The rise of Brave Girls from little-known group on the verge of disbandment to one of South Korea’s hottest stars is nothing short of astounding. I actually remember listening to “Rollin'” and teaching myself the choreography way back in 2017, and I recall thinking it was such a shame it got slept on. Fast forward to today, and that song is everywhere here. Whenever I go out to see friends or run errands, I hear it at least once. All my students love it and even know the dance (which they learn at after school dance club), and most adults I talk to are fond of it too. So while we all know the Korean general public isn’t usually into K-pop, this one most certainly has their stamp of approval. Brave Girls is truly on top of the world right now, and they’re following up on all that success with another surefire hit.
(Note: I Google Translated the title and got “skirt wind.” I have no idea what this means… maybe it’s a specific expression in Korean?)
In the intro of Brave Girls’ new title track, Minyoung declares that “We’re going to be summer queens.” (Summer Queen is also the title of their mini-album.) It’s a confident statement, but also one that will probably turn out to be true. “Chi Mat Ba Ram” is a classic summer bop that leans heavily on catchy choruses, club-worthy beats, and fun times. It’s so addictive I can already envision hearing it everywhere I go for the next couple of months. I do personally feel that the arrangement can be *slightly* noisy in places, and there are times where it seems like the members have to work hard to be heard over the thudding percussion. But since “Chi Mat Ba Ram” is clearly meant to be a dance jam, it’s not too big a deal.
It’s worth noting that Brave Brothers, the producer behind Brave Girls and founder of their agency, has created a lot of hit songs for several famous 2nd and early 3rd generation girl groups like 4Minute, T-ARA, SISTAR, AOA etc. Those high-energy party songs were still in style when I first got into K-pop five years ago, but they eventually faded out and gave way to cute concepts and then girl crush. “Chi Mat Ba Ram” is a return to that brassy and sassy sound that helped define early to mid-2010s girl group K-pop, and I’m so here for it. I’m loving the nostalgia and how it brings me back to a different time.
Similarly, I like how the choreography is also reminiscent of 2nd and early 3rd generation girl group dances: relatively simple but extra entertaining, with a heavy emphasis on highlight moves that fans can remember and easily learn. While I’m really proud of how girl group choreographies have evolved to be as complex and detailed as ones for boy groups, there’s something just so classic about a dance built around key points. Performances are always fun to watch, but dances like “Chi Mat Ba Ram” make me feel like I can actually follow along and be part of the experience.
MY OVERALL INTEREST LEVEL
(NOTE: My options for each category are “Love,” “Like,” “Neutral,” “Not My Style,” or “Dislike.” But I rarely dislike anything, so I’ll mostly be using the other four.)
When a K-pop group and/or song becomes super popular, there’s often a lot of anticipation – and pressure – over what comes next. Companies often decide to stick with what they know will make money, which can result in groups releasing similar-sounding title tracks for a while: Momoland, TWICE, and BLACKPINK have all gone through this phase. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because the songs are all bops, but the downside is the groups don’t really get to grow creatively in that period of time. I have to admit, I was curious to see if this would happen to Brave Girls as well.
In my opinion, I do think Brave Brothers played it a little safe with Brave Girls this time around. “Chi Mat Ba Ram” is a definite crowd-pleaser most people would enjoy, and I’m sure it will be one of this year’s hit songs. However, I don’t really feel like it shows me more about them as a group or as singers. I personally wanted to see what else they could do with a different concept or style; but given how mega-popular they are, it seems like there will be plenty of time for that. (And I do appreciate how it has the same energy and catchy appeal as “Rollin'” but isn’t a carbon copy of it.) In any case, “Chi Mat Ba Ram” is a feel-good track that’s pretty much perfect for summer. I’m not sure how much I’ll listen to it once we change seasons, but I’m certainly going to play it a lot right now.
(“Knee Jerk Reaction” is a column I created to talk about comebacks or debuts when I don’t have a lot of time to write in-depth reviews. A knee jerk reaction is like an automatic response, so it’s a post about my initial thoughts on the song, the music video, and the performance if it’s available. Compared to my reviews, everything is more stream of consciousness and less analytical. And everything is 100% my own opinion!)
SOURCES: Featured image and music video belong to Brave Entertainment.