Despite her essentially being one of K-pop’s all time great figures, I’ve never had much of a thing for HyunA’s own musical output. Her work with 4minute resulted in some stunning tracks but her singles usually fell short. I adore her as a performer and her more vocal driven tracks are a real treat but that impish, bratty tone is one that I’ve yet to fully connect with. And that’s probably why despite having a rather exciting instrumental, I’m Not Cool doesn’t do it for me.
At its heart, I can’t fault I’m Not Cool for what it does. The song is HyunA doing what HyunA does best and for fans of her, this must be something really special. It harnesses the kind of addictive, gritty instrumental bounce that she’s experimented with before and I can appreciate that. The heavy percussive instrumental with slight EDM influences are a perfect throwback to the sound popularised by many a girl group in the early 2010’s and fit HyunA very well. The verses play around with some interesting textures and while her tone still doesn’t work for me, I can appreciate it in the context of high octane tracks like this. And her sassy, magnetic performance here really does sell the more underwhelming aspects of the track.
Of which there are a few.
The main issue I find with I’m Not Cool is the lack of a strong central refrain. One word hooks can work given a perfect arrangement but the one here just feels too generic and lifeless to work. It’s memorable for sure but it doesn’t amount to the most satisfying of listens. The central instrumental loop also feels a little undercooked, reaching a nice level of “loudness” but failing to really deliver on an engaging, melodic level. Given another artist I doubt I would even bat an eye at a track like this but even through its rather generic leanings, I’m Not Cool is a fine addition to HyunA’s discography. Though I don’t think it will be as fondly remembered as tracks like Bubble Pop or Red.
Final Rating: 7.25 / 10