A Pink Mr Chu
There’s always one token cute act in K-pop that all the Western fans hate because dirty Westerners have never really experienced cute concepts beyond kiddie acts like The Wiggles and The Teletubbies, so almost everything that doesn’t fit into the fierce or sexy concept category is instantly reviled. First it was Girls’ Generation, then it was SECRET for a while, and now it’s the almighty A Pink.

I’ve been riding with A Pink since they debuted and have enjoyed every album they’ve put so far (although in retrospect the entire Une Annee era was a major misstep), and their latest, Pink Blossom, is no different.

Pink Blossom –which may or may not be a euphemism for A Pink’s untouched cha chas that uncle fans across the nation desperately long to deflower– delivers exactly what one has come to expect from the girls at this point: sweet, seasonal bubblegum pop with a retro flair. Dewy lead single, “Mr. Chu,” sparkles with a restrained effervescence, like a friendly pep talk that never gets too serious or pushy. When I first played it, I couldn’t get the Web Therapy scene out of my head in which Fiona Wallace falsely describes her childhood as, “Sun-dabbled meadows, lollipops dispensed, rainbows, and gambling lambs.”

One big cliché in pop music reviewing is to compare songs to soft drink, but I’m not about to do that because “Mr. Chu” is actually more like sparkling mineral water; fresh and clean without the tooth-rot.

Although “Mr. Chu” is produced by Duble Sidekick and not long-time A Pink producer Shinsadong Tiger, you get the sense that Cube’s A&R rep walked into Sidekick’s studio, placed an old photo from the Secret Garden album booklet next to the mixing board, and just said: “You know what to do.” Like last year’s long-running hit “NoNoNo,” “Mr. Chu” chills with an early 2000s pop’n’b on the verses before speeding things up on a chorus laced with retro synths. Some might consider it a one-note act, but what does it matter when the formula is so perfect?

A Pink’s flair for nostalgia isn’t just confined to their music. Their carefully-constructed image is one of an adorable little sister, the pretty girl next door when you were growing up, or your high school first love. When watching the “Mr. Chu” music video (which plays like J-pop KARA tackling Orange Caramel’s “Lipstick) you can’t help but think of all the guys between 30 and 50 working miserable 60-hour weeks and reminiscing over idealized versions of their youth thanks to A Pink’s charms.

That’s really the magic of a group like A Pink, and it reminds you why it’s sometimes so important to keep up the fantasy illusion of innocence and purity that so many Asian pop acts are infamous for. It may not necessarily be real, but don’t go and ruin it for all of us who like to pretend that it is.

For the tl;dr crowd: If you’re wicked, sinful, and morally bankrupt then you won’t understand this gleaming beacon of #love and #light like I do. BAM.

  • TerriDesu

    I don’t mind cute concepts but this one was just terrible.bad song,boring music video,boring outfits.

    • I actually think they’re smart doing this because no other big acts are doing this cute concept now. Orange Caramel’s is cartoonish social commentary, and Crayon Pop’s more like a comedy act. This is just sweet and natural and wholesome. A bit like SECRET’s YooHoo and I Do I Do which slayed,

      • Vanderwaal

        That’s right, YooHoo was quite big there, and I don’t remember about I Do I Do, but I think it did quite well too. But I loved their older aegyo songs way more, Poison and Talk That are the best they’ve done in the last 2 years though.

        • I Do I Do actually flopped massively, which sucks coz it’s amazing! It’s actually one of my favourite SECRET songs ever, and since I’m a SECRET stan that’s saying a lot.

          • Vanderwaal

            Really? I just got into it quite recently, but it’s nowhere close to my faves from them. I’m expecting their comeback (and Hyoboobs solo) though.

  • Vanderwaal

    Jacques, stahp being so perfect. There’s no KPOP blog that I have ever loved so much, not even that Spanish blog called BitchesAloud (that died 2 years ago), and this kind of humor (or way of expressing yourself) is the best. If Allkpop was like that, and the 90% of KPOP fans were actually of age and mature enough, I could have so much fun with other kpop fans instead of pissing them off when voicing my opinion about anything ~not chinese but korean~ related… :/
    If only I wasn’t lazy as fuck, I’d try to spread korean culture here with a blog/site like this with tons of shade, humour and korean pussies everywhere. xD

    • Vanderwaal

      BTW they are delivered, again. I’ve always found Apinkeu quite random, or more random than the ~divas I adore~, but NoNoNo made me see the light. I mean, I loved Hush (and the Une Annee album), but I was never a big fan of them. Now I see that their image is perfect (it is the image more KPOP groups should have, it’s less Westernized even if it’s kinda the Asian-cliché, but stil necessary), and their music, is less experimental, and more of a safe formula, but it’s this sound that is making them relevant. They have A SOUND, and even if KPOP sometimes it’s more of experimenting and trying way too many different sounds, it’s good to see some groups having a distinctive sound. SISTAR had it during the SO COOL days (How Dare You, Hot Place, Girls Do It, Girls On Top and So Cool, same sound, all of them hits <3), but they lost it even if that meant that they reached a "godless-like level", T-Ara still has it (kind of), all of their songs are those expected-to-be dance smashes (except for the ballads, that they kinda share a similar sound and it's good), and then there's A PINK. Love it. Crayon Pop could also fit in this category, I think, but not so many groups fit. 2NE1 for instance, don't fit, their recent hits sound like cheap versions of their older ones, but as they have like 4 kind of songs that they usually do, they don't have ONE distinctive sound, they have 4 (?), electro smashes (IATB, I'm Busy, Crush), ballads (Lonely, Missing You), mainstream and non-black Hip-Hop/crunk (Clap Your Hands, FOLLOW Me, Fire (?)), Pop/Dance (Go Away, Happy, Ugly) and maybe Reggae/R&B with Electro/Hop sounds (Falling In Love, Come Back Home). I don't know, it's just that they follow different formulas, that made me fall in love with them as my first korean act, but they use the same formulas again and again (?) xD

  • Suzy Sooyoung

    Even tho I LOVE their debut mini album, their recent hits have been so boring to me. This song on the other hand, even tho it’s so simple, sounds catchy and refreshing!

  • byoing~byoing.

    I don’t know what is it about the song, but I just think it’s really mediocre. LIKE. I know they’re the sweetest girl group on the planet now and I really like that they’ve swapped their image for innocent school girl opposed to hot mess that they were during the ‘Hush’ days… but… It’s just SO safe! But like you said, I guess that’s the image that they want to give, right? Eunji’s voice fits in well with the group too – she’s not like this loud cannon of perfect vocals like she was for ‘My, My’ and ‘Hush’.

    That being said – it’s grown on me a lot since I asked you to rip it apart, so I retract my hate.

    • i didn’t know this was duble sidekick. it makes me like them less because although i like mr. chu, it sounds like one of the tryouts that would later become nonono.

      and nonono >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> than this. actually, nonono >>>>>>>> most things.

  • oneclearnight

    Sometimes it’s the simplest pop songs that work best. I’m not surprised this is doing so well on the charts – they’re going to be a top tier group soon.

    (I agree with you about Une Annee, though. That album was a mess).

  • UncleFan

    “Mr. Chu” is good but I think track #3, “Crystal” is way better.

    • Crystal is the worst on the mini!

  • Db

    I’m one of the western fans that jus doesn’t get the appeal of A Pink. I just can’t find anything musically appealing in their songs. Just about the only thing I enjoy from them is the chorus to NoNoNo.

    I do enjoy some aegyo every now and then, but the kind A Pink put out is not up my alley.

    • leesigh3

      I agree with you except for the part about ever enjoying aegyo!

      • Db

        Aegyo was probably too aggressive a word. What I meant to say was that I can enjoy a cute concept every now and then if done right. I’ve already mentioned them before, but TREN-D, Blady and TINT’s Love At First Sight are great cutesy songs. I’m not here for A Pink or Secret levels of cuteness though.

    • yosafbridge

      I like Hush but I basically enjoy Eunji’s voice–she’s an incredible singer by kpop standards.

      See this :

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se6iCPanGkU

  • 364Leinad

    Chorong is the only thing which keeps this group relevant

    • yosafbridge

      Eunji probably has more fans alone than the rest of the other girls put together.

  • heart2heart

    Apink is one of the most bland girl groups imho. I can’t get into them at all, like many other commenters have said. It’s cool that you can see the positive but when I see them I just can’t help but think that their company is trying too hard to give them this image which is basically SNSD during “Kissing You” except APink is never growing up out of it – they’ll be holding their lollipops when they’re 30 lol.

    • I actually found this song bland at first too but then it grew on me and now I love it and appreciate it’s various charms.

      i also love SECRET’s cute concepts.

      • heart2heart

        Secret’s cute concepts are adorable – like you said to someone else; YooHoo was great! I don’t mind cute concepts, in fact I actually like a lot of them, but there’s just something about APink that makes me so bored. Maybe it’s that they’re styled the same for every concept and that their songs all have similar sounds? I’ve tried so hard to like APink but fail every time.

  • Nicole Naeun

    Love “Mr.Chu” and kween maknae steals the spotlight this time (sawry Naeun and Eunji). She’s so beautiful, I can she she blossoms into this beautiful, sexy charismatic grown-up woman in the future.

    As for the album tho, MAJOR disappointment. All fillers, so boring from start to finish with the exception of “Mr.Chu”. I’ve been following them since Seven Springs and their albums have always been amazing (oc with the exception of that Une Anee mess), Seven Springs was perfect from start to finish, no filler all hits. And Secret Garden was the same, flawless from start to finish.
    8 for title track, but 2.5 for album.

  • BadB*tch

    I prefer this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET1-EvXFl88
    God damn the beginning of this teaser had me soaking

    • Josh Chinnery

      OMJ, I *cannot* stop watching this… Le me is totally thirsty for this nigga too XD

  • KingBeaArthur

    *sips Perrier as I read this*

    I’m not a huge A Pink fan anymore, but I do get the appeal of them. There’s always going to be an audience for 19+ skin exposure and ass-centric choreography, as well as the audiences that need to believe in pouting, school girl outfits, and sugary ‘oppas’. To each his own!

    The song is alright; nowhere near my fave from them. But I’m sure it’ll be a huge hit!

  • Powerful

    As an international fan, I have to say that the attitude of a lot of international fans has been the worst thing to happen to Kpop recently. There’s nothing wrong with not liking a concept. But it gets annoying when International fans think that they know what is real Kpop more than the Koreans, and start taking “ownership” of the genre saying that this group or that group is ruining their precious Kpop because it’s too weird or too cutesy. You don’t have to like a concept but don’t trash it because it makes you feel insecure because you’re fragile immature ego can’t handle being embarrassed in front of your peers who don’t do Kpop. They seem to forget the KOREAN in Kpop.

    • Omg totally agree. And I hate that people act like a cute concept is somehow inferior or immature to other concepts. Doing extreme skin exposure is just as immature as a cute concept, just in different way. Both concepts have their own value and I wish more people could appreciate the different concepts instead of just acting like only one kind is acceptable.

      • Powerful

        It’s getting to the point where I’m starting to cringe now whenever I see overtly sexy concepts. There’s nothing wrong with them. A lot of girl groups have pulled it off successfully in the past and I’ve enjoyed them. But because it’s been so played out by now, where it seems that the sexy concept is more important than the song and choreography themselves, and I’m rolling my eyes. I thoroughly enjoyed “Mr. Chu” and thought the concept was done well, without being overly sweet. The girls came off classy and beautiful and the MV was refreshing. I still prefer SNSD’s “Gee” concept to anything that they’ve put out since, although I do realize that groups have to evolve their image as they mature. At least, the haters should allow APink to go through their innocent phase naturally while they’re young and the only group really doing that style.

  • yosafbridge

    Is it just me or are Girl’s Day and Apink (and to a smaller extent Secret) fighting a death battle to be the next tier of girl group after SNSD/Sistar/2NE1?

  • U_Wot_U_Wot

    first listen: holy hell, I’ve met livelier walls than this song. Mr Chu can go suck off the heaping mess of manure that is Suju-M’s swing.

    But I’ve since repented- forgive me APinku (Christ alive is Naeun fit as well. me gusta)