On “Run Devil Run”

Girls Generation/SNSD is one of the most popular girl groups in Korea. Their unique brand of kpop has resulted in some of the catchiest pop tunes in recent kpop memory, including Gee, one of the best songs of two years ago, Genie, and most recently, Oh!, which was the carrier single of their second CD. (Cathy, by the way, got me that CD because it’s now available here, and let me tell you, SM Entertainment has done it again. Terrific job; many songs on this CD are keepers. My favorite is Track 9.)

SNSD recently released a new digital single titled Run Devil Run. When Cathy first told me about the title, my first impression was this: “Well, that’s an odd title for a KPop song.” After logging onto YouTube, I then realized – being one of the last people to know, lol – that Run Devil Run was SNSD’s take on an English song; SM Entertainment bought the rights to a song that was apparently recorded – but not released – by American singer Kesha, who hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 a few weeks back with Tik Tok.

This isn’t the first time that SM Entertainment has purchased songs originally written in another language, had it rewritten in Korean, and released it to the KPop marketplace; Super Junior’s U, for instance, was originally a song titled Thinking ‘Bout U Girl, co-written by Liberty X’s Kevin Simm. Nothing as high-profile as Kesha, however, seems to have been released as a single, especially by a supergroup like Girls Generation, so the Netizen community is abuzz with 1) whose version is better; and 2) how dare SM Entertainment buy this kind of song and have SNSD release it? (The general sentiment is, “If Kesha didn’t think this song was good enough to release on Animal, what makes SM Entertainment think it’s good enough for SNSD?)

My take on it is this: Run Devil Run is a slow burn. The first few listens didn’t work it for me. Even after seeing the smoking hot video, it didn’t work. But it’s a catchy song – my initial impression was “Hello, Britney Spears? Yeah, one of your songs circa 2002 kinda landed in the hands of some folks from Korea.” – and I think given a few more listens, it may get better for me. I felt similarly about Oh!, so hopefully Run Devil Run will do it for me.

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