Should the voting for the Golden Disk Awards have happened today, and somehow I was a member of the voting committee, Ace of Angels would be my unquestioned vote for the female Newcomer Award. Usually I don’t muster myself to proclaiming such a bold statement shortly after any release, as I am generally one to never be completely satisfied with any musical or visual production. However, FNC Entertainment pulled all the right stops when it came to the creation, production, and distribution of their new rookie group’s release ‘Angels’ Story‘.
Do I think they are the most talented group to have hit the market in K-Pop recently? Absolutely not. Their vocal talent, rapping skills, composition originality, and choreography are far from the skills possessed among the respective elite groups that are already in the K-Pop market. At the same time,AOA does not posses any glaringly weaknesses in these skills either. AOA strikes me as the jack of all trades and master of none: while not powerfully strong, they are not grotesquely bad in any respect either. Other groups delivering this similar overall descriptor, to me, would be Girls’ Generation orKARA, and we all know how successful these groups have been. AOA has simply delivered one of the most polished and solid overall packages in quite some time, and one that is normally expected from a seasoned K-Pop group. This delivery is thus enough—surprisingly—to separate them from the black hole of the music world that sucks in those who cannot pull this off into an abyss of the forgettable.
I must admit that I am relieved that the way the concept of the group ended up being finalized. Despite the imagery associated with the term “angel“, this group has succeeded in not simply casting upon us an overly aegyo or innocent image that has been dotting the mosaic of the K-Pop landscape recently. While there is no doubt that this type of imagery is weaved throughout their music video, the production company does a brilliant job in showing us the multiple facades of the group during its duration. This gives the group a strong visual variety rather than what would have been the almost-cheesy angel concept. This wise choice easily allows them to possess a great deal staying power in the K-Pop market.
The first track of ‘Angels’ Story‘ is “Elvis“, the track that has been their promotional song of choice in the days leading to the groups’ official release. When I first heard the title of this track and was exposed to brief samples of the song, SECRET’s “Madonna” immediately came to mind as a song that could be comparable. While “Madonna” didn’t have the most original lyrics, as it was mostly repeating the word “Madonna” and fragments of the word thereafter, the group succeeded in adhering the ears of the masses by their simple, yet surprisingly catchy melody and music video eye candy. “Elvis” follows along this formula rather closely. Most of their song consists of the word “Elvis, shalalala, dededede, and show me your love“, along with other repetitive vocalized phrasing. While this composition would likely never win an award for originality, the melody, though likewise simplistic, is addictively catchy. It is so catchy, in fact, that I found myself humming this song later in the night while I was running, which is usually a time for me to ponder slightly more philosophical quandaries of the universe. This simply hasn’t happened since I first first encountered Girls’ Generation’s “Gee” x number of years ago. If this song can make such an imprint in my mind, then I can only imagine how strong of an impression it must be on the rest of the K-Pop consumer populace. It likely won’t be a melody that is thrown to the waste side of the mind anytime soon.
The song does a decent job at splitting up lines amongst vocal members, which is always a challenge for any group that contains eight members. It is, however, obvious that ChoA is the strongest vocally of the group, for not only is she given the most prominent singing lines but her voice seems to be the most refined as it possesses a slightly richer timbre than her counterparts. The producers do an effective job in splitting up the camera exposure time for each member in the music video. I’m sure that fans of this group will enjoy the equal share time as while each member is as fresh-faced and highly attractive as any girl group that K-Pop has seen, each individual possesses her own distinctly unique visual quality that will not only garner them their own cult following of fans, but appeal to a larger base of visual consumers with the combination of their visuals.
There are only two worthwhile gripes I have when it comes to the song and music video. First, while I absolutely love the introduction of this track—a combination of straight-ahead electronic funk, despite the overly fake saxophone synth patch, and pop-based rap—I felt the rapping seemed somewhat weak overall. Surely the rappers, JiMin and MinA, do appear to be seasoned, but the short, lyrically tacky lines they churn out prove this to not be the greatest outlet to demonstrate their skills. While I can understand the attempt to give the group a slight level of aggressiveness to separate them from the pure innocent image concept, this simply ends up being a filler rather than an integral part of the song. Second, the choreography of this song leaves much to be desired. It’s not bad, per say, but as this group will clearly not be known as a vocal-only group, it leaves much to be improved upon. The choreography is as simplistic as a half-time show of an average high school dance team, and the suggested sexiness they were attempting to portray seems forced and ineffective.
The rest of the release isn’t quite as strong as the leading track, but then again that’s the case with most single releases. The second song, “Love Is Only You” is a harmless ballad portraying how important the protagonist’s love interest is to that protagonist. Should I have to sum up the song in one word, it would simply be “nice“. It’s not revolutionary, but contains all of the necessary elements of creating a successfully pulled off and easily accessible love ballad. The members are given a better outlet to show off their vocal skills than the previous song, but some voices just come off as annoying and thus fail slightly at their respective wailing, while some are being pulled off rather well. Perhaps the most interesting part of this song is the trade-off of the words of the title, “love is only you”, between the vocalist and slightly synthesized rapper towards the middle and end of the track. Despite it being arguably the most simplistic part of the song, the message that the title of this song tries to express is perhaps the most definitive here, and thus, the most effective at portraying this overwhelming sense of desire and love.
The last track, “Temptation“, is a moderate tempo, electronic dance track. This is by far the most vocally pleasing track musically speaking, despite the other musical elements being somewhat bland. The members are given much allowance in showing off their vocal inflections, and ChoA demonstrates again why she is the vocal leader with her deep voice that just powers the rest of the group. While the vocals are effective, the rest of the track is dull and unvaried. Many dance-based tracks are guilty of this negative aspect, but this track is especially guilty of being overly static in just about every manner. The track stays in the same mood, texture, and dynamic range throughout its entirety, and leaves the overall impression of slight boringness onto the listener. Nonetheless, despite its evident weakness, I again wouldn’t necessarily consider it to be bad, it just isn’t great, despite the opening track of “Angels’ Story” leading us to believe so in the beginning.
I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if AOA grew to be one of the faces of K-Pop within the coming years. They effortlessly hit all of the right elements that the greats of the past are known to have hit, and this comes from only their debut album, which says a lot about the effort their company put into them. I would be astonished if this group was merely a flash in the pan and this would be the last we would hear of them. This just can’t happen; they’re too complete for that.
Pros: Extraordinarily catchy melody in “Elvis”; no major weaknesses in any viewpoint of group; concept of group doesn’t impede on their overall image; not vocally handicapped; overall effort from production company.
Cons: Jack of all trades, but master of none; lyrics are sometimes overly simplistic; choreography leaves much to be desired; rap sections seem out of place and don’t show off skills properly; “Temptation” musical elements are extremely static.
CREDIT : ALLKPOP