Saturday, May 07, 2011

NOW KPOPPING: f(x) is officially OUT of 'Danger'

Now is a limbo kind of time in my KPOP music listening. TVXQ have finished their duo promotions. SHINee is prepping their debut into the Japanese market with a new version of the kind of archaic at this point "Replay (Noona Is So Pretty)". 2NE1 is prepping an upcoming release (and an English album). My latest guilty pleasure-turned-time-consuming-obsession, Super Junior, is prepping their fifth album/touring/MC-ing/creating a Taiwanese drama/prepping a Japanese single, etc. Basically, your favorite KPOP stars never sleep, but they aren't always promoting a hot single (no matter how much I want to claim otherwise).

Then along comes f(x), SM Entertainment's other girl group (hello there, SNSD!), outfitted by five more eclectically dressed femme fatales, that debuted in 2009. A few are American-raised (which apparently in Korea counts toward their street cred), their leader is from China, and one member is the younger sister of an already super popular idol (Jessica, from SM's resident girl group, SNSD). 

For those of you who aren't as familiar with the KPOP hierarchy of artists, f(x) debuted in September of 2009, just a few months after YG's 2NE1, and the similarities are relatively striking, especially as of late. I originally tossed f(x) off as the female counterpart of SHINee (just as I did with SNSD to Super Junior), convinced that if I was meant to pay attention, the right song would come along to make me. Several singles came and went, and my interest was steadfastly held by the much more confident, brash and basically ballsy 2NE1 -- a marked shift in my KPOP tastes, as when it comes to boy bands, SM is like my second home. They did appear more interesting me, at least in theory, than that of SNSD, mostly because they were less popular girl pretty, and more artsy and mysterious in a KPOP market where girls can usually only be super cutesy or super provocative with no in-betweens (while the boys can be both, and they usually are).

2010's "Nu ABO" started to change my mind regarding f(x), mostly because they were finally shrugging off their more cutesy image. Hell, even Simon Curtis is an admitted fan of the song! But it wasn't until their most recent release, "Pinocchio (Danger)", the lead single from their first full album release, that I've officially started to relent my icy feelings toward them.

I'm certainly not here to proclaim my f(x) fanship just yet, and "Danger" certainly isn't the best KPOP single I've ever heard, but like most SM main single releases, it's very, very catchy. It also features a sort of gibberish hook, an earworm tactic that f(x) has employed before ("La Cha Ta", "Nu ABO") and they aren't the only ones (Super Junior's "Sorry Sorry" and "Bonamana"; SHINee's "Lucifer"; SNSD's "Gee", "Oh!", "Hoot"; let's just say SM is quite heavy-handed in this arena). In a translation, it's basically about a girl being played like a doll ("Pinocchio") and wanting to be out of "Danger". That's all you really need to know. Count on mainstream KPOP to be cliche and not very deep (at least not most of the time). The video itself brings the comparisons to 2NE1 up to about a 9.

With that said, the more I spin it, the more it gets stuck in my head. It's also officially one of the girls' biggest hits (if not their biggest), earning them several awards across various South Korean music programs for the first time, and finally giving them the spotlight, instead of that of their more omniscient oppas and unnies (that's older brothers and sisters, people -- stay with me here). One of their members, Luna, has serious vocal chops on her, and I hope future releases continue to rely on her heavily. I also personally think the group is starting to gain more confidence in themselves, and it shows -- in their choreography and in their imaging.

At this point, it's not quite enough for me to proclaim immediate stanning, but to say I'm not looking forward to their future promotions would be a bold-faced lie. Get it? Pinocchio?

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