Quick Take: Wonder Girls "Like This" + "Wonder Party"
This mini-album threw me off. The promos had me expecting WG to throw down some electro-pop in the vein of "G.N.O" or "Supa B". Instead we get what I can only describe as a tentative foray into pop R&B, which unfortunately falls short of their previous releases. I tried to come up with ways that JYP to justify this release, cos I didn't really get it:
1) They were too busy preparing for their US debut to come up with any good songs: But it's not WG that's writing the songs, it's the in-house songwriters. And that album was done like two months ago. Not a good excuse.
2) They got complacent and decided that since they're about to take over America, they just needed to release a lil' sumthin sumthin to please the Korean fans: But then why a mini instead of a single? Yes, you could charge more for it, and yes, almost no artist whose been around for over a year releases singles these days - but to compromise your group's reputation with a lackluster release just seems like a bad idea no matter how I look at it. Wonder World set the bar high, and Wonder Party just walked right under it with headroom to spare.
3) They wanted to experiment with the pop R&B sound without spending too much money or exerting the girls since they're gearing up to debut in both Japan and the US: This seems to make sense. To be honest, this sound really only suits Ye-eun and Sunye, and maybe Yubin - the other two just don't have strong enough vocals to pull off anything that even resembles R&B. Hence why the main track is minimal on the vocals but major on the fun, and the only other songs that leave an impression are the ballads. Also, the in-house songwriters probably aren't used to the genre, hence the lacklusterness of the mini overall.
I'm kind of relieved that they've dropped the retro for a bit, though, especially since they're going to reproduce "Nobody" for the nth time for their Japanese fans. (A good idea? Only time will tell.) At this stage they really should be experimenting more with their sound, and as we saw on Wonder World, they can actually branch out and not fail horribly. Here's to hoping that they continue to grow and develop as a group.
"Like This" on its own kind of washed over me. Catchy, but unimpressive. But I loved the video - it's not typical WG, and the girls looked like they were having a great time. I'm a fan of the dance, and I'll probably rewatch the video just to learn it.