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[Album Review] Wonder Girls – “Wonder World” (****)

6 Nov

The Wonder Girls are back with a whole new album! After spending years abroad, trying their luck in the US market, the girls are back home. They made a big splash with “Nobody” back in 2008. Let’s see if their new album lives up to the genius of that track and others like “Tell Me” and “2 Different Tears”.

Tracklist

1. G.N.O.  (Girls’ Night Out)
2. Be My Baby
3. Girls Girls
4. Me, in
5. Sweet Dreams
6. Stop!
7. Dear Boy
8. 두고두고
9. SuperB
10. Act Cool (Feat. San E)
11. Be My Baby (Ra.D Mix)
12. Nu Shoes

[C] The first track, “G.N.O” is a splashy fun track that starts slowly enough but then builds up as it gets along. First things first: their English is perfect and there’s enough of it in the song to admire and fawn over. The instrumental sounds like a mix of different songs with its ever-changing sounds and synths. At one point, there was horns involved (2nd verse) but it doesn’t feel like a messy track. My favorite bit comes towards the end as the chorus kicks in and we just hear the girls ad-lib “Burn this house tonight”. It’s a fitting opener for this album.

[T] I totally agree. “G.N.O is a really fun track that I can totally see myself jamming to at the gym. I was kind of surprised to hear the Wonder Girls come out with material like this; we’re all so used to hearing the whole retro concept play out in their music so it came as a shock to hear such a contemporary sound. However, the girls showcase their versatility here because they really killed it. Great start to the album!

[C]The second track, “Be My Baby” is such a cute track and I love the girls “oohing” in the back the most because it brings back memories of “Nobody” without outright copying the sound of that song. The fast beat of the track makes it sound so classy. The girls’ vocals are on point, especially with the way they sing “Please be my baby/ Make me your lady”. They do some real pleading and it makes for a very alluring listen.

[T] It’s clear that we’re back in the Wonder Girls’ comfort zone with “Be My Baby”. The track is fun, bouncy and everything that we’re used to hearing from them. I definitely think that there were better tracks that could have been used as the title track seeing the girls did promote a whole new concept. The contrast between their ultra sexy video teaser and this track is ginormous. However, the song really displayed how much the girls vocals have improved with time. Although they were never bad, I know that a lot of people once considered the Wonder Girls’ vocals a bit weak (with the exception of Yenny) in contrast to other girl groups. It’s great that the were able to overcome that hurdle and produce great material like this.

[C] Girls Girls starts with an English message for “all the girls in the world” as the instrumental, with its jazzy and Europop feel, kicks in. It’s such a classy song, which Wonder Girls have always evoked in their music. It’s in the girls’ rich harmonization, something that they’ve always done better than any other girl group in the business.

[T] I LOVE this song. Me and my friends keep on singing the lyrics “Girls, girls, I’m a Wonder Girl. Can be the only one in the world” 🙂 There was a distinct Western style in “Girls Girls” which the Wonder Girls totally adapt to. I can totally hear this type of song coming on the radio here in the US. Once again, they kill it with vocals which have continue to impress me throughout this album.

[C]The next track is a blazing uptempo track that I don’t think really fits well with the album. “Me, In” isn’t the type of song I picture them doing but it’s a fine track, if a little uninteresting. I do like their vocals here, but sometimes they’re a little disinterested.

[T] Okay, so this was the song I was waiting for. When I heard a portion of it in their first video teaser and I was like “Woah”. This is totally not “Wonder Girls” material so I was really happy to hear them switch things up. As for the song itself, I don’t think it’s a 5/5, but they do get points for effort and creativity. “Me, in” is kind of a rock/country fusion which something I have never heard in KPop before. I agree with Clarence, that the vocals were a tad disinterested; I think that was due to the girls focusing too much on the technique of that genre and not letting their personality come through. I absolutely loved the transition between the chorus and the rap. So far on this album, Yoo Bin (the rapper) has been playing a really minor role. Although her part is pretty small here as, it’s explosive and awesome. Whoo go Yoo Bin 🙂

[C] Sweet Dreams is a charming track, bringing us back into retro territory with its disco-lite instrumental. There aren’t any fireworks here like in their previous tracks but it’s still a dreamy song, lighten up considerably by the girls’ soft vocalizations.

[T] I feel the same in that the Sweet Dreams is lighter and safer in contrast to many of the other tracks. It doesn’t really add much to the album as a whole. I do like that Wonder Girls explored so many musical styles, but are still remaining true to their retro roots.

[C] For a moment when I heard the first few seconds of the track, I thought I was listening to Kill Bill’s soundtrack. Such is the magic of the track Stop, by far one of my favorite songs from the album. It’s the girls at their most mature, with their vocals showing so much improvement from previous years. In addition, there is no sense of acting cute to appeal to younger audiences. In fact, none of the tracks have done so (unlike SNSD and their new album).

[T] Another track that has more of a Western feel to it. I really liked “Stop” because the vocal techniques that the girls display here are so much more advanced that those of their previous songs.

[C] The best thing about the next track is the song mixing. I love that they put the girls vocals on the forefront of the track. Sometimes, artists tend to have their voice put behind the instrumental. Not so with Dear Boy, a mature rendering of melancholy and loneliness. It’s a gorgeous track, simple and understated.

[T] The beauty of “Dear Boy” is its simplicity. It’s not flashy and loud, but it still is captivating. I think that this is due that the majority of this track is sung in the lower register which gives it a sadder and richer sound. I’ve found with a lot of artists who try sing in such a low register tend to lose their technique, but the Wonder Girls really showcase their talent with their ability to do both.

[C] 두고두고 is such a gorgeous throwback tune, evoking 90s R&B. This is where the girls sing the best, giving it such beautiful emotional beats along the way, getting more powerful along the way. It reminds me of Aaliyah and Alicia Keys, especially how they climax towards the end.

[T] This might be one of my favorite tracks on the entire album. I totally agree with all of Clarence’s comments; 두고두고 is such a great throwback and they execute the vocals perfectly. I am so impressed with how amazing the Wonder Girls embody a genre then perfect it. I really hope that in their follow up promotions, they sing this song live.

[C] I don’t like the next track, SuperB. I think it’s too lifeless and lazily made, a weird anomaly among the tracks in the album. Usually, Wonder Girls can bring such energy to a song even if it’s not an uptempo beat. Here, it’s just unappealing how much talk-singing there is going on when we all know they can sing. Plus, towards the end, it just gets too repetitive.

[T] SuperB was really mechanical and not all that “pleasant” to listen to. The beat was cool for the first like, 30 seconds, but after that, it got really repetitive. There were sections where the vocals were really great, but for some reason, it sounded like the entire song was sung in monotone.

[C] Act Cool has the best English use in the album but otherwise, that’s the only good thing about this track. Whereas G.N.O’s mix of various different instrumentals worked perfectly, here it’s just jarring and quite distracting. I also don’t enjoy the weird bridge where they replaced the hiphop beat with the piano.

[T] This track left me thinking “Whaaaaa??”. Act Cool was fun and exciting, but just…weird. San-E is such a funny rapper in that he really let’s his personality shine through his music. I love how most of this song was just hilarious narrative (i.e. “Stop shushing me!” “I can rap in English”) And Hye Lim’s little rap is so cute in the beginning! Actually, all their raps are fun to listen to  🙂

[T] I like how the Ra.D’s remix of “Be My Baby” really gives the track a completely different vibe. The original was fun, loud, and filled with all these extra sound effects, but the remix tones it down a little bit. As a composer and musician, Ra.D tends to keep his music on the low-key, indie side of things. His remix of “Be My Baby” is more jazzy and mellow while incorporating a lot of cool-sounding acoustic instruments. I don’t like one version over the other, I think they each have their own great personalities.

[C]The last track of the album, Nu Shoes, is an addicting ode to, of all things, shoes. While it reminds me of Fergie’s similarly-themed “Mary Jane Shoes”, it’s so fun to listen to but I think they take it a little too seriously. They could have injected much more fun into the song but regardless, it’s a solid track, and a good finish to a splendid album.

[T] This song was so funny! The lyrics were hilarious and the beat was definitely catchy. I loved how flawless their English was and I can really see myself jamming to this with my friends. An amazing closing to the album.

 

[C] While there are two songs that downgraded the album for me, this is a great album to showcase the girls’ talents. The Wonder Girls are back, and they’re seriously going to bring the houses down this fall.

[T] I think as a whole, “Wonder World” is one of the best albums that came out this year. It also is one of the most radical comebacks I’ve seen. Before the album came out, I had some fears that the Wonder Girls wouldn’t be one the same playing field as all the 50 million girl groups debuting/coming back this fall. However, I’m now confident that the girls can beat the competition (yes, including SNSD). There was so much variety within this album which is always refreshing. I’m expecting the girls will have multiple wins on music shows so I’m definitely looking forward to their live performances!

Clarence’s rating: 4/5 stars

Temi’s rating: 4.6/5

Don’t forget to purchase the album on iTunes here!

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3 Responses to “[Album Review] Wonder Girls – “Wonder World” (****)”

  1. Kyanu9 November 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! I totally agree with the reviews, just listening to them sing 8. 두고두고 gave me “goose bumps” they have matured and improved so so much in their vocals and performance, I have to say I was shocked! A very impressive Album in deed, definitely buying their new album! Also, I can’t stop listening to “Nu Shoes” ! It’s so catchy and addictive. Well…. I think SNSD leader Taeyeon is saying ” WOW! these girls are amazing singers” we have our selves a competition here girls, lets get to work!

  2. Jlee November 9, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    Wonder Girls are back!! I definitely agree with your reviews! Me in is prob one of my favorite songs of their album. They sound stronger than ever!

  3. kooki January 24, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    Nu Shoes will be on their US debut album, that’s probably why it sounds so serious

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