[Review] Brown Eyed Girls 'The Original'
I know what some of you may be thinking. You're probably confused, perhaps even a bit disappointed, by 'The Original', the latest release by the long-withstanding group Brown Eyed Girls.
Compared to the past two major singles released by this group, "Abracadabra" and "Sixth Sense", the two songs included in this new digital single release seem to be the product of a completely different group. The single lacks the heavily synthesized electronic sound that defined "Abracadabra" and the in-your-face aggressiveness and raw power that was present in "Sixth Sense". It was these musical elements that made Brown Eyed Girls such a household name in K-pop.
However, these elements have been a more recent development in the progression of BEG's image. To prove this, I encourage you to obtain a copy of their first album 'Your Story' and listen to a few tracks before you continue on with this review. I embedded a track below as an example.
Go ahead. I'll wait.
Nice, huh? I thought you might like it. Their album 'Your Story', while critically acclaimed, never saw the commercial success that "Abracadabra" and "Sixth Sense" brought the group. This is quite a shame as their fusion of Motown-esque R&B and '90s hip hop elements display the pure versatility and talent that the group possesses. With the tracks in 'The Original' possessing many similarities to the elements found in this album, the creation is undoubtedly an attempt for the group to return to its roots. This certainly isn't a bad decision by any means, it's just not what many listeners and fans of the group may be familiar with and thus could be a source for scorn.
The title track, "One Summer Night"/ "One Summer Night's Dream", clearly resembles their early influences in music right from the opening. A brushed drumkit opens to an unassuming deep electric bass and Fender Rhodes funk-based riff that is reminiscent of an Otis Redding ballad arrangement of an Aretha Franklin tune. While Narsha's opening isn't quite comparable to the great Franklin, her light, sensual voice sets the tone perfectly for the classic composition technique of a piece that starts off timid, yet grows with power as the track continues.
This track certainly adheres to this tried-and-true formula, but not until our ears are graced with perhaps the highlight of the entire release: Miryo's rap break. Miryo already established herself as one of the elite rappers in mainstream K-Pop with her driving performance in "Sixth Sense", but the flexibility in her rapping style, as shown here, clearly demonstrates her true artistic ability. While her performance is overall quite subdued and breathy compared to what we are used to from her, these elements, in addition to her rhythmic flow, both complements and correlates well with the pre-established rhythmic groove in the song. The rap flows like an undisrupted river, and proves to be a necessary and natural element in the song—something that is becoming more and more rare with the increasing usage of rap breaks in K-Pop.
This track progressively builds up in intensity following the rap, and provides an outlet for the group to express their true vocal prowess. This build up corresponds to the lyrics well, as we are being told of an increasing desire to continue living in an euphoric dream of true love. This feeling of passion is found in the increasingly soul-laden voices of the group until we reach the climax of Narsha's near-whistle register flaunt on the lyrics, 'kiss me'. The track ends suddenly in a somber manner, which allows the listener to reflect the true power and artistry that was just unpreparedly thrown upon them.
The second track, "Come With Me", is strong in its own right, but follows the formula of a more traditional K-Pop ballad. The track opens with a dreamy piano chord sequence that is slowly mixed with a light, floaty orchestral string section. After introducing the basic structure of the verse and refrain, a surprisingly fitting heavy drum track and synthesizer is overlaid to create a driving rhythmic feel that carries the piece with definition until its finish.
The salient feature in this piece is the refrain and break section that features the group singing in harmonized melodic blocks. This effect is rarely seen in K-Pop, due mostly to the sheer size of the groups or the lack in equal vocal talents amongst the members. Though these features aren't usually attributed to BEG, they have the ability to pull this off effortlessly. The result is a refreshingly full textural feel on a musical level that is missing from the usual unison melody structure prominent in most groups. This musical element allows for a perfect musical base for the group to show off their vocal talents, as evident in the break section prior to Miryo's rap break with the repetitious melodic elements following the lyrics 'it's not over'.
The music again is a near perfect sonic representation of the sorrowful lyrics. The song expresses loneliness, loss of love, and desire to be loved again like before. The textures, passionate vocals, and incomplete ending perfectly depict the emotional roller coaster the protagonist is experiencing.
Judging by the early mass response of this digital release, it seems that this may not be as well received on a level of popularity that the group has previously experienced with their recent hits. They certainly have not, nor probably will, experience an all-kill like many other headlining artists experience with each release. It almost seems as if the group will relive the response that their first album brought upon them. This is quite a shame. The level of artistic talent on a pop music level is truly top-notch. 'The Original', while different than what we have recently heard from BEG, is certainly one that is ultimately worth raving about.
Pros: Top-notch artistry, returning to group's earlier musical identity, Miryo's rap on "One Summer Night", vocal harmony blocks, textual representation in music.
Cons: Not what everyone is used to from BEG; composition of "Come With Me" is solid, but not necessarily great.
What are your thoughts on Brown Eyed Girls' "The Original"? Leave an honest rating and your thoughts in the comments below.
Note: this article does not reflect the opinions of allkpop, only the author.
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