Review: Mamamoo – “Um Oh Ah Yeh” Is A Very Good Song That Gets Lost In A Questionable Video

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After a couple great teasers and a rather promising sampling of their latest single, Mamamoo has finally released their funky dress-up single “Um Oh Ah Yeh.”  The good news? The song is a well made and slick pop song that is easy to take in and enjoy. The bad news? The video threatens to upend the slickness of the single with a plot that simply doesn’t mesh well with the lightweight peppiness of the music.

On a positive note, “Um Oh Ah Yeh” is a fairly solid summer pop song. While it definitely eschews from Mamamoo’s soul sound, the funky synth line that plays throughout the single is absolutely addicting and the jaunty tempo of the verses works perfectly with Moonbyul’s and Hwasa’s rap parts and it keeps the whole song feeling incredibly light – a quality that is much appreciated in jams for the warmest months of the year. The chorus is masterful; a deadly combination of persuasive synths and an earworm-worthy hook of “um oh ah yeah (yes?)”. If there is a downside to “Um Oh Ah Yeh,” it’s simply that this sort of funky beat doesn’t allow the members to exhibit their rather usual bluesy flair and the vocals sound a tad nondescript as a result. Still, what “Um Oh Ah Yeh” lacks in wallop it makes up in its imminent replayability.

Hwasa doesn't need no throne.

Hwasa doesn’t need no throne.

By comparison, the video for ‘Um Oh Ah Yeh” is a bit more ~problematic~. The girls look amazing during the choreography bits and the wardrobe and makeup for Hwasa, Wheein and Moonbyul’s characters are pretty great (shout out to Hwasa’s Leno-jaw). No, in a rarity, the most distracting and ~problematic~ element of the video ends up being the story line and not the more cookie-cutter elements that are the usual targets of ire in these little reviews. Watching Solar’s attempts to woo Moonbyul through her (apparently) three jobs as a French maid, a flight attendant and a nurse is wince-inducing. Increasingly questionable actions such as roofy-ing a drink and straight up trying to take advantage of a drugged patient are played for laughs as is Hwasa’s sexual harassment of Solar’s thirsty maid-attendant-nurse. The big problem is that, at best, it’s mildly amusing. At worst, it’s tonally jarring to watch so much humor being invested into base creepiness, especially given the levity of everything around it. At the very least, it detracts from the song and the other elements of the video that are done quite well.

solar mamamoo

Girl…

Out of Mamamoo’s singles so far, “Um Oh Ah Yeh” sounds like the most radio-friendly out of the bunch. That is not a dig at the song at all. “Um Oh Ah Yeh” rests on the “inconsequentially enjoyable” side of the pop spectrum and the synth line does killer work while the vocalists do some good work with what they’ve been given. The video, while very promising in concept, flubs the execution. Now, this could be a cultural humor thing (or I could just be an SJW-Tumblrite-Male-Feminazi) but the way that plot aspect plays out is so overwhelmingly distracting that I had to listen to the song without the video to really get into it. Whenever I tried to just play the video, I’d always reach a point where I’d go, “Wait, is this really happening?”. The saving grace of all of this is that if the live performances are good (and they certainly seem to be) then Mamamoo may have a hit on their hands as that would allow everyone to simply enjoy a great beat and nice vocals without having to think about the implications of… whatever Solar is doing in this.

My entire reaction to this video summed up in one gif.

My entire reaction to this video summed up in one gif.

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7 comments

  1. Nailed it. Decent ear-worm, but the MV was a bit too rapey for me.

  2. Shadow · · Reply

    This is a sell out, pure and simple. This group had a sound that was outstanding. And then they do this.

    1. Is the song a sell-out? Maybe, but it worked. The song is charting crazy high, outselling everything else they’ve ever put out.
      It’s really not a big deal. It’s an amazing song/choreo to perform live and the rest of their mini-album is full of top-notch tracks that are truer to their original colours. Just because their title track is more radio-friendly doesn’t mean they’re abandoning their sound.

    2. Well one thing to keep in mind is that in Korea, it isn’t the group that sells out. The system is such that the group is already bought and has no say in the material they are handed. It is their company that sells out. The group’s only option would be to refuse to perform material, which would end in their termination and owing the company for all costs associated with the training, debut, and comeback costs. This isn’t like some rock band that signs with a label in the US or Britain and only signs if they maintain near absolute creative control. It’s just a sad situation as I wonder how often the ladies in these groups just cringe at the concepts they are given and the way they have to act in videos. I doubt women anywhere like making light of the use of date-rape drugs and objectification of women. Of course, sometimes financial success provides a counterweight to that feeling of disgust as so many groups don’t make much money.

    3. It’s pop music. The whole point is to sellout.

      1. lol. good point.

    4. rohaniyerdxb · · Reply

      The way i see it, this is a necessary evil unfortunately. I imagine that these “conventional” releases help subsidize the more niche ones. The bills need to be paid and sadly I am uncertain of how well the other releases did (financially). Look at what happened with Spica.

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