Take out the soloists and non-idolistic singers, Kpop industry has been stereotyping its music sung by idol groups recently. Typically, a group, despite boy group or girl group, debuts with a cute and light song that shows each member’s youth and innocence, or an “addictive” song with repeated melody – and this addictive style is continuously used throughout a group’s entire career life.
Take some famous groups for example, Girls’ Generation (SNSD) debuted with the delightful and cute “Into The New World” and got famous with their addictive “Gee” and “Genie“; Wonder Girls got famous with their addictive and cute “Tell Me” and “Nobody“; Super Junior, even though they debuted with a rather strong song, “Twin (Knock Out)“, heavily fell into the most stereotypical type: their title songs had ALWAYS been the addictive and repeatitive cliche kind – “Sorry Sorry“, “Bonamana“, “Mr. Simple“, “A-Cha“… Even 2NE1, considered different and unique by many Kpop listeners today, debuted with “Lollipop“, which was definitely a cliché catchy song.
Not that this stereotype setting that idol groups follow is bad, but over time this setting gets old as it has become very cliché to many people. Kpop idol industry needs new blood. And here B.A.P, a fresh rookie group that debuted last month, comes, bringing fresh breeze and fresh blood to Kpop idol industry with their rebellious and powerful song, “Warrior”.
It is astonishing how confident and proud-lookng these rookies look – nobody would ever think of that each member is born after 1990, and that the youngest one, Zelo (the boy with curly hair who got shot at the end), is only 15 years old. Despite being filmed in front of many cameras for the first time, B.A.P perfectly delivered masculinity, rebelliousness and confidence with their angry and even intimidating facial expression. That is absolutely new. Never before had a group, not to speak of rookie group, dared to “distort” its members’ face to achieve a rebellious effect; no agencies wanted to show “negativity” and “arrogance” that would ruin the perfect image of their idols. But TS Entertainment and its B.A.P did it, perfectly.
Now let’s come back to the song itself. Starting with the line “Warrior is BACK”, B.A.P sounds like a veteran and prestigious group rather than a rookie group, once more showing its confidence. The heavy roll of drums throughout the song gives a feeling of masculine strength, the whistle adds an atmosphere of rigorous military, and the deep “WHU! WHU!” sounds, the rather funky and erratically high “YEEAAHH” sounds B.A.P makes and even the group clapping during the bridge even create a feeling of a gang. The verses are mainly raps – which can sometimes be boring and monotone if the listener doesn’t understand the language, yet in “Warrior” the rapping parts neatly tie into the powerful instrumental melody and turn into a part of the melody themselves. The chorus is catchy and memorable, but unlike all the other “addictive” songs using monotone melodies, the chorus of “Warrior” achieve this effect differently: it sounds almost like a slogan to be yelled out, a short, punchy phrase coming along with a convincing line. And slogans are very memorable. The high note near the end, though some people view it as a ruin of the power of the song, seems to me because that line is a yell-out to “너(you)” (pronounced “no”), the listener, and the high and long note gives an appealing shout.
Another remarkable point of “Warrior” is that the lyrics actually fits the melody, the MV and the dance – it is about rebellion, not romance, not love. Kpop industry has made so many ridiculous combinations that misleads audience: a song would have a very artistic or powerful melody and, sometimes, even a meaningful and symbolic MV, then when people look at the lyrics, ehhh, it’s another stupid love song (Infinite’s “Before The Dawn” anyone?). Again I am not saying all love songs are stupid, it’s just that love songs are way overproduced that the lyrics ruin the melody and the MV. It even seems like that many producers are so careless about a song that they palter with the lyrics by using the easiest lines to fill up the melody.
There are many other points of “Warrior” that stand out: the powerful dance, the skulls, barbed wire, and car-breaking scenes in the MV that resemble rebellion, the punk-styled outfit, the gun-shot at the end, and even the uniformed blond hair that also indicates unyielding determination and revolt (boys dyeing hair to blond are considered “bad” and “disobedient” in real life in Asia, especially to older people). No doubt, with its powerful debut, B.A.P. has brought fresh blood to the Kpop idol industry that has been struggling with stereotypes and clichés for long.
*Check out the MV with English sub for lyrics (the one above is published by B.A.P’s official channel): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XJPklc_w-E
*B.A.P debuted with three more songs, which are both good songs as well. Please check them out if you are interested:
Burn It Up (Intro): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2DepuZ6rxE&feature=related
비밀연애 / Secret Love (feat. Song Ji Eun of Secret): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9aN9aM_ZCQ&feature=related
**All pictures are snapshots I took from the official MV of “Warrior”. No infringement intended. All rights reserved to TS Entertainment.