Many would be likely to agree that Super Junior is a veritable Hallyu K-pop superpower and that they have remained so for quite a few years.
The group have one of the most dedicated fanbases around (ELFs) that have stuck with them throughout the various hardships they have faced since their debut back in 2005. Many members have left and some returned due to very different (and sometimes controversial) reasons, but the group’s popularity has remained strong. Now, in 2012, the boys are seen as experienced veterans in the entertainment industry – having had much success in all of its fields. They are sought after talents, with most of what they touch turning to gold. As member Kangin has returned after finishing his mandatory military service and the leader Leetuk about to embark upon his own, did this album deliver the goods fans were undoubtedly expecting?
Track One: Sexy, Free and Single
A fellow staff member has written a very detailed review of this single, so I will not go into too much detail here. (I recommend you give her review a read though!)
Upon hearing the title of this track, I grimaced and cringed. It reminds me of a cheesy thing someone would say when they have recently ended a relationship.
When I finally heard the song, I still wasn’t sold on it. It has a strange structure that was quite unsettling to hear at first and, as a big Super Junior fan, I found myself to be a little disappointed. However, after about five listens, I loved it!
It really grows on you and the English hook line (however strange) becomes stuck in your head and difficult to remove.
I can now hear that signature SuJu sound coming through in its hard, yet bouncy beat and the choreography is some of the best I have seen from this group of incredibly talented dancers.
When I looked up the English translation of the lyrics, I saw the title as something very misleading. The song has a lovely message – very similar to their previous single’s “Mr Simple” – about trying hard in life and not letting the obstacles you face to knock you down. I can see the very slight connection of being “Sexy, free and single” in feeling confident and capable, but I just feel that there may have been a better way to communicate this.
UK Potential: 3/5 – Although this is a great track, I feel it would give UK listeners the wrong impression. It is an undeniably cheesy concept and the overall sound is very K-pop-ish. This is by no means a bad thing as Super Junior always executes it so well, managing to offer fans something new yet cover it in their own flavour. However, I just don’t think it would be very successful as a debut track here.
Track Two: From U
This song is a very sweet dedication to Super Junior’s fandom – the “ELFs”. It’s a really sweet thing for them to do right before the leader Leetuk leaves for the army and I think it will end up being a lot of fans’ favourite track on the whole album. But, I really don’t see this being successful on the Western market as a single because it is far too cheesy. The hook line “Baby baby baby baby baby” is incredibly catchy though, even if it may make you cringe slightly. Despite my assumptions of its potential lack of success on the Western market, one gets the feeling that this is not what they are aiming for here anyway.
It is a song for the fans that they already have, for the ones that have supported them through thick and thin. It is soppy and cheesy, but I imagine they don’t care that they wouldn’t be gaining any new fans from this one in particular.
UK Potential: 0/5
Track Three: Now
Here is a track that instantly reminds me of the OST to a drama series. It has a strange American-sounding theme to it, it’s also really upbeat and light-hearted. I think that the rap parts add a bit more edge to it and give it a few more points in the “cool” department, but overall it is a song that will probably make you smile and bob your head along even if you don’t want to. I have already caught myself singing the: “Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo~” part on many occasions.
UK Potential: 2/5 – Once again, I think this is just too cheesy to push onto the UK market. However, it does showcase many of the members’ strong vocal talent and I think that would be essential to show in order to make a great impact on UK listeners.
Track Four: Rockstar
This particular song is so awesome, but bears a very striking similarity to LMFAO’s Sorry for Party Rockin’ in parts. This actually disappointed me a bit at first, but after a few listens, I started to appreciate the song in its entirety. It’s a really fun and upbeat song, something that members Eunhyuk and Donghae are particularly well known for from their previous “Oppa Oppa” release.
Those two voices are more prominent in this track, but it is really refreshing to hear the other Super Junior members’ voices in such a silly song – it gives it a lot more depth. I would love this song to have a music video; I can imagine it showing everyone having a great time and pretending to act cool. The English is fairly well pronounced, but you are usually too busy jumping around to the song for it to be too much of a problem.
UK Potential: 4/5 – If they were to create an English version of this song, I really do think it would do well. However, of course, they would need to ensure that their pronunciation was 100% accurate for the UK audience not to pick holes in it left, right and centre. I would prefer the group to debut on the UK market with a track that would better match some complex choreography though, as that would showcase their talents more evenly to new potential fans.
Track Five: Gulliver
One word to describe this track – adventurous. It’s a really interesting composition, with an almost tribal sound mixed in with some epic vocals and rap. This combination may sound pretty unsettling on paper, but the actual sound is very intriguing and ends up working very well. The members show their versatility in this mix and you really get the impression that they mean business. Anyone that may have doubted Super Junior’s ability to progress in their sound and style would be proved wrong by simply playing this one track.
UK Potential: 3/5 – This song is great and combines catchy repetition and powerful vocals with a dirty old school Hip Hop sound. One glaring problem here though comes with the use of English. I’m sure I hear them spell the “Junior” in Super Junior as “J-N-I-O-R”. Many fans claim that they can hear the “U” – but I beg to differ.
Track Six: Someday
Upon first look of the English translation lyrics to this song, it seems to be a song for a past love. The members sing of the couple being too immature to appreciate their feelings for each other in the past, so the relationship broke down. However, the persona now has the hope that their paths will cross again even though they will both be in different stages of their lives.
There have been a few fans who have commented that they think the song is actually about members that are no longer an active part of Super Junior such as Hankyung and Kibum. I would really like to believe this is so. I remember being really pleased that they mentioned that Super Junior is still made up of 13 in the lyrics of their previous release “Superman” and it’s great that they can confront the topic in songs where they generally have to/choose to avoid it elsewhere.
The song is strong ballad; it’s great to hear every single member’s vocal talent. Of course, the stronger vocalists dominate most sections, but everyone is very much present.
UK Potential: 2/5 – Again, I don’t think this one creates the impact they would need to smash into the UK market. Also, if it is in fact about the past and inactive members in the group – the message would likely be lost on newer fans.
Track Seven: Bittersweet
Initially, this song has an almost Christmas-like feel. I did not really take it all that seriously at first as it sounded like something I had heard in a soppy drama when the girl has broken up with the guy. I recommend that non-Korean speakers take a look at the English translation of the lyrics as the song covers a lot of harsh emotions.
It really does give the idea of a bittersweet feeling as the persona is stuck between contrasting feelings for someone they had previously opened themselves up to. There are such poetic words used in sentences like “”Words I couldn’t swallow, Your words that were so hot and poisonous” that were previously completely missed before I looked up the translation, so I am glad that I did.
UK Potential: 3/5 – These lyrics do pack a punch and I think a lot of people who have been betrayed by others in the life will be able to relate to the message it gives. However, I am still sceptical of its potential success level due to its overall “jingly” sound.
Track Eight: Butterfly
Personally, this has become my favourite track on the album. The English lyrics in the song “Let it bounce” and “Let it boom” really do sum up the general feeling of the song. It is upbeat and makes you want to dance and jump around and this can also be felt in the English translation of the lyrics which are about the metaphorical transformation into a butterfly and the liberation it brings.
I really want them to film a music video for this song. It is very silly-sounding, but you can feel the fun that the members are having whilst singing this one. Listeners will probably be blown away by the vocals of Kyuhyun, Ryeowook and Yesung in particular – they are always amazing, but they are extra amazing here. There is a teeny venture into the Dubstep genre which is a really nice surprise; it also shows how the group are striving to keep up with the latest trends on the music scene whilst still keeping their own signature style.
UK Potential: 3/5 – Again, I think this song has the potential for success, however not as a debut. These lyrics are a little silly and it could give people who are not usually into pop music the wrong impression of the group and may cause listeners to not take them seriously.
Track Nine: Daydream
This is another song that pushes a little too much in the cheesy category for me personally. However, yet again, they boys do it so well and show their strong talents that I a caused to think again. The chorus lines have some pretty high notes, but every time they come, it is pleasing to the ears. I find that, even with professional singers, some of the more difficult notes can be a bit shaky. But, of course, SuJu show the fruits of their years of labour and completely knock them out of the park. It is a beautiful song and even listeners who are not usually fans of ballads (like me) will not be able to deny that. An extra bonus for fans can be found in the fact that recently returned member Kangin really shows off his lovely voice as the song almost seems to fall silent for his verse.
UK Potential: 1/5 – Once again, I don’t think the slight cheesiness of this track would fare well on British shores unless the group were already really well established here. Even then, I don’t think it has the impact needed for a single release.
Track Ten: A ‘Good’ bye
As one may have already guessed, this song can be read as a message to fans to not lose hope as each member eventually leaves one-by-one to carry out their military service. The lyrics are as beautiful as they are painful. The members sing of having a relationship with someone (ELFs perhaps?) and, despite having to say goodbye, will stay strong for them and keep smiling. There is a small section of the song that sounds like an old-fashioned music box; it is now my favourite part of the track. It is so sweet and pretty that it begs to be replayed again and again. The title is equally lovely and sums up the song perfectly.
UK Potential: 2/5 – I feel this song is more of a message to already existing ELFs yet again, so I do not see it as an appropriate single release in the UK.
Along with the CD, you get an 84 page (!) photo book and a poster. Of course, a lot of photos with an album are only to be expected from idol groups, but I have never heard of such a big photo book being offer as part of the album purchase.
I personally prefer the “Mr Simple” album concept of popping colour and crazy styles to the more natural look of this album. But, even though the style is incredibly strange, the more I look at the images of the members, the more I see the beauty of the concept. The general style of the packaging is indeed very posh and comprised of high quality material.
Packaging Rating: 3.5/5 – Even though fans will be getting a lot for their money, this packaging does not seem to offer a very big “wow” factor. Having said this, the style definitely keeps with the over concept of this release and it is interesting nonetheless.
Once again, Super Junior have returned and proved to listeners why they are one of the biggest acts in contemporary K-pop. They are talented and, above all, incredibly versatile – continuing to produce stomping dance hits alongside some powerful ballads.
I don’t really think this particular album has a high chance of success in the UK, but I genuinely do not think this is what the group were aiming for here. I think it’s good that one of the K-pop groups that are so hotly tipped for global success has chosen to create an album almost solely for their pre-existing fandom.
The members have shown us that they are as strong as ever and their multiple wins on music shows is clearly set to continue for a while yet.
On a small side note, I am shocked how easily member Kangin seems to have slipped back into his Super Junior mould. He has really worked to assure fans that they were right to wait for him for those two long years, which bodes well for the remaining members’ upcoming hiatuses.
Thankyou for reading!
What are your opinions of the album?
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[Source: Google Images]