B1A4 – it B1A4 (album review)

Boys, what have you done ?? We got to an agreement at the end of my last review that you’ll get rid of the cheesy cuteness in order to appeal to a more mature audience as well as to prepubescent teenagers. And you do what ? You do less singing and even more goofing around? Look at  Teen Top how beautifully they’ve evolved from their previous releases. Of course they’re not working their charms on the same public as you do, they’re more into noonas lately, but you could walk into their steps for a while instead of striving to become a teletubbie. (I have a feeling they’re slightly older than the guys from Teen Top which makes things even worse ).

I wouldn’t have been so cynical if it weren’t for this live performance of Beautiful Target. The so-called comeback on Inkigayo :

I like the Hare Krishna guy because he sings with an English lisp, but the others, the mini TOP wannabe, the pregnant one, the half-penguin-quarter-bear-quarter-human one and the I-wear-leopard-printed-pants-and-pink-spines-necklace-but-I-am-an-intellectual-because-I-have-my-glasses one, seriously now, did their stylists took a plunge into some mexican locoweeds ??? And all this pales in front of the most important issue I have to address : am I imagining the fact that for the most part of the song you’re lip-sync-ing ? Especially you, the blonde one with the sleeve-less pink jacket and the neon-green “cooler than you” shades!!

Regarding the actual album, there’s really not much I can say. I just don’t like Beautiful Target, period. I think it’s an ugly song. And similar in style to Tell Them from Block B. And what’s with this whole zum zum obsession ? There’s like 3 or 4 songs that feature this onomatopeia. Even a Romanian one has it.

In Chu Chu Chu they’re stubbornly du du du-ing  Shanice‘s motif from I Love Your Smile over and over again. Other than that it is just a mediocre r&b track with an interesting middle 8.

My Love and Fooool are generic kpop songs, nothing out of the ordinary, just bearable.

The boys had an interesting debut with Let’s Fly, the songs were catchy, they had a fresh attitude and the overall concept of the little

They looked as if they were having fun on the basketball court, like normal teenagers do.

prince was a working very well. With it B1A4, because they’re obviously exaggerating in more than one way, from cutesy gestures to clothes, all that freshness is nowhere to be found. Instead I see a bunch of late teenagers being so ridiculous on stage that even a toddler would cringe at the sight of then.

Where did the fun go ??

Final rating  : 3/10

 

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Crispi Crunch – Thumbs UP ( feat. Sori )

Rap duos can be found a dozen a buck in Korea, just to give you some names : Untouchables, Mighty Mouth, Supreme Team, Dinamic Duo, Leessang, of course, and many others. The newest on on the market is Crispi Crunch. Not Crispy Crunch as I was tempted to spell it because the phrase must have been TM-ed by a chocolate company.

So what is it with Crispi Crunch and its sudden rise in popularity ? I honestly thought there’s not much going on in there after I gave Thumbs Up a quick listen. A nice party anthem, with lots of growling and shouting, yet as original as the 34594th stalking cat on YouTube is today. This is what I was thinking of them until I got a tip from here that  funny stuff is going on in the video.

Hands up anyone who’s been to a club and witnessed  a guy having at least one of the behaviors depicted by the two specimens in the MV. Hands up if you’ve said meh… to at least one MV in which the singer/singers were being too conscious of themselves and the camera. And lastly, hands up all my girls who had problems in the past with taming a guy’s sexual outbursts in public. I see a sea of hands ( I’m not delusional, I hope).

Look at Hands Up video first, then watch Thumbs Up.

Do you get where I’m heading ? These guys and their producers are geniuses. Better yet, watch both the cut and uncut versions of Thumbs Up. I have no idea which one is more nutty, the cut version with all the mocking pointed at the likes of 2PM or the uncut with the hilarious shots in the closet. I don’t understand a word those two girls are saying, but I could swear it is something I’ve said on more than one occasion. And the ending with that she-male’s POV, oh, EEEPIIICC!!! Even the way they make fun of the occasional male-on-male making out fan-service, and of the idiotic and superfluous adlib-ing, and of the whole We Rock the Show – all are freaks and nerds except us attitude, and of the girl sandwich-ing… Oh, this shit is dope !!!!

Final rating : an honest thumbs up for the boys  10/10 !

We be coolest in the club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crispi Crunch

We be jerking off in the club

 

2PM – Saint O’Clock (album review)

Saint O’Clock aims hard for granduesque. Does it actually achieve its goal ? We’ll see about this. The boys may not be the best looking fellas in the industry, but for what they lack in looks they surely make up for with their singing abilities. They don’t make ballad bands

Diva skills, I has them

without actual singers, do they ? I have my favorites :  Jo Kwon‘s lyrical voice ( he’s not only the drama queen among the Korean Icons, he’s the drama king in 2AM too as you can clearly see in Like Crazy’s PV ), he may look frail, but I’ve seen him working out crazily at the gym, and I have a thing for Changmin and his nasal trills. Also his quirky sense of humor cracks me up. Too bad KBS canceled the broadcast of Star Golden Bell. I have no knowledge of the other member’s sense of humor or diva-skills.

A few thoughts on the album as a whole before I begin dissecting one track at a time : although it contains a variety of musical influences  and the arrangements are top-notch, at one point the songs might start to sound a bit boresome. To sum it up the album consists of a serious amount of tear-jerkers. There are too many songs fighting for the most epic of them all spot. This is what happens when you add previous releases to the next album and you make little changes to the concept. Because of this, songs like No More or For Love Again fail to impress in spite of being decent songs.  Actually, now that I give the 2 a better listen I find them quite hard to digest and redundant to the context. Anxious at least has a nice low-key instrumental and a strong beat and manages to stand out of the crowd for a bit.
And another thing I’ve noticed : the boys do mostly solo parts, so not so many harmonies as I would like to listen, especially in a chorus and it is a pity because  those would round-up better some songs.

Now let’s discuss the ones I did enjoy listening to. For once I enjoyed an intro track. Phone really does makes sense in disclosing whatever secrets this album may have. You Wouldn’t Answer My Calls is sorrowful, as sorrowful as 2AM can be at its best. It is a great song indeed, but wait till you’ve listened to all of them.

Like Crazy. I wasn’t expecting another epic song to come right next after You Wouldn’t Answer. They’re quite similar and this does somehow level down my expectations.

Just Me. The song has a more positive feeling to it and it features ( at last ) some harmony in the chorus sung by Jo Kwon and Glam. Surprisingly how well a sexy female voice sounds alongside the boys.

Mirage is one of my favorites, we get some r&b, a slightly increased pace and the thing that startles me most is Changmin’s middle 8 part. Believe me, the first time I listened to it I had goose-bumps. It’s that good.

This album was in desperate need of a song like Love U, Hate U. It’s fun, it’s upbeat, it has swag and the rap parts are surprisingly good. It features a collabo with, I’m guessing 2 rappers from 방탄소년단, but I’m sensing 1 or 2 of the boys are delivering some lines too. After all, Jinwoon and Changmin are mentioned as rappers too in the description of the band.

With of Without You has a 90s feel to it, it’s more of a dance song and if they were to ask me I would have switched it with Like Crazy, just to balance the album a little bit. I love how well the piano and the sinths get along in this song, but I love them even more in the next one.

I Can’t Say That I Love you is my other favorite track. The instrumental part is kept low-key, the sinths and beats are old school, but the thing I like best are the chorus and Changmin in general. He really does a beautiful job towards the end of the song.

Final rating : 9.5/10

Boys, don't cry. I'm gonna start crying too if you do...

4men – Hello!

Just how the 4 most famous apostles were actually only 3, Luke and Mathew, 4men lost a member in 2001 so, since then, they’ve been rockin’ the houses as a trio ( lucky number 3 never changed, although there was a hell lot of traffic being made by members coming in and out of the band ). Today’s formula consists of Young Jae, Shin Yong Jae and Kim Won Joo. Their appeal ? Besides being insanely talented, their voices cover up a wide vocal range. Yong Jae is in charge of the high notes while Joung Jae drops the low, more masculine ones. In the middle of them stands tall Won Joo, whose voice is mid-ranged and is in charge of keeping things balanced.

Their musical style may not be all that original, but the moment they start singing you forget all about following the tune and you get immersed into the mystic flow of sounds coming out of their souls. This is pop music at its best. I usually get all hyped when I hear a strong vocalist working his magic, but the one thing that really manages to blow me off my feet is that special type of chemistry that’s found inside a homogeneous band. Be it boy or girl band. It makes no difference.  This is the exact case with 4men, they got under my skin and started messing with my vital organs. You have no idea how virulent a solo by Yong Jae can be.

To keep things short because music speaks better than words, here it is, my favourite 4men track, the live version of Hello!  :

It’s a pitty they don’t have as many releases as I would like them to have.

Final rating : 10/10

Touched

C.N. Blue – Bluetorry ( album review )

I like the fact that pop music is based on a single premise : appeal to as many people as possible. Pop is for the grand masses, it is supposed to sell better than any other music genre and, sometimes, to be more superficial  too. Not always. It is hard to juggle with a good rock song and try to add to it influences from other genres. What’s even harder is to make a pop song sound as if it were a rock one. Well, I don’t know about others, but to me CN Blue isn’t a rock band. I couldn’t care less about their indie background and the rest of the legends that surround them. Other than a good sense in mixing some bits of melodies I see nothing here. Nothing. At ALL. It takes a whole lot more to impress the rock chick in me. As thin the line between love and hate is, the thicker the one between rock and pop is.

Getting back to my kpop review, well, I like CN Blue. Gotcha, ha? They’re fresh, they’re talented, they use instruments, well, I guess CN Blueonly on recording studios and concerts because I have yet to see one plugged guitar or drum in a live tv performance and they write their own songs. Which is more than all of SM and JYP artists put together are capable of doing. Except IU, but I’m not so sure about IU being under JYP. Oh, and that mock of a rock band, Trax. Yes, that one too. Anyway, CN Blue manage to impress me as kpop artists, but even from this point of view things don’t look as shiny on close-ups as they do from afar.

Let’s take a closer look at Bluetorry. It’s a plethora of western influences, from Maroon 5 to Arctic Monkeys ( hmm, alternative isn’t really my area of expertise, I’m more into progressive and stuff ) and there’s definitely a bunch of good ideas that stand out, however they’re inconstant with their compositions. I’m a Loner is 5 songs in 1, but that’s exactly its appeal and it is a hell of a good song. The different tunes blend together beautifully and the rappers/backing vocals manage to keep up with Yong Hwa’s strong vocals, complementing his parts.

The same thing goes for Love Revolution, another fun listening experience. The guitar riff might not be as original as they would like it to be, yet it does the trick to bring more color to the song. Love Revolution’s greatness lies in the fact that it manages to introduce you into that vibrant concert atmosphere.  You can even hear in the background some screaming and clapping as if it were recorded from a live performance. Or as if a pack of Yong Hwa’s groupies were gushing inside the recording room.  A nice touch, nonetheless.

Y, why is bad. 3rd-rate-American-garage-band bad. They manage to ruin it even more by getting the rapper/rappers drunk at first and then telling them do deliver a solo. What happened to all the energy from before?

I know, they were keeping themselves for the next track on the list, Now or Ever which is a failed attempt to sound an inch more aggressive, but a nice sing-along song.

I’ll Forget You is indeed a nice ballad, I love the instrumental part, all the instruments can be clearly heard, but I’m not so sure about the melody. It does sound a bit too bland for my taste.

In the end all I can say is that I do prefer their previous Japanese releases to the total disappointment First Step it was for me. And more than everything I like Love Revolution which I think still remains their best track.

Final rating : 8.3/10

This is not decent rocker behaviour. Revise it.

JYJ – the Kdrama OST chronicles

The boys managed to work their way into kdrama-land, well each one at his own pace, Yoochun being the most prolific with already 2 main lead roles and Junsu happy with just a cameo appearance. Jaejoong gets the silver medal with a second lead role and a special mention for being the most congenial out of the 3.

Not only did they act but are also featured as OST artists. So let’s see who gets the gold medal this time. The contestants are, of course, the 3 lovely members with 3 solo tracks but also we have one song featuring all 3 of them. I gotta give it to you, it was a close race, with Jaejoong throwing in all of his charms, with Junsu trying to melt my heart by asking all his cats to play as cute as they can and with Yoonchun, well, Yoochun just smiled at me and then it all ended. I knew the winner. I’m just kidding, of course the ratings are based on an objective analyse. So here it goes :

#4. Junsu/Jaejoong/Yoochun – Found You (ShunKyunKwan Scandal OST)

The only more upbeat of them all, Found You is your typical kpop track but with a twist : it’s beautifully sung. Their voices blend together perfectly, they have chemistry and they make up for the obvious flaws this song has. 7/10

#3. Junsu – You Are So Beautiful (Scent of a Woman OST)

I have tried hard to love this song. I do like it, but not so much. The verses are ok, the guitar sounds sweet and so does his voice but the

Just #3, ha? We'll see about that.

chorus just kills my groove. The song builds up my expectations and I want more than just a long Youuuu aaare soooo beauuuutiiful. Then wonderful. Then Oooooohhh. There are hundreds of songs that use this combination of words and interjections.  The second part of the song does have some vocal acrobatics that I like and that Junsu masters so well. He has an insane amount of talent and I do want to hear from him that’s preparing for a solo album. 8/10

#2. Jaejoong – I’ll Protect You (Protect the Boss OST)

Jaejoongmight not be my favorite vocalist among the three of them but this time he nailed it with this

&%@4$ #2??

track. It suits him perfectly and it is the quintessential kdrama OST track. It’s uplifting, you can use it both when the there are tears involved and when romance is floating in the air. The one thing that I don’t like at all is that last note. It makes for a too abrupt ending. 8.5/10

 

 

[drums]

#1. Park Yoochun – Vacancies For You (Miss Ripley OST)

You can say I favored him because I fancy him. No, it’s not just that. The boy has talent and this song is not just a OST track. It is a stunning ballad and the highlight of it are those surprising twists inside the chorus that just melt my heart with a little help form all the sweetness in Yoochun’s voice. The composition is kept simple and the song flows so effortlessly for the whole 3 minutes that you can’t help but wonder if it’s actually that long. Vacancies For You will definitely have a permanent place in my playlist. And Yoochun will have his place inside my heart too, of course.  10/10

Number 1, bitches!

Dalmatian – 1st Mini Album (review)

Firstly, I think Dalmatian is an awful choice for a band name unless you are one of those kids that appear in a Disney Channel

Spots and my nerves don't really get along together

series. How serious can I take them if you add to the name issue these horrible outfits. The more I try to look at them the more puzzled I get. Is it supposed to be funny ? Is it hip ? Is it hop ? They sure like to hop around in this choreo…
I almost managed to get the paws-fashion-nightmare off my mind for a few months (with a little help from some Xanax pills), then I found out they were planning a comeback. I admit I was getting a bit curious after seeing the cover photos. Those were cute spots. The kind that weren’t necessitating any medication to get over them. And to add to my surprise my cerebral activity wasn’t harmed by the next live performances and the listening of the mini album either. I found out that the boys seemed to have a charming side and the songs weren’t all that bad. Of course their style still needs a lot of polishing, but they have enough potential to become a decent r&b boyband.


Lover Cop’s beginning steals a smirk from me at first but I almost instantly get hooked by the energetic beat and its crescendo. I know how to enjoy a flashy start.


The biggest shock ( as in positive shock ) I had while listening to The Man Opposed. It really is a fun song, the beginning is stunning and I fancy even the use of autotune for the stanzas.


Lost In Love stats of with a nice funky beat but its strong points are the falsetto chorus, the original middle 8 and the convincing rap parts.

I love all the screaming that’s going on at the end of Real Eyes which is probably the best track on the mini album. Kpop rarely leaves us without the heavy processing of the voices and this songs is one of those satisfying exceptions.
The rest of the songs, Really Really, Home Run and Round 1, all sound excessively cheesy for my taste. It was agonising to listen to some questionable English verses and the tunes didn’t really get to me.
In the end, the whole experience gives me mixed feelings because I have no idea what’s coming next and this album has a lot of attractive elements but also a big number of things that really get on my nerves.

Final rating : 6/10.

I reeeally have a crush on this adorable Smurf.