Review

Song Review: Purplebeck – Crystal Ball

In a year already flush with debuts, it’s going to be hard for smaller agency acts to stand out. In Purplebeck’s case, at least their name is easy to google! I’m not sure what a ‘purplebeck’ is, but I’ve long since given up trying to understand K-pop monikers. They all become part of the common lexicon with enough time. What I do know is that this five-member group hails from Majesty Entertainment, an agency with only soloists to its name thus far. Crystal Ball isn’t different enough to instantly set them apart from the crowd, but it does have its charms.

Composed by duo Coach & Sendo (who don’t produce nearly enough K-pop material), Crystal Ball opens with a punch. Percussive guitar segues into a handclap-and-harmony blast of pop bliss. The song’s verses are also fun, offering a simple, sing-song hook that gets things off on the right track. Unfortunately, a jarring pre-chorus makes for an odd fit. The key raises sharply, with an unpleasantly shrill bit of mixing that should have been toned down. This is a brief stumble, but upends much of the goodwill the song had been building.

Crystal Ball’s chorus is better, delivering a quirky melody over a strong percussive stomp. There’s more than a little bit of Red Velvet experimentalism at play here, though it’s nowhere near as polished as what an agency like SM could pull off. Still, I enjoy the rollicking rhythm that anchors most of Crystal Ball. The girls’ performance never succumbs to hyper-aegyo stereotypes, which could have been an easy temptation for a song like this. With stiff competition, time will tell if Purplebeck will be a rookie to watch. For now, they’ve left a decent impression — with some kinks to work out as their discography grows.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.75

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9 thoughts on “Song Review: Purplebeck – Crystal Ball

  1. It’s a pretty good debut. Nothing super special, but a solid start.

    The whole song should be taken down a note or three in key, because that shrillness in the chorus is a killer. Barely hanging on to those notes. Fortunately for them, there are backing tracks for performances, because I can’t see them hitting those notes live.

    I can hear the Red Velvet summer songs influence in this. SM would polish this one to the hilt. Actually the best singer for this song, at its current key, would be Luna, or the Oh My Girl vocal line.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I took one for the team. The high notes in the chorus are a G. So I listened to compilations of idols screaming out So Chanwhee “Tears” which is also high note of G. (although So Chanwhee herself is actually sharp and sings it as G#.)
      The question is: who could possibly, plausibly sing that that high chorus live reasonably well:
      Put a question mark by the Oh my girl vocal line
      Add Ailee, of course
      Add Kim Jung Kook – yes, the man whose voice does not match the body. He does remarkably well on “Tears” with that strange baby voice of his.
      And Sohyang, though to her credit she has not attempted “Tears” publicly to my simple keyword search knowledge

      (I do realize that “Tears” proxy is a bit like evaluating how good one’s High German is by listening to karaoke covers of “Rock Me Amadeus”) (which is by an Austrian, in a fancy wig, posing his way through a staccato rap))

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can think of a couple of artists that could ride that upper scale comfortably {cough, IU, cough}. Here’s a video of some of K’s best belters (not on topic, specifically, but still fun):

        or, and back on topic:

        Like

        • Most of those high notes are D5’s and E5’s, and some of them are very lovely D’s and E’s. IU’s Three High Notes are E5 F5 F#5, and, ahem. Sejeong hits G5 and above, but in a (very lovely) breathy head voice not full loud mixed voice for a chorus.

          OK the short list who could sing the high chorus up to G5 live reasonably well is:
          Son Seung Yeon (of course) (Madame King Masked singer)
          Yeonji
          Ailee
          Kim Jung Kook
          Luna
          Sister Akmu
          Sohyang

          Like

    • Third comment to my own comment:
      On the first music show performance by Purplebeck, no one does the high G but they all seem to sing along to the chorus an octave lower at simple G above middle C with the high vocal backing track.

      Like

  2. As this is their debut, I can extend a generous dollop of “yeah, but” all over this. I agree with the RV’ish / pre-chorus squee assessment. Everything you critiqued “Crystal Ball” for can almost equally apply to the other song on this release “Play Day”; which is good but also needs restraint and polish. However, I absolutely love the lavish “Outro” track from this mini-album which gave me a bit of a Ryuichi Sakamoto vibe. Reference:

    Like

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