It’s near impossible to discuss Girl’s Day without examining the dichotomy in the group’s image. What started off as a group largely defined by its insanely (and somewhat aggravating) cute image evolved into a group dedicated to all the sexiness this side of SISTAR. “Darling” splits the difference between Girl’s Day’s past and present. And while the group appropriates both elements of its image well enough, “Darling” fails to advance the Girl’s Day’s image or sound in any meaningful way.
“Darling” is a bit of a Girl’s Day throwback. While it’s fairly doubtful that the group will ever go back to their earlier aegyo-filled releases of yesteryear, their latest comeback is more in the vein of “Hug Me Once” and “Don’t Flirt” than “Expectation“, “Female President” or “Something“. A jaunty snare keeps “Darling” at a bopping tempo while some excellent horns accentuate a retro-fifties ascetic without devolving into camp or straight-up homage. Unfortunately, while “Darling” doesn’t seek to ripoff SECRET’s retro formula here, there’s also a lacking point of emphasis that leaves “Darling” feeling a bit empty. All the elements are here for an easy-breezy summer pop song but that is part of the problem. The beat is a bit too obvious and boilerplate to be memorable.
It doesn’t help matters that each member of Girl’s Day is mixed to the point that they all sound similar in tone. The monotony of the vocal performances wipes away what character the members of Girl’s Day possess. Sure, the vocal sheen of “Darling” makes it sound like a ubiquitous summer tune but it doesn’t help it sound like a recognizable Girl’s Day song outside of “vaguely aegyo-ish old school Girl’s Day”. Between the blandness of the beat and the processing of the lyrical performance, “Darling” doesn’t leave much of an impression in the aftermath of its run time. Girl’s Day may have set out to make an easily digestible and infectious pop single but “Darling” has all the character of an commercial jingle.
The video tries its damnedest to combat the mundaneness of the song by sticking to Girl’s Day’s more recent sexy concepts. The direction and editing of “Darling” might as well have been copy-pasted from half of the K-Pop music videos out there and the concept of “Girl’s Day do summery things” is only slightly less imaginative than a fast food marketing campaign. However, it’s hard to criticize a video which can take those obvious shortcomings and still work the shit out of three minutes of footage like Girl’s Day does here. The choreography hinges on a butt-wiggle that walks a fine line between comedic and sexy (a tone which is actually pitch perfect for “Darling”) but Girl’s Day sells it well. Car wash and pool scenes are about as glorious as one could imagine and Sojin gets a ton of screen time.
That shit is pretty much immune to all criticism. For better and worse, there’s not much more to say about the video than that. “Darling” is a standard dance-in-a-box video with standard direction and standard location shots that simply shines due to Girl’s Day being Girl’s Day.
“Darling” doesn’t do much wrong but it also only does one thing well. The song is a serviceable filler tune on a summer mixtape. The video is a visual treat even if “Darling” doesn’t offer much that one hasn’t seen in a Girl’s Day video in the past (take a little bit of the wiggle and sexiness from ‘Female President’ and mix it with the visual sets of “Hug Me Once” without the creepy POV shots). It’s all fine and dandy and Girl’s Day having fun while doing sexy things is the best kind of inoffensiveness that anyone could ask for but it’s all a bit too predictable to have much impact. If the music and creative direction of “Darling” could have matched the glory of Girl’s Day’s looks, styling and wardrobe, the quartet would have had the equivalent of a summer vacation for the ages. As is, “Darling” is a warm, pleasant summer afternoon lounging around in the backyard.