“A” by Rainbow; “Madonna” by Secret, “No Playboy” by Nine Muses; “No Need to Know” by JQT

the short of it: Four non-autotuned releases, each drifting towards a different style; but doing a whole 180 away from their first debut single, Rainbow takes this one with “A”.

I can only handle a certain number of releases from artists I don’t know. So this week, mediocre groups (in terms of popularity at least) like Rainbow, JQT and Secret pushing out follow-up singles and new group Nine Muses debuting, I got quite overwhelmed. So partly in order to be able to digest this, partly because I really didn’t want to go through all these girl groups’ albums and partly because there’s much to be mined from a comparison-contrast analysis on these four, I’m doing this thing on all their current singles

“No Playboy” by Nine Muses is written by JYP (notice similarities to the rap part of “Tell Me”), and is probably the most low-key song, meaning an almost bare dance-beat (as opposed to the many-layered “Lucifer” by SHINee for example). The low-registered sing-talking in the verses might be weird for some, but I can see how it could work for the song and concept, something like a Marilyn Monroe vibe.

“Madonna” by Secret is a song out of Beyonce’s first solo album: verses sung quickly and like a semi-rap. The chorus requires some sass to sing, which they barely pull off. The vocals are pretty decent, and I did enjoy somewhat that jazz band (see the MV), but as chariteee and samkpopsal pointed out (and demonstrated), the song is like a second version of “Magic”, their debut song.

“A” by Rainbow might sound like “Lupin” because both are composed by Han Jae Ho and Kim Seung Soo, the same DSP composers who wrote a lot of Kara’s songs. I will however say that I think “A” is the better version. Though I loved Lupin’s chorus, I thought it felt out of place with the rest of the song. “A” on the other hand, is strung together by a good fast beat and by those great oldie James Bond-esque guitar riffs, which are noticeable in the verses and are highlights in the chorus. The singing is alright but very catchy: it’s fast and doesn’t drag in most of the song. The downside is that it is the composition that does most of the work, the vocals never get amazing (it’s minimal vocal riffing in the end), and whatever they did to the latter part of the rap in the bridge to make it interesting made it worse.

“No Need to Know” by JQT might be the most Korean sounding song, and I mean this in the way that “Madonna” and “A” have a more apparently Western influence. There’s a way the chorus is sung slowly, and that high-pitched recorder-like sound that accompanies works for it. It’s a decent song, but it doesn’t stand out.

Now to talk about the concepts: I think that Rainbow’s concept is the weakest (I mean I know they’ve gone sexier, but really nothing else). The other three at least are memorable. Secret’s is the gold one, and I think it’s pretty unique. Though not as well done, JQT’s will remind many of 2NE1 or f(x), the sort of eccentric bubble-gum fashion. By now however, most people would have given that look to the two more established groups, and seeing it on others is just banal or, if you’re particularly possessive for the two groups, offensive. The Nine Muse concept is clearly the strongest here, taking the tried-and-tested sexy SNSD-ish route, plus they’ve evidently got the looks and bodies to pull it off.

Choreography-wise, JQT is the most flat, while Rainbow’s and Secret’s come up alright. As for the Nine Muse, well, it’s tricky. I can see it all working together: the mediocre but sexy-type song, simple choreography but accentuating in terms of their bodies and seductress-concept. The fail of it all? They can’t dance! They are neither synchronized nor sharp, and even come off as lazy. So what could have at least been sellable (I don’t think it was ever going to be quality, but sellable yes), just turned out horrible.

Vocals might go to Secret, mostly because “Madonna” was the only song that could show any vocal-prowess. The others are clearly meant to rely on something else, be it the composition or addictiveness of the song, or some other thing.

Putting it all together: weirdly, “A” is the win for me. “Madonna” and “No Need to Know” are mediocre as songs and/or concepts, and “Madonna” falls out of the race primarily because of how this song sounds too much like their first song. “No Playboy” could have worked, but the girls betrayed too much of their talentless-ness (those were quite the heinous debut stages), and the whole thing, already loaded with the barely-passable, just swan-dived into horrible-ness from there. I mean I’m already lowering my standards in terms of singing ability, it isn’t a lot to ask for decent dancing! Partly, Rainbow’s “A” wins because of the mediocrity or awful-ness of the other songs, but then the song itself, composition, production and all, is quite strong.

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