I’ve only fully appreciated gugudan when they dropped the catchy “A Girl Like Me” earlier this year. Even though I’m a big fan of Sejeong and the ten other I.O.I members, I must admit that I felt like gugudan’s debut was rushed and was chasing to benefit off of I.O.I’s popularity. I liked “Wonderland,” but their musical direction seemed so vague that I only felt it coming together when they released their second mini-album. Now back after spending more or less seven months off the radar, the ladies of gugudan hope to hit it even bigger with “Chococo” from their first single album Act. 3 Chococo Factory.
When I first heard snippets of “Chococo” from the audio teasers, I was honestly disappointed. I read in one article that the group was about to come back with an “addicting” track, and when they said that, I was expecting to hear something along the lines of “A Girl Like Me.” I felt that they would put out a song that’s catchier and has more melodic variations because that’s exactly why their last single was received so well by the public. Still, I checked their comeback music video for the track, and to my surprise, I was digging it a lot more than I expected.
K-Pop being a whole genre itself, it’s a given that music plays the biggest part. I, however, do also believe that the whole experience is a balance of everything—the concept, music, choreography, and the music video. The fun thing about K-Pop (or any genre, in that sense) is that even if you may not like a track when you listen to it, the other factors, when executed well, can very much spark an interest for you to give the song a second try. That was exactly what happened to me with “Chococo.” The whole music video is mad entertaining, and that was enough for me to keep hitting the replay button.
“Chococo” is a very effective track. It’s a very straightforward hook song that gets to the point the moment the chorus hits you, allowing ample time for it to get stuck in your head. Unlike most choruses that open with a melodic verse followed by a hook, the chorus of this track runs you through three well-written hooks all throughout: the opening “Chococo lip” line, the “sweet lips like chocolate” line from the next four bars, and the “Nanananana” hook that acts like a breather among the three hooks. Having these three together works in the group’s favor as all are seamlessly written in accordance to their intensity, so it doesn’t seem like the three just came out of nowhere. One unfortunate thing about the song is that the chorus is too stagnant and lacks melodic variety despite being effective, hence the song may come off repetitive. The melodic variety only comes in through the second hook, but it would have been better if they opened the chorus with the same variety or used a more fluid melody. However, it’s possible that it is structured intentionally to give way to the idea of intensity I pointed out earlier.
The Music Video
It didn’t take me much time to fall in love with the music video, as I’ve said that it is the main reason I got into the song. The moment I saw the girls dancing with the Hershey’s Kisses head pieces on, I knew I was in love. The music video is quirky, trippy, and creepy all rolled into one, and it works perfectly well with the song. The variety of their scenes, especially the ones with the members parodying some famous candy bars, is a clever idea. It’s very hard to pick a favorite moment from the video as I feel there are a lot of interesting scenes going on, but I would have to say that nothing beats the Sejeong and Hana moment in the latter part of the video. Mimi’s little “Mimiro Rocher” scene and the scene with Sally’s head floating around a lot of donuts are definitely close runners-up though.
Act. 3 Chococo Factory is home to two great b-sides, “Lucky” and “Snowball.” Both tracks are really good, which delights me as I usually find the group’s mini-albums to be quite forgettable.
The first one, “Lucky,” is a funk-inspired dance track that stays light all throughout. There’s a funk guitar in the majority of the song’s verses, making the funk inspiration sound prominent. The track has great melodic variations, and the way the song switches a few counts after the verses to an unexpected chord is one of my favorite musical moments from the track. The second one, “Snowball,” is definitely my favorite b-side from the album. Produced by Gen Neo, who has done a lot of R&B tracks for Henry, Eric Nam, and f(x), the track is in a laid-back R&B ballad format and is heaps better than gugudan’s previously-released ballads. The best thing about the track is definitely its chorus, which stays soft with Sejeong, Haebin, and Hyeyeon singing through their lower registers. I personally feel like Nayoung would have deserved more parts because her husky vocals fit the track a lot, but other than that, “Snowball” is a superb listen.
It’s a pity that “Chococo” isn’t doing well on the charts right now as I feel the song and group deserve more attention, especially with the group doing quite decently with “A Girl Like Me.” I do get that their recent single requires a lot more listening for some people to fully appreciate it; however, “Chococo” is still a great follow-up to their last single. While I do think that “A Girl Like Me” is still the better song, “Chococo” had the better concept and execution. I was thoroughly entertained by the group’s concept and overall execution this time, and with K-Pop, that’s all you honestly need sometimes.
“Chococo” Title Score – 8.0/10
Music Video Score – 9.5/10
Album Score – 8.0/10