K-Pop Music Reviews: Orange Caramel – Bangkok City

Title: Bangkok City

Release Year: 2011


B-B-Bangkok City, I can’t stop!

After their first two singles – “Magic Girl” and “Aing” – Orange Caramel has come back with a dramatic reversal of their previous cute concept – they’re now trendy club-hoppers with ridiculous hairstyles.

Don’t worry, they’re just wigs…hopefully.

Since Orange Caramel is best known for their trademark anime-influenced concepts, it definitely piqued my interest to see how they would handle this new concept. Would Orange Caramel be able to pull off a more mature, sophisticated vibe, or will they take flak for completely screwing it up? After all, one doesn’t really think “sophisticated” when they hear “Orange Caramel”.

So how did they do?

From L-R: Raina, Nana, and Lizzy.

I’m pleased to say that they pulled it off quite well, thank you very much.

Even though they made a dramatic reversal – 180 degrees – from their previous work, what makes their role reversal easier to handle is the fact that behind the facade, Orange Caramel’s basic tenets remain largely the same. The two concepts aren’t that similar at first glance – fairy tales and nightclub – but if you look closer, delve into what Orange Caramel really stands for, there’s a thread of familiarity that can be found in Bangkok City.

First of all, both of their concepts focus on the idea of “throwback” – that is, they turn to the past for their inspiration. In the case of Bangkok City, they took their inspiration from the trendy Euro-pop songs of the 90’s. And in the case of “Magic Girl” and “Aing”, they looked to the trot music scene of Korea in the 70’s, as well as Japanese pop.

More than that, though, is the fact that behind the curtains, the concepts are surprisingly similar. Both the Euro-trend concept and the storybook concept focus on the same basic rules: an escape from reality, the same emphasis on cheerful and bouncy music, and most important of all, their refusal to relinquish their own unique style. I think it’s safe to say that these two concepts are concepts that haven’t been attempted before much, if ever, in the Korean music scene. That alone makes it Orange Caramel’s trademark, and what sets them apart – and also what gives them a sense of “journey” with their new album – it’s almost as if you’re watching a child grow up; transitioning from the more “immature” music of “Magic Girl” and “Aing”, the child grows up into “Bangkok City” – a refinement of the child’s characteristics from early in his life, but also remaining basically the same beneath the exterior.

As for the song itself, well…it’s catchy as hell. I never thought I would see the day when I would prefer Orange Caramel’s songs over Big Bang’s, but…I prefer “Bangkok City” over “Tonight”. I pray to the Big Bang gods that this horrific incident will never repeat itself ever again.

Back to Bangkok City, the song features a smooth rhythmic background melody that “blends” the different sounds together effortlessly – the use of synthesizers is particularly notable, in that they’re not overbearing as they are in other songs (*coughTonightcough*); they balance perfectly the voices of the singers with the drums and the other instruments, such as the slightly twangy voice of the electric guitar that’s omnipresent throughout the song.

One of the things that I take issue with in this song, and forgive me for saying this, but…Nana’s voice simply isn’t up to par with Raina and Lizzy’s. She’s simply not a very good singer. She tries her hardest, but you can definitely tell her voice just doesn’t have the range and the timbre of the other two singers. It’s particularly prevalent at 2:10 – 2:22 in the video – you can instantly tell which voice belongs to Nana’s…and not in a good way. Nana, please work on your vocals. Sincerely, me.

It’s a shame – it’s a nearly perfect song in every way, but Nana simply doesn’t help. With the less-vocally demanding “Magic Girl” and “Aing”, she managed to get away with it, but with “Bangkok City”…*shakes head sadly*…it needed to be said. It’s the one thing that brings this song down from what may have been a perfect score, down to:

4.5 stars out of 5.

PS: Can you please fix your hair?

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Adeline says:

    BANGKOK CITY I CAN’T STOOOOOP ♪

    No really, I can’t stop listening to this song. My friends are going to murder me, for real.
    But I can’t agree with you. Bangkok City better than Tonight? Oh boy! No no NO! NEVER. FORGET THAT. OKAY?
    But Bangkok City is like… sending the message that “YAAAAY SUMMER IS COMING BE READY TO PARTY!” (or “BE READY TO FAIL YOUR EXAMS YAAAY!” ;_;). It’s cute, funny and catchy, and I think I will spend the summer playing this really loud in the car 🙂
    Oh, and about the hair… I will make a fool of myself *sighs* but I actually tried it. For fun. Since I already have the same hair color and all… But it suited them better than me (how surprising!). So I won’t go to the Korean Party with a Orange Caramel style 😦 Need to find another idea!^^

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