Random Shuffle Review: Wonder Girls – Be My Baby
With over 3,000 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.
The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!
Year Released: 2011
The year was 2011 and it seemed that Wonder Girls may be the first K-pop group to “break the States.” After all, they’d already scored a top-100 Billboard hit (the first K-pop act to do so!). An English-language album was teased, a TV-movie was filmed, and promotional activities were in full swing. It seems almost quaint now, but groups like this don’t get the credit they deserve for laying the groundwork that helped this current K-pop generation expand their overseas presence. Of course, that full English album never materialized, their TeenNick movie came and went, and the group continued to find their greatest success with a domestic fanbase.
Be My Baby was a big Korean comeback, slotted a few months before that movie and nearly two years after member Sunmi took her hiatus. It remains the group’s highest-selling single, and an iconic song within their repertoire. Produced by agency-head Park Jinyoung, the track does a great job blending their signature retro sound with the energetic electropop that was hot at the time.
I feel like I’ve been complaining about K-pop melody often lately – particularly when it comes to girl group songs. Be My Baby suffers none of this, as every segment pulses with a well-constructed hookiness. The verses have a wonderful throwback quality, riding that distorted synth beat with a playful melody that swoops and glides toward the rhythmic pre-chorus. The central hook is a big sing-along. It traces the same lines as the energetic synth that opens the track. Sometimes I wish the production felt a little sharper here (it’s very 2011!), but it’s hard to argue with the song’s overall effect. An exciting rap carries us toward a dynamic final-chorus key change, amping the energy as Be My Baby takes a deserved victory lap. There may be several Wonder Girls singles I enjoy more, but this is iconic for a reason!