With one of the most anticipated comebacks of the year, Big Bang have returned with a double single, finally completing the MADE album. This album, perhaps one of the most legendary (and at one stage, mythical) ones in all KPOP, has been years in the making. It’s the band’s first full album since 2008. It was first teased to VIPs (Big Bang’s fanclub) and the rest of the world a couple of years ago, and we have been getting singles and music videos since then, but not the complete album. Until now.

The road to “MADE” has been a long one, with various double singles being released since early 2015, with the “M” series (containing the tracks “Loser” and “Bae Bae”), followed by the “A” (“Bang Bang Bang” and “We Like 2 Party”), “D” (“If You” and “Sober”) and “E” (“Zutter” and “Let’s not fall in love”).  Even after all these singles, the MADE album was no closer to being released, so when it was finally announced that TOP was going to be enlisting for his mandatory military service early in 2017, VIPs were understandably worried about the state of the album. YG Entertainment responded by teasing a Big Bang comeback. As many a longtime YG stan will tell you, don’t believe anything YG says until you can physically see it! But in this case, YG came through and we have the final songs from the MADE album, and one last hurrah for the guys before enlistment.

FXXk It

Song

I couldn’t watch this when it was immediately released, so the anticipation was killing me by the time I got to see it later in the release day. The initial impression of this song was not a very strong one though. I kept expecting the “drop” and for the chorus to kick harder than it does. It’s much softer than I was anticipating for the final single from “MADE”. I was hoping for something much more raucous, something like “Bang Bang Bang”.

However, as the song moves on, it worms its way into your body. It settled in a place that is intrinsically Big Bang, and not only in the composition, but also in the lyrics. For example, TOP’s verse speaks of the lonely position he finds himself in, the label of “Playboy” hanging metaphorically around his neck. He finds delight in the girl that didn’t know his reputation and wants to have a relationship. Even though they compliment each other, they are doomed from the beginning, as he can’t help but sabotage it. So Fxxk it.

Big Bang, why you hurt my heart like this?

I could write about how amazing they sound, but you know that already. Daesung, this is your song my man!

The song is such a perfect winter release. It’s slow and steady, and grabs you insistently, but gently. I didn’t love it the first time I heard it. In fact, I was sort of off put by it. It was such a distinct difference from what I was expecting, but having heard it several times now, it’s earned its spot in my playlist of 2016.

Video

Matching the understated feeling of the song, the video for “FXXk It” is quintessentially Big Bang. Lots of walking, lots of playing, zero to minute amounts of choreography. Perfect for TOP. My friends and I often joke that the bigger the KPOP band, the fewer dances they must do, and Big Bang is always the example we use! This video is certainly all of that. They seem to be having lots of fun together and it makes me happy that even after all this time, they are still happy to be in each other’s company. The scene of them on the 5-seater bicycle is the absolute best. Seungri’s smile and Daesung’s horrified face when they go off balance gets me smiling each time I see it, and TOP’s grin at the end seals it.

It’s on the simpler side as MV’s go, especially after so many high concept MVs this year (looking at you, BTS). Its refreshing to see a group of guys just having a good time, without needing a notebook and a Master’s degree in Cryptography to understand what is happening. There isn’t a story. There isn’t a code. There’s none of that. Just them, singing.

My favourite part of the MV is the shot of them lying under the tree. It’s only approximately 10 seconds long, but the lighting is fantastic. It’s got a soft glow to it that makes the whole scene seem nostalgic, almost innocent. The bare branches with the clusters of fruit is visually striking.

Last Dance

Song

I think this song can be best summed up with my notes from my first watch of this:

-Already liking this better

-Daesung and Seungri killing it

-GD singing, yaaaaaas

-TOP though!!! OUT OF NOWHERE!!!

-Actual crying

I needed to pause the video once TOP came on. I was not expecting him to sing, at all. I know that he is self conscious about his singing voice, and he should not be! It is easily the best part of this song. His voice is deep and a little jagged, and just works perfectly for the sad earnestness of “Last Dance”. The song is beautifully arranged and shows off the members’ talents in a way that plays to each of their strengths. I would like if Daesung and Seungri got a few more lines, but I think this song fits where Big Bang finds themselves now perfectly.

The lyrics are poignant and touching, again dealing with a sense of loneliness and isolation that the members find themselves in, this time left behind by a world that seems to continually demand more of them. What they had, and who they were, doesn’t seem to match with what the world wants, and they just want one more chance to prove themselves. Just one final dance to remember what they had.

With TOP’s upcoming mandatory service, this song is even more heart breaking. It’s always a sad moment when male idols must enlist, and serve their country. KPOP has become so big over the last number of years that this is quite a large fan base’s first time seeing their idol off. It’s certainly not the end for Big Bang, but things will be different for a long time. GD will be next, followed by Taeyang. It’s going to be some time before we have all five members performing together once this promotion cycle is over.

Video

Remember how I said in “FXXk It” that the story was simple, and that there was no overarching plot and the whole thing was really simple and that I enjoyed it? “Last Dance” is the complete opposite in terms of the MV. The whole tone is very different. GD is striking in a red tinged colourless scene, the black and white working perfectly. Taeyang has a muted green colour with vague hints of blue and white accents in his scene. Seungri’s entrance is yellow-golden, with bright white lights in the distance. TOP is drowned in blue tones, everything from his hair to the walls and Daesung is bathed in a purple urban wasteland. The different lighting makes the video feel isolated, like each member is disconnected from the others, walking their own paths. Masterful lighting work by the cinematographer.

The rotating camera works well with this isolated concept. It makes the viewer feel disconnected from what they are watching. I’ve seen somewhere that someone has stabilised the video, and stopped the camera rotating, but I think that would be a disservice to the video. It plays such an important role!

But the part that seals this MV for me as one of their best, is TOP at the end. The sounds of fans cheering as he sings, coupled with him tearing up and smiling softly at the camera broke my heart. I’m a pretty big softie at the best of times, but this had me full on sobbing. The lyrics, the song, the whole situation with Big Bang has made this one of their iconic videos, and iconic songs.

Comeback

One of my absolute favourite things about KPOP is the comebacks. I get so hyped for almost every comeback, even for bands that I’m not really into. I love seeing what concept they have or what the new sound is. Big Bang is no exception. I was so excited to see what they would drop, and I was not disappointed. For my reasons listed above, this is one of my favourite comebacks of the year. They sound incredible, the songs fit where they are right now, both personally and professionally. Their look is very “Big Bang” (take from that what you will, but damn, I am here for Daesung’s sparkly jacket). I cannot wait to see their stages on music shows. YG never disappoints with their stages, and for kings of KPOP, its going to be spectacular.

The double singles compliment each other perfectly and I can’t imagine just one without the other at this point. I think the comeback would always have been successful – it’s Big Bang – but these songs just fit each other so well.  Everything is just so Big Bang about them. Perfect, perfect, perfect comeback.