Rania (Hangul: 라니아; shortened from “Regeneration Idol of Asia”), formerly known as BP Rania (shortened from “Black Pearl Rania”), is a South Korean girl group formed by DR Music in 2011, created by American Teddy Riley. They debuted as Rania with their debut single album Teddy Riley, The First Expansion In Asia with title track “Dr Feel Good” released in April 2011.
Rania was originally set to debut in mid 2010 as the third generation of Baby V.O.X., however their record company DR Music decided to rebrand them as a new group named Rania with eight members: Saem (later known as Yina), Lucy (later known as Jooyi), Riko, Joy, Di, T-ae, Xia and Sarah. T-ae, Riko and Yina were chosen to star alongside former 2PM member Jay Park in his movie Hype Nation, causing DR Music to push back the group’s debut. At the beginning of 2011, Sarah Wang made her decision to leave the group and was replaced by Chinese trainee Yijo. Before the addition of Yijo, Thai Korean trainee Data (Song Daeun) and Canadian Korean trainee Minhee (Moon Minhee) were set to take Sarah’s place. However, Minhee left due to parental disapproval due to her age (at the time she was 15), and Data left due to homesickness (her family resided in Thailand).
Rania made their debut in April 2011 as an eight-member group, consisting of Saem, Jooyi, Riko, Joy, Di, T-ae, Xia and Yijo. However, upon their debut EP’s release, Yijo was not present for live performances. It was later revealed that Yijo was having issues with her work visa. She left the group shortly after. On April 6 they performed on KBS’ Music Bank, with the title track “Dr Feel Good”, composed by producer Teddy Riley. The song was originally given to Lady Gaga. However, since their music video and live performances caused controversy in Korea as some viewers felt that their image and concept were too provocative, Rania were forced to change their choreography and make minor changes to the outfits. After the conclusion of “Dr Feel Good” promotions, the group returned in June with their first digital single “Masquerade” (also composed by Riley). Despite having planned an American debut, the group made no advancements. Shortly afterwards Riley announced that he would have nothing more to do with the group after falling out with their record label, releasing a statement saying “I wish them the best. It’s not the girls I dislike, I love Rania, they would be better with me at SM Entertainment. Their manager does shady business, used me for my music. I love Rania, I just don’t like their company business. That’s why they are not getting bigger. They don’t do business upfront. They used my name every where then back door me on the group. It’s ok if they will regret it. If they leave that company, I will sign them up quickly. Please know the facts before attacking me. Attack their company. Such great talent will be wasted if they don’t get better support.”
The group released their second EP, Time to Rock Da Show, on November 16, 2011. The music video for its title track, “Pop Pop Pop”, written by Brave Brothers, was revealed four days later. Joy suddenly went on hiatus at this time, which DR Music claimed was because her parents’ house had been affected in the flood which occurred in Thailand at the time of the release, and later left Rania in June 2012. In a series of now-deleted tweets, she wrote “To everyone, I’m sorry I let you guys down so many times, but I’ve been thinking about it for months. I think I can’t go back to stand on that place anymore. I can’t go back anymore. Thanks for all of your love and all of your hope, thank you so much and I feel so sorry that I [am disappointing beloved fans]…From now…I think I can’t be in the entertainment [industry] or back to be a singer anymore since I was sick…But I haven’t got any confidence to go back to do it. I’m sorry that I made you all have to wait for me…and I made you all feel confused. Thank you so much for gifts, kindness, love that you give me. Thank you.” On 30 May 2012, Rania performed a new song named “Killer” at the Dream Concert. They made a comeback on September 16 with second digital single “Style”, whose music video was revealed on September 20. Jooyi did not participate in this comeback, although DR Music claimed she was still a member of the group.
Rania released the lead single “Just Go” on March 8 2013, along with their first studio album, also titled Just Go (Goodbye’s The New Hello). They also announced to debut in America in summer 2013. Empire Records was to be handling the girls’ distribution while Fireworks was to handle their American management. Larry Rudolph and Adam Leber, two of Britney Spears’ managers, decided to be Rania’s managers throughout their U.S. promotions. Starting May 21, Rania began filming for their MTV reality show Road to Fame in Los Angeles and other cities across the U.S. The show would feature the group’s preparations for their U.S. debut and would air for three months. It was also revealed that the album would feature collaborations with both Snoop Dogg and 2 Chainz. However, Rania’s American debut was delayed again in June. Instead, they began to film a CF for Woongjin Waterpark Play°C and released a special digital single titled “Up” for fans on July 5.
In May 2014, the group signed with Spanish label INGENIOmedia and confirmed they would have a comeback in July with “Acceleration”, with a second round of promotions in September. The label also confirmed that they were looking for a sixth member to replace Riko, who was absent from the group since “Just Go”. Following an incident where a staffer at INGENIOmedia leaked Rania’s comeback track to a sasaeng fan, the company severed ties with the group, stating they were “taking too long”. INGENIOMedia later released a statement saying that they were not looking for a member to replace Riko, apologizing for any confusion, and said that any news on member changes would have to come from Rania’s company.
In late 2014, Saem stopped attending public events and deactivated her official social media accounts. This led to intense fan speculation that she had left the group, but DR Music did not release an official statement regarding her situation. Soon afterwards, DR Music announced Riko’s departure, releasing a statement saying: “After the completion of the promotions of the single “Style”, Riko told us with that she would take her university entrance exams to study a career, she asked for a three year break to complete her university studies and once she graduated from college, she could return to the group as a member of RaNia, but the problem came back this year when she reproached subjects in the university, she made us aware of this situation and asked for a year more absence that we found impossible since although she promotes or not with the group, we as a company should continue paying a normal salary, And That is unfair for us and the other members of the group, because she can not postpone her absence anymore, she decided to leave the group and the agency.” DR Music later added a new member, Sharon Park, who was a model before joining the group.
In January 2015, Jooyi stopped attending live performances with Rania, to which DR Music claimed that she was simply on hiatus. In April 2015, Sharon Park left the group to focus on her modeling career. In July 2015, Rania made their appearance with two new members, trainees Seulji and Hyeme. In October 2015, the group announced their comeback as a six-member group on November 6 with their third EP Demonstrate. On 3 November, Seulji and Hyeme were revealed as new members and it was announced that Demonstrate would feature African-American rapper Alexandra Reid, with the possibility of her becoming a new member of the group. On November 4, DR Music confirmed that Alexandra Reid had joined the group, while confirming Saem and Jooyi’s departures. Alex is the first African-American woman to be an official member of a South Korean girl group.
DR Music sent out a letter to fans that supported their Makestar project, informing them that Rania’s comeback had been pushed back to August 2016, and they were working on a Hyeme & Alex sub-unit. On July 13, 2016, however, Makestar announced that due to repeated failed attempts to contact DR Music about the project’s progress and “the continued irresponsible behavior and stance taken by the Rania project creator, and our unwillingness to ignore the inconvenience this is causing to the project participants”, the project would be terminated and all money returned to the fans. On May 26, it was confirmed that the last three original members of Rania – Di, T-ae and Xia had withdrawn from the group and parted ways from DR Music after five years. They then signed with their new label Enter Hama, where they announced their plans to redebute as “Ela8te”, although these plans fell through. On June 26, Rania performed at a Chinese event with three DR Music trainees: Jian, Jieun (a former member of LPG) and Crystal. On August 15, 2016, Alex announced that she was the group’s new leader. On October 25, Rania performed with two DR Music trainees (Ttabo and Hyeonji) at the 2016 Seoul ICARUS Drone International Film Festival. Two days later DR Music stated that from seven DR Music trainees they will choose new Rania members.
On December 23, 2016, DR Music revealed a teaser image for “BP Rania” (“Black Pearl” Rania, in reference to Alex’s darker skintone) and hinted a comeback as a seven-member group. On December 24, an image teaser for Hyeme and new member Jieun were revealed. On 25 December, Zi.U (formerly known as Seulji) and new member Yumin teaser images were revealed. On December 26, DR Music revealed teaser images for Alex and new Chinese member Ttabo. It was reported that former member Saem had rejoined the group after two years following her departure in late 2014, and that she had changed her stage name to Yina. On December 27, DR Music revealed last teaser image for Saem, confirming that she had re-joined the group. On December 28, Rania released teaser music video for their upcoming comeback track “Start a Fire” as BP Rania, symbolizing that the group is a “rare existence in the music industry.” “Start a Fire” was released, on December 30, 2016, along with their fourth EP of the same name. DR Music said “Through Spanish company “Ingeniomedia”, the song will be available in more than 60 countries around the world.” On February 10, 2017, DR Music announced that BP Rania would start promotions for their second song “Make Me Ah” from the Start a Fire EP, on February 14, 2017. It was also announced that this would be the first time that Alex would take part in the entire choreography.
On February 21, 2017, DR Music revealed that the company was approached by a well established production company with an acting opportunity for Alex, to which they responded by releasing a statement saying that they hoped that fans could understand the benefits of this opportunity, and that the opportunity would allow the group to gain ‘exposure and help BP Rania’s success by expanding their fan base.’ DR Music assured the fans that Alex would remain a fully active member of BP Rania, and would return to her regular schedules after her return to Korea. The company asked people to send positivity to Alex and to wait patiently and enthusiastically for their return. On May 12, 2017, DR Music announced that they were looking for three to four new members to start BP Rania W, a worldwide group that will promote alongside the current members of BP Rania. Near the end of March fans noticed that Yina was absent from group promotions, to which DR Music replied that Yina was busy with her own individual activities. On June 8 2017, Yina announced in an Instagram post that she was leaving BP Rania. The agency later confirmed that Yina had decided to focus on her acting career.
BP Rania remained as a six-membered group, releasing their seventh EP Refresh 7th on August 12, with title track “Beep Beep Beep”. Promotions became controversial when fans noticed that Alex had very few lines, and in fact spent the majority of performances standing off to the side while the other girls danced and sang. On August 19, DR Music announced that Alex had left the group, and that the group would continue promotions as five. Following her departure, Alex took to Twitter and criticized the company in regards to how she was treated and her departure, saying “People think they can push you around, take advantage of you, manipulate you, violate you then throw you in the trash and walk. Dead wrong.” On September 13, it was announced that the group would be making a comeback with “Breathe Heavy” from their Refresh 7th EP.
In January 2018, after fans noticed that Ttabo had missed several appearances with the group, DR Music issued a statement stating she was filming a movie in China. On May 31, DR Music announced the departure of Yumin from the group due to her having “recently been faced with circumstances that make it increasingly hard for her to follow the extremely demanding team schedule”. It was also announced that the group would be having a comeback in June and releasing a “Best Of” album in August, although the June comeback has been delayed.
On June 28, it was announced that a new member named Namfon had joined the group. She made her first appearance in Rania’s Malaysia tour.
On July 17, former member Yumin was announced to be marrying former Topp Dogg member P-Goon. In February 2019, Yumin revealed that following the birth of their son, she and P-Goon had separated, and she was raising the baby herself.
On November 7, when asked via SNS by fans if she was still a member Ttabo stated that she is a “former idol”. Rumours also began to circulate that DR Music as a company had gone bankrupt and was unable to continue operations.