Sunmi – “Gashina” Review

(Music Video)

Sunmi – Gashina/Leaving

Reviewed on December 31, 2017

With “Gashina,” although it is not a weak song per se, I hesitate to praise it as a
stronger song. Overall, while the song certainly excels with its performance
value (such as with its choreography and on-stage appeal) and does have a
powerful, alluring instrumental, I find that—especially if focusing purely on
the music—there are two significant concerns: disappointing climaxes and excessively segmenting the song.

Personal Message:
I hope readers all had wonderful
holidays to celebrate—or if none, then at least wonderful, regular days. Personally,
while my winter break started off rather rough, everything managed to work out
in the end. For a highlight so far of my break, seeing my little cousin from
Hong Kong is endearing. Perhaps I am at the age where fatherly instincts are
kicking in, but I find myself adoring children nowadays—that or it might be due
to advancing further in my teaching career and thus, I appreciate children and
teenagers even more. Either way, children are adorable and sweet and I hope in
the far future I have the privilege to be a parent. Though that said, I
arguably am already a parent: to Venus, my dog.

Onto more serious and relevant
topics, this review will finally be addressing a request sent three months ago:
Sunmi’s “Gashina.” Afterwards, I also have another request to finally get to. I
deeply apologize to requesters for the significant delays. Also, given how
hectic the holidays have been with family gatherings, this review might be far
shorter than usual—and in fact, many of the “catch-up” reviews will inevitably
spill into January. Nevertheless, I hope to address the core concerns and
strengths at play in “Gashina.”

With “Gashina,” although it is not a
weak song per se, I hesitate to praise it as a stronger song. Overall, while
the song certainly excels with its performance value (such as with its
choreography and on-stage appeal) and does have a powerful, alluring
instrumental, I find that—especially in a musical orientated view—there are two
significant concerns: disappointing climaxes and excessively segmenting the
song.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(5.50/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 5/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.67/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 3/10

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 4/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 6/10

[Introduction instrumental]

Your cold eyes,
they kill me
The fire in your heart that used to grow,
why are there only ashes remaining?
Maybe time is medicine
But I’m getting weaker
The sad pain
is getting numb, too

Fine, I’ll forget you
I’m going to live like a flower
I’ll be myself
Can’t nobody stop me now
No
Try me
Everyone wants my scent
But only you don’t know, like a fool
Are you sure you’re not crazy?
Why are you leaving the pretty me here
and going?

You’re leaving me here
You’re leaving me so easily
You promised we’d go together
But you’re leaving, leaving

You’ll see me all sharp
and you’ll bow your head low
My thorns will
dig deeper in you, yeah
You already bent and twisted me
So don’t act like you’re sorry
But the one who’s really twisted,
it’s not me, it’s you

Fine, I’ll forget you
I’m going to live like a flower
I’ll be myself
Can’t nobody stop me now
No
Try me
Everyone wants my scent
But only you don’t know, like a fool
Are you sure you’re not crazy?
Why are you leaving the pretty me here
and going?

You’re leaving me here
You’re leaving me so easily
You promised we’d go together
But you’re leaving, leaving

You have withered, I have bloomed
And it’s over
Even if you want to come back
You may seem like you’ll be fine
without me right now,
but no matter how much I think about it:
Are you sure you’re not crazy?
Why are you leaving the pretty me here
and going?

You’re leaving me here
You’re leaving me so easily
You promised we’d go together
But you’re leaving, leaving

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: With
the first concern, I am referring specifically to the choruses—a section that
oftentimes carries the climaxing role of songs. Now, on the surface, my concern
seems unwarranted: the chorus is a rather explicit climax and, in many ways, seemingly
does serve that role well. It takes the build up from the verses and pre-choruses
and then transitions the song into a song break that emphasizes heavier bass
and beats along with using the song’s iconic lines.

However,
while I do agree with these points, I find that if we zoom in more closely to
the choruses, we find an issue with consistency
and that ruins the climaxing that occurs. During the first half of the
choruses, the slowing pace and manipulation of deeper sounds fit with the song
in whole. With how “Gashina” was composed, each section is sharply distinct
from the other: the verses function with an average pacing; the pre-choruses
function with a dramatic slowing; and the choruses—if focusing on just the
first half—provide an instrumental-focused, slow rhythm and pacing. And, though
the choruses are interestingly the least energetic parts of “Gashina,” it still
works as a climax as listeners will know that the calmest part of the song is
indeed still the climax. But, as hinted, this consistency is not in place: the
choruses at their second half begin to then switch to what listeners would
normally expect as a climax: a more hastened and stronger delivery. Although
this midway chorus transformation does help listeners easily grasp that this is
the climactic part, I argue it disturbs both the song’s supposedly distinct,
individualistic sections and also potentially confuses listeners over what is
the song’s climax. Is it the chorus’ initial, dramatic slowing with the heavy
instrumental, or is it the lighter part where the vocals come back into play? Though
both are, realistically, the answer, I find that this lack of consistency is
troublesome. If the composers were aiming to have a dynamic climax and
choruses, the two types should have been connected more easily rather than, in
its current state, essentially having two choruses in one.

And
with this topic, it also relates into the second critique: excessively
segmenting the song. More clearly, I am referring to how “Gashina” ultimately suffers
more from having individualistic, distinct sections that are unable to recycle smoothly;
in other words, the flow from verse to pre-chorus to chorus may be fluent, but when
it goes from chorus to verse once again, that is when the song becomes rather
choppy in that transition. (Furthermore, as a side note, it should be
acknowledged that sections being fluent and easily connecting to the next are
not always necessary or automatically a positive trait; for an example that
comes into mind, EXO’s “Dancing King” is a relatively segmented song and yet,
it is that segmented style that augments the song.)

With
that understood, this rough segmenting and transition only becomes a problem
for “Gashina” due to how the choruses function as, otherwise, I would imagine
the entry into the second verse would be fine. If the choruses were consistent
and thus maintained a slower, heavy style as is in the first half, there would
be a natural flow to recycle: going from a lower intensity back into the verses’
average delivery. But because the choruses end on a more elevated state and
that the choruses already transitions within itself, we now have a mismatch on
both sonic and structural levels. Sonically, the choruses ended slightly too
energetically and structurally, having to hear two significant changes—chorus to
verse but also, in the chorus itself, first-half chorus to second-half chorus—and
it ruins a lot of the song’s usual transition timings. (Specifically, that the
song should have only made major transitions during verse to pre-chorus to
chorus to second verse, not verse to pre-chorus to first-half chorus to
second-half chorus and then finally to second verse.)

Overall,
however, these points of criticism are relatively minor. “Gashina” is still a
decent song, and in particular its instrumental deserves a lot of praise for
helping address the multiple shifts in the song along with adding a unique
combination of slower, heavier sounds. Nevertheless, I find that if the song’s
flow were a bit smoother and less choppy especially towards the chorus and its
transition to the second verse, it might have been a bit more appealing to me.

_______________________________________________________

To the requester, apologies that
this review took far too long to finish. The next review will be SF9’s “O Sole
Mio,” and afterwards, I hope to address the new songs from TWICE along with two
very fun songs that normally do not fit songs I review here but will be
reviewed as they provide interesting discussions about (Korean) pop music in
general.

Until then, stay healthy and happy
over the holidays (or regular days for those celebrating nothing). While “[y]ou’re
leaving me here” for now, I hope to return quickly with more reviews.