Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: F.T. Island–“Like Birds”

F.T. Island’s remake of “Like Birds” is not actually a Hitchcock horror film.

Did you like the song?
So this is a very interesting premise, because F.T. Island is straight-up remaking a song. It’s been done to exhaustion in the American pop industry, but I don’t think I’ve heard about it in the Korean industry yet. Here’s the original, a pretty song by ballad singer Byeon Jin Seop in 1988:

Simple, just a few instruments, great chorus.

The problem with remaking older songs is that the newer ones are inevitably going to be compared to the older ones, and the pressure is on the remake to be not only different but better. Otherwise why would you bother remaking it?

In comparing the two, both are, yes, very listenable, easy to sing along to songs, and both are good. But F.T. Island’s seems so…busy, I suppose is the right word, in comparison to the original. So many unnecessary frills and raps and electric guitar riffs. And all this stuff just serves to confuse and obscure the original sweet, simple meaning of the lyrics. It doesn’t match what is essentially an introspective, wistful song about wanting to escape the suffocating city life and return to nature, to be as free as birds. Then F.T. Island is driving around in Hummers and smiling and laughing and playing their electric guitars and making big arm motions when they talk about flying like birds and escaping from the city, and it just makes me feel like they didn’t get it.

What was your favorite part of the song?
I like the chorus and the high note there (when Hongki sings “jayuropge,” or “freely”). But here’s another thing about this song, because apparently I haven’t ranted enough: I don’t think it really shows off Hongki’s voice as well as I would like. In my favorite song of F.T. Island’s, “Love Love Love,” I get a better sense of his range and power, and I wish they could have displayed how awesome a singer he is in this song, too. That’s what happens when you don’t perform songs tailor-made for you; they ignore the best parts.

F.T. Island Like Birds members

Seunghyun, Jaejin, Minhwan, Hongki, and Jonghun.

Does the English make you want to rip your eardrums out?
There’s more English in here than I realized my first few times listening to it, mainly during the raps. (“Oh yes, I wanna touch the cloud,” “Let’s get out, out,” “Fly high,” etc.) While the actual grammar is great, the pronunciation needs a lot of work.

Did you like the video?
Knowing absolutely nothing about this song before I watched the music video, based solely on the title (Like Birds), I was expecting this to be a horror remake of the Hitchcock movie “The Birds.” I was pretty concerned that the video would be F.T. Island getting attacked by wild flocks of birds. So I’m glad that didn’t happen.

But instead we got this dull road trip in a Hummer or Jeep or whatever.

F.T. Island Like Birds road trip

Doesn’t F.T. Island know how bad those are for the environment?

Was there a storyline? If so, did it make sense?
F.T. Island is stuck in this nasty shack with cobwebs and broken windows over everything. I guess they’re practicing and reading sheet music.

F.T. Island Like Birds shack

Can’t even afford chairs for three of them…

Then then get sick of it and drive to the wilderness, throwing their sheet music away as they do, and set up camp in another shack after they kick Boyfriend out.

F.T. Island Like Birds shack

Can’t even afford siding…

These groups seriously need to hire a cleaning person and someone to patch up the roof. What will they do when winter comes?

Anyway, they eventually get sick of that and say, “Whatever, we’ll just set up camp in the desert.”

F.T. Island Like Birds desert

Okay, how are they getting electricity out there? Did they bring a generator along? Why would you do this?

So I guess this is F.T. Island’s way of symbolically saying that they don’t need no stinkin’ score; they’ll be free as birds when it comes to their music. Except that they’re remaking a song, so I don’t know how valid that would be.

Was the dance cool and distinctive?
No dance except for some random hand gestures, but I do have to say their playing (especially Minhwan on the drums) looks awesome.

F.T. Island Like Birds Minhwan drums

How awesome would these guys be live?

Do the members look good?
Of course. And now yet another rant! I think that F.T. Island needs to clarify what exactly they are. Are they a rock band or an idol group? If it’s the first, then it’s pretty acceptable for a rock band’s lead singer to be on camera more than other members. Sometimes in rock bands the lead singer is the only one on camera, though it’s often because the others are less comfortable and charismatic or just don’t want to be filmed. But if they’re an idol group, the camera time should be shared pretty much equally by all five members. To me, it seems that F.T. Island debuted intending to be a rock band but has slowly moved towards being an idol group whose members play instruments. I prefer that because I hate when one person is onscreen most of the time and the others are hardly there at all. Even comedians at gag concerts have made fun of F.T. Island because of this—is it Hongki and the Islanders or is it F.T. Island?

F.T. Island Like Birds members

Seunghyun, Hongki, Minhwan, Jaejin, and Jonghun.

Which member stood out the most?
I’m not going to lie to you and say that Hongki didn’t stand out most. He’s very attractive, and it’s hard not to stand out when you get that much screentime. However, I do like that in this video, the other members were given much more camera time than I’m used to. I think F.T. Island is approaching screentime equality, though they’re not there yet.

F.T. Island Like Birds Hongki

Hongki, croon to me, baby.

I definitely appreciated Jaejin’s blonde hair, though. Even though I don’t think it really suits him, it helped me learn his name quickly.

F.T. Island Like Birds Jaejin blonde


Do you like it enough to buy the song?
Sorry, not this time. But I do love the chorus.

Any ending thoughts?
Wow, it seems I’ve been pretty harsh on F.T. Island here. Sorry about that; I am a fan of theirs, and I just want them to be the best they can be. No matter what, though, it’s still damn impressive that they play their own instruments, and I’m very grateful that they’ve lead the way so that other bands like CNBlue can show how talented they are, too.

Boyfriend’s one-liner:
“Remember, kids, please don’t litter.” [He’s talking about FT Island throwing their scores into the air as they drive.]

Thanks for reading! Please share your comments below! :)


  1. Thanks for answering my request for the review! I kinda get that you feel they didn't portray the original feeling of the song, but they were essentially making a rock version of the original so if they didn't add some frills and trills here and their, it would be too simple and too similar to the original, no? Anyway, I honestly really loved the song, especially the chorus cause when listening to it, it makes me smile and feel happy however bad a mood I'm in, even if it isn't what I would call epic or anything. And its nice to see FT Island do an upbeat title song for a change cause they normally have quite dark and sorrowful ones.

    Btw, if you haven't heard the other songs in the album, I recommend that you do cause most of them are simpler and really allow their vocals to shine. It also includes the song which FT Island remade for Immortal Song 2 called That Person in Shinsadong, and they won! Now that song is what I would call epic....

  2. I still like both versions, but, I don't know, I guess I just think they shouldn't have to re-make songs, especially when the rock sound doesn't necessarily match the lyrics. FT Island deserves new material that was written just for them.

    Thanks for recommending other songs of theirs! I will definitely check out That Person in Shinsadong, especially if it's epic! Sounds good! :D

  3. I do get what you mean. Anyway, not to worry, this remake album was just meant to be a little treat for the fans apparently. They're apparently following up with an original album soon, so lets look forward to that. And yes, you definitely must check out the other songs in the album! (Oh and if you're listening to That Person in Shinsadong, I would recommend that you watch the performance at Immortal Song 2 cause it was completely live (finally they get to play their instruments!), and hearing it live is the best!)

  4. Oooh, an original album sounds great! Okay, I'm fine if they were just treating fans. (I ACCEPT THEIR TREAT, lol.) Aaaah, links!!! Thank you! *watches*

    Yay, they get to play their instruments! Okay, was it them or CN Blue who were onstage and even though they COULD play, they weren't allowed to and had to fake play because they couldn't plug in everything on time? Ooh, that made me so mad, seriously. Get them their own stage, they deserve it!

    You're right, this song is beautiful.
    Hongki's nails lol; yay, this song is great at showing off his voice.
    OMG is that Junsu? Clearly I need to watch Immortal Song 2...
    I like all the reaction shots.
    Aaaah, so pretty! I love when the song crescendos, noooo, don't end.

    Awesome!!! Loved it. :D

  5. Thank you for this very interesting review, I hope you will find time to review more FTISLAND songs :)

  6. Thank you for your kind words! I definitely will! :)