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Ep.5 (Part 2) Grammy Award Winning Audio Engineer Reacts to SNSD, Weki Meki and Blackpink


Umu: Go ahead and skip to 20 seconds in, (R: 20 seconds in) cause first 20 seconds is just them eating pizza, there we go
Guest: 20 seconds Prof: why is that a bad thing? I love pizza Umu: This is a nine member girl group that debuted in 2007 so so far the oldest group that we’ve heard today Umu: um, they debuted under SM Entertainment, but for their– this song Umu: There’s only eight members since one of the members left in 2014. The signature style music for this group is electro pop or bubblegum pop Umu: but their music actually has varied quite a bit and this is one of the songs that has varied, this song is Umu: Called Lionheart and it’s their 2015 song Umu: it’s described as a soul pop inspired bubblegum pop song produced by Lee Soo Man Umu: Embraces a 1960s American retro sound that has a jazzy melody Umu: And yeah, this group actually SNSD is– have you heard of them by any chance? Girls Generation— Yes
Umu: yes Prof: I’ve heard of them only because as Prof: Emma would tell you my first homework assignment in this course that I teach and one of the courses I teach is Prof: about your top five artists and your least favorite artist or genre and Prof: Multiple multiple students, I’ve had, have put Girls Generation as their least favorite
Umu: Oh really? Umu: oH!? Really??
Prof: Oh Yeah and so Over the years, so I started teaching here in 2011 I started teaching this course and so I’d say almost one kid a year will be like I hate Girls Generation And so like I had to check them out, so I’ve heard I might have heard this song It sounds familiar But I don’t remember it because usually when a student says I really hate this band and I don’t know this band I listen to the band to find out maybe I’ll like it. Maybe I’ll hate it So from my recollection the first time I heard girls generation, there was a student that put them on their list I was like meh, it’s just pop production it’s like a girl Korean girl version of the Backstreet Boys It was my thought but less nineties terribleness.
Umu: Alright, yeah, cause they’re so popular in Korea and maybe not as popular here Yeah, their immense popularity there has earned them nicknames such as the nation’s girl group. So that’s just a fun fact So also yeah, I’m curious like how has mixing differed between the 60s and now after you listen to it you can explain like what’s so modern
Prof: yeah there’s a lot Okay well I’m excited Here we go I like that there’s a slapback echo on the doo doo. it’s very subtle, but very nice, very well done They’re kind of going for a more electronic Amy Winehouse kind of style it sounds like to me. Amy Winehouse used a lot more musicians everything else here is synths- sounds mostly synthetic Now that’s modern production right there what just happened with the vocals Total modern production because there’s like a cut-off, you know, obviously there’s auto-tune those total modern production right there Nice mix it’s very pleasant well-balanced. There’s little nuances here there that I would second-guess As an engineer, but they’re not bad. It’s just like kind of distracting It’s the oh oh oh oh oh It’s very cut off and that’s something you couldn’t do in the 60s because you’re recording tape and here we can cut it with you know Pro Tools and visually see then that’s cut off and there’s no, it’s a very sharp…end I want more bass I need more bass Background vocals should be further back at that point The lead vocal was very buried. yeah. The difference is there they’re going for that retro sound but a modern production modern twist on a Classically written song essentially so the songwriting I would say is 60s You’ve got the the guitar on two and four with a little bit of delay And you’ve got a nice bass line that has space, you have harmony vocals a la Beach Boys, you know bubblegum pop You know kind of stuff it harkens back to that musically, but sonically it does not. sonically it’s very modern, you know it’s the age we live in where everything’s tracked to a Click track everything’s beat mapped and perfected and aligned to the grid. if this song was done in the 60s There’d be tempo variation there would be imperfections in the voice there would be a little bit of Weirdness, maybe it’s like distortion on something, you know You’d have tape hiss obviously, you know It’s a very clean modern take on the music of that era and like I said the most modern pop That I can equate it to would be Amy Winehouse, but Amy Winehouse used a lot of actual instruments She didn’t use a ton of synths. There are some tunes that Amy Winehouse has auto-tune on her voice But it’s very few and far between she was such a stellar musician that they didn’t see the need and honestly There’s a lot of musicians like that where I think that they don’t need it, but they still use it
Umu: right UMu: Could you point out the thing where you said that you hear people since they’re singing to-
Prof: oh, yeah. Yes. Yeah this is something I’ve noticed and I said it in class and I’ve noticed in recent years people are starting to sing like they have auto-tune on their voice natural. and I think it’s just because they’re singing along with artists that use autotune so it is it’s kind of like a chicken and the egg problem now where if you’re singing along with something that has auto-tune and has those weird jumps with no glissando you train your voice to sing like that and They do those weird athletic jumps from note to note and some people are singing like that and it’s interesting thing I’ve noticed it with my students I’ve noticed it at concerts where there’s no auto-tune going on like going to a Rock band show that at a club that holds 20 people and yet you get a singer up there that can do these athletic jumps pitch perfect notes to note with no glissando and that’s like Hard do I don’t know opera singers that could do that You know, it’s it’s something that’s happened just because people are singing along and shower and in their car to stuff that’s auto-tuned
Umu: Yeah Umu: Yeah that blew my mind I was like, oh my god that you’re so right Yeah, so notice the next time when you’re out there if you’re listening along
Umu: so next is weki meki Umu: They are a 8 member group debuted in 2017 so super recent like Pristen under fantagio entertainment. this song UMu: song “I don’t like your girlfriend” is their debut song and was composed by Umu: Many many people including Devine Kai, Ryan Kim, Chase Amanda Mosely and arranged by devine channel UMu: So often k-pop groups actually used like American songwriters or even European songwriters Umu: So sounds like this group used some when I went through the comments of this video Umu: A lot of guys were saying they wished this group debuted with a better song. Hmm Umu: So this song is kind of bipolar. It has a ton of different styles Umu: I think like a definitely a lot of creative mixing or really bad mixing. I can’t tell but it’s just fun Umu: And so I think you’ll have plenty to comment on
OK That was weird. that was a… that was not what I expected for that build up 808 kick drum. There you go right there I’m lost. It’s like a musical salad. I’m going to go ahead and agree with the YouTube commenters that this might not have been their best foot to start off on only because It’s like they’re throwing in everything to see what sticks and production-wise The engineer- that’s a challenge to make this all fit It’s very high-end it’s very top-heavy I could get tired of this. Not just musically, but sonically. it just changes too much musically. There’s nothing to grasp onto This is out of left field, honestly There’s a lot of samples and things like that that are very pervasive in modern pop music and all around the world essentially So there’s like these synth sounds I’m like, I’ve heard that synth sound I’ve heard that snare drum sound That’s why I said earlier that it’s like a musical salad It’s just kind of like they’re throwing everything in that’s hip and just kind of putting it all together I think my main issue is that I couldn’t get past the music on that one to really comment on the mix so I apologize, the music uh, you mentioned that there was a whole bunch of writers on this song and What it sounds like to me, it was like no one would relinquish their writing like one person wrote one thing was like it has to go there Another person wrote a different thing and then I was just kind of like they all had to mash it together They had the same tempo. That’s about the only thing I could really grasp on to like Alright I can dance to it because it has the same tempo but the even though they went from a shuffle beat to a straight 8th note to a hip hop thing to then a half time and then It was just kind of all over the place as far as the engineering is concerned it’s very top-heavy There’s the 808 kick and that comes in and overwhelms your speakers and overwhelms the bass But then most of the rest of the times like where’s the bass so it’s kind of like it needs some work
Umu: right Umu: Yes, and you said like from the engineering perspective. This is hard to do? Yeah, as an engineer, I would have a difficult time I can’t lay blame on the engineer here the engineer I think probably did their best with what was given to them because maybe the engineer really liked it and You know really enjoyed whatever I have no idea. But if this was given to me, I’d be like, okay well
I have a lot of low-frequency here with the 808 in this 10 seconds of the song and Then the rest of it there’s no bass frequency So it would be a lot of automation to try to even it out and make it exciting. It’d be a Difficult job to balance everything and I can only imagine you know how many times this was mixed or how many times this was Put together umu: All right Umu: So last girl group is blackpink, blackpink is a four member girl group that debuted in 2016 under YG Umu: entertainment this song as if it’s your last, is there only 2017 release and was written and produced by Teddy Future bounce and lydia pink Umu: I chose his song because I just thought the mixing was great and it probably uses also a lot of current day popular samples Umu: So you can maybe point out which ones you hear a lot it’s a very daft punk intro The reggae tone beat there it is, I was waiting for it. I knew it would come out at some point There was a little bit in the other song- in the song before it too That kick drum is a sample that’s pervasive I would get really tired of that after a while Okay, so it changed up so it’s just that one section. if that was going through the whole song i would’ve been annoyed That was interesting what they did with the voice there… the pitch shift up Not bad!! might want to try that on something I’m doing right now actually This sounds great I think it’s well-balanced. I can hear everything great. yeah- it’s a nice mix right here I appreciate the, the rap vocals sound great. I think they’re perfect. the singing vocals, I think lacked a little excitement There’s a lot of nice little things going on here harmonically melodically that come through really nicely mixed I really enjoyed these choruses The guitar harmonies that were going on there, were really neat in that bridge section the nice counter melody is going on Kind of reminds me of like… some of the chorus and I think I like it because it’s it’s reminding me of mid-eighties Madonna. very similar with the bassline doing the- dun dun you know on the “ands” kind of it’s doing the sixteenth notes Yeah, there’s something there that’s is It’s drawing to a memory a musical memory of mine which I am trying, I’m placing as like Madonna like probably 86 -89 Somewhere in that area overall, I thought that was a really cool kind of mix I at first I didn’t like the reggaeton beat into the chorus But then the second time around I was like, okay I like it more. it worked because the rap vocals were very aggressive and I kind of like that She was almost attacking you a little bit and the way they engineered that it was quite well done The raggaeton beat fit really well under that and then to go to the straight four on the floor Pop beat for the chorus makes sense Most of the time that this song was very wide What I would have done Differently, maybe if I had my hands on this mix is the rap part maybe bring it in a little bit You know, not have it spread far left, right, but kind of bring it in So then the rap parts a little more little tighter here and then when the chorus comes in it’s like also more wide again And that’s a tried and true kind of thing like it’s very prevalent in music mixing To make the chorus wider than the verse but I think in this song that would have benefitted just from a mixing standpoint I think it would have made it a little more interesting just to push it over the edge But overall I know that was a nice mix
Umu: right so out of these six Yes
Umu: you have a favorite?
I like this and I like the Girls Generation Umu: You mean twice? Twice?
Umu: twice was the TT one
that one, this one, I think I’d listen to this again The TT one i’d want to listen to again because that was definitely very interesting Umu: right, right and from what you know with female artists over here is the mixing similar vocally and Umu: Balance wise?
yeah on this one in particular the rap part is Nicki Minaj all over it that style of hip-hop Blended with music and there like some sort of melodic structure but it is like I could I could throw on the new Taylor Swift record and the production quality is very similar in Stylistic and I point to the new Taylor Swift because it is very it’s a very pop record compared to a lot of her older Stuff Umu: great. Yeah, so in the first place all you knew about was SNSD was that the only kpop girl group that you knew Yeah
Umu: okay. So yeah has your thoughts changed about girl groups at all or no? No, I don’t I mean I didn’t have a negative thought coming into it I’d be curious to hear more from all these groups and especially the second to last one the one of the
Umu: weki meki Yeah, which was like all over the place. I’d be curious to hear a song that’s not as musically of a grab-bag Of a grab-bag. Yeah, I’d be really curious here to hear something that’s a little more standard writing out of them Otherwise I’d put this on it. I’d listen to it. I couldn’t really sing along but Then again lyrics even in American music lyrics are literally the last thing I listen to that’s just you know My my preference goes instruments first and I listen to the vocal texture and the intonation and the timbre of the vocals But I don’t memorize lyrics much

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