Random Shuffle Review: MYNAME – What’s Up

With over 2,600 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.

The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!

Year Released: 2012

MYNAME has always been an underappreciated group, more successful in Japan than their native Korea. Though they’ve released a solid singles run, they’ve never found that one iconic hit that would make them stand out. It’s fitting, then, that my favorite MYNAME single is probably What’s Up — a 2012 entry taken from their J-pop discography.

2012 was filled with this kind of synthesized dance pop, driven by a chugging electro beat and climaxing in a big, hands-in-the-air chorus. It sounds kind of dated now, but not in a bad way. A good melody will never go out of fashion, and What’s Up knows its way around a hook.

The song opens with the simple synth chords that will act as the backbone for the entire instrumental. Rather than lurch this way and that, momentum is built by the gradual addition of extra percussion, counter melodies and instrumental flourishes. This gives What’s Up a satisfying surge without ever going over the top. I love that the song throws much of its focus on vocal-driven hooks. Layer upon layer is slathered on top of the track, as if this was an arrangement meant for a show choir rather than an idol group. The call-and-response chorus is unlike any other I can recall, twisting in ways that feel antithetical to how pop songs are usually structured. The fact that this still comes across as breezy and uncluttered is a miracle unto itself.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.75



7 thoughts on “Random Shuffle Review: MYNAME – What’s Up

  1. First, I have to admit that I had never really heard of Myname, perhaps faintly, until this review.
    This is such a solid pop song! Myname have invested very well in very good songwriters. Youtube is helpfully autoplaying through their catalogue for me. This song happens to have its own page on Wikipedia, and some of the songwriters have written for a who’s who of American pop. Two of them are responsible for most of the black eyed peas catalogue, for example. (Keith Harris wiki page is hysterical – it is as if he or his publicist wrote it themselves.)
    Myname also has some pretty solid pop vocal pipes. I have no complaints on the vocals.
    As for the structure, I am sure there is one like it, but I bet it would be 80’s or something. Someday a few weeks hence, it ill come to me.
    Finally, I would buy it perhaps, but it doesn’t seem to be on iTunes and I am too cheap to order the import.


    • 12 hours on, this is what I thought of as a comparison for the structure,
      that being some 4 lines of chorus, plus 4 lines of call-and-response chorus:

      – I had to look this one up by the lyrics, these days one can do that. That old one you hear on oldies stations that goes “by the hand, hand, take you by the hand pretty mama”. It turns out to be doobie brothers “Black Water”. (who knew?). and the both regular chorus and the hand hand section are call-and-response.

      – Eurhythmics Sweet Dreams “hold you head up … moving on” section. Technically perhaps the bridge? The songs sound like a Verse A (sweet dreams are made of these”; Verse B “Some of them want to use you”, then the interjection “hold your head up ” section.

      – Simple Minds – All the things she said – the whole song is call-and-response

      – U2 – New Year’s Day, The sweetest thing, etc. U2 early songs have a lot of vocal and instrumental call-and response. Bono with the Edge. the edge with the edge. The Edge with Adam Clayton bass line.

      Although for these two Irish bands, (Simple Minds is Irish!) I think of the structure more as a verse and refrain like from Catholic mass intercessions. (eg “For this that and the other thing, We pray to the lord – lord hear our prayer”)


      • Excellent comparisons! If this structure was more common in the 80’s, that goes a long way toward explaining why it appeals to me so much 😉


    • more recently, closer afield
      Neon Punch – Moonlight – “all I need you, I need you” section after the main chorus is close-ish.


    • My thoughts have evolved! It came to me! My daughter last night was playing things in the car on her playlist on my ipod. Black Eyed Peas came on, Where is the love.
      THE BEST comparison for the structure of the chorus of this song written by the BEP songwriters , is the BEP themselves also written by the same (iirc).

      “people hurtin people dying” = the regular part of the chorus
      “where is the love, the love, the love” = 2nd part of the chorus, not call and response and not quite polyphony, but the same exact structure.


      • That’s funny you should mention Black Eyed Peas. In both sound and structure, What’s Up has always reminded me of the very BEP-esque “Shine A Light” by Mcfly and Taoi Cruz.
        I loved that song when it was released in 2010, and What’s Up always felt like a sonic sequel of sorts.


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