Of the countless rookie groups that debuted last year, very few of them really stood out to me. While many of them churned out the formulaic K-pop sound and image, few groups could be defined ‘unique’. One of those boybands was B1A4, and the other was Block B.
While I really liked B1A4’s debut single “OK Go,” I wasn’t too impressed by Block B’s “Wanna B”. But Block B still got my attention – mainly because of their attitude. Right from the get go, they didn’t seem to (or want to) conform to the cutesy, ‘act all innocent in front of the cameras’ image the other groups were going for. Instead, they were a little zany, and didn’t mind having some fun at red carpet events.
Now Block B are back with their second mini-album – and what an improvement it is!
Comprised of 5 songs (the 6th track is just an instrumental of “Narnina”), here’s a track-by-track review:
1. “LOL” – Clever title, great song! The album kicks off with an all-rap track, which at 2:25 in length, is all too brief to contain its awesome-ness. It could have been longer, but what’s the point – South Korea’s conservative party-pooper MOGEF and
SM Ent.’s slave KBS has already banned the song for “inappropriate lyrics”. Which sucks, because this song doesn’t deserve it given how good it sounds. I just hope the boys get to perform it on the other channels, because it has to be heard. – 4/5
2. “난리나 (NanrinA)” – The lead single (which I keep misreading as ‘Narnia’):
Who would have thought baby talk “goo-goo, ga-ga” would end up in a pop song! This song is such fun, and yet, manages to pack in the attitude that Block B wants to showcase with the band’s image. With random James Brown screams and a heavy Timbaland musical influence, “Go Crazy” is an uptempo song and one that should do really well for Block B on the charts. I’ll take this song any day over B.A.P’s pretentious “Warrior“.
As for the music video, it’s alright. They show off their swagger, how gang-like they are, and the dance choreography isn’t bad (though I’m not so sure about the gorilla arm wave during the chorus :)) – 4/5
3. “했어 안했어 (Did You or Did You Not)” – For a boy band that claims to be more hip-hop than pop, this track proves that they can still cater to the female audience. And although the rappers get most of the spotlight as far as lyrics go, the vocalists in the group get their chance and prove they have the vocal chops too. But sadly, this was another song that was banned by MOGEF and KBS. They suck, this song doesn’t! – 3.5/5
4. “싱크로율 100% (Synchronization 100%)” – The vocalists get to shine some more on this guitar-tinged track. No electronic hip-hop beat to this one, but instead you get more organic instrumentals. It’s well produced and yet another stellar track on the album. – 4/5
5. “Action” – The last song on the mini-album samples 70’s American funk, but the top-notch production makes it very uplifting and fresh. The chorus is great and the “ooh la la la” just makes you want to sing along! – 3.5/5
Most of the album was produced by Block B’s leader Zico and I can’t help but draw comparisons to Big Bang’s G-Dragon. Both leaders have proven to be effective songwriters and composers — a talent very few groups in K-pop can claim to have. Block B is lucky to have Zico and he’s surely got a bright future in the Korean music industry.
Last year, Block B were hardly seen much after their debut and were even neglected in the year end shows. Maybe it’s their ‘in your face’ attitude, which for old guard, maybe too much to handle. But you know what? Screw them! K-pop needs a shot in the arm and a change of attitude. Block B should remain the way they are, because they are definitely on my radar now.
‘Welcome to the Block‘ is just Block B’s second mini-album and judging by just how good this album is, they’re are about to get a lot bigger in 2012 — and censorship or not, you can’t hold these boys back!
My final rating: 4 out of 5 (Very Good)