Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seungri's VVIP - Ear Candy of the Month


And it's well deserved - that smile can come hang out with me anytime. Oh, wait, that's "eye candy", not "ear candy"....

lol Jokes aside, I am REALLY loving this CD. I always love it when this kind of R&B comes my way - smooth with a touch of electro-glitter and a dash of pop. (That sounds like a drink. I should invent a drink and call it the VIP - with edible glitter. They make that right?)

I will agree with McRoth's allkpop review (yes, he writes there now - how cool is that?) that the tracks have their flaws. But, as a package, this album wins so much for me right now that I can easily forget to pick it apart as is my tendency, and just enjoy it. It's just the right brand of R&B with both contemporary and classic elements, and the production is seamless, such that I don't notice it at all. I just listen, and when it's over think "Wow, that sounded amazing. The production is killer." What they say in film also applies here:  you know something's good if you don't notice or think about how they did it.

I don't have a favorite track as of yet, but I suspect it will be "Open the Window (ft. G-Dragon)". I feel bad about that because that's the only song that Seung-ri didn't have a hand in writing, but it's just so gorgeous. To me it sounds like the guy that's polite, introduces himself first and then asks for your number, as opposed to just going "How you doin'? What's yo name, girl?" There's an earnestness in Seung-ri's voice that just pulls me in. Plus he nailed those high notes at the end. And the instrumental is fantastic.

Speaking of Seung-ri's voice: don't brick me, but I always thought that he sounded like he had an obstruction in his throat or something. He always sounded strained in Big Bang songs, and even in Strong Baby. But he sounds so much more comfortable here, and so much better than he used to. I don't know if they did some newfangled thing in post-production, or he's just gotten more vocal training, but if he keeps this up, he will considerably improve the state of Big Bang's vocals. He was always the weak link to me - that and there was always a dissonance between him, Taeyang and Daesung that could rarely be resolved, which is why they always just have them sing different parts. I hope to see some harmonizing from them in their new album (FEBRUARY!).

The duet with IU is amazing - I love it when IU does R&B. I mean, she's got a great ballad voice, but it's when she does indie and R&B that it really shines because the melodies are more interesting - to me, anyway. "Magic" is in the long tradition of flirtatious, dude-follows-girl-around-until-he-gets-her-number tracks, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a sucker for those. I like to imagine how that would play out in real life - like Seung-ri could get a drink in his face for the first verse, trip up and face plant after the second chorus, and finally get the girl at the end. lol. "White Love" is great - the whole thing is beautifully done and atypical of most k-pop tracks, so I'm a fan. "Outro (In My World)" is the second biggest tragedy of the album - not because it was bad, 'cos it was awesome, but because it was cut short. The first biggest tragedy is "VVIP" in which we see the return is the crazy YG genre mash that almost put me off 2NE1's "I'm Busy". Again, if you separate the R&B pop from the crazy trumpet tunes, it works, but together? Just... no. The video makes up for it quite a bit, though.



And finally, we have "What Do I Do". Essentially, this is Seung-ri Guettafied. And I love me some Guetta, so I'm loving this. It reminds me of why I gravitated to k-pop: it takes an epic electro instrumental and adds drama to it in a way that only Korean music can, making it to me a more appealing track than any Western song that sounds like this right now. Everyone else uses this kind of instrumental to either promote their hot mess way of life, (e.g. Ke$ha), or their constant trolling of clubs for chicks (Akon, Pitbull, Flo-Rida, the list goes on...). But Seungri takes it and makes it so that you really believe that he's breaking down (down, down, down) because his girl's leaving him. And that, my friends, is what k-pop has over other pop musics - Koreans know how to infuse their pop music with soul and emotion, something that has kinda gotten lost in the West as the current makers of pop culture (and those following in their footsteps) continue to test out different gimmicks to keep us interested. Forget crazy instrumentals or a cute kid with a good haircut - I just want heart.



(Sidenote: I love how the girl flickers in and out of focus. Nice imagery there. And is it just me, or are the YG dancers killing it? They very nearly steal the show every time they show up. Not to mention the Kwon twins are getting pimped out since the public seems to love them. They're in EVERY video and performance these days.)

The best thing about this album, though, is that YG haven't put any fillers or reject tracks on this album and have really let the Big Bang maknae shine. Hopefully, this will keep our group together, as the CEO claims, and they won't break up (as is becoming the trend in k-pop these days). I'm gonna end the love fest here, and let you guys chime in.  Feel free to hate on the album if you want - I'll just put on my headphones so I don't hear you :P

7 comments:

  1. I've been in an old school K-pop mood lately, but I had to take a break from Chakra (Hwang Bo's old group) in order to listen to this album. It's so good! I think Seung Ri's experiences performing in musicals really raised his vocal game. Plus,it looks like YG has finally gotten the "excessive auto-tune sucks" message. Yay!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wait - Seungri was in musicals? this is news to me, but good for him! Also, I've been trying sooo hard to find Hwangbo's old stuff - now i can go stalk Chakra on Soribada, lol

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh yes - Seungri starred in "Rain Shower" and co-starred with Daesung in "Shouting". I think as a result, Seung Ri's singing improved so much and that he now has better live vocals than Taeyang. Taeyang (love him) has some issues with intonation.

    My favorite Chakra song is "난너애개 (To You)". Jeong Ryeo Won's vocals remind me of Sandara Park's solo work in the Philippines, but... I still love the song. I'll link it!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlPkTB_5GqQ
    I don't want to further derail the comments but have you ever seen the video for "끝(End)"? I might as well add that since it's a better example of Chakra's general concept.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-44XMl0gvIs

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think everyone seems to agree that the big band horns in "VVIP" JUST DON'T WORK. Which is really too bad, cause otherwise the song would be awesome.
    Truthfully, the into to "Magic" gave me the creepy crawlies. The song itself is fine, but the dialogue kinda kills it for me. Guess this one just ain't my jam.
    And in my personal opinion, they went a little overkill with the autotune in "What Can I Do". Does that stop me from loving the song? Absolutely-friggin'-not. Damn, what a catchy tune!

    Have you listened to JYJ's "Their Rooms" yet or Park Jung Min's "Not Alone"? I'd love to hear your opinion!

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Mojo

    Don't worry about derailing the comments! Thanks for the info - though I have to give Chakra's concept the side-eye, they seemed to be a pretty decent girl group. For some reason though, I got the impression that Chakra was a rock band, lol. Now I know better :)

    @MRCKDexter
    I will admit that the dialogue in "Magic" is kinda awkward, but after listening to the EP so many times I just roll with it. The song itself is good enough that I can overlook it. Also, I kinda imagine them being really cheesy about it, a la Lee Hyori's "U Go Girl", which makes it better.

    I haven't listened to JYJ's Their Rooms yet but I plan to do so soon! I have listened to Park Jung Min's single. I wasn't blown away, but it was good. Will probably do another new releases round-up post sometime soon and I'll talk about it a bit then.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, Chakra's Pan-South Asian concept was a bit random. I remember Hwang Bo saying that she was scouted for the group because of her "foreign" appearance.

    I'm also curious about what you have to say about JYJ's Their Rooms. They are definitely improving as musicians. Is it strange that I have this wish that YG Entertainment would sign them and give them both the creative freedom that they have now and the opportunity to appear on the major networks?

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Mojo - I don't think it's strange at all. I remember someone who had listened to Their Rooms saying that the production value is definitely not up to par with their DBSK material, so that would be something YG could provide. Secondly, by signing with a major label, they may just manage to end the boycott against them, though I'm sure KEPA would keep up its madness (all they seem to care about is Korea's image - you'd think they'd care at least a little about the artists they supposedly represent). I can't wait to listen to it - I'll probably have a review up sometime this weekend.

    ReplyDelete