By Paris365 on May 20, 2013

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Universal Music (South Korea)

Name is 4Minute is K-Pop girl group 4Minute's fourth mini-album. "4Minute, what's my name?" they ask, hip-hop style, during the enticing and suspense-building intro track, "What's My Name?" The track features layers of electrifying synth and hard-driving beats. It also has a lot more vocals -- both singing and hip-hop -- than your typical K-Pop intro track. To that end, it feels like an actual song... Until it ends rather abruptly at 1:19. It's disappointing that they didn't just make it a proper, full-length song instead of leaving it as an intro that feels like half of a really great song. But one's frustration about that will probably dissolve just a few seconds into the following track, a Brave Brothers' production called "이름이 뭐예요?" or "What's Your Name?" It's easily among the girls' strongest songs to date. It features a booming and fresh, hip-hop-flavored beat and all sorts of loops that sound like they could be sampled from 1980's videogames, giving it a rather unique vibe that's both retro and futuristic. Vocally, the verses are mostly cool and sexy rap. "What's your name?" the girls ask over and over with plenty of sass in between trading thirsty come-ons in Korean back and forth, almost as if dueling. Guitars enter the mix for the chorus, which the girls sing normally, but it's shorter than your usual chorus and feels more like a bridge as a result. To that end, I suppose it's best described as a hook, but the verses are far more catchy, the girls' energy and confidence being quite charming.

"We can do whatever," the girls sing over and over during "Whatever," which features sizzling, synthesized bass and a punchy, resounding beat. "Tell me how you want it boy," begins the chorus, which oozes with sex as you could probably guess just from reading that. Overall, the song it most reminds me of would be Girls' Generation's "I Got A Boy," as it has a post chorus part that seems to come out of leftfield, as though it's a piece of another song that was just randomly inserted here. At least that's how it feels the first few times you listen to it. But, like "I Got A Boy," it's a song that gets under your skin in the best way possible with repeat listenings, ultimately winning you over. And, honestly, it's almost as catchy as "I Got A Boy," which is saying a lot because "I Got A Boy" is nothing short of brilliant to my ears.

The following track, "Gimme That," is just as bold and sexual as "Whatever" with the girls demanding "gimme that, gimme that, tell me what you wanna do." The biggest difference between the songs is that "Whatever" is decidedly hip-hop whereas the girls sing much of "Gimme That." But they do even more singing during "Domino," the mini-album's stellar, final track, which features a buoyant, danceable beat and sparkling synth. But its the sharp, thrilling strings that really make the song a red hot winner. It also has the catchiest chorus and strongest melody of all the songs on the mini-album and it's the song that most closely resembles the girls' previous releases.

I suppose some will criticize Name is 4Minute for being so hip-hop flavored, or for brimming with sex, but if you just listen to it without over-analyzing it you're sure to appreciate it for what it is: one of the year's best K-Pop releases thus far. -Michael McCarthy

Labels and artists interested in being featured here may contact Michael McCarthy at cinema365@gmail.com. Michael reviews other (non-Asian) music at Love is Pop: http://www.loveispop.com. Follow Michael on Twitter: https://twitter.com/paris365.

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