Friday, March 29, 2013

Kara Says Bye Bye to Happy Days

I wonder if the "happy days" mentioned in the title is a metaphor for Kara's relevance in Japan? I kid, I kid but I do wonder how well this single is going to sell, especially after the rather lackluster sales of Electric Boy. Oh well, we'll find out in a few days!

What is this strange and random group I'm reviewing today!? It's Kara, guys! You remember them, right? They're that one K-pop group I actually pay some attention to! I don't think I've reviewed anything by Kara since Electric Boy back in October... I guess I could have taken some time to review Girls Forever but it slipped right past me! I know I don't really say too much about Kara on the Wonderland, but I really do like their music! Well, I like their Japanese music; I haven't listened to many of their Korean songs but what I have heard sounds pretty decent too! And they get brownie points for being fans of Perfume! I remember when I found out about Kara in late 2011 when the Hallyu wave was just starting to pick up; K-pop groups were debuting left and right with hit singles from Korea that were awkwardly re-written in Japanese! But amongst the wave, I kept hearing how the only group that seemed to fit into the J-pop market was Kara. So I looked them up, found songs like Mister and Jumping and actually found myself really liking this group!

What I've always liked about Kara is that they feel like a blend of K-pop and J-pop in that they have cute songs but they're like... a different kind of cute. I don't listen to a lot of K-pop but their definitions of a "cute" song are somewhat different from a J-pop's definition of cute. In J-pop, a "cute" PV is usually more innocent and sweet but in K-pop, I've noticed that the PVs looked a little less innocent and a bit more girlier and mature. It's really hard for me to explain but Kara's Japanese releases caught my eye at the time because their image was different from many of the groups I was following then. They were edgier, the members of the group looked older and the PVs looked more mature, and unlike many idol groups, their PVs actually looked like they were filmed with money! Their image felt sleeker and more polished and it was a nice contrast from groups like AKB48 and Morning Musume. Since late 2011, I've more-or-less tried to follow Kara since I really do like their image. The Taiwanese group Weather Girls actually reminds me a lot of Kara; both groups have that same kind of mature and polished image combined with cute and adorably peppy music! Speaking of adorably peppy music, Kara's 8th Japanese single, Bye Bye Happy Days, sure is happy sounding for a song with such a... sad title. I was kind of expecting something more melancholic but nope, this is a straight-up happy song!

Yeah, when I first hit play on a rip of the song, I was not expecting such a happy song mainly because the title talked about saying goodbye to happy days. I really was thinking the song would be like a ballad or a more serious song! But nope, it's a happy song, a really a happy song at that! The happiness of Bye Bye Happy Days makes me wonder what the lyrics translate to... So yeah, I've noticed that Kara mainly tends to do a lot of happier and more upbeat J-pop songs with the exception of Jumping and maybe Speed Up. Bye Bye Happy Days fits pretty seamlessly into their Japanese discography and has that familiar peppy sound that I've heard in other Kara singles! But honestly, the sound of Bye Bye Happy Days might be a little too familiar. The song sounds a lot like some other Kara songs I've listened to, particularly Go! Go! Summer; the verses in both songs sound very similar. The instrumental also reminds me a lot of Girl's Power. I remember when I first listened to the song I kept thinking at some parts like "Wow, that part sounds a lot like X song or Y song." Bye Bye Happy Days sounds like a bunch of other Kara songs combined into one and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

I mean, the songs it sounds like are good songs but I kind of wish that Bye Bye Happy Days had a more original sound to it. Like the song still could have been happy and cheerful but there were other directions that could have been explored that also would have been equally happy and cheerful! Take Weather Girls' two singles: both songs both have that same hyper-pop sound Kara excels in but both songs are also very different from each other. So while I don't think Bye Bye Happy Days is a bad song at all and is in fact pretty catchy and nice-sounding, I do think that it could have been a more original song. However, for what it is, it's a pretty enjoyable song! I doubt it'll ever be my favorite Kara song but it is enjoyable and has a very energetic and breezy sound to it! I like the instrumental too, even if it's been done in a ton of Kara songs! Bye Bye Happy Days brings Kara back from the electro-feel of Electric Boy and into safe territory for them. It's a safe song that I think fans of Kara's J-pop releases will enjoy! I know I think Bye Bye Happy Days is a cute and nice-sounding song!

Something else I always like about Kara is that they usually tend to have pretty nice and visually appealing PVs! Well... with the exception of Electric Boy... Yeah, I don't know who got fired over in H!P and got called into direct that PV but that was one of the cheaper Kara PVs I've seen. Does Bye Bye Happy Days offer a better PV? Only one way to find out: SCREENCAP TIME!

Well hey, the PV starts off with a nicely done set!

I absolutely love the outfits in this PV! They look so cute and flattering on the girls!

What's in the basket? Top secret information? A bomb? The code to a secret hideout?

Oh wait, it's just a bunch of random stuff... or is it?

Whoa, Hara shoves girls in lockers!? I didn't think she could be so sadistic!

Poor Seungyeon, first she got shoved in a locker, now she's being blindly pulled around by Hara... this just hasn't been her day!

Or maybe it is! Still, shoving someone in a locker to prepare their surprise birthday party is pretty sadistic.

So let me get this straight: a South Korean girl group is singing a Japanese song in a music video with cards written in English... totally makes sense!

Seungyeon's so adorable!

First Girl's Power, now Bye Bye Happy Days, Kara's weapon of choice seems to always be balloons!

Ooooh, even more cute outfits with poofy skirts! Nia likes poofy skirts!

Aw, how sweet! Jiyoung wrote a love letter!

Or maybe it was a hot and sexy fanfiction featuring Jiyoung and Mr. Crush in the PV!!!

No, I can't let him read it! He'll think I'm weird...


Now WE get to read your fanfiction, Jiyoung! MWAHAHA!!!

Uh... why is Gyuri wearing cat ears?

Ah, peer pressure: the ultimate weapon friends have!

Oh god. A person of the male species. I'll just stare at him until he goes away!

Nice job, Gyuri. First Jiyoung screwed her chances with a guy and now you too!

But what can key chains prove to be Gyuri's opportunity for love?

I guess so! But what kind of key chain is that?

Poor Nicole. She must have attempted to do the foot dance from Nee...

Man, that's one empty classroom...

A woman in peril!? Never fear! Mr. Generic Crush is here!

And he brought some fancy tennis shoes for Nicole!

Well, gee, it's a good thing those shoes just happen to fit Nicole! Seriously, finding shoes that fit right is a painful task.

Um, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it kind of hard to gracefully dance in tennis shoes?

Poor Hara... she must be sad that she'll forever have to live in Amuro Namie's shadow.

So why are they taking pictures with flowers again? Is that just what people do in music videos?

Hara, the clocktower is not your boyfriend so quit hugging it!

Aw, how sweet!

So Nicole, Jiyoung and Seungyeong are chicken dancing...

...while Hara and Gyuri are playing patty cake. Okay then!

Did they just save all the weird dance moves for the last chorus?

I get it now! The basket was a time capsule for a certain memory each girl had!

That's a nice group shot to end the PV!

And that's an even nicer title drop!

Well, it's looks like they dumped whoever directed the Electric Boy PV since the Bye Bye Happy Days PV actually looks expensive! Well, as expensive as an idol PV's going to get... Still, I like the look of this PV a lot! Visually it's very bright and happy; it fits perfectly with the spring season! I've always been a big fan of the use of fake sets and while it is pretty obvious that the sets used in this PV are sets I'm glad that there's a lot of embellishments and decorations added to them! I think the variety gives the PV a certain level of... charm! I also think that the PV for Bye Bye Happy Days finally gives me a better idea of what the song was about and what the PV was trying to convey. The first time around when I watched this PV, I wasn't really expecting much of a storyline since the other Kara PVs I'd watched had none so when this PV did have a pretty obvious one, it kind of caught me off guard. Hence the first time I watched this PV, I wasn't really paying as much attention to detail as I did when I was screencapping and watching the video again. Hell, I didn't even notice that the guy used in the PV was the same guy in each scene!

Speaking of him, let's talk about Mr. Generic Guy; after all, he does play a prominent role in the plot of the PV. What stands out the most about each scene in the PV (outside of the dance shot and some of the close-ups) is that this same guy is being used. Now it could be just because the producers are lazy and didn't want to hire four different guys but I feel like there's a reason that the same guy was used. I just can't really put my finger on what. At first I thought hey, the girls of Kara just all had a crush on him! But the more I looked at the PV, the more it didn't really fit. The girls spend much of the PV encouraging (or in Gyuri's case forcing) each other to go for this one guy and do stuff together ranging from saying hi to him, dancing with him, giving him a card, and posing for a picture with him. Is he their good friend? Some guy they just like messing around with? A crush that they're all willing to share between the five of them? Well, knowing the bullshit teenage girls get into over guys, I doubt it's the last one. Like I said, I was little unclear about this guy's role during this entire PV.

The other big plot element of the PV is the box and luckily, I was able to pick up what it was upon my second viewing of Bye Bye Happy Days. It's very clearly meant to be a time capsule. At the beginning of the PV, we see the girls returning to an area of what's presumably a town (and probably a small town). In this box they open, there's one certain object that belongs to each girl of Kara and represents a memory to them involving this guy. Well... except for Seungyeon. Her object is just a headband she got for her surprise birthday! I actually really liked that scene and thought it was well done with the use of the classroom and the build-up to the scene of Seungyon's birthday celebration! Though I'm a little unsure about what the hell she was doing crammed up in a locker... Anyways! The PV cuts back to a flashback of a scene where the girls are all hanging out with each other and doing some sort of activity together (with the guy, of course). You can tell that they're all good friends and that they've been through a lot together, enough to make a little time capsule.

So I think the PV is mainly about nostalgia and good memories you have between friends. Knowing that I think I'm finally able to figure out the meaning of Bye Bye Happy Days. I don't think the song is supposed to be about a sad farewell to a happier time in life but a joyful look back on a fond memory! The PV pretty much revolves around coming back to happy times and memories and also moving towards a happy future. It's a simple theme that's not common in the spring (especially with all them Sakura songs) but it's a theme that I personally never get tired of, especially when it's done with a happy approach. Why else do you think I enjoy 10nen Zakura so much? The storyline of Kara's Bye Bye Happy Days is fairly simple but genuinely sweet and the girls look lovely as always on screen. I've always noticed that they're really good at interacting with each other and just being on camera. I don't know if they're trained to do that or what but it looks very nice! The outfits are cute the imagery of the PV is bright and cheerful, much like the story of the PV! Even though Bye Bye Happy Days isn't my favorite Kara song, the PV is what I think really brings it to life!

Overall, I'll give Bye Bye Happy Days four out of five apples! The song is enjoyable, albeit nothing too special, and is in the genre of energetic and happy music that Kara works so well with when it comes to their J-pop singles. The PV is just as cute as the song and provides a variety of different visuals that all look fantastic! If you're fan of Kara's Japanese music, I think you'll like Bye Bye Happy Days even if it doesn't offer anything new for the group!


  1. My two besties and I absolutely love this PV of Kara and we're actually planning to make our own version of Bye Bye Happy Days! ^o^ We super duper love Kara, especially Gyuri, Seungyeon and Hara~

    1. That sounds like so much fun! Good luck with making the PV!