By: Hannah Waitt
moonROK Found and Editor-in-chief
Six member Cube Entertainment group B2ST recently released their sixth EP “Good Luck,” their first group project for nearly a year. The album contains one single for which the album is titled, five new tracks, and the Korean version of the group’s 2013 Japanese single.
B2ST is currently in their fifth year together as a group, and have released a number of megahits in Korea including “Shock” in 2010, “Fiction” in 2011, and most recently, “Shadow” in the summer of 2013. B2ST is back for the first time in nearly a year with their single, “Good Luck,” that is an equally big hit, along with six other tracks. Check out the track-by-track review below.
1. We Up
“We Up” is a good hype track to start off the album. With a low horn synth line and a very basic boom-clap-boom-clap rhythm from the drum kit, it’s a catchy enough pop song that serves its purpose. “We Up” pretty much tees up the album to be exactly what you would expect from B2ST. The song sounds a lot like the group’s earlier work; it really doesn’t differ much from their previous material. I think it was a good call to use this as a B-side track instead of as a single because it’s not quite breakout enough for me to really think of it as a great song. It doesn’t signify any progression as a group for B2ST and is a pretty safe bet overall, which is why it’s fine for a B-side: it reminds you who B2ST is and what they sound like, and lets the listener know that they are going to get what they paid for from the group
2. Good Luck
I was really skeptical about “Good Luck” when I heard the introduction. While I love Yoseop’s voice and think that he is insanely talented, my immediate reaction was to think that his ballad solo at the beginning of the song was a bit over dramatic. Then, the beat dropped and the song pulled a complete 180. In retrospect, Yoseop’s intro verse does a great job setting up the song for an unexpected and powerful start. When the beat drops and Gikwang comes in with the first verse of the song, you can’t help but bob your head at the dramatic shift in tempo. The pre-chorus is equally as impressive as the verse, with Dongwoon seamlessly hopping octaves on the line “I want to hold you tight, make you mine, never leave you alone” and Doojoon doing the same with his Korean part.
Easy to sing and easy to memorize, the chorus packs a serious punch and is one of the catchiest that B2ST have had in a while. The track’s delayed hit after Hyunseung and Yoseop say the words “Good luck,” makes for an especially powerful impact by leaving the listener hanging for a second and then belatedly satisfying their expectation. I am normally a fan of Junhyung because he is an incredibly talented producer and lyricist, but I have to admit that his rap in “Good Luck” is a bit off-putting, mainly because the English parts don’t really rhyme. His English is impressive – the grammar is all there and the expressions that he uses are not awkward – it’s just that “heartsick” doesn’t rhyme with “disease” so it feels like a stretch. This being said, the Korean part of the rap is pretty perfect and Junhyung naturally seems to be much more comfortable and in the pocket with the Korean parts than the English. After the rap part the song finishes out strong with a bridge sandwiched between two choruses. While I was skeptical at the beginning of the song, “Good Luck” actually ended up being my favorite of B2ST’s singles in quite some time and if I were reviewing the single alone, I would definitely give it five stars. But alas, this is an album review, so let just journey forward to track number 3.
3. Dance With U
Like “We Up,” “Dance With U” is without a doubt a B2ST song. It is very much in line with their past material and the unique sound that they have established for themselves as a group. With an intense electronic backtrack and an addictive dance beat that goes double time with a 4-on-the-floor bass-heavy beat at the chorus, the song is infectious. The best part of the song is arguably in the bridge when member Dongwoon really goes for it on his line resulting in a bit of a vocal growl – I only wish that instead of using falsetto at the end of the line he would carry that energy through to the end of the line and belt out his high note with force instead of going for a softer finish. Overall, the song is good, but predictable: there aren’t any big surprises and it’s pretty much exactly what you would expect from B2ST based upon their past work.
4. No More
“No More” is a solid ballad, but once again, no surprises. Combining a rich string section and piano with an R&B beat complete with boss nova-like snare hits, the song is mellow and light in tone. While some K-pop ballads can be really dramatic and heavy, “No More” manages to keep it a bit more airy, making it a song that would suit a rainy day more so than an emotional break-up. One thing that I’ve always appreciated about B2ST and that this song does a good job of representing, is the way that B2ST splits their parts so evenly and so effectively in each of their songs. Each member’s voice has its own charm to it and the boys of B2ST do a good job spotlighting their vocal differences and the unique appeal to each voice in the way that they divide parts.
“History” brings the pace of the album down to its slowest point yet with an ambient, echoing R&B beat being pretty much the only thing accompanying the voices of the members during the verse. Interestingly enough during the pre-chorus the beat changes to a subtle jazz-like shuffle – the change is so faint that it’s barely detectable, but it inserts some interesting variation into the song that otherwise would have been pretty calculable. Junhyung’s rap verse in this song does an equally good job inserting differentiation by using an unpredictable flow and innovative rhyme scheme. What stands out about this track is the contrast between the verses and the chorus. The verses are monotonous – the range of the notes is narrow and there aren’t a lot of runs or turns in the melody, so that it almost seems a little bit robotic. Then the chorus comes in and turns the song on its head when Hyunseung, Dongwoon, and Yoseop bel tout emotional serenade parts. This contrast between robotic monotony and passionate color is what really makes this song much more interesting than it seems on the surface.
6. Tonight By Your Side
The beginning of this song is really great for me – it’s a welcome change in pace from the ballad that is “History,” but facilitates the change without being too extreme or overwhelming. With a clean guitar plucking out a riff underneath the members’ lines and a simple mid-tempo pop beat driving the song, “Tonight By Your Side” has this sort of transparent, clean, and uncomplicated nature about it, which is refreshing since B2ST’s sound is normally very produced and a bit heavy on the electronic side. My only complaint is that I kind of hate the “Ho, ho, ho,” part. It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly it is that I hate about it, but I think it has to do with the fact that it is intrusive to the flow of the otherwise very smooth, clean flow of the song. You’re just kind of chilling, jamming along to this sweet, melodic little pop diddy, and then all of sudden, this giant “HO, HO, HO” comes at you and you’re like ACK what’s happening?! It’s very loud and overwhelming compared to the verses – so much so that it sort of alarms you when you’re listening to the song. Other than the ho ho hos I really like the song though – it’s a bit different than what we’re used to from B2ST, which I think is great.
7. Sad Movie (Korean Version)
“Sad Movie” was B2ST’s 2013 Japanese single, and a decent one at that. The song is a bit more calm than B2ST’s singles have been in the past, which makes it a good track to end the album with. The song leads with a duet between an electric guitar and piano part in the intro before all of the synth enters with the chorus. The song quickly re-simplifies itself in the verse with the guitar and piano once again becoming the dominant voices alongside the B2ST members while a drumkit ticks out the time. There is also a harmonica/violin/vocal part adding whiny accents in the background that are ambiguous in that they’re sort of cool, but also sort of annoying. I think if the accents were a bit softer they would be better and less invasive, but I can’t complain too much about them because, again, they are kind of cool in that they add a different element into the song than we’re used to. “Sad Movie” does a good job bringing the album to a close with its hushed nature and consistency.
In the end, the album was pretty average with “Good Luck” being the only song that I found to be a standout track. B2ST’s album “Good Luck” was good, but pretty bland in that the group didn’t really bring anything new to the table. On the one hand, this sort of consistency is very important for a K-pop group – it is crucial to have a distinguishable sound and identity from other groups, especially now that there are so many groups debuting and promoting. However, B2ST is popular enough and has been around long enough that at this point they should have the freedom to branch out and experiment with new sounds and new styles. As veterans of the industry with an established and unwavering fan base, B2ST have earned the right to do something new, and whether it was due to their entertainment agency’s choice of songs or their own, I was a bit disappointed to see that they didn’t. Through their popular work in the past B2ST set very high standards for themselves, and I was happy to see them meet their standards, but would have liked to have seen the group not just meet them, but exceed them.
Tags: B2ST Good Luck Review