In 2015, I was still in my slump with Kpop and therefore ended up ignoring a lot of new releases. One of them was “Beautiful Liar” by VIXX LR – a song I discovered about a year after its release. Composed by Ravi and a couple other people, I felt that I’d missed out on something awesome, and it was part of the reason I even started this blog in the first place. After all, it sucks when a good song comes out and you’re not in on it by the time of its release, but here we are in 2017 trying to change things.
The funny part was that late in 2016 Jellyfish Entertainment released teasers for a new project they’d be doing with the members. I waited in anticipation like just about everyone else, and then I found out that Ravi was going to be having a solo debut. It’s a strange choice, as I never pinned Ravi as a solo act. Sure, he has composing credits on “Beautiful Liar,” but most would agree he’s a terrible rapper. His voice sounds guttural and forced, and his flow goes from decent to virtually non-existent depending on the song. In fact, I felt that his best rap was in “Beautiful Liar” because he was forced to rap slower (and therefore bearable), and for the most part his stuff can be tolerable in VIXX because his breaks are so short they can’t get annoying.
So upon hearing the news of his solo debut, I thought to myself, “This could go one of two ways.” One: he could take some of the shit he used for “Beautiful Liar,” make his own spin on it, and produce something awesome. The other is this could turn into one of the worst things produced this year.
Unfortunately, it was the latter.
Just about everything Ravi could have done wrong went wrong with this debut, and it shows within the first two seconds on the song. The minute we hear the “Whoooooo” and Ravi open his mouth, I knew this would be a GDragon swag-fest real fast. Next thing I know, we’re launched into a repetitive chorus of “Bomb N Bomb, feel this energy,” that sounds loud and bombastic to the point it’s almost grating to the ears. Not to mention that Ravi singing without any help from Leo is always gonna sound like a mess.
The rap verses continue loud and bombastic trend, except it’s all Ravi talking about how awesome he is and how he “started from the bottom” and he’s “Justin Bieber,” (who, by the way, is a Canadian singer). It’s one of the weirdest rap verses I’ve heard, but before I can even process that we’re back to that terrible bombastic chorus about bombs and shit.
In fact, the only real reprieve we get from this yolo-swag thing is San E, and including him in here is a big mistake. Sure, I guess it could give him some credit because from what I understand San E is a well-respected rapper in Korea. The mistake is the fact San E is so much better than him in the rap department. His flow is sick, he has some interesting lyrics to rap, and the beat he uses is much better than anything that Ravi puts out for his own verses. It’s always funny to me when this happens in any musical medium because the point of having a feature rapper is to include something else in the mix, but not let him be the only damn thing in the mix that’s good.
The music video is a totally different animal because it’s what got Ravi’s solo noticed (and not in a good way). You see, this music video has a lot of controversy surrounding it much in the same way MAMAMOO suffered late last year with “Decalcomanie.” But to put it into words, there was a point in the video where Ravi paints a nude torso of a woman in his art studio. Then, there’s a dozen or so other shots of Ravi interacting with a group of women clad in bikinis (or a bra and panties if that was how you interpreted it) by touching their shoulders and looking at them the same way that weird guy in high school looks at someone attractive.
Add the Internet, and you’re basically in a minefield of controversy.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison I found on Youtube, but basically what happened was a lot of feminists called this “objectification of women” (which, to be fair, is pretty reasonable). However, I would like to point out Ravi is objectified a lot in this video as well. He’s shirtless in some way in almost every shot (save for a few where he’s in an all-black outfit and those weird baseball caps that have braids all over it) and he’s tattooed up the wazoo. As much as women are objectified here, Ravi is objectified as well. Look at some boy group music videos for long enough and you’ll notice some guys dancing without a shirt, taking off their shirts, flashing their abs, grabbing their crotch etc. That isn’t to say that people aren’t justified in their claims about objectification of women, but I merely want to point out that it isn’t just the women here, and the question of objectification needs to be addressed for both genders.
But anyway, something I just thought about was how Ravi was tattooed in “Beautiful Liar,” and I wonder if this video is supposed to be a weird continuation of “where did Leo’s bad side go after he strangled it?” The answer is that it went back to its dark place, went mad, and then started creating loud, bombastic music with disappointing rapping and a controversial music video to boot. It feels like the sequel that never should have happened but did for public appeal.
And yet…it’s enjoyable in the same way much of GDragon’s stuff is. You know it’s bad, and you hate that it’s going through your head, and yet all you can hear is the “click clack click clack bomb bang and pow yawk.”
However, if you can’t enjoy this for any reason whatsoever (and I can’t blame you if you can’t), I recommend “Beautiful Liar” as an alternative. Unlike “Bomb,” it didn’t bomb. In fact, it’s quite beautiful. The rap and singing bits are juxtaposed together in a way that flows in and out of each other, Leo is amazing as a singer, and the music video is one of the best I’ve ever seen come out of Kpop in ages. Hopefully Ravi and Jellyfish Entertainment will learn their lesson from this, and instead announced that VIXX LR is having a comeback to make something truly awesome (without the swag).