Day6 – “I Smile” Review

(Music Video)

Day6 – I Smile

Reviewed
on August 2, 2017

Initially,
I did find it a weaker song but after spending more time analyzing it—and thus,
perhaps the delay was worthwhile—I found its composition to be quite effective
and even creative. Specifically for what this review will cover, I will first
actually explain why I and perhaps others might find “I Smile” problematic.
Afterwards, however, I will then explain why “I Smile” can be argued as a
stronger song and that the seemingly weak aspects are actually quite effective
and beneficial.

Personal Message:
There is a lot to discuss—both in
terms of the slight delays but also in term of songs to review. Nevertheless, I
do want to directly apologize once again to readers and requesters for being
slightly behind schedule. I have been busy practicing driving (and of which I
can finally do even if at a rookie level) but also, my girl (my dog to clarify)
had a stomach ache yesterday and thus I have been watching over her. On the
positive side, she is feeling better and in terms of reviews, August is the
month where I really prepare for university again and therefore it means
developing appropriate habits once more: sleeping early and waking up early;
having a set goal of writing every day; and so forth. For what I am also quite
excited about, GFriend’s comeback is a rather solid song and definitely redeems
“Fingertip” as, in my argument, it was a weaker song. (That said, I will credit
their company for taking the risk of changing GFriend’s conceptual style for “Fingertip.”
Conceptual changes can definitely be helpful as it allows artists to branch out
musically and with their dancing.) I will definitely be reviewing it promptly
after catching up on requests.

On topic with the review, this
request was sent in quite a long time ago and I greatly apologize for not
getting to it until now. Again, with the mentioned personal events I do hope it
is understood on why there is a delay—though to be fair, I did spend a lot of
free time watching Idol Drama Operation
Team
versus writing (and indeed I will be reviewing that show and its
resulting drama). Regarding Day6’s “I Smile,” this song has definitely been a
fascinating one to review. Initially, I did find it a weaker song but after
spending more time analyzing it—and thus, perhaps the delay was worthwhile—I
found its composition to be quite effective and even creative. Specifically for
what this review will cover, I will first actually explain why I and perhaps
others might find “I Smile” problematic. Afterwards, however, I will then
explain why “I Smile” can be argued as a stronger song and that the seemingly
weak aspects are actually quite effective and beneficial.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion: 6/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 6/10

It has been a while
I didn’t think you would call first
“If you’re free, let’s meet up”
How can I say no to that?

It’s half excitement, half fear
Because what if you notice,
that I still miss you?

But today, I smile
Even though it hurts, I smile
In front of you
I pretend that I’m fine
I pretend that I’m okay
I have to
I smile, I smile
So once in a while
We can meet with a smile
I must smile, I smile

You’re the same
Your smile is still so pretty

Really,
if I could be honest
I would ask you to come back to me
right away

But today, I smile
Even though it hurts, I smile
In front of you
I pretend that I’m fine
I pretend that I’m okay
I have to
I smile, I smile
So once in a while
We can meet with a smile
I must smile, I smile

(Oh whoa, oh whoa)
After we say goodbye
My smile will disappear

But today, I smile
Even though it hurts, I smile
Until the end
I pretend that I’m fine
I pretend that I’m okay
I have to
I smile, I smile
So once in a while
We can meet with a smile
I must smile, I smile

[Conclusion instrumental]

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Onto
the review, admittedly the main focus will surprisingly not be on the song’s
entirety at all; our main focus will instead be on the song’s choruses. This
can definitely come off as odd especially for those curious on how the verses
and pre-choruses and the like are functioning, but I find that what truly
brings an interesting discussion are the choruses and hence why I would like to
primarily focus on them. Besides, in terms of what can be noted regarding the
other sections, it is that every other section is arguably structured in a way
so that the choruses are indeed the song’s main highlight and presence. We can
see this in how the pre-choruses and verses are rather minimal in length, and
that most of their effects are orientated around building up the song to reach
the choruses—hence the shorter lengths and why the instrumental is
exceptionally passive until the choruses hit.  

Now
regarding an actual discussion on the choruses, I did mention that there are
some potential problems in this song and indeed it mostly comes down to the
choruses. Before discussing, though, why I think the choruses are actually
quite effective and are actually not problematic, it would first be helpful to
approach the choruses in a more negative manner. Specifically for what may
deter listeners, we have to acknowledge that the choruses are seemingly
disorganized and seem to lack a direction. For example, what is most peculiar
is how the vocals are not directly connected to the instrumental. While the
vocals are delivering a seamless line, the instrumental instead opts to deliver
in a rhythmic, wave-like manner. This can be most prominently heard by how the
bass and drums come in a pattern where the songs are strong but diminishing
over time and such a cycle repeats. On the other hand, the vocals do not follow
that manner at all and instead follow a more standard style of merely flowing
out. Especially as Day6 is a pop rock band, it would be expected that the
instrumental during the choruses would merely increase in intensity and supplement
the vocals rather than, as is, contrasting the vocals. (In fact, a simple
listening at “I’m Serious” showcases the traditional pop rock format—barring
the unique vocal editing that is done. But, that is a discussion for another
time.) Furthermore, this problem is further emphasized when the latter half of
the choruses arrives: the vocals and instrumental are even more divisive. This
occurs due to how the vocals follow a linear, belting style and yet the instrumental
continues to instead focus on being based on a rigid rhythm.

And
so, we now come to the supposed problem of “I Smile”: the choruses seem to be
performing two tasks and once and do not have a clear focus at all. After all,
in a more typical pop rock song, the instrumental and vocals would be
complementing each other and working as one unit rather than, in “I Smile” ‘s
case, as two units. The vocals aim to deliver a smooth, clean style while the
instrumental delivers a more rigid, rhythm-based style. All that said, I do
disagree that this is problematic: I find that if we focus merely on stylistic
differences then this argument would hold, but once we start understanding the context of what occurs, then will we
come to a different answer. And of course this holds true for all songs: just
because in a section not all the components are working as one unit does not
mean it is automatically bad; it all depends on the context. (Though to briefly
spoil an upcoming review, there are still instances where indeed the “lack of a
direction” can be very detrimental and that is what I argue is the case for EXO’s
latest comeback song.) But on topic, let us now view the choruses in a
different manner.

I
argue the choruses are quite effective despite its odd, contrasting nature
because we have to notice what the instrumental is actually offering to the
song. The instrumental does not have its own objective but rather we could
interpret it as the composers using the instrumental to further build upon the
song and vocals. While the vocals are taking place, the instrumental’s
stronger, rhythm form could be viewed as a way of building up the song akin to, for example, a pre-chorus does—though
obviously this is occurring within the choruses themselves. The slower nature
of the instrumental, then, is almost as if it is working as a staircase for the
song and vocals to climb even further up in terms of intensity and hype. This
would also then explain why the choruses are noticeably split into two forms:
the first half and second half. The second half also now ends up feeling more
logical as, while the instrumental still does sharply contrast the vocals by
still working in waves, the instrumental during the second half is distinctly
calmer and reduces the song’s excitement. It is like, if we are to continue
using the staircase analogy, a staircase that goes down rather than up. Overall, with this view of the instrumental,
rather than merely seeing it as unfitting or creating an unnecessary contrast to
the vocals and ruining the song’s cohesion, we can instead view the
instrumental as a staircase for both the vocals and song in general to ascend
and descend.

Ultimately,
though, this is where readers should be reminded that song reviews are never to
be objective but merely are to provide a discussion. Day6’s “I Smile” has the
perfect situation of where its choruses can be argued as both a strength and
weakness, and indeed: there are no right answers at all. In my case, I argue
the choruses are cleverly composed but one can also see the potential downsides
the choruses bring. Nonetheless, “I Smile” is a decent song if viewed from its
entirety. The verses and pre-choruses are concise in their structural function
of getting the song to its choruses—its core section—and yet are still
sonically appealing. Likewise, with the vocals being impressive and the lyrics
also delivering a relatively detailed story despite the ironic fact that the
lyrics are shorter, “I Smile” ends up holding well. Additionally, with being
the pop-rock genre, it can be difficult to distinguish one’s music but I find
that “I Smile” manages to very much render as its own, unique take to the
genre.

_______________________________________________________

This
review ended up being far shorter than I intended, but given that I focused on
purely one section, it is to be expected. To the requester, once again I
apologize for the delays and for perhaps not completely dissecting the song to
its every detail. But, since the choruses are what matters most to “I Smile”
and are where the composition decisions can be argued from various views, I
hope the review still brings some new insight to the song.

EXO’s
“Ko Ko Bop” is the next requested review. Afterwards we will have G-reyish’s “Johnny
GoGo” for review. Unfortunately, while recent reviews might lean towards more
praises than criticisms, I cannot say the same for the mentioned two songs. In
fact, these two songs might be the most critical reviews yet but that is the
beauty of reviews: it generates discussions and I hope to encourage
disagreements and to remind readers that there is nothing wrong with disagreeing
with others. What matters is doing such in a respectful, thoughtful manner.
Look forward to the next reviews, and until then, “I smile, I smile.” This
makes no sense whatsoever but neither would any other lines from the songs. Let
us just end the review here and instead focus on EXO’s “Ko Ko Bop.”