Friday, September 28th, 2012

Orange Caramel – Lipstick

Best sports-themed music video since Green Day’s “Nice Guys Finish Last”?


Iain Mew: Orange Caramel are an offshoot of After School, who gave me my first taste of K-Pop on the Jukebox in 2010. They’re apparently intended as a sweeter and more light-hearted alternative. That seems to show through the neon table tennis video more than the song, which comes on pretty hard. The saxophone sets a new standard for obnoxious sax earworms, but it works out much better than 4Minute because the song is built around it and because “ah ma ah ma” and the Casino Night Zone synths are such great hooks.

Patrick St. Michel: Orange Caramel’s first full-length album touches on musical styles from all over the globe, ranging from 1990’s J-Pop to Stereolab. Crucially, it never settles on imitation — this After School sub-unit finds ways to twist each influence into something all their own.  “Lipstick” is a good example, even if it isn’t the best song in the Orange Caramel song catalog. The driving sounds of the song are straight from the “Mr. Saxobeat” school of European pop. It’s the small details, though, that make this good, such as how those squiggly synths sneak in after the chorus or how the primary horn loop changes at various points throughout the track. “Lipstick” definitely takes moves from foreign sources, but focusing on that leads to missing out on all the little touches that make this distinctly Orange Caramel.

Jonathan Bradley: I was worried I was overrating a fairly run-of-the-mill Korean take on Eurohouse because of a great video until I started playing it with the vision off. It holds up: as if “Mr. Saxobeat” had girl group pop heft behind its chorus. 

Brad Shoup: It takes more will than I possess to get past “There’s a Place in France.” It’s OK Europop: bite-sized synth hook, coy delivery, garish video color palette.

Will Adams: Even with the saxophone, “Lipstick” is less Alexandra Stan and more Inna, what with the thin voices being supported by an even thinner Eurobeat. Its only claim to memorability is the pilfered melody from “The Streets of Cairo.” Otherwise, this is classically disposable.

Frank Kogan: If you think of this as food, it’s a nice melding of a delicate meringue and a pie fight. It’s got happy feet, too (the song, that is; not the pie): a fast trot with little offbeats that no speak americano.

Jonathan Bogart: I’m fascinated by the production details, the way the insistent breakbeat gives texture to what is a very samey oompah of a song. (At least until the slowed-down bridge.) The little flourishes of drums, guitar, or Casio approximations at the ends of phrases help, but I can’t shake the (inaccurate and unhelpful) metaphor of empty calories. 

Alfred Soto: A dense production does justice to the coquettish vocals.

Anthony Easton: The last 10 seconds or so of this is fascinating — sort of like a calliope, and so intended for mechanical reproductions of dancing, as opposed to dancing itself. Stripped of the vocals, this seems to be a metonymy for how pop and dance have worked recently. 

One Response to “Orange Caramel – Lipstick”

  1. Well, as a much bigger fan of Inna than Alexandra Stan…