Wonder Girls -- 'Why So Lonely'
1. Why So Lonely
2. To the Beautiful You
3. Sweet & Easy
Featuring a swaying, uneven tempo that is maintained throughout for the majority of the track, "Why So Lonely" brings us a a more disabused side of Wonder Girls. And I say disabused because we see none of the glazed infatuation that was present in their last single "I Feel You." If the members were head over heels in love for "I Feel You," then I suppose they are head over heels out of love for "Why So Lonely." While love was a euphoric and drug-like feeling the girls could not live without in "I Feel You," that same love is now causing them much unwanted heartache, confusion, pain, and of course, so much "lonely." It is not as upbeat "I Feel You" but it's got charms of its own. The wispy harmonies are just overflowing with longing, and the gently strumming, reggae-influenced guitar chords serve to intensify that very longing without overwhelming the listener. What's more, it's a song that you can put on repeat and not get sick of too quickly, a factor that I'm mindful of with K-Pop songs.
"To the Beautiful You" is an uplifting track with a more positive outlook on love than the previous song. Wonder Girls return to that feeling of infatuation and declare their undying love to that special someone. I will admit that this song passed through my aural senses without any deep impressions mostly because the melody was so simply arranged and no element quite stood out. But that was on my initial listen. Gradually, I grew to enjoy the echoing harmonies, the pretty, tinkling synths, and of course, the members' dainty yet emotionally potent (the 'half air/half noise' sound that JYP artists are so famous for) vocals. It's a style of singing that they practiced at JYP over their long career, and I think it's safe to say that they have truly mastered it to make it work to their advantage.
The last track on this single album, also produced/composed in part by Wonder Girls, is "Sweet & Easy," and the song title perfectly describes the song. It's quite the sweet and easy listen; however, the arrangement sounded a tad similar to the previous track, providing a static aural experience for the listener. Of course, Wonder Girls fans may argue otherwise, saying that there are plenty of bits which differentiate the two tracks, but the way "To the Beautiful You" and "Sweet & Easy" progressed into the harmonized chorus, in addition to mid-tempo beat in the two songs, were closely related if not exactly the same. Of course, in no way am I trying to discount Wonder Girls' songwriting ability; it just may not have occurred to them as they were writing the songs. We can only hope that their songwriting will be of a more variegated sort in the future.
There's just so much talk about in the "Why So Lonely" MV. Wonder Girls stick to the retro concept that they're widely known for, which isn't necessarily a bad thing since they pull it off so well. It's become a Wonder Girls signature. Their last retro concept was a more American-style 80's retro while "Why So Lonely" takes it way back to the more flamboyant 60's retro with bright pastels, head bands, heart-shaped shades, bell bottoms, and geometric patterns upon geometric patterns. Totes groovy baby! Yeah, I don't really know 60's lingo....What I'm trying to say is, the girls look fantastic. Everything from the hair to the makeup is strikingly on point. Whoever styled the girls for this MV, many a kudos to you!
"Why So Lonely" is an atypical K-Pop MV in the sense that it doesn't feature any synchronized dancing, oddly mixed and matched outfits that will make you question what is fashion, and an overbearingly complex plot. Wonder Girls explore the fizzling embers of a relationship with a detached, apathetic lover, represented by a plastic and unfeeling mannequin. It's quite a creatively symbolic approach, and I especially appreciated the glaring contrast between the emotionless mannequin and the emotional--and near impassioned--reactions of the girls to their unresponsive plastic lover. Actually, "impassioned" may be an understatement...dragging that poor mannequin out by its feet, shoving it into the back of a car trunk, slamming said car trunk door on to the mannequin's hand, spraying ketchup all over its well-groomed, prim clothes, and placing a dynamite in its lap. Moral of the story: don't mess with the Wonder Girls. They will do all of the above and more if you do.
In conclusion, Wonder Girls brought us another hit to put on our playlist and enjoy for some time. But will it stay on the playlist forever? I don't think so. Though it was better than some of the other music releases of the season, it wasn't groundbreaking by any means. Despite these inhibitions, I'm happy to see that the girls are really maturing as artists rather than as K-Pop idols. Perhaps once they compose and produce songs for a long enough time, they will really grow their own character and color to be stellar musicians recognized for their artistry.