Beast has come a long way since their debut back in 2009. Labeled initially as a “recycled” band, they were still highly anticipated as rookies. The first two years have been hectic for the boys, their activities and promotional cycles leaving little room to breathe. They put all their effort in their music, as well as improving and staying relevant in a sea of rookies, with the obvious disadvantage of coming from a small-roster company. Their material, surprisingly, wasn’t all over the place and with time, Beast shaped their style into a coherent, beautifully rounded musical signature. Today, we’re going to focus on Beast’s sensitive core and take a look at their ballads and slower songs.
Their first mini-album, Beast is the B2st, received mild reactions. They had a following, but “Bad Girl” didn’t say much and “Mystery” was still not there. We had a glimpse of what the boys could do, but none of the tracks managed to set Beast apart from the others. The ballads though were more representative for them. “Oasis” embellishes the sound of the album with a tender piano line and puts the autotune to rest. It’s a song which brought forth the members’ talent, but shed light also over Beast’s rougher edges, offering a complete image of what the group consisted of in their beginnings. The lyrics are dramatic, with sweet and sad undertones. Thought it was bit cheesy, the ballad came across as soulful and heartfelt.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOcFrrXwBX4&w=560&h=315]
If they started off somewhat on the right foot, Shock of the New Era will leave no doubt the group is here to stay. The album will further solidify Beast’s fandom with “Shock” and “Take Care of My Girlfriend.” My favorites, though, were in a different section. The intro, “Just Before Shock” was released unfortunately as a teaser — and I say unfortunately because this had the potential of an amazing song. The ballad’s composition slowly builds up to the climax, with a refined piano line that glues the pieces together, culminating with Yo-seob’s anguish-loaded singing. Jun-hyung’s softened, but still tense rap reinforces the feeling of the song, with his deep, sorrowful voice. “Just before Shock” shows considerable improvement: the guys are versatile and can put their skills to better use. So if you don’t remember the men of Beast being literally on fire, let me just remind you:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqcoBDBw9ZY&w=560&h=315]
By the time I got to “Easy,” I really began to believe that mellow songs suited Beast so much better than up-tempo pop tracks, a belief I’m holding to the very present. The orchestration is impressive: the piano is responsible for the nostalgic feel of the song, while the violins create the tension and emphasize the dramatic atmosphere. The toned-down musical line amplifies the effect of their voices and gives a melodramatic touch to the original song. While initially it wasn’t officially promoted, its ‘sincere version’ was digitally released as a single and it’s definitely worth a listen.
It seems fashionable for Beast to use as an intro what could be the best track of the album. “Lights Go On Again” was just an intro, until somebody talked some sense into Beast and we had a full version with their next album. The ballad is soothing and optimistic and the simplicity makes it look like a modest, lighthearted song. The rap’s whispery quality matches the acoustic guitar. The snapping-fingers beats complement the smooth, gentleman-like aspect of the melody. From the same album, it’s worth also mentioning the effort from Doojoon‘s and Dongoon’s side, who released “When the Door Closes.” The two harmonize for a touching ballad about the improbability of closure, being stuck with overwhelming memories. Although they quietly let go of their girlfriend(s), they cry secretly and leave the door open if she ever changed her mind. The piano and Beast strengthened their relationship once more for this sorrow-filled song and I can’t help but root for the two to never break up:[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuD5W89ARKk&w=560&h=315]
Personally (as in don’t-kill-me-please-kind of personally), I believe Beast hit the final mile in crafting their unique identity with Fact and Fiction. With each release, they showed improvement, became more certain of what they want to do and finally reached their goal with this full-length album. Besides the promotional tracks, noteworthy ballads completed their musical release. My love for this boy group reached unreachable heights with “You.” Optimistic and refreshing, Beast went for a different formula and offered us a strikingly beautiful and emotional song. The voices on this one sounded amazing and mad props for Dong-woon — it was the first time when I actually fell for his voice. The lyrics tell the story of a shy boy, who doesn’t have the courage of confessing, giving the track a cute, air-headed vibe, whilst keeping its strength.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfqbNQEtDY0&w=560&h=315]
Beast’s ballads aren’t very stuffed, neither in terms of lyrics or composition. I’d say actually that the lyrics aren’t necessarily what I haven’t heard before; they’re not innovative or melodramatic. But the way they carry on with simple, yet expressive wording and a compliant, smooth background track maximizes the emotional effect of the songs. This is the case with “When I Miss You” from their latest album. To me, this track was what kept a sense of consistency and eased my way into Beast’s new sound.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hghdXd3kNBo&w=560&h=315]
Before ending my list of unpromoted songs from Beast’s discography, I’d like to mention also “Yet,” “Back to You,” “On Rainy Days” and “It’s Not Me,” which didn’t necessarily qualify for this Side B, but are all great works from our favorite boys. And that’s a wrap-up, Seoulmates! Got any recommendations? What got you into Beast in the first place?