So Billboard released their Messy List of the Top K-Pop Albums of the Year. I call it a mess because the actual best album of the year wasn’t included, so I can’t even validate the list for being slightly accurate for at least having the decency to include IU.
10 Songs of C-Yell screaming on top of electronic beats while Plastic Bom pretends to sing occasionally is not worthy of the album of the year title. That rightfully belongs to the Kings of Hallyu, Super Junior, and their masterpiece, Mamacita AKA 7Jibsus.
When Super Junior’s first teasers came out for “Mamacita“, of course I gave them flack for ripping off B1A4’s iconic “Baby Goodnight” concept. The cowboy garb was ridiculous to begin with, and after watching the video, I really wanted nothing else to do with the song, ever again. It’s easily Super Junior’s worst title song since…ever. If it weren’t for Kyuhyun’s glorious adlibs, I don’t know if it would even be listenable.
Then I listened to the album teaser SM put up on YouTube. I had a feeling that 7jib would be as good as Super Junior’s best album, 2009’s Sorry Sorry. Even though I had a good feeling about the album, I still hadn’t listened to the full album until October – because I’m a trashy Super Junior fan, I bought it on iTunes despite wanting a copy with the “yayaya” typo. And then the repackage came out in October, and saved us all from mediocre releases. I finally got my Kyuhyun Version (V
…for ‘Virgin’ obviously) along with my At Gwanghwamun CD.
Even though I generally only listen to full releases from my primary bias groups (B1A4, Super Junior, T-Ara) based on everything I heard this year, Super Junior managed to put out the best album of the year and I’m glad I waited until now to review it, because Billboard did them a disservice, as did the GDA by ‘forgetting’ to nominate this gem of an album despite having the highest album sales of all Korean music releases this year.
It’s more than likely the case that no idol groups are going to have comebacks this late in the year, and if they do it’s in the form of company ‘winter special singles’ filled with boring ballads and songs about Christmas. Yuck. So it’s essentially safe to say the 2014 year of K-Pop is over.
It’s rare for idols to have decent B-Sides, but Super Junior is one of the groups that more often than not delivers in their B-Sides, which are sometimes even better than their titles. Obviously that is the case with Mamacita, AKA 7Jib, AKA 7Jibsus. It’s clear immediately that “Mamacita” is a miserable song compared to the other gems on this CD. I’ve been saying since the highlight medley was released that whoever decided on “Mamacita” as the title should be fired, and should be banned from working in media for the rest of their living days.
As for the rest of the songs, they’re reminiscent of the days of Sorry Sorry, when Super Junior actually released albums that had excellent B-Sides, each of which were listenable, and none really needed to be skipped.
Almost every other song on 7Jibsus is public friendly and showcases how much Super Junior have developed since 2012’s Sexy Free and Single, and would have made a better single than “Flopacita” – so it was very smart that SM let them release a double follow up with “This is Love” and “Evanesce”; sadly both flopped harder than “Flopacita”, but are superior songs in every other sense of the word.
I already reviewed “This is Love” in a previous post, so I’ll stay away from that song too and talk about the rest of the album.
I’ve recently embraced my inner white girl, and realized how much I love Vera Bradley stuff, so seeing a song called “Midnight Blues” excited me from the start. (Have you seen the pattern? It’s hella pretty.) Finally hearing the song in full, it’s clear how the song gets such a gorgeous name. The song sounds like a lost Sorry Sorry era track, full of crooning and smooth beats. It’s rare to hear such a strong bass line in K-Pop songs, and that alone is noteworthy.
“Evanesce” was the second half of SuJu’s two part follow up back in October. But I didn’t really bother to watch the MV until recently. I love how it’s such a contrast to “This is Love” and it managed to use the same set and create an entirely different feel. The song itself is easily one of the best on 7Jibsus.
The crooning of the verses versus the build up of the chorus reminds me structurally to B1A4’s “Oh My God” from their Who Am I album, but “Evanesce” sounds much less high-school, and much more dramatic.
It also produced one of the most iconic moments in Super Junior history at their recent Super Show 6 concert. Fast forward to about 0:50 in the video.
Heechul continues to amaze me by his ability to not care and yet still be more fabulous than everybody else.
“Raining Spell For Love” is Super Junior’s turn at a 2013 genre-mix song, but it works much better than the rest of the SM offerings from last year. Even though the song sounds like it’s at least three songs mixed into one, it works well, and even though there’s an abrupt end to the song, is one of the stand out tracks on the album, especially as it only features the vocal line (Kyuhyun, Ryeowook, Donghae, Sungmin, Kangin) and Eunhyuk.
Donghae has been dabbling in composing for a while, and his song “Shirt” ended up of 7Jibsus. While it sounds like a song meant for the EunHae subunit, it was for the best that it came to Super Junior since Kyuhyun’s vocals carry the chorus. I really have no idea how to feel about the song overall, since it’s one of the weaker tracks on the CD, but it’s a fun and enjoyable track overall. It has a nice retro sound and if nothing else would have been a much more public-friendly single than “Flopacita” since the sound is trending on both sides of the Pacific right now.
This is the most embarrassing performance of this song. Please watch with care and try not to cry from laughter at Kyuhyun’s ‘Girl You’re Tasty’ line.
“Let’s Dance” actually reminds me of a leftover from Sexy Free & Single that’s been reworked to be more timely and to fit more in with 7Jibsus. That said, it still reminds me a lot structurally of “Butterfly”, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It has a 70s Motown influence, and the backbeat is the strongest point of the song.
It pains me to write this but “Too Many Beautiful Girls” reminds me of a Korean-One Direction song. It actually sounds very similar to that one big hit 1D had a couple years ago, as well as EXO’s “365” – so this is obviously another case of SM being lazy. Sadly, it’s also one of my favorite tracks on the album, despite Kyuhyun getting to sing literally 10 words, since it also has a 1950s “Grease” sound to it. Donghae’s schmoozing on it also contributes to why it works so well. Just like when B1A4 did “Hey Girl,” I’d love a cute Americana 1950s-inspired video to this song, but set at a drive in with T-Birds parked around and girls with pompadours.
“Mid-Season” has too much of Human Trash Yesung’s voice for my tastes; especially since with this album I was so looking forward to him not taking part since Kangin’s voice is more pleasant to listen to, and it’s been too long since we had an album with Heechul. It has a nice vibe to it, and is definitely more interesting than “Islands” – the one true ballad on the album. These are the two weakest tracks on the album, and thankfully they’re at the end, so you can tell by that alone that they’re throw-aways.
On the This is Love Repackage, we were treated to an extended mix of “This is Love” including the dance break, as well as three new songs.
“Hit Me Up” was good enough to be included on the initial release, but it’s nice that we were saved another gem for the re-release, similar to “A-Cha” and “Oops” from the Mr. Simple repackage. “Hit Me Up” has a sound that sounds like it belongs in a spy thriller, and is much less obnoxious than “SPY” as an ‘agent’ themed song. It’s much more subdued, and even sexy sounding.
“Don’t Leave Me” and “(…ing)” are both more ballad-like songs that I tend to avoid, with “Don’t Leave Me” being the more exciting of the two, since it has a more interesting composition and features members outside of KRY. As much as I love…Kyuhyun…KRY songs are generally my least favorite Super Junior songs. Instead of sticking leftover OST recordings on Super Junior CDs, it would be more beneficial for everybody involved to finally just give KRY their own album. If Kyuhyun can sell 56k copies of his solo, I’m sure KRY could move at least that, if not more.
My final thoughts are essentially as follows; I really like how each of the songs on the album essentially featured the whole group with only a couple outliers, unlike on Sexy Free and Single. I think as a whole this is definitely Super Junior’s strongest release since Sorry Sorry, and some songs are even better than many on Sorry Sorry. It’s overall the most collective album Super Junior has released, in that it can essentially be listened to from start to finish without skipping or feeling bored.
Super Junior shines the most when they stick to up-beat R&B tracks, and it’s nice that whoever was involved with the production of 7Jibsus realized that. Outside of Super Junior, 7Jibsus was one of the only albums this year that had B-Sides better than the title track.
It’s clear that the members had prepared for this album diligently throughout their 2 year hiatus, and it’s rare that a K-Pop group can go two years without releasing material and have it be successful. Super Junior managed to outsell every other group this year since they released this glorious CD in August, and they deserve every album sale, including my two purchased copies. The tracks flow together so perfectly and while there are outliers on the album in the sense of the tracks may not be as strong as others, they’re still good. Unlike most K-Pop groups who generally only have a good title track and then maybe one or two other decent songs on their mini album, Super Junior released a full album full of songs that are at least a 7/10.
It’s disturbing to me how the useless MAMA, the mostly useless Billboard, and even the supposedly prestigious GDA have refused to acknowledge this work of art in favor for a certain mediocre mini album that I won’t even name here.
It’s rare for an artist to put out a strong album period, let alone one that sells well, but Super Junior have easily released one of the best albums of the decade with Mamacita/This is Love Repackage.
Please support Super Junior and this glorious, mostly Yesung free, release by purchasing This is Love on iTunes.