[Review] Sukhumvit Swimming – ONF

Also releasing new music today is ONF. The 6 member male group from WM Entertainment returns for the first time since coming in second place on the recent competitive season of Road To Kingdom earlier this year. This is also the group’s first comeback since the release of the underrated Why in October of last year. The title of their new single is Sukhumvit Swimming and this is featured on the group’s fifth mini-album, Spin Off. More on that album at a later date (hint hint). For now, here is my review for their new single.

Sukhumvit Swimming is nothing like what I had expected. Unlike in my previous review I had just posted where I had no idea where my expectations were coming from, I had clear expectations for this comeback as I was basing it on their epic New World single that served as their final track on Road To Kingdom. That was undeniably aligned with the rest of their single discography. But just because it wasn’t what I had expected, doesn’t mean that it is a terrbile song. Sukhumvit Swimming is much lighter track. It is definitely more pleasant, easy on the ears and more fun sounding, featuring elements of reggae, trap and future bass in the instrumental. The instrumental knows when to amp up those elements to give it that slight intensity and edge. I would have preferred more, given that is the ONF style that I like best. But obviously the song did not go overboard otherwise it would have thrown the song off balance. Apart from that, the song has a really nice melody that is easy to get into and I can see the hook catching on more and more as I listen to the song (it has already taken an effect on me). Their vocals are quite good, complimenting the lighter and less abrasive instrumentation. I find the song gives us some variety in their tones and voice. Take Wyatt’s rapping as an example, it was also held back and not as fierce in the past in this song. But it sounds a lot more classy and refined here, which I don’t think the group would have been able to show in their more intense tracks. Overall, Sukhumvit Swimming lacks the epicness that we know them for, but I find it offers another side to the group.

The music video is quite bizzare. It seems like they are taking the fun profile of the song and amp it up. What is happening in the music video is very interesting and I would replay the button continually (if I had time) to make sense of this video. It seems like each member is taken to a different world (New World connection?) thanks to Wyatt. Other than that, I have no clue what the music video is trying to show. The good news is ONF fans (Fuse) have been busy making sense of the music video, as well. This is a theory that I pinched from the YouTube comments that made sense to me.

As you can tell, the music video is quite confusing and the above theory is incomplete. There are a few more theories in the YouTube comment, so have a read to see which one is plausible. I really liked the visuals of this music video. It also seems like WM Entertainment recently invested in a green screen, given that it is used here and in Oh My Girl’s Nonstop music video as well. In this video, the usage of the visual effects were pretty good and does not disappoint.

I like that the performance carried on that fun profile that I mentioned earlier. The fact that they started the performance with a bottle flip pretty much confirms this. None of the moves were that impressive, but they all definitely complimented the lighter style that the group was going for. I personally would have liked them to go with something a little more epic looking, given that they have built a name for such on Road To Kingdom. But what we got was still enjoyable to watch.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[Review] Sacrifice – Han Seung Woo (VICTON)

It is the start of a new week in the KPOP industry and that brings new releases. The first new release on the reviewing block is Han Seung Woo’s solo debut, Sacrifice. There is a lot of anticipation for this solo debut, given that Han Seung Woo is one of the former members of the project group X1 (which was formed through Produce X 101). Upon confirmation of the group’s disbandment earlier this year, Han Seung Woo instantly returned to VICTON and particpated in their Howling and Mayday comebacks, further extending his popularity. Now, captialising on his new found popularity, Han Seung Woo debuts today as a solo artist with his new mini-album, Fame.

For some reason, I was going into Sacrifice with the mindset that it was going to a be a hard hitting song, full of drops and energetic energy. I don’t know why that is the case, but I had that feeling when I heard of his impending solo debut track. Unfortuately, none of my unexpected expectations were fulfilled. But that doesn’t mean Sacrifice is a bad song. In fact, it shows off the talent of Han Seung Woo in a very refined yet powerful way. The song is made up of a trap-based instrumental and delves into the R&B side of music. Pretty standard, but there is some bass in it that really give the song some life and some oomph. It is also the source of that powerfulness that I was talking about. The instrumental itself would not have been as strong if it wasn’t for the lacing of the bass throughout it. The chorus has some synths that add texture which prevents the song from going down a bland route (which is a minor concern when it comes to some R&B tracks). Han Seung Woo’s vocals are shown off in a spectacular manner. We also get to hear a very brief rapping delivery from the artist, which I would have liked more of. There is also some nice contrast between his high pictched vocals and the deep instrumentation that backs the track. Overall, Sacrifice nails the brief of a strong debut song.

The opening scene of Han Seung Woo kneeling in front of a car burning some rubber pretty much sets the tone of the music video. The mature sound of the song comes off quite visually in this music video. That is essentially how I would describe the concept of the video in a nutshell. In addition to that, he also brings an edgy image to the mix, which I really liked. Regarding a plotline, I am not sure if there is one explicitly in the music video. We do see a scene where he is grabbing the collar of a friend (or a fellow gang member) at the climax of the video, showing us that he is willing to sacrifice loyalty for a lover. We also see him mindless walking to somewhere afterwards, which might tell us something about this lover (i.e. he is addicted to them, plus it seems like everyone is mindlessly walking towards this lover at the start). It definitely hints at this lover having some effect on Han Seung Woo and co. I wished they delved into the plotline a little more, as it does sound interesting.

[Updated] We don’t get much choreography in the music video. But from what I can see based on the first and final chorus, it looks good. He has a really strong stage presence and this is definitely highlighted by the intensity of the performance. Nothing really stood out at me, but it was definitely thrilling to watch him perform Sarcifice.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7.5/10 [Updated]
Overall Rating – 8.4/10 [Updated]

[Review] Count – 1THE9

1THE9 takes a bow for the final time with Count, an unexpected release but a much welcome send off for the project group who officially disbanded on the 8th of August (just a few days ago). Half a month ago, 1THE9 returned with what I persumed to be their last comeback (Bad Guy) before they were due to disband since their contract was up. In that review, I had wished the group returned more often given that their time as 1THE9 was limited. It turned out that the group delayed their comeback due to the ongoing health pandemic. I wasn’t aware of this and I apologise for making such comments without knowing the full picture. Luckily, 1THE9 and their company were able to squeeze in one extra comeback, which is (obviously) the focus of this review.

Given the context and timing of this release, it was obvious that Count would be a fan-service song, so that the group can thank their fans (Wonderland) for the support they gave to the group for the 1 year and a bit they were active for. The song could easily have been a ballad, but I was glad it wasn’t. Count goes does a typical pop route and I find this more suitable for the current season they are releasing the song in. Whilst pop is the genre of the song, Count isn’t a choreography enabling track. Instead, it focuses more on vocals and they actually sound quite good. I did feel that the autotune that seemed to be used on most of the members could have been toned down a bit. It just didn’t feel necessary. The instrumentation was light and minimal, allowing the vocals to be a clear forefront of the song. It also allows fans to get a sense of the gratitude and appreciative tone that the members put on. The one thing I would have liked and would have made this song even more special and touching if all the members sang the chorus together, particularly the final chorus. It seems like they did do that, but Count‘s take on this technique felt fairly weak. This could have bolstered up the final chorus and fulfilled the missing inclusive feeling that I felt was missing. But overall, Count was pleasant and (I am sure) it did the job for fans and the group alike.

I don’t much to say about this music video given the message it is giving. We see the members enjoying their final moments: putting together a picture collage of their memories on a window, decorating a cake and hanging up some washing. Wait, one of them sounds a little off. I am sure they could have done something a little more touching than laundry. But then again, I am sure everyone will appreciate clean sheets. Other than that lame joke, the most important aspect is that the members are having fun. They lipsync along to the song in a nice manner. It is simple and fits the brief. And I am sure fans are enjoying these moments that the group are sharing on the screen, as well.

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

[Album Review] 1 Billion Views (1st Studio Album) – EXO-SC

Today’s album review focuses on EXO-SC’s latest album release, 1 Billion Views. It has been a while since I promised this album review for a reader of this blog. The long delay was mainly because I wanted to write reviews for each of their duo’s solo tracks that are featured on this album (as they had music videos). I just kept on running out of time to write them and ended up delaying them until earlier today. Please accept my apologies for the long wait! And before I delay it any further, here is my review for the 1 Billion Views album, which features the title track of the same name.

1 Billion Views Album Cover

1. 1 Billion Views (10억뷰) (ft. Moon) (Title Track)Click here for the full review of 1 Billion Views. (7/10)

2. Say It (ft. Penomeco) – There are two main appealing elements in Say It. Unfortunately, neither of those two elements are actually EXO-SC. They are good in this melodic hip-hop track, but I just don’t have much to say about them. The first element that I enjoyed was the instrumental. It is quite laid back and has a lazy vibe to it (a compliment). Interestingly, it is also quite upbeat. Say It manages to find a well-balanced middle ground between having an active consistent beat and that lazy carefree vibe. The second element is actually Penomeco’s featuring. He comes into the track during the song’s chorus and helps smooth out the song quite nicely. I also like his voice and how it compliments that lazy vibe that I mentioned (also another compliment). But as this is an EXO-SC track, I am left wanting more from the main pair. (6/10)

3. Rodeo Station (로데오역)Rodeo Station jumps right out at me with its guitar melody that kicks off the song. The rest of the instrumental builds on this, bringing in some brass and bass to give the song that oomph that I am always looking for in upbeat tracks. The song is more vocal centric, with both Chanyeol and Sehun focusing more on vocals for the most part in Rodeo Station. Both members sound pretty nice in this song. It also helps when the melodies is actually quite catchy and fun to listen to. There is a bit of rapping towards the end of the song and they do give the song a bit of a punch. Overall, I found the track to be quite likeable and each element in the song was appealing. (9/10)

4. Telephone (척) (ft. 10cm) (Pre-Release Track) Click here to read the full review for Telephone. (4/10)

5. Jet Lag (시차적응) Jet Lag is a sentimental R&B track, which is all about wanting to return to their lover in their home country whilst they are overseas. The song is brought to life with pleasant acoustic guitar melodies, which I quite like. My only major complaint with this is that both Chanyeol and Sehun’s vocals seem to overpower the instrumentation at times and I would have preferred a finer balance between vocals and instrumental. However, the duo’s execution of vocals in this song is nice and enjoyable. Their harmonies throughout and the melodies are quite appealing in this song. It is a bit slow paced for my liking, but there is enough in this song to put it on the superior end of tracks. (9/10)

6. Fly Away (날개) (ft. Gaeko) – We get into even moodier territory with Fly Away. I really liked the instrumental for this song. It seems to delve into the R&B realm, featuring classical instrumental in addition to drums and R&B centric percussion. It is a stunning backing piece. Chanyeol and Sehun return to their status as EXO’s rappers by rapping throughout the song. It is a nice change up to their vocal-focus approach with their songs on the album thus far. Gaeko (one half of Dynamic Duo) actually does most of the singing in this song and his voice helps smooth out the intensity that the main pair add to the song. I quite like this contrast and this makes it a powerful track. Given its position, I would put this down as EXO-SC’s hidden gem. (10/10)

7. Nothin’ (Chanyeol Solo)Click here to read the full review for Nothin’. (8/10)

8. On Me (Sehun Solo)Click here to read the full review for On Me. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

1 Billion Views Teaser Image

[Review] On Me – Sehun (EXO)

In preparation for the album review later today, I will be reviewing both Chanyeol and Sehyun’s indvidual tracks that appeared alongside their 1 Billion Views and Telephone releases last month. I had promised these two reviews for some time now, but I just kept on running out of time to post them. But as I always repeat on this blog, it is always better late than never. As you can tell by the title, this particular review post will be focusing on Sehun’s On Me.

Unlike Chanyeol, Sehun has yet to release a solo track in the 9 years since his debut. So On Me is a great gift to all the Sehun fans out there. The song finds itself in hip-hop domain, settling with a trap-based instrumental. Not really a ground-breaking combination or instrumental by today’s standard. But it had good ryhthm and energy that makes the song very appealing. A great thing about solo tracks that I am sure that all of you are aware of is that we get to hear the artist in all their glory. For Sehun, in On Me, we get to hear a lot of his husky rapping voice. It was harsh (a compliment) and added amazing texture to the already rough texture we got from the instrumental. We also got to hear Sehun sing briefly during the chorus. It adds a layer of smoothness to the song. Intererstingly, I liked how his rapping and vocals remained low throughout the song. It is his best sound and he really captialised on this. I also liked how the hooks of Sehun’s solo track (the ‘Forever Love Sad Happy‘ and ‘Work Work Work‘) were all emphasised versions of the huskiness and low tone. This added some depth to the song that I wasn’t sure we would be getting from Sehun. Overall, On Me really puts Sehun’s best foot forward.

On Me‘s music video only goes for a certain length and doesn’t capture the entire song. But as it is still considered a music video, it enables the release to earn a review on this blog. The music video is choreography based and focuses on Sehun’s performance skills. Can’t argue with that, given that we haven’t see Sehun have an opportunity to officially show off his dancing skills in a solo release. His performance really intensifies the song, which is fantastic. I also like the various camera angles and transitions employed, which adds to that intensity. Best part of his music video is when he is moving forward to the front of the dancers with one hand holding a hat on his head. That parts needs to be made iconic and should be appreciated more!

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

[Review] Nothin’ – Chanyeol (EXO)

Excuse me while I divert our attention to releases from a while back now. In preparation for an album review later today, I will be reviewing both Chanyeol and Sehyun’s indvidual tracks that appeared alongside their 1 Billion Views and Telephone releases last month. I had promised these two reviews for some time now, but I just kept on running out of time to post them. But as I always repeat on this blog, it is always better late than never. As you can tell by the title, this particular review post will be focusing on Chanyeol’s Nothin’.

Despite having a number of solo tracks already, Chanyeol manages to show off a different side to his rapping skills through the easygoing yet subtly intense Nothin’. The song starts off with the catchy vocal hook of ‘I will never worry about nothin’‘. I am not a fan of autotune usually, but his autotuned vocals added some texture to the song. The verses come into play and we hear Chanyeol slow rap along to slow trap instrumentation that the song is backed with. There are some guitar that is present in combination with the trap instrumental. Together, these two elements pretty much make Nothin’ sound like straightforward R&B. Unfortuately, the instrumental is repetitive and plain. It is disappointing to an extent, but I also find that this acts as a blank canvas for Chanyeol’s rapping, which is what gives the song some variety and appeal. We do get some profound electric guitar riffs at the very end, which was nice and much appreciated. As the song felt relatively short, the placement of this additional instrument actually felt appropriate. I couldn’t imagine what the song would have been like if this explicit electric guitar was brought into play earlier. Going back to his rapping, you could feel the emotion in his voice as the song progresses. It is subtle, but definitely present. It is also quite captivating. Overall, I quite like the song. It fits the chill nature of the album and direction of the subunit. Yet it manages to add a bit of Chanyeol flair to the song.

The music video is noticeably shorter than the actual song itself. But as there is still a music video, it earns itself a review. The song itself is about not worrying what people are saying and to stick to being yourself. And I thought that the path to the song’s meaning was well shown in the music video. The music video depicts Chanyeol as a photographer. His pictures seem to represent the thoughts and comments of others. After he develops them, he puts them on this wall, which acts like his thought bank. In this life, it is rather monotone and repetitive. We see Chanyeol clearly wants change. Once we see him certain of this, he rips a picture off the wall, revealing a bright light. It is uncomfortable, which is the harsh reality. But he gets used to it and runs away from the underground studio setting. He slowly gets used to it and this becomes a stroll, as shown at the start of the video. Moving away from my interpretation, I liked how the atmosphere we get from the video really suits the moody nature of the song.

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

[Review] Aloha Oe – Cherry Bullet

The next release to be in the reviewing spotlight is Aloha Oe by Cherry Bullet. The track was released on Thursday this past week and follows the release of Hands Up earlier this year. Not much else happened with the group since their last comeback, so this introduction is quite short. So why don’t we just get straight into the review?

Cherry Bullet’s Aloha Oe is what I would consider to be a more upbeat and exciting Summer season track, unlike the previous Summer track that I just reviewed. It is colourful and definitely catchy with its addictive melodic and instrumental hook. One might say this instrumental hook might be squeaky, but I didn’t mind it. Specifically, the chorus features a bright blast of pop energy that makes this song extra appealing. And this blast of pop energy carries throughout the chorus, from start to end, which gives the song an overall boldness that I thoroughly enjoyed. I wished the verses also reflected this, as they did feel quite plain. But this is a good example of how the chorus really compensate for the verses’ plainness (as mentioned in my previous review that came out just before this one). The members had nice vocals in this song, with the lightness and higher pitch suitable for the Summer brightness and energy. There was a brief rapping sequence embedded in the second verse that I felt could have been left out. The instrumental backing for this was slightly over dramatic and Aloha Oe didn’t feel like it needed that dramatic backing (or a rap sequence in general). It did feel overwhelming and scared me during the first listen as it came out of nowhere. But apart from that, I really enjoyed Cherry Bullet’s new song.

While the music video features the closeup and choreography formula, I personally thought it was a really good video. Each member was doing their own thing in this music video, as if it was emphasising the idea of social distancing, which we are all actively doing (I hope). We have a member editing videos, food blogging, camping, partying, watching movies (more specifically horror flicks) and playing tennis amongst other individual activities. We also got the mirror wiping Tik-Tok trend that I am sure everyone has already seen on their social media. One element I really enjoyed was the video’s play on colour. During the individual shots, everything was quite colourful. However, when we got to the choreography shots, the set was more of a blank canvas and the members’ outfits gave that spruce of colour it needed.

Once again, given that the song has that cutesy feel to it, the performance aligns itself with that vibe and adds some aegyo into the performance. When Cherry Bullet does this on stage, it actually looks good. I say this because when other idols do this off stage as a challenge or dare, it is pretty cringy. I also liked how sharp their movements were and how good this made the performance looked.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

[Review] JUICY – Rocket Punch

It is time for the start of the Saturday catch up. Kicking off the start of four reviews that I will be publishing today (fingers crossed) is Rocket Punch’s comeback, which dropped on Tuesday of this past week. Their title track this time around is JUICY and it is featured on the group’s third mini-album, Blue Punch. This is the group’s first comeback since Red Punch, a mini-album released earlier this year, which featured the title track Bouncy.

I found the tropical sounds and melodies that started off JUICY to be very appealing. It really steered the song into that Summer mindset. However, that appeal was shortlived. The first verse came, but it was largely plain. I should have known this feeling was pretty much foreshadowing what was to come. But I gave the song the benefit of the doubt and dismissed this as some KPOP tracks have pretty typical sounding verses, but the chorus manages to compensate for lacking verses. Unfortuately, this was not the case. JUICY‘s chorus was an extension of the verse, a soulless instrumental being the main driving force of what should be the catchiest sequence of the song. Their vocals just didn’t have much energy or life in them. The melodies did not have a memorable element or any energy to help propel the song forward. The second verse was primarily the same set up, with the addition of a messy trap-based rap sequence that sounds off-putting (if I have to be honest). There is a bit of heft to the bridge of JUICY, but it was undermined with the childish sounds that came from the member’s voices and the return of that off-putting trap sequence. Even when we turn to the song’s main hook (i.e. the ‘Juicy Juicy Juicy‘ repetition, we just get an overwhelming plainness that doesn’t save the song. Overall, I am pretty disappointed with this track. And truthfully, I wouldn’t be returning to this track any time soon.

Given what the song is like, the music video is appropriately filled with aegyo. It surprisingly didn’t feel as cringy as I thought it would be nor did it feel overloaded. But even if that was the case, I can’t complain much as the song did lead the video in that direction. Aside from that, I did like the underwater sets and the bubble visual effects that filled out screens. It does look like it is part of some children’s TV show, but it went well with the concept.

The performance was alright. I liked how the choreography kept on moving for the most part. It makes me look at the dance, as it makes me feel that I might miss something. It isn’t a mind-blowing performance in any way (I feel that if it got to that calibre, it would be a waste given the disappointing song), but it does the job fine.

Song – 3/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 4.8/10

[Album Review] Running TOOgether (2nd Mini Album) – TOO

It is time for another album review. And today, I am going dive into a 2020 rookie’s album. I am talking about TOO’s second mini-album, Running TOOgether, which was released around a month ago. It features the title track Count 1, 2 and four additional title tracks. It is my first time reviewing an album from this group. Previously, I was going to review their debut mini-album (Reason For Being: Benevolence) earlier this year, but ended up dropping it from the list due to timing. I might return to that album some time in the future but that might be a while away. For now, here is my album review for TOO’s latest album release.

Running TOOgether Album Cover

1. Count 1, 2 (하나 둘 세고) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Count 1, 2. (10/10)

2. Step By Step – TOO continues the bright upbeat vibes with the groovy and retro Step By Step. The song is a lot more jam packed and intense, as a result. This is no complaint though, as I find this song to be ideal for a good ‘let loose’ session. The song seems to have various influences from the 70s through to the 90s, including synth drums, brass and disco elements. Everything comes together to be a lively and undeniably catchy track. The chorus is super catchy and memorable. And the energy of Step By Step just extends the song’s appeal even further. The vocals were amazing and the rapping was effortlessly merged into the song. Everything in this song just comes together so well. Even better that it leaves me with a gigantic smile once it wraps up. (10/10)

3. BetterBetter is your typical slow pop ballad. It is a nice number to settle to after two awesome upbeat tracks. The instrumental isn’t that ground-breaking as it follows most pop ballads with a drum and piano prominent instrumental. The ending brings in some minute rock influences, but I wished them somehow brought some of this influence a little earlier to give the song some additional life. Vocally, Better really sounds good. The harmonies were the element that initially drew me into the song. TOO definitely boasts solid vocalists and rappers as evident in this track. I just wished their debut track did a better job of highlighting this. (8/10)

4. TaillightTaillight kicks it up a notch, going for an R&B number. Unfortunately, I found most of the song to be plain. That would be the concise way to describe the song. It just felt like an extension of the preceding track. Other than that, I don’t want to blab on, given that I didn’t notice much in the song. However, I do want to make a short note regarding Taillight’s melody. It was good and soothing. (7/10)

5. Dancing In The Moonlight – Based on what I am reading, Dancing In The Moonlight is actually a remake of 1972’s Dancing In The Moonlight by King Harvest. TOO and the producers of the remake did a really good job of modernizing the song for 2020. I really like the addition of brass to give the song a prominent retro feel and how they all sing together for the chorus. It really bolsters up the song. The trap-based rap sequence in the second verse was probably the most unnecessary inclusion in this version. It just doesn’t tie in with the rest of the song. The rap sequence that featured during the bridge was much more fitting for the retro and brass elements of the song. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

Running TOOgether Teaser Image

[Review] BOY – TREASURE

I break the catch up transmission with a review for a new release! TREASURE officially makes their debut with the release of the title track BOY. This is YG Entertainment’s latest addition to their company, consisting of 12 members (Hyunsuk, Jihoon, Yoshi, Junkyu, Mashiho, Jaehyuk, Asahi, Yedam, Doyoung, Haruto, Jeongwoo and Junghwan). The group itself was formed through the 2018 trainee survival show, YG Treasure Box. The show formed two male groups to join the YG Family and was collectively 13 members earlier this year. However, Yoonbin left the group prior to their debut and the decision was made to merge the two groups together to form Treasure. The group’s debut was teased since January 2020 and Bang Yedam debuted as a solo act earlier this year as well with Wayo (to be reviewed).

Previously, YG Entertainment has been heavily associated with hip-hop music in the KPOP industry, with some noticeable exceptions. And I think TREASURE, based on BOY, is another one of those exceptions. They stray away from their company’s heavy reliance on hip-hop and goes down more of the pop route for the group’s debut single. I am basing this observation on one song, so there is a chance that the group might end up going for something more towards YG roots in future releases. That being said, the producers still employ a notable YG element in BOY, which I predicted was coming. More on that later. BOY is quite dynamic and intense. I actually felt this at the very start of the song and they managed to continue this throughout the song. I also find the EDM drop (the genre of EDM is so familar but I cannot pinpoint its exact name) in the chorus to be very profound and refreshing. Their vocals and rapping adds to the song’s dynamism and energy. I really like that they were very clear and crisp throughout the song. The song’s memorable hook ‘I just wanna be your boy‘ was handled by Junkyu and Yedam, who both together form a very powerful duo. Definitely members that I will keep an eye out for. However, the song isn’t perfect. The song starts to unravel after Hyunsuk’s shouty bridge. BOY could have done without the anthem-like ending. It is a very overused YG tactic, so it is very plain and boring. It was good the first few times. But since it is now overused, I just roll my eyes at it. It is done to give the song one last hype moment, but I just felt it overwhelmed everything that came prior to it. But apart from that, BOY is definitely a strong debut song.

The music video definitely has great visuals. From the members to the sets, everything looked exciting. On a side note regarding the sets, there seems to be a lot of depth in comparison to other YG music videos. I say this because compared with this video, other recent YG music videos end up looking more like box sets now. The music video does follow a closeup and choreography formula. But there is a lot of dynamism in the music video as well, so I am not as fussed. I really liked the special effects they added during post-production. They helped heighten that level of fun we get from the visuals in the music video, which compliment the song in a variety of ways.

From what I can see, the choreography is going to be superb. The air guitar-like move and the footwork during the chorus looks very impressive. They seem to use their space very well, as seen in the second chorus. The dance break we get as part of the bridge also looked really cool!

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Review] 2 KIDS – Taemin (SHINee)

Time to continue this week’s edition of review catch up. Next up on the reviewing list is 2 KIDS, Taemin’s pre-release single for his upcoming comeback. Originally scheduled for July 2020, his comeback had to be pushed back due to an injury. But with the release of 2 KIDS, it seems like we will be seeing him very soon again through his comfirmed two part third studio album, Never Gonna Dance Again. There is no confirmed date for this comeback just yet, but I will endevour to review it as soon as it is released, unlike this review which is many days late. In other news, this Taemin’s first solo comeback since the release of WANT.

While 2 KIDS doesn’t deliver anything epic or powerful as his previous releases, Taemin’s 2 KIDS still manages to fit his discography. Given that this is Taemin, it clearly doesn’t have a wow factor to be given that title track status. And so, it comes off as an ideal side track for his upcoming solo album. The new release features an electronic pop instrumentation that opts for lighter and simpler vibes. Yet, there is an elaborate nature to it that enables Taemin to show off his vocals and performance skills (I will touch on this later on). There is an airy nature to the song, making it perfect song to put on while taking a stroll on a breezy and sunny day. His vocals are breathy throughout the song, which definitely compliments this. This combination is quite refreshing. Taemin’s sentimental and reflective vocals were stunning in this song. You could feel the emotions in his voice as he sings about young love. However, I did feel that the chorus was a little too heavy handed with the autotuned backing. I wished that it was a little lighter in this regard. But it at least gave the song some interesting textures to play with. I also wished that he had more ad-libs towards the end of the song, as this seems like the perfect track for Taemin to show off some of his ad-lib skills. In addition to the ‘wishes’, I wanted the song to be less repetitive. The repetition dried out the song and left it boring, especially towards the end. But overall, 2 KIDS is a solid effort and a definite strong teaser for what is to come.

For this review, I will be combining the music video and performance parts of the usual review together. Why? Well, the music video is essentially a performance piece. We don’t see much choreography during the verses. Instead, we see Taemin act throughout the verses. It looks like he is wandering the streets right after an argument with his lover and is reminiscing about his young love. The choreography comes into play during the choruses. And it is just so captivating to watch. I also love the European city setting of this music video. It just adds such a refined and comforting atmosphere to the video, which contrasts nicely with his pain and emotions that he channels through his choreography.

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

[Review] DUMDi DUMDi – (G)I-DLE

Apologies for my absence over the last two days. I will explain myself later on once I get pass the many releases have been left un-reviewed during my absence. Let’s restart the reviews! First up is a Monday release from (G)I-DLE. I actually tried to write a review for DUMDi DUMDi on Monday, but ended up running out of time (as I needed to sleep for work the next day). And here is the review, finally! This is the female group’s first release since their epic Oh My God comeback earlier this year and online concert, I-LAND.

I personally wondered where the group would go after releasing Oh My God. DUMDi DUMDi was not what I had expected. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. First off, it is a very bright and energetic song. And I will compliment the song for that. It is definitely suitable for the Summer season. Secondly, I felt that the song’s instrumental was pretty good. The song does feel quite plain and quite slow during the verses and it doesn’t become exciting and energetic until we reach the chorus. And the EDM we get in the chorus really makes up for the slowness and plainness we got in the verses. The African drums and music influence during select parts added a little something different to the song and it allows the song to standout in the sea of releases we have gotten recently. One of the letdowns of DUMDi DUMDi actually is associated with the instrumental itself. Reflecting over the song retrospectively, it seems like the instrumental is a bit hectic and messy. I wished there was a little bit of more consistency throughout the instrumentation. It sounds good, but it needs to be tied up better. The rapping was probably a skippable section. Sorry Soyeon, but I felt your part was the least memorable in the song. As for the vocals, I am a bit torn about them. Miyeon, in particular, brought an interesting vocal sound to the chorus which makes the song’s chorus memorable. But the more I listen to the song, I can’t help but find the chorus becoming more and more whiny. DUMDi DUMDi has some good and bad aspects. But overall, it is still enjoyable.

The video starts off with a very long ‘context’ preamble, where it specifies that six souls (the members) converge to a motel in the middle of nowhere to spend their ‘most exciting’ day of their lives. Of course, it was fluffed up to be mysterious. But it went by too quickly to actually read while the video was in play mode. The video then begins what seems to be the longest minute and half in KPOP ever. Like most Western films, I felt the entire introductory sequence that introduced each member converging to this motel to be incredibly boring. The Western music did not help. The producers of this video could have directed more time to showing us how the members came together to actually fun. It just feels so random that the members went from being strangers to best friends in a matter of seconds. The rest of the video was essentially of them having a great time, which ties in nicely with the Summer theme. I do have one additional complaint. During some of the solo shots of some of the members, it was quite obvious that the other members were told to sit there and be pretty. I wished they did something in the background rather than sit there and stare at one another or look off into the void.

I can’t but think there are some moves in this choreography that brings me back to their previous releases such as Oh My God and Lion. I am not sure if my eyes are playing trick on me. But other than that observation, the dance was quite fun and energetic, which defintiely suits the song and Summer season.

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

[Review] Who U Are – Kang Daniel

And now, we return (and kick off) the normal schedule of reviews for new releases this week. First up this week is Kang Daniel, who officially returns with Who U Are, the lead title track off his third mini-album, Magenta. I have opted to write his review first as I was a few days late with his pre-release single, Waves (featuring Jamie and Simon Dominic), last week. I am hoping to avoid that with his actual title track release.

I personally expected Kang Daniel to make his solo debut with a strong and masculine sound. As this is something that would definitely suit his image. But for his solo debut and first comeback, we have seen different and brighter sides of him. And with those tracks, he has definitely solidfied his footing in the industry. So now, he can go back to do a sound/concept like Who U Are, which one might argue to be typical and standard. But despite that, I think Who U Are is great song, just with one major letdown. It starts off with horns that really set the dark atmosphere to the song. We are then thrown into a verse made of a heavy bass drum and a mellow flute sound. When it comes to the chorus, he hits it hard and we are blasted with an amped and slightly angsty version of the verse. I really liked the use of those vocals as part of the instrumental for the post-chorus instrumental hook/dance break. A technique used often, but it is also something that maintains the momentum and energy from the chorus in a trendy manner. The second verse more or less goes with a similar set up, though its bouncy opening is a definite killer part of the song. We are treated generously to his vocals throughout Who U Are. We are also treated handsomely to his powerful rapping, which I don’t remember being a part of his previous solo releases. But while powerful rapping is well suited for this strong sound, I wasn’t impressed with the trap-based backing that his rap segment got. It was pretty generic, cringy and just counteracted the flow of the song. This is exceptionally disapppointing as I was enjoying the attention-grabbing ‘Levitate‘ at the beginning of that sequence. I do commend that the transition back into the final chorus was handled well, though. Apart from that rap sequence, everything else in Who U Are is definitely a solid hit for me.

While the song was about wanting to get to know someone in a bold fashion, I didn’t really under stand the apocalyptic setting that the music video was set in. While it definitely compliments the bold side of the message and the strong sound, I just found the setting to be extreme. Putting that thought aside, Kang Daniel was shown as a masculine figure which I am sure will makes fans excited. I liked the play of colours, going from white to red to blue. I just wished the music video was more than just a closeup and choreography formula.

The choreography for this comeback is really good. It brings out that strong side of the song really well. I liked all the twist turns that he does during the chorus. I also like the one stomp that starts off the chorus each time. That was a powerful moment in the music video and will definitely be a powerful moment on stage. The entire final chorus looks really good as well.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[Review] Paradise – Eric Nam

Let’s kick the week off by catching up with reviews for a previous release! Don’t worry, I will be typing up reviews for the new releases of the day as per usual. But for now, the focus will be on Eric Nam’s return to the Korean music scene with Paradise, the title track off his fourth mini-album, The Other Side. This comeback comes after his first English album, Before We Begin, which was released at the end of the last year. It also comes after Eric Nam kick started his first world tour, which has been postponed due to the ongoing global pandemic.

If I had to think of one word to describe Paradise, I would pick ‘pleasant’. Everything instrumentally feels quite balanced. This dance song isn’t heavy, but it isn’t too soft. Even during the song’s most loaded section (i.e. the zippy post-chorus instrumental hook), everything felt balanced. And that is a really positive thing to say, as this song could have easily underwhelmed if it didn’t develop at the right moments or add to itself as it went on. I also feel that the instrumental had some really strong moments. The first most notable instrumental sequence has to be the that keyboard-like synth that kicked off the song. That alone was quite new and fresh, opening the song up with promising feelings. The second notable instrumental sequence has to be that post-chorus instrumental hook that I mentioned. There was a bit going on texturally and gave the song an extra boost of warranted energy. As for his vocals, they were very clear and crisp. I really liked how low he went during the bridge. To me, it gave the song that something different to keep it interesting and also enabled some contrasting with the rest of the vocals in the song. I have to be honest that the song isn’t mind-blowing or completely unique. But it has enough to be a pleasant track to put on during the Summer.

The music video seems to be quite confusing. But I think I got a story out of it. Mind you, this is my own interpretation of the music video. It seems like Eric Nam is a bit bored in his usual desk 9-to-5 job at the start of the video. So he purchases a Paradise switch, which he uses to visit a different reality or ‘paradise’. In this alternate reality, or ‘paradise’, he meets another version of himself, who hands him a note that says ‘Live Your Life’ in French. He then finds himself in a bedroom that is growing into a jungle, lost in the darkness and within the TV, in an anti-gravity workplace and finally a movie theatre watching a movie about himself. All of this stops once Eric Nam switches off ‘paradise’ or this alternate reality and returning to his usual life. Based on what I am reading, this video seems to be linked to the current lifestyle we are all living in. Life currently is the ‘paradise’ depicted in the music video, where things aren’t as normal as it was months ago. But eventually, we will return to that normal from months ago, as shown by Eric Nam at the very end of the video.

Eric Nam claims to be horrible at dancing. And while he does look a little stiff on stage, he manages to dance his way through this stage in a way that we have never seen him before. The start of the performance begins with a little illusion of Eric being pulled into the ‘paradise’ and ends with him leaving the ‘paradise’. Everything in between was quite good and I liked how that post-chorus instrumental hook came to look on stage.

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

[Album Review] 回:Song of the Sirens (9th Mini Album) – GFriend

Today’s album review will be a deep dive into GFriend’s ninth mini-album, 回:Song of the Sirens. This was released two weeks ago and features the group’s latest promotional track, Apple. This comeback is distinctively different to their previous comebacks (such as Crossroads on their eighth mini-album, 回:LABYRINTH, which was released earlier this year). This is another highly reccomended album release from the female group, with a lot of great side tracks. See what I thought about each of the songs below and check them out to see if you agree with me!

回:Song of the Sirens Album Cover

1. Apple (Title Track)Click here for the full review of Apple. (9/10)

2. Eye of The Storm (눈의 시간) – The explosive start of Eye of The Storm really got me hooked to the song. It had Labyrinth (an awesome sidetrack from the group’s previous mini album) type of vibe to it. Unfortuately, the song does not keep to that type of vibe throughout. Such a bummer, as I would have loved a Labyrinth 2.0. Instead, Eye of The Storm opts for smoother pop melody that truly feels like the calm eye of the storm. It feels like an anime OST track, which is an appealing thought to have. I like how the song just keeps going with its fast tempo. It is quite dynamic this way. As for the vocals, I give them a big thumbs up. Their vocals are fluid, flowy and calming, which essentially compliments the title of the song. The melodies are also quite stunning. Overall, a really great start to the sidetracks on this mini album. (9/10)

3. Room of Mirrors (거울의 방) – This time, the start of Room of Mirrors reminds me of the early days of the modern era of KPOP. It actually has a bright and Summery start. As the song enters the first verse, you can feel that the song is a lot moodier than originally thought. The song is more in familiar territory for GFriend with the classical instrumentation. It alone is quite stunning. Paired with the melodies and you have a pretty alluring and beautiful song that is equally as dynamic as the preceding song, in its own way. We get a bit of an electric guitar solo during the bridge just to add to that GFriend familiarity, though the electric guitar does give off slightly different vibes. As like the last song, thumbs up to the vocals. It too is a stunning element of the song. But it is Sin.B’s rapping that really caught my attention and is what really solidified that idea of nostalgia in this song. (9/10)

4. Tarot Cards – One element of Tarot Cards that I like is it just doesn’t stop to take a breath. It might be an overwhelming song to some, as the song literally throws itself at you with its different routes and sounds. But I quite like it due to its exciting and thrilling nature. The start of the song starts off calm, before we are thrown into the fast-paced nature of the song with an opening that feels like the chorus (but it isn’t!). We are then taken on a rollercoaster ride of a choppy yet cohesive first verse that feels like it can be split into 3 distinct parts before being dropped into the actual chorus. And that is just the first verse. The rest of the song follows a similar set up. What makes everything quite cohesive that it collectively comes together to form another anime OST-like song. There was some really memorable parts in this song such as the ‘Shuffle haebwa’ just before the final chorus and the ‘la la la ta ta ta’ post-chorus hook. A definite strong song, in my opinion. (10/10)

5. Crème Brûlée Crème Brûlée is the ‘odd ball’ song on this album. It doesn’t fit in any of the categories of anime OST or familiar GFriend territory. It is definitely has a playful tone and feels experimental. Good on GFriend for trying something a little different. The only issue is that I find the song to be quite boring. The song has this really dulled wooden xylophone start to it that is quite similar to other instrumentation that we have heard from other artists in the industry. The chorus infuses some trap into the song, but that is also something we have heard quite a bit. Their vocals are quite crisp in this song, so I would give the song that. I will also applaud Sin.B and Umji’s rapping in this song, which is another drawing factor in this song. I want to hear more of this rapping in the future, especially since Sin.B has established herself in a previous song. (7/10)

6. Stairs in The North (북쪽 계단) – We have finally reached the final song on the album and it is a beautiful song to end the album with. Stairs In The North is a classical rock ballad that ticks a lot of the boxes for a nice ballad. Firstly, the rock instrumental is quite refreshing and different to usual ballads. The instrumental break we get as part of the bridge where the electric guitar takes centre stage was a killer part! Secondly, the melody is makes me sway along to the song, which is always a sign for a good ballad. Thirdly, their vocals are stunning in this song. Fourthly, I love how the song felt like it was ending for a brief moment, but they instead got the song to fade out with an extensive instrumental break that I found quite captivating. So far, it is shaping to be a perfect song. However, I am not keen on one small detail. That is the sudden transition between the first chorus and second verse. But apart from that, this is such a pleasant and soothing song to finish up with. (9.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

回:Song of the Sirens Teaser Image

[Review] Gotta Go – Soyou

The next release that I want to review is Soyou’s solo comeback, Gotta Go. The release came on Tuesday on this week, so I apologise for the delay with the review. However, as I always say ‘better late than never’. Gotta Go features a different sound from the former girl group member and follows the release of her previous solo singles, The Night in 2017 and All Night in 2018. Since 2018, she hasn’t been active much as a solo artist on her own, but rather through collaborations, such as Rain Drop (with Ovan).

I want to break this paragraph into two parts. The first part is based on what I remember of the song from the few times I have played it while it sat on my ‘to review list’. Admittedly, the only thing I could remember from Gotta Go has to the ‘Gara Go‘ that Soyou sings as part of the chorus. This one thing should not be seen as a bad thing, however. It is super catchy and memorable. Unfortuately, the rest of the song was forgettable and I just wished that it lived up to the same standard that the song’s main hook had set. From this point onwards, everything I mention is based on what I note from relistening to Gotta Go. The song contains a fair amount of sass that gives it a interesting colour. The instrumental is quite upbeat in the verses, which add to the that interesting colour. It mainly delves into the tropical genre that is quite common to the Summer season. Though I admit that this direction was a little unexciting, it was still quite decent. I also didn’t enjoy chant bridge. It just felt over the top and the transition to said part from the second chorus was too sudden, so it was pretty overwhelming the first and current listens. I did like the ‘return to the roots of the song’ that followed in the second half of the bridge. Soyou’s vocals were good, with her husky voice being put on full display in this song. Overall, another decent but different style song from Soyou.

The music video for Gotta Go is really good. It starts off with Soyou has part of a fashion show crowd. And while the attention was on the runway, Soyou grabs attention by joining the fashion show without security jumping at her. Interesting. I do like this set up though, as the runway soon becomes her stage for the first chorus. As we dive in the second verse, we are taken behind the scenes of the fashion show. I really like it when she is dancing in the midst of the hectic behind the scenes shots of the fashion show. It just feels very different from most videos and works the choreography shot so naturally into the music video. I also like how she returns to the runway for the final chorus, bringing the video to a close with her walking off the runway. I enjoyed this video and everything looks good. Soyou also has a really sexy figure that she shows off throughout the video, which works with the theme of the video, as well.

The choreography looks good. I liked the use of the piece of fabric. She wraps it around herself and she uses it almost like a curtain during some parts. The chorus also had a memorable move, which was quite nice. I won’t be doing it when I think of the song in the future. But I will definitely imagining the move!

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