So what’s a better way to spend the Thursday night of an extensively busy week? Listening to Big Bang’s first new Korean mini-album in two years! And criticizing the hell out of it of course. However, at Seoulbeats, we criticize because we love. I mean, it’s not like YG’s paying us to do this.
So, using the height of Google Chat (and email) technology, us writers got together, gave the six songs a listen, and indulged in some American Idol roleplaying. So without further dudes, the Seoulbeats Official Big Bang Review Roundtable!
Johnelle: Okay how should we do this ladies? Song by song and overall? Ashe what did you envision?
Annie: Go over each song? Give a rating each and add up the score? And of course commentaries.
Johnelle: What kind of rating scale 5 stars?
Annie: 1 star each- 1=like. 0.5= ok, 0=no likey!
Johnelle: Sounds good to you guys?
Patricia: Sounds excellent.
Annie: Lol less math.
Johnelle: No probs lets just start first song then? The intro.
Of course everyone could not participate in our lovely discourse – that’s what email is for! Additional writer commentary is in italics.
Our Dear Nia: So here’s my two cents on the mini-poop-album-thing. I’ve been clubbing in Europe since January so my opinions are skewed slightly haha.
Intro Thank You and You
Nadiyah: You’re welcome??
Nia: I liked it. Intros are always good, but I’m realizing this is because you don’t have to sustain creativity and spontaneity for more than a minute or so. Which isn’t terribly difficult for a music producer. It’s a good European club song.
Ashley: I give one star
Nadiyah: Random Q- what is GD spelling in the beginning? This will determine my score
Johnelle: I dig the beat and music for Thank You and You, the lyrics are a little repetitive being only what, a minute and half?
Ashley: It’s been 2 years i was looking for something more…explosive
Nadiyah: Ya it’s pretty chill for an intro
Annie: I give a 1 also. I dig it
Nadiyah: I give it a 1 because I have NO IDEA what GD is spelling in the beginning
Johnelle: Yeah, Big Bang and the best? lol
Patricia: Wait are we rating these from a 1-5 scale or a 0-1 scale?
Johnelle: I liked it probably second best of the whole album 1 star
Tthen we’ll add up our scores for the readers
Patricia: 0.50 for me
Johnelle: Lol had to listen to it like 3 times to get Big Bang
Nadiyah: A little mystery goes a long way with me– 1 pt. SAME!! Dae sounds excellent in it btw.
Johnelle: Duh, doesn’t he ALWAYS
Thank You and You rating: Annie- 1; Ashley-
1, 0.50 ; Johnelle- 1; Nadiyah- 1, 0.75; Patricia- 0.50 Total: 3.75
Kimberly: First listen.somehow contains traces of “Can’t Nobody”, complimentary to 2NE1’s offering at first listen.
Nia: Sucks. So boring, old-school techno and no one’s vocals have improved.
Dora: I have to say, I didn’t like it on my first listen. But after a couple more times on the bus home, it grew on me. Sometimes we have to give a song another listen to realize its awesomeness.
Nadiyah: Ok just to start- everrrbody say HEEEEEY HOOOOOOOO jk
Ashley: It’s catchy but it’s – ordinary
Patricia: It gets another 0.50 from me; at this rate I get the feeling I’ll be rating everything a 0.50. I generally like bouncy dance/club tracks, But dance/club songs are oftentimes forgettable.
Nadiyah: This song is weaksauce EXCEPT for TOP at approx 1:50 to 2:05
Johnelle: I wonder if they’re patterning it to Japan/rest of Asia’s tastes
Ashley: TOP gets a 1 for EVERYTHING
Nadiyah: I like that he is playing with his voice damnnn i want to give TOP a 1, but everyone else is sooooo weak and/or whiny-sounding
Johnelle: Yeah I like that part too, TOP- mmmm
Annie: TOP saved that part lol
Ashley: But the song – .50
Johnelle: Do you think our US tastes are just different than what is hot in Korea/Asia?
Nadiyah: Ashe did you give a NEGATIVE? ouch
Ashley: Oops it was just a dash wasn’t thinking lol
Ashley: I kind of want to be the Simon Cowell of the group though
Johnelle: Oh, oh I’m probably Paula then
Nadiyah: RANDY in the HOUSE
Annie: Steven! lol
Ashley: It doesn’t matter though cause the songs will all reach number one
Nadiyah: YO yo yo
Johnelle: I think a good performance could sway me though…
Patricia: Same I’m waiting for the music videos
Nadiyah: I don’t think it’s them producing more for Korean/Japanese audiences…Gara Gara Go was the SHIZNIT. Hands UP is just shiz…it sounds like something 2NE1 could have rocked, but there’s none of that BB ferocity, save for TOP, here
Hands Up rating: Annie- 0.25; Ashley-
1, 0.50; Johnelle- 0.50; Nadiyah- 0.50; Patricia- 0.50 Total: 2.25
Ashley: ( Simon): Next
Kimberly: Gets right into the clubby, dancey part of the album. YG seems to be churning out a lot of these lately (2NE1, Se7en…). Honestly, not really my cup of tea.
Nia: Not too bad, such a European dance song. It’s typical but I could see people enjoying this in a club.
Dora: Ever since the first teaser was unveiled, I knew Tonight was going to find a permanent spot on my iPod. It might not be their best title track ever, nor is it as explosive as Lies or Haru Haru, but Tonight sure is catchy enough a song for me.
Patricia: It sounds just like Seungri’s ‘What can I do’
Johnelle: Out of all these electronica/dance tracks I did probably like Tonight best
Patricia: Aand i liked that, so by default…
Nadiyah: Lyrically it’s fun too “We’re like a drained cola that’s lost its fizz” HAHA
Nadiyah: Seungri high voice= not cute
Johnelle: Yeah extra .025 for that one line 0.75!
Ashley: I think my problem is that all the dance/electronica is sounding the same
Patricia: But i mean doesn’t that apply to almost all dance music? The big mistake here is putting 6 dance tracks on one album
Johnelle: yeah I wish they mixed up the genres a bit more
Nadiyah: Tae+Dae harmony FTW tho
Johnelle: Again Nadiyah, duh
Ashley: TOP’s voice at the end
Nadiyah: I wish G-Dragon had saved “Baby Goodnight” for Big Bang rather than GDTOP
Annie: I just like that section they use for the teasers
Johnelle: I wish the baseline was stronger and the whole vibe not so high pitched
Johnelle: Loved Baby Goodnight
Nadiyah: I actually really appreciate the dance track
Nadiyah: It complements the actual singing 1 pt eg. “To- NI-IIII-IGHT” haha
Ashley: sigh… (.50)
Nadiyah: I feel like on Hands Up the track worked against the song somewhat or competed with it; anyway Tonight gets 1 pt from me next track?
Tonight rating: Annie- 0.75; Ashley- 0.50; Johnelle- 0.75; Nadiyah- 1; Patricia- 0.75 Total: 3.75
Somebody to Love
Patricia: What is with this title dudes
Ashley: Not the awesome Queen song
Nadiyah: Ya for real. Or Usher or the Biebs.
Kimberly: A minute into track three and I’m hoping this won’t be the last time I’m listening to the mini. I find myself reconciling this with the album’s stated genre or R&B/Dance Pop. This response reminds me of my initial reaction to “To Anyone”. Fortunately, 2NE1’s album didn’t turn out tooooo bad…
Nia: Sucks also. Uninteresting and basic.
Dora: Nothing bad, but nothing exceptionally interesting either, I’m sorry to say.
Ashley: Too much AUTOTUNE
Annie: I like how TOP sounds kinda drunk
Nadiyah: Yo YGE this song title is WHACK dude (that was my Randy voice btw)
Johnelle: I wish the music was different, I think it could’ve been a better song with a different beat
Nadiyah: AHH MEE TOO!!
Johnelle: Maybe it’ll get an awesome remix
Patricia: That’s what i was thinking, johnelle
Nadiyah: Dae sounds like he’s mixing in a little of his trot voice
Johnelle: Ah, great minds think alike
Nadiyah: I can appreciate that
Annie: .25 from me because i get irritated when one word/phrase is repeated a hundred times in a song
Johnelle: It could’ve done with a little less “Somebody to Loves”
Nadiyah: Yep this is a “Seungri” song
Nadiyah: Should have gone on his solo
Patricia: 0.50 – TOP saves it from 0.25-dom
Nadiyah: GD is pretty much useless on this track
Johnelle: I know I don’t love most of it , but I don’t hate it either
Ashley: You know, I might go into this later but i found GD useless on most the album (Simon) .25
Annie: Yes Ashe! Especially on Cafe
Nadiyah: SUCH a Simon
Johnelle: Bwahhahahah cmon Ashe he wrote all the lyrics and collaborated on all the music
Nadiyah: BUT He wrote it guyzzzzz
Ashley: Yeah alll that repetition
Johnelle: Uh, his pen slipped, yeah that’s it
Patricia: He can write all the music he wants but if he wants to be credited as a boyband member, he’d better be singing some, dammit
Nadiyah: G-Dragon- has the musical genius, but not the musical voice
Johnelle: He’s definitely a better rapper
Nadiyah: However, to play devil’s advocate
Johnelle: Ruh roh
Nadiyah: It seems that when GD is strong on a track the track is stronger? Just me dawgs?
Johnelle: Not gonna lie pretty much loved all of Heartbreaker
Nadiyah: (Ok I need to watch American Idol more for Randy-isms. Sorry!!) ME TOO and he and TOP were pretty rockin’ not gonna lie
Ashley: I think when he gets really into a song, you can tell
Ashley: I don’t know if he’s just being lazy on the group stuff or what
Somebody to Love rating: Annie- 0.25; Ashley- 0.25; Johnelle- 0.50; Nadiyah- 0.50; Patricia- 0.50 Total: 2.00
What is Right
Nadiyah: On What is Right “what is right”
Johnelle: Or what is wrong?
Nadiyah: “What is MEH” haha
Ashley: This is where it FINALLY started to pick up until the damn chorus
Kimberly: Now something more poppish… still not strong, gripping material. Could do with a few more listens.
Nia: Okay. Forgettable like this rest of this mini album, incidentally.
Dora: I was surprised because the song doesn’t sound much like Big Bang’s usual style, but it brings a lighter and more upbeat sound to the entire album.
Johnelle: You know I hate guys singing falsetto, but other than the beginning I liked the song
Nadiyah: They should have gotten rid of all of the guitar and gone a more acoustic route; I think it would have taken an emo feel instead or rather, MORE of an emo feel
Ashley: I’m just glad I’m not envisioning strobe lights with this
Johnelle: Opera claps
Annie: I’m a sucker for this kind of beat though
Nadiyah: I didn’t hear those until now
Patricia: 0.50 – I liked it enough but it just sounds so 90s….my heart cant handle the cheese factor
Ashley: Look man, the cheese factor is why I’m on this site ok
Nadiyah: For stages, if they rock it, 0.75
Nadiyah: But they better bring their SEXY
What Is Right rating: Annie-
1, 0.75; Ashley- 1, 0.75; Johnelle- 0.50; Nadiyah- 0.75, 1; Patricia- 0.50 Total: 3.50
Ashley: Well speaking of… ahem
Nadiyah: Smexxxxy Cafe LOL
Johnelle: Oh yeahhhhh
Kimberly: Groovy, now this is something I like… opening with TOP, don’t think anything could go wrong with that. Reminds me of some of their earlier compositions, from way back. My choice track of the album! But I have a feeling this song will be buried by livelier renditions of their dance poop, oops, pop tunes..
Nia: LOL at “Good times and shit” and TOP’s Candy Man voice followed by JYP status falsetto. Thanks Big Bang for that experience. Of course, since I love acoustic, instrumental focused pop/funk/r and b, I liked this beat the best. (By the way, Candy Man the horror film, not that Kpop song).
Dora: I’ve heard tons of positive comments about this song, so I was afraid of getting disappointed at first. But thank God, I LOVED the smooth vocals and rapping (ah…TOP, you make me swoon). This is probably my favourite in the album; can we have more of such??!
Annie: This song makes me want to get an ice cream cone so 1 from me
Nadiyah: 1 GD’s falsetto is pure WIN
Ashley: “Cafe” first place I’m going in South Korea
Nadiyah: “Espresso double shot” has never sounded hotter
Ashley: Roping up TOP first
Annie: GD’s falsetto almost ruined it for me
Nadiyah: Dae is getting groooovy y’all holler
Johnelle: Yeah falsettos, but he did alright 1
Patricia: I don’t know, I though it was good, but only comparatively speaking
Nadiyah: It balanced out TOP’s Barry White
Johnelle: I think this is Dae-dae’s type of music. It is neo-soulish
Ashley: This is what I would have liked to have heard more of
Patricia: Daesung made this for me; otherwise I wasn’t impressed
Patricia: …even though I typically dig this kind of music, which is weird
Nadiyah: I hope Dae’s solo is ALL neo-seoul then
Nadiyah: It was probably the falsetto LOL
Annie: GD singing in a GD album is acceptable but when he’s got 4 other guys who could do better, he needs to step back
Ashley: Everyone can’t do falsetto GD
Patricia: GD/Seungri/Tae’s voices are high enough as is; falsetto usage = unnecessary and ineffective
Ashley: Especially when you’re a guy past the age of 10
Nadiyah: C’mon he barely looks a day over 12
Annie: .75 for cafe because GD was that bad
Nadiyah: Harsh dude Steven, you’re all about falsettos man
Annie: Cuz I’m Steven Tyler
Johnelle: C’mon Steven it was sexy though!
Ashley: TOP saved it for me 1
Ashley: I predict he will win this competition
Nadiyah: For the 0.75
Cafe rating: Annie-
1, 0.75; Ashley- 1; Johnelle- 1; Nadiyah- 1, 0.75, 1; Patricia- 1 Total: 4.75
Johnelle: Okay so on a scale of 1-5 stars what would each of you give the album as a whole and
what are your overall thoughts?
Nadiyah: Did you see my macro? High expectations Asian father is DISAPPOINT y’all
Nadiyah: Again, disappointed but not totally displeased after looking over all of my Big Bang discography
Nadiyah: I realized I’ve never loved all tracks on a single album of theirs
Annie: Overall I’ll probably forget the whole album by next week
Nadiyah: I give this album a 3
Ashley: I’m a pretty recent kpop fan but from what I understand their early stuff was more…rhythmic
Nadiyah: Album #1 was my fave probably because Big Bang just arrived on the kpop scene (or universe HAR HAR) so they sounded new and fresh
Johnelle: Yeah album #1 is my fave too.
Nadiyah: Dawgs I don’t think it’s a departure I think they just haven’t had the time to produce a quality album that features them all to the best of their abilities and also challenges them.
Annie: Steven gives it a 2
Patricia: 1.5. Half stars are allowed, right? If not, you can round it up to a 2
Johnelle: It’s only when I get to geometry that the math goes downhill.. I too was a little disappointed, but I didn’t hate it. I wonder sometimes if we expect too much. It’s not easy to write a song
ashley: Well they’ve been acting like they’ve been in the studio forever
Johnelle: I mean are we expecting them to change the face of Kpop with something so new and groundbreaking?
Ashley: Hey they said it….
Patricia: It’s just the paradox between the ridiculous amounts of hype and the quality of the actual product but then again YG is like, the king of hype so it’s expected
Kimberly: One live perf could make a difference to my criticisms though. We’ll see!
Nia: Def not good enough after such a long absence. I know Big Bang isn’t focusing on their music as a group much but could YG have had a producer on this? Anyway, Big Bang should focus on Europe, I know the Spanish would be all over this shit in las discotecas haha.
Dora: Overall, I thought the album was actually just listenable, but Tonight and Café pretty much saved it. These two songs are probably the main reasons why I’m actually going to fork out money to buy the album when its released over here. I may have expected a little more from Big Bang after two years of waiting, but considering that it’s only a mini-album and we haven’t seen their comeback stages yet, I guess Big Bang still hasn’t lost their touch!
Johnelle: I know a lot of us said we wanted the old Big Bang back, but they can’t be stuck in the past either
Nadiyah: I don’t think when I said I wanted “old Big Bang” that I wanted the same sounds I think I just wanted that raw energy where they were trying new things and putting random songs and sounds on the albums and tracks
Johnelle: I think I just wanted a more hip hop vibe, stronger bass lines
Nadiyah: I want clever lyrics HERRO GD
Johnelle: Some dance is ok, but Big bang is hip hop
Ashley: It feels almost like they went more in Seungri’s direction
Nadiyah: So. Good. EXACTLY
Ashley: and put all the cool songs on the GDTOP album
Nadiyah: Seungri has always been the weakest link to me– he just seems so cookie-cutter. Give him something to dance or sing and he will do it. Put him on a variety show and he will imitate his hyungs’ voices and share secrets. But he has no individual personality or style. Hence, a cookie cut from the dough of KPOP.
Johnelle: Ah, but Strong Baby was a killer
Nadiyah: A total JT knock off and I LURVED it and still play it regularly(it’s the clap track, i swear)
Ashley: Also I’m just gonna say it guys……. 2ne1 beat them
Ashley: Beat them in the mini-album game
Nadiyah: OH NOES DAWG you WENT there
Ashley: I mean neither were GREAT but..
Nadiyah: “here go hell come”
Johnelle: The TOP lover went there
Nadiyah: (do any of you watch “the fashion show”?!!)
Ashley: Hey i speak the TRUTH – Nadiyah no but that made me laugh
Johnelle: Not that I don’t love 2NE1, but they beat their hoobaes? Strike that sunbaes?
Ashley: Just in…album production… having a cohesive album…that i like more than one song on
Johnelle: I was thinking, you know how they changed the album from a full to a mini with another coming out later, do you think maybe they were testing the waters?
Ashley: Well I say they need to get back on the boat
Nadiyah: GD has stretched himself too thin he needs to take a breather from KPOP from JPOP
Ashley: What about Teddy?
Johnelle: Was he on this album a lot?
Nadiyah: I don’t know haha
Ashley: First mistake
Johnelle: But hasn’t everyone been saying that Teddy has been there too much and his beats were getting to be all the same?
Nadiyah: I’m listening to “She Can’t Get Enough”and HOT DAYUM they need to get back their swagger
Ashley: So any last thoughts?
Nadiyah: I don’t think my poor VIP heart can take any more haterade ahem criticism haha even from myself! I think that’s the thing with me and Big Bang music
Johnelle: I’m a little disappointed, but I know some of the songs can grow on me especially with a good performance
Nadiyah: I’ll find parts of songs I love and it makes the song for me and I think that it all lies in the fact that they can be so, so good
Ashley: I think its also cause a lot of people really like the guys themselves and their style
Nadiyah: And we get a glimpse of their (GD’s?!) genius in bits and pieces
Ashley: So we’re rootin’ for them
Johnelle: Yeah, I even have a new respect for Seungri
Nadiyah: But I kind of like that they aren’t slick and perfect like, for example, DBSK (when they were 5 may they RIP)
Overall rating: Annie- 2; Ashley- 2.5 ; Johnelle- 3.75; Nadiyah- 3.00; Patricia- 1.5
Finally, (yes, it’s almost over) a few words from our lovely matriarch, Amy, who had insightful opinions as well (Amy, I mean the word matriarch in a good way…)
I’ll get a lot of flack for this but i think the only only true soloist is G-Dragon. I LOVE Taeyang, but he lacks charisma for me so I like him more when I’m listening to his studio stuff than when I’m watching him live. Seungri has gotten really horrible with his ego and it’s just really distracting. Top, I’ve actually seen perform solo so few times that I can’t gauge, but I feel like he NEEDS G-Dragon next to him to lead in a rap/performance. I liked “Turn it up” but being good in a music video doesn’t equal super stage presence. (he did “Rise and Fall” with Hyunjoong (ss501) eons ago and it was really not good because I felt he wasn’t commanding enough). As for Daesung, i dunno. i love his voice, his dancing, and his persona, but I’m just not very interested in him as a soloist.
So, that’s a long rant, but I do think all this concentrated effort in bringing out G-Dragon (and Taeyang and Top) for the past 1-2 years has swayed the group away from a certain 5-membered magic. It’s like Justin Timberlake going back to ‘N Sync and the five reuniting as a group. There are such distinct entities within the group, and some members who have so much “more” than the other members that it’s weird and awkward for me to watch as a casual fan, as someone who doesn’t love them unconditionally.
There it is – those are our thoughts, but I’m sure YG isn’t too concerned because the mini-album is selling bukoos, so congratulations to them. To be honest, we’re all waiting for that comeback performance!