Cosmic Girls has returned with a bright concept! Being pretty new, the rookie group has yet to land on a solid image. So far they’ve had cutesy debut “Mo Mo Mo,” sexy “Catch Me,” and the ethereal “Secret.” The latter was one of my favorite releases of 2016, so I was excited to see what they brought to the table. I’ll try my best not to compare the two too much, but it’s going to be really difficult.
If you’d like to know more about what I look at in my reviews, click here.
*SPOILERS!* These reviews assume the reader has listened to the song or watched the music videos.
Current concept: Cute (Not as cutesy as “Mo Mo Mo,” more on the refreshing side)
Music: Glorious Faces, Yang Gaeng, Jinli, Long Candy
This song is super cute and energetic. You can almost taste the sweetness, especially with touches like the flute in the beginning and end. They’ve chosen to showcase the girls who have softer and higher-pitched vocals (Yeonjung, Soobin, Dayoung, and Seola), which gives it a very youthful feel. The percussion kicks up the energy a notch and thankfully keeps it from being too saccharine. There’s enough variation between soft verses and bouncy choruses, but in terms of energy there isn’t really a whole lot of change or build. Yeonjung has some softer ad-libs rather than a killer high note. But even if the song stays on one level throughout, it’s a pretty energetic level. Exy’s rap verse is pretty small here, but rapping doesn’t really suit the song. Any more than what she did would have disrupted the flow. Overall, I found this a very pleasant song to listen to. My biggest problem is that it’s hard to tell most of the girls’ voices apart, because I do like hearing some variety in the vocal tone. But that just might be a pitfall of having thirteen members.
Lyrics: Glorious Faces, Seo Jieum, Yang Gaeng, Jinli, Long Candy, Exy
As you might have gathered from the cute and upbeat feel of the song, “I Wish” is about a girl’s feelings in a new relationship. There’s a lot of talk of flower petals and walking on flower roads and trembling in the presence of their object of affection, etc. etc. Exy has a line that’s something like, “Every day is a dream on this road built by your love.” As a adult in her mid-twenties who’s been through some stuff, I would say that this is a very optimistic and adolescent way of looking at love. This is probably how I would describe my first relationship when I was sixteen years old. But there’s nothing wrong with that! The girls are teenagers themselves, and their target audience is probably teenagers too. There are some interesting metaphors and images in their lyrics, but I wish that there were more – especially since the music video is so image-heavy.
According to the above video, Yeonjung basically carries this song. If you count all of the ad libs, she’s responsible for about 1/4 of it. This could partially be because she’s still I.O.I and Starship is trying to take advantage. But I think it’s also because she has the range and power that most of the vocal line currently lacks. Soobin, Seola, and Dayoung also get a bunch of lines, which makes sense because they fit the concept quite well. Because of this, Dawon’s parts are significantly smaller – which is a little surprising given that she competed on Girl Spirit. However, this is probably more because she isn’t as cutesy and doesn’t fit the concept as well. She has a richer voice that is good for belting like in “Secret.”
Cheng Xiao is currently the face of the group because she’s been getting a lot of attention lately. She gets a good part of the chorus, which is a pretty smart way to use her. Bona, who I believe is one of the visuals if not the visual, gets some good lines as well. Most of the other members only have one or two parts. It is quite a large group so even line distribution is difficult, but I think that they could still do a little better.
The choreography kind of reminds me of the dances that you do when you play “Just Dance.” The moves are very repetitive, with a little bit of a Jazzercise feel. There’s a lot of step-touch, the mashed potato, peppy walking, etc. There’s also an insane amount of footwork. The girls are always moving, and it feels just a tad too busy at times. But the choreography is definitely bouncy and energetic, and everything is purposefully done with a lighter touch to look cuter. It’s not personally my favorite, but it is well-suited to the song and the concept.
CENTER AND FORMATIONS
One thing I love about WJSN is their formations. Whoever their choreographer is really knows how to well utilize all thirteen girls, and they also understand that all thirteen members don’t have to be moving at once. This allows a lot of formations with fewer members, and more variety. It really helps elevate the quality of the dance. I did say that the dance itself is pretty busy, but the transitions are really well thought out. Though it’s high energy, the whole thing looks very natural. The girls never look like they’re doing things just for the sole purpose of creating a cool formation.
As for the center, it appears that it generally goes to who ever is singing their part. So I guess the center for this song is Yeonjung. Cheng Xiao also gets some center time as the main dancer and face of the group. If it was a smaller group, you would want your main dancer or your dance line to really anchor the dance or the key points. But given that there are so many girls, it’s kind of nice to see them constantly changing positions and not having a standout center. I’m a little salty that my favorite Mei Qi isn’t featured more prominently like in “Secret,” but I think it’s because she’s also filming a movie in China.
I am so here for this music video. It’s so colorful and out there and delightful. Although the aesthetic itself is different from “Secret,” the style is the same (they’re both even set in widescreen). It appears that we’re still on the same planet, or at least one that’s very similar. And a lot of the groupings are similar : Xuan Yi/Mei Qi, Dayoung/Soobin, Eunseo/Cheng Xiao, Seola/Exy, etc. It sometimes feels like “I Wish” could be a continuation of “Secret.” If it is, I wish they could be clearer about it. But unlike “Secret,” which was about the girls welcoming Yeonjung, there seems to be less of a story. It’s mostly just fun and games (literally). But given the out-of-place lantern lighting at the end, it could also be about friendship.
The whole music video is a color trip. It’s basically like watching Lisa Frank come to life, and I love it. The color scheme is all pastels with an emphasis on pink, which is probably why I like it so much. (Yes, I’m 26 years old and my favorite color is pink) Add in the Game Boy’s, the blinged out flip phones, the stencils, and the chat windows, and it’s like a super colorful version of my childhood. Oh, and there are unicorns! It’s so interesting because they use so many retro things, but they do so in a futuristic way. It’s such a visual treat, and you know it from the very first frame.
Here’s where I really have the issue. “I Wish” as a song and dance are pretty cute, but not overly so. Without considering the outfits, I’d say we’re more in the territory of “refreshing.” I absolutely love the clothes the girls sport in the music video, since it adds to the whole retro concept and makes it interesting. It was inspired from Japanese fairy kei fashion, which just fits so perfectly. But in the teasers and all of the promotions that I’ve seen, the girls are sporting school uniforms. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, especially when you’re going for a youthful concept. However, they push the concept firmly into straight-up cute territory, whereas the music video was fresh and funky. It’s just such a shame that they don’t use the music video outfits, because it would help them stand out.
That being said, the style suits the girls very well. It doesn’t really fit Dawon or Exy (especially with Exy’s short hair), but there are so many of them that it isn’t really a problem.
STYLE MVP: Seola. That fur coat is so psychedelic, but she looks so elegant.
RUNNER(S) UP: Mei Qi and Xuan Yi for their unicorn outfits. It’s not fashionable per se, but they’re just so precious.
LINE DISTRIBUTION : 7
CENTER AND FORMATIONS: 8
MUSIC VIDEO: 19
CONCLUSION: For me, “Secret” was so great that it’s a tough act to follow. It was just so strong on all fronts and it was such a solid concept. Take that and add my general ambivalence towards cute concepts, and “I Wish” is just naturally going to suffer in my eyes. There’s nothing majorly wrong with it, but I just don’t think that the group really built on what they had previously established. If you take the song and the music video together, there’s a lot of promise. It’s pretty different from “Secret,” but close enough that they could be companions. They’re on their way to creating a signature sound.
The problem is that they chose to promote it in a way that does nothing for them, primarily through the fashion and somewhat through the dance. Everything that’s interesting and unique about it is gone, and it’s just “cute.” The reason that I’m taking such issue with it is because I really don’t want them to be lost among all of the other girl groups who are pushing similar products.I really like WJSN and I think they have so much potential. They already have quality music, so I wish (haha) that they would keep on pushing their unique aesthetic!
Sources: Youtube, Starship Entertainment, Cutesy King (www.cutesykink.co.uk)