I harbor a long-standing skepticism when it comes to debuts from rookie groups, mainly because the genre is inundated with new groups each month and most aren’t that great. So, I hadn’t planned on writing anything on the rookie debut of Matilda, partly because the group’s name caused my eyes to glaze over and partly because the group’s first single is called “Macarena,” which didn’t do anything to inspire much confidence in the track. Much to my surprise, “Macarena” is actually a very decent debut. The video is understandably a bit low budget and paint-by-the-numbers but the song exhibits a near-pathological peppiness that is undoubtedly winning.
“Macarena” has modest aims (Be cheerful! Be bright!) but it manages to bludgeon both goals with an agreeable and addictive precision. The song moves at a breakneck pace, propelled by gleeful horns, marching snares, bouncy bass, and an electric tempo that simply doesn’t (outside of a pace-changing bridge) quit. A song that utilizes this much whip-cracking energy and volume would usually run the risk of devolving into a muddled mess of noise but that potential downturn is mitigated by Matlida themselves. The group hits their lines with a crispness that rises above the track, from the staccato hits on the “bum-bum-bum-bums,” to the verses that are sung with a hip-pop precision to the truly magnificent choruses that Matilda manage to inject with a frenzied joy that does the caffeinated production justice. The obligatory slow-burn bridge even shows that Matlida has some pretty good vocal chops when they aren’t going full pop on everyone. Clocking in at just under three minutes, “Macarena” doesn’t overstay its welcome. It hits hard and fast and that keeps Matlida’s debut effort from ever being numbing (and provides pretty decent replay value to boot).
If there is a downside to “Macarena,” it’s that the video is a bit boring in comparison to the song. All of the usual dance-in-a-box tropes are utilized here, from the plain white background for the choreograph shots to the individual shots that seem to utilize the same space. The direction and editing almost entirely use straight on shots and close-ups with some clip art special effects. Still, it’s hard to fault “Macarena” too much over these things because it’s very likely that the video was shot on a limited budget and the cheesiness manages to match the song quite well. And, most importantly of all, the choreography largely manages to avoid the accursed dance of the same name! Taken together, while Matilda’s “Macarena” has a few problems of creativity when it comes to its visual presentation, it still manages to convincingly convey a sweet liveliness that is damn fun.
While I can’t say that I have a clear idea of who Matilda is or what their plans are to distinguish themselves from the rest of the scene, “Macarena” is a very promising start for the group’s K-Pop career. If the pure pop joy of “Macarena” is indicative of Matlida’s talent and pop sensibilities, then I will definitely eagerly await their (if the K-Pop gods are kind) next release.