Total Score: 9.43
Sound Quality: 8
Singing Quality: 8
Contextual Fit: 5
Release Date: 03/09/2009
Sorry sorry sorry sorry
Naega naega naega meonjeo
Nege nege nege bbajyeo
Bbajyeo bbajyeo beoryeo baby
And here it is: the biggest song Super Junior ever had. Many, many other kpop groups have covered this. It has famous hooks. It has a famous dance. It sold ten bajillion copies. If you are a non-kpop fan who has heard of Super Junior, it was probably this song. Allegedly, if you know a kpop song other than “Gangnam Style,” it’s probably this song. (I think that may have been more true a few years back than now, but still.) No, it is not all downhill from here.
This is the song and album where Super Junior moved into heavily-autotuned electropop, and they stayed there for years; the autotune wore off after the fourth album, but they were still doing what I’d consider to be electropop singles all the way up through their sixth.
Bucking the trend from the previous few singles, this one returns to only half the group singing. Part of this has to do with Kibum and Heechul more or less being gone here; Kibum is in the video (but not dancing) and stated shortly after this was released that he was going on indefinite hiatus from the group to pursue his acting career. Heechul almost did the same thing — he was frustrated with SJ taking away time from his acting/TV career and felt like he wasn’t a good enough singer, dancer or leader to continue bothering with it — but was apparently persuaded to stay when he showed up for dance practice drunk and Eunhyuk said they’d left a spot for him in the routine. He gets one line and a corresponding dance move, and he also gets to do the gesture at the very end of the video because he’s the prettiest. And actually, in the dance version of the video, he shows up at his line (about 2/3 of the way through) and does participate in the remainder of the dance from that point.
“Sorry, Sorry” is essentially a song apologizing to a girl for being deliriously obsessed with her. It is relentless: line, after line, after line. Outside of the “let’s DANCE. dance. dance. dance” break there is virtually no gap in singing at any point, and even THAT still has the “diggy diggy OH” stuff in it. Ryeowook and Sungmin are matched together here because I think SM decided they had similar voices, which they do when heavily processed like this, though Sungmin’s doing that forced pinched thing that I was complaining about in my review of “For Tomorrow.” Kyuhyun gets the “SorryyyyYyYyYyYyYyYYYYYY… ha ha ha” at the end; he doesn’t even mime the “haha” in the video and in other performances has implied he hates that part. (Also in performances, he goes up to a B♭4 instead of down to a G2, BOO.) That “sorry” is the ONLY significant piece of vocal acrobatics in the entire song; Kyuhyun and Yesung trade off some “ohs” and “babys” during the post-dance bridge, but it’s not much. Which is sort of a relief, honestly.
All right, you know what? I have listened to this three times in a row now, trying to find things to say about it that are not about the video, and I’m out of luck. I can’t find anything to be specific about. This song is a goddamn jam. It is catchy, it is super-danceable, nobody sounds bad in it (or all that much like themselves to be fair), it has hooks left right and center, it’s got a great video with great choreography… is it any wonder really that this was such a huge hit? “Sorry, Sorry” annoyed me when I first heard it, because it sounded dated in comparison to what they were doing when I started listening to SJ (especially the heavy autotune), but now? Hearing it in chronological order, after “Don’t Don” and “Marry U” and “Me”? It’s explosive.
So let’s talk about the video. Kibum and an anonymous woman start off the video being ambiguously kinky, with blindfolds and silk stockings and broken pearl necklaces. The entire video is in black and white, and for once, nobody has bad hair. There’s a few shots where Siwon has his hair combed forward, which is not great, but it’s styled up in the rest of the video and looks hot. Nobody’s blonde. Nobody’s even light brown. Everyone’s in suit jackets and/or ties. The choreography makes great use of having 11-12 dudes dancing at once, because instead of “everybody doing the same thing and swapping out who’s in front”, or “four dudes dance in the front and everyone else just kneels in the back doing nothing”, we get them splitting into groups of 3 and the positioning feels a lot more organic, even the parts where someone has to walk around to the back of the group. There is almost no point in which anyone is just standing stock still. Leeteuk is visibly breathing hard at the very end (and yet this isn’t the routine they would call their most physically exhausting!). Donghae has a great solo dance at the start of the 2nd verse, which is mostly cut out in the main MV and badly cropped in the dance version but you can still see it a bit. Kyuhyun is… concerningly skinny in all the videos made for this album, and I am not really sure what was up with that? On the one hand I kind of like the sternumy look on him but on the other hand EAT SOMETHING. Anyway, nobody looks bad at any point in this video. Open up the video and skip around and pause it. Hot, hot, hot, hot.