Written By: Michelle Doering
Originality: (4.5 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (5.0 / 5) Lyrics: (4.0 / 5) Production: (4.5 / 5) Average: (4.5 / 5)
A stunning blend of western and South Korean music stylings, Beautiful by f(x) breakout star, Amber Liu, is an absolute triumph.
This EP consists of five songs in English and Korean that each capture a different style of music and showcase a different facet of Amber’s immense personality. I feel like the biggest takeaway from this EP for people who only know Amber as the androgynous rapper from their favorite girl group, f(x), is that the girl has extraordinary pipes. She sings with so much emotion that even when I barely understand what she’s saying, it still brings a tear to my eyes.
Easily the best song is the breakout single, “Shake That Brass.” We all know I’m a fan of great puns, but aside from that, this song has so much going for it. It’s fun, loud, brassy, and upbeat; totally invocative of old school Missy Elliot, but with a more pop-y vibe. Not to mention, Amber’s flow is absolutely impeccable. This is the kind of song you show to people who don’t like K-pop to get them interested. Highly recommended.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have the title track, “Beautiful.” This song is, well, beautiful. It’s almost entirely in Korean, but the inflections and pure emotion with which Amber sings are more than enough to bring the message across. It’s an anthem about being yourself and recognizing your inner beauty no matter what anyone else says or thinks, and I think that is a message that easily transcends any language or culture barrier.
The final song I’d like to highlight is “I Just Wanna” featuring Eric Nam. This is the only song on the EP that is entirely in English and it just so happens to be a sweet and charming love ballad between two of my favorite K-pop stars, no big deal. Eric and Amber both have such smooth and laid back singing styles that really fit the tone of the song and blend perfectly with each other. This is a song I frequently find myself singing in the shower, rap breakdown and all.
Charming, authentic, and easily accessible for western audiences, Beautiful is a great place to start if you’ve never listened to K-pop before. Even if you’re not really into music in other languages I definitely recommend giving it a try. You might just be pleasantly surprised.