Review

Song Review: Cherry Bullet – Aloha Oe

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.

 Hooks 8
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 6
 RATING 7

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11 thoughts on “Song Review: Cherry Bullet – Aloha Oe

  1. I have a playlist on my ipod called “helium”. This song would fit right in. This one is Disney channel afternoon kids show as performed by a kpop girl group.

    I think we come to the same general opinion, but for exactly opposite reasons. Its that Aloha Oe keyboard line squeaking out. I have been fortunate to have gone to Disney often enough and yet infrequent enough to maintain my sanity. That Aloha Oe sample is exactly what they would throw in for a line or three on the stage show in front of the castle when Stitch shows up for some princess comic relief. That is the part I don’t like at all. The rest of the song is average girl group summer song on helium.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Honestly, I was pleaseantly surprised by the song. I do realize that was probably because I didn’t like Hands Up at all, since I feel Cherry Bullet fits right in with cute songs. The choreography seems really fun, while the song is borderline average, it gives me vibes from Liar Liar, Bungee and A-ing from Oh My Girl. And that is really good. The song feels really refreshing to hear and I think it fits them pretty well.

    Of course, it’s not the summer anthem I anticipated and it doesn’t come close to Q&A, I do feel it’s an improvement from Really Really. I actually like this member configuration for them.

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  3. I really like the post chorus instrumental bit, it’s the only part of the song I can remember. If the verses just had a good melody and they cut out the aegyo they would’ve had a solid track. The aegyo only really works with the post chorus part.

    I kinda feel weird about this song due to the title. Wasn’t aloha oe a meaningful song created by the queen of the hawaiian republic during the annexation of hawaii? I know cherry bullet’s song is probably going for the literal phrase rather than the song but I can’t help having that fact in the back of my mind when I listen to it.

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    • “Aloha Oe” is not usually thought of as a colonial song in the way that other 19th century folk songs such as “Dixie” could be considered to be.

      Its more like the unofficial state song of Hawaii, and very sentimental like “Oh Shendandoah” or Korea’s “Arirang”. It gets played everywhere as such.

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  4. I have a feeling it’s less the producer and more what agencies are requesting. Agencies are desperate to fill the hole Twice left behind by maturing their sound. I feel like we get SO many of these “big group” clones, especially whenever there is about to be a generational shift and the top tier groups are entering the final year or two of their contracts. So now it’s all Twice, RV, and BP clones. The irony is that usually when these shifts occur, it isn’t the clone groups that succeed; it’s the groups that come at things with a new approach much like Mamamoo and GFriend did back in 2014/2015. Generally the only groups that can carry the torch of a similar sound forward are those that come from the same agency (thinK 2NE1 to BP and f(x) to Red Velvet in their early days).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes to all of this, and I think the same argument can be applied to boy groups as well.

      My hope is that we’re beginning to see changes in what agencies are requesting, but I think that will still take some time to fully bear out, since the comebacks we’re hearing now were likely conceived months ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. At least Bora and Haeyoon got some time to show off a little bit of vocal prowess! The song is light and frothy, and ultimately nothing really sticks as much as Q & A or even Hands Up.

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  6. this song is very reminiscent of the 2nd gen. tbh the chorus and prechorus was promising but the verses tend to made overly cutesy. in the old gen kpop the songs were dominated by big producers like shinsadong tiger duble sidekick brave brothers black eyed pilseung which made very nice tracks but now not all of them arent that active unlike in the past

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  7. I don’t know y’all, I think that chorus is a knockout. The interplay between “여름아 부탁해” and “aloha oe”, the same melody but a few notes apart, is so satisfying. The verses I find less disjointed than a ton of other songs, just the girls handing off quick vocal lines, which is a staple with groups this size. I even love the weirdness of the aegyo talking over that bass fart in the second verse. A nice win for Cherry Bullet in my book.

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  8. Songs OK, but it kind of strikes me as close to cultural appropriation. Aloha ʻOe was written by the last monarch of Hawaiʻi, Queen Liliʻuokalani and has kind of a special place, though the official state song (previously national anthem) is Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī, lyrics by her predecessor King Kalākaua. If you are interested in an “unofficial” state song you might check out Hawaiʻi Aloha. There’s a Youtube version by Bruddah IZ that I think gives a feel for how the song represents the state.

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