Bulldok – “Why Not” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Dance
Practice)

Bulldok – Why Not

Reviewed
on December 23, 2016

And
so, while many fans and listeners have argued this song is an amazing debut for
Bulldok and is an incredibly solid song, once again I will be on the opposing
side: I argue “Why Not” is a song that, in portions, seemingly holds well, but
once we account for its overall lack of cohesion, we will instead find a song
that is ultimately too clunky.

Personal Message:
With only a few days left in December,
admittedly I am on a slight rush and thus, I do apologize if this seeps into
the following reviews. For some random background, I had originally planned to
review “Why Not” towards early November, but as we can tell, that did not
happen. Nevertheless, given Bulldok’s debut was cherished by many—and that it
is always a pleasure to review artists who I have yet to cover on the blog—I have
decided to indeed review them despite the great delay.

In regards to “Why Not” and this
review in general, I will be clear: many fans will most likely not be content with
it. I say this due to the given ratings—many of which are on the lower end. And
so, while many fans and listeners have argued this song is an amazing debut for
Bulldok and is an incredibly solid song, sadly I will be on the opposing side: I
argue “Why Not” is a song that, in portions, seemingly holds well, but once we account
for its overall lack of cohesion, we will instead find a song that is
ultimately too clunky.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 4/10
(3.75/10 raw score) – “Slightly below average”


Vocals: 4/10


Sections: 4/10
(3.71/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Rap: 7/10

3.     Verse: 3/10

4.     Pre-Chorus: 3/10

5.     Chorus: 2/10

6.     Bridge: 2/10

7.     Conclusion (Introduction): 4/10


Instrumental: 3/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Bulldok right here
Bulldok right here
Yeah yeah yeah
Let’s get it poppin’
Ayo, ayo
B.U.L.L.D.O.K girl
Ayo, ayo
Yes we back in a house
Ayo, ayo
B.U.L.L.D.O.K girl
Ayo, ayo

Hey guys let me introduce myself
Put away the boring kids
Don’t be embarrassing
The crazy dog of this place is me
I don’t want to stop
Don’t stop me
The moment you act arrogant,
you’ll be bitten apart
Rap that’s not like a rookie’s
It makes everyone’s legs shake
Yeah I’m on the flow
When I start to ride the flow,
it’ll be game over for you

Let’s go to the party
(Trust me and follow me)
Let’s go to the party
(The bounce that pulls me)
Don’t stop the sound that calls me
Don’t touch me I’m going right now
Yeah, I’m looking for yeah-eah-eah

Anyone can say that I’m crazy
I don’t care if they curse at me
Who can stop me?

Let’s say I partied a bit
I chewed some gum
Who cares?
Ayo ayo
Who cares if I play more?
I’m not mature
Who cares?
Ayo ayo

So boring, you’re just the same
How can a puppy recognize a tiger?
So I’ll go on top of the tiger’s head
No one knows the result until you come across me
A free fly
I’ll step on the heads of those
who don’t think highly of me
I’ll climb on top, you should practice
You nod your head even without a punchline

Let’s go to the party
(Trust me and follow me)
Let’s go to the party
(The bounce that pulls me)
Don’t stop the sound that calls me
Don’t touch me I’m going right now
Yeah, I’m looking for yeah-eah-eah

Anyone can say that I’m crazy
I don’t care if they curse at me
Who can stop me?

Let’s say I partied a bit
I chewed some gum
Who cares?
Ayo ayo
Who cares if I play more?
I’m not mature
Who cares?
Ayo ayo

Boys are all the same
No love, no no
Everyone says this is reality
Stop that nonsense talk

Let’s say I partied a bit
I chewed some gum
Who cares?
Ayo ayo
Who cares if I play more?
I’m not mature
Who cares?
Ayo ayo

Ayo, ayo
B.U.L.L.D.O.K girl
Ayo, ayo
Yes we back in a house
Ayo, ayo
B.U.L.L.D.O.K girl
Ayo, ayo

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Beginning
first with my prior statement of how “Why Not” seemingly holds well, it should
be noted that perhaps “seemingly” is an inappropriate word; more accurately
said, there are strong points that
actually hold well and I do wish to highlight them. Especially if we focus on
the song in individual portions—essentially, if we see each category in of themselves
(vocals, sections, etc.) and do not account for the song in its entire unity—then
indeed, “Why Not” appears to be appealing.

For
example, the rapping is phenomenal. With the sonic component in specific, usual
strong points exist: the flow, pacing, and tune remain diverse and dynamic.
What remains most impressive I argue, though, is the raps’—and if being
specific here, the rappers’—ability to effectively manage the complexity at
hand. Listening attentively, we find that the rap sections are able to maintain
a smooth, coherent flow despite the prevalent minor pauses and quickened paces.
One would expect the raps to become disorganized or at the very least to sound
choppy as a result of those added aspects, but indeed, due to the prowess of
Kimi and Hyeongeun, that is not the case.

All
that said, I now wish to turn our focus onto the more critical part of the
review: why, despite the rap sections—or for that matter, anything else—sounding
well on their own, “Why Not” in its entirety still falters.

The
biggest issue I find with the song is it simply lacks organic unity—a term that
is typically more for painting but that I find to be very relevant in our case.
In summary, “organic unity”—in our case—is referring to how everything in the
song fits in and connects with one another. On a minor level, this could be
focusing in on how transitions bind sections together, but on a larger scale,
this could refer to whether the instrumental suits the vocals, and whether such
pairing suits with the sections themselves and so on. With this in mind, I wish
to argue why I find “Why Not” a somewhat weaker song: it lacks organic unity;
even if the song in individual aspects are solid—such as the raps—once we focus
on the song in whole, very little of it connects together.

There
are two blatant examples to analyze: the bridge and pre-choruses. Each on their
own are seemingly solid sections: the pre-choruses showcase powerful, intensive
vocals that provide the usual transition into the choruses, and for the bridge,
it grants a pause to the song all while showcasing equally powerful and
strenuous vocals. However, I argue for listeners to look beyond just the sonic
level and to instead equally consider the structural side. With the pre-choruses,
it is far too sudden of a switch from its prior section—the verses. With the
verses being slower paced and calm, the pre-choruses switching to an exceptionally
more intense section is far too abrupt. There needs to be something to
minimalize that jump, and unfortunately, there is nothing in place for such.
Even then, the pre-choruses are far too overpowering. Likewise, the bridge
follows a similar issue: the transition to it is nonexistent, and even if there
was an appropriate switch, the bridge’s dramatic and dragged flow fails to fit
in to the song’s upbeat and strenuous style that is seen in the raps and
choruses.

Furthermore,
returning to the raps, though they sonically hold well, let us consider them in
a structural context. For one, the raps themselves are structured in an
extremely peculiar manner: a slower, calmer start that then builds up in
intensity and climaxes within itself. For why this matters, the raps are
composed in a manner so that it is almost like these sections are a song within
a song—and this, in “Why Not” ‘s case, is troubling. If the rap sections begin
and properly conclude within themselves, fitting into the song itself is
difficult as there is nothing to build into
or out of the rap sections. Compared
to other raps in other songs where those raps are used to help progress a song
into its upcoming chorus or a rap is used as a post-chorus, there is a gained
sense of unity: the raps in those songs are there to help carry out the song.
Unfortunately in “Why Not,” even if the raps themselves are excellently
executed, they fail to fit into the larger scheme of the song. The raps come
and go—nothing more or less. Because of that, and for that matter the other
sections such as the pre-choruses and bridge, there is a lack of cohesion for the
song and this is why I find “Why Not”
to be a slightly weaker song.

All
in all, it is “Why Not” ‘s lack of unity that indirectly impairs it. It is hard
to find, for example, the instrumental enticing when it excessively changes in
style and sound just to match each section versus flowing and binding all the
sections together. Equally, it is difficult to find the sections—minus the raps—appealing
when each are so abstract and hardly related to one another. And of course,
vocally the issues apply where even if there are impressive vocal beltings at
the pre-choruses and bridge, it is all meaningless when the verses and choruses
adopt a repetitive, tuneless style that completely contradicts other vocal
moments in the song.

Finally,
this review is not to say Bulldok lack skills and will have trouble as a new
artist. At most, I am critiquing the composers of the song. When it comes to
the ladies, I strongly urge fans to be critical of their songs—and with that,
it means being open to disagreeing and agreeing with my review—but in the end,
to still very much support Bulldok. I look forward to new songs by them, and I
personally desire a song in the future that highlights the rapping capabilities
of Kimi and Hyeongeun. However as it is, I render “Why Not” as a slightly
weaker song mainly due to its lacking of unity.

_______________________________________________________

Another
review will hopefully be released today or slightly delayed until a few more
days. Either way, thank you all for reading this review whether in full or
skimmed. I do apologize for a somewhat poorer review quality in this case as it
is slightly challenging to convey my argument
in this particular instance, but I hope readers find this review
thought-provoking and that it encourages fans of Bulldok to intellectually and
maturely engage with it via disagreeing, agreeing, a mixture of both, and so
on.

Look
forward to a strong finish to December. After all, “we back in a house”—and by
this I mean reviews are coming back and that there truly is no relevant ending
quote I could use. Just look forward to most likely SHINee’s “1 of 1” and
perhaps even Jay Park’s “Me Like Yuh” as male artists definitely need more
spotlight on the blog.

Apink – “Only One” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Dance
Practice)

Apink – Only One

Reviewed
on October 31, 2016

That said, for where many would critique the vocals, it is true that the singing is not necessarily strenuous in this song, and most detrimentally, it appears that there is little to no variation of the vocals. However, I greatly disagree on this end: the vocals are quite diverse if we notice the shifts that occur on a micro-level—from a section to the next—and the shifts that occur on a macro-level—the vocals’ change from the song’s first half to second half.

Personal Message:
Although I do feel disappointed at
myself for only releasing five reviews this month and, on top of that, to still
not review Hyuna’s “How’s This,” I will aim for November to be a better
reviewing month. Regardless, though, I am content with what was covered in
October: two artists that we had yet to see on the blog and that I managed to
review purely comebacks versus older releases. That said, for how we will end
this month, we will be taking a look—or more accurately, hearing—at Apink’s
latest comeback. Of course, though, “comeback” may be a stretch; in truth,
“Only One” might be more accurately called “latest release” than necessarily a
“comeback”—the latter implying it is very
new.

Regardless of technical labels, I
return to “Only One” for two reasons. The first is I just simply love the music
video; I cannot resist the chance to share how aesthetically pleasing the music
video is. Moreover, I find the video completely soothing and creating a sense
of inner peace. Perhaps I am just an odd boy. But besides these points, I am
reviewing “Only One” as it proves peculiar in a musical sense. After all, if my
friend’s words are correct, Apink did not win at all with this release.
Regarding why not, my friend has come up with solid reasons that I can agree
with. In particular, there were a lot of other popular groups promoting at the
same time. Yet, I personally remain unsatisfied with that answer—and equally
she does, too. Considering Apink is equally as popular as those who promoted
with them, a single win should have at least occurred. And so, this is where my
personal stance comes in: I think there is something about “Only One”—the song
in of itself—that deterred listeners. Truthfully, I would argue the song is not
“public-friendly” at all; unless if one is actively
listening to it—and admittedly, the majority of pop music fans do not—“Only
One” comes off as a rather boring release.

With this, I will have a rarer
digression: one that is about music and not the usual social topics. Basically,
I will discuss what “active listening is,” how to begin doing so, and how
“active listening” can still be achieved with minimal—or even no—musical theory
knowledge. Afterwards, I will then transition back to the review itself, and in
the review, provide an example of how “active listening” can transform “Only
One”—a supposed lackluster song by Apink—to suddenly a rather complex,
sophisticated and intelligently produced song.

What is “active listening”? (From
here on, I will remove the quotations as, I hope, it will become familiar as
any other musical terminology.) In short, I personally like to term it as the
“critical thinking” of music as, ultimately, that is exactly it: being able to
look beyond the surface, asking “why,” and understanding various perspectives. Critical
thinking is similar if not identical to that general definition—though it is
oftentimes associated with academic-related topics versus that of fine arts.
(But, then again, I personally consider music/fine arts in general “academic.”)
On topic, for a more applicable definition of active listening, this refers to—keyword—actively hearing a song: it means constantly paying attention to the
composition, asking why certain
composition decisions are made, and being able to attempt to answer those very questions. It should
be noted that each of the mentioned three points (and many more that even I am
still not capable of) require practice in of themselves; to be able to pay attention
and pick out certain techniques, for example, is difficult and takes skills and
practice.

With a general background covered,
let us now actually use an example. Since “TT” has been the latest review, we shall use it. With paying close
attention to the audio, this ranges from general listening—hearing the basic
melodies and transitions—to more complex listening—noticing how, during the
pre-choruses, that the vocals become monotonous and that the final transition
point added vocal layering as a minor climax. From here (though bear in mind
there is no chronological order for my discussed active listening), we could
then apply the “why.” Why did the composers of “TT” decide to structure the
pre-choruses as is? More questions can be asked, and better yet more complex
ones. For the purposes of continuing, though, we will settle for this and
proceed to the next step: attempting to answer why. This, as with every step,
can range from a simple one such as this is to merely transition the song, to
slightly more complex answers such as that the composers did this as a way to
begin merging the instrumental and vocals and to provide contrast to the
pre-choruses’ initial, slower beginning. Best of all with active listening is
it matters less on the answers one produces and more instead on the actual
process itself: the process of asking questions, of actually analyzing the song
versus passively listening to it. That is the main goal of active listening:
listeners becoming an active participant of pop music (or any genre).

Now for a few points readers may
have, perhaps a common rebuttal is: “So is it bad to passively listen to songs?
I’m not here to be a future producer or musician; I just want to listen for
enjoyment.” To this: Yes, this is perfectly acceptable. In fact, with pop
music, it is meant to be enjoyed
casually; pop music is music that is meant to be “public-friendly”—anyone can
listen to pop, regardless of music knowledge, and find it quite enjoyable. (In
fact, I personally do passively listen to music still—even if I actively listen
at other times or when I have to review a song.) My prior points of active
listening are not to strip this away at all. I personally believe pop music
should be cherished as it is a very versatile genre. Everyone can appreciate
it, whether a casual listener or a critical, active one. My point about active
listening, then, is to provide an entry for those who wish to become critical
of pop songs—this, I would argue, is important considering a few “elite”
musicians and critical listeners wrongfully belittle pop music when, in reality
and as I hope my reviews show, pop music can indeed be quite complex and worthy
of musical appreciation.

Another aspect to clarify is that active
listening does not mean one has to “review” music; in other words, active
listening does not mean one judges the quality
of a song—deciding good or bad. That is where music reviews come in: having
to apply active listening, but to then make a claim—that the vocals are good,
that the choruses are bad, and so on—and to then defend that very claim through
evidence and deeper analysis of the song. Active listening simply means being
able to pick out features of a song, subtle and blatant, and to attempt to
understand why such composition decisions were made. One does not have to
decide if those said decisions are worth calling “good” or “bad.”  

Onto the next point, now that
readers understand the general premises of active listening, we will now focus
on how to actually begin actively listening. Being told the background and
layout is not helpful, after all, if a listener feels overwhelmed with hearing
a song. Where does one simply begin?

Personally to share and before
answering, readers should realize that active listening is a skill that
develops over time through practice. At first, it is difficult to actively
listen to a pop song. During my first reviews, I struggled to switch from a
casual hearing to a more critical hearing—this being the reason for why my
first reviews liberally gave out nines and tens. It takes practice. That said,
for the biggest guide on how to begin that shift of passive to active: look—or
more accurately, listen—to the production
and not the execution per se.

Explaining what I mean, I will use
literature as a comparison. At first, one learns to analyze literature through,
for example, characters. We would discuss characters as if they were genuine
people and analyze their actions and
words. However, as one becomes more experienced and skilled and progresses to
higher levels of analyzing literature, no longer are characters in of
themselves discussed. Instead, it is the author
that is discussed: how did the author
depict a certain character, why would they make
a character say a specific line? This line of thought translates perfectly
to active listening. Look at how a song is composed versus how the song is
necessarily executed. In other words, never say: “Group A provide weak vocals
to Song A because they suck, and Group A did a horrible job at transitioning
from the verse to pre-choruses.” Instead, it is much more analytical and a
proper use of active listening to say: “Song A showcases weaker vocals, and the
transition point at the verse to pre-chorus was horribly composed.” Again, the
main point is to focus on the song in whole and not the singers involved
necessarily. (For a fun fact, readers can directly track my growth with active
listening by paying attention to this very switch: going from critiquing
idols—singers who have minimal roles besides execution, unless if they are part
of the composition—to critiquing the producers and composers of a song.)

This covered, readers may still
wonder on the actual process of active listening. It is understood that it
takes practice and that one should focus on the composition versus idols, but
exactly how? Is it through beginning to catch very subtle sounds?

To answer the former first, the most
important step is to be in a mental state and even physical state that allows
one to concentrate purely on the audio. No visuals should be included—this
being a music video, lyrics, or around a particularly distracting environment. Secondly,
isolating sounds is important. It is difficult if not impossible to actively
listen to a song from, say, a cellphone’s speaker in the middle of a busy
family gathering. On this note, and perhaps a more upsetting point to bring up,
one’s social class might affect one’s active listening if we are to gauge the
materials involved. It is far more effective to actively listen to song through
high-quality headphones, earbuds, or speakers than from a worn-out, low-quality
listening device. Even so, though, the highest-quality listening devices are
never necessary but the devices used should at least be decent. (And if a
reader is curious on how one can determine a listening device’s quality, that
is another topic that I cannot answer thoroughly.) Lastly, and arguably the
most important factor, one should simply focus on the audio itself. This means,
at times, simply sitting down in a quiet environment and paying pure attention
to sounds. Lyrics are to be
understood as sounds versus meaning and language; a song’s emotional
tone—happy, sad, playful, and so on—is to be ignored; the executing artists
involved—the idols singing, the group, the biases involved—are all to be
ignored. Listen to the sounds in of themselves—this is, in summary, how to
actively listen to a song.

Regarding the latter question
earlier of perhaps some physical sonic aspects to pay attention to, one huge
clarification is that active listening is not about hearing all of the subtle
cues in a song. For example, many music reviewers are praised for being able to
hear a pin drop from many meters away. This is, while understandably
flattering, in truth is an insult: it implies that reviewers—or more
accurately, active listeners whether they review songs or not—are only
proficient in selectively hearing. That is not at all what active listening is
about as discussed above. Once again, the main core of active listening is to
be intellectually engaged with a song’s sounds such as through asking
questions, speculating answers as to why certain composition decisions were
made, or understanding the effects a composition decision creates. So for
readers wondering to begin, do not worry of being able to hear everything that
occurs. It is extremely difficult to do so, and harshly said, is not worth
doing so unless if one truly wishes to analyze a song to its finest details. Active
listening is about the intellectual engagement, not being selective listeners—the
latter, after all, requires no critical thinking.

And so this transitions us to my
concluding point: that active listening can occur even if one has no musical
theory whatsoever. If not clear by now, I am of the few serious music reviewers
who have managed to continue doing this work despite lacking musical theory
knowledge. Now I do have some knowledge, but it is far minimal. For example, I
could use—and at times do—terms of crescendo and decrescendo, or that the
ending of a song is the “coda” and not just “conclusion,” or that many if not
all pop songs follow a binary form of “A, B, A, B” (“A” referring to the
initial buildup while the “B” refers to the climactic portions). Other than
these, though, I cannot read musical notes—let alone even determine rough
musical notes (though I have, through listening by ear, crafted out a melody to
a certain song after a whole pitiful month). More shockingly, I lack mechanical
musical skills: I cannot play any instruments proficiently besides using the
guitar for purposes of crafting out a melody on a single string—again, another
pitiful moment.

And yet, here I am writing music
reviews that, if I can be arrogant for a bit, go beyond superficial ones of
merely addressing the obvious points of a song. Why is this possible? Because,
though I still very much am improving, have practiced the skill of actively
listening for two or three years—and only then, it is the recent months where
reviews have finally reached a more critical stage of analysis. I still have
much to improve on, but as seen, it is in fact possible to improve despite
lacking musical theory knowledge. Likewise, for readers, even if one cannot
name the notes that occur or even if one lacks the very basic labels—examples
being vocal belting, harmonization, and so on—it is still definitely possible
to be an active listener. The key point is to continually practice it and to
focus not so much on nitpicking traits of a song, but instead to focus on
analyzing the song: asking why a certain decision was made, what were its
effects, what would have occurred if another decision was made, and so on.

Returning to Apink and the review
itself, let us have a thorough example of how active listening is important. As
said, in a casual context, “Only One” comes across as overly repetitive,
simple, and bluntly said, boring. However, as I will argue, if we are actively
listening, there are many impressive composition decisions and techniques
applied—ones that very much augment the song. The problem, however, is the
failure to hear those special aspects prevents “Only One” from excelling—this
being what I will challenge in the review.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.50/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 6/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 5/10

[Instrumental]

It seems like a dreaming at
the end of exhausted day
Covering me with warmth,
my empty mind is full of your scent now
Able to dream forever

Too soft a scent and little bit shy,
trembling
To be honest I’m afraid
Please cheer me up
and hug me tightly

I hope you have the same thinking as me
I hope it’ll be bright everyday
You are my only one, baby
Able to tremble with you tomorrow as well
Love, love, love, my baby

You comfort me at the cold, cloud-filled night
The light called “You” seems like a kid
I like your eyes which are full of me
Please cover my sorrowful memories
The kid called “You” makes me happy
I’m falling in love

Too soft scent and little bit shy,
trembling
I’m afraid you’ll leave me
Please cheer me up
and hold my hands tightly

I hope you have the same thinking as me
I hope it’ll be bright everyday
You are my only one, baby
Able to tremble with you tomorrow as well
Love, love, love, my baby

You’re trembling and it feels new every day
I hope we won’t forget this moment
Not able to hurt my mind which is grown up with you
Always this feeling feels like a dream
I hope we won’t forget this moment forever
Oh baby

You are my only one baby
Able to tremble with you tomorrow as well
(Able to tremble with you tomorrow as well)
Love, love, love, my baby

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
While I do consider “Only One” Apink’s best release as of yet, it is
statistically unsettling: it is above average, yes, but it is a decimal away
from being only slightly above average. Nonetheless, if ignoring the lyrics, I
argue all the other categories hold incredibly well even if, on the surface,
many appear lacking.

Take
the vocals for example. On the surface, very few would contest the idea that
the vocals’ sounds are poor. Indeed, Apink’s vocals are arguably at their best
in this song if we focus on how tuneful they are. That said, for where many
would critique the vocals, it is true that the singing is not necessarily
strenuous in this song, and most detrimentally, it appears that there is little
to no variation of the vocals. However, I greatly disagree on this end: the
vocals are quite diverse if we notice the shifts that occur on a
micro-level—from a section to the next—and the shifts that occur on a
macro-level—the vocals’ change from the song’s first half to second half.
Noticing these minor yet substantial changes is what allows one realize the
vocals in “Only One” are quite impressive.

Regarding
the individual, micro shifts, the most obvious example is when the choruses
occur. Here, as most readers can detect, the vocal intensity unequivocally
shifts to a higher intensity. Moreover, though, the verse to pre-chorus vocal
shift is also important and it is one I would predict many fail to notice. In
this instance, one should realize there is a drastic change in vocal belting:
the duration increases, and likewise does the stress of doing so. Although both
are minor, it is something that very much provides variety to the vocals if we
hone in on it. Additionally, it is also worth noting that the shift is actually
a gradual one; the moment a new member takes over for singing, the vocals at
that very moment begin to crescendo—buildup—towards more intensive vocals. Now
on the surface because of how minor these changes are, it does appear that the
vocals follow an overly linear, boring path. However, as I encourage, listening
closely reveals these changes that greatly add variety.

In
terms of the macro-level vocal changes, another key distinction listeners
should notice is that the first half of “Only One” is extraordinarily different
from the second half. While all halves are pleasing in the actual, physical
sounds of the vocals, the style and form of the singing are quite different.
For example, in the second verse, the pacing is slightly increased but more
noticeably is the firmness of the vocals. The first verse, after all, took on a
more fragile, lighter sound. Contrast that to the second verse’s harsher,
stronger presence and that indeed serves as an appealing, diverse point in the
song’s vocals. Likewise, and for a rather obvious shift, vocal layering becomes
incredibly prevalent in the second half—particularly near the beginning of the
second pre-chorus. From echoed, hollowed out background vocals to added belting
layers, as seen—or more accurately, heard—there are many impressive composition at play. The most impressive part,
though, is that all of these choices were blended into the song as a whole so
well that many fail to notice them—though it does backfire in the sense of
people not being able to appreciate these choices due to not noticing them at
all.

Again,
as I hope this review is showing, it is through active listening that we are
able to hear the more delicate intricacies and beauty of “Only One.” Let us now
focus on the sections themselves and see what impressive composition exist in
this category.

Before
starting, it should be noted that although we really could hammer through the
entire sections—and that we did with much earlier reviews—current reviews focus
instead on more provoking or even controversial aspects. This is to prevent a
robotic voice from taking over, and admittedly, sometimes the best description
of something is “average.”

On
topic, one section in specific that I have to highlight is the verse, but more
narrowly I wish to focus on the second verse. The beginning of this section is,
in my assertion, the best part of “Only One.” The “rebound” that occurs—when the
song takes a very brief yet sudden drop to pause and returns—is phenomenally
executed and implemented. It serves a multitude of strengths for this song:
transitioning in after the prior chorus, adding a unique entry point and take
in the song as a whole, and so much more. For example, this rebound allows the
instrumental and vocals to begin, quite literally, at the same position—this being
otherwise difficult if not impossible. Explaining what I mean, if the rebound
never occurred, the instrumental would have had to continue relentlessly from
the prior chorus and the vocals would have to merge into that pre-running
instrumental. While that is never in of itself problematic for a song, “Only
One” took a very interesting route: using a rebound—a pause—so that both vocals and instrumental would reset
and begin anew. As a result of this, it creates a perfect, seamless transition
and the flow is perfectly established once more as the vocals and instrumental
are now able to be better meshed with one another. On top of all of this, the
rebound also provides the foundation for the second half of the song to become
more intense—an example is in the added vocal layering, as discussed earlier. For
how that occurred, it is because the rebound halted and then quickly resumed
the song—a pull and push form. That very form, then, created a minor
buildup/crescendo, and from there, having a more intensive run is possible as
the rebound created a path towards a more climactic, intense point. All in all,
this might be overly focusing on a very specific portion of the song, but it is
these moments that deeply bring out the charm in “Only One”—moments that
otherwise are missed without actively listening to it.

Now
all that said, there are still weaker points to the song. The most direct fault
is the lyrics; the lyrics render averagely as neither details nor plot prove
creative. Musically, though, there are still weaknesses: the choruses and
bridge. Although the two sonically are solid—the instrumental and vocals, after
all, are not problematic—it is the structure of these sections themselves that
prove a bit concerning. With the bridge, besides its somewhat abrupt
transition, the form of it runs counterproductive to “Only One” ‘s general
form: a slower, but definitely forward-progressing song. The bridge forces a
heavier slowing of the song in whole, and thus, that sudden shift was an aspect
I found slightly troubling.

Another
critique, and perhaps the biggest one, is how the choruses transitioned within
itself. Interestingly, even in Apink’s “Remember” (their prior comeback), they
ran into this issue—though I admit I do not remember if I discussed it in the
review. (And no: no puns intended.) Horrible jokes aside, the critique I have
is that when switching to the latter half of the choruses—in other words, for
readers to follow, when Eunji sings—the jump from the prior half—Bomi’s part—is
a bit of a stretch. The vocals become significantly more powerful and intense,
and while that in a vacuum can be pleasant, if we consider the general flow and
how the first half of a chorus is still relatively softer and just merely
quickened, the second half can come off as slightly overpowering. Again, it is
nothing completely impairing to the song, but it tends to provide a “skipping”
moment when listening to the choruses.

If
we gloss over this song in particular, once again I agree wholeheartedly with
the many who claim it is Apink’s worst release or their most boring one. After
all, in a more casual listening, “Only One” does come off as just that: plain;
stale; disinteresting. However as I argued, it is by honing into peculiar
points in this song that truly highlights how beautifully composed “Only One”
is. In my opinion, this is Apink’s best song yet even if it happens to be the
more mentally taxing one in the sense of having to actively notice the
techniques involved. In the end, I rate it as above average and find that reasonably
if we listen critically. And this is where I would challenge readers: Do you
find the song weak even after actively listening? Did actively listening to it
make the song more accessible and appealing? As always, I am just providing a
single view to the many there are and am definitely by no means the “right”
view.

_______________________________________________________

Perhaps
I am truly being arrogant now, but I have to say this is the first review in a
while where I am relatively satisfied with the given analysis. It might be,
though, due to bringing in a more positive view to “Only One” when many
disagree. Regardless, I hope readers and Apink fans enjoy the review and, more
importantly, find personal reasons for disagreeing or agreeing—or even both.

In
terms of the next review, November is starting and I unfortunately have too
many essays to attend to. As a result, for perhaps the first half of Novembers,
reviews will focus more on quantity less in complexity as much as I dislike
saying this. Look forward to SHINee’s “1 of 1” as the next review.

Crayon Pop  – “Doo Doom Chit” Review

(Dance
Practice)

Crayon Pop – Doo
Doom Chit

Reviewed
on October 9, 2016

The post-choruses, for example, are more accurately labeled as chanting versus actual singing. Likewise, the choruses’ singing may be playful as noticed by the echoing “whoa,” but there is no complex, strenuous forms of singing in the choruses.

Personal Message:
I currently have ten songs, this
current review included, that are due for reviews. For a scale, bear in mind
that I tend to cover usually six songs per month.
This is quite a daunting task, is it not? But of course, rather than viewing
reviews as a game of quantity, I always attempt to strive for quality.

In terms of other news, I have
finally begun writing for Hyuna’s review of “How’s This?” and hope to post the
review soon. It has surprisingly been quite a while since I have brought in a
social topic (the last one was with Fiestar’s “Apple Pie” on the unseen
complexity of feminism
),
but Hyuna will finally be a return of those discussions for readers who are
equally engaged in a sociological (and literary lenses) take to K-Pop. And of
course, the musical discussion involved will be equally thought-provoking or
plainly emotionally provoking. Overall, though, the main purpose of bringing in
these social topics is, in addition to the idea that these topics should be
addressed directly, I hope to complicate situations in order to reveal that
many social discussions are far from simple. Specifically with Hyuna’s review,
the topic of “double standards” is one that is actually not clear-cut, and yet
people remain too adamant on their stances and forget to look more critically.
To leak where that review will lead the discussion, readers should bear in mind
that “double standards” is not, for example, “feminazi” at work but likewise
that “double standards” still does carry inequality at times. Again, there is
far too much to discuss and thus, I encourage interested readers to look out
for that review. Plus, fans of that song should equally stay tuned; I will be
respectfully critiquing the song rather harshly.

Digressions aside, let us turn our
attention to the ladies who should have been with us from the start: Crayon Pop.
Although I have definitely been familiar with the group’s name—and more
specifically, their group image of wearing adorable bicycle helmets—I have yet
to listen to a song by them. As such, with their comeback song, “Doo Doom
Chit,” it provided me a chance to finally hear them and to likewise review
their song. For what I will say about “Doo Doom Chit” on a personal level, it
is the first song that has actually made me laugh while listening to it—in a
good way, of course. It truly is a lighthearted, comical song and furthermore is
very catchy. Even Red Velvet’s “Russian Roulette” loses its throne of being the
catchiest song I have heard when compared to “Doo Doom Chit” ‘s catchiness.

That said, and perfectly timed with
mentioning Red Velvet, unfortunately the same issues that I critiqued in
“Russian Roulette” applies here: catchiness is, in my opinion, inadequate as a
reason to use for qualifying a song as good. (For readers desiring to know why I make that claim in the first place—that
“catchiness” is stylistic and not a qualifying point—please feel free to refer
to the linked review.) With that in mind, let us take a closer hearing to “Doo
Doom Chit.”

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(4.50/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 4/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.63/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
4/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 3/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 4/10

6.     Rap: 5/10

7.     Bridge: 5/10

8.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 3/10

C.R.A.Y.O.N
Pop

Doo doom chit
Doo doom chit, doom chit, doom chit
Shake it shake it shake it, ha
Doo doom chit
Doo doom chit, doom chit, doom chit

Why are you so quiet today?
I’m here, you should be getting loud

(Put your hands up)
Hands up to the left
To the right
Scream like you’re crazy
Shake it, doo doom chit
(Boom boom boom boom)
From your head to your toes
Run, run, let’s run
Like this

Oh baby whoa
Follow me
Whoa, oh doo doom chit
My dear, whoa
Look at me
Baby, baby, baby
I’m so fantastic, girl

Doo doom chit
Doo doom chit, doom chit, doom chit
Shake it shake it shake it, ha
Doo doom chit
Doo doom chit, doom chit, doom chit

Yeah, it’s wide open
Confidently go on stage
Even if they make fun of us,
just dance and enjoy tonight, shall we?
Move to the sound of my pounding heart: one-two step
Even my silky hair looks good
Dancing queen

Hands up to the left
To the right
Scream like you’re crazy
Shake it, doo doom chit
(Boom boom boom boom)
From your head to your toes
Run, run, let’s run
Like this

Oh baby whoa
Follow me
Whoa, oh doo doom chit
My dear, whoa
Look at me
Baby, baby, baby
I’m so fantastic, girl

What do I do?
My heart is getting fuzzy and ticklish
Are you ready, are you ready?
Turn up the volume

Oh baby whoa
Follow me
Whoa, oh doo doom chit
My dear, whoa
Look at me
Baby, baby, baby
I’m so fantastic, girl

Doo doom chit
Doo doom chit, doom chit, doom chit
Shake it shake it shake it, ha
Doo doom chit
Doo doom chit, doom chit, doom chit

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Slightly
reiterating the focus of this review, rather than the usual route of covering a
song in of itself, for this review I wish to focus more on how its catchiness—while
superficially appealing—provides more negatives than positives if we look
critically at the song’s composition. Once we look past the catchiness, as the
ratings reveal, “Doo Doom Chit” is only average—and at that, it is nearly “slightly below average” (a
four). Reminders aside, let us take a look at some of the negatives brought on
by orientating the song towards “catchiness.”

One
category that is greatly impaired would be the lyrics. Understandably, as this
song is focused on being upbeat, cheerful and the like, the song’s lyrics have
to reflect such. Unfortunately, though, in reflecting the song’s tone, that
means the song has to recycle almost meaningless phrases: “Hands up to the left
/ To the right”; “Shake it shake it shake it”’; and, for the song’s iconic
phrase, “Doo doom chit”—of which contains no meaning minus, if correct,
referencing a “dancing cat meme.” In other words, while the lyrics are indeed
fun and rather comical—after all, as said, the whole basis of the song is on a
dancing cat meme—in terms of actual substance and a plethora of details, “Doo
Doom Chit” ‘s lyrics fall quite short. Certainly the lyrics are catchy and
every listener, regardless of knowing Korean or not, can easily chant to “doo
doom chit,” but once again, if we dive more critically the lyrics truly are
meaningless and that is where my critique lies.

As
for the more sonic-related criticism, the vocals, instrumental, and sections
are all equally weakened by the “catchiness”—though the instrumental might
actually benefit in some ways. With the vocals, while Crayon Pop showcases
impressive moments such as the first and only verse and the pre-choruses,
unfortunately the other sections completely contradict those moments. That said,
this is not to say the ladies lack vocal skills; if the prior sentence is not
clear, it is the song’s structure predominantly at fault, not skill per se. Clarifying
what I mean, the sections besides the verse and pre-choruses are the ones that
lower the vocals’ quality. The post-choruses, for example, are more accurately labeled
as chanting versus actual singing. Likewise, the choruses’ singing may be
playful as noticed by the echoing “whoa,” but there is no complex, strenuous
forms of singing in the choruses. It is, as in the post-choruses, chanting and
that is insufficient for a higher vocal rating. And on top of this all, many of
the sections—most notably and as partially revealed, the choruses and
post-choruses—are lacking. Certainly all are catchy, but again, catchiness does
not equate to “good” necessarily. For example, the post-choruses’ repeating of “doo
doom chit” while being backed up by a hastier, bass-heavy instrumental and
seducing saxophone creates a sense that the sections are in fact excellent, but
in reality, there is little complexity involved. Instead, I argue the sound of
all of these factors merely work well together, but that is just that; there is
no further workings that make the post-choruses’ incredibly impressive besides
putting certain sounds together and getting a good result.

All
in all, while a five is not a distinctive score, it certainly is not a “negative”
one in terms of falling under average. Even then, “Doo Doom Chit” hardly makes
it into the “average” range. Nonetheless, even with harsher critiques given
here, we must remember in the end that, for this song’s particular goal—the goal
of in fact being catchy and having fun—it does an amazing job at just that. “Doo
Doom Chit” was never meant for heavy scrutiny: it was meant to be a generic,
fun and exciting pop song. My critique is to challenge the views that claim “Doo
Doom Chit” is a rather solid, strong song. Once again, I disagree that it is a
higher holding song, but even so, it is one of the most fun songs I have heard.

Overall,
this review should not be interpreted as a message of claiming Crayon Pop is a
musically weak group or that the producers and composers involved with “Doo
Doom Chit” are unknowledgeable—after all, it takes much knowledge to make a song catchy at all. This review instead is
to highlight that the catchiness involved, while taking much effort and
knowledge, is nothing extraordinary if comparing some other songs where, for example,
there are composition decisions—both subtle and obvious—that significantly impact
a song for the better and goes beyond the point of just getting a phrase
trapped in a listener’s head. And so, though on a serious level I find “Doo
Doom Chit” another generic pop song, I still very much encourage supporting
Crayon Pop. (In fact, with Soyul having to pause activities due to her anxiety
disorder, I would argue Crayon Pop deserves even more support.) Nothing is
wrong with focusing more on fun, catchy songs—after all, some can very much
score well despite an upbeat tone. And of course, all artists deserve much respect
and support for their hard work.

_______________________________________________________

As
usual, thank you to all for reading or skimming the review. For an update, I
will be having a one-week break and, besides getting ahead on school work, I
will use the break to equally catch up on reviews. In terms of the next review,
look forward to Hyuna’s “How’s This?” and afterwards Shinee’s “1 of 1”—this song
being one I am super excited to review.

Until
then, to end with my signature closure of quoting songs since I still have no
actual closure, let us “just dance and enjoy tonight, shall we?” This makes no
sense whatsoever, but given the lyrics to the song, please just accept it. Look
forward to Hyuna’s review.

SPICA – “Secret Time” Review

SPICA – Secret Time (Music Video)

SPICA
– Secret Time (Dance Practice)

SPICA – Secret Time

Reviewed
on August 28, 2016

image

But,
as of now, the secret to “Secret Time” is that it is a rather disorganized,
abrupt and clunky song that, on the positive side, at least gives some justice to SPICA’s vocals.

Personal Message:
With already receiving homework for one
of my English classes (currently taking three for this semester and hence why I
will be extremely busy) despite a few days left of summer, reviews will indeed
become much more concise if not already. However, I plan to do my best to
continue the current rate that was seen in August (by far the best rate and if
I may say so, I am rather proud of myself for this) and, as long as I focus
reviews on highlighted points, I see no problems. Likewise, for Fiestar fans, I
will continue subtitling their videos though it may take two weeks at times for
a single video.

On topic with this review, as
mentioned in the prior
one
, SPICA’s comeback was one I had to cover. Besides the biased reason of
being a huge fan of the ladies and having a huge crush on Boa for her personality and
heart-fluttering voice and height
, the more realistic reason for this
is because, even if the ladies individually have been active in variety shows
as of the late, it has been two years since their last comeback. “Ghost”
was their prior song, and indeed this song has been reviewed already and
currently ties with another for the highest rated song yet on this blog. And
with that, this serves as a coincidental yet perfect transition.

As heard in “Ghost,” or for that
matter, with other releases such as “Tonight” or “You Don’t Love Me” and a few
older songs, SPICA members have proven consistently and constantly that they
are very skilled and capable artists. Especially with their vocals, SPICA is arguably
one of the most underrated artists despite their showcased skills. And best of
all, throughout their time of releasing songs, many have proven strong or at
least decent but more importantly, SPICA is showing a trend towards improvement
and releasing even stronger songs as time goes on. So, where is this going and
what is the point? Given the high standards set by their last three releases—“Tonight,”
“You Don’t Love Me,” and definitely “Ghost”—it would be expected that “Secret
Time” continues the trend. However, even if fans are currently overjoyed to see
them have a comeback (and to that, I too am excited), in a more critical view, “Secret
Time” is sadly not worth the two years of waiting at all. (To clarify the past
sentence, this is not to say SPICA should not have made a comeback—as a fan, I
am very much glad to see them return; I am saying this moreover as how, with
two years of waiting, it would be expected that an extremely solid song would
come.)

For where “Secret Time” stands, I
argue this song is perhaps SPICA’s weakest release yet. Certainly from here I
expect—and hope—SPICA continues having comebacks on a rather frequent basis,
and if that is the case then indeed stronger songs can be released. But, as of
now, the secret to “Secret Time” is that it is a rather disorganized, abrupt
and clunky song that, on the positive side, at least gives some justice to SPICA’s vocals. With that, let us begin the review.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(4.50/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 4/10
(4.00/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
3/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 4/10

4.     Chorus: 3/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 3/10


Instrumental: 4/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Secret time
We don’t need you, boy

What do you want?
More secretive than any other time
(I want something secret)
This is real, it’s not a midsummer night’s dream
No, not a dream, no

The white smoke provokes me
I want to go inside deep
(Go inside)
Keep turning up the volume

We had a secret time
Take off your clothes
You don’t need it
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
Just waiting is too boring
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
The modesty you knew will disappear here
Enjoy this moment
We had a secret
We had a secret, time
We had a secret, time

What do you like?
Don’t deceive yourself every time
(Want something different)
Oh, it’s real life
This night, there is no end, no end

Where am I?
It’s a different color stage
I want to get to you know more
(Get to know)
I’ll trap myself in the light

We had a secret time
Take off your clothes
You don’t need it
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
Just waiting is too boring
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
The modesty you knew will disappear here
Enjoy this moment
We had a secret
We had a secret, time
We had a secret, time
There’s no more niceness in here
You can’t control me
We had a secret,
we had a secret, time

Secret time
We don’t need you, boy
Rose-flavored candy, rum-filled jelly
My body is getting hot
(Hot)
Fill me up with your scent
Oh

We had a secret time
Pulled by the rainbow light
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
Music shakes up my head
(Baby hurry)
We had a secret time
Make me fall for the sweet temptation
You can’t control me
We had a secret,
We had a secret, time
We had a secret, time

Let’s have another round, we go
(Secret time)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: First
to already address the vocals, a six is rather surprising considering the group
naturally wavers around seven or eight. Thus, this drop to a six—while still a
decent score—is definitely unexpected from SPICA. First, it should be clarified
that the vocals in “Secret Time” in of themselves are indeed enticing: the
verses, for example, showcase an excellent balance of both smooth and powerful
singing; throughout the song, there are a variety of vocal beltings; and lastly,
the diverse styles involved from passive to more direct vocals to unison vocals
are all delightful and do bring in appeal. And yet, a six is still earned. There
is one main reason: the choruses.

Yes,
SPICA’s skills are showcased, but when the choruses arrive, the vocals in these
sections impair the vocals in whole. Structurally, there is variety, but
sonically, it is exceptionally repetitive and even hollow in the sense of
lacking depth. For example, the faster paced singing that is followed up by a
unison “secret time” may be appealing as it contrasts the other sections’
vocals and thus brings in variety, but if we focus on the sound itself, there
is minimal content itself. In other words, the vocals in every section but the
choruses are tuneful and complex, but within the choruses the vocals do become “fillers”
and merely continue the song without providing much more. Even the continuing
portions of the choruses where stronger vocals occur cannot compensate for the
lacking faster paced part. Perhaps in summary, the vocals lack cohesion; yes,
the vocals do sound great individually per section, but in a larger scheme it
is difficult to see how they all relate and more so at the choruses. This is
the reason for a lower-than-usual vocal rating, and ultimately why the song in
whole is weaker.

With
the prior idea in mind, let us now focus on the sections. As noticed, most
score rather poorly, and once again the main culprit is “Secret Time” lacking
an organized aspect. Most of the sections individually sound unique and in many
cases that is a benefit, but it is to the extent that transitions are extremely
abrupt or that even with appropriate transitions, the sections themselves vary
too much to be cohesive. Take the pre-chorus and chorus for examples: the
transition between the two sections are sudden, and furthermore, the change in
styles—the pre-chorus being moreover calm and slow paced while the chorus is
utterly fast—is not gradually settled into, but instead is simply rushed and
that leads to a disorganized sound. Additionally, even sections such as the
introduction are already abrupt in nature; the introduction jumps listeners
straight into the song without establishing any sense of the song and it does
so all while lacking heavily in sonic appeal. Adding to all of this, with an
instrumental that likewise replicates the sections’ forms of each being very
distinctive, rather than the instrumental being the factor that connects all of
sections, the instrumental now becomes another dividing factor that further
splits apart the section.

“Secret
Time,” overall, is a song that has potential, but with its poorer execution it
becomes a song that is at most average—and indeed, that is the score. The
vocals and sections on an individual level can be—and for some are—strong and delightful, but in the
entirety of the song, there is a missing feature to bind all of these
categories together. Without that organization, “Secret Time” becomes too
chaotic to enjoy, and sections that otherwise would be solid are now
lackluster. This is all not to say SPICA is losing their skills; that is far
from true as SPICA’s vocals are still impressive and definitely at a high tier.
However, when it comes to “Secret Time,” it does fail to truly showcase SPICA’s
abilities. If fans are looking for a song that does in fact bring justice,
their song of “One Way” which is included with their recent mini-album might be
far more satisfying. Ending this review, SPICA still deserves much support even
if “Secret Time” is one of their weaker songs. Should SPICA become much more
active, I can say with near certainty that future releases will be much more
appealing. But for now with “Secret Time,” it is a rather disappointing song
that does not showcase SPICA’s true musical abilities.

_______________________________________________________

Since
I already have work, I plan to conclude August with a bonus show review.
Nevertheless, August will hold as a record for the most reviews done in a month
in quite a while, and that is indeed something I plan to continue even with
returning to university. Until then, look forward to a bonus show review, and
of course for other songs to be reviewed such as Hyuna’s “How’s This?” (along
with the social discussion that will occur) in September. While “Just waiting
is too boring,” I ask for readers’ understanding. Look forward to a show review
about GFriend and dogs.

Stellar – “Crying” Review

Stellar – Crying (Music Video)

Stellar
– Crying (Dance Practice)

Stellar – Crying

Reviewed
on August 24, 2016

image

It is ultimately this category that limits “Crying,” and though some may claim this is a harsh score for a supposed non-sonic aspect, one should also keep in mind it can—and does—impact the sonic aspect to the song: having to hear very similar sentences over and over.

Personal Message:
There is so much to discuss with
Stellar, both musical and social. However, for the sake of ease in this review,
the social discussion I had in mind—specifically that of slut-shaming and
double-standards—will be saved for Hyuna’s “How’s This?” as that song, if any
reader has been following it, greatly elicits those topics. And indeed, topics
of slut-shaming and double-standards should in fact be directly discussed since,
in addition to these topics being quite relevant in general and especially in
(Korean) pop culture, these topics are oftentimes misunderstood. To leak where
the discussion would go, while slut-shaming will be rather straightforward as I
assume most readers understand it is unacceptable, double-standards is a much
more complex topic. In fact, it is akin to how even within feminism there are
huge divisions of stances. But on topic, for this rather late review on
Stellar, we will instead focus on the ladies themselves and on their latest
release and their overall history so far. The mentioned social and ethical
topics will be focused on in Hyuna’s upcoming review.

With Stellar, I personally have
desired to review them ever since “Vibrato,” and later with “Sting.”
Fortunately, even after missing those two opportunities, I am finally reviewing
the ladies with “Crying,” their latest song and, as the review will cover, arguably
their best song as of yet—or at least that I can speculate. Perhaps the prior
statement is a bit biased as admittedly “Crying” is now one of my favorite
songs (and recall “favorite” is not “best”) and, from a superficial take, their
prior releases have been slightly weaker. Nonetheless, I personally have much
respect for Stellar given their many hardships: not having their own practice
room for a while; struggling financially—both individually with lacking incomes
but also with producing songs and videos; and for, at various points in their
career, being slut-shamed to the point of it negatively affecting their
popularity (and this being why I planned to discuss the topic in this review).
Overall, though, for what might be the most difficult struggle for them is how
they still lack in popularity despite how long they have been around and with
having multiple releases. Regardless, what is most admirable is that despite
all these setbacks the four members continue to pursue their work of being
idols and continue with much optimism—even if it is a rather harsher form of
optimism, such as working hard on each comeback because they assume it is the
last.

All that said, let us take a look at
their recent song in a more critical lens. After all, even with much empathy
towards the ladies, it would obviously be unfair to inflate their scores out of
pity. Besides, what the ladies desire is not pity but instead appreciation
towards their skills and hard work. In terms of the review, this might be perhaps
a rather interesting one given how unique “Crying” is when it comes to its
ratings. Indeed, ratings here are unlike usual reviews; there are extreme
ratings in this song and of which leads to many discussion points. For example,
this review is one after months in which a category scores a nine. Emphasis: a nine, the goddess number on this blog as
it truly is extremely rare. Likewise, though, on the other hand there also
appears a very low rating. What exactly are the sections with these scores?
Before fans and readers begin crying due to this awful attempt at creating
suspense, let us finally begin the review.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.83/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Bridge: 6/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 9/10


Lyrics: 3/10

Whoa oh yeah
Baby I don’t wanna cry
Oh
(Brave Sound)
(Let’s go, get it)

Why is the weather outside so nice
unlike my heart? Oh
Today, I resent you even more
But so quickly, I miss you again

I wanna go back to those days
(Ha)
When you looked at me and brightly smiled
I wanna love you
That’s it baby, but where are you? Oh

I was listening to a song then I cried so hard
Cried endlessly because it sounded like my story
I had a drink and then I cried so hard
Because I remembered the past, oh baby
I was eating then I cried so hard
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t swallow
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t sleep
I’m crying because

Do you know how I cry so easily?
How are you these days after you left me?
Without you, so much of me has changed
Without you, I cried every night

I wanna go back to those days
(Ha)
When you looked at me and brightly smiled
I wanna love you
That’s it baby, but where are you? Oh

I was listening to a song then I cried so hard
Cried endlessly because it sounded like my story
I had a drink and then I cried so hard
Because I remembered the past, oh baby
I was eating then I cried so hard
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t swallow
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t sleep
I’m crying because

I prayed again today
that I would see you in my dreams
When I wake up, I’ll cry again
Because I miss you

I was listening to a song then I cried so hard
Cried endlessly because it sounded like my story
I had a drink and then I cried so hard
Because I remembered the past, oh baby
I was eating then I cried so hard
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t swallow
Because I thought of you, I couldn’t sleep
I’m crying because

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Truthfully,
this song could have potentially scored quite high as its sections and
instrumental are solid, and that the vocals are decent. Unfortunately, the lyrics
are the main downside to the song, and this does extend to the point of
affecting the sonic aspect. With that, in this review the sections will not be
covered in depth as much as the lyrics and instrumental as these two are the
most distinct, key features to the song.

Focusing
on the lyrics, many would probably disagree with the current rating. While indeed
it is a sad story and does have some descriptive qualities that make it so, as clarified
in past reviews, with lyrics it is not the meaning or story itself that is the
focus but instead the details and the uniqueness of the plot itself. In other
words, even if “Crying” excellently portrays the hurting one goes through after
a relationship breakup, this cannot be used to gauge the lyrics’ overall
quality. Doing so requires interpretation and of which is very subjective, and
furthermore there could be much bias involved if lyrics are to be rated on the
story itself. For example, there could be songs that are about doing drugs and,
despite all odds, these lyrics can
score very well if the plot itself is creative and if the given details are
likewise creative and thorough—even if the story itself of doing drugs is not
necessarily appealing.

On
topic with “Crying” and its lyrics, the first issue is that the story itself—again,
while definitely saddening—is not quite unique in the context of the many other
pop songs. Breakups without significant background are a commonly reused plot,
and thus that already limits the lyrics. Either expanding the plot so that
there are more details or deviating away from the breakup theme would greatly
enhance the lyrics. Most impairing, however, is that the details are the most
repetitive I have yet to encounter. Take the choruses for examples: the same
idea recycled within the same sentence structures. Of course, though, all of
the other sections are equally at fault with replaying identical details—details
of simply relentlessly crying. Again, this is not to downplay that the plot is
indeed sad and that the main character is in deep anguish. However, even so, with
a more critical, general look at the plot and looking at the details involved,
unfortunately the lyrics are incredibly redundant and lack creative aspects
that would push it to a higher score. It is ultimately this category that
limits “Crying,” and though some may claim this is a harsh score for a supposed
non-sonic aspect, one should also keep in mind it can—and does—impact the sonic
aspect to the song: having to hear very similar sentences over and over.

Now
regarding the song itself and ignoring how, for example, the choruses can
lyrically sound dull due to excessive repeating of lines, the actual sound to
the song is spectacular. The instrumental in particular is phenomenal and this
is where I want to focus our attention to. After all, it earned a nine—arguably
the “highest” score possible since tens are near impossible to obtain. Why the
instrumental is so potent is not just due to its sound—though this is also
solid; the actual reason for it thriving so well is due moreover to its
structure and how said structure augments every aspect to the song.

For
one, the instrumental aids in seamlessly transitions the sections. For a
walkthrough example, at the introduction the instrumental is arguably at its
most amped up state. Nevertheless, the transition to the verse is subtle and
quick—all while sounding excellent. From here, this style of being subtle and
quick continues: from the verse to pre-chorus, hastened beats are used but all
while having the vocals still retain the attention; from the pre-chorus to
chorus, the same as the latter occurs; and finally, from the chorus back to
verse or even bridge, the usage of distorted vocals and a slight pause are used,
but all is still discreet. Overall, all of the transitions are fantastic and
much if not all of that is in credit to the instrumental. In terms of another
positive, the instrumental significantly helps Stellar’s vocals—and of which,
while not bad at all, are somewhat lacking in variety when it comes to “Crying”
and hence the current score. Focusing on the instrumental again, the synergy
between the vocals and instrumental are solid. During the verses for example
the pacing between both are linked, and on top of that the involved sounds are
complementing of one another such as with the piano keys creating a layer to
Stellar’s initial passive singing. Another solid point is that the instrumental
is of the very few that can individually cover a section on its own—particularly
that of the introduction. With this section, the follow-up that occurs after
the vocals essentially takes on the role that introduction vocals would
normally do: hooking in listeners all while establishing the song’s style and
tone. Indeed, the instrumental does both excellently and it does so all while
delivering controlled, melodic, and exciting beats and sounds.

On
that note, for where the instrumental stands with its sonic component, it never
becomes unsuitable to “Crying”—both stylistically and with relating to Stellar’s
singing. For example, despite being upbeat and hasty at times, it is all within
context of Stellar’s vocals as covered earlier: verses are met the instrumental’s
piano being emphasized to build intensity while choruses are met with much
faster, harder beats to complement the climactic point of the song.
Additionally, for perhaps an intriguing part, the instrumental is also quite
balanced in its range of pitches but with a carved out room—if that can be said—for
Stellar’s vocals to enter. Clarifying what I mean, lows and highs are covered
with the instrumental through the bass or piano sounds, but when it comes to
middle pitches while they do exist, they are less emphasized in comparison to
lows and highs. However, for the effect of this setup, it allow Stellar’s
vocals to—perhaps quite literally—be surrounded and at the center of attention
as their vocals lie moreover in the middle range (and again hence why I argue
they lack some vocal variety in “Crying.”)

And
so, with an instrumental that holds a fundamental role to the song both
structurally and sonically, and with sections that are solid due to that, “Crying”
would appear to be a very strong song—even if the vocals can be slightly dull.
But as covered, the lyrics are by far one of the weakest I have yet to hear in
a song and this does negatively affect the song’s own sound due to repeating
stale lines over and over. Nevertheless, despite what this review may claim, I
will biasedly say that “Crying” is a solid song if at least focusing moreover
on just pure sounds. The instrumental is amazing and one of the most influential
ones I have yet to hear in a song. If not for the instrumental’s complexity and
effects, it is difficult to say “Crying” would sound as exceptionally as it
currently does. But, in a more realistic view, the instrumental is balanced out
by the weaker lyrics and that does bring “Crying” to a slightly above average
song. Nevertheless, Stellar should be a group whose songs are cared more for
(in addition to empathizing with the ladies and continuing to support the
ladies themselves). I very much look forward to their next song as they are
showing constant improvement with each comeback.

_______________________________________________________

Sharing random news, SPICA is having
a comeback on August 25, and I will definitely be reviewing their song. It has
been two years since their last release (“Ghost”—and of which is tied with BTOB’s
“It’s Okay” for the highest overall score as of yet on the blog), and as some
readers may know, I am a huge fan of them. And no, it not because I still have a
crush on Boa and am still waiting for her to one day propose to me. And no, I
am obviously not delusional at all. Jokes aside, SPICA’s comeback song is
called “Secret Time” and I very much am glad to be able to hear the five
wonderful ladies’ voices again.

Addressing the current review, I do
apologize to readers for not reviewing it when “Crying” was recently released,
and I also apologize for delaying this review for another song. Optimistically,
though, it is now here. Also to note, with university coming soon, I will now begin
delaying posts so that there is at minimum four to five days. This is to allow
me to have time to write reviews and to keep the blog as active as possible since
reviews can be “stored.” With the next review, look forward to another bonus
show review or Hyuna’s “How’s This?” And as always, thank you for reading. I
appreciate it all and even if “I wanna go back to those days” of summer break,
I will do my best to keep reviews coming out.

Fei – “Fantasy” Review

Fei – Fantasy (Dance Practice—VLive)

Fei (Miss A) – Fantasy

Reviewed
on July 28, 2016

image

“Overall, though, for a personal
praise to the song, “Fantasy” might be the best song I have heard for its
stylistic approach of being moreover linear. Again, a linear, unchanging flow
to a song is never inherently bad as one cannot critique style, but as said when it comes to songs with these formats
(another example in mind would be
Wonder Girls’ “Why So Lonely”), “Fantasy” excellently executes
it. But, this is all irrelevant and a mere digression as a more serious,
neutrally-biased approach to the song unveils many weak points—and of course,
strong points.”

Personal Message:
Before anything else, to the
requester of this review I greatly apologize for the huge delay. Besides how a
summer class and subtitling videos—both personal and contributing to a team—led
to this delay, the day when I planned to write this entirely (July 21) was
filled with me watching over my girl as she unfortunately was a bit sick and
vomited. (All is well now, though. And to clarify, my “daughter” is my terrier
mix—yes, I am those types of people
who love dogs as if they were human children. The only difference is that dogs
are obviously treated appropriately as dogs but that, in the end, they receive
the same unconditional love as children should.) On topic, once again I greatly
apologize for the delay. It is also unhelpful that a lengthy social digression
will take place, but we will discuss that later.

That said, for a change to clarify
in the linked dance practice, it is a website other than YouTube. However, this
website is “clean”; it is not some unofficial, ad-intrusive site. The site is
none other than V Live/V App (and of which is hosted by Naver which is akin to
Google), a platform many if not all readers are aware of. For those, however,
who may just be learning of it right now, V Live is where idols upload live
broadcasts of anything, be it dance practices or simply talking and interacting
with fans since there is live chat. Oddly enough, Fei’s dance practice is
uploaded there and not on YouTube, but considering the current controversy she
is under (as well as many other idols), this might have worked in favor of her.

Now with all of that covered, for
those who wish to focus on just the music—and understandably, considering how
serious situations have gotten, this is perfectly acceptable though I do
encourage diving into the uncomfortable—feel free to skip below to the review
itself (at the Analysis). Predictably,
a social digression will take place and if correct, it has been almost an
entire month or even more since the last one. Regardless, this current social
digression is one I cannot avoid, and in that sense, is not as much as a
“digression” as much as discussing many important, sensitive topics. With
enough taunting on what exactly this said controversy is, this is an intriguing
case of where K-Pop and politics intertwine. The result? Unfortunately, racist
terms and nationalism flourishing from all ends.  

Regarding what occurred, as some may
know, there is recent political debate on who owns the water territory around
China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. After much conflict and supposedly some
violent acts (I am unsure on details; the political aspects of this will not be
my main focus), there has been international agreement that China does not own
the sea territory and that it belongs to the Philippines (or Vietnam; again, I
am unsure on details but this is irrelevant for where I will lead this
discussion as no one has yet ventured into the sociological aspect). Now from
China’s perspective, they claimed that their stances were not accounted for at
all, and from there, continued to claim ownership and a picture was created: a
map diagram where it showed China owning said sea territory along with a
caption that, based on memory, reads as “China is no smaller.” Finally for how
this seeped into K-Pop, Chinese K-Pop idols—examples being Miss A’s Fei, Super
Junior’s Zhoumi, EXO’s Lay, Fiestar’s Cao Lu, and even f(x)’s Victoria—have
openly shared their political view: siding with China’s claim of owning the
waters. And as such, this is where the chaos erupted.

But before continuing, there may be
a valid rebuttal to all of this: so what? It is just territory, why are fans
upset? In answer, it is arguably much more than “territory dispute” if it is
true that some ships have been sunk over this supposedly “minor dispute.” Furthermore
with those acts of violence committed and with fans outside of Korea, it can be
upsetting to see idols indirectly supporting that said violence—whether knowing
of the details or not—and that they are willing to—once again, knowingly or not—provide
influence to audience members on who to side with for the dispute. As for where
I wish to bring this discussion, as I will share in an upcoming review, I
admit: I hate politics. I am one for sociology/literary theories and ethics,
not for accounting for various nations, economies, political structures, and so
forth—but indeed, politics very much
matter. In fact, many of my discussions ultimately do link to politics as
politics is arguably the driving force behind said social topics. Think of structural
racism, for example: the argument that minoritized races are systematically
oppressed—unintentionally, in fact—due to how links are made, links of how our
race, gender, and class very much influence one another. While I care to
discuss structural racism on a sociological level and to extend that further on
challenging our compassion for others—or lack thereof (in other words, ethics),
indeed politics is where that has to be deeply investigated as this is where
actions occur versus that of pure theorizing and discussions. (Though not to
say sociologists and sociology are only “talk”—that is certainly not true.
Actions do occur from this topic, and likewise discussions of morality are
necessary in a time period where many have become more orientated on
“hard-sciences” and less on open, free thinking.) Point is, politics is a
bitter pill; very few necessarily adore it, but indeed we all have to care as
it is what directly brings sociology and literary theories, for examples, into
actual application.

With that covered, let us return to
my original point: if I am not
discussing the politics of the recent news, where am I going to focus? Instead
of arguing for who owns what and other political discussions such as perhaps why the countries are heatedly arguing
for ownership of water, I want to consider instead the sociological and ethical
topics that relate, and specifically ones related to K-Pop: topics of
nationalism and patriotism—the differences and whether either one are
permissible—and most importantly, the ethical question of whether idols from
any country should voice their political stance—or perhaps even any stance—considering how influential
idols can be and are. (After all,
consider how often I mention aiming to become more like a certain idol such as
MAMAMOO’s Solar, my biggest role model.) And in the end, I will tie this all up
with asking a simple question to readers: do the Chinese K-Pop idols who shared
their political opinion deserving of the current hate? In fact, is any one for
that matter deserving of pure hatred when it comes to politics or even simply
having different viewpoints?

Beginning with nationalism and
patriotism, I am discussing these two as they are oftentimes used in defense of
the current idols in controversy. Many claim them sharing the picture is
absolutely justified since they all are from China and thus, it is only natural
they show their patriotism or nationalism. Anyone would. Now before even going
further, though, it may be helpful to actually clarify nationalism and
patriotism. Are they even synonymous? Although I am not confident in my
answers, from my understanding the two are vastly different. Let us dissect the
two and from there, begin applying it back to the idols.

Essentially, while both are
identical in that both are about regarding one’s own country with “pride” (we
will discuss “pride” soon), but the difference is in why. Nationalism is a person who will side with their country no
matter the situations, and in fact they may even be condescending to all other
countries and assume that they are worse than their own. On the other hand,
patriotism is when a woman/man sides with their country, but not with the
reason that it is because they are a citizen of the country. Instead, a patriot
has pride because of what their country does, not because the country simply
exists and is their homeland.

So, is either one worthy of
rejecting? From my argument, I find both worthy of challenging for various
reasons. For one, if a critical mindset is applied, nationalism appears to be
very limiting. To believe one own’s country is superior to others is an overextending thought and admittedly quite
ethnocentric (using one’s own culture and society as the base standard for
others). For example, does it not sound ridiculous to say South Korea is a
silly, inferior country to the U.S. because Korean citizens bow for greetings
while Americans can merely wave? After all, one could easily reverse that claim
to show that the U.S. is the supposed sillier country. As such, nationalism
loses its footing as a position to have. It is far too limiting and
ethnocentric. As for patriotism, it is arguably an upgrade from nationalism; it
very much appears to be the positive of nationalism—caring for one’s
country—with a more critical approach in that the pride derives from what the
country does, not just the country in of itself. More importantly, patriotism
is not about the idea of superiority over other countries; patriotism is, once
again, pride for one’s country because of its action, and that respect for
other countries is still given. And yet, I still argue even patriotism is
unsatisfying. Mostly, the issue exists in the vagueness of the definition: a
country’s actions. Does it account for only the “good” acts, or all of the
acts? What if “bad” acts occur, does a patriot still stand and wholeheartedly
support her/his country? Or perhaps, are all actions to be supported, regardless
of the outcomes? Again, there are no definite answers at all nor do I even have
any to share. This is where readers have to critically engage with these ideas
for themselves.

Perhaps instead of there being
patriotism or nationalism, a new idea could be formed such as, for example,
“national acknowledgement” (a term I made in two seconds): siding with one’s
country, but ultimately acknowledging one’s country with a critical lens. Being
“prideful” in any case, be it for one’s gender, race, country, should not be
due to inherent reasons at all—and more so when it comes to social privileges,
as I will discuss—but instead, the concept of pride should exist because of
knowing why one should have pride.
Let us temporarily shift away from country pride to other forms to further
explain this point, and afterwards let us see how this all applies to the
idols.

First, to clarify, I am not
attempting to bash the notion of
pride; for example, “LBGT pride” is not an issue at all and as to explain, is in
fact necessary. Where I am focusing on is the label itself: “pride.” Yes, pride
is necessary as having pride means not hating one’s own self but instead it
means openly accepting and acknowledging one’s self. In the case of the LGBT
community, in many societies where heteronormativity (assuming that
heterosexuality is normal and “correct”) and homophobia exist, those who
identify as LGBT need to have pride as their pride is in fact being stolen
away; in societies that exclude and shame those who are simply not heterosexual
or fitting of a woman/man binary, being LGBT means hating one’s self. That is
not acceptable. And so, if pride is such a good thing, why am I challenging the
label of it? It becomes complicated when it comes to social privileges.
Personally for where I will argue, “acknowledgement” seems to provide a better
coverage as it now also holds socially privileged people responsible versus
merely allowing them to hold a bystander-like role, and at the same time still
allowing those oppressed to retain the notion
of pride and caring for themselves without criticism of being prideful without
knowing the actual reasons. Since this may all be poorly worded, allow me to
elaborate.

First, for where I find
“acknowledgement” most enticing, it is that socially privileged people must be
held accountable as well. But how does that occur? Think of it in this sense:
if I were to say “I have male pride,” I would probably slam my head against the
wall a few times. Others might even understandably join in. In saying “I have
male pride,” it is essentially flaunting off my privileges; I am proud to be
able to not be sexually objectified in comparison to women, that I am reassured
and seen as holding higher positions of power compared to women, and so forth.
It seems illogical to be proud of unearned social privileges on the basis of my
body parts. And so, what is the current solution many these days have adopt? To
simply not say they have pride for their privileged aspects. However, even with
this, although it is definitely a positive for socially privileged people to
not flaunt said privileges, there remains an issue: having the role of a
bystander.

For example, personally as long as I
do not claim I have male and heterosexual pride, I in essence am bereft of any
responsibility. I could simply say I wholeheartedly support LGBT pride and
women pride and so forth, but that is it; I do not need to look into my own
privileges at all. This is where saying I have “male acknowledgement” could be
vastly more beneficial than saying nothing (and is definitely much better than
saying I have “male pride”): I now have to acknowledge what being a male means
in my society (and many others), and indeed that means having many, many
privileges in comparison to females. After all, arguably if I was a female, the
following words would have a high chance of being dismissed as “feminazi” non-sense,
and yet with readers knowing I am a male, chances of that occurring is less. Furthermore,
the label of “acknowledgement” also helps account for socially privileged
people who feel that they must antagonize themselves. Social privilege never
means antagonizing those with privileges on an individual level. Although
admittedly in many past reviews I have been passive-aggressive towards social
privileges—usually out of self-deprecating humor such as with mocking my own
privileges—I absolutely do not intend that we hate those who are privileged. (And
with emphasis moreover on discussion than mere rants in current times—as soon
this will be my role as a teacher of providing various perspectives and
discussion points—I will no longer provide those passive-aggressive moments.) As
said before, when it comes to these sociological topics, the scale to focus on
is on the macro level—the societal level—and not necessarily the micro
level—the individual, personal level (unless if actual action is involved, such
as with how using gender-inclusive language on the micro level does impact the
macro level).

Now for one final reminder, this
change of term is not to say that “LGBT pride” or any other “pride” in its
current form is bad. The notion of it is absolutely fine; it is the label I am
concerned over as it is better to have socially privileged people involved
versus that of being bystanders. And of course, “acknowledgement” versus
“pride” also provides better insight as to why certain individuals should have
pride. The latter could be misconstrued so that makes it seem as if, for
example, one has LGBT pride because one is simply
LGBT; using “acknowledgement” on the other hand helps explain why the notion of LGBT pride exists.
There is acknowledging what it means to be LGBT in many societies—the harsh,
unjust reality of exclusion for individuals who deserve equal compassion and
respect.

And so, finally returning to the
original point of nationalism and patriotism, I would argue neither is
sufficient. Instead, national acknowledgement—to borrow from the discussion
earlier—is what may be more beneficial. One can and arguably should find some
pride in their country, but it should never be without a critical layer applied.
Supporting the beneficial acts—whatever one deems those to be—while still being
critical of questionable ones is, while not without flaws, at least more
developed than the ideas of nationalism and patriotism.

Relating this all back to K-Pop and
for what readers may desire moreover to read about, how does this all apply to
the idols? Simple: attempting to understand why the Chinese K-Pop idols have
posted the pictures. If they have shown unequivocal evidence of nationalism,
then indeed they deserve to be heavily critiqued. But, from my understanding,
that is not the case. Super Junior’s Zhoumi did not say “China owns the sea
because China is better than other countries.” Likewise, the other idols did
not attach anything else besides the photo. At most for what could be
understood as nationalism, the caption to the photo does read—based off
memory—“China is no smaller.” But, that is simply stating that China owns the
sea—and perhaps there might be some political interpretations of how China as a
country is not “smaller” in power, but either way, it is not a statement that
says “China is to dominate.” Regarding patriotism, this is a potential reason
and, as we have discussed, is a vague term. Is patriotism justifiable for the
idols’ act of posting the picture? To answer, we must ask ourselves: Are the idols
being critical in their support or are they simply siding with any act from
China? This is where fans have to be critical themselves. Idols, after all, are
not infallible; in truth, idols are merely individuals whose jobs happen to be
that of entertainment—though it arguably is a hefty role given the potential
level of influence. As such, whether they post the pictures or not, it is up to
fans to deconstruct whether to accept their position or not. Overall, however,
as seen no intentional harm is seen from the idols. None have flaunted that
China is a better country or that the other countries are “stealing” away from
China. But, this leads to the next and most important question: should idols
ever voice political or even social stances for that matter? Knowing their
level of influences, where is this balance if any for when this is permissible
and not?

For where I stand, like in many
other situations, I have a simple answer: I don’t know. If there is anything I
hope this blog offers to readers besides perhaps some entertainment or deeper
musical insights, I sincerely hope that it elicits critical thinking in that
readers look beyond one side of a topic—song or social. As perhaps with every
case, context matters. To say that idols should never voice any stance may be
extreme, but likewise is it for them to share everything. But, of course, there
is the issue that with idols’ potential to influence many, it may be best for
nothing to be said. Or is that the case? Perhaps some actual examples might
highlight the various sides to this discussion.

Although I personally have yet to
encounter a political topic within K-Pop prior to this one, there have been
many voicing regarding social topics. f(x)’s Amber, for example, is well
recognized for speaking out against gender discrimination and more so with
disassembling the binary of gender. (In fact her song of “Borders” possesses
very powerful lyrics—based on one’s interpretation—regarding the instability of
binaries, be it physically with country borders, gender, and so forth.)
Certainly, her popularity has much influence and I do believe she might have
changed many fans’ thinking of gender—but, one could arguably say it is for the
better and thus should be allowed. But of course, what about those who—regardless
of their position on enforcing or not enforcing gender norms—find it
uncomfortable that an idol would voice out their opinion, especially when they
once again have much influence? There is no simple answer.

In f(x)’s Amber and even NU’EST’s
Ren’s cases of challenging gender norms and voicing that—both with SNS and
physically as Amber prefers a more “masculine” appearance while Ren a more
“feminine” appearance—one could say they are delivering what is necessary while
one could also say it is an abuse of their status, whether intended or not. Although
I am confident to say many are in support of Amber’s and Ren’s challenging of
gender, for more controversial cases such as the current one of politics, what
about these cases? Or better yet, what if we imagine that in political
elections in South Korea, idols began sharing on SNS who to vote for? Indeed,
that would seem rather unnecessary, but likewise one could also argue that
idols’ job do not consist of social and political topics and thus, should stick
to pure entertainment. There is no definite answer, but what matters most is
having mature discussions and hearing out various views. For where I will end
with this aspect, I do believe idols should, when appropriate—whatever
“appropriate” is to mean, as this is where readers/fans have to decide—voice
their stances. Maybe politics are to be excluded but as pointed out and seen
throughout this blog, certainly K-Pop is much more than music and dancing and
seducing aesthetics; K-Pop definitely consists of social topics—it is
unavoidable—and with that, idols should consider this layer if necessary. In
the end, however, there are many views to consider, and if there is one
absolute answer, it is that my words and stances are not “correct” at all.

And so, for where we are now headed,
we will conclude with asking whether the current controversy and hatred spewing
is warranted. For this, I do have an answer: the hate towards everyone—idols
and fans of different nationalities—is ridiculous. Yes, people should care for
politics and yes people should be critical of the mentioned Chinese K-Pop idols
sharing their political opinions, but in the end, with the idols not being
nationalistic or shaming others from Vietnam and the Philippines, the current
reaction is far too excessive. Fans do not deserve to get insulted over the sea
dispute or to have begun the trending hate. For those who side with China’s
claim, they are not “brain-washed crazy communists” and likewise those who side
with Vietnam and the Philippines and the international decision are not “stupid,
weak, and undeveloped.” Although the idols arguably brought the controversial
politics into K-Pop, it should be fans’ job to mitigate the negative effects
that could—and did—come. In other words, fans should have continued to support
Super Junior’s Zhoumi’s new song and Miss A’s Fei’s new songs and not dismissed
their comebacks as “delusional, brain-washed Chinese people” just because of
their sharing of political stances—even if one greatly disagrees with them. Again,
if the idols bragged of China being better or rightfully harming others, then
yes the current reactions are understandable, but as is currently, it lacks rationality.
Disagree and challenge Fei and other’s political stances if desired, but one
should never hate Fei and others on an individual level: they are ordinary
people who have their own political and social views, as are the ones who are
ironically greatly bashing them. Even the most sexist man/woman alive deserves
to be treated with respect—so as long as they do no harm to women. They can
genuinely believe women are to be slaves or other limited ideas, but as long as
they respect women they encounter, then there is no issue even if they share
that they hate women. This might be the ultimate takeaway message.

In conclusion, and for what has
caused me to spend three days’ worth
of writing and not of reviewing the song itself (to the requester, this part of
the review is to be blamed and I do greatly apologize—though I hope it is
understood on why I am investing much time to discuss important topics), it is
true that idols should be cautious of what they share, and as for if they
should share anything at all, that is up for discussions. Personally, given
that I view pop culture as more than entertainment, I believe idols have at
least a social role (perhaps not a political one) and responsibility at times.
(For example, Fiestar’s Yezi supporting and giving encouragement to a boy who
simply adores makeup and “cross-dressing”—a term I greatly loathe but will use for readers’ understanding. Although
she is an idol, her standing up for a boy who is occasionally harassed is still her role as she is a human
being in the end. We all have a role to spread compassion and care, do we not?)
But even then, this is my view and others that disagree are rightfully so to
disagree, and to that I do hope readers critically challenge my claims. The
solution to social topics (or any for that matter) is not for one side to
“win”; if I may be cold, killing is the easiest way to fix problems if we are
to believe the prior. Instead, open and mature discussions are how solutions
are made. That is what is necessary, and with the controversy seen, is
something we all—and absolutely myself included—need to continually work at.

Ending this digression, and to end
on a comical note, I truly hoped that the amount of hatred towards Fei’s
“Fantasy” was due to the 18+ music video of virtual reality pornography, as
that discussion would be quite interesting. But of course, it appears that no
one has even bothered to care for this topic given the other at hand. (In a
future review, I hope to discuss pornography and perhaps even simply
sex—despite how blush-inducing these topics are—because, as I affectionately
call it, it is a “feminist war topic”; as discussed in Fiestar’s “Apple Pie,” feminism is quite complex and
pornography is a topic in which feminists are equally divided.)

With all of that covered and gone
(along with my coffee drink that is being used to “cheat” through this review
as the patient requester has waited long enough), Fei’s fantasy of a successful
solo debut is currently that of a fantasy, but this review might indeed claim
it is not just a fantasy and indeed is a tangible success. So how is “Fantasy”?
Let us join Fei’s virtual reality of “Fantasy” to find out. The song, that is,
and not the music video—unless if said reader wishes to fulfill her/his own fantasy
but let us not go there. Jokes aside, let us just begin this review before it
becomes more awkward.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 5/10
(5.40/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Chorus: 6/10

4.     Bridge: 5/10

5.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Section Distribution: X/10

Fei:
All

Equal Value: X sections per member.  


Lyrics: 5/10

Tell me whatever you want
Whatever it is

You can tell me whatever, what do you want?
Tell me everything you’ve dreamed of
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
I’m your girl now
You can tell me your hidden fantasies
I see you’re hesitating in case I get shocked
But actually, I’m not that innocent
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
I’m excited too
Look at me right now and tell me what comes up

Woo  
I’m waiting
Woo
I can do anything
Tell me everything you want whatever it is
Don’t hesitate but tell me baby
Woo
I’m ready
Woo
I’m in front of you like this
Tell me everything you want whatever it is
I want to do everything for you tonight

It’s hard to open your heart
But after you do, anything is possible
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
I made up my mind
So be free and think about what you want
I’ll help you so you can think
Just look at me now
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
Don’t take your eyes off of me
Every time you think of something, tell me

Woo  
I’m waiting
Woo
I can do anything
Tell me everything you want whatever it is
Don’t hesitate but tell me baby
Woo
I’m ready
Woo
I’m in front of you like this
Tell me everything you want whatever it is
I want to do everything for you tonight

It was hard to make up my mind
But when I saw you waiting for me
My heart started to open

Woo  
I’m waiting
Woo
I can do anything
Tell me everything you want whatever it is
Don’t hesitate but tell me baby
Woo
I’m ready
Woo
I’m in front of you like this
Tell me everything you want whatever it is
I want to do everything for you tonight

Choreography Score: 8/10 (7.50/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 7/10

– Key Points: 8/10

Overall Score: 7/10
(7.00/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: “Fantasy”
might just be the most suspenseful song yet to be reviewed if we are to look at
its raw score: 5.50. It hardly makes it into the “slightly above average”
range, but regardless that does sound appropriate as we will soon discuss.
Overall, though, for a personal praise to the song, “Fantasy” might be the best
song I have heard for its stylistic approach of being moreover linear. Again, a
linear, unchanging flow to a song is never inherently bad as one cannot
critique style, but as said when it
comes to songs with these formats (another example in mind would be Wonder
Girls’ “Why So Lonely”
), “Fantasy” excellently executes
it. But, this is all irrelevant and a mere digression as a more serious,
neutrally-biased approach to the song unveils many weak points—and of course,
strong points.

Before
diving into the music, the choreography for one is greatly worth analyzing. In
fact, just the very essence that I am covering this aspect should already
reveal how momentous it is. Syncing is above average, as are a majority of
dances. This will not be expanded upon for that reason, but indeed in summary the
syncing remains sharp. For where I would like to direct readers’ attention, the
key points to “Fantasy” are fantastic. From the use of rings/hula-hoops as
props to the actual dance points involved with them, this component significantly
augments the choreography. It adds an additional, creative layer to the already
solid key points, and unlike other choreographies that may suffer from
potential dullness due to repeating key points, “Fantasy” entirely avoids that
through utterly different key points. All in all, the dance is truly
spectacular.

Focusing
on the song itself, gauging over the categories’ ratings admittedly can be
somewhat disheartening—and more so considering that I did praise the song in a
general sense. Nevertheless, with the four categories (the sections
distribution being excluded as, quite obviously, there is only Fei) half of
them score as average, and as for the remaining they only score a single point
higher.

With
the lyrics for example, an average is earned due to its repetitive nature—but
this is understandably a harsh criticism. With “Fantasy” being predominantly
consisting of verses and choruses, there is little room for variety to take
place lyrically. However, even so, the excess repetition is too significant to
merely ignore. Furthermore, other sections involved—the introduction and
bridge—are likewise dull in content. In truth, all of the sections are dull in
content; the lyrics provide nothing more than plain, superficial details to the
plot and this is true in all of the sections. Finally, if we account for the
plot which, arguably while unique in the sense that it alludes to sexual
fantasies and many songs seldom venture in this idea, is still underdeveloped.
Now many may disagree and claim that the lyrics are in fact intriguing due to
what it is referring to—again, sexual fantasies—but my emphasis is that if we
are to strip away our social reactions and focus on the story itself, it is
akin to any other lyrics seen in songs, such as that of breakups. After all,
with “Fantasy,” a simple sentence can summarize it: a woman is taking charge of
sex with her partner and
to that, you go lady for leading your boy
. Yes, it is unique in the sense that (Korean) pop
songs are reluctant to use blush-inducing plots (or perhaps the blushing is
only for me), but once again if we focus on what is directly delivered, it is
seen that “Fantasy” ‘s lyrics are as average as songs that are along the lines
of crying over a relationship split.

Swapping
over to the vocals of the song and likewise the instrumental as the two are
very similar, both have scored at a six. Both ultimately follow the same trend:
smooth, slower pacing and flow but with some added subtle variety. In fact, coincidentally,
the linked review of Wonder Girls applies here: the vocals—and in “Fantasy” ‘s
case, the instrumental as well—are indeed decent from a sonic perspective, but
both partially lack in ability to maintain high appeal. Let us focus on the
vocals first to understand this point. With Fei’s singing, without accounting
for variations yet, it is quite alluring to listen to. There is a soothing,
calming and tuneful sound, and indeed despite never showcasing powerful note
holds or even minor vocal beltings for that matter, her singing in of itself is
admirable. Where there are finally some issues are in the singing’s variety.

Now
to clarify here, readers might be wondering if I am now critiquing the style to
the song; after all, with “Fantasy” following a linear form as discussed
earlier, the vocals’ lack of variety seems to be merely a part of it. To this,
I disagree: “Fantasy” may be linear in form, but it still does have variety.
Consider, for examples, the change in singing between the verses and choruses,
and furthermore, within the choruses themselves there are minor yet noticeable
changes in singing style. Where my critique resides in, then, is not the lack of
variety necessarily—the idea that Fei’s singing style and form never changes—but
instead, that in an overarching view of the song, it simply lacks the extra
content necessary to perhaps push it towards a seven. One must bear in mind
that a six is still a decent score—it is just that “Fantasy” could have went
even higher. For perhaps an aspect to consider, “Fantasy” lacking a pre-chorus—a
section that could and most likely would
have provided the push in vocal diversity—might be the reason for why the
vocals begin sounding mundane after multiple playbacks. As for the
instrumental, the same critiques above apply: in of itself, the highlighted
bass line proves beneficial to the vocals and song in whole, and likewise the
more subtle sounds added also provide their sonic appeal, but just like the
vocals, the instrumental also loses its charm as overtime it begins sounding
slightly monotonous. Sixes, though, are still admirable scores.

In
terms of the sections, as noted above “Fantasy” follows a peculiar form—but it
is a form that works positively in the case of giving the song its individual
style. Specifically, if not blatant enough, I am referring to how this song lacks
pre-choruses. (But of course, if we are to be truly analytical with the
sections, I would argue it is simply two verses that occur right after the
other, and with that the second verse could technically be called a pre-chorus.
But, due to its heavy similarity if not exact replica of the first verse, I
have compiled the “back-to-back verses” as one larger verse.) How does this
affect the song, and better yet what is
the effect of lacking a pre-chorus on a song? Although that cannot be answered
in a general sense, I do have some insight as to “Fantasy” ‘s case. Before
that, however, let us run through all of the sections.

The
introduction, bridge, and conclusion all score at a five for average. Sadly, “average”
is a perfect description of those sections. Take the conclusion for example.
While it does allow “Fantasy” to end without abruptness and that it works the
strength of ending on the song’s key sounds, its method—the manner of
increasing the pitch of the recycled chorus for the purposes of a climactic end—is
nothing exclusive. In fact, with that style—the idea of using a climactic
ending—contrasting the passive tone of the song that has been already
established, it arguably is more detrimental than beneficial. Instead, for what
may have been more pleasing to hear, an individual concluding section might
have worked. After all, the climactic shift is not necessarily bad at all;
through the use of it, it signifies the song’s upcoming end. Likewise, not
using it and instead opting to replay a chorus in its standard form for another
time might have been excessive. As such, an individual concluding point,
whether of a higher pitch-shifted chorus or not, may have provided a better
balance. This is all, of course, speculation and I certainly have minimal
credibility for suggestions to songs.
Point is, the concluding chorus is unfortunately cliché in form. It serves an
understandable purpose, but a more creative way of conducting such would have
been more desirable. Not surprisingly, the introduction and bridge also follow
suit: purposes that are understandable, but with questionable methods of
executing said purposes.  

To
explain, the bridge follows the traditional form of halting a song’s pacing
for, in this specific case, a build-up towards the upcoming climactic point
(the final chorus), and while its form is indeed viable and that it
successfully reaches its goal, its method is too ordinary. Combine that
staleness with how the song already follows moreover a simplistic route—though as
said numerously, simplicity in of itself is never bad—and the bridge is only
average. As for the introduction, the main culprit for its rating is how the
vocals were roughly introduced. If, for example, Fei’s introduction vocals were
transitioned into by a whispering tune versus that of a stronger vocal presence—a
presence that seems as if it were the verses’ or choruses’ vocals—then
absolutely the section’s format would have flourished. But all in all, it is
worth bearing in mind that average is not necessarily a poor quality; average
is the neutral ground. The only issue with average ratings is that, in the
realm of music, being average means being among the many hundred-thousands of
songs.

Switching
our focus on the verses and choruses now, and also how the lack of pre-choruses
affects “Fantasy,” both sections score at a six. As I have already covered the
vocals and instrumental, those categories very much cover the strong points of
the verses and choruses: smooth, calming singing and instrumental. Now to focus
on the missing pre-choruses, it indeed is unknown on whether this is a positive
or negative. On the positive perspective, with how “Fantasy” follows a straightforward
form, the verses act as pseudo pre-choruses but in a more suitable manner.
Because, in a general sense for pop songs, pre-choruses tend to hype a song in
preparation for the upcoming choruses—and of which tend to be a core, climactic
part—this would most likely not fit the style to “Fantasy” at all. This song is
that of serenity and a singular form, not that of being upbeat and having
spikes in intensity. Thus, the removal of pre-choruses benefits as it allows a
sharper, cleaner transition from the verses’ calmness to the choruses’
calmness. On the negative side, however, as discussed above with the vocals and
instrumental, not possessing pre-choruses does mean there is the downside of
potentially lacking diversity for said vocals and instrumental. Although this
is certainly not automatically granted in “Fantasy,” perhaps having
pre-choruses would have mitigated the current staleness that is heard.

All
in all, Fei’s solo debut can be considered slightly above average if we are to
use this review’s ratings, but even so one must recall that the song is a
single decimal away from being average—from being another, typical K-Pop song. Ignoring
numbers, however, Fei’s “Fantasy” is worth listening to but admittedly, it is
not an outstanding solo debut. It is certainly far from bad, but likewise it is
a bluff to claim this song close to being a top-tier one. In the end, let us
answer the main question: is Fei’s solo debut a success? I hesitate to
instantly say it is, but definitely I do find it an adequate song and that Fei
can still flourish with it. With strengths in its choreography and solid
execution for its linear style, “Fantasy” will be a hit for those who adore its
stage presence and calmness, but for those who desire more from Fei’s singing, the
song’s instrumental and its section, more is indeed desired.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, I sincerely apologize for this review taking quite a while.
Given that this review went up to the 6,900 word count, however, I hope some
understanding occurs. (For a scale on how long this review is, I could have written—assuming
no social digression took place—two lengthier, thorough song reviews or three
usual song reviews. Yes, this review consumed that much time but I do hope it
is worth it in regards to Fei and other idols’ current controversy.)
Homogenously, for readers and another requester, I also apologize for delays.
As only a few days are left in July—and by a few I mean three days—I will
finish two music-orientated reviews. Specifically, Vromance’s “She” as
requested will be finished by hopefully tomorrow, and that GFriend’s “Navillera”
will wrap up the month as we head into August. Hopefully with August I am more
concise with digressions should they occur as this is extremely problematic. (I
definitely could have summarized my points easily without the need of two
examples per argument point for example.) Improvements are always welcomed,
though.

Thank
you for reading this review in whichever length and form. Look forward to “She”
by Vromance to come, and for those tuned into my YouTube channel, for more
Fiestar subtitled videos to come (and likewise with contributing more subtitles
to an upcoming subbing team for Fiestar). “I want to do everything for you
tonight”—and this is pitifully true as I am finishing up this review late at
night. Jokes aside, look forward to “She.”

AKMU – “Re-Bye” Review

AKMU
– Re-Bye (Dance Practice)

AKMU
– Re-Bye (Live Performance)

AKMU (Akdong Musician) – Re-Bye

Reviewed
on June 5, 2016

Personal Message:
To the requester, huge apologies for
the significant delays. I did plan to finish this in May, but I would have had
to rush and that is never acceptable when it comes to reviews. Doing so would
be disrespectful to both you and AKMU as I should be sincerely writing reviews
with care, focus, and thoroughness. As a result, however, this review has been
moved over to June, and more specifically, a few days into June. Now due to the
delay and attempting to bring the blog back on track, I will attempt to keep
this review entirely focused on the musical side—though there would not be a
social digression in this instance. That will occur in the next review if I
follow through with plans. But on topic, to already address the links, I will
be linking the dance practice as is usual protocol. The audio in the dance
practice is the official, studio one and thus is technically the only one
necessary to include. But, as seen, it is not the only one: I have also
included a live performance. Unlike many if not every other song reviewed,
“Re-Bye” is worth watching in an actual live performance setting as doing so
further enhances the delivery of the song. In other words, for a lack of a
better phrase, this song is very much “stage-based”; although “Re-Bye” can hold
its own as just the audio or standard choreography, it flourishes best when
seen in an actual performance akin to that of theatre plays.

Although I cannot comment on many of
AKMU’s past songs, I will say the duo siblings’ latest comeback is strongly
orientated towards a theatre, acting style. Especially when accounting the
instrumental, vocal style, song style, choreography, and stage costumes, it
almost feels as if “Re-Bye” and “How People Move”—the other title song—are
musical plays.

Now to be slightly off-topic, I
admit: the only other song I directly recognize from AKMU is “Melted”—though I
have heard their latest album in full. (And of which is decent, for those
curious on my personal take.) Nevertheless, “Melted” is an incredibly moving,
provocative song and music video. I may one day review it, but to answer the
“big question”: yes, I did bawl my eyes out when watching the music video and
listening to the song. Whether I review it or not, I do urge readers to give
the music video (and song) a view. In essence, one could argue “Melted” is overall
a critique on many societies’ ethics—or better yet, the lack thereof. Furthermore,
subtle hints are made towards social issues, be it how youth are entirely
disregarded (and another reason out of many for why I am working towards
becoming teacher), racism, hegemonic masculinity, and more. However,
optimistically, in contrast to many other mediums that leave one feeling
depressed with how certain societies function, the music video does offer some
“solutions”: acts of kindness; acts of compassion; acts of care; acts of love.

Cliché? Certainly the message can
be. Does the music video have a point, though? In many ways, yes. This indeed
is why on many occasions I devote an equal amount of time into discussing
relevant social topics as reviews themselves; social topics that are elicited
by K-Pop songs do in fact matter given how we are dealing with pop
culture—mediums that will and do affect people’s behaviors and thinking. After
all, if anything is to be gleaned from “Melted,” it is to act with the traits
above: traits of being a human—a person who cares and is compassionate for
others despite differences in gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, and
so forth. Being ethical, in short, is how we should act. Now of course the
latter phrase is already controversial: what is ethical? Even after a course with that topic, in truth, I still
do not even know. What I do know, though, is that it matters less on what is “ethical” and more on why something is “ethical” or not. But,
let us not digress onto the topic of ethics or else this review will never
finish. (If a future review somehow can relate into this such as, for a very
simple example, in a music video a group is boiling lobster—yes, you read that
correctly—then I could showcase how ethics does in fact play out with very
seemingly minor acts. Hopefully this does not make readers too paranoid yet
about lobster consumption. Again, the topic of ethics is for the far future of
reviews. I intend to stick with sociological-based discussions.)

On topic with “Re-Bye,” this song is
AKMU’s latest comeback. The siblings are well known for their sharp vocals and
live singing abilities, and with “Re-Bye,” there should not be any exceptions.
Or so we think. Let us see how their latest song holds. Will there be a need
for a re-“Re-Bye”?

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 7/10
(7.20/10 raw score) – “Above average”


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 6/10
(5.83/10 raw score)

Introduction, Verse,
Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Rap, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Conclusion

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Rap: 5/10

6.     Conclusion: 6/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Section Distribution: 10/10

Soohyun:
Introduction, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus (Total: 7)

Chanhyuk:
Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Rap, Pre-Chorus, Chorus (Total: 7)

Equal Value: 7 sections per member.  


Lyrics: 6/10

Re-e-e bye
Shake your hand without regrets
Re-bye
Re-e-e bye
Then is then, now is now
Re-bye
(Re-bye, bye bye)

I’m used to foot steps that come and go
There’s nothing more shameful
than not being used to the farewells
I’m used to the eyes that are seeing me
All the girls around me
think I’m not trustworthy
But it’s okay
I have nothing to be ashamed of

Oh there’s no need to tear
Only the thick fog will remain
Where’s the rest of things from the melted
times that are sent by tears

Re-e-e bye
Shake your hand without regrets
Re-bye
Re-e-e bye
Then is then, now is now
Re-bye
If you turn around, it’s the end
Re-e-e bye

I’m used to foot steps that come and go
There’s nothing more shameful
than not being used to the farewells

It’s now hard to see attachment
It’s now hard to find a real partner
Let me go, I can’t stay calm
(Stop it)
I’m already pissed off
A person who shares a lot
is called an idiot in this era
The only thing that remained in my hands
is a loss
Saying goodbye precisely,
close the door of my mind
The room is dark
If somebody catches your mind, it’s game over
There’s no other way
Fool yourself
It’s me by here
It’s suspicious, I smell something

Oh there’s no need to tear
Only the thick fog will remain
Where’s the rest of things from the melted
times that are sent by tears

Re-e-e bye
Shake your hand without regrets
Re-bye
Re-e-e bye
Then is then, now is now
Re-bye
If you turn around, it’s the end
Re-e-e bye

Choreography Score: 7/10 (6.50/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 7/10

– Key Points: 6/10

Overall Score: 7/10
(7.00/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Quickly
glancing at the ratings will unveil a rather balanced song—numerically, that
is. Indeed, “Re-Bye” is a song that fares well overall, although there still
are weak points as to be discussed. However, before that, let us focus on the
strengths of the song. For one, if the rating is not blatant enough, “Re-Bye”
greatly benefits from a perfect section distribution. Both have seven sections,
and with that being the absolute equal share possible and not, for example,
“6.5,” a ten is deserved. However admittedly this is not an utterly impressive
aspect considering there are only two members in the duo and thus, an equal
share is very much expected. Nonetheless, a perfect
share is always worth praising such as in this case. And on the topic of
non-sonic aspects, regarding the lyrics to “Re-Bye,” a six is in place.
Although the plot itself is alluring with being mysterious and likewise the
details, there are still some gaping issues. Usual problems as seen in many
other songs occur here: excessive repetition at the pre-choruses and choruses.
Furthermore, the choruses lack much depth in comparison to other sections, even
if one were to play around with the idea that “Re-e-e bye” in of itself is a
“re-bye.” Nonetheless, with complex rap lyrics and that the overall plot is not
just about a breakup but instead, ideas of what relationships even are in the
first place, the lyrics still hold up a decent rating.

Finally
focusing on the song’s sound, “Re-Bye” greatly thrives in its vocals,
instrumental and sections—though the latter is weaker as we will get to. Regarding
the vocals and instrumental, perhaps the strongest aspect to both collectively
and individually is the chemistry that occurs. Before discussing how individual
aspects play out, we will focus on the collective perspective. First, both
vocals and instrumental accommodate one another appropriately. As mentioned
earlier with “Re-Bye” ‘s theatre-like style, this arguably best explains my
point. While some songs opt for an instrumental that follows the vocals—such as
the instrumental solely providing the vocals a background and transitions—in
“Re-Bye,” that is the case. Instead, both work simultaneously; the vocals help
direct the instrumental while homogeneously the instrumental helps direct the
vocals. For example, the second verse’s vocals follow a rhythm that is
typically unseen in standard singing. Why is that? That rhythm that appears is
moreover one that is reflected in the instrumental itself. Thus, in this
instance, one could claim the instrumental guides the vocals versus the other
way around—as is the norm. Overall, with many of these moments occurring
throughout “Re-Bye,” it provides a delightful yet effective change from the
usual roles of instrumental and vocals and thus both glean some boost to their
ratings for this.

Now
on the individual level, both categories also handle well. The vocals, even
despite lacking what is oftentimes considered as strong vocals—high notes,
vocal beltings, note holds, and so forth—challenges those said standards. After
all, as mentioned on numerous occasions, it is about delivery versus the vocals in of themselves. Therefore, even if
AKMU are not showcasing those listed types of singing, that does not exclude
them from being able to obtain a higher rating. On topic, for what makes the
vocals individually enticing in “Re-Bye,” one exclusive trait the duo brings is
just that: duo singing—or dual singing, perhaps better said. In other words,
with Chanhyuk and Soohyun alternating lines consistently and constantly, this
contributes to more complex and attractive harmonies, smooth transitions, and
ultimately that it brings a more dynamic and unique take to “Re-Bye.” And of
course, for basic aspects such as how well the two control their tunes and how
diverse the song vocally is, all are a satisfactory standard.

Regarding
the instrumental, much of the same praise towards the vocals individually does
in fact translate over. But, in summary: the instrumental sounds phenomenal on
its own, and indeed it strongly supplements while likewise aids in leading the
vocals—a rarer act, as discussed earlier. Now for the last category to discuss,
the sections are admittedly weaker in juxtaposition to others. Nonetheless, all
are still decent and in the end, the sections average out with a six. To dive
slightly into the sections themselves, both introduction and conclusion are of
the usual: both fulfill their roles of hooking and ending, but both are not utterly captivating in sound. With the
pre-chorus and chorus, these parts best highlight what was discussed above with
the instrumental and vocals, hence the higher ratings. The two sections that are
more disappointing are the verses and rap. Both, bluntly said, are dull; the
verses provide nothing more than merely continuing the song, and the rap comes
off as plain in its instrumental, flow, pacing—even if some standard singing is
included at the second half. Now of course this is not to say they are poor sections—far from that. But,
neither stands out in any manner. Average is the rating.

And
to conclude this review, for the choreography, the syncing remains sharp. From
the hand waves to the kicks, the dancing relates to both beats, flow, and so
on. What, however, remains lackluster are the key points: excessively simple.
To clarify, as disclaimed in past reviews, simplicity—whether in songs or
choreography—is not inherently bad at all. Again, delivery is what matters. In “Re-Bye”
‘s specific case, the dance is moreover bland even if the syncing is moreover
precise and, more significantly, even if the key points suit the theatre-like
style that I keep reiterating.

All
in all, “Re-Bye” concludes at above average be it for the song itself or once
calculating in the dance. Do I agree? Wholeheartedly said: yes. AKMU’s singing
and performances are always pleasing, and “Re-Bye” continues the trend. With
the song, the repetitive lyrics along with the duller verses and rap can muddle
down the song, but given its stronger vocals, instrumental, and sections
distribution and overall its incredible chemistry between Soohyun and Chanhyuk,
indeed it is a song that holds up well.

_______________________________________________________

As
always, thank you to all for reading. To the requester, once again I greatly
apologize. Emphasis: greatly
apologize. It truly is inexcusable for me to take more than a week to get to
this request. For that, I am sincerely sorry and will definitely reduce delay
times in the future. Even if one were to be understanding with ideas that I was
busy and so forth, I will deny those ideas as—although some time was invested
to subtitling Fiestar videos—it was overall me deciding to ignore reviews for a
while. What was I doing? Admittedly trying out a new video game was what
occurred (and of which I may review considering it is somewhat relevant to the
blog as it is one of the trending video games in the Korean gaming community
from my knowledge). Obviously, that was me putting my selfish needs ahead, and as
always, I do want to be transparent with readers. All that said, though, the
review is finally done and I hope it was very much worth the wait. Thank you
for the request and for being patient.

In
terms of upcoming reviews, for certain Fiestar’s “Apple Pie” is next. Musically
it may have been personally the most conflicting song I have yet to deal with
(I went from favoring to disliking the song back and forth for many days), and
there was an incident involving Cao Lu that I do want to touch upon—even if
Fiestar fans would wish for me to stuff this in a pie and to forget it. Also,
in addition to that review, besides potentially a bonus video game review, I am
likewise considering to do a small give away involving—not surprisingly—video games.
(If it occurs, thanks should go towards my friend for her willingness to not
just share the game but also for the giveaway codes.) Time will tell how it
goes, but judging from the past I am aware that some readers here, like many in
these days, are fond of video games and thus may enjoy the giveaway. It will
not, however, be a simple giveaway as I will do my best to restrict it towards
readers and not, for example, a random gamer who stumbled her way into the
giveaway post and who has no care for my reviews, let alone K-Pop. I also have
ideas to help deter people from falsely claiming multiple codes under the
disguise of multiple identities—but again, this is moreover for the random
gamer who finds her way here and not the usual readers here of whom I entirely
trust.  

All
in all, look forward to Fiestar’s “Apple Pie” and a provoking social discussion
to come with it that involves Cao Lu, and for readers who are video gamers to
look forward to potentially a game review and video game codes giveaway. But of
course, since “then is then, now is now,” I cannot confirm anything but Fiestar’s
review. Keep checking back.

Sistar – “I Swear” Review

Sistar
– I Swear (Dance Practice)

Sistar – I Swear

Reviewed
on May 30, 2016

Personal Message:
I admit: I am incredibly
disorganized right now and even somewhat overwhelmed with the amount of reviews
to cover. There are so many songs I want to and plan to review, but will I be
able to cover them all before May ends? It depends on how dedicated I can get.
Most likely, though, I will be able to finish the two requested reviews of this
month—this review being a request. That said, to the requester, thank you for
sending this in. I have not received a request in a while, so this was a
pleasant surprise. Additionally, this request being that of a somewhat older
song is also delightful (and surprising considering most requests are based on artists
that I have yet to review or on comebacks): Sistar’s summer song of 2014, “I
Swear”—though “summer song” is debatable as some may claim “Touch My Body”
holds that title. Personally, however, this song was iconic of my 2014 summer
as it was the “ending summer song.” But besides sentimental reasons, “I Swear”
also has a valuable spot with being one of my personal favorite songs. And on
top of it all, it is by Sistar, a group I very much love and of whom are very
popular and skilled. (It is a shame I have not been keeping up with Sistar
news, let alone any news minus ones that involve Fiestar, MAMAMOO, and SPICA.)

Before diving into the review, I
confess that I thought I had reviewed “I Swear” before. Turns out, that is not
true as I have only reviewed “Give It To Me” and “Touch My Body”—both of which,
though, are completely butchered reviews. In that sense, I am quite glad I did not review “I Swear” as I would have
given inaccurate nines all over. On that note, for a minor digression (skip
ahead to the review), some readers—especially those who have been tuned in
since the earlier days or have peered at my earlier reviews—may be curious on
when and why I became more strict with reviews. How did I go from liberally
giving nines to now nines being considered one of the hardest ratings to earn? In
fact, how did songs in the past even earn tens when, as readers can tell, it is
practically impossible for a song to ever achieve a perfect ten in anything
minus the Sections Distribution category? Since I seldom cover the
“behind-the-scenes” of reviews—or at least I have not done so in nearly a
year—let us spend some time covering how my reviews changed, both with
strictness and outline, and how I even decide numerical ratings in  the first place. (And yes, sociology based
digressions will resume for sure in June.)

Focusing on strictness, there are
various factors at play for why I was incredibly lenient during earlier
reviews. For one, I admittedly was quite biased; I did tend to review songs I
personally enjoyed, and of course, I would translate that into high ratings. Furthermore,
I was new to critically analyzing music, let alone addressing the sociological
aspects to songs. And thus, with my lack of skills and overall lack of maturity
on all fronts—music and socially (my writing style was too casual along with having subtle sexist and heteronormative
remarks)—I simply just did not know better. If it “sounded good”—words that I
truly said—then any rating would be permissible and viable. Never did I dive
into the complexities of songs until much later, and even then, it is
constantly a growth. During last summer I admit: I thought I achieved mastery
of reviewing songs; I thought that I knew how to review every song from
thereon. Of course, however, that is far from the case as even more changes and
(hopefully) improvements took place, and indeed, I doubt I will ever achieve
mastery with learning how to review songs. Besides, what fun is it to ever
claim one has mastered anything? Learning and improvement is limitless, and
helping others gain said skills arguably matters much more than merely hoarding
skills and knowledge.

On this note, in terms of how and
why the review outline went through multiple revisions and to this day is still
being modified, in short: improvements. From the first outline to the current,
flaws will be eventually discovered and thus, changes are done to address those
weaker points. For example, in the past I noticed there was a significant
shortcoming with having my review restricted to solely single categories.
Instead of being flexible and dynamic, reviews were quite monotonous and it was
essentially a paragraph per category. (The vocals would have one paragraph,
then the sections, and so on.) Now, I try to keep reviews more individual and
open to variety, but even currently there is still much to improve on in that aspect.
And of course with that said, my writing will always be in a state of
improving. Even if I have some moments where I do genuinely believe I brought a
song justice through adequate writing, I am seldom satisfied with where my
writing skills currently are. After all, why look at what my writing skills are when I can look at where they will be?

Swapping over to ratings, as
discussed earlier, there used to be no rubric whatsoever. That, however, is no
longer the case: I have certain guidelines for how I come up with ratings.
Before getting into how and why I give specific numerical ratings, it might be
best for readers to even know what
the ratings are—though I am certain many readers know, and even new readers
most likely know. For fun, however, the following should clarify what the
numbers truly mean in these current times:

0 – Absolutely horrendous. This is a
rating I have yet to give and very much doubt I will ever see in my entire
years of existing. Giving a zero would mean whichever category it is received
in is beyond poor. A simple possible scenario might be a Sections Distribution
where, to use Sistar as example, Hyorin has fifteen sections while the rest of
her members have absolutely none. Again, a near impossible rating to earn, but
it is there.

1 – Very poor. Akin to a zero
rating, I am also very skeptical of a category ever hitting a one. However, I
will say that it is not to the degree of “impossible”; given that this is the
inverse of a nine—of which are possible though quite rare—scores of ones in
that sense are still very much possible to earn. Chances, though, is slim, and
let us be honest: there tends to be more “very good” than “very poor”
scenarios. On topic, ratings of ones simply indicate that a certain category,
be it the vocals or instrumental or whatever else, are of very low quality. A
crude example would be imagining a reverse-universe where Sistar are atrocious
singers who sound like cats in deep anguish. Now this is a “1” rating example,
but it should be relatively straightforward.

2 – This rating is not very poor but rather, is a plain “poor.”
With this rating, whichever category is to receive it is far from admirable but
is not to the degree of the ratings above. For example, an exceptionally
disorganized and rambunctious introduction may earn a two. This would showcase
that it is definitely not enticing, but again it is not to the extent that the
introduction should cease to exist at all. Nonetheless, this is still overall a
rating for songs to avoid.

3 – Continuing on, a three on the
other hand is the usual “below average.” Unlike a two, a category with this is
one that is below usual standards, but it is a rating that becomes somewhat
acceptable. Earning a three, though still very much undesired, would not be
utterly shocking. Again, it would be best to avoid, but it is not too extreme. And
on that note, let us take a look at the next rating.

4 – This is where “slightly below
average” comes into play. In truth, a rating of a four is not too bad. Why? If
“average” is the neutral ground, this simply means—should a category earn a
four—that the category is just a minor bit below that neutral point. As such,
unless if it becomes a recurring number, one four would not likely
significantly decrease a song’s overall score—though again, it is indeed best
to still avoid as it is in the “negative” range (anything below a five). After all,
is “average” not the lowest a rating should be at?

5 – Perfectly timed, a five
represents the plain ground: average. Nothing more or less. Anything with this
rating is neutral; a category with a five is neither good nor bad. Usually in
actual application this would mean that a category, be it the vocals or
specific sections or so on, fulfill their standard roles, but do nothing else
to bring in uniqueness and attractiveness. Now on a more pessimistic tone, although
fives are indeed the neutral point, as I have discussed in prior reviews: that
is not necessarily true. In fact, fives may still be considered a “negative”
score if we think less about quantity and more qualitatively. If it is true
that fives represent “average,” then that means a song with a five in whichever
category is equal to any other usual
pop song (or other genres)—and “other” refers to hundreds of thousands. Therefore,
to have, for example the vocals, be rated at a five is to say that the song of
review sounds—in terms of the vocals—like any other song. Especially with the
competitive field of music, being average is still somewhat negative. Thus,
perhaps there is no neutrality after all, depending on how one views it.

6 – Working our way up to the more
optimistic and pleasant ratings, everything at this point is the inverse of the
others. This rating is for “slightly above average.” This is a rather common
rating and arguably the most common one I hand out. It is nothing too valuable,
but considering this allows a song to depart from the usual “average songs,” it
is still respectable.

7 – Sevens are perhaps the ideal
scores that I do wish to give. At a seven, a category would be considered
“above average,” and that is certainly desirable as it would set a song above
usual—“average—songs. Especially with what was discussed earlier, a seven is
definitely the ideal rating to earn.

8 – For eights, this tends to
usually be the highest a category goes, as will be explained with nines and
tens. This rating indicates a solid “good”; the category is simply fantastic
and praiseworthy. There would be minimal irking points if even any. Earning
this is far from impossible, but nonetheless is a somewhat difficult feat.

9 – On the other hand, in contrast
to eights, this rating is extremely difficult to earn. Any category with this
would have no weak points but more importantly, is definitely leaning towards
having solely strengths. To give an example to clarify perhaps what is expected
and how difficult earning a nine is, MAMAMOO and BTOB—two extremely vocally
adept groups be it with singing or rapping—are both considered “eight” for
their vocals. And yet, if many are posed with the question of asking where the
two groups should be with vocals, I am confident that many would claim these
two groups are certainly towards the higher levels and thus, would seem to be
at nines. However, that is not the case. In fact, even Ailee for example—an
artist I oftentimes have labeled as one the top vocalists I have yet to
hear—would be an eight. Ponder over that. Ailee, the “Queen Vocalist” of K-Pop,
is an eight. (Now of course this all varies per song, but I am generalizing
when I speak of the artists’ vocal ratings. For example, MAMAMOO’s
“Hinterlands” on Immortal Songs 2
would indeed rate at a nine, even though all of their other songs would be at
eights or lower.)

10 – Impossible to earn. I cannot
even imagine any category, minus the Section Distribution of course, that would
score a ten. This would mean a category is perfect. For example, a verse with a
ten would have to vocally and instrumentally sound beyond extraordinary, and
furthermore with its structure would have to be absolutely unique and yet
utterly effective for the song in whole. It is a standard that exists, but as
said, it is one I doubt the blog will ever see. Ignoring newbie reviews, that
is.

Since the ratings have been
numerically explained, it would now be suiting to disclose how even ratings
come to be in the first place. In other words, what does the review process
itself look like? Without getting into monotonous details, in a brief summary,
the review process is as follows:

The first step is, to insert some
sassiness, obviously listening to the song. However, it is slightly more than
just that. After listening to the song of interest, perhaps the most important
step I take is to then gauge my biased reaction: where do I want the song to score? This is critical as, when it comes to writing
the review, I need to be able to separate my personal stance—whether in favor
or against a song—from a systematic, neutral standpoint. After all, what point
is a review if I would give high ratings solely to my favorite artists? Afterwards,
once I am able to gauge my initial take, I then proceed with listening to the
song multiple times and at different days. (For example, while exercising I may
decide to focus on the song, but then I allow some time to pass before
listening to it again. Point is, I listen to a song enough for memorization to
take place, but I ensure that enough breaks are given so that I gain new
insight.) Then is where my analysis comes in with going through section by
section, tracking solely the vocals or the instrumental, gauging at how
sections play out and relate to the song in whole, and so forth. This portion
of the review processing is what consumes the most time.

All in all, though, I do wish to
clarify an important piece: throughout the whole review process, one must be
aware it can never be unequivocally neutral. At best, music reviews can be and
should be “neutrally biased,” but never can reviews be “neutral.” In fact, even
other materials, be it makeup or phones, can arguably never be quite reviewed “neutrally.”
What do I mean? Here is the simple answer: “good” is never objective when it
comes to music (and others). Take an example: what I consider “good vocals” may
actually be atrocious to another reviewer; she might claim that MAMAMOO’s
vocals are excessive and thus, would claim they are average singers while I, on
the other hand, are constantly praising the ladies and holding them as
high-tiered singers. Nevertheless, reviews should still be “neutrally biased.”
Indeed, when it comes to giving
ratings, that act should be without extraneous influence. Where an issue
exists, however, is that the ratings
in of themselves will be biased—but that is not inherently bad. It is
unavoidable; akin to implicit social biases when it comes to gender, race, and
so forth, our socialization creates our “music bias” as well, if I may label it
as that. What matters is, like with social biases, bringing said biases to the
front and openly confronting them.

For example, I recognize that I
dislike songs that tend to be what I deem “chaotic” for a lack of a better
label. An example off the top of my head is BTS’ “Fun Boys.” (I will one day
review a song by BTS. I am moreover surprised, though, that no one has ever requested
them yet.) Biasedly, with what I personally like in a song, “Fun Boys” is the
pure opposite. However, after realizing my bias take and from thereon seeing the
song for its own worth, I do confidently say that “Fun Boys” is far from bad at
all. In fact, it is decent and has impressive musical twists—twists that I
would biasedly claim are vexing though once neutrally seen, are excellent. In
summary: “neutral” comes in not letting my personal music bias influencing my
given ratings, but in the end, what I deem “good” or “bad” will forever be
subjective. Not even in hundred thousands of technological advances will
technology ever be able to decide if SPICA’s “Ghost” or BTOB’s “It’s Okay” is
the “better” or “correct” song.

In the end, if readers are still curious
on this “reviews are not neutral” discussion, my review
on TWICE
might have more thorough explanations. I personally aim to have
reviews on this blog discussion-based versus claim-based; rather than focusing
all of my efforts on unequivocally labeling a song as good or bad, I want to
focus rather on why I claim a song renders
as excellent or average or below average. Never should my reviews (or even
Personal Message social digressions for that matter) be taken as truths. At
most I am sharing one perspective out of the infinite that already exist.
Encouraging readers’ own thoughts and critical thinking is the ultimate goal of
reviews and why I would continually write them despite the large time
investment that is needed. And perhaps that I am also motivated to simply write
about my favorite groups but that is a secret to keep hidden. Jokes aside, this
digression hopefully covers the general history and background to this blog.
Far from anything fancy, but this is the path the blog went through and is
still going through.

Finally focusing on Sistar, despite
this being a song in the past, it truly is one of Sistar’s best songs—if not the best. Or so I biasedly claim. Does “I
Swear” fare well if excluding my love for Sistar? I swear it does, but we will
have to find out.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.71/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
8/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Rap: 5/10

6.     Bridge: 6/10

7.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Section Distribution: 2/10

Hyorin:
Introduction, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge,
Chorus (Total: 9)

Soyou:
Introduction, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus (Total: 7)

Dasom:
Verse (Total: 1)

Bora:
Rap (Total: 1)

Equal Value: 4.5 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 7/10

Oh I swear
Oh I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

I-I swear, intensely like a confession from a movie
The D.I.A on your fourth finger
makes the whole world jealous
I-I swear, pick that star and give it to me
Think of my small jokes as something cute
Baby I only wanna be with you
(I swear, I swear, I-I swear)

The thing that won’t change are my feelings growing
and that I won’t expect many things from you
Also to close my eyes with you after being in love
That’s it, that’s all

(Promise) I swear tonight, I swear
(Promise you baby)
Only you can comfort me
You’re perfect, meant to be baby
You’ll always be mine
I swear, you and me, I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

The night I become a woman,
what do I do? We’ll hold hands
You make me say woo
Stars are spilling across the night sky

So what you think about that (that)?
Baby, what are you thinking?
So what you think about that (that)?
I’m so curious about you
So that I can feel your love, so that I will smile
Only think of me, oh baby, only look at me

The thing that won’t change are my feelings growing
and that I won’t expect many things from you
Also to close my eyes with you after being in love
That’s it, that’s all

(Promise) I swear tonight, I swear
(Promise you baby)
Only you can comfort me
You’re perfect, meant to be baby
You’ll always be mine
I swear, you and me, I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

The one thing I want to hear, “I do”
Like a sweet dream, “I do”
I write and erase your name on the sand
As I wait for you, tell me “I love you baby”

(Promise) I swear tonight, I swear
(Promise you baby)
Only you can comfort me
You’re perfect, meant to be baby
You’ll always be mine
I swear, you and me, I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

Choreography Score: 7/10 (7.00/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 7/10

– Key Points: 7/10

Overall Score: 7/10
(6.50/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: First
of all, to the requester, huge apologies for a great delay. Admittedly I have
been slacking on reviews due to focusing on other tasks (such as subbing videos—or
admittedly just watching videos), and that I have been picking up bad habits
such as poor snacking decisions or even sleeping late despite needing to wake
up early for my girl. This will be changing around, however. Optimistically,
for a good habit I did pick up, I now give my adorable girl a goodnight kiss
and sweet dreams (based on many articles, it appears that dogs do dream) before
we both sleep.

Silly
news aside, let us focus purely on the review. To begin with the weakest link
in “I Swear”—and arguably every song by them—the distribution of sections is
rather pitiful. Specifically, the lack thereof is pitiful. Rating at a two, the
lowest out of every review so far, “I Swear” ‘s distribution is poor. Hyorin
carries a large bulk of the song, and similarly Soyou, but both Dasom and Bora
are deprived. Understandably, with how the format of “I Swear” runs (as we will
get to), many would feel inclined to give some exemptions here. After all, Hyorin
is an incredibly cherished, top-tier singer and likewise Soyou’s singing is
solid. Does it not seem excusable for them to take the main bulk of the song? To
the contrary, given that Sistar is a group, it should be expected that a
general equal distribution is at hand. Recycling the argument I always use,
imagine this: there is a group of nine men or women. One member sings out of
the eight. The remaining eight members solely dance. Is this not seemingly
problematic?

On
this note, I disagree to those who claim that Sistar’s section distribution is
negligible. Focusing on “I Swear” specifically, there are many moments for
where, at the very least, Dasom could have entered. Bora’s one section quantity
is, while not desired, understandable considering she is the rapper. However,
Dasom’s lack of sections is hard to dismiss considering she is a support
vocalist. She could have had much more sections to cover. Furthermore, both
Hyorin’s and Soyou’s section quantity are obscenely high; even with only four
members, the two are hitting very high counts—and this comes at a cost. From
that, both Bora and Dasom simply do not have the chance to have other sections
if all are taken up. Overall, with a large disparity in place in a song that
most likely could have accommodated for more variety, this production piece to “I
Swear”—the section distribution decision—is poor. It is unfortunate as this low
rating will weigh down the Song Score in total.

With
that category aside, the rest of “I Swear” in contrast is phenomenal. Essentially,
the sonic side to “I Swear” and even the visual side for that matter are
stellar. Focusing on the vocals, every member holds her own in the song, but
more importantly, in the entirety of “I Swear,” many positive traits appear.
For example, powerful yet controlled lines arrive during the choruses and
bridge, but simultaneously calm and lower pitched lines arrive during the
pre-choruses and rap. With multiple singing styles—beltings to high notes to
smooth, passiveness—and a rap included, “I Swear” covers vocal variety in near
full. Individually and cohesively, “I Swear” thrives in its vocals. And to also
include the instrumental, similar praises translate over: an instrumental that
is solid on its own, and yet incredibly supportive to the vocals and even
sections.

Regarding
the latter, arguably the sections in “I Swear” are its core strength and component.
Every section in the song is fantastic, and there are many unique and effective
styles employed. One predominant example would be the verses: the two verses
are different. Seldom is that seen in
songs. The first verse—a verse that is already successful due to the vocals and
its structure being straightforward and thus smoothly progresses the song—is
entirely different from the second verse that takes place: a verse where alluring
vocal belting takes the form of humming. Variety and enticing vocals are what
is gleaned—these being certainly desirable traits in any pop song. As for other
sections, the introduction and conclusions are also quite captivating. It has
been a while since a song where both score at an eight, but for what gives the
two their effectiveness and high scores, two factors are at play. First, both
the introduction and conclusion are timed are near perfection; rather than an
introduction that is too short, or a conclusion that is too long, both are at
the appropriate duration for “I Swear.” Secondly, within both sections, the sonic
components are seducing. The introduction hooks in listeners with Hyorin’s and
Soyou’s vocals, and the instrumental follows through with creating a transition
and curiosity for what is to come. As for the conclusion, although no vocals
are included, the instrumental allows a rather energetic final chorus to come
to a smooth, simple halt.

At
worst for the sections, the rap and pre-choruses are slightly lacking—more so
with the rap. The rap holds at average due to, overall, it being overly simplistic.
Clarifying, a straightforward rap is far from being inherently bad; in a
different context, a plain rap is very effective such as in a ballad. However, clearly,
“I Swear” is not a ballad and would benefit from a rap that equally suits the
upbeat, hasty style that is present. Thus, because of the lack of suiting the
song and that the rap itself would not compensate through, for example very
sharp pacing and flow, the rap holds at average. Similarly, the pre-choruses
are in a similar situation with being relatively abrupt in style. Certainly,
the slight drop in pacing creates the “buildup” effect so that the choruses are
even more exciting, but doing so is, besides following an incredibly cliché route,
ineffective to keeping a clean, cohesive flow to “I Swear.” Nonetheless, it is
a minimal point of critique and with Soyou’s and Hyorin’s slower, lower pitched
vocals being contributed, that portion helps alleviate the pre-choruses’ duller
structure.

Regarding
the lyrics, “I Swear” does earn a seven—something that may be unexpected given
the plot of the song. With the story behind the song, it is of the usual:
romantic, flirtatious love. What, then, makes it special? Details. Details are
what allow the lyrics to maintain its higher rating. First, consider a benefit
of the song containing two verses that are different. One answer is that it
provides the song more variety, but now another question to ask is variety in what? Sonically with the sections
themselves, but one must also remember another benefit: the lyrics. In other
words, the lyrics are more detailed as the verses are not repeated. Factor in
the rap and introduction and bridge, and that even repeated sections—the choruses
and pre-choruses—are already filled with their own ideas and lines, the lyrics
become enticing despite the somewhat usual plot. And last to add, especially
with the idea of two different verses, the choreography rates at above average.
Key points remain diverse, and more so with having less sections repeat. Also,
the key points themselves deserve spotlight for being focused not solely on
entire body movements, but also subtle ones such as with hands. Syncing,
without much need for explanation, also holds well considering many of the
movements link up with the song itself.

Overall,
Sistar’s “I Swear” scores at slightly above average for the song, but once
complementing the dance, the Overall Score is above average. Although I am, as
many, irked at how the sections distribution would reduce the score to a song
that is indeed quite charming, it is a point that once again needs to be considered.
Sistar’s weakest aspect to their songs is not so much on the sound of the
songs, but rather, is in how the songs are shared among members. Should the
section distribution be ignored, then it can be said with confidence that “I
Swear” is an impressive song.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, thank you so much for the request in the first place but for
also being very patient. As discussed above, work and simply being off-task
have contributed to this delay. But it is finally finished. I hope this review
is enjoyable, insightful, and of course that it provides moreover a discussion
versus that of a scientific claim. As for the other requester, I hope to finish
your request by tomorrow or at least by the start of the June. Likewise, I also
apologize for delaying it.

For
all other readers, thank you for reading this review whether in full or
skimmed. I sincerely appreciate all of the given time towards the blog. The
next review is another request, but it is one I am very excited for as it is on
a relatively popular duo, and that the artists have yet to be reviewed at all on
the blog. Plus, their musical style is very much different from the standard. Look
forward to the review, and after that request is done, expect a review on
Fiestar’s “Apple Pie.” I will stay as focused as possible. “I swear, I swear,
I-I swear.”

GOT7 – “Fly” Review

GOT7 – Fly (Music Video)

GOT7 – Fly (Dance Practice)

GOT7 – Fly

Reviewed
on April 9, 2016

image

Personal Message:
Edit: Originally planned to be posted on March 31. As said, I planned to review GOT7’s
“Fly,” and thankfully, I will indeed be doing so. Given that the prior
review
was admittedly quite excessive in length with discussing college, for
this review the song will be the pure focus. Before progressing on, however, I
will leave a pitiful excuse in case this review becomes butchered: for three
days or so, I have been running off solely five hours of sleep (I need at least
six and better yet seven). Now I could have chosen to nap instead of writing
this review, but coffee is here to assist and, more importantly, I truly do
want to finish March with a total of six reviews—a record high in contrast to
many other months. That said, with mentioning other months, for April I do
foresee it being a much more inactive month given that a project and multiple papers
are due soon, and furthermore, that I am currently prioritizing subtitling
Fiestar’s recent visit to “Weekly Idol.” It has been rather stressful, but all
should be fine. After all, I am able to write for a review, and as readers may know,
writing reviews is the most stress-relieving activity I can personally do.

Rambling aside, to focus on the wonderful
men of GOT7, since they are incredibly popular it is true that I am familiar
with them. However, the degree of such is limited: I only know the names (by
heart) of two members—Jackson and BamBam, specifically. Even then, I have
watched a few shows they have attended such as “A Song For You,” and jocularly
yet impressively, clips of BamBam rocking to female groups’ songs. On topic, where
my familiarity moreover lies with GOT7 is in their music; I have listened—or more
accurately, listen—to a few of their songs. In fact, “A” is my favorite release
by the group so far, though I also admire “If You Do” and even “Fly” as we will
soon unpack.

Randomly transitioning to a more
solemn tone (and yes this is hypocritical considering I did claim that no
digression would take place; nevertheless this is a shorter one and as I always
urge, being a fan of pop culture means that it is best for one to be keen on
the social dynamics involved), with GOT7 being reviewed, I am reminded of how I
planned perhaps nearly a year ago to review their much older song of “Just
Right.” As seen, I am quite slow with reviews, but besides that point I did
plan to discuss the large topic of beauty in that review since, relatively
obviously, “Just Right” does address that topic, as seen in even the title
itself. (And if I recall, GOT7 addressed the topic in a very positive manner.
Though I forget the lyrics and have not seen the music video, I do
distinctively remember it having a message of loving the way one physically
appears no matter how one precisely looks.)

Although I will save the topic of beauty
for another time, there was also another point I wanted to cover:
intersectionality. Explaining what this concept is and, more significantly, why
it even matters to learn of it and why I would bother taking time out of the
review to indeed discuss it, in relation to beauty (as we will see later),
understanding this concept is essential. But even without the topic of beauty,
having a grasp of this concept is quite beneficial when juggling social topics
that arise, be it from TV shows, daily life, and of course for what readers can
relate to, K-Pop—this latter being why I am introducing this concept. However,
without first seeing the application of intersectionality, we will first focus
on why one should even care of the social side of pop culture. Given the nature
of pop culture, it is inevitable to avoid social topics as, poorly and cornily phrased,
pop culture is a sweetly packaged box of social topics. (Consider, a few
examples: How is gender depicted in artists’ concepts or in dramas? Also
consider how sexual orientations are depicted and addressed in pop cultures—which
orientations are included, urged forward perhaps, and which ones are entirely
dismissed and even mocked?) Though true that anything and everything ultimately
relates to society and its cultures, pop cultures tend to be of a higher dose.
Focusing on K-Pop in specific, this is unveiled through dissecting its music
videos, lyrics, celebrity news, and so forth. This is after all, as its name
implies, popular culture—the dominant culture and view of a society. What then
matters is being able to critically interpret cultural views. Examples are
perhaps challenging the notion that males have to always be tough and apathetic,
or to support a non-Asian actress who appears in a K-Pop music video (and note,
this support is in the perspective of South Korea; since Koreans/Asians can be
rendered as the “dominant” race in the country, non-Asians are then the
minoritized).

That covered, in a simple summary,
intersectionality is the idea that social statuses (race, gender, class, etc.)
are not all individual in experience, but rather, are all interconnected—hence
the name of “intersectionality.” An example will now be used to better explain
this. Using the United States as background, let us say there are a White woman
and a Black man. Without accounting for intersectionality, one could actually
consider their social statuses to be equal; it could be said that they are both
experiencing the same social disadvantages. Now certainly both are indeed
socially disadvantaged in the U.S.: the White lady faces sexism while the Black
gentleman faces racism. That is true. What is not true, however, is the earlier
line of claiming that they are experiencing the exact same social disadvantages:
this is where intersectionality matters. Being a non-White or a female puts one
at a social disadvantage, but to claim the experience—the experience of either racism
or sexism—is the same as the other is indeed inaccurate. The White woman
possesses White privilege, and the Black man possesses male privilege—these lead
to absolutely different experiences, even if both are indeed disadvantaged in their
respective aspects. Perhaps for the example that should have been used at
first, consider a Black woman in the U.S.; her experience is neither that of a
Black man or a White woman as she possesses neither the two’s privilege in gender
or race. Thus, the concept intersectionality exists to directly address every
specific experience.

All that said, this is not to begin
a game of “who has it worst” or to debate if it is worse to face racism versus
sexism (and already here, we see this debate ignores a person who is a
minoritized race and a woman) or other comparisons. The opposite, in fact, is
what intersectionality brings. Instead, this is to remind us all that social
aspects—race, gender, class, sexual orientation, and more—never function solely
on an individual level. One cannot advocate for gender equality if he is only
advocating for White women (and men); one cannot advocate for sexual orientation
equality if she is only advocating for homosexual men. And so, readers may now
be left wondering one of the best questions to ever ask: So what?

As this digression is to set up an
airplane take-off for a future review that discusses beauty, that topic is
ultimately what readers may be interested in as, whether from GOT7’s “Just
Right” or from envying idols’ physical appearances or even life in general, physical
beauty is something that affects us all no matter our social statuses. However,
it is best to embark on the topic after covering intersectionality, hence why I
am elaborating on it here. (But of course, as said earlier, understanding this
concept is invaluable in general as well.) Beauty, as I will controversially
argue sometime in the future, is not so much of pure biological, but instead is
arguably based moreover in socialization than in nature. Certainly there may be
biological factors at play, but to claim beauty is solely such is to ignore the
social dynamics involved. Specifically, though, beauty heavily involves
intersectionality. For example, in the U.S., a wealthy White male will most
likely feel a lot more physically attractive than a poor Hispanic female. It is
more than just viewing race and its impact on beauty alone, or seeing how
gender impacts beauty alone; it is  about
seeing the interconnectedness—the intersectionality—of all social statuses in
relation to beauty. Beauty, then, is as I assert, not so much on pure biology
but rather a combination of biology and the social dynamics involved—the latter
being more significant. But, we will not dive into this for the sake of time. (And
once I do discuss beauty, I would also take time to address the extremely controversial
topic of plastic surgery. It appears that no matter the stance one has on
plastic surgery, one is sure to be criticized. But even so, I do want to take
the time to address that and to not worry so much on the “rightness” of plastic
surgery versus actually discussing it.)

Abruptly flying back to GOT7’s
review and comeback song of “Fly,” I have included both the music video and
dance practice. This should be standard protocol: the music video provides a
clear audio (and the men’s physical beauty, though they are non-physically
beautiful as well, both of which all humans should feel) while the dance
practice provides a clear view of the choreography. Now though I have no idea
whatsoever on whether “Fly” will fly smoothly or tumble down in a crash, with
GOT7 as pilots, I do remain optimistic.
Let us take a quick flight to find out—though there unfortunately are no
parachutes.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(6.2/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 6/10
(6.14/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 6/10

6.     Bridge: 4/10

7.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Line Distribution: 5/10

Mark:
Chorus 1, Verse 2, Chorus 2, Chorus 3 (Total: 4)

JB:
Introduction, Pre-Chorus 1, Bridge, Chorus 3 (Total: 3)

Jackson:
Verse 1, Pre-Chorus 1, Post-Chorus 1, Pre-Chorus 2, Conclusion (Total: 5)

Junior:
Chorus 1, Pre-Chorus 2, Chorus 2, Conclusion (Total: 4)

Youngjae:
Post-Chorus 1, Chorus 3, Conclusion (Total: 3)

BamBam:
Verse 1 (Total: 1)

Yugyeom:
Verse 2, Bridge (Total: 2)

Equal Value: 3.14 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 6/10

Eh, eh
Whoa whoa
I wanna fly, baby, fly, with you

Aye, are you happy? I’m happy yeah
Every morning when I open my eyes, it feels like a dream
It feels like the dazzling sun is shining for me
Again today without fail my day starts with you
Do you sleep well at night?
Sometimes I can’t believe my reality so I wake up
You know what I mean? Sometimes I was afraid
It was such a crazy journey but now I’m back in your arms

You’re my comfort
Everyday I’m praying
You’re my comfort, up in the sky
I want to fly above
Let me hear you say

We’re gonna fly, fly
I want to hold you and fly
Will you go with me, girl?
We’re gonna fly, fly
Our dream is right here
It’s burning in my heart, girl

Fly, fly
Our time is like a rain shower
and the sun crossing over
Fly fly
When we come out of the tunnel,
I’ll brightly shine on you

Why are you so afraid of being loved?
I’m right here next to you so what’s there
to be afraid of?
Our love is ordinary,
but you can’t measure its value
You hear me?
It feels like we’re flying
but falling at the same time
But I wanna go higher
I want to fly straight up
You got to get there to see the end
So don’t let go and hold on tight
I’ll heat up your heart so that it’s hot
I’ll set everything on fire for you
Even among the countless stars,
you’re in my arms

You’re my comfort
Everyday I’m praying
You’re my comfort, up in the sky
I wanna fly above
Let me hear you say

We’re gonna fly, fly
I want to hold you and fly
Will you go with me, girl?
We’re gonna fly, fly
Our dream is right here
It’s burning in my heart, girl

Oh oh oh oh oh I just wanna be,
I just wanna be with you
I just wanna be with you
Oh oh oh oh oh I just wanna be,
I just wanna be with you
I just wanna be with you

We’re gonna fly, fly
I want to hold you and fly
Will you go with me, girl?
We’re gonna fly, fly
Our dream is right here
It’s burning in my heart, girl

Fly, fly
Our time is like a rain shower
and the sun crossing over
Fly fly
When we come out of the tunnel,
I’ll brightly shine on you

Choreography Score: 7/10 (7/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 7/10

– Key Points: 7/10

Overall Score: 7/10
(6.5/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
Ignoring how coffee truly is a “cheat” as I was able to write relentlessly—and truthfully,
still am able to write relentlessly—I will be returning to the prior sentence:
there is no need for a parachute. For the most part. While “Fly” does glean a
six, and admittedly, scored lower than anticipated, it would be a mistake to
instantly dismiss it. What is faulty of the song is not so much the sound of it
but instead, the more subtle features such as its lyrics and line distribution.
Nevertheless, though those are not related to song, they are certainly still
important categories for a song and cannot be ignored. “Fly,” in that case, has
to be acknowledged for what it is: a sonically pleasing song that lacks in its
line distribution and somewhat in lyrics and even sections.

Diving
into the weaker aspects of the song, unfortunately the line distribution in “Fly”
does reside as average. There is simply too much disparity among the sections:
some members possess very few, some possess the perfect amount, some are a bit
over, and some are excessively over. Even if a disparity had to be in place, it
would be far better to have some equality within that disparity. In other
words, though it may sound quite contradicting, it would be far better for four
members to be equally excessive (five sections each for example) and for three
members to be equally lacking (one section each for example) versus, with the current
situation, nearly every member indeed possessing a significantly different
amount of sections. Now, it is not an utterly horrifying distribution given
that the durations partially compensate and that there are some equal
distributions, but overall neither of those can fully redeem the rather large
inequality at play. As a result, a five arrives and that definitely contributes
to weighing “Fly” down from a seven.

Regarding
the lyrics, though this category is not as detrimental as the prior one, it is
still somewhat lacking. This may come as a surprise, however; the lyrics in “Fly”
appear to be quite complex, thorough, detailed, and so forth. Why does it still
reach solely a six? First, while understandably this song will focus on the
action of flying—hence the title—this does cripple the lyrics’ details. Rather
than claiming that the song expands and is diverse in details, in reality that
is not the case. More troubling, the opposite occurs: excessive, repetitive
focus on just flying causes the details to become monotonous and shrinks down
the song’s complexity. Take these lines for analysis: “You’re my comfort, up in
the sky / I want to fly above”; “We’re gonna fly, fly / I want to hold you and
fly”; and finally “It feels like we’re flying / but falling at the same time.” Again,
absolutely there can be symbolic meaning behind the act of flying and that the
verses are rather different, but with so much emphasis on pure flying and not
developing the meaning of flying, that is what hinders the lyrics from
flourishing. Nonetheless, the lyrics are not in any form bad per se—after all,
it still is slightly above average. The lyrics just lack the extra complexity
and development to push it beyond its current score.

After
running through “Fly” ‘s weaker points, the song does feel rather negative.
However, as mentioned, the song’s audio remains sharp. In fact, if focusing purely
on the audio itself, “Fly” is rather impressive. The vocals, for example, are
excellently delivered in this song and furthermore, provide a perfect example
of superb vocals without heavy emphasis on intensity. As a few readers may
know, oftentimes the trend for high scoring vocals on this blog appears to be
directed at artists who are pushing their vocals’ intensity. A simple example
is MAMAMOO: powerful vocals; incredibly lengthy note holds; and constant vocal
belting. While true that these qualities tend to be appealing, as noted before,
it is delivery that becomes relevant and not so much on style. In GOT7’s case
with “Fly,” variety is how they showcase their vocals, and indeed it is their
biggest asset. From verses that are moreover raps and not solely singing to choruses
that combine singing and rapping, the vocals become flexible with appeal. There
is not just one form of singing at play; there is, if not just different
singing styles as seen in the final chorus and bridge, also rapping. And in
addition to that all, the rapping and singing on individual levels are at a respectable
level with flow, fluctuation, and even intensity to some degree. Thus, in the
end, GOT7 delivers potent vocals even without the need to overly exert vocal
power since it is variety at work. This format of singing and rapping and how
each section supports one another is what makes the vocals and even sections—if
ignoring how the bridge harshly conflicts with the song’s overall flow—in “Fly”
seducing. Similarly, the instrumental follows suit with providing cohesiveness
to the song.

In
the end, GOT7’s recent comeback may score solely a six for its Song Score, but
on the positive side once coupled with the Choreography Score, the song in its
entirety comes around at above average. (Also to clarify, I did not address the
choreography as, truthfully, I do not have much to say for it besides usual,
robotic praises. The syncing is sharp and the key points are fun, varied, and
perfectly fit the flying idea involved with the song, but that is all I have to
say. Better to not “fluff” the review and to instead focus on aspects that
bring discussions.) Even then, however, a six or not for its Song Score, “Fly”
is quite impressive with its vocals, sections (if ignoring the bridge), and its
instrumental. Overall, it is a very cohesive and organized, pleasantly sounding
song. A poorer line distribution and its limited lyrics are the main downsides.

_______________________________________________________

As always, thank you so much for reading.
No matter the amount read, I appreciate any time given to the blog. And for an
utterly random point, the schedule posting by Tumblr indeed works, so this
means I can more easily keep the blog on a consistent schedule. That said,
while I finished this review on April 1, I will be delaying this post until a
few more days. (After all, there is already a special review on April 1.) Sadly,
that does mean I fail to reach six months in March, but I will push for that
once again in the month of April. And, this review will serve as a head start
at least.

In terms of the next review, for
April I desire to focus purely on groups that have yet to be reviewed at all on
the blog. That does mean perhaps entirely abandoning Rainbow and MAMAMOO’s
album reviews, but time will tell. I do, however, feel obligated to review “1cm”
by MAMAMOO and may do so as, though a side request, it is still nevertheless a
request. Reviewing it would be quite fun (due to being controversial, a leak on
my stance on the song) and thus I may end up doing so. (And to the requester, I
do apologize.) There are many artists to cover for April and even a show to
review. Look forward for much content to come. Specifically, the next review
will most likely be Hong Jinyoung’s “Thumb Up” or a show review on “Girl’s
Wiki.” And to ever reader, please remember: “You’re my comfort, up in the sky.”
Stay tuned for some upcoming review.

Rainbow – “Whoo” Review

Rainbow – Whoo (Dance Practice)

Rainbow – Whoo

Reviewed
on February 21, 2016

Personal Message:
As readers may know from my prior
post, reviews have been slightly delayed due to having to re-upload many videos
on my YouTube subtitling channel. Miraculously, thanks to my university’s
internet being extremely impressive (as expected from many educational-related
internet), the uploading process did not take that long. Nevertheless, with
having to add in descriptions, titles, needing to correct subtitles (and I have
not even finished with this), and of course usual university work, much time
was lost for reviews. At the very least, one review could have been posted within
the time frame it took to amend the videos. (I would even claim that two reviews
would have been possible if no social digression occurred. For this review,
there will be none.). Negativity aside, though Stellar’s “Sting” is amidst
review, for the purpose of compensating for a lack of reviews and covering the
latest comebacks, Rainbow’s “Whoo” became of interest. After all, who could
ignore such a cheerful song title?

Regarding the group, admittedly I am
slightly unfamiliar with the ladies: I only know a few of their songs and do
not know the members’ names by heart. Nevertheless, I very much adore a song by
their subunit group: “Cha Cha” by Rainbow Blaxx. In fact, I planned to review
it many months ago. But that said, “I planned” is false; it would be far more
accurate to say “I plan” as I will be returning to the song when I do a “subunit
review month” special. (Four songs are already in mind.) On topic, Rainbow
being unknown to me is nothing unusual—as blunt as that may sound. The group is
indeed quite unpopular, hence why I have minimal knowledge. Why that is the
case I have not investigated enough. It could be due to the music, dance,
concepts, label company (DSP Media), and other factors. Regardless, with the
group having their comeback after a while, “Whoo” provides a chance to finally
gain some recognition, and indeed recognition matters: Rainbow’s popularity can
have dramatic influence on the group’s future.

So, is Rainbow’s comeback, “Whoo,” a
song worth going “whoo” for? Although statistically that is the case, there are
still some significant flaws to the song. (Though Rainbow as a group is
definitely worth cheering on; the group does deserve to be supported, whether
or not “Whoo” in specific renders well.)

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(5.8/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 5/10


Sections: 5/10
(5.25/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 4/10

6.     Rap: 7/10

7.     Bridge: 6/10

8.     Conclusion: 6/10


Line Distribution: 8/10

Jaekyung:
Chorus 1, Chorus 2, Bridge (Total: 3)

Woori:
Introduction, Post-Chorus 1, Rap, Conclusion (Total: 4)

Seunga:
Verse 1, Bridge, Chorus 3 (Total: 3)

Noeul:
Pre-Chorus 1, Pre-Chorus 2, Bridge (Total: 3)

Yoonhye:
Pre-Chorus 1, Pre-Chorus 2 (Total: 2)

Jisook:
Verse 1, Verse 2, Bridge (Total: 3)

Hyunyoung:
Chorus 1, Verse 2, Chorus 2, Bridge, Chorus 3 (Total: 5)

Equal Value: 3.29 sections per member.  


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 6/10

Whoo
Clap clap clap clap
Whoo
Clap clap clap clap
Rainbow, ah

When you say you can’t live without me,
I might be shaken
Is that for real?
Even if I ask thousands of times,
I don’t know,
I can’t sleep every night
(It’s all about you)
Whoo
Ever since you said those words,
my heart has stopped

What can I do?
My heart was struggling and exhausted
But you’re holding onto it my baby
If you love me, if you’re thinking of me,
you shouldn’t do this

Whoo
Clap clap clap clap
Whoo
Clap clap clap clap
Rainbow, ah

The moment I first saw you,
I froze right there
Love me do, baby chu
I just wanna be with you
I think I like you too
Maybe my heart has gone crazy
It’s only looking for you

Even when you make it obvious
that you like me, I can’t answer you
When you said “let’s meet again” the day after tomorrow,
those words kept circling around me (lies)
I can’t fall asleep every night
(It’s all about you)
Whoo
Ever since you said those words
My heart has stopped

What can I do
My heart was struggling and exhausted
But you’re holding onto it my baby
If you love me, if you’re thinking of me

On a rainy day
(You said you came in front of my house)
my heart pounded
You said that you loved me
What do I do?
I can’t believe it
I’ve waited for those words for so long
I can’t believe it
What’s wrong with me? I’m so nervous
I couldn’t even talk, whoo

What can I do?
Crazy crazy
I’m in love with you too, baby
If you love me, if you’re thinking of me
I’m gonna start too

Whoo
Clap clap clap clap
Whoo
Clap clap clap clap
Rainbow, ah

Choreography Score: 8/10 (7.5/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 7/10

– Key Points: 8/10

Overall Score: 7/10
(7/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
Yes, the choreography rates incredibly well; yes, the line distribution is
phenomenal; yes, the vocals are not poor; and ultimately, yes, the song does
score decently—individually and overall. Nonetheless, it is doubtful to
consider “Whoo” a “slightly above average song” (a six). The song should—despite
what my unbiased, systematic rating claims—score at “average” (a five) instead.

In
an overarching view, “Whoo” struggles to bring distinctive qualities. There are
no stunning vocals, seducing instrumental or exceptionally smooth sections. A
vast majority of the song is rather plain, and indeed, this is its drawback. With
the vocals for example, although the members maintain an upbeat and catchy tune
and even hit impressive notes toward the end, the flow is extremely stagnant. From
the verse to the conclusion, the vocals seldom deviate; there are no major
shifts in singing paces, melodies, and styles. Of course, there is Woori’s rap
that differs (as to cover later), but ignoring this aspect, the vocals do
become quite dull. Even though the vocal skills exist and are showcased, the
vocals’ flow is too mundane. Perhaps, though, the sections are to blame.

On
that note, the sections are the weakest link in “Whoo.” The verse, pre-chorus,
chorus, and post-chorus all follow a rigid, linear format. Now to clarify,
linearity is not inherently flawed; the problem here is not that the sections
are linear, but rather, how the sections do execute the linear format. After
all, for a simple example, ballads tend to follow a straightforward style.
Obviously however, ballads are not automatically impaired because of that format.
In some cases, said linearity augments a ballad (or any song). What matters,
then, is the execution. To focus back on “Whoo,” the post-chorus is a clear
example of a poorer trial. The section consists of using singular words, and
the melody, structure, and pacing are all equally simple. Unfortunately, with
this style being commonly used in various pop songs’ post-choruses, “Whoo”
greatly loses appeal. If there were some distinctive point to the
post-choruses, it would at the very least become tolerable if not enticing.
Using a contrasting example, AOA’s “Like a Cat” is still personally the song
with the best execution on a traditional post-chorus. In “Like a Cat,” the
post-choruses recycle a simple melody, repeat a singular sound (“la”), and yet
in spite of it all, with the addition of occasional contrasting vocal lines and
its excellent placement in the song, it thrives. The same cannot be said for “Whoo”
‘s post-chorus; there is no distinctive feature that repels away mundaneness.
Likewise, other sections replicate the same issue: stale and overly simple to
the point of sounding like “an average pop song”—a comparison that is never
desirable in this genre.

In
the end though, “Whoo” is not in despair. If it truly was, then the ratings
would have most likely reflected such. For aspects where “Whoo” does succeed, the
line distribution—even if oftentimes deemed negligible—is solid. Members nearly
all have equal lines. If Hyunyoung transferred one section to Yoonhye, an even
higher score would have been earned. Additionally, the choreography remains
alluring. Despite a debatably average song, the members are able to fabulously
translate “Whoo” into beautiful movements. Key points remain, unlike the
sections themselves, diverse; there are minimal if at all any repeats of key
points. At most, the post-choruses are recycled for the purpose of a signature
key point, but even then, all of the dance moves are appealing and unique.
Adding on, the syncing remains sharp. From moving to quick and minor beats to slowly
shifting with vocal beltings, the choreography accurately reflects the song’s
musical sounds. Lastly, for a section that flourishes, Woori’s rap does just
that. Unlike every other section being rather linear, the rap is dynamic: the
pacing changes throughout the rap; the rapping vocals switch from a standard
sound to an edited sound; emphasis exists all over. Overall, the mechanics and
structure involved in the rap are impressive.

All
in all, accounting for the choreography and line distribution, a six for the
Song Score and a seven for its Overall Score do seem reasonable. Those two
aspects to “Whoo” are definitely stunning and do provide the song its
strengths. But even then, I still contest that, in terms of the audio itself, “Whoo”
should hold at a five. If the line distribution was not sponging the weaker categories,
a five would most likely be the case. In the end, “Whoo” is not a “bad” song per
se, but it would be a stretch to claim it is a “good” song. Nevertheless, no
matter what this review claims, the ladies of Rainbow deserve full support, and
I will confidently say that I look forward to reviewing their next song in the
future.

_______________________________________________________

As
always, thank you for reading this review. In this review I did attempt a new
strategy: I did not attempt to review this song second-by-second. For example,
I did not dive into the lyrics or even the instrumental. Instead, I opted to
focus on aspects that would bring the most prominent, interesting discussion.
Feedback is always desired on whether this is a more effective route or not.

For
the next review, Stellar’s “Sting” is in the middle of review. To confess, I am
excited for it not purely because of the song itself (though I do have, to
leak, a rather controversial musical view to “Sting”; I do not reside with many
that are praising the song quality), but rather because of the chance to apply
sociology into it. Slut-shaming will be slightly discussed, and for what will
be the main topic, I will discuss “double standards” and the topic of “deciding
appropriateness” (since I lack a more proper label). Other reviews will follow
suit, and each also have interesting social topics to discuss, and of course,
interesting perspectives to the songs themselves.

Look
forward to “Sting” as the upcoming review. “Maybe my heart has gone crazy; it’s
only looking for you” and for February to end with, hopefully, two more
reviews.