The Latin trend in K-pop is still alive and well. Though Cube’s rookie girl group (G)I-dle throws an unexpected structure and unique raps into the blender along with a tango rhythm in their latest comeback, “Senorita” is ultimately confusing and underwhelming.
Their weakest lead single yet, “Senorita” strays from the cohesive sound the group created with “Latata” and “Hann.” While the young group has already notched music show wins and shown their self-producing skills, “Senorita” proves they are not creatively mature enough to successfully stray from their formula yet.
Lyrically, “Senorita” is about a lust-at-first-sight attraction between (G)I-dle and a mystery suitor. Soyeon, who also wrote and produced the track, raps and reveals she does not know this senor’s name. The chorus then tells the man that he can simply call the ladies senorita. The lyrics fit the song’s sultry Latin vibes, especially with the slinky, isolated snaps of the castanets in the verses and the dark, sleazy horns of the chorus.
Soyeon and Soojin’s breathy delivery of the first verse seduces the listener into the song. But after the first chorus, the song’s momentum goes off the rails. The slower-paced song returns back to a restrained instrumentation in the verse again before Soyeon’s off-putting rap stops the song in its tracks.
Soyeon is a talented and charismatic rapper, but her choice to attempt the American hip-hop trend of a fast-paced, offbeat flow does not fit the song at all. The staccato, glitchy sound she creates clashes with the smooth instrumentation, making it sound more like a jarring mistake that an innovative choice.
Soyeon makes another odd call by letting unnamed men sing the song’s catchy chorus. While this makes “Senorita” feel like a two-sided love affair, this song is not some sexy Troublemaker duet. It does not make sense that the ladies of (G)I-dle pass the mic to a man. This device also takes the narrative and the power out of the women’s hands, turning a line that could sound flirtatious and empowering (“Call me senorita”) into what sounds like men leering at them
The most baffling choice of all might be the fact that the song foregoes a third chorus, outro verse, or any sort of closure. Yuqi coos “fu fu fu” for over 30 seconds before the song abruptly ends. There is room in K-pop for playing with conventions and trying new things, but some structural elements are tried and true because they work. The song meanders off to nowhere, unresolved and leaving no lasting impact. There are no high notes, powerful beats, or anything that stands out in the last moments of the song.
Compare “Senorita” to the latest single from (G)I-dle’s labelmate CLC. “No,” which was also penned and produced by Soyeon, also foregoes a full final chorus, instead opting for a high-energy, hard-hitting dance version of the song’s intro. Perhaps if the MV for “Senorita” showed the girls really getting down instead of lifelessly staring into the camera, it would have injected some much-needed energy into the song’s finale.
Alas, the MV in general shows very little of (G)I-dle dancing at all, and when it does, the moves are generic, with the girls swaying and flourishing their arms like they are Latin dancing. Yet, these are references that are nothing new or exciting when it comes to K-pop choreography.
Arm moves were definitely (G)I-dle’s signature in “Latata” and “Hann,” but choreography shots in “Senorita” take a back seat to the MV’s real star: Kaja Beauty. As the MV makes painfully obvious, the video is sponsored by K-beauty brand based in the US, Kaja, co-developed by Memebox and Sephora.
There is so much in-your-face product placement that the MV starts to feel like a CF instead. It does not help that the cheap special effects in the video of a hotel being destroyed around the members look like something out of a Lotte Duty Free ad. Seriously, Big Bang looked more realistic on a flying carpet in the 2012 Lotte Duty Free CF than Soojin did falling in that elevator.
Former Produce 101 and Unpretty Rapstar contestant Soyeon continues to be the group’s shining star, but the MV for “Senorita” helps shine the spotlight on the group’s other rapper, Soojin. Of anyone in the group, she delivers the most attitude, giving plenty of winks to the camera as well as closing out the song. Soyeon of course brings her swagger as well, acting unbothered while eating a lollipop with a razor blade inside.
The MV’s Tom and Jerry theme of playing it cool in the face of danger is fun, with the crane hook just barely whizzing by Shuhua being especially memorable. Unfortunately, Shuhua gets no real lines in this song. She had small parts in “Latata” and “Hann,” but in “Senorita,” her only lines are making the noise “oh oh oh whoa” nine times in the pre-chorus.
Half of (G)I-dle is made up of foreigner members — Yuqi is Chinese and Minnie is Thai. Shuhua being Taiwanese should not be the reason she is being neglected. Fans are left wondering whether it is her lack in Korean skills or weaker vocals that are pushing her to the sidelines, making her look like the stereotype of a visual member who can barely sing.
(G)I-dle set the bar for themselves pretty high with their strong tracks “Latata” and “Hann,” which is perhaps why “Senorita” is so disappointing. From the unsatisfying song structure to the cheap, CF feel of the MV, this song is a step back for (G)I-dle. The song is not bad, but the group has some course correcting to do to find that sweet spot of ambitious, playful and enjoyable the next time around.