I mentioned a while back that B.A.P was making another comeback before kicking off their world tour, and it was released early this month: a three-song single album featuring title track WAKE ME UP, DYSTOPIA, and DIAMOND 4 YA.
ROSE is distinct from their previous singles by having all three songs be in completely different styles – rock for DYSTOPIA, their signature hard-hitting hip hop made melodic with WAKE ME UP, and the NOIR-esque DIAMOND 4 YA. I don’t think any of their previous single releases were this diverse in the tracklist, so it was somewhat a surprise when I listened to the album for the first time – especially considering it was 8am in the morning and I was listening to it discreetly in class during a three-hour lecture.
The first song in the album, DYSTOPIA, was what really caught me off guard, with its 2000s heavy rock sound reminiscent of early era Linkin Park; almost like Bang X2 2.0, even. Definitely did not feel like an idol song. I would’ve mistaken them for a rock band if I didn’t know better. It’s structured as a traditional rock song with scratching elements, which is unusual for a K-pop group, and you can tell they’re not used to the genre by how some of the high notes are definitely out of place. Honestly speaking, it’s a novel offering by B.A.P and it’s outstanding precisely because it’s by a K-pop group, but for a rock song, it’s nothing special. Rather generic, even. Nothing about it particularly stands out, but it’s an alright song that could definitely work as an anime opening theme. That’s just the vibe I get from it.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t even seen the MV. I tend to not watch any of their MVs anymore given how overdramatic their more serious MVs can be – I still can’t watch SKYDIVE without cringing, and people were raving about how awesome that MV was! – so I can’t say much about it, but aurally WAKE ME UP is a somewhat catchy and cohesive effort marred by haywire rap in both the first and second rap verses. There was something off with the pacing and length of the rap verses in relation to the rest of the song that made them feel a little jarring to listen to, which is a shame because other than that WAKE ME UP is actually a good song. It’s redeemed somewhat by the bridge rap and a repetition in the chorus that works well thanks to the vocal line, and Bang Yongguk’s using his 4:44am voice in his verse, which is always a plus. It’s good to have him back. Overall, WAKE ME UP highlights the vocal line’s strengths and while the rap could have been more finely tuned, it’s a quality effort for a title track.
The final song, DIAMOND 4 YA, is a haunting jazzy track that carries on from their previous full-length album, NOIR. The rap verse here is better than in WAKE ME UP, although Bang Yongguk’s not using his 4:44am voice anymore, and there’s a definite improvement in Zelo’s verse compared to WAKE ME UP. Structurally, it seems to ride on the same emotional hype as the title track, building up to a climax by the final chorus. There’s an air of fragile ethereality (or ethereal fragility) with the high notes and chimes amidst the blaring brass and steady bass, which gives the song its unique edge. Daehyun once mentioned that the group had a hard time picking between WAKE ME UP and DIAMOND 4 YA for their title track, which is fair because both of them are equally on par with each other – DIAMOND 4 YA is more cohesive overall, while WAKE ME UP is the kind of catchy, classic B.A.P the fans would definitely love.
Either way, ROSE is a promising release hampered down by what I suspect to be rushed production and not enough quality control. I think TS Entertainment was pushing for the album to be released on time before the world tour, and hence the quality suffered greatly. Given more time, I’m sure they could have polished the songs more. As it is, I will forever curse TS Entertainment for their shitty management and mourn for what could have been a truly outstanding single album.
The following aren’t necessarily reviews per se so you’re welcome to click away to another post if my being angry about how TS Entertainment isn’t treating B.A.P right isn’t your kind of thing.
These last two releases seem to be bad omens for B.A.P: with NOIR, Bang Yongguk had to sit out from promotions because of a panic disorder, and with ROSE, Himchan had to sit out from promotions because he’d cracked a rib. Himchan cracked a rib. That’s not normal. TS Entertainment stated that he’d cracked his rib from stress due to the strain from the practice in preparation for their comeback and also sudden weight loss, which by the way, is also not fucking normal. Losing weight so suddenly to the point of cracking a rib? There’s a fucking limit to how much idols have to starve themselves to look good for their fans, and it’s the job of the fucking management to make sure they don’t push themselves too far!
Also, who in their fucking right mind would have their idols perform on comeback stages two weeks before embarking on a fucking world tour? Especially when they just came back from a Japan tour before that? It’s fucking insane!
And a while back there were also reports that TS Entertainment wasn’t fucking paying their staff, citing money problems as an excuse for late payments and not compensating overtime work. How fucking shitty can you get? First they work B.A.P to the bone to the point where the group actually had to go for a fucking lawsuit, and then when the dust settled they ruined B.A.P by shitty promotions and working them to the bone again – to the point where Bang Yongguk and Himchan both can’t perform because of medical issues – and now they’re not even paying their staff? Whoever’s in charge of TS Entertainment is a piece of shit and I hope they rot in hell.
B.A.P had so much fucking potential. So much.
I’m just legitimately upset by this. They deserve so much, all the members have so much potential and now it’s all gone to waste because their fucking company couldn’t get their fucking act together. That part where one commenter said they should’ve been on the same level as BTS now? It’s true. That’s how much fucking potential they had. I’ve been with them since they debuted. They were well on their way to the top, they were head to head with EXO, they could be head to head with BTS now, but then the lawsuit/hiatus happened and they might as well have disappeared off the face of the earth. I’ll say it as many times as I have to, anybody who thinks the lawsuit didn’t hurt B.A.P can eat dirt. I’ll drag them through the mud with my own hands. The hiatus ruined B.A.P. It ruined all they could have been.
And maybe I would’ve been disappointed if B.A.P eventually ended up having to disband. It would be preferable for them to go the Highlight route and split from TS Entertainment to do their own thing, but that takes a lot of money and with Bang Yongguk and Himchan nearing the age for enlistment, it’s not viable. Maybe I would’ve been disappointed if the worst came to pass, but I’d be okay because at least they’d be alright and they’d be free to pursue other avenues, but we’re now at a point where not only the members’ careers are in jeopardy, but also their goddamn health. Granted, the idol business isn’t exactly the most forgiving industry, but there’s something to be said when two subsequent comebacks result in serious health issues for the members. Bang Yongguk couldn’t perform on stage due to anxiety. That Yongguk, who’s been performing longer than he’s been a member of B.A.P. Himchan has a cracked rib from sudden weight loss and stress from strenuous practice. Himchan, who’s constantly told that he’s too fat and needs to lose weight, and does so by simply not eating altogether. How is this okay? How is any of this okay?
At this point it’s like TS Entertainment doesn’t even care if the members suddenly drop dead on stage from the stress as long as they’re still doing the world tour and making them money.
Honestly. Fuck TS Entertainment.