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

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

Posted on June 4, 2017

image

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

Sistar – “I Like That” Review

Sistar
– I Like That (Music Video)

Sistar – I Like That

Reviewed
on June 21, 2016

image

Personal Message: Edit 1: Thank you to a reader for pointing out I wrote “July” instead of “June.” After a long wait, the summer season
has finally arrived: Sistar has made a comeback. Coincidentally timed, I did
review the group’s song of “I Swear” for a review request, and although I did state I want to
begin focusing on artists that I have yet to review on this blog, I will
probably allow for an exemption here. After all, I like that; I really like the
comeback. And besides selfish, biased reasons for reviewing, more importantly
this review will allow readers who have been waiting for reviews to finally
receive their wish. I have another review that will also shortly come out, and
indeed both (this included) will be purely focused on songs versus digressing
on social topics. With that aside, in addition to being joyful that Sistar is
back, from what I have heard they have also recently achieved an “all-kill” on
charts; in other words, “I Like That” has been ranked as number one on various
music charts. Well deserved, as we will get to. I personally consider this
Sistar’s best song as of yet—though to bear in mind, I only have hours’ worth
of listening rather than the usual days’ worth. That said, this review may not
be as accurate as others as I have not invested much time into analyzing it,
but I believe I have sufficient insight towards the song so that a review is
possible and will not be of entire biased remarks.

Diving into the review, for where
many have been critiquing the song, many have pointed out the song’s
distribution—or the lack thereof, specifically. Indeed, though, that is a
correct aspect to criticize; if correct, this song has the most disparity of
lines in all of their releases. Those who have harshly said this song is
“Hyorin feat. Soyou, Dasom, and Bora,” even if somewhat painful to take, are
not far off if even off at all. However, this single aspect cannot dictate how
the rest of the song goes. So, even with a rather poor distribution, will it
still be possible for listeners to say, “I like that”?

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 7/10
(6.6/10 raw score) – “Above average”


Vocals: 8/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.86/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 8/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Rap: 6/10

6.     Bridge: 7/10

7.     Conclusion: 6/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Section Distribution: 5/10

Hyorin:
Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Chorus (Total: 6)

Soyou:
Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Chorus (Total: 4)

Dasom:
Verse, Verse, Chorus (Total: 3)

Bora:
Rap (Total: 1)

All:
Introduction, Bridge, Conclusion

Equal Value: 3.5 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 6/10

Let’s dance
(I like that)
(I like that)

Now I understand the saying,
“men are all the same”
A guy like you, I can’t figure you out
(I like that)
You’re here but then you’re gone, you come and go
I thought that I could change you
But I was such a fool

Don’t worry about me
Just because you’re not here
I just need you to disappear
That’s all I need
Just go to the women
you secretly flirted with

“I like you, I love you,”
you said it but I don’t believe you
You can’t settle for just me, that’s who you are
I resent God for meeting you
I like you
(Ooh ooh)
I love you
(Ooh ooh)
Out of all the words I heard this year,
I like those the best, I like that
(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, I like smile)
(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, I like that)
(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, I like smile)
(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, I like that)

Go away, now go home
Don’t get weak, go back
I beg, I beg, I beg, I beg
(Oh, oh, oh, oh)

Go away, go drink alcohol or drink milk
I don’t care who you flirt with, with those hotshot lips
Playboy, you’re famous for that
I’m just crazy for not realizing

Don’t worry about me
Don’t be ridiculous
I just need you to disappear
That’s all I need
Just go to the girls
you flirted with all night

“I like you, I love you,”
you said it but I don’t believe you
You can’t settle for just me, that’s who you are
I resent God for meeting you
I like you
(Ooh ooh)
I love you
(Ooh ooh)
Out of all the words I heard this year,
I like those the best, I like that

I’m so fine, I’m so fine
If you care about me don’t touch me
I’m so fine, I’m so fine
If you care about me don’t touch me
To love someone or to trust someone
I don’t think it’ll be easy because of you

“I like you, I love you,”
you said it but I don’t believe you
You can’t settle for just me, that’s who you are
I resent God for meeting you
I like you
(Ooh ooh)
I love you
(Ooh ooh)
Out of all the words I heard this year,
I like those the best, I like that

(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, I like smile)
(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, I like that)
(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, I like smile)
(Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, I like that)

Choreography Score: */10 (*/10 raw score)

– Syncing: */10

– Key Points: */10

There
is a dance to the song, but as of the time of review neither dance practice nor
live performances have been uploaded.

Overall Score: */10
(*/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Surprisingly,
the section distribution is not as bad. Then again, I gauge section distribution and not line or time distribution. Although I am sure I explained in the past for
why I do this, I will reiterate it here so that everyone understands. First, gauging
based on line quantity or time quantity is inconsistent when considering
different styles that occur. A rap may be, for example, very excessive in lines.
Furthermore, a rap might be very short or very lengthy in duration. Would it
then be fair to punish a group because their rappers and singers, given the
circumstances of different vocal styles, have different durations and line
counts? What if they all have the same sections total count, though? That would
seem to be rather equal—even if, yes, the durations and individual line counts
are significantly different. Consider the following: a rapper in a group has
her spotlight at four different sections, and the other members all sing but
each have four sections as well. However, because the rapper is spitting out
fire, her total time duration is only five seconds while the members who sing
have a total of fifteen seconds, and the rapper’s line count is thirty while
the rest are at twenty. Even if the duration and line count are different, once
again, the rapper had sufficient spotlight given she appears at four sections
like the rest.

Furthermore,
there is also the issue of counting lines in the first place; what constitutes
a line at all? If we are to count sentences as lines, then what if there are
instances of run-off sentences or if a sentence becomes chunked up? Again,
there are too many variables at play that make lines and time unreliable
factors to account for when discussing how a song is distributed among members.
Sections, while certainly not exempt from issues—a main issue is, for example,
a member can simply say “oh” at the end of a chorus and she/he will now
suddenly gain a section count even though that is arguably exceptionally negligible
and should not be counted—do appear to be more stable than the former ones of
time and lines. Of course, though, I do try to be realistic and reasonable. For
example, in BTOB’s
review
, I made an exception for two of the rappers as the duration far outweighed
section count. But with all that covered, let us focus on how this all applies
to Sistar’s “I Like That.”

The
section distribution is definitely not poor at all in “I Like That.” Yes, the line and time distributions are horrendous—I do not deny that at all like
many have claimed—but in terms of how the sections were split, it renders averagely.
Dasom and Soyou both had the perfect count with three and four respectively.
Where issues occur would be with Hyorin and Bora—the former being quite excessive
while the latter remains lacking. What would have greatly aided this score
would be Bora gaining some additional sections. Even simple humming of “ooh”
that appears throughout would count. Instead of having all of the members for
those moments, if Bora was individually responsible for a few, then this score
would vastly improve. Nonetheless, as it is, it is far from negative. And so to
answer whether the distribution is bad in “I Like That,” the best answer would
be: what distribution are we
referring to? If we are using sections as the counter, then miraculously “I
Like That” is nothing too bad at all. It holds averagely—a rating that, while
not utterly impressive, is not that of “bad” or “poor.”

Finally
getting into the song itself, “I Like That” sounds fantastic. With the vocals,
the usual desirable traits are there: note holds, belting, diverse singing
styles, a variety of paces, smooth and powerful singing, and so forth. As those
traits are somewhat self-explanatory in this song, I will now elaborate unless
if readers desire some boring, repetitive writing. Now even then, those traits
would gain a seven at best. What, then, allows the ladies to reach an eight—a rating
that is essentially the highest I tend to give for reviews now? (For
comparison, a ten is practically forever impossible to earn as that would be “perfect”
vocals—a feat no one is quite capable of. As for a nine, MAMAMOO’s cover of “Hinterlands”
is the only nine-rating vocals I would ever give—this being out of every song I have ever heard in my life
so far.) Sistar’s strongest asset is why: their vocal chemistry. For example,
at the pre-choruses both Soyou’s and Hyorin’s singing intertwine seamlessly to
deliver varied, dynamic, highly melodic and controlled singing. Furthermore,
other sections such as the choruses benefit. During the choruses, while a large
portion is Hyorin’s singing, when Soyou or Dasom arrive with their single line—even
if minor on the surface—it is impacting as it provides both transition and
diversity to Hyorin’s already alluring singing. Overall, with vocals already acing
on an individual level—be it with the members themselves or with how the vocals
are all diverse in styles and power, and are fluent and highly tuneful—and how
Sistar in whole are able to connect their singing and rap to each other’s
vocals, it leads to a very cohesive and fabulous sound. Sistar has always been
known for their adept vocal skills—not just Hyorin—and “I Like That” definitely
continues that trend.

In
terms of the sections, many sections excel with being above average. Even the
weakest sections are still admirable with earning sixes. As already discussed earlier,
Sistar’s chemistry with each other’s vocals are a huge factor to the sections’ success.
The pre-choruses earn an eight due to both Hyorin and Soyou perfectly accommodating
one another with singing, but likewise also due to seamlessly transitioning the
song to the chorus without abruptly changing the song’s flow. Other sections,
such as the introduction and verse, also do well due to having a similar
manner: an excellent structure that serves the song a role—be it hooking in
listeners or providing a start that is neither too sudden or insufficient—all
while also having a seducing sound to back it up, such as with singing or
instrumental. And on the note of instrumental, to roughly transition for a
moment, its score derives from the usual of sounding individually solid and
supporting Sistar’s vocals, but what makes the instrumental thrive is its
flexibility. From smooth, classy and slower sounds to begin the song, to being
able to become upbeat to complement the choruses, and additionally to become
calm during the choruses’ ending, the instrumental in “I Like That” remains as
one of the most versatile ones I have yet to hear: fantastic in sound while
adaptive to any style the song requires. On topic again with the sections, at
the sections’ worst, the rap and conclusion have minor issues. Bora’s rap, for
instance, becomes somewhat stagnant given how it does not change in flow or
pace, and that the break in the middle also further emphasizes that linear
form. Even then, it is definitely still a decent rap and certainly suits the
song in whole. In summary, many sections fare well in “I Like That.” The
pre-choruses remain perhaps the strongest point in the song given its superb
sound and chemistry, but of course every section holds well—even the lowest
scoring ones.

Lastly,
regarding the song’s lyrics, although the song’s plot is of a rather recycled
concept—that of a breakup and a horrible partner—how that same, boring story is
delivered is now slightly more exciting thanks to “I Like That.” Details remain
varied and not merely repeated, though where the lyrics fall short is in depth:
the choruses, for example, do not bring new insight to the plot. Nevertheless,
the lyrics are still slightly above average. The verses, rap, and even
pre-choruses provide much of the lyrics’ appeal.

Concluding
this review, Sistar’s “I Like That” scores at above average—an excellent score.
The choreography, while it does exist, has yet to be officially released and
hence why I did not also review it. As such, for readers in the far future or
for those reading right now, I recommend looking up the dance practice or live
performances whenever they become available. Overall, this is an impressive
comeback by Sistar. Their vocals are sharper and more melodic than of prior songs,
and how “I Like That” is structured is phenomenal. What would be desirable in
the future, though, is finally a more equal distribution—even if they did not
score poorly this time around. Nonetheless, I personally consider this Sistar’s
best song as of yet. I look forward to even better songs in the future from the
ladies. “I Like That” achieving an “all-kill” is certainly to be expected given
the quality.  

_______________________________________________________

Despite
all odds, I managed to write this review in one day. I have already spent much
time analyzing the song itself, but when it comes time for writing, this
process generally takes a few days rather than just one sitting. But, somehow I
managed to get through this one. Either way, I am glad to have finished it so
soon, and to review an excellent song from a very popular and brilliant group. To
share what I have next in mind, I plan to review an underrated female group and
afterwards, a very popular male group. Both groups will be new artists reviewed
for the first time, and I definitely look forward to them. What may be
interesting, though, is that both may be controversial—and musically speaking,
that is. I have finished reviewing the female group’s song and I am shocked at
the scores myself. Which group is it and what song? Readers will have to be
patient.

As
I always say, thank you to all for reading or skimming, and for being patient
with the next review. Summer school has started and thus I am busier than usual.
(And that I have my sweet girl to take care of. For those wondering on how
Venus, my four-year old terrier mix, is doing after nearly two months of
adopting her, she is finally feeling at home and with her family. She is
incredibly loving now—though that love does not exist for other dogs.)
Likewise, for those who are fans of Fiestar, I will be busy with subtitling
videos of them. Many Follow Me
episodes are what I am currently working on. Until then, “Out of all the words
I heard this year, I like those the best, I like that”; I like that many
reviews and videos are coming soon for readers to enjoy.

Sistar – “I Swear” Review

Sistar
– I Swear (Dance Practice)

Sistar – I Swear

Reviewed
on May 30, 2016

Personal Message:
I admit: I am incredibly
disorganized right now and even somewhat overwhelmed with the amount of reviews
to cover. There are so many songs I want to and plan to review, but will I be
able to cover them all before May ends? It depends on how dedicated I can get.
Most likely, though, I will be able to finish the two requested reviews of this
month—this review being a request. That said, to the requester, thank you for
sending this in. I have not received a request in a while, so this was a
pleasant surprise. Additionally, this request being that of a somewhat older
song is also delightful (and surprising considering most requests are based on artists
that I have yet to review or on comebacks): Sistar’s summer song of 2014, “I
Swear”—though “summer song” is debatable as some may claim “Touch My Body”
holds that title. Personally, however, this song was iconic of my 2014 summer
as it was the “ending summer song.” But besides sentimental reasons, “I Swear”
also has a valuable spot with being one of my personal favorite songs. And on
top of it all, it is by Sistar, a group I very much love and of whom are very
popular and skilled. (It is a shame I have not been keeping up with Sistar
news, let alone any news minus ones that involve Fiestar, MAMAMOO, and SPICA.)

Before diving into the review, I
confess that I thought I had reviewed “I Swear” before. Turns out, that is not
true as I have only reviewed “Give It To Me” and “Touch My Body”—both of which,
though, are completely butchered reviews. In that sense, I am quite glad I did not review “I Swear” as I would have
given inaccurate nines all over. On that note, for a minor digression (skip
ahead to the review), some readers—especially those who have been tuned in
since the earlier days or have peered at my earlier reviews—may be curious on
when and why I became more strict with reviews. How did I go from liberally
giving nines to now nines being considered one of the hardest ratings to earn? In
fact, how did songs in the past even earn tens when, as readers can tell, it is
practically impossible for a song to ever achieve a perfect ten in anything
minus the Sections Distribution category? Since I seldom cover the
“behind-the-scenes” of reviews—or at least I have not done so in nearly a
year—let us spend some time covering how my reviews changed, both with
strictness and outline, and how I even decide numerical ratings in  the first place. (And yes, sociology based
digressions will resume for sure in June.)

Focusing on strictness, there are
various factors at play for why I was incredibly lenient during earlier
reviews. For one, I admittedly was quite biased; I did tend to review songs I
personally enjoyed, and of course, I would translate that into high ratings. Furthermore,
I was new to critically analyzing music, let alone addressing the sociological
aspects to songs. And thus, with my lack of skills and overall lack of maturity
on all fronts—music and socially (my writing style was too casual along with having subtle sexist and heteronormative
remarks)—I simply just did not know better. If it “sounded good”—words that I
truly said—then any rating would be permissible and viable. Never did I dive
into the complexities of songs until much later, and even then, it is
constantly a growth. During last summer I admit: I thought I achieved mastery
of reviewing songs; I thought that I knew how to review every song from
thereon. Of course, however, that is far from the case as even more changes and
(hopefully) improvements took place, and indeed, I doubt I will ever achieve
mastery with learning how to review songs. Besides, what fun is it to ever
claim one has mastered anything? Learning and improvement is limitless, and
helping others gain said skills arguably matters much more than merely hoarding
skills and knowledge.

On this note, in terms of how and
why the review outline went through multiple revisions and to this day is still
being modified, in short: improvements. From the first outline to the current,
flaws will be eventually discovered and thus, changes are done to address those
weaker points. For example, in the past I noticed there was a significant
shortcoming with having my review restricted to solely single categories.
Instead of being flexible and dynamic, reviews were quite monotonous and it was
essentially a paragraph per category. (The vocals would have one paragraph,
then the sections, and so on.) Now, I try to keep reviews more individual and
open to variety, but even currently there is still much to improve on in that aspect.
And of course with that said, my writing will always be in a state of
improving. Even if I have some moments where I do genuinely believe I brought a
song justice through adequate writing, I am seldom satisfied with where my
writing skills currently are. After all, why look at what my writing skills are when I can look at where they will be?

Swapping over to ratings, as
discussed earlier, there used to be no rubric whatsoever. That, however, is no
longer the case: I have certain guidelines for how I come up with ratings.
Before getting into how and why I give specific numerical ratings, it might be
best for readers to even know what
the ratings are—though I am certain many readers know, and even new readers
most likely know. For fun, however, the following should clarify what the
numbers truly mean in these current times:

0 – Absolutely horrendous. This is a
rating I have yet to give and very much doubt I will ever see in my entire
years of existing. Giving a zero would mean whichever category it is received
in is beyond poor. A simple possible scenario might be a Sections Distribution
where, to use Sistar as example, Hyorin has fifteen sections while the rest of
her members have absolutely none. Again, a near impossible rating to earn, but
it is there.

1 – Very poor. Akin to a zero
rating, I am also very skeptical of a category ever hitting a one. However, I
will say that it is not to the degree of “impossible”; given that this is the
inverse of a nine—of which are possible though quite rare—scores of ones in
that sense are still very much possible to earn. Chances, though, is slim, and
let us be honest: there tends to be more “very good” than “very poor”
scenarios. On topic, ratings of ones simply indicate that a certain category,
be it the vocals or instrumental or whatever else, are of very low quality. A
crude example would be imagining a reverse-universe where Sistar are atrocious
singers who sound like cats in deep anguish. Now this is a “1” rating example,
but it should be relatively straightforward.

2 – This rating is not very poor but rather, is a plain “poor.”
With this rating, whichever category is to receive it is far from admirable but
is not to the degree of the ratings above. For example, an exceptionally
disorganized and rambunctious introduction may earn a two. This would showcase
that it is definitely not enticing, but again it is not to the extent that the
introduction should cease to exist at all. Nonetheless, this is still overall a
rating for songs to avoid.

3 – Continuing on, a three on the
other hand is the usual “below average.” Unlike a two, a category with this is
one that is below usual standards, but it is a rating that becomes somewhat
acceptable. Earning a three, though still very much undesired, would not be
utterly shocking. Again, it would be best to avoid, but it is not too extreme. And
on that note, let us take a look at the next rating.

4 – This is where “slightly below
average” comes into play. In truth, a rating of a four is not too bad. Why? If
“average” is the neutral ground, this simply means—should a category earn a
four—that the category is just a minor bit below that neutral point. As such,
unless if it becomes a recurring number, one four would not likely
significantly decrease a song’s overall score—though again, it is indeed best
to still avoid as it is in the “negative” range (anything below a five). After all,
is “average” not the lowest a rating should be at?

5 – Perfectly timed, a five
represents the plain ground: average. Nothing more or less. Anything with this
rating is neutral; a category with a five is neither good nor bad. Usually in
actual application this would mean that a category, be it the vocals or
specific sections or so on, fulfill their standard roles, but do nothing else
to bring in uniqueness and attractiveness. Now on a more pessimistic tone, although
fives are indeed the neutral point, as I have discussed in prior reviews: that
is not necessarily true. In fact, fives may still be considered a “negative”
score if we think less about quantity and more qualitatively. If it is true
that fives represent “average,” then that means a song with a five in whichever
category is equal to any other usual
pop song (or other genres)—and “other” refers to hundreds of thousands. Therefore,
to have, for example the vocals, be rated at a five is to say that the song of
review sounds—in terms of the vocals—like any other song. Especially with the
competitive field of music, being average is still somewhat negative. Thus,
perhaps there is no neutrality after all, depending on how one views it.

6 – Working our way up to the more
optimistic and pleasant ratings, everything at this point is the inverse of the
others. This rating is for “slightly above average.” This is a rather common
rating and arguably the most common one I hand out. It is nothing too valuable,
but considering this allows a song to depart from the usual “average songs,” it
is still respectable.

7 – Sevens are perhaps the ideal
scores that I do wish to give. At a seven, a category would be considered
“above average,” and that is certainly desirable as it would set a song above
usual—“average—songs. Especially with what was discussed earlier, a seven is
definitely the ideal rating to earn.

8 – For eights, this tends to
usually be the highest a category goes, as will be explained with nines and
tens. This rating indicates a solid “good”; the category is simply fantastic
and praiseworthy. There would be minimal irking points if even any. Earning
this is far from impossible, but nonetheless is a somewhat difficult feat.

9 – On the other hand, in contrast
to eights, this rating is extremely difficult to earn. Any category with this
would have no weak points but more importantly, is definitely leaning towards
having solely strengths. To give an example to clarify perhaps what is expected
and how difficult earning a nine is, MAMAMOO and BTOB—two extremely vocally
adept groups be it with singing or rapping—are both considered “eight” for
their vocals. And yet, if many are posed with the question of asking where the
two groups should be with vocals, I am confident that many would claim these
two groups are certainly towards the higher levels and thus, would seem to be
at nines. However, that is not the case. In fact, even Ailee for example—an
artist I oftentimes have labeled as one the top vocalists I have yet to
hear—would be an eight. Ponder over that. Ailee, the “Queen Vocalist” of K-Pop,
is an eight. (Now of course this all varies per song, but I am generalizing
when I speak of the artists’ vocal ratings. For example, MAMAMOO’s
“Hinterlands” on Immortal Songs 2
would indeed rate at a nine, even though all of their other songs would be at
eights or lower.)

10 – Impossible to earn. I cannot
even imagine any category, minus the Section Distribution of course, that would
score a ten. This would mean a category is perfect. For example, a verse with a
ten would have to vocally and instrumentally sound beyond extraordinary, and
furthermore with its structure would have to be absolutely unique and yet
utterly effective for the song in whole. It is a standard that exists, but as
said, it is one I doubt the blog will ever see. Ignoring newbie reviews, that
is.

Since the ratings have been
numerically explained, it would now be suiting to disclose how even ratings
come to be in the first place. In other words, what does the review process
itself look like? Without getting into monotonous details, in a brief summary,
the review process is as follows:

The first step is, to insert some
sassiness, obviously listening to the song. However, it is slightly more than
just that. After listening to the song of interest, perhaps the most important
step I take is to then gauge my biased reaction: where do I want the song to score? This is critical as, when it comes to writing
the review, I need to be able to separate my personal stance—whether in favor
or against a song—from a systematic, neutral standpoint. After all, what point
is a review if I would give high ratings solely to my favorite artists? Afterwards,
once I am able to gauge my initial take, I then proceed with listening to the
song multiple times and at different days. (For example, while exercising I may
decide to focus on the song, but then I allow some time to pass before
listening to it again. Point is, I listen to a song enough for memorization to
take place, but I ensure that enough breaks are given so that I gain new
insight.) Then is where my analysis comes in with going through section by
section, tracking solely the vocals or the instrumental, gauging at how
sections play out and relate to the song in whole, and so forth. This portion
of the review processing is what consumes the most time.

All in all, though, I do wish to
clarify an important piece: throughout the whole review process, one must be
aware it can never be unequivocally neutral. At best, music reviews can be and
should be “neutrally biased,” but never can reviews be “neutral.” In fact, even
other materials, be it makeup or phones, can arguably never be quite reviewed “neutrally.”
What do I mean? Here is the simple answer: “good” is never objective when it
comes to music (and others). Take an example: what I consider “good vocals” may
actually be atrocious to another reviewer; she might claim that MAMAMOO’s
vocals are excessive and thus, would claim they are average singers while I, on
the other hand, are constantly praising the ladies and holding them as
high-tiered singers. Nevertheless, reviews should still be “neutrally biased.”
Indeed, when it comes to giving
ratings, that act should be without extraneous influence. Where an issue
exists, however, is that the ratings
in of themselves will be biased—but that is not inherently bad. It is
unavoidable; akin to implicit social biases when it comes to gender, race, and
so forth, our socialization creates our “music bias” as well, if I may label it
as that. What matters is, like with social biases, bringing said biases to the
front and openly confronting them.

For example, I recognize that I
dislike songs that tend to be what I deem “chaotic” for a lack of a better
label. An example off the top of my head is BTS’ “Fun Boys.” (I will one day
review a song by BTS. I am moreover surprised, though, that no one has ever requested
them yet.) Biasedly, with what I personally like in a song, “Fun Boys” is the
pure opposite. However, after realizing my bias take and from thereon seeing the
song for its own worth, I do confidently say that “Fun Boys” is far from bad at
all. In fact, it is decent and has impressive musical twists—twists that I
would biasedly claim are vexing though once neutrally seen, are excellent. In
summary: “neutral” comes in not letting my personal music bias influencing my
given ratings, but in the end, what I deem “good” or “bad” will forever be
subjective. Not even in hundred thousands of technological advances will
technology ever be able to decide if SPICA’s “Ghost” or BTOB’s “It’s Okay” is
the “better” or “correct” song.

In the end, if readers are still curious
on this “reviews are not neutral” discussion, my review
on TWICE
might have more thorough explanations. I personally aim to have
reviews on this blog discussion-based versus claim-based; rather than focusing
all of my efforts on unequivocally labeling a song as good or bad, I want to
focus rather on why I claim a song renders
as excellent or average or below average. Never should my reviews (or even
Personal Message social digressions for that matter) be taken as truths. At
most I am sharing one perspective out of the infinite that already exist.
Encouraging readers’ own thoughts and critical thinking is the ultimate goal of
reviews and why I would continually write them despite the large time
investment that is needed. And perhaps that I am also motivated to simply write
about my favorite groups but that is a secret to keep hidden. Jokes aside, this
digression hopefully covers the general history and background to this blog.
Far from anything fancy, but this is the path the blog went through and is
still going through.

Finally focusing on Sistar, despite
this being a song in the past, it truly is one of Sistar’s best songs—if not the best. Or so I biasedly claim. Does “I
Swear” fare well if excluding my love for Sistar? I swear it does, but we will
have to find out.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 7/10
(6.71/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
8/10

2.     Verse: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 7/10

5.     Rap: 5/10

6.     Bridge: 6/10

7.     Conclusion: 8/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Section Distribution: 2/10

Hyorin:
Introduction, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge,
Chorus (Total: 9)

Soyou:
Introduction, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus (Total: 7)

Dasom:
Verse (Total: 1)

Bora:
Rap (Total: 1)

Equal Value: 4.5 sections per
member.  


Lyrics: 7/10

Oh I swear
Oh I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

I-I swear, intensely like a confession from a movie
The D.I.A on your fourth finger
makes the whole world jealous
I-I swear, pick that star and give it to me
Think of my small jokes as something cute
Baby I only wanna be with you
(I swear, I swear, I-I swear)

The thing that won’t change are my feelings growing
and that I won’t expect many things from you
Also to close my eyes with you after being in love
That’s it, that’s all

(Promise) I swear tonight, I swear
(Promise you baby)
Only you can comfort me
You’re perfect, meant to be baby
You’ll always be mine
I swear, you and me, I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

The night I become a woman,
what do I do? We’ll hold hands
You make me say woo
Stars are spilling across the night sky

So what you think about that (that)?
Baby, what are you thinking?
So what you think about that (that)?
I’m so curious about you
So that I can feel your love, so that I will smile
Only think of me, oh baby, only look at me

The thing that won’t change are my feelings growing
and that I won’t expect many things from you
Also to close my eyes with you after being in love
That’s it, that’s all

(Promise) I swear tonight, I swear
(Promise you baby)
Only you can comfort me
You’re perfect, meant to be baby
You’ll always be mine
I swear, you and me, I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

The one thing I want to hear, “I do”
Like a sweet dream, “I do”
I write and erase your name on the sand
As I wait for you, tell me “I love you baby”

(Promise) I swear tonight, I swear
(Promise you baby)
Only you can comfort me
You’re perfect, meant to be baby
You’ll always be mine
I swear, you and me, I swear
(Promise you baby)
It’s like you and I were put together
Lose the chance today and I know you’ll regret it, I swear

Choreography Score: 7/10 (7.00/10 raw score)

– Syncing: 7/10

– Key Points: 7/10

Overall Score: 7/10
(6.50/10 raw score)

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: First
of all, to the requester, huge apologies for a great delay. Admittedly I have
been slacking on reviews due to focusing on other tasks (such as subbing videos—or
admittedly just watching videos), and that I have been picking up bad habits
such as poor snacking decisions or even sleeping late despite needing to wake
up early for my girl. This will be changing around, however. Optimistically,
for a good habit I did pick up, I now give my adorable girl a goodnight kiss
and sweet dreams (based on many articles, it appears that dogs do dream) before
we both sleep.

Silly
news aside, let us focus purely on the review. To begin with the weakest link
in “I Swear”—and arguably every song by them—the distribution of sections is
rather pitiful. Specifically, the lack thereof is pitiful. Rating at a two, the
lowest out of every review so far, “I Swear” ‘s distribution is poor. Hyorin
carries a large bulk of the song, and similarly Soyou, but both Dasom and Bora
are deprived. Understandably, with how the format of “I Swear” runs (as we will
get to), many would feel inclined to give some exemptions here. After all, Hyorin
is an incredibly cherished, top-tier singer and likewise Soyou’s singing is
solid. Does it not seem excusable for them to take the main bulk of the song? To
the contrary, given that Sistar is a group, it should be expected that a
general equal distribution is at hand. Recycling the argument I always use,
imagine this: there is a group of nine men or women. One member sings out of
the eight. The remaining eight members solely dance. Is this not seemingly
problematic?

On
this note, I disagree to those who claim that Sistar’s section distribution is
negligible. Focusing on “I Swear” specifically, there are many moments for
where, at the very least, Dasom could have entered. Bora’s one section quantity
is, while not desired, understandable considering she is the rapper. However,
Dasom’s lack of sections is hard to dismiss considering she is a support
vocalist. She could have had much more sections to cover. Furthermore, both
Hyorin’s and Soyou’s section quantity are obscenely high; even with only four
members, the two are hitting very high counts—and this comes at a cost. From
that, both Bora and Dasom simply do not have the chance to have other sections
if all are taken up. Overall, with a large disparity in place in a song that
most likely could have accommodated for more variety, this production piece to “I
Swear”—the section distribution decision—is poor. It is unfortunate as this low
rating will weigh down the Song Score in total.

With
that category aside, the rest of “I Swear” in contrast is phenomenal. Essentially,
the sonic side to “I Swear” and even the visual side for that matter are
stellar. Focusing on the vocals, every member holds her own in the song, but
more importantly, in the entirety of “I Swear,” many positive traits appear.
For example, powerful yet controlled lines arrive during the choruses and
bridge, but simultaneously calm and lower pitched lines arrive during the
pre-choruses and rap. With multiple singing styles—beltings to high notes to
smooth, passiveness—and a rap included, “I Swear” covers vocal variety in near
full. Individually and cohesively, “I Swear” thrives in its vocals. And to also
include the instrumental, similar praises translate over: an instrumental that
is solid on its own, and yet incredibly supportive to the vocals and even
sections.

Regarding
the latter, arguably the sections in “I Swear” are its core strength and component.
Every section in the song is fantastic, and there are many unique and effective
styles employed. One predominant example would be the verses: the two verses
are different. Seldom is that seen in
songs. The first verse—a verse that is already successful due to the vocals and
its structure being straightforward and thus smoothly progresses the song—is
entirely different from the second verse that takes place: a verse where alluring
vocal belting takes the form of humming. Variety and enticing vocals are what
is gleaned—these being certainly desirable traits in any pop song. As for other
sections, the introduction and conclusions are also quite captivating. It has
been a while since a song where both score at an eight, but for what gives the
two their effectiveness and high scores, two factors are at play. First, both
the introduction and conclusion are timed are near perfection; rather than an
introduction that is too short, or a conclusion that is too long, both are at
the appropriate duration for “I Swear.” Secondly, within both sections, the sonic
components are seducing. The introduction hooks in listeners with Hyorin’s and
Soyou’s vocals, and the instrumental follows through with creating a transition
and curiosity for what is to come. As for the conclusion, although no vocals
are included, the instrumental allows a rather energetic final chorus to come
to a smooth, simple halt.

At
worst for the sections, the rap and pre-choruses are slightly lacking—more so
with the rap. The rap holds at average due to, overall, it being overly simplistic.
Clarifying, a straightforward rap is far from being inherently bad; in a
different context, a plain rap is very effective such as in a ballad. However, clearly,
“I Swear” is not a ballad and would benefit from a rap that equally suits the
upbeat, hasty style that is present. Thus, because of the lack of suiting the
song and that the rap itself would not compensate through, for example very
sharp pacing and flow, the rap holds at average. Similarly, the pre-choruses
are in a similar situation with being relatively abrupt in style. Certainly,
the slight drop in pacing creates the “buildup” effect so that the choruses are
even more exciting, but doing so is, besides following an incredibly cliché route,
ineffective to keeping a clean, cohesive flow to “I Swear.” Nonetheless, it is
a minimal point of critique and with Soyou’s and Hyorin’s slower, lower pitched
vocals being contributed, that portion helps alleviate the pre-choruses’ duller
structure.

Regarding
the lyrics, “I Swear” does earn a seven—something that may be unexpected given
the plot of the song. With the story behind the song, it is of the usual:
romantic, flirtatious love. What, then, makes it special? Details. Details are
what allow the lyrics to maintain its higher rating. First, consider a benefit
of the song containing two verses that are different. One answer is that it
provides the song more variety, but now another question to ask is variety in what? Sonically with the sections
themselves, but one must also remember another benefit: the lyrics. In other
words, the lyrics are more detailed as the verses are not repeated. Factor in
the rap and introduction and bridge, and that even repeated sections—the choruses
and pre-choruses—are already filled with their own ideas and lines, the lyrics
become enticing despite the somewhat usual plot. And last to add, especially
with the idea of two different verses, the choreography rates at above average.
Key points remain diverse, and more so with having less sections repeat. Also,
the key points themselves deserve spotlight for being focused not solely on
entire body movements, but also subtle ones such as with hands. Syncing,
without much need for explanation, also holds well considering many of the
movements link up with the song itself.

Overall,
Sistar’s “I Swear” scores at slightly above average for the song, but once
complementing the dance, the Overall Score is above average. Although I am, as
many, irked at how the sections distribution would reduce the score to a song
that is indeed quite charming, it is a point that once again needs to be considered.
Sistar’s weakest aspect to their songs is not so much on the sound of the
songs, but rather, is in how the songs are shared among members. Should the
section distribution be ignored, then it can be said with confidence that “I
Swear” is an impressive song.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, thank you so much for the request in the first place but for
also being very patient. As discussed above, work and simply being off-task
have contributed to this delay. But it is finally finished. I hope this review
is enjoyable, insightful, and of course that it provides moreover a discussion
versus that of a scientific claim. As for the other requester, I hope to finish
your request by tomorrow or at least by the start of the June. Likewise, I also
apologize for delaying it.

For
all other readers, thank you for reading this review whether in full or
skimmed. I sincerely appreciate all of the given time towards the blog. The
next review is another request, but it is one I am very excited for as it is on
a relatively popular duo, and that the artists have yet to be reviewed at all on
the blog. Plus, their musical style is very much different from the standard. Look
forward to the review, and after that request is done, expect a review on
Fiestar’s “Apple Pie.” I will stay as focused as possible. “I swear, I swear,
I-I swear.”

Hyorin and Jooyoung – “Erase” Review

Hyorin x Jooyoung – Erase (Dance Practice)

Hyorin and Jooyoung – Erase

Reviewed on February 7, 2015

image

Personal Message: Many reviews are coming and amazingly, I decided to organize all my upcoming reviews. A vast majority of songs for this month have their review preemptively outlined, and thus, I will hopefully save time. Unlike the previous month, February will be showcasing new artists, and, as promised, more male artists. On the subject of male artists, I am ecstatic to review a song where the group, or more accurately phrased, the duo, comprises of both gender; Hyorin and Jooyoung, two phenomenal, exceptionally hard working, talented and pretty singers, have collaborated on the song “Erase.” To already address the link, it is their official dance practice video, but interestingly, the song is different: this is the stage performance version. The difference between that and the standard audio is the exclusion of a rap; Iron, a Korean rapper, was featured in this song. For the sake of live performances, however, it is understandable on why that section was removed (Iron did not attend them, from what I know). As a result, the second pre-chorus is reused versus it being the rap.

Overall, though, there are no significant differences from either version as both are excellent. If analyzing the lyrics, however, the removal of the rap does change the meaning in that both characters are at “fault” versus solely one of them. Clarification will be at the Meaning section (in short, in case I forget, the rap showcases the male character’s utter sexism flaw being that he, based on interpretation, cheated on the lady). Actually, thinking over the rap, I am glad this version removed it as it was rather offensive; “you’re just a toy that was in last season” was the line to reflect the male character’s frustration at the lady character, and without getting into an exceptionally long discussion, the male character’s character becomes explicitly unveiled. Though, to clarify, this was not composed in terms of the song claiming that, but rather, the character in the song expressing that (in terms of lyric details, I found it to augment the story as it provided depth to the characters). In general, to address that line, no male, or female, should ever objectify their love-interest, even a former one. No one is a “toy” that is meant to be used and thrown away; every human is, as said, a human worthy of proper respect and such.

Focusing back on the duo, many readers will probably recognize Hyorin. She is from Sistar, an extremely popular and successful group (the other ladies of Bora, Soyou, and Dasom also hold their own high popularity). Additionally, she is often time labeled as the “Queen Vocalist” of the K-Pop industry, but I personally render Ailee as that. Nevertheless, Hyorin is, using measurement as a metaphor, purely one centimeter or even one millimeter away from Ailee; Hyorin is practically as talented as Ailee. Comparing the two, in the end, is pointless, however, as both ladies are exceptionally incredible and both deserve their own separate admiration and respect for their skills and accomplishments. Anyhow, to address the gentleman of Jooyoung, though I am unsure, I believe this is his debut. Despite being new, he has showcased a high tier of skills; his dancing and vocals are on par with experienced idols. I hold high expectations for his future works, be it another collaboration or perhaps even solos (he is by far capable of singing and dancing on his own).

Now, to digress on the subject of Hyorin and specifically Sistar (and, as some loathe my digressions, feel free to skip to the review now), I have been, once again, consuming more media via their reality show of “Sistar Showtime.” As anticipated, the show simply showcases their more personal lives, such as revealing Soyou’s gym routine, Dasom’s common activity (that many can relate to) of watching television for hours, and of course, their genuine bond and affection towards each other. The latter: an issue. Strangely. Hyorin has been receiving some negativity with the way she acts. Being the more upholding, upfront and authoritative figure among the members, she presents a stronger presence and tends to be rather blunt with words. This has led to her being labeled “rude” and, inserting my personal and slightly jocular phrase filter of goodness-forbid, other terms that can be concluded as “rude” yet are exponentially more, ironically, rude. Since she is close to her members and does indeed possess the leader role, being blunt towards them should not surprise viewers. In many cases, she shows “blunt love” in that she may reveal embarrassing facts, but it will be as a joke and, as any viewer would agree, in the end, she does love her members. Perhaps I am being overly critical, but, as I have been keen on gauging reactions, it does appear to be that female groups are moreover criticized than male groups.

Before defensiveness locks into place, let me shed a simple yet realistic comparison: a male idol that appears to be very serious and, due to his leader role in his group, a leaking authoritative aura versus a female idol that appears to be rather solemn, and due to being the leader, a released commanding vibe. Now, I will discuss the general reactions I have gauged. The male idol: a leader, a person who watches over his members, a great inspiration. The female idol: mean, uninterested, a person who probably abuses and harassess her members, a person that needs to be more cheerful and fun. Interestingly, though the diction I utilized varied, I described both the male and female idol as the same, yet surprisingly, the general results yield utter opposites. This is my message: despite both idols having identical demeanors, the female idol faces heavier judgement as a higher standard is set and expected from her. How this relates back to “Sistar Showtime” is it can be directly translated over; viewers are assuming the worst for Hyorin, and, while I am certain people will get defensive at this claim, if she were a male idol, I remain confident in that her criticism regarding her stronger, upfront personality would cease or be, at most, exceptionally marginal. Overall, as a final point, this, unfortunately, stretches beyond K-Pop; in societies where males are indeed favored, females face the challenge of needing to not succeed a basic standard, but rather, an excessive one due to their gender. So while, if anything, this reminds readers to not be heavily critical of female idols, this should be expanded into life in general. Do not overly scrutinize a female be it her appearance, how she acts, and more, due to her being a female. For a differing example, let us utilize females and gaming. Should she be mediocre, sexist remarks leak as “girls cannot game,” and even with performing well, sexist comments still prevail such as “not bad for a girl.” On the basis of their gender, ladies have their skills predicted when, most blatantly, that is completely false and inaccurate. Dexterity is the reason, not gender (and in fact, the best player on my team is a female). Even the sheer opposite of assuming versus underestimating occurs. Make-up skills, for example, are often automatically assumed for a female when, once again, gender does not grant those talents. Unusual, absurdly high standards or false assumptions are always set for females, and that sole idea is what everyone should consider, and more importantly, challenge via not contributing and by confronting and halting those who do offer those microaggressions.

Hopefully readers take into heart that and, regardless of whether similar comments have been made or not in the past, remaining critical and changing current behaviors to not be discriminative should be the goal. To finally return to “Erase” (apologies for a very long digression), it follows an interesting genre. In essence, it fits into ballad, but overall, other genres are slightly branched into. Nevertheless, “Erase” is an extremely solid song, and out of the many recents ones I have been listening to, it currently holds as the strongest. The vocals, structure, instrumental, and even the choreography, for examples, are all exceptionally promising and to a high caliber. I foresee higher grades given for “Erase.” That said, with the two talented, stellar idols of Hyorin and Jooyoung cooperating, let us hope our memories of this song do not “Erase.”  

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Song Total Score: 9/10 (8.6/10 raw score) – Average score of the sub-categories

– Vocals: 9/10 – Considering Hyorin is involved, a high score should be expected. But, of course, she is not alone; Jooyoung is accounted for, and thankfully, his vocals hold equally well. Both of them offer versatility for their singing: lower yet higher notes are heard, the style ranges from a slower, silkier tone to one of power, and the melody holds as fluctuating and infatuating. Now, for what secures a higher score, due to the dynamic of “Erase” involving two main singers, the duo’s chemistry plays an influential, vital factor. In “Erase,” Jooyoung’s and Hyorin’s synergy becomes unveiled by how perfectly meshed their vocals are. Sonically, their voices fit according to one another. Throughout the song, sections that utilize alternation become fluent and natural; little contrast exists when they exchange turns singing, and thus, the vocals become collaborative versus combative. Furthermore, for moments where unison singing occurs, a prime example of the duo’s chemistry is disclosed. Neither one of them necessarily take the lead, but rather, both of them are equally simultaneously singing. No singer undermines the other, both are heard and thus, due to each of their individual, highly stunning vocal skills, the song overall becomes greatly enhanced.

Individually, Hyorin and Jooyoung are high tier, adept singers, and this song proves such on the mechanical level. In terms of being a duo-based song, hearing their excellent chemistry prevail further boosts the score. A higher score will be given.

– Song Structure: 8/10 (7.57/10 raw score)

The song goes in this structure and order:

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

1. Introduction: 8/10 – Though the main spotlight is on the instrumental itself, Hyorin and Jooyoung offer minimal vocals.

For an introduction, besides setting up the song’s atmosphere, the method in which it does so remains phenomenal. With the introduction’s structure, the vocals and instrumental are both leaked, but with remaining vague due to, in the case of the instrumental, slower pacing, or for the vocals, pure note stretches and humming, heavy anticipation towards the song becomes created along with setting up the overarching tone. Now, the method in which the introduction executes remains charming in itself. The slower beat snaps and piano melody complement one another and sound utterly delightful, but with the addition of vocals, the same trend of remaining slow yet melodic replicates; Hyorin’s and Jooyoung’s humming and such were as tuneful as the instrumental, and with both components of vocals and soundtrack remaining solid on the individual and wholesome level, the introduction becomes vastly augmented.

The standard role of setting the stage is met, and with the extra factor of the introduction properly connecting the vocals to instrumental, a noteworthy score will be given.

2. Verse: 8/10 – Jooyoung handles the first half of the verses while Hyorin receives the remaining. Minimal unison singing does occur, however. The second verse remains fully identical.

Many aspects of the verses can be deemed as excellent. Firstly, addressing the sonic perspective, the vocals and instrumental continue to establish their excellence. Jooyoung’s lines remain soothing, tuneful, and even traces of sadness accompany his singing. Addressing Hyorin, her line remains equally soothing and melodic, and in contrast to Jooyoung, a higher pitch range is gleaned. For the instrumental, the snaps and piano from the introduction return, additionally, however, the bass of “Erase” arrives. With the three main components of the instrumental together, a welcomed outcome occurs; the snaps and piano continue to be tuneful, but the newly introduced bass provides a supportive foundation for both the vocals and the snaps and piano. Even by itself, the bass is prominent and offers its own niche to the song. Transitioning over to the structure, the verses follow incredible alternation. A unison “hello” occurs by the duo, but then solely one of them sings. After a line ends, however, the “hello” appears and a new line takes over along with potentially a different singer. Due to this alternation and unison word, variety is created as well as providing subtle aspects to the couple’s synergy, be it their coordination or simply how well their voices sound against each other.

With multiple aspects remaining stunning, such as the structure itself or mechanically the vocals and instrumental, a higher score will be given.

3. Pre-Chorus: 7/10 – Jooyoung is responsible for one line. Hyorin follows suit. Afterwards, both are simultaneously singing.

Focusing on the slightly weaker side of the pre-choruses, the structure lacks some depth; Jooyoung takes one line followed by Hyorin who also possesses one line, and though there is unison singing for the third line, structurally, nothing holds as compelling. The individual lines had no distinctive property, and unfortunately, the unison singing was simply them singing at, coincidentally, the same time. In terms of what does grant the pre-choruses its stronger points, the vocals still remain charming and, likewise, the instrumental can still be rendered as captivating. Ignoring the mechanical side, the process in which hype towards the chorus is created is admirable; considering “Erase” follows a ballad’s pace, instead of having the development towards the chorus accelerate or increasing the song’s intensity, the sheer opposite of further slowing down the song becomes the utilized tactic. Drawing an example, during the unison singing, “yeah” was sung and dragged out to bring the pacing to a relatively sluggish pace, and though the sole purpose appears in accentuating the duo’s lower notes, the decrease in speed is what allows proper buildup towards the chorus.

Overall, though the lines’ structure remain plain, they still sound pleasing and furthermore, the pre-choruses’ do a fantastic job of hyping the song for the upcoming chorus. Above average will be the rating.  

4. Chorus: 9/10 – For the entirety of the choruses, Jooyoung and Hyorin are singing as one.

From the start, I will claim the choruses are the song’s strongest section, and considering that I seldom give 9s for a score nowadays, this in itself should indicate how incredible this section is. The choruses showcase the vocals, instrumental, and even the duo’s chemistry at their prime. Vocally, Hyorin and Jooyoung are exceptionally melodic along with having traces of prominent, stronger singing. The instrumental, similar to the vocals, become amplified to accommodate the intenser singing; the beat snaps along with the bass act as a foundation, and the piano melody further enriches the already tuneful vocals of the duo. Lastly, the couple’s chemistry, biasedly, holds as the most influential factor. A unique yet strange phenomenon occurs: neither one of them leads, yet ironically, one of them does lead, and in opposite, though no one is necessarily laying a supportive, passive foundation, simultaneously, one person does provide that role. This paradoxical aspect to their singing is perhaps what yields the section its high score. At certain moments, Hyorin’s lighter pitch seems to be the main focus while Jooyoung’s lower voice provides support, but at different occasions, the opposite occurs in that Jooyoung is leading the section while Hyorin provides the foundation. With this constant change, appeal is blatantly kept high.

Overall, with the song coming as one unified and purely captivating section, a very high score is expected. Mechanically, everything sounds well and with the duo’s chemistry being beautiful, the section as a whole is further strengthened.

5. Post-Chorus: 7/10 – Hyorin handles the first line, and as predicted, Jooyoung handles the next. The final line, however, features Hyorin.

While in the overall perspective the vocals are still superior, during this section, the vocals do falter when juxtaposed to the other sections. Power is the main focus for vocals, but unfortunately, it is overly prioritized. With the previous section, the choruses, taking a stronger, prominent stance, having another section duplicating such gives an unnecessary repetition. As a result, with this redundancy, the impacting vocals that occur lose their presence, and thus, a bleaker section is left. Nevertheless, despite having a sense of repetition, the vocals and instrumental still hold well. Desirable traits still exist for them, such as being melodic and having proper alternating lines.

With the slight overlapping quality from the previous section being the main yet miniscule issue, the post-choruses still hold at above average.

6. Bridge: 7/10 – Both are responsible for the bridge. Alternating lines become the style until the end where both simultaneously sing.

Being the bridge, a standard climactic point is created. Higher notes and power are the main assets to this section. High note holds are entrusted with Jooyoung while Hyorin handles the general singing lines. Although the instrumental and vocals themselves remain mechanically strong, there are minimal compelling, striking factors. Adamantly, the instrumental predominantly sounds as it does during the other sections, and though the note holds can be rendered as impressive, it is a standard note hold that does not showcase extreme cases of skill, intensity, nor melody. On the positive side, the bridge does contain an interesting line structure; towards the middle, the alternating style becomes manipulated to aid the section. Hyorin would sing one word, and unlike previous sections where Jooyoung would replicate the prior line identically, in the bridge section, Jooyoung would follow up the word in a much higher note in addition to possessing more power. Even with the final line, despite how both Hyorin and Jooyoung sing in unison, Jooyoung’s line comes off with additional power and a higher note range. Due to this differing method with alternation, a layering aspect is created; Hyorin’s parts act moreover as foundation while Jooyoung’s singing take the lead.

Mechanically, the instrumental and vocals, while still delightful, remain unvaried from other sections, but thankfully, the alternation that does occur is vastly different, and thus, an appealing and welcoming layering function becomes granted. Above average will be the score.

7. Conclusion (Post-Chorus): 7/10 – Since the post-chorus is recycled, once again, Hyorin tackles the first line with Jooyoung handling the second, and at the end, Hyorin concludes it.

Serving as a conclusion, the post-chorus does fulfill that role. Previously mentioned, with the post-chorus having power as a main aspect, Jooyoung’s note hold that carried over from the bridge comes off as natural. Furthermore, Hyorin also contributes to such by adding a background note hold. A final, climactic end point is given due to the amount of note holds given. Towards the very end, the vocals and instrumental fade off quickly yet precisely, and thus, a solid, sound conclusion is met. Overall, while the note holds and natural end fade are respectable, with the post-choruses not being absolutely stunning as a section, the conclusion slightly suffers from such.

Nevertheless, the post-choruses themselves hold as above average, and with decent note holds and a solid ending, the conclusion will still be held at above average.

– Line Distribution: 10/10 – With this collaboration involving two members, a perfect score should automatically be earned.

Since I would like to save time and be partially lazy it is rather complicated to list out how the sections were distributed, I will simplify this part. Many sections showcased equal, alternating lines, and at other times, unison singing. With the quantity being practically equal, the score will be a 10 as the distribution can be concluded as perfect.

– Instrumental: 8/10 – Although the instrumental in “Erase” is biasedly what I adore, I will exclude extraneous influences of personal preferences. In light of the instrumental itself, individually, the soundtrack is exceptional. The snaps provide a catchy yet rhymatic aspect and the piano tune holds responsible as the song’s main instrumental melody. Additionally, the bass plays a prominent and crucial role; with vocals taking a more energetic and higher pitched style, the bass compensates the lower note range, and additionally, provides a contrast that translates as a supportive foundation. On the subject of support, when accounting for the duo’s singing, the instrumental and vocals aid one another. Sonically, both parties mesh well and complement the other. The bass, as stated earlier, is one example of how the vocals and soundtrack reinforce each other. Another example is the piano which reciprocates the vocals’ melody and softer yet prominent style.

In summary, with the instrumental sounding spectacular on its own and, when factoring in how well the vocals are accommodated, a solid score will be earned.

– Meaning: 8/10 – With a title of “Erase” and a somewhat melancholy atmosphere, a sadder story is anticipated. Perhaps a couple ended their relationship, and as a result, the couple now attempts to “Erase” their history. Ending the speculations, through these Korean-to-English translated lyrics, the story behind the ballad can be discovered. As always, these lyrics are not 100% accurate:

(Hello) You changed a lot, your shorter hair
(Hello) Your thick makeup, you’re like someone else
(Hello) I know that I mean nothing
to you now, I feel it

You’ll forget me, whatever, I’ll just meet another girl
I’ll just meaninglessly meet another guy, it’ll be typical
Don’t look back so I can’t hold onto you, no way, yeah

I’m not that great of a person
Don’t think too hard, no
Don’t pretend to be nice, doo doo roo doo doo roo
We always had that kind of love, don’t say yeah

I’ll erase my love for you (erase) you
I’ll erase your number (erase) secretly
We can’t ever be, no no, that’s how we always were, yeah, yeah

(Good bye) I’m sick of the same words every time
(Good bye) We got more and more careless
(Good bye) I know that I mean nothing
to you now, I feel it

You’ll forget me, whatever, I’ll just meet another girl
I’ll just meaninglessly meet another guy, it’ll be typical
Don’t look back so I can’t hold onto you, no way yeah

I’m not that great of a person
Don’t think too hard, no
Don’t pretend to be nice, doo doo roo doo doo roo
We always had that kind of love, don’t say yeah

I’ll erase my love for you (erase) you
I’ll erase your number (erase) secretly
We can’t ever be, no no, that’s how we always were

(Bye bye) I secretly walked behind you
as your turned back grew darker
The farther you got,
I thought of you more
Without even knowing why, I keep missing you, bye

I’ll erase my love for you (erase) you
I’ll erase your number (erase) secretly
We can’t ever be, no no, that’s how we always were, yeah, yeah

Somewhat correctly predicted, “Erase” derives its title from a couple desiring to “erase” their feelings towards one another. Absurdly, a couple has parted ways after an unknown incident. With the two separating, they both feel that they are “nothing to [the lover] now.” What differs from these lyrics in juxtaposition to countless others is the peculiar scenario they are subjected to; the couple has split, yet ironically, it appears neither of them wanted to. Both the male and lady feel apathetic with finding new love-interests; after all, the male possesses a “whatever” attitude and simply claims he will “just meet another girl” and the lady will “meaningless meet another guy.” This unveils it situation is not one-sided, but rather, both are suffering from their separation. Diving into why the characters are no longer together, perhaps guilt consumed not one, but two of them; “I’m not that great of a person” is a self-claimed statement from both the characters, and additionally, a sense of regret appears from “don’t pretend to be nice.” Extracting these points, the couple individually might have felt that they were not worthy of the other person, and thus, decided to split ways for the better. Ironically, if that is the proper term, both of them feel they are bad for the other. Nevertheless, with the outcome taking the form of the couple separating, they attempt to move on by “[erasing] [their] love” and the other’s phone “number.”

In summary, with an exceptionally confusing, complex story, even with the details being somewhat limited, the crafted setting and plot hold as intriguing, and thus, a solid score will be granted. Many questions exist, and though details lack, enough meaningful ones exist so that one may infer the untold aspects. “Erase” holds my personal throne of being the song that has generated the most questions and pondering time.

Switching to the “Critical Corner,” unfortunately since the rap is removed, a lot of discussion points I previously had when listening to “Erase” have erased. Setting aside horrible puns and jokes, peering at the lyrics, the only discussion in mind is to address the idea of a split relationship. Though the background of “Erase” ‘s story remains vague, I still hold a general consensus of how split relationships should be: peaceful and accepting. Instead of songs’ often depicted stories of a severed relationship being the most traumatic event to ever happen, I believe in a more realistic and more humane outcome. Should a relationship end, both individuals should be on decent terms. Perhaps not close friends, but at the very least acquaintances who still acknowledges that the other person is alive. Of course, when accounting for why and how a relationship ends, this type of outcome may be skewed. Nevertheless, hopefully, if a relationship does end in the first place, it is out of agreement and proper terms and not due to a cheated relationship, a one-sided scenario, and other ones that are often time mentioned in songs or even movies and other mediums.    

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Choreography Score: 8/10 – Finally, the Choreography Score is left for grading. Even with being a slower paced song, dances are still possible, and “Erase” does erase the common mentality of how a song must be upbeat for a dance to be delightful (I will also start erasing my puns). Glancing at the syncing component of the dance, it is excellent. No issues exist with matching to not solely the beats/snaps, but also the flow of the song. Maneuvers that link to the snaps are clearly seen, and for matching the flow, though more subtle, movements such as at the beginning with Jooyoung are examples of syncing to the flow. The only moment in which the syncing was poor is towards the second verse; the leg snapping disclosed excellent coordination, but unfortunately, minimal syncing. Ignoring that piece, however, the syncing holds as solid. For the second main feature of the choreography, the key points hold well. Every dance set at each section were smooth in a multitude of perspectives; the transitions were fluent and natural, movement was cohesive,  and all of the dancing was rather graceful and charismatic due to fitting the song’s softer and emotional tone. Swapping to the backup dancers, they were properly used. The main spotlight still resided with Hyorin and Jooyoung, but for background work, the backup dancers fulfilled that role. Furthermore, with them adding an extra layer to the dance, some complexity is granted, and therefore, diversity with the dance is gleaned.

A solid score is earned here. Although “Erase” holds as a slower paced, graceful song, a dance that still remains energetic and equally charming as the non-visual component exists.

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Overall Score: 9/10 (8.5/10 raw score) – Shockingly yet humorously unsurprisingly, “Erase” finishes with a 9/10, and in terms of what that represents, the song can be deemed as amazing and, simply put, very good. Biasedly, I do agree, however, with the score being that high, I am slightly skeptical. Perhaps the perfect Line Distribution amped it up excessively, but despite that, the song is truthfully well-rounded. The lyrics deliver an interesting story, the song is structurally solid, the vocals are, of course, extremely potent, and with other factors, be it the instrumental or the more score-influential piece of the choreography all holding a respectable position, a high Overall Score should be envisioned and accepted.

As I always say, thank you very much for reading. Thank you for your time and support, I appreciate it all. This review took, after some hazy gauging, about 5 and a half hours in total to write. Two days were spent on such, the second day being more invested into. With unveiling my lack of living life and being a turtled reviewer the amount of time I place towards writing reviews, hopefully readers do understand why I cannot publish reviews at a quick pace. In the future, I may attempt to trim them down, but feedback and ideas on such would be desirable (and also feedback on my writing itself).

For future reviews, with finally searching up the date for Valentine’s Day, I will now begin my holiday-orientated song. Ignoring the upcoming ballad that suits the holiday, 4Minute will be having a comeback soon, and therefore, I will attempt to cover it as soon as possible. Besides that, however, a less popular group is in mind, and in contrast, a popular group with a differing song concept that I have yet to review will also be covered. Many reviews are in mind, time is what remains as my sole concern. With much work on my plate, reviews may be slightly hindered, but I will do my best to be as efficient as possible (time to follow my role model of T-ARA’s Soyeon by being very proficient and hasty with work).

Anyhow, stay tuned for upcoming reviews. Thank you once more for reading, and apologies for current and future delays. Even though “I’m not that great of a person” since my writing needs heavy improvement and refining (and, truthfully, I still need to grow as a person), thank you for continuing to check back. I will, unlike the song, never “erase my love for you.” Keep checking back for a more cheerful song, but in the meantime, keep away from cliffs, sharp objects, poisons simply stay happy doing whatever brings you joy.