Beast Sides: LE SSERAFIM – The Great Mermaid

While I predominantly cover singles on here, I’ve always been an avid consumer of albums. More often than not, this results in some songs that I adore but others that I detest. As a remedy to this issue, we have Beast Sides! These songs put the Beast in B-side and are either stronger than their accompanying title track or songs that are just too solid to leave out.

LE SSERAFIM’s debut single Fearless is a song that’s proven to be much more divisive than expected. It’s rather one note approach has both its fans and critics, with detractors considering the track too bland and unassuming to work as a debut and supporters praising it for its simplicity and effortlessly cool vibe. As usual, I fall somewhere in the middle. I really enjoyed the tracks production but did agree that it lacked the kind of knockout moment that should theoretically characterise such a momentous debut. A few days on, I think I would probably dock 0.25 from my original score. And that’s more so to do with the strength of the accompanying mini album than the song itself. ‘Fearless’ is a very strong debut EP, covering a lot of musical ground whilst still establishing an identifiable sound and concept for the girls. The light, funky bounce of Blue Flame seems to be the fan favourite and the trance beat that underlines The World is My Oyster is absolutely riveting. But personally, I am absolutely blown away by the gritty, industrial drive of The Great Mermaid.

To my ears, this is literally just an SM song, more specifically, a SHINee song. And for those who know how I feel about SHINee’s discography, it should be no surprise that i adore The Great Mermaid. It’s dripping with so much character from its opening moments that it feels like a true culmination of all the potential I saw and raved about in my review of debut track Fearless. The bass and distorted electronica wonderland that acts as The Great Mermaid‘s backbone is DIRTY, hitting incredibly hard from the moment it first shows up to climactic echoed fadeout that concludes the track. The vocals are processed but in a way that manages to perfectly compliment the track. It gives the entire song a sense of unrivalled texture, bringing out individual vocal character whilst also devolving into vocal mush in ways that actually feel exciting. The first verse especially feels like it’s been ripped right out of SHINee’s playbook, working with an exciting bouncy melody and playful performance that maintains a girl crush vibe whilst not feeling overtly serious.

The chorus is similarly simple but great. Preceded by an airy, melodic segment that gives a moment respite before the explosive centrepiece, The Great Mermaid shows that it knows how to make use of dynamics. This segment is probably the most melodically inclined moment of the entire track, gradually devolving form pure, unfiltered vocals into a distorted soundscape before the full brunt of the chorus hits. And what a chorus it is. It’s incredibly funky, harnessing an immense layered vocal hook that works perfectly alongside the catchy post chorus that’s bound to get stuck in your head. In fact, it almost feels as though there’s too much going on. But for someone who believes wholeheartedly in the idea of over the top pop music, I can’t help but love this. I think it was a smart choice to go for Fearless as the lead single but boy would it have been ballsy and utterly incredible had they chosen to promote The Last Mermaid instead.

Verses: 9

Chorus: 9

Production: 10

Performance: 9

Final Rating9.25 / 10


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