When I first heard Oh! I thought it was a fail, but then again the first time I heard it the song was in LQ. When I heard it in HQ it was only a straight pass (pasang-awa in Filipino) but then it grew on me the more I listened to it. There are quite a number of issues (good and possibly bad) that accompany the sound of this song.
Is the autotune generation FINALLY moving on?
And by 'autotune generation' I mean both the bands who've excessively used processing in their material AND SNSD/Girls' Generation. This applies only in Korea.
Yeah sure some of the first releases of 2010 have been laden with processing and autotune and bells and whistles all around BUT, you do realize that change anywhere comes from the top. One of the first big, established bands to release new material this year is SNSD - apart from them all the new releases have been by new, rookie bands who either don't have enough label/talent company backing to actually make a decent, original song or are just following the trends, hoping to cash in on the success of bigger bands who've successfully marketed the specific sound.
SNSD, I believe, are at the stage in their career where they can choose to do anything they want and their millions/thousands of fans would stand by them. They've had their 'adhering to trends to get famous' singles and SM has made a sufficient amount of money out of their image to be able to now set new trends.
Gee was cutesy, Genie was well-produced and slightly cutesy - what's Oh!? That may take some time to explain.
Oh! does NOT use the type of processing that was so so very popular in 2009 - THANK HEAVENS FOR THAT. The verses seriously sound like something deliberately aimed at the CHINESE MARKET (ala SuJu M's Confession or Only U) but then the chorus/hook sounds like something straight out of a Swedish production house like Maratone or one of Steve Mac's masterpieces if it was the late 90's. By that I mean the vocals during the chorus aren't mixed like they are today where it's monotonous and there is one distinct voice on top - the vocals on this track are mixed in such a way that they actually sound like 9 girls singing at the same time. OK maybe less but you get the point.
Oh! I think will set the standard for girl groups this year for a few reasons. SNSD are superstars in their own right - two massive hits last year are enough to immortalize them in Kpop so whatever they do this year will set the standard. The second reason is slightly more musical - they'll set the standard because now that they have the power to influence, either they themselves or SM and his slave songwriter Yoo Young Jin are planning to cause a slow but sure shift in the over-all sound of Kpop.
It only took a short time to get everyone hooked on autotune and processing, it'll probably take a similar amount of time to get everyone out of it. Personally I like where they're moving towards - the circa Play/Swedish bubblegum pop-type production. I like it because the well-done part of Swedish music is my taste but it's a bit bad for the industry because they're moving backwards not forward.
However I do think that anywhere is fine, as long as it's away from processing.
EDIT: There are now claims going around that Oh! is a rip-off of Rihanna's Shut Up and Drive. Look. Unless the song has the exact same chords and melody as Shut Up and Drive, you can't call that plagiarism anymore. Why? Because pop music today sounds so similar that if something sounds like something else and that's what constitutes plagiarism, then I could say that Chris Brown is an Usher rip-off or Jada's American Cowboy is a Poker Face copy. There is very little originality in pop today so UNLESS the melody and the chords of the song are the exactly same, that isn't plagiarism - anymore. I'm not biased towards SNSD, I'm just stating something that I think is right. If this was any other act I would've done the same because people fail to realize that these days, every single song sounds the same.