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: 2010
T-ara really were one of a kind. Their early work established so many of the norms we now expect from modern K-pop girl groups, and that legacy kicked off in 2009. The group released no less than nine (!) singles during the first two years of their career, most of which are included in the epic Absolute First Album/Breaking Heart Repackage. What’s Wrong (왜 이러니) was taken from their first mini album, paired with the more adventurous YaYaYa. It was also their first single with newly-added member Hwayoung (certainly not the only line-up change that T-ara would experience!).
For those more familiar with T-ara’s “hook” songs like Bo Peep Bo Peep and Roly-Poly, What’s Wrong may first come off as somewhat forgettable. Its chorus is a tenacious little earworm, but not as single-minded as some of the group’s work. My favorite aspect of the track is actually its instrumental, which blends 80’s synths with a meaty dose of filtered guitar. The central riff has always reminded me of spaghetti western soundtracks, though I doubt that was the cultural touchstone the producers were aiming for.
Refreshingly, every element in What’s Wrong’s catchy brew is working towards the same goal — circling around the same melodic hook. This sense of musical continuity is harder to find these days, but imbues the track with a natural flow that helps to build momentum. When the instrumental (and tempo!) switches up for the breathless bridge, it works particularly well thanks to the cohesion of everything that came before it.