As spring drifts away, and summer begins, it’s time for more melodious and light music. B.A.P latest special single, B.A.P Unplugged 2014, is a nice addition to the airiness of the season.
Listeners that follow the group are well aware of their vast array of interests. This is particularly true of leader Bang Yong-guk, whose artistic pursuits go beyond hip-hop and pop music. B.A.P will continue to try new things, and in all likelihood, will return to their harder roots in their next release, just as they’ve done before. In the meantime, B.A.P Unplugged 2014 offers a summer respite from the pop cacophony.
Consisting of only two tracks, plus an instrumental of the lead track, there aren’t many songs to discuss. As the single’s name suggests, the tracks are instrumentally light with the vocals being smooth and simple. Essentially the group has “unplugged” from heavy instruments and vocals. The album showcases the sleekness of B.A.P’s performance, including Himchan and Jongup, who are continuing to sing more lines.[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDYB8TbLFiA]
Be warned: “Where Are You? What Are You Doing?” is cute. If you don’t like B.A.P being cute and adorable, this is not the MV for you. Just back away slowly and go watch “One Shot.” Beginning with an amusing phone booth scene, we follow B.A.P around London as they take in different sites in a rather ridiculously cute fashion. The MV serves as one gigantic tourism commercial for London. (If any Londoners recognize the less obvious sites, please tell us all, for future reference.)
Bouncing from coffee shops, talking in red phone booths and riding double-decker buses, B.A.P show their dorky personalities. Rather, it’s the genius duo of Himchan and Jongup, Youngjae’s bright red suspenders, or Yongguk trying to hide behind his hand, we see the foolish side of the group again, such as we did in “Stop It.” There are too many scenes to discuss when describing the cuteness of the MV.
The editing for the MV is pretty spot on. The scenes are – almost – completely connected to each other. Phone conversations lead to another phone conversation. A person picking up something in a store leads to the person in front of the attraction. Members with lines following each other are within the same space. This interconnected way of editing smooths out transitions and ensures practically equal screen time.
The opening scene was actually rather fitting in relation to the music: the boys impatiently waiting for Daehyun to get off the phone (probably ordering cheesecake), while a lone harmonica plays like something from a Western jailhouse scene.
Oh, the harmonica! When was the last time a harmonica was used in a K-pop song? Seriously, has this ever happened? If not, then B.A.P should be happy they are the first. Harmonicas aren’t exactly pop instruments – typically relegated to rock, folk, and country music – so the pronounced inclusion of one is different. Different in a good way, as it is another example of B.A.P willingness to step outside the K-pop bubble and venture into different genre territory.
Of course there is an acoustic guitar, drums, and bass included in the track, but the harmonica is the star. I even think there may be a fiddle included in the track, which is very nice. The instrumentation is so classic country that it’s rather enjoyable and stands up among the usual instruments we hear.
The cuteness of the MV, and upbeat nature of the song, effectively hides the relative sadness of the lyrics. With their smiling faces, you wouldn’t think the song is about missing a girl. They feel awkward without her by their side, and wonder about how she’s doing.
Despite this, it’s almost impossible not to nod and whistle along to the song.[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKBZexe-2h8]
While “Where Are You? What Are You Doing?” was filled with some unhappy lyrics, “Definitely Today” is the opposite. The track is a sweet confession. The singer agonizes over the decision on confess their feelings, and worry about reciprocation. Yet, the guy makes the decision to tell the girl his feelings of love. Zelo‘s cute “I want to kiss it,” near the end, will probably get some fangirls in a bit of a frenzy.
With a jazzy feel to the music, “Definitely Today” invites you to snap along to the rim shots. The only electric instruments present are a bass and keyboard. This allows the precision of the acoustic guitar to carry the track along. I would almost venture to state that the song reminds me of typical ballads of the 1990s – in particular the chorus of “To Be With You” by MR.BIG, with a little less rock. The extra harmonious backing only adds to the classic aura being given off by the song.
Not everyone is going to be pleased with the single, since you can’t please everyone. Some are lamenting that B.A.P has lost their strong, confrontational mentality. Others claim B.A.P Unplugged 2014 is the latest effort in the group’s steady decline since their “Warrior” and “Power” days. However, the charts would disagree. It remains to be seen how they will do with the single, but rest assured, they aren’t going to do horribly.
B.A.P’s new single will put you in a very relaxed state and makes for great driving music. The one complaint is the shortness. B.A.P could have used this opportunity to fully unleash their soft bunny sides on their BABYz. A full album, or at least a mini, would have been greatly appreciated and enjoyed. The group showed that they really are versatile and have something for everyone. Although light on tracks and in sound, B.A.P Unplugged 2014 is heavy in likability.
MV Rating: 4/5
Album Rating: 4/5