Sonamoo Comeback Review: “I Think I Love You”

It seems like many international K-Pop fans have at least one group that they feel is underrated and want others to stan. There are a lot of under-appreciated groups in this competitive industry and they all deserve attention, but I think that Sonamoo really needs a lot of love.  Some groups are more popular in Korea and some are more popular internationally, but I almost never see anyone talking about Sonamoo.  It’s such a shame.

The girls have started off the new year with a comeback and a catchy dance track, maintaining the bright and cheery image they had with “I Like You Too Much.” I think these girls are very talented, and I was anticipating this comeback.

If you want to know more about what I look at in my reviews, click here.

*WARNING!* This review assumes the reader has either heard the song and/or watched the music video!

Concept: Cute, bright, cheerful (Debut concept: hip hop, edgy)

SONG

This song was produced by Hyuk Shin, who has created hits like SNSD’s “I Got a Boy,” EXO’s “Growl,” Vixx’s “Voodoo Doll,”  and most recently AOA’s “Bing Bing.” Similar to these other tracks, “I Think I Love You” is very catchy and has a lot of potential.  The energy is high-level from the siren blaring at the start, and the steady clapping beat keeps the rhythm going.  The song is primarily driven by the percussion and the electric guitar, giving it a bit of a swing style.  It’s a song that’s easy to clap along when you listen to it.

The girls confidently sing and rap during the verses, but make the vocals slightly softer during the chorus.  While it’s mostly cheery and peppy, there are some nice soft moments – like Euijin’s “Come to me, give it to me.” It progresses nicely, following the same structure as their last single “I Like You Too Much.” (Catchy beginning, verse, chorus, verse, bridge where everyone sings and jumps around, final chorus with High.D’s high notes).

My one big issue is that sometimes it tries to push things to the cute side, especially with the rap. NewSun is the high tone rapper so it’s okay for her, but D.ana is the low tone rapper.  It kind of bothered me that she had to rap in this higher pitched cutesy voice, especially since they let her keep her low tone for “I Like You Too Much” and it worked.

SCORE: 18/20

LYRICS

The lyrics speak of a young woman falling in love, with all of the unfamiliar but fun feelings that come with it. They sing confidently of having all eyes on them and being all grown up, wanting to keep their feelings hidden.  They’re not ready and they keep pushing the boy away, while imploring him to do something to reel them in.  Apparently this “something” is to “melt [them] with those sweet eyes,” because by the end of the last chorus the girls are more ready to admit that they’re in love.  Nahyun goes from saying “It’s a secret” to “I’ll tell you everything.” It’s fun to see a kind of “story” progress throughout the song, and it’s very relatable.

SCORE: 8/10

LINE DISTRIBUTION

If you count the high notes and ad libs, High.D ends up having the biggest percentage of the song.  However, Minjae has more actual lines – perhaps because of her recent appearance on Girl Spirit. (Side note: 4 groups who had members on Girl Spirit are currently promoting!) Euijin finds herself comfortably in the middle with a good amount of lines and a center position. NewSun and D.ana have two rap verses each. Sumin and Nahyun are both at the bottom – like most title tracks, they end up mostly shouting out a bunch of English parts.  This time however, Sumin ends up with more lines than Nahyun.  This is nice because Nahyun is the visual and lead dancer, so it helps even out things a little more.  If you put the line distribution and the dance formations together, everything ends up being pretty fair.

One thing that I did think was weird was how they split the chorus.  Minjae had the first half, and then the four other vocalists each got a line (or maybe half a line) from the other half.  I think it would have made more sense to just alternate.  For example, have Minjae and Euijin do the first chorus and High.D and Sumin do the second.

SCORE: 8/10

CHOREOGRAPHY

I always look forward to Sonamoo’s choreography.  They’re all really good dancers, and their stuff is pretty close to Red Velvet and Gfriend’s level.  I enjoyed “I Like You Too Much,” which struck a nice balance between dynamic and cutesy.  I think they were going for the same thing here, but it fell short a bit. Maybe it’s because “I Think I Love You” is faster or more, but the choreography just seems so busy.  There’s a lot of bouncing and shimmying, and their arms are moving around so much it sometimes looks like flailing. My dance teacher used to tell us about “hand candy,” which is her expression for using a lot of unnecessary hand gestures that distract from the overall look.  This choreography is full of it: finger guns, finger hearts, blowing kisses, you name it. A bunch of aegyo in an already busy song is hard to handle. I find that the dance is at its best when they have clean and simple movements.

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Though I do find the dance overly cutesy and a bit repetitive (they do the same bouncy move at least six times), I will give them points for executing such a fast-paced dance so flawlessly.  I hope that some show asks them to do a 2x speed dance, because it would be awesome to watch them kill it. Also, while they’re generally going in a cuter brighter direction, some of their moves do remind me of their early work like “Cushion” – especially in Euijin’s part.

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SCORE: 15/20

CENTER AND FORMATIONS

Honestly, there are so many formation changes that I couldn’t even keep track of them all – and I watched the dance video at least five times in a row!  These ladies are dancing pros, and everything they do seems natural. Their previous tracks generally showcased the dance line as center, but this one does a good job of highlighting the other members as well.  No one member is continually stuck in the back. They do, however, keep their standard formula of main dancer Eunjin centering the chorus and visual/lead dancer Nahyun opening and ending the song.

SCORE: 9/10

MUSIC VIDEO

*SPOILERS AHEAD!*

The story of this music video is a little confusing.  The girls start out as dolls or mannequins abandoned in an alleyway, but they drop that pretty quickly.  There’s a vending machine that will give them some handsome boy mannequin, but they need a heart from a stuffed bunny first. They all try to find a heart individually to claim the mannequin for themselves and fight over stuffed bunnies in random locations – only to discover that NewSun already beat them to it.  Naturally, they end things by ripping the mannequin apart Cinderella-style.

It’s fun, colorful, and well-edited. There’s a really nice balance of story and performance, and the color palette does look girly and romantic. However, it doesn’t really do anything to help establish their image.  While the song is strong and bright, it’s not inherently cute.  The music video pushes it way into cutesy territory.  It’s nice to see the girls be adorable, but there are so many girl groups these days that have variations of this idea.  Given that it is a love song, maybe it would have served them better to have a story centered around a real male love interest, not a mannequin.  There was so much in the lyrics that would have given a solid story.

SCORE: 14/20

STYLING:

I’m a huge fan of the vintage outfits that the girls are sporting for the main storyline.  Each one seems to fit the member and her personality well, especially Sumin’s.

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However, I don’t really like the uniforms with hearts that they keep using for their promotions.  Again, it makes them more cute looking than they need to be and it takes away from the song.  Their pink and white outfits are on the more feminine side, and would be a better choice.

Like other girl groups currently promoting, Sonamoo has decided to keep natural-looking hair colors.  They’ve also chosen to make their look more uniform by all having long hair.  For the most part it works, but I can tell that NewSun and D.ana have hair extensions in some cases.  But maybe this is because I knew that they were sporting short hair over the summer.

STYLE MVP: Nahyun

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FINAL TALLY

Song: 18/20

Lyrics: 8/10

Line Distribution: 8/10

Choreography: 15/20

Center and Formations: 9/10

Music Video: 14/20

Style: 7/10

TOTAL: 79

CONCLUSION: Sonamoo recently said that they prefer their new brighter image to their earlier hip hop concepts. I do agree that this suits them better, but I wish that they were able to retain some of their edgier sound. “I Like You Too Much” and “I Think I Love You” are supposed to have similar concepts, but they end up being opposites. “I Like You Too Much” sounds very cute but looks more dynamic in the performance. “I Think I Love You” sounds more dynamic but is marketed as cute.

The song is so great.  The more I listen to it, the more I like it. But the aegyo-filled video and heart costumes are overkill. K-Pop should be about the music first and foremost, but unfortunately visuals (execution, not looks) are a huge aspect of the industry.  There’s a big chance that when people see this they might dismiss it as another cute girl group.  It hurts all the more because I liked Sonamoo for their original concept.  If they keep going with the trend, it’s going to get harder and harder for them to stand out.  I personally think a concept like girl crush (ex. “Whatta Man” by I.O.I.) would be the perfect middle ground for them.  I hope that they keep putting out quality music and that they will be able to find an image that better matches their sound.

Sources: Youtube, TS Entertainment, Allkpop

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