Girls’ Generation took a few big risks with singles like “The Boys” and “I Got a Boy,” but that was back when they were at peak popularity and could get away with it. Now they’re a little older and younger groups are topping search rankings and trending on PANN, so SM has shifted its focus from pushing the envelope to pleasing the public.
They first tried this approach with the underrated “Mr.Mr.,” but then literally everything outside of the song itself went wrong: The music video was deleted right before release, the audio leaked online, 2NE1 made their comeback and so on and so forth. It was such a disaster that what was actually a great song (and album!) was completely overshadowed by all this other stuff, and it ultimately torpedoed what would’ve been an excellent era otherwise.
Now SM’s determined to get it right with SNSD’s upcoming fifth studio album, which is getting the YG promo treatment by having three official singles instead of the usual one.
The first of the trio is a sunny electropop track called “Party,” which sounds like a cross between Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and an E-Girls single. With that in mind, you won’t be surprised to learn that the “Party” producer, Albi Albertsson, actually produced E-Girls’ “Diamond Only.”
The music video, shot on location on a Thai beach, panders to the masses just as much as the song does. You can just imagine SM executives holed up in a boardroom pitching concepts: “Well, the public will like seeing SNSD having fun on the beach, so let’s just do that.”
But you know what? It is fun seeing SNSD on the beach! It’s like watching the sequel to Paradise In Phuket. What’s wrong with that?
This is where it gets hard for me, because context is key when reviewing something. Would “Party” be a let down on its own as the sole title track from the new SNSD album? Of course it would be. But if this was the group’s next Japanese single (which it probably was originally), then you’d like it more because your expectations wouldn’t be so sky high. Now look at it as just one part of a triple A-side release–it’s even better, right?
However, I think the deciding factor on whether or not the “Party” comeback is any good or not is the official b-side, “Check.” Produced by Teddy Riley and the Danish dude behind “Hoot,” “Check” is sexy, electro R&B that should shut those people up who’ve been demanding a more mature SNSD for years. If SM had the guts to give SNSD a legitimately sexy concept like Girl’s Day or Hyosung, then then they could set the stage on fire with this.
So, if you don’t like “Party,” you’ll like “Check.”
As usual, overreacting pitchfork-wielding K-pop fans will probably act like SNSD literally just spat in their face and killed their dog because they couldn’t produce another song on the level of “Genie,” but overall, taking everything into account, this comeback is pretty solid so far–it’s just not spectacular. It’s basically shaping up to be one of SNSD’s awesome Japanese albums, just in Korean, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
On another note, am I the only one that wishes SNSD had recorded “Hurt Locker”? I don’t like that song for Nine Muses, but I think I’d like it more from Girls’ Generation.