by Crystal S. Anderson, PhD
2PM’s albums consistently blend R&B-inspired tracks and party songs.
Reviewers do not have consensus on 01:59PM (2009), 2PM’s first album, and Go Crazy (2014). Critical response to the first album suggests that the group was still looking to establish its sound and make use of the individual talents of its members. Reviewers liked the promotional track, “Heartbeat,” as well as the non-promotional track, “I Was Crazy About You.” Random J says: ““The military style drums line and smooth piano melody provide a nice musical back drop and the 2PM boys sound strong. This is probably the song on the album where their vocals are strongest” (Random J-pop). Yeeun focuses on the rhythm: “The steady bass riff physically causes my heart to race as if my pulse was attempting to catch up with the beat of the song” (Yeeun2Grace). Reviewers of Go Crazy liked the title track, “Go Crazy,” as well as the non-promotional track “Mine,” linking it to artists like Michael Jackson and Prince. A reviewer for Adrienne Stanley says the song “delivers the album into the territory of ’90s inspired R&B, with lyrics by Chansung and Taecyeon. The track channels the sound of artists like Michael Jackson, in a unique and infectious way” (KPopStarz). L suggests that the song “caters to an adult party where everything is slow and sexy. I’m especially partial to the falsetto throughout the chorus as a nod to legendary funk artist, Prince.” (Critical K-pop).
Grown (2013) is 2PM’s most favorably reviewed album. There is critical consensus for “A.D.T.O.Y. (All Day I Think About You )” and “Come Back When You Hear This Song”, but reviewers liked several other tracks on the album. 2PM reaches a sonic achievement with the ballad “Love Song.” Cheyanne draws attention to the unique rhythm: ““The beat behind their singing in this song is really different to the average K-pop fan. It has this live band vibe to it even though there wasn’t a live band present” (Soju and Koolaid). Krusty95 focuses on the vocals: “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” (The World of Krusty). With “I’m Sorry,” 2PM solidifies its R&B credentials. Cheyanne notes: “I have to say, they really made a great song for the R&B fans out there. I would never expect a group like 2PM to pull off a song like this. All their voices fit really well with the beat. The harmonizing that is done by some members during their parts add a special, nostalgic feeling to those fans who like music like this.” seoulbeats focuses on the vocals: “Those slides and slight harmonies in the chorus are to die for. For once, I don’t actually want to chuck the rap out the window, because here, it provides a nice break in all the “smooth like butter” vocal lines.”
Hands Up (2011) was equally well-received. In addition to its titular track, the album also features several tracks that attracted reviewers attention. Jessie Zhao declares “Like a Movie” the best track of the album: “It starts out all calm and soothing with the members’ beautiful vocals. A gorgeous piano melody is slowly combined with snare drums and the feeling builds up. This track could have easily been labeled as another ballad that a group inserts just for the heck of it, but with the harmonious vocals from 2PM and amazing composition, this track is able to stand out” (Ningin). Arnold Artega describes “Don’t You Know” as a quintessential K-pop song: “It’s not trying too hard to sound Western like a lot of Kpop tends to do. Instead, 2PM polishes what Korean pop music is all about and lays down some catchy (but not gimmicky) melodies that are less pretentious and way more fun to jive to” (One Kpop).
However, 2PM has also mastered the up-tempo party track. “Magic” from No.5 (2015) foregrounds its instrumentation. Eric_r_wirsing notes the song ““starts with insistent horns and has an urgent tone to it. It never loses its body-moving groove throughout, and there’s some hints of guitars in here as well. It’s a powerful, catchy tune and is just what the doctor ordered to shake things up some” (allkpop). Elaine Lewis echoes this sentiment: “The horns used in the song were amazing and definitely sped the tempo a little bit giving it a sense of urgency. The lyrics are also very flirty and playful” (Amino Apps).
Spotlight Tracks: 1. Heartbeat | 2. Go Crazy | 3. I Was Crazy About You | 4. Mine | 5. Love Song | 6. A.D.T.O.Y (All Day I Think About You | 7. I’m Sorry | 8. Come Back When You Hear This Song | 9. Magic | 10. Like A Movie | 11. Don’t You Know
“2PM – Grown (Photoshoot).” K-pop. 10 May 2013. http://kpop-u-luv.blogspot.com/2013/05/2pm-grown-photoshoot.html. (7 Aug 2016)
Artega, Arnold. 2012. “[Review] ‘Hands Up’ by 2PM.” Review of Hands Up, by 2PM. One Kpop, January 23, http://onekpop.com/693/review-hands-up-by-2pm/.
Cheyanne. 2013. “A Review on 2PM’s Album: Grown.” Review of Grown, by 2PM. Soju and Koolaid, May, http://sojuandkoolaid.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-review-on-2pms-album-grown.html.
Eric_r_wirsing. 2015. “[Album Review] 2PM.” Review of No. 5, by 2PM. allkpop, June 15, http://www.allkpop.com/review/2015/06/album-review-2pm-no-5.
Guest. 2013. “2PM, Let’s See How Much You’ve Grown.” Review of Grown, by 2PM. seoulbeats, May13, http://seoulbeats.com/2013/05/2pm-lets-see-how-much-youve-grown/.
Krusty95. “2PM ‘Grown’ Album Review.” Review of Grown, by 2PM. The World of Krusty, June 11, https://theworldofkrusty.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/2pm-grown-album-review/.
L. 2014. “Review: 2PM’s Go Crazy!” Review of Go Crazy, by 2PM. Critical K-pop, October 10, http://www.criticalkpop.com/2014/10/review-2pms-go-crazy.html.
Lewis, Elaine. 2016. “2PM – No.5 Album Review.” Review of No.5, by 2PM. K-pop Amino, January 9, http://aminoapps.com/page/k-pop/9888602/2pm-no-5-album-review.
Random J. 2010. “Album Review: 2PM – 1:59PM.” Review of 01:50PM, by 2PM. Random JPop, January 4, http://randomjpop.blogspot.com/2010/01/album-review-2pm-159pm.html.
Stanley, Adrienne. 2014. “Album Review: 2PM Delivers Jazzy Party Tracks on ‘Go Crazy![Audio].” Review of Go Crazy, by 2PM. KPopStarz, Sept 15, http://www.kpopstarz.com/articles/111688/20140915/album-review-2pm-delivers-jazzy-party-tracks-on-go-crazy-audio.htm.
The Music of 2PM by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.