Review: KARA – ‘Cupid’ Is Hard To Love But Easy To Like

KARA-CUPID2

Kara has found a good deal of success through its synth heavy dance pop, so it’s not that surprising that the group has gone in that direction with their past few singles, especially given the member shakeup that occurred in 2014. It’s also not a bad move by Kara, considering that their discography contains some of the most enjoyable dance music that K-Pop has to offer. So, while the group’s latest single ‘Cupid’ isn’t amazingly successful when compared to the group’s previous efforts, it does contain many agreeable aspects that make for a solid, if unspectacular, comeback.

The odd thing about ‘Cupid’ is that it has a bunch of really nice individual elements that don’t adhere together as well as they probably should. The bring a pretty slick 80’s inspired synth riff that could have been plucked straight out of a Madonna homage and the percussion and bass help create a workable dance beat. The choruses are appropriately bass heavy and give “Cupid” some substance to go with its glitz. Each member does really well with their parts, especially Youngji, who provides a very pleasant rap break. However, when taken all together, the individual pieces make for a less than stellar final product. “Cupid” suffers from a “sameness” that is present throughout the song. While each member can be distinctly recognized thanks to their unique voices, an auto-tune sheen “flattens” out the vocals which makes Kara lose a lot of their impact, especially against the similarly electronic dance pop. The choruses lack a catchy element as well and they feel like they run too long as a result. Taken together, the song simply doesn’t have much momentum, no matter how gamely Gyuri wails to try and add some “oomph” to ‘Cupid’. This doesn’t mean that ‘Cupid’ is bad. Kara can make hip-shaking dance music in its sleep and this route is much more preferable to the group’s bubblegum ‘aegyo-ish’ songs. However, there’s no mistaking that Kara has put out better tracks than Cupid over the past couple of years either.

THE VIDEO THO.

THE VIDEO THO.

On the other hand, the video is pretty much on point. The concept doesn’t make that much sense outside of the whole ‘dance-in-a-box’ thing but at least ‘Cupid’ is stylistically coherent. Pastel teals and pinks enrich each blindingly white set piece. Kara’s outfits either stick to the color themes or they play off of the ‘Cupid’s’ heavy emphasis on gems and flowers (the group thankfully left those giant ass bows from their album teasers behind) so there’s nothing that seems outlandish or completely random (aside from the cowboy hats, not that I’m complaining). The camera is able to pan well and provide some Dutch angles that honestly help make ‘Cupid’ seem more dynamic than your average K-Pop video. Lastly, as if it needs to be said, Kara looks damn good in ‘Cupid’. Youngji is cute as hell. Seungyeon’s smile is a miracle. Gyuri shines through an unfortunate bout of glitter. Lastly, while I’m firmly #TeamGyuri, I have no qualms in saying that Hara could have single-handedly slayed this entire video by herself. The girl brought it.

You the real MVP.

You the real MVP.

From a visual standpoint, ‘Cupid’ fires on all cylinders. It may not aim to be the most ambitious of videos but it does a fine job showcasing its stars and that’s more than enough in this case.

‘Cupid’ isn’t a disappointment but it’s not an improvement over Kara’s previous singles like ‘Mamma Mia‘ and ‘Damaged Lady.’ The song possesses that synth dance-pop fun that Kara has hammered consistently with their K-Pop releases for the past four years but it doesn’t contain a catchy hook or powerful musical riff that are often the best parts of Kara’s singles (see ‘STEP’s’ synths or ‘Mamma Mia’s’ hook). Still, while it may be hard to love ‘Cupid’ ~groan~, there is plenty (Hara) to like here (Gyuri) as Kara’s dance music (and Hara/Gyuri) is enjoyable if nothing else.

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10 comments

  1. Shadow · · Reply

    Kara needed a good comeback, and this is it. The song is good, it’s catchy in a good way, and the girls look amazing. It’s already made it to the mp3s in the Jeep.

    The only criticisms I have is that the choreography is somehow off or lacking. It’s too slow, or something. I can’t quite put a finger on it. And Seungyeon should have had the long note for the climax instead of Gyuri. But, if you put the energy and dance like Mamma Mia to this track, and let Seungyeon wail like she can, this song and video would be exceptional.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I love this song, and believe it will be a hit for the girls. And the cowboy hats just work.

    1. Well we can agree on those cowboy hats at least.

  2. Your review is spot on. ‘Cupid’ sounds like a watered-down version ‘Mamma Mia’ (which I personally thought wasn’t as good as their previous work but passable as their comeback & new lined up Single). Not CL ‘Dr Pepper’ bad but too much “sameness” and nothing really stands out. I swear even the video looks like it was shot in the same white set as Mamma Mia, except more stripped down. Heck, even ‘Cupid’ from Oh My Girl had more kick than this. Meh.

  3. Nadine · · Reply

    Hello Yellowslug,
    I like your site, but the new lay-out scrolling on the homepage not so much. It always surprises me and it skips one article. :/

    Greetings!

  4. Hara is a genuine goddess, and she’s getting better with age. Other than that this is just a Mama Mia b side.

  5. Good review, although maybe a little TOO kind. Average tune at best, IMHO. Yes, the Video IS better than the song, but that’s not saying much for the video either.

    What’s Kent’s line.. “lottery jackpot on the genetic gene-pool”? Yes, that can certainly be said about Goo Hara.. I was in awe the first time I saw her in Invincible Youth (& still am). BUT, _I_ think there is a thing as too much makeup & hair-dye. If she’s going to carry a video (& the video carry the track) she could look much, much better.

    It’s sad to see really. Mama Mia wasn’t that great, but it was better than this… and it was impressive to see it coming so fast after the roster change. Had some real hope for Kara. Now I’m thinking that they have confirmed the fact that they are yesterday’s news despite the addition of wonderful Young Ji.

    1. It’s probably Kara fanboi shining through a bit more than it should.

      1. Hey, we’ve all got our biases. I have an irrational love for SNSD’s Tiffany.

  6. Shadow · · Reply

    Looks like I’m in the minority on this one.

  7. I really liked this track, seemingly more than just about everyone else. Whoops.

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