This column may really be more of a pet project for me than really attracting any readers, but it has forced me to go out and listen to new music to try and round out the sound here on the Setlist. Besides, I can’t just keep writing about H!P forever, it might drive me insane. But let’s be honest here, I’ve wanted to review a T-ara song ever since the bullying scandal of this past July just because I have never really listened to one. Having only vaguely heard of the band before the many K-Pop fans burst into angry rants, I became intrigued just who these women were and what was going on behind the scenes.
Well, today is the day we get to dive into T-ara’s latest single post-scandal, their 17th single, and their first Japanese-only track, Bunny Style!
T-ara is a K-Pop group formed back in 2009 and has always maintained a pretty high level of success. Their songs have consistently ranked within the top 10, and have easily become of the the best loved Korean groups. I will state this here and now, none of what I am about to review will be affected by the scandal itself. It is only mentioned as part of the reason I was made aware of the group. I know that bullying is a terrible thing, but since all we have are tweets, and since it was the company itself that fired Hwayoung, I don’t have much of a perspective on this particular scandal. So no one needs to bite my head off or tell me that these are terrible people, or leave page long rants in the comments. We’re not dealing with that here – we’re here to deal with how good or bad this song is.
Here’s the video, and a translation of the lyrics here (due to lack of availability, I had to choose one with Vietnamese subs):
The lyrics are pretty generic, basically about being in love with a boy and being together, being apart, laughing, crying, the whole spectrum of romance in a song. What any of this has to relate to bunnies is beyond me. Is it a symbol of innocence? Sexuality? Love? Cuteness? The song never makes it very clear what exactly the term they keep repeating over and over means. For all the we know, Bunny Style could refer to cute fluffy un-substantive puppy love, or to a deep meaningful relationship. Hell, there’s even a point in the lyrics where I start wondering if she’s not nicknaming her boyfriend “Bunny.” There’s nothing wrong with vague, sugary lyrics but they should at least make some sense.
The dance is pretty simple, compared to their other dances, like Lovey Dovey but I can’t speak for their choreographers. Personally, the simplistic dance does work with the cutesy theme but it is a little distracting with just how unchallenging it is. In fact, during the video, the girls sometimes look a little bored or distracted, perhaps because of the relative uncomplexity of their movements. I think they would have been better off going with a more complex routine.
Production value is where this video really shines. The set design is wonderful, bursting with color and texture, giving the video a bigger and grander feel because of it. The costuming itself is also very well done, with the group in three distinct outfit – a white, fluffy one, a purple-pink-blue ruffled one, and a hot pink bunny-ears one. The craftsmanship is impressive and infuses a lot of color and energy into the set pieces and makes the video feel professional.
The concept of the video, however, is something I’m a little fuzzier on. I think they were going for girls wanting to chase down the cute bunny-man, for some reason. Again, the video is sort of vague in the sense of why they want to catch this rabbit. It’s probably because it’s just adorable and we really shouldn’t be questioning a music video this much. It takes place in a sort of a kind of generic fantasy wonderland, which would explain the bright sets, random boat scenes, and all the legos scattered everywhere.
On the audio side of things, the song sticks with the traditional J-Pop style of cutesy and pink, which is sure to garner lots of success when the single officially releases on March 20. However, there are a mix of more customary K-Pop beats particularly in the bridge which give the song some much needed variety. The girls vocal are strong and work well together, as such a highly popular group should. The melody itself is catchy (you will be singing it to yourself for a few days, so be forewarned) but no more than your standard tune in the genre.
Overall, Bunny Style! is an over-top cutesy mess, which suffers with a fluffy pastel age-inappropriate style and generic lyrics. That’s not to say that there aren’t good things about it – the video has a great design, and the melody is pretty catchy. However, those two things are not enough to save it from “okay” status. The song itself is generic and cliche, the dance is boring, and the concept is weak. Still, I have a feeling this single will do well in Japan due to its tone, theme, and T-ara’s existing popularity.
– Good costuming.
– Good background designs and cinematography.
– Catchy melody.
– Over the top cutesy lyrics.
– Music video ranges from good to incredibly cheesy.
– Simplistic dance.