Baby Vox

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Baby Vox, along with S.E.S. and FinKL, were the "big three" of Korean all-female pop bands that came in the wake of the Spice Girls, took the country by storm, and resonated throughout all of the Far…
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Baby Vox, along with S.E.S. and FinKL, were the "big three" of Korean all-female pop bands that came in the wake of the Spice Girls, took the country by storm, and resonated throughout all of the Far East. At their peak, Baby Vox topped the charts, shifted millions of units, and enjoyed a collaboration with Jennifer Lopez; but being a girl band in conservative South Korea was hard work, and the lineup problems, as well as the general fickleness of pop audiences, didn't help, leading to disintegration of the original lineup of the band in 2006. The group has since seen two reincarnations, both aspiring to regional success, but neither topped the original configuration of Baby Vox.

Baby Vox (the name meaning "Baby Voice of Xpression") were established in 1997, and initially included Jung Shi Woon, Jang Hyun Jung, and Cha Yu Mi as the older "generation", and Kim E-Z and Lee Hee Jin as the "younger" one. The sexy sound and image were heavily borrowed from the Spice Girls, but it didn't catch on with the strict Korean public; the debut single "Haircut" and the self-titled album (1997) both underperformed, and the bandmembers began conflicting with each other, which led to sacking "the older generation," and being replaced by Shim Eun, Lee Gai, and Kan Mi Youn. The new five-person lineup underwent intensive training for a year and returned with a new, more innocent image, presented on the album Ya Ya Ya (1998). After its release, Lee Gai was kicked out for lying about her age, but the inclusion of Yoon Eun Hye finally stabilized the lineup, and the band went on to have its first chart-toppers with the singles "Get Up" and "Killer," and the third album, Come Come Baby (1999), garnered the group a considerable and loyal fan base in China, as well as recognition in other countries of the region, including the main show biz stronghold of the Far East, Japan.

Their fourth album, Why (2000), fared no worse than its predecessor, and although their popularity struggled a bit with their fifth full-length, Boyish Story (2001), the single "Coincidence," tied to the Special Album box set prepared for Asian markets, received wide exposure during the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan and topped the charts. By this time, Baby Vox were already the longest-running girl band of the country, but their fortunes were slowly turning; their sixth album, Devotion (2003), was another stab at a mature image, but the bandmembers weren't happy with this new concept, and their lackluster promo performances hurt the sales, although "What Should I Do" still scored as a number one hit in China.

Seventh album Ride West arrived in 2004 and presented a massive change of direction, as well as an expansion attempt -- the band went for a bling-bling hip-hop sound and image, added English lyrics, roped Jennifer Lopez in for a guest appearance on the single "Play Remix," and used a sample of Tupac Shakur's freestyle rapping. But the J-Lo single flopped, and the Shakur material wasn't 100-percent legally sampled and led to a lawsuit from the rapper's mother, as well as causing local rappers DJ DOC to publicly diss Baby Vox as "prostitutes." DJ DOC later apologized, but the damage to Baby Vox's image proved irreversible. The band entered a hiatus, and in 2005, Shim Eun Jin left to work solo, Yoon Eun Hye started an acting career, and in 2006, Kan Mi Youn followed Shim's example, with Kim E-Z also leaving music for acting.

In 2006, Baby Vox were officially disbanded, but their label DR Music created the Baby Vox Re.V ("Renaissance Voices"), which included Ahn Jin Kyoung, Hwang Yeon Kyeong, Myung Sa Rang, Han Ae-Ri, and Yang Eun Ji. The new incarnation of the group debuted in 2007 with the single "Shee," which again landed the band in trouble because of the promo video, which had to be taken off the air because the dancing was "too sexy." The eponymous debut album failed to make a stir, and soon Myung Sa Rang and Han Ae-Ri were replaced by Oh Min Jin, previously of Zenith, and Park So Ri. The revamped lineup played China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, where they donated the profits from their tour to a local orphanage, and released the album 2 Jip in 2008. In 2009, DR Music created the third generation of Baby Vox, which was initially set to focus on Thailand. The new lineup consisted of Koreans Sori, Joo Yeon, Kyung Sook, and Tae Eun, but the label soon staged auditions in China, Japan, and Thailand, aiming to make Baby Vox Re.V a seven-member band with an international cast.