[#40] MBLAQ - "R U OK?"

Released: June
Territory: South Korea
Previous Best of Entries: 2011: [#18] "Mona Lisa" and "Mona Lisa" (mini-album) / 2012: [#13] "It's War"
Other notable song(s) from 2013: "No Love", "I Don't Know"

If I leaned towards Infinite between them and Teen Top, between B2ST and MBLAQ I was more of a B2ST person. Which explains my love-hate relationship for MBLAQ. They've had some genuinely great releases over the years, like "Cry" or "Mona Lisa," but I can never quite forget "Oh Yeah," and the array of other so-so singles. This year's "SEXY BEAT" basically summarized my mixed feelings for MBLAQ -- they're a hit-and-miss group for me.

But the one track that stood out from that EP was "R U OK?" There's a light-hearted, fun, groove to the song -- the piano/synth line is playful and in the upper registers, the drum line is constant and audible but ever to slightly scattered so the foundations of the song are lighter. MBLAQ's vocals are a bit grating, but half of the time the post-processing takes care of it, and the other half it's needed to contrast the instrumental and reinforce the drum line.

While it's no "Cry" or "This is War," this is I think one of the best-executed derivatives of the sound MBLAQ tried to push for a while -- that "classy," "sophisticated," slightly retro R&B/pop. Most of the time their attempts at it show that they don't have the refinement and grace to their performances that the nature of the song demands, which is why I was pleasantly surprised that "R U OK?" was delivered as well as it was.


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