Current K-pop #1: MBLAQ, DBSK
One I love, one I love to hate (or just kind of…hate).
I love this! MBLAQ gets better and better with each release. I love the laid-back, slow R&B feel to the song, and it feels very Rain, which I’m sure is not surprising. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Love Story, and then some of the dancing reminds me of Hip Song. It being so reminiscent of Rain’s work is probably not an asset, but this song is better than what’s out there right now.
There are some parts of the choreography that are so great to look at when they’re all synchronized (ie, in the music video), but are disappointing me in the lives. MBLAQ is still really green on stage, and it shows. I know boy band dancing and staying in sync is a lot harder than viewers give performers for, but still, it’s messing up my enjoyment of their performances. That and Mir & Thunder are BLACK HOLES for this group. In my world, MBLAQ would just be Seungho, G.O. and Joon. And even Joon I’d urge him to tone down the try-hard, just a tad.
HOMIN’s “KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN”
Yes, I really don’t like this.
Let’s talk about this song isolated from whatever drama may have been associated with the whole comeback. When I first heard this song, I found it really reminiscent to two other Yoo Young-jin songs, “Hey! Don’t Bring Me Down” and “Man in Love” (SuJu). I like that it has a stark militaristic beat but this song is so piecemeal and so incomplete. It’s little fragments of ideas put haphazardly together.
The song is littered with things that are by themselves really great: the chorus, the fantastic drum beat all throughout, “나는 Keep it low 나는 Keep it low,” the little battle cry dancing at the end right before Changmin’s high note. But put all together, this song is incredibly messy and listening to it makes me feel really aggravated. There are too many mix of styles and for the first time, I feel that this mix of styles is really not something Yunho and Changmin in particular are very adept at adopting. They’re both good singers, but not much else in terms of manipulating their voices.
I find their rapping horrendous and the speak/talk/spit-words-out thing is really not working. Yunho’s adopted this horrible nasal thing ever since “Purple Line” and it exasperates me that he thinks it actually works and that people actually enjoy listening to him sing/talk like that. Changmin has no rapping skill whatsoever, and what’s more interesting to me is that his rap lines are so obviously laced with Yoo Young-jin’s own rapping that it really frustrates me as a regular SM follower and listeners. Yoo Young-jin’s involvement in this song goes so far beyond composing/producing — he raps, he narrates and it just feels like too many cooks in the kitchen. Maybe it’s because Yoo Young-jin is so desperate for some singing action and he knows he’ll never be as hot or can dance as well as the other idols that he can’t pursue the typical path of a singer. Maybe he also knows that two voices are not five, and he’s trying to fill that void. Whatever his thought process, I really don’t like the end result.
And then in terms of performances, I like what they’ve done to divvy up the spotlight between two members in the choreography. It’s fresh. What I don’t like is how Yunho dances. Changmin is fine, but he’s always been one of those idols who can dance because they’ve been disciplined to do so, not because they have an innate sense of rhythm. So I feel nothing, no attachment to his movement. Changmin has always had trouble controlling his pitch, and his screams on top of an already hectic song give me a headache, which says nothing for the absolute hate I have for Yunho’s nasal rapping. I wish they just SANG a song (a reason why I liked “Maximum” a lot more) instead of playing around with skills they obviously do not have.
At the end of the day, my biggest problem is how much of a mess Yoo Young-jin made with this song, and how his expectations really went against what HoMin are capable of after 7 years of performing as artists. Let’s not place HoMin’s capabilities in this song against what “could have” been had they had 3 extra members. Let’s just look at it and say that both Yunho and Changmin are stepping out of their comfort zone in terms of what they were required to do in this song. As someone who’s watched them perform for years now, it’s apparent to me that their greatest weaknesses as artists are magnified through this song.