Review

Song Review: Elris – Jackpot

It’s been a staggering twenty months since Elris’s last promoted comeback. That kind of lengthy hiatus is often a death knell for idol groups. At the very least, it necessitates an impactful return. A certain percentage of Elris’s fan base will hopefully remain loyal, but for many casual fans, this kind of long-awaited comeback might as well be a second debut. With this in mind, nothing about Jackpot gives the girls a purpose or definable place in the flooded K-pop industry.

In addition to adding two new members, Elris have shifted their sound to better align with current trends. Unsurprisingly, this results in an identity crisis. I’m well aware that a number of Bias List readers are (rightfully) sick of hearing me complain about the same things in so many recent reviews. Trust me, I’m even more sick of complaining! But unfortunately, a song like Jackpot calls for a cut-and-paste critique. Its frenetic sound succumbs to many of the same pitfalls that have plagued the majority of girl group releases this year.

First, we have the cadence in which the song is performed. There used to be a time when the K-pop landscape was filled with all kinds of tones and styles. Compare Sistar to AOA, or 2NE1 to Girls’ Generation. These groups had their own character, which included an idiosyncratic vocal approach. Jackpot, on the other hand, hinges on the same quirky/cute/bratty/cheerleader affectations that characterized recent tracks from Weki Meki, Rocket Punch, Cignature and IZ*ONE, to name a few. These performances are quickly becoming interchangeable, which robs a group like Elris of their individuality. There are songs on their new mini album that have a more developed, less stereotypical personality, proving that Jackpot’s chirps and taunts are indeed an affectation.

Then, there’s the song itself. Jackpot tries to be everything at once, throwing musical shrapnel at the listener without a clear aim or purpose. Its verses are just a hodgepodge of chants and sing-song fragments of melody. It’s not really rap, but it’s not a proper pop song either. Things briefly become coherent during the first part of the chorus, but this structure soon devolves into a mess of boom booms and la las and ding dings. This grating post-chorus has all the refinement of a toddler, and Elris deserve better. Coming after the shimmering, well-performed pop of 2018’s Summer Dream, I’m honestly embarrassed for these poor girls. Jackpot transforms them into the aural version of a Bratz Doll. K-pop can be so much more than this.

 Hooks 6
 Production 6
 Longevity 6
 Bias 6
 RATING 6

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17 thoughts on “Song Review: Elris – Jackpot

  1. 01. Intro – An Intro is suppose to fore-shadow everything that follows. It sets up the listener by establishing a ‘mood’. This intro felt like riding shotgun in a car with someone learning to drive a stick.

    02. Jackpot – …I just can’t.. ..nope. My mother told me not to use words like that.

    03. This Is Me – Imagine if your stereo had blown out all of the bass and mid-range speakers leaving only the tweeters to do all the heavy lifting as you listen to a normal song. The reason for that specific analogy is that in that scenario, there would also be a lot of hiss and white noise injected into the sound. That’s what the music in this song sounds like. When the music is that damaged, it doesn’t matter how good the singing part is. That’s like saying, “I added a spoon of sugar to your cup of mud. Enjoy!”

    04. Like I Do – More muddy recording studio malpractice. However, there are brief moments where the ship tries to right itself. In the end, the listener shouldn’t have to make excuses or find exceptions in order to justify listening to the song. It’s Pyrrhic and pointless.

    05. No Big Deal – Isn’t it ironic that the final song is titled, “No Big Deal” and it’s the best deal you’re going to get on this mini-album? It’s not a bad song; not title track worthy, but still an enjoyable listen.

    …Bella? If you’re reading this, I know it’s not your fault. I hope to see you grace the stage in the future.

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    • Hey, I resemble that comment. OK, I listened to Intro just for you.
      Ooof. Intro is a kid throwing up after eating froot loops. Not that that happened to my kid, this year at least.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nick, you are going through all the stages of mourning. In the recent past, you were clearly still in the “Bargaining” stage progressing into “Acceptance”. Back then, you could form novel commentary to un-novel songs. You could still write in full sentences without apology. But now, all this apology language, all these half-formed sentences with the grammar slightly off, sentences starting with adverbs and coordinating conjunctions. I think you have moved backwards and are somewhere between Denial and Anger. Has February 2020 broken you?

    Honestly, I thought you would skip this one. You have managed to skip all the recent Ravi. For Ravi at least, I am in the Acceptance phase of mourning. yassss kingzzz legend smh lol idc nvm jk jk jk

    OK, back to this song. I honestly do not know how the kids differentiate these kind of groups from one another. When I reflect upon February 2020, it is a blur of these girl crush concepts. I listened to this song a few days ago, and again this morning, and it isn’t terrible but just another one of this type. Add to pile.

    Here is my new metaphor du jour: our Girl Scout troop just finished up cookie season, 3,500 boxes by the troop including 500 by my daughter. Around the office my employees have bought about 20 or 30 of those 500 and we have almost one box of every kind open. Really, with so many cookies, after a while they all just taste too sweet.

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    • 1. Denial – Level Cleared
      2. Anger – Level Cleared
      3. Bargaining – Level Cleared
      4. Depression – Level Cleared
      5. Acceptance – Level Started..
      CTRL+ALT+C
      ~ initiate mod.alternative_outcome:truth
      ~ restart level
      ESC
      5. Rejection – Level Started..

      Like

        • Without a scintilla of sarcasm.. ..I love your optimism.

          No, you’re right. It can’t go on like this forever. When every villager tries to pee in the same pot, it’s going to quickly get messy (sorry for the medieval over-saturation ref.). In 2019, there was an explosion of new groups on the scene, but there was already a bunch of groups that were still only one or two songs out of the gate. Now they’re all fighting for table scraps.

          You’d think this would promote diversity and experimentation, but they seem stuck in the idea that they have to eat off each others plate. I don’t know. Maybe this will result in winnowing the chaff. “Two may enter, one may leave!”

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    • Ugh… February has been rough. I don’t know what’s worse:

      1. A month with hardly any notable releases (Dec, Jan)
      2. A steady stream of (mostly) mediocrity (Feb)

      It feels like I’m picking between these two poisons lately. I keep waiting for a May/October-like month to rekindle my excitement. It’s got to be coming, right?

      Kudos on noticing my lack of Ravi coverage. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I think my August 2019 review of his music basically said all I needed to.

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  3. The problem with Kpop at the moment is it is too OVERSATURATED. Thus making a unique musical identity for each artist makes it that much harder. There can only be so many different kinds of identity. Back in the old days, you didn’t have groups vying for competition of the cutest group, of the most girlcrush group (not so much the sexiest group cos sadly nobody is doing sexy). Your 2011 music review points that out that although compared to today there wasn’t a whole lot of comebacks, but each comeback stood on its own and was memorable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Woops! What I meant by nobody is doing sexy is because nobody is doing sexy concepts these days. Ofc there were a lot of music that was sexy back in the day, like SISTAR’s Alone and Give It To Me, absolute gold lemme tell u that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Keep your eyes on WJSN in the months leading into summer. They’ve been revving up to be the next “Summer Song” girls. Time will tell.

        Like

    • Respectfully, I don’t fully agree with, “There can only be so many different kinds of identity.” Look back at any decade in American music and you’ll see that there was a lot of diversity. Even acts that were using the same genre maintained a diverse style (e.g., 60’s: The Beetles/The Rolling Stones/Genesis; 70’s: Pink Floyd/David Bowie/Queen; etc.).

      I think part of the problem may be that groups are using the same producers that other groups are having success with. A few years ago, many agencies were dependent on in-house producers and they rarely loaned them out. Today, many agencies are going the take-out route and there’s a lot of foreign production houses trying to offer up the next, “Ohh, shiny!” to struggling agencies.

      So.. ..it’s many reasons, such as borrowing off other groups success, tapping into the same creative well, laziness, etc.. There should be a lot of emphasis on that last one; laziness. I think many agencies are just looking for a quick and dirty route. Take something that has worked, recolor it, release.

      Maybe some will learn before it’s too late and change their ways. Some won’t and sadly they’ll fail. Welcome to the dog-eat-dog world of the music industry.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I’m actually going to agree with you on that! I never thought of it that way and I think you are more right. I actually want to know more about what the possible identities and concepts could be if agencies didn’t choose the lazy way out.

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    • Kpop is way over saturated. It really crystallized for me when I watched the early episodes of MixNine, with YHS himself visiting so many agencies. I have seen conflicting numbers, but it was high double digits approaching 100 agencies. There were clearly dozens of would be kpop agencies who had no business being in the business.

      And yet kpop is small enough that we can listen to just about every release. So here we are, seeing and hearing and writing about just about everything. (Except recent Ravi.) It is strange, isn’t it, that keyboards warriors like myself half a world away are actively listening and reacting to music that barely hits the charts and barely blips the radar in its home country. A very peculiar hobby.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I grew tired of western music constantly trying to up the scale on shock value. It went from Sex, Drugs, and Rock n’ Roll, to Marilyn Manson’s crotch tuck, to Gaga’s meat dress, to Miley twerking. It just became a clown show. I know there’s still a lot of great music coming from the west, but I just don’t have the patience to wade through the muck to get to it.

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  4. After reading the above review and comments I think there’s not much left to say 😦 I’m just so disappointed with the latest kpop releases – it seems one or two groups has a hit with a certain sound and then everyone piles on. There was a time, not even very long ago, where standing out with a unique sound was the road to success. Shame on the agencies, labels and producers for creating this gunk. And shame on the fans for demanding it.

    Like

  5. Have you listened to “No Big Deal”? It’s truly excellent and I think it deserved a buried treasure treatment. I would say it’s kind of along the lines of “Daydream” by IZ*ONE, which did get that treatment.

    Like

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