Jewelry is a bit of a running joke to me in K-pop. Like the Sugababes, the group has none of its original members left and really should’ve disbanded years ago (specifically when Seo In Young jumped ship), but for some reason they’re still chugging along. In 2011, they shamelessly ripped off SECRET’s “Shy Boy” with the embarrassingly bad “Back It Up,” and last year, they they made another dud comeback with “Look At Me.” I thought that they couldn’t get any worse, and I was right, because the group’s latest single, “Hot & Cold,” is surprisingly good.
The synthy midtempo isn’t as obviously hooky as the group’s past hits, with verses that seemingly bleed into an understated chorus, but it’s catchier than anything they’ve released since “One More Time.” It’s pretty retro — some of the synths are plucked straight out of the early eighties and the subtle guitar licks in the background could pass for the same decade or earlier– but like all K-pop songs, the entire thing still sounds entirely modern.
The low-key chorus and melancholy thread running through “Hot & Cold” actually gives the song a mature charm (mature for manufactured Korean girl group idol pop, that is), even though the candy-coated music video would beg to differ. This is the best I’ve ever seen Jewelry look, but there’s still something that doesn’t quite compute with their image. Maybe it’s just that they’re inherently boring? I don’t know, but they need to fix this shit up now that they’ve finally released a good song.