Pop Cult: f(x), Big Bang, Mighty Mouth
Knee-jerk reactions (the best kind) to pop culture happenings all over the world.Posted by Allen Huang
Pop Cult: Slow Week Edition
(It’s all K-Pop this week because “Call Me Maybe” is still #1 in the US and “We Are Fun” is still in the top 10.)
f(x) – Electric Shock : B+
SM Entertainment, the biggest and most successful of the K-Pop agencies, has always felt like a victim of their own success. While the fortunes of groups like Girls Generation and Super Junior can’t be denied, they always seem to play it much more safe than say YG Entertainment (2NE1, Big Bang) or Cube (4Minute). Catchy, but accessible. Poppy, but not adventurous. Disappointingly predictable. Even when images are drastically reinvented, the sounds stay pretty much near the middle of the road.
f(x) is a special case. Their sole purpose seems to be to directly combat the edgier, street-savvy sounds of groups like 2NE1 and 4Minute. And, like the aforementioned rival groups, f(x) seems to be slowly but surely finding their ground.
Their newest single “Electric Shock” has some holes in it. The breakdowns aren’t compelling. There’s no real structured hook. But the beat and the dance are top notch (love that handclap metronome during the pre-chorus), and I love how they throw in those harmonics that SM does so well. The rest of the album is great too. And that Prodigy tank top is simply baller as hell. Firestarters, indeed.
Big Bang – Monster : C-
And these guys were doing so well too!
“Monster” is kind of, well, an ugly thing of a song. Despite its ferocious title, Big Bang’s newest single is a cheap little ballad that starts off on an awkward foot and never really recovers. The euro-trance payoff in the chorus doesn’t merit us waiting around for thirty seconds, leaving us wondering when the real part of the song is going to kick in. Add the irritating video complete with awful shaky-cam and reject bin costume choices and you’re not doing the song any favors.
Only thing that could possibly save it is all-star members G-Dragon and T.O.P. trading bars, proving again that these two are still the most compelling and complete “rappers” in the K-Pop world. I wish they’d come out with a new side-album already. And speaking of rapping…
Mighty Mouth ft. Soya – Bad Boy : B
More like speaking of “rapping.” Korea’s mastered the art of the “pop-rap” faster than anyone expected. This is textbook right here: a gleeful, bouncy teen beat wrapped with the lyrics of two dudes who are more concerned with goofy platitudes and outfit changes than pushing the medium along. Mighty Mouth sport no chip on their shoulder and have no concerns of low-browness or high-browness of their act. There is just pure devotion to the power of the hook: the beauty of pop.
“Bad Boy” (just how many songs from Korea have been named “Bad Boy” this year?) never lets up from the get go; Soya’s vocal line is just as big and powerful as anything the Mighty Mouth dudes come up with. But things never seem to be laid on too thick. Can a pop song be both light as a feather and thick as a board at the same time? “Bad Boy” comes close.