Review

Buried Treasure: LE SSERAFIM – The Great Mermaid

LE SSERAFIMA K-pop act’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 wish LE SSERAFIM’s debut mini album had one or two more songs to really flesh it out, but it’s a consistent work that quickly establishes their sound. I like that they’ve chosen one production team to oversee the tracklist, even though there are many more guest cooks in the kitchen. I’m not sure all those additional collaborators were needed, but that’s the way a lot of modern pop music works.

Blue Flame delivers a great groove, building naturally from title track Fearless. But, I think I prefer The Great Mermaid by a hair. It’s slightly more daring and idiosyncratic, giving the group an electropop makeover that suits them well. I don’t want to get carried away, because the group’s music is nowhere near this level yet, but its rugged synth and creative vocal melody remind me of f(x).

There’s a massive f(x)-shaped hole in the K-pop market, and it’s nice to hear a non-SM girl group attempt a similar style. The vocals here have a lot of character, providing a much greater range of tone and texture than we heard on Fearless. The Great Mermaid’s pre-chorus and chorus are particularly impressive, delivering a well-arranged shot of gritty drama that rewards repeated listens. The song holds back more than it should (it could be weirder and bigger!), but LE SSERAFIM are still in an exploratory phase. With that in mind, they’d be wise to use this sound as a building block for their next title track.

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.5

14 thoughts on “Buried Treasure: LE SSERAFIM – The Great Mermaid

  1. Well your timing is impeccable, because I just listened to this EP this morning and it was the first time I felt the urge to open my notes app and type up comments to share here since “Maison”. Alas!

    (I was recently asked what the best song of the year so far has been, and not only have nothing dethroned Changmin’s Devil (or Everglow’s Pirate by TBL rules) the only group song that made the runners up list was Kep1er’s “Wa da da.” Huh.)

    Anyhow, this whole EP is solid: “The World is my Oyster” is a great little punch of an intro—even the voice over didn’t make me cringe, what?! “Fearless” is weirdly chill for a title but “Blue Flame” is a groovy jam, “The Great Mermaid” is groovy with more of a city flow, and “Sour Grapes” is the obligatory slow song, but rather than a ballad it’s more of a slow jam?

    Anyhow, great debut, and here’s hoping for more releases I like enough to want to talk about!

    Second listen verdict: I wish the EP had included a solid dance track to follow up on the promise of “Oyster,” which feels a little underproduced. Getting the same slightly underproduced feel from my second listen of “Fearless” (ironic for a Hybe song) but I really enjoy the bass and simple layered vocals. 4/5 stars for “Fearless,” “Blue Flame,” and “Mermaid,” 3/5 for “Sour Grapes”.

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  2. I’m glad that other people appreciate this track. Most people seem concerned on the controversies. This is just a solid pop song with some great synth choices that doesn’t over stay its welcome.

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  3. I’ve listened to the whole album a few times over (it’s short). HYBE seems to have positioned the whole image and sound and sensory experience to be like the Duty Free shop of an international airport. All sorts of slick packaging and treats appealing to a smoothly glossed pan-international crowd.

    You woke up way too early to get here on time, your flight is already 2 hours delayed, somehow people are already drinking at the bar open at what time, and now you are not quite sure what country you are in anymore, every accent possible surrounds you, fancy wheely suitcases and strange puffer jackets, what country is that color passport from, then you rifle through your pockets for whatever local currency you have left for a block of Toblerone because lord knows if you pull out a credit card you will buy something too much. This. This music sounds like the background music to that experience.

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    • HYBE seems to have positioned the whole image and sound and sensory experience to be like the Duty Free shop of an international airport. — LMAOS

      I find their visual concept more like Zara Woman Spring Summer 2022 campaign.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zara – something like that too. From every country and no country in particular, all countries, all at once, the most palatable multinational common denominator.

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  4. This definitely could’ve been the title track but I suppose I can see why they went with Fearless instead. Along with comparisons to f(x) I also got a little bit of SHINee brand electro-pop from this, especially last year’s “CODE”—-not nearly as potent, but with some of the flavor.

    Of course, if these girls don’t continue with the sound I’ll be looking @ Min Hee-Jin’s upcoming group to carry on an f(x)-esque legacy for sure!

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  5. The instrumental is so dynamic and the chorus is especially gritty. Really want a title track of this vein next comeback. Reminiscent of SHINee’s CØDE as someone already mentioned. Cøde is one of my favourite songs of all time

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  6. This was my favourite on the mini too. I playlisted Blue Flame as well, but I think that one’s just a “wouldn’t skip on the playlist” song for me, though I like the choreo a lot. The title track has grown on me…but it’s really more of a the-chorus-won’t-leave-my-head kinda grown on me. But I’m looking forward to their future music – I think they have a lot of potential, despite me not being the biggest fan of their debut.

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  7. feels like sour grapes is the one a lot of people tend to gravitate towards, but i also like this one the most

    the fx-ish sounds are always a yes for me. speaking of fx-ish sounds, have you tried royal by ive? its a b-side from the love dive release. i personally thought it was fx-ish too, although in a different way than le sserafim’s the great mermaid

    there are so many big name kpop debuts this year.. especially girl groups… its super enjoyable for a fan like me, but i wonder how the rookie year-end awards are gonna look like later

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  8. Ah! I really liked Blue Flames- It’s groovy and it’s a good addition to my playlist. But after hearing this song, I like this as well. It’s certainly different from what I have heard from girl groups over the past few years. It’s a little too safe but the melodies are strong (imho). Did I say yet that I like groovy music? Oh well- I like groovy music. I haven’t liked much from girl groups recently so this seems like a pretty good debut to me!

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  9. I hate to be the voice of dissent here, but I found this track incredibly intense and in-your-face. Especially since the whole album has kept up this intensity and its the 4th track in the album, and I just want a little breathing space (which is why I really love the prechorus). Other than that, I couldn’t repeat this song for hours on end, nor do I particularly want to return to this song.

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  10. such a good debut. fearless is the standout track – as it should be – but blue flame and the great mermaid are great as well, especially the latter. i’m glad they debuted with a mini and i hope their next album has a couple more songs cause i’m tired of rookie girl groups only releasing single albums.

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