Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Seventeen ft. Ailee – Q&A

Y2K calling…


Alfred Soto: The piano and stuttered vocals recall late nineties Rodney Jerkins, but the fluency with which the vocalists slip from Korean to English is their own.

Will Adams: The opening piano figure brought to mind the breezy early-00s R&B template of producers like Cory Rooney or Irv Gotti. What followed was less beholden to nostalgia, with more modern elements — hi-hat skitters, vocal whoops, whistling — either lifting up or weighing down the track.

Cassy Gress: I hear Ja Rule and Ashanti all over this, or any of a hundred late ’90s duets, except instead of Ja’s gruff charm, we got LFO or something. The instrumentation is sweet and inoffensive, and Ailee’s voice is sweet too, and it’s so jarring when here come the Seventeen members loping in after her, dudebro-ing it up. I find that I have increasingly less and less patience for “yo brah we’re so dumb around girls amirite?” If this is the general path they’re aiming for, they’d do well to look at a group like Big Bang, who have swagger coming out their ears a lot of the time but have learned to balance it with a cheeky wink.

Thomas Inskeep: Endlessly charming, this sweet bonbon of a single comes across like if Britney and Justin had recorded a duet in 2000, at the heights of their TRL powers. The video takes it to further levels of cuteness, too. This ain’t challenging or remotely boundary-pushing — Seventeen are no BTS, at least not yet — but it’s a sweet sugarlump of a record.

Micha Cavaseno: There’s something to be said that in reducing the amount of members on a track, Seventeen are really able to function and offer some fun for the listener. A pop song as cute as “Q&A” shouldn’t feel like the Royal Rumble of “NAW GIRL PICK MEEEE” that “Mansae” turned out to be. But that being said, the best little moment of this record might be Ailee’s little “yoo-hoo”s on the chorus, a teasing carrot on the stick that makes the playfully competitive energy of Seventeen’s singles all the more apt. Every song becomes more and more of a chance for each of these dweebs to stand out and prove why we should care. Its almost like a mini-idol competition, which is bad news for the guys who aren’t showcased in “Q&A”‘s song/video, ’cause that was a spotlight they juuuust missed out on.

Brad Shoup: “Shining Diamond” — one of my favorite singles from last year — was direct, triumphant, and featured about a million boys. “Q&A” is knotty, obsessive, and makes use of only three. With Ailee it’s a four-person weave; everyone takes turns being coy, then pleading. “21 Questions” is referenced, but the vibe is “Still Not a Player” with Joe swapped out for Ashanti. Maybe it’s all the Scritti Politti I’ve been listening to, but I feel generous.

Jessica Doyle: WOMEN, with their QUESTIONS, amirite? I don’t know if the laziness Digipedi shows here (“and then we’ll have some broken television sets lying around.” “Why? “Because we always have broken television sets lying around!”) is due to being spread too thin or because the song — in which Ailee doesn’t sound like Ailee, and the men’s voices disappear under a film of plinky pianos and awkward transitions — never sounded like something worth spending much time on to begin with.

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