Confettis of words

the bits and sketches in life

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28 2PM in 2013 Year End’s Music Festivals

I’m glad that finally 2PM was back performing in year end’s music festival on TV stations. It’s one way to prove that somehow they’re still relevant in Korean music industry. Having the chance to appear in three major TV stations, they didn’t start it smoothly during KBS Gayo Daejun. However, then things turned out well and they ended the year in a grand way. So here’s what I think about each performance. Do note that it’s my personal opinion, and you’re always welcome to share your own!

2PM’s stage in KBS is my least favourite because it seems to me it’s not prepared properly. Outfit-wise, the blue ombre shirt is gorgeous but to me being good-looking on stage isn’t enough for 2PM. I’ve never doubted their talent and hard-work; however, their performance this time disappoints me. I cringed when watching it for the first time. Didn’t bother to see it again but ended up doing it to confirm my first impression. Still didn’t like it, unfortunately.

The idea for the opening was actually promising, yet it’s not executed well. There were many so many dancers wearing the white suits on stage, blending with 2PM members. If Wooyoung’s hair hadn’t been dyed like that, I wouldn’t have recognized him. Just like I said previously, the concept was actually nice but with so many people there it looks messy to me. Furthermore, the timing in some parts were not right, like when they had to open or close the door.

But the main problem is the transition of the beat. It’s not smooth my friend even thought the song had stopped accidentally in the middle! There were some unnecessary seconds there, which shouldn’t have happened. The remixed R&B version was good though! The additional choreography for A.D.T.O.Y wasn’t bad yet not new. I spotted some movements from Missing You there, guys~ Then the performance ended just like that. No surprise, no wow at all. “Gitu doang?!” This expression in Indonesian is probably the most suitable to describe what I felt.

Small things also somehow annoy the hell out of me, such as Jun K was too busy folding up his sleeves he missed the choreography and Taecyeon was struggling with his tie during the first verse. I could go on and on complaining about this KBS performance. Let’s just move on with the SBS stage then.

There’s a soft spot in my heart for orchestra, so when I saw how they arranged A.D.T.O.Y in orchestra version, I immediately fell in love. Added with a choir, things were even more grand. Their choice to perform Heartbeat in SBS was doubtful at first since it’s from 2009. A website even commented that this song choice may signify the end of 2PM’s glory days. In the end I laughed silently at them because 2PM’s performance in SBS was mind-blowing to me!

I think Heartbeat was chosen so that the transition from one song to another would be smooth. Heartbeat and A.D.T.O.Y are similar in terms of atmosphere so it’s a correct choice to connect the two songs. On SBS stage, 2PM performed Heartbeat almost flawlessly due to the fact that they’ve done it so many times. What’s interesting to me is that no matter how many times they’ve performed it, Heartbeat performance always looks massive to me. The choreography is always sharp, intense and precise. It’s too bad Chansung had a microphone problem at the beginning.

The orchestra version of  A.D.T.O.Y was majestic and the song became even more powerful. I actually shed some tears when listening to it for the first time (partly because of the PMS). They also elevated the choreography to the new level by using a different kind of chair. They used the wheels of the office chairs to move and turn around, which would have been challenging if they hadn’t calculated the movement of the wheels. The office chair also seems to send the message like who’s the boss here hahaha. And I can’t comprehend why the part when their point finger slowly traced the chair could look so dang sexy! I guess that’s 2PM’s strength, either with or without any shirt on, they can make many fangirls swoon.

The outfit got an A from me. The colour was classy and mature, and it looks good on them (especially on Wooyoung since his hair colour matches the outfit in a peculiar way). The outfit also brought a certain visual effect when they turned their backs to the audience during A.D.T.O.Y’s reffrain.

The thing that bothers me a bit is that Wooyoung was too striking in this performance. Don’t get me wrong. If you know me you know how much I love him, but his presence was too strong it kinda covered the other members’ aura. The camera adored him too much it gave him too many shots. Also, his voice cracked everytime he began his parts. I can’t help but chuckling everytime I listen to it.

The last stage was in MBC and they did save the best for the last! They took a brave decision to leave out the chairs in A.D.T.O.Y and finally exposed their *ehm* abs again after a long time. Not saying that the abs was the most important element  but it did make the performance tastier, right? I dig the part when Junho first appeared on stage alone then one by one Taecyeon and Chansung came, followed by the three. I really appreciate their effort to design three different choreographies for the three music festivals. Unfortunately, this one in MBC lasted too short while I actually wanted to see more of the new choreography.

If they wore blue in KBS and red in SBS, they decided to go black in MBC. Black never goes wrong for 2PM, and it’s totally the best colour for A.D.T.O.Y performance. Although Jun K’s velvet sweater isn’t really my thing and it looks cheap on the camera, it’s still acceptable. You know what’s not acceptable in this performance? Wooyoung’s fake tan. The tan doesn’t go with his hair colour, only making him look like an LA surfer kinda guy.

If you listen to Grown, I’m sure that there were times when you asked why Game Over hasn’t been promoted. It’s a mighty song and very 2PM for its angst and toughness. Thankfully, they listened to our demand and finally performed Game Over on television. They brought the shields to the stage and just blew us away. It’s obvious how they all gave all their best in Game Over. Special mention should go to Jun K (for his amazing voice) and Taecyeon (for his powerful expression). The movement of the shields was smooth, and not only as a mere property, the shields help in making the overall performance strong and striking.

They didn’t do any new arrangement for Game Over, which is understandable since they rarely perform this, not like A.D.T.O.Y. The only thing that I object from this performance is the VCR at the background. It’s already crowded on stage and it only made things visually messy (especially when the camera took a long shot).

All in all, 2013 was an unforgettable year for Hottests. Their idols are finally back, ready to conquer the scene again. Although the result might not be as pleasing as expected, I’m convinced that the boys have learned so much. Arena Tour, Genesis of 2PM, one and even maybe two Korean albums: we have so many things to anticipate in 2014. This is gonna be an exciting year indeed!

The recap of my writings on 2PM in 2013:
Review on Grown
Review on Kimi no Koe
Review on Winter Games
2PM’s Hidden Gems
3 Favourite Videos
On Junho’s appearance in Cold Eyes
Review on 23, Male, Singles
2PM’s solo stages in Tokyo Dome



24 Six Colours: solo stages in The Legend of 2PM in Tokyo Dome


The concert in Tokyo Dome last April marks a big step for 2PM’s career in Japan. If you were there, you’re very lucky to have witnessed the legendary moment. If you were not (like me), at least we can watch it now because the DVD has been released *dances in joy*. Despite the small flaws (like Wooyoung lost his mask during Masquerade and Junho left some foundation on his white jacket …), the concert itself is a big feast for the ears and the eyes. Not to mention that it’s truly emotional. It would require a very long post to talk about the whole concert, so here I’m just gonna share my impression about the solo stages.


The first solo stage is Wooyoung with Sexy Lady. After Don’t Stop, Can’t Stop, the camera follows Wooyoung to the back stage and shoots him while he’s changing his outfit. With a teasing smile. No, you can’t expect me to stay quiet and put a flat expression while watching this scene. A big thank you to whoever-had-this-brilliant-idea!


Having performed this song for many times, Wooyoung looks confident with his solo stage. His dance is, like always, full of energy, flexibility and charisma. His expression is a bit awkward though when with the girls but I guess that’s how he is …


However, in voice department it’s clear that Wooyoung’s still struggling. He doesn’t have any problem with the verses but in the reffrain he still depends on the playback. I think it’s not because of the tempo since he sounded good when performing Wall to Wall, which is a medium-tempo song too with a challenging choreography. I can’t help but blaming the song. I don’t know, I always think that Sexy Lady isn’t suitable for Wooyoung.


For I Love You, You Love Me, Taecyeon brings a gang of Ok Cats on stage since one is not enough! Before that, a video is played, showing one Ok Cat greeting the fans outside Tokyo Dome. Not knowing that it’s Taecyeon inside the costume, the fans took photos and hugged him. When finally it’s revealed that it’s the master himself, the audience instantly screams hahaha.


Actually, even though Taecyeon holds the rapper position in the group, he sings quite well like in Traición. Yet due to over-excitement, his voice is shaky in several parts.

taec-iloveu-3Overall, Taecyeon’s solo performance is cute. It’s hard for a big bulky guy to act naturally cute, but he manages in doing so. The performance is designed to be light and fun, so just expect it to be like that. It’s not Taecyeon’s best performance to be honest, but he got an A from me for his effort in building happy atmosphere for the crowd.


Nichkhun cools down the atmosphere with Let It Rain. I have to say it is truly beautiful. I didn’t expect Nichkhun’s voice would be that stable but it was! He doesn’t sing in acrobatic notes or tries to show off his singing skill. He just wants to deliver his gratitude to Hottest who have been supporting him. That’s what makes his solo stage sound so sincere.


There are so many close-up shots of Nichkhun’s performance, and I love how the camera exposes his natural face with all the zits. You can also see how serious he is when performing. (and look at those beautifully bushy eyebrows!)


Supported by a great stage design and composition and proper lighting, Nichkhun’s Let It Rain is one of the prettiest performances from the whole concert.


Meanwhile, Jun K offers a massive performance. A choir starts the performance in a thetrical way, and they sing the intro of Alive before he appears, ready for True Swag. Even from the way he stands, you know that Jun K’s gonna slay the stage.


The outfit is a bit too much, I think. It would look classier if he took off that ‘handkerchief’. Other than that, everything else is great and suits the concept of the song. There is a part where he suddenly wears this big bad wolf mask. I don’t really see the relevance of the mask with the song but somehow it looks cool and adds the dramatic effect.


It’s unfair how Jun K can both sing and rap so marvellously! His strong voice fills the whole Dome, so hypnotizing. The last rap part is uh-may-zing and it closes the performance in  a grand and victorious way.


Another performance that got me anxious is Chansung’s Oh. The screen shows him driving a car, meeting a lady in red, getting bitten and turning into a vampire. A bit predictable actually, but Chansung looks gorgeous in it, so … it’s forgiven.


Despite the tacky VCR, Chansung presents a satisfying performance. His voice is relatively steady and he doesn’t sound trembling even when he moves a lot. From all Chansung’s solo songs, Oh is my favourite so it’s a big relief to see him performing this song well. By the way, red and blue are the colours that dominate that solo stage. Combine those two colours and you have, voila, purple, Chansung’s color 🙂


 When it comes to exploring emotion , Chansung is always the best. He shows proper chemistry wih the female dancer. There are passion, curiosity and mysteriousness, and our magnae brings them all to the stage in such a stylish way.


My most favourite solo stage goes to Junho’s Say Yes. Showing his boyish charm, he has magnetized us starting from the VCR until the end of the performance. Junho’s voice is flexible in a way he could sing in various genres but I think he’s the most excellent when he sings rock songs.


His solo stage is full of energy and confidence. No back-up dancers, no hi-tech stage design, no unnecessary choreography like in Just A Feeling. Only him alone on stage but how he looks and sounds amazing! He runs around the stage and jumps like an Energizer penguin to the beat of the song. He also teases the crowd when he cups his ear, trying to hear their voice. It’s a teaser of Kimi no Koe, very smart of you, Junho 😀


Well, what can I say? Lee Junho knows what he wants and he knows how to do it amazingly.

What I like about 2PM is that even though as a team they’re rock solid, each member still manages to demonstrate his individual talent through solo performance. Six solo stages with six colours and they all shine in their own way.

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22 Looking Back: 23, Male, Single by Jang Wooyoung


When a few weeks ago Wooyoung changed his Instagram bio description into some kind of code, a rumour circulated right away that he’s going to release a new solo album. The fact that he stayed longer in Japan than other 2PM members also seemed to reinforce the speculation. It gave me the mixed feeling: there’s so much anticipation but at the same time I didn’t want to keep my hopes up high. Another thing this rumour brought was the desire to listen to 23, Male, Single again. Undoubtedly, the songs in the album are my daily dose, but this time I wanted to enjoy it as a unity. A year after its release, have I changed my mind about this album?

In terms of sales, I think 78,000+ isn’t a poor number, and the album also made Wooyoung win an award as Best Korean New Solo Artist in YinYueTai V-Chart Awards. However, many people said that 23, Male, Single was a flop since it didn’t win in any music chart. They also stated that Wooyoung could’ve done better, which I agree with. Despite the chart disappointment, in my opinion this album is a fruitful effort to show Wooyoung’s individual talent. In 2PM, his singing skill is probably outshined by Jun K and Junho, but his solo songs demonstrate that his voice actually could fit in various genres.

Speaking about the single, when I listened to Sexy Lady for the first time, I thought it was horrible. After a year, sadly I haven’t changed my mind. Despite the catchy reffrain, I feel the song is overall dull. As a first solo single, it did give the expected shocking effect by showing a totally different image of Wooyoung, but somehow it seems that he’s trying too much. 2NITE, the opening track, would deliver a better statement in my opinion. The song echoes JYP for its swing influence but most importantly, it presents enthusiasm and liveliness, Wooyoung’s side that his fans adore so much.


Meanwhile, other songs in the album are mostly suitable for Wooyoung’s soft and occasionally nasal voice (Except DJ Got Me Goin’ Crazy, in which he seems unable to keep up with the tempo). Be With You is a gentle song with some hints of sensuality. Wooyoung executed the track finely, including the rap part although it’s not his specialty. The up-beat track Could Not Even Start is another fine achievement, and the sweet Only Girl gives a chance for us to listen completely to Wooyoung’s velvety voice. But for me, the best track in 23, Male, Single is the underrated Falling Down. Expressing apology and hopelessness of the persona who regrets his decision to leave his lover, Wooyoung sounds so fragile, sincere and beautiful. I’ve been in love with this song since the very first time I heard it.

You know those kids in class who are not the best achievers but always show the best spirit? To me Wooyoung is that kind of student. I think in a way he realized that he hasn’t done his best for his debut album. Thus, when other members were busy with their solo activities, he spent time studying many things, including song composition and design. Through his composition This Is Love that he proudly performed in What Time Is It Tour Finale, he seems to have found his confidence back. Now we can only wish that JYPE will give a second chance for Wooyoung. Because The Man truly deserves it.

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20 Tacky, Sensual and Warm: three favourite 2PM’s MVs

Music videos have become a significant promotional tool in contemporary Korean music industry. Although some companies still rely on videos that focus on choreography, some spend more money and effort to create artsy visualization of the songs. Truth be told, 2PM doesn’t have visually mind-blowing MVs. Most of their videos expose their choreography more, or if there’s any plot it’s not a surprising one (Tik Tok might be one exception). Nevertheless, they still have videos that you can watch again and again for its eye-catchiness. Here are three of my favourites, and I basically chose them because each manages to capture the essence of the song.

Hands Up

Hands Up is a tacky party anthem, and the MV does a great job in visualizing this spirit. Shot in a club in Singapore, the MV portrays everything that is shiny, entertaining and wild. This formula works well. Hands Up  sent 2PM to huge popularity.


Besides the club setting, the MV builds the party atmosphere by its effective use of camera. For solo shots, a camera is strapped to the member’s hips and it sways (and sometimes rocks) everytime the member moves. This technique of camera positioning allows viewers to see the members’ ecstatic face, as you can see from Chansung’s shot here.


The fast-cut editing depicts the craziness of the party, and to follow the beat of the songs, the MV uses this kind of ‘stuttering’ cuts in some scenes. The setting, the outfits and the cinematography: everything is just unified in Hands Up MV. No wonder it’s a massive success.



If in Come Back When You Heart This Song MV each member of 2PM represents one deadly sin, in A.D.T.O.Y  it seems that 2PM portrays only one, which is lust. It can’t be ignored that the MV sells sensuality, but like Nichkhun said A.D.T.O.Y is “sexy but not overly done”. That, I agree with.


For A.D.T.O.Y, black and white tone is used. While it makes the MV look classic, at the same time it conveys the duality of the feeling. Is it love or lust? Or maybe both?


You know what’s so good about A.D.T.O.Y MV? The sex is there and is also not there. The MV uses fast-cut editing to follow the tempo of the song, but this editing also succeeds in building the emotion. The make-out scenes are mostly shown in quick, close-up shots. Before they kiss or move on to higher level of steaminess, the camera already moves to another scene. We hardly have time to identify the girl’s face. But that’s what makes this MV so tense and thrilling.


Only You

2PM’s MVs like Without You and Masquerade highlight their muscular and manly figures, and fans go crazy over them. Funnily, it’s when they show less I fall in love with them even more. In Only You MV, the boys basically just hang around, enjoying the wine and the sunlight, and everything looks warm and peaceful. If I could live in one MV, it would be in Only You.


The natural lighting and soft filter contribute warmth and serenity to the MV. Meanwhile, close-up shots are applied in capturing the member’s expression when, for example, reading fans’ letters. Long shots are also used to portray the six members in one frame, displaying their togetherness.


More sweet moments are shown in a scene when the members are flipping their album photobooks, remembering what they’ve been through and achieved. Released as the single from 2PM Member’s Selection, Only You also reminds us that 2PM doesn’t depend on their muscles only. They could just sit down and still captivate our hearts.


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19 A Winter Tale: on 2PM’s Winter Games


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.

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18 More than Just Hands Up: 2PM’s Hidden Gems

2PM is one of the first Korean groups I came across to (the others are Super Junior and JYJ). I got in touch with their music through Heartbeat, and it didn’t engage me at first. I used to think it was a weird song, to be honest. Then I listened to Hands Up album, but it didn’t quite grab me as well. I started to pay more attention to 2PM since the release of Wooyoung’s solo album. After that, I looked for the group’s other releases, both Korean and Japanese, and I LOVE them. I kept asking myself, where have I been? How could I miss these precious songs? Oh yeah, I was too busy stanning another group which seems to be in a musical hiatus at the moment …

Grown has shown how in a span of five years 2PM’s music has developed quite significantly. Their involvement in the production of their music is also getting bigger.  Talking about this topic always gets me all excited, and my way to chanel this excitement is through writing. I’ve written about Grown here, yet I want to write more about their music. Actually I’m thinking to write a review on all their albums. However, since that’ll take much time and deeper listening to the albums, I’m gonna start with this simple one first: hidden gems from 2PM’s albums (I decided to include Wooyoung and Junho’s solo albums too).

We know how anthemic Hands Up is or how powerful Heartbeat is. Yet there are so many good songs in their albums and EPs that some people probably overlook or simply forget. The songs come in various genres and might not be for everyone, but they indeed highlight the boys’ potential that might be unnoticed in their singles.

From 01:59

1. All Night Long
All Night Long starts with Taecyeon’s monologue, which makes you soon realize where this song will take you. Sensuality seems to ooze out of every note, and you can’t help thinking that the performance of All Night Long would compete Back to You.

2 Maybe She’ll Come Back (Bossa Nova mix)
The original version is beautiful, but the contrast between the soft, soothing  Bossa Nova atmosphere and the sad lyrics adds more charm to the song. You can also hear their voices even more clearly in this version.

From Still 2PM

3. Dance Tonight
2PM goes unexpectedly groovy in this song. You won’t stop dancing to Dance Tonight because it’s too addictive. Maja and I Know are also enjoyable tracks but Dance Tonight stands out for it presents a fresh side of 2PM.

4. Even If You Leave Me
Just recently found Even If You Leave Me and instantly in love with it. I really love the space-y atmosphere in this song that somehow points out the sadness and the hollowness of the lyrics. This could be the melancholy, male version of fX’s Airplane.

From Hands Up

5. Hot
In my opinion, Hot is the best song from the album for its captivating, energetic beat (what 2PM excels at) . Although Hot is full of effects that distort the members’ voices, it’s forgiven because it intensifies the ambience of the song. Also, Hot sent this confirmation to me that Jun. K is a promising song-writer.

6. Electricity (220 v remix)
The original version of Electricity is too hip-hop for me and I don’t think that genre suits 2PM well. I prefer this version because it’s more, yeah, electrifying.

7. Just Like The Movies
What I really like about Just Like The Movies is how the music and the lyrics are unified to build this old-movie atmosphere. The sound of the film rolling makes the song even more perfect. Not to mention Taecyeon’s emotional rap.

From Republic of 2PM

8. Stay with Me
It’s one of my favourite songs from 2PM. Stay with Me is the warm sweetness in your mouth, the embracing sunlight during the day.

9. 100th Day Anniversary
Besides Stay with Me and Even When We’re Apart, 100th Day Anniversary is another track in Republic of 2PM that proves  these so-called beastly-dols can sound so gentle. 2PM is famous for its up-beat dance tracks but they actually also can handle ballad songs really well.

From 23, Male, Single

10. Falling Down
23, Male, Single
doesn’t fully represent Wooyoung’s talent. We all know he could do better. However, Falling Down is this charming song that exposes Wooyoung’s soft voice. When he desperately sings “Baby I’m so sorry, I’m going crazy,”, you just have to forgive him.

From Legend of 2PM

11. This is Love
Legend of 2PM has so many good songs which have the potential to be singles, and This is Love is one of them. It has this 80’s English pop vibe that has been revived by Hurts. 2PM’s version is much brighter, of course.

12. SOS Man
If This is Love sounds English,  SOS Man is like a song from a New York-based punk funk band. No, The Rapture didnt make this song, it’s JYP.

From Grown

13. Today Marks The First Day
It’s hard to pick my favourite song from Grown besides the two title tracks. Each song has something to be liked, and the fact that they’re more involved in the production makes me love the album even more. In the end I chose Today Marks The First Day. I love the music (the piano and the brass-section sound soooo pleasant) and the boys sing really really well in it.

From Give Me Love

14. Falling in Love
It’s so catchy you just wanna move your body when listening to Falling in Love. Again, Jun K shows us his talent in writing excellent songs. Just abandon the metaphor “You are a scorpion” though.

From Kimi no Koe

15. Close Your Eyes
Overall, Kimi no Koe is an adorable album, perfect for summer days (read my review here). Where is the tease that Junho once offered in Be With You and Give It to Me? You can find it in Close Your Eyes. You know that kind of song is one of Junho’s specialties 😉

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


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