This Week in Kpop brought in all the heavy hitters: HyunA, a VIXX subgroup, and, of course, SNSD. We think they may have just redeemed themselves with their latest releases, but since everyone else in the world seemed to love "Party," maybe we're the only ones who thought they needed a stronger followup. In any case, this week won't Kpop itself, so let's get started already!
The SNSD Redemption
We're calling it The SNSD Redemption, with not one, but two strong releases in "Lion Heart" and "You Think." Maybe we're the real guilty ones here, since we didn't find "Party" to be captivating, summer song or no. Still, we've been defending Girls' Generation for months, as "Party" was a pre-release, so expectations should have been muted (though it won like every music show and currently sits at 30,000,000+ views on YouTube), and "Catch Me if You Can" was not a "comeback single." So when should our high expectations be met? Enter "Lion Heart" and "You Think."
Of course we were going to like "You Think" more than "Lion Heart," as our preferences have always been for Girls' Generation to be more adult and edgy. "You Think" has something that the ultimately generic "Party" was lacking for us: personality. Even the choreography seems to have been infused with life, buoyed with a darkly lush music video and some killer vocals (Seohyun and Sunny seem to stand out especially, but we're always captivated by Tiffany). Even the chorus, "You're not cooler than me," gives an caustic energy to the song that really puts it over the top for us.
But we're not saying that "Lion Heart" is, in comparison, the lesser song of the two. "Lion Heart" does have that syrupy sweetness, that, at this point, we wish SNSD would move beyond. Even the costumes, props, and tonal lighting hearkens back to a wholesome, mostly imagined age of innocence. This is SM trying to make you believe that pure SNSD, some of the most beautiful women in the world, still are plagued by boy problems, still quivering at the slightest touch from their crushes, still imagining their first kiss, etc. Especially with the revelation that most, if not all, of SNSD are in relationships, there something that feels inauthentic here, even for a Kpop video.
But what saves "Lion Heart" is that it actually is a strong, fun song, with a memorable hook, the chorus as silky smooth as the video's syrupy sweetness. The choreography, especially that awkward open legs thrusting, doesn't really seem to fit the song as well as the choreography of "You Think," and the lion pawing reminds us of early T-ara, but at least the song has personality here, even if it's not exactly the personality we wish Girls' Generation would embrace. But what do you think, dear reader? "You Think" or "Lion Heart?" Or are you a fan of "Party?" We'd like to know where you're coming from here.
HyunA's "Because I'm the Best"
HyunA came back this week, declaring herself as the best, and with hits like "Red" and "Crazy" to back her up, we're tending to agree. But does "Because I'm the Best" really show HyunA at her best? We've listened to this quite a few times now, and while we're still going to give this song time to make a real call here, we're gonna go with No.
This song, energy-wise, is definitely on a different register than "Red," which, as a pop masterpiece, would have been hard to top. As a song and a music video, we couldn't help but feel that "Because I'm the Best," falls a bit flat, and, dare we say, a bit boring? While the sexy choreography and flash remain, a lot of the audacity is toned down here. Where's HyunA posing as an Egyptian Queen? The toy guns and monetary iconography feel more like western pop staples than bringing anything new to the scene. And the butt dancing and semi-twerking? By now, that barely will illicit a yawn.
Are these fair assessments to make in a genre of music where originality has never been essential? Maybe not. But we're talking the best here. We'll have to think about this more, but our gut is telling us that this release isn't going to set the world on fire. While this release is clearly not the best, maybe it can settle for good enough.
VIXX LR's "Beautiful Liar"
A VIXX subgroup debuted this week, with Ravi and Leo forming VIXX LR. "Beautiful Liar" can be a beautiful song at times, and we were a bit worried that this would somehow just be a ballad, but Ravi provides this song with a complimentary edge, making this a perfect duo to plunge into heartbreak. We especially love when Ravi freaks out while Leo is playing his piano, just trying to be chill. This song hits some epic highs and there's a surprising amount of aggressive "skinship" between the pair that should breed pages and pages of fan fiction.
All in all, a strong release, one that, unfortunately, may be overshadowed by the HyunAs and SNSDs and Big Bangs as this summer season comes to a close.
Juniel came back this week! How long has it been? Why does it feel like ages? Wait, what'd you say? It's a melodramatic ballad?
Oh. Well, she still jams at some points, so we're going to leave this song here, just for you.
Why I Hate Music Shows, Part 1: Meaningless Competition
You watch them. We watch them. Kpop Music Shows are as much a part of Kpop as crazy is to T.O.P. But we have a bone to pick with this fundamental part of the Kpop experience. In particular, Zander Stachniak does, and he begins his close examination right here, friends.
Clash of the Girl Groups: T-ara vs. Everyone Edition
T-ara has have been having a crazy, manic few weeks of incredibly highs and silly lows. So, natch, Timothy Moore took a closer look at T-ara's many battles with his latest installment of Clash of the Girl Groups! Which you can read right here.
August 16-22, 2015
And that was This Week in Kpop! We'll take a closer look, surely, at HyunA's mini-album later this week. Is there anything else we may have missed? Feel free to post, leave a comment, suggest a review. We'll be waiting. Until then, have fun and be safe!