Wonder Girls Pull Off The Rare Perfect Reboot With '80s Time Warp 'I Feel You'
You Can't Go Wrong With '80s PopIncredible Music Video And ConceptRidiculously Sexual, Yet Still Somehow TastefulRetro Done Right
Hyelim Looked Awkward When They Splashed The Water On Her...
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Technically speaking, if we’re going to judge by sales and CFs and hallyu success, then Girls’ Generation is the biggest Korean girl group of the past decade. But whether or not they’re the most iconic, the most loved, at least in Korea, is debatable.

Many would say that that honour belongs to the Wonder Girls, whose seminal hit “Tell Me” was the catalyst for a whole new era of girl group pop much in the same way that Seo Taiji and Boys’ “Nan Arayo (I Know)” birthed a new epoch of K-pop in the early nineties.

tell me gif

If you stack up their major singles, Wonder Girls’ hits catalogue is rather modest compared to their contemporaries like SNSD, T-ara, and 2NE1, but many Koreans will tell you that there hasn’t been a song since “Tell Me” to take over the nation like that JYP-produced classic did in 2007.

I’m not going to go into Wonder Girls ill-fated American debut or their decline in popularity because that narrative is beyond boring at this point. I’m interested in the present: a ‘rebooted’ Wonder Girls now promoting as a band with a sort of new/old lineup and a sexy new look.

These are all firsts for the group –a different mix of members, a grown up image, a band concept– but it all feels refreshingly familiar. Despite their changes, Wonder Girls have still kept the one thing that’s been their secret to success all these years: really good, really catchy, really retro songs.

“I Feel You,” the lead single from their new ’80s-heavy album Reboot, is a time warp back to the decade’s musical mainstays like quivering synth-pop and freestyle club beats. It wouldn’t be a stretch to call it an early Exposé record, literally. There’s barely a difference, and as a fan of Exposé I mean that in the most complimentary way possible.

Expos_Point_Of_No_Return

(Sidenote: Rookie boy band ROMEO also recently released a freestyle single.)

With only one strong vocalist left in the group (Yenny, obviously), Wonder Girls’ singing style is now primarily breathy proclamations of lust and whispered erotic nothings. This carries over to the chorus. which is soft and lush, allowing the real hook of the song to be a captivating synth refrain. It’s a technique used in countless ’80s hits — think A-ha’s “Take On Me” (or once again, Exposé or any freestyle track).

Unlike other retro groups like INFINITE, MAMAMOO, and pre-scandal T-ara, I like that Wonder Girls didn’t try to modernize “I Feel You.” Everything is deliciously vintage and of the time, and not in a contrived I-added-a-VHS-filter-and-some-other-crap-from-the-90s kind of way.

The music video –a sex-soaked Robert Palmer-homaging journey into vaginal moisture which plays out in the form of a classic MTV clip– introduces “I Feel You” as being from 1987. It’s an interesting choice considering that “Tell Me” was built on a sample of Stacey Q’s “Two of Hearts,” a similarly synth-heavy song released just one year before the pretend date of “I Feel You.”

Either J.Y. Park is giving a sly wink to “Tell Me” for fun, or he’s hoping that he’ll strike gold again by tapping into the same era that inspired one of K-pop’s biggest hits.

wonder girls gif

As I said before, Wonder Girls are promoting as a ‘real’ band for this comeback despite Park producing “I Feel You.” But are they really playing instruments and writing music? Were The Bangles a real band? Is Maroon 5 a real band? Is YG real hip-hop? Who cares.

The other question is: Are there better songs on Reboot than “I Feel You”? From quickly skipping through the album I’d say possibly (“Candle,” anyone?), but the music on Reboot ranges from old-school rap-rock to full-blown new wave. A Wonder Girls single should never be too complicated or alienating. In that regard, “I Feel You” is similar to the perfect pop of Carly Rae Jepsen, a songstress who’s become a master at making shiny ’80s records which are impossibly catchy and chart-friendly without sacrificing substance or quality. (Taylor Swift’s 1989 is the opposite; a retro-tinged album that’s frustratingly commercial, joyless, and smug.)

So, how do I end this review? Wonder Girls reclaimed their crown! Wonder Girls showed y’all how retro is really done! Wonder Girls saved K-pop! In this case, I think the music speaks for itself.

  • Hyoyeon: The White Babe

    What a better way to comeback but to bring with them music’s finest era?! This slayed me so hard – the Robert Palmer homage, the sets, the costumes, the makeup, the album – all screaming 80s!!! I feel so blessed lmao.

    My fave though is the opener Baby Don’t Play because it is serving some citypop realness from the first beat drop and I love it!

    Tsk, sticking to your signature and beloved sound really does wonders when executed properly- it reminds me why Namyu’s Hurt Locker is sad.

    But enough of Nine Muses, WG slayed so hard and SNSD was right to call them their rivals – those two are up there, #EVERYBODYKNOWS

    • More people need to admit Hurt Locker wasn’t cute for Nine Muses. Would’ve been better as an SNSD song since it’s better than Catch Me If You Can. I kinda wish Nine Muses had done Vibrato

      • Hyoyeon: The White Babe

        I kinda agree that Hurt Locker would be a perfect fit for SNSD but from what I have observed, they are also the only group that dares to tackle choreo as intense as CMIYC despite Stiffany and Undead Sunny. So let’s give both to them lmao.

        That’s what I thought too, Namyu should’ve gotten Vibrato. But it looks like Stellar is picking up the lane that they left. Fool is their Dolls while Vibrato is their Wild and I love it!! They can slutshame Stella all they want but they are establishing a solid discography so pea brained knetz will deal!

        • Fool was so flawless, I was so mad that people said it was “boring” (including Stellar basically lmfao).

          I love Vibrato but it’s actually my least favourite of their singles post Marionette. It still slays tho.

          • Hyoyeon: The White Babe

            i semi stanned stellar during marionette actually and i actually understood the meta realness thaf theyre serving here lol. but just because theyre nugu they cant be conceptual and meta like gain?! nooooo xd

      • ByronZ

        “Vibrato”‘s chorus sounds a bit like “Figaro” actually XD

      • roelm

        I think Vibrato was specifically tailored for Stellar and would not
        really suit Namyu. For some reason, I would expect a song for Namyu to
        be bouncier or catchier.

  • KingBeaArthur

    I was a bit thrown (but still slayed) by the bait & switch of the individual teasers, but once the mv teaser dropped I was in 1,000%. “I Feel You” is a sexy, nostalgic nod to the 80s that feels dated in the best way possible.

    MV is brilliant. Boy, did they commit! [Yenny’s determination with that ice cube = everything]

    “Reboot” is rock solid! From the opening seconds of “Baby Don’t Play” I knew it was going to be a ride, and I wasn’t disappointed one bit. My favorite songs so far are: One Black Night, Loved, When Love Is About To Leave, & of course, I Feel You.

  • i am totally slayed! they look kinda like sky ferreira [pre-night time my time] but hotter. the MV is flawless and i only have one objection: i NEED more yubin! all i need from them to become my favorite group again is a repackage with an 80’s slasher movie concept! <3

    jyp has been on a roll this year! it's so amazing to see him producing such amazing songs for his artists that it leaves me slightly inclined to forget that who's your momma horror fest.

    • lucinda veen

      Even JYP’s butt song has grown on me, I’m ashamed to say. Like…really ashamed to say.

  • Lin Yang

    While I love the song, I just can’t but think how much better this song would be if Sunye was there to belt and carry the chorus and song with Ye Eun :(

    • Actually, one of the things with a lot of 80s girl bands is they had one main singer and everyone else did backup lol, so it kind of fits them having Yenny be the main vocal and the others just whispering and rapping

  • Lin Yang

    Plus, what are you thoughts on Ye Eun’s “Me?” album? Personally, I loved it and found it very artistic, poetic and showcased her strengths as a singer, producer and writer. That album made me wish for JYP to give Ye Eun creative control over their future Wonder Girls albums.

    • I really liked that album, although I think Reboot overall is more creative production wise, but Me? was good. Honestly everything WG does is amazing minus The Dj Is Mine

    • Hyoyeon: The White Babe

      Me? was really excellent. While waiting for Reboot i was binge streaming Ha:tfelt! Bond and Iron Girl ftw

  • vjx89

    This song/MV is giving me LIFE. How i managed to survive 25 years on the Earth without “I feel you” is one of the greatest misteries of humankind. I’m slayed, wig-snatched, dead and resurrected by this perfect comeback.

  • Marhaebwa

    MY WIG! MY FUCKING WIG!

  • MolkangMolkang

    ‘Hyelim Looked Awkward When They Splashed The Water On Her…’

    That Lim hate… The girl is adorable in that shot. I HAVE NO REGRETS. The whole album is amazing though, on par with their past two comebacks and actually raising the bar in some aspects. I hoped for something darker like with Ha:tfelt but I’m cool with it because they commit to concepts. They’re consistent, amazingly so.

  • Db
    • Suzy Sooyoung

      same!!!

    • Lin Yang

      Took me a while to get it, and when it hit me I laughed my ass off

  • Suzy Sooyoung

    Fucking perfection. No words can describe how I feel about this song!!!!! It better SLAY the charts and pockets of koreans.

  • ByronZ

    I’m loving the whole album!
    “One Black Night” <3

  • qribom

    I can’t get over how perfect everything is!!!! They all look so resplendent! I can’t pick a fav. This is my favorite WG lineup so far!!!!!

  • JammySmoochie

    With each new listen, I Feel You becomes even greater than it already is. The Wonder Girls prove they are nowhere near finished. This right here is how you make a comeback. The dedication to the concept, the maturity, the visuals, the everything… I am actually shaking and crying from the perfection.

    Playing the Reboot album right now. I’m at track number 5 and this record is not playing games. Reboot might even surpass Wonder World. I can’t even. Wonder Girls slayyyyy!

    • Exactly right, I Feel You is a song that just gets better and better each spin, it’s insanely addictive, definitely the best of the year

      • JammySmoochie

        I’m not ready to give I Feel You that title yet (because BEG comeback is still happening, right? #PrayforBEG) but goddamn did they deliver.

        And can you imagine the live stages? God, I need the live stages now. For now, I’ll just call I Feel You as the most satisfying comeback from a senior group.

  • Riley Biers

    I love the song but I feel like WG can only pull off retro songs. None of their singles have ever been modern sounding. It’s like they’re some homage band.

  • Darwin

    This would be perfect if my pickle tickled as hard for 80s pop as all you thirsty b*tches lol

  • Sunny

    it’ll take me some time to get used to a non-idol version of Wonder Girls. I never imagined in a million years for a kpop group to release a freestyle single but it feels so perfect now that i see WG take a try at it. My friend is obsessed with the freestyle sound so i know she’ll love this.

  • Nicole Naeun

    I can’t say anything other than DAEBAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!
    Oh how I missed that “J..Y..P..” line <3

  • Leonardo Henrique

    Can we talk about how pussy popping is Candle? Like, i can clearly see some ahjummas (and gay ass ahjusshis) remembering about when they used to get down on the Seuol gay night in the 80’s and popped real hard
    SLAYED
    SCALPED