Song Review: Yubin – Yaya (Me Time)

Ex-Wonder Girl Yubin carved out a fun little niche for herself in 2018 with the retro releases Lady and Thank U Soooo Much. I hoped that she would continue down this road, but 2019 saw a return to more subdued fare with mid-tempo (and Yoon Mirae duet) Silent Movie. Now, she’s back with yet another iteration. Yaya (Me Time) (넵넵) pulls her sound in more of a hip-hop direction, forgoing pop melody for a track that thrives on attitude and groove.

This isn’t necessarily surprising. After all, Yubin’s position in Wonder Girls was as a rapper. Her previous solo releases defied expectations, but Yaya falls more in line with what I’d imagine a Yubin track would sound like. Still, I think this particular style could have spawned a stronger song. Yubin has charisma to spare, and has no trouble compelling attention for three minutes straight. But, Yaya never transforms into something all that memorable. Its chill hip-hop beat bops along nicely, though I much prefer its jazzier — almost bossa nova — percussion to the tired trap beats that end up supporting the chorus.

Yaya’s verses are pretty hit and miss. I’m not a fan of the vocal effects or flow on the first verse, but the second adds a jolt of sing-song melody that proves more engaging. The chorus is fun but throwaway, which kind of feels like what it’s aiming for. The post-chorus is actually catchier, and could have been expanded upon further. Overall, Yaya is a pleasant head-nodder, but it’s hard not to feel a little ambivalent about its limited ambitions.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7

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7 thoughts on “Song Review: Yubin – Yaya (Me Time)

  1. I get that lady and thank you so much didn’t do that well, but I would’ve still liked her to continue doing retro songs. I think they suit her just as well as these more urban tracks.


    • I feel like in the hands of the right songwriter, she could have gotten a blend of both that would have done well. It seems like more people appreciate her city pop releases in retrospect and it was more the bucking of expectations that through people for a loop. Thank You So Much probably should have been her first release since it’s slightly more in the vein of what people might expect. Also given the visual nature of K-Pop, I don’t think the MV or stage styling for Lady did her any favors either. But if Yubin has decided to ditch the city pop entirely, I’d love to see her continue with the sounds WG played with on Reboot or even the Why So Lonely single album.


  2. This song is a hot mess. But in a good or bad way … … ? Last night at dinner, sonny boy (age 9) informed me that the floss dance is so over but dabs are still OK. Also, the kids both dug out all their fidget spinners from wherever they were hiding, because they are back. So, what do I know about contemporary culture anyway. For me, I am going to say that I listened to this twice, and that is enough for me. But who am I to judge if this kitsch scratches your itch.


  3. This song almost lost me with vocoder on the vocal. Glad I stuck around for a few more seconds tho – the vocoder disappears after the first verse and for the remainder of the song it’s a fun bop. Colourful and sparse production/beats with a simple but effective melody. This is ephemeral k-pop at its finest.


  4. Today’s learning: a touch of bossanova can salvage just about anything for me. I’m not well-versed in the style, but something about the chords in the instrumental is catnip to me.

    I give it a fortnight before I forget it ever happened.


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