If the Brown Eyed Girls pride themselves in anything, it’s the deep influences that shape the foundation of their music. There’s just something special about the way they take pop music and turn it on its head. Go back two years and we have “Abracadabra,” where BEG took dance/electronica and pushed it a little farther than just a few bleeps and synth chords. By playing with extreme vocal processing and poppy-er arrangements, they embraced the style in its entirety, and in effect churned out one of the most memorable Kpop songs of the decade.
But “Abracadabra” isn’t the only song that reflects the varying facets of BEG. Other, more older tunes include “I Got Fooled By You” – which showcases the group’s soulful power – as well as one of my favorites, “Hold The Line,” that sees BEG in a soft and melodious number, highlighting another aspect that these ladies are known for: their vocals.
What we must remember is that Brown Eyed Girls are now more pop(ular) than they were a few years ago, and with that comes the task of overcoming the prickly idea of the gimmick. Before taking a leap into their latest material, it’s worth diving into Brown Eyed Girls’ repertoire, if only to note how they managed to embrace various genres in the past to how they achieve the same thing today as a leading girl group in Korean pop music.
The Brown Eyed Girls returned this month with ‘Sixth Sense,’ their first album as a group in two years. Last year, we witnessed members Narsha and Ga-in blossom as solo artists, each with their own mini albums: the mystical ‘Narsha‘ and tango-inspired ‘Step 2/4,’ respectively. ‘Sixth Sense,’ like any BEG collection, has its roots buried somewhere in the musical world.
Brown Eyed Girls’ latest album draws its inspiration from strong swing meters, vivid Sixties pop, and perhaps a dash of Latin flavoring for good measure.
Jazz has been a strong influence in the Korean underground scene recently, particularly among the hip-hop community, and to hear it make its way into Kpop is kind of exciting. In true Brown Eyed Girls fashion, these ladies have taken the strongest Jazz phrases they could find and intricately incorporated them into their music.The style of ‘Sixth Sense’ fits snug to the Brown Eyed Girls’ sound, while still coming across as out of the ordinary – something this group does exceptionally well.
One of many high points in this album is the lead single, “Sixth Sense.”
“Sixth Sense” MV: the frantic orchestration in this song reminds me of ‘Symphony No.7‘ by composer Dmitri Shostakovich. If BEG in fact reached to classical music for inspiration, I think I might die.
“Sixth Sense” tramples (in high heels) through the stagnant waters of Kpop by completely letting go of the bubblegum tones and composition that Kpop audiences are most familiar with. So much so, that this song comes across as an overwhelming wave of instruments and vocal prowess than listeners may be used to. Structurally, there’s an exceptionally high level of intricacy at play here, and the quality is carried throughout some of the other tracks on this album, such as “Vendetta,” which toys with a changing tempo, and the promo track “Hot Shot” that blends BEG’s sassy personae with a spicy Latin vibe.
But somewhere along the line, something funky happens. The strong leading styles overpower the middle section, and in an attempt to slow things down, this wall of sound suddenly caves in on itself. “La Bohème,” “An Ugly Truth,” and “Lovemotion,” although beautiful tracks, are no match to the overwhelming air of the rest of this album. As an advocate for strong congruency within a collection of songs, I would prefer these three be placed elsewhere – perhaps a separate album altogether – so the striking style of ‘Sixth Sense’ has the room to exploit its dynamics.
The takeaway from the Brown Eyed Girls and their music is inspiration and what a group can do with it to invigorate pop culture. They know how to take global genres and incorporate their flavors to fit to the group’s dynamics.
Additionally, the Brown Eyed Girls aren’t new on the scene, and neither are they new to experimenting with ways to reinvent their sound. But what’s special about BEG is the fact that they manage to do all of this experimentation without ever losing a trace of their musical identity.
What are your thoughts of Sixth Sense by Brown Eyed Girls?
Support the artist, buy the album: YesAsia