Girls’ Generation‘s super fun “Party” turned out to be one of my favourite songs of the summer, but I was a little conservative in my ultimately still positive review to avoid the wrath of raging K-pop fans.

For multiple reasons, the international K-pop community is unnecessarily harsh when it comes to anything Soshi related. I still remember the outpouring of pure vitriol aimed my way after I dared to give the genre-bending “I Got a Boy” a glowing review (not that I was the only one–every American music critic praised it too). 

i got a boy gif

At this point I’ve learned what most Western K-pop fans want from SNSD, and it’s not in line with what I want. They don’t want sweet, girly SNSD, and they don’t want innovative SNSD. They want SNSD to be the closest thing to Western girl groups as possible, which is outdated Fifth Harmony-esque ‘edge’ with generic KIIS-FM music to match–“Catch Me If You Can” is one example, as is the group’s newest single, “You Think.”

“You Think” was produced by Dante Jones, whose biggest credit is Kelly Clarkson’s safe radio-fodder hit, “Mr. Know It All” (no surprises there). It isn’t terrible by any means, but it does sound like a Fifth Harmony b-side (yes, b-side–“You Think” doesn’t come close to an addictive smash like “Worth It”).

worth it gif

Last month some K-poppers made fun of the kid-friendly sound of “Party” by pairing the song with an old Barbie commercial on YouTube. It was hilariously accurate, but funnily enough, “You Think” isn’t any more mature than “Party” is. It’s just a better version of the same urban-pop stuff that a young Disney starlet would release early on in their career–think Zendaya or Ashley Tisdale.

I mean, c’mon: People want to bash “Party” for being a younger take on Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” but then sing-a-long to a chorus with the lyrics “You think you’re real cooooooool?” Give me a break.

Thankfully, Soshi more than makes up for “You Think” with their other new single, the gorgeous retro throwback (and title track from their new album) “Lion Heart.”

taeyeon

Girls’ Generation’s been bringing their bubblegum flavour to vintage pop-soul throwbacks for years now (everything from “Twinkle” and “Romantic St.” to “My Oh My” and “Dancing Queen”). “Lion Heart” is more of that–it’s so vintage candy that it even steals a delicious chunk straight from the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” (or, if you prefer, Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”).

There can’t possibly be a perfect musical inspiration for a group as sweet and girly as SNSD than “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch.”

Pie Gif

The lovely, vintage production of “Lion Heart” is thanks to Sean Alexander, whose previous credits includes great stuff like ToHeart’s “Delicious,” Amber’s “Love Run,” and Kim Hyung Joong’s “Tonight.”

Whether you’re more “Lion Heart” or “You Think,” the great thing about this era is that there’s something for everyone. On an individual singles basis it’s probably Girls’ Generation’s weakest era, but overall it might just be their strongest. The Lion Heart album is just as good as I Got a Boy and the Mr.Mr. mini (if not better), and all three of the selected singles (and their stunning music videos) have perfectly captured the different sides of Girls’ Generation.

I don’t often say this about the singles-heavy K-pop genre, but Lion Heart is one of the few releases that’s best listened to as a full body of work rather than judged on its singles. (There’s even a bossa nova track for God’s sake!)

Overall, the Lion Heart era is the most pure representation of what Girls’ Generation is, both musically and visually. If you don’t like it, then Girls’ Generation just isn’t the girl group for you.


  • KingBeaArthur

    Why can I hear Tiffany rap-singing “He Said She Said” now? Ashley’s legacy is officially ruined(?).

    You pretty much read my mind. All three singles offer something for everyone; all three have positives & negatives (depending on who you ask). Personally, I prefer Lion Heart over You Think & Party, but I appreciate SM giving fans more of the girls AND for giving rising diamond Yuri the chance to shine bright in some standout choreo moments.

    The album is the real star this era though, and is the first SNSD album I love pretty much from start to finish [the closest I got in the past was “I Got A Boy”]

    Lastly: that Barbie vid was perfect! SM missed out on a perfect crossover opportunity.

  • Hyoyeon: The White Babe

    First, Hyo gif on your post >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I am for Lion Heart. The bass and the overall vintage feel is so adorable and positive! Everything just screams cute and happy and who doesn’t want that?!?!? Perhaps because I have heard the You Think demo prior to the release that’s why I’m not totally on board because they didn’t do anything about it like how they tweaked IGAB to a masterpiece that it is now. Still, the album as a whole is quite solid (liking Sign, One Afternoon so far).

    Also, It’s so baffling how SNSD is the group that i-netz love to see to fall down. IDEK where the bitterness is coming from like cmon!

    I super agree with you on how this era is the spectrum of what SNSD can offer. They can switch it up on any category (cute, feminine, sexy) seamlessly (and slay it) but you’d still know it’s SNSD.

    • lol i don’t understand either! and it’s so annoying because by calling some people delusional fans they mostly denounce themselves as delusional haters lol what an ironic contradiction….

      anyways, “you think” is a perfect pop gem, very safe and addictive. i can clearly see myself obsessing about the dance routine later on… however i’m also here for “lion heart” and its beautiful heartwarming and love filling chorus!

      has anyone seen any good translation? something tells me the lyrics are even sadder than whats they sound

    • Adriaan

      I think one of the biggest reasons behind the seemingly large number of people who speak negatively of SNSD is simply the size of the fandom combined with the typical K-pop fan’s “OMG YASSS SLAYYYYYY” demeanour. While pretty much any fandom has a good percentage of fans who seem like they only know those three words, the sheer size of SNSD’s means that non-SNSD fans feel like they’re just constantly being bombarded with that shit. Whether it’s true or not.

  • Johnnyyy

    I enjoy Lion Heart (the song) very much, although I think the video is inappropriate since most of the girls are in their mid 20s and SM still dressed them up as school girls.. They still slay their infectious bubblegum bops, but they could come up with a new concept instead of their usual -dreamy princess-girl-next-door- thing.

    “You Think” is okay, nowhere near as good as Party or Lion Heart though. The real bops of the album are Green Light and Bump It.

  • MolkangMolkang

    The only song I don’t like is “Party” because I thought it was way too safe and even though it was catchy I just refused to like it.

    Lion Heart has the best concept and music video not including the typo and the sudden crab move. The only quarrel I have with the song is that it didn’t have the oomph despite the fact that the chorus was pretty much ingrained in my head after only the teaser.

    You Think is something I like the most because it makes me want to dance (poorly) to it. The Ashley Tisdale’s comparison made me realise why I like it so much, because I’m obsessed with her second album. Rap was off putting but not unbearable and they managed keep the song pumped up the whole way through. I think it’s a nice change to see SNSD do this because I would expect Lion Heart and Party from them but I wouldn’t at first expect You Think.

    I’m still sorta left wishing they’d do something like Black Swan even though it flopped for Rainbow. I’m curious to see how it would go and how they’d pull it off. Something a bit more dark and not in the sense that their typically ‘sexy’ or non-cute singles have been. Black Swan or Marionette/Guilty-esque. Basically I want Stellar and Rainbow to be popular…I can dream…

    • ohh dark soshi would be MARVELOUS! real dark not run devil run…

    • ohh btw! crab move is indeed weird but nevermind it, we’ve got THIS MOMENT! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

      https://youtu.be/nVCubhQ454c?t=2m20s

    • RageX009

      Totally agree on the lack of oomph in Lion Heart, I was mildly surprised they decided to make it the album title track and the main promo, then again we’re talking SM and SNSD, nothing should surprise us anymore. It’s basically My Oh My redone with less pace and less oomph instrumentally and vocally, so it’s very safe, but I’m not letting SM force feed me a regurgitated concept that I was never real keen on. So I sided with You Think, as a stubborn advocate that SNSD needs return to the sound of their Japan albums (I love Jacques’ blog but we know we’re opposites when it comes to this), it was only natural, at least the song has some spunk and attitude.

      All things considered, this is probably as good an album as SNSD will get these days, realistically speaking. The 3rd Japan album already prepared us for a “soft landing”, it was a clear message they will not be doing much more of that “dark” and heavily electronic style we use to see; I hope I’m wrong, maybe Catch Me If You Can was a hint that I am wrong. There’s no hating here, just a slight disappointment.

  • Marhaebwa

    Call me generic but I enjoy “You Think”, like Sunny though…..she was killing it, and Seohyun with the splits, officially dropping her virginal maknae status. All girls need they pussy popped!

    But seriously, There’s something that isn’t really sitting right with me this era. I like Lionheart. I like Party. I like You Think. But everything is kinda disjointed for me.
    If they led everything in one direction, it would have come off better to be honest.

    I know we’re talking about how this displays the spectrum of what SNSD can do, but hasn’t their WHOLE CAREER done that – IGAB to MOM to The Boys to Hoot to (I could keep going) go from end to end, and they always pull it off.

    I just felt like maybe having a double title was a bit distracting. You Think would have made a great repackage!

    HYOYEON!!!!

    • i like consistency, but that’s their thing in japan right?

      that seohyun split, YES!! i loved they chose her from all the others to do that move. and her smirk doing it! TO DIE FOR! i’d lesbian for her if she wanted me.

  • oneclearnight

    I can’t @ international fans bashing Lion Heart when if any other group released it, they’d like it. It’s a lovely song and the vocals are so pretty. Those harmonies *___* (plus the line distribution is great). But international fandom seems to hate cutesy stuff (when it isn’t even that cutesy imo) so what can you expect. *rolls eyes*

    You Think is my jam. I fucking love Sunny’s parts, she nailed it. Her attitude was a+++. SNSD for me are just so good bc they can basically pull off anything (the only other girl group that can do this imo is Kara), and this album shows how versatile they are. I kinda wished they’d split they album in two though (like SHINee’s amazing Misconceptions era) and had an album full of retro goodness (with Lion Heart as the main single) and then You Think with Green Light/Bump It etc on another.

    • well that would be amazing. but we all know SM will never promote snsd musically wise like it allows shinee to be sometimes.

      that said, snsd is a performance oriented group and if we focus on that we have that exact split with both lion heart and you think. but yes i know what you mean, i want more music!

  • snailsong

    party>lion heart>>>green light>>>>>all the other album tracks>>>>>>>>>>>>>>you think

    i wish you think had been more along the lines of the teaser, that was shaping up nicely~

    that said, this era’s been great overall and although i don’t think the album stands up to mr.mr (which is my most beloved snsd album) it’s still really good!

  • Riley Biers

    lmao I can’t help but laugh every time I see Fifth Harmony try to dance, especially with that 7-foot tall 35 year old.

    • Mattey

      LOL. They’re so out of sync with the generic hair flips and drops. Then they just give up at the end of the song and just focus on singing and stand there. Their vocals are sassy though, I’ll give them that. Nice to listen too, but I can’t help but feel bad when I see them dance. They improved, but their moves wouldn’t fly in the Kpop industry, where you literally have groups where members are being carried, standing on top of each other, on poles, wearing 9 inch heels, etc. all in sync.

  • i saw your tweet last night but i wasn’t expecting such full blown rant on i-netz like this. i love it, i feel like you’re my blogger martyr a la joan of arc. hahahaha

    but well, here’s some licking on you mr. jacques: the thing i agree with you most is that most k-pop bloggers don’t admit themselves as what they are – BLOGGERS. i’m a journalism student and i have taken like 3 or 4 critique courses throughout my academic career and well the blogosphere is full of opinions thinking they’re substantial but when you strip them down with some basic questions (like “what in the product made you feel that way?”, “what other examples [from the artist/genre itself or from history you’ve got for comparisson?”) there’s nothing mmore than “likes/dislikes”.

    a reviewer work is more than simply describing the product and/or qualifying it. it’s about pointing out its relevancy, why it’s an interesting and worth paying attention to. and i stick with you ever since i became a kpop stan because, since the prophet days, you’re the only blogger with some substance.

    so there you go, congrats on another amazing review. and i’m glad we agree one more time about soshi.

    • CaptainJoeHook

      You just perfectly explained the problem with music criticism. Too often all I see these days is someone using as much colourful words to describe the music or genre of a song without going any further. It looks nice and can be good writing but it’s not good criticism.

      • well criticism as whole is in crisis or maybe even dead, basically because of just one thing: no one gives a fuck about reading it anymore. basically because no one gives a fuck about reading anything that would take more than 2 minutes and is a thinkpiece with some substantial ideas. so classic criticism is gone forever.

      • and just a note, i don’t think it’s just a blogger problem. i’m from brasil and well, people here just don’t read, and i’ve read – more often than not – stuff from high profile culture magazines and sites or even rolling stone, that omg were cringe worthy

        • Bruno

          I feel you, bro

      • anniefeng

        I so agree with your sentiment. It’s sad how some things have descended. Some of the more ‘unique’ pieces just tear apart albums without really having good reason. It’s ‘eye catch’ and it sells magazines, but it is NOT good writing.

    • Thanks boo <3

      Since I didn't even finish high school I'm glad I've managed to do something right lmao!

  • Preach!
    (Actually, I like Bump It and You Think much more than Lion Heart. But I want Love and Girls SNSD more than generic KIIS-FM SNSD. IGAB SNSD would be great, too, but that’s asking too much.)

    • Bump It is so amazing! I love how it starts off like it’s a ballad then it gives you that urban pop realness

  • leesigh3

    Why does SM try so much harder on f(x) albums than SNSD albums?

  • Bruno

    I enjoyed both songs. You Think is a terrific generic bop straight outta 2008. It sounds like a long lost album track from PCD or Good Girl Gone Bad, which is why I love it (5th Harmony could NEVER). Lion Heart is also great, I just wish it was shorter and more doo wop oriented, that would make the song pop even more. Overall, this was their best comeback in a while.

    • That’s a good point about PCD and GGGB.

      That would be the most optimistic way of looking at it, while the 5H/Disney song is the most negative. I think I swayed to the latter coz I thought it was hypocritical that Party was trashed so much, and then Lion Heart, but everybody is stanning You Think!

      If I think about You Think as an old PCD song it’ll totally make me like it lol!

  • Mattey

    I’m guilty of being a bigger fan of You Think more than Lion Heart because I’ve been waiting for a girl power badass concept since 4Minute. Although You Think’s lyrics are not good, the sass is real and I love it. And I’m glad to see Sunny shine more (it’s about fucking time SM), but Yoona was almost nonexistant. She had like one line which overlapped with the others so nobody knew she was singing and she basically just danced in the front to get attention. Line distribution and screentime was way off balanced in this one. But thankfully, Lion Heart made up for those two errors. The choreo is really interesting in LR (Yuri’s leg spreads though) and the Gatsby-outfits fit them. My main reservation is that we went from a carefree, bubbly song (Party) to another one so soon. But LR will still be on repeat for me because it’s that good. I’m probably gonna download the album too, SM albums are usually well made.

    • did you forget that yoona was the queen of “party”? i guess they balanced the line distribution with the 4 songs of work (check including, since it was performed live).

      the yuri leg spread in LH is my favorite thing of many from these comebacks.

      [you acronymized “lion heart” as LR, are you from brasil or speak portuguese? lol]

      • Mattey

        I wasn’t too big on Party, but it seemed equal to me (has Yoona biased glasses on). After reviewing You Think more, she was in the front of the dance sequences they showed, so I guess that counts for something.

        I typed my original comment around 12:30 at night, I guess I was too tired to notice that I acronymized Lion Heart as LR and not LH. Whoops LOL

  • Pez

    “If you don’t like it, then Girls’ Generation just isn’t the girl group for you.”
    Welp. T-ara it is then.

    • anniefeng

      Give ‘Talk Talk’ a try. :) I really enjoyed that one (if you sort of push the lyrics aside and listen to the production and the musicality).

      • Pez

        “if you sort of push the lyrics aside and listen to the production and the musicality”
        That’s like, all I do with k-pop. Will do dude.

  • yosafbridge

    OT : http://www.allkpop.com/article/2015/08/wang-sicong-son-of-chinas-wealthiest-man-signs-t-ara-for-his-new-entertainment-company

    If this is true T-ara may be the first K-pop girl group to become bigger stars internationally than in their own country. How ironic if Korea decided to jump on their bandwagon, bask in their reflected glory and welcome T-ara back to Korea with open arms.

  • Purps

    Finally! I agree on everything you said. I don’t get the usual bashing on cutesy/feminine songs SNSD sells in Korea. It’s the image they sell to the market there. I have nothing against You Think; I think it’s awesome and SeoSun killed me with their prowess, but all the dissing on Party and Lion Heart makes my eyes roll. There’s nothing wrong with SNSD going with that direction. It’s one of the things that has the SNSD stamp all over it. Plus, the opposite image of their Japanese counterpart, SJJD, sure makes up for all the bubbliness they have to sell in Korea.

    That being said, Lion Heart is my favorite Korean album (probably even their best and most cohesive Korean album yet) from SNSD. It exceeded my expectations. I can’t believe SM gave us Bump It and Check this year, too.

  • Sunny

    never thought i’d see that tiny bit of Fifth Harmony praise here lol. Been liking them ever since i discovered their spanish versions of their songs (much better when i don’t understand them)

    back to the main subject, i like that they didn’t over-do it with the vocals. It doesn’t feel too retro as well. Tiffany and Yuri were the stars of this comeback! I’ve been replaying alot of the newest SNSD releases lately (Divine, Catch Me If You Can, Party) and Lionheart is only adding to my growing re-interest in their music. Will try to check out their album whenever i have the time.

  • kasey307

    I’m going to have to disagree with you Jacque about lion heart being the most GG album. I think it’s the least.
    One, 1/3 of the songs sound like Fx leftovers ie; Fire alarm, Greenlight,Sign, Bump it which makes me a lil worried for fx if beats specifically made them are going to other groups.
    Two, 1 of main things that differentiated snsd from many other groups was their memorable/powerful adlibs esp at choruses and their voices always being distinctive.
    That was severely missing from this album. Every member including taeyeon sung in very safe range; like yoona range, so I couldn’t tell who was singing most of the time. I know taeyeon’s voice is damaged but, except for a few times,her lines throughout weren’t vocally challenging or memorable. And being that SHYY has more lines since jessica is out, I thought they would at least try to show more of their vocal range and have a few adlibs but nope. Just straight safe throughout which is so disappointing. I do like that tiffany finally heeded everyone around the world and kept her singing to a bearable level but her occasional out of sync adlibs were annoying. The worst being: “L-o-v-e, yes, right!” in my fav song on the album, Sign. Someone should’ve told her, “B you’re a beat too late.”lol

    Overall I think this album is in the top 4 of their best kr albums musically but vocally the worst of all of them. The definite gems on this album are lion heart, firealarm, paradise,sign and check, the rest are decent but nothing spectacular. I do have to say tho sunny was the stand out of this album. She sounded the best over all the members. I’m so happy that finally she got more lines. That’s all.
    Rant over/

    • I totally see where you’re coming from. Although I think SNSD put their own spin on things, like the f(x) songs, they bring out the femininity of those songs whereas with f(x) there’s more weirdness and edge.

      I think this album really encompasses the different sides of SNSD and they’ve made everything on it their own. i can’t comment on the vocals though because I don’t really pay attention to that stuff unless it’s like BEG or a vocal type group.

  • Marshmellow

    Tiffany looks more and more like wendy williams with every passing day and it makes me wish she had left instead of Jessica.

  • disqus_4Rn1256qw8

    I love I Got a Boy, really like a couple of other songs of theirs like Love & Girls and Beep Beep, and the rest is just okay or downright boring. I assume this album won’t be for me then.

  • Superman

    Here for lion heart over you think

  • anniefeng

    Thanks for your positive, yet critical review. Its been exactly what I’ve ben thinking. It’s their weakest era yet, but overall it might be one of their best. I really appreciated the post. Well though out and flushed. :)

  • Lo

    I would never want SNSD to be Fifth Harmony. I left mainstream western music and joined kpop for the reason that it ISN’T western music, because western music has been sounding like dog shit lately. I like SNSD’s innocence and pureness– there are plenty of girl groups who fit the edgy concept and music style much better, and even if they’re not really Fifth Harmony, people who want Fifth Harmony-esque music can go listen to Fifth Harmony. I don’t understand what the big deal is.

    (That being said, I don’t think this era is flawless but I also don’t really care??)