Song Review: GFriend – MAGO

One of the biggest benefits to GFriend upon joining Big Hit Labels has been the ability to expand their field of collaborators. While their sound hasn’t shifted drastically, bringing in producer Frants has been a goldmine for the group. This partnership kicked off with February’s extraordinary Labyrinth (which still should have been a single!). It then coasted into July’s Apple, and climaxes in the disco-kissed MAGO.

GFriend have often made their name on bombastic tracks ornamented with swirls of symphonic drama. In contrast, MAGO casts its sights narrow. It aims to be little more than a sophisticated dancefloor filler. But, this focus allows the track to shine. The chugging beat gets going right from the start and never lets up, gliding along with a reassuring ease. The thumping electronics aren’t something we haven’t heard a million times before in pop music, but MAGO doesn’t seek to impress through daring instrumental twists and turns. Instead, it stakes its claim on a good chorus.

And, like many of K-pop’s recent retro offerings, MAGO has a great chorus. It’s a two-parter, kicking off with an effervescent refrain that feels like a big centerpiece without going overboard. This is followed by an even catchier hook that fully embraces the track’s disco leanings. In some ways, it comes across as the successor to both Abba’s Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) and Madonna’s Hung Up (which famously sampled that song). In other words, MAGO is well-aware of the roots it draws from, even as it twists these charms into a format more conducive to K-pop. GFriend’s had a prolific 2020, and this caps it off in sterling fashion.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9


34 thoughts on “Song Review: GFriend – MAGO

  1. YES. YES. 100% AGREE. Been hyped since I heard the chorus and it does not disappoint. Stuck in my head since release. Played little else aside from it.

    Excited to know your thoughts on the album as a whole!

    (Personally I think SOTS is stronger overall and Mago is the definite highlight (aside from the already-released tracks), but Three of Cups is cool and I like pretty much everything)


  2. GFriend have managed to merge their signature sound with the current disco retro revival, so, well done GFriend.

    As a comment, not a criticism, I would have expected to hear more of the lush string orchestral arrangement in this song that is so characteristic of GFriend, since disco does have a string embellishment tradition. The first example which came to mind is Jamiroquai “Canned Heat” which is not disco, but has that string whoosh sound. For an example real disco of disco strings, how about Barry White “My First, My Last, My Everything” (oh so much deeper vocal!) ‘

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly my thoughts. I was missing that in the instrumental too because it is such a signature for GFriend and it would work really well with the style. The instrumental just ends up missing a little bit of that individuality.

      Liked by 1 person

    • This is exactly it. On the first listen, I was enjoying this, but it was missing the characteristic Gfriend sound that would have elevated it beyond being merely another albeit good example of the current disco trend. The result is an enjoyable experience that I doubt would be particularly memorable. It would certainly benefit from some strings or at the very least a climactic high note that the song seems to build up to but never actually realizes.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I on the other hand thought the song didn’t have any ups and downs and just a bit flat throughout. And also, the instrumental completely overshadowed their vocals which is a pity because it’s one of the things I enjoy most about Gfriend’s song. That being said, it’s an otherwise good song. The chorus will be stuck in my head for days for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. this is my soty right here. love the album too, especially because it included Apple and Labyrinth again. GFriend had an impressive year musically, 3 incredible comebacks (no group has done this for me since 9Muses in 2013).

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Imagine Labyrinth being the title track then GFRIEND would’ve had three strong comebacks in a row, this is probably their best year yet in my opinion. Apple and MAGO are some of my favourite girl group title tracks this year. They really succeeded at changing their sound while still keeping the GFRIEND touch.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. GFRIEND is simply the best girlgroup in k-pop nowadays. They got the vocals, they got the moves, they got the aesthetics, and they got the SONGS. And no other group can match what they achieved this year.

    Three GREAT and distinct comebacks, each one of them with a killer title track at the helm and a few outstanding b-sides. And all of it leads to Walpurgis Night, their best album (and maybe the k-AOTY). I can’t even choose a favorite previously unheard b-side: Love Spell, Three of Cups, GRWM, Better Me, Wheel of the Year… tens, tens, tens across the board.

    And what about MAGO? Well, the melody’s glorious enough on its own, but those lyrics about the dancefloor as a place (as THE place) to be free? GFRIEND said queer rights, I think. In fact, Yuju shouted it out loud with that pole-dancing, if you ask me.

    We deserved this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. WOW! I’m really impressed by Gfriend! I’m so glad they were able to break out of the box this year! It seems like the girls are enjoying it as well and this is a very very good song for kpop in 2019! Maybe it will break in my top 5 of 2019 and it shows how strong this year was!

    Btw, if anyone is looking for killer b-sides GRWM and Three of Cups are really REALLY good! GRWM is prob oone of the best of the year tbh.


  8. Seems like girlgroups are thriving in this disco-retro trend, and I couldn’t be happier: Pporappipam, La Di Da, ICSM and MAGO (+When We Disco) have quickly become some of my favorite releases of this year, really excited to see what’s to come next!

    P.D: Really impressed on how they could add “Hakuna Matata” into the lyrics and not make me physically cringe… Very well done


  9. Really enjoying this song- perhaps precipice of SOTY but I didn’t have the emotional reaction and immediate addiction to listening as my current titleholder. (Itzy’s ‘Wannabe’ which was a fresh source of strength as NYC/Brooklyn shutdown in March)

    This beats out the Retro tinged singles this year for me, besides Sunmi’s pporappippam – which in hindsight is less “Retro” than the singles that followed…

    I love the straight line production, rousing chorus and overall charismatic attitude. This rules and I’m glad I delayed my morning start watching their showcase. The subunit tracks are cool. The whole album is great- I wonder what the Buried Treasure is gonna be!

    Justin Reinstein produced Creme Brulée on Song of Sirens and then had his first title track with Fromis9’s Feel Good – and he’s credited here as a writer/producer…as a fellow NY’er, I’m enjoying watching/hearing him become more prominent.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The new Taemin single is a bore to me so I won’t be commenting on the Taemin review but I hope MAGO is the start of Something Fresh. I genuinely hope in 2021 , GFriend will make a leap and release a world-conquering single which sounds bigger and way better than Labryinth , I certainly think GFriend can do this……

    I imagine the producers who will give this Peak to GFriend would be either Sweetune , Hwang Hyun , Monotree or Frants (weird thing that Hwang Hyun and Monotree are under Sweetune but whatever) I will be happy if it’s either any of them.

    MAGO is a straight-forward disco track but it’s certainly something awesome for sure , I absolutely love the song! Very amazing for sure.

    RATING: 9

    Time for me to go off topic from GFriend , I think November is gonna take flight from tommorow , I really hope TXT releases Ghosting (their releasing lost in the summer) , Kim Junsu is releasing Pit-A-Pat.

    But this release is something I am really excited for , I didn’t even expect myself.

    Have you heard the highlight medley of E’last’s upcoming album.


    • You and me pal, we are looking forward to E’Last’s comeback. I don’t usually listen to previews, as I only have so much time, but you betcha I listened to this one.

      Forestella are also having a comeback in November too, yay!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. My one gripe is that they don’t rhyme mago. Feels like a missed opportunity for a more earwormy hook. They could have said “Mago, mago, eenie meenie miney mo” or even just rhymed “mago” with “retro”!


  12. I really like this! The album is pretty decent too. Now I just have to let it marinate for a while so I can decide where it lands on my year end list.


  13. It’s heavily disco inspired, so naturally I love it. I feel like there are some things missing though. The vocals seem a little soft/ reduced to the background at times, which puts more focus on the instrumental- it is solid, but not really interesting enough for me. I miss some of GFriends individual flavour (needs more strings?). Maybe I expected more energy or more of a climax in the final chorus?

    All of that aside, in the end I still really like it. Gorgeous MV, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Definitely a great retro song, though anything I could say on it everyone else has probably picked up on.

    I am curious on which B-Side reigns supreme for a Buried Treasure. There are a lot of really good choices in my opinion, though it’s likely a toss-up between the 2-3-4 punch right after MAGO of Love Spell, Three of Cups and GRWM. Personally, GRWM has the best chorus of all of them (Let’s get ready with me!), but any of those three would work honestly.


  15. Absolutely impressed and floored on GFRIEND’s song. It is finally the perfect thing that makes us enjoy and dance along without worrying about making itself serious.


  16. It’s a shame that the general public in Korea seems to be dropping GFriend, especially after they’ve had such a strong year. They really got pigeonholed and typecast which is a shame. I’m here to enjoy this though! This year is really spoiling me with some excellent girl group and female soloist releases. I think the only weakness for MAGO, if you can call it one, is that it does sound like it could be delivered by any group. If you aren’t already familiar with Eunha or Yuju’s vocal tone, the restraint and vocal mixing makes it a bit less identifiable. In contrast to some of the other recent and also great retro comebacks by Twice and Everglow, there is still connective tissue there that maintains both other groups’ core sounds enough that they don’t suffer from this issue. But given that GFriend has been so hampered by comparisons to their debut sound, maybe that’s intentional and not so bad in the grand scheme of things.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Anyone else wish Dreamcatcher would comeback soon so we could have a metal take on this disco/retro 80s trend? It could be amazing if done right


  18. The fact that this is MIGHT be GFriend’s final song pains me so, so much!
    I really hope it isn’t! IT CAN’T BE!


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