Total Score: 4.86
Sound Quality: 4
Singing Quality: 5 (it’s so damn processed I don’t even know how to score this)
Contextual Fit: 3
Release Date: 05/10/2010
“Bonamana” is the lead single on Super Junior’s fourth album, also called Bonamana, and is pretty obviously meant to be as much of a repeat as “Sorry, Sorry” as they could possibly wring out of it. It doesn’t hit the spot nearly as much.
I will freely admit that I am being unduly influenced by an outside group coming into this, and I swore I would only be comparing Super Junior vs themselves and never against other Kpop groups (because I know other groups are better at most of everything), but I recently learned that SHINee’s “Lucifer” came out in 2010 also and that blows “Bonamana” out of the water on all levels. Listen to them and watch them back to back and it’s not even a contest. I am going to try to ignore that.
Here’s how you can tell “Bonamana” was meant to duplicate “Sorry, Sorry”:
- Both of them are heavy on the autotune (one could say that’s just what SJ was doing in this era, but they never really did it outside of singles)
- Both of them have a dance that is intended to be memorable and memey (“Sorry, Sorry” with the hand washing or whatever you call that, “Bonamana” with speed skating)
- Both of them follow damn near the same order of voices: “Sorry, Sorry”‘s first verse is Siwon – Yesung – Kyuhyun – Yesung – Ryeowook/Sungmin. “Bonamana” is Siwon – Heechul – Kyuhyun – Yesung – Ryeowook/Sungmin. “Sorry, Sorry”‘s second verse is Donghae – Kangin – Ryeowook/Sungmin. “Bonamana”‘s second verse is Donghae – Kyuhyun/Yesung – Ryeowook/Sungmin. (Kangin was off in military time-out so not present on this album.) I mean, there is absolutely no good reason to copy it like that, other than uh, maybe somebody thought repeating the order would bring good juju to the song.
- Both songs feature a hook that repeats the same note over and over, but “Sorry, Sorry” has a riff underneath it of G – G – B♭ – B♭ C – C – D E♭ – E♭, whereas “Bonamana” has the synths just do the same thing the voices are doing so it’s a lot more boring and repetitive.
- Both videos are more or less black and white (“Bonamana” brings in some brown as well) with backgrounds doing a slow strobe effect.
Where “Bonamana” is different is that it has a big chunky drum pattern going through it (I mean, I like chunky drum patterns, but they need to be more resonant than this), and also they made the synths grittier and treble-ier. It makes the song just sound noisy and abrasive. Instead of the semi-smug “Sorry, I just can’t help being so obsessed with you” wink of “Sorry, Sorry,” “Bonamana” is desperately begging the girl to give him some attention before he goes insane, and features gratuitous, badly-placed English as well as an awful bridge.
I don’t normally care about Super Junior using English badly but there’s two particularly bad spots here: one is in the first verse when Kyuhyun sings “neon gatabuta gatabuta mal jom haera miina, ni maeumeul gajyeotdamyeon geunyang naneun salmui wee-naa” (that is supposed to be “winner”, as in “if I had you I’d be life’s winner”), and in the bridge when Ryeowook sings “True, true, nae gamjeongeun gal gosi eobseo” (“True, true, my feelings have no place to go.”) The “true, true” isn’t musically written as “Yup, you’re right;” it’s written as desperate pleading, which makes it nonsensical. Some lyric sites stick an “(It’s)” before the “True, true”, as if to make it make more sense, but Ryeowook never actually says that so it doesn’t count and it wouldn’t help anyway.
Speaking of the bridge. The bridge starts off with Leeteuk, Heechul, Eunhyuk and Siwon trading lines, all of which are so heavily processed that I can barely tell them apart aside from Eunhyuk, and all of whom have very nasal-sounding “ee” vowels. Ryeowook and Kyuhyun come in with more gratuitous English, and then the stupid part. It’s not even well written musically. It’s just, UGHHHH:
Yesung: Gidarinda, miina!
Leeteuk/Shindong/Donghae: Hope you’ll step to me, step to me
Yesung: Saranghanda, miina!
Leeteuk/Shindong/Donghae: Bring it, sign to me, sign to me
All: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
Ryeowook/Kyuhyun: Geunyeoga imi nal barabol junbiga dwae isseona bwa
The ha ha ha is bad. It’s so bad. I have no idea why it’s there. Nobody even lip syncs it in the video. LET ME POINT OUT THAT “SORRY SORRY” ALSO HAS AN EMBARRASSING HA HA IN IT BUT MUCH LESS OF IT. And Ryeowook/Kyuhyun’s last line basically attempts to turn this song into “Pretty Woman” because it translates to “I guess she was about to look at me after all”. (By the way, “Pretty Woman” has one of the best uses of motif in pop music of all time. OF ALL TIME. That last uh, bridge or whatever it is, starting at 2:05, is perfect.)
The video. Apparently, according to behind the scenes stuff, this is the most exhausting dance routine Super Junior has. I believe it; it’s lots of crouching and jumping and moving your arms stiffly. Everybody gets the opportunity to look at the camera in a sultry fashion and stand perfectly still in front of a concrete wall while a light swings back and forth over their heads. Kyuhyun’s bangs are cut too short and Leeteuk doesn’t wear a shirt under his jacket because he’s getting self-conscious about his age. The cameras are placed in such a way that it makes everybody look like they’re having trouble staying in formation with all the jumping around (or maybe they really are, who knows). Heechul participates in the entire dance this time though, and Kyuhyun gets to be a featured dancer, along with the usual crew of Shindong, Eunhyuk and Donghae, so that’s something. This is just… one of the least charismatic singles and videos Super Junior has.