Review

Song Review: Pentagon – Cosmo

2018 was a whirlwind year for Pentagon, presenting great achievements and unexpected tailspins. Their career trajectory in Korea seems impossible to predict, but they’ve come roaring back with their first original Japanese single. And Cosmo is a doozy. The song is completely confounding on first listen, and sounds nothing like any music the group has recorded before. It’s as frustrating as it is fantastic, but its highs outweigh the lows.

The most aggravating thing about Cosmo is that, with only a few minor tweaks, it could have been legendary. Its best moments harness everything I love about K-pop (and J-pop), but they’re too sparingly used. The song has a real oddball structure, revolving around a few central hooks without ever settling on an easily identifiable chorus. Instead, much of the track is dedicated to creating a sense of build. It revs itself up so intensely, only to result in a few sporadic spurts of momentum. It spends far too much time noodling around in mid-tempo territory.

So why award Cosmo such a high rating? Well, when it does catch fire, it’s out-of-this-world good. The chorus-adjacent refrain from 1:34 to 1:51 is one of the most potent shots of vocal power we’re likely to hear all year. I only wish it repeated more than once. And even though the song’s off-kilter structure is difficult to parse the first few times through, I think this sense of disorientation is actually going to give it long-term appeal. I love the way that every element seems to circle around the same melodic theme. Even the rap feels integral to the whole. With so much up in the air when it comes to their Korean promotions, I think Pentagon would do well to pursue this sound further. Their vocals are too strong to waste on an infinite number of Shine retreads.

 Hooks 9
 Production 9
 Longevity 9
 Bias 9
 RATING 9

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6 thoughts on “Song Review: Pentagon – Cosmo

  1. Kind of a confusing listen? I’m not sure how I feel about it – it almost feels like ternary form, which is very unusual. This is probably not what the composers were going for but its the feeling that I get here. I’ll try and explain. It’s essentially three parts:

    1. They lay out a basic melody in the beginning (heavily based around the general contour of the chord progression), and more or less everything does end up revolving around this progression even if the melodies aren’t the same. Then they have the instrumental break and “verse,” the “chorus” which lasts until 1:34, and the “chorus adjacent” part from 1;34-1:51 (which has a big time texture shift and overall different contour and color from everything up until now).

    2. After that, we go through some more instrumental stuff and “verse,” leading to another texture shift part, that is similar but definitely not the same as 1:34-1:51, followed by another “chorus” that is similar (same sort of contour around the chord progression) but not the same to any of the melodies we have heard so far. It could be called a variation on the original theme established at the beginning of the song. Usually the second chorus would go hear, but neither the “chorus” nor “chorus adjacent” part are repeated! Quite odd, to be honest.

    3. Through the end of the song there’s Yuto’s rap followed by the “chorus” and “chorus adjacent” part, both of which are direct repeats of the analogous parts in section one.

    This is similar to how a traditional ternary form sonata is structured! The first section is the Exposition, and lays out the melodies that you will be working with. The second section is called the Development and – in an actual sonata movement – will usually involve key shifting, new melodies, and further development of the themes originally laid out in the Exposition. Sometimes the Development is a huge departure from the rest of the atmosphere of the piece, and sometimes it follows the Exposition more obviously. The third section is the Recapitulation, and is more or less a repeat of the first section. Recapitulations often are transposed into a different key and involve subtle melodic changes which seem tailor-made to frustrate the instrumentalist. For example, the recapitulation in the Beethoven I’m playing right now is in a different key and changes the melodic contours in tiny little ways (and some bigger ways at times) while keeping it very obvious that “yes, this is a clear repetition of the first two pages, but I’m Beethoven and I want to be more cool than all of the boring composers who just repeat the first bit.” Look up his sonata no.4 in e flat maj and listen to the first movement – it’s pretty short – if you want to see this effect in action!

    Enough about me TT Pentagon’s song follows this whole structure pretty analogously, with a “bit that lays that the melody,” “a bit that sort of is the same but actually isn’t,” and “a repeat of the first part.” I’m probably over-complicating things, but it’s still fun to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great breakdown! This structure definitely threw me for a (disappointed) loop the first time I heard the song, but I think it’s actually paid off in the long run. It’s unusual for k-pop, but like I mentioned in the review, I think the high points are so high that I’m willing to wait for them to come around each time. Plus, the overall variation within the melody gives Cosmo more nuance than I would have expected from a dance track like this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Top Ten Best Songs by PENTAGON | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

  3. Pingback: Top Three K-Pop Songs of January 2019 | The Bias List // K-Pop Reviews & Discussion

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