SNSD – ‘Mr. Mr.’ album review: Is this a sign the end is near?

Yay, my girls are back! My 2014 of K-pop can officially begin. Not that I ever stopped listening to K-pop, but 2014 began with a glut of girl groups all vying for attention using some sexy concept or the other. All their songs were mediocre at best and as much as I like watching sexy women, I don’t like it when ‘sexy’ is not done right.

Good thing I don’t have to worry about silly concepts from SM Entertainment (nowadays). SNSD are back with a badass look and what the teasers promised to be an edgy title track for their 4th mini-album titled ‘Mr. Mr’.

SNSD Girls Generation Mr.Mr album coverHere’s a track-by-track review:

1. “Mr. Mr.”

First reaction? Underwhelmed. Produced by The Underdogs, an American duo most famous for their R&B productions, “Mr. Mr.” has a great build up — but the chorus was a bit of an ‘expectation killer’. Maybe that’s because my expectations were sky high. After all, a year of waiting, and that too after the experimental “I Got A Boy,” I guess SONEs were hoping to listen to a killer comeback track that would go down as one of SNSD’s greatest hits.

After a few repeated listens, the song did gradually grow on me… but my enthusiasm failed to rise much. It’s a good song with simple choreography, but it still does not scream: “WOW! This song is awesome!” I love the ’90s vibe and the pitch changes at the end, but I’m a tiny bit disappointed to be honest.

While I appreciate the fact SM didn’t film another ‘inside a box’ video, you have to question some of the close-ups, excessive use of filters and the stretching. Maybe SM weren’t kidding when they actually lost some of the filmed data, thus delaying the MV’s release.

After “The Boys,” “IGAB” and now “Mr. Mr.,” that’s three lead singles year after a year that has largely left fans divided and me, unexcited. – 3/5

2. “Goodbye” – Written and produced by a team comprised of Lindy Robbins, Brent Paschke and Jenna Andrews, who have written music for One Direction and Selena Gomez, this is a funky au naturel song. Why do I like this song? Well, besides the laid back style, I actually heard Hyoyeon sing! I like the chorus too. – 3/5

3. “유로파 (Europa)” – Produced by SM’s very own Kenzie, this mid-tempo song is has, you know, the K-pop sound. SM has been putting out singles all produced Western producers these past few years that when I hear a song that reminds of the kind of K-pop that drew me in to the genre, I just adore it all the more. – 3/5

4. “Wait a Minute” – Hyoyeon sings! Just kidding, I had to highlight the poor girl’s only chance to get heard. The vibe is a follow-up from “Goodbye” and is a good song for a easy-listening session. – 3/5

5. “백허그 (Back Hug)” – The only ballad on the album, I loved Tiffany’s vocals on this track. “Back Hug” is a sweet ballad reminiscent of SNSD’s innocent early years and it’s nice to see it on the album. I miss this SNSD. – 3.5/5

6. “Soul” – The Korean version of a Chinese track SNSD recorded for a video game, this version sounds… the same, but in Mandarin. It’s an uptempo track, and despite being used as a promotional vehicle, the song has got a decent melody and I really like Sooyoung’s lines, mostly because of the way she sings it. – 3/5

SNSD Mr. Mr. MV screencap Girls Generation members
It’s a good album, but I was expecting to be blown away

As for the headline – “Is this a sign the end is near?”.

2014 will be SNSD’s seventh year anniversary. Girls Generation are the number one girl group in K-pop, hands down. The queens of Korean pop, if you may call them that. A juggernaut when it comes to commercial success, variety talent, and endorsement deals. But judging by the quality of their Korean singles off late, you start to wonder if SM Entertainment is slowly winding down on SNSD and making way for their next, obviously much younger, girl group.

It’s not just SNSD. Even TVXQ’s last release “Something” failed to make much of an impact on the charts. Neither did the duo sweep the music show awards with that song. And this is TVXQ we’re talking about here — they are still massive in Japan! It’s as if SM isn’t even trying with their senior groups, instead devoting all their money on the fresher faces like EXO, whose songs (okay, I still hate “Wolf”) and albums are choc full of amazing music. I only wonder what Super Junior’s comeback is going to be like.

Back to SNSD. It’s been the case for the last two years, that SNSD’s Japanese releases have been far superior to their Korean comebacks. Obviously the girls (and SM) make way more money in Japan from album sales than in South Korea — but come on, every K-pop fan around the world wants to hear their K-pop star sing awesome Korean songs!

Another hint I factor in to say that SNSD may see a decline or departure of a few members has been the news of Sooyoung and Yoona declaring they are in a relationship. Of course, celebrity relationships are never to be taken seriously, as given the pressures of work, many relationships don’t last long. But as someone who knows so much about the members (because that’s how devoted some of us SONEs are), I know Sooyoung wants marriage and children. As do other members like Hyoyeon, who is also rumoured to be in a relationship. Plus, the members are all within their mid-20s. I mean, look at their peers. Sun from Wonder Girls is a mother now and that group’s future is pretty much up in the air. KARA is now down to three members and if DSP Media screws up their comeback (which knowing how messed up DSP is) will pretty much put the nail in the coffin for KARA’s career. It’s as though SNSD’s peers are also fading away.

Maybe I’m over-reacting, but it just feels kinda sad seeing the wave of artists that first got me into K-pop now appearing to slowly ride into the sunset. Groups like SNSD can’t get any bigger. It will be interesting to see what the public’s reaction is to SNSD’s successors. If it’s going to be anything like the kind of reception EXO got, then I guess… arrrgh, I don’t want to think about it!

I hope SM Entertainment has better music lined up for Girls Generation in the form of a repackage album, because their Korean lead singles have gotten quite stale. The reason why I want SNSD around goes beyond just the music. I’m not saying the following because I’m such a devoted fan, but — you can’t manufacture or train rookies with what the members of SNSD have. The fact that you rarely hear about trouble within the group shows just how much the girls actually get along. SM doesn’t have to deal with the headaches and negative publicity girl groups like T-ara or KARA have experienced in the past. SNSD are a gem of a group. Any entertainment company would be glad to have them, purely because the girls can rarely do any wrong. There’s little in-fighting. They are dorky, hilarious, great on variety shows, multi-talented and do their job as performers with absolute professionalism. I just hope SM takes that into consideration and pushes on with Girls Generation. Because my generation of K-pop fans owes it to those girls.

My final rating for SNSD’s ‘Mr. Mr’ –  3 out of 5 (Good)

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12 Comments

  • Soshi Fann

    02/03/2014

    It would be hard to agree with you more. I’m glad to read that I’m not the only SONE wondering about the future of SNSD. They are tremendously talented in so many areas but I’ve also seen SM taking their success for granted. As if they think, “no matter what we provide, the SONEs will accept it”. To some extent, that’s been the case; not because we’re lemmings, but because we’re fans of the individuals that make up SNSD.
    SM was smart to create shows like Girls’ Generation Goes to School, Dangerous Boys, Hello Baby and Intimate Note because it made them seem approachable and highlighted their individual charms. Personally, I became a fan of Kpop after accidentally discovering SNSD on YouTube and watching these shows.
    According to Fanpop, (http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/girls-generation-snsd/articles/204871/title/sm-contract-with-snsd) their contracts are coming up for negotiation. While it’s hard to believe that Sm would allow their most successful girl group to simply disband (like DSP did with KARA), I hope they wake up and give this group the attention they deserve.

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    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Although I feel SM will renew contracts with the members, I’m not so certain some members like Hyoyeon and Yuri will contribute much to SM’s long-term bottom line. Taeyeon, Seohyun, and Tiffany are good singers. Jessica and Sooyoung are beautiful fashionistas. Sooyoung and Sunny are also very good in variety. YoonA is the biggest cash cow for SM among all the members so obviously she will be retained. Obviously I want SNSD as nine but as the women get older, marriage and retirement considerations by some members will come come up 🙁

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  • Alejandrosc5

    02/03/2014

    ok this is soooooo over reacting man, come on!

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  • ButterflySparkle

    05/03/2014

    I agree with your review so much! I love the fact that Hyo got some more singing time but the album in general was a little disappointing. I was hoping for a kick-ass comeback but it was lukewarm to be honest. Their lyrics could have been darker. Well we’ll have to see if they do something special for their performances
    It does seem like they are slowing down their activities but I want to hope for the best and see them continue to hold their charm in the fast-paced word of popularity in K-pop. The less attention to senior groups thing that SM has going on is driving me nuts. TVXQ!’s come back was fing awesome and the concept was great and their lives are perfect as usual but not enough promotion is killing it~ runs away and cries-

    and a double yes to SNSD’s involvement in variety shows and such. They all work very well in a team and I wish I could still maybe see more subgroups? maybe a dance unit with Hyo, Sooyoung, Yuri ? ^^ hehe
    Let’s hope they do a new single with some more burning spice :3 They are the Queens of Kpop after all :3 <3

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  • Yo

    10/03/2014

    They aren’t going to be popular when they’re 35, and I think they know that. They will probably break up and get other jobs, they probably view it as a “young” career. (They all go to university, don’t they?)

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    Russ Reply:

    I don’t know about that. Michael Jackson was still VERY active in his 50s. Tina Turner was a senior citizen when she finally retired. Madonna is still performing but I’m kinda hesitant to use her as an example as she’s kind of a parody of herself at this point.
    My point is that age really is just a number. As long as there are fans who want to hear them I think they’ll still be going at it. That’s not to say that they won’t do individual projects, they do that now. But I really don’t see a reason for them ever ending unless THEY want to end.

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    Mirror Reply:

    I honestly think they’re ready to move on. They’re going to get married and move into new careers, and then have children. They knew from the beginning, their era is ending, they lived it to their best, so I honestly think it’s better for them to quit snsd, slowly. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve supported them almost my whole life for 7 years, biggest fan and whatnot, but I would rather to keep a memory of them slowly ending rather than seeing them as snsd for like 8 more years. I’m not making sense, but they probably want to depart and move on but still remember the old times of hardships and expectations.

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    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    I kinda agree with you, but I guess some members don’t want to settle down just yet and want SNSD to continue.

  • Chung2

    14/03/2014

    I disagree, which is a 1st for me as I usually always agree with your reviews (except for Jay Park ones). And even more that you rated Back Hug, which was IMO the worst song in the album (one of the weakest song by them tbh) the highest.

    MrMr is among the best singles by them IMO The whole production instantly worked for me, the subtle guitar and pulsating synths during the chorus, the 2 modulations near the end, the dirty basslines (kinda reminded me of fidget house productions). The production reminded me of Lips (from their 3rd J-album) as well. Its very similar, electrohop song. Loved the MV as well, one of the best MV by them IMO The effects, the kaleidoscopic scenes, the member close-ups, just works for me. The choreography is lame though Calling it simple would be sugarcoating tbh there’s simple-good and there’s simple-lame, this one is the latter. It’s among the most un-energetic ones I’ve seen by them, maybe this is why I was glad by the member closeups.

    IDK how their K-lead singles has become stale when it was already stale. Seriously, MrMr is so much better than crappy songs like Oh, Gee, The Boys (even though this one grew on me), etc. Genie is the only K-lead single by them that has the “wow” factor (ITNW has it too). IGAB may not be anyone’s cup of tea, but I’m sure it had everyone going “wow” whether positively or negatively.

    Goodbye also is among the strongest songs by them IMO Very country-ish song. Europa is among the strongest songs by Kenzie as well, kinda reminded me of Express 999.

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  • Russ

    28/03/2014

    I’m thinking that I’m going to piss some SOnes off here, at least the Korean ones. The reason that SM makes more money with their acts in Japan is because the fans pay them more in Japan.
    The music that not just SNSD do in JPop, but other acts such as TVXQ and BoA should be telling the Korean fans something.
    And the message? Lighten up.
    These girls are the consumate professionals. I see all nine of them being able to not only get what they want out of their personal lives (marriage, motherhood, families) but to continue with GG as well. ESPECIALLY since all of them have stated that if they can, they want to keep doing this.
    WG has been tumultuous since their inception. And I LOVE the Wonder Girls. They’re the reason I first became involved in KPop. But look at it…First Hyuna leaves for “medical reasons” and pops up as a star elsewhere. Then Mimi breaks down in America, now Sun’s not even IN Korea anymore…you have to admit, this is par for the course for them.
    KARA is another group I love. But as much as I like Nichole, it’s not very bright to think that you can leave a company and still be part of a group owned by that company.
    I see SNSD the same way I see TVXQ and BoA. Even if they don’t attract the same sales on the pop scene as younger groups, they have enough of a following that they will continue to be on top of the heap for as long as they choose to be. As for the music…I can’t argue. SM’s endeavors with ALL their acts once they go to Japan end up the same way…the Jpop they do is just simply better musically then the KPop they do. Not sure why, but if you look at it, that’s the case.
    I think you’re over reacting, this is far from the end. Unless there’s some catastrophic upset such as one of more of the girls actually leaving the group, they’re going to be around for a LONG time. As for missing the LGG (Little Girl’s Generation)…well…they never really did that much for me. I MUCH prefer the more mature version.

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  • DHX

    25/01/2016

    Holy crap… The author hit the nail on the head. SNSD didn’t get the full 7 year curse, but a member left, Super Junior’s album was a joke (the cover, not the music), Red Velvet debuted, and EXO got another full length album. Amazeballs.

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Thanks. Although I never predicted Jessica would get kicked out the way she did.

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