Friday 6 September 2013

G-Dragon "Coup D'État" Album Review

This review reflects personal opinions and not that of a professional!
Also, I won’t be reviewing all the tracks, but the ones that really drew my attention from this new album!
Personal rating: 4/5
The impression: This album is a little more personal than the one released last year, that’s for sure. Starting from the very title of the album, “Coup D’État”, the album is indeed some sort of ‘revolutionary’ movement. Personally, I haven’t seen k-pop groups/artists using French titles for their albums, title that would make a sense when put together with the whole concept of the album, that is, so its correct use and subtle reference definitely impressed me.
Also, I liked a lot the album cover because it’s like a return to simplicity. Somewhere in the ’60, the hippie movement brought the peace sign, the flowers and all the other things that they called ‘the revolution’. Now, I’m not saying G-Dragon is a hippie or anything like that, just that the covers of his album-in-two-parts reminded me of that movement. ‘Cause to some extend, he as well, as a public person and performer, composer and producer, is a revolution from what we visualize and expect when we hear the word ‘k-pop’.
Overall, the album is a back-and-forth swing between Kwon Ji Yong, the person no one knows apart from close friends/family and G-Dragon, the idol/performer/fashion icon/cool dude the fans fawn over like flies, thing that I like. Finally, someone is stepping out of the comfort zone.

The tracks:
01. ‘Coup D’État’This is definitely the beginning of G-Dragon’s ‘revolutionary movement’ if I can call it this way. The song itself is more of a self praise if we are to look at the lyrics and somehow doesn't really match the overly symbolized MV he released together with the first part of the album. But I won’t go there to analyze the MV frame by frame, ‘cause that has already been done, so no need of that now. I will though analyze the song a bit.
For a non-Korean, the song might have no meaning in some points as G-Dragon decided to use some references to Korean related facts (but thanks Lord, there’s Internet!): a commercial, a bug spray and a historical figure. Put together like this, they might not have any sense at all, but even so, they’re hints to the power and fame that seem to label G-Dragon: he’s like a commercial that everyone sees on TV, determining people to buy certain products, but at the same time he’s like a bug spray that ‘kills’ the small and powerless and in the end, he’s just as cool, popular and busy as Hong Gil Dong, the Korean version of Robin Hood.
But even if it sounds like a self praise, G-Dragon points out some things that come along with the fame or with the wish of being famous: a hectic life, a continuous attempt to reinvent oneself, the impossibility to be ‘ordinary’, being called names because of the shallowness that is perceived from the outside.
I believe G-Dragon is inviting people to see the revolution as in to see that there is more to an artist than we see on television.

03. ‘R.O.D (ft. Lydia Paek)’‘Ride Or Die’ is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful love confession I ever listened to. Why? Because G-Dragon isn't G-Dragon in this song, but Kwon Ji Yong, the person that is true to his heart and does not fear to show the world that he is in love, that he is after all, just a man like so many others.
This is the first movement of the pendulum motion I was talking before starting the review.
As a confession, it’s one to die for. To listen to it and cry. To listen to it and smile. To listen to it and see the the summer sun and a red convertible Jeep on a beach. To listen to it and sense the man that Kwon Ji Yong is underneath the swag. To listen to it and regret the pressure he is put under.
As a song, it’s a fresh track, with summer-ish echoes. I really like the electric/ dub-step sounds thrown in the song, as well as the choir-like voices that can be heard during the chorus. Also, I think Lydia Paek was a great choice as the girl’s voice. She’s definitely making the cut, matching his rap-confession with her feminine vocals. It’s definitely a plus for the song, making it more memorable!
Now, a personal note: I don’t know what’s going on in Kwon Ji Yong’s life (I don’t really want to know, either) and I definitely don’t want to go presuming that he’s in love or he recently broke up with or that he can’t be with the one he loves because of the media that would crazily follow him around, but this track made me want to fall in love or witness a love like the character he has in the song feels. So, I’m thankful to Ji Yong that composed and produced this track and to G-Dragon that sang this J

04. ‘Black (Ft. Jennie Kim)’Even if she will never make a debut, Jennie Kim will be a killer though the featuring songs she has with G-Dragon. I really, really like her voice. It’s incredibly well balanced and gives a nice vibe to the song. She sounds a little less cold than Lee Hi, but has the same laziness lingering in her tonality, thing that I totally like.
Listening to ‘Black’ right after ‘R.O.D’ is like pouring icy cold water on the body after sitting in the sun for an hour or so. It’s making you sulk with it’s beautiful melodramatic sound and even if you don’t get the meaning of the lyrics, you still get the sorrowful message behind them.
Here, the pendulum swings between G-Dragon and Kwon Ji Yong. Maybe it’s Ji Yong looking at the things G-Dragon loses because of being who he is? I perceive this like a mirrored conversation between the man he is and the persona he uses on stage.
I like the simplicity of the instrumental used. It’s completing the gloomy atmosphere of the song and matches the cool rap of GD.
The song itself is like a autumnal rainy day.

05. ‘Who You?’And we’re back to Kwon Ji Yong! The man he is is back in the picture, leaving behind the performer and talking from the bottom of his heart once again.
I have to say that I loved the track from the very moment it started playing in my handsets. The beat, the piano, the mild electric guitar, the battery, the playfulness of his voice, the way he sings, the cute rap, the English, everything is just a mixture of lively and warm hearted feelings I never felt before in GD’s classic tracks or even in Big Bang’s hits.
This track reveals the playful part of Ji Yong and finally, a break-up song ain't so melo and sad, put more of a fun type of story, a story he tells while admitting he wants his girl back. Just, awww!
It’s impossible not to smile while listening to this song or letting your imagination run wild and picture him either in Boston, San Francisco or Seattle. It makes you forget that he who sings is a man of people, of huge crowds that chant with him, that clap their hands. Instead you see this neighbor look-like boy who chases after the girl he regrets losing with a whole street performers following him around. Crazy, huh?

06. ‘Shake the World’Definitely an interesting way of opening the second part of the album. Broadly, the song it’s some kind of continuation for ‘Coup D’État’ since G-Dragon is back taking all about his swag and originality. Again, talking about GD’s record as an artist/composer/performer, the way his rap is back in the charts, making them shake anyone from the first positions and placing himself there.
I think this is the real intro of the whole album, if we were to look at all the tracks of the album-in-two-parts. He’s announcing his comeback proudly, talking about his music, his fans, the way he was prepared for this ‘since he was born’.
What I like is the reference to ‘Arirang’ the Korean folk song we can hear in two verses, the way he admits that k-pop’s roots are found in those type of songs and have evolved according to the times we live in.
As a side note, I think GD hates questions related to producing and composing. It’s just a feeling I got after reading the lyrics: “This isn't musical education, but they ask questions to get answers they want to hear”. Oh, and this is the second time I hear this: “Music is just music” in two months. He and Junhyung of Beast have included it both in the intros to their albums. Interesting, don’t you think?

08. ‘Crooked’The title doesn't go for the literal sense of the word ‘crooked’ but for the slang one, meaning ‘dishonest’. But despite being entitled ‘dishonest’, the song does nothing but speaking the truth from the beginning to the very end of it.
I didn't expect it to like it, but I do like it. It’s just like ‘Black’: we find both pieces of GD and Kwon Ji Yong in the lyrics. It’s more of GD in the MV, but I think it’s Ji Yong’s voice that speaks up, get what I mean? I swear this sounds better in my head!
The song is as crazy as the lyrics – I like it! I like the fun and funky feeling, the feeling of being forwarded from one part of the song to other while we move in slow-motion. His voice is really nice and the rap makes it even more interesting for the ears to hear.
In talks of love, I have to say this, this man is a loser! He gets the girl in just two tracks from twelve. I mean, c’mon man, you can do better, right?
Anyway, the song speaks the truth – “Nothing ever lasts forever”. Not even love, as he discovered. Apparently, the girl he lost was scared of his GD face, the cool part of him, the popularity of his name and face. But as much as the break-up hurt him, he’s not the childish guy from ‘Who You?’, so he understands the situation pretty well. Nice!
One thing I really, really like about the MV: it shows the mess and craziness in his head, the pain that makes him go round and round, picking fights where there’s none. Way to go!

10. ‘Runaway’This song is soooo having two meanings! The pendulum is stuck in the middle so we have both GD and Ji Yong here. Interesting!
But, let’s talk about the song in general for a bit. It’s definitely a never heard mixture of sounds, instruments and vocals. Again, I have to admit just how much I like it! I like that although it’s rapping most of the time, he makes it so that at the end of the verse, you forget that it’s supposed to be rap as it sounds more like the main vocalist. Another thing I like about this song: I get to hear GD’s high notes I never heard before. I wonder where he hid them till now… Oh, and there’s this electric guitar part that it’s totally making you fall for the song and want to put it on repeat. Genius! And the ‘Yahoo-hoo-hoo’ parts – to die for! J
So, going for the lyrics now, there’s two possibilities I see here:
  1. The lyrics are meant for his fans, for those who say that scream their love confession to him during concerts and events. If it’s this one, then their love is making him uncomfortable. And it’s not that he hates those fans, he actually confesses that he misses them sometimes (thus the combination between GD and Ji Yong), but he feels better without them around. It’s like a way to tell them that they should back off a little…
  2. The lyrics are meant for a girl. Like, duh! Here, GD leaves and we can hear Ji Yong once again. A spin-off for ‘Who You?’? Possible. Anyway, this man is incredibly bitchy in this song, as he practically behaves like the male version of a chick with obsessive-compulsive admirers stalking her.
Absolutely love the song and the fact that as he begs through all the song for a way to escape, at the end we can really him escape in that ‘fast car with fast wings’ J

11. ‘I Love It (ft. Zion T & Boys Noize)’This song is so… so… sooo… how to call it? It highlights the perverted mind of a man, you know? The way they check out chicks and all? Of course, this one is really cool and fancy, in a non-pornographic way, but still perverted. What can I say? It totally won me over!
I love the beat, the instrumental, the lyrics, the vocals, the rap, everything! And what I like the most about it it’s the way it takes me back in the ’90 with the vocals of Zion.T and the rhythm. I don’t know what Boys Noize did, maybe they took part in the producing part, but Zion.T definitely makes himself noticed during the chorus.
Oh, I take back what I said before: GD doesn't get the girl now. He’s just wishing for it, while watching the girl from a distance. It’s pitifully cute if it were to think he’s watching from afar. But even so, it’s a nice song to listen to. It doesn't make you want to dance around like ‘R.O.D’, ‘Who You?’ or ‘Crooked’, but even so, I still shook some parts of my body while writing this review and listening to the track J

Overall: The album is totally enjoyable and definitely more accessible than “One Of a Kind” as sounds and lyrics, feelings and rhythms. It’s one of those albums made to be performed live, that makes it accessible both for the artist and the public.
I like it since it’s both an evolution and a revolution of G-Dragon as both person and artist. He brought new sounds and feelings in the public attention through this album and he definitely delineates Kwon Ji Yong from G-Dragon and that’s really admirable of him, you know?
But even if I liked it, you probably saw that this album didn't manage to score perfect 5 stars from me. The reason why I deducted a full point is that, although GD really evolved a composer and artist through “Coup D’État”, he went too much on Western sounds. Some tracks from this album sound way too much like American pop, the only difference being the language and personal involvement of GD in the making of the album. I really don’t want him to sound like the American artists since that would mean him losing the colours I like and transforming k-pop into something that it’s not. Really, if I wanted to listen to American pop, I would have listened to Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga and the other famous artists from the US. G-Dragon has his own unique colours and he doesn't need to go Western in order to gain more fans/keep his fans/earn money. For example, although they rocked the stage together and the fans really seemed to enjoy the performance, I pretty much dislike the track featuring Miss Eliot, “Naliria”. Just… not my cup of tea since the rap was no longer the Korean one, but the American one translated into Korean, if you get what I mean.
So, as much as I hate to say this, the ‘westernizing’ of his album made me deduct the point L

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