[Review] TRAUMA – SF9

SF9 is nominated for Best Male Choreography (Group) for Tear Drop and Best Special Performance for their cover of Taemin’s Move in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support SF9 and your other favourite artists, songs and performances by clicking here to vote!

Kick starting this week is SF9, who returns with TRAUMA. This is featured on their tenth mini-album since debut, Rumination, which also dropped today. TRAUMA is the group’s first comeback in almost five months, following the likes of Tear Drop (their previous title track) and TURN OVER (the group’s ninth mini-album), which I really enjoyed. Let’s see how TRAUMA stacks up against Tear Drop and the rest of the competition out there.

I find TRAUMA to be on the pleasant side of the spectrum, but I feel that there is potential for the song to grow on me. TRAUMA falls into the all too familiar funky and groovy motif that is basically everywhere in KPOP at the moment. But what I liked about TRAUMA is how SF9 had taken the style and made it sensually refined. While it isn’t the most innovative or creative use of the funk and groove, it definitely allows SF9 to tap into their own skills and also complimented the rest of their discography/style. Personally, I am not sure where I stand with that brassy trumpet-like synth that is present during the chorus. It definitely acts as a nice filler in the background. But I am not sure if I really like its overall presence in this song and it feels almost whiny, which doesn’t reflect a good impression on me. I also thought the vocal work in TRAUMA was a bit neutral overall. I wished there was a bit of more energy and tone to it. The rapping was a lot more inviting and had more of the dynamic that I wanted to see. Zuho’s part stood out, as it referenced his iconic line from the Move cover earlier this year (‘the male version of Venus‘). That definitely really emphasises the sensual atmosphere that I had already pointed out. Also sticking out at me was the Chani and Hwiyoung exchange in the bridge. Youngbin also did a good job in the second verse. For TRAUMA‘s hooks, there was a decent ring and it caught on during the first listen. Overall, TRAUMA could have been more, but it definitely achieves its primary goal as a (pleasant) sensual dance track.

So, there seems to be a reason why Good Guy, Summer Breeze, Tear Drop and now TRAUMA had the same aesthetic. It turns out that this was a whole series of music videos. I somehow have no memory of the trailer for the series (which was released back at the start of 2020), or somehow missed it. According to the description on SOOMPI, TRAUMA is the ‘prequel to their “9lory” storyline and reveals the past stories of the nine members who were scattered in the real world’. I am not exactly sure how TRAUMA showcases these ‘past stories’ exactly as they already looked pretty scattered already, but I figure I would probably need to go through all the videos to formulate a full story (Music Video Theory post, maybe?). I, however, did notice similar elements to those past music videos in this music video, including the chessboard as in Good Guy; bar scenes as in Summer Breeze; and (I think) the rain and feather reminded me of Tear Drop (not too sure about this one). I also wonder the tunnel they walk through at the start is meant to be similar to their |Believer| stage from the final episode of Kingdom: Legendary War.

I like how they captured the sensual energy in the performance, and the passion the members exuded as well. I also liked the use of the chairs was really cool at the start, and how they were reintroduced at the end of the performance as a sort of climax within the choreography. It also added a bit of a refined touch to the video. The pounding head in the chorus also looked very cool and made sense given the English lyrics in the song.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

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