Sunday, August 12, 2012

Week 6

I know, I can't believe it either. WE'RE FINALLY BACK. FINALLY. After last year's attempt at week 6, which might just see the light very soon (believe me, it's too good not to publish), we managed to wrangle ourselves, and a few friends, into a proper week six! So much has changed since week 5, but it's good to know that we're all still here, and we still have it in us!

This week's panel features permanent panelists:

Nikki @ Pop Reviews Now
Mel @ Melismatic
McRoth @ McRoth's Residence

And special guests:

Ree @ Colour Me Splendid

D-Unit - I'm Missin' You
A rookie trio group -- "I'm Missin' You" is their debut song. One member's big sis is a member of T-Ara (so take that for what it is, I suppose). -- Mel

McRoth (2/5): I had to listen to this song a few times. Not because I liked it, but because it was so forgettable, that I couldn’t get a good grip on what I was listening to. This is generic. It’s not exactly the worst thing ever – no, no – but it sure is dull, yes. The vocal processing isn’t appealing, and becomes quite intrusive as the song progresses. Add that to the fact that the melodies are monotonous as hell, on top of a drowsy instrumental, and you’ve got zzz’s for days. Sorry, ladies.

Mel (3.3/5): D-UNIT (50 Cent voice...drops the microphone). I don't know much about these girls, but the minute I first heard the song without even seeing their look or the video itself, I immediately thought Holy 2NE1 feels, Batman. Then you take one glance at the video and see a knock-off CL workin' it out (Plot Twist -- it's the T-Ara baby sis who does the rap...disappointed). The comparisons are gonna come to you if you make it so damn obvious (and they have) so stanny netizens who complain about that should be kicked. It's right there! However, I adore 2NE1 and this song is super catchy so I can't fault it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I guess. I mean -- the vocals are competent, the dance is engaging. I'm interested to see what's in store for round two for them -- so long as they don't go the cutesy route.

Nikki (3/5): You have your synths, you have your obvious auto tune, that you use significantly more of on the repetitive hook, and you have three girls. So what's new? I know K-Pop isn't really the place to go for originality, but come on, this sounds like it came from 2009/2010, which, just to make you feel a bit old, was already three years ago. If you want to sound like you came from 2009, go ahead, but at least do it well for heaven's sake! It's not a bad song, it's not confused at all, and I like the melody of the bridges, but the entire song made no impact and went right through me. And with the huge volume of new groups coming out right now, it's probably the most important thing to make people stop and listen.

Ree (2.8/5): They remind me of a diluted 2NE1 -- yes, said it. It sounds like they have some solid voices amongst them, and I like the rapper, but 'I'm Missing You' is forgettable. I can see what they were trying to do and what direction they were trying to head into, but 'I'm Missing You' sounds cheap, and I blame this partly on the fact the song is unnecessarily hammered with autotune. The bridge is beautiful and raw, but the interjection of the processed 'I'm Missing You' serves as a reminder that it's been done before, and done better. (x)

TESTAMENTVM (4/5): Never bothered to listen to this group because it seemed like A) it was comprised of three hobbits (judging by the height of those tiny girls), and 2) T-ara's Boram has a sister in the group (and Boram was recently nominated as "Most likely to go on a murderous rampage") Even though Wooram looks like an evil Pucca, she's definitely the face of this group. It's pretty obvious - there are only three girls, and one of them wears sunglasses all the time (and when she doesn't she's wearing more eyeliner than CL), and the other is cookie cutter - congratulations Wooram! But I eat my words - this group has a catchy ass debut song that melds ballad and dance elements relatively well.

"Elvis" is the debut single of rookie pop-rock-electro-hybrid girl group, AOA (Ace of Angels). They've turned heads with their up-beat bubble gum pop sound, as they're the sister group of FNC label mates FT Island, CN Blue, and Juniel. -- McRoth

McRoth (3/5): Am I the only one getting serious Sunny Hill vibes from this? It’s like what Sunny Hill sounds like when they’re trying too hard to be ‘different’. And yet … something about it doesn’t sound half-bad. I think it does a really nice job in the verses. They’re swift, easy to digest, and balance really well with the brassy instrumental. Where it falters is in the pre-chorus/chorus for me. The hook is weaaaak and repetitive in all the wrong ways. Fixing that, and I think they would have had a pretty legit single on their hands.

Mel (4.1/5): Well then. I wasn't expecting this from a leggy girl group called Ace of Angels. It's some weird hybrid of harder rap talking, sexy dancing and cutesy-ness and for some reason it works. My main complaint is the boring chorus (Elvis, dodoo dodoo, Elvis, dodoo dodoo). To make it even more confusing, apparently some of them are in the 'dance' image of AOA, while others are in the 'band' image of AOA (because they do play instruments?). This group cannot make up it's mind to save it's life. Ya'll need to get that stuff in check -- netizens are easily befuddled by nonsense. Still, the song, for what it is, is a corker.

Nikki (3.5/5): I was telling Ree the other day that I think Yonghwa is a crap composer if he wrote this, then I found out that he didn't. In any case, the only part of Elvis that I genuinely like is the chorus proper. I like it -- it's spunky, and very, very K-Pop. Everything else, including that part right after the chorus, is meh. Individually they're okay elements, but when you put everything together and listen to it as an entire song, there's something ever to slightly off to me. Right now I'm leaning towards their execution, which I hope it is because it's very easy to fix that, but we'll see. I have my eye on you, AOA.

Ree (3/5): It reminds me of a less successful version of Nine Muses' 'Ticket'. Here's a secret -- I'm an absolute sucker for brass. But it's so easy for it to create unbalance in a song and make it gimmicky -- much like here. There's some moments of quirkiness, but overall the whole song tends to come off as too brash and generic for my taste. Another piece of advice; rap + brass are NOT a match made in heaven. The rapper is SO grating, can someone please just... get her out of the song.

TESTAMENTVM (4/5): I was taken aback by how good this song was. It's super catchy, with a big brass sound that I haven't heard any girl group pull off decently after Secret (or rather, their label) decided to go to the land of the rising sun last year. The only thing that bothered me was the "point" of the choreography (namely, the weird rubbing move that repeats during the chorus). Granted, it wasn't the dark horse hit that "Loner" was for CN Blue, but if AOA keeps releasing music like this, FNC might see itself becoming the next Cube.

Teen Top - Be Ma Girl
After the release of their summer jam "To You," TEEN TOP is back with .... ANOTHER summer jam. This time titled "Be Ma Girl," the group's third Brave Brothers collaboration and third single to be released this year alone. Can't knock that hustle ... -- McRoth

McRoth (1.7/5): This is one of TEEN TOP’s most irritating tracks ever. Yeah, “Supa luv” was actually less irritating than this, and that’s saying something. While not an awful song per se, it has absolutely nothing special going for it. Even worse yet is the vocals, which are so whiny, that I couldn’t bare sitting here having to review this thing any longer. Final verdict: vocals are piercing and 90% of the time annoying as fuck; generic beat is generic.

Mel (3.6/5): Hey Teen Top, what are you gonna do when you all are no longer teens? (Pondering thought.) Let me get this much out of the way first - these noona-baiters will never gain my feels after "No More Perfume On You". I like my boy bands sexy in a genial, you-would-make-a-GOOD-boyfriend kind of way. That fact aside -- "Be Ma Girl" is kinda catchy, isn't it. (sobs) And really, it's despite your best efforts on paper. Your wardrobe looks like clothes f(x) rejected (and rightly so). The song was produced by Brave Sound. So much creepy little boy hip thrusting that as a 25 year old woman makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable. And yet, I still find myself humming the chorus. Damnit. Side Note: can this whole genie-pants for men trend in Korea end already? It looks good on no one. NO ONE. Not even Rain could pull that ish off....Well, okay, maybe Rain.

Nikki (2/5): See, this is why I've always been on team Infinite. It's not like there's no song in "Be Ma Girl", because there is, and for that it gets a point, but for an uptempo, this sounds so bland. I blame part of this on the Brave Brothers, because they always deserve to be blamed, but it's not like Teen Top are doing anything to help either. And I second McRoth about the whiny vocals (which I'm surprised you only realized now) -- the chorus is painful. This sounds like half-assed U-Kiss, and I don't even find U-Kiss exceptional.

Ree (2.8/5): Here's a secret; I've grown to like Teen Top as performers, because they are MAD IN SYNCH. But the issue is that they never get good material (plus, Neil is a whore for lines, but whatever). Be Ma Girl is whiny, and they sound like thirteen year olds trying to woo a girl at a noraebang. It's a third-rate party song with an extra dash of shrillness.

TESTAMENTVM (1/5): They say the 3rd time's a charm, but that doesn't appear to be the case for "Be My Girl", the third Teen Top single produced by Brave Brothers. I got Latin vibes from the guitar-led intro to the song, but was disappointed by a weird, not so Latin (and definitely not catchy) chorus. To add salt to the injury, Brave did more than his usual share huffing and puffing into the mic. JYP has his creepily breathy "This is a JYP Production" sound ID, but Brave read us a whole paragraph this time (though mostly full of onomonopias), which he began by first reminding everyone (not that we're counting or anything) that this is his third collaboration with the boys of Teen Top…the third time. What is he, fucking ical, dating every collaboration and reminding me how many times you've worked with teen top? dude i'm totally happy for you and all, but 1) I really don't care to keep track of these things, nor do I wish to be reminded of these things every single time i listen to a teen top album. i listen for teen top, not for you Brave. Then, he was kind enough to throw a bruhhh into the track and reverb it so that it bounced around in the digital ether for a bit. Class.

BEAST - Beautiful Night
After last year's brilliant "Fiction and Fact", BEAST are finally back with a new EP, "Midnight Sun", and their lead single, "Beautiful Night", and they've been sweeping music show awards (or what's left of them) for the past few weeks, beating out heavyweights like BoA and PSY. -- Nikki

McRoth (4.5/5): I think I’ve written, like, three thousand reviews for this song by now, but my story is always the same. This. Song. Rocks. Sure, it’s not as grungy and hard-around-the-edges as I was hoping for, because that’s certainly something about BEAST’s older music that I appreciate and miss, but I’m still enjoying every ounce of this song. No, it’s not because Dongwoon has a trillion more lines now – although, fkeajfkejkfla yassss – but because everything about this feels genuine. Like, the way BEAST carry this song is so effortless, that I can’t help myself but want to join them in the fun. Hands down, this is one of their most polished jams to date. Ps: Dongwoon, marry me.

Mel (4/5): Gather round, my beloved little bb's in Batoost. You know that I dig you a lot. You know it. And yet you insist on doing these mid-tempo sparkly uptempos over and over again rather then relishing in the fact that your name is BEAST. Where did the "Breathe"'s go? Where did the "Shock"s go? Where is the "Mystery"? Your harder uptempos was what made me fall for you. I let "Fiction" slide because it's a jam but I can't take these subtle dance songs for much longer. I mean really -- it's not like 2PM is hogging your glory anymore. That aside, "Beautiful Night" is fun for what it is, I just really want Batoost to come harder. I know they can. Also - why would you hurt HyunSeung with that awful clown red hair? Why, Cube, why?

Nikki (4.8/5): This is just one of those songs that I don't care if no one else on the panel likes -- because I adore it. Sure, the live performances of it have been total let-downs from the very beginning (SHAME ON YOU, CUBE!), and for that I've deducted from the score but really, the recording is stunning. The accompaniment is gorgeous, with all the right elements in the right places, the arrangement packs a punch but lets you recover before the next one, and the delivery just swoops in with all it's confidence and steers the song. Considering how disappointing Cube's releases this year have been, it's good to know that at least they save all their money up for the people who deserve it.

Ree (4.5/5): Once I got over the sheer shrillness of the songs, I'd come to like it exponentially. The synths are extremely heavy and biting, but the vocals are even more piercing. As a result you have a song that's very gritty, but very melodic and evocative -- sort of like a cool ice cream in the middle of the blazing Summer heat.

TESTAMENTVM (4/5): The boys of B2ST circa 2012 are a far cry from the JYP rejects that Cube picked up. Upgraded and swag-ed out for their latest release, "Midnight Sun" represents an interesting evolution in the artistry of B2ST. High fashion meets urban street culture in this MV, while the actual song is less of a deviation from the mean. B2ST has always been a dance/electro pop group (think "Bad Girl", "I Like you the Best", etc) with ear worm chorus (I'm yourrrssss, nuhbody), but this song finally looks and feels 2012.

Super Junior - SPY
SM's Super Junior "returns" with the followup to "Sexy Free & Single" (s let's play some bingo) via this James Bond-inspired repackage single. The song is the second single since 2009 to feature Kangin, who has been away for his military service, and most likely (well...probably) will be the last single featuring leader Leeteuk before his own military service. -- Mel

McRoth (0.5/5): Frightening.

Mel (3/5): Ho Ho. You get to me and expect a positive squee about SuJu, right? Sorry. Not this time. Your concept is "Sexy Free & Single", boys, and you pulled it off. A repackage single in suits with a James Bond feel? I'm IN with popcorn. And then we get "SPY" which 1) makes no sense, 2) has a weird cutesy refrain hook with Eunhae, 3) "Go Kick It In the Butt." The 007 feel kicks up, they are all gussied up in suits and I'm sitting here waiting to pass out with happy excitement but...{hides face} BBs, you are grown ass men. What the hell is this?  You've been doing this long enough to know. But really - it's a great reflection of SuJu themselves because the ELF fandom may squee over and over about how sexy they are, but in reality, it's their dorky randomness that makes them charming and doesn't "SPY" just overflow with random? Positive Outlook: the choreography is baller (well, except for the feigned guns with their hands...again...grown ass men), deepvoiced!Kyu (and Wook?) and the actual hook of "(English) I got you, little runaway" = winning. take some, you lose some? I dunno. My review is about as bipolar as this song...

Nikki (1.5/5): Dear SM, please make up your mind. And fire your entire A&R department while you're at it. PLEASE. There's only so much Super Junior mediocrity I can take in a year, and if it's confused to boot, who knows what I may be driven to do. When I first heard "SPY" I was debating on whether or not this was more confused that "Jun K"'s "Alive", and I think they're pretty much equals at this point. Like, I get that they're going for that James Bond-slash-"Hoot" sound, and that would've been perfectly fine if they saw it through, but what the hell is everything else? That first happy-happy verse is okay, and I like the melody, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the hook, and the rest of the song. And what is up with those horrid verses? "Gulliver" was bad enough, did someone over at SM think it was a good idea to keep doing it? It's not, and their voices are going to get damaged if they have to keep doing it.

Ree (1.5/5): Da fuck? As Super Junior so aptly puts it, someone "go kick it in the butt". There are some interesting parts in 'Spy' (1:43-2:00), but they're basically lost amongst the poor structure and mediocrity of the rest of the song. Between a 70s Carnival theme, tacky James Bond OST sampling, and schizophrenic structure, Spy is pretty much the epitome of 'trying too hard' but at the same time, not really trying at all. I really wish SM would stop with this Avante Garde/Experimental Pop music they're pushing out, because it is really not working.

TESTAMENTVM (5/5): All of Super Junior's lead singles since "Bonamona" have felt like mosaics. Or perhaps a better term would be collages - songs with bits of different ideas, themes, instruments, cut and pasted together into an interesting, yet not unpleasant combination. I don't know how it was decided that SuJu would become SM's experimental pop group, but I do tip my hat to the way SM is not afraid to push songs that don't sound generically catchy the way a lot of Brave Brothers' productions tend to. However, novelty for the sake of novelty is not enough, and that's ultimately why "Bonamona" failed to hook me. However, I really, really like SPY. It's one of the most creatively structured songs I've heard in a while from a Big Three label. Most of the time, they're too busy competing amongst themselves to see who can hump the latest trends in Western pop the fastest, but the way "SPY" both acknowledges and melds both the comedic and the masculine facets of Super Junior's image through its form, is incredibly ingenious, and uniquely Super Junior. I have nothing but respect for Kenzie - I think she created a unique song that couldn't have been pulled off by any other group. It's a great song - perhaps not what fans were expecting, but a very creative and catchy song.

BoA - Only One
Our Queen is back! Her "Only One" performances have been gaining a lot of attention for featuring SM idol dancers like Taemin, Eunhyuk, and my beloved Yunho. (Who needs to man up and propose already! ;D) -- Nikki

McRoth (4/5): I love this song. Screw you if you’re bored and wanted something insanely up-tempo. The fact that BoA threw the mainstream approach of treading on current trends for a comeback song and instead chose a route that felt more at home for her, wins big brownie points in my book. The song is still very her, more than the disappointing “Hurricane Venus,” and is sooo freaking pretty. “Only One” is definitely more inclined to her roots as a singer, performer, and artist.

Mel (4.2/5): I'm getting Janet Jackson feels. I said it once or twice, but I got no probs saying it again -- BoA is the Queen of KPOP and I love that she gets it. She doesn't have to do what everyone else is doing (hello, "Hurricane Venus"). She can go her own way and still rock it. I also really adore the juxtaposition of the sweet, music-box feel of the song with the harder and visually arresting choreography (That's Shim Jaewon in the glasses, right? I'm sensing it's his doing and I'm A-OK with that. ::swoon::).

Nikki (3/5): Now a lot of you know that I'm one of BoA's biggest fans (I mean COME ON, "Milky Way" is God's gift to pop music), and I do appreciate the fact that BoA went and did something I didn't expect, plus the fact that she did it well, but the song alone just bores me. Okay, the melody is gorgeous when I think really hard about it, and it's laid-lack without being completely dead, but am I the only one who is annoyed to death by that piano line? Gorgeous at the beginning, yeah, but it comes to a point where it just goes on and on and on and I just want it to go away. The dancing helps a lot, plus it gave us the chance to see that her and Yunho should totally get married make babies together, but I really can't bring myself to listen to the track alone. Believe me, I've tried.

Ree (3.5/5): Queen BoA is back and "Only One" is... okay. The choreography for it is top notch, but the actual song itself gets boring and repetitive, and it's bordering on being generic. The piano was pretty the first time, but by the second verse you're sort of just waiting for something more interesting and dynamic. It's definitely a pretty song, and it's great to see BoA going back to her roots, but it feels a lot longer than it actually is. In conclusion, "Only One" would make a good filler to an awesome title track.

TESTAMENTVM (3/5): BoA produces, everyone! And she produces nice, if a bit generic, ballads. Oh well, it's fucking BoA - who cares what the song is, she's good. Even if you're not thrilled with the song, one look at the choreography ought to shut down any further complaints, because this woman is clearly in a league of her own.

I don't think it's any surprise who this week's panel champ is, but just for formalities, it's...

With a score of 21.8!!!


Anonymous said...

no 2NE1 feedback?

kpopanda said...

2 songs I haven't heard before thanks to the review.


D-Unit - I'm Missin' You: Something that I will only listen a few times and then forget about it if it was on my IPOD. The song (as a debut song) is alright but then it seems to lack that emotion/spark that a song usually has. The song naturally flows well too but then it gets kinda repetitive. The verses are bearable while the chorus is just really plain. Same as the bridge. The only part of the song I like is the pre-chorus. Overall what I got was a bunch of scrilling, decent vocals (which I hope is good live) and 'I'm Missing You.' A decent start but can do better! (2/5)

AOA - Elvis: On know they didn't. How can a company, who is in charge with few of the talented idols in the kpop world, debut a girl group. But I got to say, they didn't do really bad. The vibe reminds me a mixture of Secret, Brown Eyed Girls and Sunny Hill. However when I look at the MV, it reminds me of G.Na's unflattering 2Hot. Vocals... hmm I'm not even sure they are singing but the chorus is really catchy. Something that a girl group must definitely have.. a catchy chorus and good hook. The song is really fun at first but then it becomes boring. (3/5)

Anonymous said...

I love you panels! thanks so much for the words over Beast's music. Group hug. :)

Anonymous said...

BoA: the only one who can dance with your bias and remain untouched by neitizens wrath.

*bows down* I'm not worthy! ;-;

But seriously, BoA is one of my role models. I love her to death. "She is a Queen and she knows it."

If Yunho doesn't marry her, then he should at least propose to Stephanie of CSJH >.<