A Pink - 'Percent'
1. %% (Eung Eung)
2. Hug Me
3. What Are You Doing
4. Push and Pull
The first Monday of 2019 saw a new release from girl group A Pink! 'Percent' contains 6 fresh tracks, including the title track "%%." This is their eighth EP, a follow-up to last July's 'One & Six.' In a press conference, they revealed that they've been retooling their sound, starting with "I'm So Sick." This release is just the next step to a more mature-sounding A Pink.
The lead single is "%%," (응응 or eung eung) which means, essentially, "okay." When angled it looks like percent signs, hence the song's title. It sounds a lot different than a traditional A Pink song. Gone are the easy hooks and cute vocals, and in their place is a pounding beat, heavy on the bass and tinkling notes that sound somewhat like tropical house, but there's some definite layering with other sounds like a single, repetitive pulsing note and effervescent synths. And the girls' vocals are as sharp as I've ever heard them. They stretch their capabilities here. According to Namjoo during a press conference, the song is about knowing what they want in a man and follows along from the last title track "I'm So Sick," which had them bidding a final goodbye to a lover they'd lost all affection for.
"Hug Me" sounds a bit more like other A Pink B-sides. But only a bit. It's very sweet and smooth, with more of a mature R&B sound. I like it, but in some ways, it reminded me of Red Velvet's velvety side. "What Are You Doing" has some things in common with "Hug Me," though the vocals are pitched higher, with some playful ad-libs. It's definitely pop R&B, and still, it's a pretty good, danceable song. "Push and Pull" is the group being playful, with cute ad-libs. That's where it stops being so A Pink-like, with a powerful chorus and guitar backing track. It's fun but kinda sounded like another group's song.
Written by member Chorong, "Enough" hearkens back to their old bright pop sound, with some modern sensibilities. It has some new jack swing inspirations to it. I like how this has the more typical hooks, and there are some pretty harmonies on here, too. Is it a good song? Oh yes. Probably the weakest tune on here is "Memories." It's not bad, it just sounds like almost every other ballad I've heard. There's nothing really compelling about it. The good thing is that the music doesn't drown out the singer, which kicks it a notch above other ballads.
But is it any good? I'm divided on this one. I can't deny that I enjoyed listening to each song. But I didn't really feel like A Pink. Granted, there are other girls out there doing the cute thing, so the shtick might have worn thin. And maybe it was time for them to grow as artists and showcase a different side of the group, perhaps a more compelling side. On the other hand, I miss the old A Pink. Songs like "No No No" and "My My" are staples on my playlist. Whether this growth is a good thing or bad, I can't say. My biases are well-known. But I can't deny that this is a helluva good EP.
The MV for "Eung Eung" has the girls inside a "Pink Factory." They're hard at work making several items, like a hand, some red vinyl lips and a gem-studded gun. They soak these items in some kind of pink, opaque liquid, and withdraw a heart. The heart is a man's heart, used to...well, I won't spoil it for you.
They also dance, which is okay, but I didn't see anything stunning about it, no unique choreography (I thought they didn't have any aegyo, so there was that). The dancing was such a minor part, done so by-the-numbers, that it really wouldn't have mattered if it were included or not. At least the outfits were awesome.
The real star is the odd locations and the weird events. Some of it looked like they were dressing up really cheap sets, and other times there were weird things like stacked pink cars. And the cheap, art deco (or hastily cobbled together costume jewelry-covered gun) are just part of the low budget charm. I think the pink color scheme really helped make this MV, and it was highly appropriate for these girls.
Yeah, I'd watch it again, and I give it high marks for originality, at least.
MV SCORE: 8.6
ALBUM SCORE: 8.6