Meng Jia – “Drip” Review

(Music Video) / (Music Video—Dance Version)

Meng Jia – Drip

Reviewed
on December 19, 2016

Unlike
the majority of listeners who claim the choruses are the “catchy” and
iconic—even best—part to the song, I disagree greatly. I will argue the song’s
choruses limit the song in all
aspects—vocals, instrumental, sections, and lyrics.

Personal Message:
Before starting, I will link a prior
post that does relate to this song: a post about the complexity of “double-standards”
and even “equity.”

Especially for readers who wish to go beyond just the musical component to
K-Pop/pop culture or are interested in sociology or simply wonder what
“double-standards” is truly about, I strongly encourage reading the rather lengthy
post.

Also, for one more point to make, I
do want to apologize to readers for not posting any reviews as of December—or
at least, if ignoring this review. While I have been posting other content,
such as the linked post above or answering questions (and I am very much
thankful to be hearing from readers), I actually have not been posting reviews.
The reason for this is nothing drastic at all: I am finishing up this semester
of university and have been quite busy due to that. After all, with so many
papers due and having to study for tests, it can become slightly overwhelming. On
the positive side, I will soon be finished (as of this sentence) and will have
a month to finish up December strongly, and to even have a head-start for January’s
reviews. Furthermore, I might actually be willing to share a pop culture
studies/literary studies paper I wrote in an English class about K-Pop: me
applying a queer studies lens onto GFriend’s music video of “Navillera.” I
imagine many readers are confused on what “queer studies” is and why or even
how I managed to write an academic paper about K-Pop, but to this, I will end
the discussion here or else Jia’s “Drip” would never be reviewed. (However, if
a reader is highly curious on anything said here—what queer studies is or how
one can write an academic paper about pop culture—do feel free to send in a
question. The link to do so is in the blog’s description. I will clarify what
was said through a Q/A.)

Finally on topic with this review, I
have planned to review “Drip” during the first week of December. As we can
tell, that plan did not work out though the review still is happening. What
should be noted about this song, however, is that it is not K-Pop at all: it is
C-Pop—otherwise known as Chinese Pop and if we dare to be more accurate, we can
even refer to this as “Mando-Pop” as it is in Mandarin specifically. That said,
this blog still predominantly focuses on K-Pop. Consider this C-Pop song a
bonus, and of course, as some readers may know, Meng Jia is from Miss A: a
female K-Pop group. She left the group once her contract expired, and from my
understanding, Miss A is still active with the three remaining ladies. Point is
this: although “Drip” is C-Pop, we can at least find that it relates to K-Pop
in the sense of Meng Jia being the singer to the song.

Now all that said, I predict that
one critical reader may be wondering: “But isn’t it unfair to review C-Pop
when, as you have said, you only review K-Pop so as to not be musically biased
due to cultural differences?” While I probably poorly phrased that, my answer
is this: Yes, I argue it is unfair for a reviewer to review songs that she is
not culturally accustomed to but, in
this case, he is accustomed to it. Indeed, I am actually accustomed to listening
to C-Pop because I do in fact listen to it. This may come as a surprise to a
few readers as it might be believed that I only listen to K-Pop. While I do not
deny that Korean songs—pop, ballad, hip-hop—tend to be what I listen to most, I
do listen to C-Pop—both traditional and contemporary, and both Canto-Pop and
Mando-Pop. It is far much less than K-Pop, but it is enough for me to
confidently review it without bias—in fact, as I have shared perhaps a year
ago, I grew up listening to older Chinese Pop (with some older American Pop as
well).

Since we are on the verge of a
tangent, however, let us now truly discuss “Drip.” This song marks Jia’s solo
debut, and because of such, I would argue it is important to gauge how the song
currently stands. In fact, let me emphasize a point: how the song currently stands. While Jia’s vocals will definitely be a
factor, I am more concerned on how her new label company has composed and
produced “Drip”—and already I will say, this song is great until it drips its
appeal away at the choruses. Unlike the majority of listeners who claim the
choruses are the “catchy” and iconic—even best—part to the song, I disagree
greatly. I will argue the song’s choruses limit the song in all aspects—vocals, instrumental,
sections, and lyrics.

_______________________________________________________

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:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 2/10

5.     Bridge: 2/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 2/10


Instrumental: 4/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Introduction]

Have a taste of it secretly
I’m just trying to help
Help you put aside your rationality
Can’t act like a silent harbor
You can be the real you, here

You, stay on the sofa obediently
Kneel down
I need your adoration
You have to bear in mind,
I’m a bit bad
Just want you tonight
I want you tonight

I make it drip, boy
I make it drip, boy
I make it drip, boy
Drip, drip, drip, drip
I make it drip, boy
Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip
I make it drip, boy

Nobody is responsible for me
I don’t want to gain passively
Now that you are on this express train,
I wanna do it like this way
You don’t believe your own choice
The indulgent song like this
I bet you would come, come, come

You, stay on the sofa obediently
Kneel down
I need your adoration
You have to bear in mind,
I’m a bit bad
Just want you tonight
I want you tonight

I make it drip, boy
I make it drip, boy
I make it drip, boy
Drip, drip, drip, drip
I make it drip, boy
Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip
I make it drip, boy

I make the boys sweat, sweat
I make the boys sweat, sweat
I make the boys sweat, sweat
I make the boys sweat, sweat
Are you ready?

I make it drip, boy
I make it drip, boy
I make it drip, boy
Drip, drip, drip, drip
I make it drip, boy
Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip
I make it drip, boy

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: For
a side note, I am finally on break. Given how behind the blog is, I may
actually opt to write a review per day if I somehow manage to be concise yet
meaningful with all the reviews—in fact, more extremely, I may opt to write two
reviews in one day.

On
topic, before getting into why the choruses are deeply problematic to “Drip,”
let us first begin with the strengths to the song. An obvious one is Jia’s
vocals—as we can tell from the given six. What should be noted, however, is
that the vocals are not impressive due to its tune or variety—factors that I
oftentimes gauge when it comes to vocals. For example with tune, we have to
notice that the vocals are not strenuous in any regard: there are no beltings,
note holds, extreme low or high notes, and so on. The tune, then, remains
simplistic. Furthermore, the vocals’ sounds do not differ much from each
section minus shifts in intensity. Even then, intensity shifts do not suffice
in terms of making vocals sound more diverse: in the end, the vocals in every
section still arguably sound the same.

Despite
all those points, why I am still giving a six is due to other details—details
that are oftentimes overlooked with vocals: the rhythm and structural syncing. Indeed,
Jia’s singing in “Drip” is quite different from most songs but I argue it is an
effective change. Regarding the vocals’ rhythm, the singing does not simply
flow in a horizontal fashion—in other words, the vocals are not merely
progressing based on following a tune in accordance to time. Instead, while
there is obviously a tune followed, what should be emphasized most is that the vocals
instead follow an “up and down” pattern via its pacing—a pattern that reflects
the instrumental. Because of this, especially as we can hear in the verses, the
vocals and instrumental become greatly synced to one another and hence my
earlier label of “structural syncing.” While at times instances of too
identical syncing could lead to staleness, in “Drip” the opposite occurs: it
provides the vocals an appealing flow that can be followed, and likewise, the
instrumental now appears to carry on a more dynamic flow versus just plain
beats.

On
that note, despite the instrumental’s lower score—and for that matter, the
sections and lyrics—this is not to say all these categories are entirely slightly below average. In many
ways, all of the categories are better described as: “good but, once the chorus
arrives, somewhat poor.” To make it more clear, the lower ratings are due to me
“averaging out” those strong points and weak points.

Let
us focus on the lyrics for example. Ignoring the “meaning” of the song—as this is
entirely subjective and up to interpretation (though if there are readers who
might be “disturbed” about the lyrics potentially connoting a woman coercing a
man in whatever manner, I do suggest reading the linked Critical Discussion I
posted on top)—we can focus on the objective aspects of how detailed and unique
the lyrics are. The verses differ from one another—this being a huge benefit—and
on top of that, the pre-choruses, even if they repeat each other, still add additional
depth to the lyrics’ overall plot. Where the lyrics fall short is due to the
choruses and bridge: meaningless, repetitive phrases that ultimately serve as “filler.”

As
for the instrumental, a similar idea applies akin to the lyrics. The bass and
beats are excellently executed—until the choruses’ “beat drop” occurs. Prior to
the choruses, the instrumental seamlessly syncs with the vocals as discussed,
and moreover, the instrumental’s role of shifting the song’s intensity is done
in a very efficient manner. Unlike many pop songs where those intensity shifts
are overly blatant or even roughly chunked up, “Drip” is able to switch from a
calmer verse to a hyping pre-chorus very naturally, and on top of that, when
the choruses arrive, the instrumental still marks these sections as the
climactic part even if the sonic component suffers.

That
said, for where the instrumental falters during the choruses, I will argue it is
due to the sounds themselves—even if these sounds are very unique and creative.
For example, we should note that the beats and bass function—during the choruses—akin
to water: in other words, from a theoretical side, the instrumental here matches the theme of “dripping” (and I
will explain how). In terms of artistic creativity, I do believe the composers
deserve much credit for this. I greatly applaud it. However, on the more
practical side, it is the execution
that fails. With the bass, it literally comes off in waves—each wave varying in
strength and length. As for the whistle-sounding beats, they come off in an
echoing and dripping manner. As we can tell, this is very creative. But, for
how this translates in a musical context versus say artistic representation, it
is quite jarring. The bass and dripping beats do not sync with each other in
terms of sonic or pacing, and later with added vocals of “drip” being repeated,
there then appears to be three main factors conflicting one another. All in
all, it all leads to a confusing, rough and disorientating experience. Again, I
praise the very intelligent composition of emulating water and dripping and by
no means wish to overlook such, but in a musical context, I strongly argue it
is not effective.

Overall,
“Drip” definitely has potential to be a rather solid song. But, ultimately, it
is the choruses that prove to be the song’s downfall as every category is
indirect or directly affected by it—and affected in a negative manner.
Certainly the choruses are very charming in their effects of creating a
visual-audio experience of water and dripping through music, but if we focus on
musical appeal, I argue the choruses
greatly fail to bring any appeal and because of such, the rest of the
categories all suffer. This may perhaps be the song of example for where the
theoretical fails to match up with the practical: everything looked good when thinking of the song’s composition,
but once the song was actually played, the choruses were not accounted for its
messiness. Nevertheless, if listeners/readers can manage through the choruses, “Drip”
still finds its footing as an average song—even if it is barely holding onto
said “average.”

_______________________________________________________

I
greatly apologize to readers for essentially a hiatus. Given that it has been
two weeks of no reviews, I will definitely begin stacking up reviews and I
indeed have an enormous list. Look forward to many reviews to come now that I
am on break, and for December to hopefully end with around six reviews or even
more. Thank you to all for reading. “I need your adoration,” after all. (Not
really, though; if anything, I need readers’ forgiveness for mediocre writing.)
Look forward to BULLDOK’s “Why Not” as the next review.

MAMAMOO  – “Decalcomanie” Review

(Music
Video – Dance Version)

MAMAMOO – Décalcomanie

Reviewed
on November 8, 2016

image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 8/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Chorus: 9/10

4.     Rap: 8/10

5.     Bridge: 7/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 9/10


Instrumental: 8/10


Lyrics: 5/10

[Instrumental]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

NCT 127 – “Fire Truck” Review

NCT
127 – Fire Truck (Dance Version)

NCT 127 – Fire Truck

Reviewed
on July 15, 2016

Personal Message:
Since I am behind schedule for July,
I will attempt my best to compensate through covering the many comebacks that
are here. Personally, I have yet to see this many comebacks in such a short
time frame, but this summer indeed is filled with many artists releasing new
songs. A bonus exists as well: many of these comebacks are more accurately
labeled as debuts rather than
comebacks as the latter implies an artist returning when, quite clearly, that
is not the case. Either way, there are both comebacks and debuts. I will do my
best to cover as many as possible (and including a recent request). Now before
hopping into NCT 127’s review, to address the prior one, I am surprised: the last review is
being perceived quite well. But of course, many readers are respectful and read
reviews not as reassurance that their favorite group/artist is holding well,
but rather as a way to join into (hopefully) thoughtful discussions. As such, I
cannot be too shocked. On the other hand, now, when it comes to NCT 127 I will
say I am completely shocked—or at least, confused. NCT 127 is a group, but if
being specific the men are actually in a sub-unit. However, for where this
becomes complex, the “main” group, NCT, is not so much a group as much as a
headquarter. Let us spend some time clarifying this.

So, NCT is technically a group that
contains all of the members—and indeed, there are many members. I am referring to more than even SEVENTEEN’s group
size, for example. But even then, NCT is not meant to perform as much as to
provide an overarching roster for the members. From there, then, are sub-units
made and of which are the ones who actually perform. For example, there is NCT U
from what I heard. In our case, we will be focusing on NCT 127, but again this
is merely to explain what is simply going on with NCT and people referring to
them as sub-units and so forth. The purpose behind this is to encourage a
dynamic, open system which then translates to very unique songs—such as “Fire
Truck,” as we will cover. Essentially, there are no binding contracts and
members are free to leave and stay as they please. Furthermore, NCT is not
solely based in South Korea but additionally in other countries, such as Japan
and China. Overall, with a diverse group of members (both socially and
musically) and freedom to move around, this allows NCT members to take major
risks with their songs. And as covered in the linked review of Oh My Girl’s
“Windy Day,” taking risks is far from bad at all; taking risks is a way to
improve and to deliver utterly new perspectives. As always, though, if readers
have a better understanding of NCT’s system, I would be grateful for any
clarifications and additions.

Finally focusing on the review
itself, coincidentally the mentioned previous review suits this current one
quite well. In fact, too well. Should my predictions be correct, this review
will most likely be controversial, and specifically in the area of music and
not that of social topic discussions. However, homogenous to Oh My Girl’s
“Windy Day,” many of the same discussion points discussed there applies here.
Thus, I do recommend that fans of NCT 127 read the Personal Message in the past
review as to get an idea. In summary: a poorer score does not mean a
group/artist lacks in skill and competence. Far from it. What is most likely
the case, and specifically here is
the case, is a group taking significant risks to challenge the general trends
of songs. With “Fire Truck,” I very much admire the group and producer(s) for
attempting to deviate away from usual ideas of K-Pop songs. Even if the song greatly
falters due to lacking in the delivery of a creative idea, the men of NCT 127
definitely deserve much respect and encouragement. After all, to use cliché
sayings, it takes many tries before baking the perfect cake. You might now
claim I made that up, so in that case, I will also say: it takes many tries
before a man or woman finally perfectly applies eyeliner. Point is, songs that
are very unique and different—though respect is deserved for the
risk-taking—will need many trials before a more polished one arrives.

And so, for the takeaway idea,
rather than becoming defensive and denying all of the following critiques, I
encourage the opposite: having an open, critical mind that will join the
discussion. Disagreeing is vastly different from defensiveness—the former is
what I am looking for. And of course, agreeing can occur, but even so retaining
a critical mindset of asking why is
of utmost importance. With all of this covered, let us take a look as to why
“Fire Truck” is admittedly one of the weaker—if not, bluntly said, one of the
worst—songs I have heard. Absolutely NCT 127 has potential and skills on their
own, but when it comes to showcasing said abilities, “Fire Truck” does not
deliver justice. An ambulance will be necessary.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 4/10
(3.80/10 raw score) – “Slightly below average”


Vocals: 2/10


Sections: 3/10
(2.83/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
2/10

2.     Rap: 4/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 2/10

4.     Chorus: 2/10

5.     Bridge: 4/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 3/10


Instrumental: 2/10


Section Distribution: 9/10

Taeil:
Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Bridge (Total: 3)

Taeyong:
Rap, Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus (Total: 3)

Yuta:
Pre-Chorus, Rap, Pre-Chorus (Total: 3)

Jaehyun:
Rap, Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus (Total: 3)

Winwin:
Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus (Total: 2)

Mark:
Pre-Chorus, Rap, Pre-Chorus (Total: 3)

Haechan:
Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Bridge (Total: 3)

All: Introduction, Chorus, Chorus,
Conclusion (Chorus)

Equal Value: 2.85 sections per member.


Lyrics: 3/10

Get it lifted
Fire truck

Where are you looking at, Mr. Fireman on the floor?
Let’s make a fire, I’ll cool down this heat
This place is getting hotter and hotter
Here is full of dissatisfaction
My feeling from that siren is, um
Don’t be shy (like this)
Lukewarm atmosphere, no thanks
My burning shaking backseat
After burning we get it all clear

Ey ye ye ye ye
Hands up if you feeling the vibe now
Ey ye ye ye ye
One step two steps
Tonight, you and I, and everyone will fall in here
A running fire truck at anytime
You can call me (anytime)
Move your body, pick it up
Shake just as you feel
Shout out loud at the moment of the peak
Fire truck

Woot
Woot woot woot

Yeah
Be anywhere, everywhere
You can just call me
Look at, look at how
It’s like a small playing with fire
It shows up when it is “bling”
Just blink for me
I’ll cool your anger down
Just hold up
You can get hurt if you keep pushing, get higher
The atmosphere is so hot like a rocket
Just ten seconds left till it explodes

Ey ye ye ye ye
Hands up if you feeling the vibe now
Ey ye ye ye ye
One step two steps
This thrilling music is burning your heart
Shout out “fire truck”
It can go anywhere
Turn it up to the maximum volume
Shake to the rhythm
Shout out loud at the moment of the peak
Fire truck

Ey ye ye ye
Ey ye ye ye
Fire truck
Fire truck

Don’t stop till the sun rises
Turn it up to the maximum volume
(Turn it up to the maximum volume)
All right
Put everything on this music
Dance my party people

Fire truck
Fire truck
Fire truck
Fire truck
Fire truck
Fire truck

Choreography Score: 6/10 (5.50/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 5/10

– Key Points: 6/10

Overall Score: 5/10
(5.00/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: “Slightly
below average” is a very generous outcome given that one of the categories
managed to cloak the major shortcomings of every other category. That said, to
be optimistic with praising the stronger point of the song, the section
distribution is quite admirable. As seen, the distribution is as equal as it
could get, hence a nine. Should every member have the exact number of sections, a ten would have been earned. But
nevertheless, the group is indeed as equal as possible with the share and given
there are seven members, it is a feat worth respecting. Unfortunately,
everything from here onwards falters.

With
the lyrics for example, although from a superficial analysis the lyrics do
appear as very thorough, that is not the case. For one, the plot is the
opposite; rather than claiming that a storyline is involved (and I am excluding
symbolic points and focusing on the direct layer as, clearly, symbolic
interpretations are based per person’s take), the lyrics predominantly consist
of “fun” ones—lyrics that are for simply jamming out, as noticed by lines of “Hands
up if you feeling the vibe now” or “Move your body, pick it up / Shake just as
you feel.” Additionally, for another superficial aspect that can be looked
over, the lyrics are not as detailed as they appear. The raps are arguably the
only sections with filled with more complex lyrics, but everything else—the
chorus, pre-chorus, and bridge—are lacking in substance. Lines such as the ones
above or the ones in the bridge are examples of lyrics that, while adequately
fulfilling the song, provide little actual meaning to the plot of “Fire Truck.”
And of course, as discussed above, the plot is already weak in of itself. Thus,
with both of these points combined—weaker details and plot—the score comes down
to a three for below average.

Regarding
the vocals and instrumental, both scores will be explained alongside—a less
common format in comparison to nearly every other review I have written. As for
why I am doing so, this is a unique situation in which both will receive
identical critiques: being overly disorganized. Now admittedly this critiquing point
does run the risk of judging style moreover than quality, but with the
following I do hope to showcase why it is moreover the latter than the former.
(But of course, readers should be actively engaging with this review and thus,
disagreeing is encouraged.) For example, readers may believe I am penalizing
the song due to it lacking calm, tuneful singing. However, that is not the
case. Rather than me criticizing the style of the vocals, I am instead focusing
on how the given styles affect the
song in both large and minor scales. Let us begin breaking down the vocals for
this to make sense.

First,
the rapping vocals are adequate and likewise the singing that appears in the
bridge. Both vocal forms in the two sections help fulfill their purposes. For
example, the vocals in the rap are orientated towards being lower noted as to
help ease listeners into the song and that the raps are a starting point for
the song to then progress from. Similarly, the bridge’s lighter pitch and even
note holds—besides sounding decent from a pure sonic perspective—aids with forming
the traditional bridge style of giving “Fire Truck” a break. Now, for where the
vocals greatly falter then, it is elsewhere. The pre-choruses’ vocals come off
as exceptionally repetitive and lifeless—these two being highly contrasting
points to the rapping vocals. It also does not help that the lyrics themselves further
accumulate the staleness that occurs: vocals that are already plain are now
coupled by equally plain lyrics. Continuing on within the pre-chorus, the
vocals weaken even further: the moreover obnoxious vocals join in. Sure, this
may finally break apart the monotonous vocals that existed prior, but with this
having minimal connections—if at all any—to the prior vocals, the
singing/rapping become extremely chaotic. Overall, to summarize this all, the
vocals ultimately suffer due to a lack of cohesion. The raps’ vocals are
heavily contrasting to the pre-choruses’ vocals—and of which are already
conflicted themselves. Factor in the bridge and even the choruses and this
problem is further expanded. For other minor yet still relevant issues with the
vocals, besides the vocals lack of coordination, many are already insufficient.
The choruses’ “fire truck” singing are nothing noteworthy, and likewise the
pre-choruses’ vocals are ones to dismiss. As stated earlier, solely the raps’
and bridge’s vocals are worth attention, and even then much more is desired.

All
that said, while “Fire Truck” ‘s style may be wanted as the blame, it should be
noted that chaotic vocal styles are not always bad. In fact, one song in mind
perfectly executes this: BTS’ “Fun Boys.” Both songs, “Fun Boys” and “Fire
Truck” follow similar styles, but where the former greatly exceeds is in how
the vocals all relate to one another, and that variety is included so that the
song is not limited to merely repeating single, plain phrases. Regarding the
instrumental, as stated earlier the same critiques follow through: a weaker
sound in of itself, but more importantly that the instrumental lacks in bringing
the song together in a cohesive yet unrestricted way. Again, the style to “Fire
Truck” is not inherently bad; what matters more is the execution, and sadly
that is what lacks here.

Finally
to discuss the sections, the vocals category miraculously indirectly covered
this aspect. The rapping and bridge, as discussed, are not at the most
desirable standards but are by far ahead of the rest in both structure and
sound. As for the pre-chorus, its highly conflicting structure and lack of
enticing vocals lower its score. Predictably, the chorus is in a similar
situation as the instrumental solo that occurs already languishes sonically,
but likewise structurally with being excessively repetitive and dull. Optimistically,
despite the chorus scoring poorly, the conclusion scores slightly higher—even if
it is a recycled chorus. Reason being is that the chorus provides an excellent
ending as it is neither abrupt nor short, and that it captures the main core of
“Fire Truck.” Where it does lack, however, is that the choruses are already a
weaker point to begin with.

In
the end, one could argue I am biased towards this style of songs, but as I have
said before, I do hope the argument points dive beyond merely “I just don’t
like this.” Where “Fire Truck” mainly goes awry is in one word: disorganized.
Should there have been slightly more cohesion all while maintaining the fun,
free and upbeat style, this song could have excelled. After all, “purposeful
chaos”—akin to say, using controlled fire burns during forest fires—can be very
effective and, if delivered well, can grant one of the most unique yet alluring
songs. Once again, if readers are curious as to what an excellently “disorganized
cohesion” song could sound like, I recommend BTS’ “Fun Boys.” Biasedly, I do
dread the style, but every time I hear “Fun Boys” I have no choice but to
respect the production of the song. With NCT 127’s “Fire Truck,” sadly the men
fall short in terms of keeping the song bounded together—all while still
letting it have its open, fun style. And for a final point, I do hope readers
remember that music reviews are not meant to assert a stable, permanent
rendering of a song’s quality. Music reviews, instead, are meant to provide
discussions; music reviews exist to initiate a new take, to defend or challenge
a held view, and so forth. Therefore, should NCT 127 fans be upset, I would
challenge fans to go beyond that: disagree
with the review versus solely being defensive or allowing this to go by. Engaging
in that critical thinking and mindset are what reviews about and why I continue
to write them. (And likewise for why I add in social digressions; I hope to
engage readers in critical thinking in both realms of music and social as both
are intertwined with K-Pop.)

Ending
this review, while NCT 127 sadly comes short with “Fire Truck,”  I still do look forward to the group. Why?
Because NCT 127 and their producer(s) are not afraid to take risks; the men are
not held back by ideas of traditional song styles and so forth. I look forward
to whatever else the men may innovate, be it a song that incorporates ballad
and hip-hop, pop and EDM, and so on. There is no restriction for them.

_______________________________________________________

Before
anything else: huge apologies for this review’s delay. Admittedly, I have
recently become a fan of, once again, another group. Who are they? Although I
wanted to keep it a secret for an upcoming review, it is none other than
GFriend. Though I have been keeping my ears out for them especially after “Rough,”
their latest comeback has biasedly become a hit song for me. “Navillera” might
become my favorite song of all-time, and that is a bit frightening considering
Fiestar’s “You’re Pitiful” has comfortably held that spot for more than a year.
Only until now has a song contested that. But of course, I should clarify that
favorite does not mean best. There are plenty of flaws in Navillera, but given
that I biasedly love it, I do feel the need to review it so that a more
critical lens is applied versus my current delusional ones of assuming it is
the best song I have yet to hear (it is not—though I do predict it scoring
well).

Before
I go off-topic even further, indeed I have become delayed with reviews and even
subtitling as I have spent many questionable hours merely watching GFriend.
Only my girl (a sweet terrier mix) provided the motivation to get off of bed—Venus
needs her daily two-session walks, after all, and to continue learning her
first trick. (While she has her safety commands covered, I am finally now moving
onto actual fun tricks.) On topic, I do greatly apologize nonetheless for
delays. For the upcoming reviews, I have received two requests: Wonder Girls’ “Why
So Lonely” and Miss A’s Fei’s solo debut. I will promptly cover the two, and
then afterwards review two shows I have watched that involved GFriend.
Personally, that sounds like a win-win situation: I get to watch GFriend
knowing that it will serve short bonus reviews. (Emphasis on short, though.)

All
in all, “I’ll cool your anger down” with the reviews that are to come. Thank
you to all for reading this review. Look forward to Wonder Girls’ “Why So
Lonely.”

KNK – “Back Again” Review

KNK – Back Again (Dance Version)

KNK – Back Again

Reviewed
on June 26, 2016

Personal Message:
Although already edited in to the last
review
, I do want to thank a reader again for notifying me that I somehow
wrote “July” instead of “June.” Indeed, the secret is now revealed: I am a
time-traveler who wrote the review a month ahead. On a serious tone, July is
coming quite soon and sadly, I am still short on two reviews—or at least
currently. That said, the prior groups I had in mind for review, Oh My Girl and
BTS, will be pushed to the month of July. Instead, I have decided to finish up
the month of June with two special, hastier reviews that many readers desire:
rookie groups. From perhaps a biased standpoint, I have always been fond of
reviewing newer groups. Besides seeing how new artists attempt to create their
own distinctive, musical styles and of which translates to interesting reviews—or
the lack thereof, if we are to be critical—I am most interested in gauging how
artists improve and change over time. That, from a reviewing perspective, is
what makes rookie groups utterly charming—even if their initial releases are
subpar to most.

Regarding the current review, many
readers may now wonder: “Are KNK’s earlier songs going to be considered
mediocre?” Although that is what this review is here for—to provide hopefully a
new perspective and discussion to “Back Again”—I will say this: their heights
are indicative of their tall future. 185 centimeters as an average, the men of
KNK are tall. Even that is a short, unfulfilling statement. Horrible jokes
aside—though I truly do hope, and expect, the men to excel in the future—let us
take a more critical approach to “Back Again” than that of a casual listen.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 5/10
(5.17/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion: 4/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Section Distribution: 8/10

Youjin:
Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Bridge (Total: 3)

Seungjun:
Introduction, Verse, Verse, Bridge (Total: 4)

Inseong:
Chorus, Chorus (Total: 2)

Jihun:
Verse, Chorus, Chorus (Total: 3)

Heejun:
Verse, Bridge (Total: 2)

Equal Value: 2.8 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 5/10

I miss you, I hate you
I wanna go back again

You’re getting farther away
You’re fading
I try to catch you but,
you’re like the crashing waves; you keep pushing me away
Your cold words make me freeze
The more I try to take you out,
the sharper you get and dig deeper
I can’t even breathe

Besides you,
nothing can fill me up
I’m still waiting for you
Please don’t go far from me
I wanna go back again

I can’t go on without you
Before it’s too late, let’s go back to those times
To me, back again, back again
Again, back again, back again
Before you erase me
Without you, I’m going crazy
I’m still right here
Whenever you want, back again, back again
Again, back again, back again
Come back to me
Back again

Even after time passes,
traces of you still remain thickly
Your voice still tortures me,
your smile, even your smallest habits
I call out to you but it doesn’t reach you
Don’t get any farther, don’t go away
So I can reach you just a little bit

Even if I lose everything
You alone can fill me up
I’m still waiting for you
Please don’t go far from me
I wanna go back again

I can’t go on without you
Before it’s too late, let’s go back to those times
To me, back again, back again
Again, back again, back again
Before you erase me
Without you, I’m going crazy
I’m still right here
Whenever you want, back again, back again
Again, back again, back again
Come back to me
Back again

When time passes,
memories of you will fade
But you’ll come back some day
So I’ll be waiting right here
I miss you, I hate you

I can’t go on without you
Before it’s too late, let’s go back to those times
To me, back again, back again
Again, back again, back again
Before you erase me
Without you, I’m going crazy
I’m still right here
Whenever you want, back again, back again
Again, back again, back again
Come back to me
Back again

Choreography Score: 6/10 (5.5/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 6/10

– Key Points: 5/10

Overall Score: 6/10
(6.00/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
I will be honest: KNK surpassed my expectations. On the other hand, however,
the production of “Back Again” did not; it merely met my expectations, as I
will explain. But first, let us discuss what surprised me about the men.
Looking over the ratings, the vocals have scored exceptionally well: a seven
for above average. Indeed, their vocals are impressive—and more so with being a
rookie group. Despite being new, the men are already showing off admirable
singing skills. Consider the common, solid traits that KNK meets: diverse
styles; both fragile and powerful singing; vocal beltings; and pitch diversity—both
highs and lows. Throughout every
section—choruses, verses, bridge, and so forth—are absolutely stunning vocals. All
in all, even if they are a newer group, their vocals state otherwise: their hard
work with practicing their vocals shows through in “Back Again.”

As
for another excellent rating KNK gleaned, their section distribution is nearly
perfect. Since the numbers are somewhat indicative of why men earned an eight
in this aspect, I will not overly explain. However, in short, it was solely one
disparity (a four versus a two for section count) that prevented a nine.
Nonetheless, an eight is certainly a desirable score, and more importantly from
a musical perspective, considering KNK members are all solid vocalists having a
rather equal distribution helps augment their vocals even further—hence why
section distributions do matter. Switching
over to the lyrics, unfortunately scores do become lower now. At a rated five,
the lyrics are of the cliché: a breakup that leaves the main character in
anguish. Although the verses do remain varied and detailed, every other section
fails in those regards. Take, for example, the choruses: repetitive lines of “back
again” along with excessively emphasizing the idea of how the main character
cannot continue on without their former love. As such, since the plot itself is
already mundane and likewise the details in every section minus the verses, an
average rating is earned.

To
now focus on the instrumental and sections—both of which have scored averagely—these
aspects are where “Back Again” falters. This is also what I alluded to when I
said it is the production that languishes and not necessarily KNK themselves.
After all, how the song is structured out with its sections is not directly
tied with the vocals—though the vocals still do play a role. On topic, there is
one main idea that describes why “Back Again” is weaker with its sections:
generic. The vocals are stunning, but when it comes to how the song itself
plays out, it is organized in an incredibly generic fashion. Let us take a look
at specific examples. With the pre-choruses, in addition to its abrupt transition
on both occurrences from the prior verses, the format is of the traditional: a
lighter instrumental and vocals to create a “hyping” effect for the
anticipated, climactic chorus, and of course accelerating beats to clearly
highlight the actual transition. While this format is not inherently bad,
unless if a song manages to transform it in such a way that its effectiveness
is maintained (indeed, this format is effective,
hence why it is commonly used) while the delivery is creative, then it is
perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, “Back Again” lacks that unique component;
the pre-choruses precisely follow what was stated above. Slightly modifying
that format or adding to it would have been greatly preferable. Even with
Youjin’s fantastic singing being included, it is not enough to compensate for
an overly stale layout.

Regarding
the other sections that score at a five, the same concept applies: following a
traditional format to its core without any creative twists. Now as for the conclusion
and its lower rating, this is the rarer case of an ending ending itself too
quickly; the conclusion concludes itself too suddenly—as comical as those two
phrases might sound. Instead of cutting off the piano that soon, a few more
seconds to let it naturally fade would have provided a much cleaner end than
what is currently present. Yes, this may be harsh, but it is a minor detail that
still has major implications. On the positive side to all of the prior
critiques, the verses and introductions do deserve praise. The verse, from a
conceptual context, is how “Back Again” should have conducted: using a traditional
format but with a personal, unique change. First, the verses sound
extraordinary with the meshing of the instrumental’s and vocals’ pacing, but
what gave the section a certain push to a six is the subtle mixture of standard
singing but also that of rapping. That—taking a normal concept of a verse but
adding in creative points—is why the verses fare well.

Overall,
the sections are somewhat disappointing in the song. KNK’s vocals are thriving
individually, but without sections that are equally engaging and also an
instrumental that is moreover than providing mechanical benefits—such as
transitions or complementing the vocals—the song in whole languishes. If more
distinctive sections are given in the future, and additionally an instrumental
that would sound seducing while still maintaining its fundamental roles, KNK’s
songs would be quite potent. Add in as well more creative, detailed lyrics and
the men’s song will further succeed. Nevertheless, to have a song rate at
slightly above average despite being a newer group is something to definitely
admire. Furthermore, their vocals are nothing to scoff at; with even more experience
and time to improve, KNK’s singing may just be what brings the men to high
popularity in the future. What matters now, then, is that their songs from a
producing aspect continue to greatly improve—and that, I expect, will occur. KNK
is unequivocally a group to keep ears—and eyes since, as every man and woman
can agree to, they are gorgeous—out for.

_______________________________________________________

To
my surprise, I once again managed to review a song in a single day. This does
show that social digressions are perhaps the main culprit to slower reviews
(and other work, be it my summer class or subtitling videos), but as I
reiterate constantly, it is important to be critical of K-Pop (and every pop
culture) beyond even just musically, but also that of socially. Pop culture is ubiquitous
with social topics, be it blatant or not. Thus, it is crucial to be able to
critically engage with those topics should they arise. That aside, however, the
next review in plan will most likely be on another newer male group, but plans
might change again. Nonetheless, look forward to a review to come before the
end of June. And as always, thank you to all for reading—whether in full or
short. Any time towards the blog is truly appreciated. After all, “I can’t go
on without you.” Look forward to the next review, and remember: I invite KNK
fans to also be critical of my review and to both agree and disagree with it.

BTOB  – “It’s Okay” Review

BTOB
– It’s Okay (Music Video Dance Version)

BTOB – It’s Okay

Reviewed
on May 8, 2016

Personal Message:
Owning a dog is far from an easy
task, though indeed it very much is rewarding. It has been eight days
since adopting my girl as of this sentence (I plan to write a “post-adoption”
blog post that shares my experiences and even my initial regrets), and we are
adjusting to each other very well. Her terrier and Dachshund breed
characteristics are also slowly showing: activeness, playfulness, and
lovingness. She is also responding very well to obedience training; our first
day consisted of waiting five minutes per “sit,” but that time is now an average
of four seconds. And of course, she now knows other commands: “come,” “stay,” and “leave  it”–or at least is working on the latter two. Small dog update aside (no pun intended), it is now time for
me to also adjust back to my own schedule. I hope to finish May with six
reviews, and likewise with June and even August. Given that I am able to spread
out my reviews and am on summer break (though I have one summer class), these
goals appear very plausible. All that said, rather than focusing on a recent
comeback right now, to return to a writing mindset and for some practice (and
unfortunately that does mean social digressions will not occur in this review),
I have instead decided to review a song I have absolutely adore these past
days: BTOB’s “It’s Okay.

Admittedly it was not until I heard MAMAMOO’s
cover of “It’s Okay”

that I began to truly learn more of BTOB. Even if I heard “Remember That,”
BTOB’s latest song, before MAMAMOO’s cover, it was the ladies’ cover that
disclosed how vocally skilled the men were. After all, the singing MAMAMOO
conducted in their cover was purely a cover; there were no added improvising,
ad-libs, or any modifications for that matter. All of the belting, note holds,
power, rapping intensity, and so forth are in the original song—this being a
clear showcase of how vocally skilled BTOB is (and vice-versa with MAMAMOO
being able to handle BTOB’s song). Overall, I am indeed now a fan of BTOB’s
music and look forward to becoming a fan of the men themselves through watching
their videos.

Hastily focusing on the review
itself (as I am yearning to simply get back into routine), I confess: “It’s
Okay” is one the better songs I have ever heard and is also now a favorite. As
such, I will do my best to remain neutral. Besides that, however, the song
title can be quite misleading: this song is not just “okay.” It is, I biasedly
predict, fantastic. The vocals are to a high tier, the sections are cohesive,
the instrumental is solid—everything, from the surface, seems to align up to a
solid score. Let us see if that is the case.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 8/10
(7.6/10 raw score) – “Good; excellent”


Vocals: 8/10


Sections: 8/10
(7.57/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Rap: 8/10

6.     Bridge: 9/10

7.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Section Distribution: 6/10

Eunkwang:
Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus (Total: 5)

Minhyuk:
Rap (Total: 1*)

Changsub:
Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Chorus, Rap, Bridge (Total: 5)

Hyunsik:
Verse, Pre-Chorus, Bridge, Chorus (Total: 4)

Peniel:
Rap (Total: 1)

Ilhoon:
Rap (Total: 1*)

Sungjae:
Introduction, Verse, Chorus, Chorus, Chorus (Total: 5)

Equal Value: 3.14 sections per member.

*Special
exemption granted due to duration. These quantities will be ignored.


Lyrics: 9/10

Yeah, yeah
Oh

Are your shoulders heavy?
It’s not easy to put down heavy baggage
Someone said that when feel your dreams are
getting far away, “you should take a break”

Are you struggling because of the same things
every day?
Who is that for?
In the end, you’ll fall down anyway
When you’re struggling and feel alone
Listen to this song

Look forward to this melody you liked
The voice that will flow out of the radio
The only thing I can do, is to sing the lyrics of this song
Even if things are hard, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
Everything will be okay
I believe in you

It’s been three years
No one wants me
I wonder if I should go to the army
I told my parents and they said one thing, they sighed
So I couldn’t tell them
that I got fired from my one part-time job
Well, yesterday my friend who’s about to get discharged
came out for vacation
He said that it’s scary
That he forgot everything he learned in college
There are a million unemployed people
I don’t really know much about that
But I just wish that number was in my bank account
The loud alarm keeps rushing me
Starting from dawn I go out my house like I’m being chased
It’s like standing at the edge of a cliff
What am I doing? No, what should I be doing?
It’s an answerless echo
Why do I get kicked around outside
and vent my anger at harsh places?
I’m a small paper boat; lost during voyage without coordinates
I force down my tears
Sighing becomes a habit
I know that I’m being a fool
But I pretend I’m okay in front of others
Where did the bright past go?

Look forward to this melody you liked
The voice that will flow out of the radio
The only thing I can do, is to sing the lyrics of this song
Even if things are hard, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
Everything will be okay
I believe in you

My loving family, my friends who are my family
It’s been so long since I’ve seen them
(I believe in you)
We always say, “let’s grab a bite to eat”
It wouldn’t be bad if I got some free time for once
Then I wouldn’t be so lonely right now

This song is almost over,
but there’s still a lot I haven’t said
Everyone probably feels the same

Look forward to this melody you liked
(melody, melody)
The voice that will flow out of the radio
The only thing I can do, is to sing the lyrics of this song
Even if things are hard, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay
Everything will be okay
I believe in you

Choreography Score: 6/10 (6.0/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 6/10

– Key Points: 6/10

Overall Score: 7/10
(7.0/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: After
the review on SPICA’s
“Ghost,”
I highly doubted I would ever see a Song Score of
eight again. Clearly, however, that is not the case: “It’s Okay” manages to
indeed snatch a very prestigious rating. Generally peering at the categories,
all are at a higher rating: the vocals are an eight; the sections are an eight;
the lyrics hit a surprising high of nine; and so forth. Only the section
distribution is slightly lacking—and this will be our first look at “It’s
Okay.”

With
the section distribution, something appears rather peculiar: the score is a six
when, quite blatantly, the numbers does not match up; the rating should be
seemingly lower considering three members have one section while the rest have
significantly more. True that I do base on quantity over duration as,
generally, quantity can be more indicative than time. For example, in Fiestar’s
“You’re Pitiful,” Cao Lu’s single “I don’t know” line, while minimal in duration,
is very substantial and important in what it provides the song. In that context,
it was the quantity that mattered; the
duration of her line had not as much
as relevance as did the amount of times Cao Lu’s line appeared. Furthermore, if
the mentioned example is going to be refuted, then the following would be much
harder to disagree with: accounting for raps. Some parts or sections, such as
raps, are simply going to be shorter in virtue of their style. It would not be
fair for a song to have a reduced Section Distribution score because, based on
duration, a member’s rap—though appearing numerously—added up to minimal time.
Again, quantity is inspected over duration of lines to help account for differences
in styles, be it raps, note holds, beltings, and so forth. With that in mind,
it does seem very absurd that “It’s Okay” is exempted; if quantity is to be
praised over duration as I explained, why would “It’s Okay” not be punished for
its distribution if we are to look at quantity?

Context
is the reason—and context is not a random point I suddenly made. The purpose of
looking at quantity over duration is it tends to reflect context moreover than
duration as explained earlier, but in “It’s Okay,” duration plays a very
significant role—a role that is undeniable and thus, has to be analyzed. With
the initial rap section from Ilhoon and Minhyuk, both men rap for an
exceptionally long time, and factoring in that their raps occur right after the
other, it leads to a section that is more than just “one section.” Therefore,
in calculating the score, I will not be holding the two men’s parts as lacking
and will consider them as having the “equal value” necessary for a fair
distribution. Nonetheless, as noted, a six is still in place due to Peniel
having one section. Certainly his part is a rap, but unlike Ilhoon and Minhyuk,
the duration is by far minimal and thus, while everyone else has an even
distribution (again, once accounting for the exemptions), Peniel lacks a
significant amount of sections. This brings the score down from a potential
nine to now a six.

To
preserve the sonic aspect to “It’s Okay” for later, we will now proceed with
the lyrics. Although my April
Fool’s review
gave a score of a nine for the “song” ‘s lyrics, if ignoring
that it is a prank, then indeed “It’s Okay” currently carries the highest score
for its lyrics out of all songs reviewed. In fact, it is a score I doubt would
ever be beat, let alone even tied. Explaining the outstanding score, without
even focusing on the meaning of the lyrics, the amount of detail is admirable. For
example, the sole repeated lines are the choruses, and even then, the details
provided there are decent. For what truly elicits the lyrics’ strengths, the
main rapping section carries an extreme degree of thoroughness, and
additionally, of uniqueness. As noticed from the multiple reviews conducted,
there is a common theme of lyrics—specifically that of love, relationships, or
just having fun. However, “It’s Okay” is not along those lines; this song is
focusing on hardship, of finding one’s desires, goals, and career. Clarifying a
point, however, I am not praising the lyrics’ meaning; doing so causes the issue
of praising interpretations—of which are unstable. Rather, that the lyrics differ from a vast majority of other
(Korean) pop songs is what grants it its praise in this aspect. After all, it becomes
dull to hear of a song that is, once again, about love, heartbreak, and so on.

Finally
discussing the sonic side to “It’s Okay,” the vocals are phenomenal. That is
probably an understatement. Every vocal aspect to “It’s Okay” is simply
fantastic. From the subtle, echoing background singing and humming to the
powerful high note holds and belts that occur at notably at the choruses and
bridge—though every section’s vocals
are worthy of praise—the song contains seducing vocals. The only section that
comes short is the conclusion: there are no vocals there. Jokes aside, there is
truly not much to discuss with BTOB’s vocals. They are amazing singers and
rappers. Bearing this in mind, it would appear expected for the sections to
also follow with a high rating.

For
one, given that the vocals are superb, the sections already have their sonic
component covered. Even then, for how the sections themselves are structured,
much praise likewise exists. A key point to highlight with the sections is how
cohesive they are. From transitioning to the next section or, in an overarching
view, to building up the song towards the climactic bridge, all of the sections
link to one another in a way that allows “It’s Okay” to seamlessly flow from
start to end. This, besides providing a smooth flow, allows the vocals to
remain at their highest charms as all of the vocals—singing and rapping—build
upon the prior section’s vocals. Focusing moreover on an individual scope, each
section brings its specialty to “It’s Okay.” The verses, pre-choruses, and
choruses are all solid in regards to delivered singing and format. For a
section that deserves high praise, the bridge—of which reaps a very high rating
of a nine—is absolutely stellar with being able to bring the song together for
one final, peak moment of pure vocal prowess. Other sections, such as the raps,
are also excellent. In this song particularly, the lengthier raps not only
expose more moments of delightful rapping, but doing so also provides an
intriguing, fitting break to the song’s usual flow of just singing. And to
conclude it all, the instrumental binds all it all together: vocals and
sections. With providing transitions to accommodating BTOB’s singing and
rapping, the instrumental serves well.  

At
most for what can be critiqued in “It’s Okay,” the visual component—the
choreography—may be the weakest piece. Although creating a dance around a
ballad is a difficult feat and that has to be acknowledged, the dance is in no
way as captivating as the audio. Key points and even syncing are plain, but
given the focus should be on BTOB’s vocal performance, the choreography’s
partial lacking is excusable.

In
the end, “It’s Okay” still scores exceptionally well with its Song Score: an
eight. While the Choreography Score is not as impressive, if we are to focus on
the song itself, BTOB’s “It’s Okay” can be considered one of the top songs the
blog has yet to review. Only SPICA’s “Ghost” competes equally in score. And numbers
aside, “It’s Okay” is, biasedly speaking, one of the best ballads I have heard.
The song is one of the few where every aspect is definitely solid, and on top
of it all, the lyrics can be very empowering and reassuring for those who may
and will relate to the song at one point or another. All in all, I personally
rank “It’s Okay” as one of the better songs I have heard, and I optimistically
look forward to BTOB releasing another song that is—if not better—at least
equal in quality. Perhaps a future review will be on “Remember That,” BTOB’s
latest comeback, and comparisons to this song could be made.

_______________________________________________________

Although
I feel as if the writing and analysis in this review is somewhat weaker than
usual, I will work from here to bring more insightful, engaging reviews.
Especially with finally feeling settled down with my girl (and of whom will be
having her first frozen peanut butter-banana-dog food Kong treat along with her
first time being alone at home), I know I can get back on track with reviews. I
have much to catch up in terms of reviews. For what I have planned, I do want
to focus on reviewing artists who I have never reviewed at all before. Unless
if there is a pressing comeback that occurs, I wish to bring in more diversity
on the blog—both with artists but also with gender (specifically with having
more male artists).

As
always, thank you so much for reading this review. Whether briefly skimmed or
read to each periods, I appreciate it all. Look forward to many reviews (and
subtitle videos of Fiestar—for those interested) to come. After all, “Everything
will be okay, I believe in you”—I believe in readers continually coming back,
and for those current in harder times, that everything will be okay—as BTOB
says. Look forward to most likely Hong Jinyoung’s “Thumb Up,” a trot song, as
the next review.

SEVENTEEN – “Adore U” Review

SEVENTEEN – Adore U (Dance + Mashup Version)

SEVENTEEN – Adore U

Reviewed on June 18, 2015

image

Personal Message: Though my prior review on Infinite’s “The Chaser” was published a day ago, I will already resume writing. Three major motivating factors are active: For one, this is a requested review, and thus, I do not intend to revive past mistakes of highly delaying requests. Secondly, a friend’s comical reminder of “papers don’t write themselves” (comically speaking, it is a bit concerning that my reviews are synonymous to “papers” due to length), but thirdly, for the largest factor, AOA’s comeback of “Heart Attack” will occur on June 22, and with biasedly loving the group and sentimental value of my old review on their hit song of “Like a Cat,” I do feel obliged to instantly review their comeback. And of course, writing reviews is something that is fun and a few readers are anticipating them.

On topic, this review will be on SEVENTEEN, a newly debuted 13-membered male group, and as the requester humorously put, there are many members. Many. How this will affect the review will be unclear, but I already anticipate hassles in terms of tracking who remains in charge of which sections (for readers, however, it will all be sorted out and therefore not an issue). Briefly describing my overarching opinion of their debut song, “Adore U,” while the usual trend in debuts is that, due to various reasons such as it being the first song, a vast majority are moreover average or worse, I do admire SEVENTEEN’s debut for being thorough and, impressively, for not even appearing as a debut. “Adore U” plays out as if it were any regular song, not one of introducing the group or one that overly emphasizes a group’s general style and concept. However, though I will praise it in that regard, once the review begins, I do predict this song to be either “average” or “slightly above average,” which for a debut song would be impressive ratings as the men could only improve from such.

To address the video link as it is partially different from the usual ones, it is a dance version of their music video, but towards the end, it does become a “mashup.” Nevertheless, the choreography remains sufficient in length so that the video is still viable. Drifting to a new topic, for one that is surrounding the men of SEVENTEEN, I will discuss an interesting point involving one of their members (and as I always say, for those who desire to focus purely on the music, skip to below): Vernon, and more specifically, him being biracial. Pitifully, him being half Korean (father’s side) and White (mother’s side) elicits the current upcoming discussion when that should not ever be the case; by simply being biracial, he has faced tremendous racist remarks, and furthermore, in recent times, is being bashed by many for “pulling the race card,” but realistically, I should not have to venture into the subject because there should not be any instances of racism in the first place. Nonetheless, clearly, there are apparent issues, and rather than shying away, I will be diving in depth with this topic. Topics of race are uncomfortable, hence why they are vital to discuss and to understand on a social scale and in detail.

To begin, I will first offer context of the situation: Vernon, in his younger days, explained how he was often time called a “halfer,” was stared at, and of course, faced other subtle yet racist treatments (and as a side note, this was in South Korea; this serves as a prime example of how the “dominant” group varies per place, as briefly discussed in my post of EXID and TMZ, but needless to say, still exists). Now, although this incident was moreover in the past and shared when he was a child, for current times, many have decided to belittle his past experience, and thus, are claiming Vernon is simply “pulling the race card” as his shared experience is merely to garner attention. Sadly, however, this “belittling” of his story is unacceptable; his experience is what every person of a minoritized race undergoes, even to the extent of a daily basis, and to claim his story is for attention utterly defeats the purpose of why Vernon’s younger self had to share such.

Dissecting the “race card” phrase, in this specific scenario, first of all, it is already erroneous to claim Vernon is “pulling” anything as, from what I understand, he has not done so; Vernon has not brought up his experience with racism in modern time, but rather, people have found his old, childhood story, and thus, to claim he is “pulling the race card” is incredibly false as he, blatantly, has not done anything, and therefore, to claim he is seeking attention through such is simply illogical. If he did indeed recently claim and told his story (which will still not be seeking attention, as to be explained below) as the current matured Vernon, then at the very least, the current accusations would partially hold as, correct, he is bringing up the story. But, as stated, with him not conducting any discussion of his experience in current times, he should not be accused for “pulling the race card.” At most, accusers are the ones that are “pulling” something by digging up archaic news.

Nevertheless, even if he did bring his experience into discussion in recent times, irrationally claiming Vernon is “pulling the race card” to seek attention undermines his story, of which is costly. In essence, utilizing that phrase is identical to saying: Vernon’s (or anyone) experience with racism is miniscule; racism is nothing major, and those who claim they face racial discrimination are merely stating so for sympathy and attention. This is also exceptionally akin to the idea of justifying racist claims and jokes: “it is simply a joke, don’t be so sensitive,” or “I didn’t mean you, though,” for examples, work in a similar fashion to the “pulling the race card” phrase as, once more, undermining racism, and in many ways, justifying and encouraging it, is what occurs from utilizing those related phrases.  

Rather than viewing Vernon’s past story as him seeking attention, the more critical, open approach would be to understand his perspective. Acts of racism are still highly prevalent, but in juxtaposition to older times, are much more discreet. Members of minoritized races constantly endure microaggressions: relentless questions of “where are you from,” widespread exposure to racist “jokes” and comments, and overall, simply the feeling of inferiority to the dominant race. Racism, unequivocally, still exists. Though it is now socially unacceptable for blatant racism to occur, the version of veiled racism thrives. Relating the phrase of “pulling the race card,” this phrase’s sole existence is to defend subtle racism, and thus, for an ultimate point, it should never be used as incidents of racism are not shared for the sake of attention, but instead, attention so that proper, humane changes can occur. No one “pulls the race card” because of desiring attention; the “race card” is “pulled” by those who wish to continue perpetuating racism.

Until my senior year in high school, I had always believed racism (or any oppressions for that matter) were solely feelings; I had perceived “-ism” terms as people being overly emotionally sensitive. Truthfully, however, and for why these labels are coined as “social issues,” as the name, they are on a social level, not one of emotional feelings. These issues cannot be shoved away as “just jokes” or “pulling the card,” these issues need to be confronted directly, regardless of how uncomfortable. As an overall point, to tie into SEVENTEEN and Vernon’s case, his words and story are important and are not to seek attention; he is bringing attention to an ongoing social issue that needs to be challenged so that, in the future, no child or person would have to tell a similar story to what Vernon’s younger self had to share.

Of course, varying opinions are desired, and thus, I do hope readers who read the earlier portion develop their own understanding and care. Returning to “Adore U” in a musical lens, though, in honesty, I am very intimidated by the number of members and the number of song sections to analyze, their group size will not be a factor in the song’s rating (until the Line Distribution). “Adore U” may be promising in the category of vocals, but once the other aspects are included, I do remain skeptical on how well the song as a whole holds. Ending the anxiety of waiting, this review will determine if “Adore U” is worth adoring.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10 (5.4/10 raw score) – “Average”

– Vocals: 7/10 – With 13 members existing, rather than individually critiquing every member, I will analyze the vocals in “Adore U” collectively. That said, SEVENTEEN’s vocals in “Adore U” are admirable. Though they may be new in the K-Pop industry, the same cannot be said for their skills; SEVENTEEN’s singing possesses higher-end traits, as would be seen in more experienced groups. Expanding on those traits, for the strongest point, the vocals remain exceptionally diverse: notes range from lows to highs, the melody is versatile via being lively and dynamic but also calm and slow, rapping and standard singing alternate, and overall, with many members, every line possesses its own voice, and therefore, more appeal exists. Ignoring the layer of variety, the occurring singing and even rapping are musically enchanting. Deeper pitches, as during the first verse, grant a soothing effect, and as for the higher pitches such as during the choruses, a desirable, energetic flow is in place. Furthermore, moments of staleness are nonexistent; with the vocals’ melodies constantly showcasing a flexible style, be it common changes in pacing or adding in note stretches, every moment of singing in “Adore U” remains adoring.

Variety is arguably the men’s best trait for their vocals. Above average will hold as the score. Although the following categories (Sections, Line Distribution, etc.) may lack, the vocals certainly hold well. If the prediction becomes a reality, “Adore U” will serve as a transparent example of how even though high talent may be in place, a song requires more than 13 members delivering excellent vocals since 15 members are needed.

– Sections: 5/10 (5.43/10 raw score)

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

1. Introduction: 6/10 – Five members cooperate for the introduction (and as a disclaimer, I do apologize if I am inaccurate for labeling who remains responsible for which sections; tracking 13 members is not an easy task): S. Coups, Vernon, Jun, Mingyu, and Hoshi.

Addressing the structural component, the introduction shines with fulfilling its role. Rather than introducing singing vocals, a familiar concept, as in many previous reviews, is used. Regular speaking, and later, whispering, are used. As a result of preserving the actual singing, anticipation becomes created, of which is a necessary outcome for an introduction to be enticing. In focus of the section in itself, the progression deserves praise for following a suiting pace and development: standard phrases are thrown while tints of an electric guitar accompany them, but later, once the whispering occurs, heavier beats become included. Many favorable outcomes exist due to the progression. For a basic example, a perfect level of intensity is gleaned; the introduction does not fail to transition to the verse due to being too passive, nor is there an issue of the introduction being too upbeat and lively as if it were a chorus. Another desirable point, however, is the song’s tone is clearly given. The song’s general rate and pacing is reflected in the introduction’s own progression rate. Heavier and medium-paced beats can be assumed as the song’s flow and pacing, and with this, the introduction becomes additionally appealing and cohesive.

Though the introduction should be numerically rated highly, the sonic aspect does falter, and it is more than merely the lack of singing vocals. Though the latter point does not directly hinder the score, it does significantly increase difficulties of possessing a section that is sonically infatuating. In “Adore U,” the lack of singing vocals is detrimental as the speaking and whispering phrases do not compensate; their voices, while on an individual level are nice and worthy of hearing (as are all voices in general; every voice should be loved), are not musically attracting as, blatantly, it is merely speaking (for a side note, solely one song has been an exception: Secret’s “I’m In Love” where Hyosung’s introduction of speaking was, miraculously, indeed musically charming, though she was accompanied with some tuneful humming). Even with the instrumental, which, once covered later, will showcase that it is moreover average, and thus, is also incapable of improving the introduction’s sonic layer.

Slightly above average will be the score. Considering how the introduction is nearly bereft of a sonic component, this score should be noteworthy as it indicates the structural portion is very much admirable.

2. Verse: 5/10 – For the verses, Seungkwan and DK handle the first, and for the second, S. Coups, Hoshi, Vernon, The8 (yes, this is his stage name and not a typo), Jun, and Joshua are all responsible. In truth, if the first verse was repeated, the score would be vastly higher. For how I will dissect the verses, I will follow the default protocol of mechanical and structural, but from there, I will analyze the first verse then second verse, and afterwards, offer an overall conclusion.

With that, for the mechanical layer to the verses, peering at the first verse, beautiful singing occurs. Both members’ notes range from low to middle, and furthermore, they remain exceptionally melodic. Their first seconds of performing a lower note stretch, and also, additional note stretches at the end, are prime examples of how the couple creates, emphasizes, and accentuates, the first verse’s captivating melody. Simply stated, solid singing is unveiled. Unfortunately, for the second verse, the first verse’s seducing traits are displaced: the second verse is bleak of not only attracting singing, but also, rapping. In the context of the second verse, the first two members, in truth, were not quite singing or rapping, but instead, practically speaking, though a tune was attached. Nevertheless, due to such, little appeal is given from the two. Following up with the next member, Vernon’s short rap is as impactful as its length; although it would be false to label his rap as horrid, it is solely average. Now afterwards, the remaining members adopt the first two members’ style of speaking, but at the very least, a slightly more melodic approach exists. Nonetheless, a monotone, tedious style becomes in place.

For the structural layer, once more, the first verse proves better. Though both verses do repeat their lines’ formats, the first verse benefits while the second suffers. Elaborating, in terms of the first verse, while both members replicate one another, with their singing holding favorably, recycling a similar format is increasing the time span of said singing, and that is no issue as fantastic singing occurs for longer. However, conversely, for the second verse, with relatively poorer vocals showcased, reusing similar lines is solely pushing more weaker vocals, and thus, is not appealing. Even on a more individual level, the first verse’s lyrics variate and are more than a single, basic tune. The same is not applied to the second verse: the rapping lines are not thorough with melody and flow, and blatantly, the moments that of speaking phrases were monotonous.

Average will be the score. Should the first verses have been reused, “Adore U” would possess very prominent, marvelous verses, but unluckily, the second verse does hinder the overall score.

3. Pre-Chorus: 5/10 – Vernon and Dino pair up for the first pre-chorus while Wonwoo and Mingyu handle the second. To already reveal the rating, average is how the pre-choruses hold. Both components of mechanical and structural neither have pressing issues or solid points.

Focusing on the mechanical side, the pre-choruses take the overall form of rapping, although slower than typical ones. While the lines are not lacking melody, the existing melody fails to be enticing. Additionally, the traits of the rap are equally in a state of average: The pacing, though unique in the sense of being slower, is nothing phenomenal. Lines remain relatively unchanged from one another, but due to a shorter length, rather than being impairing, it holds as average. Both of those aspects have the potential to influence the mechanical layer positively or negatively, but in “Adore U” ‘s case, nothing is modified; the rapping in a musical sense remains plain as no aspect is remarkable.

Structurally, the same trend of average continues. Although members alternating between lines do provide variety, with how similar their lines are to one another, it is not potent. At most, a pause is granted from the alternating. Nevertheless, it is not entirely mundane, and in a few ways, is still effective as noted by the mentioned pause, but overall, this aspect is, as the trend, average. In terms of the pre-choruses holding up to their roles, predominantly the ending is where the actual transition occurs; solely at the end of the pre-choruses are moments where it is clear that the section carries into the chorus. Though it is preferable for the entire section to be connoted with the role of transitioning the song into the chorus, in “Adore U,” it is still functional. Thus, rather than it failing to suit its role, it acquires it, although in the end it is an average route.

If the word average has not been stated enough, I will reiterate it once more: the section will be rated as average. The mechanical and structural layers are both plain; nothing renders as menacing, but nothing is praiseworthy.

4. Chorus: 7/10 – Jeonghan, Woozi, and DK are responsible for all of the choruses.

Excluding the first verse, the choruses are the song’s most appealing section on a sonic layer. Undeviating, basic vocals are nonexistent as variety exists: stronger vocals are apparent, but softer ones are also established. Furthermore, a catchy, flowing melody is in place. Focusing on the melody, with multiple note stretches occurring, such as at the end of the first line, or more explicitly, during “yoohoo” by Woozi, the melody becomes exceptionally detailed, diverse, and simply appealing. Adding on, in addition to an infatuating melody, variance occurs in the form of power: DK and Woozi’s final lines during the chorus are slightly more prominent than the earlier lines, and thus, more variety is gleaned, and of course, traces of power are pleasing to hear.

Structurally, many points translate over. As the two categories are related, due to the structural side succeeding, the musical portion equally thrives and becomes amplified. The listed multiple aspects, such as note stretches, regular singing, changes in power, and for what is not listed, even changes in pacing, are all in benefit of the structural side, and as a result, the mechanical side is also indirectly aided. But, on an individual level, the structure renders as marvelous due to being extremely thorough. On that note, for how it holds as a chorus, it suits “Adore U” with providing an energetic, upbeat and climactic section in the song.

For another aspect that suits “Adore U,” a seven for above average will do. The singing and format in the choruses are pleasing.

5. Post-Chorus: 4/10 – The first post-chorus is handled by Woozi and Mingyu, and the second one involves Woozi but with Hoshi.

For the sonic component to the post-choruses, it can be rendered as mediocre, sadly. While traces of power in the form of vocals are disclosed, the overarching singing holds as unadorned; moments of singing involve either stronger, chopped words, or a basic phrase. Regardless of the form, both can be considered stale. The instances of power in vocals remain moreover isolated than in combination to genuine singing, and thus, is now miniscule. As for the following phrases, with nearly standard speaking in place, little appeal exists in that regard, similar to the moments of paused, stronger vocals.

In terms of the structure, there are points of positivity. For one, the section serves its traditional role: bringing the chorus to a proper point so that “Adore U” can begin anew with another verse. In comparison to the choruses, the post-choruses are significantly calmer, and furthermore, perfectly transition to the upcoming verses via having similar, plain vocals, and because of the sections’ format of being slower paced and chopped, both of which allow the song to easily shift style (such as into a different section).

Nevertheless, slightly below average will hold as the score. The sonic piece of the post-choruses is incredibly insipid, and even despite a decent structural side, the lacking vocals are too impairing.

6. Bridge: 6/10 – Seungkwan, DK, Vernon, and S. Coups collaborate with each other for the bridge.

Spotlighting the bridge’s prime point, the structural side prevails with its variety and progression. Variety is observed due to the added layers of softer singing, a rap, more impactful singing, and eventually, a note hold. Sufficient appeal is created from such. Now, in focus of the progression, each specific style of vocals (soft singing, rap, and impactful singing) possesses a critical role: the softer singing introduces the bridge and lays the foundation, the rapping then serves as a bridge (no pun intended) for the bridge to escalate in terms of more active vocals, and finally, the stronger vocals and the note hold occur to leave a climactic point in “Adore U.”

Transitioning into the mechanical aspect, unlike the structural layer, it cannot be equally considered as solid. Initial vocals, in credit to the same duo at the verses, Seungkwan and DK, are exceptionally alluring, as expected from the two. Progressing further, when the rapping occurs, it does hold well as, dissimilar to the prior moments of rapping, melody and fluctuation are added attributes. However, for the final seconds, the note hold is dissatisfying. Though it remains in scope and suits the song’s overall tone, the note hold’s strain is excessive; a crisp, clear note hold would have been more sonically pleasing as the current, exaggerated strain is overly prioritizing power and not other necessary traits, such as melody.  

Slightly above average will be the rating. The mechanical layer, while hindered by the note hold, still remains decent when accounting for the softer vocals and rap, and of course, the structural portion holds well.

7. Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 5/10 – As in the regular post-choruses, Woozi, Mingyu, and Hoshi return. What remains fundamentally different, however, is that they all participate.

With the conclusion reusing an exact replica of the earlier post-choruses, the mechanical layer will not be discussed as it has already been covered. Summarizing the prior point: the vocals are not tempting. That said, for what will be scrutinized, the conclusion’s structure is still valid. Although on the individual layer, the conclusion is weak as, directly, the post-choruses’ structures are not enticing, for the role of a conclusion, the section provides a proper end to “Adore U.” A calmer state is gleaned from the conclusion, and due to the post-choruses’ format of pauses, points of ending are widespread as it would be possible to, in essence, abruptly end the song as the section is already replicating a closure via a sluggish rate. Lastly, “Adore U” ‘s traces still linger; with the lyrics including “adore you,” the song ends with its key phrase/lyrics.

Should the mechanical layer somehow improve, the conclusion would hold a better score, but due to the post-choruses being reused, those impeding aspects carry over and thus, average will hold for the conclusion.

– Line Distribution: 4/10 – 13 members in SEVENTEEN should, assumingly, bring issues with how lines are distributed. Putting aside apprehensive feelings, this category will discover if there are truly any issues (and a rather daunting task that is).

Starting with S. Coups, his section count includes the introduction, second verse, and bridge. Three is his count, and due to the copious amount of members, I will cease adding comments until the end (or near the end).

For Jeonghan, all of the three choruses are possessed. Three is also his count.

Joshua’s lines consist of the second verse. Nothing more or less. One is his count, and depending on the remaining members, this may be an issue.

Jun’s count involves the introduction and second verse. Two will be his number of sections.

In terms of Hoshi, the second verse and two post-choruses were where his lines appeared at. Three is his count, and so far, considering the number of members, it appears a high score is plausible.

The sixth member to be analyzed, Wonwoo, has lines at solely the second pre-chorus. One is his value.

Woozi’s sections includes the three choruses and the three post-choruses. Six, disturbingly, is his count. A disparity is apparent from this.

Gauging DK next, the first verse, the three choruses, and the bridge are his moments. Thus, five is his total.

For Mingyu, and I do apologize for briskly gauging the members, the introduction, two post-choruses, and one pre-chorus are his sections. Four is his count.

The8’s count is not quite an eight, and surprisingly, is far from it: one is his count, of which is at the second verse.

Seungkwan’s spotlight includes the first verse and the bridge. Considering his stunning vocals at the first verse, it is intriguing that he possessed few sections. On topic, two is his count.

For Vernon, the introduction, first pre-chorus, second verse, and bridge, are his sections. As a result, four is his value.

Lastly, for the final member, Dino’s parts are heard at the first pre-chorus. One is his count.

Finally delivering a score for SEVENTEEN, with the perfect distribution being at two or three lines, the group is rather off. Three members possess 3 sections and two members possess 2 sections, and the remainder, four members at 1 section, and two members with 4 sections and one member for 5 sections and 6 sections. With the current large disparity, slightly below average will have to be the rating. Many members are not in the range of two or three sections, and in some cases, relatively far away from such. Accounting for the extremely large group size, this is to be expected.

– Instrumental: 5/10 – Glimpsing at “Adore U” ‘s instrumental, while it is far from horrendous, it is equally distant from being superior.

Mechanically, the beats and bassline provide much: the heavier, slower beats and bass during calmer sections offer a tranquilizing effect, and with the smooth, subtle aspect it possess from manipulating lower pitches, it remains further pleasing. For more upbeat sections, such as the chorus, the deeper bassline and beats still exist, though modified; during the choruses, rather than fully disappearing, the bass and beats adopt a higher pitch, but nonetheless are still apparent. Due to such, the same pleasing traits carry over, but furthermore, are even more suiting. Lastly, tints of electric guitar occur at the post-choruses, and in addition to providing more instruments, it results in an exceptionally fitting tune with the sections’ vocals and flow.

Structurally, more direct flaws are available. While vocals are flawlessly accommodated based on intensity (for example, a calm instrumental exists during the verse, and expectedly a more energetic one for the choruses), in focus of the instrumental itself, the structure is stagnant; the instrumental fails to fluctuate as, for the most part, solely pitch changes occur, but actual change in the instrumental’s form does not. Highlighting an example, for sections that are not the chorus, the same, slower paced soundtrack occurs, and once the chorus plays, it simply alters in pitch. Afterwards, the same style is utilized.

Once factoring in the somewhat unmalleable structure of the instrumental, and furthermore, the mechanical layer as, while the deeper beats and bass are soothing, they become mundane quickly, the instrumental holds averagely. Five will be the score to represent such.

– Meaning: 6/10 – With a song title of “Adore U,” a flirtatious one is in mind. Perhaps the main character is “adoring” their love-interest. But of course, it may not even be a lover they adore, perhaps it is a role model for instance. Ignoring my shameful assumptions, the following Korean-to-English translated lyrics will offer the true plot to “Adore U.” The lyrics are not 100% , but it should be valid enough to discover the song’s story:

Ayo ayo (Seventeen) Yo! You know what?
These days, I have a lot of thoughts
These days, I have so much to tell you (these days)

I feel weird, I’m not talking as much
My friends are all worried (these days)
My heart races only when I’m in front of you
So I’m sorry about my clumsy actions

I still can’t control it
Please don’t play with me
Why are you keeping a front?
I don’t know, I don’t know what will happen

So what I mean is, I want to know all of you
I’ll sing you, yoohoo, I’ll sing you, yoohoo
Even if my lips are dry, I need to say this baby
I adore you, I adore you, enough to get dizzy

Adore you, these days, I (these days)
Adore you, these days, I (these days)

How can you dazzle so much?
You’re so pretty it’s selfish but your personality
is so humble
This is not the place to joke around
I’m announcing the fact about your charms
Is it because I like how you smile at me?
Or do I just seem light to you?
Yeah, if you’re finding a spot
Yeah, right next to me is good
Yeah, I have a lot of interest in you
Even your shoe size, oh oh

I’m on fire right now because of you
It’s impossible to cool me down
I’m on fire right now because of you
I don’t know, I don’t know, it’ll happen somehow

So what I mean is, I want to know all of you
I’ll sing you, yoohoo, I’ll sing you, yoohoo
Even if my lips are dry, I need to say this baby
I adore you, I adore you, enough to get dizzy

Adore you, these days, I (these days)
Adore you, these days, I (these days)

You can lean right here
You can cover your pain with me
Tell me your feelings
Don’t hold back, it’s not enough
Can’t fake it no more
Crank up the speed
Stop playing hard to get
Now let me call you
Baby you are my angel

I want to know all of you
I’ll sing you, yoohoo, I’ll sing you, yoohoo
Even if my lips are dry, I need to say this baby
I adore you, I adore you, enough to get dizzy

Adore you, these days, I (these days)
Adore you, these days, I (these days)

Not too surprisingly, the first guess holds true: a main character, a lady or gentleman, is adoring their love-interest. “Adore U” initiates the story with the main character expressing themself: “These days, I have a lot of thoughts” and “I have so much to tell you.” Both statements are understandable as, jocularly, the main character is “not talking as much,” and thus, “friends are all worried.” Explaining the new, peculiar behavior from the main character, she/he is, if the following word may be used, lovestruck: their “heart races only when [they are] in front of [the love-interest],” hence why the main character has been acting differently. Continuing the story, the main character endlessly shares his feelings of captivation, such as by describing the love-interest and their attractive qualities, and trepidation, as witnessed by their unease of not knowing if the love-interest reciprocates homogenous feelings. Answering why the title is called such, if not blatant enough, the main character very much adores their love-interest, and from such, the title is created.

Although I did not quote many lines from “Adore U,” doing so would have been plausible, and thus, that speaks for much; with the potential to use many lines, it indicates the song is thorough in detail. Many aspects are included in the lyrics, and many lines add new details. Since solely the choruses and post-choruses repeat, every other section possessed new lyrics, and as a result, rather than merely repeating identical ideas as in many songs, more of the plot is uncloaked for interpretation. Especially in a flirtatious, love related story, the lyrics are remarkable. The very minimal and slight issue that prevents a higher score is, overall, though many lines carry their own weight to the story, the overall story is still relatively straightforward as it can be easily summarized with: a main character has a love-interest and is now expressing their worries and affection.

On the positive side, however, slightly above average still holds. At the very least, for a personal note, the lyrics in “Adore U” may be the best I have yet to see in a flirtatious-based song.

– “Critical Corner”: Unlike the past review of Infinite’s “The Chaser,” as linked at the start of the review, there are no urgent issues arising from the lyrics in “Adore U.” Anticipatedly, this bonus section will be skipped over. In juxtaposition to “The Chaser,” the main character here is not obsessive, is attracted for the proper reasons (physical and non-physical beauty, as discussed in past reviews if correct), and focusing on the depicted plot in general, it is a sincerely sweet, adorable one.

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Choreography Score: 7/10 – Although “Adore U” in audio form may be average, the associated visual in terms of the dance is wonderful.

Syncing remains consistent and clearly visible throughout the entire song: for a plethora of incidents, the introduction’s hesitant motions replicate the whispering, the first verse’s choreography connects to spikes in notes, the first pre-chorus’ tunnel movement is based on vocals, and other sections follow through. High accuracy, if not flawless, syncing is discernible in the choreography.

Switching to key points, the dance can be divided into two pieces: dance and story. Dancing is in relation to the choruses and other moments involving rigorous movement, but for the part of story, instances of acting are akin to it. Already, the dance in “Adore U” is unique in the aspect of including acting versus, as a vast majority of K-Pop choreographies are, pure dance. Added skits aid in allowing the choreography to be further diverse, and of course, humor and depth to the lyrics are included. On the subject of diverse, for moments orientated towards usual dancing, variety still flourishes. Especially with 13 members, the choreography does properly and positively exploit such by creating key points that, for the most part, would be nonexistent without a high quantity of members. Examples are the “tunnel” during the pre-choruses and the post-choruses’ formations of having crouched members, and if including the acting, the ability to have a genuine setting of actors.

As a final score, above average will hold for the choreography. Though the song itself scored lower, the dance compensates for much of it.

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Overall Score: 6/10 (6/10 raw score) – And on the note of compensating, for the Overall Score, six is the average of the Song Score and Choreography Score. Therefore, “Adore U” can be considered a slightly above average song in the entire picture of song and performance, and personally, I can agree to it. With this being their first song, much room for further refining is possible, and even at their current stage, the 13 men are already skilled. I will be scouting out for them in the future to gauge how their dancing and singing improve.

Needless to say, I am incredibly thankful to the person who requested this review. Thank you so much for sending in this request. In truth, if it were not for it, I would have never known of SEVENTEEN (and same for the other request of KARA’s “Cupid”; I was utterly oblivious that KARA had a relatively recent comeback of that song). Also, comically put, I am glad that this request was on a male group as many have been wanting such (BTS, another male group, will be reviewed in a week or so), and that said, for readers in general, thank you very much for reading. I heavily appreciate the given time, support, patience, and feedback. I do feel partially guilty for this review, however; although it was not delayed, I do feel that my writing progressively deteriorated as the review continued. As such, I do apologize if the writing becomes horrendous. I am aiming to improve, and thus, I hope for understanding.

Sidetracking to the mentioned point of delays, for consecutive days, I have worked on this review in order to ensure any delay would not occur. Four days was the time span of this review as every day contained a writing session of a few hours (nine or so hours is the total time it took if I am correct). Though I have conducted in further self-discipline, preventing request delays is my main priority. That said, for the upcoming requested review of KARA’s “Cupid,” it will also be finished in a hasty, yet thorough, manner. In fact, a surprise will occur for the review: it will, optimistically, be finished in two or three days, and it will not be in credit to ridiculously staring at a screen for nine hours (not that creating reviews is “ridiculously staring at a screen”; though it is challenging at times, I would never equate writing and reviewing to a tiresome job). Instead, though I had desired to create the outline for a while, it has only been of now that I have found a potential trial: a “Speed Review Version” outline.

Feedback and actual testing will be necessary to truly gauge how it will carry out, but if correct, it will still allow my reviews to be thorough, and in many ways, unchanged. What will be different in the Speed Review Version is that, though my writing will still be detailed, it will be less lengthy. More specifically and being honest, as truthfulness is essential, a certain section (pun may be intended) will be optimized so that reviews are not excessively dragged on. Rather than allocating my stamina and time towards just one chorus, for example, it would be more realistic to give numerical values per sections in a song, as I currently do, but then afterwards, to have an overall, general analysis versus one per section.

Doing this would, in numerous ways, improve my reviews: For once, it would be possible for me to sincerely keep up with songs; many comebacks occur nearly constantly, and sadly, I can cover, at most, perhaps 5% of the more popular group comebacks. With this, at the very least, I could double that and now cover the top 10% popular comebacks, for example. After all, for “Adore U,” two and half days were spent solely on the Sections section. Two and a half. For being one-out-of-five categories, one has taken slightly more than half of the writing. Although it is understandable as a song is, overall, deconstructed at its core via its sections, I am most likely overly prioritizing the analysis. The impact of the Sections category will still hold as I will include each section’s rating, but the analysis is what can be reduced so that more reviews are in place. In short, it is as if I am writing three reviews in one in the context of time; due to how lengthy the Sections category currently is, I could shorten it and condense it (using a tip from my amazing English teacher, sometimes the shortest, compact writings are better than longer ones), and from there, still possess the same message and significance as before, but now, more time exists for other reviews. Overall, however, receiving feedback from readers is what will help direct the blog. I am already in favor of the Speed Review Version and hope, soon enough, it becomes the default review outline, but testing it out and having feedback will be what is preferred and the only way to make a sound choice.

Of course, regardless of what review outline stays or goes, it is always a huge honor and pleasure to be writing. Eight reviews for June is still the goal, and though three-out-of-eight is seemingly low, I will reach the mark of at least seven. Truthfully, shortcuts will be taken in the form of album reviews and even a music video review, but variety would never hurt. Finally ending perhaps the longest conclusion/Overall Score section I have written, thank you very much once again to readers and requesters. KARA’s “Cupid” will be reviewed next and the first test for a new outline. “Even if my lips are dry, I need to say this”: “I adore you, I adore you.” Stay tuned for such and keep checking back.

Infinite – “The Chaser” Review

Infinite – The Chaser (Dance Version)

Infinite – The Chaser

Reviewed on June 14, 2015

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Personal Message: Due to a set schedule, there is some pressure to finish this within three days, but even with deadlines, I am glad to begin what many readers have been desiring: male groups/artists. Infinite’s “The Chaser,” an older song by the men, will be reviewed. Although this song is relatively old, it still holds well and can be considered a highly admirable song. In fact, Infinite in general is an impressive group. Many solid songs have been released (“Last Romeo” has been another song I have personally enjoyed), and for the group’s assets, the seven members prove to be phenomenal singers, rappers, and dancers.  

Focusing on “The Chaser,” in terms of reviews, it has been quite a while since I have last reviewed a song that I personally adore. BESTie’s “Excuse Me,” though reviewed for its music video, and partially, Dal Shabet’s “Joker,” have been notable songs for my preferences, but most prominently, March is when I last reviewed a song I utterly loved: Fiestar’s “You’re Pitiful” (as stated in a few reviews, “You’re Pitiful” is my favorite song as it perfectly and thoroughly suits my taste of music). On topic, while most songs of the late have been “slightly above average” at most, Infinite’s “The Chaser” will, with high confidence, most likely change that trend; “The Chaser” is a very solid song, both in a systematic, logical layer (as the review will show), and on a personal level.

Considering my review rubric is now relatively strict, the latter statement should be noteworthy. Possessing a rigorous guideline is essential to my reviews since, as seen in archaic reviews, the purpose of a music review is to elicit thoughtful discussions, not endless, exaggerated praises. That said, though there are readers at times who do become upset at my ratings (and this being more than disagreeing with me, which is definitely acceptable and what I wish for; I do occasionally receive comments of being “unfair” for lower ratings), I would like to personally request understanding that reviews are meant to bring thinking and criticism, and both are neither bad, and in fact, are rather crucial. Labeling a song as merely “average,” for example, should not be correlated to insulting a group or belittling their potential, but rather, interpreted as an opinion that is backed up with, hopefully, evidence and logic (of which I hope exist for my reviews). Reiterating it once more, my personal goal with reviews is to bring discussions; whether there are conversations of music or even social topics, I hope my writing is not to force opinions, but instead, to open up different opinions and such.

Returning back to Infinite and before embarking on said social topics, I will leave an obligatory compliment: the gentlemen of Infinite are incredibly pretty. Now for those who feel uncomfortable with me complimenting the group’s appearances due to being a male, I will address this topic in another review, but in short, it is pitiful that current masculinity and homophobia shames males praising other males, physical looks related or not. With this scenario, though I am a heterosexual, my sexual orientation should not inhibit me from saying my earlier claim as, blatantly, there is nothing wrong with complimenting people; as a friend said, in many ways, we should all be held accountable to bring positivity to one another, such as in the form of complimenting whatever is worth complimenting. I will address the topic of homophobia in a later review.

Before this Personal Message becomes as incoherent as the one in EXID’s “Ah Yeah” too many digressions occur, though I am rather guilty of praising solely Infinite’s appearances as I lack familiarity with their personalities, as stated, they are very physically beautiful. In the linked video of “The Chaser,” the members showcase exceptionally chic, stylish clothing that I am highly envious of, but furthermore, another very seducing cosmetic: makeup that I am also jealous for. Their makeup, however, is not one of basic, public airing (every male on TV uses foundation and concealer, those are a given), but slightly extra via eye makeup. Anticipatedly (and for those who wish to focus on the musical side of the review, skip to below), for what is necessary of discussion, males using makeup will be the topic. Such as with Infinite or practically every male K-Pop group, the trend of insulting and degrading male idols, or simply males in general, for using makeup will be something to deconstruct on a social level.

Explaining the hatred many male idols or male makeup users face, the idea of “emasculating” takes place: many derogatory terms are utilized, and overall, the idea of not being “masculine,” but instead, “feminine,” serves as the foundation for degrading. As already addressed in multiple reviews, with femininity being considered worse than masculinity, which, obviously, is a highly unfair scale, males using makeup are following femininity (in a Western perspective that is, as to be explained below), and thus, are downgrading socially in rank, and as a final outcome, are now liable to insults since society has collectively decided that femininity is worth hating. A key, contrasting example further highlights this disparity: a female following masculine norms is “upgrading” in a social rank, and therefore, is accepted, but the moment a male follows feminine norms, many are highly repulsed. If equitable standards were in place, a “feminine” male would be equally accepted as a “masculine” female, but with the latter being more valued, the “feminine” male is rejected.

However, besides the pressing issue of how androcentrism establishes hatred towards femininity, there is a cultural layer to makeup: those foreign to Chinese, Japanese, and Korean culture, for examples (I am certain there are way more), associate makeup with femininity, yet in those cultures, makeup is considered both masculine and feminine. After all, though the following words would potentially undermine a lot of my claims and beliefs of removing gender labels, Infinite are perhaps the most “manly” men I have ever seen; their exquisite eye makeup, and sleek, clean fashion are incredibly “masculine” (another review will discuss the terms of “masculine” and “feminine” in depth and whether they should exist or not). Now of course, from a different perspective and culture, the opposite would hold: many would render the men as “girly,” and sadly, that would be connotated as an insult. But, as depicted, it is based on culture, and thus, as an overall point, males using makeup should never be shunned, even if the current culture they are in deems it unsuitable. Male makeup is considered a norm in certain places, and therefore, being culturally accepting should occur, and as for places where it is not a norm, insults that take place is correlated to how femininity is undervalued to masculinity, and in that context, it is still an issue to shame a male for using makeup in those locations as it degrades femininity.

For a future outcome that is to be yearned for, makeup should simply be considered makeup; there should be no terms of “female makeup” or “male makeup” as makeup is simply cosmetics that enhance physical looks, nothing more or less. Gender, or additionally, even sexual orientation, should not play a role as to whether someone will use makeup. If equitable standards were in place, males utilizing makeup would not create the current disturbance it does. For example, if femininity was equal to masculinity, for places where makeup is socialized as feminine, males would not face consequences as no “downgrading” would exist. In terms of sexual orientation, if equity was in place so that every sexual orientation was valued, makeup would not be automatically associated with homosexual males since, strangely, homosexual males equates to femininity, of which is considered a low status (as explained). Furthermore, however, with the lack of equity for sexual orientations in general, it allows improper stereotypes to thrive in order to devalue those who are not heterosexual; by not being a heterosexual, certain types of behavior, often time displeasing, exaggerated ones, will be automatically assumed when, obviously, heterosexuals do not possess their own exaggerated and offensive stereotypes. A future review will dive into a discussion of sexual orientation.  

That said, focusing back on makeup, similar to EXID’s Hani idea of “no filters,” to be intimate and truthful to readers, as hinted in past reviews, I am familiar with makeup, even if society socializes the norm that heterosexual males should not be. Though I currently do not actively use makeup, I do plan on doing so in the future (or perhaps even sooner). Also, admittedly, I have more knowledge of makeup products than, for example, standard “masculine” tasks; given the task of applying makeup or fixing a car, I would not hesitate to choose the initial option (I sincerely have no idea on how to repair vehicles and hope a future wife will handle that I eventually learn in the future).

Expanding on my personal digression, many have been curious on why I would use makeup, and relating this review, a simple answer exists: to look nice, the same reason as to why Infinite members, or anyone, would use makeup. There is no issue with desiring to look as stunning as the men (their makeup serves as a prime example for mine), but due to attached social layers with makeup, as briefly discussed earlier, the act of using makeup as a male carries repercussions. Nevertheless, though I am highly aware of the given dangers I would face in America (if I lived in, for example, South Korea, this would not be an issue at all), if I must receive public bashing so that femininity is equal to masculinity, and overall, tolerance and understanding occur, those are risks I am willing to accept.

Too many subtle issues exist in the lens of gender (and with other areas), and though my use of makeup is moreover to enhance physical appearances, the social connotations I would deliver, intended or not, are necessary: the phrase, “be a man,” would be challenged, a toxic concept that definitely needs to be critically analyzed (will discuss this in another review); with being a heterosexual, I would showcase that makeup is not a shameful, pitiful application that homosexual men use, but rather, one that is for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation since all orientations are equally worthy; and all in all, the act of using makeup when I could easily slip by without it since, due to male privilege, bluntly and jocularly put, being physically hideous is acceptable, would be my method to remove my personal privileges of being a heterosexual and a male. And of course, it would be rather amazing for my two future daughters to be able to reply, “Oh, my dad,” to a question of “Who did your makeup?” during special occasions.

Leaving an overall final message, though I am certain many readers are not entirely surprised at my personal news since, quite clearly, this is a K-Pop review blog, and therefore, many should be familiar with male groups using makeup due to Korean (pop) culture, I do hope a slightly deeper understanding on this social phenomenon is gleaned. Sadly, it is not rare to hear exceptionally derogatory remarks made to male idols from those who lack knowledge with cultures that embrace makeup as gender neutral, and thus, I hope, at the very least, I was able to shed light on exactly why that hatred occurs.

Considering this Personal Message has ran its course (I applaud those who do read this, and of course, I hope a personal opinion is created regarding this topic, whether it agrees or disagrees with my opinion), it will now be time to focus on Infinite and “The Chaser” in a musical sense. With Fiestar’s “You’re Pitiful” being the last song I highly enjoyed, I am ecstatic to find another song that meets a high standard. Or at least, it will be hoped it reaches a higher mark in a numerical context, as the review will show.

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Song Score: 7/10 (7.4/10 raw score) – “Above average”

– Vocals: 8/10 – Confessedly, I am not utterly familiar with the member’s individual singing talents, but regardless, based on “The Chaser and “Last Romeo,” Infinite definitely possess higher tier vocals. Peering at the rappers, both Dongwoo and Hoya deliver direct, fluent vocals for their parts. Feebleness or hesitant, pausing voices are nonexistent, all of which are generally unwanted traits in raps. Slightly higher-end rapping vocals are granted due to the two.

In focus of the regular vocalists, Sungyeol, L, and Sungjong showcase, overall, average vocals, or most optimistically, slightly above average ones. Their lines, though to be discussed in depth at the Sections, possess an awkward sound: roboticness. The disclosed lower notes may be pleasing in the sense of note range, but the robotic style in which the three sing is not impressive. Vocals are partially hindered by such, and even with the desirable lower notes, this aspect does not become overlooked.

Nevertheless, Infinite’s vocals are still to a high caliber for “The Chaser,” and it is rather doubtful that the rappers’ vocals are the reason. For the two remaining members, the group’s main vocalists, Sunggyu and Woohyun, and in truth, Infinite as a whole, the vocals from the two and the group’s unison singing are outstanding. Focusing on Sunggyu and Woohyun, many respectable aspects occur: high power, and an exceptionally lively melody due to their utilized notes, pacings, and other components. As for the mentioned unison singing, similar traits as in the main vocalists return, but for what remains distinctive, further emphasis towards power exists.

If correct, it has been a while since a high score has been granted for Vocals, but Infinite redresses such via earning an eight. The vocals in “The Chaser” are, simply put, good. Multiple, flourishing traits allow the given vocals to remain musically enchanting and diverse.  

– Sections: 7/10 (7/10 raw score)

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

1. Introduction: 7/10 – The introduction is solely the instrumental. For a side note, I have officially graduated, and thus, this review is four days behind as I have taken a short break to celebrate (though one day was helping with technology). To describe my feelings, as I have stated to many, for an encapsulating word: bittersweet.

Before completely digressing (I will return to this at the end if I remember to), focusing back on “The Chaser,” for the mechanical component of the introduction, it remains enticing. Diving into its specific aspects, the given beats provide a rhythmic, pleasing flow, and furthermore, the unique electronic-based sounds allow the introduction to thrive with a lively and energetic melody. Tints of electric guitar also aid in refining the instrumental’s melody. For another strong point, though akin to the structural side, the duration of the introduction benefits the section: the introduction remains sufficiently lengthy as to allow the soundtrack to thoroughly develop and unfold, but it is also not excessively long so that the soundtrack becomes overly dragged. Elaborating, if the length was any shorter, it would be highly unlikely for the instrumental to naturally progress and disclose its melody as the instrumental would be compacted, and conversely, if any longer, much of the instrumental’s current charms would fade out and become detrimental as it would be overplayed.   

On the subject of the structure, even under the pessimistic perception of the mechanical layer being slightly basic, this component holds well enough to compensate (but the mechanical side is still solid itself).  In terms of setting the song’s atmosphere, “The Chaser” ‘s introduction easily does so. It becomes blatant that the song is one of upbeatness, and this idea is unveiled via the electronic sounds instantly offering their melody, the beats immediately giving off the song’s general rhythm, and by the traces of electric guitar arriving shortly after the prior two. Furthermore, the overarching tone of an electronic-based song is, clearly, given right from the start. Gauging another crucial trait to the introduction, as is the general role of an introduction, attracting and hooking in listeners is a job to meet, and “The Chaser” manages such. Notably, solely the instrumental is used, and thus, while this may seem minor, it does have a considerable effect as listeners now anticipate the missing layer: vocals. No singing is given, and with an energetic, upbeat instrumental, many would become interested in how the vocals would follow suit. Therefore, in this context, the introduction potently accomplishes its role of luring in listeners.

Above average would be fitting for a score. The mechanical layer remains melodic and, if correctly stated, dramatic, and the structural layer holds impressively due to excellent delivery of style, and more importantly, how well it attracts listeners.

2. Verse: 7/10 – For the verses, before listing who remains in charge of the them, to clarify, while there could technically be a pre-chorus section (“could” is more likely “is”), for simplicity sake and consistency, I will consider it all as verses. The current pre-choruses adopt the verses’ style for the most part, and overall, simply labeling it all as verses would be more coherent. Finally listing the members responsible for the verses, specifically with the first, Sunggyu, L, Sungjong, and Hoya are the ones. For the second verse, Sungyeol and Woohyun, and lastly, for the final verse (not including the conclusion), Sunggyu handles it alone.  

Addressing the sonic component to the verses, though practically all three variate, a general aspect holds: lower, rhythmic singing. This proves effective as a soothing quality is attached, and furthermore, with the rest of the song being in higher pitches, the verses allow “The Chaser” as a whole to possess variety in terms of the song’s pitch ranges. Now, though hearing the lower notes is pleasing, the vocals’ style and delivery are a bit weaker: a nasally, robotic-like demeanor is showcased during the verses. While the pitch of the singing remains unchanged from this style, it does hinder the verses as a monotonous tune becomes established, and thus, a dynamic melody is absent. Nevertheless, it is not entirely impairing, and towards the end of verses, standard, lively singing does occur to redress the earlier monotone vocals.

For the structural side, similar to the introduction, even if the first layer is underwhelming, this component can be considered solid. Progression, for example, is one promising feature. Verses begin with lower notes, but gradually, the notes becomes higher, and in addition, quickening paces of lyrics and even instrumental occur. Furthermore, the final line provided a finishing touch via a crisp, clean and prominent line. Due to this setup, the verses remain versatile; as the usual verse, it allows the song to progress, but in terms of the missing sections, the pre-choruses, though transparent pre-choruses lack, the role of transitioning to the chorus is still met in credit to the verses becoming invigorated in a gradual manner. As for another significant point, the verses are highly diverse. Though this may be due to overly generalizing sections as all verses, all of them variate from the other; no verses are the same. The second one, as an example, remains more higher pitched and fast paced, and for an opposite case, the final verse takes the route of being exceptionally passive. Once accounting for each verse’s uniqueness, high appeal is garnered from such.

Above average once more returns. Although the vocals are moreover average, the structural side of having individuality per verse and flawless progression allows the sections to flourish overall.

3. Chorus: 8/10 – Arguably the most captivating part of “The Chaser.” Infinite as a whole sings for them, though for a few choruses Sunggyu and Woohyun both have solo spotlight.

Mechanically, many factors are worth praising: the power, melody, flow, pacing, for a few. Overall, the choruses in “The Chaser” are fantastic. Deconstructing the attributes, the men display a highly dynamic and flowing melody. In contrast to the verses, the utilized pitches are higher, but additionally, with the constant use of note stretches, extra emphasis and accentuation occurs for the melody; the sung lines are seemingly even more harmonious since a longer duration exists, and with the pacing being more complex than standard, linear words, the melody also has more flow. As for the mentioned trait of power, with all seven members contributing, vastly impactful vocals are gleaned. Combined with the melodic note stretches, the added layer of power simply refines the vocals to an even higher merit. Summarized, the mechanical layer unveils impressive vocal skills that are exceptionally seducing.

Miraculously, the choruses are also captivating in the realm of its structure. Meeting the traditional role of a chorus is seen via the section serving as a climactic point in the song, as distinguished by its intensity of high notes and power, and of course, the unison singing. Ignoring this characteristic, for the more pressing points, homogeneous to the verses, multiple versions of the chorus exist: unison ones, a mixture of solo and unison, and even more in depth, each chorus maintains its own exclusiveness in terms of intensity, pacing, and other musical aspects. As a result, appeal endlessly cycles as every chorus possesses its own charms.

With splendid singing and an equally impressive structural side, this score will be on the higher side. The choruses in “The Chaser” are solid.

4. Rap: 7/10 – Rap sections are conducted by, as hinted in the Vocals section, both Dongwoo and Hoya.

Before elaborating on the duo’s vocals, peering at the structural layer to the rapping sections, the raps perfectly blend in with “The Chaser.” Considering the placement of the raps is after the choruses, a section that is rather intensive and energetic, the raps are able to easily continue the trend; raps are generally faster paced, and overall, relatively energetic, and thus, in the scenario of “The Chaser” ‘s choruses, the rapping sections can be rendered equal to the choruses in terms of intensity. The outcome from the raps’ placement is a proper, smooth and seamless transition from chorus and eventually back into a verse. Therefore, the rapping sections deserve much credit for this subtle detail. Glancing at the raps themselves, Dongwoo and Hoya’s raps maintain variety through fluctuation of pacing and power; the two’s rapping alter in speed so that lines are not linear, and for power, different portions carry different levels of emphasis and presence.

And with pacing and power stated, those traits carry their benefits for the mechanical layer. Multiple pacings and adapting surges of power allow the raps to constantly remain enticing musically as there are no moments of staleness. Also, for another gained positive side, the melody is able to thrive due to the rap being malleable. If the raps were straightforward, the melody would have to replicate such, but with the rap adopting an adapting concept, the melody would have to be equally dynamic to follow suit. Lastly, the rappers’ vocals deserve highlight for stability; despite the constant fluctuations and changes, the vocals consistently prevail with quick, melodic rapping.

Another high score will anticipatedly be given. Above average returns. The sonic piece along with the structural are both respectable. Solid rapping is in place.

5. Conclusion (Verse): 6/10 – If correct, this may be the shortest Sections I have yet to write (though not complaining as this review is multiple days behind and I am forcing myself to finish it in one session). On topic, with the conclusion, Infinite as a group concludes the song.

Unfortunately, the streak of higher scores does come to an end. In terms of the conclusion’s sonic side, though the vocals emulate the first verse’s singing, there is a significant change: the instrumental is ramped up as if it were at the chorus, and similarly, the vocals are also more hyped. An absurd contrast spawns from this pairing as the singing takes the form of lower noted, tedious and robotic-like vocals, but the overall tone creates expectancy of standard, intenser singing, such as the one at the choruses. Thus, with this, the mechanical layer does falter from the created contrast.

Positively, however, concluding the song is still accomplished. Duration plays a critical role as the conclusion allows “The Chaser” to naturally fade slowly rather than forcing an abrupt, harsh ending. Rather than entirely stripping the song’s intensity, playing it out in a very slightly calmer fashion, and ultimately, using a distinctive closing mark, as given by the final, consecutive beats, allows the song to end properly and smoothly.

Unlike the prior scores, this one does partially fall. Slightly above average will hold. Accounting for the difficult task of ending “The Chaser” properly, the song does do so, though it could have been more musically pleasing.

– Line Distribution: 9/10 – Seven members are in Infinite, and since the group’s quantity does not live up to its name is nothing unusual, ignoring questionable attempts at humor, I foresee a decent score.

Beginning with the group’s leader, Sunggyu, his lines are at the first verse, the second chorus, and the third verse. Three sections is his count, and with his role of being one of the main vocalists, this number is welcoming. No issues should exist on his part.

For the next member, Dongwoo, his spotlight appears at solely his rap, and thus, one will be his numerical count. Assuming the rest of the members provide a bridge between him and Sunggyu, no severe problem will be in place, though admittedly one for a count is rather low.

Continuing with the rapping members, for Hoya, his lines are at his rap sections, as expected, but also at the first verse due to his single contributed line. Two will be his count, and thus, assuming the remaining members balance out, current disparities should be minor.

Woohyun, Infinite’s other main vocalist, has his sections at the second verse and the final chorus. Two, like Hoya, will be his numerical value. As of now, there will be no problems.

Sungyeol’s lines consist of the second verse. Strangely, that is all, though considering Dongwoo also had one section, this should not be a pressing matter. Nevertheless, a final check will confirm.

For L, one section is also his value as the first verse was his spotlight. If the remaining member also contributes a one, the current disparity may prove menacing.

Sungjong does, sadly, contribute to the disparity as the first verse is his sole section. Since a few members are in the higher range and many are in the lower range, the discrepancy may cost the Line Distribution score.

Delivering an overall score for their distribution, even with the unison singing occurring, there is a notable imbalance: one member possesses three sections; four members possess one section; two members possess two sections. With the average, perfect distribution being one or two lines, against my personal concerns, the current distribution is not overly split. If Sunggyu lost one line, the group would be perfect as four members would have two sections and the remaining three members with one. In this perspective, a higher score will be granted. Nine will hold well as the group nearly meets a perfect share of sections.

– Instrumental: 8/10 – Focusing on the instrumental in “The Chaser,” many genres would be viable: pop, electronic, and rock. Though the accurate label would be pop since, obviously, “The Chaser” carries a prominent K-Pop tone, in terms of how those descriptions translate into the song’s instrumental, for the mechanical layer, the instrumental is quite diverse. Focusing on the three main qualities, the electronic sounds grant “The Chaser” its overarching atmosphere and melody; the “pop” in “The Chaser” derives from such, and the electronic sounds provides the main melody in which the song follows. Furthermore, despite being electronic-based, it retains a rather melodic trait versus being that of catchiness. As for the electric guitar, it provides an irreplaceable role to the instrumental’s mechanical layer: transitions are granted from such (will be more addressed in the structural side), and for moments of intensity, the electric guitar utterly suits those times along with simply providing its own delightful, rigorous tune.

For the structural layer, returning to the mentioned topic of transitions, for “The Chaser” in its entirety, the instrumental provides the usual foundation of creating clear transitions between sections. Other roles are also met, such as properly syncing to the vocals. Sections with calmer, slower singing, such as the verses, for example, are met with a soundtrack that is also promoting an identical trend. With that, variety is also gleaned for the soundtrack as it alternates between more passive segments and more active ones.

Surprisingly, a higher score will be in place. The instrumental fulfills its standard roles, but for what is most extraordinary, the mechanical layer is exceptional. Diversity appears, and overall, the instrumental is extremely mechanically enchanting with its unique traits and excellent meshing with vocals.

– Meaning: 5/10 – It is midnight as of the time I am writing this sentence, and thus, I do hope my writing does not progressively worsen to the point of incoherence. Focusing on “The Chaser,” and humorously, exactly on “The Chaser” in terms of the title, the song does spark questions: what will the plot be, and who, or what, is “the chaser.” Ending hopeless inquiries, to deliver an answer to the song’s meaning, the following Korean-to-English translations will provide such. As repeated in all reviews, the given lyrics are certainly not 100% accurate. In fact, a few lines are technically untranslatable; after asking a friend, she clarified that a few lines at the verses are, simply put, cheers versus that of actual words and meaning. Therefore, rough translations of those cheers will be given:

Don’t be sorry, you can abandon me spitefully and leave
If that’s what you want, yeah, goodbye
But that doesn’t mean I have given up too
My love wins
Let’s go, go first, carry on
Be strong, I will win her back
Even if you’re ahead for a bit, I will catch up

Protect her, so she won’t forget me
I will go till the end to the place where my person is

Forget it, I knelt down and beat my heart
that paused in front of the words of separation
Go away, I drag myself, who is burnt with sadness
that is like rotten firewood
Why is your cooled heart making my heart race
and wander every day?
I’m calling you, making myself stronger with love

Let’s go, go first, carry on
Be strong, I will win her back
Even if I’ll hurt for a bit, I will smile once again

Protect her, so she won’t forget me
I will go till the end to the place where my person is
Narrow the streets so I can catch you
I will risk everything to find my person

Yes, I tried to cast you out with a spiteful heart
As I trampled on my instincts,
my obsession toward you became faint
And I’m calling it all love once again
Again today, I can’t let you go or cut you out
As if I’m possessed, I chase after you, who is filled in my eyes

I’m sorry girl, I don’t ever want to let go of the line that is you
But it’s okay because I will turn back your heart
It’s not a big deal even if my heart is ripped apart

Protect her, so she won’t forget me
I will go till the end to the place where my person is
My heart is like that, I only know one thing
So even though it is bent and in pain, it will love you

Don’t be sorry, you can abandon me spitefully and leave
If that’s what you want, yeah, goodbye
But that doesn’t mean I have given up too

Returning to the lyrics after pitifully sleeping after all, “The Chaser” depicts a main character who, based on one of Infinite’s interviews, is in despair over love (for a side note, I find it interesting that, from the group’s interpretation, the same main character is used for all of their songs; essentially, all of their songs are of this fictional character and thus, a somewhat thorough story does exist). Offering an overarching summary, the main character had their love-interest “abandon” him, and now, in response, he is unable to find peace as his heart continually chases her, hence the title of “The Chaser.”

Providing a deeper perspective to the lyrics, the main character accepts his love-interest’s abandonment; after all, he claims: “Don’t be sorry, you can abandon me spitefully and leave. If that’s what you want, yeah, goodbye.” Nevertheless, despite a more mature outward appearance, on the inside, he “has not given up,” and after cheering himself on, vows to “win her back,” from supposedly, another person who is “ahead” of the main character (the Critical Corner will discuss this idea, and the upcoming one, in much depth). As such, the boy begs his love-interest’s current partner to “protect her, so she won’t forget [him]” and that he will “go till the end to the place where my person is,” even if she is already with someone else. Other details are included, especially the raps of thoroughly describing his feelings, but overall, simplistically, “The Chaser” merely sheds a story of a boy losing his love-interest, and as a result, is now figuratively “chasing” her to win her love back since his affection for her is relentless.

Though I do adore the raps for being compact yet incredibly detailed, the remaining lyrics are overly basic, and for the story as a whole, the same applies. Thus, average will sadly be the score. The musical component to  “The Chaser” may be phenomenal, but the lyrics do not equally hold to the previous standards.

– “Critical Corner”: Now to have fun with the lyrics, while this section will not influence the score, it would be ignorant and pitiful to ignore the deeper, critical messages of the song. First, the concept of “winning her back” (or “him,” though it is usually “her,” as will be explained later) is one that needs to be challenged and analyzed closely. Harshly stated, for the more blatant layer, if someone fails to reciprocate equal feelings, rather than attempting to “win” them back as if they were trophies, moving on and proceeding with life would be the more realistic route. Jocularly, even the men of Infinite have stated a similar idea to this recurring main character: “[The main character] is really desperate.”

Diving into the more serious subject, the lyrics in “The Chaser” are not foreign; the concept of “winning” love-interests, most prominently done by males, is one that is rather rife. This is not a mistake; males have been socialized to view themselves as superior, and these acts of “flirting” merely perpetuate that standard, even if unintended or unrecognized. Explaining, too often males view dating as not an intimate bond and connection, but instead, a game: dating is about “owning” and “winning” a lady, not having genuine love and compassion. This is seen in “The Chaser” via the male character attempting to win her back from her current partner, almost as if she were a trophy or toy to be tossed around. Instead of viewing and respecting her and her current relationship, the male character views her as, stated earlier, a game of “winning” her love, not a human. Furthemore, if not explicit yet on how a poor standard exists, the “protecting” piece will showcase the current issue blatantly.

While many would argue it is romantic to feel “safe” because of a partner, I would argue that the “safe” in this context should not be of physical protection, but rather, one of emotional and financial stability. Manipulating an example, to use myself in a hypothetical situation, I will conjure up the idea that I have a girlfriend. She, however, is rather protective, and of course, utilizing society’s standards, it will be considered that she is romantic by doing so. After all, if any females happen to touch me, or in fact, speaks with me, she would exclaim “hands off, he’s mine,” and from there, proceed with physically harming those females who interacted with me. Quite sweet. If my sarcasm has yet to be picked up, this scenario will sound familiar. Even from the female’s perspective, the same concept applies: a boy is protective and harms every other male that interacts with said female. 

This, sadly, once deconstructed, is far from romance. I would not desire my hypothetical girlfriend to harm other females. (Now, in the very rare incidents of needing actual protection from a partner, that falls within a standard category of safety, and thus, to clarify, this scenario I am discussing is one where a partner feels the constant need to protect.) Furthermore, besides the issue of safety of others, there is a very clear, pressing issue from this behavior: ownership. If I had a partner who acted aggressively in attempts to “protect” me, in truth, it would not be her displaying care and affection and therefore protection, but sadly, ownership of me. Therefore, the protection concept, as seen in the song, is not one of romance, it is of dominance and possession, and with how society socializes genders, males are often time the ones performing said “protecting.” Clarifying once more, if a situation arises for genuine protection, that is a different context, and of course, it is not harmful to have a partner feel even  more romantic for giving a protecting vibe as long as it does not extend to the point of control and ownership, and that genuine love, respect, and care are established as the primary, largest romantic aspects.  

I will link my review on “Channel Fiestar” for those curious on related topics. Sexism (and other oppressions), disturbingly, does appear even in the realm of dating, and thus, I urge readers to constantly bear a critical, open mind. The “romantic” lyrics in “The Chaser,” once stripped to its core, are not full of love and affection, but instead, ones that are filled with the identical, inequitable standards of society: males are to dominant females and are to act superior. Thus, this is why the “Critical Corner” exists, to showcase to readers why being wary and critical is vital. Rather than having listeners continue to perpetuate the scenario in “The Chaser,” being critical allows the truth to be seen, and as a result, to cease the endless cycle of female objectification, and overall, to begin a more humane route. After all, if males were taught gender equitable ideas and ushered such, “winning” females would halt, and instead, sincere affection would take place. It is frustrating to witness boys become enraged and obsessive at females for “leading them on” when, once critically deciphered, gender inequities are to blame for this type of behavior (a “win” relationship causes this reaction; after “investing” so much into a female as if she were a machine, the output would be a relationship, but with females being humans and thus not following through, males negatively react as they are taught they would receive a “win,” a date).

Before finally closing this section, on the subject of “leading on,” for readers who have had this incident, male or female (though as stated, it generally falls towards females as males are the ones socialized as the “better” gender), guilt should never occur. There is no obligation to play a shameful game of dating, and therefore, “repaying” their kindness, and more accurately, exaggerated kindness of subtle sexism, is not ever necessary (and the topic of “friendzone” does come to mind, though I will redirect readers to the linked review of “Channel Fiestar” for more depth).

As an overall point, human decency should always be in place. Never should a person be “owned” in a relationship. Equitable standards need to be pushed for as, without it, constant harassment in the specific scenario of flirting and dating will forever occur.

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Choreography Score: 8/10 – Leaving a comical comment, I do wish the writing that takes place when I am digressing on social topics occurs for when I am writing in a musical lens. Ignoring this, for a lens that is not of musical but rather visual, the choreography of “The Chaser” is splendid.

Every movement in “The Chaser” syncs to a musical component via the beats or even flow. For examples, the verses’ dance connect to the slower, heavier beats with similar paced motions, but for the choruses, a more hyped and powerful dance occurs to reciprocate the song’s intensity. With high precision apparent for the group’s syncing, the choreography becomes stunning and visually alluring.

As for the key points, the choreography remains properly complex; it is neither too simple or too perplexing. Every section utilizes a different formation from the other, and even on the inner levels of the same section (chorus, verse), each one still differs. Like the choruses in the song utilizing different versions per chorus, the dance is also unique per each one, and thus, high appeal is in place as many dances are new. Adding on, though related to the category of syncing, every key point proves fitting for its accommodating sonic component. Utilizing a visible example, for the second chorus with the members kneeling down, in addition to providing new, diverse key points, it also renders as perfectly suiting considering the song did indeed possess a pause.

With a very powerful, beautiful, energetic and reflective dance, a higher score will be gained. “The Chaser” manages to contain a dance is as equally charming as the song, if not even more.

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Overall Score: 8/10 (7.5/10 raw score) – With the average being rounded up to an eight, it signifies “The Chaser” is a solid song, one worthy of praise. Personally, I do agree to it, and in fact, the Song Score would have been even more than “above average” if the lyrics were slightly better. Nevertheless, as stated much earlier, “The Chaser” is a highly admirable song, and one I have personally very much enjoyed.

With the end being here, I will leave an apology of a delayed review. This time, however, it is not due to freely slacking off, but as mentioned, I did graduate from high school, and thus, had to spend a day doing so and afterwards I did decide to relax a bit. Eight reviews is still in mind, and with six left, I will optimistically claim it is still possible to do so, though admittedly shortcuts will be taken in the form of album reviews if need be. I have received two requests, and I will hurriedly begin and publish them quite soon. There are readers who do genuinely desire to read my writing, and thus, with that, thank you for reading this review, and for the requesters, thank you for sending in requests. Huge motivation exists from such, and of course, knowing people are willing to spend time to read my reviews is a high honor I am exceptionally grateful for.

Before forgetting, to address a bit on how I do feel about graduating, I am excited for university, and for those curious, I may track my experience with it via posts (or at least for those who are anxious for their own year, I will be able to offer my upcoming experience in a question-and-answer). It is a new experience that I am welcoming, and knowing it is the start to beginning a future career path that I do feel passionately for, I am excited. However, for what I do feel sorrowful about, I will miss teachers, professor and classmates, but of course, visits will occur (and the factor of student teaching), and overall, though I may not see those I miss often, it is better to cherish the positives of the growth and maturity they helped me gain. I cannot express enough thanking for my teachers and professor.

As for one final side note, a few more subtitled videos are coming. Particularly those fans of Fiestar, I have two videos for uploading (one left in fact), and therefore, I do hope they are enjoyable. Also, before entirely finishing, I will leave another apology: the writing and analysis in this review was poor. Infinite’s “The Chaser” is an excellent song, and while I gave proper enlightenment of such through the ratings, explaining so is not as solid. The two upcoming requested reviews will redress this.

Thank you once more for reading this review. SEVENTEEN’s “Adore U” will be released between two to four days, and after that review, KARA’s “Cupid” will follow suit with a similar timeline as well. Once those are finished, assuming no other requests are sent, I will perhaps add multiple album reviews for the sake of time, and if dedication is truly with me, a show review may also be done. “I will go till the end to the place where my person is,” of whom are readers, and though “my heart is like that, I only know one thing”: “it will love you.” Stay tuned for the upcoming review of “Adore U,” and for, hopefully, less cringe-inducing conclusions.