[Edited] DBSK/HoMin - "Winter Rose"

I couldn't help myself, I really couldn't. The minute I heard this song it's like I was enlightened. (LOL) I'll try to be back later today for a MuCore recap, but no promises. It's Saturday today, errands day. We'll see.

(continue reading for the edits)

If you were with me through at least one set of Christmas-themed posts, you know that I'm very picky with my Christmas pop songs, and that's partially because Christmas is a very big deal here in the Philippines, plus the fact that I grew up (professionally) singing pieces like Handel's Messiah and classics by Filipino greats. Christmas songs are not just Christmas songs because they mention snow or gifts in the lyrics, and one of my missions in life is to make everyone understand that!

Christmas songs are all about familiarity, about good memories from the past Christmases. They are one of the best examples of the fact that music is half-heard and half-felt -- hearing a Christmas song should make you warm and fuzzy and, well, Christmassy. And how do you do that? With familiarity. Familiar melodies, familiar instruments, chymes and bells, anything that *feels* like Christmas. Why do you think Ray Conniff arrangements/albums still sell big? Because they're familiar, because people already equate them to Christmas.

Christmas songs are as familiar as they are fresh, and so if you try too much to change the arrangements, you lose the feel, and I think I've made it very clear that the feel is everything when it comes to these songs. Pop songs are usually like that - they try too hard to deviate from the formula, but they fail to realize that once you deviate from that formula, you deviate from Christmas. And aren't you making a Christmas song in the first place?

The best Christmas songs are those that can take the formula, take the familiarity, and keep it, while delivering something that much more fresh. Let's just say that "Winter Rose" is exactly that.

The song has this sweeping melody, and it's in waltz-time. WALTZ-TIME. Christmas songs are not just in standard 2-4 or 4-4 time, some of them have really whacked out time signatures, actually. I know. Like I said, I've sung Handel's Messiah a gazillion times. You think he stuck with 4-4 all the way? Hell no!

So the chorus. It's familiar, isn't it? I can't put my finger on exactly what it mirrors, but the time signature mixed with the melody itself are enough to get you all tingly inside. And they're gorgeous. So, so gorgeous. But also, if you were to take this melody alone, without the bells and chymes, it would still actually sound like a Christmas song and not just a random pop song.

The bells, the chymes, THE STRING SECTION, the way they all have a mini-explosion at the chorus when that gorgeous melody takes over, I'm ready to die now. And that middle 8. Holy mother of heaven and earth and maybe even hell that middle 8.


I cannot believe I based this morning's review on what I heard from my crappy MacBook Pro speakers. I cannot believe it. I can't believe I missed what is possibly the most important part of this song - the bass line. You know me, I'm very picky with the intensity of my bass, and when songs become bass-fests they're instantly put on my bad list, but if I hate a certain type of bass, I have to like another, right? Right. As a kid, one of the many things I learned from my dad was that you can identify a song by its bass line, and that, in a noisy crowd, all you have to listen to in a song is the bass line. He was dead-right too.

But what does that have to do with anything? Well, I like very unassuming bass lines, just like the one I didn't hear on my laptop speakers this morning. I *like* looking for the bass line, like what my dad and I used to do to pass time in a noisy restaurant. And I also like bass lines that sound like they were played live then just slapped on to the song with minimal processing. I like REAL bass lines, because they actually have emotion.

The bass line on "Winter Rose" gives the song so much dimension, and it makes it real. Why do you feel all warm and fuzzy? Because you feel real. Because the bass line sets your heart racing. Like I said, Christmas songs are more about what they make you feel than they are about the technical aspects of a song. So close your eyes for a bit and just listen - listen to the real bass line, to the familiar melody, to the gorgeous strings. Don't you feel all nice and warm and fuzzy? Mission accomplished, then.

This is, without a shadow of a doubt, THE best original pop Christmas song I have ever heard.



  1. What makes me love Winter Rose so much is, like you said, the real winter feel to it. Sure, there are lots of singers that released winter singles already (read: KARA's Winter Magic) but none of them I think is phenomenal enough to put a place within my "Christmas Anthem" list. With Winter Rose, I definitely feel the christmas feel the composer wanted to give, but those christmas sounds don't scream "try-hard". They just develop in you and let you feel the beauty yourselves. I dig it :)

    There's a reversible version for this song too! I'm curious what the lyrics will be :p

    Great review, Nikki!

  2. I am not a Homin supporter, or should I say I am a close-to-be antifan. I missed the old DBSK but reunion is not happening anytime soon so until they are one again, I am not a vivid fan.
    I didn't like HoMin's Japanese releases. Especially those hyped-up songs. However, I still adore their ballads. And this song is just perfect. Everything bit of the song is just so good that I pressed the replay button literally x20. I dislike Christmas songs. I find them boring and repetitive(thanks to my dad who already starts listening to Christmas songs when it's like a month away). This song proves me wrong; Christmas songs can sound amazing. Whether I am a fan of them or not, this song deserves the best praise.

  3. it made me feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside, yet i felt chills going down my back. This song is beautiful, and even the title works well with the music.

    Awesome review! :D

  4. You are so right.

    A little jealous that I didn't have someone to teach me the bass line, but I figured that out eventually so it's all good.

  5. I definitely agree with everything you said. Ever since the preview came out, I've just been looping this song -- and I get tired of songs VERY easily. It's just an amazing song, period.

    Btw, just curious, are you going to review HoMin's Tone album? I'm interested in what you have to say about it.

  6. totally agree with you... the bass line is <333 in general, the song is just bursting with gorgeousness. and i actually like how min and yunho sound here... ^^ *feeling warm and fuzzy all over*

  7. Just 1 thing.
    EVERY fan of dbsk now knows that dbsk members are two, and there were five before.
    WHY and WHY do you need to emphasise that it's dbsk/homin?
    heck, homin is not even a group's name.
    get over it.
    yunho & changmin IS tvxq.
    jaejoong, yoochun & junsu IS jyj.
    all 5 WERE tvxq.


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