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SuperM is a consolidation, a diverse and strong one, spanning members across several SM Entertainment boy groups, from the veteran SHINee to the relatively new WayV. It consists of SHINee’s Taemin, the resident dance god of K-Pop; EXO’s Baekhyun, famed for his vocal belting; EXO’s Kai, known for his sharp moves; NCT127’s Mark and Taeyong, adding the rap flavour to the group; and WayV’s Ten and Lucas, providing the Chinese counterpart.
It is esoteric that there would be obscene amounts of pre-gathered hype centered around this group, the expectations high and skyrocketing. However, the shocking part is that SuperM is not a temporary project like Younique but a permanent group, and it has put several fans in unease since EXO have not had a group comeback in nearly a year.
Some may be unenthusiastic about the idea, dismissing SuperM as a desperate attempt of SM to infiltrate the American market, while others may think that it is an impelling advance, a conglomeration of their favourites assembling together to create the “Avengers of K-Pop.”
There is a busload of mixed opinions about SuperM, but there is no denying that the anticipation is high. Let’s see if they delivered.
What comes to view first and foremost is the title of the track itself: “Jopping.” It is SM’s method of promoting a new made-up word and make it trend in hashtags around the world. “Jopping” is essentially a combination of jumping and popping, which may sound either embarrassing to some or innovative to others, but it ultimately does not affect the musical composition.
What hits first when the listener enters the track’s realm is the bold splashes of the brass section, which sound like they are a part of a Hans Zimmer composition—SM took the title “Avengers of K-Pop” quite literally. A dirty bass guitar leads up to the long yet not fatiguing first verse which explores the rapping styles of four of the members. The verse instrumental is vogue with a deep, non-melodic synth paired with the bouncing percussion, which I absolutely adore. This non-melodic character is maintained till Baekhyun’s melodic vocals wash over the sparse instrumental.
The chorus of “Jopping” is reminiscent of TVXQ’s previous releases with the familiar chord progressions and blaring horns coming into aural view, but it is hardly a “TVXQ reject,” as the musical components of the section are tastefully coherent and varied enough to not be called a copy. The heavy booming percussion that sounds like collective claps, along with a melody that is easy to recall, makes the chorus suitable for a pop track.
The bridge of the track is buoyant, uplifting with major-minor mixture that keeps the listener anticipating what is coming up—and the final chorus drops with heavy percussion. The outro is again different from the other guitar sections which keeps the listener’s ears engaged till the very end.
I particularly enjoy the different sets of ad-libs that Baekhyun and Taemin branch out to do in the background, with the highlight being Baekhyun’s euphoric, piercing F#5—a mixed note which is difficult for most male vocalists to hit. The track is a great exploration of all of the members’ timbres, from Kai’s nasal playboy tone to Taeyong’s dark, lush one.
The track’s only shortcoming is the lyricism, which could lead to second-hand embarrassment; the rap verses paired with understandable, mostly-English lyrics might make it a painful listen for some.
One would originally think that the track would be a clash of styles, which I originally thought as well, but with repeated listens, the track comes together pretty well and cohesively gives the fire that we needed from SuperM.
SuperM have had a strong debut; however, the high expectations have led to some polarizing opinions. Stylistically, “Jopping” sounds closest to EXO’s work with the signature epicness of “El Dorado,” which is what made the release so enjoyable. In fact, “Jopping” might just be the guilty pleasure of the year. SuperM have delivered what they had promised and we cannot wait to see what they have in store for the future.