4minute scored the second No. 1 single of their career yesterday when “Whatcha Doin’ Today” debuted at the top of the Gaon chart. I immediately thought “Sajaegi!!!” to this for three reasons: 1) K-pop fans both in Korea and abroad have been mercilessly trashing this comeback for being too weird or too generic (depending on which idiot you ask). 2) The song hasn’t done too well on the digital charts since its release, and 3) Both 4minute and producer Brave Brothers have been suspected of chart manipulation in the past.
Whatever got this song to No. 1, I don’t really care — I’m just happy it’s there. What I’ve realized from this comeback is that I fucking love 4minute and I think that they may actually be one of my favorite girl groups. The closest I’ve ever come to disliking one of their singles is “Heart To Heart” (I initially despised “What’s Your Name?” but eventually recognized its genius and became obsessed), and with the girls getting prettier with each comeback thanks to dangerous dieting and the surgeon’s scalpel, 4minute just keeps gettin’ better and better in every way.
Here’s exactly what I think about PHOMINNIT’S return, broken down into four parts, of course.
1. Brave Brothers’ bonkers production
When Brave Brothers finds a formula that works, he sticks with it for as long as humanly possible, squeezing every last drop out of the sound until it’s time to create something new and start the cycle all over again. “Whatcha Doin’ Today” is one of his rare fresh templates with a sound that can’t specifically be compared to anything else he’s done before. The bizarre production combines K-pop’s penchant for producing hits that sound like five different songs in one with Brave’s skill for writing stupidly simplistic hooks that turn out more addictive than a shot of propofol.
Aside from some rap breaks, everything in “Whatcha Doin’ Today” sounds like a chorus or a pre-chorus — and I mean everything. From the idiotic refrains (“La la la la la la!“) to the farty horns and tropical synths, there isn’t one part of this song that wasn’t designed to be an earworm. The downside is that there’s so much going on that the opposite can happen and you might find yourself with nothing stuck in your head once the audio goes off, but it sure as hell makes for one hell of a ride when it’s on, and isn’t that the important bit?
2. The enormous increase in beauty
I don’t like to bring up celebrities looks when it’s something that they can’t change, like just being naturally fugly, but in my mind I’m always secretly judging when there’s an idol that lacks in both visuals and talent. Sohyun was one of those idols, and I’ve always wanted her booted from 4minute for dragging the visual average down and contributing nothing to the group in vocals or rapping or charm or anything. Well, I don’t know what happened with this comeback, but all of a sudden Sohyun is frickin’ gorgeous! I don’t care if it’s plastic surgery or if she simply just grew into her gigantic moonface — bitch is so cute now! She’s finally serving all the charms that a maknae should. I guess she learned from Gayoon unnie, who shaved her jaw down into a fine point and developed a serious eating disorder before 2YOON’s debut.
And can we please talk about HyunA? I always thought her charisma was more her overall persona than her actual looks, but she’s an utter knockout in the “Whatcha Doin’ Today” MV. The padded body proportions, the lipstick, the black bob and big eyes — it’s the best she’s EVER looked. I was always a HyunA fan, but now I’m a certified stan.
3. 4(minute) out f(x)’s f(x)
4minute’s over-styled hipster fashionista concept is straight out of f(x)’s style book, but 4minute’s taken it to places that f(x) has never dared to go. While f(x) know how to serve the left-field pop bops and avant-garde cover art, they fall short on everything else — their music videos never break the generic dance-in-a-box mould, and their performances and choreography suffer from a severe lack of creativity. 4(minute), on the other hand, have gone all out (and then some) for the “Whatcha’ Doin’ Today” MV.
Overloaded with cartoonish kink and sexual imagery, the video is excessive, even by K-pop standards. There’s the usual titillation –HyunA booty popping, HyunA writhing around against a pole, HyunA showing cleavage– but there’s also a lot of weird stuff — namely, the bathroom fixation. Jiyoon raps and masturbates on a porcelain throne before later peeing into a men’s urinal, and the metallic male backup dancers that flood the video even put their faces in the urinals and shoulder-pop in toilet stalls. One man is also shoved into a locker, two of them kiss, and three get spanked while locked in a spit-roast sex position.
Considering that “Whatcha Doin’ Today” is a song about filling up spare time with casual sex, what are all the homosexual references in the video trying to tell us? To hit up the local beat and get blown behind the toilet block? To enjoy the benefits of glory holes? I think it’s a broader message about making sex fun and indulging in our fetishes, no matter how dirty and socially-unacceptable they may be. Not the sick crossing-the-line kind of fetishes, obviously — I’m talking vinyl-clad French maids, having gay sex on drugs, partaking in watersports. That sort of thing.
Never did I think that 4minute would be the group to deliver K-pop’s answer to A Dirty Shame, but I guess stranger things have happened. (Like 2NE1 somehow not flopping with “Come Back Home,” aka the worst K-pop song of the year.)
4. Please fire this member
Every time I write about 4minute I always go out of my way to mention how Sohyun and ‘Other’ (I refuse to use her real name, whatever it is) need to be fired. Now that Sohyun has come into her own and finally contributed something to the group, it just leaves us with Other. She can’t sing, she can’t dance, she has no charm, and she’s the oldest member. She’s pretty, but in a beige actress-y kind of way. 4minute would be so perfect if she just quit music for movies, and then the group’s member number would finally match their name. It’d be a win-win for everyone involved!