Like them or not, there is absolutely no shadow of a doubt that B.A.P came onto the KPop scene with an explosion. I’m not going to lie; I didn’t even know this group was going to debut or even knew of their existence until I saw hoards of KPop fans talking about them, so I decided to check them out and see what they were like for myself. On first glance, I couldn’t help but think there was just so much going on and I couldn’t really take it all in the first time I watched their new MV. However, I was so impressed with the vocals, that mega fast rap and the intricate, aggressive dancing that I just had to watch it again. Despite the fact that my mind was so blown by the “what the hell have I just watched” factor, it still got me so hooked that I just couldn’t let this new group go without a chance. In my review, you’ll see what I think of the song, the video and the dancing, and why I think this group is destined for success.

Check it out below!

THE SONG

The song as a whole is aggressive, hard hitting, attacking and incredibly in your face. But that’s what makes B.A.P awesome from the word go; they didn’t start off with that cutsie boyband image and play it safe for their debut. Oh no. They went all out and basically said “We’re B.A.P, we’re here to stay and we’re the new generation of idols”. The song exudes confidence; something you’d hear from an established boy group, not a rookie. In fact, if you read a lot of comments from Facebook groups, YouTube and goodness knows where else, a lot of people are saying this is more like a comeback single than a debut, and I have to agree. It completely blew me out the water and it’s a song that really stands out.

Musically, there’s loads going on. You’ve got the constant percussion in the background, the hard drums, the synth horn and the occasional high pitched whistle which reminded me of a sort of jail-break alarm, and having that included in the song really hypes it up and adds that sense of panic and mania against the constant hard beats, which give it that army and tribal feel. In that respect, it kind of reminded me of TVXQ’s “Keep Your Head Down” as they have similar themes musically, but with a more urban and hip hop feel. The dance break is also very clever musically because it’s all about clever percussion beats with stomps and hand claps to give an infectious rhythm, not to mention what sounds like a series of gun shots going off at the end to keep in with the war-like theme. Plus, everyone likes a good thunder roar now and then to make things a bit more atmospheric!

The song is also very smart with it’s English hooks to really reel in the international fans (yes I know English has been used in KPop songs for many years now), like “get down, get down, get-get-get, get-get down”, “Once again, what’s the name of the game? B.A.P!” and who can forget the low rasp of “Waaaaaaaaaarior”? (Which actually, also reminded me of the low vocals to “Keep your Head Doooooown” on the TVXQ song of the same name. Yes, I know what you’re thinking…these guys are being compared to Big Bang and being the male version of 2NE1. And here I am comparing them to TVXQ…) There are also the nonsense lyrics which everyone can sing along to regardless of language barrier, like “diggi diggi dum, diggi diggi dum”, and “bow wow wow wow wow”. They’re simple, effective and really easy to remember so everyone can join in with the song. Also, they put their name in their song a lot. “What’s your B? What’s your A? What’s your P?” and the repetition of “Once again, what’s the name…” which is also very clever. I mean, you’re not going to forget the group’s name anytime soon are you if it’s being used all the way through the song? It’s like having the whisper of “JYP” at the beginning of almost every song under JYP Entertainment. It really sticks in your head.

We’ve covered the music, the lyrics and the theme, now it’s time to talk about the vocals. Who else was also a bit weirded out by one of the rapper’s shockingly low and raspy voice? I was like dude, when did Snape like KPop? But seriously, wow. That’s probably the lowest voice I’ve heard come from a male Korean singer (waits for all the fans to point me in the direction of lots of male singers with bizarre low voices). Now there’s nothing wrong with his voice, he’s a good rapper, but the tone and pitch of his voice was a little bit surprising. And actually, the more I listen to the song, the more I realise that his voice suits it very well, especially during the growl of “Warrior”. Can’t you imagine him just shouting “THIS. IS. SPARTA!”? Exactly. However, one thing that leaves me worried about his vocals is whether he is able to do other genres, like a nice, soft ballad. Time will tell!

Of course there’s the other rapper, Zelo. Wow. That kid can talk fast. And…that’s kind of all I have to say on him, the rap speaks for itself, let’s be honest here. As for the main singers they have good, strong and sturdy voices. Their voices match the power of the song and they can hold the long, harder notes too. It’s good to see that they don’t need to rely on auto tune and they actually have genuine talent.

So how well would it do in the UK? Actually, I think it could be quite successful. Us Brits love a bit of anger and power and this song has both of those and more. It’s mature, aggressive, not to mention that the English bits are also really catchy. The amount of times I’ve wandered round my house singing the “Get down, get down…” part (because my Korean sucks). It’s different to the music we have in the UK but it still has that familiar urban/hip hop edge which could save it’s popularity in the UK.

UK REVIEW: 4/5

THE DANCING

I don’t even know where to start with this dancing. It fits the song so well with it’s punches, the falling down, the zombie/puppetry symbolism…the choreographer is an absolute genius and so much thought has gone into it.

There are lots of references to violence like punches (as said above) and finger guns, as the song is about a war between people and even possibly yourself (we’ll discuss this later), with lyrics such as “I will confront and fight for the souls in this street”, “An evil DNA, virus”, “Bang bang, everyone cowardly aims behind your head”, “A little faster than a bullet” and so on and so forth. Another thing I love is the constant falling and getting back up in the dance; I find that it really represents the whole ‘being knocked down but not being defeated’ idea, that they’re going all out whatever the cost and they won’t lose. They use so many levels in this dance with a lot of floor work which I find quite brave, especially as this group sings live. It’s hard enough singing live when you’re dancing anyway but having to fall constantly means it’s going to be more hard work, so the choreographer has really set them a challenge by putting the falls in there and good on the boys for really taking it on the chin and giving it a go. The dance is by no means easy so to see a difficult routine done with such precision in both the MV and live versions, you really can’t help but applaud them for the energy and hardwork put into it.

There’s also a lot of death in here as well, where the members “strangle” themselves to represent the “suffocation” lyrics, the zombie moments, the point where they all fall to the floor in a typical “dead person in a coffin” position, plus the epic ending where they kill Zelo. The zombie moment I love to bits, where they sing “Get down, get down…” It reminds me of a zombie anyway because they all look sort of broken, with Zelo behind them “controlling” their every move, which is where the puppetry comes in. I love that this could be interpreted in a way that could symbolise that, we as a human race, are a very destructive species towards not only our own planet, but towards other people as well, that we’re just puppets to our own evil, power-seeking sides (Zelo) which in turn makes us a stupid race doing whatever we can to fulfill our own selfish desires, controlled by the evil within us and not being able to think for ourselves (zombie). I also love that towards the end, the zombies close in on the evil (Zelo) and destroy him. But enough of that Media Studies essay, I’ll discuss more about the symbolism in this video when I review the MV.

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The dance break is actually quite a nice change to the rest of the choreography. So far, we’ve had zombies, violence, and generally big, powerful and manly dance sequences showing off their muscles and masculinity, but the dance sequence is quite different. Still masculine, but is very reminiscent of the theatre production “STOMP“. They’re stamping on the ground, clapping and whacking their hands over their chests and legs etc to emphasise the rhythm and percussion used in the song. This also seemed very tribal to me, in the way that it can be perceived as really provoking in a “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” sort of way, but also intimidating. Either way, I think it’s really cool and something quite unique within the KPop music industry. I like that B.A.P have brought something so old and made it new again to the table, in the same way that After School did that tap routine which hit headlines everywhere. While I know that tap dancing is more peculiar to use in pop music than the odd bit of rhythmic stamping and clapping, it’s still something that I haven’t really seen or heard in a KPop song or MV.

Overall, this dance is powerful, provoking and above all, memorable. Who can forget the arrogant, daring march during “Waaarrrrior”, with their angry war faces, pulsating arm muscles and exposing their chests, daring you to make a move? And who can forget those zombie moves, the rhythmic tribal dance break? Every single move has been choreographed so well that it fits perfectly with the song and perfectly with the video. And their dance skills are so impressive as well – if they were a male group trying to look hard and tough it would just be embarrassing, but these guys are tough and out to attack (in this video, anyway. They might be like cute and cuddly teddy bears in real life!) which makes this MV as a whole just really work. Well done B.A.P, well done.

As for the UK, we’re establishing more of a dance culture here and it’s becoming more apparent in recent years, like Diversity winning Britain’s Got Talent and the dance reality TV shows we have here as well. Because of this, I think the UK would really sink their teeth into this dance routine. It’s charismatic, it’s powerful, it’s in your face and I think it could really wow the UK. Hip hop/Urban dancing is becoming more popular here so this really fits the bill and keeps in with the current trend.

UK REVIEW: 5/5

MUSIC VIDEO

Nearly there guys! Onto the last section now which is, as you may have cleverly realised, is about the MV. And blimey, this is one hell of an MV.

Similarly with the song and dance, this MV has been very well thought out. Did you think that, despite the constant name dropping in the song, you still think you won’t remember their name? Well, their name is splattered everywhere in this video; from graffiti on the walls, to posters, to graffiti on the cars…their name is inescapable, as is the title of the song as that is everywhere too. And they’re not just in the background, you get really big close ups of it as well, including the lyrics “Once again, what’s the name of the game? B.A.P.” It’s a clever strategy from a Rookie group, but there are times when I think it can be a little bit too much.

Now, the reason why I earlier said I thought there was too much going on was because of the camera work. The camera is just everywhere. All the cuts are really short and it’s constantly moving. Plus, with the flames/lasers/wind flying about everywhere it can get really disorientating and on a first viewing, I didn’t really know what I was meant to be looking at! It could have almost been construed as a mess if it wasn’t for the fact that the “chaotic” look is appropriate for the theme. It’s about a war, so of course it’s going to be a bit crazy and mad. After the first viewing, I got used to it.

So what’s the story of MV? Well, here’s the MV as I interpret it. As you can see, they’re in a very barren and desolate setting, like they’re the only ones left in the neighbourhood. Things are on fire, the graffiti shows a lack of respect and civilisation…it’s apparent that a war has happened and this is the aftermath. Again, a lot of death symbolisation here with the use of skulls – both “real” and on a poster, which suggests a danger zone and maybe the start of a rebellion or even revolution. The use of chains and being behind bars goes to show that there have been a lot of restraints – perhaps trying to break free of all the evil surrounding them or perhaps just feeling chained down or trapped by it. Later on in the video we see that “mother nature” decides show her ferocity by producing strong winds, making newspapers and other objects fly all over the place and the fire has become more out of control. We’ve been at war with ourselves and each other, now the Earth itself is making war with it’s left over inhabitants. Visually, this really gives a fantastic climax because it makes things more crazy and chaotic, and they just plough through it with determination. Right now it looks more like a movie set then an MV, let alone an MV for a rookie group. And of course the zombie story is implemented in there, which I already discussed in the “Dance” section.

I like how they used the “destroyed neightbourhood” setting and a “club” setting. The destroyed neighbourhood gives more of a symbolised storyline but the club one was also good to throw in, because it is a song you can really join in with, fist pump to (if you’re a 90’s kid like me), and lose yourself in it. But it doesn’t lose it’s feel with the storyline, because of it’s use of huge speakers piled up against each other. Overall, there’s a hip hop and slight ghetto, grimy feel.

The hip hop/ghetto/grime has also been placed on the artists themselves, mixing up their clothes between what looks like car mechanic overalls (makes sense, as they’re surrounded by cars. Also gives the impression that ‘normal everyday males can take on the world too) with oil and dirt smudged all over them making them look battle worn, and hard core hip hop clothes with their studded, colourful leather jackets and trousers which also look like the colourful graffiti on the walls.

Overall, this MV fits so well with the music and is a brilliant, well thought out complete package. It doesn’t have a storyline like JYJ’s “In Heaven”, T-Ara’s “Cry Cry”, or TVXQ’s “Before U Go”, but the storyline is very symbolic much like Brown Eyed Girls’ “Sixth Sense”. The good thing about symbolism though is that you can make up your own interpretations. Maybe you’ve read mine and thought that that’s not what you came up with – that’s cool, there’s no right or wrong. But with or without storyline, if you look deep into it or just want to be entertained, this is still one of the better KPop videos we’ve seen in recent years and hope other agencies take note. Music is important, but so are videos.

So how would the UK rate this? Let’s be honest here, our music videos aren’t exactly of a great standard so I think it would be a very refreshing change for the UK audience to see something so well produced as this. It’s packed with action and power, everything that we typically love. The constant name dropping might be a bit annoying, but otherwise, this MV just can’t be faulted.

UK REVIEW: 4.5/5

All in all this is a fantastic debut and I can’t wait to see/hear more from B.A.P. I just hope that they haven’t released their best song and goes downhill from here, because they have so much potential and already seem like idols. I will be following them with great interest and hope they reap in the success that they deserve.

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What do you think about this review? Do you agree with us? Let us know in the comments!

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UnitedKpop's resident film connoisseur.