- Let’s Play
- Minimanimo (instrumental)
- Let’s Play (instrumental)
J-pop fans, upon seeing a unit of 4 girls, one foreign, all under 153cm, wearing overalls and dancing in aegyo style, may be reminded of a certain H!P group. The 2nd single from K-pop hip-hop group Tiny-G is even named “Minimanimo,” which can’t be a coincidence.
Thankfully, “Minimanimo” borrows more from “I want candy” than “Telephone! Rin Rin Rin,” giving the group a funky, spirited sound that’s all their own. While it’s neither innovative nor artistically inspired, this track has earned more plays on my mp3 player than any other K-pop release of 2013. I’m a little embarrassed to say just how much I love this track.
Tiny-G consist of 4 members, J Min, Mint, Myung Ji, and Dohee. Since it’s K-pop, all members have specific roles: J Min does the bulk of the singing, Mint leads the dancing, Myung Ji is the rapper, and Dohee is cute. The four members also have radically different looks, with Mint evoking an urban theme, Myung Ji sporting the ‘tomboy orphan’ style, and J Min currently looking like a character escaped from Dr. Seuss. Judging by the comment sections of videos, Mint is by far the fan favorite, despite being from Thailand. That’s certainly a far cry from Minimoni where American Mika Todd was given different costumes and less screen time than her fellow group members.
The MV takes the short motif to a whole new level by presenting a shrunken world of dollhouses and school supplies for the members to play with. Costumes range from “preschool coal miners” to “attack of the patches,” all evoking the sickeningly cute theme.
Tiny-G are incredibly skilled hip-hop performers, and though “Minimanimo” is technically easier than their self-titled debut single, the members execute the moves with precision and style. So often “cute” dances substitute posing for substance, but Tiny-G include some intricate footwork that really brings the number to life. While their vocal performance skills are closer to KARA than to Brown Eyed Girls or SNSD, the group’s energy does a lot to make up for problems with breathing and pitch.
For “Minimanimo”, Rovin (who is the lyricist, arranger and composer) chose instrumentals featuring surf rock-inspired guitar, a snare drum and lots of off-beat handclaps. Only for the chorus and hook does the synth dominate the music. The result is a fresh sounding track that effectively combines retro instrumentals with a modern hip-hop sound.
Rovin’s skill may lie more in orchestration, however, as the lyrics leave a lot to be desired. I’m willing to blame some of the problem on translation, but if you aren’t at Samsung there’s no reason to ever say “cell phone battery” in English. Plus, it’s a strangely upbeat for a break-up track.
Why do I like this song so much? Well it might be…science. When Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” came out in 2008, it sparked a dance cover revolution on youtube. In particular, children as young as 2 or 3 were copying the dance moves and singing the lyrics. Scholars were actually interested in this phenomenon and concluded that the structure of the song, particularly the “call and response” configuration and the use of handclaps reflects the way children innately learn music. Tiny-G use both motifs widely here, meaning my preference for the song may just stem from having immature music tastes!
The coupling track, “Come Play,” loses the guitar, but keeps the synth and handclaps for a sound straight from 2NE1. For a track that’s basically chants and raps, it’s surprising how quickly it lost my interest. The chorus in particular falls apart under the weight of the instrumentals. It’s not a horrible track, just full of wasted potential.
Despite being highly pedigreed (perhaps even inbred, if we want to make those sort of height jokes), Tiny-G haven’t found great success in sales. The single debuted at #24 on the Mnet charts, and haven’t broken into the Billboard top 50. While I make no presumptions to understand the K-pop market, the instrumentals seems more fitting for a summer release. Rovin also produces tracks for Sistar, and I cannot help but think “Minimanimo” was a cast-off from their summer album Loving U.
Verdict: Tiny-G’s second effort is a pleasant enough hit, with earworm hooks and a peppy beat. Cue the angry comments from wota not reading past the 2nd paragraph.