Music Review: Dreamcatcher – Fly High

img source: https://www.soompi.com/2017/07/28/watch-dreamcatcher-showcases-vocals-new-live-fly-high/

Alright we are now at the final stretch of this music video review series! Thank you for taking this journey on with me as I still cannot contain my excitement for this group that marries my two favourite music genres packed into one powerful group.

Today we take a look at the Prequel to the Dreamcatcher lore, before they were became nightmares with their latest release Fly High.

The Music:
The song starts off with a brief piano intro and once the full band kicks in there’s a noticable drop in the heaviness we’ve grown accustomed to, yet some heaviness is sprinkled in for brief moments throughout the song. It works for and against the group for a few reasons.

It took me a moment to accept this brighter side of Dreamcatcher, but the YouTube channel manager did remind us in the comments that this is indeed a prequel to their other two music videos. Keeping that in mind it makes sense that it does have this bright, happy sound, though despite the distorted guitar being a little less bassy and crunchy than before, it’s still there and brings the heaviness here and there throughout the song.

At first I felt like the pre-chorus with the chugging riff was too short, that it could have gone another couple bars. With Dami rapping “it’s like a big black hole in my heart, I’m trapped in the dream,” and Sua bringing back the melodic vocals, the vocal trade it initially made it sound like an abrupt transition. But then I listened to the instrumental version of the song and it made sense to have that transition happen between the palm muted power chords to the regularly strummed ones.

On top of that, the benefit of listening to the instrumental version made me notice the second verse features a more groovy bassline than the first one. It’s not just sustained root notes of the palm muted power chords, but a groovy and melodic bassline! So that harmonized rap part that Gahyeon does is extra special to me now, because not only have I not heard many harmonized rap sections from other songs, but it’s also backed by a sweet instrumental modification that I appreciate.

Then we get to the bridge that makes me feel ambivalent. The heavy breakdown part is amazing and so is the clean vocalized part, but the transition between the two feels rushed. The thing with all their songs in general, I still feel like they can benefit from an extra 10-20 second instrumental break where the rock riffs can shine, along with the complex choreo that the girls do.

Even from listening to the instrumental version, the bridge transition feels abrupt. It’d be better if the palm muted riff was repeated with regular strums while the lead guitar did a more melodic solo. Some nasty licks are happening at that part and I was disappointed that it didn’t go anywhere else before the girls start singing again.

With that said, the rest of the song is still pretty epic. The vocalized bridge does rise gradually enough to help deliver the epicness of the final chorus. It’s complete with Siyeon doing some high pitched harmonizing, while the chorus has been modified to include instrumental break beats that emphasize percussive parts of the main vocals.

The outro leaves us with a gentle departure and Dami now saying she’s trapped in a nightmare, instead of a dream. There’s a cool visual for that part in the choreography, but I’ll let you see it for yourself in the dance version below.

The Video:
Well damn, where do I begin? Even if this music video is shot in brighter lighting and more vibrant colours, it still carries the weight of impending doom with it. Aptly so seeing as we finally get to see more about Dreamcatcher’s lives before they met their untimely fate.

It looks like it could have been a deliberate thing seeing as it starts off with Jiu capturing a spider, and Yoohyeon later in the video burning it to death. It has been confirme by the group that the spider was cursed and killing it put them in danger. But that’s quite curious seeing as there’s some strange happenings even before that sequence like Gahyeon being held down in bed by a bunch creepy hands. It’s reminscent of the forest scene from Good Night except it’s not happening out doors, and extra tatoo’d hand comes out to shut her eyes.

So I don’t know, man? Maybe the house was already haunted no matter what and killing that spider was just another way to curse it even further. Also curious is when Siyeon and Sua standing by the forest entrance, and at first they’re in their pyjamas, but later emerge with the hooded cloaks similar to the ones from Good Night.

I’m still racking my brain wondering if they have body doubles that kill them, or if they become those hooded figures themseles. It’s confusing considering  that at the end of the music video, it appears there’s already an old timey photograph of the girls. I guess we’re not supposed to know if it’s them, or just look alikes that have lived in the same house before them.

My theory is that the boarding school is cursed to operate in a strange time loop that involves spiritual dopplegangers that haunt their living duplicates. The dopplegangers either kill or posess the bodies of their victims to continue their bidding, and are in need of physical bodies to inhabit to do so. Otherwise they are just formless ghosts that roam the house.

That’s what I originally thought when Jiu catches another version of herself playing piano in a room before she starts running down the hallway and out of the house. Coupled with the confirmation of the cursed spider playing a big part in it, and not being just a random act of sadism on Yoohyeon’s part, it kind of confused me more than clarified things.

Either way, it’s fun to speculate what’s happening in a medium that presents all this imagery at such a fast pace so it definitely requires multiple viewings to fully understand. And why not? Fly High is an awesome song with an equally awesome music video. So awesome that it left out a lot of the choreography shots as always, so below is the pure dance version.

Hope you enjoyed my reviews! Let me know what your theories are on the narrative, or if you have some more canon info confirmed by Dreamcatcher themselves, I’d totally appreciate it.

Make sure to check out my reviews on Chase Me and Good Night, and if you like these songs, please support the group by purchasing their EP’s and mini-album at:

  1. iTunes
  2. Kpop Mart
  3. Yes Asia

P.S. Physical copies come with beautifull crafted photobooks, a randomized trading card, a poster and of course the CD itself. Either way you go, show your support and get these hard working girls up on the charts so we can more rockin K-Pop tunes from them!

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Delivering a Critique Burger

Isn’t that such a snobby name for a burger joint? You just picture all the customers criticizing every single bite of their burgers and saying, “meh. I’ve had better.” But it’s alright, that’s what the restaurant invites you to do in order to improve customer satisfaction!

Likewise with writing, receiving criticism can help improve one’s craft. Since writers usually expose the depths of their inner most desires and concerns within the world through the abstractions of fiction, receiving criticism may sometimes feel like it’s their entire personhood that is being criticized. Their work is an extention of themselves and so it may be hard for them to have emotional and objective distance from the glaring flaws that may be present in their work.

In order to keep a writer’s self-esteem in tact, and let them know you really are trying to help, use the Critique Burger style of delivery.

Imagine this burger represents your thoughts on a certain piece of work. The top and bottom buns are positive things you could say about a written piece, while everything in between represents the negative aspects that can be improved on. That is where the meat of criticism resides!

TOP BUN:

Since the top bun of the burger is bigger, this is where you should start off with huge compliments to help cushion the impending critique. It’s important to show that you understood what the piece was trying to convey in terms of emotional and philosophical themes.

For writers who like to write deep and meaningful stuff (such as myself), it is an absolute honour for readers to relay back to them what moral lessons they’re trying to instill their work with, or at least any subtle nuances that takes a clever mind to notice. So once you’ve begun your critique pointing out what the writer did right, you move on to the meat of the matter.

THE MEAT:

Pointing out the flaws in somebody’s work is the most juiciest and rewarding aspects of delivering criticism. When a writer opens themselves up for criticism, they must do it with the utmost humility and vulnerability–and the ones delivering the criticism must empathize with this–or the whole operation will stink. Sometimes the bearer of bad news lacks the tact to criticize effectively, the writer takes everything too personally, or a combination of both may occur, and that could lead to some sour interactions.

To increase your chances of keeping a critique session productive, keep in mind that constructive criticism comes in two forms: Conclusive Criticism and Inquisitive Criticism.

Conclusive Criticism

Conclusive Criticism comes in the form of bluntly telling the writer what may not be working out in their writing. This could be in the form of essays, poems, even memos, but since fiction is my forte, let’s focus on critiquing novels.

Every other form of writing will require criteria unique to each individual medium, but common criticisms for writing novels include:

  • Inconsistent plot points
  • Inconsistent characterization
  • Grammatical incoherence
  • Events or characters that don’t move the narrative forward
  • Verbal vomit that doesn’t serve the overall narrative
  • Scarce narrative that could use more detail
  • Pacing
  • Convoluted concepts
  • Lack of conflict
  • Lack of depth or direction
  • Lack of relatability/accessibility

…and much more. If you have some to add to this list–or a list for any other form of writing–feel free to leave a comment below!

At the meat of the matter, you’re basically given free reign to tell the writer where their story falls flat on its face so you can help them either trim the fat or fill in the gaps. Since most writing is rewriting, your criticisms (whether they’re rejected or accepted) are valuable in determining if there needs to be more or less–or a complete removal–of certain aspects in the piece.

Only by eliminating the fluff can you help a writer focus on where their story stands firmly on its feet, and gravitate towards strengthening the positive aspects you have pointed out in the top bun process.

Inquisitive Criticism

There have been times where I’ve opted for asking clarifying questions, instead of making any conclusive statements, in order to help fellow writers understand their own stories better. Inquisitive Criticism comes in the form of open ended questions that are designed to help a writer figure out the solutions to their work on their own terms.

This is my favourite method of giving and receiving criticism because who doesn’t love feeling like they’ve figured things out on their own? What gives me even greater joy is helping someone out without ever telling them what they need to do, because often times they already know somewhere deep inside, or just through Inquisitive Criticism do they figure it all out themselves.

The kinds of questions I’ve asked were in the lines of:

  • What kind of character is X supposed to be?
  • So then why did they do this instead of–?
  • Who is the character that contrasts their personality?
  • Why not put them in more scenes together?
  • What’s the importance of this scene?
  • What is your charater trying to achieve?
  • When was this particular scene foreshadowed?

BOTTOM BUN: 

Finally, at the end of your critique, you could restate the positive aspects you’ve already touched upon, or you can quickly mention a few more surface level positives. These could include word choice, notable dialogue, notable narrative points, or simply saying that you liked it as a whole. Coming full circle, this is where you can also state that if you did X, it could help embellish aspect Y of your story, and therefore Z can happen more logically.

Build Your Own Burger

Just like a real burger, people customize what they like to put in between the buns in conjunction with the meat. Likewise, you can choose between Conclusive and Inquisitive Criticism or combine them to your liking, and it will always ultimately be up to the writer whether to implement or discard your criticisms to the best of their judgement.

Understanding the the burger method of delivering criticism increases the guarantee of having your criticisms considered. Even if the writer doesn’t end up taking your advice, they will at least be given a lot to think about in the realm of possibilities.

“Constructive criticisms are merely suggestions, not commandments.”

How to apply this to your life:

Delivering a Critique Burger can immensely help you in having your opinions valued, either in a writing workshop or any other aspect in your life. This could range from personal to business relationships, and providing feedback this way will help others know that you recognize their merits, while also noting that there can be some improvements they can make so they become the best versions of themselves. Likewise, receiving criticism in this fashion will also give you an interesting and objective perspective on yourself where a variety of aspects can be considered and worked on.

Why this exercise is important:

Let’s face it, nobody’s perfect and nobody gets everything right the first time. With a little constructive criticism, we can help each other improve in many aspects in life. There is so much I could say as to why this exercise is important, but I think the ending quote of this post will be sufficient.

“We all have blind spots, but thankfully we don’t have the same ones.” – Stefan Molyneux

What are other methodologies of delivering criticism that you have found useful?

What did you think of the burger method? Do you believe that it could be helpful? If not, why not?

Whatever your thoughts are, I’m interested!

Feel free to criticize this very article if you’d like!