But anyway, this week's major release really was the TTS EP (which I reviewed here), but 2PM and Teen Top also brought packages out and I managed to check them out as well.
Teen Top - "Missing"
It's a pleasant surprise that Teen Top have lasted this long -- because I've always favored Infinite (for good reason!), and Infinite have really exploded compared to Teen Top. But there is definitely a market for Teen Top, and it's nice to see them moving forward in terms of repertoire. I liked their single last year actually, I think it's very them, tongue-in-cheek and mischievous but tight in terms of performance, and their current Mnet series is really interesting discourse on the industry (I want to write something on it soon, I just need to find the time!) so I was kind of looking forward to this comeback. I'm not head-over-heels for the EP, but it's a solid release, a strong front considering the shift they've made from their previous release. "Missing" is the extreme of the "cool" side of their repertoire, it'll fit right in with "To You." It's a cool track not just in terms of style, but also in terms of execution -- they're a lot less in-your-face, and while I thought it wouldn't really work and just turn out cheap, Teen Top handled it well and brought just the right amount of intensity to give the song character.
2PM - "Mine"
This new 2PM release is definitely a JYPE production, and tracks like "Mine" are proof. On one hand, here we go again with JYP forcing this sound on his acts -- I thought we'd finally moved forward with GOT7 and to a certain extent 15&. But on the other hand, "Mine" is a pretty good song, and a good execution of the JYP sound. There's life to it, and a sense of dynamics to prevent this "sophistication" from being boring. It's smooth but not flat in terms of melody and arrangement -- there's enough happening to sustain listeners. It's not the best song ever, but it's competent and I'd give this a few more listens.
Jay Park - "So Good"
This was on last week's Gaon top ten, and I think of all the Jay Park singles I've heard this is the one that deserves it the most. It's a lot less pretentious and a lot more technically-strong than something like "I Like To Party" or "Know Your Name," and it genuinely sounds like Jay Park+production team have a handle on what happens to the arrangement, the melody and the production. And as a song it's one of my recent favorites as well -- the mastery of execution leads to a sense of effortlessness to the performance, and in turn an ease to listening. It's one of those songs I can put on repeat in the background and it will neither fade into irrelevance nor demand my full attention.
BoA - "I See Me"
Technically "I See Me" isn't a new release, but it's on BoA's new Japanese album and I really do want to talk about it because it's such a gorgeous track that really has stood the test of time. If I'm not mistaken this was for the Audio Technica campaign BoA did a few years back as well as for her 10th year anniversary, and I think "I See Me" is very telling of the cutting-edge of Japanese production and recording. As far as melody and arrangement go it's nothing ground-breaking, but if you pay attention to the recording -- the quality of each individual instrument, the treatment of the bass line, everything -- it's so, so Japanese. Clean treatments of substantial elements -- that refined yet full bass line with dynamics that steer the song in all the right places, the sharp but graceful piano line, the warmth in BoA's usually shrill vocals. "I See Me" is Japanese production masterclass.
TTS - "Stay"
I checked iTunes and apparently, I've played this song 200 times already! I'm not surprised though, because "Stay" is one of those tracks that are upbeat enough to keep me awake when I study, but melodic and graceful enough not to shock me while I drag myself out of bed in the morning. (That's important!) For more on the song, check out my full review of "Holler"!
There are creative juxtapositions like in the second verse where Tiffany's "muscular" lines are balanced by Seohyun's more graceful, higher-range lines and Taeyeon's bridge serves as the middle ground between the two extremes. There is dead air in terms of the melody, but "EYES" uses those spaces creatively -- but they're filled with instrumental hooks like the brass section or is short enough to be transition spaces and not serve as dead weight.