With the coming of the new year, Kpop fans all over the world rejoice! The previous year (and whatever concept our favorite stars collectively beat into the ground) is over. The new year is a blank slate, a canvas waiting for the right brush stroke. But January is also famously slow and devoid of big releases, and therefore defined mostly by anxiety for the new year. A new single from Anda is sure to heat things up, right? Maybe.
On January 6, Anda released “Taxi,” adding one more voice to the cultural zeitgeist of taxi romance in Asian pop music. However, the song has a darker feel than most taxi-obsessed songs (for whatever reason, taxis need bubblegum pop like flowers need the sun). Anda’s rap segments operate a few octaves below her usual singing, showcasing a new sound for the artist in this, her seventh single. Coupled with a drum beat that makes your knees wobble and drop a few inches, “Taxi” approaches the boundaries of hip-hop. Tonally, the song recalls Anda’s earlier single, “It’s Goin Down,” but “Taxi” feels much more like a new direction for Anda than a rehash of what’s come before. January artists operate in the unique realm where all possibilities are open to them. But while “Taxi” provides a way for Anda to move forward as a music artist, it’s a mess in terms of visuals.
As a music video, “Taxi” begins with Anda being picked up by, you guessed it, a taxi. But really, the video opens, closes, and is everywhere in-between made up of uninspiring clips of Anda hanging out in the back of the limo. She sort-of dances (as much as anyone can dance while reclining on leather seats. She seduces. She changes outfits once or twice. There are even a few shots that are clearly from a modeling shoot (outside the taxi!), but they are so short as to go unnoticed. And that’s it. As a way to start the new year, this is a disappointment, especially considering the dual facts that that there is a fun and fully developed choreography for “Taxi” and that Anda just so happens to be a phenomenal dancer. Waste is the word that comes to mind.
Now, before you get all in a huff, dear reader, and accuse me of ignoring the fact that Anda lacks the budget of the big three, I’d like to point that sentiment out for the nonsense that it is. Anda, who originally debuted as “Andamiro” (literally translated to “so much that the cup runneth over”), joined Emperor Entertainment Group in 2015, and since that time she has released two brilliant music videos in “Touch” and “Mastering.” Neither of those videos betrayed any lack of funding. I’d even go so far as to argue that both were standout videos for Kpop in 2015.
“Touch” was full of clever camera tricks (yes, those cost money) that keep the viewer feeling uncomfortable even in extremely sexual situations. A series of repetitions leave Anda’s lip-syncing unaffected while everything else around her duplicates or multiplies grotesquely. It’s such a fun experience, but most importantly, Anda is fully realized as a pop idol within the MV. Both “Touch” and “Mastering” feature a fun Westernized choreography which Anda performs flawlessly. “Mastering” may not be the most innovative MV ever created, but it gets two things right: Anda is an obvious star, oozing sexuality (there’s even some “Blurred Lines” vibes), and there is always something on screen to watch.
The main issue with “Taxi” is that Anda, with no help from visuals, from choreography, from a story line, is allowed to run out of charisma. That’s not a knock on Anda - anyone would run out of charisma if forced to sit on screen long enough with nothing else to riff on. But this isn’t an issue of money. Compare “Taxi” to her first break-out single from 2012, “Hypnotize,” which was co-produced by two agencies, one which was already struggling and would fold soon after, and another that had to crowdfund just to upgrade their recording studio. But “Hypnotize” contains visuals, choreography, and a story, and it absolutely succeeds. Even without the help of financial backing, Anda has demonstrated that she can create exciting MVs to match her music. Unfortunately, “Taxi” isn’t one of those times. With only Anda and Dal Shabet to judge by so far, 2016 hasn’t started with a bang. In deference to “Taxi” being a fun song, I give this release a B-.