Sunday, October 13, 2013

Honest Thoughts About Block B 블락비 - Part 2: A Blocktober Special

131013 Ahh what a pretty number.” – Park Kyung

In honor of Block B’s first music show win on Inkigayo, what could be a better day to post my long-time-due second post for Block B. Months ago I introduced the first section of Honest Thoughts About Block B. Today, with the full disclosure that your dearest writer here is a diehard BBC (super fan!), I finish my thoughts, especially about their recent comeback.

Confession: I woke up this morning, read the news and then wept for 10 minutes straight. My husband just kept handing me tissue after tissue... He understands. He's a BBC too.  In all honesty (because that’s what this post is about), music program wins don’t mean too much in the long run. But to the fans and to the members of Block B – it’s just lovely.  

Coming up, reviews of "Be the Light" and "Very Good" along with a short history of Block B vocal performances and my general analysis (aka opinions) on select recordings.

"Be The Light"
The Block B comeback we’ve all been waiting comes a whole year since their last release, and since then it’s been hell. What visual proof? Just watch Ukwon getting beat up in “Be The Light” and try not having any feels. The pre-release ballad MV is gorgeous in almost every way, and I think it’s obvious to just about every how symbolic it’s meant to be of their struggles as a group. In the end, the members pick up the battle wounded Ukwon and stalk off, determined to live another day. 

"Very Good"

A week later, the real MV dropped. It was a very very good day. The song is bombastic as ever, and the MV is entertaining, baffling, or very nearly controversial depending on the interpretation. I think it’s unfortunate that whatever Block B does they will compared to other groups *coughsbigbangcoughs* however, this is the music industry and moreover, this is Kpop – it’s already a small world of fans and critics, where everything is seen and scrutinized through a very small lens. 

Among the reviews I’ve seen online, Very Good has been quite an interesting topic to discuss. Here are just some of the ways it’s being interpreted:

  • It’s a fun song with no particular meaning, other than Block B making a splash back into the music scene, so back off and don’t you dare compare them to other groups!
  • Omg, they are just copycats! Can’t we all just be done with Dark Knight references, and clowns?
  • Those *beeps* are copying Bigbang and G-Dragon. Off with their heads!
  • No they’re not copying anyone – it’s all parody. See why this scene {x} exactly mirrors {y} scene from another MV? It’s clever really!
  • Not only is it parody, it’s a complete homage to their sunbaes. 
  • How can it be called “homage” when they’re so obviously dissing everybody in the whole damn industry?? Here’s a list of everyone (won’t name anyone wink wink nudge nudge) they are publically but slyly (wink wink nudge nudge) throwing the finger to. 
  • Guys hold up, yes it’s a fun song, yes there are obvious references and some parody, and maybe they are calling out some things and people in the industry, but remember that they themselves are idols and marketing their music, the kind of music they love making, and if they’re really snubbing all flower boys, why on earth did they make it Ukwon (the biggest flower boy on the team) doing the snubbing? Can we all take a chill pill and just have fun? (And enjoy their first win?)

Take a wild guess which interpretation is mine. ;)

Less Controversial- The "Maximum Close-Up Version" Lol

Block B Live

This time last year I had a slightly different assessment of the live performance ability, particularly in some of the members. But while not all has changed, this year long comeback has proved at least one thing: Block B haven’t been total bums this whole time. Not only are the most talented members still killing it onstage, but everyone has improved, and I mean everyone (here’s looking at you, B-Bomb). 

A Short History of Live Performances from Debut to the Present

And Yes, it’s all in Plaaaaylist moooode!

The Debut (2011)

1. Wanna B

Their debut stage was technically with “Freeze” but Wanna B was probably a better choice to promote. The rappers are good and consistent, Taeil is surprisingly bad-ass, but still the rest of the vocalists are overshadowed, and lacking in charisma. The only person I notice is Ukwon, who once mentioned awkwardly that the reason he is jacket-less is because his cordi-noona said someone needed to show some skin, and he was the sacrifice. 

Zico- Leader, Main Rapper 
*Rosie's Bias*
First Comeback (2011)

2. Let Them Know/Tell Them

From the short-lived (thank god) cutie stage – the vocals are decent (according to music program standards) but nobody’s really standing out other than Zico, which honestly is a bit of a theme during most of these years. 

Taeil- Main Vocal

2nd Comeback (2012)

3. Nalina

Nalina is another Zico-focused song, but it’s also one of the first times when P.O. gets to really stand out. Sadly the singers are once again over-shadowed, and Taeil literally has one line (the high note part). Oh, and Ukwon’s “hotttt hoottt” lines are endearingly cute because of his unintended tremolo during the shirt shaking dance.

4. U Hoo Hoo

Here we have a classic example of who could sing (at this time) and who couldn’t. Basically, nobody but Taeil and even he is occasionally off. Zico and Kyung are the only one who consistently deliver. But don’t they all look so cute, trying so hard. I’m convinced it’s because of these phases that they were pushed to becoming better. Because the singing here is honestly just cringe-worthy.
Kyung- Lead Rapper
Third Comeback (2012)

5. Nilili Mambo

This is probably one of their most stunning performances of last year’s hit song. The only downsides are B-Bomb’s vocals (which have never been there), and the fact that Ukwon quit singing the first words of his line because he [admitted he] could never hit those high notes. So what if Taeil rocks and roars, and P.O. always seems to take it to the next revel

P.O.- Rapper

6. Movie’s Over

Radio versions have always fascinated me, especially the videos where the backtracks are down super low. You hear unhindered all the vocals, and sometimes it’s awesome to hear all the rappers (Zico, Kyung and P.O) and Taeil and Jaehyo’s voices so clearly. And then... there’s B-Bomb’s woah woah woah part, where even he makes faces afterwards, and the harmonies are not always there. On the plus size: the rappers and Taeil.

Ukwon- Vocal, Lead Dancer

7. No Joke

From the rapper line comes P.O., Kyung, and Zico in their kick-ass song. The lyrics are great to look up, but if there’s ever an example of P.O.’s awesome gruff shout-rap, Kyung’s sly style (and general greasiness, I mean look at how he interacts with all of those girl dancers), and Zico’s breathtaking – literally breath, taking – habit of nailing his raps every single time… this performance is proof. 

Jaehyo- Vocal, Visual

Fourth Comeback (2013)

8. Be the Light

It’s my favorite song of the year – and the most shocking, because suddenly everybody sounds fabulous! When did they all learn to sing soo well? I was genuinely shocked when I realized some parts I could’ve sworn were sung by Jaehyo were being sung by B-Bomb. Taeil’s voice is of course stunning, and even P.O. sings lyrically for a few lines. His rap has also improved some (since the mixtapes earlier this year, ugh). Even more shocking, Zico sings. I knew the boy had it in him from Movie’s Over, but it’s more gorgeous here. The live stage is tremendous
B-Bomb- Main Dancer

9. Very Good
And here is our ‘winning’ performance. If you listen well you can just about hear everyone’s live voices (select parts aside) and the vocals you can hear well are awesome. They’ve come a long way even since Nilili Mambo, because everyone seems to be enjoying themselves onstage.


10. Romantic

Released in 2012 but performed here for the 2013 showcase – I would talk about it, but it’s so good you know, I just… can’t. :P


  1. Yeeeeees!! I've been waiting for Part 2! Funny thing is I never paid much attention to the vocals, unless it was Taeil singing, then usually I couldn't care less. But as I became more of a fan I started to pay attention to things, and you are spot on. I got super happy after I heard they got their first win..had a huge grin on my face for the next 5 minutes..

    1. Thanks for waiting! :D I seriously studied all the live performances months ago - before the lawsuit thing happened and I got too depressed to think overly much about them. But now, I'm free to fangirl alllll I want without fear of breaking into sobs.
      Except when they win, and I sob. But it's a good sob.

    2. I'm with you on the depressed mode, it just was not the same without the Block B boys. I get super happy whenever I hear "Be The Light" or even "Very Good" and then I want to cry from massive happiness.

  2. I do feel like their whole group is basically just Zico + Block B sometimes, and before I started following them and learning about them, he was the only one I knew. I have to confess... I can still only recognise Taeil's voice, out of the vocalists. The others, I don't know their voices well enough to know who is singing what line. But Taeil, I know. And the rappers.

    They well and truly deserved the win. You're right in that it doesn't mean anything but for whatever reason, the idols seem to get really excited when they win so i'm happy if they're happy.

    1. I think the song distribution has gotten better, especially in Be the Light, but Zico is still such a spotlight. After Taeil, Ukwon's voice was the next easiest to pick out - got a weird breathy feel that works well. And honestly, I still don't always know when Jaehyo's singing. I have to pick out his voice through process of elimination. "Well it's not as cute as Ukwon's, better than B-Bomb, and definitely not as good as Taeil.. gotta be Jaehyo." Hehe. But I like him.

      Did you see their speech? I put gifs on my MDL profile. I go on there to stare at it every few hours. xD

    2. Whoops, I'm so late in replying! P.O looks really creepy in those gifs, ha ha. I can understand why Zico is still the main focus of the group; he's so charismatic. I always wonder if other members in a group wish they got the attention that the main guy does, you know. Like in groups like EXO, where Kai got all the attention in the beginning. Did the rest of the group really dislike SM for that? Or dislike Kai, for that matter? Ah, to be a fly on a wall in an idols dorm...

  3. Hah, the part where you bring examples of people's interpretations is like every K-pop music video discussion ever in Youtube. Some people accusing the artist or group of copying others, some trying to analyse the symbolic meaning of the video, and some going totally berserk. Though, most of the Youtube comments go something like "OMG, they're so HOT!"

    I liked "Very Good", both the song and the video (though, Nillili Mambo is still the one to beat, IMO). The boys are just as energetic and crazy as ever. Though, I still have a hard time telling the difference between some of the members. And since you're the best Block B expert around here, I would like to ask you who is the one in the video at 02:02 mark? The one with the long black hair and dark lipstick? I totally can't tell.

    1. Haha I totally forgot that one.. Yep. They're hot. Well, except for Taeil, who finally owns his own dorkiness. :D

      I agree that Nilili Mambo is better. But I still love this one, if only because they're awesome. It took a good several days before I could even remember the melodies of Very Good. Now of course, I've got the whole thing memorized. Hehe.

      And, that's Zico. I had to do a double take first time I saw him too.

  4. thank's for your information and i like your post


    Ahem. I'm so happy they've come back. It's amazing how much they've improved, though. I can pick out alllllmost everyone that sings. Almost. B-Bomb and Jaehyo are hard for me to differentiate between.

    Also, even though I have all of their songs downloaded, I rarely listen to anything before Nilili Mambo simply because of what you've said here (especially in the live performance break down). Nalina is probably the only song I listen to before the full length album, and sometimes Action, if I'm in the car and we're going somewhere. The vocals just weren't that impressive and it honestly makes me sad when I look back at them then compared to now. Were they just not that into it back then? Was it Stardom? I don't know. I don't think I want to know.

    I have a Blocktober/Halloween post in the works! Though I don't know if I should post it Saturday or wait until Halloween... OTL The decisions. xD

    Happy rest of Blocktober to you! :D

    1. They never really had too many vocal-focused songs in the early days- probably because they were trying so hard to make an impact as a hip hop group instead. So unless you listened to everything on each album, and found that one track where the singers can really sing, you wouldn't know too much about it- and even then, yes they were kind of weak at it. Most rookies are though. Obviously the studio versions were okay, but the live versions were especially bad. I'm just happy to see the HUGE improvement in that department, and how they've been allowing more and more good non-rap songs to get the emphasis, first with the Blockbuster album, and now with Be the Light. :)

      Looking forward to your post! Happy Blocktober! Hehe

  6. Block B has come so far and I'm really glad they've come back. And they totally deserved that win. This post is awesome and so is your blog. :)

    1. Thanks! There's nothing more fun than writing about something (or some guys) you love. xD Hehe