Buried Treasure: Chungha – Bother Me

A K-pop group’s title track isn’t always the best song on their album, even if it’s the one most people will hear. Sometimes, b-sides deserve recognition too. In the singles-oriented world of K-pop, I want to spotlight some of these buried treasures and give them the props they deserve.

Chungha’s new album is a behemoth. At twenty-one tracks (including interludes), there is a lot to digest. But as a lifetime devotee of Janet Jackson, and someone who grew up on a lot of 90’s r&b, I’m well-acquainted with this kind of bloated track list. In fact, it even conjures unexpected nostalgia.

Beyond the singles, much of Querencia just isn’t for me. It will come to no one’s surprise that my favorite section of the album is its upbeat “savage” side. We’ve already heard two of these songs as singles, but back-to-back they pack added power. And then, we’ve got the groovy Bother Me to top off the party. I already mentioned Janet Jackson (aka: my favorite popstar ever), and I could easily see her tackling a song like this in the mid-00’s.

Bother Me’s verses are a garble of lyrics, coming rapid-fire in an almost stream-of-consciousness manner. And while I would have preferred something more tightly structured, Bother Me is much more indebted to its beguiling instrumental. It throbs along an old-school club beat, occasionally swerving into more atmospheric territory. This comes to fruition during the chorus, which employs filters and muted synth tones to create a beguiling centerpiece. Chungha’s voice joins the bed of instrumental elements, pulled and twisted as sprinkles of guitar and icy strings add a disco touch. But, my favorite moment is actually quite brief within the context of the track. It comes just after the first chorus, as an ascending electro wave sweeps us into the second verse. K-pop often struggles with transitions between musical segments. But, they’re so important and — when done well — so satisfying.

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8


8 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: Chungha – Bother Me

  1. That transition into the second verse was really nice! It made me say “oh” out loud lol. Due to the way she started out the song, I basically focused on the instrumental and treated chungha’s voice as another intstrument (especially when that effect came on it). Usually the vocals are the highlight of the track, but for me it was those synth chords and the beat ( which felt quasi-club to me).

    It’s a shame to hear you didn’t like the album that much, I was going to listen to it but maybe I’ll have to pass

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This album as a whole had lots of different things and I found myself with at least one additional non single song from each section I liked from each section – Masquerade from side A (a better title track TBQH) This from side B (though I did like chill as well), Demente from side C (arguably my overall album favorite) and Everybody Has from side D. The instrumentals were also fun and could’ve made some interesting songs if used/developed.

    Even so, I do agree that restructuring could’ve lent this album more clarity while also being a showcase of her tastes.


  3. Ack, my other comment got eaten lol

    I do think this album could have benefitted from tightening itself up a bit and being a showcase that way but even so I found a non single song from each section that I did end up liking a lot – Masquerade (a better title track choice IMO), This, Demente (the album fave for me personally) & Everybody has – and the instrumental sections could’ve been fun songs if developed properly as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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