Aug 22, 2016

I.O.I Levels Up With "Whatta Man"

Following the debut of project group I.O.I earlier this year comes now the group's first sub-unit. Originally being composed of 11 members this one features only seven (Chungha, Nayoung, Pinky, Doyeon, Somi, Sohye and Yoojung), as four of them (Chaeyeon, Sejeong, Yeonjung and Mina) have been called back by their respective companies to promote in different groups. I wrote about I.O.I and their debut "Dream Girls" when it came out and although I thought it was decent I definitely knew they could do much better, both with the song, concept and video. For this comeback I'm pleased to announce that they have done so much better, and it makes me want to forget that "Dream Girls" even happened and pretend "Whatta Man" is their actual debut. 

I don't even know where to begin with this review, quite honestly, because everything about it just blows my mind. First of all there is a drastic change in concept and image, as was revealed quite early with the teaser pictures (apart from the one seen above, that one is still a mystery), and that was one change that I felt was truly necessary. "Dream Girls" was cute, uplifting and bubbly with a video packed with pastel colors and happy smiles. It was harmless and overall very safe, and I see why they went that route since those kind of concepts have been very trendy as of late. What I didn't know back then however was how terrible I.O.I suited that image, seeing as they're now thriving with this newfound sexiness and fierceness. "Whatta Man" is strong, powerful and in-your-face sexy and confident, yet still with a hint of playfulness. The girls seem so much more comfortable doing this kind of concept and it translates into everything they're doing, whether it'd be their dancing, singing or performing in this music video. They're on fire.

"Whatta Man" is actually a song that many people will find familiar, and that for good reason. The hook of the song, which is also the chorus, is sampled from the song by the same name by Salt 'N' Pepa and En Vogue who actually sampled it from singer Linda Lyndell who released the original back in 1968. This particular hook has a long history, and you can see why it keeps be sampled because it's extremely catchy and has you singing along straight away. I.O.I's version sounds nothing like any of the others, and that's a good thing because this track is amazing. The instrumental was clearly inspired by western music, such as "Bang Bang" for example, and it gives it a very powerful feeling.

The lyrics are your typical "I want you, I know you want me as well", as they girls confidently sing about their crush and encourage them to come closer; as they even mockingly say that they don't bite. It's nothing too special but I always love it when girls take charge and aren't afraid to make a move, instead of helplessly waiting for the boy to always come to them. This theme of confidence is also seen throughout the video, although it takes a slightly different approach since the guy in the video isn't particularly "good" at all.

The main character is Yoojung, who by the way kills it in this MV with her stage presence and attitude, but in the beginning she's seen as shy and fragile trying to get the attention of her boyfriend who treats her badly. The rest of I.O.I angrily notice this and decide to give Yoojung's confidence a boost by teaching her all kinds of things; from doing hair and makeup to boxing. It's definitely cute and endearing to see all the girls interact and have fun together, and although it's a bit cliche it doesn't come anywhere close to being as cliche as "Dream Girls", so I'm happy.

The highlight is at the end though where the girls confront the boy, all dressed-up and fancy, and Yoojung initially smiles at him before walking off with a glare and a hair-flip. The rest of the girls follow suit and he's left confused as to what has just happened. Again it's nothing groundbreaking but it works, and it's a clear improvement from their debut MV.

Another improvement compared to "Dream Girls" is the styling and choreography, both of which are much more suitable for the girls. Everyone looks fantastic and has a hairstyle and color that works like heaven for them, and the clothes are definitely more pleasing to look at than the pastel skirts and hair bows. As for the choreography it was actually made by member Chungha, who is a talented dancer, and I absolutely love it. It follows the music well, is strong and fierce and has a lot of more impact and memorability. It is on the sexier side though, especially some parts, but mostly is just powerful and confident.

One might say though that this concept, styling and choreography might not be appropriate considering the group's large amount of underage members, with maknae Somi being only 15, and I do agree to a certain extent. When I saw the teasers I did feel a bit uncomfortable, but when watching the video all together with the song I honestly don't think it's that bad. Of course they are sexualized, but then again that happens to girl groups with "innocent" concepts too, and I think that the fact that they all seem so comfortable and confident with this makes me overlook some of the parts I'd rather have done without.

As a whole I'd say this comeback has been very successful for I.O.I and a step in the right direction, and they've been doing well on the charts as well as winning their first award on a music show (a total of four this past week). Unfortunately though I'm starting to realize more and more now how tragic it is that they will soon be broken up and go their own separate ways, because this group is truly something special. Not only are they all gorgeous and talented but their chemistry is something else and they just radiate star-power whenever they perform together. Next comeback will most likely be together with the four missing members, and if they put out something like this again I will sure be a happy fan.

Song: 4,5/5
MV: 3,7/5

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