[#18] Girls' Day - "Expect" (기대해)

From: "Expect"
Released: March
Territory: South Korea
Previous Best of Entries: First Appearance
Other notable song(s) from 2013: "Don't Mind", "Easy Go", "White Day", "Female President"

If you asked me back in 2010 if I ever thought Girls' Day would make it into the top 20 of my year-end countdown in a few years, I'd laugh and say obviously they won't. But here we are, with "Expect" at #18 this year. Girls' Day had a pretty good year material-wise, actually, "Female President" was a strong release as well (the deal-breaker was that they sounded horrible when they performed it live), but "Expect" was the one that started it all.

"Expect" is a pop song through and through, and it's a pop song clearly made for a girl group with minimal vocal competence. But what put it on this year's list is how it went about becoming a pop song, and how it made Girls' Day sound good.

Obviously the burden lies with the melody, and it carried that burden the best it could. The melodic lines are both short and repetitive at the verses and bridges -- no member gets anything longer than 2 or 3 short lines at a time so lots of breathing time, and lots of chances for the members to catch each other's falls and recover. The chorus is the same thing, it's basically just all "ooh ooh ooh"s with two repetitive lines in between. But that serves an aesthetic purpose as well, as all this passing around of the melody makes the song sound faster and more urgent than it actually is had one person sang entire verses or bridges. The treatment of the vocals did a lot too (as was made obvious by their live performances), the most obvious of which was the chorus -- triple, quadruple tracking of the vocals gave them a fuller, more intense sound.

So now, as a pop song that works, "Expect" does have some really great moments. The melody itself, technical aspects aside, is actually really pretty. The graceful verses work really well juxtaposed against the firmly simmering bridges, and the transition between them was very well-done -- snappy but not shocking. And while the chorus is highly repetitive, but it's actually really short so there are enough variations to not seem annoying for at least the first two choruses. The synth lines are also really pretty, as is the bass line, the combination of the two reminds me a lot of (non-Eurotrash), melodic, Swedish pop. The synths give the song the style, and the thumping bass line gives it kick and urgency.

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