It may already be time to call The Year in K-Pop 2016 because it’s going to take a Herculean effort to top the sheer energy, joy and Conan-ness of J.Y. Park’s insanely catchy “Fire.”
Embracing the cheesy rock style of the eighties (fittingly enough considering that the Wonder Girls, who had their own eighties inspired release last year, make an appearance in “Fire” as one hell of an overqualified backup band) with all the enthusiasm of a starving child in a candy shop, “Fire” is an absolute blast. The song keeps its party-atmosphere propelling forward with relentlessly delirious snare beats, bouncing synths and a key instrumental break that strikes the perfect balance between hilariously corny and cliched. And as good as the production is (and it’s pretty much flawless), J.Y. Park finds the right ways to elevate “Fire” to new heights. The man brings out some straight on-point falsetto work and intermixes it with just enough rock-star grit to keep the song from sounding too poppy or light. “Fire” is the sort of obviously silly throwback that requires a singer who is equally adept at playing a part as they are at singing a tune and there is no doubt that J.Y. Park knew exactly what type of song he was making with “Fire” and how he could convincingly win over an audience to go along with his glittery bombast. “Fire” sets out to be nothing but fun and it succeeds beyond measure.
Speaking of fun, THIS VIDEO. It actually feels unfair to single out anything in particular for praise because there is so much to eagerly digest here. CONAN. STEVEN YEUN. YUBIN ON DRUMS. JYP’S IMMORTAL ZUBAZ PAJAMA GET-UP. CONAN’S SIGNATURE PUPPET STRING DANCE. CAMEOS BY TWICE AND THE WONDER GIRLS. A SET THAT SHOOTS FLAMES. K-POP BOURBON. WHATEVER THE HELL THIS IS:
Like the best Conan bits, not one second of manic energy is wasted in “Fire.” By the time that Steven Yeun, Conan, JYP and TWICE are laying down the string dance choreography, all that is left to do is bow down in amazement and hit replay.
It won’t gain nearly the same amount of traction, but this is the closest I’ve come to enjoying a K-Pop video for its odd ball humor, committed energy and insane instant replay value since “Gangnam Style.” Like the iconic pony dance hit song that somehow became a global phenomenon, “Fire” knows how to use humor to its advantage, how to use its guest stars, how to make a kickass dance that is easy to do and silly to watch and, most importantly, how to convince an audience to buy into its performative fun. Give it up for JYP. “Fire” is fire.