DBSK/HoMin - "Catch Me"

Album number two from Twoshinki is here, and everyone's having a field day, me included. There's just so much to talk about, and so much brilliance to spread. Also, what an apt album for my "big comeback". (Best 18th birthday gift ever. EVER.)

There are so many reasons why DBSK is still my favorite group, and this is the part of the year when I'm reminded of all of them. Everything I complain about with other acts, everything I look for in a new group -- they're all patterned after what DBSK have, and what they've done.

The consensus among the people I've talked to, and read, ever since "Keep Your Head Down" came out, all the way up to just now when the album came out, is that Yunho and Changmin have carved their own sound, independent to the previous, five-piece, DBSK. Now whether people think that's a good thing or a bad thing, I have to partially disagree. On the outside, it may seem like that -- Yunho and Changmin have really traded the epic, tear-jerking, ballads, demanding SMP singles and a capella re-arrangements in favor of trendy beats, slick R&B-inspired jams, and quaint midtempos.

But is that really all DBSK was before the split? You cannot just pit "Catch Me" and "Mirotic" against each other, because not only have things changed within the group, the industry, and the standards have all changed. Every now and then we all have to remember that "Mirotic" was four years ago, and the distance between then and now is like the distance between "Mirotic" and "Hug" -- things, beyond our control, have happened.

A true identity is something that transcends -- transcends time, change, and everything in between. Moving forward means trying new things, yes, but it also means being sure of who you are and what you do. Beyond the international success, beyond the "Love In The Ice"'s and "Rising Sun"'s and the leap to "Keep Your Head Down"'s and "STILL"'s, DBSK was a group with talent that really did blow away all the competition. That's what DBSK were pushed as, and that's who they were. It was that kind of talent that made them such a versatile group, that sold them to a skeptical public, it was that talent that got them respect in Japan, and it still is that talent that keeps them right where they are, no matter how many they are.

That talent has never left, and "Catch Me", as a whole, is solid proof of that. I've been saying this a lot this year, but this is truly the formula done right -- DBSK are the epitome that statement, and they've always been. I can’t stress that point enough, which is why it will keep coming up throughout the review.

Conviction is another word I throw around a lot, and it's something Yunho and Changmin have bucketfuls of. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but DBSK are right smack in the middle of it, with overflowing confidence, not overflowing arrogance. Delivery is so, so, important, especially in pop music where all the songs basically sound like each other -- it's the one thing that makes an act stand out. What Yunho and Changmin have isn't the normal kind of conviction though, what they have is raw passion. This isn't the kind that you see in how many hours they worked in the studio, how difficult or new their vocal techniques are, in how high they belted that high note, or in any of those behind-the-scenes aspects. This is the kind you see in the actual work, in the simplest of lines, the shortest of notes, this is the kind that screams "I deserve to be here, I deserve to be doing this, so I'm going to prove it to everyone, even if I'm just standing here and doing nothing." You don't find passion and conviction in what you do, you find it in how you do it. And it's that kind of conviction that gets them places.

"Catch Me", the song, really is one of the best songs on the album, and it stands for everything DBSK is, and has become. It has dynamics that go beyond a few explosions here and there and give the song texture. “Catch Me” literally jumps through hoops and fire, but it doesn’t do it alone -- it takes you with it.

The intro is beautiful -- that piano line is heavenly, and Yunho sounds amazing -- it gets you ready for the pending brilliance, which is balanced out by the dubstep just before the verse. Honestly, if we were talking about the dubstep alone I would’ve hated it, and actually I do hate it alone as a loop, but you have to look at “Catch Me” as a whole, and also go back to what DBSK is. They are the formula, this loop is the trend now, but they are also the formula done right, and they made the loop fit the song, they gave it contrast and they gave it depth.

I had the first of many heart attacks today, courtesy of the verses because let me tell you, I had many more after. The conviction in Yunho and Changmin’s vocals are through the roof, and the instrumental gives it urgency and a build-up without drowning out the melody. My favorite part about it though is how effortlessly but confidently it builds up to the chorus -- it’s not obvious until you actually get to the chorus and you’re left wondering how it happened. Listening casually, you still hear all the brilliance, but the more concentration you put into it, the more your actually appreciate what you hear. Again, the formula done right.

The chorus of “Catch Me” gave me my second heart attack of the day, and it was glorious in it’s epicness. There are so many things happening during this brilliance that is the chorus, but one thing’s for sure, the vocals and the melody are the most important parts of it. It’s catchy all right, however what makes it so DBSK is that the catchy doesn’t come from the autotune or the synth loop -- it comes from the vocals, from the belting with harmonies. Belting! With harmonies! In the first chorus! Who does that?! The instrumental is stunning, with that piano line from a while ago really taking as much of center stage that it can without yanking the spotlight away from the vocals.

We get dubstep again, but this time with a sort of post-chorus melody that the two share, whose brilliance (the melody, I mean) makes the dubstep so much more bearable. This is before we’re literally flung into a very, very urgent bridge that’s so glorious you’re still hung over by the time the chorus literally sneaks it’s way in again. And if you were thinking we’d get time to breathe after, sorry to burst your bubble but Changmin skips the hook all together and goes straight for the middle 8. Which reminds me a bit of the middle 8 of “Bonamana”, until Yunho comes in and then they make this brilliant harmony that’s so brilliant I’m just gonna keep calling it brilliant until I can’t. Call it brilliant. Brilliant. No DBSK song is complete without Changmin’s scream, albeit a short one, which transitions us into a dubstep verse reminiscent of “ANDROID”, complete with a proper dubstep dance break!

Despite everything that happens in between, and basically everything happening in the song, the last chorus is just as brilliant as it was when it first appeared, tying each and every one of the elements together.

As for the rest of the album, honestly I wouldn’t call this the album of the albums of the year just yet -- “Catch Me” as an album is outstanding, yes, but for me, as much as an album of the year has to be cohesive and unified, all the tracks also have to stand firmly on their own, and there are some tracks that can’t do that just yet. We’ll see.

Viva” is another song you have to look at as a whole and not as individual elements, because it’s such a dynamic, well-produced song when you do. The rapping at the beginning was a big iffy for me, and didn’t sound DBSK enough for me, and the first chorus was a little disjointed as well, but by the time the second chorus hit everything came together. It’s the kind of song that needs time to digest, because it’s very un-DBSK. The first time I heard this I pictured Big Bang doing the rap portions, but the more you think about it, the more you realized that they carried it the right way, and by the end of the song you’ll really want to replay it.

Destiny” is so “Keep Your Head Down” -- it would have no problem fitting right in beside “She” and all the other midtempos. In a sense, this is the other side of the new DBSK sound, the kind of songs you’d hear from more classy lounge singers, and by now they really have mastered it. Gorgeous melody, strong vocals, and truckloads of a mix between sexy and confident.

I don’t know about you guys, but despite the title, “Like a Soap” is one of my favorites on this album. It’s cashing in on that ever-present acoustic craze without becoming a snooze-fest, mostly because Yunho and Changmin’s voices have the intensity to make it interesting. I love the arrangement on this because it’s so high-budget Disney Channel series, with the sharp instrumentals and very predicable, but still gorgeous, transitions. The chorus is so quaint in it’s being pretty, courtesy of those gorgeous harmonies and that nice electric guitar running around in the background that gives it some dimension. And also, the middle 8 and the second to the last chorus -- beautiful. If this was the theme song of “To The Beautiful You”, the world would be a better place.

The Korean version of “I Don’t Know” was one of the tracks I was really excited for, because I still worship the Japanese version (and their performance of it at Tokyo Dome was MIND-BLOWING with the screens and the dancing and the WOW), and to a certain extent it delivered. We have a Korean version of an amazing song. I still like the Japanese version a lot better though, because I loved the contrast that the graceful Japanese lyrics gave the very gritty song. The Korean version is just all grit and spunk and no grace, especially because Yunho and Changmin’s voices are more stiff and less melodic.

Dream” sounds like a theme song for a Japanese drama. That has it’s appeal, usually when they do songs like this on tour, but this is the kind of song that even if Yunho and Changmin are really good at carrying songs, it’s been done so many times before and it’s starting to get boring. I mean I love my string sections and perky melodies, and I love “Like A Soap”, but this is all cliche and no DBSK whatsoever. Except maybe for the first chorus which is gorgeous because it’s basically just Changmin singing (very well) with minimal instruments.

This is the part of the album where it’s SM-ness begins to show, because “How Are You” is the second boring song in a row we get. I mean it’s and okay song, and it’s a lot better than all the other boring SM songs everyone else gets because of the delivery, but the standards are higher for a group with more talent, because more gets wasted if they get a boring song. It’s also obvious in their delivery that the two of them are kind of not in it, because they’re starting to sound bland. Maybe not bored yet, but one more bad song and I might have to go storm SM.

Getaway” is like what “Gulliver” should’ve been. You know, without the painful growling? I’m not the biggest fan of “Getaway”, but it’s pretty obvious that Yunho and Changmin approached this song with technique, and care for their voices. Growling is never a good thing, unless of course it’s done right. And I think anyone can recognize good growling from bad growling -- if your throat starts getting itchy and your ears start hurting, the person growling is probably in pain too. Fortunately for us, Yunho has technique, so the growling is half-singing, half-rapping, as it should be. I like the melodic parts, and I like how they really took advantage of the fact that this is Changmin’s forte. That middle 8 is brilliance.

Everyone has been freaking out over “I Swear” since it came out, because Changmin wrote it for Cassiopeia (awwwwww!), and it’s a very pretty song, yes, with a gorgeous and really good arrangement. Also, if Changmin was the one who put in that gorgeous drum line into the second verse -- you’ve been taught well. It’s very subtle in it’s being pretty, but for me it’s the subtlety that keeps it as just pretty and not beautiful or stunning. And that works for some people, plus the fact that it’s a nice break from the very intense, stand-out songs, a break that isn’t a snooze-fest. But then it kind of lost it when everything came in together at the end, because you have these very conflicting instruments like the drum kit and those cymbals which do not, for the life of them, sound good together. Changmin has the gist of it, but he needs more work in terms of the nitty gritty.

Gorgeous” sounds very album track -- it’s a good song that just blends into a bunch of more striking ones because even if it’s well-done, it’s very one-dimensional and lacks a wow factor that isn’t the singing.

As this album comes to a close, I realize that my stand-out favorites are the first and last track, because really guys, how can you not worship “Good Night”? It’s like the song you play after “Before You Go” because you’re still high from it but need something to ease you back into the real world. Slowly. Very slowly. Those verses are heavenly -- not just beautiful or stunning or brilliant -- heavenly. The sharpness of the chorus gives a really nice contrast to the instrumental, and those beautiful solo lines that follow. And I just died at “have a good, good night”, as well as those ad-libs that followed. The middle 8 is like the cherry on top -- I really did go to heaven and back. The attitude of “Good Night” is very nonchalant, but that’s what makes this song so good. Effortless beauty is always the perfect way to end an album.

The Best: Catch Me”, “Good Night
The Better: Like a Soap”, "Viva”, "Destiny
The Worst: "How Are You"
The Rating: 4.7/5, but 5/5 for the lead single!

NOTE: If you've noticed, my label for the current DBSK line-up has always been "DBSK/HoMin", and this review is no different. Things have changed since the last time I used this label for a major review -- majority know DBSK as Yunho and Changmin only, hence my usage of "DBSK". However, my stand on DBSK's situation, past and present, is that Yunho, Changmin, Jaejoong, Junsu and Yoochun make up DBSK as a group, so if Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu can't call themselves DBSK because the other two aren't present, then Yunho and Changmin have to be identified as the other fraction of DBSK. I recognize the fact that Yunho and Changmin are called DBSK because they are the other fraction of the original five-piece DBSK who remained under SM, but I also recognize the fact that there was a point when DBSK was not just the two of them.

26 comments:

  1. I wonder if you have to be a fan of Tvxq to like their music, because "Catch Me" didn't do it for me. It's sounds like a collection of high sounds repeated again and again with some robotic "catch me if you wanna" in the middle.
    Maybe I should give a try at the other songs... Anyway, thanks for the review.

    PD. Will you review Snsd's new Japanese single? It will be out in 2 days from now. :)

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    1. Maybe you're a bit overwhelmed by this song. I was, too, although I'm a fan of TVXQ. Well, actually, many of DBSK's songs, including those when they were 5 members, overwhelmed me at first. Uhm, DBSK's music style is not very trendy and catchy. Many of their songs take you several times of listening to digest. I'm the type of person who can easily get into catchy songs but then get bored of them very soon, often sooner than those songs can get off the charts or the TV. But DBSK's songs get stuck much longer in my head. That's why I became their fan.

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    2. This is quite true. TVXQ was my introduction to JPOP and KPOP and I was not really used to hearing those kinds of songs. It quite a while before I really got into their songs (would you believe, I didn't like 'Love in the Ice' the first and second time I heard it) but since I was quite interested I listened again and again and now here we are. Disbanded for 2 years with different projects & different lives but still a BIG FAN!

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    3. I agree i do not like Catch Me either.. It lacks something for me. Humanoids works better for me.
      And i am a DBSK fan. Its just that i expect more from them i think. Maybe i just miss Junsu..

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    4. "Catch Me" didn't do it for me. It's sounds like a collection of high sounds repeated again and again with some robotic "catch me if you wanna" in the middle.- agree!

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  2. Oh lord the "note" is such a throw off. No matter how great/highly your review is about them, it doesn't even matter anymore when you can't accept the fact that tvxq right now is yunho and changmin. Why is it that hard to understand? Jyj LEFT. They left sm, they left the group. They left dongbangshinki. How long are you going to hold on to that "dbsk is not dbsk if they're not 5", huh? Just like how jyj stans want sm to let jyj go, people like you should also learn to let go those selfish feelings about only want to acknowledge them dbsk if they are 5. Jaejoong, junsu, yoochun can't call themselves dbsk not because yunho and changmin are not with them, but beacuse they left. They choose to be jyj for god's sake. Yunho and changmin have every right to call themselves dbsk, not only because they are under sm, but because they choose to be dbsk. Sigh. I can't with your logic. Yeah I know this won't be accepted as a comment but at least you'll read this. And no, I'm not going to apologize for what I've said.

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  3. the catch me mv is awesome! yunho and changmin performance is fantastic! some part of the dance is kind of weird but still cool.
    the song itself is edgy and the chorus is glorious, but i find that the dubstep is kind of boring, so much like the android
    i haven't hear the entire albums yet, but comparing this song to the keep your head down, i think i prefer keep your head down because it has more dynamic rhytm

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  4. you mention the song gateway twice, i guess the first one you mean gorgeous?

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  5. I like your review but you really throw out any credibilty when you refuse to call them DBSK.

    You are disrespecting them badly by not doing them the small courtesy of calling them by their group name. The other 3 were ONCE members, but they haven't contributed to DBSK for 3 years and they have lost the right to the name.

    Yunho and Changmin consider themselves DBSK, and their opinion is more important than yours, more important than other fans, and more important than the former members. You don't have any say in the name of their group and you don't have the right to tell them they're not DBSK without the others.

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  6. "Catch Me" wasn't as bad as I thought it would be when I first heard the teaser but I couldn't say I liked it too. As you said, a lot of things are going on with that song, but it came to me in a negative way. The song doesn't do anything to emphasize their voices. It's as if the autotune and whatnot has completely covered them. Also, the mv was so mediocre. I was hoping that this a dance version rather than the actual mv. For the other songs, I have yet to listen to them.

    And I really can't with the "Homin are DBSK" talk going on here. Fans can call them whatever they want to be it Homin or DBSK and I don't think even Homin can fault us for that. So stop your lecture and just focus on the song.

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  7. I think some 'Homin are DBSK' commentors are really confused... no where did I see that you refused to call Yunho and Changmin DBSK.

    You're calling them DBSK AND Homin. They are not mutually exclusive. They are DBSK /AND/ Homin. The former recognises their choice to continue as DBSK. The latter acknowledges that DBSK and all the history that comes with the name was not created just by the two of them.

    I don't understand why that's so hard to process :/

    Thanks for the review (: I was pleasantly surprised by 'Catch Me' on my first listen - was hoping they would do something more melodious and I love the orchestral elements. But that just made the dubstep more jarring. The mashup could have been smoother. I'm happy that Yunho and Changmin are harmonising more in the songs and amazed they can still do so very nicely.

    And I have many issues about the MV, but that's more to do with SM's artistic direction than the song specifically.

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  8. I love the way you put Catch Me, but that is my least favorite song on the otherwise wonderful album. I actually hate it...

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  9. i was smiling reading your review, but had me frown towards the end. You OT5? :((

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  10. I really liked this review and agreed with many of your points. Basically speaks how I felt about TVXQ and their "Catch Me" album.
    I must admit, when I first heard "Catch Me" the teasers I wasn't thrilled about their comeback. It's just I'm so used to TVXQ always showcasing their amazing vocals and harmonies. So, when I heard the auotune and then the dreadful dubstep, my excitement level went down.
    But when the actual full song came out and I listened to it for awhile it grew on me. The autotune wasn't excessive and used properly (meaning to give the song a robotic,strong feel than covering up a lack of vocals). Also the dubstep!! I can't stand the dubstep trend in K-Pop now! But even though I still don't like it, I wil say that it was used well in "Catch Me." It's used to enhance the dynamics of the song rather than as just a gimmick (hope that made sense). So yeah, "Catch Me is a solid song that still manages to showcase their vocal power which makes me a happy camper.

    As for the rest of the album, it really amazed me how well it was put together. Usually, SM just gives their groups/idols a strong title track and then boring filler. But this album is on par with their Japanese discography! :O Like almost all the songs are great! Just.....Wow! I'm really impressed with TVXQ/HoMin this time. "Keep Your Head Down" didn't do them justice but this album speaks volumes of what the two have to offer on their own! :)

    P.S. and a little random in the mix: I didn't really like "Keep your Head Down" not only because it was sorta of a snoozefest but also because I felt it wasn't representative of TVXQ as a duo! I love DB5K too. They (along with BoA) are the main reason I got sucked into the K-Pop-sphere. But I understand that now they are split into two groups that are going through two different musical directions. When I listened to "Keep Your Head Down" I felt that HoMin were trying to PROVE that they could still succeed without the other three (now JYJ). And that's slightly understandable, it's just I was expecting them to make a sound for themselves (as two). Also, I got the feeling after listening to the KYHD album that it was more of a DB5K album than a album for HoMin. Ironically, it turned out that a few of the songs of the album were originally DB5K songs. Which did no good for me. So while waiting for this album, I was hoping that they would try to find where they stood in their music and find what suited their voices. Because although it's great to experiment and challenge yourself, I think it's also important to know your strengths. Besides JYJ are doing their own thing so why shouldn't HoMin? But anyway, the main thing is that for me "Keep Your Head Down" didn't show enough of what TVXQ/HoMin could do. In "Catch Me," Instead of trying to prove something, it all (their talent and skills) naturally came out, which automatically made it a better listening experience. Overall, "Catch Me" as a whole is an improvement for TVXQ as a duo.

    Also sorry for not commenting enough on your blog but I'm always reading your reviews! :)

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  11. I really enjoyed Catch Me as a song. O.O can't stop replaying it since it was released. :D

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  12. at first i hear catch me song teaser, i really dissapointed.... but after i hear the full song... now i realize if the song really great and the dancing really great to....

    i won't to compare this song with Keep Your Head Down ... because i like the both...

    if u really cassiopeia , u must respect for TVXQ Homin and JYJ album.... Dont ever compare them... but always support them....

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  13. I just don't know what is right to say mow, but for me it's really meaningful to be a HolyShinki. I know it's wrong for JYJ, 'cause they didn't do anything underestimatedly.
    One thing that I can't deny that My love is only for DBSK, especially for HoMin. For me, whatever they do has its own aim, and I am looling forward for anything they give me. I don't have any idea whether it's an selfish love or not, but everything they do, every songs they sing is precious and no matter what people say and think, I won't ever concern about it.

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  14. I see mixed reaction cum from ppl.
    I liked the song and the vid.
    Reminded me of gangan style for sum reason lol

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  15. Jaejoong , Yoochun and Junsu were the main voices of DBSK no matter what way you want to put it when it came to sheer vocal talent Jaejoong was always #1 followed by Junsu then Yoochun... changmin then ofcourse yun ho.... remember Changmin made DBSK strictly on looks and just because he can hit one high note doesnt mean he can sing ... i think it was ok for yunho to try "to hard" when he had JYJ but now it just looks awkward and he just looks like a brian joo 2.0 (From fly to the sky) legally the homin is only DBSK but in their hearts they are all DBSK ... its just the ones with the most talent chose not to be slaves.

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    1. Really gal, it can't be denied that JYJ're talented but saying CM's in TVXQ solely b'caz of the look is wrong, just wrong. Idk, maybe at first, he's chosen b'caz of his good look but he'd already proved he's more than that and surely, he's not only hit one note. Pls stop with 'slaves'. It's so disrespectful.

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    2. I'm sorry, but have you listened to the beginning of "Nine?" I want to forget Yoochun was even there. Even the so called "worst singer," Yunho, might be doing better than Yoochun right now, because Yoochun's voice has severely deteriorated. To call someone a "slave" takes a lot of ignorance about the power of such a word--Please think twice before saying such a thing without really meaning slave in terms of owning and having power over another human being. To also generalize JYJ as more talented is very narrow minded as well... sure they had the middle voices and were mostly the better singers. More talented? that's up for debate. And to be honest, I could just as easily call out JYJ on being Drama Queens that try to sell their products using fan's sympathy as much as they do their own talents. But does that mean my accusation is entirely accurate and conscientious of society? No. And neither is yours.

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    3. yoochun as main voice and vocal talent? ROFLMAO

      are you even remotely a fan when they were 5 because your comment is so full of BS ice.

      you probably can use being jyj-bias as your excuse, but please be objective at least for a split second. nobody can honestly say yoochun has a good voice. jfc

      and changmin hired by sme on looks....first time i hear this after 6 years as a fan. you may not personally like his voice, but to deny that he is a good singer is delusional. jaesumin were widely regarded as the main vocals with the most singing parts during DB5K times.

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  16. Hey Nicole, first off I just want to say I really enjoy reading your reviews, I find that I'm able to enjoy K-Pop a lot more when I read your take on it, and your impressions often help me find a lot of songs I would never listen to otherwise.
    The only problem I have is just a minor one, but it still bothered me a tad bit. When you mentioned the dubstep in this section:
    "it gets you ready for the pending brilliance, which is balanced out by the dubstep just before the verse. Honestly, if we were talking about the dubstep alone I would’ve hated it, and actually I do hate it alone as a loop"
    I was bothered because that part is not dubstep per se. Dubstep is defined unofficially as having modulated and altered bass lines, and the part in 'Catch Me' that you were talking about was merely a dance beat with a synth line on top of it. The synth used could be very easily found in a dubstep song, yes, but on its own it is not considered dubstep, unlike the other breaks that you deemed 'dubstep' in 'Catch Me'. For future reference, and please take this as constructive criticism because I thoroughly enjoy reading your reviews, making sure of the musical origins and genres that you refer to would help the credibility of your reviews.
    Other than that, I really liked this review, and I hope you manage to evade the Internet Law that's going into effect in your country. I'm supporting you!

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  17. oh god seriously who the fuck are you? SECOND ALBUM?!?!?!? I myself suport and deeply love all five of them and I find it so disrespectful that you say second album? Catch Me IS TVXQ's SIXTH ALBUM. Yes, Yunho and Changmin are current TVXQ like it or not... and in my opinion any of the five gods could carry the name of TVXQ very high.

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  18. I enjoyed reading your review. Didn't agree with everything but I usually don't lol but was impressed at how balanced you were about everything. Had to go back to make sure I read it right, that you were 18, and though wow, even more impressive! And then we get down to the very last paragraph, and, yeah. You're 18.

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  19. MV is boring, just the usual dancing in a box. Dance's cool though, one of the best in Kpop this year.

    The song, well I have mixed feelings about it. The verses and chorus are epic! The bridge and middle 8 is acceptable, a bit too robotic, but that's what add contrast to the song. The dupstep breakdown however is terrible. It just ruined whatever beauty the piano line was building up in the beginning. And I also failed to see how the dupstep represents the song and TVXQ as a whole.

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