Several months ago, I was introduced to Brown Eyed Soul by a review from the fabulous mellowyel (read her blurb here), and I was instantly a fan of their style: R&B, classic balladry, gospel, and really good pop, as well as their amazing singing and harmonies, made for an excellent listening experience. So when I heard that a female counterpart to BES would soon debut, I was excited. But could Eye to Eye set themselves apart from their famous oppas?
The EP begins with the “Eye to Eye” intro track. Simple track, piano backing and the girls (Soo Hye, Na Rae, and Jin Sun) introducing their voices. Not much to report here.
Their debut single, “남자답게 [Like A Man]”, is a classic BES-style pop song. It has horns, piano, and drums. But what sets this song apart, and makes for a great debut single for EtE, is the sense of humor of it. In the teaser for their MV, the girls watch a BES music video and parody their performance (very well, too!). The full MV takes the humor one step further with a woman beating the crap out of her boyfriend in a MMA fight. EtE sing with sass and have the vocal chops to back it up. The one problem I have with the song, though, is that high bit at the end of the chorus. It is clear they have the pipes, but it seems so out of place, especially so early in the song. But overall, a great debut single.
“Day By Day” is the mellow pop song of the set. A mid-tempo love song, the girls’ voices harmonize simply, coasting on the simple musical composition. No vocal acrobatics, and not much to make the song stand out. The song is just okay.
Let me be honest for a second. I’m a total sucker for classic piano ballads, in the Diane Warren-style of the 90’s (“Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” anyone?). That said, I instantly gravitated to the two ballads, “그리고 그려요” and the album-ender, “기억해줘”. “그리고 그려요” is the typical ballad formula that BES has honed very well, and EtE follow by-the-numbers. On the other hand, “기억해줘” is EtE’s attempt to get recognized for k-drama OSTs. I prefer the latter, because the pay off at the end is grander and more powerful than the former. There aren’t any voices singing together, but it is a perfect way to highlight the voices individually.
Another reason why “그리고 그려요” doesn’t work as well, which is a criticism overall for this EP, is that it is too much a reminder of Brown Eyed Soul. In order to create anticipation for Eye to Eye, the group was introduced as the “female BES”. This gave the basis for what to expect, but the formula was followed too closely. I want to love this EP, but I can’t. It is too “copy and paste”, as if the production team substituted the male vocals for female ones over identical melody structures. 2NE1 may be the “female Big Bang”, but 2NE1 bring their own unique persona and charisma to the music. “남자답게” works so well because it is their own style. BES could try, but they can’t add the je ne sais quoi EtE bring to it.
Despite the criticism, this is a solid EP. It showcases Eye to Eye’s talent as a vocal group. The music may be derivative, but there is potential here. With more work, and more unique personality, Eye to Eye will rise to the top of the female vocal scene.
“Like A Man” MV:
Hi! My name is Xtian, and I’m a total pop music whore. I’m from NYC and can be seen dancing in the streets with headphones permanently glued to my ears. I may not have had a musical background, but I’m a lover of all things music, so I’m excited to be bringing a new voice to the McRoth’s funhouse. Y’all can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or better yet, follow me on twitter, where I do most of my social media-ing, @drowningn00b. See y’all lataz!