The phrase ‘winter games’ might remind you of people racing and skiing in the midst of snow, but for 2PM, Winter Games is about being broken-hearted but still looking gorgeous in a trench coat. For their seventh Japanese single, 2PM took the grief of the season and put it into a great combination of song, choreography and appearance. In their Yazoo fanmeeting in Japan, 2PM performed Winter Games for the first time, leaving Hottests in awe. But does the recorded version have the similar charm?
Written by Super Changdai, Winter Games is an emotional, upbeat track about passionately longing for a lost lover. The orchestra and the banging drum in the chorus add thrill to the desperate love story, and the harp-like sound brings a winter fairy-tale effect. Overall, I like the construction of the song. The verses, the chorus and the rap parts are arranged well. If it’s a short story, I would say it’s a well-plotted one and rightly set in bleak winter. In vocal department, 2PM does a good job. It’s not their strongest performance, but their vocals contain enough feeling and power needed for the song. However, this is also where the problem lies. Winter Games is overly autotuned it ruins some parts of the song. I don’t mind additional effects to vocal to create a certain atmosphere, like in Hot or A.D.T.O.Y, but Winter Games doesn’t need that. The melody itself is already beautiful and deep, no autotune is necessary.
Thankfully, what hurts me from Winter Games is healed by the charming Stay Here. It might be only a b-side but it champions over Winter Games in several aspects. 2PM’s vocals are autotune free here, and we can hear how they’ve become more comfortable in singing Japanese songs. I also enjoy the flow of Stay Here. Wooyoung starts the song softly, continued by Chansung’s deep, comforting voice. Junho elevates the tension of the song in the chorus, and it gets even more touching when Jun K fervently begs the lover to ‘stay here’. I’m not a big fan of Taecyeon’s rap but even his rap tempo feels right here. And let’s not forget our Nichkhun who contributes his sweet vocal, completing the feeling of the track. Listening to the instrumental version makes me adore the song even more. There are some bass and guitar elements of New Order circa Regret there, and the piano reminds me of Keane. This comparison isn’t made to show that 2PM isn’t original, but it’s nice to hear that they’re not stuck in the same genre and always develop new sounds.
In version B, the Japanese version of Come Back When You Hear The Song is added. It’s not much different from the original one although it misses the catchy ‘dorawa’ part. After Give Me Love and Winter Games, I expect that a new Japanese album will be released soon. If they’re consistent with the music offered by those two singles (and the two worth-listening b-sides), I believe their next album will beat their own amazing Legend of 2PM and help them soar to another level of musical appreciation and respect from pop music lovers, not just from Hottests. We’re anticipating, 2PM.