After 1 year and 7 months of silent hiatus, Rainbow is finally back with new single “Tell Me Tell Me.” Frankly said, Rainbow’s current position as a K-pop act is very discouraging and pitiable. Despite debuting in 2009 — the same year fellow girl groups 2NE1, T-ara, and After School debuted — Rainbow still has no major successes on their resume unlike their more popular peers, leaving the group stuck on the lower end of the K-pop spectrum.
It’s a bit unknown as to why Rainbow has continually failed to click with the common public; the group has the looks, talent, and discography that, on paper, would lead to at least a decent amount of success. While their vocals aren’t the best in the industry, the group still possesses some notable vocalists and can carry out some pretty impressive live performances, with none of the members being blatant black holes. In this aspect, Rainbow is arguably a bit better than some of their more successful competitors who are more prone to suffer an imbalance in talent.
Moreover, the girls are all pretty gorgeous with likable, sympathetic personalities to match, and while they lack a bit of star power, the group members are far from nondescript. It’s just a shame that preceding the release of their new single, most of the minimal attention Rainbow has been getting has been only out of pity, whether it be Seungah‘s pitiable time in The Romantic and the Idol or Woori‘s evident frustration over her group’s lack of activity. Lastly, the group’s music is fairly strong as well. While they didn’t have the most glorifying start with the mediocre “Gossip Girl,” the group’s releases henceforth have been very strong, arguably even stronger than some of their peers. “A,” “Mach,” “To Me,” and “Sweet Dream” are all solid, strong singles, with the former two courtesy of Sweetune, the signature composer of Rainbow’s labelmate Kara.
Regardless, despite their seemingly ample qualifications, Rainbow still suffers as one of K-pop’s less gratified groups. Part of the reason for Rainbow’s minimal success can be blamed to their company DSP Media, who not only neglected the group by leaving them with no major promotions for a exceedingly outrageous period of time, but DSP also made the glaring choice of sending Rainbow to Japan before they could even establish a solid fanbase in Korea. This decision left major consequences for the group, consequences they suffer from even today.
Nevertheless, Rainbow’s trying their luck once again with new single “Tell Me Tell Me.” Claiming to bring a new change of pace for Rainbow, the song attempts to revamp’s Rainbow’s image to a cuter, more chart-friendly one in an attempt to boost their popularity. Their move can be compared to Secret, who memorably temporarily switched to a cuter image with release “Shy Boy” to gain more fans. However, as a comeback, “Tell Me Tell Me” unfortunately nondescript and plain, being ultimately forgettable, a clear shame considering Rainbow’s long hiatus.
As Sophie described in her album review, as a song “Tell Me Tell Me” ultimately came across as bland and dull. Admittedly, the song had its redeeming moments. The electronic string section at the beginning added a colorful flair the song desperately needed, and vocalists Hyunyoung and Seungah were clearly able to shine, being accustomed in their comfort zone. But while little details helped spice up the song, as a whole, “Tell Me Tell Me” makes for a forgettable listen. While some members were able to shine more than others, collectively, the group’s execution was only mediocre, lacking the energy and ferocity that they embodied with their sassier tracks. Additionally, the song doesn’t seem to go anywhere either. Its hook wasn’t as catchy as the group’s previous releases, being weak and forgettable, and the song makes too of an little impact to leave any lasting impressions.
Thankfully, the song’s accompanying video offers a bit more creativity, yet it is still bogged down by the uninspired sound of the song it tries to work with. The light and airy song calls for a cute and simple video, and the music video for “Tell Me Tell Me” delivers just that. The video is heavy on the aegyo and pastels, complete with quirky props and exaggerated facial expressions. The video’s drawn and flat town background was definitely a creative highlight for the video, quickly establishing a very childish and cute yet whimsical feel for the video, with the girls enjoyably playing the role of the town’s residents. Simplicity and clarity was what Rainbow was going for with this video, and for the most part they succeeded in portraying that aesthetic.
However, there are nonetheless flaws in the video’s otherwise innocuous ambiance. First of all, while the group mostly succeeded in using a simple palette for their benefit, a little more visual uniformity would have been appreciated. The majority of the video’s visuals were either pastel soft colored, yet some props and clothing were a bit too bold-colored, throwing the balance off somewhat. Moreover, the girls suffered from questionable styling. Some choices worked: the jeans and white shirt combo, while severely unoriginal, remains ultimately timeless, and the simple pastel dresses matched the ambiance of the environment. However, certain other choices clashed with the highly selective backdrop. Other than the bold colors, certain articles of clothing had prints that, again, disrupted the visual uniformity. And let’s not even mention the girls’ unbelievably tragic hair.
Ultimately, Rainbow’s “Tell Me Tell Me” and its accompanying music video follows the exact formula that’s led to successes of other groups preceding Rainbow; its choreography is simple and butt-centric, its plot cute and endearing, and its aesthetics whimsical and trendy. And in executing this formula, Rainbow performs exceedingly well. However, in following this preconceived formula to success, Rainbow ended up with a highly unoriginal and insubstantial track, lacking the signature punch or spunk of their other releases. There’s nothing at all in this song or video that specifies Rainbow in particular; any other group ranging from rookie group Hello Venus to even Rainbow’s senior Kara could have just as easily released the song and called it their own.
Conclusively, for trying to make the best of such an overused and uninspired concept, I give Rainbow’s “Tell Me Tell Me” a 2.4/5. The second comeback is already supposedly in the works, being confirmed for later this year. I hope Rainbow will release something more reminiscent of their older sound, since the group honestly works better with a more mature and sassier image. Nonetheless, what are your thoughts, readers? Did you enjoy Rainbow’s “Tell Me Tell Me?” Feel free to comment below!