Trust me, I feel really bad sometimes that I had to leave 4Minute out of my Favorite Girl Groups list. I do, because I adore Hyuna and I have a huge girl crush on both Gayoon and Jiyoon. However, ever since their 2012 comeback with Volume Up (I can not shut up about how perfect this was) the quality of their material has been sinking rapidly. Like with every single group these days, Brave Brothers has to be involved. Sure, he was behind their hit last year that shot them up the ladder of fame in Korea, but the song just wasn't that good although it grew on me.
I miss their earlier, rougher sound like in Muzik, Huh and I My Me Mine. I'm not sure what their image is nowadays, except for "Hyuna and the back-up dancers" which we will never hear the end of, but I suppose it's more of a fun, funky and cool image. Not as much attitude or power, but more a flirty kind of playfulness.
Anyway, enough with my rambling about 4Minute's brilliant past, let's look ahead. Judging from the teaser photos alone, I was psyched for this 2014 comeback. They looked just the right amount of hippie/wild youth/girl's night out, but then I saw the teaser video.
"What on earth is going on?" is the title I think would fit better than "Whatcha Doin' Today?" to be honest, because that was the first though I had while watching this video. There's almost too much going on, and I had to re-watch it multiple times in order to grasp some kind of structured plot in all this.
The song is standard Brave Brothers, and it sounds very familiar to their biggest hit to date ("What's Your Name?") in terms of the instrumental, line distribution and structure of the song. It has the same kind of hook, and plays on the same strengths as their latest comeback song, and it's not surprising they would follow the same, successful recipe, but it's so boring. The song is catchy enough, but it's very basic and is like a less exciting version of "What's Your Name?" which in a way was a new sound and concept for them.
Anyway, moving away from the lackluster title track, how about the actual video? I honestly have yet to decide whether I like it or not, and whether I think I'm supposed to like it or not.
I do like the message behind the song and lyrics, because it's very encouraging and empowering in a sense, telling everyone to loosen up, have fun and enjoy life. The video does just this, and it does it to an extreme.
I know there will always be people who like to bash on girls who dance and move provocatively, show skin and aren't afraid to be sexual, and therefore I know that some people won't like this video. I personally don't have an opinion on it, but I do get annoyed sometimes too. Sexual objectification is a huge problem, especially for women, and music industries in general are very objectifying towards both genders. However, women are clearly and obviously more sexually objectified and even when they aren't, they are the ones who receive hatred for it. I can definitely feel uncomfortable when a video is only about showing the member's bodies and using the "male gaze", and although the men are also exposed to this in a less, but still existent degree, they are still more often shown as the sexual subject if anything.
For this video though, I don't mind the sexy dancing, Hyuna's cleavage shots and Jiyoon's bathroom scene, because it feels relevant to the song in question. I also happen to really like those members, but that's not the only reason why. The whole song is about being a bit crazy, having fun and enjoying yourself, so why can't they also act it up a bit?
Everything in this video is just so random, and there are both some amusing and confusing moments. I love the bit where two guys are fighting over Jihyun and then she feeds them some magic candy and they fall in love with each other instead. There's so many moments like this that just throws you off guard and makes you go "What is happening?" and "I didn't see that one coming!", and that makes this video more interesting and certainly raises the entertainment value.
The problem with this video is the sad truth of my much better liking of the teaser photos than the actual video. I expected a party by the Han river, late at night with lots of people dancing and having fun, and the girls wearing their outfits from the pictures. That would have made sense and made for a better aesthetic experience, and I'm sure they could have had just as much fun and done all the crazy things just as well. I don't like the shiny metallic outfits, the flashy sets and the ridiculously dressed back-up dancers. It brings the quality and production value of the video down a bit, and it all comes off as a bit lazy. I don't mind sets as long as they are used wisely and look somewhat realistic, but I'm not a big fan of these.
I wish they could have incorporated more of the bits where they wave around the burning light sticks, because that's the kind of things I want to see when you talk about having fun and not giving a damn. Imagine doing that outside by the river; it gets me happy just thinking about it.
If I was to describe this comeback with one word, it would be safe. Neither the song or the video brings anything particularly new and exciting to the table, and it shows no sign of musical development or maturing, unfortunately. I love me some 4Minute, but not this kind of 4Minute. If this was any other girl group that didn't have this kind of fame, I wouldn't even give them a second look. The song is bland and the video is fun, but actually not that great. I hope that in the future they can rediscover their roots and get rid of Brave Brothers once and for all. They are so much better than this.