Hey guys, do you like THE NINETIES?
Katie Gill: “Paradise” is one of two singles released by S.E.S. to help celebrate their twentieth anniversary as a girl group. And man, if you’re gonna release a comeback single, this is how to do it. “Paradise” is light and effortless, with a sense of fun permeating the whole song. The song’s definitely trying to play to a sense of nostalgia, especially with that new jack swing/Paula Abdul 1980s realness. But it’s a comeback single. Those tend to be a bit nostalgic by design. And, instead of hampering the song, the stylings combined with the light vocals and just overall fresh feeling of the track just push it further into greatness.
Alfred Soto: The chorus excepted, we could be listening to New Jack-ed pop circa 1990: lightly concussive, sung with precision.
Thomas Inskeep: Name me another girl group who’d sound this good 20 years after starting: oh wait, there isn’t one. This is smart, sexy pop music made by women who know what they’re doing, and in the extremely young woman’s world of K-pop, that means quite a bit. Musically this takes a page from the Wonder Girls book of uptempo, and I’m smiling all day long.
Edward Okulicz: Would have both fit in perfectly, and been a breath of fresh air at the same time, on the charts of 1991. So many listens later I still love how that extended pre-chorus leads into the rap break the second time, a delicious head fake. That makes this single feel middle-loaded, if you can say that about anything, but it glimmers throughout.
Ryo Miyauchi: From its keyboard glamor to its slinky swing, S.E.S. book one fun escape down the sunny side of nostalgia. That said, check back with me when summer gets closer because the season feels a little too distant right now to really buy into this crafted slice of pop optimism.
Adaora Ede: The 90s are back in K-pop….for at least the fifth time. Near-past period concepts are a to-go sound for idol groups, I mean, Wonder Girls have been grasping at decades like straws since 2008. It’s like a perpetual lomo filter — slapping on whatever era sounds good and calling it a homage when Brave Brothers quits answering your calls. In the battle of the SM groups whose names begin with the letter S and who also have 5 or 3 members, S.E.S’s anniversary track beats Shinee’s New Edition parody by a decent margin. Yeah, the drum machine is a ostentatious stumbling block (WE GET IT, THEY’RE FROM THE NINETIES), but the production builds naturally into synthpop that the rookies could never pull off. “Paradise” is much more deliberate in its execution- a fusion of new jill swing and some oldheads trying out this singing and dancing thing, endearing but not sloppy. There’s a whole lot of cleanliness under the jacked up reverb; it’s not the fact that S.E.S lived the time, but the work of heart fluttering power pop saving us all.
Madeleine Lee: S.E.S.’s prime years were in the ’90s, but rather than feeling like a plunge into nostalgia, the new jack swing style of “Paradise” feels refreshing. It fits right in with SM’s current musical direction, while maintaining a direct line back to “Just A Feeling” as a reminder of where that musical direction comes from.