Review

Random Shuffle Review: Super Junior – Mr. Simple

With over 3,000 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.

The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!


Year Released: 2011

When it came time for Super Junior’s fifth album, the group was working toward the culmination of their “SJ Funky” period. The trilogy of Sorry Sorry, Bonamana and Mr. Simple forms a blueprint for this style, which is essentially a lighter-on-its-feet offshoot of SM’s SMP sub-genre. As with those previous songs, Mr. Simple is a Yoo Young-Jin composition, and feels every bit as adventurous and off-kilter as you’d expect.

I miss the days where K-pop’s biggest groups released material as unique as this. Like it or loathe it, you can’t say that Mr. Simple sounds like any other song that was internationally popular at the time. It bounds forward on a brittle funk beat, driven by swerving synths that have a harsh, angular appeal. The percussion is unyielding, sped to a frenzy and delivered with a militant single-mindedness. The vocal melody echoes this construction. It’s rhythmic to a fault, utilizing a clipped performance that gives the entire thing a rough-around-the-edges, unfinished quality.

And, rather than transition into something more laidback or effusive for its chorus, Mr. Simple doubles down on its jagged structure. I love the halting, chantlike nature of this hook. It has an otherworldly quality that’s very satisfying.

After a few well-placed breakdowns that inject some rhythmic variety, Mr. Simple finally opens up during its dramatic bridge. It’s a moment of earned vocal bombast, and veers into a final chorus that further drives home the track’s rhythmic uniformity. This is the perfect ending to one of Super Junior’s most exciting periods, and undoubtedly one of the quintessential K-pop tracks of its era.

 Hooks 10
 Production 10
 Longevity 10
 Bias 10
 RATING 10

20 thoughts on “Random Shuffle Review: Super Junior – Mr. Simple

  1. Yes! No complaints here. Classic kpop, why I really got into kpop.

    When we say “this is a song knows what it wants to be”, this is Exhibit A. The song lays out a compelling hooks, and sticks to it with enough variation and enough repetition to make it interesting. The bridge has that well placed key change that goes off kilter, and then reverts again. Just enough variation, just enough repetition.

    I may also add that SuJu never got much of a MV budget, and it really doesn’t matter here, although this belongs to that era of “dear lord what are you wearing” SM styling. Iirc the light up blocks set was repurposed somehow for f(x) Electric Shock video, but I could have that scrambled a bit.

    One more comment: the choreo. There was a time about a decade ago when they deliberately kept the choreo simpler, for a few reasons.

    First of all there is one or two main choreo hooks that repeat – think the rubbing hands of Sorry Sorry, here it is the shaking hand and the fist bumps. Its a hook just like an aural hook. You see two seconds of hands rubbing, you think Sorry Sorry. Think of KARA Mister butt dance too The TVXQ snap snap push to the side of Mirotic. There are so few choreos today that are deliberately designed with an instantly recognizable visual hook like that.

    Second, its simple enough that the fans can easily learn the main steps without advanced tutorials, like learning the electric slide at your first wedding as a kid. Or the macarena. Or that clap your hands, now stomp your feet song – I don’t even know who did the song but I know the dance. This was actually deliberate – I read a New Yorker kpop article from a few years ago (5? 6?) which made this point.

    And finally, also simple enough so that they can actually sing live while doing the dance. They are not winded. There are no fancy mic effects. They are just singing the song.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aren’ t many choreos still designed with a hook or ‘killing part’? I think of MCNDs Crush, Golden Childs Genie, all of Twices big hits, BlackPinks Ddux4, Momolands Bboom Bboom, Sunmis Gashina and of course, Taemins Move – I could probably go on. I agree though that few are as iconic or memorable as the Super Junior ones.

      Maybe these killing parts are not distinct enough or not easy enough to be memorised. Maybe it is because they are just a small moment in a complex choreo and are overshadowed by other showstopping moments. I would actually like to see a return to more straightforward choreos. I would love to learn dances but it takes forever (..some dont seem possible at all without professional training).

      Difficult and intense choreos are beautiful, but there really is merit in keeping it simple (,simple dadadadadadada-).

      Like

      • You mention a few good counter examples. Twice “Cheer Up” came to mind after I hit enter. Even I know its chorus choreo well enough to reenact enough of it. But compared to how much kpop is released, the list is quite finite. I can think of and perhaps do Sunmi Gashina’s main moves, but her others notsomuch. I can’t remember MCND Crush or Golcha Genie choreo at all.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I was more trying to illustrate that most choreos are still designed with a killing point/ hook – just not an effective one. The idea is still there, but hooks from recent choreos are less memorable due to reasons we both mentioned.

          Twice is a good recent example of hooks that are still effective. Probably because (similarly to Super Junior) their choreos overall are relatively simple. Clearly this approach works, because their killing point moves gained traction outside of their fandom and became iconic.

          Honestly, I would not remember the killing points from Crush or Genie either if it weren’ t for the absurd amount of times I have seen them (help)

          Like

          • I went and re-watched Golcha Genie, and nope, I did not remember it. Cute move, but one small two bar move diluted among many other moves.

            Then there is the short list of more recent dances that are not hooky, but memorable, and/but I can only recreate a few steps at best.
            Seventeen, especially their earlier ones. Nice Very nice, Don’t Want to Cry.
            A handful of the NCT127’s, Firetruck, Cherry Bomb
            BTS Fire

            Like

            • Very true. In Genie I prefer the cool little member spotlights they do (Seungmin jumping out? The best). Yes, memorable but not hooky is also interesting! BTS Fire is a great example – I don’ t think that aggressive forward walk move was designed to be catchy, haha.

              Now that we’ re on the topic of dancing.. I went on tik tok (I finally caved) and saw that Yunho/ U-Know did part of the Eeny Meeny dance with Golcha Seungmin and Donghyun! The highlight of my week.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Iconic as this is, this would not be a 10 from me. It’ s a little too empty-sounding and frantic for my taste. Maybe it’ s because my taste is largely shaped by the eras that came after this. Let it be clear that I do like this song – a lot. Not only is it catchy, it is creative, and I appreciate that.

    Like

  3. Absolutely amazing! Super Junior had always impressed me with their high octane dance pop songs. I think of them as the group which supplies the brash, bombastic dance tracks which are ton of fun to listen to. Sorry Sorry, A ha, Breakdown…. but above all of them is Mr. Simple, a timeless classic. Though I think this new comeback might be my favorite from them…. I don’t know why. Anyways, that pre-chorus is an immediate stand out for me! So confident in it’s execution, and once again, your reviews are excellent and has made me love the song even more!

    “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fnL6oapZ-I” I can’t wait for Lucy’s comeback by the way!

    Like

  4. For some reason during the older times (at least relative to kpop) I didn’t get to listen to this song. Now that I do it, I still much prefer Sorry Sorry over this. That, is a real classic for me. I’d say this one is around 8.75

    What a catchy song tho.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.