Song Review: SuperM – Jopping

When SM Entertainment announced their SuperM project in early August, my first reaction was an eye roll.

This had nothing to do with SuperM’s concept, which grafts together members from popular SM acts to create a K-pop super group. I actually think that’s pretty cool. Where else are you going to see SHINee’s Taemin, EXO’s Baekhyun and Kai, and NCT’s Taeyong, Mark, Ten and Lucas in one place?

My hesitance came from the fact that SuperM would be targeting the U.S. market, presumably with performances in English. I’m one of those annoying K-pop fans who isn’t sold on the industry’s obsession with American outreach. But, I’ve always been this way with pop music. I love nothing more than the thrill of discovery. I’d prefer that fans come to K-pop through their own accord, rather than have it force fed to them by some U.S. company who sees it only as a trendy cash-grab.

With this in mind, I’m happy that SuperM’s debut single Jopping isn’t simply an attempt to replicate current American musical trends. If anything, the track is antithetical to the presumed desires of the U.S. market. It’s big and brash and weird and campy, and destined to polarize opinion. Jopping was produced by Bias List favorites Yoo Young-jin and LDN Noise, alongside an unnecessarily large stable of co-composers. It’s the sound of SM Entertainment going wild. Like it or not, they’ve thrown all of their most off-kilter musical hallmarks into a blender. The result is messy and loud, with chunks and pieces that don’t always fit together the way we might prefer.

But, you know what? I like the track. Early online reactions seem to be over-the-top negative, which makes me wonder if some had made up their minds before even pressing play. This feels like Red Velvet’s Zimzalabim all over again. Disjointed, borderline-cringey tracks like this tend to elicit dramatic backlash. But, I come from a K-pop era that was filled with this kind of bizarro material — and I honestly miss it. The demands of a digital music industry — where streaming is king — has caused too many songs to kowtow to consensus-building and lose their WTF edge. Jopping is certainly a big WTF, and I think that’s an asset.

With a title like “Jopping,” you already know the English-language lyrics are going to be bad. Fortunately, most of them are indistinguishable, and there’s enough Korean thrown in to give the track a distinctly K-pop aesthetic. The members’ individual talents aren’t utilized to the best of their ability, but that’s almost unavoidable when cramming the agency’s biggest and brightest into one four-minute pop song. I would have loved to hear more focus on melody rather than hip-hop, but I understand the desire to highlight performance over vocals.

Opening with the din of an adoring crowd, Jopping quickly delivers a stadium-ready spiral of distorted synth. It’s like we’ve been welcomed into the thunderdome — an idol versus idol battle to the death. This bombast fades soon enough, replaced with an electronic throb that underlines the verses. Trendier tracks might have substituted depressing future bass lurches or trap hi-hat in place of this bright, bouncy dance beat, but I’m so glad that Jopping sticks to its guns. Detractors might call its club-ready sound “dated,” but I love the energy of these verses. The upbeat production gives the hip-hop a pop sheen, and connects well with the more melodic pre-chorus.

The coliseum-ready introduction returns for the chorus, along with some truly lame English-language lyrics. The first time through, I wasn’t sold on the tempo shift here. I craved an explosive, larger-than-life chorus. Instead, the momentum staggers as the song sidelines melody in favor of a half-baked chant that aims for anthem status. It’s only partially successful, but I can appreciate the ambition. I like all the histrionic vocal ad-libs that circle this segment, and Jopping sparks some real fireworks during its final moments. The instrumental swerves and shifts, closing the track in a fury of distorted guitar that should have lasted a few more measures.

Ultimately, no song could have lived up to the unwarranted, months-long hype SM has been giving SuperM. And even without those expectations, Jopping could be stronger in many ways. But, it’s the first release in many weeks to capture the uniquely oddball K-pop energy that used to be a staple of the industry. It’s ridiculous that this arrives courtesy of a track designed for a non-Korean market. But then again, 2019 has been a strange, shocking year for K-pop. In that regard, I suppose Jopping fits comfortably within the madness.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 8
 Bias 9

28 thoughts on “Song Review: SuperM – Jopping

  1. I agree with you throughout the review. The verses were the standout parts for me. They are groovy and each member I think take control of each of their parts. The chorus is mixed for me. I see what they are going for and I’m sure it will kill at their concerts but I wanted something explosive to go along with the great verses. Instead it went for a more arena sound. Still not disappointed and pretty satisfied. It was a solid 8 for me.

    Super Car was the standout track for me in the ep.


  2. I don’t like the rupaul esque beginning ‘drop’? I don’t even know what to call it but the rest of the song, especially the last minute or so makes up for it. It’s catchy and weird and fun and isn’t perfect, but I enjoy it.


  3. I think Jopping (and SuperM project as well) cannot be judged without considering the whole EP, which is clearly a mix of NCT’s demos and/or leftovers. My question is: why – if you are SM Entertainment – do you need to put together your best lineup to make them play a bundle of (identical) songs that seem the generic debut tracks of any rookie group around?
    And my answer is: in the last 2-3 years SM has developed an obsessive tension to take the US Market (and scrape some market quote off BTS) that makes them under control in terms of strategies and productions.
    Ok, Jopping is not that bad – the EP is actually mediocre, anyway – and ok, it probably will sell some dozen of copies and mark some good result in the charts, but everything here is simply *over-and-overperformed*, from the MV to the chorus and from the rap lines to the choreo. Too much, too much and too much.
    BTS conquered the world with a simple pop song (Boy With Luv) and a simple yet colourful and funny MV: Jopping is a screamed declaration of war which sounds like “Look what we’re able to do, babies!” that to me is just the latest Meh! in a long path of decline.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would agree with you on the “too much” part considering that I’m not used to such wild music (it has been ages since I’ve heard something like this). But I would beg to differ about your comparison with BTS “conquering the world” with a simple pop song. I feel that BTS’ world fame started around the “Fire” period and subsequent songs either added on to their fame or rode on it. Not saying that their songs are bad (in fact their discography has been consistently good), but simply attributing their fame to their most recent song seems over-generalising. If a random group debuted with a “simple pop song” like BTS in the US market, it surely wouldn’t gain much traction. SM may have taken this into consideration and decided to start with a bang, which is this almost obnoxious piece, but hey I can see myself jamming to this.


    • This is not just “want US market”, they want push “their music” to US. The most US friendly group is definitely f(x) and especially Red Velvet – they have the most amount of song inspired by US show biz. “SMP” as a brand was in itself about over-performing. Whether it can be pushed to US is another question.


  4. I honestly feel if the want to recreate the 09-13 SM spectacle, they don’t have to hold themselves back. What’s the harm of just remake TVXQ? The chorus vocal mixed into the background, why holding back though?

    Another thing is this reminds me of soooo much of pre-2004 Jay Chou. I know C-Pop is kind of a niche thing but this really remind me of it.


  5. I don’t know what to think about this song.

    Good point: it has that recognizable Yoo Young Jin sound.
    Bad point: it actually makes me think of TVXQ.


  6. I feel like the song is not enough. I don’t know why. Lucas has really short line. when Teayoung and Mark start rapping I feel like it’s just another NCT’s stuff. are they gonna debut an album for Super M? I haven’t seen the press


  7. I was expecting so much worst that I actually… like it. It’s a mess but it’s the kind of mess I’m into: “in your face”, in a sense groovy, and addictive.

    The hate this song gets it’s mostly from people who were dead set on hating SuperM months before their “debut.” I understand many fans from their mother groups might be annoyed, frustrated and mad that their faves left “in the basement” for the second half of the year, only to be taken out to promote in another group, or being overworked, with a EXO comeback on the horizon. Yet, one thing is to not support this debut in anyway and the other is to send hate and bash them for it. I think SuperM was judged too badly too early. I’m also guilty of that fault.

    For me, the song’s biggest flaw is that the members’ voices don’t mix well. I don’t know maybe their voices are too characteristic of their own groups.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was ready to dislike this as well and actually don’t mind it. I still don’t think it’s a great concept for a group, and it sounds strange hearing their voices together, but it’s not as bad as I expected haha.


  8. I saw the title and had an “oh no” moment, and the song on first listen was.. ok? I like how they went big. I wish it had less english. I think the big challenge with this group is the fact that their own groups have so many good title tracks, so my expectations were far too high. And even though this group is made up of experienced idols, this is still a new group in terms of the combination of their talents. I hope future releases find more creative ways to combine their voices and make use of all their different tones.


  9. I find the song very annoying for some reason. It sounds like an NCT song from start to finish and doesn’t really explain why SUPERM was needed in the first place if they are bringing nothing new to the table.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I personally do not like the idea of throwing together all the most popular idols from different groups into one mega group. That said I’m glad this isn’t a generic swag track or more ‘angst in an empty warehouse’ stuff. They went all out, and I think that’s pretty cool! Im also kindof a sucker for that club-style beat.


  11. I find that I like the instrumental versions of the tracks better. I had very high hopes for this, but I was just left with a meh taste in my mouth. It’s not bad, but it’s really not good either. Somewhere forgettable. Which is sad for this old school shawol.


  12. Nope. It was BAD. Zimzalabim is messy and not perfect, but has it’s appeal. Here there are underwhelming vocals, MV (it’s too much), rap (what M & T? Why?), lyrics and chorus plus an almost all noise track with very feel melodic moments. It’s not a weird good. It’s a weird bad. A weird very, very bad.


  13. My only complain is that there’s only 46 Korean words out of 545 words. Never have I seen this ratio. I understand that they’re focusing on US market, but if so, why bother to put in any Korean? Why not just make an English version and Korean version. This feels incredibly force-fed down people’s throats. It’s like “hey, there’s little to no Korean in here so u don’t have to worry about not understanding it and feel uncomfortable listening but not understanding”. Seriously….


  14. When the news of this group came out, I got angry with SM for creating yet another group while leaving their current ones on the dust, not giving the newly solo debut enough promo and so on, but because I love the group’s envolved on it and all the members, I made myself a promise to give them a listen once the album come out.

    That being said, I have to say that, in my opinion, Jooping is a terrible ideia of a song to enter the US market, considering the bad numbers it’s pulling since release. The song is not my favourite taste, that’s why I didn’t like it a bit, and the mini’s b-sides would give a better tittle that Jooping.

    I’m not saying the song is bad, because that would be my personal opinion about it. Is just doesn’t give justice to the talent all it’s members have


  15. In theory, I should like this more, just as I should appreciate the songcraft of “Superhuman” more. Its not that this is the latest assemblage that SM is trying to push into the US. Its not that this is not bad or not good, or too obviously trying too hard. Its just that it sounds like the ugly stepkid of “Backstreets Back” with NCT back catalog.


  16. *crosses fingers and squeezes eyes shut*

    Is- is this the return of non-ballad/trap SME?

    *sighs in remembrance of Superhuman, and how I said the exact same thing*

    Nah, but I like this song a lot. The English lyrics are definitely cringey and unsuitable for a US market – who came up with “Jopping”, seriously? But I like the groove and the stadium-chant chorus. I would have liked more distorted guitar too… maybe some could have been inserted in the verses, kind of like in A.C.E’s Under Cover?… but I’ll take what I’ve got. At the very least, it’s a reignition of kpop’s anything-goes energy… and kpop’s energy in general.


    • I don’t know what Jopping, or chopping, is supposed to mean either. But at least most of the “English” lyrics are barely in English so I can’t make out what they are supposed to be saying anyway.


      • oh sweet baby jesus, I can’t unhear it now. I went off and listened to a lyric video.
        “So when we’re jumping and we’re popping, we’re jopping”

        I take it all back. The lyrics are so craptastic that the song has gone past tastic to being just plain crap. This is worse than “I’ve been walkin with the cheese, that’s that queso”. Fie SM! Do you have no native english speakers at all in your stable? You can afford at least one! Just one to run the lyrics by!


        • Revel in the craptasticness of those lyrics, and you shall transcend. You shall know a better life, free from our simplistic, old-fashioned perceptions of “jumping” and “popping.”

          We jopping, baby.

          Liked by 1 person

  17. How did this mess of a song get 8.5 but Blackpink’s ‘Kill This love’ gets a 7? Both are going for an anthem theme but at least KTL’s builds up to an exciting and catchy chorus that has suceeded in being played at sporting events like the NFL, Kentucky Derby, and TV shows.

    This such a disjointed song with cringy English lyrics that I couldn’t even understand without subtitles. It’s short on melody and sounds so messy with no direction and seems to made just to highlight the the members star power rather than being a coherent musical piece. They’re targetting the American market but it’s perhaps the least suitable song for it and is forgettable with no catchy hooks. This seems to appeal to oldschool Kpoppers who miss this type of music back when it was more experimental.


  18. Every time I hear the word “jopping” I think of Fetch from Mean Girls. Seriously, SM. Stop trying to make this happen.

    The lyrics are horrible. The song is overproduced (as are their vocals on the EP, ugh). And the video is just a flex of how much money SM has in its coffers.

    It’s a beautiful, if not a little disjointed, video. The wardrobe is cool. The aesthetic is pretty great. But these idols are WAY too talented to be saddled with this mess. (I watched some of the live show, and they have zero chemistry together too. It was so hard to watch. I felt for them. I really did.)

    Someone needs to tell SM that BTS’ fame in America was a fan-led organic thing that no giant-sized budget will be able to recreate.


    • Not sure what BTS has to do with anything, but I’ve followed SuperM and their promotions since they were announced and not just “some of their life show”. Their chemistry is palpable.

      Jopping was a bit loud and the music video was a major flex, but the EP was very good. They chose decent subunits for the various songs.

      I’m all for everyone having their own opinion but your comment crossed the line of “criticism” and became “hating” the moment you compared them to another artist that isn’t SuperM, NCT, EXO, or SHINee.


  19. Capitol Records got duped into funding this expensive mess, bravo SM. No amount of money and resources will be able to replicate BTS and Blackpinks success in the west as they were mostly organic and had genuine interest from casual listeners. This ‘Kpop phenomenon” bubble is gonna burst sooner or later and some record companies wanting to cash in will left holding the bag.


  20. I never a fan of SM group but I do think a couple of song from EXO earlier release is quite good for listening. When I first saw the MV, the first reaction is not “wow this mv is expensive” for me it’s try too hard especially the extensive promo/mediaplay comparing with BTS. Stadium scene is the most cringy part obviously with cgi and green screen especially when you remember the overuse of BTS on their article to promote superM. I can’t help but compare with BTS who already having their real stadium tour with this group who suppose to be just debut but aiming to have instant success (based on their article and heavy promotion). I know some of them is already experience and have their own group success but at least I have good laugh watching the MV.

    I don’t like the rap part because it sound just mumbling and the song seems disjointed and I don’t understand what they said at all despite most English lyric unless I watch the subtitle.

    For fans who love this kind of song may like them but this is not my cup of tea. I’m not a fan who just love watching mv because I want to listen the song whenever I want but this song too focus on visual and for listening and I won’t put this song on my Spotify playlist.


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