Thursday, July 5th, 2018

The Wasabies – U-Gui

Can we handle the heat of this Mongolian girlband?


Jonathan Bogart: The Mongolian pop scene has historically been too small and underfunded to really attempt to imitate the lavish, dance-centric idol pop centered in Seoul (and, to a lesser or at least different extent, Tokyo), preferring instead to focus on individual performers even when the format is girl groups and boy bands. (90s boy band Camerton have their reunion videos released on breakout star Bold’s YouTube channel, for instance, and 2000s-defining girl group Kiwi are now less popular than their frontwoman Uka.) The Wasabies, formed on the Mongolian edition of Star Academy, make use of idol pop tropes, including occasional English, but are not the product of a training regimen from childhood; their management is Cowellian rather than Leeist. “U-Gui” (Without U) is their breakup song following their girl-power debut, and while it’s more “adult,” since it’s about romantic loss (and in the video, murder-suicide), it’s also necessarily less exciting. One thing Mongolian pop has long excelled at is presenting female singers as adult women with their own desires and priorities rather than as vacuous girls for listeners and viewers to imprint on in either an aspirational or acquisitive manner. The Wasabies project as a whole feels like a step back in that regard, but “U-Gui” is already, however slightly, a step forward within that step back.

Katherine St Asaph: Begins as Kandi Burruss pastiche, ends as Ryan Tedder pastiche.

Alfred Soto: This Mongolian act handles the switch from acoustic “No Scrubs” rue to the furnace blast of a chorus. The trouble is, it should have stayed in the first mode. 

Iain Mew: Tooled-up acoustic pop song meets dance thrust — with UK pop in mind the parts take me back a decade and two respectively. The smartly matched combination still makes for something new, helped by the drops playing effective back up and vocals at the forefront.

Will Adams: Culture has seemingly accelerated to speeds such that nostalgia cycles are now five years and not thirty, which is why “U-Gui” has the pop-rock-meets-blown-out-EDM formula of Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack.” The surprise is how it’s that much better an iteration of that sound.

Edward Okulicz: It’s impressive how this song commits to the slinky pop&b as perfected by Dallas Austin or Babyface, and then completely throws the subtlety out of the window for a massive, scenery-destroying whirlwind of EDM POWER, replete with with shouting and wailing and gnashing of teeth (probably). It’s also great to hear a girl group who have such distinct voices from each other too, though whoever speaks the English lines has an unconfident diction that undermines the song a bit. Overall the slink is better than the blow-out, but it’s never less than fun to hear mutated takes on the pop sounds of my youth.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: I appreciate how unique the different members’ voices are, and the decision to end the song on a low note is respectable, but there’s very little reason to be excited about a pop song that’s so terribly generic.

Jessica Doyle: I like it! Partly for being less directly inspired by K-pop than the Wasabies’ breakout single, “Girls’ Generation” (yes). While it’s true that many a Korean act has murdered the dude, that’s thankfully mere background here for the lovely solo repetitions of gui, gui, gui, gui, gui balanced by the dam-dam-DAM of the chorus. The members have some really interesting voices here and I’m glad they got some space to use them. If I have any complaints, it’s that the song’s too short — I wish that instead of using the last verse to wind things down, they’d been able to follow with one last super-dramatic, ad-lib-crazy chorus.

Reader average: [5] (2 votes)

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2 Responses to “The Wasabies – U-Gui”

  1. and if you liked this and would like more — whether “this” refers to current Mongolian pop or Bogart’s writing — this is your next stop.

  2. the follow up “Bestie” is quite nice