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[Review] [Mini Album] What’s Going On - B1A4

B1A4 debuted back in 2011 with the single “OK.” Compared to other groups that debuted around the same time, B1A4 is one of the most established, winning many awards at end of year award shows. They are known for their fresh image but powerful live performances including appearing on Immortal Song 2 several times including winning which is an impressive achievement.  Leader and vocalist Jinyoung frequently composes B1A4’s album tracks including “Bling Girl,” “Wonderful Tonight,” “Baby I’m Sorry.” This is B1A4’s 4th mini album with the title track “What’s Going On?” and “Good Love” composed by Jinyoung with participation from Baro and CNU in penning the lyrics.

Tracklist: (recommended tracks in bold)

별빛의 (Starlight’s Song)
이게 무슨 일이 (What’s Going On?)
Yesterday
Good Love
(How Many Times)

 

The album kicks off with “Starlight’s Song.” (For some reason the guitar intro reminds me of an ad I saw which has random people walking/biking in different directions.) I can’t quite classify this into a particular genre as the guitars are reminiscent of rock, the beat is dance/R&B and the use of other instruments is pop. The chorus “ehh ehh ehh…” is quite anthemy. But it all comes together very nicely and each section of the song flows on nicely even though they have very different textures. I really like Jinyoung’s opening lines as he has a very subtle and sweet voice and is a good lead into the bulk of the track. I don’t particularly like the use of the “eeee…” vowel on the ad-lib during the chorus. It’s just not a nice vowel to be dragging out. Great opening song that leans slightly towards the more mature side of B1A4’s music.

 

Second is the title track “What’s Going On?” which is composed by leader Jinyoung. Ok my first impressions on this song were that it was extremely catchy in a very weird way. Seriously, after listening to it twice it was stuck in my head the rest of the day. The high pitched “jibiji” was so weird and caught me totally off-guard. Basically Jinyoung sings “where are you” and the girl answers “I’m at home” but even though I’m not a fluent Korean speaker, it would’ve been much better if it was left as rhetorical question like all the others were. Sandeul’s chorus is a little too processed for my liking. If it was left raw, it would’ve been a lot more impressive as the chorus is definitely not easy to sing well. The “wassup”s also made me LOL. Ok I’ve complained a lot but that’s because B1A4 is usually so good that the weaker parts are just so obvious. I really like the subtle harmony and unison that is incorporated here and there like the “way yeah yeah…” Baro’s pre-chorus which suddenly goes into a minor key is very interesting and catches the attention. The song overall has nice parts and weird (not bad) parts and I think this track was chosen for promotion because of its potential in a live performance.

In the middle of the album is “Yesterday” which is a pop-ballad with an R&B beat. I really love the “hooo…” harmonisations as they provide a nice rich-ness behind the melody. The piano is used subtly and really nicely and I really like the use of the snare drum in the chorus which adds a nice touch. Actually all the percussion (including hand claps) is used really nice. The opening synths sound slightly out of place though. Sandeul’s suspended high note across the bridge and last chorus repeat is really nice. I also really appreciated that they used CNU’s voice really nicely in the second verse and some of the chorus. He really suits it and I think he could’ve done with a few more lines. The line “saranghae tonight” amuses me greatly because it’s Konglish (Korean-English mix) and it doesn’t really make complete sense haha… This is probably my favourite song on the album. Highly recommended.

 


“Good Love”
is a sexy jazz ballad with plenty of saxophones and falsetto. It starts with gentle treble piano chords, and WOW is that Gongchan’s voice? Dayum so much improvement *clap clap* CNU also gets a decent bit of rap in this song. It’s good how this song showcases Jinyoung’s vocals because he really does suit this type of song. His falsetto is just hot damn. Especially that “good love” at 3:17 *dies* Another similar example would be his solo “Be My Girl.” I really like the gradual build up of the backing instruments going from piano to bass to brush drum kit to saxophone to standard drum kit. It all come away in the second verse leaving just the piano and saxophone and then repeats the building process. Finishing with the piano is also really nice and gives it a nice finishing touch. Ok change my mind; this is my favourite song on the album.

Finishing off is “How Many Times” which is an upbeat dance track with a nice piano riff. The first verse is largely Baro’s rap and I haven’t said earlier but I think Baro is a really talented rapper and I can actually appreciate his rap in an artistic way. He has quite a unique and low voice and his raps have melodic and expressive quality to it. He’s one of my favourite Kpop rappers. Contrary to the previous tracks, this track contains quite a lot of synths and is quite bassy. Like I said in my Infinite review, I’m not a fan of fade-out endings especially at the end of an album. Argh it needs to be resolved. When the song finishes I’m just expecting to hear more and it’s like WTF that was the end??? I want MOAR!!! But yeah this is a nice song although it’s quite overshadowed by the previous two tracks which are amazing.

 


Fortes

All members are talented at singing or rapping or both
All members’ voices are utilised well
Members take part in song production
Songs merge genres
Hardly any auto-tune used

Pianos

Very bad choice of title track
Weird English words/phrases
Unresolved fade-out ending

Verdict

Ever since I have started this blog, I have actually been looking quite forward to reviewing a B1A4 album when I had the chance (e.g they have a comeback). Although B1A4 have a really cute image onstage, they are a bunch of really talented guys who can make really quality songs and pull them off live amazingly well. (Seriously how do you throw yourself around the stage for 4 minutes and still have energy to sing WELL?) My only disappointment is the choice of title track which is undoubtly catchy, but it’s just doesn’t come off as a well put together song on the first impression unlike “Tried to Walk.” *sigh* Anyway B1A4 will continue to impress us with every single album release and have a very good future in the music industry. (I totally recognised their potential before they started gaining huge popularity :D)

Ok I have to admit yes I am a BANA and have been since their “Beautiful Target” days. And you ask me who my bias is? He’s the one with the blood type B ;)

You can buy this album at yesasia.com