[Album Review] Grown (3rd Studio Album) – 2PM

Due to the number of songs on the album, this album review post is quite lengthy. 

Today’s ‘Past’ album review post will be focusing on probably what I consider to be 2PM’s most memorable album (form the top of my head). Grown was released back in 2013, featuring both A.D.T.O.Y and Come Back When You Hear This Song as the title tracks (links to their respective review can be found below). And while this album is almost 6 years old, I still return to it often. They did release a repackaged version, which contained many more songs but I think that is suitable for a follow-up post in the future. But before we get to that, we have to look at the original version!

Grown Album Cover

1..A.D.T.O.Y (하.니.뿐) (Title Track) – Most of my comments in my original review stand. However, I felt that a 7/10 is a little unfair for this album review as I have enjoyed the song countless times since its release. Hence I have bumped up the ranking by 1 point. Click here to read the full review for A.D.T.O.Y. (8/10).

2. Come Back When You Hear This Song (이 노래를 듣고 돌아와) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Come Back When You Hear This Song. (8.5/10)

3. Zero Point (원점으로) – This is the style of KPOP that I want an artist to revisit. To me, this song sounds quite like Come Back When You Hear This Song. It utilizes a traditional synth-pop (but more pop centred) instrumental and is very easy on the ears. It shows off their vocals and I really liked the melody of the track. Those ‘violins’ they use in the chorus was so good, despite them feeling synthetic. I also liked the extra few seconds of suspense they add to the song during the pre-chorus, which makes this track so good. There were a few moments just before Taecyeon’s rap sequence that I thought they could have gone down the trap route but that is something common today and not so much back in the day. And this just makes the song feel so much more wholesome feeling. (8.5/10)

4. I’m SorryI’m Sorry is an R&B track that has a very smooth feeling, which you can feel straight away from its initial second. There is this sensual vibe going in the song, which I think the smooth R&B sound cannot avoid. But it definitely a mature sound that I personally like from 2PM. Once again, sleek vocals and amazing harmonies are heard in this song. The rapping was well tweaked for the song as well. My favourite line has to be Chansung’s “So I can’t stop stop stop thinking about the time…”, which is constantly replaying in my head. (8/10)

5. The First Date (오늘부터 1일) – Opening up the song is some piano. And from the first second, you can tell this song is going to be lively, changing the album’s flow. While the piano was nice, the brass in the chorus was perfect. It came on just at the right time and managed to add an extra influx of energy that I did not even know was missing from the song. The song is also capped with great vocals and I liked the rapping, which also added to that addition of energy that I have mentioned. (8/10)

6. Dangerous – The song has this jazzy and upbeat vibe to it, which gives it an intriguing feel. And as much as I want to like the song, I think Dangerous is a little weak compared to the other tracks on the album (but that in no means it is bad). It has a nice clean and modern touch, which from memory was something that was extremely big at the time of its release. The vocals were good and I thought the rapping added a little smugness to the song. I just think its placement in a sea of great songs was probably its biggest downfall. (7/10)

7. One More Day (오늘 하루만)One More Day takes the form of a ballad. It is a nice soothing track to really kick back to. I don’t think it stands out much, like Dangerous and probably for the exact same reasons. I did like the instrumental of the track as it incorporates soft synths into the otherwise classical instrumental. I think it gave the song some character and really differentiated it from other ballads. I am personally not sure if a rap sequence was necessary. Taecyeon’s execution is not the problem but for a ballad, it felt a little too much. (7/10)

8. Game Over – Intensity has been missing from the album thus far. So it is really nice to really get something loaded with it. The powerful instrumental really sets it apart from any other of their songs (and if memory serves me right, any song released at the time). I wonder why they didn’t go with this track as one of the title tracks. It had maturity, an awesome dance break section, amazing vocals and definitely underrated rap sequences. Jun.K’s line ‘This Endless Game’ replays hauntingly in your mind as it was an impactful finisher to the song. (10/10)

9. Coming Down – Based on what I know of music and from movies, this is probably something you hear somewhere that you need to spend a lot of money. Otherwise known as a classy bar or cafe music. Coming Down follows a similar comment pool as per the jazzy songs before. But there is a little more to the song that makes this one a little more likeable. The jazzy vibes are felt but they don’t seem to be as prevalent, which I think is a rather refreshing twist. The vocals and rapping are just so clear and undeniably interesting. Hence, this is why I think this song a little better than the others of the same nature. (7.5/10)

10. Go Back (고백)Go Back is one of those misleading tracks. The song started off as a ballad for the verses. But out of nowhere, the song builds up to a techno-focused chorus. I am not sure if it was the first of its kind but it is a rather interesting mix. And while the two are very different extremes, the song does merge well together. I also like how Taecyeon’s rapping was kind of the intersection of the two sides, as this isn’t something that occurs that much even in today’s songs where the mashup of two genres occurs often. I also enjoyed the ‘Eh Oh Eh Oh’ hook of the song as well. (9/10)

11. Love Song – An album will always have a weak song. That is how things work. Any fan who says that say each song is perfect on any album is probably lying to themselves. And since I started this section like this, I think you know what I am going to say. Love Song is the weakest track on the album. I think this song was the hardest to connect to. That jazzy sound returns and does show off some maturity. Some vocals also flourished but I simply pass over this track every time I return to the album. (6.5/10)

12. At Times (문득) – This is as ballad-y as you can get with a ballad. At Times is 2PM’s push for a promising ballad and I think they nail the song. Taecyeon started the song off very soft singing and by the time we swing to the chorus, the vocals make it feel like the peak of a ballad. It pushes the song forward and makes it feel very elegant and extravagant at the same time. But what makes this song so good is that it continuously builds, resulting in the final chorus to be truly spectacular (ticking all boxes for my style for a power ballad). I think it is a beautiful ballad and a powerful ending to the album. (9.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

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[Review] Fancy – TWICE

TWICE returns today with a brand new look and ‘Fancy’ title track. If you haven’t noticed from the title of the page and my lame pun, the group has returned with the title track named Fancy. April has been a relatively quiet month but the song war is still ongoing on the digital charts of Korea. From what I noticed the last two months have been filled with comebacks from strong digital performers, which has caused a lot of chaos (good chaos). And Twice is currently the newest contender to gives these other artists some competition.

The way Fancy starts off gives me a retro pop feel, similar to something we could have heard in the 80s. But as the song progresses forward, you can hear a cleaner and modern mix in the synth-pop instrumentation. Interestingly, the track had a more mature feel, despite it still containing that brightness that we have come to know of TWICE releases and I attribute that to the song’s instrumental. Also when it comes to TWICE’s releases, the first thing I always do is search for that addictive hook that would make the song so promising. However, I felt like this song lacked that. There were plentiful hooks but I don’t think they were as addictive as their past predecessors. Vocally, the song was good. But I wanted more variety has the song got towards the end. A high note would probably be ill-fitting but it needed something to signal the end of the track was fast approaching. I also felt that a rapping sequence would have made the song a little more interesting. With this mature sound, I think the rapping sequence could have enhanced the song further. To me, this isn’t TWICE’s strongest release. But it still quite good.

Who loves TWICE’s new look? I do! While the music video does have a more standard format, I found the solo shots of each member to be extremely captivating, which definitely draws my attention to the replay button once the video ends. I also like the edginess that some of the shots featured, which if you know me, is definitely an appealing point. I also really like the black and pink backdrop to their choreography shot that they are all wearing black in. Probably the edgiest the group has been in their career thus far.

I really enjoyed the performance for this track. The introduction was so good and the chorus looks fitting for the energy that we get during this part of the song. I also like the circle formation as the end, which I think was quite progressive.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10

[Album Review] Genie:us (8th Mini Album) – Pentagon

Pentagon made their comeback a few weeks back with Genie:us and the title track, Sha La La. It has been some time since the release as the group has wrapped up their primary promotions already and have gone onto follow-up promotions with another single on the track (see which song in the review below!). This is another high-quality album that demonstrates the group’s potential. It also features a number of fun (a highly repetitive word in this review) sounding tracks, along with two subunit tracks (where the group is split into a hip-hop and ballad unit). Now, let’s have a closer look at the album.

Genie:us Album Cover

1..Sha La La (신토불이) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Sha La La. (7.5/10)

2. Lost Paradise (Hip Hop Unit) – The Hip Hop unit of Pentagon is made up of Kino, Wooseok, Hui and Yuto. To me, Lost Paradise talks about wanting to overcome the lost feeling you get in life but it is done with a harsh and grungy tone., which I think fits the ideal sound that you expect of a hip hop unit. I really like the subtle rock instrumental that really gives the song its identity. At the very forefront of the song is Wooseok, who stands out from the rest of the members by utilizing his husky voice. That being said, the other members did a pretty good job as well. They just didn’t shine as brightly as Wooseok did. Overall, Lost Paradise was remarkably appealing. (9/10)

3. Until That Moment (그 순간 그때까지) (Ballad Unit) – Pentagon’s ballad unit is made up of Yeo One, Yan An, Hongseok, Jinho and Shinwon. It does follow that typical classical ballad route but given Pentagon’s past ballads, I am super excited to hear the track With ballads, the most talked-about aspect of the song would have to be the vocals. It was very breathtaking. If I were to pick one member who shined the most in this unit track (like in the previous track), Jinho comes out on top. But like Lost Paradise, each member was spectacular, established through that amazing peak in the bridge delivered by all the members. Once again, this is the type of song to beat. (10/10)

4. Alien (에일리언) – We return back to tracks that featured the entire track. Listening to Alien, I think this would have followed nicely from Naughty Boy in their previous mini-album. It is a fun track that has random elements that really jump at you for its quirkiness. The first element that I noticed was the complete change up at the start of Wooseok’s rap. It didn’t fit into the track at first, so I was going to say something negative about it. But it wasn’t until I heard Shiwon’s ‘Have a good nice day’ shout and Hui’s follow-up falsetto that it clicked that it was meant to be random. I also thought the lyrics were random as well but fitting for a quirky song titled Alien. (8.5/10)

5. Spring Snow (봄눈) – The way Spring Snow started off reminded me of the music for a 90s sitcom opener. And although it makes me cringe, I can totally imagine Pentagon doing one of those openers. With that in mind, you can tell that the rock based instrumental and song overall was going to be extremely fun sounding and upbeat. What makes it even better is that the song was extremely catchy, with the vocals and rapping extremely vibrant. So it is no wonder that this song was chosen for their follow-up promotions (that they are currently in the midst doing). And while this does set off the cringy thought process, I thoroughly enjoyed and will definitely be returning to the track in the future. (10/10)

6. Round 1 (Bonus Track) – Rounding out the trio of fun songs and also the final song on the album is Round 1. And they playful diss each other in this track. Each person, apart from Wooseok who talks nice about himself, takes a turn in playfully making fun of another member. Not flushing the toilet, staying indoors instead of walking their active dog and being a scaredy cat are just some of the things that pop up in the song. I won’t spoil who those comments relate to, so definitely check out this song. The song is rap driven, which I think makes the song extra fun, especially through the different techniques each member uses. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

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[Review] Blossom – Eunha (GFRIEND) & Ravi (VIXX)

It has been a while since we heard a collaboration. It seems like this isn’t going to be a recurring thing in 2019, based on the number of collaborations thus far in the year. However, we were provided with some relief with the release of Eunha and Ravi’s collaboration for Pepsi last week on the 11th of April. This is also the second year in a row that Pepsi has asked KPOP idols to come together for a collaboration, with YDPP and WJMK releasing two songs last year with Pepsi at the forefront of both videos.

Despite the visuals of the music video, Blossom is not necessarily that cutesy love song that you are looking for that companies have utilised in their campaigns. This style would obviously not suit Ravi, as per his husky vocals and usually hard-hitting rap style. Instead, Blossom is a subtle pop track with a lot of sweetness mixed into it to make it appropriate for Spring. I really like the rolling drum beats in the moments that the song is building up, which gave the song a sharp incline to the chorus. Other than that, the instrumental was rather light and calming. I also liked the whispering at the start of the chorus, which I thought was rather sleek. While we all know that Eunha is a vocalist (I really liked her in the first verse. The melody was also quite nice) but it was surprising to hear Ravi sing for his chorus and some of his verse. I also like how his rapping wasn’t as hard-hitting as based on his solo and VIXX works. Rather, it was well tweaked to fit the light nature of the song. It felt like I jumped around between different aspects for this part but overall, the song was quite nice. 

Based on the video, cherry blossom season is in full swing. And the video takes full advantage of the pretty sights. The song ‘cheers on young people to achieve their dreams and also their pursuit for romance’ and we get to see those two sides in the video. Ravi is an aspiring artist, while Eunha is auditioning to be an idol. The two do face some hardships but manage to push through. And in the midst of their slumps, they meet each other and become interested. Some awkward meetups happen and they end up dating one another. And it is incredibly convenient that Pepsi sponsors their entire romance storyline. Hahaha…

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

[Review] Another Night – Yoo Youngjae

The two days of B.A.P related reviews was not intentional. I was just holding off Jung Daehyun’s You’re My review until I had time to write it. And it just happens to be the day before Yoo Youngjae’s solo debut with Another Night. Youngjae has had solo tracks up his sleeve, such as his collaboration with former Secret member Sunhwa. But he has yet to review a solo album since his debut with B.A.P back in 2012. But that changes today, with the release of his Fancy mini-album. Since departing from TS Entertainment, Yoo Youngjae has signed on with J Harmony Entertainment.

Given my mentality, the main vocalist of a group always ends up going down the ballad route for a solo track. And this has been proven to be incorrect on numerous occasions.  Another Night once again how I should really dump this train of thought. Youngjae’s solo track is another tropical influenced track that suits the warmer climate that South Korea is approaching. I say it is tropically influenced as I think the chorus used electric guitars to give off that effect, rather than using the common tropical house synth. I think that was an interesting changeup to the trend. Youngjae’s vocals are also really nice, with his voice being extremely clear and it also flourished with an instrumental that wasn’t overwhelming.  For the second verse, there seems to be a bit of rapping influence brought into the song. I thought this was rather interesting and it managed to give the song a much-needed change in texture. I personally think Another Night is a decent debut track to start off on, as it manages to throw Youngjae’s charms right at you.

The music video can be taken as a very persistent guy, played by Youngjae, trying to get the attention of his crush. Or be a thriller, with Youngjae being the main star as the creepy stalker. But since the song is suited for a brighter climate, I think the initial option would be a better fitting storyline. I like the crispness of the music video, with the quality being a very appealing aspect to the music video. And I think having a music video being all smiles really pushes the cheerful emotion onto you, which I personally do not mind.

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

[Album Review] O’Clock (1st Mini Album) – Park Ji Hoon

Things are starting to get exciting for the former members of Wanna One. We are currently in the midst of solo debuts from members of the project group (including Yoon Ji Sung, Minhyun and Ha Sung Woon, with Bae Jin Young debuting next week). We also have NU’EST returning and AB6IX debuting shortly. Today, we are here to look at another Wanna One member’s release, Park Ji Hoon’s solo mini-album, O’Clock, which I think is a very promising release. Congratulations to Park Ji Hoon on his Music Bank win a few weeks back, as well. So, let’s definitely start with this closer look at his album.

O’Clock Album Cover

1..The Beginning Of... (Intro Track) – Park Ji Hoon starts off the album with the song that ends his L.O.V.E music video. Despite knowing that he was a rapper during his time as part of Wanna One, I did not expect his voice to be this raspy. That isn’t a bad thing, however, as it gives a nice texture to the opening track. I also like the high pitch moaning at the start of the song (and throughout the song). It gives a unique touch which I quite like. The line ‘The Beginning of New Love’ that Park Ji Hoon sings is a little awkward (I didn’t know that he was singing in English until I saw the lyrics) but other than that, it was a nice opener (and music video end-er). (9/10)

2. UsUs is an R&B track that places a lot of focus on the solo artist’s vocals. I personally do not mind the song but felt it was a weak track. While the song does showcase his voice really well, I couldn’t help think that the instrumental was a little too distant and light during the verses. Usually, I like to think that the instrumental support the vocals in a variety of ways. But in this case, the verses felt bare and lacked a supportive background. For the choruses, this feeling wasn’t there, and it felt like a standard song, which was nice in comparison to the verses. I also felt that Us would benefit from a rap sequence of some kind. I think that could have given a boost to the song and filled up this void that I felt once the song ended. (7/10)

3. L.O.V.E (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for L.O.V.E. (9/10)

4. Would You – Out of all the tracks on the song, Would You was the most colourful. So far (and the few tracks that follow) were quite moody, so it is nice to have a track that has really vibrant and bright colours. The instrumental has this feel-good feel to which and it allowed for Park Ji Hoon’s vocals to sound cheerful for once. We also got some rapping in the track, which I think suits the upbeat nature of the track. The chorus also featured a nice melody and I found it to be quite catchy. I also think the track suits the image that I know of Park Ji Hoon, which has always been youthful since his Wanna One days. (8/10)

5. Dawn Moon (새벽달) – I thought the screech-like synths and Park Ji Hoon’s whispering start was rather cool and opens up this track to be quite promising. And he delivers in this aspect. The verses were standard once again but featured a nice build up to a chorus made up of half vocals and half instrumental. I find this particular order to be somewhat refreshing, I also found the chorus to be quite impactful despite it not being as colourful as other EDM based choruses with hard drops. The drop the song went with felt dynamic upon reflection and really made the song progress along. My favourite part of the song has to be the climax in the bridge. The song needed a peak and I think this was appropriately done in this track. (8/10)

6. Young 20Young 20 is produced by fellow Wanna One member Lee Dae Hwi (who will be debuting in his own group alongside Park Woo Jin very soon!). It is also another vibrant song but it is no way near as colourful as Would You….I really like the layering of vocals and the harmonies that Park Ji Hoon (and the backing vocals) contribute towards. While I did like the vocals a lot, the rapping was equally as good. It gave the song a punch. I could imagine this track with really fun dance choreography, thanks to the instrumental. Altogether, it is very dynamic, which I think allows it to stand out as a promising contender to the title track. And with this track, I am now looking forward to future Park Ji Hoon and Lee Dae Hwi future releases! (9/10)

Overall Album Review – 8.3/10

O’Clock Teaser Image

[Review] You’re My – Jung Daehyun

Returning as a solo artist is Jung Daehyun. Daehyun is a member of B.A.P. However, it is has been a rough few years for the group due to scandals and lawsuits. While they did return for a while under TS Entertainment, this was short lived for unknown reasons. After that, some members left the group and ultimately the remaining four left TS Entertainment earlier this year (though, it seems like they haven’t formally disband yet). Daehyun signed on with Wecan Company and released his first mini-album earlier this month. The lead track is You’re My.

You’re My is a ballad, something I had expected from Daehyun for his first release (which ended up being an R&B dance track). To me, the ballad is rather typical, instrumental wise. It has an orchestral vibe, along with some drums in the background. Nothing that exciting as you can see. However, Daehyun’s vocals are what keeps this song from being too boring. His voice starts off quite soft but when it gets to the chorus, Daehyun’s powerhouse vocals kick in, giving the song a needed boost in terms of energy. It builds alongside the instrumental but as it is at the forefront, it felt like his vocals gave more to the song. The high note and ending felt a little muddled in my opinion. With the high note being at the start of the bridge and the end introducing new melodies, I felt like it was a little too loaded. But overall, it was a fair ballad that lets us enjoy a bit more of the song.

The music video starts off showing Daehyun finding a camera. It seems to bring past happy memories back to Daehyun. These memories feature his partner, who I think leaves for a faraway place. But the two are still together at the end of the video, judging by their Skype call. At the end of the video, Daehyun moves out and takes a final shot of the apartment that he shared with his long-distance girlfriend. And he departs with a smile on his face. It is always nice to see a ballad that isn’t about the sad emotions. On top of that, the video showed nice scenery and this went nicely with the happy memories. It wouldn’t be my pick for best music video but it was still nice overall.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[Review] Spotlight – 1THE9

Weekend releases are quite uncommon, especially at the start of a group’s career. 1THE9 made their respective debut over the weekend, with their first album release occurring on the 12th of April (Saturday). Currently under MBK Entertainment, 1THE9 was formed through the survival program, Under Nineteen. Also based on the name, the group has 9 members including Yoo Yong Ha, Kim Tae Woo, Lee Seung Hwan, Shin Ye Chan, Kim Jun Seo, Jeon Do Yum, Jung Jin Sung, Jeong Taek Hyeon and Park Sung Won. Their debut track, Spotlight, is featured on the mini-album, XIX.

Spotlight follows the trend of Latin pop, which we all know has been dominating KPOP for the past year or so. And as it goes for a very overused trend in the industry, the song fails to really standout. It also doesn’t help that I thought the song was rather weak in terms of hooks and memorable elements. I found the main hook (the ‘Merry-go Merry go-…round‘) in the chorus to very, once again, very typical and not that catchy overall. I feel like more could have been added to the instrumental to make the song pop right out. I had the craving for some electric guitar towards the end, which I think could set the track up to be slightly more powerful. The vocals were alright. They just didn’t have anything to really make me go wow in this domain. The rapping was a lot more interesting. I liked the tone and it really showed a lot of potential down the road! Overall, Spotlight was an okay debut track. It was just very typical.

The music video starts off with two songs that I assume come from their mini-album. The actual Spotlight song doesn’t start until 1:07. However, the presence of the two other tracks didn’t allow the video to flow too nicely and a little hard for me to get through. The same thing could have been said about the music video. It connects with their album teaser’s video but it seems to be its separate story. The members end up having a party in the gymnasium, which seems to upset the coach (who already had previous beef with one of the members). He is escorted away and they all have fun partying. The entire Spotlight subsection in the video isn’t connected to any of this and I wonder why the start and end were even wrapped around it. This subsection contained bright vibes through the use of vibrant colours in the choreography and solo shots. I did think this was a little too much, as I felt a darker vibe could have really shown a nice contrast. But that wouldn’t fit the group’s young image.

The choreography was rather nice. Finally, something that wasn’t typical or confusing. I liked their energy and the post-chorus section was probably my favourite parts of the entire performance!

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.4/10

[Review] Danger – Super Junior D&E

Returning to the stage once again is Super Junior’s Donghae and Eunhyuk with their latest mini-album and the title track. Danger. It hasn’t been that long since we last saw them through their ‘Bout You promotions but that was 8 months ago, which can be considered to be a lengthy absence especially in the highly competitive industry of KPOP right now. But Super Junior doesn’t need to worry about this as they have a very loyal fanbase who will continually support them years to come! And I am sure the support extends to their subunits. So let’s have a closer look at Danger.

Danger is a song that boasts energy and edginess due to the nature of the instrumental. It takes on rock, trap and other forms of EDM in the song, creating an atmosphere that is best described as intense. The presence of the fast trap elements in the chorus gives it almost an ethnic vibe, which I think is rather interesting. But while intense is the right word, the song could have potentially benefited by extending this intensity by going a little more extreme with it. I think we are given a tiny taster to that potential at the end when it is built from suspense. But I would have liked it if it were gradual. Moving to more of the members, the rapping at the start was a pretty nice opener and sets up the song well. Donghae follows through with some vocals, which I think was also quite good. Sure, there isn’t anything mind-blowing in terms of technicalities and techniques. But they were rather captivating for a song like this. Overall, Danger is a pretty nice song to listen to.

I think the video matches extremely well with the vibes of the song. The edginess is taken on board in the video by going with its dark lighting and the possible participation in gang-like activities (though I don’t that is the exact words they would use to describe the video). Apart from that, I think the video has some great cinematography, especially the scenes where we can see them in a circle by looking up from underneath.  I thought it is quite cool.

Performance wise, it is really good. I think the biggest fear with Super Junior (and many senior groups) is that the choreography standards just continually become more intense. To the point where you don’t know if these senior groups will be able to keep up. But for the main dancers of Super Junior, they do a pretty damn good job. The chorus has t be my pick for the highlight of the entire choreography routine.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Album Review] Map Of The Soul: Persona (6th Mini Album) – BTS

Left right and centre, BTS has been all over social media (for me at least) for their comeback on Friday with Boy With Luv. This title track featured on their 6th mini-album, Map of The Soul: Persona, which was also released on the same day. So, it would be a major pity for me to delay the album review to next weekend, especially since BTS is getting so much attention. They have been confirmed to now be the fastest video to be viewed 10 million times on YouTube, whilst also be the first KPOP act to perform on Saturday Night Live. They have also broken even more records on other platforms since I published my review for Boy With Luv (link below). Phew, a lot of stuff to keep up on! But here is my review as a treat!

Map Of The Soul: Persona Album Cover

1..Intro: Persona – Performed by just RM, the introductory track to the album centres on rapping, as this is RM’s forte. The song has an urban rock type of vibe to it, which I quite like. And while it does fall into that description and still manages to fall into the hip-hop roots, the song is very light, and this makes it an excellent taster to the album. Unlike most introductory tracks, Persona lasts around 3 minutes but somehow still goes by quite quickly. (8/10)

2. Boy With Luv (작은 것들을 위한 시) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Boy With Luv. ()

3. Mikrokosmos (소우주) – The third track of the album, Mikrokosmos, seems to continue this lightness that we have heard thus far on the album. But while lightness would be a good term to really describe the song, I found it to be quite a vibrant pop track with wholesome lyrics. I think the track does a good job of showcasing the vocals of the members despite nothing technical or over-the-top being shown to the listener. I also thought the rapping was well-tweaked for the track as they still manage to show themselves as rappers but in a more appropriate manner for the track. Overall, I thought the melody was nice and hence it stood out for me. (9/10)

4. Make It Right – Before we jump ahead, Ed Sheeran does not feature in the track. Instead, he is one of the writers of the track. And a collaboration between the biggest boy group and soloist is probably a killer move. Truthfully, I am not a major fan of Ed Sheeran, but I think the song turned out well. That lightness continues from the previous track. I really do like the pop vibes and the unique the instrumental felt with the brass throughout it. To me, the vocals win in comparison to the rapping (not that the latter was disappointing because it wasn’t). I thoroughly enjoyed the low and husky voices of some of the members, along with the amazing harmonies that you can hear between all the members. That final line to the song was superb (and probably the most impactful part of the song). (8/10)

5. HomeHome kicks the energy up a tiny bit, which I greatly appreciated after all those light tracks. The song doesn’t explicitly repeat ‘Home’ in the lyrics. Rather ‘Mi Casa’ which is Italian for ‘My Home’ was used instead. Once again, great vocals and rapping fill up the track. There is this sense of warmth to the song, which I find very appropriate for a song titled as Home. Besides that, however, doesn’t really feel impactful or memorable. It is nice to listen to but isn’t one that I would go out of my way to find. (7/10)

6. Jamais VuJamais Vu features only Jin, J-Hope and Jungkook. The title, Jamais Vu, is a French phrase that means ‘familiar however it hasn’t happened yet’. It is a heartfelt and emotional track with chilling vocals that really leave a lasting impression on you. J-Hope’s raps are also very well done, with the husky rap-speaking concept being well used here. I also enjoyed the minimal instrumental they used in this song, which leaves the vocals to do much of the speaking. My only vendetta against the song is that it feels choppy, which I am not too sure if it was intentional. I don’t really enjoy the flow of it all too much but I would listen to it again for the other elements. (7.5/10)

7. Dionsyus – Ending this album is Dionsyus, the Greek God of grape-harvesting, wine, winemaking, ritual madness and theatre, along with a few other things. But the ones I listed seemed to be referenced in the lyrics of the song. To match the lyrics, the song seems to delve into the rock and hip-hop genres, cultivating into something quite suitable for hyping up a crowd. It is a little heavier than the intro track, which I think is suitable here. But it isn’t too heavy to really make you expect more after this track (and hence is an excellent finisher to the album). I also really like RM’s suspense-building tactic used in the bridge. While the song does kick it up even more for the final chorus, giving the song that peak it needed, I wanted it to go more hardcore, as I think this would literally end the album with a bang. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

Map Of The Soul: Persona Teaser Image

[Album Review] Kill This Love (2nd Mini Album) – BLACKPINK

Apologies again for the lateness of the review (this was meant to be published on Saturday but it is now Sunday where I am living). But this review will be looking at BLACKPINK’s 2nd mini-album to date, Kill This Love, which features the title track of the same name. I think the most exciting part of this comeback is that the number of BLACKPINK songs is growing, with the addition of 4 new songs (including the title track). The album also contains a remix version of DDU-DU DDU-DU, which I think is really good as well. But as this song was previously reviewed, it has been omitted from this album review. 

Kill This Love Album Cover

1..Kill This Love (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Kill This Love. (6.5/10) APOLOGIES TO ALL BLINKS OUT THERE. My original review referred to the song as Kiss The Love in the title. This has been rectified.

2. Don’t Know What To Do – The one thing that makes this song amazing is that it slowly builds up to the club-centred chorus. This makes the chorus stand out even more than what it already does standalone due to its energetic kick. And as a result, this makes the song one to remember. In conjunction with this is amazing formula, the song also centres itself around the member’s vocals capabilities. I don’t think there was much of a rap sequence in the song, which I think was slightly intriguing. I think the choice of vocals makes this song even more unique, as a rap would have potentially made the song feel typical in BLACKPINK’s standards. (9/10)

3. Kick ItKick It is what I would say is within the grounds of BLACKPINK typical standards. It has what I would say is a similar formula to their title tracks. But what I like about this track is that still manages to put a different spin on it. This was done through the more R&B and dragged out the chorus. Combined with their vibrant vocals (the ‘Kick It’ vocals are very popping), I think the chorus is quite dynamic. I also thought the inclusion of the rap sequence in the second verse makes this song a lot more appealing. Finally, the chanting part of the bridge was pretty good, feeling a void that I didn’t think exist until I carefully rethought the entirety of the song. (8/10)

4. Hope Not (아니길) – Following the focus on vocals rather than raps is Hope Not. It is a ballad that does an amazing job of showcasing the vocals of the members. It gives the powerful and popular girl group a more delicate sound. The instrumentation takes an acoustic guitar approach, and this goes well with the vocals. I did like the ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ part of the song, with that being the most memorable highlight of the entire track for me. Overall, it isn’t my personal favourite song on the album but it still good to listen to. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

Kill This Love Teaser Image

[Review] Boy With Luv – BTS ft. Halsey

Making their grand return today is BTS with Boy With Luv. And with their current worldwide popularity, Boy With Luv continues to break even more records than ever before. Topping charts as soon as the song is released, while also doubling the number of pre-orders for their latest mini-album (also dropped today) compared to their previous release, are just some already making news. So, it is super exciting to even be writing review for such a worldwide artist! We last saw BTS through their IDOL comeback in August last year.

If you are a longtime fan of the group, you may be familiar with another BTS title track, Boy In Luv. While the titles are similar, the songs are very different. Actually, it is very different compared to any other their past tracks, which were all dance heavy. To me, Boy With Luv still goes towards that dance route but in a lighter and more mellow pop direction. It also seems to focus on more of the vocals, as I thought the rapping wasn’t as prevalent. While we are on the topic of vocals, I thought each member managed to match the lighter sound and I think we got a chance to hear them in a wholesome manner, which contrasts from their autotuned and louder volumes in dance tracks. Suga and J-Hope didn’t shine as much, as their parts didn’t stand out as much. RM, however, benefited from a kick in the beat of the instrumental, which I thought was a major difference between the rapper’s section. The main confusing point has to be Halsey’s featuring parts, which was only certain parts of the chorus. I think she could have been omitted and everything would remain the same, honestly. Overall, the question remains: do I like it? Boy With Luv is different and foreign to me. But it is still pleasant, which I think I can enjoy even more down the road.

The music video seems very typical to me. It didn’t have that wow factor like most of their other videos. Though, there is most likely a hidden storyline in the midst of the video. Maybe it will have that wow factor then! I did like the more down-to-earth and more playful vibes the member got to portray. It did make the video feel a lot more casual and laidback. I think, to me, the most memorable parts had to Suga and RM’s rap parts. The change to darkness to let them be the main focus worked really well, and I wished some of the members got something similar. Well, they did but it didn’t seem as bold as RM or Suga’s.

Also going with the light trend is the choreography. Nothing too complicated or extremely energetic in this performance, which I think is rather nice and probably beneficial for the members, who have been overworked with complicated and intense choreographies. This is all based on what I saw in the video, by the way!

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

[Album Review] Clé 1 : MIROH (4th Mini Album) – Stray Kids

Apologies for the missed album review on Sunday. As a result, I will be publishing another tomorrow to compensate for it, or else I will fall very behind on my schedule. In the meantime, this is the weekly Friday album review post! Stray Kids made their comeback on the 25th of April with both Clé 1: MIROH and the title track, Miroh. Since then, they have been releasing special videos for a number of the tracks on the album. It seems like this is a common thing for Stray Kids and I may compile a special review of these videos later on. However, for now, here is the album review for Clé 1: MIROH.

Clé 1: MIROH Album Cover

1..Miroh (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Miroh. (9.5/10)

2. Victory Song (승전가) – Stray Kids throws you intensity right, left and centre in Victory Song. Listening to the track, it is loaded with that hip-hop sound that Stray Kids started off with their mixtape. And it honestly been a while since I have personally heard a hip-hop dance track like this and really enjoyed it. Starting the song off are some sirens, which just tell you that it is going to be one hell of a track. The song then moves onto rapping and we are treated to a very deep whisper by Felix, who does a really good job building suspense for the track. The way the song is set up allows for the rappers to really shine, but the vocals were also quite good. The chorus is extremely strong, with their chanting union of the line ‘Listen to this Victory Song’ very memorable. (9/10)

3. Maze of Memories (잠깐의 고요)Maze of Memories is also very intense. But it takes a different approach that Victory Song or the title track. The song starts off with a light-ish piano piece to build up the song (To me, the piano piece reminds me of the waiting music you hear when you are waiting for a computer game to load up). But the song takes a sudden turn for the chorus, delving into a rock instrumental. Interesting, it returns to the piano piece for the second verse, which I thought was rather cool. And this allows for the rock instrumental to be even more profound when it returns once again. Even more impressively, all the members rap throughout the song. I don’t think I heard any vocals and I think that is quite cool. Felix, Seungmin and Bangchan’s English lines did take me by surprise, which I don’t really understand why. But I guess it is might be because I have not heard an extended sequence like so that much. (10/10)

4. Boxer – Following the intense trend on this album, Boxer seems to be a very appropriate title for a track on this album. And like the title, the song centres itself around boxing, with the chorus acting like a boxing tutorial that I think might just work if you are wanting a workout (though, don’t trust me on this as I do not work out in any way). Once again, the rappers are at the forefront of the song, dominating for most of the verses and choruses. But the vocalists were still quite good in their limited sections. As for the instrumental, there is a more electronic influence, with the scratchy chorus and very intense fast vibrating synth accompanied by the bells you hear commonly in boxing matches. To me, it isn’t the stand out track on the album but it still quite good. (8/10)

5. ChronosaurusChronosaurus is appealing for several factors. The song starts off with a tone that seems to refocus on the vocalists of the song. It is much more melodic, and the rappers appeared to be scattered throughout the song, rather than the vocalists like in the previous tracks. The song isn’t as intense, providing some relief after the overload of intensity we have gotten so far. It also has a slower tempo, which allows us to really appreciate the song in a more wholesome way. I also liked the instrumental. Still quite dynamic but it’s different in its own way. I think the best part has to the eerie bridge. I really liked Bang Chan, Woojin and Seungmin’s vocals in this section. It really goes well with all the Western songs that I listen to and it makes the final chorus even more impactful once it comes along. (9/10)

6. 19 – When you see the number 19 in the context of KPOP songs, you automatically think of the strict broadcasting laws video content must be branded with. However, this is not the case for Stray Kid’s 19. The song is a slow R&B track that showcases both the rappers and vocalists evenly. I think the song talks about their hardship at the age of 19, which I think is the final age before people become ‘adults’ in Korea (don’t quote me on this, however). I really like the moody instrumental of the track which seems emotional and reflective, but the deep R&B vibes also fit Stray Kids’ portfolio. It didn’t appeal automatically to my taste, but the song grew on me after a while and I think, now, is quite good. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Clé 1: MIROH Teaser Image

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[Review] Hocus Pocus – BVNDIT

Apologies for my absence yesterday, which saw the debut of a brand new group. BVNDIT is a five-member girl group who are currently signed under MH Entertainment, the same company that currently has Kim Chungha signed under. The group, consisting of Songhee, Yiyeon, Simyeong, Jungwoo, Seungeun, made their debut with the single Hocus Pocus, the title track from BVNDIT, Be Ambitious! (their first mini-album). Also, BVNDIT (pronounced as BANDIT) also stands for Be Ambitious N Do It, which is a little fun fact about the group!

Interestingly, Hocus Pocus has a number of similarities to what Chungha has previously put out. But BVNDIT also manages to put a spin on this sound and make it their own. To me, the song is quite typical, with not many elements jumping out of me at first listen. But listening to it some more has given me a chance to form some observations. A small fraction of the flute at the very start of the song reminds me of Chungha’s Gotta Go. And I was convinced that one of the members (sorry, I don’t know any member’s names) was Chungha based on her vocals, which is very similar to the soloist. While we were on the topic of the vocals, I thought there were quite nice. The song did miss that opportunity to include a rap sequence, which I think could have given the song a boost. I also did like the post-chorus instrumental break which has some brass and an ethnic sound, which makes it an intriguing part of the song, overall. I also enjoyed the slowdown for the bridge. Usually, I think a slowdown for a dance track isn’t the most ideal way to go, but this works here as the rest of the track doesn’t seem to be that fast actually.

To me, the music video is a balance between cutesy (though the brighter and vibrant colours at the start) and edgy (the darker tone that we get during the second verse). There are elements of both and I guess the video was made to show the two sides of the girls. Apart from that, I didn’t notice too much about the video that could be considered a plotline. Other than that, it was a nice visual introduction to the group.

The choreography for this debut track is pretty fantastic. I enjoyed the performance from start to end. It looked energetic and fun. I particularly like the choreography for the post-chorus instrumental breaks

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

[Album Review] Letter From Secret (4th Mini Album) – Secret

Originally, I was going to do a full album review for Secret for this week’s ‘Past Album’ review. However, a few things popped up last minute and I decided to go with an album with fewer songs, instead. After all, I already skipped the album review on Sunday, so I didn’t want to miss out on this one. Secret release Letter From Secret back in 2013 and it was a return to the group’s cutesy concept. Unfortunately, the album and title track didn’t do too well when it was released, so it never got that much attention. I find the songs on their album to be very nice and today, I will be sharing this album with you.

Letter From Secret Album Cover

1..YooHoo (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of YooHoo. (9.5/10)

2. Daddy Long Legs (키다리 아저씨) – The title of this song is rather odd like it isn’t the first title that comes to your mind when you hear this sweet ballad-like song. After some digging around, the song title seems to allude to someone with a fatherly figure. While this could easily be applied to a lover, I think the song is more directed to the member’s fathers. After all, the song has quite an innocent sound (or at least I assume it is). I really like the melody of the track and the guitar in the background, which gives off that swaying effect that I look for. I also enjoyed their vocals in this song. If it were to be memorable for anything, it would most likely before its touching lyrics towards their fatherly figures. But it is still quite pleasant, overall. (8/10)

3. ONLY UOnly U is a rather bittersweet song. The song is once again another ballad. While the lyrics seem to be about regretting letting someone go (let it be a past lover or a friend who they friendzone and now regrets), the song is still quite light. Rather than being straightforwardly sad, the song sits in a weird limbo based on its light tone and their sweet style vocals. However, I do hear the hints of sadness in their voices, which does complement the song’s message. I like Jung Hana’s rap sequence is the entire verse section of the song. The only downside to the song is that Sunhwa sounded like she was straining herself in the bridge and this didn’t sound as pleasing compared to the rest of the song. But to me, it is another great ballad. (8/10)

4. B.O.Y (Because Of You) – Out of the three ballads on the album, this one probably is my favourite. Unlike the other two which used a softer approach in its sound, B.O.Y used a harsher mix of instruments and this made the song feel more vibrant out of the rest. I would say that B.O.Y could be taken as a ballad, but it can also have some dance moves to it. But don’t let its vibrancy fool you. The song isn’t a vibrant song when you consider the lyrics. It is another emotional song that talks about how they cannot move on after a breakup. Once again, their vocals do a fantastic job of portraying these emotions and I also liked the harmonies during the chorus. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Letter From Secret Teaser Image

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[Review] I’m Home – Minho (SHINee)

Another very late review is coming your way! Out of all the SHINee members, Minho has yet to release any solo songs in this career. Instead, he is the most successful member in acting. And as many of the members were nearing the military enlistment age, we have seen an influx of releases of from member. Minho joins this influx and made his solo debut on the 28th of March, through the release of I’m Home. The single is released as part of the SM Station Season 3 project, which has seemed to be focusing on solo tracks more this time around.

I’m Home is a mid-tempo ballad. SInce Minho isn’t known for this vocals, I wondered how a song of this nature would play out. Rather than being anything negative, I’m Home manages to be quite pleasant and easy on the ears. The song opens with some whistling, something that you would associate with a breezy type of song. The instrumental is predominately acoustic guitar, with the incorporation of percussion for the vocals. His vocals are quite impressive. They were rather clear and it basically throws out on whether Minho could handle the ballad genre. His high note was very nice, as an example of his style. Nicely incorporated into the song is a rap sequence. To me, the song plays towards Minho’s strength. It isn’t the most memorable song out there. But for longtime fans of Minho and SHINee, I think this would be a very nice and well-deserved treat.

We start off with Minho walking up to the sound of both his alarm clock and the phone ringing. His character in the video is a businessman, who is basically working 24/7. However, based on his expressions and posture, it seems like Minho is longing to be with his partner, who is not in the picture at the moment. This goes nicely with the song. Every time he takes a rest, the alarm clock or phone (or another person) is waking him up. This just constantly reminds him of his loneliness and forces him to live with that feeling. I think this forces to him a move at the end, where is running to probably propose to his partner. I really like how he is singing in the midst of everything, which I think was a creative thing to do. I also like the golden appearance of the video and that slightly hazy effect.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10