2PM ‘GROWN’ Album Review

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The most masculine and sexy male group in K-pop is back after a two year hiatus. My ‘grown’ boys have impressed the K-pop scene with two amazing title tracks – ‘All Day I Think Of You’ (Ha.Ni.Ppun) and ‘Come Back When You Hear This Song’ and with an even more spectacular album. I have previously done a short review on the album on the allkpop forums, however their revamped version had deleted the old posts. So here is my review!

Track 1. 하.니.뿐 (A.D.T.O.Y) – 4/5

The first title track, 하.니.뿐’ gives us the definition of what 2PM really is – manly, sexy, charismatic, seductive, and everything associated with those words. It has a really smooth, RnB feel to the song, with Taecyeon’s deep rap complementing the strong vocals by Jun.K and Wooyoung in the verses. The first chorus, was sang very well by Junho, as expected for the Lead Vocalist and Nichkhun did a good job in supporting him. However, the second chorus, where KhunHo sang in falsetto, could have been better, though it was serviceable. I agree with many reviewers’ thoughts on this as another member could have done better than Nichkhun in the falsetto, because though it was not too bad, it felt like he was straining and singing without the ease that Junho has. The dance, is simple, perfectly executed and less intense than ‘I’ll Be Back‘ and ‘Heartbeat’ but their expressions, flowing movements were much more impressive. It took me a few listens to like it, unlike the other title track.

Track 2. 이 노래를 듣고 돌아와 (Come Back When You Hear This Song) – 4.5/5

I liked this title track better than 하.니.뿐’. The first time I heard it, I immediately fell in love with it and I played it about 30 times without getting sick of it. Yes, it is weaker in comparison but the boys did a great job in this song. Catchy, addicting, cute dance and nice visuals. The vocals were executed well, even from Nichkhun and Chansung’s parts; where they had really delivered. However, though Junho and Jun.K’s chorus was flawless, as the chorus was the part that I, and I am sure everyone else were instantly addicted to, Wooyoung stole the show in the vocal department for me. His voice, in the verses leading into the chorus was very well suited as the tempo picked up. However, in live performances, Wooyoung could be more steady. Taec’s rap was good. One flaw for me, was one highlight bridge with the powerful vocals from Jun.K or Junho, just to change up the song progression, then the song would be perfect.

Track 3. 원점으로 (Back to Square One) – 4.5/5

This song is easily one of my favourite songs from the album (I will reveal my rankings at the end of this post (: ). It is the first of three songs partially composed by Lee Junho, and he did not disappoint. The vocals were solid across the board, with Nichkhun and Chansung doing a good job in the verses once again and Wooyoung was great too. However, the JunBros once again stole the show, as their verses were amazing. Their harmonisation in 2PM’s songs these days are performed to perfection, something that was not as evident pre-Hands Up. The best part of the song is at 2:47-3:07, where Wooyoung sings the line ‘I wanna feel your love…’ then Junho comes in with his powerful vocals and his three high notes. I just repeatedly play this part because I love it so much.

Track 4. I’m Sorry – 3.5/5

Another smooth, sexy track with a sense of jazz. It really makes you sway your head and shoulders around. Chansung’s lines in particular were very well fitted with the song. I really liked Taecyeon’s rap too. However, it was lacking in the ‘wow factor’, that would have made the song even more good. Yes, I know it is one of those ‘chill time’ songs, lazy on the couch like a sloth (i.e. like Wooyoungie oppa) but yeah that’s all I have to say about ‘I’m Sorry’. If it was like CNBLUE’s ‘I’m Sorry’ (I know impossible) then we’re talking ;).

Track 5. 오늘부터 1일 (Today Marks the 1st Day) 4/5

I really adored this song. Cute, jazzy, great instrumental with the brass and piano, ‘Oh girrrl’ factor with Wooyoung, different formation in the chorus (with our vocal line) and verses – a totally different 2PM. It reminds me of ‘모르니 (I Don’t Know)’ from the Hands Up album. I love Taec’s cool rap – for example his ‘Baby girl, will you be my girlfriend?’ line which makes all the girls scream YES. The highlight was 2:14 – 2:49, with Chansung and Nichkhun’s bridge; it was good and steady.

Track 6. Dangerous – 4.25/5

This song is dangerously addicting. First listen, yeah my reaction was like ‘cool but meh…’. But the second and further listens, I had myself unconsciously singing along to it and grooving (yes, grooving) to the tune. Nichkhun asks the question – ‘Hey girl, how you doin’ in the beginning and I was like “Oppa ~, I’m doin’ so fine”. That line catches you to pay attention. Wooyoung begins the song like he does more often than not, then Junho comes in with his smooth vocals. The chorus by Jun.K and Nichkhun was the most dangerous part of the song; their vocals melt me every time in this song – especially Nichkhun’s line ‘Every day, every where mmm’. However, like in many 2PM songs, the highlight bridge is the most impressive and Junho makes no mistake here and Wooyoung’s follow up was really good too, with his signature soft and husky ad-lib that was reminiscent to his awesome solo album last year. Great song!

Track 7. 오늘 하루만 (Just For Today) – 4.25/5

A slow ballad type song, though can be boring at times for some, but I actually liked this song, and each time I listen to it, it just sounds even better. It is very similar to Bruno Mars’ ‘The First Time’ especially in the chorus, so similar that I get confused as to whether it is the Korean version. Nichkhun and Chansung sang well, but I must say, they were once again overpowered and outshone by the vocal line, despite improvement because the vocal line has never sounded better in this song. Junho’s vocals in the verses were so dreamy, it felt like I was floating on clouds. But the first chorus by Wooyoung and Jun.K which is probably the first time they sang it together (since Heartbeat), really impressed me as the emotion that they let out was great. Except for the chorus and Taecyeon’s expressive rapping, the bridge by Junho and Jun.K takes the song to new heights, once again – power, depth, clarity and emotional; it had it all, especially Jun.K’s last power note. The ending had ended on a even higher note as the JunBros absolutely killed it with their power vocals. Exceptional and probably the best vocal performance in the album.

Track 8. Game Over – 5/5

Jun.K showed why he (and Double Sidekick) is well and truly one of the best and creative composers in the K-pop scene. This song, was so EPIC that words could not explain, that really puts him up there with Big Bang’s G-Dragon and B2ST’s Junhyung as the cream of the crop of idols in terms of musicianship and composing ability. The war, battle, angst-like and ‘it’s not over’ mood to the song, reminiscent to MBLAQ’s epic ‘This is War’ however it was arguably better, brings such darkness and emotion to it that 2PM have not gone to. Sure, ‘Without U’ and ‘Heartbeat’ were dark and sad, but ‘Game Over’ just slays them with its intensity. Jun.K and Taec’s chorus was something I never imagined 2PM doing. Amazing. Accompanied by Junho’s flawless start and Wooyoung’s multiple parts performed so accordingly well to the development of darkness in the song, this song was really flawless. Loved it, so badly.

Track 9. Coming Down – 3/5.

Credit to Chansung for writing the lyrics for the first time, and having his name printed in the music credits, but it is sad to say that this song was my least favourite song on the album by a long while. It was the lowest point unfortunately. I just did not feel the connection to it, the first time and every time after that. I tried hard to embrace it, like how I did with ‘Dangerous’ but it just did not appeal to me. Yeah, the delivery was good as everyone sounded good, but it had sounded similar to previous smooth songs that were much better. I think Taecyeon’s rap and Wooyoung’s breathy, sexy end were the highlight and the most appealing parts for me. It was the only song I was disappointed with.

Track 10. 고백 (Go Back) 4.5/5

To say this song is awesome, that would be an understatement. Yes, it does not sound like RnB, but it does reflects Junho’s signature sound and style. That is what makes the majority of his songs very good and original, because they are consistent. With more experience, Junho will only get better and follow his hyung’s footsteps to produce absolutely epic music with variety in every song. Anyway, the song starts off with Wooyoung’s husky voice in a slow tempo, then the verse develops with Chansung’s part and finishes surprising well with Nichkhun’s impressive leading parts into the chorus. Junho sings perfectly here once again, as his feeling of ‘going back to the heart fluttery times’ was easily expressed to us listeners. Then we head into another verse by WooChanKhun, before Jun.K takes the chorus with the background ‘eh-oh-eh-oh’ vocals that represent the feeling of ‘going back’ well. Taec’s rap sounded like an actual good rapper, not just using his old talk-rap technique. Then Jun.K’s bridge leading to Junho’s last chorus had finished the song smoothly.

Track 11. Love Song – 5/5

We have arrived to my most favourite song on the album. ‘Love Song’ is the last and marginally the best composition of the three (in my opinion) by Junho. Perfection, flawless, immaculate execution of vocals – just an amazing composition in general, which has slowly creeped up to the top group of my favourite 2PM songs ever. Junho’s message at the start with his deep voice wowed me. Jun.K’s start was obviously very strong and it is rare that a song begins with our Main Vocalist, so this first indication made me think that “This is going to be one daebak song”. Nichkhun’s part got my whole body swaying and Taec’s awesome rap had made me move my arms like how he does it during live performances. This song had started so strongly. But, it was definitely the chorus with Wooyoung and Junho, singing together for the first time like ever (as I can recall) in the history of 2PM’s music, that sold me already and consolidated its position as my most loved song on the album. Wooyoung’s falsetto wowed me, it really did, as I did not know Wooyoung could sing so high, for so long, in a chorus. Surely, he has shown snippets of his high pitched notes in his solo, but his lines in this song just confirmed how much he has improved and benefitted from his debut as a vocalist. Junho, my goodness, your signature falsetto never, ever, has failed to impress, melt, mesmerise me. I know it is not good for your vocal chords to sing in falsetto all the time, but my boys, WooHo, why do you guys have to sound so good? After this song, I’m pretty sure fans and casual listeners have fallen for these two lovely men if they have not already. Taecyeon’s rap was charismatic as usual. Then we come to the bridge with Nichkhun and Jun.K, with Junho’s ad-libs; that was so beautiful. However, during the last chorus, it was Jun.K’s power notes that made me let out a “wooohp!”. So perfect, so good, ‘so into’ Love Song!

Track 12. 문득 (Suddenly) 4/5

The lovely Korean version of 離れていても(Hanarete Ite Mo) – which in my point of view is on par with ‘Forever’ as my favourite 2PM ballad. This song has featured in the last 3 2PM albums (Republic of 2PM, Legend of 2PM Version A, now Grown) in some shape or form as it is truly a fan favourite and arguably the most popular composition by Jun.K. This version was first performed last year at the Hottest’s 4th Fan Meeting, and the boys, especially Jun.K had tears in their eyes while singing to this, as all their emotions exploded on stage. That performance is up there with ‘Thank You’ at that famous ‘Don’t Stop Can’t Stop’ concert where the boys had bursted out into tears after the hardships they had suffered. Back to the song, I liked the guitar instrumental because it was different, but I prefer the piano based one that we saw at the fan meeting and with all the live ‘Hanarete Ite Mo’ performances. It is a good way to finish the album, slowly yet calming after all the epicness and sexiness we were treated to in all the songs before this. Same song, different language however I liked the feeling to the Japanese version better and the arrangement that they had at the fan meeting.

Overall, this album had definitely successfully shown the new side of 2PM, as they had gone through their third transformation that is looking to evolve in future albums that will hopefully take 2PM to even greater heights in terms of their music and development. Grown was super impressive, as I pretty much loved every song (bar one) and that is always an indication of how good an album is. Though the title tracks were really good and appealing, but it could not of hurt to put ‘Game Over’ or even ‘Back to Square One’ to a lesser extent, however the latter does sound like more of an ‘album’ song not a ‘title’. JYP is their producer, and the boys respect that, but I could imagine how much more success and impact ‘Game Over’ would have had by the Korean public. But in a sense, the K-pop scene may not be ready to see such a epic jump in 2PM’s music, I am not sure. Hopefully one of the JunBros will have an opportunity to have a title track under their name one day. The member that stood out the most for me in this comeback was Wooyoung, despite my Junho was promoted so heavily and was really in the centre of the performances, since he is in the spotlight these days (solo debut!, movie debut, movie offer, solo variety appearances, Kim So Eun’s most recent playmate etc). Wooyoung has taken his vocals to another level, it is not just because this type of music suits his voice, but he seems to be singing more difficult lines too. Full credit to him, JWY. I thought ‘Legend of 2PM’ was every bit of legendary, but this album had gone even beyond the heights that LO2PM had set in Japan. ‘Grown’ showed all the groups and K-pop lovers out there that 2PM is finally back, and are here to stay for the long haul, as they still hold on their own music style that is what makes them different from others. Yes, the results have not been amazing so far, but it is the music that really counts.

Verdict: 4.5/5.

Track Ranking:

1. Love Song

2. Game Over

3. Back to Square One

4. Go Back

5. Come Back When You Hear This Song

6. Just For Today

7. Dangerous

8.  오늘부터 1일

9. 하.니.뿐

10. Suddenly

11. I’m Sorry

12. Coming Down

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