This week we will take a look at a song that has received very mixed reviews, which is ‘The Boys’ by SNSD. It seems that just like Marmite, people either love this song or they hate it.
‘The Boys’ is an up-tempo song with a slightly edgy concept which is really quite different to most of the songs that SNSD have released before now. While a majority of SNSD’s fans have been trying to get used to this new concept, it could be just the ticket that allows SNSD a better chance of being successful in the British mainstream music scene.
The first thing that jumps to mind isn’t to do with the concept for ‘They Boys, but I think a problem that SNSD would really face if they tried to enter the UK market would be the large number of members in the band, as this might be seen as too gimmicky to the UK audience. For example, if anyone remembers Blazin’ Squad from about seven years back? Their band was comprised of ten members and I remember people thinking that so many members in one band was absurd and were quick to dismiss them. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I first started listening to K-pop it took me a long time to come around and listen to Super Junior and SNSD, because we don’t really have bands bigger than five these days, it was hard to get my head around! S Club 7 were incredibly popular here in the UK, but their music was mostly aimed at children and young adults (at oldest) which makes me think that with a similarly large number of members combined with their normal cutesy themes, people will assume SNSD make children’s music.
Getting back to the concept of the song itself, the video has a very elegant and beautiful opening which leads into song which is a bit at odds with the opening. But, that being said I think the entire introduction scene is pretty much fan service as it contains gratuitous shots of the girls looking very pretty while wearing pretty outfits. That might be hit and miss with people who aren’t SNSD fans and might be the kind of long introduction people might like to watch once but any other times will just want to skip past to get to the actual video. Perhaps not something you can truly appreciate if you’re not a Sone, or at least a K-pop fan? The rest of the video has a slightly darker and more mature feel to it than most of their previous videos, which is more likely to attract UK viewers as this is what we are used to from other girl bands such as The Saturdays.
The concept of the song seems to be that they ‘bring the boys out’ and attract boys to them, which may sound like bragging but once you see these girls and come to understand the sheer power of their popularity (for starters they have the most viewed K-pop video on Youtube) I don’t think you can argue! The video maintains an elegant and sleek concept throughout and focuses wholly on the girls as the video is set in fairly bare landscapes.
In keeping with the concepts of the song and video, the girls have three sets of distinctive outfits throughout the video; their ‘beautiful’ outfits from the beginning scene (tiaras included), the outfits they wear in the first half of the video which is mostly form fitting, sleek black leather and then their final outfits which are a little more edgy and sexy. The first outfits bring a little bit of class to the video but I feel don’t really suit the song, on the other hand with Kate Middleton fashion being popular with British girls this style may be more accepted than I’m giving it credit for! The other two sets of outfits are both cool and edgy, nothing that Western artists wouldn’t wear and as such nothing that people could dismiss for being too peculiar (which can be a risk with K-pop videos).
The overall concept will appeal to a variety of people, as there are classy elements that will appeal to females and a sexy edge for males.
Score – 4/5
The choreography is cool and a little sexy which is popular here in the UK, and there is nothing particularly quirky or odd about it and is just a typical K-pop dance in the sense that it has the attention grabbing dance move that people remember specific to the song. The dance has a little bit in there for everybody; some really badass and memorable moves but also mostly very copy-able.
The familiarity of a sexy choreography style which is very common in Western music videos should help attract non-K-pop fans to this song. This dance routine also goes a way towards helping the cultural problem of having nine members in one band as there is always a clearly defined member that you should be watching; they have their own little bit of solo choreography or are obviously positioned to be watched. The UK audience may feel a little overwhelmed when presented with so many people in one group and not know where to be looking but this positioning may help keep peoples interest.
Notably, when ‘The Boys’ was first unleashed on Youtube there was both the Korean and English versions available to watch, but much to the chagrin of international fans the English version was blocked in most countries pretty quickly.
The song itself seems to have divided fans, as generally SNSDs regular fans do not really appreciate the new direction this song has taken compared to their usual sweet and feminine concepts. It is dissimilar to their standard bright and adorable songs, as this track includes the girls having parts of the lyrics where it is less like they are singing and almost as if they are rapping their lines. This adds to the edgy feel and catchy beat of the song, and despite their usual sweet singing, they pull off this new image well.
Little bits of English are used in the Korean version and are generally spoken well, but it is pretty obvious that the English version would be accepted more quickly in the UK, but it should be said that the lyrics don’t really make sense as they have no context. Lyrics such as ‘Call an emergency, I’m watching the phone ring, I’m feeling this in my heart’ sound interesting but ultimately have little meaning. But, their English pronunciation was good which would be a crucial factor if they wanted to debut a song entirely in English as the audience would not be forgiving. I can already imagine the people that would snicker at any words that were remotely ‘Engrish’.
As a K-pop fan I can look past dodgy pronunciation of English words but I can’t imagine many others would. Non-K-pop fans will be expecting better from their music as mispronunciation is a little jarring and unpleasant to listen to, but thankfully SNSDs English skills are decent!
Overall score: 11/15 – This song, compared to other songs SNSD have brought out, e.g. Gee, will have a better chance in the UK. Cutesy would not do well, but sexy and elegant is on the right track. The video and song are well produced which is always a plus. The song only scored so low due to the nonsensical nature of the lyrics in the English version. This song has the possibility to do very well in the UK if they rethink the English lyrics!
I apologise for such a long review, but I had a lot of thoughts on this song!
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