The release of SNSD‘s “I Got A Boy” has pretty much pulled in the same resounding sentiment from K-Pop fans: the song is terrible. No, putting 6 songs in one doesn’t make it “epic.” No, reading the lyrics doesn’t reveal some deep, hidden message. And no, we shouldn’t have to listen to the song a dozen times for it to sound better.
Despite that, I did listen to it a dozen times, just to make sure that my oft-suppressed grudge against SNSD’s aegyo antics wasn’t blinding me against the song. And I guess the theory that any song will get better after a few listens is true because it started to grow on me. The song is still a disjointed hot mess, but there are moments of light in that dark, dank cave of K-Pop ratchedness.
One reviewer over at the Prophet Blog felt strongly that the song isn’t as bad as the rest of the K-fandom is making it out to be. In fact, in one exchange I had with the author via Twitter, he called the song “brilliant.” I, of course, snicker at the thought that “I Got A Boy” frolics anywhere near “brilliance” but I did rub my chin in thoughtful agreement after reading this from his review:
“If f(x) had released ‘I Got a Boy’, K-poppers everywhere would’ve likely fallen for its wild unpredictability from the first listen, instead of going through the initial shock that came from seeing Girls’ Generation suddenly go from being the girls next door to K-pop’s crunkest hipster hotties.”
While I also got a nice snicker from the phrase “hipster hotties,” he does raise a great point to simmer on. Would we have liked this song better if f(x) had done it?
I called a couple of members on the One Shots team to ask that same question, and this is how one of those conversations went:
Salima: Hey Michelle, why do you think people hate “I Got A Boy”?
Michelle: Because it’s a really bad song.
Salima: Do you think you would like it better if f(x) did it?
Michelle: No. It’s a really bad song.
But I don’t agree. There are a few reasons why SNSD’s song would have gotten a better response had f(x) performed it.
Simply put, “I Got A Boy” is f(x)’s style. Not the abrupt and ungraciously finessed transitions, but the urban-electro feel. From “NU ABO” to “Electric Shock,” this totally would have been up their alley. Does that make “I Got A Boy” a good track? No, but it would be better than most of the music that f(x) gets, it would show growth in their music, and it would damn sure be more exciting than anything else they’ve done. And those facts alone are just more reasons to lament how much the group has been ignored by SM Entertainment – that SNSD’s worst music can be f(x)’s best.
“I Got A Boy” is more f(x)’s style than it is SNSD’s. Which is why SONEs and K-Pop listeners alike balked at the song and MV. Was this SM’s way of trying to keep with the electro-dubstep trend that doesn’t quite fit SNSD’s aesthetic? Or was it their way of yet again trying to make the girls cool and edgier by literally dressing them into a concept that doesn’t make sense for them? Because seriously, it freaks me out watching Yoona smile innocently at the camera while she’s donning the urban bad-girl look. Who could I see pulling off that urban bad-girl look? Amber. And even Krystal. And yes, the rest of f(x). We’re used to SNSD being those good girls next door who bake you a nice batch of cupcakes. There is a huge disconnect from what their known for and what “I Got A Boy” shows of them.
Does this mean that SNSD should be stuck doing songs like “Gee” and “Oh!” for the rest of their careers? Absolutely not! Props must be given when they are due: these girls danced the hell out of this song, even if the video was a chaotic mess. But I am saying that 1) it’s going to take a little bit more convincing for me to believe their sudden transformation into hip-hop vixens and 2) f(x) could have benefitted from “I Got A Boy” and built their brand with it. It’s a song that SNSD doesn’t need but f(x) does. Despite the hoopla over how bad the song is, it ironically could do a lot to establish f(x) as heavyweight contenders.
What say you, dear readers? Would you have liked “I Got A Boy” better if f(x) or anyone else had performed it?