Female First Loves: Hyo Sung & Oh My Girl Review

Hyo Sung Oh My Girl

Jeon Hyo Sung and Oh My Girl returned with new singles this week touching on similar subjects. That classic idea of first love is something that is easy to fawn at, to claim you’ve heard it all before. That’s the thing about a topic as universal as this is that will always warrant new expressions from new experiences. These two very different female artists approaching the same idea means we almost certainly see something fresh. If not maybe the music will make you fall in love with the girls anyway (it definitely will).

Despite Secret being around for so long now, Hyo Sungs’s solo career is still young and often wildly overlooked. Her lullaby trap anthem “Goodnight Kiss” and silky smooth “Into You” are masterful works in overt but not desperate sexiness. She pulls off songs and concepts without being too talented at any given skill needed for a popstar. With her new single “Find Me” Hyo Sung continues her challenge to be the new and improved Son Dambi.

Oh My Girl on the other hand are a very young group with 2016 being only their second year in K-pop. They, however, are rising fast and are in their own battle with Twice to be the next Girls’ Generation. While they don’t have the same big company backing them like their opponents, they do have a quirky identity that is all their own. They also have two of the best songs of last year under their belt already so with new single “Liar Liar”, Oh My Girl look to stake a permanent place in the minds of K-pop fans.

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Hyo Sung “Find Me”

Hyo Sung is clearly taking advantage of Eurovision fever (the songs in the contest are currently being announced) with this Euro pop romp. “Find Me” mixes three major musical elements to tell a story of true love. A house beat and hand claps sustain the whole song while piano arrangements and synths deliver the big moments. That beat allows those sounds to pick up tempo and sound a little brighter. Usually a combo of piano and synths is used for more melancholic or subdued sounds but here it can flourish. It also contains my favourite detail from any song so far this year, the flute whisper in the chorus.

“Find Me” moves away from Hyo Sung’s last single “Into You” in an interesting way thematically. Love is such a common theme in pop music but is everlasting because of its diverse nature. Everyone reacts to it differently and Hyo Sung is showing that even first love can be varied for the same person. Where “Into You” had a more inquisitive sensual feeling of the latent sexual possibilities found in a new love, “Find Me” traces a more euphoric emotion, one filled with romance and comfort. The music reflects this brilliantly. “Find Me” bursts into life with a crash of piano, synth, and vocal. It rises from there into a chorus of unrestrained joy led by Hyo Sung’s beautifully emotive voice.


Oh My Girl “Liar Liar”

Oh My Girl also tackle new love but in a decidedly more adolescent way on “Liar Liar.” The girls are starting to think they “kinda like” a boy but are too afraid to confess to him. For young girls like Oh My Girl, this is as dramatic it gets. And as Seunghee sings, it’s an “emotional roller coaster.” To convey these feelings with music, Oh My Girl go back to their debut “Cupid.” From the cheerleader group vocals and drumlines, it’s easy to see this as “Cupid” 2.0 but with added bubblegum. This sound is perfect for those feelings though. The chaotic energy of it feels totally adolescent while not being too childish. Also, “Cupid” was maybe my favourite song of last year so I’ll take a retread of it anytime.

That being said, there are a few improvements that make “Liar Liar” even more worthwhile. The vocals notable are much better. The trinity of Hyo Jung, Seunghee, and YooA are as good as ever, but first time I noticed some of the others playing an actually worthwhile part in the song. Notably, Arin and JinE make a contribution by not being amazing singers but sounding very much like the teenage girls that they are.

The music video is an absolute delight as well. The single coloured crayola sets are fantastic and weird. The fight between all the girls to deem each other liars is so much much fun. Especially the staring contest between Seunghee and Hyo Jung as they hold pictures of the same boy (who I think is labelmate Gongchan from B1A4) that they like. The camera swings around both of them cutting between opposite sides of the table bringing energy to their stillness.

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Hyo Sung and Oh My Girl tackle similar themes with completely different outcomes here. What makes them work for both parties is that they both stick to what works for them as artists. Hyo Sung is a woman clearly not afraid of her sexuality. She flaunts her body to express this physically and her voice to express it emotionally. This is one woman’s idea of fresh love.

Oh My Girl are essentially children so their expression of a first love is purely innocent. It’s about teasing out confusing feelings that are pointless in the long run but oh so important in the moment. They call themselves liars because they don’t actually know what it is they feel.

What do you think of Hyo Sung and Oh My Girl’s new songs? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook,Twitter,Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Hyo Sung, BESTie & the Hook in K-Pop

Hyo Sung
The hook is what makes a pop song so catchy, particularly K-pop songs. They are the part that we remember the most. They literally hook us into liking a song. They are the ‘gee gee gee gee’ or the ‘sorry sorry sorry.” Those are quite obvious examples of hooks though, but right now I want to look at how some artists use them in more interesting ways. For this we are going to look at two May releases, Jeon Hyo Sung’s ‘‘Into You’’ which has no hook at all and BESTie’s ‘‘Excuse Me’’ which delays its hook for a lot longer than usual.

The reason I’m returning to these two after two months is that I realized that they are two of the best songs of the summer yet have been kind of forgotten. And I never wrote about them when they came out, even though I loved them both.

On first listen, Hyo Sung’s second solo single ‘‘Into You’’ comes across as uneventful and dull. Compared to her first song ‘‘Goodnight Kiss’’ it seems lacking; this is probably why ‘‘Into You’’ didn’t sell as well as its predecessor either. This is because it forgoes a hook in favour of a more slick type of production. It’s a production that warrants many repeated listens before being fully appreciated. But why risk losing sales for something that could easily have been boring?

For me, it all comes together with the music video and live performance. The dreamy groove of the song and Hyo Sung’s breathy voice create an extremely sexual song. Coupling this with the video, we see something that is completely attuned to the sexy concept. Despite the fact that she denied it, Hyo Sung’s whole marketing efforts seem to focus on her body. So often sexy concepts are built only around visuals with the music taking a back seat. It comes across as pandering rather than a genuine attempt at being sexy.

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Breaking up the flow of the song with a massive hook would have suggested something bigger than what the song is trying to do. The way it is now, Hyo Sung can perform without making too brash a change in her vocal or body movements (which are in fact the most important part of the performance,) that could disrupt the sexy energy. The transition from pre-chorus to chorus happens so seamlessly that it’s hardly noticeable. This especially makes it feel like something is missing on first listen. As it grows on you though, you realize that by not highlighting one specific part, Hyo Sung’s highlights the whole song.

Another reason it works is that each part of the song sounds quite similar. The sax and synth combo are retained for most of the song and really holds it together. By not creating any contrast between verses and pre-choruses, no big pay off is expected in the chorus. Clashing different tones usually ends up in something else coming out of it. That is something that K-pop does extremely well, but here it is not needed. The hook would usually be a synthesis of preceding tones. ‘‘Into You’’ does not do this though, which allows it to get away with not having a hook.

BESTie’s ‘Excuse Me’’ is a song that does this and does it extremely well.

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‘‘Excuse Me’’ starts off as a pretty fun track that’s refreshingly devoid of any electronic elements. After a while though, you begin to realize that a chorus has not yet happened and that this feels quite strange. The song cycles through a number of different parts including the standard verse, a chanting mid-verse(?) and two parts that could pass as pre-choruses. They feature blasting horns, powerful vocals and rapping. There seems to be so many disparate elements leading to nothing. That is until 1 minute and 10 seconds into the song, when the massive pay-off hook boldly announces itself. To compare that to other recent songs, Sistar’s ‘‘Shake It’’ takes 40 seconds to reach its hooks and even the totally weird ‘‘Ah Yeah’’ by EXID introduces its ‘Ah Yeah’ hook right at the beginning and reaches its chorus by 55 seconds. 20-40 seconds longer than usual may not seem that significant but this is pop music where time and attention is precious.

‘‘Excuse Me’’ grabs attention by its strange structure. Without noticing it, you begin to question the song. Stimulating thought is not something pop music usually likes to do. A listener is supposed to feel comfortable in the familiar patterns. Here, the pattern is thrown in our face as we wait and wait for that hook.

The main reason that this all works out though is because of just how good of a hook it is. This is thanks to U-Ji’s huge voice, which I think is one of the best in K-pop right now. Along with her vocals, the tempo ramps right up and the energy levels increase. It’s a catastrophically good chorus that turns a song on its head without a moment’s notice.

If BESTie had not delivered this and gone the Hyo Sung route of having no hook, ‘‘Excuse Me’’ would not have worked at all. The many juggling parts of this song had to create something bigger than themselves at some stage. Otherwise it would have been a mess. I know a lot of K-pop songs can sound mess but like this they always have something pulling them together. Like Girls’ Generation’s ‘oh oh way ohs..’ in ‘‘I Got A Boy’’ or like B.A.P’s choruses in ‘‘Hurricane’’ and ‘‘Badman’’. These binding factors allow groups to go really far leftfield with their songs. BESTie have shown that an audience can wait longer than usual for that satisfying hook kick.

The range of ways which K-pop can deliver new material seems infinite. Hyo Sung and BESTie have shown two interesting ways of changing up standard songs. By doing this they create not only something unique but songs that provokes a reaction.

What do you think of these two songs? Is there any other songs you think have interesting hooks? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter,Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Playlist Sunday: Kisses

Kisses and kissing aren’t always openly talked about in the K-pop music scene. But there are many songs about first kisses and kissing in general. They can be as innocent as a peck on the cheek or as steamy as a full on lip-to-lip, tongue-to-tongue contact. Sometimes these kissing songs aren’t as blatant as others, but one thing we know for sure is our K-pop idols love to sing about kissing.

Like many before her, Jeon Hyosung used her solo career as a way to show off her large, um, charms. Her solo venture turned out to be just as successful as bandmate Jieun’s but offered something completely different. Goodnight Kiss is an hypnotic trap lullaby for a boy whom Hyosung sings to goodnight. Yet she clearly doesn’t really want to go to sleep but to just kiss and kiss him. Updating fairytales and lullabies is popular these days and this song does a better job of it than most. The song comes off as a reworked lullaby to perfectly suit Hyosung’s sexy image. It starts off relatively innocent but becomes sexier with each part before finally hitting that trap drop. We forget about the lullaby element after a while as it becomes stranger and sexier. It all comes together to create something quite sophisticated and shows that given the right material Hyosun could become a soloist on par with Ga-In.

— Joe

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Dara’s Kiss is filled with ridiculous yet catchy engrish lyrics, yet there’s one line that I’ll occasionally find myself singing to in public; I just wanna kiss, I never wanna miss. Kiss is a fun and rather playful song whereas the music video, which features actor Lee Minho and if you look closely, Kim Woo Bin is also featured, is rather on the dramatic side; I guess that’s what happens when you feature actors in your music video, it suddenly turns into a short drama! Aside from the dramatic acting from both Dara and Lee Minho, the overall production was entertaining and to me, it felt like a commercial!

— Tam

If we talk about kisses, what’s better than a french kiss? Hyuna’s song French Kiss recounts a story at a scandalous party. Hyuna meets a guy and it;s like love at first sight, or maybe lust at first sight. Right then and there she wants to be only with him, alone. The chorus is very addicting and the part where Hyuna whispers “Let’s french kiss” sounds so seductive and sexy. It almost makes the listeners feel that you are the man she lusts over and she is whispering those words to them. The song has a great beat and it’s a great song to just dance let loose and make out.

— Alejandro

Rather than celebrating love, Super Junior‘s My Love, My Kiss, My Heart mourns it. The song is the classic tale of missing an ex lover post break up while reluctantly trying to move on. You know, when it still hurts. The boys lament the love lost, saying they will bury their love, kiss and heart through a heartfelt ballad.

— Alexis

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X’s are for kisses, sings EXO in XOXO. The song is an adorable, upbeat, jazzy ode to the woman EXO loves, filled with sweet lines about dreaming of hugging and kissing the one you love. EXO’s vocals really shine in the song, with enough lines for EXO’s multitude of members to express their own individual vocal colors.

— Tamar

miss A’s Hush actually uses the word ‘kiss’ in the chorus. The ladies sing about their steamy wants and desires. And at the top of the list is kissing, which is a great way to get to know someone intimately. Hush takes things a few steps further than kissing, but the sexy ladies of miss A know what they want and clearly depict all of that in this song. Aside from the content of the song, Hush has an infectious chorus and sultry dance moves perfectly executed by the quartet.

— Tara

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