Okay, since this was a pretty big release this month, and it is from one of my favourite boybands, I feel obliged to talk about it. Firstly, let’s discuss the lead single and get it out of the way and then never come back to it.
Actually no, first, let’s discuss the mastermind behind the lead single. Hitchhiker. I don’t like Hitchhiker, simply because he doesn’t impress me. He got it right somehow with Brown Eyed Girl’s Abracadabra, which is probably the one song where all his random elements come together to create an interesting and engaging pop song, but other than that everything hes done has been uninteresting, monotonous, and uninspired. I don’t mind if a composer sticks to one style, but in Hitchhiker’s case, his style is frankly consistently unimpressive and unprofound (see: Ice Cream, Visual Dreams, Show Show Show). Ironically one of his better tracks is found on the B-Side of Super Junior’s Mr. Simple album, White Christmas. Nothing spectacular, but it shows Hitchhiker is at his prime when he gives up the electro wannabe-ness and goes back to his roots.
So keeping all that in mind, let’s talk about A-Cha shall we?
To put it delicately, A-Cha (the lead single) is an atrocity. If it was released a few months prior to now, I may have given it a 3.2+ simply because ‘it’s going to be a hit’ or ‘it’s fun’ or ‘it’s catchy’, but I’m done with fluffing over SM’s mediocre releases by consoling myself with the fact they’d gain mainstream appeal. No more compromising myself in order to give any song a chance, so basically I’m just going to discuss A-Cha for what it truly is.
It’s not that there’s too much going on. Because no, essentially nothing is going on. There’s no sophisticated instrumental, no flurry of vocals, just nothing. A-cha’s instrumental consists of randomly placed loud staccatos of static which are overlayed with some strange kind of talk-chanting-voice-deformation. Three seconds in and I knew I couldn’t possibly take this song seriously, it’s too loud, too congested, and clearly Super Junior aren’t taking it very seriously either if the ‘vocals’ are anything to go by.
The vocal processing during the verses, oh dear, just, oh dear. It’s not as if the verses weren’t poorly structured enough, and that the members weren’t sing-talking ridiculously enough, but they needed to add an unnecessary and headache inducing layer of vocal processing on top of it. I genuinely can not distinguish any of the voices during the verses. Apparently the first couple of alternating lines are uttered by Sungmin and Donghae, lines 1 and 3 are growled by Sungmin, and lines 2 and 4 are burped by Donghae. If this is true, then congratulations SM for making two of the more distinguishable voices in Super Junior unrecognizable *slow clap*. Of course I can’t forget to mention the bridge, which isn’t anything special, just over-processed chanting coupled with the song’s basal instrumental. It was possibly only put in place to give Shindong something to do.
If I had to list some positives of A-Cha, then I’d have to say at least the pre-chorus seems to consist of something resembling singing. But that shouldn’t be a song’s highlight, it should be a song’s bloody standard. But then we have the chorus, which isn’t too horrendous. The hook is chanted with conviction, and the little interceptions of actual vocals are a nice contrast to it. The small guitar rift (the only rock influence on this self-proclaimed ‘electro-rock’ track) is a very nice addition I’ll have to admit. Maybe if you listened to the chorus on its own, with the instrumental toned down by 50 decibels, you’d think this song has something resembling substance.
Of course these positives are only really picked up on after about 7 listens, and that isn’t good enough, because it’s difficult to even get through it the first time around. And let’s face it- would I put this song continuously on repeat if it was by just any band? Of course not. Because at first listen all you really comprehend is the fact the vocals and instrumental are in some kind of competition with each other, and I don’t know about everyone else, but I kind of felt like a third wheel. *pouts*
Of course, I can’t completely forego the fact someone, somewhere, is going to find this garrish, detached, noisy track catchy. So I’m not going to go ahead and give it a 0.6/5 like I oh so want to.
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The rest of the repackaged however, is surprisingly very pleasant.
‘Oops!!‘ has got to be my favourite song from the repackaged, it’s just bursting with flair and conviction. If I had to choose one word to describe this song, then it’s quirky. The beats are well defined enough for you to notice them, but not so much that they drowns out the rapping. Can everyone just take a minute and listen to the instrumental, how subtle it is, but how effective it is overall. It truly shines just when the song is about to reach the chorus, where it builds up but never quite reaches a climax. Which is cool, because in this case it doesn’t need a climax. The vocals in the chorus are the climax.
I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the fact the boys wrote their own raps. Of course these boys aren’t the best rappers in the industry, so their rapping definitely lacks components to really make it pro. Which is essentially the song’s greatest fault, you can tell these rappers aren’t actual ‘rappers’. But you can’t deny that although they probably lack flow and all those other things I’m blissfully ignorant of, they have character. And that’s what really brings this song out, the character. You don’t need to read the translations to guess what these boys are raving about. All the little references in the song, although cheesy, are very amusing (did I hear Choi Siwon uttered somewhere?). This song is just filled to the brim with cheesy, fun, attitude, which is really all I can ask from a rap song by Super Junior. (Also, I want to praise Eunhyuk, because for a manufactured rapper his rapping is well… really engaging.)
I need to give props to f(x). Their vocals have something, something like attitude and flair which really adds to this song. Attitude. That’s what I’m guessing SM wanted to go for when it came down to f(x), and I’m guessing its what they’ve been failing at as of late. Oops!! does a better job at being a f(x) song than any of f(x)’s actual songs do.
And because to truly appreciate this song you actually do need to read the lyrics, here they are. It’s essentially Super Junior’s ‘stick it to the hater’s song’. Quoting some of my favourite parts.
[EUNHYUK] “Don’t leave comments that say I live off of my face (I have singing skills that shadow my looks) ”
[LEETEUK] “I don’t like the law of gravity, or the continental drift theory. How can the whole world be one piece of land? My words are the truth, the law of the entire world.”
[HEECHUL] “I don’t look at girl’s faces, I’m better” … [SHINDONG] “But Hyung, you aren’t really bluffing.”
[SHINDONG] “The thing that just passed by was my pet cheetah. His name is Caesar, my mom’s chimpanzee.”
[DONGHAE] “Stop saying useless things
Here are the keys, now go get my car
My car is a super car that you’re jealous of
Our home is in LA, Las Vegas, Hollywood
Hawaii, Maldives, even Dubai
We travel even if there aren’t any planes
How? Because my car can fly- fly to the sky
The car wash is taking too long so I buy a new one
I can’t charge my card so I just buy a car
I just buy it, just buy it
My car is a roaring car that you guys roar about
Yo valet parking, I’m asking you
Hey, Mr.Simple “
I’m sorry, but Donghae’s rap is adorable, I had to paste the entirety of it. And yes, it is very cocky, but hey, these guys are Asia’s Superstars, let them be cocky once in a while.
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A Day isn’t the most interesting of ballads, but it’s pretty and sparkly. And it isn’t a bad song or anything, but it melds too well into all the other ballads the K-Entertainment industry loves cranking out. The instrumental has dynamic, but it isn’t interesting enough to keep someone like me, who finds most ballads redundant, interested. Kyuhyun and Ryeowook’s middle 8 definitely did stick out a bit though.
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Adante is kind of fantastic. The instrumental is very raw, it’s like you can almost hear the instruments being played in front of you. It’s simple, but the melody is pretty enough to carry the song on its own. The chorus is melodic and the band’s colourful and vibrant vocals really do bring the song out moreso than it already does. It climaxes beautifully at the end, with an ad-lib by Yesung and gorgeous harmonies all the way through. Basically, this whole song makes my heart flutter. Leeteuk and Henry have some very commendable skills when it comes to composing, and it makes me wish SM would showcase their artist’s… artistic abilities more (and in Leeteuk’s case it almost makes up for his lack of… other things). Because really, creating music is what truly makes someone stand out in an industry as redundant as K-Pop.
Also, have I mentioned how much I love Donghae’s voice. Because I do. And songs like these remind me of how much I adore the tone and colour of his voice- it’s so smooth and almost velvety. What he lacks in power he makes up for with a very nice timbre. Some may say dancing was Donghae’s gift, but I concur, his voice is the greatest gift this man has ever received. Too bad he has zero stamina and has yet to learn the art of dancing and singing simultaneously. Sorry, I can’t seem to praise Donghae without bringing up his cringe-worthy live vocals problem. ): My conscience won’t allow it.
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Favourite Song: Oops!!
Other Favourite: Adante
Nothing Special: A Day
Please Die: A-Cha
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Super Junior’s repackaged album on its own is a pleasant surprise, although I’m very cut up over the fact the lead single has got to be one of the most horrendous SM has picked up these past few years. Nonetheless, the B-Side songs have charm, and if this repackaged was a mini-album I’d give it something like a 4.3/5. But you can’t forget the fact it’s tied in conjunction to the original Mr. Simple album, which um, changes things significantly.