Baby V.O.X. (Hangul: 베이비복스, standing for Baby Voices of Xpression) was one of South Korea's most popular girl groups, belonging to record company DR Music. Although it initially had much internal turmoil, Baby V.O.X. eventually became a successful, cohesive group from 1999 to 2005, releasing many hit albums. However, after the dismal failure of their last album Ride West, it began to unravel again. By the end of that year, all of the members had left the company, with some going solo, and others moving into other entertainment areas.
Formation of Group and Release of First Album
The group originally consisted of Cha Yu Mi, Jung Shi Woon, Jang Hyun Jung, Lee Hee Jin and Kim E-Z. They used an edgy style similar to that of the Spice Girls. However, in the strict and conservative Korean culture, their edgy style didn't result in success. Also, there were endless rumors about the conflicts between younger group members (Kim E-Z and Lee Hee Jin) and the older members (Cha Yu Mi, Jung Shi Woon, Jang Hyun Jung). When Cha was injured on stage during performance, she was immediately replaced by Kan Mi Youn. After the first album, Jung and Jang were removed from the group due to conflicts.
Revival in the Second Album
After the replacement of three members with Shim Eun Jin, Kan Mi Youn, and Lee Gai, Baby VOX went on a strict training regimen to develop their dancing and singing, which included mental and physical training as well. Baby VOX adopted the cuter and shy style used by S.E.S. and Fin.K.L. Their first single, Ya Ya Ya became a quick success after the release. Ya Ya Ya hit number seven on the Korean pop charts. With their second single, Change the group adopted a more mature and sexy look. However, it was later revealed that Lee Gai lied to the management company about her age and was removed from the group.
Success of the Third Album
Yoon Eun Hye replaced Lee Gai in the lineup and the group's first single from the album Get Up was soon popular nationwide. For the first time, they reached the number one spot on the Korean music pop charts. Another single 'Killer' also hit the first place on the music charts, with the sexy lady warrior style. With the Killer single, Baby VOX beat H.O.T. in the pop charts and earned the 'Top Excellency Award' in Seoul Music Award in 1999. The ballad single, 'Missing You' was very popular and is considered the group's best ballad single ever.
Fourth and Fifth Album, Foreign Promotions
From 2000-2001, Baby VOX made more appearances in variety shows. After their success of the third album, they started promoting themsevles in China and gained a great popularity and strong fanbase. Their popularity spread to Japan and other Southeast Asian countries. The fourth album, 'Why', continued its popularity, with the two strong singles Why and Betrayal. Also, Baby VOX appeared as a show host in SBS variety program, Beautiful Sunday-Cruise to the Korea Strait. With their fifth album, Boyish Story in 2001, even though the album sales and its singles Game Over, Doll, I Wish You are My Love were not as popular as the third and fourth album, the group's popularity didn't fade. Baby VOX also made their appearance as a show host in KBS variety program, Your Saturday-Aqua Girls.
As well as their success in Asian markets, Baby VOX released a special hits album were from their first five albums, with two single hits Coincidence and Go. With Coincidence, the group hit number one in the Korean music charts for the first time in three years. Coincidence was also released in a World Cup version, and performed all around Korea during the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup season, and remained popular throughout the summer. In addition to that, they managed to have a Live Concert in Seoul, which was hugely popular. A Baby VOX Music Award was also created in China.
In spring of 2003, Baby VOX released their sixth album, a feat achieved by very few Korean pop groups. They even released a photo album that was purported to have semi-nude images of the girls (with Eun Hye unable to participate due to her age), causing some controversy, but it faded as the image content was found to be hyped up by the media. Baby VOX topped the Chinese music chart with the Chinese single I'm Still Loving You, 3rd place with 나 어떡해 (What Should I Do) and 4th place with the same single in Thailand as well. However, this was also when the group's fortunes started to change. While 'What Should I Do' hit the number one spot in the Korean music chart, their second single, 바램 (The Wish) wasn't as popular. In addition, their performances appeared to be lackluster, especially with the latter single, as it was not promoted for a long time period. This may be attributed to the fact that members did not like this album's concept.
Seventh Album, controversies, and disbandment
The group's seventh and final album Ride West, released in April 2004, featured songs in English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, as well as appearances by well-known American hip hop artists, such as Tupac Shakur and Jennifer Lopez, although Tupac's "appearance" was a freestyle rap that he recorded while in prison. Baby VOX attempted a promotion in the United State of America in 2004. However the rights for the sample of Tupac's verse were not cleared, and this resulted in a court case pursued by the late rapper's mother, Afeni Shakur. This album was proclaimed to be what catapulted Baby VOX into the international spotlight, hence their use of English in the single. Meanwhile, the music video for the album's feature song, "Xcstasy", was done in English, featuring expensive luxury vehicles and well-dressed, highly preened divas, apparently in emulation of the "Bling bling" style of hip-hop videos popular in the United States during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The group also performed sexy dance moves and wore provocative clothing in the music video, seen as a bit extreme in conservative Korea. However, this release was accompanied by much controversy. There was first the issue as to whether their managing group, DR Music, could legally use Tupac's material in the recording, with Tupac's repesentatives claiming that DR did not have authorization. Even though Baby VOX claimed their rights of using the Tupac's music, many different companies in the USA claimed having the authorization and the dispute was not solved. To worsen the situation, a member of Korean hip hop group DJ DOC, offended by their alleged misuse of Tupac Shakur's lyrics, denounced them in the media and referred to the group as prosititutes. The dispute between DJ DOC and Baby VOX was so huge that both parties went to court for arbitration. Although the DJ DOC member later apologized, Baby VOX was still compensated however, this dispute hurt the group's image, as the group suddenly stopped promotion of the single. A second single, "Play Remix" featuring Jennifer Lopez, was promoted for a short while, but sales were lower than from its previous albums. After 2004, Baby VOX went into hiatus and Shim Eun Jin and Yoon Eun Hye departed the group in 2005. In March, 2006, Baby VOX was officially disbanded.