To remain unaltered by fame or fortune is almost unheard of, and yet g.o.d (or Groove Over Dose) managed to do just that. Their down-to-earth charm combined with their deep well of talents allowed the group to propel to the top and become one of Korea's most beloved, if not highly-respected pop groups (much to the members' disbelief).
All that glitters...
Comprised of five members -- Park Joon Hyung, Son Ho Young, Danny Ahn, Yoon Kye Sang, and Kim Tae Woo -- g.o.d debuted on January 13, 1999. From the get-go, this group intrigued the masses. They had a controversial group name that ruffled a few feathers in the religious community, and the members hardly seemed to possess those requisite qualities to be a successful male pop group. For starters, g.o.d didn't own pretty-boy looks or the latest hairstyles. In fact, the five members looked awkward together at times and a bit too ordinary to be celebrities. They also had an unusual member dynamic -- the youngest member was still attending high school, while the eldest was 30 at the time of their debut. But all those things got brushed aside in one smooth sweep with g.o.d.'s debut song, "To My Mother."
From average joes to Korea's national nephews
At the time of their debut, many male groups were performing feel-good love songs or hard rock tracks. To add some perspective, Shinhwa was still riding high on "Eusha Eusha" (itself a reflection of H.O.T.'s "Candy"), while H.O.T. dabbled with darker material, such as "Line Up!" That wasn't the case for g.o.d as they defied the trend by going with a heart-wrenching R&B ballad called "To My Mother," a song with lyrics expressing the love and regret felt by a son who didn't appreciate his mother when he was younger. This poverty-stricken mother, who barely had enough to feed her son a bowl of Chinese noodles, would work without rest and forsake her own pride in order to provide for her child. The message of the song was a bit heavy for a K-Pop track, but since it was released during a difficult economic period in Korea, it touched the hearts of many working Korean citizens who could relate. The song demonstrated that the boys were talented, and luckily, their awkwardness came across as humble. "To My Mother" became the most requested track on the radio by fans of all ages, and with it, g.o.d captured the heart of Korea, who labeled them as the 'nation's nephews.'
While "To My Mother" appealed to a wide range of fans, the title song from their next album would charm the ladies. "Love and Remember" was sung from the perspective of a man, desperate for his lover's return. It unveiled a more romantic side to the members, effectively tugging at the heartstrings of fangirls everywhere. These fans began showing their support with sky-blue balloons at g.o.d events, and that color became the signature of g.o.d's fanbase. With "Love and Remember", g.o.d took home their first K-chart win on SBS's 'Inkigayo,' followed by another #1 win on KBS's 'Music Bank.' "To My Mother" secured a favorable first impression and "Love and Remember" garnered the fangirls -- while these are two very important factors to ensuring success, the boys knew that it was a mere scratch on the surface. Being surrounded by so many talented groups, it took more than just strong musicianship to stand out. Now, the members were ready to show their individual personalities through a TV variety program called 'Babysitting Diary,' where they would look after Jaemin, an adorable 11-month-old boy.
That Helly Hansen jacket though.
'Babysitting Diary' gave the members the simple luxury of getting to know a child. The nation was entranced, as they got to see g.o.d. extend their image beyond that of a pop star. Sure, they were a little awkward around the child at first, but the more the boys fell in love with Jaemin, the more the viewers fell in love with them. g.o.d and their staff had very little expectations for the show, but much to their surprise, the program became an overnight sensation. Their ratings surpassed those of the ever-popular 'Gag Concert,' to the point where Gag Concert was forced to move to a different time slot. Needless to say, 'Babysitting Diary' gave g.o.d's career just the boost they needed, and their follow-up dance tracks, "Sorrow" and "Friday Night", did extremely well. Both songs earned them multiple #1's on both Inkigayo and Music Bank.
With several #1 songs secured under their belt, the boys continued to cruise their way to superstardom. By the time g.o.d released "Lie" from their third album 'Chapter Three,' they had built a phenomenal fanbase. Their external appearance showed that they were now comfortable in their own skin, and their strong performances expressed their confidence on stage. g.o.d had never looked or sounded better, and "Lie" quickly climbed the charts, earning the boys multiple #1 wins on Music Bank, Music Camp, and Inkigayo for several consecutive weeks.
While the public loved Ho Young's bashful smile and Tae Woo's teddy bear-like appearance, g.o.d's most charming points were their modest and approachable personalities. g.o.d didn't even seem to realize just how popular they were since they were consistently down-to-earth. Fame and success became very real to them, however, when they became multi-million selling artists, selling 2 million copies of their 3rd album alone. What's more, at the 2001 year-end award ceremonies, g.o.d became the first pop group to ever receive top 'Daesang' awards from all three major broadcasting networks, KBS, SBS, and MBC. At this point, g.o.d had reached the very summit of their career, being awarded the highest honor possible in the entertainment industry. Knowing that their amazing success was made possible by the unceasing support of their fans, g.o.d. decided to do something big to return their love. The members put all their promotions on hold in order to embark on a 100-day concert tour for their fans. It was a risky move and seemed almost foolish to do at this point in their career. They would have no TV air time for three months, and there were some concerns on whether g.o.d. would be able to sell all 100 performances. But g.o.d. shrugged off the doubts. The only thing they were interested in, explained the boys, was that they spend more time with their fans. Thus, from July to September of 2002, g.o.d traveled the nation with their '100-Day Human Concert'. It was no surprise that tickets for each of the 100 shows completely sold out, and every night, the stands were filled with sky blue balloons.
Beginning of the End
g.o.d's fame seemed to know no bounds; songs from their next albums like "Road" and "Where You Need To Be" went on to become immediate K-Pop classics, and the boys didn't have to worry about the well of interest drying up anytime soon. But like all good things, g.o.d. came to an end. Rumors of g.o.d's disbandment began to spread in 2004, and the group eventually established a press conference. Only four out of the five members were present, and these four spoke cautiously on Yoon Kye Sang's behalf, who decided to move on from g.o.d. Yoon Kye Sang had admitted that he never felt passionate about becoming a pop singer, and the past 5 years had been extremely hard on him. He was pulling out of g.o.d and starting a career as an actor.
Naturally, his fellow members were distraught and they questioned their future as a team. g.o.d took some time off to consider their options. Two years later, they returned as a four-member group with their 7th album, 'Into the Sky'. g.o.d. felt relief in being welcomed back with open arms, but the remaining members couldn't ignore that a huge part of them was missing. Sadly, this would be their last album together before the members moved on as individuals. After one final concert in 2005, fans were forced to say their last goodbyes to g.o.d. as a group... until nearly 10 years later.
Fifteen years after the group debuted, they got together for a new song titled "The Lone Duckling" and all the proceeds from the song was donated to those suffering from the tragic Sewol ferry accident.
Shortly thereafter, they released the song "Sky Blue Promise." The title holds extra significance for fans as their fan club color is sky blue. They officially made their comeback as 5 members with the release of their 8th studio album 'Chapter 8' which was released on July 8, 2014. Although the album sales were nowhere near their hey-day, they still brought a lot of joy to their old fans through this album release.
g.o.d was unique in the sense that they seemed so pure and uncomplicated. They demonstrated that hard work and humility could help you succeed, and remained level-headed once they reached the top. To them, being sincere and pursuing what they loved most was paramount and it's because of those qualities that g.o.d. remains to this day one of the most respected and highly-loved musical acts in K-Pop history.