One of the first sounds we hear on “We Became Gang” is the distinctive oohs from T-ara‘s 2012 hit, “Lovey Dovey“. So you can’t help but listen in, despite the fact that this sort of start to Gang Kiz‘s first mini-album inevitably ties them, musically at least, to ride the coattails of their senior (but conceptually junior) labelmates for the length of this mini. And sadly enough, it didn’t even end well for the Gang Kiz – “Honey Honey” didn’t even place within the Top 100 on the Gaon chart.
But these ladies deserve an A for effort – they’ve released not one, but three separate music videos for “Honey Honey”, all filmed presumably during their trip to Europe. The take home message GM Contents (CCM‘s spinoff label/permanent clearinghouse for the scandal-ridden Co-Ed School) is trying to drive home is, ironically, the exact opposite of what the oohs/mentioning T-ara ad campaign suggests – these ladies are not your oppar’s favs. Gun-toting badassery and mature topics (gasp – sex) abound in this mini, making SNSD look like a bunch of premenstrual middle schoolers by comparison. Older woman swag, indeed.
The entire mini-album is a precarious balancing act between conceptual integrity and commercial success, which is why it ultimately flopped. While the two aren’t mutually exclusive in most cases, T-ara’s concept is different enough from Gang Kiz (and they keep lowering their average ages, too) such that associating themselves with T-ara damages/seriously discredits the sophisticated-and-dangerous older woman concept they’re trying to carve out as their niche.
There’s an unmistakable Italo-disco bounce to their Shinsadong-produced single, “Honey Honey”. But European roots are not all that’s in this song – they’ve also thrown in a dash of trot flavor that adds an air of theatrical melancholy to the mix, presumably to add “maturity”. But sultry femme fatale is hard to take seriously when you’re sampling the hook from your more popular, younger labelmates who’ve built their career off songs like “Bo Peep Bo Peep”.
The breathless dramatics continue in “Tonight“, except the trot was turned up by a factor of ten. Not the right thing to turn up, though, as the song is pretty uninspiring. The dark ambience, the melancholy oohs, rather than create tension or evoke emotion, nearly smothered the song to death. After a number of listens, I think I’ve narrowed down what makes this song ultimately unappealing to me - there’s a certain fakeness, a condescending worldliness that comes across in the emotionless, overly affected way they deliver the lyrics. There’s no actual sadness expressed in these words – goddamnit, the most rousing thing in this entire song was the rap section – not in the way they emoted, pronounced, or even elongated the words.
“Super Love” is where I draw the line in the sand. Yes, it’s a catchy, fun, acoustic guitar-led number, but all of that goodness became irrelevant at 2:16, when in comes the shamefully halfhearted, toothless excuse for a dubstep break. Just an awful, completely unnecessary, almost disrespectful caricature of what a dubstep break is supposed to be. Moreover, it’s completely useless and serves no apparent role to progress the song. I have no further comment.
“Shh” oriental touches, trot-inspired, with a hoover synth that sounds eerily similar to the one in miss A’s “Touch”. I suspect a bit of
plagiarism copying, but I hesitate because I’m not sure if someone involved on this track also worked on “Touch”. Other than that, I rather like this song. You get to hear trot finally working for the girls, after nearly six minutes of GM Contents trying to shove it down our throats.
“I Don’t Want To Know Goodbye” is the final track on this mini, and it seems like it was placed after GM Contents ran out of studio time for Gang Kiz and just threw on some pre-recorded ballad from the Coffee House OST, sung by Hwang Ji Hyung. There’s no other reason to put this kind of track otherwise, as it sticks out like sore thumb on this mini. Regardless, as most drama OSTs go, it’s a beautifully produced ballad, and it shows off (finally, at long last) some of the latent vocal talent in Gang Kiz.
Overall, it’s always awkward when exotic sounding Eurobeats are brought in as musical crutch for conceptual maturity/emotional significance, and GMC wasn’t above this on this release. Musically, this album was average, but it sounded too similar to the disco sound that T-ara has been pursuing, and after a while, it felt as if I was listening to the musical equivalent of vaudeville theater, with all the over-the-top sighing and heavy breathing.