Casual fans may recognize Solbi more for the steady stream of variety show appearances she’s made than her music, but she has a long history of crafting genre-pushing electro-pop just outside the k-pop mainstream. More recently, she’s fused this career with a performance-art style that capitalizes on her unique personality and perspective. Her jaw-dropping Music Bank performance this week certainly stood out among the polished dance routines and pop hooks surrounding it. New single Princess Maker is equally at odds with what’s currently at the top of the charts in Korea, but in a refreshing and surprisingly addictive way.
As a child (and teen) of the 90’s, Princess Maker hits my nostalgic heart straight away. Its opening guitar loop sounds instantly familiar, forming a galvanizing backbone to the more reserved melody laid on top. There’s a brilliant grit to the instrumental, off-setting the song’s pop hooks with a constant barrage of dance-influenced rock. I could do without the warped synth effect that pops up here and there, but other than that the production is crisp and exhilaratingly old school. There’s no tropical house or future bass to be found here, for sure!
Solbi supplies a bratty sneer to the song’s stomping chorus, delivering a simple but effective hook that paints her as an alt-rock heroine in a k-pop landscape severely in need of just that. The melody isn’t always as strong as the energy around it, but everything clicks so well that it hardly matters. It’s hard to say how the track will hold up once its newness has worn off. For now, though, Princess Maker is one of 2017’s most pleasant surprises.