SUV is one of K-pop’s most unexpected unit groups, comprised of Super Junior’s Shindong and musical comedy duo UV. We last heard from them in the spring of 2017 when they released the 80’s pastiche Marry Man, and now they’re back with a sonic sequel of sorts. Cheer Man (치어맨) lays its intentions bare with its title alone. It’s a song to get you up out of your seat. It’s K-pop motivation.
Many of Cheer Man’s musical elements are exactly to my taste, but I have a bone to pick with it. At its heart (and especially when taken alongside its music video), the track is aiming for “novelty” or “comedy.” I mean, just look at the outfits that the trio are sporting. But, why do songs like these have to automatically position themselves as jokes? Why are over-the-top guitar solos and larger-than-life choruses relegated to satire? It’s frustrating, because if you were to take the aural hallmarks of Cheer Man and apply them to a song and performance that takes its performance deadly serious, you may have something very special.
Instead, we get a fleeting chuckle here and there. Objectively, Shindong is not one of Super Junior’s strongest vocalists (he’s known primarily for his dancing), and a song like this could really have done with more power in the performance. I love the chugging guitar-led instrumental and majestic stabs of synths that herald the chorus. The melody has a wonderfully 80’s appeal, surging with fist-pumping glory. There’s a reason songs like Don’t Stop Believing and Don’t Stop Me Now have stood the test of time. They weren’t jokes then, and they certainly aren’t now — at least not to me.