I’ll admit, I haven’t liked any other 2PM singles as much as I liked “Again & Again”. Not only was that song the boyband’s breakthrough single, but since Jay Park left the group in 2009, no single since has been as good as “Again & Again”. “Heartbeat” and “Without U” were just okay, “I’ll Be Back” and “Hands Up” were pretty lame in my opinion.
It’s been nearly two years since 2PM made a Korean comeback, so needless to say the anticipation was pretty high. Five years old and now for a group of their stature, 2PM – and their mentor *whispers*JYP*whispers* – have a lot of catching up to do!
Here’s a track-by-track review:
01. “All Day I Think of You/Ha.Ni.Bbun”
The second of two singles to be released, “A.D.T.O.Y.” truly lives up to JY Park’s “The Asiansoul” nick-name. Sexy, R&B-influenced, and yet a pop song through and through. At first listen, the robot-voice in the chorus sounded a bit lame, but I later got used to it. The signature dance during the chorus (where the guys rub down to their ‘love handles’) looks… odd. Only because they are dudes. Felt like a dance routine fit for a girl group instead.
Distractions aside, the orchestral backing makes “A.D.T.O.Y.” quite regal without ruining its sexual undertones. The boys take different turns on vocal abilities, with Nichkhun even singing in falsetto. He doesn’t perfect it, but had it not been for the music video, you probably wouldn’t have guessed it was Nichkhun singing. The rap verses fit, the choreography is okay at best, and MV is serviceable. The song though, is really good! – 4/5
02. “Come Back When You Hear This Song”
When the song begins, I assumed this was going to be a ballad. Then when the Euro-dance claps and tempo rises, I wondered if they were going to ruin the song. It didn’t. “Comeback When You Hear This Song” does sound a bit unconventional at first. As if the song was originally written as a ballad but then later remixed into a dance song. It took a few listens, but now I just can’t stop singing the chorus.
Unlike “A.D.T.O.Y.,” I really like the choreography in this one. It’s different, and really makes for an animated performance. The rest of the MV has a story to tell, but it’s a story that’s been told in many music videos before. – 4/5
03. “Back to Square One” – After two stellar opening singles by JY Park, the rest of the album begins with a song penned by member Junho. It keeps the vibe and tempo of “Comeback When You Hear This Song” going. – 3/5
04. “I’m Sorry” – If there is one consistent theme going for this album, it’s ‘sexy’. ’90s R&B beats, smooth vocals… track four is great for an evening of winding down. Even if the lyrics are yearning for an apology, listening to this song, making up seems like only option 😉 – 4/5
05. “Today Marks the First Day” – Piano-tinged, mid-tempo and listenable. Nothing else to say about it really. – 3/5
06. “Dangerous” – Back to ‘sexy time’! Wooyoung’s smooth vocals and a catchy chorus are the highlights. Some of the Engrish is noticeable, but choose to ignore it, and you’ll enjoy the song quite a bit. – 3.5/5
07. “Just For Today” – The first real ballad on the album, and I don’t really have anything of note to say about it. – 2.5/5
08. “Game Over” – Also co-written by member Jun.K, this angst-driven track aims for an epic sound. The production values are okay but I really wish musicians would give up on the forced dubstep interlude. – 3/5
09. “Coming Down” – Another smooth ballad, with two (surprising) English rap verses by Taecyeon. It fits the downbeat tempo of the song, but we’re now entering album-filler territory. – 2/5
10. “Go Back” – Mediocre track with some interesting lyrics. Basically telling a girl how much the guy resents her and how much happier he would be if she left. – 2/5
11. “Love Song” – A better song than its predecessors, this ballad has a more organic instrumentation and some great vocal performances. – 3/5
12. “Suddenly” – Some fans are calling this the Korean version of “Hanarete Itemo,” a ballad featured on 2PM’s Japanese album ‘Republic of 2PM’. The resemblances are there, but it doesn’t sound bad in Korean anyway. After listening to the Japanese song, I somehow prefer it to this Korean version. Which is very rare. – 3/5
It’s pretty clear 2PM (or Park Jin-young/JY Park) was looking to shed their “beastly idol” boyband image they marketed with since debut. After all, 2PM aren’t the only boyband now with a “beastly” attitude. ‘Grown‘ is an album full of tracks to remind listeners 2PM are men now. Mature enough to take on relationship issues and a sexy vibe that doesn’t needlessly rely on Taecyeon ripping off his shirt.
With no silly party songs, ‘Grown‘ is also an example JY Park’s improved songwriting talents. Something he first showcased with Wonder Girls’ brilliant 2011 album ‘Wonder World‘. And although Wonder Girls have put out some great songs since then, it’s a shame JY Park hasn’t showered the same attention on his boys – 2AM and 2PM.
Of course, ‘Grown‘ isn’t without its flaws. There are times when rap verses seem completely unnecessary, but this is something you get used to with K-pop idol music. Members like Taecyeon and Nichkhun need something to do other than look good.
We all know 2PM has Jun.K and Wooyoung to deliver those power vocals, but it was interesting to hear Nichkhun sing more lines than usual. Unlike past albums, the tempo is fairly consistent from start to finish. There is no forced inclusion of a club dance song that gives way to the essential ballads. That said, a little variety would have been nice. The tempo is a bit too similar from start to finish.
All said and done, 2PM’s third album is by no means a classic. But the two lead singles – which took a few listens – are really good songs I may not tire of for the foreseeable future. And that longevity is a good thing.
My final rating for ‘Grown’: 3 out of 5 (Good)