Review: Trouble Maker – ‘Now’ is a Perfectly Executed Masterpiece of Sexual Feels

trouble maker now cover

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.

b

The degrees are reaching a boiling point

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.

Giving all the fuqs and giving no fuqs at the same time.

Giving all the fuqs and giving no fuqs at the same time.

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.

g

So smart, it makes you dumb.

“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.

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21 comments

  1. well, the song did not live to my expectation. the reff teaser is just that perfect at the way it is, but then after hearing the real reff, the perfect degree is decreased. it’s still catchy, though. and, is the drifting scene really necessary? XD

    lastly, FOR GOD’S SAKE, DESTROY THE BLUE WIG. it doesn’t matter how perfect Hyuna wear it, blue wig is ugly. UGLYYYYYY

    1. Drifting was probably not necessary but still pretty cool. Also didn’t get the blue wig but it was used so infrequently that I gave it a pass.

    2. Kpoptartsarebestpoptarts · · Reply

      I love the blue wig. I think she looks incredible in those shots.

  2. “….a supremely well crafted K-Pop video from top to bottom”

    Excellent review as always. Wow, the song’s great but the video was the surprise here. Compared to the usually tame music videos, this is like K-Pop for adults. It does a very good job of being sexy without sleazy. Implied threesome, check. Alcohol consumption, check. Smoking on camera, check. Nervous break down, check. Full-on kissing, check. Head to bosom, check. Reckless driving/drifting, check. The TV stations are going to have a fit 🙂

    HNNNNNGGGGGGGFFFFFFFFEPOADPOAJFDKVKLDNSV — please decipher?

    1. HNNNNNGGGGGGGFFFFFFFFEPOADPOAJFDKVKLDNSV – The thought racing through my head whenever Hyuna popped up on screen. Basically turns me into a grunting primate.

  3. Not forgetting… firearms, check.

    Also, Hyunseung no longer looks like a little sissy boy here. I like.

  4. I love your review, but you didn’t explain the scene with the two cars at the end lol.

    1. I mean, you could say it’s symbolic of two people who are living in the moment and who are barely holding it together all while not actually going anywhere and this is a perfect reflection of the two in the video but I’m just going to go ahead and say that they did it because it looks cool.

      1. Kpoptartsarebestpoptarts · ·

        I have to believe there must have been a promotional consideration from the car maker too.

  5. The best way to put it this way was Hyuna and Hyunseung became like a more dangerous version of their predecessors G.NA and Jay Park. Hyuna finally adopted some of that sexual maturity from G.NA while Hyunseung from former labelmate Jay Park who now seems to be focused on 19+ music.

    Plus it is also the Bonnie and Clyde Reference.

  6. Woooah, nevermind ‘Now’, check out the track ‘I Like’ featuring Flowsik from Aziatix from the same Trouble Maker album, Chemistry.

    What an amazing song. I had to look up Flowsik and Aziatix, and it became immediately clear why this doesn’t sound anything like the rest of the album tracks (in a good way). Starts off sounding like ‘Low’ from Flo Rida and gets better. Not sure whether Hyunseung even sang in this song but I can easily picture HyunA rapping and gyrating to it in a sizzling MV.

    As per one of the YouTube comments “I can hear this playing in the clubs all over the world”. No kidding. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz83bkP3Mz8

    1. Ok this is really freaking good (so many good grindy club influences that Hyuna could kill live) and would have been the perfect Hyuna solo track. Damn shame, now I want the video to go with it.

      1. So freaking good, right? Hyuna actually sounds good here, set against the strong hip hop track.

        Wikipedia fun fact; Flowsik (Jay Pak) is a Korean-American rapper and emcee from New York, Flushing, Queens, and was mentored and co-signed by Ice-T.

        Just replace half the lyrics in the song—most of it is already in English anyway—and release it into American market already, 2NE1 and will.i.am be damn.

    2. Just checked out this song – it’s so much better than that unspeakable mess that was Ice Cream. There’s a fan-made video (combining clips from Hyuna CFs and Now) that really shows the potential that it has as an MV: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkH2IH7S6cQ

      I also don’t think any of it has to be translated for it to succeed in a world market, since there’s already a lot of English. What a shame that they didn’t choose to promote this as a Hyuna single.

      1. Thanks for the link. The fan-made video was mostly the Soju commercials with Hyuna doing what she does best but yes, this song was made for the club scene, so it works.
        I enjoy most of Hyuna’s work with 4Minute, her solo efforts and even her goofy rap with Zico, but Ice Cream just makes me want to hit her over the head with a big block of ice. Ice Cream was released to capitalise on the success of Gangnam Style (including the PSY cameo) and in that respect was a big commercial success for Hyuna and Cube. Still hate the song though.

      2. Ugh, Ice Cream. Such a missed opportunity for Hyuna. Especially in light of this showing how to do a Hyuna song effectively.

  7. Did you ever see the popular anime “Deathnote” back in the 2000′s. The way this video ended reminded me of the way that “Deathnote” ended with the protagonist dying which was deserved for all the horrible things he had done in life, but still you felt sorry for the guy at the end and kind of hoped that he would have found redemption in some way rather than damnation. The other thing that compared to the end of “Deathnote” is character of Misa sitting there alone and abandoned with her world in a sense destroyed. Anyway, I felt some similarities to “Deathnote” and wonder if that influenced the PD of the video. I thought the use of the Joker makeup from Batman Begins was a bit silly. I understood the point of it (Him wresting with the evil inside or his conscience), but I think it would have been more effective to go with a makeup effect that wasn’t clearly ripped off from the Joker. Still it was a very good video. One doesn’t see enough of these videos that aren’t just a dance in a box in front of a green screen. I think that is party of what I like about these two is that Cube really seems to invest in them much like Loen always invests in IU’s videos, so you want to watch the story they tell.
    I would still love to see a sequel to the video for Troublemaker one day. Did he shoot her or not? Did he escape and take her with him after wounding or missing her on purpose?

    1. Yeah, Death Note is really good and one of the reasons why After School’s Lizzy is one of my favorites (she apparently keeps a death note). I’m always intrigued by Troublemaker but more for how far they’re willing to push things.

      1. True, Troublemaker does push envelopes more akin to the way some Western acts do. The censors at KBS must have to take stronger anti-acids when they hear a Troublemaker release is coming. One of the things I find interesting with Hyuna is that someone who seems so cute off-stage and when you watch shows like IY1 can be such a firecracker on stage. Many say it is because she follows the company’s marching orders, but I suspect she likes the duality. In person she may be kind of shy, but on stage she can do things she would never dare do in daily life and maybe likes the cheers it gets out of the crowd.

  8. gumdeo · · Reply

    Even after all this time, it still sounds like quite an average song to me.

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