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Chungha’s SPARKLING is a refreshing contender for Song of the Summer

by Toyosi Begbaaji

With over a year since her first full album Querencia, Chungha returned with her second full album, Bare&Rare, Pt. 1 on July 11th, 2022. This album marked a noticeable shift in Chungha’s career, as she contributed lyrics to every song on the album.


But today, I’ll only be talking about the title track, Sparkling.

The Sparkling music video thumbnail - (Image credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDV5cM9YE4g)


Though Sparkling fits right in with other top songs of today — namely from its driving 80s synth chords and powerful drums strung throughout the song — it is noticeably different from Chungha’s past title tracks. In songs like Gotta Go, Snapping and Bicycle, Chungha is commanding and confident in her words and delivery. Sparkling, in comparison, coyly entices the listener to “come and talk to me, baby / point to anything and tell me.” During the chorus, Chungha quite proudly cries, “Baby, you’re all mine mine / So, you make me sparkle / Oh, I’ll be your sparkle.” It’s a song about love, but the zinging electrified kind—the kind that makes you feel stinging, dizzy, but refreshed. There is a kind of ‘soda pop’ quality to Sparkling, made literal by the can opening sound effect strategically placed to punctuate the ends of certain lines. In fact, I feel tempted to dub Sparkling as the formative example of “Soda Pop,” a(n unofficial) genre of music that makes use of bright instrumentals, synths and live instruments while capturing the feeling of sipping a drink in the summer sun (another example could be Up! by Kep1er).


Keeping in line with the album’s title, I think Sparkling is also surprisingly vulnerable, a take on love that is fresh and unique. Since Killing Me, a special single releasedin between Querencia and Bare&Rare, Pt.1, Chungha’s approach to her music has taken a shift. Killing Me is raw and passionate, open and honest, featuring lyrics written by Chungha that use the metaphor of a relationship to discuss her seeming disillusionment and subsequent depression from the monotony of her life. And while Sparkling is much less heavy compared to Killing Me, the level of earnestness remains. There’s something so wholesome about how Chungha smiles and looks at her dancers while performing this song. There’s the same confidence from past title tracks when, in the bridge, she says, “Will you love me, yeah baby? / (Could you hold me tight?) / You can trust me, yeah baby.

CHUNGHA on the set of the music video for Sparkling (taken by Melon) - (Image credit: https://kpopping.com/kpics/220711-Chungha-Sparkling-MV-Shoot-by-Melon)


It’s safe to say that I love this song. It leaves me feeling like I’ve been electrocuted for three minutes straight, with only a short moment to catch my breath during the bridge. The instrumental is dynamic and experimental, playing with fun and unique sound effects — the aforementioned soda can opening, a cockatoo’s whistle and bubble’s popping, to name a few. The music video features images of fish bowls, mermaids and bubbles, which are perfectly translated over from the song. Both halves of Sparkling (the audio and the visual) feel cohesive and well-thought out. Not to mention that Chungha’s voice sounds absolutely incredible, particularly, when she sings, “So, you make me sparkle.” Chungha also visibly looks happier during this era, beaming contagiously on stage, styled in outfits that are eye-catching while still fitting the song’s overall concept. Given what we know about her past health issues near the release of Querencia, it’s not hard to see why. There’s a distinct Ariel quality to Chungha and this song — like an inquisitive mermaid, blessed with a powerful and enchanting voice, Chungha searches for the love that makes her feel this way. In her own words, she is, “Fallin’, lovin’, I’mma dive in.”

CHUNGHA on the set of the music video for Sparkling (taken by Melon) - (Image credit: https://kpopping.com/kpics/220711-Chungha-Sparkling-MV-Shoot-by-Melon)


Final Thoughts

I dare anyone to listen to this song, watch this music video, or see a clip of Chungha performing and not crack a smile. Sparkling has been my song of the summer, and likely will continue to be for many summers going forward.


Lyric translations from Genius.com
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