Oh, U-KISS, what am I going to do with you?
Over the past couple of years, U-KISS’s releases have been so consistently quality, it’s almost enough to make us forget that this is the same group that brought us “Not Young” and “Baby Take My Love.” Unfortunately, the ill-advised subgroup uBEAT is here to remind us.
uBEAT consists of Kevin with a side of Eli and AJ. OK, technically it’s supposed to be Eli and AJ featuring Kevin but really, it’s the other way around. Kevin basically sings the entire song with AJ and Eli as his backup rappers. During various interviews and such, Kevin is always quick to emphasize that he’s not officially part of the subgroup, which I find hilarious. It’s almost like he’s effectively trying to distance himself from this clusterfuck without straight-up dissing it. Congrats, Kevin. You get the John Cho subtle shade award!
So basically, that would make uBEAT Eli and AJ. Apparently, they had been wanting to do this subgroup thing for a while and then their company made it happen. Considering that the only publicly released sample (that I know of) of AJ and Eli’s oeuvre is “Party All the Time” I’m not sure this was a standup idea. Perhaps this is why they ended up promoting a
rejected Teen Top track from Brave Bros. And perhaps, given the recent success of subunit duos like Sistar19 and Infinite-H, NHM was hoping to cash in on that.
Unfortunately… I don’t know how to put this gently. So I’m not going to. Most idol group subunits tend to focus on the most popular and/or talented members. And while AJ definitely has the talent for a project like this… we have Eli.
Real talk here. Eli is easily the most embarrassing part of U-KISS. I cannot think of a single thing he’s done that doesn’t make me shake my head and mutter, “fucking Eli.” Most of the time, he’s kept to a minimum, given just enough rap lines and awkward English intros to justify his being in the group. Even his hardcore stans make fun of him all the time. Remember when he found the “fuckyoueli” tumblr and thought they were antis? Yeah, that’s what I mean. So why do people like him?
See, this is how Eli is best. Saying and doing very little and just being pretty.
Naturally, NHM decided that Eli was going to be the ~*actor*~ in uBEAT’s video. This… worked out about as well as one might imagine.
The fuck is that thing in your eyebrow? Is this 1998? Did NHM happen to stumble into the TARDIS when creating this concept?
Speaking of the concept, U-KISS, I love you guys dearly but… you can’t do street. Like, at all. Do you remember what happened the last time you did street?
Do you really think it was a good idea to do street again? As seen time and time again in their most successful releases (and yes, I realize that “successful” and “U-KISS” are antithetical but work with me here), U-KISS thrives most when they’re delightfully Eurotrash. Granted, they took a turn at GQMF alley for “Stop Girl,” but generally speaking, they are about as street as these guys.
And then we have the song. Ahh, the song. uBEAT’s “album” is the ultimate in cheap tightwaddery from NHM, who can always be counted on to bring the class. Shit, I think JRoc and Bubbles run a tighter ship than this.
The mini features two original songs (and I use that term very loosely) and a bunch of remixed U-KISS songs. The title track is easily the weaker of the two original songs. When I first heard it, I swore it sounded like a rejected Teen Top song. Seriously, you guys. It is eerie. As I was listening, I could almost figure out exactly which lines were meant for which Teen Top members. Kevin’s vocals do sound uncannily like NielChunji here. Ahh, Brave Bros. Probably the only person who rips themselves off more than Cassie Claire.
Now that I have basically spoiled the entire video, let’s recap this bad boy.
We open with an exciting change of pace—an awkward spoken intro from Eli! But wait—it’s in Korean! I know, I know. Try to contain yourself. The video itself has no real plot or storyline, just cuts between random shots of the guys standing on a pier, in front of a bridge, in some weird tunnel that looks like a storage unit, and a sad-looking girl who bears a striking resemblance to 4minute’s Gayoon (also a weird and random shot of her floating in the air as though jumping on a trampoline). Unlike the video for “Standing Still,” which stretched its slim budget to an even tighter and more glorious effect than Soohyun’s pants, “Should’ve Treated You Better” definitely looks low-budget. Everything about this single and this mini just feels so cobbled-together.
I wish I could say that the guys were trying to sell this but… they really weren’t. There were even some shots when they looked really bored/tired. Maybe I’m just mistaking cool hip-hop aloofness for bored and tired, or maybe they really are exhausted since NHM works them so hard, but the effect is the same. Still, it’s not all terrible. Kevin’s vocals are on point as always and he looks really pretty (despite an unfortunate wardrobe). AJ looked good, too, and I feel kind of bad for him because between Kevin’s pretty and Eli’s embarrassing he really got overshadowed here. Sorry, AJ.
If it seems like I’m being way harsh
Tai, well, it’s because I am. But you know I love U-Kiss. And I think they’re better than this. No, I know they’re better than this.
So I’m just going to put the blame on NHM because who else is there to blame, really? U-KISS has enough problems as one unit, let alone broken into subunits. And well, if they had to do a 2-member subunit, perhaps the Sistar19 route would’ve served them better.
Now there’s an idea I can get behind.
Hehe. Get it? Behind? … OK, I’m going now.