Review: T-ara – “Number 9” Demonstrates That When It Comes to Music, Few Do it Better Than T-ara

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If T-ara was managed half as competently as their music was good, there would be no question as to which K-Pop group would reign supreme.

Unfortunately, Core Contents Media can’t help but ruin good things they have.

Last time in the Adventures of T-ara, the group had released two sub-unit singles, seen the last of Kim Kwang Soo’s additions to T-ara shipped off into “solo release” purgatory, and had Dani contribute to the clusterfuck that was the Chris Brown Chapter of T-ara fame. So how would the group respond after such a long holdover since their last single as a full group in Korea? Per the usual T-ara M.O., with a kickass song of course.

“Number 9” is like a delightful mash-up of the influences which have primed the last couple of years of T-ara releases, but unlike some of their previous efforts, “Number 9” sounds cohesive, even as it varies its production from verse to chorus to verse again. The staccato techno beats sound like a more sane “Countryside Life” and also recall the criminally underrated “Sexy Love” (which was known more for being the first single following the departure of Hwayoung). The robotic “number nine” that is echoed over the beat subtly is either ingenious or sadistic depending on if one likes that being stuck in one’s head for hours after the first listen. The chorus bits are straight out of the old-school T-ara hits back when the group was just the six girls that T-ara employs now. There’s hints of “I’m so Hurt” and “TTL” as well, especially in the tempo and stylistic choices in the vocals. Soyeon kills it per usual, and Eunjung even gets to hold a long note, something which she hasn’t done since Barack Obama was elected president the first time. The guitar and percussion which start things off would be right at home off of anything that T-ara released when it was a rookie group (also, good god Eunjung). The interplay between the chorus and verses are both nods to T-ara’s original past and it’s current iteration. T-ara is at once the same group that it was when it first debuted, and a completely different beast. “Number 9” hammers that point home and it does so with panache.

Legs. All the legs.

Legs. All the legs.

The video is nothing to write home about but then again, the non-drama music videos that T-ara makes rarely are. It’s all standard dance-in-the-box fare which means that the direction and editing can be generously described as “workmanlike”. The flashing lights don’t ever achieve the level of seizure-inducing and the sets look expensive enough for a group of T-ara’s stature. The members look great (except Boram. Because Boram). Jiyeon could bend reality with her legs and Eunjung isn’t of this plane of existence. Black and white outfits lend some class and sexiness and it’s a welcomed reprieve from the trend in K-Pop to vomit the rainbow onto a thrift shop and call it a day. In all, the direction, editing, sets, and styling just highlights five impossibly beautiful girls (and Boram) dancing in very flattering outfits, a feat which doesn’t wreck the creative curve but is also fairly enjoyable. The best compliment that can be paid to “Number 9” as a video is that it doesn’t mess anything up.

But, I mean, how is it possible to mess this up?

But, I mean, how is it possible to mess this up?

It's damn near impossible.

It’s damn near impossible.

“Number 9” is fascinating because it is a great song seemingly ripped from two separate eras of T-ara. The harder electropop and techno edge is straight out of the last year or so of T-ara’s discography while the more traditional dance pop is something which T-ara hasn’t done since pre-“Roly Poly” back when Jiyeon was just considered adorable and Eunjung was racking up all the endorsements she could shake a stick at. If nothing else, “Number 9” confirms that the original six can still bring it musically even as new members seem to disappear from the group faster than you can say “bully”.  What T-ara does with “Number 9” is prove that they can still perform with the same flair that made them popular in the first place, and they are adaptable and capable of dominating the present pop scene with smart contemporary genre nods. If they get their shit right with everything non-music related, then they will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with for a long while into the future as well.

Rating: Song is great and sneakily addictive. 5 Eunjungs out of 5 Eunjungs. Video is 4 Eunjungs out of 5 Hyomins.

PS: T-ARA RELEASED TWO MUSIC VIDEOS! THE OTHER ONE IS CALLED “I KNOW THE FEELING” WHICH I WILL REVIEW BELOW BY PUTTING AS MUCH EFFORT INTO IT AS T-ARA PUT INTO THE VIDEO:

It’s good.

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16 comments

  1. Aside from a few things that I could nitpick about the song (the robotic voice, the first part of Hyomin’s rap, “I’m addict?”, etc), I think this may be my favorite K-pop song of the year so far. It certainly reinforces my opinion that Shinsadong Tiger is the best producer in the business.

    I wish this video included the Mongolian desert footage that they were teasing. I assume that is for the drama version but I don’t really like watching 20 minute long music videos and I think it would have made for a more interesting dance version as well.

    But all things considered, this is as good as they’ve been since early 6-ara. If this doesn’t do well, then I don’t know what else they can do. Then again, if it DOES do well, KKS will find a way to fuck it up for the next comeback by re-introducing Dani to the group or something. So, either way, I guess they’re still ultimately screwed.

    1. Yup, T-ara is not allowed nice things (aside from being the most consistently good major group in K-Pop).

      Agreed on the Hyomin part. Every time I hear it, I’m like “hmmmm, if only the group employed a rapper who could nail the necessary sneer like a Hwayo- erhm I mean Ahre- Oh…”

  2. Kpoptartsarebestpoptarts · · Reply

    Why you no like Boram? I think she’s one of the most adorable things in all of Kpop.

    1. Just an irrational dislike. I have no justification for it and I’m sure she’s a nice person and all that.

      I will still hold a celebration when Kim Kwang Soo inevitably jets her off to his netherworld for Dani, who will then take her place for my “Idol with which I hold irrational disdain for” award.

  3. Aw..I actually have always liked Boram since I came across this group back when they were promoting Lies. Though, I haven’t paid much attention to them since before they started doing sub-groups, I like Number 9. Great review. As for the other song, I like that too, but jeez, they could’ve done so much more for the video. They ruined a good song with such a dull excuse of a video.

    1. Seriously, it’s better served as background music for whatever 3 hour music video T-ara decides to make next anyways.

  4. Wow, you seem to be a big Eunjung fan aswell!!! I love her so much ❤ So glad the original 6 made that badass song. Though I'm still kinda new to Kpop, never knew them with the member who left because of bullying… Eunjung acts the best in this video, everything she does seems to come right out of her heart.

    1. Eunjung is too beautiful for this existence. Also, I would let her bully me forever haha.

  5. therealcz · · Reply

    I want Jiyeon to bully me, eye beams and all.

    1. “Mmmmm, scar me Jiyeon, physically or mentally, don’t matter.”

  6. they music.. so similar with.. that song.. i forgot the name..the techno one..

  7. AMazing review! I need some help, can you please tell why its called Number 9???

    1. Thanks! I havent seen anything on the actual meaning of nine, mostly just fan speculation on the ninth single of theirs and how this is a fresh start.

      1. Well the 9 is lucky number in china and korea. Lot of girls use it as name like GooHara or Taengoo. The last name is very important. Becase she born at 9. She’s number is 9 and she was the 9th of most beautiful faces in 2013.

    2. Well is popular name Goo in korea. It is means 9.
      Like Goo Hara or Taeyeon’s nickname Taengoo.
      Because it is a lucky number in china and korea.
      For me the real number nine is Taengoo, because she did born at marc 9 she’s lucky number is 9
      and she was the 9th Most Beautiful Face of World in 2013.

  8. “I WILL REVIEW BELOW BY PUTTING AS MUCH EFFORT INTO IT AS T-ARA PUT INTO THE VIDEO”
    I’m positive T-ara does not do their own video work. I would love to meet the team of people that was behind the video though. Having a mellow, sort of balladish song is no excuse for a video that could honestly be a live perform-oh wait live performances of songs similar to this can be more entertaining than that video. I wonder if they ran out of money in their budget? They spent it all on T-ara’s other video…or spent it on something/someone else entirely and so when they came to this video they didn’t have much money left?
    By the way just a small, tiny, tip. There’s always a team(s) of some sort behind a korean group/performer. [Refuse to say K-pop because there’s groups out there that aren’t pop, but is part of the rock genre.]

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