Another Day, Another Dubstep
First and foremost, we need to recognize that Chad Future is using Dubstep in the chorus of “Rock the World.” We’ve already written extensively on the Dubstep trend in Kpop, so let’s just dig into why it matters for this song. At the most basic level, when the Dubstep beat kicks in, the vocals drop into a lower frequency, taking them out of the range in which we’re used to hearing them. Because of this, Chad Future sounds weird.
Dubstep, as you probably know, makes heavy use of sub-bass sounds, or sounds in the lowest frequencies that humans can hear. And as you might be able to guess, we’re not that good at distinguishing sounds in the sub-bass range. It’s why bass sounds have to be amplified so much, and why the bass on a speaker is five times larger than the tweeter. It’s not just that Chad Future sounds different than we’re used to in “Rock the World,” it’s that his vocals are entering our ears at a different frequency, one in which we’re not able to pick up as much detail. Listen to the chorus again: do the vocals feel flat? It’s a similar sensation to listening to music in the low-pressure environment of an airplane (and the same concept too!).
Okay, so what? If Dubstep uses a low frequency, then why didn’t producer Tom Coyne leave the vocals alone? Good question! The answer is probably a simple one, though: Dubstep doesn’t play well with friends. It’s extremely difficult to incorporate Dubstep into a song that uses vocals as a driving element (every Kpop song we’ve ever heard uses vocals as a driving element). But Chad Future wanted Dubstep, so he got it. The trade-off is a chorus in a low frequency range. Think of it like a very low-pitched harmony.
We’ll be honest, it irks us. It makes us mad because “Rock the World” is a good song. It would be a great song if the chorus were more of an anthem. Instead, the vocals are stagnant at the most crucial moment.
Compare and Contrast
The best way to illustrate what is happening in “Rock the World” is by comparing it to other music. Fortunately, Kevin Rudolf’s “Let It Rock” offers a perfect opportunity for comparison. Let’s focus directly on the chorus of each song - they’re remarkably similar in what they’re trying to accomplish. Both are aiming for a rock anthem with an underlying hip hop beat. The big difference is Dubstep.
Listen to the bass (instrument) in Rudolf’s chorus. It’s laid down just beneath his vocals throughout the entire chorus, but it never overpowers him. It complements, it completes. On the other hand, Chad Future’s bass is the sub-bass of Dubstep. It’s more audible than his voice. Because of the lowering of the frequency of his vocals, it’s hard to even distinguish what notes Chad Future is hitting, making it impossible for his voice to drive the music.
And for a song that is striving to be an anthem, you have to have strong vocals. An anthem isn’t about a drum machine or wobble bass. It’s about emotion. And the clearest register of emotion is always going to be the human voice. When Kevin Rudolf belts out his anthem, we feel it. When Chad Future belts his, we reach for a Q-tip.