20120514_seoulbeats_2pm_taecyeonAs spring began to burn up into summer of May 2011, 2pm literally took off for a Japanese debut with their break out number “Take Off.” After spending a considerable amount of time overseas (and by considerable I mean six original Japanese songs, not to mention Japanese remake material, two Japanese studio albums, and three Japanese music tours), it is needless to say 2PM and JYPE delegated a lot of love to Japan.

Other than their brief Korean comeback stint with “Hands Up” in the June of 2011, 2PM has otherwise been MIA from the K-pop scene, but not without good reason. However, all the time spent away has definitely made the Hottest heart grow fonder.

And because we’ve all been waiting around so long for this comeback, there’s no need for me to delay us with any more of an introduction.

Music video #1: 이 노래를 듣고 돌아와 (Comeback When You Hear This Song)

Like every other diehard Hottest who’s had a Hottest heart beating a Hottest pulse into their body since the moment “10 Points out of 10” first dropped, you know what this moment feels like. The initial reception of the MV: immaculate, utter screaming perfection, because albeit the blatant points of criticism, dammit, 2PM is back! (It was almost worse than this EXO debacle…)

But in all seriousness, these comeback MVs have a lot of strong points and other weaker ones worth pointing out. “Comeback When You Hear This Song” quickly falls into the storyline of the classic relationship gone south. The artistic point to this MV is the inclusions of the seven deadly sins (gluttony, pride, lust, greed, sloth, wrath, and envy) and the ways in which they corrupt a relationship. And it’s not necessarily a bad plot bunny, but not necessarily one with the most substance when it comes to execution (honestly, the code teasers had more depth than this actual MV).

When the needle first dropped on the track though,  the sound was clean, refreshing, and a clear testament to 2PM’s broad vocal abilities. I mean, even Chansung can hold a note a little better than he could some odd years ago, so in some ways they’ve also improved. The track immediately began to echo similarities to “Tired of Waiting” And “I Was Crazy About You” in that there are depressive undertones masked behind a more aggressive front. But “Comeback When You Hear This Song” is different in that it is more uplifting.

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And we know this because each of the six members as well as the female lead own up to a particular sin. Thus the story is not about assigning blame but realizing that anyone in a relationship is susceptible to error. This is where the song gets its endearing soul, and overall, the song left me content. Though I don’t know if I could say the same about the cinema.

20120514_seoulbeats_2pm_wooyoungWhile I’ve always appreciated JYP‘s ability to shell out a good wardrobe (except for maybe during “I’ll Be Back”), I did think production was a little cheesy in some sense. The CGI speakers and the sound waves really worked to further that point, and it’s a shame because I think the entire production would have taken no toll in leaving them out. Also, was no one getting flashbacks to Rain‘s “Love Sound” MV with the roof shots? I was just waiting for Taecyeon to rip off a tank and start grinding on the roof.

That being said, I appreciate the more choreo-intensive shots in the MV, because it seems like somewhere between “Without U” and “Hands Up” everyone forgot that 2PM debuted with a performance angle and is largely part of the reason they exploded on the radar. These choreo shots reveal a lot of growth in precision and group chemistry that I think the boys regained during their time in Japan.

Going back to wardrobe, I really need to hand it to whoever actually slapped these outfits together. I loved the suspenders, the slacks, the vests, the careful attention to accessory, even Taecyeon’s bolo tie; everything falls into a place that flatters both the emotion of the song and the approach of the choreography.

Overall: 3.5/5

But while I was more than ecstatic when the MV dropped last week, I still felt like something was missing from the presentation; in some way, I couldn’t help but shake that some part of the integral appeal of 2PM was being glazed over. And then came “A.D.T.O.Y.”

SURPRISE Music video #2: 하.니.뿐. (A.D.T.O.Y.)

You only need to watch “A.D.T.O.Y.” (short for “All Day Thinking of You,” the same way “하.니.뿐” stands for “하루 종일 니 생각
뿐이야”) to know immediately that this is the real deal. Not only are the sets more extravagant, but the choreography is on another level, as is the overall appeal. Lyrically, “A.D.T.O.Y.,” at it’s core, is any other love jingle. But the production of the song itself creates a certain kind of expedience to the chorus that underwrites ecstasy and impatience. It is dark, laden with want, but chimes perfectly to the beats of an expertly catchy rhythm.

20120513_seoulbeats_2PM_chansungWhat I love even more about “A.D.T.O.Y.” is the way in which 2PM’s youthful charm is still able to surface through their bold masculinity, because for me this balance is what 2PM excels in. For instance, the wardrobe is already telling of this–short sleeves, denim, simple cottons, the sneakers, Wooyoung‘s beanie, Changsung‘s belt, Khun‘s cuff–but it’s balanced against much more mature images, such as Wooyoung lying shirtless in bed (yum), Taec feeding the female lead a strawberry, Junho getting frisky in the back of a car, and so on.  Stylistically, I’m in love.

As for the number, I think this song accomplishes a lot more than “Comeback When You Hear This Song” does, and for a lot of reasons. The first being the choreography is fantastic. The use of the chairs does a better job of recalling 2PM’s performance forte than does a stair set, while the choreography itself channels a new edge. It is much more intricate and emotional, and is careful to slow down at times and capture a more sensual advance that furthers the passion of the song.

The speed and breaks in choreography do not, however, forsake a sense of ability. Rather I would argue they underscore it. This is a group of six grown guys who started with acrobatics, fell in to shuffle stepping, and eventually succumbed to run of the mill pop choreo. But here it is evident the ways in which the choreography as become more complex and effusive (again, the success of which I attribute to their effort in Japan) and speaks more to name 2PM than what we’ve seen from them in recent years.

And again, referencing the song on it’s own, it narrows in on an approach that puts 2PM in a more familiar cadence, and this works to their advantage–you literally feel their confidence (however contrived in acting it may be) just oozing out the MV. Thematically, this is content they’ve been doing since day one, but their growth and honed skills from over the years blossoms a lot more evidently than it did before. Lyrically it is a better balance than “Comeback When You Hear This Song” (at the very least, Taec is actually useful in the song structure) and musically, it’s more original.

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Another reason I need to gush over “A.D.T.O.Y.”  is because it really is “Again and Again” all grown up, which makes a nostalgic fan like myself a very, very happy camper. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that “A.D.T.O.Y.” was supposed to be the original comeback release and “Comeback When You Hear This Song” was  intended as a follow up, because comparing the two, that could be very likely. JYP, however, was smart about this, if that truly were the case. “Comeback When You Hear This Song” was enjoyable but also predictable in some sense, a fair reminder that the boys are a K-pop group. But nothing could have prepared me for “A.D.T.O.Y.,” which ultimately proves to be more representative of 2PM at the top of their game.

Overall: 4/5

(jypentertainment, YouTube)