Super Junior, “Sexy Free and Single”

Oh, Super Junior, you hot mess.

You beautiful hot mess.

Korea’s reigning mega-multi-member boy band idol group, Super Junior, has released Sexy, Free and Single, the carrier single off its sixth studio album of the same title, and my initial reaction was this:

What on earth is this?

Don’t get me wrong. Super Junior’s electronica-laced dance tracks have always been a little repetitive (addictive brain candy), and the vocal layering that group members Yesung, Kyuhyun, and Ryeowook pop into every carrier single helps raise the bar – or at least match it – to make Super Junior one of South Korea’s most popular and enduring musical acts.

Sexy Free and Single is arguably the least stellar of all their carriers. And that’s saying a lot. We’re talking about a discography that produced the WTF moment that was Knock Out and the dance-meets-rock marriage that was Don’t Don. SM Entertainment has scraped the barrel with Sexy Free and Single. This is the kind of material they give one of the strongest Hallyu exports of the past five years?

What’s wrong with this song? Let’s see. A melody that consists of generally monotone notes, as well as unforgivable, laughable Engrish. When you listen to the chorus, you think you’re hearing Sexy free and single, I’m ready to mingle.” That makes sense. That’s awesome. But get this, the chorus line is actually “Sexy free and single, I’m ready too – BINGO!”

What on Earth?

I’m so sure Sexy Free and Single will grow on me as all the Super Junior carriers have, and I’m still a card-carrying ELF, as SuJu fans are known, but this song is ludicrous. It makes the vanilla carrier Mr. Simple sound like Rolling in the Deep fabulous. It makes the staccato monotony of Bonamana sound like the brilliance of Mozart.

I shudder to think that the days of Sorry Sorry are far behind them. You could put Sexy Free and Single in the hands of any other K-Pop group, and it will not – NOT! – go to number one, I am 100% confident. It is a testament to the sheer power of Korean and international ELFs if Sexy Free and Single goes to number one.

And SM Entertainment believes that Sexy Free and Single is THE song to pit Super Junior up against YG Entertainment’s 2NE1, the fierce female foursome that gave us I Am the Best, 2011’s best-selling song of the year? Is SM Entertainment out of its mind??

Then there’s the Sexy Free and Single MV, which leaves me speechless. SME clearly spent a lot of money for the video’s special effects, but the video itself is as vapid and colorless as all its previous videos. In contrast to the exquisite material produced by YG Entertainment for its marquee act, Big Bang, whose elaborate special effects and to-die-for makeup and costumes are matched by each video’s clearly thought-out plot, Super Junior’s videos are really nothing more than showcases for the members to preen before their legions of fans.

If YG’s objective is for the videos to communicate a message complementary to the message of the song, perhaps SM Entertainment’s goal is really just to produce something flashy. Lord knows they spent an arm and a leg for the breathtaking video for EXO’s Mama, which basically just confused the world; now that SuJu has a budget again, they’ve decided to scrimp on the plot and basically just show off each member in pretty showcases, with Matrix-like camera effects and more costumes that looked like the members took a detour at the neighborhood junkyard and created some haute couture with whatever they could find.

I am Choi Siwon. Feast your eyes on my gorgeous abs. Then let me tell you about Jesus.

For the first time in SuJu history, Siwon does not get the introductory vocal. (That’s a joke.) But we still get Siwon in his half-naked glory, because, as he himself puts it, when he starts off a song, it’s a hit. Which is why I wonder why they didn’t stick to the vocal formula but kept it for the video. Exactly how much pimping of my fellow Christian does SM Entertainment intend to do?

My name is Donghae. Let's party tonight. You can call me Oppa, since my hair has brought my mojo back.

Donghae actually kicks off the song. Not a bad choice, because Donghae’s arguably the second-most popular of the SuJu boys, Asia region-wise, and he’s easy on the eyes. However, live performances of his digital single, Oppa Oppa, together with fellow SuJu member Eunhyuk, showcased that his vocals are overrated (he lipsynced most of their performances). I’m glad he has his hair back.

I'm Eunhyuk. I bring the dance explosions to Seoul and, apparently, Cairo.

Eunhyuk gets the award for most improved SuJu member. He’s really risen up the ranks, and is now one of the most important members of the group. The dance explosions, the rap, and the humor make him a great triple-threat. Now all I need to know is why they decided to style him like Tutankhamun.

My name is Kyuhyun, and my magnificent voice is magnified fifteen times by this blown-out tire on my neck.

As one of Super Junior’s three lead vocalists, Kyuhyun’s vocals have always been magnificent. He continues to shine in this song, and I’m just curious what’s up with the costume.

I'm Sungmin. I used to be kinda twinky, but now I'm uber-namja, especially with the dog collar that I've turned into my own classy crown of thorns!

Sungmin is right behind Eunhyuk for most improved member, with forays into acting and singing. I just don’t like him blond.

I'm Ryeowook. Y'all thought I was the resident twink, but now you think differently because I've got abs and the moves like Jagger.

Kim Ryeowook is my favorite SuJu member. After the unforgettable, newsmaking glory of the Eternal Maknae’s performance of Maroon5’s Moves like Jagger, Korea looked at the SuJu member in a whole new light.

I'm Leeteuk, Super Junior's leader, Kang Sora's husband, and next-in-line to the Super Junior throne of half-nakedness, right after Pastor Siwon.

Super Junior leader Leeteuk has been getting a lot of flak for promoting his personal activities outside of the group, but hey, a guy’s gotta stock up on his options before he enters the military.

I'm Yesung, and I love to belt. And this is what I look like without awesome hair and smoky eye makeup. I'm a hunkier Ryeowook.

Yesung’s impendin military enlistment also looms over the group, which terrifies me because Yesung is the strongest vocalist in the entire band.

Hello, I'm Kangin! Two years in the military, and I'm still as chunky as ever, and I bear a passing resemblance to Senator BongBong Marcos!

Kangin’s back! So happy!

Anyonghaseyo, I'm Shindong. I have white and pink hair, and I have two seconds of solo time in the entire video. SM Entertainment doesn't give a flying rat's ass about me.

Then there’s Shindong, who received all of two seconds of solo time in the entire Sexy Free and Single video. It’s fat discrimination, I tell you! Even Kangin, who came back after two years of compulsive military service, received far fewer air time than, say, Siwon or Eunhyuk.

So what does this all mean? Video is fun, song is okay, comeback will be fierce, but end of day, as an ELF, y’all know I’m going to support Super Junior. But if SM keeps this up, the odds are good that the group’s relevance will one day come to a bitter close. Let’s see if it starts with this. The Super Junior-2NE1 war starts two weeks from now.

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