Out of the many ‘unit groups’ that promote separately from their core group, one of the most successful is Orange Caramel, who has a batting average of 4 out of 4 when it comes to their singles, starting with last year’s “Magic Girl” and ending with their latest effort, “Shanghai Romance“. Whether for good or for bad, they’ve scored enough successes to start hearing the words “better than After School”.
How have Lizzy, Raina, and Nana been able to make Orange Caramel such a hit? The members themselves play a large role; with Raina, After School‘s main vocal, the sub-unit is able to hold their own in talent. She also provides the foundation for Orange Caramel’s trademark sweet tunes.
Nana, meanwhile, checks off the ‘visuals’ box as she’s able to deliver a plethora of image concepts, from sexy to cute to tough and feminine. Then, of course, there’s Lizzy, the resident K-pop aegyo girl who managed to make a name for herself through her variety and sitcom appearances. Thanks to her public recognition, Orange Caramel gains a boost as well.
One word that cannot be left out in any discussion of Orange Caramel is “concept”. The sub-unit stakes much on their unique concepts, and the members avow that their success is tied to the success of their concept. Industry insiders often say that “girl groups have nothing new to deliver”, and yet Orange Caramel managed to break away from the stale “sexy vs.cute” debate with the very own ‘unique’ look.
Their concept relates especially well to the Korean idea of “ppongkki” – a word that is hard to translate into English, but which relates to a distinctive Korean style of music that brings back images of trot singers and old people having a jolly time.
Opinions clash regarding Orange Caramel, with popular opinion tottering between “fresh” and “overly cute”. Despite their detractors, they have never backed away from their concept. The members have gotten used to the idea, with them even pitching their own proposals about where to go next.
One sure-fire barometer of their success is the massive number of parodies they inspire in popular culture. Both citizens and fellow idols (especially male idols) have created parodies of their songs, further solidifying their establishment in popular media.
Orange Caramel’s fan base is varied, with both male and female fans of their music. However, if After School can be said to have a larger-than-normal amount of female fans for a girl group, Orange Caramel could be seen as its counterbalance, having a large number of male fans.