Pop band Lunafly returns on the scene, and let me tell you, the scene is funky! “Special Guy” is definitely that, a special tune from guys who manage to blend pop with the simpler sensibilities of acoustic/pop-rock.
Since their debut, the boys of Lunafly have somewhat reimagined the definition of “idol.” Though many are quicker to lay that honor on a group like Block B, the truth is most of K-pop’s more popular idols have found substantial commercial success with the “rowdy hip-hoppers” trope. It’s really nothing new. What Lunafly has posed is the marriage between acoustic and pop, and they have the backing of Nega Network (home of Brown Eyed Girls and formerly Sunny Hill) to give their sound credence.
“Special Guy” is a throwback of sorts. It’s got a bit of New Jack Swing with elements of early 2000s funk sprinkled in, reminiscent of Canadian boy band Soul Decision’s 2000 debut hit, “Faded.” The sound is smooth as a really good brand of scotch, and the lads of Lunafly own the swagger of the song, blending perfectly with the music without being overpowered by the stylized composition.[youtube http://youtu.be/RWMx26y8tzw]
Leader Sam’s voice is solid, as always, the higher end of his tenor giving the song its center. Teo sort of fades to the background, unfortunately, his voice nothing more than another vocal to give the band some body, if only in number. However, Yun is the standout performer this time around. His falsetto is dangerously smooth here. All the members manage simple vocals without attempting to do more than their ranges can account for. However, Teo acquits himself well with his higher register, his vocal a perfect match for the new-school funk feel of the tune.
“Special Guy” is one of those tracks that’s absolutely perfect on its own merits. The composition is tight, a more mature sound than even last year’s Fly to Love. The vocals work so well with the song, one can easily forgive how almost wispy they are, airy instead of going for a more powerful full voice. The guitar work is spectacular. No extreme riffs, no attempts from Sam and Yun to outplay one another, just a laid-back, comfortable groove that allows listeners to mellow out and vibe. Everything about this is perfect… then the randomly placed rap break comes in.
Look, it makes sense to collaborate with a female label-mate. Of course, the logical choice is a member of one of K-pop’s veteran girl groups, Brown Eyed Girls. But, again, we’ve got an instance in which a perfectly composed piece of music is abruptly interrupted with an arbitrary rap break. No doubt Miryo is sexy, a drop of confident sensuality to light a fire in her magnaes’ hearts and video-ready stage performance. But even her appearance in the video is out of place (more on that later).
This is one of those things K-pop can really do without, a facet of the culture that, oddly enough, didn’t make the cut—the obligatory but completely unnecessary time to shine for the non-singer of the group. Granted, there are instances when the rap break is in line with both the composition and timing, but especially in these third and fourth generations of K-pop, placement and necessity are optional when considering when to drop in a bit of forced “gangsta.” The rap in and of itself is somewhat off-pace, Miryo’s cadence and flow nowhere near matching the comfortable sway of the actual song. It’s like if you were just chilling with friends, listening to some light funk, eyes closed and in a right mood… then suddenly someone kicks you in the face and pours your juice on the floor. It’s a bucket of ice-cold water when you expect a hot kiss from your girlfriend. An instant mood killer. Thank goodness at this point there’s only one more repetition of the chorus with our ill-timed MC before the song ends.
The video itself is nothing special, your regular performance video fodder. Bright colors and wild lighting abound, interspersed with moments of black-and-white, slow-motion panning of the audience. As expected, our two guitarists are out front. Meanwhile our keyboardist takes on the job of DJ, instead of tickling the keys, he’s twisting the knobs. It’s not exactly unexpected. After all, this is more of an electro-funk groove than it is a raw acoustic performance. It also isn’t outside the realm of probability that someone who plays both piano and drums, as Teo does, would also be able to handle himself on the turntables.
Miryo’s entrance is unexpected, to say the very least. After five teasers, the viewer expects to her show up at some point. When she finally does, it’s as if she was in another music video at the time and showed up on the last day of shooting to be on stage with the band. It’s just as abrupt as the rap itself, only her actual presence sort of simmers any nascent anger one may want to toss at the computer screen. After all, Miryo is sort of gorgeous.
Unspectacular video and terribly unnecessary rap notwithstanding, “Special Guy” really is an incredible track. You really can forgive a lot based solely on the quality of the tune itself. However, Lunafly, please, the next time you ask your Nega Network noonas to help you out, choose a vocalist.
(Images via Nega Network)