[Review][Single] SISTAR19 - "Gone Not Around Any Longer"
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I generally review all the songs from any K-Pop release, but today I am breaking this trend with SISTAR19's latest release 'Gone Not Around Any Longer'. First, if we take away the Intro, re-release of "Ma Boy", and instrumental version of the title track, we are only left with one other track worth reviewing. Second, most people tend to care solely about the title song. But most importantly, I feel there is more than enough to be said about the title track "Gone Not Around Any Longer", so I feel it will be best served to concentrate my efforts to this one track.
For my review of the Brave Brothers' helmed production, "Gone Not Around Any Longer", I will frame it in the style of my self-created theory entitled: Three Easy Steps to Destroy a Perfectly Good Song.
Step #1: Add a poor quality synthesizer line that doesn't sync in any way with the rest of the song.
Seriously, I'm not even sure what the producers here were thinking with this one. I assume it's supposed to be a saxophone of some kind, which I inherently have nothing against: saxophones samples/synths have worked perfectly well in other K-Pop songs, the first example off the top of my head being 4Minute's "Volume Up". At least tease us and make it sound like a saxophone, not some 32-bit-esque patch reminiscent of a bad Super Nintendo game. If the sound itself wasn't bad enough, its joyous melody line, rhythmic friction, and poor leveling render the vocal lines to such a level that I didn't think was possible, interfering with the overall piece in every way imaginable. I get that there might be some who respond to this technique as representing the frustrated, irritated feeling of reminiscing over a lost love, but I'm not buying this whatsoever. I call foul play on poor, rushed editing.
Step #2: Create a sub-unit duet, but only allow one singer to sing.
On a track with about a minute and half of actual singing with lyrics, you would expect at least a somewhat balanced distribution between a sub unit of just two members. It's a crime that the producers offered a mere 15 seconds to Bora's one verse, while the second part of her rap was overdubbed with Hyorin singing the same words. I get the fact that Hyorin may not be big enough of a name to allow her to go alone quite yet without the SISTAR name attached to her, thus needing her group mate adjoined to her hip. If the producers aren't willing to let Bora shine, just give Hyorin the opportunity to go solo and I'm sure she'll have as flourishing career that a K-Pop female idol can have.
Step #3: Do not give your most talented singer a chance to strut her stuff.
In the mainstream pop canon, slow tempo songs are generally used primarily to demonstrate vocal skills. Hyorin is truly given one opportunity to demonstrate any vocal prowess outside of light inflections, and I wonder what the producers heard that they decided to give this particular cut the green light. At the end, Hyorin ascends a scale interrupted by heavily aspirated and forgettable high note wail. It sounds like Hyorin is ultimately struggling to even reach a note that she is very well capable of reaching. Again, I get that someone could contextualize this as it represents her struggling with the memory of her lost love, but again I'm not buying it. Even if this were the case, Hyorin falls short of her expected capability.
Should the producers have corrected these wrongs, I think this would have been an incredibly strong track. As demonstrated with their mega-hit "Alone", the makeup of SISTAR allows for sensual, down-tempo songs to actually be a strength of theirs. I'm especially fond of the song arrangement in this case, especially the ending. I found the vocal-less piano break that lead to the minimalist, fragmented ending "chorus" tastefully arranged to fully represent the context of the lyrics. The song melody itself is approachable, yet sensual and catchy at the same time: I found myself humming it the next day walking the streets of my city.
"Gone Not Around Any Longer" could have easily been another strong member in the lineup of the SISTAR single canon, but I can't overlook the blatant and evident downfalls. What would have been a well done song turns into one of the more head-scratching releases thus far in 2013—and boy has there been some head scratching, to say the least. I am hoping this trend of underachieving duo sub-units (see 2Yoon's "24/7") will turn for the better, but I'm not overly optimistic considering what has been churned out to date. Nonetheless, I don't necessarily believe this will undermine SISTAR's bright future in anyway, and I anticipate their next release will be more than we could hope for.
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