Review: Nine Muses – “Hurt Locker” Is Here To Slay The Summer

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July is going to be a crowded one for K-Pop so, given the nature of how quickly releases come and go, Nine Muses’ “Hurt Locker” is facing stiff competition this month. However, if “Hurt Locker” doesn’t manage to dominate the airways, it won’t be for a lack of quality as Nine Muses’ latest comeback is a smartly constructed summer jam that utilizes the group’s strengths, both as vocalists and as performers, in great harmony with the song’s catchy beat.

The really fantastic element of “Hurt Locker” is the balance of the production. The verses utilize a minimal riff and raspy snares to great effect, creating a lightness that allows the vocals to be the focal point. The transitions into the choruses are built up properly so that the richer synth-driven hooks provide a greater and much appreciated contrast. Nine Muses acquit themselves nicely on vocals as the addictive dance track is something that the group does just about as well as anyone else in the genre (Truthfully, given their body of work over the past two years, the only group that I’d say rivals Nine Muses in that regard is T-ara). Hyemi and Hyuna do their usual heavy lifting while Kyungri gets plenty to do in “Hurt Locker” and her recognizable delivery adds a nice quirkiness that helps give the track some personality (Not sure if I’m a fan of Kyungri’s singing quite yet as she often sounds like she has a cold but it works here). If there’s one part of the song that doesn’t quite gel, it’s Euaerin’s rap which sounds a little shoe-horned in for a song that seems to strive for airy warmth. Still, Eauerin raps are never dull and its inclusion is a minor nitpick for such a solid track.

Never, ever dull.

Never, ever dull.

As far as visually, Nine Muses doesn’t deviate much from its formula – build a set, have 9 8 9 7 8 9 7 6 8 performers who could moonlight as super models dance on said set, profit. “Hurt Locker” makes a great choice by going for a ship yard set and the containers’ color schemes really help light up the video without being overbearing. Like the best set constructions, the ship yard is definitely a presence, it synergizes with the group’s overall wardrobe and look and it’s not distracting in the least. Still, as good of a backdrop as the ship yard is, it often feels like the group could have done more with it. The final shots of the “Making of” video for “Hurt Locker” demonstrates some of the potential of the shipping containers and it’s unfortunate that those scenes were cut from the final version.

The group’s wardrobe and styling great, as usual. I’m not exactly sure what look the group was going for with its group and choreography shots but they’re perfectly glitzy for a dance number and the standard-fare K-Pop attire that the members wear for individual shots are fine for a summer jam. Anything that gets Hyuna or Kyungri back in front of a camera isn’t going to elicit many complaints from here.

Choreo is fine and gud.

Choreo is fine and gud.

The odd thing about “Hurt Locker” is that it is, on the one hand, a fairly solid Nine Muses release that is an improvement over “Drama” but not quite at the level of the group’s unbelievably amazing 2013 releases (as a reminder, the group released “Dolls,” “Wild,” “Gun” and “Glue” in one freaking year). On the other hand, while it may just be slightly above average for Nine Muses, “Hurt Locker” is still addictive, fun and it’s probably my favorite music video that’s been released in the past two months. The song has a replay quality to it thanks to the deft production that doesn’t wear out its welcome and one simply does not tire of basking in the glory of Nine Muses themselves. July is going to be a very busy month for K-Pop but Nine Muses has definitely set an early bar for other groups to reach.

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6 comments

  1. rohaniyerdxb · · Reply

    I wholeheartedly agree with the entirety of the last paragraph. Overall, the track itself is pleasant to listen to and will stick in my head a whole lot longer than “Drama” and even “Glue”.

    When I saw the video the first thought that popped in my head was “Wow, there seems to be some capital injected into the production”. Some nice aerial shots, nice cars, etc. The wardrobe for the main choreo was also colorful & vibrant. The next two thoughts were related to them dancing on boxes instead of in a box (har har) and about me not being able to CONTAIN my excitement (see what I did there)….

    “Wild”, in addition to being one of their best tracks, is also my favorite K-Pop track to date (it’s the track that introduced me to this site). It will require something truly special to overtake that – 2013 was just such a great year man.

    I do wish them all the success with this release though. They deserve it.

    Talking about how good they looked in this video might be the painfully obvious thing to do, but I wanted to draw some attention to how much Hyemi has blossomed. Not only does she look more gorgeous than ever (with her own teaser to boot – thanks to some competition on Namyu Cast), she is doing a commendable job of filling in the shoes of a certain someone in the vocal department.

    Sojin & Kumjo are starting to find their place and I am really happy about that. Sungah is killing it with this haircut and Hyuna is forever.

    Now onto SNSD, Apink and Girls Day (this summer is going to have a long recovery period).

  2. I guess I’m still bitter about Sera’s treatment and how some of these girls acted like lazy spoiled brats in the BBC documentary. I just have a hard time liking this lineup, as pretty as they are.

  3. I feel that this song is emblematic of K-Pop girl group releases over the last few months. Like many of the songs, it’s not half bad but not something that I’d like immediately, nor grow fonder of with repeat listening. Still holding out hope for that one great earworm with a wicked hook this summer.

  4. Shadow · · Reply

    I’ve gotten to the point to where I like this track. The rap part is out of place and distracts from the song. It should have been left out. But otherwise the dance and music are good. The girls are incredibly beautiful, and I also place this one as the best out of the bunch so far.

    1. Shadow · · Reply

      I forgot. There’s another reason for hoping this track hits No. 1.

      http://www.koreaboo.com/news/9muses-promises-wear-swimsuits-performance-hit-1/

  5. roelm · · Reply

    The rap doesn’t quite go along with the flow of the song. It does add some variation, however, and sets up scene, so to speak, for the next portion. I like the variation between the different parts of the song and prevents it from becoming too simple. I love the feeling of letting go/ecstasy at the conclusion of the chorus; the club beat underlying the choral vocals also add some sensuality. A bit reminiscent of the effect in Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”.

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