At this point, SM Entertainment has built such a fan base around its product that the company could churn out anything and everything and there would be a supply of consumers ready to do what they do best—consume. And while this ensures a steady stream of revenue, this also ensures that groups and products that wouldn’t survive otherwise, coast on by with the aid of the fame and success of their peers and the all-encompassing brand. If a house is still standing, a room cannot be crushed.
For better or for worse, this has been among f(x)’s criticisms. Accused of being given sub-par material, developing a confused image, and skirting on by because they are simply under SM Entertainment, f(x) has had a lot of individuals offering the group for sacrifice to the K-pop gods. And while some of the criticism may be fair, f(x) isn’t hopeless. They’ve released tracks that definitely validate their careers and while these tracks may not be their lead singles, it’s about time we sat down, took a look at some of these songs, and finally understand why f(x) is around and why they should continue to stick around.
I act a little f-f-funny
Saranghetdamyon but a beautiful goodbye
SM Entertainment has never been able to make ballads for their girl groups the same way they make them for their boy groups. “Beautiful Goodbye” falls into the same pattern but it’s much better than some of the other girl ballads on this company’s roster. Admittedly, the track is nothing special. But vocally, this song is on point. The track makes use of the talent and the various vocal flavors in this group. It took quite a while for SNSD to use harmony seriously in their work and here f(x) in their first album, combining and layering their voices together. And while the song has a sadness to it, because of the power in the vocals, there is light at the end of this tunnel, creating an emotional tension that is gripping and if this kind of song is up your alley, inspiring as well.
Can’t you never say?
While f(x) can be regarded as the female response to SHINee, something that has been a huge point of differentiation between to the two are the vintage undertones in f(x)’s music and this song is emblematic of precisely what I’m talking about. Borrowing sounds from vintage America circa 50’s, 60’s, “Love” doesn’t do wonders for f(x)’s struggling image but it’s still a good track. While the verses play the hopeless, helpless damsel card, the choruses pick up pretty quickly and we have the girls belting out with power and confidence. What could have easily been another song about oppa turns into a song for the girls and the contrast is definitely a delight to hear.
“Uh oh, uh oh, oh, beautiful stranger”
SM Entertainment has been doing interesting things with trio this year and “Beautiful Stranger” is no exception. While this track may only feature Amber, Krystal, and Luna, this song is perhaps stronger for it. With many rhythmically opposing sounds, Amber comes in with a spoken word rap which actually works pretty nicely while Krystal and Luna compliment her with verses with their full, powerful voices. Like many of f(x)’s songs, this is yet another song that could have been done by SNSD as well. Unlike the other songs however, it is better because f(x) did it.
“Make you lost control , make you lose control”
The sounds in “Jet” take a much more metallic texture than has been standard for f(x) but the girls handle it well. But they don’t let the grittier, edgier sounds and rhythms intimidate them into delicate, breakable voices. They embrace femininity and bring it in every, single note—proving that the two are not mutually exclusive. And as we get to the chorus, we’re rising, and as we go back into the verse, we’re descending—much like the song title. Like girl power but not a big fan of lite-brite jackets and heavy eyeliner? This song may be for you.
While f(x) has many duds in their body of work, when they do have a good track ,it’s completely overshadowed by the opinion that it doesn’t coincide with their image. And I think those opinions are largely. Many of my favorite f(x) tracks sound like it could have been easily performed by one of their label mates. F(x)’s image, or the lack thereof, is the most troubling part of this group and their music. But I am of the opinion that a good track cannot be discounted, even if it doesn’t suit the group 100%. Even still, we can see f(x) getting better. As of Electric Shock, we can all see progress. They’re not only putting out good tracks, they’re putting tracks out that are more and more f(x) and not some label mate knock off.
(KoreanMusicPOP, Kuroshitsuji0Ciel, amberisnotaman, SofiBaby25, magicseafood02)