K-POP / KOREAN CULTURE / MUSIC VIDEOS / REVIEWS

[Review] ‘Step Up’ EP by Miss A

Miss A was never on my radar when they debuted because I couldn’t find anything overwhelmingly interesting about them. One thing I did jot down on my notes, though, was that they had some singing talent. Nothing fascinating of course, but still enough to notice it. It’s largely in part to the production of their music, which I’m a fan of because it’s very clean compared to the rest of the girl groups in Kpop and it allowed their voices to be registered in a nice and crisp fashion.

Now, Miss A is back with a brand new EP titled ‘Step Up’ and a sound that definitely caught my attention this time.

popreviewsnow describes it as ‘funky‘, and I have to agree. It is funky and a little playful. They came off completely lifeless to me before, lacking passion and personality in their singing.  They were ‘eye-candy’ and really nothing more than that.

However, this EP is working more for me than I had anticipated. Not only is it much more lively, but it’s (simply) really good pop music.  If not the actual songs, at least the production of them.  It’s melodic, freaky, and becomes overly sticky after a few replays. The EP is cohesive and although it sounds like it’s trying to enter the world of reggae music, it really isn’t.  It’s just fruity pop a la – Korean production.

Miss A haven’t broken down walls nor bridged the gap between music genres or anything here.  They’re just coming into their own (maybe), showing they have vocal ability with the average ballad on this EP and setting themselves apart from other Kpop girl groups with the unconventional cray-cray single ‘Breathe‘.

I suppose you can say I’ve been converted. I’m not praising them yet because I’m really not all that crazy about this EP, but they’ve entertained me enough to make me smile. And I managed to listen to most of their EP without skipping tracks, at least the first time. It’s the power of pop music at work, guys. And when it’s done relatively well, it’s absolutely amusing.  Not amazing. Amusing.

But more than anything, this EP sounds 100% Korean.  Not 80% or 60% – it’s very much Korean and the kind of Koren pop music I’d expect to hear if someone played this for me for the first time.

Did I mention how freaky ‘Breathe’ is? I don’t love it at all and it’s border-line annoying, but for now it’s really making me laugh.

Definitely an acquired taste. Thoughts?

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16 thoughts on “[Review] ‘Step Up’ EP by Miss A

  1. I think we both know that my opinion is the exact opposite of yours. xD

    Although I did like the last ballad track on the EP. The rest of it was just… failed reggae/punk/whatever JYP tried to dabble in. Mehhhhh.

    • The only reason why I’m accepting this weird direction they’ve gone in is exactly that. It’s weird and all over the place. I’m looking for a well rounded pop group of high quality in them and they’re slowly getting there. The WG suck, so this is all I have to work with. I don’t know what you hear in ‘Good Girl Bad Girl’, but that song is vacant. The instrumental is great, but these girls brought absolutely nothing extraordinary to it.

      I should edit this review to make it clear that what I like about this EP (and JYP as a company) is the production value of it. It’s squeaky clean, and works in the girl’s favor by making their voices more detectable.

      I’m not feeling ‘Step Up’ or that last uptempo song, though. And as for the ballad, I would like it more if it didn’t have that annoying string section. I don’t hear a proper connection between the strings and the rest of the song.

      But I’m just picky about strings and orchestration like that. :P

  2. I had only one word for this song after listening to it, watching the MV, listening to it on the MV, and listening to the song again. and that word was UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

    it almost sounds like JYP took a song that was rejected from WG’s The Wonder Years album, and served it up to miss A with a super tacky music video three years after the fact. I mean, I have nothing against the similar-sounding 이바보 by the WG, but like….this just tries way too hard to align itself with the “fun JYP” genre that JYP just….isn’t that great in. he produces sass well, and sells sass well (e.g. “good girl bad girl”, and heck, “so hot” even if I didn’t like it a whole lot). but it was just waaaaaaay too bippity boppity happy dappy for me.

    the choreography just tried way too hard to ~show their talents~. it’s kind of like how JYP over acrobaticized 2PM’s “10 points out of 10”. I mean, sure a couple of tricks here and there would’ve been all right, but it was just way too much. a well-executed choreography trumps “look what we’re capable of!!!” any day, in my book. I mean, that’s why jabbawockeez beat out status quo. by a landslide.

    but back to the music, I did legitimately give it a chance. I listened to it in its entirety several times, holding out hope that it would deviate somewhat away from the saccharine boppiness that permeated the track, but it was simply not to be.

    • The Wonder Girls came to mind for me as well. I hear their sound all over this EP. These girls have enough talent to do their own thing and do it well, but I just don’t need JYP inserting another WG in my wonderful world of Korean pop music.

      For me, it was just enough bippity boppity happy dapp-ery to prove that JYP at least has someone who can produce a ridiculous song like this if he ever requested one.

      Again, I’m in it for the production value of it.

      Being under JYP, they were going to go through this phase anyway, so might as well get it out of the way. They already hit milestone a la – snorefest with EP numero uno.

      And I’m with you on the choreo. I’m not sure what they were thinking and I’m kind of hoping one of them falls over on their live stage just to complete the LOLz I’ve had watching this mv.

      :)

    • Haven’t seen you much over on ningin – or am I blind? Then again, I hardly sift through comments.

      You’re so one of those ‘positive power of negative thinking’ kind of person…which is me every other day.

      :D

      • oh, school happened.

        that, and I haven’t been able to come up with witticisms lately…mostly cause there’s been a lot of boyband content, which I really couldn’t care less about.

      • Also, the sifting through “thanks for sharing” comments is very, very tiring… Although I’ll admit its better than sifting through KPOP fan-war comments that think they make a clever point by using capital letters, “lol”s, skewed logic, and words that they looked up five seconds before in a thesaurus.

  3. After giving it a second listen, I realized this group is driving in a pretty good direction.
    Their musical style is pretty consistent, which is a good thing. It feels like they almost already found their sound. But that doesn’t make the EP good by any means.
    As for the title track, you need to be listening to it in the right mindset. It was crazy, yes, but a structured crazy that had a firm foundation you could trust in. It didn’t emit a cookie-cutter factory pop sound, which is what kpop has REALLY needed a taste of recently. As for the other tracks… they just didn’t take themselves seriously. No, they weren’t rolling-on-the-floor bad, but it just sounded like they had no ambition to progress. It was half-effort material, and left a bitter taste in my mouth.
    But EP’s suck. Albums need to be novels; EP’s are just the text on the back of the book. They don’t have enough substance to prove themselves or to be compelling.
    But Miss A presented it in the best way possible, and managed to make it 30 percent more listenable than it would have been if it were handed over to KARA.

    Should I be anticipating a “Copy & Paste” review? Or a B2st review to see if you were converted or not :)???

    • I’m curious as to what you mean by “the right mindset” – should we not be listening to the song to pick out quality bits like a connoisseur, but rather, check our brains at the door to be bombarded with audio stimuli coming from this 3 minute long happy dappy drivel?

      I mean, yeah, it is a bit elitist to always demand music to be a certain way to cater to one’s own interests, but at the same time, I don’t think the mindset should resort to bowing down to the lowest denominator just because it sells. but conceding the point, you did admittedly note that while miss A’s sound has direction, it doesn’t mean it’s good, even if koreans think it’s gold.

      • I guess I lacked a good explanation… I’m trying to say that you need to pass over the obvious over-the-top too-sticky-bubblegum-pop sound and appreciate it from a structural and musical standpoint. Look at the nutrition facts because this fatty processed appearing crap could actually have a couple good ingredients.
        And about them finding their sound, just be thankful they weren’t throwing darts in the dark,,, because this circus act could have been a LOT worse.

  4. finally have internet! i’ve been meaning to weigh in on this.

    To keep it brief: This song could have been on Rihanna’s latest album, video included. However, it’s clearly in the middle of the pop-reggae divide, and for me that makes it hard to categorize it in my brain as one or the other. I like dancing to it, but it deprives me of the beat that I want to hear in an Afro-Caribbean dance jam. It feels like JYP pushed the song, video and choreo as far as he could towards reggae, but stopped just short enough that he didn’t get in to deep. So I’ve been vacillating between applauding him for his courage, or lamenting the fact that he chickened out. I mean, this could have been the new “China Wine”! (Google it – it’ll make your day, I promise [lol]). It ends up being just “funky” or “cray-cray” and not really reggae (or African pop) as some people have described it, and that’s kind of a let down for me.

    I think compliant’s point on the choreography is interesting, because both Miss A and 2PM (at least, at the beginning) were marketed as “dance groups”, and thus at some point had to have them do some insane dance steps to prove this point. (Obviously not necessary, as Infinite proved so well earlier this year, but still.) Had he gone all the way with the reggae thing, the choreo probably would have come out better, but for now, it shows us that they could hold their own on a Jamaican dancefloor if they wanted to. Point made, I guess – though JYP cold definitely hire some better choreographers.

    Lastly, in terms of girl group dancing, Miss A’s way ahead of the curve, so I suspect the live performance will only increase the love for this song despite the crazy choreo. I can’t think of any girl group (as a whole) who could take them, really. Which reminds me… *Off to watch Star Dance Battle 2010*

      • if by After School you mean Kahi, Bekah, and possibly Jung-Ah -sure. After School has eight (soon to be nine) members, but only a few of them can really dance in my opinion. Granted, Kahi alone would blow Miss A out of the water, but when you’re a group, those weak links become a disadvantage.

        I miss After School, though. Can we have a single soon, please?

      • if by “only a few of them can really dance”, you meant “only a few of them can actually do something worthwhile”, then obviously that goes without saying. but yeah, I’d have to agree on the strength of the “100% strong” modus operandi vs. having one or two beacons of light à la AS and, of course, SNSD, youtube’s favourite whipping boy…er, girl.

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