UP10TION – “White Night” Review

(Music
Video—Dance Version)

UP10TION – White
Night

Reviewed
on January 2, 2017

I will first go over why I am not
personally a fan of the song. Afterwards, however, through showcasing to
readers an application of “active listening,” I will then argue the main point
of the review despite personal biases: that “White Night” is an incredibly
solid song due to how well it manages and balances the song’s higher intensity.

Personal Message:
Edit: This review was supposed to be posted on December 31.
Unfortunately, while the review itself was finished by then, it was not
entirely ready to be published and thus I delayed it to the start of 2017.

If not clear, I truly am a master of
lip-servicing—and thus should be hired by a label company to handle “dating
scandals” their idols go through—since I am once again changing plans with
reviews despite saying how I would not. SHINee’s “1 of 1” is facing yet again
another delay, but considering how I plan to review two songs in just one day
today, I will  probably finally review it
after the current one. For now, however, we will be focusing on the men of
UP10TION—and of whom, from my understanding, are tackling a tougher “bad boy”
concept for their recent song of “White Night” versus their prior “innocent
boy” concepts. (I could be entirely wrong, though; I am not too familiar with
the group’s previous songs except for Sunyoul’s collaboration with GFriend’s
Yuju for their duo song of “Cherish.”)

To now address why I have opted to
review “White Night” by UP10TION, I find that this review will be very
musically insightful: this is a review that, I hope, will show how one can separate
their music bias and preferences from a more critical, “objectively subjective”
perspective. In other words, despite personally not being a fan of the song,
once I apply active listening to it and am truly critical of the composition, I
will actually argue “White Night” is a very promising song even if I personally do not like its style. Of course, though, it
should still be clearly noted that music will always be subjective—hence why I
say “objectively subjective.” However even so, while reviewing music is all
subjective, we can at least try to be objective through the use of evidence and
thoughtfulness and thus music reviews are still important in the sense of
respecting the works of the artists, composers, and producers.

And so focusing now on the actual review,
while my stance towards the song aligns with that of many fans—that “White
Night” is an impressive song—I will take a slightly different route with this
review than the usual of merely agreeing. I will first go over
why I am not personally a fan of the song. Afterwards, however, through
showcasing to readers an application of “active listening,” I will then argue
the main point of the review despite personal biases: that “White Night” is an
incredibly solid song due to how well it manages and balances the song’s higher
intensity.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.86/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 7/10

6.     Bridge: 7/10

7.     Conclusion: 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 7/10

Ayo UP10TION
Let me hear this:
Pay attention
Burning out burning out burning out
Burning out burning out burning out

You make a fire in my heart
Time stops and flows at your beauty
All of my nerves are standing on edge
My eyes are filled with you
I’m pouring hot oil into them
so I can burn with you

(Dizzy)
You’re burning me up until the end
I’m confident, I’m giving it my all
(No fear)
like there’s no tomorrow
Don’t look back, walk over to me
It’s already over for me, baby
Without you it’s over, baby
I’m telling you my feelings that I couldn’t before
I’ll erase all your doubts

It’s burning white
I have nothing I threw everything away
Only thing remaining is you
(You’re my last)
It’s burning black
Nothing remaining I threw everything away
Don’t try to stop this heart

Can’t stop, please don’t
Don’t make me sad anymore
Don’t stop me now
Because I’m going to run to you now
When I get close, hold out your hand
When I reach your heart, don’t reject me
Every time, I’m pulling
I try to catch you
Who can steal you away from me?
I will have you

(It’s not easy)
If this is love
I won’t dream about anything else but you
(It won’t cool down)
In this world filled with lies
Save me with your light, baby
Don’t say anything, baby
Just come to me, baby
Even if everything is over, I’m still burning
My heart has fallen for you

It’s burning white
I have nothing I threw everything away
Only thing remaining is you
(You’re my last)
It’s burning black
Nothing remaining I threw everything away
Don’t try to stop this heart

My desperate heart is not complete
It’s about to collapse like Jenga
Damn it, is loving her a sin?
I admit it, you won
You captivated all of me
My burning heart is yours

It’s burning white
(Oh)
I have nothing I threw everything away
Only thing remaining is you
(You’re my last)
Don’t go (oh) until the end (oh)
I’m burning out
Because it’s you in the end
Don’t try to stop this heart

[Conclusion instrumental]

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
beginning the review, I will leave my own surprised remarks: I am very pleased
with the ratings. It has been a very long time since I have rated a song as
above average, but indeed “White Night” is held at that standard.

Onto
the review itself, to discuss why I personally am not necessarily a fan of the
song, I find it to be excessive in a myriad of places. From the pacing, vocals,
and instrumental, “White Night” comes off as far too exciting and intense for
my own preferences. That said, while excessiveness can indeed be a flaw in
songs, we have to consider more than that: we have to understand the entire context of the song. This brings
us to the reminder I wish for readers to bear in mind: that even if a critical listener
finds that she dislikes a song due to very reasonable points—perhaps that the
vocals are too repetitive, the instrumental fails to reciprocate the same
intensity as the vocals and so on—she would need to still look further.
Specifically, a critical listener would then ask why such occurs; he would ask, “Why
is it that the composers chose to have the instrumental be disconnected from
the vocals during the pre-choruses?”

Returning
now to why I bring up my own unfiltered musical bias towards “White Night” at
all, it is true that my dislikes in the song can be argued critically: that
perhaps, indeed, the song is a bit
excessive and thus that causes the song to lose appeal in certain aspects.
However, in doing so, I forget to question why that is the case and hence why I
never review a song off pure biased, uncritical judgment. Once we critically
think of the song’s composition are actively listening to the song, I argue we
will then find a more thorough, complex conclusion: that the composers knew
exactly what they intended with “White Night” ‘s higher intensity: that they
would attempt to manage and balance it as much as possible, and upon doing so,
the song in whole would benefit in various ways. This, ultimately, is what I
argue is the case, so let us take a look at the song itself to see how the
song’s supposed “excessiveness” is in fact its strongest element.

First,
for something I truly want readers to understand that is incredibly impressive and
creative with the composition is to hear how the sections are laid out (or
“look” as I do visually write the sections down in a chronological order).
Specifically, I wish for readers to realize that there is only one verse in the
song and only one post-chorus, and moreover, that after the post-chorus the
pre-chorus immediately kicks back in. Now while this may appear to be—at
most—unusual, it is more than just a change in traditional structuring of a pop
song; I assert that this layout is key to why “White Night” is able to easily
maintain its higher intensity.

Before
getting more into that, however, it makes sense to first explain how the song
itself runs. I will do this in a hastier manner so as to get us to the prior,
main argument point. Starting at the introduction, it does a solid job of
establishing the song’s more energetic style all while bringing in an appealing
instrumental backing. Then, as expected, once the verses arrive the song takes
a more passive approach as “White Night” gradually then builds up—and that very
buildup occurs in the pre-choruses as the usual. Furthermore, the choruses play
out as the song’s climactic point: a very exciting, upbeat, intense section in
the song in which both instrumental and vocals are most strenuous and lively.
At this point, the post-choruses arrive and now we can resume our earlier
conversation on why this matters.

With
the single post-chorus, it is a peculiar section as traditionally it should be
a verse; in other words, “White Night” should have had a “cycle reset” (as I
term it) where the song’s intensity restarts back to where it was at the first
verse—a calm, passive state. However, the composers perhaps understood that
doing so would lead to my initial, biased claim: that the song is excessive.
After all, even if the progression to the song’s most intense, climactic points—such
as the choruses—was natural and seamless, the large gap between the song’s
starting passive point—such as the verse—to that climactic point would still be
too large and awkward. This is why, in many cases, songs that become very
intense only do so in a linear manner: think of many ballad songs for example.
Many ballad songs’ concluding portions can be quite dramatic and intense with
note holds, two-part singing, full-on instrumentations and the like, but as is
the case in many ballads, a majority of them are constantly rising in their
intensity; there is seldom an actual “restart” where the ballads go back to
their very beginning of a slower start. In many pop songs, though, there is
oftentimes a recycling: after a climactic point, the song then starts again at
their passive, calmer start—though unlike ballads, that initial starting point
tends to still be relatively energetic.

Hopefully
readers understand this concept and I do apologize for poorly articulating it. Point
is, “White Night”—if it had adopted a more standard pop song composition—would
have been appropriately and reasonably called “excessive” because its starting
verses would have been too drastic of a shift to its more intense, climactic
choruses—this translating, then, onto how the vocals and instrumental are
executed. However, as we can hear (and “see”), “White Night” does not use a
second verse but instead a post-chorus. This post-chorus, as a result, serves
as a creative solution: this section maintains the choruses’ intense state and
only partially decreases it but predominantly focuses on just shifting that intensity
over. And considering how the pre-choruses occur right after the post-chorus—pre-choruses
being sections that are building up that very intensity for the choruses—it
becomes both a natural transition point but also a perfect bridge to manage the
song’s higher intensity and energy without having to awkwardly “recycle” the
song as it would have done if it were following a traditional pop music format.
Overall, while what I argued may be quite confusing, in short I simply had
explained why the single post-chorus in the song is of such momentous value. It
is not there for the sake of just
being there; the post-chorus section is placed and composed particularly to
keep the song in its appropriate, fitting flow and because of this, every other
category benefits.

For
example with the vocals, while the usual desirable traits exist—diversity in style
and pacing, complex tune control via beltings and note holds, and so on—I would
argue the song’s structuring is to be credited for such (though, obviously,
praise towards the men as well for their adept singing skills). The more intense,
upbeat moments showcase equally strenuous vocals—this we can hear during the choruses
and especially towards the ending. However of course, it is not just the fact
that the vocals are strenuous that I give a high rating—nor is it because the
vocals are simply diverse in terms of also depicting moments of more
controlled, passive singing such as the verse and post-chorus; what I find most
impressive of the vocals is how it all binds together. To explain what I mean, if
we focus on the vocals as the sections change, throughout it all the vocals
never have any drastic shifts but instead are always within an appropriate
transition. The post-chorus, once again, is a perfect example: the vocals here
are not shifted back to an abrupt, calmer state but instead carry on the prior
chorus’ exciting, powerful vocals but manipulated in a manner so that it is
slightly more contained. Even the instrumental follow suit with the song’s
overarching structuring.

In
summary, “White Night” is rendered at above average based on my ratings but
that appears to be rightfully deserved. The song’s main strength is how
cohesive and maintained it is despite how intense and energetic it becomes
throughout. Through that very organized composition, everything else—the vocals
and instrumental—are able to follow through and not collapse due to messiness
and lack of control. Again, even if I personally do not necessarily enjoy the
song as I find it too intense, from a critical perspective I argue we will still
find that “White Night” is in fact actually a very solid song and was composed
quite thoroughly so as to counteract the usual problems with having a song be
this upbeat and powerful.

_______________________________________________________

I
am now posting this review on January 2—much later than intended. Because of
this, I will be aiming for eight reviews for this month but that should be
doable considering I have two weeks of break left. More male artists will be
coming out, and in fact, though I have yet to officially reply a reader left
many requests that I will promptly be working on. Also, I very much plan to
review AOA’s recent comeback so for AOA fans, do look forward to their review.

With
this being a new year, I hope readers have a healthy and joyful year. As for
this blog’s goal, I will attempt to be more dedicated and to put out more
reviews and to continually improve my analyses along with my writing. Thank you
to all for reading this review in full or skim. With 2017, “I’m giving it my
all” so look forward to many reviews to come.

Hyoyeon – “Mystery” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Live
Performance)

Hyoyeon (Girls’ Generation) – Mystery

Reviewed
on December 30, 2016

I
argue that “Mystery,” while possessing strong composition at times, is
ultimately still a weaker song due to its poor use of “filler” sections—a
concept I will explain within the review (and of course, that label is one I
personally have made up). It is those “fillers” that then limit the song
vocally, instrumentally, lyrically, and as stated, with its section
structuring.

Personal Message:
A late happy holidays (or simply
happy days for those not celebrating anything) but an early happy New Year to
readers. Although I am far behind schedule due to the holidays, there will
indeed be three reviews coming out back-to-back before December ends. Once
January arrives, I plan to start strong and to even “store” reviews that will
be posted systematically through the month once I return back to university.
This way, the blog remains rather active due to frontloading many reviews
beforehand.

Regarding the current review, while
I did say SHINee’s “1 of 1” was next, I have decided to make a change. After this
review or perhaps in January is when I will review “1 of 1.” For now, Girls’
Generation’s Hyoyeon’s solo debut, “Mystery,” will be our focus. The reason
behind this change is—besides how “Mystery” has definitely garnered much
interest due to fans’ curiosity on how Girls’ Generation’s main dancer and
rapper would handle a solo—that the composition in the song itself is quite
intriguing. There are many strong points throughout, but at the same time,
there are equally many weak points. Moreover, in terms of a musical discussion
that I find relevant, this song provides a time for me to discuss certain
“standard pop song” compositions that I hope readers will begin noticing in
other pop songs they listen to.

In short, then, “Mystery” simply
provides many points of discussion—many of which I might even have to skip
over—and this is ultimately the reason for why I feel obligated to review this
song. And of course, as said, this review provides some spotlight to
Hyoyeon—Girls’ Generation’s lovely member and oftentimes musically underrated
member as she is solely praised for her dancing.

That said, however, this review
might actually not help contradict the view that Hyoyeon’s performance is
mainly her dancing. As readers will see, “Mystery” does not fare too well in
its scoring. Unlike many fans’ opinion that “Mystery” is an example of
Hyoyeon’s vocal prowess and is overall a strong song, I unfortunately greatly
disagree—this being the third disagreement in a row based on the previous
reviews. I argue that “Mystery,” while possessing strong composition at times,
is ultimately still a weaker song due to its poor use of “filler” sections—a
concept I will explain within the review (and of course, that label is one I personally
have made up). It is those “fillers” that then limit the song vocally,
instrumentally, lyrically, and as stated, with the sections themselves.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 3/10


Sections: 4/10
(4.38/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 2/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 2/10

6.     Rap: 5/10

7.     Bridge: 4/10

8.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 4/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Acting uninterested,
this dance got your attention
My breath is fluctuating anxiously,
my gestures in the rhythm
And of course, like hypnosis
Fall into my eyes, look at me

(As if enchanted)
Without anyone knowing
(As if your heart was stolen)
Full of only me
(As if fallen deeply for me)
Yeah like that
Yeah like that
Yeah like that

Mystery mystery mystery mystery-tery
Lalalala lalalala lalalala lalalala
Mystery-tery myste-te-tery

Come and get it baby
Come and get it get it
Come and get it baby
Come and get it get it
Come and get it baby
Come and get it get it

Three, two, one
Before you know it,
you’re dancing with me
You adjusted your movements,
manners and look so well
My voice in the rhythm
And of course, like hypnosis,
these eyes are permeating
Desire me more

(As if enchanted)
Without anyone knowing
(As if your heart was stolen)
Full of only me
(As if fallen deeply for me)
Yeah like that
Yeah like that
Yeah like that

Mystery mystery mystery mystery-tery
Lalalala lalalala lalalala lalalala
Mystery-tery myste-te-tery

Come on baby, holding back is harmful, whistle
Come closer and tell me, shh everyone
Coach like you’re under hypnosis
Take me before I disappear
Come dangerously

Look into my eyes, tell me

Mystery mystery mystery mystery-tery
Lalalala lalalala lalalala lalalala
Mystery-tery myste-te-tery

Come and get it baby
Come and get it get it
Come and get it baby
Come and get it get it
Mystery-tery myste-te-tery

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
getting right into my criticism towards the song, there are still solid moments
throughout that need to be acknowledged—as is with every song. For example,
while we will soon discuss in depth on why the vocals scored at a three,
Hyoyeon’s vocals are still impressive at specific points. The verses are a
great example of such. In terms of what is most vocally appealing in the
verses, I argue the precision of the vocals is what we need to focus on. There
are lots of minimal, constantly changing details: beltings and pacing. All of
these details greatly augment the verse. For example, the beltings are minimal
and thus still allow the verses to maintain their more passive flow, and yet
with the vocal beltings indeed existing, they add the sonic appeal of variety.
Likewise with the pacing, the vocals in this sense create a rhythmic flow that
otherwise beats would take the role of—this being something that I argue is
both creative to “Mystery” but also strengthening to Hyoyeon’s vocal appeal as it
adds an additionally layer to what we hear with the vocals.

As
for other praises, to focus on the sections and their structuring, the
pre-choruses are admirable—as noted by their higher rating. Here, the
composition is quite impressive. Given that pre-choruses are the sections that
transition the song to its climactic point—typically a more upbeat chorus—it is
expected that pre-choruses buildup or “hype” a song. In “Mystery,” while the
same ideas are in place, the composers’ method of doing so is brilliant. As
noted earlier, the verses establish a rhythmic, slower flow due to how the
vocals are executed. The pre-choruses then take that flow and merely emphasize
it through not only making Hyoyeon’s vocals truly adopt an explicit
back-and-forth dynamic, but also by increasing the entire pre-chorus’ intensity
and pacing to create that familiar exciting hype.

Unfortunately,
even with those stronger aspects, “Mystery” still suffers from a lot.
Everything else I argue is too reliant on “fillers,” or if not that, then is
simply weaker for other reasons—such as the rap being only average due to
lacking a coherent, clean flow.

Before
diving right into the critiques, however, I think it is now best to clarify
what I mean by “fillers”—and more specifically, “filler sections.” From here
on, I will now remove the quotations as I hope—within this review of course—we will
consider it an “official” term. (But note: there is no such label nor concept
of “filler”; it is one I have made up as I find this best explains my argument
to readers.)

In
summary, a filler section is a section that does not necessarily add additional
components to a song but instead merely carries it forward in time. Before
using “Mystery” ‘s own examples, common filler examples that I bet many readers
are familiar with are in AOA’s “Like a Cat” and Red Velvet’s “Russian Roulette”:
in those songs, recall the parts where the ladies sing “la la la la”
repetitively. Before readers assume that it is only “la” at culprit, however, these
filler sections can still exist without using such: BTS’ “Blood Sweat &
Tears” arguably use a filler-like composition at the choruses when the members
repeat “a lot” (or “much/many”; I forget the exact word). Overall, the point is
that filler sections are incredibly repetitive parts—instrumental or vocals—that
do not add a new flow or tune and are mainly understood as just “filling” a
part in the song and oftentimes occur as the post-choruses. In fact, if readers
truly desire the official musical term for such, I believe in at least American
Pop music it has been referred to as the “millennial whoop”—this pop music concept,
regardless of labels, is exactly what I am trying to get at. Those portions of
songs that go “la la” or “whoa oh oh” or “oh oh” and so forth, is what I refer
to as filler sections. With all this hopefully understood, let us now return to
my argument of how the existing filler sections are detrimental to “Mystery.”

In
the context of vocals, the filler sections—predominantly the choruses and
post-choruses—greatly reduce the overall appeal that the vocals bring to the song.
Now that said, yes—as discussed earlier—Hyoyeon’s vocals are quite delightful
during the verses and even pre-choruses. However, once we arrive at the filler
sections, the vocals almost entirely degrade: they become chaotic, monotonous,
and fail to bring any new or useful element to “Mystery.” After all, this is
why I personally term these filler sections as such: they merely fill in
content for the song versus actually being a part of the song’s experience.

Regarding
other categories, ignoring the more explicit point of how the filler sections
themselves—the choruses and post-choruses—are rated at twos due to the poorer
execution of the filler sections, we should now focus on how even seemingly
unaffected categories are in fact indirectly influenced. With the lyrics for
example, while all the details included are varied and that the plot itself is
at least average for its creativity, it would appear that the lyrics score at a
five. However, due to the choruses and post-choruses, the lyrics at these parts
reflect the filler sections: repetitive, unnecessary lyrical details that neither
progress the plot nor provide new insight. “Lalalala,” as one can tell, is
nothing important at all in the scope of a song’s storytelling or message. Similarly
to the lyrics and vocals, the instrumental also goes through the same problems:
the instrumental is forced to follow the messiness and staleness for the
purposes of “filling” in content.

And
so, while “Mystery” could have very much scored at least at average or, if we
are very optimistic, even at slightly above average, I argue it is the filler
sections that limit this song’s potential. Those filler sections—namely the
choruses and post-choruses—negatively affect how every category runs, such as by
forcing repetitive vocals and instrumental or adding unnecessary details to the
lyrics. Even so, this review should not be interpreted or even used to bash Hyoyeon;
at most, this review critiques the composers of “Mystery” and their use of my
personally labeled “filler sections.”

When
it comes to Hyoyeon herself, I will personally argue based on the verses and
pre-choruses that while her vocal abilities are far from being utterly
impressive, they are still decent. But, for how “Mystery” should truly be
understood, I urge fans to not view her solo debut so much from a musical
perspective but rather, that fans should view this song in the lens of
performances. The song’s choreography is stunning, and coupled in with how
Hyoyeon is an extremely skilled dancer—and I truly wish to emphasize this—we need
to realize “Mystery” is here to shine Hyoyeon’s largest strength: her dancing.
Thus, while musically this song partially falters, we need to understand
Hyoyeon’s solo debut is very likely intended for fans to focus on her dance and
that is what needs to be most appreciated—and the fact that she has a solo
debut at all.

Finally,
I wish to return to the filler sections/millennial whoop and add a huge
clarification that I admittedly forgot: that filler sections are not inherently
bad at all. Three or so years later, I still hold AOA’s “Like a Cat” as the
cherished, near flawless example of how filler sections can be used as a powerful composition in songs. In that song (which
I did review; if readers are curious to see whether my current horrendous
writing could have been even more worse, feel free to read it), the
post-choruses’ “lalala” were very well structured and organized, and due to how
the song revolved around those filler
sections, they proved to be the song’s best section. Therefore, before readers
misinterpret the idea that filler sections are all useless and purely “fillers,”
I strongly caution readers to still be critical and to instead ask why and how said filler sections are used before jumping to conclusions. In
many cases admittedly many appear to be nothing more than fillers, but as mentioned
with “Like a Cat,” there are certainly those rare yet brilliant moments where
composers take those fillers and manipulate them in a way that captivates
listeners.

_______________________________________________________

December
30 and writing late at night—a sign that I truly need to fix my sleep schedule
before I return to university in roughly two weeks. Two more reviews are due
for tomorrow, and I very much am going to strive to review them. Specifically,
I plan to review Jay Park’s “Me Like Yuh” and SHINee’s “1 of 1” as, besides how
the blog needs more male artists involved as both men and women are equally
capable music artists, both songs will receive much praise. With reviews, I
truly do give my honest, critical thoughts and am never swayed by popular
opinion or faking an opinion in a way that would garner more readers and
favoritism. As such, with the past three reviews leaning towards negative
scores (“negative” in the sense of less than five for average), it is only fair
to introduce songs that very much score well and that I consider are strongly
composed.

Look
forward for them to come, and while I plan to actually review a song on January
1, I will leave a preemptive happy New Years to readers. Thank you to all for
reading this review in full or part, and for those who have been sticking
around frequently. Look forward to the next reviews—and of which, if I am
indeed on task, will be both posted on the same day back-to-back.

Bulldok – “Why Not” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Dance
Practice)

Bulldok – Why Not

Reviewed
on December 23, 2016

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 4/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Rap: 7/10

3.     Verse: 3/10

4.     Pre-Chorus: 3/10

5.     Chorus: 2/10

6.     Bridge: 2/10

7.     Conclusion (Introduction): 4/10


Instrumental: 3/10


Lyrics: 4/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

Hyorin – “Paradise” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Live
Performance)

Hyorin – Paradise

Reviewed
on November 25, 2016

Bearing this in mind, with “Paradise”
its use of the “build-up” pre-chorus is not only plain, but the execution
behind it comes short and thus, the trade of creativity for effectiveness is
wasted: there is no gained “effectiveness” at all.

Personal Message:
Oddly enough, I have never reviewed
a solo song by Hyorin. While I did review “Erase” in the past, I consider that
more as a duo than a solo. What I specifically had in mind was that I reviewed
“One Way Love” before, but surprisingly I have never done so. (Or if I did,
this goes to show how awful my searching skills are.) Regardless, because I
have not done so, this review is even more encouraging as I truly do wish
to—roughly said—review artists I have yet to review. (Again, this is a slight
stretch as Sistar and Hyorin already have much spotlight on the blog; it is the
fact that I have never reviewed a solo
by Hyorin that I feel excused to say such.)

Edit:
Timing is off due to posting this later.
For random news and updates, I am on a slight break for
Thanksgiving. With this holiday, for those who celebrate it, in addition to
perhaps time spent with loved ones, I do encourage the “theme” of genuinely
being thankful for what one has. (And even if one does not celebrate
Thanksgiving, I think it never hurts to seriously ponder over that.)
Personally, when it comes to people, I am incredibly thankful for past teachers
I have had, current professors (although certainly a “past” professor as I had
the fortune of having a wonderful professor during high school), friends, family,
and my lovely girl (a terrier-mix dog). For more material-based things, I am
very thankful for this blog and, if I could travel to the past, although I
would be not-so-nice with my old self, I would at least thank him for starting
this blog.

For a more serious challenge,
though, to Thanksgiving (or at least a time to ruminate over gratefulness), I
challenge readers to be thankful for otherwise “invisible” people, things, or
acts. For a bad example, I seldom actually stop to be grateful for the
existence of music—strange, is it not? After all for someone who reviews K-Pop
and is constantly surrounded by music and the privilege to spend time analyzing
it, how would I take music for granted? And yet I do. Now for actual examples
of thanking “invisible” people or things, how often does one truly thank, say,
the janitors in a school?

On topic, I want to keep this review
a bit more concise than usual. I do this for, as the usual, balancing school
workload, but furthermore I simply want to begin getting back into the flow of
writing reviews. Admittedly, given how long it has been since the prior song
review, it feels awkward and difficult. Thus, just getting reviews out—even if
a few have to be mediocre for the time being—is the plan.

With that, for our review of
interest, while “Paradise” is no longer accurately called a “comeback” as it
has been a few weeks since it was released, it is still somewhat recent and
definitely a new solo from Hyorin after quite a long time and thus this review
should still feel relevant. Furthermore, I have planned to review it since its
release as, admittedly, I am greatly disappointed at the song. The composition
and even execution on Hyorin’s part are lackluster, and knowing Hyorin’s prowess
as a vocalist, “Paradise” sincerely fails to bring her justice.

Of course, though, for this review
we will focus neither on “blaming” Hyorin nor anyone for that matter; the
purpose of reviews is to critically engage with a song’s own composition and
decisions made in that regard—all while maintaining maturity and respect. If
the following words come across as overly harsh, it should be noted that all
these critiques are towards the composers’ ideas and not to personally attack
them in any manner. And besides: I think it is about time the review focused on
songs that are actually lower than average. I sincerely do attempt to bring a
critical ear and mind to songs, and truly, many K-Pop songs at their worst
reside at average. This makes sense: many composers know what they are doing
and how a general audience best receives a pop song. Thus, at worst, a song may
sound “generically pop” as I have coined. But, as we will see, there are times
where I will boldly argue composers can come short and instead craft a song
that is somewhat unappealing.

And so, let us head to Hyorin’s
supposed special paradise. We would expect such a place to be beautiful,
amazing, and so on, but I instead found that we have landed on an island where
our ears are struggling to stay alive.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 3/10
(3.25/10 raw score) – “Below average”


Vocals: 4/10


Sections: 3/10
(3.33/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
4/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 3/10

4.     Chorus: 2/10

5.     Bridge: 2/10

6.     Conclusion: 4/10


Instrumental: 2/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Yeah
Welcome to paradise
I know you want it
Let’s have some fun

You always wore your jacket
Never took it off, so perfect
Even if winds of temptation blew at you
You were just like, “I don’t care”
I’m curious, I want to check
If you can reject even me
Do you not like to date
or have you not met a girl like me yet?

Even if I don’t move a finger,
I can open your heart
Your confident eyes are so cute to me
I’m going to approach you so don’t be surprised
I’ll make your heart hot
I’ll show you a dazzling paradise

Yeah, I’m different
Uh, huh
My temperature is different
It’s hot hot hot, when you’re with me
You’ll be hot hot hot, I’m always hot
Take it off, take it off, I already won
I know you want to
Listen up

You always wear black sunglasses
Covering your eyes, pretending not to care
Even if all these eyes of temptation pour on you
You don’t even turn your head
I’m curious about your limit
Poke me, make me burn even more
You’ve never seen this before, never even imagined
Your jaw is gonna drop, oh God

Even if I don’t move a finger,
I can open your heart
Your confident eyes are so cute to me
I’m going to approach you so don’t be surprised
I’ll make your heart hot
I’ll show you a dazzling paradise

Yeah, I’m different
Uh, huh
My temperature is different
It’s hot hot hot, when you’re with me
You’ll be hot hot hot, I’m always hot
Take it off, take it off, I already won

[Bridge]

Even if I don’t move a finger, I can open your heart
(I’m a paradise)
Your confident eyes are so cute to me
(Cute)
I’m going to approach you so don’t be surprised
(Don’t be surprised, yeah)
I’ll make your heart hot
I’ll show you a dazzling paradise

Yeah, I’m different
Uh, huh
My temperature is different
It’s hot hot hot, when you’re with me
You’ll be hot hot hot, I’m always hot
Take it off, take it off, I already won

I’ll show you, paradise

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Shocking
for some, the song does score at a three for below average. In this review, we
will first focus on what I argue are the song’s weakest aspects—the sections
and instrumental, and afterwards, we will focus on the strengths of the song—the
vocals in certain cases.

With
the sections, they are arguably in one of the worst scenarios a song could face:
generic in format, but on top of that, poorly executed and failing to meet with
each section’s goal. The pre-choruses, choruses, and bridge are excellent
examples to look at.

When
it comes to the pre-choruses, I think many would agree they follow a generic
format. For those unfamiliar or unable to hear it, the general pop pre-chorus
is when the pre-chorus takes a pause in intensity and pacing once the section
occurs, and from there, it gradually begins to build up in intensity and
increases in its pacing. Consider it a “dive-down-then-back-up” type of format.

Now
regarding why it is troubling in “Paradise,” the use of an extremely common
technique is already limiting in of itself. Pop songs—ones that wish to stand
out—need to deviate away from these
very typical forms while still maintaining some familiarity. In “Paradise,”
this is not the case: it follows quite rigidly a generic pre-chorus format. The
result, then, is that “Paradise” in juxtaposition to other pop songs becomes
indistinguishable and that lack of specialty makes the song negligible.

Another
problem is that the pre-choruses fail
in their goal—and this is despite using a generic format. Explaining what I mean
and why that is significant, we should first understand why this “build-up”
pre-chorus format is typical in the first place. Although there are many
answers, I argue one of the prevalent reasons is that, simply put, it is
effective: a casual listener can hear the clear transition and it is very
predictable in form; in other words, it is easy to follow. Bearing this in
mind, with “Paradise” its use of the “build-up” pre-chorus is not only plain,
but the execution behind it comes short and thus, the trade of creativity for
effectiveness is wasted: there is no gained “effectiveness” at all.

In
terms of why I claim this is from two main reasons: one is that the vocals and
instrumental fail to connect, and secondly, the actual shifts in intensity
occur far too late. With the former, it is quite absurd that Hyorin’s vocals
are already escalating in intensity and yet, the instrumental drags behind. Later,
the opposite occurs: the instrumental begins to outpace the vocals’ own shift
in intensity. This lack of coordination, as a result, leads to listeners
becoming confused—and ironically enough, the reason this generic form is used
is to prevent that in the first place. Lastly, for the latter, it should be
noted that the pre-choruses stall towards the beginning half; during this
portion, the song is in a “break,” but it does not do anything else until the
second half. Only then do we receive the actual shift in intensity. Overall,
with a very late shifting point and the vocals and instrumental conflicting
each other, it leads to rather compromised pre-choruses.

Although
I do wish to discuss the bridge and choruses in the context of format, I believe
the prior example should give a general guide as to what I am thinking.
Essentially, this same idea applies to the bridge and choruses: generic in
format, and yet still lacking in execution and therefore, failing to be
successful in the sections’ general goal. As such, let us now proceed to the
instrumental itself—a category I believe that equally weakens “Paradise.”

Harshly
said, the instrumental is definitely a weaker one that I have heard. Only Hyuna’s
“How’s This?” comes into mind as another equally weak instrumental. Within the
instrumental itself, it lacks in both sonic appeal and structure—though ultimately,
I assert the latter is the more detrimental aspect. Either way, in terms of why
I claim the instrumental in a raw sense—a sonic sense—is poor, it renders as
extremely chaotic and lacks complexity. Of course, though, simplicity in an
instrumental can be very beautiful
and effective—Taeyeon’s “11:11” is the best example by far of an amazing
instrumental despite simplicity—but in “Paradise,” given the song’s sections
are all rather generic, having an overly simple, linear instrumental fails to
match the sections. And onto the point of the instrumental being chaotic and
disorganized, this lack of cohesion between the sections’ purpose—think back to
our discussion of the pre-choruses—and the instrumental’s actual flow creates a
confusing, rough listening experience.

Optimistically,
however, as in any song—no matter how weak—there will always be strengths. In “Paradise,”
while the vocals do score lower than usual—and more so if we consider that it
is Hyorin, a singer who normally rates at a seven—the vocals are still actually
the strongest point in the song. Why, then, I give a four is that the vocals
are only the strongest point in certain
situations
; the problem is that, for a vast majority of the song, the
vocals are exceptionally limited in their tune and diversity. Ignoring that,
though, the verses in specific are a good example of what could have carried
the bulk of the song: vocals that are more strenuous and adding a large amount
of tune and flow to an otherwise stale, typical pop song. The minor vocal
beltings here and the variety of note fluctuations definitely grant the verses
some credit—and this being why these sections in particular scored much better
than the rest.  

All
in all, while we truly could look through each section and at each detail to
the song, I believe the given analysis provides a sufficient view on where I
gauge “Paradise.” (And as always, I have to strike a balance between readers who
are very much into analyzing music versus casual fans who want to see where
some people are rating their favorite artist’s songs—I openly welcome both
types of readers and do my best to accommodate both audiences.) In the end, “Paradise”
is, sadly, a below average song; there are far too many weaknesses to the song
and barely any positive points to compensate for those glaring issues. Again, I
wish to emphasize that it is not Hyorin to blame—or, as said, anyone for that
said. “Blaming” is a poor word to use here; the word that is accurate is “critique.”
At most I am critiquing the composers and producers of the song. Knowing Hyorin
is a solid singer and that past releases of her’s—solos or duos—have been quite
decent, this latest release is beyond disappointing. She deserved a far better
produced and composed song, and boldly said, I believe fans equally deserved
better.

Regardless,
however, fans should still very much support Hyorin and Sistar on a personal level,
but as I encourage in reviews, fans should always be musically (and socially if
it arises) critical of the music they consume. And that said, realize I am by
far no specialist in music at all: it is absolutely fine—encouraged, even—for readers
to disagree with me. This is why I write reviews: not to merely share my
opinion, but to begin igniting an intellectual discussion among fans. But, in
short, “Paradise” is a disappointing release and I hope there are much better
composed songs for Hyorin’s future solos.

_______________________________________________________

As
always, thank you to all for joining in this review whether read in full or
skimmed. I do hope this review comes across as genuine critique and not, say,
unnecessary criticism for the sake of “being above pop music.” In other words,
I do attempt to share my take to K-Pop song in a more reasonable way; “Paradise”
scoring poorly is not an attempt to garner attention via controversy. I
personally do find it a weaker song, but again, a weak song does not mean the
composers in of themselves are unskilled nor are the singers involved
unskilled. This song in specific is what is weaker.

In
terms of the next review, UP10TION has surprised me with their latest song, and
given that I am behind reviewing male groups, they will receive priority. That
said, 2NE1 recently disbanded, so it might be time I finally give one of their
songs a review and for me to perhaps give personal opinions on the manner and
why, I argue, it is definitely healthy for fans to be upset and that they are
not “delusional” or “should just get over it.”

Until
then, “Even if I don’t move a finger, / I can open your heart” through reviews—and
by “open your heart” I mean by frustrating readers with mediocre writing
skills. Just look forward to the next review.

GFriend’s Reality Show – “Look After My Dog” Review

GFriend – Look After My Dog (Full Playlist)

GFriend
Look After My Dog

Reviewed on November 19, 2016

There
should be structure in place to keep viewers feeling orientated, but if it is
to the degree that each episode begins feeling the same, that said structure is
too excessive and rigid.

Personal
Message:
Believe it
or not, this review was supposed to
take place on September 7. Clearly, we are quite far away from that day but
regardless, this review will still serve its purpose: being a fun, extra bonus
for readers. On my end, this bonus show review also allows a shorter write
along with a chance to update readers on the lack of reviews as of the late.

With that said, first of all, I do
apologize to readers who continually check back for the latest review. As the
university semester comes to end, so do students—in the sense of being
incredibly busy that is, and not literally. (Though that said, I will leave a
reminder for people, in college or not, to not only constantly check that their
own mental health is in good shape, but to also look out for others’ mental
health. We all have a social and ethical—and for people of faith, religious—responsibility
to help one another, and specifically with university, it can be very stressful
to students and could lead to destructive behaviors if not an “end” to life—and
this is why I address this as I do not wish my prior comment to be taken as a
joke towards college student suicides at all.) Serious reminder aside, point
is, I am incredibly busy. Unfortunately, though, I have not been as productive
as possible and thus, reviews had to be put on halt to compensate for my own
doing. All, however, is going well and I do hope to soon begin writing many
more reviews.

Furthermore, subtitling Fiestar
videos will resume shortly (and more so now that my subtitling computer is a
much more capable machine than the prior one I was using—the prior being used
purely for hard-drive space despite it being vastly slower), but more boldly, I
plan on subtitling—if not entire episodes, at least clips—of GFriend’s latest
reality show: Europe That GFriend Loves.
Most likely it will be clips, but time will tell and equally whether any other
individual or group will be doing so.

Lastly, for a final update, to share
one of my current “assignments”—personally better phrased as “project”—I am
writing a paper that is about GFriend. That is right: I have taken the bold
move of bringing in a non-American, non-English approach in an English class.
Now some readers may be wondering, “What are you writing about GFriend that it
would be considered academic and
related to English class?” My answer to this: I am going to be analyzing
GFriend’s “Navillera” through a “queer studies” lens; in other words,
especially for those unfamiliar with the English/literature discipline, I am
going to be applying a sexuality lens—though this simpler explanation hardly
brings justice to what queer studies is truly about. Basically, though, I will
be arguing that “Navillera” is a significantly complex, deep music video and
song about queerness and “the closet”—the idea that those queer have to hide
their sexuality unlike those who are socially privileged with being
heterosexual.

Now, why do I share this at all; am
I not just bragging? No, I am not doing this to brag. I share this to
potentially inspire readers that, contrary to inner thoughts, one can bring K-Pop into their academics
even if they are not, say, in South Korea or an Asian country. After all, K-Pop
is still popular culture—and there
indeed are many studies within this field. In many ways, it is almost
interconnected with English and literary studies as the same lenses and
theories can be applied: examples being looking at race, gender, class, and so
on. All in all, the point of this is to remind readers that personal interests should—in my opinion as an upcoming
educator—very much be included in academics. If given the chance to do such, do
not shy away: be bold and brave and bring in that personal passion, whether it
is for English, physics, math, and so forth.

Now that we are completely
off-topic, let us actually focus on this review. Besides, it is embarrassing
that the Personal Message will probably be longer than the review itself. With Look After My Dog—and of which will be
referred to as LAMD from here on—it
was GFriend’s very first reality show if correct. I have watched it in
September, and it is a shame that the uploaded videos with English subtitles
are gone (due to the subbing group’s channel being terminated for copyright
issues). Because of that, I have linked the episodes but they are without
English subtitles. As such, for those who are unfamiliar with Korean, the show
may be more difficult to watch but I would still encourage watching it even if
a language barrier exists. After all: there are dogs. Dogs. How can one not watch a show if there are adorable, sweet
dogs in it? “Woman’s best friend” is certainly true. I am not being completely
biased; obviously that is not the case because dogs are objectively and
factually the most amazing creatures ever. Right?

Jokes aside, let us actually take a
look at the show and whether I truly do recommend it—dogs included or not.

_______________________________________________________

Plot
Summary:
For a
rough guide, LAMD is a 12-episode
series where GFriend, as the title implies, looks after the dogs of dog parents.
Specifically, though, if we ignore the initial episodes, GFriend is split into
two teams that each watch over different dogs: Yuju, SinB, and Umji on one team;
Sowon, Eunha, and Yerin on the other.

Regarding the actual layout of the
show, the first episode (and perhaps second if my memory is correct) focused
primarily on establishing the show and getting the members comfortable with
their upcoming tasks. At most, GFriend went through minor “dog lessons” in
terms of how to properly treat and monitor dogs—and yes, dogs are seen. But, as
said, it is all background for the show.

After the first (and maybe second)
episode, the actual show begins: each team is given a dog—or dogs—to look after,
but additionally each team is tasked with a personal to-do list for the dog(s).

For example, in one episode, Sowon’s
team is dogsitting two poodles but their task involved taking professional
photographs of the poodles. Now within that very same episode, Yuju’s team is
watching over their own dog: an Old English Sheepdog. Their task, expectedly,
reflects the need of the dog’s parents: taking him out for a walk, and later, a
grooming session. In terms of the ending structure of an episode, both teams
start a live broadcast and, in a competition, attempt to garner more viewers
than the other team. The dogs they looked after oftentimes are included in the
broadcast, though they may include special guests such as a veterinarian.
Whichever team manages to “win” would then earn rewards—treats, shampoos,
etc.—for the dogs they looked after.

This formula runs throughout the
rest of the show—or at least, certainly through the first eight episodes.

_______________________________________________________

Overall
Value: 5/10
(5.0/10
raw score) – “Average”

– Entertainment Value: 7/10

– Structural Value: 3/10

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
Statistically, yes, I have included
a number for the sake of it. However unlike song reviews where I do have more
experience and actual critiquing points, here I lack that and thus, the ratings
should be taken skeptically and lightly. Nevertheless, they provide a visual
representation of what I personally take the show to be: average—even if there
are adorable dogs included.

Beginning first with the positives,
it is worth crediting the show for being entertaining in a raw, pure sense. If
ignoring how the show is structured and focusing on the occurring events and
how appealing the show is, I definitely do not deny that the show is enticing.

For one, GFriend in of themselves
provide a lot of entertainment in of themselves. An example is watching Yerin’s
struggle with managing many puppies: these scenes provide some chuckles and
sweet moments. Of course, though, GFriend’s interaction with each other and the
dogs is quite entertaining in of itself—and arguably this is the main core
appeal to the show. As already addressed in the summary, the show’s events are
quite diverse and equally the dogs. There are seldom—if at all—repeated activities
and this is per team to emphasize. As a result, then, each episode is, cliché as
it is to say, a new adventure: a viewer does not know what she/he can expect
next. I argue it is overall this factor to LAMD
that keeps it luring in viewers even if its biggest downfall—being overly
repetitive in layout—exists.

On that note, let us finally address
why I do not find the show entirely compelling. As stated, the show’s layout is
incredibly repetitive—after all, a reader could look over the Plot Summary once
again and realize that. Basically, the show follows the same rigid outline—even
if the activities differ. By even the fifth episode, the show begins to
languish on the pure basis that the show becomes overly predictable. There is
no surprising, new factor to maintain a high level of care for the show;
overtime, despite knowing that activities are different, viewers begin losing
interest because overall there is a routine pattern in place. Sure
predictability and structure is essential to a show—this is definitely true and
I am not quite disagreeing with this. But the point is, when a show becomes overly predictable, it feels that the
third episode carries the same essence as the eighth—and this, indeed, is
problematic. There should be structure in place to keep viewers feeling
orientated, but if it is to the degree that each episode begins feeling the
same, that said structure is too excessive and rigid. Lastly, with the
broadcasting portion appearing irrelevant as it suddenly becomes Look After My Dog and Look After Our
Broadcast
, I find the structural aspect not only leaning towards being too stale,
but also disorganized as it would be preferable for GFriend’s interaction with
dogs to be the main highlight versus suddenly including a competitive aspect.

LAMD is ultimately a show worth watching
if one is either—or perhaps both—a fan of dogs and GFriend, but harshly said, I
do not recommend watching past around seven or eight episodes. It becomes far
too dull the longer one engages with it, and given that other reality shows
exist with GFriend participating, I would prioritize those ahead of LAMD. (An example is GFriend’s and
MAMAMOO’s collaborating reality show, Showtime—which
I
did review
.) Unless if this is a show remaining on a personal “watch list,”
I find it less appealing than most.

_______________________________________________________

As the usual, thank you to all for
reading or skimming—though given the shorter and less thorough analysis, I
expect many would read it versus just skimming for ratings as in a song review.
Again, show reviews are meant to be understood as a bonus post and as being based on very subjective
reasons. I lack knowledge with how to actually deconstruct visual mediums and
thus, truly cannot provide more “objective subjective” reasons as I do in song
reviews.

While I will attempt to reach at
least four reviews for the month, I hope readers are understanding for the lack
of reviews but I will do my best to catch up. There are a few reviews already
in mind—many of which are new artists to the blog (and even newly debuted) so
look forward to those.

Until then, for those with dogs,
continue to love and snuggle them. To those without dogs, continue to love and
snuggle plushies and other human beings. Look forward to most likely BULLDOK’s “Why
Not”—a recently debuted female group that has been garnering much attention for
their first release.

Apink – “Only One” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Dance
Practice)

Apink – Only One

Reviewed
on October 31, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 6/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 5/10

[Instrumental]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

TWICE – “TT” Review

(Music Video)

TWICE – TT

Reviewed
on October 24, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 4/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 4/10

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Instrumental]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

BTS – “Blood Sweat & Tears” Review

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

BTS (Bangtan Boys) – Blood
Sweat & Tears

Reviewed
on October 16, 2016

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


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

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

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

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 7/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

Crayon Pop  – “Doo Doom Chit” Review

(Dance
Practice)

Crayon Pop – Doo
Doom Chit

Reviewed
on October 9, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 4/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
4/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 3/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 4/10

6.     Rap: 5/10

7.     Bridge: 5/10

8.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 3/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

Infinite – “The Eye” Review

(Music Video) / (Live Performance)

Infinite – The Eye

Reviewed
on October 5, 2016

image

This explanation is very much lacking as arguably all pop songs follow this form in one way or another, but the distinction I wish to draw on is that “The Eye” is predominantly interested in the hyping—the “building up”—aspect of the song’s progression. Is that a benefit or detriment? In this review, I argue it is both and hence why many might be flustered over whether “The Eye” is a solid release or not.

Personal Message:
It has been, as of this sentence,
nine or so days since the last review. Furthermore, it is already a new month:
October. Due to the many essays I have been writing, reviews have sadly become
delayed. Nonetheless, I hope readers understand and to that I would like to
thank readers for being patient. For other news, as some might have noticed,
the links have been revised so that they are less redundant; rather than
listing each link on its own separate line and repeating the artist and song
name, it is now simply “(Music Video) / (Dance Practice)” or whatever is
appropriate. Nothing significant, but these minor changes towards helping
improving the blog in any form—content and aesthetics—are always welcomed.  

On topic with Infinite and their
recent comeback, while I do not review choreographies anymore (and rightfully
so; I lack the analytical skills for such), I strongly recommend readers to
watch the linked live performance (or if in the far future, then the dance
practice). Infinite is very much recognized for their dancing and “The Eye” is
no exception. I would even go as far as claiming this is their best
choreography as of yet. Of course, though, for our purposes, let us focus on
the song itself. From my knowledge, current views of “The Eye” are a mix: some
fans greatly praise the song; some fans find it mediocre but that it contains
Infinite’s signature sound; and some fans find the song to lean moreover the
weaker side and is not “Infinite-like.” In other words, there is currently no
main take to the song. In terms of where I will argue where the song stands, I
actually believe that the current mixtures of opinions are rather accurate:
“The Eye” is a convoluted song in the sense that it contains many impressive
points, and yet, it is still lacking at other points. Let us now dive right
into the eye of the song.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
4/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 4/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 6/10

[Instrumental]

It’s all over, I forgot it all
Finally, I’ve erased you
It was so long, it was so hard
But I’m saying goodbye to this break up
It has all ended, it has all stopped
Finally, light is coming down
The stormy rain and wind
Has finally stopped but

Your memories
Wrap around me again
Even when I take one step
I get drenched with you
The place I left you
The place I ran away from
It’s the center of my memories of you
I finally realize

After a break up that hasn’t ended
I’m saying goodbye to this break up
The fate that has remained with me
I try to escape from you
I try to run far away
But I’m swept up by you again

After a break up that hasn’t ended
I’m saying goodbye to this break up
These feelings that I still have
I can’t forget you, I can’t erase you
With eyes filled with sin
I’m trapped in your eyes
Trapped

You were so beautiful
We were so happy
In your memories
In the light of the memories
I think I could live

But I don’t think I can do this again
I don’t think I can pierce through you and leave
In your photo
I’m reflected in those eyes
I still can’t do anything
So I’m crying

Your eyes, your face
They sweep me up again
You fall as rain that are like prison bars
Closing up my heart

After a break up that hasn’t ended
I’m saying goodbye to this break up
The fate that has remained with me
I try to escape from you
I try to run far away
But I’m swept up by you again

After a break up that hasn’t ended
I’m saying goodbye to this break up
These feelings that I still have
I can’t forget you, I can’t erase you
With eyes filled with sin
I’m trapped in your eyes
Trapped

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: To
note, this will most likely be a faster review given how busy I am (and that
there are many songs to catch up on). If possible, I will finish this review in
two paragraphs at most.

Onto
the review, “The Eye” holds at a six which is still a decent score. That said,
though, in comparison to past releases such as the much older ones of “Last
Romeo” and “The Chaser” (which I have reviewed), it is slightly weaker if we
judge from a numerical context. For what we will be focusing on in specific, I
believe the reason for “The Eye” ‘s mixture of opinions would be in how its
main strength is actually its  main
weakness: the structuring of the song—in other words, how the song’s
progression is formed.

Clarifying
what I mean with the term “progression,” I am referring to how the song
essentially flows. In a very rudimentary explanation of “The Eye” ‘s
progression—again, realize there is much
more involved, and of which I hope to cover later—the song heavily focuses on
building up to the climaxes—in this case, the choruses—and from there, it
repeats this cycle. This explanation is very much lacking as arguably all pop
songs follow this form in one way or another, but the distinction I wish to
draw on is that “The Eye” is predominantly interested in the hyping—the “building up”—aspect of the
song’s progression. Is that a benefit or detriment? In this review, I argue it
is both and hence why many might be flustered over whether “The Eye” is a solid
release or not. With all this hopefully clarified and in mind, let us look into
the effects of this emphasized “hyping.”

Focusing
first on the vocals, the hyping-orientated take very much strengthens the
vocals—or more accurately, it diversifies
the vocals. Consider the vocals in an overarching view: from the very
beginning, Infinite’s slower, passive, and lower singing is showcased. However,
“The Eye” begins to pick up much quickly from here and soon, the vocals
progress to a much hastier pacing and likewise notes begin to equally escalate
along with intensity. Eventually, the climaxes occur—which, as said, are the
choruses—and from here a more direct, powerful approach is taken with Infinite’s
vocals. In summary, then, because “The Eye” is structured in a form that cares
less of the end—the climactic choruses—and more on the path to getting there,
listeners are exposed a multitude of vocal styles, intensities, pacing, and so
forth. As a result, the vocals become appealing due to that variety. On top of
that all, though, is that the actual execution holds well. It is more than just
variety at play; the men excellently cover the transitioning points, are
tuneful and harmonious among one another, and appropriately match their vocals
to the song’s state (hyping, climax, etc.). Adding to this, the instrumental
follows a similar route and many of the mentioned points would equally apply to
it.

The
downside to this all, however, is the emphasis towards hyping creates problems
for the sections—but understandably so. Right from the start, listeners might
notice the introduction is potentially dragged; it appears excessive in length
and yet does not necessarily establish the song’s overall tone and style. Even
if the song’s emotional tone is established—a solemn tone—on a musical sense,
one cannot foresee if the song would take the form of a ballad or an upbeat pop
song. Regardless, the main critique to point to is the length; the
establishment of tone and so forth is not as significant as the introduction itself
taking extra seconds despite already setting up the song (and again, of which I
argue is not precise). Other moments for where the emphasized hyping is
problematic would be towards the post-choruses and the conclusion. The
post-choruses in “The Eye” are meant for recycling the song’s progression so
that it can begin anew with a slower, calmer start, but unfortunately the post-choruses
fulfilled that role somewhat poorly. In some aspects, the post-choruses
actually increase the intensity versus just gradually decreasing it—this being
a contradicting flow if considering how “The Eye” needs a proper resetting for
its specific hyping style to work. Nonetheless, given the quick and sharp ends
to them, they are still functional; the issue, then, is that they are not
necessarily efficient at their roles.

“The
Eye” is overall still an impressive song, however. It may reach an impressive,
superb standard, but it nevertheless holds decently. Certainly, the men’s
vocals continue to shine due to the song’s focus on hyping and that, while some
issues occurred with that very focus, I personally appreciate the song’s unique
decision of that. It has been a while since I last heard a song where the
building-up—the hyping—is more focused than on its climactic points. This is
also why the producer(s)’ decision to not include a bridge is wonderful: a
bridge would not have fit the song and would have very much counteracted the
song’s main emphasis. All in all,  “The
Eye” may not be Infinite’s strongest song, but it may be one of Infinite’s more
unique ones and absolutely the dancing involved—even if not musical per se—is
the song’s best asset.

_______________________________________________________

Again,
I apologize to readers for not posting content for a while. On the positive
side, I will have a break soon and plan to catch up during that. As said,
though, university comes first but know that, even if not writing, I am
constantly doing the analytical work of reviews ahead of time. And that I have
recently been binge-watching Apink and now have a huge idol crush on Eunji who
is also very much my “ideal type” along with SPICA’s Boa but this is all irrelevant news. Imagine the last sentence being
said in an accelerated way. Jokes aside, I will work on reviewing Hyuna’s “How’s
This?” soon and with that to finally have a social discussion (it has been months
since the last if correct), and from there to then review Crayon Pop’s “Doo
Doom Chit.”

Until
then, “I can’t forget you, I can’t erase you.” Look forward to whichever review
comes first.