[Review] HyunA’s charisma tries its best to carry “I’m Not Cool”

Oftentimes, it feels as if I appreciate the idea of a HyunA song more than the actual song itself. She’s such a fierce, charismatic performer, and has played an integral part in the last decade (and more!) of K-pop. She’s also released her fair share of classics, both as a soloist and part of girl group 4minute. Yet, when it comes to many of her singles, I tend to be drawn toward the attitude and energy on display rather than the music. New single I’m Not Cool does little to change this, but it’s a solid encapsulation of her charms as an artist.

Originally scheduled for release last year, I’m Not Cool plays as a highlight reel of HyunA’s sonic tricks, simultaneously recalling work from her own group and debut-era 2NE1. It’s one of those “catchphrase songs” that have become so popular in K-pop, in which the chorus is essentially a memorable one-liner delivered over bombastic instrumentation. This is followed by a brief oasis of melody, though I don’t think it’s one of her better hooks.

I’m more impressed with Cool‘s verses and pre-chorus. Yes, they’re primarily composed of the sing-talking structure I often complain about, but HyunA’s magnetism makes them work. The instrumental here is particularly engaging, chugging along with an undulating pattern that keeps the segment moving at a clip. I can’t quite tell if I hear bass guitar in there, but the fast-paced arrangement has a very Edge of Seventeen vibe to it either way. A more inventive hook might have pushed this over the top, but as it stands I’m Not Cool is simply HyunA doing what she does best.

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