Review

Buried Treasure: GWSN – eieio

GWSN - eieioA 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.


I’ve seen GWSN compared to f(x) ever since their debut. I think much of that has to do with member Miya’s androgynous presentation, but with new mini album The Other Side of the Moon, their music is starting to get there as well. I’m still not completely sold on many of the group’s songs, but it’s great to hear new sounds in their discography.

Album tracks I Can’t Breathe and Burn are both solid, but I find myself going back to eieio most often. Though it hinges upon a repetitive hook, I love the choices the instrumental makes. I’m noticing industrial-type beats pop up more and more in K-pop, but they’ve largely been relegated to boy group tracks. Eieio takes that aggressive, pounding percussion and tethers it to its verses and chorus. This gives the song a driving momentum, interrupted only by an airy pre-chorus.

The percussion thins out for the second verse, but is at its best when barreling forward full brunt. I love how closely the production supports eieio‘s clipped, wordless chorus. The girls’ vocals feel like cogs in the machine, but the mechanical effect is not without a potent melody. And just when you think the track will revert to more standard fare, eieio adds a surprising level of distortion. There are many textures at play during this odd little song, but they all come together without feeling jarring. It helps that eieio is driven by such a menacing rhythm, drawing you in while simultaneously keeping you at a distance. And when you think about it, that approach is very f(x)!

 Hooks 8
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.5


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15 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: GWSN – eieio

  1. Very f(x) indeed. Despite my initial love to I Can’t Breathe, I actually do find myself coming to e i e i o much more frequently, though that might be Youtube’s algorithm more than anything.

    As I mentioned in the Like It Hot review, the first thing I thought about e i e i o was definitely a sea shanty. Probably because of its swing feel (though I can’t tell if it actually is in swing rhythm). The final chorus gets rid of the swing feel, playing with the hook, before diving back in. All of the textures all make it feel like a pirate song, which honestly would’ve been a better concept what with the water drippy album cover.

    Also, I’m surprised you liked BURN. Despite how much I love how it plays with its drop and the melodies of BURN, the drop’s synth reminds me too much of an Otomatone. And I can’t take it seriously it if I think too much about it because all I can imagine is a little Otomatone going AAAAA as it talks about burning (not a bad song though, just a little unfortunate!!)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Kind of late to the party but am I the only one that thinks that this sounds like a more upbeat pop version of the Old MacDonald nursery rhyme or is that just me? Also this was a surprising pick. I expected I Can’t Breathe to be crowned as a Buried Treasure.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It happened to me too! I thought that I can’t breathe would be my fav b-side but this little weird song is a BOP.

    Fun fact: the lyrics are about hunting and torturing a man. Quite creepy, but it adds up to the weirdness and I’m down for it

    Liked by 4 people

    • These lyrics… are weirdly explicit about their intent. It’s not even remotely vague to suggest some other possible interpretation. I love it, mainly because the song itself does feel like it’s chasing you somewhat.

      (It does get into a discussion on how appropriate creepy lyrics can be for songs in different ways like the contrast between f(x)’s Shadow’s being dissonant to 3YE’s Stalker literally just being dance music to TWICE’s aegyo Yes or Yes but that’s for another time.)

      Liked by 3 people

      • I mean if we’re gonna do that, we’ve gotta talk about boy group lyrics first, don’t we?

        In particular, I’d never looked up the translation of EXO’s “Wolf” before, so I was rather surprised when I was watching Kingdom and suddenly realized I was watching a bunch of dudes screaming “HEY JUST BITE HER AND SHAKE HER ‘TIL SHE PASSES OUT!” which is literally the chorus. And just generally they sing about killing a woman and eating her. Sexually, of course.

        I disagree with your statement that the lyrics to EIEIO can’t be interpreted any other way. On the contrary, I think that like “Wolf,” this is pretty transparently a sexual double entendre, where killing = sex, and there’s an S&M element. Maybe EIEIO is less uhh greasy about this than Wolf, but it’s obvious in some key lyrics: “You know yourself it’s better to be tied up,” “The sweetest nightmare you can ever ever have.”

        I think that it’s just less of a shock to our system like, culturally/societally, when boy groups incorporate these S&M elements into their lyrics/performances, because we are so used to seeing men as sexual aggressors and women as subject to that aggression!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I also think it is because girl groups are often portrayed in a more innocent and ‘clean’ way than boy groups, even when doing creepier concepts.

          EXO went full on sexy and..mildly gory.. with Monster for example, while Red Velvet in Peekaboo has creepy undertones but is overall pretty clean and cute looking (also, Russian Roulette).

          More explicit lyrics are a stronger mismatch with the pretty/cute gg image than the sexy/dangerous bg image and that also creates more of a shock, I think.

          You could also say that all of that is just a product of the cultural views of women and men, I suppose.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I mean, yes, definitely! Girl group agencies seem more hesitant to go there. It’s true that this song is unusual even for a dark girl group concept because it is explicitly violent lyrically even if it is a metaphor, whereas comparable songs like “Peekaboo” and “Russian Roulette” usually don’t have much to do with violence at all when it comes to the lyrical content at all. Like sure, we got Yeri chasing a pizza boy with an axe in the music video, but the lyrics to Peekaboo are basically your standard Red Velvet charming nonsense. Another one with a creepy vibe is Nature’s “Girls” (which I love), which also avoids any kind of lyrical violence in favor of “hot like chilly chilly.”

            With regard to EIEIO, I would say there’s a reason they didn’t make this one the title track, and instead went with “La la la like it hot, you know me you know me.” But even if this one got a music video, who knows? Maybe the girls would all be sitting around drinking tea and eating cake….

            Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, like most others, I expected I cant breathe to be featured as the buried treasure but this is a pleasant surprise. Personally, I prefer burn and eieio sounds like an upgraded not for toddlers version of a nursery rhyme.

    Like

  5. The chugging bass + percussion when it comes around reminds me of the same rhythm in Michael Jackson “The way you make me feel”.
    ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzbnrfd9vLQ

    The album has a lot of good songs on it. Also, for a kpop girl group that on the surface may seem like it is going for the aegyo flavor, they are not. Their lyrics are rather menacing. In addition to the ones mentioned above, “Its death by drowning” on I can’t breathe.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Someone had a theory I Can’t Breathe’s a depression song disguised as another twisted love song. There’s enough that it feels it could be love, though there are other lines that feel less so. Could be about something less sane too.

      “The girl is myself.”
      “I don’t know if I’m crying or laughing right now.”
      “I think I’ll stop breaking. I think I’ll break.”
      “I can’t deny it. I can’t say I like it either. (Please say it isn’t so.)”
      “I can’t do this or that, I’ve already broken down.”

      And the main chorus is all about not being able to breathe and dying by drowning.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It all reminds me of Billie Eilish – that ability to be many teen angst things all at the same time while being none of them in particular – quasi-goth-quasi-emo, the extroverted introvert, the cool nerd, the friendly frenemy, etc.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hah, I didn’t pick up the MJ reference but was reminded of Janelle Monae’s “Make Me Feel”, which, duh, directly references “The Way You Make Me Feel”. I’m a little old for kpop and a little young for MJ, so it’s a good thing music doesn’t card at the door.

      Liked by 1 person

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