EXO x Yoo Jaesuk – “Dancing King” Review

EXO
x Yoo Jaesuk – Dancing King (Music Video)

EXO x Yoo Jaesuk – Dancing
King

Reviewed
on September 26, 2016

The result, then, is that the pre-choruses seemingly sound extraordinarily more amped and vocally intensive. In reality is it the contrast—going from an indistinctive verse to an exciting pre-chorus—that is at play, but nonetheless, this composition decision is admirable.

Personal Message:
I am a hypocrite as my initial plans
of reviewing both 2PM and Infinite has changed: I will review the two groups
after this one. Furthermore, so many comebacks have occurred that I simply am
feeling overwhelmed: MAMAMOO, Apink, Jieun (from Secret), and others. Perhaps
reviews that are limited to one paragraph may be necessary, but that is
impossible if I am to dive into any form of details. Again, focusing on
critical points versus filler-details—a writing skill that is vital everywhere—will
be how I follow through with these reviews. (But of course, I will devote a lot
of time in Hyuna’s review to discuss slut-shaming and misunderstandings of “double-standards.”)

But on topic, how could I resist reviewing
a song involving South Korea’s “National MC” and arguably one of the national
boy groups? Yoo Jaesuk, for readers unfamiliar, is an MC and comedian and many
have praised him—I equally—for being phenomenal at both. For example, Happy Together is a show he hosts and
indeed, he is wonderful at that and is simply a very wonderful man. Likewise,
EXO is one of the most popular male groups and thus, reviews on them always
tend to be desired on the basis of popularity. All that covered, EXO and Jaesuk
have indeed collaborated for a song: “Dancing King.” Personally, I am surprised
at the song in both realms of the collaboration but more importantly, that
despite the song’s style being one I tend to steer away from, “Dancing King”
essentially takes what I most hate in songs and makes those very traits
desirable. In other words, the EDM-club genre where songs follow the
progression of building up a song which then climaxes in an instrumental break
tend to be songs I just personally dislike. There is no exact reason per se; I
just do not like them as a preference. However, “Dancing King,” despite
following that exact form, is one I enjoy. Furthermore, and for what actually
matters, on a more critical level I still find “Dancing King” very impressive.
It truly is well composed and produced, as this review will hopefully explain.
After all, the point of music reviews is to dive into those deeper components
and to then create a room for discussion via disagreeing and agreeing.

Enough said, let us take a look at
the dancing kings’ song.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(5.75/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 6/10
(6.33/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Pre-Chorus: 8/10

3.     Verse: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Hey hey hey hey
Hey hey hey hey
Hey hey hey hey

My heart is beating from the hot rhythm
My heart is heating up right now
Come on, shake it, wake up your instinct
Before this moment is over
Ayaya, tonight I’m the dancing king
Falling for me
Ayaya, tonight dance with me all night

Oh throwing the boring day far away
Keep the joy that was sleeping inside of me
Hop into here, the magic of rhythm
Señorita, I’ll give you a surprising night
Give yourself to the clumsy gestures
Just get crazy
(Ooh ah, ah, ah, ah, ah)
Feed the fire in your exhausted heart
Let’s dance together, ‘cause tonight

My heart is beating from the hot rhythm
My heart is heating up right now
Come on, shake it, wake up your instinct
Before this moment is over
Ayaya, tonight I’m the dancing king
Falling for me
Ayaya, tonight dance with me all night
(Get ready)

[Instrumental]

When you want to forget all annoying things
Don’t worry, you can just come to me
Yeah Mambo, Tango, Rumba, Samba
Tell me whatever it is, buona sera
I’ll invite you to a wonderful world
Give yourself to the clumsy gestures
Just get crazy
(Ooh ah, ah, ah, ah, ah)
Just for this time, forget everything
Let’s dance together, ’cause tonight

My heart is beating from the hot rhythm
(Don’t hesitate)
My heart is heating up right now
(Heating up)
Come on, shake it
Wake up your instinct
(Shake it together)
Before this moment is over
(Oh yeah)
Ayaya, tonight I’m the dancing king
Falling for me
Ayaya, tonight dance with me all night

Shake it to the left, now shake it to the right
Until the moonset, don’t stop yourself
Shake your body, oh my, dancing all night
Blinded by you, I can’t let you go

We only live once anyway
Shall we run to that end over there?
Come on, shake it, wake up your instinct
We’re happy like this right now
Ayaya, tonight I’m the dancing king
Falling for me
Ayaya, tonight dance with me all night
(Get ready)

[Instrumental]

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
Perhaps my praise is misguiding; readers might have expected an above average
rating (seven) but instead it is a six.

For
what is ultimately the song’s biggest strength, the setup for the choruses—the instrumental
break/solo—is fantastic. Statistically, this is seen in the pre-choruses’
score, but I encourage readers to be analytical versus merely observational.
The “setup” I refer to is not just the pre-choruses but also, counter-intuitively,
the verses. The verses being merely average is what provides a foundational
start for the pre-choruses: contrast is able to be manipulated. With the verses
carrying minimal significance, the change to the pre-choruses’ playful and
tuneful vocals along with the suiting instrumental makes that very transition—that
contrast—quite contrasting, but all in a controlled and positive manner. The result,
then, is that the pre-choruses seemingly sound
extraordinarily more amped and vocally intensive. In reality is it the contrast—going
from an indistinctive verse to an exciting pre-chorus—that is at play, but
nonetheless, this composition decision is admirable.

Additionally,
for another excellent point and one that allows me to both biasedly and
critically enjoy the “bass-drop” or “instrumental break/solo”—in other words, the
choruses—is how the very choruses sound. Unlike many other songs where these
instrumental solos are roughly inserted into songs and sound awfully chaotic, “Dancing
King” mediates it quite well. For one, during the first verse, the instrumental
solo is actually playing. Although this seems minor, doing so eases the
incoming instrumental solo—this being quite important to keep these solos from
becoming chaotic or unexpected. Now when it comes to the choruses themselves
where the instrumental solo does occur, there is another reason for why it is
appropriately managed: the instrumental itself is scaled to fit the song. The
tempo did not suddenly multiply nor are there random, blasts of electronic
noises. Indeed, “Dancing King” ‘s instrumental solo is at most a funkier moment
if I may say so, but all in all it maintains a suiting, controlled sound.

Even
with these praises, though, there are still downsides to the song that I will
cover. Marginal critiques would be that the vocals are, while decent, nothing
beyond that; the vocals at certain sections—examples being the verses and
bridge—provide a sufficient role but do not go to the extent of surprising me
via vocal belts, very smooth and pacifying tunes, and the like. On that note,
the verses and bridges were partially lackluster and rendered average due to
moreover continuing the song versus leaving noticeable appeals. Finally, what
perhaps holds the rating back by a decent portion would be the lyrics: lyrics
that simply focus on letting loose and dancing. Certainly the message is one
that should be cherished and very much so as an important aspect of living is
to in fact live, but with applying my
criteria equally for all reviews—in other words judging how unique the lyrics’
plot is and how diverse and thorough the lyrics’ details are—the lyrics come
short.

“Dancing
King” is one of the few songs where, as stated earlier, I can openly say I
enjoy it biasedly and seriously despite its style being one that normally
deters me. It is not the strongest song per se, but indeed it is a decent one
and perhaps one that many would enjoy for the purposes of having an upbeat,
EDM-club song. In the end, I greatly applaud the coordinated use of the
pre-choruses and how properly managed the choruses/instrumental solos are. I
would be even more allured to the song if its lyrics contained more depth and
if the vocals and specific sections were slightly more refined, but overall, “Dancing
King” is very much an enjoyable song.

_______________________________________________________

Because
writing three essays was not enough for me in the past few days, I will add
this review to the writing batch. All is well, however, and after watching and
listening to all of the recent comebacks occurring, I could not help but to
finish up this review. 2PM and Infinite are next, and afterwards I will focus
on either Jieun or MAMAMOO—it all depends on whether I wish to please or anger
fans. To leak my message, reviewing Jieun would lead to many praises, and when
it comes to MAMAMOO’s recent song, as much as I love the ladies, I am
incredibly disappointed. All will eventually be reviewed, however. (And of
course Apink and Hyuna will be included.)

Until
the next review comes, “Let’s dance together.” Thank you to all for reading
this any length. Expect 2PM and Infinite to both have their reviews published
around the same time.

Red Velvet – “Russian Roulette” Review

Red Velvet – Russian Roulette (Music Video)

Red Velvet – Russian Roulette (Live Performance)

Red Velvet – Russian
Roulette

Reviewed
on September 23, 2016

In other words, it is the
catchiness to “Russian Roulette” that arguably covers its actual stale sound.
After all, robotic or not, the “b-b-b-beat” is delightful to listen to; very
few can help but admire how sweet and swift those catchy phrases sound. Yet,
that is—from my personal argument—a faulty reason to use for persuading someone
that “Russian Roulette” is a stronger song.

Personal Message:
Edit: This review was essentially written before the prior
one
and thus, a lot of the references may seem “out-of-date.”

Although it has not been too long
since the last review, I still want to apologize for not having a more
consistent schedule and for how reviews are now extremely brief. Again, with
university work I am incredibly busy and more so as many of my classes are
rather rigorous this semester. Unfortunately, though, I am now running into a
paradoxical situation: I avoid reviews so that I have sufficient time for work,
but now I am becoming rather stressed as reviews tend to be my stress-relieving
outlet and yet if I write reviews I will also be stressed for not having enough
time. Now what is the point of this rant? To share university life with
readers.

On a more serious note and for
technical updates, despite how busy I am I still very much expect this month to
reach the goal of six to eight reviews. How this will be possible is, despite
my own philosophy of thoroughly deconstructing songs, reviews will now be very
concise and focus moreover on critical points I find. In other words, although
recent reviews became much more brief (and rightfully so) than older reviews, I
still did attempt to cover the breadth of a song via analyzing all of its
categories (lyrics, vocals, etc.); the change, then, was I had a more
appropriate and modest amount of depth. But with my strict school schedule now,
I have little choice but to remove breadth and instead go for depth (in its
current degree) in terms of whatever I deem appropriate.

For example, in GFriend’s “Navillera” review (and indeed this song is very much
my all-time favorite), while the depth has been far reduced from past reviews,
I still covered breadth in terms of how I covered all of the categories. Now,
if I were to re-write that review, I would actually dismiss discussing certain
categories such as the lyrics. This is not to say I will remove the categories
I do not write about; the scoring will remain as is, instead it is merely a
change in discussion and writing. And so what will be the predicted result of
this change? Besides nearly drifting away from a systematic writing of reviews,
reviews might only be two to three paragraphs versus the usual seven or eight.
Most desirable from this is all would be that reviews are a lot more common; after
all, if I only need to discuss what I find are “controversial” points in a song,
I can go in depth on that and then proceed to the next. The only time reviews
would be lengthy, then, is that there are multiple points that require
discussion or that there is a social tangent that would be necessary to
discuss—an example being Hyuna’s “How’s This?” as musically and socially, my
words may be rather controversial. (And yes, it is the next review.)

Clarifications aside, let us dive
into Red Velvet’s latest comeback: “Russian Roulette.” In truth, I am surprised
that this will be the first review on the ladies as they are extremely popular,
and furthermore, that their prior comebacks would have been enticing reviews in
the sense of them causing controversy. Admittedly, I have found many of Red
Velvet’s song to be weaker, but rather than being deterred from reviewing them,
this reason would have provided motivation. After all, the point of my reviews
is to instill critical discussions, and indeed giving a song a lower rating
would, hopefully, cause a level of deeper engagement. Specifically focusing on
“Russian Roulette,” though, many might now be curious on my take to it—both
serious and personal. On a personal level, as mentioned before, this is the
first song by Red Velvet that I enjoy. However, when it comes to a more
critical approach, although the overall score is decent, there are some
overarching flaws that exist. That said, with a lethal game of chance
(referring to Russian Roulette—it is not just a song name), let us take a look
at where Red Velvet gets shot, and of course, where they avoid that fate.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 5/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.50/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Bridge: 4/10

6.     Conclusion: 3/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 5/10

La-la-la-la-la

Surrounded by a sharp secret
Behind a veil
Deeper and deeper, h-h-hush
Aiming for your heart now
This place is the color of a dark night
Even the shadows get lost

Oh you’re always like, “love is game”
You say it’s light and easily enjoyed
Why do you keep saying these bad things
Trying to avoid me?

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
Not like you, heart b-b-b-beat
Whenever you see me
Until the very last moment
It comes closer and closer, crazy
The risky aim, Russian Roulette
Ah-ah-ah-yeah
La-la-la-la-la
(You’re already)
Heart b-b-b-beat
Until the very last moment
You’ll have to trust me
I’m your sweet Russian Roulette

A dazzling secret
You can’t turn away from it anymore
I’ll p-p-push your button
Accept it now
So your heart can be filled with me
You’ll look for me even when you’re dreaming

Oh you still say, “love is game”
You tell me but your voice is shaking
Past the playful eyes
I see you, not knowing what to do

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
Not like you, heart b-b-b-beat
Whenever you see me
Until the very last moment
It comes closer and closer, crazy
The risky aim, Russian Roulette
Ah-ah-ah-yeah
La-la-la-la-la
(You’re already)
Heart b-b-b-beat
Until the very last moment
You’ll have to trust me
I’m your sweet Russian Roulette

You never had this deep of a dream before
My heart and this night makes this game flicker
You can’t control-l-l-l-l

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
About to explode, heart b-b-b-beat
I’ll hold onto the key
Until the very last moment
It comes closer and closer, crazy
The risky aim, Russian Roulette
Ah-ah-ah-yeah
La-la-la-la-la
(You’re already)
Heart b-b-b-beat
It’s already engraved in you, can’t take it out
Deeper in your heart
I’m your sweet Russian Roulette

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
La-la-la-la-la
Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
La-la-la-la-la
Heart b-b-b-beat

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: This
is completely off-topic, but after truly watching the music video and not just
purely focusing on the audio, the music video is a rather brutal one to put
simply. Perhaps the saying of “last woman standing” resonates here—or that
competition can kill friendships. Literally. Nonetheless, I personally find the
music video very witty and creative.

On
topic and onto the song review, first
to clarify, this song is certainly far from “bad”; a simple glance at the
overall rating reveals a five—average. However, I predict many readers disagreeing:
“Russian Roulette” should be rated much higher. After all, supposedly it is the
group’s best release and it has extremely catchy vocals, instrumental,
sections, and so forth. That said, and for where I wish to guide this review, I
disagree on a specific premise: using “catchiness” as a positive trait. It is
this assumption—the assumption that “catchiness” is a strength to songs—that I
will challenge, and with doing so, I hope it reveals that—while indeed the song
is the “catchiest” I have heard—“Russian Roulette” is merely average.

Beginning
with the vocals, on the surface it appears enticing: the melody is playful and
highly dynamic; there is variety when considering the changing tunes, pacing,
and intensity; and overall, that the repetitions of “b-b-b-beat” and others are
simply “catchy.” However, although the vocals are indeed diverse mechanically,
I will argue that the sound of the
vocals is not. The reason for that is in an earlier idea: catchiness. The parts
that are catchy are the moments that tend to repeat fun, light sounds, but on a
more critical view, one should realize the sound involved: robotic, simpler
ones. This, unfortunately, spans across the song in its entirety and is why the
vocals (and others) are rated at average. Yes, with the vocals, I applaud the
variety used mechanically—the various melodies, pacing, intensity—but overall,
there is a noticeable robotic sound to the vocals. Even with different tunes
such as comparing how the choruses sound different from the verses, the main
sound is still reminiscent of a robotic-like one. All this, though, is for the
purpose of catchiness; indeed, it is hard to deny that the vocals and
instrumental are not fun and enjoyable. But, if we strip away from that and
look in a more overarching yet deeper scale, the sounds are reduced to nothing
spectacular.

That
very notion is why I find “Russian Roulette,” while not necessarily bad, not
necessarily strong. The vocals, even if diverse, still contain a robotic and
dull sound. Equally at fault, the instrumental follows suit: solid in
accommodating the vocals and shifting intensities, but ultimately still lacking
as it is, perhaps quite literally, sounds of beeps and boops—sounds of a robot.
And as such, with considering how the sections play out, the song in whole may
retain an extremely fun and upbeat nature, but overall the sections lack
sonically due to the stale vocals and instrumental, and that the sections’
individual structures are nothing distinctive.

In
other words, it is the catchiness to “Russian Roulette” that arguably covers
its actual stale sound. After all, robotic or not, the “b-b-b-beat” is
delightful to listen to; very few can help but admire how sweet and swift those
catchy phrases sound. Yet, that is—from my personal argument—a faulty reason to
use for persuading someone that “Russian Roulette” is a stronger song.
Catchiness is, after all and boldly said, much easier to replicate and
captivate with than other song qualities that should be respected. Of course,
though, this is not to say Red Velvet themselves lack skills or that, once
again, “Russian Roulette” is a bad song. The ladies are very much skilled
singers and with their recent song, the argument I propose is that it is
seemingly a better song than it genuinely is. In other words, “Russian
Roulette” has a mask one: on the superficial level, it appears to be a very
well composed song, but underneath, I argue that it is only average if we are
more critical of its use of “catchiness.” Nevertheless, to end on a positive
note, while “Russian Roulette” is an average song, I still agree with those who
say it is Red Velvet’s best release as of yet and I look forward to their
future releases.

_______________________________________________________

Before
housekeeping news is delivered, I do apologize for being slower than usual. As
one can tell, I am extremely busy with university. For the upcoming reviews, three
male groups are planned and if I am dedicated I hope to write two of those
reviews by today. (I expect needing only one paragraph to review two of those
groups.) Afterwards, Hyuna and MAMAMOO will receive spotlight. And yes, a
social digression will occur with Hyuna’s review as it is germane to both the review
and many current discussions. As per usual, I will focus on complexities of the
topic rather than necessarily persuading readers—though I will clarify some misunderstandings that
occur within the topic. What exactly is the topic? Next week is when I plan to
write the review so look forward to it then.

Thank
you to all for being patient and reading this review in any form. 2PM and
Infinite are the next reviewed groups. Until then, “You’ll have to trust me / I’m
your sweet Russian Roulette.” And no, do not interpret this as a threat through chance.

SPICA – “Secret Time” Review

SPICA – Secret Time (Music Video)

SPICA
– Secret Time (Dance Practice)

SPICA – Secret Time

Reviewed
on August 28, 2016

image

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
3/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 4/10

4.     Chorus: 3/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 3/10


Instrumental: 4/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Secret time
We don’t need you, boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

Eric Nam – “Can’t Help Myself” Review

Eric
Nam – Can’t Help Myself (Music Video)

Eric Nam – Can’t Help Myself (Live
Performance)

Eric Nam (ft. LOCO) – Can’t
Help Myself

Reviewed
on August 16, 2016

Now despite all of Eric’s
charming vocals and excellent section structures and a solid instrumental to
tie it all together, the choruses are the exception to the song’s cohesion. In
short, it simply lacks it.

Personal Message:
Although it has already been roughly
a month since Eric released this song, it is about time I review it. Furthermore,
with the past three reviews being on female groups, sharing the love to male
artists is necessary. And besides, Eric is currently my “man-crush” so this
song was bound to be reviewed. And yes, I am a heterosexual boy who openly says
Eric is my “man-crush.” There is nothing wrong at all, as discussed in multiple
reviews (refer to the much earlier ones for these discussions), with males
being affectionate for other males—or in my case, “fanboying” over male
artists—no matter one’s sexual orientation. After all, Eric is incredibly
precious, and personally when it comes to male role models, he is the man I
strive to be: sweet, soft-spoken, understanding, respectful, loving, easygoing,
hardworking, intelligent, and so forth. He is a true gentleman. (And
admittedly, I have been watching many episodes of Eric and MAMAMOO’s Solar
together on We Got Married.)

Before directly focusing on the
current review, as some readers might have noticed, this blog’s description was
recently changed. A slightly more professional style was my goal. More
importantly, however, the main reason for changing it was not due to the former
reason but instead it was to add key clarifications: what reviews should be
understood as, and likewise what social and ethical discussions should be
understood as. For readers desiring to understand my point, reading the
description should explain said “key clarifications.” Even so, in this current
review, I will explain why I have
added those changes and, for really keen readers who have noticed, why the
occasional social and ethical discussions have dramatically changed in
tone.  

In terms of the simpler explanation,
with song reviews the description now reminds readers that all songs are
subjective and thus, these reviews should never be taken as unequivocal truths.
There are many layers involved with what determines a “good” song and a “bad”
song: one’s own cultural lens, personal preferences, biased feelings toward
artists, and so on. Even if a review minimizes those points as much as
possible—for examples, not favoring artists and looking beyond stylistic traits—there will always still
be some form of subjectivity present. It is simply unavoidable. And so, many
would then wonder why I bother writing reviews if music reviews are inevitably
biased even if one takes many precautionary steps. My answer: for discussions;
for deeper engagement; for taking pop culture songs—songs that are oftentimes
taken at a superficial layer—and applying a critical lens to them, both
musically and socially. The beauty of song reviews are not, in truth, the
reviews themselves; the true charm resides in how the reviews are engaged
with—disagreeing, agreeing, challenging, and so forth.

Switching over to social and ethical
discussions that occur from time to time, this aspect of reviews has only
recently been addressed but it is about time to directly discuss it. I confess:
in many past reviews, these discussions are less of actual discussion and
moreover about persuading or even ranting at times. Furthermore, the most
problematic aspect of these “discussions” was my tone: angry,
passive-aggressive, and overly zealous. Certainly that might have proven
appealing, but it was appealing in emotions versus being intellectually
appealing. To use an example, discussions of gender is a prominent topic on
this blog. Given how it is a subtle yet common topic in K-Pop and knowing I am
privileged as a male and therefore have a social responsibility to discuss
gender (and it is a topic I find myself greatly interested in), these
discussions have become a routine part of the blog. But with that, how I
conducted the discussions in the past was arguably inappropriate.

Oftentimes, even if I would
explicitly say male privilege is what has to be challenged versus males
themselves, the tone of my writing was indeed—even if unintended—antagonizing
to males. And as explained before, that is not the purpose or goal of these
discussions; these social discussions are not to antagonize people but instead
are to provide new insight and to, hopefully, bring in ideas of ethics in
relation to sociology. Questions I hope to pose are, for example, how one
should act given they are privileged in race, gender, sexuality, and so forth.
What is, if any, the ethics involved if one is a heterosexual and yet says
remarks such as “this song is gay” or “that idol has to be a lesbian”? Does
having heterosexual privilege mean one should be wary of what they say? If so,
why and if not, why? How about in cases of needing to intervene or to even care
of LGBT issues when one’s a heterosexual? What is one’s ethical and social role
if a heterosexual? Why? Again: why?

From here on (though this
“correction” began a while back even if subtle), the goal of these social and
ethical discussions are not to say you must
have this certain view, but instead, these discussions are here to ask why you think what you think. While I do
urge readers to care for social topics and that I do cherish ideas of love, compassion,
understanding, and openness and in some ways do hope readers likewise believe
in similar ideas, it is completely unethical for me to force my stances upon
readers as I have done in the past. Besides, there are cases where stances are
varied and difficult. “Double-standards” for example can be quite complex.
Hyuna’s review will discuss this, but with double-standards while I will
clarify huge misconceptions with it (in other words: no, double-standards is not “feminazi” work at all and generally
this idea is the result of not using critical-thinking), there are multiple
ethical sides to double-standards where no choice is clearly “the most ethical
and just.” Even a past review, Fiestar’s “Apple Pie,” is an example of how a social
topic—in that review, the topic of feminism—can be extremely complex and have
no simple, “correct” side.

All in all, I do sincerely apologize
for my prior social discussions that were passive-aggressive in tone and
focused moreover on convincing readers of a certain view rather than allowing
readers to critically think of what they themselves think. Now that said, I do
not apologize per se for certain ideas said—for example, there is a huge ethical issue if one believes
that transgendered people should die, and through critical-thinking, one should
be able to understand why transgendered people deserve humane treatment and
respect—but I simply apologize for the manner
in which I conducted the discussions, manners of being forceful and aggressive.

In other words, and to use an
example, while I do not apologize for my argument of how male privilege allows
me to freely discuss gender while a woman saying the same words as I would be
labeled as a “feminazi,” I do apologize for the unnecessary remarks involved
such as, for made up examples, “because men are nothing more than aggressive
animals” and “anyone who does not agree must be a toxic male.” (Though
privilege jokes will be thrown in at times; I mean given how privileged I am to
be a male, why not poke some fun at it?) Overall, my role is no longer that of
a debater or one of using this blog as an anger outlet; my role is now that of
facilitating discussions and is overall akin to a teacher (and coincidentally,
I will soon become one before I know it): focused on bringing in critical
thinking and not forcing my own opinions onto others. I am here to encourage deeper engagement; what readers believe does not necessarily matter to me as much as
knowing that critical thinking was used to get to that “what,” and I do hope I
am able to elicit that deeper level of thinking.

With all of that serious
clarification aside, let us return to a more lighthearted tone: discussing Eric
Nam’s “Can’t Help Myself.” Although in an overarching view this song is rather
balanced in all of its categories—and indeed is a stronger song—there are still
weaker aspects in it. And so, though this review is certainly “late” as this
song came out more than a month ago, let us see if listeners actually can’t
help themselves when it comes to the song.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 7/10
(6.75/10 raw score) – “Above average”


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.57/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Bridge (Chorus): 6/10

6.     Rap: 6/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 6/10

I’m exhausted and thirsty
Just like I ran under the hot sun
You know what I mean?
I can’t breathe
I feel like, I fell into the deep ocean
I think I’m in too deep

Because of you, I want to say
And baby you, if I look at you, ooh girl
I just can’t help myself
Can’t wait no longer
I can’t help myself anymore

Wanna be with you, you tonight
Yeah
No more playin’
Cool, cool, you and I
Quench my thirsty heart, alright
Give breaths into me, my life
Without you it’s meaningless
Please accept me
And let me love you

Just like the secrets no one should know
It was hard because I had to hide my feelings
I am trying not to show on my face
I try to say something and then I just bite my lips

Because of you, I want to say
And baby you, if I look at you, ooh girl
I just can’t help myself
Can’t wait no longer
I can’t help myself anymore

Wanna be with you, you tonight
Yeah
No more playin’
Cool, cool, you and I

Quench my thirsty heart, alright
Give breaths into me, my life
Being without you, girl, it’s meaningless
I’m all about you, oh no

Actually I am very patient
I’ve never been hit by anyone
So when I tell you that I can’t hold it anymore
I want you to close your eyes instead of flicking my forehead
You make me rude
Even if the sun is hot,
seeing you with my eyes makes me sweat

Wanna be with you, you tonight
Yeah
No more playin’
Cool, cool, you and I
Quench my thirsty heart, alright
Give breaths into me, my life
Without you it’s meaningless
Please accept me
And let me love you

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: This
perhaps might be the shortest review yet on this blog due to both practicing
writing more concise reviews (since university this upcoming semester will be
extremely busy) but also that this song is relatively straightforward.

On
topic, as seen by the ratings, “Can’t Help Myself” scores above averagely and indeed,
looking over the categories, the song holds well in all. Ignoring numbers,
however, this song’s main strength is arguably in its cohesion in all aspects.
From a more general perspective, for example, the song is cohesive with how all
of its sections flow from each rather smoothly, but for a micro aspect such as
within the sections themselves, various aspects—the vocals, instrumental,
pacing, and so on—equally prove to be quite cohesive. And as discussed in the prior
review
, cohesion in songs is, while not always, generally a fundamental
trait. The verses will be used as an example since, as seen by their scores,
the verses excel at this.

During
the verses, the instrumental—an aspect that is already individually strong—provides
the song with its flow and sounds as is the usual of instrumental. As such, in
of itself, this is nothing utterly spectacular at all; the instrumental is
merely playing, after all. However, once Eric’s vocals arrive, this is then
where the song and instrumental become more than just “merely playing.” With
Eric’s singing involved, it is noticed that his flow and the instrumental’s
flow sync up. Listening closely to Eric’s line chunking and the guitar riffs
should highlight this. Furthermore, though, the result of all this is not just
verses that sound excellent: the verses are now capable of easily transitioning
to the pre-choruses as they already began progressing the song through an
up-and-down pattern that was organized through vocals and instrumental syncing,
and refined in sound due to the vocals’ and instrumental’s clean, smooth tunes.
When considering the various sections throughout, this general idea repeats:
having sections that are able to easily transition to the next—and thus,
cohesion is granted—and within the sections, each are composed of singing and
instrumental that have excellent chemistry together due to following similar
rhythms and flow, and in addition to this all, the sonic components to each are
splendid—this being heard in Eric’s consistent and melodic vocal beltings, for example.

Now
despite all of Eric’s charming vocals and excellent section structures and a
solid instrumental to tie it all together, the choruses are the exception to the
song’s cohesion. In short, it simply lacks it. With the choruses, Eric’s vocal
belting of “you” for example is no longer of the same charm even though it is
essentially akin to the vocal beltings at the pre-choruses. This should be
rather odd; the same singing in the pre-choruses is now no longer appealing in
the choruses even if it is nearly the same as the one in the pre-choruses. Why
does that occur? To answer: context. Vocals, after all, is not about content—high
notes, powerful beltings, soothing low pitched singing and so on—but instead is
about its delivery, and certainly
with “delivery” in mind over “content,” context matters.

Directly
focusing on the choruses, the vocal belting throughout fails to sync to the
instrumental, and although the second half of the choruses slightly recover in
the sense that there is more cohesion, it ultimately still falters. There is
too much discrepancy between the vocals and the instrumental, and even if all
are individually enticing on their own—and hence why this section still scores
at a five—the lack of connection is greatly impairing. For example, notice how
during the pre-choruses the vocal beltings are followed up with the
instrumental similarly also having its own version of vocal beltings—in other
words, following a lighter tune to accommodate Eric’s singing. Unfortunately
with the choruses, the instrumental maintains its own hasty pace while Eric’s
vocal belting carries a much slower rate, and though the benefit to this is an
intriguing pause occurs during the choruses, the choruses begin having two
competing sounds versus two cooperative sounds and this is the ultimate
drawback.

Overall,
though, “Can’t Help Myself” proves to be a simple yet completely charming song.
The beautiful vocal beltings, instrumental, and—for the most part—the cohesion
between it all greatly allow the song to flourish. Even with a somewhat duller
rap, bridge, and choruses, with how well the sections connect to each other on
an individual and general level, “Can’t Help Myself” becomes incredibly
well-rounded and a solid example of why a song does not need to be utterly
powerful and upbeat in order to be considered good.  

_______________________________________________________

For
this review, I do wonder if it is insufficient in its explanations as I could
have went through every section in further depth, but as discussed it appears
that shorter details that focus on highlighted points versus droning
repetitively on is more desirable and efficient for both readers and I. For the
next review, Monsta X’s “Stuck” is in mind along with another show review. More
male artists for sure, though, will be coming. For female artists, Hyuna’s “How’s
This?” and Stellar’s “Crying” will both be reviewed at one point. I hope to
cover as many reviews as possible for this month, but I also plan to begin
storing and delaying some for future posting once university comes around. With
this review ending, thank you to all for reading or skimming, and realize that,
“Because of you, I want to say”: look forward to the next review.