In preparation for my “Summer of K-pop” series, I’ve been revisiting a lot of girl group summertime songs. This has made me crave the kind of breezy, exciting material delivered by acts like Sistar, BESTie, Red Velvet and Girl’s Day. 2020 has offered its share of summer tracks, but too many have been marred by a similarly grating performance style. In a post-Twice world, chanting, aegyo-based singing is the norm (even if Twice themselves have mostly moved on from this). It’s an affectation, and it drives me crazy.
I mention this because Cherry Bullet’s Aloha Oe (알로하오에) is the latest summer girl group track to succumb to this approach. Given a different concept, the track might have thrived. Instead, it’s peppy to the point of exhaustion, favoring cheerleader energy over meaningful song construction. It’s also the latest in a string of tracks that has me wondering if super-producer Seo Youngbae is stuck in a major rut. Most of the song bears little melody at all. Its verses rush by in a babbling stream of asides, rarely tethered to an actual hook.
Aloha Oe’s chorus is stronger, but still struggles with an overly-sweet style that counters a decent melody with an obnoxious chant. You would have never heard something this cloying from any of those Queens of Summer mentioned early, and it makes Aloha Oe feel disposable. The best summer songs are evergreen, with a timeless appeal that renews itself each year. This feels like a cheap hit, pulling from today’s trends without an eye on the future. It’s telling that the song’s most enjoyable moment comes as a Hawaiian-themed instrumental break. It’s a welcome respite from all the juvenile sing-talking around it.
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