Sistar – “I Swear” Review

Sistar
– I Swear (Dance Practice)

Sistar – I Swear

Reviewed
on May 30, 2016

Personal Message:
I admit: I am incredibly
disorganized right now and even somewhat overwhelmed with the amount of reviews
to cover. There are so many songs I want to and plan to review, but will I be
able to cover them all before May ends? It depends on how dedicated I can get.
Most likely, though, I will be able to finish the two requested reviews of this
month—this review being a request. That said, to the requester, thank you for
sending this in. I have not received a request in a while, so this was a
pleasant surprise. Additionally, this request being that of a somewhat older
song is also delightful (and surprising considering most requests are based on artists
that I have yet to review or on comebacks): Sistar’s summer song of 2014, “I
Swear”—though “summer song” is debatable as some may claim “Touch My Body”
holds that title. Personally, however, this song was iconic of my 2014 summer
as it was the “ending summer song.” But besides sentimental reasons, “I Swear”
also has a valuable spot with being one of my personal favorite songs. And on
top of it all, it is by Sistar, a group I very much love and of whom are very
popular and skilled. (It is a shame I have not been keeping up with Sistar
news, let alone any news minus ones that involve Fiestar, MAMAMOO, and SPICA.)

Before diving into the review, I
confess that I thought I had reviewed “I Swear” before. Turns out, that is not
true as I have only reviewed “Give It To Me” and “Touch My Body”—both of which,
though, are completely butchered reviews. In that sense, I am quite glad I did not review “I Swear” as I would have
given inaccurate nines all over. On that note, for a minor digression (skip
ahead to the review), some readers—especially those who have been tuned in
since the earlier days or have peered at my earlier reviews—may be curious on
when and why I became more strict with reviews. How did I go from liberally
giving nines to now nines being considered one of the hardest ratings to earn? In
fact, how did songs in the past even earn tens when, as readers can tell, it is
practically impossible for a song to ever achieve a perfect ten in anything
minus the Sections Distribution category? Since I seldom cover the
“behind-the-scenes” of reviews—or at least I have not done so in nearly a
year—let us spend some time covering how my reviews changed, both with
strictness and outline, and how I even decide numerical ratings in  the first place. (And yes, sociology based
digressions will resume for sure in June.)

Focusing on strictness, there are
various factors at play for why I was incredibly lenient during earlier
reviews. For one, I admittedly was quite biased; I did tend to review songs I
personally enjoyed, and of course, I would translate that into high ratings. Furthermore,
I was new to critically analyzing music, let alone addressing the sociological
aspects to songs. And thus, with my lack of skills and overall lack of maturity
on all fronts—music and socially (my writing style was too casual along with having subtle sexist and heteronormative
remarks)—I simply just did not know better. If it “sounded good”—words that I
truly said—then any rating would be permissible and viable. Never did I dive
into the complexities of songs until much later, and even then, it is
constantly a growth. During last summer I admit: I thought I achieved mastery
of reviewing songs; I thought that I knew how to review every song from
thereon. Of course, however, that is far from the case as even more changes and
(hopefully) improvements took place, and indeed, I doubt I will ever achieve
mastery with learning how to review songs. Besides, what fun is it to ever
claim one has mastered anything? Learning and improvement is limitless, and
helping others gain said skills arguably matters much more than merely hoarding
skills and knowledge.

On this note, in terms of how and
why the review outline went through multiple revisions and to this day is still
being modified, in short: improvements. From the first outline to the current,
flaws will be eventually discovered and thus, changes are done to address those
weaker points. For example, in the past I noticed there was a significant
shortcoming with having my review restricted to solely single categories.
Instead of being flexible and dynamic, reviews were quite monotonous and it was
essentially a paragraph per category. (The vocals would have one paragraph,
then the sections, and so on.) Now, I try to keep reviews more individual and
open to variety, but even currently there is still much to improve on in that aspect.
And of course with that said, my writing will always be in a state of
improving. Even if I have some moments where I do genuinely believe I brought a
song justice through adequate writing, I am seldom satisfied with where my
writing skills currently are. After all, why look at what my writing skills are when I can look at where they will be?

Swapping over to ratings, as
discussed earlier, there used to be no rubric whatsoever. That, however, is no
longer the case: I have certain guidelines for how I come up with ratings.
Before getting into how and why I give specific numerical ratings, it might be
best for readers to even know what
the ratings are—though I am certain many readers know, and even new readers
most likely know. For fun, however, the following should clarify what the
numbers truly mean in these current times:

0 – Absolutely horrendous. This is a
rating I have yet to give and very much doubt I will ever see in my entire
years of existing. Giving a zero would mean whichever category it is received
in is beyond poor. A simple possible scenario might be a Sections Distribution
where, to use Sistar as example, Hyorin has fifteen sections while the rest of
her members have absolutely none. Again, a near impossible rating to earn, but
it is there.

1 – Very poor. Akin to a zero
rating, I am also very skeptical of a category ever hitting a one. However, I
will say that it is not to the degree of “impossible”; given that this is the
inverse of a nine—of which are possible though quite rare—scores of ones in
that sense are still very much possible to earn. Chances, though, is slim, and
let us be honest: there tends to be more “very good” than “very poor”
scenarios. On topic, ratings of ones simply indicate that a certain category,
be it the vocals or instrumental or whatever else, are of very low quality. A
crude example would be imagining a reverse-universe where Sistar are atrocious
singers who sound like cats in deep anguish. Now this is a “1” rating example,
but it should be relatively straightforward.

2 – This rating is not very poor but rather, is a plain “poor.”
With this rating, whichever category is to receive it is far from admirable but
is not to the degree of the ratings above. For example, an exceptionally
disorganized and rambunctious introduction may earn a two. This would showcase
that it is definitely not enticing, but again it is not to the extent that the
introduction should cease to exist at all. Nonetheless, this is still overall a
rating for songs to avoid.

3 – Continuing on, a three on the
other hand is the usual “below average.” Unlike a two, a category with this is
one that is below usual standards, but it is a rating that becomes somewhat
acceptable. Earning a three, though still very much undesired, would not be
utterly shocking. Again, it would be best to avoid, but it is not too extreme. And
on that note, let us take a look at the next rating.

4 – This is where “slightly below
average” comes into play. In truth, a rating of a four is not too bad. Why? If
“average” is the neutral ground, this simply means—should a category earn a
four—that the category is just a minor bit below that neutral point. As such,
unless if it becomes a recurring number, one four would not likely
significantly decrease a song’s overall score—though again, it is indeed best
to still avoid as it is in the “negative” range (anything below a five). After all,
is “average” not the lowest a rating should be at?

5 – Perfectly timed, a five
represents the plain ground: average. Nothing more or less. Anything with this
rating is neutral; a category with a five is neither good nor bad. Usually in
actual application this would mean that a category, be it the vocals or
specific sections or so on, fulfill their standard roles, but do nothing else
to bring in uniqueness and attractiveness. Now on a more pessimistic tone, although
fives are indeed the neutral point, as I have discussed in prior reviews: that
is not necessarily true. In fact, fives may still be considered a “negative”
score if we think less about quantity and more qualitatively. If it is true
that fives represent “average,” then that means a song with a five in whichever
category is equal to any other usual
pop song (or other genres)—and “other” refers to hundreds of thousands. Therefore,
to have, for example the vocals, be rated at a five is to say that the song of
review sounds—in terms of the vocals—like any other song. Especially with the
competitive field of music, being average is still somewhat negative. Thus,
perhaps there is no neutrality after all, depending on how one views it.

6 – Working our way up to the more
optimistic and pleasant ratings, everything at this point is the inverse of the
others. This rating is for “slightly above average.” This is a rather common
rating and arguably the most common one I hand out. It is nothing too valuable,
but considering this allows a song to depart from the usual “average songs,” it
is still respectable.

7 – Sevens are perhaps the ideal
scores that I do wish to give. At a seven, a category would be considered
“above average,” and that is certainly desirable as it would set a song above
usual—“average—songs. Especially with what was discussed earlier, a seven is
definitely the ideal rating to earn.

8 – For eights, this tends to
usually be the highest a category goes, as will be explained with nines and
tens. This rating indicates a solid “good”; the category is simply fantastic
and praiseworthy. There would be minimal irking points if even any. Earning
this is far from impossible, but nonetheless is a somewhat difficult feat.

9 – On the other hand, in contrast
to eights, this rating is extremely difficult to earn. Any category with this
would have no weak points but more importantly, is definitely leaning towards
having solely strengths. To give an example to clarify perhaps what is expected
and how difficult earning a nine is, MAMAMOO and BTOB—two extremely vocally
adept groups be it with singing or rapping—are both considered “eight” for
their vocals. And yet, if many are posed with the question of asking where the
two groups should be with vocals, I am confident that many would claim these
two groups are certainly towards the higher levels and thus, would seem to be
at nines. However, that is not the case. In fact, even Ailee for example—an
artist I oftentimes have labeled as one the top vocalists I have yet to
hear—would be an eight. Ponder over that. Ailee, the “Queen Vocalist” of K-Pop,
is an eight. (Now of course this all varies per song, but I am generalizing
when I speak of the artists’ vocal ratings. For example, MAMAMOO’s
“Hinterlands” on Immortal Songs 2
would indeed rate at a nine, even though all of their other songs would be at
eights or lower.)

10 – Impossible to earn. I cannot
even imagine any category, minus the Section Distribution of course, that would
score a ten. This would mean a category is perfect. For example, a verse with a
ten would have to vocally and instrumentally sound beyond extraordinary, and
furthermore with its structure would have to be absolutely unique and yet
utterly effective for the song in whole. It is a standard that exists, but as
said, it is one I doubt the blog will ever see. Ignoring newbie reviews, that
is.

Since the ratings have been
numerically explained, it would now be suiting to disclose how even ratings
come to be in the first place. In other words, what does the review process
itself look like? Without getting into monotonous details, in a brief summary,
the review process is as follows:

The first step is, to insert some
sassiness, obviously listening to the song. However, it is slightly more than
just that. After listening to the song of interest, perhaps the most important
step I take is to then gauge my biased reaction: where do I want the song to score? This is critical as, when it comes to writing
the review, I need to be able to separate my personal stance—whether in favor
or against a song—from a systematic, neutral standpoint. After all, what point
is a review if I would give high ratings solely to my favorite artists? Afterwards,
once I am able to gauge my initial take, I then proceed with listening to the
song multiple times and at different days. (For example, while exercising I may
decide to focus on the song, but then I allow some time to pass before
listening to it again. Point is, I listen to a song enough for memorization to
take place, but I ensure that enough breaks are given so that I gain new
insight.) Then is where my analysis comes in with going through section by
section, tracking solely the vocals or the instrumental, gauging at how
sections play out and relate to the song in whole, and so forth. This portion
of the review processing is what consumes the most time.

All in all, though, I do wish to
clarify an important piece: throughout the whole review process, one must be
aware it can never be unequivocally neutral. At best, music reviews can be and
should be “neutrally biased,” but never can reviews be “neutral.” In fact, even
other materials, be it makeup or phones, can arguably never be quite reviewed “neutrally.”
What do I mean? Here is the simple answer: “good” is never objective when it
comes to music (and others). Take an example: what I consider “good vocals” may
actually be atrocious to another reviewer; she might claim that MAMAMOO’s
vocals are excessive and thus, would claim they are average singers while I, on
the other hand, are constantly praising the ladies and holding them as
high-tiered singers. Nevertheless, reviews should still be “neutrally biased.”
Indeed, when it comes to giving
ratings, that act should be without extraneous influence. Where an issue
exists, however, is that the ratings
in of themselves will be biased—but that is not inherently bad. It is
unavoidable; akin to implicit social biases when it comes to gender, race, and
so forth, our socialization creates our “music bias” as well, if I may label it
as that. What matters is, like with social biases, bringing said biases to the
front and openly confronting them.

For example, I recognize that I
dislike songs that tend to be what I deem “chaotic” for a lack of a better
label. An example off the top of my head is BTS’ “Fun Boys.” (I will one day
review a song by BTS. I am moreover surprised, though, that no one has ever requested
them yet.) Biasedly, with what I personally like in a song, “Fun Boys” is the
pure opposite. However, after realizing my bias take and from thereon seeing the
song for its own worth, I do confidently say that “Fun Boys” is far from bad at
all. In fact, it is decent and has impressive musical twists—twists that I
would biasedly claim are vexing though once neutrally seen, are excellent. In
summary: “neutral” comes in not letting my personal music bias influencing my
given ratings, but in the end, what I deem “good” or “bad” will forever be
subjective. Not even in hundred thousands of technological advances will
technology ever be able to decide if SPICA’s “Ghost” or BTOB’s “It’s Okay” is
the “better” or “correct” song.

In the end, if readers are still curious
on this “reviews are not neutral” discussion, my review
on TWICE
might have more thorough explanations. I personally aim to have
reviews on this blog discussion-based versus claim-based; rather than focusing
all of my efforts on unequivocally labeling a song as good or bad, I want to
focus rather on why I claim a song renders
as excellent or average or below average. Never should my reviews (or even
Personal Message social digressions for that matter) be taken as truths. At
most I am sharing one perspective out of the infinite that already exist.
Encouraging readers’ own thoughts and critical thinking is the ultimate goal of
reviews and why I would continually write them despite the large time
investment that is needed. And perhaps that I am also motivated to simply write
about my favorite groups but that is a secret to keep hidden. Jokes aside, this
digression hopefully covers the general history and background to this blog.
Far from anything fancy, but this is the path the blog went through and is
still going through.

Finally focusing on Sistar, despite
this being a song in the past, it truly is one of Sistar’s best songs—if not the best. Or so I biasedly claim. Does “I
Swear” fare well if excluding my love for Sistar? I swear it does, but we will
have to find out.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(6.00/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.71/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
8/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Rap: 5/10

6.     Bridge: 6/10

7.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Section Distribution: 2/10

Hyorin:
Introduction, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge,
Chorus (Total: 9)

Soyou:
Introduction, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus (Total: 7)

Dasom:
Verse (Total: 1)

Bora:
Rap (Total: 1)

Equal Value: 4.5 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 7/10

Oh I swear
Oh I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

I-I swear, intensely like a confession from a movie
The D.I.A on your fourth finger
makes the whole world jealous
I-I swear, pick that star and give it to me
Think of my small jokes as something cute
Baby I only wanna be with you
(I swear, I swear, I-I swear)

The thing that won’t change are my feelings growing
and that I won’t expect many things from you
Also to close my eyes with you after being in love
That’s it, that’s all

(Promise) I swear tonight, I swear
(Promise you baby)
Only you can comfort me
You’re perfect, meant to be baby
You’ll always be mine
I swear, you and me, I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

The night I become a woman,
what do I do? We’ll hold hands
You make me say woo
Stars are spilling across the night sky

So what you think about that (that)?
Baby, what are you thinking?
So what you think about that (that)?
I’m so curious about you
So that I can feel your love, so that I will smile
Only think of me, oh baby, only look at me

The thing that won’t change are my feelings growing
and that I won’t expect many things from you
Also to close my eyes with you after being in love
That’s it, that’s all

(Promise) I swear tonight, I swear
(Promise you baby)
Only you can comfort me
You’re perfect, meant to be baby
You’ll always be mine
I swear, you and me, I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

The one thing I want to hear, “I do”
Like a sweet dream, “I do”
I write and erase your name on the sand
As I wait for you, tell me “I love you baby”

(Promise) I swear tonight, I swear
(Promise you baby)
Only you can comfort me
You’re perfect, meant to be baby
You’ll always be mine
I swear, you and me, I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

Choreography Score: 7/10 (7.00/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 7/10

– Key Points: 7/10

Overall Score: 7/10
(6.50/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: First
of all, to the requester, huge apologies for a great delay. Admittedly I have
been slacking on reviews due to focusing on other tasks (such as subbing videos—or
admittedly just watching videos), and that I have been picking up bad habits
such as poor snacking decisions or even sleeping late despite needing to wake
up early for my girl. This will be changing around, however. Optimistically,
for a good habit I did pick up, I now give my adorable girl a goodnight kiss
and sweet dreams (based on many articles, it appears that dogs do dream) before
we both sleep.

Silly
news aside, let us focus purely on the review. To begin with the weakest link
in “I Swear”—and arguably every song by them—the distribution of sections is
rather pitiful. Specifically, the lack thereof is pitiful. Rating at a two, the
lowest out of every review so far, “I Swear” ‘s distribution is poor. Hyorin
carries a large bulk of the song, and similarly Soyou, but both Dasom and Bora
are deprived. Understandably, with how the format of “I Swear” runs (as we will
get to), many would feel inclined to give some exemptions here. After all, Hyorin
is an incredibly cherished, top-tier singer and likewise Soyou’s singing is
solid. Does it not seem excusable for them to take the main bulk of the song? To
the contrary, given that Sistar is a group, it should be expected that a
general equal distribution is at hand. Recycling the argument I always use,
imagine this: there is a group of nine men or women. One member sings out of
the eight. The remaining eight members solely dance. Is this not seemingly
problematic?

On
this note, I disagree to those who claim that Sistar’s section distribution is
negligible. Focusing on “I Swear” specifically, there are many moments for
where, at the very least, Dasom could have entered. Bora’s one section quantity
is, while not desired, understandable considering she is the rapper. However,
Dasom’s lack of sections is hard to dismiss considering she is a support
vocalist. She could have had much more sections to cover. Furthermore, both
Hyorin’s and Soyou’s section quantity are obscenely high; even with only four
members, the two are hitting very high counts—and this comes at a cost. From
that, both Bora and Dasom simply do not have the chance to have other sections
if all are taken up. Overall, with a large disparity in place in a song that
most likely could have accommodated for more variety, this production piece to “I
Swear”—the section distribution decision—is poor. It is unfortunate as this low
rating will weigh down the Song Score in total.

With
that category aside, the rest of “I Swear” in contrast is phenomenal. Essentially,
the sonic side to “I Swear” and even the visual side for that matter are
stellar. Focusing on the vocals, every member holds her own in the song, but
more importantly, in the entirety of “I Swear,” many positive traits appear.
For example, powerful yet controlled lines arrive during the choruses and
bridge, but simultaneously calm and lower pitched lines arrive during the
pre-choruses and rap. With multiple singing styles—beltings to high notes to
smooth, passiveness—and a rap included, “I Swear” covers vocal variety in near
full. Individually and cohesively, “I Swear” thrives in its vocals. And to also
include the instrumental, similar praises translate over: an instrumental that
is solid on its own, and yet incredibly supportive to the vocals and even
sections.

Regarding
the latter, arguably the sections in “I Swear” are its core strength and component.
Every section in the song is fantastic, and there are many unique and effective
styles employed. One predominant example would be the verses: the two verses
are different. Seldom is that seen in
songs. The first verse—a verse that is already successful due to the vocals and
its structure being straightforward and thus smoothly progresses the song—is
entirely different from the second verse that takes place: a verse where alluring
vocal belting takes the form of humming. Variety and enticing vocals are what
is gleaned—these being certainly desirable traits in any pop song. As for other
sections, the introduction and conclusions are also quite captivating. It has
been a while since a song where both score at an eight, but for what gives the
two their effectiveness and high scores, two factors are at play. First, both
the introduction and conclusion are timed are near perfection; rather than an
introduction that is too short, or a conclusion that is too long, both are at
the appropriate duration for “I Swear.” Secondly, within both sections, the sonic
components are seducing. The introduction hooks in listeners with Hyorin’s and
Soyou’s vocals, and the instrumental follows through with creating a transition
and curiosity for what is to come. As for the conclusion, although no vocals
are included, the instrumental allows a rather energetic final chorus to come
to a smooth, simple halt.

At
worst for the sections, the rap and pre-choruses are slightly lacking—more so
with the rap. The rap holds at average due to, overall, it being overly simplistic.
Clarifying, a straightforward rap is far from being inherently bad; in a
different context, a plain rap is very effective such as in a ballad. However, clearly,
“I Swear” is not a ballad and would benefit from a rap that equally suits the
upbeat, hasty style that is present. Thus, because of the lack of suiting the
song and that the rap itself would not compensate through, for example very
sharp pacing and flow, the rap holds at average. Similarly, the pre-choruses
are in a similar situation with being relatively abrupt in style. Certainly,
the slight drop in pacing creates the “buildup” effect so that the choruses are
even more exciting, but doing so is, besides following an incredibly cliché route,
ineffective to keeping a clean, cohesive flow to “I Swear.” Nonetheless, it is
a minimal point of critique and with Soyou’s and Hyorin’s slower, lower pitched
vocals being contributed, that portion helps alleviate the pre-choruses’ duller
structure.

Regarding
the lyrics, “I Swear” does earn a seven—something that may be unexpected given
the plot of the song. With the story behind the song, it is of the usual:
romantic, flirtatious love. What, then, makes it special? Details. Details are
what allow the lyrics to maintain its higher rating. First, consider a benefit
of the song containing two verses that are different. One answer is that it
provides the song more variety, but now another question to ask is variety in what? Sonically with the sections
themselves, but one must also remember another benefit: the lyrics. In other
words, the lyrics are more detailed as the verses are not repeated. Factor in
the rap and introduction and bridge, and that even repeated sections—the choruses
and pre-choruses—are already filled with their own ideas and lines, the lyrics
become enticing despite the somewhat usual plot. And last to add, especially
with the idea of two different verses, the choreography rates at above average.
Key points remain diverse, and more so with having less sections repeat. Also,
the key points themselves deserve spotlight for being focused not solely on
entire body movements, but also subtle ones such as with hands. Syncing,
without much need for explanation, also holds well considering many of the
movements link up with the song itself.

Overall,
Sistar’s “I Swear” scores at slightly above average for the song, but once
complementing the dance, the Overall Score is above average. Although I am, as
many, irked at how the sections distribution would reduce the score to a song
that is indeed quite charming, it is a point that once again needs to be considered.
Sistar’s weakest aspect to their songs is not so much on the sound of the
songs, but rather, is in how the songs are shared among members. Should the
section distribution be ignored, then it can be said with confidence that “I
Swear” is an impressive song.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, thank you so much for the request in the first place but for
also being very patient. As discussed above, work and simply being off-task
have contributed to this delay. But it is finally finished. I hope this review
is enjoyable, insightful, and of course that it provides moreover a discussion
versus that of a scientific claim. As for the other requester, I hope to finish
your request by tomorrow or at least by the start of the June. Likewise, I also
apologize for delaying it.

For
all other readers, thank you for reading this review whether in full or
skimmed. I sincerely appreciate all of the given time towards the blog. The
next review is another request, but it is one I am very excited for as it is on
a relatively popular duo, and that the artists have yet to be reviewed at all on
the blog. Plus, their musical style is very much different from the standard. Look
forward to the review, and after that request is done, expect a review on
Fiestar’s “Apple Pie.” I will stay as focused as possible. “I swear, I swear,
I-I swear.”

Hi! I always seem to come to you with a request. But this time it’s not Mamamoo! My first group, AKMU, recently had a comeback and I’d really like it if you could throw them into the queue for consideration. AKMU has a special place in my heart and they are very dear to me. :-)

Hello, and to comically share, I did expect a MAMAMOO request of some sort. On topic, I can definitely review the recent comeback by AKMU. While I am not an avid listener of the sibling duo, I am very much familiar with them and indeed, they are well known within the K-Pop realm even despite having a much different style than many other artists. Personally, their music is reminiscent of musical theaters; a lot of their songs and even concepts seem to fit with giving not so much usual choreography and singing, but rather, singing that fits with a stage acting type of choreography. But, considering how their concepts and lyrics can be very thought-invoking (for example, “Melted” made me bawl in tears due to both lyrics and music video–I highly recommend readers to give this a view and hear as it is such a powerful, critical critique of many societies’ ethics and structure), their musical and dancing styles perfectly fit. And besides, seldom are artists willing to put themselves at criticism for diving into subtle (or not so subtle) social topics, so much respect to AKMU in that regard.

Digression aside, I will debate on whether to review “Re-Bye” or “How People Move.” I am leaning towards the former, but as always please feel free to send another message to clarify if you would like one over the other, or if you would wish to see both. (Though if both are desired, due to time restraints I will have to hold off on the second until some time later.) Thanks for sending in the request. I will work hard to finish this along with another request I received earlier (and of which I will review first to be fair–though I am not always a fan of giving priority to the fastest person as that in of itself is never purely fair). Expect the review to come towards the end of May.

Can you review Sistar – I Swear?

Hello, and absolutely I can. That said, I am currently in the middle of a shorter review, but once that is finished, I will definitely work on this. Thanks for sending this in. I haven’t received review requests in quite some time, and furthermore, am pleasantly surprised that I would receive a request on a much older song. (“I Swear” came out during the summer of 2014 as I vividly recall.) Nevertheless, I very much look forward to reviewing the song considering it actually is one of my personal favorites and, from a biased standpoint, the best song Sistar has yet to release. (Is it statistically and neutrally the best? The review will help us find an answer.)

Jessica – “Fly” Review

Jessica – Fly (Music Video)

Jessica ft. Fabolous – Fly

Reviewed
on May 21, 2016

Personal Message:
And right when I wondered if there
would be more comebacks to review, I received my answer: There are many. I was
amidst reviewing a recent ballad (and within it, I hope, is an interesting
social discussion), but blatantly, plans have changed. Although that ballad
will be finished after this, indeed I am going to suddenly switch over to
review Jessica’s first song—her first song as “Jung Jessica” and not “Girls’
Generation’s Jessica.” (I will discuss this later as some may be curious on my
take. And yes, background will be provided in case readers have no idea.)
Furthermore to complicate the mess I am in, I do want to review AOA’s “Good
Luck,” the ladies’ latest comeback. Especially as it is their first song at all
that is not produced by Brave Sound, it would be interesting to dive into that.
(And there is a social discussion that could take place.) However, as some
readers may know, I do want to focus May on solely artists who have yet to be
reviewed and thus, may delay AOA’s review until June. We will see how this all
falls into place. On topic, though, let us focus on the artist at hand: Jessica.

First of all, admittedly I have not
been following news regarding Jessica; ever since finishing Jessica & Krystal, my favorite
reality show—and of which made me bawl a river down my face and onto my propped
up arms—I have not been keeping track of Jessica at all. At most is the news of
her “leaving” Girls’ Generation. (Notice the quotation marks. Please do not
misinterpret this word as me implying Jessica’s responsible for actually taking
action of leaving; I am using this word to simply get the message across. This topic
will be discussed below.) Otherwise, I have not been reading up on news
regarding her and her activities and thus, this song came as a very huge
surprise. But indeed, it is a welcomed surprise. I have always wondered if
Jessica would return to singing, and I now have my answer. Besides, it would be
a shame to lose her voice and singing skills so I am glad she did release her
own song.

That said, I am quite excited to
deconstruct “Fly” as, from my understanding of reading interviews, this song
has Jessica’s full input; how the song sounds and plays out are all to
Jessica’s discretion. In a group, this would be impossible if not due to
members disagreeing but also due to a label company making the ultimate
decisions. But then again, Jessica is in fact still under a label company: she
is working with Coridel Entertainment. Point is, Jessica’s input have all been
considered and therefore, “Fly” is in many ways a song that is representative
of Jessica’s music—this being something that makes this review even more
relevant (at least to me) as it is directly analyzing an idol’s hard work and
creativity. If all of this is still irrelevant to readers, then at least I
cannot be disagreed with when I say that “Fly” is the talk of many—fans and
music critiques—and thus, the review is still important in the usual sense.

Personal spouting aside (feel free
to skip to the review now), for a small digression that is to occur, although I
will not be investing much time here as this discussions falls into K-Pop news
and not sociology (the latter being, in my opinion, much more relevant to
readers on the basis of us being societal living human beings as the former is
just moreover entertainment), I do want to share my take on the very old
controversy: Jessica “leaving” Girls’ Generation. For background, as many
readers should know, Jessica is a former member of Girls’ Generation—a group
that is oftentimes deemed the “Queens of K-Pop” along with other female artists.
That said, though I believe I have shared my stance before about Jessica
departing from Girls’ Generation, this time around I will be much more thorough
in my explanations and even tackle certain provocative questions.

Before diving into the more complex
questions, let us weed out the simpler ones. The first one is perhaps what is
still going on two years (if correct) after the incident: Did Jessica leave the group? The emphasis
here is regarding who was in control of the outcome: Jessica, Girls’
Generation, or SM Entertainment? I have said this already, but it will be
repeated once again: we, as in us fans and audiences, will never know. Perhaps
in the far future when Girls’ Generation is retired and similarly the members
have individually retired, one might finally reveal the whole story (due to a
lack of repercussions at that point). Fans asking this question are essentially
asking if dogs sincerely feel love; evidence may exist on both sides, but in
the end, no one will ever quite know if dogs feel “love,” or the people who are
responsible for Jessica’s departure from the group. And truly said: does it
matter? Though I have been much harsher in the past such as with bashing boys with “privilege jokes”—refer
to many reviews in which I discuss and challenge male privilege
, it
does appear that no one has asked this somewhat rude yet important question.

Does it matter if we know who is
responsible? Say it was Jessica who made the decision and left her members
crying and begging her to stay. Though I can see the impact of such on fans’
respect, it seems to have no effect on the actual outcome of Jessica staying or
not. Likewise, if Girls’ Generation voted to kick Jessica as it would be best
for both parties, ignoring fans’ reactions, wouldn’t the outcome be identical?
This mixing and meshing can be played all day, and in the end, the same result
holds: decisions were made, and the people responsible are not as relevant as
facing what did happen. Certainly, though,
I do believe that this entire incident was desired to be avoided in the first
place: Girls’ Generation would want to keep Jessica if it was possible to;
Jessica would have desired to remain a part of the group if it was possible to;
and SM Entertainment would have wished to keep Jessica a part of the group if
it was possible to. This situation is far from wanted and thus, finding culprits
to blame is meaningless as none of them truly wanted this event to even occur.
Who would?

With the more basic layer out of the
way, for the more complex questions, one is: Are group idols’ relationships
fake? Now this is a question definitely worth critically engaging with and
perhaps it can extend beyond K-Pop news and moreover into pop culture in
general. Sharing my answer (and to answer this question before diving into even
more complicated ones), I strongly doubt friendships in groups are “for the
cameras.” However, that said, the degree of said friendships can definitely
vary—but indeed I do assert that there are very few if any fake friendships in
groups. Explaining why I believe so, let us first focus on Jessica and Girls’
Generation. In recent news, Jessica has shared that she does keep in contact
with some members. Not all, but some. The others she admits she no longer talks
to at all. What does this mean? It means for sure there are genuine
relationships that are built, but simultaneously, if the former claim is to be
deemed true, then this is also definite proof that some relationships might
have been “faked.” Or is that so? Let us take our attention to “faking”
relationships.

To explain why “faking
relationships” may not quite be the case, I will use multiple examples. We will
equate Girls’ Generation to, for readers’ understanding and perhaps even
relatedness, a sports team—or any team for that matter. (If simpler, just think
of Girls’ Generation as a music group team—this being what they are.) With this
now in mind, let us think of a basketball team—professional, school, it doesn’t
matter specifically. Everyone on the team are essentially friends; there may be
some bickering among the ladies and even some occasional fights, but all can be
considered friends. Why? They all share the same goal: to win—in Girls’
Generation’s case, their win is to reach high popularity, flourish financially,
and to have fans’ love and respect. This is all great, but what happens when said
goal is gone, such as when the group or team disbands? The sad truth: not every
member will keep in touch as friends. In fact, some members may no longer even
view certain members as friends but rather as former working partners or former
teammates. Since I am focused moreover on disciplines of English, education and
sociology, I cannot make psychological comments on this case. But point is, it
does seem that once a teamwork mentality is gone, friendships that were founded
on such will break apart as that very foundation is now gone. This is not
inherently atrocious; if the members have left on good terms with each
other—respecting one another’s decisions and enjoying the time spent together
working—there is no problem at all. Since this may all still be confusing,
perhaps a personal anecdote may help.

Although I am questioning if I
should share this story, to be honest with readers and to hopefully elicit some
readers laughing at me, I was once on a team—a very special team. (If there are
any left, readers who have been here since my newbie reviews may know what I am
embarrassingly hinting at.) Indeed, if I am not nerdy and pitiful enough today,
I was even more so in the past. Hard to imagine, I know. I used to play on an
“esports” team—in other words, a team for playing video games competitively
with tournaments and all. Yes this is where laughing can occur. And readers thought
that I currently have no life. Think again! (Despite my many regrets of
participating in that, I actually do appreciate the amount of time invested
into esports as it taught me a lot about leadership, people management,
responsibility, and so forth. Also, esports may become a norm in the far
future. Besides, it has all the traits of “standard” sports: sexist, racist,
homophobic, ableist slurs, unfairly dominated by boys, that women’s sports need
to receive much more attention and respect in juxtaposition to men’s, and—is
this going too far? Let us save this for another review.)

My blush-inducing background aside,
Jessica’s relationship with Girls’ Generation is something I can perfectly
understand and for why I oppose that “fake friendships” were made. It has been
two years since I last played on the esports team. Initially after disbandment
I did keep in touch with the members. Fast forward to now, to no surprise, I no
longer contact them and vice-versa. At most I do still talk to one member, but
that is because she would occasionally invite me for a game or two. Even then,
our contact is that of working partners—of being teammates—than of genuine
friendships where we would discuss how our lives have been going. This is
similar if not an exact replica of what may be going on among Jessica and
Girls’ Generation members. I was certainly close with all of the members and I
confidently say we did very much care about each other and more so than just as
teammates. However, once the team disbanded and we no longer shared the common
goal of improving and winning matches, as seen, the friendships have stopped.
Translating this to Girls’ Generation’s and Jessica’s case, they all were very
likely genuinely close, but with parting ways, it just happens that
relationships are lost. But as noticed, was I “faking” my relationships with my
former teammates? Not at all. Was Jessica? Very likely not as well. In Girls’
Generation, all may have been close, but once splitting ways, their
relationships have been lost—and as noticed, not due to any malicious acts at
all. Rather, it is just how it goes if the relationship was founded on the
group, and said group is now gone. (Readers who are knowledgeable in psychology
should feel free to make a fool out of me and rip apart my argument if my
reasons are entirely false. I would love to be respectfully destroyed.)

Randomly pulling in another example,
even groups that are known to be very close to each other—MAMAMOO for
example—may one day face the same circumstances. With MAMAMOO sharing their
initial negative experiences of each other (minus those who have known each
other prior to MAMAMOO being made) but have, over time, begun to sincerely love
one another, as seen by the ladies providing very healthy relationship examples
such as with MoonSun,
the dating couple of Solar and Moonbyul—and yes, I very much went there with
MAMAMOO “shipping” jokes, and of which I will one day seriously discuss in a
sociological context
, it would seem impossible for the ladies to part
ways after MAMAMOO retires. But, as discussed all above, the members may no
longer be as close once their glue—their goal of reaching popularity and so
on—is gone. Now MAMAMOO may indeed stay close—and relating to Jessica, as
Jessica is with certain members—however, likewise MAMAMOO may also drift apart.
And that is not automatically bad at all, as discussed. Overall, the main
argument I am asserting is that the “fake friendship” and “Girls’ Generation
are fake women” comments lose much of their grounding once my explanation is
ran through.

Since this discussion has gone for
an unexpected length, let me summarize what has been so far covered: Regarding
the incident itself, we will never know—or at least not until maybe ten more
years or so—the truth behind Jessica’s departure from Girls’ Generation. Was it
the members’ decision, SM Entertainment, or Jessica? In the end, fans will
never know and, as discussed, this mystery is rather irrelevant. For the next
part covered, I explained why the ladies’ relationships were very likely not fake. The “group mentality” is the
reason for their closeness and now the lack thereof for certain members and
Jessica.

Ultimately, for what may conclude
this discussion and for what may make this all relevant to us as consumers of
pop culture, we all might wonder: should
groups, in the first place, be entirely honest with their members’
relationships? I will unfortunately not dive into this, even though it is
arguably the most important topic out of this whole digression. Some aspects to
consider may be whether idols should provide a depiction of healthy
relationships—even if truthfully that is not, or if honesty is to be valued over
all else, and thus, idols should act earnestly. Readers will have to decide
this for themselves. If there is anything I hope to share with readers, it is
that there is seldom a single answer. Be it in my reviews or social
digressions, I hope I showcase that topics are never about good and bad, right
and left; debates and topics are about looking up and down. It is about
understanding multiple perspectives.

I claimed I would not talk for long
about standard K-Pop news, but then again, when I have ever not excessively
talked about anything? From dogs to sexism to makeup to White privilege, that
seems to be the case. Jokes and discussion aside, we should now focus on the
review itself. Biasedly, I do find myself enjoying “Fly,” but I admit: this
song is lackluster from a critical lens. In fact, “Fly” is the first song in
which a specific category has scored incredibly low—the prior lowest record was
five if I recall accurately. All that said, while Jessica is absolutely flying
despite her huge struggles, sadly the same cannot be said for “Fly.” It very
much is losing altitude, and no amount of tears I shed during Jessica & Krystal will change that.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(5.50/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 6/10
(5.50/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 5/10

6.     Bridge: 5/10

7.     Rap: 4/10

8.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 3/10


Section Distribution: X/10

Jessica:
All

Equal Value: X sections per member.  


Lyrics: 6/10

Invisible in the fog
I have to find myself, yeah
The hope in that small light,
just by thinking about it, you’ll find it

When I hold my hand out to that high place,
it feels like I can touch it
Days I looked forward to, are they closer now?
I can draw it in the sky

Just spread your wings to the end
Follow the sound of your heartbeat
Close your eyes, spread out your dreams
You’re a hero you can fly
You can fly

Whoa whoa whoa
You’re a hero you can fly
Whoa whoa whoa
You can fly

A world that you’ve never seen before
will appear before you
Fly above the clouds
‘cause your wings are made to fly

When I hold my hand out to that high place,
it feels like I can touch it
Days I looked forward to, are they closer now?
I can draw it in the sky

Just spread your wings to the end
Follow the sound of your heartbeat
Close your eyes, spread out your dreams
You’re a hero you can fly
You can fly

Whoa whoa whoa
You’re a hero you can fly
Whoa whoa whoa
You can fly

I won’t cry now
I won’t give up
I won’t lose, I won’t lose
Oh no no no no no

Yeah, let’s go, Jess
You should’ve never doubted yourself
Matter of fact you should be proud of yourself
’cause you had to find a way to go about it yourself
Nobody gave you direction, had to route it yourself
And you never got lost, losing’s not an option
No time for L’s, no time to fail
Winning like Steph Curry and them we warriors
Haters wanna see me in a Crown Victoria
But I’m in a Benz, a.c. on 70
Won’t lose my cool gotta move cleverly
Chess not checkers playing it with strategy
Me and Jessica: that’s a win automatically

Just spread your wings to the end
Follow the sound of your heartbeat
Close your eyes, spread out your dreams
You’re a hero you can fly
You can fly

Whoa whoa whoa
You’re a hero you can fly
Whoa whoa whoa
You can fly

Choreography Score: */10 (x/10 raw score)

– Syncing: */10

– Key Points: */10

*There
is a dance according to the music video, but since as of this sentence (May 17) I am
personally unsure on whether Jessica will be releasing a dance practice, dance
version, or even live performances, I will skip analyzing it.

Overall Score: */10
(x/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Highlighting
fun facts, the Song Score and Sections category both manage to earn a six by a
mere decimal. On topic with the song, let us look at what I hinted earlier: the
lowest rating out of all reviews (to date) in a certain category. Which
category? The instrumental. First to clarify, contrary to many, the sound of
the instrumental is not at fault; how the instrumental itself sounds
individually with its heavier bass and lighter piano keys are not bad at all. The
instrumental can absolutely hold its own without Jessica’s vocals. Furthermore,
and for what many have critiqued, the lack of “middle sounds” in the
instrumental is nothing inherently bad at all. Reason being is that this aspect
is moreover stylistic and thus, should not be critiqued in of itself. For example, there are songs out there where the
instrumental is heavily focused on higher notes and the middle and lower notes
are minimal to nonexistent. This is not an issue; it is merely the style of the
song. Claiming an instrumental that lacks a balance of sound pitches is
mediocre would be to critique style and not quality—the actual functions that
are happening. Translating this idea over, it is unfair to claim that the
instrumental in “Fly” is poor due to it merely
not having middle pitched sounds. Now, to clarify once again, if one were to
expand this point, then perhaps a critique can be made—and this is where I will
continue. In other words, while many people are right to point out the
instrumental lacks middle sounds, ending the conversation there is insufficient.
For where my argument comes in with this aspect of the instrumental, I do agree
that the lack of middle sounds is problematic—but not in of itself. Lacking of
synchronicity between vocals and instrumental is where issues occur, and the
lack of middle sounds in the instrumental is one culprit.

If
we are to closely tune in with the instrumental while Jessica is singing, there
is a noticeable “gap”: the heavier bass line is on the bottom and Jessica’s
vocals are at the top. Certainly one could dismiss this as stylistic, but I
will take the risk and say that it is more than style at this point. The
instrumental is simply overwhelming once coupled with Jessica’s voice. Rather
than two aspects combining and giving a cohesive, clean sound, there is
dissonance. In many ways, “Fly” begins to sound as if there are two songs in
one during the choruses and pre-choruses: the instrumental song and the singing
song. This, indeed, starts becoming an issue. Middle sounds might have been
able to connect the two, but as of now, the instrumental is very much unsuitable
to the vocals and conversely. Lastly to add to the dissonance issue—if we
should use that term—is how even simple syncing fails to occur. Jessica’s
belting during the choruses and her lines at the post-choruses appear to
perfectly accommodate correctly timed bass lines, but instead, “Fly” opts to
not sync the bass line to Jessica’s singing—another point that leads to
dissonance. Overall, the instrumental in “Fly” in of itself is perfectly fine,
but once accounting for its role in the entire song and with the vocals and
sections, it becomes incredibly lacking and in many ways fails to fulfill its
basic role.

With
the biggest criticism out of the way, and before returning to the other weaker
point, let us focus on one of the strengths: the lyrics. Before resuming a
neutral, serious tone, I do want to credit Jessica’s message in “Fly,” and
also, to simply appreciate how Jessica did not give up despite her significant
setbacks—of which seems to be reflected in the lyrics. That aside, the lyrics
are decent. Ignoring the lyrics’ meaning—something that is entirely subjective
and thus will be avoided in grading—the score is at a six for two main reasons:
creative ideas that are, sadly, muddled by repetition. Explaining the first
reason, by gauging just solely the details, “Fly” seems rather creative. The
rap, for example, is full of many intriguing and witty points and rhymes, and
other parts, such as the choruses, are equally with details. Additionally, the
overall plot of “Fly,” if “plot” is appropriate, can be deemed unique. After
all, it is not about heartache or falling in love. As for the downside,
repetition unfortunately prevents the lyrics from a would-be seven. With every
section minus the verses and rap not being individually unique, “Fly” ‘s
charming details are no longer so as it all becomes mundane. If the
post-choruses, for example, were more than the usual “whoa” and “oh,” or if the
bridge was more than basic phrases, perhaps this issue of repetition would be
avoided.

Both
the vocals and sections are left to discuss, but since I do want to end on a
positive point (and for a concluding point, not so that the review ends
favorably), we will now glance at the latter—and indeed, this is hinting that
the sections are not a strong point
to the song. Now with that said, many may be keen to notice some potential hypocrisy:
the lyrics, a six, were rendered “decent,” and yet the sections, a six, are
suddenly not equally praised. That sounds biased and hypocritical. Although
statistically it is true that the sections are a six, this very argument can be
reversed: as said much earlier in the review, it should be noted that the
sections category is only a decimal away from being a five—average. But, even
without playing around with numbers, the sections themselves are far from
stellar. It is Jessica’s vocals that very much allow them to thrive, hence why
I do consider the category weaker than the lyrics even if statistically they
are equal.

For
example, the verses, pre-choruses, and choruses progress well—if only tracking
the vocals. Otherwise the progression is dull and, furthermore, is rather inconsistent.
The transition from the verse to pre-chorus does not exist as both sections are
exceptionally similar, and yet the transition from the pre-chorus to chorus is
very much noticeable. Besides minor transition issues, there is also the
problem in the sections themselves. Take the post-choruses as example. These
sections are the epitome of standard post-choruses: reusing words of “whoa” and
“oh” in a cycle. Again as discussed before, that format in of itself is far
from flawed; there is nothing wrong at all for a song to repeat “la la” for example.
However, the execution and placement matters, and in “Fly,” it comes off as too
plain considering the already disconnected vocals and instrumental and the
stagnant, inconsistent progression of the song. Other sections could also be
discussed, such as the rap being misplaced and overall not matching up to the
style of the song, or how the bridge akin to the post-choruses with being too
standard in form, but I believe the main ideas are covered.

Ending
on the positive point, and explaining why I chose to do so, the vocals will
finally be discussed. Quite directly: Jessica is a solid singer. From her
beltings throughout nearly all of the sections to sharp, crisp vocals at the post-choruses
to lower, passive singing at the bridge, Jessica’s singing is what allows “Fly”
to not utterly fall from the sky. And for why this is relevant to consider:
critiquing “Fly” is in no way to critique Jessica’s singing. Oftentimes “vocals”
and “song” are misconstrued as synonymous, but that is clearly far from true.
Nevertheless, this does show that it takes more than Jessica’s singing for a
song to thrive: it also takes excellent composing on the other categories. And
true Jessica may have had much influence on the other parts, but it can still
be said that Jessica is indeed an impressive singer. On topic, Jessica’s vocals
remain extremely versatile in “Fly” as discussed above. Within the song, she is
able to show off a diverse range of pitches, but also that of styles and
intensity. Truly, if not for this single aspect to “Fly,” much of the song—if not
all—would falter.

In
the end, Jessica’s first song still scores decently, but indeed it is far from
a comfortable standing as anything lowered—even a mere change in a section’s
score—would bring “Fly” to an average instead of slightly above average (a six).
The vocals are worth admiring and somewhat the lyrics, but in truth I do admit
to being slightly disappointed with the sections, and very much the
instrumental’s lack of syncing to the song in whole. Nonetheless, it is a song worth
enjoying and respecting given all the work Jessica invested towards it. And
though the following words may somehow be taken as controversial, I do consider
Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany’s own solo debut as equal to Jessica’s. Rather than
fighting over who has the better song, as Tiffany herself said: let us instead
be supportive to anyone—Jessica or Tiffany—who works to bring music to fans.
Focusing on Jessica, however, I will leave with saying I highly look forward to
her future songs, and I only expect her to improve from hereon.

_______________________________________________________

As
I always say, thank you for reading. Unfortunately this review became delayed
for a total of three days. Originally, May 18 was when it would be finished,
but due to delays with taking my girl to the vet and preparing to register for
summer classes, this review was pushed back. Nonetheless it is here. Many
reviews are to come, and many important topics are to be covered. (And I have
heard of the recent tragic in South Korea where a schizophrenic male murdered a
woman out of sexist hatred. I will try to cover the sad news in a review and to
discuss why this incident matters to us all.) In terms of when the next review
will come or what it even will be on, I plan on finishing the ballad review I
started. But, I might abruptly change plans once again. There are little days
left in May, but do expect at the least one more to come before the month ends.
(I am aiming for two more.) Besides, as Jessica says: “Just spread your wings
to the end” so that you can fly-fast-enough-to-write-two-reviews-in-time. Look
forward to whatever is to come.

Tiffany – “I Just Wanna Dance” Review

Tiffany
– I Just Wanna Dance (Music Video)

Edit: Tiffany – I Just Wanna Dance (Live Performance)

Tiffany (from Girls’ Generation) – I
Just Wanna Dance

Reviewed
on May 13, 2016

image

Personal Message:
Technically this review can be
considered a request considering a close friend has been strongly urging me to
listen to this song. And indeed, I finally heeded her request and additionally,
have done more than just a single listen as I have been replaying the song for
the purpose of analysis (and enjoyment). Clarifying, my friend is a huge fan of
Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany—though that is expected since her conceited nature would make her love
an idol who coincidentally shares her name
 considering she admires
amazing female idols, be it Apink’s Chorong or Tiffany. Also in no way is my
friend narcissistic at all. Besides, she would never threaten me to give higher
ratings just to fulfill her delusional love for Tiffany. Not even I would ever
be delusional like with claiming that SPICA’s Boa will one day propose to me. Horrible
(inside) jokes aside, although I may be reviewing this song prematurely (as of
this sentence, live performances and/or dance practice have not been uploaded),
I am fine with delaying its post until the choreography is revealed. Nevertheless,
with small clips being uploaded, I very much look forward to the
dance. (From the linked clip, there are fantastic syncing and smooth dancing
points.)

In terms of some delay with reviews,
there are predominantly two reasons: one, I have been busy subtitling videos of
Fiestar, and two, admittedly I have been simply spending a lot of time with my
recently adopted girl. (For readers who are tired of me talking about Venus, my
adorable girl, and “woman’s best friend” in general, feel free to skip ahead.
This will be the last time I directly discuss dogs and Venus as I simply wish
to share a post-adoption reflection with readers who potentially may be
debating on getting a dog or not. Consider this a final bonus before usual
sociological digressions return—and of which many are prepared for the upcoming
reviews in May.)

Regarding dog ownership, as a few
readers may know, on May 1 I adopted Venus from an animal shelter. (On a random
note, I personally do encourage adopting over buying. Unequivocally, “puppy
mills”—puppies sold in a generic pet store—are to be avoided. That is not due
to the puppies in of themselves, but rather, boycotting those puppies is
refusing to participate in an unethical method of mass-breeding dogs as if they
were mere toys. Now regarding buying a purebred puppy from an ethical breeder,
I do find this acceptable if one has
thoroughly considered adopting first.) With nearly two weeks being together
with Venus, I want to now share my post-adoption reflection. Especially with
finally knowing what it means to be a dog parent, I do wish to bestow my
experience and knowledge to readers as potentially, there is a reader who is
contemplating getting a dog now or sometime in the future.

As a disclaimer, however, my
experiences are greatly biased; Venus was very likely an abandoned girl who was
owned before by others. Thus, truthfully I did not have much housebreaking to
deal with—this being something many adopters have to face. The only accident
that has ever occurred was her defecating at the vet office, but that was my
fault as I was still unsure of how to organize a potty schedule for her. (I
will discuss tips later.) Otherwise, she knew how to potty outside and on
schedule from the first day, and assuming she does not have “sniff and potty time”
on walks, knows not to pull on leash. Now regarding issues Venus did come with,
during one night she did get into the trash, but once again, that was
understandably my fault as I had given her only twenty minutes of exercise that
day—an amount that would hardly satisfy the terrier and Dachshund in her, even
if her personality is moreover laid back. In terms of more serious problems, unfortunately
as I have noticed lately, she can become overly excited and seemingly
aggressive towards dogs (and certainly aggressive towards cats), but these are
behavior issues I can cope with and attempt to correct. (And in fact to share,
for another candidate that was in mind, I originally considered adopting a very
dog-aggressive girl. Reason being that, with my lifestyle, we would be a match;
I am not the type of owner who would go to dog parks and, simply said, I spend
no time with other dogs besides my own. While I do try to bring positive dog
socialization experiences whenever we do encounter other dogs, I do sadly fall
short in this realm of dog parenting.) On the positive side, however, what
matters is that my girl is great with humans, and that indeed Venus is (along
with the earlier dog-aggressive candidate). I am certainly working on
correcting Venus’ manners with dogs, but again the fact that she is not
“go-ready” with dogs is not personally a huge detriment, though for some that
would be.

On topic, with having two weeks’
worth of experience of “saving a life and opening a chance for another”—a
notion that still has yet to hit me—I will now answer the big question: Was it
worth adopting a dog? Better said, is
it worth adopting a dog or simply having a dog? Shortly answered, even if this
sounds incredibly pitiful: owning a dog finally makes me feel at ease and
genuinely cheerful at home. There is a grace to dogs that cannot be articulated
in words. Prior to Venus, admittedly my family and I were never quite happy if
at all with being at home. Now with her, the idea of family is truly felt—a
feeling I had not felt since I was a little kid. (Yes, this may be a more
intimate side, but as I always say, I want to share with readers and even
future students for that matter pure honesty.) What about her brings this joy
and connection I do not know, but it is undeniable that she does bring them.
Now although this all sounds good and perfect, I admit: I had huge regrets the
first three days.

I was overwhelmed: my daily routine
had to be completely changed; I am her legal owner and thus had and have the
responsibility of setting vet appointments and other paperwork; I came to the
late realization that I was a dog parent now
and not in three years, and therefore, was not quite emotionally prepared; and
lastly, I just did not know how to give her the best life possible—mentally,
emotionally, and physically. If anyone is in a similar situation I was in or
will be adopting a dog soon, heed my words of encouragement: give it a week.
Not one day, five days, or three days; give the girl/boy an entire week and see
if you two are compatible. To clarify, by “give the girl/boy an entire week” I
do not mean giving her that time to
see if she is the “right” one; this is unreliable as some dogs may need a whole
month to finally blossom with their sincere personality and traits. Instead, I
mean that in the sense of giving you
time to decide if you are responsible and capable of giving a companion the
best life she could ask for. Giving a week allows for the necessary time to
adjust one’s personal schedule, to thoroughly think versus acting off of
emotions, and to gauge the real costs—literal and figurative—of being a pet
parent.

In terms of perhaps the best tip I
can give to readers who are prospective or recent adopters: whatever
assumptions are in mind, forget them. Think you know how much it costs for a
dog? It is much more or less than what you are currently thinking. Think you
know how to properly prevent a dog from pulling on walks through calmness and
assertiveness? Think again. Think you know how to teach fetch to a dog? It will
be easier or harder than what is currently thought of. Point is, we all have an
idea of what it would be like to own a dog—both pessimistic and optimistic
views. None of it is true. Given that dogs are individuals with their own
quirks and personalities, it is just simply too hard to create borders about
what it is like to own a dog. Clarifying, I do acknowledge that some patterns
can be expected; an example would be that a vast majority of Doberman owners
have to invest much time with mental and physical exercises for their girl/boy.
But still, in terms of the minutia, it cannot be easily predicted. For personal
examples, I taught fetch to Venus in merely ten minutes. Who knew that tossing
her favorite rope would cause her to instinctively bring it back to me for a
short game of tug, and of which I can then throw and she will repeat? I had
treats ready to teach fetch systematically, but my assumptions were false.
Similarly, I did not expect vet bills—exams, vaccines, and so forth—to be as
pricey as they currently are. And for a final example, I did not expect that by
Day 6 she would suddenly be less shy and much more energetic and
playful—changes that meant I had to add twenty more total minutes into our
walks and night playtime. Be open-minded with your new or upcoming dog. In
fact, be very open to whomever she happens to be; you might be entering a
shelter looking for a cute, smaller boy but instead come out with an adorable,
sweet Pit Bull mix boy who perfectly matches your lifestyle and energy level.

On this note, regarding actual
adoption tips, for one I do wish to reassure readers who are going to adopt
soon that the process—the mechanical process and not the emotional and
financial preparation and disputes—is far from difficult. From my experience,
that is. In short: you enter a shelter, fill out a questionnaire, request
specific dogs to see, and then wait around thirty minutes to an hour and then
you are allowed to meet four or so dogs (one at a time) before having to get
back in line (waiting thirty to an hour once again). It is recommended that you
know the dogs prior to setting up a meeting, be it seeing them in person at the
kennels or browsing through the available dogs online. Furthermore, it is
recommended that you know what you
are looking for; again, not who per
se such as “I want a Rottweiler” or “I want a Toy Poodle.” Rather, you want to know
what qualities and traits you want in a dog. For example, asking yourself
whether shedding would be an issue and asking how much exercise you would want
with your girl/boy are far more useful than looking for a specific size and
breed. And from there, an adoption counselor would help you through the process
of finding the right match, and if all goes well, a new family member will be
coming home shortly.

Sharing the biggest tip in deciding
the best candidate, as hinted at earlier, energy level is perhaps the most important
factor to consider. Why? This is where individuality matters over, for
examples, breed and size. If I come into the shelter looking for a jogging pal
and instantly pick a gorgeous Border Collie mix—of whom, according to
standards, should be very active
mentally and physically—I would be making a horrible decision. There is a
chance that she, despite her breed’s characteristics, would be a very lazy girl
who desires to simply walk for thirty minutes and to lay down for the rest of
the day. Conversely, I might have then overlooked a tiny Rat Terrier who would
have, despite initial judgment on size, been the perfect jogging companion. And,
although I should have addressed this at first, for why energy level even
matters in the first place: physical and mental exercises are critical with
being a dog parent. Owning a dog is not about pure love and affection—these are
absolutely necessary, but they should come after daily training and mental and
physical exercises. Without being able to properly offer your dog the right
amount of exercises, if not the behavioral issues that are to come, then at
least consider the ethical side. It is unfair to overwork a slow senior
Labrador who only desires to rest because one desires a marathon companion, and
likewise it is unfair to not be able to provide an exceptionally energetic,
young puppy the mental and physical exercises it needs. All in all, this is
where being open-minded matters and to be open with allowing adoption
counselors to help guide the process.

Overall, to summarize this minor
reflection (and tips), while I did have initial regrets with adopting a dog, I
am now incredibly satisfied and no longer regret doing so. In fact I wonder why
I did not own a dog sooner. Venus brings me so much joy, teaches me
selflessness and responsibility, motivates me to get my cardio exercise, and so
much more. To end on a cliché saying: I am not sure on who saved who.

Returning back to the review and
K-Pop, Tiffany’s solo has been garnering much praise as of the late. Many love
her song, singing, performances, and other aspects. More extremely, there are
those who are citing “I Just Wanna Dance” as the best summer song they have yet
to hear—or was that just my friend? Jokes aside, let us uncover whether Tiffany’s
first solo song is a song that makes me “just wanna dance.”

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(6.0/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 6/10
(5.83/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 6/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Section Distribution: X/10

Tiffany:
All

Equal Value: X sections per member.  


Lyrics: 6/10

It’s been raining for a few days and
it finally stopped tonight
I feel good
Light reflects on the wet streets

The city is like an empty stage
after a show ends
It’s alright, it’s alright
Into the wet air
The street lights shine on me
I like it, my body is moving

I just wanna dance the night away
As I close my eyes, dance in the moonlight
It’s getting hotter
I can’t stop myself, no way
I just wanna dance the night away
Dance the night away
I just wanna dance the night away
Dance the night away
I just wanna

I wanna get more messed up
than being immersed in a very sad movie

The headlights are like
the rhythm dancing on the highway
It’s alright, it’s alright
The buildings that completely fill up the space
are like an audience
Everything is ready

I just wanna dance the night away
As I close my eyes, dance in the moonlight
It’s getting hotter
I can’t stop myself, no way
I just wanna dance the night away
Dance the night away
I just wanna dance the night away
Dance the night away
I just wanna

I hid myself behind the masks
that change every day
I just wanna
get more honest right now

I just wanna dance the night away
In the beat that my city has made
I’m falling deeper
In this moment, I feel the real me
I just wanna dance the night away
(I just wanna, I just wanna dance)
Dance the night away
I just wanna dance the night away
(I just wanna)
Dance the night away
I just wanna

Choreography Score: X/10 (x/10 raw score)

– Syncing: X/10

– Key Points: X/10

*The
choreography does exist, but as of the time of writing, none have been
officially uploaded. Thus, to keep reviews going, I will be skipping it.

Edit: Well, it is too late to review the choreography, but I have linked the live performance to the song. Feel free to watch it–and not for the review, but as a way to respect Tiffany’s hard work at the least.

Overall Score: X/10
(x/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: For
purpose of speed and experimenting, I will be taking a new approach with this
review. Rather than being systematic, I will opt for an informal yet serious
tone. As such, I hope the review will begin sounding moreover as commentary versus
that of a report. Before embarking on that, for some clarification, I do want
to address why I am not analyzing the choreography. It is not because it does
not exist in the first place; video clips and teasers clearly show that a dance
exists. Rather, I am excluding it as, sadly, there is no official upload yet of
it. Thus, I could either delay this review until a video is released, or I
could skip it and focus instead on the sonic component to “I Just Wanna Dance”—the
latter being what I am doing. (From clips, I would predict the choreography
scoring at perhaps a seven, for those curious.)

Focusing
on the actual review now, let us begin with the introduction—a suiting,
chronological start. “I Just Wanna Dance” does possess a smooth introduction.
With it being gradual in progression, it allows us to get into the song without
feeling overwhelmed or lost, but furthermore, the introduction creates
anticipation as it is a very calm, muffled sound. After all, with hearing the
introduction, listeners are able to grasp the style of “I Just Wanna Dance”
without knowing exactly how the song will go down. All of these aspects—hooking
listeners and creating anticipation—are all welcomed and desired for a solid
introduction. Nonetheless, what slightly holds down this section is the sound
itself, the instrumental, is nothing outstandingly appealing. A muffled,
quieter instrumental is used, and while those traits are not inherently bad or
ineffective (far from the case as seen), the delivery of such in “I Just Wanna
Dance” is simply too plain for sonic appeal. There is nothing engrossing of the
instrumental; it is the structure of the introduction that is enticing, not the
sound per se.

Transitioning
now to the verse and pre-choruses, the gradual buildup should be highly
appreciated. The progression from a calm state to a more excited state is
nothing underwhelming or overwhelming—it is perfect. Additionally, all while
the two sections are pushing “I Just Wanna Dance” to its choruses, decent
vocals are unveiled. Now that said, although the sections play off Tiffany’s huskier
yet sharp singing voice, admittedly there is nothing infatuating with her
singing melody, pitches, and control. The vocals perform their role in the
verses and pre-choruses, but nothing more. Before misunderstandings occur, the
prior critique is not to bash Tiffany’s general singing; indeed she is a solid
singer and is quite capable. However, in this song and specifically those
sections, the vocals are, harshly said, nothing worthy of admiring nor of
disliking. What weakens these sections is that, despite the solid progressions,
the vocals and instrumental are simply lacking in appeal. There is no
intriguing, complex melodies nor simple melodies that prove infatuating. During
these moments, “I Just Wanna Dance” can be dismissed as any other average pop
song—hence the sections’ scores.

As
a summary: so far, from what we can tell, the vocals and instrumental are
moreover average, and likewise the song’s sections seem to follow suit with being
average. Perhaps the choruses could change these points. In terms of the
mentioned sections, “I Just Wanna Dance” does have a unique style for them—though
it should be noted it takes more than just
differing styles to create appeal. With the choruses, a keen feature is that
rather than the vocals reaching a climactic state, it is actually the
instrumental that does. Tiffany’s vocals remain moreover the same as prior
sections, and although that does not help with the vocals’ rating, on the
positive side the section thrives with its instrumental taking the lead—specifically
that of being able to mesh well with the plainer singing. Mixing the slower,
electronic beat with Tiffany’s vocals—of which are quietly echoing and
reverberating—allows the choruses to become an incredible concise, cohesive and
highlighted section. Lastly to praise, the section deserves credit for how,
towards the latter half, a change in pacing occurs. In fact, one could argue a post-chorus
becomes active, but from my take, I still do consider it as one chorus given
how it all links together. But regardless of the label, it is certain that the
change in pacing provides some variety to “I Just Wanna Dance,” a change that
is definitely necessary after the verse, pre-choruses, and initial half of
choruses being incredibly repetitive and undeviating. Unfortunately, although
there is much praise for the choruses, there are still equally prominent
issues: the song overall still relies on the same, linear route that is seen
throughout. In other words, although there is nothing wrong with a  linear style (as seen in ballads), with “I
Just Wanna Dance,” it does become problematic as all of the sections still do
sound awfully alike. From the verse to chorus, even with the slight change in
pace with the choruses’ latter half, the song in an overarching view still
retains its slower, unchanging instrumental and vocals. This all leads to a
tedious sounding song.

Even
with accounting for the bridge, while one could argue that the bridge provides
the song its variety, I disagree. The bridge only elevates the vocals and
instrumental pitches, but in the end, the same repetitive, linear style is
followed—a style that makes “I Just Wanna Dance” sound like any other pop song.
At most, for a part that deserves spotlight, the song does end on a strong note—no
pun intended. The ending chorus is accompanied by two-part singing, of which
finally gives “I Just Wanna Dance” its variety, both in vocals and instrumental.
In fact, it is this point that convinces me to give the vocals not a five, but
instead, a six as Tiffany is showcasing stunning two-part singing.

Since
this review is admittedly more jumbled than desired, let us now wrap this all
up. In the end, “I Just Wanna Dance” has slightly above average vocals. The
stagnant, repetitive vocals are what contribute to that. Adding on, however, the
final chorus where two-part singing occurs is what helps maintain it at that rating
and not drop to a mere “average.” Homogeneously, the same can be said for the
instrumental. Though catchy, the instrumental fails to provide variety and
thus, said catchiness soon becomes distasteful. As for the sections, as
covered, all have their strengths and weaknesses though, once again, the same
issue is seen: staleness. All of the sections fail to provide a unique aspect
to the song, even if there are some stronger points individually per section.
And lastly, even the lyrics are only slightly above average, reason being that
dull, repeated details lower the rating while the plot and certain lines are
interesting. Overall, Tiffany’s solo of “I Just Wanna Dance” is, contrary to
many fans and listeners, not an absolute, captivating song. Instead, it is only
slightly above average. This, however, does not mean the song is bad; the song is
definitely not bad. But, even so, I would hesitate to say this song is “good.”
It is enjoyable and biasedly I have been listening to it, but if being neutral
I do claim the song is only slightly above average. After all, the best way to
describe “I Just Wanna Dance” is that it is a usual pop song—nothing more or
less.

_______________________________________________________

As
always, thank you to all for reading. Strangely enough I did find this form of
writing more accessible—if that makes sense. I did not feel restrained with
writing, and I hoped to keep a conversational tone going. Feedback, as always,
would be appreciated. I will do more experimenting, but the main style I wish
to now have with reviews is that of a casual, conversational tone. Deviating
away from the usual “vocals are this, sections are this, etc.” seems to help.
Again, more to experimented with.

In
terms of the next review, I do have one in mind along with, I hope, an interesting
digression. However, to cleverly conceal how I am uncertain about exactly the
next review, I will instead tell readers to simply look forward to it. Look
forward to the next review. On a more serious note, the following reviews will
all be of artists that have yet to be reviewed, and furthermore, a bonus show
review will be coming. With the extra time during summer, I do hope to catch up
and to even start storing reviews for the upcoming school year. (And indeed I
am going to take one course during the summer so that I am not overwhelmed next
semester.)

Look
forward to either a trot or ballad song, and for anything else that is to come.
“I just wanna dance the night away” with more reviews—if this even makes any
sense at all.

BTOB  – “It’s Okay” Review

BTOB
– It’s Okay (Music Video Dance Version)

BTOB – It’s Okay

Reviewed
on May 8, 2016

Personal Message:
Owning a dog is far from an easy
task, though indeed it very much is rewarding. It has been eight days
since adopting my girl as of this sentence (I plan to write a “post-adoption”
blog post that shares my experiences and even my initial regrets), and we are
adjusting to each other very well. Her terrier and Dachshund breed
characteristics are also slowly showing: activeness, playfulness, and
lovingness. She is also responding very well to obedience training; our first
day consisted of waiting five minutes per “sit,” but that time is now an average
of four seconds. And of course, she now knows other commands: “come,” “stay,” and “leave  it”–or at least is working on the latter two. Small dog update aside (no pun intended), it is now time for
me to also adjust back to my own schedule. I hope to finish May with six
reviews, and likewise with June and even August. Given that I am able to spread
out my reviews and am on summer break (though I have one summer class), these
goals appear very plausible. All that said, rather than focusing on a recent
comeback right now, to return to a writing mindset and for some practice (and
unfortunately that does mean social digressions will not occur in this review),
I have instead decided to review a song I have absolutely adore these past
days: BTOB’s “It’s Okay.

Admittedly it was not until I heard MAMAMOO’s
cover of “It’s Okay”

that I began to truly learn more of BTOB. Even if I heard “Remember That,”
BTOB’s latest song, before MAMAMOO’s cover, it was the ladies’ cover that
disclosed how vocally skilled the men were. After all, the singing MAMAMOO
conducted in their cover was purely a cover; there were no added improvising,
ad-libs, or any modifications for that matter. All of the belting, note holds,
power, rapping intensity, and so forth are in the original song—this being a
clear showcase of how vocally skilled BTOB is (and vice-versa with MAMAMOO
being able to handle BTOB’s song). Overall, I am indeed now a fan of BTOB’s
music and look forward to becoming a fan of the men themselves through watching
their videos.

Hastily focusing on the review
itself (as I am yearning to simply get back into routine), I confess: “It’s
Okay” is one the better songs I have ever heard and is also now a favorite. As
such, I will do my best to remain neutral. Besides that, however, the song
title can be quite misleading: this song is not just “okay.” It is, I biasedly
predict, fantastic. The vocals are to a high tier, the sections are cohesive,
the instrumental is solid—everything, from the surface, seems to align up to a
solid score. Let us see if that is the case.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 8/10
(7.6/10 raw score) – “Good; excellent”


Vocals: 8/10


Sections: 8/10
(7.57/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Rap: 8/10

6.     Bridge: 9/10

7.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Section Distribution: 6/10

Eunkwang:
Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus (Total: 5)

Minhyuk:
Rap (Total: 1*)

Changsub:
Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Chorus, Rap, Bridge (Total: 5)

Hyunsik:
Verse, Pre-Chorus, Bridge, Chorus (Total: 4)

Peniel:
Rap (Total: 1)

Ilhoon:
Rap (Total: 1*)

Sungjae:
Introduction, Verse, Chorus, Chorus, Chorus (Total: 5)

Equal Value: 3.14 sections per member.

*Special
exemption granted due to duration. These quantities will be ignored.


Lyrics: 9/10

Yeah, yeah
Oh

Are your shoulders heavy?
It’s not easy to put down heavy baggage
Someone said that when feel your dreams are
getting far away, “you should take a break”

Are you struggling because of the same things
every day?
Who is that for?
In the end, you’ll fall down anyway
When you’re struggling and feel alone
Listen to this song

Look forward to this melody you liked
The voice that will flow out of the radio
The only thing I can do, is to sing the lyrics of this song
Even if things are hard, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
Everything will be okay
I believe in you

It’s been three years
No one wants me
I wonder if I should go to the army
I told my parents and they said one thing, they sighed
So I couldn’t tell them
that I got fired from my one part-time job
Well, yesterday my friend who’s about to get discharged
came out for vacation
He said that it’s scary
That he forgot everything he learned in college
There are a million unemployed people
I don’t really know much about that
But I just wish that number was in my bank account
The loud alarm keeps rushing me
Starting from dawn I go out my house like I’m being chased
It’s like standing at the edge of a cliff
What am I doing? No, what should I be doing?
It’s an answerless echo
Why do I get kicked around outside
and vent my anger at harsh places?
I’m a small paper boat; lost during voyage without coordinates
I force down my tears
Sighing becomes a habit
I know that I’m being a fool
But I pretend I’m okay in front of others
Where did the bright past go?

Look forward to this melody you liked
The voice that will flow out of the radio
The only thing I can do, is to sing the lyrics of this song
Even if things are hard, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
Everything will be okay
I believe in you

My loving family, my friends who are my family
It’s been so long since I’ve seen them
(I believe in you)
We always say, “let’s grab a bite to eat”
It wouldn’t be bad if I got some free time for once
Then I wouldn’t be so lonely right now

This song is almost over,
but there’s still a lot I haven’t said
Everyone probably feels the same

Look forward to this melody you liked
(melody, melody)
The voice that will flow out of the radio
The only thing I can do, is to sing the lyrics of this song
Even if things are hard, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
Everything will be okay
I believe in you

Choreography Score: 6/10 (6.0/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 6/10

– Key Points: 6/10

Overall Score: 7/10
(7.0/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: After
the review on SPICA’s
“Ghost,”
I highly doubted I would ever see a Song Score of
eight again. Clearly, however, that is not the case: “It’s Okay” manages to
indeed snatch a very prestigious rating. Generally peering at the categories,
all are at a higher rating: the vocals are an eight; the sections are an eight;
the lyrics hit a surprising high of nine; and so forth. Only the section
distribution is slightly lacking—and this will be our first look at “It’s
Okay.”

With
the section distribution, something appears rather peculiar: the score is a six
when, quite blatantly, the numbers does not match up; the rating should be
seemingly lower considering three members have one section while the rest have
significantly more. True that I do base on quantity over duration as,
generally, quantity can be more indicative than time. For example, in Fiestar’s
“You’re Pitiful,” Cao Lu’s single “I don’t know” line, while minimal in duration,
is very substantial and important in what it provides the song. In that context,
it was the quantity that mattered; the
duration of her line had not as much
as relevance as did the amount of times Cao Lu’s line appeared. Furthermore, if
the mentioned example is going to be refuted, then the following would be much
harder to disagree with: accounting for raps. Some parts or sections, such as
raps, are simply going to be shorter in virtue of their style. It would not be
fair for a song to have a reduced Section Distribution score because, based on
duration, a member’s rap—though appearing numerously—added up to minimal time.
Again, quantity is inspected over duration of lines to help account for differences
in styles, be it raps, note holds, beltings, and so forth. With that in mind,
it does seem very absurd that “It’s Okay” is exempted; if quantity is to be
praised over duration as I explained, why would “It’s Okay” not be punished for
its distribution if we are to look at quantity?

Context
is the reason—and context is not a random point I suddenly made. The purpose of
looking at quantity over duration is it tends to reflect context moreover than
duration as explained earlier, but in “It’s Okay,” duration plays a very
significant role—a role that is undeniable and thus, has to be analyzed. With
the initial rap section from Ilhoon and Minhyuk, both men rap for an
exceptionally long time, and factoring in that their raps occur right after the
other, it leads to a section that is more than just “one section.” Therefore,
in calculating the score, I will not be holding the two men’s parts as lacking
and will consider them as having the “equal value” necessary for a fair
distribution. Nonetheless, as noted, a six is still in place due to Peniel
having one section. Certainly his part is a rap, but unlike Ilhoon and Minhyuk,
the duration is by far minimal and thus, while everyone else has an even
distribution (again, once accounting for the exemptions), Peniel lacks a
significant amount of sections. This brings the score down from a potential
nine to now a six.

To
preserve the sonic aspect to “It’s Okay” for later, we will now proceed with
the lyrics. Although my April
Fool’s review
gave a score of a nine for the “song” ‘s lyrics, if ignoring
that it is a prank, then indeed “It’s Okay” currently carries the highest score
for its lyrics out of all songs reviewed. In fact, it is a score I doubt would
ever be beat, let alone even tied. Explaining the outstanding score, without
even focusing on the meaning of the lyrics, the amount of detail is admirable. For
example, the sole repeated lines are the choruses, and even then, the details
provided there are decent. For what truly elicits the lyrics’ strengths, the
main rapping section carries an extreme degree of thoroughness, and
additionally, of uniqueness. As noticed from the multiple reviews conducted,
there is a common theme of lyrics—specifically that of love, relationships, or
just having fun. However, “It’s Okay” is not along those lines; this song is
focusing on hardship, of finding one’s desires, goals, and career. Clarifying a
point, however, I am not praising the lyrics’ meaning; doing so causes the issue
of praising interpretations—of which are unstable. Rather, that the lyrics differ from a vast majority of other
(Korean) pop songs is what grants it its praise in this aspect. After all, it becomes
dull to hear of a song that is, once again, about love, heartbreak, and so on.

Finally
discussing the sonic side to “It’s Okay,” the vocals are phenomenal. That is
probably an understatement. Every vocal aspect to “It’s Okay” is simply
fantastic. From the subtle, echoing background singing and humming to the
powerful high note holds and belts that occur at notably at the choruses and
bridge—though every section’s vocals
are worthy of praise—the song contains seducing vocals. The only section that
comes short is the conclusion: there are no vocals there. Jokes aside, there is
truly not much to discuss with BTOB’s vocals. They are amazing singers and
rappers. Bearing this in mind, it would appear expected for the sections to
also follow with a high rating.

For
one, given that the vocals are superb, the sections already have their sonic
component covered. Even then, for how the sections themselves are structured,
much praise likewise exists. A key point to highlight with the sections is how
cohesive they are. From transitioning to the next section or, in an overarching
view, to building up the song towards the climactic bridge, all of the sections
link to one another in a way that allows “It’s Okay” to seamlessly flow from
start to end. This, besides providing a smooth flow, allows the vocals to
remain at their highest charms as all of the vocals—singing and rapping—build
upon the prior section’s vocals. Focusing moreover on an individual scope, each
section brings its specialty to “It’s Okay.” The verses, pre-choruses, and
choruses are all solid in regards to delivered singing and format. For a
section that deserves high praise, the bridge—of which reaps a very high rating
of a nine—is absolutely stellar with being able to bring the song together for
one final, peak moment of pure vocal prowess. Other sections, such as the raps,
are also excellent. In this song particularly, the lengthier raps not only
expose more moments of delightful rapping, but doing so also provides an
intriguing, fitting break to the song’s usual flow of just singing. And to
conclude it all, the instrumental binds all it all together: vocals and
sections. With providing transitions to accommodating BTOB’s singing and
rapping, the instrumental serves well.  

At
most for what can be critiqued in “It’s Okay,” the visual component—the
choreography—may be the weakest piece. Although creating a dance around a
ballad is a difficult feat and that has to be acknowledged, the dance is in no
way as captivating as the audio. Key points and even syncing are plain, but
given the focus should be on BTOB’s vocal performance, the choreography’s
partial lacking is excusable.

In
the end, “It’s Okay” still scores exceptionally well with its Song Score: an
eight. While the Choreography Score is not as impressive, if we are to focus on
the song itself, BTOB’s “It’s Okay” can be considered one of the top songs the
blog has yet to review. Only SPICA’s “Ghost” competes equally in score. And numbers
aside, “It’s Okay” is, biasedly speaking, one of the best ballads I have heard.
The song is one of the few where every aspect is definitely solid, and on top
of it all, the lyrics can be very empowering and reassuring for those who may
and will relate to the song at one point or another. All in all, I personally
rank “It’s Okay” as one of the better songs I have heard, and I optimistically
look forward to BTOB releasing another song that is—if not better—at least
equal in quality. Perhaps a future review will be on “Remember That,” BTOB’s
latest comeback, and comparisons to this song could be made.

_______________________________________________________

Although
I feel as if the writing and analysis in this review is somewhat weaker than
usual, I will work from here to bring more insightful, engaging reviews.
Especially with finally feeling settled down with my girl (and of whom will be
having her first frozen peanut butter-banana-dog food Kong treat along with her
first time being alone at home), I know I can get back on track with reviews. I
have much to catch up in terms of reviews. For what I have planned, I do want
to focus on reviewing artists who I have never reviewed at all before. Unless
if there is a pressing comeback that occurs, I wish to bring in more diversity
on the blog—both with artists but also with gender (specifically with having
more male artists).

As
always, thank you so much for reading this review. Whether briefly skimmed or
read to each periods, I appreciate it all. Look forward to many reviews (and
subtitle videos of Fiestar—for those interested) to come. After all, “Everything
will be okay, I believe in you”—I believe in readers continually coming back,
and for those current in harder times, that everything will be okay—as BTOB
says. Look forward to most likely Hong Jinyoung’s “Thumb Up,” a trot song, as
the next review.

what application / website do you use to sub your videos? thank you for subbing the weekly idol, by the way!

Hello and you’re welcome! 

Regarding the question, I admit my answer is slightly embarrassing: I use Windows Live Movie Maker. Usually subbers would rely on an actual subbing application or website (such as Aegisubs, a free subbing application), but in my case, I am “old-school” with using Windows Movie Maker. However, I have found it to be reliable for simple subtitling

and have no technical troubles with it at all in comparison to others I have tried. (Also to clarify, “simple subtitling” in the sense that I would not be able to easily subtitle captions, etc.–though I cannot even read Korean in the first place so this does not matter.) Furthermore, rendering videos and such tends to be quite straightforward. As for the subtitling process, over time I have found many shortcuts that enable me to subtitle quickly and thus, no longer have issues in that realm.

(In the future I might write out a guide for those curious on how to make Windows Movie Maker very efficient for subtitling.)

Also, seeing a visual of my subtitles (difficult to explain without a picture) allows for easy editing and for quick changes to take place. The main issue with Windows Movie Maker is that my subtitles cannot be timed precisely and individually without being meticulous and slow–mostly because it is all manually done. (Hence the “line / next line” style I have to hasten the work. Actual subbing applications tend to do this part of the subtitling work: creating the subtitle itself. In Windows Movie Maker, I not only have to set up the caption timing, but I have to create the captions themselves. Even with shortcuts on that, it can be a longer process especially for longer videos with numerous dialogue.) Nevertheless, overall I am very satisfied with Windows Movie Maker, and after finding the mentioned shortcuts, I find it a reliable, easy, and even quick method to subtitle videos. I do not plan to switch any time soon (and more so after trying out four different subbing-oriented applications).

I hope this question helps, and if you happen to desire the guide on how I optimized Windows Movie Maker for subtitling, feel free to send another “ask.” I am always glad to help. Thank you for the question. (And to readers waiting for a review: I hope to finish one by today. Thanks to all for being patient.)

Thanks for subbing Fiestar’s appearance on Weekly Idol!

Hello and you’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed the episode and subtitles. And thank you for sharing this; it is always endearing to hear from viewers be it feedback or simple thanks.

In terms of updates for readers: A review is currently in the working. I hope it will be finished by May 9 at latest. Afterwards, I will try to release consecutive reviews every four days or so. (And of course, to subtitle a video every five days if possible.)

How did you get into Fiestar? Are they your No.1 girl group? Who’s your bias and why? Thank you :)

Excellent questions and I am so thankful for you asking them. As many know, I am a huge fan of Fiestar. (Emphasis on huge.) After all, I would not bother subtitling their videos if I was not a fan, nor would I greatly look up to them all as role models. So, let us hear how I happened to fall in love with the ladies.

How did you get into Fiestar? 

Admittedly, I did not even know of their existence until a reader sent in a review request for Fiestar’s “One More.” (I would link the review but given my poor writing quality in it, I will instead allow readers to manually find it.) In many ways, that request was what started it all and I am thankful to have received it. Overall, many of the groups and songs I love have been through readers sharing and sending in requests, so I am always grateful for such. On topic, from that point, I decided to become more familiar with the group and watched a variety of their videos: their visits to Weekly Idol; their reality show, Channel Fiestar; their music videos; their interviews; and so on. Soon enough, I fell for all of their charms and, of course, music–both with skill and songs. In other words, a review request led to me learning more of the group, and from there, the ladies’ charm and music did the rest. 

For a random point to add, this is also what led to me subtitling their videos: there were not any. I was rather astonished; every group I was interested in prior to Fiestar always had a subtitling group or person. Even Nine Muses in their original roster, for example, had a subtitling group–and indeed, they were very unpopular years ago. But, when it came to Fiestar, there were absolutely no subtitling team or person. Now certainly LOEN Entertainment had their subtitled videos, but again, when it came to videos that was not a part of that channel (1theK), no one had yet begun subbing Fiestar’s videos. And so, given that I knew some Korean–slightly improved now but still is far from fluent, and definitely was mediocre when starting–I felt a responsibility to at least, in very cliché terms, pave the path for others. Thus, I began subtitling their videos and continued to do so in hopes that a subbing team would eventually be created. Although that has still yet to occur, I am more than willing to continue the work I do with subtitling as, I would imagine, many appreciate it–even if my translations can be inaccurate, blank, or vague at times. Better than nothing, right? (And fans do indeed help with sending in revisions; I do not deserve the sole credit of subtitling Fiestar’s videos considering many do help out with posting comments that help revise the subtitles.)

Are they your No.1 girl group?

Answering this question: yes and no. I am interpreting this question as asking for my favorite versus who I think is best, but either way, no firm stance exists. If we are to assume this question is asking if I consider Fiestar the best female group, I can, unfortunately, say with confidence: no. Although Fiestar certainly is a solid group and I would consider them above average in terms of dancing and vocals, they are not quite the best. And even so, knowing who is the “best” female group is already difficult if not impossible. Now in terms of what this question does seem to be posing, regarding whether Fiestar is my number one favorite female group, I wish to say yes but I know that would be a lie. There are three groups that I equally love, hence why this answer is hard to answer. In fact, coincidentally and comically, my YouTube channel reveals my favorite female groups: Fiestar, SPICA, and MAMAMOO. (If including male groups, ZE:A is my favorite male group, though BTOB might soon be added.) So, in summary, yes Fiestar is my favorite group, but more accurately said, they are one of my favorite (female) groups along with SPICA and MAMAMOO.

Who’s your bias and why?

I have always wondered if someone would ever ask me this, and similarly I have wondered how I would answer. I will be assuming this is in the context of Fiestar. Truly, overall, I love all of the members and it is difficult for me to say I have a bias in the group. (Also to clarify, although I assume every reader knows what “bias” refers to when it comes to group members, it basically is a favorite member.) For example, I love Jei’s personality, leadership, and her optimism. Likewise, I adore Cao Lu for her bold attitude with having no idea of shame; Cao Lu has no sense of embarrassment hence why she is so hilarious. With Yezi, besides her tough and intimidating side being frighteningly alluring, she is incredibly friendly and I love her dedication to improvement and sticking up for others. (I admit: another reason for why I continue to digress on social topics is in part with knowing Yezi does the same and that I should aspire to that.) With Linzy, she is very kind and of course, she has serious vocal skills. She is quite underrated in that regard, but she definitely can hit high notes and can sustain powerful note holds. On top of that, she has a crisp, clean singing voice and possesses high control over her tunes. As for Hyemi, the same vocal praises toward Linzy translates over, but additionally to be said, Hyemi’s attitude is like the rest of the members: very hard working, dedicated, sweet, loving, and so forth. 

All in all, it truly is hard for me to choose a bias in Fiestar. I personally look up to all five of them and believe each of them bring forth something unique to the group–musically and socially. If I really had to choose a bias, for unknown reasons, I have always been very fond of Hyemi. I would guess it is due to loving her singing and relating to her personality. (I openly confess I would cry if I had to read a close friend her Christmas card gift.)

_________________________________

Once again, thank you so much for asking these questions. Hopefully the answers are intriguing and insightful. In terms of updates to give readers, I will soon be posting reviews again. As mentioned, my girl and I are both adjusting to one another (though she is doing an excellent job now minus one accident at the vet office). My highest priority right now, however, is to finish subtitling the last part of Fiestar’s latest visit to Weekly Idol. Look forward to more reviews and for that part to finish.

Regarding Bestie’s lack of popularity, I cant believe their vocals and talents are not much appreciated. Could it be because they left EXID a few years ago and Korean fans dislike it? I understand Tahiti, Stellar and Hello Venus are lacking in vocal talent😊

You are a US citizen? Do u think there are atleast 1% US population interested in kpop? 

kpopfan1988

Excellent questions–as can always be expected from you. Thanks for asking. To first answer the latter question as that is less complex to answer, indeed I am a U.S. citizen, but regarding if at least 1% of the U.S. population is interested in K-Pop, I am not too sure. Given that K-Pop is garnering popularity to places outside of Asia, and with specifically the U.S. seeming to have more interest (an example is a famous American comedian and MC, Conan O’Brien; I highly recommend people watching the behind-the-scenes to his cameo on a drama–I laughed so hard), perhaps at the very least that statistic may be true. Overall, I would say it is plausible and even likely that at least 1% of the U.S. population enjoys K-Pop. An excellent question that I sadly cannot confidently answer.

In terms of the former question, I actually have wondered about the lack of popularity in certain groups–BESTie being one I pondered over months ago. With the ladies, their songs are not poor at all. And if speaking from skills, they definitely have vocal capabilities and dancing skills. (After all, BESTie has Uji, and to brag about her vocals, they are monstrous–in a good way; she can hit powerful, high and long notes.) For example, “Thank U Very Much” is actually a very solid song. The conclusion especially deserves much praise for its incredibly well executed two-part singing. Other songs are also not bad, such as “I Need You.” (I did review it though I feel that I was excessively critical in that review.) Also, though I reviewed the music video and not the song itself, “Excuse Me” would have appeared to be a “breakthrough” song for the group given the catchiness and concept, but unfortunately that is not the case. And so, though in the end we all can only speculate, there are some good ideas.

Discussing your thoughts, it may very much be true that the initial split between EXID and BESTie (to clarify for readers, EXID’s Solji and even Hyerin if correct, were “new” members while EXID’s LE, Hani, and Junghwa were the “original” EXID members) could have caused popularity issues, but due to specifically grudges left by the public? I do challenge that part. However, nonetheless, a split occurring at all would usually cripple a group’s popularity–more so to ones already unpopular, as the “original” EXID group most likely was (“Whoz That Girl” did not reap the popularity it currently has until EXID became famous–and of which will be discussed). Continuing on, with the split between “original” EXID and the forming of current EXID and BESTie, in truth, both were–in very unsophisticated terms–screwed. What differed greatly is that EXID found their breakthrough: Hani’s fancam (a recording that is, as is its label, from a fan’s camera’s perspective). BESTie, on the other hand, are still looking for said breakthrough–this perhaps being ultimately the reason for why they are not as popular as EXID currently is. 

All in all, although none of us can ever pinpoint a definite reason–if even reason and not reasons–I do personally doubt that the initial split is to be blamed. In summary: both groups after the split were unpopular, but EXID managed to find a way toward popularity while BESTie did not (Hani’s fancam). And even afterwards, with the public now at attention thanks to the fancam, EXID continued to garner popularity through their very humble, hilarious and charming personalities. BESTie, although the ladies certainly are also very humble, kind, hard working, funny and so forth, they just lack the initial spark that is needed to expose the public to said charms. 

As said earlier, thanks for asking these very brilliant questions, and I hope my answers somewhat provide new insight. And for random news, due to how excellent the questions were, I became so engrossed in answering them that I nearly forgot my girl was snoozing right behind me. (And she adorably snored at one point.) To other readers, thanks for reading and for being patient with the next review. I am currently busy nurturing my girl to good health–mentally, emotionally, and physically. (Refer to the prior post of welcoming Venus home.) Once all is settled, expect many reviews to come (and subtitled videos as well of Fiestar, for those who are fans).