Sub-units give members the chance to express a different side of their music and put more of their individuality into their songs. While they are veterans in K-pop, it’s clear that Donghae and Eunhyuk aren’t ready to sing ballads in form-fitting suits. Instead, they’re expressing their rebellious side with face tattoos and leather pants with their Korean album titled, Danger. Listening to their latest album, it’s clear they are going for an edgier concept than when they’re performing with Super Junior. Although with their main group, they’re the perfect boyfriend and are all about romance. Their sub-unit expresses a darker and rougher side that isn’t the boy you bring home to your parents.
Only three of the songs on the album tie into the concept of “danger.” Their lead song of the same name, “Watch Out,” and “Jungle” portrays a “bad boy” image. “Danger” itself is a blend of rock and trap with lyrics that display the members as fearless and wanting to rid themselves of their insecurities. The song has several beats going on at once which can be overwhelming. Despite this, the song still stands out in the K-pop scene by not being another love song and delivers an impactful statement on their image.
“Watch Out” is a brass-driven single that sends out a caution to the listener. However, this time, the warning is regarding a beautiful woman that has seduced the speaker. This dance track is one of the better-composed songs on the album because it doesn’t terribly go right and left with different genres. Lastly for our “danger-themed songs, “Jungle” is a fun mesh of pop and tropical beats. The song is more dated with its use of tropical beats but builds up to a strong chorus. It’s a song that could play during the action scene of a movie. The lyrics still plays into the “danger” theme by depicting the speaker as someone who is a risk taker and brave:
Wild for the life, wake me up right.
It’s already starting to get hot.
Welcome to the jungle, you cowardly enemies.
I step on it like a blanket, what’s the problem.
Two songs that don’t seemingly fit the concept of the album but still share a commonality between them are “Gloomy” and “Dreamer.” However, if we look at the bigger picture of Danger, it’s to express a darker side of one’s personality which can consist of lust, recklessness, and even sadness. “Gloomy,” as the name implies, is about feeling melancholy over missing someone that no longer is around. The song has an electric guitar opening and has a surprisingly upbeat tune. Like most of the songs, it has too many beats going on in the background. This, along with its dreadful use of autotune, doesn’t fit with the theme of the lyrics.
It’s safe to say that Super Junior-D&E aren’t the best vocalists and ballads just aren’t their specialty. “Dreamer,” although more generic sounding, has a better tune that aligns with its lines. The lyrics express symptoms of depression and describes a speaker that is lonely. Depression is always a daring concept to sing about in K-pop because of the stigma behind it and it is commending that Super Junior-D&E did decide to tackle it. Unfortunately, the members don’t harmonize completely well to make this ballad completely work. Regardless, the lyrics do have substance:
Around the same place, I’m looking for an answer.
I’m still in this place all the time I hate waking up,
I close my eyes again I wait for this moment to pass.
Lastly, “Sunrise” and “If You” are simply Korean versions of their Japanese songs from their previous album. Both of which don’t fit into the “danger” concept and were probably just added as a treat for Korean listeners. “Sunrise” is a tropical song that contains outdated tropical beats but has an undeniably catchy chorus. “If You” is another ballad with an R&B beat that actually suits the member’s voices better than their previous attempts at slower songs. It even builds up to a more memorable pop chorus and doesn’t rely too much on electronic sounds and autotune.
Overall, the album doesn’t completely tie into a major concept and it dabbles with several different genres. Super Junior-D&E definitely uses this sub-unit as a chance to experiment musically while creating a less family-safe image of themselves. Lyrically, it’s refreshing to see other topics aside from love to be the major concept of an album. However, musically, it sometimes sounds like they’re trying to mesh too many genres which ends up burying their songs. It’s an album that doesn’t fit entirely together but there are still some gems in there that are worth listening to.