Total Score 5.71
Sound Quality: 6
Singing Quality: 5
Contextual Fit: 5
Release Date: 11/08/2005
Super Junior debuted in 2005 with “Twins (Knock Out)”, a more or less direct cover of “Knockout” by British two-hit wonder Triple 8. The primary difference is in lyrics: whereas Triple 8’s version is, uh, threatening to beat up their girl because they think she’s cheating (this was #8 in the UK?), Super Junior’s is more literally schizophrenic, the boys threatening to beat up the side of themselves that wants to give up on their girl or on their dreams. Having eleven guys (Shindong doesn’t feature on this) instead of five makes that actually work pretty well, since they have to change singers so often that they end up lyrically arguing with each other. The Super Junior cover also adds a hint more syncopation on the opening guitar riff, and if you hear that enough times, Triple 8’s original sounds laggy in comparison.
I’m not an expert on the history of Korean pop, so you’re not going to see any statements from me like, “The fieriness of their debut single was a much-needed jolt to the K-pop market.” But purely as a debut “hey here we are” sort of song, this works very well; it sets up the rock side of SJ that would continue in “Don’t Don” and several live remixes of other songs, it doesn’t give anyone anything too musically complicated to do, and there’s literal goddamn flames in the music video.
Not to mention, there’re components here that became standard for Super Junior singles later, and it’s neat to see the beginnings of these things: Siwon gets the first lines, Shindong gets nothing to do (seriously, not a single line?), and Yesung gets the bulk of the adlibbing toward the end. Things that did NOT become a trend: Donghae rapping, Ryeowook getting one sad little connecting line. Then again, he was only 18 at the time. Maybe 17 when this was recorded? Dude’s just not angry enough for rap-rock, I guess.
“Anya geugeon aniya” is probably my favorite-performed Leeteuk line in any song (that I am aware of at this early stage of the game), and that may actually be because that brightly nasal “a” sound is more clearly him than many of his other parts. Likelihood of auto-tuning and/or lip-syncing in concert aside, Leeteuk tends to sound more awkward and out of pitch the longer he has to solo, but this one is short enough that he nails it every time.
But aside from Leeteuk (and later Sungmin and Yesung) getting that particular melody, the real feature here is rapping, and the rapping is not that great because (I think) Yoo Youngjin set up the Korean lyrics to match the original white-boy rapping. There’re some interesting harmonies floating around but the words are so rapid-fire and the harmonies (as usual) mixed low enough that they almost may as well not be there. Said harmonies can be attributed, per the liner notes, to Sungmin and Ryeowook (ok), as well as Kangin, Hangeng, and Heechul (not that any of them are awful, but huh?). I was sort of bemused to discover that “You know I wanna out the light” is a line from the original song – I was originally attributing the missing “put” to poor English skills. Otherwise, it’s difficult to comment much on the musicality of this as it relates to Super Junior, since this cover hews so closely to the original. “Kkeutkaji ssawo nan reason is I’m alive” is pretty fun to sing, though.
The music video itself is very dated – lots of greenscreening, strange multicolored baggy pants, and everyone gets spiky bishonen hair EXCEPT for Heechul, who seems to have been attacked by a curling iron and came out resembling Serah Farron. This is also before his injury, and before the period when he sang with his mouth mostly closed, so you get to see him looking surprisingly involved with dancing and rapping, and a nifty set of crazy eyes (see right). Everybody looks like young little babies, and Siwon seems to be wearing my 1998 makeup kit in that header image up there. What it does absolutely right, though, is have virtually no stable camera image throughout the whole video: if you rename your song “Twins” and make it about destroying an evil (or at least not helpful) side of yourself, may as well make the video unstable too.
Coming up tomorrow – we move into the “Twins” b-sides!