Kpop is a very cut throat industry. You either make it, or you don’t. Even the most talented groups, with fantastic songs,  the best companies behind them, and money being thrown at them, often find it hard to make an impact. Especially these days with so many different groups on the scene. It can be hard for a group to find a niche, something that is inextricably them.

Rania have been around since 2011, but you’d be excused if you haven’t heard about them. They have only had a handful of singles in past 5 years, but more member changes than I’ve had hot dinners. The group, as it exists now, has only one of the original members, but she just came back from a 3 year hiatus. None of the other 7 girls that debuted with her are in the group. Less than half of the current 7 members were involved in Rania’s previous comeback, which was last year. Going to their profile page is just a long litany of ex-members, all leaving for various reasons, but most seem to be “creative differences with the company.” The company, DR Music, doesn’t have a stable of artists like some of the larger companies. In fact they have only had 2 groups since 1996, Baby Vox and Rania. It would appear to me, the casual outsider, that the group isn’t very well managed, and that DR Music doesn’t really know how to properly capitalise on the talent the girls obviously have.

I feel like Rania, or BP Rania (Black Pearl Rania) as they are now called, could almost be classed as a nugu group (new group, a group that has just debuted). There have been so many member changes, so many ups and downs for them that it’s hard to see how the girls can gel together and form a cohesive sound that so many other groups have, even prior to debut.


Rania have always been making waves in the Kpop world. From their super sexy debut of “Dr. Feelgood” (a super catchy bop that won’t ever leave your head) and the complaints of it being too suggestive, to their inclusion of an African-American female rapper who speaks little to no Korean as part of their lineup. Let’s check out their most recent offering and see where BP Rania are going with their new lineup and new music,.

Start a Fire

Song

I think it’s sort of sadly ironic that the song starts with Alex (the rapper) telling us that the “Legends are back”. I feel like this is more wishful thinking than anything else. But I digress. The title of the song would lead you to believe that perhaps the girls will be singing about a new love, some sort of exciting fling, and that the titular fire is something that is in their hearts (or other parts…) for this un-named lover. But you would be wrong. The song is almost the complete opposite. The song focuses on what their partner has been saying behind their backs. Lies and rumours being spread by the lover are what the “fire” is. There are hints in the song that perhaps the boyfriend may not be the most faithful person to the  relationship, and to cover his deceitful ways, starts to deflect the suspicion and eventually tarnish BP Rania’s good reputation.



The girls are not letting him get away with this, which is the crux of this song. No matter how he comes to them, no matter what lies he’s told, they can see through it, and “put out the fire”.

I like the fact that Alex has a writing credit on this song, and im guessing its for her rap break, as it’s in English. It’s certainly not the worst rap break I’ve heard, but not every song needs a rap break. She does have some of my favourite lines in the song though:

 

I apologize for sayin’ your apology’s floppin

The population it flockin

Cock blockin and jockin

And I’m suckin it down

Like a cocky concoction

 

“Cocky concoction” is possibly my favourite lyric out of the entire song! There is just something so supremely bold about how she says it.

Unfortunately, from what I can see, and hear, not all the members get a chance to sing in this song. It could be that I don’t know the new girls well enough yet to actually be able to tell when their vocals come in, but based on multiple listens, and watches of the MV, I conclude that at least 1 of them doesn’t sing in this.

Video


International fans were always going to be interested in this MV. It’s not everyday that an African American woman with no Korean ancestry gets involved in this music industry. It made big news in the community when Alex was included officially in November 2015. She couldn’t be included completely in their last comeback due to visa issues at the time of shooting the MV, so she wasn’t in that. All their promotion stages only featured her at the beginning as she wasn’t able to be included in their choreography as she came back too late. Fans were super pumped to see her in this MV, especially as she is now the leader of


Oh, how disappointed we were.

Alex appears only in her rap section. She doesn’t dance in any of the group pieces, she doesn’t interact with any members in their sections. She only makes a brief appearance at the end when the girls are all drinking champagne. It’s quite obviously done as well. It’s not an accident that she did not appear in any of the choreography. I’ve seen comments online from people wondering if it’s because she doesn’t know how to dance. It most definitely is not. I’ve seen that girl’s dance practice videos, she’s great! Also, the choreography, whilst effective, seems like it would be easy to learn, for those with the time and will to practice it. I’m guessing the decision was made to have Alex only in the rap section to make her more prominent but it just ended up making her seem not fully integrated into the group. Seems a little weird considering she is meant to be the leader. I’ve seen some open gaps in the choreography so I’m hoping she will be able to at least dance on their comeback stages, and not look like a featured artist with BP Rania.

Other than that, the video is fairly straightforward, and dare I say, nothing special. I feel like I’ve seen this video a couple of times before. There isn’t any imagery that is overly eye catching, and I feel like the video is sort of lazy, in a way. The girls look great in a lot of the shots, but it’s a catch 22. We don’t know them, as there are so many new members, and the group isn’t a nugu one. I feel like this was a prime example of a time when perhaps the video should have introduced them to us. Not that every nugu groups need to do this, but I feel like it was lost opportunity for BP Rania. It’s hard to look at this as a comeback as their sound is different, and the group is different from their last comeback.

Summary

I really want BP Rania to do well. They seem to have been through the mill as a group, and its hard to get behind something that keeps changing, as a fan. I don’t know how well this will do, but if I’m being honest, it’s not something I will remember in a couple of weeks. The song is pretty catchy, especially the musical break after the chorus. I do like the English version that’s on their new album. It’s not often that I say the English version of a song is better, but I think this may be one of those times.

If you liked “Start a Fire”, and want to hear more of BP Rania, I would suggest “Style”, “Pop Pop Pop” and of course, “Dr Feelgood”.