MAMAMOO – “Starry Night” Review

(Music Video)

MAMAMOO – “Starry Night”

Reviewed on March 20, 2018

More seriously, however, it is true I have not reviewed many of MAMAMOO’s recent songs. This decision was ultimately due to how the ladies already have excessive spotlight on this blog, but “Starry Night” changes this trend. Why? I was disappointed. And of course, bold stances oftentimes make for more interesting reviews and thus, I am reviewing MAMAMOO after quite a long time.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Structure: 5/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 7/10

[Introduction instrumental]

My hands were cold but now it’s already spring
Dreamy breezes blow here and there
Different from usual, I like this feeling
Maybe tomorrow will be a different day

The shadow of the darkness
remaining in the deep night
The moon is shining,
drawing out a light
As much as I removed you from my body
The water in the tub becomes the
lingering feelings and overflows
This space filling up with my sighs

When late night comes
When I’m all alone
Starry night

It’s a starry night
You blow over to me
All those nights we shared
makes me drunk
Starry night

(Ya ya ya)
Starry night
(Ya ya ya)
Starry night

Winter passes and flowers bloom
The scent of the warm air wraps around me
Nothing changed, each day is the same
But still, I wait for tomorrow

At the end of the day,
I’m here
Day by day
Drawing you out
Do you want me to leave?
No
I’m still here
I’m just covered by the dark night sky
So you can’t see me

When late night comes
When I’m all alone
Starry night

It’s a starry night
You blow over to me
All those nights we shared
makes me drunk
Starry night

(Ya ya ya)
Starry night
(Ya ya ya)
Starry night

Starry starry night
A night without you
I feel so empty
The picture of us is fading
But I’m denying this reality
Even when I close my eyes,
I can still see you, why?
Leave me alone
I’m breaking down

Starry night
It’s a starry night
You blow over to me
All those nights we shared
makes me drunk
Starry night

(Ya ya ya)
Starry night
(Ya ya ya)
Starry night

_______________________________________________________

Watching
MAMAMOO Grow

Many
reviews are lined up to be posted soon, but I do apologize for not doing such
sooner. (I have spent a lot—if not all—of time on break binge-watching two
dramas, both of which I plan to review soon.) Another review will be explaining
this change in review format and why
there is a change in the first place. As a result, while readers might find
this new format odd and potentially even lacking in terms of length, I ask for
patience so that in the next review or so I can clarify everything (and even my
absence).

On
topic, regarding MAMAMOO, I have surprisingly not been keeping track of the
ladies. Now I have been aware of their recent songs, but in terms of variety
shows and the like, I have not been following them as much. However, I have
recently started catching up and I recommend readers and fans of MAMAMOO to
watch their latest reality show: One
Lucky Day
. It is a different take to many other reality shows in that, as
its title implies, luck decides much of the members’ experiences. In short, a
wheel is spun for every major decision—and yes, I will consider meals as a
“major decision.” Hwasa, after all, would strongly agree. More seriously,
however, it is true I have not reviewed many of MAMAMOO’s recent songs. This
decision was ultimately due to how the ladies already have excessive spotlight
on this blog, but “Starry Night” changes this trend. Why? I was disappointed.
And of course, bold stances oftentimes make for more interesting reviews and
thus, I am reviewing MAMAMOO after quite a long time.

Understanding
MAMAMOO’s Change in Musical Style

Regarding
the prior statement, although it may come across as arrogant and even rude, I
do wish to clarify that “Starry Night” is not a bad song per se; the problem is
that it could have been even stronger.
My main criticism lies in a question: Why is it that, during the
chorus/post-chorus, a passive and plain instrumental is positioned as the
highlight when MAMAMOO’s vocals are one of the most priceless, iconic “instruments”
in terms of mainstream Korean Pop music? In my argument, then, this song is
disappointing in its inefficient use of MAMAMOO’s vocals.

But,
before I launch into and elaborate that critique, I still wish to first defend
“Starry Night” and its current composition. More importantly, though, I wish to
clarify that my critique should not be interpreted as a critique on MAMAMOO’s
potentially shifting musical style. Indeed, many fans have noticed that RBW
Entertainment seems to be directing MAMAMOO in different musical directions:
from their iconic, pop-based “Um Oh Ah Yeah” to their vocal powerhouse of “Decalcomanie”
to, with skipping ahead, a pop-ballad of “Paint Me” and finally now to “Starry
Night”—a song that combines a pop song structure with ballad elements. It seems
that, overall, MAMAMOO might be turning towards a more “mature” musical route.
(And I loosely say “mature” as I do not wish to imply that “bubble pop/generic
pop” is immature. However, using the term “mature” tends to more easily
encapsulate the idea that MAMAMOO’s songs are less about being catchy and more about musical qualities
in of themselves.) Rather than sticking with very upbeat and standard pop songs
or relying on sheer vocal power to shine, the ladies now appear to be more
invested in soulful, calmer yet vocally complex songs. However, of course, I am
not on the marketing or musical team for MAMAMOO; whether “Starry Night” and
even prior comebacks are due to experimenting with different genres or a slow
progression towards ballad-based songs is something I can merely speculate on.

What is my point in discussing all of this? Overall,
regardless of whether this change in musical style is still temporary or more
permanent, I wish to remind fans to be supportive of their artistic direction
and decisions. Thus, while I will be critiquing “Starry Night” in a manner that
seems as if I am critiquing their
change in styles, I hope readers do not interpret it in only that manner. Certainly
I may refer to the “usual MAMAMOO style” that I find would have been more
effective for “Starry Night,” but if we strip away that label and instead speak
more objectively—that the choruses/post-choruses should have relied on vocals
rather than just an instrumental—then we find that this critique is less MAMAMOO-centered
and more general as have been my attempts for many past songs.

A
Riskier Approach to the Choruses

Finally onto the review and criticism itself, the song
still excels in different aspects. The building up through the verses and
particularly Moonbyul’s rap sections definitely lead the song to moments of
desiring a satisfying climax to follow through with. However, that is where my
critique is: despite all the excellent build up and the smooth and versatile
vocal delivery, the choruses/post-choruses are counterintuitive to the song
itself. What would come as a natural climax is not a passive instrumental that
brings an effect of pausing and dragging the song, but the very opposite: not
necessarily “Decalcomanie” styled vocals of beltings and note holds, but at least
a vocal-orientated chorus/post-chorus. This way, rather than having the current
gap that appears to exist at the climaxes of the song, we would have
choruses/post-choruses that directly run off from the current build up to fill
in those gaps and—given how MAMAMOO’s vocals are worth utilizing at every possible chance—find a climax that
seems to cleanly tie up all of the song’s current features of passive rapping
and verses.

Unsatisfying
if not Disappointing

All in all, if the earlier phrasing of “disappointing” is
inaccurate, perhaps unsatisfying is the more appropriate term. “Starry Night”
is not a bad song at all—as seen, the only critique is with how its current composition
handles the choruses/post-choruses. Nevertheless, the song leaves me yearning
for more; what could the song have been
if the composition included MAMAMOO’s distinctive, spicier vocal prowess at the
choruses/post-choruses?

I personally am interested—as always—in how MAMAMOO and
RBW Entertainment will approach future comebacks. Their current title track and
album in whole appear to focus more on calmer, refined types of songs rather than
traditionally more upbeat and catchy pop songs that they have performed in the
past. Will fans hear a return to “Um Oh Ah Yeah” or “You Are The Best” or even “Decalcomanie,”
or are the ladies to continue in their current direction of, ultimately, a
pop-ballad genre? Where I personally hope MAMAMOO takes their musical career is
with expanding their current pop-ballad form but emphasizing that pop layer
more than currently. The result, I presume, would lead to Taeyeon’s style of songs:
think of “I” or “Why” or “Make Me Love You”—songs that utilize ballad vocals
and instrumental and yet have the higher pacing and excitement of pop songs.
That to me would be an extremely ideal genre for MAMAMOO to explore given how
pop-ballad is still a niche music area in K-Pop but also that MAMAMOO seems to
naturally specialize in that realm. They, after all, have the vocals necessary
for such but can equally pull off pop song styles and concepts.

Returning to “Starry Night,” I find that while it appears
empty with its climaxes, fans can still appreciate it as another musical
experiment by MAMAMOO and that it still is enjoyable. The issue is wondering if
it could have been more enjoyable.

_______________________________________________________