Debuting as a talented female soloist with stunning vocal ability with the powerful "I'll Back Off So You Can Live Better", G.NA found herself losing her original musical direction as time went on. With the release of "Top Girl, her music started lacking more and more substance. It seemed that after just a short time, the beautiful and talented girl was being manufactured by Cube Entertainment into something she wasn't, some pop princess. After taking a break from her music career, G.NA is back with her EP "Bloom".
How does "Bloom" fare? Does it return her to her roots or propel her further in the direction of creative control doom? Oddly enough, it does both. Of the 6 tracks on the album, some show the manufactured pop princess G.NA, and some show the soulful G.NA we first got to know.
The album opens with "Green Light", featuring Jay Park. It's obvious club feel makes it too intense and busy. Put humorously, it's like how a dance club would like if if you were high on some heavy drugs. It's still a very upbeat and fun dance track, but there's so much going on in its musical production it feels like a musical seizure.
"2Hot", the album's lead single, marks G.NA's worst single and lowest point yet. It's like a blown up version of "Top Girl", only instead of being girly and a wee bit full of itself, "2Hot" comes off as plain conceited. Do I mind if G.NA does upbeat and playful songs? Of course not, "Black & White" is one of my favorite songs of hers. However, "2Hot" has absolutely no substance and sounds vain. The music video is laughably bad. It looks like she escaped into Barbie's dream land. And firefighters coming in with axes, really? The song and MV shows no class. Instead of being sexy and mature, the song, along with the dance routine, is raunchy, tasteless, and ridiculous. G.NA herself is not tacky or cheap, but everything about this single is.
After the not so hot mess of "2Hot" comes "Summer Star", which is the redeeming and best track of the album. It is a mellow and soothing song that fully showcases G.NA's beautiful and soulful voice and range. This is the first time in a while she has gotten to do that. I love the gentle acoustic guitar strings that open and close the song, and everything flows quite well.
"Oppa Dasseng", featuring Sangchu, opens on a cheesy note with a phone conversation, but isn't bad. The beat is nice and blends well with the piano in the background. It's not a great song, but still cute and sweet. It boosts a carefree and airy atmosphere that is easy on the ears. Her voice here is very sweet and thoughtful sounding.
"Drop It (Cut It Off)" is another strong track on the album. With a heavy R&B beat and influence, it shows G.NA's soulful vocals in a lighter and more gentle way. It shows emotion with a more laid back feel.
"Bloom" closes with the English version of the powerhouse song "I'll Back Off So You Can Live Better". The English lyrics flow well with minimal awkwardness and instances of loss in translation, making it one of the better, if not the best, English remakes. Although it's odd how the English lyrics flow into the original Korean rap, I'm glad they left that part untouched to avoid a potential and likely disaster of a translation.
Overall, G.NA's album "Bloom" has contrasting styles: the original soulful songstress and the manufactured pop princess. It's content resides at opposite ends, as it includes some of her best work yet, as well as her worst. Although its lead single is disastrous, it's the only song here that's actually bad. "Bloom" is still worth a listen. If you can get past the fun but slightly headache inducing "Green Light" and the dreadful "2Hot", you will see that the G.NA we know and love is still there. However, if it's one thing "Bloom" fails to do, it's prove how she's "blossomed" into a grown woman as a musician. And for an album with such a title, shouldn't that be its purpose?
Recommended Tracks: "Summer Star", "Drop It (Cut It Off)", "I'll Back Off So You Can Live Better" (English Version)
Rating: 3.5 Stars