Infinite – “Tell Me” Review

(Music Video)

Infinite – Tell Me

Reviewed on January 16, 2018

Specifically for what amazes me, it is not just—as many fans are currently praising—the vocals or even how the song itself is structured. What grabs my attention is how the composers purposefully crafted “Tell Me” so that its flow is that of short, choppy bits. Whether vocally or instrumentally, by slicing up the song in brief pauses, this gives the song an impactful effect: “Tell Me” is now able to adopt two contrasting positions. One position is that the song is able to give off a calmer, smooth flow but equally, the song is also able to possess an exciting, energetic and powerful style—all simultaneously as well.

Continue reading “Infinite – “Tell Me” Review”

Sunmi – “Gashina” Review

(Music Video)

Sunmi – Gashina/Leaving

Reviewed on December 31, 2017

With “Gashina,” although it is not a weak song per se, I hesitate to praise it as a
stronger song. Overall, while the song certainly excels with its performance
value (such as with its choreography and on-stage appeal) and does have a
powerful, alluring instrumental, I find that—especially if focusing purely on
the music—there are two significant concerns: disappointing climaxes and excessively segmenting the song.

Continue reading “Sunmi – “Gashina” Review”

Jonghyun – “Lonely” Review

(Music Video)

Jonghyun (SHINee) – Lonely (ft. Taeyeon)

Reviewed on December 19, 2017

image

For this review, while I will be giving numerical values as per usual, I will not
write the analytical section that elaborates and explains the assigned ratings.
This is, in my view, to respect one of Jonghyun’s musical works in of itself: I
wish to focus less on a critical breakdown of “Lonely” and instead, I desire
readers to simply listen to the song and admire his vocals (and Taeyeon’s) and
his role in also working on the song’s composition. There are, after all, times
where music works—ironically—not in a musical sense, but in an emotional sense. The latter is what I want everyone to focus on for this review.

Continue reading “Jonghyun – “Lonely” Review”

VIXX LR – “Whisper” Review

(Music Video) / (Dance Practice)

VIXX LR – Whisper

Reviewed on October 28, 2017

So, unlike the many fans and listeners who praise VIXX LR’s latest song, I argue the opposite: that, if we move beyond stylistic preferences, we will find that “Whisper” is an incredibly incoherent song. That lack of organization is why I struggle to critically enjoy the song—even if, as many have said, the vocals and the like are rather appealing.

Continue reading “VIXX LR – “Whisper” Review”

GFriend – “Love Whisper” Review

(Music Video) / (Dance Practice)

GFriend – Love Whisper

Reviewed on September 23, 2017

While I do agree with many that this song is worth praising, I still find that there are some questionable aspects. Specifically, while many are praising the choruses in “Love Whisper,” I will challenge that point by arguing that, as beneficial as the choruses are, there are some downsides to them that fans have not necessarily discussed.  

Continue reading “GFriend – “Love Whisper” Review”

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.