Last year, Super Junior made their anticipated comeback with all 9 active members after almost 10 years. Although Super Junior have promoted nearly every year – between their mandatory military enlistment, hiatuses and some member departures – this was considered Super Junior’s first official comeback as a ‘complete’ group (even though there are some inactive members for various reasons). Their album ‘Time_Slip’, released on 14th October 2019, was the groups 9th studio album, with 9 members and a comeback teaser photo dropping 999 hours before the comeback – which only added to the anticipation fans were feeling at the return of this second generation group!
On 28th January 2020, Super Junior returned with 2YA2YAO!, the title track off their new album Timeless, the repackaged version of Time_Slip. Timeless consists of a total of 14 songs; all 10 tracks from Time_Slip and 4 new songs. Although the repackaged version includes all 10 previous album songs, Time Slip and Timeless have showed us two completely different concepts and themes.
The aesthetics of the concept photos for Time_Slip gave a colourful and retro feel to this comeback, giving the impression through the album title and the images that the group will be travelling with us back in time, exploring different concepts and sounds throughout the album. All the songs on the album display a different side to the group which show that they can accomplish just about any concept perfectly with Show and Skydive giving a retro 80s vibe, similar to the teaser photos. Their title track Super Clap was energetic, colourful and fun. This contrasts with the repackaged album Timeless, themed around the concepts ‘bright’ and ‘shadow’. Their title track 2YA2YAO! is more serious and intense with darker colours and images. The latest album Timeless marks the end of the Time album trilogy, representing the full group unity with Time_Slip first, followed by a special addition of Time_Slip before the release of Timeless.
ELF’s held high expectations for the group’s comeback and the repackaged album release was no exception. The group held the standard high with the success of Time_Slip and they were determined to expand on their sound and explore different concepts.
The first track on the album and title song, 2YA2YAO!, has a completely different feel from their previous title song SUPER Clap. Written and produced by former Block B member and soloist Zico, who is currently topping the charts in Korea, created even more anticipation for this comeback song and collaboration. Pronounced ee-YA-ee-YA-O, a humorous pun in Korean, sees the group venture into the hip-hop genre for this confident and intense beat with old-school vibes. The music breakdown (which nearly every kpop song seems to feature at the moment) was well placed and not awkward, while Super Junior explore a different style then what we are used to seeing from them. The vocals were very strong and charismatic in this song with a catchy chorus, and I really enjoyed rapper Siwon which was a surprise to hear! It was also nice to hear member Shindong get more lines and be the focus during the dance break in the music video.
The video has the same vibe as their older release, Bonamana – and correct me if I’m wrong, but that was the last time I remember Super Junior releasing a music video with a similar dark setting and a more edgy concept. Parallel to Bonamana, the video is choreography heavy with solo member close ups which is similar to a lot of their past videos, but they have managed to still make it feel like something new.
The Crown is a perfect reintroduction to the group, which is probably why it was chosen as one of the pre-release songs before the release of Time_Slip last year. The bold lyrics give the impression this was their intention, they are ready to comeback and they will do so stronger and better than before; “this is our time, let our light shine”. The Crown has a powerful delivery and every member gets a chance to showcase their talent, leaving a powerful impression with a more even and fair line distribution. The distinctive drums and beat which builds in strength throughout the song gives off an anthem feel which makes the song sound and feel more impactful – and the harmonizing towards the end was spectacular!
악몽 (Ticky Tocky)
Ticky Tocky, the second new song for the repackaged version, is another hip hop based track. Connecting fluidly with their new title track 2YA2YAO! with a more dark and edgy, slow and serious tone to the lyrics and the overall sound. The hip hop beat is complimented with fierce rapping and the three main vocalists shone in this track. Kyuhyun, Yesung and Ryeowook’s vocals were smooth and charismatic, walking a fine line between persuasive and seductive, blending together beautifully with the hauntingly sung repetitive chorus.
The next song is another new one and probably the most modern sounding song on this album. With the album titles and concepts revolving around time and different eras (the majority of the songs reflecting 80s and 90s vibes) this song is a refreshing contrast to that. Shadow, the title also linking with their album concept and its ‘shadow version’, has a more upbeat sound than I was expecting. Another contrast to the other new songs on the album which explore a hip hop heavy sound, Shadow has a more electro-pop sound which feels new and addictive. The vocalists once again impress with this style of song and the soft vocals capture attention which mesmerize the listener and give the song a more intimate quality. Eunhyuk’s rap was at its strongest here, full of emotion and flowed with the beat perfectly.
SUPER Clap, the fifth track and original title song from Time_Slip, brings the energy with its disco pop feel. Although different in sound compared to the previous tracks, SUPER Clap still perfectly connects to the album concept with its ‘bright’ and retro pop nature.
To some, this song was a breath of fresh air as it had a completely different sound to the Latin genre Super Junior have been exploring over the last few years. Although all amazing releases, it was nice to hear something different from the group by going back to a similar sound we hear from much older comebacks. SUPER Clap wastes no time establishing its beat which radiates fun and energy; it’s quite catchy, with a heavy brass and polished retro sound. And of course, as the title suggests, there are plenty of claps involved! The clapping was incorporated into the song and choreography. Instead of being annoying or feeling overused, the clapping had a great balance that blended into the music adding more percussion to the instrumental.
It was announced that group member Heechul would not be taking part in music show promotions for their new album. He confessed he still has difficulty dancing due to the condition of his leg caused by his leg surgery, so I was pleased to still see him in the music video for SUPER Clap! As the majority of Super Junior’s music videos are heavily choreography based, I was worried we wouldn’t be seeing much of Heechul in this video. Although it is understandable why he did not join his members for the dance sequences, I was really happy to see him still be a part of the music video and having fun like the rest of the members!
The music video compliments the song with its fun and colourful delivery. The 8 promoting members also released a dance practice video a few days after its release and although the dance felt less impactful and slow compared to the upbeat sound, the dance practice was amazing! With great added motion graphics which made the dance more visually pleasing and exciting.
I Think I
Super Junior have made themselves familiar with Latin sounds in their songs over the last few years with Mamacita, Lo Siento and a whole mini album ‘One More Time’. Although this is something Super Junior have explored before, I was still surprised to hear the Latin influence in I Think I as the teasers gave the impression this comeback would be different from their previous releases. However, unlike their prior Latin influenced tracks, I Think I has a perfect blend of this sound while still making the song their own by bringing their own identity and personality to something they have delved into several times in the past, making it sound new and refreshing. The repetitive lyrics make the song memorable and catchy with the subtle use of brass throughout the song which increases in the final chorus leaving an impact.
The video is reflects the smoothness of the melody, with perfectly executed scene transitions showing members sliding in and out of view. The vocalists added a playfulness to their performance, however Eunhyuk’s rap felt awkward and misplaced – I respect the fact he wanted to add Spanish words for their fans to sing along to, though!
Title tracks are usually chosen as they are deemed the ‘best’ song on an album, but sometimes b-side tracks take the spotlight and deserve the same recognition. It’s no surprise that Game (originally titled Fire) was the initial choice for the title track of Time_Slip, another upbeat and lively track, similar to SUPER Clap in its vibrancy. The song stays memorable with its energy, and the beat and heavy brass stay consistently bold and edgy. I was pleased to see Heechul given lyrical credits, along with member Eunhyuk. I wasn’t surprised after listening to Game that Eunhyuk had lyrical input as it gave off the same vibe we are used to from a D&E release.
I enjoyed the bright vocals and Leeteuk and Heechul’s raps, which felt more amusing after watching the album preparations for Time_Slip. For those who were watching SJ returns 3, you would have already been familiar with Game as it was a big focus during the show in comparison to their first title track.
Changing the tone of the album is Somebody New, a vocal heavy ballad dedicated to fans and a gift to their fandom; ELF. Ryeowook and Kyuhyun continue to impress with their stunning ad-libs, but the true power lies within the song’s lyrics which left many fans feeling emotional after hearing it for the first time. The members convey that they are ready to leave the past behind them and come back a better and stronger version of themselves; thanking the constant presence of their fans to help guide them, “Forever me and you”. The melody is calming and comforting, the instrumental sounds gentle and you can hear the honesty in every word the members sing.
The music video paired with this pre-release track shows the members in a natural setting, all having fun together with no standard video clichés or pretence. It’s an honest depiction of the idol group connecting with the honest lyrics, “The time I am mostly myself was spent with you”.
Together with the emotional vocals and personal music video, this was the perfect gift to ELF and I can see this easily becoming a fan favourite.
Skydive lightens the mood once again with its fun beat and catchy rhythm. This is appearing to be another fan favourite on the album with its upbeat pop sound and ingenious beat drop – suitably complimenting the feel of the song with its title. The falsetto’s during the chorus while singing the word “fly” by Ryeowook and Kyuhyun were perfect. Kyuhyun and Donghae’s voices also blended together stunningly, and Shindong showcasing his rich vocals was another great addition to the track.
Heads Up portrays a sleek sound that is delivered with confident and breathy vocals, especially in the songs verses, which contrasted with the charismatic and faster synth-beat chorus. Yesung’s vocals were golden and really suited this style of song – I hope this type of suave, electronic sound is something Super Junior continues to explore in their future releases!
Stay with Me
Stay with Me has a soft and soothing sound. The music feels light and the vocals are clear which carrys through the music easily by sounding well-balanced and beautifully coupled with the honest lyrics and melody. The song features another catchy chorus and charming vocals. I was especially impressed with the rap segments in this song, which is not something I usually praise in Super Junior songs. Throughout this album, I found myself enjoying the rapping more than I normally do as it blends well into the songs when I would usually find it to be misplaced or awkward.
Rock Your Body
Another new track added to the repackaged album is Rock Your Body, performed by Yesung, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Ryeowook subunit. Another hip hop heavy song which blends in perfectly with the rest of the repackaged album tracks, all taking on a similar vibe. The three vocalists delivered the song strongly with an upbeat rap performed by Eunhyuk, overall leaving this song filled with adrenaline as the beat builds up continuously and is consistently full of energy.
No Drama completely changes the mood from the previous track. Performed by members Leeteuk, Yesung, Eunhyuk, Ryeowook and Kyuhyun subunit with Leeteuk also credited for composition and lyrics. The sound reminded me of a 90s ballad song with soulful vocals from the members and an acoustic touch in the instrumental. The members voices unified together exquisitely and Leeteuk’s vocals really shone in this track. I always appreciate when singers have artistic input to their music and I hope leader Leeteuk expands on his song writing discography in future releases.
Closing the album is Show – ironically the first song we heard from this comeback! At first it sounded like an unusual choice for a pre-release track, but this meaningful song fits in with their ‘travelling back in time’ concept by opting for a remake of Kim Won Joon’s 1996 release of the same title, Show. Travelling and exploring different generations of music this comeback era, the video also looks back on their latest tour Super Show 7, linking with the lyrics to the song and the meaning behind them; thanking their fans for being with them and supporting them for the last 14 years. The video coupled with the choice of a remake brings a nostalgic feel, and although a musical cover of an older song, the song still reminded me of some of Super Junior’s earlier songs. In a contrast to the usual fan dedicated songs, the group didn’t opt for a ballad but a more upbeat and energetic sound which mirrors their feelings towards their fans while showcasing the energy they display while performing live. Without any rap sequences, Show gives all the members the opportunity to ‘show’ off their vocal abilities. The chorus is powerful and uplifting – I can imagine fans singing along to this while creating more memories with Super Junior at their next tour Super Show 8.
Super Junior have definitely shown they are ‘Timeless’ with this release and won’t be slowing down anytime soon. I look forward to seeing what they do next in future comebacks!