Follow the Leader: HyunA, Eternal “Babe,” Ages in Reverse and Grows Her ‘Following’ (Album Review)

Follow the leader.

Screw a Tony Moly face mask: HyunA‘s comeback is all you need to reverse the effects of time and erase those fine lines.

With “Babe,” the title track from the K-pop queen’s sixth solo mini-album Following out on Tuesday (Aug. 29), HyunA is officially back — and aging backwards every time she sees her baybeh, baybeh.

The song is sweeter and slightly calmer than HyunA’s usual sexed-up, in-your-face club servings like “How’s This?” or “Red” — which isn’t a criticism. Like “365 Fresh” with Triple H earlier this year, HyunA’s feeling out her funkier side. And, like Miss Miley Cyrus, she’s feeling so much younger now. (This would also explain her fresh-faced and natural promotional photos leading up to the album’s release.)

You make me 25, 25, 25 / You make me 24, 24, 24 / I feel like 21, 21, 21,” she breathily swoons across the funky vintage synths — seemingly forgetting she was in 4minute, not 2NE1.

Accordingly, the choreography-filled video sees HyunA cycling through throwback ’80s and ’90s styling and flaunting her youthful charm (what would a K-pop song about being young be without a requisite schoolgirl uniform?) — that is, until she suddenly decides she’s over it and beams herself up into outer space to become the Queen of the Universe. Who among us hasn’t?

hyuna Hyuna Following Album Babe-following-2
Cube Entertainment

In the market for something slightly more slut drop-friendly? She’s got you covered: album opener “Party (Follow Me),” featuring Pentagon‘s Wooseok and produced by “Red” composer Big Sancho, is as noisy as any HyunA banger from her back catalog. (“1 2 3, 3 4 5 / One shot, two shot, I’m pretty drunk” she declares on the rowdy turnt anthem, Sia “Chandelier” style.)

“Purple” sees the “Bubble Pop” singer reuniting with her Triple H buddy, Pentagon rapper E’Dawn, for a color-coded, tripping hip-pop moment of swooning.

Further on, HyunA flirts with a dangerous lover on the trop-pop infused standout “Dart,” a hypnotic serving of summery beats and temptation-filled lyrics. (For that matter: it’s worth noting that HyunA participated in co-writing all five tracks on Following.)

Rounding out the mini, downtempo electro-ballad “Mirror” (also referred to a “Self-Portrait”) finds HyunA looking inward for a more serious-faced finale full of life lessons.

To seek true happiness / Go to the real in a false life,” she (roughly translated) proclaims on the anti-superficiality anthem.

Production-wise, it’s vaguely reminiscent of Britney‘s “Blur”; the hazy morning after a night out. The mature and introspective final moment is an EP highlight, proving there’s more to HyunA than just getting lit. (Her rap skills also supremely shine.)

“The album is for those who have followed me [throughout my career] and also a way for me to ask listeners to continue to follow and have an interest in my music,” she explained of the album’s title in a conference leading up to the release.

At a time when new boy bands and girl groups are getting spit out from the K-Pop factory at breakneck speed, it’s nice to see a true star continue to come into her own as an artist after over a decade in the industry.

Based on this latest mini, HyunA’s Following is likely only going to grow more fiercely loyal — and only increase in size.

Following was released on August 29. (iTunes)

Photo: Cube Entertainment / HyunA’s Instagram

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