First off I had erroneously claimed that Crush was just debuting. I was in fact wrong. He has been active since 2013, as well as putting out a single over the last few months.
With that being said, this is definitely my favorite album as of now. I love R&b, and I have been beefing with K Pop’s usage of the genre because it comes off as very bland in my opinion. People loved Exo’s Moonlight, however I thought 2007 when I heard it, and then I read the lyrics and was just incredibly turned off.
As I have said before R&B in K Pop is just like it is in the West (with some slight difference), where it exist as a genre, however to find acts in the realm of K Pop, especially idol pop is very hard to do. Any musical act that does not follow the idol way tend to be rarer and usually do a specific genre. We have seen this with Pop-R&B duo 15&, YG’s new hit Akdong Musician, upcoming ladies Megan Lee and Yuna Kim (one who gives you more Taylor Swift, the other a lady MC).
Ultimately two of these acts have the backing of well known, and influential companies behind them, however they all exist within a world that they are essentially outcast in. K Pop is dominated by the Idol trend, and that means if you don’t follow it, you may or may not be a success, but you will most surely be outnumbered.
Crush comes in as one of the few R&B acts who dares go against the grain (this is so extra and exaggerated, but it makes for a good write so bear with me). So to get back on the point, Crush On You had me instantly musically, and I saw very few issues, with one that really stood out, and will be discussed.
With that being said, let’s get into this album.
I Fancy You
When I heard this song, I knew I was here for it. I think taking it slow in the beginning, you really need to give it hard. A lot of people think with ballads and slower songs you need to have the intensity of a satin pillow. With R&B that is usually the opposite, and that applies to I Fancy You. The song is nothing major really, it is just about how into a girl he is. How when they met, Crush was just so into her. While he put effort into the song itself, the overall song was very chill. The beat is very simple R&B. Most of the sounds are very studio made, instead of the standard R&B we hear where we have the overused string section in the back. Here we get the machines work, and that allows for a sexier, mature sound. The only time we hear something that sounds like an instrument is near the end with the piano. What I will say is that this song goes no where really, sans the flimsy falsetto moment…but we won’t talk about that…till later. It is one of those tracks you can hear on an album, but not as a single, and does not leave an impression. However after listening to the album, I could not imagine another song starting the album in all honesty. I think what saved this song is the fact that it is followed by a more confident and dynamic song.
A Little Bit (ft Lydia Paek)
I am going to come out and say it. I did not know who Lydia Paek was until I listened to this song. I have heard of her of course. I follow 2ne1, and she has been brought up a few times there. Overall though, I did not know, or cared to know who she was. However I regret that after listening to A Little Bit. This song right here is overall sickening. The xylophone in the back, the 808, the little sound in the back…they come together wonderfully. I found myself just grooving, and doing a little move listening to this. It’s obviously standard R&B that you would hear from the states (if you watch 106&Park, you know exactly what I am talking about). The beat is very sexy, which is fitting, because this is a song about getting sexy. By that, he want sot get intimately closer to his partner, and is doing his best. Talking about how grown he is, and that she can get closer…His falsetto is sweeter here, compared to I Fancy You, and is more sensual overall. Now Lydia…in her little part she killed it. I don’t know if R&B is her preferred style, but it definitely works for her. Her voice was sweeter, yet had the conviction. Slay a bit girl. Overall two songs in and I didn’t regret my decision in listening to this album. The third song really helped reinforce this.
Hey Baby (ft Zion T)
Look if I wasn’t sold with A Little Bit, Hey Baby did the gotdamn job. First off let’s get into this Micheal Jackson Black and White sample that lives on the second verse. I don’t know if they got permission to do that or not, but I will be damned if I am not going to live for it. Musically it strays so far away from the first two songs, and that is a good thing. We go from two more current R&B songs, to a song that is basically 1993. More specifically we are getting the ode to New Jack Swing (a popular subgenre of R&B in the late 80’s early 90’s). Then we get to Zion T, and we are in some Michael Jackson and I…YES LORD. I sincerely hope they got permission to use any samples that have touched this album. What I love is the fact that Zion’s voice is strangely appealing, and uses that to mimic Michael Jackson’s preferred styling.
Whatever You Do
This song just takes whatever hype that Hey Baby created, and pulled it on stop. We get the less aggressive follow up in this sweet R&B number. It’s such a sweet number. The use of strings finally make an appearance and they are just…sweet. They are bright, and contrast the very simple drum and high hat. There is nothing threatening about this song, and the lyrics express this. We get such a sappy but well done love song. When listening to this, I was getting some Musiq Soulchild-esque in sound. Like that 2000’s brand of Neo-soul that never really caught on, but was still hot in this genre. The rap was short and Gray did a great job.
Annoying ft Kumapark
When I got a taste of this song…I thought late 90’s early 2000’s neo-soul Maxwell. The beat just gives me that vibe. Very jazzy, smooth, but very modern (or recent) in energy. I would have thought this was a very chill party type song, but instead we get a scathing break up…in falsetto. I like the idea of it, and had I not looked up the lyrics, I would have been 100% here for this. But the content of the song does not do this beat service. Still without even knowing what was said…I like it.
Beautiful You ft Choiza
This is such a perverted and sweet song all at the same time. I don’t even know. Like Choiza made a comment about let me be your straw in your lemonade which I am sure means a lot more than what I think it is. But then not even a bar later, comes and says your eyes are beautiful let me swim in them. The beat is very bright, very old school (like I want to say Stevie Wonder), and I just go with it. Crush vocally is nice, especially near the end with that falsetto. I appreciate his voice at times.
This song…How I want to love this fucking song. Like the intro alone…and then that beat…sick. And Crush sounds great. My issue is that they didn’t think that was enough. Just before the chorus…you know what I am talking about. That sound in the background just disrupts the entire flow. And from there on…the song is just a mash of things that don’t work, and don’t last enough to try and marry. Like the most consistent thing in the song comes at the end… It’s a lot and it makes me mad because you can hear at it’s core there is a sick ass beat. Crush sounds his best on this song, his voice loses that overall slight grating feel to it, and is more palpable. And the lyrics! Bitch let me tell you this song could have been life if it was not for the damn beat.
Hug Me ft Gaeko
Eh…the only thing about this song that I want to talk about is that I was honestly expecting a My Boo sample with how it started. It’s my least favorite song off the album (even when taking into account of Want). Rather plain song when listening to the album, but definitely the most public friendly for K Pop (a genre targeting children for the most part. Gaeko came a little too hard on the record. Like a smoother approach would have definitely done good for the song, but eh. On the album it works as a gateway to the next song.
Give It To Me ft Jay Park, and Simon D.
The beat is ordinary, but I liked it. Remember that grating quality to Crush’s voice I talked about earlier…it’s in this song. This is an issue I will bring up later, but for now, just know…Jay Park slayed this song. Jay sounds like a full fleshed freak, and his verse sounded smooth (nasally) and moist. I can’t think of another word to describe it. He sound nasty. Like I could sit here and give you a list of things I truly believe Jay Park is not above doing in bed, and this verse really says it all. Plus he gave us a math lesson…so…yay. THE NUTELLA REFERENCE IS THE REALEST REASON TO GET YOUR BIBLE. This is an aspiring freak anthem and I am happy. For the little Korean children that listened to this album…I’m praying for you.
Friday ft Jimbo
After Give It To Me…we all need to take a moment to go find Jesus. Friday is a very nice departure after that debauchery. There is still a very sexual vibe to it, but at a very low temp, it is hardly noticeable. The beat is very chill, giving me Maxwell flavors circa Now flavors. It’s a very relaxing song, and I enjoyed it. The harmonies were lovely, the beat consistently on point. I don’t know who Jimbo is, but good job bruh.
Maintaining the very smooth relaxed vibe created with Friday, we hit the final song. Sometimes is very chill and beautiful. It’s the ritual post break up song, that you see on a lot of male R&B albums. I think the beat could have gone for a more brighter topic song, but this isn’t bad. The strings are beautiful, the keys are smooth, the drum keeps it going. The beat I think is one of my favorites. It’s just overall a well done song. Crush could have gave a softer delivery, but his harmonies and arrangements in the background are just beautiful. As stated before an overall well done song. My only issue is that since this song is the final song, I wish it had ended with a more resolute feel. It just tapers off, when it could have gone like 10-20 seconds of strings, and then end with the keys. Something to give this album that final snap.
Crush On You really lives up to it’s name…and then some. Like first off, it is actually R&B. Like a full album by a modern artist that sings R&B. Of course there are Korean R&B singers, but none getting the traction Crush has gotten. Also this album does not just give you a monolith sound, it gives you some old school (of various eras), gives you some darker sounds, gives you brighter, more vibrant sounds. It does not stay within one mold. I appreciate that on so many levels. I loved that this album actually made a diverse attempt at R&B.
Tracklist wise, I don’t hate it. Honestly I think it works the way it is…If I would change something for the sake of it, it would have to be the order of Whatever You Do, Annoying, and Beautiful You. But they also work right where they are though.
The biggest issue I think I had, and it only was a problem while reviewing this album, was Crush himself. I think he has a lovely voice. I think he had good moments. However at times he felt stuck vocally. Like at times it should have been much softer vocally, and he was always intense. He is also a bit throaty, which can take away from the beauty of his voice. Also when singing with other singers, I found his voice rather boring, and he would get upstaged. Lydia and Zion T. stole the show on their respective songs. Like I was feeling it, and then I heard them, and I was like oh…maybe it has something to do with them being more experienced in their craft (I don’t know how long Crush has been singing or working on his music overall period). Still Crush himself delivered overall, I just want a more focused and polished delivery next time.
Overall, I think the album was well made. Even if there are some issues…I don’t find it bad in the slightest. Right now, this is my favorite record of 2014 in K pop, as well as being one of my favorites for all of 2014. Crush did the damn thing, and got a good line up to help out.
Hopefully his next record will only show improvements.