Monday, September 27, 2010

INAUGURAL POST! Thoughts on BEAST's Mastermind

Hello everyone! Welcome to Mixtapes and Liner Notes - my blog on music from around the world and other related ramblings. I'm taking an unauthorized break from studying to write this post, so you can find a more formal introduction to me in the "About Me" Section on the sidebar, and maybe in a future post. But for now, let's talk music.


BEAST has always been one of the tragedies of the k-pop industry for me. I've always thought they were talented and charismatic, but they have failed to produce great music in the year that they've been active, despite already releasing two EPs. Their third EP, Mastermind, just dropped, and unfortunately, this is only continuing that trend, albeit with some improvement.





Personally, I blame the producers. I was wondering what McRoth was on about when he talked about 4minute's production being all over the place - well, now I know. I mean, I've heard these kids sing, and seen their performances - they are great performers, no doubt. But listening to the singles they've released, you wouldn't know, because the production is awful. Their voices are drowned out by the electronic instruments (that I wish they'd just THROW AWAY) - only Yoseob's voice gets through the chaos, and that's just a testament to how awesome he is. The rest of the group, while vocally competent, aren't on his level. Pair that with bad production, and they end up sounding like his back-up singers. Don't get me wrong, it's not that they sound bad - it's that I actually can't hear them. I find myself blocking out the music because it's just too noisy, and only Yoseob belting reminds me that I'm actually listening to music, if I hear it at all. More often than not with this album, I got to the end of the song wondering what exactly I had just listened to. Great job, Cube and JYP, just great.


Individually, the songs aren't awful:
  • The intro track "Mastermind" is pretty cool, but I don't think it really suits BEAST's style - I mean, they're not really hip-hop artists. Also, it reminds me of 4minute, which, for me, is not a good thing. 
  • I actually really like the instrumentation in "숨"- the slow sections are really engaging, and I love Yoseob's Dongwoon's (!) voice echoing in the background at the beginning, and Yoseob at the end. I also kinda like the fast bits, because they are clearly inspired by Daft Punk, whom I LOVE. And the string sections work really well with both parts. However, those parts do not go well together. I had a similar problem with "난 바빠" off 2NE1's new album, but at least there the production was more cohesive, to the point where I could enjoy the track and not focus on its incongruities. BEAST's track, however, is all over the place, and just make me sad. Were these sections two different songs, I would adore both of them. Together, it's a recipe for disaster. Despite the hot mess, all the members sound really good on this track, as the producers were nice enough to let up on the processing this time. I suspect the fans will like it, so hopefully they'll be able to grab another chart award with it, and Cube/JYP will finally hire decent songwriters for these people. Or fire whoever's messing with the songwriter's work. 
  • "V.I.U (Very Important You)" works better as an electropop track for me, but failed to leave a lasting impression. Fun while it lasted. No further comment.
  • "Break Down" is the only song I can say I liked from the get go - the slower pace suits them better, in my opinion, and the processing on their voices is minimal. It sounds like a younger, hipper version of a 4men song, and I mean that as a very very big compliment. I've always liked their covers of R&B songs, because they do it really well. I suspect that JYP doesn't want them to compete with 2PM, though, so I doubt they'll move in that direction.
  • "Clenching A Tight Fist" is their ballad track, and I'm not the biggest fan of ballads, so I can't say I particularly liked it. However, I will say that it felt a little different than your typical k-pop ballad, and BEAST successfully proved once again that they can carry ballads. I say their next album should be a ballad album, so that they can experiment with new sounds, and Cube can hire new people for them in the meantime.


Imma be real for a minute - I think that BEAST should make R&B music. They've proved they can do ballads, and their sound is already leaning towards hip-hop, so they just need to be pushed in a slightly different direction. It makes perfect sense too - Junhyung came from a rap group, Doojoon was a runner-up for 2PM, Hyunseng was a runner-up for Big Bang, Kikwang did R&B as a solo artist, and Yoseob's pre-debut videos all feature him singing R&B hits. Seriously, if they could make music as good as Big Bang's 2008 material, they'll destroy the competition. There are too many boy bands dedicated to electropop, and the market is becoming saturated. I think that people are beginning to realize that gimmicks are no longer enough to make a group stand out, and they need to move towards standing out musically as well. G-Dragon's recent comments regarding Big Bang's new album and the state of the k-pop industry are an example of this, and it would be great to know that others in the business are doing the same. I am seriously rooting for BEAST to blow up and become uber-famous, because they have all the potential. They just need better people to guide them there. Hopefully, in a few years they can terminate their contracts and go on to bigger and better things, as a group or otherwise.


DISCLAIMER: I listened to these tracks all the way through at least three times, because I wanted to give it a fair chance, and not just dismiss it. And I'm glad I did, because I actually found things to like about the album. So please don't bash me: I'm just a single girl putting my thoughts out to the internet. I'm not trying to harm reputations or offend people or anything. You're free to disagree with me though - hearing all sides only makes you more knowledgeable, after all.

4 comments:

  1. I haven't heard the new album yet but I tend to like Beast. Mystery and Bad girl are really catchy. I also liked Easy. There is an awesome live performance of Easy on youtube where you can actually here them harmonize. I tend to prefer R&B.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like "Clenching A Tight Fist" and "Break down" seems pretty good. The rest don't do much for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I pretty much agree on everything. And you brought up a good point. BEAST DID start out in R&B, so to see them get back into that would be nice.

    I'm so glad that Cube is finally lifting off their fingers off the auto-tune switch. Is it a sign that the tides are changing in Kpop? Excluding 2ne1, who have decided to eat auto-tune for breakfast, lunch and dinner this year.

    I still can't come to full grips with 2NE1's "난 바빠". It's Bom's part that screws up the entire flow of the song for me. It's like YG was figuring out a puzzle and accidentally placed the ear-piece where the mouth's supposed to go. And then forgot to give a hoot to fix it.

    Glad to see you back on the internet again! Blog's looking good ;D I'll totally go link you up when I'm finished posting this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @mcroth I totally agree about "난 바빠", but I can't stop dancing to it! CL's rap is contagiously upbeat and made for rocking out to. If I was going to remake it, I'd up the ante on Bom's parts just a bit, but as is, it just about works for me.

    and thanks! I've just gotten really busy, so I decided to plug this blog in and slowly work on it for the next month. I have a few detailed, analytical posts in the works, though, so watch this space!

    ReplyDelete