G-Reyish – “Johnny Go Go” Review

(Music Video) / (Dance Practice)

G-Reyish – Johnny Go Go

Reviewed on August 17, 2017

And so, for where this review will be going, I hope to provide a more respectful and thoughtful argument as to why “Johnny Go Go” is a weaker song. After all, using the idea of “copying concepts” to claim that “Johnny Go Go” is a bad song would be akin to me arguing that my reviews are terrible because the blog is not aesthetically pleasing.

Continue reading “G-Reyish – “Johnny Go Go” Review”

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.

Day6 – “I Smile” Review

(Music Video)

Day6 – I Smile

Reviewed
on August 2, 2017

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion: 6/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 6/10

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

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

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

You’re the same
Your smile is still so pretty

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

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

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

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

[Conclusion instrumental]

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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.”

Monsta X – “Beautiful” Review

(Music
Video—Dance Version)

Monsta X – Beautiful

Reviewed
on July 19, 2017

Particularly
for this review, I will briefly spend some time discussing the introduction and
post-chorus on an individual scale, but afterwards we will then entirely focus
on “Beautiful” ‘s overall composition. Specifically with that, despite how the
song very much inverts the traditional structuring of pop songs, I argue the
sheer uniqueness of such a composition is not enough to compensate for the drawbacks
that occur as a result.

Personal Message:
To the requester of this review,
huge apologies for the delay. That said, thank you for sending this in and for
being extremely patient as I slowly catch up on as many song as possible. And
with that, after this review I will also hastily finish the request for Day6’s
“I Smile.” There are many comebacks this summer and many of which are either
decent songs or songs that are quite creative in a composition sense, and so I
hope to cover as many of them as possible. (Additionally, with my new reviewing
style of focusing on main points and no longer necessarily dissecting each
minute detail, I feel that this goal is possible.)

On topic with the current review, while
requests tend to be of latest songs, it should be noted that Monsta X’s actual
comeback is “Shine Forever” if I am correct. Regardless of that, “Beautiful” is
still a relevant song to review and definitely possesses a lot of creative
compositional ideas. Furthermore, Monsta X in a general sense has been a group
I have always kept my eyes—or more accurately, ears—on. While they are already
relatively popular, I confidently say that in the far future it would not be
surprising if they become a top boy group—at least in a musical context (given
that the very topic of popularity is something that is highly complicated in
the K-Pop scene). For example, they have stunning choreographies along with
having very skilled vocalists—both standard and rappers. And, from my limited
experience, they also seem to appeal to audiences on variety shows be it on Weekly Idol or on a show where one
member showed his sweet, gentle fatherly side as he took care of a young child.
Lastly, besides their shameless “aegyo” moments, they also seem incredibly
close to each other and that it always something that will keep fans around as
it is incredibly heartwarming to see them being affectionate and caring for
each other. The only downside to Monsta X is that their beauty encourages
fanboys to engage in dark magic in hopes of also becoming as pretty as the men—or
perhaps that is just a sign that I need to stay out of the summer heat.

Horrible jokes aside, let us talk
about “Beautiful.” Although I will not focus too much on individual aspects to
the song—as, again, I am experimenting with a new reviewing style—there are
many topics to cover when it comes to the song in whole. Particularly for this
review, I will briefly spend some time discussing the introduction and
post-chorus on an individual scale, but afterwards we will then entirely focus
on “Beautiful” ‘s overall composition. Specifically with that, despite how the
song very much inverts the traditional structuring of pop songs, I argue the
sheer uniqueness of such a composition is not enough to compensate for the drawbacks
that occur as a result.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 5/10
(5.00/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
3/10

2.     Rap: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 6/10

6.     Bridge: 5/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 6/10

[Introduction instrumental]

Why is it you?
I’m going crazy
What is this?
I think I’ve fallen for you
All day, in my head
Round and round it goes
A question mark, every day
I know you have thorns
But I want you, red rose
Because of the thorns,
a beautiful rose can bloom
Dark red flowers, it means I love you
Even if I bleed everywhere, I want to know you
‘cause I think about you every day
I’m already addicted to you

When you touch me, my entire body reacts
I can only live if you’re here
Every day, every night
I can feel you

You’re so beautiful
I can’t take my eyes off you
Like a thorn on a flower
I know I’ll get pricked but I want you
So beautiful, so beautiful
You’re so pretty, so beautiful it makes me sad
Too beautiful to handle

[Post-Chorus instrumental]

Two fingers, thumbs up
You make me say words of awe
You take away my right mind
I think I’ll go crazy
When I smell your scent,
it spreads, it grows
I’m addicted
I’m prickled, hurt
It’s between love and pain
You’re so awesome
Don’t give out secret looks
Don’t smile at me
My head says: “no”
But my heart says: “oh yes”
I’m going crazy
I don’t know, I’m going all in

When you touch me, my entire body reacts
I can only live if you’re here
Every day, every night
I can feel you

You’re so beautiful
I can’t take my eyes off you
Like a thorn on a flower
I know I’ll get pricked but I want you
So beautiful, so beautiful
You’re so pretty, so beautiful it makes me sad
Too beautiful to handle

I know I can’t ever have you
I know you’re more beautiful when I only look
I’ll protect you, so you can bloom more beautifully
(My one and only baby)
I don’t care if I get hurt
’cause you’re my
one and only beautiful

You’re so beautiful
I can’t take my eyes off you
Like a thorn on a flower
I know I’ll get pricked but I want you
So beautiful, so beautiful
You’re so pretty, so beautiful it makes me sad
Too beautiful to handle

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Already,
to do some individual “dissecting” as I have termed it, I do wish to first
discuss the introduction and post-chorus. With the introduction, its score is quite
concerning: a three for below average. There are two reasons for this—one minor,
one major. The minor reason is that sonically, the introduction seems to fail
to capture listeners’ attention as it consists mostly of flickering, echoing
beeps. But, as introductions are not necessarily expected to sound glorious in
all cases, this criticism can be minimalized. That said, the other and
significant reason that I find the introduction troublesome is that even on a
structural level, the introduction is extremely detrimental to the song. As we
will further discuss, the introduction highly alienates itself from the rest of
the song: aurally, the song does not quite utilize these similar sounds until
the conclusion; structurally, the introduction does little to set up the
upcoming rigorous, powerful rapping. Combining both of these views and we now
have an introduction that not only sounds unappealing, but it is one that also
fails its very own role of establishing the song’s sound and style and
attracting attention. Furthermore and most importantly, with how “Beautiful”
struggles (as we will get to) to remain a cohesive song that is not sharply
divided between certain parts, this introduction does not help with that and
instead merely adds onto that very problem of the song overly “splitting.” On
the other hand, the post-chorus in “Beautiful” was, in many ways, the opposite
of the introduction: The sounds utilized are indeed related back to the song’s
core instrumental. Additionally, the pause provided from this section helped
connect the song’s sections rather than further splitting apart the sections as
does the introduction—this being due to how the slower, passive style is
relating back to the prior chorus and is to ease into the upcoming rap section.

All
that aside, though, let us consider “Beautiful” in a wider lens. Regardless of
how much we could analyze the vocals, instrumental, and the remaining sections,
none of that would reach the true core of the song: the composers crafted “Beautiful”
so that it completely flips around how sections work in traditional pop music.
To build some background so as to not confuse readers, by using the phrase “traditional
pop music” in relation to sections, I am referring to the simple progression
that pop songs tend to follow. In summary, the song starts off slowly and gradually
builds in intensity and that said intensity climaxes at typically a chorus.
This format then repeats. Now, for what is impressive about “Beautiful,” this
structure still exists—but in reverse; indeed, the composers have made it so
that the song starts and almost already
climaxes at a very early point. Only at the choruses does the song finally
begin to relax. And to be more clear, we can find this occurring if we think of
the song in this manner: the rapping sections are the climactic peaks—this we
can hear and feel from how powerful and sharp the sections are—and the
remaining sections, that of the pre-chorus and chorus, are focused on calmer
singing and are backed up by an instrumental that emphasizes a linear flow
versus having fluctuations throughout. (Think, after all, of how Monsta X’s “Hero”
has a chorus where the instrumental is at its prime and is constantly changing
and in action. Compare that to “Beautiful” and we realize the instrumental at
the choruses are not climaxing at all, but rather are resetting and relaxing
the song.)

So,
while this challenge to the traditional norm of pop songs deserves some praise
for the sheer fact that the composers took a significant risk, we still have to
ask the main, critical question: Is this strategy actually effective? I argue both sides: yes and no. On the positive side, as
already stated, one benefit is that doing such is unique—and certainly, having a song that is distinct is crucial
and always helpful. However, ignoring this perspective, there are still
potential musical strengths that are gleaned. The main gain is that this
inverted format allows the rap sections to become the song’s highlights—the song’s
“choruses” if we even dare say such. Especially as the rap sections are already
decent ones that appeal via flow, power, and rhythm, having them as the
spotlight and climactic points are not a bad decision. And, admittedly, this
inverted format might be the only way such a song could accommodate the raps:
if the raps are already quite intense, having an even more intense chorus might
be unrealistic as it would be far too excessive. Likewise, positioning the raps
after the choruses and using them to reset the song would also be difficult as,
once again, that would counteract the very purpose of calming down the song
given that the rap sections are quite rigorous.

Positives
covered, let us now focus on the negatives. Unfortunately, while this inverted
format can work and other songs have very much utilized it to high success
(Girls’ Generation’s “Bump It” is a solid example in mind of this inverted
format), there is a reason for why
the traditional format is used. With “Beautiful,” the pre-choruses and choruses
become lackluster—both due to mere comparison with the rap sections, but also
and mostly due to how the song ends up unintentionally dividing itself. As
hinted earlier with the introduction section, that and the rap sections are
drastically different from the calmer sections of the songs. While the
post-chorus helped provide a connecting link for one chorus to the upcoming
rap, the same cannot be said for the earlier moments and the introduction itself.
This abstractness caused by such significant differences in sections and how
there is a lack of “building up” to any sections—or even “building down” for
that matter—makes “Beautiful” sound somewhat disorganized. It is not to a
significant degree as are other songs I have heard, but it is a fault
noticeable enough that prevents “Beautiful” from utterly excelling.

All
in all, “Beautiful” is still a decent song. The vocals and lyrics are solid
points to appreciate, and of course, the very fact that the song itself is
structured and composed in a way that defies the common pop song progression is
something that should be respected. But, sadly, the traditional “build up” pop
progression is there for a reason: it is naturally intuitive, allows a song to
easily remain organize, and so forth. The composers came short with covering
the potential weaknesses of not following
a traditional pop format, but nevertheless it was an impressive effort and
considering that many of Monsta X’s pop songs are actually of the usual format,
a change is never too bad. I still find many other songs from the men to be
more appealing than “Beautiful,” but regardless of my take to it—as, after all,
readers and fans should feel free to disagree—I wholeheartedly support the men.
I find that they have a lot of potential in the K-Pop scene both musically and
as role models for fans, and I will continue to look out for future content
from them.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, I greatly apologize for even further delays. I technically did
finish this review on July 15, but only now did I actually finish the writing
process. (I have shared this a year ago and even recently if correct, but I
write reviews in two phases: brainstorming and actual writing. The
brainstorming is where I have all of my discussion points clearly laid out, and
only after is it when I turn those bullet points into actual words.) Slowly but
surely I am fixing my poorly developed summer habits, but excuses aside, I do
hope this review is enjoyable and thought-provoking. And of course, thank you
to everyone—both readers and requester. I truly appreciate any time given to
the blog.

For
upcoming reviews, Day6’s “I Smile” was requested quite a while back and I will
now finally begin and finish it. I am excited for that review as not only is it
within the pop-rock genre, but the song itself truly is unique and almost
entirely deviates away from usual pop song formats. If “Beautiful” is already
seen as unique, “I Smile” ‘s composition truly did its own take to pop-rock
music. And during my time with that review, Red Velvet’s “Red Flavor” will end
up getting a review—even if unintentionally. I was enjoying the song in a
casual style, but that soon led me to actually critically analyzing it and
finding how—once again—creative it is, but also that there are many weak links
in the song. Until then, “I can only live if you’re here”—not because I am
obsessed with readers, but because I am finishing this review rather late at
night that I might suddenly faint. Kidding, of course; though it is extremely
late in my standards (eleven at night), this review was worth it and I very
much enjoyed writing it.

IU – “Palette” Review

(Music
Video)

IU – Palette (ft. G-Dragon)

Reviewed
on July 9, 2017

Particularly
for this review, I wish to address why the vocal rating is seemingly low
despite the artist being IU, a vocalist who is oftentimes deemed as one of the
best in K-Pop, and more importantly, why a song being incredibly plain is
somehow garnering praise here while in a majority of cases this would warrant
much criticism from me. In other words: why is it that “Palette” is, in my
argument, appealing despite how it could easily be deemed a simple or even
boring song?

Personal Message:
I truly need to get back into the
habit of writing every day. Finally, after perhaps five weeks, I am getting to
the review that a personal friend requested. Quite obviously I am a good,
reliable friend. For other news, though, I will also be attempting to get back
into subtitling videos on a weekly basis along with more consistent reviews. To
explain my absence, once again, there is no actual reason: I admittedly have
been quite lazy. Even if I have an extraordinary amount of songs that I desire
to review (and even some Chinese Pop songs that I plan to review), I found
myself not able to turn that desire into action—until, of course, right now of
which is at a rather late time.

For what I hope will kick reviews
back into a more frequent schedule, I will be taking a major risk with how
actually write reviews. Rather than spending time on all the details, I will
experiment with highlighting the core, musical discussions at hand. Thus, this
might mean there are reviews—admittedly such as this one—where minimal time
will be spent on the fine details of the song. However, for key topics that
arise, I will definitely spend much focus there. After all, not only does it
become repetitive to dissect songs in such a systematic manner, but sometimes
there truly are more important topics to discuss than overly focusing on each
individual section in a song and the like. And, this all ties back into why I review songs in the first place:
it is not necessarily to reveal secret details and strategies in songs per se,
but it is to foster readers’ appreciation for pop music and to foster “active
listening” in readers. (“Active listening” is, in my use of the term, where
readers truly pay attention to the song and asks questions rather than
situating it as mere background, catchy noise.) Additionally, and for arguably
the most important part, I also hope to begin a discussion on music where
readers and fans have a space to disagree and agree with one another on a
song—after all, my reviews are merely my subjective
take to a song that should not be taken as an objective truth.

With all that, let us get right into
IU’s “Palette.” This song is perhaps one of the more interesting songs I have
reviewed: it structurally and sonically is perhaps one of the simplest songs I
have heard, but despite that it is rather effective and even appealing due to
the sheer simplicity. The issue this poses, sadly, is that this would make the
song difficult for a standard review in the sense of attempting to analyze all
of the sections and such. Thus—and once again to take a risk—I will not focus
so much on the individual aspect of the song but instead, the more important
discussions that arise. Particularly for this review, I wish to address why the
vocal rating is seemingly low despite the artist being IU, a vocalist who is
oftentimes deemed as one of the best in K-Pop, and more importantly, why a song
being incredibly plain is somehow garnering praise here while in a majority of
cases this would warrant much criticism from me. In other words: why is it that
“Palette” is, in my argument, appealing despite how it could easily be deemed a
simple or even boring song?

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 6/10
(6.00/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Chorus: 6/10

4.     Rap: 6/10

5.     Conclusion: 6/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 8/10

[Introduction instrumental]

Strangely, these days
I like things that are easy
But still, I like Corinne’s music
Rather than hot pink,
I like a deep purple
I also like pyjamas
with buttons and lipstick
and jokes

I like it
I’m twenty-five
I know you like me
Oh I got this
I’m truly fine
I think I know a little bit about myself now

Rather than long hair,
I definitely like short hair
But still, I was pretty when I sang “Good Day”
Oh why is it this way?
I like things that are a little outdated
Rather than pictures I like filled
palettes, diaries, and the times I am asleep

I like it
I’m twenty-five
I know you hate me
Oh I got this
I’m truly fine
I think I know a little bit about myself now

Everything’s hard because you’re young
Getting upset when you’re being nagged
A child who used to only get scolded
barely passed twenty
Happiness seems just momentary
It hurts because you’re young
Jieun, oppa* just turned thirty
But I’m not ready,
but I’m an adult
Although I still have a lot more to go,
I’m only five years older than you
Past twenty, not yet thirty
In between, right there
Not a kid or an adult
You’re just you
That’s when you shine the brightest
So don’t get scared when darkness comes
You’re so beautiful that your flower will bloom
You’re always loved
(You)
Palette, diaries, the times I am asleep

I like it
I’m twenty-five
I know you like me
Oh I got this
(I got this)
I’m truly fine
I think I know a little bit about myself now
(Still have a lot to say)

I like it
(Like it)
I’m twenty-five
I know you hate me
Oh I got this
I’ve truly found–
I think I know a little bit about myself now

[Conclusion instrumental]

*Oppa literally means “brother” and it is how females refer to older males.
In this case, G-Dragon is referring to himself even if in English this
appears odd as it is “third-person,” but this is grammatically correct in this context as we understand “oppa” as a proper noun akin to “Brother.”

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
perhaps the more “review”-like aspect of this very review takes place, I first
want to address the vocal ratings as I predict this would be the one aspect
that readers would want to contest. Now clearly, a six is definitely not a poor
score at all, but considering it is IU, this rating might be disappointing. The
first point to clarify is that the vocal rating is not based on an artist
individually and her vocal performance in an overall sense, but rather it is
based on his performance in the context
of the song
. Thus, a six here is not to say IU is merely a slightly above
average singer in general—I would highly disagree with that. However, in the
context of “Palette,” her vocals—while still solid—are not to the degree that I
am awed. First, already one problem is the lack of variety in the singing. Even
if the difficulty is quite high and thus the skill involved is quite impressive,
in terms of the actual results, we can merely summarize the vocals as this: higher
pitched beltings. Certainly there are more standard singing parts during the
verses, but given the choruses’ length, we can roughly agree that this is the
main point to the vocals in “Palette.” Unfortunately, having purely a softer vocal
delivery—especially when considering how the song is already structured to be
very straightforward—will hold the vocal rating back. Again, the singing is
still quite good sonically as we will get into, but the mundaneness that occurs
after multiple playbacks due to IU’s singing is why I decided to place a rating
cap on the vocals even if IU is oftentimes cherished as one of the better
vocalists in K-Pop.

All
that clarified, let us now address the song itself, particularly: why is it
that the song still miraculously scores well—ignoring the lyrics, that is. Obviously,
the lyrics are able to bring the overall score up by a huge margin and this is
due to how the lyrics are in fact incredibly detailed and function as a minor,
actual story. But ignoring that, we still have to acknowledge the song itself
is still slightly above average despite how it truly is one of the most
repetitive songs that this blog might have covered. Before continuing, though,
now would be the appropriate time to clarify another misconception: variety in
of itself is not automatically a positive point to a song. In fact, variety can
easily backfire: there have been songs that are far too chaotic and lack any
sort of cohesion, PRISTIN’s “Wee Woo” being an unfortunate example in mind (and
it has been reviewed for those curious on further details). In “Wee Woo,”
variety is in fact there—the issue, then, is not whether variety exists in a
song, but how said variety or lack thereof is used as a composition strategy.
Specifically with “Palette,” I find that the composers very much intended for
the song to lack variety as this opened up new, creative possibilities.

For
one, by lacking variety in both aural and structural components, the most
important effect that is created is how the attention goes less towards the
song’s tunes and raw sound and instead, attention goes to the song’s pure rhythm
and flow. Because IU’s vocals are not doing anything that is completely
captivating nor is the instrumental, the listening experience becomes less of
having a main, focal point but instead a generalized one that focuses on all aspects equally. This is definitely
a creative take to the song and I argue this intention works out very well as
listeners no longer focus on any traditional main points—whether that is the
vocals, instrumental, or section layout—but every easily meshes together and
the entire song becomes one solid unit. Overall, this sense of wholeness is why
“Palette” excels despite how, on the surface, it would appear to be a song that
was poorly composed and lackluster. Individually, the parts to the song are rather
dull, but once pieced together, “Palette” becomes an unusual aural experience
and is one that definitely differs from many pop songs and ballads.

Another
benefit to purposeful lack of variety is that we have to understand the song’s
very foundation is based upon that. If not for the song lacking variety especially
in a sonic sense, “Palette” would be unable to create its wholesome, signature listening
experience. A quick notice at the sections easily reveals this: it should be
noticed that quantitatively, the song lacks many sections; also, regarding
types, the song also lacks many types of sections. Most notably, the song
essentially consists of verses and choruses that occur back-to-back—though it
should be noted that the rap section takes on a significant portion and is also
a key component. On topic, however, the supposed dullness and lack of variety
to “Palette” is easily understood when we realize that, for the song to have
its incredibly linear progression—and hence the “wholesome” result—using merely
a verse-to-chorus structure is almost necessary (and also hence why the rap
section is quite lengthy and also extends the mere straightforwardness of the
song). Without a bridge or pre-chorus, a song will naturally lose much of its
diverse sounds as, after all, each section accounts for a new sound and style
in a song.

Overall,
IU’s “Palette” is admittedly limited by its very lack of variety; it is true—in
my argument and thus “true” in a loose sense—that the song being slower paced
and having minimal fluctuations throughout can very much deter some listeners.
However, when we consider that the composers were able to create a song that
challenged the very tradition of a song—that there is a focal focus be it the
vocals or instrumental or sections—by making it so that there is no focal point at all, I argue “Palette”
deserves some credit and is in fact quite appealing if viewed that way. Even if
I personally very much dislike the song’s style, it would be completely
disrespectful and silly to not acknowledge that, in a critical sense, “Palette”
is a decent song. And of course, with the lyrics being one of the better ones I
have heard, the song in an overall take is able to score quite well at a seven.
Besides, even if I do not grade the lyrics in a sentimental and emotional
sense, I still find that this song is a comforting one especially for those who
are becoming older and “adults.” (And I am relating very much now as I, too, am
slowly finding my “adulthood” and transitioning to that stage in life.)

_______________________________________________________

I
have finally finished this review. To my dear friend: thank you for being the
most patient person ever—and thank you for continually harassing me about this
as I very much deserve constant reminders of my hypocrisy and lies. For other
news, if correct, this review actually marks the third anniversary of this
blog. Three years ago I started with having no idea on where this would go, and
over the years I slowly found that reviewing K-Pop songs is one of the most
rewarding hobbies I have done. The only downside, however, is how every month I
continually look back and become flustered at how pathetic my writing and
thinking were. But, perhaps, this is also the beauty of this blog as readers
can literally see me grow in all ways: from slowly becoming better at writing;
becoming more analytical with reviews; becoming more concise; becoming more
critical in my thinking and more emotionally mature especially when it came to
discussing social topics (as much earlier discussions were actually very biased
and favored one perspective when, in reality, all social topics are incredibly
complex and I now favor a balanced, moderate view of social topics).

The
question I wonder now is how many more anniversaries will occur—and if I dare
say it, I hope to continue for as long as possible. Especially as I will not
stop listening to music until I literally am dead (and that K-Pop and C-Pop are
my cultural music lens and thus, this will not change the blog’s core content),
there would be no reason to necessarily stop reviewing songs even in the far
future as a busy individual. Let us see how far this blog goes and for all I
know, perhaps one day I will have an official site rather than relying on
Tumblr as the host. But, as I like to say, let us worry more about the “realistic
future” and not the far future where nothing is known at all.

Two
more requests are lined up and I will be reviewing them tomorrow: Monsta X’s “Beautiful”
and Day6’s “I Smile.” Look forward to those requests and many other songs and
even Critical Discussions that will occur. Until then, “I got this / I’m truly
fine”—even though deep down I am actually quite anxious as I might have overly
delayed these requests and fear I might go back to being unproductive. But,
considering this new reviewing style actually grabs my attention and motivates
me, I think we might see a post every other day which would be quite fantastic and
a way to prepare myself for the most difficult semester to soon come.

24K – “Only You” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Dance Practice)

24K – Only You

Reviewed
on June 26, 2017

While
the song is far from being the best and admittedly does render—in my
argument—as somewhat generic, it still possesses solid points. Specifically for
what we will focus on in this review, I want to home in on how well the song
remains cohesive throughout its run. Afterwards, though, I wish to discuss the
problematic aspect of the song following a rather generic structure.

Personal Message:
Huge apologies to readers for delays
in reviews as mentioned in the prior, bonus one. While I am certainly not busy
at all due to summer break, I have been struggling to “get into the writing
zone” as I personally say. In simple terms: I am being lazy. But, for what is
the problem, I find that I write most comfortably and genuinely when I can
immerse myself in writing versus forcing
myself to write. Thus, this month has been relatively inactive as I,
unfortunately, have been leaning towards the latter. However, I am now finally
feeling motivation to write and more so as there are many comebacks and review
requests to cover. (In particular, I will skip MAMAMOO’s comeback as I have
excessively covered the ladies on the blog. However, Blackpink’s comeback is
one I plan on reviewing along with Girls Next Door’s “Deep Blue Eyes”—even if
they are merely a “project group” for Idol
Drama Operation Team
. Additionally, there are two requests to cover as
well.)

On topic with this review, this
request is perhaps the most special one I have received: it is from Choeun
Entertainment directly. Thank you to Choeun Entertainment for that and I feel
very grateful for this request. And, to clarify, this review will remain
genuine: I am not being compensated in any form to write a favorable review or
to suddenly begin advertising for 24K’s songs or the idols themselves. After
all, the purpose of song reviews are about the intellectual side; I write
reviews for the discussions that come and as a way of allowing readers to have
even  more respect for music as an art.

Regarding 24K in a general sense, as
readers might be aware of, the group is rather unpopular. Even personally,
prior to this review I was completely unaware of them. The most saddening part,
however, is that their lack of popularity is far from how the men are lacking:
it simply is just that they are overshadowed by other, prominent artists. They
are not the only ones in such a situation: Nine Muses and Stellar are other
groups who relate—though, even then, they are more popular than 24K. Overall, I
have expressed on numerous occasions my take to this and it is that achieving
popularity in the K-Pop scene is incredibly difficult. There are, without any
doubts, artists who are musically incredible or fantastic dancers, but many
will probably never be known as a mainstream artist. If time permits, I might end
June with a Critical Discussion post on this very interesting topic of
popularity in K-Pop as it is far more complex than many would intuitively
assume. Ending on an optimistic note, however, for fans of 24K who might
stumble upon this review or for readers who are fans of unpopular groups,
popularity in of itself is not important. Financially it certainly does
matter—and arguably this is the most
important factor as it determines if an artist can actually continue—but
assuming finances are not an issue, then popularity is not a concern at all. In
fact, smaller fan sizes can lead to many benefits: a closer, more loyal
community, and a chance for there to be more interactions between fans and
idols. For 24K, as long as the group is financially stable and is treated well,
fans should not worry about popularity—and this mentality, of course, applies
to other groups who might be lacking popularity.

Onto the review itself, “Only You,”
from what I am aware of, is their latest song. While the song is far from being
the best and admittedly does render—in my argument—as somewhat generic, it
still possesses solid points. Specifically for what we will focus on in this
review, I want to home in on how well the song remains cohesive throughout its
run. Afterwards, though, I wish to discuss the problematic aspect of the song
following a rather generic structure.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 5/10
(5.00/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 3/10

5.     Bridge: 6/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 4/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 5/10

Yeah
Oh
Listen

I’m falling, I’m falling
When I’m holding you, girl
I don’t need anything else
Your warmth that fills me up is my everything
The heart fluttering feeling I got when I first saw you
It won’t change, stay with me, always remember
Forever ever, forever ever
I see you every day but you’re always pretty,
even when you’re mad

Take me away with your beautiful eyes
Trap me with your soft touch
Only look at me, no one else
I can’t live without you, it has to be you

It’s only you
It’s only you
I see you every day but my heart flutters
It’s only you, so beautiful
It’s only you
It’s only you

Hold me, it’s only you, only you
You’re my scent of the day, only you
I’m falling more with time
Allow me to get in deeper
Awaken me from inside
Always stay like that
I’m falling, I’m falling
When I’m holding you, girl
I don’t need anything else
When I’m with you, it’s like Heaven

Take me away with your beautiful eyes
Trap me with your soft touch
Only look at me, no one else
I can’t live without you, it has to be you

It’s only you
It’s only you
I see you every day but my heart flutters
It’s only you, so beautiful
It’s only you
It’s only you

I’m drunk with your sweetness
So dangerous, so dangerous
I can’t escape, you and me
Addicted, addicted, falling for you

It’s only you
It’s only you
I see you every day but my heart flutters
It’s only you, so beautiful
It’s only you, stay by my side just like now
It’s only you

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
To begin, the first aspect I wish to address with “Only You” is how cohesive
the song is. While the numerical ratings do not capture this as the ratings
focus more on the individual aspects, the song deserves credit for how well
each component links to the other. Already, one prime example is the vocals: if
we pay attention to the vocals in each section, we find that everything
ultimately relates. For example, the vocals at the verses begin typically with
a slower, calmer demeanor. However, with the pre-choruses, the vocals become
more gradually intense but even later during the vocal chants at the choruses,
the vocals remain at this heightened state as a simple way to show how each
section builds upon the prior. Even at the bridge this linking occurs: with the
bridge being placed between two choruses, the bridge does not adopt the
traditional form of being a dramatic pause in the song, but instead it
continues to be at a higher intensity in order to fit both its surrounding
choruses. Furthermore, the benefit here besides allowing listeners to easily
track the song’s progress is also that this allows the song to aurally vary:
each section gives its own style of vocals and instrumental.

That
said, we have to acknowledge the ratings: roughly, the song in its entirety
scores as merely average. I argue one of the most problematic features of the
song is simply how generic it is, but before continuing with this argument, we
first have to understand what I mean by “generic.” First of all, generic in of
itself is not bad; a song that sounds or is structured “generically” does not
mean it will automatically be bad at all. In fact, many pop songs are “generic”: this is why the pop genre
exists as its main foundation is that songs follow a predictable pattern—and
indeed, predictability is addictive and comforting to listen to. The issue,
then, is when said predictability is excessive and thus appeal is lost because
of such. With “Only You,” while the song follows a typical pop format—verse to
pre-chorus to chorus then a reset—the problem is that the composers appeared to
have overly relied on that very
format without adding even minute details that would create some distinctive
points. This is why the choruses have been graded the most harshly: they fail
to bring anything new structurally or sonically and as a result are completely
repetitive and come across almost as pure fillers—sections that are there for
the sake of that very section existing.

For
a better understanding, let us compare “Only You” to other pop songs to see
how, despite other pop songs following the typical pop formula, are still able
to have their own signature sounds or structures. One example is,
coincidentally, the recent comeback of Blackpink’s “As If It’s Your Last.” That
song’s composition aligns exactly with the generic format of pop songs, but it
does differ significantly with the choruses (which will be further discussed in
the respective review). Thus, Blackpink’s song may be sonically typical and
even structurally, but at the choruses the composers delivered an entirely new
take and even if a risk, it indeed was rewarding. Another example is TWICE’s “Knock
Knock” where, despite how incredibly “pop” that song is both aurally and
structurally, it manages to stand out via its unique composition strategy of
using contrast throughout the song. The choruses, for example, utilized catchy,
filler lines that contrasted to actual, vocally intensive lines. Returning to “Only
You,” this song does not have those distinctive marks that vary from the
typical pop song in either its sound—as “Knock Knock” does—nor does it deviate
with its structure—as “As If It’s Your Last” does. In fact, I find that EXO’s “Dancing
King” is another perfect example to compare “Only You” with as, on the surface,
“Dancing King” seems exactly like “Only You”: both are incredibly generic in
sound and format, and in fact both have a similar chorus with an instrumental
taking the forefront. And yet, I have greatly praised “Dancing King” in the past.
The difference, I argue, is that “Dancing King”—besides how the pre-choruses
are excellently composed and executed—still does have something to differentiate
itself: structurally, the choruses were not merely for a climactic peak. In “Dancing
King,” the choruses served as both a
climactic point but also as a form of resetting the song through slowing down
in pacing—and hence why the verses in that song were able to start off
energetically. In short, though, “Dancing King” even if sonically it sounded as
another pop song, was able to distinguish itself due to how the composers
handled the structural aspect of the choruses. Again, with “Only You,” it lacks
some deviation from the standard
formula. Should the song have either sounded more unique or if structurally it
functioned in a manner that was true to the pop genre but was not a “textbook
example,” the song could have rendered more favorably to me.

Overall,
it still needs to be clarified that 24K’s “Only You” is not a bad song at all
and I do not wish readers to interpret it as such. The song is average which is
not bad at all; the song is not “faulty” to the point of actually being a song
I would argue is deterring. Instead, the issue is that—and more so with 24K’s
situation of not being too popular—an average pop song easily blends in with
all of hundreds of thousands of pop songs out there. (Though that said, music
quality is only one factor out of many that help an artist gain popularity in
K-Pop; as said earlier, a future Critical Discussion will at least attempt to
make readers realize how many factors are at play.)

All
in all, while 24K’s latest song may not be stunning—in my argument, that is—they
still definitely deserve more attention and respect for their hard work. In the
future, I do hope 24K’s composers take a risk and create a song that remains in
the pop genre but is different so that there is a clear uniqueness to the song.
But, that is a high-risk and high-reward deal and certainly there should never
be a pressure to actually do such if other songs by 24K already fit the group’s
style. In the end, regardless of my own personal take to the song, I hope
readers and fans recall that the purpose of this review is not to bash the men
at all but is to merely begin a discussion. I hope fans and readers openly
disagree with me and each other in a respectful, thoughtful manner. For now, I
do look forward to 24K and the men certainly have my support for future
releases.

_______________________________________________________

Once
again, a huge thank you to Choeun Entertainment for requesting this review in
the first place. It is an honor. Likewise, thank you to fans and readers for
taking the time reading or skimming this review.

Regarding
the next review, IU’s “Palette”—despite more than a month’s delay—will finally
be reviewed. This is mostly due to the requester, a personal dear friend,
making me realize the blatant lies I have been saying with how the review will “soon
be reviewed.” Afterwards, we will then finish with Monsta X’s “Beautiful” as it
is another request and from there end June with either one last review or a
Critical Discussion post regarding popularity. Until then, “stay with me,
always remember / Forever ever, forever ever.” Interestingly this entirely
corny quote-lyrics-ending is something I have done ever since I started the
blog but is something I should perhaps change as it is becoming quite
embarrassing. But my entire being is an embarrassment. Jokes aside, look
forward to IU’s “Palette.”

Critical Discussion: “Whether Equal Line Distribution Matters for Groups or Not (ft. Sistar)”

“Whether
Equal Line Distribution Matters for Groups or Not (ft. Sistar)”

Posted on June 4, 2017

image

For
where I wish to take this Critical Discussion, I actually plan on challenging
the very notion that an equal line distribution is necessarily the best
distribution. I, on the other hand, actually argue that a line distribution is
most effective when it accommodates members—particularly
if we are to focus on vocal roles such as “main vocalist,” “lead vocalist,” and
“sub vocalist.”

Edit (June 6, 2017): Fixed many “mechanical” writing mistakes. This post had an absurdly high amount of typos and missing words. Apologies to readers who read this prior to this edit.

Personal
Message:
Before
starting this shorter post, I do wish to apologize to readers for not writing a
review in nearly three weeks despite being on summer break. To explain my absence,
it is not due to any unfortunate event at all; my short disappearance was
merely due to taking some time to truly relax and have fun for summer. With
having two to three weeks of not writing reviews or even subtitling videos for
that matter, I am now feeling refreshed and am definitely now desiring to cover
much content. There are many songs—both newer and older—that I plan to review,
and to make up for May having little content, I will aim to have nine posts for
June. That said, with soon having my wisdom teeth removed, this may or may not
be a realistic goal depending on my recovery time and if I am capable of
writing during that very time.

On topic, however, before getting
entirely back into reviews, I decided to instead cover a relatively brief yet
heated debate that oftentimes occurs in the K-Pop scene: line distributions for
groups. Specifically, as many readers might be familiar with, there is a
general take among fans that an equal line distribution should always exist for
groups. The lack thereof, then, is why mocking statements such as “Hyorin ft.
Sistar” or “Yuju ft. GFriend” are oftentimes heard—and indeed, I find that it is
best to discuss this very topic by using Sistar as an actual example. (And on
that note, I have much to discuss for their disbandment and even the legacy
they are leaving behind when I review their final song.) For where I wish to
take this Critical Discussion, I actually plan on challenging the very notion
that an equal line distribution is necessarily the best distribution. I, on the
other hand, actually argue that a line distribution is most effective when it accommodates members—particularly if we
are to focus on vocal roles such as “main vocalist,” “lead vocalist,” and “sub
vocalist.”

_______________________________________________________

Context:
Now, before getting right into my
perspective that challenges the current, main take to line distributions, first
we need to understand why many do hold onto the notion that an equal line
distribution is the best. Already, if readers are to look at the included
visual in this post, many should feel concerned: according to this source that
gauges time as a metric for line distribution, we can tell that in Sistar’s “I
Like That,” Hyorin is dominating a huge portion of the song. More than half of
the song consists of her singing, and that is definitely a reasonable concern
given that this means the rest of the members now hardly have time for their
own vocals to be heard. A group, after all, is meant to give spotlight to all of its members; thus, whenever one
member dominates a song even if on an aural level, it does appear problematic
and even unfair to the other members.

But, let us expand this argument
beyond merely emotional arguments that it is “unfair”; in other  words, let us critically examine on a musical level why having an unequal
distribution can be problematic. Readers who are familiar with this blog’s much
older reviews will know that I used to consider line distribution as its own
category worth grading akin to, for examples, the vocals and instrumental. The
rationale behind such is that, especially in larger groups, having an equal
line distribution allows a song to maintain a dynamic, active flow. Whether
from physically hearing new voices or how members’ lines are able to alternate from
each other in a fun, creative manner, there are some actual benefits at times
to having an equal distribution. However, indeed, I no longer gauge line
distribution as important for a song as, while it still is important, it is a far minor aspect to be concerned about. And
this is where we will now head for our discussion: my take on why an equal line
distribution is not necessarily the most beneficial.

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
Overall, I argue there are two main
aspects that are worth considering when disagreeing with the view that an equal
distribution matters: vocal roles of members and whether time is a reliable metric—and
no, with the latter I do not wish to connote philosophical discussions on what
time even is. Jokes aside, let us first focus on vocal roles and why these
roles—official or not—matters.

With vocal roles, as stated earlier
in this post, here I am referring to the three main types that many fans are
familiar with: main vocalist; lead vocalist; and sub vocalist. To very briefly explain
what each are if readers are unfamiliar, these are essentially based on “levels”
with the main vocalist being the most vocally capable in her/his group while the sub vocalist is the least vocally
capable in her/his group. (Emphasis is added there as it needs to be reminded
that these roles are always in the context of a group. After all, despite for
example MAMAMOO’s Hwasa being the rapper and lead vocalist of her group, her
vocal capabilities exceed a vast majority of “main vocalists” in other groups
despite how, in MAMAMOO, she is arguably only just a lead vocalist. The point
is, these vocal roles are based in the context of a group and this needs to be
understood.)

Returning to the topic of why vocal
roles matters in relation to line distributions, we have to understand that it
is natural for distribution differences to exist based on these very roles. For
example, in Sistar’s case, it makes sense for Hyorin to handle the main bulk of
a song as she is vocally the most capable in her group—and even generally
speaking as she is a fantastic singer and even rapper. On the other hand, though
Dasom is still a solid singer, she is less adept than Hyorin. Thus, not only
would it potentially be out of her own comfort to handle a huge portion of the
song—and more so if considering vocally strenuous parts—but it might also begin
to hamper the song’s own audio appeal if Dasom delivers her parts less
effectively than if another member were to. As a result, it is understandable
on why in “I Like That” Hyorin would have a very high proportion of the song:
it is where the other members are comfortable with their vocal abilities, and
it allows the song to remain at its most appealing aural state given that
Hyorin is handling and delivering lines that require higher vocal levels.

Now of course, critical readers can
already easily disagree with this point: What about other songs where members do have equal line distributions but
said distributions themselves are based on the vocal roles? The best example in
mind is actually EXID’s “Up & Down”: in this song, if correct, the time length (distribution) per member is
actually roughly equal or at least at a reasonable share, but where there are
differences are merely in what the members sing. For example, Solji’s parts
involve more difficult, skilled singing but the time length is still
equal to Hani’s parts—even if Hani’s parts are less vocally intensive. As such,
readers and fans might argue this perspective that vocal roles should not
dictate the time length of
distributions but merely the vocal level
needed.

For my rebuttal, I admit: I do not
necessarily have one at all and in fact find this line of argument the most
convincing counter point to my argument. Theoretically, if this is always
possible for song, then indeed this is
the most practical, balanced solution: all members get an equal time length for
their lines, but vocal roles are still accounted for and utilized. That said,
the only disagreement here is not so much on the idea itself as it truly is one
of the better ideas, but admittedly we have to bear in mind that this is difficult to genuinely execute. When songs are composed and are then discussed
on how to be arranged per member’s lines, it is not always possible that both an equal distribution exists that
also accommodates for a member’s own vocal capabilities. Once again to use
Sistar’s “I Like That,” there are many points in the song where it simply is
most effective if Hyorin were to sing, even if this leads to her dominating a
large portion of the song. In other cases such as EXID’s “Up & Down,” it is far easier
to have roughly equal times all while fitting members’ abilities due to how the
song itself is structured. In summary, this counter argument to one of my
points is definitely reasonable and a solid one. The issue, though, is whether
this counter point is able to be consistently and realistically implemented in
many songs, and unfortunately I do remain pessimistic. If done, however, it
indeed is a perfect solution to the entire debate regarding line distribution.

But, even in the case that we can always
pair equal line distributions with vocal roles, I still find that there is actually a
problem: the assumption that time is the best metric for gauging line
distributions in the first place. Using “I Like That” as our main example, if
we look at the chart that is included in the post, we find that Bora has an erroneously
low share of the song. But, is that the case? Based on the metric of time and
even based on the metric of “section quantity” (how many sections a member is
involved in) that is true, but I argue these are not reliable forms of
measurements at all. The reason I bring these “units of measurements” into
question is that despite Bora having mostly a singular rapping section in “I
Like That,” I argue it is one of the most impacting and lasting sections in the
entire song due to what the rap brings to the song overall. Additionally, what
do we do with other songs where the rap sections are utterly fast despite the rapping
member potentially covering more words than all of the other members combined? Thus,
do we now count words as the metric
for line distributions or do we account for the “impact”—of which is already subjective
and impossible to quantify.

If this has confused readers in the
sense of realizing that there are too many variables on why line distribution
in of itself if a difficult aspect to track, then I have done my argument: it
is simply unrealistic and almost unreliable to be able to measure line
distributions and thus, the argument for having an “equal” distribution is
already at risk if one can never measure distributions in the first place.

_______________________________________________________

Conclusion:
So, what are we to make of this? Are
readers and fans to not care for line distributions at all, find a new
measurement for counting line distributions, or remain in debate forever?
Obviously the third option. But on a more serious note, this is ultimately what
readers need to take away: the answer is not one of the listed options but instead a combined, balanced view.

In the end, while we do run into
technical problems with accounting for line distributions, it is extreme to say
either line distributions do not matter at all or that it is the most important
aspect for groups. For example, with Sistar’s “I Like That,” I find that while
Hyorin should have had a larger portion than the other members, I find it more
disturbing that Soyou—the lead vocalist—had far less time involved when she is
a very capable vocalist as well. That said with Bora’s minimal amount, I find
that we have to be critical of the claimed 6.5% as her parts involved rapping—a
peculiar section that is not best measured in time length. All in all, then,
line distribution is worthy of critique to a certain extent, but when fans
examine such without being critical—such as without realizing that raps cannot
be reliably gauged in seconds or ignoring that some inequality is fine due to vocal roles—that is when this debate
truly becomes problematic. Yes, an equal line distribution is desirable, but
equally we need to realize why some disparity is natural and even beneficial
and that ultimately, gauging line distribution is already a complex task due to
many variables in place.

_______________________________________________________

Thank you to readers for reading
this whether in full or short, and thank you to readers for being quite patient
with reviews. More content will definitely be coming for June—unless, as said,
my recovery time with wisdom teeth removal ends up being miserable. But
assuming all is well, I plan to finish June with eight more posts whether
reviews or more Critical Discussion posts.

For the next post, IU’s “Palette”
will finally be reviewed—a review that was requested by a friend who, at this
point, joking teased that merely putting up the numerical ratings would suffice
by now. But of course, an actual review will take place. (And I am working on
being more concise with my writing, so readers can expect more reviews to come
out in the future.)

TWICE – “Only You” Review

(Audio—unofficial upload)

TWICE – Only You

Reviewed
on May 17, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 8/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 7/10

6.     Rap: 7/10

7.     Bridge (Chorus): 7/10

8.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 7/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

VARSITY – “U R My Only One” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Dance
Practice)

VARSITY – U R My Only One

Reviewed
on May 11, 2017

Admittedly,
while for a debut song “URMOO” is definitely impressive especially as—unsurprisingly—debut
songs tend to be artists’ weaker songs given that artists are still
significantly learning and improving (and are not prepared to perhaps handle
more complex song compositions), “URMOO” in a general sense is rather average. Certainly
the song has its strength in terms of the men’s vocals and also in how the
composition cleverly handles the song’s flow and intensity, but ultimately the
sonic aspect to the song is far too basic. That shortcoming is what greatly
limits the potential to “URMOO.”

Personal Message:
As stated in the prior
post
—one that focused on musical technicalities via challenging assumptions
about “MR Removed” videos—I am now on summer break. This means I will have
plenty of free time to catch up on reviews and particularly for this summer, I
truly wish to hone my writing skills in the sense of writing more efficiently.
(And for a fun side note, I am also honing my driving skills and hope to
acquire my license soon.) After all, some readers might have noticed that overtime,
reviews on this blog are slowly becoming shorter in length while, I hope, still
maintaining worthwhile content. One my writing weaknesses is that I simply
write unnecessary, excess details and thus, I will spend this summer break
attempting to ultimately bring reviews down to perhaps three or so paragraphs
on average. Of course as said, the content within the reviews will not change;
rather, I will now be directly
getting my points across without relying on massive paragraphs to do such. And,
if this works out, this will also mean readers can expect consistent reviews.

On topic with this review, however, first
I would like to thank the requester for sending this song in. The requester did
give an option of choosing VARISTY’s “U R My Only One” or “Hole in One,” and
indeed I have opted to review their debut song (“U R My Only One”) as I find it
would bring a more interesting discussion than their recent comeback. Nonetheless,
thank you to the requester for sending this in. As always, requests are very
helpful as it allows me to review songs that readers want, and it allows me to
stay updated on which releases are currently trending and that people are
curious about in a critical sense.

Now, before getting right into VARSITY’s
debut song, there are two clarifications I need to make. One is, from here on
and forward, I will refer to the song as “URMOO”; typing out the usual title is
proving to be more laborious than necessary and hence this abbreviated form.
Thus, I hope readers do not become confused and assume I am somehow talking
about cows. Horrible joke aside, for the more serious clarification, there
appears to be—from my perception—an audio fault with this song. By “audio fault”
I refer not to the composition of the song—in other words, how the song was
created via intentional sounds,
sections, layout, and so on. Instead, I am referring to how the audio that
appears in the music video (and in other sources on YouTube) seem to be of a
poorer quality than usual. This was the case with Girls’ Generation’s Seohyun’s
“Don’t Say No,” and I do wonder if the same case applies to “URMOO.” Specifically
for what is wrong, the song sounds “pushed down”; a simple example is that the
song sounds akin to what one hears if they were under water. In other words,
the audio seems muddled versus of the usual crispness that one would expect in
a song. (In technical terms, if I am correct, I think there is too much reverb.)
For why this matters and why I even bring this up, I will assume this sound
effect is unintentional. Should it actually be intended then readers should
know that I personally view it as detrimental. Of course, however, since I am
making a bold accusation, I will assume the song is “innocent” and thus will
not be using this aspect as a point of critique.

All that covered, let us finally
discuss “URMOO.” Admittedly, while for a debut song “URMOO” is definitely
impressive especially as—unsurprisingly—debut songs tend to be artists’ weaker
songs given that artists are still significantly learning and improving (and
are not prepared to perhaps handle more complex song compositions), “URMOO” in
a general sense is rather average. Certainly the song has its strength in terms
of the men’s vocals and also in how the composition cleverly handles the song’s
flow and intensity, but ultimately the sonic aspect to the song is far too
basic. That shortcoming is what greatly limits the potential to “URMOO.”

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 4/10

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 5/10

6.     Rap: 5/10

7.     Bridge: 5/10

8.     Conclusion: 5/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 5/10

[Introduction instrumental]

Never again
I said that it’s really over
Try again
You got me, you got me
(Please)
Cut by a blade
My heart will not heal
I’m not fine
I’m trying, the more I do,
I cry

If only I can turn back time
I wouldn’t lose you,
who was too good for me
I don’t think I can go on without you
Come back to me

You’re my only one
You’re my only one
You’re my lover
But time is over
You’re my only one
You’re my only one
I need you, baby
I want you, lady
(Woo) I didn’t know the answer
(Woo) Just, you’re my only one
(Woo) I realized my answer
(Woo) Just, you’re my only one

[Post-Chorus instrumental]

Yesterday, I told you to go
Today, come back to me
My broken heart needs you
Tell me the way to find you
When you’re not next to me
(Hold up)
Everything stops
I don’t need anything but you
Besides you, nothing’s better

If I can turn back your heart
I could give you all my love that I couldn’t before
I don’t think I can go on without you
Come back to me

You’re my only one
You’re my only one
You’re my lover
But time is over
You’re my only one
You’re my only one
I need you, baby
I want you, lady
(Woo) I didn’t know the answer
(Woo) Just, you’re my only one
(Woo) I realized my answer
(Woo) Just, you’re my only one

You always learn love after saying goodbye
I can’t erase you
You remain in my head
I’m looking for you, I can’t take it anymore
(Driving me crazy)

You’re my only one
You’re my only one
You’re my lover
But time is over
You’re my only one
You’re my only one
I need you, baby
I want you, lady
(Woo) I didn’t know the answer
(Woo) Just, you’re my only one
(Woo) I realized my answer
(Woo) Just, you’re my only one

[Conclusion instrumental]

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: One
of the main weaknesses to “URMOO” is simply how the aural aspect to it is far
from enticing. Now that said, it should be clarified that the song’s overall
sound suffices; it is not an unappealing
sound. The issue, though, is the opposite holds true as well: neither does the
song have an appealing sound. It
hovers in the middle—and hence the common five ratings littered throughout the
review.

For
an actual example to focus on, the instrumental provides insight on the song’s
overly basic sounds. With “URMOO” adopting a predominantly electronic-based instrumental,
one of the issues at hand already is how the song will prevent itself from
sounding mundane especially as electronic sounds ultimately all still sound
similar to each other. There are various solutions to this, and “URMOO”
definitely does have some—namely its usage of traditional instrumental sounds
(such as a piano) and “distorting” the electronic instrumental. Unfortunately,
I argue these strategies are still insufficient. For example, the composers’
usage of the two, differing sound styles—electronic versus “traditional”—are not
emphasized enough to truly leave listeners with a sense of variety. We find
this by how these two types of instrumental sounds are used less for their
actual sonic values and more for their structural values: the traditional
sounds reside during calmer sections while the electronic instrumental occurs
during the more intensive parts. Thus, the effect we get out of these two
instrumental types being contrasted is less on creating an aural effect and
simply more for listeners to be able to identify the song’s flow and intensity.

Nonetheless,
I argue this is quite problematic as the song does end up running through its
stagnant points: the electronic sounds do become dull no matter how distorted
and exciting it can get, and equally the traditional sounds follow suit.
Furthermore, if we also account VARSITY’s vocals, we also find that the
composers seem to separate this aspect as well. VARSITY’s singing is heavy on
precise tunes with the bonuses of slower moments or rapping, and though the
vocals are definitely the song’s best aural point, in the entirety of the song
we find that all these three sounds—vocals, electronic, and traditional
instrumental—do not work together. Instead, each aspect is used in their own
situation—and this we can literally hear by how the electronic-based choruses
only have “fillers” (lines of humming “woo”). Overall, if the composers at
least made it so that each distinctive sound group—vocals, electronic, and
traditional instrumental—was able to hold on its own, this composition idea
would have worked out. However, given that each one seems to rely on the other despite
clear divisions in place—such as the post-chorus having its solo electronic instrumental—it
leads “URMOO” sounding somewhat disorganized in an aural sense. That said, the
sounds in the song are not bad per se; if anything, it is the messier setup
that is the true problem as, if all three sounds were able to directly complement
each other, the song would sound
great. But, as is, “URMOO” sounds far too plain especially when all of the “sound
types” end up working on their own instead of one cohesive unit.

Regarding
where “URMOO” shines, even if the song in an aural sense is a bit stale, one
unique aspect is how the composers handle the song’s flow. Ironically, though,
the way the composers handled the song’s flow is by not handling it at all—in a somewhat figurative sense, of course,
as the composers seem to have very much intended this. Specifically for what I
am referring to, I wish for readers to notice how the song’s intensity plays
out. “URMOO” follows the usual pop music binary format in the sense of how
there is a buildup that is met with a climax, but what is quite interesting is
how the intensity naturally fades out rather than direct action taking place to
control that very fading. For example, the post-chorus best highlights this.
This section is placed right after the chorus—the typical climaxing point of
pop songs, and indeed this is the case for “URMOO.” The effects from the
post-chorus, though, is that it allows “URMOO” to relax its heightened, upbeat
state in a manner that perfectly suits with the song’s sonic component—in other
words, a chance for an electronic solo. Likewise, even on the side of hyping up
the song, we find some subtle strategies implemented. The rap is another solid
example: this moment follows right after the post-chorus, and given that the
rapping followed a quicker and strong pacing, it easily allowed “URMOO” to flow
right back into the pre-chorus—a section that begins hastening the song. And
so, even if the song’s sounds lack chemistry, we have to acknowledge that on a
structural level the song is definitely linked. Each section manages to flow to
the next fluently, and with the rapping and post-chorus, I argue their roles
were well developed and are rather effective in action.

All
in all, “URMOO” is a song that has potential. Structurally, the composers created
a very cohesive song. Unfortunately, though, when it comes to the actual sounds
used, besides already using a rather typical concept of being heavily electronic-based,
the composers come short with making all of the sounds work with one another.
As it stands, the song lacks variety in terms of its physical sounds
particularly because each distinctive sound—be it the electronic-based
instrumental or traditional instrumental or even vocals—is used merely to
indicate where the song is in a
structural sense. If the composers were able to make the electronic sounds work
directly with the vocals or at the very least so that the electronic sounds in
of themselves had more of a value besides indicating that a listener is at the
choruses, perhaps “URMOO” would be much stronger.

Overall,
VARSITY’s debut song holds as average. While fans might be disappointed as they
expected this song to be much stronger, we have to bear in mind this is their debut song. In my personal experience
and opinion, many—many—debut songs
are weaker than usual and are never a fair gauge to a group’s music qualities. This
is expected as idols are still developing their vocal skills; companies are
still experimenting with appropriate song concepts; and ultimately that more
complex song compositions—the “better” songs—are saved until artists are ready
for them. For some examples off the top of my head, here are a few debut songs
that I would review as “weaker”: MAMAMOO’s “Mr. Ambiguous”; GFriend’s “Glass
Bead”; TWICE’s “Like Ooh-Ahh”; Infinite’s “Come Back Again”; Red Velvet’s “Happiness”;
and so on. For why I am specifically mentioning these artists, despite me
supposedly calling their debut songs weaker, a majority of readers will easily
recognize that these groups are definitely now at the top and do have many solid songs. The point is
this: debut songs tend to be already weaker songs and thus, I hope fans realize
that VARSITY’s debut song being held as average is already very impressive, and
furthermore that improvement will
come. VARSITY can only improve from here and onwards, and while I am not
reviewing their latest comeback of “Hole in One” to see if any significant
improvements have occurred yet, I hope fans do not feel “discouraged” by this
review’s rating should that be the case.

_______________________________________________________

I
personally find this to be one of my weaker reviews yet. That said, it perhaps
is more concise than usual reviews as I focused not on analyzing each section
in fine details, but instead focused more on the main points I wanted to make
about the song. To the requester, I hope this review provides new insights to
the song and that the review encourages all readers to be critical of it. Once again,
thank you for sending in this request.

As
for future reviews, I definitely plan to review LABOUM’s “Hwi Hwi” and perhaps
even IU as a friend did suggest I give her latest song a review. There are
definitely a lot more artists to cover besides these, of course, but the list
will begin here and more so as I have yet to review these artists. Look forward
to most likely “Hwi Hwi” as the next review. Until next time, “You’re my only
one”—which makes absolutely no sense except depicting me as an overly clingy
and desperate reviewer. Then again, that is partially true. Jokes aside, look
forward to “Hwi Hwi” and many more reviews to follow especially as I am on
summer break.