20150210_seoulbeats_4minute3The bad girls of 4Minute? Who didn’t see this one coming?

4Minute recently released its new mini-album with the title track “Crazy” on February 9. The release of “Crazy” is a long way from the colourful releases that defined 4Minute in 2013-14. Just as one of its 2015 teasers explained, which there were many, this is 4Minute ‘revamped‘. However, is this a change for the better?

“Crazy,” aptly titled considering the amount of times ‘crazy’ is said during the song, is essentially a hip hop infused dance track. Embodying confidence and freedom from inhibition, this song is ready to knock your socks off.

The lyrics entice or taunt the listener into letting go in the favor of becoming ‘crazy.’ ‘Crazy’ meaning going out and having fun, of course. Taking it upon themselves to becoming the role model for this ‘crazy’ behavior, 4minute boast self confidence saying,

I’m the crazy girl around here like gossip girl
If you can’t believe me, call me, hey call my boyfriend
You can’t come up to my class, I go crazy wherever I go
New York Paris Milano Tokyo London

K-pop is essentially selling an image, idols have to sell themselves, and that is exactly what they are doing in this song. For them to pull off promoting a song about throwing off inhibition, they must project an image that is completely filled with confidence to say this is the best way to be. A lot of detail and thought have gone into this song as everything from the lyrics, dance, music and MV has been created to project a feeling that is confident and rebellious, or being a ‘bad girl’. The question is do you believe it?

20150210_seoulbeats_4minute4The song itself is quite different in the way it is put together; it relies heavily on the vocals of the group members, as the song is basically just vocals and the backing beat. It switches between rapping and singing throughout the song to create a dynamic effect between each member’s part. The song seems to have been put together in a way similar to the experimental “I Got A Boy” from SNSD, as each of their parts seems like it could become a song on its own.

This is mirrored in the backing track, which changes throughout the song depending on which part of the song is being sung. It is filled with sounds and different beats that probably shouldn’t work well together but somehow do. One of the most noticeable sounds would be the horns which play during the chorus, which has the ability to become annoying very quickly. So, you wouldn’t want to play this song on repeat for too long. This release is quite experimental in the scheme of things, and it is safe to say it has paid off. It is an incredibly high energy and ear-catching song from 4Minute that shows that they have got attitude.

4Minute has often been criticized for Hyuna monopolizing the focus of the group, often being given the name ‘Hyuna and the girls’; however, this release seems to ease off that focus a little bit. It seems to give an equal amount of time to each girl, except for Jihyun.

Now, we have all heard of having the so-called talentless bias that usually doesn’t get a big part in main releases. For 4Minute, I am sad to say it is Jihyun. In “Crazy”, she gets a small singing part towards the end of the song that lulls down the tempo. It is supposed to slow things down in order to make the build back up more exciting, but it has the opposite effect. Her part seems almost out of place in this upbeat track as she sounds almost disinterested while singing. Sadly, this is not the only time I have noticed it within a 4Minute release either so sorry to any Jihyun fans! However, feel free to prove me wrong!

20150210_seoulbeats_4minute1The dance is powerful but, in true 4Minute fashion, sexy. Each move used in the dance has been targeted to project the image of confidence with even the moves that are supposed to be sexy being done confidently. To give an example, the move that starts at the chorus, where the girls kick out their legs, makes it seem as if they are walking arrogantly while taunting the viewer. The moves 4Minute pulls out of their bucket hats match the feel of the song incredibly well, adding new layers to their ‘bad girl’ image.

Pulling together the song and dance, this release is strong; embodying the ‘bad girl’ image the lyrics detailed. It is interesting that the idea of a ‘bad female’ seems to encompass females who are different and confident with themselves. In that way, 4minute seems to embrace this completely with “Crazy”. However, this is a characteristic they have always had; the only thing that has changed is the delivery in this MV.

The black and white theme of the MV immediately pops out and makes a bold statement. It is a big contrast to the 4Minute that has become known for colorful MVs. There are still small amounts of color thrown into the MV though; however, it is used to contrast the black and white theme, making it bolder. Of course, Jiyoon rocking dark green hair was the most eye-catching contrast out there. Well, if you’re going to make a change, may as well make it big.

20150210_seoulbeats_4minute2They made a bold statement costume-wise by following the black and white theme; they used different shaped clothing from flare jean-like pants to short shirts to emphasize different parts of the body. Not sure what the bucket hats are supposed to emphasize though, but ultimately they have created an edgier look to the 4minute we know.

There is no doubt in my mind that this MV is hip hop influenced, from the chains to the hairstyles. Yet, what does this add to their image in the MV? Does it add to the stronger image they are showing? The answer is no; they easily could’ve created the same image without it. They have used the style to symbolize that they are tough and ‘bad girls’, without really understanding the culture behind it. At the start of writing this review, I didn’t really understand that they had in fact procured styles from a different culture in order to look ‘cool’ but when it was pointed out to me, it became abundantly clear.

The influence of hip hop is constant in K-pop, to the point where I had actually become desensitized to the appropriation of hip hop culture. Cultural appropriation is a subject that shouldn’t be dropped in favour of something looking cool. In the American music market, similar questions have been raised for instance when Australian rapper Iggy Azalea has become the topic of conversation. So why should K-pop be exempt, when hip hop has such a big influence. I open this question up to the readers, what do you think of the use of hip hop culture in K-pop? Did this particular use strike you as cultural appropriation?

4minute almost hit a home run with this release, to successfully evolve themselves into something new, but ultimately tripped up a bit before the finish line. Overall, it is solid musically with a bit of a let down in the production. What are your thoughts on this release?

Rating: 3.75/5

(Images via Cube Entertainment, YouTube)