BTS – “Spring Day” Review

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

BTS – Spring Day

Reviewed
on March 11, 2017

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
7/10

2.     Rap: 7/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 8/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 6/10

[Introduction Instrumental]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________________________________________

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

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

BTS – “Dead Leaves” Review

(Audio—unofficial
upload)

BTS – Dead Leaves

Reviewed
on February 27, 2016

Nevertheless,
although many fans might desire to praise and cherish the song on the basis of
it being unique—which, again, I do not disagree with nor do I find these
“unworthy” qualities as it is
important to have distinguishable songs from the hundreds of thousands (Korean)
pop songs—I disagree with praising the song in this way. In fact, I struggle to
praise the quality of the song in general; certainly the song is by no  means utterly weak, but I will argue that if
we look beyond uniqueness we will find that “Dead Leaves” is a rather plain,
negligible song.

Personal Message:
First of all, thank you so much to
the requester of this review for sending this in. It has been multiple weeks
since I actually received the request, so my sincere apologies for this delay.
Although the following is no way to excuse myself, I hope to clarify the delay
is because I have been quite busy and not neglecting the request. For other
news, if I am on track I hope to equally post another review request that also
involves BTS. Afterwards, I plan to wrap up the shorter month of February with
TWICE’s “Knock Knock”—a song that I am finding as my current favorite song of
all-time and one that is excellently efficient and accommodating in its
composition for TWICE’s weaker vocals. But we will save that discussion for
when it is appropriate.

To address this current review’s
link, I am using an unofficial YouTube upload. For basically what this means,
for future readers reading this three years from now—which, now thinking of
such, is definitely a bizarre yet intriguing thought—the link might no longer
work because of copyright issues or because the uploader removed her/his video.
As such, should this be the case—whether three years from now or somehow in a
few months—then manually searching for the song will have to be done.

Addressing one last technical point,
as mentioned earlier, due to also wanting to finish another request, this
review will perhaps be shorter than usual and I might opt to skip over some
details. (A prime example would be not discussing why I rated the lyrics as is—though
this will not be the case for this particular review.) Moreover, I also plan to
focus on key concepts rather than all of the minute details. I hope this all
works out so that the review is brisk yet thought-provoking to read, and so
that I can also review “Spring Day” in time.

Finally discussing the song itself,
“Dead Leaves” is—in terms of its breakdown—incredibly different from a majority
of other songs reviewed before. The song itself is not necessarily the
strongest I have heard nor is its structural composition any better. However,
in terms of its lyrics and its flow, both of these aspects are definitely
unique compared to many other pop songs—and with the lyrics specifically, it
scores incredibly well. Nevertheless, although many fans might desire to praise
and cherish the song on the basis of it being unique—which, again, I do not
disagree with nor do I find these “unworthy” qualities as it is important to have distinguishable
songs from the hundreds of thousands (Korean) pop songs—I disagree with
praising the song in this way. In fact, I struggle to praise the quality of the
song in general; certainly the song is by no
means utterly weak, but I will argue that if we look beyond uniqueness
we will find that “Dead Leaves” is a rather plain, negligible song.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


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

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

1.     Introduction:
5/10

2.     Verse: 5/10

3.     Rap: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 3/10

5.     Bridge: 4/10

6.     Conclusion: 6/10


Instrumental: 4/10


Lyrics: 8/10

[Instrumental introduction]

Like those dead leaves there
that have fallen and are flying
My love is collapsing without strength
Your heart is only going further away
I can’t grab you
I can’t grab you any more, more, more
I can’t hold on longer, yeah

Over there,
the autumn leaves that look like they’re at stake
It seems like they’re looking at us
If our hands touch, even if it’s all at once
it only seems like it’s going to be crumbs
I just only looked with the winds of autumn
The speech and facial expressions that have gotten
colder all of a sudden
I can only see our relationship withering
Like the autumn sky, it’s empty between us
An ambiguous difference that is different from before
A night that’s much more quiet today
A single autumn leaf that’s attached to the branch
It’s breaking, I can see the thing called “the end”
The dead leaves that are becoming shriveled
The silence inside your aloof heart
Please don’t fall
Please don’t fall, the dead leaf that’s becoming crumbs

I want you who makes eye contact with me
I want you who wants me again
Please don’t fall
Please don’t collapse
Never never fall
Don’t go far far away
Baby you girl I can’t hold onto you
Baby you girl I can’t give up on you
Like the dead leaves that fell
This love, like the dead leaves
Never never fall
It’s withering

As if every autumn leaf has fallen
As if everything that seemed eternal
is going further away
You’re my fifth season
Because even if I try to see you, I can’t
Look, to me, you’re still green

Even if our hearts aren’t walking, it walks by itself
Our foolishness, like laundry, is being hung piece by piece
Only the bright memories are dirty
It falls on me
Even if I don’t shake my branch, it keeps falling
That’s right, in order to raise my love, it falls
Even if we’re close, my two eyes become further,
spreads further
Like this, being thrown out
Inside my memories, I become young again

Never never fall yeah
Never never fall yeah
I want you who makes eye contact with me
I want you who wants me again
Please don’t fall
Please don’t collapse
Never never fall
Don’t go far far away

Why, can I still not give up on you?
I hold onto the withered memories
Is it greed?
The lost seasons I try to restore,
I try to restore them

Blaze them brightly, flare
It was all pretty, wasn’t it?
Our pathroads
But it all withered
The dead leaves fall down like tears
The wind blows and everything drifts apart all day
The rain pours and shatters
Until the last leaf
You you you

I want you who makes eye contact with me
I want you who wants me again
Please don’t fall
Please don’t collapse
Never never fall
Don’t go far far away
Baby you girl I can’t hold onto you
Baby you girl I can’t give up on you
Like the dead leaves that fell
This love, like the dead leaves
Never never fall
It’s withering

Never never fall
Never never fall

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: To
begin this review, we first need to understand the song’s current strengths.
After all, it scores at a six which is quite decent despite my harsher,
critical remarks that “Dead Leaves” is supposedly a plain and forgetful song.

As
discussed earlier, the song’s uniqueness does help its ratings—and more
specifically, that uniqueness exists in the lyrics of which I consider an
appropriate category for a song to be judged in. For why the lyrics score
incredibly well—and readers should realize an eight for lyrics is incredibly
rare and only two other songs on this blog have earned such—the details are
phenomenal. Even if the plot itself is nothing too spectacular as it is a
romantic-related (or more accurately, a not-so-romantic one as it involves a
breakup) topic and thus, is far from unique, the details truly make the song
become a miniature story.

For
example, with the first rap, we come into details that are not repeated or are
cliché as oftentimes is the case with pop music. Unlike lyrics that follow
extreme simplicity such as “Our love is going away / My heart hurts every day”
(I made up these lines; if I end up quoting an actual song, it is by pure
coincidence), the first rap instead brings out an entirely fleshed scenario and
description of the protagonist’s feelings. This occurs at other moments in the
song, and even the choruses are still building off the main story versus spewing
lines that are not specifically rooted in an individual, creative plot. This
incredible level of details in the lyrics is why I have given it an eight. It
is like a story; and for me to be able to claim such—even if, yes, the story
itself is not necessarily amazing in of itself—the very fact that it comes off
as one versus “regular, generic pop lyrics” is praiseworthy.

Another
aspect that is the song’s strength—though it is one that is not quite scored
and thus unable to directly aid the song’s rating—is that the style involved is
different from many other pop songs. Although many might disagree, I believe it
is still important for songs—especially in pop as there are a plethora of songs
existing—to have a distinguishing, creative style that is heard in either
aurally or structurally (or even both). In “Dead Leaves,” what makes its style
unique is how it flows: the song focuses on slower build up that, once it
reaches its climax (the choruses—as is oftentimes the case), the release from
there is orientated towards slower, wave-like progression versus the expected
and typical style of merely streaming out the climax.

Let
us use some examples since what I am discussing is incredibly abstract. In BTS’
“I Need U,” we find that the chorus flows out rather fluently and directly: the
chorus occurs and it simply continues off the song. In fact, it is hardly
thought that a song’s climactic piece would run anything but as a fluent stream. However, in “Dead Leaves,” this is not the
case as the choruses is frequently chunked up and therefore carries subtle
pauses, and furthermore the choruses are quite lengthy and dragged on versus
occurring in a somewhat hastier fashion so that the song can easily “reset”
back to its build up form. (And for another random note, pop songs run in what
is called a “binary” form because of this very reason; there is oftentimes a
“cycle” of going from “A” to “B” and back to “A” and the cycle begins again—and
hence “binary” as there are two main portions. But this is getting far too
technical and further abstract and is definitely not a part of the discussion
for “Dead Leaves.”)

Returning
to the main reason for all this lengthy explanation, I mention this all to
explain that the song very much sounds unique. Seldom do pop songs follow this
type of flow and, with the “binary” form of pop music (which I attempted to
explain), it is definitely interesting to hear “Dead Leaves” have its own style
to the binary format.

All
that said, while creativity is welcomed and is arguably necessary for a
group/soloist to survive—and by “survive” I merely mean “stay relevant” because
I love being dramatic—in the K-Pop scene, this does not mean a song is
automatically good. In other words, just
because a song sounds different does not mean it is therefore a strong song; this
will ultimately be the driving idea behind this current review. If a listener
hears a very different song and then uses that as her claim for why the song is
good, it is an incredibly weak argument. Equally said, it is also a weak
argument to critique a song for “sounding generic” on the sole basis of that.
For example, in the past I have claimed some songs sounded awfully generic and
typical, but I then (or at least I hope) went on to explain why it sounds generic and why sounding
generic in that song’s particular case
is bad. If nothing else is gleaned from this review, I do hope readers
understand these crucial points: never discuss and critique music quality
purely on sounding “different” or “similar” to other songs. Instead—as I will
do with TWICE’s “Knock Knock,” a very
generic pop song—it is about looking at the composition and production involved
and then deciding whether a song is good or not (and of which there is no right
answer as music is all subjective).

With
all that in mind, let us now discuss what I do find weak in “Dead Leaves.” To
save time and to not bore readers with robotically breaking down each aspect to
the song, I wish to instead hone in on one section: the choruses. As much as I
admire the creativity involved in general but more specifically the choruses, I
find that the composition sacrificed efficiency and even quality just for “Dead
Leaves” to be deemed “creative” or “unique” within the context of its chorus
and overall flow. What remains most troubling is how excessively dragged the
choruses sound. For example, as already partially discussed above, the choruses
do not just run through and carry on the song; rather, the choruses contain
frequent pauses and, to describe its flow, it is akin to waves: pushing out
hard, receding a little, and then pushing out hard once again and repeating
this.

Now,
this composition decision is not just for the sake of creativity and I do wish
to clarify that. A musical benefit that comes from this approach is that the
vocals are granted additional chances to showcase minimal beltings—this being a
pleasing aspect to BTS’ vocals in this song. Nonetheless, this main benefit is still
questionable: doing such comes at the expense at making the vocals and
instrumental sound “stretched.” To explain what I mean, the choruses’ ending
time should be much shorter than they currently are. Especially with
considering the second half of the choruses, this portion of the choruses are
not necessary per se and I argue this additionally, length-dragging aspect only
creates a more rigid, awkward “recycling”—going back to the following verse’s
calmer state—when in many ways the song have done that transition without
needing the excessive dragging manner. And with this, besides structurally
lowering the choruses’ ratings, this section’s instrumental is also in of
itself poorly executed because it very much amplifies the problem and indeed, a
lowering instrumental rating can be quite detrimental.

Ultimately,
“Dead Leaves” does score decently but we have to be critical: is the decent
rating because in an aesthetical sense the song is solid—in other words,
gauging its lyrics and uniqueness—or is, despite the given rating, the song in
a musical sense is actually slightly weaker? Readers can tell, I personally
argue for the latter: “Dead Leaves” struggles with its composition and thus it
renders as a bit too stretched during its choruses. Again, I do wish to
highlight and praise the creativeness involved and for the risk taken with the song’s
composition, but with being a critical, active listener I cannot help but bring
up the song’s significant flaws.

But
of course, readers have to be remember this is all my opinions; I do not state these points to bash BTS or their song,
but I instead wish to begin a discussion that I hope fans and listeners can
build upon whether through disagreeing with me, agreeing with me, or a
combination of both. That is why music is reviewed: for the intellectual,
mature, and respectful discussions. No one reads music reviews because they
want a reviewer to form an opinion for them; after all, it only takes perhaps
seven playbacks of a song for one to get a firm grasp on what their take is. Indeed,
people read music reviews because they want to have various insights—perhaps even
insights that would completely conflict with what they think of a song. That is
the goal of my review, and I very much mention this as I understand there will
be fans who are upset at my words even if statistically the song manages to
score decently.

_______________________________________________________

I
feel incredibly guilty for this request being delayed for so long. Since it is
later at night that I am finishing this one, the request for BTS’ “Spring Day”
will instead come out tomorrow or in a few more days. I am getting slightly less
busy, but I do still have school tasks to handle and thus might be unexpectedly
busy. (Examples include group projects, essays, and preparing my third lesson
for seventh graders—the latter being something I am excited for.) But
admittedly I have been spending much time watching TWICE videos instead of
finishing up priorities, such as a theology essay, but that is beside the point—I
mean, “So what?” as Momo says. And “so what” if the ladies are all incredibly
gorgeous—physically and non-physically—and can still look flawless with minimal
makeup on while if I do the same I still look like I have not slept in weeks.

Jokes
and TWICE references aside, thank you to all for reading this review whether in
full or skimmed. Thank you so much to the requester once again for sending this
in and for being patient. “Spring Day” by BTS will be next for review, and
afterwards, I will finish up the month with TWICE’s “Knock Knock” and begin
March with another new review request. Make sure you “Don’t go far far away.”

V – “Stigma” Review

(Audio)

V (from BTS) – Stigma

Reviewed
on January 24, 2017

image

And
so, although “Stigma” faces the stigma of being a slower, dramatic song and
thus is disliked by many fans because of such, I argue the song is actually an
excellent one. If we are critical and listen beyond the song’s style and begin
attempting to understand why certain
compositions are in place, we will find that “Stigma”—despite being “boring” or
“too slow”—has many creative, efficient, and stunning points.  

Personal Message:
As perhaps readers can guess, I am
back at university and somehow already quite busy. Although this semester
appears to be quite challenging, I am expecting it to be “easier” than the last
as I have multiple two hour breaks in between classes and thus, my tendency to
procrastinate is greatly minimized. Personally a huge issue with last
semester—and this relating to the lack of reviews during that period—was squeezing
all of my classes back-to-back and as a result, despite many hours of free time
afterwards, I ended up wasting them away with distracting tasks. Perhaps this
could be a scheduling tip to readers who, like me, are not as disciplined.

On topic with this review, I would
like to thank a reader for sending in this request. I greatly apologize for not
getting to it sooner, but I hope this review is still enjoyable and
thought-provoking. I personally have been anticipating writing a review for this
song as there is so much to discuss in terms of music. As the requester
addressed, many fans struggle to listen to “Stigma”—a song that is not a
title/comeback song and instead is a song included in one of BTS’ albums.
Furthermore, the artist singing is just BTS’ V and thus, this creates more
difficulties as it is not the usual of every member participating. But of
course, the true problem is not the technicalities with members and “Stigma” not
being a title song; the issue is that musically
the song is hard to “enjoy.” It is not upbeat and within the pop genre as is,
say, the group’s “Blood Sweat & Tears,” nor does it involve powerful
dancing and a flashy music video. “Stigma” is the opposite: it is a soulful,
R&B song (if correct on the genre) that—while possessing a short music
video—is predominantly meant to be consumed sonically. However, given the
incredibly slower pacing of the song, a lack of visual aid, seemingly overly
dramatic vocals and instrumental, and a composition that appears to be quite
stagnant, it truly is understandable on why fans find “Stigma” a difficult
song.

Because of this interesting
background, this review will be more than just reviewing the song: I hope this
review becomes an example of how a
listener can learn to reap enjoyment from analyzing what she is listening
to—especially with a song that she may not personally prefer. Even if a
listener dislikes “Stigma” ‘s style (as in my case), I hope he will still
realize that at least appreciation is
possible if not genuine enjoyment. And so, although “Stigma” faces the stigma
of being a slower, dramatic song and thus is disliked by many fans because of
such, I argue the song is actually an excellent one. If we are critical and
listen beyond the song’s style and begin attempting to understand why certain compositions are in place,
we will find that “Stigma”—despite being “boring” or “too slow”—has many
creative, efficient, and stunning points.  

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 7/10


Sections: 6/10
(6.00/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction:
6/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 6/10

5.     Bridge: 6/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 7/10


Lyrics: 7/10

I’ve been hiding it
I tell you something
just to leave it buried
Now I can’t endure it anymore
Why couldn’t I say it then?
I have been hurting anyway
Really I won’t be able to endure it

Now cry
It’s only that I’m very sorry towards you
Again, cry
Because I couldn’t protect you

Deeper, deeper, the wound just gets deeper,
like pieces of broken glass that I can’t reverse
Deeper, it’s just the heart that hurts every day
You who was punished in my stead
You who were only delicate and fragile

Stop crying, tell me something
Try talking to me who had no courage
Why did you do that to me then?
Sorry
Forget it
What right do I have,
to tell you to do this or that?

Deeper, deeper, the wound just gets deeper,
like pieces of broken glass that I can’t reverse
Deeper, it’s just the heart that hurts every day
You who was punished in my stead
You who were only delicate and fragile

I’m sorry, I’m sorry
I’m sorry, my brother
Even if I try to hide i or conceal it,
it can’t be erased
Are you calling me a sinner?
What more do I have to say?
I’m sorry, I’m sorry
I’m sorry, my sister
Even if I try to hide it or conceal it,
it can’t be erased
So cry
Please dry my eyes

That light, that light, please illuminate my sins
Where I can’t turn back, the red blood is flowing down
Deeper, I feel like dying every day
Please let me be punished
Please forgive me for my sins
I beg

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: For
a side note, while the given ratings appear to be straightforward, I do wish
for readers to know that the process to reach these ratings was far from such.
I devoted much time to understanding this song (and admittedly to push aside
much of my own personal biases). Also to note, this review will most likely be
shorter than intended due to how busy I currently am (and on top of that, I am
down with a cold).

Onto
the review, as the ratings unveil, “Stigma” is an incredibly well-rounded song
statistically. There are no immediate, impairing points and at worst the
sections—this category having the lowest ratings—is still decent. But, of
course, ratings are meaningless without explanations and more so with
considering how many find the song difficult to listen to, so let us proceed
with actual analysis.

With
the lyrics, this category should be the most straightforward to understand. However
that said, it is worth clarifying why the lyrics have scored well. As the
requester of this review mentions, the background to this song is complex: it
may be a part of BTS’ ongoing, fictional story or it might very much be
something personal from V or perhaps even both. While all these points are
interesting, these are not criterion I use for grading lyrics; instead, the lyrics
have earned their higher score by being distinctive in its details—word choice,
variety, imagery—and by differing with its plot. Overall, I will not spend too
much time in this song’s aspect as the more intriguing discussion is towards
the musical aspect.

With
that covered, let us focus on the vocals and instrumental. I bring up these two
aspects and not individually because both ultimately utilize similar strategies
and forms, but furthermore, both are quite misunderstood by many fans. After
all, the difficult aspect in the song may not be so much on how it is
structured with the sections but rather how it sounds within the sections—these sounds being the vocals and instrumental.

One
of the most impressive aspects to the two is how well they complement each
other so that their perceived downsides are covered. Before explaining that,
though, let us return once more to current perceptions on the vocals and
instrumental. On a more superficial hearing, the vocals are not impressive: the
vocals carry a sluggish, dragged pacing; many of the beltings are overly
emphasized and dramatized and thus, the extreme pitch shifts render
unappealingly—even if the singing itself is skillful; and lastly, the singing
simply comes off as monotonous considering there are few changes throughout. Similarly,
the instrumental can also be critiqued with those reasons: the instrumental is
too plain, dull, and provides nothing more than just background.

While
these are all viable points, I challenge fans to realize that these supposed
weaknesses are actually, realized or not, addressed in the vocals and
instrumental themselves. For example, the vocals’ slower pacing is paired with
a bass line that strengthens at moments where V provides beltings. The result,
then, is not vocals that are sluggish or an instrumental that remains dull; the
result is that both combined lead to a rhythmic, balanced flow that sounds
excellent. Another example is when considering the instrumental’s beats in
relation to V’s vocals at the first verse. Both in of themselves appear to be
incredibly vexing: the vocals are minimal in tune and the instrumental itself
provides nothing more than just the mere foundation of the song. However, when
considering how both sound when taken into account as a single unit, we realize
the vocals act as a pseudo-beat and equally the beats are akin to background
vocals. Lastly to note on a more technical side, another interesting composing
decision about the instrumental and vocals is that both physically complement
each other’s sounds. In clearer terms, I am referring to the actual pitch range
covered. During moments where the vocals are adopting a middle pitch, we
realize the instrumental “balances” out such by providing sounds slightly above
that pitch or slightly below it. Expectedly for moments when V is singing in a
higher pitch, the instrumental still “balances” out the overall sound by then
providing much lower pitches—this being the most explicit example as we can
hear the much deeper bass line coming in during these moments. Again, this is a
minor aspect but one I find quite creative and ultimately appealing especially
as “Stigma” ‘s style beckons careful, methodical listening.

Finally
discussing the sections, since we have already indirectly discussed some of
this through the discussion above regarding the vocals and instrumental working
together, let us instead turn to addressing why—despite the solid chemistry of
the vocals and instrumental—that the sections still all earn a six. Ultimately,
though the sections sound fantastic and that even the progression to the
entirety of “Stigma” is fluent and coherent, the main flaw remaining is that
the sections lack incredibly distinctive points. And of course, I do not
necessarily mean distinctive as in each section has to sound different from one another—as numerously said,
“Stigma” does follow a linear format—but in terms of what each section provides
for the song, there is nothing distinctive in this sense. For example, both the
introduction and conclusion suffice in their roles, but in doing so neither is
that stunning. Even in, for example, the choruses where the vocals
are—especially in the song’s context—diverse and the instrumental is impressive
with complementing such along with meshing the bass with the beats, the
choruses are not composed to the point that their very composition consists of
striking ideas and techniques. Now this is not to say the sections are bad at
all; all the sections hold a decent score, but overall, the structure to the
song individually and in whole merely provide the foundation to the song versus
being the aspects that carry forth the song.

All
in all, “Stigma” is definitely an above average song if we are able to pay
attention to how the vocals and instrumental work. Stylistically, I do agree
with many that the song is difficult to listen to and to even enjoy, but given
the nature of it, I do urge fans to find enjoyment from it through analyzing it versus just listening to
it. Unlike the typical pop song that is fun and easy to listen to due to being
able to predict its flow or simply how upbeat and tuneful it is, “Stigma” is a
song that requires one to actually pay attention to what is occurring with its
sections, vocals, instrumental, and so forth. Once a listener pays close attention,
most likely she will find it to be quite impressive in terms of the song’s
inner workings—and if not that, at least in his attempt I hope that the song
becomes worthwhile.

_______________________________________________________

To
the requester, huge apologies for the delay and for poorly writing the review.
I feel that I have failed to truly bring insight as to why “Stigma” is a
fascinating and solid song, but I hope in the end that the review is
interesting and gives some ideas as to what one could look for when listening
to a difficult yet charming song. In terms of the next review, look forward to
another requested review. And though this sounds silly, I will have to end this
review here as I do have class quite soon—perhaps “writing-on-the-go” is not
the most optimal idea, after all. Look forward to Uhm Junghwa’s “Dreamer” and
until then, “I’m very sorry towards you” for not being as diligent, but I will
do my best to catch up on reviews. 

BTS – “Blood Sweat & Tears” Review

(Music Video) / (Live Performance) / (Audio;
unofficial upload)

BTS (Bangtan Boys) – Blood
Sweat & Tears

Reviewed
on October 16, 2016

The main hesitation, then, for why the
vocals are rated at a six and not quite a seven is due to one section in
particular: the choruses. These sections contain useless fillers. From a vocal
standpoint, the singing—or more accurately, mere speaking—of the choruses, and
of which are already vocally overly tedious, ruin the balance of “BST” ‘s
calmer, passive vocals.

Personal Message:
I am finally on break for one week,
and indeed getting away from university (though I still have much homework) is
delightful due to rest. With that, besides catching up on finally relaxing, I
will equally be catching up on reviews. I hope to finish at least three within
the week.

Regarding this review, first of all:
thank you to the requester for sending this in. It has been a while since the
prior request, and furthermore I am glad to receive a request on a song that
many fans are interested in. In fact, given that BTS is definitely one of the
more popular groups—and rightfully so after watching their performance of
“Blood Sweat & Tears”—this is the first time where I feel heavily burdened
to review a song: both with finishing it in a timely fashion, but more importantly
with actually bringing justice to the review itself. Nevertheless, even if this
review will gain a larger viewership due to it involving BTS, I will still be
“objectively subjective”; in other words, I will still review the song as I
deem fit and not be pressured to sway it into a good rating for the purpose of
fans. Optimistically, though, no pressuring is necessary: I foresee “Blood
Sweat & Tears” (and of which will be abbreviated as “BST” from here on for
convenience) scoring decently. However, do I confidently claim it is a strong
song per se and one of the better ones I have heard? Sadly, no amount of blood,
sweat, or tears would convince me of that.

_______________________________________________________

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


Vocals: 6/10


Sections: 6/10
(5.67/10 raw score)

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

1.     Introduction
(Pre-Chorus/Chorus): 7/10

2.     Verse: 6/10

3.     Pre-Chorus: 6/10

4.     Chorus: 4/10

5.     Bridge: 5/10

6.     Conclusion (Chorus): 6/10


Instrumental: 6/10


Lyrics: 7/10

My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my last dance
My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my cold breath
My blood, sweat and tears

Even my blood, sweat and tears
Even my body, heart and soul
I know that it’s all yours
This is a spell that’ll punish me
Peaches and cream
Sweeter than sweet
Chocolate cheeks and chocolate wings
But your wings are wings of the Devil’s
In front of your sweet is bitter, bitter
Kiss me, I don’t care if it hurts
Hurry and choke me
so I can’t hurt any more
Baby, I don’t care if you get drunk
I’ll drink you in now
Your whiskey, deep into my throat

My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my last dance
My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my cold breath

I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot

I don’t care if it hurts, tie me up
So I can’t run away
Grab me tightly and shake me
So I can’t snap out of it
Kiss me on the lips, lips
Our own little secret
I want to be addicted to your prison
So I can’t serve anyone that’s not you
Even though I know,
I drink the poisonous Holy Grail

My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my last dance
My blood, sweat and tears
Take away my cold breath

I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot
I want you a lot, a lot, a lot

Kill me softly
Close my eyes with your touch
I can’t even reject you anyway
I can’t run away anymore
You’re too sweet, too sweet
Because you’re too sweet

My blood, sweat and tears
My blood, sweat and tears

_______________________________________________________

Analysis: As
readers can tell, “BST” does score at a six—and that is not a bad score at all.
Perhaps the best summary of this song is that it is a rather balanced one;
there are no extreme points in the song—musically and statistically. Every
aspect of the song relates to one another and thus, the outcome is a very cohesive
song. With this in mind, then, this review will focus not necessarily on critiquing
the weak points of the song; instead, the focus will be on why “BST” is not as strong as it could have been.

Beginning,
though, with a category the song excels in, the lyrics are phenomenal. Whether
the following words are accurate or not, I feel as if recent reviewed songs
have only been average with their lyrics. Furthermore, even other songs I have
been listening to as of the late seem dull in their lyrical content. However
when it comes to “BST,” the lyrics do not just meet my review standards—in specific,
containing a variety of details and delivering a creative, distinctive plot or
message—but they in fact exceed them. For example at each verse, not only are
they separate from every other section, but within the verses the given details
are incredibly thorough and complex. Moreover, even with moments of somewhat
repetitive lines—a key example being “My blood, sweat, and tears”—a higher
level of complexity still exists. It is not as if BTS is chanting, for a random
example, “My blood, blood, blood” or, even worse, “La la la la” (though
exceptions do exist when this is permissible); rather, this repeated phrase in
particular is one that is crucial to the lyrics’ overarching plot.

And
on that note, the lyrics’ plot is very unique—though in particular, the delivery of the plot. In truth, the plot
itself is not necessarily exclusive: it is of a main character who is trapped
in an implicitly abusive relationship. Though the plot topic is rather unnerving
and even disturbing, other (pop) songs have very much introduced this before
and therefore, it is not utterly new. Nevertheless, as mentioned, the delivery
of this very plot is where “BST” ‘s lyrics shine: the verses and bridge are
prime examples. At most for a critique—and for what arguably very much limits
the song in a musical sense as we will discuss—the choruses’ lyrics are rather
mediocre. It is unfortunately a repeated line that is no better than “La la la”
and the like. But given how the rest of it compensates over, a seven is still
in place.

Turning
our attention now to the more important aspects of the song, as hinted at in
the last paragraph, the current choruses in this song are “BST” ‘s weakest
point. I would boldly argue that if a certain modification were made to them, the
song might have actually scored a seven—or at least, the vocals and sections
would have. What change would I suggest? Before going there, let me first explain
why the scores are as is.

When
it comes to BTS’ vocals, I very appreciate this song being a solid example of
how decent singing does not equate to amazing note holds, constant vocal
beltings, or having complicated and rigorous tunes. BTS’ singing (and rapping
if one renders the verses as raps) focuses less on power and intensity and
instead prioritizes tune—but even so, it is in a simpler form. Essentially, the
pre-choruses’ are the most complex and intensive forms of singing—and indeed,
the vocals are quite delightful there. However, even if the verses for example
are less strenuous, the vocals there are still adequate as the focus becomes on
rhythm and flow—akin to rapping. (And once again, perhaps the verses are actually
more accurately labeled as the song’s raps.) The main hesitation, then, for why
the vocals are rated at a six and not quite a seven is due to one section in
particular: the choruses. These sections contain useless fillers. From a vocal
standpoint, the singing—or more accurately, mere speaking—of the choruses, and
of which are already vocally overly tedious, ruin the balance of “BST” ‘s
calmer, passive vocals. A mixture of harsh and tuneless lines are added when,
most likely, the removal of vocals during the choruses have been much more
desirable and maintain the vocals’ existing strengths.

Continuing
on with the topic of “BST” ‘s choruses, they also prove problematic when focusing
on the sections themselves. First, though, it should be clarified that the
sections are overall solid. The verses and pre-choruses, for examples, fulfill
their roles of progressing the song all while maintaining sonic appeal. Likewise,
the conclusion ends the song in a timely fashion, and in particular with the
introduction, this section is fantastic and, coincidentally, sets an example of
how the choruses should have been.

To
explain the introduction’s assets as its rating is remarkable (in comparison to
the rest, at least), its unique structuring of being both the pre-chorus and
chorus is already one point, but more critically let us examine why that structuring—the fact that it is
both the pre-chorus and chorus—is a benefit and beyond just the fact that it is
creative. For one, the pre-chorus’ form provides “BST” a hook: the vocals, as
discussed, are at their best form when it is the pre-chorus, and additionally,
the build-up of the pre-choruses—the crescendo if we wish to be technical—is effective
at just that. In other words, the crescendo creates a sense of anticipation;
the build-up makes listeners desire to hear what the song climaxes to—even if
it is at the very beginning of the song. If we are considering the role of the introduction
is to create that hook, the introduction does that perfectly. Moreover, though,
we must consider what including a short, pure instrumental chorus in the
introduction does: it satisfies the “climax” listeners automatically search for
without entirely leaking the true climaxes and it provides a seamless
transition into the song itself. Regarding the latter, specifically without
that transition point in the introduction, besides an abrupt entry into the
first verse, the crescendo would have been left unresolved, and given that the
next chorus does not arrive until a while, that would have too excessive of a
delay.

Now
returning to weaker points of the sections, the choruses, once again, are at
fault. Being exact, the added vocals are simply the main issue. Vocally, it remains
lacking as already discussed, but on a structural level, that insufficiency—the
fact that the vocals lack during the choruses—is now a further problem for the
section itself: the choruses, being dull and repetitive, defeat the supposed
climactic point of the song. “BST” does a fabulous job at progressing the song
to its core point, but that very point—the chorus—comes short by a large
amount. It is this that causes the choruses to be structurally weak, but more
drastically, the song in whole is now impaired by it. After all, if the
supposed climax of a song comes off as not
a climactic point, is that not disappointing?

Miraculously,
however, “BST” in its entirety still holds strong at a six. If the choruses
were less repetitive and stale in their format—perhaps by entirely removing the
vocals that occur during these sections—then everything else might have
potentially been augmented. As is, though, “BST” is a decent song but its
choruses are ones that very much limit its potential from going beyond its
current state. Overall, yes “BST” is slightly above average, but is it anything
more? As I have argued in this review, because of the choruses, the answer to
that question is a no: the vocals, sections, and overall progression of the
song are held back by the choruses. All in all, even if this critique on “BST”
is considered overly harsh, we must all still bear in mind the song is still decent. The lyrics are
brilliant, and of course, the vocals, sections, and instrumental are decent—the
problem is just that more could have
been obtained. I personally consider “I Need U” the best release from BTS so
far, but indeed I can agree “Blood Sweat & Tears” is still admirable and is
definitely not a disappointing comeback in any form.

_______________________________________________________

Two
more reviews are definitely to come by this week: Hyuna’s “How’s This?” and,
for a new artist to be reviewed on the blog, SHINee’s “1 of 1.” Addressing this
current review, I do feel that I failed to bring a more insightful discussion
to “Blood Sweat & Tears.” With that, I apologize to fans who might have a
desired a very thorough analysis of every aspect to the song. Nonetheless, I
hope I was able to convey my main critiques and praises of the song. Of course,
though, private feedback is always desirable so if any reader has some input
please do share them. And as always, readers should feel free to disagree with
my points; I am from a professional and on top of that music is always
subjective.

For
next time, look forward to the mentioned two reviews to come. I plan to finish
them both by this week as I have a week off from university. Until then, “You’re
too sweet.” Thank you for reading this review—in full or skimmed—and for being
quite patient with this review. And thank you very much to the requester of
this review; without the request, I would have very likely missed this review,
so thank you from me and from fans.