Review: Phone in Love – ALMENG

Hey, y’all! This week, I’m reviewing a new duo that made its first appearance on K-pop Star Three. ALMENG, who made it to the top four but didn’t win, was signed by YNB Entertainment (who doesn’t even have their own wikipedia page). ALMENG is made up of Lee Haeyong and Choi Rin, and their music seems to have a rap feel to it, from this one song, at least. Let’s take a look at their debut song, Phone in Love.

almeng composing of love cover

This song came out yesterday, so there aren’t subtitled videos yet, so I’ll post the music video below, and here is a link to the English lyrics.

The music video is a fairly literal representation of the lyrics, but that’s not a bad thing. The lyrics themselves are pretty unique, telling the story of a couple who fell in love through technology (mostly texting). They really enjoy talking to each other over the phone, but when the time comes for them to meet in person, expectations fall flat. Neither person looks like the other expected (he’s too big, she’s too tall), and all of a sudden, they’re extremely uncomfortable in each other’s presence. Needless to say, the date ends badly.

I wonder if this song is a commentary about the way we use technology to communicate. There are plenty of criticisms- texting ruins our grammar, we’re not fostering real relationships if we use a screen, we’re not appreciating the real-life things around us, so on and so forth. Personally, I’m not one to take a pessimistic attitude. I like to think the benefits of technology outweigh the problems that arise. That being said, perhaps they have a point here. In relationships- online or otherwise- it’s never beneficial to idolize your partner. If you hold them up to so high a standard, you’re eventually going to be disappointed. Someone may be a clever and funny texter, but if they aren’t an Adonis, are they no longer worth your time?

Awkward doesn't even begin to cover it...

Awkward doesn’t even begin to cover it…

Despite the serious questions this song and video can raise, the video itself is very bright. There are colorful animations, sometimes used to express texts and dialogue, but also used somewhat like emojis- a rain cloud to represent sadness, for example. It’s light and cute, and mirrors the subject (texting). With only two members, the video is well balanced between them, sometimes going to a split-screen. The video is lovely, with beautiful sets and colorful outfits (but nothing too overboard).

The only complaint I might have would be about their apartments. In the opening scene, the rooms seem messy and cluttered, like you’d expect, but in other scenes they look way too nice and expensive for your average 20-something. It’s staging, yes, and you want a music video to look nice, but I’m supposed to believe a 24-year-old guy living in a studio on his own has absolutely no clutter whatsoever? A silly thing to complain about, I guess.

Seriously, there isn't even a mug on the coffee table!

Seriously, there isn’t even a mug on the coffee table!

There’s a somewhat happy ending to this story, though. Once the date ends, the couple starts to talk again, thinking about giving it a second chance. I can’t decide if they’ve decided to be less shallow, or if they’re just going to make the same mistake over again. It’s left up for interpretation, and honestly, I’d choose the former because I’m a sucker for a happy ending with character growth.

This song would also serve as a great commentary to our current generation, since there’s so much focus on looks and image. That’s really the only reason this pair stopped liking each other, and if they manage to work things out in spite of that, this would be a great statement about superficiality. I’d love if it were a cautionary tale to young people, reminding them that people have much more to them than their looks. But I don’t know if that was the intent here, and possibly never will know.

The song is enjoyable enough. Personally, I find the tempo a bit boring, but this pair is talented, and I enjoyed listening to them. Like I said before, there’s an element of rap, and maybe a somewhat R&B feel overall? I’m terrible with genres, so feel free to correct me. There’s no dance to review from this video, and in the live performance they more or less just stand there while the back-up dancers do all the work. Not that this kind of song would need a very intricate dance. I guess this pair is more focused on vocals.

"Shouldn’t we give ourselves a second chance?"

“Shouldn’t we give ourselves a second chance?”

All in all, a decent debut. I wasn’t crazy about the song, but I did like the subject matter. It was more interesting than the typical fall in love or break up song, and possibly provided a commentary on our current generation (again, can’t be sure about the intentions). Still, it was an interesting listen, even though I don’t love it. I’m mildly curious about this group, but I’ll have to listen to more of their music to decide if I’m going to be a fan or not.

Pros:

-Great lyrics.

-Animation in the video mimics texting.

Cons: 

-Not a fan of the slow-ish song.

-Disappointed at lack of dance.

Rating: 3/5

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