GOT7 has a special place in my heart because they got me into K-pop over a year ago. Though they’re not always my ultimate bias group (which changes frequently because of my fickle heart), they remain high on my list of favorites. I was really looking forward to Flight Log: Arrival, and I wasn’t disappointed. Their trilogy has had some ups and downs, but I think that “Never Ever” provides a nice conclusion.
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*WARNING!* This review assumes the reader has listened to the music and/or seen the music video!
Current Concept: Got7 is currently working with a story, which I personally count as a concept. But in terms of aesthetics, I’d say that they could fall under a mature concept. I don’t necessarily mean sexy, although there are slight hints of that in the choreography. But they all do seem much more grown up. I think that – like many popular groups today – the theme is truly becoming an adult.
Music: JYP “The Asiansoul”, HeavyMental (earattack, 5$, zomay, Yoogeun)
Arrangement: HeavyMental (earattack, 5$)
Throughout the Flight Log trilogy, Got7 has had a decidedly Western sound. While all three title tracks have electronic influences, each one has a specific genre that suits the theme of the album. “Fly” was a mix of pop and light R&B, matching the bright and hopeful mood of taking off. “Hard Carry” was energetic trap and hip hop, definitely corresponding with the idea of turbulence. “Never Ever” is a somber conclusion, leaning heavily on tropical house as an influence. Although the “arrival” is a little more sobering than I expected, it falls in nicely with the other two.
Although “Never Ever” is not solely JYP’s (earattack produced all three title tracks), his presence is definitely heard. He’s known for making earworms, and I think that this song sounds a little more mainstream than the other two because of him. His songs are usually pretty balanced between vocals and rap, and they have a very basic structure. They’re usually pretty simple in order to emphasize the overall catchiness. They can sometimes get close to being too one-note, but I think “Never Ever” strikes a nice balance. It’s pretty easy to remember and sing along to, but it won’t force itself into your head and refuse to leave.
I personally really like “Never Ever.” The style is very popular these days with Westerners, and it’s also pretty listener friendly for those who are not into K-pop. The synth-heavy opening grabs you right from the beginning and sounds almost haunting. It reminds me a little bit of the opening for Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” While the actual melody is pretty catchy, it contrasts with the music instead of complementing it. The beat is also heavily syncopated, and both of those factors makes the song sound “off” at times. However, I don’t mean that in a bad way. It gives it a layer of complexity while remaining accessible. I actually think it’s pretty cool that there are parts of the song that are conventional and other parts that are less so. It makes it more interesting and unique.
Lyrics: JYP “The Asiansoul”, Heavymental (earattack, zomay, Yoogeun)
Got7 recently mentioned that “Never Ever” is about a crush maturing into real love. The singer has had some commitment issue in the past, but now he’s here and ready to take the next step. The chorus explains it all:
“Never ever, never going to let you go
I won’t leave you again, don’t worry
Baby you are mine, mine, mine
Never ever, ever going to make you cry
I won’t make you cry again, don’t worry
Baby you’re mine, baby you’re mine”
While there is some imagery, the lyrics are pretty much straightforward. For the most part, they don’t deviate from the main theme. It might seem a little one-note to some, but I don’t mind. Meaningful lyrics are great, but I think sometimes it’s nice to have something simpler and more succinct. I also find it a wee bit cheesy, but of course the great irony is that the song is performed by a bunch of handsome guys. So even though I think this, I fully acknowledge that if
Mark one of them sang it to me I would totally melt into a puddle.
The one thing that I’m not so crazy about is that there’s a lot of English. Like a lot. This isn’t overly surprising, given the frequency of small English words and phrases in K-pop songs. Also, Got7 has an American and at least two other anglophones. You’d think that an anglophone that doesn’t speak much Korean would like it, but I feel like there should be a balance. While it’s fun to be able to understand for once, having English in every line is a bit much.
JB, Youngjae, Yugyeom, Jinyoung, Mark, Bambam, Jackson
This is a really good examples of even line distribution. The way I see it, good line distribution doesn’t mean “equal” – it means “fair.” It should make sense based on each member’s designated role, and it should make an effort to give each member some exposure. “Never Ever” fits this perfectly.
“Fly” relied heavily on talk-singing, and “Hard Carry” was more rap-based. “Never Ever” returns to an emphasis on the vocals, which was usually how Got7 operated before. Therefore, JB and Youngjae have the most lines. They share the pre-chorus, the chorus, and have some ad libs at the end. Jinyoung and Yugyeom, the other vocals, take care of the first verse and the bridge. The rest of the rap is fairly divided between the other three members. While there is a hierarchy, the percentages between the three different tiers (main vocal, lead vocal, and rap) are pretty close.
I’ve always thought that Got7 has interesting choreography. They’ve upped the difficulty level since “If You Do,” but their dances always stand out. I have mixed feelings about “Never Ever.” There are parts that I really like, and there are parts I’m on the fence about. The idea seems to be contrasting between the verses and the chorus. The verses are more isolation-heavy, and the chorus involves grand sweeping movements. While this is a great idea in principle, I think the execution could have been better. The moves for the chorus don’t seem natural and don’t really flow together well. It also lacks an obvious or catchy key point, which is perhaps while I feel it’s a little off.
That being said, I love the opening. It matches the beat so perfectly. After years of hip hop dance class, I can definitively say that isolations look easy but are very hard to execute. It takes a lot of practice to make such small and precise movements look pronounced. You have to put strength into the move without making it big, and they pull it off really well. I kind of wish they had stuck with that style throughout the song.
In general, I think that their moves are best when they’re simple and clean. One of my favorite sections in the pre-chorus which has very basic rhythm but matches the beat well. It’s very well-articulated and precise.
On a side note, I’d like to thank whoever had the idea to give Mark this shoulder move:
CENTER AND FORMATIONS:
The formations in “Never Ever” don’t stand out a lot, although there are some cool ones. I especially like the one during Jackson’s rap that covers a lot of space and different levels. But what I really like about this routine are the transitions. They seem minor, but they can actually be really important.
I’ve been doing cover dances for about a year now. I’ve realized that there are many times where members just stop dancing and take a few counts to walk to a new position. It makes sense because the dance is not the sole part of the performance. However, the dancer in me finds it a minor pet peeve. In “Never Ever,” a lot of transitions are naturally incorporated into the dance. A lot of times the members move while they’re doing a specific step, like in the pre-chorus. They do walk around a little bit in the ending of the song, but it looks very natural and intentional – rather than them just dropping everything and walking to a different spot.
I don’t think that Got7 really has a dance center. They’ve mentioned before that all of them were trained as dancers except for Youngjae. Because of this, the center position usually goes to whoever’s doing the chorus. In most cases that’s JB and Youngjae, and both are good choices. JB is very charismatic, and Youngjae has a very sweet and compelling voice. The other members do get a decent amount of center time, although it’s less pronounced. I’m a bit surprised that main dancer Yugyeom doesn’t have more, especially because they used him a lot in “Hard Carry.” But he does start and end the song, which usually acknowledges a member’s dance skill or appeal.
I’ve had very mixed feelings about the music video in this trilogy. I gave up trying to figure out the story. First I thought it was like Chronicle where some accident that gave everyone flight powers except Jinyoung. Then I thought the story was Jinyoung coping as the only survivor of said accident (reinforced by the trailers for Turbulence and Arrival). Even if I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on, I thought that “Never Ever” would provide some sense of resolution. But of course it left more questions than answers. There was barely anything that could be considered a narrative, and there was definitely no conclusion.
I wasn’t the only one who was confused so I checked out Dream Teller, and they have some interesting and plausible ideas. Their overall hypothesis is that the trilogy is about Got7 fulfilling their dreams. Departure is starting off and reaching for the stars, Turbulence is encountering obstacles, and Arrival is overcoming them and arriving at a different and more mature outlook on life. Jinyoung is shown separate from his friends because he is pursuing his goals without passion or for empty reasons. They support him and teach him to enjoy the process instead of charging ahead for the result. I don’t usually take their word as gospel, but it makes a lot of sense. And if this theory is true, then the way the music video handled this definitely fell short.
According to Dream Teller, there are visual inconsistencies throughout the videos because it’s symbolism, not an actual plot. That’s all well and good, but the film school student in me doesn’t agree. My boyfriend’s friend recently made a short film. He focused on visuals over story, and the result had some major plot holes. He justified it by saying he knew the plot, and it was too bad for the audience if they couldn’t get it. *Insert buzzer noise* Wrong! It’s the filmmaker’s job to make sure even the most clueless audience member gets it. It’s no fun if only the creators and a select few super-perceptive viewers understand.
To be clear, I understand that music videos are not short films. They have other things to worry about: matching the music’s mood, balancing shots singing and dancing, and making sure everyone looks good. And unlike my friend, I’m sure the team put a lot of thought into their work. They just didn’t sell us what they were advertising. If the music videos were on their own, it might have been okay. But they put their feet in two different doors by adding six minute long story trailers, making us think that there was a very real narrative. And we don’t really get conclusive answers either way. They should have chosen between the two and fully committed.
There’s just so much going on. There’s the aforementioned symbolism. There’s this narrative of the friendship between Jinyoung and the other members. And if Dream Teller is correct, there’s elements of dreaming and the idea of the other members simultaneously being different parts of Jinyoung. (It’s very similar to their theory about Gfriend and “Fingertip”) That’s a lot of stuff to juggle, and none of those them are easy to visually convey. It feels a lot like throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks.
That being said, the faulty storyline clearly hasn’t negatively impacted Got7. 2016 was probably their greatest year to date, and they seem to become more popular with every comeback. And while I clearly have issues with the execution, I do admire the original intention. The bottom line – symbolic or literal – seems to be about Jinyoung’s friends helping him through a tough situation. That is the one thing that is shown very clearly throughout the trilogy, so I acknowledge that they stuck the main point.
Aesthetically, there are a lot of great things going on. I especially like the color palate, which is either dark and gray or fluorescent white. There’s also a great balance between the “story” content and shots of the members singing and dancing – something that “Fly” and “Hard Carry” were lacking. Though I don’t necessarily understand all of the references, I appreciate the small nods to the other music videos: Youngjae breaking Jinyoung free, the car, the bird, etc.
Got7’s outfits are very stylish in both their music videos and performances. I call it the “chic boyfriend” or “casual model” look. Like I said with BTS, they’re the kind of clothes that guys want to wear and that girls want their boyfriends to wear. So this is a trendy and appropriate choice for a song about being ready for a relationship. I get a much more mature vibe from them.
I really like the hair colors that they chose this time around. Most of them opted for a dark and natural color. My boyfriend thinks that Jackson looks better blonde, but I actually like his brunette side. Yugyeom looks a lot older with jet black hair. I thought that I wouldn’t like strawberry blonde on Youngjae, but it’s nice. I am on the fence about Bambam, though. While he looks great, it does stand out a little bit from the rest of the group.
STYLING MVP: Mark. There are many times when I can be objective and choose a member who is not my bias. This is not one of those times.
Song – 18
Lyrics – 9
Line Distribution – 10
Choreography – 18
Center and Formations – 8
Music Video – 16
Styling – 9
CONCLUSION: Got7 has seemed to struggle with their musical identity in the past. They started out with low-key swag (“Girl Girls Girls”), turned to fun and goofy (“A,” “Stop Stop It,” and “Just Right”), and then went masculine for “If You Do.” While I like all of these songs a lot, I also thought that they never felt exactly right for the group. My first thoughts when I heard “Fly” were “This is it. They’ve found their sound.” I somehow seem to be in the minority, because whenever Got7 has a comeback I see tons of fans commenting “meh” and saying that they don’t like it and/or they liked [insert other title track here] better. But I think that this is a sound and musical style that works for them.
Trilogies are the trend today, but I think the Flight Log series has been a very interesting experiment for Got7. They’ve played around with different sounds and a different image. They may have followed their themes a little more closely than they intended, but for the most part I think it worked. They’ve grown through this experience, and it clearly shows. Although they’re not as popular as their fans probably want them to be, they definitely have solid standing both in Korea and internationally. They may not have crashed into crazy success like their labelmate Twice, but they’re taking very definitive steps with each comeback. If they keep delivering music of this quality (and perhaps have a self-composed title track?), it won’t be much longer until they get there.
Sources: Youtube, JYP Entertainment, Wikipedia, Seoul Beats, Billboard, K-Rush Magazine Episode 4 (KBS)