Not me, that’s for sure. I haven’t been a fan of KARA since they released their first album way back in 2007 so I was a bit iffy about reviewing their new mini-album, but then I realized that if I really want this review blog to succeed, I have to step out of my comfort zone and review music from people I don’t normally listen to on a regular basis. Anyway, for their third mini-album Lupin, the girls of KARA have decided to try and shed their girly image to take on the personas of ‘gentlewoman thieves out to steal the spotlight from other groups making their comeback.’ Will they succeed? Only time will tell (/cliche), so onward, ho!
1. Tasty Love – I felt like a giant sign with the words ‘FALSE ADVERTISING’ was blinking in my head as I listened to this song. It’s very KARA in the sense of it being very upbeat, danceable and sweet, but I feel that it sounds a bit too much like something you’d find on an anime soundtrack.
2. Lupin – I was intrigued by the opening beats but was slightly turned off by the extremely unnecessary rapping Nicole does in the beginning. What is it with producers and their need to insert a rap in every song? Seriously, I want to know. In any case, this song starts out strong and then sort of shifts in mood somewhere in the middle and for some bizarre reason, it works for me. It doesn’t sound completely out of place and I appreciated the effort to mesh a new idea with an older sound.
3. Umbrella – I’m a bit torn about this one because it starts out sounding kind of Broadway-ish (think Welcome to the 60’s from Hairspray), which is a genre that I love, but then it moves into anime territory again. I probably would’ve liked it better had it stayed Broadway-sounding.
4. Rollin’ – It was at this point that I realized KARA’s problem: they’re trying to promote a more mature image but they’re still making songs that sound like they’re catering to a kindergarten-aged audience. Not only does this song sound like it belongs to an anime, but I can see this song being used in those kids’ shows with the adults that look far too happy not to be on some sort of medication (come on, you know what I mean).
5. Lonely – I was pretty much ready to give up on them…then I heard this song. It’s completely lovely, sweet but not overbearingly so. It also manages to show off the stronger vocals of Seungyeon and Gyuri, something that their cutesy songs don’t do.
General Comments: Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the cute concept – I think it’s lazy producing because you’re sticking to something that’s tried, tested and practically foolproof as opposed to exploring different types of sounds and challenging the abilities of the artists. I get that K-pop recycles concepts and such things all the time but I don’t know. If I were a producer, I’d probably prefer to take a risk and do something completely different as opposed to offering a rehash of what everyone else is selling.
I was really disappointed by the mini. I expected an edgier, more mature KARA because of their really slick styling and I got pretty much the same saccharine bubblegum pop they released the last time they came back (well, not really. A bunch of songs on Revolution were definitely upgrades from ‘if you wanna pretty’). Apart from the concept not matching the songs, I think KARA’s main problem is the fact that they’re not particularly versatile. They only have two above average vocalists and the remaining three are extremely underwhelming, especially Goo Hara, who I’ve never heard sing in tune. As dancers…well, anybody can wiggle their butts (and everybody DID wiggle their butts to ‘hey kogi, kogi mister!’) but I’ve yet to see them pull off more complicated choreography. Maybe they do want to move away from their cute image but the truth is that they don’t move too far away because they really can’t.
I’d give this album a 1/5. Nice try, girls.