Infinite – “Tell Me” Review

(Music Video)

Infinite – Tell Me

Reviewed on January 16, 2018

Specifically for what amazes me, it is not just—as many fans are currently praising—the vocals or even how the song itself is structured. What grabs my attention is how the composers purposefully crafted “Tell Me” so that its flow is that of short, choppy bits. Whether vocally or instrumentally, by slicing up the song in brief pauses, this gives the song an impactful effect: “Tell Me” is now able to adopt two contrasting positions. One position is that the song is able to give off a calmer, smooth flow but equally, the song is also able to possess an exciting, energetic and powerful style—all simultaneously as well.

Continue reading “Infinite – “Tell Me” Review”

GFriend – “Love Whisper” Review

(Music Video) / (Dance Practice)

GFriend – Love Whisper

Reviewed on September 23, 2017

While I do agree with many that this song is worth praising, I still find that there are some questionable aspects. Specifically, while many are praising the choruses in “Love Whisper,” I will challenge that point by arguing that, as beneficial as the choruses are, there are some downsides to them that fans have not necessarily discussed.  

Continue reading “GFriend – “Love Whisper” Review”

G-Reyish – “Johnny Go Go” Review

(Music Video) / (Dance Practice)

G-Reyish – Johnny Go Go

Reviewed on August 17, 2017

And so, for where this review will be going, I hope to provide a more respectful and thoughtful argument as to why “Johnny Go Go” is a weaker song. After all, using the idea of “copying concepts” to claim that “Johnny Go Go” is a bad song would be akin to me arguing that my reviews are terrible because the blog is not aesthetically pleasing.

Continue reading “G-Reyish – “Johnny Go Go” Review”

EXO – “Ko Ko Bop” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Live
Performance)

EXO – Ko Ko Bop

Reviewed
on August 11, 2017

And
so, despite fans’ massive praise towards and the song and even despite how the
song overall is not “bad” per se—indeed, it scores at an average as readers
will soon see—I find that the most disappointing aspect to the song is the loss of potential. In other words, “Ko
Ko Bop” could have been a rather
solid song, but in my argument, the post-chorus in the song is detrimental
enough to entirely limit the song’s potential appeal.

Personal Message:
Before getting further, as always,
thank you to the requester for sending this in. Furthermore—and arguably more
importantly—I also thank both the requester and readers for once again being
incredibly patient for content. August is certainly still the month where I am
planning to review many songs at a time, but there have been some slight delays
for the past few days. To explain the reasoning behind these slight delays, I
have been spending the last few days playing video games with my younger cousin—an
activity I personally wish to cherish while I still have some extra free time
left during summer. The upcoming university semester will by far be the most
rigorous and busy semester I will have ever experienced and thus, I am in a
situation where I have to temporarily put aside a few hobbies. Given that
reviewing K-Pop songs is vital to my well-being akin to breathing, that leaves
video gaming and perhaps even subtitling videos as the hobbies I will have to
give up for a few months. (Though realistically, I will definitely still have
time for those activities. Having a proper balance is what is most important—a tip
that should help readers returning to school. I will still subtitle videos and
find moments to relax with gaming.)

Dramatic speech aside—after all, I
make it sound as if I am about to undergo intense K-Pop trainee training—let us
focus on the review at hand. EXO’s “Ko Ko Bop” is indeed the men’s latest song,
and from the rudimentary research I have done, it appears that the song is
rather well received by fans. Many fans have been praising the song and in
particularly loving the song’s unique style—a style that meshes elements of EDM
and R&B if I am correct. That said, I personally remain a bit hesitant to
equally praise the song. EXO fans might be upset at the upcoming harsher
criticisms I have for “Ko Ko Bop,” but I will leave this as a reminder: music
reviews are never to leave objective answers; that is impossible in the fine
arts field where everything is, unequivocally, subjective. Instead, the purpose
of music reviews is to begin or add onto current discussions about a song.
Regardless of how fans emotionally feel towards this review, what matters is
the review sparks a discussion and allows fans to be able to analyze the song in
a more critical fashion.

And so, despite fans’ massive praise
towards and the song and even despite how the song overall is not “bad” per
se—indeed, it scores at an average as readers will soon see—I find that the
most disappointing aspect to the song is the loss of potential. In other words, “Ko Ko Bop” could have been a rather solid song, but in my argument, the
post-chorus in the song is detrimental enough to entirely limit the song’s
potential appeal. Additionally, although I have yet to see fans commenting on
this, I will also be comparing “Ko Ko Bop” to “Dancing King”—another song by
EXO. Certainly the two songs are stylistically different, but if we focus on
the composition structurally, both songs are quite similar and I find that by
comparing “Dancing King” to “Ko Ko Bop,” readers might have a better
understanding on exactly why the post-choruses are quite problematic.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(4.75/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 5/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.86/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 2/10

6.     Bridge: 5/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Introduction instrumental]

Shimmie shimmie, Ko Ko Bop
I think I like it
Don’t be nervous, don’t be shy
I’m entering into your dizzy heart
As if I’m familiar, I’ll softly spread inside

Ah woo, it’s a silent night
Ah woo, it’s a night for you
I can’t hold back, I’m falling
I’m drunk from your body
Forget the typical me that you’ve known
My hidden instincts shimmie up

It goes down down baby
Trust your body
It goes down down baby
To the rhythm and shout
Oh oh oh, we are, oh oh oh
We going Ko Ko Bop

[Post-Chorus instrumental]

Shimmie shimmie, Ko Ko Bop
I think I like it
Little by little, down down, don’t be shy
No matter what anyone says, don’t listen
Just be beautiful as you are right now
I wish time would stop
Baby are you down?

Ah woo, it’s the last night
Ah woo, it’s our night
Don’t be nervous and come
Trust all of you with me
The reins are loosening
Just put it down today
Don’t be cautious, shaking up

It goes down down baby
Trust your body
It goes down down baby
To the rhythm and shout
Oh oh oh, we are, oh oh oh
Break it down now

[Post-Chorus instrumental]

You shine more as the night deepens
Your eyes tell me everything
On this nice night, I want you
I know, it’s okay, let’s start now
It’s about to go go

It goes down down baby
Trust your body
It goes down down baby
To the rhythm and shout
Oh oh oh, we are, oh oh oh
Going Ko Ko Bop

Down down baby
Whisper in my ear
It goes down down baby
Set my heart on fire
Oh oh oh, crazy, oh oh oh
Going Ko Ko Bop

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Now
before entirely getting into the criticisms I have, I once again wish to
heavily emphasize that “Ko Ko Bop” is not a “bad” song—bad in the sense that
the song is below average (a five) if we are to follow my numerical ratings. Certainly,
even if the post-choruses are extremely faulty, the song still has many strong
points that can partially compensate. For example, the instrumental is
effective in both its sonic and structural appeal. In fact, the instrumental
serves as the foundation to the song as many aspects are based on the slower,
heavier bass and strong rhythm of the instrumental. At the pre-choruses, the
bass line’s increased activity combines naturally with the vocals in order to
build up the song and guide it along. Even at the verses, the vocals are
constantly complemented with the rich, deep bass. All in all, the instrumental
helps create a stable flow to the song that helps keep it organized and aurally
pleasing.

Unfortunately,
the song’s post-choruses ruin those positive traits: the flow becomes entirely
shattered. For one, the post-choruses introduce sounds that entirely conflict
the established R&B stylistic sounds. To go from a slower, calm beats and
bass line to an ear-piercing electronic ring is far too abrupt and unfitting
without any forms of transitions to ease that very change. Additionally, on a structural
level we also lose a sense of organization when we consider that the choruses
already served as a climactic point—and yet, the post-choruses equally serve that
role considering how upbeat and intense the sections are. And this is where
comparing “Ko Ko Bop” to “Dancing King” is helpful: in “Dancing King,” it too
follows a similar structure with having an instrumental break—though there are
slight differences as that instrumental break took the role of a chorus rather
than a post-chorus.

Nevertheless,
the instrumental break in “Dancing King” was used effectively as it was not to pause
and divide the song; rather, the instrumental break was used as an extension of
the pre-choruses—a section that essentially held a climactic peak for the song.
Thus, on a structural level listeners are able to hear how the instrumental
break was still a core, connected section and factoring in how the utilized
sounds suited what the prior sections have used, “Dancing King” had a very
successful and appealing usage of an instrumental break. On the other hand, “Ko
Ko Bop” fails to replicate the same situation: as mentioned, it already becomes
confusing by introducing sounds that do not suit the established, deeper and
rhythm-based sounds used in every prior section. Furthermore, on a structural
level, “Ko Ko Bop” ‘s instrumental break (the post-choruses) does not serve as
an extension of the choruses; instead, it renders as a forceful dragging of the
choruses and the result is the song having the choruses and post-choruses
battling over which section is the climactic point.

What
would have been desirable to hear in “Ko Ko Bop” is if the composers abandoned
the post-choruses and instead opted for longer chorus or for the song to reset
its cycle after the chorus. Interestingly, the song does include an example of
what the former idea would sound like: at the ending of the song, two choruses
are played back-to-back to create, effectively, a longer chorus. What happens
is perfect: rather than having a post-chorus play, we instead get a chorus that
fulfills the usual climactic role of a pop song and the section also concludes
itself and would not need to be forcefully dragged out by a post-chorus and the
like. And, of course, the longer chorus would stay loyal to the song’s core
sounds and style and thus, “Ko Ko Bop” would retain its original organization
and cohesion.

Overall,
“Ko Ko Bop” may not be a “negative” song and essentially only possess merely
one troublesome feature, but that one troublesome feature is incredibly
problematic. Even if the post-choruses in of themselves do not entirely lower “Ko
Ko Bop” ‘s rating, I personally find myself quite disappointed in the song’s
composition knowing the potential it had if the post-choruses was scrapped away
or revised. But, once again, the song in its entirety is still functional and
enjoyable even if one section heavily impairs it.

_______________________________________________________

This
review is surprisingly and disturbingly short, but as I have learned over the
few years of improving my writing, length hardly matters. In fact, the shorter
length the better; what matters most is that ideas and arguments are
conveyed clear and concisely and thus, even if this review is quite short I
feel that I have focused on the main criticism I had and did not waste readers’
time with random details. (And admittedly shorter reviews that get to the point
are enjoyable on all sides—readers and I.)

Thank
you once more to the requester for being patient and sending this in, and thank
you to readers for taking any time to skim or read this review. I do sincerely
appreciate it. I will be promptly reviewing the last request I have received as
of this sentence: G-Reyish’s “Johnny Go Go.” That song will perhaps reveal that
my claims of “harsher criticism” here are, in comparison, quite lenient. With “Johnny
Go Go,” I find that it is a rather weak song not only with its composition, but
potentially with its production—assuming, though, that it merely is not the
music video itself having audio problems. More will be discussed in that review
itself.

Until
then, “We going Ko Ko Bop”—which I am assuming is referencing dancing. But,
since my dancing is actually some dark magic that inflicts blindness upon those
who witness it and years of horror, let us avoid that and instead just go with
the usual farewell: look forward to the next requested review, of which I will
work hard to finish soon.

TWICE – “Only You” Review

(Audio—unofficial upload)

TWICE – Only You

Reviewed
on May 17, 2017

For
this review, while we will always look at both the strengths and weaknesses
involved, I find that a more productive discussion will come from heavily
focusing on why the song is, indeed
from my argument, good. In particular, I wish to tune into certain strategies
employed; specifically, we will discuss the role of the instrumental’s heavier
bass, the diversity of the vocals and how said vocals are accommodated for the
ladies’ vocal abilities, and how the song itself is structured and controls its
flow for certain effects.

Personal Message:
First of all, I do wish to make this
explicit: I will not be reviewing
“Signal,” TWICE’s actual comeback song. Now, should readers or TWICE fans be
incredibly curious, I am open to reviewing it only if a request is sent. That said, to share my thoughts on
“Signal,” it sadly is a disappointing song akin to—harshly stated—the rest of
TWICE’s title songs excluding “Knock Knock.” “Knock Knock” is still one of my
favorite songs in general, and even in a more critical lens, I argue “Knock
Knock” (as I did in my review of it) is incredibly well composed
especially for how the song adopts a very “stereotypical” pop style. But
regarding the original topic, indeed I find “Like Ooh-Ahh,” “Cheer Up,” and
even “TT” to all be weaker songs in general. In fact, I have already reviewed
all of them minus “Cheer Up,” and thus if readers are curious on my take, I
suggest readers reading the respective reviews. Unfortunately, while “Knock
Knock”—again, in my argument—broke
the chain of weaker songs, “Signal” is a return back into said weaker songs. JYP’s
composition of the song is, with all due respect, highly questionable. Even
more critically and to perhaps overstep my boundaries, I will even go as far as
to say JYP’s composition skills in
general
has tended to be weaker. I personally have yet to find a song
composed by JYP that has stunned me, and I am afraid “Signal” might be one of
his weakest works as of yet. (Again, this is not to say JYP is necessarily a
bad composer; he definitely is very knowledgeable and experienced, and quite
obviously, is far superior to I in this field. Thus, I hope readers interpret
my words as a form of a critical, bold critique rather than insults.)

On topic for this review, I admit I am
doing acts that are quite peculiar: for one, I am reviewing a song despite not
letting at least three days pass in order to remove instances of extreme bias
taking place; secondly, I am reviewing a side-track—a song that is a part of
the album but is not the main title. Humorously, though, I argue “Only You” should be the title track; if this was
TWICE’s comeback for the upcoming summer, this would have potentially shocked
many people in terms of music quality. (To clarify, “Signal” is “marketing”
well; their comeback, despite me rendering it as a very poor song, is
surprisingly holding number one on music charts and is garnering many sales.
The issues, though, are that other music reviewers have rated it poorly and
that many listeners find it a weaker song—this being indicated by an absurdly high
dislike ratio on the music video.) The ladies, after all, are oftentimes
critiqued for poorer vocal execution and even having overly generic pop songs.
In fact, to some extent, even I also agree with these criticisms. That said,
“Only You” is—once again, in my argument—the best song TWICE has ever released
both in terms of composition but also vocal execution. It truly is an amazing
song that showcases TWICE’s vocal skills at their peak, and the composition is
one that drastically deviates away from the more generic pop style that group
has claimed as their signature sound and style.

Finally, before getting right into the review,
I will leave a disclaimer. If readers have noticed from the blog’s side
information, “Only You” is currently my favorite song of all-time. Without
getting into the critical aspect yet, I will share that “Only You” matches my
music preferences perfectly: it
follows an upbeat pacing all while remaining “linear” akin to ballads; the
vocals consist of both simple yet complex lines and have both rapping and
singing; the instrumental focuses on a heavier bass line; and so on. The point
being, even without focusing on the actual composition at hand, I admit I very
much biasedly enjoy this song as its sounds and flow are what I prefer in songs
and I do hope readers realize I could easily be biased within this review—more
so as I am not waiting for the excitement to die down via waiting at least
three days before reviewing. However, of course, with now feeling relatively
confident in analyzing songs in a critical manner—or more realistically
speaking, me being a foolish and arrogant boy—I believe that I can review the
song without entirely projecting my biases. Regarding the composers of this
song, while I seldom do explicitly give credit, I wish to do so here: David
Anthony Eames, Debbie—Jane Blackwell, and 72 are the composers of “Only You.” These
are the men and women who authored this very song. Their work has brought what
I argue is TWICE’s best song of all-time.

For this review, while we will
always look at both the strengths and weaknesses involved, I find that a more
productive discussion will come from heavily focusing on why the song is, indeed from my argument, good. In particular, I
wish to tune into certain strategies employed; specifically, we will discuss the
role of the instrumental’s heavier bass, the diversity of the vocals and how
said vocals are accommodated for the ladies’ vocal abilities, and how the song
itself is structured and controls its flow for certain effects.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 7/10
(7.00/10 raw score) – “Above average”


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(7.13/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 8/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 7/10

6.     Rap: 7/10

7.     Bridge (Chorus): 7/10

8.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 7/10

Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only you

It’s weird, I didn’t imagine it at first
Just like a sugar rush
You slowly approached me
and knocked on the doors of my tired heart
Is that when it started?
I thought you were a good friend
Before I knew it, I kept thinking of you
My cheeks get red and I only smile
The love’s already begun

You’re sweet you’re just like chocolate candy
I can’t hide anymore,
I want to show you how big my heart has grown
Let’s go

Always stay with me, don’t leave me boy
Now I know with my heart I’ve got only you
Look into my eyes, boy, it’s full of hearts
No matter what anyone says I’ve got only, only you

Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only you

I’ve got O-N-L-Y you
Don’t ask why
Real love has no reasons
Call me “jelly”
Call me every day
Our secret code fluttering love mode
Baby, baby, tell me, what do you think?
Why is it so complicated, you want me too
You pretend you don’t but I can tell,
I can tell that’s right
Now come here, kiss me, butterfly

Ooh
I tremble when we brush a little
Ooh
When we touch a little my heart goes
Kung*, kung, kung, it’s for sure L-O-V-E
Let’s go

Always stay with me, don’t leave me boy
Now I know with my heart I’ve got only you
Look into my eyes, boy, it’s full of hearts
No matter what anyone says I’ve got only, only you

Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only you

Okay, let’s go
Don’t make me wait any longer, I’ve only got one answer
(Only you, always you)
Ticklish first love makes me feel like I’m gonna fly
(Only you, always you)
Hold my hand tightly, never ever let go
(Only you, always you)
You and me against the world, I’m not afraid
(Only you, always you)

Always stay with me, don’t leave me boy
Now I know with my heart I’ve got only you
Look into my eyes, boy, it’s full of hearts
No matter what anyone says I’ve got only, only you

Always stay with me, don’t leave me boy
Now I know with my heart I’ve got only you
Look into my eyes, boy, it’s full of hearts
No matter what anyone says I’ve got only, only you

Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only, o-o-only, only you
Only you

*Akin to how this same word was used in TWICE’s “Knock Knock,”
“kung” is the Korean linguistic representation of a “bam”-like noise.
English equivalents in this case would be, for examples, “pit-pat” or
that one’s heart goes “thump thump.”

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Now
that all of the analytical work is actually done, I confess: I am surprised the
song in whole rates only at a seven. Not that that rating is bad at all;
indeed, if anything, getting an “above average” rating nowadays is almost a
feat when considering how I am now incredibly critical of pop songs. That said,
I personally anticipated “Only You” scoring an eight. Critically, of course,
this song does not come close to making it that far though this is not to
discredit how dazzling of a song it still is.

Onto
the review, as there are too many aspects to this song to discuss and in fact,
many of which we will not even have time for in this review (as, again, I am
focusing on being concise for reviews rather than sharing an entire dissection
of a song as I used to in the past), we will stick to what I established
earlier in the review. Already, one key element to “Only You” is its instrumental
and more specifically, how it cleverly and effectively manipulates its heavier
bass line. For example, with the bass line serving as the distinctive
foundation and even sound to the instrumental, it allows the song to easily
make core transitions. Let us take a look at the rap sections as these provide
an excellent background to why the instrumental’s heavier bass is vital. With the
rapping, they notably are somewhat odd sections in terms of not just the
initial transition, but also how the instrumental during these moments entirely
deviate from what has already been established. After all, the first rap in
particular seems to adopt a deeper and more distorted instrumental than the
rest of the song—of which features a lighter instrumental sound. While
listeners might view this as a possible point of critique, tying back to my
argument however, and we will actually find that how the composers manipulate
the heavier bass allows this moment to be saved. The first rap’s bass line—despite
its deeper sound and distortion—is still recognizable as being the same bass
line that is already at play throughout the song. Thus, this bass line serves
as reference point: it is the same bass line that listeners can easily seek
out, but merely changed in its sound. And especially if we scope out further,
we realize this bass transformation parallels the song in its entirety as the
first rap section is still following
the same flow, though with a changed sound. In other words, this example is
merely one that showcases how the instrumental—particularly the reliance on a
heavier bass line—is used by the composers in a structural sense of keeping the
song organized. Of course, though, sonic benefits exist as well such as how the
instrumental covers the lower range of sounds especially as TWICE’s vocals
focus more towards the higher end barring perhaps the pre-choruses. We will not
dive in much further details here, however.

Regarding the next focus, the vocals
and the diversity within this field are rather impressive. On a simplistic
level, there is praise for how “Only You” is able to incorporate both rapping
and singing, but more importantly, that within these very branches that there
are still variances within. For example, the first rapping focused more on
power and flow while the second rapping focuses on building up the song.
Similarly, the singing ranged from stronger vocal beltings such as at the
choruses to smooth, slower and rhythmic singing such as at the verses and
pre-choruses. Overall, then, especially as vocal variety tends to be a key
appeal in pop songs, we can already understand why “Only You” sounds great
vocally as it covers a wonderful range of styles that will very likely hold
listeners’ attentions.

All that said, this is the minimal
aspect that I wish for us to home in on. What I find more relevant for
discussion is when we actually analyze the vocals in the context of TWICE’s vocal roles and abilities. Particularly, I find
that “Only You” truly accommodates TWICE’s vocal strength and weaknesses in
perhaps the most effective way I have heard as of yet. First, though, we have
to understand what I connote when I say “vocal roles.” As some readers are
aware of, groups tend to be split with “main vocal,” “lead vocal,” and “sub
vocal.” The former, in short, are members who can handle more complex and
difficult singer while the latter are members who tend to be weaker singers.
The middle role is, quite literally, the actual middle ground between the
mentioned two. While I do not wish to necessarily begin a debate regarding which
member in TWICE has which roles (these are “official” but I personally have my
own mental list as I find this to be far more accurate than what official websites
claim), I do wish to focus on how in “Only You,” the sub vocalists are finally
singing in an appropriate context.

I think it first makes more sense to
discuss the opposite, however: discussing examples of when the sub vocalists
did not get to sing in their right
contexts. “Cheer Up” is one example in that Sana’s “shy shy shy” line, while it
is now a pop cultural phenomenon, is a very weak musical line that does not
showcase her vocal skills at all. Another example is how in “TT,” both Momo’s
and Sana’s pairing at the pre-choruses are also a moment of weaker vocals. What
is troubling—and to get to my main point—is that the sub vocalists in many past
songs have been delegated to lines that are not
musically-orientated at all per se. Finally, though, in “Only You,” the sub
vocalists have lines that are much more intensive and complex in comparison to
their other songs but most importantly, “Only You” ‘s lines that involve the
sub vocalists actually involve them singing as harsh as that may sound. And
indeed, they definitely can sing and the sub vocalists of TWICE delivered many
impressive, fluid and lower-pitched lines for “Only You” and that deserves
credit as their parts are as vital as, for example, Nayeon’s and Jihyo’s lines
at the choruses (and equally Jeongyeong’s beltings throughout the song). In
summary, “Only You” showcases not just vocal variety, but it also showcases
excellent vocal execution in the first place and that is highly emphasized due—especially
when contrasting prior songs—to how the sub vocalists finally have
musically-based lines rather than being restricted to catchy, filler lines as
they historically have been.

Lastly, for the last point I will
discuss, the song itself was brilliantly structured. Specifically for what I
wish to discuss, the composers’ ideas on how to control the song’s flow are
very impressive. Although I do wish to discuss each and every section,
realistically it would be best to discuss merely one: the pre-choruses. I will
even go to the extremes of claiming that the pre-choruses in “Only You” are the
best ones I have ever heard in any pop song. In terms of what actually occurs
during these parts, nothing mind-blowing happens at all despite how much praise
I am giving. Summarizing the pre-choruses, they follow this overall strategy: The
pre-chorus in this song, first of all, is the moment when the vocals and instrumental
begin to mix together—as indicated by the slower pacing and how the vocals are
now lower-pitched to suit with the bass line and that the rhythm becomes a
prominent feature. Structurally, though, the pre-chorus relaxes the song via
slowing down and, once again, switching focus to the beats and rhythm that soon
begin to accelerate and climax in the form of the choruses. Again, nothing is
unique at all for the pre-choruses, and yet I am very surprised. What I actually
find delightful is how the pre-choruses utilize two different types of build up: the pre-choruses both relax the
song, but equally within the same space and time, the sections soon build up
the song back into a heightened state in a very natural, seamless manner due to
how the aural component meshed both vocals and instrumental. Typically only one
type is used. Using “TT” once again as an example, in that song we find that
the pre-choruses focus on hyping up the song—but, quite clearly, the
pre-choruses in that song do not do both. Another example in mind is the recent
review of VARSITY’s “U R My Only One.” In that song, the pre-choruses “downgrade”
as its form of building up the song, and though it admittedly does heighten the
song back akin to “Only You,” it does so in a very rigid, explicit manner while
“Only You” is able to do this without even attracting attention to this very
strategy.

And, while I seldom critique lyrics
as of the late—perhaps, in once again a harsh manner, due to the fact that many
lyrics of recently reviewed songs are all average—“Only You” has solid lyrics. The
fact that the verse and raps are not repeats and that even the pre-choruses use
different details rather than typically just recycling the same section helps
bring the lyrics up in rating. Furthermore, though the following does not
account at all for the score as it is the variety of details I care for, I hope
readers also enjoyed the song’s lyrics in a romantic sense. The plot is quite
endearing and sweet and in the overarching view of “Only You,” the lyrics
holding up well serves as the final, pretty wrapping to the song.

Praises aside, however, I still find
it crucial that we discuss the faults of the song. The main fault I have is how
the last rap and final portion of the song begin to create a tedious sound. With
the last rap, we find it alternating between rapping and chanting, and though
this makes sense on a structural level, chanting in songs are always at risk
due to how they can easily create a mundane sound if not balanced appropriately
with some other factor. Now, the composers did attempt that very act of
balancing via using the chorus as the bridge—thus, it counters the chanting’s
stale phrases through a very delicate, tuneful section. However, the somewhat
comical aspect is that this solution now creates another problem: that a
follow-up chorus—the regular one—is used to get the song moving again. The
issue here, of course, is that given the nature of the choruses in that they
are lengthier and rely on a linear flow, having two back-to-back choruses
becomes overly dragging of the song. While ultimately these faults are not
significant in the main view of the song, it still is noteworthy as “Only You”
starts off impressive but begins to languish as the song runs. It is always desirable
for songs to get better the further it gets, such after all is the
iconic structure of ballads, and thus the fact that “Only You” does the
opposite can definitely be concerning.

All in all, “Only You” is an amazing
song. It personally is my favorite song of all-time, and I expect it will stay
that way for many months if not even at least a year. Additionally, regardless
of what my favorites are, I personally argue it is TWICE’s best song. Should
fans ever desire to mute the mouths of those who are critiquing the group’s
music without being critical (emphasis: without
being critical
; it is fine to critique TWICE’s music as I do because I am
being critical and respectful), the song should be self-explanatory and can easily
be used to defend the ladies. What upsets me the most is how this song is not
the title and comeback track; it possesses a “summer sound” that would fit the
upcoming months, and with its style of infusing ballad-like elements while
containing the usual pop sound of TWICE, it truly astounds me that “Signal” was
chosen over this song. (But given that “Signal” is composed and produced by
JYP, their CEO, it perhaps makes sense on why that song is privileged as the
title song.)

As for final remarks, TWICE is a
group that does have music potential. Understandably, TWICE has been
historically a weaker group musically speaking as, I argue, all of their title
tracks are poor excluding “Knock Knock.” But, especially with extreme hate
spewed at the ladies on a personal level, I wish to remind readers—whether fans
or non-fans of TWICE—that criticism can only be kept in an art-based context. In other words, their dances, music
videos, and songs can be and should
be critiqued. What is not ethical is when listeners decide to attack the ladies
personally (especially as some might
feel that, understandably, it is “unfair” that TWICE is quite popular despite being
relatively musically weak). Never should the ladies themselves be attacked
unless if that genuinely is a case, though the likelihood is already near
impossible. (For example, if Jihyo is found to be an abusive leader and
constantly physically beats the members, then of course she can be personally
critiqued. But of course, this is a silly fake example and Jihyo would never do
such, but the point is that TWICE can only be critiqued musically and not
personally as, from my understanding, they truly are upright women who attempt
to always do as much good for the world as they can.)

Overall, while I personally will
forever remain critical of all of their title tracks barring “Knock Knock,”
TWICE is a group I would consider myself a fan of. They do have a lot of music
potential—this we hear in “1 to 10” or in “Only You” for examples—and I hope we
will hear more of a musical TWICE and less of a “generic pop group” TWICE. It
is a tough situation, however, as sheer popularity appeal via catchy songs is
what made TWICE get this far (and, pessimistically said, music quality in the
pop scene does not get as much respect as it should be as fans care more about
the aesthetic pleasures instead—which, again, is understandable). But indeed, I
remain optimistic that TWICE will head towards a more musical-orientated side
soon. And I remain optimistic and mostly delusional that Jihyo will one day get
down on one knee and propose to me. This, though, is probably irrelevant to the
review.

_______________________________________________________

Horrible
jokes aside, thank you for reading this review whether in full or short. I
appreciate it and hope, most importantly, that it sparks some deeper thinking
about music or K-Pop for readers. That is why I write reviews; I do not write
for the popularity and attention (after all, writing music reviews is a
horrible way to get attention), but that I hope I can begin discussions and
actively engage readers to being more critical to K-Pop.

For
the next review, I have received an indirect request: IU’s “Palette.” I claim it
is an indirect request as a dear friend is the one who personally asked me.
Thus, in some ways, it still is a request even if not sent in officially via
the blog. Nonetheless, that will be the next song we focus on. Afterwards, I
have mixes of Critical Discussion posts and artists that have yet to be
reviewed at all (though IU is interesting an artist I have yet to review) that we
will cover. Until then, “[a]lways stay with me, don’t leave me boy/girl”—because,
quite obviously, I am a rather clingy boy. Jokes aside, look forward to IU’s “Palette.”  

A.CL – “Reviews” Review

(Music
Video)

A.CL – Reviews

Reviewed
on April 1, 2017

[Oddly,
due to some technical issues, I cannot post a picture for this particular
review.]

Many
argue that “Reviews” is a relatively weak comeback and I unfortunately will
have to agree with this opinion. “Reviews” has much potential with its sections
and A.CL’s vocals are definitely solid, but the instrumental and even lyrics
are extremely detrimental to the song.

Personal Message:
Already the new month of April will
have a review. In fact, I am reviewing an artist who should have been reviewed
quite some time ago: A.CL, a ballad soloist. Most likely very few readers are
familiar with this artist; after all, despite debuting nearly three years ago,
it was not until quite recently that he has begun garnering some popularity—and
even then, he is still definitely quite unpopular in comparison to other
artists. But that said—and to perhaps be quite critical—it is understandable on
why he never achieved any attention during his debut: his songs have been
heavily lacking both in terms of execution but also with composition.
Fortunately, indeed, he is continually working hard to improve his skills and
likewise his songs’ compositions have been gradually improving as well. And of
course, I am certain A.CL is very grateful to his current audience.

Addressing technical aspects to this
review, as noticed I am having technical issues with posting both the pictures
and lyrics. I deeply apologize for such; future reviews will never have these
problems again and certainly will not.
These problems seem to only occur once a year. Thankfully, the music video link
should be working and it does have the song’s lyrics within the video. All this
side, let us begin April 1 with a very serious review on A.CL’s latest
comeback: “Reviews.” This is definitely an interesting title; prior to “Reviews,”
I have never encountered a similar title. I hope this does not lead to confusions
between whether I am referring to this review
or to the song “Reviews.” On topic, however, let us actually focus on the song.
Many argue that “Reviews” is a relatively weak comeback and I unfortunately
will have to agree with this opinion. “Reviews” has much potential with its
sections and A.CL’s vocals are definitely solid, but the instrumental and even
lyrics are extremely detrimental to the song.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
8/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 8/10

4.     Chorus: 8/10

5.     Bridge: 8/10

6.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 2/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Refer to the music video for the
lyrics; there are too many technical issues involved for some odd reason and
thus, I cannot post the lyrics as I normally do.]

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
This review will definitely be shorter than usual and will actually be
following a structure I used for reviewing in the past—specifically, that I
will go through each category and robotically gauge them. This is not to
belittle A.CL and the composers of “Reviews,” but I find this is the best way
to explain. And of course, I am definitely being incredibly serious with this
review and by no means is this review a “joke” or “prank” or, quite
drastically, even “fake.”

With
the vocals, A.CL definitely has a lot of power with his vocals. In a way, we
can almost consider his vocals his “ideas”; in other words, A.CL knows how to
deliver “ideas” that tend to be quite unique and can definitely begin
conversations. Obviously this concept is quite confusing and probably makes no
sense, but in short let us understand this: for A.CL’s “ideas,” he definitely
does bring interesting points in the song.

That
said, for where this can be problematic, the lyrics fail to bring justice to A.CL’s
vocals. Although his points and ideas with singing are great, he oftentimes struggles
to clearly and cohesively deliver those very ideas. After all, as we can tell
by the lyrics, it appears quite jumbled and even disorganized. I argue if A.CL
wishes to improve his songs, he definitely needs to keep refining his lyrics
composing skills. Essentially, his mechanical writing skills—if this is more
clear—needs to be continually improved.

Regarding
the sections, I argue this is where A.CL greatly excels. Considering past songs
where his songs tended to sound overly mundane because the composers focused on
an output-input structuring of songs—which obviously makes no sense but bear
with me for now—but recently the composers have made a drastic switch to
actually make A.CL’s songs flow more naturally. Plus, A.CL’s songs tend to be
clearly structured in a way so that it is almost as if listeners can quite
literally see how his songs are structured and laid out.

Finally,
for where A.CL needs huge improvements, the instrumental to his songs
oftentimes are poor in particular because the beats are extremely slow. Now there are comeback periods—especially during
the summer—where his songs turn quite upbeat and follow a comfortable flow, but
as we can see in “Reviews,” this ballad happens to not be during summer. “Reviews”
is unfortunately quite slow in its pacing and that is arguably what prevents
A.CL from necessarily garnering more appeal from the public. Not that
popularity matters per se and in many interviews A.CL has explicitly stated
that he cares more about the quality of his songs versus having many fans, but
indeed especially as of the late, A.CL’s songs are far too slow. Certainly A.CL’s
comeback plans for summer are looking quite great especially because he is not
going to be attending summer classes—for music that is; music summer classes—and thus his newly released songs in the upcoming
summer will all be quite upbeat, but indeed, as of now the instrumental to many
of his songs are far too slow.

All
in all, A.CL’s “Reviews” is definitely an interesting song. Whether readers
realize it or not, I have personally been following A.CL from the very second
he debuted and despite the current problems in place, I do wish to acknowledge
how much he and his songs have improved. Now of course much more work is still
needed to be done, but certainly A.CL is improving and will aim to continually
improve. Perhaps the most interesting idea to ponder over is the very fact that
A.CL debuted at all: he was—with all due respect—quite awful in all categories when
he debuted. Therefore, to see him take that risk of deciding to debut and to
then continue improving over time is definitely a decision I bet A.CL is
grateful to have done.

_______________________________________________________

This
review ended much sooner than perhaps all of the other reviews I have written
in the past months. Again, readers should remember I am obviously quite serious
with this review and that A.CL is a real ballad soloist. I would never lie to
readers or personally celebrate a particular holiday in the United States (and
in other countries though with different titles and even on different days
rather than April 1) that occurs once a year that involves tricking others.

Now
on a serious note, I definitely do
acknowledge—and have genuine statistical data to back up such claims—that I
have readers from all over the world (though a huge percentage of readers are
from the United States). Thus, to readers who are not in the United States and
unfamiliar with why April 1 is an interesting day in the United States, I do
apologize if this review is confusing. I do not wish for this review to make
one feel excluded due to lacking that cultural background and I recommend a
quick search on April 1 in the United States for some explanation if one is
curious.

But
of course as said, this review is entirely serious and I hope readers enjoy
this high-quality review that I wrote in roughly twenty minutes. That is quite
a record if one asks me, especially as my reviews normally take hours to write—let
alone the days it takes to analyze
the song beforehand. Look forward to other reviews in April. I would now close
this review by quoting the lyrics from this song, but obviously this is a difficult
task not because this entire review
is fake and a prank, but because I am now facing technical difficulties here as
well since for some reason I “cannot” use quotes right now. That “cannot” is an
exception, and likewise this one as well. There we go; now that is a solid excuse and a perfect way to end this review.

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.)

MAMAMOO  – “Decalcomanie” Review

(Music
Video – Dance Version)

MAMAMOO – Décalcomanie

Reviewed
on November 8, 2016

image

This
might be the best song I have ever heard
in my entire life. It might be.

Personal Message:
This might be the best song I have
ever heard in my entire life. It
might be. Or at least tied with Ailee’s “Evening Sky,” a song that I do confidently
claim is the best song I have ever heard. (Edit: Another song to credit, though, is MAMAMOO’s cover of “Hinterlands.” Their cover was amazingly arranged and composed, and admittedly, was the first song that made me tearful not due to emotions per se, but due to its own musical beauty.)

On topic, “New York” by MAMAMOO was
a very disappointing release, and while I did not review it, fans would
probably be glad I did not as it would have been a rather negative review. Nonetheless,
with “Decalcomanie,” I am beyond impressed. Even that statement does a poor job
of expressing how I render the song. If it comes to a song’s sounds—and hence the emphasis on “heard”
as said earlier—“Decalcomanie” is one of, if not the, best releases I have ever heard in months or even years if I
dare say that. Admittedly its lyrics may be lacking, but if we pay attention to
its pure sonic aspect, this song completely sets a standard for MAMAMOO that I
thought would not have been possible to further increase. But indeed: MAMAMOO
and their producers have done it; they have taken “Decalcomanie” to an entirely
new level of music quality that I never anticipated.

With this review, though, there are
a few disclaimers to put forth. For one, as noted, this song just came out
today and while I have attempted to analyze the song as deeply as possible, I
am prematurely reviewing it. From what I personally have found, the best
reviews come when I have spent days—not minutes, hours, but days—analyzing and
actively listening to a song. With “Decalcomanie,” it is clear I have not had
the chance to let the song “settle” and to come back to it with a new listening
experience. Thus, this is to point out that ratings given here may be overly
hasty and potentially full of bias. On that note, my personal bias—musical and
as a fan—might come out in this review. I am a huge fan of MAMAMOO musically,
but I also very much admire the ladies and look up to Solar as my role model. Given
how recent the song is, I might have unknowingly inflated the ratings due to a
personal desire to support MAMAMOO. Finally, and  to further expand on a mentioned point,
besides enjoy MAMAMOO’s music, it perfectly happens that “Decalcomanie” suits
my personal music preferences. Songs that follow “Decalcomanie” ‘s style tend
to be ones I enjoy most, and thus, bias can easily leak into the review.

Those points clarified, for one more
final message, this review might be shorter than usual. Due to being extremely
busy with university (coincidentally I have a music research paper due in a few
days), I will instead focus this review towards more critical, controversial
points rather than guiding readers through every detail of the song. This is
unfortunate as, whenever I give “extreme” ratings—ratings that are polarized
either very positively or negatively—I do end up writing more thorough
explanations so that readers can understand my perspectives.

Edit:
A dance version was uploaded and thus, the following points are no longer
relevant. Shoutout to RBW Entertainment for their decision to release a dance
version this early versus, for example, delaying it a few weeks so as to
stretch out a song’s popularity.

Lastly, before hopping into the
review itself, I will now address the links. As per usual, the music video is
included. The reason, however, an audio link is included is because there is a
huge pause in the middle of the music video for the purposes of plot because we still
socially find it “sexy” for boys to be aggressive and forceful, and if this is
the case, I demand a music video where a woman is forceful to boys since that
will be considered equally “sexy” and if not we have a problem. (Edit: With actually watching the video now,
I will say Moonbyul saved the day and she can pull me roughly in for a kiss whenever
she wants. Partially kidding. Mostly not. Can I have my “first kiss” with
Moonbyul?)
. Am I taking out my university stress onto a
music video plot and encouraging readers to be critical consumers of it?
Probably. Am I “fanboying” over Moonbyul and her soothing, charming deep voice?
Probably. Now do I find the music video itself aesthetically pleasing and in
that regard still praise the video even with its questionable plot? Yes. Social
critiques and jokes aside, while the audio link will serve as what readers
should be listening to in terms of following my review, I will remind future
readers that it is liable to copyright. Therefore, future readers months or
even years ahead might be forced to rely on the music video.

All of this covered, let us focus on
why I assert “Decalcomanie” is for sure not only MAMAMOO’s best release, but
possibly one of the best releases I have heard in a long time.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 7/10
(7.25/10 raw score) – “Above average”


Vocals: 8/10


Sections: 8/10
(8.0/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Chorus: 9/10

4.     Rap: 8/10

5.     Bridge: 7/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 9/10


Instrumental: 8/10


Lyrics: 5/10

[Instrumental]

Knock knock
Strange is your appearance and unusual eyes
It’s a little bit suspicious
It’s 10 to 12
Getting influenced by the atmosphere
We’re looking at each other
Even the silence is sticky
Looks like our relationship is going to burst

You and I kiss
I feel good
Leave me to you
I feel good
This is dangerous, dangerous, dangerous
I think maybe I’ll cross the line
Drawn to you
I feel good
An orange-colored drawing
I feel good
It’s a little bit dangerous, dangerous
But I can’t stop even if it’s dangerous
I feel good

Knock knock
I already predicted this
Ladies have a really good sense
It has already happened
We spend the midnight secretly

At that time, knock knock
Since last summer, like an adolescent girl
I dreamt a romance night and day
I only waited today
Oh yes
Oh, cellphone is off, deadly breath
A secret party, roll out the red carpet
Welcome to my place, knock knock
Put your hands above your head
Clap your hands

You and I kiss
I feel good
Leave me to you
I feel good
This is dangerous, dangerous, dangerous
I think maybe I’ll cross the line
Drawn to you
I feel good
An orange-colored drawing
I feel good
It’s a little bit dangerous, dangerous
But I can’t stop even if it’s dangerous
I feel good

Your whispering wakes me up
(I feel good)
Your gesture and motion
(I feel good)
This morning only with you
(I feel good)
I feel good, good, good, good

Roughly combed hair and a body like a hulk
I want to see your line and hug you from behind
Keep on, I can’t breathe
I can’t control myself
I prepared for you
(MAMAMOO is coming back for you)
Knock knock knock knock
Put your hands above your head
Clap your hands

You and I kiss
I feel good
Leave me to you
I feel good
This is dangerous, dangerous, dangerous
I think maybe I’ll cross the line
Drawn to you
I feel good
An orange-colored drawing
I feel good
It’s a little bit dangerous, dangerous
But I can’t stop even if it’s dangerous
I feel good

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: As
readers can tell, the song scores very well. Eights are by no means easy to
achieve, and yet “Decalcomanie” manages to earn all but one. In particular,
though, that “one” holds back its overall rating: the lyrics. As alluded to
earlier, the song’s sonic components are brilliant, but unfortunately, the
lyrics are average at most. The plot, for one, is nothing extraordinary.
Certainly the plot’s overall focus on “forbidden love” may be intriguing
considering it is a rarer plot outline, but even so it fails to stretch beyond
its label. Whether a song is about sweet love, heartbreaking split ups, or
about falling for someone when one should not (as in this song), what I remain
critical of is how far—or not—the lyrics go beyond these generic summaries. In
“Decalcomanie,” unfortunately the lyrics do not extend the plot beyond that
overarching label. If there was an unexpected plot-twist that occurred in the
lyrics that complicated the general storyline label, implicitly or explicitly,
this would have been desirable.

Furthermore,
another limiting feature to the lyrics is its details: lacking complexity. The
verses and raps provide some variety, but even then, the details render more as
filler than introducing new ideas. Most impairing, though, are the choruses
(though this will sound ironic later once we focus on the audio): repetitive in
form and providing minimal detail to the plot. Additionally, with how the
choruses are a huge core to the song and therefore reused often, the already
lackluster state of them makes the lyrics even more limited.

Switching
over to the audio itself now, what makes “Decalcomanie” score incredibly well
is that it excels in what I argue are the two main factors of a song:
composition and execution. Now this may sound confusing; after all, based on my
review outline, are the factors I consider important—for K-Pop at least—the
vocals, sections, instrumental, and lyrics? Although those are the factors we
focus on, I am talking in an even more general sense: looking at a song at,
say, the production and composition stages. For what I am connoting with
“composition” as a general factor, I refer to the song in of itself. In other
words, how the song is laid out and is arranged, structured, and the like.
Think of it as the skeleton to a song. In terms of “execution,” then, I am
referring to when idols provide their vocals and furthermore, when the song
actually physically plays versus being theoretical.

Point
is, “Decalcomanie” does both well and I mention these “composition” and
“execution” labels since, admittedly, songs can still do decently if not well
as long as one of those excel. For example, GFriend’s
“Navillera”
I have argued is a solidly composed
song. That said, the execution in terms of the vocals— while still great—is not
at an incredibly high level. GFriend, overall, tends to excel more from song
composition strengths than necessarily relying on pure vocal execution to bring
excellent songs. Is this bad? Again, it is not since in the end their songs do
in fact flourish—specifically with “Rough” and “Navillera” if we are to be
exact. And of course, there are cases where groups with solid execution can
make an otherwise lackluster song composition excel. An example in mind of this
case would be SPICA’s “Tonight”: the song’s composition does come off as
repetitive and a bit plain, but SPICA’s vocal execution brings forth an
excellent song as the end result. With this all in mind now, let it be
reiterated: MAMAMOO’s  “Decalcomanie”
does both well—and indeed,
considering just excelling in one is enough to warrant great songs, this should
be indicative of how much potential MAMAMOO’s comeback has.

The
introduction might provide a clear example of solid execution and composition
at work. With the introduction, one may argue it is plain: after all, it is
merely a beat occurring—and at that, it lasts for a few seconds. On closer
inspection, however, this supposed minor section brings forth major benefits to
“Decalcomanie.” On a composition level, given that the song is relatively
quick-paced with its progression—for example, note that it has no pre-chorus, as
we will further discuss later—an introduction that is crafted in a way as to
establish the song’s pacing is vital. The lack of a shorter introduction would
potentially lead to listeners feeling that the song is overly rushed. Imagine
this: The introduction is a lengthy, dramatic, piano-based introduction. If “Decalcomanie”
adopted this route, everything following after—the verse then chorus—would have
been too sudden. Thus, even if the introduction is seemingly short and
worthless, I argue its limited duration was very much planned out.  

Now
in terms of the execution of the introduction’s sounds, what should be noticed
is that the delivered “plain beats” are no longer “plain” if we stop listening
to them in an abstract vacuum. Since the instrumental actually continues on,
seamlessly, into the following verse, it builds cohesion into the song at a
very early point. Besides how important cohesion is in, once again, this
fast-paced song, the beauty of the execution is more on the instrumental
continuing freely. It is these simple beats that begin the very first steps and
buildup for the verses—all in a smooth, clean, and concise fashion.

Let
us now focus on the choruses, though, as these sections are ultimately what I
assert as the main core to the song. Moreover, these sections provide another
example of how “Decalcomanie” possesses both solid execution and composition.
For example, when focusing on the execution, MAMAMOO’s vocals and the
instrumental are of immediate attention. In this section, both aspects
flourish. The vocals are almost self-explanatory: they are powerful, soft,
precise, wild, and if accounting for the song in whole, it remains diverse with
including raps and the rougher verses. As for the instrumental’s execution, there
are many subtle features that deserve praising. In particular, despite the instrumental
following a more simplistic form, the way it carries out is indispensable to
the choruses’ success. With how the vocals are incredibly intense and active,
the direction of the song is easily lost; listeners can easily become
disorientated due to how overpowering the vocals can be. To counteract that,
the instrumental’s simpler execution does just that: it provides a contrast to
MAMAMOO’s stellar, energetic singing as the heavier bass line is a blatant,
easy sound to follow, and equally the rhythm and beats maintaining a slightly
slower rate and less intense state and thus provides other aspects for a
listener to maintain her balance.

However,
even with all of that covered, there is still one peculiar feature that makes
the choruses go to a nine—a rating that is essentially the highest possible for
this blog. My answer to this is: coordination—both within the section itself,
but also outside the section itself. Since we have partially covered the
section itself, though, I will focus more on the latter.

If
we view the choruses from a wider perspective and view it in relation to all of
the other sections, we would discover some risky composition decisions that,
thankfully, resulted well. Specifically, what I am most drawn to is how the
choruses are self-sufficient; alone, the choruses fulfill—with admittedly some
assistance from the verses—the role of, say, pre-choruses and post-choruses.
Especially as discussed earlier with how the song lacks pre-choruses—sections
that are defaults in almost every pop song—this was an extremely bold move from
the composers. Nevertheless, it very much worked out and that is due to how the
choruses—and verses—are composed in a certain manner.

For
one, before the choruses directly begin, there is a generic format used:
quickening beats—or in this case, clapping—that signaled a change. Whether this
portion belongs to the verse or chorus is unclear, and I would argue that is
irrelevant as the main point is that it provides a blatant transition. More
importantly, for when the choruses unequivocally arrive, the very first seconds
if not the first second provides
another critical transition. During this moment, the vocals are marginally played
ahead of time before the instrumental begins once again. That initiation from
the vocals—and to clarify, the vocals do start the choruses at a high peak—is essentially
the “pre-chorus” of the song if we dare claim it as that. Even if it appears
sudden, I would disagree with that: the choruses are quick but not sudden—the latter
implying the composition did not properly transition from the verse to chorus. This
all relates back, however, to my initial point: that the choruses are
incredibly well coordinated. The choruses are working with minimal time to pull off, as we have discussed, simple tasks such
as transitions, but because of the efficiency and coordination of the choruses,
everything manages to tie together.

Overall,
MAMAMOO’s comeback is definitely an above average song, and I would argue it is
a good song. Past releases may have
focused more on being upbeat and pop-distinctive, but the ladies have now
equally proven they can deliver well with a more refined, powerful and intense
song. Currently, I will consider “Decalcomanie” the best song of the year, and
I would be incredibly pleased if another song manages to contest that. And so
to end, while this review is by far the worst I have written in a while (“Decalcomanie”
is, after all, a really complex song in my opinion), I will leave the main
summary of this review: MAMAMOO’s comeback is amazing. It is fabulous.
Fantastic. “Decalcomanie” is pure beauty in its composition and in its vocal
and instrumental delivery.

_______________________________________________________

Once
again, I do apologize with this review being rather unorganized and rough in
its analysis. There are so many impressive moments in this song, and I
unfortunately lack the musical skills to be able to truly deconstruct all of those
specific pieces—let alone attempt to articulate them. But, if anything, this
song is another reason for why I argue repetitively that the humanities
matters. Music can be—and is—very beautiful.

Look
forward to other reviews to come, some of which will be focused on recent songs
and some on catching up from October’s reviews. I plan to release a few extremely
short reviews in a week or so. All in all, “I feel good” with “Decalcomanie.”
It is by far one of the better songs I have heard.

TWICE – “TT” Review

(Music Video)

TWICE – TT

Reviewed
on October 24, 2016

Vocals do not necessarily have to be utterly dynamic and possessing a multitude of styles and forms, but in this song’s case of not having moments of noticeable changes, appeal is greatly lost.

Edit:
I have decided to post this sooner rather than on Halloween due to the song
trending and that I want to voice my opinion on the “hating” of TWICE.

Personal Message:
Here is a tale of two kids’
adventurous night. Little did they know, they were in for a fright. Or was that
last phrase not very polite? After all, it was TWICE who came to light! Indeed,
this reviewer shall see his mistake though only in hindsight. Besides, are
these rhymes not trite? While this poem fails to sound right, I will remind you
all: this review begins tonight—or at least that is when I write. So come
inside and sit tight; rest assured, you have enough might. Fans of TWICE may
feel, for this review, uptight—but I promise you all: this is all for delight.

And that is enough rhyming and
probably not worth the many minutes I spent pondering over words that would
rhyme and still make sense in some
form. Perhaps I was overly optimistic when I challenged myself to write this
entire Personal Message in rhyme. On topic, while I hope readers enjoy the
horrible poetry (and admittedly I very much dislike poetry except for perhaps The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti—a
great read for those wanting a poem that can be analyzed through a multitude of
literary/social lenses), if not clear on why I took on that playful route, it
is Halloween as of this review’s posting date. Coincidentally, while searching
for K-Pop songs that had a spookier tone, TWICE had a comeback that aligned
perfectly with this. Thus, it is a win-win situation: I get a holiday-themed
review (for those whose culture celebrates it, of course; ironically enough, I
personally do not celebrate it minus in the form of this review) all while reviewing
a comeback of arguably the top rising female group. Transitioning now to a more
serious tone, though, let us begin discussing TWICE.

As some readers may know, I have
reviewed their debut song (“Like Ooh-Ahh”). While I will not link the review,
readers can easily find it in the blog’s archive. Most importantly to take away
from that review are two main points: for the simple one, TWICE did not
musically impress me nor did the song’s production; but more importantly, for
the second point, that even if a song scores poorly this does not mean an
artist is bereft of musical skills. With the latter point, more often than not,
I would argue it is a song’s production that controls quality more than the
artists’ skills. A simple and relevant example is I.O.I’s final song: “Very
Very Very.” Although I say the following words with much respect, that song is
rather mediocre and definitely a weaker song I have heard. Is this due to I.O.I
being incapable vocalists? Not at all; another song, “Hold Up,” is a fantastic
song and specifically with the vocals, I.O.I certainly shines. With TWICE, many
of these points apply—more so with “Like Ooh-Ahh” and “Cheer Up” as their past
songs have been exceptionally weaker ones (as I would argue).

Now of course for critical fans and
listeners—or perhaps those truly looking to bash
the ladies versus critiquing them
(yes, there is a difference; the former is never justified while the latter is
based on intellectual, mature discussions)—there is an opposing side to my
previous statements. One could easily argue: “What if TWICE receives weaker
song productions because they actually cannot
sing to higher standard?” To this, I have a few answers. For one, I personally
am not familiar enough with TWICE to fully understand their vocal capabilities.
In fact, I only know that Jihyo is their main vocalist and do not know the
other members’ musical positions (lead vocalist; sub/support vocalist, etc.). In
other words, this opposing argument is very much still valid: if it is
true—again, I personally do not know—that TWICE is overall vocally weaker than
most artists, this definitely would affect the songs they receive. On the other
hand, if it is true that TWICE are in fact solid singers but only receive
generic pop songs, then their vocals will never be disclosed to their fullest
potential. However, regardless of the heated musical debates, though I very
much cherish them and do believe listeners of pop music should go beyond merely
listening to a song and instead actively
listen to pop (a future review will discuss “active listening”), I believe listeners
have forgotten one point we all need to be reminded of: TWICE members are human
beings, too.

While it is definitely fair to
criticize them musically—that is, to maturely
challenge their musical skills and songs—sometimes listeners become overly zealous
in doing so to the point that we dehumanize TWICE members. For example, I have
read very atrocious comments about the ladies that are based not on, say,
sexism or racism, but on their supposed “lack of skills.” Based on supposedly
lacking musical skills, a few people have went to the degree of urging them to
quit their careers or that the ladies are complete failures and bring shame to
music. Again, sure these comments are not necessarily “socially dehumanizing,”
but even so, these comments on the basis of their music still very much hurt
TWICE members and completely disregards their accomplishments and hard work.

For what I wish to say to these
remarks and people, I understand the passion one feels when listening to rather
weak songs; it is true that it can be frustrating in a musical context, and
admittedly more so when a group is receiving much attention for “lacking
musical skills”—and let us be honest, TWICE is
getting quite popular. So, for people who see them as musically weak and yet
succeeding while other skilled groups are struggling to keep up, it makes sense
on why many bash TWICE. I definitely do not accept that behavior, though, and
this is where I will put in my honest take. Personally, I am not a musical fan of TWICE; I find their past
songs very poor and I personally do consider them a less musically skilled
group and at times am surprised at how popular they are getting despite such.
And yet, I consider myself a supporter of TWICE. That is right: as a critical
listener and pop music reviewer (and I do hope this does not sound
condescending), I am supporting a group that I do consider musically weaker.
Why do I do that? Because, besides how pop music is definitely more than just
the music itself such as with variety shows, I respect TWICE as the hard
working human beings they are. Sure,
“Cheer Up” was horrendous (from my argument) and yet it got them even more
popular, but this does not mean I have the privilege to now neglect the members
for who they are and what they have done. It is mentally and
physically difficult to be a K-Pop idol, and knowing how hard they worked to
get into the industry needs to be respected. Most importantly, though, at the
end of it all, they are humans. Humans. This is not to say we should never
criticize TWICE’s music; funny enough, after this digression ends, I will very
much hammer down on TWICE’s latest song. The point of this message, then, is
that we need to separate music from
the social: we can criticize TWICE’s music and
still be decent, compassionate, loving human beings that support the ladies. (And
likewise, we can appreciate an artist’s musical works even if, for example, she
is very racist. Again we definitely need to challenge the social side of her,
but the music itself is its own context.)

In summary, for those who feel it is
unfair that TWICE is getting popular despite releasing weaker songs (and to
fans, notice that these “haters” are not just purely hating; there actually are
reasons for their bashing—though again, bashing is never permissible),
remember: it is just a song at the end of the day. So, for those against TWICE,
I do encourage criticizing their songs in a mature and intellectual manner (in
other words, explain why TWICE’s songs are “so bad” instead of just saying it)
but remember to not overextend that line. I can say “Cheer Up” is a bad song,
or more controversially, that Jihyo is a weaker main vocalist (not my personal
example, to clarify; it is one I am making up), but never can I ever be allowed to say Jihyo is a disgusting, shameful
and useless member—this has no relevancy to music and is attacking an artist
versus attacking her work.

All of this covered, and I do hope
TWICE fans spread the essence of that message: that TWICE can be supported and respected,
all while challenging their music. Besides that, though, we have another matter
to deal with: “TT.” Finally focusing on the review, I say with confidence that
TWICE’s song production is a bit more sophisticated this time and that “TT” is
by far the best song from the ladies. In fact, vocal improvements might even be
in place. However, the real question is whether “TT” is a strong song in
general. Sadly, in answer to that, I will use the song’s title: “TT”—in other
words, the emoticon for tears.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(4.75/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 4/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 4/10

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Instrumental]

I’m in two minds
In an awkward situation
I just stare and say ba-ba-ba-baby
Every day I only imagine without asking
I talk casually and say your name, baby
But we don’t even know each other
Beautiful no matter what I wear
Just the two of us in the mirror having a
fashion show, show
This time for sure, I’ll be the first to talk, talk
But it’s only in my head, always only in my head

Na na na na na na na
I start humming and before I know it,
I feel like crying
I don’t feel like myself
This isn’t like me at all
I love you so much

Think I’m all grown up now
I’m free to make my own choices, but why
Why can’t I have it my way?
The more I try to push you away,
the more I’m drawn and attracted to you, baby
I’m like TT*
Just like TT
You don’t know how I feel
So mean, so mean
I’m like TT
Just like TT
Tell me that you’d be my baby

You say I’m ridiculous
That I don’t live up to my looks
Doesn’t cheer me up at all, ba-ba-ba-baby
I’m going crazy in all this mess
Why do I feel hungry?
I eat all day and am still hungry
Slap slap slap slap
the innocent doll
I sit and lie down all day
Time flies flies flies
What’s with the dull skin again
Keep wanting to just complain
Mom keeps bothering me, why why why why?

Na na na na na na na
I start humming and before I know it
I feel so irritated, I’m so upset
I’m normally not like this
I love you so much

Think I’m all grown up now
I’m free to make my own choices, but why
Why can’t I have it my way?
The more I try to push you away,
the more I’m drawn and attracted to you, baby
I’m like TT
Just like TT
You don’t know how I feel
So mean, so mean
I’m like TT
Just like TT
Tell me that you’d be my baby

Do you realize what’s going on inside me?
Don’t disappear from my view like this
This time for sure,
I’ll be the first to talk, talk
But it’s only in my head,
always only in my head

Think I’m all grown up now
I’m free to make my own choices, but why
Why can’t I have it my way?
The more I try to push you away,
the more I’m drawn and attracted to you baby
I’m like TT
Just like TT
You don’t know how I feel
So mean, so mean
I’m like TT
Just like TT
Tell me that you’d be my baby

*TT is in reference to the emoticon of crying and tears running down.

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
discussing the song itself, I forgot to mention another crucial reminder: that
catchiness, in my reviews and opinion, is an insufficient trait to justify as a
song’s strength. I bring up this point as admittedly “TT” is definitely one of
the catchiest songs I have heard. In a casual style of listening to music (such
as while exercising), “TT” indeed is very enjoyable due to its said catchiness.
However, as discussed in multiple reviews (refer to “Russian
Roulette”
and “Doo
Doom Chit”
) this trait will be something I overlook since we are going to
be critically engaging with—or better yet, actively
listening to—“TT.” At most, I will analyze how catchiness affects certain
aspects of the song, but readers should be aware that the fact that “TT” is
catchy is completely irrelevant in of itself. Finally onto the review itself,
while fans may not necessarily be satisfied at the overall rating being five
for average, fans should recall that “Like Ooh-Ahh” scored one rating less.

To
start, “TT” struggles with the same category that has been prevalent in all of
their title songs so far: vocals. Now to clarify, the extent of this is not
extreme; it is a four which indicates “slightly below average.” In an
overarching view, the vocals’ main drawback is the lack of diversity. Vocals do
not necessarily have to be utterly dynamic and possessing a multitude of styles
and forms, but in this song’s case of not having moments of noticeable changes,
appeal is greatly lost. From the verse to final chorus (conclusion), the vocals
per section are indistinguishable and possess a mundane sound after multiple playbacks.
I attribute this to how the vocals simply fail to deviate from one another
throughout: notice that there are minimal to no shifts in intensity, styles, or
even tune at times. For example—and to focus in a bit on a more individual
level—let us hone in on the choruses. While it is not a detriment for a chorus
to not be a high, upbeat, climactic point, the vocals in this section are
hardly established as unique when juxtaposed to the verse and pre-chorus. The
pacing, for example, remains roughly the same, and intriguingly the vocals’
tune do not become more complex than the verses’ vocal tunes. Now obviously
there are changes in tune as one may point out, but I am referring to how if we
draw ourselves back away: doing so reveals that, for the most part, the vocals
are in fact quite linear and all sound akin. In certain songs, this linear
vocal form can very much be the core strength of a song’s vocals, but as we
will discuss with the instrumental, this song does not appear to accommodate
this form and hence why the vocals are rated lower.

With
mentioning the instrumental, this category scored at a six and rightly so: it
is decent and augments the song in many ways. Sonically, the heavier bass
covers pitches that the vocals otherwise do not cover given their static, stale
nature. Structurally, the instrumental covers usual points well such as transitions
or aiding in making transparent the song’s crescendos (the “build up”) and decrescendos
(the “build down” or “relaxing”). Returning to the earlier point with the
vocals, however, although the instrumental covers for the vocals’ lacking
points, as said there is a paradox here. Because the instrumental delivers its
own linear flow but on lower notes in comparison to the vocals, while in
certain cases this dual similarity is beneficial, in “TT” it is arguably this
syncing that creates the dullness in the vocals. Given the deeper sounds of the
instrumental and its lack of higher pitched instrument sounds, the vocals
should then adopt that role of being dynamic to help compensate—but that does
not occur. Instead, the vocals follow a similar flow to the instrumental,
though on higher pitches. The result? “TT” moves in a straight fashion with
minimal changes throughout, and while the rhythm is certainly catchy, this
creates an overly stale song that, perhaps best said, sounds “stuck.”

Bearing
in mind the prior point, rather than blaming the instrumental itself on the
conflicts between the vocals and said instrumental, the true culprits to blame
are the sections. Since we have covered the sections’ faults in a more
overarching view, let us now focus in on individual ones. As seen by the
ratings, the song employs many average structures and techniques, and with some
in specific, the song actually falters with execution. Specifically with the
choruses and pre-choruses for example, in addition to once again the excessive
staleness that occurs from combining the vocals and instrumental, these
sections have some extra problems. The choruses’ second half’s pauses, for one,
may add some dynamic to the song’s plainer flow, but the problem here is the
vocals become additionally more dull as a result. Similarly, the pre-choruses
may be functional in transitioning the song—though admittedly the method is
already quite standard—but when it comes to the vocals, there is a sacrifice:
the vocals bounce back and forth like the instrumental, but doing so drains
away the vocals’ tunes and in place leaves lifeless, hollow vocal sounds.

Miraculously,
however, “TT” does still render averagely and that is agreeably with.
Essentially, “TT” is a song that is composed using very traditional pop forms
but that its downfall is in a slightly weaker execution with those forms. But,
overall, “TT” does mostly come away as an average pop song: catchy and fun, but
lacking complexity and more strenuous, impressive execution and composition.

_______________________________________________________

My
one week break ended, sadly, and today is the first day of classes once again.
That said, I do apologize for failing to truly catch up on reviews. I plan to
finish this month out with SHINee’s “1 of 1” and Hyuna’s “How’s This?” (and the
social discussion within that review). For the beginning of November, I plan to
review Apink’s “Only One” as this song is a solid example of how “active
listening” can change a song from being supposedly weak to being actually quite
impressive. (And indeed, I will have a digression on what it means to be an
active listener of music and on how to actually begin doing so.)

With
this review, while it was planned to be my Halloween special review, we will
consider this an early one. Regardless, I hope the review proves insightful and
engaging, and that the Personal Message would relate to many fans—and anti-fans—of
TWICE. As always thank you for reading or skimming, and “You don’t know how I
feel” when it comes to that so thank you very much. Look forward to the
upcoming reviews.

BTS – “Blood Sweat & Tears” Review

(Music Video) / (Live Performance) / (Audio;
unofficial upload)

BTS (Bangtan Boys) – Blood
Sweat & Tears

Reviewed
on October 16, 2016

The main hesitation, then, for why the
vocals are rated at a six and not quite a seven is due to one section in
particular: the choruses. These sections contain useless fillers. From a vocal
standpoint, the singing—or more accurately, mere speaking—of the choruses, and
of which are already vocally overly tedious, ruin the balance of “BST” ‘s
calmer, passive vocals.

Personal Message:
I am finally on break for one week,
and indeed getting away from university (though I still have much homework) is
delightful due to rest. With that, besides catching up on finally relaxing, I
will equally be catching up on reviews. I hope to finish at least three within
the week.

Regarding this review, first of all:
thank you to the requester for sending this in. It has been a while since the
prior request, and furthermore I am glad to receive a request on a song that
many fans are interested in. In fact, given that BTS is definitely one of the
more popular groups—and rightfully so after watching their performance of
“Blood Sweat & Tears”—this is the first time where I feel heavily burdened
to review a song: both with finishing it in a timely fashion, but more importantly
with actually bringing justice to the review itself. Nevertheless, even if this
review will gain a larger viewership due to it involving BTS, I will still be
“objectively subjective”; in other words, I will still review the song as I
deem fit and not be pressured to sway it into a good rating for the purpose of
fans. Optimistically, though, no pressuring is necessary: I foresee “Blood
Sweat & Tears” (and of which will be abbreviated as “BST” from here on for
convenience) scoring decently. However, do I confidently claim it is a strong
song per se and one of the better ones I have heard? Sadly, no amount of blood,
sweat, or tears would convince me of that.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 6/10
(5.67/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction
(Pre-Chorus/Chorus): 7/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 7/10

My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my last dance
My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my cold breath
My blood, sweat and tears

Even my blood, sweat and tears
Even my body, heart and soul
I know that it’s all yours
This is a spell that’ll punish me
Peaches and cream
Sweeter than sweet
Chocolate cheeks and chocolate wings
But your wings are wings of the Devil’s
In front of your sweet is bitter, bitter
Kiss me, I don’t care if it hurts
Hurry and choke me
so I can’t hurt any more
Baby, I don’t care if you get drunk
I’ll drink you in now
Your whiskey, deep into my throat

My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my last dance
My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my cold breath

I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot

I don’t care if it hurts, tie me up
So I can’t run away
Grab me tightly and shake me
So I can’t snap out of it
Kiss me on the lips, lips
Our own little secret
I want to be addicted to your prison
So I can’t serve anyone that’s not you
Even though I know,
I drink the poisonous Holy Grail

My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my last dance
My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my cold breath

I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot

Kill me softly
Close my eyes with your touch
I can’t even reject you anyway
I can’t run away anymore
You’re too sweet, too sweet
Because you’re too sweet

My blood, sweat and tears
My blood, sweat and tears

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: As
readers can tell, “BST” does score at a six—and that is not a bad score at all.
Perhaps the best summary of this song is that it is a rather balanced one;
there are no extreme points in the song—musically and statistically. Every
aspect of the song relates to one another and thus, the outcome is a very cohesive
song. With this in mind, then, this review will focus not necessarily on critiquing
the weak points of the song; instead, the focus will be on why “BST” is not as strong as it could have been.

Beginning,
though, with a category the song excels in, the lyrics are phenomenal. Whether
the following words are accurate or not, I feel as if recent reviewed songs
have only been average with their lyrics. Furthermore, even other songs I have
been listening to as of the late seem dull in their lyrical content. However
when it comes to “BST,” the lyrics do not just meet my review standards—in specific,
containing a variety of details and delivering a creative, distinctive plot or
message—but they in fact exceed them. For example at each verse, not only are
they separate from every other section, but within the verses the given details
are incredibly thorough and complex. Moreover, even with moments of somewhat
repetitive lines—a key example being “My blood, sweat, and tears”—a higher
level of complexity still exists. It is not as if BTS is chanting, for a random
example, “My blood, blood, blood” or, even worse, “La la la la” (though
exceptions do exist when this is permissible); rather, this repeated phrase in
particular is one that is crucial to the lyrics’ overarching plot.

And
on that note, the lyrics’ plot is very unique—though in particular, the delivery of the plot. In truth, the plot
itself is not necessarily exclusive: it is of a main character who is trapped
in an implicitly abusive relationship. Though the plot topic is rather unnerving
and even disturbing, other (pop) songs have very much introduced this before
and therefore, it is not utterly new. Nevertheless, as mentioned, the delivery
of this very plot is where “BST” ‘s lyrics shine: the verses and bridge are
prime examples. At most for a critique—and for what arguably very much limits
the song in a musical sense as we will discuss—the choruses’ lyrics are rather
mediocre. It is unfortunately a repeated line that is no better than “La la la”
and the like. But given how the rest of it compensates over, a seven is still
in place.

Turning
our attention now to the more important aspects of the song, as hinted at in
the last paragraph, the current choruses in this song are “BST” ‘s weakest
point. I would boldly argue that if a certain modification were made to them, the
song might have actually scored a seven—or at least, the vocals and sections
would have. What change would I suggest? Before going there, let me first explain
why the scores are as is.

When
it comes to BTS’ vocals, I very appreciate this song being a solid example of
how decent singing does not equate to amazing note holds, constant vocal
beltings, or having complicated and rigorous tunes. BTS’ singing (and rapping
if one renders the verses as raps) focuses less on power and intensity and
instead prioritizes tune—but even so, it is in a simpler form. Essentially, the
pre-choruses’ are the most complex and intensive forms of singing—and indeed,
the vocals are quite delightful there. However, even if the verses for example
are less strenuous, the vocals there are still adequate as the focus becomes on
rhythm and flow—akin to rapping. (And once again, perhaps the verses are actually
more accurately labeled as the song’s raps.) The main hesitation, then, for why
the vocals are rated at a six and not quite a seven is due to one section in
particular: the choruses. These sections contain useless fillers. From a vocal
standpoint, the singing—or more accurately, mere speaking—of the choruses, and
of which are already vocally overly tedious, ruin the balance of “BST” ‘s
calmer, passive vocals. A mixture of harsh and tuneless lines are added when,
most likely, the removal of vocals during the choruses have been much more
desirable and maintain the vocals’ existing strengths.

Continuing
on with the topic of “BST” ‘s choruses, they also prove problematic when focusing
on the sections themselves. First, though, it should be clarified that the
sections are overall solid. The verses and pre-choruses, for examples, fulfill
their roles of progressing the song all while maintaining sonic appeal. Likewise,
the conclusion ends the song in a timely fashion, and in particular with the
introduction, this section is fantastic and, coincidentally, sets an example of
how the choruses should have been.

To
explain the introduction’s assets as its rating is remarkable (in comparison to
the rest, at least), its unique structuring of being both the pre-chorus and
chorus is already one point, but more critically let us examine why that structuring—the fact that it is
both the pre-chorus and chorus—is a benefit and beyond just the fact that it is
creative. For one, the pre-chorus’ form provides “BST” a hook: the vocals, as
discussed, are at their best form when it is the pre-chorus, and additionally,
the build-up of the pre-choruses—the crescendo if we wish to be technical—is effective
at just that. In other words, the crescendo creates a sense of anticipation;
the build-up makes listeners desire to hear what the song climaxes to—even if
it is at the very beginning of the song. If we are considering the role of the introduction
is to create that hook, the introduction does that perfectly. Moreover, though,
we must consider what including a short, pure instrumental chorus in the
introduction does: it satisfies the “climax” listeners automatically search for
without entirely leaking the true climaxes and it provides a seamless
transition into the song itself. Regarding the latter, specifically without
that transition point in the introduction, besides an abrupt entry into the
first verse, the crescendo would have been left unresolved, and given that the
next chorus does not arrive until a while, that would have too excessive of a
delay.

Now
returning to weaker points of the sections, the choruses, once again, are at
fault. Being exact, the added vocals are simply the main issue. Vocally, it remains
lacking as already discussed, but on a structural level, that insufficiency—the
fact that the vocals lack during the choruses—is now a further problem for the
section itself: the choruses, being dull and repetitive, defeat the supposed
climactic point of the song. “BST” does a fabulous job at progressing the song
to its core point, but that very point—the chorus—comes short by a large
amount. It is this that causes the choruses to be structurally weak, but more
drastically, the song in whole is now impaired by it. After all, if the
supposed climax of a song comes off as not
a climactic point, is that not disappointing?

Miraculously,
however, “BST” in its entirety still holds strong at a six. If the choruses
were less repetitive and stale in their format—perhaps by entirely removing the
vocals that occur during these sections—then everything else might have
potentially been augmented. As is, though, “BST” is a decent song but its
choruses are ones that very much limit its potential from going beyond its
current state. Overall, yes “BST” is slightly above average, but is it anything
more? As I have argued in this review, because of the choruses, the answer to
that question is a no: the vocals, sections, and overall progression of the
song are held back by the choruses. All in all, even if this critique on “BST”
is considered overly harsh, we must all still bear in mind the song is still decent. The lyrics are
brilliant, and of course, the vocals, sections, and instrumental are decent—the
problem is just that more could have
been obtained. I personally consider “I Need U” the best release from BTS so
far, but indeed I can agree “Blood Sweat & Tears” is still admirable and is
definitely not a disappointing comeback in any form.

_______________________________________________________

Two
more reviews are definitely to come by this week: Hyuna’s “How’s This?” and,
for a new artist to be reviewed on the blog, SHINee’s “1 of 1.” Addressing this
current review, I do feel that I failed to bring a more insightful discussion
to “Blood Sweat & Tears.” With that, I apologize to fans who might have a
desired a very thorough analysis of every aspect to the song. Nonetheless, I
hope I was able to convey my main critiques and praises of the song. Of course,
though, private feedback is always desirable so if any reader has some input
please do share them. And as always, readers should feel free to disagree with
my points; I am from a professional and on top of that music is always
subjective.

For
next time, look forward to the mentioned two reviews to come. I plan to finish
them both by this week as I have a week off from university. Until then, “You’re
too sweet.” Thank you for reading this review—in full or skimmed—and for being
quite patient with this review. And thank you very much to the requester of
this review; without the request, I would have very likely missed this review,
so thank you from me and from fans.