Noh Min-woo may have started out as the drummer in The TRAX — with awesome blond Visual Kei-esque hair to boot — but he didn’t stay long. In 2006, just over two years after the rock band’s debut, Rose (his stage name at the time) made his departure from the group.
Then, Noh made a career switch and began to pursue acting. After supporting roles in Pasta and My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, he landed his first leading role in drama special Rock, Rock, Rock. He proved his dedication to his craft as an actor when he joined the cast of Midas and lost nearly 10 kilograms (about 20 pounds) for his role.
But it seems that music is Noh’s passion as he is back at it, solo this time. Going by the moniker Icon this time, Noh released his first single “Rockstar” at the beginning of July, and, despite the name, it is not a rock song. No, despite lyrics declaring that he “want[s] to be a rockstar,” this is another on the electronic, autotuned bandwagon.
The concept of the music video suits the sound perfectly. Noh is a stereotypical hermit-like, sweats-donning gamer, and what does he play? None other than a game about being a rockstar. After losing for what seems to be the hundredth time, Noh takes an angry nap, and in his dream he enters the video game, where he turns into Icon, the guitar-wielding rockstar character from the video game, with his sidekicks Monster the “drum masta” and Disco, whose job is apparently to “spin that s***.”
Complete with 8-bit graphics and 80s color palette, the music video is definitely a video game brought to life, though much trippier than any video game I’ve played. There’s a weird moment where Noh stands in bamboo on a rock over a shot of The Great Wave off Kanagawa, and while it’s obvious that it’s a reference to something Japanese, I’m honestly not sure to what. Actually, the whole music video is strange, and I don’t fully understand most of it. Even though it looks like they just had a small budget, it all goes with the concept so it works.
But the song is incredibly grating with all of the autotune. This is one of those songs you have to repeat and brainwash yourself into liking. Even then, there’s no guarantee of success because the song isn’t the most ear-friendly. It doesn’t help that the lyrics are short and repetitive. He spells his name almost as much as he says, or at least tries to say, “I wanna be a rockstar,” and that’s a lot.
Noh’s laughable attempt to say the word “rockstar,” which is in the title of the song and in the lyrics no less than 589 times, is probably the only redeeming point. It sounds like he’s either saying “rockster” or “lobster.” I like “rockster” because it sounds like a hipster rockstar, and given the styling it seems appropriate. Plus, I like portmanteaus.
While the video is pretty fantastic in a way that I don’t understand, the song is a miss. If someone were explaining the dangers of too much autotune, they would use this song as an example. If it had less electronic music and something to break up that incessant sound, perhaps it would be more forgivable. But sadly it doesn’t.
It’s also funny in a disappointing way that a song about being a rockstar is not a rock song, especially coming from someone who used to actually be a rockstar. And it’s not like TRAX did pop rock, at least not when Noh was in the group. Just take a look at “Scorpio,” the group’s second single.
Of course, this isn’t music by TRAX, particularly not old TRAX. But when you start out in a hard rock group and leave then return to the music scene with a song called “Rockstar,” it’s hard not to feel compelled to make the comparisons. The music video may make up for the song to a certain extent, but it’s just not enough to redeem the track itself.
(CJENM Music, YouTube)