Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

4Minute – Volume Up

There are five of 4Minute, which isn’t confusing at all.


Iain Mew: Bludgeoning trance-pop and Midnight Sax compilation collide. There are no survivors.

Brad Shoup: Leading with alto sax is audacious, especially when it seems like the club-pop synths are going to demolish it. But no, it becomes a weird strength to vocally mirror, especially by GaYoon’s hold. Lest the song cry too much, HyunA sells the rebuke with stutter aplenty. I still feel like I’m getting a stealth ballad, and for once, the chorus does less for me.

Josh Langhoff: That sax really makes my skin crawl. For all those crowd noise people wandering over from Usher’s “OMG”, though, it might seem like a classy change of pace.

Alfred Soto: Ghastly in isolation, essential in context, the saxophone disappears too soon but returns for a cameo. The singer imitating a saxophone solo doesn’t count.

Frank Kogan: Recently paroled contraltos and mezzo-sopranos commandeer medieval castle. Unleash barrage of “oh oh oh oh ohs,” “ah ah ah ah ahs,” and “eh eh eh eh ehs” that defy government dicta on the separation of verse and chorus. Indigenous wind instruments, originally uneasy with goings on, are mollified when soprano imitates saxophone. Lighthearted action-adventure. Four-and-a-half stars.

Anthony Easton: I am fond of the mahahahahaahao sounds.

Katherine St Asaph: The particular clusterfuck of five vocalists scrabbling to take over lead. This can work elsewhere, but a track this busy calls for streamlining, for just picking one lead singer already. Preferably the one who sounds like Britney or the one with the aching belt; preferably not the one or four who sound anonymous; definitely not the sax sample, which is also scrabbling for lead.

Jonathan Bogart: I’m sure some European DJ somewhere has done trance mixes of Kenny G songs, but I doubt they got singers quite this precise or confident to put over the top of it.

Alex Ostroff: The “Careless Whisper”-ish saxophone is a promising start, and the left turn into ravey noises is surprisingly rewarding. Even if I tire of the bosh in North America, I normally associate K-pop with a sonic palette that leans either more bubblegum, more hip-hop or more electro than this. Bosh, as it turns out, suits 4Minute quite well, whether they’re exhibiting more gentle vocals or belting. The staccato bridge and harmonies in the vocal arrangements remind me of latter-day Danity Kane. (This is a very good thing.) And that saxophone keeps looping back, again and again, like an entire club night is being broadcast into a house party and the smooth jazz channel slightly further up the dial keeps interfering. But in a good way.

Sabina Tang: To this 80s baby, a “Careless Whisper”-style sax hook says “aspirational melancholic sophistication” like no other signifier before or since. Shinsadong Tiger, for my money the most consistent producer on the 2010s K-pop scene, constructs a real song over the truss of the Sunshine Inc. beat, layering girls and sounds like race engine parts. When his rebuild’s done, the sax no longer holds a tepid track from the remainder bin; it’s the lever that tips 4Minute’s high note into hands-in-the-air disco transcendence.

3 Responses to “4Minute – Volume Up”

  1. My first 10 this year! I don’t usually feel comfortable giving 10s on the Singles Jukebox schedule, but I’ve been listening to a CUBE compilation on repeat and now have a very good sense of my arc of appreciation for Shinsadong Tiger tracks.

  2. Seriously, one of the best things to happen in 2012 is that this Wikipedia page now exists.

  3. I must admit that the intro sax made me initially seem interested in this… and then the bulldozing effect of the chorus kind of lost me. The best way I could describe this song is that it has that start-stop effect. Best bits include that staccato bridge and that annoyingly cloying saxophone. In a way its kind of a regression for me for this group as it’s basically typical 4minute with a twist of sax. I kind of now figure why Sistar won the battle of releases on this one.