GOT7 are the brand new rookie boy group under JYP Entertainment. This is their first mini album, which was released on January 20, 2014.
No strong feelings either way on this cover. I wish they’d put a little more effort into it, seeing as this is GOT7’s debut, but I’m sure that’ll come in later releases.
As the newest group to debut under the JYP label, GOT7 waste no time making their presence and stylistic focus known on 여보세요 (Yeoboseyo; Hello), a bass-heavy track with clear hip hop influence. The first time I heard this song, I was impressed by the rap skills of the rap line which, I believe, is comprised of Mark and Jackson, which is interesting to me because neither of them are native Koreans. I also really liked how the straight hip hop of the verses and chorus were balanced out by the softer, more R&B-led pre-chorus, seemingly in a nod to the gradual reemergence of R&B in the mainstream. This is a bold and forceful opening track that leaves me excited to hear the rest of the album.
The ending of 여보세요 leads straight into the beginning of GOT7’s debut single, Girls Girls Girls. This song follows in the spirit of its predecessor with a heavy hip hop beat and confident delivery on the vocal front, along with the amusingly, almost tauntingly cocky hook “Girls, girls, girls, they love me!” It’s somewhat funny to hear rookies sing a song that leaves so little to the imagination, but I think that’s exactly what the members of GOT7 and their management at JYP are getting at – a confident song with a lot of “swagger” (used loosely here) to contrast the group with their more sensitive peers. Whether you believe them or just get a chuckle at lines like “Every lady wants a piece of me,” you have to admit that the approach works in the boys’ favor here, for better or worse.
난 니가 좋아 (Nan niga joa; I like you) hasn’t received any special promotion since the boys of GOT7 debuted a few days ago, but it seems to be a fan favorite already, and I can see why. It’s a catchy tune with a fun soundbite bearing its title that loops throughout, and the members’ different strengths really get a chance to shine through here. The verses are quite rap-heavy but are dealt a degree of grace by the rappers of the group, who get to show off their rather impressive flow, and the choruses take a straight vocal approach that contrast the verses nicely. I wasn’t super impressed with this track upon the first listen, simply because it initially struck me as too similar to the other tracks I’d heard, but it has grown on me to a considerable degree since then and I now totally understand why it’s a favorite.
Despite this, the most rap-centric track on the mini is yet to come. 따라와 (Ttarawa; Follow me) consists almost entirely of rapping save for some short pre-chorus verses and a simple, almost nursery rhyme-esque chorus. I can definitely see why this track was chosen to be performed alongside Girls Girls Girls – because it’s the kind of hip-hop song that will really drive the focus of the group home – but I have to say it’s not exactly my favorite. If I had to put my finger on why, it’d probably be because there wasn’t quite enough vocal on it, which is kind of a shame.
However, all my vocal needs are met here in the penultimate track. Though all of the songs heretofore have been primarily hip hop-based with subdued nods to R&B, Like Oh actually takes on more of a club sound, which is totally all right by me. In fact, this is the first GOT7 track I listened to and the midtempo, vocally-oriented arrangement is what got me hooked. Though not missing the essential bass-heavy sound of the other tracks, the slowed down synth-centric instrumental brings a new flavor to the group’s (admittedly small) repertoire, and I really enjoyed this new dimension to their sound. The vocals on this track were great, particularly whenever the harmonies came in, and I also enjoyed the looping soundbite that played throughout this song. Along with the opener and the lead single, this is probably my favorite song from the album thus far.
Interesting that the producers of this album would choose the last slot to place the most downtempo, mellow song on the tracklist, when I feel the album could have probably used the tempo change a few tracks ago. In any case, Playground certainly slows things down quite a bit, and it’s an endearing effort for sure – they manage to incorporate vocals and rapping in more or less equal distribution and it suits the slower arrangement quite well. There’s nothing particularly outstanding about this track, but nonetheless it is fairly solid and closes the album off on a relaxing note.
Summary: It’s been a while since I cared about a rookie boy group – the debut of NU’EST, more specifically – so I guess you might call me a bit jaded when it comes to K-Pop nowadays. But hey, can you blame me when 20+ rookie groups debut each year? Anyway though, I’m not sure what compelled me to give GOT7 a chance, but whether it was intuition or merely giving in to hype, I’m totally glad I did. Here GOT7 have a pretty solid collection of songs that have effectively cemented their stylistic focus and sound, and since I’m a big fan of cohesiveness this goes a long way in my book. Furthermore, I appreciated how they managed to work in some genre diversity, but wish they could have worked it into the tracklist more subtly rather than just pushing them toward the end, or perhaps even added another non-purely-hip-hop track to spice things up even futher. In conclusion, I’m quite pleased with this new batch of rookies and am looking forward to what JYP might have cooking for them in the future.
Album Grade: A-
여보세요 | Girls Girls Girls | 난 니가 좋아 | Like Oh