KARA – “PANDORA” Review

26 08 2012

The music video for the title song of KARA’s 5th minialbum, PANDORA, has been released.  When the music video started the first time through, I thought this was going to be a really positive review, but by the end of that and definitely two watches through later… I’m not so sure.  There’s a lot that I love about “PANDORA”, but everything else… sucks.  If you haven’t seen the music video yet, I’d suggest watching it now before I rip into it.

Let’s start with some fluffy, feel-good bunnies.

The song is really catchy.  I was hooked pretty quickly.  Each member got a generally fair amount of solo lines, which was fantastic.  It’s obvious that KARA has been a bit Jpop-ized, in that the verses are member solos and the choruses are group parts.  Sure, they’ve been like that for a while, but it’s not the typical Kpop mold, so I can appreciate it.

Besides Nicole (more on that later), every member looked absolutely stunning the entire time.  Especially Jiyoung and her freaking amazing blue hair.  Not many people can pull off blue, let alone look smoking hot in it.  Speaking of Jiyoung, I was particularly impressed by her vocals.  Hara’s as well, for that matter.

We all know Seungyeon is my favorite member, so I was pretty excited to hear her doing the adlibs in this song.  And not hear Nicole do a) anything vocally challenging, b) doing adlibs, and c) giving us that awesome powerful rap that we saw in “STEP.”  Jiyoung’s rap was really improved from “STEP” as well.  I really couldn’t stop paying attention to her.

I thought the choreography was catchy.  It reminded me a lot of “Lupin”, especially with the outfits, but it was really… fluid?

Crap.  Who am I kidding, even that was painful.  I thought I was going to be able to find at least a few more paragraphs worth of good things to say about it.  I guess that means the time has come.  Sensitive KARA fans, turn away now.  And if you must read on, keep in mind KARA is one of my favorite Kpop groups.

I’ll start with the music video itself.  Who the hell is the guy at the beginning?

He’s in the opening for a couple of seconds and then we never see him again.  Now, if the music video had chosen to have anything to do with Pandora, his role would have made sense as Epimetheus.  But we can’t tell if he’s done anything to deserve the box, or really, that the box is anything bad.  Actually, it suggests just the opposite because KARA seems to be in the box, which I don’t know about you, but I think would be pretty awesome, not a world full of everything bad.  In fact, besides there being a box which a guy opens, this music video and song have absolutely nothing to do with Pandora at all.  In fact, they’re the opposite of what I would expect from a song called “Pandora.”  It should be about innocence and not being able to prevent the misfortunes that come upon a faithful, commited girl, and how she and her man stick together through it.  Instead the lyrics are about trapping a man inside the box to seduce him.  I mean… what?  Have the writers even read the story of Pandora or did they think it was just a cool name?  I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

And why is this chair the recurring theme of the music video?  What possible relevance does a circular swivel chair have? It’s one of the many absurd parts of this music video that hinder it much more than help it.

Then we have all of these bizarre sets that look like they belong in an SM video.  And what doesn’t look like SM property looks like, literally, the same sets used for “STEP” and their forgettable Japanese single “Speed Up.”  I feel like the exact same set from “Speed Up” was used–the streets, the rain, and oh, did you notice the phone booth makes an incredibly bizarre appearance here?  And the oddly-angled dance sequences with ridiculously bright flashing LED lights are back from “STEP.”


Speed Up 

STEP

Look familiar?  Unlike “STEP” where the bright colours were exciting and brilliant, “PANDORA” has a much darker setting, and the bright flashing lights are not only distracting, but visually dreadful.  They completely clash with the girls.  I mean, Jiyoung’s hair is blue, why is the background orange?  Speaking of orange,

Nicole, why, why is that on your head?!  If it wasn’t for this single absolutely hideous outfit, the girls’ visuals in this music video would be flawless.  For several minutes I tried really hard to pretend that Nicole isn’t mocking Islamic women here, but I can’t see it as anything else.  Even if it wasn’t… why on Earth would you make that styling choice?  “Oh, this has a draping neck line, let’s put in on my head! Teeheehee!”

While I really appreciated not hearing Nicole doing anything vocally demanding, I was rather disappointed at the lack of Gyuri.  She has like one and a half lines.  I’m not saying I would have rather her rapped, God no, but as much as I love Seungyeon getting tons of attention, it would have been nice to hear Gyuri at least during the adlibs on the final chorus.

I thought the outfits, while stunning, were just too similar to “Lupin.”  Sure, they aren’t wearing pants this time, but they’re wearing suits again.  You can’t tell me I’m the only one that thought the dances were incredibly similar.

The song itself the only unique part of this music video.  While I think it’s catchy and I liked it right away, I just don’t think this is an appropriate follow-up to “STEP.”  “STEP” was epic.  By far my favorite KARA song ever, and probably my favorite song of 2011.  It had all the key ingredients to make it phenomenal.  When I first heard it, I literally started jumping around dancing to it it was so good.  “PANDORA”, however, just doesn’t have that WOW factor.  Also a lot like “Lupin”, the song before it just completely overshadows it.

I feel that KARA just can’t stay consistent here.  They will do something REALLY AWESOME then give us really mediocre for a long time until they remind us that they’re REALLY AWESOME, but only for a minute until they’re superbly mediocre again.  Actually, if I could sum up “PANDORA” in one word, it would be mediocre.

Everything about it just seems so half-hearted.  It really feels like, especially with the rap, that KARA is just trying too hard to be like everyone else.  There are so many rookie groups these days, I understand trying to be relevant, but KARA has never been just like everyone else.  The rap just really made me feel that KARA is loosing their uniqueness.  Think about everything pre-“STEP.”  There were no raps, just powerful and sweet vocals with girls who knew how to work it.  I thought it worked in “STEP” as a one-time thing, but they really elongated the rap in “PANDORA”, and I feel like it’s just to fit in with all of the other girl groups.

Everything considered, I’m really disappointed with “PANDORA.”  I didn’t want to be, and I tried to like it, but in the end… it just really doesn’t do it for me.  What happened to the legendary group that released epic songs like “STEP” or “Mister” or “Honey?”

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