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K-Pop Double Take: How Big Bang Brought The Fire On Last Month's Comeback Single 'Bae Bae' [VIDEO]

By Carl Hamm | June 12, 2015 03:40 PM EDT


K-Pop Double Take is a weekly review column highlighting recent releases that have yet to receive the attention we feel they deserve.

There's no denying Big Bang has returned with a vengeance since May 1, when the singles "Bae Bae" and "Loser" were released in tandem. Since then the group has dropped two more songs, "Bang Bang Bang" and "We Like 2 Party."

"Bae Bae" is the second track on the "M" single from Big Bang's "MADE" album, a series of four installments of two new Big Bang singles (one for each letter of the album title) released on the first day of each month. Along with the two singles in the "A" single, "Loser" and "Bae Bae,"both topped K-pop charts around the world, but in this flurry of new material, it is easy to take for granted what a phenomenal song the latter one is.

While the title might suggest an innocent love song, "Bae Bae" is anything but.  

This Big Bang single is a twisted, schizophrenic ode to beauty that floats between being an X-rated trap song and a tender love ballad. It's a love song, but written from the perspective of a person driven insane by love and obsessed with controlling an idealized beauty.

Fans love Big Bang because they're unpredictable, from the many musical styles heard on their albums, to their endlessly changing fashion styles over the years.

Arranged by YG in-house producer Park "Teddy" Hong Jun and composed by Teddy, G-Dragon and T.O.P, "Bae Bae" is one of Big Bang's most quirky, and unsettling songs to date.

I've rarely heard a song go through so many abrupt changes, but they perfectly transmit the ups and downs of someone whose feelings and emotions have gotten way out of control.  

"Bae Bae" begins with an ascending electic guitar melody in a minor key and a powerful descending drum roll. But just when you're ready to dive into a cathartic, summertime rock ballad, the arrangement switches. What we hear next is a high pitched, unintelligible vocal sample, an epic piano arpeggio and an aggressive trap beat.

I can't tell if the hypnotic sample in the background is a Bollywood singer or a chipmunk, but it sure creates an undeniable sense of tweaked-out hysteria. 

G-Dragon's lyrics start "Bae Bae" off with a playful, deranged vibe.

"I'm in love," he sings, dropping with desparation. "I'm blind with love, bae bae."

GD's delivery is a combination of singing and rapping here. And the dubbed out echo effects on the words "yeah" and "right" (heard as responses to his lines) make them seem like devilish voices in your head, rather than words spoken out loud.

Halfway through G-Dragon's first verse, we hear the Korean word 네게, meaning "you," pronounced "nee ga,"  often a source of confusion for Westerners unfamiliar with the Korean language, for obvious reasons. Though, as often occurs in the US rap-fetishizing world of K-pop, the placement is so obvious here, you almost have to wonder if it was intentional. 

Then comes another startling change in mood.

Taeyang's chorus opens with a wide, sweeping guitar chord and suddenly the music is reassuring, beautiful, almost heavenly. Taeyang sounds like he could be the angel coming to rescue us from a love-dazed delirium (he does ride in on a horse in the video). But there's something odd about his lyrics too.

Selfishly, he commands his beloved beauty, "you have to stay just as you are right now."  

Again the trap beat returns and T.O.P starts his verse in a melodic rapping style similar to G-Dragon's, but his voice is much deeper in contrast. In the video, T.O.P is seen strutting through a nightmarish tunnel of awful, tacky paper flowers with multi-colored eyes, carelessly waving a cane around. Is he Dr. Jeckyl or Mr. Hyde? 

The way T.O.P says the word "princess" sounds more like a tease than a compliment and moments later in the video, he's squirting something through a syringe at his fair maiden. Is he attempting to preserve her beauty? All the while, that trap beat adds a dangerous edge to T.O.P's verses.

Then then music changes back to the ballad style again and it's Daesung's turn to sing the chorus, which he does beautifully. But he also repeats the unreasonable command to "stay beautiful, like you are right now." 

Soon "Bae Bae" morphs into an even more sparse musical arrangement for Seungri's verse, leaving only piano and lightly plucked guitar notes. It's unsettling, like the calm before a turbulent storm--or more like the ecstatic high of a manic episode.

Each of Seungri's increasingly halting words are like flower petals falling to the ground, as he offers a desperate excuse for his madness.

"I'm a man who's holding a flower called you, drunk with your scent," he sings. "Don't get plucked away please!"

By the end of the song, Big Bang have clearly lost it.

They start babbling about rice cakes and whooping madly over that insane beat.  The video shows them dancing in a circle, like school children, on the desolate surface of an unknown planet--arm in arm with the ladies they adore. As the camera zooms in on their blissed-out faces, the song ends abruptly, like being jolted awake from a sad, beautiful nightmare.

If "Bae Bae" is any measure of things to come, I'm going to lose my mind waiting for the next eight songs.

Watch the music video for Big Bang's "Bae Bae" RIGHT HERE

Carl Hamm is a DJ, radio host, film maker and self-described culture pusher. "Pop Yeh Yeh," Hamm's critically-heralded compilation of 1960s psychedelic rock from Singapore and Malaysia, was released in 2014. Hamm is currently working on a documentary film about '60s music in Singapore and Malaysia.

Tagged :  Big Bang, Bae Bae, K-Pop Double-Take


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