An Honest Review of T-ara’s “So Crazy”

Having garnered some facebook reposts and even the kindess of a non-Eric (or Janine!) commenter for my “Honest Review of 8NSD’s ‘Party'”, it’s time we give an honest review of my beloved goddesses in T-ara, who have never done anything wrong, and their latest release “So Crazy”.

Last year, I gave T-ara and Shinsadong Tiger’s techno-pop single “Sugar Free” a pretty hard time.  Lately I’ve come to feel this was all a bit unfair, even if “Sugar Free” did indeed represent the long-awaited End Of The Line in T-ara’s long stretch of Shinsadong Tiger-produced dance singles, which in a curious way, from “Roly Poly” through “Sugar Free”, replicated the modern history of “dance music”.  “Sugar Free” is the coldest of these songs, and so can’t really command affection the way the others do, but it is in its way an exhiliarating exercise in sonic assault, even as it robotizes T-ara’s distinctive charms almost to the event horizon of impersonality.  An experiment that had to be?  Perhaps.  And the rest of the album (especially the glorious “I Don’t Want You”) was fantastic.

Now T-ara has come back with “So Crazy”, their long-dreaded collaboration with Brave Brothers, and after mulling over the mv for a few spins I find this piece of trivia online:

When I first heard the teaser for T-ara‘s Brave Brothers-produced comeback single, “So Crazy,” I immediately thought that it’d be a 2014 AOA rehash. After all, the song was recorded last year and was almost released in place of “Sugar Free,” [ . . .]

–OMG!  Not just Brave Brothers– but moldy old Brave Brothers from the back of the fridge too!

The reviewer above takes a very positive attitude on the two albums 4Minute did with Brave Brothers– the records that basically destroyed my love for 4Minute– so we’re going to take a divergent attitude on this new T-ara single.  Though it obviously does in fact swipe a bunch of stuff (Paatay tonite!) from “Whatcha’ Doin’ Today?”, on the whole “So Crazy” sounds to me mostly like generic early SISTAR and some of the lesser AOA.  If anything, “Whatcha’ Doin’ Today”, though hoakey, was a bit more forward-thinking than “So Crazy” (I mean music-wise; the 4Minute video was only “forward thinking” in the WORST way), so “So Crazy” can’t claim to be Brave Brothers at his edgiest.  Is that a blessing?  Well, if we think of AOA’s “Like a Cat”, Brave Brothers at his most creative, then no, because it just might’ve been within Brave’s creative reach to do something for T-ara that would sound formidable and fresh.  On the other hand, Brave’s thinking outside his box can give us something like Hello Venus’ risible “Wiggle Wiggle”, so the generic quality of “So Crazy” at least spares T-ara from total embarrassment.

“So Crazy” starts out well enough, but by the chorus it’s deflated into such generic Brave Sound pastiche my ears give up.  Yes, my angels flirt prettily in their sailor costumes; but even that, creatively speaking, is at the level of some low-grade J-pop release (a live-action “Target” maybe?).  Only think of the creative energy of the delirious “Bunny Style” video, and the “So Crazy” mv vanishes.  And why are we rehashing so many visual motifs from “Do You Know Me?” but on a cheaper scale?  And why is poor Boram reduced to taking selfies with her bullies, while Soyeon gets to flirt and grimace at boys along with Eunjung and Hyomin?  Boram really needs a husband soon, btw.  She’s 29!

Oh, and remember how people said EXID’s LE was impersonating Hyomin on “Sugar Free”?  Well, damn if it doesn’t sound like AOA’s Jimin is all over this thing, doesn’t it?  Maybe that’s just a stylistic quirk Brave shoehorned Hyomin (or whoever) into.  But still . . . .

Anyway, as a T-ara fan who’s lived through the Hwayoung “scandal” and schizo Ahreum joining the band and the horrendous Vegas debacle, there are worse things I could’ve lived to see than “So Crazy”.  So as a completest who wants to support the girls in all their endeavors, I can stand to listen to this once in a while and maybe get excited to see them perform cutely on Show! Music Core.  It won’t be an earworm like “Vanilla Shake” and it’ll hardly inspire tears of dazzlement and divine heartache like “Remember”, but I guess it’ll be tolerable.  I mean, it’s not as good even as “Phone Number”, but this wouldn’t make a bad single for Tahiti.  Would it?

Ah, but the question isn’t whether “So Crazy” is an acceptable single for some nugu  or also-ran ensemble, it’s whether it’s an acceptable single for the illustrious T-ara.  And the answer, obviously, is no.

Word in the comments is that T-ara is saving up a new Sinsadong Tiger production for their Chinese album.  Oh, really?!?  You know, I’m pretty sure I’d already heard about the Chinese album, but honestly, I’d filed that thought away in the Wishful Thinking category, so I don’t think I’d entertained the possibility that T-ara might actually record new material and all for their Chinese market– which has become the new citadel of T-aramania and T-aravenue.

The Wonder Girls– who are now once again a Thing again– once did a Chinese language album.  Is T-ara, in compromising themselves with a defrosted Brave Brothers recording, bidding adieu to the Korean pop machine as they pivot to their adoptive commercial homeland?  Can a billion Chinese finally give T-ara the superstar stature Korea finally denied them?

Whatever the answer, I daresay “So Crazy” won’t make a dent in the charts.  Though since Brave Brothers has risen to such commercial preeminence on such shaky musical foundations, strange horrible things could happen.  “So Crazy” could do what “Number 9” and “Sexy Love” couldn’t, and restore T-ara to commercial ascendance in their native land.

But I really don’t think that’ll happen.  No, Korean teenybopperdom will never “forgive” T-ara; and if they did, it wouldn’t be for such a lackluster recording as “So Crazy”.  So let us await instead this Chinese album, and see if T-ara, transposed into the Mandarin idiom, recapture the glory of Absolute First Album and Jewelry Box.

— But I’m almost forgetting, there’s supposed to be some sort of mini-album attached to “So Crazy”?!  But will that be a bunch of leftovers too?  We shall soon (hopefully!) see!

 

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