MAMAMOO – “Piano Man” Review

MAMAMOO – Piano Man (Live Performance)

MAMAMOO – Piano Man

Reviewed on December 27, 2014

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Personal Message: After a delay of multiple weeks, I am finally starting this review. As mentioned, I have been requested to review this song. Firstly, to the requester, deep apologies. Due to poor prioritizing and scheduling, this review has become quite delayed, and for that, I am very sorry. With requests, they deserve top priority and I find that it was extremely rude of me to delay it for this long. Thankfully, here it finally is.

Anyhow, I am glad to have received this song. As the requester stated, this song has a style that varies from other songs reviewed here, and I can definitely agree (although once we systemically take it apart, there may be closer resemblances in reality). The concept for “Piano Man” gives off a musical play aura; the vocals, instrumental, and even some aspects of the dancing give a theater theme to the song. While personally I am not a huge fan of this song’s style, I can still appreciate it and, at the very least, feel completely stunned at MAMAMOO’s vocal capabilities. Nevertheless, I will remain unbiased when reviewing this song.

A final note to add, considering my previously failed attempt at compacting reviews (AOA’s “Miniskirt” was supposed to be a “speed review”), I will proceed with another trial. This time, my plan is to whittle down the Song Structure to solely my reasoning on my scores; I will remove both the description and summarizing piece that I have included in the past. This time around, I feel a lot more confident in a shorter review due to that, but we will have to find out. My current plan is to produce more reviews at the cost of shortening them, but if things are done correctly, the quality will remain practically the same, but the quantity of reviews should be vastly increased.

Progressing on, MAMAMOO may not be a popular group, but I hope that will change. Their concept is unique, and more importantly, their skills with dancing and singing is exceptional. That said, “I’m ready for some action,” but “are you ready for perfection?” Assuming “perfection” is in the form of MAMAMOO’s singing and not my writing, I am completely prepared.

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Song Total Score: 8/10 (8/10 raw score) – Average score of the sub-categories

– Vocals: 9/10 – Strangely, MAMAMOO’s popularity is relatively low despite how incredible their vocals are. For “Piano Man,” the group showcases versatile vocals; high notes and low notes were heard, and going from a gentle tone to an impactful, powerful one was no issue. Additionally, to suit the classier theme of “Piano Man,” the ladies sung with a soothing, slower style. This works out perfectly as it aids both the atmosphere and their general singing voices. Lastly, as expected, their vocals were exceptionally melodic. Different notes were utilized constantly, and as a result, besides further proving their skills as singers, it provides the song with a delightful flow.

Although I will not factor this into their grading, for this live performance, they were, indeed, singing live. An “MR Removed” video (a video that reveals live vocals for a performance) was made to showcase such, and considering it was uploaded to an official “MR Removed” channel, I will give it a decent amount of credibility (but, as always, they should be questioned; refer to a previous Question/Answer post for further information). Anyhow, MAMAMOO are all very adept singers. Every member individually holds exceptional singing, and for the song, their hard work and talent definitely reflects in this song’s fantastic vocals. A high score will be given.   

– Song Structure: 7/10 (6.88/10 raw score)

The song goes in this structure and order:

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

1. Introduction: 7/10 – With this review being the second test to concising reviews, we will see how it goes. Hwasa handles the introduction.

While the introduction might not be musically charged, it is still a valid introduction. Instead of the standard protocol of seducing listeners via catchy vocals and sounds, “Piano Man” opts for a different route. Setting up the stage, literally with the performance and figuratively with “stage” being the song, is the main priority. Hwasa’s lines in addition to the instrumental created the classier, jazz style of the song. Focusing on Hwasa’s lines, they displayed a lower pitch along with being soothing. This creates subtle build-up along with potentially hooking on listeners due to soothing vocals. Later, the introduction does transition to piano keys, and this prompts an appropriate and fluent switch to the verse.

Above average will be the rating. The slower paced setup in terms of both the soundtrack and vocals were effective.

2. Verse: 7/10 – Side note, to already address the concising idea, it is definitely a struggle, but with more practice, I can see this potentially working (or back to outlining different ideas). Anyhow, Solar and Hwasa handle the first verse, and Wheein handles the second verse.

In terms of the first verse, Solar and Hwasa showcase excellent vocals. By remaining on a slower pace and using lower pitches, the song develops naturally. In addition, the vocals themselves prove to be catchy; vocals remain lingering due to the lower notes and a pacing that accommodates to the instrumental. To focus more specifically on the singing, the two members executed a small, lower note stretch at the end of every line. Not only were the endings soothing, but the song’s overall style was also well supported. For what could have been slightly better, switching the format slightly would augmented the verses even more. Both Solar and Hwasa followed the same structure, and as a result, it does become slightly dull.

Nevertheless, the overall score for the verses will hold as above average.

3. Pre-Chorus: 6/10 – Everyone chips in for the pre-chorus.

The pre-choruses are contradicting in the sense of being unique yet standard. For what is rather typical, the build-up relies on the ladies’ vocals’ looping over and over. Now, for what is different, the use of vocals to create the hype differs from the norm; usually the instrumental’s beats are responsible for this format of pre-choruses. To discuss the actual pre-choruses, a strong point is utilizing MAMAMOO’s high-tier vocals in this form. With their melodic voices complementing the lighter instrumental, not only does build-up occur, but the overall gentler and classy concept is safeguarded. Diving into the weaker aspects, the most prominent one is the format itself. Even with MAMAMOO’s vocals, structurally, the pre-choruses are not thorough; the chanting (if I may label it as that) is plain, even if melodic vocals are added, and the instrumental is equally dry.

Slightly above average will be the score. Mechanically, the vocals save the section slightly, but overall, this format was slightly disappointing. Catchy as it may be, it lacks depth in terms of being an actual structure. By being a simple textbook-version pre-chorus, its sole purpose was hyping the song for the chorus.

4. Chorus: 8/10 – Wheein and Solar team up for the choruses.

Despite a weaker pre-chorus, this section does compensate. The choruses of “Piano Man” unveil MAMAMOO’s stronger vocals. Up until this point, their singing was based on remaining serene, but with this section, the opposite occurs: impactful vocals are heard. Peering more closely, besides powerful singing, a key aspect is how the vocals were guided; the vocals in the chorus retained the established melody, and additionally, remained within the boundaries of the song’s intensity. Blind, unrestricted vocals were nonexistent; instead, vocals that can still be considered powerful yet purposefully aimed are heard.

Due to being rather solid, a relatively higher score will be given. It lacks extra quality and aspects to push it towards a 9, but nevertheless, an 8 will suffice for MAMAMOO’s strong yet controlled vocals.

5. Post-Chorus: 6/10 – Moonbyul handles the post-choruses, although technically the other members are involved for the background vocals, and thus, everyone, in short, handles the post-choruses. Realistically, however, Moonbyul is the one receiving the spotlight.

Considering the post-choruses’ role here is to aid in a smoother transition back into the song, be it the second verse or even Moonbyul’s own rap, it somewhat fails in regards to that. Ironically, the post-choruses undermine that idea, and instead, the transition can be seen as somewhat rigid. Firstly, Moonbyul’s solo lines did the proper job of returning “Piano Man” to a slower, calmer state. However, the added background vocals negate that; the other members’ background lines involved chanting “yeah” in an impactful manner. Since the background vocals replicates the choruses’ style of powerful vocals, Moonbyul’s lines lose their functionality of transitioning the song back into the gentler tone. Focusing on the singing aspect and not entirely the format itself, Moonbyul’s lines possessed little melody. The background vocals do supply satisfying vocals, but as stated, they are out of place.

Homogenous to the pre-choruses, the post-choruses are mechanically sound, for the most part, with decent vocals, but format-wise, the section does falter. Perhaps removing the background vocals, or at the very least, lightening them via reducing the power, would aid the section.

6. Rap: 8/10 – Moonbyul is in charge of the rap, and although her lines in the post-choruses can be considered weaker, she utterly redeems herself through this section.

Surprisingly, even though this song is orientated towards regular singing vocals, this rap section completely suits the song. Moonbyul’s rap contains power, melody, and flow. Of the main factors for a rap, all are present; her words possess a heavier presence due to a mixture of Moonbyul’s charisma and voice, her rap carries a tuneful component similar to the usual singing heard, and most promisingly, her flow holds as extremely smooth and fluent. Ignoring the sheer mechanical aspects, the structure of the rap remains varying, and as a result, the rap as a whole becomes augmented. For example, the initial moment of the rap emphasized the flow and tune, and towards the end, power becomes highlighted.

Overall, a very impressive rap that is deserving of a higher score. Every aspect, whether it is the mechanics or format, are all solid.

7. Bridge: 6/10 – While there are solo words, the vast majority of the bridge is sung by MAMAMOO as a group.

On the surface, this bridge is seemingly rather solid, but once everything becomes accounted for, that is not quite the case. Initial moments of the bridge were decent; the unison singing gave the usual pacifying effect heard at bridges, and Wheein’s background vocals came off powerfully. What proceeds after that, however, is questionable. Specifically, the line of “We are MAMAMOO” provides an unnecessary contrast to the bridge’s established pacing and power. When factoring in even the moment after that line, powerful vocals were always present, and while that line could have been for emphasis, in the entirety of the bridge, it is moreover misplaced than suiting. Furthermore, the overall structure was not too appealing. Repeating “let’s swing, let’s groove” became stagnant, for example.

In the end, the mechanical aspects, as expected, prove to be impressive, but for the section as a whole, the format was weaker. Slightly above average will hold as the rating.

8. Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 7/10 – The post-chorus is recycled for the conclusion.

While the post-chorus in general is not individually spectacular, for concluding the song, it proves to be effective. Rather than following the traditional route of bringing the song to a relaxed, finishing state, “Piano Man” concludes with power. Moonbyul’s lines recur, and as anticipated, the other members’ background vocals are included. In this case of having no section afterwards, the impacting background vocals, unlike in the main part of the song where transition was a concern, become viable to use as a strong finish. This leaves “Piano Man” closing with the final impressions of MAMAMOO’s adept vocals, and overall, the energetic atmosphere is kept.

Overall, a solid conclusion due to a properly reused post-chorus. Above average will be the score.  

– Line Distribution: 10/10 – With only four members in MAMAMOO, the Line Distribution score should be a free 10. Adding on, with every lady possessing incredible vocals, everyone is capable of superb singing, and thus, the share should be equal.

Solar’s lines involved the first verse and the choruses. While that may seem lacking, considering the duration of lines and how the choruses occurred three times, there is no issue with her share. She had sufficient spotlight.

Moonbyul’s moments include the post-choruses and, most prominently, her solo rap section. Since the post-choruses were replayed multiple times, and including how her rap section was solely for her, there are no issues with the line share. Moonbyul left a solid impression throughout the song.

Next is Wheein. Her lines included the choruses and a solo verse. Noticing the current trend, so far, it seems that every member is responsible for two sections. Her moment at the choruses were lengthy, and to ensure her presence was acknowledged, an entire verse was also given. No issues exist here.

Finally, for Hwasa’s lines, she was involved at the introduction and the first verse. Amazingly, the trend still holds true. Like her group members, she had two sections to handle. The introduction had a longer duration, and with the first verse, even her singing was showcased. A perfect amount of time was given.

Adding an excessive factor, a lot of moments involved everyone singing. Whether it was in the form of background vocals or two-part singing such as in the final chorus, even these additional parts had equal share.

A perfect score will be given. This is outstanding for line distributions, and although numerically MAMAMOO is at an advantage, it is nevertheless quite impressive to see a perfectly shared song.

– Instrumental: 8/10 – For the instrumental of “Piano Man,” thankfully and correctly, the piano is the main instrument; after all, with a song title of such, a piano soundtrack should be included. Focusing on the soundtrack, it provides solid support for the song. In terms of creating the song’s classier atmosphere, strictly utilizing instruments that reflect a classy, jazz style aid that purpose. Additionally, individually, the instrumental is pleasing. It holds a soothing and catchy aspect; the beats and main melody from the piano complement each other to deliver a lingering effect. On the subject of complementing, the vocals and soundtrack meshed exceptionally well. With stellar vocals, the instrumental ushered attention towards the singing, but nevertheless, a supportive layer was still supplied to reciprocate the vocals’ power and energy.

A solid score will be earned here. Individually the soundtrack holds well, and with helping MAMAMOO’s singing, that is also covered.

– Meaning: 6/10 – With an intriguing title, people are most likely pondering over its meaning. “Piano Man” might be praising, as the song title goes, a man who is very talented at the piano. Or, instead of praising, it might be flirting with a “piano man.” To end the speculations, here are the Korean-to-English translated lyrics. While they are not 100% accurate, the general idea should become uncloaked:

I’m ready for some action
Are you ready for perfection?
Hey piano man
Hello, um

Such boring conversations
Such senseless guys
My high heels and carefully applied lipstick,
they don’t even notice, how boring
I think it was then you walked in
A piano man who doesn’t fit in this place
When his white finger touched the keys
My eyes were wide opened

(bumppappara bumppappara bumppappara bum
bumppappara bumppappara bumppappara)

Hey piano man, your dancing hands
The piano man, your unpredictable body movements
What can I say, I want only you and me to be in this place

To the right, to the right, to the right
To the left, to the left, to the left
(yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)

When your fingers brush against the keys
I keep getting naughty thoughts
My heart beats staccato
Hey Mr. Ambiguous
Play my body like a piano

(bumppappara bumppappara bumppappara bum
bumppappara bumppappara bumppappara)

Hey piano man, your dancing hands
The piano man, your unpredictable body movements
What can I say, I want only you and me to be in this place

To the right, to the right, to the right
To the left, to the left, to the left
(yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)
(Word up, Moon Star)

It starts with the trumpet
Can I get that?
In between is the sound of the hi-hat
Drum drum kick
on top of the sweet dish of rhythm you place in the piano
Let me introduce myself
I like jeans instead of skirts,
but they’re still crazy about me

Oh swing, let’s groove, singing
Oh swing, let’s groove, my baby
Oh swing, let’s groove
Let us introduce ourselves, we are MAMAMOO
Darling you are my own

Hey piano man, when this song ends, come to me
(Come to me piano man)
The piano man, the conversation is now over
The last melody, I want it to be just you and me
(Just you and me)
I want to listen to it

Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, wanna keep meeting?
(yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah)

My latter prediction holds as somewhat correct; the lyrics depict a flirtatious love story involving a lady and her love-interest, a “piano man.” Unlike the other males that have passed by, the main character becomes captivated by the piano man. His talent with the piano is what drives her interest; his “dancing hands” become an interest, and the act of his fingers “[brushing] against the keys” leads the lady to have “naughty thoughts” (perhaps such as him flirting with her instead of solely playing the piano). Other details further support the lady’s infatuation, and overall, the most unique aspect to these lyrics is the focus on the piano/music to reflect the lover’s feelings.

Between deciding a 6 or 7, I lean moreover towards a 6 due to weaker details, although they are numerous. Some details are miniscule, or somewhat irrelevant. For example, the rap section’s lyrics are not only confusing (although that may be due to translating), but it does not relate back into the flirting concept; music is related back to, but the piano man or the lady’s infatuation are not mentioned.  

For “Piano Man,” unfortunately and fortunately, the “Critical Corner” label-to-be-decided section where we dive deeper and question the lyrics is not too relevant here. I admire that this song does shift away from the typical flirtatious stories where physical appearances are the catalyst for attraction. Instead, the main character is attracted to a certain man due to his talent with the piano, not his looks. Realistically, though, love and attraction should come over time; infatuation should not be an spontaneous emotion, but rather, developed overtime and building up due to understanding and finding out more about a love-interest. Anyhow, I cannot pinpoint anything to critically discuss for this song.   

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Choreography Score: 7/10 – With this final section left, we have the choreography to grade.

Factoring in “Piano Man” ‘s concept, a flashier, upbeat dance is not expected. Simplicity and calmness are this dance’s stronger points. Peering at the syncing, most of the choreography relates to the song; the beats matched movements, and even the flow was synchronized via different gestures and such. Unfortunately, for what is weaker in the choreography, the key points proved to be slightly lacking. While they varied at times, most of them were rather plain. For example, the piano playing key point for the choruses were clever in terms of matching to the song and lyrics, but visually, the dance itself remains insipid. Other key points were also equally uninteresting. Nevertheless, the slightly weaker key points are miniscule, and considering there were some strong key points such as the pre-choruses’ tap dancing, the key points, overall, still hold as decent.

More appealing key points could potentially bump up the score to an 8, but taking a different perspective on the choreography, nothing should be altered; the dance remains less physically demanding due to simpler key points, and thus, more stamina is allocated towards singing. As a result, for MAMAMOO’s purpose, the choreography perfectly suits their main objective of showcasing their dominating vocals. Ignoring this side note, the grade will still hold as above average.

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Overall Score: 8/10 (7.5/10 raw score) – In the end, a high score of 8/10 holds. This is definitely reasonable and agreeable to. “Piano Man” discloses amazing vocals due to the members’ skills, and for the song itself, with decent song sections and a phemenonal line distribution, a high score is expected. Furthermore, even the choreography holds well.

As always, thank you very much for reading. I appreciate that you are willing to spend some time reading this review, so thank you. For the person who requested this, I hope I brought justice to this song in terms of genuinely grading it and with decently explaining. Also, apologies for a huge delay on this review; this song was requested weeks ago, but I have finally got to it. I will ensure future requests are heavily prioritized. Due to having some work to clear, my schedule has not been complete leisure time. Nevertheless, I still expect to finish strongly for December, and with my last week of break, to catch up on all my work. It is time to be like T-ARA’s Soyeon and to push through everything.

For other news, I have been recently getting a copious amount of positive feedback, and for that, I am very grateful. It is great to hear from readers and your thoughts on my review structure and writing. However, do not forget to also bring in criticism; while many shudder at that word, criticism is not necessarily bad at all, especially if it is constructive. Hearing how I can improve vastly aids my reviews, and from the past with feedback, I have learned a lot.

More important information, or at least, for those curious, I have two special reviews in mind. It has been a while since I have done show reviews, but I have two in mind. These will provide a welcoming change after a barrage of purely songs. To give hints on which shows they are, one is somewhat older, but the other one is new and ongoing (which makes me wonder if I can accurately review it). Anyhow, the first show focuses on my favorite male group, and the second focuses on one of my top groups in general. They will both hopefully be out within a few days.

This seems like an appropriate place to close, so once again, thank you for reading, for those who send in feedback, I appreciate all of the support and kind words sent. Although “the conversation is now over,” for “The last melody, I want it to be just you and me.” Stay tuned for the two upcoming show reviews (and usual song reviews). Keep checking back.