[Review] Breaking Out – Dream Catcher

The last few weeks I haven’t been able to focus on the Japanese reviews due to being a bit busy. But I have finally set aside some time to start attacking the pile that is growing. I am going to start on the more recent side of the spectrum, focusing on the Dream Catcher’s music video release last week. The new single is titled Breaking Out and it is the lead title track on their first-ever Japanese studio album, The Beginning Of The End. The album also features the Japanese version of all their Korean title tracks. The group also just made their Korean comeback with Deja Vu.

When I first heard the first verse, I thought it would be such a waste of an opportunity for the group not to venture into that rock sound that they have maintained in all of their Korean title tracks. Especially since I (and a lot of other people) have described it to be fitting for the Japanese music scene. But I thought too soon, as the chorus is essentially exactly what I wanted. And while the chorus does pack a punch thanks for its rock sound, I found the verses to be very forgettable. It felt boring in comparison to the chorus and I was obviously longing for that rush of energy and intensity. I thought their singing was good but Dami’s rapping didn’t feel like it fitted in well with the rest of the track. I feel like they could have polished Dami’s section in, as it is sticking out a little too much for my liking. Overall, Breaking Out was okay. I just don’t feel like it is up to par with their Korean releases, which is a little odd given my past comments regarding their ability to fit into the Japanese music scene.

I thought the video was nice. I liked the white set and the red strings were felt bold as a result. I think the dull atmosphere was rather fitting, as it gave the girls an edgier look. I know, it isn’t something that I would say when it comes to something dull. But I thought it worked fine in this video. There is a lot of symbolism, but I think I will leave it up to the fans to decipher this video. Overall, I liked it and wouldn’t mind watching it again.

I thought the performance looked quite cool as well. It doesn’t feel as intense as their Korean performances, but I think that can be blamed more on the actual song. After all, the dance can only be created with the song in mind. There seemed to be some elegance present during the slower sections of the song and then a little more fierceness when it came to the chorus.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

[Review] Happiness – Pentagon

I wasn’t planning on doing any Japanese reviews this week. This was partly encouraged by the lack of new releases (I do plan to go back to some other Japanese releases in the coming weeks). But then Pentagon dropped their music video for Happiness. And I didn’t want to neglect more Japanese reviews. So today, we will be delving into their latest release. The group previously returned to Japan with Cosmos and more recently returned to Korea with Humph!.

Happiness is another typical pop track. Interestingly, I thought the song delved into more KPOP roots, rather than particular JPOP sound that we all know of. Despite that possible crossover, there isn’t anything new within the song breaking ground, especially considering the group’s discography. The song did lose that carefree and easy-going vibe that I have noticed Pentagon has been pulling off since Shine. But this loss did not amount to anything new. Apart from that, Happiness does manage to include a nice hook that made the song catchy. That post-chorus was probably my favourite part. The vocals were good but I felt the rapping managed to etch forward by being a little more dynamic in nature. The instrumental was rather plain, upon reflection, which gave the song that typical vibe. I think there is enough done by the members to make the song ‘relatively okay’ as opposed to disappointment. The ending was probably the most questionable part, with their pronunciation of the title, Happiness. I had to replay the ending a number of times to confirm if I heard it right. I think this mistake has been done before in the KPOP/JPOP world due to the way syllables were emphasised. But you would expect the group to nail the title of the song in a non-questionable manner.

The music shows the members as office members. Pretty much done with their jobs and in a much needed of a holiday. All of a sudden (might be part of their imagination), they are transported to the beach and have from then on. We later see them partying on in the office, which supports my imagination theory. It is a rather typical video when I try to describe it. But it looked rather fun and suiting the Summer season. Not much else to say here.

The choreography was good. Once again, it aligns with the rest of the choreographies and performances from the week, which just wasn’t captivating enough for me. I did like some moments but I don’t think they are worth my time going through as they didn’t make it as captivating as I would have liked it to be.

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[Review] X-Phenomenon – Monsta X

Monsta X is one of the (now) many groups leading the charge of KPOP into North America and the world! The group recently embarked on a world tour after wrapping up their Alligator promotions. Despite that heavy schedule, the group released the Japanese version of Alligator back in May, featured on the animated We Bare Bears TV show and released a number of English tracks including Who Do U Love?. And now, the group has returned back to Japan with a brand new original single, X-Phenomenon, which is due for an official release in August.

To me, there are two versions of Monsta X converging for the release of X-Phenomenon. The verses showcase a current form of Monsta X. There was intensity to the verses but it felt like the type of sound we would have gotten from the group over the last few years. The more melodic sections prior to the chorus give an opportunity for the vocalists to shine (due to the makeup of the song) and is a newer side of Monsta X we haven’t seen in a title track yet. But I would put this with current Monsta X. Once we launch into the dubstep heavy chorus, it is like we were launched back to the early days of Monsta X. The instrumental is a lot more mature and tame in comparison to their earlier releases. But I feel a similar vibe and kick coming from it. I think the rappers shined brightly in the song. Their respective sections definitely had the most oomph to it, which I really liked. Personally, I liked their many change-ups in this song. Though, I wasn’t a fan of them standalone. Also, since the song wraps up in literally 3 minutes, it felt quite short, which was a little disappointing for me.

Best editing award for a music video this year has to go to this video. based on the shot footage, I didn’t get too much of an edgy vibe, which was called for by the song. But it was the editing that compensated for this. The framing, the transition, the overlays. It was like the editor turned a dial to amp up the edginess of the music video and succeeded by turning that dial to the right degree. I also like the member’s visuals for this music video.

The dancing is quite cool. From what I saw in the music video, the majority of their moves manage to pack a punch and channel the song’s energy appropriately. Not sure about how the ‘slow parts’ of the song will turn out but I am assuming that it will be channelling he appropriate energy levels as well.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Review] Lights – BTS

It is completely surprising to see how far BTS has led the industry. They started as a group from a small agency and are now global stars throughout the world. And while they are at the forefront of the KPOP industry, this hasn’t stopped them from focusing on their JPOP market venture. A few weeks back, BTS made their Japanese comeback with a brand new single, Lights. The single is featured alongside the Japanese version of Boy With Luv (which they returned to Korea with earlier in the year) and Idol (their breakout single last year).

It has been a while since I reviewed a Japanese single from the group. To be fair on my part, it is scarce with the majority of their Japanese releases being Japanese versions of their Korean title track. But there have been a few, with For You being the most memorable. Similar to For You, Lights opt for a more ballad approach with their track, departing from the usual upbeat tracks that dominate their promotional cycles in Korea. And I appreciate that, as sometimes dance tracks can get overwhelming over time. What I like about Lights (and these types of tracks) is that it showcases the best of the group without wasting too much energy. Lights ends up being soothing and the only energy you are using is by swaying along to the music. Their vocals were very dreamy and the rapping was quite calm and relaxing to go well with the song. The song talks about supporting each other during a hard time, with the group depending on the audience as the light that leads them out of the darkness.

I thought the music video was quite nice. Instead of showcasing choreography throughout the video, the video focuses on a small storyline. But I think the bigger picture shows that the members will not be happy alone. Instead, they are happiest around each other. Set in a movie theatre, the group is shown to join one another and watch what I think is a home-video (as opposed to an actual movie), reflecting upon their time together and how it brought them joy. There might be some other meaning that I haven’t pinpoint yet, so share if there are other theories. I know the Armys are always creative in this field.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

[Review] Love Loop – GOT7

Right after wrapping up their Eclipse comeback (which occurred back in May), GOT7 (minus Jackson) has returned to the Japanese music scene with a new release. The track is titled as Love Loop and is featured on the same-titled mini-album due for release at the end of the month. This is GOT7’s first Japanese release since the official release of I Won’t Let You Go at the start of the year. Currently, the group have officially kick-started their world tour, Keep Spinning, which is stopping at many more cities than ever before.

Looking back at the review I wrote for I Won’t Let You Go, the group departed from their usual EDM heavy tracks that they started their Japanese careers off with. Love Loop continues with this departure, going with a much more breezy and melodic track. The song manages to maintain the dance sound that GOT7 is known for in the majority of their title tracks. But the instrumental made the song feel like almost ballad-like, which I thought was very interesting. While this isn’t something new, I liked this changeup with GOT7’s sound. One important factor about the track is that the rapping took the back seat this time around. The vocals are the forefront of the song and drive its melodic nature. JB and Yugyeom’s vocals opened the chorus and I felt they were so impactful. In fact, I think there was a subtle show of intensity through the chorus, thanks to their vocals. Youngjae’s high note, even though it was more in the background, managed to blow me away. Based on what I am hearing and have written thus far, Love Loop is (obviously) different but quite memorable.

I really like the music video for Love Loop. The literal artistic touch to the background made the video looked so cool. I mentioned that the song was breezy above and the strokes and moving drawings in the background made it feel so visually as well. I also liked how the strokes/movement of colour was applied to their outfits as the video progressed, which was nice incorporation of the members into the video concept. I did mention in the Eclipse music video that it seems like their company is overusing the ‘green screen’. It is obviously used here but in a manner that looked amazing, so I don’t share those concerns this time around.

The snippets of choreography that could be seen in the music video (no live performance as of yet) felt very elegant and fitting for the song. Apart from that, I can’t make any other comments about the choreography as we didn’t get to see much in the video. But fitting and elegant are great observations to make, regardless.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 8.1/10

[Review] Buenos Aires – IZ*ONE

As mentioned last week, there were some recent Japanese releases that needed to be addressed. Today, I will be having a closer look at one of them. IZ*ONE, earlier this year, made their Japanese debut with I Want To Say I Love You and their Korean comeback with Violeta. So, the group has already had a jam-packed half-year already. But they managed to sneak one more comeback just before June wrapped up with the release of Buenos Aires in Japan.

Listening to the track when it first came out and listening to it now, I honestly do not know what to say. The work that IZ*ONE had done to grow through the releases of La Vie en Rose, Violeta and I Want To Say I Love You surely would not result in a song like this. Instrumentally, I thought the song was good. Pop electronic does sound fitting for the Japanese market. That continuous extension for the instrumental break during the bridge was probably my favourite bit, providing intensity and an awesome platform for a creative dance sequence. Vocally, the song is haywire. Let’s start at the start. The introduction and first verse were okay. I thought the monotone effect and the buildup of autotune to be intriguing. But they should have changed for the chorus. They kept the same effect, rendering the vocals into a state of permanent monotone. They had cutesy yelling in the background that did not fit in. The melody was very unimaginative. The excessive autotune for the post-chorus hook was over the top. Urgh… And the rapping is even worse. I am hugely disappointed in the outcome of the track. And the disappointment is quite heavy, as I can hear so much potential in the instrumentation.

While I don’t enjoy the song, I thought the music video was a little better. I have warmed up to the visuals which I didn’t enjoy so much initially. The emphasis on the green was a nice pick, overall. But it was the filter that ruined everything, making the video feel pale and overwhelmingly bright. That feeling still stays with me but it isn’t as strong. I do still think the video is more on the bland side of the spectrum, as the close-ups and images of venus fly traps didn’t really add anything interesting to the video. To be honest, I felt the venus fly traps were a little odd, as they didn’t serve any meaning to the video, based on my knowledge.

The choreography was pretty good. I think the best word to describe it would be prance-y. I really like the dance break during the bridge, which was my favourite bit overall.

Song – 3/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 4.7/10

[Album Review] Muse (2nd Mini Album) – Leo (VIXX)

Since we are back on schedule, there will be two album reviews coming out this weekend. Both album reviews will be focusing on solo releases that have occurred recently. And it might extend to the album reviews in the next week (so I guess you can start guessing who these albums might belong to).  Today’s album review will be for Leo’s recent comeback. The main vocalist of VIXX returned with Romanticism a few weeks back, which is featured on Muse, Leo’s second mini-album to date. 

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Muse Album Cover

1..Romanticism (로맨티시즘) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Romanticism. (7/10)

2. Things About To Happen (다가오는 것들) (ft. Choiza of Dynamic Duo) – One of the elements I really liked about this very emotionally charged track is the minimalistic instrumentation. It is like the blank canvas analogy that I sometimes use to describe a track. However, there are accents within the instrumental that makes the song so much more impactful and bone-chilling. Despite the extra addition to helping boost the impact potential of the track, the main strokes that make art on the blank canvas are Leo’s voice. There is no doubt about it. His singing in this track is filled with emotion, which makes the track feel so captivating. I am not too familiar with Choiza (from Dynamic Duo) but his rapping really fitted in well and added to that serious atmosphere the song has oozing from the track. (10/10)

3. Nostalgia (향수병) – As Leo is the main vocalist, it was inevitable that a ballad or two would be included on the album, even if he went with another R&B track as his title track. Nostalgia talks about the uneasiness that arises from a good memory that comes from a former relationship. He doesn’t want to remember it. But at the same time, he is afraid he will forget this memory. I am sure many people can relate to this dilemma. Per usual, it is a heartbreaking song. But that is one of Leo’s fortes. His voice suits these emotion-heavy tracks, so he is in his element. His raspy vocals does wonders in the track. I like how the classical instrumental adds to the heartbreaking feelings he portrays and I often find them coming in at the right moment. Even though it is a slow ballad (which isn’t often my ballad style of choice), Leo enchants once again. (9.5/10)

4. Tight (타이트해) – Leo changes things up with Tight. It isn’t another ballad. Instead, Tight is a smooth and sensual dance track. And while it is nice for a change, Tight wouldn’t be the first thing that comes into mind (given the nature of the lyrics). But it is still a good song. His voice lends well for this R&B style as well, which I think is what he enjoys more. There are a number of moments that grab my attention. The first is the pre-chorus. I really liked that sudden brief pause before going onto a small tone change that still manages to fit into the rest of the song. As the chorus was more sensual and doesn’t have a drop, this pre-chorus really built up momentum. The chorus contains whispers that I think fit the nature of the track, pushing whoever Leo (or the writer) had in mind onwards (you can decipher the meaning of that sentence). The most awkward moment comes from the chorus as well, in the form of ‘La La La be dab’. I want to know what the meaning of this is. (8/10)

5. Muse – Unlike the other tracks, Muse is not emotionally centred. This provides us with a chance to breathe from the heartbreaking or sensual emotions that have been the main focus of the album thus far. However, I find Muse charged in a vocal sense, as Leo’s voice does manage to shine brightly in this track. He pairs well with the slow rock ballad nature of the song, which ends up showing us another side of the artist that I would love to hear more from. Apart from Leo’s voice, I liked the ballad start and end of the track. By completing the song with how it started, it felt like the track completed a full circle and hence providing us with a very satisfying feeling (as if you are full) once the song ended. (8/10)

6. The Flower (Pre-Release Single) (ft. Maximilian Hecker) – The album ends with a ballad collaboration with Leo and Maximilian Hecker, who is known for his dream pop music (according to Wikipedia). I find that Leo’s voice isn’t showcased as well as his previous track. But instead of the vocals, it is the stunning instrumental that is showcased. I find that Leo’s voice is on the softer side, complimenting the soothing and calming nature of the predominately piano instrumental. But I think the winning moment must be when Leo passed the vocal baton over to Maximillian Hecker. Both their voices sound alike, and I honestly thought Leo was still singing (just in English). Overall, I thought the track was a nice end to the album. It was as if it was leading us to prolonged sleep so that when we wake up once again, Leo would have returned with another album. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

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Muse Teaser Image

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] Happy Ending – SEVENTEEN

Once again, we find ourselves on a Saturday, which means it is time for another Japanese music review. Unfortunately, I missed out on last week’s review due to some time constraints. And while I do know there are some more recent releases, I can’t get to them until I clear one more review. So, today we will be focusing on SEVENTEEN’s return to Japan with Happy Ending, which was released at the end of May (Sorry that it took one month for me to publish this review). Their previous Japanese release was their debut with Call Call Call.

To me, I am not a fan of Happy Ending. I felt the track was an extremely typical pop track that honestly did not offer anything to extend SEVENTEEN’s discography. This is a disappointment, as I expected something more along the lines of their Japanese debut track. What does set Call Call Call and their many amazing Korean title tracks apart from the rest of the competition is that the energy they expel is usually phenomenal. It gives me excitement. Happy Ending had an instrumental that was underwhelming and best described as tame. I just don’t get that rush of excitement in this track. On a more positive note, I did like the vocals and rapping in this track. I liked the more serious tone but I wished there was more energy to add definition the serious tone. Vernon’s opening ‘Happy Ending‘ was quite striking and ended up being one of the more memorable moments of the track. But I guess that the track, as a whole, just doesn’t do it for me, especially since I had a whole month to warm up to it.

From the lyrics that I found, Happy Ending is the end goal of the members, who are the main characters of their films. They want the best possible outcome for themselves and their lovers so that they can have their happy endings. With this mind, you would expect a film concept, which they practically did. It seems like some members are watching the movie, some members are behind the scenes creating, while others the main characters in front of the camera. I have to admit, while the song doesn’t suit my preference, the members look really good in this music video. Very charismatic and charming at certain points of the video.

I thought dabbing is dead. But I guess it isn’t if SEVENTEEN is bringing it back for this routine. I did like the choreography but I have to admit it isn’t as impressive as their previous dance performances. Can’t really blame them when they don’t have an impressive song to work with.  I did like how flowy the verses felt and how the chorus picked up, matching the music of both sections.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7/10

[Double Review] Breakthrough + Happy Happy – TWICE

Returning with their Japanese comeback during the week was TWICE. What makes this comeback special is that we get to see two tracks (to be released back to back in July), with Breakthrough and Happy Happy. And this means it is time for another double review!  This is the group’s first comeback since Fancy and their first Japanese comeback since BDZ.

For the release of Breakthrough, it seems like the girl group is taking further steps with the edgier sound they adopted for Fancy. Breakthrough is very catchy. And that is thank to its instrumental, which I really like for its rush of energy. The brass used in the chorus has to be my favourite addition to the song, giving the song life and definitely brings that edginess that I mentioned before in line with their usual released. I think the vocals complimented the energy, while the rapping seemed to be the weak point in the track. I also thought the ‘Breakthrough’ whispering (that ended the song) was quite dynamic and an excellent way to round out the track.

Happy Happy, on the hand, started out and remained weak throughout. It felt pretty much like a typical pop track and didn’t offer anything new to us listener. While the song does have some life in it through its brightly coloured chorus, the hooks were quite disappointing. I did think the vocals in the track were nice but with a weak song to be its ‘blank canvas’, you can’t really expect much. I also did think the rapping was quite nice in Happy Happy but felt it was passable for the most part.  I think it is safe to assume which of the two songs I preferred.

A major reason why these two TWICE releases are part of this double review is that they actually share a number of music video sets (or more technically, backdrops). But the two concepts are very different. It is amazing how much lighting can change the scenery. Breakthrough is everything you had expected. Edgy, dark and there is some maturity to it. And I thought they nailed this extremely well. Happy Happy, on the other hand, is colourful and vibrant. Just like how the song is. And given how this is familiar territory for TWICE, they too nailed it.

It seems like Happy Happy does not have a set routine if they were to perform it on stage, based on the music video. So I guess I have to bypass this section for that song. However, Breakthrough did have one. And I think it was fantastic. They managed to bring that energy from the chorus to the choreography. More so, that matureness that I felt in the video was channelled well (take Jihyo lying on the floor as an example).

Breakthrough
Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

Happy Happy
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10

[Review] Blooming Future – ASTRO

It is Saturday, which per the post schedule means a Japanese review is coming your way. I was originally going to do another release from a few weeks back. But ASTRO dropped their Japanese debut, Blooming Future, just this week (It did feel a little out of the blue as I did not see any news or teasers beforehand). And to avoid any delay, I decided to write the review for it today! Blooming Future is featured on the group’s first Japanese mini-album, Venus, alongside the Japanese version of Baby, All Night and Always You.

Blooming Future (or Hanasake Mirai) is a pretty decent beginning for their Japanese career. I felt like the direction they were going for was really good, with it fitting both ASTRO’s youthful charm and the typical upbeatness we tend to hear from Japanese releases. However, listening to the song, I felt like it lacked definition. The song felt very consistent throughout and didn’t seem to depart the synth sound that they were aiming for. I feel like if there were some bass or background vocals during the chorus, for example, the song would have had that added definition to really make it sound better. Apart from that, the song was pretty good. I liked the vocals and the funkiness that the Rocky and JinJIn brought to the song through their raps. The instrumental was actually quite good., apart from what I mentioned above. I did like the lightness during the verses. But like I said, the chorus could have had more to it.

I guess to fit in with the lightness of the track is a very minimalistic vibe to the music video. There wasn’t a whole lot going on during the music video, especially when we talk about the sets. And this allows the individual members to really pop out. The video consisted of solo and choreography shots. I did feel the editing could have eased on the number of cuts throughout the video (i.e. when the scenes change to the next one). They felt very sudden and cut the flow of the music video, especially in the chorus, which prevented me from admiring the members (hahaha…).

From what I can see in the music video, the choreography looks decent. But due to the magnitude of cuts (mentioned above), it was really hard to really focus on anything. Unfortunately, we don’t have a live performance of it yet, so I guess I will have to rank according to what I saw in the video.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] Wakey-Wakey – NCT 127

Before we tick over to Sunday, it must be time to have a closer look at a Japanese release! The last we saw NCT 127 was through Simon Says in Korea and Chain in Japan. But as we are fast approaching mid-2019, we break the short NCT drought with Wakey-Wakey. This is the title track off their very first Japanese album, titled Awaken and is due for release mid-April. But due to the nature of the Japanese market, we are given the treat (and some long hair) a few weeks ahead of time.

Wakey-Wakey seems to take on the Black On Black side of NCT which we saw early last year. I would say both songs are quite similar in effect when you listen to them side-by-side. But by no means are they the same song. Wakey-Wakey focus on more brighter sounding instrumentation (with a lot less growling), featuring a lot of trap synths and a slight touch of R&B when you consider the vocals and the very start of the song. It suits NCT 127’s style remarkably. I think the very first thing that really grabs your attention with the song is the squeakiness of the instrumental. You may think this would be an off-putting element for me but I was actually fond of it because it gave something extra to the song. As mentioned, the vocals are nice and we are also treated to the return of Haechan (who only participates in the audio and music video for this comeback). I think the raps were also quite cool but I wanted more intensity alongside it, similar to the intensity brought upon by the dance break at the very end of the song.  Likewise, I didn’t really fall for the verses as much as compared to the rest of the song.

Matching the brightness of the song, the music video was intentionally colour for the most part.  I thought the sets were elaborate, especially during Haechan’s scenes. He doesn’t get to interact much with the other members but is still centred, which I thought was interesting. There has to be a reason for that right? (My assumption is that the members are trying to wake him up). Regardless, glad to see him back. What I am not too glad to see is Johnny’s long hair. I try my best not to comment on looks but sorry, it had to be touched on. (This is similar to any mullets or dreadlocks we see in KPOP. It just doesn’t work).

The choreography was quite cool  Going back to the start where I said the song sounded like Black On Black, the performance also reminded of Black‘s performance. Similarly, the start reminded me of EXO’s Tree of Life (I think that is what it is called) that featured during the group’s Wolf promotions. But they put their own spin on it.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] Flower – GFriend

It has been a while since I wrote Japanese review despite the influx of Japanese songs by Korean artists. I will try my best to get around to them (I hope). To re-kick things off (hopefully) is GFriend’s third Japanese single, Flower. For those who are wondering, Memoria was their first original Japanese track and first Japanese single, while the Japanese version of GFriend’s Sunrise (their Korean title track from earlier in the year) served as the second single.

Flower starts off miles away from a typical GFriend song. The song opens up with a very strong tango presence. And I quite like this. The song then loses this tango sound, evolving into something along the lines of GFriend that we know of. However, the tango comes back once more for the dance break, which I am so glad hangs around for a slightly longer period than any of their recent tracks (I am deprived of a long dance break from the girls). What makes this track even nicer is that while they do lose that tango sound, they manage to keep the momentum up with some orchestral pop and really keep things upbeat. I thought their vocals were quite refreshing and each member was extremely clear. So big ticks in that aspect. My favourite part has to be the second half of the chorus, as I found the ‘Piriririri’ and the ‘Surururu’ to be extremely addictive. I think the winning element has to be the instrumental but everything else was pretty good as well.

The music video featured a lot of nice colours. It was very vibrant and really matched the upbeat vibes of the song. The comments on the YouTube video also suggests that some of thr patterns and the fabrics are from other countries and cultures. So to think that this is a very multicultural music video makes me very happy. As the song titled Flower, flowers themselves also make a presence in this music video. The best flower in the entire video has to be the flower mural in the background of the choreography shots!! Overall, a nice video to watch with the song.

I also really like the choreography. Of course, the winning part has to be during the start and dance break (i.e. when there was some tango in the song) but the chorus dance was equally as pretty.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Double Review] Because I Love You + If You – Yesung (Super Junior)

Yesung finally makes his first return as a solo artist since his 2017 promotions of Hibernation and Paper Umbrella. But if you are expecting a return to the South Korean stage, then you have to come back next month as he will be returning then. In the meantime, Yesung recently releases his first solo album in Japan titled Story. The album features two title tracks (Because I Love You and If You) and both are connected via the music videos (hence why today’s review is a double review). Yesung also recently collaborated with Chungha for Whatcha Doin’ and Bumkey for Carpet.

I am not sure if I have ever reviewed any Japanese ballads before so this may be a foreign land for me. Both songs are of this nature and both are quite similar to the ballads we commonly get in Korea. For Because I Love You, we get a jazzy-like style instrumental which I thought was nice. Though I did think his raspy vocals were a little too soft towards the beginning and they were on the verge of being drowned out. The ending was a lot better as you can hear him pushing himself and this resulted in his voice standing out on top of the instrumental a lot better. If You takes on a typical approach with its ballad. A very nice but pleasant sounding instrumental made up of guitar and an orchestral touch. I really like his vocals here as they seemed clearer.  It also has a nice melody that gets me swaying along. The only flaw is that it feels too ordinary. I think if I were to pick one of the two, If You would be my clear winner.

Because I Love You starts off our story. Yesung is probably holidaying in a European country and passes by this lady who attracts his attention. She is in a rush, so he doesn’t get a chance to talk to her. Later, Yesung stops by a restaurant and the exact same lady from before is his waitress. He becomes nervous and distracted from his work and slowly begins imagining them dating. After his little daydream, he rips a page out of his diary and writes a message. He leaves it on the table and leaves. The waitress comes out, clearly interested in him and finds the note. This leads us onto the If You video. If You shows Yesung waiting around for someone, presumably the waitress. She is seen walking around holding the note that he left for her. Both of them visit different places that appeared in his daydream and both end up meeting each other at the same place where his daydream ended (at night by the river). She hands the note over, revealing to the audience that he wrote ‘Because I Love You’ on it and they both share a smile. I liked how both videos tied in with each other and allowed the story to really progress rather than jamming it one video and making it confusing.

Because I Love You
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

If You
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10

[Review] I Want To Say I Love You – IZ*ONE

What makes IZ*ONE unique,, in comparison to I.O.I and Wanna One, is that they incorporated trainees from Korea and Japanese members from AKB48. This allows the project group to debut in Japan, which their other Produce 101 counterparts have yet to do. And this event occurred last week with IZ*ONE making their Japanese debut with I Want To Say I Love You or Suki to Iwasetai. The actual song isn’t available until later this week but as the music video has been revealed in full, I thought we might as well have a closer listen/look at it.

My experience with the JPOP culture and industry is very limited. But Suki to Iwasetai does remind me fondly of the sounds and music that I commonly associate to mainstream JPOP, particularly girl groups. I don’t know how to exactly describe this particular JPOP sound, however, so that ends that observation. But I did like the piano and violins in the background during the chorus. Talking about the chorus, I also enjoyed the small blast of energy they give us.  I did think the vocals were nice. They didn’t seem as clear as their Korean releases but it works with this JPOP sound that I have linked to the song. And the combination of the vocals and instrumental does make the song quite catchy. There is a side to me where I think they could have gone beyond this but it was a good track to start off their careers in Japan, from what I know of.

The music video is the main element of this debut that I wanted to talk about. I really liked the colours in this video. The backgrounds and scenery the producer chose for this video was definitely a highlight of the video, as they looked spectacular. The cinematography also complimented the choreography and amazing scenery. I liked how that choreography scene with the light strobes was set up. Aesthetics through the roof. I also thought the landfill set looked really cool and pretty with the colours. But my question is – did they really film at a landfill site? But once again, aesthetics.

There might be two choreography version to this debut, which I think is really interesting. The first would have to be the one performed on the road, whilst the second one is with the long coats. And I thought both were equally cool looking and definitely left a longing impression of their style.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] Cosmos – Pentagon

Pentagon is back with a brand new Japanese single. Cosmos is their first original Japanese single, which follows the release of the Japanese versions of Shine and Violet last year. The new track is also featured on a mini-album of the same name, which includes 2 other original tracks from the group. This is also their first release since Naughty Boy in South Korea.

What stands out the most in Cosmos is the guitar and dance music mixture that makes up the instrumental for the song. There were also other elements such as the keyboard and synthetic violins that acted like that small detail that really makes up for some bareness from the more prevalent sounds. I thought it was a rather dynamic and interesting sound to really bring out the best of Pentagon. This instrumental just goes perfectly well with the vocals and the rapping that each member brings. It did seem a little overwhelming and messy at first. But those feelings did die down for me. What I have yet to mention is my favourite part has to be the synthetic violins that made the song feel staggered at the end of the choruses. While I don’t have much else to say regarding the song, I quite liked it overall.

The instrumental has a bunch of solo shots of the members reminiscing about their previous lovers. But I think towards the end, they let go of those memories and go on with their lives. Those shots are pretty much standard. But something stood out for me within the music video. Those black and white choreography shots look stunning. I really thought that was very classy and edgy at the same time (even though they were wearing suits throughout those shots).

I don’t really have much to say about the choreography. Mainly because we only saw small snippets, so there really isn’t anything that I could personally see worth discussing. The only part we got in full was the dance break at the start of the song and that was good.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 6.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10

[Review] Sappy – Red Velvet

It is time for the first JPOP review of 2019. And starting of the JPOP rush for this year is Red Velvet with their brand new single, Sappy. The popular female group made their Japanese debut last year with #Cookie Jar, the title for both their debut single and mini-album. Since then, the group returned to Korea to release and promote Power Up and RBB.

Sappy has a lot going on and that is partly due to the instrumental of the song. But let’s backtrack for a moment and go from the start. I am not a fan of how they started off the song. It started off with straightforward hushed vocals singing ‘Sappy Boy‘ with the repetitive trumpet as its main attraction. That was okay. But the instrumental break that follows right after felt overwhelmingly messy. And, to me at least, felt off tune and disconnected. Moving along to the verses, I can see signs of an improvement in sound. It was extremely crisp and didn’t feature anything that I thought was off tune. I did notice their vocals seemed to be weighed down and that their voices had a lower tone. Don’t know why but I am not too bothered by it. The chorus came along and it too was a tad overwhelming at first with its many layers in the instrumentation. But it has since grown on me and I thought it provides a nice burst of energy and sweetness to the song. It was also quite catchy. So overall, Sappy was quite nice with the exception of that part.

Suiting the song and the group perfectly is the brightly coloured music video. It starts off as a standard music video, with the normal close up shots of the girls doing things. And then the music video becomes like a ‘Spot the Difference’ game. Come to the think of it, what was the concept for this comeback/music video? It does seem a little over the place, like the song at times.

I wasn’t impressed with their last Japanese dance. But this, it was good. I liked all of it, which I thought was fitting for the song. To match the fast tempo of the chorus, their moves became liked quick jerks, which I thought looked really cool. And then when the song slowed down, they moved into slower and wider motions, which was a good progression.

Song – 7/10
Music Video  – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.9/10