Review: Girls’ Generation (SNSD) – “Mr. Mr.” is Pretty Damn Great Y’all

snsd mr mr 2

Girls’ Generation (SNSD) has finally released its “Mr. Mr.” music video after two K-Pop releases which suffered from wildly different problems.  The demure princess next door concept that the group had peddled for years as their signature has increasingly looked anachronistic and their last couple of attempts to negotiate the new “grownup” sphere of SNSD have not exactly hit the mark. “I Got a Boy” was an exciting experiment but in the way that an acid trip gone wrong can be an illuminating exercise. “The Boys” was a whimper of a song with a great concept set to bland choreography which seemed to confuse staidness for maturity. The question was whether Girls’ Generation could keep up with the times, both musically and concept-wise. “Mr. Mr” demonstrates that SNSD absolutely can.

As for the song, here’s what I had to say when the mini-album dropped:

“Mr. Mr.” is everything which “I Got a Boy” probably wishes it was. It’s got an edge, it’s got grind and it’s got a hip-pop-by-way-of-Skrillex kick which is undeniably exciting. The strong distortion from the start make it very clear that this is unlike anything which Girls’ Generation has done. The choruses don’t require dancing as much as they require head bobs so deep that they slowly transform into bows. The break seems to even ignore that this is a single by a girl group as the nearly entirely instrumental breakdown could also be said to be the singular highlight of the mini-album. SNSD takes a backseat to the production, but unlike in “I Got a Boy” this seems like it was done on purpose. There are multiple swerves and breaks in the track but it all holds together under the constant grungy electronic beats and SNSD’s purposeful attacking of the instrumentals, an element of aggression that comes off as earned swagger rather than forced fronting. The claps add an element of danger and a mean streak that has long been missing from SNSD’s discography while some synth work in the verses keep things cheerful enough so as to not lose SNSD’s signature peppy strengths.

There’s been some legitimate critiques of the song’s lack of buildup and weaker hook. If there are weaknesses about “Mr. Mr.” it is those two things but the thumping way that “Mr. Mr.” marches comes off as confident and steady while retaining a sense of urgency throughout. A sense of progression in a song doesn’t have to be steep or linear for it to be good. “Mr. Mr.” is “flatter” than “Genie” in that sense but it is consistently strong enough from start to finish that those weaknesses aren’t as bad as they would be otherwise. “Mr. Mr.” still ends up being one of SNSD’s best releases in some time.

It's pretty close to this amount of perfection.

It’s pretty close to this amount of perfection.

The video is more of a mixed bag. The video for “Mr. Mr.” is fascinating because it seems to be (unsurprisingly given the apparent re-shoots needed due to “data corruption”) shot from two different sources. The hospital scenes and choreography scenes to end “Mr. Mr.” look polished while the black and white choreography shots filmed from a parking lot garage look laughably cheap and out of place. For the first time in forever, SNSD largely strays from their dance-in-a-box bread and butter in favor of some other shots. The results are uneven. There’s no real story to speak of so the video tries to leave lasting visual impressions instead by throwing every instagram filter under the sun into various cuts. It creates a grindhouse-like effect but it’s laid on much too thick, as if the editors thought they had to overcompensate for the lack of choreography shots by threatening viewers with disorientation and seizures instead. It’s meant to be edgy but it comes off as slightly amateurish.

Now filming in SM's parking structure.

Now filming in SM’s parking structure.

As for  the girls themselves, they look great, making the aggressive use of filters all the more aggravating (just show Jessica Jung and Taeyeon in all their majesty for fucks sake). Pink livens up every colored shot and the members’ various outfits are pretty great. Without a doubt, the highlight is definitely the mannish-concept which SM denied they were going to do.

Yup, peak life.

Yup, peak life.

Sure, it’s nothing too gender bending but it’s hot and should go down as the sexiest thing to be released in a year where there’s been way too much similarly dressed sexy concepts to count.

Having Jessica Jung doesn't hurt either.

Having Jessica Jung doesn’t hurt either.

After SNSD’s past two releases, “Mr. Mr.” succeeds in being the first one in years that I’m excited about without many reservations. It’s more well put together and realized than “I Got a Boy” and more lively than the cold “The Boys”. The hook isn’t great but the beat is synth-rich and stands toe to toe with SNSD’s stronger recent J-Pop singles. The eye candy is plentiful (almost in spite of itself) and the wardrobe choices and stylings are sexy while still a little differentiated from the rest of the girl groups out there (the one instance where SM Entertainment’s conservatism served Girls’ Generation well). “Mr. Mr.” isn’t perfect but it should be more than enough to confirm that SNSD isn’t leaving the echelon of K-Pop groups any time soon either.

Rating: Four mannish concept out of five mannish concept. One of SNSD’s strongest releases in years. Personally, one of my favorites.

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10 comments

  1. Fleur De Seoul · · Reply

    My review is that the sum of these parts are greater than the whole. I found that if I separated the hook, the verses and the breakdown, I liked them all separately, but together they kinda suck. I get where people say it fell flat. Any song made with that low bpm is either a ballad or needs variation of some sort, otherwise it’ll put me to sleep.

    As for the video, I loved the concepts, but I felt like there were too many good ones, and the “unedited” feel was not good enough to sustain itself, making me wish for just clear shots. Actually, the concepts for the video made me hate the song even more, because it made me feel that it was even more subpar in comparison.

    I had a long day at school today and so I was excited because I was hoping for a good track and video. Boy was I disappointed. I don’t think I cracked a smile once.

    I’m just hoping now that whatever 2ne1 puts out wrecks everything, so the surprise can pull me out of my disappointment. Plus I would love to see 2ne1 come out on top of a “fanwar” competition, just because no one unbiased is expecting GG to come up short in that exchange.

  2. i’m agree to the comments on Youtube that the more you listens to this song, the more you will boobing your head like crazy. And yes, that works.

    Buuuuut, first impression is what important to any songs. And my first impression in this song are unbelievably flat. Yes, it is catchy, but it can’t hype up my excitedness like some songs that exist in k-pop right now. (example : Stellar’s marionette or 2ne1’s crush)

    The video otherwise, is great. The plot is confusing, the mix of pink and black colors is boring, and i hate the hospital concept. But what makes this video great are the dance break, taeyeon, the mannish concept, taeyeon, sunny’s get out from the Mushroom Hair Curse, and taeyeon.

    1. and hey, can you reviewing Bestie’s Thank You Very Much?

      1. I’m thinking about it, a little busy and done a lot of writing for this blog this week due to SNSD and 2NE1 slap fight. I’ll definitely take a look though and see if there’s anything worth commenting on other than “zomg Dahye and Yuji so hawt”.

      2. here’s the spoiler : Dahye’s butt is used on the music video. Spoiled enough?

  3. It was too blurry, fuzzy, grainy, etc. for me. Just too many effects. It started to bother my eyes actually. The girls look good. I was hoping for more of the dance break so I hope there will be a dance version for Mr. Mr.

    1. That was the biggest subtraction for me, all the filters. The girls and the wardrobe saved it and that’s more than enough for me after the Bratz IGAB thing.

  4. You all get confuse about those effect, dizzy and fuzzy cause you don’t know the real story the effect is done by purpose
    When it goes blurry and black white, its actually “the mr” point of view
    This is a little bit explanation of the story line (already posted everywhere)
    There is guy who isn’t brave enough to confess to the girls he like( judging from the lyrics), and seems cold even when he is close to the girls ( notice that the mr is just sitting silently beside the girls )
    And he had a cardial accute, heart disease. Therefore he is going to do surgery, the girls give him some drug,anesthesic or whatever it is, that’s why the guy vision was blurred, he is hallucinating at the moment
    See snsd member on blurred vision, and then remember memory about them on that black and white scene.
    He also dream about why he still cold to the girls , he pretend that the girls as a men ( when they dress in suits )
    And then the girls operate him, changing his heart so that he can be brave enough to confess. The operation success, when he wakes up, he had a vision of a lovely girls like he used to think before ( you see snsd wearing lovely dress at the end of the sont )
    That’s the story, sorry for my bad english
    This is the meaning of the mv , read it
    http://kpoptimeout.tumblr.com/post/781762920…
    After you read that, you will realize that this mv is really amazing. All done by purpose, even the apple (taeyeon brought) . All makes sense. Well done SM

    1. No one is confused. I got the purpose of the effects. They were overused and it bothered my eyes after a while.

    2. moyaaa · · Reply

      The song is a tad dull but will grow on you. I like the overall styling of the video in how they portray a more matured side of the girls but found the video awful to watch.
      Thanks for pointing out its meaning but IMHO, but if a MV requires a written explanation, it has failed miserably in either the acting/editing/cinematography or has simply over-reached in terms of what a video accompanying a track should be. The effects, lens flares in particular, hurt my eyes and distracts from what otherwise is a fairly decent song.

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