8:02 am - 01/06/2013

'I Got a Boy' delivers a scattered anthem of the Girls' Generation

Critic's Notebook: In this age of short attention spans comes 'I Got a Boy' by Girls' Generation, a gleefully chaotic song that says much about pop music's trajectory.

Girls' Generation perform "I Got a Boy."(YouTube)
By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic

January 4, 2013, 5:44 p.m.

The new single by South Korean pop group Girls' Generation is called "I Got a Boy," and if the song and its accompanying music video are a signal about pop's direction in the year to come, we better buckle our seat belts.

Clocking in at 41/2 minutes, "I Got a Boy" travels in so many directions that it feels like a scattering of musical miniatures cleverly puzzled together by M.C. Escher. As seen in the equally tripped out video, the nine women who are Girls' Generation have delivered something as wonderfully weird as their outfits — skimpy, multi-colored and mismatched — and as strange and structurally progressive as anything in the current commercial pop realm.
Hopefully this is a portent. A few similarly ridiculous tracks released of late suggest this may be the case. A day after "I Got a Boy" dropped on Tuesday, young rapper Azealia Banks released "BBD," a jam nearly as twisted, if more linear. In a tweet announcing its arrival, Banks described the song by referencing a few different pop/EDM/hip-hop subgenres: "It's Trap, but it's Rave. it's Banjee, But still a lil classy." On Soundcloud, she tagged its genre as "witch-hop." It's everything at once, a beautiful mess.

Both reflect the kitchen-sink, short-attention-span present. In the case of "I Got a Boy," impatient bursts of synthetic melodies, hooks, bridges, breaks and bass drops change every eight or 16 bars in drastic directions, as though Katy Perry/Kesha producer Dr. Luke were trying to make a modern-day "Bohemian Rhapsody." These rhythmic explosions are connected by choruses that arrive with surprise and glee, part of an addled impatience permeating chunks of global culture. The song, built around a set of conversations among a girl and her friends, has already been viewed on YouTube more than 15 million times.

The first time I heard "I Got a Boy," nothing fit together. It boomed and banged, but felt scattered, a mini-mixtape. In the middle, in fact, the song abruptly stops, and one group member says, "Hey, yo, stop! Let me put it down another way." The track goes into double-time, as though the DJ had just dropped a hot new track into the mix. This new component becomes an avenue in the maze.

When it clicked after repeated listens, I felt like I'd finished a crossword puzzle. It was produced by Soo Man Lee and written by K-pop hitmaker Yoo Young-jin along with the group's longtime Norwegian collaborators Dsign Music, who produced the more traditionally constructed track "Beep Beep" for Girls' Generation in 2012.

Recent dance pop hits by Rihanna, Carly Rae Jepsen and Lady Gaga have relied more conservatively on the joy of expectations met, delivering streamlined groove tracks that wobble and weave along a single path, modern but still remaining true to the same verse-chorus-verse structure that's reigned for half a century. "I Got a Boy" travels wherever it wants, like a willful 2-year-old in a McDonald's Playplace.

This is in stark contrast to last year's breakout South Korean megahit, Psy's "Gangnam Style," both of which feature lyrics sung mostly in Korean, with a smattering of English woven in. The two songs share a sense of whimsy, of celebrating in artificial, cartoon-colored playgrounds. "Gangnam," however, is nothing if not relentless, single-mindedly focused on the same galloping rhythm.

Though less chaotic than "I Got a Boy," Banks on "BBD" is restless, and understands the demands of a current-day track. The Harlem-born rapper, 21, rose through social media and YouTube, ultimately signing with Interscope Records. She's become one of the most discussed new voices of the past few years. The arrival of "BBD" is teasing the release of her debut full length, "Broke With Expensive Taste," which arrives on Feb. 12.

Such fractured magnetism shouldn't come as a surprise. You can hear it in the angular bombast of American dubstep, in which the structural warbles and around-the-corner hooks and breakdowns suggest a kind of sonic cubism. Ellie Goulding's 2012 song "Bittersweet," though softer and more nuanced, has a similar trait. The Skrillex-produced track has a shattered feel to it, with delicate, colorful melodies and rhythms that can't seem to make up their mind. Justin Bieber's "Beauty and a Beat," is similarly choppy, featuring the already obligatory bass-drop and many rhythms jumping in and out.

Why the structural dissonance? I think it is, in part, the consequence of an instant-access, on-demand era, one in which shuffle and channel-click entertainment choices have altered the relationship between medium and listener. Whereas a generation ago choosing music meant committing to a decision — I'll listen to this CD or single and when it's done I'll put on the next one — listeners now jump moment by moment, YouTubing from clip to clip, file to file. After hearing a melody and a verse, most can predict what will happen over the rest of a pop song — one reason why sample-happy DJs thrive by mixing in hundreds of tracks over the course of a set.

Granted, pop is nothing if not impatient, constantly looking for the most creative new portal into the public's ear. During the heyday of hit radio, the need to hook a listener in a song's brief first moments dictated quick, catchy introductions, lest an itchy car-radio finger hit another preset button.

In the click-and-play present, though, when an Internet-connected mind hears a new song, it's usually while on a computer where, chances are, her mind will soon start wandering. With infinite options a click away, many aural Roman candles must be fired to sustain interest for four whole minutes. It's tough, after all, to focus through a full song when a cat video, text message, Tweet, Facebook post or — OMG! — an even better cat video is screaming for attention. "I Got a Boy," more than any pop single in recent memory, seems to appreciate this, and adapts to such impatience accordingly.


Source: Los Angeles Times

thanks to eishastan for sharing the link to the article.

so anyone want to talk about the azealia banks/angel haze beef?
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frequency 6th-Jan-2013 01:02 am (UTC)
Both reflect the kitchen-sink

my kitchen sink sounds better than this tho
ullielvidina 6th-Jan-2013 01:11 am (UTC)
Modern Day Bohemian Rhapsody? I prefer the classic day of Bohemian Rhapsody anytime!
yesungholic 6th-Jan-2013 02:22 am (UTC)
odd_fish_stick 6th-Jan-2013 01:13 am (UTC)
My problem isnt with this crappy song, it's with the album, I Got A Filler.
tha_x 6th-Jan-2013 02:19 am (UTC)
keeleym 6th-Jan-2013 01:16 am (UTC)
I still see nothing wrong with IGAB, I liked it from the moment I heard it. I'm also sick of people saying "you only like it cause you're a delusional Sone", F that. I like what I like no matter who it's from, even if I personally dislike a singer I still am capable of liking their songs (ex: Bieber, C Brown). Even if I wasn't a Sone I would still like it.

This promotional cycle is really testing me, I've been so tempted to start dragging folks on forums but I don't wanna be banned. LOL
flumes 6th-Jan-2013 01:17 am (UTC)
lol sones
flumes 6th-Jan-2013 01:17 am (UTC)
lord have mercy this is long and im not reading all of it smdh just bc it's bad doesnt mean u cant like it. and just cos u like it doesn't mean it's not bad.

a damn noisy cacophonic mess (this album)

that being said the song actually does rock bc it's so terrible

Edited at 2013-01-06 01:18 am (UTC)
stephantasm 6th-Jan-2013 01:19 am (UTC)
SM must be handing out bonuses to whoever can publish all these lies...
flumes 6th-Jan-2013 01:24 am (UTC)
they should consult me im delusional enough to make me believe it and write a convincing dissertation on why snsd is the kpop game's savior
rocketjenny 6th-Jan-2013 01:19 am (UTC)
I read somewhere that the reason that the song sounds like 5 billion tunes mashed together was because it's supposed to be a conversation between the girls- and obviously as International fans we didn't get that impression from listening? True or not?
moob 6th-Jan-2013 01:21 am (UTC)
korean fans still think it's a fucking mess tho...
djlancerock 6th-Jan-2013 01:24 am (UTC)
i'm starting to get pressed that i'm not in the least pressed about this album. it's like i'm missing out on some cool haters club and usually i'm all about being a hater. i've lost my touch.
evivante 6th-Jan-2013 01:40 am (UTC)
IKR me too. But whatever, jamming to it 24/7 <3333
moob 6th-Jan-2013 01:24 am (UTC)
i got a boy keeps ranking lower and lower on melon, they're almost in t-ara territory
sadistic_dance 6th-Jan-2013 03:33 am (UTC)

Edited at 2013-01-06 03:34 am (UTC)
x_undercover_x 6th-Jan-2013 01:26 am (UTC)
People outside the kpop community whose tastes I trust have said they liked it so, I don't know, maybe it really is just the kpop fandom's ears or tastes lol
I feel like this should be their Biology or Sexy! No No No but it still hasn't clicked on me completely, like, it's revolutionary, yes, but it's SO noisy :/
The LIVE performance really made me like it 200% better than the first couple of times I heard it haha

markthatcoin 6th-Jan-2013 02:16 am (UTC)
imo Genie was their Biology and Girls&Peace was their Tangled Up. it just goes oddly downhill in between and that frustrates me because i could like them so much if i actually liked their output.

i actually liked IGAB from first listen and was surprised to see so many negative impressions. the live almost made me like the song less lolol

maybe snsd needs a break and a docu like Passions of GA. i'd lol so hard if any of them played polo.
ladystar 6th-Jan-2013 01:30 am (UTC)
I will forever hear 'I got a boy in my jeans' whenever I listen to it.
djlancerock 6th-Jan-2013 01:33 am (UTC)
aleexnews 6th-Jan-2013 01:33 am (UTC)
how much money is SM paying ppl to write these shitty articles? more than they paid to produce the 5 songs in IGAB?
xalexandriam 6th-Jan-2013 01:46 am (UTC)
i am really feeling the combo of our two icons right after the other lol
xalexandriam 6th-Jan-2013 01:35 am (UTC)
I'm disappointed in the mods for continually encouraging SONEs by letting them post these press releases from SME.
flumes 6th-Jan-2013 01:36 am (UTC)

but rly we have to stop w these posts omg
allthingsgood 6th-Jan-2013 01:36 am (UTC)
I loved IGAB from the teasers. And I still love *that part* only in the song. Not the first or second parts before the "I got a boy, motjin, I got a boy, chakhan" chorus/part kicks in.
burger 6th-Jan-2013 01:36 am (UTC)
this article is so flowery omg

I like IGAB, though. the rest of the album is a little dull but I dig the title track
pikapika217 6th-Jan-2013 01:37 am (UTC)
Let me just say that I’ve gone through the 5 stages of grief with this song/concept/comeback. It’s still ridiculous, 4 clashing songs in one and whacked beyond all measure but it plays better when divorced from most of the video, as well as matched with the lyrics. -

Not to mention that Hyo, Soo & Yuri killed it and THANK YOU LORD - Tiffany didn’t rap once. After reading a few comments in subtitle videos, people have said that it should read that each section is a conversation between different girls or that it's more like a timeline of the relationship, which makes sense to me. I really think what got me with it was the context tho as had it been something for a broadway play the sudden changes and scattered perspectives would've worked more for me.

In any case, I've come to accept it as a choice they've made and even listen to it all the way through as opposed to just skipping to my favorite sections like I did before.
laeryn 6th-Jan-2013 01:56 am (UTC)
Arg. The thing is, I absolutely love the "I got a boy..." part! Like, LOVE IT even if I still sing "I got a boy machine!", but the whole song together just fails to catch my attention because all the time the song's not like that, bam, I don't like it at all D:
fabledlamb 6th-Jan-2013 01:38 am (UTC)
The article makes it sound like most people nowadays are suffering from ADHD so songs like IGAB are now being created that will hold everyone's attention until the very last note. An interesting theory that I can't disagree with.

My main problem with IGAB is that each part isn't really groundbreaking in itself and the whole song in this case isn't more than the sum of its parts, unfortunately. It's running in all sorts of directions but on well-trodden paths and that's why it failed to impress me. (Though admittedly not as much as that sub-par new album.)
djlancerock 6th-Jan-2013 01:41 am (UTC)
I would be interested in seeing the intensity of the hate if they had made a mix of groundbreaking sounds.
eishastan 6th-Jan-2013 01:42 am (UTC)

I'm here to read the exact same people interacting with each other reminding everyone how sucky/bad and horrible it is, and how this positive reviews are a joke and everyone who likes it is a delusional fan, because they have some godly taste that dictates what is good and bad in the music industry.
evivante 6th-Jan-2013 01:44 am (UTC)
so many popcorns to be eaten~
evivante 6th-Jan-2013 01:43 am (UTC)
the_erotomanic 6th-Jan-2013 08:35 am (UTC)
i<3u too bb. ^_^
confuqued 6th-Jan-2013 01:45 am (UTC)
who actually reads these?
uledy 6th-Jan-2013 02:52 am (UTC)
mte. i don't even read propaganda from groups i stan.
iznanassi 6th-Jan-2013 01:46 am (UTC)
Tbh I can't stand SNSD minus a select few members but I still think the song is catchy, it makes no sense but it's enough to make me sing it a few times a day.

It seemed like a broadway song to me, so I'm willing to buy the whole "telling a story through progression" thing.
setsuna16 6th-Jan-2013 01:47 am (UTC)
This song is too disjointed for my tastes. I like it the most when it's being bubblegum, but that shit don't happen until like two minutes in.

I'm altogether indifferent towards it. I do want to download the music video, though...
mighty_romance 6th-Jan-2013 01:47 am (UTC)
I like IGAB, idgaf. But comparing it to Bohemian Rhapsody is ridiculous. Still need to listen to the rest of the album tho.
djlancerock 6th-Jan-2013 01:49 am (UTC)
tru cause i hate bohemian rhapsody
laeryn 6th-Jan-2013 01:49 am (UTC)
Modern-day Bohemian Rhapsody omfg what?!

Uhm. The song /is/ a mess, objectively. You can like it or not, but it's a mess. Wether that's horrible or the next greatest thing to ever happen to the industry, well, everyone will have their own opinions. Personally, I don't like it and I wish this trend would stop asap because I don't really like it in GLAM's song either and they are my bbs. And this article isn't going to change my mind, as well as many others. I might change my mind naturally with time (has happened to me before), but not because of someone telling me OMG BUT THIS IS GOOD AND INNOVATIVE HOW DO YOU NOT LIKE IT?!

Aside from all that, tho, people need to realize that: 1. you can like a mess without having to look for excuses or trying to convince others that IT'S OH SO GOOD, 2. you can like something bad (same) and 3. (for some pressed sones I've seen) you can dislike something your unniers and oppars have done, because them being hardworking or whatevs doesn't excuse when they release sth subpar.

That said: Hyoyeon looks amazing lately.
xalexandriam 6th-Jan-2013 01:54 am (UTC)
i'm still confused as to why hyo isn't front and center for this entire comeback because she is clearly slaying everyone else.
dapo322 6th-Jan-2013 01:52 am (UTC)
I kinda like it. Well parts of it. The performances make it a bit better caz of the choreo. I would get rid of the "rapping" from Yoona and Hyoyeon. Now I like Hyo and I know she barely gets lines, but i'm just nhft. I'd also get rid of the whole part where TaeNy is having their vocal diva moment. It just seems random as hell to have that. It's like the song has 2 bridges when it just needs one with Jessica's part. Also, they needed better transistions other than just let's have a member talk here and then switch up the beat.
dapo322 6th-Jan-2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Another thing, I don't see why the author compares IGAB to Azealia's BBD. BBD doesn't sound as disjointed and doesn't switch up so much where I felt IGAB was like 4 songs smashed in one when I first listened to it.

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