*Note: This review will be for the “Sexy Version” of “Sketch” because NO HALF MEASURES here.
Needless to say, while the teasers for “Sketch” were definitely eye-grabbing, I was a bit trepidatious over Hyomin’s second solo effort, if for no other reason than the fact that her first single, “Hot Body” was a mess from a musical and thematic standpoint. Thankfully, Hyomin’s newest comeback “Sketch” has little in common with “Hot Body” outside of Hyomin herself. Whereas “Hot Body” was a meandering dance pop track that could barely inspire a head bob set to an even more aimless video of Hyomin posing in various states of sexy, “Sketch” is a much more focused song and that actually delivers on its mature concept.
Considering that most of the attention for “Sketch” will likely be on the video (because Hyomin), the biggest improvement that “Sketch” makes over Hyomin’s previous single “Hot Body” is the actual song. Wisely working with Hyomin’s strengths as a singer (a fairly light and clear voice) and working around her weaknesses (namely a lack of full-bodied power), “Sketch” finds a good balance between its modern R&B minimalistic synth-populated spaciness and its smart use of double-tracked vocals and a “harder” tempo (the electronic percussion does so much work) that gives the song a needed grounded bite.
“Sketch” does have some weaknesses that often plague steamy R&B tracks. Because it is more or less sexytime mood music, “Sketch” doesn’t seem to even intend to leave much of an impact. There isn’t a very memorable hook to be found and the instrumental bridge is a bit lackluster. However, as far as sexytime mood music goes, “Sketch” is pretty damn good. The production hits all the right sultry but never laborious notes while Hyomin brings a welcomed dreamy lightness that suits her as a performer. In other words, “Sketch” works and it works well.
As far as visual concepts go, having Hyomin do a straight up concept featuring sex is about as foolproof as simple addition. The good news is that “Sketch” doesn’t mess up its rather straightforward task. The bad news is that it doesn’t really try to do anything more complex than 1 +1 =2. First and foremost, props must be given to “Sketch” for actually committing to depicting sex. It says something about a genre full of “sexy” concepts that depicting a woman actually indulging in sex still seems somewhat eye-opening but “Sketch” doesn’t shy away from its more sexual leanings and that in and of itself keeps the video from becoming too milquetoast.
Unfortunately, outside of its frank acknowledgment that, gasp, a young woman can enjoy sex, “Sketch” doesn’t try to push the envelop in other ways. The direction and editing are pretty boring; a series of slow cuts and still shots that never surprise or excite on their own. Hyomin’s wardrobe aims for boilerplate sexiness, and while it definitely achieves that, her styling in “Sketch” doesn’t make the video any more memorable or noteworthy. Ultimately, “Sketch” relies mostly on Hyomin and her hot partner to carry the show and while they ultimately do (because, again, Hyomin), it’s difficult to escape the fact that, outside of its depictions of actual sex-happenings, “Sketch” is simply a competently made K-Pop video.
“Sketch” gets a lot more right than it gets wrong. The song is solid and fits the sex concept to a tee. The video thankfully doesn’t shy away from its sexual themes even if it doesn’t try to do that much with them creatively (I can’t help but watch this and then think of how this pales in comparison to what Ga-In is able to do thematically and artistically around the subject of sex). Still, while it may not pack a hugely ambitious artistic punch, “Sketch” is able to successfully unify its concept around its game star and an appropriately steamy track and for that, it’s not hard to say that second time is the charm for Hyomin.