With over 2,600 songs on my iPhone’s “K-Pop Singles” playlist, I thought it would be fun to add a bit of unpredictability to my song review posts. So as a result, we have the “Random Shuffle Review” feature.
The rules are simple. I fire up my playlist, press “shuffle,” and whatever song plays first gets the full Bias List treatment!
Year Released: 2012
Bigbang’s discography can often be divided into two parts. You’ve got their high-energy, hip-hop informed party tracks (Fantastic Baby, Bang Bang Bang, etc), and at the opposite end of the spectrum is a series of more downbeat, emotional mid-tempos (Bad Boy, Loser, etc.). For me, the group is at their most transcendent when they bring these two moods together. Though it may not be as well-known as other title tracks, Monster is the pinnacle of what this iconic group is capable of.
Opening with haunting piano, Monster is quickly joined by a spoken-word intro courtesy of deep-voiced rapper T.O.P. It’s a fittingly dramatic foreword to what will soon become an explosion of anthemic melody and cathartic production. Monster’s first verse begins with a steady beat, as G-Dragon and T.O.P trade lines in an ever ascending, tense arrangement. Vocalist Taeyang joins for a striking pre-chorus that culminates in one of K-pop’s most note-perfect hooks. Monster’s chorus manages to be at once rousing and melancholic, underlined by errant strings and a discordant strike of piano during the song’s climax.
I’m often critical of K-pop’s use of English, but Monster gets its point across to international listeners with simple, resonant phrases like “I love you, baby I’m not a monster” and “I think I’m sick.” It’s a convincing blend of cultures and influences, created at a time when YG Entertainment didn’t feel a constant need to put swag and style over good songwriting. Monster is the underappreciated magnum opus of one of K-pop’s most versatile groups, and still gives me chills to this day.
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