Album Review: 4Minute’s 4th Mini-Album ‘Name is 4Minute’ (2013)

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Sorry if the title is confusing, but let me explain. This is a review of KPOP artist 4Minute, an all girl band composed by five members (Nam Ji-hyun, Heo Ga-yoon, Jeon Ji-yoon, Kim Hyun-a, Kwon So-hyun). Their 4th mini-album happens to be called Name is 4Minute. So when you combine all those things together there’s a lot of fours and minutes and that’s why it might get a bit difficult to keep up. Oddly enough even though they’re called 4Minute none of their songs actually lasts exactly four minutes (yes, I looked it up) and they’re a five piece formation, so the name remains a mystery to me. However the lovely ladies you can see in the pretty picture above are one of the hottest bands in South Korea right now, getting a lot of attention and selling a lot of records. Don’t let that picture fool you, they might look sweet and innocent, but most of their videos are very sexy and not just for Korean standards. 

How does one even get to a band like 4Minute? Well, that’s easy. Do you remember last year’s smash hit Gangnam Style by PSY? Did you know there were two versions of the video? One of those versions stars Hyun-a, member of 4Minute and Troublemaker. She doesn’t actually sing in that clip, but who can forget her hot dance moves? Not me. That’s why I googled her and found out that she also made some mini-albums of her own. Since then I pretty much became obsessed with KPOP and all the idols, which I find a fascinating phenomenon of Asian youth culture. Anyway, long story short: I discovered 4Minute and while their music is enjoyable enough, it’s their videos I feel mostly attracted to. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I can’t resist these young ladies’ charms. Seriously, Ga-yoon has the most beautiful eyes ever; but we’re here to talk music. So let’s talk about Name is 4Minute.

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The mini-album (or I guess we can call it EP) starts off with What’s My Name, the usual kick ass intro track, characteristic of every contemporary KPOP recording artist. The good news is that it’s the perfect song to begin your record with. The bad news is that it’s all downhill from here for Name is 4Minute. It doesn’t get any better than this. Unfortunately, these introductory pieces are shorter than normal songs, so What’s My Name is only 1:19 and ends with a rough truncation to give way to What’s Your Name? (이름이 뭐예요?). Again, these titles might be very confusing and the lyrics don’t help either.

I just love that the fist track goes: “4Minute / What’s my name? / What’s my name? / Wha-wha-what’s my name?”. It’s like they’re giving us the answer first and then asking the questions. And then the What’s Your Name (the second song) begins and it’s a guy’s voice sensuously whispering “4Minute” and then So-hyun asking “What’s your name? / Wha-wha-what’s your name?” and Hyun-a replying “4Minute(s)” (oddly enough I hear an s sound in there, though there shouldn’t be one). All that to give you an idea of the depth and originality of the lyrics.

Of course when you watch the candy colored, shiny and sexy glossy video clip for the song you forget about everything else, but when you just have the song spinning on your iPod, it’s a different story. Still, What’s Your Name is a song I enjoy a lot and play a lot, just because it’s so catchy. It’s also the one song where Ga-yoon gets to sing the most and that’s my favorite part of both the song and video. Whatever the third track on the album, is not as good as What’s Your Name, but still enjoyable. The sound and feel are a bit passé, but for some reason it’s still one you can listen to, unlike the last track Domino, which is just intolerable.

Before Domino, however there’s Gimme That, a painfully average song. In fact it sounds like something out of the early 2000s. It’s very generic and doesn’t have an ounce of originality and yet it’s still better than Domino. Maybe if my Korean was better I would get a kick out of the word play there seems to be in this song (I understand “domino” is the alliteration of a Korean word, but I’m not sure what), but other than that I really don’t know what they were thinking. It’s also such a bad song to close off the album. It ends in a rather abrupt fashion and it just leaves you wondering like “What the fuck was that?”. It’s also weird to note how all the songs on this album are upbeat (“party songs”) usually there’s at least one ballad in every mini-album, but not here.

I tend to like slower, quieter songs and they help counterbalance the album and make it more varied. Now of course there are some great albums that only have fast songs and never slow or calm down, so that’s not a real complaint on my side. I’m just a bit perplexed, because especially with commercial artists or “marketing creations” like KPOP idol groups, they follow these unwritten protocols to the tee. In any case, when all is said and done Name is 4Minute is not really a good mini-album. It starts off epic, with a few very promising tracks, but then slowly decays into boring mainstream dance-pop we’ve heard a million times before (and better). So as much as I like these beautiful young women I can only really recommend the first two songs of Name is 4Minute.

Rating After Repeat Listenings: 6 out of 10  

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