EXO – “Ko Ko Bop” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Live
Performance)

EXO – Ko Ko Bop

Reviewed
on August 11, 2017

And
so, despite fans’ massive praise towards and the song and even despite how the
song overall is not “bad” per se—indeed, it scores at an average as readers
will soon see—I find that the most disappointing aspect to the song is the loss of potential. In other words, “Ko
Ko Bop” could have been a rather
solid song, but in my argument, the post-chorus in the song is detrimental
enough to entirely limit the song’s potential appeal.

Personal Message:
Before getting further, as always,
thank you to the requester for sending this in. Furthermore—and arguably more
importantly—I also thank both the requester and readers for once again being
incredibly patient for content. August is certainly still the month where I am
planning to review many songs at a time, but there have been some slight delays
for the past few days. To explain the reasoning behind these slight delays, I
have been spending the last few days playing video games with my younger cousin—an
activity I personally wish to cherish while I still have some extra free time
left during summer. The upcoming university semester will by far be the most
rigorous and busy semester I will have ever experienced and thus, I am in a
situation where I have to temporarily put aside a few hobbies. Given that
reviewing K-Pop songs is vital to my well-being akin to breathing, that leaves
video gaming and perhaps even subtitling videos as the hobbies I will have to
give up for a few months. (Though realistically, I will definitely still have
time for those activities. Having a proper balance is what is most important—a tip
that should help readers returning to school. I will still subtitle videos and
find moments to relax with gaming.)

Dramatic speech aside—after all, I
make it sound as if I am about to undergo intense K-Pop trainee training—let us
focus on the review at hand. EXO’s “Ko Ko Bop” is indeed the men’s latest song,
and from the rudimentary research I have done, it appears that the song is
rather well received by fans. Many fans have been praising the song and in
particularly loving the song’s unique style—a style that meshes elements of EDM
and R&B if I am correct. That said, I personally remain a bit hesitant to
equally praise the song. EXO fans might be upset at the upcoming harsher
criticisms I have for “Ko Ko Bop,” but I will leave this as a reminder: music
reviews are never to leave objective answers; that is impossible in the fine
arts field where everything is, unequivocally, subjective. Instead, the purpose
of music reviews is to begin or add onto current discussions about a song.
Regardless of how fans emotionally feel towards this review, what matters is
the review sparks a discussion and allows fans to be able to analyze the song in
a more critical fashion.

And so, despite fans’ massive praise
towards and the song and even despite how the song overall is not “bad” per
se—indeed, it scores at an average as readers will soon see—I find that the
most disappointing aspect to the song is the loss of potential. In other words, “Ko Ko Bop” could have been a rather solid song, but in my argument, the
post-chorus in the song is detrimental enough to entirely limit the song’s
potential appeal. Additionally, although I have yet to see fans commenting on
this, I will also be comparing “Ko Ko Bop” to “Dancing King”—another song by
EXO. Certainly the two songs are stylistically different, but if we focus on
the composition structurally, both songs are quite similar and I find that by
comparing “Dancing King” to “Ko Ko Bop,” readers might have a better
understanding on exactly why the post-choruses are quite problematic.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 5/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.86/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 2/10

6.     Bridge: 5/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Introduction instrumental]

Shimmie shimmie, Ko Ko Bop
I think I like it
Don’t be nervous, don’t be shy
I’m entering into your dizzy heart
As if I’m familiar, I’ll softly spread inside

Ah woo, it’s a silent night
Ah woo, it’s a night for you
I can’t hold back, I’m falling
I’m drunk from your body
Forget the typical me that you’ve known
My hidden instincts shimmie up

It goes down down baby
Trust your body
It goes down down baby
To the rhythm and shout
Oh oh oh, we are, oh oh oh
We going Ko Ko Bop

[Post-Chorus instrumental]

Shimmie shimmie, Ko Ko Bop
I think I like it
Little by little, down down, don’t be shy
No matter what anyone says, don’t listen
Just be beautiful as you are right now
I wish time would stop
Baby are you down?

Ah woo, it’s the last night
Ah woo, it’s our night
Don’t be nervous and come
Trust all of you with me
The reins are loosening
Just put it down today
Don’t be cautious, shaking up

It goes down down baby
Trust your body
It goes down down baby
To the rhythm and shout
Oh oh oh, we are, oh oh oh
Break it down now

[Post-Chorus instrumental]

You shine more as the night deepens
Your eyes tell me everything
On this nice night, I want you
I know, it’s okay, let’s start now
It’s about to go go

It goes down down baby
Trust your body
It goes down down baby
To the rhythm and shout
Oh oh oh, we are, oh oh oh
Going Ko Ko Bop

Down down baby
Whisper in my ear
It goes down down baby
Set my heart on fire
Oh oh oh, crazy, oh oh oh
Going Ko Ko Bop

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Now
before entirely getting into the criticisms I have, I once again wish to
heavily emphasize that “Ko Ko Bop” is not a “bad” song—bad in the sense that
the song is below average (a five) if we are to follow my numerical ratings. Certainly,
even if the post-choruses are extremely faulty, the song still has many strong
points that can partially compensate. For example, the instrumental is
effective in both its sonic and structural appeal. In fact, the instrumental
serves as the foundation to the song as many aspects are based on the slower,
heavier bass and strong rhythm of the instrumental. At the pre-choruses, the
bass line’s increased activity combines naturally with the vocals in order to
build up the song and guide it along. Even at the verses, the vocals are
constantly complemented with the rich, deep bass. All in all, the instrumental
helps create a stable flow to the song that helps keep it organized and aurally
pleasing.

Unfortunately,
the song’s post-choruses ruin those positive traits: the flow becomes entirely
shattered. For one, the post-choruses introduce sounds that entirely conflict
the established R&B stylistic sounds. To go from a slower, calm beats and
bass line to an ear-piercing electronic ring is far too abrupt and unfitting
without any forms of transitions to ease that very change. Additionally, on a structural
level we also lose a sense of organization when we consider that the choruses
already served as a climactic point—and yet, the post-choruses equally serve that
role considering how upbeat and intense the sections are. And this is where
comparing “Ko Ko Bop” to “Dancing King” is helpful: in “Dancing King,” it too
follows a similar structure with having an instrumental break—though there are
slight differences as that instrumental break took the role of a chorus rather
than a post-chorus.

Nevertheless,
the instrumental break in “Dancing King” was used effectively as it was not to pause
and divide the song; rather, the instrumental break was used as an extension of
the pre-choruses—a section that essentially held a climactic peak for the song.
Thus, on a structural level listeners are able to hear how the instrumental
break was still a core, connected section and factoring in how the utilized
sounds suited what the prior sections have used, “Dancing King” had a very
successful and appealing usage of an instrumental break. On the other hand, “Ko
Ko Bop” fails to replicate the same situation: as mentioned, it already becomes
confusing by introducing sounds that do not suit the established, deeper and
rhythm-based sounds used in every prior section. Furthermore, on a structural
level, “Ko Ko Bop” ‘s instrumental break (the post-choruses) does not serve as
an extension of the choruses; instead, it renders as a forceful dragging of the
choruses and the result is the song having the choruses and post-choruses
battling over which section is the climactic point.

What
would have been desirable to hear in “Ko Ko Bop” is if the composers abandoned
the post-choruses and instead opted for longer chorus or for the song to reset
its cycle after the chorus. Interestingly, the song does include an example of
what the former idea would sound like: at the ending of the song, two choruses
are played back-to-back to create, effectively, a longer chorus. What happens
is perfect: rather than having a post-chorus play, we instead get a chorus that
fulfills the usual climactic role of a pop song and the section also concludes
itself and would not need to be forcefully dragged out by a post-chorus and the
like. And, of course, the longer chorus would stay loyal to the song’s core
sounds and style and thus, “Ko Ko Bop” would retain its original organization
and cohesion.

Overall,
“Ko Ko Bop” may not be a “negative” song and essentially only possess merely
one troublesome feature, but that one troublesome feature is incredibly
problematic. Even if the post-choruses in of themselves do not entirely lower “Ko
Ko Bop” ‘s rating, I personally find myself quite disappointed in the song’s
composition knowing the potential it had if the post-choruses was scrapped away
or revised. But, once again, the song in its entirety is still functional and
enjoyable even if one section heavily impairs it.

_______________________________________________________

This
review is surprisingly and disturbingly short, but as I have learned over the
few years of improving my writing, length hardly matters. In fact, the shorter
length the better; what matters most is that ideas and arguments are
conveyed clear and concisely and thus, even if this review is quite short I
feel that I have focused on the main criticism I had and did not waste readers’
time with random details. (And admittedly shorter reviews that get to the point
are enjoyable on all sides—readers and I.)

Thank
you once more to the requester for being patient and sending this in, and thank
you to readers for taking any time to skim or read this review. I do sincerely
appreciate it. I will be promptly reviewing the last request I have received as
of this sentence: G-Reyish’s “Johnny Go Go.” That song will perhaps reveal that
my claims of “harsher criticism” here are, in comparison, quite lenient. With “Johnny
Go Go,” I find that it is a rather weak song not only with its composition, but
potentially with its production—assuming, though, that it merely is not the
music video itself having audio problems. More will be discussed in that review
itself.

Until
then, “We going Ko Ko Bop”—which I am assuming is referencing dancing. But,
since my dancing is actually some dark magic that inflicts blindness upon those
who witness it and years of horror, let us avoid that and instead just go with
the usual farewell: look forward to the next requested review, of which I will
work hard to finish soon.

Red Velvet – “Red Flavor” Review

(Music Video) / (Live Performance)

Red Velvet – Red
Flavor

Reviewed
on July 27, 2017

But,
unfortunately, when it comes to focusing on “Red Flavor” in a more critical
lens, I argue there are many problematic points in the song. While many fans
might desire to praise the creative aspects of the song and even claim that
such aspects are the song’s captivating points, I entirely disagree as I argue
the composers’ creative attempts are ironically and unintentionally the song’s
weak points.  

Personal Message:
I did plan to get this review out
much sooner, and indeed it is not the request on Day6’s “I Smile.” That said,
the requested review will be finished a few hours and will be posted
accordingly so or held until a day depending on how I want to space out the
month’s remaining reviews. Unfortunately, due to an unfortunate series of
headaches a few days ago, this review and Day6’s “I Smile” are technically
behind two days, but all should be fine regarding the blog’s schedule. Regarding
why I am reviewing “Red Flavor” in the first place and not handling requested
reviews first as I normally do and should
do, as mentioned in a few prior posts, I have unintentionally analyzed “Red
Flavor” and thus, it would be a waste to not review the song at this point. And
of course, I am also motivated by a sense of guilt as after watching some
shorter videos of Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon and Red Velvet together, I
realized I have not paid much attention to the Red Velvet ladies at all. Plus,
with how amazing Wendy’s voice is and her singing abilities—and that she is an
amazing person in general—I felt a need to indeed review “Red Flavor.” (Though,
quite obviously, I am actually reviewing the song for musical reasons and that
will always be the core reason for why a song is personally chosen to be
reviewed.)

Now before focusing directly on the
review, I will take a few seconds to lightheartedly express slight
frustrations—not at this song or Red Velvet or the review, to clarify. Rather,
the issue of “lost-in-translation”—a phenomenon where meaning is lost during
the translation of different languages—has never been as prevalent as in this
song’s case. For this review’s translated lyrics, I admit it might not be the
most accurate at all and that is because I personally have done a relatively
large amount of editing. The current, popular translated version of the song’s
lyrics are slightly too inaccurate from what I have noticed—and this should be
quite concerning considering I am far from fluent in Korean and yet still
notice such discrepancies. As such, the current lyrics are not perfect at all,
but I believe it will make the most sense grammatically for readers of this
review. Language and linguistics are definitely fascinating topics.

Venting aside, let us finally
discuss “Red Flavor.” Personally, I do find myself enjoying the song regardless
of how the review will go. In fact, I find that it might even be Red Velvet’s
best song or at least tied with “Russian Roulette.” But, unfortunately, when it
comes to focusing on “Red Flavor” in a more critical lens, I argue there are
many problematic points in the song. While many fans might desire to praise the
creative aspects of the song and even claim that such aspects are the song’s
captivating points, I entirely disagree as I argue the composers’ creative
attempts are, ironically and unintentionally, the song’s weak points.  

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(5.00/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.75/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 2/10

6.     Rap: 4/10

7.     Bridge: 6/10

8.     Conclusion: 5/10


Instrumental: 4/10


Lyrics: 5/10

Red flavor
I’m curious about it, honey
The strawberry flavor that melts more as you bite
Corner candy shop
Look for it, baby
The summer flavor is what I like the most

I want to fall asleep under the shade of a tree
The hot summer air blows
So easy to fall in love at the age of 19
We look good together, we’re cool

I like it, it was love at first sight
I keep thinking about you
I want to do it my way

Red flavor
I’m curious about it, honey
The strawberry flavor that melts more as you bite
Corner candy shop
Look for it, baby
The summer flavor is what I like the most

(Red-red-red flavor, red-r-red-red flavor)
(Red-red-red flavor, red-r-red-red flavor)

Open the seven colored, rainbow door
Your world is electric, it’s cool
Your love’s color is redder than the sun
I want it, I want to do it my way

Look at me, what are you thinking about?
What can I do today?
I’m dreaming however I want

Red flavor
I’m curious about it, honey
The strawberry flavor that melts more as you bite
Corner candy shop
Look for it, baby
The summer flavor is what I like the most

Peach juice, sweet and sour mix, mood
The cocktail I want to make you is, “Brew Red”
Electricity in your ears, numbness in your nose
Feeling better than you can imagine, up and bang, red
Bet you wanna, bet you wanna dance like this
Let’s shout out
I like you, honestly
Nervous? You’re sweating, so cute
Falling for each other, we’re red-red, ah

You haven’t figured it out because I haven’t told you
My feelings are growing for you
Like spilled ice cream
I might just melt
So tell me
(Tell me)
So tell me
(Tell me)
With your colors,
paint me, thickly and strongly

Red flavor
I’m curious about it, honey
The strawberry flavor that melts more as you bite
Corner candy shop
Look for it, baby
The summer flavor is what I like the most

In the summer, what I like the most is, you

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
getting further, with mentioning “creative points,” I now need to explain what
I mean. After all, such a phrase is incredibly vague and if readers do not
understand the context I am speaking from, then the core idea behind my
argument would become worthless. Regarding “creative points,” I am specifically
referring to how the instrumental functions in the song and the effects it
brings. And while I will later explain why the creativity comes at many
expenses of the song, we still have to acknowledge that there still are
strengths and thus will explain the positive effects.

For
the most prominent example, at the choruses the instrumental differs from many
other instrumentals heard in pop songs. What occurs is that the instrumental merely
provides beats and a bass line. In other words, for why this is peculiar, the
instrumental is a relatively “empty” one and more so as choruses tend to be
climactic points in a song and thus we would expect the instrumental to be far
more active. However, this is not the case at all and in this sense we should
appreciate a far more different approach the composers have taken for “Red
Flavor” ‘s choruses. Furthermore, though, we also need to acknowledge that
there are some positives that are gleaned from this decision: Red Velvet’s
vocals become emphasized as the core sound during the choruses. This results
from how, given the bland nature of the instrumental during the choruses, Red
Velvet’s more energetic and hasty singing sharply contrasts the instrumental.
As such, the instrumental not only gives “Red Flavor” a unique sound during
this instance, but it also enhances the vocals that occur.

Another
example of the unique instrumental aiding the song is when we consider how
consistent it remains throughout. For example, unlike songs that would have a
dramatic change in their instrumental—typically such as when a song’s chorus
has an extremely upbeat, pure electronic solo instrumental—“Red Flavor” instead
remains stable throughout. This in of itself is not necessarily a strength, nor
is having a sudden chorus instrumental change automatically bad, but in this
case I argue it definitely helps the song by allowing the sections to freely
connect to each other. At the introduction, for example, it is not its own
individual section but rather is merely the chorus executed in a slightly
calmer fashion. What allows this interesting structure to even take place in
the first place—since, after all, a chorus as the introduction would seemingly
be far too abrupt—is that the instrumental does not drastically change
throughout the rest of the song and thus, the starting introduction is not
seemingly extreme and out of place. In clearer terms, let us think of it in
this way: we can notice that, at the end of the introduction, the instrumental’s
bass line kicks in heavily. Superficially it is for a transition, but cleverly,
I argue the composers went for something further: we also have to realize that
the increased bass line always occurs throughout the song at certain sections’
ends. And so for why this matters, it goes back to my original point of the
instrumental remaining consistent and predictable. Given that the introduction
section uses this bass line increase at its end and that the instrumental does
this at other points, it makes the introduction seem far more fitting and not a
sheer outlier despite it technically being a chorus section—a section that
would typically be far too exciting to begin a song with.

All
that said, the instrumental still does bring many issues despite it bringing in
the mentioned positive points for the song. In fact, we can return to those
supposed strengths and see how, in my view, many weak aspects are brought as a
result. If we peer back at the choruses and the instrumental, even if it
highlights the ladies’ vocals at that moment, this is still quite problematic.
Already, on the surface there is the issue that emphasizing the vocals at this
moment is perhaps unnecessary and even detrimental: the delivered vocals are
far from being exceptionally stunning. In fact, I argue the vocals at the
choruses serve more as filler than actual sonic appeal. We can realize this by
how the vocals at the chorus carry an echoing, unison sound—something that is
oftentimes done in K-Pop songs to create a “filler” sound—and that the more
tuneful, pleasing vocals are actually located outside the choruses, be it at
the verses, pre-choruses, and definitely the bridge. As a result, then, I
personally am conflicted on whether the instrumental highlighting the vocals
was an appropriate choice: highlighting filler vocals is what should not be highlighted at all. And even in
the case that the composers intended for the choruses to merely be taken as
filler as a whole, this is still problematic as filler sections are seldom
desired and are ultimately there to progress the song until actual appeal comes
in—hence why I term them “fillers.”

Switching
over to the instrumental being consistent and using similar patterns throughout
the song—such as with the signature bass line increase towards the end of
choruses and verses—this is perhaps the song’s deepest problem. Certainly it
allows the song to pull off interesting approaches such as with using the
chorus as the introduction, and of course creating organization in the song,
but a consistent instrumental in “Red Flavor” also means it has to stay true to
a questionable hook used in the song: the murmured line of “red flavor.” Quite
clearly, this takes place most prominently at the post-chorus, but upon closer
listening, we will also come to realize that this very line is indeed murmured
even through the verses and choruses. Yes, it adds some layering to the song
and this is quite important in the choruses as it feels quite empty and hollow
as discussed earlier, but because the instrumental follows its rigid,
consistent style, this means that the murmuring line will also have to
tediously be heard throughout. What I argue is a very poor decision, however,
is that the composers did not just leave this hook line as mere background and instead
opted to include a post-chorus for the “instrumental” (as the murmured, edited “red
flavor” line functions as such) to take its spotlight. Quite bluntly, the
post-chorus not only leaves minimal aural appeal, but the fact that it brings
this background sound to the forefront is what is most troubling and more so
as, unfortunately, it makes sense for why the post-chorus does and almost has to exist. The reason: to stay true
to the instrumental being consistent. With the murmured lines being repeated
already throughout, it makes sense that a break in the song would indeed bring
the murmured lines to front as it is the only main sound left remaining; there
is simply nothing else in the instrumental especially since the instrumental becomes
quite passive during the choruses, the section promptly before the post-chorus.

Overall,
while “Red Flavor” is a unique song
in terms of its composition and that the very creative design to the song does
bring it some benefits, it seems that the song is left with more problems from
its different, creative form. Now this is not to shut down attempts of a
creative song or to encourage all pop songs to stay true to the traditional
format of the genre, but in “Red Flavor” ‘s case, it unfortunately just does
not manage to perfectly get through with its more creative approach. Nevertheless,
“Red Flavor” is still a decent song and is far from anything appalling; after
all, it still scores at an average. Additionally, with impressive points such
as the bridge and how “Red Flavor” manages to capture Red Velvet’s signature
song style, this song is not to be automatically dismissed. There is more to be
desired, but in the end, the song should be appreciated for its uniqueness and
of course that the ladies of Red Velvet deserve to be supported along with the
composers, producers, and other individuals involved in the song’s process. And
even if I am somewhat harsh in this review, as said, I personally find this
song to be quite enjoyable even if critically it remains lacking.

_______________________________________________________

I
will be promptly working on the requested review of Day6’s “I Smile” right
after this review is posted. I highly doubt it will be finished on the same
day, but it might be. Regardless, it should be finished by tomorrow and
similarly, the other two remaining requested reviews should be finished
back-to-back. While July is still quite lacking in content, August will very
likely contain constant posts as I will very much be preparing for university
again. Until then, look forward to three requested reviews, and as always, “In
the summer, what I like the most is, you.”

TWICE – “Knock Knock” Review

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

TWICE – Knock Knock

Reviewed
on March 13, 2017

image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Chorus: 9/10

4.     Rap: 8/10

5.     Bridge: 7/10

6.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 8/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Instrumental Introduction]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

SHINee – “1 of 1″ Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Live
Performance)

SHINee – 1 of 1

Reviewed
on January 13, 2017

For
where I wish to take this review, I plan to extend “1 of 1” ‘s prior
conversations: I agree with many that “1 of 1” is an excellent song, but I
disagree with those who claim such because the song is merely reminiscent of
“old K-Pop.” Instead, I hold that “1 of 1” is a solidly composed and executed
song that gains a lot of appeal due to how well the vocals and instrumental
synergize.

Personal Message:
Given that this review has been
continually delayed, I have decided it is time to officially finish it. As I
have yet to review SHINee, though, this review will still work out as I am
trying my best to introduce artists that have yet to appear on the blog. Also,
I do have some technical updates regarding the blog that I will address here
and will do so now.

The first update is that this blog
is now “encrypted.” What does this mean for readers? Nothing necessarily, but
in short it simply means the blog is “safer” with readers’ information (not that
I actually collect readers’ information minus view counts) as it is now a
“https” versus just “http.” In truth I am not too knowledgeable with this realm
of technology and cannot explain beyond just this, but readers should
definitely feel at ease browsing this blog in regards to information safety.

Secondly, while there might have
been a few advertisements on the blog, I wish to clarify that they are not from
me; the ads placed—which are now removed—are due to Tumblr and I was curious as
to how their ads worked and thus enabled them for a bit. In the far future and
if readers are not bothered, if Tumblr allows this blog to receive
monetization, I do plan on having non-intrusive ads stay. That said, monetization
is not to serve as motivation nor to turn this blog into a source of money;
monetization—if, again, it occurs at all—is merely a bonus and would
essentially only be enough for me to get, say, a cup of coffee every month. Because
I value readers’ genuine interest in my reviews and that I sincerely write
reviews due to my passion for pop music (and chances to discuss ethics and
social topics), if monetization ads in the far future do end up ruining
readers’ reading experience, I will absolutely remove them from the blog. But,
nothing will likely come anytime soon so readers should not be too concerned,
and personally, I am very much reluctant to add monetization due to potential conflicts
with readers’ reading experiences and perhaps even myself as my biggest fear is
that I would end up writing for money and not for love of music.

Onto the review itself now, although
“1 of 1” is a song that was released many months ago—specifically, nearly four
months ago—I return to the song as it has many intriguing points to discuss. Many
fans praised the song for being able to capture an “old K-Pop” vibe, and while
I cannot confirm that, I understand where those fans are coming from and I
would equally agree. Of course, however, style does not dictate a song’s
individual quality and thus for our purposes, whether “1 of 1” accurately
captures that “old K-Pop” style is irrelevant. I will discuss this further in
the review. For where I wish to take this review, I plan to extend “1 of 1” ‘s
prior conversations: I agree with many that “1 of 1” is an excellent song, but
I disagree with those who claim such because the song is merely reminiscent of
“old K-Pop.” Instead, I hold that “1 of 1” is a solidly composed and executed
song that gains a lot of appeal due to how well the vocals and instrumental
synergize.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 6/10
(6.29/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Rap: 6/10

6.     Bridge: 4/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Woo

Just like how each minute and
each second are different
Day by day, you become new
You’re the first of the first
That means you’re the only one

Your voice that calls out to me
lightly comes and slips into my ear
Your touch that I can feel in my hands
brings me to the dazzling world that
I’ve never been in before

You’re 1 of 1, girl
Only one
You are my answer without a doubt
You’re 1 of 1, girl
It’s perfect
You’re already incomparable
You’re the only meaning of my world

A person like you has a name of “Only One”
As if you’ve put on the perfect color, yeah
Like a sweet song that passes my ear
You perfectly match, I keep singing about you

Like the feeling I felt for the first time,
always replay
(Replay)
Your love newly shines
Once again, I’m falling, falling for you
(Come here)
I could never get sick of saying, “I love you”
A sweet kiss
Footsteps that only match each other
Without any warning, our eyes met
Why are you so beautiful?
(Let’s go)
You’re my baby

You’re 1 of 1, girl
Only one
You are my answer without a doubt
You’re 1 of 1, girl
It’s perfect
You’re already incomparable
You’re the only meaning of my world

1 of 1, girl
Only one
You fill me up without any empty spots
You’re 1 of 1, girl
It’s perfect
You’re irreplaceable
You’re the only meaning of my world

I’m so deeply into you,
I’m changing
When my heart that is lit up
with your light rises up
I will shine on you

You’re 1 of 1, girl
Only one
You are my answer without a doubt
You’re 1 of 1, girl
It’s perfect
You’re already incomparable
You’re the only meaning of my world

1 of 1, girl
Only one
You fill me up without any empty spots
You’re 1 of 1, girl
It’s perfect
You’re irreplaceable
You’re the only meaning of my world

You’re 1 of 1, girl
You’re 1 of 1, girl
You are my answer without a doubt
You’re 1 of 1, girl
(1 of 1, girl, 1 of 1)
You can’t be compared with anyone else
One and only
I only want you

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
analyzing and moreover challenging the current perception of the song, first I
wish to take some time to thoroughly explain what the current perception to “1
of 1” is at all. In short, the perception
I refer to is that “1 of 1” is a good song mainly on the basis that it resembles older K-Pop songs. Even more
precisely if we critically deconstruct even that summary, we would come to a
“debate” I addressed before on the blog: whether a song’s style can serve as a factor to a song’s quality (whether the song is “good” or “bad,” etc.). Although I
already offered my answer in this review—that style cannot be a factor to
critique—and have even explained such in reviews of Red
Velvet’s “Russian Roulette”
and even Crayon
Pop’s “Doo Doom Chit,”
I still find this provoking
question relevant. Here, though, rather than explaining the “debate” once again
(I only quote it as I find it more of a thoughtful discussion as it is less about
convincing people than and more about having that complex, deeper engagement),
let us instead understand why many rightfully and reasonably find that style is
a factor worth critiquing.  

In
“1 of 1,” the song does very much emulate older pop music—and indeed, there are
strengths from doing so. With the vocals and instrumental, the pacing of both
are rather intriguing: both are nearly identical, and moreover, both focus more
on flow than necessarily hitting high notes and intense moments—all these
traits being that of older pop music. The benefit out of this, though, is that
it creates what I later wish to focus on: solid cohesion and synergy throughout
the song. Everything fits together, and that is definitely a desirable trait in
any song. Moreover, with how the sections function with choruses being numerous
due to following an older pop style—as noticed by six choruses in the song—and, more importantly, that the choruses
are based not on necessarily being climactic but instead creating a smooth,
consistent progression in the song and indeed, we come to understand why many
desire to praise the style of a song. In “1 of 1,” it truly would be erroneous
to claim that the song’s style does not influence the song’s quality.

However,
I wish to challenge that idea not by disproving it; rather, I wish to challenge
this stance by extending it. Why is it that a song’s style influences
its overall quality? Perhaps it is not due to “style”—something that can be
overly generalizing to songs and vulnerable to pure musical biases—but instead
if we inspect this concept more closely, we find that it might be the
composition in specific that is worth praising. In other words, while style can
sway whether one prefers a song, we
have to understand that each song—even within the same style or genre—utilizes
their own specific composition techniques. In “1 of 1,” while its style
contributes to specific compositions, it ultimately is still how those specific
decisions are made. After all, if style was truly important, I would not have
graded UP10TION’s
“White Night”
as highly as I did. Let us, then, take
a look at some interesting and impressive points in “1 of 1” and see how the
song is good not just due to it “sounding like older K-Pop.”  

As
already mentioned, the cohesion and synergy from the vocals and instrumental
are the key strengths to the song. Besides sonically sounding well and aiding
in the song’s progression, it is this formula—if we can call it such—that each
section builds upon. For example, the choruses use the vocal and instrumental
pairing to create its iconic sound: a consistent instrumental with vocals that
become dynamic by switching between singular and unison singing—all while
retaining the pacing set forth earlier by the two aspects. The result from such
are choruses that are diverse in sound yet suitable in an overall hearing. Even
the rapping that occurs towards the middle of the song follows suit: the rap,
while sonically mundane at times, still holds decently due to the vocals
matching with the instrumental and thus granting an organized flow to the rap.

For
another point worth noting, because the vocals and instrumental are incredibly
synergized, “1 of 1” is the exclusion to many other songs: sounding sonically fantastic
without being strenuous. Oftentimes “solid” vocals are associated with powerful
note holds and frequent, difficult vocal beltings, and likewise a “solid”
instrumental is assumed to be complex. “1 of 1,” though, disproves both: due to
the synergy involved, the sound created from such is already appealing—even if,
overall, neither vocals nor instrumental are individually strong. It is
cohesion that provides the appeal. Tightness and being able to hear the clear
connections between each section, and furthermore, to be able to hear how both
instrumental and vocals play off one another’s sound is what comes as the sonic
appeal.

Finally
for the last praise and on a similar note of the last paragraph, it is that
very cohesion in sound that strengthens the sections. With being connected
seamlessly and having each part build off one another—such as the verse
becoming more intense for the pre-choruses of which then climaxes at the
choruses not through major vocal beltings but through alternating of singing
styles—and “1 of 1” truly stands out as an incredibly organized song. And
indeed, organization plays a large role in songs, and to reference the review
of UP10TION’s “White Night,” it is why I feared “White Night” would be a weaker
song as it appeared to be overly powerful to channel appropriately. But on
topic, this is why the bridge scores at a four: it is the only section to break
away from the smooth, cohesive flow established as it adopts a passive form
that is far too slow. And of course, there is one additional issue: the lyrics
tend to be repetitive—though this might be due to the choruses occurring six
times. But to be fair and consistent across reviews, the lyrics are penalized
for such.

Overall,
“1 of 1” is definitely a strong song if ignoring the somewhat tedious lyrics. Its
strength is in the synergized vocals and instrumental, of which then grant the
song much cohesion. And as I have argued, it is more than just “1 of 1”
sounding like older pop that makes it a stronger song; it is that the
composition involved—in this case, being able to compose the vocals and
instrumental in their specific manners—that brings the song’s delightfulness. Most
impressive to me about “1 of 1” is once again how sonically and structurally
solid it is despite never resorting to strenuous techniques—powerful note
holds, complex instrumental, and so forth. Instead, organization is what is
most valuable.

_______________________________________________________

One
more review should be coming out with this review: AOA’s “Excuse Me.” After I
finish that review, I will then focus on the many requests I received. For this
review, I do feel that I did a poor job of actually analyzing more closely
certain details—for example I never did actually discuss a section in of itself
and how all its intricacies worked to its benefits. But, given that the main
argument I had for “1 of 1” is not tied to its fine details, I hope it is
understandable on why I did not do so. As said, I wish to make reviews focus
more on the main point I wish to argue and not on merely putting songs through
an input-output machine. In cases where I need to focus on fine details—such as
in one upcoming request—I will definitely do so, but unless if it is essential
I find it more convenient to spare readers that. After all, a review could
easily become too lengthy if I did that level of analysis.

Thank
you to readers for being patient and understanding, and “You are my answer
without a doubt”—though this makes no sense at all. Just look forward to AOA’s
“Excuse Me,” though I may actually go ahead and temporarily skip it and instead
begin working on the three requests I have received. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.