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.”

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.

PRISTIN – “Wee Woo” Review

(Music Video—Dance Version)

PRISTIN – Wee Woo

Reviewed
on April 29, 2017

image

Regarding how the review will go,
despite how many fans might appreciate “Wee Woo” as being catchy and unique or
that it merely needs extra playbacks to be deemed good as many fans have
claimed, I disagree that the song is satisfying or even unique. Harshly said, I
find that “Wee Woo” is a highly generic pop song if we focus on certain
strategies the composers have employed, and furthermore, while the song’s
generic, bubbly musical concept appears as unique we still ultimately have to
realize it is just that: generic.

Personal Message:
It is currently “dead week” for my
university—a term that refers not to the fact that professors are no longer
assigning work due to the week before finals, but rather to the fact that
students are mentally dead. Morbid humor aside, I do want to clarify to readers
that I am indeed alive—although finals are actually happening right on May 1.
This semester has been quite busy and thus, reviews for April were essentially
nonexistent. In fact if correct, April saw only one review—if excluding the April’s Fool prank: EXO’s “Call Me Baby.”
For this summer break, while I will be finally learning how to drive and taking
up a few non-official jobs, I expect it to be quite free and thus I will spend
a lot of time catching up on reviews. Furthermore, I feel inspired to finally
begin learning how to write much more concisely and effectively. As a result,
readers might be seeing a review every other day during summer, and even once
the next semester comes around—one that will be the most challenging and busy—I
would at least be able to review a song every four days versus the current
school schedule of a review per week or two weeks.

And so, let us already begin
focusing on PRISTIN and less on technical updates. As readers might have
noticed, the prior post did involve PRISTIN: I wrote a Critical Discussion post
regarding an incident the ladies and their staff had with a rather questionable
“fan.” Readers who are curious should refer to the post itself as I will no
longer comment on it directly. But indeed, the topic regarding genuinely
obsessed fans is one that should be addressed and cared about and thus, I hope
readers spend some time either reading the post or at least pondering over it.

On topic with PRISTIN, however, in a
musical sense, I have planned to review “Wee Woo” at least three days after it
was released. Quite clearly, three days somehow became two months or so. However,
even if “Wee Woo” is no longer trending in the sense of being a recent
comeback, I find that the song’s composition is fascinating and is perhaps one
that entails not just a discussion on the song in of itself, but also a
discussion on debut songs in general.
For what I mean, especially if we bear in mind PRISTIN’s first album and those
other songs that have been composed and executed, “Wee Woo” is—in my opinion—a
far inferior song than many of the other songs within the ladies’ first album. “Wee
Woo,” then, is what I personally term a “high-risk; high-reward” song—and in
the context of how this is PRISTIN’s debut song, it actually makes sense on why
a potentially weaker song would be used over much stronger songs that exist in
their album.

Regarding how the review will go,
despite how many fans might appreciate “Wee Woo” as being catchy and unique or
that it merely needs extra playbacks to be deemed good as many fans have
claimed, I disagree that the song is satisfying or even unique. Harshly said, I
find that “Wee Woo” is a highly generic pop song if we focus on certain
strategies the composers have employed, and furthermore, while the song’s
generic, bubbly musical concept appears as unique we still ultimately have to
realize it is just that: generic.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 3/10
(3.00/10 raw score) – “Below average”


Vocals: 3/10


Sections: 4/10
(3.86/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 3/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 3/10

4.     Chorus: 3/10

5.     Rap: 5/10

6.     Bridge: 2/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 3/10


Lyrics: 2/10

Wee woo, wee woo, wee
We are Pristin
(Hello)

I’m princess of our house
I like adventures
I want blow the balloon that is you
Pop
When it pops,
what will be there?

There are boys who like me lined up
Oh why, why?
But why aren’t you in that line?
Oh why, why?
Dazzling, my heart is crumbling
You’re my super, super hero
Dazzling, my heart is crumbling
You’re my super hero
Ring ring, hello?
Can you send an ambulance here?
When our eyes meet, I get dizzy

I like you, I like you, boo boo
My heart is pounding
I like you a lot, boo boo
When I look at you, my heart goes
Wee woo, wee woo, wee
Wee woo, wee woo, wee
It’s dangerous
Wee woo, wee woo, wee

I’m waiting, I go crazy when I see you
My heart is going at 100km
I made up my mind, I want you
Right now, stay right where you are

There are boys who like me lined up
Oh why, why?
But why aren’t you in that line?
Oh why, why?
Dazzling, my heart is crumbling
You’re my super, super hero
Dazzling, my heart is crumbling
You’re my super hero
Ring ring, hello?
Can you send an ambulance here?
When our eyes meet, I get dizzy

I like you, I like you, boo boo
My heart is pounding
I like you a lot, boo boo
When I look at you, my heart goes
Wee woo, wee woo, wee
Wee woo, wee woo, wee
It’s dangerous
Wee woo, wee woo, wee

I’m rubbing the lamp baby
Casting a spell so I can have you
Sun, moon, stars, I’m asking them all
to cast a spell
Did the spell work?
Let’s check

I like you, I like you, boo boo
My heart is pounding
I like you a lot, boo boo
When I look at you, my heart
(spills out)
Wee woo, wee woo, wee
It’s dangerous
Wee woo, wee woo, wee
Wee woo, wee woo, wee

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Sometimes
I do wonder if my current university-related stress is making me overly critical. But, I hope with my
reasons and arguments, readers can see where my position comes from and of
course, I definitely encourage readers to openly disagree with my reviews as
the very purpose of them is that: to start discussions. With the review, as we
can tell, the song scores disturbingly low: a three for below average. This has
definitely not occurred in quite some time, but unfortunately “below average”
serves as the appropriate term I would use to describe “Wee Woo.”

Already,
one significant problem to “Wee Woo” is how the vocals are executed. The
choruses provide the best example: much of the vocals follow an overly
strained, higher pitched sound and at the choruses themselves, auto-tune has
been used in the production stage to create a robotic sound. Now before further
expanding that point, a clarification is needed: contrary to the belief that
auto-tune is automatically used to “fix” singing, auto-tune in a majority of
situations is purposefully used for merely its sound effects. After all,
auto-tune rarely “fixes” singing and—as in “Wee Woo” ‘s case—it arguably does
the opposite with breaking singing.
Thus, it is the effect the composers are seeking out and indeed, PRISTIN are
all very capable vocalists as seen in other album songs. But on topic for why
this matters, the auto-tune used here and equally the overly strained, high
pitched singing are detrimental to the song in whole. All of this creates an
excessively mundane sound in the song as there are minimal deviations in the
physical sound itself: everything—barring perhaps moments at the
pre-choruses—is sung in this strained, robotic-like sound. That is definitely
not beneficial if the song itself does not manipulate that for other purposes.

To
compare “Wee Woo” to a song that does arguably use auto-tune to a beneficial
effect, T-ARA’s “Sugar Free” is the song that comes to mind. In “Sugar Free,” the
auto-tune part is to build upon the instrumental’s already robotic sounds, and
additionally, the important feature in “Sugar Free” is that the auto-tuned
singing is used to contrast to standard, highly tuneful vocal beltings that
occur at the choruses. In “Wee Woo,” though, we do not see any of those
strategies implement; rather, we merely hear auto-tune for its individual sonic
appeal—and sadly, that is an unwise decision in my view as auto-tune is best
used on a structural and strategic sense rather than an appealing sound. But
before “Wee Woo” ‘s auto-tune is completely disregarded as useless, I do admit
it has its strength in the song’s structure: the auto-tune singing and the
overly strained singing create a distinctive, highlight point in the choruses
and that serves as an easily identifiable climax to the song. However, this is
a marginal benefit as the downside to this idea—the loss of vocal appeal and
even overall sonic appeal in general—is far more significant.

As
for other problems we encounter, I find that many of the song’s sections are
questionable composed—even if, indeed, there are some brilliant thinking in
mind. Let us examine the pre-chorus for an example. One interesting aspect to
this section is how it essentially builds upon itself; in other words, the
pre-choruses almost have a pre-chorus within themselves. We notice this by how
the pre-chorus initiates with an upbeat, tuneful style but later transitions to
a dramatic, slower style. That, though, is then used as a foundation for the transition
point to send “Wee Woo” to its choruses. Quite obviously, on a superficial
level, this is very creative composing—and indeed, it is and I do not wish
to deny this. The composers do deserve credit for this creative and new
take to pre-choruses. What is not foreseen, however, is how the pre-choruses
ironically undermine themselves. On a general layer, the pre-chorus builds up
the song but when the “second” or “inner” pre-chorus arrives, it ends up taking
away that generated hype and instead starts the whole process right from where it began. This, though, does not create more
hype in the long run. It is a method that is rather inefficient, if anything. If the song took
the pre-choruses’ inner pause but then made such pause work in a manner so that when hype was built up again that the build up would then be perceived as even more intense, then this pre-chorus
form would be quite beneficial. But in this case, it literally undermines its
own work as any generated hype is simply removed.

Furthermore,
this is also problematic when we consider how the instrumental is quite absent
and plays a very passive role. Now, certainly it is typical for instrumental
sounds to take a silent stance during pre-choruses as the return of said
instrumental sounds can serve as a form of building hype and then reaching a
climax, but in “Wee Woo,” the choruses return with a stereotypical, bouncy pop
instrumental. In other words, the instrumental’s disappearance was not in hopes
of creating hype as, if that was the case, the choruses would have had a much more impactful and exciting
instrumental rather than the current instrumental that is plain. Thus, the expected trade of not having an active instrumental during the
pre-choruses for a stronger chorus did not occur; instead, there is merely a
loss of, in this case, having a stale pre-chorus for the sheer sake of it. (And
of course to clarify, this is not to say all pre-choruses must have an active instrumental at play. Each review focuses on a
song’s individual context, and in our case, “Wee Woo” ‘s main weakness of
having minimal variety is why this structure to the pre-choruses is troubling.)

Finally,
for another section worthy of mentioning—in a negative manner, that is—it would
be the bridge. This section lacks in all areas: both sonically and
structurally. On an aural level, the singing follows, as established throughout the song, a robotic
and lifeless singing style. Structurally, the bridge’s dramatic pause fails to suit
in with the rest of “Wee Woo,” and this sudden change was not gradually hinted
throughout the song and thus, the bridge’s form is even more unsuitable to the
song in whole.

And
so, fans might be wondering if there are any possible strengths at all to “Wee
Woo.” My answer: of course there are—every
song has its strengths and weaknesses, after all. One strong point to “Wee Woo”
is the rapping. Even if it is not the best per se, it is definitely a highlight
of the song and is fluently transitioned to. Additionally, though, despite “Wee
Woo” seemingly being a weaker song, we can argue that it ultimately still
succeeds in a commercial sense—and this is what I hinted at earlier in this
review regarding a discussion on “high-risk; high-reward.” With that cliché
phrase, I hoped to capture the idea that “Wee Woo” is somewhat poorly composed
not due to composers lacking the skills and knowledge or that PRISTIN are weak
singers; instead, this was done to manipulate the attention PRISTIN would
receive. Where the risk comes in is that, should this plan work—and I argue, it
actually does—then it would be a huge success as PRISTIN would get more attention. On the other hand, should it
fail, PRISTIN is left with minimally gained popularity and are rendered as a
musically weak group.

To
explain why the manipulation was a success and even what this “manipulation” is, for a debut song, we have to
understand that the main goal is truthfully not musically orientated at all;
rather, the truth is that debut songs are intended to garner as much attention
as possible. Now of course, there are two main ways to approach such: through
raw musical appeal or through merely getting attention such as through
conceptual ideas of a comeback (examples being “cute,” “sexy,” “powerful,”
“cool,” and the like). Pledis Entertainment chose the latter method with “Wee Woo”:
getting attention not through music, but through sheer attention itself. This
explains why the song is incredibly catchy and even excessively pop-like as all of these, even if musically unenticing,
will gather attention—both good and bad. And if we follow this speculation, it
also might explain why the rest of the album possesses the seemingly more
complex and better composed songs: “Wee Woo” is the comeback to get attention;
the rest of the album songs are for actual musical appeal.

Coming
to the end of this review, what are fans to make of “Wee Woo,” then, and its
relation to PRISTIN’s musical skills? Given that “Wee Woo” has led PRISTIN to
gaining more popularity (and with how two members are former members of I.O.I),
I do encourage fans to interpret “Wee Woo” less as a genuine musical piece and
unfortunately more as a financial tool—even if this, indeed, is quite
pessimistic and personally goes against what I consider music to stand for. More
pessimistic individuals might claim that all
pop music is composed with the intent of purely making profit, but I find that
while money is of course in mind and necessary with creating music, it should
never be the first priority. With “Wee Woo,” I critically believe that its
intent was in fact to make money and gather attention, but at least the rest of
the album songs appear to be composed with actual music appeal in mind.

All
in all, while “Wee Woo” is by far one of the weaker songs I have heard in
general, given that it has served its financial role, I hope future releases
focus less on gaining attention and more on producing excellent songs—of which
would, in turn, gain more fans for PRISTIN. Thus, fans should continue
supporting the ladies regardless of their comeback song’s quality, and that
those who are interested but repelled by “Wee Woo” ‘s weaker composition
continue to stay interested as future releases will most likely be
improvements.

_______________________________________________________

As
always, thank you to all for reading whether in full or skim. I miraculously
did manage to write this review in only one and a half hours—a record, perhaps.
But, given that all the analytical work was done even weeks prior, this is not
too surprising. Once summer break begins, readers can look forward to many
reviews returning. May currently has many new artists lined up to be reviewed,
after all. Until then, I will be finishing a ten-page essay (which is not too
bad given I have already outlined the essay) and asking readers: “Can you send
an ambulance here?”

EXO – “Call Me Baby” Review

(Music Video)

EXO – Call Me Baby

Reviewed
on April 15, 2017

Nevertheless,
despite how creative and effective the instrumental is to the song and even
despite the song’s massive popularity during its promoted era, I argue the song
in its entirety is not as strong as people perceive it to be. In particularly, while
the song efficiently and effectively establishes a rhythmic, smooth and
coherent style towards the beginning, near the end of the song completely contradicts
itself but not in an augmenting
manner.

Personal Message:
For a fun fact: as of this sentence,
I have spent six hours in the library at my university catching up on work, and
miraculously, I am now relatively caught up with everything I was behind on.
The best part? No caffeine involved. For readers who are students—whether at the
university or high school level (or perhaps even younger; again, I welcome all
readers)—a tip I have is that working in a “productive environment” truly makes
a huge difference. Personally, working in the library makes it so that I am not
suddenly procrastinating via watching a marathon of Fiestar and TWICE videos—of
which is why I sometimes am drastically behind work. But that aside, before
getting into today’s review and updates, I do hope that readers enjoyed the
horrendous April Fool’s joke I wrote. Admittedly compared to previous years
where I was able to convince readers an artist made a comeback when they did
not, this year’s prank is much more disappointing. Nonetheless, given that the
prank was actually me addressing in a subtle manner my current thoughts on the
state of the blog, it is at least a productive prank—and indeed, saying
“productive prank” is relatively rare.

On topic, huge apologies to the
requester for the delay—a delay that is as long as a month. This is completely
shameful on my end and I sincerely apologize for the review taking this long. With
my university semester soon ending, the workload has become quite large. Furthermore,
coupling that with time I spent preparing informal lessons (as my “cooperating
teacher”—the teacher I am working with—is such a wonderful person and allows me
to have the chances to practice teaching) and we find that my time is quite
limited. When my summer break comes around, however, I intend to make a very
strong return with reviewing very frequently given that I have no summer
classes and desire to begin “stockpiling” reviews as my next semester will by
far be the most difficult as of yet. (Though, I hope, the most interesting.) In
terms of where readers can find me during times where I am incredibly busy,
there is one place where I most likely still exist: subtitling videos for
Fiestar. As noticed, while reviews have been scarce, I have been able to upload
lengthier videos of Fiestar. Now this does sound like a poor excuse or even a
subliminal way to advertise videos of Fiestar (which admittedly is not a
complete lie; Fiestar deserves more popularity), but the point is this: if I am
not writing reviews, readers can find me subtitling and uploading videos; if I
am not subtitling and uploading videos, readers can find me writing reviews.
And if neither of those are
occurring, I am most likely crying and drowning in homework and then attempting
to stay mentally healthy via watching an unhealthy amount of, as of the late,
TWICE videos.  

Pitifully (and humorously) shared,
the only reason I am not completely mentally broken down is because I have
lately been watching many videos of TWICE and have developed a delusional crush
for the ladies’ leader, Jihyo. She is personally one of my “ideal types” (along
with SPICA’s Boa) as, perhaps as readers have been able to gauge over time, I
find myself highly attracted to older (Jihyo is five months older than me) “womanly
women”—or to not be hypocritical as I constantly challenge readers to not use
gender-based labels (such as “manly men”), I am connoting “strong women.” To
explain what I mean (and once again, in a delusional manner though I obviously
am still waiting for Jihyo to propose to marry me), Jihyo provides a sense of
security and comfort. After all, her leadership as seen for TWICE is proving of
such. She is overall incredibly caring, funny, hardworking, and unlike the
general—and pathetic—consensus that she is apparently not physically attractive
particularly because of her weight, I personally find her very beautiful both
physically and non-physically. And, despite her not having, say, SPICA’s Boa’s
husky, deeper voice, I still find Jihyo’s voice very charming. Quite obviously
I am very delusional but a boy can dream, can he not? Thus, in my delusional
world, indeed one day Jihyo will get on her knees and propose to me and we will
live happily-ever-after. I suspect readers are now questioning if I truly am
still mentally healthy because of university.

Now for a serious point if readers
feel that I have cheated time and intellectual points out of them and this
review, for an interesting topic that even I am still attempting to reconcile
that I sure readers might also be curious on, the topic of race when it comes
to dating is a peculiar one. Sure, while readers might desire to praise me for desiring
to one day marry an older, “strong woman” and not feel emasculated at all
because of such, there is still a controversial component to my ideal type: I
admit I strongly prefer to not date and
marry an Asian woman. I would prefer, as the phrase is, to “date outside of my
race.”

Now obviously race would never be a
deciding factor—and neither would, say, age—but race does go along with my ideal
type preferences akin to age. The main reasons behind this “race preference”
are that, for one, I personally cherish raising a family that has multiple
cultural views within the family and I have a desire to learn cultures beyond
what I was raised with. Furthermore, I desire to share my own cultural values
with someone who equally desires to learn more about my culture. Nonetheless,
the tension as readers can tell is this: am I being racist or not? Personally I
do acknowledge both perspectives, and again while these preferences in the end
would never be deciding factors, these are still biases in mind that are worthy
of critically examining. But, in the end, these preferences can only go so far:
for example, if Jihyo proposed to marry me—and even if she were a few months
younger than I—indeed readers can expect me to be a married boy. All in all, I
am sure a few readers have pondered this topic before (and I know many of my
older cousins have as their partners are all non-Asian) or might even feel a
desire themselves to “date outside one’s race(s)” (this term can be problematic
for those who are multi-racial and I do apologize for such). There are no easy
answers at all, but consider this a social topic to ponder in addition to the
following musical discussion.

All that aside and onto the review
itself, before receiving this request, a year ago (or two), I did plan to review
“Call Me Baby.” It definitely was a very popular comeback during its time—after
all, this is EXO and their popularity is enormous in general. In terms of the
song itself, however, I did want to review it as it is a slightly peculiar one:
as even the requester of this review noted, the song incorporates a lot of
interesting components especially in terms of how its instrumental is
functioning for the song in whole. Thus, this review will indeed focus a lot on
particularly the rhythm at play and what functions it serves and we will
speculate what the composers had in mind when creating the song. Nevertheless,
despite how creative and effective the instrumental is to the song and even
despite the song’s massive popularity during its promoted era, I argue the song
in its entirety is not as strong as people perceive it to be. In particularly, while
the song efficiently and effectively establishes a rhythmic, smooth and
coherent style towards the beginning, near the end of the song completely contradicts
itself but not in an augmenting
manner.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.83/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Chorus: 4/10

4.     Bridge: 3/10

5.     Rap: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 4/10

This street is completely crazy
Strangers in between people
Every moment that we’re together,
like boom boom boom boom boom
What up?

Hey girl, that one moment felt like eternity
(The fate-like moment)
When you pierced into me in just one moment
(Like lightning, in this world)
You called my name and came to me
It’s amazing, like a flash of light,
you fill me up the moment I see you, oh my
Sit here comfortably and listen to my story now
Oh I don’t care
Even if I have to go far,
I’ll be the one man to be by your side
You seeped into my dry lips
and woke me up
The time’s wasting, girl
So don’t wait, don’t wait too long

There are many who shine,
but look at what’s real among them
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
My heart grows bigger for you
and it closes its door for everyone else but you
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
Even if it’s many times, call me, girl
You make me exist as myself
You’re the only one in my world
You’re the one, you’re the one
There are many who shine
but look at what’s real among them
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
Even if it’s many times, Call me girl

Baby girl
Even among all the greed
and all the words
You showed that you believe in me
Even if everyone changes and leaves me,
you are my lady
All I need is for you to hold my hand

There are many who shine,
but look at what’s real among them
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
My heart grows bigger for you
and it closes its door for everyone else but you
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby

I was once trapped in a dark maze
(In the darkness)
But I hear your voice that woke me up
You made me be born again, yeah
E-X-O
Listen

Say my name
(Louder)
If you become my light and
pull me through this chaotic place,
(What up?)
I’ll hold you and never change
I’ll hold you and face those who left me
Don’t ever mind about a thing
You came into the big emptiness in my heart

In this shaking world
You were the only one who became my light
There are many who shine
but look at what’s real among them
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
(I’ll be your baby)
You make me exist as myself
You’re the only one in my world
you’re the one, you’re the one
Girl, you’re the one I want
There are many who shine,
but look at what’s real among them
Call me baby, call me baby,
call me baby, call me baby
Even if it’s many times, call me, girl

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
First of all, before getting right into the function and effects of the
instrumental, we first need to realize “Call Me Baby” follows what I term a “linear-based”
song—or at least, for the first portion. In other words, rather than containing
various shifts in terms of pacing or intensity, the song—even if by default is
already at a more energetic state—remains relatively stable. After all, already
readers should notice there are no explicit pre-choruses in this song—a section
of which oftentimes is when songs go through a significant shift (a buildup).
Because the song lacks that traditional, transformative section (as again, the
pre-choruses are oftentimes a “spike” in a song’s flow), “Call Me Baby” is able
to run a more straightforward path with going from the verse and right into the
chorus.

With
this in mind, let us now discuss the importance of the instrumental. Already, one
strong function of it and especially with the stronger, heavier beats is that the
instrumental serves as core transition piece for the song. Especially as there
are no pre-choruses, it is vital for an aspect of the song to still handle the
role as a hastily recognizable transition piece. In the song, the stronger
beats serve this role—prominent, obvious examples include the introduction to
the first verse, and that verse to the chorus. But, besides just serving as
transition points, what the instrumental deserves much praise for is how it
shapes the entirety of the song—or,
once again, at least the first portion of the song. For example, one aspect to
notice is that unlike many pop songs where the vocals are clearly overriding
the instrumental be it by being more active or intense, in “Call Me Baby” I
argue it is the opposite: the instrumental are, interestingly, at the forefront
while the vocals are backing up said instrumental. I make this claim as we need
to notice the beats’ volume and impact come off much harder and—quite literally—louder
than even the singing. This is especially emphasized whenever the members are
providing beltings versus chunked, singular singing. Oftentimes, the opposite
holds true where vocal beltings, for example, are louder and more prominent
than the instrumental. Furthermore, the vocals’ rhythm is very much based on following
the instrumental’s pacing and seldom do
the vocals necessarily deviate away from strictly doing such—this being something
we seldom find as the opposite oftentimes holds true instead: vocals are the
ones to first change with the instrumental then adapting.

And
so, why does this all matter? For one, as discussed in perhaps a few prior
reviews—one in mind is BTS’ “Spring Day” to some extent—having a highly
coordinated instrumental and vocals combination allows a song to maintain a
strong sense of cohesion. Predictability, for example, is possible when a
listener is able to clearly track what is occurring on both ends and thus, this
aids in making a song “make sense” versus it sounding as if the song had no
structure to it. Besides that, though, with the instrumental essentially
leading the song, we have to credit the composers for this as this in of itself
is already a creative idea. As even the requester noted, it seems that the
rhythm and instrumental in this song is particularly
important—this distinction is something I argue can be found rooted in how
the instrumental is in fact the leading aspect of the song, and again, this is
a creative take as traditionally it is the vocals—the tune—that lead a pop
song. And as I have addressed before, having a creative aspect to songs is
highly beneficial and to some extent almost necessary if a pop song is to stand
out among the hundreds of thousands of existing pop songs.

All
this praise aside, however, “Call Me Baby” still carries many flaws and
unfortunately, it seems that these flaws almost entirely overshadow the stronger
aspects to the song. To already discuss what the major flaw to the song is, it
is the fact that towards the end of the song—from the bridge and after—the song
abruptly steers away from its established, linear and rhythm based flow, to one
that is far too erratic and different. And while this is not necessarily a
weakness—and in fact, some songs can turn such contrasting points into strengths
as noted in my review of TWICE’s
“Knock Knock”
—the issue is that the song does not resolve this tension. Therefore, listeners are left with a
song that, in perhaps a harsh statement, collapses itself. Let us examine and “actively
listen” to the bridge and rap for examples.

With
the bridge, right from the start we come across a bridge that, though suiting
in a traditional sense of pop songs “needing” to have a bridge, the section’s
form is one that highly contrasts the rest of the song. It is a dramatic pause
to “Call Me Baby,” and most distinctively, the instrumental becomes an
incredibly light, minimal aspect as the vocals are in the spotlight—and of which
already contrasts what the song initially established in its entire run prior
to the bridge. Additionally, even when the bridge transitions to the rap, we
have to notice the note belting that occurs and likewise how “E-X-O” in its
rough, segmented delivery once again ruins the linear, smoother flow
established. And to finish this all, the distorted instrumental and vocals that
follow up as the transition point to the rap once again highly conflict with
the song’s original, intended sound. Regarding the rap, similar critiques can
be said as—even if sonically it is viable—the distortions throughout the rap
and more so how intensive the rap is all go against what “Call Me Baby” set up
at the beginning.

Overall,
while the song is certainly strong in terms of its creative take to having an
instrumental-led song and that the instrumental is very effective at doing
such, the composers’ decision to have the song undergo drastic changes to its
established concept is where my main criticism lies. Now, it is understandable
on why the composers most likely opted to do so—after all, composers are very
intelligent, diligent women and men. I believe their idea with this sudden
change in the song is to address one main problem linear-based songs have: a
strong sense of monotony. Given that “Call Me Baby” is an incredibly
straightforward song, lacking points of a shift in the song’s overall flow
could, indeed, deter away listeners. Thus, a simple solution to that is to in
fact include points of shifts that would make the song predominantly linear, but also inclusive of more diverse aspects.
Unfortunately, I argue the composers failed with that goal: especially because
of how strongly established the song is with its original flow and given that
the rhythm is the driving force of the song, there could have been ways to add
more variety without necessarily compromising the song’s concept towards the end.
For example, at the choruses—in other words, at moments that are still within
the song’s established, smoother flow—there are still some issues with a
mundane sound occurring. Therefore, if some changes or additions were made so
that the choruses in of themselves were more varied, then the pressure for
drastically different bridge and rap might have disappeared.

All
in all, EXO’s “Call Me Baby” is still a song worthy of listening especially as
it is unique to hear such an instrumental-orientated song, but it does possess
a multitude of weaknesses that come from solutions that went, I argue, awry. Nevertheless,
as this song is very much “performance based” with having a very charming
choreography, it still deserves much respect on that end even if musically I
find that it comes short.

_______________________________________________________

It
has been almost a month and a half since this request was sent in. For readers
who wish to send in requests, it might be best to wait until May as that is
when I will be on summer break and have time to quickly review requests. For
the requester of this review, I greatly apologize for this delay. University is
truly quite rigorous as of the late.

In
terms of upcoming reviews, PRISTIN’s “Wee Woo” is in mind along with Day6’s “I’m
Serious.” Both songs will provide not only new artists on the blog—as both of
them are relatively new groups if correct—but also new, insightful reviews as
both songs are quite different from the many I have reviewed in the past. Thank
you to readers for being patient with me, and thank you for reading this
review. I know summer break will be perhaps my most active reviewing period
yet, so look forward to such but until then, I expect to wrap up April with those
two reviews and a few Critical Discussions regarding “MR Removed” and even line
distributions. Until then, “My heart grows bigger for you”—especially for the
requester who had to wait far too long for this review. Look forward to PRISTIN’s
“Wee Woo.”

A.CL – “Reviews” Review

(Music
Video)

A.CL – Reviews

Reviewed
on April 1, 2017

[Oddly,
due to some technical issues, I cannot post a picture for this particular
review.]

Many
argue that “Reviews” is a relatively weak comeback and I unfortunately will
have to agree with this opinion. “Reviews” has much potential with its sections
and A.CL’s vocals are definitely solid, but the instrumental and even lyrics
are extremely detrimental to the song.

Personal Message:
Already the new month of April will
have a review. In fact, I am reviewing an artist who should have been reviewed
quite some time ago: A.CL, a ballad soloist. Most likely very few readers are
familiar with this artist; after all, despite debuting nearly three years ago,
it was not until quite recently that he has begun garnering some popularity—and
even then, he is still definitely quite unpopular in comparison to other
artists. But that said—and to perhaps be quite critical—it is understandable on
why he never achieved any attention during his debut: his songs have been
heavily lacking both in terms of execution but also with composition.
Fortunately, indeed, he is continually working hard to improve his skills and
likewise his songs’ compositions have been gradually improving as well. And of
course, I am certain A.CL is very grateful to his current audience.

Addressing technical aspects to this
review, as noticed I am having technical issues with posting both the pictures
and lyrics. I deeply apologize for such; future reviews will never have these
problems again and certainly will not.
These problems seem to only occur once a year. Thankfully, the music video link
should be working and it does have the song’s lyrics within the video. All this
side, let us begin April 1 with a very serious review on A.CL’s latest
comeback: “Reviews.” This is definitely an interesting title; prior to “Reviews,”
I have never encountered a similar title. I hope this does not lead to confusions
between whether I am referring to this review
or to the song “Reviews.” On topic, however, let us actually focus on the song.
Many argue that “Reviews” is a relatively weak comeback and I unfortunately
will have to agree with this opinion. “Reviews” has much potential with its
sections and A.CL’s vocals are definitely solid, but the instrumental and even
lyrics are extremely detrimental to the song.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
8/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 8/10

4.     Chorus: 8/10

5.     Bridge: 8/10

6.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 2/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Refer to the music video for the
lyrics; there are too many technical issues involved for some odd reason and
thus, I cannot post the lyrics as I normally do.]

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
This review will definitely be shorter than usual and will actually be
following a structure I used for reviewing in the past—specifically, that I
will go through each category and robotically gauge them. This is not to
belittle A.CL and the composers of “Reviews,” but I find this is the best way
to explain. And of course, I am definitely being incredibly serious with this
review and by no means is this review a “joke” or “prank” or, quite
drastically, even “fake.”

With
the vocals, A.CL definitely has a lot of power with his vocals. In a way, we
can almost consider his vocals his “ideas”; in other words, A.CL knows how to
deliver “ideas” that tend to be quite unique and can definitely begin
conversations. Obviously this concept is quite confusing and probably makes no
sense, but in short let us understand this: for A.CL’s “ideas,” he definitely
does bring interesting points in the song.

That
said, for where this can be problematic, the lyrics fail to bring justice to A.CL’s
vocals. Although his points and ideas with singing are great, he oftentimes struggles
to clearly and cohesively deliver those very ideas. After all, as we can tell
by the lyrics, it appears quite jumbled and even disorganized. I argue if A.CL
wishes to improve his songs, he definitely needs to keep refining his lyrics
composing skills. Essentially, his mechanical writing skills—if this is more
clear—needs to be continually improved.

Regarding
the sections, I argue this is where A.CL greatly excels. Considering past songs
where his songs tended to sound overly mundane because the composers focused on
an output-input structuring of songs—which obviously makes no sense but bear
with me for now—but recently the composers have made a drastic switch to
actually make A.CL’s songs flow more naturally. Plus, A.CL’s songs tend to be
clearly structured in a way so that it is almost as if listeners can quite
literally see how his songs are structured and laid out.

Finally,
for where A.CL needs huge improvements, the instrumental to his songs
oftentimes are poor in particular because the beats are extremely slow. Now there are comeback periods—especially during
the summer—where his songs turn quite upbeat and follow a comfortable flow, but
as we can see in “Reviews,” this ballad happens to not be during summer. “Reviews”
is unfortunately quite slow in its pacing and that is arguably what prevents
A.CL from necessarily garnering more appeal from the public. Not that
popularity matters per se and in many interviews A.CL has explicitly stated
that he cares more about the quality of his songs versus having many fans, but
indeed especially as of the late, A.CL’s songs are far too slow. Certainly A.CL’s
comeback plans for summer are looking quite great especially because he is not
going to be attending summer classes—for music that is; music summer classes—and thus his newly released songs in the upcoming
summer will all be quite upbeat, but indeed, as of now the instrumental to many
of his songs are far too slow.

All
in all, A.CL’s “Reviews” is definitely an interesting song. Whether readers
realize it or not, I have personally been following A.CL from the very second
he debuted and despite the current problems in place, I do wish to acknowledge
how much he and his songs have improved. Now of course much more work is still
needed to be done, but certainly A.CL is improving and will aim to continually
improve. Perhaps the most interesting idea to ponder over is the very fact that
A.CL debuted at all: he was—with all due respect—quite awful in all categories when
he debuted. Therefore, to see him take that risk of deciding to debut and to
then continue improving over time is definitely a decision I bet A.CL is
grateful to have done.

_______________________________________________________

This
review ended much sooner than perhaps all of the other reviews I have written
in the past months. Again, readers should remember I am obviously quite serious
with this review and that A.CL is a real ballad soloist. I would never lie to
readers or personally celebrate a particular holiday in the United States (and
in other countries though with different titles and even on different days
rather than April 1) that occurs once a year that involves tricking others.

Now
on a serious note, I definitely do
acknowledge—and have genuine statistical data to back up such claims—that I
have readers from all over the world (though a huge percentage of readers are
from the United States). Thus, to readers who are not in the United States and
unfamiliar with why April 1 is an interesting day in the United States, I do
apologize if this review is confusing. I do not wish for this review to make
one feel excluded due to lacking that cultural background and I recommend a
quick search on April 1 in the United States for some explanation if one is
curious.

But
of course as said, this review is entirely serious and I hope readers enjoy
this high-quality review that I wrote in roughly twenty minutes. That is quite
a record if one asks me, especially as my reviews normally take hours to write—let
alone the days it takes to analyze
the song beforehand. Look forward to other reviews in April. I would now close
this review by quoting the lyrics from this song, but obviously this is a difficult
task not because this entire review
is fake and a prank, but because I am now facing technical difficulties here as
well since for some reason I “cannot” use quotes right now. That “cannot” is an
exception, and likewise this one as well. There we go; now that is a solid excuse and a perfect way to end this review.

HIGH4 – “Love Line” Review

(Music
Video)

HIGH4 – Love Line

Reviewed
on March 30, 2017

Focusing
now on “Love Line” in of itself, while many listeners and fans can very much
appreciate a calmer pop song and how soothing the song sounds, I argue we need
to be a bit more critical with actively listening to “Love Line.” Certainly the
song is not “bad” at all, but I would hesitate to claim there are a lot of
strong, enticing points as fans and some listeners claim. Thus, I will argue on
why I personally hear “Love Line” as an average song, and more importantly, I
wish to then discuss the actual implications of what “average” means for songs
and, of course, why “Love Line” is deemed as average even if it can be a very
soothing song.

Personal Message:
To already start off on a somewhat
random topic, after posting the bonus post of one of my English essays, I
realized how I oddly do write significantly better if writing casually versus
academically—and this says quite a lot considering my casual writing (such as
here with reviews) is already atrocious. But, my personal perception of this quality
disparity might be due to reasons that are not too concerning, examples
including: I have much more practice writing casually; I have much more
analytical ideas on the basis that I “own” these ideas versus needing sources
(and hence why I urge readers to never take my words “objectively” or “scientifically”
as these are my ideas that are
certainly not peer-reviewed and easily debunked; I write reviews for creating discussions versus necessarily
proving points); and simply put, I am able to be more conversational in casual
writing versus academic writing. After all, while I personally do encourage the
use of “I” in academic reviews, I know I certainly cannot go off on random
tangents that may still be quite relevant or have the ability to even add
horrendous, cheesy jokes.

For what this random writing
digression means to readers, I do encourage readers—especially those still
attending classes whether in high school or college (and younger and older; I
personally target the high school and college age for my reviews, but I am well
aware I have readers from an even wider range of ages and even readers from all
over the world)—to find a balance in their academic writings. As an upcoming
English teacher in the United States, I am very much understanding the
convoluted issues involved with writing and why many students dread it and even
how teaching writing without an open mind can lead to potentially excluding certain
students (such as with those who are English Language Learners/ELL), but I do
wonder if one way to alleviate these problems would be to incorporate students’
genuine voices (“casual” writing) into more professional (“academic”) writing. Furthermore,
I wonder if getting students to see value of writing skills beyond just
academic work would be beneficial—this perhaps being why I admittedly care a
lot more for my reviews than the plethora of English essays I have written for
professors. But, to answer these questions, this is why I am still attending
education and English classes and garnering more first-hand experiences with
teaching.

On topic and away from all these
English-writing-nerdiness discussions, I do want to greatly apologize to the
requester of this review. It has been almost three weeks since the request
itself was sent in to now finally getting the review out. As mentioned, I am
exceptionally busy with university (I mentioned in the prior post how I wrote
8,700 words for an essay for an ED class) and thus, simply had no time to spare
for reviews. Or to be more honest, I had no time to spare for reviews at the cost of my mental well-being: I
certainly do have free time still, of course, but rather than putting it
towards reviews, I am putting it towards catching up on videos of MAMAMOO,
Fiestar, TWICE, and GFriend just for the sake of allowing some mental resting.
After all, writing relentless essays and additionally reviews would be too much
writing and reading for me.

Excuses aside, for how this review
will go, I do predict it being relatively shorter than a majority of reviews.
Even as I write this review, I am still nearly drowning in work and thus, I ask
for readers’ and the requester’s understanding on this time-restraint I have. Nonetheless,
I hope to focus more on the critical points of “Love Line” and more general,
musical discussions and will definitely still put in much effort in this
regard. Focusing now on “Love Line” in of itself, while many listeners and fans
can very much appreciate a calmer pop song and how soothing the song sounds, I
argue we need to be a bit more critical with actively listening to “Love Line.”
Certainly the song is not “bad” at all, but I would hesitate to claim there are
a lot of strong, enticing points as fans and some listeners claim. Thus, I will
argue on why I personally hear “Love Line” as an average song, and more
importantly, I wish to then discuss the actual implications of what “average”
means for songs and, of course, why “Love Line” is deemed as average even if it
can be a very soothing song.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 5/10


Sections: 5/10
(5.33/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Rap: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Bridge: 6/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 6/10

[Instrumental introduction]

Oh my
Were my eyes always this big?
Oh my
Did my heart always beat this fast?
Honestly speaking,
I feel strange
I go crazy whenever I see you
I go crazy, yeah

I keep going crazy
Whenever I see you, it’s really dangerous
My racing heart,
did it run away somewhere?
No, look, have I ever been like this before?
I try to act like nothing’s wrong, but it’s so obvious
Every time I see you, I’m amazed
Beauty on and on
I’ll say it in easy terms:
“I like you so much”
Nothing else to see
This is one-hundred percent love
It’s slightly cringing,
but maybe this is destiny

Love line
Even if I can’t see it, I can feel it
We’re connected with a red line
Baby I really love you
Oh, yeah it’s you
My love is you
(Will you believe in me?
With my pinky finger)
I promise you, I love you
Love love love love line
Love love love like this
Love love love love line
Love love love like this

From now on, day and night
I want to hold you
As if you were always mine

I’ve never felt this way before
I love you like
how a fat kid loves cake
Sweet like cake cake
Can’t believe I’m relating to a typical love song
Oh the irony, huh?
If we’re going to date anyway
If only we met earlier
But thank God
we met now, yeah
My baby you know

Love line
Even if I can’t see it, I can feel it
We’re connected with a red line
Baby I really love you
Oh, yeah it’s you
My love is you
(Will you believe in me?
With my pinky finger)
I promise you, I love you
Love love love love line
Love love love like this
Love love love love line
Love love love like this

I’ve never felt this way before, I’m not lying
More than you ever imagined, I love you
Your man is right here
You probably won’t believe me
But I can’t wait anymore
I want you, I’m going crazy
I won’t be cautious
I’m going to hug you
to the point where I wonder if I’m allowed to do this
I’m going to get hit

Love line
Even if I can’t see it, I can feel it
We’re connected with a red line
Baby I really love you
Oh, yeah it’s you
My love is you
(Will you believe in me?
With my pinky finger)
I promise you, I love you
Love love love love line
Love love love like this
Love love love love line
Love love love like this

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: To
be understand my argument, I think we first need to understand a vital difference:
the difference between rating an artist’s “song” and “skills.” Already, I
expect many to desire to contest my rating for the vocals—and to that, I very
much encourage such as disagreement and agreement (and both) is how we develop
critical thinking skills along with developing pro-social skills of how to
disagree with others without emotionally or even physically harming them. To
explain the rating, first we have to acknowledge a five is not bad per se.
Nonetheless, it would appear HIGH4 deserves a six here as their singing is very
smooth and flows fluently throughout the song. Why, then, did I give a five?
This is where we need to understand, as said, the difference when I critique a song versus skills.

When
it comes to reviewing songs, I do exactly such: I focus on the songs and
therefore every aspect that is gauged—the vocals, the sections, the
instrumental, and the lyrics—are all based within
the context of
the song itself. Let us use an example to understand this.
For example, in the prior review of TWICE’s
“Knock Knock”
(and biasedly one of the “better” reviews I have ever written—though
it still very much lacks, of course), the vocal rating there was a six. Quite
obviously, there is an unfair disparity in place when we contrast these two
songs: HIGH4’s singing in “Love Line” are focused on precise and intense tunes
while TWICE’s singing in “Knock Knock”—barring the vocal beltings—are mostly on
repetitive, basic tunes such as “knock knock knock knock.” Why does TWICE get a
higher rating despite an almost objective view that HIGH4’s singing is much
more intensive and focused? The answer: it depends on the context of the song; therefore, we need to account for the
sections, instrumental, and so forth that take place and the vocals then fit
within that background. This is why TWICE’s vocals scored quite well despite,
in terms of a huge portion of the singing in of itself, it sounds somewhat
weaker. (Specifically, the composition to the vocals’ arrangement is what was
impressive as I argued the composers of “Knock Knock” utilized contrast to
greatly augment the ladies’ vocals.)

And
so, for what this means, I do wish to clarify that HIGH4’s vocals are certainly
solid in of themselves. In terms of raw skills, the men sing quite well (and
equally does TWICE before those misunderstand me; the ladies are also actually
excellent singers now that I am rather knowledgeable with the group both
musically and socially). The issue, then, is that within the context of “Love
Line,” their vocals are less appealing. For example, with how the sections and
instrumental predominantly focus on rhythm and following a slower pacing, the
vocals following suit create even more mundaneness in sound. In this context,
as we can now see, their vocals—of which independently sound decently—now become
quite plain as the singing overly blends in with the rest of the sounds that
occur and thus, appeal is lost in this regard. And because of how song reviews
are song reviews, I account for the
overall sound that is given.

All
that discussed, this will now lead us to the main discussion of this review:
this song has potential to be quite appealing, but—whether the composers intended
this or not—the song plays out too safely and does not attempt any “risks.”
That said, it is not a bad idea at all to “play safe”—in other words, these
songs tend to follow very traditional structuring—with songs; the benefit to
doing such is that, typically if done appropriately, these types of songs will
never be deemed “bad”—the downside, though, is that oftentimes this also means
these songs will seldom be deemed astonishing and amazing. For a very vivid
example of another song that does such, Fiestar’s “Mirror” is the infamous
example. “Mirror” is a song that is incredibly predictable in its form and
sound, and while it is still somewhat pleasing in sound and that very
predictability, we have to admit it is a song that can be overlooked as it
simply does not stand out at all: “Mirror” is a generic, typical pop song even
if its stylistic concept is somewhat unique to Fiestar (the concept of—as it is
humorously labeled—“sad-sexy”). But in terms of paying attention to just the
sonic details of “Mirror,” as said, it is easily overlooked and can be
dismissed as another, typical pop song. All of these points apply to HIGH4’s “Love
Line,” though instead of just a generic pop song, “Love Line” is a generic-calm pop song.

All
that said, however, as is essentially always the case with songs, there are
still strengths. For where “Love Line” excels, the rapping utilized is the one
aspect that does provide a potential distinctive point for the song. The
rapping is used not just used as content in the song—in other words, merely
providing a section and therefore filling in time and space with sounds—but it
also serves structural functions as well. Given that the song lacks pre-choruses,
the rapping serve as a substitute and it is a particularly effective one as
unlike pre-choruses that oftentimes have to adopt a notable shift in intensity—to
“hype” a song—raps do not have to fulfill that role. Furthermore, because of
how the raps are focused on being slower and staying as a complementing piece
to the instrumental’s rhythm, they end up serving as even more suitable “pre-choruses.”
In fact, if correct, there was a somewhat recent review where a song
manipulated this same compositional strategy and idea, so should a reader find
that particular review perhaps more explanation would be there.

All
in all, however, I personally find “Love Line” unsatisfying not because of what
it is but because of what it could have been. Again, the song is
definitely still decent and holds its ground well in terms of being a relaxing
pop song, but being labeled as “average” will not suffice for a song and artist
who desire to get further in the pop scene and that is where I remain
unsatisfied and even somewhat concerned. A vast majority of (Korean—but also generally
speaking any culture such as American, Chinese, Japanese, etc.) pop songs are
indeed “average,” after all; given that many composers are in fact very well
skilled and are intellectual individuals, seldom would we find songs that are
actually below average and genuinely poor. While we have encountered songs on
this blog that have been rendered by me as slightly below average and
disappointing in this regard, we have yet to encounter a song where it encourages
me to boldly say: “Hey, give me, AtrocityCL/Chris, a month of training and let me compose and produce a better song.”
That simply does not happen not just because I am a silly fool that would
actually make an even worse song, but
that never happens because a large majority of composers do know what they are doing and do
produce and compose songs that are at least average. Therefore, it is critical
to songs to be beyond “average”—no matter whose standards calls it “average”—as
being average loses appeal when essentially every song is—at worst—“average.”

HIGH4’s
“Love Line” is a song that can be enjoyed, but in terms of other calmer pop
songs I have heard, it definitely lacks its distinctive features. It is a song
that “works,” but it is not a song that necessarily invites people to truly
hone in on what occurs. Nevertheless, HIGH4 deserves support as do all artists,
and I personally remain optimistic that future releases by the men will be unique and allow them to perhaps
gain more popularity. For now though with “Love Line,” more is desired as it is
a song that “plays too safely.”  

_______________________________________________________

EXO’s
“Call Me Baby” will hopefully also be finished by today. To the requester, once
again huge apologies for the huge delay on getting this review out. Also, I do
apologize if this review focused too much on a general discussion and less on
actually analyzing the song in of itself and perhaps explaining why I consider it
a song that sounds quite typical in its structures. In fact, this might be a
very grave mistake as I should have explained to readers the why component in the first place.
Nonetheless, I hope readers and requester find the ideas and points intriguing especially
on a more general level as one continues to listen to pop music.

Look
forward to the remaining request being the final song to the month. “Honestly
speaking, / I feel strange” for not bringing a proper review to “Love Line,”
but I will use this moment as learning experience. For the month of April, look
forward to an early start and for many reviews and even Critical Discussions to
take place.

TWICE – “Knock Knock” Review

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

TWICE – Knock Knock

Reviewed
on March 13, 2017

image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Chorus: 9/10

4.     Rap: 8/10

5.     Bridge: 7/10

6.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 8/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Instrumental Introduction]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

BTS – “Spring Day” Review

(Music Video) / (Audio) / (Dance
Practice)

BTS – Spring Day

Reviewed
on March 11, 2017

That
said, while a few fans have claimed that “Spring Day” is supposedly a weaker
song or at least a song that is unfitting for BTS, I highly disagree: I argue “Spring
Day” is a solidly composed song and it is executed well by the members
themselves. Moreover, this song showcases the versatility of the men and their
composers and producers: beyond just deviating away from the more upbeat and
powerful style BTS is known for, we have to understand that on a compositional
level, “Spring Day” itself deviates away from usual structures and said deviations are actually
effective.

Personal Message:
It has been—if correct—about three
weeks since this review request was sent in. With other posts (specifically an
important post regarding MAMAMOO’s recent controversy and a
discussion on racism in general
—which, on a random note, I am beyond shocked at how
well-received the post is in terms of sparking critical thinking and
discussions) and so much university work occurring, this request was inevitably
delayed. To the requester, I greatly and sincerely apologize for this delay. On
the positive side, however, I am indeed on spring break for a week and plan to
finish this review along with TWICE’s “Knock Knock” and another recent request
on HIGH4’s “Love Line.” Afterwards, March will take a more leisurely pacing but
I hope to have six posts by the end of the month.

Onto the review itself, if correct
it has actually been quite some time since we have last encountered a song that
has been rated relatively high (at least at “above average,” a seven). But
indeed, “Spring Day” does score quite well. That said, while a few fans have
claimed that “Spring Day” is supposedly a weaker song or at least a song that
is unfitting for BTS, I highly disagree: I argue “Spring Day” is a solidly
composed song and it is executed well by the members themselves. Moreover, this
song showcases the versatility of the men and their composers and producers: beyond
just deviating away from the more upbeat and powerful style BTS is known for,
we have to understand that on a compositional level, “Spring Day” itself
deviates away from usual structures and
said deviations are actually effective.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.67/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Rap: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 8/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 6/10

[Introduction Instrumental]

I miss you
When I say that, I miss you more
I’m looking at your photo
but I still miss you
Time is so cruel
I hate us
Now it’s hard
to even see each other’s faces
It’s only winter here
Even in August, winter is here
My heart makes time run
Like a snowpiercer left alone
I want to hold your hand
and go to the other side of the earth
to end this winter
How much longing has to fall like snow
for the spring days to come?
Friend

Like a small piece
of dust
that floats in the air
If the flying snow is me
I could
reach you faster

Snowflakes are falling
Getting farther away
I miss you (I miss you)
I miss you (I miss you)
How much more do I have to wait?
How many more nights do I have to stay up?
Until I can see you? (Until I can see you?)
Until I can meet you? (Until I can meet you?)
Past the end of this cold winter
Until the spring comes again
Until the flowers bloom again
Stay there a little longer
Stay there
Did you change?
(Did you change?)
Or did I change?
(Did I change?)
I hate even this moment that is passing
I guess we changed
I guess that’s how everything is

Yeah I hate you
Although you left
There hasn’t been a day that I have forgotten you
Honestly, I miss you
But now I’ll erase you
because that will hurt less than resenting you

I’m blowing out the cold
Like smoke, like white smoke
I say that I’m going to erase you
But actually, I still can’t let you go

Snowflakes are falling
Getting farther away
I miss you (I miss you)
I miss you (I miss you)
How much more do I have to wait?
How many more nights do I have to stay up?
Until I can see you? (Until I can see you?)
Until I can meet you? (Until I can meet you?)

You know it all
You’re my best friend
The morning is going to come again
Because no darkness, no season,
can last forever

Cherry blossoms are blooming
The winter is ending
I miss you (I miss you)
I miss you (I miss you)
If I wait a little longer (if I wait)
If I stay up a few more nights
I’ll go see you (I’ll go see you)
I’ll go pick you up (I’ll go pick you up)
Past the end of this cold winter
Until the spring comes again
Until the flowers bloom again
Stay there a little longer
Stay there

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: To
continue the discussion of this song differing from the norms of (Korean) pop
music, readers should first take some time to actively listen to the song—or,
one can easily take a visual look at the structures themselves. One detail
should stick out: there are no verses per se. (And for those unfamiliar, in my reviews
I connote sections not by denotation but rather connotation; in other words,
yes there technically are verses but focusing on the context, we will consider these sections “rapping sections” versus
verses.) Instead, interestingly, the rapping sections serve in place of the typical
verses. This serves two strong benefits to the song. For one, it definitely
brings “Spring Day” variety and creativity beyond just stylistic appeal. On a sonic level, for example, we find that
these rap sections are quite diverse: there are instances of faster, rigorous
pacing and also moments where the raps follow a more tranquil, rhythmic focus. Additionally,
the members’ execution—factors of flow, fluency, tone, tune, and so forth—remain
excellent. Furthermore on a structural level, because of how flexible rapping
can be with intensity compared to being confined to a typically more passive
state as are verses, “Spring Day” reaps the benefit of such by very much using
the raps for a majority of the song’s main transition points.

For
another aspect I wish to focus on, the bridge is very impressive—as noted by
its much higher rating. There are two main points that I will concisely cover
for why this is the case. The first point is that the bridge is quite suitable
both transitioning to but also out from. Admittedly the song in of
itself helps with this: consider how “Spring Day” progresses in a relatively
linear fashion, and that all shifts are with minimal fluctuations. After all,
it is not as if a transition from the pre-chorus to chorus leads us to a chorus
that is utterly transformed and upbeat. Thus, with the song already naturally
being a tight form, this aids with the bridge’s placement. But even so, it
should still be appreciated that the bridge is not inserted as an awkward point
but that its entry was soothed in by V’s stunning vocal belting and that the
follow-up afterwards was a direct return to the song’s concluding chorus. Finally,
the second point has already been touched upon: V’s singing there worked out
exceptionally well. Aurally, the vocal belting along with the lower vocal range
ends up complementing the bridge’s intended style, and as already discussed,
said vocal belting allows the bridge to be eased into smoothly.

Lastly,
for perhaps the remaining major praise worth pointing out, the instrumental is
fascinating. In a majority of other songs, I would most likely have found this
type of instrumental to be quite detrimental, and yet in “Spring Day” this type
of instrumental becomes one of its strongest assets. Specifically, I am
referring to how this instrumental “de-syncs” from rest of the song; a simple
example is to listen to the choruses and notice that the instrumental does not
perfectly mesh with the intensity of the vocals. Even more noticeably is that the
beats are not based on the vocals at all but instead are based on its own
rhythm and timings. In other words, this “de-sync”  or “off-sync” that in many cases would
oftentimes be hindering to a song as it overly shifts focus to an
indeterminable point is surprisingly helpful to the song. But why? I argue “Spring
Day” is an exception if we focus on how the vocals work in the song: focused on
being slower and “heavier” in presence—this we find by how “breathy” the vocals
can be. Thus, the instrumental ends up fitting and even benefiting the song as it
is able to replicate that pulsing, heavier style—even if, overall, the
instrumental is following its own pacing and emphasized points.

All
that said, the song still has a few weaknesses that should not be entirely
overlooked—though for the most part, admittedly they “can” be given that the
other aspects compensate. For example, the choruses, I argue, are the song’s
weakest sections and overall even aspect. The choruses have the issue of simply
dragging on far too excessively and thus, this creates a stagnant, duller flow.
We can hone in on this problem in two ways. One is we can first understand the
issues at play with the instrumental and vocals: both run in a linear fashion
and both are emulating similar styles with emphasizing heavier, pulsing moments.
The other way we can find that the choruses are too dragged is considering how
the choruses’ inner shifts—in other words, the latter half of them—are for the
most part merely time extensions to the choruses themselves. In clearer terms:
there truly are minimal changes in the choruses. That said, to return to the
instrumental being a benefit, this is where it comes into effect: given that
the instrumental and vocals—despite sharing stylistic similarities—are actually
not following the exact same path and flow, there is at least some variety
occurring. Nevertheless, the choruses are susceptible to a monotonous sound.

Regarding
another weaker aspect, the pre-choruses would be the next problem. These
sections are in a peculiar case: certainly they do their roles of transitioning
the song—this being signified with the typical hastening of beats—but the main
problem is that these sections are negligible in terms of actually providing
the song something beyond just a transitional tool. Overall, the pre-choruses sound
nothing more than an “earlier” extension of the choruses, and this is
incredibly problematic considering that the choruses are already struggling
with sounding too mundane and lengthy.

All
in all, however, “Spring Day” is still a rather solid song. The composition
involved—particularly with the unique usages of the raps—is excellent, and of
course, the members’ vocal contributions are excellent as well. Indeed: BTS can
handle “softer” songs as much as they can handle their usual powerful, stronger
and upbeat songs. While this song is still far from flawless as the choruses
really do begin sounding far appealing over various playbacks, I personally do
assert this is BTS’ best song as of yet.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, once again huge apologies for not finishing this up many weeks
ago. Thank you for both sending this in and for being very patient. I hope this
review will be worth the wait and that most importantly, it sparks an ongoing discussion
about the song and that it promotes thinking of songs in a more critical
fashion.

For
upcoming reviews, readers can look forward to the long awaited review on TWICE’s
“Knock Knock”—a song that I argue has been brilliantly composed and is one of
the most “efficient” and “accommodating” songs I have heard—and afterwards two
requests: HIGH4’s “Love Line” and a return to the past with EXO’s “Call Me
Baby.” Unfortunately “Time is so cruel” so it will take a while to get all
these reviews out, but I hope readers look forward to them.

Uhm Junghwa – “Dreamer” Review

(Music Video) / (Dance Practice)

Uhm Junghwa – Dreamer

Reviewed
on February 4, 2017

Certainly
“Dreamer” is still decent overall, but I will personally argue a surprising
factor heavily weighs down the song: the vocals. This is not to say that
Junghwa’s singing is poor per se; rather, how
her vocals are used in the song is questionable and that is what I wish to
focus predominantly on in this review.

Personal Message:
We are already into a new month even
though I somehow feel as if we are still in January. That aside, I do want to
greatly apologize to both readers and the requester of this review. I have been
incredibly busy with university but I am hoping to spend this week with
catching up on multiple reviews. Furthermore, I hope to be more concise with
reviews but, as some readers may know, that is difficult for me to personally
balance as I still have yet to find the perfect, short amount of writing that
readers and I can enjoy while still conveying a deeper, critical discussion of
a song. As per usual, experiments will have to take place. Also for other news
(and directed more towards Fiestar fans), I do intend to begin subtitling videos
more frequently again especially as I have plenty of videos left to subtitle.
In particular, I will be subtitling a commercial song by them that surprisingly
no one has translated yet. Finally, due to a long absence, I might attempt to “compensate”
by posting a technical music post—something that admittedly I should not have the authority to write but I
find that there are readers who might be more curious on this aspect to music
and thus, I could discuss something simpler and even relevant for readers.

Onto the review, thank you to the
requester for sending this in. It has been two weeks or perhaps even longer
since the request was submitted and to that I deeply apologize. Nonetheless, despite
the delay, I am very grateful for receiving this and especially with this song
being one that is not “mainstream” as it involves Uhm Junghwa, an older
generation artist. In fact, to put the latter into perspective, it should be
noted that the legendary, highly influential singer (especially for current
female artists) Uhm Junghwa is 47 years old. Indeed, in K-Pop age is merely a fictional
number as she continues to showcase excellent singing and dancing skills.

Now focusing on “Dreamer,” the
requester of this review did predict that I would very much enjoy the song.
While—as in all cases—I do appreciate and admire certain aspects to the song,
unfortunately I will say I find myself being neutral if not somewhat negative
towards the song. Certainly “Dreamer” is still decent overall, but I will
personally argue a surprising factor heavily weighs down the song: the vocals.
This is not to say that Junghwa’s singing is poor per se; rather, how her vocals are used in the song is
questionable and that is what I wish to focus predominantly on in this review.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 4/10


Sections: 5/10
(5.14/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10  

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 6/10

6.     Bridge: 5/10

7.     Conclusion: 6/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 6/10

Boy, don’t you cry
Never never cry
Boy, don’t you cry
Maybe everything is alright

So pretty, it’s like a lie
Your sleeping face in my arms
Honestly, I’m a bit sad
when I think that this is it

On the first night
there were so many things we were curious about
One of me, one of you, we showed each other
On the second night
I was so sorry
because my heart didn’t pound anymore

Boy, don’t you cry
Don’t you ever ever cry
Back then, I loved you more than anyone else
Dreamer dreamer, in my deep dream
You just came and left, that’s all
I love your face when you cry
But you never never know
You’re like a young child
Like you lost everything
Dreamer dreamer
Dream deeper
That night might come again
Until then, goodbye

Do you wanna love again?
Do you wanna play again?

You can do whatever
Say what you want about our past
Rumors will spread anyway
If only one of us is the bad guy
It’ll probably be me

Boy, don’t you cry
Don’t you ever ever cry
Back then, I loved you more than anyone else
Dreamer dreamer, in my deep dream
You just came and left, that’s all
I love your face when you cry
But you never never know
You’re like a young child
Like you lost everything
Dreamer dreamer
Dream deeper
That night might come again
Until then

From close up
it’s not beautiful to me
I wish everything
was just a dream

Boy, don’t you cry
Don’t you ever ever cry
Back then, I loved you more than anyone else
Dreamer dreamer, in my deep dream
You just came and left, that’s all
I love your face when you cry
But you never never know
You’re like a young child
Like you lost everything
Dreamer dreamer
Dream deeper
That night might come again
Until then, goodbye

[Conclusion]

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Now
before truly discussing the vocals, it is still necessary to acknowledge this song’s
strength. In particular for what stands out, the flow to “Dreamer” is
incredibly tight. In other words, the song in whole is very cohesive and as
discussed in multiple reviews, this is a huge asset as it allows many
individual aspects in the song to actually aid one another in producing better
sounds versus conflicting each other. Let us analyze the sections for this
discussion.

First,
it should be understood that the sections’ placement—or even existence if we
are being accurate—in the song are odd at first hearing (or glance if we
literally look at the list): there is only one post-chorus and the second half
of the song is missing a pre-chorus. Unlike the traditional route of having a relatively
symmetrical song from the first half to the second half (such as with the
standard trio of “verse, pre-chorus, chorus” and that said trio repeating in
the second half), we find that “Dreamer” is the opposite as it simply is not
symmetrical in that sense. However, I argue this composition significantly
helps the song in maintaining its tight cohesion. With the post-chorus for
example, rather than entirely dropping the song’s flow to that of a stagnant
pace in order to “reset” the song’s intensity to the level of the first verse,
the post-chorus actually carries on the prior chorus’ faster and more energetic
pacing.

Even
more intriguingly, the second verse that follows up then continues to adopt the
post-chorus’ state—a state that is still upbeat but is still within the
appropriate scale so that the second verse is still identifiable as a standard
pop song verse. Now with all this in mind, the lack of a pre-chorus is
understandable and even beneficial:
because of how the second verse is already somewhat hastened, the final line in
the verse is then easily and naturally transformed as a pseudo pre-chorus. This
is brilliant as this verse-and-pre-chorus combination is efficient—and being
efficient in a song is to be cohesive (for the most part; exceptions exist) as
the sections just go to the next without any abrupt, sudden changes.

However,
although those composition points very much impressed me, I find that the song’s
composition in terms of its actual sounds is less appealing. This is why
despite the stunning maneuvers of the sections they still ultimately average
out at a five. For what I argue is the root cause of it all, I unfortunately do
blame the vocals. (But to clarify, this is not to say I blame Junghwa herself; instead,
it is the vocals in this song’s specific
context
that is weaker.) For example, throughout the entire song the vocals
become mundane as mechanically there are minimal changes in pacing and, in specific,
tone. By tone I am referencing to how the vocals’ core sound—even despite
changes in tunes—still sound the same. Consider this: in the verse, Junghwa’s
singing, while it may be more passive and focused on lower notes and a slower
pacing, sounds very much akin to the singing at the choruses if we ignore
changes in intensity and pacing. Especially when we consider other songs where
the vocals at, say, the choruses sound significantly different due to added
strain or adding a “heavier” or “softer” style, in “Dreamer” this is not the
case as the singing sounds plain and the same throughout. It is because of this
sonic repetitiveness that many of the sections are indirectly negatively
affected. Couple that in with a tough compositional dilemma of either making
the instrumental fit the vocals and therefore creating the song’s solid
cohesion or to make the instrumental vary and thus create diversity and appeal
in the sections at the cost of the song’s cohesion and indeed, we are at “Dreamer”
‘s situation—though, as we can tell, the composers did choose the former.

All
in all, “Dreamer” still rates at average and I do agree with that. The cohesion
to the song is very impressive, and as discussed, how the sections work structurally
personally awed me as I find the single post-chorus and single pre-chorus very
effective yet creative ideas. Unfortunately, the vocals and even instrumental
create a mundane sound to the song and so while the song structurally is solid,
it sonically is weaker. But of course, average is by far not a “negative”
score; the only issue is that it is equally not a “positive” score and thus
blends in with all the other K-Pop songs in existence—this being problematic if
we consider that there are a lot of K-Pop songs. Perhaps “a lot” is an
understatement.

_______________________________________________________

Once
again thank you to the requester of this review. I actually found that this
review went rather smoothly and I managed to touch in decent depth everything
that was critical of the song, and I was able to do so without being too
lengthy or too robotic. I will continue this style of reviews and if it works
out then perhaps I will be able to easily catch up on many songs. Also, thank
you to readers for being patient and thank you to those that read this review whether
in full or skimmed. I appreciate it all.

Look
forward to a bonus post that addresses music on a more technical level—and all
while being something that a majority of readers can find relevant and
applicable to their daily music experiences. Afterwards, other requests will be
covered: Cosmic Girls’ “I Wish” and BTS’ “Dead Leaves.” After those songs, I
plan to then review Hong Jinyoung’s upcoming comeback as I have been anticipating
the day I get to review trot music (I am a huge fan of Hong Jinyoung’s songs
and of trot in general), and if my schedule is correct, the last review of the
month will most likely be either be AOA, 2NE1 (yes, even after their
disbandment), or a collaboration between MAMAMOO’s Solar, f(x)’s Luna, and EXID’s
Hani. There is a lot to cover, but look forward to them all.