Thursday, December 13th, 2012

AMNESTY 2012: E.via ft. Bae Kyung – Night Blooming Roses

Will this be the last K-Pop we hear in 2012?… (Spoiler: no)


Frank Kogan: The orchestral riffs are halfway ominous, and E.via is half dreamy and half anxious. Since I haven’t seen a translation, and E.via’s never been one to stick to concepts, what’s blossoming in this lyrical night could, for all I know, be anything from salaciously funny come-ons to wretched self-laceration: “Good night, have a sexy dream” reads one of her tweets; but “There’s nothing to look forward to these days except TV dramas” is how pop!gasa translates a particularly dispiriting line from “Crazy Fate” on the same mini-album. A fan on Tumblr writes “I was already dead because I chose to love you” atop a gif of that song’s video. In any event, as E.via insistently climbs her twilight/morning-light riff, she sounds as if she’s abandoning neither dream nor anxiety. Ascends mountains, dances across thistles. Sorta like her whole career.

David Moore: A great one from E.Via, the semi-avant wild child who has and eats more cakes than any other K-popper. Amid James Bond theatrics, E.Via uses Lana Del Rey neo-neo-lounge as a backdrop for laser-beam syncopated rap that nonetheless somehow bounces lazily with the rest of the track. Guest verse guy wheezes like latter-day Jay-Z while E.Via giggles and pants and shrieks colorfully in the background.

Iain Mew: “Night Blooming Roses” works through finding a narrow balancing point between pretty and gritty, where E.via sings softly and then raps (and at one point literally spits) over see-sawing strings as tension grows and grows. The bit at the end after it melts down and Bae Kyung steps in turns it full sinister, onto more familiar hip hop, but by then it has already staked out its own intriguing ground.

Patrick St. Michel: “Night Blooming Roses” is a lovely string sample with bouncy rap courtesy of E.via for its first two minutes and 45 seconds, the sort of song that sounds lovely but seems a little too safe, pure [5] territory. Then E.via steps back, someone starts screwing around with the sample and a scream ripped from a Halloween sound-effects CD roars up. Suddenly, the once-pretty beat reveals itself to be a monster, with guest rapper Bae Kyung driving the creepy factor home with his teetering-on-unhinged verse. It’s a great trick, one that puts the whole song in a whole new light even on repeat plays.

Will Adams: I’m guessing it’s meant to sound like it’s fifteen years old? The double-edged sword of nostalgia is that it reminds you of the good ol’ times but also that there were better songs than this.

Brad Shoup: I just don’t find cinematic strings a good match for hip-hop; either the constrast is stale or the sense of portent stalls in the driveway, I dunno. Maybe the film genre matters? Until Kyung shows up, the strings reek of a staid period drama. There’s a preciousness to the chintzy production that E.via matches, abetted by that dreadful EQ filter. Bae Kyung shows up to unhinge things a bit, but first he has to cool his heels in Beetlejuice‘s waiting room.

Alex Ostroff: Classical music loops for rap are always a good idea in theory, but in practice they’re a bit too cute and tend to undercut whatever is intoned over top. (See: Nas’ “I Can“, much as I kind of enjoy it.) The odd sort of stuttering Disney choral voices right before Bae Kyung comes in are lovely, though, and the flip to inverted arpeggios for his verse is quite effectively creepy, so perhaps E.via’s verses are meant to feel frothy?

Katherine St Asaph: So much patched-in portent! It’s like she’s rapping over a boss theme, even before the chopped-and-screwed chorale and MIDI counterpoint take their cues. The tinny bombast would probably render whatever this is about irredeemably melodramatic (Google wants me to think the lyrics are Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming, which is actually hilarious), but I can always not translate.

Jonathan Bogart: Unconvincing of everything except its commitment to the rhythm. Which is a good one, and being convincing is only, like, 20% of a pop star’s job. The rest is building enough of a personality that everyone will be convinced for you. E.via does that; I’m not sure Bae Kyung does.

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