K-Pop Debut Spotlight: MAMAMOO’s Hwasa – First Mini-Album “María”
MAMAMOO’s Hwasa makes a solid statement with her first mini album María!
MAMAMOO’s Hwasa is back with a banger of an album that showcases her versatility as a musician. The songstress captivates with her power packed voice that is sure to leave listeners entranced. Hwasa has been quite hands on with her first mini album as she has written and composed almost all of her tracks.
María shows the vocalist’s raw and introspective side with different variations and tones in terms of musical style. Each and every track has somewhat of a personal touch not only for the singer but for the listener as well.
While Hwasa expresses her thoughts and personality with the album, the songs also click with the listeners who connect to the emotions of the tracks that feel personalized due to their flawless conceptualization.
María Countdown Timeline
Hwasa made quite the stirring declaration of her first solo album release on June 14 as she unveiled an eye catching teaser image that focused on the singer’s stunning visuals as a snake slithered across her face.
Before fans could wrap their heads around the amazing news of her solo venture, on June 15, she introduced her album with a soulful teaser of her track, “Intro: Nobody else,” on which, her vocals hit listeners right in those feels.
On June 16, Hwasa left fans spellbound after she revealed an enigmatic image teaser that showed her lying next to a pool in a somewhat semi-conscious state.
She followed it up with a short and sweet pre-interview video on her SNS wherein she spoke about how tired but happy and excited she was feeling. She expressed that she had been the happiest all year when she recorded the title track “Maria.”
Personifying fierceness, Hwasa looked bewitching as ever. The image evokes power with its standout aesthetics ensuring that the focus stays on the artist herself.
Hwasa only furthered anticipations after she unveiled a thrilling track list for María that not only excited fans, but also, pleasantly surprised them with two amazing collaboration reveals as well!
A V Live for the same was revealed by Hwasa to explain the makings and the meanings of each of the tracks.
Looking resplendent in red, Hwasa released two ravishing and power packed images. The red and black aesthetics brought out the singer’s intense bearing in an extremely eye catching way.
Adding quite the dramatic flair, Hwasa treated fans to a sneak peek of her title track that made for quite the edgy experience as she released a morte version teaser for “Maria.”
Later, on June 24, the multi talented soloist showed off her charms in a a very chilled out image she released for her title track.
On June 26, Hwasa unveiled a breathtaking behind the scenes video wherein fans got to see Hwasa in her natural element as she made hearts flutter with her cutesy charms. Moreover, she gave an in-depth look into some of her tracks. And whats more? The video had a surprise appearance by DPR Live as well.
Mesmerizing with her mischievous mannerism, Hwasa surely stunned viewers in her vita version teaser for “Maria.”
On June 27, not only did Hwasa enrapture fans with another teaser image but she also raised up fans’ excitements with a heart racing highlight medley.
María Album Impressions
The album begins on a pensive note with the ruminative “Intro: Nobody else”. The profound lyrics against a dramatic soft piano and synth melody convey how sometimes behind a dazzling demeanor, dark thoughts still hide and play on a person’s mind. However, there is a lift in the soft melody for a brief moment when she calls out to herself as ‘Maria.’
The melody softens yet again when she takes a moment to reflect on her thoughts. Hwasa shows her raw self through this track. The words are deep and relatively even. The track is comforting as it feels personal in a way because at some point everyone may felt the way Hwasa does in this song.
Hwasa turns up the heat with “Maria”! The moment the song begins you already know it’s a bop. The dreamy R&B synths merged with xylophones onto a tango inspired dance beat. It is sure to make listeners get up and hit the dance floor. The layered Latin music flair gives this song an added oomph factor that complements Hwasa’s sultry vocals.
“Maria” is also versatile in its style as it fuses R&B sounds with Latin notes that are backed by high octane trap beats. Besides, the lyrics pack quite the punch, with lines such as, “I’ll change the path I go/I’ll change a crisis to an opportunity/If you really want to see me cry Here, tears…” and “Why are you struggling/You’re already beautiful”. This track is one that listeners would want to keep hitting that repeat button for.
“Kidding,” produced by Zico, is composed of a playful R&B melody. The track opens with bright guitar riffs and Hwasa’s lulling voice before the high energy beat takes over, giving the song a bit of a 90s personality, especially when the singer leaves listeners speechless with her fiery rap verses on the track.
The lyricism of the track has a subtle sarcastic tone to it. The song tells the story of an unfaithful lover as the lyrics suggest, “Poor alibi as it goes on/ I never watched that movie with you/ It was true you were tired/ Of course you must have been busy”. Hwasa sardonically asks in with her breathy notes, “You two falling in love/ It’s an old thing that’s thrown out after one use/ You’re going to regret it soon/ Isn’t it, so ironic/ Are you Kidding me?” This one’s definitely a fun track especially with its understated satirical style.
This dynamic contemporary ballad is going to dazzle listeners by how good it is! The trap synth beat on “WHY” against her sublime vocals is simply divine. The lyrics on this track talk of an unrequited love.
And it is indeed ironical when Hwasa sings, “Why don’t you love me?” because with just one listen, fans are absolutely going to fall in love with her and this track as well. Additionally, this R&B number showcases her vocals in the most refined way.
“I’m bad too” has a soothing dynamic that features Latin music influences on it as well. However, it is in stark contrast to “Maria”. While “Maria,” too has a Latin music based composition, it is more vibrant in its energy. “I’m bad too,” is more laid back in its approach and the fusion of R&B synths give it a very refreshing aesthetic.
Hwasa and DPR Live’s camaraderie that reflects within the track is evidently charming as the lyrics have a very conversational style to them. It is a fun and young track that showcases the friendship of the two artists through the cute back and forth lyrical approach.
Ever wondered what Hwasa can do with her mellifluous vocals? Well, the answer lies in “LMM”. The song has a very orchestral tone to it and is composed of a predominantly piano and violin based melody. Hwasa’s vocals are in focus on this song and shine brightly than ever.
The soul stirring track has a melodramatic mood where Hwasa’s vocals are set to put listeners into a trance as she hits those high notes with panache and belts out those flawless falsettos. Her voice just sounds so hauntingly beautiful on this track that is sure to move and mesmerize all at once!
The music video shifts between a playful and mischievous to a dark and morbid ambiance. It is reflective of both the morte and vita versions of the teasers for “Maria”. There is a lot of juxtaposition with the imagery in the music video. It gives an insight to the two sides of Ahn Hyejin: Hwasa and Maria. In the video too, there are two versions of Hwasa, one with red hair and the other with black, present.
The Hwasa with red hair is more fiery and glamorous while the black haired Hwasa reflects her real self who is more vulnerable and guarded.
The music video also contains strong metaphors that make a bold statement. The scene where Hwasa crouches in a corner with sharp pencils pointing at her like daggers represent all the sharp comments aimed at her by netizens and the media.
Another scene that is a striking one is when she wears a crown of nails. It is a direct comparison of how behind the glitz and the glam, there lies an excruciating struggle.
Hwasa gives a shout out to the 2000 Italian romantic film Malèna starring Monica Bellucci. The film centers around a similar theme as “Maria”. It includes the red and black hair colors that serve as an expression of the transitions and trials in the titular character’s life. Even the image for the “Maria,” music video, wherein Hwasa looks nonchalant as she sits with a cigarette in one hand while multiple hands hold up lighters at her service, is inspired by the scene wherein Malèna sits with a cigarette with a blank gaze while men scramble to hold up lighters for her.
The film is analogous to the conceptualization of the music video. The film also talks about similar themes as the video. It revolves around the theme of people forming opinions of a woman with little to no regard for her feelings and without knowing her even, only for the sake of gossip or entertainment.
Towards the end of the video, fans are in for yet another surprise in the final scene. Hwasa comes to a realization that neither she or Maria is alone. The other three members of MAMAMOO – Solar, Wheein and Moonbyul arrive with gifts and flowers to cheer her up and comfort her.