[Review] Love Me – NU’EST

Due to my studies, I may end up publishing my reviews for TXT, VAV, DAY6 and other comebacks on Wednesday. There may also be a possibility that I will publish them over the weekend if things get a little too hectic on my end. Apologies. 

Making their return today is NU’EST with Love Me. It has been a big year for the group so far, with the long-awaited return of Minhyun to the group’s lineup; a full group comeback with Bet Bet and Happily Ever After; the conclusion of their music video quadrilogy storyline; and an Asian tour. And now they are jumping right back into promotions with their new single and mini-album, The Table.

After a string of dark songs (including NU’EST W) releases, I was surprised to hear this release. Its tone is a lot brighter and colourful, which is unlike NU’EST if you are a new fan. But this isn’t exactly new for the group as Sleep Talking (released back in 2013) was also a bright and colourful track. Despite the change in the group’s sound, I did feel like the pop-dance track fitted in with the rest of the discography whilst still being fresh at the same time. Love Me is quite catchy, with the title repeated for the main bulk of the chorus. A little one-dimensional given today’s use of that technique. But I think that repetition really set up the rest of the chorus to be punchy and more lively. The whistling was also another good aspect of the song. I did want more from the vocals and rapping as it didn’t really ping me as memorable. The song went by quite fast (due to its 3-minute length), so the vocals and rapping should have been bolder to really impact me. But the chorus and catchy nature already do quite a bit and I think this managed to satisfy me.

Like the song, the music video manages to be colourful. But given NU’EST’s past quadrilogy (which I didn’t know was a thing until Bet Bet came out), I have a strong feeling that there is a storyline somewhere in the midst of this video. What that storyline is, I have no idea. And it is this potential storyline that has me interested in this video, as the rest of it just doesn’t look too intriguing for me. Apart from the bright and colourful nature that I already spoke about, nothing really stood out to me. Plain and standard would be the right words to use in this sense.

While the moves look good and all the members were constantly moving throughout the performance, I couldn’t help but think that the overall performance did look a little bland. I know, how hypocritical of me. I think I just wanted something more with this comeback and none of the three elements that I focus on in my review really delivered that ‘something more’. I did like the end, when Minhyun and JR had ‘solos’ from the rest of the group, as this part looked a little more dynamic than the rest of the performance.

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

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[Review] Good BAM – N.Flying

Even though it has taken some time to review some songs, do not worry. I am always checking out new releases (and their albums) as they come out. N.Flying’s latest release, Good BAM, is one of the few that caught my attention as soon as it was released. And it has been disappointing that it has taken almost a week to write a review for it. But here t is. This is the groups most recent comeback since they released Spring Memories, which was the followup to their trendy Rooftop single.

I think, given N.Flying’s past tracks that I really enjoyed, Good BAM would have been a better followup single to release to showcase a more mature feel yet maintain that very comedic and fun sound they portrayed during Hot Potato and The Real. Though, I am happy that they found new fans and popularity through their Rooftop release. The song is upbeat and easy-going, great characteristics of a fun night out with friends, which is what the song is all about. I really like the vocal and rapping combination that they went with in this song. I thought it was very dynamic for the casual song and it doesn’t go overboard in any way. There were some catchy moments that I really enjoyed in the song, such as the post-chorus hook, where the singing and rapping converged. I also saw in a live performance today that Cha Hun (the guitarist) also participated vocally in the song, which I think is very exciting as this is the first time for him (though I am not 100% sure if this is the case).

My initial comments in regards to the song can be applied to the music video as well. It isn’t crazy like their wilder music videos. But it isn’t as heavy as their more emotional videos. The video shows the guys having a fun day. Though things were sluggish at first, the fun slowly crept in, which made the night feel more memorable. In the end, we see them get home after a tiring night. But as they say, the night is still young and the group goes out one more time. Though they did manage to forget a phone for a moment and alsmot committed one of the biggest sins of today when going out (One must never forget their phone). Overall, I thought the video was great. It matched the casual vibes of the song and I really liked the neon light writing they had throughout the video to emphasis the English lyrics.

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

[Review] SUPER Clap – Super Junior

Super Junior made their return on Monday with their ninth full-length album, Time_Slip. But due to the unfortunate news of Sulli’s passing, Super Junior delayed the release of their comeback music video for SUPER Clap until today. Usually, I wait for the release of the music video to write a review, hence this is why we are reviewing the song 5 days after its release. This is Super Junior’s first comeback in 7 years since the return of all members from military enlistment. Unfortunately, it is not a full team comeback, with Heechul sitting out due to health issues, Sungmin being an inactive member and Kangin departing from the group earlier this year.

Over the last few years, Super Junior’s releases have been heavily dominated by the Latin genre. Even this album’s pre-release track, I Think I, had some of that influence. So, it is interesting to hear that a ‘different’ sound from the group. I put ‘different’ in quotation marks because it fits in with releases from other artists from a more recent timeframe. SUPER Clap finds itself situated on the KPOP spectrum (the dubstep instrumental break says it all). I find the song to be quite catchy and groovy, thanks to the heavy bass and the brass incorporated instrumentation. I also got an impression that the song was a lot smoother and polished, which is something I don’t really recall Super Junior doing back in the day when I first started listening to KPOP. This polished and smooth feel is something that felt more recent than opposed to the past KPOP hits. I liked their vocals, rapping and the beat, which all made the song enjoyable. I also liked how the clapping was incorporated. I thought it could have been overused or obnoxious, but they had a good balance.

The music video was plain. I just didn’t find it as interesting as it could have been. I think since this was their first comeback as a full group, I expected something a little more celebratory. But that might have been just me, as not doing something celebratory would have meant they jumped right back into their normal routine. It was colourful but it lacked meeting the same level of energy as the song had.

I think the most interesting thing with Super Junior when it comes to their performance is whether their age would impact. And it felt like it does. Their moves don’t seem to be as strong as before. While the song was a lot more upbeat, the dance moves felt like they were more constricted and slower. This was quite apparent during their dance break. They did well, nonetheless, as the performance still looks good.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

[Review] Dear Love – Lim Hyunsik (BTOB)

With Eunkwang, Changsub and Minhyuk currently in the military, BTOB has been very absent from the music scene. From what I know, Peniel has released a couple of singles recently. But none of them was really catered to a Korean audience. Other than that, the rest of BTOB have been M.I.A in the music front. That was until Monday, when Hyunsik made his official solo debut with Dear Love and his mini-album, Rendez-Vous.

As part of the vocal line up of BTOB, he makes his solo debut with a power ballad track. So there isn’t any surprise there. But I think Hyunsik did a lot in this track that really differentiate it from the rest of his team’s vocal line’s solo work and from similar solo artists. Firstly, the slow rock nature of this track was amazing. It does start off sluggish and slow,\. But once you listen to the entire track, you would understand why it started off and kept that same momentum coming at us. It actually lets the song develop as it progresses, similar to a cup of tea. The longer the tea brews, the deeper the flavour. I think the next element that has to be mentioned is his vocals. He is often overlooked when it comes to BTOB releases. But Dear Love proves to us that he has a lot of skills when it comes to singing. I really liked the chorus of the song, which one of the sections that really showcased his powerful vocals and technique. Interestingly, the ‘peak’ of the track is featured in the middle of the song (as opposed towards the end like other tracks), where he manages to showcase that amazing high note. I also enjoyed the ending of the track, which sounded like a western slow rock/ballad track. It is a great track overall.

Watching the video, it felt like the potential for the next romantic movie, particularly since space-themed movies have been on the rise recently in Hollywood. When I saw the astronaut gear in the concept teasers, I took them as a grain of salt, mainly because they tend to trick us. So I didn’t expect this intergalactic mini-movie. Hyunsik plays a lonely astronaut who has a very boring life in space. One day, he comes across another person in space, who is in a similar boat (or ship hahaha…). Despite being in two different spaceships, the two bond with each other and this develops as the video goes. When the two decide to finally decide to meet in person, tragedy strikes. His female companion gets sucked into space, while he is blown back into his ship. He loses her, as a result. Sometime later, he lands on a planet and recognises a familiar shape, which at the end was confirmed (via his smile) to be his friend who was sucked into space. The ending shows two planets coming together, showing that the two finally met despite the evens in between. I thought it was a nicely thought out video and the sets were very intricate, which I really liked.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.4/10

[Review] Aight – Jung Daehyun

We now turn towards a solo comeback. Jung Daehyun made his official solo debut earlier this year with a ballad (You’re My). I call this a typical move for the main vocalists for groups. So it is always interesting to see solo acts to change their tracks with their next release. This is the case for Jung Daehyun who returned with Aight yesterday. Daehyun also recently signed with STX Lionheart to be his managing company.

It is a complete turn around for Jung Daehyun, who hasn’t done a really upbeat dance track in his solo career thus far. While he has done R&B before, the retro influence that is brought to Aight makes it different. The funky and grooviness was a strong element that made the song feel fun and enjoyable. I also like the huskiness his voice brings to the three-minute long track, bringing back the memories of his voice during B.A.P’s heyday. Notably, however, he kept to a neutral mode, which I think made the appeal much stronger. It works in this case, which is a rare occurrence (as you never want anything to be neutral). There was some rapping in the song, which I thought was so-so. However, I wish the fun element extended the song further as I felt that all the neutral nature of the song to be very constrictive, given Daehyun’s known talents. I wanted a drop, I wanted dance break with a strong instrumental. I wanted something more to strength and deliver a punching impact. It is a great track. But it needed something more.

Even though Daehyun is returning under an unknown company, he had a pretty decent budget for this comeback. We saw a pretty low-quality music video for You’re My. Aight actually looked very futuristic and abstract given the different structures and sets featured in the music video. It is a really cool looking video. I really like the use of green and red in the video. I noticed a pattern with the editing in this video, with one longer-duration shot and then a burst of three very quick frames. Usually, I would complain that things moved a little too quickly based on this. But I thought it looked unique (though I am sure this technique has been used before in other videos).

I thought the choreography for this comeback was actually decent. Though Daehyun does focus on the live aspect of the performance, he does participate in the performance with small movements. The actual dance actually allowed the solo act to sing at the same time, which benefited the overall stage. There was also a classy vibe to it, especially during the ‘Attention’ parts of the choreography and the end.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.1/10

[Review] I Go – Kim Jiyeon (Kei – Lovelyz)

I know, I am very delayed with this review. Apologies. Throwing the study card out there as my excuse again. 

It was a very quick teasing process. But Kei (from Lovelyz) made her solo debut on Tuesday under her real name. Kei is the first from her group to actually release a solo mini-album after the group’s debut in 2014. The title track is called I Go and it features on the mini-album, Over and Over. In other related news, Lovelyz has been participating in the TV show, Queendom and recently got a lot of fanfare for their surprising cover of Sixth Sense, which is my favourite performance on the show so far.

Kei is the main vocalist of the group, so it was highly expected that she would debut with a ballad. And with I Go fulfilling the initial expectations of the track, Kei had to bring some extra to ensure she stands out in the crowd of solo acts. And she sure did. I think she was the first soloist to really bring part of her group’s sound into their solo act. While the instrumental is pretty classical-like and it really isn’t much of dance-enabling track, I find the fantastical feel we get from Lovelyz usually was present. It was a nice spin to both sides of the track in my opinion and it ended up being a pretty track. Kei’s voice is very youthful and I am glad she didn’t pick a very serious or emotional ballad as this could potentially drag her down. I must admit that I found the song to start nicely but it got a little too much towards the end. There were one too many layers at the end that made things a little too messy. But apart from that, I thought it was nice ballad to kick off her solo career.

Matching the song is a non-serious or emotional styled music video. The song is about getting out there to meet your partner. But your partner is always by your side, even in the moments where you are alone. I thought the video was put together quite nicely to show this. Kei is alone at the start but ends up tied to this very long white sheet that guides her to her happy place. The long white sheet is like the partner that is beside you, guiding you from point A and point B. I like how the video was presented, with the grass filled reminding me to Taeyeon’s very famous I release. Another thing I really like about the video was the use of colour, which made the video appropriate for every season. It is colourful enough for Summer but feels warm enough for Winter. Likewise for Spring and Autumn.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Review] Double Knot – Stray Kids

I will post my review for Kei’s solo debut tomorrow. 

A lot of male comebacks this week from what I have noticed. And to add to the influx of male groups is Stray Kids. They are gearing up for a future comeback as they released a mysterious teaser which featured Double Knot, District 9: Unlock, Astronaut and Clé: LEVANTER. Double Knot was confirmed to be a single release and District 9: Unlock is going to be their first concert. No word on what Astronaut and Clé: LEVANTER are but my guess is another single (or possibly title track) and mini-album. Double Knot is also the first release from Stray Kids since Side Effects.

The way Double Knot is presented to us is slightly different from the upbeatness and energy that we got from Miroh and the intensity that we got from Side Effects. At the exact same time, however, I think the energy and intensity are still there. But rather, it is very subtle in this hip hop dance track. I found the track to be fierce and very masculine, a side of Stray Kids that I would say we haven’t from the group since their debut days. The rapping is very well in this song, which I think is a common thing when it comes to hip-hop like tracks from Stray Kids. The vocals were also equally as nice. I also want to comment on the fact that the song felt like it held itself back. Obviously, it wasn’t as powerful or explosive like their two title tracks from this year. But, in a way, it creates suspense for their impending comeback that we know will either happen in November or December this year.

That fierceness is definitely transformed into their more urban edgy music video. In this video, it looks like Stray Kids is a gang in the back alleyways. I also feel like the subtle nature of the song really brings out a different tougher vibe to the group, which makes them look very good. I liked the many transitions that were used in this video, which made things feel so much smoother. It isn’t something that you would expect in this video, however. One clear example has to be when the video transitioned between Jisung, Bangchan, Jisung (again), Woojin and Seungmin (around 0:30 of the video). That looked cool and really drew my attention to the rest of the video. There are clues to what Astronaut might be and also elements that tie this video to their previous videos. So it will be interesting to see how Double Knot fits into the storyline.

The dance was equally as impressive. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that the entire comeback comes off as epic. But I  held onto that comment until the choreography because that is what I felt when I watched the choreography for the first time. The initial pose looked really cool. And I like how tough their chorus looked, aligning itself with their previous comebacks despite the different nature of the song.

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

[Review] Wonderland – ATEEZ

The next comeback one this very intensive comeback week is by ATEEZ. 2019 is already a jam-packed year for the group, with the group returning with Say My Name, HALA HALA, Wave and Illusion just within the first 10 months of the year. And as there are less than 3 months to go, there is time for another comeback. Today, the group returned with Wonderland, which is also the title track off their very first studio album, Treasure EP.Fin: All To Action. ATEEZ has also been exceptionally busy since their last comeback performing at every KCON and has also embarked on an Australian tour as well.

Wave took a break from all the intensity that I think many fans have associated with ATEEZ since their debut to fit the more brighter summer season when Wave‘s release occurred. Wonderland returns to that intensity level from their past. Though, I am pretty sure they exceeded it. The song has a very grand and epic start, that I find fitting for this style and the group. It is as if they took the Pirate King instrumental and amped it in a way that made it very different from the original track. There is a lot of energy in this track as well and that is thanks to their suspense building. Those beeps and pause just before the pre-chorus was very impactful and do the job. The vocal work was pretty good. But once again, the rappers of ATEEZ shine very brightly in this song with their rough and strong delivery. I do find the song to be less catchy as I had hoped. But like yesterday’s review, the song might need a few listens.

To compliment the epic and grand nature of the song, the video was equally as epic and grand. It was very dark and I like the vibe this gave off. You can tell by the many scenes and the overall quality of the video that their company went all out to ensure that this will be the best video out of their releases thus far. The camera shots managed to make everything feel so much more intense and made the video feel a lot more fierce. I really liked how they also extended flag-waving into the border of the box. That looked cool and unique. As this is the final section of their Treasure series, I wonder if the videos are linked together in some way. That isn’t something to work out now, but it would be interesting as the videos felt very different from one another.

That epic and grand vibe also infiltrate the stage performance. I think ATEEZ have proven themselves to be an upcoming performance group. This routine and their past ones have also showcased their talents in the performance department. I liked how their entire body shakes in this video. I also like their arm movements throughout the choreography, which kind of reminded me of tutting.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Review] Blind For Love – AB6IX

The second comeback to kick off the week is AB6IX. The group have proven to be a major rookie to beat, earning awards at recent music award ceremonies and topping the weekly music charts with their debut track, Breathe. Today, the group returns with Blind For Love, which the title track off their very first studio album. I think this is the first time a rookie had released a full-length album within the first year of their career and as part of their first comeback. Let’s see what Blind For Love has to offer.

No doubt that Breathe was going to be hard to exceed (the track has grown a lot on me since my review). After all, their debut track managed to set the bar high for any future release. Blind For Love seems to use that same house genre that Breathe had. But at the same time, it managed to change enough to really be different. Blind For Love did contain one segment as part of the first verse that featured the same lyrics and melody as Breathe, which might be a smart way to carry over the Breathe fanfare to this new song. I have enjoyed the new track as well, with a great vocal opener and the rapping sounds amazing. But not the extent that I had hoped for. The chorus didn’t have that oomph or wow factor that I think AB6IX had in both Hollywood and Breathe (after it grew on me). The song doesn’t even seem to be as catchy this time around. A few more listens might totally change my mind. But at the moment, it seems like I am having deja vu to when I first listened to Breathe and didn’t feel like it was enough.

Something that I am sure every fan and music video player can agree on is how good their visuals looked. And while the extreme close-ups do show off their amazing faces, they also add that dimension of mysteriousness that I noted from before. I also really like the colours of the video. It made everything feel sophisticated and trendy. The best colour combination in this video has to be that gold and black set, which really made me go wow. And with that being said, it seems like the wow factor seems to be in the music video this time around.

While my first impression isn’t related to their performance, I really like their different hair colours. Back to the dance, I really liked how they had that bouncing finger from Breathe in the performance. I also think they opted for a different routine for the Breathe sample. I really like Woojin’s solo moment during his rap sequence and also the ‘Na Na Na‘ movement at the end of each chorus section.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Review] Why – ONF

Two major comebacks kick off this week’s comeback rush. The first group is ONF, who is returning with Why. This is the group’s first comeback since the release of We Must Love (released earlier this year). Since then, the group underwent a lineup change after it was revealed that Laun had left the company and the group. From what I can remember, this was announced while the group was confirmed to be preparing for this comeback and I think its pushed the release to a later date as a result. The group have also embarked on an Asian tour as well.

I think Why follows on from We Must Love. A few aspects are different but some are quite similar. While the preceding track was a lot more vibrant in sound, Why felt a lot more heavy and almost held back. I do miss that punchy feel that Complete and We Must Love gave. But despite that, the latest release does have that electro-pop dance style that the group tends to go and I think this was a good move, particularly since I found the past tracks to be very memorable. I thought the vocals were very well polished and I liked the different rapping sequences just before each chorus. Each sequence is different and this gives off a different flair each time. There is a sense of matureness to their song and this is something that makes the group stand out time and time again (for me personally). I also like how the instrumental was keeps changing but it felt liked it was tied together quite well. I did like the energy that the chorus gave the song but I felt like the chorus could have been a step more memorable. This would have made the track perfect for me.

I am not exactly sure if I am meant to watch the teasers that came out in preparation for this comeback (The Signal episodes) in order to understand the complex storyline that is featured in this video. But things got confusing quite quickly. It seems like that is a bit of betraying in the video and also some virtual reality. My guess they all used to be friends but due to the loss of some using virtual reality (which all placed them in different alternative worlds), each member was turned against one another. I think if the scenes were a lot slower, it would have been easier to decode some additional details to aid the interpretation of the video. I do find it interesting and I want to know more about it (maybe a music video theory post?). Everything looked serious and I liked how their use of greyness in the video portrayed this.

Why has a very intense and strong routine, which aligns with the group’s past comebacks. The chorus had a particularly memorable routine, with their moves both snappy and punchy. I also like the lift up they do just before the final chorus, as that looked quite cool.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 9.1/10

[Review] I Think I – Super Junior

I know I have been going on about the reviews being very spread out. But since I have ‘a bit of spare time’ on my hands, it is time to tackle another debut. Super Junior returned on Saturday morning with I Think I, which I believe is not the official title track off their upcoming 9th album, which is due for release in a weeks time. A few milestones for their upcoming album which I will save for the actual title track’s review. In the meantime, let’s dive into the pre-release single for Time Slip.

I thought it was a nice song to ease you back into Super Junior’s appeal. It isn’t as heavy-handed like their title tracks have been in the past, especially their past few Latin-influenced title tracks. Interestingly,  I Think I still has that Latin influence. But it doesn’t so without feeling overwhelming, which instantly pushes up the appeal of the song. Dare I say that it actually feels refreshing and that it is nice to hear something from the same overused trend but redone in a manner that also feels quite different. I also find the song to be very smooth and melodic. I really like the repetition of the English lyrics throughout the song, along with the medium pace that the song’s instrumental features. I also like their use of brass. It was subtle throughout the song and they kicked it up a notch for the final chorus, which I think was fantastic. Together, the song comes off as memorable and definitely gets me excited for the official return of these KPOP legends.

The music video was interesting to watch. The video matches the song in terms of smoothness, where each scene slides into the next in some manner. Some members walk in and out of each scene, which keeps the video rolling in a different manner. I also applaud their use of different transitions, especially that curtain box that reminds me of the convey belts they use at X-ray machines in the airport. I also like the cool blue colour palette they used to set up the underground subway, which I think reflected well with the music. Overall, it is definitely a unique and smart video.

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

[Review] Jopping – SuperM

This has to be the biggest release of the week. After all, fans and the media are dubbing this as the Avengers of KPOP. SuperM has made their debut, consisting of many familiar faces. Featuring Baekhyun and Kai from EXO, Taemin from SHINee, Mark and Taeyong from NCT and Ten and Lucas from WayV (the Chinese subunit of NCT), this very special unit group has dropped their first single, Jopping. It seems like this is SM’s approach to the American market, especially with the growing fanbase for many male groups in the American market. So why not kick start the career of a new group in the Western music industry with the fanbases of four different and established groups?!

Jopping almost didn’t make the cut for a review. To this day, I haven’t reviewed any songs released in only English by any KPOP group. I am in the process of reconsidering, especially since I do Japanese music videos by KPOP groups. But that’s not the point here. Despite the song almost being in just English, there are a few Korean phrases scattered throughout. It is almost inverse of what we see in the KPOP industry (where the English phrases are the sprinkles instead). The title is a mash-up of jumping and popping, which I think makes senses with the song’s meaning of going all out on stage. Anyway, Jopping starts off true to the group’s nickname. It felt almost fitting for the Avenger’s soundtrack. It promised a fair amount of epicness and I think the song delivered this superbly as its progressed. The electro-pop track was fast tempo, powerful, impactful and very energetic. I think the track managed to showcase really good rapping and vocals from each member, with the two being massive highlights for me. I also like their rock ending, which I thought gave the song the chance to end with a bang. Overall, it is a memorable track and definitely one I will be listening to in the coming weeks.

The video manages to pull out some of the best special effects I have ever seen in the KPOP music video universe. You would expect the producers to do that when they are combining the forces of several of the popular KPOP groups in the world at the time. I did think some of them were questionable, such as the green screen stadium they performed in. Liked the idea but it felt cheesy. There is definitely a lot of tension and intensity in the video, matching the song in a very logical manner. A part of me wanted the producers to bring elements from NCT, EXO, SHINee and WAYV videos, which I think would have been a special treat for fans and made the video even more epic. But this is already as fantastic as it is.

With such an intense song, there was no doubt that the choreography would match this. There hasn’t been a live stage for this just yet (I am anticipating their Hollywood debut showcase but that won’t be for another two days where I am), so I am basing everything off the music video. The entire dance looked very cool, with the members looking almost like animals (I say that with total respect). Their charisma flows through. But that would be expected, especially since SuperM brings together some of the best dancers in SM Entertainment.

Song –  10/10
Music Video – 9.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.7/10

[Review] When It Rains – Jeong Sewoon

I seem to have forgotten to mention yesterday that album reviews will be put on hold until the end of the month. But it time to catch up on the reviews. 

Wednesday saw the return of Jeong Sewoon, who has returned with his 5th mini-album, Day. The lead title track of this mini-album is When It Rains. This is the solo artist’s second comeback of the year, following Feeling, which was released back in March of this year.

When It Rains returns Jeong Sewoon into ballad mode, a side of the solo artist that was seen briefly through his 20 Something comeback last year. The difference between that track and this new release is that this falls into the traditional ballad category, which manages to show off a new side of Sewoon. I thought the instrumental complimented Jeong Sewoon’s vocals very nicely. The instrumental was rather typical but it worked really well as a blank canvas. His vocals were really good as well and you can definitely hear the emotions in his voice. The lyrics themselves are already quite loaded with emotion, where he regrets breaking his partner’s heart. But his voice makes it so much sadder, especially that first line where he sings about watching the weather forecast on the TV (a really good opener and ender for the track).  Together, the instrumental and vocal combination gets you swaying along to the music, which earns a big tick from me (It has been a while since I felt like this for a ballad). While I do like the more upbeat sounds he debuted with, I think Jeong Sewoon has shown that he is versatile through this comeback and is definitely a solo act that many people should look out for.

The video takes a literal visual approach with the lyrics of the song. We are shown shots of Jeong Sewoon sitting alone in this cafe, which I assume is where he confessed his love for this girl back in the day. They have gotten along quite well. But one day, he never turned up, leaving her to sit alone in the cafe. It seems like there are a few scenes where she is sitting in the cafe throughout the night, signifying that she did wait. The telephone booth, situated awkwardly in the middle of the cafe was probably the turning point of her night, where she realized he wasn’t going to turn up and ends up leaving. He does end up coming back and ends up sitting in the exact same spots as her, which shows his regrets. Rain was also showed in the video, with the mood in the cafe reflecting a rainy day. Overall, I thought the video was well put together for a ballad and I liked how the colours/lighting added meaning to the video.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[Review] Shall We? – Chen (EXO)

Reading in an article a few days ago, it seems like an EXO comeback with the remaining members who are not in the military just yet is coming our way. But as we wait for that, we get an opportunity to listen to Chen as he makes his first solo comeback. He made his solo debut earlier this year with Beautiful Goodbye. Chen is also one of the first solo artists to make a very quick return after the release of their previous track. Usually, the gap is quite wide. But I am not complaining. Let’s listen to what Chen has to offer in Shall We?.

Once again, Chen gives us a ballad as the title track. But Shall We? isn’t the same style of ballad that we got from Chen when he promoted Beautiful Goodbye. Instead, Shall We? seems approach the ballad genre with a retro mindset, which is a very different approach to any ballad on the charts at the moment. So big ticks for uniqueness already. I really like the brass in the instrumental. It is a small detail in the music, but I thought it gave the song a really nice touch. The rest of the instrumental wasn’t as captivating, unfortunately. It was still good but I wanted the song to pick up a little more as it progressed. Chen’s voice is breathtaking, once again. I really like how delicate his voice gets in this song. I know his tone is a lot softer to match the instrumentation, but I feel like the same comments (as per the instrumentation) can be made for his vocals as well.  I do prefer hearing him with a bolder approach, which would explain why I feel this way. But nonetheless, a really nice soothing rack to listen to.

I found the music video to be equally soothing, matching extremely well with the music. I really like how they captured Chen in this video. From the lights in the night cityscape to the sunrise, he looked good throughout the video. The rest of the video was showing a couple loving each other, which was appropriate for the song. The combination of the two made the video more interesting if the producers opted for one over the other. And it is always nice to watch a music video that doesn’t end in heartbreak, which is surprisingly rare (from what I can remember).

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

[Review] Lit – ONEUS

2019 has seen the debut of multiple groups, some more promising than others. ONEUS is one of those that fall into the promising category. Boasting Valkirye and Twilight as kick-starters to their careers, there is a lot of expectations for the group. And it seems Lit (the title track) and Fly With Us (the mini-album title) will continue this momentum. The group has also launched their careers in Japan, debuting with the Japanese version of Twilight.

Lit stands out for one reason. It incorporates Korean folk into the dance track, which isn’t anything new. But it is kind of rare in the industry, given how electronic music is undoubtedly dominating the industry at the moment. I find the song interesting in that sense as it gives the song a different profile to what we have been hearing. The use of the traditional instrumentation (I am not exactly sure of the instruments used) was quite heavy at the start and as the song progressed along, we got more of that electronic influence. Despite that, however, the traditional instruments still managed to maintain its dominance in the instrumental. Minus the traditional sound, I found the rest of the song to be rather plain. Given the song’s direction, the members ended up doing a lot of sing-speaking. And while that probably gets a few people to engage, the constant change between that mode and just usual vocals made the song feel a little disjointed and cut the flow on numerous occasions. I also found the song to be less dynamic than their previous tracks, which was a little disappointing. Overall, it is something different and I applaud the members for doing this.

With the traditional sounds, it seems like the music video had only one option. That is to incorporate some of that traditional style into he music video. Not exactly sure if it was because of this new direction, but the video is a lot more colourful, which is a side of ONEUS I haven’t seen. To see the members be engaging in a non-serious way was a little odd for me, I have to admit. But at the same time, I thought it gave the video a fun tone and made the video appealing. The closeups were nice and the choreography shots looked cool. I wasn’t as impressed with some of their outfits, particularly that white pastel colour set. It didn’t look fitting with the set.

Given this traditional theme (I really should stop using this word in this review), I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the moves in the choreography were of this influence as well. But there was a lot of typical modern moves. The choreography also seemed to also give off a fun vibe. I also liked the moments in which the song got a little more intense, as the members managed to kick the choreography up a notch to match.

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

[Album Review] Raid Of Dream (Special Mini Album) – Dream Catcher

It is time for another album review and today, we will be focusing on Dream Catcher. The group returned last week with Deja Vu, which was the title track of a special mini-album, Raid Of Dream. The release of the mini-album and the title track was paired with the new mobile game, King’s Raid. And based on my review of Deja Vu, the music video seems to be heavily based on the mobile game. Once again, we aren’t here for the game. Rather, we are here for the album, so let’s have a closer look.

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Raid Of Dream Album Cover

2. Déjà Vu (데자부) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Déjà Vu. (10/10)

3. The Curse of the Spider (거미의 저주) – When I first saw the title of the song, I thought back to the spider that played a part in their initial four-part music video series that they debuted with. And I think the song is rather fitting for that era of Dream Catcher and Dream Catcher as a whole. It has that dance rock vibe that we associate with the girls and the intensity for the song is great. I also liked the rush of energy that the song gives. The vocal work was pretty good. I did like how Dami turned back to rapping but I think she could have gotten a much better punchy sequence, which was noticeably missing from the title track of this album and present all of their title tracks thus far. (8/10)

4. Silent NightSilent Night is no Christmas carol. Instead, it furthers the group’s venture into EDM in a very abstract and aesthetically pleasing way. The track is in no way silent, as suggested by the title. The closest to ‘silence’ that we get in this track is the chorus, which is lowkey one of the best choruses I have ever heard. It is subtly intense, and it made the song very ear-catching. I find the melody catchy and I can’t stop humming the tune once the song ends. The actual EDM kicks in at the end of the track, acting out as the outro piece for the track. It is interesting to place to add the change-up in the track. But collectively, I think it makes the song very appealing and furthers that ear-catching business that they had going in the track already. I think, apart from the title track, this is one of their best tracks ever. (10/10)

5. Polaris (북극성) – The album ends with a ballad. And it is a pretty good track. Very melodic and has a nice classically driven instrumental. All the members sing in this track and their display of vocals was nice. And while it was a soothing piece of put on if you want to relax (or take a break from Dream Catcher’s intensity), I find the song doesn’t really tie the album together as nicely as one would expect. This might be the case because it was placed after Silent Night (and I am still immersed in the preceding track) or that the ballad just didn’t exactly blow me away. But I feel like there should have been one more song to the album, following this album. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

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Raid Of Dream Teaser Image