Eric Nam – “Can’t Help Myself” Review

Eric
Nam – Can’t Help Myself (Music Video)

Eric Nam – Can’t Help Myself (Live
Performance)

Eric Nam (ft. LOCO) – Can’t
Help Myself

Reviewed
on August 16, 2016

Now despite all of Eric’s
charming vocals and excellent section structures and a solid instrumental to
tie it all together, the choruses are the exception to the song’s cohesion. In
short, it simply lacks it.

Personal Message:
Although it has already been roughly
a month since Eric released this song, it is about time I review it. Furthermore,
with the past three reviews being on female groups, sharing the love to male
artists is necessary. And besides, Eric is currently my “man-crush” so this
song was bound to be reviewed. And yes, I am a heterosexual boy who openly says
Eric is my “man-crush.” There is nothing wrong at all, as discussed in multiple
reviews (refer to the much earlier ones for these discussions), with males
being affectionate for other males—or in my case, “fanboying” over male
artists—no matter one’s sexual orientation. After all, Eric is incredibly
precious, and personally when it comes to male role models, he is the man I
strive to be: sweet, soft-spoken, understanding, respectful, loving, easygoing,
hardworking, intelligent, and so forth. He is a true gentleman. (And
admittedly, I have been watching many episodes of Eric and MAMAMOO’s Solar
together on We Got Married.)

Before directly focusing on the
current review, as some readers might have noticed, this blog’s description was
recently changed. A slightly more professional style was my goal. More
importantly, however, the main reason for changing it was not due to the former
reason but instead it was to add key clarifications: what reviews should be
understood as, and likewise what social and ethical discussions should be
understood as. For readers desiring to understand my point, reading the
description should explain said “key clarifications.” Even so, in this current
review, I will explain why I have
added those changes and, for really keen readers who have noticed, why the
occasional social and ethical discussions have dramatically changed in
tone.  

In terms of the simpler explanation,
with song reviews the description now reminds readers that all songs are
subjective and thus, these reviews should never be taken as unequivocal truths.
There are many layers involved with what determines a “good” song and a “bad”
song: one’s own cultural lens, personal preferences, biased feelings toward
artists, and so on. Even if a review minimizes those points as much as
possible—for examples, not favoring artists and looking beyond stylistic traits—there will always still
be some form of subjectivity present. It is simply unavoidable. And so, many
would then wonder why I bother writing reviews if music reviews are inevitably
biased even if one takes many precautionary steps. My answer: for discussions;
for deeper engagement; for taking pop culture songs—songs that are oftentimes
taken at a superficial layer—and applying a critical lens to them, both
musically and socially. The beauty of song reviews are not, in truth, the
reviews themselves; the true charm resides in how the reviews are engaged
with—disagreeing, agreeing, challenging, and so forth.

Switching over to social and ethical
discussions that occur from time to time, this aspect of reviews has only
recently been addressed but it is about time to directly discuss it. I confess:
in many past reviews, these discussions are less of actual discussion and
moreover about persuading or even ranting at times. Furthermore, the most
problematic aspect of these “discussions” was my tone: angry,
passive-aggressive, and overly zealous. Certainly that might have proven
appealing, but it was appealing in emotions versus being intellectually
appealing. To use an example, discussions of gender is a prominent topic on
this blog. Given how it is a subtle yet common topic in K-Pop and knowing I am
privileged as a male and therefore have a social responsibility to discuss
gender (and it is a topic I find myself greatly interested in), these
discussions have become a routine part of the blog. But with that, how I
conducted the discussions in the past was arguably inappropriate.

Oftentimes, even if I would
explicitly say male privilege is what has to be challenged versus males
themselves, the tone of my writing was indeed—even if unintended—antagonizing
to males. And as explained before, that is not the purpose or goal of these
discussions; these social discussions are not to antagonize people but instead
are to provide new insight and to, hopefully, bring in ideas of ethics in
relation to sociology. Questions I hope to pose are, for example, how one
should act given they are privileged in race, gender, sexuality, and so forth.
What is, if any, the ethics involved if one is a heterosexual and yet says
remarks such as “this song is gay” or “that idol has to be a lesbian”? Does
having heterosexual privilege mean one should be wary of what they say? If so,
why and if not, why? How about in cases of needing to intervene or to even care
of LGBT issues when one’s a heterosexual? What is one’s ethical and social role
if a heterosexual? Why? Again: why?

From here on (though this
“correction” began a while back even if subtle), the goal of these social and
ethical discussions are not to say you must
have this certain view, but instead, these discussions are here to ask why you think what you think. While I do
urge readers to care for social topics and that I do cherish ideas of love, compassion,
understanding, and openness and in some ways do hope readers likewise believe
in similar ideas, it is completely unethical for me to force my stances upon
readers as I have done in the past. Besides, there are cases where stances are
varied and difficult. “Double-standards” for example can be quite complex.
Hyuna’s review will discuss this, but with double-standards while I will
clarify huge misconceptions with it (in other words: no, double-standards is not “feminazi” work at all and generally
this idea is the result of not using critical-thinking), there are multiple
ethical sides to double-standards where no choice is clearly “the most ethical
and just.” Even a past review, Fiestar’s “Apple Pie,” is an example of how a social
topic—in that review, the topic of feminism—can be extremely complex and have
no simple, “correct” side.

All in all, I do sincerely apologize
for my prior social discussions that were passive-aggressive in tone and
focused moreover on convincing readers of a certain view rather than allowing
readers to critically think of what they themselves think. Now that said, I do
not apologize per se for certain ideas said—for example, there is a huge ethical issue if one believes
that transgendered people should die, and through critical-thinking, one should
be able to understand why transgendered people deserve humane treatment and
respect—but I simply apologize for the manner
in which I conducted the discussions, manners of being forceful and aggressive.

In other words, and to use an
example, while I do not apologize for my argument of how male privilege allows
me to freely discuss gender while a woman saying the same words as I would be
labeled as a “feminazi,” I do apologize for the unnecessary remarks involved
such as, for made up examples, “because men are nothing more than aggressive
animals” and “anyone who does not agree must be a toxic male.” (Though
privilege jokes will be thrown in at times; I mean given how privileged I am to
be a male, why not poke some fun at it?) Overall, my role is no longer that of
a debater or one of using this blog as an anger outlet; my role is now that of
facilitating discussions and is overall akin to a teacher (and coincidentally,
I will soon become one before I know it): focused on bringing in critical
thinking and not forcing my own opinions onto others. I am here to encourage deeper engagement; what readers believe does not necessarily matter to me as much as
knowing that critical thinking was used to get to that “what,” and I do hope I
am able to elicit that deeper level of thinking.

With all of that serious
clarification aside, let us return to a more lighthearted tone: discussing Eric
Nam’s “Can’t Help Myself.” Although in an overarching view this song is rather
balanced in all of its categories—and indeed is a stronger song—there are still
weaker aspects in it. And so, though this review is certainly “late” as this
song came out more than a month ago, let us see if listeners actually can’t
help themselves when it comes to the song.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.57/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 8/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 7/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Bridge (Chorus): 6/10

6.     Rap: 6/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 7/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 6/10

I’m exhausted and thirsty
Just like I ran under the hot sun
You know what I mean?
I can’t breathe
I feel like, I fell into the deep ocean
I think I’m in too deep

Because of you, I want to say
And baby you, if I look at you, ooh girl
I just can’t help myself
Can’t wait no longer
I can’t help myself anymore

Wanna be with you, you tonight
Yeah
No more playin’
Cool, cool, you and I
Quench my thirsty heart, alright
Give breaths into me, my life
Without you it’s meaningless
Please accept me
And let me love you

Just like the secrets no one should know
It was hard because I had to hide my feelings
I am trying not to show on my face
I try to say something and then I just bite my lips

Because of you, I want to say
And baby you, if I look at you, ooh girl
I just can’t help myself
Can’t wait no longer
I can’t help myself anymore

Wanna be with you, you tonight
Yeah
No more playin’
Cool, cool, you and I

Quench my thirsty heart, alright
Give breaths into me, my life
Being without you, girl, it’s meaningless
I’m all about you, oh no

Actually I am very patient
I’ve never been hit by anyone
So when I tell you that I can’t hold it anymore
I want you to close your eyes instead of flicking my forehead
You make me rude
Even if the sun is hot,
seeing you with my eyes makes me sweat

Wanna be with you, you tonight
Yeah
No more playin’
Cool, cool, you and I
Quench my thirsty heart, alright
Give breaths into me, my life
Without you it’s meaningless
Please accept me
And let me love you

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: This
perhaps might be the shortest review yet on this blog due to both practicing
writing more concise reviews (since university this upcoming semester will be
extremely busy) but also that this song is relatively straightforward.

On
topic, as seen by the ratings, “Can’t Help Myself” scores above averagely and indeed,
looking over the categories, the song holds well in all. Ignoring numbers,
however, this song’s main strength is arguably in its cohesion in all aspects.
From a more general perspective, for example, the song is cohesive with how all
of its sections flow from each rather smoothly, but for a micro aspect such as
within the sections themselves, various aspects—the vocals, instrumental,
pacing, and so on—equally prove to be quite cohesive. And as discussed in the prior
review
, cohesion in songs is, while not always, generally a fundamental
trait. The verses will be used as an example since, as seen by their scores,
the verses excel at this.

During
the verses, the instrumental—an aspect that is already individually strong—provides
the song with its flow and sounds as is the usual of instrumental. As such, in
of itself, this is nothing utterly spectacular at all; the instrumental is
merely playing, after all. However, once Eric’s vocals arrive, this is then
where the song and instrumental become more than just “merely playing.” With
Eric’s singing involved, it is noticed that his flow and the instrumental’s
flow sync up. Listening closely to Eric’s line chunking and the guitar riffs
should highlight this. Furthermore, though, the result of all this is not just
verses that sound excellent: the verses are now capable of easily transitioning
to the pre-choruses as they already began progressing the song through an
up-and-down pattern that was organized through vocals and instrumental syncing,
and refined in sound due to the vocals’ and instrumental’s clean, smooth tunes.
When considering the various sections throughout, this general idea repeats:
having sections that are able to easily transition to the next—and thus,
cohesion is granted—and within the sections, each are composed of singing and
instrumental that have excellent chemistry together due to following similar
rhythms and flow, and in addition to this all, the sonic components to each are
splendid—this being heard in Eric’s consistent and melodic vocal beltings, for example.

Now
despite all of Eric’s charming vocals and excellent section structures and a
solid instrumental to tie it all together, the choruses are the exception to the
song’s cohesion. In short, it simply lacks it. With the choruses, Eric’s vocal
belting of “you” for example is no longer of the same charm even though it is
essentially akin to the vocal beltings at the pre-choruses. This should be
rather odd; the same singing in the pre-choruses is now no longer appealing in
the choruses even if it is nearly the same as the one in the pre-choruses. Why
does that occur? To answer: context. Vocals, after all, is not about content—high
notes, powerful beltings, soothing low pitched singing and so on—but instead is
about its delivery, and certainly
with “delivery” in mind over “content,” context matters.

Directly
focusing on the choruses, the vocal belting throughout fails to sync to the
instrumental, and although the second half of the choruses slightly recover in
the sense that there is more cohesion, it ultimately still falters. There is
too much discrepancy between the vocals and the instrumental, and even if all
are individually enticing on their own—and hence why this section still scores
at a five—the lack of connection is greatly impairing. For example, notice how
during the pre-choruses the vocal beltings are followed up with the
instrumental similarly also having its own version of vocal beltings—in other
words, following a lighter tune to accommodate Eric’s singing. Unfortunately
with the choruses, the instrumental maintains its own hasty pace while Eric’s
vocal belting carries a much slower rate, and though the benefit to this is an
intriguing pause occurs during the choruses, the choruses begin having two
competing sounds versus two cooperative sounds and this is the ultimate
drawback.

Overall,
though, “Can’t Help Myself” proves to be a simple yet completely charming song.
The beautiful vocal beltings, instrumental, and—for the most part—the cohesion
between it all greatly allow the song to flourish. Even with a somewhat duller
rap, bridge, and choruses, with how well the sections connect to each other on
an individual and general level, “Can’t Help Myself” becomes incredibly
well-rounded and a solid example of why a song does not need to be utterly
powerful and upbeat in order to be considered good.  

_______________________________________________________

For
this review, I do wonder if it is insufficient in its explanations as I could
have went through every section in further depth, but as discussed it appears
that shorter details that focus on highlighted points versus droning
repetitively on is more desirable and efficient for both readers and I. For the
next review, Monsta X’s “Stuck” is in mind along with another show review. More
male artists for sure, though, will be coming. For female artists, Hyuna’s “How’s
This?” and Stellar’s “Crying” will both be reviewed at one point. I hope to
cover as many reviews as possible for this month, but I also plan to begin
storing and delaying some for future posting once university comes around. With
this review ending, thank you to all for reading or skimming, and realize that,
“Because of you, I want to say”: look forward to the next review.