K-Pop Throwback: Why 4Minute’s 'Dream Racer' Stands The Test Of Time [VIDEO]

By Carl Hamm | February 18, 2014 03:05 PM EST

As soon as I heard it, 4minute's "Dream Racer" jumped out as a track I would want to include in my DJ sets, something to give the party a shot of adrenaline.

The music for "Dream Racer" was written and produced by notorious party animals The Koxx - who've been pushing the boundaries in the Korean pop music scene since their debut EP "Enter" was released in 2010.

Their edgy production style gives this track an explosive sound that is even more impressive when played LOUD - which is appropriate, since "Dream Racer" is the next to last track on 4minute's 2012 release "Volume Up".

4Minute, a five-member girl group formed in 2009 by Cube Entertainment and promoted internationally by Universal Music have made a name for themselves by always being a bit more risquée than the other groups. From their first single "Hot Issue", their sound was full of glitchy electronic bounce and sexy hip-hop swagger.

Member HyunA outraged the censors and thrilled K-pop fans with her controversial "Bubble Pop" solo track and video, and each 4Minute album that is released seems to push this 'naughty, bad girl theme" even further.

Sure, I like HyunA as a solo artist. How is a guy supposed to resist the seductive Bubble Pop?

But I think her project with Beast's Hyeunseng "Troublemaker" really brought her into a new more respectable/sophisticated phase of her career. It's clear that she stands out as a leader in this group 4Minute, but perhaps it's time some of the others get a little more attention too? I really loved 2Yoon's bluegrass inspired 24/7. 

Teaming up with a bunch of bad boys like The Koxx makes perfect sense for 4minute.

If you're not familiar with them, the music The Koxx make is a combination of quirky electronic dance beats and loud rock and roll elements. Known as much for their mischievous antics as for their music -- they describe themselves as an "electronic garage rock band" -- which boils down to loud guitars tweaked & chopped over funky, scrambled beats.

It's music that's made for the dance floor but still carries the raw energy and instrumentation of a rock band - in a similar tradition to Gorillaz or Hot Chip or MGMT.

'Dream Racer' starts with a beat that sounds like a stomping stadium crowd - accented by squeaky electronic chirps ... meanwhile, the lyrics mention "cheers of the crowd bursting like a firecrackers". Droning sounds like car engines revving in the background build the momentum even higher. Then overdriven guitars are thrown into the mix while the five members sing in unison. "D, D, D, Do it now... it's time, 4minute."

A gun is cocked and fired - signaling the beginning of "the race" and the song takes off from here with a quick aggressive overdriven bass line and a quick-stepping rhythm that reminds me of Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

The only negative thing I can find about this song is that I am personally not a fan of gunshot sound effects. The concept works as a starting gun early in the song, but I don't like the shots fired at the end as they always carry a negative connotation in my mind.

The lyrics, also written by The Koxx, basically boil down to this message:  This ain't the time to be cautious... this is the time to be confident. So, get real, because all the pretenders will be left in the dust.  (I'm doing my best to paraphrase.)

4minute carries this attitude well in their vocal delivery and, when they perform this song live, with their bold, bossy dance moves. Onstage performing this song, they look confident and natural.. not like they're forcing it with a bunch of generic hip hop stances like so many groups do.. 4minute are really great performers.

There are hints of marching band drums here and there in the mix... further painting the image of a sporting event or race. A countdown is heard, then the music pauses for a split second... when the chorus comes in, it brings the energy up even higher as members of the group sing (translated to English): "open your heart, I'm a dream maker who knows no limits. Let's dream together, never stop running."

Funky slap bass notes jump out of nowhere, in the midst of a barrage of electric guitar power chords.

As the lyrics progress, you get the idea that the point of the song is really talking about a romantic couple building their dreams together and bringing inspiration and courage to eachother.

"Dream Racer" is a rocking track with so much energy and confidence. "Volume up", "Femme Fatale", "Get on the Floor", and "Dream Racer" are all great tracks on 4minute's 2012 Mini-album, "Volume Up", which is a true party album from beginning to end. But "Dream Racer", thanks to The Koxx, stands out as one of the most fun and daring ones of all.

 

Carl Hamm is a DJ, radio host, film maker and self-described "culture pusher". "Pop Yeh Yeh," Hamm's compilation of 1960s psychedelic rock from Singapore and Malaysia, is being re-issued on vinyl in April, as part of Record Store Day.

Tagged :  4minute

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