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.
Four months after another hit with TT, a slew of wins at the end of the year festivities, and JUST finishing the first set of concert tours, TWICE have come back with a repackage. The lead single is called Knock Knock
Only a couple of days ago did I proclaim Cosmic Girls’ Secret as my favorite song of 2016. I sang the praises of how good that song was, and even better a spectacular video to accompany it. I criticized the lackluster aspects of their debut in comparison, to just solidify the dreamy pop perfection that their September comeback (and debut proper of Yeonjung).
So I knew…I just knew…that somehow, Cosmic Girls would somehow fuck up the fun.
And they did.
I Wish, which I am tempted to call Tell Me Why, takes all the spacey dream like qualities of Secret, and just says fuck it. Throws all the good in the trash, and ups the tempo slightly. Now this isn’t to say that the song is terrible or is nothing but trash. I Wish would literally have to be Catch Me for that to happen. The song is interesting, and thankfully still has this sound to it that isn’t stuffy. I also hear what I imagine to be Juicy Fruit but I doubt K Pop even know what that song is. The chorus is actually nice, and sweet to listen to. But overall it comes off a little plain. Exy is required to rap each track, and this is the first time she felt like she was just inserted in and not given the spotlight like she normally would.
The music video suffers the same fate as the song. It’s obvious that Starship made sure to involve the same director as last time, as many of the visuals and same motifs still exist. The girls are still in these supernatural, vibrant colored landscapes, and having them in such open looking spaces gives the video such a more epic feel. And like last time there is a lot going on. The girls are set up in different groups of different scenarios. However unlike last time, where everything eventually came together (the summoning on Yeonjung), I Wish can’t quite find its purpose. Ultimately there is a lot of interesting imagery, but left to be chaotic.
I can’t say that I am too happy with I Wish. The song is nice, and kind of catchy. But the sugary quality feels very on the nose for me.
Right now with the boon of cute concepts girl groups at their peak, a lot of groups are having to find their way. April were a traditionalist when it came to the concept. Sugary sweet songs that were modest albeit ineffectual given their places on the charts. With groups like TWICE and GFriend defining the market at the moment, it should be no surprise that groups are starting to get in line.
“Get in where you fit in”
Hyo Seong started her journey as a solo artist two years ago, and it has been something. With her debut Good-Night Kiss, I instantly loved it (and still play it to this day). Her follow up Into You (which took an entire year to happen) was less than welcomed by me. With her latest release she finds herself in the middle of those two.
Find Me has some interesting elements, and when put beside what has been released as of late, feels like something more than it actually is. Musically it is nice enough. The beat is pretty standard to what was pop music in the west at one point in the last few years. It’s dance pop made for the clubs and washing your worries away. It almost reminds me of lighter and less exciting version of Kiesza’s Hideaway. Find Me isn’t a great or outstanding track that has merit just off of a listen. Instead it kind of feels like a quick summary of what has happened before, and lacks any sort of truly special thing about it.
The songs biggest downfall simply lies in the fact that Hyo Seong herself simply did not or cannot accommodate the beat. She lacks the aggressive vocals to play up the mediated excitement of the song. Her harmonies lack excitement and simmer as she coos. She sounds nice, and like on Good-Night Kiss, it works. Here on Find Me, it is hard finding her on the track. Especially a shame since the track is neither exciting or memorable. She is not losing out on a song that has some deep complexities or random elements that feel far too big for her to handle. The song is possible a purchased track from the early years of the 2010’s that found its way into the hands of a Korean pop artist.
Now this doesn’t mean that Find Me is terrible or even bad. It is okay. The song is nice, and a piece of me feels the thump the track wants to bring, and I am not offended by Hyo Seong as a singer. It shapes up to be something I can’t completely dismiss, but it also really doesn’t make a strong argument of why it shouldn’t either.
Maybe in the song’s intended setting (a club, drunk off my ass in deep regrets) would this track feel truly great. But when listening to it in the everyday setting, there isn’t enough to make it worth it.
I remember the last time I listened to a Hyomin I had nothing but negative stuff to say (her ep was the first album I have ever heard where I actually hated it). Her song Nice Body was an okay affair for the summer. Fun, light with the typical Brave Bros. feel. It didn’t really stick out as anything worth remember as Brave Bros would make more of those songs, and likely with more personality.
With Sketch, Hyomin is giving a little more oomph.
Sketch is a decidedly more R&B affair, which a lot of times in K pop is a symbol of maturity and sexuality. While the song is at the very least a little more modern sounding in some ways, nothing new or creative is done, and leaves Hyomin simmering over a slightly too cavernous beat. There are times when the music tries to add elements, such as the piano in the second verse, or the drop and breakdown right before the bridge. Admittedly none of this takes away from song, but feels pointless in trying to give the song more than it probably needed. One thing I did like were the harmonies. Nothing complex, but added nice cushion. The harmonies seem like the only thing done right and a lot more interesting than the actual music. This would be a song I would actually like to hear the a Capella to (the chorus version is close enough).
Overall Sketch is a nice improvement for Hyomin. While it doesn’t sketch out an identity for the singer, it does move her in a more interesting lane.