If there is a fear to be had when it comes to SPICA, it’s that the group may have already maximized what it does best. There is comfort in finding one’s comfort zone in pop music and SPICA has seemingly known theirs from the start. Strong ballads and R&B tunes worked together perfectly when paired with SPICA’s five great vocalists. So it’s not much of a surprise that “Ghost” is, without a doubt, an amazing ballad executed brilliantly by a group who can produce this type of stuff in their sleep. However, a honing of form doesn’t necessarily mean much if no one cares about it.
SPICA’s formula is followed to a tee in “Ghost”. Although the production team of Sweetune is more well known for their synth-laden disco sound, they’ve tailored their talents to SPICA’s strengths in pop ballads. A repetitive piano riff, snare drums and a running guitar warble have all the spark and originality of a church band, albeit a pretty savvy church band. No matter how cliched the sound is, sometimes cliches exist for good reasons. Like every other SPICA release, “Ghost” foregoes catchy or innovative sounds for what amounts to a character-less canvas of sound.
Given such an easy and calculated target, the group demolishes “Ghost”. There’s just the right amount of breaths taken to give “Ghost” an authentic feel and the choruses are outstanding as SPICA is able to translate so much emotion through their voices. Not to be overlooked, Juhyun’s rap is also a great example of a rap bridge which flows well within the structure of the song. The four other members of SPICA all deliver as the middle-register notes play well within every member’s comfort level (Bohyung and Boa’s pipes are of no surprise but “Ghost” shows that Narae is probably underrated in SPICA). When it comes to the vocals, “Ghost” is sublime.
The video will never be faulted for being too ambitious but it gets the job done. Through a mixture of slow motion and hazy filters, there is a thin but appreciated plot to what amounts to a SPICA runway show. Two women get their hearts crushed by the same guy, only for the guy to show up out of nowhere and choose one of the girls right in front of the other. Somehow, everyone is cool with this. Whatever the improbable K-Drama tie-ups, the video at least fits thematically with the song which is appropriate considering how neat and tidy “Ghost” is. Narae gets most of the main billing to the complaint of no one as the rest of the four members play extras during the plot parts. The members’ wardrobe, make up and styling are all on point, a little plain but flattering. “Ghost” is a conservative endeavor but SPICA nails each low hurdle with aplomb.
As fantastic as “Ghost” is for a SPICA single, it also showcases the group’s biggest weakness- namely that they keep playing to their strengths (SPICA didn’t even try to do much different with their sub-unit SPICA.S). And while that would be great for a group that enjoys a large and sustainable fan base, it may not work for SPICA. The group keeps putting out average productions with some of the best vocals in K-Pop and the reception has been less than wildly enthusiastic – even after they received tutelage from K-Pop business maestro Lee Hyori. “Ghost” is a great representation of SPICA at top form. However, at some point doing the same thing over and over (no matter how flawless that thing is) and expecting different results has to start counting as insanity.