Jonghyun – “Lonely” Review

(Music Video)

Jonghyun (SHINee) – Lonely (ft. Taeyeon)

Reviewed on December 19, 2017

image

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

Continue reading “Jonghyun – “Lonely” Review”

EXO – “Ko Ko Bop” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Live
Performance)

EXO – Ko Ko Bop

Reviewed
on August 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 5/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 2/10

6.     Bridge: 5/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 4/10

[Introduction instrumental]

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

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

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

[Post-Chorus instrumental]

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

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

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

[Post-Chorus instrumental]

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

Red Velvet – “Red Flavor” Review

(Music Video) / (Live Performance)

Red Velvet – Red
Flavor

Reviewed
on July 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 2/10

6.     Rap: 4/10

7.     Bridge: 6/10

8.     Conclusion: 5/10


Instrumental: 4/10


Lyrics: 5/10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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.”

SHINee – “1 of 1″ Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Live
Performance)

SHINee – 1 of 1

Reviewed
on January 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Rap: 6/10

6.     Bridge: 4/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Woo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

Hyoyeon – “Mystery” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Live
Performance)

Hyoyeon (Girls’ Generation) – Mystery

Reviewed
on December 30, 2016

I
argue that “Mystery,” while possessing strong composition at times, is
ultimately still a weaker song due to its poor use of “filler” sections—a
concept I will explain within the review (and of course, that label is one I
personally have made up). It is those “fillers” that then limit the song
vocally, instrumentally, lyrically, and as stated, with its section
structuring.

Personal Message:
A late happy holidays (or simply
happy days for those not celebrating anything) but an early happy New Year to
readers. Although I am far behind schedule due to the holidays, there will
indeed be three reviews coming out back-to-back before December ends. Once
January arrives, I plan to start strong and to even “store” reviews that will
be posted systematically through the month once I return back to university.
This way, the blog remains rather active due to frontloading many reviews
beforehand.

Regarding the current review, while
I did say SHINee’s “1 of 1” was next, I have decided to make a change. After this
review or perhaps in January is when I will review “1 of 1.” For now, Girls’
Generation’s Hyoyeon’s solo debut, “Mystery,” will be our focus. The reason
behind this change is—besides how “Mystery” has definitely garnered much
interest due to fans’ curiosity on how Girls’ Generation’s main dancer and
rapper would handle a solo—that the composition in the song itself is quite
intriguing. There are many strong points throughout, but at the same time,
there are equally many weak points. Moreover, in terms of a musical discussion
that I find relevant, this song provides a time for me to discuss certain
“standard pop song” compositions that I hope readers will begin noticing in
other pop songs they listen to.

In short, then, “Mystery” simply
provides many points of discussion—many of which I might even have to skip
over—and this is ultimately the reason for why I feel obligated to review this
song. And of course, as said, this review provides some spotlight to
Hyoyeon—Girls’ Generation’s lovely member and oftentimes musically underrated
member as she is solely praised for her dancing.

That said, however, this review
might actually not help contradict the view that Hyoyeon’s performance is
mainly her dancing. As readers will see, “Mystery” does not fare too well in
its scoring. Unlike many fans’ opinion that “Mystery” is an example of
Hyoyeon’s vocal prowess and is overall a strong song, I unfortunately greatly
disagree—this being the third disagreement in a row based on the previous
reviews. I argue that “Mystery,” while possessing strong composition at times,
is ultimately still a weaker song due to its poor use of “filler” sections—a
concept I will explain within the review (and of course, that label is one I personally
have made up). It is those “fillers” that then limit the song vocally,
instrumentally, lyrically, and as stated, with the sections themselves.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 4/10
(3.75/10 raw score) – “Slightly below average”


Vocals: 3/10


Sections: 4/10
(4.38/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 2/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 2/10

6.     Rap: 5/10

7.     Bridge: 4/10

8.     Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 4/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Acting uninterested,
this dance got your attention
My breath is fluctuating anxiously,
my gestures in the rhythm
And of course, like hypnosis
Fall into my eyes, look at me

(As if enchanted)
Without anyone knowing
(As if your heart was stolen)
Full of only me
(As if fallen deeply for me)
Yeah like that
Yeah like that
Yeah like that

Mystery mystery mystery mystery-tery
Lalalala lalalala lalalala lalalala
Mystery-tery myste-te-tery

Come and get it baby
Come and get it get it
Come and get it baby
Come and get it get it
Come and get it baby
Come and get it get it

Three, two, one
Before you know it,
you’re dancing with me
You adjusted your movements,
manners and look so well
My voice in the rhythm
And of course, like hypnosis,
these eyes are permeating
Desire me more

(As if enchanted)
Without anyone knowing
(As if your heart was stolen)
Full of only me
(As if fallen deeply for me)
Yeah like that
Yeah like that
Yeah like that

Mystery mystery mystery mystery-tery
Lalalala lalalala lalalala lalalala
Mystery-tery myste-te-tery

Come on baby, holding back is harmful, whistle
Come closer and tell me, shh everyone
Coach like you’re under hypnosis
Take me before I disappear
Come dangerously

Look into my eyes, tell me

Mystery mystery mystery mystery-tery
Lalalala lalalala lalalala lalalala
Mystery-tery myste-te-tery

Come and get it baby
Come and get it get it
Come and get it baby
Come and get it get it
Mystery-tery myste-te-tery

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
getting right into my criticism towards the song, there are still solid moments
throughout that need to be acknowledged—as is with every song. For example,
while we will soon discuss in depth on why the vocals scored at a three,
Hyoyeon’s vocals are still impressive at specific points. The verses are a
great example of such. In terms of what is most vocally appealing in the
verses, I argue the precision of the vocals is what we need to focus on. There
are lots of minimal, constantly changing details: beltings and pacing. All of
these details greatly augment the verse. For example, the beltings are minimal
and thus still allow the verses to maintain their more passive flow, and yet
with the vocal beltings indeed existing, they add the sonic appeal of variety.
Likewise with the pacing, the vocals in this sense create a rhythmic flow that
otherwise beats would take the role of—this being something that I argue is
both creative to “Mystery” but also strengthening to Hyoyeon’s vocal appeal as it
adds an additionally layer to what we hear with the vocals.

As
for other praises, to focus on the sections and their structuring, the
pre-choruses are admirable—as noted by their higher rating. Here, the
composition is quite impressive. Given that pre-choruses are the sections that
transition the song to its climactic point—typically a more upbeat chorus—it is
expected that pre-choruses buildup or “hype” a song. In “Mystery,” while the
same ideas are in place, the composers’ method of doing so is brilliant. As
noted earlier, the verses establish a rhythmic, slower flow due to how the
vocals are executed. The pre-choruses then take that flow and merely emphasize
it through not only making Hyoyeon’s vocals truly adopt an explicit
back-and-forth dynamic, but also by increasing the entire pre-chorus’ intensity
and pacing to create that familiar exciting hype.

Unfortunately,
even with those stronger aspects, “Mystery” still suffers from a lot.
Everything else I argue is too reliant on “fillers,” or if not that, then is
simply weaker for other reasons—such as the rap being only average due to
lacking a coherent, clean flow.

Before
diving right into the critiques, however, I think it is now best to clarify
what I mean by “fillers”—and more specifically, “filler sections.” From here
on, I will now remove the quotations as I hope—within this review of course—we will
consider it an “official” term. (But note: there is no such label nor concept
of “filler”; it is one I have made up as I find this best explains my argument
to readers.)

In
summary, a filler section is a section that does not necessarily add additional
components to a song but instead merely carries it forward in time. Before
using “Mystery” ‘s own examples, common filler examples that I bet many readers
are familiar with are in AOA’s “Like a Cat” and Red Velvet’s “Russian Roulette”:
in those songs, recall the parts where the ladies sing “la la la la”
repetitively. Before readers assume that it is only “la” at culprit, however, these
filler sections can still exist without using such: BTS’ “Blood Sweat &
Tears” arguably use a filler-like composition at the choruses when the members
repeat “a lot” (or “much/many”; I forget the exact word). Overall, the point is
that filler sections are incredibly repetitive parts—instrumental or vocals—that
do not add a new flow or tune and are mainly understood as just “filling” a
part in the song and oftentimes occur as the post-choruses. In fact, if readers
truly desire the official musical term for such, I believe in at least American
Pop music it has been referred to as the “millennial whoop”—this pop music concept,
regardless of labels, is exactly what I am trying to get at. Those portions of
songs that go “la la” or “whoa oh oh” or “oh oh” and so forth, is what I refer
to as filler sections. With all this hopefully understood, let us now return to
my argument of how the existing filler sections are detrimental to “Mystery.”

In
the context of vocals, the filler sections—predominantly the choruses and
post-choruses—greatly reduce the overall appeal that the vocals bring to the song.
Now that said, yes—as discussed earlier—Hyoyeon’s vocals are quite delightful
during the verses and even pre-choruses. However, once we arrive at the filler
sections, the vocals almost entirely degrade: they become chaotic, monotonous,
and fail to bring any new or useful element to “Mystery.” After all, this is
why I personally term these filler sections as such: they merely fill in
content for the song versus actually being a part of the song’s experience.

Regarding
other categories, ignoring the more explicit point of how the filler sections
themselves—the choruses and post-choruses—are rated at twos due to the poorer
execution of the filler sections, we should now focus on how even seemingly
unaffected categories are in fact indirectly influenced. With the lyrics for
example, while all the details included are varied and that the plot itself is
at least average for its creativity, it would appear that the lyrics score at a
five. However, due to the choruses and post-choruses, the lyrics at these parts
reflect the filler sections: repetitive, unnecessary lyrical details that neither
progress the plot nor provide new insight. “Lalalala,” as one can tell, is
nothing important at all in the scope of a song’s storytelling or message. Similarly
to the lyrics and vocals, the instrumental also goes through the same problems:
the instrumental is forced to follow the messiness and staleness for the
purposes of “filling” in content.

And
so, while “Mystery” could have very much scored at least at average or, if we
are very optimistic, even at slightly above average, I argue it is the filler
sections that limit this song’s potential. Those filler sections—namely the
choruses and post-choruses—negatively affect how every category runs, such as by
forcing repetitive vocals and instrumental or adding unnecessary details to the
lyrics. Even so, this review should not be interpreted or even used to bash Hyoyeon;
at most, this review critiques the composers of “Mystery” and their use of my
personally labeled “filler sections.”

When
it comes to Hyoyeon herself, I will personally argue based on the verses and
pre-choruses that while her vocal abilities are far from being utterly
impressive, they are still decent. But, for how “Mystery” should truly be
understood, I urge fans to not view her solo debut so much from a musical
perspective but rather, that fans should view this song in the lens of
performances. The song’s choreography is stunning, and coupled in with how
Hyoyeon is an extremely skilled dancer—and I truly wish to emphasize this—we need
to realize “Mystery” is here to shine Hyoyeon’s largest strength: her dancing.
Thus, while musically this song partially falters, we need to understand
Hyoyeon’s solo debut is very likely intended for fans to focus on her dance and
that is what needs to be most appreciated—and the fact that she has a solo
debut at all.

Finally,
I wish to return to the filler sections/millennial whoop and add a huge
clarification that I admittedly forgot: that filler sections are not inherently
bad at all. Three or so years later, I still hold AOA’s “Like a Cat” as the
cherished, near flawless example of how filler sections can be used as a powerful composition in songs. In that song (which
I did review; if readers are curious to see whether my current horrendous
writing could have been even more worse, feel free to read it), the
post-choruses’ “lalala” were very well structured and organized, and due to how
the song revolved around those filler
sections, they proved to be the song’s best section. Therefore, before readers
misinterpret the idea that filler sections are all useless and purely “fillers,”
I strongly caution readers to still be critical and to instead ask why and how said filler sections are used before jumping to conclusions. In
many cases admittedly many appear to be nothing more than fillers, but as mentioned
with “Like a Cat,” there are certainly those rare yet brilliant moments where
composers take those fillers and manipulate them in a way that captivates
listeners.

_______________________________________________________

December
30 and writing late at night—a sign that I truly need to fix my sleep schedule
before I return to university in roughly two weeks. Two more reviews are due
for tomorrow, and I very much am going to strive to review them. Specifically,
I plan to review Jay Park’s “Me Like Yuh” and SHINee’s “1 of 1” as, besides how
the blog needs more male artists involved as both men and women are equally
capable music artists, both songs will receive much praise. With reviews, I
truly do give my honest, critical thoughts and am never swayed by popular
opinion or faking an opinion in a way that would garner more readers and
favoritism. As such, with the past three reviews leaning towards negative
scores (“negative” in the sense of less than five for average), it is only fair
to introduce songs that very much score well and that I consider are strongly
composed.

Look
forward for them to come, and while I plan to actually review a song on January
1, I will leave a preemptive happy New Years to readers. Thank you to all for
reading this review in full or part, and for those who have been sticking
around frequently. Look forward to the next reviews—and of which, if I am
indeed on task, will be both posted on the same day back-to-back.

EXO x Yoo Jaesuk – “Dancing King” Review

EXO
x Yoo Jaesuk – Dancing King (Music Video)

EXO x Yoo Jaesuk – Dancing
King

Reviewed
on September 26, 2016

The result, then, is that the pre-choruses seemingly sound extraordinarily more amped and vocally intensive. In reality is it the contrast—going from an indistinctive verse to an exciting pre-chorus—that is at play, but nonetheless, this composition decision is admirable.

Personal Message:
I am a hypocrite as my initial plans
of reviewing both 2PM and Infinite has changed: I will review the two groups
after this one. Furthermore, so many comebacks have occurred that I simply am
feeling overwhelmed: MAMAMOO, Apink, Jieun (from Secret), and others. Perhaps
reviews that are limited to one paragraph may be necessary, but that is
impossible if I am to dive into any form of details. Again, focusing on
critical points versus filler-details—a writing skill that is vital everywhere—will
be how I follow through with these reviews. (But of course, I will devote a lot
of time in Hyuna’s review to discuss slut-shaming and misunderstandings of “double-standards.”)

But on topic, how could I resist reviewing
a song involving South Korea’s “National MC” and arguably one of the national
boy groups? Yoo Jaesuk, for readers unfamiliar, is an MC and comedian and many
have praised him—I equally—for being phenomenal at both. For example, Happy Together is a show he hosts and
indeed, he is wonderful at that and is simply a very wonderful man. Likewise,
EXO is one of the most popular male groups and thus, reviews on them always
tend to be desired on the basis of popularity. All that covered, EXO and Jaesuk
have indeed collaborated for a song: “Dancing King.” Personally, I am surprised
at the song in both realms of the collaboration but more importantly, that
despite the song’s style being one I tend to steer away from, “Dancing King”
essentially takes what I most hate in songs and makes those very traits
desirable. In other words, the EDM-club genre where songs follow the
progression of building up a song which then climaxes in an instrumental break
tend to be songs I just personally dislike. There is no exact reason per se; I
just do not like them as a preference. However, “Dancing King,” despite
following that exact form, is one I enjoy. Furthermore, and for what actually
matters, on a more critical level I still find “Dancing King” very impressive.
It truly is well composed and produced, as this review will hopefully explain.
After all, the point of music reviews is to dive into those deeper components
and to then create a room for discussion via disagreeing and agreeing.

Enough said, let us take a look at
the dancing kings’ song.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(5.75/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 6/10
(6.33/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Pre-Chorus: 8/10

3.     Verse: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Hey hey hey hey
Hey hey hey hey
Hey hey hey hey

My heart is beating from the hot rhythm
My heart is heating up right now
Come on, shake it, wake up your instinct
Before this moment is over
Ayaya, tonight I’m the dancing king
Falling for me
Ayaya, tonight dance with me all night

Oh throwing the boring day far away
Keep the joy that was sleeping inside of me
Hop into here, the magic of rhythm
Señorita, I’ll give you a surprising night
Give yourself to the clumsy gestures
Just get crazy
(Ooh ah, ah, ah, ah, ah)
Feed the fire in your exhausted heart
Let’s dance together, ‘cause tonight

My heart is beating from the hot rhythm
My heart is heating up right now
Come on, shake it, wake up your instinct
Before this moment is over
Ayaya, tonight I’m the dancing king
Falling for me
Ayaya, tonight dance with me all night
(Get ready)

[Instrumental]

When you want to forget all annoying things
Don’t worry, you can just come to me
Yeah Mambo, Tango, Rumba, Samba
Tell me whatever it is, buona sera
I’ll invite you to a wonderful world
Give yourself to the clumsy gestures
Just get crazy
(Ooh ah, ah, ah, ah, ah)
Just for this time, forget everything
Let’s dance together, ’cause tonight

My heart is beating from the hot rhythm
(Don’t hesitate)
My heart is heating up right now
(Heating up)
Come on, shake it
Wake up your instinct
(Shake it together)
Before this moment is over
(Oh yeah)
Ayaya, tonight I’m the dancing king
Falling for me
Ayaya, tonight dance with me all night

Shake it to the left, now shake it to the right
Until the moonset, don’t stop yourself
Shake your body, oh my, dancing all night
Blinded by you, I can’t let you go

We only live once anyway
Shall we run to that end over there?
Come on, shake it, wake up your instinct
We’re happy like this right now
Ayaya, tonight I’m the dancing king
Falling for me
Ayaya, tonight dance with me all night
(Get ready)

[Instrumental]

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
Perhaps my praise is misguiding; readers might have expected an above average
rating (seven) but instead it is a six.

For
what is ultimately the song’s biggest strength, the setup for the choruses—the instrumental
break/solo—is fantastic. Statistically, this is seen in the pre-choruses’
score, but I encourage readers to be analytical versus merely observational.
The “setup” I refer to is not just the pre-choruses but also, counter-intuitively,
the verses. The verses being merely average is what provides a foundational
start for the pre-choruses: contrast is able to be manipulated. With the verses
carrying minimal significance, the change to the pre-choruses’ playful and
tuneful vocals along with the suiting instrumental makes that very transition—that
contrast—quite contrasting, but all in a controlled and positive manner. The result,
then, is that the pre-choruses seemingly sound
extraordinarily more amped and vocally intensive. In reality is it the contrast—going
from an indistinctive verse to an exciting pre-chorus—that is at play, but
nonetheless, this composition decision is admirable.

Additionally,
for another excellent point and one that allows me to both biasedly and
critically enjoy the “bass-drop” or “instrumental break/solo”—in other words, the
choruses—is how the very choruses sound. Unlike many other songs where these
instrumental solos are roughly inserted into songs and sound awfully chaotic, “Dancing
King” mediates it quite well. For one, during the first verse, the instrumental
solo is actually playing. Although this seems minor, doing so eases the
incoming instrumental solo—this being quite important to keep these solos from
becoming chaotic or unexpected. Now when it comes to the choruses themselves
where the instrumental solo does occur, there is another reason for why it is
appropriately managed: the instrumental itself is scaled to fit the song. The
tempo did not suddenly multiply nor are there random, blasts of electronic
noises. Indeed, “Dancing King” ‘s instrumental solo is at most a funkier moment
if I may say so, but all in all it maintains a suiting, controlled sound.

Even
with these praises, though, there are still downsides to the song that I will
cover. Marginal critiques would be that the vocals are, while decent, nothing
beyond that; the vocals at certain sections—examples being the verses and
bridge—provide a sufficient role but do not go to the extent of surprising me
via vocal belts, very smooth and pacifying tunes, and the like. On that note,
the verses and bridges were partially lackluster and rendered average due to
moreover continuing the song versus leaving noticeable appeals. Finally, what
perhaps holds the rating back by a decent portion would be the lyrics: lyrics
that simply focus on letting loose and dancing. Certainly the message is one
that should be cherished and very much so as an important aspect of living is
to in fact live, but with applying my
criteria equally for all reviews—in other words judging how unique the lyrics’
plot is and how diverse and thorough the lyrics’ details are—the lyrics come
short.

“Dancing
King” is one of the few songs where, as stated earlier, I can openly say I
enjoy it biasedly and seriously despite its style being one that normally
deters me. It is not the strongest song per se, but indeed it is a decent one
and perhaps one that many would enjoy for the purposes of having an upbeat,
EDM-club song. In the end, I greatly applaud the coordinated use of the
pre-choruses and how properly managed the choruses/instrumental solos are. I
would be even more allured to the song if its lyrics contained more depth and
if the vocals and specific sections were slightly more refined, but overall, “Dancing
King” is very much an enjoyable song.

_______________________________________________________

Because
writing three essays was not enough for me in the past few days, I will add
this review to the writing batch. All is well, however, and after watching and
listening to all of the recent comebacks occurring, I could not help but to
finish up this review. 2PM and Infinite are next, and afterwards I will focus
on either Jieun or MAMAMOO—it all depends on whether I wish to please or anger
fans. To leak my message, reviewing Jieun would lead to many praises, and when
it comes to MAMAMOO’s recent song, as much as I love the ladies, I am
incredibly disappointed. All will eventually be reviewed, however. (And of
course Apink and Hyuna will be included.)

Until
the next review comes, “Let’s dance together.” Thank you to all for reading
this any length. Expect 2PM and Infinite to both have their reviews published
around the same time.

Red Velvet – “Russian Roulette” Review

Red Velvet – Russian Roulette (Music Video)

Red Velvet – Russian Roulette (Live Performance)

Red Velvet – Russian
Roulette

Reviewed
on September 23, 2016

In other words, it is the
catchiness to “Russian Roulette” that arguably covers its actual stale sound.
After all, robotic or not, the “b-b-b-beat” is delightful to listen to; very
few can help but admire how sweet and swift those catchy phrases sound. Yet,
that is—from my personal argument—a faulty reason to use for persuading someone
that “Russian Roulette” is a stronger song.

Personal Message:
Edit: This review was essentially written before the prior
one
and thus, a lot of the references may seem “out-of-date.”

Although it has not been too long
since the last review, I still want to apologize for not having a more
consistent schedule and for how reviews are now extremely brief. Again, with
university work I am incredibly busy and more so as many of my classes are
rather rigorous this semester. Unfortunately, though, I am now running into a
paradoxical situation: I avoid reviews so that I have sufficient time for work,
but now I am becoming rather stressed as reviews tend to be my stress-relieving
outlet and yet if I write reviews I will also be stressed for not having enough
time. Now what is the point of this rant? To share university life with
readers.

On a more serious note and for
technical updates, despite how busy I am I still very much expect this month to
reach the goal of six to eight reviews. How this will be possible is, despite
my own philosophy of thoroughly deconstructing songs, reviews will now be very
concise and focus moreover on critical points I find. In other words, although
recent reviews became much more brief (and rightfully so) than older reviews, I
still did attempt to cover the breadth of a song via analyzing all of its
categories (lyrics, vocals, etc.); the change, then, was I had a more
appropriate and modest amount of depth. But with my strict school schedule now,
I have little choice but to remove breadth and instead go for depth (in its
current degree) in terms of whatever I deem appropriate.

For example, in GFriend’s “Navillera” review (and indeed this song is very much
my all-time favorite), while the depth has been far reduced from past reviews,
I still covered breadth in terms of how I covered all of the categories. Now,
if I were to re-write that review, I would actually dismiss discussing certain
categories such as the lyrics. This is not to say I will remove the categories
I do not write about; the scoring will remain as is, instead it is merely a
change in discussion and writing. And so what will be the predicted result of
this change? Besides nearly drifting away from a systematic writing of reviews,
reviews might only be two to three paragraphs versus the usual seven or eight.
Most desirable from this is all would be that reviews are a lot more common; after
all, if I only need to discuss what I find are “controversial” points in a song,
I can go in depth on that and then proceed to the next. The only time reviews
would be lengthy, then, is that there are multiple points that require
discussion or that there is a social tangent that would be necessary to
discuss—an example being Hyuna’s “How’s This?” as musically and socially, my
words may be rather controversial. (And yes, it is the next review.)

Clarifications aside, let us dive
into Red Velvet’s latest comeback: “Russian Roulette.” In truth, I am surprised
that this will be the first review on the ladies as they are extremely popular,
and furthermore, that their prior comebacks would have been enticing reviews in
the sense of them causing controversy. Admittedly, I have found many of Red
Velvet’s song to be weaker, but rather than being deterred from reviewing them,
this reason would have provided motivation. After all, the point of my reviews
is to instill critical discussions, and indeed giving a song a lower rating
would, hopefully, cause a level of deeper engagement. Specifically focusing on
“Russian Roulette,” though, many might now be curious on my take to it—both
serious and personal. On a personal level, as mentioned before, this is the
first song by Red Velvet that I enjoy. However, when it comes to a more
critical approach, although the overall score is decent, there are some
overarching flaws that exist. That said, with a lethal game of chance
(referring to Russian Roulette—it is not just a song name), let us take a look
at where Red Velvet gets shot, and of course, where they avoid that fate.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 5/10


Sections: 5/10
(4.50/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Bridge: 4/10

6.     Conclusion: 3/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 5/10

La-la-la-la-la

Surrounded by a sharp secret
Behind a veil
Deeper and deeper, h-h-hush
Aiming for your heart now
This place is the color of a dark night
Even the shadows get lost

Oh you’re always like, “love is game”
You say it’s light and easily enjoyed
Why do you keep saying these bad things
Trying to avoid me?

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
Not like you, heart b-b-b-beat
Whenever you see me
Until the very last moment
It comes closer and closer, crazy
The risky aim, Russian Roulette
Ah-ah-ah-yeah
La-la-la-la-la
(You’re already)
Heart b-b-b-beat
Until the very last moment
You’ll have to trust me
I’m your sweet Russian Roulette

A dazzling secret
You can’t turn away from it anymore
I’ll p-p-push your button
Accept it now
So your heart can be filled with me
You’ll look for me even when you’re dreaming

Oh you still say, “love is game”
You tell me but your voice is shaking
Past the playful eyes
I see you, not knowing what to do

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
Not like you, heart b-b-b-beat
Whenever you see me
Until the very last moment
It comes closer and closer, crazy
The risky aim, Russian Roulette
Ah-ah-ah-yeah
La-la-la-la-la
(You’re already)
Heart b-b-b-beat
Until the very last moment
You’ll have to trust me
I’m your sweet Russian Roulette

You never had this deep of a dream before
My heart and this night makes this game flicker
You can’t control-l-l-l-l

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
About to explode, heart b-b-b-beat
I’ll hold onto the key
Until the very last moment
It comes closer and closer, crazy
The risky aim, Russian Roulette
Ah-ah-ah-yeah
La-la-la-la-la
(You’re already)
Heart b-b-b-beat
It’s already engraved in you, can’t take it out
Deeper in your heart
I’m your sweet Russian Roulette

Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
La-la-la-la-la
Growing heart b-b-beat
It’s getting faster
La-la-la-la-la
Heart b-b-b-beat

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: This
is completely off-topic, but after truly watching the music video and not just
purely focusing on the audio, the music video is a rather brutal one to put
simply. Perhaps the saying of “last woman standing” resonates here—or that
competition can kill friendships. Literally. Nonetheless, I personally find the
music video very witty and creative.

On
topic and onto the song review, first
to clarify, this song is certainly far from “bad”; a simple glance at the
overall rating reveals a five—average. However, I predict many readers disagreeing:
“Russian Roulette” should be rated much higher. After all, supposedly it is the
group’s best release and it has extremely catchy vocals, instrumental,
sections, and so forth. That said, and for where I wish to guide this review, I
disagree on a specific premise: using “catchiness” as a positive trait. It is
this assumption—the assumption that “catchiness” is a strength to songs—that I
will challenge, and with doing so, I hope it reveals that—while indeed the song
is the “catchiest” I have heard—“Russian Roulette” is merely average.

Beginning
with the vocals, on the surface it appears enticing: the melody is playful and
highly dynamic; there is variety when considering the changing tunes, pacing,
and intensity; and overall, that the repetitions of “b-b-b-beat” and others are
simply “catchy.” However, although the vocals are indeed diverse mechanically,
I will argue that the sound of the
vocals is not. The reason for that is in an earlier idea: catchiness. The parts
that are catchy are the moments that tend to repeat fun, light sounds, but on a
more critical view, one should realize the sound involved: robotic, simpler
ones. This, unfortunately, spans across the song in its entirety and is why the
vocals (and others) are rated at average. Yes, with the vocals, I applaud the
variety used mechanically—the various melodies, pacing, intensity—but overall,
there is a noticeable robotic sound to the vocals. Even with different tunes
such as comparing how the choruses sound different from the verses, the main
sound is still reminiscent of a robotic-like one. All this, though, is for the
purpose of catchiness; indeed, it is hard to deny that the vocals and
instrumental are not fun and enjoyable. But, if we strip away from that and
look in a more overarching yet deeper scale, the sounds are reduced to nothing
spectacular.

That
very notion is why I find “Russian Roulette,” while not necessarily bad, not
necessarily strong. The vocals, even if diverse, still contain a robotic and
dull sound. Equally at fault, the instrumental follows suit: solid in
accommodating the vocals and shifting intensities, but ultimately still lacking
as it is, perhaps quite literally, sounds of beeps and boops—sounds of a robot.
And as such, with considering how the sections play out, the song in whole may
retain an extremely fun and upbeat nature, but overall the sections lack
sonically due to the stale vocals and instrumental, and that the sections’
individual structures are nothing distinctive.

In
other words, it is the catchiness to “Russian Roulette” that arguably covers
its actual stale sound. After all, robotic or not, the “b-b-b-beat” is
delightful to listen to; very few can help but admire how sweet and swift those
catchy phrases sound. Yet, that is—from my personal argument—a faulty reason to
use for persuading someone that “Russian Roulette” is a stronger song.
Catchiness is, after all and boldly said, much easier to replicate and
captivate with than other song qualities that should be respected. Of course,
though, this is not to say Red Velvet themselves lack skills or that, once
again, “Russian Roulette” is a bad song. The ladies are very much skilled
singers and with their recent song, the argument I propose is that it is
seemingly a better song than it genuinely is. In other words, “Russian
Roulette” has a mask one: on the superficial level, it appears to be a very
well composed song, but underneath, I argue that it is only average if we are
more critical of its use of “catchiness.” Nevertheless, to end on a positive
note, while “Russian Roulette” is an average song, I still agree with those who
say it is Red Velvet’s best release as of yet and I look forward to their
future releases.

_______________________________________________________

Before
housekeeping news is delivered, I do apologize for being slower than usual. As
one can tell, I am extremely busy with university. For the upcoming reviews, three
male groups are planned and if I am dedicated I hope to write two of those
reviews by today. (I expect needing only one paragraph to review two of those
groups.) Afterwards, Hyuna and MAMAMOO will receive spotlight. And yes, a
social digression will occur with Hyuna’s review as it is germane to both the review
and many current discussions. As per usual, I will focus on complexities of the
topic rather than necessarily persuading readers—though I will clarify some misunderstandings that
occur within the topic. What exactly is the topic? Next week is when I plan to
write the review so look forward to it then.

Thank
you to all for being patient and reading this review in any form. 2PM and
Infinite are the next reviewed groups. Until then, “You’ll have to trust me / I’m
your sweet Russian Roulette.” And no, do not interpret this as a threat through chance.

Yuri x Seohyun – “Secret” Review

Yuri x Seohyun – Secret (Music Video)

Yuri (Girls’ Generation) x Seohyun (Girls’
Generation) – S
ecret

Reviewed
on August 20, 2016

This is ultimately why “Secret” is
potentially held back: it lacks extra qualities that make it distinct from
being another generic EDM song. Certainly it does have interesting points as
discussed in the pre-choruses, but with those parts the execution does come
short.

Personal Message:
I am currently reviewing Stellar’s “Crying,”
but indeed I am taking a temporary pause on it to write the current review as
it is a rather highly debated one in terms of song quality. With this song to
clarify, while many fans are considering it a sub-unit of Girls’ Generation—and
certainly in many ways it technically is one—this song is not officially that; “Secret”
by Yuri and Seohyun is simply a song for an upcoming commercial by Pantene, a company
focused on hair-related products. Nevertheless, fans and viewers are certainly correct
that “Secret” provides a glimpse at a potential, official sub-unit by the two
ladies. Would it ever happen? Given that a foundation now exists, it might be
possible but of course no one but SM Entertainment will know.

On topic for why I have been greatly
motivated to review this song—after all, as said, I am halting another review
for this one—it is due to the overwhelming debate of where this song stands. As
of now, there appears to be quite a range of stances: those who claim this song
is utterly fantastic, and those who claim this song is utterly horrendous. For
where this review will take readers, I hope to showcase that—akin to social
topics—songs can be very complex. What is the secret? Simple: this song is both strong and weak—and that because the
ladies are endorsing Pantene there is a subtle message that the “secret” for men
and women to have good hair is to buy and use their shampoo. I am obviously
joking with the latter statement, though it arguably is true if we consider the
purposes of idols endorsing products beyond the context of just money for
idols.

And this would lead to an
interesting ethical discussion on whether endorsement carries unintended
negative outcomes and if so what are idols’ responsibilities, but we will save
this for another time. Addressing this briefly, as I urge readers on this blog
to be, applying critical thinking is always necessary and in this case, just
because Yuri and Seohyun endorse Pantene does not mean they themselves necessarily endorse the company. One should always do
personal, thorough researching along with critically challenging potential
subtle messages said when it comes to idols’ endorsements. With this aside and
my personal orders of Pantene shampoos coming in soon since my hair will obviously
now be as majestic as Yuri’s and Seohyun’s hair if I use this endorsed product,
let us focus on the more serious matter. Where does “Secret” stand? Is it a
song where, given its style, its current polar views are unavoidable? Or is
there, perhaps, a middle-ground despite it all? For what I hope to bring into
the current discussions, I will argue the latter: that “Secret” is arguably in
the middle—average, to be specific.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 4/10
(4.17/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 4/10

4.     Chorus: 2/10

5.     Bridge: 4/10

6.     Conclusion: 3/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 4/10

A secret to make your heart tremble
(Only I know)
A secret that has a slight feeling
My little, shh
Little secret

Even if we stay up all night
I won’t tell you
Only I know
I hide myself among the crowd
But you always find me in the end

Look up and down
Look back
But this scent continues
The closer you walk to me
Hidden in my heart, my little secret
A little secret that I want to keep to myself
Will you whisper to me, my little secret?
A little secret that will make you shine like me
(Don’t ever tell)

[Instrumental]

Be confident
Be prepared to look better
It’s not hard
Somewhere, somehow, I shine
As if I’m hiding something special

The eyes on me have grown
It’s always overflowing
So I confidently enjoyed it even more
But why do you, that’s all there is to see?
Hidden in my heart, my little secret
A little secret that I want to keep to myself
Will you whisper to me, my little secret?
A little secret that will make you shine like me
(Without you knowing)

Come come come away
In that short time
It’s a secret that will make you change (shh)
Come come come away (come on)
While everyone’s asleep (suddenly)
A secret that will make you dazzle more

Should I just tell you?
You’ll be surprised
Can you follow me?
I’m pulling you
It’s a party you’ve dreamed of
In it, it’s me and you

Hidden in my heart, my little secret
A little secret that I want to keep to myself
Will you whisper to me, my little secret?
A little secret that will make you shine like me
(Without you knowing)

Come come come away
In that short time
It’s a secret that will make you change (shh)
Come come come away (come on)
While everyone’s asleep (suddenly)
A secret that will make you dazzle more
Come come come away
In that short time
It’s a secret that will make you change (shh)
Come come come away (come on)
While everyone’s asleep (suddenly)
A secret that will make you dazzle more

(No one will know)
(Little secret, shh)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Before
beginning as a note, since this review should have been appropriately queued
and not cutting ahead of Stellar’s review, I will not go in as much depth so
that Stellar’s review can be finished in time.

On
topic, one of the more fundamental flaws of current arguments about this song is
the overly emphasized critiques toward its style than its actual execution. For
example, many have been saying the EDM genre of “Secret” is completely
unfitting and thus the song itself is weak. Conversely, many have been praising
the EDM take as the positive point and claiming the song is strong due to that.
However, while to some extent stylistic-focused critiques can be viable at
times, in many cases and such as the mentioned ones, these are too superficial
to be used. It is not about the content
itself, but it is about the delivery
of the content—the execution, if that
is clearer. To use an example, how the choruses flow and sound in “Secret” is its
content; these simply exist as is and form the overall tone and style to the
song. Where delivery comes in is when one listens to the sounds and attempts to
understand the intricacies involved: how does the chorus fit in the entirety of
the song; is the chorus’ structure in conflict or in match with the rest of the
song; are the choruses properly transitioned to as to not be abrupt or overly
predictable; and so forth. If we are to critique content in of itself that
leads to the issue of pure subjectivity: what I like and dislike when it comes to how a song simply sounds. Moving the focus to delivery is
still subjective as what one deems a “good” execution is in fact subjective,
but it does dive deeper as it now involves asking why the effects of the
style and sound matter, not whether one simply likes or dislikes the style and
sounds involved.

Hopefully
with that covered, for actually reviewing the song, the song predominantly lacks
in its sections and lyrics. Regarding the lyrics, many lines and details are
repeated excessively and thus, a loss of variety in this case translates to a
loss of appeal. Furthermore, however, the plot—while mysteriously enticing—is highly
undeveloped. Combining both of these factors and the lyrics now score slightly
below average. Now with the sections, “Secret” does heavily lack in this
regard. Worse, though, is that the weaknesses here have an effect on the
vocals. After all, the vocals in the song are not, in of themselves, problematic
at all. Both Yuri’s and Seohyun’s singing are tuneful, diverse in pacing and
pitches and even style. The issues, then, is with how the sections construe the
vocals: requiring extremely repetitive, dull vocals such as at the choruses in
order to keep the song cohesive and organized. Further explaining this, during
the choruses the instrumental and section are structured in a specific way so
that the current vocals are suiting to it—even if, sonically, the vocals are
very redundant. But, unfortunately, this is necessary as any other type of
singing would cause heavy conflicting and that is far more undesirable than its
current state. With all of this, let us focus a bit more on the sections.

While
the introduction and verses suffice, the rest do not. With the pre-choruses,
even if there is a peculiar yet creative take of merging a vocal-orientated half
followed by a whispering, slower half, it is inefficient for its role and hence
the lower the score. While it is not impossible to combine those two styles
into a single pre-chorus, how the song delivered it is simply redundant: the
first half of the pre-choruses could transition the song to the choruses, but
instead it transitions it to a figurative second pre-chorus. One, consistent
form would have been more organized. Furthermore, along with sounding sonically
weaker, the whispering portion will be a trait that becomes overly used, as
heard in the choruses. And on that note, for the rest of the sections, the main
downfall to them all is excessive repetition. This is ultimately why “Secret”
is potentially held back: it lacks extra qualities that make it distinct from
being another generic EDM song. Certainly it does have interesting points as
discussed in the pre-choruses, but with those parts the execution does come
short.

All
in all, “Secret” is a song that mainly suffers due to its tedious structuring.
In of itself, the sounds to it are appealing: the heavy bass instrumental with
spikes of various electronic noises combined with vocals that shift between
tuneful singing and passive whispers can indeed lead to a solid song. However,
with how “Secret” fails to execute said variety, it all almost no longer
matters. The vocals’ shifting styles are hard to appreciate when both are
predictably switched and from there excessively used in a single duration. Likewise,
the instrumental is hard to appreciate when the flow to the song itself is
already emulating a heavy bass line—specifically, that there is little
variations throughout. And so, where does lead “Secret”? Although I oftentimes
end up biasedly disagreeing with my own review’s ratings, in this case I do
agree to it: average. This song is average; it is neither strong nor weak. “Secret”
possesses strengths in the vocals, but its sections—its structuring—is where
the song lacks in pushing beyond a generic form and sound.

_______________________________________________________

This
might be the fastest I have yet to review a song, but because of that I will
also hastily review another song I had in mind: EXO’S “Lotto.” Again, to
clarify, this review is not meant to provide a more objective take to the song
per se, but instead it is intended to merely provide another view to the
current discussion of Yuri’s and Seohyun’s “Secret.” As always, thank you for
reading or skimming the review, and as mentioned look forward to Stellar’s “Crying”
which should come out today or by tomorrow depending on if I decide to write a
review for EXO’s “Lotto.”

NCT 127 – “Fire Truck” Review

NCT
127 – Fire Truck (Dance Version)

NCT 127 – Fire Truck

Reviewed
on July 15, 2016

Personal Message:
Since I am behind schedule for July,
I will attempt my best to compensate through covering the many comebacks that
are here. Personally, I have yet to see this many comebacks in such a short
time frame, but this summer indeed is filled with many artists releasing new
songs. A bonus exists as well: many of these comebacks are more accurately
labeled as debuts rather than
comebacks as the latter implies an artist returning when, quite clearly, that
is not the case. Either way, there are both comebacks and debuts. I will do my
best to cover as many as possible (and including a recent request). Now before
hopping into NCT 127’s review, to address the prior one, I am surprised: the last review is
being perceived quite well. But of course, many readers are respectful and read
reviews not as reassurance that their favorite group/artist is holding well,
but rather as a way to join into (hopefully) thoughtful discussions. As such, I
cannot be too shocked. On the other hand, now, when it comes to NCT 127 I will
say I am completely shocked—or at least, confused. NCT 127 is a group, but if
being specific the men are actually in a sub-unit. However, for where this
becomes complex, the “main” group, NCT, is not so much a group as much as a
headquarter. Let us spend some time clarifying this.

So, NCT is technically a group that
contains all of the members—and indeed, there are many members. I am referring to more than even SEVENTEEN’s group
size, for example. But even then, NCT is not meant to perform as much as to
provide an overarching roster for the members. From there, then, are sub-units
made and of which are the ones who actually perform. For example, there is NCT U
from what I heard. In our case, we will be focusing on NCT 127, but again this
is merely to explain what is simply going on with NCT and people referring to
them as sub-units and so forth. The purpose behind this is to encourage a
dynamic, open system which then translates to very unique songs—such as “Fire
Truck,” as we will cover. Essentially, there are no binding contracts and
members are free to leave and stay as they please. Furthermore, NCT is not
solely based in South Korea but additionally in other countries, such as Japan
and China. Overall, with a diverse group of members (both socially and
musically) and freedom to move around, this allows NCT members to take major
risks with their songs. And as covered in the linked review of Oh My Girl’s
“Windy Day,” taking risks is far from bad at all; taking risks is a way to
improve and to deliver utterly new perspectives. As always, though, if readers
have a better understanding of NCT’s system, I would be grateful for any
clarifications and additions.

Finally focusing on the review
itself, coincidentally the mentioned previous review suits this current one
quite well. In fact, too well. Should my predictions be correct, this review
will most likely be controversial, and specifically in the area of music and
not that of social topic discussions. However, homogenous to Oh My Girl’s
“Windy Day,” many of the same discussion points discussed there applies here.
Thus, I do recommend that fans of NCT 127 read the Personal Message in the past
review as to get an idea. In summary: a poorer score does not mean a
group/artist lacks in skill and competence. Far from it. What is most likely
the case, and specifically here is
the case, is a group taking significant risks to challenge the general trends
of songs. With “Fire Truck,” I very much admire the group and producer(s) for
attempting to deviate away from usual ideas of K-Pop songs. Even if the song greatly
falters due to lacking in the delivery of a creative idea, the men of NCT 127
definitely deserve much respect and encouragement. After all, to use cliché
sayings, it takes many tries before baking the perfect cake. You might now
claim I made that up, so in that case, I will also say: it takes many tries
before a man or woman finally perfectly applies eyeliner. Point is, songs that
are very unique and different—though respect is deserved for the
risk-taking—will need many trials before a more polished one arrives.

And so, for the takeaway idea,
rather than becoming defensive and denying all of the following critiques, I
encourage the opposite: having an open, critical mind that will join the
discussion. Disagreeing is vastly different from defensiveness—the former is
what I am looking for. And of course, agreeing can occur, but even so retaining
a critical mindset of asking why is
of utmost importance. With all of this covered, let us take a look as to why
“Fire Truck” is admittedly one of the weaker—if not, bluntly said, one of the
worst—songs I have heard. Absolutely NCT 127 has potential and skills on their
own, but when it comes to showcasing said abilities, “Fire Truck” does not
deliver justice. An ambulance will be necessary.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 4/10
(3.80/10 raw score) – “Slightly below average”


Vocals: 2/10


Sections: 3/10
(2.83/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
2/10

2.     Rap: 4/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 2/10

4.     Chorus: 2/10

5.     Bridge: 4/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 3/10


Instrumental: 2/10


Section Distribution: 9/10

Taeil:
Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Bridge (Total: 3)

Taeyong:
Rap, Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus (Total: 3)

Yuta:
Pre-Chorus, Rap, Pre-Chorus (Total: 3)

Jaehyun:
Rap, Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus (Total: 3)

Winwin:
Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus (Total: 2)

Mark:
Pre-Chorus, Rap, Pre-Chorus (Total: 3)

Haechan:
Pre-Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Bridge (Total: 3)

All: Introduction, Chorus, Chorus,
Conclusion (Chorus)

Equal Value: 2.85 sections per member.


Lyrics: 3/10

Get it lifted
Fire truck

Where are you looking at, Mr. Fireman on the floor?
Let’s make a fire, I’ll cool down this heat
This place is getting hotter and hotter
Here is full of dissatisfaction
My feeling from that siren is, um
Don’t be shy (like this)
Lukewarm atmosphere, no thanks
My burning shaking backseat
After burning we get it all clear

Ey ye ye ye ye
Hands up if you feeling the vibe now
Ey ye ye ye ye
One step two steps
Tonight, you and I, and everyone will fall in here
A running fire truck at anytime
You can call me (anytime)
Move your body, pick it up
Shake just as you feel
Shout out loud at the moment of the peak
Fire truck

Woot
Woot woot woot

Yeah
Be anywhere, everywhere
You can just call me
Look at, look at how
It’s like a small playing with fire
It shows up when it is “bling”
Just blink for me
I’ll cool your anger down
Just hold up
You can get hurt if you keep pushing, get higher
The atmosphere is so hot like a rocket
Just ten seconds left till it explodes

Ey ye ye ye ye
Hands up if you feeling the vibe now
Ey ye ye ye ye
One step two steps
This thrilling music is burning your heart
Shout out “fire truck”
It can go anywhere
Turn it up to the maximum volume
Shake to the rhythm
Shout out loud at the moment of the peak
Fire truck

Ey ye ye ye
Ey ye ye ye
Fire truck
Fire truck

Don’t stop till the sun rises
Turn it up to the maximum volume
(Turn it up to the maximum volume)
All right
Put everything on this music
Dance my party people

Fire truck
Fire truck
Fire truck
Fire truck
Fire truck
Fire truck

Choreography Score: 6/10 (5.50/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 5/10

– Key Points: 6/10

Overall Score: 5/10
(5.00/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: “Slightly
below average” is a very generous outcome given that one of the categories
managed to cloak the major shortcomings of every other category. That said, to
be optimistic with praising the stronger point of the song, the section
distribution is quite admirable. As seen, the distribution is as equal as it
could get, hence a nine. Should every member have the exact number of sections, a ten would have been earned. But
nevertheless, the group is indeed as equal as possible with the share and given
there are seven members, it is a feat worth respecting. Unfortunately,
everything from here onwards falters.

With
the lyrics for example, although from a superficial analysis the lyrics do
appear as very thorough, that is not the case. For one, the plot is the
opposite; rather than claiming that a storyline is involved (and I am excluding
symbolic points and focusing on the direct layer as, clearly, symbolic
interpretations are based per person’s take), the lyrics predominantly consist
of “fun” ones—lyrics that are for simply jamming out, as noticed by lines of “Hands
up if you feeling the vibe now” or “Move your body, pick it up / Shake just as
you feel.” Additionally, for another superficial aspect that can be looked
over, the lyrics are not as detailed as they appear. The raps are arguably the
only sections with filled with more complex lyrics, but everything else—the
chorus, pre-chorus, and bridge—are lacking in substance. Lines such as the ones
above or the ones in the bridge are examples of lyrics that, while adequately
fulfilling the song, provide little actual meaning to the plot of “Fire Truck.”
And of course, as discussed above, the plot is already weak in of itself. Thus,
with both of these points combined—weaker details and plot—the score comes down
to a three for below average.

Regarding
the vocals and instrumental, both scores will be explained alongside—a less
common format in comparison to nearly every other review I have written. As for
why I am doing so, this is a unique situation in which both will receive
identical critiques: being overly disorganized. Now admittedly this critiquing point
does run the risk of judging style moreover than quality, but with the
following I do hope to showcase why it is moreover the latter than the former.
(But of course, readers should be actively engaging with this review and thus,
disagreeing is encouraged.) For example, readers may believe I am penalizing
the song due to it lacking calm, tuneful singing. However, that is not the
case. Rather than me criticizing the style of the vocals, I am instead focusing
on how the given styles affect the
song in both large and minor scales. Let us begin breaking down the vocals for
this to make sense.

First,
the rapping vocals are adequate and likewise the singing that appears in the
bridge. Both vocal forms in the two sections help fulfill their purposes. For
example, the vocals in the rap are orientated towards being lower noted as to
help ease listeners into the song and that the raps are a starting point for
the song to then progress from. Similarly, the bridge’s lighter pitch and even
note holds—besides sounding decent from a pure sonic perspective—aids with forming
the traditional bridge style of giving “Fire Truck” a break. Now, for where the
vocals greatly falter then, it is elsewhere. The pre-choruses’ vocals come off
as exceptionally repetitive and lifeless—these two being highly contrasting
points to the rapping vocals. It also does not help that the lyrics themselves further
accumulate the staleness that occurs: vocals that are already plain are now
coupled by equally plain lyrics. Continuing on within the pre-chorus, the
vocals weaken even further: the moreover obnoxious vocals join in. Sure, this
may finally break apart the monotonous vocals that existed prior, but with this
having minimal connections—if at all any—to the prior vocals, the
singing/rapping become extremely chaotic. Overall, to summarize this all, the
vocals ultimately suffer due to a lack of cohesion. The raps’ vocals are
heavily contrasting to the pre-choruses’ vocals—and of which are already
conflicted themselves. Factor in the bridge and even the choruses and this
problem is further expanded. For other minor yet still relevant issues with the
vocals, besides the vocals lack of coordination, many are already insufficient.
The choruses’ “fire truck” singing are nothing noteworthy, and likewise the
pre-choruses’ vocals are ones to dismiss. As stated earlier, solely the raps’
and bridge’s vocals are worth attention, and even then much more is desired.

All
that said, while “Fire Truck” ‘s style may be wanted as the blame, it should be
noted that chaotic vocal styles are not always bad. In fact, one song in mind
perfectly executes this: BTS’ “Fun Boys.” Both songs, “Fun Boys” and “Fire
Truck” follow similar styles, but where the former greatly exceeds is in how
the vocals all relate to one another, and that variety is included so that the
song is not limited to merely repeating single, plain phrases. Regarding the
instrumental, as stated earlier the same critiques follow through: a weaker
sound in of itself, but more importantly that the instrumental lacks in bringing
the song together in a cohesive yet unrestricted way. Again, the style to “Fire
Truck” is not inherently bad; what matters more is the execution, and sadly
that is what lacks here.

Finally
to discuss the sections, the vocals category miraculously indirectly covered
this aspect. The rapping and bridge, as discussed, are not at the most
desirable standards but are by far ahead of the rest in both structure and
sound. As for the pre-chorus, its highly conflicting structure and lack of
enticing vocals lower its score. Predictably, the chorus is in a similar
situation as the instrumental solo that occurs already languishes sonically,
but likewise structurally with being excessively repetitive and dull. Optimistically,
despite the chorus scoring poorly, the conclusion scores slightly higher—even if
it is a recycled chorus. Reason being is that the chorus provides an excellent
ending as it is neither abrupt nor short, and that it captures the main core of
“Fire Truck.” Where it does lack, however, is that the choruses are already a
weaker point to begin with.

In
the end, one could argue I am biased towards this style of songs, but as I have
said before, I do hope the argument points dive beyond merely “I just don’t
like this.” Where “Fire Truck” mainly goes awry is in one word: disorganized.
Should there have been slightly more cohesion all while maintaining the fun,
free and upbeat style, this song could have excelled. After all, “purposeful
chaos”—akin to say, using controlled fire burns during forest fires—can be very
effective and, if delivered well, can grant one of the most unique yet alluring
songs. Once again, if readers are curious as to what an excellently “disorganized
cohesion” song could sound like, I recommend BTS’ “Fun Boys.” Biasedly, I do
dread the style, but every time I hear “Fun Boys” I have no choice but to
respect the production of the song. With NCT 127’s “Fire Truck,” sadly the men
fall short in terms of keeping the song bounded together—all while still
letting it have its open, fun style. And for a final point, I do hope readers
remember that music reviews are not meant to assert a stable, permanent
rendering of a song’s quality. Music reviews, instead, are meant to provide
discussions; music reviews exist to initiate a new take, to defend or challenge
a held view, and so forth. Therefore, should NCT 127 fans be upset, I would
challenge fans to go beyond that: disagree
with the review versus solely being defensive or allowing this to go by. Engaging
in that critical thinking and mindset are what reviews about and why I continue
to write them. (And likewise for why I add in social digressions; I hope to
engage readers in critical thinking in both realms of music and social as both
are intertwined with K-Pop.)

Ending
this review, while NCT 127 sadly comes short with “Fire Truck,”  I still do look forward to the group. Why?
Because NCT 127 and their producer(s) are not afraid to take risks; the men are
not held back by ideas of traditional song styles and so forth. I look forward
to whatever else the men may innovate, be it a song that incorporates ballad
and hip-hop, pop and EDM, and so on. There is no restriction for them.

_______________________________________________________

Before
anything else: huge apologies for this review’s delay. Admittedly, I have
recently become a fan of, once again, another group. Who are they? Although I
wanted to keep it a secret for an upcoming review, it is none other than
GFriend. Though I have been keeping my ears out for them especially after “Rough,”
their latest comeback has biasedly become a hit song for me. “Navillera” might
become my favorite song of all-time, and that is a bit frightening considering
Fiestar’s “You’re Pitiful” has comfortably held that spot for more than a year.
Only until now has a song contested that. But of course, I should clarify that
favorite does not mean best. There are plenty of flaws in Navillera, but given
that I biasedly love it, I do feel the need to review it so that a more
critical lens is applied versus my current delusional ones of assuming it is
the best song I have yet to hear (it is not—though I do predict it scoring
well).

Before
I go off-topic even further, indeed I have become delayed with reviews and even
subtitling as I have spent many questionable hours merely watching GFriend.
Only my girl (a sweet terrier mix) provided the motivation to get off of bed—Venus
needs her daily two-session walks, after all, and to continue learning her
first trick. (While she has her safety commands covered, I am finally now moving
onto actual fun tricks.) On topic, I do greatly apologize nonetheless for
delays. For the upcoming reviews, I have received two requests: Wonder Girls’ “Why
So Lonely” and Miss A’s Fei’s solo debut. I will promptly cover the two, and
then afterwards review two shows I have watched that involved GFriend.
Personally, that sounds like a win-win situation: I get to watch GFriend
knowing that it will serve short bonus reviews. (Emphasis on short, though.)

All
in all, “I’ll cool your anger down” with the reviews that are to come. Thank
you to all for reading this review. Look forward to Wonder Girls’ “Why So
Lonely.”