Beast has been all over the place this year. We had the misguided hip-hop of March’s Guess Who, the gorgeous midtempo drama of Ribbon, and now Freaking Cute, which takes a much lighter pop approach. The group gave us a handful of brilliant Japanese tracks last year, but I fear that the creative juice has been used up when it comes to their j-pop material.
Freaking Cute is far from a disaster. In fact, its vaguely tropical sound is perfect for the summer, conjuring images of sandy beaches and palm trees. It pulls of an “island” sound convincingly, thanks to its laidback production rather than the actual the melody. The problem is that there is absolutely no edge here. I mean, I guess it’s a Beast song, but there’s nothing about it that offers any proof of their individuality. It could have literally been recorded by any boy band in any country — that’s how generic it is. After the return-to-form that Ribbon provided, this is a major step back.
I’m also not crazy about the English. In general, English phrases don’t overly affect k-pop/j-pop one way or another, but the central refrain of “you are so freaking cute” feels cheesy and cloying. It might be a charming line to say in a movie or drama (I guess…), but it sounds incredibly awkward when sung as a track’s chorus. Of course, I’ve always preferred the darker side to Beast’s music, so this may be a matter of personal preference more than anything. Either way, I can’t help but look at Freaking Cute as a whole and be reminded of the vastly superior This Is My Life from last year, which has a similar sound but actually delivers.