Before BLACKPINK and 2NE1, YG Entertainment had another incredible 4 member girl group. Let’s take a look at the four ladies of the former vocal powerhouse that was, Big Mama.
Debuting under M-Boat Entertainment, which was a sub-label of YG Entertainment, the quartet would become one of the strongest girl vocal groups that the K-Pop world would ever see. The four members of the group, Shin Yeon-A, Lee Young Hyun, Lee Ji Young and Park Min Hye made their official debut in 2003 with their album Like The Bible. This girl group was different from the rest, however, and it wasn’t because of their talent.
Big Mama came onto the music scene with much different visuals than K-Pop fans were used to. M-Boat Entertainment and YG Entertainment joined forces with the intention of forming a group that focused solely on their musical talent rather than their visuals. These four ladies were the final contenders and would end up becoming Big Mama. Their group name was in reference to the women themselves, as the labels stated they were “big women” as considered by South Korea’s beauty standards. In addition to their healthier body types, the two labels came to an agreement with the members of the group to never allow plastic surgery. Their concept was all about their talent and not their looks, which is how they came to this conclusion. With a much more different background story, this is how the quartet came to be.
Even though they debuted under different circumstances compared to other groups, they were able to see some success as the Korean public acknowledged their incredible vocal talents. Their debut album was well received by the public and contained what would become one of South Korea’s most recognizable songs, “Resignation.” “Resignation” became the anthem for heartbroken women all across the nation, quickly becoming one of the most notable karaoke songs. While this song is 18 years old, it has since been covered by a multitude of current K-Pop idols. EXID‘s Solji, f(x)‘s Luna, Ailee, and JYJ‘s Junsu are just a few of the many idols who have famously covered this song.
While they saw some initial success, they eventually came to a crossroads with mismanagement, which fans unfortunately believe had something to do with their visuals. The quartet was unable to see grand success like their competitors, leading them to leave their YG sub-label in 2007. They moved to Manwalldang where they would end up having a three year hiatus before coming back under a different label, Tailruns Media. After changing labels twice in 5 years, the talented group shared the news of their official disbandment in 2012.
The standards of K-Pop have changed drastically, with the focus being on both the talent, as well as the visuals of a group. Big Mama may have not necessarily catered to the impossible beauty standards of K-Pop, but they delivered something so much more for their fans. Their beautiful lyrics, powerful vocals and emotional delivery touched the hearts of everyone listening. You can check out Lee Young Hyun, one of Big Mama’s original members singing “Resignation” in a modern take down below.