TWICE – “Likey” Review

(Music Video) / (Dance Practice)

TWICE – Likey

Reviewed on March 21, 2018

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Unlike the group of TWICE songs where both composition and vocal execution are both questionable, “Likey” holds as vocally decent and definitely strong with its composition.

Continue reading “TWICE – “Likey” Review”

Day6 – “I Smile” Review

(Music Video)

Day6 – I Smile

Reviewed
on August 2, 2017

Initially,
I did find it a weaker song but after spending more time analyzing it—and thus,
perhaps the delay was worthwhile—I found its composition to be quite effective
and even creative. Specifically for what this review will cover, I will first
actually explain why I and perhaps others might find “I Smile” problematic.
Afterwards, however, I will then explain why “I Smile” can be argued as a
stronger song and that the seemingly weak aspects are actually quite effective
and beneficial.

Personal Message:
There is a lot to discuss—both in
terms of the slight delays but also in term of songs to review. Nevertheless, I
do want to directly apologize once again to readers and requesters for being
slightly behind schedule. I have been busy practicing driving (and of which I
can finally do even if at a rookie level) but also, my girl (my dog to clarify)
had a stomach ache yesterday and thus I have been watching over her. On the
positive side, she is feeling better and in terms of reviews, August is the
month where I really prepare for university again and therefore it means
developing appropriate habits once more: sleeping early and waking up early;
having a set goal of writing every day; and so forth. For what I am also quite
excited about, GFriend’s comeback is a rather solid song and definitely redeems
“Fingertip” as, in my argument, it was a weaker song. (That said, I will credit
their company for taking the risk of changing GFriend’s conceptual style for “Fingertip.”
Conceptual changes can definitely be helpful as it allows artists to branch out
musically and with their dancing.) I will definitely be reviewing it promptly
after catching up on requests.

On topic with the review, this
request was sent in quite a long time ago and I greatly apologize for not
getting to it until now. Again, with the mentioned personal events I do hope it
is understood on why there is a delay—though to be fair, I did spend a lot of
free time watching Idol Drama Operation
Team
versus writing (and indeed I will be reviewing that show and its
resulting drama). Regarding Day6’s “I Smile,” this song has definitely been a
fascinating one to review. Initially, I did find it a weaker song but after
spending more time analyzing it—and thus, perhaps the delay was worthwhile—I
found its composition to be quite effective and even creative. Specifically for
what this review will cover, I will first actually explain why I and perhaps
others might find “I Smile” problematic. Afterwards, however, I will then
explain why “I Smile” can be argued as a stronger song and that the seemingly
weak aspects are actually quite effective and beneficial.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 6/10
(5.50/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion: 6/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 6/10

It has been a while
I didn’t think you would call first
“If you’re free, let’s meet up”
How can I say no to that?

It’s half excitement, half fear
Because what if you notice,
that I still miss you?

But today, I smile
Even though it hurts, I smile
In front of you
I pretend that I’m fine
I pretend that I’m okay
I have to
I smile, I smile
So once in a while
We can meet with a smile
I must smile, I smile

You’re the same
Your smile is still so pretty

Really,
if I could be honest
I would ask you to come back to me
right away

But today, I smile
Even though it hurts, I smile
In front of you
I pretend that I’m fine
I pretend that I’m okay
I have to
I smile, I smile
So once in a while
We can meet with a smile
I must smile, I smile

(Oh whoa, oh whoa)
After we say goodbye
My smile will disappear

But today, I smile
Even though it hurts, I smile
Until the end
I pretend that I’m fine
I pretend that I’m okay
I have to
I smile, I smile
So once in a while
We can meet with a smile
I must smile, I smile

[Conclusion instrumental]

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Onto
the review, admittedly the main focus will surprisingly not be on the song’s
entirety at all; our main focus will instead be on the song’s choruses. This
can definitely come off as odd especially for those curious on how the verses
and pre-choruses and the like are functioning, but I find that what truly
brings an interesting discussion are the choruses and hence why I would like to
primarily focus on them. Besides, in terms of what can be noted regarding the
other sections, it is that every other section is arguably structured in a way
so that the choruses are indeed the song’s main highlight and presence. We can
see this in how the pre-choruses and verses are rather minimal in length, and
that most of their effects are orientated around building up the song to reach
the choruses—hence the shorter lengths and why the instrumental is
exceptionally passive until the choruses hit.  

Now
regarding an actual discussion on the choruses, I did mention that there are
some potential problems in this song and indeed it mostly comes down to the
choruses. Before discussing, though, why I think the choruses are actually
quite effective and are actually not problematic, it would first be helpful to
approach the choruses in a more negative manner. Specifically for what may
deter listeners, we have to acknowledge that the choruses are seemingly
disorganized and seem to lack a direction. For example, what is most peculiar
is how the vocals are not directly connected to the instrumental. While the
vocals are delivering a seamless line, the instrumental instead opts to deliver
in a rhythmic, wave-like manner. This can be most prominently heard by how the
bass and drums come in a pattern where the songs are strong but diminishing
over time and such a cycle repeats. On the other hand, the vocals do not follow
that manner at all and instead follow a more standard style of merely flowing
out. Especially as Day6 is a pop rock band, it would be expected that the
instrumental during the choruses would merely increase in intensity and supplement
the vocals rather than, as is, contrasting the vocals. (In fact, a simple
listening at “I’m Serious” showcases the traditional pop rock format—barring
the unique vocal editing that is done. But, that is a discussion for another
time.) Furthermore, this problem is further emphasized when the latter half of
the choruses arrives: the vocals and instrumental are even more divisive. This
occurs due to how the vocals follow a linear, belting style and yet the instrumental
continues to instead focus on being based on a rigid rhythm.

And
so, we now come to the supposed problem of “I Smile”: the choruses seem to be
performing two tasks and once and do not have a clear focus at all. After all,
in a more typical pop rock song, the instrumental and vocals would be
complementing each other and working as one unit rather than, in “I Smile” ‘s
case, as two units. The vocals aim to deliver a smooth, clean style while the
instrumental delivers a more rigid, rhythm-based style. All that said, I do
disagree that this is problematic: I find that if we focus merely on stylistic
differences then this argument would hold, but once we start understanding the context of what occurs, then will we
come to a different answer. And of course this holds true for all songs: just
because in a section not all the components are working as one unit does not
mean it is automatically bad; it all depends on the context. (Though to briefly
spoil an upcoming review, there are still instances where indeed the “lack of a
direction” can be very detrimental and that is what I argue is the case for EXO’s
latest comeback song.) But on topic, let us now view the choruses in a
different manner.

I
argue the choruses are quite effective despite its odd, contrasting nature
because we have to notice what the instrumental is actually offering to the
song. The instrumental does not have its own objective but rather we could
interpret it as the composers using the instrumental to further build upon the
song and vocals. While the vocals are taking place, the instrumental’s
stronger, rhythm form could be viewed as a way of building up the song akin to, for example, a pre-chorus does—though
obviously this is occurring within the choruses themselves. The slower nature
of the instrumental, then, is almost as if it is working as a staircase for the
song and vocals to climb even further up in terms of intensity and hype. This
would also then explain why the choruses are noticeably split into two forms:
the first half and second half. The second half also now ends up feeling more
logical as, while the instrumental still does sharply contrast the vocals by
still working in waves, the instrumental during the second half is distinctly
calmer and reduces the song’s excitement. It is like, if we are to continue
using the staircase analogy, a staircase that goes down rather than up. Overall, with this view of the instrumental,
rather than merely seeing it as unfitting or creating an unnecessary contrast to
the vocals and ruining the song’s cohesion, we can instead view the
instrumental as a staircase for both the vocals and song in general to ascend
and descend.

Ultimately,
though, this is where readers should be reminded that song reviews are never to
be objective but merely are to provide a discussion. Day6’s “I Smile” has the
perfect situation of where its choruses can be argued as both a strength and
weakness, and indeed: there are no right answers at all. In my case, I argue
the choruses are cleverly composed but one can also see the potential downsides
the choruses bring. Nonetheless, “I Smile” is a decent song if viewed from its
entirety. The verses and pre-choruses are concise in their structural function
of getting the song to its choruses—its core section—and yet are still
sonically appealing. Likewise, with the vocals being impressive and the lyrics
also delivering a relatively detailed story despite the ironic fact that the
lyrics are shorter, “I Smile” ends up holding well. Additionally, with being
the pop-rock genre, it can be difficult to distinguish one’s music but I find
that “I Smile” manages to very much render as its own, unique take to the
genre.

_______________________________________________________

This
review ended up being far shorter than I intended, but given that I focused on
purely one section, it is to be expected. To the requester, once again I
apologize for the delays and for perhaps not completely dissecting the song to
its every detail. But, since the choruses are what matters most to “I Smile”
and are where the composition decisions can be argued from various views, I
hope the review still brings some new insight to the song.

EXO’s
“Ko Ko Bop” is the next requested review. Afterwards we will have G-reyish’s “Johnny
GoGo” for review. Unfortunately, while recent reviews might lean towards more
praises than criticisms, I cannot say the same for the mentioned two songs. In
fact, these two songs might be the most critical reviews yet but that is the
beauty of reviews: it generates discussions and I hope to encourage
disagreements and to remind readers that there is nothing wrong with disagreeing
with others. What matters is doing such in a respectful, thoughtful manner.
Look forward to the next reviews, and until then, “I smile, I smile.” This
makes no sense whatsoever but neither would any other lines from the songs. Let
us just end the review here and instead focus on EXO’s “Ko Ko Bop.”

TWICE – “TWICE’s Elegant Private Life” Show Review

(Playlist: Episode Cuts)

TWICE
TWICE’s Elegant Private Life
(Produced by Mnet)

Reviewed on June 21, 2017

If one is a TWICE fan, I do
recommend the show. Otherwise, if one is watching (Korean) reality shows for
the sake of the show itself, I do find that there are other, better alternatives
to TEPL. But that said, this show can
definitely be a solid introduction to TWICE if viewers are unfamiliar of them
and desire to become fans.  

Edit:
Huge apologies for this post being delayed. As readers can tell from reading,
this review was written a while back and only now have I officially posted it.
Many reviews will be coming after this. Once again, I apologize to readers for
the lack of content for the past weeks.

Personal
Message:
As
mentioned in the prior post, I had my wisdom teeth extracted (on June 7) and
thus, have not been able to post as frequently as desired. That said, after a
full week of recovery and admittedly catching up on shows rather than reviews
and subtitling videos, I decided it might be best to return with a review on
the shows I have been watching. Afterwards, we have many special reviews—one,
in particular, was even requested by a label company directly. That review will
be coming out only a few days after this one and I am quite excited for it.
From there, we will then be reviewing IU (as it was requested by a personal
friend) and I hope to then review Fiestar’s Yezi’s recent solo comeback with
her new rap song. And of course, amidst all of this, I will be hastily catching
up on subtitling videos for Fiestar, and particularly I will be attempting to
cover videos regarding Yezi’s latest comeback.

Indeed, there is quite a lot for me
to do even if I should be merely relaxing during summer, but unfortunately I am
those types of people who feel that I should always be productive in some
form—though, biasedly, I argue we can
and should always be productive even
if that means something as casual as catching up on dramas. In fact, especially
for readers who are working, in their later years of high school or in college,
I might even share my own tips in a bonus post on why my particular definition
of “being productive” can not only help people be more productive in a general
sense, but also with—surprisingly—relaxing. But as this is unintentionally
sounding as if I have some secret to finding happiness in life, I might as well
explain what my definition of “productive” is: namely, that no matter what one
does, it brings something meaningful versus something wasteful. Now for an
actual example, while one would usually not consider watching shows to be remotely
“productive,” I argue it still is especially if one is “catching up.” After
all, catching up on TWICE shows and V Live broadcasts is much better than, for
a random example, mindlessly watching random, filler content videos on YouTube
that consists of a “top 10” of the most arbitrary items. Thus, this is what I
mean by constantly being “productive”: even if it involves relaxing, getting
the most out of an activity is what matters instead of mindlessly browsing the
internet and other typical, procrastinating activities.

Now while we are on a slight
tangent, before getting into our review on TWICE’s
Elegant Private Life
(or TEPL from
here on for convenience), I do wish to share how my wisdom teeth extraction
went. Especially as some readers might be nervous of their own impending
operation or that readers simply want to hear a story (though I am a horrible
storyteller), I find sharing my own experience might help put some at ease.
(And that said, feel free to skip below for the actual bonus review.) After
all, I personally sought out as many stories as I could prior to the surgery in
order to mentally prepare myself, but unfortunately I was not able to find any
story on the actual procedure itself. Thus, I will do my best to actually
explain what happens in case readers are worried or curious. But given that my
storytelling tends to be horrible, I will leave a firm reassurance: the surgery
truly is not that bad—in terms of the procedure, that is. If one feels anxious
on the actual surgery, I suggest that one redirects that anxiety towards afterwards as that is when the true pain
and struggles begin. And, if it helps ease anyone, if I can make it through the procedure—the biggest baby and a boy with
a ridiculously sensitive gag reflex and
whose wisdom teeth were very “impacted”—then I am certain everyone else can
make it without any problems at all.

Regarding how the experience went,
first I will clarify that I was merely numbed for it—or at least objectively
and medically speaking as we will get to. Before getting into what occurs,
though, let us talk about preparations. While there was no physical preparation
required at all (although some might opt for a sedative pill from what I have
heard), I did spend some time preparing mentally during the few hours before
the operation and I recommend readers to do the same. Specifically, I created a
music playlist on my phone—this serving as my “mental numbing” if we dare call
it such. For the playlist, I loaded up favorite songs, songs I planned on
finally listening to, and so forth. Arrogantly, I finished creating the
playlist when it would last roughly forty-five minutes; after all, typically,
that is the average length of the surgery from what basic internet research
revealed. That is where it all went wrong, however, but more to share on that
later.

As for the experience itself, after
comfortably settling—or restlessly squirming—into the dentist chair, I signed
off a waiver (if that is what it is called) in case of extremely rare complications that could arise. Now while I remember
one line that roughly read as: “…loss of feeling…” I admittedly ended up
skipping the remaining bullet points as my brain began reading the rest as
“death…death…death…” and merely signed it off. At this point, I am allowed to
plug in one earbud and do so hastily. Now, the idea behind listening to songs
during the surgery is that the songs are to, indeed, distract me from the fact
that my mouth was soon to be heavily mutilated and invaded by five or so devices
at once, that blood will be splashing everywhere, and that sounds of cracking
teeth would hopefully be drowned out. I hope that is not too gruesome to share.
On topic, after signing off the form for what felt like my execution, I had
four odd sticks inserted in my mouth. To this day, I have no idea on what these
were for except that two were placed on top and two at the bottom, and that it
left the typical “dentist-cherry-flavor.” Yes, incredibly vague terms but I
have no other way of describing it and I feel that my description of the flavor
is quite accurate. From here, I was left alone.

After some time resting, the mentioned
sticks were removed and it was now time for numbing. Although in theory having
a needle injected into one’s gums sounds painful, it merely felt like a small
yet sharp pinch. Admittedly I do not remember much regarding the numbing
process, but it truly is as simple as being injected and then being left alone
once again in order for the numbing to work. Now, regarding what it feels like
to be numbed, I should clarify my views are rather twisted: I, for some odd
reason, believed the numbing also came with some sedative. In reality, my mouth
was merely numbed; in other words, my entire mouth became solely tingly—nothing more or less. But, quite embarrassingly, I
managed to falsely convince myself I was also being sedated and thus, my
supposed drowsiness and even giggling when asked how I was doing are not actual
effects. I am sincerely am an embarrassing mess, but I find that this false
perception of being sedated helped as having music playing in one ear and
“sleeping” during the surgery definitely made the experience more tolerable.

Onto the actual surgery, there is
little to be said as one does not feel anything but pressure. After the dentist
checked to see if I was truly numbed, the procedure consisted of lots of suction
devices, drilling at times, and much pulling. The only struggle I had, as
alluded to earlier, is that I wished my music playlist was far lengthier. With
the first playing, music genuinely did distract me and helped keep me calm.
However, on the second playing, I began focusing less on the songs—due to
already hearing them once—and started to be more aware of what was happening. Likewise, it is also at
this point I realized I was not sedated at all and was quite ridiculous to have
even thought of such. On the third playing, not only are the songs now mere
background noises, but I also began to start opening my eyes versus “sleeping,”
and this is where I began gagging somewhat often as I realized there were many
devices in my mouth at once. Therefore, for my advice, I recommend readers to
have an incredibly lengthy playlist
as, especially if complications arise such as in my case (my bottom wisdom
teeth were quite difficult to remove), the procedure can last for a while and
having new songs to actively pay attention to helps.

After the surgery, this is where
pain finally comes—or, more specifically, after two hours after the surgery.
Post-operation directions will be given, but in summary, it consists of gently
biting on certain cloths to stop the bleeding. Also, as one can hardly spit
(nor should one even spit at  all until
many days later) due to the numbing, much time will also be spent merely
letting blood-infused-saliva dripping out of one’s mouth. For what I highly
recommend, once the numbing begins wearing off and one is capable of drinking
water, one should begin taking pain medicine. I made a horrible mistake of not
doing such as I arrogantly assumed I had high pain tolerance when, in reality, I
was simply still numbed. But, as soon as the numbing faded away, my pain grew
from a dull ache to, quite suddenly, my upper right wisdom teeth deciding to
give birth. It was at this moment I scrambled desperately for pain medicine as
I was quite certain I began seeing angels. Horrible jokes aside, though, I do
recommend taking pain medicine before all the numbing entirely disappears and
one is left with much pain.

All in all, wisdom teeth extraction
is not too bad at all and I hope I eased—or not—any reader who is anxious about
their own upcoming surgery. Finally onto the review now, during the days of
recovery, besides being excused to consuming an unhealthy amount of ice cream
and developing a phobia towards mashed potatoes, I have decided to watch TEPL. Now before discussing the show, given
the tradition of addressing the question of whether I cried or not while
watching this particular reality show, I admittedly did shed some tears as,
simply stated, if Jihyo cries then I cry with her. However of course, nothing
will ever come close to the bawling that occurred when I watched Jessica & Krystal and indeed the
sisters’ reality show remains the best I have ever watched. Lastly, for final
technical points to address, the playlist included are merely video cuts of the
full episodes. Readers who desire to watch the full show along with English
subtitles can easily find sources via internet searching. Furthermore, with
this review, rather than the typical format of ratings that I have done in the
past, show reviews will now merely consist of a “recommendation phrase” and
reasons for such in the analytical part. After all, while numbers provide a
concrete platform for readers to think and help organize a song’s breakdown,
the same cannot be easily applied to reality shows—or at least, not with my
current lack of knowledge regarding show qualities.

With all of that, let us finally
head into the review and see whether TEPL
worth watching or not.

_______________________________________________________

Recommendation:
If one is a TWICE fan, I do
recommend the show. Otherwise, if one is watching (Korean) reality shows for
the sake of the show itself, I do find that there are other, better alternatives
to TEPL. But that said, this show can
definitely be a solid introduction to TWICE if viewers are unfamiliar of them
and desire to become fans.  

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
With TEPL, it needs to first be clarified that the title itself is
misleading: the show does not focus purely or even predominantly on the
supposed “private life” of the ladies. Certainly there are snippets involved,
but admittedly the show functions more as any other typical (Korean) reality
show—notable comparisons being other common reality shows such as Showtime, One Fine Day, The TaeTiSeo,
and so forth. In other words, this means TEPL
does not focus on what the ladies do in their private times per se but rather,
it focuses on a myriad of general activities: watching TWICE cook; hearing the
ladies discuss their ideal types; observing their dorm life; laughing with them
at the expense of scaring Nayeon; and the like. For those familiar with reality
shows (or at least Korean ones; I am unsure if culturally the idea of “reality
shows” varies), this indeed follows the exact protocol as any other: observing
the ladies engaging with many activities—hence, the “reality” aspect.

Without necessarily summarizing all
of the activities depicted on the show as that would not only spoil the show
but would be redundant and not a “review” at all, I will instead focus on how effectively
the said activities are portrayed. With the activities, as mentioned, there are
a variety of them involved but more importantly the types of activities are diverse as well—this, in my view, is the
most important aspect. Let us use an example. During one episode, the main,
overarching theme of TWICE’s activity involved creating videos whether in the
form of creating a minor music video or parodying dramas. However, afterwards
the “topic” changes into something that is completely different than creating
videos. Especially when compared to other reality shows that might stick to the
same “topic” for an excessive time, I find that TEPL adopts a balanced form of depth and variety. A contrasting
example to use is with Jessica &
Krystal
where in one episode, while the ladies were engaged in multiple
activities, the overall “topic” was still that of shopping. With TEPL, if we were to imagine a similar scenario,
what would occur instead would be that the topic of shopping only lasts for a certain
amount before that very topic soon changes to something completely different.
Thus, the overall point is this: the show allows TWICE and viewers to
experience multiple “topics” with an amount of depth that is not too short or
too long. That said, depending on one’s preferences, this can be both good and
bad. Viewers who enjoy depth versus breadth might find this show less appealing
(and thus enjoy other shows such as Jessica
& Krystal
more). On the other hand, those who enjoy breadth more than
depth would find TEPL suiting as the
show does focus more on showing multiple sides to TWICE (and this does make
sense given that this show was the ladies’ first, major reality show).

With content out of the way, let us
actually focus on the show in a structural sense as, unlike all reality shows I
have previously watched, the editing to the show is rather peculiar. Here, I
find that the show’s format can easily deter—or attract—viewers. For what I am
specifically referring to, the episodes are seemingly divided in half: the
first half of an episode consists of one main “topic” and the second half
begins another topic. This, though, means that the second half’s topic is then
finished in the next episode—something
that is quite odd as typical reality shows simply organize an entire episode
around one topic. To use a fictional example as this might be clearer, let us
pretend that in episode 5, the first half of the episode consists of TWICE
cooking. Then, the second half would make a sudden switch where it is about
TWICE dancing. From there, episode 6’s first half would be finishing up the
part about dancing and then the remaining half will be a new topic. In a
general sense, this is how TEPL is
formatted throughout all of its episodes minus, perhaps, the first episode or
so.

Different or not, this structure to
the show comes with both strengths and weaknesses. On the positive side,
because of how episodes are halved on topics, it leaves a sense of the episode
having more variety. After all, rather than one episode being focused on one
activity, there are now two. Furthermore, when it comes to length, having each
episode segmented in this manner prevents them from feeling too excessive; an
entire episode focused purely on one topic can, indeed, feel repetitive especially
if all of the episodes follow a similar trend. And—though the following could
easily be a negative—I found myself more engaged to the show as the episodes
naturally left “cliffhangers”: the remaining half of a topic would only be
finished on the next episode. Thus, if episode 6 ended with dancing, the
beginning half of episode 7 would be the conclusion of such—and this does work
well with keeping viewers interested and desiring more.

However, despite all these potential
benefits, the biggest issue that comes is how the show can at times feel
incredibly disorganized. There is a reason reality shows tend to follow the tradition
of keeping each episode highly focused on a certain activity or topic: it is
intuitive and easy to follow. While I did watch TEPL in a dedicated manner as I watched an episode per day, I can
imagine the show would be more difficult to keep track of if a viewer watches
the episodes sparingly. For example, even with watching an episode every day, there
were still moments where I had to actually re-watch the prior episode’s ending
to recall what was happening in the current episode. This confusion occurs
because a new episode is not a new
topic or activity; it is the continuation
of one. As such, if a viewer has poor memory or watches an episode every three
days, it can be understood on why this show’s structure is problematic and that
the traditional format—a new episode is genuinely new—would be far more
effective. Nevertheless, even if not more effective than the usual format of
reality shows, I appreciate Mnet’s attempt of creating a new style for the
show.

Overall, as said in the
recommendation, this show is definitely worth watching if one is a fan of TWICE
or are trying to become a fan or at least become familiar with the ladies. However,
when it comes to reality shows in a general sense, there are far more
interesting shows that exist such as Jessica
& Krystal
or Europe That GFriend
Loves
. But, in terms of all of the reality shows TWICE have done, TEPL is definitely a highlight and I
argue is tied with TWICE TV4. (And on
that note, once TWICE TV5 is
finished, I plan on reviewing it as well as—so far, at least—it is one of the
poorer reality shows I have watched. That said, the fifth season is interesting
as it seems to be more akin to standard vlogs rather than an actual reality
show as were seasons three and four.)

For finals words, after finally
getting much more familiar with TWICE and arguably even becoming a fan, I now
understand why the ladies are quite popular despite how, in my argument, they
are one of the more musically weak groups in the K-Pop scene—or at least, from
what they have portrayed via their songs. Certainly, they are individually
improving with their vocals (and of course, that Jihyo, Nayeon, and Jeongyeon
are all already solid vocalists) and TWICE does in fact have solid songs such
as “Knock Knock,” “Only You,” and “1 to 10,” but in an overall view, I and
perhaps others can agree TWICE is not the strongest musical group at all. Ignoring
the genuinely disrespectful and immature people who bash TWICE personally, the
ladies’ weaker vocals and even songs (I argue all title songs minus “Knock
Knock” are quite weak) is where a majority of criticism towards the group comes
from. After all, TWICE is arguably the
most
popular female group in K-Pop as of now, and this somehow is the case
despite the mentioned lacking in their songs and singing. Of course their
dancing is definitely solid and their strongest suit, but it would be hard to
imagine that their choreographies are able to compensate for everything else to
the degree of becoming one of the most popular artists in K-Pop. What, then, I argue
leads to TWICE’s success is the accompanying aspect to K-Pop: the personal
side. TWICE has mastered a way of sincerely connecting to fans on a personal
level—and I argue the secret is none other than how the ladies are very humble
and genuine when on camera. For an artist to thrive, they need both: solid
music and dances and appealing on a
personal level. Even if TWICE lacks the former, they more than make up in the
latter and this is perhaps why TWICE is utterly popular.

All in all, and to tie back to this
review, TEPL is one example of the
ladies appealing to the public with their personalities and interactions. And
so, while I hope to see TWICE improving musically, I also hope the ladies
continue to maintain their ability to connect with fans as this is what has
potentially led to their massive success.

_______________________________________________________

As readers can tell, this post
should have been posted much longer ago. It is only now that I have finished
some of the writing that was needed, but I do apologize greatly. Reviews will
most likely take on a back-to-back trend so that everything is caught up.
Unfortunately, while I do deserve some time to relax over summer, I have become
far too relaxed and have put off reviews and even subtitling videos for
Fiestar. I will hastily work on catching up with the latter and will also work
on catching up on reviews. The next review is a special one as it was directly requested
by a label company and thus, I hope readers enjoy it.

Thank you for reading or skimming
this review. Look forward for content to finally resume a standard schedule.

TWICE – “Only You” Review

(Audio—unofficial upload)

TWICE – Only You

Reviewed
on May 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 8/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 7/10

6.     Rap: 7/10

7.     Bridge (Chorus): 7/10

8.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 7/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

Critical Discussion: “Analyzing the Cult of MR Removed Believers: Understanding the Truth Behind Lip-Syncing and Vocal Skills (ft. TWICE)”

“Analyzing
the Cult of MR Removed Believers: Understanding the Truth Behind Lip-Syncing
and Vocal Skills (ft. TWICE)”

(AtrocityCL’s Video and Commentary)

Posted on May 8, 2017

image

(In fact, I came across a blog post that went into the technical aspect and why MR Removed in of itself is already a process with major faults and unreliability. My video in particular focuses more on understanding the physical limitations of simultaneously singing and dancing and why focusing on MR Removed is a waste when it comes to the analysis of vocals and even pop music in general.)

Personal
Message:
Indeed,
for once I am making a video to present my ideas and discussion. There are many
reasons for this sudden change—besides the fact that I am on summer and thus
have the time to be creative and have fun. (And I am currently working on a
review request, to clarify. Apologies for the delay; I hope to finish the review by May 9.) One reason for this video format is I desire to
reach the broadest audience possible; admittedly with videos, they garner many
more views than would a blog post. This is understandable given how videos
address more types of learning other than reading as it includes audio,
visuals, and the like. And as an upcoming educator, I entirely embrace this: I
am willing to definitely address all types of learning styles, and with this
Critical Discussion possessing an education-like tone, I decided a video format
would serve the best purpose. Furthermore, having actual audio and visuals for
this discussion is crucial as readers should be able to hear what I am discussing rather than hypothesizing and taking my
sheer words as truth. Additionally, this will also be the first time readers can hear
my physical voice—though this is definitely a downside and I wish I was
soft-spoken and sounded akin to the men in dramas who have the typical
charming, clear and crisp voices that everyone envies. I, on the other hand, was gifted with a less pretty voice.

Self-deprecating jokes aside, please feel
free to click the link and enjoy the video and discussion that comes with it. Finally
for a last point, readers should bear in mind this is a “simplistic” analysis
of MR Removed as I do not go into the heavy technical
aspects of why even the process of MR Removed is worthy of questioning. (In fact, I came across a blog post that went into the technical aspect and why MR Removed in of itself is already a process with major faults and unreliability. My video in particular focuses more on understanding the physical limitations of simultaneously singing and dancing and why focusing on MR Removed is a waste when it comes to the analysis of vocals and even pop music in general.)

_______________________________________________________

Context:
*
Refer to the linked video.

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
*
Refer to the linked video.

_______________________________________________________

Conclusion:
*
Refer to the linked video.

_______________________________________________________

*Refer to the linked video.

TWICE – “Knock Knock” Review

(Dance Practice) / (Music Video) / (Live
Performance)

TWICE – Knock Knock

Reviewed
on March 13, 2017

image

Although
an alarming amount of listeners dislike the song for very justified, critical
reasons—specifically that “Knock Knock” merely exploits catchiness for appeal—I
have to disagree. Certainly the song uses “catchiness” as a concept, but I
argue Collapsedone and Mayu Wakisaka went beyond using such for raw appeal.
Throughout the song, said catchiness is used as an accommodating factor by compensating
for moments of weaker vocal execution. Furthermore, how Collapsedone and Mayu
Wakisaka structured the song leads to many contrasting points that, contrary to
the expected result of such impairing the song, actually end up in favor of the
song by using said contrasts to further build upon the song’s progression.

Personal Message:
Well, this review is incredibly
awkward with its timing in regards to a recent “dating scandal” between GOT7’s
BamBam and TWICE’s Mina—two labelmates under JYP Entertainment. To clarify, I am
absolutely not reviewing this song because of this incident serving as
motivation; I have long been planning to review “Knock Knock” for weeks due to musical and intellectual reasons. But, while we are on this topic, I wish to
take this time to express my own obviously mature, non-delusional points as “good
fans” are currently doing: like these very ethical and upright “fans” who are
bashing Mina and BamBam, I too forbid TWICE from dating. Specifically, Jihyo will
never be allowed to date because I know unequivocally one day we will meet. And
once we meet, Jihyo will get on one knee and hold up a ring and ask me to marry
her, and with this I will tearfully accept it and we will embrace all while
TWICE’s “Melting” plays in the background from who-knows-where. We will then
raise two daughters and two dogs, and I will spend most of my time raising the children
and be a part-time teacher while she is off with TWICE. We will then live
happily-ever-after and spend much time together cuddling and helping each other
through life, and we will then die together eventually. The end. Obviously if
someone wishes to hire me to direct dramas, I would be more than glad to as I
am clearly a professional with that. Also if it is not clear to readers on why
I am still single, this embarrassing story I improvised in seconds probably
answers that question.

But sarcastic, mockery tone aside, I
do wish to clarify I actually have become a huge fan of Jihyo. I highly admire
her leadership, her care for the members, her work ethics, and I personally
have fallen in love with her voice. Most impressively, though, I admire her so
much for overcoming the ridiculous amount of body-shaming she experienced in
the past and even at times in the present. Despite the current unfair beauty
standards in place (perhaps one day I will share my interesting and somewhat
bizarre take to “beauty”—that “beauty” is both natural but also potentially a
social construction as it ties into gender, class, and race), I assert Jihyo is
very much beautiful—both physically and non-physically. And indeed, every woman
and man and simply human being should be able to feel that way about themselves
and not be stricken down by beauty standards in place. All skin complexions are
beautiful; all body types are beautiful; all weights are beautiful; and so on.

And to leave my serious remarks on
this petty incident TWICE’s Mina and GOT7’s BamBam are in, indeed, it is just
that: petty—in terms of fans’ reactions, that is. JYP Entertainment has
confirmed the two are merely friends, but of course, even if they are to be
dating as fans viciously claim, this is irrelevant and I hope the two the best
of their relationship—whether as friends or as a couple. Idols are—believe it
or not—normal human beings who happen to work in a particular branch of
entertainment. Now I do not wish to downplay the fact that idols’ roles are
quite momentous with being role models and that it is a privilege for them to
work with music, but in the end, we have to acknowledge that being an idol is
merely a job. Thus, this objectifying that oftentimes occurs towards idols—whether
treating them as trophies that are “owned” by fans, sexualizing them or
whatever else—is quite unethical. For news that these supposed “fans” of both
GOT7 and TWICE should care about, these
anti-dating “fans” should recall GOT7’s Jackson and TWICE’s Jihyo are
respectively sick and injured. That is where our attention should be, and to
the two idols, I hope the two a healthy and hasty recovery. And for actual fans
who are very supportive of both Mina and BamBam, let us continue being true
fans and helping our beloved idols make it through this sensitive period
especially as both groups are busy with their comebacks. Save the delusional
fantasies that the two potentially dating is “betraying” fans because there
simply is no betraying whatsoever; assuming
my mathematically skills have not entirely vanished, both of them are “man”/“woman”
versus children and thus can think responsibly for themselves. (And for another
topic in the future to discuss, I could one day discuss when or even if “shipping”—as
in, the lighthearted joking between fans that certain members are paired up
with other members as a couple—is appropriate or not. This would be a rather
interesting, controversial topic, and as critical thinking readers might be
aware of, there is no easy answer at all with this.)

On topic with this review since if I
get sidetracked anymore then this review will never begin, I have never looked
forward to reviewing a song this badly in quite some time. In fact, I truly
cannot remember this level of passion
I am feeling to finally review a song that I argue is not only one of the most
impressively composed pop songs I have heard, but I also get to write a review and defend a position nearly
everyone disagrees with—after all, the music video’s dislike ratio is quite telling
that many are still frustrated with TWICE’s inconsistency in terms of their
popularity despite weaker music production and composition. After all, many
think this song is merely catchy and thus, to call it “good” would be inaccurate as it is nothing more than just catchy—this
sentiment being a trend that even I agree with in terms of “TT,” “Cheer Up,”
and “Like Ooh-Ahh.” All of TWICE’s prior releases, with all due respect to the
members and composers, are rather weak songs in terms of both vocal delivery and
also composition and production. Admittedly, as a critical listener of music, I
still cannot fathom why TWICE is exceptionally
popular despite many of their prior songs being of poorer quality—even if, of
course, I wholeheartedly support TWICE and acknowledge they are incredibly
hardworking, excellent role models who do deserve love and support no matter
their song qualities.

In other words, especially to the
expected TWICE fans who are reading this review, I ask for the entire fanbase’s
understanding on this sensitive topic: TWICE is not hated merely because of “haters”
or “jealousy”; indeed, the intellectual and mature, critical criticizers of the
group are not doing so out of spite—though again, there are those anti-fans who
have way too much free time and lack ethics (such as the current fans who are
ironically berating Mina and BamBam when they should reevaluate their own
ethics)—but rather, are critiquing the group’s popularity in relation to their
music quality. While music is ultimately subjective, I argue there is an
overwhelming amount of critical listeners who would agree with me when I claim
that all of TWICE’s prior title tracks are weaker if we focus in on the
composition that actually occurs and ignore “catchiness” or the flashy
choreographies and music videos. As such, people with this critical view of the
ladies are not to be banished away and ignored but rather, are to be heard out
for the sake of a thoughtful discussion that really does hone in on one of
K-Pop’s “large questions”: what does it
take to be popular? Is it song quality, a connection with fans, physical
appearances, personalities, coming from a well-established label company, and
so on? My point is this: though I am critical of TWICE’s prior comebacks and so
are many others, we need to separate the difference between discussing TWICE’s music and the ladies themselves. Never should TWICE be personally bashed
(unless, of course, they commit an act that is rather atrocious—and no, dating
laughably does not count as “atrocious” despite “fans” saying so), but indeed,
their music is definitely open for critique.

All that said, “Knock Knock” is,
despite all odds, different from their prior releases: I argue it is a song that is not of the usual “TWICE-catchiness-to-hide-lack-of-quality”
song that I have heard in their prior comebacks. “Knock Knock” is an incredibly
stunning song especially towards the composition aspect. In fact, I find that
this song is so brilliantly composed I wish to highlight the two composers
involved: Collapsedone and Mayu Wakisaka. I seldom do such (although I should
credit and mention composers’ names more often as they are who I focus on—akin to how one discusses literature on an author’s work rather than just the characters in a story for
example), but these two have truly done a fantastic job with “Knock Knock” that
I very much wish for readers to know who the composers—the “authors” if we will—to
the song are.  

Addressing the links we will be
using for this review, I have used a myriad of them. The music video is of the
usual, however, there is a plot-based extra pause that occurs in the bridge
that is not a part of the actual song—and
for a good reason, too as it is an excessive, awkward break in the song. This
is why the music video alone does not suffice, and of course it does not
showcase the entire choreography which I argue is very much important in K-Pop
even if I no longer focus on dances specifically. (For those unfamiliar, I used
to actually rate the choreographies as well, but as time went on, I realized my
skills only grew with being analytical towards music but not towards dances.
Thus, I no longer rate dances as I simply am too unknowledgeable.) Regarding
the live performance, this is for those who prefer YouTube as their video
outlet. The issue here, of course, is that the song quality is poorer due to it
being live, but it does provide insight into the dance. Finally, we have our
main link: the dance practice that is posted on V App—a website for idols to
live stream and interact with fans’ chat messages. The link works best on a
computer as without the actual app, mobile playback tends to be of poor quality
(and hence why I included the live performance YouTube link). But indeed, this
source is our main focus in terms of aurally listening to the song as it is the
song in of itself and in a studio quality.

Finally discussing “Knock Knock,” I
do admit it is perhaps my favorite song of all-time. That said, it is far from
the best song I have ever heard; in terms of the best pop song, MAMAMOO’s
“Decalcomanie” definitely holds its throne
. But, in terms of stylistic
preferences, I find “Knock Knock” ‘s format and sounds to be what I personally like
hearing: a fun, upbeat, naturally progressing yet hyped song. Nevertheless, if
we focus on the composition of “Knock Knock,” arguably this is the most
impressive musical piece I have analyzed. In other words, even if sonically the
vocals are not necessarily the most appealing for example, how the song is
crafted and handled in terms of its structure and playback for bringing in
specific effects is very impressive. And so, this brings us to how the review
will go. Although an alarming amount of listeners dislike the song for very
justified, critical reasons—specifically that “Knock Knock” merely exploits
catchiness for appeal—I have to disagree. Certainly the song uses “catchiness”
as a concept, but I argue Collapsedone and Mayu Wakisaka went beyond using such
for raw appeal. Throughout the song, said catchiness is used as an accommodating
factor by compensating for moments of weaker vocal execution. Furthermore, how Collapsedone
and Mayu Wakisaka structured the song leads to many contrasting points that,
contrary to the expected result of such impairing the song, actually end up in
favor of the song by using said contrasts to further build upon the song’s
progression.

Since that “thesis statement” if we dare
call it such is rather poorly worded or is simply rather quite complex in terms
of ideas, I will break down the review in a more manageable fashion. I will
first discuss what the ongoing catchiness is and why it is currently of
appropriate criticism. Afterwards, I will then go through the song to point out
how those “catchiness moments” are actually the composers’ method of
compensating for what would otherwise be poorer vocal delivery. Once that is
all done, I will then discuss “Knock Knock” ‘s strongest asset—its uses of
contrasting points—and how that greatly aids in allowing the song to have a very
coherent, solid progression.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 8/10
(7.67/10 raw score)

Introduction, Verse,
Verse, Chorus, Rap, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, Conclusion

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Chorus: 9/10

4.     Rap: 8/10

5.     Bridge: 7/10

6.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 8/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Instrumental Introduction]

The door closes at twelve
Please hurry up a bit
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
At night inside my mind
The door opens up
I need somebody
(Someone else)

You keep lingering around
Taking a sneak peek
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock
Knock on my door
Probably another playboy
Obviously just a bad boy
I need some assurance
(Knock knock?)

Knock on my heart and open it up
Knock hard
Kung kung*
One more time
Kung kung
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
It won’t be so easy to open it up
(Say that you’re mine)
Come again tomorrow and the day after
I will be ready and waiting
(Knock knock)
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
I want to keep hearing it again
Knock on my door

No need for that gold key or get-lucky
If you truly mean it everything’s gonna be okay
What to do, you’re already here
Could you please wait a moment?
You come in when I am alone
Shake me right out of my mind
Now is the perfect show time
Make it yours

Dang-dang when the clock strikes,
would you come to me?
Turning round and round will
only make you fall asleep
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Come in, come in, come in baby,
take my hands

Knock on my heart and open it up
Knock hard
Kung-kung*
One more time
Kung-kung
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
It won’t be so easy to open it up
(Say that you’re mine)
Come again tomorrow and the day after
I will be ready and waiting
(Knock knock)
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
I want to keep hearing it again
Knock on my door

Hey, hey after all this time
My frozen heart will–my-my heart will,
melt away like ice cream
Come knock on my door

Knock on my heart and open it up
Knock hard
Kung-kung*
One more time
Kung-kung
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
It won’t be so easy to open it up
(Say that you’re mine)
Come again tomorrow and the day after
I will be ready and waiting
(Knock knock)
Baby, knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock knock
I want to keep hearing it again
Knock on my door

Knock knock knock knock on my door
I’m freakin’ freakin’ out,
freakin’ out out
Knock knock
Knock knock Knock
Knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door
Knock knock knock knock
knock on my door

*The Korean linguistic representation of, essentially, “knock knock.”
(In English, “bam” or “thump thump” are similar examples.)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: For
once in I believe three years of writing reviews, I will not actually address
the numerical ratings at all. This is because I truly wish to hone in on the
more theoretical aspect to “Knock Knock”—and thus, this will be the most difficult
review I have ever written as numerical ratings were always a great way for me
to make theoretical points more “concrete” as not all readers are comfortable
dealing with mere abstract concepts and ideas. Numbers, on the other hand,
always make sense as they are concrete ideas. (Consider, after all, the
difference between explaining an abstract musical concept and not directly
relating it to the ratings versus saying “this section is a seven for above
average because of this.”—the latter being much more concrete in its idea at
the end even if it involves discussing abstract concepts.) I will do my best to
explain, but of course as I always urge, readers should feel free to send in
questions for further discussions. Clearly after spending arguably too much
time writing about songs as my shamelessly nerdy yet beloved passion, I am more
than happy to extend a review’s conversation into questions-and-answers for clarifications
and such.

On
topic, let us discuss what is the current “catchiness” that exists and why
people critiquing said “catchiness” are not wrong to do such. First of all, I
am indeed loosely using the term “catchiness” here; after all, no one can
objectively pinpoint per se what is defined as “catchiness”—certain sounds,
pitches, tempos, and such are too varied for a solid definition. Nevertheless,
in this sense I am referring to points of the song that tend to be easily
emulated—key examples in “Knock Knock” are the constant “knock knock,” “knock
on my door” phrases and the simpler, heavy electronic beats that follow a very
predictable manner. So, why is catchiness problematic? In a majority—but not
all—cases, these types of additions to songs tend to be mere fillers if we look
at the true roots. Oftentimes, these catchiness points bring minimal changes to
a song besides merely progressing the song for the very sake of such getting
the song to move along.

For
example, the first “knock knock” phrase pushes the song forth four seconds by
merely reusing a singular, basic note that in of itself should be used
sparingly lest the song become mundane and uncreative. Compare that to when the
song is not “knocking” (and we will actually now use this term) and we will
find that there tends to be a lot more fluctuations and more complex tunes in
place—tunes that do advance the song ahead beyond a simplistic yet fun “la la
la la” pattern. Now for why this in particular is extremely disturbing to “Knock
Knock,” let us be honest: the song spends a huge amount if not nearly half of
its duration “knocking” (and by “knocking” I mean when the ladies are simply uttering
that key phrase and word). Again, this is catchy and thus is appealing, but is it actually worthy of anything valuable per
se? Sure, the composition and decision involved to use these fillers/catchiness
points at specific points are actually intellectual and not thoughtless, but
even so, merely repeating “knock knock knock knock” repetitively is negligible
and that is where many are criticizing
the song. When a song spends much of its time seemingly exploiting a key word
and phrase—which, musically is only quick successions of essentially one note—and
we come to realize that the song now sounds “cheap.” “Knock Knock,” then,
becomes another generic pop song that people love merely because it possesses a
fun and bouncy aspect; after all, “knock knock knock knock, knock on my door”
tends to linger around—more so if we consider how it is coupled by instrumental’s
beats that further solidify that bouncing trait.

And
so, the majority of people who dislike the song for this reason are not wrong
at all—not that, of course, one can ever be objectively right or wrong about
music. But point is this: people who find that “Knock Knock” is a poor song that
is hiding its weaknesses through sounding catchy are definitely critically
thinking of the song. This is a solid
criticism. However, here comes the beauty of academic, mature, and intellectual
discussions: we can still disagree with this criticism by challenging this very
line of thinking. For where we will now go in this review, I wish to argue the
current claim that the catchiness used is just for the sake of cheaply
garnering appeal; I argue, instead, the catchiness we find Collapsedone and
Mayu Wakisaka using is not to compensate for “a bad song” but it is to help
alleviate TWICE’s known weakness: their vocals.

Whether
acknowledged by fans or not, we have to understand that TWICE’s vocals in their
songs are far from any high standard—in fact, I oftentimes have given them a
slightly below average rating for such. Now of course it should be clarified
that this is not to say the ladies themselves are not skilled singers; one of
the most short-sighted comment I hear about TWICE or any other seemingly
vocally underperforming group is that they “cannot sing.” This is false: a large majority of idols can actually
sing, especially if compared to a regular person who is not professionally trained as are idols. That
said, when it comes to actual song production, we will find that many of the
vocals by TWICE tend to be overly simplistic and seldom do we hear more
strenuous singing from them unless it does not involve TWICE’s own music. (Some
slight irony here as one would expect their own songs to showcase their best vocal
abilities.) “Knock Knock,” it seems however is the first time we hear some more
intense singing, but even then it is only from Jihyo and Jungyeon and partially
from Nayeon (even though I do know Nayeon is a capable singer after researching
her background—not in a stalker-like way, of course, but rather a
musical-stalker-like way).

Jokes
aside, even if “Knock Knock” has the more impressive vocal beltings at the
choruses, for the most part it is a song that still showcases a lot of overly
basic singing. However, returning to the original discussion of how the
composers utilizes the “catchiness” in the song, we will find that these filler
components of the members repeating “knock knock” is not necessarily because
they cannot do better or to “hide” their poorer vocals; instead, we could argue
these catchiness fillers are to augment
and supplement the members’ vocals so
that their usual, weaker singing becomes at least average and sufficient.

Let
us analyze the prime example of the song’s key words and phrases. As already
discussed, the “knocking” phrases are quite rudimentary as all these phrases do
is solely progress the song versus adding in more complex tunes, fluctuations,
and so forth. However, how the catchiness works in terms of supplementing the
members’ vocals—especially those who are the sub/support vocalists—is that the
instrumental backs up and emulates their very singing of those filler moments. As
a result, this creates a layering effect: notice how the “knocks” are nearly in
sync with the instrumental’s “shimmering” sounds and how each strong beat
complements each knock slight moments afterwards. Now before addressing the
genius of this on a structural level, we have to understand how this helps on
an aural level. For one, as said, the key distinctive feature here is that the
vocals are not “hidden” away but are supplemented:
in other words, the vocals—even if they are not sonically strong especially
with repeating “knock knock”—are still blatantly out and with the instrumental
providing extra depth, it helps the vocals leave a greater presence and
influence to the song’s overall sound. If the instrumental was not supportive
of the vocals, then by raw sound the “knocks” would sound, to be blunt, rather
awful and mere excessive “fluff” added.

Furthermore,
we also need to focus beyond just the explicit catchiness-filler content such
as in the song’s second half’s verse. During this moment for example, we find
that Tzuyu and Mina are not delivery usual repetitive words but are actually
showcasing some minimal vocal belting. In of themselves, these beltings—while soothing,
soft, and still tuneful to our ears—are nothing that surprising. However, once
we couple in the instrumental during this moment—of which is functioning as
before with providing an extra layering—and we suddenly find that both Tzuyu’s
and Mina’s vocals are seemingly more dense than just forgettable, minor
beltings. After all, with beats that match up to, for example, the “dang-dang” and
how even the bass line shifts up in pitch when Mina’s singing arrives to
further emphasize that there is a synced layering, indeed the result is there
is much more presence for the vocals from members we otherwise would not expect
at all.  

With
this hopefully understood in some degree, let us now talk about the composition
in a more general sense. As said, I really wish to focus in on how “Knock Knock”
‘s strongest asset is its uses of contrasting points and indeed how the
composers’ use of catchiness-fillers help with this, but before that there is
one aspect I wish to focus in on that is not quite related to manipulating
contrast. To still continue with the prior point about the instrumental layering
with the vocals, we have to understand beyond just supplementing TWICE’s vocals
on the huge importance of this very act. First, we need to realize this song
lacks a section that is traditionally seen in almost every pop song—in fact,
this one section is one I argue is the most
important one as it controls the shifts of a song: the pre-choruses. Without
actually analyzing the song, most might not even realize the song lacks an
official pre-chorus or will either claim the pre-chorus does exist in place of
a verse or that the first half of the chorus is the pre-chorus. Again, music is
subjective in this realm akin to asking if we can objectively pinpoint what “catchiness”
means in a technical manner, but in our case we realize there is no clear and explicit section that is dedicated as the pre-chorus—this is what
matters most, the very absence of a clear section that has this role.

For
why the vocal and instrumental layering matters beyond supplementing the vocals
with seemingly “catchiness,” we have to understand these catchiness-fillers
that we desire to belittle actually carry the important role of being a substitute
pre-chorus. Because the layering tends to shift around—whether vocally or
instrumentally, as discussed with Mina’s part in the second half of the song’s
verse—we will find that the layering is, in a subtle manner, generating hype
for the song which is then climaxed at the choruses (as per usual of pop songs
as they follow the binary format of music). Even in MAMAMOO’s “Decalcomanie,”
another song that lacks an explicit pre-chorus, we find that this song still
has a clearly noticeable shift: the verses end in a dramatic pause and have
lingering sounds both vocally and instrumentally. However, in “Knock Knock,”
much is to be praised for how natural the layering is able to progress and
shift the song into the chorus without any distinctive signs—all the while still
sounding fluent. And most brilliantly, what is to be credited in specific for
allowing this natural transition are the very uses of “knock knock” phrases and
the seemingly more basic instrumental—in other words, it is “catchiness” that
serves beyond raw appeal but indeed
provides structural value to the song, this being incredibly rare to hear in a
pop song.

With that covered, let us now
transition to the final aspect of the review: why “Knock Knock” ‘s use of
contrast allows it to be a rather impressive song especially with its composition.
Specifically, I wish for us to discuss how the song uses many contrasting
points—of which I will explain—as a method to gain aural appeal. Of course,
there are a lot of other strategies in place—as discussed above with the
layering serving as substitute pre-choruses—and if I was more dedicated I would
even “walk” us through each particular aspect, but instead let us be realistic and
focus on the more critical topics.

In terms of what I mean by “contrasting
points,” we have to understand that the song “bounces”  back and forth constantly between more
strenuous, complex moments and more plain, generic, “pop” sounds and
structures. A clear example is the choruses themselves: notice the inserted catchiness-fillers
of “knock knock” that contrast to, for example, Nayeon’s vocal beltings and
Jihyo’s beltings. The contrast here, to clarify, is that the “knock” phrases
are based on simple, singular notes while the beltings are based on being
strenuous and in-depth. Even more confusing and complex yet impressive, notice
that even their beltings contrast one another: Jihyo’s (and later, Jungyeon’s)
beltings are a more rigorous version of Nayeon’s beltings. This is what I refer
to by “contrasting points.”

Now, for why this all matters, while
I do wish to focus on the aural aspect, as always, we need to incorporate an
understanding of how this works on a structural level as well. In summary,
proper execution of contrast will lead to a song sounding extremely diverse and varied with its sounds—this being a huge
trait, and more so if based on a song that seemingly runs the risk of sounding
mundane because of fillers (such as in “Knock Knock” with the “knocks”)—and furthermore
allows a sound to retain a strong sense of cohesion. As said, this ends up in
favor of the song but is a relatively huge risk for composers to consider
especially as oftentimes contrasting can easily go the other way: ruining
cohesion and further emphasizing mundaneness. To understand this risk, let us
dive into some depth on usages of contrast.

MAMAMOO’s “Decalcomanie” serves as
an example (once again) for the use of “complementing” versus contrasting.
Instead of using contrast, the choruses in “Decalcomanie” stack upon each
other; we find that the first half of the chorus establishes a stronger start
that the second half of the choruses then continues to carry forth and
conclude. On the other hand, in “Knock Knock,” that stacking is not there
necessarily. If this was true, the inserted “knocks” at the choruses would not
exist, and moreover, Jihyo’s lines would follow an entirely different set than Nayeon’s
lines as Jihyo would build from
Nayeon versus contrasting via a higher intensity.

Regarding the risk contrast can
sometimes bring, as mentioned, it can bring the opposite outcome with ruining
cohesion or making a song sound even more mundane by showcasing large
disparities between the two aspects that are supposedly to be contrasted. A
case that comes into mind would be none other than TWICE’s very own song: “Cheer
Up.” The choruses in that song are overly powerful and upbeat while the rest of
the song does not follow suit or necessarily is even projected to have such a
large gap from song to chorus. This is an example of contrast working
ineffectively: it made the song sound less coherent as there were two large
differences—chorus versus entirety of song—and the contrast now highlighted how
dependent the song is on its very choruses when a song should typically have
all of its factors be important and working together.

Why does contrast work in “Knock
Knock”? Let us investigate the possibilities. I argue it works in this song’s
case due to, once again, the underestimated factor: the catchiness-fillers. For
one, as discussed, the layering that occurs throughout the song leads to a
strong sense of cohesion and thus, using contrast has a reduced chance of
alienating and isolating specific sections. Secondly and most importantly, the composers were very thoughtful on their usage
of contrast: the contrasts are micro-scale versus macro-scale. In other words,
the contrast is only in bits versus wholesome shifts between sections as was
the case in “Cheer Up.” Exceptions exist, of course, but certainly in “Knock
Knock” ‘s case, having minor contrasts was a far safer route. After all,
consider that the contrasts are between lines
versus entire sections; the contrast
in the choruses are from the beltings to other beltings, or it was from the
belting to the catchiness-filler lines of “knock knock” or “kung kung.” This
allows the contrasts to be easily heard by listeners as it follows a smaller
and more organized fashion, and with a shorter duration the main benefits are
still reaped while reducing the downsides of contrast. Overall, then, the
outcome is that the contrasts give the song its aural benefits of making the
beltings sound even more impressive, and it still adds a structural component
of the song being varied and “bouncy” with its flow.

All in all, “Knock Knock” ‘s main
downside are the lyrics, which sadly is an inevitable result because one
non-musical downside to the use of catchiness-fillers is we get an excessive
amount of lyrics that contain repeating, meaningless phrases and words. One glance
at the lyrics reveal such: a huge portion of the song consists merely of “knock
knock” and the like. Nonetheless, “Knock Knock” is a very impressive song and
by far TWICE’s best release. Collapsedone and Mayu Wakisaka deserve much credit
for their work. Ultimately for what is to be gleaned from this review, TWICE’s “Knock
Knock” is more than what it appears when listening to it superficially and casually:
doing so does not allow a listener to understand all the intricate details that
occur when he listens to the song without actually analyzing some of its
feature. On the other hand, when a listener is being careful and actively
listening—even if she is aware that “Knock Knock” sounds like any generic pop
song—she will then realize the beauty that the song comes in and the
creativeness and intelligence Collapsedone and Mayu Wakisaka have put in.

For me, this song remains my
favorite song of all time—even if sonically “Decalcomanie” by MAMAMOO sounds
better. Nevertheless, the composition involved truly shocks me and I can still
hardly understand the intricacies involved. For a song to sound like generic
pop but to not actually be generic
and meaningless with its composition astounds me. I hope TWICE is able to
maintain this level vocal delivery and to improve on such, and that JYP
Entertainment continues to give the ladies these higher quality composed songs
instead of actual “catchiness”-meaningless songs that all other comebacks have
been so far. While I am predominantly only interested in TWICE for their
leader, Jihyo, I think I will soon become a fan of all the ladies—but,
unfortunately, it will take more than just one song for me to become an avid
fan. That said, I hope that is the case: I hope for TWICE to continue
improving, and that the composition of their at worst stay at this current
solid level or, realistically, to receive even stronger composed songs. That
would be amazing considering how stunning “Knock Knock” is on a composition
level. The ladies have dancing down and are one of the more intimate group in
terms of interacting with fans based on their V App, so I very much look forward
to when they also solidify their singing and rapping and equally have reliable,
excellently composed songs. For now, I will start becoming more familiar with
them on a personality-level even if “Knock Knock” is their only comeback I find
impressive. Why, one asks? Because I am optimistic that future releases will be
as good as “Knock Knock” or even better and so, I might as well prepare to be a
regular fan, right?

_______________________________________________________

This
was one of the most time-consuming yet exhilarating reviews I have written in
all of my years doing such. Much improvement is still necessary, of course, but
the focus of this review was definitely a change from just mechanically
reviewing songs. I think I will consider adopting this type of reviewing style
but, of course, in much more concise terms. Again, reviews are shorter and are continually becoming even shorter over time;
the reason this review runs 6000 words (and thus I wished this counted for
three essays I have to do) is that I know I am writing from the perspective
that a large majority of critical listeners will disagree with. Those who are
keen on listening to music will very much disagree that this song is solidly
composed and thus, I did add extra time to really explore and expand on my
arguments so that understanding can occur.

In
terms of upcoming reviews, look forward to two requests: HIGH4’s “Love Line”
and EXO’s “Call Me Baby.” Afterwards, to end the month of March, I plan on
ending with two or one Critical Discussions posts—topics are: potentially
addressing lip-syncing and “MR Removed” (fans of TWICE should be interested as
these are oftentimes used to attack the ladies); what it takes to actually be
popular in the K-Pop scene; and perhaps an interesting discussion on “shipping”
as I noticed that trend has become rather popular for all groups of all genders
and among both Korean and international fans. There are lots to look forward
to.

Thank
you to all for reading and I hope you all “Come again tomorrow and the day
after / I will be ready and waiting.” While I am certain most will merely skim
the review (and I do not blame readers for doing such; in fact, I encourage
focusing more on the ratings and then referring to the review to find answers
if confused or in disagreement), I appreciate any time given towards the
review. And for those who are very dedicated and interested in music, I hope
this review is thought-provoking with its ideas. The point of this review is
not to spark a debate—something that implies a winner and loser; rather, the
point of this review is to spark discussions—something
that involves critical thinking, being open to multiple viewpoints, and being
mature and respectful. I hope fans of TWICE, those who musically critique
TWICE, or even those who simply dislike TWICE for no reason to focus on the
idea of discussion being the core idea of this review. (And to those who
dislike TWICE for no reason: let us all do our part of being better human
beings and not personally attack the
ladies; instead, take the dislike and shift it towards being critical of their
music where, indeed, TWICE as an artist
has room to be critiqued.)

TWICE – “TT” Review

(Music Video)

TWICE – TT

Reviewed
on October 24, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 4/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 4/10

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Instrumental]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

Fei – “Fantasy” Review

Fei – Fantasy (Dance Practice—VLive)

Fei (Miss A) – Fantasy

Reviewed
on July 28, 2016

image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Chorus: 6/10

4.     Bridge: 5/10

5.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Section Distribution: X/10

Fei:
All

Equal Value: X sections per member.  


Lyrics: 5/10

Tell me whatever you want
Whatever it is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Syncing: 7/10

– Key Points: 8/10

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

Wonder Girls – “Why So Lonely” Review

Wonder
Girls – Why So Lonely (Dance Practice)

Wonder Girls – Why
So Lonely

Reviewed
on July 19, 2016

image

“For how “Why So Lonely” differs
from this all, rather than stating that their vocals are inadequate in
diversity or that their vocals sound hollow and lifeless—in other words,
sonically at fault—Wonder Girls does in fact meet both aspects. The slight
issue, then, is purely the degree of such.”

Personal Message:
A few readers may notice a change in
terms of the review outline: a “hooking quote,” if I may use that label. In
other words, rather than the “Keep reading” being introduced at the end of the
first paragraph in the Personal Message section, only a single quote is seen
before the “Keep reading” appears—and specifically, a quote that comes from the
review itself. There are multiple reasons for this change. For the most
influential reason, it is to provide organization. Given that the Personal
Message section tends to begin with updates both personal and blog, it seems
rather absurd that, for those interested in reading a review, will have to read
that first instead of the review itself. Thus, in more blunt terms, very few
would feel inclined to “keep reading” just based on the first Personal Message
paragraph. Currently, the purpose of the shortener—the “Keep reading”—is to not
cause hassles to Tumblr followers; if this were not added, followers would have
to scroll through many seconds to just skip over a review post. (I am still
thankful to a reader for notifying me a year ago of this.) However, because of
that, I have not been fully utilizing the shortener efficiently.

Fast forwarding to what this all
means, I am now using only a single quote (and later I will discuss how I
choose the quote) as I wish to keep reviews more precise in their initial
appearance. Rather than boring readers with reading a paragraph on personal and
blog updates—of which are irrelevant to the review itself—I hope the quote
provides an idea on whether the actual review is of interest. To clarify,
though, I am not getting rid of the Personal Message category; I am solely adding
a “hooking quote” that is then followed by the “Keep reading” label. Overall, I
aim to present a sharper, cleaner entrance to reviews. Feedback as always is
desired.

Now in terms of how I am choosing
which quote is selected, I will focus on ensuring that the quotes are not silly
“click-baits.” For one, the quotes will be sentences  I have wrote in the review itself, but even
then, I will try to avoid using ones that may sound like “Let us see if this
song is good or bad” or “Let us see why this song rates poorly.” Why? Again,
those sentences merely exploit curiosity and thus, readers would then decide to
read the review not for engagement, but instead, because they were simply
searching for clarifications or answers. On the other hand, I plan to have the
hooking quote be moreover discussion based and thought-provoking—and even
controversial. For example, I might use this as the hooking quote: “But, even
if the verses rate well, the choruses drastically reduce the overall song
quality.” Some may now claim this sounds identical to the prior examples, but I
will argue there is a difference. That difference is in how readers now engage with the quote; rather than readers
continuing to read because they desire to know whether a song scored well or
poorly—or simply how a song even scored at all—the former “hooking quote”
hopefully engages reader to critically think of the song itself, not just
merely what I am asserting. In the case of the example, readers might disagree
or agree that the verses rate well, or that the choruses are the main
contributor while the verses are the sections lacking. Nonetheless, it is clear
that there is some engaging versus that of “I want to keep reading since I
wonder what this reviewer is yapping about even if I don’t care for the song
itself.”  

On topic with the review, I wish to
give a huge thank you for a requester for sending this in. In fact, she/he also
added another request for Miss A’s Fei’s solo debut, and I will also be
covering that. (And with the recent controversy a few Chinese K-Pop idols have
gotten into due to patriotism, I am more so motivated to review Fei’s new song
as she is involved in the controversy. I will digress on patriotism in Fei’s
review and hopefully apply a sociological take to patriotism versus a more
superficial one. That said though, I will exclude the political aspect as I
have not nor will venture into that perspective—general background will be
given, however. Again, sociology/literary theories are my main focuses.)

Regarding Wonder Girls’ “Why So
Lonely,” I will leave a disclaimer: biasedly, I very much dislike this song’s
style. However, even so, this review will hopefully provide an example of how
reviews can be biasedly-neutral—though as discussed in past reviews no song
review is ever free from pure biases. The reason I am disclosing this is in
case readers desire to challenge my words, and I strongly encourage that.
However all in all, I remain confident in not being biased since, as readers
will soon see, “Why So Lonely” scores decently. After all, when it comes to
reviews, I care much more about how a song functions
than how it purely sounds—the former
is where, even if a style is greatly dreaded, respect can still very much be
given for the song’s workings. On the other hand, the latter runs into bias
issues; if I judged solely on how I
perceived a song’s sounds, I would be allowed to ignore subtle yet impressive
structures just because I disliked the sound.

Without getting further off-topic,
let us return to Wonder Girls’ return after “I Feel You.” Although the
mentioned song did not hold strongly at all in a past review of it, “Why So Lonely”
renders well—even if its style is one I am personally not fond of.  

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(6.40/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 6/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Rap: 8/10

6.     Conclusion: 7/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Section Distribution: 8/10

Sunmi:
Verse, Chorus, Chorus, Chorus (Total: 4)

Yubin:
Verse, Verse, Rap (Total: 3)

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

Yeeun:
Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Chorus (Total: 4)

Equal Value: 3.25 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 5/10

Since the time I kissed you,
I thought everything was going to change
But nothing has changed
You haven’t changed
Spending a weekend night with you,
I thought it would be sweet
But nothing has changed
You haven’t changed

I’m speechless
I want to be like couples in the movies
Na na na na na
I want that kind of love

Baby why am I so lonely?
I’m so desperate, but you’re not
Baby no, my heart
I don’t know when you will leave me
(Tell me why)
What are they? Your feelings
What are they? I love you so much
But I hate this suffocating feeling

I’m blinded by love
You should be falling as hard as I am
Only you shine, but only I hurt
It’ll be alright
I try mind control,
but my man is always unpredictable
Out of control, nagging me all the time

I’m speechless
The more I know, the more unsure I get
I don’t know why I feel lonelier
Na na na na na
I feel like I’m locked in a room alone

Baby why am I so lonely?
I’m so desperate, but you’re not
Baby no, my heart
I don’t know when you will leave me
(Tell me why)
What are they? Your feelings
What are they? I love you so much
But I hate this suffocating feeling

I don’t wanna talk about it
I want you to know me without me saying it
That’s my simple wish
It passes by like the wind
You frown as if you’re annoyed
Everything you do is half-hearted
You argue that you’ve done nothing wrong
You say you’ll do better next time
But there is no next time
Before this chance becomes your last,
if you still don’t come to your senses,
I’ll kick you to the curb

Baby why am I so lonely?
I’m so desperate, but you’re not
Baby no, my heart
I don’t know when you will leave me
(Tell me why)
What are they? Your feelings
What are they? I love you so much
But I hate this suffocating feeling
What are they? Your feelings
What are they? I love you  so much
But I hate this suffocating feeling
What are they?

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

– Syncing: 7/10

– Key Points: 5/10

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

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Disappointingly,
“Why So Lonely” nearly reaches above average (seven) in its Song Score but
falls short by a marginal decimal: .10. But of course, its current score is
still admirable and should not be quickly dismissed.

Beginning
with the vocals, this song provides a new case. As some readers may know, my
critiques of vocals tend to fall within one of the following: either lacking
variety or lacking a tuneful, crisp and firm sound. For example, Oh
My Girl’s “Windy Day”
lacked in terms of providing diverse
vocals, but on the other hand NCT
127’s “Fire Truck”
lacked in providing stable, enticing
vocals themselves, and it also encountered the problem of insufficient variety.
For how “Why So Lonely” differs from this all, rather than stating that their
vocals are inadequate in diversity or that their vocals sound hollow and
lifeless—in other words, sonically at fault—Wonder Girls does in fact meet both
aspects. The slight issue, then, is purely the degree of such. Indeed, a seven
would have been earned if the ladies had a minor
extra amount of vocal variety and a slightly
more refined sound (vocally, that is).

To
now actually analysis the vocals and to further expand on the prior points, every
section does contain its own exclusive vocal style. The raps—both main and
minor, as to be discussed—provide one form, the verses and pre-choruses provide
a smoother, whispering form—the latter being moreover emphasized, and the more
stable and standard singing form that occurs in the choruses. Point is, there
is indeed a decent amount of diversity when it comes to Wonder Girls’ singing. So,
how is it problematic if, as seen, there is
vocal diversity? Again, the issue is not the lack thereof per se, but it is in
the extent of that diversity. Certainly each sections are noticeably different,
but nonetheless it cannot be overlooked that in a more overarching view, many
sections still sound slightly too identical. Take the choruses and
pre-choruses: while the choruses are more upbeat, the overall whispering style
carries over. Furthermore, this extends to all the sections if we are to look
from a more general view. Combine this along with how said whispering singing
loses its appeal as it becomes monotonous, and the vocals drop to a six versus
remaining that at a seven. Overall, however, it would be false to claim the
vocals are in any form poor or bad; the vocals are in fact decent but merely
lack a slight push that could have earned a higher rating. As for the
instrumental, the same concept applies: it may sound pleasing in of itself and
does provide vital roles for the song be it transitions or supplementing the
ladies’  vocals, but akin to the prior
critiques, it also lacks the slight push to sound a bit more sonically pleasing
and to be more structurally outstanding. (Also for a random side note, an
upcoming review on Stellar’s “Crying” will finally be a review in which I
discuss much more about the
instrumental as it is more relevant in that case.)

Regarding
the sections, many have scored remarkably. In fact, at worst, a five is given
but even then considering the abundant amounts of sixes, sevens, and even an
eight, it is reasonable to claim the sections are excellent in “Why So Lonely.”
Without running through every single section in depth as that would be rather repetitive
in this song’s case, I will instead provide a general cover. The introduction and
verses earn a six due to fulfilling their structural roles well—in other words,
for the former hooking in listeners and the latter seamlessly progressing the
song—but both fall short by a marginal amount in terms of sonic appeal. As for
the sevens earned, both the pre-choruses and the conclusion are praiseworthy. The
pre-choruses’ main striking appeal is in how the two pre-choruses differ from
one another in an effective, cohesive manner. For example, I do not wish to
connote that by differing that the sections are entirely different; this would be, unless if perfectly executed,
detrimental as it would disrupt this song’s flow and organization. Instead, what
occurs are subtle yet influential changes: the second pre-chorus contains a minor
rap while the initial pre-chorus is of standard singing. Factoring in how the
pre-choruses also smoothly help transition the song to the choruses and that
the mentioned changes provide much sonic appeal, and indeed a seven is earned.
For the conclusion, its main strength is in its natural ending the song: it is
neither abrupt nor excessive. It is a rather perfect ending to “Why So Lonely”
if that may be said. As for the rap, here is the analysis: Yubin.

Jokes
aside, she is a phenomenal rapper but that obviously in of itself does not
guaranteed solid raps. For the excelling points, the rap remains diverse as noticed
by the slower first half and faster, more intense second half. Yubin’s flow
remains in constant fluctuation from more rough, hastier lines to short pauses,
and to include the instrumental it likewise follows suit. All of these traits
augment the rap as it now renders as fun, dynamic, and varied in sound. An
extremely impressive section to “Why So Lonely” would have to be this part. And
finally, for the choruses, while rating at average is not necessarily bad, this
section is more disappointing when compared to the rest. Briefly said, the
choruses’ traits counteract one another. For example, the instrumental and
vocals begin to deviate from each other rather than being complementing, as heard
by how the instrumental becomes active when the vocals are not and conversely.
Adding on how the choruses begin to sound excessive due to the longer length
and finally background vocals that further emphasis the slower, plainer singing
and the outcome of all of these aspects is an average chorus. Interestingly, individually
all of these traits would appear to come together in an organized, cohesive manner
but that is unfortunately not the case.

Finally
for the non-musical categories of section distribution and lyrics, the former
is rather self-explanatory. If a member with four sections gave one to Hyerim,
a nine would have been earned. Thus, with just one section being the obstacle, an
eight is given. And overall, the song does provide a fairly equal distribution
when generally listening to it—with its section, specifically. (And of course
to clarify, this is not to say I am giving an eight just due to “generally
listening to it”; I am sharing this moreover as a personal remark. The rating
is based on the numbers.) In terms of the lyrics, a five is given due to two
main reasons: a typical, heartbroken plot and that many lyrics repeat the same
ideas. Predominantly the rap is the section that provides further details to
the plot, but even so it cannot compensate for the repeating, duller choruses,
pre-choruses, and even verses.

Concluding,
Wonder Girls’ latest comeback of “Why So Lonely” rates at slightly above
average for its song, and that is still admirable. Perhaps the best description
of the song is that it is rather balanced—if excluding the lyrics. But indeed,
musically the song is sufficient in its instrumental, vocals, and that its
sections are overall well-constructed. The section distribution among members
also excels. Once again, it is the lyrics if anything that slightly hinders the
song, but if it is considered a hindrance it is absolutely a negligible one. All
in all, especially with personally very much disliking the style to “Why So
Lonely,” the fact that I am still capable of greatly praising it should already
be indicative of its higher quality. (Or perhaps that I am reviewing appropriately
and not off of biases as that would be song reactions
and not reviews.) Either way, in
summary, I personally claim this song is excellent and that for people who do
find its style charming, there are now even more positives to it. And of course
for those in a similar situation as I with not finding its style pleasing, one
should still be able to admire the complex, thorough production that went into
it that allows it to thrive.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, thank you so much for the review request and apologies for the lengthy
delay. But indeed, it is finally here and I do hope this review provides new
insights. As always, reviews are not to assert firm stances that a song is a certain rating, but instead, to
provide and initiate discussions. As for other readers, thank you to all for
also reading whether in short or full. I appreciate any time given towards the
blog.

Upcoming
reviews will most likely be on—for certain Miss A’s Fei’s solo (which will be
released on July 21) as that was also requested—either Stellar, GFriend, or
Eric Nam. However, regardless of what is the next review, I expect all of them
to be covered by the end of the month or at least the early start of August.
Besides, “I don’t know when you will leave me” but I do hope you will continue
looking forward for what is to come. Expect, most likely, Stellar’s “Crying” to
be covered.

GOT7 – “Fly” Review

GOT7 – Fly (Music Video)

GOT7 – Fly (Dance Practice)

GOT7 – Fly

Reviewed
on April 9, 2016

image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 6/10

6.     Bridge: 4/10

7.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Line Distribution: 5/10

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

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

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

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

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

BamBam:
Verse 1 (Total: 1)

Yugyeom:
Verse 2, Bridge (Total: 2)

Equal Value: 3.14 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 6/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Syncing: 7/10

– Key Points: 7/10

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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