9Muses-Dolls

Release Date: January 25, 2013

Track Listing

  1. What Is Love?
  2. 돌스 (Dolls)
  3. 쳐다만 봐 (Just Looking)
  4. 돌스 (Dolls) (inst.)
  5. 쳐다만 봐 (inst.)

Review

9MUSES is a 9-member group of ‘Supermodel Idols’ under talent agency Star Empire Entertainment. As the group has been around since August 2010, they are already on their third comeback with the January 24 release of ‘Dolls.’ J-Pop fans may be most familiar with 9Muses for the recent micro-scandal that a few seconds of the Dolls MV took direct inspiration from AKB48‘s ‘Heavy Rotation’. It is an accurate observation, if not the abject scandal the wota-verse has concocted.

AKB48-Heavy Rotation

9Muses-Heavy Rotation

The rest of the MV sees the members divided into two-subgroups, a Fosse-inspired ‘Dark Muses’ and the soft and flowery ‘Light Muses’. The Dark Muses work the doorways of a night time street corner, while the Light Muses primp on a white couch in a room besieged with cardboard flowers. Despite rumors that the division would spawn separate releases, right now ‘subgroup designation’ appears to extend solely to the dress of the members. All 9 members share the floor for the dance shot, which showcases moves on the definitively sexy side of the K-Pop spectrum, despite taking place in a crash-test dummy warehouse. Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 5.20.51 AM

The song itself has a distinctive jazzy instrumental that gives the release a retro feel. For such an upbeat sound, it’s strange just how depressing the lyrics are. Though “Dolls” is at heart a song of longing, lyrics dwelling on the inevitability of heartbreak construct a particularly bleak picture. The vocal performance is exceptional, and after viewing a few live performances, doesn’t appear to be just a product of excellent post-production.

While I really love the rap interlude, it’s poorly layered within a busy instrumental and some accent vocals. However, that’s my one critique of an otherwise excellent track. The single opener, “What is Love,” functions largely to set the mood. It builds nicely to the opening swing beats in “Dolls,” but lacks much other substance.

The B-side, “Just Looking,” is a mid-tempo ballad that stands out thanks to the complex rhythm of the lyrics. The repetitive synth hook became obnoxious after a few listens, but it’s still a dynamic song that really showcases the members’ vocal talent. All together, this is a strong release for the group that’s making a big impression on the K-Pop charts and scoring lots of Western media coverage.

9Muses-Dolls

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Of course, if you’d rather just accent your pad, here’s the deer head that’s both Dark Muse and Light Muse-approved.