[Review] [Single] T-ara N4 – “Jeon Won Diary”

2013_tara N4

written by: MystifiedBulb
Artist/Single: T-ara N4 – “Jeon Won Diary”
Genre: Idol, Dance, Pop
Release Date: April 29, 2013

Another week, another sub-unit… This time, it’s T-ara‘s turn to claw back some shreds of dignity from the Hwayoung scandal (which is still not being laid to rest just yet) using their sub-unit consisting of Eunjung, Hyomin, Jiyeon and relative newcomer Areum. Their release “Jeon Won Diary” is certainly intriguing, but is it piquing the interest of consumers for the right reasons?

In a very tightly controlled industry, it’s unusual for an idol’s song to be relevant to their current situation, yet “Jeon Won Diary” is a rather interesting case. After the chaos caused by the aforementioned Hwayoung bullying scandal, the lyrical content of this song seems to be addressing the large army of haters (mainly online) who wish to find the T-ara members’ heads on sticks or worse. Although we have the typical ‘party and have innocent fun’ style lyrics, there are also rather indiscreet lines aimed at anti-fans; “Why you hating?” is repeated in English for the sake of international fans many-a-time at the end of the track. Although this is a bold and risky move, this shouldn’t overshadow the song. There would be no point releasing a statement like this if the song was terrible.

The track hovers between several genres. Obviously it is mainly EDM based, packed full of weird synths, big beats and processed vocals (as pretty much standard in all recent T-ara releases ignoring “Day By Day“) but it adds inflections of hip-hop elements. Or so it is claimed by the producer, Duble Sidekick. Upon further listening, there appear to be few noticeable hip-hop elements apart from rapping, which is chucked into every K-Pop release for good measure, regardless of genre. I’m perfectly fine with tracks not being hip-hop based (take a look at my most played list and you’ll see that there is a bit of a hip-hop void) but I’d rather my tracks be exactly what they claim to be.

In the same vein as my last complaint, it should be questioned why this trend of disjointedness in music is catching on with such ferocity. Contrary to popular opinion, I rather enjoyed Girls’ Generation’s “I Got A Boy” as it was fresh, exciting and boundary-pushing. Following this, we have had 4Minute’s slightly underwhelming “What’s Your Name?” but now, it feels like producers are taking the piss by shoving every single musical scrap possible into one track and keeping their fingers crossed in the hope that something vaguely catchy will emerge.

In ‘Jeon Won Diary’ there isn’t really a chorus, but more of a series of verses and repeated ideas strung together by a hyperactive beat. Some bits are great (note the crazily infectious “Ting ra-ding-ra-ding-ra-ding” section) but others are weak such as the sudden breakdown section which grinds the track to a jarring change of piece. This frequently shifting notion is interesting but not executed perfectly. Additionally, certain elements of the production are a bit tacky, such as the use of an accordion (which had already been carried off much better a few years ago by Edward Maya’sStereo Love“) and whatever the hell that saxophone synth atrocity is. Seriously, it’s like nails to a chalkboard.

Another major problem with the song is guest rapper Taewoon of Speed. Many questions need to be answered, the first being why is T-ara’s sub group using unnecessary guest rappers? They have already got a significant fanbase (hopefully) which will feast on the track anyway, so there’s no worrying about building this sub-unit’s reputation. Furthermore, T-ara’s three rappers are already in this sub-unit, why not use them? One has to seriously question the management decisions behind this track because I certainly can’t make any sense of them. Also, Taewoon’s rap seriously ruins the flow of the song. It really isn’t needed. End of conversation.

Moving away from harsh criticisms, there are some good points to the track. The girls sound decent (thanks to studio magic as they all sound suspiciously similar) and some of the hooks are ridiculously catchy. In the end, it does what any standard T-ara track sets off to do which is to lodge itself inside the listener’s brain. But it is great to see some K-pop stars taking risks – in this case, it’s T-ara members addressing their haters in a fierce, gutsy manner. And whilst all the gambles didn’t pay off, a step in the right direction is being taken.


Score: 2.5/5

Singles of any kind are not rated with the same rating system used for mini and full albums.

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