Out with the hardcore cosmic scenes and sounds of “Secret” and “I Wish” and in with the catchiest and poppiest song of the summer, Cosmic Girls’ “Happy.” The song itself is a delectable and delicious pop song. It comes from the same family as Twice’s formula, but put in hyper drive and blasted through a cloud of pixie stick dust.
The song sounds like the caffeinated version of “Cheer Up” or I.O.I’s “Very Very Very,” another beat-driven pop song. The sound isn’t completely new in a K-pop sense, but the fact that WJSN never takes a break is what makes their take on mainstream pop a unique and fresh hit. The song features acid synth counter melodies, aggressive ascending scales, and escalating percussion sounds. Combine all of this with a chorus that drops a hook that could land a whale – it’s a certified summer bop.
Where the song differs from other catchy releases is that the lyrics dive into a realistic realm of self-esteem and weight struggles of young adults. The song is seemingly about overcoming terrible self-esteem for or through a loved one.
My friends are pretty, right?
Saying they’re awesome makes me happy
I eat a lot so my thigh is thicker
Wherever I go, I lack confidence
Sigh, what should I do? Yesterday
My favorite clothes was too small for me
The idols are praised for their size and for their perceived personality and little for their emotions. The lyrics allude to some of the struggles idols face with size. The idolized boy might actually be the fans they have to impress. The people they don’t eat for and lack confidence in front of. This is alluded to in the lyrics, but there is a happy conclusion in the chorus of the song. The second half of the chorus preaches:
Happy was only a foreign language to me
I thought it was an irrelevant word to me
But (Happy, happy, happy)
People say I changed a lot
The video encapsulates the feeling of happiness through its 13 members decorating the colorful landscape of their dodgeball practices and game. For someone with no grasp on the Korean language, the melodies and visuals match up perfectly and are stuck in a high-speed chase through each verse climaxing with a seeming perfect musical harmony between the melody and Yoo Yeonjung. The video is appropriately set to the accelerated pace and tempo of the song.
The video itself follows the women as they warm-up for a dodgeball match in a doll house. The girls are captured in exercise and cheerleading outfits in the locker room, the gym, and the boardroom. All in anticipation of winning the Happy Moment dodgeball match. Unfortunately, there’s a little mix-up after Luda must be saved by nurse Exy and a defibrillator. Next, the group takes off into an action-packed dodgeball matchup between Team Happy and Team Moment that ultimately concludes with Lee Luda being destroyed by a ball flying so fast it has a rainbow trail.
With a fresh musical and visual direction from WJSN, some fans might be disappointed by the change of conceptual direction. While a little different, there is still so much for a Cosmic Girls fan to love. The usual purples and pinks of the WJSN universe appear in the sky during the dodgeball game. The technology matches “I Wish,” such as the computer cursors appearing around objects in motion. On top of this, the video is enjoyable to watch and the scenes are artfully crafted to maximize the visual concept. In the Cosmic Girls’ development, it’s a step towards a new direction, but it’s a generic concept commonly seen.
Just last summer, Oh My Girl dropped “Liar Liar,” a similar pop song, which was a transition from their earlier music like “Closer” and “Cupid.” While WJSN has been poking around the stars, there is a precedence. Turning to a generic theme is acceptable for a period, but there is a difficult fight in the saturated K-pop industry for this market share. At this point in their career, the Cosmic Girls aren’t a rookie group and they’ve been through a few iterations from “Mo Mo Mo” all the way to “I Wish.” This is their step into mainstream sounds and they handle it with the poise of an experienced girl group. But without standout singles like “Happy,” WJSN could easily fall into a popularity depression.
While this song hits and exceeds many Cosmic Girls and girl-group cliches, it isn’t perfect. The camera is in full motion panning and zooming all over the place for three minutes. Though the speed of the song makes it feel like much less than 3 minutes. While not commonly a bad thing, “Happy” is excessively paced and difficult to follow. An argument could be that the video follows the pace of the song because neither features any kind of break of motion and energy. The sets feature up to 13 girls and there’s no time to take it in. After a score of watches, it’s still difficult to tell what each scene is about without looking away from over-saturation and movement. So it could have been intentional.
Despite the speed of the video, there is so much to love about this Cosmic Girls comeback. Hardcore WJSN fans will leave satisfied and casual listeners can have their mind blown as a group juggles all 13 women. From training on bicycles and hospital trips, the girls take their bold sound into a hyper setup. For three full minutes, the viewer is lost in the fantasy universe of the Cosmic Girls. While “Happy” is a more mainstream pop sound, cosmic lovers can find a similar sound with the mini albums hidden gem, “Miracle.” The song itself is a certified bop and the chorus is a masterpiece in pop music and has an early chance at being labeled the girl-group song of the summer. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for the hyper pop sound and the Cosmic Girls.