Something tells me I picked a bad time to begin stanning Super Junior.

Super Junior wrapped up promotions for “Mr. Simple” last week, but not to worry: they’ve returned with their follow-up single and 5th album repackage, “A-Cha.” After an accidental leak that got fans and management all up in a tizzy, the repackage album was released today. Check out the new title track, “A-Cha,” below:

It’s funny, because when a K-pop band releases a new song, the fans almost always fall in love with it instantly regardless of the actual musical merit of the song. Super Junior fans are far from the exception to the rule – I remember badmouthing “Mr. Simple” when it came out and facing an army of ELFs who were ready to carve me to pieces and feed me to the wolves. But with “A-Cha,” I’m seeing fewer and fewer fans proclaiming their undying love for “A-Cha,” and critics of the song have received little backlash from the fans. A few fans are even agreeing with some of the negative reviews.

K-pop, what is going on?!?!

Ever since SM implemented the repackage/follow-up single system for their artists, the output has been largely positive. While I sometimes thought the quality of the initial promotional single to be rather questionable, the follow-up single almost always made up for it. Songs like “Wrong Number,” “Run Devil Run,” “Before U Go” and “It’s You” gelled with me really, really well.

But then SM started putting out repackage singles like “Hello” and “Hot Summer” that failed to impress all-around, but at least they offered some contrast from the initial promotional single. But “A-Cha” has the same feel as “Mr. Simple”…and seeing as “Mr. Simple” was a rehash of “Bonamana” which was a rehash of “Sorry, Sorry“…releasing “A-Cha” as a follow-up single is just insulting.

I think fans are going to be excited about a new release regardless of the actual quality of the song, but the contrast between “A-Cha” and “Mr. Simple” is so indistinguishable that it’s understandable why fans aren’t leaping out of their seats over this song. Simply put, “A-Cha” doesn’t offer anything new to the table. Granted, Super Junior hasn’t produced anything fresh-sounding since 2009, but the artistic merit in releasing a follow-up track is to give a different spin to the album’s promotional effort as a whole. Thus, having “Mr. Simple” and “A-Cha” serve as promotional singles side-by-side makes the album seem awfully one-dimensional.

The three other new tracks on the repackage are slightly less atrocious, but nothing notably brilliant.

“Oops!” is a collaboration with f(x), and I like to see good ol’ SMTown lovin’ as much as anyone else, but this song is ridiculous and the lyrics are even more incomprehensible. And I’m not just talking about Krystal’s painfully scripted English line at the beginning (she really said “dem boys,” didn’t she?) – here’s a translation of Leeteuk’s verse:

Hey, you little fishies- listen to my story
Whatever I say, it will happen and the world will change anew
1 + 1 is 3 and 1 – 1 is 100
White people turn into black people and black people turn yellow
I don’t like racism, don’t like it
I don’t like the law of gravity, or the continental drift theory
How can the whole world be one piece of land?
My words are the truth- the law of the entire world
I’m the president of the girls- Leeteuk

See what I mean?

I was really looking forward to “Andante” the most. It was jointly penned by Leeteuk and Super Junior-M‘s Henry, and I’ve grown to be a really big fan of Henry’s compositions. While “Andante” didn’t exactly fail to please, it didn’t impress me as much as the duo’s previous composition, “All My Heart,” which was featured on Super Junior’s fourth album repackage. Nonetheless, “Andante” is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Unfortunately, it’s not to say that “Andante” is an extraordinarily strong track on the whole, but there’s definitely something to be said when a K-pop idol’s compositions are better than those composed by producers who were specifically hired to crank out music for idol groups. Yes, I’m looking at you, Hitchhiker.

(Also, when will they ever let this poor kid actually sing on a track that he’s composed? For heaven’s sake, seriously.)

A Day” is a plain old ballad, nothing special. SM usually likes to slap an random extra ballad or two onto the repackage, and I suspect that these ballads were prerecorded songs that didn’t make it onto the initial release but were still good enough to escape the SM music graveyard. With “A Day,” though, I like how they’re making an effort to feature all of the members’ singing skills equally. Shindong has a lovely voice! Needs less of that crinkling-paper sound effect in the background, though. Also needs less Sungmin. Sorry.

Super Junior will be returning to the K-pop stage this weekend with “A-Cha,” and fans are anticipating the upcoming release of the music video. As much as I dislike the song (although the chorus is starting to grow on me already….dammit), I’m trying my darndest to be excited for the choreo for “A-Cha,” as Super Junior has yet to really let me down in terms of choreography. But it’s getting to be a bit apparent that Super Junior has been partially relegated to the SM backburner, and it’s starting to show. The future of this group is nebulous, and with the impending departure of more members, the face and mission of Super Junior will undoubtedly change. Here’s hoping that the music won’t suffer even more because of it.

(youtube; lyric translation by