Music Review: B1A4 "이게 무슨 일이야 / What's Going On?"

Nothing quite cheers me up like music from B1A4! Out of all the comebacks for 2013, B1A4's is one of my favorites! That energetic pop sound is just what I need to prepare for Summer, and the rest of the year. So, when I was trying to pick the next album to review, this was at the top of my list!

B1A4's 4th Mini Album What's Up, released May 6th 2013! 

This is the second time I have written about B1A4, but it's been a while since I reviewed something from them. They are a group under WM Entertainment, who first made an appearance through a Webtoon. They made their official debut in April 2011 and have been releasing super catchy Electronic Pop music ever since! The group name "B1A4" has two meanings. First, the blood types of the members. One member is Type B, and the others are Type A! The other meaning is, "Be the one, all for one." (And fans of Eatyourkimchi know them as "BILASA, conquerer of kitties and devourer of teenage girls' hearts!")

The members of the group are; The Leader Jinyoung/Jung Jin Young 1991, the Rapper CNU/Shin Dong Woo 1991, the Main Vocalist Sandeul/Lee Jung Hwan 1992, the Main Rapper and Type B Baro/Cha Sun Woo 1992, and the Maknae (youngest) of the group Gongchan/Gong Chan Shik 1993. Together they make a well rounded and talented group, with a really unique style. I don't mean just music-wise, but fashion style as well.

They released several teaser images before they revealed their newest Mini Album. After several promotions, it was released digitally online, and the next day the physical album was available as well. They also came out with a Music Video on May 7th, which I'll write more about later. The members wrote the lyrics for the songs on this album, and Jinyoung composed their title song. I also really like the album art for this one, I think it's as spunky and fun as their music! Speaking of which, let's move on to the songs individually.

- Starlight's Song (별빛의 노래) 

I would say the the Guitar is the most prominent instrument in this song. While there are a lot of layers, it stands out the most and the other instruments enhance its sound. From start to finish, it's my favorite part of the song. B1A4's music in this album has a Britt-Pop influence in it for sure, and that touch of Rock works really well for them. Also, the deeper "Hey-hey-hey" chorus in the background in the song sounds great, and works like another percussion sound. The lyrics are about singing a longing song to the night sky, wishing to be back together with the person they love. They had such great chemistry and they both miss and worry about them, even with a broken heart. It's beautifully written and even though it doesn't sound downcast, it really is a sad song. The music may have a purpose in sounding that way, because it's similar to the next song and makes a nice segue into the title track.

- What's Going On?/What's Happening? (이게 무슨 일이야) 

First, I want to talk about the Music Video. It's so bright, colorful, and fun! The Dollhouse theme was a very clever idea, and the transition between being the right size for the rooms and being more of a giant brought it to life. Sure, the Doll masks kind of freak me out, but that's my opinion on them. As the couple tries to be alone, the protective/jealous boys of B1A4 are stopping at nothing to see what's happening. The crazy patterned outfits and unique, energetic dance are what really make this video. Also, they did a great job of pairing the song and video together, which is what a MV is all about!
If you can't already tell, I've quite taken a fancy with this song. In fact, it's probably one of my favorite songs from May. While a lot of artists have made "Mash Up" type songs, with several different tempos and styles blended together, this is a really successful one. They go together in a way that I can't really explain, but it just feels right. The use of the different voice effects worked well, and I especially like the occasional Rap breakdowns. At the bridge everything sounds like it's going into slow motion, and it starts to pick up until you're thrown back into the chorus. The ending of the song also has a type of build up as they all sing together, yet it ends with the same kind of simple voice that it started with. Really well done, and I'm so glad that this is the highlighted song for the album.
(If you don't love the video, you can also check out their great live performance on M Countdown Here!)

- Yesterday 

The album takes a turn and changes to a more low tempo, ballad sound. This song reminds me a bit of music from Bruno Mars, it has that same type of Blues infused Pop sound. The Piano in the background is light and whimsical sounding, and is contrasted with a drum-line type percussion. It slows down even more and has a simple beat for the Bridge, as their voices overlay each other. I love the use of harmonies in the background, and how graceful they sound. The song is about reminiscing and remembering a kiss for the night before, and analyzing how it went, what to do it the future, and not being able to forget it. It's a very bittersweet song, and the lyrics and music go well together. Even though it's a ballad it still has B1A4 flair with the electronic effects that they use. They weren't out of place, instead there was just enough to give it a pinch of their distinct style.
(They also performed this song live for their comeback on M Countdown, you can watch it Here!)

- Good Love 

This is also a slower song, but the tone is very different. It has more of a alluring Jazz Lounge rhythm, and highlights the Piano and Brass Section. The music has more of a seductive melody and the singing is precise and leisurely. I really love the contrast of their voices, as well as the Baro's Rapping. In fact, out of all the songs on this album, this song highlights each member's vocals the most. Each person gets a chance to shine, and they also were able to flow into each others vocals seamlessly. It really shows the practice and teamwork that they put into the song. I wasn't really expecting a song like this, but it sounds fantastic! I think they were able to prove, with this song, that they can try out several different genres and succeed.

- How Many Times (몇 번을) 

This is the final track for the Mini Album. The song starts suddenly and slowly builds up to the Chorus. It has a kind of hypnotic and repetitive sound, which is perfect! It's a song about things happening over and over again (sleepless nights, being hurt, days passing), wondering how many times it will take, so it makes sense. It also makes the song easy to sing along with. I am so happy that they used their higher falsetto ranges for this song. Part of B1A4's sound is their higher voices, it's something that makes the band stand out for me. So, when that's prominent in a song it makes me really happy. There are also electronic effects in the background that are subtle at parts, but they add a lot to the track. The more I listen to it the more there is to notice, which is such an important feature of any song. It fades out slowly, and brings the album to a close.

That's it! Sadly, there were no Instrumentals for this album, probably since it's a Mini. I know not everyone like them but it's a great way to get to know the details in the music. Even though it's five songs there are different styles used and they explored a lot of sub-genres. Not to mention that their English is still as adorable, and has also improved a bit since Beautiful Target and Baby I'm Sorry. It's such a fun album to have around for the summer as the weather warms up. Personally, it's one of my favorite albums from the month (but that's another post), so I highly recommend it. You can buy the album on iTunes for around $6 digitally. You can also buy the physical album, which includes an 88 page Photobook and a random Sticker Sheet of one of the group members. If you're a fan, that really makes it worth it! You can buy it online at Yes Asia or Kpop Plus for around $20 , or a Music Store of your choice. Either way, I hope you're able to listen to it, and that you enjoy it as much as I did. If you've already heard this album, let me know what you thought in the comments! You already know what I think, so I'd love to hear your opinion!

See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,