Thursday, October 10th, 2019

j-hope ft. Becky G – Chicken Noodle Soup

Not for the soul…


Kayla Beardslee: I was seven when the original song came out, so I didn’t know it existed until a few weeks ago. The OG “Chicken Noodle Soup” (what a phrase) doesn’t do much for me, and neither does this remake: the trilingual concept is promising, but the execution is nothing special. The production is rudimentary and, I suppose, flavorless, with metallic echoes that sound like debris being knocked over in an abandoned warehouse. Female artist Young B dominated most of the original, but Becky G just seems like a feature here — and so does j-hope, somehow. There’s no sense of the song being a duet, or of any kind of chemistry between them: the two sound like they’ve just been shoved together on a random track and are trying to make the best of it (which is probably at least partially true). The rapped and sung parts may as well exist in different universes, and the disjointed structure alters the importance of the two main hooks. “I let it rain / I clear it out” is the focus of the original “Chicken Noodle” lyrics, but it’s repeated way less in this version, to the point where including it as a second hook feels almost like an afterthought. It’s a shame, because “Let it rain” is a much smoother and better-sounding line than goddamn “Chicken noodle soup / With a soda on the side.” I just cannot take any song or dance seriously when its title screams “coupon for $2 off four cans.”

Katie Gill: Call me cynical, but the main feeling I got while watching this video is that 1: I hope the BTS bump gives Becky G enough push for her to pick better movies and 2: Webstar and Young B better be getting some serious residuals from this track. There’s a whooooole conversation to be had about how the pervasive racism and colorism of the Kpop industry awkwardly interacts with the genre co-opting the aesthetics of hip-hop, rap, and r&b music. This is not the song to enhance that conversation, even with J-Hope’s attempt at proving his cred and justifying his use of the song. This is more of what we’ve been seeing for the past few years, but with a throwback colored coat of paint. This is nothing new and nothing interesting.

Alfred Soto: I don’t know what’s happening here but I admire the changes. I can’t say the same about chicken soup: always healthy, never different, especially if you like carrots in it. 

Alex Clifton: Hobi has evidently wanted to rework the original “Chicken Noodle Soup” for a while, as it was important to him as he learnt to dance. So he updates it by giving it the viral dance routine treatment, pulling Becky G in, and going for broad appeal with an admittedly ambitious trilingual song. It’s about as appetizing as the titular food combination, though; so much is going on that none of it sticks. BTS already explored their roots in the superior “Ma City,” where Hobi injects actual emotion into his verse and comes across as proud of Gwangju. Here he plays it too cool; it’s a shame that he doesn’t have ad much fun rapping here as he does doing the bow-legged chicken dance. I’ve only been able to get through the song while watching the video, which I suspect is part of the reason why it has blown up. But without the visuals, “Chicken Noodle Soup” comes across as a dopey novelty song.

Will Adams: I wasn’t a fan of Webstar and Young B’s original when it came out in 2006 (still shedding my rockist sensibilities, mainly); thankfully today I can appreciate how it managed to do so much with so little. Which is why turning it into this overblown, overbaked casserole of corporate-approved pop feels not only pointless, but kinda painful to listen to.

Andy Hutchins: If you can put aside that this is gentrification of a song so Harlem that it mentions the second-most famous basketball court in the neighborhood, this isn’t bad: The spiky guitar riff that strongly recalls N*E*R*D’s “Lapdance” gives this “Chicken Noodle Soup” a spine, j-hope is entirely in pocket on the flow, and Becky is slick as ever in both English and Spanish, despite being undermined by a “Here’s the woman’s turn!” flourish in the production. But that gentrification — even if done by two people I can believe sincerely love hip-hop generally and “Chicken Noodle Soup” specifically, even if one of them was smart enough to do a passable semi-Harlem Shake in the video — is hard to set aside, especially because that’s where the soder is.

Kylo Nocom: Lives and breathes in the same cultural ideas that held America’s Best Dance Crew so close to 2000s diaspora existence, with all of the irritating implications it holds when it comes to how Asians indulge in hip hop culture. I know damn well that street is not his Harlem, and the idea of recreating this song as some sort of cultural celebration feels crass and condescending. Musically? It’s fine: the intro is exciting, j-hope occasionally lapses into a reasonably slick flow, Becky G somehow outshines him by virtue of being consistently exciting, the outro is ugly and loud in the way it’s meant to be. But in the end, it’s just a novelty single, with the facade of representing rather hollow values. Nobody should want to go back to the SWAG = Something We Asians Got era.

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One Response to “j-hope ft. Becky G – Chicken Noodle Soup”

  1. “The spiky guitar riff that strongly recalls N*E*R*D’s ‘Lapdance’“

    THIS is what i was thinking of thank you