Review: Is Super Junior's 'Mamacita' the Album of the Year?

Super Junior Comeback Mamacita

First, a Confession

I’m not an avid fan of Super Junior. I'm in no way an ELF. I don’t know all the members' names by heart nor do I know all of Super Junior’s various subgroups, though I am trying to learn more. I can’t even honestly say that I've even thought about Super Junior more than twice all year.

But can you really blame me? “Sexy, Free, and Single” came out over two years ago. The group has ten members, which, I’m sorry, is very hard for a casual fan to grasp hold of. There are so many massively popular boy groups out now that it’s easy to gravitate towards the ones that are, you know, making music. So, I started listening to Mamacita with a fair amount of skepticism. And I couldn't help but wonder: After all this time, does Super Junior still matter?

The Music Video 


My skepticism wasn't quelled after watching the music video for the title song, "Mamacita." The music video takes thirty seconds just to introduce everyone. Then the slick dance sequence begins, only to be interrupted by a wacky, convoluted western, that involves members of Super Junior hitting and killing each other to gain possession of a precious crown. The faux-silent film expressions and overly animated movements clash with the sleek choreography, instilling a goofy, juvenile tone that, for me, mutes a killer track. For a casual fan especially, this is a bad video. It's trying to be chaotic, but it comes off as cheesy.

There's all those reasons I disliked the video and yet there's something else that's almost indefinable in its' badness. But here's the thing. "Mamacita" is actually a very good song. And the album?

It might even be better.

Album of the Year?

Mamacita Super Junior Album of the Year

"Album of the Year" is thrown around Kpop a lot. f(x) has impressed, as has BTS, Winner, and too many groups to mention without starting a fan war.

“Mamacita” is the promotional single in an album where every single could theoretically serve as a promotional single. It's a good choice, but it's not even the best song out of the first three. “Midnight Blues” is sexy, smooth as silk, it will be your favorite song on the album and maybe for 2014. It sneaks up on you, right when you think it’s going to be a low-key love romp, it explodes. “Raining Spell for Love” really takes advantage of having a boy group battalion, everyone in Super Junior gets their spotlight here, but it’s when they sing together in a thunderous chorus that the song is elevated above mortal boy band status. This is how Super Junior stands out from the Winners and Block B's of the Kpop world. It's all about strength in numbers.

Leeteuk Super Junior Mamacita

“Shirt” is energetic and lively, a party mix that holds onto the smooth thematic undertones of the album, while giving us a more latin-inspired dance groove. “Evanesce” slows things down, has a quieter tempo but keeps the intensity high. “This is Love” is the funkiest song of the album (that may, I feel, be the most forgettable). “Let’s Dance” can fool you into thinking that it’s a simple dance song, but it’s more sophisticated than that, by the end of the song it’s become some type of anthem for unbridled joy. I love this song.

“Too Many Beautiful Girls” has the most western pop aesthetic. If feels directly lifted from the soundtrack of “Grease” or maybe even “High School Musical.” But it also happens to be a damn good interpretation of that wholesome, idyllic musical theatre world.

Mamacita Super Junior

Which is to say that just about all the songs on the album have a really old-school wholesome vibe that reminds me of why I fell in love with Kpop to begin with. It's not just just the wholesomeness, it's the earnestness. This album, especially the last few songs, makes earnestness cool again.

“Mid-season” takes the funk that has permeated the album and given it a more 80’s electronica vibe, with a touch of sweetness that seems to have replaced the edge of the beginning of the album. If the album has an arc, it would be a dramatic slope beginning at edgy and dropping down, like a cannonball, to sweetness, somewhere around “Evanesce" or “This is Love."

“Islands” surprised me, truly. Expecting a boring ballad to finish the album off, it really builds with more emotion by taking advantage, again, of the intense synchronicity Super Junior has when singing together. It’s very dramatic and borderline saccharine, but it’s also undeniably effective.

So yes, I am calling Super Junior's Mamacita as a front-runner for album of the year. As much as we loved f(x)'s Red Light, the album felt more like a greatest hits compilation than a cohesive volume. BTS had an amazing album, but even that had some filler. Every song on Mamacita fits seamlessly together, and more revealing, every song on Mamacita is better for being included together, in this smooth, sophisticated, funky package. Now that's an album.

Super Junior Still Matters! 


Of course they do. Super Junior is as popular as ever. Their album is number one on too many charts to mention. Even their music video has, in one short week, amassed over six million views, and climbing. Super Junior is still relevant, is still a major force in Kpop. And though I might not know all their names, and I am often overwhelmed by groups that number in the double digits, I can honestly say that Super Junior's Mamacita not only surprised me, but was absolutely a thrill to listen to. 

I have a confession to make. I might not be an ELF, but I absolutely loved this album. You will too. Mamacita, the album, not the music video, gets an: 



Timothy Moore writes from Chicago. He blogs at Read My Blog Please, and edits at Ghost Ocean Magazine. His biases are T-ara, Block B, Nine Muses, Brown Eyed Girls, and Girl's Day.

15 comments:

  1. lol not even close to the album of the year

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    1. awww why the bitterness? XD

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    2. It was one of the best albums of 2014... hands down!

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  2. Yea you right it is great album :)

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  4. I think is great. It's an amazing album actually.
    People who dislike them as a group might think otherwise, but you don't need to like them to ACCEPT this is a masterpiece... It's the first time I don't feel like skipping a song to listen to another one... Having a fave in this album is a sin lol

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  5. Después de 2 años, hicieron algo grande con este álbum y como dices con la esencia de lo que es el K-Pop

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  6. Definitely one of their best albums. The songs are just epic.
    And listen before commenting, really. Sj's synchronisation <3

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  7. I think more than the songs, the one thing that made this album stand a chance more than any other album is simply the vocals itself. There might not be anything stand out, it IS a pretty simple album. But god...the vocals, their group harmonization, everything is simply beautiful and rich. It's such a gift to my ears.

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    1. Definitly is a great album... there is not a single song i do not like. its pace is incredible, the great mixes, letters that make you identify with them, from the more melancholic or romantic, to one that makes your feet do not stop moving. Loved.

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  8. It is a great album to be honest. The best after their Sorry Sorry album. I'm a fan, though I have to admit the previous albums they released were meh! Fortunately for this one, all of the songs are good. I might be missing the KRY songs but the entire album compensate it. Raining Spell for Love is a favorite...that's song is on the repeat mode in the phone.

    I have a feeling that those haters just hate the fact that they are SUJU and could not accept that the guys could create another superb album. They don't care about the album and the artistry that it has. So I'm glad SUJU doesn't care about the haters anymore.

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  9. The title song always has THE hook and the sound that aims to catch the attention of the general public. That said, I was wishing that there would be one song in their album of great quality and uniqueness but sadly... no

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  10. the lyrics mau be beneficial to all.

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  11. This album is truly amazing, especially when you take the three new tracks from the repack into consideration. Their vocal talent as a group is without equal in K-pop. You can tell that Teddy Riley and other producers took full advantage of the various vocal tones and the size of the group to make some truly incredible tracks. You can listen to this album over and over--and never want to skip any of the songs. It's better than Sorry, Sorry, and I do think it's definitely the album of the year.

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