With Ye-eun going solo, Sohee quitting to follow her acting career and Sunye leaving because of her marriage, future did not appear very bright for Wonder Girls, the quintessential Korean pop girl band, which rocked the nation, and the world, back in 2007. Although JYPE agency insisted it’s hiatus only, I don’t think anyone expected the band to pull through the peril. Well, the surprises are the best, so the news from June about Wonder Girls making a comeback caused waves.
The girls returned as a quartet: Ye-eun, Yubin, Hyerim and Sunmi (who used to be a member for a period of time but left to focus on her studies) and totally rocked my world with I Feel You MV which promoted the album. The people behind producing this music video, full of retro-gimmicks and sexy 80s pop-rock hooks really had their homework done. The clip is stunning visually and the music fits the idea almost too well.
Wonder Girls (similarly to SNSD) never had an overly-sexualized image, but with the release of REBOOT, the girls look much more feisty and some people point to it as a problem. For me it was an obvious transition, maybe not unavoidable, but probably for the better. Yubin and Ye-eun are 26, Hyerim’s 22 and Sunmi’s 23 and has done the spicy 24 Hours MV, so the innocent girlie concept no longer suits them. Besides let’s get it straight – I Feel You has a few suggestive moves, but it’s absolutely nowhere near HyunA, Stellar or even bands like SISTAR or AOA.
With mature looks comes the mature sound. Tell Me, Irony and Nobody were some cool tunes, but the new record is just sensational. It opens with Baby Don’t Play, a synth-pop punch in the face reminiscent of Madonna or Cyndi Lauper. The next song, Candle, is certainly one of my favorites. It features rapper Paloalto (he’s great by the way), few adorably nifty rap lines by Hyerim, sensual vocals and lots of keyboard.
I Feel You comes next and as I mentioned, this song is a winner. Had it been actually released in the 80s, I’d have been listening to it for years by now. Sit back, relax and enjoy the awesomeness.
Rewind has a sadder mood but it continues with the overall tone of the album. On Loved the guitar comes to play more prominently, and there’s a nice solo near the end. The electronic drums set the rhythm in this one though. John Doe and One Black Night mark a slight change in the direction for a wild party. Particularly the latter would be a great club song.
Back is a homage to the Golden Age of hip hop. Yubin and Hyerim rap in the raw, stripped down style of Run D.M.C. (Hit It Run, Perfection or Dumb Girl come to mind immediately) and they’re damn good at it. OPPA (오빠) has some anthem-like qualities. Girls’ independence and freedom are what this track is all about, men shouldn’t hold the women down (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)
I wanna go out! I wanna have fun! I wanna dance dance dance all night!
사랑이 떠나려 할 때 (Faded Love) is a mid-tempo new wave-inspired ballad about a girl who can’t accept partying ways with her lover. 없어 (GONE) is also a quite dark song. It just screams pain and unrequited love. The vocals here are extremely expressive and the music is equally grand.
REBOOT ends with 이 순간 (Remember). It’s a lovely ballad deeply rooted in the 80s, which would perfectly fit some tearjerker scene in a drama. The type of song you’re gonna either love or hate because of its seriousness at being serious. I love the hell out of it!!!
There’s also a ‘Talk’ track with Wonder Girls talking (go figure), joking around and laughing, unfortunately I have no idea what they’re saying but I don’t think they’re cursing me so it’s OK. Grab REBOOT if you can, you can’t pass on this one!