Often times, Kpop seems to get stuck in a little bit of a trend rut. That’s not to say that there are never any outliers, nor that these trends do not produce some fantastic releases. But it’s always appreciated when a group comes back with song that tones a different turn to the releases around it. Ladies Code is a group that certainly knows about owning their own identity and talents. In recent years they’ve given us some unique, if not somewhat overlooked, tracks which have been rightfully praised. ‘Set Me Free’ continues that trend, though hopefully it will also be the track that garners them more attention – for all the right reasons.
Instantly opening with a funky beat and finger snaps, ‘Set Me Free’ doesn’t hold back. \It’s not an intense beat, though it is one that carries the verses well. It’s deep yet has a fantastic rhythm, playing around with stops and starts like there’s no tomorrow. It’s almost a little cheeky in that sense, which is how the girls play into some of the vocal sections. Ashley’s tone in particular contrasts at times with Zuny and Sojung’s higher tones, but to great effect. There is a moment in the pre-chorus however that doesn’t feel quite right. It’s as though the vocals here should be stronger but are instead restrained, even leaning on the weak side. Whether this was a stylistic choice or not, it feels out of place amongst the stronger chorus and verse vocals, especially with the quick chanted line before the chorus hits. The final chorus redeems this completely, with some great adlibs thrown in to spice things up.
The follow up to the chorus is synth-driven and wonderful. It’s a catchy little riff that drives the song forwards, making certain that it doesn’t feel forced compared to everything else. It also mixes in a short vocal line to avoid all emphasis straying to the instrumental. Switching up this lighter tone, the bridge sees the song lean more into its deep house influences. The bass becomes more prominent, the synths from earlier dropping out somewhat. It’s this mixture of more playful, funky elements with the heavier electronic twist that keep the song fresh throughout and make it a really intriguing mix that’s likely to get better with every listen.
Once again, Ladies Code isn’t holding back. If anything, this is a video that shows the girls being set free by their own power and control. It’s decadent from the outset. The entire first verse sees the girls lounging around in a sports car after confidently strutting up to its shiny red doors. And did we mention there are also guns? They really aren’t holding back, making it absolutely clear that the girls are the ones with the plan of attack.
This extravagance is taken further with the next few scenes. Stealing into a shop, there’s bubbles, money guns, and a lot of clothes – which they promptly steal by holding the shop owner at gunpoint. It’s never taken too seriously, instead used to make the girls all seem calm and collected, yet still playful.
And games are something they are good at playing in this music video. At a casino table, they’re seen raking in the money, betting on card games and winning continuously. Until, that is, they are caught in the act. The quick getaway that follows flaunts their winnings and they’re cunning. But that’s not before Zuny reveals that the gun she’s been threatening everyone with is actually a banana. It’s a cute moment of levity to stop the scenes becoming too serious, and yet more confident strutting down the road to close the video just oozes confidence.
Yes, Ladies Code is a group who knows who they are. More importantly, they aren’t afraid to have fun with that and make some great music whilst doing it.