KOYOTE: 1999

By Paris365 on February 11, 2014

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Release Date

1/27/14

Genre

K-Pop

Label

KT Music

Koyote really baffles me. You have the girl, Shin Ji, who's the lead vocalist, but she's the only original member still in the group. The guys come and go. I know it's largely due to the mandatory military service for Korean men, but, still, it surprises me that a group with regularly changing members can remain so popular. Actually, it seems like Koyote only gets more popular every time they change members. Maybe that's the secret to their success? They change one of the guys and that gets media attention and that triggers sales. Who knows. Maybe they remain so popular because Shin Ji always seems to sincerely enjoy what she's doing, bursting with a contagious sort of happiness. And, of course, she's cute. And she's a decent singer. Not a great singer, but not horrible either.

Koyote continues to baffle me with their latest release, the mini-album 1999. Or at least the title track baffles me. Mostly because of the video. In it, they're clearly trying to be retro, wearing old clothes and stuff. But, here's the thing, the clothes they're wearing looks way more like '80's clothes than anything you would have seen in 1999. I don't think there's a single article of clothing worn in that video that anyone would have been caught dead wearing in 1999. Seriously. It makes me wonder if Korea was so behind the times in 1999 that they were still wearing clothes we wore in 1985? Although that doesn't seem very logical because the internet was around by then and even if people didn't all have it in their homes yet the young people certainly would have used it whenever possible and they would have seen what the rest of the world was wearing. So, there's no way they'd wear that stuff if nobody was wearing it in the rest of the world. And here's the other thing -- even if the clothes are supposed to be '80's clothes, it's really bad '80's clothes that nobody hip would have been wearing. If I would have worn any of those outfits to school in the '80's I would have gotten my ass kicked. Literally. (Then again, I was always bullied regardless of what I wore, unfortunately.) But, enough about the video. How's the song? It's kind of ridiculous. Especially in the beginning when the guys are saying "1999" and stuff. You can't tell if they're making a joke of it or if they're dead serious. I suppose it would be funnier -- in that unintentional way -- if they're actually being serious about it. I read a translation and it's basically a skit where a DJ is debating whether or not to play something by this new co-ed group called Koyote. Well, obviously, he ends up playing it. But it does not sound anything like 1999. The beats sound slightly retro, but not *that* retro. Fortunately, they're catchy and the song proves to have an infectious melody as well. But it's still super cheesy. The lyrics -- I'm basing this on the translation I read, obviously -- are as lame as Rebecca Black's "Friday." Here's a sample: "A piece of gum, pencil cases, colored pencils (superman)." Seriously? And then there are all these references to winter. "I want to go back to that winter," etc. So, the lyrics bounce back and forth between being a nostalgic song about 1999 and a nostalgic song about being a teenager during this particular winter, which we can assume is 1999. But the lyrics about that winter are as silly as the lyrics about pencil cases. My final verdict? The song is catchy enough that it will probably be a big hit, but I think it'll be one of those bubblegum pop hits that everyone gets sick of very, very quickly. And now that I've probably given the song more thought than whoever wrote those lyrics I shall move on to the rest of the mini-album...

Track two is a bouncy song called "너까지 왜그래" (What Happened To You). The funny thing is, it actually sounds a lot more like something out of 1999 than their song "1999." It's not a bad mid-tempo pop song though. You can certainly dance to the beats and Shin Ji's voice sounds especially pretty. As for the guys, one of them does a rap verse and it sounds good. I couldn't find a translation of this song, so I have no idea if the lyrics are tacky, but he sounds good delivering them, meaning he flows well and doesn't sound cocky or silly.

Up next is "눈이 내려와 ." Google translates it as "Eyes Down," but the English title I've seen everywhere is "It's Snowing." Which makes sense because one of the other songs is called "After Winter" and "1999" has all of those references to winter. Which will probably help sell the mini-album, since they're releasing it in the middle of winter. In any case, it's a solid, fun K-Pop tune. It doesn't sound futuristic or especially well-produced, but it's definitely not bad. I'd give it a B - if I gave letter grades to songs. (But I don't do that because I think critics should explain why they like or don't like something, rather than giving it a letter grade. Because when you give letter grades, people pay far more attention to those than to what you write. They'll say "Entertainment Weekly gave it an A +" and things like that. Maybe if they didn't give it the letter grade the person would have read the review and could say something the critic said about it. But I'm the idiot who just broke my own rule and gave a letter grade, so I digress.)

"안아줘요" results in "Snuggle" via Google translate, but the English title I've seen is "Hug Me." Of all the songs on the mini-album, this one sounds the most retro. The drum machine they use could seriously be from 1995. But it's pretty darn irresistible so I would have to say that the retro factor works in their favor here. It sounds out-dated, but you assume that's deliberate, making it a nice homage to pop of the past.

The last song before the instrumental version of the title track is "이 겨울이 가도 ," which people are calling "After Winter." I don't know what the lyrics are, but it seems like a good idea to wrap up a mini-album with a winter theme with a song called "After Winter," so they're probably quite fitting. There's a bit of a retro vibe here, too, but the bigger beats have enough kick to them to make the song sound modern even if the rest of the percussion sounds like the same drum machine from 1995 that they probably used on the previous track. The song does have a problem though: Shin Ji strains the hell out of her voice singing the part at the beginning, which I guess I would call an intro, though it's as long as a verse (it repeats as an outro later). Her voice sounds so strained that she sounds like a six year old girl singing. But then later there's a part where it sounds like she's trying to sound like a little kid on purpose so maybe that's what's happening in the intro/outro, too. But why the hell would she do that? Is she trying to sound the way she would have sounded in 1999? With Koyote, anything is possible. -Michael McCarthy

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