GFRIEND - Summer Rain
GFRIEND just released their last song "Love Whisper" barely a month ago, but the girls are back already. "Summer Rain" is the title track for their repackaged album, Rainbow. The six-member group is no stranger to the spotlight, having achieved massive success with both "Me Gustas Tu" and "Rough." I've been a fan of theirs since "Me Gustas Tu," and I'll admit that I was not very excited about this comeback. From the teasers, it sounded way too similar to "Love Whisper" which I already was not the biggest fan of. Still, I went in hoping to have my mind changed.
"Summer Rain" opens up with the sampling of an old classical piano before a drumbeat that sounds like it's coming right out of the 90's kicks in. Water drops are used to signal the start of the first verse while a soft piano and deep synth bass fill in the background space. The sound remains like this up until the pre-chorus which is headed by a record scratch effect before a faint guitar and a slight shift of the other instruments. The chorus continues the already present choices and adds a violin familiar to previous GFRIEND songs. The sampling is placed at the start of the verses as well as the the bridge and the end of the song, leaving it as a centerpiece that adjoins everything cohesively.
There's so much irony that this song presents, I honestly don't know where to start. It's certainly not a secret that GFRIEND has already often been criticized as putting out songs that sound too similar to one another. So for the company to actually go so far as to use a chorus that is practically the definition of indistinguishable from a track that they had just released a little over a month ago.. I would say that it feels cheap and really just provides evidence to those accusations. Additionally, the song uses a sample from an old classical piece, and somehow manages to alter it enough that the sample actually sounds quite a bit different than it's original. The fact that the sampling was something that was shaped to sound different while the chorus of the song wasn't is baffling at best.
I also do want to address an argument that I've been seeing posted in several places, and that is that "Summer Rain" is supposed to sound similar to "Love Whisper" because it's the concept of Parallel. That's fine and dandy to view it as a concept, but does not excuse the fact that the chorus is almost an exact mirror. It does not change the truth of the critiques that the songs sound similar, and in fact it actually admits to it. That doesn't mean the song is terrible, it means that it sounds like it's already been done before. You can say that it's done on purpose, but that doesn't mean people will suddenly view it as a new, different song.
I'll refrain from saying too many negative things because it's moreso my disappoint in it rather than me thinking the song is bad. It's not bad, it's just something that we've already heard from them before. Almost literally. I want to see GFRIEND growing and pushing their boundaries, not rehashing what we've seen them doing for their entire first year where they accrued criticism for it already. There's still the positives that the song has, such as Yuju's powerful vocals shining brightly, or the distinctive soft yet powerful feel that is characteristic of GFRIEND. The sampled piano does bring a beautiful, graceful sound in combination with everything else, and I think that it's used well.
The video opens up with a gorgeous shot of Eunha standing under an umbrella with rain falling overhead. There's a snappy switch into what looks to be an empty warehouse, with all six girls gracefully dancing to the music before we cut to several scenes of the girls in or near the downpour. A majority of the video is devoted to these sorts of shots, with the girls all looking sorrowfully into the rain. There's shots that give the viewer the idea that each of them are waiting on somebody, though they never seem to show up. Instead, the girls are all left waiting in the rain.
The filmography is gorgeous, and this whole video is a visual feast. From a simplistic standpoint, which is how I took it in, it seems as though the girls are all stood up (except for Eunha who may have actually been cheated on) and the rain is supposed to start after. At first I thought it may have been symbolic of loneliness, but toward the end of the video, the girls are seen happily looking into the rain and they even let it fill an upside down umbrella up where they place a paper boat afterward. After those scenes, I still think that the rain is supposed to represent a sort of sadness, but more along the lines of after that sadness has filled you up and you learn to overcome it. I'm probably wrong as usual, but that's the message I got from the video.
GFRIEND were my number one pick for rookies to look out for just a little under two years ago, so I'm probably being harder on them than I might be for another group. Still, I feel like GFRIEND's talent is simply not being showcased because they're consistently putting out incredibly similar songs and concepts. "Fingertip" was about as far as they strayed and when that didn't go as well as they'd hoped, Source Music immediately fell back onto familiar stylistic choices that they felt were the safer bet. It's disappointing as a fan of the group, and I really feel like this song doesn't help to diversify their audience at all. The video and the girls looked fantastic, but I just can't find myself enjoying the song much. Regardless, if you haven't checked out "Rainbow," the other track from the repackage, give that one a shot. It's definitely worth the listen!