I only write a post on K-pop when there’s something good out and it deserves the attention. Rest assured, rookie (are they still?) boy band INFINITE are one of those acts that always deliver something good, and a group I truly feel deserves the attention!
There have been quite a lot of new entrants in the Korean boy band scene the last two years. Like the (many, many) girl groups, some are good, and many of them… you’ll never hear of again after their debut single.
Woolim Entertainment‘s INFINITE falls under the category of ‘debuted well, and then kept growing stronger with every new release’. The boys hit the music scene last year with “Come Back Again,” a funky guitar-tinged single that was good enough to draw me in. The one thing that really struck me about INFINITE was how in-sync they are with their dancing! Just watch their live performances and you’ll know what I mean.
“She’s Back” came next and then earlier this year, INFINITE made a comeback with their second mini album Evolution. Though the title song “Before the Dawn” did well, the song from the album that I liked more was “Hysterie,” mostly because it was such a classic Michael Jackson inspired jam.
Two months later, INFINITE released “Nothing’s Over” (though, to me it sounded more like “Nothing Sober” :)). Regardless of their ‘Engrish,’ it was still a good fresh single accompanied by a unique music video. Their live performances of “Nothing’s Over” was a joy to watch. The release also included a remake of the song “Can U Smile”– and this song remains to me one of INFINITE’s best songs to date!
Inspirits (what INFINITE fans are officially called) didn’t have to wait too long for their idols to return to the K-pop charts. They’re back with another great track!
“Be Mine” is from INFINITE’s first full length album ‘Over the Top‘. The track is in my opinion their best single to date! Very hard edged with the guitar hooks (the group’s signature style) and yet, clearly influenced by dance pop from the 1980s. Whoever their producer is surely deserves a lot of the credit. Of course, the boys are the ones who do justice to the song by bringing to life. Can’t wait to see them perform “Be Mine” on the music shows!
Here’s a mini-review of the album ‘Over The Top’:
1. (Intro) – A 54 second teaser of what to expect from the new few tracks
2. “Be Mine” – Already wrote about it above. Definitely the best track on the album! – 4.5/5
3. “1/3” – Smooth track, but lacking in some ways.
Should have pushed this down in the track list This track has grown on me in the last few days, and I like it a bit now – 2.53/5 (I did say a ‘bit’ :))
4. “Tic Toc” – Mediocre and the chorus has bits of “Before the Dawn” – 2/5
5. “Julia” – The song sounds a lot like this song and I don’t know what the “A, I, O, I, A…” in the beginning is supposed to signify. – 3/5
6. “Because” – A solo track by Sungkyu. The English is a tad distracting and to be honest, it’s not a very good song. – 2/5
7. “Time” – Another solo track but this time Woohyun fully in charge of lead vocals. Sounds like one of those ballads that end up on the OST of a drama. Good voice though! – 3/5
8. “Amazing” – Decent track. One in which the rap, despite being brief, really stands out. Should have moved this higher up the album order. – 3/5
9. “Crying” feat. Baby soul – The song kicks off with a woman singing, while the boys slow rap the rest. Boring. – 1.5/5
10. “Real Story” – Take the beats out of of Chris Brown’s “With You” and overlay it with Korean lyrics and a slightly different tune, you get this song. – 1/5
Sadly, most of the songs sound very unoriginal and lacking any real inspiration. Had they replaced some of the songs I rated with a 1 or 2, with “Nothing’s Over” and “Can U Smile” (Remake), I would have easily bought the album. But instead, INFINITE’s ‘Over The Top‘ just feels like an album with an extremely good lead single, while the rest of tracks can be best described as album fillers.
My rating: 2 out of 5 (Poor)
Inspirits will cry foul and dismiss this review saying things like: “You are SO wrong!” “What’s wrong with you?!” and what not. So please note: this is my take on the album. It’s okay if you don’t agree with me. Trust me, I know good music when I hear it. And it’s not the first time this year I’ve been disappointed by a group that I like.
I’m not the kind of fan who will support or praise an artist “no matter what”. Especially when they release mediocre songs. I’ve noticed K-pop fans (especially in S. Korea itself) who will outright defend their favourite group, ask for mass collective purchases of an album, all in the name of ‘support’. But you have to understand how damaging that can be for creativity. Fans like that only make producers of content lazy, and in the end, it’s those fans themselves who are being betrayed.
I’m not calling out INFINITE for “betraying” their fans. They haven’t. All I’m saying is, this being their first full album, ‘Over The Top’ could have been so much better. It should have been.
If there’s a boy band that isn’t from a major label (SM, JYP, Cube, or YG), that I believe is going to be big, it’s INFINITE. They have the musical talents to be the “next big thing”. So I’m not losing faith in these guys and I do hope this album makes Woolim Entertainment enough money to give the boys a bigger dorm.
What, you Inspirits thought I didn’t know about that? 😉
Edit (01/09/2011): INFINITE WON THEIR FIRST AWARD!
I’m so happy for them! I wrote this review on 27th July and on 1st September, more than a month after they released “Be Mine”, INFINITE finally won an award on Mnet’s MCountdown! They deserved this for all the hard work they put in to each of their performances. I knew Super Junior would steal the show(s) in August with “Mr. Simple” due to their immense popularity, but I’m so happy INFINITE finally got recognized! Edited this review with this news because… well, I felt like remembering the moment! 😀