So far, SM’s weekly Platform experiment has been a disappointment, supplying almost exclusively slow and unmemorable side tracks. The fact that it’s billed as being a bonus or supplement to the agency’s usual releases makes it hard to be completely annoyed with it, but it still feels like a missed opportunity.
I’m not going crazy over Amber’s Borders but at least it has a full music video and… well… a tempo. Amber is the American-born rapper of SM’s awesome girl group f(x). She previously made a solo debut last winter with Shake That Brass. That song didn’t leave a good taste in my mouth, so I approached Borders without much enthusiasm. Adding to my worries, the song is performed completely in English. One of the reasons I like kpop so much is that I’m not fluent in Korean. I’ve always been someone who focuses more on a song’s melody and sound over lyrics. Perhaps it’s because I’m a writer myself, but bad or cringey lyrics really, really turn me off. Borders isn’t horrible in that regard, but it’s remarkably earnest and kind of cheesy. It’s the kind of fist-to-the-chest self-empowerment anthem peddled by so many other pop stars, personalized with an international flair that spotlights Amber’s own story.
It’s too bad, because the chorus is actually pretty strong, in an early 2000’s radio naval-gazing way. Unlike some, I’ve always enjoyed Amber’s singing voice. I actually prefer it to her rapping, which often feels like the least interesting part of f(x) songs. The delivery in Borders’ spoken verses definitely feels a little juvenile, and I think the song would have been more successful by scrapping them altogether and adding more melody.