5Dolls, the four girls from the mixed group Co-Ed School and a newly added member, have recently debuted with their first mini album, titled "Charming Five Dolls." 5Dolls is comprised of members Chanmi, Eun Gyo (the newbie), Hyewon, Hyoyoung, and Soomi. - Track List: 01 ? ??? (It's You) 02 ???? (Lip Stains) 03 ????? (Zurururu) 04 ??? (Good For You) 05 ?? ?? (Wait Right There) Depending on your prior experience with Co-Ed's music, the word 'charming' may or may not come as an eyebrow-raising way to describe any forthcoming material from this group. As all debuts in K-pop go, there was a lot of hype behind Co-Ed before their first single saw the light of day. They were pre-dubbed to be a one of a kind group made up of both genders, who were supposedly extremely talented idols who would follow (or rival?) their seniors with music of epic proportions. That was the basic gist of their hype. And then they released "Too Late" - the song that made it a point to never buy into hype. In hindsight, it really had nothing to do with the members of Co-Ed, because their primary purpose is to sell whatever songs their agency decides to plop in front of them, but it was more about the quality of their material. Co-Ed have been in the K-pop music scene for about two seconds, but already their content has lacked substance, artistry, and hasn't helped them stand out as a pop group in an overly saturated pop industry. Unless, of course, you consider their headache-inducing material unique, in that it's probably the most over processed music available on the Korean market. However, and this goes back to the onus not falling entirely on Co-Ed: there is some talent and hidden potential buried deep in the recesses of Co-Ed's schoolbags. All it takes is the right people who know what they're doing to assemble the right songs for any pop group to 'succeed' in K-pop's music industry ( see "I Love You A Thousand Times"). Core Contents Media just doesn't have it quite right yet. Where things get tricky with Co-Ed is the simple fact that they're a mixed group. Their producers have to keep in mind that they can't go too feminine or too masculine for the sake of keeping each gender sane and cooperative. Which brings us to 5Dolls. - With this sub-unit, their producers have the leeway to explore and give these girls whatever female sound they want them to be known for. That kind of artistic liberty is a privilege in K-pop, and in a way, gives these ladies a second chance to say: "Hey, let's just pretend our rocky debut never happened." "Charming Five Dolls" kind of accomplishes that, but in the same breath, it kind of doesn't. On the up side, it isn't the worst thing ever. The album opens with "It's You", the song I first thought was some kind of homage to a woman named Maria or something. The beat is really infectious and for the most part, the processing on the girls' voices isn't too brutal. Right off the bat, "It's You" establishes a couple of things: 1) Chanmi will forever be the foundation of this group's vocal competency - she has been from day one - and as long as the other members are made to sound decent enough at her side on the recording, there's nothing wrong with having her be the voice to rule them all. 2) Their style. It is obviously different from Co-Ed, and that's how it should be. The point of a sub-unit is to experience enough of a musical departure from the group's main sound that it feels like a new and refreshing thing altogether. This song pretty much accomplishes that, and because the production is actually better than expected, it makes 5Dolls sound good. "It's You" is girly without completely crossing the line into 'cute' and 'innocent' territory. They're not the type to pull it off anyway, so it's a relief that at least someone on their team can figure that much out. Where this album falters is in the overall originality and freshness of the delivery. It just isn't there, and one prominent reason is the presence of Brave Brothers on one of the two lead singles: "Lip Stains." Not only has the Brave Sound become overly predictable, but because their productions are so repetitive in K-pop, in a way, it has hindered Korean pop music from progressing like all pop music does over a period of time. Instead, you get songs like "Lip Stains" that sounds just like SISTAR's "How Dare You" and piles of even more Brave-produced pop songs that remain indistinguishable from one another. As producers, they are a great force and their material speaks for itself. They just need to hold back from ambushing every single idol with the exact same pop formula. What works for one group won't necessarily work for another, and that's what Brave Brothers fail to understand. With or without Brave Brothers though, this album is unfortunately still not special enough to vouch for, at least not when you can pick out two or three other girl groups who churn out the exact same kind of music. "Zurururu" sounds like anything T-ara would have released before they crashed and burned last year; although, they are under the same label, so that's expected. The rap breaks and vocal processing in "Good For You" are too reminiscent of 4Minute, and unless auto-tune is tastefully done, it should never be applied to anyone singing who hasn't proven they can sing without it. It is safe to say that if they had toned down the abundance of vocal distortions, this song would actually sound so, so, so much better (Zurururu, Good For You). - If anything, Chanmi and her backup singers - er, the rest of the dolls - have released music far stronger and sensible than they did under Co-Ed, but the reality is that they still have a really long journey ahead of them to even step outside of the box. Nothing presented through this debut mini album shows musical innovation, progression, or creativity. There are some pretty melodies sprinkled throughout this EP, but it takes something more than one brilliant singer and one guilty pleasure to elevate "Charming Five Dolls" above the fold and higher than other girl groups that have so been there and done that. - Overall Rating: 3.0/5 -- What are your thoughts on the album? — Suggestions for a future review? 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Posted byMonday, February 21, 2011
[Review] 'Charming Five Dolls' by 5Dolls
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