Monday, April 2nd, 2018

Mamamoo – Starry Night

Mamamoo is back, and we’ve got a German DJ on our minds…


Crystal Leww: I, too, really enjoyed the Robin Schulz remix of “Waves” by Mr. Probz.

Katie Gill: Look, just ignore the fact that the post chorus dance break sounds weirdly like “Prayer in C,” this song’s a jam. The opening and ending guitar chords are amazingly mature and the song occasionally pulling back to highlight the vocals is a damn smart move. I’m not entirely sure about the whole vaguely tropical house feel, but, hey, the group makes it work.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: Several house producers have tried to recapture the magic created by that lead guitar loop in Robin Schulz’s remix of “Prayer In C” — itself an attempt to recapture the pop-house magic of early 00’s hits like Roger Sanchez’s “Another Chance” or Cicada’s remix of “Drown in Me” — but I think Mamamoo has actually pulled it off. That refrain sticks in your mind, and the entire instrumental takes you to a place of pure melancholy. I just wish there were more signature badass Mamamoo vocals to write about.  

Micha Cavaseno: Despite a lot of initial praise and recognition at the beginning of their career, Mamamoo’s career has been surprisingly lacking ever since. Despite having an air of giddiness to them, more and more their singles have been burdened with a sort of stodgy, professional musical theater soul style that is too strict and austere to slot them into the “café”-style calm of certain adult-oriented K-pop, and comes off sonically conservative and dull compared to the more dance-pop oriented acts. Curiously, the group’s response has been to take both their burden and their reliefs away from them and produce this sort of windswept, epic Robin Schulz-style tune that finally hones down the girls into less of a competitive environment but smothers every trace of their vocal charms to make sure the arid artificial landscape sweeps take full prominence. It’s a daring step that’s revitalized the group in theory, but it’s hard to imagine how this plays to any of their actual strengths.

Alfred Soto: As tame as it sounds on first listen, the rippling guitar figure and the prettiness of the vocals do evoke celestial sights, if not quite wonders.

Will Adams: There were cues in the first minute that promised something big for the chorus: slightly swung vocal melodies, dramatic drum fills, EDM build. What happened was that limp “Waves”-wave sound I thought we left in 2014.

Katherine St Asaph: Like a reverse pop timelapse, from “Waves” back through big EDM buildups, a tangent for some dubious rap, then ending around “Stereo Love,” maybe Sonique. It’d be better if it stayed there longer, but did you really expect consistency?

Joshua Minsoo Kim: While I still hold “Um Oh Ah Yeh” and “You’re The Best” in high regard, it’s safe to say that my excitement for Mamamoo peaked during their run of pre-debut tracks. “Starry Night” changes things: it’s the rare Mamamoo single that finds the group branching out into other sonic territories, fortuitously obscuring their weakest aspects (grating oversinging and shoehorned Moonbyul verses) in the process. Still, I’m not sure if this contemplative beach-themed lamentation by way of Robin Schulz feels like anything other than shameless trend-chasing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, to be sure, but there’s a sense that their individual identities have been lost in the process. Given the continued chart success of “Starry Night,” I’m mostly interested in this as an indication of the group’s willingness to experiment, and the promise of three additional mini albums this year makes me hopeful. Hilarious, though, that my favorite song from Yellow Flower is “Rude Boy“; the song brings to mind TROY’s “Green Light,” and the irony of me enjoying a song that finds a link to Mamamoo’s very first song is not lost on me.

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