I've really tried. I've listened, I've considered and I've listened again, but I just can't seem to square K-Pop in my mind. I understand the need to further different cultural pop music in the world, and Korea's desire to bring their brand of music to the world, but I just can't buy in. I think a lot of people agree (maybe even more disagree) that a music this calculated inherently has a lot of issues. Music is supposed to be about freedom and expression, not a celebration of corporatized marketing. Don't get it twisted, that is exactly what these massive Korean groups are, a marketing scheme. BLACKPINK and BTS both were curated and put together for one thing, world domination. Their music is calculated to degree that would make even *Nsync and the Backstreet Boys shudder. There is nothing they won't borrow and no genre they won't attempt in the search for stardom. It's evident at times, but other times you get lost in the catchiness of it all. "Boy With Luv" featuring Halsey is a nice enough bop and may even get your body moving. That is  the weird thing of it all, can you truly like something that at it's heart was only made for maximum exposure? It's a difficult answer because it's both yes and no. Sure you can enjoy the beats, the singing, hell even the songs as a whole, but the roll out and the marketing are what pulls you out of it. Also, the rapping is fucking awful, but every boy band that's ever attempted it falls flat on their face.

I don't want to get this twisted, I am a massive pop fan. I am even a fan of pop styles that people absolutely hate. I love how pop connects people and builds bridges between genre's and people. This record and BTS do that too, and at least this is not as long as their ridiculously over bloated last release. This album unlike BLACKPINK's last also doesn't look back to formerly popular styles for it;s inspiration, instead it is always looking forward. You can almost find yourself falling into their world at times, surrounded by neon lights and thundering bass. "Dionysus" is actually a pretty unique and fun track until the rapping comes in and makes you shake your damn head. I know in a review setting it's a little disengenous to say "I just don't like it" but that is where I always end up. I don't like pandering, I don't like schemes and I don't like people manipulating art so it is the most marketable and can make the most money. It leaves albums feeling icky and like a scam. But then again, maybe it claps, who knows.

6.6 out of 10


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