WHY HELLO THERE! It's been more than half a month since I've written anything, and to be honest I think it took it's toll on me - I should've written, but I had absolutely no time to! I'm back, on a semi-break. I don't have any formal classes, but I have projects to do, and a national speech contest to train for! I hate being a senior. AAAAANYWAY.
Like what I said when I reviewed the trio's Japanese EP, I like them because they're a part of DBSK - they're a part of five, not one, not three. But I've sort of come to terms with the fact that the five of them being together may be very difficult to pull off right now. I'm still waiting, like a gazillion other fans, but life goes on, and I'm thankful that they're still actually interested in making music and not hiding from the world, wallowing in self-pity or anything.
I have a few "issues" with this EP-verging-on-album, and some of them aren't exclusive to this album. Therefore, I'm trying my best to phrase my words in the right way - not that I'm afraid of offending anyone because this is purely my opinion, but more because there are times when I don't really end up saying everything I want to, and this time it's important that I do. I won't be talking as a fangirl, and believe me, it was hard, but it's better that I not. I'm still a fan, I just choose not to show it. For a while.
Probably my biggest issue with this album is that they're trying to be American. They're not American. It's not that it's particularly bad to sound like that because there's good American music, it's that I get the impression that they're trying too hard to sound like something they're not just to succeed. I don't like that mindset. I hate it when people sacrifice who they are, who they've shown they are, just because "it'll sell more". Variety is good, I have absolutely no problem with it, but changing your identity as a whole just to cater to another market is wrong. Success is fantastic, because that means more people will be able to hear their music, but if the music they're hearing is not reflective of who they really are, I'd rather they not have that success.
Now we come to the fact that they're singing in English. The English isn't as bad as I expected it to be though and surprisingly, Junsu isn't as bad as everyone thought he was. My theory? Singing is different from talking - Junsu was in a musical and most of the time, in "professional" music, pronunciation is very important, he must've gotten some pointers from the pros he worked with. That applies to Yoochun as well - he may be better than the other two when he speaks (even if he isn't really that good), but his singing voice makes his pronunciation different. It's the type of voice you have, and of course from where you learned to sing. I won't be talking about their pronunciation when I review the songs though, because I honestly don't care that much - it's music, the melodies, arrangements and instrumentals are my main focus.
If I don't think of anything else while I write this paragraph, this is the last issue I'll be talking about before I get to the songs. In Japan, and even in Korea, we get gorgeous songs. I'm not talking about ballads alone, even the uptempos we've gotten from them have been jaw-dropping. I understand that this is different production, songwriting and a different sound all together (which I'm so not OK with), but they don't sound like some of the best singers in Asia on these cuts. When news that they'd be working with producers in the US first surfaces, I threatened Kanye that I'd personally go over to the US and kill him, along with a gazillion other angry fangirls, if ever he decide to autotune them and it come out tasteless and generic. He did. For one track. So I'm thinking about it. My point is, even if there are a few beautiful songs on the album, the songs they seem to be pushing, and majority of the album, is sub-par. We'll get to that next.
For starters, the intro sounds like it got lost in post-prod, and was put into the wrong album. You know, if the album sounded like this, I think I would've liked it. It's spunky, it's got class, and it doesn't hit you over the head but it goes somewhere. My only problem is that JYJ don't sing on it, and that's a pretty big problem. If they had put even just a tiny bit of vocals, I would've liked it even more. But then again, either the album's not good enough for this, or it doesn't fit into the album. Take your pick.
I first heard Ayyy Girl (emphasis on the 3 'y's) in LQ when it leaked a few days ago, and my initial observation was that it's so boring - it doesn't go anywhere. There are songs that have instrumentals that don't go anywhere, but that means the vocals should be able to carry it, more importantly, the hook. Now that I heard it in HQ, I still kinda have the same observations. It starts out like a boring Love In This Club but the verses are gorgeous, and I really mean gorgeous, because the vocals have dynamics, but the minute they've built up that intensity, the hook goes and makes everything boring again. It stuck to my head, yeah, but it's boringly annoying, if that's even possible. And the middle 8 was a let-down. It's not particularly bad, but I was hoping for mind-blowing. It wasn't. OH, and I get this impression that there's way too much Kanye and thatotherguytheyworkedwith on the track. I (don't) understand that they might need the "big names" to get them some leverage in the US, but not to the point where they're there for the first minute.
The same goes for Empty. Almost the same, at least. The verses are gorgeous, and the melody fits Yoochun's voice (even if the English is total fail), the bridge is pretty, but the chorus doesn't explode. It's not as bad as Ayyy Girl, because now that I listen to it again the resonance, even if I don't like it, is a nice contrast to the melodic verses. And this middle 8 was pretty. Not mind-blowing, but pretty - I liked the pianos, and Yoochun pulled it off well. I would've liked it to explode though - I like the live version a gazillion times better than this. Sure there are fantastic songs that don't explode, but it's a lot easier to make it explode and sound good than not and still sound good. A tip to Kanye, next time you produce them, lay off the processing (not necessarily autotune), please? You're sanitizing their vocals, and it doesn't sound good.
Be My Girl is, in simple worlds, my favorite song. You know I'm a sucker for pretty melodies laced with sweet piano parts. The most surprising part of this all is that the hook of this (the "you should be my baby" part) got stuck in my head more than the hook of Ayyy Girl did. noididnotlistentothisfortwowholedays. It's not as dynamic as I'd like it to be, but the pretty harmonies (did I hear right? Harmonies?!? YES!) and the otherwise decent hook are enough, even if I was expecting more. I wanted a mind-blowingly gorgeous song, I got pretty. Oh well, that's life.
I adore Jaejoong, I really do, but Still In Love reminds me a lot of a less gorgeous version of IU's MIA. The verses are beyond beautiful and Jaejoong sounds phenomenal (minus the pronunciation, at least) but once again, the chorus is so anticlimactic in the wrong ways. There are songs that can be anticlimactic and still be great, but the treatment of JJ's vocals, how they took out all the dynamics, makes it absolutely boring. *sigh*
Why am I leaning more towards Junsu these days? He has a gorgeous voice, yeah, and starring in Mozart! sure helped his technique, as if he needed any more. I've always liked Jaejoong better, but I Can Soar is gorgeous. There are points where it gets a little cheesy and generic, but as a whole it's a yes from me. It's not stunning or anything, but the simplicity of it all is what I've been looking for from the beginning of the album. They're some of the best singers in Asia - they're selling their vocals, it's only fit that they flaunt them in the best way possible.
Aaaaand Yoochun's solo track, I Love You, is a train wreck, a complete and utter train wreck. OK, it's not that bad, but it's not that great either. It bores me though. I don't know why, but whenever I try to listen to it, I have the sudden urge to press forward - it's even more boring than Ayyy Girl, and that's pretty boring. Sometimes I think that being boring is worse than being bad, because at least if it's bad it gets your attention, one way or another. If it's boring you don't wanna hear it, and you don't have anything to say about it either.
Be The One is one of the better songs on the album, if I must say. Even if this is the song that I might have to kill Kanye for. It's got attitude, one way or another, most probably because of the dynamics. It explodes. At first I didn't really like this track, but now that I'm listening to it, it's grown on me. It has traces of Swedish production in it - is it just me or would this have absolutely no problem fitting into a Danny or Darin album? Actually, I think I like it a little more now. The autotune is this close to being classy, but it's not quite there, so I don't love it that much, but it's OK - a good way to end the album/EP.
Best Track: Be My Girl
Better Tracks: Be The One, I Can Soar
Worst Track: I Love You (Feat. Flowsik)
The Rating: 4/5 Most definitely not as good as I expected it to be, but The Beginning has it's pros and cons - at this point, it all boils down to taste.