From:The New Paperposted on 31 August at 10:32 AM
31 August at 10:32 AM

Local Mando-pop duo By2 go from sweet to skimpy


THEY turned 21 a few months ago.

And as if eager to prove their new adult status, local Mandopop twins By2 are turning up the heat in skimpy outfits paired with suggestive poses to show off their cleavage and legs in an FHM Taiwan magazine photo spread.

The duo, consisting of identical twins Miko and Yumi Bai, debuted as sweet teenyboppers, but their image has taken a turn for the sultry.

Speaking to The New Paper from China, where they were rehearsing for a TV programme, the pair defended their FHM shoot by saying they were going for a healthy sexy image instead of a sleazy one.

But older sister Miko admitted: “We were quite nervous during the shoot as we were wearing skimpy clothes and were worried about wardrobe malfunctions.”

She added: “It was a full-day shoot and we had to strike very difficult poses that required twists and turns. Our muscles were aching at the end of the day.”

Yumi also admitted that the duo had concerns that the public might not take to their new image.

But she said: “Since we are young, we want to try different looks and styles. It was also a good way to mark our coming of age at 21 years old.”

By2 were talent-spotted in 2006 at the Extraordinary Singer’s Course organised by homegrown record label Ocean Butterflies’ subsidiary school, MusicForest.

The duo, then students at Yio Chu Kang Secondary School, created a stir when they decided to drop out of school and skip their O levels to pursue stardom.

They were sent to Japan, China and Taiwan for vocal and dance training and are now based in Taiwan.

Known for their bubble gum pop tunes and cute, sweetie-pie image, the pair released their first album in 2008 to moderate success.

They kept their youthful image until last year, when they surprised fans with a sexy look in their photobook 2020 which portrayed them as teasing, nubile starlets in matching bikinis and soaked translucent tank tops.

If their aim was to get attention and increase sales, it worked.

The New Paper reported previously that at an autograph session in Jingzhou city, Hebei, more than 1,000 copies of the book and the accompanying EP were reportedly snapped up, with one male admirer alone buying 2,000 copies.

This time round, the girls’ have upped the ante with their FHM Taiwan photoshoot, revealing even more skin.

And By2 are not the only female artistes who have gone for a new image, from squeaky-clean to sex sirens.

Raunchy new image

Many former Disney stars in the West have followed a similar trajectory in their careers, most notably Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus, who capped her raunchy new image with an outrageous performance on Sunday at the MTV Video Music Awards that shocked many and sparked much criticism.

Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai has also undergone a similar transformation, from her pretty girl-next-door image when she first started out in 1998 to a sultry dance diva in 2003, when she released her fifth album Magic .

Mr Colin Goh, 50, managing director of Ocean Butterflies, which signed By2, defended the girls’ new image, saying it was a natural progression as they grow up from teenagers to become young women.

He said: “There is no deliberate intention from the record label to make them take on this sexy image in the future but we will not rule out the possibility. FHM Taiwan has been very sincere in inviting By2 for the photo shoot, and the girls have been working out a lot lately, so they were keen to show off the results of their hard work to the world.

“Their new sexy image will draw attention for sure.

“But as long as they carry themselves well and not do anything unacceptable in public, I think it is fine. The girls cannot stay in their teenybopper phase forever.”

Local music experts say that the change for By2 is a good one and will work for them.

Mr James Kang, artists and repertoire director of Warner Music, said: “It is a good thing that the girls are carving out a niche for themselves in the competitive Taiwanese music industry. They might attract more male fans because of that.”

The 38-year-old added: “There is a fine line between sexual and sexy. If the image they are portraying is sexy and healthy, then there is nothing wrong with that.”

Miss Low Xin Hui, promotions manager of HIM Music, 32, said: “Changing an image is the key to leaving an impression and drawing attention in the saturated music scene. Every time there is a change in looks or image, the artist might attract a new group of fans or create some news.”

She added: “I am not saying that it will work, but every change is worth a try. Having some changes is better than being stagnant.”

But Mandopop fan Joseph Lim, 32, hopes the girls will retain part of their sweetness.

He said: “I remember By2 as the sweet young things who went overseas to further their showbiz career and now they look completely different, with their new sexy image.

“They are only 21 and are still very young. I hope they will keep part of the innocent image that they started out with.”

This article was first published in The New Paper on Aug 29, 2013

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