Music Review: Smash "I Will Protect"

The group that I want to talk about today may not sound familiar to most people, because they were away from the Korean music scene for a while. They also can get confused with an Indonesian group that has the same name, but the band I'm writing about is SMASH/ SM☆SH / 스매쉬, and they are a Korean band that spends a lot of time in Japan. I'm really excited to see a comeback from them, after not releasing a korean album in about four years!

SMASH's 2nd Mini Album I Will Protect, released November 8th 2012!

After being out of the K-Pop scene, for so long that really that most people think they are debuting, SMASH is back with their 2nd Korean Mini Album! It's confusing to look up their information and music, because it can get confused with the Indonesian band at times, but it's worth it! SMASH debuted in 2008 with "Open Fire!" in Sound Korea, as well as the Single "White Night" for Christmas, but didn't release anything after that. Later, they debuted in Japan with "Air Smash 1" in 2011, and continued to release singles there, and even released a Concert Film. While they are a Korean group, they left for years and focused their talents in Japan, not releasing any more Korean album on their own, until now! They were under TN Entertainment in Korea, and used to have six members. In Japan they switched over to For Life Music Entertainment, and Cheon Woo left the group during the switch, leaving them with the current five members. Between Japan and this album, they joined TONY (a CEO at TN Ent. and a former member of H.O.T) to release the Korean Single "Get Your Swag On" in early 2012. (I didn't really consider this a part of SMASH returning, but a special co-op performance, which is why I still consider this album their comeback.) You can watch it performed live Here!

I'm a newer fan of the group, but I still love their older songs and their Japanese releases as well! While a lot of their fans followed their careers in Japan, other people lost touch with them while they left the country. The members that are in the group since 2011 are World, Jerry, Naru, Hero, and Hanbang. World/Nam Hyun Joon is the main vocalist and leader of the group. He was actually born in 1980 and originally debuted with the group D.Bace in 2001. (I bet you didn't think he was over 30 by looking at him?) Jerry/Shim Min Kyu is the Rapper in the group, and was born in 1988. Naru/Ju Young Seok is also a Rapper, and was also born in 1988. Next up is Hanbang/Han Jung Su with is the other vocalist in the group and was born in 1989. Finally, there's Hero/Kim Min Su, the Maknae and singer in the group, who was born in 1991. The members of SMASH are older than most K-Pop groups, but this doesn't put them at a disadvantage, this means that they have trained longer and have experience in the music industry. Their new album has a current sound, but still has the same SMASH style to it. It's pretty short, with only four tracks, but it's still very good. I also love the album art, with the jumping and movement that's in the photo, while still looking controlled and classy. The SMASH logo on the leaders shirt was a nice touch as well. It drew me to the album even more, so they did a good job with a simple yet classic looking design. Now, onto the music!

- Why Only Me (왜 나만…)

This song is actually their remake of a Mandarin song by Jessie Chaing named "Na Bu Shi Ai/That Isn't Love", though the lyrics differ, the meaning of the song is similar and so is the music (It's credited to the original, so it's not them plagiarizing or anything). The song is really beautiful and I think it makes a great start to the album. I love the sound of it, there's a slight '90s influence to the music and the effects used, but not too much to make it cheesy. I especially love the "Missing you Baby" parts in the song, they're really beautiful, and the echo used is really cool. While most people don't like older sounding Pop songs like this, I'm a total sucker for them. The beat is really simple, and there's a high electronic flute type sound in the background that adds more depth to the song, and having the Piano open and close the song was a great touch as well. All of the members have really beautiful voices that express emotion well, and you get to hear their vocals more on this song. The song has a great melancholy feeling to it that calms you instantly when you put it on. Their voices and the music match each other perfectly, making for a classic sounding Pop Ballad that's really pretty. I also think that they harmonize really well, which makes sense because they have been together for so long. There's not much more to say about the song, it's just good.

- I Will Protect You (지킬께)

The Music Video that they made was for this song, which is also the title song of the album. It has the general city scape theme to it, with roof tops, cars, and the background of the club and buildings (People also said that the Angel Club sign may be a reference to the Drama Bridal Mask). I did like the addition of the Helicopter pad for the video though, and the high up shots of it where you can still make out their dance moves, I thought that it was really creative. The dancing was also very good, really quick, precise, and interesting to watch. You can watch the video Here, and the live version of the song Here! The song itself reminds me a bit of Infinite's music, with the Electronic Pop sound to it. I love the beginning of the song when they say, "We Came Back! Smash is back! Hello, hello, girl." I think that their older fans probably got really excited when they said that, and I did even though I'm not a long time fan! I also love the breaks in the song for the Rap sequences, and the high notes for the Chorus. The lyrics are really good as well, as he talks about how he will protect the woman he loves, even if she pushes him away, wants a different man, or leaves. It's a love that's dedicated to love and protect the person, even if they stray away from you and don't love you the same way, and waiting for them to come back eventually. The subtle effects that they used throughout the song were done really well, and I love the electric guitar in the background. For the harmonies their voices echo each other mostly, and in general they switch parts throughout the song seamlessly. It has a really classic K-Pop sound that I appreciate, which made me really enjoy the song.

- Ice Lover

The final song on the album is Ice Lover, which has the same theme as the song "She's as cold as Ice". It starts out with heavy breathing, as he says "Can you hear me? Smash is back." I think that I may like this song best out of the whole album, so I wish that it was highlighted more. There is so much going on in this song to talk about, yet it isn't cluttered sounding! They have the breathing theme, and you can almost picture the white steam leaving their mouths because it's so cold. I also love the really deep voiced parts between the verses and chorus, along with the "Ow!" high notes! The bridge is beautiful, and the way that they repeat "Love no more" was really cool. I love the overlap of the high notes, and the almost radio sounding voices, which move into the deep voice again near the end. The electronic noises sound like retro 8-bit game music at times, and like current step music at others. From start to finish it's a solid song, and you can hear the longing in their voices for the woman to stop being so cold. Both the singers, rappers, and the music went together really well to make a great K-Pop song. These are the kinds of songs that make me love Korean Pop, where they are balanced yet complex, deep and emotional, and have great high and low notes and music that mixes electronic and instrumental sounds. It's a great end to the album, and a wonderful way to make a comeback.

I said before that there are four songs, because the final song is an Instrumental for I Will Protect. I personally love instrumentals, so that I can hear the music clearly and grow to appreciate the song as a whole. It's not everyones preference, but I love it when artists include them in their albums.

There you have it, the comeback album by SMASH! I have to say that I thought they did a Smashing job! (Sorry, I had to...) While not everyone loves "classic" K-Pop music, I love it! I wish that they had a longer album after being gone for four years, but I'm glad that they at least released something! Whether you like the Electric Pop sound or not, it's worth listening to the album at least once! Seeing bands return, and having older members than other people in the current industry, makes me smile and appreciate them more. You can buy the album for about $13 (with shipping) Here, or any other place that you like to buy from. Sadly, you cannot currently buy it digitally on iTunes or Amazon, but hopefully you will in the future (I already put in the request). Overall, I hope that you like the album as much as I did! I won't say that it's the best album of the year, but I will say that it's good enough to own or listen to at some point! I hope that they continue to release music, and stay in the industry for many years to come.

See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,