[Review][Single] 4minute - "Volume Up"
Let me preface this review by saying that I love 4minute, but I also feel really bad for them. I feel bad that they've been out since 2009 yet aren't included in the ranks of the upper echelon girl groups. I feel bad that they've been trying hard to crack the Japanese market for two years now but have continued to be unsuccessful with each subsequent release. I feel bad that HyunA is the only member that most of the people really care about, and that Jiyoon has never gotten the solo shot she deserves. I feel bad that Jiyoon and her Double Yoon sidekick Gayoon always have to carry 4minute's live performances. And I feel bad that there is one member in the group who I just can't seem to care about and whose name I can never learn, so my friends and I just always refer to her as 'other' when the discussion of 4minute comes up.
Yes, there's a lot of pity to be had for poor 4minute, but I love a good underdog and 4minute's overproduced dance-pop brings me so much joy that it's not hard to see why they're one of my favorite girl groups.
These five ladies have been away from the K-Pop scene for about a year now, taking a backseat to HyunA's bubble-popping solo career and only coming together to release a few more disappointing singles in Japan. This week they made their long-awaited return with a brand new single "Volume Up", lifted from their third mini-album of the same name.
In the weeks leading up to their comeback, Cube Entertainment revealed that the girls would be trying out some new "experimental" music with their longtime producer Shinsadong Tiger. Cube must not have been referring to the group's title track though, because it sounds like the Typical 4minute to a T, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I come to 4minute for big fierce dance records, and that's exactly what they've delivered.
The clubby anthem is built primary around an addictive saxophone riff, like the kind you might hear as the theme music from an early 90s TV series. The whole sax thing is so last year now, but it's so flawless in "Volume Up" that I've already forgotten that Katy Perry, Lady GaGa, and Alexandra Stan all did it twelve months ago. The rest of the song is bouncy dance-pop with a fist-pumping chorus, typically huge vocals from Jiyoon and Gayoon, and fierce whatever-ness from HyunA (I don't know if HyunA's output should be called rapping, singing, or just talking loudly, but whatever it is, it's hot).
If you don't know Korean, you'd easily assume that "Volume Up" is about partying in some nightclub like it would be if this song were recorded by some generic American artist, but there's more meat to it than that (according to what the translated lyrics told my non-Korean self that is). It's actually about getting dumped by some jerk who doesn't care about you, so the 4minute girls want to turn up the volume in their voices so their nasty ex can hear them. They also want to blast their stereo up loud so they can try and forget about the sad situation that their love life is in. It's almost like I wrote these lyrics myself!
The accompanying music video is just 4minute posing and looking aggressively sexy inside a Gothic castle, but it's totally amazing in every possible way. The girls have never looked this hot before, and their bold look has a lot of class and style to it, as opposed to the somewhat outrageous raunchiness that HyunA has served up for her solo career. Of course, HyunA takes center stage in the "Volume Up" visual and gets most of the screen time, even going as far as to make her bubble pop against the crotches of the clip's female backup dancers, but she looks so damn good that only the most hardcore HyunA hater would complain about her hogging the spotlight. HyunA aside, it's no wonder that the "Volume Up" video looks so good, because Cube apparently spent $130,000 USD on it -- which is a welcome change from the perceived lack of fund on "Mirror Mirror". Here's to hoping that "Volume Up" really rocks the K-Pop world so I don't have to start off my next 4minute review with all the reasons why I feel sorry for the poor girls. God knows they deserve it!
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