Published on August 27th, 2012 | by ponyforprez0
KARA: Entering the labyrinth that is ‘Pandora’
KARA‘s back! I was actually pretty excited for the girls’ return, because KARA has a way of delivering some of the most infectious dance pop anthems ever. And this is coming from someone who’s still trying to move her butt to ‘Mister’, so trust me when I say I know what I am talking about.
I still can’t put a finger on who the better vocalists of the group are (I’ve heard some of their MR-removed performances and uhh…), but when the five of them are together, they sure have a way of putting on a good show.
The girls have been occupied throughout the past year with their promotions for their second Japanese studio album ‘Super Girl‘, having little time to do anything in Korea after their success with third full-length Korean album ‘Step‘. What I’m particularly impressed with about KARA is how things have been incredibly smooth-sailing despite being on the verge of splitting up due to problems with their agency, DSP Media, back in early 2011. Unlike other member-leaving shenanigans in K-pop, KARA and DSP managed to promptly settle their differences, leaving no room for netizens’ overly-enthused speculation, and got right back on track with their music.
Their fifth mini-album ‘Pandora‘ has a title track of the same name, and the MV has a largely galaxy-inspired feel to it with jewel tones and a futuristic concept. What I love about the visuals here is that while a lot of it is filmed in flashy sets that’s common in the industry, the whole appeal fits the core ‘Pandora Box’ idea.
It starts out with a guy hesitantly opening a glowing box, and we see flashes of different backdrops that all illuminate some form of light – an alley, a deserted parking lot, and rooms with hypnotic lights. I really like that the MV tries to fit a couple of trance-inducing elements to foreshadow the ‘evil’ that lies in the box. Combine that with mysterious swirly surroundings and the girls’ entrancing dancing and you can’t really go wrong.
Although the costumes in the video aren’t outrageously bright or heavily accessorised, they’ve got a bit of an 80s neon pop to them. This helps the girls stand out quite a bit in their solo scenes and evens out the platitudinous black/white blazer ensemble in the group dancing shots. I love what they did with their hair for this comeback too – everyone’s mane is so sleek and pretty, and I really adore Jiyoung‘s ashy blue hair.
‘Pandora’ is the product of Han Jae Ho and Kim Seung Soo, along with composer duo Sweetune, the brainchild (brainchildren???) behind a ton of good music for groups such as INFINITE, Nine Muses and RAINBOW. In fact, they practically revived the latter by giving them ‘A’, and upped INFINITE’s popularity with amazing songs like ‘Be Mine‘ and ‘Paradise‘.
The songs they produce usually have an upbeat, slightly retro sound to them, and for KARA, they’ve churned out really solid tracks like ‘Lupin‘ and ‘Step‘. ‘Pandora’ does retain that animated, zesty twang to it but falls short when you compare it to their previous fast-paced title songs when it comes to being an instant success, solely because there isn’t a distinctively catchy hook. I also don’t quite understand the lyrics, but from what I’ve inferred, it’s definitely not as mythical or alluring as it should be. The girls sing about coaxing a guy to come closer and to discover just what kind of secrets they hold deep inside them… except there’s not much literary depth to the lyrics.
The chorus’ ‘neukkyeobwah close to you and close to you‘ line does stick with you for a while… but for a very short while. I like the song, but it’s not one of those I’ll revisit or recommend to someone who’s new to KARA’s music.
Dancing-wise, the girls are currently getting a bit of a backlash for their sexy, jacket-off-shoulders move, which I actually really fancy. Considering the entire choreography isn’t particularly outstanding or memorable to me, I think it’s a point that most will anticipate during their live stages. Plus, it isn’t that bad. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, right?
In all its entirety, ‘Pandora’ isn’t one of the strongest MVs or songs around. In fact, when you break it down, it’s just another one of KARA’s many sub-standard tunes. It’ll probably still do well on the charts, but it disappointingly lacks that spark that could well have propelled it to a different league, joining their other better-crafted songs in the K-Pop hall of fame. Still, seeing as how the members have received positive response from both the Korean and Japanese markets (they undeniably have a very J-Pop image) for some time now, it’s safe to say that ‘Pandora’ will tide them over 2012 and suffice till their next comeback.
Check out the MV for ‘Pandora’ below:
(Credit for lyrics: Kpoplyrics.net)