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10 The Misconception and The Evolution: on 2PM’s Grown

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I believe some people have this opinion that 2PM is only about muscles, six-pack abs and acrobatic choreography. I used to be one of those people, to tell you the truth. When seeing them for the first time in a music festival held by one brand of smart phone, I was thinking, “What are these guys doing? Doing this running-on-the treadmill dance, and girls are screaming over that?”. But two years have passed with so many commotions going on, and I’m glad I was wrong about 2PM.

After a long hiatus in Korean music scene, they’re back with the third album. Just like the title suggests, they want to show a new image, a mature one, and it’s obvious from one of their two MVs, A.D.T.O.Y. Since the beginning of their career, sensuality is a significant part of 2PM’s image. It may be wrapped with a humorous way in 10 out of 10 MV, but it’s there. Back to A.D.T.O.Y  MV, this time there isn’t any joke though. They offer sensuality as it is by presenting scenes in which they make out with a girl. A local TV here even thought the MV is too steamy they edited some scenes. However, the steaminess of the MV isn’t what this piece of writing wants to discuss much. It prefers to talk about their third album, Grown.

Many were disappointed when Come Back When You Hear This Song was released. They thought that the song was too weak for the long-awaited comeback.  It’s a common reaction that I found in social media, which is normal since many people anticipated a powerful anthem like Hands Up. I was confused by the choice too at the beginning. CBWYHTS isn’t a bad song; in fact, I like the melody and the vocals in it. It’s a song about begging the girl to come back, the emotion of which is delivered  properly: not too sweet, not too melancholy. But this was not what some people had been expecting. They wanted 2PM to be hot and teasing.

Then A.D.T.O.Y came.

A.D.T.O.Y  is a very intense song. The lyric tells how the persona is getting crazier from thinking about this girl day and night (as told desperately through Taec’s rap part I’m crazy/ That’s what you do/ Please help me). This tale about an obsession is supported by the music, with thrilling orchestra-influenced sounds, distorted vocal effects, and the racing beat during Taecyeon and Chansung’s rap parts. The beat gets softer during Jun. K and Wooyoung’s lines, and that somehow illustrates the emotional roller-coaster ride of the persona. The only thing that annoys me a bit (just a tiny bit, trust me) is Nichkhun’s falsetto, but still, kudos to him for bravely making the effort! It’s also important to note that A.D.T.O.Y  (also CBWYHTS) was mastered by Geoff Pesche from Abbey Road Studios. No wonder all sounds were blended and come out so right!

Most songs from Grown are not what I expected to come from 2PM. Instead of giving us the typical up-beat and heavily electronic songs, Grown offers us this new musical improvement of 2PM with jazzy and laid-back sounds. When Taecyeon said in an interview that the album doesn’t mark their fifth-anniversary but more like a preparation for the next five years, I understand what he meant. The members have taken more parts in composing and writing the lyrics of some songs, and in this idol-world where companies strongly control the musical aspects, this is still rare. For me, Grown is 2PM’s statement that they want to be taken more seriously as artists.

The only song from Grown that comes close to their early songs would be Game Over. It’s powerful, and I’m sure it’ll be great when performed on stage. However, it’s tracks like I’m Sorry, Today Marks The First Day, Dangerous and Love Song that stole my heart and made me notice how this album really gives a chance for them to improve their vocal skills. Jun. K is still the most notable singer in 2PM but it seems to me his voice is less dominating in this album, which is good since now we know how each member has got better at singing. If I have to make an analogy about their voices, it’ll be like this: Jun.K’s voice is like a punch on your face, tough and direct; Junho’s takes your palm and squeezes it affectionately; Wooyoung’s is this soft tickle: it makes you smile; Taecyeon’s bass voice is this brotherly fist on your shoulder; Nichkhun’s gives you a pat on your head; and Chansung’s rubs your back warmly. (hahaha, maybe this is an analogy only understood by me lol)

Chansung is the one that surprises me the most in terms of vocal improvement. I remember how my sis and I once discussed how we actually liked the colour of his voice, but at the same time I remember how I cruelly laughed at his performance in MAMA 2010. My deepest apology now, Chansung, you’ve proven that you could sing well. And your part in I’m Sorry? I can’t stop-stop-stop listening to it 😉

Grown isn’t a perfect album. Some responses to it said that it’s kinda hard to differenciate one song to another, which is what I experienced too. I also still can’t say I enjoy all parts of Taecyeon’s rap. But what is a perfect album anyway? I’m glad that Grown isn’t one because it means there will be space left for them to grow even more. The evolution hasn’t stopped yet, and we’d be very happy to witness the next phase of 2PM.

This is for you and for all the things I can’t express with words – Love Song

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