As a fierce defender of pop music, one of my greatest frustrations is when I have to face off against someone who believes the genre is inherently limited, that it lacks the capacity for exploration, and experimentation. When people claim such things, I point them towards the shores of South Korea, a nation with a music scene that I have been mildly obsessed with for the past 6 years. K-Pop is a highly manufactured genre, artists often trained for years by labels before they are allowed to release music. But rather than leading to homogeny, this has driven innovation. Nowhere is this clearer than with f(x), a quartet as flexible as their name suggests.
Teacups and tattoos
Originally conceived as a more compact version of Girls’ Generation, a saccharine K-Pop powerhouse, f(x) has honed an increasingly distinct sound since their 2009 debut, incorporating trap and UK garage with electropop. 4 Walls, the lead single from the album of the same name, is an evolution of deep house. Stylish synth washes form the base of subtle verses, where the ethereal voices of f(x) wash over one another, a base that is stripped away once the hook appears, “love is 4 walls” echoing in the repetitive chorus.
Lyrically, 4 Walls deals with the confusion of romantic love. Does love close you off, isolate you? Or is it security, and safety? Melancholia permeates the song, a sense of introspection and sadness. This song was my go-to for the build-up to finals exams. When trapped in an endless cycle of libraries, the melancholia of 4 Walls is an excellent reflection your own. It’s the perfect song for indulging in a bit of self-pity, starting quietly and in tune with yourself, before rising to a fantastic crescendo – there is nothing like a banging synth breakdown to snap you out of a funk.
Every Wednesday, one of our contributors writes about a track they've been listening to.
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