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Best Song On The Worst Album Award 2011: KARA’s “Only For You”

Man, Super Girl really did end up being the worst-case scenario for KARA. Whether because they wanted to spike sales even more or just because they have absolutely no idea how to embrace something that doesn’t sound like the year 1993, the J-Pop powers-that-be pigeonholed one of Korea’s hottest exports into the bland box of a “typical J-Pop album.” Bunch of sappy ballads that’s basically audio Nyquil? Check. Songs you would only expect to hear in an Akihabara arcade, full of people too focused on trying to win Hatsune Miku pillows to care? Check. Stuff that might as well have been written for Koda Kumi? Check check check. It’s a train wreck of an album, one consumers naturally lapped up, making it a record breaker. Congrats old label dudes, you win again.

Yeah sitting smack-dab in the middle of this otherwise recycle-bin worthy album is “Only For You,” a legitimate jam and maybe the best KARA song I’ve ever heard. The greatness of “Only For You” originates from its influences – it borrows heavily from the sort of woman-helmed R&B that saw a boom somewhere between the peak popularity of disco and New Jack, unafraid to knick elements from both genres. That style saw a bit of a resurgence in 2011, highlighted by Toro Y Moi’s cover of Cherrelle’s “Saturday Love,” but “Only For You” might be the best homage of all. The drums hit in the same Reagan-era way Capsule is always trying to get, while the vocals skip over them stylishly, leading up to the surprisingly sexy chorus. The producers of this track even skipped KARA’s vocals up at points, a trick you see in Cherrelle tracks and other artists from that time. Most importantly, unlike anything else on Super Girl, “Only For You” is fun, a dance-pop song one might actually want to dance to. That song – along with Korean single “Steppin’” – show that Super Girl might just be a bump in the road, but even a pothole can have a quarter resting at the bottom of it.