After a very long wait, Nine Muses is back with “Drama.” The most intriguing aspect of Nine Muses’ latest release was how the group would respond to losing/booting a third of its members and whether their replacements (Sojin and Keumjo) could help Nine Muses pick up right where they left off in 2013. The good news is that “Drama” is a fairly successful song which demonstrates that the Nine Muses train can run smoothly even as the roster never seems to stabilize. The disappointing news is that “Drama” plays things so safely that it’s hard to call it a smashing success either.
The production for “Drama” is conservatively smart. The brisker pace combined with lighter instrumentals, especially a very light snare and fairly high keys interplay with a bopping bass to create a fluffy dance beat that is remarkable even throughout and never threatens to overtake the vocals. The moderate approach makes sense but “Drama” never reaches the exhilarating highs of “Wild” or “Dolls.” Instead, it’s the musical equivalent of lob down the middle of the plate. Thankfully, Nine Muses doesn’t strikeout but it’s not like they’re swinging for the fences either.
The rap heavy first third of “Drama” is so promising but the latter part of the song doesn’t live up to the first minute. Euaerin kills the opener and then is barely heard from again. Sungah, appearing to take over Eunji’s old spot as “Nine Muses’ other rapper” does quite well for herself as well. But then Nine Muses’ other vocalists enter and the song sort of flatlines from there. To be fair, it’s not really the fault of any of the members, old or new. The decision to have every member sing in a similarly high and airy tone doesn’t do enough to add meat to “Drama.” It’s of little surprise that, outside of Euaerin, the highlights of the song often belong to Hyuna, who brings a lower register and a fuller sound to her lines that “Drama” could have used more of.
When it comes to making a quality music video, Nine Muses hasn’t missed a beat. The group has always displayed a nice knack for making visually pleasing and easy-to-follow dance-in-the-box concepts and “Drama” is no exception. The direction and editing is not imaginative but “Drama” sidesteps this by knowing that the strength of any Nine Muses video will often be the looks of the members themselves. And thankfully, unlike some other sexy concepts that have come out this year, that means a lot of solo shots of each member rather than heavily cut shots of disembodied chests and legs. Indeed, outside of brief dance-in-a-box set shots and a couple of group couch set shots that looks like it was pilfered from Candy Land, “Drama” is mostly solo shots. Given how stunning every member of the group looks and how on-point the styling and wardrobe is for each member, it’s a very defensible decision (having so many solo shots also helps hide the fact that the choreography doesn’t appear to be very interesting). It’s also an incredibly safe one and the abundance of nice, very pretty solo shots hinders “Drama” from a concept standpoint. It’s taken for granted that the members of Nine Muses are the “wow factor” but that in and of itself doesn’t help differentiate it from other Nine Muses releases which often tried to do a little more with their concepts, whether that be the black and white and slightly S&M concept of “Wild”, the latex-ridden “Glue” or the retro-western motif of “Gun.”
By itself, “Drama” is a fine music video but “fine” seems to be all that Nine Muses was shooting for with their latest comeback. And while it’s not that surprising that Nine Muses would err on the side of caution given their new lineup, “Drama” could have used a little more spark, especially given how hot it starts right out of the gate. Consistency is a virtue but it’s less admirable when one appears to be shooting for just-above-average. Hopefully, the group will try tackling new and more exciting things in the future as the various roles and individual talents of the members are solidified.