Blog Reflection: December 2014

Posted on December 31, 2014

As I traditionally do per month, it is time for a monthly reflection to gauge performance and growth. Unfortunately for this reflection, it will be vastly shorter than usual, but I will hopefully still cover the main points.

Before I get any further, with a passing winter time and an upcoming new year, I hope everyone has a healthy, happy time. Whether holidays were celebrated or nothing occurred at all, hopefully the winter times have been pleasing (or non-winter times depending on some of my readers). Personally, I am hoping family, cousins, and other important figures such as teachers, professors, and of course, the expected answer of idols (such as my role models of T-ARA’s Soyeon and former Nine Muses’ Sera) have a pleasant, healthy and cheerful upcoming year.

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Rate of Reviews

Since I possess a slightly organized structure on my monthly reflections, I will continue to utilize it. Reflecting over my rate, I feel extremely irritated and disappointed with myself. My minimal goal is to publish at least 6 reviews (and actually, if my two show reviews were on time, I technically could have made the mark), but this month, even with time off, I have hit only 4 reviews.

On the positive side, I have finally found a conciser version to my review outline. My review of MAMAMOO’s “Piano Man” has utilized it, and I find that it is helpful. Nevertheless, I will continue to find ways to trim down reviews in order to improve the rate.

For January, I will attempt to at least meet 6 reviews, and if I make it, I plan to gradually increase it to 8, and eventually if possible, 10. However, being realistic with time, that would be extremely difficult, and the best I can afford would be 6.

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Blog Growth

While I will not include statistics, I am able to gauge genuine growth for the blog. I have received multiple, positive feedback during this month, and my earlier review of T-ARA’s “Little Apple” was rather well received (although I am sure that is moreover due to the amazing ladies of T-ARA being popular versus my review itself). Anyhow, I appreciate all of the given feedback, but do not forget, bringing in suggestions and criticism, whether for my writing, analysis, or review structure, is always welcomed. Improving becomes significantly easier with constructive feedback. Nevertheless, I am extremely pleased with the amount of feedback given, and I cannot be thankful enough.  

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Writing Growth

This month was the first time I have read a previous, archaic review, and besides feeling utterly embarrassed and ashamed, I can at least witness some growth. Looking from the day I began to now, everything has improved; my mechanical writing is clearer and fluent, my analysis is now more coherent and organized, and even miniscule details such as my review outline have become more refined. In short, I can see improvement, but all I glean from reading the past is visibility; I can see improvement, but that in itself is extremely minor. What remains important and vital is to constantly improve. Even now, in a few more months, when I look back at December 2014, I am hoping, and more accurately phrased, expecting, to feel the same sense of shame and humiliation that I currently feel when peering over my July 2014 reviews. That is my endless goal. As paradoxical as that may sound, my goal is to constantly improve my writing and blog, and even with seeing a significant growth, that should not mean I have reached an endpoint.

Diving into present time of how my writing is, for the mechanical aspect, the biggest struggle is to perhaps be more concise. By compacting more of my thoughts into shorter, well crafted sentences, the hastier reviews will be put out. Additionally, main ideas should become vastly more clear and blatant. Another aspect besides compacting my writing is to improve the general sound of it; as time progresses, I am hoping my writing itself sounds more sophisticated, crisp, and delightful.

In terms of my analysis, while it is progressively improving, I desire a clearer sense of identifying strong and weak points to a song. In addition to the song itself, for the choreography, I also wish to become more adept at identifying pros and cons to a dance. More practice and experience will lead to stronger analyses.

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Likewise with improving, this reflection outline may become revamped in the future, but as of now, every point has been covered, and thus, this will be a proper place to conclude. I am definitely aiming to publish at least 6 reviews for January, and with 2 bonus show reviews, that leaves me with solely 4 song reviews to finish. I feel confident with that, but my own dedication will determine the outline (time to flip on Soyeon’s dedication, perhaps).

Looking over how many months have passed, it is truly astonishing to see this blog continue. I will continue to improve, and as I always say, thank you very much for reading. Stay tuned for future reviews, and let’s enjoy and expect a stronger month in January.   

 

This is a difficult question:) Who among the girl groups deserved the title “Dancing Queens” and which song choreography is the best for year 2014?

This is definitely a difficult question. 

To answer this accurately, it would be near impossible for me. 2014 in the whole year itself contained a plethora of female group song releases, and therefore, many dances. To gauge a “Dancing Queens” group from my perspective, it would be vastly limited. 

And before I get started, to share a minor story, I had a friend who asked me to create a “Top 10 Best K-Pop Songs of 2014” list, and while I was initially excited, I declined her idea. Why? Covering the whole year of 2014 would be overwhelming, and to be accurate with that list, I would have to have a diverse, memorable experience with multiple hit comebacks/song releases. Unfortunately, I doubt I would have a solid grasp on the many songs released.

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Back on topic and relating that story here, although a realistic answer is impossible, I can give a tunnel-visioned, personal answer to the question. Personally, off the top of my head, a choreography from a female group that proved to be extremely solid would be…I honestly cannot think of a top dance (I sincerely ruminated for a few minutes). To ease my life slightly, I will name, from my memory, dances from female groups in the year 2014 that can be considered in the higher tier. This list is just a few examples and in no particular ranking:

T-ARA’s “Sugar Free” was not too bad. “Little Apple” is another as well.

AOA’s “Miniskirt” and “Like a Cat” were decent, although not the strongest.

Secret’s “I’m In Love” was rather solid, and although I cannot recall my feelings during my review of it, thinking of it now, it holds as very solid but not the top. 

I am missing a lot of other female groups, but for the purpose of saving my brain limiting the list, I will end it with these examples. If I sat down and went through my music playlist, I am sure I can give a lengthier list of top female group dances. Now, what I could perhaps list more easily would be my personal version of top songs of the years, but that will be another time.

But anyhow, as mentioned, a proper list of top female group choreography would be impossible for me to compose. Perhaps for 2015 it could change.

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Apologies for not having a direct answer, but thank you very much for sending this in. If the year limit was removed, I could bring a list of top female group dances I have seen, and if male groups are included, I would bring in a choreography that I would consider as an exceptionally solid one (and from my personal knowledge, that choreography is probably the best so far on my list). Anyhow, thank you for this question, and hopefully some insight is seen. This was truly a difficult question. 

“Which group (that you like) has the best live performances vocals-wise? Also in your opinion who has the best vocals Tiffany or Jessica? ( I love both, I just find Jessica is much more controlled than Tiffany, and that makes me like Jessica’s vocals more)”

crumblingheart

Since this was sent in “mail-format” instead of the “ask-format,” I cannot quote it as Tumblr automatically does. But, I will manually format it and answer it publicly.

Anyhow, thank you for sending this question in, and thank you for other messages sent as well. I will answer them one by one.

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Which group (that you like) has the best live performances vocals-wise?

This is truthfully very difficult to answer. Of groups I like and can be considered a fan of, I will say Nine Muses is a prominent group in mind. Despite being on the unpopular side (especially after the departure of Eunji, Lee Sem, and Sera), their vocals, be it in the form of studio or live, are extremely solid. Many performances by them are sung live, and even a picnic fan event showcased their live vocals. Biasedly, I will say Nine Muses is my answer to this question. Now, being realistic, there are many groups that fit into this answer; Sistar, MAMAMOO, ZE:A, and vastly more are capable of stellar live singing. As stated, however, Nine Muses is my personal answer.

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Also in your opinion who has the best vocals Tiffany or Jessica? ( I love both, I just find Jessica is much more controlled than Tiffany, and that makes me like Jessica’s vocals more)

For readers who are not utterly familiar with these idols, they are members of Girls’ Generation. And, to be more accurate, some were members of Girls’ Generation; Jessica is no longer on the roster after being removed a while back (I would not like to dive into the discussion of Jessica leaving, but if a reader prompts me to give a Blog Opinion post, I would be willing to give some quick opinions).

Biasedly, I would root for Tiffany on the sole basis of being infatuated by her personality and positive, hard working attitude, and of course, her huskier yet crisp voice. Putting aside those feelings, however, and we once again possess a difficult question to answer. Overall, I would rate them both as equal. In terms of how Jessica is more controlled than Tiffany, I can agree to that. On the flip side, however, Tiffany does have some extra power that I have yet to hear Jessica showcase (although Jessica can still showcase impacting vocals). For the most part, though, I will say they both are equal vocalists. Both are lovely with their melody, power, note holds, and such, and even on the basic, physical foundation of how their voices sound, they have delightful voices (as does everyone; every voice is unique and charming, and the closest criticism to voices should be based on singing and not the actual usual, typical speaking voice). In summary, I cannot find either lady more superior in the singing field, so I will say they are equal for my answer.

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Hopefully these answers are thorough and address the questions. Thank you once again for sending them in, and personally to you, thank you for the other kind messages sent. I truly appreciate them all, so thank you. For other readers wanting to send in questions or messages, feel free to. I am always open to taking in song requests, feedback on my reviews and writing, and of course, criticism and on ways I could improve.

Some quick news, as stated in my previous review, I have two show reviews coming. Due to some technical difficulties with images, they will take slightly longer to release, but hopefully they provide some variety to this blog. Stay tuned, and thank you to readers and to crumblingheart for the questions.  

MAMAMOO – “Piano Man” Review

MAMAMOO – Piano Man (Live Performance)

MAMAMOO – Piano Man

Reviewed on December 27, 2014

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Personal Message: After a delay of multiple weeks, I am finally starting this review. As mentioned, I have been requested to review this song. Firstly, to the requester, deep apologies. Due to poor prioritizing and scheduling, this review has become quite delayed, and for that, I am very sorry. With requests, they deserve top priority and I find that it was extremely rude of me to delay it for this long. Thankfully, here it finally is.

Anyhow, I am glad to have received this song. As the requester stated, this song has a style that varies from other songs reviewed here, and I can definitely agree (although once we systemically take it apart, there may be closer resemblances in reality). The concept for “Piano Man” gives off a musical play aura; the vocals, instrumental, and even some aspects of the dancing give a theater theme to the song. While personally I am not a huge fan of this song’s style, I can still appreciate it and, at the very least, feel completely stunned at MAMAMOO’s vocal capabilities. Nevertheless, I will remain unbiased when reviewing this song.

A final note to add, considering my previously failed attempt at compacting reviews (AOA’s “Miniskirt” was supposed to be a “speed review”), I will proceed with another trial. This time, my plan is to whittle down the Song Structure to solely my reasoning on my scores; I will remove both the description and summarizing piece that I have included in the past. This time around, I feel a lot more confident in a shorter review due to that, but we will have to find out. My current plan is to produce more reviews at the cost of shortening them, but if things are done correctly, the quality will remain practically the same, but the quantity of reviews should be vastly increased.

Progressing on, MAMAMOO may not be a popular group, but I hope that will change. Their concept is unique, and more importantly, their skills with dancing and singing is exceptional. That said, “I’m ready for some action,” but “are you ready for perfection?” Assuming “perfection” is in the form of MAMAMOO’s singing and not my writing, I am completely prepared.

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Song Total Score: 8/10 (8/10 raw score) – Average score of the sub-categories

– Vocals: 9/10 – Strangely, MAMAMOO’s popularity is relatively low despite how incredible their vocals are. For “Piano Man,” the group showcases versatile vocals; high notes and low notes were heard, and going from a gentle tone to an impactful, powerful one was no issue. Additionally, to suit the classier theme of “Piano Man,” the ladies sung with a soothing, slower style. This works out perfectly as it aids both the atmosphere and their general singing voices. Lastly, as expected, their vocals were exceptionally melodic. Different notes were utilized constantly, and as a result, besides further proving their skills as singers, it provides the song with a delightful flow.

Although I will not factor this into their grading, for this live performance, they were, indeed, singing live. An “MR Removed” video (a video that reveals live vocals for a performance) was made to showcase such, and considering it was uploaded to an official “MR Removed” channel, I will give it a decent amount of credibility (but, as always, they should be questioned; refer to a previous Question/Answer post for further information). Anyhow, MAMAMOO are all very adept singers. Every member individually holds exceptional singing, and for the song, their hard work and talent definitely reflects in this song’s fantastic vocals. A high score will be given.   

– Song Structure: 7/10 (6.88/10 raw score)

The song goes in this structure and order:

Introduction, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Post-Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Post-Chorus, Rap, Bridge, Chorus, Conclusion (Post-Chorus)

1. Introduction: 7/10 – With this review being the second test to concising reviews, we will see how it goes. Hwasa handles the introduction.

While the introduction might not be musically charged, it is still a valid introduction. Instead of the standard protocol of seducing listeners via catchy vocals and sounds, “Piano Man” opts for a different route. Setting up the stage, literally with the performance and figuratively with “stage” being the song, is the main priority. Hwasa’s lines in addition to the instrumental created the classier, jazz style of the song. Focusing on Hwasa’s lines, they displayed a lower pitch along with being soothing. This creates subtle build-up along with potentially hooking on listeners due to soothing vocals. Later, the introduction does transition to piano keys, and this prompts an appropriate and fluent switch to the verse.

Above average will be the rating. The slower paced setup in terms of both the soundtrack and vocals were effective.

2. Verse: 7/10 – Side note, to already address the concising idea, it is definitely a struggle, but with more practice, I can see this potentially working (or back to outlining different ideas). Anyhow, Solar and Hwasa handle the first verse, and Wheein handles the second verse.

In terms of the first verse, Solar and Hwasa showcase excellent vocals. By remaining on a slower pace and using lower pitches, the song develops naturally. In addition, the vocals themselves prove to be catchy; vocals remain lingering due to the lower notes and a pacing that accommodates to the instrumental. To focus more specifically on the singing, the two members executed a small, lower note stretch at the end of every line. Not only were the endings soothing, but the song’s overall style was also well supported. For what could have been slightly better, switching the format slightly would augmented the verses even more. Both Solar and Hwasa followed the same structure, and as a result, it does become slightly dull.

Nevertheless, the overall score for the verses will hold as above average.

3. Pre-Chorus: 6/10 – Everyone chips in for the pre-chorus.

The pre-choruses are contradicting in the sense of being unique yet standard. For what is rather typical, the build-up relies on the ladies’ vocals’ looping over and over. Now, for what is different, the use of vocals to create the hype differs from the norm; usually the instrumental’s beats are responsible for this format of pre-choruses. To discuss the actual pre-choruses, a strong point is utilizing MAMAMOO’s high-tier vocals in this form. With their melodic voices complementing the lighter instrumental, not only does build-up occur, but the overall gentler and classy concept is safeguarded. Diving into the weaker aspects, the most prominent one is the format itself. Even with MAMAMOO’s vocals, structurally, the pre-choruses are not thorough; the chanting (if I may label it as that) is plain, even if melodic vocals are added, and the instrumental is equally dry.

Slightly above average will be the score. Mechanically, the vocals save the section slightly, but overall, this format was slightly disappointing. Catchy as it may be, it lacks depth in terms of being an actual structure. By being a simple textbook-version pre-chorus, its sole purpose was hyping the song for the chorus.

4. Chorus: 8/10 – Wheein and Solar team up for the choruses.

Despite a weaker pre-chorus, this section does compensate. The choruses of “Piano Man” unveil MAMAMOO’s stronger vocals. Up until this point, their singing was based on remaining serene, but with this section, the opposite occurs: impactful vocals are heard. Peering more closely, besides powerful singing, a key aspect is how the vocals were guided; the vocals in the chorus retained the established melody, and additionally, remained within the boundaries of the song’s intensity. Blind, unrestricted vocals were nonexistent; instead, vocals that can still be considered powerful yet purposefully aimed are heard.

Due to being rather solid, a relatively higher score will be given. It lacks extra quality and aspects to push it towards a 9, but nevertheless, an 8 will suffice for MAMAMOO’s strong yet controlled vocals.

5. Post-Chorus: 6/10 – Moonbyul handles the post-choruses, although technically the other members are involved for the background vocals, and thus, everyone, in short, handles the post-choruses. Realistically, however, Moonbyul is the one receiving the spotlight.

Considering the post-choruses’ role here is to aid in a smoother transition back into the song, be it the second verse or even Moonbyul’s own rap, it somewhat fails in regards to that. Ironically, the post-choruses undermine that idea, and instead, the transition can be seen as somewhat rigid. Firstly, Moonbyul’s solo lines did the proper job of returning “Piano Man” to a slower, calmer state. However, the added background vocals negate that; the other members’ background lines involved chanting “yeah” in an impactful manner. Since the background vocals replicates the choruses’ style of powerful vocals, Moonbyul’s lines lose their functionality of transitioning the song back into the gentler tone. Focusing on the singing aspect and not entirely the format itself, Moonbyul’s lines possessed little melody. The background vocals do supply satisfying vocals, but as stated, they are out of place.

Homogenous to the pre-choruses, the post-choruses are mechanically sound, for the most part, with decent vocals, but format-wise, the section does falter. Perhaps removing the background vocals, or at the very least, lightening them via reducing the power, would aid the section.

6. Rap: 8/10 – Moonbyul is in charge of the rap, and although her lines in the post-choruses can be considered weaker, she utterly redeems herself through this section.

Surprisingly, even though this song is orientated towards regular singing vocals, this rap section completely suits the song. Moonbyul’s rap contains power, melody, and flow. Of the main factors for a rap, all are present; her words possess a heavier presence due to a mixture of Moonbyul’s charisma and voice, her rap carries a tuneful component similar to the usual singing heard, and most promisingly, her flow holds as extremely smooth and fluent. Ignoring the sheer mechanical aspects, the structure of the rap remains varying, and as a result, the rap as a whole becomes augmented. For example, the initial moment of the rap emphasized the flow and tune, and towards the end, power becomes highlighted.

Overall, a very impressive rap that is deserving of a higher score. Every aspect, whether it is the mechanics or format, are all solid.

7. Bridge: 6/10 – While there are solo words, the vast majority of the bridge is sung by MAMAMOO as a group.

On the surface, this bridge is seemingly rather solid, but once everything becomes accounted for, that is not quite the case. Initial moments of the bridge were decent; the unison singing gave the usual pacifying effect heard at bridges, and Wheein’s background vocals came off powerfully. What proceeds after that, however, is questionable. Specifically, the line of “We are MAMAMOO” provides an unnecessary contrast to the bridge’s established pacing and power. When factoring in even the moment after that line, powerful vocals were always present, and while that line could have been for emphasis, in the entirety of the bridge, it is moreover misplaced than suiting. Furthermore, the overall structure was not too appealing. Repeating “let’s swing, let’s groove” became stagnant, for example.

In the end, the mechanical aspects, as expected, prove to be impressive, but for the section as a whole, the format was weaker. Slightly above average will hold as the rating.

8. Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 7/10 – The post-chorus is recycled for the conclusion.

While the post-chorus in general is not individually spectacular, for concluding the song, it proves to be effective. Rather than following the traditional route of bringing the song to a relaxed, finishing state, “Piano Man” concludes with power. Moonbyul’s lines recur, and as anticipated, the other members’ background vocals are included. In this case of having no section afterwards, the impacting background vocals, unlike in the main part of the song where transition was a concern, become viable to use as a strong finish. This leaves “Piano Man” closing with the final impressions of MAMAMOO’s adept vocals, and overall, the energetic atmosphere is kept.

Overall, a solid conclusion due to a properly reused post-chorus. Above average will be the score.  

– Line Distribution: 10/10 – With only four members in MAMAMOO, the Line Distribution score should be a free 10. Adding on, with every lady possessing incredible vocals, everyone is capable of superb singing, and thus, the share should be equal.

Solar’s lines involved the first verse and the choruses. While that may seem lacking, considering the duration of lines and how the choruses occurred three times, there is no issue with her share. She had sufficient spotlight.

Moonbyul’s moments include the post-choruses and, most prominently, her solo rap section. Since the post-choruses were replayed multiple times, and including how her rap section was solely for her, there are no issues with the line share. Moonbyul left a solid impression throughout the song.

Next is Wheein. Her lines included the choruses and a solo verse. Noticing the current trend, so far, it seems that every member is responsible for two sections. Her moment at the choruses were lengthy, and to ensure her presence was acknowledged, an entire verse was also given. No issues exist here.

Finally, for Hwasa’s lines, she was involved at the introduction and the first verse. Amazingly, the trend still holds true. Like her group members, she had two sections to handle. The introduction had a longer duration, and with the first verse, even her singing was showcased. A perfect amount of time was given.

Adding an excessive factor, a lot of moments involved everyone singing. Whether it was in the form of background vocals or two-part singing such as in the final chorus, even these additional parts had equal share.

A perfect score will be given. This is outstanding for line distributions, and although numerically MAMAMOO is at an advantage, it is nevertheless quite impressive to see a perfectly shared song.

– Instrumental: 8/10 – For the instrumental of “Piano Man,” thankfully and correctly, the piano is the main instrument; after all, with a song title of such, a piano soundtrack should be included. Focusing on the soundtrack, it provides solid support for the song. In terms of creating the song’s classier atmosphere, strictly utilizing instruments that reflect a classy, jazz style aid that purpose. Additionally, individually, the instrumental is pleasing. It holds a soothing and catchy aspect; the beats and main melody from the piano complement each other to deliver a lingering effect. On the subject of complementing, the vocals and soundtrack meshed exceptionally well. With stellar vocals, the instrumental ushered attention towards the singing, but nevertheless, a supportive layer was still supplied to reciprocate the vocals’ power and energy.

A solid score will be earned here. Individually the soundtrack holds well, and with helping MAMAMOO’s singing, that is also covered.

– Meaning: 6/10 – With an intriguing title, people are most likely pondering over its meaning. “Piano Man” might be praising, as the song title goes, a man who is very talented at the piano. Or, instead of praising, it might be flirting with a “piano man.” To end the speculations, here are the Korean-to-English translated lyrics. While they are not 100% accurate, the general idea should become uncloaked:

I’m ready for some action
Are you ready for perfection?
Hey piano man
Hello, um

Such boring conversations
Such senseless guys
My high heels and carefully applied lipstick,
they don’t even notice, how boring
I think it was then you walked in
A piano man who doesn’t fit in this place
When his white finger touched the keys
My eyes were wide opened

(bumppappara bumppappara bumppappara bum
bumppappara bumppappara bumppappara)

Hey piano man, your dancing hands
The piano man, your unpredictable body movements
What can I say, I want only you and me to be in this place

To the right, to the right, to the right
To the left, to the left, to the left
(yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)

When your fingers brush against the keys
I keep getting naughty thoughts
My heart beats staccato
Hey Mr. Ambiguous
Play my body like a piano

(bumppappara bumppappara bumppappara bum
bumppappara bumppappara bumppappara)

Hey piano man, your dancing hands
The piano man, your unpredictable body movements
What can I say, I want only you and me to be in this place

To the right, to the right, to the right
To the left, to the left, to the left
(yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)
(Word up, Moon Star)

It starts with the trumpet
Can I get that?
In between is the sound of the hi-hat
Drum drum kick
on top of the sweet dish of rhythm you place in the piano
Let me introduce myself
I like jeans instead of skirts,
but they’re still crazy about me

Oh swing, let’s groove, singing
Oh swing, let’s groove, my baby
Oh swing, let’s groove
Let us introduce ourselves, we are MAMAMOO
Darling you are my own

Hey piano man, when this song ends, come to me
(Come to me piano man)
The piano man, the conversation is now over
The last melody, I want it to be just you and me
(Just you and me)
I want to listen to it

Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, wanna keep meeting?
(yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)

My latter prediction holds as somewhat correct; the lyrics depict a flirtatious love story involving a lady and her love-interest, a “piano man.” Unlike the other males that have passed by, the main character becomes captivated by the piano man. His talent with the piano is what drives her interest; his “dancing hands” become an interest, and the act of his fingers “[brushing] against the keys” leads the lady to have “naughty thoughts” (perhaps such as him flirting with her instead of solely playing the piano). Other details further support the lady’s infatuation, and overall, the most unique aspect to these lyrics is the focus on the piano/music to reflect the lover’s feelings.

Between deciding a 6 or 7, I lean moreover towards a 6 due to weaker details, although they are numerous. Some details are miniscule, or somewhat irrelevant. For example, the rap section’s lyrics are not only confusing (although that may be due to translating), but it does not relate back into the flirting concept; music is related back to, but the piano man or the lady’s infatuation are not mentioned.  

For “Piano Man,” unfortunately and fortunately, the “Critical Corner” label-to-be-decided section where we dive deeper and question the lyrics is not too relevant here. I admire that this song does shift away from the typical flirtatious stories where physical appearances are the catalyst for attraction. Instead, the main character is attracted to a certain man due to his talent with the piano, not his looks. Realistically, though, love and attraction should come over time; infatuation should not be an spontaneous emotion, but rather, developed overtime and building up due to understanding and finding out more about a love-interest. Anyhow, I cannot pinpoint anything to critically discuss for this song.   

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Choreography Score: 7/10 – With this final section left, we have the choreography to grade.

Factoring in “Piano Man” ‘s concept, a flashier, upbeat dance is not expected. Simplicity and calmness are this dance’s stronger points. Peering at the syncing, most of the choreography relates to the song; the beats matched movements, and even the flow was synchronized via different gestures and such. Unfortunately, for what is weaker in the choreography, the key points proved to be slightly lacking. While they varied at times, most of them were rather plain. For example, the piano playing key point for the choruses were clever in terms of matching to the song and lyrics, but visually, the dance itself remains insipid. Other key points were also equally uninteresting. Nevertheless, the slightly weaker key points are miniscule, and considering there were some strong key points such as the pre-choruses’ tap dancing, the key points, overall, still hold as decent.

More appealing key points could potentially bump up the score to an 8, but taking a different perspective on the choreography, nothing should be altered; the dance remains less physically demanding due to simpler key points, and thus, more stamina is allocated towards singing. As a result, for MAMAMOO’s purpose, the choreography perfectly suits their main objective of showcasing their dominating vocals. Ignoring this side note, the grade will still hold as above average.

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Overall Score: 8/10 (7.5/10 raw score) – In the end, a high score of 8/10 holds. This is definitely reasonable and agreeable to. “Piano Man” discloses amazing vocals due to the members’ skills, and for the song itself, with decent song sections and a phemenonal line distribution, a high score is expected. Furthermore, even the choreography holds well.

As always, thank you very much for reading. I appreciate that you are willing to spend some time reading this review, so thank you. For the person who requested this, I hope I brought justice to this song in terms of genuinely grading it and with decently explaining. Also, apologies for a huge delay on this review; this song was requested weeks ago, but I have finally got to it. I will ensure future requests are heavily prioritized. Due to having some work to clear, my schedule has not been complete leisure time. Nevertheless, I still expect to finish strongly for December, and with my last week of break, to catch up on all my work. It is time to be like T-ARA’s Soyeon and to push through everything.

For other news, I have been recently getting a copious amount of positive feedback, and for that, I am very grateful. It is great to hear from readers and your thoughts on my review structure and writing. However, do not forget to also bring in criticism; while many shudder at that word, criticism is not necessarily bad at all, especially if it is constructive. Hearing how I can improve vastly aids my reviews, and from the past with feedback, I have learned a lot.

More important information, or at least, for those curious, I have two special reviews in mind. It has been a while since I have done show reviews, but I have two in mind. These will provide a welcoming change after a barrage of purely songs. To give hints on which shows they are, one is somewhat older, but the other one is new and ongoing (which makes me wonder if I can accurately review it). Anyhow, the first show focuses on my favorite male group, and the second focuses on one of my top groups in general. They will both hopefully be out within a few days.

This seems like an appropriate place to close, so once again, thank you for reading, for those who send in feedback, I appreciate all of the support and kind words sent. Although “the conversation is now over,” for “The last melody, I want it to be just you and me.” Stay tuned for the two upcoming show reviews (and usual song reviews). Keep checking back.

Is lip-sycnhing really somehow unethical? I find the comments in youtube rather rude. IMO, viewers and fans have no right to demand for live singing unless it’s a paid concert and show. Singing while dancing is not that easy even for professional artists.

Hello once again.

Another good question here, and one that is still widely discussed by everyone in the K-Pop scene. Fans, staff members, and even idols themselves have addressed this (and even music shows have addressed this via restrictions or acceptance).

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To answer the question from my own opinion, lip-syncing should be allowed–to an extent, however.

Firstly, allowing full-time lip-syncing is silly. I have watched performances where multiple “MR Removed” (my opinion on this later) videos have shown groups not singing live at all. It is silly, and one key aspect of live stage performances is, hence the name, “live” singing. To hear an idol’s actual singing voice on a stage is astounding, and many fans wish to hear such. Unfortunately, with full lip-syncing, that is nonexistent. Instead, fans hear what they always hear as if they were listening to the official audio. In that regard, yes, it can be frustrating to find out your beloved idol was lip-syncing.

However, as people should always be doing, looking at multiple perspectives (not just “left and right”) is crucial. Let’s approach this issue on the idol’s side. As you have mentioned, singing while dancing is very, very strenuous; with singing, no comfortable breathing exists, and with dancing, due to the physical demand, breathing is likewise strained as well. Now as seen, an issue arises: both forms of actions are physically draining. As a result, realistically, to be able to flawlessly dance and sing is an exceptionally difficult feat to achieve, and thus, some lip-syncing is understandable. 

Adding both of these perspectives, we have my answer. Lip-syncing should be allowed since singing and dancing is extremely difficult, but in terms of utterly lip-syncing the whole song, that gives a lousier live performance. For the most part, groups tend to do a mix; key words/lines are sung, and minor ones are lip-synced. For lines that allow a chance to showcase adept vocals (high note holds) or for key words to a song (the “catch phrase”), they are often time sung.

That said, there are idols who are able to pull off both, and idols who simply cannot multi-task with dancing and singing. I do agree, though, that fans and viewers should be slightly more lenient at times.

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Now as mentioned earlier, I have a few extra points to address. Lip-syncing is simply more than being able to juggle both singing and dancing, there are other factors to account for (and as always, being critical whether it comes to this or important matters in life is vital).

Firstly, a lot of viewers do refer to “MR Removed” videos to confirm whether or not a group has lip-synced a certain performance. While there may be an official channel that seems reliable, these videos are not 100% precise. And to quickly explain what and how an “MR Removed” video works, it subtracts the official audio of a song to the live performance’s audio. The result, if done correctly, is it leaves traces of anything that does not match a song’s official audio, which is the live singing and tumultuous, energetic fanchants. Anyhow, “MR Removed” videos can be faked, especially if the produced video is not uploaded to an official MR Removed channel. Of course, they can still be reliable, but unless if there is high credibility, viewers and fans should always impugn the video.

Another point to also cover is something many viewers and fans are unaware of. While it varies per music show (Mnet versus Music Bank, etc), there is often time a pre-recording done. This pre-recording is done for multiple reasons. Practicing is one along with using the video recording for upload (if it visually comes out better), but another key point is that the audio used in the pre-recording may be utilized for the actual stage performance. This allows, technically, “live” singing to be heard. As a drawback, however, it is in the form of added audio, and thus, not truly live in the usual sense of real-time singing. Of course, I cannot bring foolproof reliability to these words. I have been only aware of this due to backstage videos where idols will say “We have finished our pre-recording” and a few MR Removed videos titled with “Pre-recording” and whatnot.

More investigation should be done if you are curious on this matter. 

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In summary, though, my earlier answer should be sufficient. Lip-syncing should be allowed, but not ultimately relied on. 

Thank you for sending in another question. It is always a pleasure to interact with readers. Thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy this blog and that you send me more questions in the future.

Happy winter times!

Merry Christmas Chris! Which among the girl groups excluding 2ne1 and snsd have the best singing talent in your opinion? And who is the best singer excluding solo artist and the 2 I mentioned? I really don’t know as I don’t understand clearly what good music is. I appreciate the girl groups because of their beauty and (sensual) dancing. Ryan

Hello Ryan, and Merry Christmas to you as well!

I will attempt to answer your questions one by one.

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Which among the girl groups excluding 2NE1 and SNSD/Girls’ Generation have the best singing talent in your opinion?

That is a really good question, and to be truthful, an answer might not exist (and realistically, it probably does not). Nevertheless, for female groups specifically, while I cannot pinpoint a single group that has top-notch vocals, I can name quite a few. More popular groups such as T-ARA and Sistar are ones that possess very solid singers on the individual level, and even as a group, their vocals shine well. However, other unpopular groups such as MAMAMOO (going to be reviewing them soon), for example, are extremely talented singers on both levels of individual and team. Other groups are also in mind such as Nine Muses. That group is highly underrated, but in terms of their singing skills, they are extremely solid. 

There are also other female groups with decent vocals, such as AOA and 4Minute, but I would not rate them at the very top of the scale. Anyhow, to answer this in a matter-of-fact manner is impossible since there are many vocally talented female groups in the industry. For my own biased perspective, I would place T-ARA, Nine Muses, and Sistar as prominent examples.

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And who is the best singer excluding solo artists and the 2 groups I mentioned?

Another great question and a good thing you added the “excluding solo artist” part. If we remove that part of the question, Ailee and Wheesung (if we include male singers) would be on that list. But, to answer that question, once again that is another tough question. 

Perhaps Sistar’s Hyorin can be considered the best singer if we ignore solo artists and Girls’ Generation and 2NE1. Her singing is often time considered on par with Ailee’s singing, but personally I believe it is slightly under by an exceptionally small margin. Nevertheless, Hyorin is very talented at singing and even rapping. Being versatile is her biggest strength; she can hit extremely high notes and low and smooth notes, she can switch from singing to rapping, and she is capable of releasing powerful vocals or gentle and soft vocals. So to answer that question, I have confidence that Sistar’s Hyorin is the singer that best fits. Of course, however, there may be an unknown artist who is equally deserving of this spot. And when including solo artists, a lot of people do come to mind. IU, a female soloist, comes to mind, and even male solo artists such as Taeyang also appear (although he is a part of a group). 

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I really don’t know as I don’t understand clearly what good music is. I appreciate the girl groups because of their beauty and (sensual) dancing.

And while I am at it, I would like to add a quick comment to this piece. I am positive that you understand what good music is, and in reality, music is similar to literature (and perhaps that is also why I adore music/K-Pop so much). There is no right answer; the answer depends on how well a supported an argument is. For example, I can argue on why Girls’ Generation’s “Mr. Mr.” is an excellent song, but on the flip side, someone else could argue on why it is a terrible song. Music is greatly based on opinion, and the best part is explaining why a song is good/bad instead of a simple “This song sucks/rocks.” Point is, I believe you understand what good music is.

And for the last part, female groups are definitely admirable on multiple layers. The stage persona piece can be captivating be it their chic, stylish concepts and choreography, and of course the most inspiring aspect, their hard work. Female groups and even males groups endure a lot to become idols, and in many cases, continue to work exceptionally hard to secure their positions of popularity and such. This aspect is also something to admire in addition to loving a group’s dancing, singing, and beauty (both physical and non-physical).

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Hopefully these answers are insightful and entertaining. Thank you very much for sending me these questions. I found them to be fun to answer and it is always a pleasure to interact with readers of this blog. Thank you once more.

Stay warm and have a great Christmas with friends and family!

AOA – “Miniskirt” Review

AOA – Miniskirt (Dance Practice)

AOA (Ace of Angels) – Miniskirt

Reviewed on December 23, 2014

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Personal Message: So it turns out, multi-tasking reviews is one of the worst things I have ever done in terms of writing-related activities. I have three other reviews being worked on, but since I am feeling rather overwhelmed, I decided to take things slowly and one at a time. I will finish a requested review as soon as possible, but I do deeply apologize for a huge delay. Anyhow, it is time I attempt a “speed review”; these reviews are aimed towards being more concise, but hopefully, still sufficiently detailed. My plan is to shorten the Song Structure section. After pondering about how to potentially speed up reviews, that section could be vastly optimized. Nevertheless, I am not too sure if it can be condensed into a shorter piece, and thus, this review was born to be used as an experiment. If things go correctly, I will dive straight into explaining the different sections versus attempting to lay out the key descriptions of every song section. I personally find that it will be an issue, but on the bright side, a lot of time could be saved, and readers will be spared from me atrociously describing different song parts.

Considering I am going to potentially butcher not bring justice to a song, using a group that I have reviewed beforehand will, at the very least, ensure that their name is not utterly tarnished by my mediocre writing. AOA will be my unlucky lucky test trial. Many readers will recognize this group, whether it be due to a previous review on them or, the more realistic reason, that they are a largely soaring group.

On the subject of AOA, although to this day “Like a Cat,” their most recent song, remains on my personal playlist, that is not the main reason on why I have been very fond of these ladies lately. Now that I think of it, perhaps my lousier review rate is due to allocating my writing session with AOA video sessions. Ignoring my excuse, I genuinely admire these incredible ladies. While they have proven to be exceptionally jocular and talented, a specific show made me respect how hard working they are, and how much they did, or more accurately, do, to overcome struggles. Although embarrassingly I forgot the title of the show (it begins with a “C”; might be Korean, though), it was one that did showcase some partial aspects of AOA’s idol life. The ladies were shown to be tediously practicing, and very rarely, if not never, did they have time to simply relax. Furthermore, their CEO or director (I think it was the director) was exceptionally strict with the members; she did not hesitate to hold her tongue when it came to criticizing the ladies of AOA.

There was an incident where Seolhyun was snacking on some chips, and as some may know, an idol’s diet is scrutinized very seriously. Kim Youngsun (to prevent confusion for those unfamiliar, I am typing this in Korean format; Kim is her last name), the director of FNC Entertainment (AOA’s label company) who is rather intimidating, was upset and chastised the member. She even went further and talked about how Seolhyun needed to watch her weight. On a small tangent, it is irritating to see that weight is a huge role for being attractive in certain societies. Whether it is Seolhyun’s case or anyone else, no one should be criticized on a pathetic, unworthy numerical value. Unless if the day arrives where weight will instantly determine your intelligence and such, it holds as meaningless other than a physical description/statistic.   

Since I am on a tangent, I will continue with one more interesting point seen from the show (and as always, for those who hate my blabbering and want my opinion on the song, feel free to skip to below). I did not notice it instantly, but after about 6 minutes into the show, a keen detail struck out: the staff members responsible for AOA are mainly females. Now there will be one person that goes, “So what? Stop being biased since they all happen to be females,” and that is a perfectly reasonable sight; however, welcome to male privilege taking a wider glance at the K-Pop industry, I will argue, despite how many incredible ladies there are whether it be the idols themselves or staff members, the K-Pop industry does sway in the favor of males. From other shows and behind-the-scene footages, often time the staff members are predominantly male. Additionally, the directors are typically males as well. And of course, another “So what?” may be asked, but in my opinion, what this does unveil is who runs the show; if general staff members and directors and CEOs are all male, that potentially influences the songs sung, the dances crafted, and more. I might be overly critical right now, but it is something to consider.

Anyhow, back on track, AOA is seemingly ran by mainly female staff members, which is a nice change, and considering Youngsun holds the director position, that is also great. And to finally properly answer the question of why having females work behind-the-scenes in the K-Pop industry matters, AOA solely exists due to Youngsun; FNC Entertainment homes a lot of male artists, but until Youngsun voiced her opinion, only then did the company decide to create a female group. While AOA’s director is very harsh and scary to the ladies, she does care a lot towards the members. In fact, it was touching to see that Youngsun did accept the group’s request to hug her (on the other side, it is very humorous to see the members stutter and hesitate when speaking to her) and that, according to rumors among the members/staff, she cried when “Miniskirt” won first place on music shows.

In summary, and apologies for such a random, excessive story, I personally appreciate that FNC Entertainment hears out Youngsun’s opinion and respects her rightfully deserved position, and that she is able to have influence and control of AOA. After all, if K-Pop is truly universal, everyone’s thoughts need to be heard, regardless of gender. This also prompts another idea in my head (and at this point you may be thinking “goodness-forbid”). I could elaborate on the idea of how female groups tend to be heavily criticized versus male groups, but I will probably save this discussion for another time. Sadly, this type of criticizing of females is not restricted to K-Pop groups; in some societies, ladies have the obstacle of being exceptionally scrutinized and analyzed for everything (especially those with higher authority positions).

Ironically, despite being a “speed review,” I have increased the duration. Perhaps I should do a standard review with how lengthy this review has already become. I will still try the concise Song Structure idea, and depending on whether my writing languishes even more, I can gauge if “speed reviews” are worth it or not.

With that said and with hopefully some interesting background added, we will finally start the review. Besides “Like a Cat,” this song, “Miniskirt,” has been one I have enjoyed. This song did net them their first first place win, and justly so. For the most part. As expected, the ladies of AOA are tackling their standard mature concept, and knowing that these ladies are definitely sexy due to their hard work, intelligence, positive attitudes, and more, it is fitting. Let’s see why their older song of “Miniskirt” earned them a first place win (or, potentially, why that should not be the case).

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Song Total Score: 7/10 (7/10 raw score) – Average score of the sub-categories

– Vocals: 7/10 – Recalling my previous review on this group’s latest song, “Like a Cat,” I actually ponder over whether my score there was correct. Perhaps an 8 would have been more appropriate for that song. Digression aside, for “Miniskirt,” I am confident with a 7, above average. For this song, the ladies are putting forth decent vocals. There is a diverse range of notes, the melody proves to be catchy and smooth, and a special component about this song, there are lots of alternating voices. In terms of the singing style, “Miniskirt” follows a calmer state, although towards the end, powerful vocals are released. Everyone also manages to pull their own weight; every line was definitely solid.

Above average vocals in “Miniskirt.” While they hold their ground of having decent vocals, nothing in this song pushes it beyond that. This may be due to individual singers failing to be exceptionally stunning, but nevertheless, the vocals are far from being sheer average. Every member had above average vocals, which, once again, is not terrible at all, but as a result, it leads to the song’s overall vocals reflecting that rating.

– Song Structure: 7/10 (7/10 raw score)

The song goes in this structure and order:

Introduction, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Post-Chorus, Rap, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Post-Chorus, Bridge, Conclusion (Post-Chorus)

1. Introduction: 7/10 – Being the first prototype for a shorter Song Structure section, my plan is to simply explain my given score. I will not be describing the section. I am hoping readers will not get confused on which section is which, but as always, hearing feedback would be great.

Anyhow, Jimin handles the introduction.

A solid aspect to this introduction is how simplistic it is; a simple beat and Jimin’s vocals are the only things added. On the subject of the beats, they occurred with Jimin’s voice and a piano-related sound (once again, forgive me for my ignorance on instruments). While individually all three parties are plain, when combined, solid chemistry is created. Jimin’s added “Hey” followed the same rhythm as the beat and sound. “Miniskirt” possesses a compact introduction. The song’s slower pacing is established, the beats and sound heard will recur later, and Jimin’s added lines creates anticipation towards potential vocals later heard.

Overall, above average will be the score. Simplicity is beauty. By using simple beats and such, “Miniskirt” manages to grasp a decent score. The slower beats and sound entices listeners, and Jimin’s words add a catchy, amplifying effect due to proper syncing to the sounds. What does prevent a higher score is potentially dullness; the same sounds were practically recycled for the entire introduction. Thankfully, however, that issue is on the minor side, and with the introduction being shorter and having solid yet subtle build-up, the issue is easily dismissible.

2. Verse: 7/10 – Hyejeong and Choa handle the only verse in the song.

Coming after the introduction, the verse does an excellent job of transitioning. Focusing on the section itself, knowing both of these ladies are very adept singers, the vocals are rather promising. Hyejeong and Choa stretch out the endings of their lines, and as a result, the melody becomes more varied and diverse. Furthermore, with a calmer stretch, it complements the developing instrumental. Choa and Hyejeong’s lines proved to be charming and full of tune.

Overall, an above average verse. The ladies’ singing vastly contributed to this section. Their lines were well sung. A sweet melody and proper pacing was heard. Another notable feature is how well the verse progresses; vocals were slowly brought in along with the instrumental. If the verses left a stronger impression, perhaps an 8 would be possible. While the singing and development were good, nothing utterly stands out in the verse. Nevertheless, a decent section worthy of a 7.

3. Pre-Chorus: 7/10 – Four members handle the pre-choruses: Chanmi, Mina, Hyejeong, and Seolhyun.

To instantly shed light on perhaps the strongest aspect of the pre-choruses, the line distribution is beautiful. Of the four members mentioned earlier, they each are responsible for one line. By having such a dynamic format, it brings lots of variety in terms of voices, and in general, the alternation leaves a solid impression of multiple singers. In terms of the singing itself, the vocals heard continued the established trend of remaining gentle and melodic, and during this section, Hyejeong showcases lovely high notes.

In summary, the diversity is welcoming; four members sung, different notes were utilized, and the melody varied. Additionally, despite the copious amount of variations and complexity, it was all germane and cohesive. The four ladies alternating was well coordinated, and even Hyejeong’s higher notes at “haihil” and “seutaking” were within the song’s established boundaries of pitches (and yes, if you are thinking those Korean words sound awfully similar to the English words of “high heel” and “stockings,” you are correct; those words mean exactly what they sound). Although this section seems worthy of an 8, a 7 will still hold as the score. The vocals do continue the song’s style, and while they are not necessarily weak, the singing does not prove to be stunning enough to receive a higher score. The pre-choruses possess an amazing format, but when factoring in the vocals, it comes out as above average, which, of course, is still decent.

4. Chorus: 7/10 – Yuna and Choa handle the choruses. As some readers may know, I am a huge fan of Choa’s singing and her personality these ladies are arguably the strongest vocalists in AOA. Both of them are stellar singers, and with that, high expectations are set.

As foreseen, the singing here is solid; both Choa and Yuna are bringing in energy, smooth and soothing vocals, and some note stretching. Taking a more detailed approach, for the note stretching, when “ipgo” is sung, the ending becomes lengthened, and the melody follows suit with varying. While individually it provides an interesting and catchy part, it vastly aids the chorus in that it provides contrast to the following line; the line after is noticeably faster and more energetic.

Overall, solid singing from the adept combo of Yuna and Choa. While the singing was solid, as a whole section, unfortunately, nothing pushes the choruses towards being exceptionally captivating. Perhaps by having more variation (both of them followed the same format; the first line has a note stretch, then after would be the faster line) this section would be more promising, but nevertheless, it holds as above average with a 7. On the positive side, the two ladies disclose why they can be viewed as AOA’s top singers.  

5. Post-Chorus: 6/10 – For the post-choruses, every member, for the most part, sings (those who have seen AOA during their “Miniskirt” era on the variety show “Weekly Idol” will recall the humorous incident related to everyone singing; a live, perfect version of the post-chorus is rather strenuous), but ignoring the full group humming, for the individual lines that occur, the members of Hyejeong, Choa, Seolhyun, and Yuna are responsible for them.

Format-wise, the post-choruses have potential, but sadly, they fall slightly short. The post-choruses follow the structure of having everyone hum to a melody, and after that, a member has a solo line. Firstly, the humming part, unfortunately, does come off as slightly stale. Unlike their latest song of “Like a Cat,” the humming here (although in the other song it was moreover chanting than humming) does not hold as infatuating. While it may be slightly catchy due to fluctuating tune, with how exceptionally fragile it sounds along with losing stable, sustained sounding vocals, the humming is on the weaker side. Focusing on the solo line, to highlight the strengths, it does provide a break and a change from solely the humming. Nevertheless, the solo lines were just that; they provided some variety, but individually, the solo lines fail to hold their own. Due to the shorter length, a melodic, catchier line would be near impossible, and thus, the sole purpose of the solo lines is to create some diversity.

Slightly above average will be the rating here. While the post-choruses are not too distasteful, more could have been expected. Ending on a positive note, AOA’s song producer made a promising revision to this style of post-choruses; “Like a Cat” has one of the catchiest post-choruses I have ever heard, and even after weeks, that part still retains its attention-grabbing attribute. Back on topic, the post-choruses in “Miniskirt” lack the stable vocals that have been heard up until this song section. If the humming was limited to and alternated between specific members, perhaps the tune would have been less sensitive and fragile sounding.  

6. Rap: 8/10 – Jimin, Mina, and Chanmi handle the rapping part. To note, however, it is arguably mainly Jimin rapping. Actually, more accurately phrased, Jimin is the only one rapping (technically, anyways). Mina and Chanmi add supporting, regular singing vocals.

After listening to many of AOA’s songs, Jimin’s talent as a rapper is something quite admirable. Thankfully, for “Miniskirt,” listeners are graced with her usual skills. Jimin’s rapping is impactful, lingering, and fluent. Additionally, being swift with her rap is not an issue. And, although I feel rather remorseful for somewhat bashing her voice in a previous review (and as explained, I am judging from a musical standpoint; every voice is genuinely beautiful), for this rap, it deserves praising for adding power and flow. To focus on Mina and Chanmi, although they did not necessarily rap (as a side note, Chanmi is a capable rapper, and Mina is a solid support vocalist), they aided Jimin through standard singing lines. In this song’s case, after Jimin finishes her entry rap line, Mina and Chanmi’s lines created a slight pause in the rap. Although typically raps remain uninterrupted, in “Miniskirt,” this method augments the section: more variety is created, the song still contains its style and trend of not being overly energetic, and Jimin’s rap gets further emphasis. Solid, delightful aspects become elicited due to this rap’s structure.

A higher score will be given. Despite not being a full rapping section, the breaks of Mina and Chanmi’s singing aid Jimin’s rap. Every member’s line were significant, and as a whole, it constructed a promising song section.

7. Bridge: 7/10 – The lovely duo of Yuna and Choa make a return for the bridge.

Having the vocals and instrumental showcase proper synergy is a solid aspect to the bridge. With a typical bridge format, the instrumental becomes passive. Yuna’s singing syncs up to that; her vocals reciprocate the piano’s gentle tunes by having a softer, exceptionally melodic style. Once the beats recur, Choa’s lines follow a similar rhythm. Furthermore, besides respectable syncing, a decent note hold is heard; the beats hyped the song back into its standard intensity, and to add a climactic piece, Choa tosses a powerful note hold.

Overall, above average will be the bridge. Both of the ladies’ singing were soothing and reflecting the instrumental. As for what remains slightly weaker, the format itself is rather plain and thus, nothing proves to be exceptionally impressive. “Miniskirt” possesses the typical build-up bridge; the format follows a pacified instrumental and vocals, and eventually, a rebound happens that leads to a note hold. Specifically for this song, the execution may be strong, but by possessing neither utterly stunning vocals or instrumental, a higher score will not be gained. If a standard format is utilized, “mechanical pieces” (vocals, the instrumental, etc.) become the main highlight, and in this bridge’s situation, the mechanical aspects only hold as above average.  

8. Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 7/10 – Finally, the conclusion. The post-chorus is reused, this time, however, Choa and Yuna perform two-part singing via note holds.

There are mixed feelings towards this song’s conclusion. Quickly addressing the satisfactory components, using the post-chorus leaves a lasting remnant of “Miniskirt.” Considering it is a conclusion, that achieved effect is desirable. Also, the two-part singing format is not too poor. In many cases for a conclusion, two-part singing is rather effective at giving a final climactic point or, at the very least, leaving a powerful finish. What remains questionable is not necessarily the two-part singing itself, but instead, the execution behind it. While the note holds feel natural due to the previous note hold at the bridge, there is a sharp contrast that occurs: the fragile, sensitive humming and the stronger, piercing note holds sound unfitting next to one another. With the contrast, the note holds seemingly have extra strain, which often time is loathed during note holds since they should be executed smoothly with power and melody.

Peering at the section as a whole, it will still hold as above average. The strain emphasized can be overlooked, and for a conclusion, the main roles are still met along with some high note flaunting. Perhaps keeping solely Choa’s note hold at the bridge would solve the issues, but overall, a decent conclusion to “Miniskirt.”

– Line Distribution: 6/10 – To quickly give my opinion on the “speed review” structure, I hardly saved any time. Future speed reviews will probably need to be whittled down further by removing the summarizing piece (more on this will be at the very end of the review).

On topic, with 7 members in AOA, it should not be too difficult to share an equal amount of lines. Recalling my review on “Like a Cat,” they did surprisingly struggle slightly with how lines were shared (and hopefully their distribution in ”Con-Choa and Yuna-fused" “Confused” never returns in the future). Knowing the amount of shifting members in this song, a high score can be anticipated.

Choa was involved at the verse, choruses, a solo line at the post-choruses, and lastly, the bridge. No major issue is present, however, Choa might be slightly dominating. Depending on the other members’ share, Choa’s excessive lines may be a downfall.

Jimin’s parts were her standard ones (or at least, a plethora of their main songs follow this pattern); AOA’s leader handled the introduction, and of course, the rapping section. Sufficient spotlight is given. The introduction leaves a potent presence of Jimin, and considering her reputation of being a rapper, the rap section gave her a welcoming moment. Overall, a perfect amount of time was allocated for her.

Yuna will be the next member to gauge. Her lines were heard at the choruses, the post-choruses, and the bridge. Homogenous to Choa’s case, Yuna is responsible for multiple sections, but in terms of what is more beneficial, Yuna does not possess excessive lines. Being a main vocalist, the amount of time given here is perfect; Yuna was given enough time to showcase her talent, but likewise, was not singing a vast majority of the song. If my memory is correct, even in “Like a Cat,” her line distribution remains near perfect. No issues here whatsoever.

Hyejeong’s lines were heard at the verse, pre-choruses, and the one-line post-chorus section. Ignoring the verse, Hyejeong’s lines were mainly single ones. Nevertheless, her time was spread out properly, and due to that, no major problem arises. The only wish would be for an additional, lengthier section, but considering how miniscule that issue is, for the most part, Hyejeong had an appropriate share.

Taking a side note for Mina, my condolences goes to her due to an unfortunate incident; her father passed away a while back. Although she is now back with AOA and such, I hope her future comes with luxury and positivity. Her father raised a wonderful, extremely intelligent and talented lady. It is unfortunate that Mina had to endure such a lost. Bringing back a cheerier tone, Mina’s part in “Miniskirt” were the pre-choruses and the rap section. Sadly, in both sections, Mina handled solely one line. A slightly redeeming factor is that the pre-chorus is replayed, and thus, more spotlight, but overall, Mina is lacking in comparison to the other members. More time could have been given.

Once again, for another digression, Seolhyun was absent for the promotion part of “Miniskirt.” From what I know, she had a knee/leg/ankle injury, and thus, was incapable of performing on any live stage performances. Now to answer how she got injured, using my own vague knowledge (and for those who desire accuracy, I simply recommend searching around for the proper answer), she was attending a sports/athletic-related show when she got her injury. This also reminds me, I could start bashing a specific show that exploits idols for athletic purposes (there are a lot of subtle yet negative aspects to this show), but for the sake of time, I will skip it. Anyhow, thankfully, in the future comeback of “Like a Cat,” Seolhyun was able to perform, and therefore, experienced her first first-place stage performance win (and fans will remember her waterfall of tears backstage due to that). Now to finally be on topic, Seolhyun’s lines were at the pre-choruses and the post-choruses. Like Mina, her lines were purely single ones; she had one line at the pre-chorus, and one line at the post-chorus. Hearing some actual singing time, such as in Hyejeong’s case with the verse, would be desirable.

Lastly, Chanmi, the maknae of AOA (youngest person) has lines during the pre-choruses and the rap. With having the exact spotlight as Mina, it can be concluded that Chanmi is slightly absent of lines. More lines could have been bestowed, and interestingly, despite being a support rapper, she did not have a rapping spotlight to display.

Overall, although on the surface “Miniskirt” seemingly discloses equal, properly shared lines, the reality holds as somewhat weak. Yuna, Jimin, and Hyejeong had a proper amount of lines while Choa was slightly dominating, and for Mina, Chanmi and Seolhyun, they were on the lacking side. Slightly above average will hold as the Line Distribution score. It was not utterly one-sided, but even with their vocal/rapping roles, a better share should been given.

– Instrumental: 8/10 – Simplicity is a strong factor to the instrumental of “Miniskirt.” Every sound holds as rather basic; the beats, pacing, melody, and flow are all on the average side and contain little complexity. Due to the simpler setup, the instrumental becomes versatile. Individually, the soundtrack is soothing and gives off a classier and gentle yet catchy tune. When accounting for the vocals, it provides a sound foundation (no pun intended) that the vocals can manipulate; stronger vocals are supported by a more energetic instrumental, and blatantly, the opposite holds true when the vocals are more relaxed.

Personally, I find it rather hard to decide between an 8 or 7. In the end, after listening to the official instrumental, I will rate it at an 8. It remains solid in multiple categories: individually it holds well, in unison with vocals it holds well, and with syncing up to the vocals’ intensity it holds well. Furthermore, it is a simple and classier-themed soundtrack. A solid score is to be expected.

– Meaning: 7/10 – With a song title of “Miniskirt,” many listeners are probably pondering at the meaning. Will it be about a lady showing off her charms? Or perhaps it will be a flirtatious story. And to share some background about this song, from what I recall when it was released (back before I became obsessed with these incredible ladies was keeping updated with AOA), this song was controversial. I will discuss this in the “bonus” section of the Meaning score, but to quickly share my opinion, in no way is this song anywhere near controversial. Although it may seem questionable in terms of lyrics and choreography, this song does not warrant a lot of horrible name-callings that I have seen. Besides, I find it rather–to be blunt– stupid, that people would direct anger at the lyrics and choreography towards the ladies when the veracity shows the song producers and choreographers are the ones to blame.

Anyhow, let us take a look at the lyrics to find out what “Miniskirt” is about. As always, these lyrics are not 100% accurate, but through these translated Korean-to-English lyrics, the story should be unveiled:

Hey, hey, hey, AOA, hey, hey, hey
Brave Sound (Drop it)

Your eyes that look at me
It’s not the same as before
I’m still good-looking
But why do you look at me like I’m a worn-out shoe?

I’m so pretty, whatever I wear
I’m so sexy, even if I don’t show skin
My risky high heels, black stockings
You won’t be able to take your eyes off of me, don’t stop me

When I wear a miniskirt
and walk on the street, everyone looks at me
I’m wearing a miniskirt
But why are you the only one who doesn’t know?

I’m a confident girl, but why are you making me struggle?
You only ignore me, I don’t know where I’ll bounce off to

I make time to get my nails done and change my hair
I wear new shoes and wear a miniskirt but you don’t notice
Why are you so indifferent?
Before other wolves come snatch me away,
pay attention boy

I’m so pretty, whatever I wear
I’m so sexy, even if I don’t show skin
My risky high heels, black stockings
You won’t be able to take your eyes off of me, don’t stop me

When I wear a miniskirt
and walk on the street, everyone looks at me
I’m wearing a miniskirt
But why are you the only one who doesn’t know?

I’m a confident girl, but why are you making me struggle?
You only ignore me, I don’t know where I’ll bounce off to

I’m getting more and more tired
Even your eyes that look at me, why is it so cold?
I don’t know,
but it’ll change now

I’m a confident girl, but why are you making me struggle?
You only ignore me, I don’t know where I’ll bounce of

Before we have some fun, let’s focus back to the musical aspect of this song. This story depicts a “girl” (correct term would be lady) who is attempting to grab her love-interest’s attention. Unfortunately, the boy remains apathetic; despite the lady’s new and chic fashion, “high heels” and “black stockings,” and even with getting “nails done,” the love-interest does not care. Heart-breaking for the lover, the lyrics in “Miniskirt” are rather unique. Most lyrics around the story of love tend to be either more flirtatious, or on the other spectrum, rather melancholy in describing a break-up. However, in this song, while it remains in the flirting category, it is a one-sided relationship. The lover invests plenty of time to impress the love-interest, but ultimately still fails.

Above average will be the score due to a differing approach to the same, tedious lyrics of flirting. Additionally, the details here are slightly varying and support the idea of how the lover is being rejected. Examples of the lady’s new clothing and cosmetics showcase her struggles at infatuating her love-interest.

Now it is time for the bonus section, and now that I have been doing this for a while, perhaps an official title such as the “Critical Corner” will eventually be made. I will attempt to find a title that will not induce cringes. Firstly, I will address one common reaction to this song that goes along the phrasing of “This song is offensive; ladies should not be depicted as only dressing to impress males.” While that statement is true in its underlying meaning, it is also hindered. Females should feel free to dress as they wish, for whatever they wish. Should a lady desire to dress nicely, it should not be assumed she is attempting to attract people. However, should a lady dress in an exquisite manner in order to captivate her love-interest, such as the character in this song, then that is also acceptable. It is short-sighted to view only one side of this spectrum. Regardless of gender, the ability to dress without warranting uncalled and undesired attention or remarks should be granted. If a lady wishes to look charming for her love-interest, then no issues should arise. If a gentleman desires to dress up for the sole sake of looking nice, then no assumptions should be made.

Progressing to the next controversial piece, it is a comment that analyzes the lyrics: “ ‘Miniskirt’ is offensive and objectifies females as only sexual beings; wearing a miniskirt, high heels, stockings and such only support that idea.” Again, we have an idea where the underlying meaning is correct, but once again, this sight falls short. Here is a serious question to ponder over: Why would wearing a miniskirt be objectifying? Also, who says wearing a miniskirt is inappropriate/objectifying? My personal stance on this is no, miniskirts are not objectifying. What a lady wears should not matter. It is the spectator who determines what is objectifying, not the clothing itself. Females should be able to wear whatever they desire to without warranting unwanted hate or in extreme yet common cases, sexual assaults. What does create objectification is when the clothing or what else is solely emphasized on sexual purpose; there is a significant difference between seeing a lady wearing a miniskirt and saying “she looks very nice today, good for her” and “her revealed legs makes sex desirable with her” (and how awkward it is to type that; even at my current age, the subject of sex still makes me blush). In summary, it is not a crime for a lady to wear clothing that are “questionable” when it should not create any disruptions whatsoever in the first place. And before someone tries to loophole my point, yes there is still a line between appropriate dressing and not, but I am being realistic here with examples such as miniskirts, high heels, stockings, make-up, and more. If my argument is slightly confusing, apologies for not formulating my thoughts correctly.

For the sake of progressing the review, I will cut it off here. As a final message, “Miniskirt” is nowhere near controversial as people make it out to be. It is pitiful and saddening to see the general conclusion is that the song is offensive, when in reality, it is not. If people gained the mentality of seeing females as humans, then all the controversy surrounding this song would not exist in the first place.

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Choreography Score: 7/10 – In case some readers are too worked up over my previous words due to either agreeing or disagreeing (which is actually good; getting worked up over matters that I would consider important is great), before we hop back into the musical perspective, I will share a somewhat jocular story. As noticed in the dance practice, the ladies of AOA are wearing high heels (and other apparels that match up to the lyrics). Besides taking time to admire their skills for being able to dance in them (and credit to other idols as well; even males with insoles to increase their height deserve credit), I will admit I can confirm the difficulty of maneuvering in high heels. And before people get an inaccurate idea, let me tell the story of “My High Hell Experience.” No, “Hell” is not a typo, and apologies if anyone is offended. I should re-label the story, but I believe hell is very accurate word to describe my experience.

This was back when I was perhaps around 6 or 7 years old. Since I am too lazy to do the math I do not quite recall the age, I do remember it was around 5th grade, so let that be the age gauge. Anyhow, my family went on a camping trip and I was wearing sandals. Key word: I was. They ended up snapping at the end, and therefore, were unusable. Lucky and unluckily, instead of walking in splinters and such, my mom happened to bring along high heels. And before someone asks “who brings those to camping trips?” I will say, I asked the same thing. But to answer it, they were not exactly high at all; the heel happened to be more elevated by a very minimal margin than the front. Now, I was graced with not rejecting it due to the idea of gender limitations on objects, but instead, I was resistive since they looked intimidating to walk in. But, being a little boy that would accept anything, I attempted to walk around in them. Key word once more: attempted. I staggered over everything, and instead of walking, I ended up sliding the high heels instead of lifting my foot. Eventually a few more minutes passed, and I felt more confident. Perhaps my incredible journey of shifting a few feet was an admirable milestone, but I decided to genuinely lift my foot up. First step was well, but the second one ended up causing the shoe to tilt sideways, and of course, my entire being tumbling over. With both luck and perhaps some agility, I managed to land a foot away from the campfire (thank goodness it was covered by a metal circle and a grill top), but I nevertheless felt as if I nearly met the environment of hell (or in my little boy version, “becoming chicken”). Fast forward, my cousins donated me an extra pair of sandals, but I will never forget the valuable lesson I learned. Ignoring the obvious one of how fire can kill, even to this day, I still hold a subtle admiration at people who can walk in elevated shoes, be it high heels or added insoles. Now, what does this have to do with AOA and “Miniskirt”? Perhaps more respect at their coordination and dexterity, but at the very least, should you ever become a parent/are one, do not let your little boy or girl wear high heels near a campfire.

Back on topic after an extremely silly story, let us go back to the K-Pop world of AOA and “Miniskirt.” The choreography here may be considered slightly sexual, but unlike other songs, AOA pulls it off in an artistic manner. And without diving into another discussion, refer back to the Meaning section and think of this dance as a lady wearing a miniskirt; it is not necessarily a crime for AOA to execute this dance as long as it is taken as a choreography, and not seen from a sheer sexual perspective (and I think this phrasing/idea was what I was trying to articulate earlier).

“Miniskirt” ‘s choreography may be on the more mature and sexually-orientated side, and ignoring the social aspects and focusing on the pure dance, this is somewhat concerning. Typically, sexually-orientated choreographies are inhibited; emphasis on a body part or such often time reduces the dance maneuver down to a very basic, and incoherent motion. Surprisingly, this does not apply in this dance, and thus, even with the sexual-orientated part, the choreography remains intact.  

Breaking the dance apart, in terms of the syncing, it is very accurate. Beats are connected with a certain movement, and for what this song does well, even the musical flow is linked to a dance maneuver. For example, the pre-choruses and more clearly, the post-choruses have movements that connect to the pacing of the song such as slow movements. In terms of key points, most hold as solid. Every dance set was unique and varying from the rest. Transitions from each one were also well done. In terms of the weaker key points, the post-chorus was a bit plain, although nevertheless well synced. Positively, however, the bridge key point dance is somewhat mediocre. The transition to it was beautiful, and the addition of chairs added a new dimension. What holds it back, however, was the sexually-oriented piece; everything leading up to it was perfectly synced, but once that moment occurred, the choreography became completely unsynced and moreover chaotic. At the very least, it does shift back to being decent to conclude properly.

Overall, despite being hefty on the sexual side, the choreography remains well synced with the song. Key points were also solid. The bridge section remains as a double-edged sword; everything was incredibly synced and stunningly executed until the butt-shaking took hold. Above average will hold as the score. While sexually-oriented parts should be questioned and critically analyzed, the choreography still contains proper syncing and solid key points. If the bridge was revamped slightly, a higher score could be possible.

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Overall Score: 7/10 (7/10 raw score) – With both the Song Total Score and Choreography Score being rated at a 7, the Overall Score will be the average of that which results in a 7. I do agree with the Overall Score; above average seems to be a proper label for “Miniskirt” in regards to both the song and dance.

Although I am on break, I am taking sleeping time off just to catch up on reviews, but I cannot complain and I feel at rest knowing I finished this review. This review, ironically, took longer despite being a “speed review,” so I will definitely revisit my idea. I will attempt to cut out the summarizing piece in the Song Structure section, so once again, another experiment will have to unfold.

As always, thank you very much for reading. Considering I have been slacking, if you have been checking back regardless of my slower rate, it means a lot and I cannot express enough gratitude. I will do my best to improve my rate and quality of reviews.

For those wondering on future reviews, I will finally begin a very old requested review, and I feel extremely guilty and ashamed for being this lethargic. Thank you for waiting, it will be finished soon. After that review, I have a lot in mind, so let’s hope I create a concise format soon in order to cover the plethora of songs in mind.

That said, this seems to be a proper place to end this review. I have some “Winter Time” songs I want to review for the time of winter. Whether you celebrate a holiday or not, hopefully this time is a great moment to spend time with loved-ones. Anyhow, thank you once more for reading this. I appreciate the support, and please feel free to send feedback and even ideas for concising down my reviews. After all, as my incredible teacher has mentioned, although I cannot quote her exactly, shorter writing means more ideas are bundled and expressed more efficiently and precisely. Anyhow, more pondering on that later as I would like to sleep. Keep checking back for more reviews. Remember, you are “sexy, even if [you] don’t show skin” because sexiness should be reconstructed and redefined to be more realistic. Being hard working, friendly, and intelligent and more is what determines sexiness, not physical attributes. Stay tuned and thanks once again for reading.

Junggigo – “Too Good” Review

Junggigo (ft. Minwoo) – Too Good (Music Video w/ lyrics)

Junggigo ft. Minwoo of Boyfriend – Too Good

Reviewed on December 14, 2014

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Personal Message: Before the review starts, I would like to mention a quick thank you for the support with my previous review of T-ARA’s “Little Apple.” Perhaps it is due to T-ARA’s soaring popularity, but that review was well received by many of my readers, so for that, I am very grateful. That also reminds me, T-ARA did have a dance practice video. I slightly regret not finding it sooner, for it clearly depicts how flawlessly synced the choreography was. At the very least, I can rest knowing an 8 was an accurate score given for the choreography section. Interestingly, however, “Little Apple” was still within its revision stages; the audio used for the dance practice was different in multiple areas in comparison to the official version.

Anyhow, for this review, we will be looking at a requested song (I’m always open to requests, so feel free to send them in; it’s a great way to interact with my readers). I will be covering Junggigo’s song of “Too Good.” Many will recognize his name; after all, he had a very successful duet song of “Some” with Sistar’s Soyu. From that sweet, romantic ballad, I became very fond of Junggigo’s singing. Although he is embarrassed by the nickname, “Honey Vocals Junggigo” (something along those lines if I recall in an interview) is quite accurate; his voice is exceptionally soothing, and as the name states, very sweet and gentle. While we are on the subject of duet, although “duet” would be an overstatement for this song, a featured person does appear: Boyfriend’s Minwoo. For those who have read my review on Boyfriend’s “Witch,” Minwoo was the main rapper of that song. Due to his specialty in that category, and with both singers being in the same label company of Starship Entertainment, for Junggigo’s song of “Too Good,” Minwoo is featured in a rap section.

Focusing on the song now, “Too Good” is a K-Drama OST (original sound track) for the drama of “High School: Love On.” This is not the first drama OST I have reviewed; Lena Park’s “Only With My Heart” was the first one. Coincidentally, both songs are not only K-Drama OSTs, but they are also ballads and both have been requested for review. On what is different, Junggigo’s song will not induce tears and sadness is more cheery and vastly more upbeat than Lena Park’s song.

Back on topic with “Too Good,” I will fill in some background about the drama according to a friend/teammate (if this is inaccurate, I will blame her Edit: Only the general ideas are accurate. To give a revamped version, the angel’s job was to “transition” people to the “after-life,” but instead, she broke the rules to save her future love-interest. As a result of saving the boy, she lost her angel status, and thus, became a human; a normal high school student like the person she saved). “High School: Love On” is, if romantic love stories are not already, somewhat cheesy in that it tells the story of an angel who, despite her angel mentor’s advice and his distaste towards humans, decides to go to Earth in order to become human. Why? Due to love. She has fallen in love with a high school boy. Yes, “love makes you do crazy things” is completely applied here.

Now, while I love ridiculous, cheesy love plots the drama may seem somewhat absurd (although another drama does follow a similar path; “You Who Came From the Stars” showcased a plot where, instead of an angel, an alien tries becoming human since he fell in love with a lady), thankfully, the song by Junggigo still remains outstanding. On a random note, I could link the music video of this song instead of an audio version, but since it showcases scenes from the drama, many readers would be confused at it. For example, for those confused on why she does not understand the concept of getting hit by a car and the physics associated with such, it is because of exactly that; she does not understand human life (nor love, I would assume, since that would create a romantic, jocular tone). I may add the music video, though, considering the lyrics are included and that there are a multitude of cute, romantic scenes. If not, a simple search of “Junggigo Too Good” will find it. Although the general opinion is that love stories are too ridiculous, I confess, I am a fan of them for the most part. Or at the very least, I would prefer watching love dramas over ones that include gore and such.

With all of that said, Junggigo offers his incredible vocals for this K-Drama OST. “Too Good” is a melodic, soothing yet upbeat ballad that will captivate listeners on the sole basis of his voice. Hopefully the song title is an accurate representation of the song itself; let’s take a look and see if this song is truly “Too Good.”    

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Song Total Score: 7/10 (7.25/10 raw score) – Average score of the sub-categories

– Vocals: 9/10 – With Junggigo, a very high score is anticipated. The vocals in this song are melodic, smooth, soothing, and as his nickname implies, very sweet with the romantic tone of “Too Good.” Being an adept singer, his singing is rather versatile; the range of slow and calm to powerful and upbeat is seen. During slower and calmer sections, his voice drifts off as extremely comforting, and for the upbeat parts, very charismatic and energetic. Furthermore, Junggigo’s note range is equally adaptable; high and low pitches are heard. If “Some” has not proven his talent, this OST ballad speaks for that. Junggigo is an incredible vocalist, and with such a sweet and charming voice, ballads are easily dominated by him.

Overall, amazing vocals exist in this song. For a ballad, everything is included. His singing brings in emotions, varying melodies and pacing, and it has both aspects of being soothing yet upbeat.

– Song Structure: 7/10 (7.43/10 raw score)

The song goes in this structure and order:

Introduction (Verse), Verse, Chorus, Post-Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Post-Chorus, Bridge, Rap, Chorus, Post-Chorus, Conclusion

1. Introduction (Verse): 8/10 – Strangely, the introduction is using another song section. I believe this is the first song I’ve reviewed that has utilized this, but nevertheless it proves to be promising. To keep it less confusing, the verse itself will be discussed in-depth at the verse section. Instead, I will simply address whether the introduction benefits from this style.

Although it seems rather unusual to have a song dive straight into its core without a proper setup, “Too Good” manages to pull it off. Considering the verses are on a relatively lethargic pace, the introduction does not come off as too potent. The instrumental also follows suit with the pacing.

A methodical, patient setup occurs due to the verses’ original format and style, and as a result, a standard introduction becomes rather obsolete. The verses in “Too Good” work both roles as an introduction and verse. While I won’t dive into the actual verses here, considering how solid they are and the aspect of how the verses’ format fit as an introduction role, a higher score will be given. A proper setup occurs; melodic vocals are showcased, and the song’s overall mood and structure are unveiled.

2. Verse: 8/10 – Peering more closely at the verses, they hold as outstanding. For the most part, they all follow the same structure.

The verses begin slowly with both vocals and instrumental. Junggigo’s utilizes lower notes at the start. In terms of the melody, it differs and changes throughout the section. Eventually at the end, he does hit a higher note to conclude.

Looking at a verse entirely, it is exceptionally well done. With starting off slow, it creates a steady yet solid build-up. Another benefit is also gained: lower notes. Due to the verse’s initial rate, lower notes perfectly fit and that adds a smooth component to the verses. Focusing on the flow and melody, with Junggigo’s captivating voice, that in itself augments the softer tone that is bestowed. At the very end, Junggigo does toss in a higher note. This allows a proper shift to the next section, and in addition, some diversity is seen in regards to the notes. Instead of hearing solely slower and lower pitched lines, an energetic one is added.

Overall, an exceptionally charming section. This section definitely holds a solid score, and if I were being biased, I would add even more points. Junggigo’s voice utterly suits this section; lines became additionally gentle and soothing. Excellent pacing and build-up, varying notes, and a fantastic, soothing melody are the winning aspects to this section.  

3. Chorus: 8/10 – Strangely, although not completely alien, the song dives straight into the chorus. Considering how the verse worked, however, this is acceptable; the previous section did subtle build-up for the song as a whole, and the transition ended on an impactful line that would suit a chorus.

For this part, Junggigo’s stronger vocals are heard. The instrumental also follows suit with bringing in more energy. In terms of his lines, the first two were impacting, and they had stretched endings. After that, Junggigo resumed a standard singing pace backed with a pleasing melody.

Knowing Junggigo’s singing is in its prime here, a solid section can be expected. Powerful vocals are showcased here. This works out perfectly considering the previous sections, the verses, end on a higher note. Thus, the higher level of intensity seen at the chorus fits the established trend and structure. Focusing on the melody, Junggigo’s hitting a variety of notes although most of them are within the same range. An interesting aspect was also how the melody was “stretched” at the beginning; while I won’t regard the first two lines as note holds, it showcased beautiful vocals. Additionally, the pacing switch prevents any staleness from occurring. Since the first two lines were slower and the remaining were faster, there is a lively flow to the section.

Overall, an impressive chorus in “Too Good.” Junggigo’s singing continues to be charming, and with a unique structure in terms of the pacing, melody, and vocal strength, a higher score will be given.

4. Post-Chorus: 7/10 – The post-chorus does have a subtle transition. Nevertheless, that should not be an issue, and this section is very definable and can be differentiated easily. All of the post-choruses are fully identical.

At the start, “Baby” is repeated three times. After that, a line follows it up. This entire format repeats for a total of three cycles, although for the very last line, an English line of “I’ll be always loving you” is utilized. Focusing on the singing, the “Baby baby baby” part takes the form of background vocals, and for the line that follows, it comes off as more prominent yet it remains gentle.

While the post-choruses are still decent, in comparison to the verses and choruses, this section does slightly falter. The use of “Baby baby baby” for background vocals allow a change in style to contrast the other sections, but this line is on the weaker side. Unlike the melodic singing Junggigo has shown, “Baby” remains lackluster; little energy is added nor is any pleasurable tune heard. The only asset is that the progressing line ends up sounding more impactful and becomes slightly emphasized, but other than that, the background vocals strip away the established sweet and melodic style of the song as a whole.

In the end, this section still holds as above average. Alternating lines of background to main vocals may add a varying section, but the background vocals were on the duller side. Nevertheless, for the other lines, Junggigo’s singing heavily compensates. The post-choruses are still decent sections, but juxtaposing it to the previous parts, it does become slightly overshadowed.

5. Bridge: 6/10 – The bridge of “Too Good” has potential, but unfortunately, it does not manage to hold as exceptionally spectacular.

This section initiates with an English line of “You’re my beautiful baby girl” (my opinion on this line will be at the Meaning section). A similar line, also in English, is sung after that first line. Now after that, Junggigo sings the final line in Korean. The final line does contain a stronger end.

Firstly, the initial singing took the form of background vocals, and homogenous to the post-choruses, the same issue of being dull occurs. Sadly, the background vocals has a longer duration here unlike the post-chorus. The contrast of how “Too Good” in its entirety is rather melodic hurts this section’s beginning; this background singing fails to fit the established standard. There is no pleasing melody, and the instrumental remains neutral and passive. To end on a positive note, when the main vocals are heard, Junggigo delivers the usual sweet tune and finishes the bridge with a perfectly suiting high note hold. That creates a solid wrap up, even if the beginning was rougher.

As mentioned earlier, this section has the proper structure to do well. It fits the overarching gentle and calmer tone since no insane note hold was used, and furthermore, it did not hold as utterly and absurdly passive. What does fail is the background vocals used; plain singing would have been more beneficial. Slightly above average is the rating here.

6. Rap: 7/10 – Finally, the section where Minwoo from the group Boyfriend raps.

Minwoo’s rap is accompanied by a slightly more passive instrumental. His rap maintains a decent speed and flow. In terms of the melody, the rap did not fluctuate too much with different notes, but nevertheless retained the softer atmosphere of the song.

Taking into account that seldom do ballads possess rapping sections, this part may seem somewhat unusual. Thankfully, however, Minwoo proves that raps in ballads are indeed viable. For his rap, the instrumental’s shift to becoming passive works out favorably; Minwoo’s rap becomes the sheer highlight. Looking at the rap itself, considering the song is a ballad, his style would need to utterly suit the romantic, sweet tone that has been created. In this situation, he succeeds. The pacing is slow enough so that it suits the ballad genre, and on the other side, sufficiently fast enough to prevent the rap from feeling lethargic. Onto his flow, words proved to be smooth; line after line, word after word, it was all rather fluent. In fact, certain word endings supported that: “deureowaseo” and “mannasseo” as well as “ani” and “sigani” are examples. When it comes to the melody, this is perhaps the weakest aspect to the rap. There was little diversity with pitches, but considering raps are not meant to be melody oriented, but rather, heavily focusing on speed and flow, it is a very miniscule issue.

In the end, an above average rap. Minwoo’s flow and speed were very suitable to the song as whole. Nothing was lacking nor overly done. The only issue derived from this section is something easily overlooked, although it will prevent potentially higher scores. A decent section nevertheless, and with how rare and difficult it is to craft a rap section in a ballad, accomplishing that feat is stunning.

7. Conclusion: 8/10 – While a final post-chorus does play out, I am counting the very last moment with the instrumental playing out.

For the conclusion, the instrumental and vocals run for a few seconds. Slowly, the instrumental fades away, and as expected, Junggigo’s vocals of “Oh” and such follow suit.

Even though the conclusion is rather short, it is a solid wrap-up to the song. Having the instrumental and vocals fade slowly leaves a lingering presence of the song. Additionally, it was a proper way to conclude “Too Good”; nothing was abrupt nor was it seemingly too long.

A solid conclusion for the beautiful ballad. It was concise, precise, and an important aspect, efficient. “Too Good” holds a satisfying end.

– Line Distribution: X/10 – Minwoo is only featured, so this song is still mainly a solo ballad. This will not be graded.

– Instrumental: 7/10 – The instrumental for “Too Good” is on the stronger side. Progression is a key aspect to the soundtrack; starting off slow and gradually becoming more complex aids the song as a whole. From the verse to post-chorus, and of course other sections, the instrumental’s intensity correlates to Junggigo’s singing. Solid chemistry is seen from both sides, and due to that, the song is vastly augmented. On that subject, when it comes to how well the instrumental suits the vocals, it does an excellent job. Considering that Junggigo is an outstanding singer, by having a soundtrack that simply adds a foundation layer to the song, Junggigo’s vocals are supported without leeching away attention. Lastly, for how well the soundtrack sounds on its own, it holds as solid as well. A cheerful, happier and romantic mood can be gleaned from the instrumental possessing graceful sounds. Adding on, the soundtrack proves to be soothing or energizing, similar to the singing.

Above average is the rating for the instrumental. It fulfills its role of helping the vocals and it remains delightful on its own.

– Meaning: 6/10 – With a song title of “Too Good” coupled by the fact that the K-Drama is related to a romantic plot, I am expecting some sweet, love-filled lyrics. Perhaps the lover believes their love-interest is “too good,” or that their life is now “too good” thanks to their love-interest. Anyhow, through these Korean-to-English translated lyrics, let’s uncover the story behind the song. As always, these lyrics are not 100% accurate due to pure translating, but with the music video also supplying lyrics, it should be very accurate:

It feels like I’m living in a dream every day
I’m still not used to this kind of life
When I’m with you, the stars twinkle during the day

I don’t want to meet anyone else but you
Without you, I don’t want to do anything
When I’m with my friends, I’m always thinking about you

You’re too much for me
You’re too good for me
Anyone can see you’re beautiful
Everyone wants you
I can’t believe you’re mine

Baby baby baby, you’re too much
Baby baby baby, you’re too good
Baby baby baby, today and tomorrow
I’ll be always loving you

When I see you, it feels like the whole world is mine
I don’t want to be anyone else but me
If it’s for you, I feel like I can do anything

You’re too much for me
You’re too good for me
Anyone can see you’re beautiful
Everyone wants you
I can’t believe you’re mine

Baby baby baby, you’re too much
Baby baby baby, you’re too good
Baby baby baby, today and tomorrow
I’ll be always loving you

You’re my beautiful baby girl (so beautiful)
You’re my only one baby girl
You’re more dazzling than the sun in the blue sky

Anyone can see that we’re so close now
You’re my sunshine, I’m your sunflower
I’m so glad that you came into my life
I was lost for a while but I finally met you
Our first meet was a bit awkward
It was no coincidence did you know?
Spending time with you and the flowers in full bloom
Even when the seasons change, I will like you a lot

You’re too much for me
You’re too good for me
Anyone can see you’re beautiful
Everyone wants you
I can’t believe you’re mine

Baby baby baby, you’re too much
Baby baby baby, you’re too good
Baby baby baby, today and tomorrow
I’ll be always loving you

“Too Good” ‘s lyrics positively unveil a love story. Reflecting back on the drama, these lyrics could perhaps reciprocate what the boy feels towards the angel. Anyhow, analyzing the lyrics from a neutral stance, the song tells a story of a lover who is exceptionally infatuated with his love-interest. Specifically in this case, and by adding in context of the drama, the lover is most likely the teenage boy who feels a certain way towards the girl, the angel who saved him. The boy feels as if he is in a “dream” since his love-interest is, as stated from the title, “too good.”

Overall, the lyrics prove to be very adorable and sweet. While I enjoy the love tone, it does remain rather lacking in details. Many ideas repeat, such as the concept of how the girl is “too good” and that his life has completely changed for the better thanks to her. Nevertheless, decent lyrics that will be rated as slightly above average. Extra details would easily bump it up to a 7.

Transitioning to the bonus part of the Meaning grading section, I will now take a more critical stance on some of the lyrics. I will not account this into the grading unless if something erroneous pops up. As mentioned earlier, there is the line of “baby girl” that is used at the bridge. Now, while the lyrics do depict a story of a boy and girl falling in love, “baby” is an understatement. An over-understatement, more precisely. While the connotation is sweet and all, I personally find it rather absurd; especially in a more realistic setting of love where, instead of teenagers, adults are the ones in love, being referred to as a “baby” would seem less charming than expected. Unless if there is literally a “baby girl” as the subject, it would be vastly better to find other delightful words to express love and care towards a love-interest.

I could also begin a rant towards how the lyrics place seemingly extra value towards physical beauty, but since it does not go in-depth towards the love-interest’s physical attributes, I will not bother going on a tangent on this topic. Nevertheless, I will reiterate that love is truthfully hardly based on physical attraction; a person’s intelligence, attitude, personality and such are the main factors to determining attraction. Additionally, beauty should be loosely attached to physical aspects. I will end it off here for the time being.

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Choreography Score: X/10 – With being a ballad and an OST, a dance is not included. This section will be excluded.

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Overall Score: 7/10 (7.25/10 raw score) – With only the Song Total Score being accounted for, this leaves “Too Good” with a 7/10, which is actually shockingly lower than expected. This song should be at an 8/10 I would imagine. Perhaps the Meaning score should have been a 7, but I will leave the score as is. Biasedly, I hold this song at an 8.

As always, thank you very much for reading this review. I apologize for being exceptionally delayed with reviews; it has been 8 days (I think) since I last posted, so huge apologies. I have been slacking with reviews. To compensate, a few speed reviews are in the work, and depending on how they go, I may opt to find a balance between my current style of reviews and a “speed review.” To the person who requested this, thank you so much for sharing an incredible song. I do feel ashamed, though, that this review is rather weak. Due to slightly rushing and having weaker writing for this review, I feel regretful and wish I could have done a better job. I will strive harder to improve my writing and reviews. Anyhow, thank you once more for sticking around and being patient. I sincerely appreciate every reader.

For those curious on upcoming reviews, I still have a requested song to finish, and along with that, a plethora of other songs I have been yearning to review. I have been multi-tasking and have begun a speed review, so I plan to quickly finish that one soon. Look forward to them, and with Winter Break coming soon, positively, reviews will come out rather quickly.

With all of that said, I believe this is a proper place to conclude this review. I am personally slightly frustrated at myself for writing a lacking review, but I will attempt to have a stronger one for next time. Thank you once more for reading, and to the requester, it has been a pleasure to receive this song. Expect MAMAMOO’s “Piano Man” to come out shortly along with other songs. Stay tuned and continue to check back. I will attempt to fix my current rate of reviews. “You’re too good for me,” so I will work harder to bring better reviews.

T-ARA – “Little Apple” Review

T-ARA – Little Apple (Audio)

T-ARA – Little Apple (Live Performance)

T-ARA – Little Apple (ft. Chopstick Brothers)

Reviewed on December 5, 2014

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Personal Message: A small change of plans occurred; I originally planned to review Girl’s Day’s “I Miss You,” but instead, I will review T-ARA’s recent collaboration. Before this review starts, there are multiple things to address with this song. Firstly, in regards to the links, I have linked a live performance along with the regular audio. The live performance’s audio is not clear at all, so the audio link is to compensate (although props to the ladies for solid live singing; according to an “MR removed” video, anyways).

Now, in terms of discussing a current rife “fear” of fans, many will notice only four members of T-ARA are involved for this collaboration. Let me say it once more: collaboration. And if the upper left-hand corner of “Special Stage” is not clear enough, this is not T-ARA’s official comeback; “Sugar Free” is still technically their latest song, but positively, that song still holds as their latest comeback. So, for fans fearing that T-ARA has booted out Boram and Soyeon, from what I personally can tell, that is not the case and it is simply due to only the other members being a part of this collaboration.

Transitioning to the mentioned subject of collaboration, for people who are familiar with either Korean and/or Mandarin, it is noticed that this song has both those languages; Korean is heard for every section minus the chorus, and Mandarin is heard at the chorus. The reason behind this is T-ARA worked with a currently trending and popular Chinese artist/duo, Chopstick Brothers. As heard in October (not sure), T-ARA’s label company, now known as MBK Entertainment (instead of CCM/Core Contents Media Entertainment), signed up with some Chinese media company in order to begin expanding their own media to the Chinese market. Fast forward a month, T-ARA has begun that expansion; they have cooperated with Chopstick Brothers to turn Chopstick Brothers’ song, “Little Apple,” into a Korean version. Anyhow, that is the background for this song, and thus, I would not consider this T-ARA’s comeback at all. On a somewhat unrelated note, MBK Entertainment’s CEO is known for manipulating ongoing trends in order to kickstart song releases (“Sugar Free” was during an EDM trend, “Lovey-Dovey” ‘s “shuffle” dance was during that trend, etc.), and not surprisingly, the same mentality occurs here. “Little Apple” was already a soaring and popular song, so having T-ARA recreating it in Korean is an easy way to flow with an established trend.

Now that sufficient excessive background information was given, let’s begin talking about the song itself. As stated, it is in both Korean and Mandarin, and that is a unique and welcoming combination. Personally, although I do not know Mandarin (I do know Cantonese, however), I was able to identify it instantly when heard. For a very short and horrible language lesson, for those wanting to know how to identify/differentiate the languages in T-ARA’s “Little Apple,” Korean has a “stronger syllable/distinct word ending” in comparison to Mandarin, which has a “combining syllable/word flow.” I sincerely cannot describe it well at all, but nevertheless, be welcoming and appreciate every language in this world; each one holds a lot of cultural meaning, and each one is deserving of respect. Anyways, perhaps my ability to identify Mandarin is due to my childhood being filled with my parents watching Mandarin films at times, or, most likely, Mandarin trot songs that were occasionally played (for those who are unfamiliar with the genre of trot, to describe it briefly, it, and apologies for my ignorance/lack of better phrasing, is “festive” in terms of the vocals coming off as slightly exaggerated; I truthfully cannot describe it, but with T-ARA’s trot section during the variety show, “Weekly Idol,” I am sure people have been exposed to the genre). Although many people may feel flustered, I think it is great that multiple languages are introduced in a song. Music is subtle yet capable with allowing some minimal language exposure. Besides, the standard Korean and English combo in K-Pop songs should be slightly more diverse.

In all seriousness, on the subject of the song itself (I apologize for my huge digressions), the term I used to describe this song was “stupidly catchy” since, if we were to systematically break it down (as we will once the review begins), it should not be too promising. However, despite the numerical values that will be assigned, even if they are on the lower rating, this song is exceptionally catchy (makes me ponder over the actual science behind what the human brain deems as “catchy”).

That said, the ladies of T-ARA involved are Eunjung, Jiyeon, Qri, and Hyomin. They are teaming up with Chopstick Brothers to deliver their Korean version of “Little Apple.” From the live performance and lyrics, this song does lean towards the sillier, jocular side, but nevertheless, the ladies prove to be very charming and cute. In fact, I will even throw in the term sexy considering these four ladies are incredibly intelligent, hard working, talented, and a countless list of other amazing attributes. With adorable hairstyles and blush makeup (although I personally am not a huge fan of that) and yellow jumpsuits (is that the correct vocabulary?), T-ARA attempts to induce smiles and laughter. While they may succeed with such, does their song hold as solid? We will find out.

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Song Total Score: 7/10 (6.6/10 raw score) – Average score of the sub-categories

– Vocals: 5/10 – If my ears are correct, Jiyeon was the only member who was singing in their usual voice. Everyone else, however, had to flip on the “ ‘Roly Poly’ vocals” as I call it; the other three members were singing in a childish, cheery demeanor. While that vastly aids the song with adding the fun, sillier atmosphere, in terms of vocals, that style is hardly impressive. T-ARA is definitely capable of achieving a 9 for vocals. “Number 9” and, especially through ballads such as “Hurt” and “Hide & Seek” (adding a biased note of how Soyeon’s voice is so soothing in those songs), it is very blatant that every lady of T-ARA is adept with singing. Unfortunately, due to the style of singing in “Little Apple,” the score is heavily impaired and does not hold their standard. The melody and flow might have been catchy, but as said before, catchiness does not correlate to how decent a song/singing is.

Overall, average vocals. The style might have been lighthearted and alluring, but in the aspect of showing solid singing skills or capturing attention via captivating vocals, the singing falls short..  

– Song Structure: 7/10 (6.5/10 raw score)

The song goes in this structure and order:

Introduction, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Conclusion

1. Introduction: 6/10 – It has been a while ever since I reviewed a song with a straight-forward structure. “Little Apple” follows the standard form perfectly and thoroughly.

In focus of the introduction, the song begins with a strange “approaching” sound. After that, the instrumental’s/song’s main melody is showcased through beats and such. Eventually, the song transitions to the verse.

For an introduction, it fulfills its role of preparing the song; the main melody is given, and the “poppier,” sillier tone is also set. Specifically looking at the instrumental, it comes off with a fun and upbeat appeal. The beats provided a heavier foundation, and the main melody sounds were rather catchy. In terms of weaker aspects, the initial seconds (that warping sound at the start) could have been potentially avoided. Even without it, the introduction would have still flowed smoothly. In addition, while the background beats and bass were providing a pleasing component, the main melody sounds, while very lingering and catchy, are not delightful individually; after all, hearing “dingdingding” becomes somewhat tedious and annoying.

As a whole, slightly above average. The initial seconds and the melody remained on the weaker side, but nevertheless, the melody was definitely catchy. Furthermore, the bass and beats emphasized that. If the main melody was less repetitive or had a better tint to it, this introduction would easily reach a 7.

2. Verse: 7/10 – For the verses, the pair of Qri and Eunjung handle them.

The verses begin with Qri singing in an absurdly higher pitched voice. Although her singing style remains questionable, in light of her melody, it matched up to the instrumental’s beats and rhythm. Once Eunjung arrives, she simply emulates Qri’s singing style and melody.

Firstly, the vocals here are rather mediocre; singing in a childish, somewhat nasally style is not appealing in terms of sound. On the bright side, it does aid the song’s upbeat mood. Ignoring the vocals, the lines’ melody and pacing were still quite catchy. Furthermore, the instrumental did a phenomenal job with remaining passive yet prominent; considering it is an early stage in the song, having an instrumental come off potently would be overwhelming, but thankfully, it was the perfect quantity.

The verses structurally have a lot of potential. The melody remains diverse and fun, the pacing was aligned with the instrumental, but unfortunately, the pure mechanical aspect of how the vocals sounded bring this section down. If Qri and Eunjung were singing in their usual voices, although some of the cheerier atmosphere might disappear, the verses could easily hit an 8. Above average will nevertheless hold as the score, but a higher score is definitely in reach if the vocals were improved.  

3. Pre-Chorus: 6/10 – Hyomin handles all of the pre-choruses.

The pre-choruses in “Little Apple” are relatively straight-forward and simple. Hyomin sings a line which is then backed up by a “Hey!” or such. This repeats for three times. To be specific on how the line is structured, the melody does connect to the beat, but nothing is drastic in terms of varying notes and such. On the subject of the soundtrack, as the pre-choruses progress, the instrumental does the standard format of accelerating its beats. At the very end, the section concludes with a Mandarin phrase.

While simplicity is far from being horrendous in a song (ballads are rather simple yet they possess incredible structures), in this section’s case with remaining relatively plain, it created a negative contrast between the established fun, upbeat, and joyful mood of the previous sections. Hyomin’s lines were not too exciting, and most of the generated hype derives from the instrumental quickening its beats. In focus of the lines, while the added spices of “Hey!” and such at the ending prevented staleness, they do not redeem Hyomin’s actual singing lines. The vocals were only average, and without adding onto the catchy and fun trend, her lines prove to be weak.

Overall, slightly above average. Everything here was, in the perspective of the previous sections, too simplistic and basic; the instrumental creating hype via speeded beats and Hyomin’s lines were nothing outstanding at all. The attempts of adding the jocular aspect were not successful, the ending words per line were not appealing, and the final outcry of the Mandarin phrase was moreover obnoxious than hilarious or fun. Hyomin is indeed a solid singer, but sadly, this section fails on bringing her justice.  

4. Chorus: 6/10 – The chorus, as mentioned earlier, is where Mandarin arrives. For this section of “Little Apple,” both T-ARA and Chopstick Brothers are singing (the live version does differ; only one member sings the Mandarin I believe). Additionally, Jiyeon handles a few solo lines.

From the start, Mandarin is used. Every member sings, and Chopstick Brothers are adding in their own vocals as background. The unison singing comes off as cohesive, and it still holds a catchier melody. After that, Jiyeon arrives with her own lines which are in Korean. This format repeats twice. In focus of the instrumental, it supplied a consistent and constant rhythm to accompany the vocals.

Although the chorus is relatively catchy and structurally sound for the most part, it still fails to hold as solid. When it comes to the decent aspects, the vocals were not too poor; Jiyeon was able to sing in her usual voice here unlike her members, and the unison singing remains adequate. In terms of the flow, it transitioned between unison and solo singing, which does add in some diversity. Unfortunately, while the vocals and instrumental are catchy and sufficient, nothing came off as impressive. Jiyeon might have been spared of singing in the childish, higher pitched style, but even then, her vocals were not too spectacular (although in general, Jiyeon is a very talented vocalist). Likewise, with the instrumental, the beats and bassline added a supportive foundation, but that was it; no other benefit was gained nor did it shine by itself.

In summary, the choruses are rated at slightly above average. The alternation between unison and individual singing added some pleasing variety, however, in the entirety of the section, nothing sounded utterly captivating. Lacking prominent points prevents this section from receiving a higher score.  

5. Bridge: 6/10 – Initially listening to this song, I feared that a bridge would be misplaced. In the mindset of the average bridge, I was predicting “Little Apple” to contain an abrupt, unsuitable bridge that would be too passive. I have been proven completely wrong; “Little Apple” utilizes the pure soundtrack for the bridge. No singing occurs.

Specifically describing the instrumental, it shifts into a funkier, treble-oriented (probably the wrong term) sound. Towards the end, the melody returns to the established one that was heard at the introduction, and furthermore, the beats quicken until the final chorus is played.

Homogenous to the verse where the structure was solid while the mechanical aspects, such as the vocals, faltered, the same idea applies here. To begin on the worse note, while the soundtrack was catchy, it was a rather weak instrumental solo. With the electronic-based and treble sounding piece, the instrumental was plain and slightly tumultuous. Even with the shift occurring, the revived melody still held as only average, and as complained about in other reviews, the standard use of accelerating beats in order to create hype or transitions is loathed. However, what vastly safeguards this section from falling into a “negative” score is how properly placed and executed the bridge is. Transitions to the bridge were very smooth, and in regards to how it was executed properly, the style used was appropriate. Instead of pacifying the song or adding a high note hold, the bridge simply added a singing break and allowed the pure instrumental to play.

Slightly above average will be the score. While that is not necessarily a strong grade, considering how the soundtrack itself was on the mediocre side, it would have been worse if not for the excellent style and placement of the bridge.  

6. Conclusion: 8/10 – At last, the conclusion. Surprisingly, this song did not recycle its chorus; “Little Apple” opted to have its own finishing moment.

The song concludes with mainly the baseline lingering around with occasional snaps and beats. Eventually, at the very end, a few beats occur spontaneously before it entirely fades.

Initially I expected, and in fact, preferred that “Little Apple” would end right at the final chorus. However, after listening for multiple sessions, I have come to appreciate the conclusion. Firstly, a separate section would feel less abrupt than cutting the song off at the final chorus. Considering how energetic the choruses are, if it were to end shortly after, it would seem too sudden. Now in focus of the conclusion itself, the bassline and slower, heavier beats gave the song a concluding sense. Even the last moment with the quicker beats were suiting.

After an upbeat and hyperactive song, this type of ending properly wraps it; with minimal instrumental activity, the final and proper remnants of “Little Apple” were left. A solid score will be given. The conclusion fulfilled its role in both style and ensuring that nothing was abrupt.  

– Line Distribution: 9/10 – Without Boram and Soyeon being included for this song, the score here should be a free 10/10. Chopstick Brothers will be excluded considering they are featured.

Firstly, Qri was involved with the first half of every verse. While it is not majorly lacking, in comparison to the other ladies, Qri is slightly behind. Nevertheless, it is exceptionally minor, and for the most part, no issue arises. On a slightly random note, I personally am glad Qri was given a decent amount of lines. While I confess she is the weakest singer in T-ARA, that does not mean she is incapable of decent vocals. In many other songs, Qri is noticeably bereft of lines.

Back on topic, in Eunjung’s case, her lines were practically identical to Qri’s; she handled the second half of every verse. The duration of her lines may be short, but factoring in how Qri also has the same identical length of lines, it alleviates possible issues. Similar to Qri, for the most part, Eunjung’s lines are sufficient.

Next up is Hyomin. Her spotlight included all of the pre-choruses. Now, while Qri and Eunjung had similar lengths, there is a disparity in comparison to Hyomin’s lines. Hyomin’s section was vastly longer. However, considering that every lady had her own consistent song section, this does not hold as too concerning. Nevertheless, it will be something to consider later. In short, her longs are lengthier than Eunjung and Qri’s lines, but it does not hold as a large issue.

Lastly, Jiyeon’s part included her solo time during the choruses. Overall, her lines’ time span were roughly equal to Hyomin’s duration. Nothing too drastic comes out of this, although it is definitely notable that her lines have more spotlight.

The final factor to account for is that every member sings during the chorus (in the official audio, anyways).

As of now, the overarching perspective is that Qri and Eunjung have equal lines, and Hyomin and Jiyeon have equal lines as well. However, comparing the two different combos, the Hyomin and Jiyeon pair does have a bit more time for singing. In the end, the only solution would be to have Jiyeon or Hyomin split one line or so, but considering how minor the disparity is, and additionally that they all sing during the chorus, the Line Distribution score will receive a higher score. 9/10 will be the rating. 

– Instrumental: 6/10 – While this type of instrumental is not preferred personally, I cannot deny how catchy it is. A lot of the song’s energy and upbeatness derives from the soundtrack. In terms of the vocals and instrumental pair together, both aided one another; the instrumental added stable and heavy foundation for vocals, and the vocals assisted the fun and catchy aspects of the instrumental. Individually, however, is where the soundtrack falters. Electronic sounds with nothing complex creates only a plain, typical pop soundtrack. Of course, electronic-based instrumentals can still achieve high scores, and although a K-Pop song does not come in mind, songs from the Drum and Bass genre instantly come to mind. Actually, T-ARA has shown that electronic-based soundtracks can, indeed, be solid; “Sugar Free” is a prominent one along with “Number 9.”

Anyhow, slightly above average is the score for “Little Apple” ‘s instrumental. It may hold as very catchy and melodic, but considering how basic, simplistic, and even slightly dull, the soundtrack is, only a 6 is earned. Nevertheless, there is solid chemistry between the vocals and instrumental, and for that itself, the rating is not too poor.

– Meaning: 6/10 – On the surface, this song may seem to be a health campaign towards eating apples, but that would be awfully strange for a song by T-ARA. If that is not the case, then what does “Little Apple” symbolize? Through not just Korean-to-English lyrics, but also a few Mandarin-to-English lines, we may potentially answer that question. And as always, this is not 100% accurate (especially with the Mandarin piece, although I trust translation sources on that):

It was love at first sight
I fell in love, is this what love is?
I wanna go to you and tell you
that my heart is pounding
(that my heart is like that)

I’ll be happy if we’re together day by day
You are the joy of my life
I keep feeling small when I’m next to you
In case you might forget me
(don’t leave me)

You are my little apple
No matter how much I love you, it’s not enough
What do I do about my burning heart?
I think I’ve fallen for you
You are my little apple
Like the most beautiful cloud in the sky
It’s okay even if you don’t know
Because I can read your heart

I won’t complain
that you don’t know my heart,
that you’re not looking at me
All day, I think of you
You appear in my head
I miss you (right now)

Whether it rains or snows, I’ll protect you
If the sun and moon disappears, I’ll be your star
If I can stay by your side whenever
From morning till night
(my heart is getting warmer)

You are my little apple
No matter how much I love you, it’s not enough
What do I do about my burning heart?
I think I’ve fallen for you
You are my little apple
Like the most beautiful cloud in the sky
It’s okay even if you don’t know
Because I can read your heart

You are my little apple
No matter how much I love you, it’s not enough
What do I do about my burning heart?
I think I’ve fallen for you
You are my little apple
Like the most beautiful cloud in the sky
It’s okay even if you don’t know
Because I can read your heart

Out of all of the ways to describe a love-interest, I have never expected “apple,” yes, an edible fruit, to be used. As seen, a sillier yet cute mood is given. Anyhow, the lyrics describe a lover who has a “burning heart” towards their love-interest. There are sweeter details of this lover’s feelings, and it definitely shows that she/he is madly infatuated. In terms of addressing the “Little Apple” title, it originates from the lover’s metaphor; “You are my little apple” is how the lover thinks of the love-interest. Strange and rather quirky, but nevertheless the emotions and jocular aspects are seen through the use of “little apple.”

While I am in favor of completely cheesy, romantic love stories different, unique lyrics, “Little Apple” only holds slightly above average lyrics. A lot of the details are repeated; lines may be phrased differently, but the same general idea is given. Multiple aspects showcase the lover’s affection, but that is primarily it. Different details that prove to be compelling do not exist (but credit to having some diversity). Despite being only a 6, I am still a fan of the lyrics, and I personally find it quite jocular and sweet. So, for those in love, feel free to call your love-interest a “little apple.” Beware, though, your “little apple” might become rather sour.

Transitioning over to the part where I get to deconstruct or complain about certain lines, although the song’s general meaning is positive and adorable, there are some questionable phrases. And as always, I am not accounting this into the grading. Consider this an extra bonus to this section. On track, after reading over the lyrics once more, the very first and only line holds as troublesome; “love at first sight” is a hugely debated subject, and I personally am not in favor of it. Now, to cut straight to the predominant idea that is always thrown at me (and now that I think of it, I have gotten into too many arguments over this simple phrase): “Love at first sight is true because you cannot stop biology; if you find someone physically attractive, you will automatically love them.” 

Firstly, if love is only considered a simple physical attraction, it is time to re-evaluate your entire life then that truly concerns me. Love is extremely complex; that should speak for itself. Love on the basis of a sheer physical attraction is not love; to love is to see beyond their physical appearance. Personality, dedication, intelligence, humor, those are all extremely crucial aspects to consider, and while physical appearance may be a factor, in juxtaposition to the others, appearance is beyond miniscule. Tying back to the main point on why “love at first sight” is erroneous, it cannot exist due to “first sights” not revealing those hidden, beautiful traits that account for a lot more than a physical attraction. Now, when the day comes where humans are psychic and can read minds, then I will accept that phrase. But, obviously, even with peering at a person, those personal attributes are veiled.

Of course, feel free to disagree. Perhaps since I have been raised with an extremely harsh culture on looks, I have become very rebellious towards the idea of pure physical attraction. Sometimes the physically prettiest people come out to be the most disgusting, grotesque looking once the cloaked aspects are revealed, and vice-versa, those considered not pretty physically are not at all; they are very beautiful and pretty once the important attributes are seen. I could go on for quite a bit on this subject, and in fact, I can even disprove the idea that physical attraction is “natural.” Yes, there may be biological/scientific facts, but they only cover the surface. I find that what is considered beauty is heavily socialized; you are taught what is “ugly” and what is “pretty.”

For a really quick example that I will create, let’s claim that science has proven that taller people are more physically attractive. Assuming there is seemingly unequivocal facts (perhaps it is consistent in thousands of animals, survey says that, people claim that, etc.), many will simply accept that as “normal.” However, let’s say the Short-Height-Only culture group believes that shorter people are attractive, and in that culture, from birth to death, that idea is ubiquitously spread. In the Short-Height-Only culture, if it is “natural” and scientifically supported that taller people are more physically attractive, then why are all the tall people deprived of affection and relationships in that culture? If the idea of “natural” is true, then the Short-Height-Only culture’s belief would not exist in the first place, yet it does. Again, I am just making the worst example ever, but going along with my silliness, that is my stance on the opinion of “natural” and why it is a pitiful excuse to use to justify certain actions in society (and for an example that irritates me: “Only men are leaders since it’s ‘natural’; try saying that to AOA’s Jimin and to thousands of other ladies who prove to be deserving and capable of a leadership position). Final thing to add, if it is not obvious yet, humans are the most “unnatural” creatures ever; unless if you find an animal that lives the exact lives as the so-called proclaimed “natural” human race, I do not think we are “natural” in the usual sense. That is not bad, however. In fact, it means we are sophisticated to the point that we are not governed by nature, but rather, ourselves. But, of course, that is not quite perfect since humans are not flawless.

Anyways, I have went on for too long, and this would even be more appropriate for a Blog Opinion post. I go on way too many random tangents, so apologies. Feel free to disagree with my own points. Being capable of seeing different viewpoints is vital, and likewise, I do see multiple stances on the idea of “natural” and such in regards to humans and beauty and whatnot. But, time to focus back on T-ARA’s song (and how I sidetracked to the different subjects, I have no idea).

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Choreography Score: 8/10 – Turning back the attention on “Little Apple,” the choreography utilizes simplicity. Despite that, it is still a decent dance, and in fact, complexity should never determine a choreography’s rating.

In focus of syncing, there were little to no issues; every movement linked to a beat or matched with the lyrics’ flow. Hyomin’s sections, the pre-choruses, are solid examples. The steps reflected the beats, the arm snaps were connecting the background vocals of “Hey!,” and the movement followed the flow of her singing/melody. Very impressive syncing in “Little Apple.”

For the key points, all of them gave off the vibrant, sillier atmosphere. None were stale, and most of the maneuvers reciprocated the song’s energy. Everything transitioned to the next dance set properly and smoothly as well. Fun and simple key points are seen.

Like in other songs by T-ARA, backup dancers are used. Considering there were only four members participating in this collaboration, they are vital to the choreography unlike in other songs (I still remain adamant on the idea that “Sugar Free” would have sufficed with purely the 6 ladies). Their role added an extra layer to the dance to prevent empty space. After all, only 4 members dancing to an energetic song would feel rather dull and vacant. As such, the backup dancers filled that gap. Furthermore, some sections needed the extra dancers; specifically, the moment right after the first chorus (it is the “pushing” dance; not sure on the official term but that should trigger the choreography scene).

Overall, with how flawlessly synced the dance was, the addition of backup dancers that properly supported T-ARA, and with fun, simplistic and chic key points, a higher score is well deserved. Seeing how the main points were hit, a solid score will be given. 8/10. In the sense of remaining simple and having a sillier and upbeat song, Orange Caramel’s “Catallena” (check out my review on it) is very similar to T-ARA’s “Little Apple”; both have a jocular theme, yet both remain simple and extremely well synced in terms of the choreography. A strong dance for this song, even if the song component is weaker.

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Overall Score: 8/10 (7.5/10 raw score) – In the end, the score of 8/10 is earned miraculously. In reality, the Song Total Score should be a 6, but a strong Line Distribution probably saved it. Anyhow, I do disagree that it is an 8 overall; 7 seems more suitable. In quick summary, “Little Apple” is slightly weaker in terms of the song itself, but what allows it to remain potent is how catchy it is. Furthermore, even with a weaker musical piece, the choreography proves to be outstanding. For T-ARA’s recent song and collaboration, not too bad. I will not consider this their official comeback since it is technically not (although it is claimed as that according to this live performance: T-ARA – Little Apple (Live Performance); and if I may add, those were some very, very charismatic fans). I have very high expectations for their future comeback with all 6 incredible, talented, exceptionally intelligent and beautiful ladies.

As always, thank you very much for reading. Huge apologies for some delay. I am currently working on multiple writing pieces, so instead of a consistent publish time, it will be burst of posts. But, everything should be on track hopefully. Anyhow, thank you once more. I sincerely appreciate the time and support. Thank you.

For those curious on future reviews, I have too many lined up. I will do a few “speed reviews” in which I will work at an excessively high rate. Unfortunately, those reviews will follow quantity over quality. Of course, however, the speed reviews are solely for songs that I just simply want to push out of the way or have little things to discuss (such as with Nine Muses’ Hyuna’s song of “I Like The Way Back Home”). I will still maintain my current style of reviews.Now instead of making digressions, to finally answer the question asked ages ago, I have received two song requests/recommendations. MAMAMOO’s “Piano Man” and Junggigo’s “Too Good” have been sent in, so I will prioritize them. That being said, my previous review of Girl’s Day’s “I Miss You” will be simply delayed. I am excited to review “Piano Man” considering, as the recommender stated, it has a style that I have yet to review. As for Junggigo, I am quite pleased to have received one of his songs. He is on my list of adept male singers; his vocals are extremely promising. Also, if I post things correctly in order, I should have posted a mini Blog Reflection about reading one of my first reviews ever: Girl’s Day’s “Something.” To personally challenge myself, I plan to review Girl’s Day’s “I Miss You” to see a contrast, but if you have not read that reflection post, I would recommend it.

Expect three reviews to arrive; MAMAMOO’s “Piano Man,” Junggigo’s “Too Good,” and Girl’s Day’s “I Miss You.” Do not forget, I will also toss in a few “speed reviews” to compensate for slower writing (then again, wouldn’t speed reviews make the writing slower overall?). Once again, thank you for your patience. Stay tuned and keep checking back. “You are my little apple, no matter how much I love you, it’s not enough.”

Blog Reflection: November 2014

Posted on November 30, 2014

Although I might be prematurely posting this, I will do so anyways. As many can tell, this has been by far my worst month in terms of putting out reviews. I have been getting busier, but I will pick up the pacing soon enough. I currently have two reviews practically finished, but for the sake of starting fresh, I will not post them yet until it is December. That said, I will focus on these aspects: rate of reviews, blog growth, and writing growth in terms of both mechanics and analysis.

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Rate of Reviews

Looking over my archive page, I have a very disappointing amount of four reviews done for the entire month of November. That is pretty embarrassing and I totally failed to meet my previous months, let alone exceeding them.

I will have to step up the pacing, and while I could easily rush every review, I prefer quality over quantity, so I just need to commit more time towards writing them. I will attempt to set deadlines as if they were due dates; if that ushers me to do my school work, having that same mentality with reviews should do the trick. Hopefully, anyways. For December, considering how September and October were at about six or seven, for December, I will strive extremely hard to reach eight reviews. Furthermore, I will attempt to halt every filler post unless if there is significant news to be told.

Considering how I will have a head-start of two reviews for December, that leaves me with mainly six reviews to do, and I believe that is completely reasonable. Anyhow, I definitely need to improve this category. Perhaps I need to start slicing down how much I write, but nevertheless, I hope to get a review out at least every three days.

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Blog Growth

Now I have to a mental debate on whether to reveal statistics or not. Actually, looking over the stats right now, I find it interesting and it might be worth listing after all. Since I have not revealed my stats for my other month reflections, I will most likely either edit them in, or an easier route, I will just list them here.

Here is a simple data look at the total number of viewers and such:

July 2014: N/A (Guess is around 5 since I personally shared this to 5 people)

August 2014: 87

September 2014: 486

October 2014: 765

November 2014: 1010  

Now to explain the numbers, as said, it is the total number of viewers from the moment this blog was established. So no, unfortunately, I did not gain 1010 views in November, but rather, in total that is the number. 

Firstly, before people have the reaction of, “Wow, your reviews are getting read by a lot,” these numbers are very miniscule. Why? I went to a blog that simply posted pictures of Girls’ Generation, and she was hitting the 10000 mark by solely doing that (although who can resist Tiffany’s smile). Nevertheless, I am grateful that people are peering at this blog. Another perspective of these numbers that are also skewed is the actual quantity of people who consistently visit back, and I will say, that number should be significantly lower (and I am too lazy to do the math, but it is approximately 10% of total viewers).

Anyhow, before we get too caught up in the numbers themselves, I wanted to share how intriguing growth is on Tumblr. As noticed, at the start, there were little to no viewers, but as time went on, the blog grew by huge leaps.

I appreciate readers that come, even if once, and for those who are consistent readers, I cherish you all dearly. While the actual numbers are now revealed, they should hold very minor value; I do not write with the idea of garnering viewers and such, but rather, I simply write reviews since I love writing and K-Pop. This blog is on a strong growth, and I hope it continues that way. More importantly, for those who are consistent readers, I cannot thank you enough.

Now although I have already addressed it via another post, this month does mark a huge hit; my review on AOA’s “Like a Cat” was apparently well received; it had gained the most views and the most “likes” out of any other review I have done. The closest was my show review on “The TaeTiSeo,” but even that one loses by a decent margin. I will consider it a lucky blessing that AOA’s popularity was trending to the point that any post related to AOA was seen.

Anyways, in summary, the blog is growing well. I will leave the statistics of my blog for now, but personally, they hold little value. What I truly care about is improving my writing/analysis for those who are consistent viewers. And now that we are on this subject, let’s transition to it.

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Writing Growth

As some may know, I do not re-read any reviews I post. Once I finish, it is published and never again is it seen by me. I only skim over the review in hopes of catching format errors (forgot to bold something, etc.). Due to that, it is somewhat difficult to truly gauge how my writing is improving, but I still have a general idea.

Focusing on the analysis component, I am being more critical than ever before. Especially when juxtaposing the old days where I reviewed via “feelings,” in current time, every review is unbiased and is sufficiently reasoned for each rating. However, there is always room for improvement, and as mentioned a while back, I hope to start revising my Choreography Score to make it even more accurate and detailed. That is my next focus in terms of improving my analysis, and even then, in regards to the music section, I will always be working to refine it.

In terms of my writing, I am hoping it improves. Considering how I am currently reviewing a song by Girl’s Day, and that unluckily for them, they were lab rats for my novice days, I might just read an old review I did on their song of “Something.” I expect lots of cringing, perhaps even tears, at how mediocre my earlier reviews were. Once I read it, I will be able to truly see how my writing has changed over time (and I will make a post reflecting such). I hope to continually receive feedback from readers on how I could improve, and of course, I am able to translate newly obtained skills from one of my classes to use for not just school-related works, but also for reviews.

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Considering every topic has been covered, I will conclude this month’s reflection here. This reflection is slightly less detailed, but that is mainly due to getting it out of the way so I can actually finish some reviews. What I need to heavily improve is my current rate, and additionally, focusing on improving my writing so that it is more clear and enjoyable for readers.

December is coming up, so it is time I redeem myself for a weaker performance in November. Thank you so much for the support throughout this journey. Expect lots of review to come out, both music and shows. Stay tuned and keep checking back.