Album Review: Girls’ Generation – “Oh!”

Tracklist:
1. Oh!
2. Show! Show! Show!
3. 뻔& Fun (Sweet Talking Baby)
4. 영원히 너와 꿈꾸고 싶다 (Forever) (Yeongwonhi neowa kkumkkugo sipda; I want to dream with you forever)
5. 웃자 (Be Happy) (Utja; Let’s laugh)
6. 화성인 바이러스 (Boys & Girls) (feat. Key of SHINee) (Hwaseongin baireoseu; Martian virus)
7. 카라멜 커피 (Talk To Me) (Karamel keopi; Caramel coffee)
8. 별별별 (✩✭✩) (Byeol byeol byeol; Star star star)
9. 무조건 해피엔딩 (Stick Wit U) (Mujogeon haepi ending; Unconditional happy ending)
10. 좋은 일만 생각하기 (Day By Day) (Joheun ilman saenggakhagi; Thinking only of the good days)
11. Gee
12. 소원을 말해봐 (Genie) (Sowoneul malhaebwa; Tell me your wish)

This is Girls’ Generation’s second-full length album, which was released on January 28, 2009 and sold 30,000 copies on its first day.

I still don’t get what the concept of this cover is supposed to be. Is it, like, eclectic-chic or something? I dunno. It kind of reminds me of f(x)’s Chu~♡ cover, which I didn’t like so much.

~

Girls’ Generation, or SNSD as I’ll be referring to them for the rest of this review for brevity’s sake, are a virtual tour-de-force in the K-Pop world because of their consistently strong kickoff singles. Oh!, the title track of SNSD’s second full-length album, is no exception. Musically, there is nothing about this song that isn’t high quality – the electronic arrangement, the masterfully crafted chorus, even the girls’ somewhat mediocre vocals sound glossy and pleasant. No intermittent blips, bleeps or hiccups – everything is just catchy. As a fangirl, I loved it. I still love it. And yes, I do think it matches Gee and Genie in catchiness. It’s that good.

There’s barely a second between the end of Oh! and the beginning of Show! Show! Show!, the second single from the album. Show!x3 takes on a heavier electronic sounds, with some pretty serious synths in there. The lyrics are pure sugar, but the disco-esque feel isn’t bad at all. It isn’t until Jessica and Tiffany’s speaking parts that things get weird. “If you wanna be my boy,” they coo, “I’m gonna be with you forever, and more.” The creep level is over 9,000. But I have to say, this was a pretty good choice for a second single. I really dig it.

뻔 & Fun (Sweet Talking Baby) is the first song to be kind of all over the place. It was bound to happen eventually, but so soon? The music jumps from classical, to Oriential, to full-blown pop all in the first 15 seconds or so. After that, it’s straight-up pop with little actual substance. Conclusion: obvious filler track is obvious.

For 영원히 너와 꿈꾸고 싶다 (Forever), there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that the verses are pure stereotypical K-Pop ballad. Make of that what you will. The good news? The chorus is a sweeping, beautiful change with lush harmonies and uplifting strings – the works, basically. When SNSD’s ballads deliver, they really deliver.

Oh, Lord. Next we have the lump of contained aural chaos that is 자 (Be Happy), a hot mess in every sense of the phrase. From beginning to end, this song is an attack on the eardrums, with so much going on at all times that it quite literally becomes frustrating to listen to. To spare both you and I from any further ramblings on the horror of this song, let me just say that I do not recommend it, and I can’t ever see myself recommending it at any time in the future. For shame, SNSD.

화상인 바이러스 (Boys & Girls) is not nearly as bad, thank God. It’s actually pretty catchy. The electronic sound isn’t abandoned completely, but the music opts for a 60’s-inspired rock sound, with a brief cameo from Key of SHINee (who’s so heavily Auto-Tuned anyway, it really could be anyone singing). The filler continues on with this song, but it’s a massive step up from the previous track.

On a fangirly note, the title of 카라멜 커피 (Talk To Me), which means “caramel coffee,” automatically reminded me of the drama Coffee Prince.😄 But anyway! I have to say, I really liked the laid back coffee house (pun not intended, really I swear) acoustic feeling of this song. It’s a well-appreciated break from the overwhelmingly electronic sound we’ve been hearing so far. The vocals are really nice too.

Despite its impossible-to-type-without-copypasta title, 별별별 (✩✭✩) is one of the best damn songs off of this album, and I’ll tell you why. For starters, YoonA’s speaking part at the beginning. I have no idea what she’s saying, but it’s an instant attention-grabber. Then there’s the song itself, and the vocals that come with it. This is why K-Pop is so popular, people, and if it’s not, it should be. I’m talking grade-A ballad material. All of the girls are spot on with their sections, and the result is one awesome ballad.

More filler. Yay. Not. 무조건 해피엔딩 is really nothing special, except it has a kind of 8-bit sound. That’s about it. There’s a real lack of anything special or any kind of “wow” factor in this song, in my opinion, so I’d skip this one if I were you.

좋은 일만 생각하기 is an upbeat track. It’s got some nice acoustic instruments in there, which I pretty much always like. The music kind of sounds like something from an RPG game – you know, when you’re just walking around and you’re not fighting anyone? Yeah. That’s kind of the feeling I got from this song. Good background music.

What’s there to say that hasn’t already been said about Gee? It’s pretty much the song of SNSD’s career, and it is the catchiest of all the catchy songs. Really. To know Gee is to understand the essence of a group like Girls’ Generation – cute, feminine, bouncy, and just plain fun. I challenge you to listen to this song and not get it stuck in your head.

소원을 말해봐 (Genie) is yet another testament to what a truly well-produced single can be. This song, like Gee and Oh!, is a piece of pop perfection (haha, alliteration). Every note of synthesizer, every beat of kick drum and every sweetly crooned lyric come together to create a symphony of what contemporary pop music should be. Oh, and Taeyeon’s part – there’s a reason this girl is was leader, this girl can sing. Gladly, this song helps round out the album on a high note. Literally.

Summary: After listening to this whole album, I can make one definite observation: it has some great highs, but also some serious lows. The mish-mosh of musical influences and styles are, to be honest, quite distracting, and when the album gets bad, it gets really, really bad. The singles themselves are the most high-quality songs on the album and definitely make it worth listening, and the filler is, for the most part, bearable and even pleasant. I can’t bring myself to totally denounce this album because I did like it, but I also feel like Girls’ Generation could afford to find a bit more core and cohesiveness to their sound as a group.

Album Grade: B

 

7 thoughts on “Album Review: Girls’ Generation – “Oh!”

  1. I agree with you about the wide variety of styles in this album being distracting. I guess it happens with sophomore albums sometimes. Its kind of when the artist(s) tries to break out and explore new genres.

  2. I agree with everything you said! I reviewed the album when it first came out and wondered if maybe I judged it too harshly but reading your made me realize it wasn’t just me, truthfully that ‘Happy’ song made me wanna punch something lol.

  3. finally review with a substance. i’ve read some reviews and most just say “this is good, next song is bad” -_- we dont need review like that.

  4. I love this review i really do feel that the songs are mostly all very catchy but i also like how the flow wasn’t constant i like those types of albums. But i really don’t think that SNSD have mediocre vocals maybe you’re referring to the song oh! itself but i actually think that Taeyeon, Tiffany, Jessica,Sunny, Seohyun have really amazing vocals its just my opinion since i like watching them do special stages and sing alone so that i can actually see who’s good and not but then again this is what i think.

    • Thank you for this thoughtful comment! I am, actually, quite aware that several SNSD members sing very well individually. I was only referring to the fact that “Oh!” is not exactly the best song for showcasing those talents. However, my favorite song by them is “Into the New World” because the solos in that song allow for much more high-quality singing.🙂

  5. i feel funny. it’s like i’m the only one among snsd listeners who actually LIKE no scratch that….LOVE that Be Happy song. for real. i ask my sone friends and most of them say they dislike this song. but to me, it’s so annoyingly happy that it makes me smile and laugh when i actually feel like cutting my wrists or something. i think this song fulfills their stereotype of ‘cheerleader song’ haha. and i meant that with no disrespect. maybe i’m just a super freaky hyper person by nature that’s why i LOVE that song, but srsly singalong to this when you feel like dying it’ll make you wanna slap a person silly and give em a bear hug. lol.

    but i agree with most of your reviews. i especially hated that oriental song. really gave me a headache with that one. other than that, a B-rate album fosho.

    “be happy~ HEYY!!!!” lol.

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