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.

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