Review

Song Review: T-ara – Tiki Taka

T-ara - Tiki TakaIt’s such a joy to write about T-ara today. The group hasn’t made a comeback since 2017 – before many of today’s most popular acts had even debuted! K-pop’s constant changes and debuts keep it exciting, but there’s nothing like hearing from a veteran act. T-ara are such a huge part of K-pop history, and it’s great to see them release new music.

Tiki Taka (티키타카) comes courtesy of a few newer-gen producers, most notably singer-songwriter Colde. It’s interesting that they chose to promote this song with a music video, since the other new track is bolstered by more familiar collaborators. But, I guess it’s good to keep moving forward, and Tiki Taka still draws upon many identifiable T-ara sounds. In an era often fueled by Bratz Doll affectations, the group’s smooth, mature vocals are an absolute treat to hear. Even when the song transitions into the electro pulse of its chorus, the group’s performance remains slick and subtle.

However, it’s important to note just how strongly nostalgia is propping up this release. Tiki Taka is nowhere near T-ara’s best, and misses quite a few easy chances to become something stellar. I love the melody in the opening verse. It feels so intentional and well-constructed. And though the transition into the chorus is a bit jarring the first time through, the throbbing beat recalls past glories in a fun way. From here, the song feels like a series of diminished returns. It’s enjoyable all the way through, but doesn’t really go anywhere. A last-moment climax seems to promise something huge, but then Tiki Taka just… ends. Still, the power of T-ara themselves makes this an easy November standout. It’s a solid addition to their fantastic discography.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.25

11 thoughts on “Song Review: T-ara – Tiki Taka

  1. I was surprised that it just… ended, like you said. The other song All Kill is apparently doing better on the charts, I kind of like it more too.

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  2. I really appreciate this vocal style. Other than that, it’ s not doing much for me. Jarring verse/chorus transition and the song overall sounds very slow and empty. It can’ t keep my attention all the way through.

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  3. “ALL KILL” was an immediate playlist, but I’m not sure about “TIKI TAKA”. Without the benefit of nostalgia, I absolutely appreciate the vocals but have the same issues with the chorus that I’ve had with some other recent releases – the change is too abrupt and doesn’t come with enough payoff.

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  4. I thought all kill is the title track so I listened to that the whole day and it is so good. This song on the other hand is..um okay is guess?

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  5. By request..

    If I try to write down my impressions on this release by assessing it in it’s totality (MV, music, singing, etc.) then it’s going to come across as a train wreck, because emotionally, I’m all over the map with this one. So, I’ll try to assess each component.

    1. A new release from T-ara:

    OMG OMG OMG YES YES YES THANK YOU JESUS! (squeeeee)

    2. A new release from T-ara:

    Umm.. ..huh?

    3. Musically:

    A. I would’ve preferred a more fluid experience as I travel through the entire song. It’s hard to get into a groove if the needle keeps skipping around the record. It’s jarring and requires periodic mental resets to get back into the mood.

    B. It’s very safe. The overall presentation is somewhat clean. Efforts were made to fill in between the notes with small effects and light one-shot percussive elements which wasn’t really necessary, but didn’t technically ruin anything either.

    C. The complete experience was.. ..more tea cup, less roller coaster. I never felt the need for safety bars or a helmet.

    D. THAT ENDING. WTF?!? Okay, I’m going to get a little crass here. Sorry, but getting a new release from T-ara even after disbandment and the subsequent vacuum left in their absence is like being offered hot, sweaty sex after a several year drought of abstinence. Your wait is finally over. You pop the cork on a tasty Ardoisieres Argiles Rouge. Put on your favorite silk jammies. Then the magic starts. You’re trying to get into it. The rustiness you were worried about is real and you’re trying to move past it but.. ..IT’S HAPPENING. Yeah, baby, there it is. So nice. Then.. ..three minutes and seventeen seconds into your hunt for the elusive “O” face, SLAM.. ..nothingness. The lights go out. No happy ending. No soup for joo! Total anti-climax.

    4. The singing:

    A. Each member can sing. Are they the best singers in the world? Nope. Does that matter? Nope. They each have very distinct voices that allow you to pick each one out and hearing each is warm and comforting if you’ve any history with them. It’s the same calming effect you get from listening to someone you care about. Doesn’t matter what that person says, just hearing their voice sooths you. That said..

    B. The vocals were over processed. Given the stripped down nature of the music, a clean presentation of each girls singing would’ve been ideal. I know “some” level of processing will happen, but man.. ..that much chorus / reverb / vocal phasing tomfoolery is a disservice to both the girls and the fans.

    5. The music video:

    A. The girls are GORGEOUS. *cough* I mean, umm, yeah.. ..so nice to see them again. They look.. ..healthy.

    B. The direction and edits made me feel I was watching hastily stitched together montage of teasers for the video rather than a full music video. It’s the IZ*ONE syndrome. Make sure to shoot only cover girl shots and angles. Keep the focus of each take at 3 or 4 seconds each. Then Frankenstein all of the pieces into a 3 minute musical CF.

    6. The entire experience:

    OMG OMG OMG YES YES YES THANK YOU JESUS! (squeeeee)

    That’s my take, and I’m sticking to it.

    In all seriousness, it is a joy to see even a truncated version of T-ara. This may not be my favorite release by them, but I can honestly say it was the most appreciated given the unlikeliness of getting it in the first place.

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    • I agree with all points. It s good to see that T-ara have successfully done a comeback that is good enough, after all the years and all they went through.

      I will add

      7. Thank you to the serious stan in the Korean Patent and Trademark office for the epic move of completely and utterly shutting the trademark issue down. It is now officially in the public domain so the girls could come back as “T-ara” and not some other new name. (Though “Tiara” seemed to me like it was always in play as a possibility, or perhaps “Tae-ara” in Korean to use a different vowel character.)

      But alas, like T-ara, I suppose Xeno will go back into hiding for another long while now that he has said his peace (and how).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Given all of the years they were unfairly locked in the small space under the stairs (damn you Hwayoung!), and the justified attitude they could’ve adopted against the industry, they could have went with “Tea-era”. Then I could stand in that front row and yell, “That’s right.. ..spill it, girls!”

        P.S. Yeah, that was a bad joke; even for me. I will now go and reflect on my behavior and hope to one day return as a better person.
        P.P.S. God! I hope I don’t run into Seungri while I’m in the penalty box.

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