K-POP / KOREAN CULTURE / MUSIC VIDEOS / REVIEWS

[Review] ‘I’ll Be Back’ by 2PM

2PM has returned this week, releasing an album with yet another uninspiring title. What is it? Well, the title is “Still 2:00PM“.  If you ask me, mainstream pop-stars get one pass by attempting to be clever with their group name and incorporating it in their title. 2PM have stuck with the whole ‘time’ theme for several years now, and frankly, it is 1.) lazy, and 2.) meaningless.  A title should at least reveal a prevailing theme in the album.  You know, to cross ‘cohesion’ off of their to-do list.  Right? But alas, things rarely occur in that manner, especially in Kpop.

So let’s get into the music.  From day one, this group has done just about nothing for me. There was a point when I sort of liked “Without U“.  The chorus got me into a nice head-bobbing rhythm, and not to mention how much ass they kicked with the choreography.  I admit, it was hot.  JYP‘s got some great choreographers trapped in a hidden basement somewhere.  No doubt.

So, I was definitely waiting to see what they had come up with this time.

The choreo for “I’ll Be Back” (the lead single) is borderline goofy.  I mean, it’s not ‘hot’ like I expected it to be.  And this group thrives and exists off of their sex-appeal.  It’s probably killing them right now how much clothes they have to wear for this song, too.  But as lame as I sound, I sort of like it.  If anything, it looks fun.  It doesn’t make sense with the song, but at least it’s more interesting to look at than, say, U-KISS’ awkward slicing moves for “Shut Up“.

Anyway, the music.  As far as their Kpop status goes, these guys top the list of most overrated idols on planet Earth.  Beating Super Junior by a hair.  Musically, 2PM are weak. Their vocals are as average as my neighbor’s, and that’s probably stretching it.  But this is a pop group, and so I treat them as such.

For a pop group with zero power in their singing, they sure know how to work with what they’ve got.  Actually, no. Their production team knows how to make them sound good.  Sometimes, really good.  Particularly with memorable melodies and decent beats.  If I remove 2PM’s vocals from “I’ll Be Back” and I talk through the whole thing, I could probably sound just as dope as them (confident, much?).  Hypothetically speaking, of course.

I’ll Be Back” sounds too much like JYP munched off of “Without U“‘s chorus and called it a day.  The two songs sound like they’re at the same BPM, too!  Laziness strikes again, I tell you.  But for what it is, it’s not an awful song.  It’s catchy and makes for a perfect work out song.  I’d ask Junho and Junsu to calm down on the ad libs because, honestly, they add little to nothing to the dynamics of the song.  And I’d scrap Chansung altogether.  I’m obviously getting picky here, but man is he nasally.  Not really into that.

Overall, 2PM know how to shit decent dance tracks, even if their singing is underwhelming.  Plus, they work well with their strengths.  And listen Ma! No auto-tune! Well, I did hear a subtle touch of it here and there, but no where near as excessive as some other idol groups.  I expect Big Bang to be pouring large amounts of processing into my ears very soon, so at least 2PM are giving me a break.

I’ll Be Back” isn’t a strong single and it’s completely recycled material. If you’re interested in hearing a better quality song from these sex objects, I’d recommend “I Can’t” off the same mini album.  It features a more natural instrumentation and they sound a lot better than on the single.

Thoughts?

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8 thoughts on “[Review] ‘I’ll Be Back’ by 2PM

  1. >2PM at the level of Super Junior
    AHAHA good one mcroth

    Seriously tho, you didn’t mention the similarities between this choreo and other past ones. Don’t you see how similar this one looks to “I hate you” and “Tired of waiting”?

  2. Overall, I like the album, for the sole reason that the songs are aeons better than their previous material, especially from their first EPs and first album. (I thought “Don’t Stop Can’t Stop” was middling overall, though I grew to appreciate “Without You” and still like “Maja”). They’re hardly chart topping hits (by my estimation), but I find I enjoy listening to them. They’re simple melodies, and the atypical structure of the song/lyrics keep them interesting for me. I have to point out that “I Can’t” is produced/written by Ra.D, who performed the original version of “I’m In Love”, the song Narsha covered for her solo EP! That and “Even If You Leave Me” (same songwriter as “Maja” and “Fly To Seoul”) are my favorite tracks. Another point in the album’s favor is that this is the only time I’ve liked the featured remix of the title track of ANY k-pop EP. I think for me, what really puts this above 2PM’s other material is that it’s not gimmicky, like “Heartbeat” or even “10 Out of 10”. Like you tweeted, it’s got a classic k-pop vibe that I like a lot. And the vocal mastering is extremely improved, as evidenced in the lack of autotune. Couldn’t save Chansung in “I’ll Be Back”, but they tried. I’ve always liked his and Wooyoung’s voices, though – they’re not amazing, but they have a nice quality to them that comes to the forefront with the right melodies.

    I didn’t notice the similarities between “Without U” and “I’ll Be Back” but I see your point – they’re both made up of the same elements, only with different melodies. I wonder if it’s laziness, if they intended the song to be a “reworking” of their previous single, or if they legit didn’t notice (same thing I wonder about CNBlue’s “Love” and FT Island’s “Love Love Love”. I mean, even the titles and the group names sound similar *facepalm*). Then again, I’ve said before that a lot of pop music producers/songwriters only do the bare minimum necessary to make a catchy song, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Also, STILL 2:00PM probably means they’re still bringing the same thing to the k-pop industry (catchy dance-pop songs) after 2 years and despite lineup changes. However, I feel like they still haven’t completely gotten over the whole Jaebeom controversy, and that makes me sad. I wonder if it’s the fans’ fault for riling so much hate on the group after he left, or if whatever transpired between them was really that damaging.

    Sorry for the long comment :S but good review!

    • I tend to just review a song right on the spot without digging into who actually produced it (I should, though, shame on me), but it makes sense that “I Can’t” sounds the way it does. It’s a really good song, as well as the others you mentioned.

      (and omg about Abracadabra’s producer T^T)

      Also, this EP is a much nicer stride from their previous work. Before, they were trying too hard to stay on top of the trends, but now they almost sound like they’re finally growing up. It’s a mature and sophisticated take on their own sound and honestly, it’s not that bad.

  3. ^ “However, I feel like they still haven’t completely gotten over the whole Jaebeom controversy, and that makes me sad.”

    I have to say, I’ve always felt that 2pm is kind of overrated. I wasn’t feeling them when they debuted, then I had high hopes with “Again & Again”, then it all went downhill from there. Sure, I enjoyed “Heartbeat”, and also “Without U” cos hey, they’re catchy and the dances are pretty cool (although I wished to high heaven Taecyeon would stop ripping his shirt off) but music-wise, 2pm never really did it for me.

    While I’m not saying that they can’t make it without Jaebeom, it’s just that I feel they could’ve been in a whole other league WITH Jaebeom. Maybe they just need time to mature. Like wine. Or cheese.

    That said, I do like “I’ll Be Back” though. I’ve always liked Junho’s and Wooyoung’s voices, and Khun improved a lot on his rapping (plus he’s probably the only one that survived their stylists’ horror show looking halfway decent).

    Great review! (and I like SuJu more for their personalities rather than songs)

    • I wonder though…. are they overrated because people think they’re just as good without Jaebeom, and they’re not? Or have they simply always been overhyped (as JYP artists tend to be)? If they could have been in a whole other league with Jaebeom, what exactly did Jaebeom bring to their performances (since they don’t have control over their music or choreography) that would have catapulted them into all-star-fame? I’m just wondering, because the way I see it, I feel like either they were never that awesome in the first place, and we’re only just realizing it after taking the fangirl glasses off, or something is throwing them off their game. I mean, Jay is talented, no lie, but he has to have something more than talent to affect the quality of a group’s music, performances, etc. so much by his leaving.

      • Maybe they’re overhyped? I don’t know. That can be said about 2ne1 too, but i love them anyway (2ne1 fan right here).

        The whole other league thing, I don’t actually see them catapulting to all-star fame even with Jay. It’s just that I feel they would’ve been better than they are now if he’s still in 2pm. I never really got the whole hoohaa with Jay, to be quite honest with you. Sure he has talent, dances great, etc but what else? Likeability factor maybe? He just adds a certain dimension to 2pm that, to me at least, they never quite recovered. Whatever it is, it’s certainly helping him go places right now.

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