f(x)’s first performances of 4 Walls convinced me

If there was any lingering doubt about this song, f(x)’s comeback performances of their latest single surely stomped them out.

Typically the performance of a song is rather meh to me. This is going to sound very odd, but they typically don’t add a lot to me. I watch the performances of my faves and move on, but there are not many performances from idols, especially K Pop related ones that stick…

This is especially true for f(x), who have kind of just been on the weaker side since…NU ABO (which was their most exciting era). Ever since their performance value has been very restrictive. The only thing I can say is their devotion to hand movements over the last three eras. I actually really like the consistency in that. They rely heavily on choreo based around their hands, so a lot of their movements are not as big and showy. Which can be great, as seen with 4 Walls (I’m going to gush about 4 Walls in a second let me get these thoughts out). With songs like RPPP and Red Light, they may not lend themselves to the hand waves that well. RPPP could, but as seen with the end results, the dance was clunky and all over the place. Red Light was far too big of a song for smaller, restrictive, albeit precise looking hand forms. The choreographers really got it right with this one. I love this, just watching them move and slink around, and then the four walls dance (as I’m calling it), just works well with the song and chorus. Everything fits with the songs low-high energy level.

There is also fact we didn’t get to see any of the choreography in the music video, so this being the first time, without the interruptions of random cutaways to them in forest is definitely helping the situation. Overall I can’t say I am upset by this comeback. I have yet to listen to the album, but so far what I am hearing might put a damper on things.

Anyway let’s just enjoy Luna this comeback.

Also here is Diamond (Which knocks)

Sources: MNET (4 Walls), Myles Hoya (Diamond)

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IU’s Twenty-Three revels in IU’s own identity crisis

IU and I exist in this strange place. She exist, and I don’t care about her. Of course though, she is fun to watch. She is moving away from the idol restraints, but still, by all pretense and purposes, is a pop star. She remains a part of the public awareness, but as time moves on, not under the idol label. It’s interesting.

 

Twenty-Three relies heavily on the assumption that one must experience the entirety of it whole. The song, the video, the lyrics…I had to consume this completely in order to appreciate it. The song’s strengths are in it’s lyrics, and the video. The song itself…it could be better.

Ultimately as a listener, I have never quite gotten the appeal of IU. I think she is cute and all, but as a very casual listener, I found her to not be a thrilling singer. When listening to her, I barely registered her, instead focusing the music itself, which reminds me heavily of another song (the funky fun vibe, with the strings in the background).Ultimately I lose an important part of the song (the lyrical meaning) when I can’t focus on what is being sung.

The song itself is about the duality of growing the fuck up, and how one is perceived (aka your identity). For IU…this is kind of a on the nose subject because her entire image had been all but shattered after her little…incident, and not only the rebuilding, but the thriving on an entirely new level. Like I said, I am an extremely casual listener of IU, but the way she has gone about her career seems to be like she is moving as far beyond where she started as possible. She no longer is nations little sister, so pure and sweet, but an extreme conscious female pop star.

The lyrics, even in translation are really good. Once again the whole idea of what being an adult is addressed. And to be frank…it’s a mess.

*Note I am not a Korean speaker so this is all nebulous anyway*

The video having a lot of Alice In Wonderland imagery seems little . Two very prominent themes in Alice In Wonderland is growing up and identity, both of which are the sole points of Twenty-Three. Instead of IU being a child, she is an adult and is very aware of it. Yet she doesn’t completely feel she is there just yet, and wonders if she is able to turn back. This is lamented throughout the song, but most notably when she talks about how she wants to be a baby forever, but then goes on to say her desire to be a “moist” woman (in the video she drops her innocent looks and dumps milk onto the head of a raggedy barbie doll). Unlike Alice who is a child in the word of bewildered adults and customs, IU seems more aware of her surroundings and embraces them. She is embracing, her adulthood. The question is how though.

The second theme of identity is discussed in the way of how others perceive her. Through sunglasses is a comment used in the chorus, and in the video she has a moment that features her “smoking” when actually she is holding a party blower. This idea plays a lot on the adult vs child part. IU  can be an adult, but how will she define it?

The fact that I wrote all of this, based off of a video shows how interesting Twenty-Three as a whole is. While I might not care for IU as a singer, to watch her tackle her own identity (through both her eyes and the eyes of the viewer), and her own adulthood (not just the concept itself, but her’s and how it relates to her) was more than worth it. The video is well crafted, the beat funky, and the lyrics are great. IU won this one in the long run.

f(x) become the alternative pop girls with 4 Walls

f(x) has returned testing the waters as a foursome with their new sound in 4 Walls.

I don’t think I am disappointed, but I was definitely not 100% here for this song when it came out. I actually had to take a day to think about it, and ultimately forgot about it yesterday. Today, I listen to 4 Walls, and actually appreciate it more.

4 Walls is the song I had been waiting for from f(x) ever since they started the whole art heaux image (which goes as far back as NU ABO). The impression that SM was teetering with was the fact that f(x) are alternative idols. You don’t want the same predictable dance and bright pop sound? Come to f(x)…despite it just being the packaging that was different. With each release post Nu ABO, their sound has progressively gotten more varied yet focused at the same time. By the time they hit their second full album, Pink Tape, f(x) had gained the image of being artsy…it just never truly translated into their music completely. Red Light remedied that, playing with more aggressive less K pop oriented sounds. 4 Walls, the song, seems to cement this with sparse and less animated but still bright sound.

The song is a mix of restraint over a vibe inducing beat. There are a lot of fun harmonies happening, but they only add to the sweet atmosphere. I think it is a safe thing to say that the song does not strive for dynamic or exciting. I like it where it actually is. I can still dance to this of course, but I can also sit back and listen to it. The song does pick up at the end in a way to bring some life to it, but overall that feels like the responsibility of the production and not the group. In fact I find that f(x) seems to take a back seat in the song for the most part. Sure we hear their voices, and the chorus is them. But there are moments in the song where the four of them just melt in with the music a little too well, to the point where they take a backseat.

This is more or less a consistent complaint I have with the group. Regardless of vocal prowess, a group that comes off passive on their songs is a group that can be hard to comprehend.

I get f(x), and I can see what they try for…but the execution on their end can be hard to digest…because sometimes it is not a lot. That’s what made Red Light something. The group gave a good performance with edge to it. It fit the song. Without even having to look at the lyrics I could hear aggression, some force. When it comes to 4 Walls, I get the feeling that the passive floating quality (that they usually have musically) was intentional. The problem comes when they lose focus musically, and in turn just disappear.

The music video fits the nu-art heaux aesthetic that f(x) have been peddling for the last few years. Thankfully, this time SM dedicates the group to it fully. The music video is some tumblr aesthetic dream, and probably has been gifed to death. While I think it is a very pretty video, I found myself wondering what was truly the point? I mean, yeah they are pretty, the instagram approved filters they used were pretty, the scenery and overall imagery was pretty…but the video does not make sense. In fact, I would dare say the video is kind of distracting.

Overall, I can’t say I am disappointed, but I do think the song’s overall lack of excitement and restraint confused me. I didn’t know where I stood with the song, but almost kind of not liking it. While I do think there are points where the song doesn’t work, specifically when it comes to f(x) themselves, I actually like this.

And yes I completely ignored the similarities between 4 Walls and View.

Source: SMTOWN Youtube

 

Twice is off to a decent start with Ooh Ahh

So the build up for TWICE has been on going and the hype is real. So the time has finally come for the group to debut with their debut single Ooh Ahh.

When the instrumental teaser came out, it was unfortunately a stark difference between what was already given in the Music video teasers. This left me with some trepidation. The transitions in the song did not really…well there was a lot going on. The song is very reminiscent of the year 2013 where transitions and changes in the beat was all the rave. While there are elements in all of them, the song does come off like a clusterfuck to give the girls something to work with, while the chorus was essentially the only part that wasn’t altered.

That being said, I liked it. What really saves this song is TWICE themselves. While I liked the song, I could see myself growing tired of this in a week or two. TWICE is essentially why I haven’t fully said something completely negative. The song isn’t bad, but it is muddled and while trying to give everyone their shot, it ultimately remains with little to no rhyme or reason (essentially it’s comparable to a Red Velvet release, only SM knew not to go beyond five members). The only cohesive part is the chorus, which is cute.

The video plays off the of what everone wanted to see…TWICE. They have two different outfits (all school themed), each giving them a character to work with (while also beginning branding their personalities). Really the only one that didn’t get much love was Jungyeon, who was regulated to a section in the chorus, but inbetween the stronger and more screen blessed Nayeon and Jihyo. I am also suprised at how little Tzuyu was shown. Once again, nine girls is not a small number and it can be a little taxing to have to juggle them all. But I would have thought focus would be put on the most popular girls. Instead it was rather even with MoMo getting a slight edge because of her dance break.

The MVP’s of this video has to be Jihyo, Sana and MoMo. While the entire group did their thing, these were essentially my favorite girls.

Overall Jihyo was way more present than I thought she would be (a bigger group, was not as popular as other members, and JYP tends to regulate main vocalist to the chorus), but she was in that song a lot. 10 years of training might turn into 10 years of favoritism.  Which I am not complaining about because she was one of my favorites.

JihyoOA

MoMo has never been my favorite (she as a dancer has never really…appealed to me and the dances she did choose to do were okay at best), but her dance portion was a highlight of the song and video. I do wish they handled her blonde hair better. Some bundles and a darker shade of blonde (like a honey colored) would help. Still she came off grown and powerful throughout the video, and I might end up changing my opinion on her after this promo round.

MoMoOA

Sana is one of the weakest members from a musical standpoint, but pretty much excels as a personality. In fact she was the true fun of this video. While a lot of the girls played up being tough and smirking. Sana was the class clown, bubbly cheerleader combo. Her defining moment is the contrast she plays to both MoMo and Mina (both skilled dancers who are more mature in image), where she tries to be flexible and fails. It works and gives the video some much needed humor.

 

 

SanaOA

Overall the video was fun, but felt drier than I anticipated. It essentially was the girls dancing around a broken down school in the middle of a zombie apocolypse. That sounds great in theory, but once you take into account that there is nine of them (I cannot stress this enough), with the need to showcase all of them, and their parts musically in the frame of a four to five minute song…eh…Yeah the video is standard, but it is cute enough.

And Sana makes it better.

Sana1 Sana2

Anyway this was a decent enough start. Songwise, I don’t know. I like it enough, but do I like it because of TWICE, or because the actual song? I actually think it isn’t bad, but is a bit cluttered and musically loses direction. The most interesting part was the beginning with the flute. I do think TWICE handled the song really well, and the distribution was much better than I had expected. The video was pretty standard, but…I like TWICE so I let it pass. Bias is showing…and I am okay with that.

I’m placing bets on an early return (February at the latest), so in the meantime let’s enjoy the group’s debut.

Sources: jypentertainment Youtube, gifs are mine

Xia Junsu’s Yesterday is a sad sad sad ass song-video combination

Junsu is doing his best getting as much done before he will inevitably have to enter the Army. He started the year with a grand comeback in Flower (I still don’t understand the video but that’s just me), and then toured, musicals, and making money off of non music endeavors. With 2015 coming to an end, Junsu has come back one more time with the somber ballad Yesterday.

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A long and extensive TWICE teaser post

So in Five days, JYPE will officially debut their latest group, the reality show made girl group, TWICE. As such they have begun their promo train, releasing teasers for their nearing debut. I had promised to do a teaser post for them, and with all their individual teasers released, I think it is time to bring it all together!

TWICE group shot
TWICE Group Shot

First off there was a schedule released:

Twice promo schedule teaser

Then came their tracklist:

TWICE-Tracklist

A lot of these songs we have heard before: Truth, Do It Again, and Must Be Crazy. I personally have grown to like them, yet am thankful none of them are the single.

We have gone through most of the teasers already.

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Also there is their video teasers which hint at a lot of things going on.

This is all ten teasers, from their individual videos (and zombie companions) to their most recent release from today that shows them dancing in front of a broken down carny bus.

We still have six days left of teasers and I am kind of excited. Hopefully they release another one at noon (KST, 11 pm over where I’m at).

To finish off this post I want to do a little thing where I guess their positions!

Nayeon: Main/Lead Vocalist, Face of the group

Jungyeon: Lead Vocalist

MoMo: Main Dancer, Lead Vocalist, Lead Rapper

Sana: Vocalist, Lead Dancer, Rapper

Jihyo: Leader (confirmed), Main Vocalist

Mina: Lead/Main Dancer, Vocalist

Dahyun: Lead Rapper, Vocalist

Chaeyoung: Main Rapper, Vocalist

Tzuyu: Visual, Vocalist

I generally tend to leave certain roles out because eh. But…might as well get into the K Pop spirit. TWICE seems like their debut is going to go well. The biggest thing is their song being likable by the public. While we can try to look at typical patterns, sometimes that one off song can come in and win. We don’t have enough to worry about it. From my end, I just want to like it. If I like it, I will support them (they already got me in their corner with three of their songs anyway).

TWICE makes their official debut October 20.


 

Sources: TWICE official Facebook page, jypentertainment Youtube 

 

 

The first teaser for TWICE has dropped

After several months since their creation, JYPE has dropped the first teaser for their upcoming girl group TWICE.

TWICETEASER

The teaser image is giving me a lot. I am getting 80’s tween novel cover (think Baby sitters club, or Sweet Valley High). There is something mysterious about the cover, we don’t see their faces, only the slight changes to some hair (I can see Jungyeon though). Also I am getting some slight…horror/supernatural vibes. I don’t want to assume they are going there with them releasing something so late in October (And subsequently close to Halloween). It doesn’t help with the only color chosen being red. And the black on red makes me think of something serious.

Anyway, this is a cute teaser, that has me excited. With nine members and two weeks, I wonder how they will distribute the teasers. We will find out, and I may just do a teaser post for the kids.

Let’s tackle this iKon debut together

YG has been pushing for his new generation lately. Last year Winner rushed the scene with overly mellow tracks that had the masses drooling. They drooled so much that Winner saw a lot of success in just…six months? Well, now YG wants to see if he can replicate that with the remainder of his Survival Show(s), iKon.

So first off iKon has won for their pre-release track that they are not even promoting. Let’s take a look at it.

My Type

My Type is the song you do when you want to give your fans heart palpitations. Most of the video is them goofing around, and looking into the camera as they recite their parts doing the whole cute thing. That works with the song, which is a very light pop track. It’s nice enough. As someone that does not know their names beyond the two rappers (who have the most visibility), I am shocked that this was the first thing they put out, especially considering it is YG. It’s not as complicated as I thought it would be. I would have thought, since they are the younger counterparts to Winner, they would have come out with a rowdier, less refined track. Just to start with.  That is not to say the song is bad, but this is simpler than I would have pegged. Lucky for me…iKon’s actual releases would prove to be different.

Rhythm Ta

This was…well it wasn’t worth it. Firstly the rappers end up being the worst part of this song. The best part of this song was that first sung section…I don’t know who they are, but that section just does right. If anybody heard it, there sounded like there was an accordion going on in the back. It gave the track a nice bounce in some way. Like for that small period of time, the song was a bop. Then we move to the chorus, and it just…eh. Overall that’s how I feel. I like one part of the song, while I prefer not to think about the rest of it. The song reminds me of GD and Taeyangs Good Boy. By that I don’t mean the song is a rip off or blatant copy, but like the song goes nowhere and expects me to follow. The rapping was atrocious, the group feels disconnected, there is very little redeemable about this song in my opinion. They wanted to give you quirky, hood by YG…and it just came off very underdone. I am thankful they didn’t immediately go with overly loud and warehouse like a lot of these Hip Hop based K Pop groups do, but this was just not the tea.

Airplane

This is very confusing for me. I understand the song perfectly, and I actually think it is probably the better out of the two official releases…but…I don’t know if I can completely rock with this. I think this is a case of them trying to make their rappers work in a situation where it probably would have been okay without them.

 

So out of the three songs, I think My Type might have been the best, followed by Airplanes, and them Rhythm Ta. My Type feels a lot more balanced, and while bordering generic and safe, feels like it gives room to everyone to do something. It also is easily fan bait. Rhythm Ta tries so hard to be something it obviously can’t be. It feels like it is aiming for A Good Boy, when that song was terrible. Also the best part was done by the singers, who feel like they are on the sidelines of the group. It does keep with YG’s overall perceived image as of late, but doesn’t come off as memorable at all. Airplanes is only slightly better, but suffers just as much. Like Rhythm Ta the vocalist feel pushed away, only this time not getting a part that sticks out. As a trade off though, we get a song more so on the cohesive side. Just off these three songs I think there may need to be some sort of…tweaking (in and out of the group). I think there is far too much emphasis on Bobby and B.I. while trying to squeeze as much as they can from their vocalists in these smaller, slightly more irrelevant spaces.

Overall, as a debut, I can’t say I am thoroughly impressed. All three songs have their positive moments, but not enough for me to want to listen over and over again.

Lovelyz attempt for something new, get mixed results

Shooting Star was obviously not for me, so I was kind of thankful that that was only a pre-release (in an attempt to make it known that Jisoo would be joining the group). Lovelyz real effort comes in the form of the more fun…Ah-Choo

After several listens I have come to the conclusion that this could be worse. By worse…I mean their first two songs. Anyway, Ah-Choo feels like an Apink record, especially in the chorus. No I do not mean Mr. Chu. In general this is what I expect from Apink, which outside of Remember, I tend to like their very minimum effort tracks.

Part of me thinks the reason this song sounds so lively is because GFriend’s success. Their first two singles were very light and floaty and boring. Ah-Choo isn’t some pinnacle of amazing or anything, but it does manage to keep me interested much longer, particularly the chorus, which is the bread and butter of K Pop in my opinion. The chorus actually has a pulse, with that ah-choo being perfectly timed. Stupid, but it works. Outside of the chorus, there was one part that stood out. The bridge, which turned a regular sugary coated pop song into a more R&B-trap lite record, took me by surprise, and I almost wanted to hear what could happen if they had done an entire song based around that part of the production. Sadly we will never know.

Other than that, Ah-Choo is pretty meh. The beat is faster than their last singles, but not by much, and lacks a lot of oomph outside of the chorus and bridge. Lovelyz themselves are also pushed into a corner where they don’t sound distinct and sing in a very light uniform way. It’s hard for anything to stick when there is little substance to work with.

The music video is following what is becoming a pattern for them. Instead of trying for a story with a large ass girl group like them…Lovelyz go for a more fun artsy look. There is a lot of isolated imagery that tend to act as symbolism in these videos. With Lovelyz, it tends to make a little more sense because it always follows a more concrete theme. Here they are playing hide and seek from their crush, and their sneeze gives them away (well they are playing with each other). There is a lot of moving around, hiding, looking cute, some slight comedy…eh. It’s become typical of this group. From what we have seen the dance looks like it could be fun. But that’s it.

Overall, Ah-Choo could be seen as a step forward. A little more fun and energetic in terms of production, with a slightly memorable chorus, however lacking a truly cohesive feel to it.