BIG BANG’s 1st full length Japanese album, entitled Number 1, was released on 10.22.08. How Gee, Baby Baby and Always, songs from their previous mini albums, are included on this album along with new songs for the group’s first full album.
The album opens with Intro, an upbeat hip-hop blasting number. The song starts off very abruptly with a little rap to introduce the song but it’s the first actual rap that comes across the smoothest as it entices the listener and leaves them wanting more. The lyrics are entirely in English and it definitely has that catchy feeling that just makes you want to dance.
Following the introduction is the title track, Number 1, another song sung completely in English. The song begins with an absolutely hot and sleek instrumental with some electronic influences and immediately the listener is taken on a ride. The first rap sequence is delivered by T.O.P. and G-Dragon and it’s really G-Dragon’s voice that stands out as there’s a certain energy and spark to it that just is so grabbing. Soon the singing starts with Seung Ri on the hook, showcasing some smooth and sexy vocals that slide over the music. It continues on into the chorus as the vocals continue to prevail and keep the listener interested. T.O.P. and G-Dragon go together again on the second verse and yet again, G-Dragon manages to shine the most. Number 1 is a fantastically catchy song that the boys really deliver on, particularly G-Dragon.
Things then slow down for the third song, Make Love. The opening instrumental really gives a smooth and comforting atmosphere and once the first verse begins, the beat becomes more clear. One of the song’s strongest points is that the vocalizing perfectly suits the song by putting the emotions to the forefront. Although the singing is wonderful, the rapping sections aren’t particularly captivating. G-Dragon does do a good job of at least suiting to the music a little better but the rapping is still not a very good fit for the song. Make Love is a very nice way for the boys to show they can bring the tempo down and still shine.
We come back for more sexy upbeat music for Come Be My Lady. Once again, the moment the instrumentation begins, the listener is captivated. The rapping during the first verse is wonderful as they are able to deliver the lyrics with rapidity and sleekness, perfectly matching the music. All the vocalists on the chorus do a really good job of keeping some good vocals without getting lost in the music. The one misstep with the song is that it’s so short, clocking in at under three minutes but for the time that the song lasts, the boys do a very good job of keeping the listener interested.
Next is Haru Haru, another slow number. The piano serves as the central instrument and it also provides the song with an emotional connection. With the first couple vocalizations, it sounds really awkward because they almost sound like their gasping for air. However once the first verse comes in, the beat becomes painfully clear and it helps the rappers sound more comfortable on the track. T.O.P. sounds really strange on the song because his voice sounds so rough in comparison with the music. Luckily, the song excels on the chorus when the vocalizations show that the boys feel the emotions of the song so well. Overall it’s an enjoyable song that the listener can pick up particularly during the singing parts.
Once again, we are treated to another upbeat number with With U. This time, the opening vocalizations sounds great and portray a certain sexiness that almost sounds like inviting moaning. Then the first verse begins and Tae Yang steps up to really entice the listener with a sleek rap section that is in perfect harmony with the music. The hook sounds great as the sining takes center stage to mesh with the music so nicely. It’s the chorus that really stands out as the boys sing “I wanna rock with you, dance you with…run around in the rain with you” and the vocals here go together so well that the listener cannot help but fall in love with them. Dae Sung continues to bring that sexual energy that fuels this song and his vocals are fantastic. The pure instrumental section is heavenly as the listener really gets the chance to fall into the hot music. Of course G-Dragon does a great job on his rap section and lets the listener fall in love all over again. With U is a perfect song, one of the album’s best offerings and a definite memorable song from BIG BANG.
How Gee is a song that shows a different side of BIG BANG as there are some uptempo jazzy influences that drive the instrumentation. The first rap sequence is a very nice fit for the music as it sounds so different from but still having that cool swagger that makes it pop. The chorus does come across as a little repetitive as they repeat “raise the roof” but the vocalizations in the background propel the song very nicely. With the various rap sections of the song, it definitely stands out and the music is a nice experiment for the boys to take on.
Keeping the energy up is the next song, Baby Baby. Much like songs such as With U and Number 1, the opening instrumentation with a hot beat immediately takes the listener. The chorus stands out as the music remains creative and the vocals stay with the music strongly, particularly on the “girl” note when they reach a little higher. Interestingly enough, the song doesn’t take off with a rap section but some singing delivered with rapidity to stand out. G-Dragon then comes in with a rap section that sounds fantastic as usual. Baby Baby is another catchy number that allows the boys to do what they do best, bring the edge on upbeat songs.
So Beautiful keeps the sleek energy for the listener to enjoy. The repeated “and you don’t stop,” which continuously grows in distortion introduces the song nicely before some pure instrumentation brings the listener into the world of the song. On the chorus, the music remains interesting but the vocals are a little bit dry so it comes across just a little bland. This continues on the first verse when the vocals have a certain coolness about them but they don’t possess that sleek energy that the boys can bring and make the music pop even more. Luckily G-Dragon comes to the rescue nearing the end of the song as his rap section brings everything to the top. So Beautiful really stands out for the interesting music although the vocals should have carried more edge to match the music.
Remember is a slow jam and while the vocals are nice, the music leaves a little to be desired. There really isn’t much to be said but G-Dragon is stellar as always and grabs the listener for at least a few moments. Although it’s a nice song, it’s nothing to brag about.
The next song, Heaven, is even more forgettable than Remember. Unfortunately, the music is lacking that spark and the vocals are still lacking that edge that the boys are usually so good at bringing. It just comes across as another boring slow jam.
Finally we come to another interesting track with Everything. The opening instrumental possesses such a mysterious atmosphere that the listener is lulled into the cool atmosphere. When the boys come in to sing on the vocals, a sexual air comes through as their voices sound smooth and sexy. The chorus lacks a little bit of that energy but it’s still enjoyable as there is almost a certain cuteness about it through the lyrics. As always, G-Dragon does his thing and makes the song even more enjoyable. Everything is a very nice way of picking the album up and entertaining the listener.
Always is an interesting song because the music has its very cool moments and its quite bland moments but the boys’ vocals consistently remain strong. It’s a nice song but the music just swings too much between being strong and weak to really keep the listener fulfilled all the way through.
Bringing the album to a close is Candle – Together Forever (Japanese Version). It definitely wasn’t the way to close the album because it’s quite the forgettable ballad. The vocals are nice but the music isn’t enticing or emotional enough to capture the listener.
Album Ranking: A –
Number 1 is a great album, particularly notable for the upbeat numbers like With U, Number 1 and Baby Baby. The boys are able to bring that cool edge, sexual energy or the emotional presence depending on the song and this album proves it. If there’s one star of this album it’s G-Dragon as his voice just does such a great job of suiting all the songs. As the boys’ first full length album, BIG BANG did a wonderful job and it’s definitely worth checking out.