What is up with GOT7’s Japanese discography? I can’t think of any other k-pop act with such a wide discrepancy between their Korean and Japanese material. Yes, Japan is a very different market with their own likes and dislikes, but Hey Ya (along with their other j-pop releases) doesn’t even fit neatly into current Japanese music trends.
Hey Ya has a reasonably strong foundation, with an electronic beat that recalls 90’s techno and high energy dance. But it’s a shame that in place of an actual melody, the guys essentially just shout over the top of it. And it’s not the hip-hop nature of the track that disappoints me. After all, GOT7 is a hip-hop group at their core. My qualms involve how this particular style is executed. The vocals are way too high in the mix, relegating that fun 90’s beat to a dinky afterthought. And without a melody in sight, the group’s vocalists are forced to shout rather than sing. JB in particular sounds complete at odds with the track. He’s a brilliant vocalist, but his tone when “rapping” in Hey Ya is like nails on a chalkboard. The song does him no favors. Youngjae and Jinyoung seem similarly baffled by their role in such a noisy assault on the senses.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about a song like Hey Ya is that it has such potential. Though the actual chorus underwhelms, the pre-chorus surges with an undeniable energy. If it had been arranged more effectively, it could have been a lot of fun. But as it stands, it veers closer to feeling like pure noise with little purpose. Their Korean material proves they can do better. It’s time for their j-pop to catch up.