Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Review on 2PM's Album: Grown

Waddup, guys.

So, recently, a certain group from a certain country came back with a certain full length album and I felt that it would be a good time to do my very first album review. Yay? Yay.

The group that I am referring to is the one and only "beastly idols" from South Korea, 2PM.

(I just wanted an excuse to post a Taec gif, tbh)

For those of you who don't know, 2PM is a idol group from Korea under the label, JYP Entertainment. The group debut in the second half of 2008 and have expanded their name all throughout Asia. After two years from being MIA from Korean promotions, the six guys of 2PM are back and are ready to dominate. (And just a little note: they happen to be one of my favorite groups; so, there might be some bias in this review but I promise that I will try to be as neutral as possible, looking at these songs from a musical point.)

RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2013
TITLE TRACK: 이 노래를 듣고 돌아와 (Come Back When You Hear This Song) 

Track One: 하.니.뿐. (A.D.T.O.Y.) All Day I Think Of You

This track was originally not included when the album was released. It was some sort of "secret track". Personally, I would've liked for this song to be the title track but I understand why CBWYHTS is being promoted as the title. I'll explain that when I get to it.
Now, where to start with ADTOY? The song starts off somewhat abruptly, with dramatic strings (such as violas and cellos) playing in a way that builds up into the rap section. While this is going on, one of the main singers, Junho, is singing the chorus. 
Rap wise, I have to say that this is one of Taec and Chansung's better rap sequences. At first, it sounds somewhat out of place, but after a few listens, you'll get used to it and can't imagine the song without it. The rap sections add more of an intense, "I love you you're always on my mind what is wrong with me" feel to the song. 
The song takes a turn when it transitions to a more mellow part, sung by both Jun. K and Wooyoung. There's a bit of harmonizing in replacement for the strings in the background. This is the part of the song that makes it a very well rounded song. 
Now, the falsettos...yeah. The very first falsetto sung by Junho was executed well, in my opinion. It's the second falsetto sung by Nichkhun that had people side eyeing. It seemed...forced? And somewhat unnatural for a singer of Khun's capacity. I will admit; he does it very well in the live performances, though.
The song then goes into another harmonizing part (which is matched with a dance breakdown in the music video linked above). 
In the end, the song fades out with the strings playing and the mechanical voice that has been saying "하.니.뿐" throughout all the choruses.
My personal score: 10/10 
This song has become one of my favorite songs from this group. I think that it really represents what I expect from an album entitled "Grown". All the members came together really well with their voices to help this song become such a great piece. Also, the fact that it was created solely by Park Jin Young (JYP) adds extra brownie points to it for me.
My critical score: 8/10
Even though I personally LOVE this song, what takes the score down for me on a critical perspective is the fact that it was created by JYP. Even though 2PM did an excellent job with this song, something about it screams "JYP" too much for my critical taste. I think the falsetto part is what throws this song off for me. Other than that, this song was arranged beautifully and definitely shows a growth in the group, musically wise. 

Track Two: 이 노래를 듣고 돌아와 (Come Back When You Hear This Song) 

Time to explain why I understand why this song is being promoted as the title track instead of ADTOY. Even though ADTOY is the core of what it means to be "Grown", CBWYHTS is still...Kpop--ish, if that makes sense. What I mean by that is that the background music is strong in the way that it builds up and then explodes into a perfect rhythm to do a choreographed dance number. The song has a strong beat that sounds somewhat uplifting, even though the lyrics prove otherwise. It's a fun track to dance to and it is easy to sing along with. I can definitely see this as being a fun song to sing at karaoke/noraebang. 
There isn't really much I can say about this song other than it is definitely not your typical 2PM title track. For my fellow Kpop fans out there, this track sounds very U-Kiss like. Even the way they are styled in this video is very 0330ish. I don't think there's anything wrong with that because it makes sense that they're wearing slacks and button down shirts for this concept. That is what grown men wear, right? Haha. 
My personal score: 8/10
I had a luke warm like for the song when it came out. It took me a good three or four listens to fully appreciate it. I think that the music video made this song more than what it really is for me.
Critical score: 7/10
This song, like I stated earlier, sounds somewhat U-Kiss like. This isn't the type of song I would expect from an album with a "grown" concept. I understand that every album needs its song that will get people dancing, but I think that JYP could've made a better song to fit this. Another thing that lowered the score in this area was the rap done by Taec. His rap made the song sound more teenage boyband that what it already is. 

Track Three: 원점으로 (Back To Square One)

This song is a good song to follow up after CBWYHTS on the album. It also has a light-hearted beat that is strong enough in bass and pop rhythm, good for dancing and such. Lyrics wise, this song is nothing but light hearted. The girl they're sining about is apparently erasing their love in her head and just tossing them to the side. This song is your classic 2PM begging for their girl to love them. 
My personal score: 8/10
The song is beautifully arranged and the lyrics are written really well (props to Junho for having a hand in this). I gave this one an 8 because I had the same reaction to it that I had to CBWYHTS. It's another fun song to sing at karaoke/noraebang.
Critical score: 6/10
Even though this song was composed really well with the faint sound of strings in the background (I love strings), it's somewhat forgettable. This song mimics what 2PM used to be, very boyband-like and teenager-y. I would've appreciated if this song didn't come right after CBWYHTS because it would've done the album much more justice to be close to the end. The songs from here on out are much more dramatic and less light-hearted.

Track Four: I'm Sorry

As an avid smooth/mellow R&B fan, I can't even explain how much I love this song. This track is one that I wouldn't be shocked to hear playing on American R&B radio stations. There is a faint presence of an electric guitar that blends in perfectly with chimes that sound every now and then. This song was mostly done by someone name Dokebi and I have to say, they really made a great song for the R&B fans out there. I would never expect a group like 2PM to pull off a song like this. All their voices fit really well with the beat. The harmonizing that is done by some members during their parts add a special, nostalgic feeling to those fans who like music like this. One of the things that stood out for me was the English used by Chansung. As a Kpop fan, I am used to English lines being lulzy and borderline ridiculous; however, this isn't the case for this song. Chansung's part where is goes "so I can't stop stop stop thinking about the time we were together, we were together" is beautifully pronounced and I wouldn't have picked any other member to say that line. Good job, Chansung.
My personal score: 10/10
This song comes out of left field for me because I was expecting another song like Back To Square One. The mellow beat, the subtle falsetto at the end by Jun. K, and the rap done by Taec that isn't forced or, sorry to say, annoying, puts this song on repeat for me.
Critical score: 8.5/10
For a Kpop fan who strictly sticks to what basis Kpop has built itself on, this song would come off as absolutely boring. It is more on the slower side, but it isn't what I would call a ballad. It's more of a tea sipping, coffee house type of song. Although sung well, it could possibly put someone to sleep if they aren't used to music like this.

Track Five: 오늘부터 1일 (Today Marks the 1st Day)

Whenever this song comes on, I instantly smile. This song definitely fits the grown concept while being fun.  This track details a man who thinks that he is experiencing the first day of love. There really isn't anything that stands out for me in the song other than it all together (I am so bad at reviewing things, lmao).

My personal score: 7/10
Even though this song makes me smile, it's highly forgettable. It's definitely one of the weaker tracks on the album and would definitely fall into the category of "background noise music". 
Critical score: 5/10
On top of being highly forgettable, it ends quite abruptly. That is usually a deal breaker for me when it comes to songs. From my limited knowledge of Korean, the lyrics seem simple and repetitive. It is really that this track was a filler track. 

Track Six: Dangerous

Nothing like some good ol' Khun English to start off a song. There really isn't much I can say for this song other then that it includes everything I like about 2pm: smooth melodies, great verses, and questionable pronunciation of English words. (Chansung, do I really look like a door? ha.)

My personal score: 6.8/10
This song, although groovy and smooth, is another "background noise music" song to me. Nothing really else I have to say about this one.

Critical score: 5.7/10
The production of this song feels rushed and sounds rushed. Nothing about it stands out. It's repetitive and simple, not what you would expect from a group who has been around for five years.

Track Seven: 오늘 하루만 (Just For Today)

I can't even think of anything to say about this song before the scores, lol.

My personal score: 6/10
At this point of the album, it starts to get a little repetitive with the semi ballads. I think because of the ordering of this album, it drove me to give this song a lower score. Although beautiful (Junho and Jun. K are fantastic singers), a lot of that beauty in the song is taken away because of its placement in the album. Personally, I would've made this song the first track. 

Critical score: 9/10
I think the main reason why this song gets a high score from me is because it sounds like a song I would expect from a group of 2pm's caliber on a Korean album. This song would probably be one of my favorites to hear during a concert, despite being low on my personal score. There's also something about the chorus that is really fulfilling. This song is really a song that I would call "complete".

Track Eight: Game Over

Interesting song, this one is. This song has a powerful opening with some sort of army or movie speech that I don't recognize. If you were a fan of "Don't Stop Can't Stop", then you'll probably like this song.

My personal score: 5/10
This song, for me...just...isn't good. It doesn't have a melody that pleases my ears. The reason I give it the 5 points is because it does make a good exercise songs. Other than that, it's a song that mimics their old style and I am not feeling that. Many fans believed that this song should've been the one promoted but I am SO glad that it wasn't. They've shown us that they're strong, but now it's time for them to showcase their maturity and vocal abilities. 

Critical score: 10/10
You're probably wondering why I gave this song a 10 as a critical score. The reason because this song screams "2PM". This is the beastly, strong, manly image that they built their fanbase on. For the 2PM fans, this song reminds us of the "Don't Stop Can't Stop" era. That era was a good era and this song is a good reminder for the fans that 2PM hasn't changed too much, but they have definitely evolved as artists. The placement on the album also has a lot to do with the score. After two filler songs, it was refreshing to hear a song that reminded me of the group I fell in love with. Jun.K and Duble Sidekick (Park Jang Geum, Chance from One Way) did a fantastic job on this song.

Track Nine: Coming Down

This track kinda reminds me of track seven. Therefore, I have nothing to say before I explain my scores, haha.

My personal score: 8/10
I love smooth tracks. This song, for some reason, reminds me of what I would listen to if I were in some jazzy coffee house in a hipster neighborhood in either Chicago of NYC. I don't's a good song for my ears.

Critical score: 6.7/10
Taec's rap brought down this score. His rap...did he write this himself? I...yeah...Another reason why this song isn't a big hit on the critical side is because, well, it's boring. Point blank.

Track Ten: 고백 (Go Back)

It's good to hear a song start of with a solemn piano and then movie into a soft techno sound with electric snare drums. I wouldn't be surprised hearing this beat used by people like The Wanted or Justin Bieber.

My personal score: 10/10
If you know me, then you know I love angsty, sad songs. What I mean by that is that the song has a sad meaning to it but has a party like vibe that makes you want to cry while you dance and break things. This song fits my taste perfectly. The guys are talking about going back to what things once were, and that in itself activates something in me. This song was very close to being dubbed my favorite off the album.

Critical score: 10/10
I might be bias with this critical score because member Junho had a hand in the production, but I can't help it. He really made a catchy beat with lyrics that make you think. Also, the way the song is styled makes Nichkhun's singing sound flawless. I was very pleased with this song when I first heard it. 

Track Eleven: Love Song

2PM singing about love instead of heartbreak? I'll take it!

My personal score 9/10
The beat behind their singing in this song is really different to the average kpop fan. It has this live band vibe to it even though there wasn't a live band present. This song is a great song to play for that special someone in your life. It has this element of cheesiness that I expect from a boyband, but it also has this sincere maturity that I also enjoy. 

Critical score: 10/10
Taec's rap didn't ruin this song! (just kidding, Taec) The verses were lively and flowed really well with the whole song. There were these little pauses and falsettos in the song that kept it interesting, unlike track seven and track nine. 

Track Twelve: 문득 (Suddenly)

Get your tissues ready for this song.

My personal score: 9.7/10
Jun. K wrote this. Of course I am going to give this a high score, lol. What stops me from giving this song a full ten is because I don't like songs that brings tears to my eyes. I like being an ice queen :)

Critical score: 10/10
Even though this song was originally made five years ago. It's relevance to everything that each of the members have been through is uncanny. Jun. K is known for making lyrics and music that matches what's in his heart, and it definitely shows in this song. Even though I don't understand Korean very well, I can hear the amount of thought that was put into a song. That takes a real songwriter to do that.

OVERALL ALBUM SCORE: I give this album a solid 8.8/10. It started off strong but then began to get boring around track six. Even though that did happen, things did pick up and the album finished strong. 

Great job, 2PM!

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