SPICA’s “Secret Time” repeats the group’s formula for better or worse

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Over my years extolling the virtues of SPICA, even I could see that the group’s discography featured similar magical positives and slight, but undeniable, flaws.The group’s visuals and vocals were always breathtaking, but the group’s dedication to an older R&B sound and a lack of emphasis on hooks and pop riffs often left the group’s singles feeling like a sunny mid-week day in August — super pleasant but often forgotten by the time the evening rolls around.

For better and worse, SPICA’s latest comeback, “Secret Time“, doesn’t do much to alter the group’s formula for success (?). “Secret Time” is by no means groundbreaking or the best single that SPICA has produced, but it’s a fine representation of what SPICA does well, even if it does little to correct the things that have eluded SPICA singles in the past.

“Secret Time” has some immense facets working in its favor, but the video and the song’s choruses and hooks are not among them. Unfortunately, these elements may be the most important things to nail when it comes to K-pop videos. The video’s faux eighties roller rink concept is executed without many twists, and the interchanging slow motion shots, party montages, individual scenes, and choreography moments are strung together in a way that is completely expected, and thus, a bit boring. The choruses, which feature SPICA going for a more pop-centric approach instead of the powerhouse R&B style where the group truly shines, also err on the side of the single’s more forgettable moments. Compared to the better pieces of the song, the choruses are overly long and they become repetitive (in a bad way) by the conclusion. Luckily, the fantastic moments of “Secret Time” make up for the bland, if completely inoffensive, facets of SPICA’s single.

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While every member of SPICA can sing and command a camera like nobody’s business, “Secret Time” truly comes alive whenever Kim Boa and/or Bohyung are singing/doing anything. Their contributions to the song’s verses, with all of their soulfully strong approaches, are the best parts of “Secret Time” and it’s not a particularly close contest. Narae (goodness), Sihyun, and Jiwon all look radiant, and it’s not as if they don’t carry their weight in the video or the song. However, in a comeback that doesn’t feature many innate bells and whistles, it wouldn’t be that far of a stretch to say that Boa and Bohyung are the difference between “Secret Time” being an average K-pop comeback and an average SPICA comeback. Their individual work and the moments where they bounce off each other are the instances where “Secret Time” captures a magic that is hard to match, and the difference is as monumental as my undying devotion to Boa.

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I highly doubt that “Secret Time” is the single that will catapult SPICA into the K-pop stratosphere, especially given the fact that the group has released better singles before, in a time that they were also much more prolific. Like SPICA’s other videos (outside of, perhaps, “Tonight”), “Secret Time” doesn’t look to impress with its visual creativity. The single seems to hedge between wanting to show off SPICA’s vocalists and wanting to be a more streamlined pop song. Nevertheless, “Secret Time” succeeds on SPICA’s terms. The verses shine with each member bringing their own identifiable vocal approach to the song, and Boa and Bohyung prove that SPICA may have an overabundance of riches when it comes to singers.

“Secret Time” won’t change anyone’s mind when it comes to SPICA, but at this point, I’ll take any SPICA comeback that I can get, even one that is basically average when it comes to the group’s music videos.

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