Listening to How’s This? (어때?), it’s hard to believe that HyunA’s Red was one of my favorite k-pop songs of 2014. Since then, the quality of her music has seemed to devolve with each passing release, culminating in what I hope is her low point. “How’s This?” — she asks us? Well, it’s pretty darn lazy.
I actually love HyunA. I love her style of rap and her willingness to push the sexual boundaries of k-pop. I think she’s incredibly charismatic, and elevates almost every song she’s featured on. But How’s This isn’t a song. Her series of chirps and proclamations, framed by an obnoxious breakdown section, bring very little to the table. It’s the kind of track that sounds as if it was composed with little to know effort involved. And don’t get this confused with “effortless,” which is actually a compliment for a smart arrangement that feels seamless enough to have just come straight into the world on its own accord. No, with How’s This, you can feel the parts being shoehorned together. The need for HyunA’s persona trumps the need for actual songwriting finesse. Instead of pushing boundaries, it’s as if they saddled her with a bargain-basement beat and told her to be sexy. Never mind a melody or any sort of enduring hook.
It’s with great disappointment, then, that I herald this as one of the most underwhelming mainstream k-pop releases of the year. Even its bass-heavy thump does little more than rumble incoherently. There’s no drive or intention behind the track. It never goes anywhere, choosing instead to repeat itself endlessly and bludgeon you into submission. HyunA, you deserve better than this. Luckily, there are much better songs on the mini album.