Because finals are creeping up and school is closing up, it may be a while before I get to painstakingly review Why So Serious. Therefore, in order to review the single, “Why So Serious?”, I recorded around 20 minutes of some laughing and some silence and some jabbing at Taemin. Enjoy.
Last night, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis held a concert at my college.
Let’s get rid of the not-so-great things– Macklemore sounded a bit scripted, as if he said the same phrases over and over leading into his set lists. However, this is quite pardonable, because he does hold concerts for a living and there are only so many things you can say to lead into your song. Also, Macklemore’s opening act was way too long– it was DJ Eklipze (Walter Baker Bridgforth, a local student from Berklee), and then the time it took for Macklemore to actually get on stage was around 3.5 hours (minus one hour of standing on line).
Now to focus on the good things! As I was walking to the library after the concert (because a Wendy’s got to study even after flipping her shit several times at a crazy concert), I overhead someone on her phone say, “Was the concert good? Well, it about hope and shit. You know.” But hope is always a good message, and especially so when the performer is so enthusiastic and sincere. Macklemore truly means everything he raps; one cannot feel strangely unmoved when he slips into his speakeasy style, and even amidst a hall of 1,300 screaming women, at the more serious parts, Macklemore feels like he’s just having a conversation with you.
One of the best things about Macklemore is that he does not rap exclusively about booze and sex– like the majority of popular rap and hip-hop artists out there– he actually raps about things that do matter to everyone, our fears and our aspirations, and beating the odds. So yes, “hope and shit” is an amazing topic for a rap and hip-hop concert; it makes you appreciate Macklemore for beyond just a few sick beats.
It was a bare-bones concert, just a few fancy lights; Macklemore rode out on the crowd for a bit, and sprayed the crowd with water several times, and put on funny hats twice and did a silly encore with a cape. The focus of the concert was on Macklemore, and he is a dynamic performer as he mesmerizingly moves around with quite large and exaggerated motions and exhorts people to dance with him. In fact, his preternaturally long and pale arms reminded me of Michael Phelps. Perhaps Macklemore should have tried his hand at swimming before Little League? His trumpet and percussion bud, Owuor Arunga, was quite captivating as well, as they both jammed together, incredibly in sync with each other. Overall, Macklemore is enthusiastically fun to watch on stage.
Another thing I loved about Macklemore’s performance is the time he took to talk to the audience, and show appreciation for them. Macklemore shared with us his impression of my college: (1) Women everywhere he was (2) Harry Potter (3) The most beautiful campus he had ever seen. He also confessed he went skinny-dipping in Lake Waban, which is crazy, since I was doing homework in the library with fantastic a view of the lake when he apparently went skinny-dipping. Of course, in turn, we screamed our guts out for him, and unlike his last five concerts, we did not drop him when he went crowd-surfing.
As someone who is used to Asian concerts in which the performers bow incredibly low, I was extremely touched at the conclusion of the concert, where Macklemore exceeded a 90 degree bow for more than a minute. His humbling, despite his great success– despite performing and being at the MTV Movie Awards the previous night and flying out on a red-eye flight to Boston– really humbles us all. I hope Macklemore never finds a reason to sign with a label, and that he can remain an independent artist. As he reminded us, it is 2013, and he was just certified gold without a label. For college-age students who are just beginning to find their bearings in the real world, being able to follow our dreams even without institutional support strikes a strong chord with us. Beyond his music, Macklemore is thus even more of an inspiring figure.
Just one last, tiny, inconsequential thing. Macklemore is gorgeous. Aside from wearing a wife-beater for 80% of the concert which showcased his well-defined arm musculature, he did a few push-ups on stage and you could clearly see the outline of his backside. It is safe to say, in little under two hours, never has a man satisfied so many women at once.
Disclaimer: it is currently 1:30am, and thus I may not be able to vouch for the absolute rationality of this post.
Before I rip on each song, let me first rip on the entire album. Discounting the songs that were released previously released singles beforehand, the new songs in Time all make me yearn to tear off my ears. It is so disjointed and silly and not worthy of the vocals that Changmin and Yunho possess. They also do not mesh well with the previously released singles, either. Time is a slapdash album, and it throws into sharp relief precisely what Yunho and Changmin do not excel at– happy stuff.
What in tarnation is the first minute in Fated? It is heavy and untoward, and then breaks into a lovely bare, Yunho solo, followed by Changmin. I understand that as the introductory song, conceptually it may be nice to start with a ‘strong’ opening, but the contrast between the strong and weak parts was too unsettling. The chorus is too repetitive and too cliched to be memorable. I get it. The epic introduction. Whatever.
Next up is Catch Me -If You Wanna-. I did not review their Korean single Catch Me, which I did like, though it was simply following the dubstep dance trend. It is a solid song, with a very beautiful embellished instrumental. Their lives were simply amazing.
逢いたくて逢いたくてたまらない is probably the most awkward song to come after Catch Me. Upbeat, happy, replete with whistling sounds, and repetitive, and simplistic, it makes me want to wretch. Neither Yunho nor Changmin are exactly great at conveying cheer in their singing; their voices are on the ‘reedy’ rather the ‘full’ and ‘warm’ side, which makes it hard for them to pull off singles like this.
One More Thing and STILL I had reviewed previously, and to make a long story short, Tohoshinki rules at emo ballads.
I Know is more of the same deal: Tohoshinki ruling an emo ballad. I cannot stress enough that they are flat-out professionals at handling this genre. Every little inflection is carefully controlled, and the instrumentals are just enough to support the voices without overpowering them. The piano motif is sad and plaintive without being too commonplace. Their voices are so smooth and yet so tense and painful at the same time. Better yet, Changmin and Yunho continue to match and complement each other scarily well; when listening, you do not think, “Oh that’s Changmin. Now it’s Yunho.” It is just Tohoshinki.
Y3K is the next song, and Please Kill Me Now. The range is too low and the chorus is contrite, with the ring of “been there done that.” The rather slow beat just makes it excruciating to listen to for the whole four minutes. The yodeling melismas are just silly, too. The bridge seems to no relationship to do with the song itself– it is just an empty cesspool where we wait for the meter to return.
Thankfully, BLINK comes after Y3K. Along with ANDROID, I had reviewed these two singles, and long story short again: I was highly impressed with Tohoshinki’s clean and cohesive electrodance stylings. When compared to Catch Me, Android is the better dubstep single. It is truly an upbeat electrodance single while Catch Me is more like dressing for meat bait– the two steaks being Changmin and Yunho, of course.
When reformatted for the Japanese market, atrocious English was added to Humanoids. Think of Humanoids as the Catch Me B-side. It was not good enough to be a lead single. That is all.
Save me from this happy bland song: One and Only One. The latter half of the song, which dips into the higher register, sounds so unnaturally strained for both of them.
Is this song a love song for their fans? Judging by the six minute run time, and Yunho being forced to “la” into oblivion, In Our Time is the love song. As such, it is an insufferable song, sweet and sickly. Time to wash my ears by listening to another love song for fans, SHINee’s Dream Girl.
After almost a year, I got around to updating some of the sounds I have been jamming to for a while. Here’s the playlist, and included are Rania, GLAM, Kelly Clarkson, Zedd, Tohoshinki, ZE:A, among others.
Fire is uncomfortable. Traditionally, jpop is on a higher pitch than kpop, but this song is so obviously out of everyone but Jonghyun and Onew’s comfort zones. Though Minho sounds quite all right in the track itself, I am sure this is more due to the light-fingered skills of the Japanese sound mixers. I would not be surprised if this song was actually pitch-shifted. Overall, this song does not offer anything new; it sounds like a B-side to 1000 Years. Except 1000 Years was already a B-side, so Fire is a B-side to a B-side (does that make it a C-side?). It is possible the EMI wants to milk SHINee’s youthfulness by giving them predominantly high songs, but Beautiful from SHINee’s Chapter 1. Dream Girl — The Misconceptions of You is a similarly paced ballad that exercises the lower ranges of SHINee, and still seals in SHINee’s youthful aura very well.
The video feels a bit forced, especially at the end with the clapping. Fire is too uptempo and the clapping too awkwardly slow. Nonetheless, the concept is sweet, and there are quite a few heart-squeeze moments. However, compared to Tohoshinki’s I Know, released at around the same time, it is not as visually interesting and intricate.
As for fashion, it also feels disappointing for Key to be the only one in blonde; usually in Japan, Korean groups tone it down and mostly everyone goes down to shades of black and demure shades of dark brown, as in Dazzling Girl. Taemin looks especially handsome in his black hair.
As 17 March 2013, Fire is lacking in live performances, and so it seems like a release “just because.” This is especially a disappointment, as their sunbaes Tohoshinki have released some of their best material in Japan, while SHINee’s stronger material undoubtedly is Korean. As seen with the release of Dream Girl, SHINee’s voices have been maturing; it is also not a coincidence that two member Tohoshinki’s best material in Japan is their ballads. SHINee’s improved voices present too good of an opportunity to miss, and EMI should be hot on their heels on wrangling a ballad that can match SHINee’s capabilities much better.