Monday, June 11, 2012

NOW KPOPPING: f(x) vs. Wonder Girls in the Repetative Yet Catchy Showdown

June is/was shaping up to be the month of the Return of the KPOP Superiors (female edition), with comebacks by JYP's Wonder Girls, SM's f(x) (and Girls' Generation in Japan) and YG's 2NE1. You can probably guess who I'm most excited about sinking my teeth into (hint: there is four letters/numbers in their name and it rhymes with 'shoe-many-one'), but until that newness hits us, I've been rocking to what has already come through in the past few weeks.

First out the gate was Wonder Girls, with their new mini album called Wonder Party, helmed by their new dance jam "Like This". The album also includes a Korean version of their English sparkler "The DJ Is Mine" (swoon!).

Wonder Girls - from left to right: Yenny, SoHee, Yubin, Sunye & Lim
"Like This" completely lacks the big, singable, I-Want-It-Right-Now chorus of previous Wonder Girl hits like "Tell Me" (Tell Me, Tell Me, Teh-Teh-Teh-Teh-Teh-Tell Me!), "Nobody" (I want nobody, nobody but you! Clap Clap! Clap Clap!) or "Be My Baby" (Please! Be My Baby!...Make Me Your Lady!), and in comparison comes off kind of...well, sparse. But that was the idea.

The main focus is put on the backsliding jangly backbeat (dare I say giving a bit of a 2NE1 vibe...kind of) and the breezy choreography that WG is telling to you dance to (Like This, Yo! Like This!). An English version is also available, which means it will probably make an appearance on WG's upcoming English release (sometime this millenium, JYP, kthanks).

My hopes were really high for Wonder Girls after last year's Wonder World, so I can't quite say I'm stoked by what we recieved with Wonder Party. For a mini with "Party" it its title, I'd expect much more uptempos, but really, only "Like This" and "The DJ Is Mine" bring it to the floor. I was surprised by the obvious American-influence in the synthy backbeats, but when I know for a fact a few of the girls can sing and sing well, yet they get overridden by noise...that's not so great. As for "Like This", a lot of people are bemoaning it but I won't. It's incredibly catchy and is a bit of a grower. Pardon me while I go learn the dance while putting my hair in aquamarine pigtails (heyyyyy, Lim!).

Meanwhile, just a few days ago, SM hit back with their favorite (forgotten) fivesome in f(x) (that's a lot of 'f's, Mel) with their second mini album, Electric Shock (LOVERHOLIC! ROBOTRONIC! FANTASTIC! ELASTIC!...oh, wait).

Yes, that's really the cover to the right, and no - the music video has nothing to do with this creepy animal fetish-esque cover image. I'm convinced the folks at SM enjoy trolling fans just for the sake of sh*ts and giggles. Yes. Let's put our youngest female group (both in tenure and in age -- baby Krystal is just 17, while leader Victoria is a few months older than yours truly at 25) in creepy horse-head masks and take photos of them in the middle of the forrest wearing awkwardly non-matching clothes. Let's face it - f(x) has always gotten no love in the wardrobe department (I mean, really with the "Hot Summer" cover art?) but this is a new low. Even for SM.

"Electric Shock" follows much of f(x)'s previous sound, a la "Pinocchio (Danger)" but takes it to a new level. AutoTune and dancefloor synth abound like laser beams ricocheting around the discoteque, combined with floor-stomping bass shakes. It's the first proper f(x) single that feels SM-epic (get out of here with your "La Cha Ta"). And it wouldn't be an f(x) single if it didn't have a nonsensical hook (E-E-E-Electric! / Na Na Na Na Na! / Electric Shock!).

The Electric Shock mini is in my opinion f(x)'s best yet. I'm very fond of the more laidback album cut "Beautiful Stranger" which is another cut that feels very American-urban featuring raps by Amber that don't totally make me cringe ("Hot Summer" comes to mind). So much so I kind of wish it was the lead single, but then again, it doesn't exactly follow the f(x) formula. It only features rapper Amber, maknae Krystal and power belter Luna, hence being relagated to the "to be forgotten about" bin. Sad face.

Verdict - Wonder Girls may have won the battle (in terms of single), but f(x) won the war (in terms of album). Insert MBLAQ dance moves here.


Dear 2NE1, my birthday is June 17th. Anytime now with the new music would be nice. Thanks. Love, Mel

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