Review

Song Review: Pentagon – Dr. BeBe

Friends, we have entered a parallel universe where every K-pop boy group just releases the same song over and over. After a 2019 that saw some brighter fare make inroads to this internationally-focused industry, the first few weeks of 2020 have reveled in the dark and angsty. Despite my continuous complaining about this style, I don’t actually hate “dark” tracks as a rule. The problem is, this era’s “dark” seems to have no place for melody or momentum.

Pentagon’s Dr. BeBe (Dr. 베베) is yet another plodding exercise in style over songwriting substance. It announces itself with an exciting intro, but quickly grows more generic from there. For a brief moment, it feels as if we’re in for a “We Will Rock You” style anthem, but the stomping percussion quickly makes way for the same trap/EDM death knell that groups have been peddling for years. Honestly, I can’t remember a time when a musical trend this joyless has stuck around for so long. It feels like we’ll never be free of its influence, and that’s incredibly depressing.

Like so many tracks of this style, Dr. BeBe doesn’t have much in the way of melody to fall back on. The song consists of shouting and blustering, fused to either a rap or vocal performance depending on the moment. Unlike past title tracks composed by leader Hui, Dr. BeBe is largely hookless. Its verses squander the potential spawned by their slick bassline, failing to form any memorable structure. Similar to The Boyz’ recent comeback, they’re more about posturing and performance than actual songcraft.

Dr. BeBe’s moody pre-chorus could have been lifted directly from dozens of songs released the past few months. The chorus is equally faceless, taking a tired melody and trying to give it a towering, EXO-like arrangement. But all the production magic in the world can’t compensate for a lifeless, chantlike refrain. Symphonic elements swell in the background of the song’s climax, thrown in for texture but drowned out by the oh-so-serious emoting over the top. There’s nothing here that I can’t get from literally any other boy group. At what point do K-pop fans get tired of hearing the same aural hissy fit over and over again? I’m ready to flip a damn table!

 Hooks 6
 Production 7
 Longevity 7
 Bias 7
 RATING 6.75

Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!

19 thoughts on “Song Review: Pentagon – Dr. BeBe

  1. I’m a huge universe and I can say they’ve never let me down so much as they did with this comeback. Going “sexy” was never a good idea, not for them. They’re the dorky frog guys who occasionally make dark but upbeat songs, not…this. I want them to have their first win, but I’m not sure this song deserves one. Hui really let me down.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 6.75 is too high for this song. I like some part like the falsetto in the bridge but, overall…..it’s not worth given much thought about.

    The mv kinda reminds me of cross gene’s “play with me” so i guess i’ll just listen to that?

    Like

  3. I think you need to just stop reviewing Korean pop music like you can’t find joy in even the better productions unless they sound awfully dated and it’s “incredibly depressing” that people look to you for any sort of musical knowledge when you can only repeat the term “hissy fit” over and over. These groups work hard and you’re unkempt to review them just as the multitude of teenagers on stan Twitter are. I used to frequent this page often because you had worthy advice to give and now everything feels too closely paid attention to, like you’re this king on a throne who absolutely nobody can appease. You gave Rocket Punch’s comeback an 8.5 while insulting them throughout. Dude, they have a 14 year old in the group, chill a little. Point in case, you’re going overly harsh on these groups because not everything is a masterpiece, and thus you’re getting less and less traction. You only miss sounds/trends of certain groups when they disappear. Let’s hang it up, the majority of music reviewers on the Internet don’t have nearly as much of a joykill personality as you do.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 1) Are you doing all right there mate?

      2) Most of the time, the critique is aimed at the producers, song writers and agencies, and not just the performing young men and women themselves. Because kpop is a highly packaged music product, the former have most of the responsibility for crafting the product. (That leaves the performers unfortunately to have to shoulder the accountability for the product, which is unfair.) I also do not understand why there is such a strong trend for this sound for boy groups the past few months, but by the nth time it is a choice that the agencies need to stop making because the sound is oversaturated. I grew up in the 80’s. By 1987-88, there were way too many hair bands in tight leather pants doing a power ballad with killer guitar solo and hot chick on a Ferrari. By 1989-90 they were off contract, as new sounds that did not include their style arose.

      3) Its his own blog, Nick calls it as he hears it. It doesn’t matter if the song and group is the biggest or smallest (Dongkiz, anyone? Yes, please!), or if the last song was a bop or flop. Most of the regulars here would rather read this blog than the dozens of other sites where “News” is “So-and-so looked great at the airport and got retweeted so many thousand times”. I loved Pentagon “Cosmo” from last year so much, I put in my top 10 kpop for the year (even though it is in Japanese). This song, not so much.

      Liked by 5 people

    • Unkempt? Now, now, now… I pride myself on being perfectly coifed, thank you very much.

      But on a serious note, I’m sorry you feel this way, especially since it sounds like you used to enjoy this site more in the past. What can I say? All I try to do is be honest in the way I feel. Sometimes we hit these slumps when it seems like every new release is peddling the same sound. My writing naturally mirrors the repetition I find in the music. It happened last summer, and it’s happening again these first few months of 2020. And yep, it makes me grumpy. But, it’ll pass. It always does.

      Though I do like the image of me as a king on a throne, I think you’re being a tad overdramatic. I’m not all that hard to appease. GFriend did it in a big way just last week. ATEEZ did it last month. Rocket Punch sort of did it a couple days ago, though it’s true I had issues with the vocals on the track. If my writing strikes you as too grumpy, feel free to use the tag cloud on the righthand sidebar. I always tag reviews with their rating, so you can easily filter out just the songs I gave a “9” or “8” or whatever you’d like to see. Might make the reading experience more positive for you?

      Liked by 4 people

  4. This comes off a bit harsh for me. It is definitely generic at this point in time but had this come out at the beginning of the trend it’d probably score an 8 or a bit lower. I don’t disagree with what you said, I just feel like the song isn’t bad enough to get a 6 at least for the standards of your other reviews. I think the song is enjoyable and going with your scoreboard on the side, the 6.75 doesn’t feel wrong but in comparison to your other reviews it seems, like I said, a bit harsh.
    I’m even surprised that the cringe inducing Cherry Bullet song scored higher than this. That song is cringe from the lyrics and delivery to the sample. Cringe isn’t new to kpop but that Cherry Bullet song hit me way harder than usual…

    Like

    • I’d agree with this if there was any semblance of melody here. I actually don’t mind the production, generic as it is. I just find the whole thing to be oddly hookless.

      As a comparison, Seventeen’s Fear went for a similar vibe as this song. I didn’t love that track either, but it scored higher because it had a tighter and more impactful hook imo.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Idk, this suddenly dark and broody concept seems out of left field for Pentagon. I instantly had no appeal for the song about 30 seconds in. And Hui’s “Gra ta ta” had me laugh out loud with how sudden and bizarre it was.

    Bizarre and sudden actually seems like a good way to describe the whole release, actually. I think Cube was going for a sexy Jekyll and Hyde thing, like “Pentagon can be your cutie boys, but also your angsty bad boys.” Instead, the styling just reads as neither the members or outfit coordis got enough sleep.

    Another thing that rubs me the wrong way is the “Love, fall, hurt, crazy, again and again,” lyric. Maybe I’m just in a rough period in life, but I’m sick of pop songs equating love with pain and being emotionally torn up. Now, Pentagon are far from being the first or worst offenders, but I just wanted to get my two cents in.

    The only good thing to come out of this comeback is Wooseok’s pink hair. Gosh, I love the grungy look of dark roots much more than I should.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hopping on the ATEEZ bandwagon? With BTS headed towards more pop-oriented fare, EXO enlisting left and right, and many of the “darker” boy groups disbanding or sort of aging out of the industry, I’m not surprised to see more groups trying to fill this void, especially ones that have been taking spaghetti shots and hoping something sticks. But the groups that have done this well, like ATEEZ and Stray Kids, have balanced their tracks with solid melody and complex structures and instrumentals. Too often now, it seems like K-Pop tracks are becoming increasingly reliant on their music videos and performances. The music is taking a backseat to the visual medium (and in some cases, a groups’ mythos as well), but a song first and foremost needs to stand on its own, especially if it’s going to have hope of longevity or acceptance from non-idol fans… but a song standing on its own shouldn’t even need a caveat. That should be the most fundamental thing of all.

    Liked by 2 people

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