Monday, May 28, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

Rookie groups are just popping up everywhere I guess. I haven't heard of these guys or any promotional efforts. I'm subscribed to a subbing channel and the thumbnail intrigued me. The visuals are stunning and the song is pretty awesome too. It's not just catchy and danceable, but the boys have some vocals to them. I'm looking forward to listening to their debut single for sure.

"E.R" by Dalmatian
B2ST's "Fiction" + Bang Yong Guk's "I Remember" makes this song and video. It's not a terrible thing. I enjoy the visuals and I'm surprised that these boys have vocal talent at all. I'm not a Dalmatian fan which is probably a little obvious. They're too cutesy and silly for me, but this is a good step in the right direction. Now if they can lose that dumb Big Bang tattoo inspiration to their looks, then I might follow them a little more.

"Never Let Go" by A-JAX
I kinda like this keeping the members a mystery thing like SPICA's "Potently" debut. A-JAX definitely have some vocals on them and I think kpop fans should really focus more on vocal talent than the attractive factor. Aside from the emotional filled vocals, the video is quite stunning and dramatic. I think the colorization and the theatrics match the mood of the music. I'm looking forward to more from A-JAX.

Where have you been? I always get excited when I find talented all female jrock bands. The vocals aren't overly feminine, but she doesn't sound like Jyou of exist trace either, which I hear fairly often. The music is pretty easy to get into. I really should look into this band more. The visuals don't stand out too much either, but visuals are overrated and only attract superficial fans that don't pay attention to the sound.

"Pastel Horror Yum Yum Show" by SuG
If Tim Burton and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu clashed together, they would have something like this. Yes, I think Kyary and Takeru have a similar style about them. I don't really like the saturated colors that much, but the song has some interesting layers and breaks out a little from their bland little funk. I don't want to lose hope in SuG. I really don't want to, but they really need to get it together soon.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: The Avengers

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Language: English
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 143 minutes

Every year, summer movies are the highlight of the year. Usually these are big movies come out as well as family friendly flicks. I suppose you can say that The Avengers kicked off the summer theater releases.

Nick Fury and the associates of S.H.I.E.L.D have been testing Tesseract to figure out it spower and how to utilize it, but something changes their plans when Loki of Asgard and brother of Thor appears from a portal created by the Tesseract cube. He places a spell on three important members of S.H.I.E.L.D, takes the Tesseract, and carries out his own plans to create chaos on Earth. After some searching and conflict, Fury, Black Widow, and a couple other agents gather the unofficial team of Avengers to bring Loki to justice as well as the Tesseract.

If you didn't know, I'm not much of a comic fan, but some superheroes intrigue me. I saw this on Mother's Day as a gift to my mom. She had seen all the movies leading up to this and I had only seen both Hulk and Iron Man movies. I figured a good movie will fill in the gaps for those who haven't seen the individual films and it did. We absolutely enjoyed every minute of this movie! It had a good balance of background information, character development, entertaining comedic moments, and well executed action scenes.

Since this was my first encounter with Thor and Captain America, they brought a lot of good things to the table and were easily likeable. The new Hulk was just as enjoyable. Iron Man didn't steal the spotlight too much, at least it wasn't in your face. I liked that there were two strong female characters that had not only strength but dimension in their emotions. Lastly, Hawkeye impressed me as a character as well. He seemed just as useful as the main heroes in the story. Everything felt natural and it's been a long time since I felt so eager to view a movie a second and third time. The editing and camera work was also superb and I'm just pumped to see the sequel and what follows in the individual films. I might go back to see Thor and Captain America. Maybe even the good Hulk movie again too. I have good feeligns for this series, but I don't want them to overdo it like some franchises.

Now that I understand why everyone saw this multiple times, I highly recommend you to see it if you haven't yet. This makes me excited about some of the movies coming out this year. Also, if you've seen the movie and understand the joke behind the shirt, an awesome review channel on YouTube is promoting Shawarma shirts.

Rating: 4.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"FROZEN" by lynch.
After seeing "Inferiority Complex" PV, I was a little worried what this would sound like and I really love it. Nearly flawless lynch. is back and better than ever! I'm really looking forward to their new album with this new sound and new members. It's a nice mixture of old and new. There's a lot of powerful bass and Hazuki's voice is warm and rough. Totally in love!

"Beautiful Night" by Ulala Session
This was an unexpected find on YouTube and I absolutely love them so far. I've heard the first part of their release and not only do they have amazing charisma, high entertainment value, and a catchy tune, but they possess some great vocals when they're not doing fun little tracks like this. This is definitely a feel good, goofy, fun song and video that you can't help but smile at. It also stars SE7EN's beautiful girlfriend. I hope my wedding reception turns out that crazy.

"Tarantallegra" by Xiah Junsu feat. Flowsik (AZIATIX)
This might be a surprising pick to some who know me personally and my feelings toward DBSK/JYJ. In short, I'm not extremely fond of them, but I have some DBSK songs. They're not that bad. This is the second time that I've been seduced by Junsu's seductive, artistic ways. It's making me question my choices. There's a lot of risks being taken here, but honestly I don't think he cares and I commend him for taking the sexy, dark route again. The song is easily catchy and probably isn't the most amazingly constructed work, but it's definitely hypnotizing like the the title suggests.

"The Chaser" by Infinite
I've been waiting for a comeback that was more appealing than "Paradise" and "Be Mine" and this is definitely it. I've always enjoyed these underdogs from the beginning and they've grown so much. Their vocals still blow me away and their choreography is on point. If only they can get it together on stage.. The visuals have a cool deluded colorization that make things more dramatic and clean, like a few other videos that have been released lately with less vibrant videos. I hope they keep this up. Sung Jong has grown so much. ;~;

"Bounce" by JJ Project
For some reason I thought this was JYJ related. Silly me~ Anyway, I think this is how Bang Yong Guk and Zelo's "Never Give Up" was suppose to be, because this is a lot more appealing visually and audibly. This has a good mixture of hip-hop, electronic, and rock sounds. The boys are cute and charismatic which makes the song and video very enjoyable. The only thing I didn't like was those shaky camera movements they borrowed from 2pm's "Hands Up". I'm looking forward to their first release for sure.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Review: Sleeping Beauty

Starring: Emily Browning, Rachael Black, Ewen Leslie
Directed by: Julia Leigh
Language: English
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 101 minutes

I was shown the trailer to this movie by a friend last year and I've put off watching it since November. Being a terrible person when it comes to remembering actors' names, at the time, I liked Emily Browning so far from seeing her in Sucker Punch and I was curious how she would handle this role.

Lucy is a university student who juggles multiple jobs. She volunteers herself for medical laboratory research, assists as a photocopy clerk, and works at a coffee shop. Outside of work, she has a broken relationship with her mother that she mentions is an alcoholic, a landlord that obviously dislikes her, and a lonely man that likes her by the name of Birdmann that she spends her free time with. When she's not tied with her various jobs and dealing with the usual people in her personal life, she goes out to high class bars, indulges in drugs, and has sex with businessmen that attend there. It is unclear whether she is paid or not for these sexual favors. Lucy later comes across an ad in the newspaper and makes a phone call inquiring on the details. She meets with Clara, the head of the new position Lucy is interested in, and Clara closely examines her as well as ask her various questions about her body and habits. One evening, she begins her new job as a lingerie wearing silver service waitress, providing alcohol for wealthy old men. After doing this for quite some time, she is requested to try a new position involving her being put to sleep while wealthy old men spend time with her. The only rule is that there is no penetration allowed.

While viewing the trailer, the storyline to this movie seemed unclear, but intriguing at the same time. I read the summary before jumping into it and it was still vague yet intriguing. When I was watching the movie, it was a little vague, but...intriguing. The story isn't very in your face and you really have to listen for everything to get it, then you have to sit there for ten minutes to think about, sleep on it, and wake up to think about it for another ten minutes to wrap your head around the whole situation. There's a lot going on in this movie even though everything seems so minimal and casual. There's so much wrong in Lucy's life and she seems obviously to it, like every choice she makes means nothing. If that's how the character is suppose to be portrayed, then Emily Browning did a great job with it. I was pleased that there was something human about the other girls who were silver service workers and Clara. Even though it's not emphasized, it makes you appreciate them a little for having some sort of concern or conscience toward Lucy. The old men demand the most feelings from the audience to whether you'll sympathize with them or completely dislike them.

I didn't have any problems with the settings or transitions of this movie, but, as I said before, it took me a while to digest everything and understand it. It's easy on the eyes, but I'm not sure if the audio levels were really that unbalanced with the dialogue. That gave me a hard time from fully engrossing myself into the story. I'm still a bit puzzled on what's missing from the movie to make it pop out more. Perhaps someone else who has seen it or is planning on watching it can point me in the right direction.

Nonetheless, the movie wasn't that bad. It's definitely artistic and forces you to think to understand what's going with the story as well as how Lucy functions through each scenario. There's not a lot of moments of emotional attachment with the characters, but you'll find yourself sympathizing with them in that moment. Since I didn't feel like this was a waste of time and it made me think, I'll advise you to have an open mind and let things settle when the movie's over.

Rating: 3/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Quick Music Review

Nine Muses - Sweet Rendezvous (2012, South Korea) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: WHO R U, TICKET, News

I must admit I didn't like this group that much, until I came across "News", but let's not get into my personal relationship with these girls. "WHO R U" has a retro 70s pop sound with guitars and a feel good dance beat. It's catchy, sassy, and repeatable. I was surprised I didn't have any problems with it, except the rap just a little. Whoever is rapping's voice sounds like someone else from another girl group and I can't seem to place it at the moment. Nonetheless, good start so far. "TICKET" took me a while to get into upon viewing the music video. The costumes were very similar to SNSD, but the sound is way better. *dodges rabid Sones attacks* It's sassy, typical female kpop group sound with horns blaring and a repetitive chorus that'll easily get stuck in your head. This track could've easily been bad, but their vocal talent and arrangement save it from being like everyone else. "News" is, of course, responsible for all this mess. Sure, it goes with that electro-pop trend, but it blends in very well with their sound. The vocals, as I already said before, are really great and they harmonize very well. They have a skill for layering that a lot of girl groups lack. Only compliant with this song are the weird sound effects in the background. "Figoro" was one of the first videos I saw of these girls and I wasn't all that impressed, like "No Playboy". It sounds too much like everything I've heard before, but it's not bad because they have good voices and layering. The last couple tracks are instrumentals, so mostly I am pleased with these ladies and look forward to more in the future. Please don't sell out when you regain your new members, girls. ;~;

SPICA - Russian Roulette/Painkiller (Repackage) (2012, South Korea) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 화 (火), Russian Roulette, Potently, Painkiller

You probably all know that I am completely in love with this group and listening to their first mini-album made me excited. "화 (火)" starts off this mini with a soft, enchanting feeling of instrumentals and melancholy lone vocals. Then the kicker comes in and the vocals become a little strong. This is definitely true R&B with fire, anger, and passion as the title suggests. The greatest part about this track is that the music doesn't overpower the vocals, but subtly support it to emphasize the emotion behind the tone. "Up N Down" picks up the down tempo to something more electronic and a little dancy. There's some vocal distortions and a more playful tone is shown, but keeping the strong attitude intact. "Russian Roulette" gave us our first glimpse of the faces behind the voices. It's a catchy song and definitely memorable. It has some more great harmonizations and dynamic instrumentals that make these girls stand out from the typical kpop girls. "No More" starts off a little iffy, but it soon picks up a little more smoothly with vocals and the music around the chorus. The vocals aren't weak at all, it's just a different structure and sound than I'm used to. "일기장" has a dramatic intro with a thunderstorm, soft vocal harmonies, acoustics, and piano to lead you along to this angelic wonderland. It sounds like a sorrowful song, but it shows that these girls have good control of their voices to fit all these different structures and tempos. "Potently" was their debut song that showcased their strong vocals with this piano and acoustic music set. It has a subtle strength to it in the verses, then blows you away in the chorus. If you picked up the repackage version of this mini, you received the new track "Painkiller". It has deep piano melodies, a strong dark musical sound, and powerful, pained vocals. I didn't think it was possible for me to fall for these girls even more, then this came out. Keep up the amazing work!

Angelo - Calvary (2012, Japan) Rating: 5/5
Favorite Tracks: Calvary, SEVEN DEADLY SINS, Forbidden Fruit

You should all know how I felt about the fan wars involving Angelo and Karyu fans. This isn't the place to talk about that either, but I was definitely crossing my fingers that the new member additions would work out a little better with the release of this single. "Calvary" introduces a great merge of Angelo's signature sound and guitar skills that didn't exist in previous works. You can definitely hear the great harmony between Kohta's deep bass and Karyu's speedy guitar that just have that little hint of Redeemer era D'espairsRay. Hopefully, the fangirls stopped complaining when this was released. "SEVEN DEADLY SINS" has more of a typical rock sound to it with a hint of their signature sound (maybe even Pierrot). There's a lot of prominent bass moments and the chorus is kinda upbeat. Kirito's vocals shift effortlessly throughout the song. "Forbidden Fruit" bring out a darker sound that might even be pegged as D'espairsRay-esque. It features some deep bass notes, dark guitar notes that sting in the verses, and a soften vocal tone that crawls under your skin like a leech. With all three tracks, I believe Angelo has found their sound again that compliments everyone's skill sets and stays true to their original concept.

Illinit - Triple I (2011, South Korea) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: 술서울, 아날로그걸, Lost, 향수

This is my first real taste of Illinit outside of YouTube videos. "Ill Bomb" is a bass booming song with smooth, yet slightly rapid vocal attacks. "술서울" keeps the energy high and lightly aggressive. It has an easy beat to it. "Esperanza" mixes Latin sounds, dance hall elements, and fun little party atmosphere to the song. "아날로그걸" has a mixture of R&B and hip-hop sounds that sounds familiar from older American rappers. There's even some references of these American artists as well. There's a nice smooth vocal arrangement throughout, switching from singing and rapping here and there. "Lost" is the song responsible for giving Illinit another chance. He chose the right female vocals to accompany him in this heart wrenching tale. "Love & Hate" continues the dramatic music with piano and painful guitar sounds in the background with deep male vocals layered behind Illinit's voice. It seems like most things featuring SAN-E is going to be fun. "나쁜놈 둘" opens with his verse and the music is very skip here, hop there, playful tone with occasional sound effects, but still maintains a strong attitude. "좀 더 바삐" brings a handful of rappers together for this looping track for them to rap over. "향수" brings the mood back down to sorrow and loneliness with distant vocals, acoustic guitar, and a mellow music set. "낯선" is a little more upbeat than the previous songs and features some female vocals this time and piano. It's an alright song, but it seems a little generic with the music for some reason. "Set Me Free" opens with this Minutes to Midnight era Linkin Park sound to it. There's subtle drumming and some silly electronic vocal distortions. "Dreamer" closes out this album with an uplifting tone to it and Kangnim bringing in the bright light of inspiration from the heavens. It's a bit generic and not extremely impressive. Although, Illinit's skills aren't very memorable to me so far compared to other Korean rappers, I still enjoyed what I heard especially since I disliked him before. I hope he continues making music and improve his musical skills.

Miryo - MIRYO a.k.a JOHONEY (2012, South Korea) Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 사랑해 사랑해, Revenger

If you didn't know, I do accept music review requests and this is one of them. I did mention that I was looking forward to this release and I'm a fan of Miryo as well, so let's jump into it. "Party Rock" made me a little nervous by the title as it reminds me of that God awful LMFAO song, but it's not what you expect. It does feature some electronic elements, but it's kinda quirky and fun as Miryo raps along and her musical guests add a little something to the track. It's not as dancy though, so that might be a little disappointing to some. It has a lot of musical elements to it with the electronic rock sound, but it has a snippet of dubstep as well. "DIRTY" was the promotional track for this mini-album. It's a little slower and playful than I thought it would be. It is a fun little song that you can relate to. The song's very simple and seems to be missing a little punch or something like the previous track, but it's not terrible. I was a little worried if SNSD's Sunny would mess up "사랑해 사랑해" with Miryo, but it's actually a pretty good track. This is the best vocal I've heard from Sunny. It's a slower song with keyboard, drums, and a little piano. Both girls' vocals sounded good together, although I wish they left the autotune out of Miryo's voice. "Revenger" has some dramatic piano and has minimalistic music backing Miryo's rap. Despite it mixing dubstep elements, this is the closest she's gotten to some sort of hip-hop. It has a lot of great emotion put into the tone, but I wish there was no autotune used. Brown Eyed Girls' Narsha joins her fellow group mate in "Leggo" to close out this mini-album. It's a lot more dancy than the tracks you would think you would be moving to. It's alright. Not much music playing throughout, Narsha's voice sounds nice, of course, and that damn autotune is ruining everything. Otherwise, the track isn't extremely impressive. Honestly, I was a little disappointed with this mini-album, but it did have some good points. I'll give her props for stepping out of the box people might've thought she would've been in with her first solo release, but nothing stood out too much for me.

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: The Exterminating Angel (El Angel Exterminador)

Starring: Silvia Pinal, Jacqueline Andere, Enrique Rambal
Directed by: Luis Buñuel
Language: Spanish
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 95 minutes

Like Pan's Labyrinth and Maria Full of Grace, I had to watch more movies for my Spanish class and this is one of them that I chose to use. The summary seemed interesting and I'm not the type to judge movies because they're old or are in black and white.

Edmundo Nobile and his wife Lucia hold an extravagant dinner party for their wealthy friends one evening. Everyone is cheerful and enjoy their dinner, despite their waiter Julio making a spill before dinner begins. Once the guests are done with their meal, they move to the piano room, listen to one of the guests play as some people dance to the music, mingle, and drink. As night rolls around, the wealthy party guests plan on leaving the party because they are tired, but instead they become comfortable in the Nobile's home and sleep in various areas of the music room and one of the adjoining rooms that is off scenes. The guests wake up and realize that they are unable to leave the room. Events began to turn for the worse for these important people in society as they have to live like animals unexpectedly.

Based off reading the summary, it seemed like an interesting movie, but sadly I was wrong. There were a lot of characters to keep up with that I honestly couldn't remember anyone's name, except for the doctor and the waiter. The conversations between the guests seemed like stereotypical rich people talk at first, during the dinner, but afterwards, I couldn't understand anything that was going on. I also became annoyed that two or three characters would constantly repeat the same information. The concept seemed promising, but the execution seemed lost in translation or something. There was scandal and conflict, but with all the characters, it was hard to feel anything for them in this situation. A lot of things didn't make sense like people getting ill and the reason behind the sheep and the bear. The ending was a complete facepalm as well.

As I mentioned before, this has nothing to do with the lack of color or this being an older movie, because there are older movies I do enjoy. This just isn't one of them. I was so confused and the resolute made me want to toss my laptop out the window. Perhaps it is a cultural thing that is lost in translation that made me and my friend that watched it with me appreciate it less, but until that translation pops up into view, I won't be recommending this to anyone.

Rating: 1.5/5

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Top 7 Recommended Music Videos

"Amy" by SiM
Their newest mini-album was released a few days ago and they released a PV for it. It's different from "KiLLiNG Me", but similar in some ways with colorization. SiM does this storytelling thing about a little girl and her mother, I'm assuming. It mixes their ska roots with their new rock sound together effortlessly, making me want more. They also throw in some makeshift dubstep sounds in there as well to add for some interesting horror effects. Really looking forward to hearing the new mini soon.

"廃墟の☆帝王" by Litchi☆Hikari Club
I've been waiting to see the full version of this PV since the commercial hit YouTube and it finally got posted in the beginning of this month. I have the mini-album on my request list to review, so please keep an eye out for it in the near future. As for the PV, it lives up to every expectation I had for it and more. It's daring, intriguing, and has a forbidden sex appeal to it, thanks to Hakuei. I have read some of the manga, but I'd rather purchase and finish than rely on scanlations. I'm a hard copy girl, if you didn't know that by now. This was definitely worth the wait!

"Monolith" by Crossfaith
I hardly listen to this band, but that's not a terrible thing. It's just that they're really intense and sometimes I can't listen to them too much, but they're really great. They're latest PV is quite simple visually, but clever with imagery, scenery, and artistic angles. The song holds onto the band's intensity and fusion of electronic elements and heavy rock. It really pulls you in and rocks your mind with lyrical and drum attacks. Perhaps I should keep a better eye on these guys.

"Is the White Horse Coming?"/"Princess and Prince Charming" by Sunny Hill
I was a little concerned with Sunny Hill continuing their musical activities while Jang Hyun served his military time, but this isn't that bad. Sure, some people were a little surprised by this upbeat sound, but it still carries that consistent message about the Korean music industry and the group's original sound. Yes, if you listen to the second track from The Grasshopper you heard this same uptempo sound. I'm not too fond of the wardrobe choices, but it works for them somehow.

"Time of Extinction" by Jambinai
Yep, totally got this from EatYourKimchi. It's an amazing blend of traditional and dynamic rock elements that could easily be put into an action movie, think Kill Bill. As an aspiring film enthusiast, this really inspires me in so many ways, even the visuals strike ideas left and right in my mind. It's almost simple, but complex as the same time with the music and video. I'm really surprised by South Korea.

"See Through" by Primary feat. Gaeko of Dynamic Duo & Zion.T
I know I already praised Primary for working with Zion.T and now this was released and I like it so much more than the previous. I'm looking forward to hearing this whole album now, especially since I saw Bumkey in the mix. Anyway, the video is very fluorescent and in your face in a playful, slick way that matches the mood of this song. The beat is very smooth as well and it has this feel good, confident feeling about it that makes me want to smile and dance along to it. So much love here~

"Insanity Love" by e.via feat. ISU of M.C.TheMax
[(uncensored version)]
I was so excited to see that e.via was coming back and even more intrigued by this mature image change. I'm not disappointed either. There's two versions of this video, a censored and uncensored for certain age groups due to the lyrical and visual content that are inappropriate for young eyes and ears. There's a lot of fast rapping in this song and I wished it was balanced out a little better, but I like that it had a drama like sound in ISU's voice and the visuals were totally unexpected coming from her. I'm really interested on this new direction when the full album is released.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Promo: M.I.B

[from left to right] Cream, Sims, 5Zic, & KangNam

Jungle Entertainment is known for housing iconic hip-hop acts such as Drunken Tiger and Leessang, but, in 2011, they gathered four young men to create a hip-hop group. They were originally called Most Incredible Bastards, but quickly changed their name to Most Incredible Busters or M.I.B. Before releasing their debut album, each member made an individual music video to show off their skills. Later, their first single, G.D.M, was out for the public to hear and watch. It was recorded in the United States and gave a familiar vibe for overseas audiences that resembled Far East Movement. In late 2011, they released their self-titled debut album and later in 2012 the release of their next single, "Celebrate", was unveiled on YouTube.

I must admit "G.D.M" was a little too close to home with the Far East Movement vibe, but when I checked out the individual videos, I was steered a different direction. I recently listened to their debut album and it is nothing like Far East Movement. It fits the Jungle Entertainment sound and it really is hip-hop, unlike Big Bang and Block B claim to be in their beginnings. They have attitude, but they have fun as well. I'm not completely satisfied with their latest video release for "Celebrate", even though it features my favorite female Korean rapper Tasha. Nonetheless, I'm still looking forward to better quality videos and banging music from the boys.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Review: Big Bang's "ALIVE" (Korean & Japanese Editions)

Big Bang - ALIVE (2012, South Korea & Japan) Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: FANTASTIC BABY, Feeling, Ego

I have received a few music review requests and this mini-album received the most votes to be reviewed. So, let me put out a disclaimer for all you hardcore/elitist VIPs, I'm going to be very honest about the music and the videos. I do not hate Big Bang nor am I a VIP. I simply love music and I enjoy Big Bang. In this review, I will be covering the Korean release, bits and pieces of the Japanese release, and skim over my thoughts of the music videos. Don't expect me to do music video reviews very often on Muddy Cult either, unless it is highly requested by you, the followers. Since I have a lot to say as well, I will be using a different format for this review.

Coming into this album, I wasn't expecting much honestly. The last release was underwhelming despite the hype and I didn't get my hopes up when they were hyping up this release. I was happy that things had come together for the members, despite their rocky situations in 2011. Usually with great downfalls comes amazing music, right?

"Intro (ALIVE)" started off this album quite generically. Auto-tuned vocals from G-Dragon, Tae yang taking over all the vocals, T.O.P inserting random English lines here and there, and the other two members are no where to be found or, at least, their voices aren't prominent in this introduction. Not looking very good guys.

"BLUE" shows the softer side of Big Bang with dynamic drums and acoustic guitars. G-Dragon tries his hand at talk singing most of the song, but the real shining star in this song is Daesung which is probably the only good thing about this song. You would think Tae yang would be hogging all the vocal time in this slow song, but instead we get T.O.P's droning monotone rapping that drags this song to the gutter. The video was the first taste of the mini-album before release and they really didn't utilize much of New York. A little more than their Las Vegas trip, but the coloring and setting do fit the melancholy song. The concept of the video seemed a bit silly and, honestly, I think I've only seen it 1.5 times through. I just can't.

"Love Dust" does this weird TLC Fanmail intro with some random guy saying part of the title. It's a pretty standard song, but at least everyone gets a part in it. The vocals trade off quite effortlessly from Tae yang to Daesung to Seungri, so kudos to whoever arranged that. T.O.P sounds less robotic in this song, but there's too many effects that kinda throw this song off. Either way, it still sounds very standard and not all that exciting for me.

"BAD BOY" was the second music video release to promote their comeback. The colors are a little brighter and the concept is a little better than "BLUE", but they lack diversity of women. They really need to fire their stylist. I don't understand what they were trying for, unless it was mid-90s New York street fashion for stylish hobos or something. At first, I thought this song was gonna be a flop from the first noise out of G-Dragon's mouth and the echos, but the beat is pretty smooth and I guess it's alright. Slightly better than "BLUE". Everyone gets a part in the song and T.O.P isn't bored to death. Although, it's a little saddening that this video has borrowed concepts from Minwoo's "Don't Trust Men", which was pointed out by a friend, and 2NE1's "Lonely". Are we running out of ideas like SME, YG? Unfortunately, I didn't realize this song was good until I listened to the mini-album because honestly the music video made me dislike it lots.

"Ain't No Fun" is a track I was kinda looking forward to. As much as I don't like teasers and previews, I watched the video to this and it seemed promising. It started off with this retro beat, so far so good, then this mocking Seungri vocals came in. I don't know if he was making fun of the lyrics or what. Daesung doesn't seemed amused either and, of course, Tae yang jumps in with his usual energy of hogging everything great. He probably saved this track somehow. The chorus is decent, but overall the song is kinda bland. There is some promise if there was more unf! and less mocking vocals from G-Dragon and Seungri.

"FANTASTIC BABY" is a track and music video I have a lot to say about. Thanks, VIPs. =__= Where shall I start: the music video or the song? I guess Brown Eyed Girls saving the music industry from the evil government wasn't enough. So, who's going to save it? Rapunzel Minaj and Beetlejuice's nasally lovechild GD, swagalicious TaeBom Schwarzenegger, strong man Daesung, Seungri Carter, and Colonel T.O.P. Ah, their styling for this mini-album is so atrocious! I'll give them props for making an interesting music video that's purely high quality, having handsome Daesung show everything that makes him visually appealing, and mostly having me laughing my ass off at everything. Honestly, when the video was over I desperately wanted to watch Backstreet Boys' "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" video. Thanks, Seungri. As for the song, it's probably the best track on here and that's really not saying much as this mini-album isn't all that spectacular as they said it is. Sure, it's catchy and got fans spamming my social networks with infamous T.O.P lines "Boom shaka laka" and "Wow, Fantastic Baby" as forms of expression to every day conversations, but good grief! it's not that great. I'm sorry, but I refuse to "Boom shaka laka". I gave that up back in '97. Maybe even earlier than that. Anyway, it's your standard club electronic song with silly hooks, near nonexistent chorus, and it simply lures VIP zombies to peg this as "daebak" or whatever.

Daesung's "Wings" was an interesting end to this mini-album, excluding the various instrumental tracks that simply fill space. It's one of those inspirational rock pieces. The vocals aren't that bad, but it doesn't stand out as much as the emotional "Baby Don't Cry" or the Moon Hee Jun-esque "Lunatic". It's not a terrible song at all. You can tell he really had fun with this track. It has a little soul in the vocals and keeps the upbeat pace from "FANTASTIC BABY" with less electronic elements.

So, I said I would briefly talk about the Japanese version of ALIVE. Honestly, I don't feel like re-listening to these tracks. Majority of the time, I'm wondering whether they're singing in Japanese or not, which isn't a good sign. The difference between these two mini-albums is that the Japanese release features two new tracks.

"Feeling" has a standard dance sound to it that isn't as overwhelming or overworked as "FANTASTIC BABY". It sounds like a great party song, surprisingly. Even more surprising is that T.O.P has a big part and he's rapping in Japanese. I'm so proud of him. *sniffs* This is a very minimalistic song and it shows that the boys don't need all the special, shiny effects to make a good song. Why couldn't this be in the Korean version? Or at least the quality?

Lastly, the reason I even bothered with the Japanese version, "Ego" is the other track exclusively for the Japanese mini. When I first heard this, I was really a good way. This song is amazing! It has a simple melody, acoustics, and some good balanced out vocals from everyone. Out of all of the tracks made for this mini-album, this would be my favorite track. It's catchy, repeatable, and more T.O.P singing a little in Japanese. There's no fancy effects or try to hard overbearing music. If I was a VIP, I would be crying on how great this track is. Why couldn't they put this sort of quality into the other tracks?

I'm really glad my standards were set low for this comeback. There's so many things that could've made this release live up to the hype YG Entertainment displayed. I'm not sure if this is a step back or forward from the last release, but there were no track on here that made me want to spontaneously dance like "Tonight". My only disappointment lied with "Ain't No Fun", but that's about it. Obviously, I wasn't caught up with the "flawlessness" of this mini, but I will continue to jam to "Ego" without a care in the world.