Gugudan -- 'Act 1 The Little Mermaid'
2. Could This Be Love
3. Good Boy
5. Maybe Tomorrow
6. Wonderland (Inst.)
Jellyfish Entertainment finally debuted Multiplication Tabl...I mean Gugudan! It was a long-awaited debut, and for something that was long-awaited, well, it wasn't all that spectacular.
Maybe there are just too many girl groups nowadays trying that tired 'protect-me-I'm-a-halpless-girl-in-need-of-patriarchal-dominance' image but I'm just really really REALLY done with this blasted concept. *endless sighhhhhhhhhhhs* I shouldn't be so harsh though since most of K-Pop is just a recycling of old ideas and concepts which have invariably been done before. It's incredibly difficult if not impossible to be original with a concept that's already been tried, especially ones that are tried and true. I guess Jellyfish didn't want to risk doing something too different. But sadly, Jellyfish's fear of taking risks--and their urgency to milk 'Produce 101' while it's still a hot topic--trumped originality. And what we're left with is 'Act 1 The Little Mermaid': a rushed, amateur attempt at a debut album.
I'll admit that I did sort of like Gugudan's title track "Wonderland" because it's catchy. But what K-Pop song (or any pop song for that matter) isn't catchy? The song opens with a softly susurrant harmony, then builds into a colorful chorus that is judiciously arranged to achieve that light, pert, echoing sound that is so commonplace among girl groups. If this kind of sound is right down your alley, then well, good for you, good sire/madame. Further, with songs like "Wonderland," it may be catchy at first, but they soon grow grating to your ears, especially the high-pitched, airy style of singing. It's flat and boring. I can't even really label it singing. Just issuing of noise through your throat and nose. There's no feeling behind it. You think I'm being soulless? At least I've got more feeling than Gugudan's soulless concept.
"Could This Be Love" and "Good Boy" are not even that catchy. The arrangement in "Could This Be Love" is a mixture of tame guitar chords and synths, and even tamer harmonies. "Good Boy" is at least a slight deviation from the first two tracks, straying from the synths to put a bigger focus on a playful piano melody. Yet, despite the jaunty piano, the break down into the repetitive chorus of "good boy good good boy" was the only part that really struck me as the most memorable...The rest of the song I already forgot.
"Diary" is along the lines of "Could This Be Love," the melody forgettably prosaic. "Maybe Tomorrow" was more tolerable thanks to the absence of all the synths. The girls' voices could be heard more clearly, not washed out by the robotic, formulaic arrangements that made them sound...robotic and formulaic. But with the upside of getting to hear the girls' voices with more lucidity came a downside. I realized the harmonizations didn't sound all that natural, sounding as if they were recorded separately and then layered quite unoriginally and un-artfully on top of one another.
All in all, Jellyfish dumped a giant disappointment in our laps and a what-could-have-been with Gugudan's debut. I had hoped that this album would grow on me the more I listened to it; alas, that was not so. I really tried to like them. I tried. If Jellyfish continues with this concept for Gugudan, I can't see them standing out, ever.
Gugudan attempts to distinguish itself from other girl groups with an 'underwater mermaid,' Disney-esque concept. But the underlying trite theme is thinly disguised and still the same as the other girl groups: frilly, frivolous, florid, and painfully generic. I've seen this cutesy concept time and time again (particularly of late) that the groups who decide on it fail miserably at differentiating themselves in any way, shape, or form. And it was no exception with Gugudan.
The girls pout, act cute, shoot a wink here and there, and sashay their lil' bums. A stroke of deja vu. Why? Perhaps because I've seen these kinds of tricks in other girl groups' MVs. Yeah, the girls look cute. Sure. But looking/acting cute =/= good MV. The production looks kind of cheap especially because of the tacky underwater-themed CGI. The rest of the MV focuses on the girls' carefully practiced facial expressions and their formation-style dancing which, again, is reminiscent of other groups.
Summing up my rant, I wish Jellyfish will be a tad more creative next time around. Please, for Gugudan's sake.