Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: T-ara–“Cry Cry”

T-ara gets mixed up in the dark underworld of bounty hunters and crime lords.

Did you like the song?
There are two versions of this song (and video!), the ballad version and the more upbeat version. The music video showcases the ballad version most, and it goes well with the video. Nice piano melody. But for the purposes of this question, I’m pretty much ignoring that version because I much prefer the faster one. It’s a curious mix of a church choir (at the beginning), Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again,” and the exotic Spanish guitar/flamenco sound in MBLAQ’s “Mona Lisa.” And while the chorus isn’t as catchy as I’m used to with T-ara, the result definitely works for me, as it usually does with most of their songs.

T-ara Cry Cry members

(Top:) Maknae Jiyeon, Qri, Eunjung, (bottom:) Boram, Soyeon, current leader Hyomin, and newest member Hwayoung (whose twin is Hyoyoung from 5DOLLS!).

What was your favorite part of the song?
Other than the overall Latinized sound, probably the first line in the chorus, “Baby, can’t you see that look in my eyes?” But, man, I’ve found myself singing along to this for days now…

Does the English make you want to rip your eardrums out?
It’s generally okay. I could quibble with a few lines: “Can’t you see the music?” is a bit odd because music is more auditory than visual, and the “break it/make it/take it” bit doesn’t really make sense within the lyrics. Still, T-ara gets points for improving their English since “Yayaya,” which was basically an exercise in gibberish.

T-ara Cry Cry members teasers stills

Hwayoung, Hyomin, Soyeon, Boram, Qri, Jiyeon, and Eunjung.

Did you like the video?
Caution: rant ahead. So after releasing the 12-minute “Roly Poly,” I saw that T-ara is releasing two of these 15-minute-long music videos (the next one is “Lovey Dovey” and will be out next month) and was ready to moan and complain about how I wish that music videos wouldn’t do this sort of thing, that the filmmakers should confine themselves to the length of the song, maybe a bit of time before and after, but no more than that.

In the past, when I’ve seen these long “dramatic” music videos, the song—you know, the point of the music video—always gets chopped up and obscured, and the parts without music or the main performers tend to drag. Oh my god, can they drag. Like, having fewer limits on their time allows the filmmakers to just go crazy on “setting the mood.”

But truthfully, this was really good, entertaining, and above all far from boring, so now I’m a bit more open-minded about it. Still, a few instances of long MVs being done well does not make up for hundreds where the extra time is either pointless or confusing or both. (For example, while “Cry Cry” didn’t drag, “Roly Poly” really did.) For me, the point and the challenge of a music video is fitting it into that 3 to 4-minute timeframe. Heck, the group 4minute is even based on this premise.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is: T-ara, I’m all for you developing your acting skills. But if you want to make a movie, go ahead and make a damn movie (or musical—oh wait, “Roly Poly” is already being made into a musical!). If you want to release a song, release an actual music video, one where we get to hear the full song uninterrupted, with all your seven members in it, not just four members total. /end rant

T-ara Cry Cry poster

Look, there’s even a movie poster.

EDIT: I am majorly mollified by the fact that, well, they did just release an actual music video with all the members in it, although it’s just a dance version. Though I still think my rant is valid in the general sense.

EDIT 2: Oh my God, there is now a third version of this music video, a ballad version. Although I appreciate that it gives lots of screentime to everyone, it is awkward and actually quite creepy. See what you think:

Was there a storyline? If so, did it make sense?
You know what, I could literally write anything here because I’m sure not one of you guys actually watched this whole thing. :/ T-ara get captured by aliens from space! T-ara become a wandering band of circus performers! T-ara time-travel back to the disco age and have an awesome Saturday Night Fever party! (I know, I know, that last one is just way too implausible.) But since I am nice, here is a basic plotline for the drama, which is set 10 years ago:

T-ara’s Jiyeon, who actually uses her real name for her character, has a father who is into some shady stuff, though what exactly is not specified. Is he a crime lord? Mob boss? Poker shark who lost one too many rounds and owes money to bad people? At any rate, he employs shifty people.

One day an attractive bounty hunter comes to his house as part of a raid and shoots him to death—without knowing that his little daughter is in the room, close enough to get blood splattered on her (ew).

T-ara Cry Cry music video screenshot

Unhappy times.

This traumatizes our protagonist so much that he takes little Jiyeon and raises her for ten years. Key question: why oh why did Jiyeon’s dad not just tell the bounty hunter that his daughter was there?! Where is the rest of Jiyeon’s family? Does she not have aunts, uncles, a mother? I guess if your father is a crime lord, you tend to lose family members often.

Her adolescence is one of further shiftiness, heavy eyeliner, and bubblegum, as the bounty hunter raises her to be his little protégé in underworld dealings. He teaches her to cheat at poker, for example, even though I’m sure in real life they would both be lynched for that sort of blatant trickery.

Partners in crime, gambling, and subway-riding.

One day because they have nothing better to do, they are tracking and videotaping T-ara’s Hyomin, who steals wallets from ladies on subway cars and gives them to her foul-tempered, abusive pimp manager. Then instead of taking her in, they take in her boss, to Jiyeon’s confusion. But it makes sense to me. Why would you go for a lackey when you can get a higher-up?

T-ara Hyomin Cry Cry still screenshot

Naturally I had to tag this photo as “Hyomin and pimp.”

Bounty hunters in T-ara’s world are very old-school for their assignments. Never rely on technology when you can rely on crumpled up pieces of paper, am I right? Their next assignment is a guy who was involved with Jiyeon’s father, all those 10 years ago. Our bounty hunter doesn’t want to take it, but Jiyeon does, so she secretly meets the guy, who of course spills the beans that *gasp* Jiyeon has been raised by her father’s murderer. A shootout ensues. The End.

T-ara Cry Cry screenshot Jiyeon still

Jiyeon is not a happy camper.

I have no idea how Part 2 of this drama is going to continue this storyline, I just hope neither Qri nor Eunjung have to get slapped around as much as Jiyeon and Hyomin were in Part 1.

Was the dance cool and distinctive?
Yay, a dance practice version as well as the dance music video version (embedded above)! Good job, T-ara.

In this one it is so much easier to see the dance than in the actual dance music video. Anyway, THERE ARE SCARVES AND CANES. Although I have to say I’m sad they didn’t do more with the flamenco concept or that the dance didn’t have more powerful moves to match the music. But maybe they will wear the red dresses and have castanets in their comeback. Probably not.

It seems like T-ara excels dance-wise when the whole thing is choreographed in small, easy to mimic moves instead of powerful ones (i.e. “Why Are You Being Like This” and “Roly Poly”).

T-ara Cry Cry members teasers

(Top:) Hyomin, Boram, Soyeon, Qri, (bottom:) Hwayoung, Jiyeon, and Eunjung.

Do the members look good?
Drama version: Well, since Jiyeon and Hyomin (two of my favorites in T-ara, with Eunjung!) are the only two in it, I’d say they both look good, though at least for Jiyeon the badass character doesn’t seem to fit with her at all. She certainly looks the part, but maybe it’s because I know what a sweet personality she has that the acting seems off somehow. Or maybe the acting really is off.

Dance music video version: No matter how much I think if they had made this version better, T-ara’s comeback would be more successful, I really can’t complain too much because this is basically an extra for fans. Still, why couldn’t they have given more screentime to the members who aren’t going to be in the drama versions? Soyeon got some screentime, but it seemed like Boram and Hyayoung were barely in the video at all (except for Boram’s tango part).

T-ara Cry Cry members teasers stills

Hyomin, Qri, Soyeon, Jiyeon, Boram, Hwayoung, and Eunjung.

In other news, did you notice that three of the T-ara girls have short hair now (Eunjung, Jiyeon, and Hwayoung)? And Hyomin and Boram aren’t too far off. Although some girls with short hair in Kpop can certainly rock the look better than others, I don’t think it’s possible for them to actually look bad with the bobbed cut. What do you think?

T-ara Cry Cry members teasers background

Eunjung, Boram, Soyeon, Qri, Jiyeon, Hyomin, and Hwayoung.

Which member stood out the most?
Drama version: I’m going to have to give this to the main bounty hunter played by Cha Seungwon, whom Jiyeon calls “ajusshi” (basically “uncle” or “middle-aged man”). His acting was superb, really letting me believe his conflicted character (even though he probably shouldn’t have raised Jiyeon himself).

T-ara cry cry main actor man still screenshot


Dance music video version: Haha, this one was surprisingly easy to give to Hyomin’s abs Qri because she’s the only member I could ever see clearly, thanks to those stupid freakin’ lights shining in our eyes the whole time. It reminded me vaguely of the way I found it hard to see the members in their music video “I Go Crazy Because of You.” T-ARA directors, please get it together! (Qri always looks really great in music videos, to be honest, even if she always uses those kinda creepy doll contacts.)

T-ara Cry Cry Qri


Do you like it enough to buy the song?
Yup! (The fast-paced version, that is.)

Any ending thoughts?
Above, I said that Hyomin was the “current leader.” That’s because T-ara uses a rotating leader system where they elect a new member each year. It’s a very interesting system, and I hope it continues to work well for them.

Also, more groups should get official YouTube channels all to themselves (and publicize them well). It’s irritating to crawl through the videos at LOENT when they don’t come up on YouTube searches…because they don’t have enough views…because the official version wasn’t publicized well.

Boyfriend’s one-liner:
“The girl is missing. Clearly, she must be at the dock!”

The more I read through this, the more it seems like a massive list of griping. But I really do like T-ARA a lot, and I just want them to be the best they can.

Anyway, thanks for reading, Diadems!

Some news about requests!

In light of all the recent requests I’ve received (thanks, by the way!), I think I will try to limit music video reviews to those that have come out recently, i.e. within the past year or so, unless they are truly outstanding or industry-changing in some way. I don’t really feel confident in talking about videos that came out five or more years ago, before I had even heard of Kpop or of the artists, so I can’t place them in context very well, and I think the review would be kind of bad. Sorry about that to those who have requested older videos…if you’d like to make a case for something older, you can always email me. :)

Go to Part 2, “Lovey Dovey” >>


  1. Hey, you reviewed T-ara's new song! Wasn't the drama-like MV long, though? I mean, after I saw the bounty hunter shoot Jiyeon's father in the MV, I kind of knew what was going to happen after that: he takes Jiyeon in out of guilt, she finds out the truth, but she couldn't kill him, so the bad guy escapes with her. Kinda obvious, but it was dragging on for me.

    The dance version was really flashy, though. The lights were blocking the members' faces and kinda blinded me. But I like the part where the girls used the scarfs to dance and took their jackets off. I didn't feel like watching the ballad version, so I got nothing to say about it.

  2. Yes, the drama version was far, far too long, and what's worse is I'm sensing that this is a trend among music videos (longer ones that tell a story that realistically could be told in 3 minutes). 

    Haha, I don't blame you for not wanting to watch the ballad version. Nothing happens. The actual dance was fine, pretty interesting with the scarves, but I couldn't see most of it because of those stupid lights. :(

  3. "So I guess what I’m trying to say is: T-ara, I’m all for you developing your acting skills. But if you want to make a movie, go ahead and make a damn movie (or musical—oh wait, “Roly Poly” is already being made into a musical!). If you want to release a song, release an actual music video, one where we get to hear the full song uninterrupted, with all your seven members in it, not just four members total. /end rant"

    This this this plus a million.

  4. Glad we agree. :D I certainly could do without these long-form music videos. Usually there is no real justification for having that much extra footage, and at some point they stop being videos to promote the music and the band and start being something else.