“It’s quite good, very good, but there’s no way to express how it’s good.” This popular phrase from a commercial was what came to mind after hearing title track “TONIGHT” from Big Bang’s new album. It is a dance song but is sad rather than exciting. And it does not start off with a melody that will hook the listener to the song. It is also not a song that a boy band can put on an impressive dance to as a group nor can they set forth a particular image with it such as charismatic or cute. The easiest way to put it would be to say it is similar to “Lie” in terms of the emotion but “TONIGHT” starts off differently from “Lie” as well. Korea’s most popular boy band has returned to the K-pop scene for the first time in two years but “TONIGHT” strays from the recent popular styles of music and rather seems to try to present a new trend by bringing together elements that listeners are unfamiliar with.
A certain vibe that leads to addiction
For years now, it has been the trend of the K-pop industry to produce songs that from the very start, will pierce the public’s ears with short, precise and strong sounds. Dance numbers have become hits with strong beats or melodies and ballads have raised the level of ardentness they exude, sounding as if the singer is singing into the listener’s ears. But Big Bang goes in a completely different direction. “TONIGHT” starts off to a seemingly casually tossed in quiet and recurrent electronica sound which makes it difficult to predict how the song will unfold. The sound of an acoustic guitar, the members’ rap and vocals and the chorus all need to emerge to reveal the form the song will take. It is also a dance song but it gradually builds up on the emotions it sings of, as if it were a ballad song. Hence “TONIGHT” is most exciting where the tempo is at its fastest in the latter half of the song but it is also when those slowly built up emotions reach the saddest point.
However, the moment you need to focus on in “TONIGHT” comes after the climax. After creating a moment which literally ‘explodes,’ the quiet sound of the acoustic guitar reappears as if starting everything over where everything is in ruins, slowly pulling up the flow of the song back up. It is not happiness or sadness that is expressed through “TONIGHT.” The vibe that is created when such emotions are constantly on the rise, from the most poised to excited state, is what makes one listen to the song. Just as if tears you were holding back on slowly started to flow to and they have reached the point where you are about to burst into tears. Listen to the beginning of “TONIGHT” again after listening to it from start to finish. Because with just that, you will find yourself looking forward to the mood and dramatic developments the song will make. “TONIGHT” is similar to “Lie” in that it uses electronica beat, a plaintive sound and repetitive chorus. But while the piano or chorus stood out first in “Lie,” the selling point to “TONIGHT” lies in the overall quality and atmosphere of its sound. Big Bang has found a new style they can work with within the characteristics they hold.
Big Bang, the group which encompasses both popular appeal and trend
Just like musicians like Drake showed last year, such music is one of the trends existent in today’s global pop music scene. In that sense, “TONIGHT” and other songs that are listed in this album contain a sensitivity which is in synchronization with the word ‘pop.’ But the reason you need to focus on Big Bang’s new album is not because it introduces local listeners to a new trend from overseas. What is important is not how they deliver their music but that they perfected their identity and style as Big Bang within that trend. The melody which acts as the bridge in “TONIGHT,” before reaching the climax, was sung by Taeyang. He sings it strictly in line with the flow of the song — peacefully and effortlessly — different from how he sang in his solo album. But his unique tone exists in “TONIGHT” as well and the tone in itself, having a strong impact on the song, is enough to make the song become focused. It is the same with the other members. G-Dragon and T.O.P’s rap are unquestionably different and the song evidently develops differently when it switches over from T.O.P to Daesung or Seungri’s parts. The song as a whole heads toward a single vibe but each member has interpreted it in their own way to make each part memorable. Hence while the itself song presents listeners with a new trend through its uniform mood, each member of Big Bang is responsible for the song’s popular appeal.
This is where Big Bang’s style becomes complete as a group. Electronica-based “TONIGHT” is completely different from “WHAT IS RIGHT” filled with rock sounds. But with both songs, the more the seemingly dynamic chorus is repeated, the more they sound melancholy. The vibe the chorus gives off changes depending on the mood that each member creates in their parts. So whatever the genre, Big Bang’s songs develop in a variety of ways depending on the chorus while an exciting introduction and melancholy latter half co-exist in the process. Big Bang’s music is about how its members constantly create impactful moments while the song undergoes such emotional changes. This is why this album’s composer and producer G-Dragon has managed to create an album that is different from his solo album or “GD&TOP.”
Big Bang has used its capability to create a style that is unique of them and based on that style, has found a point where they can secure both public appeal and a new trend. That is probably the reason Big Bang can stay Big Bang. Their songs contain new trends but appeal to the public and may contain rock, electronica, R&B and rap but head in a single direction. Like “Lie” proves, Big Bang’s era came when they pulled off all of these elements. The same goes for this album. Of course, nobody knows what the response will be to their new album. Especially more so with a song that strays from recent trends of the music scene. But without doubt, “TONIGHT” is a choice with the possibility of playing the role that “Lie” did for Big Bang. This major group with public appeal has made a move which takes them ahead of the times. Big Bang has done the best music they can for a popular idol group, a group making a comeback for the first time in two years, an idol group whose each members have become stars. perfect song is perfect