Despite their lackluster popularity in Korea, Supernova has managed to keep a steady musical consistency through their years in the music industry.
The six member boy band debuted in Korea in 2007, but quickly jumped ship and started picking away at the Japanese market. Over time, Supernova has adopted a lot of Japanese flair in their presentation, and in my eyes, have grown to perform, sing, and flow in a very Japanese style. Considering that they’ve spent most of their time in Japan (under Universal Music Japan), this doesn’t come as a surprise, but it’s interesting to hear a boy band that is Korean by their roots but almost entirely Japanese in their delivery on both turfs.
This week, Supernova returned (sans their leader, Yoonhak, currently enlisted in the military) with their newest Korean single, “Stupid Love“, penned by their long time producer of choice, Brave Brothers. Brave Bros. has worked with Supernova before, and together they churned out one of their best Korean singles (and one of my favorites), “On Days That I Missed You“. It sounded very Brave back then, reflecting all of the producer’s tendencies and aesthetics, and the same can be said about “Stupid Love” today.
The lead single is driven by a classic piano line, like a lot of Brave Bros. productions tend to be, and unfolds into the usual electronica pop number. It reminds me of a toned down version of TEEN TOP‘s “미치겠어“, with a defining dubstep vibe to it. Brave taps into the step trend and introduces moments of tension with drops and whompy dubstep elements, both on melodic verses and the rap sections. It’s one of the most dubstep inclined K-pop singles to date, and probably one of the riskiest moves to make for such an obscure boy band.
There are moments in “Stupid Love” that get extremely close to detaching themselves from Supernova, but in the end the whole thing actually comes together really well. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this was an old-school U-KISS single. Both groups have similar sounds, and Brave Brothers definitely carved this song out of a general K-pop mold rather than crafting it as something unique to Supernova. “Stupid Love” is commercial, catchy, and a trademark Brave Bros. single.
In other words: a classic K-pop song.
This singles album also came armed with two B-side tracks, “Saturday” and “Stop Girl“; both outsourced to the production house MARCAN, and both fantastic tracks in their own right.
“Saturday” may very well be one of the best boy band releases so far this year. Someway, somehow, Ryan Jhun (MARCAN producer) perfectly gelled a funky house mix with Supernova’s voices. The group’s singing stands out in all the right ways, almost coming across like a bona fide J-pop song.
Generally speaking, Japanese songs are painted in very broad strokes, whereas K-pop songs tend to be a lot tighter; “Saturday” is broad and very dynamic. It creates an open atmosphere in its first measures and continuously toys with space as the song progresses (something I’ve picked up in MARCAN productions). The only section that lost itself on me was the rapped climax. It did a devastating job of abandoning all traces of build-up that was offered from the rest of the song. If that section were sung rather than rapped, I think it would have filled in some of the dead air, because as it stands it’s very juxtaposed … and not in a good way.
“Stop Girl”, another MARCAN creation, is an interesting pop song. It has that air of sophistication that has rooted itself in U-KISS’s newest sound. The vocal processing is crisp, and the instrumental elaborately simple. One of the song’s best features is its sudden and smooth transitions between the verses and the chorus. It changes beats as frequently as girls change moods, and I find that to be fucking brilliant for some reason.
“Stupid Love” is a very small morsel of satisfaction from a group that rarely appears in the midst of today’s K-pop scene. However, I have to give them credit for managing to stay alive and for staying committed to their music.
It’s not easy coming to grips with them as a K-pop group, because they do come across very J-pop now. The best thing about this collection, though, is the interesting ways in which Supernova happened to incorporate that exact Japanese intonation within the scope of their Korean music. There are tiny traces of J-pop seasoned atop these songs, and it’s those tiny bits that make this album worth listening to.