Thursday, July 12, 2012

BOY BAND BONANZA: (NOW KPOPPING) Super Junior's "Sexy Free & Single"

"It's just something everyone should experience once...
I've become stronger
Finally it's time for our romance
Again I fly toward a bigger dream
Another upgrade
Just watch me
Leave it to me
-"Sexy Free & Single", Super Junior

Are you ready to bingo? (Honestly guys, it will never get old. Ever. It's like Loverholic Robotronic or Fantastic Elastic.)

Good Gravy, it's difficult to get a screen cap with all of them in one shot. L to R: Siwon, Ryeowook, Sungmin, Shindong, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Kangin(!), Leeteuk & Yesung
It's been just over a week since Super Junior dropped the music video for their latest title song off their sixth album in Korea -- "Sexy Free & Single" -- and it's already racked up almost six million plays on YouTube. Six million. Let that sink in for a second. The album was released just before the video. My copy is en route to me as we speak. Before we get into the album proper, let's chat about the song.

Eunhyuk (with Donghae creeping to the right)
"Sexy Free & Single" the song itself on paper had every possibility of being "Sorry Sorry (Part 57!)". I didn't join the brigade in knocking SuJu for it's repetative, if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it-mentality for its singles, mostly because my favorite songs by them don't follow the "Sorry Sorry" formula ("Sorry Sorry - Answer" and "It's You" if you are so curious). However, "Single" was written by the Korean Max Martin in Yoo Young Jin, who also wrote "Sorry Sorry", "Bonamana (Miinah)" and "Mr. Simple". It is a bit AutoTuney and synthtastic. It's an uptempo dance song and it's hook is monotonous ("SEXY FREE AND SINGLE I'M READY TO BINGO AWOH"). 

But set those facts aside and the is actually quite refreshingly different than the usual "SJ Funky" style previously showcased. In fact, it sounds much more "funky" than any of SJ's previous singles ever were. For me, I just wanted a good dance number with stellar choreography in which they sounded good and broke away from the mold and for the most part, "Sexy Free & Single" accomplished this. The style is much more along the New Jack wave sound SHINee was promoting earlier this year with "Sherlock" with a bit of a Girls Generation' "The Boys" rhythm structure.

Also, rather than having a song about professing how much they are in love ("Sorry Sorry", "Bonamana"), instead "Single" is a story of a guy who apparently screwed up his last relationship and is now single and taking steps toward starting fresh. It's about the initial excitement of new possibilities rather than being tied to one person.

I'll speak more about the video itself under the 'fangirl' bits at the end, but from what I can tell, people are either loving the video for its blatant sex appeal (::cough::hyper ELFs::coughcough::) or are frustrated that SM is yet again going the low-budg route, even for arguably one of its important sunbae artists. I'm somewhere in the middle. I wasn't really expecting too much, mostly because Super Junior has yet to deliver a video with an actual plot (let's use that word loosely, shall we?) since "No Other." It's a shame SM couldn't at least put some women in the video with them, considering they are "Sexy Free & Single" (that 'single' part I'm gonna call BS on for a few of them but okay...we'll all choose to be naive). A club setting wouldn't be asking for too much. But then again, Girls Generation insisted they "bring the boys out" and yet had a video with just themselves and no boys. SM is quite keen on keeping their artists as far high up in the stratosphere as possible. I've accepted that and moved on.

Kangin, who makes his return to SJ after 3 years!
The choreography itself is really exciting and is by far SuJu's most visually arresting dancework since "It's You". The dance itself was created by dancers who've worked with the likes of Michael Jackson himself so I'm really glad it didn't disappoint. SM is really setting a high bar for its boy bands in Korea and I'm hoping this momentum holds because seriously -- no one in America is doing it like this.

As for the rest of the record, after hearing it, I'm realizing the term "Sexy Free & Single" is an appropriate title for the entire package. My main complaint is the album itself is far too reliant on ballads (can't we leave that to KRY?) and there is not enough songs that sound like the lead single to really satisfy that urge. While "Rockstar", a production collab with One Way, initially made my skin crawl because of it's obvious rip off of LMFAO's "Sexy And I Know It" (oh, boys, why?), I eventually let the hard feelings go because it's so obvious they are having a rollicking good time being so tongue in cheek. Eunhyuk wrote "Gulliver" (S-U-P-E-R! J-N-I-O-R! Ummmm, Hyuk bb, you for got the 'U' in Junior), a sparse gloating track comparing Super Junior's importance to that of Gulliver in 'Gulliver's Travels' (although the way they pronounce it, it's more like "Kull-ee-burr"). It's clear that it's trying to be this album's "Superman" or even "Oops!", even though both are a bit more superior (pun intended).

Lee Brothers are my SuJu OT3. EunHyuk (left), Sungmin (right), and too gorgeous for words, Donghae (middle).
My personal favorite is probably a tossup between the more guitar-driven "Now" (summery whistles and all) and the 80's-esque snazzy "Butterfly" (Let it Bounce!). "From U" is the obligatory "gift to the fans" -- complete with Leeteuk's lie of an intro (Hey, I may be a newfound ELF but let's call a spade a spade -- Cassiopeia is still the biggest fanclub in the world!). While I originally found the song a little too cheesy with its "Sorry Sorry" references and "No Other" feel, I found myself gaining a new appreciation after watching the live performances of the song. And by live performances I mean the gratuitous Eunhae couple dancing (read: totally homoerotic fan service) and Donghae wearing a button-up shirt with jeans. Sigh.

For the Fangirls & Fanboys that are of the ELF persuasion, re "Sexy Free & Single", the video:
  • Hello pointless sound effects. We meet again.

  • Let's just get it over with. Bingo? Bingo? Freaking bingo?!? "I'm ready, too/BINGO!" I'm having flashes of them all using "BINGO" as something cool to say in English a la "Come on" or "Let's go" or "You are so gorgeous". #sobs

  • When I first saw the teaser, I initially thought they were saying "Sexy Free & Single/I'm ready to mingle" and felt all cringy inside. Tell me that doesn't sound like some kind of bad Sasha Baron Cohen foreign character tagline? Then I found out it was not mingle but bingo. I still feel a bit cringy to be honest, but I guess it could be worse.

  • ::Raises Hand:: Um...with a title like "Sexy Free & Single", weren't we pretty much promised pelvic thrusts? Where are they? ...::sad face::

  • I kept missing Kangin's solo bit and had to rewatch it because I was too distracted by Donghae, Eunhyuk, Sungmin, Ryeowook and Shindong laying down on the floor all provocative-like. Choreography win.

  • That last chorus where the choreography changes up -- <3. They even include weeble wobble dance (a la "Mr. Simple") and the claps ("Sorry Sorry").

  • How exactly does "Sexy Free & Single" correspond to light bondage and S&M suits? I'm glad they only did this to a handful of members, while the majority just wore leather of all varieties. Because while I find Leeteuk vaguely titillating (yeah, I said it)...Kyuhyun? Not so much. Poor kid. I'm sensing somewhere in Korea, Changmin is watching Kyu in this horrific outfit and laughing. Repeatedly.

  • Sungmin. Spikey headband. I wanted to hate it. But I loveeeee it. That and his platinum hair. And the guyliner. It just works. It works, it works. Yayyyyy.

  • Did Shindong get any screen time? Anyone? ::crickets::

  • I really wanted the 'Welcome Back, Kangin' feel to be bigger (he hasn't performed with them since 2009 for crying out loud!). But I guess that welcome translates to two lines and being in the background of loads of Eunhyuk and Donghae "solo" shots. My, My, Kangin. How the tables have turned...

  • Hyuk. Dance solo(s!). Arrogant swagger. You're killing me. Stop trying to be my SuJu bias. Stop it.

  • Hey Siwon -- the "Mirotic" era called. They want their scarf back.

  • As much as I wanted to see more skin from Donghae (and hell, even from Yesung), I gladly accept your half-unzipped-leather-jacket-with-no-shirt-underneath, SM Stylists. Because if you had done ELFishes dirty with the ridiculous getups you forced Kyuhyun and Leeteuk to wear, it would be war, I tell you. War. Well, after we got over all the skin to drool over. Then it'd be war.


Anonymous said...

Post is golden. And what was with the post-apocalyptic setting? Is Siwon Shisus and Leeteuk his guard? And who was the stylist that cut the top of a witch's hat and placed it around Kyuhyun's head with the bottom facing up?

VforVera said...

(Part 1 of my comment - sorry for the essay xD)

As an ELFish, it pleases me greatly the abundance and overload of Donghae goodness in the Sexy, Free & Single MV (*hides a snicker* teeheehee I still can't say that outloud or type that without having a good laugh over the cracktasticness). We finally have a Suju single where Donghae not only gets a crapload of facetime, but he also sings more than one line! And it's not gibberish! He actually gets real lyrics! OMG the novelty. It pains me whenever I watch/listen to Suju singles circa 2008-2011, because of a.) How little screentime Hae gets in this videos b.) his one little line in the 2nd stanzas.
Whoever made the decision to spam us with Donghae in SFS, made the right decision. I applaud them. Because did you see that opening minute?! Hae owned it. And then he leads the first "dance break" F-YES. And he gets to sing in both stanzas. Yes. Hell yes. And they had like a total of 6 wardrobe changes. Hae in leather. Yum.

I didn't have much expectations for the MV itself. I figured as much they would be dancing in boxes/dancing/solo shots. It's frustrating because they clearly can do the storyline/creative MVs ala No Other and It's You. The Super Junior-M music video for Supergirl was dance-driven but also featured a mini-plot. Donghae and Eunhyuk's MV for Oppa Oppa is completely creative and fun and also featured the boys dancing and a mini story. But I'm not complaining too much. Could have done without the cheesy graphics. WTF was with the matrix shots and the geometic shape? It had no significance or relevance to the rest of the music video. But omgoodness was Hae beautiful. I guess Hae's uptick in screentime meant Shindong's screentime got taken away. I don't think he contributed vocally at all for SFS nor did he lead a dance break. I think he barely made a cameo at the end.

Regarding the album. I actually prefer 5JIB (A-Cha ver) in terms of overall quality over 6JIB. Now and Butterfly are fun songs, but I prefer Shake it Up from 4JIB. From U is one of the weaker songs on the album, but I guess the live performance makes up for it. It just sounds redundant. I've heard the same tune before. Superman is an epic song, it really sets the mood for Super Junior and their place in the kpop world. It's just a powerful song and I wish for 6JIB they had something as powerful to match it. I get goosebumps listening to Superman. Gulliver kinda comes close, but not really. Its saving grace is the ending climax when the boys chant "make way for the new king" (weren't they already the kings tho?) and Donghae's sextastic voice drawling "baby are you baby, baby?" I'm still baffled as to why SM has not let Donghae release a solo song with him drawling/rapping like that and him dancing smoothly ala Sorry Sorry Answer. It would be heavenly and orgasmic. SM needs to get it done.

VforVera said...

(Part 2)

I'm probably in the minority, but I love SJ Funky singles. They're ridiculously catchy and perfect for my workouts. I love the cracktastic Engrish and I love the choreo that goes with the song. Honestly, I have had no problem with any of their dance singles (SJ or SJM) from 2008 and onward. And as much SFS cracks me up, it's fun to sing along to. I actually think we gave them too much credit when we all thought they meant "Sexy, free and single. I'm ready to mingle" when we heard bingo. Facepalms, they really were saying Bingo. LMAO. The one lacking thing from 5JIB, was that they didn't promote a ballad single. But their dance singles were so strong (Mr. Simple/Superman, A-Cha, Opera) so I kinda understand why. Storm, Y, and Andante are pretty, but nothing spectacularly special tbh. From 6JIB, I like Daydream and their cover of Someday. I was kinda disappointed Hae didn't contribute composition wise for this album, but I'm hoping when SM releases Ver. C 6JIB (and you know there will be one xD), it'll have a Hae composition. They've already gotten ver B ready, have you see the cover for it yet?! Tracklist is the same, but HOLY HAE ABS.

I actually thought Hae's mandarin solo for his SKip Beat OST was notches better than the ballad/slow songs on 5JIB and 6JIB. If you haven't had a chance to listen to it, I suggest listening to "That's Love"/"This is Love" featuring SJM's Henry. Hae really suits the R&B type songs. It's a pity it's unknown within the kpop circle, as it's cpop, but it's a lovely song.

On a sentimental note, I'm very proud of Hae. For their live comeback performances he has been surprising me with his voice control. He sang very well, usually by the 2nd stanza, Hae's winded, but he's done very well so far for all the SFS performances. I couldn't be more proud of him. Especially considering how he's doing all this in the middle of drama filming. Poor baby must be exhausted. And I love how they've dressed him so far for the From U performances. Unbuttoned dress shirt + jeans. Unf. A man has never looked so good as Hae does there. Then again, he usually looks hot in whatever they put him in.

My thoughts on Kangin's comeback and the lack of hoopla is probably because dude rushed this comeback and he's clearly, really out of shape. In the MV and the stages, he's barely keeping up with the choreo. I give him kudos for the rushed comeback tho. He was only released from the army this March. But, he's a step slower than everyone else (okay, a lot of steps slower) which is probably why SM's hiding him in the back most of the time. Still, it's clear his presence is energizing the boys, because since Heechul left for the army, their numbers have been dwindling, especially with Leeteuk bound for the army soon and Siwon missing comeback stages due to drama commitments. When they performed at SMTownLA this May, only 8 members were there T__T just like SMTownNY. I felt your pain there. I heart Hae bby, but I was looking forward to some chocolate ShiAbs. But charismatic Hae more than made up for Siwon's absence.

Linus said...

I'm really digging both the song and the video, and after listening to it for a week I can almost play the song without getting annoyed by the "Bingo".

Naturally I am thrilled that my future husband is back with the gang, even though (as you said) they could've played that part up a little.

And, as always, poor Shindong. Never gets any real parts and always ignored by the camera. He could've taken one (or all) of Eunhuyk's verses! Yeah I'm sorry Mel, but the dude is by far my least favorite. #PleaseDontKillMe

Mel said...

Anon - I heart you. Please comment on my KPOP posts more often. ;) Poor Kyu. LOL.

Mel said...

Linus - I hear you with the overload of Eunhyuk love. It's like out of nowhere homeboy is stealing all the glory. I'm not complaining per say, but it's not quite as fair to say, Shindong, who can dance just as excitingly, or even Yesung who can sing circles around just about all of them.

Mel said...

Oh VforVera - are we Twitter buddies? WE NEED TO BE. @melismaticdiva -- I need another person to spazz about FishyHaeBaby with!! <3 <3 for your essays, keep 'em coming!

I agree, I couldn't be happier that they are giving him more face time - I almost feel spoiled by the excess! A part of me is hoping his outfits get even sexier for the SFS stages. ;)

VforVera said...

Hi Mel!

I'd be honored! Let's be twitter buddies! @vforvintagevera

I also have a tumblr, just in case you have one too. tumblr is also vforvintagevera. tumblr's great for donghae stanning xD

Have you seen the recent SNL Korea episode with Super Junior? It's hilarious! If you can understand Korean without English subtitles, definitely watch it. There's some priceless Donghae moments. Here's the raw on youtube:

Follow Me on Instagram via @melismaticdiva