SNSD/Girls' Generation - "I Got A Boy"

I've had some time to mull over and think this review through, but honestly I'm still not totally convinced that it's a method that works for me. I get easily swayed by other people's opinions, and sometimes I'm even scared for what some people will think of mine, so for the most part my single reviews come from impulses and lightbulb moments. It's only after those moments that I think everything through. So this is a bit different from my usual style.

When I heard that the production team behind "I Got A Boy" was the same one behind "Genie", which is easily my favorite Korean release from SNSD, of course I was excited. I was excited despite the fact that "Dancing Queen" (for which I wrote a full review for but didn't publish D:) was a disappointment, because "Genie" was both a song, and a sound that I loved for SNSD.

And for the first minute and a half, I was okay with everything. I mean I didn't worship it, but it was competent, and it had substance. The delivery was good, the production strong, and the sound was that compromise I was looking for in "Dancing Queen". It carried SNSD, and the girls' vocals carried themselves. But then that part ended abruptly and I was left going "...what."

To the song's defense, none of the parts are bad -- they're actually quite good taken alone. The main half of the song, the chorus/hook is the girly with substance kind that I really like and that I wish they would stick to in Korea, because it's easy enough to sing, but also something that they do very well. The other half of the song, the pop/rock-influenced verses, are spunky pop that are strong enough to mask whatever vocals flaws they have, while being simple enough for them to carry with brevity. The rap parts are interesting considering they're coming from SNSD, and they give the very saccharine sweet part some kick. And then the part at 3:47, the break-down of sorts before the last chorus, has a gorgeous melody. All the melodies are gorgeous actually -- that hook made me smile -- and the production is really top-tier.

The problem is, "I Got A Boy" isn't the album sampler that it sounds like -- it's one song. Honestly, the first time I heard this I had to check the official track listing to check if I downloaded a version that accidentally merged some kind of intro with the real song. And then just in the last paragraph, if you notice I had such a hard time identifying the parts. Not just because of the unconventional structure (because that's not always a bad thing), but because there are so many sounds and I kind of lost track of where the song was at already.

If you think DBSK lead singles are confused, then "I Got A Boy" is confused and drunk or high. Or no actually, it's confused, drunk and high. I tried all of the possible means to make it sound good -- I watched videos of it, I listened to it for a day -- but all they did was make the line between the elements clearer.

My theory at the moment is that "I Got A Boy" sounds like a bigger mess than it should've been because the transitions aren't as natural as they could've been. But then again, with elements like that it's pretty hard to make them natural. Still, my point is that there is a right way to do contrast and variety, and that thinking out of the box doesn't exempt a song from sounding cohesive. If you're going to be different, go all the way, be my guest, but make it clear that you're not just throwing different sounds together and calling them "different" for the sake of it.

Personally, it would've been so much better if they stuck maybe eight, or even just four, bars of the first verses in between an extended version of the part that sounds like the hook as a middle 8 of sorts, like what happened in the dance break DBSK's "Rising Sun". It would have been a fresh break from the very girly, but also short and concentrated enough to pack a contrasting punch.

I was talking to a friend a while ago, and that friend was saying that the lyrics are kind of the driving force behind this song, and good for them for getting good lyrics, but as far as I'm concerned, the only thing that matters in the lyrics is how they work in relation to the sound of the song, which means pronunciation, line construction, rhyme, meter, stuff like that. Which is why even if the lyrics tell a unified "story", it doesn't necessarily mean that the sound tells one just as cohesive. And in this case, it doesn't.

But honestly, like other SMP stuff, I have no idea if this will get better with time or if this just needs to simmer for a while longer. That's the thing with music, my review was pretty black and white and I focused more on what it is in relation to what it sounds like than I did on what it sounds like in relation to how it works. I might warm up to it, I might not, people might start liking it, or they might bury this song right after promo, and right now, at least for me, it depends on factors no one can control.

2.5/5

27 comments:

  1. "I Got A Boy" and "Dancing Queen" is utterly disappointing. What's with all the failed rapping? SNSD does not have a decent rapper, SM should have learnt this after the attempt in "The Boy". Clearly SM haven't learnt their lesson. These two songs are all over the place. It's really sad because the rest of the album is good, but if I wasn't a keen listener, I would have given up after listening to the whole album after "Dancing Queen". I love "Lost In Love" and "Promise" (I am a sucker for ballads). Yes, these ballads aren't too exceptional but I love them. As for the more upbeat songs, "Baby Maybe" is a good listen.

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  2. I feel like SM is trying to move SNSD on from the cutesy style they had but have gone about it wrong, to stop being cute you don't have to do a full turn and start rapping. I think their Japanese albums are very good, especially the latest one, it's more like electric, fun pop, it's not cutesy and it fits SNSD this song was just... it was a mess the first time I heard it and I tried to listen to it all day yesterday but nothing has changed.

    I personally hated most parts to the song, except Tiffany and Taeyeons (middle 8?) part. I think this song is more about visuals, I HOPE it is anyway because by itself I think it fails.

    I did however like Dancing Queen, but I liked the original song and SNSD didn't totally murder it.

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  3. Ugh, this has to be the worst SNSD song I have ever listened to. I would take "Oh" and "Kissing you" any day over this cluster chaos of a song. One thing that I have always liked about SNSD is that they were one of those few girl groups that are famous without a rapper! Seriously SME? Why make the girls rap when most of them sound worst than Amber? I thought Tiffany was fired from rapping, but apparently not. I was cringing every time they said "Ayo GG" or "Here comes trouble!" Even worse than Tiffany rapping was YoonA rapping. Ugh, both those girls are too "sweet" to rap, but at least Tiffany has some attitude where as YoonA was trying this cutesy shtick while trying to sound "hood." If anyone one was to rap in SNSD I would rather have Hyo because at least she is not cringe worthy. Bottom line is that SNSD all suck at rapping so no.... just no.


    As for the rest of the song, it had some good components and different hip-pop/dubstep sounds that actually would have been pretty cool, however, I detested the hook for some reason. Due to the poor arrangement, structure, and composition of the song, it was so chaotic, I could not keep up with it and therefore tuned out at the very end. The transitions left the song feeling incomplete, and its only saving grace was the middle eight. This song really is a hot mess, but it irks me on how it had the potential to be good. Even though this song appears different and tries to be bold, the rest of the album sounds like SNSD's old stuff. This is why I'm a fan of Shoujo Jidai as a opposed to their korean stuff. Why does every song need a gimmicky concept? Why can't they just a release a good song no matter where they are? Their japanese stuff is mature yet playful, sexy yet classy and feminine.

    Also the music video is awkward and the only ones working this concept is Hyoyeon, Sunny, Yuri, and maybe Sooyoung. The others look awkward or they're too prim to do gritty music.

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  4. LOL. I may be a SONE but some of the comments just sound flat out comical. SNSD is the group everyone loves to hate, and if there's one glaring weakness to this song, it's that it opened the door for all kinds of brainless bashing because it's way over the head of people who are incapable of digesting the song.

    Oh, and I absolutely love it when people who know absolutely no Korean, know absolutely nothing about hip-hop, and know absolutely nothing about rapping comment on who are good and bad rappers. Because their assessments are always 100% accurate. Take Yoona's rap for example, her rap line says "I’m surprised, mental collapse! He wants to see my face without makeup. I really like him, would it be okay to show it to him?" Look, I don't know jack about rapping but I'm SURE that line would sound absolutely perfect if it was all "hood" and "rough".

    No one is saying these girls are great rappers, but if you say they suck, why don't you name a few people who are actually good at rapping. If you start listing designated rappers in idol groups then please just go bury yourself. It's easy to hate, I understand, it requires no effort, no thinking, all you have to do is flame away and look like a hero because, well, the bandwagon of "I Got A Boy Sucks" is pretty big right now. Keep drinking the haterade, it won't make anyone who likes the song feel any worse, it only makes you look more pressed.

    To Nikki: Great review, one of the most level-headed, fair, and technical reviews I've read. I respect the opinion of people who actually gave the song a real shot and still didn't like it. You're way more awesome than anyone who can't even get past the first listen. Cheers.

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    Replies
    1. With all due respect, I get what your saying, but on the other hand, the commentators are allowed to express their dislike for the song. Personally, I did not like it because I felt overwhelmed listening to it. Flat out, the arrangement just was poor, but there were some components of the song that I really liked. But the song just didn't know what it was. It was trying to be too many things at once.

      However, just because its Hip-hop, it doesn't mean that they need to rap. Let's face it SNSD aren't good rappers nor is any girl group really with exception of B.E.G, EXID's LE, etc.

      For an example, Yuri has a nice, smooth voice that would work . I get that the girls were trying something different and by all means do so, because they are that this point where they should want to experiment. Technically, this is better than Suju who keeps releasing Sorry Sorry each year. However, most of the girls just looked awkward performing this song...the only ones who seemed to work it was Hyo, Yuri, Sunny, and Sooyoung in my opinion.


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    2. Agreed - I actually think Sooyoung, Yuri and Hyoyeon are fairly good at rapping, but whoever let Yoona and Tiffany rap needs to be smacked. (They've actually got it listed as: Tiffany - main rapper, and Sooyoung and Hyoyeon - lead rappers. AUGH.) Secondly, whoever decided to give Tiffany the focus also needs to be smacked - she's suddenly shooting up in screentime/lines (as Yoona and Jessica have done before her), which just unbalances SNSD further.

      In my opinion, I found that the song was better without the music video. There's a couple of remixes that omit the weird Tiffany section, which makes the whole song sound much more cohesive.

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    3. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I never said in my comment that they're not allowed to be expressed here. I'm not even defending the song, for the record I agree with a lot of the criticism. But just like you, people who like the song are also allowed to have an opinion, it shouldn't be a one-way street and the feeling I get here and everywhere is this "I Got A Boy Sucks" bandwagon is trying so hard to make people dislike it by putting the song and SNSD down in an irrational manner.

      As I stated, I just don't think a vast majority of Kpoppers are qualified to assess anybody's rapping skills. Arguments between people who don't speak Korean AND don't know anything about hip-hop & rap usually go nowhere and it's a waste of time not to mention unintelligent. If you guys read this blog and look up to Nikki for her opinion, you should know she stated many times that rap is not her area of expertise and rarely does she ever comment on who's a good rapper and who's not. I've taken the same approach and I don't ever comment on people's rapping skills, and I'll never label SNSD as "good rappers", I'm not that delusional. Stick to what you hear, if you don't like how the rap parts sound, that's your opinion and it's perfectly fine, but please just leave it at that unless you speak Korean and consider yourself a rap expert.

      Few people who denounced this song went to the lengths of this review. Even though this isn't a favorable review, and Nikki is far from an SNSD fan, she still pointed out positive things and elements she liked. It'd be nice if people were more logical and objective with their criticism, instead of just dishing out pure hate with little substance in their critique. Finally, I'm not here to change anyone's mind about the song because I respect different opinions, and I really appreciate those who gave the song a shot but still didn't like it and took the time to write reasonable and constructive comments here.

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    4. I'll be harsh. Ive been a SONE from the start and ill always support the girls, but SM is practically leaving then out to dry with these outrageous promotional songs. Maybe I'm a traditionalist who believes "K-POP" should be about infectious tunes, catchy dances and conceptually simplistic. Its like saying you want to be the next picasso and your paint splatters constitute art. I really hope SM doesnt continue this trend... although Shinee Medusa follows that trend...

      As for the rapping, be honest, SNSD is bad in that category. Most groups have a "designated" rapper regardless of how good they are. SNSD has none and their songs should reflect that. You don't need to be a rap expert to realize that. Theres a reason why nearly every song in SNSD's arsenal does not include a rap up to recently.

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  5. monmonsnow did a great job piecing together the best parts of the song and ditching the horrendous raps n stuff. the remix made the whole song flow better... this original one is just messy and they do not fit this grungey concept at all.

    SME needs better producers...

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  6. I agree with this Review. I thought the parts were good and the vocals was great but honestly this song was a total mess. Changing it up every miunte and going from one style to another will confuse the viewers. Maybe next time they should double check on the song before releasing it. Also the other songs in their album has potential to top the charts. Too bad they didn't use it. I'm a Wonderfuls who listens to SNSD and never makes a negative judgement on their songs. This time I was more then disappointed. Good Luck SNSD.

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  7. I agree 100% with this post. The parts by themselves were very good, amazing to be honest, but when they added it up altogether, I just had that "Wow, what exactly did I just listen to?" reaction.I think if they had just taken out a few main tracks and concentrated on them like a normal song, it would have been much better. I appreciate that SM it trying to come up with something different now (SHINee's Sherlock and now this) but to be honest I'm not really into this songception thing because I have no idea what I'm listening to. This was a really hot mess.

    Btw I watched the live performance and I must say it was pretty damn good, but only because there was dancing and colours and costumes and other visual elements to take away the focus from the song itself. It's a good marketing strategy I guess, because the performance was incredibly eye-catching (given that since this is their comeback stage some of the members haven't yet transformed into sloths on stage - you know who I'm talking about) and can attract a lot of people, but for a person like me who puts more emphasis on the music itself, this is never getting into my iPod playlist. I find it really quite disorienting to the ears. This is a complete disappointment.

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  8. When I first heard this song I admit I was a little thrown off because it's really not something I'd expected to hear from SNSD. But I do not consider it by any means a bad song. The song could definitely do with a little more polishing but I think the various elements are really refreshing, catchy and bold. As someone who listens to pretty much every genre of music, I enjoy the abrupt changes in dynamics, which is present in some progressive metal or experimental jazz music.

    Of course, from a strictly pop and mass market standpoint I agree this song can be rather difficult for many to digest. I think what SM is trying to do is really shift the focus of kpop by trying something very different, which I think could have been done in a more progressive manner than the introduction of this sudden drastically different sound. They could have also done a lot better by employing this idea throughout the rest of the album instead of just one song, which I feel makes a listener feel rather cheated.

    While I think IGAB is a good song, I think that SNSD's second Japanese LP which I consider to be an incredible record, is a much better route to take and is really innovative without being alienating and a great example of what they can achieve musically.

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  9. This is one of those songs where I won't even remember the verses, it really did feel like listening to a lengthened album teaser.

    I ended up listening to a remake from a youtuber, and really enjoy it. Check out "SNSD - I Got A Boy (Remake)".

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  10. The constant changes in structure reminds me of 'Biology' by Girls Aloud. I wonder if people who like that song like this one, and vice versa?

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  11. For the whole week i read so many reviews about igab. Most of them were either too biased or too much hatred. Your review is the best so far.

    When i first watched the teaser, it gave me high expectation that this will be epic. But it turn out to be the worst disappointment of new year ever. I waited for more than a year to get this . What a sad new year.
    The song can be said a goid song if it meant to be an album teaser. I still wish sm will release a song from each oart one day.

    I had build so much

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  12. The song for me is not catchy. I still prefer the old songs of GG :( IMO.

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  13. I'm not much of an snsd fan but I'm a kpop fan. When I heard IGAB for the first time I was shocked. I didn't like it at all and I honestly thought that it didn't suit them at all I was already very disappointed by the boys and I was a bit surprised that such a popular group would push something that doesn't suit them at all. But then I kept listening to it and it kind of grew on me. It's really catchy in my opinion and I thoughtless that it was a fun song. I liked it at the end. Do I think it's a good song? Not the best for sure, but I don't rhino that it's a bad one either.

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  14. I am not a fan of them but i am listening to their music like Gee, Genie, Oh, The Boys and others.
    But this one made me a shocked.
    Sorry for others who are liking this video but this one was quite disappointing for me.

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  15. I'm not a fan a of SNSD but I do keep with the latest kpop songs and all I can say is that this song lacked so much consistency and that really bothered me. I mean the choreography is pretty cool. I like the concept of the sneakers and the bright colors, but that concept doesn't suit them well. And the song honestly is just too all over the place.

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  16. SM ent. just wanted to make some difference.. their song is quite good.. its what I think powerful..
    people would get bored listening to their song with the same concept every year.. their rapping skills are not that bad either although they can't compete with all the other rappers..
    this song is all over the place because a majority of people likes it.. its very catchy.. ^^ I Love It..

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  17. Lol no matter what anybody says about the song, GG is still and always will be popular... I mean seriously, the girls could be singing in nursery rhymes and they would still top the charts because they're SNSD. I'm a huge fan of the girls, but I don't love them because of the music they produce. I mean, yeah, SNSD has always released great songs and they almost never fail to disappoint me (except with "Oh!", which was too cutesy for me to like) but it's the members that make them so popular. The group is made of 9 completely different girls, so it's hard not to find at least 1 to like. I think if this was any other girl group who performed the song, it would be a total failure. Even SNSD themselves didn't like this song at their first few listens of it. But they rose up to the challenge and executed the song and choreography well. But honestly, I read the lyrics and was totally confused. I think if I understood Korean, then I would absolutely hate the song because the lyrics are so immature. Seriously SM, when can you let the girls grow up? You've raised them into women who still give off an aegyo and cutesy vibe. I love these girls to death and they are all so beautiful, talented, and hilarious in their own ways. It's nice that they are with Korea's largest management agency, however, the company needs to realize that these girls aren't helpless, rookie teenagers anymore. They are women, and SNSD has worked long and freaking hard enough to earn a music style that suits their age. Hyoyeon herself said it makes her cringe that she's 24 years old and still has to dance around and sing like a 10 year old. Nevertheless, GG will always be popular no matter what they do and how they build up their careers. After all, they are the pros and queens of K-Pop, so I believe that they should live up to their title. No matter what they do, my fellow SONEs will always be here for the, until the very end.

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  18. I'm not a SNSD fan, but I listen to their music and generally I find the whole album I got a boy came on to be very interesting. I liked I got a boy exactly for the very same "it's so different" quality. Reminds me of really 90s kpop stuff SM Ent put out back then, like the weirdly echo'y We are the Future. Usually I find SNSD songs kind of bland, with the exception of nearly the whole first Japanese album, which was also interesting because it was darker and more edgy. Generally I think k-pop in 2012 and 2013 is going through a shift: idol bands are not as popular anymore, the Japanese market is unstable as well and people are tired of the box set electro dance stuff.
    On a side note, I don't know that much about rapping, but to me K-pop raping sounds fine and so does the rapping in I Got a Boy. Can someone explain why the rapping is bad? Is it not clear enough or is it the way that rapping is used to part different messages then in American hiphop culture?

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    1. I can see that the members of SNSD have gone through training to learn how to rap and show technical skill - however, the women in this group have clear, pristine voices, and up until a certain point, they were marketed as cute and "sweet". For a lot of people, this is not a combination that fits well into a hip-hop concept. This whole "Ay yo GG, let me put it down another way for my OPPAR" is a understandably cringe-worthy for some (BTW, in hip-hop, we "break" it down, not put it down).

      SNSD doesn't have to continue on the aegyo route; Run Devil Run and Hoot are good examples of them growing up but this abrupt switch to this cute/sweet/tough/sassy rapping group is really unconvincing. I'm American and I respect the skills of Big Bang, 2NE1, Miryo, Block B, Tasha, Zinger (Hana?), Yubin, etc. but uh... SNSD's skills are in a different area.

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  19. A mí me encanta esta canción, de hecho es una de mis favoritas de SNSD. No me importa lo que los demás piensen de esta canción porque yo seguiré pensando que esta canción es una de las mejores. En mi opinión tiene un ritmo pegajoso y una excelente coreografía que ha sido interpretada y bailada por muchos, y SNSD está compuesto por cantantes excelentes y capaces, y no cualquier principiante. Por esa razón NO creo que los productores de la SM no son personas competentes. Un grupo de cantantes y bailarinas como lo son SNSD no debe cerrarse sólo en un género musical, sino ofrecer a sus fans variedad y no monotonismo

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  20. i loved their rap and dance i loved the song...the boys and i got a boy are actually done well but it depends on ones own taste for liking music...dont criticize them...we cant even do this.. if you dont like the song its fine but dont bash them, their music is good...and there are more people who loves them,their music,and their talent...its not just because of good looks these girls topped...please understand it...i'm not trying to hurt the ones who criticized them but please dont underestimate them sones love so nyeo shi dae

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  21. This whole album was a dissapointment for me. The only song that made some sort of sense was "Promise" and even that was a small miracle.

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