With “25”, TS Entertainment and Jieun attempt to branch out and give their resident lead vocalist something a little more “pop-py” than they have in the past. And while “25” is a departure from Jieun’s other solo efforts, it’s sadly not nearly as memorable.
For better or worse, the best aspect of “25” is a delightful little Duble Sidekick horn riff that dances in the background throughout the song. The horn gives “25” a nice jazzy beat that still manages to be upbeat enough to pair with a more cheery tempo and it fits in with the “birthday” theme of the whole production. Keys and a nice snare fill the rest of “25” but the horns are what’s most likely going to “stick” on repeated listens.
This is true, even when factoring in the vocal work. Jieun is a fine vocalist and in SECRET she has an uncanny knack for knowing when to blend in with the other three singers and when to embellish. However, in “25” she isn’t given much to work with. The song has Jieun alternate between half-rap, half-singing and a raspy higher pitch which doesn’t give her a chance to shine at either rapping or singing. Jieun adds a nice husk to her vocals which adds a nice bit of sexiness to the song’s overall appeal but outside of that, it’s difficult to point to any moment in “25” which convincingly showcases Jieun as a solo force.
As for the video, it’s a little lackluster for something which is being trumpeted as Jieun’s first ever dance track. “25” is a mixture of dance-in-a-box bits and pastel-colored painted sets presumably brought in from some after-Easter sale. The choreography parts don’t look bad at all, opting for simple white backgrounds shot alternatively in bright white and dark lighting. The white dress that Jieun sports for some of the shots is on point but others (like whatever that pink and pearl piece is) misses the mark. The dance moves, from what can be seen, are pretty nice as well, as each move seems calibrated to show off Jieun’s impossibly nice legs.
The problems with “25” are with everything else. For a dance-in-a-box video, there aren’t that many shots which focus on the dance. Most of the shots in “25” seem to focus on solo shots of Jieun sitting, standing and holding balloons. And as pretty as Jieun is, shots of “A Girl Sitting There Looking Pretty” aren’t very dynamic either. Yet, that’s all that “25” has to offer. That fact can be ameliorated by having anything resembling a story-line, striking background, creative direction and editing or daring outfits but “25” is lacking in pretty much all of these. Every non-choreography shot is “Jieun looks at camera”, every non-choreography background is a shade of pastel, the most creative editing trick up the video’s sleeve is speeding up and slowing down the film to create emphasis and the outfits, while nice, aren’t noteworthy (outside that pink… thing). Much like the song, Jieun simply occupies the “25” video when she would ideally be dominating it.
In all, “25” inescapably sounds and looks like an afterthought to Jieun’s superior “Don’t Look at Me Like That.” While that music video showcased Jieun’s strengths as a singer (there’s a reason why Jieun has stuck to ballads in her solo work) while it also had a rather memorable video attached to it. Outside of a horn riff, “25” isn’t memorable at all. One can appreciate the fact that TS Entertainment went for a completely different concept for “25”. However, while “25” attempts to give Jieun something different to do, it distressingly makes the mistake of giving Jieun a song and video which any idol could do.