With ‘Now’, Trouble Maker once again claims the throne of the sexiest, sexual sex act in K-Pop and it is glorious.
The narrative around Trouble Maker revolves around Hyuna and for good reason. The girl’s stage presence hits harder than a heavy weight fighter and the way she gyrates on camera and stage births more feels than a room full of puppies. Yet, for all that Hyuna does for the Trouble Maker duo, Hyunseung (that’s the guy who sometimes pops up on camera every now and then) is the vocal force which holds it all together. For all the incessant chatter about how Trouble Maker is cheap, shallow drivel, the combination is much smarter and well put together most K-Pop groups out there. What started as what seemed as a nice one-off in “Trouble Maker” has become a very successful partnership with “Now”, a single which plays to both Hyuna and Hyunseung’s strengths as performers which only makes the final product all the better.
“Now” is pretty much what anyone could ask for out of a K-Pop track. The beat has a dark and grimey disco funk to it that sounds like it belongs in a dimly lit stanky club. The production is pretty bare, with a percussive drum beat being the primary driving force while a light synth dances above it for the entire song. Strings are added during the chorus in order to provide some classy sexiness to the more standard synth elements. All together, the beat recalls a more quickly paced SISTAR’s “Alone”, another sexy, dark disco beat that managed to destroy everything in its path last year. As for the vocals, Hyuna does the standard Hyuna thing where she part-raps/part-sneers her way through her verses. She provides a nice counter-weight but her presence in the track is often more obligatory than it is necessary. Hyunseung does the heavy lifting and his higher pitched voice is perfectly suited for a sparser beat. It allows him to come through clearly and it makes him sound much more assertive than he would if he were singing over a more busy song. Make no mistake though, “Now” lives by its production first, then Hyunseung with Hyuna acting as place holder. And much like their past single, it all works to a fantastic degree.
Visually, Trouble Maker does not disappoint with “Now”. For all that the teasers promised (and in K-Pop that is often a lot more than what the final product usually delivers), the video somehow manages to up the ante on everything. From barely implied threesomes to sleeping with beers and bad decisions to sex in cars, sex in RVs and sex presumably everywhere, “Now” throws it all on screen and somehow makes it stick. The story line, as much as it exists, is coherent and sensual without being comical or exceedingly stupid. The various locales which Trouble Maker uses as sets are visually pleasant. The sets create an incredibly claustrophobic atmosphere which is cleverly directed to make the sexual tension between the two leads suffocating (one of the best examples is the beer bottles which threaten to swallow Hyuna whole juxtaposed with Hyunseung being swallowed up by his two play things). The direction, both camera and set, when combined with music, creates an experience that is exhilarating, dangerous and strangely fun, like a night out where one knows they’ll regret the morning after but just doesn’t give a fuq.
For much of the video, the various props, from cars to hallways and rooftops compel the two leads to spend much of their time grabbing and groping each other with an intensity that is rarely seen in K-Pop. Even the obligatory choreography moments are shot interestingly, whether it be because of Hyuna’s boob window or the decision to have cars continually drift around the two dancers. Both are much more effective at creating compelling visuals than 10,000 light bulbs flashing at break-neck speed. The best thing about “Now” is that the video doesn’t fall back on relying on Hyuna’s sexual appeal to succeed. It may play it up, and it would have been easy for Trouble Maker to essentially have Hyuna shove her everything into the camera, do some small choreo shots against a bare white wall and call it a day. However, Trouble Maker avoided going for the easy way out and went for something more daring and more challenging (from location shots, to lighting and editing, to the props, to the performers themselves) and they still managed to knock it out of the park. Once one gets past the sexual heaven that Hyuna generates on screen (not that anyone should advocate for looking past that), there is still a very smartly made video for a very smartly made song.
“Now” shows that Trouble Maker is no one-hit wonder and that this is a duo which could easily become another arm of the Hyuna empire. As a duet, the team of Hyuna and Hyunseung are very effective, with Hyunseung’s ability to emote aurally being matched beat for beat with Hyuna’s ability to emote visually. The production that they’ve been given for their previous efforts, and now with “Now”, play to both of their respective strengths as well. The disco pop elements are made for the kind of vocal styling that Hyunseung does very well and it allows Hyuna to strut and rap in ways that have made her one of the most successful and divisive lightening rods in the K-Pop scene. Hyuna easily makes brains melt and the work that Trouble Maker does in “Now” definitely qualifies as that, but there is no denying that “Now” is also a supremely well crafted K-Pop video from top to bottom. The sex is just a much appreciated bonus.
Rating: Five Coherent Apprecations out of Five HNNNNNGGGGGGGFFFFFFFFEPOADPOAJFDKVKLDNSV *dies. A good song and great video that gets better with additional views.