Song Review: HyunA – I’m Not Cool

Oftentimes, it feels as if I appreciate the idea of a HyunA song more than the actual song itself. She’s such a fierce, charismatic performer, and has played an integral part in the last decade (and more!) of K-pop. She’s also released her fair share of classics, both as a soloist and part of girl group 4minute. Yet, when it comes to many of her singles, I tend to be drawn toward the attitude and energy on display rather than the music. New single I’m Not Cool does little to change this, but it’s a solid encapsulation of her charms as an artist.

Originally scheduled for release last year, I’m Not Cool plays as a highlight reel of HyunA’s sonic tricks, simultaneously recalling work from her own group and debut-era 2NE1. It’s one of those “catchphrase songs” that have become so popular in K-pop, in which the chorus is essentially a memorable one-liner delivered over bombastic instrumentation. This is followed by a brief oasis of melody, though I don’t think it’s one of her better hooks.

I’m more impressed with Cool‘s verses and pre-chorus. Yes, they’re primarily composed of the sing-talking structure I often complain about, but HyunA’s magnetism makes them work. The instrumental here is particularly engaging, chugging along with an undulating pattern that keeps the segment moving at a clip. I can’t quite tell if I hear bass guitar in there, but the fast-paced arrangement has a very Edge of Seventeen vibe to it either way. A more inventive hook might have pushed this over the top, but as it stands I’m Not Cool is simply HyunA doing what she does best.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 7.75

15 thoughts on “Song Review: HyunA – I’m Not Cool

  1. If this weren’t Hyuna, this would be just another brattish girl song half rasped, half croaked. Since this is Hyuna, this is, well, this is just another brattish girl song half rasped, half croaked. To be perfectly honest, I only made it through one+half listens. Rating is high for me, low 7’s at best.

    That’s the way uh huh uh huh I like it

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes! This exactly. Flower Shower, I’m Not Cool, Good Girl all feel very noisy and annoying to me like its over produced? If that makes sense. Show Window and Party Feel Love reminded me of her Following EP which is not bad probably the only relatively good songs on this new Mini Album hate to say it. The I’m Not Cool song sounded like it was written and produced for Psy rather than for Hyuna. And Good Girl sounded like it came out of High School Musical……which, for being an artists 14th year since debut you think she would recognize a bad sound after so many years learning music production and song writing. I hate to be hard on her, she has a very charming personality its just these new title songs aren’t good.

      And the lyrics!! So dumbed down for it being her personal diary inspired by the last few years, “thats the way I like it??” Heard that line before (thank you for providing the link it was a good laugh)


  2. HyunA’s delivery/ tone of voice has never been for me, but I like that she has a consistent, distinct image. I enjoy the crazy outfits in her videos, the upbeat songs, the amount of personality and confidence she brings. The reference to Dawn is cute – I think he referred to her in his song, too.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This song is not really for me, I wish Hyuna didn’t sound so….obnoxious. I know that it isn’t her fault, but the song doesn’t really make use of her talents. I really like the melodies though!….but the song falls flat…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really do appreciate Hyuna’s delivery.

    What confuses me is that Hyuna seems very very cool.
    Do you think she means like disposition? Like she’s lost her cool?

    Anyways, this is a fun track! I really do dig how blaring and in your face it is.


  5. Agree with your review. And to me, Red is still her best, by far.
    Just a question/note, I think the single not released last year wasn’t this, it was Good Girl, which is now the second song on this mini – tbh I like it much more than this. what do you think? It’s at least a bit more melodic.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When she said “I’m not cool” I thought “At least she knows” XD. But honestly, this songs just doesn’t feel like HyunA’s in it that much. I kinda like the male voices that come in at times, it feels very playful. The chorus is just boring and the riff they have supporting it sounds too boring and isn’t dynamic enough for me. The whole production actually felt like nununana’s but “middle eastern”. I’d like a good HyunA song please

    Liked by 1 person

  7. In you look in the window of a bakery and see a lavishly decorated cake that’s been sitting there for a month or two, you’re probably looking at a lot of icing on a Styrofoam core. The reason is that there’s no need for an actual cake under all that cream and sugar because that’s not the selling point. A lot of people use that analogy to beat on K-pop; to an extent, they’re not wrong.

    I can’t get into BlackPink. Their songs are hit/miss with me. I’m not the target audience for the vibe/attitude/presence they try to project. As a result, I can’t help but look at them and see 4 teenage girls that would be completely ordinary if not for the throng of stylists, wardrobe, make-up, and marketing personnel that decorate them like a cake in a window. Then there’s the company team in charge of concept and image; trying to mix the right ratio of brash versus class, hip versus cute, etc.. I read all the fan comments. “Lisa is so fierce!” “Jisoo has such great fashion sense.” “Jennie clearly knows how to lead this group.” I read, and I shake my head. I can be objective with BP because I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid with them. However, I’m totally punch drunk when it comes to the performers/groups I do like.

    Then there’s HyunA. I’ve always liked her. The first time I watched “HUH” back in 2010, I was bitten. Then came “Bubble Pop!” (2011) and I was smitten. She’s a girl that has the same corporate mechanisms propping her up as BP, but I don’t see her through the same lens. Part of that is because she’s never lied to herself or her fans about who or what she is in the industry. When the Unpretty Rapstar series first aired, people asked her why she did try to get on the show given that she was the “rapper” in 4minute. She gave the perfect response, “I’m an entertainer, not a rapper.” No delusions of grandeur. No buying into her own hype. That response was the most humbling and honest reply that I’d heard from anyone in all of K-pop. I loved her even more after that.

    HyunA can’t sing; not really. She talks through her lyrics; the sound engineers do the rest. She can dance. She’s got buckets of stage presence and charm. I’m not sure if she has innate creativity. None of those things mattered during the first part of her career in the industry because whatever she lacked, the lackeys had it covered. Now (the past couple of years), it’s been more about her and only her. I think she’s steering the ship; provisionally. She’s picking the songs, writing her own lyrics, choosing the clothing/styling/image, etc.. While I’m happy she has that kind of freedom, her past couple of releases haven’t landed well with me. This latest, “I’m Not Cool”, missed the pad completely.

    I’ve long championed giving artists more control over their material, as long as they’re genuine artists. If you strip away that support from someone that doesn’t have strong artistic ability, then you end up with.. ..well.. ..this song.

    It hurt to write this post. I still consider myself a HyunA fan and I don’t see that ever changing. Maybe she should listen to a little outside advice? I don’t know. Time marches on…

    Liked by 12 people

    • You describe the way I feel about BlackPink perfectly. They look the part but don’t really ooze with personality the way a performer like HyunA seems to. This comment was a really interesting read! I feel like I learned something.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Xeno, glad to see you back in long form.

      Artists going there own way has always historically been hit or miss. There are loads of examples. Sometimes it gives them flight, and sometimes the freedom tangles them up in their own personality too much. Every sports star has a coach or coaches, every opera singer still has a vocal coach. This feels like no one at Psy’s company is telling her no, or that’s a bad idea, or maybe this or that would be a better choice.

      It is also partially the producer’s fault, or whoever picked the producer’s fault. Even the best artists in the world have brilliant producers who hone their sound. Michael Jackson = Quincy Jones. U2 = Eno & Lanois. Beatles = George Martin. Who is her producer? Whoever it is, they didn’t do a good job.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m clearly in the minority but I honestly like this song, however I do think that I am the target audience for it. The choreography and Hyuna’s stage presence and charm are definitely the reason why I like the song so much though. Hearing it without seeing the performance isn’t as enjoyable.


  9. Are you thinking of doing a review of hyuna – “GOOD GIRL”, the major b-side of this album?
    It was originally supposed to be the title track, and as of Feb 3 2021 it now has a music video!


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