written by: McRoth
If there’s anything JYP enjoys more than whispering his initials in the opening seconds of his productions (there probably isn’t), it’s tugging at early 90s hip-hop beats and reintroducing us to the era of music that helped shape and define his artistic identity and, by extension, the artistic identity of his idols. JJ Project happens to be one of the newest to land under his wing, and while I can brutally declare 2012 one of JYP’s weakest years so far, the only exception is this rookie duo, who
single double-handedly proved to be contenders among this year’s rising babies, as well as be a receptive host for JYPs musical tendencies.
Personally, I really like JR and JB as a duo, not because they’re incredibly talented, because they’re definitely not. Frankly, they’re just as iffy to listen to as any other JYP idol. But what makes them special is how they come together to form one exceptional team of awesomeness. They make up for each other’s shortcomings and leave enough room for their collective force to do the heavy hitting. In the end, it’s their unified energy that does a lot of the talking. So much so, that it successfully masks the cruel reality that is “Bounce“, their debut single (released in May).
“Bounce” is a song with an acquired taste. You either love it or you don’t, and most of its conflict lies in the song’s poor musical direction. Listening to this song from beginning to end is like riding a wooden rollercoaster wearing blindfolds. It’s so jerky and unrefined that its unsettling style isn’t exactly welcoming to anyone, even if its purposes is to make you ‘bounce’.
JYP was brave enough to regurgitate all of his ideas onto one song, but they were all the wrong ideas and done in a very unorganized fashion. It’s schizophrenia if I ever heard it, quite honestly, and the lack of focus makes M.I.A.‘s music seem less cray-cray than usual.
As aforementioned, JJ Project has an energy unparalleled by most K-Pop artists, and while “Bounce” was unremarkable and unforgiving, it’s the B-side of this singles release that we find where JJ Project channeled that energy in all the correct ways and gave me peace of mind for the first time in this review.
“Hooked“, one of two B-side tracks, is undoubtedly one of the most thrilling pop songs of the year. It has the energy of a thousand suns, yet the execution is near perfect for the kind of pop song it is.
A bit of a throwback to Seo Taiji and The Boys‘s “난 알아요“, the song that paved the K-Pop we know today, it captures the essence of the bare Hip-Hop of the 90’s. It’s intelligent in structure, paced perfectly from one verse to the other, and hits its climactic marks as it should. The middle eight in particular is an exciting syncopated break down that is easily the highlight of this release. Everything sits really well together, with the light vocal processing and a sweet layer of reverb adding even more classic details to this classy jam, and I’m just surprised it came from JYP. Slightly insulting to say, since JY Park is da idol of all idols, but he’s known for churning out a crap load of crap with only a few gems a year. Never figured one of those gems would have fallen into the laps of two rookies.
I think it was smart for JYP to debut JJ Project with a single rather than an album, because anything more and we might have had too much of a cluster to deal with, most probably terrible trendy pop music not worth two hoots (cue in everything JYP 2012). But this small dose served us with a good vision of what JJ Project has to offer as a duo and set a very promising level of quality for their future releases. Even “Before This Song Ends“, an electro-pop club banger, rivals miss A‘s “Lips” (Suzy sings in this one, by the way) in that it’s basically the same song, except with an even more intriguing use of electronic elements, an actual build up and an actual climax.
There was thought put into the way JJ Project’s music was presented, and I’m really buying what they’re selling. Their music is youthful, exciting, very JYP, but also very well done for a JYP project. Now it’s time to see if they can take their energy and mold it in even more thrilling forms and on an actual album, because that’ll be the true test for them moving forward.
Til then, I’m hooked.
| Points scale
0 – could do without
0.5 – mediocre/filler
0.75 – pretty good/grew on me
1 – liked immediately
|Before This Song Ends||
Points to stars conversion: [(1.75/3) x 5]
*there is no 0.25 bonus for singles because they’re not considered albums.