Fantastic, Beautiful, and Wonderfully Personal . . .
That I am aware of they are the first band to have successfully fought their company and made a even a moderately successful comeback as a single group (Shinhwa doesn't count here, their contracts ran out with SM, they didn't get them nullified by a court). And also, let's not forget the fact that this whole controversy has been stirred up, blown wildly out of the realm of the typically expected lawsuit scandal, and then more or less settled . . . in about a year. ONE YEAR. That is UNHEARD of. I was not expecting to hear anything from these boys until at least 2015, but no. Here they are, and just as epic as ever.
Be the Light is their pre-release single and it's fantastic.
Song-wise it has the intricate rhythmic and melodic elements that are a token part of Block B sound, but it also has some new things worth noting, like some seriously intense harmonies and a significantly slower bpm. It's distinctly not a ballad, but it exhibits a lot of the properties of Block B's past attempts to bridge into the pseudo-ballad genre: Did You or Didn't You had a few interesting harmonic moments, but not like the sweeping harmonic fill of Be the Light, and even earlier, U Hoo Hoo hinted at their ability. From BLOCKBUSTER, Movie's Over dug into melodic movement inside a harmonic fill, and 11:30 explores energy retention at lower bpms, so Be the Light hasn't popped out of nowhere, but it's a hundred times more sophisticated than any of the roots it comes from. The song's form is straightforward and allows for easy evolution. The Bridge slides in with a beautiful thematic subtlety; a held breath, a quiet sigh, silence, a deep breath, and then it's back to work. The raps are layered in with Block B's traditional mastery. Honestly, the elegance here, with which melody moves to rap and back, and how sometimes the rap IS melodic is just beyond words. And I love that Zico has singing lines, and that U-Kwon has a significant part too.
As for the MV itself, my hat goes off to these boys. As many BBCs have rightly noticed, it's directed to us. It's also about us. The girl's a metaphoric incarnation of BBC, which is why she gets hurt when U-Kwon, standing in for all of our boys, gets hit; Block B knows that it hurts us when they get beat down on by the industry, by their company, by haters in general. And they also know that we'll be here for them forever. This MV is them saying that they are very much aware of that, and that they appreciate it more than they can ever articulate in words, her presence at the scene of the beatdown is likely a comment on the idea that even when we can't physically be there to support them, we're always with them and they know this. Even the end bit, where the members come in, they pick U-Kwon up and help him carry on. When he gets in the van at the end, it's symbolic of Block B getting back into the Kpop Industry's crazy game. The fact that in several shots the girl has some sort of Army helicopter in the background seems to hint at the idea that we're going to help them go to war with the world, which would be true in a heart beat if they ever asked us for it (or even if they don't ask but need us to anyway). The allusions to the Joker and Batman hint that Block B is fully aware of the fact that they are a controversial group, but that they think it's high time someone caused a little mayhem to mix things up and really get the party started. We'll see how it all works out in Very Good (which by my watch has less than two hours left before its release), and on their Mini-album as a whole, and then in an even wider net, the collective international music industry. Gears are shifting and things are starting to change.
Honestly, the only reason that this one doesn't score a 10 is that the allusions are pretty time-specific, and the messages inside the MV are really targeted at BBCs. In a hundred years, the MV will still be poignant, but it won't have nearly the power it does today, when the sheer weight of the controversies they're facing are still looming directly over us all. Still, this release is fantastic an utterly game-changing for the industry (in a way that's different from how Bangtan Boys' latest MV has shifted things sideways). The fall season seems to be turning out pretty fabulously for Kpop and it's only just begun!