f(x) is a multinational quartet that makes some of the most interesting pop music coming out of South Korea. Consisting of their Chinese leader Victoria (Qien Song), Chinese-American rapper and vocalist Amber Liu, Korean-American maknae Krystal Jung, and Korean lead singer Luna (Park Sun Young).
Debuting as a quintet in 2009 (along with former member and visual Sulli), f(x) is one of the few Korean pop artists to have critical acclaim in the United States. They were the very first Korean artist to be invited to appear at the massive Austin, Texas music festival SXSW, which now features a regular "Korea Night" has one of its popular features, even now "part of its DNA" according to one critic. Their pop masterpiece album "Pink Tape" was the only Korean release listed in the American music channel Fuse's "41 Best Albums of 2013." Similar rave reviews have appeared in various publications from Pitchfork to Rolling Stone.
The power of f(x) comes from their collection of inventively produced repertoire of material, their unusual choreography, and their seamless blend of distinctive voices. As with any Korean pop group, much of the credit goes to their company, in this case multimedia giant SM, and their CEO, for helping to cultivate their unique sound and style, but ultimately it is the members that have make it a hit and f(x) is known for not just hitting it, but knocking it out of the park.
Another endearing quality of f(x) is their distinctive style. Each member has a look and personality of their own, most notibly the androgenous Amber, who eschews the feminine look of the rest of her K-Pop contemporaries and has crafted an approachable tomboy look that is almost universally loved by Asian fans. Amber is wildly popular, and deservedly so, as she comes off as one of the more genuine people in the industry. In addition to Amber, group leader Victoria has a mature sultry charm that goes well with her limber and often acrobatic dance moves. The diminutive Luna, the only native Korean left in the group, provides powerful and often soulful lead vocals with a commanding stage presence. And then there is the American maknae Krystal whose long legs, coy smiles, and sugary soprano add immensely to the memorable charm of the whole. Krystal, sister of former SNSD member Jessica, is perhaps the most popular of the group.
They don't quite fit into any of the common groups of girl groups (Sexy, Cute, Badass, etc). Instead, they can combine almost all of them in one performance or drift together from one style to another; sexy and sleek in "Chocolate Love," playful and cute in "Chu," rough and tuff in "Nu ABO." Their more recent appearances have shown a stylistic bent different from any other, usually eclectic, and often incorporating elements of 60's 'mod', 80's new wave, tropical and deep house, and a hint of Seattle grunge.
Musically, their sound is diverse and features some of the most inventive compositions in pop music anywhere, usually electronic but incorporating a broad range of instruments from around the world - from tabla to balalaika. Drawing from sounds reminiscent of Talking Heads, Lady Gaga, or Daft Punk, they add their commanding and compelling vocal arrangements to a mix of sounds that almost always bear repeated listening. A person could hear a song like "Rum Pum Pum Pum" or "Red Light" a dozen times and still pick out things he or she never noticed before.
UPDATE! A new "Station" release shows the fantastic(four) as they've never been seen before in their usually low-budget green-screen "box" videos. Not that they spent much on this one, either. Love it!