HIGH4 – “Love Line” Review

(Music
Video)

HIGH4 – Love Line

Reviewed
on March 30, 2017

Focusing
now on “Love Line” in of itself, while many listeners and fans can very much
appreciate a calmer pop song and how soothing the song sounds, I argue we need
to be a bit more critical with actively listening to “Love Line.” Certainly the
song is not “bad” at all, but I would hesitate to claim there are a lot of
strong, enticing points as fans and some listeners claim. Thus, I will argue on
why I personally hear “Love Line” as an average song, and more importantly, I
wish to then discuss the actual implications of what “average” means for songs
and, of course, why “Love Line” is deemed as average even if it can be a very
soothing song.

Personal Message:
To already start off on a somewhat
random topic, after posting the bonus post of one of my English essays, I
realized how I oddly do write significantly better if writing casually versus
academically—and this says quite a lot considering my casual writing (such as
here with reviews) is already atrocious. But, my personal perception of this quality
disparity might be due to reasons that are not too concerning, examples
including: I have much more practice writing casually; I have much more
analytical ideas on the basis that I “own” these ideas versus needing sources
(and hence why I urge readers to never take my words “objectively” or “scientifically”
as these are my ideas that are
certainly not peer-reviewed and easily debunked; I write reviews for creating discussions versus necessarily
proving points); and simply put, I am able to be more conversational in casual
writing versus academic writing. After all, while I personally do encourage the
use of “I” in academic reviews, I know I certainly cannot go off on random
tangents that may still be quite relevant or have the ability to even add
horrendous, cheesy jokes.

For what this random writing
digression means to readers, I do encourage readers—especially those still
attending classes whether in high school or college (and younger and older; I
personally target the high school and college age for my reviews, but I am well
aware I have readers from an even wider range of ages and even readers from all
over the world)—to find a balance in their academic writings. As an upcoming
English teacher in the United States, I am very much understanding the
convoluted issues involved with writing and why many students dread it and even
how teaching writing without an open mind can lead to potentially excluding certain
students (such as with those who are English Language Learners/ELL), but I do
wonder if one way to alleviate these problems would be to incorporate students’
genuine voices (“casual” writing) into more professional (“academic”) writing. Furthermore,
I wonder if getting students to see value of writing skills beyond just
academic work would be beneficial—this perhaps being why I admittedly care a
lot more for my reviews than the plethora of English essays I have written for
professors. But, to answer these questions, this is why I am still attending
education and English classes and garnering more first-hand experiences with
teaching.

On topic and away from all these
English-writing-nerdiness discussions, I do want to greatly apologize to the
requester of this review. It has been almost three weeks since the request
itself was sent in to now finally getting the review out. As mentioned, I am
exceptionally busy with university (I mentioned in the prior post how I wrote
8,700 words for an essay for an ED class) and thus, simply had no time to spare
for reviews. Or to be more honest, I had no time to spare for reviews at the cost of my mental well-being: I
certainly do have free time still, of course, but rather than putting it
towards reviews, I am putting it towards catching up on videos of MAMAMOO,
Fiestar, TWICE, and GFriend just for the sake of allowing some mental resting.
After all, writing relentless essays and additionally reviews would be too much
writing and reading for me.

Excuses aside, for how this review
will go, I do predict it being relatively shorter than a majority of reviews.
Even as I write this review, I am still nearly drowning in work and thus, I ask
for readers’ and the requester’s understanding on this time-restraint I have. Nonetheless,
I hope to focus more on the critical points of “Love Line” and more general,
musical discussions and will definitely still put in much effort in this
regard. Focusing now on “Love Line” in of itself, while many listeners and fans
can very much appreciate a calmer pop song and how soothing the song sounds, I
argue we need to be a bit more critical with actively listening to “Love Line.”
Certainly the song is not “bad” at all, but I would hesitate to claim there are
a lot of strong, enticing points as fans and some listeners claim. Thus, I will
argue on why I personally hear “Love Line” as an average song, and more
importantly, I wish to then discuss the actual implications of what “average”
means for songs and, of course, why “Love Line” is deemed as average even if it
can be a very soothing song.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(5.25/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 5/10


Sections: 5/10
(5.33/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Rap: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Bridge: 6/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 6/10

[Instrumental introduction]

Oh my
Were my eyes always this big?
Oh my
Did my heart always beat this fast?
Honestly speaking,
I feel strange
I go crazy whenever I see you
I go crazy, yeah

I keep going crazy
Whenever I see you, it’s really dangerous
My racing heart,
did it run away somewhere?
No, look, have I ever been like this before?
I try to act like nothing’s wrong, but it’s so obvious
Every time I see you, I’m amazed
Beauty on and on
I’ll say it in easy terms:
“I like you so much”
Nothing else to see
This is one-hundred percent love
It’s slightly cringing,
but maybe this is destiny

Love line
Even if I can’t see it, I can feel it
We’re connected with a red line
Baby I really love you
Oh, yeah it’s you
My love is you
(Will you believe in me?
With my pinky finger)
I promise you, I love you
Love love love love line
Love love love like this
Love love love love line
Love love love like this

From now on, day and night
I want to hold you
As if you were always mine

I’ve never felt this way before
I love you like
how a fat kid loves cake
Sweet like cake cake
Can’t believe I’m relating to a typical love song
Oh the irony, huh?
If we’re going to date anyway
If only we met earlier
But thank God
we met now, yeah
My baby you know

Love line
Even if I can’t see it, I can feel it
We’re connected with a red line
Baby I really love you
Oh, yeah it’s you
My love is you
(Will you believe in me?
With my pinky finger)
I promise you, I love you
Love love love love line
Love love love like this
Love love love love line
Love love love like this

I’ve never felt this way before, I’m not lying
More than you ever imagined, I love you
Your man is right here
You probably won’t believe me
But I can’t wait anymore
I want you, I’m going crazy
I won’t be cautious
I’m going to hug you
to the point where I wonder if I’m allowed to do this
I’m going to get hit

Love line
Even if I can’t see it, I can feel it
We’re connected with a red line
Baby I really love you
Oh, yeah it’s you
My love is you
(Will you believe in me?
With my pinky finger)
I promise you, I love you
Love love love love line
Love love love like this
Love love love love line
Love love love like this

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: To
be understand my argument, I think we first need to understand a vital difference:
the difference between rating an artist’s “song” and “skills.” Already, I
expect many to desire to contest my rating for the vocals—and to that, I very
much encourage such as disagreement and agreement (and both) is how we develop
critical thinking skills along with developing pro-social skills of how to
disagree with others without emotionally or even physically harming them. To
explain the rating, first we have to acknowledge a five is not bad per se.
Nonetheless, it would appear HIGH4 deserves a six here as their singing is very
smooth and flows fluently throughout the song. Why, then, did I give a five?
This is where we need to understand, as said, the difference when I critique a song versus skills.

When
it comes to reviewing songs, I do exactly such: I focus on the songs and
therefore every aspect that is gauged—the vocals, the sections, the
instrumental, and the lyrics—are all based within
the context of
the song itself. Let us use an example to understand this.
For example, in the prior review of TWICE’s
“Knock Knock”
(and biasedly one of the “better” reviews I have ever written—though
it still very much lacks, of course), the vocal rating there was a six. Quite
obviously, there is an unfair disparity in place when we contrast these two
songs: HIGH4’s singing in “Love Line” are focused on precise and intense tunes
while TWICE’s singing in “Knock Knock”—barring the vocal beltings—are mostly on
repetitive, basic tunes such as “knock knock knock knock.” Why does TWICE get a
higher rating despite an almost objective view that HIGH4’s singing is much
more intensive and focused? The answer: it depends on the context of the song; therefore, we need to account for the
sections, instrumental, and so forth that take place and the vocals then fit
within that background. This is why TWICE’s vocals scored quite well despite,
in terms of a huge portion of the singing in of itself, it sounds somewhat
weaker. (Specifically, the composition to the vocals’ arrangement is what was
impressive as I argued the composers of “Knock Knock” utilized contrast to
greatly augment the ladies’ vocals.)

And
so, for what this means, I do wish to clarify that HIGH4’s vocals are certainly
solid in of themselves. In terms of raw skills, the men sing quite well (and
equally does TWICE before those misunderstand me; the ladies are also actually
excellent singers now that I am rather knowledgeable with the group both
musically and socially). The issue, then, is that within the context of “Love
Line,” their vocals are less appealing. For example, with how the sections and
instrumental predominantly focus on rhythm and following a slower pacing, the
vocals following suit create even more mundaneness in sound. In this context,
as we can now see, their vocals—of which independently sound decently—now become
quite plain as the singing overly blends in with the rest of the sounds that
occur and thus, appeal is lost in this regard. And because of how song reviews
are song reviews, I account for the
overall sound that is given.

All
that discussed, this will now lead us to the main discussion of this review:
this song has potential to be quite appealing, but—whether the composers intended
this or not—the song plays out too safely and does not attempt any “risks.”
That said, it is not a bad idea at all to “play safe”—in other words, these
songs tend to follow very traditional structuring—with songs; the benefit to
doing such is that, typically if done appropriately, these types of songs will
never be deemed “bad”—the downside, though, is that oftentimes this also means
these songs will seldom be deemed astonishing and amazing. For a very vivid
example of another song that does such, Fiestar’s “Mirror” is the infamous
example. “Mirror” is a song that is incredibly predictable in its form and
sound, and while it is still somewhat pleasing in sound and that very
predictability, we have to admit it is a song that can be overlooked as it
simply does not stand out at all: “Mirror” is a generic, typical pop song even
if its stylistic concept is somewhat unique to Fiestar (the concept of—as it is
humorously labeled—“sad-sexy”). But in terms of paying attention to just the
sonic details of “Mirror,” as said, it is easily overlooked and can be
dismissed as another, typical pop song. All of these points apply to HIGH4’s “Love
Line,” though instead of just a generic pop song, “Love Line” is a generic-calm pop song.

All
that said, however, as is essentially always the case with songs, there are
still strengths. For where “Love Line” excels, the rapping utilized is the one
aspect that does provide a potential distinctive point for the song. The
rapping is used not just used as content in the song—in other words, merely
providing a section and therefore filling in time and space with sounds—but it
also serves structural functions as well. Given that the song lacks pre-choruses,
the rapping serve as a substitute and it is a particularly effective one as
unlike pre-choruses that oftentimes have to adopt a notable shift in intensity—to
“hype” a song—raps do not have to fulfill that role. Furthermore, because of
how the raps are focused on being slower and staying as a complementing piece
to the instrumental’s rhythm, they end up serving as even more suitable “pre-choruses.”
In fact, if correct, there was a somewhat recent review where a song
manipulated this same compositional strategy and idea, so should a reader find
that particular review perhaps more explanation would be there.

All
in all, however, I personally find “Love Line” unsatisfying not because of what
it is but because of what it could have been. Again, the song is
definitely still decent and holds its ground well in terms of being a relaxing
pop song, but being labeled as “average” will not suffice for a song and artist
who desire to get further in the pop scene and that is where I remain
unsatisfied and even somewhat concerned. A vast majority of (Korean—but also generally
speaking any culture such as American, Chinese, Japanese, etc.) pop songs are
indeed “average,” after all; given that many composers are in fact very well
skilled and are intellectual individuals, seldom would we find songs that are
actually below average and genuinely poor. While we have encountered songs on
this blog that have been rendered by me as slightly below average and
disappointing in this regard, we have yet to encounter a song where it encourages
me to boldly say: “Hey, give me, AtrocityCL/Chris, a month of training and let me compose and produce a better song.”
That simply does not happen not just because I am a silly fool that would
actually make an even worse song, but
that never happens because a large majority of composers do know what they are doing and do
produce and compose songs that are at least average. Therefore, it is critical
to songs to be beyond “average”—no matter whose standards calls it “average”—as
being average loses appeal when essentially every song is—at worst—“average.”

HIGH4’s
“Love Line” is a song that can be enjoyed, but in terms of other calmer pop
songs I have heard, it definitely lacks its distinctive features. It is a song
that “works,” but it is not a song that necessarily invites people to truly
hone in on what occurs. Nevertheless, HIGH4 deserves support as do all artists,
and I personally remain optimistic that future releases by the men will be unique and allow them to perhaps
gain more popularity. For now though with “Love Line,” more is desired as it is
a song that “plays too safely.”  

_______________________________________________________

EXO’s
“Call Me Baby” will hopefully also be finished by today. To the requester, once
again huge apologies for the huge delay on getting this review out. Also, I do
apologize if this review focused too much on a general discussion and less on
actually analyzing the song in of itself and perhaps explaining why I consider it
a song that sounds quite typical in its structures. In fact, this might be a
very grave mistake as I should have explained to readers the why component in the first place.
Nonetheless, I hope readers and requester find the ideas and points intriguing especially
on a more general level as one continues to listen to pop music.

Look
forward to the remaining request being the final song to the month. “Honestly
speaking, / I feel strange” for not bringing a proper review to “Love Line,”
but I will use this moment as learning experience. For the month of April, look
forward to an early start and for many reviews and even Critical Discussions to
take place.

Hi! I really enjoyed reading your review of Twice’s “Knock Knock”. I’m also very curious on your stance of ‘shipping’ idols and am looking forward to the day you post about that topic! At any rate, my main question is: how many times do you listen to a song before you review it/make a judgement? How much would a review change if you wrote one on the first listen and then another several listens after? Thanks for your time, and I hope you keep up the great content! :)

Hello. First of all, I am glad you enjoyed the review and also, thank you for sharing your interest in the potential discussion on “idol shipping.” If it is something readers are curious about, I will definitely give it some priority. 

On topic, this is a very excellent question. To answer how many times I listen to a song before reviewing it, it truly does depend on many variables. Generally speaking, however, I try to give at least three days before actually writing a review regardless of how much (or little) analytical work has been done beforehand. The reason for this is–whether it is a genuine phenomenon or not–that I tend to have a “first-listener bias”; in other words, the first playbacks I have of a song tend to be either overly generous or overly critical. This is simply due to how I naturally “check” if a song suits my preferences. To use TWICE’s “Knock Knock” as an example, I was already hooked within the first playback. This is, as addressed in the review, due to the song merely fitting my preferences for songs I like. Of course, however, the issue with this first-time bias is that I was suddenly assuming the song was very solid without actually being critical of it. Thus, the three-day period ensures that any “excitement” I have towards a song dies down so that I can truly write a more critical review–and of course, the same applies to songs where I already dislike a song due to mere stylistic features.

Now regarding actual analytical work, this is layered in with the minimal three-day waiting period. For an example with TWICE’s “Knock Knock,” I personally spent a week of actual analysis with each day having around six serious listening sessions–these sessions are where I take time to really focus in on the song and, while I am doing so, am writing down notes on points of discussions or points that are strong or weak. It should be clarified, however, that “Knock Knock” is by far an exception; seldom do I spend this much time for one song. I only did it as the composers very much stunned me and I wanted to really understand what was occurring. 

Overall, to simply share my general review process, it tends to follow this process: 

The first day is me listening to a song casually. This is, as discussed, to understand where my current biases lie, and it also allows me to become familiar with the song.

Day two is when I prepare to be more analytical but am not listening to the song’s actual composition quite yet. For what I do on this day: I will focus on listing down the sections involved; finding the English translated lyrics (and fixing lost-in-translation mistakes with grammar and such); do some minimal research on the artist (especially with getting to know the artist if I am not familiar); and lastly, I start preparing the links for the review (whether it involves the music video, dance practice, an audio link, etc.). As noticed, though, the most important detail here is that I am not actually analyzing the song yet. At most I casually listen to the song a few times, but this pause of listening and analysis is to really allow all my initial biases to fade away.

Day three–and arguably “day three to day X”–is when I finally begin analyzing the song. Now what this looks like is addressed above in terms of really listening to a song and taking notes on any detail that catches my attention or that I think would bring an interesting discussion. This process can take up to a day (and on average it usually does), but as seen in TWICE’s case, this can extend all the way to a week if a song happens to be quite convoluted. And for those wondering on what exactly I am actively listening for, this would perhaps entail an actual post to thoroughly explain. But in short, the biggest guiding factor I use when actively listening and being critical of a song is asking “Why did the composers choose to do X here; what effects were they aiming for?” A huge misconception with music reviewers or simply critical listeners is the idea that critical listeners are merely selective listeners; that is, it is assumed that being critical about a song means being able to hear subtle details involved. This, as addressed in a review on Apink’s “Only One,” is incredibly false: the critical aspect is from asking and attempting to answer why versus merely being able to find the what. In truth, no one necessarily cares if one is able to hear all the minute sounds involved; what people do care for, however, is a discussion–especially since music is subjective–about why a song plays out the way it does. 

And finally, after all the analytical work is all done and I have a document that is well-fleshed with points to discuss, then I begin the actual writing process. This is can take only one hour but also up to around five or even six hours–as was the case with TWICE’s “Knock Knock.” Overall, though, as long as the analytical work I did beforehand was thorough, the writing process is not too difficult as it becomes a task of then “translating” those notes into actual, articulated sentences.

All in all, thank you very much for asking this question. I think it is definitely an important question to ask as readers should very much be wondering how I do in fact review songs and the processes involved, so thank you very much for taking the time to ask this. 

TWICE – “Knock Knock” Review

(Dance Practice) / (Music Video) / (Live
Performance)

TWICE – Knock Knock

Reviewed
on March 13, 2017

image

Although
an alarming amount of listeners dislike the song for very justified, critical
reasons—specifically that “Knock Knock” merely exploits catchiness for appeal—I
have to disagree. Certainly the song uses “catchiness” as a concept, but I
argue Collapsedone and Mayu Wakisaka went beyond using such for raw appeal.
Throughout the song, said catchiness is used as an accommodating factor by compensating
for moments of weaker vocal execution. Furthermore, how Collapsedone and Mayu
Wakisaka structured the song leads to many contrasting points that, contrary to
the expected result of such impairing the song, actually end up in favor of the
song by using said contrasts to further build upon the song’s progression.

Personal Message:
Well, this review is incredibly
awkward with its timing in regards to a recent “dating scandal” between GOT7’s
BamBam and TWICE’s Mina—two labelmates under JYP Entertainment. To clarify, I am
absolutely not reviewing this song because of this incident serving as
motivation; I have long been planning to review “Knock Knock” for weeks due to musical and intellectual reasons. But, while we are on this topic, I wish to
take this time to express my own obviously mature, non-delusional points as “good
fans” are currently doing: like these very ethical and upright “fans” who are
bashing Mina and BamBam, I too forbid TWICE from dating. Specifically, Jihyo will
never be allowed to date because I know unequivocally one day we will meet. And
once we meet, Jihyo will get on one knee and hold up a ring and ask me to marry
her, and with this I will tearfully accept it and we will embrace all while
TWICE’s “Melting” plays in the background from who-knows-where. We will then
raise two daughters and two dogs, and I will spend most of my time raising the children
and be a part-time teacher while she is off with TWICE. We will then live
happily-ever-after and spend much time together cuddling and helping each other
through life, and we will then die together eventually. The end. Obviously if
someone wishes to hire me to direct dramas, I would be more than glad to as I
am clearly a professional with that. Also if it is not clear to readers on why
I am still single, this embarrassing story I improvised in seconds probably
answers that question.

But sarcastic, mockery tone aside, I
do wish to clarify I actually have become a huge fan of Jihyo. I highly admire
her leadership, her care for the members, her work ethics, and I personally
have fallen in love with her voice. Most impressively, though, I admire her so
much for overcoming the ridiculous amount of body-shaming she experienced in
the past and even at times in the present. Despite the current unfair beauty
standards in place (perhaps one day I will share my interesting and somewhat
bizarre take to “beauty”—that “beauty” is both natural but also potentially a
social construction as it ties into gender, class, and race), I assert Jihyo is
very much beautiful—both physically and non-physically. And indeed, every woman
and man and simply human being should be able to feel that way about themselves
and not be stricken down by beauty standards in place. All skin complexions are
beautiful; all body types are beautiful; all weights are beautiful; and so on.

And to leave my serious remarks on
this petty incident TWICE’s Mina and GOT7’s BamBam are in, indeed, it is just
that: petty—in terms of fans’ reactions, that is. JYP Entertainment has
confirmed the two are merely friends, but of course, even if they are to be
dating as fans viciously claim, this is irrelevant and I hope the two the best
of their relationship—whether as friends or as a couple. Idols are—believe it
or not—normal human beings who happen to work in a particular branch of
entertainment. Now I do not wish to downplay the fact that idols’ roles are
quite momentous with being role models and that it is a privilege for them to
work with music, but in the end, we have to acknowledge that being an idol is
merely a job. Thus, this objectifying that oftentimes occurs towards idols—whether
treating them as trophies that are “owned” by fans, sexualizing them or
whatever else—is quite unethical. For news that these supposed “fans” of both
GOT7 and TWICE should care about, these
anti-dating “fans” should recall GOT7’s Jackson and TWICE’s Jihyo are
respectively sick and injured. That is where our attention should be, and to
the two idols, I hope the two a healthy and hasty recovery. And for actual fans
who are very supportive of both Mina and BamBam, let us continue being true
fans and helping our beloved idols make it through this sensitive period
especially as both groups are busy with their comebacks. Save the delusional
fantasies that the two potentially dating is “betraying” fans because there
simply is no betraying whatsoever; assuming
my mathematically skills have not entirely vanished, both of them are “man”/“woman”
versus children and thus can think responsibly for themselves. (And for another
topic in the future to discuss, I could one day discuss when or even if “shipping”—as
in, the lighthearted joking between fans that certain members are paired up
with other members as a couple—is appropriate or not. This would be a rather
interesting, controversial topic, and as critical thinking readers might be
aware of, there is no easy answer at all with this.)

On topic with this review since if I
get sidetracked anymore then this review will never begin, I have never looked
forward to reviewing a song this badly in quite some time. In fact, I truly
cannot remember this level of passion
I am feeling to finally review a song that I argue is not only one of the most
impressively composed pop songs I have heard, but I also get to write a review and defend a position nearly
everyone disagrees with—after all, the music video’s dislike ratio is quite telling
that many are still frustrated with TWICE’s inconsistency in terms of their
popularity despite weaker music production and composition. After all, many
think this song is merely catchy and thus, to call it “good” would be inaccurate as it is nothing more than just catchy—this
sentiment being a trend that even I agree with in terms of “TT,” “Cheer Up,”
and “Like Ooh-Ahh.” All of TWICE’s prior releases, with all due respect to the
members and composers, are rather weak songs in terms of both vocal delivery and
also composition and production. Admittedly, as a critical listener of music, I
still cannot fathom why TWICE is exceptionally
popular despite many of their prior songs being of poorer quality—even if, of
course, I wholeheartedly support TWICE and acknowledge they are incredibly
hardworking, excellent role models who do deserve love and support no matter
their song qualities.

In other words, especially to the
expected TWICE fans who are reading this review, I ask for the entire fanbase’s
understanding on this sensitive topic: TWICE is not hated merely because of “haters”
or “jealousy”; indeed, the intellectual and mature, critical criticizers of the
group are not doing so out of spite—though again, there are those anti-fans who
have way too much free time and lack ethics (such as the current fans who are
ironically berating Mina and BamBam when they should reevaluate their own
ethics)—but rather, are critiquing the group’s popularity in relation to their
music quality. While music is ultimately subjective, I argue there is an
overwhelming amount of critical listeners who would agree with me when I claim
that all of TWICE’s prior title tracks are weaker if we focus in on the
composition that actually occurs and ignore “catchiness” or the flashy
choreographies and music videos. As such, people with this critical view of the
ladies are not to be banished away and ignored but rather, are to be heard out
for the sake of a thoughtful discussion that really does hone in on one of
K-Pop’s “large questions”: what does it
take to be popular? Is it song quality, a connection with fans, physical
appearances, personalities, coming from a well-established label company, and
so on? My point is this: though I am critical of TWICE’s prior comebacks and so
are many others, we need to separate the difference between discussing TWICE’s music and the ladies themselves. Never should TWICE be personally bashed
(unless, of course, they commit an act that is rather atrocious—and no, dating
laughably does not count as “atrocious” despite “fans” saying so), but indeed,
their music is definitely open for critique.

All that said, “Knock Knock” is,
despite all odds, different from their prior releases: I argue it is a song that is not of the usual “TWICE-catchiness-to-hide-lack-of-quality”
song that I have heard in their prior comebacks. “Knock Knock” is an incredibly
stunning song especially towards the composition aspect. In fact, I find that
this song is so brilliantly composed I wish to highlight the two composers
involved: Collapsedone and Mayu Wakisaka. I seldom do such (although I should
credit and mention composers’ names more often as they are who I focus on—akin to how one discusses literature on an author’s work rather than just the characters in a story for
example), but these two have truly done a fantastic job with “Knock Knock” that
I very much wish for readers to know who the composers—the “authors” if we will—to
the song are.  

Addressing the links we will be
using for this review, I have used a myriad of them. The music video is of the
usual, however, there is a plot-based extra pause that occurs in the bridge
that is not a part of the actual song—and
for a good reason, too as it is an excessive, awkward break in the song. This
is why the music video alone does not suffice, and of course it does not
showcase the entire choreography which I argue is very much important in K-Pop
even if I no longer focus on dances specifically. (For those unfamiliar, I used
to actually rate the choreographies as well, but as time went on, I realized my
skills only grew with being analytical towards music but not towards dances.
Thus, I no longer rate dances as I simply am too unknowledgeable.) Regarding
the live performance, this is for those who prefer YouTube as their video
outlet. The issue here, of course, is that the song quality is poorer due to it
being live, but it does provide insight into the dance. Finally, we have our
main link: the dance practice that is posted on V App—a website for idols to
live stream and interact with fans’ chat messages. The link works best on a
computer as without the actual app, mobile playback tends to be of poor quality
(and hence why I included the live performance YouTube link). But indeed, this
source is our main focus in terms of aurally listening to the song as it is the
song in of itself and in a studio quality.

Finally discussing “Knock Knock,” I
do admit it is perhaps my favorite song of all-time. That said, it is far from
the best song I have ever heard; in terms of the best pop song, MAMAMOO’s
“Decalcomanie” definitely holds its throne
. But, in terms of stylistic
preferences, I find “Knock Knock” ‘s format and sounds to be what I personally like
hearing: a fun, upbeat, naturally progressing yet hyped song. Nevertheless, if
we focus on the composition of “Knock Knock,” arguably this is the most
impressive musical piece I have analyzed. In other words, even if sonically the
vocals are not necessarily the most appealing for example, how the song is
crafted and handled in terms of its structure and playback for bringing in
specific effects is very impressive. And so, this brings us to how the review
will go. Although an alarming amount of listeners dislike the song for very
justified, critical reasons—specifically that “Knock Knock” merely exploits
catchiness for appeal—I have to disagree. Certainly the song uses “catchiness”
as a concept, but I argue Collapsedone and Mayu Wakisaka went beyond using such
for raw appeal. Throughout the song, said catchiness is used as an accommodating
factor by compensating for moments of weaker vocal execution. Furthermore, how Collapsedone
and Mayu Wakisaka structured the song leads to many contrasting points that,
contrary to the expected result of such impairing the song, actually end up in
favor of the song by using said contrasts to further build upon the song’s
progression.

Since that “thesis statement” if we dare
call it such is rather poorly worded or is simply rather quite complex in terms
of ideas, I will break down the review in a more manageable fashion. I will
first discuss what the ongoing catchiness is and why it is currently of
appropriate criticism. Afterwards, I will then go through the song to point out
how those “catchiness moments” are actually the composers’ method of
compensating for what would otherwise be poorer vocal delivery. Once that is
all done, I will then discuss “Knock Knock” ‘s strongest asset—its uses of
contrasting points—and how that greatly aids in allowing the song to have a very
coherent, solid progression.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 7/10
(6.50/10 raw score) – “Above average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 8/10
(7.67/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Chorus: 9/10

4.     Rap: 8/10

5.     Bridge: 7/10

6.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 8/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Instrumental Introduction]

The door closes at twelve
Please hurry up a bit
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
At night inside my mind
The door opens up
I need somebody
(Someone else)

You keep lingering around
Taking a sneak peek
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock
Knock on my door
Probably another playboy
Obviously just a bad boy
I need some assurance
(Knock knock?)

Knock on my heart and open it up
Knock hard
Kung kung*
One more time
Kung kung
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
It won’t be so easy to open it up
(Say that you’re mine)
Come again tomorrow and the day after
I will be ready and waiting
(Knock knock)
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
I want to keep hearing it again
Knock on my door

No need for that gold key or get-lucky
If you truly mean it everything’s gonna be okay
What to do, you’re already here
Could you please wait a moment?
You come in when I am alone
Shake me right out of my mind
Now is the perfect show time
Make it yours

Dang-dang when the clock strikes,
would you come to me?
Turning round and round will
only make you fall asleep
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Come in, come in, come in baby,
take my hands

Knock on my heart and open it up
Knock hard
Kung-kung*
One more time
Kung-kung
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
It won’t be so easy to open it up
(Say that you’re mine)
Come again tomorrow and the day after
I will be ready and waiting
(Knock knock)
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
I want to keep hearing it again
Knock on my door

Hey, hey after all this time
My frozen heart will–my-my heart will,
melt away like ice cream
Come knock on my door

Knock on my heart and open it up
Knock hard
Kung-kung*
One more time
Kung-kung
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
It won’t be so easy to open it up
(Say that you’re mine)
Come again tomorrow and the day after
I will be ready and waiting
(Knock knock)
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
I want to keep hearing it again
Knock on my door

Knock knock knock knock on my door
I’m freakin’ freakin’ out,
freakin’ out out
Knock knock
Knock knock Knock
Knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door

*The Korean linguistic representation of, essentially, “knock knock.”
(In English, “bam” or “thump thump” are similar examples.)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: For
once in I believe three years of writing reviews, I will not actually address
the numerical ratings at all. This is because I truly wish to hone in on the
more theoretical aspect to “Knock Knock”—and thus, this will be the most difficult
review I have ever written as numerical ratings were always a great way for me
to make theoretical points more “concrete” as not all readers are comfortable
dealing with mere abstract concepts and ideas. Numbers, on the other hand,
always make sense as they are concrete ideas. (Consider, after all, the
difference between explaining an abstract musical concept and not directly
relating it to the ratings versus saying “this section is a seven for above
average because of this.”—the latter being much more concrete in its idea at
the end even if it involves discussing abstract concepts.) I will do my best to
explain, but of course as I always urge, readers should feel free to send in
questions for further discussions. Clearly after spending arguably too much
time writing about songs as my shamelessly nerdy yet beloved passion, I am more
than happy to extend a review’s conversation into questions-and-answers for clarifications
and such.

On
topic, let us discuss what is the current “catchiness” that exists and why
people critiquing said “catchiness” are not wrong to do such. First of all, I
am indeed loosely using the term “catchiness” here; after all, no one can
objectively pinpoint per se what is defined as “catchiness”—certain sounds,
pitches, tempos, and such are too varied for a solid definition. Nevertheless,
in this sense I am referring to points of the song that tend to be easily
emulated—key examples in “Knock Knock” are the constant “knock knock,” “knock
on my door” phrases and the simpler, heavy electronic beats that follow a very
predictable manner. So, why is catchiness problematic? In a majority—but not
all—cases, these types of additions to songs tend to be mere fillers if we look
at the true roots. Oftentimes, these catchiness points bring minimal changes to
a song besides merely progressing the song for the very sake of such getting
the song to move along.

For
example, the first “knock knock” phrase pushes the song forth four seconds by
merely reusing a singular, basic note that in of itself should be used
sparingly lest the song become mundane and uncreative. Compare that to when the
song is not “knocking” (and we will actually now use this term) and we will
find that there tends to be a lot more fluctuations and more complex tunes in
place—tunes that do advance the song ahead beyond a simplistic yet fun “la la
la la” pattern. Now for why this in particular is extremely disturbing to “Knock
Knock,” let us be honest: the song spends a huge amount if not nearly half of
its duration “knocking” (and by “knocking” I mean when the ladies are simply uttering
that key phrase and word). Again, this is catchy and thus is appealing, but is it actually worthy of anything valuable per
se? Sure, the composition and decision involved to use these fillers/catchiness
points at specific points are actually intellectual and not thoughtless, but
even so, merely repeating “knock knock knock knock” repetitively is negligible
and that is where many are criticizing
the song. When a song spends much of its time seemingly exploiting a key word
and phrase—which, musically is only quick successions of essentially one note—and
we come to realize that the song now sounds “cheap.” “Knock Knock,” then,
becomes another generic pop song that people love merely because it possesses a
fun and bouncy aspect; after all, “knock knock knock knock, knock on my door”
tends to linger around—more so if we consider how it is coupled by instrumental’s
beats that further solidify that bouncing trait.

And
so, the majority of people who dislike the song for this reason are not wrong
at all—not that, of course, one can ever be objectively right or wrong about
music. But point is this: people who find that “Knock Knock” is a poor song that
is hiding its weaknesses through sounding catchy are definitely critically
thinking of the song. This is a solid
criticism. However, here comes the beauty of academic, mature, and intellectual
discussions: we can still disagree with this criticism by challenging this very
line of thinking. For where we will now go in this review, I wish to argue the
current claim that the catchiness used is just for the sake of cheaply
garnering appeal; I argue, instead, the catchiness we find Collapsedone and
Mayu Wakisaka using is not to compensate for “a bad song” but it is to help
alleviate TWICE’s known weakness: their vocals.

Whether
acknowledged by fans or not, we have to understand that TWICE’s vocals in their
songs are far from any high standard—in fact, I oftentimes have given them a
slightly below average rating for such. Now of course it should be clarified
that this is not to say the ladies themselves are not skilled singers; one of
the most short-sighted comment I hear about TWICE or any other seemingly
vocally underperforming group is that they “cannot sing.” This is false: a large majority of idols can actually
sing, especially if compared to a regular person who is not professionally trained as are idols. That
said, when it comes to actual song production, we will find that many of the
vocals by TWICE tend to be overly simplistic and seldom do we hear more
strenuous singing from them unless it does not involve TWICE’s own music. (Some
slight irony here as one would expect their own songs to showcase their best vocal
abilities.) “Knock Knock,” it seems however is the first time we hear some more
intense singing, but even then it is only from Jihyo and Jungyeon and partially
from Nayeon (even though I do know Nayeon is a capable singer after researching
her background—not in a stalker-like way, of course, but rather a
musical-stalker-like way).

Jokes
aside, even if “Knock Knock” has the more impressive vocal beltings at the
choruses, for the most part it is a song that still showcases a lot of overly
basic singing. However, returning to the original discussion of how the
composers utilizes the “catchiness” in the song, we will find that these filler
components of the members repeating “knock knock” is not necessarily because
they cannot do better or to “hide” their poorer vocals; instead, we could argue
these catchiness fillers are to augment
and supplement the members’ vocals so
that their usual, weaker singing becomes at least average and sufficient.

Let
us analyze the prime example of the song’s key words and phrases. As already
discussed, the “knocking” phrases are quite rudimentary as all these phrases do
is solely progress the song versus adding in more complex tunes, fluctuations,
and so forth. However, how the catchiness works in terms of supplementing the
members’ vocals—especially those who are the sub/support vocalists—is that the
instrumental backs up and emulates their very singing of those filler moments. As
a result, this creates a layering effect: notice how the “knocks” are nearly in
sync with the instrumental’s “shimmering” sounds and how each strong beat
complements each knock slight moments afterwards. Now before addressing the
genius of this on a structural level, we have to understand how this helps on
an aural level. For one, as said, the key distinctive feature here is that the
vocals are not “hidden” away but are supplemented:
in other words, the vocals—even if they are not sonically strong especially
with repeating “knock knock”—are still blatantly out and with the instrumental
providing extra depth, it helps the vocals leave a greater presence and
influence to the song’s overall sound. If the instrumental was not supportive
of the vocals, then by raw sound the “knocks” would sound, to be blunt, rather
awful and mere excessive “fluff” added.

Furthermore,
we also need to focus beyond just the explicit catchiness-filler content such
as in the song’s second half’s verse. During this moment for example, we find
that Tzuyu and Mina are not delivery usual repetitive words but are actually
showcasing some minimal vocal belting. In of themselves, these beltings—while soothing,
soft, and still tuneful to our ears—are nothing that surprising. However, once
we couple in the instrumental during this moment—of which is functioning as
before with providing an extra layering—and we suddenly find that both Tzuyu’s
and Mina’s vocals are seemingly more dense than just forgettable, minor
beltings. After all, with beats that match up to, for example, the “dang-dang” and
how even the bass line shifts up in pitch when Mina’s singing arrives to
further emphasize that there is a synced layering, indeed the result is there
is much more presence for the vocals from members we otherwise would not expect
at all.  

With
this hopefully understood in some degree, let us now talk about the composition
in a more general sense. As said, I really wish to focus in on how “Knock Knock”
‘s strongest asset is its uses of contrasting points and indeed how the
composers’ use of catchiness-fillers help with this, but before that there is
one aspect I wish to focus in on that is not quite related to manipulating
contrast. To still continue with the prior point about the instrumental layering
with the vocals, we have to understand beyond just supplementing TWICE’s vocals
on the huge importance of this very act. First, we need to realize this song
lacks a section that is traditionally seen in almost every pop song—in fact,
this one section is one I argue is the most
important one as it controls the shifts of a song: the pre-choruses. Without
actually analyzing the song, most might not even realize the song lacks an
official pre-chorus or will either claim the pre-chorus does exist in place of
a verse or that the first half of the chorus is the pre-chorus. Again, music is
subjective in this realm akin to asking if we can objectively pinpoint what “catchiness”
means in a technical manner, but in our case we realize there is no clear and explicit section that is dedicated as the pre-chorus—this is what
matters most, the very absence of a clear section that has this role.

For
why the vocal and instrumental layering matters beyond supplementing the vocals
with seemingly “catchiness,” we have to understand these catchiness-fillers
that we desire to belittle actually carry the important role of being a substitute
pre-chorus. Because the layering tends to shift around—whether vocally or
instrumentally, as discussed with Mina’s part in the second half of the song’s
verse—we will find that the layering is, in a subtle manner, generating hype
for the song which is then climaxed at the choruses (as per usual of pop songs
as they follow the binary format of music). Even in MAMAMOO’s “Decalcomanie,”
another song that lacks an explicit pre-chorus, we find that this song still
has a clearly noticeable shift: the verses end in a dramatic pause and have
lingering sounds both vocally and instrumentally. However, in “Knock Knock,”
much is to be praised for how natural the layering is able to progress and
shift the song into the chorus without any distinctive signs—all the while still
sounding fluent. And most brilliantly, what is to be credited in specific for
allowing this natural transition are the very uses of “knock knock” phrases and
the seemingly more basic instrumental—in other words, it is “catchiness” that
serves beyond raw appeal but indeed
provides structural value to the song, this being incredibly rare to hear in a
pop song.

With that covered, let us now
transition to the final aspect of the review: why “Knock Knock” ‘s use of
contrast allows it to be a rather impressive song especially with its composition.
Specifically, I wish for us to discuss how the song uses many contrasting
points—of which I will explain—as a method to gain aural appeal. Of course,
there are a lot of other strategies in place—as discussed above with the
layering serving as substitute pre-choruses—and if I was more dedicated I would
even “walk” us through each particular aspect, but instead let us be realistic and
focus on the more critical topics.

In terms of what I mean by “contrasting
points,” we have to understand that the song “bounces”  back and forth constantly between more
strenuous, complex moments and more plain, generic, “pop” sounds and
structures. A clear example is the choruses themselves: notice the inserted catchiness-fillers
of “knock knock” that contrast to, for example, Nayeon’s vocal beltings and
Jihyo’s beltings. The contrast here, to clarify, is that the “knock” phrases
are based on simple, singular notes while the beltings are based on being
strenuous and in-depth. Even more confusing and complex yet impressive, notice
that even their beltings contrast one another: Jihyo’s (and later, Jungyeon’s)
beltings are a more rigorous version of Nayeon’s beltings. This is what I refer
to by “contrasting points.”

Now, for why this all matters, while
I do wish to focus on the aural aspect, as always, we need to incorporate an
understanding of how this works on a structural level as well. In summary,
proper execution of contrast will lead to a song sounding extremely diverse and varied with its sounds—this being a huge
trait, and more so if based on a song that seemingly runs the risk of sounding
mundane because of fillers (such as in “Knock Knock” with the “knocks”)—and furthermore
allows a sound to retain a strong sense of cohesion. As said, this ends up in
favor of the song but is a relatively huge risk for composers to consider
especially as oftentimes contrasting can easily go the other way: ruining
cohesion and further emphasizing mundaneness. To understand this risk, let us
dive into some depth on usages of contrast.

MAMAMOO’s “Decalcomanie” serves as
an example (once again) for the use of “complementing” versus contrasting.
Instead of using contrast, the choruses in “Decalcomanie” stack upon each
other; we find that the first half of the chorus establishes a stronger start
that the second half of the choruses then continues to carry forth and
conclude. On the other hand, in “Knock Knock,” that stacking is not there
necessarily. If this was true, the inserted “knocks” at the choruses would not
exist, and moreover, Jihyo’s lines would follow an entirely different set than Nayeon’s
lines as Jihyo would build from
Nayeon versus contrasting via a higher intensity.

Regarding the risk contrast can
sometimes bring, as mentioned, it can bring the opposite outcome with ruining
cohesion or making a song sound even more mundane by showcasing large
disparities between the two aspects that are supposedly to be contrasted. A
case that comes into mind would be none other than TWICE’s very own song: “Cheer
Up.” The choruses in that song are overly powerful and upbeat while the rest of
the song does not follow suit or necessarily is even projected to have such a
large gap from song to chorus. This is an example of contrast working
ineffectively: it made the song sound less coherent as there were two large
differences—chorus versus entirety of song—and the contrast now highlighted how
dependent the song is on its very choruses when a song should typically have
all of its factors be important and working together.

Why does contrast work in “Knock
Knock”? Let us investigate the possibilities. I argue it works in this song’s
case due to, once again, the underestimated factor: the catchiness-fillers. For
one, as discussed, the layering that occurs throughout the song leads to a
strong sense of cohesion and thus, using contrast has a reduced chance of
alienating and isolating specific sections. Secondly and most importantly, the composers were very thoughtful on their usage
of contrast: the contrasts are micro-scale versus macro-scale. In other words,
the contrast is only in bits versus wholesome shifts between sections as was
the case in “Cheer Up.” Exceptions exist, of course, but certainly in “Knock
Knock” ‘s case, having minor contrasts was a far safer route. After all,
consider that the contrasts are between lines
versus entire sections; the contrast
in the choruses are from the beltings to other beltings, or it was from the
belting to the catchiness-filler lines of “knock knock” or “kung kung.” This
allows the contrasts to be easily heard by listeners as it follows a smaller
and more organized fashion, and with a shorter duration the main benefits are
still reaped while reducing the downsides of contrast. Overall, then, the
outcome is that the contrasts give the song its aural benefits of making the
beltings sound even more impressive, and it still adds a structural component
of the song being varied and “bouncy” with its flow.

All in all, “Knock Knock” ‘s main
downside are the lyrics, which sadly is an inevitable result because one
non-musical downside to the use of catchiness-fillers is we get an excessive
amount of lyrics that contain repeating, meaningless phrases and words. One glance
at the lyrics reveal such: a huge portion of the song consists merely of “knock
knock” and the like. Nonetheless, “Knock Knock” is a very impressive song and
by far TWICE’s best release. Collapsedone and Mayu Wakisaka deserve much credit
for their work. Ultimately for what is to be gleaned from this review, TWICE’s “Knock
Knock” is more than what it appears when listening to it superficially and casually:
doing so does not allow a listener to understand all the intricate details that
occur when he listens to the song without actually analyzing some of its
feature. On the other hand, when a listener is being careful and actively
listening—even if she is aware that “Knock Knock” sounds like any generic pop
song—she will then realize the beauty that the song comes in and the
creativeness and intelligence Collapsedone and Mayu Wakisaka have put in.

For me, this song remains my
favorite song of all time—even if sonically “Decalcomanie” by MAMAMOO sounds
better. Nevertheless, the composition involved truly shocks me and I can still
hardly understand the intricacies involved. For a song to sound like generic
pop but to not actually be generic
and meaningless with its composition astounds me. I hope TWICE is able to
maintain this level vocal delivery and to improve on such, and that JYP
Entertainment continues to give the ladies these higher quality composed songs
instead of actual “catchiness”-meaningless songs that all other comebacks have
been so far. While I am predominantly only interested in TWICE for their
leader, Jihyo, I think I will soon become a fan of all the ladies—but,
unfortunately, it will take more than just one song for me to become an avid
fan. That said, I hope that is the case: I hope for TWICE to continue
improving, and that the composition of their at worst stay at this current
solid level or, realistically, to receive even stronger composed songs. That
would be amazing considering how stunning “Knock Knock” is on a composition
level. The ladies have dancing down and are one of the more intimate group in
terms of interacting with fans based on their V App, so I very much look forward
to when they also solidify their singing and rapping and equally have reliable,
excellently composed songs. For now, I will start becoming more familiar with
them on a personality-level even if “Knock Knock” is their only comeback I find
impressive. Why, one asks? Because I am optimistic that future releases will be
as good as “Knock Knock” or even better and so, I might as well prepare to be a
regular fan, right?

_______________________________________________________

This
was one of the most time-consuming yet exhilarating reviews I have written in
all of my years doing such. Much improvement is still necessary, of course, but
the focus of this review was definitely a change from just mechanically
reviewing songs. I think I will consider adopting this type of reviewing style
but, of course, in much more concise terms. Again, reviews are shorter and are continually becoming even shorter over time;
the reason this review runs 6000 words (and thus I wished this counted for
three essays I have to do) is that I know I am writing from the perspective
that a large majority of critical listeners will disagree with. Those who are
keen on listening to music will very much disagree that this song is solidly
composed and thus, I did add extra time to really explore and expand on my
arguments so that understanding can occur.

In
terms of upcoming reviews, look forward to two requests: HIGH4’s “Love Line”
and EXO’s “Call Me Baby.” Afterwards, to end the month of March, I plan on
ending with two or one Critical Discussions posts—topics are: potentially
addressing lip-syncing and “MR Removed” (fans of TWICE should be interested as
these are oftentimes used to attack the ladies); what it takes to actually be
popular in the K-Pop scene; and perhaps an interesting discussion on “shipping”
as I noticed that trend has become rather popular for all groups of all genders
and among both Korean and international fans. There are lots to look forward
to.

Thank
you to all for reading and I hope you all “Come again tomorrow and the day
after / I will be ready and waiting.” While I am certain most will merely skim
the review (and I do not blame readers for doing such; in fact, I encourage
focusing more on the ratings and then referring to the review to find answers
if confused or in disagreement), I appreciate any time given towards the
review. And for those who are very dedicated and interested in music, I hope
this review is thought-provoking with its ideas. The point of this review is
not to spark a debate—something that implies a winner and loser; rather, the
point of this review is to spark discussions—something
that involves critical thinking, being open to multiple viewpoints, and being
mature and respectful. I hope fans of TWICE, those who musically critique
TWICE, or even those who simply dislike TWICE for no reason to focus on the
idea of discussion being the core idea of this review. (And to those who
dislike TWICE for no reason: let us all do our part of being better human
beings and not personally attack the
ladies; instead, take the dislike and shift it towards being critical of their
music where, indeed, TWICE as an artist
has room to be critiqued.)

Hi, thank you for reviewing Spring Day! I was surprised that people thought it was BTS’ weakest song — I completely disagree. As you said, it is well composed, and shows the group’s versatility. Hope you have a great day, and good luck with your studies!

Hello. You’re welcome for the review and thank you for being so patient and the kind words. I am glad the review got you thinking of the song in a more critical lens and perhaps provides some reasons to disagree with those who think “Spring Day” is a weaker song. 

Once again thank you. Take care and have a great day yourself!

hello~ sorry for bothering again haha this request is no rush because i know you have a lot of other reviews!! in fact it’s not so much as a review request but i don’t know what else to say… i’m not personally an exo-l but their song call me baby confuses me greatly in terms of structure and rhythm, it’s a great catchy song but i’m so frustrated whenever i hear it because i don’t get the rhythms especially the claps at the start ahh!!! i don’t know.. ehm.. thanks a lot love your stuff :D

Hello. No worries whatsoever; I am more than glad to take up this confusion towards “Call Me Baby.” After all, besides opening a space for discussion towards a song, reviews–both mine and others–can oftentimes make a song less confusing or challenging to hear and understand as reviews tend to deconstruct and unpack what is going on in songs. (On a random note, I thought I had reviewed this song, but it turns out I had only reviewed “Dancing King” and “Lucky One” by EXO.) 

Since I am quite familiar with this song and have already listened to it multiple times since I was going to review it way back in the past, writing a review for it will work out very well as it is less on doing the analytical work and more on simply writing the review. That said and as you are already aware of, there are many reviews to still be worked on first before I get to this request. But indeed, you can look forward to this review. Thanks for sending this in and for being patient.

BTS – “Spring Day” Review

(Music Video) / (Audio) / (Dance
Practice)

BTS – Spring Day

Reviewed
on March 11, 2017

That
said, while a few fans have claimed that “Spring Day” is supposedly a weaker
song or at least a song that is unfitting for BTS, I highly disagree: I argue “Spring
Day” is a solidly composed song and it is executed well by the members
themselves. Moreover, this song showcases the versatility of the men and their
composers and producers: beyond just deviating away from the more upbeat and
powerful style BTS is known for, we have to understand that on a compositional
level, “Spring Day” itself deviates away from usual structures and said deviations are actually
effective.

Personal Message:
It has been—if correct—about three
weeks since this review request was sent in. With other posts (specifically an
important post regarding MAMAMOO’s recent controversy and a
discussion on racism in general
—which, on a random note, I am beyond shocked at how
well-received the post is in terms of sparking critical thinking and
discussions) and so much university work occurring, this request was inevitably
delayed. To the requester, I greatly and sincerely apologize for this delay. On
the positive side, however, I am indeed on spring break for a week and plan to
finish this review along with TWICE’s “Knock Knock” and another recent request
on HIGH4’s “Love Line.” Afterwards, March will take a more leisurely pacing but
I hope to have six posts by the end of the month.

Onto the review itself, if correct
it has actually been quite some time since we have last encountered a song that
has been rated relatively high (at least at “above average,” a seven). But
indeed, “Spring Day” does score quite well. That said, while a few fans have
claimed that “Spring Day” is supposedly a weaker song or at least a song that
is unfitting for BTS, I highly disagree: I argue “Spring Day” is a solidly
composed song and it is executed well by the members themselves. Moreover, this
song showcases the versatility of the men and their composers and producers: beyond
just deviating away from the more upbeat and powerful style BTS is known for,
we have to understand that on a compositional level, “Spring Day” itself
deviates away from usual structures and
said deviations are actually effective.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.67/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Rap: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 8/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 6/10

[Introduction Instrumental]

I miss you
When I say that, I miss you more
I’m looking at your photo
but I still miss you
Time is so cruel
I hate us
Now it’s hard
to even see each other’s faces
It’s only winter here
Even in August, winter is here
My heart makes time run
Like a snowpiercer left alone
I want to hold your hand
and go to the other side of the earth
to end this winter
How much longing has to fall like snow
for the spring days to come?
Friend

Like a small piece
of dust
that floats in the air
If the flying snow is me
I could
reach you faster

Snowflakes are falling
Getting farther away
I miss you (I miss you)
I miss you (I miss you)
How much more do I have to wait?
How many more nights do I have to stay up?
Until I can see you? (Until I can see you?)
Until I can meet you? (Until I can meet you?)
Past the end of this cold winter
Until the spring comes again
Until the flowers bloom again
Stay there a little longer
Stay there
Did you change?
(Did you change?)
Or did I change?
(Did I change?)
I hate even this moment that is passing
I guess we changed
I guess that’s how everything is

Yeah I hate you
Although you left
There hasn’t been a day that I have forgotten you
Honestly, I miss you
But now I’ll erase you
because that will hurt less than resenting you

I’m blowing out the cold
Like smoke, like white smoke
I say that I’m going to erase you
But actually, I still can’t let you go

Snowflakes are falling
Getting farther away
I miss you (I miss you)
I miss you (I miss you)
How much more do I have to wait?
How many more nights do I have to stay up?
Until I can see you? (Until I can see you?)
Until I can meet you? (Until I can meet you?)

You know it all
You’re my best friend
The morning is going to come again
Because no darkness, no season,
can last forever

Cherry blossoms are blooming
The winter is ending
I miss you (I miss you)
I miss you (I miss you)
If I wait a little longer (if I wait)
If I stay up a few more nights
I’ll go see you (I’ll go see you)
I’ll go pick you up (I’ll go pick you up)
Past the end of this cold winter
Until the spring comes again
Until the flowers bloom again
Stay there a little longer
Stay there

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: To
continue the discussion of this song differing from the norms of (Korean) pop
music, readers should first take some time to actively listen to the song—or,
one can easily take a visual look at the structures themselves. One detail
should stick out: there are no verses per se. (And for those unfamiliar, in my reviews
I connote sections not by denotation but rather connotation; in other words,
yes there technically are verses but focusing on the context, we will consider these sections “rapping sections” versus
verses.) Instead, interestingly, the rapping sections serve in place of the typical
verses. This serves two strong benefits to the song. For one, it definitely
brings “Spring Day” variety and creativity beyond just stylistic appeal. On a sonic level, for example, we find that
these rap sections are quite diverse: there are instances of faster, rigorous
pacing and also moments where the raps follow a more tranquil, rhythmic focus. Additionally,
the members’ execution—factors of flow, fluency, tone, tune, and so forth—remain
excellent. Furthermore on a structural level, because of how flexible rapping
can be with intensity compared to being confined to a typically more passive
state as are verses, “Spring Day” reaps the benefit of such by very much using
the raps for a majority of the song’s main transition points.

For
another aspect I wish to focus on, the bridge is very impressive—as noted by
its much higher rating. There are two main points that I will concisely cover
for why this is the case. The first point is that the bridge is quite suitable
both transitioning to but also out from. Admittedly the song in of
itself helps with this: consider how “Spring Day” progresses in a relatively
linear fashion, and that all shifts are with minimal fluctuations. After all,
it is not as if a transition from the pre-chorus to chorus leads us to a chorus
that is utterly transformed and upbeat. Thus, with the song already naturally
being a tight form, this aids with the bridge’s placement. But even so, it
should still be appreciated that the bridge is not inserted as an awkward point
but that its entry was soothed in by V’s stunning vocal belting and that the
follow-up afterwards was a direct return to the song’s concluding chorus. Finally,
the second point has already been touched upon: V’s singing there worked out
exceptionally well. Aurally, the vocal belting along with the lower vocal range
ends up complementing the bridge’s intended style, and as already discussed,
said vocal belting allows the bridge to be eased into smoothly.

Lastly,
for perhaps the remaining major praise worth pointing out, the instrumental is
fascinating. In a majority of other songs, I would most likely have found this
type of instrumental to be quite detrimental, and yet in “Spring Day” this type
of instrumental becomes one of its strongest assets. Specifically, I am
referring to how this instrumental “de-syncs” from rest of the song; a simple
example is to listen to the choruses and notice that the instrumental does not
perfectly mesh with the intensity of the vocals. Even more noticeably is that the
beats are not based on the vocals at all but instead are based on its own
rhythm and timings. In other words, this “de-sync”  or “off-sync” that in many cases would
oftentimes be hindering to a song as it overly shifts focus to an
indeterminable point is surprisingly helpful to the song. But why? I argue “Spring
Day” is an exception if we focus on how the vocals work in the song: focused on
being slower and “heavier” in presence—this we find by how “breathy” the vocals
can be. Thus, the instrumental ends up fitting and even benefiting the song as it
is able to replicate that pulsing, heavier style—even if, overall, the
instrumental is following its own pacing and emphasized points.

All
that said, the song still has a few weaknesses that should not be entirely
overlooked—though for the most part, admittedly they “can” be given that the
other aspects compensate. For example, the choruses, I argue, are the song’s
weakest sections and overall even aspect. The choruses have the issue of simply
dragging on far too excessively and thus, this creates a stagnant, duller flow.
We can hone in on this problem in two ways. One is we can first understand the
issues at play with the instrumental and vocals: both run in a linear fashion
and both are emulating similar styles with emphasizing heavier, pulsing moments.
The other way we can find that the choruses are too dragged is considering how
the choruses’ inner shifts—in other words, the latter half of them—are for the
most part merely time extensions to the choruses themselves. In clearer terms:
there truly are minimal changes in the choruses. That said, to return to the
instrumental being a benefit, this is where it comes into effect: given that
the instrumental and vocals—despite sharing stylistic similarities—are actually
not following the exact same path and flow, there is at least some variety
occurring. Nevertheless, the choruses are susceptible to a monotonous sound.

Regarding
another weaker aspect, the pre-choruses would be the next problem. These
sections are in a peculiar case: certainly they do their roles of transitioning
the song—this being signified with the typical hastening of beats—but the main
problem is that these sections are negligible in terms of actually providing
the song something beyond just a transitional tool. Overall, the pre-choruses sound
nothing more than an “earlier” extension of the choruses, and this is
incredibly problematic considering that the choruses are already struggling
with sounding too mundane and lengthy.

All
in all, however, “Spring Day” is still a rather solid song. The composition
involved—particularly with the unique usages of the raps—is excellent, and of
course, the members’ vocal contributions are excellent as well. Indeed: BTS can
handle “softer” songs as much as they can handle their usual powerful, stronger
and upbeat songs. While this song is still far from flawless as the choruses
really do begin sounding far appealing over various playbacks, I personally do
assert this is BTS’ best song as of yet.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, once again huge apologies for not finishing this up many weeks
ago. Thank you for both sending this in and for being very patient. I hope this
review will be worth the wait and that most importantly, it sparks an ongoing discussion
about the song and that it promotes thinking of songs in a more critical
fashion.

For
upcoming reviews, readers can look forward to the long awaited review on TWICE’s
“Knock Knock”—a song that I argue has been brilliantly composed and is one of
the most “efficient” and “accommodating” songs I have heard—and afterwards two
requests: HIGH4’s “Love Line” and a return to the past with EXO’s “Call Me
Baby.” Unfortunately “Time is so cruel” so it will take a while to get all
these reviews out, but I hope readers look forward to them.

Critical Discussion: “MAMAMOO’s Use of Blackface: Understanding How Racism is Not a Binary”

“MAMAMOO’s
Use of Blackface: Understanding How Racism is Not a Binary”

Posted on March 5, 2017

That
said, for where this post will be going, I wish to unfold the current
controversy so that everyone truly understands why the situation is a critical
one, and more importantly, I wish to address the idea that racism is a
“binary.”

Personal
Message:
Needless
to say, I am incredibly shocked and feel both disappointed at MAMAMOO for this
incident in the first place, yet I still feel incredibly proud of them for
sincerely acknowledging and apologizing for this incident. There is a lot to
discuss for this Critical Discussion and indeed, these situations are why I have this type of post: because pop
culture tends to tie into social topics—whether intended or not. More
importantly, however, when these social-related topics arise, how it is handled
is definitely of interest and arguably even telling the current norms and such in
place.

With this discussion about MAMAMOO’s
recent use of blackface for a concert, I understand it is an incredibly
sensitive topic and no matter how one feels—whether one feels “betrayed” by the
beloved ladies and is no longer a fan or that one finds that this all
miniscule—the purpose of this post is not to necessarily change or neglect how
fans currently feel on an emotional level. Every fan’s individual emotional
reaction deserves to be respected. That said, for where this post will be
going, I wish to unfold the current controversy so that everyone truly
understands why the situation is a critical one, and more importantly, I wish
to address the idea that racism is a “binary.”

By “racism binary,” I am referring
to the unspoken assumption that racism is an “either” situation; either one is
racist and a completely awful human being or that one is non-racist and is
utterly open to all racial differences. MAMAMOO’s situation provides an
excellent example of why this racism binary is false: seldom are people
entirely on one end of the spectrum and more often than not, we will find
ourselves hovering in the middle. For example, there is a concept of “implicit
bias”—biases one has not due to their
individual beliefs and actions, but rather biases one accumulates in a society. This applies to race, gender, and every
other social aspect. Without getting into the detail of how implicit bias works
as that entails a whole separate post, the point is this: for one to claim they
are utterly non-racist is unlikely. This is not
because of their own actions and beliefs—I very much believe a vast majority of
humans try their best to be ethical in the world and thus non-racist—but
because societally there are hidden messages spread throughout that can alter
one’s thinking on a very subtle level.

To use myself in an honest example
as this might make implicit bias more understandable and relatable, as many may
know given the plethora of posts that tackle social topics, readers might
assume that I genuinely am incredibly open and without biases at all. This,
obviously, is false: I am as any normal human—the only difference that I might
deserve minimal credit on is the fact that I am open on discussing these sensitive topics in the first place even if at
the risk of people then assuming I am no longer “non-racist” and other labels. To
share my biggest personal implicit bias with race—though it might be more
accurately labeled with “colorism”—it is that I do have a hidden bias that
assumes lighter skin complexion is prettier than darker skin complexion. I only
discovered this when I found myself thinking that BB creams or simply even
lotion with skin-lightening properties are great, and more specifically, when
during a summer I found myself very
much disliking how tan I was getting and how I “needed”—yes, I thought in that
particular language of necessity—to go back to looking quite pale.

These were signs that I had an
implicit bias with skin tone, and thankfully I managed to bring and address this
on a conscious level—even if, as readers can tell, these are quite disturbing
biases to consider especially since I strongly
assert that all skin complexions are beautiful—and indeed, this is true as all skin complexions are
beautiful regardless of implicit (or explicit) biases one may have. Overall
this is all to say I am a human and given my cultural background and how I am
constantly watching Korean shows where, indeed, lighter skin is considered more
beautiful, I had an implicit bias form that I now am addressing and attempting
to correct. The best step, though, is the very act of acknowledging one’s
biases and shortcomings despite how uncomfortable this may be. Whether it is
with gender, race, sexuality, class, and so forth, addressing one’s biases and
admitting to them is crucial even if current times are extremely polarized with
these topics. (For example, even my admitting of my wrongful implicit bias on
skin tone will very much put me at risk with readers for the very fact that I
admit I have this implicit bias. Again, having biases are not bad if one addresses them and corrects them
to be more ethical, but many forget this point or are simply uncomfortable with
this very admittance in the first place due to risk of then being labeled as
“utterly racist and horrible.”)

For another issue with the racism
binary, there is the risk of clumping in accidental racism from intentional,
malicious racism—even if the former sounds ridiculous. After all, readers might
be wondering: “How can one accidentally
be racist and offend a specific community? It all has to be intentional.”
Unfortunately, racism is much more complex and there are cases where one is
simply unaware—“ignorant” if we wish to say, though I dislike this word as it
carries a negative connotation—of their actions or in fact even intend to do good but end up
unintentionally being racist. I would even argue that this form of racism is
the most common form we tend to find today; seldom are people genuinely
maliciously trying to be racist, but instead, are accidentally racist—which,
again, is still an issue but it requires a different approach than a sincere
racist who is simply being a purely unethical person who very much hates on
sheer differences.  

A perfect example of “accidental
racism” is when fans of K-Pop who are non-Korean claim they “wished they were
Korean because they love Korean culture so much.” On an intentional level,
these fans are not intending to be racist at all; they genuinely are sharing
their openness, care, and respect for another culture and to the degree of
which leads to some “envy.” The issue, though, is that these fans are treating
Korean culture as a “costume” or an “exotic entity” that one throws around in a
fun, objectifying matter. Thus, what they are saying is racist even if unintended.
It is not wrong to like K-Pop or Korean culture or any other culture that one
does not belong to, but when one uses the language of “wishing to be,” in
reality it is offensive on the grounds that they are implying cultures are
clothing thrown around to be switched and changed at any moment when that is
not quite the case. (Though it should be clarified that one can assimilate into a culture and this
is fine; a Japanese individual can move to Korea and assimilate into Korean
culture, for example, and this is definitely fine and not objectifying.) As I
say, being respectful and open to other cultures is definitely great, but never
should an objectifying tone take place.

But without getting too distracted
on that topic, the point is this: sometimes people are racist without intending
to be, and in these cases—such as in MAMAMOO’s case as we will get
to—acknowledging one’s mistake and educating oneself on their shortcoming is
what is necessary—and indeed, this is what MAMAMOO is doing. With that, let us
discuss MAMAMOO’s use of blackface.

_______________________________________________________

Context:
I will link Soompi’s article
regarding this incident as I find that Soompi is oftentimes
a reliable English translated source for K-Pop news—and indeed, based on my
reading of the article, they seem to have encapsulated much of the current controversy
and have even updated the article with RBW Entertainment’s and MAMAMOO’s
apologies and reflection. As such, readers can refer to the article for the
full context of the current situation. However, what I do wish to discuss is
the concept of blackface as unless if one is from the United States, this
concept is unfamiliar or even confusing and thus, I wish to explain the
historical concept of it and the contemporary take to it.

Blackface is called such as it
involves performers quite literally blackening their faces with makeup to
appear as if they were Black individuals. Already, we see why this is
disturbing: imagine if a non-Asian decided to “dress up and look
Asian”—something that is already generalizing and objectifying to the Asian
community. Similarly, this is why fashion and makeup tutorials of “How to look
[insert race here]” are all disturbing: these tutorials are implying there is an objective look to a community, and
that is simply false. Even if this is done towards a “dominant racial group”
(by dominant I am connoting “power”; in other words, they are the racially
privileged group such as Chinese in China or Whites in the U.S.), it is still
incredibly offensive. For example, in Korea, a “How to look Korean” video is as
messed up as, in the United States, a “How to look White” video—even if, yes,
it is understandable that these would be to poke fun at the racially privileged
groups.

But without digressing too far on
that, another issue with blackface is oftentimes how grotesque it is—and we
have to understand the historical context of blackface for this. In the United
States, blackface in the past was used by White performers who would perform as
Blacks in oftentimes degrading, exaggerated manners in a way that implied
Blacks were inferior to Whites. In other words, Whites would use blackface to
pretend to be Blacks in order to create a comical show. Again, this is all
quite disturbing and this history is something to bear in mind for MAMAMOO’s
controversy and hence why people are greatly upset. In contemporary times, no
one of any race should find these atrocious past acts acceptable given how many
societies are ethically progressing. (That said, the only contemporary use of
blackface is when Blacks themselves use it as a way of getting ownership back.
This in of itself is controversial, but the idea behind this to take away
blackface as a “For Whites to oppress Blacks” to a now “Blacks are taking back
the historical damage and turning blackface into an empowering tool.” Again, I
will not discuss this in much depth as I still have minimal knowledge on this
history and have no specific stances. For those interested in the idea of
“re-owning” oppressive acts, I recommend the story “The Goophered Grapevine” by
Charles Chesnutt as it does address this idea. Without spoiling too much, an
African American character seemingly uses Black stereotypes established by
Whites in an internalized sense, but in reality, one could argue he was using
these stereotypes to outwit and prevent Whites from buying his estate and thus
was taking oppressive acts and stereotypes and turning them into empowering
ones.)

English major nerdiness aside, I
hope this all provides context to what MAMAMOO did, and why blackface in a
historical sense is incredibly negative and why current uses of it—especially
if not by Blacks to “re-own” blackface—can be quite controversial as it carries
the roots of historical damage Whites have done towards Blacks in the United
States. (And again, given how sensitive this topic is, I highly emphasize historical damage—though obviously
current work is still needed in the United States for race. Point is, I wish to
emphasize the historical point as I do not wish readers who are White to feel
“responsible” per se; yes, Whites in the United States have racial privilege
and thus are responsible on this end and understanding their racial privilege,
but never should Whites be bashed specifically
for creating blackface when it is a historical piece. But, even my stance on
this is controversial though I argue it is the most humane and balanced view
versus the extreme ends that claim “Whites should take no responsibility at all
for the past” and “Whites are entirely responsible and need to pay for the
past.” Again, there is a responsibility of racial privilege in current times,
but it should not extend all the way to the past.)

Let us now discuss MAMAMOO in
specific and see how we, as fans of the ladies (or even K-Pop in general),
continue on from this incident.

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
Since I already addressed the
“racism binary” and why there are issues with it, I wish to hone in on the
concept of “unintentional racism” as I argue this is the case with MAMAMOO. I
strongly doubt MAMAMOO and RBW Entertainment were intending to mock a specific
community; rather, it is likely they were trying to very much get into their
performance and truly immerse themselves via appearance as they were covering American
pop artist Bruno Mars’s music video. While I have not seen the actual footage
yet, knowing the ladies I bet their performance was very much simply covering
the song in perhaps an upbeat, fun manner. Was race the complete reason with
why they were using blackface? Not necessarily as, again, they were most likely
focused on the music and not attempting to mock a community at all. But, this does not mean they are free
from responsibility; they had good intentions but still ended up using blackface—a highly derogatory, negative act.
So what do we make of this?

For one, fans need to stop using the
racism binary with now automatically equating MAMAMOO as “racist” and evil
women. If anything, this might be the worst idea given that MAMAMOO, from
admittedly my biased perspective as a fan, is one of the more aware K-Pop
groups of their international fans. Furthermore, the ladies and their label
company tend to be more “open”—and more so if we bear in mind many Asian
countries are still “conservative.” For example, MAMAMOO very much desires to
release songs that empower women (and hence the extremely high ratio that
favors female to male fans for MAMAMOO) and with having a song that explores
the idea of gender as a performance—the iconic “Um Oh Ah Yeah” music video—I
find it quite disappointing that fans are turning away from MAMAMOO with ideas
of “they have only been racist this whole time” and such. Now this is not to
excuse their actions, but indeed, we need to realize that a quick label of
“MAMAMOO is racist” gets no one anywhere—and this applies for everything
besides just MAMAMOO.

(On a personal note, I hate the
terms of “liberal” and “conservative” that I have to connote here and more so
if it ties into politics which I never will discuss on this blog; I find these
terms absolutely silly as seldom are people in one category. For example, while
I consider myself socially ethical as
my social views are based ethics and not so much politics or whatever else, I
am easily still labeled as “liberal” in this regard. However, I find that this
one label is insufficient as I know for sure I have and do strongly abide to
specific “conservative” beliefs. For example, I am highly against “hookup culture”—the idea of essentially casual
sexual intercourse—as I have my own beliefs about sex that are, obviously,
“conservative.” And to my surprise, sharing this personal view of mine was
utterly shocking and somewhat appalling to a class and this was when I
discovered there are so many issues with these labels. So, on one hand I am
“liberal” and yet “conservative” on the other and this simple example is why I
dislike those binary labels.)

And so, while fans need to stop
bashing MAMAMOO with labeling them as racist, we still need to understand that
their usage of blackface is still inappropriate. Fans who are offended and
upset are right to feel this way, and that is because even if MAMAMOO was
unintentional with this racist-based act, it still is racist. Thankfully, MAMAMOO and RBW Entertainment have
acknowledged this and are educating themselves on why blackface is
inappropriate—the very fact that they have done this acknowledgement is a
testament to that fact that they do care (and equally openly mentioning that
they wish to include fans of all race, gender, sexuality, and so forth). Also
to bear in mind is that with South Korea being a rather homogenous society,
blackface is perhaps a foreign concept to them—no pun intended on “foreign.” Thus,
the social and racial implications were perhaps something MAMAMOO and their company
were completely unaware of. But as said, they are not to be excused and this is
also something I urge fans to be aware of. While fans should not go to the
extreme of bashing MAMAMOO as racist, neither should fans let this incident
disappear or minimize their use of blackface as something forgettable.

_______________________________________________________

Conclusion:
Where does this all take us now? For
one, this incident reminds us all that racism still needs to be addressed in a
sociological sense—that the racism binary is false and needs to go away if
further progress is to be made. Racism is not an “either” situation as said,
and until that binary goes away, it will be difficult to ever deal with racism
in an upfront manner. After all, what do we glean from discussions that merely
go “MAMAMOO is racist, go away” or “MAMAMOO is not racist and are perfect; you
all are overreacting”? Nothing. To quite literally quote my sociology
professor, “Racism is like smog; we can’t find who is responsible but we all
are responsible for cleaning it up.” This is incredibly true for not just
MAMAMOO’s situation, but for discussions of racism everywhere. Instead of using
racism as a labeling game, fans and MAMAMOO need to instead directly address
racism as a concept. This means addressing implicit biases, acknowledging mistakes,
and ultimately striving to become a more open, compassionate, ethical, better
human being.

All in all, what MAMAMOO did was
incredibly wrong and was racist, but fans need to understand they never
intended to be malicious and racist. Nevertheless, acknowledging of their unintentionally
racism has to occur, and furthermore, the need to understand why blackface is racist is crucial. What
is most amazing to me, though, is the fact that MAMAMOO and RBW Entertainment
have done so: They have acknowledged their use of blackface is racist and
offensive, and they are educating themselves on why blackface is wrong and on
how to prevent future incidents like these from occurring. This growth not as
MAMAMOO but simply as four women trying to do better for others is what needs
to be cherished most. Although I oftentimes hold MAMAMOO as an example of how
all artists should be, I personally find that their acknowledgement and strive
towards improvement with their racist blunder to further prove that point. This is how one addresses racism and
makes progress—not by denying that it was not racist, not caring, or doing
whatever they can to assure others “I am not racist.” Instead, acknowledging their
mistake and then working to educate themselves so that they are more socially aware
and inclusive is what needs to occur.

As for fans, the same should occur
but in regards to removing the racism binary: fans need to understand and
educate themselves on the racism binary, on why MAMAMOO and RBW Entertainment
thought blackface was fine (in other words, understanding South Korea’s
situation with being a homogenous society), and ultimately, fans need to
realize how to be respectful yet still
assertive
with openly calling out their beloved idols. To the fans—both Korean
and international—who did not hesitate to critique MAMAMOO’s actions but did so
in a respectful, calm manner, huge credit to them.

While I hope these incidents become
far and few in the future of K-Pop, I also hope growth occurs for everyone.
Remember: racism is smog; let us stop playing the blaming and labeling binary game,
and let us instead all work together—regardless of our own race—towards a
future where race can be discussed in
a respectful, open manner. Then, perhaps, in the future racism in of itself
will disappear—or at least, discussions can occur and growth will be encouraged
and that no one will be automatically bashed as “racist and evil.”

_______________________________________________________

Given how controversial this topic
is, I assume this post will not render entirely well with everyone. With
MAMAMOO’s situation, as said, how one feels will ultimately be their decision—though
I urge that it is based in critical thinking. Certainly the racism binary needs
to be challenged, but even that can be controversial as some do strongly
believe that one is either entirely non-racist or one is entirely racist. No
matter one’s stances, I simply assert the idea that we need to all be open and
respectful of our various views. Through discussion and maturity will actual
progress be made. For me, I remain a fan of MAMAMOO and to me despite this
incident, they are still my role models—in fact, perhaps even more so as how
they are handling the situation with acknowledging their mistakes and striving
for improvement is truly admirable (even if what they did was not so). However,
even if one is no longer a fan, this is understandable and needs to be
respected.

All in all, I hope this post
provides some deeper insight to the situation especially in a sociological lens
and for those who find this post relevant for its discussion, I do encourage
sharing this around. Ultimately, readers will have to decide on what they think
though in a respectful, thoughtful manner.

Regarding upcoming reviews, BTS’ “Spring
Day” will be out in a few more days, and afterwards TWICE’s  “Knock Knock” will have a relatively thorough
review. After that I have a request for HIGH4’s “Love Line,” and from there we
will see where the remaining posts take us.

hey, thanks for your review! it was objective and insightful as always. it took me a little while to get what you meant about the chorus, but after listening to the song multiple times i get what you mean and i agree haha, it’s a little choppy? and draggy?. i still enjoy the instrumental (perhaps because i’m a very bass-happy person? i’m not sure) and to some extent enjoy the wavelike flowiness of the chorus but thank you for pointing out that flaw, it’s really interesting to think about!

Hello. You’re welcome, though as said I owe you a huge apologies for delaying the request for quite some time. So thank you for being so patient. And of course with my reviews, if you find the instrumental (and even the song overall) enjoyable, do not lose that personal opinion. The main goal of reviews is to get readers to really think deeply about a song–that is the ultimately goal and I am very glad to hear that the review did such for you. 

Once again thank you for being patient and sending the request in, and thank you for taking the time to really think about songs you listen to.

Critical Discussion: “Phone Equalizers: AtrocityCL’s Personal Guide to Bass Boosting”

“Phone
Equalizers: AtrocityCL’s Personal Guide to Bass Boosting”

Posted on February 28, 2017

There
should be a peculiar detail noticed: unlike what many oftentimes do, I
ironically am not bass boosting as much as I am treble reducing. This appears completely contradicting: is the
point of bass boosting not to increase the bass frequencies’ volume? Contrary
to the thinking of many—and perhaps even common sense—this actually should not
be done if one is attempting to produce the clearest possible sound quality.

Personal
Message:
Unfortunately,
the request I am working on—BTS’ “Spring Day” (which is full of many praises to
somewhat leak the review)—will not be finished in time for February. As a
result, I have decided to instead switch posts and will instead be ending this
shorter month with a bonus post that addresses music in a technical sense. That
said, I openly admit this: I have minimal knowledge with the technicalities of
music beyond, such as in this post, very basic principles. As a result, this
post is not meant to be an expertise-level resource; this post, then, is here
only to begin a discussion on “bass boosting” and “bass” in songs in general,
and ultimately I hope it at least provides some help to readers who desire to
figure out a “proper”—again, a very loose sense of that word—method to manually
bass boost songs on their phones within an equalizer.

For other news, I have somewhat
updated my “About” page on the blog after many months. In short, I merely added
some clarifications on the purposes of reviews and equally have clarified and
even apologized for older posts when it came to discussing social topics as,
indeed, I had done a horrible job of conducting those discussions in the past.
Ultimately my stances are still ones I very much hold true—for example, that all
human beings are ethically responsible to
treat sexual minorities with dignity and respect as they would with
heterosexuals. What, then, I apologize for are not my stances; rather, I
apologize for the way I discussed
those topics—or the lack thereof as, for example, I would passive-aggressively
bash males when discussing sexism when that is rather counter-intuitive and not
addressing the matter at hand. Overall, social discussions that occur on this
blog—which, again, only occur if they relate to K-Pop as it is important to care for K-Pop beyond
entertainment and music—are now focused on attempting to find an answer to how
humans can peacefully, maturely, intellectually, and respectfully discuss and
be open to various views.

So, for an actual example of what
discussions look like nowadays,
Fiestar’s “Apple Pie”
had a discussion about feminism but I attempted to do
so in a balanced manner. Specifically, the tension here was whether Cao Lu’s
remark on a certain show was inappropriate or not, and rather than merely
siding with the main feminist take that it was highly inappropriate (refer to
the link for context), I took another
perspective that, though quite different, was ultimately still a feminist
perspective that posed a genuine challenge to many people’s thinking. Instead
of attempting to persuade readers to automatically bash Cao Lu as being sexist
and so forth, I wanted readers to be more critical especially since many were throwing
very serious terms around. Was Cao Lu’s remark sexist or not? That does not
matter as much as discussing the core tension at play that her remark secretly
brought up: What does feminism look
like? It is this type of balanced, mature tone and deeper, critical thinking
that I now implement in social discussions, and this is what I hope the new
“About” page clarifies. (And I do hope readers take interest in the linked post
and social discussion. Many readers would be surprised to find how convoluted
feminism actually is—though indeed, feminism is here to stay and allows both
men and women to really dive into the topic of gender.)

But serious topics aside, let us now
focus on the current post. I have chosen the medium of cell phones as I do wish
to make this “applicable” to all readers. (And if somehow I have readers who
are not a part of this blog’s usual audience and are not fans of K-Pop or even
know of K-Pop’s existence, I hope this post will still equally be applicable
and helpful.) Especially with how many listen to their songs via cell phones,
this medium definitely serves as the most relevant to readers. Furthermore, I
hope to also discuss later in the guide the misconception that “the more bass,
the better” as that is incredibly false if
one is speaking in an objective sense versus a joking, casual manner.
Again, we will discuss this in more depth later. Overall, the main goal of this
post is to not just provide a simple equalizer guide to bass boosting on cell
phones, but I also hope to explain the critical question: why? This is where we get to dive into simpler musical
technicalities, and since readers sometimes wonder about the technical aspect
of music versus just the abstract, theoretical discussions that take place in
reviews, I hope this will satisfy those who are curious.

(Lastly to note, this bass boosting
guide is assuming one is using earbuds or headphones. Bass boosting for cell
phones’ speakers might require different settings—and ultimately does not even
matter as unless if once has actual speakers, phones’ speakers are worthless in
lower frequencies. Also to note, one’s listening apparatus will very much
influence the outputted lower frequencies heard; bass boosting in an equalizer
is not the only variable involved to hearing more bass sounds. Some earbuds are
awful with outputting lower sounds, but nevertheless changes in equalizer
settings should help but this should be noted.)

_______________________________________________________

Guide:
First of all, before the guide
itself begins, we must address the fundamental question: What is an equalizer?
How can I access my phone’s equalizer? To answer the first part, without getting
utterly technical and accurate, an equalizer is a place where one can modify
certain frequencies’ volumes—and yes, I am referring to specific ranges of
frequencies. As some may know, songs we hear are in a very rough sense made up
of different numerical frequencies, and to change those frequencies’ corresponding
volume, an equalizer is needed. We will get into actual directions and so forth
later, but this conceptual idea is why bass boosting works: one literally
boosts the volume of lower frequencies so that the bass is heard more
prevalently. (And this applies to all other frequencies; so if one wants to
treble boost—the opposite of bass boost—that is possible as well.) That is all
there is to it. Regarding how one accesses their phone’s equalizer, it is
oftentimes within their music player app’s settings. This obviously varies per
app, but indeed is it within the app itself or perhaps even in a phone’s
general sound settings. That said, oftentimes music players do come with
built-in custom settings so perhaps one may find that there is already a
default “bass boost.” This guide is still relevant, however, as perhaps some
may find that their default bass boost is too strong or weak and thus, the
guide here might help as one could merely increase the dB (decibel) changes to
higher levels.

The following is my personal bass
boosting guide and some
justifications for such—this latter being most important as it is seldom shared
or explained. Also, my phone’s modifiable frequencies are these (in hertz): 60;
150; 400; 1000; 3000; 8000; and 16000. Readers’ phones might vary drastically
or end up being similar; should there be differences, I hope at least a general
understanding occurs and that one is able to improvise if necessary.

Here are the dB changes I have
applied for each frequency:

60 Hz: +2 dB

150 Hz: +2 dB

400 Hz: +0 dB (0 dB is unchanged)

1000 Hz: +0 dB

3000 Hz: -1 dB

8000 Hz: +0 dB

16000 Hz: -6 dB

To explain my reasoning behind such,
first let us think in a general sense. There should be a peculiar detail noticed:
unlike what many oftentimes do, I ironically am not bass boosting as much as I
am treble reducing. This appears
completely contradicting: is the point of bass boosting not to increase the
bass frequencies’ volume? Contrary to the thinking of many—and perhaps even
common sense—this actually should not be done if one is attempting to produce
the clearest possible sound quality while still upping the bass volume.

For why this is the case, we have to
understand the issue of distortion (basically when a sound starts losing its
clarity and crispness). When it comes to boosting a frequency, the highest dB
change that I personally find to still be effective with minimal to no
distortion is only +3. Anything higher and distortion starts occurring and
becomes quite audible. Thus, when one looks at the actual bass ranges I am
modifying—60 Hz and 150 Hz (bass range is 60 Hz to 250 Hz if correct)—I have
only done +2. This ensures there are no distortions (or at least are far from
audible) and still boosts the range we are intending to hear more in volume.
Nonetheless, this alone is not sufficient at all and that is where we need to
look at other options. The solution: if we cannot go higher than +3 dB, we can reduce the volume of higher frequencies.

With 16000 Hz, I have given it a
very significant decrease: -6 dB which does a lot of minimizing of volume for
this frequency. Now readers may be wondering, “Why am I able to go -6 dB if +3
is the max without distortion?” This is where we need to understand that unlike
boosting, reducing is far easier and has no distortion whatsoever. Why this is
the case in a physical, scientific sense? I honestly have no idea; my excuse is
that I am an English and secondary education double major and thus cannot give
an answer. I suggest readers researching the answer as it fundamental concept
to understand if one wishes to truly know the technicalities involved. But,
indeed, we know the results: reducing the treble frequencies is our solution.

So, how exactly does this
significant reduction that occurs towards 16000 Hz help with bass boosting? The
result from doing such is that the proportion
of our frequencies are now in a certain ratio so that in order to still hear a
standard volume of 16000 Hz sounds, one would need to increase the overall
volume by a lot and doing so also
makes the bass sound louder as well in respect to the overall volume. This is
all far too confusing in words, so let me simplify this with a few diagrams and
actual examples.

At default settings (+0 dB for all
frequencies), we will assume that at Volume 10 MAMAMOO’s “Decalcomanie” is
appropriately loud. However, the listener desires more bass to be heard and so
she applies the bass boost settings.

Now with bass boost settings, we
find that at Volume 10, “Decalcomanie” is actually too quiet. This is because
the reduction at 16000 Hz reduces a lot of the sounds our listener hears, and
also her boosts towards 60 Hz and 150 Hz also somewhat drowns out the lighter
frequencies that she would normally hear if she were running a default
equalizer setting. So, in order to hear at a normal, listening volume, she goes
all the way up to Volume 15. This, though, is not “louder” than if “Decalcomanie”
was playing at Volume 10 with default settings; instead, the song overall
sounds the same before but it now has
more bass involved. This might still be confusing so we will now go to diagrams
explaining. (And by diagrams, I mean a slightly more visual version than just
reading text.)

DEFAULT EQUALIZER: (Percentage shows
how much is “heard”; numbers are made up but the general idea should be there)

Overall Volume: 10

60 Hz: 100%

150 Hz: 100%

400 Hz: 100%

1000 Hz: 100%

3000 Hz: 100%

8000 Hz: 100%

16000 Hz: 100%

BASS BOOST EQUALIZER:

Overall Volume: 10

60 Hz: 120%

150 Hz: 120%

400 Hz: 100%

1000 Hz: 100%

3000 Hz: 90%

8000 Hz: 100%

16000 Hz: 50%

Here we notice what I am attempting
to get at. At Volume 10, our listener finds that she is lacking her usual 16000
Hz sounds—this being physically heard by the fact that the song is actually
slightly quieter in general. (For those with pre-made bass boost settings, try
this experiment: switch from that to the default and then back to it and
readers should notice that with bass boost active, the volume to their songs
seems reduced. This is a rough
explanation at why this is the case.) In order to fix this, our listener simply
turns up the volume. Now look at the results:

BASS BOOST EQUALIZER:

Overall Volume: 15

60 Hz: 160%

150 Hz: 160%

400 Hz: 100%

1000 Hz: 100%

3000 Hz: 100%

8000 Hz: 100%

16000 Hz: 100%

Again, this is far from an actual
portrayal of what occurs especially as the other Hz are not bothered with, but
my point is this: bass boosting and treble reducing literally reduce a song’s
overall volume because it reduces certain sounds, but once the overall volume
is increased again so that it sounds as it is with default settings, we notice
that the bass is much stronger because in order to hear the same usual higher
frequencies, the bass frequencies—which are partially boosted—seem louder in proportion to the other frequencies. Once
again, the numbers I am using are not accurate and do not matter per se; these
diagrams are just to showcase the idea of the sounds being in proportion and
hence why equalizers work the way they work. As said earlier, one could see
this at work if their music playing app features its own pre-made bass boost setting:
the bass is never actually boosted in of itself per se, but rather everything
else but the bass is quieter so that
when the volume is increased, the bass seems louder because everything else but
the bass was already reduced in sound. This, in short, is what I am getting at.

_______________________________________________________

Conclusion: For the most part, if readers are
merely looking for a guide for an equalizer setting that is bass boosting, the
one I listed above should be reliable. Admittedly my explanation regarding why those settings work in the first
place might be unclear, but this might be one of those cases where readers
might just have to nod their hands and smile and wave. Of course, though, these
settings are not perfect and are indeed modifiable so that readers can increase
or reduce the amount of bass boosting that occurs, but the most important takeaway
is for one to understand that bass boosting is not literally bass boosting. This is one that many in general are
confused about—and I do not blame people; it is highly counterintuitive that
bass boosting consists of treble reducing
as well.

And on that note, another
misconception is that the more bass the better in an objective sense. If a listener finds that he loves his music to be
blasting with bass frequencies, then by all means he should be allowed to do
so. But, should a listener go around spreading her false information that more
bass is objectively better, that is
quite problematic. Excessive bass runs the risk of muddling out too many
sounds, and especially if one is being an active listener and is critically
thinking about songs’ compositions and production, excessive bass is
questionable. But, of course, general bass boosting is fine—and indeed, I
personally do review songs with a bass boost equalizer in place and I find that
this is beneficial as default settings fail to capture the bass involved with
songs.

All in all, I hope this post proves
helpful for those wondering how to work their equalizer or for those who have
always been curious as to how their
equalizer worked in the first place to bring them more bass, treble, and so
forth. Again, I am by no means an expert at all with sound in a technical sense
and admittedly I care more for songs’ theoretical discussion within an amateur
lens, but I think it is important to bear an open mind for even the technical
aspect of music. As always, readers who would like to send in corrections are
always welcomed by sending it via a question. (But, I will not accept
corrections on my diagrams’ numbers as, obviously, the point there is not on
the numbers themselves but rather the proportions that occur—even if mathematically
that is false as well.)

_______________________________________________________

With February ending and March
beginning, let us look forward to a more productive month. February was much
weaker than I intended it to be, but March will be started off with many
wonderful songs. In particular I am dying to review TWICE’s “Knock Knock” as I
have much praising towards the composers because of how efficient and accommodating
the song is for TWICE’s members, but we will save that discussion for after a
request on BTS’ “Spring Day”—another song that is well composed and has an
incredibly interesting idea with its instrumental that works out very well despite
it being a riskier one.

Thank you to all for reading this,
and for those curious on the next “technical” post in the far future, I finally wish to directly
address the misconception involved with “MR Removed” videos and lip-syncing and
whether live singing is a true, reliable testament to an idol’s vocal
capabilities. A very touchy subject and one that needed to be addressed long
ago when MR Removed was a trending idea, so if nothing else comes from this future post then I hope at least my
discussion on it will keep the topic dormant. (Indeed, readers can tell my
position regarding them: I find them highly unreliable, and even in the case of
them being accurate, MR Removed completely disregards composers and producers
and what it means to actually actively listen to music. MR Removed, in my
opinion, encourages a “hunting” game that not only gives minimal respect, but
it goes to the point of being disrespectful
to idols, composers, producers, and so forth.)