Big Bang Group Analysis / Vol. 1 Review

10/01/2010 04:25:00 PM


*warning* This review may contain unprofessional fangirling*

Big Bang... my second loves of the Kpop world. *as in the second male group I fell in love with*

They worked hard to get where they are (who hasn't?). Debuting in 2006 with LaLaLa, they didn't make it big until their leader Kwon Jiyong aka G Dragon aka GD penned Lies in 2007 (Originally meant to be a solo for him, but made into a group effort).

A debut album is the first impression we get of a singer's talents. We learn of their ideal (or not so ideal) style of music, get a glimpse into what they are capable of, and we gauge whether or not they have potential. Album sales can not be the way we judge capability and talent. Just as many albums are bought as hardware (CD discs) as they are bought or illegally downloaded online. We will look at Big Bang as individuals in their solo work as well as a whole and from there, gauge their strengths and weaknesses.

Record label: YG Entertainment *considered #2 out of the Big Three record labels of Korea*
Name: Big Bang
Language: Korean; Japanese; English
Genre: Hip Hop, Pop, R&B
Number of Members: 5
From: 2006-Present Day (2010)

Name: Kwon, JiYong
Stage Name: G Dragon, GD *The 2nd syllable of his name 'Yong' literally means dragon.*
Age: 23 
Group role: Leader, Main Rapper, Composer, Songwriter

A star in the making ever since he could walk, Kwon Jiyong is the member of Big Bang who's been in YG the longest as a trainee. Like Janey from GP Basic, Jiyong had been in other projects before directing his artistic skills to becoming a rap artist. His most notable previous work was as a member of Little Roora: a prepubescent mixed male and female group that covered the hit songs of then well known Roora. His voice is somewhat husky, high, and nasal. He has a somewhat typical R&B sound to his voice, like Youngbae or Seungri. He has a better sounding falsetto than the other members of his group and can reach higher notes, despite his having less training. He initially disliked singing, and has recently begun training his voice more. His voice is fast and he can go through long strings of phrases without break.

*Note: skip to 2:27. Jiyong is on the left. Age: 8
Songs: Angel That Lost Its Wings, 3! 4! (Roora)

He has arguably the most solo material due to cameo appearances with his senior YG artists as a teen since he was considered too young to debut.

*Note: Age 13-14
Song: Here I Come

*Note: A Boy (G Dragon)
Age: 21 (performed December 5-6 2009)

 Name: Dong, Youngbae
 Stage Name: Taeyang, YB, Sol
Age: 23
Group Role: Lead Vocalist

G Dragon's best friend, and the second half of GDYB. Like Jiyong, Youngbae was a child star, starting as an actor in the fifth grade for a JinsuSean MV. Inspired by said duo, he auditioned for YG as a rapper, and with Jiyong, formed the duo GDYB, considered similar to Lil Romeo & Bow Wow (in terms of age) and both looked up to their mentors Teddy, Hyunsuk (YG himself), and JinsuSean. They as a duo, never released an official album and eventually, their project got scraped by YG in favor of forming an idol group (to G Dragon's inherent dismay). Youngbae's voice is -like Jiyong and Seungri- nasal in quality like that of typical R&B crooners. This can work for him if he were to be an R&B solo artist like Usher or Omarion, but in the long run, he's rather limited to music styles and genres.

*Note: I Need A Girl (feat. G Dragon) from Solar album

Name: Choi, Seunghyun
Stage Name: TOP, Tempo, Tabi, Keun Seunghyun (used by YG staff to differentiate from Lee Seunghyun)
Age: 24
Group Role: Sub Rapper

The 'hyung' or big brother of the group, Choi Seunghyun was an underground contest rapper (if you've ever watched 8 Mile, you know what this entails on some level) before auditioning for YG. Because he was overweight, he was initially turned away. After getting in shape, he returned for the next round of auditions and was at last accepted. Seunghyun is distinguishable by his deep, rough baritone and often bounces off of G Dragon's raps and vis versa. He, like G Dragon has recently begun training his voice for singing. He is the weakest dancer in the group, often staying up late into the night practicing.

*Note: Act Like Nothing's Wrong (Greatest Concert)

Name: Lee Seunghyun
Stage Name: V.I, Seungri
Age: 20
Group Role: Sub Vocals; Lead Dancer

The cocky 'maknae' or baby of the group, Lee Seungri was a finalist for a contest to find the next Shinhwa (disbanded SM group) before he was booted for his unimpressive vocals. He joined the first wave of auditions for Big Bang with B2ST's Hyunseung. Where Hyunseung got booted for his reluctance to be filmed on camera, Seungri got booted for not showing satisfactory improvement. He made the cut and became an official member right before Choi Seunghyun joined during the second wave. Like Taeyang, Seungri has a nasal quality to his voice, but a deeper tone and the least intensity. He often choreographs the group's dances.

*Note: Next Day

Name: Kang Daesung
Stage Name: D-Lite, Daesung
Age: 21
Group Role: Sub Vocals

Like Choi Seunghyun, he was initially disregarded because he didn't fit the status quo 'pretty boy' boy band look, but his strong vocals won out in the end. He is the strongest in terms of vocals and is the token balladeer and trot member (similar to SHINee's Onew). Despite the staff's disbelief in his staying power, he is one of the most  popular members of the group and is voted as one of the best vocalists.

As a whole, Big Bang's vocals are rather uniform, but their individual tones give them distinction.

Album: Big Bang Vol. 1 Since 2007
Artist: Big Bang
Language: Korean
Genre: Hip Hop & R&B

1. Big Bang (Intro)
2. She Can't Get Enough
3. Dirty Cash
4. Next Day (Seungri Solo)
5. Big Boy (TOP Solo)
6. Shake It (feat. Ji Eun)
7. A Fool's Tears
8. My Girl (Taeyang Solo feat. G Dragon & TOP)
9. La La La
10. This Love (G Dragon Solo)
11. Try Smiling (Daesung Solo)

We open with G Dragon and Taeyang chanting 'B to the I to the G. B to the A-N-G' which has become a trademark of the group, followed by She Can't Get Enough.

TOP opens the song with his vocals, followed by Seungri, who -even in the recording- sounds rather weak compared to the others. G Dragon and Daesung sing the pre-chorus to be joined by Taeyang and Seungri  for the chorus. GD takes the second verse, followed by Daesung. GD takes the bridge. He & TOP provide the obligatory raps. Rinse and repeat the chorus. Taeyang is slightly over the top with his adlibs.Over all this song's a pretty good start. It's danceable. The rappers don't only get a few seconds (unlike a certain rapper I could mention). The song's a typical 'Do I resist this bad girl or not?' type of uptempo.

Next comes Dirty Cash, a fun song with song electric guitars throughout. Once again, TOP and GD opens the song, followed by Seungri, Taeyang, and Daesung. In this song, you can clearly hear everyone's parts and their highs and lows.There's a distinct bass line thanks to TOP. It's a nice mix of Hip Hop and Rock elements.

We go from light and cheery into emo land with Seungri's solo Next Day, a ballad of (what else?) love gone wrong. His voice for its thinness, is rather passionate, if not a bit forced considering his age at the time. He still had some basics to master. His attempt to make the song 'big' towards the end sounds somewhat amateur, especially during lives. He simply doesn't know, or refuses to accept that his voice isn't made for big balladeering. His voice is more suited for songs such as his second solo Strong Baby.

Big Seunghyun comes in with Big Boy. His voice glides through easily. His lyrics are um... suggestive. You want to take a wild guess what the title means?

I'm noticing a theme here. TOP starts off most of these songs just like he starts off Shake It which is as TOP put it in Big Boy 'a club banger.' Ji Eun's vocals compliment the boys' vocals during the chorus. G Dragon has fun with his rap and so do I with the Spanish reference of 'Living the vida loca Senorita...' This is made for dancing your butt off and it's my favorite off this track. All the boys sound great. I have no complaints.

Once again, a fun track followed by an emo one with A Fool's Tears. It's makes me think of B2K (Shut up. Yes I'm old enough to remember them). Taeyang, Seungri, and Daesung own this. They sing the majority of the song, only giving GD and TOP (if you can even hear him) a few rap lines. Daesung is the go to man for making a song 'big.' Taeyang if you want some over the top adlibs a la Sunye.

Speaking of Taeyang: My Girl.
He hadn't and still hasn't perfected the word 'girl' and it comes out as 'gihl.' (Bless his little heart. He tries so hard). Just like A Fool's Tears sound like B2K, this sounds like either Omarion or Marques Houston. GD and TOP whisper throughout the background up until they finally make an appearance right before the bridge before the song can get 'big' before the final choruses.

The boys debuted with Lalala, making their mark as a YG representative. It's clearly YG with it's hip hop beats. The most logical explanation for this song not giving them instant success was because hip hop wasn't and still isn't a respected genre through out Korea thanks to the negative stigma of American hip hop. Korea doesn't care about Black people. Even though it didn't make them over night success stories, it's still a fun track to sing and dance to.

G Dragon proves that rock and hip hop can still work as well as bread and butter with his remake of Maroon 5's This Love. To this day, he still performs this track during concerts, always just a bit different (especially with the G.H remix, and the adding of the original English lyrics). Like TOP's Act Like Nothing's Wrong this song was written in honor of a female he couldn't be with (in this case, she was interested in someone else).

The CD ends with Daesung's Try Smiling. I have no complaints. His voice is so soothing and sweet. I find it ludicrous that he was going to be rejected for not being as gorgeous as say... Jaejoong or Key. Looks fade, but a voice like that... If he keeps his vocal health and doesn't take part in certain recreational activities, *cough* Like Whitney Houston *cough* we don't care how he looks.

Dance Tracks
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ / ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

NO AUTOTUNE!!! *cough* Excuse me. On a serious note, these songs are fun, danceable, singable, and don't beat you over the head with a ton of bombastics.

Mid Tempos
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ 3/4 / ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

Would have gotten full points without the somewhat over the top adlibs every now and then.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ 3/4 / ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

Once again, they try to be like over the top balladeers (works for Dae, sort of for Tae, Ri tries too hard).

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ / ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

Despite the 5/5, it's not 100% perfect, but it was a very good start and it's saddening that they had to 'sell out' a bit to become mainstream.



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