K-pop is big business in Japan, and the business doesn't get much bigger than KARA. The quintet have reigned as the No. 1 Korean girl group in the Land of the Rising Sun since the release of their J-pop debut, Girl's Talk, two years ago, winning over the country with their good looks and cotton candy hits. They've racked up countless awards and big bucks endorsement deals, and have even managed to fend off some stiff competition from Girls' Generation, who have had their sights set on becoming Japan's favorite female K-poppers since topping the Oricon charts last year with their self-titled Japanese debut. But if early sales for KARA's latest J-pop album, Girls Forever, are anything to go by, their time at the top could be coming to an end. The disc shifted just 28,724 copies on its first day of release—a steep drop from the 73,076 that their previous album, Super Girl, sold in the same time period last year. To make matters worse, the album's most recent single, "Electric Boy", was outsold and out-charted by Girls' Generation's last single, "Oh!/All My Love Is For You." ("Oh!" is currently competing against HyunA's "Ice Cream" in our Pop-Off, so get voting!)
This isn't the first time that the Divine Nine have outsold KARA. GG were able to overtake the sales of Super Girl earlier this year thanks to a repackaged edition of their first Japanese album called The Boys, which was certified for shipments of one million copies this past June. With their second J-pop album hitting stores at the end of the month and KARA's record sales declining, there's a big chance that SNSD could come out on top once again.
KARA aren't exactly slumming it, though: Come January, they'll become the first Korean girl group to ever hold a solo concert in the 50,000-capacity Tokyo Dome. It's just one of the many firsts for KARA, who already hold the distinction of becoming the first Korean girl group to launch a signature perfume, the first to release their own figurines, and the first to top Oricon's weekly singles chart.
It's still too early to tell if KARA will have to hand over their J-pop crown to Girls' Generation, but if their current sales indicate anything, it's that their best days may be behind them.