Seo In Young has always been pretty good (“Into The Rhythm,” anyone?) but she’s literally been EVERYTHING since last year. Elly’s move from mere cool K-diva to perfect pop goddess of the East started last year when she split with Star Empire (home of the legendary Nine Muses) and started her own agency. It’s not really her music that changed for the better (it’s always been great), but her image: Elly’s a certified Korean style icon, and her natural fashion know-how has helped shape most of her post-Star Empire comeback concepts for the better. In this sense, she’s a lot like Rihanna, who didn’t truly flourish until she embraced her inner fashionista and took control of her image.
The independent Elly continues going from strength to strength with her latest single, “Love Me.” It’s been billed as a return to dance-pop for the songstress following her ballad, “Let’s Break Up,” from this past May, but it falls more in line with the synthy R&B of Primary and Co. (which explains the Gaeko feature) than your typical camp K-diva bop.
Unlike Brown Eyed Girls, who did nothing to change Primary’s signature production on their slinky single, “Recipe,” Elly’s just taken a few elements of the sound and put her own spin on it, creating a song that falls somewhere between K-pop and K-indie. It’s smooth, sophisticated electronica, with melancholy lyrics that make it one of those damn K-pop songs that are much better enjoyed when you can actually understand what’s being said.
“Love me again,” Elly sings on the chorus. “Without you, I’m trapped in a lonely birdcage / Love me again / Take me out / So I can smile again.”
The official music video is essentially a Nylon magazine shoot come to life, which couldn’t possibly be any more fitting for Elly. I can already see Katy Perry copying a lot of these looks as her Prism promo progresses, except that she won’t be able to pull any of it off properly and the clothes will just end up wearing her.
Following Brown Eyed Girls and now Elly, I’m glad to see more mainstream female artists experimenting with the kinds of sounds that have been hogged by the K-indie and [the primarily male] K-urban community for so long. Considering that “Love Me” is currently smashing the digital charts and is on its way to becoming the second top ten hit of Elly’s career, we’ll likely see more K-pop artists following the trend over the next year.