BTS – “Dead Leaves” Review

(Audio—unofficial
upload)

BTS – Dead Leaves

Reviewed
on February 27, 2016

Nevertheless,
although many fans might desire to praise and cherish the song on the basis of
it being unique—which, again, I do not disagree with nor do I find these
“unworthy” qualities as it is
important to have distinguishable songs from the hundreds of thousands (Korean)
pop songs—I disagree with praising the song in this way. In fact, I struggle to
praise the quality of the song in general; certainly the song is by no  means utterly weak, but I will argue that if
we look beyond uniqueness we will find that “Dead Leaves” is a rather plain,
negligible song.

Personal Message:
First of all, thank you so much to
the requester of this review for sending this in. It has been multiple weeks
since I actually received the request, so my sincere apologies for this delay.
Although the following is no way to excuse myself, I hope to clarify the delay
is because I have been quite busy and not neglecting the request. For other
news, if I am on track I hope to equally post another review request that also
involves BTS. Afterwards, I plan to wrap up the shorter month of February with
TWICE’s “Knock Knock”—a song that I am finding as my current favorite song of
all-time and one that is excellently efficient and accommodating in its
composition for TWICE’s weaker vocals. But we will save that discussion for
when it is appropriate.

To address this current review’s
link, I am using an unofficial YouTube upload. For basically what this means,
for future readers reading this three years from now—which, now thinking of
such, is definitely a bizarre yet intriguing thought—the link might no longer
work because of copyright issues or because the uploader removed her/his video.
As such, should this be the case—whether three years from now or somehow in a
few months—then manually searching for the song will have to be done.

Addressing one last technical point,
as mentioned earlier, due to also wanting to finish another request, this
review will perhaps be shorter than usual and I might opt to skip over some
details. (A prime example would be not discussing why I rated the lyrics as is—though
this will not be the case for this particular review.) Moreover, I also plan to
focus on key concepts rather than all of the minute details. I hope this all
works out so that the review is brisk yet thought-provoking to read, and so
that I can also review “Spring Day” in time.

Finally discussing the song itself,
“Dead Leaves” is—in terms of its breakdown—incredibly different from a majority
of other songs reviewed before. The song itself is not necessarily the
strongest I have heard nor is its structural composition any better. However,
in terms of its lyrics and its flow, both of these aspects are definitely
unique compared to many other pop songs—and with the lyrics specifically, it
scores incredibly well. Nevertheless, although many fans might desire to praise
and cherish the song on the basis of it being unique—which, again, I do not
disagree with nor do I find these “unworthy” qualities as it is important to have distinguishable
songs from the hundreds of thousands (Korean) pop songs—I disagree with
praising the song in this way. In fact, I struggle to praise the quality of the
song in general; certainly the song is by no
means utterly weak, but I will argue that if we look beyond uniqueness
we will find that “Dead Leaves” is a rather plain, negligible song.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(5.75/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.83/10 raw score)

Introduction, Verse,
Rap, Chorus, Verse, Rap, Chorus, Bridge, Rap, Chorus, Conclusion

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Rap: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 3/10

5.     Bridge: 4/10

6.     Conclusion: 6/10


Instrumental: 4/10


Lyrics: 8/10

[Instrumental introduction]

Like those dead leaves there
that have fallen and are flying
My love is collapsing without strength
Your heart is only going further away
I can’t grab you
I can’t grab you any more, more, more
I can’t hold on longer, yeah

Over there,
the autumn leaves that look like they’re at stake
It seems like they’re looking at us
If our hands touch, even if it’s all at once
it only seems like it’s going to be crumbs
I just only looked with the winds of autumn
The speech and facial expressions that have gotten
colder all of a sudden
I can only see our relationship withering
Like the autumn sky, it’s empty between us
An ambiguous difference that is different from before
A night that’s much more quiet today
A single autumn leaf that’s attached to the branch
It’s breaking, I can see the thing called “the end”
The dead leaves that are becoming shriveled
The silence inside your aloof heart
Please don’t fall
Please don’t fall, the dead leaf that’s becoming crumbs

I want you who makes eye contact with me
I want you who wants me again
Please don’t fall
Please don’t collapse
Never never fall
Don’t go far far away
Baby you girl I can’t hold onto you
Baby you girl I can’t give up on you
Like the dead leaves that fell
This love, like the dead leaves
Never never fall
It’s withering

As if every autumn leaf has fallen
As if everything that seemed eternal
is going further away
You’re my fifth season
Because even if I try to see you, I can’t
Look, to me, you’re still green

Even if our hearts aren’t walking, it walks by itself
Our foolishness, like laundry, is being hung piece by piece
Only the bright memories are dirty
It falls on me
Even if I don’t shake my branch, it keeps falling
That’s right, in order to raise my love, it falls
Even if we’re close, my two eyes become further,
spreads further
Like this, being thrown out
Inside my memories, I become young again

Never never fall yeah
Never never fall yeah
I want you who makes eye contact with me
I want you who wants me again
Please don’t fall
Please don’t collapse
Never never fall
Don’t go far far away

Why, can I still not give up on you?
I hold onto the withered memories
Is it greed?
The lost seasons I try to restore,
I try to restore them

Blaze them brightly, flare
It was all pretty, wasn’t it?
Our pathroads
But it all withered
The dead leaves fall down like tears
The wind blows and everything drifts apart all day
The rain pours and shatters
Until the last leaf
You you you

I want you who makes eye contact with me
I want you who wants me again
Please don’t fall
Please don’t collapse
Never never fall
Don’t go far far away
Baby you girl I can’t hold onto you
Baby you girl I can’t give up on you
Like the dead leaves that fell
This love, like the dead leaves
Never never fall
It’s withering

Never never fall
Never never fall

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: To
begin this review, we first need to understand the song’s current strengths.
After all, it scores at a six which is quite decent despite my harsher,
critical remarks that “Dead Leaves” is supposedly a plain and forgetful song.

As
discussed earlier, the song’s uniqueness does help its ratings—and more
specifically, that uniqueness exists in the lyrics of which I consider an
appropriate category for a song to be judged in. For why the lyrics score
incredibly well—and readers should realize an eight for lyrics is incredibly
rare and only two other songs on this blog have earned such—the details are
phenomenal. Even if the plot itself is nothing too spectacular as it is a
romantic-related (or more accurately, a not-so-romantic one as it involves a
breakup) topic and thus, is far from unique, the details truly make the song
become a miniature story.

For
example, with the first rap, we come into details that are not repeated or are
cliché as oftentimes is the case with pop music. Unlike lyrics that follow
extreme simplicity such as “Our love is going away / My heart hurts every day”
(I made up these lines; if I end up quoting an actual song, it is by pure
coincidence), the first rap instead brings out an entirely fleshed scenario and
description of the protagonist’s feelings. This occurs at other moments in the
song, and even the choruses are still building off the main story versus spewing
lines that are not specifically rooted in an individual, creative plot. This
incredible level of details in the lyrics is why I have given it an eight. It
is like a story; and for me to be able to claim such—even if, yes, the story
itself is not necessarily amazing in of itself—the very fact that it comes off
as one versus “regular, generic pop lyrics” is praiseworthy.

Another
aspect that is the song’s strength—though it is one that is not quite scored
and thus unable to directly aid the song’s rating—is that the style involved is
different from many other pop songs. Although many might disagree, I believe it
is still important for songs—especially in pop as there are a plethora of songs
existing—to have a distinguishing, creative style that is heard in either
aurally or structurally (or even both). In “Dead Leaves,” what makes its style
unique is how it flows: the song focuses on slower build up that, once it
reaches its climax (the choruses—as is oftentimes the case), the release from
there is orientated towards slower, wave-like progression versus the expected
and typical style of merely streaming out the climax.

Let
us use some examples since what I am discussing is incredibly abstract. In BTS’
“I Need U,” we find that the chorus flows out rather fluently and directly: the
chorus occurs and it simply continues off the song. In fact, it is hardly
thought that a song’s climactic piece would run anything but as a fluent stream. However, in “Dead Leaves,” this is not the
case as the choruses is frequently chunked up and therefore carries subtle
pauses, and furthermore the choruses are quite lengthy and dragged on versus
occurring in a somewhat hastier fashion so that the song can easily “reset”
back to its build up form. (And for another random note, pop songs run in what
is called a “binary” form because of this very reason; there is oftentimes a
“cycle” of going from “A” to “B” and back to “A” and the cycle begins again—and
hence “binary” as there are two main portions. But this is getting far too
technical and further abstract and is definitely not a part of the discussion
for “Dead Leaves.”)

Returning
to the main reason for all this lengthy explanation, I mention this all to
explain that the song very much sounds unique. Seldom do pop songs follow this
type of flow and, with the “binary” form of pop music (which I attempted to
explain), it is definitely interesting to hear “Dead Leaves” have its own style
to the binary format.

All
that said, while creativity is welcomed and is arguably necessary for a
group/soloist to survive—and by “survive” I merely mean “stay relevant” because
I love being dramatic—in the K-Pop scene, this does not mean a song is
automatically good. In other words, just
because a song sounds different does not mean it is therefore a strong song; this
will ultimately be the driving idea behind this current review. If a listener
hears a very different song and then uses that as her claim for why the song is
good, it is an incredibly weak argument. Equally said, it is also a weak
argument to critique a song for “sounding generic” on the sole basis of that.
For example, in the past I have claimed some songs sounded awfully generic and
typical, but I then (or at least I hope) went on to explain why it sounds generic and why sounding
generic in that song’s particular case
is bad. If nothing else is gleaned from this review, I do hope readers
understand these crucial points: never discuss and critique music quality
purely on sounding “different” or “similar” to other songs. Instead—as I will
do with TWICE’s “Knock Knock,” a very
generic pop song—it is about looking at the composition and production involved
and then deciding whether a song is good or not (and of which there is no right
answer as music is all subjective).

With
all that in mind, let us now discuss what I do find weak in “Dead Leaves.” To
save time and to not bore readers with robotically breaking down each aspect to
the song, I wish to instead hone in on one section: the choruses. As much as I
admire the creativity involved in general but more specifically the choruses, I
find that the composition sacrificed efficiency and even quality just for “Dead
Leaves” to be deemed “creative” or “unique” within the context of its chorus
and overall flow. What remains most troubling is how excessively dragged the
choruses sound. For example, as already partially discussed above, the choruses
do not just run through and carry on the song; rather, the choruses contain
frequent pauses and, to describe its flow, it is akin to waves: pushing out
hard, receding a little, and then pushing out hard once again and repeating
this.

Now,
this composition decision is not just for the sake of creativity and I do wish
to clarify that. A musical benefit that comes from this approach is that the
vocals are granted additional chances to showcase minimal beltings—this being a
pleasing aspect to BTS’ vocals in this song. Nonetheless, this main benefit is still
questionable: doing such comes at the expense at making the vocals and
instrumental sound “stretched.” To explain what I mean, the choruses’ ending
time should be much shorter than they currently are. Especially with
considering the second half of the choruses, this portion of the choruses are
not necessary per se and I argue this additionally, length-dragging aspect only
creates a more rigid, awkward “recycling”—going back to the following verse’s
calmer state—when in many ways the song have done that transition without
needing the excessive dragging manner. And with this, besides structurally
lowering the choruses’ ratings, this section’s instrumental is also in of
itself poorly executed because it very much amplifies the problem and indeed, a
lowering instrumental rating can be quite detrimental.

Ultimately,
“Dead Leaves” does score decently but we have to be critical: is the decent
rating because in an aesthetical sense the song is solid—in other words,
gauging its lyrics and uniqueness—or is, despite the given rating, the song in
a musical sense is actually slightly weaker? Readers can tell, I personally
argue for the latter: “Dead Leaves” struggles with its composition and thus it
renders as a bit too stretched during its choruses. Again, I do wish to
highlight and praise the creativeness involved and for the risk taken with the song’s
composition, but with being a critical, active listener I cannot help but bring
up the song’s significant flaws.

But
of course, readers have to be remember this is all my opinions; I do not state these points to bash BTS or their song,
but I instead wish to begin a discussion that I hope fans and listeners can
build upon whether through disagreeing with me, agreeing with me, or a
combination of both. That is why music is reviewed: for the intellectual,
mature, and respectful discussions. No one reads music reviews because they
want a reviewer to form an opinion for them; after all, it only takes perhaps
seven playbacks of a song for one to get a firm grasp on what their take is. Indeed,
people read music reviews because they want to have various insights—perhaps even
insights that would completely conflict with what they think of a song. That is
the goal of my review, and I very much mention this as I understand there will
be fans who are upset at my words even if statistically the song manages to
score decently.

_______________________________________________________

I
feel incredibly guilty for this request being delayed for so long. Since it is
later at night that I am finishing this one, the request for BTS’ “Spring Day”
will instead come out tomorrow or in a few more days. I am getting slightly less
busy, but I do still have school tasks to handle and thus might be unexpectedly
busy. (Examples include group projects, essays, and preparing my third lesson
for seventh graders—the latter being something I am excited for.) But
admittedly I have been spending much time watching TWICE videos instead of
finishing up priorities, such as a theology essay, but that is beside the point—I
mean, “So what?” as Momo says. And “so what” if the ladies are all incredibly
gorgeous—physically and non-physically—and can still look flawless with minimal
makeup on while if I do the same I still look like I have not slept in weeks.

Jokes
and TWICE references aside, thank you to all for reading this review whether in
full or skimmed. Thank you so much to the requester once again for sending this
in and for being patient. “Spring Day” by BTS will be next for review, and
afterwards, I will finish up the month with TWICE’s “Knock Knock” and begin
March with another new review request. Make sure you “Don’t go far far away.”