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It is f(x) month on my blog, and I would like to say, “Yes”. Yes, I’m obsessed with f(x). Notice the background…From Electric Shock, I began to like this group. But from Pink Tape, I fell in LOVE with this group. And so, I’m dedicating March to this fabulous group. If you want to know more about f(x), head on over to this page:
I want to take this time to review their most recent album, Pink Tape. Pink Tape was released July 29, 2013. So far, they have only had one music video for the song, “Rum Pum Pum Pum”, the first track on the album. So it’s a relatively new album. I’m a late fan. Let’s begin with a little artwork.
The album artwork focuses on a school-girl theme. According to an interview, they were trying to reverse time to “school-age” and the innocent feelings of love experienced at a young age. So photos are wistful, youthful, and romantic. In fact, many of the songs on the album have the same feeling to them. F(x) is known for being a quirky girl group, and as you know, I ❤ things that are quirky. This album has some pretty powerful tracks.
Back to the art, ahem…
The album cover is shaped like a pink tape…yes, a VHS tape cassette for all of you youngsters who don’t remember when VCRs were around. It gives the impression that this album will highlight more of a retro/vintage theme, and since this is supposed to be a flashback to “school-age” feelings, I think it’s fitting. What’s also noticeable is that there are five genres listed on the tape, and of the five, “romance” is checked off, as well as “Cult”.
What is “cult” genre?
It really isn’t just a cover, but a complete package. The package itself is worth buying, even if you don’t listen to the music, though it’s hard not to want to listen to this album! It’s so creative and decorative, I want to keep the whole package. It feels like a real VHS tape, though it’s made from a box. It looks like you can place this in a literal VCR. If this were a school project, it would get an A+. It is very detailed.
Inside is a lovely booklet full of pictures and words in English to describe the pictures.
This whole album is a true work of art.
Doesn’t this make the album all the more interesting? Many of these girls grew up in the 1990s (WOOT to ’90s kids), so having a VHS represent their “flashback” is awesome! Moving on to the music… f(x) is the only all-female K-pop group that can get away with trying an experimental sound and style. Even with fashion, they seem to naturally fit an edgier image. This is why they have been called the female SHINee (a popular all-boy Korean band). This album is no exception. Once again, f(x) is bringing us fresh sounds and images. They always stay very true to their name. The “x” in f(x) can be various numbers in mathematical terms. For their group, they have always had a variety of different sounds. A fan of f(x) put it nicely on youtube…
f(cute)-Chu, 1,2,3, and Hot Summer
f(sexy)-Chocolate Love and Mr. Boogie
f(powerful)-Nu Abo and Electric Shock
f(meaningful)-Beautiful Good-bye and Beautiful Stranger
Those are just some examples of how various they have been in style and image. Many K-pop female groups only grasp one of the above concepts successfully. Pink Tape truly has an “international” feeling to it. There are many songs that draw inspiration from Asia, Europe, and North America. The following Review is for newcomers to the group. If you haven’t been exposed to them yet, perhaps this can give you a preview of what to expect.
1) Rum Pum Pum Pum Honestly, this isn’t the best this album has to offer, though this song is pretty good. Possibly, I feel this way because I have heard it over and over. Still, from the first listen, it had to grow on me. This song seems to be inspired from Indian Bollywood music styles, mixed with a military-style background here and there. The English title is “First Wisdom Tooth”. This song is using wisdom teeth symbolically. The lyrics seem to focus on the wisdom they have now (in their 20s) versus their thinking when they were younger. They mentioned that this song is comparing the first love with the first wisdom tooth. This is a good first track lyric-wise, considering all of the album photos and the cover. It’s a bit playful, sexy, edgy…everything mixed in one song. It sounds a bit disarranged, and yet, it still sounds pretty good.
2) Shadow Shadow is the next song. This seems to be a favorite of Krystal’s, as she recommended it in an interview. Shadow has a mysterious, wistful, and yet whimsical feeling to it (yep, this is one of the “wistful” songs). There is a sense of longing in the tone. The voices are kept soft as a whisper, much like the quietness of a shadow. Amber’s and Luna’s vocals are well-suited to this song. Amber has a soft, low, melodic voice. Luna has a voice that is adaptable; it can be soft and lovely, and powerful as well. This song brought out the charm in the girls’ vocal abilities. The harmony is amazing. The lyrics are also quite interesting. It is about a shadow falling in love with it’s owner. It is a very sad song. The shadow gets out-shined by the mirror all the time, though it quietly follows it’s owner around faithfully. This can really relate to life. I would really like to see a video, though an Art film for this song was released.
This song was said to be misinterpreted as representing a stalker, which a shadow basically is…
The eerie tone makes this a very unique gem in K-pop.
3) Pretty Girl Honestly, one of the most powerful tracks on this album. This song has a Nu Abo feeling to it. It is edgy and full of “attitude”. This song has an urban, hip-hop feeling. Amber’s rap segment is stunning and very true to her personality. The lyrics are ironic. They wouldn’t be anything special in the USA, but in Korea, the lyrics stands out. The song is about a pretty girl who seems to be “all-that”, seems to get away with everything, and seems to have the perfect prince on her arm. This is made negative in this song. She’s the “trophy girl” and f(x) are represented by the girls who are considered “wicked” and not so pretty. I’m drawn to this song, and I relate to it strongly. If they ever debut in the USA, this song could pull through.
4) Kick Another powerful pop urban track. This is like a “cheerleader” song. It is upbeat, catchy, and energetic. The lyrics focus on the energy and strength of the girls. The song seems focused on the energy of the day. This mirrors, to me, the events that took place on Amazing f(x), because of the courage and strength they displayed in that show. It’s an encouraging song. The song also follows the girls in their daily life. It’s definitely a song that stays on REPEAT. Amber seems to have had a heavy hand in this song. It seems to focus on the experience of being on a skateboard…
This is a favorite of Victoria’s.
5) Signal Signal has a retro disco feeling to it. The song focuses on sending a signal to the person you want to notice you. It is very symbolic. It sounds like a 1970’s version of space music. This song is charming and unique. The chorus is very powerful. The vocals for the verses are soft. It’s a very mature song, and it doesn’t have the same youth many of the other songs have.
6) Step This song is one of the best on the album. It’s a good dance number. It could probably be up there with the Cha Cha Slide, the Cuban Shuffle, Wobble, or Gangnam Style…though usually men are given the honors of having a step-dancing song blow up internationally. This song is catchy, fun, and makes you want to dance. This is inspired from Latin dance music. It’s more evident in the verses. The lyrics focus on the girls leaving in a hurry, and so they have to be very casual and comfortable. I can get the feeling they are trying to tell us about their busy life…
It’s hard being a working celebrity, having to look pretty, and still running from place to place! This song is a favorite of mine.
Wikipedia mentions that the song is about a young woman trying to overcome obstacles, and the title, ‘Step’, is to show us that this modern woman is taking “steps to overcome these obstacles”.
Shinee’s Jonghyun stated that this song “best describes f(x)”, and I believe he’s right. F(x) are “on-the-go” types, not the prissy girls you might usually see in K-pop.
Sulli seems to like this song best, according to an interview.
7) Good-bye Summer This song is said to have been written by Amber and a friend of hers. The song is a lovely, wistful ballad. It also has that feeling of “longing”. This song never gets old. It focuses on a person who secretly likes their friend in high school, but never got the chance to tell the person. The unsaid words leave the person “friend-zoned”. So, after graduation, it’s “Good-bye Summer”. I personally love and relate to this song. In fact, many people may be able to relate to this song. My only qualm with the song is that Amber doesn’t sing in this song at all. And this is her song! I heard her sing it in English, and though I love Luna and Krystal, I would’ve loved to hear Amber’s soft, angelic voice on this track, especially considering she had a hand in it’s creation. I was a little disappointed in that way. Another thing that irks me is that Sulli and Victoria are not included in this song. Otherwise, the song is amazing. D.O.’s contribution showed a new side to him. He did a great job in making this song lovable.
This is, of course, one of Amber’s favorite songs on the album.
8) Airplane This song is also dreamy and wistful. This is a dance-electronic pop song. It is very similar to the popular songs made by Zedd or the ones you might hear on a Japanese anime. It is very beautiful. The composition is well-done. It also suits the vocals of all the girls well. Sulli particularly stood out in this song. The lyrics compare love to an airplane, and focus on how fleeting love can be.
Luna seems to favor this song the most on the album.
9) Toy This song has a Euro-pop feeling to it. It reminds me of songs that the French singer Lorie might sing or the Spanish singer Belinda might have sung back in the day. The lyrics are very interesting. It focuses on not feeling like a toy, and not dressing or acting a certain way to please someone. This song is truly about f(x) being outside of the box. They truly are a unique addition to the pop world. They are very experimental. This song is upbeat and catchy.
10) No More This song is the most interesting when it comes to the lyrics. It focuses on a friend who seems to change every time she falls in love. She changes everything she is to get a man, and then cries when they break up. She cries to her friends one minute, and then quickly finds another lover. She jumps from relationship to relationship, and shows no signs of slowing down. Really good song. The song melody sounds like something from the 1950’s. It’s another one with a vintage sound. It’s so catchy and girly, the lyrics took me off-guard. But I guess that’s the nature of the quirky f(x). This song is great.
11) Snapshot A bit of Fred Astaire’s “Putting on a Ritz” mixed with some ragtime…and Amber speaking French! This song is definitely one of the quirkiest. It has a show tunes feeling about it. But of course, the chorus transitions into the pop song it is. It’s definitely one the more unique songs. The title is pretty self-explanatory. It’s photo-shoot geared, and mixed with wanting to look perfect, but finding the natural look to feel better. Really interesting song. Really charming song.
12) Ending Page In my opinion, the best song on this album. In fact, this deserves a music video and it needs to arrive in the USA. It has the “Rihanna-music” sound, though with better vocals. This is a powerful ballad. Truly an impressive song vocally. Everyone does their best vocally in this song. Finally, everyone has a part to play in this song! The instrumental is amazing, with just the right beat and melody to make this one of f(x)’s best songs ever, actually. It’s fitting that it’s called “Ending Page” because it is the last song. This song focuses on the story of love, and the mystery of the final outcome of the story. It’s hard to grasp the full meaning of the song, but it’s a beautiful piece of art, that’s for sure. This song is very different from any I’ve heard in Korea. I really hope they shake up the K-pop world with this as their music video, and maybe, this is just their ticket into the USA.
Overall, I give the album a 10/10. A variety of different songs, beautiful vocals conveyed on many songs, different emotions, charming, with a few quirks here and there, and one of Korea’s best albums out. Many different styles are conveyed in this album, as in albums before, but this time, vocals are better, songs are more meaningful, expressive, interesting, and the sound is appealing to a wide-range of audiences. The songs seem more personal and seem to reflect the group. There is an aura of improvement that I sense with this album. Hard work was put into it. The packaging is artistic, as well as the music. This album, in fact, conveys what a true musical artist should be about. Way to go f(x), you did great with this one. This is a high-quality product from the presentation, to the “movie-scene” arrangement, down to the expressive music. Definitely worth the price. Don’t download this album, buy the hard copy. You can only appreciate this album when it’s physically in your hand. Have a listen
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the album or the review!
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