Playing Catch-Up Part 1: Girl Groups dominate July comebacks

I'm horrible at this blogging-on-a-regular-basis thing, aren't I? I'm sorry for not being around -- I thought this mid-year break would be perfect to get back into the groove, but with my (amazing!) internship, The K-Pop Writers' Workshop duties and thesis year jitters raging I've been swamped! No complaints though, because these past few months have been memorable in all the right ways. But anyway, as a last-ditch effort to get some blogging done before senior year starts in less than two weeks -- it's time to play catch up!

This will be a multi-part series (hopefully!), because I have a ton to catch up on. If I don't cover something you'd like to see reviewed, send me a question on Your questions there actually helped me get back into the blogging mindset, so keep them coming!

Fiestar - "One More"

After a promising 2012 and a mediocre 2013, Fiestar is doing pretty well. "One More" sounds like the in-your-face sibling of SISTAR's "Alone," which I personally prefer, to be honest. "One More" has dynamics -- it has the sexy, racy femininity in the airy melodies and seductive hooks, but there is also an intensity to it courtesy of the heavy instrumentation, the thumping bass line and the defined percussion. The melody does tend to sound cheap at points, but the chorus and hooks have extremely strong recall, and are easy to sing along to. And to a certain extent it's that hint of cheesiness that gives "One More" a guilty pleasure-angle that definitely works nicely into the whole racy concept.

SISTAR - "Touch My Body"

It's good to see SISTAR really come into their own, i.e., not being pretentious about their brand of girl group pop, and it's even better to see it continue. "Touch My Body" is light in theory, with the production taking advantage of the girls' thin vocals and turning it into crisp vocal treatment, with double-tracking and medium-intensity processing. But what I like is how the lightness was contrasted with something like a brass section -- brass like a trumpet, by nature, is heavy and is used to give weight to a light song in lieu of a bass line, but I like how in this particular case the brass line (the notes themselves) are light and it adapts an almost piano-like sense of playfulness. You still have the weight of the brass to a certain extent which counters the thin elements, but it's just as fresh as the rest of the song so it blends well into the arrangement. As a whole "Touch My Body" is one of those well-produced, well-composed cheesy-by-nature songs that I'll probably be putting on my "guilty pleasures" playlist right next to "One More!"

Girls' Day - "Darling"

This is such a let-down after three straight strong singles -- I mean I knew the Girls' Day high was bound to end some time, I just didn't expect it to be this early. It reminds me a lot of a low-budget version "Touch My Body" -- you have the playfulness, the light melody and instrumentation, and even the brass line. But while "Touch My Body" has strong, nearly top-quality production to make up for an average song, "Darling" doesn't -- and it shows. Everything is less confident, less intense, and the sense of dynamics (i.e., the juxtaposition of loud and soft sounds) is not as pronounced. "Darling" is too light, too playful, that instead of floating in girl group summer single-fashion it kind of just flies away. It also sounds like a string of other songs -- Secret's "Shy Boy," and at times I also thought I was listening to a Christmas single and not a summer release. Would I listen to this again? Maybe, but I won't go out of my way for it.

In part 2, hopefully sometime this week, I'll catch up on the deluge of SM comebacks including f(x), J-Min, Henry, and a new Japanese song from SNSD!


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