I got a beef with “I Got A Boy”
The feels that I have about this release are many, but most of them are fairly incoherent and illogical…so for the sake of preserving my reputation as an intelligent human being capable of speaking in full sentences, I’ll keep this short.1
I think that the only real way to enjoy this song without being sidetracked by the fact that it’s not actually a song is by watching SNSD perform it live. This isn’t to say that SNSD has done a better job performing “I Got A Boy” than they have with any other song, nor is it to say that SNSD’s performance skill is just so high that it cancels out the shittiness of the song. But think about it: there is precisely one thing that we can always count on SM to do well: live performances. Conversely, there is precisely one thing that we can never count on SM to do well: music. SM has produced a lot of shitty music, but a lot of this music became salvageable by way of their artists’ live performance skills (see: “Catch Me,” “A-Cha,” “Chu“), and “I Got A Boy” is just the latest example of this.
It makes you really wonder if SM produces music solely on the grounds of whether or not it would make for a good live performance — which, honestly, isn’t a bad idea given that SM’s roster is composed of some of the strongest live performers in the industry. But this is no excuse to produce sloppy music — not in an age when the music industry actually still cares about music, and especially not when you’re pushing your album at literally every Western entertainment media outlet in existence and wink-wink-nudge-nudge-ing your way to a kiss-ass review on Billboard.
What makes this release so frustrating is that there’s so much that could’ve gone right. All the ingredients necessary for an awesome, ground-breaking release were there, but when it all came together, it just seemed as if everything was just tossed into a blender and left to die. The song is an earsore: the individual components of the song don’t compliment each other at all and the transitions are lazy and sloppy. It literally sounds as if they took the choruses of three different songs, designated one as the verse, one as the chorus, and one as the bridge…and then packed up all their stuff and went home. THIS IS NOT HOW YOU WRITE A SONG. I mean, maybe there’s some sort of method to the madness that none of us mere plebeians understand, but this is pop music. As pop music producers, SM’s job is to make the masses happy. And honestly, how is a song that’s as messy as “I Got A Boy” supposed to satisfy anyone?
All of this is just another way of saying that I am Disappointed with a capital D. The teaser for “I Got A Boy” definitely caught me by the nose, and this was a single that I really, really wanted to love. And yes, there are definitely parts of the song and the concept that I can say I love with no reservations, but as a whole, the execution of “I Got A Boy” sucked. And execution is what matters. No one cares if you bought a really nice lingonberry jam from your composers in Sweden for a couple thousand bucks if that jam’s going to be mixed with some canned sardines and a week-old egg salad.
If this were any other group, this song would have fallen off my radar the moment I heard Jessica “bring it back to 140.” But I think the main reason why I’m still agonizing over this song is because I like SNSD a lot and I want them to do awesome stuff. “I Got A Boy” was the cool, hip concept that I’ve wanted SNSD to tackle since forever…but now that they’ve got it, is a song like “I Got A Boy” really the only thing that they have to show for it? Like, you give them awesome choreography, you style them to look fly as shit….and then you give them that song? Tell me — tell me! — how I’m not supposed to be disappointed. (Never mind the fact that the lyrics to the song are pretty much the least feminist thing to ever see daylight in this century. That’s just insulting on a whole other level.)
The one redeeming thing about this release is the choreography, which is perhaps why the live performances of “I Got A Boy” still manage to be fairly tolerable. It’s probably the most challenging material that SNSD has ever gotten — the song doesn’t stop moving (for better or for worse) and, obviously, neither does the choreo. What’s really worth noting is the fact that even during their comeback stage, SNSD performed the song without a single hitch as if they’d been pulling off this kind of choreography for years. And ain’t that the sad truth? There’s no doubt in my mind that SNSD has the skills to do some really impressive stuff on stage, and they’ve probably had those skills for quite some time. But their material never, ever, ever does their abilities justice. The same could be said for virtually every other SM artist. SM has groomed some of the most well-disciplined and skilled performers of this generation, but SM rarely gives their artists material that will allow them to truly shine.2
Gah. You’d think that after three years, two lawsuits, and a six-CD set of bad music, I’d have run out of reasons to be frustrated with SM. But nope.
2The best example of this is EXO — these guys were the cream of SM’s trainee crop, and the group itself underwent years of research and development before that first teaser even surfaced. And what do they get as a debut track? The shitfest that is “Mama.” SIGH.