Review: Mamma Mia – KARA

Hey y’all! KARA is not only back with a new song, but with a new lineup. A few years ago, there was a lawsuit between three members of KARA and their management, requesting that their contracts be terminated. Two years later, in 2013, it came as little surprise that when their contracts expired, two of the girls in the lawsuit (Nicole and Kang Jiyoung) decided to walk away from the company and the group. Five months and one reality TV show later, Kara had a new member, Heo Youngji. Now they’re back as a quartet with their new mini-album Day & Night. Let’s take a look at their single, Mamma Mia.

kara day and night cover

Here’s the MV with English subs (as usual, click CC):

The lyrics are basically your generic party song. Seriously, the word “party” is repeated in the chorus 3 times. It’s basically a song about wanting to go out and be in the spotlight. Also when I hear “mamma mia,” I think of either the ABBA song or the musical, and it feels more like an expression of exasperation or frustration than one of joy…then again, I’m not Italian, so what do I know? As for the new member, she has only 2 lines in the entire song. The first, the last line of the first chorus and the second, the last line of the second verse. I’m not sure if this is because she’s new, and needs to be eased into the group, or because she isn’t as well liked as the other girls. Hopefully she’ll get more chances in the future.

The music video is a lot of typical dance and singing scenes. While this is an upbeat dance song, there are a lot of oddly reflective scenes for individual shots. You’d expect a girl going out to a song like this, not lying around, gazing at flowers. There’s even a part where the new girl, Youngji is reading a book. It’s a charming tableau but it doesn’t make much sense to me.

Youngji, partying hard.

Party hard, Youngji.

The dance is what you’d expect for the most part. Very upbeat with the interesting moves I’ve come to expect from KARA. At one point in the chorus, it looks like they’re strumming guitars? The dance is slightly sexy but not overtly so, as if that’s the only goal. Something about either the song or dance reminds me vaguely of STEP, which is my favorite KARA song. I know if I tried the choreography I’d definitely wear myself out – or break my back.

But the styling. Oh man, the styling. So the soft and dreamy look that I mentioned before is a bit weird, but there’s something I find a bit worse. It’s the hair. For some reason, the stylist thought it would be a good idea to put their hair in smaller, tighter curls (which isn’t so bad in itself, though k-pop tends to stick to larger curls or waves). The worst part is when Goo Hara’s hair – now a frizzy mess – is put into two lopsided pigtails. Like really lopsided. One’s at the crown of her head while the other is down behind her ear. I don’t know if this is an attempt to be cute, since Hara is generally considered the cutest/prettiest member, or an act of jealousy or spite. I’m seriously questioning why this was considered a good idea.

kara mamma mia hara

Don’t tell me I’m the only one who finds her hair awful.

In the end, the song is pretty simple. It’s a song about dancing so the music and dance are both upbeat and bright. The song itself is rather catchy, the chorus especially so, and I’ve been listening to it for weeks before I finally decided to review it. There’s nothing totally groundbreaking in the lyrics or composition of this song, but it really pumps you up so in a way, it succeeds.

Finally, at the end of the video came the feeling I’d been looking for throughout the rest of the MV. The girls have streaks of pink, blue, and purple in their hair, and are wearing brightly colored and metallic clothing. They jump up and down in slow motion while holding sparklers. This is the party scene I’d been waiting for. Of course, there isn’t any actual dancing at the party so the video cuts back to a generic dance scene, while occasionally going back to the jumping partygoers. Not the worst party one could go to, but probably not the most fun either.

At least you get to play with fire?

At least you get to play with fire?

While this song was pretty formulaic, KARA managed to stay true to their previous style, and seem to be doing okay without two of their members. Nicole used to be my favorite member of the group, and I was nervous after she’d left. This song, however, did a good job of showing that KARA will still be able to put out good, fun music. And that’s what they’re good at.

Pros:

-Catchy, upbeat song.

-Good dance.

Cons: 

-The MV doesn’t always make sense.

-Generic lyrics.

Rating: 3.5/5

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