Now that I’m officially on summer break, I can FINALLY start checking out July comebacks.
(After promotions are already over… SIGH) First up is SF9, a group that’s quite near and dear to my heart these days. I’ve been following them since their debut, and I even went to a fan meeting they had in the U.S. way back when they were rookies. As time went on, I realized how underrated they were and started to pay extra special attention to them. And then this year they went on Kingdom, which just made me even more attached. I just thought it was such a great opportunity for them because they truly tapped into their creative side – and in my opinion, they had some of the most stunning performances. While I’ve always liked SF9 and thought their music, this latest comeback shows me that their participation in Kingdom definitely helped them become even better.
“Tear Drop” is an understated yet beautiful depiction of an impending breakup. The lyrics portray the singer at the moment right when everything is about to end, highlighting how his lover’s tears blind him and make him emotional. The arrangement sounds very delicate and pretty overall, and the melody and hook are both quite gentle. However, everything still manages to expertly impart a strong sense of angst and melancholy. The music video does an excellent job of adding to that feeling of elegance and fragile beauty, featuring SF9 in fancy clothes and stunning backgrounds. The general black and white color palette makes it all extra chic.
While I certainly enjoy “Tear Drop,” the track itself is just a little too minimalistic to surpass my current SF9 favorite (which is “Good Guy”). I get that they’re keeping things on the softer side to make it sound more wistful and sentimental, but I personally need just a touch more energy to really be in love with it. It’s not really the kind of K-pop song I’d play on repeat; it’s more like nice background music when I’m reading or playing phone games or something like that. But that chorus does seem to get stuck in my head quite often, so I guess my opinions might change over time.
It’s worth noting that SF9 was actually working on “Tear Drop” before Kingdom, and they altered some things to incorporate elements that proved successful on that show . The most obvious change is the choreography, as the one in the music video is not the same as the one they performed on music shows. I checked out the full demo version, and it definitely matches the way SF9 has danced in previous comebacks – a nice mix of both smooth and sharp movements with an overall trendy look. But competing on Kingdom somehow brought out even more sexiness than they already had, so it looks like they changed their overall dance to match that more fluid and sensual style. Even the tree formation the background dancers make is very similar to some of their Kingdom performances, which is a cool touch.
I know I must sound like a broken record to those of you who read all my posts, but I sincerely love the choreography that SF9 ultimately went with. It really brings the song to life and helps highlight all of its interesting parts. I said I don’t listen to “Tear Drop” all that much, but I DO watch the dance a lot. Honestly, I could watch it forever. It’s fascinating how the key points are so simple, yet they stand out because they’re done so carefully and precisely: like when SF9 opens and closes their hands to symbolize tears falling. Hip swivels and body waves are already sexy, but the way the members deliberately draw those moves out – and look directly into the camera while doing them – puts everything on a whole other level.
Another standout element of this comeback is the very unique and slightly scandalous styling. Many of the SF9 members wear shirts with cutouts exposing their backs and/or abs, and Taeyang’s outfits in particular have been especially daring. This is also probably part of Kingdom‘s influence, as all the other boy groups on the show would constantly comment on how SF9 was a bunch of tall handsome models – an image that they definitely embraced in their performances as time went on. I’m a little amused that they’re really going all-in on that concept since I’m so used to them being wild and chaotic goofballs offstage, but that sexy and sophisticated image looks really good on them. So I definitely won’t complain if they decide to keep this aesthetic going in the future.
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.)
I’ve always known that SF9 was an underrated and under-appreciated group, and it really pains me that this still seems to be the case. Most groups who appeared on Road to Kingdom got a significant boost in popularity during their post-show comebacks, so I was hoping that would be the same for the Kingdom participants. Sadly, I don’t think “Tear Drop” brought SF9 the recognition I wholeheartedly believe they deserve – I’m honestly shocked that their music video only has 3.4 million views after two and a half weeks. But even so, I think it was a successful beginning of a new creative era. SF9 found their musical and aesthetic identity while on Kingdom, and this comeback shows how confident they are in taking a more unconventional approach to their work. I makes me very excited about their future, and I sincerely hope that more people will eventually start to notice them as they keep doing their own thing.
(“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 FNC Entertainment. The demo version of the “Tear Drop” choreography was performed by Code88 and posted on their YouTube account.