Songs I Missed #3: SHINee, MAMAMOO, BLACK PINK, and more

uh-hey-guys

Uh…hey guys.

So…you may have noticed I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks.

And…well…I’ve really got no excuse to give you other than I have a bad time keeping up with comebacks and debuts along with all my other responsibilities and entanglements in real life.

            But I’m back now, and I’m reviewing a large amount of Kpop comebacks to a) get me back in the loop, and b) so I can give my opinion on these comebacks. That means this post is gonna be pretty video-heavy, so bear that in mind as you read.

And now, without further adieu, the comebacks I missed:

VIXX – The Closer (October 30th, 2016)

I meant to do a full-length review on this one, but I was having such a hard time getting the screenshots for this that I wanted to comment how impossible this video made it.

Standing as their final song in the CONCEPTION trilogy about Greek gods, this one is supposed to be about Kratos, the god of domination and power (so…it invites a song about being a dom in a BDSM relationship).

Out of all their songs, this is probably the one I like the best. There’s something about the voice patterns in this video and the overall-seductive nature of the song “Dynamite” and “Fantasy” just didn’t have.

But man, this video makes no sense. We get a lot of shots of the members as wax figures in different poses, but even I had a hard time trying to make sense of it all within the context of the song. It feels a lot like a mannequin challenge that badly told its story, and it’s just too bad. This video should have been way better considering this was the last of the trilogy. Instead of a “bang!” we got a “meh,” and that just doesn’t sit well with me.

Berry Good – Don’t Believe (October 31st, 2016)

I’ve been following this group ever since the debut, “Love Letter” (which I loved). Yet after a big member change, they have yet to dazzle me again with their stuff. Their latest comeback is a nice but forgettable track about the threat of breakup complete with possible lesbian themes and a blatant Tumblr aesthetic concept that’s easy on the eyes. It floats somewhere between “blegh” and “decent,” which is not how I want to walk away from a Kpop comeback. As I’ve said before, I’d rather feel something strong about the comeback than not, and this just doesn’t do it for me. I almost hope Berry Good disbands soon because they just feel like a ship slowly sinking, but maybe they’ll dazzle me next time. Until then, I’ll be listening to “Love Letter” and blubber about what could have been.

BLACKPINK – Playing with Fire (October 31st, 2016)

A few months after their debut, BLACKPINK are back with two more singles. While they’re not gaining as much momentum as they did with their debut, these two new singles are toning down the YG swag and instead letting the girls come into their own.

As I did during their debut, I loved their “black” concept, “Playing With Fire” than their “pink” one. However, unlike “Boombayah,” this has more replayability to it because it knows exactly what it is – a pop song in the purest sense. All of the girls stand out in this comeback, although Jennie is the biggest surprise because she’s been stripped of her rapping role and instead plays sub=vocalist – a side that brings a different color to the group as a whole.

The video itself is an aesthetically pleasing video that tells the simple story of all four of the members falling in love with a guy. It fits the song very well, and this comeback is a good contender for one of my favorite comebacks this year.

BLACKPINK – Stay (October 31st, 2016)

As I usually play in the minority part of Kpop when it comes to my opinions on it, I was surprised to hear that people liked this song more than “Playing With Fire.” The “pink” concept for the comeback, it does have a lot to like. It’s a midtempo track with acoustic guitar and harmonica playing key roles in the instrumental – perfect for the campfire as fall goes into winter. Its mishmash of folk, rap, and pop that shouldn’t go together well, and yet it does. It’s a sound that shows a softer side to the members that the “black” concept just doesn’t fulfill. Also, the video plays on the aesthetic side of Tumblr as well, but does it better than Berry Good. So props to you, Black Pink.

Taeyeon – 11:11 (November 1st, 2016)

A song about being heartbroken from a breakup, this is actually my favorite track Taeyeon has come out with as a solo artist. She sounds like an angel acoustic guitar/piano instrumental, and it plays to her strengths without doing so much “showing off of her voice” as some Kpop tracks do. It also has some momentum to it instead of being slow and sad like many Kpop ballads do. It does justice for Taeyeon’s voice in a way her previous comebacks just haven’t.

Not to mention the video is so pretty with the colors and the transitions in setting. It’s so seamlessly done and the colors are calming while also making the listener feel like there’s a draft in the room. It’s just so beautiful and I love it so much.

B.A.P.– Skydive (November 6th, 2016)

B.A.P. came out of the woodwork in 2012 and ever since have set a bar for hip-hop boy groups ever since. For some reason, they fell of my radar sometime after “One Shot” and their scandal with their company, TS Entertainment, and I’m still kicking myself wondering why that is.

It’s great to see them back in the game and better than ever. The song itself is epic as hell, and the 10-minute long video takes the trend of “members are criminals and when one of their girls gets kidnapped, they’re out for blood,” and make it more violent. In fact, it’s surprising how much violence is in this comeback, especially for Kpop standards. I’m surprised it was able to pass with a rating of “15 and older” when I’ve seen videos do less and get rated “19 and older.”

Needless to say this will be one of those comebacks I’m sad I didn’t do a full review of.

BTOB – I’ll Be Your Man (November 6th, 2016)

BTOB is one of those 2012 debut groups that I never paid attention to. As far as I know they’ve been stuck in perpetual rookie status since then, which is strange since it seems they’ve got a good fanbase.

Considering this is my re-introduction to them, this video didn’t do much in the way of making me like them. As the trend with boy groups these days, there’s this drama and violence within the video that turns me off because of how – false it is? One of the things I like about dramatic comebacks is it can connect you to the group because you see them go through stuff and you feel sorry for them – and I just don’t here. In fact, the whole thing feels like a mishmash of different images but with nothing coherent to it.

On the bright side, though, this song is solid and surprising considering how much I haven’t been paying attention. It plays to the drama in a way the video doesn’t – a saving grace to what otherwise would have been disappointing overall. It’s got this rock feel to it that brings me back to my roots in musical taste. I just wish the video would have been more clear so I could have enjoyed it better than I did.

Hyolyn – Paradise (November 7th, 2016)

I could only think of one real word to explain my feelings about this entire comeback, and it was this: ughhhhhhwhyomgwhyisthisathinghelpmewahhhhh.

Okay. The problems I have with this comeback goes as follows: the song goes nowhere. It’s one of those songs that you forget about shortly after hearing it because it had no impact to it. In fact, it’s my problem with a lot of Sistar’s music as a whole, and this song by Hyolyn only feels like an extension of that. The song overall feels like a HyunA knockoff, but I think even HyunA could have pulled off this comeback better than Hyolyn did. She has that innate sense of charisma that makes her sexy vixen persona believable – and Hyolyn doesn’t have it. Watching her try to be sexy here feel like your innocent best friend trying to play HyunA but not having the charisma to back it up.

It just feels awkward and forgettable and I don’t like it. Next!

MAMAMOO – Decolcomanie (November 7th, 2016)

This entire comeback is embroiled in controversy. When I first saw this video, I have to admit that I had bad feelings about Solar’s scene in the elevator because of how she was struggling. Thankfully the company changed the video and took out those shots, but it doesn’t change the bad taste in my mouth. You can look at the original here.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one. Much of the Kpop community has been decrying this portrayal of romantic violence as something unacceptable. To make a video that portrays this as something accepted and even wanted is much of the same reason Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey was controversial by the literary community. To portray this as something romantic dismisses the reality of the problem and it’s something I wish their company would address head-on instead of avoid by editing out the bad shots.

It’s a shame because this video had a lot going for it. It’s beautifully shot, and I love the way they put the concept together in symbolic senses (the mirror scenes, the smoke scene towards the end). Even the song is better than most of the stuff I’ve watched from them. It’s way better than their pre-release, “New York,” a few months ago, which I commented that it was good but I wanted more from their main release. I guess you could say I got that – just in ways I didn’t expect.

T-ara – Ti Amo (November 8th, 2016)

T-ara is the first in the Christmas rush in their native country with “Ti Amo,” a sweet song about falling in love and “secret passwords.” Ever since their bullying scandal in 2012, T-ara have been struggling in Korea, but have luckily found success elsewhere. The only problem is that lately their Kpop songs have been taking a strange downturn. I didn’t like “So Crazy” much last year, but at least they redeemed themselves in “Ti Amo,” even if it’s not gonna top the charts in Korea. On top of that, the video is easy on the eyes for a change (since T-ara’s videos have a habit of being unwatchable with their epileptic changes in shots – I’m looking at you “Sugar Free” and “Day by Day”). The Christmas concept is pretty obvious in their use of presents, red and white outfits, Christmas trees, and snow, but it’s a beautiful one to look at. It’s nothing compared to their older disco-inspired tracks or melancholy ballads, but I’ll take this song over Christmas carols any day of the week.

ASTRO – Confession (November 8th, 2016)

ASTRO is one of my favorite new boy groups in Kpop after “Breathless” over the summer. Their energy is wonderful and their music is great, and this trend continues with their newest song. It’s a cute track about confessing love to a girl who has a crush on someone else – somewhere in the same vein as “Be Mine” by INFINITE but without the drama and danger. It follows in their previous single’s lead, but without all the funny parts, and it just makes me happy (even when the video plays on the stereotype that “nice guys finish last”).

Momoland – Jjan! Koong! Kwang! (November 9th, 2016)

A newly debuted group, Momoland joins in the fray of new acts in Kpop. With so many debuting groups, it’s imperative that they stand out in the crowd. Unfortunately, this song didn’t grab my attention as much as I would have liked. It’s a weird mish-mash of different ideas that doesn’t work very well, but the chorus is great and the song at the very least advertises Momoland as a wacky but fun band in the future. The music video, like HIGHTEEN before it, seems pretty high-budget with the CGI panda, animation, and abundance of set and clothing changes. They’ll have to come out with something else before I can decide that they’re a group to watch out for, but for now I’ll be looking forward to their next release.

SHINee – Tell Me What to Do (November 15th, 2016)

Just over a month after the release of “1 of 1,” SHINee are back again with a repackage album and a new single. You may recall in my “1 of 1” review that it wasn’t my cup of tea, so I had high hopes after watching the teasers. My verdict?

This is much more to my taste. I have a great liking for the dramatic, and this one does the drama very well. While it continues the trend of this one girl being desired by a group of guys, friends with a group of guys, or even involved as a friend group, this portrays a conflict in a friend group because of the girl in question. This is the first time I recall SHINee as a group doing something this dramatic (Taemin did a video similar to this in his solo, “Press Your Number,” which remains one of my favorite tracks this year), and I love it. While the video is meant to make Minho and Taemin the main characters, I paid attention to Jonghyun’s solo parts the most. There’s a sense of emotion in both his voice and facial expressions here that the other members don’t have, which is interesting because Jonghyun isn’t even the member I like the most. Maybe this has more to do with this song being more his territory than any of the other members, but either way he does it well and I like him for it.

 

And that’s it from me. What has your favorite comeback been of the ones above? Which ones didn’t you like? Leave a comment below to let me know, and I will see you guys next time!

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s