Jul 23, 2016

Wonder Girls Make A Reggae Comeback With "Why So Lonely"

I still quite haven't gotten over last year's Wonder Girls comeback with the awesome "I Feel You" and the even more amazing 80's synthpop album "Reboot". After a few year's hiatus and several member changes the future of this group was uncertain, but instead of fading into non-existence they rose from the shadows and delivered one of the best releases of the year. Coming back as a band and as co-composers of all of the tracks on their album made way for a new start for this group, and I think that this is by far the best version of the Wonder Girls since 2008. Although staying true to their trademark retro concept this comeback is quite different from "I Feel You", but it's no doubt another fantastic tune and video.

Well, the song itself isn't the most "retro" they've ever sounded as it is in fact a reggae song whose sound I don't think normally is associated with a retro music genre, despite having its origins in the 60's and 70's. Visually though there definitely is inspiration taken from said decades, both with the styling of the members but also the decor and interior design of the sets in the MV. There are plenty of colors and patterns that are reminiscent of what was popular back in the day, and the video is also shot in a kind of faded filter which washes out the colors and makes it a bit more subdued (which also adds to the retro feel). However it doesn't provide the same genuine authentic feel that "I Feel You" did, but it works great as a of homage and is still a million times better than other "retro" concepts in the K-pop scene.

The main point of this music video is, apart from the visuals and retro characteristics, the plot. The song itself does add a lot of feeling to the video, because although reggae sometimes sounds quite happy and carefree by nature the Wonder Girls have managed to compose a perfectly good reggae tune that manages to do not that. It's about a relationship that's faltering, and the girls sound both annoyed and a bit upset when singing about how they want to be in love and be happy but there isn't a response nor a seemingly strong sense of  receiving any kind of loving feelings back. They're sad and frustrated and all this is seen being acted out in the MV, where the girls take out their anger on a doll that symbolizes the emotionless state that their boyfriend is in.

They're seen dealing with this situation in different ways, such as Hyerim turning to a bottle of vodka after the boyfriend doesn't show up although she's been preparing food and is waiting patiently for him. At the end they all resort to more powerful measures and come together to tie up the doll and throw him in the back of a car to take him away. They tie him to a chair and take turns in throwing stuff at him, spraying him with ketchup and screaming and yelling. It's not so much physical harm (apart from ripping out one of his arms), but they're instead taking out their anger by using quite harmless items, thankfully. I've seen enough violence directed at partners in K-pop videos as it is.

The video isn't exactly comical but there are some funny moments, like the members having to hold Hyerim back when she tries to kick the doll, however for the most part this video (and song) is quite mellow and extremely melancholic. The faded filter, the members' acting and also the vocal work of the song adds to the bitterness that is a huge part of this video's theme and vibe. There are elements of anger, sadness and a lot of disappointment and desperation as well. The flow of the song also matches the theme unexpectedly well and it's no wonder this song has made them sit at the top of the charts ever since it was released in Korea.

Along with the title track another two songs were introduced on the single; "To The Beautiful You" and "Sweet & Easy", both of which have more of funky retro sound with some disco influences, and both of whom are great songs once again composed by the members themselves. I guess that's one of the reasons why I've now come to love this group; it's because they're creating a new scene in K-pop, one which female groups can play their instruments and compose their own tracks. They're truly paving way for many more idol groups to come in which girls are more involved with the music (because at this point almost all male groups have one or more members involved in some way), and for that reason alone I have to applaud them. Then of course they would'n't be so successful with this comeback hadn't it been for the fact that their songs are really good. 

Seeing the rise of the Wonder Girls, a group which was so big back in the early days of modern K-pop that it's even hard to imagine, makes me incredibly happy; and I wasn't even around during their big days. I wasn't even sure something like this could happen because this group seemed almost done for after both Sunye and Sohee left the group, but I believe that the willpower of these women alone was what kept the Wonder Girls afloat.

I have tremendous respect for them not only as musicians and artists, but as hard-working women that don't back down or give up. I also think that JYP's new system of choosing songs and concepts for their idols (and marketing in general) has proven to be immensely successful as the agency once again is claiming their deserved spot back in "The big 3". With the Wonder Girls now retrieving their position back as a top girl group I can't wait to see where they go next, but I have no doubts that they'll continue to grow and develop their skills as not only an idol group but as a group of talented musicians.

Song: 4,5/5
MV: 4,25/5

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