Mastermind: Beast

Beast just won their first Music Bank! 😀 I am beyond ecstatic, and serious kudos to them. They are a group full of talent, and their minialbum is selling well amidst heavy full albums out there from 2NE1 and SHINee.

Let’s talk about their new tracks. Automatically, Beast wins best album title of the year. Mastermind. It’s like Kpop finally stopped choosing cliche/nonsensical English phrases and decided to start reading Foucault. But of course, this seems to not have helped Beast’s Engrish as all as Kikwang still lovably confuses his verb tenses, but Omarion loves Beast, so we’ll forgive them for not being quite so perfect.

And I totally stole this from AA-Chan’s blog.
Cube’s got the aesthetics down pat – gorgeous cover.

Actually, if you have read my earliest posts, you’ll know that Beast really had to work to earn affection from me – I really hated Shock of the New Era for the longest time due to the combination of music style and Engrish. But there’s something I need clarify.

I love Cube as a company. CEO Hong is one of the most respectable men out there in the Korean entertainment industry – he has the business savvy and has worked with the best, as a previous high-up in JYPE. More importantly, he has one of the best understanding of the human psyche I’ve seen in a businessman – the man understands the pain, pride, uncertainty, and general psychology of the adolescent idol so well that he would probably be an excellent teacher or psychiatrist. He also has a very concrete sense of the type of music he wants to make, which is very much reflected in what his flagship groups, 4minute and Beast, perform (G.na’s stuff is a bit different). This is also Cube’s greatest musical weakness – there’s a lack of diversity.

As a listener you must make yourself mold to their music, when it really should be the other way around. Beast’s tunes have more or less stayed true to their debut style, usually heavy electrobeat dance tracks. Half the time their songs sound very generic and the formula becomes predictable: Doojoon/Dongwoon openers, Kikwang/Hyungseung the more technical verses, and Yoseob with occasional Hyunseung backup belting out the choruses, with a sprinkle of Junhyung’s rap. This would be an excellent formula if Beast were just another mediocre group. However, they’re not. Of active boy bands, Beast ranks at the top with SHINee (and Big Bang, whenever they comeback) as outstanding live performers. These boys can sing, dance, and if I were Cube I’d be giddy with joy just trying to get as many line-distribution combinations out of them as possible. Their choreo is, however, always tight and unique, which is what finally drew me into Beast. And if all else fails, PLEASE AT LEAST LET JUNHYUNG SING – his timbre is really rich.

Let’s run through their minialbum, shall we?

Mastermind – standard intro piece, thank goodness it doesn’t outshine the title track this time. I actually really liked the triplet

Soom – Something about this song just seems more sophisticated than Shock. Performed live, it doesn’t quite have the sharpness and complexity of Shock, but it makes up for it musically. I personally really enjoyed the direct integration of “breathe in breathe out” into the choreo – honestly, had they tried to be “creative,” it would’ve just looked tacky. And beginning circle dance? OMG. Once upon a time I had a dream that SHINee would promote Obsession and engage in some kind of epic circle dance/position shift a la Replay, but Beast were the ones to pick up on my brilliant suggestion, so +1000000 brownie points.

Tl;dr: I dig Dongwoon’s long note at the beginning (though the effect is ruined by the rapping), somehow the heartbeat slow start transitions logically into the techno verses and choruses, Yoseob is amazing at belting, I wish they’d let Dongwoon/Doojoon sing at slightly higher ranges/otherwise switch things up, but overall I’m enjoying this song WAY more than I had ever anticipated to. And pay attention to their choreo – there are lots of subtle details that make you appreciate their preparation even more and make Beast flow like one group instead of synchronized individual members. Kudos to Prepix!


Credit: beastofficial

V.I.U. – Please watch the end of the Soom practice video. I have no more comments. It’s a fun song, and Kikwang has a Junho-worthy booty. The song may be forever ruined and/or cherished.


Credit: hawoosin

Break Down – I don’t know why, but I feel like every group has released a song that sounds like this. Actually, scratch that, this sounds like a song taken straight from 4minute’s discography. I’m both happy and miffed at this. Since Beast has considerable vocal talent, they can turn a mediocre song into something enjoyable, and this semi-attempt at upbeat R&B is all too rare in Beast discography. Very generic but still enjoyable.

Clenching with a Tight Fist – Again, kind of generic, featuring Yoseob warbling over everyone else with an occasional Hyunseung appearance (who I just discovered holds back his voice quite a bit for vocal control – there’s talent untapped there). Attempts the angsty but doesn’t quite hit it, but the piano arrangement is lovely, their voices are good, and I nod along.

So congrats, Beast, on your first Mubank! May many more come your way.

Hyunseung you are so weird and adorable ❤

Girl Group Foursome Comeback, and ALL THAT JAZZ!

Sorry, really digging my Chicago soundtrack for some reason…totally odd, but it kinda fits Secret’s concept?

Sooooo, explosion of estrogen these past two days, as two girl groups made their debuts and two newish groups made their comebacks, and somehow, their concepts were different enough from each other that no one is making comparisons! Or at least they’re too busy bashing each group individually.

Let’s talk about the new debuts first.

I introduce to you, pedo-bait GP Basic! With an insane average age of 13.5 and the maknae still in 6th grade, it’s redundant to say netizens are going batcrazy about their need to stay in school, wtf were their parents thinking, and that they better not be wearing skimpy shorts and be humping the floor or somethin’.

Their debut single contains two tracks, but because the youngest’s rapping voice is just grinding on my nerves (she has good potential, but her voice isn’t developed enough so the rapping just sounds annoying) I will not be listening to LALALA (the…er…B-side track? I did too much J-pop/rock research today. It’s all coming back to me…). Here’s the video for Game (haha video…game, video game 😄 omg I need to stop sleeping at 3 every day…).

I’m not going to lie. It’s not terrible. I think my tolerance for badly autotuned songs has just built up during late 09-10, because I remember the days where I could absolutely not tolerate UKISS and Beast, and yet today I ended up dancing Mystery in front of my bathroom mirror. The autotune should go, but I find it listenable. The tempo’s too slow and not varied enough for a electro-pop song like Game, though, so its main fault is that it gets a little boring. And these girls should drop the fierce concept – it’s like a monochromatic 2NE1/4minute Jr. I actually don’t care about their age that much considering my best friend made me listen to Kidz Bop 1-12930945 while growing up, and, at the risk of GP Basic bringing on the Miley/Justin trend to Kpop, I think they can safely go down that road without too much bashing. But please, WIPING YOUR MOUTH AND FLINGING IT FORWARD IS NOT A DANCE MOVE. That goes for everyone in Kpop.

Next, it’s the super-leggy models-turned-singers Nine Muses.

I have an unfair prejudice against them. I want to confess that the first healthy obsession I had was Greek mythology. I LOVE me some Greek myth. The fact that they call themselves Nine Muses, after the minor deities of arts, music, and science (and the inspiration for some good Charmed episodes, good times) is just – NO. I’m sure like Girl’s Day, they’ve got some vocal talent under there, but, nononono. Staying away from Greek/Roman myth references/Greek-Latin in general is the best way to make me like you more.

But I feel really sorry for these girls, because they knew right off the bat they would be getting lots of hate for having 9 members – stupid, yes, but the comparison is inevitable, since there aren’t a lot of super-loved 9 member girl groups in Korea right now than SNSD. And then they had to bring that ‘Genie’ beat in – in general I thought the whole dance/concept resembled more of After School’s Bang!, but man, the first 10 seconds sank all hope for them. I was surprised JYP/Rainstone wrote this song, because it sounds so not JYP – there’s no catchy chorus, the beat was too heavy, and it just felt weird. It did resemble other JYP ‘catchsongs’ in one way, in that it doesn’t allow the singers to show off their vocals at all and thus makes for a terrible song to be performed live – if even Yeeun sounds bad in 2DT’s verses, then Nine Muses are screwed. And I’m so disappointed there’s not enough Julien Kang in that MV – it might have been the only reason I watched the MV?

Now for the comeback girl’s. I honestly think Rainbow can compete against model-fierce ulzzang Nine Muses on equal ground looks wise. Looking to climb their way to success in typical DSP fashion after Gosship Gurl and Not Yogurt (DSP – Please suck less), Jaekyung and the Pussycat Dolls Rainbow returns with their digital single, A.

Ok, the MV looks cheap and DSP doesn’t even give Rainbow cool costumes to redeem themselves (DSP 2010 MV review: Lupin–awesome costume/styling, wtf black flakes and moon beds; SS501 – Prince of Persia awesome background, but did you give them scissors for the suits? Rainbow’s was like a combo of the weaker parts of both MVs) BUT I really like the song. It sounds sooo like a 80s beach pop-song, and no autotune! Plus, watch their comeback on Mubank – they all look so energetic when performing, unlike the flopping fish of Nine Muses.

It’s a good song and performance, but why on earth was this only a digital single? Rainbow’s been out of the game for quite a while now, and I know that they’re supposedly releasing some rehashed compilation of their previous singles, but for them to do well on the award shows/charts, they need album sales, and I personally think Secret is going to cream them in digital sales.

One last note on Rainbow: I thoroughly appreciate that DSP gave the non-Jaekyung members that I still cannot differentiate more spotlight. A word of advice from me to them on giving too much love for leader only – deja vu.

Finally, Secret. Ok, so I was VERY excited about their comeback for some unexplainable reason (mostly because the teasers looked so bamf) and was thoroughly crushed when I listened to Madonna and discovered it was Mazik, Mazik Mazik ver. 2.0. Omona-spastic was replaced by the ma-mi-a-ma-mi-a business, mazik was replaced by madonna-donna, the choreo’s virtually the same, and somehow even the backdrop looked identical after watching Magic and Madonna back to back. But thank their lucky stars Mazik 2.0 is much, much better than the original (the costuming, though excessive, was leaps and bounds better than the idk what-you-call-it Magic things).

Hated it the first time I heard it. Then mazikally it began to grow on me, and 12 hours later I’ve flipped my opinion about Madonna 180 degrees. I actually don’t care that it’s basically rehashed Magic anymore – the song is fantastic, the rest of their minialbum is solid (loved the 8eight collaboration), their live performance was very satisfactory, and I now love Jieun forever and ever and ever. Possibly more than Zinger – omo how is that possible. And I feel inspired to review their minialbum, which will happen tomorrow! So yay, expect more Secret spazz 😀

So ranking the four songs? Hmm, if you’d asked me 24 hours ago, I would have said A above Madonna, but Madonna-donna *does the spastic hand wave dance moves* is sooo freaking catchy, and has won my heart.

The list goes Madonna, A, Game, No Playboy. I need to stop being so mean to them.

Speaking of which, I want to make apologies to Girl’s Day. They were my bashing toy since they debuted due to a combination of atrocious outfits and me being in a bad mood, but I took my own advice and tried to walk a mile in their shoes, and actually listened to their EP.

Control blew me away. There are no vocal prodigies in that group, but so far, two of them sing quite above-averagely. And I’m sorry I called Minah the fake-eyesmile girl (hey, that one picture did her no favors), she’s one of the two who can sing. And they’re actually pretty funny on variety. My apologies for their debuting with the wrong song – it happens a lot. I feel like I’m at Confession D:

Finally finally (last thing I promise), Minho’s dancing! I think he was tired/overexcited/nervous because he totally rushed and slipped up on his rap, but no grudges at all, since it was such a fantastic live today – Jonghyun wasn’t ‘flying off the handle,’ Key sounded more like his old self with the deep tone instead of whiny, and Taemin braved his stupid jacket that kept on falling off.

^Yeah sorry guys, I accidentally opened my sarcasm spigot a bit too much here. It’s completely due to the fact I need to sleep but am terrible at staying off my computer X.X

Credit: natsumeluver4, KyuleeKPOPMV, UnknownCarrot160, sweety555288.