Big Bang – Always (album review)

I was ready to give the 5 boys from Big Bang more credit, right before the release of their last album, Tonight. That was compassionate Tha. Back then I even had a thing for Daesung. Meantime there was that horrible car accident, GD&TOP playboy incident and an announcement about a G-Dragon solo album release in october. Oh, and a Universal Tonight craze. A bit too much drama for my taste.

I have nothing but respect for G-Dragon for being such a prolific composer. He’s the brain behind most of Big Bang albums. Well, he and his label mate Teddy, however he does get on my nerves every times he plays the fashion diva.

 

TOP can be an interesting rapper when he’s not on peroxide and steroids :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seungri will always be the overestimated maknae of the group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taeyang has to tame his hormones, they’re all over the place. And don’t even get me started on his stubborn refusal to wear tops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Daesung …I am really SAD about that nightmare he’s in right now. He had the most vocal potential out of all of them and I  envisioned a nice solo career for him. It really was his turn to shine. He shouldn’t be remembered solely for this powerful interpretation!

Their first mini album is actually one of their best releases. Each of the boys is well incorporated in the songs and the choruses are top-notch. The intro is fun, most of the intros by r&b and rap artists are something different. The sampling could have been more carefully selected, but their solo parts each have a nice flow. They make me shake my booty.

Lies is a great song. The chorus and the middle 8 are stunningly well sung and the moment when G-Dragon says something in Korean that sounds exactly like : Drop dead, bitch!, oh… pure ecstasy.

I knew Wrong Number’s English version, So Beautiful, which, if you were to ask me, sounds better. I have no idea which of the two is the original, but even the raps are better synchronized with the beat in the English version. G-Dragon really sounds tacky with that “that’s the shit/real shit” insertion.

TOP’s solo track, As If Nothing’s Wrong featuring Ji Eun has a sampling very similar to that gruesome song by Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey. This is the one reason why I don’t like it.

Oh My Baby sounds very generic and I can’t put my finger on exactly where I heard it before, however I like G-Dragon’s cries at the end of the song.

Always can be  a playful quite enjoyable song if you are capable of  ignoring G-Dragon’s “Bang them” from time to time.

Kids, what have we learned from the listening of this mini album ?

All together : That G-Dragon  has a very dirty mouth!!!

Final rating : 6.5/10

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Jay Park – Demon

No one was so hatefully bashed in here as Jay Park was in this malicious review. As an ending note I was advising him to try a more original and an inch more polished sound in order to come up with a true party anthem. Well, he did that. And no, not because of my bashing. Demon is not the greatest and most original thing ever but it manages to put Jay Park in front of my full of disbelief eyes in a completely new light. I love almost everything about this song. You may be familiar with my strange passions, like the one for this song. Now I think I’m having the same symptoms. I like the catchyness of the melody and how it starts at a low volume then suddenly powers up after a few seconds, I love the use of a grave violin tune and girl screams in the background, the rap in the middle 8 is delivered in a playful way that I am very fond of and the thing that manages to give me the good chills most are those adorable lyrics written by our very own Jay. I am willing to forget all about that Bestie girl and pledge my eternal love for Jay for being able to incorporate these verses in a song :

“I was on my way to heaven,
then she brought me down with a smile.
The scent of her perfume (black leather),
one look I traded God for her eyes.”

and the rap I was talking about :
“I was trying to go and save my soul,
but loving you really takes its toll.
You’re the only single name I know,
we must be glued together ’cause I can’t let go,
I tried to leave but I ain’t getting away.
No wonder your eyes are red in every picture we take,
‘cause you’re a demon why are you so evil to me?
But I love it so damn why didn’t I see?
You’re a master piece gone wrong, a wreck waiting to happen,
the grim ripper might as well go wait in the casket.
Not a human being but baby you’re a spirit.
I’m a super hero but you’re just a stronger super villain,
the best team in the league with you, I can’t win.
Heartbeat won’t die, my love’s what we can see.
So let me throw again what I still believe,
Baby you’re the finest demon that I’ve ever seen. “

I am so blindfolded by my new-found obsession that I was able to get past the gag reflex that wreck of a MV  is provoking me at every watch. The dance shots are ok ( he is, after all, a very talented dancer ), especially the slow-mo shot at 2:32 is a beautiful touch but any part that includes the actual she-demon look like taken from Drakula 5. ( I have no idea if this movie was ever made but if you were to ask me, aside from the fact that Santa and Dracula never really existed, any movie that tackles this subject is

a complete waste of money and lack of talent ). I mean, I like the actual skinship between her Evil Highness and Jay but seriously now, she seems as if she’s weighing a tone if you were to  look at Jay’s tormented appearance while she’s sliding over his bare chest…bare chest...chocolate abs…mmmm. And don’t even get me started on those gruesome Caspers that fluster around her. All in all things come to a cute NG ending and I’m happy to know that even he doesn’t take this MV that serious. Final rating : 8.6/10 Great job, Jay !

JYJ – Their Rooms (album review)

When the announcement of DBSK’s disbandment was made I immediately took JYJ’s side. The fact that my favourite member, Yoochun took part in the rebellion made no difference, the true reason behind my choice laid in the fact that no matter what, SM does play an important role in the misfortune of its artists. I’m talking about those damned contracts but also about the suspicious series of events that got JYJ banned from tv appearances, ignored on music charts, to lose some well remunerated endorsement deals and, for a few months, to play the ingrate role of a scape goat.


Despite all these hardships, our fellas are live and well :

Junsu  took on the big task of performing on musicals and does a hell of a good job,

Yoochun chose the slightly easier way of a kdrama actor and is usually a constant appearance and laureate of dramas awards and

Jaejoong, well he started with directing his band’s shows but also other events and the latest we know from him is that he is also a kdrama actor in Protect The Boss. But their biggest achievement has to be their own label and the 3 mini albums they released since the departure. Quite a lot coming from a band that was obligated to promote itself mostly through the internet and private events. The fact that they were able to do all this on their own brings tears to my eyes. You just cannot imagine how hard it is to work your way into the music industry without the financial and professional support of a strong label. Their only advantage was their own popularity, as former members of the most famous korean boyband, DBSK.

Once you’re a free agent, you can take the liberty of making your own choices. JYJ started composing more, taking on more challenges, like Junsu’s main roles in musicals and organising long concert tours. Those many concerts were a risky way of promoting their albums. Without live appearances on music tv programs, concerts bring them both money and a chance for a show of but could also mean a turning point in their careers if they result in a failure. The US tour still remains a questionable choice, I have no idea if it made them more good than bad but the fact that it brought them closer to their fans has to be a plus.

As for their music, well, The Beginning was a big disappointment, The.. Japanese release had some nice songs, but the tiara goes to Their rooms. The most noticeable thing upon a first hearing of this album is that they seriously lack good studio processing of the songs. The instrumentals sound weak, even cheap at some times, and don’t manage to compliment the vocal parts as they should. JYJ do have good instincts when it comes to the melody and vocal performance but they need an expert to arrange the instrumental parts in a more professional way. Thus the songs would have been more than just good songs.


There’s a lot to discuss on this matter but getting back to Their rooms, Fallen Leaves and Nine are the best tracks, Pierrot could have been even better with a more appealing arrangement and I.D.S and Mission stubbornly hang on to mediocrity’s limbo. As for Unnamed Song Part 1, well, it’s the cherry on top of the icing. I gotta give it to them for chosing such an elegant way of telling their stories.

Final rating : 8/10

A more detailed review will be programmed after the release of “In Heaven

Tracklist:

01 Get Out  [Lyrics by: Kim Jaejoong, Park Yuchun | Composed by: Kim Jaejoong, Park Yuchun | Arranged by: Kim Jaejoong, Brian Kim, Yoo Seongmin]

02 In Heaven (Narr. Kim Jeongeun) [Lyrics by: Kim Jaejoong | Composed by: Kim Jaejoong | Arranged by: Kim Jaejoong, Bjd, Mds]

03 낙엽 (Fallen Leaves) [Lyrics by: Kim Junsu | Composed by: Kim Junsu | Arranged by: Kim Junsu]

04 소년의 편지 (Boy’s Letter) [Lyrics: Kim Jaejoong | Composed by: Kim Hyungseok | Arranged by:  Kim Hyungseok, Yoo Seongmin]

05 Mission [Lyrics by: Zuno | Composed by: Kim Junsu | Arranged by: Kim Junsu]

06 I.D.S (I Deal Scenario) [Lyrics by: Kim Jaejoong | Composed by: Kim Jaejoong | Arranged by: Yang Junyoung]

07 Pierrot [Lyrics by: Kim Jaejoong | Composed by: Kim Jaejoong | Arranged by: Kim Jaejoong]

08 You’Re [Lyrics by: Kim Junsu | Composed by: Kim Hyungseokg | Arranged by: Yoo Seongmin]

09 Nine [Lyrics by: Kim Jaejoong | Composed by: Kim Jaejoong | Arranged by: Kim Jaejoong]

10 이름 없는 노래 PART 1 [Lyrics by: Park Yuchun | Composed by: Park Yuchun | Arranged by: Park Yuchun]

I can’t wait !!![tracklist source]

DBSK – Before You Go

( I like better the dance version, without those tacky guns )

Oh, another power ballad from SM. Oh, and it’s from 2/5 of DBSK. Let’s listen to it and be mesmerised !

These tacky shots gotta go

Erm, I am not a singer but if I were to guess I think Before You Go is a collection of breathing and vocal exercises that any canto student is very familiar with. All those gimmicks and tricks to make it seem deeper,heavier and more pretentious, well, I’m not buying it. Some of it does get to me, but it isn’t rubbing me the right way. It is obvious to me what they’re trying to do: it’s a show off. But music should be about the fun of singing and the fun of listening to good songs. With Before You Go I find myself trying to hold my breath each time Changmin starts one of his never ending vocal acrobatics and it’s too tiresome.
Good for them that they managed to present such outstanding vocals. But… I want a spectacular pop track

to sweep me off my feet, not this “Oh, look at me, I’m that good of a singer even without those useless main vocals that ran away 2 years ago”.
Oh, and the monologue version, I didn’t bother to listen to it. It seemed even more boring.
Final rating : 7/10

Get back to these

DBSK – Survivor

This is my reaction at the sight of this MV. Sorry, at the sight of Yoochun.

Survivor is the quintessential pop song. It reminds me a lot of the looks and music from the beginning of the 2000. It doesn’t have the aggressive sound of the mid 2000’s and the bubblyness of the majority of songs released towards the end of that last decade. Actually is somehow of a mix of all these along with a powerful feel good message, realising a perfect combo. I love all of the boy’s voices but I’m especially fond of Yoochun’s performance. You may say I have a thing or two for him. I call it ” wobbly thing inside my loins-like feeling”.
Even the english verses are made more coherent in this release. I’ve already learned not to be so picky when it comes to the grammatic of english inserts in kpop. Also, survivor, as a concept, is a well-known one, be it just granted to that song by Destiny’s Child.
In regards to the clip, I get the same impression, it’s the beginning of the year 2000, with the boys dressed in futuristic minimalistic white outfits ( oh, so many -tic ending words that tremble the hearts of the composers from SM). I like the short shots that try to create somewhat of a story, like when they are staring at those computers, like really trying to find a way to save the world ( well, you are Gods, you should be full of superpowers, forget about informatics, just, use your laser thingies ). I dig the earthquake and the imminence of a tragic ending. I love how the choreo comes at the perfect moment to lift up the level of tension and the fact that the overall impression of the clip is that it isn’t a too pretentious one. Sometimes, less is more. The one thing that I don’t get is that in the last image, that postapocalyptic view of the world, they are MIA. They should be out there on the streets, singing about surviving, dancing their hearts out and giving hope to the humanity, I say !
In the end, both subjective and objective, the boys deserve a high rating of appreciation : 9.6/10.

Jaejoon can now breath easily. Tha liked his song. kekeke


Shinee – Lucifer (album review)


Still being considered the juniors from the SM Entertainment family, I think Shinee should be getting a lot more attention than Super Junior. They sing better, they are a lot more homogeneous as a group and, as an all they seem to inspire more professionalism. It is hard for me to take SJ seriously as a band, I get lost among so many faces, many of them completely useless to the economy of the group and the songs juggle from being very good to being awfully bad.
The 5 members of Shinee are the happiest version of a boyband: 2 strong vocalists, another vocalist with both vocal and rapping skills, a flexible dancer and one model, I mean rapper. As far as itgoes, Lucifer, aside for its obvious flaws and weaknesses, it is one of the best albums in kpop ( I may be a bit subjective … on a decent measure).
I’m not a fan of intros. Sometimes there are bits from what could have been a great track, but most of the times are a mix of samplings from the entire album filled with way too many ridiculous adlibs. I totally prefer a promising start like Up&Down. I can easily foresee the loops that will take me up and down the road of a good listen during this album. It is the perfect appetizer.
Lucifer is saved by the amplitude of the live performance. The boys had already had a rough start with Minhoon the bench for most of the time, trying to perform the best he could, but visually they managed to do wellon a 4 men formula and to keep up with the crazy rhythm of the song. It isn’t a bad song, but I find it hard to find the melody inthis song. I especially hate the part where   Jonghyunhas a never-ending verse. It’s just …eeeeww.
If on Year Of Us, Y.O.U. was the song that was a healing patch for my broken heart, on Lucifer that role belongs to A-Yo. Forget the original version, forget Shinee, it is a good song that was saved from being mediocre.( The classic Cinderella story ). What I don’t really understand is why put Obsession right after A-Yo. The two similar tracks should be separated by at least 3 other songs. Maybe one of them belongs to the end of the album in order to create a grand  finale. Also I like the dramatic tone of the song, maybe because I am a Drama Queen ? And hallelujah for the guitar solo, such a breath of fresh air for k-pop.

Going next, Quasimodo is a nice ballad. Electric  Heart, on the other hand, is one of my favourite upbeat songs from Lucifer, especially because of the “My love is active, baby” verse. It’s funky, it’s fun and it fits their voices. The rap could have been better polished by a more deep voice. Poor Minho, it’s getting harder and harder for him to keep up with the other guys. Especially in the case of Shout Out, such a lame excuse for a skill show off.

Wowowow is another one of my favourites, the same funky sound they should embrace and start having children with because it fits them like a glove. The autotune it’s a nice touch, totally opposite to the nightmarish one in Shout Out. It also has the best rapping on the whole album.

 I could be superficial and underestimate SM’s ballads by saying that they all sound the same. On a smaller scale I could say that Your Name resembles a lot some of DBSK’s songs. Life is simply put : forgettable.

Prrrraaaaaaaargghhhh, and so the party started. Oh no, the party started a long time ago. Awkward number 11 for such party song. Still I like Onew’s parts and the Girrrrrrrlll shoutings. This was Ready Or Not.

Love Pain isn’t forgettable but rather painful for me to listen to it. Don’t know why but the feeling is visceral. Yes, that deep!
In the end, Love Still Goes On brings nothing but an ok chorus. Such a failed attempt to close a lovely chapter. I especially hate the instrumental part of it. It sounds rather cheap.


For an album to be great it is not necessary for all the tracks to be great. It doesn’t need a story or hidden meanings. Not even the impression of a main musical style or genre. A good album contains diversity, surprising elements and creates a soothing atmosphere. Lucifer is that kind of album. It makes me listen to it as a full and it even manages to make me forget about it’s not so strong parts. I’m looking forward for their next project and I anticipate it will have an even more refined but still fresh sound.

Patience, for now they seem to be testing the the Japanese waters.
Final rating : 9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. The diversity of these gestures is simply killing me!