Hi! I dont know if u remember me as i haven’t made a song request in ages! Im finally back and hoped you could review WJSN’s ‘I wish’ as i believe that this is one of the more underrated girl groups in the kpop industry! As always, Thank you and keep up the good work!

Hello. I truly mean this but yes: I do remember you. I have always enjoyed and appreciated your requests, so thanks for returning with one. I can definitely review WJSN’s “I Wish,” and it will be reviewed after another request is finished. Personlly, I have been listening to WJSN’s latest album and thus equally the title song, and I do have a lot of praises and critiques to the song. I am hoping the review will prove interesting and insightful. Look forward to it, and thank you so much once again for sending in this request.

I’m requesting this right now because I just thought of it and I don’t want to forget haha but it’s by the same artist and I know you might not want to do it too soon so I don’t mind you can do it as late as you want – I’d like to request Dead Leaves by BTS because it’s my favourite song and I’d like to see how it is like from your perspective to give me a more balanced and comprehensive viewpoint of its strengths and flaws haha I’m curious ^^

Thank you for your review of Stigma! I found it interesting to read, it was very balanced and insightful. I always enjoyed Stigma for a reason I couldn’t quite grasp but after reading your review, you’re right, it’s the chemistry between the elements, and yes, when you pay attention and notice the ‘inner workings’ of the songs, it gets even better. Again, thanks! I might try to request other songs as well – although the pool of artists I listen to is quite frankly rather limited ^^;

I have attached your additional message in order to make replying slightly easier. First of all, you’re welcome for the review. I am joyed to hear that the review got you thinking deeply about “Stigma” as this is the ultimate goal of all of my reviews. And, of course, thank you for being the one to send in the request in the first place. (Also apologies for a slower reply to this; as mentioned in the prior post, I am amidst celebrating Lunar New Year.)

As for your request, I can definitely accept it even if it is by the same artist and such. Especially as BTS is a rather popular group, I am certain other readers are equally curious on how “Dead Leaves” would hold. That said, there are two other review requests ahead of this one: Uhm Junghwa’s “Dreamer” and WJSN’s “I Wish.” Nevertheless I will do my best to reach your request as quickly as possible, but indeed, it will certainly be reviewed at one point. Thanks for sending this in, I look forward to listening and analyzing “Dead Leaves.”

Hi! I just read your review on ‘Stigma,’ and though I am not the requester, I agree on many points of your review. As an R&B (and K-Pop) fan, there are many parts of the track that fares well for me. On another note, I have a suggestion for a review. Maybe you could compare similar albums/tracks side by side, the strengths and weaknesses of it, ex. Suzy and Seohyun’s solo albums. Though this way of review might be negative for some people, I think it would be an interesting way to see music. – T

Hello. I am glad you enjoyed the review and that more importantly it got you thinking about “Stigma” on a more critical level. Also on a random note to all readers, I wish everyone a happy Lunar New Year. (I personally do celebrate this holiday and it is definitely very culturally important to me.)

Regarding your suggestion, it is an interesting one and I can understand your thinking behind it. Comparing and contrasting different songs are great strategies to better understand how and why certain composing and techniques play out. After all, without comparisons and the like there is no “background” to refer to and thus, that can make music significantly harder to think and discuss about. Especially as many of my reviews are individually focused (barring the occasional comparisons within them), I can see how it would be enticing to have another track to refer back to and so forth. 

That said, I do doubt I will do this for various reasons even if it is a solid suggestion. For one, as you mention, this reviewing format would be negative with certain people. Though I very much dislike it when people compare music with the intentions of finding out which song is “better” versus using that comparison for discussion, undoubtedly there will be readers who potentially misinterpret compare/contrast reviews as a form of gauging which song is better. As for the more important reason, however, this now brings us a question of asking which songs should be compared with which. For example, you do bring up comparing Miss A’s Suzy’s and Girls’ Generation’s Seohyun’s solo debuts as an example of a potential comparative review, and though this perfectly makes sense with considering how both of them are releasing songs at roughly the same time, musically it is not fair to necessarily compare their releases. Seohyun’s “Don’t Say No” is incredibly different from Suzy’s “Yes No Maybe” be it in genre, flow, structuring, and so on. 

All in all, while I do doubt I will ever use comparative reviews as I find it most fair to review songs in of themselves, your suggestion still brings a lot of feedback for what I can for current reviews. I can definitely bring in more comparisons and references within reviews themselves–an example being how I oftentimes refer to AOA’s “Like a Cat” when discussing “filter/millennial whoop” post-choruses. Since references within reviews appear to be helpful, I will try incorporating them more but as said, pure comparative reviews of “this song compared to this song” will likely not take place. Either way, thank you so much for this suggestion and for the feedback. Many readers have most likely wondered the same, so asking it is incredibly helpful to everyone.  

V – “Stigma” Review

(Audio)

V (from BTS) – Stigma

Reviewed
on January 24, 2017

image

And
so, although “Stigma” faces the stigma of being a slower, dramatic song and
thus is disliked by many fans because of such, I argue the song is actually an
excellent one. If we are critical and listen beyond the song’s style and begin
attempting to understand why certain
compositions are in place, we will find that “Stigma”—despite being “boring” or
“too slow”—has many creative, efficient, and stunning points.  

Personal Message:
As perhaps readers can guess, I am
back at university and somehow already quite busy. Although this semester
appears to be quite challenging, I am expecting it to be “easier” than the last
as I have multiple two hour breaks in between classes and thus, my tendency to
procrastinate is greatly minimized. Personally a huge issue with last
semester—and this relating to the lack of reviews during that period—was squeezing
all of my classes back-to-back and as a result, despite many hours of free time
afterwards, I ended up wasting them away with distracting tasks. Perhaps this
could be a scheduling tip to readers who, like me, are not as disciplined.

On topic with this review, I would
like to thank a reader for sending in this request. I greatly apologize for not
getting to it sooner, but I hope this review is still enjoyable and
thought-provoking. I personally have been anticipating writing a review for this
song as there is so much to discuss in terms of music. As the requester
addressed, many fans struggle to listen to “Stigma”—a song that is not a
title/comeback song and instead is a song included in one of BTS’ albums.
Furthermore, the artist singing is just BTS’ V and thus, this creates more
difficulties as it is not the usual of every member participating. But of
course, the true problem is not the technicalities with members and “Stigma” not
being a title song; the issue is that musically
the song is hard to “enjoy.” It is not upbeat and within the pop genre as is,
say, the group’s “Blood Sweat & Tears,” nor does it involve powerful
dancing and a flashy music video. “Stigma” is the opposite: it is a soulful,
R&B song (if correct on the genre) that—while possessing a short music
video—is predominantly meant to be consumed sonically. However, given the
incredibly slower pacing of the song, a lack of visual aid, seemingly overly
dramatic vocals and instrumental, and a composition that appears to be quite
stagnant, it truly is understandable on why fans find “Stigma” a difficult
song.

Because of this interesting
background, this review will be more than just reviewing the song: I hope this
review becomes an example of how a
listener can learn to reap enjoyment from analyzing what she is listening
to—especially with a song that she may not personally prefer. Even if a
listener dislikes “Stigma” ‘s style (as in my case), I hope he will still
realize that at least appreciation is
possible if not genuine enjoyment. And so, although “Stigma” faces the stigma
of being a slower, dramatic song and thus is disliked by many fans because of
such, I argue the song is actually an excellent one. If we are critical and
listen beyond the song’s style and begin attempting to understand why certain compositions are in place,
we will find that “Stigma”—despite being “boring” or “too slow”—has many
creative, efficient, and stunning points.  

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 6/10
(6.00/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 6/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 7/10

I’ve been hiding it
I tell you something
just to leave it buried
Now I can’t endure it anymore
Why couldn’t I say it then?
I have been hurting anyway
Really I won’t be able to endure it

Now cry
It’s only that I’m very sorry towards you
Again, cry
Because I couldn’t protect you

Deeper, deeper, the wound just gets deeper,
like pieces of broken glass that I can’t reverse
Deeper, it’s just the heart that hurts every day
You who was punished in my stead
You who were only delicate and fragile

Stop crying, tell me something
Try talking to me who had no courage
Why did you do that to me then?
Sorry
Forget it
What right do I have,
to tell you to do this or that?

Deeper, deeper, the wound just gets deeper,
like pieces of broken glass that I can’t reverse
Deeper, it’s just the heart that hurts every day
You who was punished in my stead
You who were only delicate and fragile

I’m sorry, I’m sorry
I’m sorry, my brother
Even if I try to hide i or conceal it,
it can’t be erased
Are you calling me a sinner?
What more do I have to say?
I’m sorry, I’m sorry
I’m sorry, my sister
Even if I try to hide it or conceal it,
it can’t be erased
So cry
Please dry my eyes

That light, that light, please illuminate my sins
Where I can’t turn back, the red blood is flowing down
Deeper, I feel like dying every day
Please let me be punished
Please forgive me for my sins
I beg

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: For
a side note, while the given ratings appear to be straightforward, I do wish
for readers to know that the process to reach these ratings was far from such.
I devoted much time to understanding this song (and admittedly to push aside
much of my own personal biases). Also to note, this review will most likely be
shorter than intended due to how busy I currently am (and on top of that, I am
down with a cold).

Onto
the review, as the ratings unveil, “Stigma” is an incredibly well-rounded song
statistically. There are no immediate, impairing points and at worst the
sections—this category having the lowest ratings—is still decent. But, of
course, ratings are meaningless without explanations and more so with
considering how many find the song difficult to listen to, so let us proceed
with actual analysis.

With
the lyrics, this category should be the most straightforward to understand. However
that said, it is worth clarifying why the lyrics have scored well. As the
requester of this review mentions, the background to this song is complex: it
may be a part of BTS’ ongoing, fictional story or it might very much be
something personal from V or perhaps even both. While all these points are
interesting, these are not criterion I use for grading lyrics; instead, the lyrics
have earned their higher score by being distinctive in its details—word choice,
variety, imagery—and by differing with its plot. Overall, I will not spend too
much time in this song’s aspect as the more intriguing discussion is towards
the musical aspect.

With
that covered, let us focus on the vocals and instrumental. I bring up these two
aspects and not individually because both ultimately utilize similar strategies
and forms, but furthermore, both are quite misunderstood by many fans. After
all, the difficult aspect in the song may not be so much on how it is
structured with the sections but rather how it sounds within the sections—these sounds being the vocals and instrumental.

One
of the most impressive aspects to the two is how well they complement each
other so that their perceived downsides are covered. Before explaining that,
though, let us return once more to current perceptions on the vocals and
instrumental. On a more superficial hearing, the vocals are not impressive: the
vocals carry a sluggish, dragged pacing; many of the beltings are overly
emphasized and dramatized and thus, the extreme pitch shifts render
unappealingly—even if the singing itself is skillful; and lastly, the singing
simply comes off as monotonous considering there are few changes throughout. Similarly,
the instrumental can also be critiqued with those reasons: the instrumental is
too plain, dull, and provides nothing more than just background.

While
these are all viable points, I challenge fans to realize that these supposed
weaknesses are actually, realized or not, addressed in the vocals and
instrumental themselves. For example, the vocals’ slower pacing is paired with
a bass line that strengthens at moments where V provides beltings. The result,
then, is not vocals that are sluggish or an instrumental that remains dull; the
result is that both combined lead to a rhythmic, balanced flow that sounds
excellent. Another example is when considering the instrumental’s beats in
relation to V’s vocals at the first verse. Both in of themselves appear to be
incredibly vexing: the vocals are minimal in tune and the instrumental itself
provides nothing more than just the mere foundation of the song. However, when
considering how both sound when taken into account as a single unit, we realize
the vocals act as a pseudo-beat and equally the beats are akin to background
vocals. Lastly to note on a more technical side, another interesting composing
decision about the instrumental and vocals is that both physically complement
each other’s sounds. In clearer terms, I am referring to the actual pitch range
covered. During moments where the vocals are adopting a middle pitch, we
realize the instrumental “balances” out such by providing sounds slightly above
that pitch or slightly below it. Expectedly for moments when V is singing in a
higher pitch, the instrumental still “balances” out the overall sound by then
providing much lower pitches—this being the most explicit example as we can
hear the much deeper bass line coming in during these moments. Again, this is a
minor aspect but one I find quite creative and ultimately appealing especially
as “Stigma” ‘s style beckons careful, methodical listening.

Finally
discussing the sections, since we have already indirectly discussed some of
this through the discussion above regarding the vocals and instrumental working
together, let us instead turn to addressing why—despite the solid chemistry of
the vocals and instrumental—that the sections still all earn a six. Ultimately,
though the sections sound fantastic and that even the progression to the
entirety of “Stigma” is fluent and coherent, the main flaw remaining is that
the sections lack incredibly distinctive points. And of course, I do not
necessarily mean distinctive as in each section has to sound different from one another—as numerously said,
“Stigma” does follow a linear format—but in terms of what each section provides
for the song, there is nothing distinctive in this sense. For example, both the
introduction and conclusion suffice in their roles, but in doing so neither is
that stunning. Even in, for example, the choruses where the vocals
are—especially in the song’s context—diverse and the instrumental is impressive
with complementing such along with meshing the bass with the beats, the
choruses are not composed to the point that their very composition consists of
striking ideas and techniques. Now this is not to say the sections are bad at
all; all the sections hold a decent score, but overall, the structure to the
song individually and in whole merely provide the foundation to the song versus
being the aspects that carry forth the song.

All
in all, “Stigma” is definitely an above average song if we are able to pay
attention to how the vocals and instrumental work. Stylistically, I do agree
with many that the song is difficult to listen to and to even enjoy, but given
the nature of it, I do urge fans to find enjoyment from it through analyzing it versus just listening to
it. Unlike the typical pop song that is fun and easy to listen to due to being
able to predict its flow or simply how upbeat and tuneful it is, “Stigma” is a
song that requires one to actually pay attention to what is occurring with its
sections, vocals, instrumental, and so forth. Once a listener pays close attention,
most likely she will find it to be quite impressive in terms of the song’s
inner workings—and if not that, at least in his attempt I hope that the song
becomes worthwhile.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, huge apologies for the delay and for poorly writing the review.
I feel that I have failed to truly bring insight as to why “Stigma” is a
fascinating and solid song, but I hope in the end that the review is
interesting and gives some ideas as to what one could look for when listening
to a difficult yet charming song. In terms of the next review, look forward to
another requested review. And though this sounds silly, I will have to end this
review here as I do have class quite soon—perhaps “writing-on-the-go” is not
the most optimal idea, after all. Look forward to Uhm Junghwa’s “Dreamer” and
until then, “I’m very sorry towards you” for not being as diligent, but I will
do my best to catch up on reviews. 

For a change, review or criciticize lead singers of girl groups like Solji of EXID, Minah of Girls Day, Hyorin of Sistar, Gayoung of Stellar, Uji of Bestie and others.

Hello. Before addressing this very interesting proposal, I do want to update readers that I am doing well and that reviews are coming although slowly. I happen to be quite busy with university, hence the current delays. Thankfully, for tomorrow I have set aside around four hours to focus on finishing two requested reviews. (And to those requesters, I greatly apologize for this delay.)

As for this proposed reviewing idea, this would definitely be a fun task. Pondering over this, it definitely is possible that I “review” a specific idol for their vocals, but there are many reasons for why I hesitate to do such. For one–and by far the biggest reason–while the vocals in a song are definitely important (for my reviews, that is) and are an aspect I greatly focus on, to write a review that purely focuses on such and thus goes into much depth would be impossible for me to do. Or at least, if I were to do a genuinely decent job. To critique and analyze purely vocals would mean I would have to become extremely knowledgeable about singing in of itself. As readers can tell from a majority if not all my reviews, when I discuss the vocals in a song it is exactly that: in a song. I critique the singing and rapping in the context of the song itself. To instead critique vocals in its own individual context would be vastly different and admittedly is an area I still need learning and experience in. What constitutes “good singing” versus “good singing in this particular song” are different, after all.

On that note, we also run into the issue of how reviewing a certain idol’s singing is heavily based on the songs they have been given to sing in the first place. For example–and apologies if I somehow upset fans–let us consider TWICE’s main vocalist, Jihyo. If I were to “review” her singing, from my current knowledge of songs she has sung before, it would be relatively neutral if not somewhat negative. Now if I were to review, say, Ailee, her review would be full of excessive praises. Although this is a poor example given that Ailee genuinely is a very solid vocalist and by far above many other idols (or at least from what we can tell), the main point is this: many of Ailee’s songs have been composed as either ballads–a genre that is incredibly vocal-orientated–or as songs that contain strenuous vocals. In Jihyo’s case, many of TWICE’s songs are minimally strenuous with vocals and for the most part are not vocally-orientated at all. 

Now we come to the question I throw at those who blindly bash artists’ singing: if Ailee were to sing “Cheer Up” by TWICE, would she be the Queen Vocalist Ailee as we know it? Less critical people would easily scream, “Yes!” but this is where I disagree: Ailee–despite her amazing skills–would actually sound mediocre because that is how “Cheer Up” is composed to sound with the vocals. “Cheer Up” is not intended to have amazing note holds, vocal beltings, vocal layering, and so on. The vocals in that song have been purposefully composed to be merely catchy–no amount of singing skills would “fix” the issues we see in the composition. And yes, we could play the circling game of claiming the composition to “Cheer Up” is weak (if TWICE fans are upset at me saying such, please do send in a request for the song so I can respectfully and critically explain why I believe that song is poorly composed) because TWICE are incapable of more strenuous songs, but this is besides the point and I have already addressed this “circling debate” in the ladies’ reviews. (In short, we do not know the true answer until we actually hear TWICE’s vocals at their true capacity, and of which would have to be elicited from a song that requires complex vocals.) 

In other words, the message I am trying to get across is that an idol’s vocals is very much dictated by what she sings; if an idol is only given mediocre pop songs then he will seemingly sound like a weaker singer, but on the other hand, if he is given amazingly composed ballads, we can expect his vocals to sound more alluring. Perhaps a genuine example of what I am discussing is Hyorin’s “Paradise.” Readers should check the review to see what I mean, but in that review if I recall correctly, I gave a lower vocal rating despite Hyorin in general proving to be a stellar vocalist. It is this risk that makes me hesitate to firmly review idols’ singing.

Onto this proposal itself now, I will give a clear answer: I doubt I will “review” idols’ singing due to what is mentioned above. However, I love this proposal’s idea and thus will easily accept it but with a twist: rather than reviewing an idol’s singing–an implication that I will be critiquing their vocals and skills in of themselves and assigning a position on their skills–I would be open to merely analyzing and discussing an idol’s singing as seen in their song releases. Though it seems minor, I argue it is incredibly important (in this case) to maintain these distinctions. I can only truly review and analyze if within the context of a song–and rightfully so as discussed above with not every idol having the chance to show off her/his best vocals–and I would only be discussing their vocals versus having to leave a “rating” or a position if it were a review.  

Overall, thank you so much for this idea and thank you for truly igniting my passion (as we can see by how much I have to say over a seemingly small topic). In summary, I will definitely adopt your idea and give it a try, but I will modify it in a way so that it works with my inexperience of analyzing purely vocals, and so that it acknowledges how idols’ perceived singing abilities are oftentimes tied to their songs. Nevertheless, thank you so much for this idea; it truly is one I never thought of but it is one that would definitely provide a lot of variety and even insight into K-Pop beyond its superficial layer. After I finish up current requested reviews (and a few regular reviews), look forward to these bonus vocal analyses write-ups to occur. 

Review Uhm Jung Hwa – Dreamer, please. I know you will love it.

Hello. I will gladly review this song. Thank you for sending this in–in fact, it is a perfect timing as I planned to review one of her songs but did not know which one. I leaned towards “Watch Me Move” but I will now review “Dreamer” instead.

That said, I will leave an alert of how there is one request (potentially even two) ahead of this one and thus, to be fair, I have to finish the other requests first. As a result, it might take a little longer for this review to come out but indeed it will come out. Apologies for the delay. Look forward to it to come in perhaps a week, and thank you once again for sending this in. I highly appreciate it.

Thank you for taking my request! From what I gather, people don’t seem to find Stigma particularly catchy or fun to listen to, as compared to the other tracks. However, they adore Taehyung’s vocals which sound pretty in the song. Also, there’s a lot of confusion about the lyrics, especially because Taehyung was involved in its making. BTS’s leader also said that there was a background behind the lyrics. People don’t know if it is personal or if it continues from a storyline from previous MVs.

Hello. First of all, you’re welcome but as I like to say to readers, thank you for sending in the request. Requests, realized or not, provide a lot for the blog: it gives the blog a guidance of which songs to review, but most importantly, requests allow me to review songs that are most relevant to readers.

Regarding “Stigma,” I am currently reviewing it and plan to finish it in a few more days. As for your comments of how the song is “difficult” to listen to, I do agree with that: it is definitely a song that is not upbeat and catchy. However, even so, it takes more than style to dictate whether a song is good or not. For where I currently stand about the song, while it might be best to wait until I am truly done with the review, I find that I am not in favor of it for specific reasons. More to be discussed in the review itself.

Edit: I am even more excited to finish the review. With taking time to actually listen to it, I have come to realize how impressive the song actually is. Yes, it is “difficult” to listen to but indeed, if one “actively listens” it is very well composed. Definitely look forward to this review and I hope the review brings the song justice.

In terms of the lyrics, I have actually still to give a firm rating. However, that said, it most likely will score well in this regard. To clarify, though, no matter the background to the lyrics–whether it is personal or for continuing BTS’ storyline as you mention–I grade lyrics on a criteria that excludes those points and instead focus on details, development, variety, and the like. Nevertheless, thank you for sharing the context of the lyrics and equally for sharing more about the song itself and how many fans currently think of it. It will all definitely be helpful in the writing process of the review, so thank you very much. Look forward for the review to come out in a few days. As I do head back to university I will be busy, but I will do my best to finish the review soon. 

Hello! I want to thank you on reviewing ‘Highlight,’ though I was not expecting you to do so. I have to say that it was an interesting piece. Though I personally enjoyed the track, it is fascinating to see you highlight (pun intended) parts that unfortunately dragged the song down. On another note, I would like to recommend another song — DAY6’s ‘I Wait.’ Many people have been complimenting this track for its JRock qualities, prevalent in the chorus. I hope you would enjoy it as much as I do. -T

Hello. You’re welcome for the review, but I believe the real “thank you” is for you as you recommended the song in the first place. If not for doing so, “Highlight” would most likely not have been reviewed at all. 

Regarding DAY6′s “I Wait,” I will certainly give it a listening. Although I have never heard J-Rock (Japanese Rock)–let alone Japanese music in general–I am familiar with groups of CNBlue and F.T. Island, both groups being that of Korean Rock. As such, I am definitely curious as to how “I Wait” will sound and even whether I can truly give it an appropriate and thorough analysis. While I have reviewed F.T. Island before, I am not too experienced with listening to (Korean) rock and therefore most likely fail to understand the intricacies involved in composing and producing rock music. Nevertheless, I am definitely open to listening to other genres than pop, and of course, DAY6 is still within the overarching “pop” genre as there are genres of “pop rock” and such. But let us not get too distracted on discussing about genres and sub-genres.

Overall, if I manage to analyze “I Wait” and thus find that the song has interesting points to discuss, a review can definitely be expected. Thank you so much for sharing this, and realize that other readers might be equally grateful as someone else might have been curious on my take to this song. (And for a note, if I do decide to review this, given that other requests have been received, the review on “I Wait” might come out later than desired. Apologies for such but if I do review it, I will make sure to finish it as timely as possible.)

SHINee – “1 of 1″ Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Live
Performance)

SHINee – 1 of 1

Reviewed
on January 13, 2017

For
where I wish to take this review, I plan to extend “1 of 1” ‘s prior
conversations: I agree with many that “1 of 1” is an excellent song, but I
disagree with those who claim such because the song is merely reminiscent of
“old K-Pop.” Instead, I hold that “1 of 1” is a solidly composed and executed
song that gains a lot of appeal due to how well the vocals and instrumental
synergize.

Personal Message:
Given that this review has been
continually delayed, I have decided it is time to officially finish it. As I
have yet to review SHINee, though, this review will still work out as I am
trying my best to introduce artists that have yet to appear on the blog. Also,
I do have some technical updates regarding the blog that I will address here
and will do so now.

The first update is that this blog
is now “encrypted.” What does this mean for readers? Nothing necessarily, but
in short it simply means the blog is “safer” with readers’ information (not that
I actually collect readers’ information minus view counts) as it is now a
“https” versus just “http.” In truth I am not too knowledgeable with this realm
of technology and cannot explain beyond just this, but readers should
definitely feel at ease browsing this blog in regards to information safety.

Secondly, while there might have
been a few advertisements on the blog, I wish to clarify that they are not from
me; the ads placed—which are now removed—are due to Tumblr and I was curious as
to how their ads worked and thus enabled them for a bit. In the far future and
if readers are not bothered, if Tumblr allows this blog to receive
monetization, I do plan on having non-intrusive ads stay. That said, monetization
is not to serve as motivation nor to turn this blog into a source of money;
monetization—if, again, it occurs at all—is merely a bonus and would
essentially only be enough for me to get, say, a cup of coffee every month. Because
I value readers’ genuine interest in my reviews and that I sincerely write
reviews due to my passion for pop music (and chances to discuss ethics and
social topics), if monetization ads in the far future do end up ruining
readers’ reading experience, I will absolutely remove them from the blog. But,
nothing will likely come anytime soon so readers should not be too concerned,
and personally, I am very much reluctant to add monetization due to potential conflicts
with readers’ reading experiences and perhaps even myself as my biggest fear is
that I would end up writing for money and not for love of music.

Onto the review itself now, although
“1 of 1” is a song that was released many months ago—specifically, nearly four
months ago—I return to the song as it has many intriguing points to discuss. Many
fans praised the song for being able to capture an “old K-Pop” vibe, and while
I cannot confirm that, I understand where those fans are coming from and I
would equally agree. Of course, however, style does not dictate a song’s
individual quality and thus for our purposes, whether “1 of 1” accurately
captures that “old K-Pop” style is irrelevant. I will discuss this further in
the review. For where I wish to take this review, I plan to extend “1 of 1” ‘s
prior conversations: I agree with many that “1 of 1” is an excellent song, but
I disagree with those who claim such because the song is merely reminiscent of
“old K-Pop.” Instead, I hold that “1 of 1” is a solidly composed and executed
song that gains a lot of appeal due to how well the vocals and instrumental
synergize.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 6/10
(6.29/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Rap: 6/10

6.     Bridge: 4/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Woo

Just like how each minute and
each second are different
Day by day, you become new
You’re the first of the first
That means you’re the only one

Your voice that calls out to me
lightly comes and slips into my ear
Your touch that I can feel in my hands
brings me to the dazzling world that
I’ve never been in before

You’re 1 of 1, girl
Only one
You are my answer without a doubt
You’re 1 of 1, girl
It’s perfect
You’re already incomparable
You’re the only meaning of my world

A person like you has a name of “Only One”
As if you’ve put on the perfect color, yeah
Like a sweet song that passes my ear
You perfectly match, I keep singing about you

Like the feeling I felt for the first time,
always replay
(Replay)
Your love newly shines
Once again, I’m falling, falling for you
(Come here)
I could never get sick of saying, “I love you”
A sweet kiss
Footsteps that only match each other
Without any warning, our eyes met
Why are you so beautiful?
(Let’s go)
You’re my baby

You’re 1 of 1, girl
Only one
You are my answer without a doubt
You’re 1 of 1, girl
It’s perfect
You’re already incomparable
You’re the only meaning of my world

1 of 1, girl
Only one
You fill me up without any empty spots
You’re 1 of 1, girl
It’s perfect
You’re irreplaceable
You’re the only meaning of my world

I’m so deeply into you,
I’m changing
When my heart that is lit up
with your light rises up
I will shine on you

You’re 1 of 1, girl
Only one
You are my answer without a doubt
You’re 1 of 1, girl
It’s perfect
You’re already incomparable
You’re the only meaning of my world

1 of 1, girl
Only one
You fill me up without any empty spots
You’re 1 of 1, girl
It’s perfect
You’re irreplaceable
You’re the only meaning of my world

You’re 1 of 1, girl
You’re 1 of 1, girl
You are my answer without a doubt
You’re 1 of 1, girl
(1 of 1, girl, 1 of 1)
You can’t be compared with anyone else
One and only
I only want you

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
analyzing and moreover challenging the current perception of the song, first I
wish to take some time to thoroughly explain what the current perception to “1
of 1” is at all. In short, the perception
I refer to is that “1 of 1” is a good song mainly on the basis that it resembles older K-Pop songs. Even more
precisely if we critically deconstruct even that summary, we would come to a
“debate” I addressed before on the blog: whether a song’s style can serve as a factor to a song’s quality (whether the song is “good” or “bad,” etc.). Although I
already offered my answer in this review—that style cannot be a factor to
critique—and have even explained such in reviews of Red
Velvet’s “Russian Roulette”
and even Crayon
Pop’s “Doo Doom Chit,”
I still find this provoking
question relevant. Here, though, rather than explaining the “debate” once again
(I only quote it as I find it more of a thoughtful discussion as it is less about
convincing people than and more about having that complex, deeper engagement),
let us instead understand why many rightfully and reasonably find that style is
a factor worth critiquing.  

In
“1 of 1,” the song does very much emulate older pop music—and indeed, there are
strengths from doing so. With the vocals and instrumental, the pacing of both
are rather intriguing: both are nearly identical, and moreover, both focus more
on flow than necessarily hitting high notes and intense moments—all these
traits being that of older pop music. The benefit out of this, though, is that
it creates what I later wish to focus on: solid cohesion and synergy throughout
the song. Everything fits together, and that is definitely a desirable trait in
any song. Moreover, with how the sections function with choruses being numerous
due to following an older pop style—as noticed by six choruses in the song—and, more importantly, that the choruses
are based not on necessarily being climactic but instead creating a smooth,
consistent progression in the song and indeed, we come to understand why many
desire to praise the style of a song. In “1 of 1,” it truly would be erroneous
to claim that the song’s style does not influence the song’s quality.

However,
I wish to challenge that idea not by disproving it; rather, I wish to challenge
this stance by extending it. Why is it that a song’s style influences
its overall quality? Perhaps it is not due to “style”—something that can be
overly generalizing to songs and vulnerable to pure musical biases—but instead
if we inspect this concept more closely, we find that it might be the
composition in specific that is worth praising. In other words, while style can
sway whether one prefers a song, we
have to understand that each song—even within the same style or genre—utilizes
their own specific composition techniques. In “1 of 1,” while its style
contributes to specific compositions, it ultimately is still how those specific
decisions are made. After all, if style was truly important, I would not have
graded UP10TION’s
“White Night”
as highly as I did. Let us, then, take
a look at some interesting and impressive points in “1 of 1” and see how the
song is good not just due to it “sounding like older K-Pop.”  

As
already mentioned, the cohesion and synergy from the vocals and instrumental
are the key strengths to the song. Besides sonically sounding well and aiding
in the song’s progression, it is this formula—if we can call it such—that each
section builds upon. For example, the choruses use the vocal and instrumental
pairing to create its iconic sound: a consistent instrumental with vocals that
become dynamic by switching between singular and unison singing—all while
retaining the pacing set forth earlier by the two aspects. The result from such
are choruses that are diverse in sound yet suitable in an overall hearing. Even
the rapping that occurs towards the middle of the song follows suit: the rap,
while sonically mundane at times, still holds decently due to the vocals
matching with the instrumental and thus granting an organized flow to the rap.

For
another point worth noting, because the vocals and instrumental are incredibly
synergized, “1 of 1” is the exclusion to many other songs: sounding sonically fantastic
without being strenuous. Oftentimes “solid” vocals are associated with powerful
note holds and frequent, difficult vocal beltings, and likewise a “solid”
instrumental is assumed to be complex. “1 of 1,” though, disproves both: due to
the synergy involved, the sound created from such is already appealing—even if,
overall, neither vocals nor instrumental are individually strong. It is
cohesion that provides the appeal. Tightness and being able to hear the clear
connections between each section, and furthermore, to be able to hear how both
instrumental and vocals play off one another’s sound is what comes as the sonic
appeal.

Finally
for the last praise and on a similar note of the last paragraph, it is that
very cohesion in sound that strengthens the sections. With being connected
seamlessly and having each part build off one another—such as the verse
becoming more intense for the pre-choruses of which then climaxes at the
choruses not through major vocal beltings but through alternating of singing
styles—and “1 of 1” truly stands out as an incredibly organized song. And
indeed, organization plays a large role in songs, and to reference the review
of UP10TION’s “White Night,” it is why I feared “White Night” would be a weaker
song as it appeared to be overly powerful to channel appropriately. But on
topic, this is why the bridge scores at a four: it is the only section to break
away from the smooth, cohesive flow established as it adopts a passive form
that is far too slow. And of course, there is one additional issue: the lyrics
tend to be repetitive—though this might be due to the choruses occurring six
times. But to be fair and consistent across reviews, the lyrics are penalized
for such.

Overall,
“1 of 1” is definitely a strong song if ignoring the somewhat tedious lyrics. Its
strength is in the synergized vocals and instrumental, of which then grant the
song much cohesion. And as I have argued, it is more than just “1 of 1”
sounding like older pop that makes it a stronger song; it is that the
composition involved—in this case, being able to compose the vocals and
instrumental in their specific manners—that brings the song’s delightfulness. Most
impressive to me about “1 of 1” is once again how sonically and structurally
solid it is despite never resorting to strenuous techniques—powerful note
holds, complex instrumental, and so forth. Instead, organization is what is
most valuable.

_______________________________________________________

One
more review should be coming out with this review: AOA’s “Excuse Me.” After I
finish that review, I will then focus on the many requests I received. For this
review, I do feel that I did a poor job of actually analyzing more closely
certain details—for example I never did actually discuss a section in of itself
and how all its intricacies worked to its benefits. But, given that the main
argument I had for “1 of 1” is not tied to its fine details, I hope it is
understandable on why I did not do so. As said, I wish to make reviews focus
more on the main point I wish to argue and not on merely putting songs through
an input-output machine. In cases where I need to focus on fine details—such as
in one upcoming request—I will definitely do so, but unless if it is essential
I find it more convenient to spare readers that. After all, a review could
easily become too lengthy if I did that level of analysis.

Thank
you to readers for being patient and understanding, and “You are my answer
without a doubt”—though this makes no sense at all. Just look forward to AOA’s
“Excuse Me,” though I may actually go ahead and temporarily skip it and instead
begin working on the three requests I have received. 

GFriend – “Europe That GFriend Loves” Show Review

Sky Travel – Episode 1 Part 1 (Eng. Subtitled)

GFriend
Europe That GFriend Loves

Reviewed on January 13, 2017

Finally
focusing on the review itself, although many fans (and even myself) found Sky
Travel’s reality show of GFriend to be delightful on a more superficial level,
I argue that if we approach the show with a more critical mind, we would find a
less pleasing reality: the footages are great, but Sky Travel’s own editing is
rather questionable.

Personal
Message:
Edit: This review was meant to be
posted on January 10, but this is irrelevant to the review itself though it applies to the Personal Message. With some days off to reflect over what I wrote in the Personal Message, while I was harsher than intended during my time of writing–due to being in an emotional state–I have decided to still keep it as I find it important to be open and truthful to readers.

If I am on task, there should be at
least three reviews being posted today—this included and the only “bonus.” 

Admittedly to share (and readers interested in just the review should skip ahead), I am writing this bonus review first and not after the two
song reviews as I currently am not in the best state of mind; while nothing
drastic occurred per se minus a very worthless argument, as I do believe in
being honest and to reveal to readers I am definitely far from “perfect” or
“good,” I have a rather poor relationship with my father. I bring this up as, due
to a conflict we had—this being far from “uncommon” as we are bound to clash to
some degree, I am simply a bit angry and thus am not thinking nor even acting
as maturely as I should. Overall, my main message is that since my writing
needs a “break,” I decided to write a bonus review (as I am too inexperienced
to give a thorough, just review of shows) in the meantime.

I only bring up this very
vulnerable, personal information because I do wish for readers to understand me
as any normal human being. I am not “morally superior” or “perfect” at all
contrary to how I unintentionally might make myself sound with reviews. For
example, despite my own teachings of being mature and respectful to everyone, I
very much myself increased my speaking volume and conducted myself in a more
aggressive manner versus being calm and attempting to “talk it out”—even if he has
never done such in the time I have known him. Instead, I succumbed to his
inferior, barbaric level and to that I am very disappointed in myself and I
know I could have and should have
acted better and hope to do so in the future. (And on a side note, I do wonder
if this very intimate relationship being ruined is why I tend to struggle with
having close male friends, and more so with being close to my mother. Barring
my brother, who I sincerely love and am incredibly close with, I find it
difficult to trust and become emotionally close to males. Overall, as some readers
might better understand, my situation relates to Infinite’s Hoya’s own
relationship struggle with his father: we still do care for one another, but
our relationship is awkward and lacks closeness.)

But, for what truly matters and for
what I wish to share and teach from this digression, what matters in the end is
not endlessly holding grudges against people—a rather emotionally unhealthy
route; what matters most is to accept and understand one’s emotions, but to
then take control of those very emotions in a healthy and empowering manner. I
could let this and the past arguments ruin my day or more dramatically my
entire life with wishing for the experience of a true father who did more than
provide me with money, but I refuse to do that. (And on the topic of money, perhaps
crudely said, I still have respect and love to him due to money being provided
from his hard work—and indeed, in the far future, I will pay back money due to
filial duties even if my emotional needs were never met). I refuse to let one
individual have that type of negative influence in my life—this being what I
wish to remind readers (and perhaps even future students). Yes, I understand
where he comes from and why he behaves poorly—his own neglected childhood life
from both parents—but unlike him and
especially with the capacity to critically think, I know I can ethically do
better: instead of spreading negativity, I know I have a responsibility to
spread joy, optimism, and most importantly, to teach others to critically
think. (And on a side note, this is
why teachers mattered in my life; teachers have been the ones who have made me
realize I am not stupid and worthless, and it is teachers who have truly emotionally
and intellectually matured me.)

Pushing aside the more solemn
digression and admittedly a chance for me to immaturely vent and open up more
about myself, let us return to a more cheerful tone: reviewing Europe That GFriend Loves. After finally
finishing the series, I knew I had to write a review for it—even if I have
excessively reviewed shows with GFriend. To explain once again why this is the
case, I have recently been predominantly watching shows with the ladies and
thus, it is only natural that out of every show I could possibly review,
GFriend is automatically the artist involved. Of course, though, given that
show reviews are mere bonuses and elicit minimal discussion compared to song
reviews, I hope it is not an issue with readers that as of the late all show
reviews involve GFriend.

Addressing the link, unlike the
usual protocol of using a YouTube video—and more specifically, a YouTube
playlist of the series—I am instead using the first part to episode one on V
App. Many readers should be familiar with V App, but for those who are not, it
is a website that many idols use for live broadcasts or for uploading dance
practices. Since I cannot create a playlist on the site, I am only linking the
first episode but that said, all of
the remaining episodes can be found on GFriend’s V App page. If that is not
already delightful enough, indeed all of the episodes are English subtitled.
Therefore, readers should all be able to enjoy the show without language barriers
(though, as in the cases of all translations, there are many
lost-in-translations compared to if, say, a fan-subbing team did the subtitles
themselves and were able to explain the translations).

Finally focusing on the review
itself, although many fans (and even myself) found Sky Travel’s reality show of
GFriend to be delightful on a more superficial level, I argue that if we
approach the show with a more critical mind, we would find a less pleasing
reality: the footages are great, but Sky Travel’s own editing is rather
questionable. _______________________________________________________

Plot
Summary:
Before explaining
my prior point, though, let us first understand what Sky Travel’s Europe That GFriend Loves is even about.

First of all, the entirety of
GFriend was to attend the show, but sadly, due to Umji having an ankle injury
(if correct), she remained at home in South Korea while the rest of the members
went to Europe. There, the remaining five ladies visit three countries for
three days (if accurate): Slovenia, Hungary, and Austria. More specifically,
however, the five members split up into three groups that then visited their
own particular country: Yuju and Eunha visiting Austria; SinB and Yerin
visiting Slovenia; and Sowon visiting Hungary—barring one day where she went
with Yuju and Eunha to Austria. (And as mentioned, she is alone due to the fact
that her would-be partner Umji was injured).

In terms of the events that occur,
while I obviously will not list out everything that happened, the following is
a general outline of GFriend’s activities: eating, sightseeing, visiting
landmarks, attending museums and traditional activities, struggling with
transportation, and so on. Ultimately, Europe
That GFriend Loves
directly follows, if readers have watched other
traveling shows before, the very genre of “travel reality”—there is nothing new
in particular to the show when compared to this genre’s concept.  

_______________________________________________________

Overall
Value: 5/10
(5.0/10
raw score) – “Average”

– Entertainment Value: 7/10

– Structural Value: 3/10

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Onto the review itself, I wish to
return to what I stated earlier and to thoroughly explain what I mean. In terms
of the show’s strength, what occurs
in the show—the footage, essentially—is very much appealing for a variety of
viewers. For example, from the perspective of GFriend’s fans, fans are able to
watch the group’s usual antics. From playfully flirting with each other—or
perhaps that might just be Yerin being “greasy” towards SinB (I mean this in a
joking, friendly manner of course)—to learning more about the ladies’ dorm life
and personalities, fans of GFriend will very much enjoy the show for it simply
sharing more about our beloved members.

That said, for viewers who may not
necessarily be fans or are fans who still equally care about the traveling
aspect (such as in my case), the show is still a hit. While shows at most give
a vicarious experience and will never replace genuine and actual traveling, Europe That GFriend Loves still manages
to capture the experience well. For example, the show’s narration, of which is done
by Umji, added historical context for every important figure or location. Furthermore,
while GFriend members are the main focus, the show still brings attention to
the surrounding and had many wonderful shots of purely locations and landmarks.
Add on the final part of how the seen activities varied—traditional dances,
eating, how GFriend prepared for the trip, and so on—and indeed we come to find
that the raw footage to the traveling show is all appealing.

Ignoring those strengths, however,
for where Sky Travel falters, on a more critical level their editing of the
footages is not impressive. Rather than viewers just purely joining the ladies,
for a large portion of time viewers have to equally endure repetitive, cliché
messages such as—to create an example that encapsulates my point—captions that
read: “And so Sowon becomes independent…learning to enjoy traveling
alone…eating alone…walking alone…but in heart she is with all her members…” Even
the narration—which, of course, is not Umji’s fault—contributes to the overly
cliché messages.

Understandably, readers might be
skeptical about me bringing up this point: Why can’t I just ignore these
moments? They seem meaningless to pay so much attention to. I only bring it up
because I argue it does impact
viewers’ enjoyment of the show. With watching the show, it is reasonable to
expect that the large majority of it consists of GFriend and their traveling.
Post-interviews of course are fine—and those in specific were well implemented
throughout—but when the transitions per “traveling pair” (such as switching
from Yuju and Eunha to Sowon) consists of a minute of replaying the same, prior
footages with the addition of cliché messages and bright, glowing filters, it
does become agitating by the sixth episode. This is not to necessarily bash
those messages; even if cliché, there were some important messages such as how
traveling can expand one’s view of the world and so forth. The issue is how Sky Travel did such: at the expense
of viewers. If the time spent on the messages were shorter, or if the footages
used there were not merely replaying moments already watched, these parts would
have served as great transitions. But, unfortunately, I find that these points
are excessive.

Overall, Europe That GFriend Loves rates as average and to that I find that
I agree. Even if GFriend is entertaining as they always are and that the events
the ladies had in Europe were great, it is Sky Travel’s editing that truly
reduces down a lot of appeal. Perhaps I am overly harsh, but I find that it is
best for travel shows—or for that matter, even reality shows (and I refer to
Korean reality shows as I recently discovered this genre significantly varies per culture)—to let the footage speak for
itself: rather than Sky Travel literally writing how Sowon learned to have fun
alone or that SinB and Yerin gained new insight due to experiencing another
culture, I find it would have been more impactful to have the footages show that the members grew as a result.
And besides, that is why the post-travel interviews were added: to add the
explicit component of how the members grew. Flowery, cliché captions and
narration are simply unnecessary.

Again, it should be noted this
review is far from professional and is definitely a biased take as I do not
understand the artistic and technical work behind producing shows and that I
feel much more comfortable in the realm of music, but I do hope the review
provides some insight as to why I did not enjoy the show as much as I could
have. For the momentous question of whether I recommend watching the show or
not, my answer is simple: for GFriend fans, this show is definitely worth
watching. However, for those who are watching it because they are curious about
certain European countries or wish to have a travel-orientated show, I do not
recommend the show in these cases.

_______________________________________________________

This review will be one out of three
that are posted today. I have many requests to do, but before reaching those
review requests I plan to finish reviews I am almost finished with. As such,
look forward to song reviews and I hope that this review provides some variety
to the blog. Look for SHINee’s “1 of 1” and AOA’s “Excuse Me” as, if I am
diligent, both will be posted along with this current one.