Wednesday, January 2, 2013

SNSD/Girls' Generation - "I Got A Boy"

I've had some time to mull over and think this review through, but honestly I'm still not totally convinced that it's a method that works for me. I get easily swayed by other people's opinions, and sometimes I'm even scared for what some people will think of mine, so for the most part my single reviews come from impulses and lightbulb moments. It's only after those moments that I think everything through. So this is a bit different from my usual style.

When I heard that the production team behind "I Got A Boy" was the same one behind "Genie", which is easily my favorite Korean release from SNSD, of course I was excited. I was excited despite the fact that "Dancing Queen" (for which I wrote a full review for but didn't publish D:) was a disappointment, because "Genie" was both a song, and a sound that I loved for SNSD.

And for the first minute and a half, I was okay with everything. I mean I didn't worship it, but it was competent, and it had substance. The delivery was good, the production strong, and the sound was that compromise I was looking for in "Dancing Queen". It carried SNSD, and the girls' vocals carried themselves. But then that part ended abruptly and I was left going "...what."

To the song's defense, none of the parts are bad -- they're actually quite good taken alone. The main half of the song, the chorus/hook is the girly with substance kind that I really like and that I wish they would stick to in Korea, because it's easy enough to sing, but also something that they do very well. The other half of the song, the pop/rock-influenced verses, are spunky pop that are strong enough to mask whatever vocals flaws they have, while being simple enough for them to carry with brevity. The rap parts are interesting considering they're coming from SNSD, and they give the very saccharine sweet part some kick. And then the part at 3:47, the break-down of sorts before the last chorus, has a gorgeous melody. All the melodies are gorgeous actually -- that hook made me smile -- and the production is really top-tier.

The problem is, "I Got A Boy" isn't the album sampler that it sounds like -- it's one song. Honestly, the first time I heard this I had to check the official track listing to check if I downloaded a version that accidentally merged some kind of intro with the real song. And then just in the last paragraph, if you notice I had such a hard time identifying the parts. Not just because of the unconventional structure (because that's not always a bad thing), but because there are so many sounds and I kind of lost track of where the song was at already.

If you think DBSK lead singles are confused, then "I Got A Boy" is confused and drunk or high. Or no actually, it's confused, drunk and high. I tried all of the possible means to make it sound good -- I watched videos of it, I listened to it for a day -- but all they did was make the line between the elements clearer.

My theory at the moment is that "I Got A Boy" sounds like a bigger mess than it should've been because the transitions aren't as natural as they could've been. But then again, with elements like that it's pretty hard to make them natural. Still, my point is that there is a right way to do contrast and variety, and that thinking out of the box doesn't exempt a song from sounding cohesive. If you're going to be different, go all the way, be my guest, but make it clear that you're not just throwing different sounds together and calling them "different" for the sake of it.

Personally, it would've been so much better if they stuck maybe eight, or even just four, bars of the first verses in between an extended version of the part that sounds like the hook as a middle 8 of sorts, like what happened in the dance break DBSK's "Rising Sun". It would have been a fresh break from the very girly, but also short and concentrated enough to pack a contrasting punch.

I was talking to a friend a while ago, and that friend was saying that the lyrics are kind of the driving force behind this song, and good for them for getting good lyrics, but as far as I'm concerned, the only thing that matters in the lyrics is how they work in relation to the sound of the song, which means pronunciation, line construction, rhyme, meter, stuff like that. Which is why even if the lyrics tell a unified "story", it doesn't necessarily mean that the sound tells one just as cohesive. And in this case, it doesn't.

But honestly, like other SMP stuff, I have no idea if this will get better with time or if this just needs to simmer for a while longer. That's the thing with music, my review was pretty black and white and I focused more on what it is in relation to what it sounds like than I did on what it sounds like in relation to how it works. I might warm up to it, I might not, people might start liking it, or they might bury this song right after promo, and right now, at least for me, it depends on factors no one can control.


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