*This was for my Creative Writing for the Musician class. I actually wasn’t planning to review GOT7’s album, but oh well. Was a good experience and I definitely want to try to do more album reviews in the future.*
Welcome to the world of Kpop. Kpop is a category of music rather than a genre. Kpop stands for Korean pop and the genres go from pop music to electronic to dance to hip hop to rock. It is usually an umbrella term that international fans use to describe Korean popular music. Often Kpop is made by entertainment groups that train girls and boys to be perfect dancers, singers, rappers, public figures. They are trained for two years or more before they debut. The Kpop system is very different from the American music system; in Kpop, groups often release several mini-albums, containing 6 to 8 tracks, before dropping a full album. Kpop groups are never bound to one concept; they tend to explore every possible concept, from being a cute image then being sexy, then being quirky. Kpop groups often perform on music shows like Inkigayo and Music Bank every weekend while they are promoting their material. They also make appearances on variety shows, to show that they are relatable to the public; often they will go for the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend vibe, as if they are dating their fans.
WHO IS GOT7?
GOT7 is a group from one of the ‘big three’ companies, JYP. GOT7 splashed onto the scene in 2014 after many teaser pictures and anticipation with their song “Girls Girls Girls”. The group was presented as a martial arts style group, with members Mark and Jackson performing flips during dance scenes. In addition, this group was unique in that three members weren’t Korean: Mark was Chinese American, Jackson was from Hong Kong, and Bam Bam was Thai. “Girls Girls Girls” didn’t make the biggest impression on me. They seemed a bit like wannabe hip hop stars and nothing was extraordinary. However, they showed promise, and thus were awarded several best new artist awards.
But then came GOT7’s entrance into the public world, namely Jackson’s entrance to variety shows. Everyone loved Jackson; he had a weird sense of humor, was spontaneous, and appealed to the international fans with his perfect English. He ended up winning the variety show award after being a member of the show “Roommate.” As GOT7 started appearing everywhere, they rolled out “A”, which was a refreshing, laid back song that seemed to fit the boys’ image better. Then came “Stop Stop It”, a futuristic concept with an electric beat. And then the boys went for a fluffier image with “Just Right”, which they would flip on its head immediately afterwards with the angsty “If You Do.” But then they restored their boy next door image with their Christmassy song “Confession Song,” penned by member Junior. And then, they rested until March when they came back with their mini album “Flight Log: Departure”.
FLIGHT LOG: DEPARTURE
GOT7’s title track “Fly” seemed to hold lots of promise, as teaser after teaser showed a potential music video that held a plot and seemed to hold depth. Fans got snippets of the audio, which sounded exciting, and the dancing, which looked sharp and strong. It seemed like “Fly” was set to finally get the boys another music show award. And it did; they won several music shows with the song, but for me, I wasn’t fully sold.
“Fly” starts out with interesting instrumentation, a hodgepodge of sounds along with a somewhat bland vocals. But then it kicked into gear to Jackson’s rap which had significantly improved. The song would have done well if it stayed as such, but then the bland voice came back for the prechorus, then segued into the chorus which was mostly falsetto. Then, back to the rap, this time by Mark.
The bridge of the song, in my opinion, could have been deleted. The falsetto sprinkled in between was unnecessary. If the song went straight to the breakdown of the chorus, I think it could have been better. Overall, I think that this song could have been improved if the intro and the bridge were cut out. The production of the song is really high quality, as there’s lots going on and the pulse keeps driving. But I feel like the beginning and the bridge take away from the mood of the rest of the song.
The next song, “I Can’t” was written by member Junior, and one of my favorites of the album. Again, the rapping was much better than in previous songs (as in the formulaic rap in “A”). The song progressed very smoothly and the parts of the song transitioned well. My only complaint with this song is that JB’s higher notes sounded lifeless. I know that he is a good singer, but it seemed like for this song, he was just hitting the notes and not putting character behind them.
“See the Light” is next, a project by members Mark, Bam Bam, and Yugyeom. This was my second favorite in the album. It was the slowest song and finally, for the first time, let the vocals shine more. If “See the Light” is the type of music we can expect from Mark, who took part in lyrics and composition, I hope to see more of his work in the next album. Maybe even for the title track? (which, by the way, wasn’t written by any of the members…)
And here comes the one song that I’m not totally sold on, “FISH”. JB took part in the lyrics and composition of the song. The concept behind the song could have been further extended, as it was creative; it was that the girl dragged the boy into her ‘fish tank’ and he couldn’t breathe and was floundering. This concept could have been extended further, but instead it was mentioned only in the chorus. I’m glad that JB thought in this direction and I’m hoping that in the future we’ll see more improved lyrics that dare to further explore ideas.
The song was the hip hop one of the album. The chorus had everyone singing/chanting. Rap was definitely the cornerstone of this song. I couldn’t get used to Jackson’s “oh my god (x3)”; it sounded a bit out of place in the song. Yugyeom’s voice worked well in the bridge, however, as it floated well over the instrumentation.
“REWIND” was epic and dramatic, and I expected the song to be on an angry topic or angst, but instead it was about wanting to go back in time to see a girl. I feel that the topic and the music didn’t match well, which disappointed me. The instrumentation on itself was elaborate and included an intense dance breakdown. It also incorporated rewinding sounds. The vocals also repeated “rewind” several times, but it sounded weird, as if just to fill the space. I think the song could have done without.
“Beggin on my Knees” was written by fellow company mate Day6’s Young K. It starts with organs, perhaps making the listener think that it will be on the scale of “REWIND”, then speeds up to its faster tempo. “Beggin on my Knees” as well as the song after it “Something Good” breaks from the rest of the mini album, in my opinion; there’s not as much snare or hihat in the hip hop style, making the songs sound a bit more laid back and refreshing. “Beggin on my Knees” was refreshing, but nothing too extraordinary in my opinion.
And finally, the mini album ends with “Something Good” by JB. This was a very pleasant song and a good way to end the mini album. It’s a feel good song with the vocals again in the forefront and good melodies. At the end of this song, I felt decently good about the album. Good choice, GOT7.
With “Flight Log: Departure”, fans got to sample GOT7’s creative works. It’s a shame that the title song wasn’t by the members, because after listening to “See the Light” and “I Can’t”, I fully believe that the members could produce a solid title track.
This album was decent. I’m not blown away by all of the songs, but I am excited for more of GOT7’s material. It’s good to see that each member has a different style in their composition, and perhaps in the future, we’ll see an album completely by them. It’s also impressive that a relatively young group is already taking charge in the song’s creation; often it takes a while for members to take the initiative.
In the future, I want to see a ballad on their album. Ballads stretch vocalists to showcase their ability, and we haven’t seen many from GOT7 yet. I wouldn’t even mind if it was a song without the rappers. I want to see the full extent of the vocalists, who I know and believe are fully capable. Unfortunately, with this album, they weren’t able to show off their skills as much as rap was highlighted more.
Would I recommend the entire album to a friend?- Probably not. I wasn’t sold on the entire album. I would recommend someone to listen to “See the Light”, “I Can’t”, and “Something Good”, which I’d like to add, are songs by the members themselves. Perhaps when GOT7 drops an album that they had full creative control over, I’ll recommend their album. But for now, I’ll wait.