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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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

Co-Ed School – Too Late

Co-Ed School seems to have dissipated before I was able to figure out exactly just how many members are there and what are their gender. Some of the girls went to form 5dolls but the boys and the real objects of my interest are nowhere to be found. That’s a pity because I am a fan of this band’s concept. I love dance tracks that feature both male and female voices. I have yet to find something similar in style with Co-Ed and the thought that I won’t be able to enjoy any new material from them is excruciating.

I’m going to talk about Too Late which, in my opinion, is a perfect pop song from start to end. It has a powerful vibe, it is perfect material for clubs, the vocal parts are sharp and crisp, the arrangement is done flawlessly and what I like most is how the verses are delivered as if the two sides, the boys and the girls, are having a fast-paced argument. It is superficial without being cheesy, it is commercial but at the same time easy to digest and in the end does it really matter that it hasn’t the most complex melody or more elaborate vocal parts ? It is a fresh and fun song and the singers are young, we should spare them the steep criticism.

I’m also loving the video. Dust coming out of clothes and dancing in the rain will always look cool.

Rain, erhm, well, water in general is cool.

Dust is cool

I didn’t get the whole robotic-eyes-coming-in-and-out-of-the-blonde-guy-thing, but  the fact that the MV actually had an interesting story managed to keep me glued to the screen the whole 5 minutes.

Final rating : 9.3/10

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.

Code V – Honestly (album review)

I am the perennial defendant of the weak and underrated. Code V boys belong to the last category. Not having a potent label behind you has its bitter price exactly when it comes to some of the most interesting faces in kpop. Music gives me a lot of satisfaction when I stumble upon an amazing piece of material. All those heavily promoted releases make me uneasy because I have expectations. The results are always one of the two : disappointment or ecstasy. Each with its own scale ranging from high to low. But I have a curious personality and the habit of always searching for something new. That’s how I met these 4 charming boys. Well, not personally, of course, though it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. I managed to know them through Honestly, their last album. And, boy, it was with butterflies and the whole treat.

There isn’t much info to spare about them, they were 5, their leader left, now there’s 4 of them, they sing beautifully and they’re more talented than many of the heavily promoted faces in kpop. Now getting back to the actual reviewing, Honestly has some heavy stuff going on. I should warn you now, before you get to listen to the tracks : these boys kick ass at singing and especially at singing together. I’m talking here about Brown Eyed Soul kind of chemistry. I feel that soul sparkle coming from them. It’s vivid and most noticeable with their ballads.

In We’re Going To See Now I really like how the Haru Haru part sounds. I’m not so moved by I’m Sadder, the adlibs and rap sound extremely out-of-place for this album. Summer Love manages to be cutesy without sounding too cheesy.
And now let’s get to the songs I’m really exited about.

 Miracle is a marvelous old school r&b song, I’m loving the way it takes enough time and effort to build up, I’m living the climax and I even fancy the whole “we can fly” thing even though I’ve always hated that song by R.Kelly. You know which one I’m talking about. The one featuring Bugs Bunny. The best part has to be the one where we have 3 wonderful layers : the guitar solo, the choir and one of the member’s lovely vocals. Oh, it’s epic!

Go is the perfect dance song. The guitar riff I hear on the background is a very nice touch, the chorus blows my mind away with its beauty and the middle 8 adds more piano just enough to send me to fantasy-land. One thing does come as a turn off : the autotune in the end. Big no-no!

I like both versions of Addiction. They surely sound more kpop-like but nonetheless are very powerful songs. The cases when the remix versions of the songs sound as good as the originals are a rara avis in kpop. Usually, remixes are used solely for the purpose of filling a blank spot on the album and there’s usually little effort put in the actual new arrangement. Thankfully, this is not the case with Addiction.

Tell You Honestly really reminded me of something 2AM would sing. It has the same vibe as Can’t Let You Go Even If I Die, still

Yes, boy, number one!

these boys have more soul in them and the beat of the melody is more noticeable. The middle 8 and bridge manage to drain all energy out of me. These boys sing their hearts out in such a charming way and they get so little recognition ? They deserve to be DBSK big. Immediately!

Final rating : 9.8/10 ( And did I tell how handsome some of the guys are ? Ha ? HA? )

Miss A – A Class (album review)

The one girl group that manages to impress me is Miss A. I have all the confidence in the world when it comes to JYP‘s capability as a producer. He’s a master at polishing rough talents and at discovering all of the out of the ordinary traits hidden inside those artists he works with. You could say that this is a must for any producer, but you really have to be a genius in order to make 2PM that succesful. Geesh, is so obvious the boys are nothing more than mediocre singers. But the moment they start taking those tops of and doing all those group acrobatics…

Why is it that the perfect abs of 2PM boys are a recurring topic on this site ??

Miss A’s latest release, the A Class album is exactly like the title says, nothing less than A Class. I really dig that whole feet fetish thingie, especially in the video. They’re slim, they’re young, why shouldn’t they flaunt it ?

Out of the 4 girls I’m more familiar with Suzy‘s role in Dream High and that hilarious bad-ass attitude of Min. That girl can seriously kick some ass with just a bat of an eye.

I’m impressed of how convincing these girls in their late teens or early 20s sound. This is why Miss A is so much better than most of the other girl groups : they refuse to play cute, yet don’t try to be too seductive. They’re natural when performing live and give an overall impression of a mature and full of girl-power group. It also helps that they have strong vocals, I’m guessing Min‘s the most prominent one.

The overall mixing is done nimbly, some mediocre melodies are saved by the arrangers, the exact case of  Blankly, the, oh, so plain ballad without that orchestral intro.

I have some favourites, One To Ten, Help Me, Goodbye Baby of course, a wonderful breakup song, Love Again and Good Girl Bad Girl an even more wonderful break up song, keke “Shut Up Boy!!”. Break it, Play The Music DJ and a few others don’t rise to the awesomeness of those before-mentioned.

A Class is a very good pop album. It has all those elements that worked well in the 80s but wrapped in the finest up to date orchestration. The kind of album I would recommend to anyone that thinks pop isn’t all that complicated.

Final rating : 9/10

DBSK (Tohoshinki) – Superstar

Minho and Leeteuk think otherwise

The newest Japanese release by Korean super band DBSK, Superstar, is simply put, an ugly song. The definition of an ugly song* : an ugly song doesn’t do justice to either the singer or the listener, it is usually harmful to the delicate ears of children and elders and it has a lifespan of up to 3 weeks untill it disintegrates as if it never existed. Or that is what it should happen in order for the singers to be released from the shame of having promoted that horrendous piece of shit. And also to release them from Hell’s 7th circle.

Superstar reminds me of the atrocities that are being composed year after year for the Eurovision contest. Actually I’m not that far from the truth with this comparison because the composer is Swedish, a long time acquaintance of SM.
And, on top of all, the base sampling of the songs is so similar to Lady Gaga’s Pokerface that even I feel ashamed.
It doesn’t help either that the only live performance I saw had the worst vocals I’ve seen in kpop world (I know Japanese music programs  have some problems with the sound system, but this is no excuse for the bad quality of the performance ). I was used to Changmin’s screams crackings from time to time, but this was just too much. It just isn’t a soliciting song, why would you dare turn it into a wreck ?
The B side track, I Don’t Know isn’t as ugly as the first one because it’s too forgettable, too similar to other DBSK songs, too plain…
Final rating : 3.0/10 ?? I think so…
* By Tha( The know-it-all kpop guru )