Friday, December 16th, 2016

Gain – Carnival (The Last Day)

The carnival is never over.


Adaora Ede: “Carnival (The Last Day)” feels foreign coming from Ga In of Brown Eyed Girls, a member of a group who have been acclaimed for electropop tracks so edgy that you’ve cut your finger just listening to “Abracadabra” and a soloist of boundary pushing regards. Ga In’s newest lead single isn’t of the bleep bloopy, synth driven sound we’ve all come to know and tolerate. A lot of international K-pop fans fail to realize just how much clout balladry and acoustic music gets in Korea — see Bolppalgan Puberty’s recent MAMA nominations and actor-turned-singer Lim Chang Jung’s late September wins for “The Love I Had Committed,” sweeping music shows from idol groups like Red Velvet and Infinite (hence the YT comments asking “where’s the beat in this song?!! brb gonna go listen to bts“) Well, the beat is right there, bundled under vintage gospel instrumentation x Hounds of Love-era Kate Bush. Ga In falls flat in this song a few times with a belting refrain that doesn’t go as far as I would have wished, as she appears overpowered by the huge brass soundscape. Still, her ability to command a track is undeniable — Gain’s signature of theatrics have slipped out of the sultry bodysuits to frilled high neck tops. You’re limiting yourself if you don’t consider the song in terms of performance (it’s especially amusing to listen to the fan chants for this song — like, imagine Liza Minnelli with fan chants???), Ga In pulls out a full ass musical, forgodssakes. Also, I’m just very happy that a K-Pop version of the Umbrellas of Cherbourg exists.

Iain Mew: “This is Katamari music” said my partner immediately on hearing it. I was personally reminded more of Super Mario Galaxy, but be it video game or carnival, it’s emphatically redolent of something colourful and action-packed, a dazzling spectacle as it rolls and leaps its way between attractions.

Alfred Soto: Orchestral pop, purportedly in Technicolor. 

Brad Shoup: An astonishing cross between peak John Williams and breezy smooth-R&B ballad, with some warm jazz and chilling BGVs sewn in. Gain sings of mirages with sweetness and acceptance, deftly riding an arrangement that skims the emotional spectrum before nailing the landing with grand finality.

Thomas Inskeep: Widescreen, technicolor, Jazz Age instrumentation (sweeping strings, full horns) and a big, playful vocal from Gain add up to something akin to Björk’s “It’s Oh So Quiet”: it’s a song out of time, yet it works because its production is up-to-date, and its contrariness actually works in its favor. It’s such an outlier that it makes total sense, somehow. Delightfully epic.

Ramzi Awn: This musical dance takes its happiness where it can get it. The definition of flair, “Carnival (The Last Day)” has a tune like climbing tiny mountains. With snow on top. 

Jonathan Bogart: A K-pop song that functions as an homage to lush mid- (the last) century movie musicals (more Michel Legrand than Rodgers & Hammerstein) is one thing, but the fact that the restless drums are closer to Buddy Rich’s work for Count Basie than to anything actually in the movies of the time is what unites it with the rhythmic energy of the best pop, K- and otherwise, today.

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