I had a friend who once described T-ara’s Roly Poly as an extremely “happy song”. She’s far from being a K-Pop stan but the said timeless classic really gets to her. Whenever I can sneak in the song to our office playlist, we’d get up and follow its choreography for a brief amount of time and then get back to work. Roly Poly was like our mini energy pill to help us get through a rather boring day or a shift when deadlines are eating us up. (Come to think of it, I played a lot of K-Pop in our office of non-fans back then! My impact!!!)
I’m not surprised though, Roly Poly is one of the catchiest songs that the genre has to offer. It helps that it’s a “hook” song or a track filled with catchy element(s) that listeners get fixated to. In the case of Roly Poly, there’s a ton of them: the intro, the chorus, the dance break instrumental, the easy-to-follow choreo– all of these stick to people who listen to the song or watch the MV. This explains why Roly Poly is still as enjoyable as it was eight years ago.
Most of the credit given to infallible hook songs like Roly Poly actually goes to Shinsadong Tiger – the group’s longtime producer and the force behind some of the catchiest tunes delivered by other K-Pop acts in the industry. S. Tiger’s strength for me is his references and how he evokes those infectious elements to his tracks while making sure that it fits to what the public is currently vibin’. Take Roly Poly for example – the shout-outs to disco music and culture mixed with K-Pop saccharine is a killer combination. He’s done this to other tracks from which highly reference movements such as funk, electronica, EDM, flamenco among many others.
In retrospect, K-Pop’s affinity to hook songs and references to camp has made the genre really enjoyable if you ask me. Unfortunately, with K-Pop songs and groups getting global attention the past few years, most tracks nowadays always feel the responsibility to sound like anything or close to whatever Top 40 tracks are in the US radio now. We’ve all heard countless trap, trop house, and future bass K-Pop songs in the last 3 or 4 years, right?
This is why I appreciate S. Tiger for still bringing in the good ol’ K-Pop flavor and sound to the table now as if we’re still in 2008. I can’t put it into words but just think of how non-fans would say that K-Pop songs from 2nd gen groups sound “cheesy” back then. Yes, that sound. And it’s for that reason that I am so obsessed with Woowa, the latest track that he made for DIA (which happens to be T-ara’s former labelmates. Coincidence? I think not).
“Woowa” tips its hat off to techo music which was dominant in the early to late 90s. Think of rave parties. Darude – Sandstorm. The Mortal Kombat Theme Song. Dance Dance Revolution. Again, S. Tiger and his references!! It also helps that DIA went on with a (I hate saying this but for a lack of better term) “girl crush” visual to the whole thing relatable to younger audiences. Imagine all these intense 90s party vibes just to be called “girl crush”?! My heart is breaking!!!
Anyone who played Mortal Kombat or saw the live-action movie would know why Woowa is awfully familiar!
It’s undeniable that the T-ara influence is extremely strong in Woowa, particularly on their upbeat tracks (a mutual in Twitter made it clear that T-ara is not all bout dance-y tracks which is true because they have gorgeous ballads as well). And just like what I said earlier, these old T-ara songs bring out a lot of bliss and infectious, careless energy which brings me to this argument.
With all the dirty laundry about the K-Pop industry being thrown in front of all us (the dirtiest even as these people are categorically criminals and sexual offenders), it only makes sense that K-Pop diverts us back to those tunes that made us feel giddy and happy for no reason at all. It may sound a little escapist but that’s what makes pop culture and in a broader sense, that’s the power of music. I’m sure you’d like to get past all this crap flooding our timelines because good lord, that’s what I want. Perhaps the rest of the whole fandom deserve that so that is why it’s good to see DIA fill the gap.
What are your thoughts about DIA’s Woowa? Let me know so that we can discuss.