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[Album Review] Super Junior’s Bonamana is arguably one of my biggest disappointments this year

Yes, that’s Siwon contemplating whether or not to bitch-slap the people who put his latest album together.  Trust me man, if you and I are on the same page, it will be crystal clear by the end of this review.

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SM Entertainment released Super Junior‘s 4th studio album today (13th in Korea) titled “Bonamana“.  With a title like that to begin with, I was pretty curious to hear what SuJu had in store this year.  The minute the title track (Bonamana) was revealed, I was quite pumped about this record, no lie!  ‘Bonamana’ is by far the most infectious song of 2010.  Although there are plenty of listeners out there who feel that this song is too ‘Sorry, Sorry‘ and not enough of an evolution from before, I personally agree that it is in fact not that different from last year’s hit, but I also believe SuJu took the sounds and style they felt comfortable calling their own and focused on identifying with it. ‘Bonamana’ is the result of that revelation.  There are these things called genres and have you paid attention to how similar a lot of what falls under these specific genres sound like?  ‘Sorry, Sorry’ and ‘Bonamana’ could be considered blood relatives in the music world. All of 2NE1’s music, for example, sounds relatively similar because they’ve zeroed in on a specific style and haven’t veered away from it. Nothing wrong with that. ‘Bonamana’ is, in essence, a perfect pop song.  It’s up-beat, quick, has style and it’s memorable.  It’s a definite hit.

‘Bonamana’ is followed by ‘Boom Boom‘.  Given the name, you’d think this would be even more explosive than the prior song, but that’s not the case. Boom Boom‘s instrumental reminds me of something you’d play at a boxing match.  Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeet’s get ready to rummmble, right?  I don’t hate this song, but it’s less inspiring than the title track.  It lacks creativity and it’s too average, especially now that Super Junior is looked upon as this boyband of epic proportions.  Coagulation‘, the next song on the album, hits the brakes completely.  It’s a ballad with nothing but a piano playing for about 2/3 of the song.  In my opinion, that’s quite a risky move for 2 reasons: 1.) the singer’s pipes have to be sustainable and impressively grand, or else it will end up a complete snore-fest, and 2.) if, say, the piano isn’t consistent and interesting enough and has too many rests between measures, it will end up FOR SURE a complete snore-fest.  Well, Super Junior managed to successfully accomplish both my fears with this song.  Coagulation‘s only interesting factor is its weird title.  The rest is forgettable and fucking drowsy.

The album picks back up after a dry spell with ‘My Only Girl‘.  This is a mid tempo song with relatively less layers of processing.  It has a really nice beat and the chorus, although very repetitive, is seasoned nicely with a catchy melody.  It’s one of those songs I’d like to play in my car.  Along with ‘Shake It Up!‘.  By this time in the album, my expectations of an even better track than Bonamana have flown out of the window.  ‘Shake It Up!’ isn’t a sound that I haven’t heard before.  It’s not progressive music at all, but in the context of this album, it’s good enough to give it a few listens.  I don’t hate it, but like ‘Coagulation’, it’s a a forgettable track and it’s obviously a filler.  If you’re not paying attention, you’ll reach the end of this song without knowing it.

In My Dream is a ballad that does a better job of keeping me awake and listening.  It has a pleasant aura about it and the instrumentation compliments the group’s vocals much more nicely than some of the other ballads on this record.  But I’m going to have to pull out my Bitch-fit Pass right now.  As much as I enjoy listening to Kyuhyun sing, I’ve had enough ballads for my taste so far in this ELEVEN track album.  And not that I have a problem with ballads, but the ones here are terribly generic and bland and way too plain to enjoy.  ‘In My Dream’ may sound kind of pretty, but it’s no excuse to deprive it of creative elements.  SME is using the same formula in their ballads over and over again from one artist to another and it’s going no where.  We’re in the year 2010, yet these songs are a pile of recycled, senseless material…

From one ballad, we’re drowned even longer with another one.  If I was listening to One Fine Spring Day (Ryeowook solo) without having had already listened to the rest of this album, I’d be quite pleased.  I think this is the closest to nailing it as Super Junior got in the Ballad Department.  As soon as Ryeowook hit his first line, I was relieved.  The delicate piano and his subtle voice are well pieced together.  This song is elegant and it doesn’t wear as quickly as the rest of the ballads on this album.

Good Person‘  (along with ‘Here We Go) is an acquired taste.  It’s cutesy and average.  It has no real climax and I’ll forget it by the end of this review.  ‘Here We Go’ actually puts up a fight for the title of cuter song, but it ties with ‘Good Person’ as equally forgettable.  It’s a confusing track, to be completely honest, because from the concept in their cover and the Bonamana MV, I’d figured that Super Junior wanted to achieve a much higher sex appeal and maturity.  This isn’t exactly sexy in my opinion.

This entire album lacks sexiness.  But whether that’s what they were going for or not, the bottom line is that Bonamana is a disappointing album.  With the title track included, this isn’t cohesive or impressive enough to fully gush over Super Junior.  They have talent, and they might have won me over with Bonamana as their title track, but after listening to this album in its entirety, I can’t help but be glad that I didn’t pre-order it.  It’s average, uninspiring and bland.  I’ll give it a generous 2 and a half Sandara Heads out of 5.

But having said all this, I’m still a huge fan of Bonamana and I am looking forward to their live stage this week.

ps. I left out some songs because, let’s face it, I’d start sounding pretty redundant had I included them.

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9 thoughts on “[Album Review] Super Junior’s Bonamana is arguably one of my biggest disappointments this year

  1. About that point you made with SuJu looking to stay with a style that “works” for them, I personally don’t think they’re doing that. All they did with the lead single was take the qualities of ‘Sorry Sorry’, modify the melody and slap it on a new instrumental. When you’re looking to go with a distinct sound, you don’t directly copy what worked the last time, you grow. You change, but you keep a distinct sound – new song, maybe even new look, but similar sound. That’s the mark of a true musician because you know who you are and it doesn’t matter what kind of songs you put out, the growth comes effortlessly. But that’s just my opinion. :)

    On everything else, I agree.

    • I kind of have to agree. I sometimes lose myself in the idea that these k-pop idols are making their own music, but that isn’t the case. They’re providing voices and a face, while producers are manufacturing the rest.
      ‘Sorry Sorry’ and ‘Bonamana’ sound the same, so it’s easy for me to drop them in the same category. But the group itself has no identity, at least not to me and that’s where I have a problem with them.
      I would personally like them to keep the Sorry-Bonamana-Sorry style and genuinely work with it and really grow with that sound because it’s a style I’d be comfortable listening to from Super Junior.

      Thanks for commenting, nikki. I’ll show PRN some love when I have the time!

      • And that is why I’m against most of what the pop music industry stands for. Everyone thinks that pop stars are incapable of making their own music because they’re “just” faces and to a certain extent it’s true, but it’s not that they can’t do it because some of them can, it’s that they’re not allowed to. I’ve seen firsthand what being able to make music does to a band and I’ve seen how it can turn people from amateurs to actual professionals and later legends, but in the pop industry. It CAN be done, it’s just that labels are run by the most stupid, mindless and cheap people who think that consumers don’t notice when they put out something that’s crap.

        That’s also why I say that the most difficult part of an artist’s career is making and releasing a sophomore album – it shows who he/she really is. But SuJu are at their 4th so my point is basically invalid.

        Nah, I like that I’m not alone in actually thinking about kpop – I though I was the only one! Will link you on PRN. :)

  2. oh Super Junior. They give me great tracks like “Sorry Sorry (Answer)” and “Why I Like You” then let me down with everything else they put out. I wouldn’t consider getting even ONE track off that album besides Bonamana. The pop industry frustrates me to no end. off to find better music somewhere…

    • I haven’t even touched any of these songs since I reviewed them. The kind of music on this album is irrelevant to this day in age. The pop industry in its entirety, I believe, is becoming more and more irrelevant. There’s no ounce of substance anywhere.
      And I’m probably referring to pop as in pop-ular, not pop as in, well, pop the genre. There’s a distinction there somewhere. . .

  3. Oh man the Siwon pic and caption is hilarious! Generic and bland really do sum this album up. But whatever… still being sold by the boat load. Idol power is not to be joked with.

  4. Well I kinda like “Here We Go” the most. It sounds like that cheerful superjunior05 and makes me feel nostalgic. ^^ And I must agree with you, I don’t really feel any “sexiness” in this album. If you count “Boom Boom” choreography… well, it’s sexy, but not that sexy. Also their silly but cute attitude when they’re promoting their album makes them less sexy. Face it. They are fun, energetic, cute, etc, no darkness included. Why don’t they keep that concept. Arashi has successfully maintain their popularity with their cuteness through this ten years… x3

  5. i absolutely agree with your review..
    for me i’ll only remember the song bonamana from the album..
    & i haven’t pre-order it too after listening to the tracks online..

  6. actually i kinda liked most of the songs on this album..except for coagulation and a short journey.
    but maybe it’s because i just got into super junior (VERY recently, like it’s only been two months), and i’ve been listening to all their songs, so i’ve been getting a very balanced super junior playlist at the moment haha
    but i guess if you’ve been following super junior for awhile, you’d be pretty disappointed…..?

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