Song Review: Sunmi – You Can’t Sit With Us

Sunmi - You Can't Sit With UsIt’s been almost three years since Sunmi released anything more than a digital single, making her new 1/6 mini album quite the milestone. Thus far, her discography is best summed up as: “quality over quantity.” Even so, songs like Heroine, Siren and Pporappippam made her a staple in the upper reaches of my end-of-year singles list. New track You Can’t Sit With Us fits well alongside those earlier triumphs, even if it lacks melodic bite.

In a surprising sidestep, Sunmi has opted for a new set of producers on this song. You Can’t Sit With Us pairs her with the popular songwriting team of Melanie Fontana and Michel “Lindgren” Schulz. Those two were responsible for Twice’s excellent I Can’t Stop Me last year, and this track feels like a spiritual successor. Its 80’s Take On Me-esque synths are omnipresent, driving the structure of the verses. The soundscape coasts on that familiarity. The only break arrives during verse two, when the track staggers into one of those ill-fitting tempo shifts.

Apart from that moment, this is Sunmi by the numbers. She excels at this style, so it’s hard to be disappointed. But, You Can’t Sit With Us’s chorus could do with a re-evaluation. It’s quite catchy, but awkwardly phrased. I blame the English lyrics, which feel ill-fitting within this synthpop context. Less wordiness would have helped smooth out the chorus. It’s like the writers were intent on emphasizing the catchphrases rather than the sharpness of the melodies. Sunmi sells the gangly refrain with ease, so it’s not too much of a concern. But, You Can’t Sit With Us comes across as a strong single that could have been legendary if given a few tweaks.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9


22 thoughts on “Song Review: Sunmi – You Can’t Sit With Us

  1. Aside from the rap (which is a small misstep. I’ve heard worst applications of forcing rap in other kpop songs), I love this song! I’ve only heard a select few of Sunmi’s songs but her tracks are consistently good and “You can’t sit with us” is another solid entry 😀
    Super happy that we got a mini this time around. It’s been quite a while since we last saw one. Despite the long wait, this mini did not disappoint! My favourite bsides from this mini would have to be either “Sunny” or “Call”.


  2. Good, but a little too similar to La Di Da/I Can’t Stop Me/Ring Ring etc. for me. She sounds and looks amazing, but the song itself is just nowhere near the dark smolder of Tail for me.


  3. She is incapable of making a bad song, but I think this lacks that ubique flavor that her self-penned songs have, and suffers a bit for it.
    Nevertheless, the mini album is truly fantastic.


  4. It’s alright, but for me its not of Sunmi’s usual quality and creativity. It sounds like a “Blinding Lights” copycat, granted that song was at the top of the charts for a very long time, for some reason. To me, Sunmi usually leads trends and make statements while this is a follow-on to others making similar sounds and bland lyrics.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I hear the Blinding Lights similarities too, though granted I think most agree the success of Blinding Lights was one of the main catalysts for the whole “retro/80s” trend in k-pop anyways.

      Speaking of Blinding Lights, its still at the top of the charts – its a week away from being the longest running song on the Hot 100, and sitting at #17 for this week’s chart, it’s almost definitely going to reach that milestone next week.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, I felt the chorus was a bit awkward with the lyrics, but I loved the quick phrasing of the post chorus, though it grew repetitive towards the end.

    The mini is very strong, with all the songs having a retro tinge in it. Also, the beginning of Call sounds like the weeknd singing it and the starting of 1/6 feels so much like crooked.


  6. Yeah, it’s an awkward chorus. It gets better as you listen, but it could’ve done with some rewriting to make it work better. Also bad second verse rap, but regardless it’s not a bad song. It’s definitely following the trends more than her previous singles, though that’s not entirely bad. Still enjoyed the song, though I did need to relisten to the original song because there are a lot of cuts and extra bits in the MV version.


  7. Uhmm could have been a much better song. The rap didn’t bother me as much as the awkwardly phrased chorus. It’s just not something I’d have fun singing along to. The “you can’t sit with us” doesn’t even fit that great with the rest of the lyrics. It’s what remained of the original English lyrics and forced to keep in the Korean version because they thought it’s catchy?
    The song is also missing something but I can’t pinpoint exactly what. I feel like too many of the 80s inspired songs these days fail to really capture what makes 80s music so good. meh.


    • The 80’s retro trend has gone on for so long, that I have long since given up commenting on how it really isn’t 80’s.

      But YES, what you said, they all fail to capture what made 80’s music so good. Not that I really demand a perfect mimic, but the homage’s seem to miss the point. Solid hook, a counterpoint off that hook, crystal clear vocal, empty space in the instrumental, killer instrument solo, synth supported by real instruments and real brass (esp saxophone). These days, they bring in the flavors of the synth sound and the drum kit sound, but miss the songcraft and the ringing pinging of the instruments. Its like getting sauerkraut when you want kimchi.

      The best kpop homage to 80’s is Day6 “Days Gone By”. It may as well be a Glass Tiger or Hooters song.


  8. This song feels like it was ripped from Reboot. The second verse was a mistake and the bridge is really forgettable. This is Sunmi playing it really safe, but at least we finally have a mini album from her.


  9. I’m surprised no one is talking about Sunmi’s vocal processing. Compare her voice to Pporappippam. Her vocal color remains but it is weirdly compressed and unpowerful in comparison to past Sunmi performances.

    this also reminds me of Rocket Punch’s last comeback, but a little less grating…I don’t know compared to Sunmi’s work in this sound before its trendiness, it doesn’t differentiate itself…and those older songs are so much more melodically powerful and interesting production-wise.

    Don’t love the retro trend enough for this to be something I really want to listen to.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. One other comment – Nick talks about the lyricism of the lyrics, and I agree with him completely. There are some parts that just don’t match what should be the cadence.

    Whodoyou thinkyou ah-ahr
    youcan’t sitwith uh-uhs

    triplet doublet awkwardsinglesyllablestretchedtobeadoublet
    doublet doublet awkwardsinglesyllablestretchedtobeadoublet

    It doesn’t match, so the flow is stilted. The triplet is really crammed in there. And then, within the lines there is no clever poetic devices that should be used in English – no rhyming, no alliteration, no meter, no metaphors, nothing.

    It hits me today, because I have found my guilty pleasure for the month, the bonkers “Shut up I go crazy hot” from Oneus, and that line sounds exactly like how it you think it is going to sound. Dumb as shit, but it is a proper iambic tetrameter. It just flows. Also, I am happy to report it is now available on US itunes.

    Liked by 7 people

  11. I couldn’t stop wondering why this sounded more like any recent k-pop retro song rather than a usual Sunmi retro song. Thanks for the answer, this was written by the two producers I’ve see on every k-pop tracklists in the past two years.

    The song is ok but I’ll stick to her other work. And please can you release Hey You, I’m tired of listening to that Mnet live version !

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I actually held back on listening to this for a few days because I was busy and people were saying it wasn’t all that for Sunmi (I know, I know,) but I dunno what the heck y’all are talking about—this rocks.

    I actually think this song has melodies that make more sense than “Tail”s did (and those ones weren’t bad)—not forgettable or stilted at all. The main thing I’m grateful for, however, is that Sunmi has the charisma and budget to bring the fun with every comeback. It makes enjoying the music so much more of a complete experience.

    I usually don’t care about concepts at all, but this is my favorite I’ve seen in a long time. I have no idea how she’d do all her songs in a concert—there’d be an insane number of costume changes and styles to handle—but I sure can enjoy the videos in the meantime.


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