No poodle skirts, no hairbows, no kumbaya-ing at a riverside picnic? Phewf!

Secret dropped their first full-length album today, entitled Moving In Secret. With it, the music video for the title track, “Love is Move” was also released today. Check it out below:

Dudes, I love Secret – but with every new release, I keep getting the sinking feeling that Secret’s concepts will be trapped in the 1950s forever and always. Wonder Girls, anyone?

At times, it’s kind of cool to see a group defining themselves with a certain image and putting a new twist on that image with every round of promotions. But with the release of “Love Is Move,” I get the feeling that Secret is more bent on maintaining that image rather than producing quality content. “Love Is Move” is not a good song in itself, and neither the outfits nor the MV set design are all that visually impressive. But all three definitely succeed in staying true to Secret’s recurring 1950s, neo-flapper image  – and if that’s what TS Entertainment was going for when they were designing Secret’s comeback, then great. But in terms of actual quality…no.

One of the defining characteristics of K-pop is the idea of a ‘concept,’ and how heavily each round of promotions relies on said concept. The idea of a concept is present in American pop as well – one could say that Britney Spears‘ “I Wanna Go” had a ‘rebel-punk’ concept, or Lady Gaga‘s “Telephone” had an ‘American 1970s drive-in movie’ concept. Unlike K-pop concepts, however, American pop “concepts” are so much more difficult to define with just a few words because the concepts in themselves are so complex. Why? Because American producers don’t design an artist’s material within the scope of just one “concept” or idea – the creative effort is more widespread, more detailed, more complex.

So does that mean that K-pop is inherently less creative than American pop? I think that opens up an entire new can of worms for discussion, but at the same time, it’s not to say that K-pop’s concept-driven nature is completely flawed. If anything, it gives a point of focus for each promotional effort and keeps things organized and tight. But when sticking to a concept begins to take precedence over actual production quality, then we have a problem.

Nonetheless, I’m still rooting for Secret – I think the members are extraordinarily talented, and there’s a lot of that talent that has still been left untapped. And can we please indulge in the fact that Zinger is back to fierce and Hyosung’s hair is back to purple? So much love.