“Hi”s and “Cupid”

I suddenly realized that that newly-discovered ersatz channel MBC’s made to exile Show Champion‘s broadcasts to must have a trove of Lovelyz performances, and it turns out I’m not mistaken– FOUR, COUNT ‘EM FOUR previously unseen performances of “Hi” for me to savor!  OMG!  So I watched two of them and watched the second one again a couple of times and made some coffee, and in all this excitement I decided to hold off on watching the next two till later, but turned instead to seeing what else they’ve got there [Lovelyz writeup to follow later].

Since this is just a 2015 thing, there isn’t all THAT much, but I am enjoying this performance of my personal sleeper hit of the year, KARA’s zany little disco nugget “Cupid”:

–Not really “disco”, but you get what I mean.  I always liked KARA, but it is one of the more noteworthy revolutions in my pop music tastes that only now, after years of loving Jiyoung and acknowledging the insane but irresistible delights of “Pretty Girl” and “Honey” and all those old classics that I’ve come to listen to and love KARA as a present-tense group.

Granted, my discovery of K-pop coincided with their post-“Step” descent into comparative (though commercially golden) irrelevance.  I often ponder how I thought just that when “Damaged Lady” came out in fall 2013– this had to be some sort of swan song.  Did Nicole and Jiyoung’s unhappiness taint somehow the music too?  “Pandora” and “Damaged Lady” were rather blah.  Now with Youngji they’re so much fun again.  Maybe after all it’s because they all want to be there– though in fairness I don’t think Nicole or Jiyoung ever gave the game away on stage.

Regardless, KARA has shot to the foreground of what I love best in K-pop, and minus the Lovelyz and A Pink comebacks this is probably my favorite single of the year thus far.  –Oh, it’s not as great as Rainbow’s “Black Swan”, and I have to entertain a staunch prejudice in favor of Laboum’s “Sugar Sugar”.  Even so, it has to be top five.  Not miss A, not 4Minute, not Red Velvet can knock this down.  Only the next Lovelyz comeback will.

Idiotically, I’d never thought till now about the satisfying symmetry in the vocal assignments here.  A lot of K-pop hits do this in a wily-nily fashion (T-ara is legendary for this), so it’s not something I consciously look for.  Also, strange to say, Gyuri is such an unmistakable voice that she knocks her bandmates back (in my hearing) to a sort of indistinct sonic soup.  Usually listening to Kara I just think, “Gyuri part, non-Gyuri part”.  It’s philistine for me to be this way with a group so well-established and liked, but I’m grateful to reflect consciously on how elegantly they’ve worked this out.  Youngji’s voice always comes in with that extra little bit of slick to it, that plaintive teen wail, unprepossessing yet irreplaceable.  It’s worth isolating in your thoughts and savoring.

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