Did anyone realize they had their Magic goodbye stage in mid-June? Wow, someone wants to push 4minute off the top of my ‘most masochistic Kpop group.” However, I kind of have to agree with their company’s marketing technique – as of right now Secret isn’t as well known as other girl groups that debuted around the same time, and they need to keep on trying again and again until they get the ‘big hit,’ and Madonna, the title track of their 2nd minialbum of the same name, may be the song.
As of right now, Madonna is number one on darily Dosirak, Soribada, Mnet, monkey3, and probably a few others I forgot to check – we need to wait a bit longer to see how long they can stay on top, but only fast risers last in the leader position, and Madonna may be the new Bad Girl Good Girl, which remained #1 despite being pelted by SHINee, Son Dambi, G.NA, Se7en, and more. I’m telling you, it’s the lyrics – give me a girl group song not about love/heartbreak and sappy “oppa saranghae!!!” but instead about independence or empowerment, and listeners will eat it up. Plus, this song is pure crack. It’s so addicting.
Let’s look at the tracks.
Secret starts off strong with title track Madonna, which I have listened to at least 15 times today and still have not gotten sick of it. Normally I would be all over a group’s case for coming out with such a similar song to the song they were promoting a mere 2 months ago, but unexplainable I can’t get negative about Secret’s Madonna. t’s the new and improved Magic – if Magic was a beat up Ford, then Madonna is a brand spanking new Porsche. Ok, maybe not that much of a difference, but man, this song gets better with every repeat. At first, I was seriously question the big band instrumentals in the background, but it works so well – Secret as a group can sing, and when you have Jieun belting out her lines, I feel like I’m at some live jazz concert, listening to a diva belt out her tunes. And I proclaim her as 4minute’s Jiyoon’s and Gayoon’s lovechild. It works, trust me.
Lal Lal La’s intro sounds straight out of JeA’s and Miryo’s Blue Trauma collaboration, Love Is…, which is a FABULOUS track, so I absolutely adore this song. It’s very soft R&B but the driving beat is fast enough that the song never seems to drag, and I have yet to find Zinger’s rap annoying or out-of-place which I sometimes do with Miryo’s raps in BEG songs omg I did not just say that, and speaking of whom, I really like her flow – it’s very smooth and though she uses rising inflections liberally, it’s not to the point where it’s annoying (f(x)’s Amber can stop this, though tyvm) and since I’m already doing music lovechildren today, Zinger is like the still maturing child of CL and Tasha. She has lots of potential. Does she sing? I haven’t really watched their previous lives much, but if she’s a triple threat (cause girl can shake booty) then that’ll be fantastic. One thing I’m finding with this song is that Jieun carries the group vocally, and Sunhwa especially gets the consequences of shorter singing lines. It’s a pity though understandable – Secret as a group is pretty vocally talented, and I would love to see Sunhwa’s softer vocals develop over time.
Next, the album kicks up the tempo with Do Better! (Feat. Baek Chan of 8Eight), a song that is very techno and beat-heavy, but seriously, were all the random Darth Vader lines really necessary? I’m jamming along with the dance beats and then *doom voice* totally kills the mood. And I might as well get the criticism out of the way now – I’m sorry, I couldn’t tell Zinger was saying “S-E-C-R-E-T” for the longest time, and I don’t know what they’re saying after “if you, if you continue” (it sounds like “it’s, it’s a boy”?). But aside from the Engrish, I still dig this song – I’ll queue this second on my list to remix after SHINee’s Ready or Not.
The fourth track, Hesitant, brings listeners back to their Want You Back debut days – it’s a vocal showcase piece without being an extravagant ballad and is very easy on the ears. This is the type of track that makes Secret rather unique nowadays – when Want You Back initially came out, people criticized it as ‘boring,’ but then came back after Magic and said Want You Back was the best thing ever. Want You Back and Hesitant are totally my cups of tea, but I totally understand why Secret went the Magic/Madonna road – they are the songs that will sell to the public. However, it’s nice to see they stay true to their roots of cheery, light R&B crooners.
And of course, Empty Space wraps up the minialbum. We’ve heard Jieun’s parts in their MV teaser (and I would love it if they made a full MV for it), and the full-length version sounds very nice as expected. It’s a pretty emotional song with very simple and clean piano backgrounds (aka my favorite type of ballads, yes yes I’m happy). Aside from Jieun and occasionally Hyosung when she gets into her zone, Secret doesn’t have quite strong enough vocals to belt out heart wrenching ballads a la Seeya or even old T-ara5, but they can sing ballads quite a lot better than most groups out there right now. I love them for their versatility yet faithfulness to a core Secret sound.
So overall, a very nice minialbum. I quite enjoyed their Magic EP (My Boy is probably still my favorite song from them, but Madonna is crack I tell you, pure craaaaacccck), and Madonna does not disappoint as a follow up. Something about Secret wants me to label them as the Fin.K.L. of today – they might not achieve the explosive popularity as their sunbaes due to the insane competition, but their sound and musical styles are comparable. Secret is a rare gem amongst groups today – they are one of few groups not jumping on the autotune/electropop-dance/cutesy bandwagon, and their sound isn’t so R&B or ballad as to get lost in numerous non-idol groups who release music in those genres. In a word, Secret’s music is refreshing – it’s easy on the ears and fun, but still display vocal talent so that I don’t feel guilty about listening to songs I could possibly sing better.
A+ girls, good to have you back.
Extra: TAEMIN. I WAS RIGHT. YOU ARE JAEJOONG JR. OMGOMGOMG.
Remember guys, Jaejoong was once tone deaf, and Taemin has improved sooo much T___T so proud. Meanwhile, what happened to Key’s voice? His once gorgeous vibrato has poofed in recent performances, and he’s singing so much whinier than usual – I initially loved his voice for his big, deep, projecting tone, but now he’s covering Ke$ha and I just want to shake him so hard and yell at him to sing a nice, big ballad for me. T_T
Credit: Taeminth, wing834