I don’t have much to say, because I am absolutely blown away.
BIGBANG is not a strong vocal group and will never be, if we hold TVXQ as our vocal standard for male groups. But I find I don’t care. Particularly, G-Dragon’s singing starting at 0.44s is just so heartbreakingly perfect and well-paced with the midtempo bass. Sometimes I can’t stop myself from melting.
The song itself– it builds on Korean ballad idioms, but it moves away from it, a bit like SM The Ballad did with “Hot Times“, as it is less concerned with sounding so sad and emotive, having excessive held high notes. What we get is a song that is melancholy, but at the same time, uplifting. “Blue” is something to curl up to on a rainy day with a cup of hot tea and a biscotti or two.
I lied slightly, I am a bit bothered by the voice qualities, for example, sandwiching TOP between the smooth chorus and BIGBANG’s token smooth singer, Taeyang. However, I’ve always had a problem with the cohesiveness of BIGBANG’s sound, so this is nothing new. I am also bothered by the token white girl, which they also had in the MV for “Tonight.” I know they are trying for an international flavor, but the video could have been handled just fine without a token white girl, who is just like a thin layer of frosting on top of an already very substantial cake of interesting sets, and an interesting song. Heck, if you have an interesting song, all you need is a video of yourself singing it, and that is about all the music video you need. If YG insists on putting a token international girl in the videos, then I better stop seeing these waif couture models, and maybe, I don’t know, a really sexy italiana? An African-American? Pouty dark-haired French?
Despite those small bothers, I can say for certain this song can be certified as one of the best things that has happened to kpop in the last two years, probably even better than SHINee’s Korean “Lucifer“. Listening to BIGBANG, I am immediately reminded of EXO, the new group of SM that is in the stage of pre-debut with its never-ending teasers, who also pre-released a midtempo ballad, “What is Love?” Everyone kept commenting how similar it sounds to TVXQ’s “Before U Go“, which actually were both produced and written by Yoo Young-jin, one of the perennial favorites in SM’s arsenal of songwriters. But listening to BIGBANG’s “Blue”, which G-Dragon wrote and produced, I can honestly say that I have never heard anything like this before from G-Dragon. Of course, their previous comeback hints at the electro thump, but this sound, it’s completely fresh.
It is fresh– something that is rarely said in kpop nowadays. As we clear away the conventional EXOs and BAPs and missAs, I’m glad that we still have BIGBANG to look forward to.