Sunmi has made her first comeback in three years as a soloist. What was she doing? Well between 205-2017, Sunmi had returned to her former idol group Wonder Girls, and helped revitalize their career and image. Of course after giving us two really good releases, the group decides to split up just shy of their 10 year anniversary. With two members have left JYPE, it’s pretty official the group has died, and fans sat in sadness waiting for any indication of comebacks and solo endeavors. Sunmi was the first one to really get that train going, starting late in the summer with her single release Gashina.
Despite only having two songs to her name prior, Sunmi has had enough time to create this image of herself as a performer. She is the offbeat but sensual flavored artist. Her sounds will tend to move toward a darker look, to give her a sort of weird, almost creepy factor, with a catchy hook and dance. Her first song was 24Hours which was a tango based whispery track. Full Moon was a Brave Brothers song tailored to a dark visual of feathers and vampirism. Even if the music isn’t different, Sunmi will always offer a visual that stands out. Gashina is no different. The only difference is some of the musical themes that are present.
While I don’t expect Gashina to be an innovative record, it is very easy to break down the song in how predictable it is. Current trends I have seen in K Pop (and the west): Tropical House or some musical equivalent meant to symbolize a summer feel? Check. Random trap influenced vocal stylings despite that style having simmered down? Check. An EDM Beat Drop and interpretation RIGHT before the chorus? Check. A lack of chorus/hook? Check.
All of these things have been heavily used over the year in K pop, some dating a bit farther back. It’s not even funny how often these very themes show up in a genre that is also very vague in a definite sound itself. This doesn’t mean the song is inherently bad, or not enjoyable for me. Instead it is a testament to how pervasive these musical motifs are and how lazy the industry can be at this point when dealing with musical acts. This song was super easy to break down to the point that I was managed to tick boxes, but not get a complete feel of the song after the first listen.
Still none of this really has much to do with Gashina or Sunmi. Sunmi herself is making a career off of being sensual but weird. With this sort of image, she can get away with doing types of music or sounds without really much pushback. Does Gashina sound like Full Moon or 24Hours? Absolutely not. Those two songs barely have any resemblance themselves. But it’s not much of a reach for me to see this song as a logical step for the singer. It is on trend, but still there is a perceived distinct quality about what Gashina has to offer that allows it to stand out. A lot of that is at the effort of Sunmi herself.
With it only being a week since it dropped, I can’t say if Gashina will have the same effect that both of Sunmi’s previous releases had. Still it is an admirable effort that is just enough to fit the establishing brand of the newly emerged soloist.