do It an incident occurred where group member A.C.E physically assaulted fellow-member Chibin. After Chibin brought the incident to light with the public A.C.E left the group and company and Chibin later left as well citing mental trauma from the incident making it impossible for him to continue. Original member 26 and new member Doeun also left near this time, with 26 going into acting and Doeun citing personal reasons. The group continued to perform internationally following their final comeback, but due to travel and gathering restriction in 2020 due to COVID their opportunities dwindled. The group was apparently looking for another company to take them on but nothing materialized and thus they disbanded.

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That’s it for today, let’s get the discussion on!

As always, if you have any suggestions for groups, content, or things you’d like to see, please let me know in the comments below.

Also as always, a big shout-out to u/not-named-in-credits for founding r/nugutown and u/sharnaranwan for continuing the work over there.

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