Rainbow – ‘Rainbow Syndrome – Part 1’ album review: DSP screws up another comeback

For a long time, Rainbow has been my second favourite K-pop girl group after SNSD. I didn’t care much for their debut single but it was the stellar “A” and “Mach,” both released in 2010, that won me over. I also find the girls very pretty and by the end of 2010, I assumed Rainbow would achieve stellar success in the coming years!

But they didn’t.

Rainbow’s 2011 comeback was disappointing and their company, DSP Media (the same folks behind uber-successful Kara), left them in the lurch for much too long. I felt really sad for the members. The girls never seemed to get a good break — be it in music or even on variety shows.

So when it was announced Rainbow would finally be making a comeback after a span of nearly 1 year and 7 months(!), I was overjoyed, but at the same time, worried. Knowing how often DSP have screwed up in the past, it was a cause for concern.

Rainbow members Syndrome kpop album

Here’s a track-by-track review:

01. “Golden Touch” – Such a straight ’80s-inspired pop song! From the beats, instrumentation and melody, everything about this song reeks 1980s-pop 🙂 (Did Sweetune work on this?). As dated as I may sound, it was quite refreshing to hear a song like this in Korean. All I could imagine were the members of Rainbow with hair-dos a la ’80s Madonna, ha ha! Love it! – 4/5

02. “두 눈을 감고 (Close Your Eyes)” – I wasn’t expecting a ballad this early in the tracklist, but here you go. Although the tempo feels a bit run-of-the-mill, I still found myself listening to it quite a bit. It may feel like a standard girly K-pop ballad, but track 2 raised my hopes up for the rest of the album. – 3/5

03. “Tell Me, Tell Me” – The much anticipated comeback single:

*Sigh* I’ll just say it. This song is just disappointing. My earlier worry about DSP screwing up have been proven right. “Tell Me, Tell Me” would have worked as a single… back in 2009-10 when a girl group debuted as a rookie! This is not a song worthy of a group like Rainbow and that too after making fans wait 1 year & 7 months for a comeback! It’s bland, uninspired, and choc-full of mediocrity. From the girl’s styling, to the music video’s set, and even the choreography.

Rainbow Tell Me Tell Me dance outfits mv screencap
Was DSP attempting a “Gee” for Rainbow?

Jaekyung – one of the hottest girls in K-pop – has in fact gotten gotten the worst hair treatment among the members in this MV. You would think with all the money DSP earns from Kara, they would invest in better talent to make their other artists look good. The outfits are plain, and I’m not sure Rainbow can pull off the “cute” concept at this stage of their lives. Jisook, Yoon Hye and the like, yes, but all of them as a group – no. Rainbow should have stuck with the mature concepts and kept “cute” for Rainbow Pixie – their sub-unit.

Anyway, I digress. To sum it up, “Tell Me, Tell Me” is a very forgettable track. – 2/5

04. “Cosmic Girl” – It’s not often I have listened to a K-pop comeback album and found another track better suited for a single release than the one that eventually did. This is one such track. Easily my pick for the “best song” on this album! Uptempo, funky, great chorus and a very good track in every sense. – 4/5

05. “나만 아는 너는 절대 모를 이야기” – Translated to “The Story Only I Know You Will Never Know,” this album-filler keeps the tempo going. Very reminiscent of a typical IU song, this isn’t a bad album-filler though. – 3/5

06. “In Love” – The final track is a sweet, saccharine finish to what has been a fairly uptempo album. It isn’t until this song you get to hear some of the girls hit the high notes, which was sorely missing for much of the album. – 3.5/5

Rainbow Tell Me Tell Me Syndrome members k-popIt’s very rare I have liked the album tracks on a K-pop album more than the lead single, but this is unfortunately the case with ‘Syndrome – Part 1’. I scored every track higher than “Tell Me, Tell Me” because it really is the most boring song on the tracklist. Even as I was wrapping up this review, I kept replaying every track except “Tell Me, Tell Me.”

I know there’s a second part to ‘Syndrome’ coming and I have a hunch we may see an edgier concept for the next release. But why after such a long hiatus DSP thought “Tell Me, Tell Me” would work is beyond me. In my opinion, it only lessens Rainbow’s image on the K-pop scene. They had something going for them and now the girls are neither here, nor there. Sure, I loved their cutesy Japanese single “Candy Girls” — but at least that was a catchy song with some cute dance moves. “Tell Me, Tell Me” has nothing special going for it.

This isn’t the first time DSP messed up a comeback. After the stellar “Step,” Kara took a mis-step with “Pandora,” which wasn’t the girl group’s finest. And now, same is the case with Rainbow. I haven’t heard a great Korean single from Rainbow since “Mach,” and I can’t understand why it’s so hard for DSP to get it right.

Rainbow had as much a chance to be the next big K-pop girl group. Their name is synonymous, the girls are pretty, they have a sexy member, a cute member, a funny member, good-at-acting member, and everything else Koreans can get into. From strong vocals to rapping, I see nothing Rainbow lacks as a girl group. All that is lacking is DSP’s  management of the group.

If Rainbow continues to flounder, it will all be DSP Media’s fault. I really hope ‘Syndrome – Part 2’ has a stellar single to raise the roof – because it’s what the girls need, badly! Rainbow’s “Gee” should have come by now. So whatever DSP has planned for Rainbow’s next comeback, they better make it fast. Rainbow has wasted enough time out of the limelight, and this comeback isn’t going to help win them many new fans.

My final rating for Rainbow – ‘Syndrome – Part 1’ is:

Rainbow Tell Me Tell Me Jisook kpop
A better album than a weak lead single
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