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“… you’re all going to go mad,” was the confident prediction of Kim Heechul, the a member of 10-men-strong Super Junior, of fans’ reception to their latest album, Mr. Simple, released on Aug 3.

Fans have been counting down a whole year, following the vast success of the group’s 4th album Bonamana (Beauty) in mid-2010, and are now readying themselves for a new tsunami in the K-pop industry

Bonamana, which featured a wide range of music genres such as ballads, pop, hip-hop and dance, had achieved outstanding awards and chart rankings, selling approximately 300,000 copies in South Korea alone and peaking at the top of the Taiwanese online music chart, KKBOX, for more than a year.

Perhaps to further raise the hype among their fans, more commonly known as E.L.Fs (Everlasting Friends), Kim Heechul left the following comment on his Twitter account.

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“I heard that Bonamana has been ranked first in Taiwan for over a year. Basically, only our new 5th album is the only one that can break the Bonamana record… We may be going crazy with preparations for our 5th album, but when it’s finally released, you’re all going to go mad. We’re a killer group, you know.”

 

A Not-So-Simple Mr. Simple

2 weeks prior to the official release of Mr. Simple, Super Junior’s label agency, SM Entertainment, which also manages other prominent K-pop artistes such TVXQ and BoA, unveiled the teaser pictures of each member.

With a flamboyant concept of ‘ubersexual’ (meaning stylish, yet still masculine and cool), the group of 10 showed off a far-from-simple shockingly colourful new look as compared to the classy image from their past albums, garnering various mixed reactions from E.L.Fs.

19-year-old Joyce Lee Jia Ling, who has been a fan of the band for 2 years now, finds the bold concept novel.

“I think that it is a refreshing change from their previous album as they always kept more to a sophisticated concept for their previous albums. This new concept shows a different side of them that fans have never seen before, with a more funky image.”

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From top left (clockwise): Eunhyuk, Donghae, Leeteuk, Shindong, Kyuhyun, Sungmin, Ryeowook, Yesung, Siwon and Heechul.

The title song is an electro-pop number that discusses, if you understand Korean, the different aspects of life, specifically dreams, freedom and the frustrations you face while striving to fulfill an aspiration(s) in such a complex society. A day after the official album launch, SM Entertainment released the highly anticipated music video. In the video, the members once again showed off their sleek dance moves while clad in black and white outfits, alternating with bright jewel colours, yet another big contrast with their teaser photos.

Mr. Simple, which was made digitally available on various Korean music portals on Aug 2, topped the Korean Music Chart Dosirak an hour after its release.

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The Good: Energy, Composition and Rendition

If you’re having a bad day, this album is absolutely right for you. Tracks such as ‘La La La La (Be My Girl)’, ‘Good Friends’ and ‘Sunflower’, comprise of positive and energetic vibes that showcase the members’ clear, distinctive and light hearted vocals, which are sure to put you into your best spirits.

After trying their hands at self-composition of several songs in Bonamana, they’re back for more. For example, ‘Y’, an R&B track of medium tempo is composed by member Lee Donghae. In past albums, Donghae has also contributed in the lyric writing and composition in ‘I Am’ from 2nd studio album Don’t Don, and ‘A Short Journey’ along with fellow group mate Lee Eunhyuk in Bonamana. ‘A Short Journey’ was created in tribute to one of the band’s inactive members Kangin, who is enlisted into military service following his assault and hit-and-run cases. ‘Y’ offers a soothing melody with emotional singing, which evokes a similar feel as ‘A Short Journey’.

One notable track in the album that has captured much attention is ‘White Christmas’, the group’s commendable rendition of the 1996 version performed by Jinu, a former one-man band in the 90s and is now part of the rock band Roller Coaster.

In Super Junior’s remake of ‘White Christmas’, while a few months too early, sees more rock elements added into the arrangements of the song. One has to give thumbs up to the group as they belt out this track in perfect unison and jovial harmony, bringing the listeners a Merry ‘White Christmas’ despite the summer heat.

 

The Disappointing: Auto-tunes, The Missing One

Despite the band’s subgroup, Super Junior K.R.Y’s demonstration of their powerful and beautiful vocals in the track ‘My Love, My Kiss, My Heart’, the entire group doesn’t have many opportunities to exhibit their prowess as singers in the album as a whole.

In spite of the catchy and foot-tapping tunes in ‘Mr Simple’ and ‘Opera’, the tracks are still heavily coated with auto-tune, which may prove too jarring to the ears once they’re put onto replay.

But dedicated fans still love the auto-tuning anyway. The biggest disappointment when it comes to this latest album will probably be the absence of member Kim Kibum. Since the release of 2009’s major hit ‘Sorry, Sorry’, Kibum hasn’t been partaking in the group’s activities as he pursues his acting career. Fans were anticipating his return to the group as a surprise for them, however, were in for  another huge letdown.

“I am personally disappointed with Kibum’s situation. E.L.Fs know that he has a strong love for acting and they respect his passion. That is why when he did not participate in the 4th album, although E.L.Fs were sad, they accepted that. But I really feel that he should come back for group activities,” commented Joyce.

She then brought up fellow bandmate, Choi Siwon, as a successful example of singer-cum-actor, “He [Kibum] may still continue his love for acting while doing Super Junior activities. Take fellow member Siwon as an example. He managed to juggle his Super Junior promotional schedules alongside his drama filming, like Oh My Lady, IRISand Skip Beat.”

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One of Super Junior’s inactive members, Kim Kibum.

What’s Next?

Before the 28-year-old members, Heechul and leader Leeteuk, head off for their 2-year military enlistment in 2012, fans will hope to catch them live in performance for a one last time.

After the roaring success the band’s received in their premier Singapore’s 2-day concert, Super Show 3, held at the Singapore Indoors Stadium in January, the next question on the fans’ mind will sooner or later be this: When are they coming for Super Show 4?

Maybe Heechul’s right, fans are really going to go mad soon.

 

Verdict: 4/5

 

Photos courtesy of SM Entertainment.