Dora Dora Dora Dora the Explorer?
It might appear I’ve been too busy for Kpop and that’s mostly because I have been too busy for Kpop. Although full-time employment has unfortunately interfered with my music blogging it hasn’t prevented me from listening to all the new releases hitting the stores. As always, it’s been a tale of hit and miss, but let’s get back into things with one of the sure-fire hits: U-KISS’ DORADORA.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: U-KISS is severely underrated. As hard as I try to be apathetic in blog posts and keep my personal biases close to my chest, it’s hard when something as fresh and wonderful as DORADORA pops up. I was first introduced to U-KISS when they released Neverland and, with the inclusion of their Japanese debut, the seven-member band has continued to go from strength to strength. Now with the release of their sixth mini-album I think it’s safe to say U-KISS has solidified their sound. And what a very good sound it is.
Title track DORADORA is, at first glance, a jumble of genres. With its unusual deep and low opening, DORADORA ends very different to how it starts once the power vocals of Hoon and Soohyun kick in. Let’s ignore for a moment how much the chorus sounds like Dora Dora Dora Dora the Explorer and enjoy what it has to offer as a whole: the bass-heavy melody is delicious and when coupled with the ridiculously catchy (albeit unfortunate) chorus, there was no way this song was to be anything but a hit. Unfortunately for U-KISS (and their beloved KISSME) this was not reflected in the charts as strongly as it should have as their comeback coincided with Girls’ Generation TTS’ debut, who—unsurprisingly—took a clean sweep of the music shows with Twinkle. But if the boys continue to churn out delights such as DORADORA I dare say they’ll be winning one of the weekend stages before too long. I’ll cross my fingers for them.
The MV for DORADORA is just as wonderful as the track itself. Although Kevin looks as though he’s dressed in a picnic blanket and Eli’s hair is an offensive shade of white, the boys have a crisp, mature image more or less epitomised by AJ. That short hair is working for you, boy, keep it up.
Now, for me, the choreography for DORADORA is the selling point. While I have been known to laugh at U-KISS’ dancing prowess in the past—seriously, what was that dance in Neverland?—they certainly stepped it up with Tick-Tack and Forbidden Love and maintained this standard with DORADORA. Loaded with body rolls and undulating pelvises the choreography is painfully erotic—especially when you consider maknae Dongho being but the tender age of seventeen. Awkward difference in our age aside, DORADORA is an utter joy and there is very little I can seriously find to fault. And that is rare indeed.
Amazing served as the teaser for the mini-album, being released prior to the full album drop. The track was penned by member AJ, who has done a fine job on this dance hit. While it pales beside DORADORA, Amazing is more than satisfying in terms of tempo and catchiness. As always, there is little to note vocal-wise aside from Soohyun, Kevin and Hoon who dominate with their combination of power, harmony and the ubiquitous wail. The track is a great little party piece which will no doubt raise the mood as you can’t help but cry out it’s so amazing.
A notable highlight for me in regards to this album was the single ballad track which manifested in the form of 사랑이 멈출 때 [When Love Stops]. Contrary to what you’re all expecting, I actually really like this song—it’s emotional, powerful and strangely moving despite the language barrier. Have I become more tolerant of ballads recently? It’s possible; however I don’t expect to be listening to this song—or any pop ballad—on repeat anytime soon but it certainly is a nice track.
4U (For You) rounds out the new tracks on this mini-album. It’s lighter than both DORADORA and Amazing and consequently weaker. Once again, it’s not a bad song, but it’s not that great either and would have been rather forgettable were it not for the cringe-worthy line Thanks to you I’m jumping like a kangaroo. Cheers for that, Eli (AJ? I have no idea).
The album finishes up with an instrumental of DORADORA, which no one cares about, and a Korean version of Japanese super-hit Tick-Tack, renamed TICK TOCK (OUT OF TIME). The wonderful thing about this song is regardless of the language in which it is sung it’s still ridiciously great. It’s interesting to note in addition to the Japanese the English lines also underwent renovation. The rewriting of this handful of lines has certainly changed the overall meaning and feel of the track. Was this a smart move? In my opinion: yes. The two songs are very different and have gone from being a simple language swap to almost individual tracks. That said, I will always listen to the Japanese version for no particular reason other than it was the one that came first.
Although I still rate U-KISS’ Japanese tracks among their best and strongest, the boys have certainly proven themselves contenders on their native Korean charts with DORADORA. With their follow-up mini The Special to KISSME released little over a month behind DORADORA it’s safe to say U-KISS are set to give their home turf a pounding. You go, U-KISS.