You’ll never see me advocating for K-pop trends. Longtime readers will know that cut-and-paste trendiness (often of the tropical variety) has been one of my biggest criticisms of the industry as a whole. That extends to this burgeoning Latin trend, which may easily sink its teeth into the next few years of K-pop’s future. I hope not. I’ve got nothing against Latin music or any other genre, but I do have one hell of a hard time with uninspired uniformity.
With that said, one can hardly blame Super Junior for pursuing this particular style. Their Korean fanbase has stabilized (and likely plateaued) in a way that most groups of their age tend to experience. Yet, they’ve found a late-career boon in the Latin market. April’s Lo Siento helped foster this success, and the group is looking to cement it with the release of One More Time. They’ve even collaborated with popular Latin group, Reik. I’m in the minority when it comes to international K-pop collaborations. Rather than thrill at the exposure it brings to global listeners, I fear that these cultural exchanges will actually dilute the industry’s more idiosyncratic leanings. It’s really a fine line between outreach and appropriation — but that’s way too big a conversation for a short Super Junior review.
So, on to the song.
Despite all of my soapbox diatribes, I actually like One More Time quite a bit. The group’s overall sound has improved drastically now that main vocal Ryeowook is back in the fold. Reik are incorporated smartly, providing the song’s bouncy instrumental and joining in during the chorus. The track definitely leans more towards straight-up Latin pop than traditional K-pop sounds, but the layered vocals in the chorus are enough to connect this with Super Junior’s past work. And above all, the hook is unrelentingly catchy. The melody has a classic touch, borrowing from early 00’s pop rather than the modern reggaeton influences of its instrumental. This timeless appeal suits Super Junior surprisingly well. I don’t think I want them to transform into a Latin group full-time, but they can definitely pull it off.
If you won’t say it I will: I don’t like Latin pop, and if it becomes the new kpop trend on the same level as trop house I will, quite literally, cry. I’m Hispanic! I choose not to listen to mainstream Latin pop FOR A REASON. That reason being that it is SUCKY. There are some bands from Spain/Latin America that I love, but they’re certainly not the ones that kpop apes when it goes “Latin.” PLEASE NO. NO KPOP LATIN TREND. NOOOOOO. Please let this just be SuJu having a big Latino fandom. Pleaaaaaaase.
On the actual song: it’s boring, and I never want to hear it again. Also, apparently it’s maddeningly catchy as it seems I have it stuck in my head already. Dear lord.
I’m not really into Latin music either, mostly because it feels so familiar growing up in the States. But more importantly, if I want to listen to Latin, there are so many choices out there. It’s the same with any established genre — country, metal, r&b, etc.
I started listening to K-pop — and continue to do so — to escape the kind of delineated, genre-focused music of the West. A little Latin influence is fine, especially if it’s thrown into a blender with all sorts of other influences. But a beat-for-beat re-creation of the “Latin” sound? As much as I enjoy this song, I hope that this kind of thing is a one-off experiment. **
** Except it’s not, because VAV is returning later this week with a straight-up cover of a Latin song…
Exactly! Kpop is excellent at making the best out of the good parts of a seemingly patchwork set of influences – a polished recreation of one scoecific genre isn’t really what I’m going for (unless, of course, it’s Platonic Love, which is amazing despite being very derivative). And it’s not like any kpop group is going to start busting out a Molotov-inspired Mexican rap metal song. They’re going to go off of the mainstream Latin sound that I am intimiately familiar (and bored) with; even if it seems like kpop can elevate any genre with good production and melody writing, the constraints aren’t something I look forward to.
I wonder what kpop groups you listen to because to me K-pop is pretty much mainstream music in Korean and after being into K-pop for about 2 years I’m already bored of 99% of the groups especially if it’s YG music,most of of SM, JYP and basically every popular group or the trendy ones 🤨
I agree and disagree. Kpop is derivative sure, but stands out on the merit of unusually good songwriting with a lot of retro influences. Take a group like Kara, for example; their music is almost like heavy metal with ‘80s textures and a pop melody over the top. Orange Caramel have an interesting trot pop sort of thing going on. Or Lovelyz take influence from ‘80s new romantic songs. There’s nothing original about a lot of kpop (with some notable exceptions, like Yoo Youngjin’s work and some of f(x)’s songs). However what kpop does is not stick to pop genre restrictions, and take a diversity of influences. That’s why here on thebiaslist.com our dear author as well as yours truly tend to complain about the trop house trend. Not only is trop house kind of annoying genre, it restricts the depth of influence groups can take.
TL;DR: Kpop is indeed just pop music in Korean. Kpop tends to be an umbrella term for a lot of different sounds in pop music, and sticking to one genre kind of kills that.
I second everything JYHB said, but I also totally get where you’re coming from, Rosie. Especially if you’ve gotten into K-pop more recently. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend delving into the many classics released by artists from 2011-2013, and then working forward and backward from there. For me, that was the period where K-pop really pushed back on genre restrictions and was the most inventive.
The industry has changed quite a bit now that so many groups have grown closer to the mainstream, and so much of my criticism is a push back on what I perceive as K-pop’s increasing Westernization.
Well from my point of view just cause they add different music elements in the mix or they’re influenced by uncommon music genres in the west doesn’t make the song less generic than others groups that go for an obvious “westernized” sound.
I don’t really form an opinion on a song based solely on it’s music genre, I don’t really mind if it’s a trendy song if it’s done right.
A rock song could be “non-mainstream” but it could turn into something really generic within the genre if it’s done poorly. 100% latest release is a tropical house song but its surprising creative composition makes it so refreshing to me.
I feel like this happens in every industry.
I(?) neither of us said that? Influence is good because certain things work surprisingly well in a pop atmosphere. Saying “a rock song does not make a good song” is an obvious statement that detracts from the point which might be: “metal style harmony layered on synths with a well written melody on top sounds good, and kpop did it first.” Saying “trendy does not equal bad” is also an obvious statement that detracts from the point, which is: “Gee kpop does some fun things sometimes, and they should keep doing those fun things.” The point is that kpop is by nature catchy and fun, and it will never give up on its pop-ness. So when you add a new genre to the mix it doesn’t somehow become a generic version of that genre…? This isn’t about songwriting quality, like that’s a completely different thing(?) I just like it when kpop does weird things, even if the songs don’t turn out great all the time.
Pingback: Grading the K-Pop Agencies 2018: SM ENTERTAINMENT | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion
Pingback: Song Review: Ryeowook (Super Junior) – I’m Not Over You | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion
Pingback: Song Review: Super Junior – I Think I | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion
Pingback: Song Review: Super Junior – SUPER Clap | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion
Pingback: Debut Re-Evaluation: Super Junior – Twins (Knock Out) | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion