I'm taunting you guys, aren't I? SO ANYWAY. Drumroll please.... *drumroll*
TOHOSHINKI/DBSK - THE SECRET CODE
Everybody thought DBSK in Japan reached the height of their career with their previous album T when Purple Line hit #1 but with The Secret Code they just got bigger. No really, FOUR Japanese #1s and one top 3 hit ended up with a #2 finish on the Oricon Weekly Album charts. For crap's sake these guys are GIGANTIC.
There are a few songs in particular I need to talk about, mainly because these are the ones that really carry the album.
どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう？ is beautiful, stunning, gorgeous, mind-blowing and a ton of other things. It doesn't hit you over the head with anything but it doesn't make you fall asleep either - it's the right balance of smooth and peaceful and intense and serious. Brilliant.
There are a few songs that really prove my point that these 5 are more talented than the usual singer/dancer/idol group members - they're the songs that the members themselves write. Not just the lyrics but the melodies and the harmonies and the songs as songs and 忘れないで and 9095 are two of those. Both by Jaejoong (Gorgeous voice AND a musical brain. I like.), they're totally different but not different at all - you get me, right? Right.
忘れないで has a similar feel to どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう？ but I gotta say, I like this melody better and that string section is just gorgeous. DBSK are one of those acts that they process in the right way - think the vocal treatment to Industry's Burn and you have the vocal treatment of this song. Gorgeous, no? YES. Hahah.
9095 is totally different - it's one of those 'sophisticated' songs. It's not trying to be sophisticated, it is sophisticated. The guitar part mixed with the synths and the TASTEFUL electro-ish things and what I think is a piano part (I think.) just makes it sound like something they'd play at a super upscale store or something. It's another of those 'lay low' songs - just when you think it'll explode it doesn't and just stays there - sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. Either way it's a gorgeous song.
Now Bolero - I remember when I got addicted to this song it became my new 'listen to when I'm depressed' anthem. What I like about this ballad in particular is that it sounds so Japanese. The production, the treatment of the vocals - everything sounds so clean and sanitized but it has so much soul and emotion. For the longest time I've been trying to figure out what makes Japanese production sound so different from American, European or even Korean production and I still haven't figured it out. I know it sounds very clean and the harmonies are very tight but there's one more thing that I can't quite grasp because there are Western songs that are clean and have tight harmonies - why are these Japanese songs different? It's safe to say that if I ever figure out what the crap that is, it'll be with the help of Bolero.
If there's one thing to commend the Japanese on when it comes to their music, it's the fact that their remixes aren't just a capella tracks slapped on top random eurocrap loops that don't go anywhere - the -i.am.electro REMIX- of Take Your Hands is solid proof of that. I love what they did to the song, I love the real drums and I ADORE how different the song sounds - how much more dynamics it has now.
For the longest time, my favorite song from this album was constantly changing - first it was どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう？ then it was Bolero then it was 9095 then it was 忘れないで but I think now I've settled on the best song.
How many times do I have to stress that Survivor is like the most brilliant pop song ever? NO really, I think I made a mistake when I put Mirotic on the best songs of 2009 but what's done is done - I'll just make up for it here. I love the instrumental, I really do, and is it just me or does the start remind you of Super Junior's It's You and 2PM's Tired of Waiting? LOL. Survivor is like the uptempo version of It's You - it's epic, it sounds fantastic at high volumes and DBSK's vocals just give the song a whole different dimension. And the song just explodes when you hit the chorus - I LOVE it. It's one of those songs I never get sick of, no matter how much I play it. The Japanese get all the good stuff.
This is everything an album should be - it's cohesive, the songs are very strong and it's established a very distinct sound for the band. You don't have that in Korea because the industry isn't entirely focused on the music yet. BUT, this is what Japan does best and this is what they have to do to succeed there - thank heavens they did it DAMN GOOD.
The Best: Everything.
The Bad: Nothing.
The Rating: 1000000000000000000/5 (UR) Get my point? Hahah.
Well, that's it for me this year - 12 MN January 1, 2010 I look back at 2009 with a special post! Watch out for it.