Saturday, October 31, 2009

Interview: Logan Lynn

I bring you guys yet another interview! Yay!Logan Lynn may be virtually unknown to the mainstream music scene but around the indie music circles, he's one of the biggest things ever. With acclaimed reviews for his newest release From Pillar To Post coming in from all around the world (and the internet) and the video for his lead single Write it On My Left Arm debuting on MTV, there's no doubt that this guy will be here for years to come. So here's what materialized when I picked his brains. Hahah. Enjoy!

1. For my readers who haven't heard of you yet, how would you describe yourself as an artist and your music?

I think it’s safe to call what I do electropop, but I tend to explore the darker side of things lyrically and write about what’s real to me at any given time. Over the past decade since I released my first record my sound has evolved from a very stripped, lo-fi experience into what it is today. I think it’s much more musical now than ever before on the instrumental side, due to my working with such talented people in recent years instead of trying to do it all myself. It’s given me the chance to focus on the parts I am good at and let my collaborators handle the elements which fall under their expertise. It's made the finished product more polished, full sounding...bigger.

2. To you, what is the most important element of a song - the instrumentation, the melody, the lyrics or what? Why?

For me, it’s the lyrics and melody. When I listen to other people’s music that is what I am paying most attention to...do their lyrics make me cringe? If not, I listen further. If so, it’s over almost immediately.

Most of my songs start as words on a page, then morph into vocal melodies with my keyboard, then get reworked and remixed by a producer in the studio once the collaboration begins...but I’m rooted firmly on the lyrical/vocal end, however the song is created, and always retain total control over those elements. I feel like that is the key ingredient for the connections I’ve made with my listeners. They are tuned in to hear something honest, so I try and write things as they are, whether that makes me look good or not.

3. What do you think the pop music industry right now lacks?

I think right now is a time in the industry where there really are no limits, from a consumer perspective AND as an artist. Whatever a listener wants to find, they can do so almost immediately with the click of the mouse. I think, if anything, the music industry lacks ingenuity in adapting to the digital age on a whole. With the way things are now, bands and labels really have to chart a new course with their fans and markets in order to keep up with how quickly the technology is changing. The big business middle men are becoming less important as direct relationships with fans are easier to cultivate. I actually think this is a good thing...the old walls of the old way of doing things have been broken down and it’s left an open window for creative musicians with good songs and no budget to get noticed and have their music heard.

4. Reviews of your new album compared you to a lot of established artists, how you do feel about being compared to them?

Yeah, it’s been great to get the response we’ve gotten so far in the press. I’m obviously honored to be compared to people who I have respect for and actually listen to myself! I am thrilled for fans of those comparison bands to find me by way of them. I'll take it.

5. What aspect of you career do you put the most importance on? Why?

I want to make songs that people can relate to, in part because I love making music and in part because it helps shrink my world to a manageable size. When someone connects with my tunes I receive that as a direct connection with me and it makes me feel less alone...like I’m a part of something larger than just me alone in the world. It’s hard to explain, but that’s what I’m in it for.

6. If you were to enter the industry not as a singer, what would you be - a songwriter, producer, record executive?

If I lost my voice tomorrow I’d probably still want to be a songwriter...I mostly have interest in the musical side of things in the industry, so I can’t imagine that I’d pursue being an executive of anything where I couldn’t wear jeans and a hat everyday to work. I can see myself producing for others (and myself) later down the road if the right project came my way. At this point, I’m still learning a lot about how it all works and am happy to be doing what I’m doing.

7. Your new album, From Pillar To Post, was pre-released a while back and is gonna be officially released in late November. What do you want to achieve with this album?

I’d love for it to be heard and for people to like having heard it...plain and simple. Beyond that, everything is gravy.

8. In the near future, would you like to be signed to one of the Big 4 labels? Why or why not?

Not if they are going to tell me what to do and put me in some uncomfortable box. The good thing about “Beat The World” is that they sign individuals and encourage them to stay that way. They gave me the opportunity to develop themselves, not be turned into something some focus group says I should be in order to sell more records and make them more money. I am totally happy with where I’m positioned in label land for the moment and wouldn't change a thing.

9. How do you want your music to grow or change as you release more material? Do you want to do one thing now and a completely different thing the next time or would you want to slowly and consciously change or something else?

I tend to mix it up and changing my sound with each release...the basic properties of my songs remain the same, but the music changes as I work with different producers on projects and my writing changes as I grow...I just want every record I make to be better than the last. If I can keep that up, I’ll be happy.

10. What do you want to be remembered for in the next 10 or 20 years?

I’d like to be remembered for making records that matter...for being brave in my songwriting and not holding back. I want people to remember the truth about me, whatever that turns out to be over the next 10 to 20 years.

Find Logan Online:
Official Website
Facebook
Twitter
MySpace

Michael Jackson.

A short post. Hahah.

I didn't grow up during the age of Thriller, I didn't grow up listening to MJ playing wherever I went and I wasn't exposed to that much Michael Jackson as a kid. I knew he existed and I knew people called him the king of pop but the first encounter of mine with his music that I actually remember was when I watched a video of Shane Westlife saying his favorite video was Thriller in 6th grade and they showed a clip of it. I didn't like it, I'm sorry.

When he passed away, I tweeted the RIP MJ and was shocked and all but I wasn't crying like crazy or anything. It took me until my mom dragged me to watch the premiere of This Is It that I realized exactly why people went crazy over this death. I'd heard all the songs before, I have my favorites but I treated the guy like every other pop star, until I watched that movie. I'd never seen him live and I'd never bothered because I wasn't interested in most of his recordings but I now realize that not watching him live was one of the biggest mistakes ever.

The guy is everything pop should be. He knows his music jargon and technical side, he knows how to make beautiful music and he's a performer. Pop music isn't meant to be just listened to - it's meant to be watched. Pop music is a spectacle, a show - it's superficial and over the top. MJ is a spectacle, everything about the guy is a show in itself. He can stand on a stage and that would be the entire show - that's what a pop star should be. Pop music is not about the music and I hate that but I have to acknowledge this guy for trying hard to put the music in pop and succeeding pretty damn well.

Watching that movie made all the other artists seem inferior to him because his performances looked so effortless that my jaw was dropping. He knows his music, he's not blind to music terms and REAL music but he is what he is and that's a pop star. Now I REALLY know why all the artists now look at him as an icon and with so much reverence. I may only like a few of his songs but I have the deepest respect for Michael Jackson.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Beast - Beast is the B2ST

Apologies for all the late reviews, I'm sure you guys know how stressful school can be!
Before any material from either of the new boybands - MBLAQ or Beast (formerly B2ST) had been released, I bet that MBLAQ would reign the new boybands of 2009. I was wrong - Beast will. Although their debut single is a bit generic and not extremely good, it's a lot better than the crappy Oh Yeah that MBLAQ actaully think will be a hit. So now, I've put all my bets behind Beast.

This release is not pop heaven or the most musically outstanding album in the entire world - it's what it's supposed to be and that's a standard, competently executed K-pop release. No one's saying this is genius but no one can say these guys didn't try to make a decent album.

Bad Girl, the aforementioned debut single, is not the best thing in the world but it's not the worse either. It's what sells in Korea right now and it's what will eventually lead them to music supremacy one of these days. They'll look back at this song and not say anything exceptionally good musically but won't insult it and call it crap either - it's what sells right now and what these boys want is to sell, right? Right. Compared to the MBLAQ single, the one thing that's musically good about this is the fact that it actually has a melody you can actually SING and/or HUM along to. It's not a bunch of random words thrown together and made into a chant put on top of a loop. Bad Girl is a SONG, it may not be technically or musically outstanding but judging by the fact that hardly anyone puts out actual songs right now, I gotta commend these guys.

My one problem with the song though is in the music video and when they do it live, the dance break chops the song up. The transition from song to dance break is not cohesive with the instrumentation or the melody when it should be because it's still a part of the song. It's the dead air. But otherwise, good job guys, you have pulverized MBLAQ and sent them running back to Rain.

Mystery is one of those Korean tehcno/R&B songs I just don't like no matter how hard I try. It's not that bad though. The next track 아직은 is one of those R&B pseudo-ballads. It's nice and sweet, the melody's verging on beautiful and the instrumentation actually goes somewhere and doesn't just stay in the same place going on and on and on throughout the whole song! That's a relief.

The last track, Oasis, is gorgeous. I like the real drums even if you can only really clearly hear them at the start and I like the piano - you guys know I'm a sucker for beautiful piano and/or string sections on a pop song (sort of as a homage to my childhood since I grew up surrounded by pop music and orchestras at the same time.. hahah.), right? The instrumentation pretty much stays where it is from start to finish but it's the melody that really steals you away on this number, it will make you fall at your feet. The vocals are competent, nothing to scream about and sometimes they can get really nasal but at least these guys can hold more than a few notes. They also happen to know how to sing together, unlike some of the newer girl groups (*AHEM* Ham *AHEM*) - hurrah! The only things terribly wrong with this song are the crap English lines throughout the chorus but otherwise, be prepared to at least acknowledge the guys for a job pretty well done.

3.8/5 Good but nothing special musically - does the trick and sells the group though.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SeeYa - His Voice

I first wrote about SeeYa back during the k-pop special when I knew very little about how the industry worked and what being in certain talent companies meant to your success. Let's just say that SeeYa aren't under SM, JYP OR YG.

The girls are back with a new single His Voice and it's literally nothing like what they used to be. It's a lot like Hot Girl though, following the trend of K-pop at the moment which is, I hope you don't mind me saying this but, pop songs with heavily auto-tuned vocals and instrumentals that go on and on and on that are meant to stick in your head for weeks. A while back as well, one of the members left the 3-piece and with the release of this new single introduced a new member to the group. I have two theories on the girls - one is K-pop centric and the other one isn't.

SeeYa used to be a ballad-centric band, the girls are known for stronger than strong vocals that can pull of difficult ballads like a bunch of amateurs can pull off an auto tuned number. His Voice is techno, Eurocrap and autotuned beyond belief that the girls' vocals sound like crap. Does that transformation ring a bell? They're going for none other than what The Brown Eyed Girls did with How Come and now Abracadabra. Their talent company must've thought "Hey, if The Brown Eyed Girls can come from a God forsaken talent company and transform from ballad singers with little publicity to one of Korea's biggest girl groups, why can't SeeYa?" Needless to say, these girls are cashing in on what The Brown Eyed Girls did - have I ever said that pop is all about copying someone else?

My second theory is this. One of the original members left a while back and with this new album she was replaced by a new girl. Once again, does that event sound like a certain British 3-piece girl group? Of course it does. I think in some way, shape or form and whether these girls like it or not they're going to be the Sugababes of Korea. 3 girls, one already left and was rather coldly replaced with someone else willing to fill in the spot. I swear, if another one of the original members leaves within the next few years I'm publicizing this theory until everyone agrees with me! Hahah.

On to the song. I said a while ago that this song is so auto-tuned that you'd think these girls absolutely cannot sing at all. I wasn't exaggerating. Seriously, the song screams lousy auto-tune with another cheap, tasteless and overused loop for an instrumental. Horrid excise for a single, really. The song as a whole is just like its instrumental - cheap, tasteless and overused. But I bet it'll be a moderate hit at the very least because the hook is infectious. I gotta hand it to the girls, the hook may be as annoying as hell but at least it has a melody. BUT, the majority of the song still sounds crap.

2/5

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Saturdays - Wordshaker

I'M BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK! My final exams are done and I just have one stupid practical exam to worry about so technically I'm freeeeeeeeee!! FINALLY! I know it's really, really, REALLY SUPER LATE but it's better than no review at all!
I first heard the Saturdays' Wordshaker very early in the month but as you guys know, I was far too busy to even think of reviewing a full album that that point. When I first spun the album, I thought it was brilliant - the girls were in for some praise from me. However when the excitement over the fact that it was a new album from The Sats died down a bit, I took the time to listen to it and as a whole the album just went right through me - there were not tracks that stood out by a mile.

But then after reading Mel's review, the album kind of made sense for me. So here's what I think of it at this very moment.

The album is a logical direction for the girls - as I said on my review of Forever is Over, they had to stray away from the Girls Aloud rip-off sound because that sound had already established them and they were free to do anything they wanted. Forever is Over may be a complete 360 change but the rest of the album is only a slight shift in what they were on Chasing Lights.

As a whole, the songs on Wordshaker complement each other - they make for a cohesive record with songs at pretty much the same level. I think the fact that they're all pretty much the same in terms of quality and whether I like them or not made very few tracks able to stand out for me. BUT, I still have tracks I'll listen to more than the others.

I've said my piece on Forever is Over so let's go straight to the rest of Wordshaker. Now that I listen to it again after a lul in trying to get myself to like this album, Here Standing is epic, gorgeous and something new for the girls. It's the type they'll sing as the last song of a gigantic concert in Wembley or of O2 - it actually sounds like a pop-ized stadium ballad. I absolutely LOVE the fact that they got in a real piano not just for some parts but for majority of the song, I adore the dimension it gives to the song.

Ego is a little closer to the Chasing Lights Sats during the verses but the chorus with the computerized drums trying too hard to sound real and keyboard loop behind is more of the Wordshaker Sats - I think the song has a nice balance of everything. The middle 8 is great but it's not something I'd fall at my feet for. However I do like the song!

The start of No One reminds me a lot of Here Standing and to a certain extent the verse does but the chorus is a song in its own. I like the subtlety of the song - it doesn't explode but it doesn't stay on the same level for the entire 4 minutes. But the biggest letdown on this song for me is the middle 8, that's it? I was expecting something on the same level as the rest of the song at the very least.

One Shot is a song with a lot of attitude. It's very techno during the verses and the chorus just very slightly explodes. The semi-middle 8/break down reminds me of a Britney song and really, what is it with all these mediocre middle 8s? UGH. The album's title track, Wordshaker starts out like something I wouldn't really like and the verses are a little iff-y for me but the chorus is really catchy - that's probably the extent to which I'll really praise the song. The instrumental stays in one place throughout the song, only changes a bit before the last chorus (which is good) and even when it supposedly explodes, it doesn't as much as it should. BUT, that's pop music and songs like this appeal so why not? Hahah.

Denial is the girls' attempt at trying something R&B and although it's a little out of place with the rest of the album, the song works well with the girls. The chorus turns into a rock-y thing with the guitars put on top of the R&B hook and I like it, I like it a lot. Beautiful melody - I can give this album a good score now that I've heard a gorgeous melody from the girls! After let-downs in the middle 8 department of this album, I gotta say that the best middle 8 goes to Denial. Simply stunning.

Open Up has been one of my favorites from the start - the instrumental and the loop in particular sounds like something straight out of those teenage summer movie of the 90's - early 2000's I used to watch as a kid. What I like about the song is that it explodes at the chorus when it doesn't necessarily have to. The middle 8 is OK, but not my type. Lose Control sounds like something Kristinia DeBarge could put on her album, it's trying to be a Britney song. At least on the verses - I like the chorus, it's a little more Australian pop ala Ricki-Lee. Actually now that I think about it, Lose Control does sound like a Ricki-Lee song.

Let's skip Not Good Enough - wasn't this song out last year? OK.

Deeper reminds me of something I can't quite put my finger on until now - all I know is that it sounds familiar. It's sweet, nice and happy with the gorgeous melody. Aside from sounding like that something I still haven't found out what, it sounds like a tribute to the Hear'Says and British pop bands of the past - it's like something they'd have no problem doing. Maybe that's why I like this song a heck of a lot!

The last song, 2 a.m. (K-pop fans, why does One Day always pop into my mind now when I read 2AM or 2PM?!? Hahah.) is novel. It's 40's/50's/60's ish and I can imagine the girls performing this in costumes ala-GA's The Promise with choreography centered around their hands. Right? Although not very cohesive with the rest of the album, I like the song as a song. I like it, I like it a lot.

So, to sum up the album:
Best Track: Denial
Better Tracks: Here Standing, Ego, No One, Open Up, Deeper, 2 a.m.
My Least Favorite Track: Wordshaker, but it's not THAT bad. It's actually quite good.
THE RATING: 4.8/5 Solid effort but not enough for a perfect score.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Top 20

I've got final exams starting tomorrow until Wednesday so I'll be MIA 'till then. After though, expect my reviews of The Saturdays' Workshaker (REALLY late, I know), Cheryl Cole's '3 Words', Beast's mini-album and possibly Alexandra Burke's 'Overcome'. ANYWAY.

This week was a bit boring for me - nothing new and ground-breaking came out. Westlife's What About Now sucks (if I review it I think I'll just get even more annoyed so I'll wait for the album release), Cheryl Cole's album is boring and the SS501 release isn't as good as I thought it would be.

SNSD are #1 - mainly because Genie is still insanely good months after it's release. Also, Beast's debut single makes a big splash on my chart this week at #4. MBLAQ sucks so I'm putting my bets behind Beast - at least the song has a melody. My only problem would be the dance break but I'll save that for the actual review (if I ever get around to writing one.). ANYWAY, here's the rest of my chart:

20. f(x) - Lachata
19. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Whatever They Say (NE)
18. The Saturdays - Ego
17. JLS - Everybody In Love
16. Hwayobi and Sleepy from Untouchable - Kiss Kiss Kiss
15. Amy Pearson - Butterfingers
14. f(x) - Chocolate Love
13. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki (Jaejoong and Yoochun) - COLORS~Melody and Harmony~
12. SHINee - A.MI.GO.
11. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Rising Sun
10. BEAST/B2ST - Oasis
9. Cheryl Cole - Parachute (NE)
8. Alexandra Burke - Bad Boys with Flo-Rida (NE)
7. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Love In The Ice
6. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Survivor
5. The Saturdays - Open Up
4. BEAST - Bad Girl (NE, vid)
3. SHINee - Ring Ding Dong
2. Super Junior - It's You
1. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie) (4 non-consecutive weeks)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rant: I need to let this out.

I'm sorry if I offend anyone in the process but just have to say this. This is MY blog with MY opinions and telling me my opinions are wrong is disrespectful and stupid.

I am sick and tired of stupid wannabe fangirls who know nothing about what they're talking about. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of smart, informed fan girls out there (me included) but in the Philippines in particular, a fangirl who knows what she's talking about is hard to come across.

Last Friday I wrote a negative review on SS501's new mini album Rebirth. As I was looking through referral links to the blog, I ended up at a Filipino SS501 fan forum and later a fan blog. I saw them talking about me and the review - calling me a low, uneducated, narrow-minded b*tch. They insulted me, asked me who I was to be saying these things and if I was a critic (which I think I am), said I knew nothing about music and that because I was a DBSK fan I immediately marginalized SS501.

Really, who does that to somebody just because he/she writes a negative review of 'your beloved insertnameofboybandhere' 's new release? I said what I thought and that's it - it's what I think from what I heard. I don't care if you think the album is brilliant or if you think it sucks, I said my opinion. End of story.

But these girls attacked me, called PRN a bad blog and in calling me narrow-minded for badly reviewing SS501 when I'm a DBSK fan also showed how narrow-minded THEY are.

They said my writing was trash, that it was a joke. DO YOU KNOW HOW BAD THAT FEELS? I'm already struggling with my writing as it is and a bunch of girls call it trash? I wanna burst out crying right now but I won't.

Now, please allow me to rant in my native tongue so I can give these girls a piece of my mind. Hahah. When I speak my native tongue I sound like an airhead.

Mga walang-kwentang, walang alam na fangirls ng SS501 sa isang forum na magagalit sa taong nagbigay ng opinion - PWEDE BA. Ano bang ginawa ko sa inyo? WALA. Nandito ako, nagsusulat ng opinyon KO tapos makikiepal kayo, iinsultuhin ako at babastusin ako??! Ang sarap nyo ring sakalin, no?

Kalokohan sinusulat ko? EXCUSE ME. Pasikat ako? Asa pa kayo.

Pwede ba, alam ko kung anong ginagawa ko, alam ko kung anong pinagsususulat ko, HINDI AKO TANGA. Edukado ako hindi lang sa school pero alam ko yung history ng K-pop at ng Pop music. Alam niyo ba? HINDI. Alam ko kung anong bago at luma pero saan palang kayo? Lady GaGa. Justin Bieber. 'Boom Boom Pow' ng BEP. MGA LATE.

Kung sasabihin ninyong mali ako, sana naman may pruweba kayo. Kasi dahil lang ba fangirls kayo kailangan gusto ng lahat ng ibang tao yung gawa ng pinakamamahal niyong insertnameofboybandhere? Hindi naman magugustuhan ng lahat ang lahat palagi eh. Tapos dahil masama yung sinabi ko sasabihin nyo sakin na isara bibig ko? Ayoko nga! Blog KO 'to, hindi NYO blog. Akin 'to, ako nagpasimuno, ako nagsusulat at AKO ang nag-iisip. Kung gusto nyong magsabi ng maganda tungkol sa paborito niyo, magpatayo kayo ng sarili nyong blog. 'Wag n'yo akong damayin sa katangahan niyo.

SS501 - Rebirth

I'm drowned in schoolwork at the moment (A 30-page paper on the history of my university, a reading primer for elementary school kids AND my final exams next week. I hate school.) but writing keeps me sane so I will write. If I don't, I might self-destruct before I even see the light of my final exams. If you're with promo and you plan to send me stuff, go ahead but I won't be able to answer until sometime next week after my finals - keep the stuff coming in though! Hahah. ANYWAY.SS501, the band famous for having Kin Hyun Joong play Yoon Ji Hoo (did I get his family name right?) on Boys Over Flowers AND be best friends with Jaejoong GOD DBSK. They're back as a 5-piece after a long time away from the Korean industry and a few quite unsuccessful attempts to break Japan (is it just me or are they trying too hard to be the next Tohoshinki?) - I'm not that impressed.

Yeah, sure this album 'boasts' of American producers and the guys are all in eyeliner for the album cover + over 60-page photo book but really, the entire mini-album sounds generic and overused. The slower songs suck, they bored me to death the first time I heard them and they're not songs I'll consciously listen to again. I'll still take you through all 5 songs though because it's what I do.

Wasteland is generic, nothing special and at the beginning very boring. One of those trying hard 'piano-influenced R&B' numbers that turns into an auto-tuned song somewhere along the way. I do commend the songwriter and producer for making the chorus more explosive and not anti-climactic like I thought it would be. The verses put me off a bit but the bridge kind of redeemed the entire first part of the song - the chorus is nothing special either but it's not bad and it has its appeal. The second verse is much, much more interesting, I now blame everything on the guy who sang the first verse. All in all Wasteland is probably the best song on the album, nothing to gush about but the middle 8 is GORGEOUS.

Love Like This, the lead single, is even more boring than Wasteland. It sounds a little like Wasteland but more commercial and you know commercial for me means bland and uninteresting. I like the production and I like the instrumental but the melody is just, just - NO. By the verses you'd think the song's a bit serious but then the chorus turns into this cheesy-ish thing that really puts me off. However if this is what they mean by maturing musically, I highly doubt that. They've changed, yes, but this is not 'more mature'.

The next track, Haru G/Ka (I THINK it translates to days pass or something to that effect? Correct me if I'm wrong.) is the boring ballad I was talking about. Pretty melody, not bad vocals (I don't particularly think SS501 have outstanding vocals as a whole but they're not bad. I'll get to that later) but the entire package has been so overused and it's starting to get a bit boring.

Obsess is boring as well. No really, it's bland, generic and sounds like a reject track for some new R&B singer who wants to be the next Usher or something. They didn't sing or sell the song very well either. Nice try guys but the next time you attempt to be all 'global' or 'international' by working with American producers, at least get the good ones, OK? Good ones anywhere in the world won't give you reject songs or will at least try to make the rejects sound good.

I can't talk about the last track, I really can't. It's so bad and corny and UGH that I CANNOT stand the damn thing. The counting before the first chorus was the last straw for me - really, prepare your ears for the worst before you listen to it.

Although I don't like the songs as songs or packages, I've got to say that I was surprised at the quality of their vocals on this album. For the longest time I thought SS501 were a lot weaker than their other boyband equivalents *ahem* DBSK *ahem* but their vocals on Wasteland and Love Like This and even Haru G/Ka were not bad at all. In fact, they were quite good! I honestly didn't know these guys could sing like that. If there's one reason why you have to listen to the album at least once, it's to hear the vocals. The songs suck, yes but I do applaud the guys for delivering their vocals better than I expected.

3.3/5 Sadly the songs still suck.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Girls Aloud vs. The Saturdays. Vocally.

You've read my intro, watched the videos, now it's time to read my thoughts. Let the showdown of the British girl groups begin!

10 girls, 10 different voices but each girl in both groups has a certain persona - they all give both groups the dimension and talent to make them worthy of their success. There's no one in the groups who's boring and each voice complements the rest, without any one of them neither GA nor The Sats will be who they are.

Please be advised, this is in no particular order!

The BIG voice

The girls who get the most lines, 90% of the ad-libs at the end and are what they call the 'lead singers' in Korea. It's unsaid but I really think these are the 'lead singers'.

Girls Aloud: Nadine Coyle
This girl has the big, show-stopping voice - she's known for her predominantly rich and deep timbre. Nadine, like Jonghyun SHINee, gives the group another dimension because you have got to put her only slightly auto-tuned vocals to contrast the rest of the group's heavily processed ones on songs like Untouchable and you need her intensity to balance off the other fours' subtlety on songs like The Loving Kind. In short, Nadine has a gorgeous voice and although it may not personally be my favorite in the band, you need her in Girls Aloud - without her GA is not GA.

The Saturdays: Vanessa White
The only similarity Vanessa has with Nadine vocally is the fact that they both have the big voices in their respective bands. Vanessa has a much smoother voice and this all boils down to personal taste now - I prefer hers over Nadine's but that's purely my opinion. Her voice is a lot more fitting for the stuff The Sats are doing and may I just say, this girl knows how to sing her head off - properly. Unlike a lot of other singers we know.

The SMOOTH voice

The description is enough - these girls are the mediators, the ones who balance off the rest of their band member's colorful and sometimes even outrageous voices. Even if they don't get as much attention as some, you can't go without these girls, you really can't.

Girls Aloud: Kimberly Walsh
The first thing that pops into my head when I hear Kimberly's vocals is that she enunciates really well. ANYWAY. Her vocals are smooth, very smooth. They're so smooth that if you auto-tune them it still kinda sounds similar to when you just use the 'regular' amount of auto-tune. But really, she has a beautiful voice that gets overlooked by Nadine's gigantic one and Sarah's screaming - I wish she got a heck of a lot more solo lines! No really, you listen to GA songs and I think the problem with her is that her voice is so smooth that producers don't want it and think it's a little too boring for the material, which it's not. HOWEVER, that broadway thing she did for Passions was jaw-dropping for me.

The Saturdays: Frankie Sandford
Frankie, Frankie, Frankie. This girl's voice has always been smooth - since she was in S Club 8 she got the most solo lines because their songs needed smooth voices, it was dance-y for crap's sake! Hahah. I first noticed exactly how damn smooth her voice was and still is when I heard Just Can't Get Enough - her first line really made the entire song for me vocally. On Forever Is Over she sounds a little whine-y during her solos but over-all she pretty much just sounds older - her voice is STILL smooth.

The predominantly PRETTY FACE

These two girls can sing, they really can but they're not as good as their other band mates. For me personally, they're the ones who bring the MOST 'attitude' or anything not directly related to actually singing. But they can sing, why else are they in the bands?

Girls Aloud: Cheryl Cole
Compared to the other members, Cheryl's probably the least vocally capable. She's better than a lot of other singers, which is why she's in Girls Aloud and she sings those R&B numbers very well but after you hear Nadine and Nicola, she just pales in comparison. There are times when I think her voice gets a little to whine-y but there are also times when I think her voice is jut gorgeous - it's just that she's inconsistent. Fight For This Love is pretty good vocally (NOT musically and you guys know that) but I believe that once Nicola hopefully gets some solo stuff out, Cheryl will be blown completely out of the water.

The Saturdays: Mollie King
Mollie isn't JUST a pretty face either, but if you don't take how she matches The Saturdays' songs into context and just take her as a singer, I wouldn't be too impressed. HOWEVER if you listen to her vocals on Work (I believe she gets the most airtime on that - the entire first verse), they match the song very well. It once again boils down to the fact that she can only sing a few types of songs and not everything you throw at her BUT she does what she can pretty damn well.

The ROCK CHIK

Rockers - they do their fair share of screaming (Sarah mainly) and the name pretty much says it all.

Girls Aloud: Sarah Harding
Sarah's voice is a little shrill for me, enough said. But the girl can sing and she has a high voice but it doesn't have a deep timbre like Nadine or a very, very smooth one with equally smooth delivery like Kimberly - Sarah just can't help but let loose. There are times when that can be an especially good thing but there are also times for me when it can get a little annoying. However she has her own niche in the group and kudos to her for sticking to it!

The Saturdays: Una Healey
What I like about Una is the fact that she isn't just a rocker - she can do the ballads and the dance stuff, it's just that the timbre of her voice fits the rock stuff more than it does the other girls'. I first heard her sing a good, solid solo part when I saw a live performance of Chasing Lights - her part is just insanely brilliant. By the time I heard her solo on Forever is Over, I was convinced she was made to sing these kinds of songs - she has the technique and the timbre to pull it off and that middle 8 of hers pretty much made the entire song.

The quiet one who sings DAMN GOOD

The label kind of applies to Nicola more than it does to Rochelle but let's just stick with it, OK?

Girls Aloud: Nicola Roberts
I'll say this now so you know what to expect - Nicola is my favorite voice in Girls Aloud. She's my favorite because her voice is so different that she actually pulls it off very well! Voices like hers that are shrill at times but thin and smooth, if not delivered and thought of well can be very annoying and ugly but Nicola's is beautiful - it's not too much but it's not held back or boring, it's just right. Her voice matches the GA aesthetic the best - she embodies everything GA has and the music they're making.

The Saturdays: Rochelle Wiseman
Rochelle. I first noticed her voice when I saw the video for Issues - I was surprised to hear that voice coming out her her mouth! She sings the part of the verse before Vanessa and when I heard the striking contrast between their voices I was baffled not by Vanessa's but by Rochelle's. Rochelle sounds like a deeper, more predominantly smooth and less excessive version of Vanessa and I personally like those kinds of voices a lot better, as you guys may have noticed over the past few vocal commentaries. Therefore, my favorite voice in The Saturdays is Rochelle.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Top 20

The Saturdays' Unofficial FINALLY leaves the top 20 after an astonishing 16 weeks on the chart (which has been around for 18 weeks). Yes, I was THAT addicted to it. *clap clap clap*

Now you must be asking, why is Chocolate Love in the top 20? BECAUSE I CAN'T GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD - it took half an hour worth of playing SHINee's Ring Ding Dong over and over again to get it out! Speaking of SHINee, they take the top spot away from Jaejoong and Yoochun DBSK this week - Ring Ding Dong will be big, I can really feel it.

The entire top 20 for this week:

20. f(x) - Chocolate Love (NE)
19. Amy Pearson - Butterfingers (NE)
18. The Saturdays - Ego
17. JLS - Everybody In Love
16. Hwayobi and Sleepy from Untouchable - Kiss Kiss Kiss
15. BEAST/B2ST - Oasis (NE)
14. Jordin Sparks - No Parade
13. Pixie Lott - Gravity
12. SHINee - A.MI.GO.
11. f(x) - Lachata
10. Yoo Young Jin/Super Junior KRY - Sorry Sorry (R&B Mix)
9. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Rising Sun
8. SHINee - Hit Me
7. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Love In The Ice
6. The Saturdays - Open Up
5. Super Junior - It's You
4. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Survivor
3. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
2. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki (Jaejoong and Yoochun) - COLORS~Melody and Harmony~
1. SHINee - Ring Ding Dong (NE, 1 week)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The INTRO: Girls Aloud vs. The Saturdays.

I know what you might be thinking - FINALLY! Hahah. Time for me to talk about my line of expertise, British pop. K-pop may be great but it's not my forte, this is purely what I blog about best. Hahah.
Girls Aloud and The Saturdays - the two biggest 5-member girl groups in Britain. Vocally these girls know how to jump through hoops and fire but it was only until my K-pop addiction that I learned to appreciate the fact that all 10 of these girls can sing. Yes, there are a lot of Koreans who can sing damn good and a lot of British who just suck but it’d been a while since I first sauntered into the realm to British pop - all the crappy voices I’d already gotten rid of years ago. Now that I just got addicted to K-pop 3 - 4 months ago, I’ve spent that time scouring the good and the bad - in seeing the bad I began to appreciate the good even more.

On to the girls. The reason why I chose to combine the two groups in one post (apart from convenience which I know isn’t valid) is because whether we like it or not, the two will ALWAYS be compared in one way, shape or form - it’s a fact. They’re Britain’s top girl groups, they’ve got five members and they make pop songs, what’s more to ask?

I don't know if anyone has noticed this but I never talk about Girls Aloud's vocals seriously. Yes, I say that I'd love some solo stuff from Nicola and Cheryl's my least favorite singer in the band but apart from that you don't really hear me ranting about the girls, maybe because I don't have anything bad to say about them or I just never thought about commenting on their voices.

It's a given that everyone in Girls Aloud can sing. They went through an American Idol-like (Popstars the Rivals, to the exact) selection process and emerged victorious over their supposed male equivalent - One True Voice. Over the years their vocals have grown along with their musical style but who we heard on Sound of the Underground are the same girls we heard in Untouchable - their voices didn't change, they just grew.

I got all nostalgic when I had to listen back to Sound of the Underground, The Show, Love Machine, Biology, Whole Lotta History, Call the Shots and all their other old stuff that I hadn't listened to in ages - I got all tingly remembering the time when this was all I used to listen to.

The Saturdays' roots trace back to the ill-fated S Club 8 - Frankie and Rochelle (was that her or was that another girl?) were what I assume the 'lead singers', it wasn't directly said (it never is in Britain) but they, Calvin Goldspink and another guy got the most singing parts and the most airtime. After the band dissolved in the wake of I Dream, their failed yet somewhat musically brilliant TV show, they disappeared and suddenly returned to pop in the form of The Sats.

If vocal ability says anything about them assuming the place of Girls Aloud in British music, the Saturdays are the best candidate for it. Yes, even Mollie can sing - at least the material they're doing right now. We don't have a lot of material to work with yet when it comes to The Saturdays but I can at least trace Frankie and Rochelle's vocal growth.

Here are a few videos from each band - these are the ones I really based my commentaries on.

Girls Aloud:


The Saturdays:


I used the recorded version of this but you can't embed that from YouTube.

You have the 2 WHOLE DAYS to watch and soak up on all 10 girls' voices - on Wednesday MY commentary's up! Hahah.

Friday, October 16, 2009

SHINee - Ring Ding Dong

A few days ago when the full MP3 to this song was released I said I'd wait for the video to come out before I review this. Well, the video's out and they've performed it live already - time for me to write a long, dragging review! Also for non-K-pop fan readers, apologies for the abundance of K-pop lately - you wouldn't believe the amount of new stuff continuously coming out right now, it's like when GA, The Sats, The Sugababes, Leon Jackson, Agnes, SD and Take That all had albums in the same month or at least near each other. ANYWAY.

For the longest time SHINee have been SM's young boyband - the songs they've been performing are young in the sense that they'll never, ever be what I call world domination songs. World domination songs are like DBSK's Rising Sun and O, Super Junior's U, Rain's I'm Coming and a ton of others - they're serious and they eventually go on to the gigantic hits. Although over the years (actually this year), the definition for world domination song has changed, it now has to be auto-tuned. *sarcastically* GREAT. Modern-day world domination songs are Super Junior's Sorry Sorry, Super Junior's Sorry Sorry and Super Junior's Sorry Sorry. That's the standard right now, no one in my opinion has managed to outdo it.
OK, back to SHINee. At first I vaguely thought they were growing up - the obvious auto-tune and the repetitive hook was only given to Super Junior after 4 years, SHINee got it in 1. The more I saw the song in different forms (the teaser, the first live performance and now the video), the more I though they were really growing up. My hunch was right - they're planning to do a complete image change by the next album.

To be completely honest with you, I didn't think they'd do these types of songs this fast. BUT, it's here and they've made the video + album so I'll gobble it up.

Ring Ding Dong when I first heard it was uninteresting and yeah, maybe it was SHINee growing up but I didn't like it. Now that the HD video's out, I know why - this song is meant to be heard at high volumes, in damn good quality (I WANT THE PHYSICAL CD NOWWWWWWWW. No one's stopping me), kinda like a certain song we call Sorry Sorry (and It's You but that's a different story).

The only difference, and I hope you guys don't mind me saying this, is the fact that all of SHINee can sing their heads off - which is why they got a more melodic song. It's less repetitive during the chorus, a teensy bit less auto-tuned throughout and in my opinion, it's a lot more my taste than Sorry Sorry. But Sorry Sorry is a completely different song and Super Junior are a completely different band.

The verses are outstanding - I can die now knowing that Taemin's voice has EFFIN' GROWN UP A BIT!!!!!!! Hahah. AND Jonghyun's sound especially good on this song. Onew? Brilliant as always, need you ask? But really, I personally think this is SHINee changing for the best.

They need to change, they can't just be singing Replay and Love Like Oxygen forever - that would be boring and once they get a little older a bit awkward. They need a song to show everyone that they can do mature but still keep their existing fanbase - the song to my ears is like the melodic parts of their old stuff plus a new, older image and a repetitive hook fused together extremely well. After this single they can slowly make a complete 180, they're kinda doing what Girls Aloud in the UK did - slowly change but by the fourth of fifth album you can't spot any similarities with their first album.

Also, these guys have just blown every other new boyband out of the water - they're no match for SHINee, in my humble opinion. One because these guys can sing and two because they know how to pull of a song damn well, they're convincing. I mean, Key in eyeliner? Whoever thought he'd do it?

I repeat, this song is best listened to at extremely high volumes in good audio quality (otherwise known as an HD YouTube video or a physical CD). Ready to be blown away? Watch this:
5/5, this is gonna be big - I can feel it. Hahah.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's been happening?

Has anyone noticed that these past few months I haven't been doing any bulleted posts - they've all been paragraphs and paragraphs of me ranting on and on about trivial things. I thought for a while that I could pull off the all full review thing but I can't right now - there's too much I wanna talk about.

SO, here's a quick run-through of everything that's been going on in the world of pop I'm interested in. If there's something I didn't mention here but you think I should know of, SPEAK UP. I've been so behind on stuff lately it's pathetic.

  • The Saturdays' Workshaker has been out for a while but I haven't been able to listen to it 10 or 20 times straight - there's too much new stuff coming out! However I do have my favorite songs and Mel was right in saying that I just needed to digest it a little more. When I first heard the whole thing the excitement made me fall in love with it but then immediately after I felt that the album would go right through me when I heard it. After not listening to it for some time, it's quite good! A review to come SOON, I promise. School has just been the biggest pain EVER.
  • Cheryl Cole's Three Words (the song) has ALSO been out for quite a while. I don't like it - end of story.
  • Amy Pearson's Butterfingers is BRILLIANT. Apart from the talking/pseudo-rapping/chanting, the song is so damn brilliant I could fall apart. I swear, you wouldn't believe this was Amy until you actually watch it 'till the end - it's so hard to believe she's the same girl who sang Don't Miss You.
  • From the world of K-pop, f(x) and SNSD are both endorsing a cellphone via 2 different arrangements of the song Chocolate Love. What do I think of it? The girls sound crap. No really, Tiffany and Taeyeon SNSD and Luna f(x) who're the strongest voices of all 14 girls sound like the crap voices (won't name them anymore but you can probably guess who) - there's no difference because EVERYTHING WAS AUTO-TUNED SO MUCH. And the song really isn't that good. Yeah sure it's catchy but really, once you think about it that's all the song will ever be - catchy.
  • Now SHINee, my beloved SHINee. I heard Ring Ding Dong and I personally thought it was a little too confused with the instrumental and the auto-tuning but the more I think about it, this is the logical direction for them. SHINee need a song like DBSK's Rising Sun and Super Junior's U to take them away from being the SM newbies who everyone loved and make them an established boyband - they have to mature. Ring Ding Dong reminds me a LOT of SuJu's early 2009 hit Sorry Sorry with all the repetition and the auto-tuning but surprisingly, the rest of the elements are a lot more SHINee than I first thought they were. The full video isn't out yet but we've got a pretty damn good teaser and the MP3 to hold us up 'till then.
  • New boyband B2ST, now called BEAST (what the crap?), actually has debut single that's a bit better than MBLAQ's Oh Yeah recorded. Still, it's heavily auto-tuned and a bit generic. However, it's not that bad.
  • Speaking of MBLAQ, my theory was right - these guys are performers. No really, they're a heck of a lot better live. The song sounds more convincing, they're pushing the not miming thing and it really sounds like the song was made for a stage. Kudos to the guys! Hahah.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MBLAQ - Oh Yeah

MBLAQ are Rain's new boyband - they sing, dance, rap and do backflips like it's second nature 'coz the guy must've slave drove them until one member left. Yes, one of the guys left a few days ago and was replaced by Sandara 2NE1's brother. K-pop is a family business.

OK so ANYWAY, I saw their teaser yesterday and I was really, really looking forward to something brilliantly mind-blowingly awesome. No seriously, those 30 or so seconds were put together insanely well and the video really made me want to freak out over them.
See what I mean? From the teaser it sounds pretty good - like something I'd enjoy.

But that's the extent of the song's brilliance - you hear that you've practically heard the entire thing. The full song + the music video was released earlier today while I was (dying) in school and when I got home they were both waiting for me there - the first thing I did was load the video and then get a hold of the MP3. I listened over to both and really, this is one of the biggest let-downs on the year musically.

When I first heard of MBLAQ I was afraid they'd get a bunch of reject songs from Rain's last Korean album Rainism but my fears were consoled when the teaser came out - as I said I thought the teaser was brilliant. So I put all my bets into MBLAQ being the next big thing in K-pop. Once I finally heard the song in full though I was disappointed like hell.

I understand that Rain is NOT SM (DBSK, SHINee, f(x), Super Junior, SNSD) where rap is reserved for a relatively smaller part of the song but he's not YG (2NE1, Big Bang) either - he's Rain. He sings while he dances and he doesn't have the best voice in the world but he tries really hard and pulls big ballads off - he's a performer. You have to watch the guy live to fall in love with him because that's what he does best. I just hope MBLAQ is like that at the very least.

My first problem is the rapping. Rapping may be something you have to do in Korea if you're an idol group but this is too much - it's taken over all the vocal parts. My next problem has something to do with the rapping - the lack of an over-all melody. In a debut single you're supposed to show every single thing the band can do in a BALANCED way, the rap, singing and dancing all equally shown. There are only two solid melodic parts and they're what I assume to be bridges - two lines before the chorus. Then one line during the chorus but it's not the actual hook.

Speaking of hooks, let me talk about the them for a while. Hooks are something you expect people to remember for long periods of time like say the entire promotional period of the song and it's made to make you remember the title of the song - Super Junior's Sorry Sorry, SNSD's Gee, The Wonder Girls' Nobody (as much as I despise it) and a ton of other songs all have hooks that'll refuse to leave your head which made them such gigantic hits. These hooks all have power, they all make a statement, the bands have guts when they sing it and above all they're a lot more creative and original than the rest of the song. Whether it be monotonous or not, the hooks are delivered with guts and conviction.

Going back to the requirements of a good debut single, it has to show everything and I mean EVERYTHING a band can do at the given time so people know if they're good or bad and choose to keep following them or entirely give up - a good hook is vital in the success of a new band. Oh Yeah has a hook ,"Oh Yeah" repeated over and over, but it sounds cheap, uncreative and just plain boring.

However, I do think the melodic parts are very good and very well-executed - these guys can sing. Haven't heard the rest of their debut release but I do hope it has some good songs with actual melodies. As performers I can't judge yet - I listened to the song without watching the video and it really makes a difference when you actually see these guys. Will have to wait for a well-shot live performance to be able to judge.

Although these guys must be very good performers and by the little melodic parts we get seem like very, very good singers, everything about this song is unoriginal and boring. Oh Yeah sounds like DBSK rapping with an SS501 loop for an instrumental and an overused Big Bang melody - that pretty much sums up to a Rainism reject.
3/5. At least they tried.

Monday, October 12, 2009

SHINee's Vocal Prowess

There's more to SHINee than a bunch of young guys thrown together and told to open their mouths to sing. Believe me, these guys are very, very good.
SHINee are SM's young boyband (although the oldest member is just two years younger than Changmin DBSK if you put things into perspective) but nothing about their abilities even hints that they're inexperienced or without talent. These guys can sing, and they can do it extremely well - I'd say they're a slightly younger version of DBSK by vocal ability, not quality.

They're different from DBSK vocally - DBSK has Jaejoong who can sing anything, Junsu who's good at what he does and Changmin who takes care of screaming. SHINee has different voices but they mesh together really well. Individually they sound good but together it's like there's something else - isn't that the whole point of a vocal group?

If I were to describe SHINee's vocals in one word I'd say it has dimension. They don't all have predominantly smooth, strong or excessive voices or even beautiful timbres but each voice gives the group another dimension. Because they have different qualities to their voices the end product is multi-dimensional and you have to really think to properly understand what the crap they're doing.

Their vocals are the main reason why I faint when they sing all those R&B ballads and why my mind explodes when they sing all these uptempos. To prepare you guys for what's to come, here are four examples - two ballads (live and recorded) and two uptempos (live and recorded) just so you know how good these guys actually are.

The ballad
Love's Way (2008)

The uptempo
Juliette (2009)

It was especially difficult to chose who was better than who because they all have their strengths so this list isn't ordered and my favorite voice is purely a personal opinion - they're all good and I all like them but I chose the one with qualities I liked. Shall we begin?

Minho
I have one complaint about Minho - the guy doesn't get enough singing parts. No seriously, before I started writing this commentary I thought Taemin was the marginalized one 'coz he only gets 3 - 4 lines on a song but apparently it's this guy! Yes, he's the resident rapper but to my utter surprise, HE CAN SING. The first time I heard his singing voice I immediately thought he sounded like someone but couldn't really wrap my head around who exactly. Then it hit me - he's like a fuller, less airy and smoother version of Kim Joon. I didn't expect him to have technique but he does and he delivers that deep voice of his very well! I now conclude that Minho is the most marginalized member of SHINee vocally - he deserves a little more attention for his singing.

Here's a fanmade collection of all his solo parts on the group's most recent release - forward to 0:11 for him singing.

Jonghyun
I admit that before I started writing this I was a little biased with Jonghyun's voice - I thought it was excessive and airy.

There are times when his voice will just blow you away but sometimes I find his voice to be a little too much. He can do R&B ballads but the first thing that comes into my mind when I hear his vocals is that he sounds like a guy version of one of those excessive ballad singers here in the Philippines. However he has a nice range and the timbre of his voice can be both a blessing and a curse. The start of Love Like Oxygen, I understand it has to be powerful but why can Onew sing it smoothly and Jonghyun can't? If you compare him to Key, I do think that Key has the deeper voice with a deeper timbre and Jonghyun has the tendency to be a little on the nasal side. However he gives the band another dimension and for that the guy deserves the praise he gets.

I think I'm ready to faint now.

Key
This guy is the big, extremely high ballad singer in the band - he can hit the high notes comfortably with little difference from the middle range when it comes to the the intensity of his voice. I know Jonghyun can do the same but I find Key's voice smoother with a nicer timbre and more fit for ballads like Romantic or their cover of DBSK's '믿어요'. Key is the guy with the insanely gorgeous timbre in SHINee - yes, his voice is smooth and he has a pretty wide range but the predominant quality to his voice is the timbre. It's that timbre that makes SHINee so good at ballads and it's that timbre that really contrasts Taemin's thinner voice and Onew's slick, smooth one. Jonghyun's good, yes but I do think Key's master of the ballads.

His voice in one word? Rich.

Taemin
Taemin, dubbed the dancer in the band and confirmed by a friend of mine who knows how to spot a good dancer (she says but since I obviously know nothing about dancing, let's just say she's right.), is surprisingly very good in the vocal department and when I say very good I mean VERY GOOD. Taemin is the guy with the insanely smooth voice in the band but he's not like Jaejoong DBSK who can sing everything you throw at him (At least I don't think he is. He doesn't get a lot of solos either.). He's a year older than me and for effin' crap's sake the guy has one of the smoothest voices in pop. There are times when it can be weak but most of the time he knows how, how much and when to push his voice - the end product is stunning.

Below is A.MI.GO, the single that made me fall at his feet because of his vocals. Solos are at 0:59 - 1:06 and 2:21 - 2:29.

Onew
The perfect voice for SHINee songs - Onew deserves to be the leader because he pretty much embodies the group's musical style. It's very smooth but the quality that stands out is how he can have both smoothness and power in both ballads and uptempos. What makes him even more brilliant in my books is the fact that he can take the flow-y-ness he has with R&B ballads and put it into the uptempos - he doesn't sound odd like he's a ballad singer trying to do uptempos. I think slick is the right word for his voice. He's like the polar opposite of Jonghyun - when he pushes he doesn't overdo it. Love Like Oxygen shows the extent of their difference - Jonghyun takes the first part of the first verse and Onew comes right after him. My one and only problem with him is that he keeps on singing these ballads that should be for Key or Jonghyun - he does them great and all but SM has to give the guy a bunch of uptempos or midtempos because he can actually do a damn good job with them.

Solos are at 0:30 - 0:34, 1:09 - 1:14, 2:12 - 2:16 and adlibs from 2:58 - 3:05

Agree? Disagree? Like the previous commentaries, keep the comments coming people! I like to know that you guys are actually thinking about my commentary.

Time for you to do the thinking.

To those referred here via Babelpop, I posted it because the rap I'll be commenting on is Korean - you guys know the ins and outs of Korean rap and I don't. Also, once I master rap my commentaries on Big Bang and 2NE1 will be finalized and posted! Hahah.

I've noted on every possible instance that I don't like rap - I don't see the point in it overtaking a whole song and I don't know anything about it. However this new special that requires me to comment on a lot of Korean bands that have members who don't sing but just rap and to be able to do that I have to know my stuff. I don't want to comment on something I don't know about because then I won't be able to defend or stand by my opinions - I have to at least know the facts.

I'm a stubborn person, if I really want to learn something I'll learn it myself so my opinion on it is as not-biased as it can be. I don't ask people to tell me what makes something good very often because then their views on that will rub off on me - I want to think for myself and I want to have my own opinions.

However, rapping is something I know absolutely nothing about. As in NOTHING. Even if I keep on listening to rap I won't pick anything up because I don't even know the very basics. Earlier today I asked a friend of mine what made a good rapper and she started rattling on - her opinions contradicted what I'd been reading about who people think is good and who people think isn't. I won't get into the details but it all boils down to this - I want to listen to as many opinions as possible so I know what I'm dealing with here.

SO, if I may I'd like to ask you guys a few questions. You can respond in the comments section as shortly or as lengthy-ly as possible - whatever gets what you want to say across. Doesn't matter if you know a little or a lot, I just want to hear what people think. I need help for this part of the special QUICK so once I get this all straightened out my commentaries on Big Bang and 2NE1 will be raring to go!

1. What makes a good rapper? What makes a bad one?
2. Who's a good rapper in your opinion? Why?
3. Are most good rappers also good singers? Why?
4. What is a good rap part? What does it have and what doesn't it?
5. I've heard that good rappers aren't monotonous when they rap - can there be rapping that's monotonous AND good at the same time?
6. In terms of timbre, color and tone - what kinds of voices make good rappers? Is there a pattern or does it not matter what your voice is like?
7. To K-pop fans, what do you think of the following idol/vocal band member or singer rappers and what makes them good or bad? I've already weighed them as singers but I'd like to know what you think of them as rappers:

U-Know Yunho DBSK
Micky Yoochun DBSK
Hero Jaejoong DBSK (he only has one recorded rap but I'd still like to know what you think)
Minho SHINee
Amber f(x)
CL 2NE1
G-Dragon Big Bang
Eunhyuk Super Junior
Shindong Super Junior
Miryo Brown Eyed Girls
Rain
Ha Joo Yeon Jewelry

Thanks guys, your answers are very much appreciated and taken seriously! Hahah.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Top 20

Although as a whole, The Saturdays' Workshaker went right through me, two songs from it debut on this week's chart! Hahah. DBSK still dominates the chart and SNSD jump back up to #2 due to me FINALLY getting a physical copy of the album. SHINee also comes into the chart at #8 with a track from their second mini-album and Yoo Young Jin, the guy responsible for a lot of SM's biggest hits including Sorry Sorry, enters at #9 with a re-arrangement of Sorry Sorry especially for a Super Junior concert.

20. Britney Spears - 3
19. The Saturdays - Unofficial
18. The Saturdays - Ego (NE)
17. JLS - Everybody In Love
16. Jewelry - Vari2ty
15. Super Junior M - Super Girl
14. Jordin Sparks - No Parade
13. Hwayobi and Sleepy from Untouchable - Kiss Kiss Kiss
12. SHINee - A.MI.GO.
11. Pixie Lott - Gravity
10. f(x) - Lachata
9. Yoo Young Jin/Super Junior KRY - Sorry Sorry (R&B Mix) (NE)
8. SHINee - Hit Me (NE)
7. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Survivor
6. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Rising Sun
5. Super Junior - It's You
4. The Saturdays - Open Up (NE)
3. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki - Love In The Ice
2. Girls' Generation/SNSD - Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)
1. DBSK/TVXQ/Tohoshinki (Jaejoong and Yoochun) - COLORS~Melody and Harmony~ (2 weeks)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rant: Why I still buy physical albums

AND why I refuse to make the shift to buying MP3s from iTunes or other online stores.

Musically I'm what you'd call a purist - I know how to make music, I know how to listen to it, my opinions on music are centered around the music itself and not image or everything else the pop music industry focuses way too much on and I was raised listening to high quality music as in music from CDs and with file sizes of around 100+ MB for 4 minutes.

I was raised a purist because my dad's one as well - these are the values he didn't outright tell me but he did things that pointed me into the direction of figuring these things out. He's a record producer so he taught me all these things in recording and one of them was the difference between an MP3 and an AIFF or a WAV file.

I was never trained to listen to MP3s or bad quality songs - I was raised to favor extremely high quality file formats and marginalize MP3s because honestly, it really does make a difference. If I lived in a country where they sold physical formats of all the music I wanted I'd buy all the albums regardless of how much it would cost me because of the quality.

Everything sounds clearer, better when you hear it in CD quality - even with crappy earphones like mine I spot the difference. The songs sound fuller so you can clearly discern how much of the songs are real instruments, how much are computerized and how much auto-tune the vocals were put through.

This is exactly the reason why I refuse to let physical CDs die because the quality will never be the same. Call me ancient for sticking with CDs in the digital age but unless they start selling AIFFs online I won't buy digital music - it's not the same. I don't know how I thought of it but you know, MP3s are a way for record companies to mask bad production, excessive use of fake musical instruments and even more auto-tuning. AIFFs let you hear everything as long as you're listening while MP3s are so highly compressed that you struggle to hear anything, really.

MP3s are the reason why hardly anyone thinks when they listen to songs anymore - there are so many things that get lost during conversion and once those recordings come out as MP3s the only thing people hear is the melody and the instrumentation highly compressed to the point of crap-y-ness. No one thinks anymore because there's nothing to think about, it's all gone.

I hate that. I don't want generations after mine to not think when they listen to music, I don't want them to passively listen to music and I REALLY don't want them to grow up ignorant of what actual songs sound like. I now know exactly how hard my dad had to fight to let me hear recordings in their purest and how he's fighting now to keep high quality recordings in people's vocabularies.

As much as I want the music industry to move forward, you cannot sacrifice quality for change. This is creativity we're talking about, these are works of people and they deserve to be heard in their most unadulterated form. Until they find a way of digitally selling the good quality files, I'm staying with my physical CDs.