Block B have finally dropped their first full-length album, the epic Blockbuster! The album features 12 pop and hip-hop tracks, including their comeback track Nilriri Mambo. This album contains a great mix of genres, and there is undoubtedly a song to appeal to any of us.
Track 1 – 11:30
Firstly I have to say that I was glad to find that this wasn’t a brief introduction song for the album as I’ve found on some CD’s before; I prefer albums to get straight into the music, so Blockbuster starting with a full track was a good sign.
This slow hip-hop song is quite a chilled out track with a real feel-good sound, which I found to be an unusual but great way to begin an album. In some ways this song reminded me a little of the slower kinds of tracks from artists such as Usher and Chris Brown, and other hip-hop/pop/R&B contemporary artists, which is a good sound to have as these kinds of songs are pretty universally popular. I don’t think this would be advisable as a debut song in the UK, but sound-wise it has potential to be popular.
Just like how I find pretty much all of Block B’s music, there is a great mix of both vocal and rap parts to this track, and I think this song has an overall sound that will appeal to a variety of people. As the first track on an album, this song needs to have the ability to appeal to a broad spectrum of people to get them to keep listening, which this track does perfectly.
UK potential: 3.5/5
Track 2 – Interlude
So, here was the kind of mini-track that I had hoped would not be in this album. This is a 30 second orchestral arrangement that they have called an interlude, which I found unnecessary and odd; why would you place a musical interlude only one song into an album?
The only thing that I can say is that this lead very well into the next track, which is was undoubtedly designed to do; it has the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ feel to it that Nilriri Mambo does. Other than that, this really doesn’t have much purpose.
UK potential: It’s not really a song, so this won’t receive a rating.
Track 3 – 닐리리맘보 (Nilriri Mambo)
This song has a completely badass feel to it, and the mix of hip-hop beats with the grand orchestral arrangement is unusual and incredibly interesting. Everything about this song is completely audibly pleasing, but it must be said that the English used in this track sounds a little strange at times. The English lyrics are interspersed throughout the song and include ‘okey dokey’ and ‘this song is groovy, groovy’, but I was pretty pleased to hear that most of it was fairly well pronounced, which would definitely make this a more accessible and enjoyable song for non-Kpop fans. Plus, the big use of English in this track would definitely make this song something most people can sing along to, and therefore pretty likeable.
UK potential: 4/5
Track 4 – Mental Breaker
This track was made by leader Zico, and arranged by Swedish composers Marcos Ubeda and Kevin Borg.
This track is a funky disco-inspired dance track with a great beat and vocals. It’s upbeat, but sounds a little too much like a generic pop song for my liking. I don’t think this sort of track would be enough to entice potential British listeners into buying this album as there is nothing really that sets it apart from other pop groups.
This kind of song isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this sound is definitely not my favourite, and throughout the entire song I’m left wondering; what’s a mental breaker?
UK potential: 2/5
Track 5 – 장난없다(No Joke)
This track dives straight back into the hip-hop genre, with strong and almost brutal sound. It has a deep, electronic beat with cool sounding rapping – the kind of song that makes you want to swagger down a street while listening to it.
This is the kind of song that would give Block B real hip-hop credibility here in the UK, with a great mix of P.O.’s deep voice and Zico’s ridiculous talent for speed-rap, this song is just straight up awesome. It will definitely have more of an appeal to guys then other songs on this album, and I think this song would be an ideal song to get non-Kpop fans interested in Block B as it is attention-grabbing and completely unapologetic about it.
UK potential: 5/5
Track 6 – Movie’s Over
This is a slower song in comparison to the previous tracks and has a slightly pop-rock sound to it; it comes as a slight respite after such a strong track as No Joke. This song serves as a sample of the wonderful vocals Block B has to offer alongside their well-known rapping, and would have a pretty blanket appeal to a wide variety of people.
Personally I think that it’s not their most interesting song, but it still sounds good and has that signature Block B vibe to it, which in itself it completely undeniable and adds an edge to any song they make.
UK potential: 3.5/5
Track 7 – 넌 어디에 (Where Are You/Where you at)
This is a solo track performed by the lead singer, Tae Il. As most solos by lead singers, this is a ballad, and it serves as a beautiful display of his vocal talent and capabilities.
Block B fans would probably enjoy this song seeing as most of Block B’s tracks are heavily inspired by hip-hop, there isn’t much of a chance to hear Tae Il sing like this, but on the other hand this will mean very little to potential UK listeners.
Ballads like this aren’t very popular here in the UK, but the ones that are mainstream are mostly sung by women; Adele, Emeli Sande, etc. As such, I think this song isn’t one that will really appeal to a lot of people, especially when listening to Blockbuster, as it isn’t really in-keeping with the sound of the rest of the album.
UK potential: 2/5
Track 8 – 로맨틱하게(Romantically)
Similar to Mental Breaker, this song has a funky, slowed down sound that has a pretty jazzy feel to it. It’s quite chilled out, and feels more relaxed in comparison to other songs on this album and would probably work quite well as the final song (but it isn’t, obviously).
Here in the UK, songs like this aren’t particularly popular right now; it sounds a little outdated in a way, but not to the point that it would evoke nostalgia like Adele, Duffy or other artists who create music with a 60’s sound.
I could be being unnecessarily harsh, but this song would probably not be popular in the UK if it were released by itself, but it’s not bad when considered as part of the album as a whole – it shows how diverse Block B can be musically.
UK potential: 2/5
Track 9 – 했어 안했어 (Did You Or Didn’t You)
This track is one of my personal favourites on the album as it is a solid pop song with a quirky sound, and probably one of the first real times on the album that some kind of auto-tune has been noticeably used. I know that not everyone likes auto-tune, but I think when used effectively and with consideration, it can really give a song a strong edge.
In comparison to some other songs on this album, this track sounds a little softer but still maintains a unique Block B sound, and I think it would be the kind of song that will appeal to a variety of people. I don’t think it would suffice as an attention-grabbing debut song in the UK, but I think it would a popular song on the album.
UK potential: 4/5
Track 10 – Halo
This is technically the final song on the album, and it takes us back to a hip-hop style, which serves as an awesome final impression of the album overall and the kind of music Block B really makes. It has a really cool sound and definitely has the potential to be popular here in the UK, but some of the English used does sound a little strange, especially the pronunciation of ‘halo’ which sounds more like they are saying ‘hello’. Good English pronunciation is really the key to being popular over here, but with a little work I think Block B would stand a good chance.
It must be said that as far as I am aware, this song was on a previous album, but I don’t think that detracts from how well this song fits with the sound of Blockbuster. Halo is the kind of song that has you itching to hit replay and just listen to the entire album on repeat.
UK potential: 4.5/5
Track 11 – 닐리리맘보 (Inst.)
I don’t know about you, but whenever I used to buy a CD or a single when I was younger, I used to hate finding that one of the end tracks was an instrumental version of one of the other songs in the track list. It seemed a little pointless and I would have much preferred another song to be recorded or that they would just leave it off the CD because I wasn’t interested in hearing a slightly altered version or a remix.
Coming back to this track, I was disappointed to find that it literally just the music of Nilriri Mambo without the vocals. Don’t get me wrong, the song is amazing, but I don’t foresee this being a popular track from this album in the slightest. If anything, this would probably be one that potential listeners would just skip past.
UK potential: 1/5
Track 12 – Mental Breaker (Inst.)
Again, never a real fan of different versions of the same song, and the same as the track previous, this is literally Mental Breaker with no vocals. Not the most interesting part of the album.
UK potential: 1/5
One of my most common worries about Kpop artists trying to break into the UK is that most non-Kpop fans are gonna be a little reticent about paying out extra for a CD with superfluous packaging, because most CD’s in this country have basic and bog-standard plastic cases. The price of Kpop CD’s will always be higher because you are paying extra for the unique packaging, so if this album were to be released into the UK market a more plain casing would definitely be advisable.
Luckily, in comparison to some Kpop CD’s that I have or have just seen, the packaging for Blockbuster is pretty reasonable and basic. When buying this album, there is also the option to purchase the limited edition version with a poster.
The less fancy the packaging is an advantage because it means the CD will cost less. In turn this means that the cheaper the price of the CD, the more likely it is that an undecided listener might pick it up; fancy packaging might draw attention, but I don’t think it would be enough to get people to actually pay for it if they are not invested in Block B as a fan.
Packaging score: 4/5
Packaging score: /5
I was very pleased to find that this was not a mini album, as so many Kpop artists seem to release these days, and as such it is much better value for the money you spend if you buy it.
Blockbuster contains a great mix of song genres, ranging from their favoured hip-hop style to ballads, and even some influences from jazz and funk are prominent. This mix makes this album much more likely to appeal to a very wide audience, as it is unlikely that there will be many people who don’t like even just one song on this album. In my opinion though, the album would be stronger if the instrumental versions were left out, as the album finishes on such an epic note with Halo but the impression left by that song feels a little ruined when the instrumentals start.
The English used throughout the songs was better than I had imagined, but it would still be something they would need to work on if they wanted to release an album here in the UK; Engrish is quite likely going to put potential listeners off from buying this album.
After averaging out the scores for the songs, it comes to the conclusion that this album has a rating of 6.1/10 chance of successfully appealing to UK listeners and being popular here in the UK. It would have been much higher, but the scores for the instrumentals really dragged their overall score down.
Out of the songs on the album, either their comeback song Nilriri Mambo, No Joke, or Halo would probably be the best songs to debut here with. This is because they are strong and attention grabbing tracks that shouldn’t fail to get a lot of people interested in Block B.
So, what do you think of this review? Do you think they have a good chance of making it over here? Let us know! In the meantime, you can grab their album from Yes Asia here.