Mamamoo's 'Melting' Brings Retro Soul Back to K-Pop

Courtesy of WA Entertainment


EDM, step aside. Bubblegum pop, your time is up. Mamamoo’s Melting brings a retro soul feel back to the K-pop world, heralding the Korean quartet's rise to the top ranks of the girl group hunger games. Shunning the over-the-top production values associated with a lot of the music coming out of South Korea, Mamamoo’s first LP brings its listeners back in time -- with a modern tweak.

The girl group made it big last year with retro-inspired dance songs like "Um Oh Ah Yeah," "Mr. Ambiguous," and "Piano Man" garnering the attention of South Korean audiences. Following the release of Melting at the end of Feb., these women are back in brass with a light-hearted vengeance to show the world that K-pop isn’t all about the saccharine and the sexy.  

Solar, Wheein, Hwasa, and rapper Moonbyul go against the grain of typical K-pop albums, kicking it off right away with a new sound on the Dr. Dre-inspired "Taller Than You," one of three official singles from the album. A totally different style for Mamamoo, the four pull off the humorous spitfire lyrics to pure perfection on this parody rap battle all about the 1cm that divides them.

Mamamoo tones it down a bit on the jazzy "Words Don’t Come Easy" before introducing "You’re The Best," Mamamoo’s answer to "Lady Marmalade." Just as Christina, Pink, Lil’ Kim, and Mya belted it out on the 2001 cover of the iconic song, this sassy, brassy song makes the most of each members’ distinct vocal colors.  The bombastic, retro groove is also revived on "Funky Boy" and "Girl Crush," two of the most upbeat songs on the album.

The album hardly tones it down as it goes on, recalling some of our favorite songs from years past with "My Hometown" kicking off with some gentle strumming that would fit right in on Maroon 5’s Songs About Jane, even as "Emotion" and "I Miss You" come off like songs TLC would have dominated charts with. "Friday Night," featuring Korean crooner Junggigo, is the most modern sounding song on the album, with an uptempo R&B sound.

Mamamoo dabbles with even older sounds, too, bringing pure doo-wop and swing on "Recipe" and "Cat Fight." The dreamy, soulful, instrumentally motivated "Just" brings things just about to a close. Throughout Melting, the ladies of Mamamoo take the tunes of yesterday and give them a modern feel. Never letting their outstanding vocals overshadow the eclectic musical accompaniment, Mamamoo simply shines in a way not seen by most K-pop girl groups.

Their talent is getting noticed worldwide: Melting made it to the No. 1 spot on the U.S iTunes K-pop chart, and they're slated to perform in Austin for South By Southwest 2016 this month.