Review: Girl’s Day – “Darling” is an Average Summer Release Wrapped in Super Sexy Packaging

girls day darling

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.

Certainly not as memorable as Yura.

Certainly not as memorable as Yura.

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.

Combating so hard.

Granted, this is fairly persuasive.

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.

BRB gotta jump in a freezer to cool off.

BRB gotta jump in a freezer to cool off.

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.

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18 comments

  1. black soshi · · Reply

    So I’m fairly sure that Sojin is the hottest girl I have ever seen. Ever. That last gif has sent me into a tailspin I may never pull out of. Damn you Slug!

  2. Sojin is undoubtedly the best thing about this video. She is stunningly beautiful. Quite a disappointing follow up after Expectation, Female President etc…

    1. Sojin may be the best thing about everything. And I agree, this one is a bit of a come down from Expectation and Female President.

  3. Yes, it’s boilerplate stuff. Considering I actually enjoyed their last ditsy summer single ‘Do Tell Me’. Also, thanks for choosing Sojin for the gif (instead of say, ahem, 2m:17s). Sojin looks amazing here.

    1. Yup, the Legend of Sojin grows.

  4. Do people even do mix-tapes anymore. I’m 46, so my youth was spent with mix tapes. I imagine young people today don’t do mix-tapes, but I wonder if they call a themed package of files on their phone a mix tape still.

    I have to agree with your assessment on this song. It isn’t awful, but its not great either. It’s just kind of mediocre, like a lot of songs lately. It’s done okay on the charts, especially for a group that prior to last year was really struggling, but this isn’t the kind of song that builds on your success and puts your group on the top tier.

    I think it is a bit unfair to compare Girl’s Day to Sistar as so many people do. That said, the comparisons are inevitable with them debuting the same year, them both having four members (Though Girl’s Day debuted with five), both having success with their sexy images, etc. Obviously the big thing that separates them is Girl’s Day’s best singer is likely the #3 singer in Sistar behind Hyorin and Soyu. That’s one hell of a hurdle to jump. It limits what you can do musically as you have to hide that somehow. In all fairness though no group at the moment has a lead like Hyorin and a #2 like Soyu which is a big part of why that is a top group. Unfortunately for Girl’s Day here comes a Sistar release right on their heels which if its a good one will draw those bad comparisons again.

    I think Girl’s Day are doing the best they can with the talent they have and in the company they are with. The fact they righted their ship last year and found something that worked for them was a huge step forward. This doesn’t undo that, but it didn’t build on it either. This likely won’t pick up show wins like “Something” did last winter, but it will at least get a full promotion cycle now on the shows, which if they had released this back before their great 2013 might have relegated them to one of those groups who they cut to just over two minutes on the show and are gone by week three. They and their company will just have to try harder next time and get momentum towards the top tier going again.

    The funny thing is that the other two songs on this mini-album were nice to listen to. I’m wondering if one of them might have made a stronger single even if they weren’t meant to be “sound of summer songs.”

    1. Kpoptartsarebestpoptarts · · Reply

      46! You old fart. And here I thought I was the only one.

      1. black soshi · ·

        um, I resemble that criteria as well. Its good to know that I’m not the only one. American, annoyed as hell by American pop (was always like that), older than 40, its all Psy and Hyuna’s fault…

      2. Yep, I too got my curiosity piqued by Gangnam Style, but if the first couple videos I watched hadn’t been some of the better ones that grabbed me musically and visually I would likely have moved on. Fortunately among the first few I viewed after Gangnam Style was 4 Minute’s “Volume Up,” SNSD’s “Paparazzi,” and Sistar’s “Alone.” If I had seen some of the sickeningly saccharine videos out there instead I might not have stuck around no matter how pretty the young ladies were. It probably helped some that I knew that BoA who had recorded the end theme to a story arc of Inuyasha (One of my favorite anime) was from Korea and I had a little familiarity with J-pop and J-rock via anime. I was already a big L’Arc en Ciel fan.

      3. It’s funny but no coincidence how so many of us started listening to K-Pop thanks to ‘Gangnam Style’. I’m Asian Chinese but never paid attention to K-Pop (or J-Pop for that matter), preferring a diet of American, British and Mandarin music. I’ve heard of SNSD but they were too aegyo for my taste and obviously targeting a younger audience. For me, the progression was Gangnam Style, to who’s this Hyuna chick, to 4Minute, to all-K-Pop-hell-breaks-loose.

    2. Mixtapes are still kind of a thing (at least for me, although it’s CDs for my car).

      I don’t really like to do group comparisons but for me at least, there’s not much of a coincidence that SISTAR hit it big and then Girl’s Day had its image shift.

  5. I thought you were being generous by saying this is average. But as usual your review is dead on. I was really hoping for another Female Pres and I was definitely disappointed.

    1. “Female President” remains my second favorite Girl’s Day release behind the slept-on classic “Nothing Lasts Forever”.

  6. Darling isn’t anything special but I like it. I don’t really get the repeated comps to Secret that I’ve come across tho. I know Shy Boy was popular but tons of groups have done the “retro cute” theme for summer tracks.

    1. I’d say Secret has done it more consistently and with better results than most groups though. Shy Boy, Starlight Moonlight, Love is MOVE and even Madonna and Magic had retro flair to them.

    2. I think the only reason they maybe get compared to Secret is that is another group that has 4 members and tends to do sexy or sexy with cute. It’s similar to the unfair comparison with Sistar.

      1. Nah, the comparison I made here was simply to the simple jingle-like sound that “Darling” has which kind of recalls what Secret likes to do with its retro-50’s jams. Outside of that, I don’t think Secret and Girl’s Day share much in common in many of their other releases. They have both done shtick but it’s of different varieties.

  7. slfjafdnlfjdalk · · Reply

    The best thing abut this track is those super-breathy, near hysterical backing vocals in the chorus.

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