What do you do when you’ve got nothing left to lose? In Hyomin’s case, the answer is simple: everything.
While bandmate Jiyeon went for a sensual yet understated approach with her solo single “1min1sec,” Hyomin’s solo effort, the Brave Brothers-produced “Nice Body,” is about as subtle as Bangerz era Miley Cyrus.
Bangerz’s garishness is fitting since the “Nice Body” music video borrows heavily from Miss Miley, snatching up everything from the hipster house party theme of “We Can’t Stop” to the slutty-sporty style of “23.” Hyomin also signals her transformation from T-ara member to solo star by cutting her hair short and dying it blonde, but just in case her inspiration wasn’t obvious enough, she twerks. (On another note, I can’t be the only one that noticed the similarities to Beyonce’s “Party” and/or Khia’s “My Neck My Back” videos.)
Considering Miley’s standing as a blemished pop princess moonlighting as a professional troll, she’s an interesting choice for Hyomin’s muse. T-ara’s already Korea’s answer to Miley Cyrus as far as tabloid scandals are concerned, so Hyomin’s decision to channel the good-girl-gone-bad so blatantly can be read a few different ways. She might be using Miley as a symbol of rebellion and irreverence, antagonizing the haters just like she did with T-ara N4’s F.U. anthem “Countryside Life”; or perhaps she simply relates to Miley as a young female celebrity who’s been unfairly maligned by the media and overshadowed by constant controversy. Either way, there’s a lot more to this copied concept than your usual K-pop swagger jack.
I don’t need to tell you that the song is obviously derivative of >>>insert almost any Brave Brothers hit from the past two years here<<<, but lately Brave’s been making more of an effort to twist the template by adding different genres into his production. His current obsession seems to be various forms of elevator music; first with the smooth jazz stylings of AOA’s “Short Hair,” and now with “Nice Body,” which is a hip-hop song that also sounds like a cheesy cruise ship band trying to perform some light reggae at a wedding reception. For that reason, it reminds me more of Brave Girls’ underrated reggae flop “Easily” than any one of Brave Brothers’ recent hits.
“Nice Body” isn’t an instant gratification record like “Short Hair” or FIESTAR’s “One More”; it’s more laidback and vibey, with a hook that creeps instead of leaps. It takes a few spins to fully appreciate, but it’s hard to dislodge once it’s in your head.
The song’s seemingly superficial lyrics have drawn a lot of criticism from K-pop fans so far, and while I’d love to defend them as some misunderstood satirical jab at Korea’s crazy beauty standards, I can’t. Not because I don’t want to, but because I just don’t get it. I really can’t tell if Hyomin’s tongue is in her cheek or not. If it isn’t, then “Nice Body” still works as a brutally honest aspirational anthem that tells us that reward doesn’t come without sacrifice. And if it is social criticism disguised as pop music, then Hyomin is an even bigger troll than Miley is.
Either way, Hyomin just dropped the K-pop song of the summer. I know we’re still early into the season and she could easily be trumped before Autumn hits, but the competition’s gonna have to bring it if they want to dethrone this smash.