Post-Taewoon-era SPEED made their return May 30 with the MV for “What U.” Heading into the song, there were some concerns circling around SPEED’s dynamics and how they would be with Taewoon’s exit from the group. However, it seems a lot of the worries were eased because SPEED still has their dynamics intact and another excellent song in their repertoire.
SPEED are a rare group due to their consistency and stream of strong songs with each comeback. With their comebacks, they show more growth and better depth to their abilities: SPEED can be loveable goofballs, emotional sweeties, or swaggy fun-bearers.
Sadly, they are terribly underrated despite their strengths, so they seem to be the group that will always be under-the-radar, but this is due to underwhelming advertising, random and often-by-surprise comebacks (even though they usually appear in the first quarter), and lack of noise during non-promotion periods. In other words, they’re always the bridesmaid and never the bride.
Good music can only get a group so far if the other variables aren’t there to help them out. Taewoon, though, was the face of the group, and people noticed him; without him now, it’ll be interesting to see if the group will grow or be further buried into the land of under-the-radar hit makers or if they’ll become flat-out forgettable. This is the quandary “What U” faces.
Even though Taewoon’s absence is noticeable, the remaining SPEED members do a nice job with “What U.” They provide a good amount of emotion and flair to carry the song, and they do so with an awesome beat and equally amazing instrumentals to back them. At times, the higher notes do sound shaky, creating an imperfect quality. This imperfection doesn’t hinder the song, however, especially when paired with some of the scenes in the MV. The vocals, at times, blend too much to where there isn’t enough vocal distinction.
The rap portions deserve a compliment because they hold their own. For “What U,” even if Taewoon was still with the group, his rap shouldn’t have been the focus because the other two were perfect given the beat and tone. So for rap, SPEED will be A-Okay just based on this song only.
By far, the best of “What U” is the instrumentals. The sound is a bit different from other pop-heavy songs released this year which makes it more enjoyable and memorable. There are hints of some old-school rap beats that help with the memorability, and the way vocals match the beat perfectly just make the song.
Despite how good the song is, the MV is BLAND. SPEED MVs are usually pretty good with interesting dance concepts or a story. Since 2014, their MVs have become less interesting, so it’s not that much of a surprise this one is on the dull side. There isn’t much happening here: There’s a hinted at affair, random scenes of New York City, SPEED skating at a skate park, and random dance breaks. That’s it. It is one of those MVs where it seems the director wanted to be more artsy than cohesive. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, it didn’t work.
The scenes are messy, so it’s difficult to tell what is happening. From what is gathered from the scenes, one member was cheated on by the girl, and he discovers this after he comes home to see the alcohol and another man’s ring on the coffee table. In the meantime, his friends are all skating around willy-nilly having fun. Apparently, the girl may have cheated because SPEED are bums and do nothing but hang out at the skate park all day… not that this condones cheating. As it seems, too, the girl has a drinking problem given her distress, daytime sleeping, and often woozy-looking scenes of which she is featured. It seems these are two broken people involved in a doomed relationship where escapism is a thing and working on being better people and in a better relationship is not.
What’s funny about the cheating discovery is that the girl isn’t confronted. Instead, he gets all creepy and stalks her. This adds a weird element to the MV, and one that feels out of place. Perhaps it would feel right if the MV focused solely on this story, but with the skate park theme, it’s weird.
The skate park is weird in itself too given the song. However, SPEED did something cool and different by incorporating heelies into the dance. THIS made the dance! What’s a shame is that viewers don’t really get to see the full performance for “What U” without having to view the debut during the 2015 Dream Concert or during any of the music shows. It’s neat how they can dance– on skates– without falling on their faces. Hopefully there’s a dance practice video in our future.
“What U” is the first song SPEED has done post-Taewoon, and it’s a good song. There are some weak points with high notes and the MV has no flow or clarity. However, it works, and it’s proof that SPEED is underrated.as a group. It’ll be interesting to see where they go from here.