With “Tonight”, SPICA picks up right where they left off during an insanely strong 2012 with the equally fun and amazingly lively “Tonight”.
SPICA, a group of cast-offs, should-have-beens, and vocal coaches, is a bit of a miracle in the K-Pop scene. They’ve been around for about a year and yet their members are all around their mid-twenties, which means that, in most circumstances, their careers would have been over before it started. You can only hold down persistent talent for so long though, as SPICA continues to release quality music which doesn’t need to hide behind any synthesizers or blaring productions. Their professionalism and vocal maturity (SPICA’s hugely underrated strength which is impossible for younger acts to duplicate) made “Potently“, “Russian Roulette“, “I’ll Be There“, “Painkiller” and “Lonely” immensely enjoyable pop songs and the group hits those same sweet spots with “Tonight”, a song which sounds nothing like what else exists in SPICA’s discography, yet feels right at home with their stellar track record thus far.
“Tonight” sounds like what would happen if one mashed the addictive dance pop of Rihanna’s “We Found Love” with the bubbly rock of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” (that’s a compliment of the highest order) and then add actual singers to the mix. SPICA always have a crystal clear method to their vocal delivery and it’s wonderfully framed by rollicking guitars and warm but frenetic percussion that does it’s best to keep up with SPICA going hard. The choruses are pure joy, with the chants of “hey, hey, hey, hey” in the background being almost as addictive as the held notes. Narae actually gets to sing some notes and Bohyung and Boa hold court per usual. The bass guitar bounces around with a glee usually reserved for a musical but the real star of the show is SPICA itself. For all of its strengths, the production for “Tonight” is a little derivative, something that is true of the rest of SPICA’s discography. What SPICA does better than any other group right now is deliver vocal performances which always elevate the production way beyond the beat itself. For most K-Pop groups, the relationship between beat and group is usually reversed. The group usually only goes as far as the production. For SPICA, in “Tonight”, as elsewhere, the group drags its solid beat and makes it literally sing.
As for the video, it looks like an Urban Outfitters photo shoot derived from my dreams. It is so good that (and this is the only time in the history of things that this will be said) Lee Hyori’s presence in the video actually detracts from the final product (Hyori helped with the production and lyrics but she’s unnecessary here). If SPICA weren’t charismatic or lively on camera, that would be one thing. But the group is more than up to the task of running around on a beach and having pillow fights by themselves.
Minor Hyori quibble aside (and you know you have a winner when the one complaint is that Lee freakin’ Hyori is hogging screen time in your music video), “Tonight” is amazing. The various visual effects that are captured here are so diverse, it’s easy to lose track of them because SPICA is so distractingly hot in “Tonight”.
Boa is adorable.
Jiwon is, well, freaking amazing.
And Narae. Good Lawd, Narae.
The smoke effects are used effectively and it really make the whole video. Whether it’s blowing it in front of the camera, or twirling around the body or hitting SPICA with sprays of neon color, there is little denying it’s a fun and magical effect. The lighting is wonderful, a mixture of warm yellows, expert outdoor lighting and shadows designed to recall warm August nights spent relaxing with friends. The various sets, from tents, to Jacuzzi to outdoor beach party all elicit thoughts of the most awesome summer vacation that one looks back on fondly through a thick layer of nostalgia. The more fantastical elements (the technicolors that pervade the video through haze and smoke) blend in with the more natural scenes, which gives the illusion of memory melding with a dream and makes for a fantastic music video.
“Tonight” is another SPICA triumph. SPICA may not be innovators but they are the best example of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” that exists in the genre. Give them any pop track and they can absolutely murder it, and drag a beat kicking and screaming into relevance. 2012 saw SPICA go through about fifty billion comebacks over the course of the year, followed by nothing in 2013 until “Tonight”. It was well worth the wait. Now, all that is left is the anticipation for SPICA’s next comeback, which is one of hopefully many more to come.
Rating: Perfect. Easily Top 10 of the Year material.
Bonus: “Tonight” acoustic version. Because they can.