[#37] MAMAMOO - "Mr. Ambiguous"

From: "HELLO"
Released: June
Territory: South Korea
Previous Best of Entries: First appearance
Other notable song(s) from 2014: n/a

As tempted as I am to outline everything that I find lacking with MAMAMOO's debut -- especially as someone extremely well-versed in Motown -- this is a "2014 Picks" review and not a "proper" review, I'm supposed to talk about what I like and why this is on the list.

So why MAMAMOO? Because I think they're a very important act and I think their debut single was a respectable shot at a Motown-esque sound. The technique is all there -- the drum rolls, the sax, the trumpet, the playful piano, the transitions, the effortlessness. This is proof that K-Pop has really captured the technical aspect of Motown. It's a solid effort, one of the best debuts this year actually -- especially for a girl group. It's creative, it's different, it's fresh and it's well-produced. It's so, so clean.

But "Mr.애매모호" would have ranked so much higher (maybe even in the Top 10), if it had one vital element in Motown -- soul. Depth, actual emotion. It's clean, but it's too clean. I mean it has captured the effortlessness of Motown, but it's so mechanical. You listen to it in comparison to Motown and MAMAMOO seems so flimsy compared even to more contemporary interpretations like "Dream Girls." There's zing, but no fire.

That said, "Mr.애매모호" is a noble try, and a song that was clearly well-though through, well-executed -- an important foundation for any group, which is precisely why they're on my Top 50. Now that they have the technical mastered, I expect the creativity and emotion to follow in their future releases.


  1. What was your impression of "Piano Man"? I felt it was a little more dynamic than "Mr. Ambiguous" and the rapper does not seem like an extraneous member unlike in the first song. I really appreciated their harmonies and their energy on stage.

    For this round of promotions, they actually modify their routines which is not seen often with idol groups. I know dance routines are difficult to modify especially with a lot of members, but slight variations/ad-libs would be nice. For many groups, once you've seen one live performance, you've seen them all pretty much.


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