Sunmi remains one of K-Pop’s biggest weirdos, and for that, I am grateful.
The 26-year-old Wonder Girls superstar has proven herself to be a very unique kind of soloist in just a short amount of time, from her re-debut with the biting “Gashina” to the slightly Cheryl Tweedy Cole Fernandez-Versini Payne-sounding, controversy-baiting “Heroine.”
From her jerky movements to her ominous and/or slightly obsessive lyrical content, Sunmi skips right over the more predictable tropes of K-Pop – no schoolgirl skirts here! – and delivers a more mature form of seduction, intrigue, confidence and of course, plenty of drama. (And washing machines at the bottom of the ocean, too.)
As of Tuesday (September 4), Sunmi’s back with a third sampling of her style: “Siren,” the title track from her first post-Wonder Girls EP, Danger.
Given that Sunmi is not one to turn down a double entendre (check out the multiple meanings of “Gashina”), “Siren” has different interpretations, too.
“Sirens are used for warnings, and I was also inspired by sirens in mythology,” she explained at her showcase.
“They are known as beautiful but frightening presences that lure sailors in with their beautiful voices and drag them down to the bottom of the ocean. The mermaids that appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides were also sirens. I think I’ll be able to take that unique concept and express it well…the reason sirens stuck out to me is that they’re what are used in the most dangerous of situations. And the origin of the word ‘Siren’ is that mermaid figure. The song itself has an ambiguous meaning, so I wanted to use that word.”
“Just let go / Don’t even hesitate a little / Just let go / You know that I’ll hurt you / The beautiful me of your fantasies doesn’t exist / Can’t you see that boy?”
Appropriately, there’s an undeniably sinister tone throughout the music video – which kicks off with a sneeze that triggers some sort of rip in the time-space continuum, which results in separate Sunmis with different personalities – one of which arrives via priority mail, thus explaining the sticker stuck in her hair. And there’s an actual siren too, who is perhaps a distant cousin to Yüyi the Mermaid from Gaga‘s “You & I” video. Or something like that.
There may be more than one reason Sunmi’s split up. The song was meant for more than one person, originally: her own group.
“About two or three years ago when Wonder Girls was promoting as a band, this song was being considered as a title track alongside ‘Why So Lonely.’ It was determined the song wouldn’t sound as great if arranged for a band, so I’ve been keeping it in mind and hoping there would be a time for me to showcase it,” she explained.
Luckily, the song sounds just fine with Sunmi taking the helm. And she’s taking control more than ever, too: she also wrote the lyrics for “Siren” – and also all the songs on her mini-album. She also helped to compose some of the songs on the record.
“Siren” is also evidence that K-Pop needs its soloists. Like other, more seasoned girl group members-turned-solo-stars – Hyolyn‘s “See Sea” is one of the year’s best, for instance – Sunmi’s making some of the most memorable music in the K-Pop sphere at the moment. Actually, soloists in general – Heize, hello – are really helping to keep the genre fresh and different and cool. (Hell, even the LOOΠΔ girls sounded better solo. Too controversial too soon? Oops.)
Sunmi’s a star. Just, y’know, don’t get too close. And if you do? Don’t say she didn’t warn you.
“Siren” was released on September 4. (iTunes)
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