[#3] f(x) - "All Night"

From: "Red Light"
Released: July
Territory: South Korea
Previous Best of Entries: 2009: "Lachata" / 2010: [#46] "Mr. Boogie" / 2011: [#32] "Hot Summer" / 2012: [#47] "Beautiful Stranger" / [#39] "Pretty Girl"
Other notable song(s) from 2014: "Rainbow", "Boom Bang Boom"

I find it weird whenever people tell me f(x)'s material is so "avant-garde" or that it's artistically superior, when stylistically, f(x) is the epitome of kitsch (but without the socio-economic implications of the term). It's not a bad thing to be kitschy in terms of style, and I feel like whenever people try to "elevate" f(x) by saying they're "artistic" they're being pretty pretentious. Andy Warhol is kitsch, Shakespeare was for peasants during his time and no self-respecting, high-ranked aristocrat would be caught dead watching his plays. What's so wrong with being pop? Isn't that what this whole industry sells? Of course there is good pop and bad pop, but to immediately dismiss the very music you listen to on the grounds of being "lowbrow" is a century-old argument that should be left in the past.

But rant aside, f(x) are at #3 this year, the highest they've ever been on my year-end countdowns, because I think they've finally reached their stylistic peak. And while a good half of "Red Light" is all over the place in terms of technical foundations, a gem like "All Night" is impossible to overlook.

"All Night" reminds me a lot of a slicker, more stylized version of Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" -- it sounds like a soundtrack for a movie about that time period. The layers and layers of specifically 80s synths, the spritely strings, the background vocals -- it's all very 80s. There's also, surprisingly, heat to the song -- it's hard to properly explain what "heat" is exactly, but it's sort of like how we experience flame. Most of the time all you get is the heat surrounding the actual flame, but on the off chance that you do actually touch it, your reflex is to jerk away from it. In terms of "All Night," for the most part what you hear is heat -- a slightly restrained, smooth, consistent arrangement that's pretty predictable -- but the transitions and string section give that zing with sharper, slightly out of character elements. Rather than the sensual kind on "Rock With You," it's more of a playful, mischievous heat. Innocent, "girls night out"-type "all night."

"All Night" is one of the rare times that K-Pop has attempted a foreign sound and actually succeeded with flying colors, and I attribute it to the fact that it's not a complete carbon copy of the "Rock With You" motif. The slick K-Pop treatment is still there, the simplicity of the melody and repetitive hook, but with the 80s groove and heat in its dynamics and instrumentation. Finally.



2 comments:

  1. I think the reason why some people regard f(x)'s material as avant garde is because they are included in very few idol group that usually (if not always) praised by music critic (especially Korean).
    *please forgive my bad english*

    ReplyDelete
  2. Since you usually rank f(x) pretty low on the countdowns, I was afraid that they wouldn't even be on the countdowns, even though you mentioned that you liked f(x)'s "All Night" in a previous post.
    I do agree with you, and I like this song.

    ReplyDelete

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