Wednesday, December 26, 2012

[#5] SNSD/Girls' Generation - "Animal"

From: "GIRLS' GENERATION II ~Girls & Peace~"
Format: Full-Length Album
Released: November
Territory: Japan
Previous Best of Appearances: "Genie" (2009) / #19 -"Run Devil Run" (2010) / #36 -"Sunflower" (2011) / #7 -"Let It Rain" (2011)

If there's something I'm thankful for, it's that Japan has given SNSD a chance to deliver some of their best material, and deliver it consistently. I mean, Korea had "Genie" and that's forever one of the best pop songs I've ever heard, but they don't' have a constant stream of amazing material in Korea, they have it in Japan. "Girls & Peace" was a really good album, so much that I really just had to go with my gut when I was choosing which song to include on this year's list.

"Animal" was really my first favorite when I heard the album, and it remains one of the strongest songs among the already-strong album. It's very formulaic, but since when did that become a bad thing all the time?

Like a lot of songs, the melody was the first part to draw me in -- it's stunning, and it's the epitome of a girl group doing tough. You have these very flat, this very graceful, flowy, but urgent bridge, and then you have this scream-type chorus. It's the type of melody that's very simple to pull off so it stays good across a skill set as wide as SNSD's, but without compromising the fact that, you know, it still has to be an actual melody with actual singing involved majority of the time.

As much as the melody drew me in, two things kept me hooked -- the instrumental and the production.

I love the instrumental because despite the fact that it has this very dance/club sound going on the entire time, it doesn't forget the fact that dynamics exist and thus need to be taken advantage of. I love the synth loop at the beginning, and I love how it works with the bass line to give the verses a sense of urgency. And then the build-up starts at bridge, which is my favorite part of the song, and it just ups the urgency even more so that once the song actually explodes with two nice, sharp punches courtesy of the melody and the instrumental, it just blows you away.

And finally, the production on this song is really mind-blowing. The vocal treatment is spot-on -- the verses have character, the bridges have the clarity to show off the high notes, and the choruses have the power to go full steam ahead. And then you have this very clean, very silky, treatment to the entire song, and it just smooths everything out.

"Animal" is a stunning song, it's beautiful but it also literally stuns you. It's songs like this that made me like girl groups in the first place -- they're feminine, they're gorgeous, but they have substance to their kick. But beyond being a girl group song, "Animal" is really one of the most outstanding pop songs of the year. This, my friends, is pop music masterclass.

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