Review

Song Review: Momoland – Thumbs Up

I often write about how important it is for a K-pop group to develop a signature style. But, there comes a point when repetition becomes self-plagiarism. This is where Momoland exists now. Ever since the viral success of 2018’s Bboom Bboom, each title track they’ve released has sought to replicate that exact sound. This was sustainable during follow-up BAAM, but tanked with last spring’s I’m So Hot. Unfortunately, Thumbs Up is more of the same.

This comeback arrives with less vocal firepower, as members Yeonwoo and Taeha have left the group and Daisy’s future plans remain in question. Momoland have always been a group in flux, adding and losing members with equal frequency, but you wouldn’t know it from their music. Despite the roster change, Thumbs Up slavishly adheres to the template set out for it, down to the repetitive hook and second-verse rap break. The Powers That Be need to understand that “going viral” is not something you can replicate by doing the exact same thing more than once. Sadly, each new song that Momoland releases only dilutes Bboom Bboom’s legacy.

For its part, Thumbs Up delivers some decent verses. The fast-paced electro pulse has a swerving energy that hearkens back to all those great T-ara singles, but the track is never able to find a memorable melody to go along with the instrumental. And any goodwill that Thumbs Up establishes is undone by an obnoxious hook that’s more catchphrase than chorus. Its first half offers a robust blast of brass, only to devolve into a plonky saxophone riff that feels dated and predictable. And that pretty much sums up the song as a whole. It’s a case of ever-diminishing returns, with Momoland the victims of their own unexpected success.

 Hooks 6
 Production 8
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 7

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16 thoughts on “Song Review: Momoland – Thumbs Up

  1. It sounds like the best of Orange Caramel without any sense of humor. OC could have done this song but they would have amped it up, extra aegyo voice, more adlibs, extra extra theming. As in, OC would have had super large stuffed hands to crawl onto, dressed as knit mitten kitten elves. Or something crazy like that. (Feel free to add yours …)

    Liked by 2 people

    • this commentary is completely unnecessary and you sound just like the antis who bullies momoland into going MIA on sns then turning off comments without checking out ANY of their content. if you watch the music video, it’s every bit as extravagant as a crayon pop or orange caramel video, but i know you grown men are too consumed in rose colored nostalgia to actually take that into account.

      and trust me, they’re not trying to do “goodwill” with their music. they’re trying to sustain a career under unstable management. maybe think twice or look in their already polluted twitter searches before writing entire essays demeaning their work.

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    • Yeah, I feel ya. Momoland definitely has a niche sound. However, unlike OC, they don’t necessarily lean into it. OC knew they were hyperbolic and pushed it that much further.

      I know Momoland have a strong following, but I’ve never been able to fully adopt them. It’s not that anything they do is bad, per se. You can see the expense their agency threw at this video. I think the confusion for me with this video is that the girls are all dressed in couture, but the music suggests floppy shows and baggy pants; if that makes sense.

      Anywho, for me “Thumbs Up” gets a “thumbs.. ..sideways.”

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  2. With BAAM I can understand. But for real now, people believe that I’m So Hot and Thumbs up sound like BBoom BBoom? Sorry, I can’t take anyone who says that seriously.

    Also, a lot of songs have a “catchphrase” for a hook rather than an actual chorus (e.g. Blackpink) but I guess it’s only a problem when certain groups do it.

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    • Their singles since BBoom BBoom all have the same energy, structure, and general arrangement style, with BAAM basically having the same melody as well- I’m So Hot and Thumbs Up don’t have the same melody because they don’t really have much melody at all.

      Aside, have you read the review of Kill This Love on this site? A lot of the same problems highlighted there. You can definitely make a drop chorus work (a la Forever Yours, where it’s anchored by strong verses and a killer post-chorus), but Momoland’s work doesn’t show much complexity or depth.

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    • It’s not a bad song, but it follows an expected formula. 8 bars of this, 8 bars of that, increase the snare during the prechorus, hit the catch-phrase, drop for 2 bars, repeat the catch-phrase, and etc. The chord progressions also hit every mark. And so for the regulars of this blog, most of us who listen to just about every new kpop release every week and buy more than a few hundred songs each year from a few dozen groups, it does nothing new or special. It’s just OK.

      Most of us here are multistans with a couple of overtly stated bias groups. Orange Caramel is one of mine. “Copycat” isn’t that different from this song structurally or thematically, but for me it has a couple things extra in the production that elevates it to serious guilty pleasure. First there is the crazy tin horn kazoo sound that makes the song sound like Charlie Chaplin on roller skates – always off kilter but never quite falling over. (“Lipstick” is crazy “Istanbul not Constantinople” off kilter.) Then the video has the novel spot the difference thing going on. The vocal is amped up on helium aegyo, but not bubblegum aegyo. And the part I like best is that it isn’t expensive extra effects, just very clever choices. Appearing as Where is Waldo on Inkigayo? Who does that? That’s awesome.

      And some how, lord knows how, OC came out of Pledis who have screwed up more groups than one can remember. (Thank heavens Seventeen has enough talent to self-write, self-choreo, self-this that and everything.)

      Liked by 3 people

        • Some did… but most of it was in retrospect or at the very end of their career (which did come unexpectedly). Even though it charted lower than some of their previous releases, their popularity really seemed to peak with Catallena. But for group with only 4 official single releases, they managed to land 6 top 10 songs (well, top 6). But with promotion only happening every 2 years, Pledis never gave them the full opportunity they deserved and treated them like a quick cash cow. A pretty familiar story for them…

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