[Review] Pink Magic – Yesung (Super Junior)

One comeback that occurred last week was Yesung’s solo return to the music scene. However, I put the review on hold as I was hoping for a performance of some sort accompanying this comeback. However, it seems like Yesung does not plan on promoting Pink Magic and his third mini-album (which also shares the same name). So, here is the review for Pink Magic, exactly one week after its release! This is also Yesung’s first official Korean comeback since 2017 with Paper Umbrella and Hibernation.

The main reason to why I held onto Pink Magic’s review was because of its bright and slightly upbeat nature. I thought that there would be a nice routine featured in this comeback. It is unlike Yesung for a song of this style, mainly because we know him as one of the main vocalists of Super Junior (and main vocalists tend to take the ballad route with this solo promotions as proven time and time again). Even his previous Korean and Japanese releases have been of a ballad nature. But despite the style change to a retro 80s pop track, Yesung puts his husky and raspy vocals on display. I like how he goes on soft on some parts of the track, which goes to show that a rough textured voice can actually be delicate in nature if it is presented correctly. I personally don’t mind the track as it is quite pleasant and has this chilled sound to it. I also like its retro roots, which takes me back to a style that The song almost felt linear but that high pitch and  funky effect that was showcased as part of the bridge and post-chorus really cut that feeling down. Overall, a satisfying song.

Yesung, appropriately, dyed his hair the colour pink for this comeback. I also liked the video because it used a more pale approach with its colours, without the help of filters. I get the lighting helped out there. Also making cameos in the music video is Donghae and Kyuhyun (who recently was released from the military). Essentially the video shows Yesung being captivated by his crush, who he describes to be like the colour pink. It is also the only reason why he can see her because his eyes have the ability to only observe the colour pink (based on his eye test results). Don’t know if he should be driving then… Apart from the plot, there wasn’t much else interesting to comment on.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

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[Review] Illusion – ATEEZ

Two weeks ago, ATEEZ made their comeback with two music videos. The first was for WAVE, which I reviewed on the day of release. The second music video is for ILLUSION, which I said I would review at a later date. Fast forward two weeks, we find ourselves looking a little closer at ATEEZ’s ILLUSION. In other related news, ATEEZ won their first weekly music chart with WAVE on MCountdown last week.

To me, ILLUSION sounds like the song that you would expect if we were to put all ATEEZ’s title tracks onto a spectrum. The song isn’t as upbeat and bright like how WAVE turned out, while it isn’t as intense as Say My Name (from earlier this year). However, there was a level of energy that makes it quite suitable to follow off WAVE and a level of fierceness in their vocal and rapping delivery that brings it in line with their past tracks. It isn’t a track that stands out within the first listen. There isn’t anything ‘new’ offered in this track that adds a layer of uniqueness to the group (as I had already established).  So, it took me a good few listens to get into the track. I personally find the rappers to stand out the most in this track, with it feeling like a dominant component. Even the rappers filtered onto the vocal sections, which I thought gave off a decent effect. There some good hooks in the track but it could have been better if they were more profound to make the song feel more blastable.

Based on the ending of ILLUSION’s music video, it might be the prequel to the fun that existed in the WAVE music video. The location they end up in the final sections of the song is those which we find them in during WAVE. Using this mentality, the group would be in dream-land for this video, which makes sense given the different backgrounds, flying pirate ship, floating objects and the purple island they end up exploring. But it is another fun-filled video to enjoy. The only thing that confuses me is the ‘Open Your Eyes‘ whisper we get at the end. It doesn’t seem to connect to WAVE, so my guess it is hinting towards something larger.

What I think the performance for ILLUSION could have benefited from are freestyle moments. Moments that are more like on stage improvisations. If these were embedded in these routine, the performance could have been more lively and fun, fitting in with the atmosphere of the song. But what we got is already quite energetic and upbeat, so it is good enough.

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

[Review] Snapping – Chungha

Jump-starting the final week of June is Chungha with her solo comeback! This time around, she is snapping her way back into the industry with the title track, Snapping and fourth mini-album, Flourishing. Her last comeback, Gotta Go, confirmed her growing popularity in the industry. And given how fast Snapping has risen on the charts so far today after a few hours of release, Chungha is definitely an artist to look out for.

To me, Snapping gives me 00s Western pop vibes. Surely, if someone was to repackage this song with just English lyrics, I would have a very hard time thinking this came from the KPOP industry. You might think that I am basing this on how she sings the very addictive and repetitive hook, ‘Snapping’. But I am also looking at other aspects, like the very attitude-heavy instrumentation that really gives off some flair that undeniably suits Chungha and the way she sings some other lines throughout the song. While Chungha does place a lot of emphasis on her performance routines, her vocals do a lot of flourishing here. In fact, I think she managed to overtake what she showed us in her previous comebacks, showing her growth in a very stylish and smart way. Finally, the brief pause before we get the final sequence of ‘I Know I Know, Snapping Snapping‘ ended the song with the attitude I mentioned before fresh in your mind, making perfect sense for a singer like Chungha.

Hands down, I think this has to be one of the best set of outfits that I have ever seen in a music video. I may be no fashion designer or fashionable in any sense. But what I saw in this video was captivating, beautiful, modern and so full of impact, bringing it into line with the attitude the song had. All of the sets looked very refined and stylish in their own way, going hand-in-hand with her outfits and looks. I really liked that fencing platform, which doubled up as a catwalk for Chungha as well. And as much as the water scenes are pretty much a cliche idea nowadays, I loved how elegant that set looked with the fabric hanging from above.

When I watch the performance, I see the words attitude and sass throughout it. This fits in perfectly with the song. But while I did see a lot of snapping, as expected from the title, it just didn’t have the same impact as Gotta Go had, which was the main reason to why she didn’t get a perfect score for this comeback.

Song – 10/10
Music Video -10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.8/10

[Album Review] For The Summer (1st Special Album) – WJSN

South Korea (and the Northern Hemisphere) have already kicked off Summer with a number of Summery time comebacks, filled with bright energy and catchy hooks that make any KPOP fan want to party and dance to. One of the more successful acts of the 2019 Summer thus far is WJSN, who returned with Boogie Up back in May. The group has topped charts including MCountDown, SBS The Show and Show Champion with the very infectious and addictive song. Today, we will have a look at what WJSN has accompanying Boogie Up on their album.

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For The Summer Album Cover

1..Boogie Up (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Boogie Up. (9/10)

2. Oh My Summer (눈부셔)Oh My Summer is a nice pop song that gets you in the mood for the Summer season. I find the slight retro approach in this instrumental to be quite fun. I find the pace of the track to be quite interesting. There is nice energy level in the track and it is a track fitting for the Summer season. Other positive aspects of the track are that it is catchy and an addictive song. Both the vocals and rapping were pretty good, as well. If there were any negative aspects in the track, the positive aspects outweigh them, meaning WJSN delivered another good track in the form of Oh My Summer. (8.5/10)

3. My Type – Kicking the energy to a higher notch is My Type. It is another pop track that has a very bright and vibrant sound. I like how straight forward the song. It doesn’t mess around and gets straight to the point with its sound. The chorus does have the potential to be an amazing hook. But I feel like the melody was a little lacking, as it didn’t reel me as I had expected from such a bright song. I did think Yeonjung’s vocals were nice, in the chorus. But the highlights of the track have to be Exy’s rapping and that outro segment at the end, which provides a beach party-like atmosphere. (8/10)

4. Let’s Dance (우리끼리) – If you are looking for a song to put on speaker, this is probably the one. The synths used in the track seems to conform to the electronic genres that we get more typically nowadays. There is also some attitude to the song as a result, which I am totally enjoying. The addition of saxophones was very nice and gave the instrumental a party/club sound, which resulted in it in being fun and less serious. Though, if I was honest, I think the saxophone could have had a solo or been slightly louder to really add to that party feel. The vocals were nice and I like the rap opening, which I don’t think WJSN does much of. I can imagine an awesome dance routine to it, increasing my expectations for the track even further. (9/10)

5. Sugar Pop Sugar Pop is exactly like how its title portrays it to be. It is a sweet upbeat pop track that has an infectious energy that you cannot help but be addicted to. It is another good to put on blast due to its almost explosive chorus nature. While I find the song to be very catchy and very suitable for an album full of energy, there is a section that I particularly love. The pre-chorus reminded me Bohemian Rhapsody and I thought this was a very cool effect to have in the song of a sweet nature. The vocals and raps, once again as superb. Yeonjung’s high note came out of nowhere and it also stole the show. Overall, another great song. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

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[Album Review] Raise Us (2nd Mini Album) – ONEUS

It is another weekend full of album reviews. We started with ONEWE yesterday to wrap up my two days of band focus. And today, I thought we return to look at their brother group’s latest album. For those who don’t know, ONEUS and ONEWE are newly debuted boy groups from RBW Entertainment and they are referred to as brother groups (which seems the case for some of the members split across the two groups, as I have recently found out). ONEUS recently returned back in May with Raise Us, their second mini-album, which features the title track, Twilight.

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Raise Us Album Cover

1. Time (Intro Track) – Starting off the album is Time. While I don’t usually listen to intro track for the purpose of an album review, this one is one of the few occasions where vocals are included, so I placed it onto the review list anyway. While this doesn’t kick the song off in an upbeat or energetic manner, the almost 2-minutes introductory track had a very elegant sound and smooth tone to it. I like the focus on the vocals, which were superb here. My favourite part has to be Leedo’s vocals. His rough voice shined the brightest in this song, contrasting well with whoever was singing alongside him at the time. (8/10)

2. Twilight (태양이 떨어진다) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Twilight. (8/10)

3. English Girl – To me, English Girl is ONEUS’ answer to a Summer track. All the elements just scream the hot season and the track is a refreshing reply to that scream. The song is for international fans, where the guys admit that their English skills aren’t that great but there are always other ways to communicate and express feelings. While I find that to be very considerate of the group (i.e. to consider their international fans), I am going to be straight forward with another aspect of the track. The use of English has exponentially grown over the years. So to hear poor pronunciation is a little disappointing from an international fan’s standpoint. I don’t think it is necessarily a major issue to actually impact the score but I think given how far KPOP has come, the proper pronunciation would have been an expectation. (8/10)

4. BingBing (개와 늑대의 시간) – Personally, I find BingBing to have very memorable instrumental. That is thanks to the whistling (or flute instrument) that starts off the song and features in the post-chorus instrumental breaks. The rest of the track falls into a mainstream category, which doesn’t sound like it that impressive overall. However, I did like the track a fair bit. I really liked the melody of the track, especially during the chorus. The vocals and rapping were also superb in this track. While it is a dance track, I don’t find it heavy or loaded, which is a nice change. There is a level of intensity to the track but it maintains a level of lightness throughout as well. (8.5/10)

5. White Night (백야 (白夜))White Night is the closest thing to a ballad on the album. It has a very nice R&B ballad instrumental, which is a major appeal factor for me. The piano that features throughout the song has this impactful feel to it, like how an emotional ballad would use a piano to invoke emotion or leave you haunted by it. And while I see this ballad-like, I can imagine some choreography to accompany it, similar to what BTOB has done with their ballad comebacks. But the thing that I am most impressed with within this track is their vocals. They were so soothing, captivating and wonderful. Each member shined in this track, confirming their vocal capabilities. (10/10)

6. Now – Ending the album is a return to an upbeat track. And it is a damn good track. The chorus is explosive and has major club vibes. I personally would put this music on if I wanted to dance because the chorus gets you into the mood just to do that. My pick for the highlight of the track has to be delayed drop before the first chorus. It was a very suspenseful and unexpected slowdown just before the actual drop, which made the drop so much more dynamite. The vocals and rapping were on point. The track ends the album on a good note and definitely leaves me to think about what is to come next from ONEUS! (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

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Raise Up Teaser Image

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[Album Review] 1/4 (1st Single Album) – ONEWE

To continue and end the focus on the band theme I started yesterday is an album review. Initially, I was going to review one of ONEWE’s b-side singles but I realized that there were music videos accompanying each. So instead of picking just one, I opted for an album review where I could focus on the songs and transfer the music videos to an upcoming ‘Missed Music Video’ post. 1/4 is the band’s debut single album and I am guessing there will be a few more quarters heading our way. The single features 3 songs in total and a remix of the first song (which I have, again, decided not to include in the final review score).

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1/4 Album Cover

1..Ring On My Ears (귀걸이가 나를 때리게)Ring On My Ears starts off as a slow rock ballad that opens up the debut single album in a very fashionable sense. They could have had an opening track that showed off their band work by using an energetic rock vibe. But they kept it in line with the title track. The energy in this track is subdued and doesn’t pick up until it gets to the chorus, which is where the song ends up going for a classic rock vibe. The pre-chorus build-up is quite nice and is my pick for the best moments of the track because it felt like a very strong section. The vocals were good. However, I found it interesting they opted for autotuned vocals, which adds a rough texture to the song. A remix of the song is present as Track 4 of the album, giving the song an electronic touch. The chorus ends up being more explosive, which I think was a smart changeup. Based solely on the original version of the track, I thought it was a well-produced opener to the group and album. (9/10)

2. Reminisce About All (다 추억) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Reminisce About All. (9.5/10)

3. 0 & 4 (공과 사)0 & 4 is a laidback track that has a little fun mixed within its production, showcasing that the band isn’t all serious as their previous tracks have demonstrated. I find this track to be very nice after a long day, especially when you need to do some wrapping up of the day’s activities. It is light and pleasant, making it perfect for such activities. The vocals were nice and light as well. The rapping was a much-appreciated inclusion, as it felt like a missing element on this album (I know there was a rapping sequence in the first song but it felt like it could be passed off as a vocal sequence instead). As for the meaning of the track, it seems 0 & 4 is a play on ‘private and business life’ due to its similar pronunciation in the Korean language, based on a translation that I found. Overall, I thought it was a nice track to end with. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

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ONEWE 1/4 Teaser Image

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[Review] Leave It – N.Flying

The second band that I wanted to cover today is N.Flying, who returned with Spring Memories back in April. Unfortunately, it seems like the group did not get much of a response for their new single, despite just topping charts with Rooftop a few weeks prior. Despite that, the group went forward with follow-up promotions, returning with the song Leave It (which featured on the same mini-album as Spring Memories). The music video for Leave It came out almost two weeks after the release of Spring Memories, with the follow-up promotions occurring in the same week.

Unlike my previous review, I did actually check out this release on the day it dropped. But delayed the review as I had already reviewed Spring Memories the previous week. It hasn’t been touched since. Leave It is another band track that has a that doesn’t have that same head-banging feel as the previous review did. However, it did have a Summery vibe to it, which makes it suitable for the current season. Leave It has a pop sound to it, which makes it easy on the ears and energy filled. I find the track to have some playful melodies as well, which makes this track refreshing and enjoyable to listen to. I think the vocals were nice. Hwesung’s vocals, just before each chorus, was superb. And the rapping supplied by Seunghyub gave the song some needed intensity and texture. Overall, it is slightly disappointing that the group hasn’t got much attention for this release, especially with a song like this on the track list.

You can tell that the music video was put together with a little haste. It makes me think that the company and band put all their money onto Spring Memories. And when both parties realized that the title track was taking off as expected, they switched over to Leave It. Anyway, the video does have an easy going element to it due to its simplicity, which reflects well with the fun vibe that comes from the track. I like how the members still make most of the time, interacting in a playful manner with the camera.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Review] EDEN – IZ

It is time to catch up on some more reviews for some tracks/music video releases. A number of bands released new tracks and promotional music videos over the last month, which I had neglected due to my busy study load. But today, I will check them off my list. First up is a totally brand new comeback from IZ, a band who released Angel last year. This time around, they returned with the title track EDEN, which is featured on their 3rd mini-album, RE:IZ.

I will be completely honest. Not only did I neglect to review this earlier, but today is also actually my first time to listen to the track. And right off the bat, I have major regrets for not doing both of those sooner. EDEN is a perfect head-banging song that I needed last week to shake my worries away. This is the personally the type of song that I wished bands churn out as it is so energy driven and are usually be emotionally charged. Essentially, EDEN ticks a few of my desired check boxes. The rock vibe that comes off this track is so strong, which makes it so appealing. The song did have a slight J-Rock twist to it, which I think makes it more interesting. Vocally, the track is pretty good. I thought the verses were nicely melodic, with the chorus going for that energy rush as pointed out before. That falsetto high note at the end is probably my pick for the highlight of the track and definitely gives the song a climatic ending. Overall, I highly recommend for you to check out EDEN.

This music video deserves some attention for how freaking high quality it is. It is a very colourful video but the colour is used in a subtle way (via lighting), which makes fit the rock vibes so well. Watching the overall video, you got a sense of how grungy the video was going for.  However, at the exact same time, I found the video to have an aesthetic vibe to it as well, which I thought was a very interesting contrast. My favourite scene has to be when the focus was purely on the drummer, who (with the combination of the flashing lights) managed to stand out so well. And also, the forehead game was strong, thanks to the drummer.

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

[Review] Zimzalabim – Red Velvet

Mentioned in yesterday’s review, there were two major artists returning with new tracks yesterday. The first was the rising male group, Stray Kids, and the second (and focus for this review) is the well-established female group, Red Velvet. Their title track is Zimzalabim, which may be a foreign word to some (I have personally not heard of the word before). Google defines it as a magical word (similar to as Alakazam), so definitely we will expecting some hints of magic in this comeback. This is also the group’s first Korean comeback since RBB (Really Bad Boy).

My first response to the song was definitely a big WOW! I personally don’t think any words that I would use to describe it would be enough to fully cover the immense and loaded sound that we got from Zimzalabim. The track is extremely colourful, which is definitely something Red Velvet nails every time. Every single detail within the instrumental seems to be placed for a purpose. It would be hard to imagine the track without the presence of cowbells or that zipper spiral sound. I like how dark the chorus of the song, contrasting well with the more upbeat and bright verses. The members sound amazing. I thought RBB was an impressive display of vocals, but it seems like Zimzalabim managed to topple RBB from its throne. The rapping, I felt was perfect. But definitely, the stealing moment has to be the triple punch we got from Joy, Seulgi and Wendy for the bridge. The dance break was equally as awesome. I can see why it might be cringy for some people but I think the track is amazing as it is.

Zimzalabim is the magical theme park that the girls each buys tickets from. And from that point forward, it can be seen as a wild ride. Within the current trends of the KPOP industry, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a hidden image within the music video (There might be something to Wendy, Joy and Yeri working at the theme park and how Irene was the only member not wearing the 3D glasses at the end). I did like how the theme park was put together despite its randomness. For example, the rollercoaster ended with a splash into a teacup, and then we are shown the members lounging around in the teacup. Once again, it is a very colourful and jam-packed music video, which reflects well with the song.

The dancing has to be an additional highlight to this comeback. I thought the serious tone of the chorus was conveyed well in the choreography, while the energetic dance break was well reflected. As for their outfits, they do seem odd-looking and mismatching. But its isn’t their worst.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.8/10

[Review] Side Effects – Stray Kids

One of the two big-name artists in the industry at the moment making their comeback today is Stray Kids. While Stray Kids may not be exactly established yet (a few more successful comebacks will be needed to consolidate that), there is no denying their growing popularity, especially after the success of their last comeback, Miroh. Their comeback today is featured on the second part of their Clé series, Yellow Wood, which is the group’s first ever single album.

The title track for this comeback is Side Effects. I find the trance elements that the song features to be undeniably appropriate for the Summer season, the season filled to the brim of energy. Just Stray Kids manages to mould the intensity into something that I personally have never seen. The song does not stop with its boldness and bass, which I think makes it so unique. There were brief moments of silence or slowness throughout the song that did provide some relief but there was always another element (let it be vocals or raps) to continue the momentum. Talking about the vocals and raps, this song is just another example of the group’s talents and potential. If Side Effect‘s instrumental throws its intensity at you, the vocals and rapping slap you across the face. Props to Seungmin and Felix for their deep tone moments, with the latter finally getting an opportunity to shine in a title track. As you can tell, I am extremely enthusiastic about this track and the energy that comes off on it keeps me on the edge of my seat (despite the many listens that I have already gone through).

There seems to be a complex story brewing within the series. It seems to be connected to Miroh, with Hyunjin fighting another member in both videos. So clearly, the centre member in this series is Hyunjin. I did notice some similarities to their debut music video (District 9), which was very interesting (i.e. bus, security camera view, the lyrics talk about a pill, fencing etc.). My brief understanding is that the members are roaming around freely. Hyunjin seems to be on edge for some reason, attacking Seungmin and becoming frustrated with Felix. The reason why, well, I guess we have to wait until the next comeback to see what is going on. (I did read a few theories on Instagram, which seems to connect back to District 9). Standalone, I think the video does a good job of conveying the tone of the song.

But what is the message of the song? Well, it is all about being overly insecure and worrisome, especially about how this mind state could influence how you perceive the world (i.e. Hyunjin vs. the members in the video). Someone pointed out (in the comments on YouTube) that there are 9 additional backup dancers in the background, potentially representing the demons of each member. Very interesting theory. As for the routine, I think this is another fully captivating performance to keep your eyes open for. 

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.7/10

[Review] Doom Doom – NOIR

One particular review that I somehow missed out last week was NOIR’s Doom Doom. I have no idea how I missed this track, even though I previously knew about the comeback. I was reminded about it last night, so I quickly squeezed into the agenda for today. This is NOIR’s first comeback since the release of Airplane Mode, which was released back in October of last year.

Doom Doom basically took all the of intensity that oozed out of the release of Airplane Mode and compressed so that it becomes more concentrated in intensity. The best parts of the track, for me, has to the sudden blast of energy we get during the chorus. It was an extremely dynamic part of the song, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The rough, scratchy and heavily autotuned voice used as part of the instrumental we got during the first two choruses was just so amazing. Interestingly, the final chorus took on board a whole new sound, opting for a fast-paced dubstep, which was equally as strong and keeps the song interesting. While the verses were easily forgotten, I did like how they focused on more of the vocals and melodic rap sequences. But while it has been all praises for Doom Doom, I can’t help but think something feels missing in this track, which I am not entirely sure what exactly it is. But there is a void that feels empty and it prevents the song from being perfect, which it otherwise would have been.

Based on what I am seeing in this video, it seems like Doom Doom has received the highest budget for any of their music videos thus far. While NOIR hasn’t really taken off in the industry, it seems like the group must be bringing in money so that the company is able to create a larger budget for this music video. And I like most scenes in the music video. All of them seem to be edgy, with the exception of the choreography scenes where the members are wearing Hawaiian shirts. That seems to be the only major mismatch that I observed in the video. But apart from that, it is a good video.

As expected with such a song, the performance is definitely very intense as well. While I don’t have much to say about it specifically, I did find it to be worthwhile and captivating to an extent.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.5/10

[Review] Don’t Need Your Love – NCT Dream X HRVY

Note that I have put Yesung’s Pink Magic review on hold until later this week, with hopes that there will be a live stage. 

Noticeably absent from the NCT universe thus far this year is the presence of NCT Dream. At the end of last year, Mark graduated from NCT Dream due to his age and since then, we haven’t heard much from the subunit. That was up until the 6th of June 2019 when NCT Dream (with the exception of Haechan as well) released their collaboration single with HRVY (an English artist born in 1999 and has released many singles since his debut back in 2013), titled Don’t Need Your Love. The single was released as part of the SM Station 3 series.

To me, the track is typical of what you would hear on the Western music scene or the radio. Nothing fancy when it comes to the collaboration. But there might be some good coming from this track that I would like to touch on. The vocals from both artists were probably the best part. One thing that I always reiterated, however, is that simplicity can be good. In no way do I find this a perfect song, as the word ‘bland’ might be an excellent description of the song. But its simple beat and typicalness come off very pleasant and soothing, which might sound odd to you (and hypocritical of me, based on what I have said thus far). Another thing I find that satisfies me is its timing. A lot of the music I listen to happens to be KPOP (or indie music if we are talking about my Western tastes). So to hear something like this amongst my current playlist is actually refreshing. But as confusing as it sounds, I can guarantee, one too many listen of this song can result in it being skipped for another.

The music video features the NCT Dream members and HRVY as well. And it too didn’t feel remotely connected to KPOP, which I find to be surprising. I don’t know what really sets a KPOP video apart from Western video. But I assume colours, boxed sets and flashy cinematography during choreography scenes to be key characteristics. The cinematography, in this case, was crisper and more defined than any video I have reviewed over the past few years.

With all SM Station releases (with the exception of 1), there has not been a live performance for any of the releases. So anything regarding the choreography is solely based on the music video. Based on my simple YouTube search, it seems HRVY has also dabbled in choreography before. So it isn’t surprising to see him do quite well in this performance. But ti seemed to be a simple routine, for a simple song and release.

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

[Review] Romanticism – Leo (VIXX)

Second up on the reviewing spotlight is Leo, the main vocalist of VIXX. He has returned with his solo comeback mini-album, Muse, which features the title track Romanticism. This is his first comeback since the release of Touch & Sketch in 2017. I was prepared to write and publish this review alongside with SF9’s review yesterday but had to delay it due to the late release of the music video (I did watch the original but it disappeared before I got to review it).

The song starts off well. I liked the slow pace of the instrumental, which really drives that mature and sensual sound. The R&B instrumentation definitely set the mood. It was rather interesting how he delivered his lines. It felt like his lines didn’t fit in with the slowness of the track. But this isn’t a terrible thing as I thought of it as a nice effect. I think the chorus was classy and gave the song momentum. But from the bridge onwards, the song lost its flow and anything that managed to be showcased at the start disappeared. The final chorus, even though it recontinued the momentum, didn’t feel as impactful because of the derailment caused by the bridge. Leo did show good vocal work throughout the song but I felt the song could have used something more, like a rap sequence (I am not sure, but I continually heard Ravi’s voice in the background and low key expected some surprise featuring). So overall, I thought it was an okay track. Good at the start but a letdown at the end.

The music video was okay, as well. I did think it was bland and didn’t have anything captivating going on to be worth discussing. I did like the colour contrast between the warmer and colder colours in the choreography set. And I think the camera work in this video worked well with the instrumental. But other than that, I don’t much else to say about the music video.

I think the most likeable element of the comeback is the performance. The chemistry between him and the backup dancers made this performance stand out, sensual and more suspenseful, especially at the start. I liked that sudden burst of energy in the performance when it came to the chorus and I am sure fans enjoyed that pelvic roll.

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

[Review] RPM – SF9

We begin the week off with two sexy comebacks for all the fans out there. First up on the reviewing spotlight is SF9. They return today with their latest title track, RPM, which is featured on the group’s seventh mini-album (which shares the same title). We previously saw SF9 earlier this year through their Enough promotions. Once again, Now or Never will be my standard and Enough fell slightly short of the standard. So let’s see how RPM places.

RPM starts off with a heavy tone and beat, which is a very different opener to what I am used to with other KPOP tracks. I have to admit that this, while is different, didn’t feel ideal at first. But a few listens in later, the heaviness does foreshadowing the dynamic and loaded tone they opted for this comeback. The rapping and vocals complimented this heavier style, which I quite liked. I didn’t know how they were going to pull it off. But after the energy rush we got from the chorus, it felt like a lock and key situation. I also like the suspenseful buildup to the first chorus, which kept me on the edge of my seat. I would have liked a strong vocal hook. It felt like they placed too much emphasis on the ‘RPM’ repetition, which only half satisfied me (The deep ‘Boom Boom Boom‘ that followed the RPM repetition was on point, however!). I would have also liked to see the rapping hasten as we got more of it. I think that could have added another dimension to the song. While there were some weak moments, RPM proved to be a strong contender. But once again, it didn’t match the standard that they previously set.

There seemed to be a plotline in the video. Based on what is seen, I assume it is set in a video game context with a futuristic heist being the main target. It seemed like some members made it through successfully by completing their mission, while others were lost (i..e Chani who took off his controller, which Zuho later picked up). However, based on what I saw, only one member successfully got the end (whoever stopped the sliding briefcase). Based on the lyrics, it seems like they were all racing to love. So maybe whoever stopped the briefcase at the end was the one who made to ‘love’ successfully. Awesome video with really cool effects and visuals.

The choreography for this comeback looks very intense and I am captivated by what I saw in the music video. To me, the standout member for this comeback is Chani, who I think was in the centre position for both the first and final chorus. I couldn’t take my eyes off him as his moves (along with the rest of the group) was powerful and definitely impactful.

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

[Album Review] WE (3rd Mini Album) – WINNER

For today’s album review, we will be having a look at WINNER’s latest mini-album, WE. This was released back mid-May with their title track, Ah Yeah. If you have been a reader of the site for a while, you may have noticed that I have never reviewed a WINNER album before. The main reason for this was because I didn’t think the albums had much to talk about. But WE seem to be changer that may get their albums on my radar. On top of Ah Yeah, the song features 3 new tracks and remixed versions of Everyday and the unreleased track of First Love (which are not included in the album review, per usual).

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WE Album Cover

1..Ah Yeah (아예) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Ah Yeah. (7/10)

2. Zoo (동물의왕국) – To me, Zoo has this laid-back vibe to it which makes it very pleasant to listen to. I find the song to be less proactive than Ah Yeah was (and this is isn’t a terrible thing). Instead, it is a light song that feels suitable following Ah Yeah. The instrumental is interesting as it relies on a mixture of tropical-like sounds and effects. In reality, the instrumental was made up of brass and flutes. There is some energy that you get via the blast at the end, which was nice. I did think the vocals and raps did not stand out as much. I think it is because I didn’t really identify a strong hook that made the song memorable overall. (7/10)

3. Mola (몰라도너무몰라)Mola starts off with a punch. It is striking and kicks the song on a positive note. The chorus is the second positive part of the track. I find the light yet dramatic nature of the instrumental to be equally as striking as the line that started of the song. Talking about the pop-based instrumental, I found that it does get very repetitive, especially after many listens. However, that can easily be overlooked as I found the energy that comes off it is very strong and impressive in many ways. The vocals and rapping were quite good in this song. Even though the instrumental required to be loud to be this impressive, I thought all the members stood out with their vocal and rapping abilities. (8/10)

4. Boom – I have an affinity for songs that give you an explosive surprise. And with the title ‘Boom’, you expect this. But the song starts off in a slow yet paced manner that makes you recheck if you are listening to the right song. And the verses of this track continue the pattern, which I think was interesting. It is the chorus, however, that is most explosive and rediverts the song to be true to its title. The alternating between soft and explosive to be a very understandable but dynamic effect, giving the song character. The ‘Boom Powwowow’ was very catchy and I honestly could not forget this song after listening to it. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

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[Album Review] B Complete (1st Mini Album) – AB6IX

Following the pre-release of Hollywood back in April, expectations were definitely high for the debut of AB6IX. A few weeks ago, the group made their debut with Breathe. And to continue the weekend of album reviews, today we will be having a closer look at AB6IX’s debut mini-album, B Complete. If I was, to sum up their mini-album in a short description, I think ‘this is one group not to mess around with’ would be the most efficient summary for my thoughts. Let’s see why that is the case!

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B Complete Mini Album

1..Absolute (完全體) – Kicking off the group’s debut mini-album is probably everything I had expected with the Breathe (refer to my comments in the Breathe review). Absolute is loaded with intensity through its very robust and powerful instrumental. I personally think for a track like this, both the vocals and rapping managed to shined brightly, which is very rare. Though, I would have to admit that this track would probably be hard to pull off every day for a period of 4 or so weeks (the usual promotional period). It does bring it in line with the release of popular boy groups nowadays such as GOT7 and Monsta X, but still, manage to show off some personality and unique flair. (9/10)

2. Shining Stars (별자리) – Probably to offset the intense nature of the preceding track and to bring upon a lighter nature for their title track, Shining Star does a good job of being the middle man. While it does have a light tone, the track still manages to showcase dance elements in their instrumental, which I think works well with the group. Personally, I like it because it shows us that the group has capabilities of being versatile. Usually, we would have waited for the second or third album release from the group to get that feeling. But by switching it up slightly, the new group have indicated that they know what they are doing in this competitive industry. (9/10)

3. Breathe (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Breathe. (8/10)

4. Friend ZoneFriend Zone is light-hearted and definitely more carefree from the rest of their tracks. I like the rapping in this track, which gives the song some attitude. Not too much attitude, but more like the ‘perfect amount’. While the song does feature prominent dance elements in their instrumentation (like their previous tracks), the song does have a tone that feels like a confession song. Saying that does sound like I have been listening too much of the genre. Though, it seems like AB6IX have different ideas regarding the term Friend Zone, as they refer to the Friend Zone as a step getting closer to their crush and not really the Friend Zone that all people dread. (8/10)

5. Light Me UpLight Me Up, to me, is a very stylish upbeat dance track that I find very addictive. There is a sense of elegance that I felt from the track, which I attribute the instrumental for. The pop-based instrumental (which had some trap influences) is very bright yet powerful, which is expected from AB6IX given their album thus far. I find the track to be quite addictive, as well. I think the song is their best, vocally. The rapping also earns a big tick from me. While the track is very enjoyable, I think the best of the best comes towards the end. I am talking about that short trap-like ending we got. I thought it was a nice touch to the end of the track and it made sense when you think of the track as a whole. (9/10)

6. Dance for Two (둘만의 춤) – Taking a complete 180° change is Dance for Two, which strips always any electronic based instrumentation and opts for acoustics and more traditional instrumentation. While AB6IX has stood out for their dance tracks thus far on the album, I guess they too are not immune from the clichés of album releases in the KPOP industry. The song seems to present their vocals and raps in a more delicate state, which was quite a nice change. I must admit that coming from multiple dance tracks, the song does relieve some of the intensity and energy, But the track feels a little too mainstream and (as I said) cliché for my liking. (7.5/10)

7. Hollywood (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for Hollywood. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

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B Complete Teaser Image