This week we’ll be looking at the newest single from Block B, ‘NalinA’, because we rock-rock-rock-rocking now!
This song has a cool and urban concept, but doesn’t take itself too seriously which made it a song that I grew to like very quickly. The majority of the lyrics are rapped, which plays a big part in making this song urban-sounding, and are delivered in gruff and masculine voices throughout which shows a very strong and confident side to Block B. This kind of sound should appeal to guys and a fair amount of girls. I wouldn’t go quite as far as saying this song is ‘hip hop’, but definitely edgy pop.
The way the video is shot and the style Block B rocks for this song is quite dark. I must say that I’m not entirely sure what is happening in the video…I think they’re fighting over a girl? There is definitely some kind of gang rivalry involved that seems to come to a violent conclusion on a rooftop of an empty old building. Despite not quite following what’s happening, it looks pretty awesome, and most people I know aren’t really too concerned with what actually goes on in music videos as long as the visuals are good, and as such I think this video would do well in the UK.
I wasn’t going to look into the Korean lyrics this time to give myself a better understanding of what listening to this as a non-K-pop fan would be like, but I couldn’t help myself. I really needed to clear up a few questions I had about what was going on in the video. I hoped that perhaps the Korean lyrics would give me a better idea of what’s happening, but it didn’t really so I’m still a little lost. But after reading the translated lyrics, it was confirmed that my initial thoughts of this being a confident song were correct as the lyrics are pretty much just bragging. Normally I avoid these kinds of songs, but the boys deliver this song with so much charisma and confidence that I can’t help but believe every word they say.
This song has a generally quite street/urban sound, and the image, style and song fit well with this. The only few exceptions I can think of are the one member (Tae-il) with a bowl cut and glasses. There is no denying that he looks cute, but he looks a little out of place next to the other members who are dressed in a cool and hip style. There is some fairly questionable fashion in places which most K-pop fans can accept as we’ve probably seen worse in other videos, but Zebra print jackets and furry sleeves? Probably not gonna fly as men’s fashion in the UK.
Score – 3/5
If we think from the perspective of a non-K-Pop fan, the dance for this song is generally pretty good; the confident theme translates well into the choreography as none of the moves require great physical exertion and look somewhat relaxed. This is not to say the dancing is lazy in anyway, it’s along the lines of they know they’re good at what they do, and as such they don’t need to do anything fancy for people to like it, which again ties in very well with the extra confident lyrics and concept.
But, a part of the chorus choreography, which is affectionately labelled the ‘gorilla dance’ would be subject to sniggers from non-K-Pop fans, and I will admit that I laughed the first few times I saw it; it is odd looking and not very stylish, and doesn’t seem to keep in with the tone of the rest of the video or song. However, it is memorable and after a while doesn’t seem as odd as the first time you see it.
Another section of the dance performed during U-Kwon’s part of the song might win over a few ladies, which is the Ab flashing dance. The Ab flashing combined with the confident smirks of the boys may just gain them some favour after the gorilla dance.
One of the first things I noticed was that the English sounds a little stilted, which is going to be picked up immediately by any other native English speaker. To be honest I have heard a lot worse English in other K-pop songs, but after reading the translated lyrics I realised that there was a lot more English in the song than I had realised, it’s just that the pronunciation wasn’t the best. I think the best example is that one of the members has a line with some pretty average ‘Engrish’ mistakes; ‘I’m so groove, I’m so special’. It’s pretty cringe to listen to, especially with the mispronunciation of ‘special’ making it sound more like ‘speciar’. Plus, I must also mention that they use the phrase ‘goo goo ga ga’ which we all know in English is baby talk. This phrase doesn’t mean anything in Korean, and as far as I’m aware they use it to indicate that they can make someone crazy, and I can only assume that they don’t know the connotations that it has in the English language. I had hoped that ‘goo goo ga ga’ made sense in context, which it does to a degree, but it won’t make sense to UK listeners and just sounds pretty funny.
I know a fair few people who scoff at the idea of Korean people rapping, and I’m pretty convinced that this song might bring a little credibility to Korean rapping to UK listeners. I can’t claim to be any kind of rap technique expert but I like to think that my love for K-pop doesn’t hinder my ability to be objective about what sounds good, and this song sounds amazing. The rapping parts provided by Zico are fast and interesting sounding, plus P.O.’s deep and rough voice sounds like it was made to rap.
Some of the beats of the song remind me a little of ‘Low’ by Flo-rida, and both songs are the type to get everybody dancing. ‘Low’ is still played in clubs all the time and I have a feeling that if ‘NalinA’ were to be introduced into the UK market, clubs are where you would mostly hear it. It’s a cool and edgy song, with a great, almost infectious beat that you just have to dance to.
The repetition of the song title ‘NalinA’ sounds cool and is easy to remember for people who don’t speak Korean. This translates into ‘Causing an uproar’* but it just sounds like noises to non-Korean speakers, but it’s still pretty fun to repeatedly say though. I can’t shake the thought that the way they say ‘NalinA’ in the song it sounds like a taunt, and in my opinion that just adds to the cool factor of this song.
Overall score: 9/15 – A fairly decent score, but I’m not as convinced that this song will be as successful in the UK as some other K-Pop songs. Don’t get me wrong, I adore this song, but perhaps with some tweaks to the English lyrics this song would have a better chance here.
Thanks for reading! Post your thoughts and votes for next week below!
*I’d just like to point out that I have read a few slightly varied translations of the lyrics, and they all state that this is basically what this phrase means. I am by no means a Korean language expert, just trying to understand the lyrics the best I can! ^^