Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kara's Electrifying New Single

Oh hey, look what I'm reviewing! K-pop! Except not really because the single I'm reviewing today is a J-pop single that just happens to be by a K-pop artist. Yep, today we're throwing aside Halloween PVs and Perfume to take a look at Kara! Remember them? I wrote a PV review of their last single months ago but since then, I haven't really brought them up my on my blog. Which is weird because Kara is one of the few K-pop acts I actually pay some attention to! Okay, I just look at their J-pop singles but still! It's more than most K-pop artists that are popular right now... And so, as Kara is finally releasing another single, I thought it'd be fun to take a look at it! I didn't really want to review the PV so today, we're taking a look at Kara's 5th Japanese single titled Electric Boy! I'll go through each song on the single, give a review and finally rate it on a scale of 0 to five using my handy-dandy Apple Rating System! I've got my apples ready and I'm ready to review so let us begin!


Okay, who got fired over at Hello! Project? Seriously, guys, who got fired? Because my theory is that someone over at H!P got fired and then got hired by Kara's producers to design the costumes for their next single. These outfits practically scream Hello! Project concert! They're shiny, brightly-colored, tacky and the girls look like Christmas ornaments in them! It's weird because normally Kara's a group that gets pretty decent looking outfits. What happened here then? Oh well, I suppose you can't get it right every time. But I still can't believe just how H!P these costumes look, especially the pink and white ones on the Limited C cover pictured at the top of my review. The blue and white outfits in the Limited B cover aren't quite as bad but both outfits are still pretty atrocious. The only outfits that look remotely decent are the outfits on Limited A mainly because they just look like party dresses, albeit very shiny party dresses. In fact, all three outfits looked very shiny; the covers looked shiny, particularly Limited C. I mean, seriously look at that! Shiny mirrors, shiny costumes, shiny everything! Another thing about this cover was that I got some serious Chocolate Disco vibes from the way the cover pics were shot. I mean seriously, look at the cover and then look at this promo pic for Perfume's Chocolate Disco. Then again, the mirror-pose isn't exactly an uncommon concept for idols (or... artists in general actually) but I can't help but when I see something similar to something my my favorite J-pop group has done, I can't help but bring up a comparison! Other than noticing Kara snuck into Hello! Project and stole five of their costumes for their single, I can't say much else about these covers and outfits. They're not terrible as far as covers got but nothing that would ever really stand out to me. Still, considering the shitty covers I've seen in the past year, I'm thankful for mediocrity. 

Electric Boy

The title track of this single is, you guessed it, electrifying! Or is it? I have to admit, for a song with the word "electric" in the title, this song was a lot less electropop-induced than I thought it would be. I guess I should learn never to judge a song by its title but I can't help it! I was expecting Perfume-style electropop, with an electronic instrumental and vocals Autotuned to hell! However, in the end, the song I got was a lot less electropop than I was expecting but that's not a bad thing. One of the problems I had with Speed Up, the group's previous A-side, was the gratuitous Autotune and in Electric Boy there's none of that! And I really like that; the song doesn't need Autotune because it's not a 100% electropop song. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of electropop elements in the song but Electric Boy is at its core more of a purely pop song. And I like it! I love this song; it has a ton of energy and it has a really catchy chorus! There's also this one part in the verses that's really catchy but I think that's because it sounds kind of like a little song I used to sing when I was a kid. But I digress. Something I've always admired about Kara is that their Japanese singles have a distinct J-pop song in that they still sound original but they still sound like releases by a Japanese artist. If you played this song to me, I'd never expect that the group who sang it was part of the hallyu wave. Honestly, a group that reminds me a lot of Kara is Weather Girls, the other foreign group that has become my guilty pleasure because Koi no Tenki Yohou is fucking awesome. What group am I talking about again? ANYWAYS! The strongest aspect of Electric Boy is its flow; it's a song that has a really nice flow and never feels stilted or awkward. I feel like every part blends together perfectly and the variety of sounds and the electronic-infused instrumental works especially well for a song titled Electric Boy!

As for the PV... okay, seriously, who got fired from Hello! Project? This PV is in the exact same format as 90% of the H!P PVs: dance shot, some close-ups, atrocious costumes, finito. Then again, it's not quite as cheap as a Hello! Project PV... still, I was rather surprised when the PV came out because usually Kara's PVs were a little more high-budget than your typical idol PV but who knows? Maybe the agency ran out of money! Yeah, this isn't one of Kara's best PVs out there. Even though Speed Up and Girl's Power aren't my favorite songs by Kara, I can still admit that both had some very well-done PVs. This one is... different. First of all, the set for the dance shot is very cheap, consisting of brightly colored cardboard cutouts of buildings. It makes me feel like I'm watching a kid's show on PBS! I do admit, there are sections of it that I do like but overall, it's just not the best looking set in the world. The dance itself is okay, nothing terribly innovative but nice to look at! However, the dance would look ten times better if Kara had gotten some different costumes! I swear those tin-foil outfits look so tacky! Who in their right mind thought that Kara would look good in them!? At least after the bridge, Kara gets an outfit change into simple white dresses; I'll take simplicity over tackiness any day! Something else to note is the close-ups are pretty much exactly like Chocolate Disco (funny how I keep bringing Perfume up in this review...) with the reflected mirrors, an effect that was also used in Morning Musume's One Two Three. And it's another fairly cheap effect but I will admit it looks pretty cool. So my general consensus is the song is awesome but you don't have to watch the PV to enjoy it. If you want to see Kara in a video, then you can watch this but for me this PV's just too cheap and tacky. Still, the song is totally awesome!

Electric Boy absolutely gets five out of five apples from me! It's a strong and insane catchy song that fits into that J-pop niche that Kara has managed to carve out. While it may not be as electropop-y as I wanted it to be, it's still a really awesome and fun song!


Slowing down the the single is the B-side and it's a ballad. Now as you all know I am extremely particular when it comes to ballads. There's only a handful of ballads that I consider to be great. I've said over and over again that I think the biggest pitfall when taking on a ballad is the sheer lack of energy. It's hard to keep me entertained with ballads because most of them lack energy and don't stand out enough musically to grab me. The ballads I do like are the ones that are emotional, the kind where you can hear the emotion in the singer's voice and identify with their feelings regardless of language. Kara's ballad is... not that. First of all, it starts out with this sound effect that I can only call "the sparkle." I don't know how to really describe it but you know that noise that's usually paired with the visual of an object sparkling or glittering? That's what it is and I swear I have heard "the sparkle" open up so many ballads; it's a total cliche and it made me go into this song expecting that I wasn't going to like it. And as I listened to the verses, I didn't like it. Don't get me wrong, the verses weren't bad but like many other ballads, they were very bland. Pretty but bland, with no chances or anything to shake it up. The vocals were soft like a typical ballad and vocally I couldn't feel any emotion coming from the girls. However, I can't fully slam this ballad because the song does get better when you get to the chorus. That might be because the song gets slightly louder and the vocals have a little bit more energy to them. I just think the chorus has more power and impact than the lackluster verse; in hindsight, I guess the verses were meant to be a build-up to that more powerful chorus but damn, is it dull getting through them.

Overall, I'm pretty 50/50 on Orion but because I'm in a generous mood, I'll give the song 3 out of 5 apples. It's not the worst ballad out there but it could have been better. The song has a nice chorus; if only the verses could sound more interesting.


Okay, technically this song is only included on the Limited C edition of the single but I figured I'd review this song too! Why the hell not? I've got time to spend and ears to listen to music! Unlike Orion and Electric Boy, which are both original Japanese singles, Pandora is actually one of Kara's Korean songs released on the K-pop market. In fact, the song isn't even translated into Japanese but keeps its original Korean lyrics. I have to admit, listening to Pandora I could kind of feel the difference between the two languages but I think if I looked up the lyrics to this song, I could tell more. Now the fact that this is a K-pop song is rather significant for me because I barely listen to K-pop; I probably have like K-pop song a year that I really like. I don't pay attention to the K-pop industry but Pandora does give me a nice taste of what Kara's Korean discography sounds like! Stylistically, Pandora is very different from Electric Boy and Orion in that it doesn't sound like a J-pop song. It's very much a K-pop song and for someone who doesn't listen to K-pop a lot, it is a very different style to hear. The song doesn't even sound like a Western song... honestly, I don't really know how to describe the sound of Pandora. At first, I thought the song was okay but it's like after each listen I just like this song more and more. I don't know why because the flow is really strange, especially in the chorus and the song itself has so many weird sounds all meshed together. You'd think it'd be a train wreck and when I listened to this song for the first time, it didn't kind of sound like a mess. But every time I listen to it, the song fits better and better and all the musical choices seem to make more sense to my ears. I can't explain why but I'm really enjoying that mysterious, almost ethereal sound of Pandora. The song reminds me of Sailor Moon of all things, which is something else I can't really explain!

I was actually really curious about the music video for Pandora looked since I'd never watched any of Kara's K-pop videos. I was curious to see how much of a contrast there was between a K-pop music video and a J-pop music video so I figured I'd watch Pandora! And what I've gathered from it is... K-pop videos are pretty sexy, aren't they? I mean, the clothes, the suggestive dancing, the poses, it all seems much more sexy than the J-pop music videos I review. I'm not saying that's a bad thing because there's still fanservice in J-pop PVs; it just feels more obvious in a K-pop video. The Pandora music video felt very sexy and the clothing choices also felt very Western. Then again, I've always gotten a Western vibe from K-pop. Something else I noticed was the PV seemed a little more high budget than Electric Boy but despite the higher budget, I was actually pretty bored by this music video. It just didn't seem like much was going on in it besides Kara looking good. I could make out the concept of Pandora's box (which is what the song was based around, hence the title) but even then, that's only because they showed some random guy holding a glowing box. After that, it's never really elaborated on. The story of Pandora's box is a woman opening a box and unleashing all the evils of the world (that's the short version anyways) and that could have made for a really cool PV. Instead we just get a bunch of various shots of the Kara girls wearing sexy clothing and posing in these high-tech sets and dancing. I guess you could argue that the isolated sets the girls are in are supposed to represent their own personal boxes but then again, how does that relate to a box containing all the evils or the world? Overall, I feel like more could have been explored with the Pandora music video, especially since the song is so intriguing to listen to.

I gotta give Pandora five apples. It's a surprisingly awesome song and I'm surprised that I like it so much since I'm not a huge fan of K-pop. But the strange sound the song has won me over! I don't know what else Kara's Korean songs sound like but if they have more music like Pandora, maybe I should look into it...

The Verdict

Overall, Electric Boy is a huge step-up from Speed Up/Girl's Power. I think every song on this single had its own distinct sound and there was some really nice variety with each track. I love the bouncy and fun electronic sound of Electric Boy and the mysterious and weird sound of Pandora the most. And even though Orion's my least favorite track on the single, it's still a pretty decent ballad! The entire single has a little bit of everything for fans of Kara and I like that a lot! Electric Boys probably one of my favorite singles released by Kara and maybe even one of my favorite singles this year! It's just a well-done and well-rounded single and I enjoy each of the three track on it!

So because I'm in such a good (and Halloween-y!) mood, I'll give Electric Boy 4.5 apples!

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