Kara Mini-Album “Lupin” Review By A Fan Who Doesn’t Know Any Korean: Fun!

I’ve been a Kara fan for perhaps 2 months now, starting mid-December after discovering the plentiful performances of “Mister” and such, and was instantly hooked. This has naturally been my first opportunity to catch onto the anticipation and release of a new album. I pretty much no Korean and understand even less, but having a 3-4 year fandom in the kawaii-culture of Japanese girl pop, I think I fit right in. I’m not confident I know them well enough to be able to pick out which cutie is singing when, but I’m getting there.

I don’t really have a steady news source for Kara material, so having known the name and date it would be released I just googled it and not only found an album rip to preview but also immediately encountered controversy — apparently the title track sounds a lot like portions of at least two other tracks from different artists:

Here’s the title track by Kara, “Lupin” for reference (thanks to SeoulBeats for the embed)

It’s contended that Lupin copies Jelena Karleusa’s (from Serbia)Insomnia

..and Pussycat Doll’s Jai Ho.

While I’d agree there are elemental similarities, I don’t think the accusation of copying is fair, nor accurate. The entire mashup community relies largely on songs sounding similar, and they’ve got plenty of material to work with even within from strictly from the US — to make it so that your music doesn’t sound like any other track from across the globe is just outright madness.

That said, I’m really more interested in the MV that the recent teaser suggested and I’ve got a pinch of anxiety of whether Gyuri can pull off the short-hair look since Yajima Maimi from C-ute utterly failed that concept, going from gorgeous flowing tendrils to cropped locks. I’m hopeful, though ~_^

The above Lupin track is #2 on the mini-album, preceded by the opener Tasty Love, which itself even sounds vaguely similar. I could really see this as a popular perf song instead of Lupin, as it seems ripe for choreography.

As for Umbrella, it at first doesn’t really seem like preferred style but as the chorus I like it much more. It seems like it’s trying to be slow and fast at the same time, and for some reason evokes memories of the music from the food shops in the NES game River City Ransom. I was afraid it was going to be similar to that awful-but-popular other Umbrella song (which I won’t even reference specifically it’s so terrible), but turned out a bit nicer. It has almost a ska feel, or perhaps even like it should be the song played at the end credits of a TV show.

<bRollin’ is vaguely like rap, and tries to be upbeat but I’m generally just thinking “….” the whole time not sure what to make of it, even after repeat listens. I like the little auto-tune touches, the bassline… but doing the 1, 2, 3, 4 in Spanish? That was weird. The verses section reminds me a little of maybe a quicker, pop version of the final theme from the video game Portal, Still Alive. I’m not sure if this would be a very good one to use for perfs.

The fifth and final track, Lonely is expectedly slow paced, but it works. The finger snaps (which sound more like the synth keyboard version) on beats, slacked taps on the high-hat, and “squirmy” tones from electric guitar sound like a Michael Jackson tribute of some kind (in a good way), and I’d like to see an MV of this but with lots and lots of closeups, perhaps like J-Pop’s Morning Musume did in this.

Overall, pretty good! I naturally have no idea what they’re saying, but not knowing the language allows me, the overseas listener, to hear the voices as if they were their own instruments without having to bother so processing language, and hear more of the emotion behind the music perhaps a little like watching an Italian opera without knowing a lick of Italian. Now only if my local music shops could order me a copy ^_~


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