Nine Muses’ newest single “Sleepless Night” may be one of the few songs that actually hits its conceptual mark too well. While “Sleepless Night” is a perfectly accessible Brave Brothers Production™, the comeback doesn’t really do enough to highlight Nine Muses which leaves the single feeling a bit unsatisfactory and fitful like a, sigh, sleepless night.
“Sleepless Night” is the most deliberate single that Nine Muses has released and now that it’s out, it’s a bit more clear as to why the group hasn’t really gone this route before. The Brave Brothers beat hits traditional Brave Brothers notes as a snare drum and keys provide the bulk of the song’s desolate dreariness while a higher pitched raspy whistle and Nine Muses’ auto-tuned breathless vocals give “Sleepless Night” a sultriness that gives the song some energy. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to make the song come to life. The foundation of Brave Brothers’ patient beat and Nine Muses’ work on the track is enough to provide a passable four minutes but there aren’t many stand out moments in “Sleepless Night.” The double-tracked auto-tuned vocals don’t give the members many opportunities to take charge and the resulting bland uniformity of sound doesn’t add much outside of atmosphere. The instrumental interlude in the middle of the song doesn’t shake things up either as it’s more or less a run of the same beat that is already ingrained in the song. Euaerin’s rap provides a searing dose of electric energy (which Brave Brothers smartly mixes with some added electronic edge) but her part comes and goes much too quickly and leaves Nine Muses’ rapper feeling really underutilized. Between that and the somewhat sleepy (no pun intended) processed vocals, “Sleepless Night” is the first Nine Muses song since the roster changes of 2014 where the absence of a strong vocalist like Sera or a complementary strong rapper like Eunji is most clearly felt. It’s not a great sign when the “singer” who seems to emote the most is the sample of the guy chiming in with “Baaay-be” in the background.
The visuals are more in line with what one has come to expect from Nine Muses. The members look unsurprisingly flawless and the conceptual theme of… nighttime depression (?) fits with the somber Brave Brothers track. However, while past Nine Muses videos were much more reliant on its dance-in-a-box elements, “Sleepless Night” only provides a few glimpses of choreography in favor of shots of Nine Muses looking stupidly stunning while popping pills, throwing up, engaging in nihilistic orgies and being in general states of The Sad. It’s all fine and shot as clearly and deliberately as the song’s tempo, but the lack of choreography bits leaves the video looking a little amorphous when there’s no plot or memorable set piece that really binds the various images of “K-Pop super model having a bad night” together. On the bright side, who can ever tire of Kyungri?
“Sleepless Night” may not be a huge success but it would also be wrong to label it a failure. The Brave Brothers beat is fairly addictive after a couple of listens. The video provides a fair amount of Nine Muses glory for all to behold. However, the song (fittingly) suffers from a listlessness that affects both the vocals and the tempo of the video. Still, the video makes a somewhat convincing case that Nine Muses can pull off a more gloomy concept, even if it seems like they were constrained by at-times overbearing production fine-tuning and a visual direction that doesn’t lend itself to dynamic visual shots. Hopefully, there will be more trust placed in the group to pull off melancholy on their own the next time around.