Monsta X – “Beautiful” Review

(Music
Video—Dance Version)

Monsta X – Beautiful

Reviewed
on July 19, 2017

Particularly
for this review, I will briefly spend some time discussing the introduction and
post-chorus on an individual scale, but afterwards we will then entirely focus
on “Beautiful” ‘s overall composition. Specifically with that, despite how the
song very much inverts the traditional structuring of pop songs, I argue the
sheer uniqueness of such a composition is not enough to compensate for the drawbacks
that occur as a result.

Personal Message:
To the requester of this review,
huge apologies for the delay. That said, thank you for sending this in and for
being extremely patient as I slowly catch up on as many song as possible. And
with that, after this review I will also hastily finish the request for Day6’s
“I Smile.” There are many comebacks this summer and many of which are either
decent songs or songs that are quite creative in a composition sense, and so I
hope to cover as many of them as possible. (Additionally, with my new reviewing
style of focusing on main points and no longer necessarily dissecting each
minute detail, I feel that this goal is possible.)

On topic with the current review, while
requests tend to be of latest songs, it should be noted that Monsta X’s actual
comeback is “Shine Forever” if I am correct. Regardless of that, “Beautiful” is
still a relevant song to review and definitely possesses a lot of creative
compositional ideas. Furthermore, Monsta X in a general sense has been a group
I have always kept my eyes—or more accurately, ears—on. While they are already
relatively popular, I confidently say that in the far future it would not be
surprising if they become a top boy group—at least in a musical context (given
that the very topic of popularity is something that is highly complicated in
the K-Pop scene). For example, they have stunning choreographies along with
having very skilled vocalists—both standard and rappers. And, from my limited
experience, they also seem to appeal to audiences on variety shows be it on Weekly Idol or on a show where one
member showed his sweet, gentle fatherly side as he took care of a young child.
Lastly, besides their shameless “aegyo” moments, they also seem incredibly
close to each other and that it always something that will keep fans around as
it is incredibly heartwarming to see them being affectionate and caring for
each other. The only downside to Monsta X is that their beauty encourages
fanboys to engage in dark magic in hopes of also becoming as pretty as the men—or
perhaps that is just a sign that I need to stay out of the summer heat.

Horrible jokes aside, let us talk
about “Beautiful.” Although I will not focus too much on individual aspects to
the song—as, again, I am experimenting with a new reviewing style—there are
many topics to cover when it comes to the song in whole. Particularly for this
review, I will briefly spend some time discussing the introduction and
post-chorus on an individual scale, but afterwards we will then entirely focus
on “Beautiful” ‘s overall composition. Specifically with that, despite how the
song very much inverts the traditional structuring of pop songs, I argue the
sheer uniqueness of such a composition is not enough to compensate for the drawbacks
that occur as a result.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(5.50/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 5/10
(5.00/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
3/10

2.     Rap: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Post-Chorus: 6/10

6.     Bridge: 5/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 5/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 6/10

[Introduction instrumental]

Why is it you?
I’m going crazy
What is this?
I think I’ve fallen for you
All day, in my head
Round and round it goes
A question mark, every day
I know you have thorns
But I want you, red rose
Because of the thorns,
a beautiful rose can bloom
Dark red flowers, it means I love you
Even if I bleed everywhere, I want to know you
‘cause I think about you every day
I’m already addicted to you

When you touch me, my entire body reacts
I can only live if you’re here
Every day, every night
I can feel you

You’re so beautiful
I can’t take my eyes off you
Like a thorn on a flower
I know I’ll get pricked but I want you
So beautiful, so beautiful
You’re so pretty, so beautiful it makes me sad
Too beautiful to handle

[Post-Chorus instrumental]

Two fingers, thumbs up
You make me say words of awe
You take away my right mind
I think I’ll go crazy
When I smell your scent,
it spreads, it grows
I’m addicted
I’m prickled, hurt
It’s between love and pain
You’re so awesome
Don’t give out secret looks
Don’t smile at me
My head says: “no”
But my heart says: “oh yes”
I’m going crazy
I don’t know, I’m going all in

When you touch me, my entire body reacts
I can only live if you’re here
Every day, every night
I can feel you

You’re so beautiful
I can’t take my eyes off you
Like a thorn on a flower
I know I’ll get pricked but I want you
So beautiful, so beautiful
You’re so pretty, so beautiful it makes me sad
Too beautiful to handle

I know I can’t ever have you
I know you’re more beautiful when I only look
I’ll protect you, so you can bloom more beautifully
(My one and only baby)
I don’t care if I get hurt
’cause you’re my
one and only beautiful

You’re so beautiful
I can’t take my eyes off you
Like a thorn on a flower
I know I’ll get pricked but I want you
So beautiful, so beautiful
You’re so pretty, so beautiful it makes me sad
Too beautiful to handle

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Already,
to do some individual “dissecting” as I have termed it, I do wish to first
discuss the introduction and post-chorus. With the introduction, its score is quite
concerning: a three for below average. There are two reasons for this—one minor,
one major. The minor reason is that sonically, the introduction seems to fail
to capture listeners’ attention as it consists mostly of flickering, echoing
beeps. But, as introductions are not necessarily expected to sound glorious in
all cases, this criticism can be minimalized. That said, the other and
significant reason that I find the introduction troublesome is that even on a
structural level, the introduction is extremely detrimental to the song. As we
will further discuss, the introduction highly alienates itself from the rest of
the song: aurally, the song does not quite utilize these similar sounds until
the conclusion; structurally, the introduction does little to set up the
upcoming rigorous, powerful rapping. Combining both of these views and we now
have an introduction that not only sounds unappealing, but it is one that also
fails its very own role of establishing the song’s sound and style and
attracting attention. Furthermore and most importantly, with how “Beautiful”
struggles (as we will get to) to remain a cohesive song that is not sharply
divided between certain parts, this introduction does not help with that and
instead merely adds onto that very problem of the song overly “splitting.” On
the other hand, the post-chorus in “Beautiful” was, in many ways, the opposite
of the introduction: The sounds utilized are indeed related back to the song’s
core instrumental. Additionally, the pause provided from this section helped
connect the song’s sections rather than further splitting apart the sections as
does the introduction—this being due to how the slower, passive style is
relating back to the prior chorus and is to ease into the upcoming rap section.

All
that aside, though, let us consider “Beautiful” in a wider lens. Regardless of
how much we could analyze the vocals, instrumental, and the remaining sections,
none of that would reach the true core of the song: the composers crafted “Beautiful”
so that it completely flips around how sections work in traditional pop music.
To build some background so as to not confuse readers, by using the phrase “traditional
pop music” in relation to sections, I am referring to the simple progression
that pop songs tend to follow. In summary, the song starts off slowly and gradually
builds in intensity and that said intensity climaxes at typically a chorus.
This format then repeats. Now, for what is impressive about “Beautiful,” this
structure still exists—but in reverse; indeed, the composers have made it so
that the song starts and almost already
climaxes at a very early point. Only at the choruses does the song finally
begin to relax. And to be more clear, we can find this occurring if we think of
the song in this manner: the rapping sections are the climactic peaks—this we
can hear and feel from how powerful and sharp the sections are—and the
remaining sections, that of the pre-chorus and chorus, are focused on calmer
singing and are backed up by an instrumental that emphasizes a linear flow
versus having fluctuations throughout. (Think, after all, of how Monsta X’s “Hero”
has a chorus where the instrumental is at its prime and is constantly changing
and in action. Compare that to “Beautiful” and we realize the instrumental at
the choruses are not climaxing at all, but rather are resetting and relaxing
the song.)

So,
while this challenge to the traditional norm of pop songs deserves some praise
for the sheer fact that the composers took a significant risk, we still have to
ask the main, critical question: Is this strategy actually effective? I argue both sides: yes and no. On the positive side, as
already stated, one benefit is that doing such is unique—and certainly, having a song that is distinct is crucial
and always helpful. However, ignoring this perspective, there are still
potential musical strengths that are gleaned. The main gain is that this
inverted format allows the rap sections to become the song’s highlights—the song’s
“choruses” if we even dare say such. Especially as the rap sections are already
decent ones that appeal via flow, power, and rhythm, having them as the
spotlight and climactic points are not a bad decision. And, admittedly, this
inverted format might be the only way such a song could accommodate the raps:
if the raps are already quite intense, having an even more intense chorus might
be unrealistic as it would be far too excessive. Likewise, positioning the raps
after the choruses and using them to reset the song would also be difficult as,
once again, that would counteract the very purpose of calming down the song
given that the rap sections are quite rigorous.

Positives
covered, let us now focus on the negatives. Unfortunately, while this inverted
format can work and other songs have very much utilized it to high success
(Girls’ Generation’s “Bump It” is a solid example in mind of this inverted
format), there is a reason for why
the traditional format is used. With “Beautiful,” the pre-choruses and choruses
become lackluster—both due to mere comparison with the rap sections, but also
and mostly due to how the song ends up unintentionally dividing itself. As
hinted earlier with the introduction section, that and the rap sections are
drastically different from the calmer sections of the songs. While the
post-chorus helped provide a connecting link for one chorus to the upcoming
rap, the same cannot be said for the earlier moments and the introduction itself.
This abstractness caused by such significant differences in sections and how
there is a lack of “building up” to any sections—or even “building down” for
that matter—makes “Beautiful” sound somewhat disorganized. It is not to a
significant degree as are other songs I have heard, but it is a fault
noticeable enough that prevents “Beautiful” from utterly excelling.

All
in all, “Beautiful” is still a decent song. The vocals and lyrics are solid
points to appreciate, and of course, the very fact that the song itself is
structured and composed in a way that defies the common pop song progression is
something that should be respected. But, sadly, the traditional “build up” pop
progression is there for a reason: it is naturally intuitive, allows a song to
easily remain organize, and so forth. The composers came short with covering
the potential weaknesses of not following
a traditional pop format, but nevertheless it was an impressive effort and
considering that many of Monsta X’s pop songs are actually of the usual format,
a change is never too bad. I still find many other songs from the men to be
more appealing than “Beautiful,” but regardless of my take to it—as, after all,
readers and fans should feel free to disagree—I wholeheartedly support the men.
I find that they have a lot of potential in the K-Pop scene both musically and
as role models for fans, and I will continue to look out for future content
from them.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, I greatly apologize for even further delays. I technically did
finish this review on July 15, but only now did I actually finish the writing
process. (I have shared this a year ago and even recently if correct, but I
write reviews in two phases: brainstorming and actual writing. The
brainstorming is where I have all of my discussion points clearly laid out, and
only after is it when I turn those bullet points into actual words.) Slowly but
surely I am fixing my poorly developed summer habits, but excuses aside, I do
hope this review is enjoyable and thought-provoking. And of course, thank you
to everyone—both readers and requester. I truly appreciate any time given to
the blog.

For
upcoming reviews, Day6’s “I Smile” was requested quite a while back and I will
now finally begin and finish it. I am excited for that review as not only is it
within the pop-rock genre, but the song itself truly is unique and almost
entirely deviates away from usual pop song formats. If “Beautiful” is already
seen as unique, “I Smile” ‘s composition truly did its own take to pop-rock
music. And during my time with that review, Red Velvet’s “Red Flavor” will end
up getting a review—even if unintentionally. I was enjoying the song in a
casual style, but that soon led me to actually critically analyzing it and
finding how—once again—creative it is, but also that there are many weak links
in the song. Until then, “I can only live if you’re here”—not because I am
obsessed with readers, but because I am finishing this review rather late at
night that I might suddenly faint. Kidding, of course; though it is extremely
late in my standards (eleven at night), this review was worth it and I very
much enjoyed writing it.

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.)

Cosmic Girls – “I Wish” Review

(Dance Practice)

Cosmic Girls/WJSN – I
Wish

Reviewed
on February 17, 2017

Finally,
this takes us to our review. Although Cosmic Girls is flourishing with their
choreography and have solid stage presence for “I Wish,” I argue their weaker vocal
execution in the song is what greatly holds it back. The song in theory does
play out decently as we will discuss, but in application with how the vocals are
delivered, the song loses much of its appeal.

Personal Message:
It has been almost two weeks since
the last review—this being perhaps the longest delay the blog has seen. To
explain the absence of reviews, I have been incredibly busy with university.
Moreover, though, I have been using my “review time” to instead subtitle a few
videos along with preparing a lesson that I taught to seventh graders and
indeed, all of this took up the time that would have been for reviewing songs.
(On the random note of teaching seventh graders, it should be clarified that this
is not due to the fact that I am officially teaching. Rather, I am still
gathering experience and teaching informally. That said, I am able to have teaching
sessions as my current “cooperating teacher” is incredibly welcoming, helpful,
and overall is such a wonderful person.)

Nevertheless, I greatly apologize to
the requester of this current review and additionally another requester who has
been patiently waiting for their request on BTS’ “Dead Leaves.” I hope to spend
this weekend catching up and to finally get to a bonus post that focuses on
technicalities of sound in general. Especially since February is a shorter
month, I do feel quite pressured to simply get out as many reviews as possible while
still, of course, inputting a genuine amount of effort and care per post. And on
a random note, an additional bonus post will be coming out soon: a post that
provides a discussion on how SPICA, a very vocally-skilled group, can somehow
never receive spotlight and are now on “hiatus” (of which is SPICA’s Narae’s
gentler way of saying the group is temporarily disbanding). In short, I plan to
discuss—in a speculative sense—what it actually takes to be popular in the
K-Pop scene since, akin to almost all pop cultural music around the world, there
is a lot more than just music at
play.

But, let us now focus on what we
currently care more about: Cosmic Girls’ “I Wish.” (And to address potential
confusion, the group is also referred to as WJSN due to abbreviations if
correct. However, Cosmic Girls is the official name similar to how Girls’
Generation is the official name for that group versus their abbreviation of SNSD
and thus, I will refer to Cosmic Girls as their official name from here and onwards.)
With “I Wish,” to already discuss it in a somewhat critical fashion, I wish—no
pun intended—to clarify that the song is something that I term
“performance-based”; in other words, the beauty and strengths of the song is
more in its choreography and stage presence than the song’s own sounds and
composition.  

As we will shortly get into, I will
argue the song is relatively weak. In fact, statistically speaking, it is a
tenth away from being labeled as “slightly below average.” This is personally
shocking as if I recall correct, the requester did mention they believed this
group was underrated. Now in a general sense, I do agree: Cosmic Girls
certainly have brilliant dancing skills and their songs are not utterly weak—and,
of course, it would be nice for every group to receive a “healthy” amount of
popularity. (In a somewhat cynical manner, by “healthy” I refer to the amount
that allows a group to be financially stable. I do assert that life is much more than money, but indeed we have
to be realistic and acknowledge that finances are a huge driving force to
artists—or the lack thereof when it comes to groups being quite inactive due to
faring poorly with profits.) But even so, on a more critical level—and more so
if focusing on music—I disagree with
the requester: Cosmic Girls, I argue, have yet to release any stunning songs
that would make them “deserving” (again in a loose sense) of more popularity.

However, putting aside pessimistic outlooks
on the ladies, I think Cosmic Girls definitely have the room to grow. In fact,
I like how Starship Entertainment is handling the group: the songs they receive
tend to be decent in the realms of composition and production. To be clearer, the
songs themselves—ignoring the vocals, essentially—tend to actually be decent
songs if we analyze the structures, the instrumental, how the song flows, and
so forth. What lacks the most for Cosmic Girls, then, is themselves: their singing
and rapping. If the vocal execution on their part improves—and indeed, this is
basically a guarantee if the ladies practice and train—then over time I foresee
Cosmic Girls faring very well with possessing both solid dancing skills and vocal skills and decently composed songs. And indeed, this is the ultimate goal
of all groups: to be adept at both dancing and singing (and rapping) and have
stronger songs. (Since I mentioned SPICA, they provide an “inverse” example to
Cosmic Girls’ situation and this might make more sense for readers. SPICA is
very vocally impressive but, especially given their last comeback, their songs’
production can be weaker. Barring “Tonight” and especially “Ghost,” many of
their other songs lack in composition despite their vocals always shining and
thus, their songs are still overall average even if they individually excel
with singing and rapping.) Overall, point being is this: Starship Entertainment
has handled the composition and production of Cosmic Girls’ songs well. Now,
though, it is time for Cosmic Girls themselves to elevate their singing to an
even higher stage.

Finally, this takes us to our
review. Although Cosmic Girls is flourishing with their choreography and have
solid stage presence for “I Wish,” I argue their weaker vocal execution in the
song is what greatly holds it back. The song in theory does play out decently
as will discuss, but in application with how the vocals are delivered, the song
loses much of its appeal.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 5/10
(4.50/10 raw score) – “Average”


Vocals: 3/10


Sections: 4/10
(4.43/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 4/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 5/10

4.     Chorus: 3/10

5.     Rap: 3/10

6.     Bridge: 5/10

7.     Conclusion: 6/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 6/10

[Introduction instrumental]

Just tell me why
You only want to walk on flower paths
Tell me why
This girl only wants to be loved
Tell me why
Boy and girl, walking on a flower path
Then we met destiny (destiny)

When you pass me by,
I tremble so much
You wake my heart up,
like early flower petals
You are building up in me

I’m so fine, look so fine, I look pretty
Because I’m receiving love more and more
Out of all these people,
only you are the most handsome
of all the universe

Just tell me why
You only want to walk on flower paths
Tell me why
This girl only wants to be loved
Tell me why
Boy and girl, walking on a flower path
Then we met destiny
Tell me love, talk to me
Oh oh oh, I’m curious
(Tell me why)
Is this the love I wanted?

We’re resembling each other, more and more
The distance is getting closer
The more we spend time together,
the more my heart trembles

Hurry and walk into my heart
No one has ever told me
Out of all these people,
only you are the most handsome
of all the universe

Just tell me why
You only want to walk on flower paths
Tell me why
This girl only wants to be loved
Tell me why
Boy and girl, walking on a flower path
Then we met destiny
Tell me love, talk to me

Each day is like a dream
On this road that is made with your love
There remains our footsteps
I hope it’s you when I open my eyes

I’m gonna go blind at this rate
You’re dazzling, did you swallow light?
You’re a miracle that came to me
Now I’m holding my hands out so I can reach

Just tell me why
You only want to walk on flower paths
Tell me why
This girl had a lot of secrets
Tell me why
Walking on this path like a picture
We met destiny
A different landscape is before our eyes
Oh oh oh so beautiful
You and I, it’s like a dream
Boy and girl, walking on a flower path
Then we met destiny
Suddenly, you are close, in front of me

[Conclusion instrumental]

_______________________________________________________

Analysis:
While numbers can never quite speak for themselves, I do find the current
ratings misleading. After all, it appears that the song is not excellently composed if the sections themselves are scoring
poorly—but this is not the case due to a particular reason as will get to. “I
Wish” in of itself definitely possesses compositional strengths.

For
example, the sections are cohesive. Even if the choruses sound poorly, it is difficult to deny how to the sections flow well
into one another. Transitions between each section are subtle yet beneficial
and one moment in particular is worth much praising: the pre-choruses. Relating
back transitions, both the “before” and “after” transitions are smooth to this
section, but more importantly the sections’ conduct is brilliant. Consider how
the pre-choruses open: slower, calm vocals and instrumental which then
gradually build towards a minor note hold. It is incredibly effective for the
song in whole of reaching its climactic peaks (the choruses, as is typically
the case) but also doing such grants the song appeal via variety. Especially in
juxtaposition to the other sections that do not
offer that level of diversity, the pre-choruses become a key core of “I Wish”
as it is structurally quite solid and sonically provides some appeal. Likewise,
other features are decent to the song: the lyrics for its creative plot and
somewhat varied details; and lastly its instrumental for providing the song a
reliable foundation even if it partially lacks sonically. And yet, readers
still might have a critical question in mind: but why are the sections still poorly
rated for the most part? Answering that is our next focus.

In
short: the vocals are indirectly affecting the sections, hence why for example
the pre-chorus is still rated as average even when it is a rather impressive
section given what it provides for the song and how creative it is. Now while
sections oftentimes are not associated with vocals per se, we have to understand
everything is still fundamentally connected. For example with the pre-chorus,
as discussed it is structurally
strong: within the section it remains quite diverse and fluid, and in an
overarching view the section transitions the song and helps in the process of
building it up. Nonetheless, the raw sounds
that occur are weaker but we still have to acknowledge those sounds to a
section are still ultimately a part of it. With this in mind, let us focus on a
few specific aspects.

The
choruses are arguably the song’s weakest part. The main, impairing aspect is
how monotonous this section comes across. Instrumentally and vocally, there is
little variation at play. At most there is a slight change in pace towards the
latter half of the choruses, but for the most part the sections sonically and
structurally are too rigid. Furthermore, the attempts to break out of the
sections’ tedious format—the electronic vocals added (and more specifically, I
am referring to the “auto-tuned” parts) throughout the choruses—prove futile
and, more detrimentally, do quite the opposite. With vocals that carry minimal
strain and intensity and equally an instrumental that is predominantly
recycling basic, electronic noises, piling onto all of this the auto-tuned
vocals that are equally meshed into the instrumental make the choruses sound
more monotonous. Should some variety take place—perhaps some added vocal power
or a slightly more complex tune—the choruses would have performed better.

Another
section worth covering is the rap. This section is perhaps the worst in “I Wish”
as it lacks both in execution and composition. For one, the placement of the
rap is already peculiar: after a chorus. Now on the one hand I understand why
this was chosen: it allows the rap to seamlessly transition in—and indeed, this
is very much true and as discussed earlier, cohesion is a huge strength to “I
Wish.” Nevertheless, on the other hand it should be noted that because of how
the rap itself plays out—being tedious in its sound and flow as the rap had
minimal fluctuations and ultimately only had speed as its charming point—it almost
sounds as a mere extension to the already stale, repetitive choruses. If either
the choruses were more diverse or if the rap’s execution allowed it to differentiate
from the current choruses’ sound, the rap would have worked very well. As is,
unfortunately, the rap is in a difficult situation of fitting structurally but
not sonically.

If
not for the weaker vocal delivery in “I Wish,” many of the current issues I
pointed us to could have been avoided entirely. Again, I wish to emphasize that
the song’s composition is actually decent; if the vocals were somehow more
diverse be it through added power or a more complex tune, then the current
sections as is appear fine. The rap section’s situation is the best example of
what I am attempting to get at—after all, as said it fits perfectly in the song
but given how it vocally sounds along with how the choruses vocally sound, it
no longer sounds suitable as it becomes far too monotonous. Even if the song
miraculously scores at a five, we need to bear in mind that that is not quite the
case: it is nearly a four and therefore a “slightly below average” one.

All
this said, while I have been rather critical of Cosmic Girls, it should be
clarified that my words are not to be interpreted as bashing the members
personally or with their skills. On a general level, their singing is still “good”;
even if I am heavily critiquing them on that level, we all need to acknowledge that
they are still singers and therefore “can
sing.” My critique, then, is not to claim they should not be singers or that
they are bad at singing but rather
that their singing within the context of
“I Wish” is inappropriate for it. Additionally, without doubt their vocals will
improve over time and given that Starship Entertainment is handling the composition
and production of Cosmic Girls’ songs quite well as mentioned, this means that
Cosmic Girls will begin excelling in
the future. Fans should very much continue to support the ladies and I
personally look forward to their future releases. Besides, as a future post
will soon discuss, K-Pop is not just purely about the audio to a song: it
involves the choreography, stage presence, attending shows, and so on. With
Cosmic Girls holding well with their dancing and—from watching a few videos—them
being quite entertaining on shows, the group is still worth supporting and
caring for.

_______________________________________________________

Huge
apologies to the requester of this review, but it finally is released. I am
still running with the plan of keeping reviews condense and focusing more on
critical moments, so I hope this was able to come across in this review.
Likewise, I hope the review is thought-provoking and not just, say, “emotional-provoking”
as I hope the points I bring up are disagreed (or agreed) with in a respectful,
mature manner versus fans being purely reactive without giving deeper thoughts.

For
the next review, look forward to BTS’ “Dead Leaves”—a request that I am quite
late on—and two bonus posts that will discuss SPICA’s hiatus and music
equalizers. Thank you to all for reading this review in full or skim. I
appreciate it all. Look forward to the next post and know that “You wake my
heart up, like early flower petals.”

Hyorin – “Paradise” Review

(Music
Video)
/ (Live
Performance)

Hyorin – Paradise

Reviewed
on November 25, 2016

Bearing this in mind, with “Paradise”
its use of the “build-up” pre-chorus is not only plain, but the execution
behind it comes short and thus, the trade of creativity for effectiveness is
wasted: there is no gained “effectiveness” at all.

Personal Message:
Oddly enough, I have never reviewed
a solo song by Hyorin. While I did review “Erase” in the past, I consider that
more as a duo than a solo. What I specifically had in mind was that I reviewed
“One Way Love” before, but surprisingly I have never done so. (Or if I did,
this goes to show how awful my searching skills are.) Regardless, because I
have not done so, this review is even more encouraging as I truly do wish
to—roughly said—review artists I have yet to review. (Again, this is a slight
stretch as Sistar and Hyorin already have much spotlight on the blog; it is the
fact that I have never reviewed a solo
by Hyorin that I feel excused to say such.)

Edit:
Timing is off due to posting this later.
For random news and updates, I am on a slight break for
Thanksgiving. With this holiday, for those who celebrate it, in addition to
perhaps time spent with loved ones, I do encourage the “theme” of genuinely
being thankful for what one has. (And even if one does not celebrate
Thanksgiving, I think it never hurts to seriously ponder over that.)
Personally, when it comes to people, I am incredibly thankful for past teachers
I have had, current professors (although certainly a “past” professor as I had
the fortune of having a wonderful professor during high school), friends, family,
and my lovely girl (a terrier-mix dog). For more material-based things, I am
very thankful for this blog and, if I could travel to the past, although I
would be not-so-nice with my old self, I would at least thank him for starting
this blog.

For a more serious challenge,
though, to Thanksgiving (or at least a time to ruminate over gratefulness), I
challenge readers to be thankful for otherwise “invisible” people, things, or
acts. For a bad example, I seldom actually stop to be grateful for the
existence of music—strange, is it not? After all for someone who reviews K-Pop
and is constantly surrounded by music and the privilege to spend time analyzing
it, how would I take music for granted? And yet I do. Now for actual examples
of thanking “invisible” people or things, how often does one truly thank, say,
the janitors in a school?

On topic, I want to keep this review
a bit more concise than usual. I do this for, as the usual, balancing school
workload, but furthermore I simply want to begin getting back into the flow of
writing reviews. Admittedly, given how long it has been since the prior song
review, it feels awkward and difficult. Thus, just getting reviews out—even if
a few have to be mediocre for the time being—is the plan.

With that, for our review of
interest, while “Paradise” is no longer accurately called a “comeback” as it
has been a few weeks since it was released, it is still somewhat recent and
definitely a new solo from Hyorin after quite a long time and thus this review
should still feel relevant. Furthermore, I have planned to review it since its
release as, admittedly, I am greatly disappointed at the song. The composition
and even execution on Hyorin’s part are lackluster, and knowing Hyorin’s prowess
as a vocalist, “Paradise” sincerely fails to bring her justice.

Of course, though, for this review
we will focus neither on “blaming” Hyorin nor anyone for that matter; the
purpose of reviews is to critically engage with a song’s own composition and
decisions made in that regard—all while maintaining maturity and respect. If
the following words come across as overly harsh, it should be noted that all
these critiques are towards the composers’ ideas and not to personally attack
them in any manner. And besides: I think it is about time the review focused on
songs that are actually lower than average. I sincerely do attempt to bring a
critical ear and mind to songs, and truly, many K-Pop songs at their worst
reside at average. This makes sense: many composers know what they are doing
and how a general audience best receives a pop song. Thus, at worst, a song may
sound “generically pop” as I have coined. But, as we will see, there are times
where I will boldly argue composers can come short and instead craft a song
that is somewhat unappealing.

And so, let us head to Hyorin’s
supposed special paradise. We would expect such a place to be beautiful,
amazing, and so on, but I instead found that we have landed on an island where
our ears are struggling to stay alive.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 3/10
(3.25/10 raw score) – “Below average”


Vocals: 4/10


Sections: 3/10
(3.33/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
4/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 3/10

4.     Chorus: 2/10

5.     Bridge: 2/10

6.     Conclusion: 4/10


Instrumental: 2/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Yeah
Welcome to paradise
I know you want it
Let’s have some fun

You always wore your jacket
Never took it off, so perfect
Even if winds of temptation blew at you
You were just like, “I don’t care”
I’m curious, I want to check
If you can reject even me
Do you not like to date
or have you not met a girl like me yet?

Even if I don’t move a finger,
I can open your heart
Your confident eyes are so cute to me
I’m going to approach you so don’t be surprised
I’ll make your heart hot
I’ll show you a dazzling paradise

Yeah, I’m different
Uh, huh
My temperature is different
It’s hot hot hot, when you’re with me
You’ll be hot hot hot, I’m always hot
Take it off, take it off, I already won
I know you want to
Listen up

You always wear black sunglasses
Covering your eyes, pretending not to care
Even if all these eyes of temptation pour on you
You don’t even turn your head
I’m curious about your limit
Poke me, make me burn even more
You’ve never seen this before, never even imagined
Your jaw is gonna drop, oh God

Even if I don’t move a finger,
I can open your heart
Your confident eyes are so cute to me
I’m going to approach you so don’t be surprised
I’ll make your heart hot
I’ll show you a dazzling paradise

Yeah, I’m different
Uh, huh
My temperature is different
It’s hot hot hot, when you’re with me
You’ll be hot hot hot, I’m always hot
Take it off, take it off, I already won

[Bridge]

Even if I don’t move a finger, I can open your heart
(I’m a paradise)
Your confident eyes are so cute to me
(Cute)
I’m going to approach you so don’t be surprised
(Don’t be surprised, yeah)
I’ll make your heart hot
I’ll show you a dazzling paradise

Yeah, I’m different
Uh, huh
My temperature is different
It’s hot hot hot, when you’re with me
You’ll be hot hot hot, I’m always hot
Take it off, take it off, I already won

I’ll show you, paradise

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Shocking
for some, the song does score at a three for below average. In this review, we
will first focus on what I argue are the song’s weakest aspects—the sections
and instrumental, and afterwards, we will focus on the strengths of the song—the
vocals in certain cases.

With
the sections, they are arguably in one of the worst scenarios a song could face:
generic in format, but on top of that, poorly executed and failing to meet with
each section’s goal. The pre-choruses, choruses, and bridge are excellent
examples to look at.

When
it comes to the pre-choruses, I think many would agree they follow a generic
format. For those unfamiliar or unable to hear it, the general pop pre-chorus
is when the pre-chorus takes a pause in intensity and pacing once the section
occurs, and from there, it gradually begins to build up in intensity and
increases in its pacing. Consider it a “dive-down-then-back-up” type of format.

Now
regarding why it is troubling in “Paradise,” the use of an extremely common
technique is already limiting in of itself. Pop songs—ones that wish to stand
out—need to deviate away from these
very typical forms while still maintaining some familiarity. In “Paradise,”
this is not the case: it follows quite rigidly a generic pre-chorus format. The
result, then, is that “Paradise” in juxtaposition to other pop songs becomes
indistinguishable and that lack of specialty makes the song negligible.

Another
problem is that the pre-choruses fail
in their goal—and this is despite using a generic format. Explaining what I mean
and why that is significant, we should first understand why this “build-up”
pre-chorus format is typical in the first place. Although there are many
answers, I argue one of the prevalent reasons is that, simply put, it is
effective: a casual listener can hear the clear transition and it is very
predictable in form; in other words, it is easy to follow. Bearing this in
mind, with “Paradise” its use of the “build-up” pre-chorus is not only plain,
but the execution behind it comes short and thus, the trade of creativity for
effectiveness is wasted: there is no gained “effectiveness” at all.

In
terms of why I claim this is from two main reasons: one is that the vocals and
instrumental fail to connect, and secondly, the actual shifts in intensity
occur far too late. With the former, it is quite absurd that Hyorin’s vocals
are already escalating in intensity and yet, the instrumental drags behind. Later,
the opposite occurs: the instrumental begins to outpace the vocals’ own shift
in intensity. This lack of coordination, as a result, leads to listeners
becoming confused—and ironically enough, the reason this generic form is used
is to prevent that in the first place. Lastly, for the latter, it should be
noted that the pre-choruses stall towards the beginning half; during this
portion, the song is in a “break,” but it does not do anything else until the
second half. Only then do we receive the actual shift in intensity. Overall,
with a very late shifting point and the vocals and instrumental conflicting
each other, it leads to rather compromised pre-choruses.

Although
I do wish to discuss the bridge and choruses in the context of format, I believe
the prior example should give a general guide as to what I am thinking.
Essentially, this same idea applies to the bridge and choruses: generic in
format, and yet still lacking in execution and therefore, failing to be
successful in the sections’ general goal. As such, let us now proceed to the
instrumental itself—a category I believe that equally weakens “Paradise.”

Harshly
said, the instrumental is definitely a weaker one that I have heard. Only Hyuna’s
“How’s This?” comes into mind as another equally weak instrumental. Within the
instrumental itself, it lacks in both sonic appeal and structure—though ultimately,
I assert the latter is the more detrimental aspect. Either way, in terms of why
I claim the instrumental in a raw sense—a sonic sense—is poor, it renders as
extremely chaotic and lacks complexity. Of course, though, simplicity in an
instrumental can be very beautiful
and effective—Taeyeon’s “11:11” is the best example by far of an amazing
instrumental despite simplicity—but in “Paradise,” given the song’s sections
are all rather generic, having an overly simple, linear instrumental fails to
match the sections. And onto the point of the instrumental being chaotic and
disorganized, this lack of cohesion between the sections’ purpose—think back to
our discussion of the pre-choruses—and the instrumental’s actual flow creates a
confusing, rough listening experience.

Optimistically,
however, as in any song—no matter how weak—there will always be strengths. In “Paradise,”
while the vocals do score lower than usual—and more so if we consider that it
is Hyorin, a singer who normally rates at a seven—the vocals are still actually
the strongest point in the song. Why, then, I give a four is that the vocals
are only the strongest point in certain
situations
; the problem is that, for a vast majority of the song, the
vocals are exceptionally limited in their tune and diversity. Ignoring that,
though, the verses in specific are a good example of what could have carried
the bulk of the song: vocals that are more strenuous and adding a large amount
of tune and flow to an otherwise stale, typical pop song. The minor vocal
beltings here and the variety of note fluctuations definitely grant the verses
some credit—and this being why these sections in particular scored much better
than the rest.  

All
in all, while we truly could look through each section and at each detail to
the song, I believe the given analysis provides a sufficient view on where I
gauge “Paradise.” (And as always, I have to strike a balance between readers who
are very much into analyzing music versus casual fans who want to see where
some people are rating their favorite artist’s songs—I openly welcome both
types of readers and do my best to accommodate both audiences.) In the end, “Paradise”
is, sadly, a below average song; there are far too many weaknesses to the song
and barely any positive points to compensate for those glaring issues. Again, I
wish to emphasize that it is not Hyorin to blame—or, as said, anyone for that
said. “Blaming” is a poor word to use here; the word that is accurate is “critique.”
At most I am critiquing the composers and producers of the song. Knowing Hyorin
is a solid singer and that past releases of her’s—solos or duos—have been quite
decent, this latest release is beyond disappointing. She deserved a far better
produced and composed song, and boldly said, I believe fans equally deserved
better.

Regardless,
however, fans should still very much support Hyorin and Sistar on a personal level,
but as I encourage in reviews, fans should always be musically (and socially if
it arises) critical of the music they consume. And that said, realize I am by
far no specialist in music at all: it is absolutely fine—encouraged, even—for readers
to disagree with me. This is why I write reviews: not to merely share my
opinion, but to begin igniting an intellectual discussion among fans. But, in
short, “Paradise” is a disappointing release and I hope there are much better
composed songs for Hyorin’s future solos.

_______________________________________________________

As
always, thank you to all for joining in this review whether read in full or
skimmed. I do hope this review comes across as genuine critique and not, say,
unnecessary criticism for the sake of “being above pop music.” In other words,
I do attempt to share my take to K-Pop song in a more reasonable way; “Paradise”
scoring poorly is not an attempt to garner attention via controversy. I
personally do find it a weaker song, but again, a weak song does not mean the
composers in of themselves are unskilled nor are the singers involved
unskilled. This song in specific is what is weaker.

In
terms of the next review, UP10TION has surprised me with their latest song, and
given that I am behind reviewing male groups, they will receive priority. That
said, 2NE1 recently disbanded, so it might be time I finally give one of their
songs a review and for me to perhaps give personal opinions on the manner and
why, I argue, it is definitely healthy for fans to be upset and that they are
not “delusional” or “should just get over it.”

Until
then, “Even if I don’t move a finger, / I can open your heart” through reviews—and
by “open your heart” I mean by frustrating readers with mediocre writing
skills. Just look forward to the next review.

Mad Clown x Kim Nayoung – “Once Again” Review

Mad
Clown x Kim Nayoung – Once Again (Music Video)

Mad Clown x Kim Nayoung – Once
Again (Descendants of the Sun OST)

Reviewed
on September 10, 2016

From the verses and choruses and
even in the bridge, the singing remains overly
simplistic. While this may create contrast with the rapping and therefore
enhance Mad Clown’s parts, it still remains problematic, and more so with how
it affects the song structurally.

Personal Message:
It has been quite some time since
the last review—a week, if being specific. Although that is not as drastic as,
say, two weeks, it is still a rather lengthier period given that reviews should
be coming out every four to five days. As such, I do apologize for slightly
lacking. But all that said, I have been incredibly busy. It is already
difficult enough to be consistently atop of school work, let alone reviews and
subtitling videos. I will do my best to balance both university and personal
activities, but as many would expect, university does have a priority. Thus, I
ask for readers’ (and viewers’) patience and understanding, and specifically
with this review and perhaps a few that follow, for being even more concise
than usual.

On topic, though I have said that
GFriend’s reality show, Look After My Dog,
was going to be next, I have decided instead to focus on this request. To the
requester, once again thank you for sending this in and moreover for being very
patient. If the show would have been reviewed first, this current review would then
be pushed back even farther and that is rather unfair to do—hence why this
review is occurring now. Nonetheless, I will review the show at one point if I
find myself busy to the extent that a bonus review is necessary. Focusing on
the song now, personally I was surprised to find that it was a drama OST (for Descendants of the Sun) and not an
actual single. (And on an irrelevant note, I plan to watch Cheese in the Trap at one point and to perhaps review it so as to
mark the first drama review of the blog and first drama I would entirely watch.
And yes, I am unfortunately that
viewer who flails and clenches his hands wildly during romantic scenes along
with chanting “Kiss!” all while probably simultaneously crying. I obviously am
very emotionally stable during dramas.)

Jokes aside, though my knowledge on
dramas is limited, from past experiences and coincidentally past requests, I
have found that drama OSTs tend to be quite solid and as a result have high
expectations for this song. But, once again as in every review, we have to ask:
does this song meet said expectations—both high and standard? And once again,
we will have our answer—but in the review, of course. And, once again, I need
to quit the awful puns if no reader has yet caught them.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(6.25/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 6/10
(5.83/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Chorus: 4/10

3.     Rap: 7/10

4.     Verse: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion: 7/10


Instrumental: 5/10


Lyrics: 8/10

Will I see you again?
I’m standing in front of destiny
that has passed me by again
Was it a dream that we couldn’t wake from?
You’re getting farther away and I couldn’t tell you
Not even once
I love you
Deep inside my heart
Don’t let me cry

You’re a dream that’ll disappear once I touch you
Like snow that melts
When I missed you, I became you
I didn’t hold onto you
because I thought you’d come back
I thought I’d see you again if I kept longing for you
The start and end of my feverish feelings
I’m standing at the start and end
Like an emergency light,
I’m the only one with the light on in the darkness
No matter how much I think about it, the answer is you
But I’m writing the wrong answer in my heart
I try pushing you out but you’re still there
And now you’re inside my dreams

(I don’t wanna lose you,
be without you, anymore)
I thought hard but I don’t know
how to live without you
(I don’t wanna lose you,
be without you, anymore)

Will I see you again?
I’m standing in front of destiny
that has passed me by again
Was it a dream that we couldn’t wake from?
You’re getting farther away and I couldn’t tell you
Not even once
I love you
Deep inside my heart
Don’t let me cry

If only I can go back for one day
If only I can live that day
If only I can turn back the words and actions that hurt you
If only I can make you less lonely and hug you tight
If only that day I crazily regret is given to me once more
I would never let go of your hand again
I only need you to beautifully bloom
I’ll be a thorn for you
Damn it, why didn’t I know back then?
If I held onto you, would things be different?
It’s you anyway for me
Even if I leave you, it’s you anyway

(I don’t wanna lose you,
be without you, anymore)
I thought hard but I don’t know
how to live without you
(I don’t wanna lose you,
be without you, anymore)

I’m standing in front of destiny
that has passed me by again
Was it a dream that we couldn’t wake from?
You’re getting farther away and I couldn’t tell you
My heart

I’m still crying
(Don’t let me cry)
I’m waiting right here
until my heart gets exhausted
Don’t say goodbye
Come back to me
Come to me whenever

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Although
an overall rating of a six is nothing to dismiss, I will admit this song was
rather disappointing in terms of what I personally expected. Given the ballad
style of the song with inclusions of rapping, it would, on a superficial level,
seem to be both very unique all while sonically holding well. But,
unfortunately as we will cover, this is not the case.

First,
though, for the strengths of this song, the vocals and the lyrics are of the
stronger aspects. With the latter, it flourishes in the two main features I
look for: details and plot. As noted the rap sections especially but also the
other sections, the lyrics in these parts are very diverse and seldom repeat
identical ideas. Furthermore, even if the plot is of the usual heartbreak,
tear-inducing story (and perhaps to relate to the drama), due to the level of
depth involved and the peculiar composition style—both monologue and dialogue—the
plot is still very exceptional. Focusing on the vocals now, it is a rather
interesting case. Mad Clown’s vocals in his raps remain solid, but on the other
hand with Nayoung’s singing, it does render as stale. Now that said, I will
acknowledge the opposing viewpoint: Certainly the style of the song—and of
which cannot be critiqued directly as discussed in past reviews—elicits a singing
style that is moreover linear and passive, and thus, I should not be critiquing
Nayoung’s singing as stale. However, for my argument, even within a
stylistically linear song, there can—and should, in most cases—be some variety
in the vocals. Nayoung’s vocals, while sonically soothing and charming, lacks
in just that: variety. From the verses and choruses and even in the bridge, the
singing remains overly simplistic.
While this may create contrast with the rapping and therefore enhance Mad Clown’s
parts, it still remains problematic, and more so with how it affects the song
structurally.

On
that note, the sections and instrumental are “Once Again” ‘s weaker components.
The overall issue with these would be how all of them are conducive to creating
an excessively linear flow. Again, linearity as a style is not bad; likewise, a
fast, upbeat song is not automatically good. What matters is the delivery of
said style, and in “Once Again,” the style is absolutely fine but the delivery
of it is a bit weaker. On topic, the instrumental is similar to Nayoung’s
singing: individually it sounds well, but on a larger scale the instrumental only
provides basic transitions and more importantly does not quite progress the
song. In blunt terms, the instrumental is just there; the instrumental provides
a background for the song, but nothing more with adding extra dynamics. That is
why the score is average. Now with the sections, though statistically it is at
a six, the choruses are perhaps the weakest point in the entire song. Reason
behind this is that the choruses are, unfortunately, the result of all of the
mentioned weaknesses: a dull instrumental, duller singing, and a duller
structure. The choruses merely exist and carry on the song, but little is
delivered in terms of actual content itself.

Overall,
“Once Again” is not a song that is flawed by its style; as discussed, the style—as
is any—is fine and the rapping is very much augmented by its form. What is
lacking, however, is that many parts are left and being too simplistic; even within simplicity, unless if properly managed and
executed, there should be some minor variety and changes occurring. Otherwise,
the result is what “Once Again” showcased: a section (or more) that ends up
holding space without providing much else. After all, shouldn’t each aspect to
a song be somewhat memorable and distinct? All in all, “Once Again” is still a
decent song despite these rather significant drawbacks, and indeed the rapping
and ballad combination is, in an overarching view, enticing—even if a more
critical hearing reveals some weaknesses.

_______________________________________________________

As
always, thank you to the requester for sending in this song and thank you to
others for reading, both in full or short. I truly appreciate it all, and it is
unfortunate that my robotic, tedious repeating of the earlier line does little
to showcase that. Finally to add, I will apologize if this review proved a bit
less in-depth than usual, but as mentioned due to being quite busy I have no
choice. On the positive side, however, I find it may be best to cover more
songs and to discuss the more critical, provocative points than to dive into
all of the details (as I slightly did in this review). More experimenting is to
occur, and with that, the next review will be on Red Velvet’s “Russian
Roulette.” It will be the first time I review the ladies, and it will also be
the first time I have personally and critically enjoyed a song by them.

Until
then, “Come back to me / Come to me whenever” for a review on Red Velvet’s
recent comeback.

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.”

Monsta X – “Hero” Review

Monsta X – Hero (Dance Practice Halloween
Version)

Monsta
X – Hero (Dance Practice)

Monsta X – Hero

Reviewed
on October 31, 2015

Personal Message: Truthfully, ZE:A’s “Ghost of the
Wind” was to be reviewed, but a change of plans occurred. Nevertheless, this
works out favorably: Halloween is directly related, and this review will be on
a relatively newer group and song (the group and song came out around September
if accurate). Most likely this will be a bonus review akin to the prior one, but I may decide to write it as a
standard review after all (in other words, more analysis will be given). If the
latter does occur, however, I will still be keeping it relatively concise so
that my piling list of homework shrinks, and of course, it is Halloween so I
wish to keep the review lighthearted. On that note, happy Halloween for those
who celebrate it, and for those who do not, hopefully this day is as fabulous
as previous days.

In truth, though, I expect readers
who celebrate Halloween to, at most, give out candy rather than
trick-or-treating themselves, and thus, there may not be a large “celebration”
after all. But, everyone is certainly free to do as they wish, such as
trick-or-treating despite being rather older. That said, I do anticipate many
readers being that of an age group of high school to college, but younger and
older readers are certainly welcomed. I hope my reviews do reach out to
everyone regardless of age, race, gender, and so forth. The sole restrictive barrier
may be that younger readers may struggle to comprehend and conceptualize
certain concepts I discuss, both musically and socially, but I very much do
hope I reach a variety of readers from all over.

Focusing back on the review, as it
is Halloween and I do wish to keep this review cheerful, I will tell a horror
story: I have actually never gone trick-or-treating in my 18 years of living.
Insert horror movie scream here. While my family has celebrated Halloween in
the context of giving out candy for school (during elementary), in terms of
trick-or-treating or giving out candy at home, neither were ever done. Many are
horrified at this “experience,” but this is merely a difference in culture,
and, as I always urge, it is about respecting differences. I very much still
consider myself an “American” despite not having ever celebrated Halloween (and
more so with discussing sensitive topics of race, gender, and so on), and that
I still had a “normal” and good childhood—even if it did not involve gorging
myself with Halloween treats.

Now for an actual story, especially
with Monsta X’s Halloween dance practice showcasing spider plushies all over (I
partially promise I am not using “plushy” to reduce fear), for a lack of a
better phrase, I did become slightly creeped out. If I had never shared yet
with readers, I do admit I have a fear of spiders. However, I would like to
believe my fear is justified and that, overall, I still do appreciate spiders.
Expanding on the latter, I appreciate spiders not quite because of their
purpose in the environment and keeping insects’ population in control (after
all, those obviously cannot be good reasons), but rather because a spider
allowed me to realize a hidden talent: amazing singing vocals—as a child that
is. Allow that to sink in. Though in my current time I am far from musically
talented and nowhere near possess ZE:A’s Kevin’s charming voice, as a child I
was hitting notes that MAMAMOO’s Solar hits (on a side note, she is amazing and
I aspire to be like her): incredibly high pitched and powerful note holds. It
just so happens I needed the encouragement from a spider to discover that. In
short, for what did occur as a four year old child, my mother failed to wash
away a spider that was in the bathtub. Therefore, when I was being bathed, I
had eye contact and saw in vivid detail a medium-sized brown spider on my knee.
Needless to say, I unleashed the mentioned inner Solar vocals I had.

Bad story aside, reflecting over my
theology professor’s incredibly jocular story of his “horror” Halloween
adventure, perhaps my spider incident is not worthy of justifying my current
fear of spiders after all, and that missing out on Halloween is not necessarily
unfortunate (and that I feel very grateful for having amazing professors, and
for having had an amazing professor and teachers). Transitioning to a more
serious topic (readers should skip to the review by now unless if interested),
with mentioning “theology,” readers may now become curious of multiple
subjects: the type of university I attend, or more generally, my thoughts on
religions.

Blatantly with K-Pop, it is seldom
for religion to be introduced unless if it is AOA’s Jimin praying in hopes that her cable ride would
not break during the show of “One Fine Day,”
and thus, I will take
advantage of this opportunity to discuss a rare, sensitive topic that is
exceptionally important—similar to how race, gender, sexual orientation, class,
and more should be discussed. First, with taking theology class, from my
understanding, it is true that religion cannot be taught in public schools
unless if in a secular context. For example, the teaching of the history and
facts behind religion is allowed versus, for example, teaching religious ideas,
such as with how the Catholic God wants people to side with those who are
excluded (such as by siding with homosexuals; if there are readers who wish to
discuss this idea of whether homosexuality is a “sin,” I am open to explain
this stance of how the Catholic God does, in fact, embrace homosexuality—more
will be explained later).

On topic, because it is a theology
class and thus, is related to the teachings of religion directly, this does
showcase that I am attending a private university. As my review of GOT7’s “Just
Right” will explain in the lens of beauty, I do acknowledge being privileged in
class (I am able to afford being fashionable, for example). Even with
scholarships, my family being middle-classed greatly increases my chance of
being able to attend a private university (though I have been in public schools
my whole life prior to recently). Therefore, likewise with being privileged in
gender and sexual orientation (male and heterosexual) and other categories,
even if minoritized in race, I openly acknowledge the unfair privileges that I
do have and wish to share these personal facts with readers.

Continuing, for those curious at my
religious affiliation, I have shifted all over: I was raised with Buddhism, but
then transitioned to atheism, and then later, switched to being agnostic.
However, for what I consider myself now, it is a surprising, unusual stance: agnostic,
Buddhist, and Catholic. All simultaneously. This should sound as entirely
ridiculous and that I am confused and fail to understand what religion is as
all three cannot co-exist—especially with being agnostic as that would
contradict also being Catholic and Buddhist.

Defending this absurd position, I
will first explain the background that has influenced me to now adopt my supposedly
“wrong” affiliations. As stated and to intimately share, I used to be an
atheist—the one that was misguided with what atheism was. I used to be very
firm in the idea that no divine beings existed, and that if anyone did believe
in such, they were merely silly. Atheism may be the perspective that no divine
beings exist, but the latter idea is not a part of it; being an atheist does
not mean bashing and degrading religious affiliations that do indeed worship
divine beings—it solely means not believing in said divine beings. I was
limited in view and failed to respect differences. If this stance was applied to
other lenses, the damages I brought are further accentuated: my bashing of
other religious affiliations was like bashing females, non-Asians/non-Whites
(depending on which group is the “dominant” race; refer to other reviews for
this concept), non-heterosexuals, and so forth. Thankfully, as I became
educated in the common areas of race, gender, and class during senior year of
high school, I expanded on such via also looking at religion (and other
categories). In the end, a replayed message is seen: respecting and attempting
to understand different views and opinions.

As a result, for the ultimate point,
with finally learning to embrace differences and to love said differences, I
adopted my current three religious affiliations as I find myself believing in
all three. I am agnostic because there are instances where I neither deny nor
believe of a divine being, such as perhaps with scientific ideas. Homogenously,
though, I still believe in the Catholic God existing and guiding those who
follow Her/Him/It (and notice, another interpretation; rather than just Him, my
view involves Her and It) to be allies with those who are minoritized for
whatever reason (be it race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.).
Lastly, Buddhism is also believed in as I find it important to connect with
everything around so that kindness and understanding are gleaned—to others and
one’s own self.

Overall, it is not “wrong” to be an
atheist or agnostic, nor is it wrong to be a Muslim or Christian. What is
wrong, however, is when differences are not tolerated—when different religious
affiliations, genders, races, classes, and so on, are not equally respected. With
religion, no religious affiliation is superior or more “right” than another,
and furthermore, for the interpretations within a religious affiliation, every
view also has to be accepted and understood. Returning to the earlier point of
how I stated the Catholic God wishes for privileged people to reside with those
who are excluded so that everyone can be within Her/His/It’s embrace, I also
have to hear from the perspective that states that the Catholic God does find
certain groups of people as “sinful” and deserving to be outside of “kinship.”

It is all about treating and seeing
everything with equal respect, even when it can be enraging to do so, such as
with hearing out the perspective that females are inherently inferior to males.
This all does not mean to be passive (I will passionately disagree with the
prior example as I believe both females and males are equally worthy), but it
does mean that rather than entirely ignoring various, disagreeable
perspectives, genuine discussion and thinking should take place so that
understanding is met.

Discussions of religion aside, of
which I do hope readers find interesting and thought-provoking (also, I do
apologize if any reader feels uncomfortable with me bringing in religious
examples; this is for the purpose of context, not to “force” readers to believe
in certain stances and religions), Monsta X will finally be of spotlight.
Biasedly, I do adore “Hero” and am glad the seven men of Monsta X released a
Halloween special since if it were not for that, I would not have heard this
song. With such, though I personally enjoy the song, this review will,
obviously, be impartial and solely of systematic grading.

In terms of Monsta X, I have watched
their first appearance on the variety show of “Weekly Idol” when their senior
label group, Sistar, accompanied them (and AOA with N.Flying and Secret with
Sonamoo). While they did elicit laughter, in honesty, I did not find them
distinctive (nor N.Flying and Sonamoo; the episode, while comical, did not
personally lure me into the newer groups). Optimistically, with this song,
Monsta X has finally caught my attention. Whether with their prettiness (refer
to Teen Top’s “Ah Ah” for a discussion of homophobia;
there is no problem with me, a heterosexual boy, complimenting the men’s
beauty), their powerful and swift dancing, or their admirable vocals, Monsta X
has much potential considering they are new in the K-Pop industry.

Before finally beginning the actual
review (at this point, every reader should just read the review now and then
return here later), there is one minor note to make: the lyrics to “Hero,” once
critically analyzed, are slightly questionable. Infinite’s “The Chaser” possess similar lyrics, and thus, I
will simply refer to it, but in short, the lyrics do—most likely
unintentionally—objectify females in a sense. The problem is not that females
should not be “protected” by males or that females should not want to be
“protected”—this is all up to a female’s decision—but the problem is that
females are equated to trophies. The idea of “protecting” is not inherently bad
if it includes the idea that both males and females can “protect” (physically
and emotionally) and that both males and females can be protectors (there are,
after all, many songs where the lyrics are of a lady protecting her lovely
boy), the issue is where the protecting stems from and how it varies per gender:
for females, objectification; that women are trophies to be hoarded, won, and
protected.

When a male is being “protected,” it
is usually out of general love and other romantic-related ideas and seldom due
to “owning the boy.” Conversely, when a female is being “protected,” the same
word suddenly connotes a new meaning: it is protection because a “man” has to
do such; it is because a man “must possess her as his”; it is because “others
will claim her.” Definitely, there is the rebuttal that “protecting” is
necessary as males desire to “claim” women and that “protecting” repels those
unwanted acts, but if no boy in the first place decided to objectify females,
and thus, no “claiming” ever took place, the need for protecting will also fade
away. The Lyrics category may not be affected in score whatsoever due to
social-level analysis, but it is still very much worthy to be critical of what
songs perpetuate. In “Hero” ‘s case, though seemingly romantic, the lyrics are
merely recycling an arguably misleading idea of what love is for females.
Monsta X are certainly not to blame as they are solely performers, but the song
producer (or lyrics composer) is worthy of questioning. More largely, society
in general is worthy of critiquing as the song producer may have simply got
her/his idea from asking, “What do females consider romantic?” And that answer
has been unfairly established.

Definitely beginning the review, in
addition to how I urge readers to be critical and open for differences, I now
have also displayed the result of what stress due to overworking leads to excessively digressing.
I will be more organized in future reviews, but I always do hope my words
provide new insights. After
all, how often do you hear an 18 year old boy claiming he is Catholic,
Buddhist, and agnostic—without him being drunk
. Pitiful jokes aside,
this review will determine if “Hero” will receive horrific ratings or not.

_______________________________________________________

Song Score: 6/10
(6.4/10 raw score) – “Slightly above average”


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 6/10
(6.14/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 8/10

4.     Chorus: 5/10

5.     Rap: 6/10

6.     Bridge: 6/10

7.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Line Distribution: 9/10

Shownu:
Verse 1, Verse 2 (Total: 2)

Wonho:
Verse 1 (Total: 1)

Minhyuk:
Verse 1 (Total: 1)

Kihyun:
Pre-Chorus 1, Pre-Chorus 2 (Total: 2)

Hyungwon:
Verse 1, Verse 2 (Total: 2)

Jooheon:
Rap 2 (Total: 1)

IM:
Rap 1 (Total: 1)

All:
Choruses, Conclusion (Chorus)  


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 4/10

Y’all know what it is
Monsta, Monsta
Monsta X is a pitch(?) right here
(What, what, what, what)
Look at me, let’s go

As I watched over you all day
I discovered just one problem, yeah
All those fake, wolf-like guys
who keep bothering you
No, you’re mine
I have the duty to protect you
I’ll protect you
so no one can ever take you easily

You’re so beautiful that I have many enemies
It’s like playing a game to protect the princess
Don’t worry, I’m your man, I can be your hero

I can be your hero
I can be your hero
I can be your hero, I can be your man
I can be your hero, I can be your man
I can be your hero, I can be your man
I can be your hero, I can be your man

I can be your hero, all villains get back
I’ll wrap up all the bad guys
and put them in the next truck
Every single one of them look like a beast,
throw ‘em away at the zoo
They’re just all talk,
spitting out nonsense to have you
(What?) If you thought I was easy,
eat a mushroom and grow bigger
Put on underwear over your pants and put on a cape
Sometimes wear a suit,
shine a light from your chest, we shine
Everyone bow your head

This is my last warning
When I get mad, I change scarily
I’ll protect you
so no one can ever take you easily

You’re so beautiful that I have many enemies
It’s like playing a game to protect the princess
Don’t worry, I’m your man, I can be your hero

I can be your hero
I can be your hero
I can be your hero, I can be your man
I can be your hero, I can be your man
I can be your hero, I can be your man
I can be your hero, I can be your man

I’ll take out all your villains
like bang bang bang bang
I’ll fly around
in the sky like Superman
I’m gonna hang on the edge of your lips
and make you smile like Batman
I’ll tell all the villains
who make you cry to go away

I can be your hero
I can be your hero, I can be your man
I can be your hero, I can be your man
I can be your hero, I can be your man
I can be your hero, I can be your man

– Choreography Score: 8/10

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

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: Beginning
with the Lyrics category since it appears that I am being hypocritical with
scoring, to be direct: the lower rating is not because of the earlier tangent
involving the lyrics. Also to note, I am uncertain on the introduction’s word
of “pitch”; admittedly I do hear “b****,” but since I am in doubt, I will leave
it as “pitch” to be safe. Regardless, again, social analysis will not influence
the score if it does turn out to be “b****” (also I would prefer to not censor
the word as it is being used maturely and academically, but I will do so that
every reader is comfortable). On topic, to explain the lyrics’ lower rating,
the ideas are highly basic, and worsening the situation, those ideas become
reiterated often. For example, besides the transparent example of how the
chorus endlessly recycles “I can be your hero, I can be your man,” a line that
is overly used and plain, other sections include the pre-choruses. If more
depth were to be added to the lyrics, and if less repetition occurred of using
exact lines, then perhaps the rating would be higher. However, with the current
lyrics, the plot is too simplistic and the given details fail to bring any
unique points.

Addressing
the vocals, Monsta X’s singing for “Hero” can be considered above average.
Vocals may not be extensive and strenuous such as with superb note control, note
stretches and note holds, but all of the singing definitely remain melodic. Whether
it is the raps, verses, or even the straightforward choruses, and most certainly
the pre-choruses, all of “Hero” contains vocals that are alluring, diverse, and
powerful. No point in the song showcases vocals that are bereft of tune or of
an absurd, unwelcomed singing style. Relating the instrumental, a six is in place.
When it comes to meshing with the vocals, the instrumental perfectly blends
and, additionally, augments the vocals in that power and rhythm are now added
to the vocals’ flow. This is flawlessly seen in how the pre-choruses are
conducted, of which will be explained later. Explaining why the instrumental
score is not to a higher tier, the choruses are to blame. Excluding that
section, the instrumental is catchy, powerful, melodic, and it provides “Hero” ‘s
soothing, deeper frequencies, but once the choruses’ instrumental piece is
factored in, it does become slightly chaotic and mundane. Nevertheless, it is overall
an impressive EDM instrumental (if that is accurate).

Quickly
running through the Line Distribution, miraculously despite a few members
having exactly one section, the lines are all evenly split. Although Monsta X comes
very close to a ten, as discussed in my prior review of f(x), unless if every
member has the exact number of sections, the highest possible is a nine.
Nonetheless, a nine is fantastic and will greatly aid the Song Score.

Discussing
the sections, many are rated at a six. Overall, the main, consistent reason for
those sixes is: those sections fall short due to lacking an aspect of some kind.
Nearly all of the sixes sections nearly meet a seven rating. Using an example,
the introduction delivers charisma and power, and additionally, seamlessly initiates
the song, but the introduced instrumental lacks in a sonic context, hence the
decreased score. Furthermore, in opposite, the verses are attractive sonically
due to the excellent vocals, but structurally the verses carry no distinctive
form. The conclusion is also identical with the verses: solid singing and a
proper closure, but nothing else proves special. Predictably, the rap and
bridge follow suit in lacking a minor yet important detail. Specifically, the
raps could be more enticing with delivery, especially through being more cohesive
as the current pacings’ and stressing points’ fluctuations are hectic, and for
the bridge, while the unique structure is appreciated, it does fail to be
infatuating in sound as it does rely upon the instrumental, of which is not the
strongest by itself.

Peering
at the choruses, I did foresee a significantly lower score due to the
instrumental, but with the added vocals, the choruses are saved. Combining both
the choruses’ lines and the prominent, dynamic instrumental that occurs, while
both are mediocre individually, in cooperation both allow the choruses to
thrive as the section becomes a powerful, rhythmic and contrasting point for “Hero.”
Every other section is melody-oriented, and thus, with the choruses differing, variety
is extracted for the song in whole, and also, the contrast creates emphasis for
both parts: melodic sections are seemingly more so, and the choruses are
seemingly more powerful and beat-based. Ending on an exceptionally promising section,
the pre-choruses reap a high score of an eight. Why this is the case was hinted
at earlier: perfect synergy with instrumental and vocals. First, the
pre-choruses adopt a traditional form in that a lighter tone is adopted, and
that beats accelerate in rate. Though such is normally despised as it lacks
originality, “Hero” manages to execute it. The main driving force behind the
success is Kihyun’s singing. Upon the pre-choruses taking place, Kihyun’s
singing follows the trend of becoming higher pitched and gentler, but
simultaneously, his vocals equally picks up in intensity and melody as the
section continues. Thus, for an outcome, the pre-choruses become a perfect mix
of vocals and instrumental working with one another. Organized, lively and
tuneful, and very much unique.

Finally
ending the review with the choreography, an eight is earned for the dance’s
score. Arrogantly (and cheesily) said, the dance speaks for itself. Both main
categories of the choreography are exceled at, whether it is the key points or
syncing. “Hero” ‘s key points remain varied, as noticed by how every section type
includes its own exclusive dance point. Even if repeats within a section type
(pre-chorus, chorus, etc.) occur, due to how complex and detailed each dance
set is, appeal remains in place. Syncing is also stunning as every single
maneuver reflects back to the song’s audio. There are no points in which any
movement is off-sync. Now, shifting away from a robotic analysis, in an
overarching view, the dance is truly phenomenal. It is powerful and fun, and
with the choreography disclosing movements of all kinds and speed, anything
less than an eight for a score would be misleading. The dance is a flashy,
seducing dance that perfectly showcases Monsta X’s skills and ability to match
with song.

_______________________________________________________

Concluding,
Monsta X’s song of “Hero” finishes out with an overall seven, of which
indicates it is an above average song. Musically, it does hold as slightly
above average, but the weaker lyrics are at fault. Sonically—pure sonically with
solely sound—the song is impressive, though to confess, still repetitive at
times. Regarding Monsta X, with the seven gentlemen being classified as rookies
yet showcasing stellar singing and dancing, I hold high anticipation for future
releases.

Thank
you very much for reading, and for many readers, this review may come as
surprising: it is released right after the last one. Seven hours of grinding
writing will be of credit. Unfortunately, I did brush aside homework for the
purpose of finishing this on time for Halloween, but positively, if I was able
to write for a total of seven hours in one day, I can do the same with homework.
On point, thank you very much for reading any bit of this review.

November
is arriving, and I do have a few reviews in mind already. Reflecting over this
current review outline, I greatly appreciate what it brings. Reviews are more
concise, and most strikingly, are now even more fun to write. At times in the
past, reviews did feel laborious, but due to this shorter format, I feel that I
am able to get to the main points of a song without feeling bored. Also, I
managed to reach my goal of five reviews—though, of course, I did “cheat” with
having two shorter reviews. Nevertheless, this creates more potential of the
number of songs I am now able to review within a month. Once again, thank you
for reading, and for the upcoming review of November, GOT7’s “Just Right” can
be expected. While “I can be your hero,” and “I can be your man,” I will
clarify that the two phrases translate as: I will continue writing reviews as a
“reviewer hero,” and that my “being a man” is simply continuing to love fashion
and makeup, and to speak out against social inequalities and inequities—since doing
those things is, in fact, masculine. Stay tuned and keep checking back.

Sistar’s Mini-Album – “Shake It” Review

Reviewed on August 6, 2015

Sistar – “Shake It” Mini-Album

Personal Message: In addition to the revisions for standard song reviews, as experimented in Apink’s “Remember,” album reviews also have been slightly modified: ignoring the minor change of adding in an album’s title directly into the review itself, for what remains most significant, the entirety of a song’s lyrics will be included. In the past, I have included the lyrics, but in the form of my personal interpretation. For standard song reviews, while I do offer my own take to the lyrics, doing so is appropriate as the full lyrics are included, and thus, readers are still able to create their own interpretation. However, for album reviews, with solely my perspective to the lyrics, it is highly one-sided, and therefore, to redress such, adding in all of the lyrics allows for readers to have true, various insights. Lastly, for the conducted analysis per song, rather than abstractly dissecting each one, I will translate the criteria in standard song reviews over, but as a difference, numerical values will not be included. Offering clarity, I will focus on a song’s Vocals category, Sections category, Instrumental category, and so forth, but without drawing a definite statistical value (as those are preserved for standard song reviews, but the “Atrocity Approval” will be the ratings for album reviews). If successful, album reviews will be more focused yet concise.

Transitioning topics, as of this sentence, it is August 1. I did intend to post this review by July, but I decided to finish an online course first (which I may discuss later). Nevertheless, this will allow August to begin with an earlier review, and though July is over, I will include a miniature reflection in this Personal Message. To begin, as it has been a while since I have tracked the blog’s view count, I will list it: 10,279 total views by the end of July. With the last gauge being May with 6,540 views, an increase is visible. However, as always stated, though reassuring to find growth exists, view counts in themselves are worthless; I have minimal care towards popularity, and thus, the current view count is negligible. I began writing for the sake of reviews, or more accurately, discussions, whether akin to music or social, and will continue to do so and never switch priorities to that of garnering more popularity. But, of course, for readers who do enjoy the blog, I do place priority towards said readers.

On that note, for a notable piece to reflect upon, the review outline for standard songs has underwent multiples changes, all in the hopes of maintaining quality while boosting publish rate for the purpose of readers and myself. The linked review of Apink’s “Remember” is the first trial, but many more are to come, and with reflecting over it, I am relatively satisfied. Redundancy, especially with the Vocals category and Sections category, have reduced, and thus, reviews are more concise, and as a result of that, more can be posted. Especially with university arriving shortly, it is simply unsustainable to take four to seven days per review. Three days, at most, is my desired time span for reviews. Nonetheless, more trials will have to be done for standard song reviews to discover if more optimization can take place. Also, in an official monthly reflection, I may reflect more deeply with my writing and analysis, but, as mentioned, with a new outline, I would desire more time before pondering over such.  

For a slight digression (and readers may skip to the review itself now), for other reflections, as stated earlier, I have finished one of my summer assignments: an online course (a summer book reading and write-up are left). Although the label of “course” appears intimidating, it was a shorter one, but specifically, for the course’s topic, it dealt with general college safety in the lens of sexual violence, and drugs and alcohol. Offering brief opinions, while it was personally a repeat of lessons as, very gratefully, much discussion on the topics occurred during my time in high school, I do appreciate the online course being required for all incoming freshmen. Whether  it is perceived as reminders or new lessons, the topics of rape and such are vital to discuss, especially with college being the most vulnerable time, as statistically showcased.

However, with those subjects, although the course is certainly welcomed, the related subjects require more than basic coverage; it is impossible to speak of solely college rape, for example, without discussing the deeper roots. To bring more understanding, I will utilize a personal timeline: junior year of high school, I was taught that sexual violence is prevalent, finding certain resources for help, and that no one should conduct such; senior year of high school, the basic, general health guidelines of sexual violence was not so much the focus, but instead, a critical stance was taken to understand what rape truly is. To specifically continue with the topic of rape, it is not a mere, isolated incident; rape is not an individual act of crime. Rather, rape is a symptom of gender inequities in society, hence why females are significantly more affected than males (though that is not to mute male rape victims; in fact, the reason for why male rape victims are discredited can also be tied to gender inequities). On topic, for the intended point, once again, though I cherish the online course’s requirement and existence, it solely covers the surface of rape (and other college-related social issues), and unfortunately, if the discussion ends at that point, issues will not be dealt with directly. Regardless of how uncomfortable the discussions may be, they certainly should take place, and though the online course began the route, I do hope it is somehow continued, such as in actual classes.

In the future, if the mentioned topics arise, I will elaborate in more depth. Adding a final digression, for the topic of college in a general context, eventually, I may express current feelings. Nervousness yet excitement holds, and overall, those words best describe my emotions toward beginning college. Perhaps an “AtrocityCL Talks” video will be made to discuss it as, blatantly, it does not relate to K-Pop (though neither the prior point, but that should not render it negligible). Workload and academic difficulties are my main concerns, but, I do feel prepared, especially with being able to think critically (credit to teachers and professor, and in fact, they have allowed me to view rape from a social background rather than as a pure health issue, as discussed).

Abruptly returning to Sistar, the group that should have been of highlight from the very start, their latest album will be analyzed. “Shake It” was planned for review, however, I failed with properly staying on schedule. Thus, to slightly redeem the situation, an album review will, though briefly, still manage to cover their recent comeback, and of course, other songs. On the note of the mini-album’s songs, weeks ago, when I was casually listening to the album, I did come to a hasty, inadequate conclusion that the album was weaker. However, after a more serious glance, I have changed opinions: “Shake It” is, predominantly, the weakest song in the album, but for the remainder, many hold exceptionally. Although curiosity now exists at why “Shake It” was the title song, this review will discover if the “Shake It” album is a “Good Time,” overall. Despite how my mediocre writing may warrant comments of “Don’t Be Such A Baby” or that I am a “Bad Guy,” I can confidently state: the mini-album does “Go Up” once horrible puns the title song is overlooked.

__________________________________

1. “Shake It”(Audio)

– Lyrics: 

Money maker, rough shaker
Heartbreaker, chestbreaker
Net payer, wrong savior
(one, two, three, go)

A dance to only tempt you (you)
I’m blasting my charm into your heart (you)
Just by our fingers brushing, my heart pounds
My heart is shaking
Shake it shake it for me
Shake it shake it for me

Nana nana nana (hey)
Nana nana nana (hey)
This electrifying feeling makes me dance
This moment (shake it)

Ba-ba-baby
Love me, love me, love me now
Don’t you know my shaking heart?
So let’s dance
Just shake it, let’s dance
A little hotter, completely wilder

Make it louder
More, make it louder
Keep shaking me
Amazingly shake me (shake it, oh shake it)
All night with me, shake it baby

Very fun and smart (shake it shake it)
Our entire body is electric, us two (shake it shake it)
We’re seriously connecting, this place is on fire
When I move, move, we found our place
Shake it shake it for me
Shake it shake it for me

Nana nana nana (hey)
Nana nana nana (hey)
This electrifying feeling makes me dance
This moment (shake it)

Ba-ba-baby
Love me, love me, love me now
Don’t you know my shaking heart?
So let’s dance
Just shake it, let’s dance
A little hotter, completely wilder

Make it louder
More, make it louder
Keep shaking me
Amazingly shake me (shake it, oh shake it)
All night with me, shake it baby

Shake it, oh shake it
Shake it up, shake it for me
Shake it, oh shake it
Shake it up, shake it for me
Shake it, oh shake it
Shake it up, shake it for me
Shake it, oh shake it
Shake it up, shake it for me

Shake it for me my baby
Shake it for me my baby
Everyone come together and dance
Just shake it, let’s dance
A little hotter, completely wilder

Make it louder
More, make it louder
Keep shaking me
Amazingly shake me (shake it, oh shake it)
All night with me, shake it baby

– Analysis: Before beginning, I do apologize for this review’s delay. I am attempting to finish a remaining summer assignment, and for other excuses, I have been allocating time towards subtitling videos versus writing. In fact, it has been two days since I have wrote anything. Optimistically, however, even with two days off, I have received a review request for Wonder Girl’s “I Feel You,” and for a personal choice, T-ARA’s “So Crazy” will certainly be reviewed.

But, on topic with Sistar and “Shake It,” as hinted before, this song is not impressive. At most, the vocals in “Shake It” are the sole notable aspect: note stretches occur all over, and thus, the melody is augmented; a powerful vocal presence exists, especially due to Hyorin, a stellar singer; and lastly, the vocals do variate with different pacing, styles, and even strength. Now, once the vocals are ignored, “Shake It” utterly crumbles; if the song is examined from every aspect minus the members’ singing, it holds pitifully. For example, the instrumental renders as incredibly basic, and though simplicity is not faulty in itself, with it failing to reciprocate the vocals’ qualities, the instrumental ultimately falters. Furthermore, for the lyrics, equal plainness exists: the plot is not enticing.

Focusing on the most detrimental aspect to “Shake It,” the sections are horrendous, though harshly stated. Realistically, the first and only verse in the song is respectable, and in many ways, would net a higher score numerically if it were reviewed with the standard outline. However, excluding the verse, every other section lacks a momentous component: the introduction, while suiting its role, fails to be musically captivating; the choruses and post-choruses are incredibly mundane as both fail to differentiate, and for the sections’ standard roles, none are met; for the pre-choruses, the vocals may be decent, but with its format adopting an archetype of pre-choruses, as unveiled with the “nanana,” little appeal holds; finally, for the rapping, it was incredibly sluggish and unsuiting to any prior styles, and for the bridge, the entire structure was one repetitive mesh of lines.

– “Atrocity Approval”: Overall, “Shake It” is a rather mediocre song. Especially coming from Sistar, it is surprising to find a lower tiered song, but as stated, for the ladies themselves, their vocals were solid. Thus, though “Shake It” can be concluded as a weaker song, it is the production at fault rather than a languishing of skills. In the end, no approval will be given. “Go Up,” to be eventually discussed, should have been the title song.

2. “Don’t Be Such A Baby”(Audio)

– Lyrics:

Why are you acting like a child?
When you call me late at night and I don’t pick up
you always get so hysteric
When will you grow up?
Stop acting so tough, don’t regret this
Because I know you’ll cry and beg me again

Sometimes, I want to lean on you
I want to act cute towards you
But I’m so frustrated when you act so immature
Don’t you think it’s time
you stop being so stubborn?
Want a real man,
show me that you’re a man

Stop being such a baby, stop being such a baby
When I see you complaining
it drains me out, oh please
Stop being such a baby, stop burning me up
Where did all that assuring love go?
Eh, eh, eh, stop being such a baby
All day long
Stop whining and crying oh oh you baby
Eh, eh, eh, stop being such a baby
All day long
Stop whining and crying oh oh you baby

I really don’t wanna get up in the mornings
The nights are long because video games are fun
There’s so much to see in the world,
there are also many problems
I hate fighting with you, let’s just get past it
Why are you making things complicated, making me tired
Stop frittering like scissors, we’re more like a hair clipper
Acting refined like your friend’s boyfriend
It feels so heavy, I don’t like it, I won’t ever grow up

Stop being such a baby, stop being such a baby
When I see you complaining
It drains me out, oh please
Stop being such a baby, stop burning me up
Where did all that
assuring love go?

What should I do with your falling heart?
Should I say “peek-a-boo” and play with it?
You’re like a child
I just ignored it when you were whining,
do you know?
If you need toys, just go to the mart
I’m not your nanny, get out of my house
Change so I can fall for you again
Change how I’m feeling toward you right now baby

I miss the days
you treated me like a princess
Your love is not enough
If you’re not doing this on purpose
Stop baby stop
I wanna feel your love

Stop being such a baby, stop being such a baby
When I see you complaining
It drains me out, oh please
Stop being such a baby, stop burning me up
Where did all that
assuring love go?

– Analysis: Note, this song is also translated to “Like A Kid,” but for this review, I will utilize its second title. Either way, both are accurate. Focusing on the song itself, although initial hearings of “Don’t Be Such A Baby” learned towards negativity, after actual analysis occurred, the ballad was considered an exceptionally solid one. First, the vocals carry a smooth, calming style, and as anticipated for a ballad, the vocals remain highly tuneful. Furthermore, the instrumental follows through with maintaining melodic sounds, and for other traits, vocals are perfectly reflected, both sonically and with intensity.

In terms of the sections, all can be regarded highly. The introduction offers a grasping, luring start, all while offering the instrumental’s solemn yet musical tunes. Verses possess smooth, soothing vocals, and structurally, a natural progression of the song is initiated. For the upcoming section, the pre-choruses provide a subtle escalation of the song: “Don’t Be Such A Baby” begins to become more upbeat via slight increases in pitch and pace. Due to the discreet nature, a more cohesive flow is in place. Focusing on the choruses, while a climactic section now plays, it remains in scope of the ballad’s style and tone, and thus, is not overly excessive. Nevertheless, it maintains an enchanting melody as unveiled throughout the song. Other sections, such as the rap and bridge, are also equally solid. In focus of the raps, both Giriboy and Bora excelled: Giriboy’s rap suited the song’s overall tone, and for characteristics, his pacing and melody were pleasing; Bora’s rap also adopts a similar route with maintaining melody and rhythm. Lastly, the bridge is perfectly transitioned to, and specifically for the section, it flawlessly progresses to the note hold, and with such, the bridge, in its entirety, does not become excessive or overly executed.

Addressing the lyrics, a thorough plot does exist. With predominantly the chorus possessing a repeat of lines, every other section contains individual lines, and thus, a copious amount of detail does exist. Also, for a slight digression, with the line “Want a real man, show me that you’re a man,” and additionally, other lines, the idea of “living up to gender” does surface. Though in the future I may elaborate, peculiarly yet positively, the gender norms that are expected in the song are not toxic, unlike current standards; the main character desires her partner to be a “man,” but defining “man” in the song’s context is acceptable: to be caring, to be mature, to be loving, to “stop acting so tough,” to “stop being so stubborn,” and so forth.

Thus, sharing personal opinions, the phrase “be a man” in itself is not harmful, but if construed to connote to negativity, and furthermore, to overshadow “be a woman,” then issues are apparent. In short, if “be a man” and “be a woman” were homogenous (as of now, being linked to “woman” or “girl” is considered an insult, of which is an inequitable scale), and both were linked to positive traits, such as being open with feelings, accepting of others, friendliness, and so forth, then those gender-linked phrases would be of minimal concern. That said, however, as of now, with “be a man” equating to objectifying females, showcasing no affection, being overly dominant, and with “like a girl” correlating to grotesque exaggeration of emotional responses and weakness, those phrases are erroneous to use. But, such as in this song’s case of disengaging gender norms by showcasing that being a “man” is being someone who can love, cry, and be understanding, then the usage of said phrases would be acceptable.

– “Atrocity Approval”: Returning to “Don’t Be Such A Baby” in a musical lens, the “Atrocity Approval” will be given. The song is adequate in every main category, and overarchingly, the smooth, calmer style is alluring.

3. “Good Time”(Audio)

– Lyrics:

This is the last time, tonight, I’m free
Let’s break up, say goodbye
Will you get out of the way? Don’t block me

I’ll take off my flat shoes
Now I can wear my high heels
I won’t cry and sob
I wanna brush it all off, it’s something to celebrate

I’m normally blunt, it’s over between us
Nothing good will come from dragging this out
Okay, okay, I don’t care if you beg for forgiveness
Let me out, it was never you

Good time, good time, I’m happy, don’t worry
Now turn it up loud, turn up the volume
Let’s start the party, Friday night
Jumping my ride, my ride, I don’t care if I’m alone
Because a new love will find me
I wanna dance tonight

I did all I could for you
No more, no regret (no regret)
Did you think you had me?
I’m not yours, wake up

What did you do when you had me? Now you say
you love me? Stop with the empty words, it’s pathetic
Okay, okay, I don’t care if you beg for forgiveness
Let me out, it was never you

Good time, good time, I’m happy, don’t worry
Now turn it up loud, turn up the volume
Let’s start the party, Friday night
Jumping my ride, my ride, I don’t care if I’m alone
Because a new love will find me
I wanna dance tonight

I only looked at you, I only liked you
I wanna throw away all feelings, I will forget you

Good time, good time, I’m happy, don’t worry
Now turn it up loud, turn up the volume
Let’s start the party, Friday night
Jumping my ride, my ride, I don’t care if I’m alone
Because a new love will find me
I wanna dance tonight

Dance tonight
Good time

– Analysis: Answering whether it was a “Good Time” listening to the song or not: it was.

Starting with the singing, the vocals remain exceptionally dynamic: a variety of pitches are disclosed; different forms of vocals occur, such as with note stretches, rapping, or basic singing; other aspects, such as power and pacing, also fluctuate. Overall, the vocals are highly tuneful and infatuating. Focusing on the lyrics to “Good Time,” though the plot is a mixture of sorrowness and optimism, in terms of details, with multiple sections repeating in lines, the lyrics do render as average. However, in a sonic context, the lyrics are not hindering. With that, for what is influential to the song’s sounds, the instrumental to “Good Time” does slightly falter. A higher pitched, piano-like noise and simplistic, lighter beats predominantly compose the instrumental, and on an individual level, those sounds are relatively plain. Minimal changes occur, and with ranging in solely higher pitches, mundanity accumulates. Nevertheless, for the instrumental’s strength, it perfectly blends with the vocals: with the majority of the vocals also adopting higher pitches (though with complexity), the instrumental provides a foundation that suits.

To now dissect the song’s core, for the sections, all are admirable. For example, the introduction sets “Good Time” ‘s flow and style, and additionally, remains concise and musically enticing. Verses contain Sistar’s enchanting vocals and, uniquely, also serve as a pre-chorus (there is no standard pre-chorus in “Good Time”) in that the song begins increasing in intensity in a gradual, natural rate. Analyzing Bora’s rapping, in juxtaposition to the other sections, the raps can be considered inferior. Her raps fail to replicate every other sections’ trend of being exceptionally melodious, and furthermore, with the flow and pacing following a slower rate, the raps appear unsuiting in the scope of “Good Time” as a whole. Nonetheless, the raps are still viable; though a noticeable downgrade in comparison to the other sections, the occurred rappings still have their niche in the song. For the remaining sections, both the choruses and bridge are excellent. The bridge follows through with pleasing, climactic vocals, and also, is seamlessly transitioned to and out of. Specifically with the choruses, the singing holds as utterly seducing: note stretches are rife, the pacing fluctuates, and, although Hyorin nearly solos the section, for Soyu’s single added line, it significantly augments the singing via adding subtle contrast.

– “Atrocity Approval”: In the end, “Good Time” certainly lives up to its title. Thus, an “Atrocity Approval” is granted.

4. “Bad Guy”(Audio)

– Lyrics:

I want to wipe off
the thick words of break up off my lips, yeah
But when I think about the lipstick stain on your shirt
I don’t think I can ever forgive you

The red-hot lie when you said
you would only love me
You’ll probably whisper it
to someone else, somewhere else

Love is gone, love is over
I was crazy to love you
Love is gone, my love is over
Who are you to hurt me like this

Bad boy, oh oh
Bad boy, oh oh
Bad boy, oh oh
Love is gone

I’m still cold not even hesitating
before this break up
Spitting out poisonous words
without a single expression
It’s for the better, good for you
If you didn’t see my mask, what would you have done?
It’s like you’re trying to do something
but there’s no need
You put on a painful face, I tried that face before
It’s over, no you, no me
You can look around but there’s no you, no me

The blue bruise
engraved in my heart
I wanna erase your name
and your number

Love is gone, love is over
I was crazy to love you
Love is gone, my love is over
Who are you to hurt me like this

Tears fall
Are you pretending to be in pain?
Your face is so brazen
Will you take it away?
Will you get out of my life?
Tears fall
I don’t ever want to see you again
I won’t cry like a fool

Love is gone, love is over
I was crazy to love you
Love is gone, my love is over
Who are you to hurt me like this

Bad boy, oh oh
Bad boy, oh oh
Bad boy, oh oh
Love is gone

My head understands but not my heart
My friends tell me I did all I could, to just stop it now
But without anyone knowing, I draw your face in my heart
I’m always missing you bad boy, my everything

– Analysis: From a systematic standpoint, “Bad Guy” is, arguably, the album’s strongest song. It excels in many, if not all, categories.

Already beginning with the sections, definitely, every single one is to a high tier. The introduction, though vastly short, is effective at setting the melancholy tone, and musically, in addition to establishing the pacing and beats, the upcoming piano is thoroughly delightful. Verses possess outstanding vocals, smooth progression, and perfect synergy with the instrumental. Pre-choruses are, akin to the introduction, short in duration, but despite such, the sections flawlessly carry the song over to the choruses in a musically splendid manner. On the note of the choruses, the sections display the song’s noteworthy vocals in full; Hyorin’s powerful, melodic, and saddening singing is thoroughly showcased.

For the bridge, though it drastically slows the song, it can still be perceived as fitting as “Bad Guy,” being a ballad,” is already slower paced, and thus, the change is acceptable. In actual focus of the structure, contrast of paces are utilized for buildup, and in this bridge’s case, it does succeed. Furthermore, with the note hold, it can be regarded highly, both structurally with fitting, and also, sonically. Confronting the final section, the raps, with Mad Clown’s part, superb rapping exists. His rap features an attractive melody, a smooth, lively flow, and similar to the song’s vocals, tints of power and sadness. Now, for Bora, though her raps in prior songs have held averagely, towards the end of “Bad Guy,” her rapping proves impressive. With tune and tone, her rap perfectly blends with the song’s style, and most desirably, the rap’s lower pitch adds an extra component of melody.  

As the vocals have yet to be addressed, hinted through the sections, the vocals are wonderful. Sistar’s vocals in “Bad Guy” deliver power with higher notes, or, such as in the bridge, note holds, but furthermore, presence is also granted: the disheartening, gloomy mood of the vocals allow the singing to remain even more distinctive. All in all, the vocals in “Bad Guy” prove the vocal capabilities of the group: powerful and melodic. Continuing, gauging the instrumental, to accompany the vocals’ styles, the instrumental adopts an equally morose tone: slower beats and a prominent piano complement the song’s theme. In a musical context, however, the given sounds are appealing. The beats deliver a foundation for the stellar vocals, and with the piano, the melody becomes additionally complex. Critiquing the remaining  category, the lyrics, though the plot is disheartening, it does reside as average. Details repeat, and for the individual ones, constructing a highly engrossing plot is not the outcome. Nevertheless, in a sonic lens (as do the album reviews orientate towards), the lyrics are negligible.  

– “Atrocity Approval”: “Bad Guy” unequivocally earns an approval. Although, biasedly, on the basis of  concept, I prefer “Go Up” over this song, from a systematic, neutral standpoint, “Bad Guy” is the album’s strongest song.  

5. “Go Up” (Audio)

– Lyrics:

Wherever you are, I go, I go, I go
Just give me a call, I go, I go, I go

I see your face every day
But how come I miss you every time
you turn around?
How come every time we lock eyes
my heart flutters so much?

Think about it, what makes you
so much more special than others?
I see you every day, but my heart flutters
like it’s the first time, hello

Hey boy, beautiful baby
You drive me so crazy
There’s no one like you in this world
Your nose, your eyes, your lips, there’s nothing like it
That’s why you’re so confident
Go up to the top, hold my hand
Never bring me down, clap for me
My beautiful baby,
you drive me so crazy
There’s no one like you in this world

Every person I meet
Tells me that I got prettier
There’s no need to ask,
I don’t understand either
what I did to make you like me

Think about it, what makes you
so much more special than others?
I see you every day, but my heart flutters
like it’s the first time, hello

Hey boy, beautiful baby
You drive me so crazy
There’s no one like you in this world
Your nose, your eyes, your lips, there’s nothing like it
That’s why you’re so confident
Go up to the top, hold my hand
Never bring me down, clap for me
My beautiful baby,
you drive me so crazy
There’s no one like you in this world

I don’t need expensive things
I don’t need you to act cool
Don’t act so strong
Will you stay the way you are?

You make me go (up)
You make me go (up)
Just protect me, don’t bring me down (no)
Scream, “la la la,” useless thoughts, “bye bye bye”
Just stay the way you are
Just the way you are (uh-huh)

Go up to the top, hold my hand
Never bring me down, clap for me
My beautiful baby,
you drive me so crazy
There’s no one like you in this world

– Analysis: With mentioning “Go Up,” as stated, this should have been the title track to Sistar’s mini-album of “Shake It.” The summer tone is preserved, but in comparison to “Shake It,” it is musically superior. Vastly superior. Also, this review did, once again, become delayed due to video-related works (will discuss at the end).

On topic, for the song’s sections, while the rap and bridge partially lack, the remainder hold well. First inspecting the mentioned sections, both languish in the category of musical appeal. The bridge possesses vocals that, despite being orientated towards note stretches, are, absurdly, slightly dull in tune. Especially in contrast to the rest of “Go Up,” with prior sections containing incredibly active, quicker singing, the bridge’s vocals emanate deprived, empty sounds. Similarly, for the rapping, the same issues translate: the rapping, though rhythmic, remains linear and slower, and as a result, monotonous, and with other sections being a sheer opposite via holding upbeat, lively singing, the rap section appears plain.

Every other section, however, does hold positively. The introduction aces the two main components: sonically, it is charming with the instrumental and vocals, and structurally, it sets the song’s tone and creates anticipation. In terms of the remaining three sections, the verses, pre-choruses, and choruses, are all highly melodic: verses contain smooth, crisp vocals; the pre-choruses exploit contrast via note stretches and standard singing to create vocal diversity; and for the choruses, both singing and instrumental complement one another, and therefore, for a synthesized result, the sections render as exceptionally appealing.

Ignoring the sections, the vocals, as slightly discussed, are to a high caliber. Excluding moments at the rap  and bridge, the vocals are dynamic, variated in styles, and overall, incredibly tuneful. Focusing on the instrumental to “Go Up,” with an electric guitar in spotlight, many benefits are in place: the song’s theme of summer is constructed, and sonically, it produces “Go Up” ‘s energetic state, and additionally, perfectly accompanies the vocals. Other sounds, such as the beats and lighter bass, are also equally pleasant. Finally, for the lyrics, as a prior review of Infinite’s “The Chaser” has discussed the notion of “protecting,” and for other reviews, the topic of attraction (physical versus non-physical), I will not embark on potential digressions. Thus, for the lyrics in a general scope, the plot does hold as, once again, average. Nothing remains intriguing of the plot, and although details slightly vary, many still, overall, carry a homogenous idea of flirting and affection. However, as mentioned, lyrics are irrelevant if focusing solely on the sound (though not to say lyrics should be ignored; in standard song reviews, the “Critical Corner” exists as, very much, it is important to critically gauge lyrics).

– “Atrocity Approval”: Personally, “Go Up” is my favorite song in the album, but even with a neutral viewpoint, ignoring the rap and bridge, the song holds well. Therefore, an “Atrocity Approval” is granted.

__________________________________

Personal Ranking: For this category, rather than critiquing the songs, I am simply listing, as is the title, my personal ranking regarding the album’s songs, from best to worst. Also, it will be indicated if a song has garnered an “Atrocity Approval” or not.

1. “Bad Guy” (yes)

2. “Go Up” (yes)

3. “Good Time” (yes)

4. “Don’t Be Such A Baby” (yes)

5. “Shake It” (no)

__________________________________

In the end, “Shake It” is the sole, intolerable song in Sistar’s mini-album of  “Shake It.” “Go Up” or even “Good Time” should have been the title songs as, compared with the current one, both are upgrades musically, yet, simultaneously, preserve the theme of summer. Summarizing the album, Sistar’s latest one proves impressive; purely one song out of six possesses a lower rating.

Reflecting over the new album review outline, though organization now exists, length has exponentially increased, even with minimal explanations. As album reviews are meant as bonus reviews, further revisions will occur. At most, I desire album reviews to be finished in a day’s worth of writing, not, in this case, three to four days. Current solutions consist of returning to previous outlines (general analysis) or, newly, briefly gauging a song’s strong and weak points with minimal focus on standard categories (as those are preserved for standard song reviews). Trial and error will be how a suitable outline is discovered. And on that note, explaining this review’s delay, I have spent excessive time attempting to find perfect subtitles for my YouTube videos (link is in the blog’s description). Miraculously, one has been found: white fonts with a pink outline. This maintains legibility while fulfilling my personal desires (in addition to the contrast pink-related colors provide, and how it provides my channel a signature, I, like Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany, do adore the color–though not to her degree, as fans may understand).

Complaints aside, for an optimistic message, coffee is incredible as it is delicious and provides a boost in energy, of which I am currently consuming for a treat reviews will resume a hastier rate. Subtitled videos will be finished today, and furthermore, my summer assignment (or at least, nearly as I have planned two hours of pure reading), and therefore, reviews will receive unwavering attention afterwards. With that, for the upcoming review, Wonder Girls’ “I Feel You” has been requested, and in three to five days, will be finished (to the requester, apologies for the delay). After the song, T-ARA’s “So Crazy” is in mind, and for the remaining days of August, many songs are possible for review.

Concluding the review, though I feel the writing and analysis were atrocious, I hope readers do not consider me a “Bad Guy” and simply “Shake It” off. Nonetheless, rather than being “Such A Baby,” improvements will be made so that reviews “Go Up” and readers have a “Good Time.” And admittedly, in the upcoming revisions, I should also attempt to discover a more enjoyable conclusion. Stay tuned for Wonder Girls’ “I Feel You,” and for those interested in my subtitled videos, for more to also arrive.

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.”  

______________________________________________________

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.    

_______________________________________________________

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.

________________________________________________________

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.