Please review by Mad Clown and Kim Na Young!

Hello there, and I can definitely review this song. In fact, I was rather ecstatic to read this request as, despite never hearing the song before, I am a big fan of Mad Clown’s rapping. Unfortunately, though, I am unfamiliar with Kim Nayoung but I look forward to listening to her in the song.

All that said, with university taking place again and with currently already writing two bonus show reviews (and already having much homework), this request will come out a bit later. As the two upcoming reviews will be spaced out, the review on “Once Again” might be posted after a week or longer. To this I apologize and hope understanding takes place. 

As always, thank you for sending in this request. Realized or not, requests provide a guide to the blog as I am able to review songs that readers would like–and indeed, readers should have a voice in determining which songs are of interest. I will work hard to finish the current bonus reviews (and of which are fairly short writes) so that this request can be covered as soon as possible. 

SPICA – “Secret Time” Review

SPICA – Secret Time (Music Video)

SPICA
– Secret Time (Dance Practice)

SPICA – Secret Time

Reviewed
on August 28, 2016

image

But,
as of now, the secret to “Secret Time” is that it is a rather disorganized,
abrupt and clunky song that, on the positive side, at least gives some justice to SPICA’s vocals.

Personal Message:
With already receiving homework for one
of my English classes (currently taking three for this semester and hence why I
will be extremely busy) despite a few days left of summer, reviews will indeed
become much more concise if not already. However, I plan to do my best to
continue the current rate that was seen in August (by far the best rate and if
I may say so, I am rather proud of myself for this) and, as long as I focus
reviews on highlighted points, I see no problems. Likewise, for Fiestar fans, I
will continue subtitling their videos though it may take two weeks at times for
a single video.

On topic with this review, as
mentioned in the prior
one
, SPICA’s comeback was one I had to cover. Besides the biased reason of
being a huge fan of the ladies and having a huge crush on Boa for her personality and
heart-fluttering voice and height
, the more realistic reason for this
is because, even if the ladies individually have been active in variety shows
as of the late, it has been two years since their last comeback. “Ghost”
was their prior song, and indeed this song has been reviewed already and
currently ties with another for the highest rated song yet on this blog. And
with that, this serves as a coincidental yet perfect transition.

As heard in “Ghost,” or for that
matter, with other releases such as “Tonight” or “You Don’t Love Me” and a few
older songs, SPICA members have proven consistently and constantly that they
are very skilled and capable artists. Especially with their vocals, SPICA is arguably
one of the most underrated artists despite their showcased skills. And best of
all, throughout their time of releasing songs, many have proven strong or at
least decent but more importantly, SPICA is showing a trend towards improvement
and releasing even stronger songs as time goes on. So, where is this going and
what is the point? Given the high standards set by their last three releases—“Tonight,”
“You Don’t Love Me,” and definitely “Ghost”—it would be expected that “Secret
Time” continues the trend. However, even if fans are currently overjoyed to see
them have a comeback (and to that, I too am excited), in a more critical view, “Secret
Time” is sadly not worth the two years of waiting at all. (To clarify the past
sentence, this is not to say SPICA should not have made a comeback—as a fan, I
am very much glad to see them return; I am saying this moreover as how, with
two years of waiting, it would be expected that an extremely solid song would
come.)

For where “Secret Time” stands, I
argue this song is perhaps SPICA’s weakest release yet. Certainly from here I
expect—and hope—SPICA continues having comebacks on a rather frequent basis,
and if that is the case then indeed stronger songs can be released. But, as of
now, the secret to “Secret Time” is that it is a rather disorganized, abrupt
and clunky song that, on the positive side, at least gives some justice to SPICA’s vocals. With that, let us begin the review.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(4.50/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 4/10
(4.00/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
3/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 4/10

4.     Chorus: 3/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 3/10


Instrumental: 4/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Secret time
We don’t need you, boy

What do you want?
More secretive than any other time
(I want something secret)
This is real, it’s not a midsummer night’s dream
No, not a dream, no

The white smoke provokes me
I want to go inside deep
(Go inside)
Keep turning up the volume

We had a secret time
Take off your clothes
You don’t need it
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
Just waiting is too boring
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
The modesty you knew will disappear here
Enjoy this moment
We had a secret
We had a secret, time
We had a secret, time

What do you like?
Don’t deceive yourself every time
(Want something different)
Oh, it’s real life
This night, there is no end, no end

Where am I?
It’s a different color stage
I want to get to you know more
(Get to know)
I’ll trap myself in the light

We had a secret time
Take off your clothes
You don’t need it
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
Just waiting is too boring
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
The modesty you knew will disappear here
Enjoy this moment
We had a secret
We had a secret, time
We had a secret, time
There’s no more niceness in here
You can’t control me
We had a secret,
we had a secret, time

Secret time
We don’t need you, boy
Rose-flavored candy, rum-filled jelly
My body is getting hot
(Hot)
Fill me up with your scent
Oh

We had a secret time
Pulled by the rainbow light
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
Music shakes up my head
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
Make me fall for the sweet temptation
You can’t control me
We had a secret,
We had a secret, time
We had a secret, time

Let’s have another round, we go
(Secret time)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: First
to already address the vocals, a six is rather surprising considering the group
naturally wavers around seven or eight. Thus, this drop to a six—while still a
decent score—is definitely unexpected from SPICA. First, it should be clarified
that the vocals in “Secret Time” in of themselves are indeed enticing: the
verses, for example, showcase an excellent balance of both smooth and powerful
singing; throughout the song, there are a variety of vocal beltings; and lastly,
the diverse styles involved from passive to more direct vocals to unison vocals
are all delightful and do bring in appeal. And yet, a six is still earned. There
is one main reason: the choruses.

Yes,
SPICA’s skills are showcased, but when the choruses arrive, the vocals in these
sections impair the vocals in whole. Structurally, there is variety, but
sonically, it is exceptionally repetitive and even hollow in the sense of
lacking depth. For example, the faster paced singing that is followed up by a
unison “secret time” may be appealing as it contrasts the other sections’
vocals and thus brings in variety, but if we focus on the sound itself, there
is minimal content itself. In other words, the vocals in every section but the
choruses are tuneful and complex, but within the choruses the vocals do become “fillers”
and merely continue the song without providing much more. Even the continuing
portions of the choruses where stronger vocals occur cannot compensate for the
lacking faster paced part. Perhaps in summary, the vocals lack cohesion; yes,
the vocals do sound great individually per section, but in a larger scheme it
is difficult to see how they all relate and more so at the choruses. This is
the reason for a lower-than-usual vocal rating, and ultimately why the song in
whole is weaker.

With
the prior idea in mind, let us now focus on the sections. As noticed, most
score rather poorly, and once again the main culprit is “Secret Time” lacking
an organized aspect. Most of the sections individually sound unique and in many
cases that is a benefit, but it is to the extent that transitions are extremely
abrupt or that even with appropriate transitions, the sections themselves vary
too much to be cohesive. Take the pre-chorus and chorus for examples: the
transition between the two sections are sudden, and furthermore, the change in
styles—the pre-chorus being moreover calm and slow paced while the chorus is
utterly fast—is not gradually settled into, but instead is simply rushed and
that leads to a disorganized sound. Additionally, even sections such as the
introduction are already abrupt in nature; the introduction jumps listeners
straight into the song without establishing any sense of the song and it does
so all while lacking heavily in sonic appeal. Adding to all of this, with an
instrumental that likewise replicates the sections’ forms of each being very
distinctive, rather than the instrumental being the factor that connects all of
sections, the instrumental now becomes another dividing factor that further
splits apart the section.

“Secret
Time,” overall, is a song that has potential, but with its poorer execution it
becomes a song that is at most average—and indeed, that is the score. The
vocals and sections on an individual level can be—and for some are—strong and delightful, but in the
entirety of the song, there is a missing feature to bind all of these
categories together. Without that organization, “Secret Time” becomes too
chaotic to enjoy, and sections that otherwise would be solid are now
lackluster. This is all not to say SPICA is losing their skills; that is far
from true as SPICA’s vocals are still impressive and definitely at a high tier.
However, when it comes to “Secret Time,” it does fail to truly showcase SPICA’s
abilities. If fans are looking for a song that does in fact bring justice,
their song of “One Way” which is included with their recent mini-album might be
far more satisfying. Ending this review, SPICA still deserves much support even
if “Secret Time” is one of their weaker songs. Should SPICA become much more
active, I can say with near certainty that future releases will be much more
appealing. But for now with “Secret Time,” it is a rather disappointing song
that does not showcase SPICA’s true musical abilities.

_______________________________________________________

Since
I already have work, I plan to conclude August with a bonus show review.
Nevertheless, August will hold as a record for the most reviews done in a month
in quite a while, and that is indeed something I plan to continue even with
returning to university. Until then, look forward to a bonus show review, and
of course for other songs to be reviewed such as Hyuna’s “How’s This?” (along
with the social discussion that will occur) in September. While “Just waiting
is too boring,” I ask for readers’ understanding. Look forward to a show review
about GFriend and dogs.

Stellar – “Crying” Review

Stellar – Crying (Music Video)

Stellar
– Crying (Dance Practice)

Stellar – Crying

Reviewed
on August 24, 2016

image

It is ultimately this category that limits “Crying,” and though some may claim this is a harsh score for a supposed non-sonic aspect, one should also keep in mind it can—and does—impact the sonic aspect to the song: having to hear very similar sentences over and over.

Personal Message:
There is so much to discuss with
Stellar, both musical and social. However, for the sake of ease in this review,
the social discussion I had in mind—specifically that of slut-shaming and
double-standards—will be saved for Hyuna’s “How’s This?” as that song, if any
reader has been following it, greatly elicits those topics. And indeed, topics
of slut-shaming and double-standards should in fact be directly discussed since,
in addition to these topics being quite relevant in general and especially in
(Korean) pop culture, these topics are oftentimes misunderstood. To leak where
the discussion would go, while slut-shaming will be rather straightforward as I
assume most readers understand it is unacceptable, double-standards is a much
more complex topic. In fact, it is akin to how even within feminism there are
huge divisions of stances. But on topic, for this rather late review on
Stellar, we will instead focus on the ladies themselves and on their latest
release and their overall history so far. The mentioned social and ethical
topics will be focused on in Hyuna’s upcoming review.

With Stellar, I personally have
desired to review them ever since “Vibrato,” and later with “Sting.”
Fortunately, even after missing those two opportunities, I am finally reviewing
the ladies with “Crying,” their latest song and, as the review will cover, arguably
their best song as of yet—or at least that I can speculate. Perhaps the prior
statement is a bit biased as admittedly “Crying” is now one of my favorite
songs (and recall “favorite” is not “best”) and, from a superficial take, their
prior releases have been slightly weaker. Nonetheless, I personally have much
respect for Stellar given their many hardships: not having their own practice
room for a while; struggling financially—both individually with lacking incomes
but also with producing songs and videos; and for, at various points in their
career, being slut-shamed to the point of it negatively affecting their
popularity (and this being why I planned to discuss the topic in this review).
Overall, though, for what might be the most difficult struggle for them is how
they still lack in popularity despite how long they have been around and with
having multiple releases. Regardless, what is most admirable is that despite
all these setbacks the four members continue to pursue their work of being
idols and continue with much optimism—even if it is a rather harsher form of
optimism, such as working hard on each comeback because they assume it is the
last.

All that said, let us take a look at
their recent song in a more critical lens. After all, even with much empathy
towards the ladies, it would obviously be unfair to inflate their scores out of
pity. Besides, what the ladies desire is not pity but instead appreciation
towards their skills and hard work. In terms of the review, this might be perhaps
a rather interesting one given how unique “Crying” is when it comes to its
ratings. Indeed, ratings here are unlike usual reviews; there are extreme
ratings in this song and of which leads to many discussion points. For example,
this review is one after months in which a category scores a nine. Emphasis: a nine, the goddess number on this blog as
it truly is extremely rare. Likewise, though, on the other hand there also
appears a very low rating. What exactly are the sections with these scores?
Before fans and readers begin crying due to this awful attempt at creating
suspense, let us finally begin the review.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(6.25/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.83/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Bridge: 6/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 9/10


Lyrics: 3/10

Whoa oh yeah
Baby I don’t wanna cry
Oh
(Brave Sound)
(Let’s go, get it)

Why is the weather outside so nice
unlike my heart? Oh
Today, I resent you even more
But so quickly, I miss you again

I wanna go back to those days
(Ha)
When you looked at me and brightly smiled
I wanna love you
That’s it baby, but where are you? Oh

I was listening to a song then I cried so hard
Cried endlessly because it sounded like my story
I had a drink and then I cried so hard
Because I remembered the past, oh baby
I was eating then I cried so hard
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t swallow
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t sleep
I’m crying because

Do you know how I cry so easily?
How are you these days after you left me?
Without you, so much of me has changed
Without you, I cried every night

I wanna go back to those days
(Ha)
When you looked at me and brightly smiled
I wanna love you
That’s it baby, but where are you? Oh

I was listening to a song then I cried so hard
Cried endlessly because it sounded like my story
I had a drink and then I cried so hard
Because I remembered the past, oh baby
I was eating then I cried so hard
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t swallow
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t sleep
I’m crying because

I prayed again today
that I would see you in my dreams
When I wake up, I’ll cry again
Because I miss you

I was listening to a song then I cried so hard
Cried endlessly because it sounded like my story
I had a drink and then I cried so hard
Because I remembered the past, oh baby
I was eating then I cried so hard
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t swallow
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t sleep
I’m crying because

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Truthfully,
this song could have potentially scored quite high as its sections and
instrumental are solid, and that the vocals are decent. Unfortunately, the lyrics
are the main downside to the song, and this does extend to the point of
affecting the sonic aspect. With that, in this review the sections will not be
covered in depth as much as the lyrics and instrumental as these two are the
most distinct, key features to the song.

Focusing
on the lyrics, many would probably disagree with the current rating. While indeed
it is a sad story and does have some descriptive qualities that make it so, as clarified
in past reviews, with lyrics it is not the meaning or story itself that is the
focus but instead the details and the uniqueness of the plot itself. In other
words, even if “Crying” excellently portrays the hurting one goes through after
a relationship breakup, this cannot be used to gauge the lyrics’ overall
quality. Doing so requires interpretation and of which is very subjective, and
furthermore there could be much bias involved if lyrics are to be rated on the
story itself. For example, there could be songs that are about doing drugs and,
despite all odds, these lyrics can
score very well if the plot itself is creative and if the given details are
likewise creative and thorough—even if the story itself of doing drugs is not
necessarily appealing.

On
topic with “Crying” and its lyrics, the first issue is that the story itself—again,
while definitely saddening—is not quite unique in the context of the many other
pop songs. Breakups without significant background are a commonly reused plot,
and thus that already limits the lyrics. Either expanding the plot so that
there are more details or deviating away from the breakup theme would greatly
enhance the lyrics. Most impairing, however, is that the details are the most
repetitive I have yet to encounter. Take the choruses for examples: the same
idea recycled within the same sentence structures. Of course, though, all of
the other sections are equally at fault with replaying identical details—details
of simply relentlessly crying. Again, this is not to downplay that the plot is
indeed sad and that the main character is in deep anguish. However, even so, with
a more critical, general look at the plot and looking at the details involved,
unfortunately the lyrics are incredibly redundant and lack creative aspects
that would push it to a higher score. It is ultimately this category that
limits “Crying,” and though some may claim this is a harsh score for a supposed
non-sonic aspect, one should also keep in mind it can—and does—impact the sonic
aspect to the song: having to hear very similar sentences over and over.

Now
regarding the song itself and ignoring how, for example, the choruses can
lyrically sound dull due to excessive repeating of lines, the actual sound to
the song is spectacular. The instrumental in particular is phenomenal and this
is where I want to focus our attention to. After all, it earned a nine—arguably
the “highest” score possible since tens are near impossible to obtain. Why the
instrumental is so potent is not just due to its sound—though this is also
solid; the actual reason for it thriving so well is due moreover to its
structure and how said structure augments every aspect to the song.

For
one, the instrumental aids in seamlessly transitions the sections. For a
walkthrough example, at the introduction the instrumental is arguably at its
most amped up state. Nevertheless, the transition to the verse is subtle and
quick—all while sounding excellent. From here, this style of being subtle and
quick continues: from the verse to pre-chorus, hastened beats are used but all
while having the vocals still retain the attention; from the pre-chorus to
chorus, the same as the latter occurs; and finally, from the chorus back to
verse or even bridge, the usage of distorted vocals and a slight pause are used,
but all is still discreet. Overall, all of the transitions are fantastic and
much if not all of that is in credit to the instrumental. In terms of another
positive, the instrumental significantly helps Stellar’s vocals—and of which,
while not bad at all, are somewhat lacking in variety when it comes to “Crying”
and hence the current score. Focusing on the instrumental again, the synergy
between the vocals and instrumental are solid. During the verses for example
the pacing between both are linked, and on top of that the involved sounds are
complementing of one another such as with the piano keys creating a layer to
Stellar’s initial passive singing. Another solid point is that the instrumental
is of the very few that can individually cover a section on its own—particularly
that of the introduction. With this section, the follow-up that occurs after
the vocals essentially takes on the role that introduction vocals would
normally do: hooking in listeners all while establishing the song’s style and
tone. Indeed, the instrumental does both excellently and it does so all while
delivering controlled, melodic, and exciting beats and sounds.

On
that note, for where the instrumental stands with its sonic component, it never
becomes unsuitable to “Crying”—both stylistically and with relating to Stellar’s
singing. For example, despite being upbeat and hasty at times, it is all within
context of Stellar’s vocals as covered earlier: verses are met the instrumental’s
piano being emphasized to build intensity while choruses are met with much
faster, harder beats to complement the climactic point of the song.
Additionally, for perhaps an intriguing part, the instrumental is also quite
balanced in its range of pitches but with a carved out room—if that can be said—for
Stellar’s vocals to enter. Clarifying what I mean, lows and highs are covered
with the instrumental through the bass or piano sounds, but when it comes to
middle pitches while they do exist, they are less emphasized in comparison to
lows and highs. However, for the effect of this setup, it allow Stellar’s
vocals to—perhaps quite literally—be surrounded and at the center of attention
as their vocals lie moreover in the middle range (and again hence why I argue
they lack some vocal variety in “Crying.”)

And
so, with an instrumental that holds a fundamental role to the song both
structurally and sonically, and with sections that are solid due to that, “Crying”
would appear to be a very strong song—even if the vocals can be slightly dull.
But as covered, the lyrics are by far one of the weakest I have yet to hear in
a song and this does negatively affect the song’s own sound due to repeating
stale lines over and over. Nevertheless, despite what this review may claim, I
will biasedly say that “Crying” is a solid song if at least focusing moreover
on just pure sounds. The instrumental is amazing and one of the most influential
ones I have yet to hear in a song. If not for the instrumental’s complexity and
effects, it is difficult to say “Crying” would sound as exceptionally as it
currently does. But, in a more realistic view, the instrumental is balanced out
by the weaker lyrics and that does bring “Crying” to a slightly above average
song. Nevertheless, Stellar should be a group whose songs are cared more for
(in addition to empathizing with the ladies and continuing to support the
ladies themselves). I very much look forward to their next song as they are
showing constant improvement with each comeback.

_______________________________________________________

Sharing random news, SPICA is having
a comeback on August 25, and I will definitely be reviewing their song. It has
been two years since their last release (“Ghost”—and of which is tied with BTOB’s
“It’s Okay” for the highest overall score as of yet on the blog), and as some
readers may know, I am a huge fan of them. And no, it not because I still have a
crush on Boa and am still waiting for her to one day propose to me. And no, I
am obviously not delusional at all. Jokes aside, SPICA’s comeback song is
called “Secret Time” and I very much am glad to be able to hear the five
wonderful ladies’ voices again.

Addressing the current review, I do
apologize to readers for not reviewing it when “Crying” was recently released,
and I also apologize for delaying this review for another song. Optimistically,
though, it is now here. Also to note, with university coming soon, I will now begin
delaying posts so that there is at minimum four to five days. This is to allow
me to have time to write reviews and to keep the blog as active as possible since
reviews can be “stored.” With the next review, look forward to another bonus
show review or Hyuna’s “How’s This?” And as always, thank you for reading. I
appreciate it all and even if “I wanna go back to those days” of summer break,
I will do my best to keep reviews coming out.

Yuri x Seohyun – “Secret” Review

Yuri x Seohyun – Secret (Music Video)

Yuri (Girls’ Generation) x Seohyun (Girls’
Generation) – S
ecret

Reviewed
on August 20, 2016

This is ultimately why “Secret” is
potentially held back: it lacks extra qualities that make it distinct from
being another generic EDM song. Certainly it does have interesting points as
discussed in the pre-choruses, but with those parts the execution does come
short.

Personal Message:
I am currently reviewing Stellar’s “Crying,”
but indeed I am taking a temporary pause on it to write the current review as
it is a rather highly debated one in terms of song quality. With this song to
clarify, while many fans are considering it a sub-unit of Girls’ Generation—and
certainly in many ways it technically is one—this song is not officially that; “Secret”
by Yuri and Seohyun is simply a song for an upcoming commercial by Pantene, a company
focused on hair-related products. Nevertheless, fans and viewers are certainly correct
that “Secret” provides a glimpse at a potential, official sub-unit by the two
ladies. Would it ever happen? Given that a foundation now exists, it might be
possible but of course no one but SM Entertainment will know.

On topic for why I have been greatly
motivated to review this song—after all, as said, I am halting another review
for this one—it is due to the overwhelming debate of where this song stands. As
of now, there appears to be quite a range of stances: those who claim this song
is utterly fantastic, and those who claim this song is utterly horrendous. For
where this review will take readers, I hope to showcase that—akin to social
topics—songs can be very complex. What is the secret? Simple: this song is both strong and weak—and that because the
ladies are endorsing Pantene there is a subtle message that the “secret” for men
and women to have good hair is to buy and use their shampoo. I am obviously
joking with the latter statement, though it arguably is true if we consider the
purposes of idols endorsing products beyond the context of just money for
idols.

And this would lead to an
interesting ethical discussion on whether endorsement carries unintended
negative outcomes and if so what are idols’ responsibilities, but we will save
this for another time. Addressing this briefly, as I urge readers on this blog
to be, applying critical thinking is always necessary and in this case, just
because Yuri and Seohyun endorse Pantene does not mean they themselves necessarily endorse the company. One should always do
personal, thorough researching along with critically challenging potential
subtle messages said when it comes to idols’ endorsements. With this aside and
my personal orders of Pantene shampoos coming in soon since my hair will obviously
now be as majestic as Yuri’s and Seohyun’s hair if I use this endorsed product,
let us focus on the more serious matter. Where does “Secret” stand? Is it a
song where, given its style, its current polar views are unavoidable? Or is
there, perhaps, a middle-ground despite it all? For what I hope to bring into
the current discussions, I will argue the latter: that “Secret” is arguably in
the middle—average, to be specific.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(4.75/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 4/10
(4.17/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 4/10

4.     Chorus: 2/10

5.     Bridge: 4/10

6.     Conclusion: 3/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 4/10

A secret to make your heart tremble
(Only I know)
A secret that has a slight feeling
My little, shh
Little secret

Even if we stay up all night
I won’t tell you
Only I know
I hide myself among the crowd
But you always find me in the end

Look up and down
Look back
But this scent continues
The closer you walk to me
Hidden in my heart, my little secret
A little secret that I want to keep to myself
Will you whisper to me, my little secret?
A little secret that will make you shine like me
(Don’t ever tell)

[Instrumental]

Be confident
Be prepared to look better
It’s not hard
Somewhere, somehow, I shine
As if I’m hiding something special

The eyes on me have grown
It’s always overflowing
So I confidently enjoyed it even more
But why do you, that’s all there is to see?
Hidden in my heart, my little secret
A little secret that I want to keep to myself
Will you whisper to me, my little secret?
A little secret that will make you shine like me
(Without you knowing)

Come come come away
In that short time
It’s a secret that will make you change (shh)
Come come come away (come on)
While everyone’s asleep (suddenly)
A secret that will make you dazzle more

Should I just tell you?
You’ll be surprised
Can you follow me?
I’m pulling you
It’s a party you’ve dreamed of
In it, it’s me and you

Hidden in my heart, my little secret
A little secret that I want to keep to myself
Will you whisper to me, my little secret?
A little secret that will make you shine like me
(Without you knowing)

Come come come away
In that short time
It’s a secret that will make you change (shh)
Come come come away (come on)
While everyone’s asleep (suddenly)
A secret that will make you dazzle more
Come come come away
In that short time
It’s a secret that will make you change (shh)
Come come come away (come on)
While everyone’s asleep (suddenly)
A secret that will make you dazzle more

(No one will know)
(Little secret, shh)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
beginning as a note, since this review should have been appropriately queued
and not cutting ahead of Stellar’s review, I will not go in as much depth so
that Stellar’s review can be finished in time.

On
topic, one of the more fundamental flaws of current arguments about this song is
the overly emphasized critiques toward its style than its actual execution. For
example, many have been saying the EDM genre of “Secret” is completely
unfitting and thus the song itself is weak. Conversely, many have been praising
the EDM take as the positive point and claiming the song is strong due to that.
However, while to some extent stylistic-focused critiques can be viable at
times, in many cases and such as the mentioned ones, these are too superficial
to be used. It is not about the content
itself, but it is about the delivery
of the content—the execution, if that
is clearer. To use an example, how the choruses flow and sound in “Secret” is its
content; these simply exist as is and form the overall tone and style to the
song. Where delivery comes in is when one listens to the sounds and attempts to
understand the intricacies involved: how does the chorus fit in the entirety of
the song; is the chorus’ structure in conflict or in match with the rest of the
song; are the choruses properly transitioned to as to not be abrupt or overly
predictable; and so forth. If we are to critique content in of itself that
leads to the issue of pure subjectivity: what I like and dislike when it comes to how a song simply sounds. Moving the focus to delivery is
still subjective as what one deems a “good” execution is in fact subjective,
but it does dive deeper as it now involves asking why the effects of the
style and sound matter, not whether one simply likes or dislikes the style and
sounds involved.

Hopefully
with that covered, for actually reviewing the song, the song predominantly lacks
in its sections and lyrics. Regarding the lyrics, many lines and details are
repeated excessively and thus, a loss of variety in this case translates to a
loss of appeal. Furthermore, however, the plot—while mysteriously enticing—is highly
undeveloped. Combining both of these factors and the lyrics now score slightly
below average. Now with the sections, “Secret” does heavily lack in this
regard. Worse, though, is that the weaknesses here have an effect on the
vocals. After all, the vocals in the song are not, in of themselves, problematic
at all. Both Yuri’s and Seohyun’s singing are tuneful, diverse in pacing and
pitches and even style. The issues, then, is with how the sections construe the
vocals: requiring extremely repetitive, dull vocals such as at the choruses in
order to keep the song cohesive and organized. Further explaining this, during
the choruses the instrumental and section are structured in a specific way so
that the current vocals are suiting to it—even if, sonically, the vocals are
very redundant. But, unfortunately, this is necessary as any other type of
singing would cause heavy conflicting and that is far more undesirable than its
current state. With all of this, let us focus a bit more on the sections.

While
the introduction and verses suffice, the rest do not. With the pre-choruses,
even if there is a peculiar yet creative take of merging a vocal-orientated half
followed by a whispering, slower half, it is inefficient for its role and hence
the lower the score. While it is not impossible to combine those two styles
into a single pre-chorus, how the song delivered it is simply redundant: the
first half of the pre-choruses could transition the song to the choruses, but
instead it transitions it to a figurative second pre-chorus. One, consistent
form would have been more organized. Furthermore, along with sounding sonically
weaker, the whispering portion will be a trait that becomes overly used, as
heard in the choruses. And on that note, for the rest of the sections, the main
downfall to them all is excessive repetition. This is ultimately why “Secret”
is potentially held back: it lacks extra qualities that make it distinct from
being another generic EDM song. Certainly it does have interesting points as
discussed in the pre-choruses, but with those parts the execution does come
short.

All
in all, “Secret” is a song that mainly suffers due to its tedious structuring.
In of itself, the sounds to it are appealing: the heavy bass instrumental with
spikes of various electronic noises combined with vocals that shift between
tuneful singing and passive whispers can indeed lead to a solid song. However,
with how “Secret” fails to execute said variety, it all almost no longer
matters. The vocals’ shifting styles are hard to appreciate when both are
predictably switched and from there excessively used in a single duration. Likewise,
the instrumental is hard to appreciate when the flow to the song itself is
already emulating a heavy bass line—specifically, that there is little
variations throughout. And so, where does lead “Secret”? Although I oftentimes
end up biasedly disagreeing with my own review’s ratings, in this case I do
agree to it: average. This song is average; it is neither strong nor weak. “Secret”
possesses strengths in the vocals, but its sections—its structuring—is where
the song lacks in pushing beyond a generic form and sound.

_______________________________________________________

This
might be the fastest I have yet to review a song, but because of that I will
also hastily review another song I had in mind: EXO’S “Lotto.” Again, to
clarify, this review is not meant to provide a more objective take to the song
per se, but instead it is intended to merely provide another view to the
current discussion of Yuri’s and Seohyun’s “Secret.” As always, thank you for
reading or skimming the review, and as mentioned look forward to Stellar’s “Crying”
which should come out today or by tomorrow depending on if I decide to write a
review for EXO’s “Lotto.”

Eric Nam – “Can’t Help Myself” Review

Eric
Nam – Can’t Help Myself (Music Video)

Eric Nam – Can’t Help Myself (Live
Performance)

Eric Nam (ft. LOCO) – Can’t
Help Myself

Reviewed
on August 16, 2016

Now despite all of Eric’s
charming vocals and excellent section structures and a solid instrumental to
tie it all together, the choruses are the exception to the song’s cohesion. In
short, it simply lacks it.

Personal Message:
Although it has already been roughly
a month since Eric released this song, it is about time I review it. Furthermore,
with the past three reviews being on female groups, sharing the love to male
artists is necessary. And besides, Eric is currently my “man-crush” so this
song was bound to be reviewed. And yes, I am a heterosexual boy who openly says
Eric is my “man-crush.” There is nothing wrong at all, as discussed in multiple
reviews (refer to the much earlier ones for these discussions), with males
being affectionate for other males—or in my case, “fanboying” over male
artists—no matter one’s sexual orientation. After all, Eric is incredibly
precious, and personally when it comes to male role models, he is the man I
strive to be: sweet, soft-spoken, understanding, respectful, loving, easygoing,
hardworking, intelligent, and so forth. He is a true gentleman. (And
admittedly, I have been watching many episodes of Eric and MAMAMOO’s Solar
together on We Got Married.)

Before directly focusing on the
current review, as some readers might have noticed, this blog’s description was
recently changed. A slightly more professional style was my goal. More
importantly, however, the main reason for changing it was not due to the former
reason but instead it was to add key clarifications: what reviews should be
understood as, and likewise what social and ethical discussions should be
understood as. For readers desiring to understand my point, reading the
description should explain said “key clarifications.” Even so, in this current
review, I will explain why I have
added those changes and, for really keen readers who have noticed, why the
occasional social and ethical discussions have dramatically changed in
tone.  

In terms of the simpler explanation,
with song reviews the description now reminds readers that all songs are
subjective and thus, these reviews should never be taken as unequivocal truths.
There are many layers involved with what determines a “good” song and a “bad”
song: one’s own cultural lens, personal preferences, biased feelings toward
artists, and so on. Even if a review minimizes those points as much as
possible—for examples, not favoring artists and looking beyond stylistic traits—there will always still
be some form of subjectivity present. It is simply unavoidable. And so, many
would then wonder why I bother writing reviews if music reviews are inevitably
biased even if one takes many precautionary steps. My answer: for discussions;
for deeper engagement; for taking pop culture songs—songs that are oftentimes
taken at a superficial layer—and applying a critical lens to them, both
musically and socially. The beauty of song reviews are not, in truth, the
reviews themselves; the true charm resides in how the reviews are engaged
with—disagreeing, agreeing, challenging, and so forth.

Switching over to social and ethical
discussions that occur from time to time, this aspect of reviews has only
recently been addressed but it is about time to directly discuss it. I confess:
in many past reviews, these discussions are less of actual discussion and
moreover about persuading or even ranting at times. Furthermore, the most
problematic aspect of these “discussions” was my tone: angry,
passive-aggressive, and overly zealous. Certainly that might have proven
appealing, but it was appealing in emotions versus being intellectually
appealing. To use an example, discussions of gender is a prominent topic on
this blog. Given how it is a subtle yet common topic in K-Pop and knowing I am
privileged as a male and therefore have a social responsibility to discuss
gender (and it is a topic I find myself greatly interested in), these
discussions have become a routine part of the blog. But with that, how I
conducted the discussions in the past was arguably inappropriate.

Oftentimes, even if I would
explicitly say male privilege is what has to be challenged versus males
themselves, the tone of my writing was indeed—even if unintended—antagonizing
to males. And as explained before, that is not the purpose or goal of these
discussions; these social discussions are not to antagonize people but instead
are to provide new insight and to, hopefully, bring in ideas of ethics in
relation to sociology. Questions I hope to pose are, for example, how one
should act given they are privileged in race, gender, sexuality, and so forth.
What is, if any, the ethics involved if one is a heterosexual and yet says
remarks such as “this song is gay” or “that idol has to be a lesbian”? Does
having heterosexual privilege mean one should be wary of what they say? If so,
why and if not, why? How about in cases of needing to intervene or to even care
of LGBT issues when one’s a heterosexual? What is one’s ethical and social role
if a heterosexual? Why? Again: why?

From here on (though this
“correction” began a while back even if subtle), the goal of these social and
ethical discussions are not to say you must
have this certain view, but instead, these discussions are here to ask why you think what you think. While I do
urge readers to care for social topics and that I do cherish ideas of love, compassion,
understanding, and openness and in some ways do hope readers likewise believe
in similar ideas, it is completely unethical for me to force my stances upon
readers as I have done in the past. Besides, there are cases where stances are
varied and difficult. “Double-standards” for example can be quite complex.
Hyuna’s review will discuss this, but with double-standards while I will
clarify huge misconceptions with it (in other words: no, double-standards is not “feminazi” work at all and generally
this idea is the result of not using critical-thinking), there are multiple
ethical sides to double-standards where no choice is clearly “the most ethical
and just.” Even a past review, Fiestar’s “Apple Pie,” is an example of how a social
topic—in that review, the topic of feminism—can be extremely complex and have
no simple, “correct” side.

All in all, I do sincerely apologize
for my prior social discussions that were passive-aggressive in tone and
focused moreover on convincing readers of a certain view rather than allowing
readers to critically think of what they themselves think. Now that said, I do
not apologize per se for certain ideas said—for example, there is a huge ethical issue if one believes
that transgendered people should die, and through critical-thinking, one should
be able to understand why transgendered people deserve humane treatment and
respect—but I simply apologize for the manner
in which I conducted the discussions, manners of being forceful and aggressive.

In other words, and to use an
example, while I do not apologize for my argument of how male privilege allows
me to freely discuss gender while a woman saying the same words as I would be
labeled as a “feminazi,” I do apologize for the unnecessary remarks involved
such as, for made up examples, “because men are nothing more than aggressive
animals” and “anyone who does not agree must be a toxic male.” (Though
privilege jokes will be thrown in at times; I mean given how privileged I am to
be a male, why not poke some fun at it?) Overall, my role is no longer that of
a debater or one of using this blog as an anger outlet; my role is now that of
facilitating discussions and is overall akin to a teacher (and coincidentally,
I will soon become one before I know it): focused on bringing in critical
thinking and not forcing my own opinions onto others. I am here to encourage deeper engagement; what readers believe does not necessarily matter to me as much as
knowing that critical thinking was used to get to that “what,” and I do hope I
am able to elicit that deeper level of thinking.

With all of that serious
clarification aside, let us return to a more lighthearted tone: discussing Eric
Nam’s “Can’t Help Myself.” Although in an overarching view this song is rather
balanced in all of its categories—and indeed is a stronger song—there are still
weaker aspects in it. And so, though this review is certainly “late” as this
song came out more than a month ago, let us see if listeners actually can’t
help themselves when it comes to the song.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 7/10
(6.75/10 raw score) – “Above average”


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.57/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Bridge (Chorus): 6/10

6.     Rap: 6/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 6/10

I’m exhausted and thirsty
Just like I ran under the hot sun
You know what I mean?
I can’t breathe
I feel like, I fell into the deep ocean
I think I’m in too deep

Because of you, I want to say
And baby you, if I look at you, ooh girl
I just can’t help myself
Can’t wait no longer
I can’t help myself anymore

Wanna be with you, you tonight
Yeah
No more playin’
Cool, cool, you and I
Quench my thirsty heart, alright
Give breaths into me, my life
Without you it’s meaningless
Please accept me
And let me love you

Just like the secrets no one should know
It was hard because I had to hide my feelings
I am trying not to show on my face
I try to say something and then I just bite my lips

Because of you, I want to say
And baby you, if I look at you, ooh girl
I just can’t help myself
Can’t wait no longer
I can’t help myself anymore

Wanna be with you, you tonight
Yeah
No more playin’
Cool, cool, you and I

Quench my thirsty heart, alright
Give breaths into me, my life
Being without you, girl, it’s meaningless
I’m all about you, oh no

Actually I am very patient
I’ve never been hit by anyone
So when I tell you that I can’t hold it anymore
I want you to close your eyes instead of flicking my forehead
You make me rude
Even if the sun is hot,
seeing you with my eyes makes me sweat

Wanna be with you, you tonight
Yeah
No more playin’
Cool, cool, you and I
Quench my thirsty heart, alright
Give breaths into me, my life
Without you it’s meaningless
Please accept me
And let me love you

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: This
perhaps might be the shortest review yet on this blog due to both practicing
writing more concise reviews (since university this upcoming semester will be
extremely busy) but also that this song is relatively straightforward.

On
topic, as seen by the ratings, “Can’t Help Myself” scores above averagely and indeed,
looking over the categories, the song holds well in all. Ignoring numbers,
however, this song’s main strength is arguably in its cohesion in all aspects.
From a more general perspective, for example, the song is cohesive with how all
of its sections flow from each rather smoothly, but for a micro aspect such as
within the sections themselves, various aspects—the vocals, instrumental,
pacing, and so on—equally prove to be quite cohesive. And as discussed in the prior
review
, cohesion in songs is, while not always, generally a fundamental
trait. The verses will be used as an example since, as seen by their scores,
the verses excel at this.

During
the verses, the instrumental—an aspect that is already individually strong—provides
the song with its flow and sounds as is the usual of instrumental. As such, in
of itself, this is nothing utterly spectacular at all; the instrumental is
merely playing, after all. However, once Eric’s vocals arrive, this is then
where the song and instrumental become more than just “merely playing.” With
Eric’s singing involved, it is noticed that his flow and the instrumental’s
flow sync up. Listening closely to Eric’s line chunking and the guitar riffs
should highlight this. Furthermore, though, the result of all this is not just
verses that sound excellent: the verses are now capable of easily transitioning
to the pre-choruses as they already began progressing the song through an
up-and-down pattern that was organized through vocals and instrumental syncing,
and refined in sound due to the vocals’ and instrumental’s clean, smooth tunes.
When considering the various sections throughout, this general idea repeats:
having sections that are able to easily transition to the next—and thus,
cohesion is granted—and within the sections, each are composed of singing and
instrumental that have excellent chemistry together due to following similar
rhythms and flow, and in addition to this all, the sonic components to each are
splendid—this being heard in Eric’s consistent and melodic vocal beltings, for example.

Now
despite all of Eric’s charming vocals and excellent section structures and a
solid instrumental to tie it all together, the choruses are the exception to the
song’s cohesion. In short, it simply lacks it. With the choruses, Eric’s vocal
belting of “you” for example is no longer of the same charm even though it is
essentially akin to the vocal beltings at the pre-choruses. This should be
rather odd; the same singing in the pre-choruses is now no longer appealing in
the choruses even if it is nearly the same as the one in the pre-choruses. Why
does that occur? To answer: context. Vocals, after all, is not about content—high
notes, powerful beltings, soothing low pitched singing and so on—but instead is
about its delivery, and certainly
with “delivery” in mind over “content,” context matters.

Directly
focusing on the choruses, the vocal belting throughout fails to sync to the
instrumental, and although the second half of the choruses slightly recover in
the sense that there is more cohesion, it ultimately still falters. There is
too much discrepancy between the vocals and the instrumental, and even if all
are individually enticing on their own—and hence why this section still scores
at a five—the lack of connection is greatly impairing. For example, notice how
during the pre-choruses the vocal beltings are followed up with the
instrumental similarly also having its own version of vocal beltings—in other
words, following a lighter tune to accommodate Eric’s singing. Unfortunately
with the choruses, the instrumental maintains its own hasty pace while Eric’s
vocal belting carries a much slower rate, and though the benefit to this is an
intriguing pause occurs during the choruses, the choruses begin having two
competing sounds versus two cooperative sounds and this is the ultimate
drawback.

Overall,
though, “Can’t Help Myself” proves to be a simple yet completely charming song.
The beautiful vocal beltings, instrumental, and—for the most part—the cohesion
between it all greatly allow the song to flourish. Even with a somewhat duller
rap, bridge, and choruses, with how well the sections connect to each other on
an individual and general level, “Can’t Help Myself” becomes incredibly
well-rounded and a solid example of why a song does not need to be utterly
powerful and upbeat in order to be considered good.  

_______________________________________________________

For
this review, I do wonder if it is insufficient in its explanations as I could
have went through every section in further depth, but as discussed it appears
that shorter details that focus on highlighted points versus droning
repetitively on is more desirable and efficient for both readers and I. For the
next review, Monsta X’s “Stuck” is in mind along with another show review. More
male artists for sure, though, will be coming. For female artists, Hyuna’s “How’s
This?” and Stellar’s “Crying” will both be reviewed at one point. I hope to
cover as many reviews as possible for this month, but I also plan to begin
storing and delaying some for future posting once university comes around. With
this review ending, thank you to all for reading or skimming, and realize that,
“Because of you, I want to say”: look forward to the next review.

Blackpink – “Whistle” Review

Blackpink – Whistle (Music Video)

Blackpink – Whistle

Reviewed
on August 11, 2016

Likewise with the sections, the verses
and raps and choruses also all fall into a generic category: nothing of these
sections standout from usual hip-hop songs. Furthermore, and for why the
ratings are even lower, the sections succeed in delivering the stage of the
song but not the appeal: the sections indicate “Whistle” ‘s hip-hop style, but
the format and sound of these sections are lifeless, mundane, and ultimately
leave no impression on listeners as it all sounds too standard.

Personal Message:
If all goes according to plan,
another review is already being released—specifically this one, to clarify. It
is actually quite astonishing how a different approach to reviewing songs can
greatly hasten up the review rate. From the usual rate of a review per week to
now at least one every few days, I am still surprised that by discussing a song
and not overly breaking down a song that reviews can come out much more easily.
But that said, much more practice is necessary and, for the technical side of
reviews, more changes are to come. And so before focusing on Blackpink’s
“Whistle,” let me share with readers some of my current ideas on how I plan to
clean up the outline even more. (Skip a few paragraphs to where I actually discuss
Blackpink.)

The two changes in mind are rather
drastic: potentially removing the choreography category and the section
distribution. Regarding the first part, I do wish to clarify that I still find
the dances with K-Pop exceptionally important. K-Pop is not just about the song
itself but also the performance involved with it. In fact, as perhaps some
reviews have covered, there are some songs where the audio is not the focus at
all; instead, the choreography is the main piece and the audio is secondary and
thus, dances can be very important to consider. However that said, as of the
late it appears that I oftentimes do skip over the dances. This is both due to
personal decision and technical issues; there are times where I value going
through the song more than the dance itself, but more frequently I run into the
problem of there not being a dance
practice or live performance released yet. Therefore, should the latter occur,
I have to either delay a review for a while, or to simply go on ahead and
exclude the dance. Another factor to also consider, however, is that I no
longer actually discuss the dance. Yes I include a score and a dance practice
or live performance, but I never actually discuss it in the review itself
unless if it was one that genuinely impressed me to the point that I do have words to say. Otherwise,
admittedly, I am much more versed in discussing a song than its dance (though I
would love to one day gain skills on how to gauge a choreography’s strengths
and weaknesses).

Now, should I end up permanently
removing the choreography grading portion to reviews, doing so does not mean
the dances are no longer included. The links will not change; I will use a dance
practice video if possible, and if not then I will use the standard pairing of a
music video and a live performance. The only change, then, that removing the
choreography category would bring is improving the aesthetics of reviews: no
longer will there be empty scores in this category (indicated by *) nor the
oddity of never actually discussing the dance despite giving ratings. Although
I planned to test this in another review, I will give Blackpink’s “Whistle” the
first trial. (In fact one could scroll down quickly and see how the
choreography portion is now gone in this on.) If this does not prove troubling
then it is highly likely this will become the new outline.

As for the much more impacting
change, I have recently greatly pondered over keeping or removing the section
distribution. Ever since the blog began, this category has been around and has
provided a crucial role in songs’ total scores—both fair and unfair. Before
even continuing, though, I will quickly remind readers on why the section distribution
exists. In short (for more detail refer to Sistar’s “I Like That” review): in a group, having only one or
two members covering a vast majority of a song’s duration leads to the lack of
potentially more diverse vocals—both skill and voices. After all, for the
general example I tend to use, if there are two songs that sound exactly identical (some leeway on
“exactly” as there would be different voices) but Song A has nine members
equally singing and Song B has one out of nine members equally singing, it
appears that Song A is deserving of a higher rating. To be able to have so many
vocalists/rappers involved and properly delegated (if that word makes sense)
and to still produce a phenomenal song is more impressive than just a song that,
while a single singer/rapper might be individually excelling, is not obliged to
concern over which member should get which part based on ability, transition,
and so on.

But, even so, I sometimes—and more
so lately—wonder about the opposite viewpoint to this: Why does the
distribution matter if, for example, Group A has nine singers but only one is currently
capable of stunning vocals? Would it not be better to have the best singer
carry the bulk of the song? Because according to my review outline,
statistically speaking, I am indeed saying: “I would rather hear worse singing and overall song
production with an equal distribution than to hear good singing and overall song production with a poorer
distribution.” And, if we are critical with that, admittedly it sounds silly.
Currently, a song has a much higher chance of being rated above average (and
higher) as long as its members have a perfect distribution—song quality in the
realms of vocals, sections, instrumental, and lyrics can be neglected.
Conversely, a song can be refined in the mentioned categories and yet, should
the members have a large disparity, then that song—while sounding amazing
sonically and structurally—could become quite poor in its rating. Perhaps the
ultimate question is whether having an equal distribution can significantly impact a song’s quality and
if having an equal distribution requires much skill and intelligence over
actual song production. To personally answer, I do feel that an average
sounding song getting ranked highly because of an equal share is not fair to a
song that sounds fantastic and yet is ruined by a lower section distribution
score. It, boldly and even arrogantly said, appears to take much more skill and
effort to have solid vocals, structures, and so forth, than to establish an
equal distribution. Weeks could be taken just for an idol to record her/his
appropriate chorus, but to change up which member sings which part can happen
much more hastily and without much struggle.

While Blackpink’s review will not
have the section distribution removed, I plan to test it in the upcoming
reviews and to see if the scores become significantly skewed in some form
without section distribution ratings being applied. (I think all should be fine
considering solo artists already have the section distribution excluded, and
indeed their reviews are very fair as it is about the song itself, not who
sings what.) For perhaps why I am overall hesitant to remove it, doing so would
potentially nullify the ratings of all past reviews. There have been reviewed
songs where the total score is limited by the distribution even if the song
itself was fabulous. On the other end, there have been reviews where a total
score is almost wrongly inflated by a distribution even if the song itself was
rather poor. Certainly past reviews’ content and argument points still remain
viable and likewise the ratings except for the total score, but nonetheless
this is something to consider. But, as I personally believe, even if initially
uncomfortable it is much better for a positive change to occur than to
continually remain in a less desirable state just for the purpose of comfort or
normality. The next review after this will experiment with removing the section
distribution, and I do predict it being better for the blog in the long-run.  

Finally, though, let us focus on the
review. Blackpink has been garnering much attention lately. In fact, this debut
might be the most hyped I personally have experienced. But, it is understandable
on why given the teaser clips of the members singing and dancing. Regardless, for
where I hope this review stands, I hope to provide a more serious, neutral
perspective to Blackpink and not for Blackpink as the wonderful, skilled young ladies
they are (I recall listening to a singing clip of a certain member when she was
fourteen and yet she was outstanding),
but instead for them as artists. All in all, their debut might have been
greatly anticipated and is currently cherished, but even so I do wonder how
much of that is moreover on pure support (which should occur; even if a group’s
songs are not the best, they deserve support) than of a more critical approach.
To already leak the review, “Whistle” might score at average, but this is
largely due to the section distribution compensating (and coincidentally that
was what we discussed earlier). Without it, “Whistle” is—contrary to the many
views—a rather lackluster song.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
5.00/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 4/10


Sections: 4/10
(4.00/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
3/10

2.     Verse: 3/10

3.     Rap: 4/10

4.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

5.     Chorus: 2/10

6.     Bridge: 6/10

7.     Conclusion: 4/10


Instrumental: 3/10


Section Distribution: 8/10

Jisoo:
Introduction, Pre-Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus (Total: 4)

Jennie:
Rap, Verse (Total: 2)

Rose:
Verse, Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus (Total: 3)

Lisa:
Introduction, Verse, Rap, Conclusion (Total: 4)

All:
Chorus, Chorus, Bridge

Equal Value: 3.25 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 6/10

Hey boy
Make ‘em whistle like
a missile bomb, bomb
Every time I show up, blow up, uh
Make ’em whistle like
a missile bomb, bomb
Every time I show up, blow up, uh

You’re so beautiful
I can’t forget you
Your eyes still
make my heart flutter, boom, boom
24, 365
I only want to be with you
During the day and at night,
I want you like this, ooh, ooh

Every boy checks me out everyday
They all think they can get me
I don’t want a lot of things
I want your heart
Cut out your heart and show me
Confidently, sometimes chic, chic
So hot, so hot
Make me not know what to do
Softly call out to me
Like a whistle in my ear

Don’t pass me by
If you can’t forget
me either, whoa
My heart for you is fire
My heart is beating so fast
You can hear it closer and closer

Whistle
Uh whistle, whistle, whistle
(Can you hear that)
Whistle, whistle, whistle
Whistle
Uh whistle, whistle, whistle
(Can you hear that)
Whistle, whistle, whistle

Hold up
Don’t say anything
Just whistle to my heart
That sound makes
my heart flutter boom, boom
Thoughts are boring
Feelings are shh–
Every day all day
Only stay by my side, zoom, zoom

Uh I’m always stylin’
I’m chic but in front of you, darlin’
It’s getting hot like a desert island
The more I get to know you, the more my heart rings
Stop hesitating, come over to me
Boy, it’s checkmate now
I win this game
(Uh-huh)
I choose you, I’ll hug you harder
Before someone
takes you away
(Uh)

Don’t pass me by
If you can’t forget
me either, whoa
My heart for you is fire
My heart is beating so fast
You can hear it closer and closer

Whistle
Uh whistle, whistle, whistle
(Can you hear that)
Whistle, whistle, whistle
Whistle
Uh whistle, whistle, whistle
(Can you hear that)
Whistle, whistle, whistle

This beat got me feelin’ like
I hope we won’t just
pass by like the wind
No need for many words
Now just take me
to your side
Ooh

Make ’em whistle like
a missile bomb, bomb
Every time I show up, blow up, uh
Make ’em whistle like
a missile bomb, bomb
Every time I show up, blow up, uh

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Although
the rating says otherwise, “Whistle” being rendered as average is arguably
excessive. The main, detrimental factors to “Whistle” is its overall generic sound,
lack of cohesion, and lack of depth. With this review, we will go through each
of those points and discuss both positives and negatives. After all, every song
has its strengths and weaknesses no matter what the total score holds as.

With
the first point about its generic sound, although this song does firmly grasp a
hip-hop style and tone, the instrumental, vocals, and sections are somewhat horrendous
at expanding that. An example will be used to clarify that. Focusing on the
instrumental, whiles its slower, echoing and deeper beats deliver the presence
of the song—that it is hip-hop—it fails to do anything beyond that. The
instrumental in of itself is nothing exclusive in either sound or structure. It
is, although I dislike being repetitive, quite generic for an instrumental.
Likewise with the sections, the verses and raps and choruses also all fall into
a generic category: nothing of these sections standout from usual hip-hop
songs. Furthermore, and for why the ratings are even lower, the sections
succeed in delivering the stage of the song but not the appeal: the sections
indicate “Whistle” ‘s hip-hop style, but the format and sound of these sections
are lifeless, mundane, and ultimately leave no impression on listeners as it
all sounds too standard. And this leads to the vocals’ issues: seldom changing
in vocals styles—as noticed by how all the raps sound the same and likewise
verses, choruses, and so on—and seldom fluctuating in intensity so as to provide
some fluidity to the song and to prevent stagnant moments.

Addressing
the second point—the idea that there is a lack of cohesion—I find this perhaps
the most significant of the flaws. Even if the instrumental and vocals are
weaker in “Whistle” and even if the overall song is too generic in sound and
structure, the lack of cohesion is ultimately what breaks the song. To understand
this argument, consider how each of the sections is vastly distinct from the
other. The verse, rap, pre-chorus, and chorus—and even the introduction and
conclusion to add—are easily distinguished. On the surface, this would appear
to be good—and absolutely in a vast majority of situations that is true. After
all, songs that tend to have overly similar sections tend to be very
repetitive, and that is seldom a benefit. But, with “Whisper,” the differences
between sections are excessive to the point that said differences become
hindrances.

The
reason for that is the song loses its cohesion; the song is no longer able to flow from section to section, but rather
it jumps from section to section.
This is why, for example, the pre-choruses are extremely enticing on their own
rather than being considered enticing in the song in whole. Indeed, the
pre-choruses are impressive and the structure and singing of them are
brilliant, but the disappointing aspect is that their appeal come not so much
from building up to them but instead, from contrasting them from the more
stagnant, dry sections. This is what I mean when I claim there is no cohesion:
the sections have to conflict with one another rather than work with one
another, and that none link to the other. There is no seamless flow from the
rap to pre-choruses or from the pre-choruses to the choruses. It is, after all,
rather difficult to see how a smooth, melodic pre-chorus leads to a chorus that
moreover chants and relentlessly repeats “whistle.”  

Lastly,
for the final point, the song lacks depth. In addition to how “Whistle” fails
to deviate away from the ubiquitous pop hip-hop genre mix and how the song
fails to bind itself together, the song is overly simple. Now certainly simplicity
in of itself is not a flaw, but the downfall of being overly simplistic is the lack of taking risks—the lack of depth.
The bridge, for example, fulfills the traditional idea of a bridge, but nothing
more. For the vocals, lacking depth is also problematic. The rap vocals could
have been more intense and dynamic, but instead the rapping remains as linear
and static in pacing, intensity, and so forth. Even the singing at the
pre-choruses, while decent currently, do not provide more complexity besides
tuneful singing that escalates the song.

Overall,
if “Whistle” expanded on the current vocals so as to provide more appeal and if
the song modified its format in a way so that it provided a new, creative and
unique take to hip-hop and pop, and finally if it was able to connect its
sections so that all were aiding and supplementing each other, the song could
have been a promising debut. As it stands, though, unfortunately it—at its best—is
another average debut, but more critically one might even go as far as to claim
it is disappointing review. If the section distribution was removed, then a
less desirable total score would be in place and this is something to bear in
mind.

Nevertheless,
even if “Whistle” is a weaker debut song, I find it extreme to call this debut
a disaster or completely disappointing. Likewise, I also find it unreasonable to
claim “Whistle” is the best debut in K-Pop history. If anything, this debut—while
very much anticipated—is average and more so towards the lower range of average
(slightly below average or below average). However, in the end, as this is a
debut Blackpink does have room for growth and to eventually find their concept.
(And to note, it is also unfair to leave them the burden of being called “2NE1
clones”—their labelmate senior group of which is extremely popular—when
Blackpink are still attempting to find their concept in the first place.) This
very notion—the idea that the group will continually improve—is why one should
not dismiss the group even if “Whistle” is poorer than many other songs. But,
to sum up this review, “Whistle” leaves much to be desired but with Blackpink
being a new group, our desires for better and more will very likely be met in
the future.

_______________________________________________________

As
always, thank you to all for reading whether in full or short. Any attention is
greatly appreciated. For ending notes, it should be reminded that my reviews
are not to objectively label songs. Doing so is impossible as music always
carries biases due to cultural differences and such, but nonetheless I hope I
provide a more critical view to the song than those who are arguing its quality
based on emotions or preferences. Again, how a song rates is never indicative of
a group’s skills and capabilities, and even then reviews are not to bash groups
at all. As said earlier, even if a newly debut group releases a poorer song,
being supportive is essential in this sensitive period as only through support
will people even receive songs that are improvements. And without doubts, I
have yet to find a group that has not
improved from their debut.

In
terms of the upcoming reviews, I plan to catch up on July songs but also there
are many recent songs I wish to also review. Also, given that female groups
have been receiving most of the attention, I plan to cover Taemin’s “Goodbye”
(which, for a note, very much surprised me; its execution of a specific style
is amazing to say the least) and Monsta X’s “Stuck.” Before that, however, a
Korean hip-hop artist might be reviewed ahead of time: Basick’s “Nice.” Until
then, remember that “Your eyes still make my heart flutter, boom, boom.” Look
forward to whichever review is next, and for reviews to continually become more
concise and frequent.

HI, i really like your blog and reviews very detailed and complete. I ‘ve been listening kpop long ago and I like it when people do rewiew like you ( beyond that agrees with these ahahaha ). Keep it up and waiting for more review ( waiting for a review of blackpink). Greetings from Chile. PS: sorry for my bad english bye

Hello there. And don’t worry about your English; English isn’t everyone’s first language and the fact that you wrote this regardless of language barriers is truly impressive. With that, thank you so much for the kind words. I will work hard to finish the review on Blackpink soon, so do look forward to it! Take care and once again, thank you for sharing this. It means a lot to hear from readers. 

I.O.I – “Whatta Man” Review

I.O.I – Whatta Man (Music Video)

I.O.I – Whatta Man

Reviewed
on August 9, 2016

image

Another issue, and arguably the main weakness to the song, is that excess focus means insufficient focus elsewhere: specifically to that of the raps and verses. Unlike the choruses which are roaring with power and organized in a cohesive manner along with tints of two-part singing to prevent repetitiveness—and indeed this is critical as these types of choruses are prone to mundaneness—the other sections in the song falter.

Personal Message:
I have never reviewed two songs in
one day (though if I delay this review then this sentence can be disregarded),
but today might be the first. If I am feeling even more ambitious, a third
review might also come but that is unlikely. Many comebacks and debuts are
taking place, and indeed I am trying to keep up and to catch up from last month’s releases (Eric Nam, Stellar, and
Brave Girls in specific).

Focusing on the sudden review,
I.O.I’s latest comeback, “Whatta Man” has attracted much attention as of the
late. Besides how the project group (in other words, only temporary) originated
from Produce 101, a show focused on
idol trainees and rookies, and that I.O.I is considered a “super group” by most
since many of the idols are from a variety of actual groups while having high
skills, the group is also getting much attention for “Whatta Man” since it in
truth is moreover a cover than an actual release. Indeed, after some
researching, “Whatta Man” is an old American Pop song and I.O.I (with
permission) used many of the original song’s features for their current version
of it. While I have not heard the original and let alone even knew of it, I
find it of no concern that I.O.I is not releasing their individually owned
song. Besides, the ladies’ twist to “Whatta Man”—I am assuming everything but
the chorus is of their own—is impressive. (And, from a technical standpoint,
the group is not official and thus, having covers versus actual new songs is
much less strenuous and more suiting as they are only temporarily together.)

Now before continuing further, it
might be best to further explain the group. As discussed earlier, I.O.I
originates from a show and that the members are from other, actual
groups—examples being Gugudan, DIA, Pledis Girlz, and Cosmic Girls. With that,
I.O.I is solely a project group; I.O.I will certainly disband at one point and
only exists for as long as they are in Produce
101
. The members of I.O.I are also still in their respective groups; no
member of I.O.I left their original group in pursue of I.O.I. And for where
this all becomes even more complicated, for “Whatta Man” the entirety of I.O.I
is not here: only seven out of eleven members are active for this release. Is
this a sub-unit, then? Again, it is but technically is not as the group in of
itself is already a project. Let us just focus on the music.

For “Whatta Man,” much of the
current reactions and stances appear to be polar opposites: there are those who
praise the song as fantastic and the best, and others who criticize the song as
unoriginal, unfitting, and even stale. Biasedly, I am a fan of the song due to
its hard-hitting, powerful vocals and style, but from a serious and neutral
perspective, I hope to bring a new angle to the song: “Whatta Man” ultimately
flourishes, but even with its charming points there are still heavy drawbacks.
This critique, a critique that leans moreover to the middle, is what I hope to
bring to current discussions. (And as discussed in the prior review, I will also be using the current
review as experiment and practice for a more concise write-up.)

Edit (Feb. 17, 2017): Adding a message I received from a reader for corrections. Thank you very much for sending this in.

“Hey so I’ve been a really big fan for a long time and I adore your reviews. They’re in depth and well thought out. Despite the fact that I am a large fan of yours, I have found some problems with your review for I.O.I’s Whatta Man. The problem isn’t with your review of the song, which is spot on as usual. 

Before the actual review, you gave some explanation about the formation of the group and the members of the group with which I take issue.

In one of the intro paragraphs you described the members as having come from groups such as Gugudan, Pledis Girlz, DIA and Cosmic Girls. This is simply untrue. Sejeong and Mina debuted in Gugudan after Produce 101 was over. Pledis Girlz isn’t even a fully debuted group yet. Yeunjeung was added to Cosmic Girls after Produce 101 finished airing. The only case with which your statement was true, was concerning Cathy and Chaeyeon, who withdrew from DIA to participate in the show. 

You also label the song as a cover, which again is untrue. It’s technically a remake. YMC Entertainment purchased the rights to the song and created another version of it. This same situation happened with Girls Generation’s Run Devil Run and f(x)’s Hot Summer. It is not a cover because it’s being sold and profit Is being made which does not happen with cover songs. 

Also this is a small tidbit but you wrote that I.O.I is a project group that is only a group as lit as they are in Produce 101. This is also not true because Produce 101 has ended and the result of the ending of the show was the chance to be in I.O.I. The group will disband when the managing company disbands them, not when Produce 101 ends because it already has. 

I don’t want this to sound rude and please be aware that I respect your blog and everything you do, I just wanted to clear things up. Thank you for your time” – 

crispable-affextion

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 7/10
(6.80/10 raw score) – “Above average”


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 6/10
(5.67/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction
(Chorus): 3/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Rap: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Bridge: 7/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Section Distribution: 9/10

Nayoung:
Rap, Rap (Total: 2)

Chungha:
Rap, Verse (Total: 2)

Jieqiong:
Rap, Verse (Total: 2)

Sohye:
Verse, Verse (Total: 2)

Yoojung:
Rap, Verse, Rap (Total: 3)

Doyeon:
Verse, Verse, Bridge (Total: 3)

Somi:
Verse, Verse, Verse (Total: 3)

All:
Introduction (Chorus), Chorus, Chorus, Conclusion (Chorus)

Equal Value: 2.43 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 6/10

Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, I know you’re a good man
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, yes, you’re a good man

If I just pass you, I think I’ll regret it
Should I just take a slight look?
Yes, you’re right, stop looking around
We keep locking eyes

Electricity ran between us, are you okay?
Tell me, am I misreading this by myself?
I see your heart reflected in your shaking eyes
I’m going to read it, what does it say?
You know you got me singing

Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, I know you’re a good man
(Right)
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, yes, you’re a good man
(Yes, it’s you)
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, I know you’re a good man
(Yes he is)
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, yes, you’re a good man
(Yes, you’re a good man)

A small fire in my heart
Only the wind is blowing today
Without warning my feelings grow, what do I do?
Come closer and see for yourself
Che-che-check me out
Don’t look elsewhere, keep focusing on me

You were special from the start
Feel so good, I got a feeling
Something about you feels strange
Something’s different about you
You know you got me singing

Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, I know you’re a good man
(Right)
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, yes, you’re a good man
(Yes, it’s you)
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, I know you’re a good man
(Yes he is)
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, yes, you’re a good man
(Yes, you’re a good man)

Luck that falls from the sky
Do you think it’ll go to you?
This is a chance from God
What are you doing? Run over here
If you don’t catch me, if you don’t hold onto me,
I’ll fly away like a balloon
If you kick away this chance,
it’ll make you kick your blankets

When are you going to stop hesitating?
Now stop
Oh oh oh oh
I’m curious about you
Come closer, I won’t hurt you
(I won’t hurt you)
(Woo)

Oh, yeah-ah-ah
(Yes you are)

Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, I know you’re a good man
(Yes he is)
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, yes, you’re a good man
(Whatta man)
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, I know you’re a good man
(Oh whoa)
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, yes, you’re a good man
(Oh come on and sing it with me)
Whatta man, whatta man
Whatta man, I know you’re a good man

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

– Syncing: */10

– Key Points: */10

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

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Surprisingly,
“Whatta Man” scores at above average—a rating that I did not predict at all. I
say that as, while I do biasedly enjoy the song, this song is an example of
pure emphasis towards power and as a result, many categories are at the expense
of the hammering, powerful vocals and choruses—this being why I predicted a six
out of ten at most. But regardless of numbers given, it should be noted this song
is not necessarily well balanced even if it scores well in its entirety. As
said earlier, this song is neither perfect nor imperfect; “Whatta Man” has both
strengths and weaknesses as does every song. For the following analysis, however,
let us focus moreover on how the sheer amount of intensity is controlled—or the
lack thereof—and how that affects the rest of the song.  

Beginning
with a very noticeable issue, the introduction to the song is beyond excessive.
Intriguingly, if the actual music video’s audio at the start—the moments prior
to 0:09—was a part of the official audio, then the introduction would actually
be slightly improved. However, as that is not the case, the instantaneous delivery
of the erupting choruses is far too much. Certainly it does set up the song for
what to expect, but even so its lack of soothing listeners into that is not
ignorable. Without a transitioning point to ease in listeners, “Whatta Man” ‘s
powerful vocals at the very start are no longer rendered as “powerful” per se,
but perhaps as obnoxious or overly dramatic instead—these labels connoting
negativity versus that of positivity.

Another
issue, and arguably the main weakness to the song, is that excess focus means insufficient
focus elsewhere: specifically to that of the raps and verses. Unlike the
choruses which are roaring with power and organized in a cohesive manner along
with tints of two-part singing to prevent repetitiveness—and indeed this is
critical as these types of choruses are prone to mundaneness—the other sections
in the song falter. Is this by accident or with intent? In truth, there is no
firm answer as it is understandable on why every section minus the choruses is
rather lacking: it creates the emphasis listeners feel when the choruses
arrive. By having verses and raps that are moreover fillers than their own
sections, the choruses—once occurring—are even more enticing than before as there is no competition among the
other sections. This is what I am referring to when I claim the song is not
well balanced. This is not necessarily a negative trait, but it does mean “Whatta
Man” is predominantly adored for particularly one section versus for its
entirety.

As
for other hindrances to the power-orientated format to “Whatta Man,” the lyrics
and instrumental partially suffer. With the lyrics, even if it is augmented by
the diversity of details as noticed in how every section is unique (minus the
choruses), it still lacks in its plot depth and, more importantly, that the
choruses’ lines are extremely redundant, minor details. For the instrumental, this
aspect to the song is likewise intriguing. Akin to the sections of funneling
the attention towards the choruses, the instrumental functions homogenously: in
of itself, the instrumental is nothing stunning, but once the choruses arrive
it plays a vital role. To elaborate, the instrumental during the choruses
provide a wrap—if we can say that—to the choruses’ vocals; the instrumental
does not steal attention away from the ladies’ singing, and yet it still adds
in a seducing bass line to cover for the lower sounds and likewise some
background mid-high sounds to cover that range. In the midst of this all, I.O.I’s
vocals are able to be comfortably covered, and the result is choruses that are
thorough, dynamic, and exciting (in the sense of not boring; being upbeat/exciting
is stylistic and therefore is not necessarily able to be used as a negative or
positive trait).

And
so, while releasing an utterly powerful, impacting song has some weaknesses
brought along with it, there are still admirable points and these points are
why, despite the odds, “Whatta Man” scores at above average. The vocals,
without much explanation needed, greatly excel. I.O.I’s vocals are powerful—their
vocals are not obnoxious, chaotic, and misguided. All of the vocals in “Whatta
Man” may be strong, but they are in a precise, controlled fashion so as to
bring cohesion and tune. Especially with the variety of vocals occurring—be it
raps, plainer singing at the verses or smooth, tuneful vocal beltings and
adlibs/two-part singing—the vocals may be powerful, but they still retain the
variety necessary to guaranteed a constant high level of appeal. Additionally,
it also helps that the section distribution is as equal as possible. Many
readers may wonder why a song’s distribution of sections/lines matter, but this
is why: because each member’s voice prevents staleness. In this song, it is not
just one member carrying the bulk of the song, but instead, everyone is
involved. Agreeably there may be particular roles for those who handle more
intense singing or rapping, but nonetheless with each member having the
sufficient amount of time, it allows the vocals to remain diverse in both sound
and style.

Lastly,
for what brings this song together and why many have become fond of it, since
I.O.I’s execution of a high-intensive song is excellent, the resulting choruses—the
sections that serve as the climactic, momentous point—are incredible. The
choruses are the main highlight of the song: solid chemistry with the vocals,
sections, and instrumental. After investing and expending much of the song for
this one moment, indeed in this song’s case the result is promising. Overall,
I.O.I’s “Whatta Man” is a strong song—no pun intended. Although in a majority
of songs this format of one section becoming an emphasized, cherished point
leads to many problems, I.O.I does manage to execute it so that there are moreover
strengths than weaknesses. While “Whatta Man” is not necessarily “balanced” and
is a high-risk-high-reward song (many will either very much like or dislike it),
admittedly sometimes taking major risks can prove rewarding. In the end, it is
a song that is one of the best “high-powered” songs I personally have heard,
but of course it is not without its flaws. Rather than the current views that
this song is either entirely good or bad, I will end with saying “Whatta Man”
is—even if not balanced in of itself as discussed—very much balanced in terms
of possessing both strengths and weaknesses.

_______________________________________________________

And
somehow I actually finished two reviews in one day—though I did take a break
for this one. Nonetheless, I am starting to get the hang of this reviewing
style and I do find it more productive than the prior style as I am now able to
cover more content and not drone on to the point of boring readers who simply
desire a thorough overview without excess details to read. For example, I could
have very much explained why the verses and raps are lacking or why the
concluding chorus is a six versus the standard choruses which were sevens, but
since these would focus on the very minor details, it appears best to instead
stick with the main ideas and points. More practice will help, but I personally
am quite ecstatic to know how many potential reviews I can now quickly cover
without sacrificing core reviewing points of songs.

For
the next review, I currently have Blackpink prepared as the newly debuted group
is also under much discussion—both mature and immature—about the qualities of
their debut songs. While my reviews are never objective and are meant to ignite
discussion versus that of debating stances, I do hope the upcoming review
allows some new insight to Blackpink’s debut. Afterwards, with some new optimistic
energy, I will work hard to review many of the songs I missed during July. After
all, “You know you got me singing”—I mean writing. Despite how passionate I am
for pop music, it is vastly better for me to stick to writing and not singing.
Jokes aside, look forward to Blackpink’s “Whistle.”

GFriend – “Navillera” Review

GFriend – Navillera (Music Video)

GFriend
– Navillera (Live Performance)

GFriend – Navillera

Reviewed
on August 9, 2016

And so, with all that understood, why does this all matter? Where am I leading this review? Now that readers have a general understanding of my connotation of a “hill” progression and GFriend’s mastery of it since “Rough,” it is this said mastery of it that allows “Navillera” to fly (pun somewhat intended). “Navillera” takes this progression form and, unlike the past songs of “Glass Bead” and “Me Gustas Tu,” sharply refines it so that each category is enhanced by the progression versus being impaired (or at least passively used). With this understood, let us now finally focus on “Navillera” in its whole and parts.

Personal Message:
If there has been a review that is
long overdue, GFriend’s “Navillera” might just be it. Especially given how this
song is now officially my personal favorite song of all-time and that it does
overtake Fiestar’s “You’re Pitiful,” my prior favorite (and recall that favorite is not best; BTOB’s
“It’s Okay”
and SPICA’s
“Ghost”
are still the top songs I have yet to hear even if they are not
favorites per se), it is a bit surprising that this review has not taken place
sooner. But nonetheless it is here. Likewise, a reader was also curious on my
take to the song, so for them I do hope this review provides an answer.

For more important topics—though not
to dismiss GFriend in of themselves since they are brilliant, hardworking and
loving ladies who very much are excellent role models for males and females—this
review will be another trial on compacting reviews akin to ones months ago. Given
that university is soon arriving and that this year I will be even busier than
the last (I am taking three English classes, so readers can imagine the amount
of essays and reading required), if I am to keep the blog fairly active and to
expand its range of comebacks covered, I should be able to review at least two
songs per writing session. As such, for how I plan to do so, I will attempt to
avoid systematically analyzing a song and to instead focus on aspects that
provide discussion. Consider the following for example: in the past few
reviews, many verses have been “adequate in sound and structure.” While I could
cover that and explain why that is the case for each song that coincidentally
has that, I noticed I have been repeating that said explanation ubiquitously.
The result? It is very likely that readers are tired of that, let alone myself.
Thus, I will instead attempt to make each review distinctive for the song at
hand; while I will cover strengths and weaknesses, I will attempt to do so in a
way that it highlights the song itself and not just an input-output form of
having to explain each section, the vocals, and so on.

For a simple example to illustrate
this, say that a song scores fives in every category (vocals, sections, etc.).
Indeed, I could still go through each category and explain why they are average,
but a more concise take would be to instead talk about why the song in its
entirety is average. Certainly there is less depth as sometimes readers may
wish to know the very core reasons behind my claims, but it cannot be helped
and I do believe that readers would desire to read three reviews of sufficient
depth than to read one review of a song that is excessively in depth. Feedback as always will be crucial and I do encourage
it.

With all of this said, although I do
wish to personally discuss my stance towards GFriend, I will save that for,
once again, an upcoming show review involving the ladies. For now, let us focus
not on “GFriend”—the amazing ladies of Sowon, Eunha, SinB, Umji, Yerin, and
Yuju—but instead on GFriend—the group as skilled artists. “Navillera” was their
comeback a few weeks ago, and even if it is my favorite and is a song I
continue to relentlessly play, it is not without flaws as are any song. Let us
fly away like butterflies and see if “Navillera,” arguably the best song yet
from the group, will maintain its flight.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 7/10
(6.80/10 raw score) – “Above average”


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(7.29/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 8/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 7/10

6.     Bridge: 7/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 8/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Section Distribution: 6/10

Sowon:
Verse, Bridge (Total: 2)

Umji:
Verse, Bridge (Total: 2)

SinB:
Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Pre-Chorus (Total: 4)

Yerin:
Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge (Total: 4)

Eunha:
Verse, Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus (Total: 5)

Yuju:
Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Chorus (Total: 5)

Equal Value: 3.67 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 7/10

I could tell the moment I saw you
You’re something special
I could feel it in your eyes
I could feel my heart dropping

Fly like the butterflies, Na-Na-Na-Navillera
Let the wind blow
Fly way away
So I can reach you
with all my heart

Let’s start fresh, you and me
The love I envy, please don’t let me down
I’m going to show you how I’ve been feeling
I won’t wait any longer

Back at the starting point
Let’s speed things up a little
Let me get myself together
and I’ll come forward

Bloom like the flowers, Na-Na-Na-Navillera
I’m still just a shy girl
I’m nervous too
Our voices, so full of excitement
with all our hearts

Let’s start fresh, you and me
The love I envy, please don’t let me down
I’m going to show you how I’ve been feeling
I won’t wait any longer

I’ve been waiting for this moment
And I’m with you who has always kept by my side
I’ll make it come true, like I always do

Wake from the dreams, Na-Na-Na-Navillera
Someday, you and I
I hope we can
build a future together
You’re more than enough for me

Let’s start fresh, you and me
The love I envy, please don’t let me down
I’m going to show you how I’ve been feeling
I won’t wait any longer

Choreography Score: 8/10 (7.50/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 8/10

– Key Points: 7/10

Overall Score: 8/10
(7.50/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Numerically
glancing at the song, indeed “Navillera” is extremely balanced: all but one
category rate at above average. Even the lower rating category, though, is still
noteworthy. What features to the song grant it these impressive scores?
Although there are many to look at—and we would if we were following standard
review procedures—the largest strength to “Navillera” is its progression: “standard
pop” but at a very refined form.

Exactly
what am I referring to when I mention the prior sentence? Since it is crucial
to understand this point to then understand my analysis toward the song, let us
begin here. Overall, for what may best clarify my meaning, I will confidently say
that GFriend has mastered a music style that is very “audience-friendly”; the
style of songs in all of GFriend’s title releases—“Glass Bead,” “Me Gustas Tu,”
and even “Rough,” follow a peculiar form that very few can necessarily hate—even
if one cannot say they “like” it. It is a form that, at its worst, remains
neutral, but at its best is one where there are many fans and very few who are
at neutral—let alone disliking. For what this progression form is specifically,
it is none other than the “hill”: songs that buildup and have a climactic point
only to then cycle through those “hills.” Furthermore, however, couple that progression
with an upbeat tempo and acoustic instrumentals versus that of, for example,
EDM, and indeed if all is executed well the song should end up being easily
accepted by most as it is fun, exciting, foreseeable without being entirely
predictable, and not extreme. In a rough sense (no pun intended), these aspects
are the main building-blocks to “Rough,” “Me Gustas Tu,” “Glass Bead,” and even
the current song of “Navillera.” This is why, as many fans have noticed, the
title songs to GFriend have all sounded identical: they are identical. The only difference, then, are the details involved:
the vocals, instrumental, and the subtle details of transitions, how sections
are structured, and much more.

Before
continuing, readers might now ask, “If this progression form is supposedly so
great that it attracts nearly everyone, why is it not used in every pop song?”
Although I could be pessimistic and claim that many pop songs do in fact use
this progression and thus that the genre of pop is about recycling with added
twists, for a more serious answer: if it is excellently executed, the reward is
a song that few can dislike and where most do like it to some degree; if it is
poorly executed—and harshly said, examples being “Glass Bead” and “Me Gustas Tu”—the
song becomes incredibly average and
is “another, ordinary and negligible pop song.” GFriend’s attempts with this
progression were an utter disaster for their first two title songs; the listed
two are, contrary to many fans’ take, too generic. In fact, if it was not for “Rough,”
I would continue to overlook GFriend. But, that said, when GFriend did finally
delivery this progression in “Rough,” it was then that a beautiful, charming
and well-rounded song came—and indeed, “Rough” is a very iconic song (in South
Korea/K-Pop at least) and netted GFriend multiple wins on music shows.

And
so, with all that understood, why does this all matter? Where am I leading this
review? Now that readers have a general understanding of my connotation of a “hill”
progression and GFriend’s mastery of it since “Rough,” it is this said mastery
of it that allows “Navillera” to fly (pun somewhat intended). “Navillera” takes
this progression form and, unlike the past songs of “Glass Bead” and “Me Gustas
Tu,” sharply refines it so that each category is enhanced by the progression versus
being impaired (or at least passively used). With this understood, let us now
finally focus on “Navillera” in its whole and parts.

A
simple example of how the vocals are aided by the progression is by looking at
the members themselves. As is the case in a majority of groups, there are
certain common roles: sub/support vocalists; lead vocalists; and main vocalists.
Although I will not focus on labeling the members of GFriend and their roles
(as, excluding Yuju as the official main vocalist, the rest are up for discussion),
this idea is important to bear in mind. On topic with “Navillera” and how the
prior point applies, since the song follows a format of building up each section
to a climactic point such as the choruses, GFriend is no longer forced to “compensate”
for members but instead are allowed to have specific members specialize in
their roles. And indeed, the latter is generally always better than the former;
it is oftentimes much more efficient for members to sing what they are suitable
for than to overextend outside of their role. After all, as much as I love
Sowon, I would find it more fitting for Yuju to handle intensive, vocal belting
and high notes than for her to. And so, what is the result of the progression
in relation to the vocals? Simpler sections of the song that are orientated
towards purely setting up intensity—examples being the first parts of the
bridge and verses—are covered by members whose abilities perfectly mesh with it
(though there are some who appear all over, such as Eunha), and for sections
that tend to be more rigorous, the appropriate member sings. This, overall,
results in what we hear vocally in “Navillera”: a range of singing styles,
intensity, pacing, and alluring tunes—all in credit to having members
appropriately sing what is suited for them, and this being in credit to the
progression of the song.

For
the sections, as already covered the progression of the song allows each
section to not fluently connect to each other, but also for each one to
individually flourish structurally and sonically. One additional feature to
note, however, is that while “Navillera” ‘s progression is well executed, the
song does impressively cover a potential issue of repetition. After all, even
with a fun, climactic-based format, a song can easily lose its charms if that “hill”
progression becomes overly predictable. To handle that aspect, the song itself
varies each section through minor details. Arguably most momentous example is
the second verse: the instrumental this section has a brief period of being slightly
passive only to then return in full force. This subtle detail is not enough to disrupt
the flow of the song, but likewise it is significant enough to help prevent mundaneness
that could occur—such as with claiming that the choruses become dull, even if
they are in of themselves supposedly a climactic point.

Addressing
the final details of lyrics and sections, the lyrics earn a higher rating due
to—akin to the vocals and sections—its diversity of details. Although
admittedly the plot remains minimally developed, it is a stunning aspect to see
that nearly all of the sections in the song use new lines rather than the
traditional method of merely recycling them. Regarding the section
distribution, two members are in the excess while two members are in the
deficient. While it is only one section per member that would need to be
switched for a perfect distribution, since it is two members and not one, a
slightly heavier penalty is given.

Concluding
this review, GFriend’s “Navillera” is truly an incredible song. Biasedly, it
has become my favorite song of all-time—this being an impressive feat as my
prior favorite, Fiestar’s “You’re Pitiful,” held that status for about one and
a half years. Neutrally, though, “Navillera” is definitely not without its
weaker points. While I am skeptical to say there are “flaws,” I do find that
the song could have pushed for an even stronger score. Nonetheless, it is an
above average song and is one that I will argue few can genuinely hate as its
style and progression is of the pop archetype—but of course, with added details
that ensure its specialty all while it has the safety of cherished pop song
flow.

_______________________________________________________

For
readers who have been curious on my take to the song, I am glad to finally
finish the review. That said, I do feel as if I overly rushed the analysis and
specifically during the sections individually. But, in doing so, we would have
returned to the old format of reviews which not only would have taken longer, but
would have been a usual “input-output” review where a song goes in only to then
have numbers come out. Here I attempted to deliver a more particular insight to
“Navillera”: that of its excellent progression and execution of it. Feedback
will be desired, but I find that more experience would help future reviews.

In
terms of the next reviews, I have many in mind and plan to attempt to review
two or even three in this entire day. We will see how that goes. Look forward to
them to come, and “Let’s start fresh, you and me” with this new reviewing
outline.

GFriend’s Reality Show – “Where Are You Going?!” Review

GFriend – Where Are You Going?! (Full Playlist; Eng. Subtitled)

GFriend
Where Are You Going?!

Reviewed on August 7, 2016

image

“All
in all, from a superficial stance, WAYG
does seem rather enticing; there are many places that GFriend visit and
coupling that with the ladies having fun with games and of course being
together, the show seems to excel in the realm of reality shows. However, as I
will argue, this is not the case: Where
Are You Going?!
is a rather repetitive, boring show. Even if GFriend
themselves provide appeal on the basis of their own acts, the show’s structure
greatly hinders the potential of the show.”

Personal
Message:
Although I
was—and am—going to review GFriend’s “Navillera,” due to preparing for a summer
class final and currently attempting to revise the current song review outline
so as to make it more concise (and to soon continue with subtitling a video
project for Fiestar’s subbing team), I have decided to review a show in the
meantime as a bonus. Besides, if anything, this review will create anticipation
for GFriend’s upcoming review as it clearly does involve the ladies. And before
continuing further, the linked playlist is an official upload by MBC, a
broadcasting station. English subtitles are also included from MBC and thus,
every reader here has no excuse to not watch it—or is that actually the case?

Explaining the prior statement and
in regards to why I have even decided to review Where Are You Going?! (which will be abbreviated as WAYG for the purpose of ease), while I
have been watching many videos on GFriend as of the late (indeed, I am now a
huge fan of them), this is the first show of any K-Pop group where I have found
it to be rather lackluster. Indeed, harshly said, this might be the first show
where I advise readers to not watch.
Now certainly GFriend in of themselves make the show as fun as possible and of
course fans are always grateful to have the members on any show, but WAYG is perhaps the most redundant show
I have yet to watch. I personally felt the urge to constantly skip ahead
throughout the show because, comically yet seriously said, WAYG is essentially a running show; if readers have ever been
curious as to what runners experience, then WAYG
provides an answer. A vast majority of the episodes simply involve walking or
running, and although interesting events still happen throughout said walking
and running along with some form of variety, this show is simply too lacking
and does not expand on multiple activities even when there are certain moments
for that to occur—an example being showcasing more footage from GFriend when
they were resting and talking to one another versus having even more footage of the ladies running and
walking.

And so to answer where GFriend is going,
while there are truthfully many answers, if we changed the question to “what are you doing” then problems arise as
there are only minimal answers—and generally said, that does mean a show would
lose appeal.

_______________________________________________________

Plot
Summary:
For the
following plot summary, I will reveal the main highlights of what occurs in the
show, but of course details will be saved for those who desire to watch the
show. In terms of what WAYG even is,
it is a reality show with some tints of being a variety show as there are games/missions
involved. Nevertheless, given that the main focus is on keeping the footage as
“natural” as possible and that they are not in a studio such as in Weekly Idol (or basement if we want to
be accurate), “reality” is an appropriate label. As for, in a summarizing
sentence, what the show is about, WAYG
follows GFriend as they travel around to various locations—examples being a
beach, landmarks, and so forth. Furthermore, however, the ladies are split into
two teams that compete with each other in various tasks. Predictably, winning
or losing the tasks results in punishments or rewards. A simple example is that
the losing team would have to walk and use buses to get to a landmark while the
winning team gets a personal ride there.

All in all, from a superficial
stance, WAYG does seem rather
enticing; there are many places that GFriend visit and coupling that with the
ladies having fun with games and of course being together, the show seems to
excel in the realm of reality shows. However, as I will argue, this is not the
case: Where Are You Going?! is a
rather repetitive, boring show. Even if GFriend themselves provide appeal on
the basis of their own acts, the show’s structure greatly hinders the potential
of the show.

_______________________________________________________

Overall
Value: 4/10
(4.00/10
raw score) – “Slightly below average”

– Entertainment Value: 5/10

– Structural Value: 3/10

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
Although as mentioned show reviews
are mere bonuses and therefore the ratings should be taken lightly, WAYG does rate as slightly below average—and
agreeably so. In regards to the issue with the show’s format, as discussed
earlier the show lacks variety and depth in its content. Now certainly there is
some variety as noticed by, for examples, how the ladies are seen picking
tangerines to then jump-roping on a beach to then bicycling to then running and
seeing a landmark (and even much more), but if we are to gauge in a more
critical, open view then these activities are not as different as expected. The
following are still unappealing points that are not addressed even with
supposedly the variety of activities introduced: all of the activities are
based as games—there is a winner and loser; the teams’ compositions do not
change throughout the entire series; and lastly but arguably most importantly,
all of the activities are still too akin to one another.

To elaborate on those points, the
first one may appear confusing; why is there an issue with having the
activities all take the form of a game? After all, doing this allows for
viewers to become immersed in the competitive side of GFriend and likewise provides
incentives—goals, even—for GFriend and thus viewers are doing more than just
watching GFriend walk around and exploring sceneries. These are all valid
points but one aspect is overlooked: repetitiveness; mundaneness. It is not
inherently bad at all for games to occur—in fact it may even be beneficial.
However, when an entire reality show series revolves itself utterly on games,
one could not help but wonder if the series is even a reality show as much as a
variety show (though not to say that variety shows are bad). Perhaps as many
could agree to, with WAYG, it might
be expected that besides competing against each other, GFriend would still have
many moments of eating, touring, or exploring new places. But, with much of the
emphasis being towards the competitive side, WAYG soon feels more akin to a fancier game show than a show that
would bring various angles to GFriend. In terms of the second point, although it
is a weaker critique, randomizing the teams throughout might have also provided
more variety—and with how repetitive the show becomes, every bit helps.

Taking a look at the third main
critique, this is where I find the show most troubling. On the surface, yes,
the show is varied; it sounds extreme to say that the show lacks diversity in
its activities when quite blatantly the ladies do partake in many. Where I would challenge that notion, however,
is that quantity is not quality—as cliché as this is; it does not matter if
GFriend is shown running, walking, bicycling, taking buses, and so forth when
all of the activities are ultimately for racing against each other.
Furthermore, even within the different games—who can pick more tangerines, jump-rope
more, and so forth—there could have been much more competitions. For example,
it would have provided more appeal if some games were not “quantity-based” and
instead—to draw a sudden, random idea—were that of judging which team made the
most appetizing “eating-broadcast” (I will hope some readers understand that
term) or even the best sand castle. Again, the overly emphasized point of games
and that said games are not even diverse are the main culprits to the lower structural
score.

Optimistically, though, for where
the show still flourishes, GFriend is always entertaining. From their jokes to
how intense they can get with desiring to win, the ladies do provide purpose to
watching. Also, even if I do harshly bash the show’s structure, there still are
moments where the show provides what very much has lacked: moments of simply
GFriend being together and talking; moments of GFriend enjoying food and not
running out of breath; moments where usual touring and exploring occur. Additionally,
for a praise to the show itself and not the participants, WAYG should be credited for its simply layout: no ostentatious
captions; not relying on the constant use of songs (though admittedly hearing “Me
Gustas Tu” ‘s introduction for the hundredth time proved vexing after a few
episodes); not having dramatic footage editing of the ladies; and so forth.
Especially as many reality shows of the late are focused on providing as much
appeal as possible through excessive stimuli, watching WAYG does provide a relief through its clean, sharp delivery.  

In the end, for my personal recommendation,
I will boldly say this show is worth skipping over unless if one is a fan of
GFriend. Watching for the ladies themselves does prove worthy, but if one is
simply looking around for reality shows to watch for be it in hopes of getting
into GFriend (or a group in general) or for plain entertainment, there are many
other shows to look forward to instead. Of course, though, it should be kept in
mind that this review may come with much heavy bias—even if reviews are
innately going to be biased. Since I currently lack the skills to find what are
in fact strengths and weaknesses to shows, many of these points might be rooted
moreover in my take than in more serious, neutral reasoning. (This is why show
reviews are bonuses, after all, compared to that of song reviews.)

_______________________________________________________

As always, thank you for reading
even if this is moreover a bonus review. Since a reader is curious on a review
to GFriend’s “Navillera,” I will work hard to quickly finish the review. That
said, I am also looking to further concise reviews as it would be extremely
pleasing to be able to release a review per comeback, but nothing has been
finalized yet. At most, I am considering keeping the outline the same but to instead
change my analysis so that it is not so much on each aspect to a song, but
instead the points that provide the biggest discussion. Social digressions will
continue, though, whenever appropriate as I do find it a responsibility to
discuss topics that arise in pop culture. (An example is I might finally
discuss “slut-shaming” and even double-standards in Hyuna’s recent comeback.)
Point is, more experimenting will take place to see how reviews change. GFriend’s
“Navillera” might have to be the unfortunate test subject.

Overall, to answer where we are
going, look forward to GFriend’s “Navillera” to come, and afterwards I very
much plan to review Stellar’s “Crying” before focusing on more recent songs.