[Review] Don’t Make Me Laugh – Oh Hayoung (APINK)

My final review for the night is for Hayoung’s solo debut. For those who don’t know, she is one of the members from APINK, one of the few groups still going strong since their debut in 2011. She is also the second member of the group to officially go solo, while the group is in between comebacks. Don’t Make Me Laugh is her title track for her solo debut mini-album, OH!.

While it was expected that Eunji would be the first member to go solo from the group, I would have expected Namjoo or Bomi to be the second. Instead, Hayoung comes by with this really nice track. I find the industry tends to enjoy either heavy dance tracks or slow ballad tracks. Sometimes, they enjoy tracks that find themselves in between the two styles. And Don’t Make Me Laugh is one of these tracks that deserve to be put in the spotlight. I really like the light tone the song brings, which undoubtedly compliments her vocals. Her parts in APINK tracks have never stood out for me. But this song makes me want to revisit all those parts from the past. I also enjoyed the autotune they put on her voice to give the song some texture. It didn’t go over the top with it, which tends to be the case in some songs. But not this one! The chorus had a really soothing pop melody and I like the small laughter at the start. I can see myself easily repeating the song multiple times with this track and I don’t think I would ever get tired of it.

The title of the track is very intriguing. But essentially the track is all about the moment someone falls in love. In the video, Hayoung basically falls for the barista and starts imagining all their potential dates. This makes her feel super giddy, which in turn results to her laughing in the cafe. At the end of the video, we see the guy noticing her laughing, which he finds cute and he starts to approach her. The final moments of the videos show a closeup of Hayoung’s face reacting to the unexpected movement in her direction, which I thought was rather funny. The video was well-presented. Even though it was all inside, they did a good job of replicating the outdoors and the video was very bright, fitting the Summer feel nice.

I like how the lightness of the song flowed into the choreography. Overall, It felt flowy and breezy. At the same time, there is a very nice innocent feel to it. Another thing that I would like to mention is that she sounds wonderful on stage with this track. Once again, I have never taken notice of her on stage. But watching her perform, I am wondering why I haven’t paid more attention to her!

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

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[Review] Baby Come Back Home – TARGET

The second group I want to review today is TARGET, who returned with Baby Come Back Home on Tuesday of this week. If I don’t review this track today, I may end up reviewing the song a month later or possibly even forgetting that they came back. And I blame this all on their promotions. I had no clue that they were coming back until after I saw their dance practice video after their music video release, while the group was hidden away after a bare minimum promotional round for Beautiful, which I complimented thoroughly when it was released back in April.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Baby Come Back Home would be receiving similar comments as Beautiful did. And no, this isn’t one of those moments where I semi-lied to you to declare the song went a notch further. Baby Come Back Home ended up being one of their edgiest releases yet. But it is also their most boring yet. The song delves into dance and hip-hop, enabling a more aggressive sound. And while I do prefer this to a cutesy sound, the song doesn’t have any captivating elements to really appeal to my taste. The instrumental feels very standard and lacks freshness. There is a dance break during the bridge which attempts to change things up with a slightly different tempo. But just blended right into the rest of the song, causing repetition to become prevalent. The chorus, which is usually the major hook of a song, doesn’t have that addictiveness to it. The rapping and vocals were probably the more decent elements of the song. Just it wasn’t enough to compensate the other parts.

The music would share similar comments as well. There was a bland vibe to the video, which I just can’t help but notice when I put the video on. The members were acting cool throughout the video, which shouldn’t be a terrible thing. But I got the impression that some members were trying too hard during this close up. So they came off awkward from what I could see. Their choreography scenes were probably the most captivating section of the video. But I didn’t like their outfits, which added to that blandness that I have mentioned.

The choreography was decent. But it isn’t impressive. The edginess does flow through and I think there is some confidence that one would need moving from a soft concept o such an edgy one, like what TARGET did.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 5/10
Performance – 6.5/10
Overall Rating – 5.3/10

[Review] Final Kiss – IZ

It seems like the weekend will be dedicated to catching up as I still have a few more reviews to get through. Hence, there will no Japanese review this week. But there are other songs to check out in the meantime. IZ is one of the groups to return during the week, with the release of Final Kiss on Wednesday. The band’s last comeback was with EDEN, which was released back in May of this year.

Final Kiss takes a unique approach with its Summery track, placing emphasis on its rock instrumentation and reducing the vocals a fair bit to allow for the instrumentation to be focused upon. There isn’t anything wrong about this. To be exact, I don’t think there has been much of s song lately that does this. So there is a slight freshness to it, which I think works really well with the idea of a Summer song. The instrumentation feels loaded, giving the song some definition and oomph, which I really enjoyed. There was almost a head-banging feel to it, which is something I enjoy hearing when it comes to rock music (‘Almost’ being a keyword here. It just doesn’t feel exactly like it got into that territory).  It just feels awkwardly unbalanced. Every section had a part dedicated to instrumental, so it left the members with very little opportunity to flourish vocally. What we managed to hear was pretty good itself. But I just felt like they could have reduced some of the instrumentation and given more of themselves to the track. 

The video shows a comparison between their life indoors versus the outdoors by the pool. Rewatching the video a few times, I found it very boring and dry, not something you expect from the Summer concept. The idea is rather typical and I think the producers of the video could have done something to get the video to stand out. They may have been limited to the Summer concept but that feels like a minor hurdle nowadays given the magnitude of the industry. Unfortunately, what we got isn’t something that I find worthwhile watching again and again.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10

[Review] Your Gravity – UP10TION

While I am reviewing the biggest comebacks of the week, we need to mention UP10TION. This is their first comeback in a while and their first post-Produce X 101. UP10TION’s Kim Woo Seok (Wooshin) and Lee Jin Hyuk (Wei) both participated in the show. Kim Woo Seok placed second on the survival show and will be making his debut alongside the rest of X1 next week. Lee Jin Hyuk missed out on a position in X1 and it was expected that he would return to UP10TION as a result. However, he will be sitting out of the promotions for UP10TION’s comeback, Your Gravity, which was released yesterday (alongside their 8th mini-album, The Moment of Illusion).

The first thing I noticed about the song while listening to it yesterday was how closely it resembles Pentagon’s Sha-La-La (released earlier in the year). I just hope that this wasn’t intentional. The entire backbone seems to be a replication of the mentioned track and I am not exactly sure what to think of this. It does manage to pack a punch with a little more vibrancy in its synths. The rapping and vocals were very strong as well. But the song doesn’t really showcase anything ‘new’ from the group. It also doesn’t go all the way to bring us a dynamic chorus, something that could have really boosted the song up a few more levels. As a result, the track doesn’t stick out as much as it should have. Overall, I think this was a great opportunity for the group to try out something new to attract the attention of new listeners and reinvent themselves. But I felt like the group stuck with what they had always done. And this resulted in a passable track from the group.

I think the music video was a little more intriguing and appealing. Matching that vibrancy I mentioned was the set, which had colour to it, allowing it to stand out in the background. The video shows a glimpse of the members having fun. I think to play around with the idea of gravity, the video opted for very dynamic cinematography. You wouldn’t think that this would help transform a built set like in this video, but it made the video 10 times better than if it was shot in a balanced manner. Like they went 360 degrees with the camera in this video.

I think the choreography for the comeback was awesome. And that is something that I think I have felt with the majority of UP10TION’s comebacks. I really liked their start, when they are in the circle formation. I also like how some of their moves were soft but followed up with a lot of sharp moves, which looked really cool overall.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Review] Umpah Umpah – Red Velvet

One of the bigger releases of the week came on Tuesday. Despite just wrapping up promotions for the very catchy and fun sounding Zimzalabim two months ago, Red Velvet has returned with Umpah Umpah, which is featured on the group’s 6th mini-album, The ReVe Festival: Day 2. Since its release on Tuesday, the song has already topped the charts, as expected for the popular girl group. However, the group has faced some problems with their concept, with accusations made against the group and SM Entertainment for plagiarizing outfits designed by Paris Stern (read the article here).

If Zimzalabim wasn’t to your liking because it was a little more out there in comparison to Red Velvet’s usual style, maybe you will like Umpah Umpah. Listening to the song, the brightness and energy from Zimzalabim is still present. But it is toned back and not as in-your-face as the mentioned track. Once again, Umpah Umpah is quite addictive. There was a number of layers to this. Firstly, the main repetition was keyed into my mind within a few listens.  Secondly, the chorus was extremely melodic, which made their vocals shine ever so brightly. Thirdly, the instrumental made the track feel light, offsetting the heavier effects made by the deep Umpah Umpah repetition and their vocals. Towards the end, the song becomes anthem-like, which might be a first for the group and SM Entertainment. Overall, I thought the track was very well suited for the Summer season. Fun fact: you might be able to catch some of their references to past tracks including Ice Cream Cake, Red Flavour and Dumb Dumb in the lyrics.

Summer is about to end in Korea, so Red Velvet is making a last-minute trip to have some fun in the sun. But they are stopped in their tracks by a horrible rainstorm. So they use other methods to keep the fun ongoing. This includes playing board games and watching some TV. But some things just get in the way, such as bumping your head on the table while playing monopoly, a horrible TV connection (which Seulgi was picked to fix) and a leaky roof. While it looks like they are about to give up on their adventure of fun indoors, the group seems to use their imagination and persistence to enjoy their times indoors, which I think was highlighted by the group closing the door one more time without any disappointed looks or body language. Overall, it is another fun video that goes very well with the song!

Interestingly, there hasn’t been a live performance with the entire dance as of yet. And as far as I am concerned, I don’t think there were any teasers for a comeback stage next week as well (but do let me know if I am wrong, I just don’t remember seeing on on my Twitter feed). Form what I could see, the choreography looked nice. It felt like their least intense set of moves yet. But it was bright, fun and energetic, which are all elements that we have come to know and love Red Velvet for.

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

[Review] Genie – VIINI (Kwon Hyun Bin)

For my next review, I will be focusing on a brand new solo debut. Kwon Hyun Bin, who used to be part of JBJ before their disbandment, signed to be under YGX, a subsidiary of YG Entertainment (which is also home to Anda) earlier this year. And on Monday, Kwon Hyun BIn released his first solo single-album (DIMENSION), which features the title track. Genie. Also as part of his solo debut, he has also changed his stage name to VIINI.

Given that VIINI is signed under a label within the YG umbrella, it was expected that hip-hop would be the main genre of this track. And while I still don’t dabble much into the genre unless it is a release from a mainstream artist, some songs have impressed me in many ways. Genie doesn’t fall into that boat, however. To sum it all up in two simple words, overwhelmingly typical. There isn’t anything that impressive about it and it doesn’t really show him off in a spectacular way that gets me wanting more from the soloist himself. The song has this serious tone to it and features a heavy instrumental, which isn’t all too uncommon when it comes to the hip-hop genre. Unfortunately, it seems the typical nature outweighs the good in this case. But what was good? I thought the chorus had a nice ring to it and I thought the ending (the ‘La La La‘) was a little different twist in comparison to similar tracks.

Watching the video, we are shown two sides to VIINI. The first is the ‘beautiful love story‘ that he mentions. The other is the much moodier and darker side that is feature more predominately throughout the video. And based on the lyrics, he is the one that that breaks up with his lover. He appears to be very harsh and two-faced, capturing his innocent lover in a web of lies (or in the case of the video, a cup), which makes sense given the lyrics I mentioned. I also liked how the producers of the video featured a Goblin drama reference at the start. Overall, I think the video was a good reflection upon the serious tone of the song and the lyric’s meaning.

There really isn’t much of choreography for him, as he stays stationary to deliver his lines throughout the performance. That is a little disappointing, but I understand his reasons why (i.e. focus on the live component of the performance). His backup dancers did all of the dancing and the ladies looked quite cool throughout the performance. It does look like a decent stage, overall.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating –  5.8/10

[Review] D.D.D – The Boyz

I have returned from my mini-break! And now it is time to jump right back into the review wagon and catch up with the few releases that I have missed over the last few days. The first is The Boyz, who returned with D.D.D on Monday. It is the lead single off their fourth mini-album, Dreamlike. This is also their first comeback since Bloom Bloom, promoted back in April/May of this year.

D.D.D fits the group’s image quite perfectly. It is an upbeat track that has a distinctly youthful vibe to the song. The chorus is loaded with energy and I thought the launch between the verse and chorus made things a little more impactful. Furthermore, with a catchy hook that is telling you to ‘Dance Dance Dance‘, I am quite sure many fans are taking The Boyz’s suggestion on board when listening to the song. I thought their vocals were nice and the rapping had a good kick to it, giving added momentum to the song. Even the synth-based instrumental was very packed, giving us something a little different as each section comes. I thought the bridge/instrumental break combination was interesting. I did like the first half of it, with the toned-down approach and move to a dynamic buildup. Prolonging that section is the instrumental break, which I thought was good to an extent. But it didn’t feel necessary when you think about the track as one piece. Apart from that, D.D.D was fulfilling track for The Boyz.

The music video seems to show an Alice In Wonderland-like theme. The bunny guy attracts the attention of each of the members, pulling them altogether from all areas of the city. They all end up going through a portal that brings them together to hang out and have some fun. But why the Alice In Wonderland comparison. Well, firstly the bunny guy gives on the members a pocket watch and at the end of the video, they are all sitting at a long table, which had elements from the fairytale (i.e. tea and a deck of cards). It is a lively video that really goes well with the energetic sound that I mentioned previously.

The Boyz has always had good performances. But I, for some odd reason, do not get that same feeling. Like I could see that the choreography was fitting for the song. But I didn’t see the dynamic side of the group, which they have previously shown through their much better tracks. I did like the entire routine for the bridge, including the instrumental break, which was probably more aligned with their previous works in my point of view.

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

[Review] Adios – EVERGLOW

Reviews for The Boyz, VIINI (Kwon Hyun Bin), Red Velvet, UP10TION will be published from Thursday onwards. 

Kicking off the new week is EVERGLOW’s latest comeback. This is the group’s first comeback ever, following their debut with Bon Bon Chocolat. The group has received a lot of attention for their edgy debut, which was unlike any other debut that I could recall. And now, they are back to show us who is in charge with their latest track, Adios.

The group says goodbye with some attitude in this track. And this concept no doubt follows nicely from the edgy Bon Bon Chocolat that the group debuted with. I think the best compliment I can give the group with this release is that brings them in align with some of the toughest sounding female groups currently active at the moment. The song is full of hip-hop. It was pretty much oozing from the song. The verses were more of the traditional form of hip-hop we hear in KPOP, while the chorus manages to mix it up with some dance influences. In addition to that, the chorus ended up being very heavy and attracted a lot of my attention. I did like the vocals that dominated the pre-chorus. That was the closest we got to something melodic in the song and I think that part did have an opportunity to shine (to an extent) amongst the more tougher sounds of the song. I also really like the contrast that whispers set up, which helped build suspense as well. The question is whether I like the song. And I do, as it manages to top Bon Bon Chocolat in terms of toughness and essentially confirms that we should be looking out for EVERGLOW in the future.

The music video I thought was rather interesting. There is a storyline, featuring the two balls (the yellow and blue ones) that were dropped at the start of the music video. But apart from that, I couldn’t really interpret the rest of the video. But it is intriguing and I will be investigating it as soon as I can get my hands on more information. Apart from that, there was really cool sets in the music video. And on top of that, the editing made it look so much cooler. I also thought the group looked really fierce in this video, thanks to their outfits.

This group does not hold back with their performance. If the song can be described as tough, then the choreography has a lot attitude to it. Well, at least for the music video. It does look like some of the moves were weakened so that the group could actually sing on stage. But the form was still there and it looked really cool.

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

[Album Review] WOLF (1st Mini Album) – Woosung (The Rose)

As mentioned during the week, I announced that I would be reviewing Woosung’s debut mini-album. And that is where we find ourselves today. Woosung is the main vocalist of The Rose and made his solo debut with FACE on the 25th of July. FACE is the title track featured on his first mini-album, titled as WOLF. During the week, The Rose also made their comeback with RED. If you want another song that shows off Woosung’s voice, as I will reiterate throughout this album review, then I highly recommend the band’s newest track! While you are there, check out the rest of the band and their other tracks (which I have linked in that review as well).

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WOLF Album Cover

1. Wolf – One thing that I really want to hear when it comes to new releases is something that really amazes me in some way. The fact is that I am amazed about a lot of things, so it doesn’t have to be a major detail or aspect of the track. Well, Woosung kicks off the album with a track that pretty much satisfied the above. It is a pity that the song is only an introductory track as there is such a strong aesthetic vibe to it that would have been epic as part of a full track. On the other hand, the track would have been repetitive. I like how the verses and choruses contrast, bringing together acoustic and electronic instrumentation. The combination works well. The chorus was full of that aesthetic, while the verses felt paced, like how you expect a pack of wolves to circle around you. The best part would have to be when Woosung utters the song’s title, Wolf. It is creepy and goes well with the modern twist of the chorus. (9/10)

2. Moon – There is no doubt that Woosung’s vocals are on full display on this album. Moon manages to take this up a notch for me. There is something about his vocals that are so alluring. It might be as simple as the melody being able to highlight the strengths of his vocals. Or it could be the raspy nature that gives the song texture. And texture was needed. It started off as a minimalistic instrumental and it built up from there. But it was relatively plain and without the texture, the track would not have been as good. I also like how he doesn’t hold back lyric-wise for this track. While it isn’t as explicit as some other tracks, the ‘Bitch’ is rather striking, and you can tell by his tone that he is disapproving of his former lover. Overall, Moon was a pretty cool track. (9/10)

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

4. Lonely – The final song on this mini-album is Lonely. It takes more of that typical approach for main vocalists, as the track is a ballad. But I am not complaining. We get to hear various styles of Woosung’s vocals throughout the album. And I did not know that I needed to hear a heartbreaking side of the artist. I really like the song’s melody. I also like how the instrumental didn’t really develop into something more. It is an odd predicament. But think about it, not building up almost felt like the song was trying to portray a sense of hopelessness, which was the direction in which his vocals and lyrics were trying to showcase. It makes perfect sense and pulled off well. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

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WOLF Teaser Image

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] Call Anytime – Jinu ft. Mino (WINNER)

Despite it being a rocky few months for YG Entertainment, it is still business as usual for some artists. Schedules are still going forward for some of the soloists and groups. And now, we have a solo debut in our midst. Jinu, one of the vocalists of WINNER, released his first solo track today. It is titled as Call Anytime and it features fellow WINNER member Mino. Winner previously released Ah Yeah three months back in May of this year.

Interestingly, I had expected Jinu to go with a more profound R&B track for his solo debut track. This is the route that YG Entertainment artists usually go if they don’t delve into the hip-hop genre. But Call Anytime delves into the pop genre. There are those influences in the pop sound. But they aren’t as strong as I had expected it. Apart from that, I thought the song was quite good. I am not too familiar with Jinu, but I know he has a unique vocal colour and he managed to show some of that off in this song. I liked how his singing compliments the lyrics. He is waiting for a call and his voice sounds very bored (yet intriguing for the audience) and tired, matching the emotions the audience should be hearing at that point in time. Likewise, Mino features as a rapper, and while his part changes things up slightly, the lyrics match this change up by encouraging Jinu to text the person. I think that was a smart structure. The ending, when ‘everyone’ joins in, seems to be a very cliche move for WINNER (and YG) now, since they have been doing it so much. But apart from that, I thought Call Anytime was a good song.

The video is a little confusing and opens up with Jinu waiting for a phone call and I think this crumbles his self-confidence. We then see blue suit Jinu who has a consultancy business that deals with how to attract someone’s attention by building one’s confidence and he is advertising his services on TV. His first client is a timid version of Jinu (i.e glasses Jinu), who I assume is a version of the first Jinu we saw and the business aims to build his confidence so he can enter that special room. We see Mino, a special consultant, play the overconfident card by encouraging for a direct text. But Mino’s plan doesn’t work, as Jinu unsuccessfully gains entrance to the special room and Mino is removed from the room (as being overconfident doesn’t work). Somewhere along the line, glasses Jinu appears more confident, teaches Mino one or two things and enters the room without any resistance. Success! I am assuming this means he approached his phone calling scenario as a more confident person, though I am not sure what it means. It is a unique concept but it was fun to watch.

I liked the choreography. Like the last review, nothing really impressive that I could spot in the music video. But there is enough to be fun, suiting the pop side of the track. I guess we have to wait and see with this performance.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 710
Overall Rating –  8.1/10

[Review] Tiki-Taka (99%) – Weki Meki

It is time to start focusing on the releases for today! Literally kicking off today was Weki Meki, who released their new single at midnight (KST). It is called Tiki-Taka (99%) and it follows their promotions of Picky Picky, which was released back in May. 3 months on, the girl group has returned in time before Summer closes out for the year. (The 99% in the title simply misses that there is 1% that a person isn’t satisfied with their lover. Find that 1% and you will be perfect!)

To me, Tiki-Taka goes in a completely different direction to what they have released previously. It still follows the dance-pop genre that we know the group for. Just this one doesn’t have an ‘in-your-face’ type of hook, which has always been the case, as it becomes engraved into my mind with multiple listens. Nor is the instrumental of that nature as well, which has been the case for some of their tracks as well. Instead, everything is very toned back on those fronts. This resulted in a more melodic and vocal-dominant track, which I think was quite nice. This also makes Tiki-Taka so much easier to get into, which has been the case for some of their tracks in the past. The instrumental does fall into that typical route, so nothing worth mentioning. But it very upbeat and definitely a sound/energy rush you would want to hear closing out the Summer month. I say that because we are approaching the end of the season and the track seems to find a nice balance between the more upbeat season of Summer and the more vocally driven sound of Autumn. Overall, Tiki-Taka was a nice surprise from Weki Meki. 

If we were to cut out the introduction and the outro of the music video, I would have been satisfied. The members’ acting has been overly cringy in the past and it felt like that was the case in the music video’s opener and closer. Not even sure what was going on. It seems like the group was listening to some sort of message on the radio/alarm clock (i.e. a mission was being given). One member went to smash it, while everyone tried to stop her. Instead, it seems like they ignored the mission and went to have some fun. In the end, they discovered that the alarm clock followed them, which they were not happy about. The same member goes to smash it, with no one stopping her. As for the group having fun, I don’t find their parts overly cringy here as it was part of the fun concept you get throughout Summer.

Based on what I saw in the music video, the dance element of the comeback looks good. The chorus section and the Tiki-Taka part looks like it is going to be the best part of the choreography. Just nothing really stands out as an amazing section to constantly repeat video performances for. But we will have to wait and see.

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

[Review] RED – The Rose

The Rose is back with a brand new single, RED. We last saw them through their promotions for She’s In The Rain, which was released back in October of last year. For some, The Rose may be a group whom they haven’t heard of before. The group is a four-member band, who have previously released Sorry and Baby in the past. Out of the four members (Woosung, Dojoon, Hajoon and Jaehyeong), you might recognize the leader of the group, Woosung, who very recently made his solo debut with Face and the mini-album, WOLF (album review coming your way).

RED is a short 3-minute track, going for a chilled electronic band genre. As much as I want to say that this is a unique sound so that it complements the rest of The Rose’s discography, the electronic band genre is something that has been around for some time already. And it doesn’t help that I wanted more from the instrumental. It isn’t something that strikes me as bold or special standalone. It could have used something extra to make the chorus a lot more prominent or defined, for example. Something like the post-chorus instrumental breaks, which had a pulse of energy to make it one of the better moments of the track. But an instrumental like this can end up becoming a blank canvas. And it sure seems like this was the intended effect. Woosung’s raspy vocals help give the track definition, painting a picture on the blank canvas into something that is light in nature and refreshing, which I find fitting for the Summery season. It is odd to say this, but the vocals really compensated for the flaws in the instrumentation.  And together, the pairing is so good!

The music video shows the members have a little more fun than usual. If memory serves me right, their past music videos have been heavy on the more negative emotions. So, it is definitely a different side of the group that I haven’t seen before. Like you can’t go wrong with some fun in Summer. I also like the simplicity of the music video. It matches the easygoing tone of the song. The emphasis on RED was very minimal and I am not too sure what to think about that. Surely, a red theme music video would be appropriate. But it doesn’t feel right for a Summer video or a song like this.

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

[Album Review] We Boom (3rd Mini Album) – NCT Dream

It is time for another album review and today’s chosen album is NCT Dream’s We Boom. This was released two weeks back and features the group’s latest title track, Boom. This is also the first release since Mark’s graduation from the group at the end of last year. While this is introduction today is rather short, I think you all will not want me to ramble on. So, let’s go forth with the album review!

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We Boom Album Cover

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

2. Stronger – The group’s edginess continues through Stronger. And it is one strong song. I find it a little different because it avoids using a ‘strong’ instrumental to do its hard work. Instead, the vocals and rapping were amplified to give off that ‘strong’ vibe. I particularly liked how they emphasised certain words in the chorus, along with the ‘Stronger’ repetition. That repetition almost felt like they were growling, which I think really suited the song and gave a fair amount of texture to the song. Their pronunciation was a little off but I cannot really criticise that. I like its slight hip-hop vibe that came off the song and thought it was an excellent track to lead off from Boom. (8.5/10)

3. 119 – If both Boom and Stronger were promoted to different capacities, I demand that 119 be added to the promotional list as well. It continues that edgy vibe that we got from the two previous tracks and it seemed to add a tough vibe to the group, which I think is very appealing, especially how it goes against what the unit is intended to portray (though, I think we have thrown that idea out of the window). The chorus was fantastic. I cannot get the melody out of my mind. The vocal work was pretty good, and the rapping was awesome. Though, I think the song could have used a little more roughness when it came to the rapping. The only thing that I thought was ill-fitting as the ‘Na Na Na’ and the overpowered ‘twisted’ section that intertwines with the ‘Na Na Na’. It just felt like it was too much and didn’t sound appealing. But apart from that, where is that stage? (8.5/10)

4. Bye My First… (사랑이 좀 어려워) – In a complete change up to the album’s sound, we enter in the more acoustic arena with Bye My First…. Honestly, when I first saw the title, it gave my impressions that it was going to be a ballad. Instead, it ended up being more upbeat and pop-like. A song like this really allows the vocals to shine. But I liked how they incorporated the rapping into the song. The track lines up with the more youthful side of the group, which talks about their inexperience in love, especially for their first relationship. It was bright and happy, kind of like a reflection in a way to their former lover. (8/10)

5. Best Friend – Something I have yet to mention so far on this album review is that the song reminds me of Western tracks. Best Friend seems to be the most profound with this idea, especially with that ‘everyone sings the chorus together’ style that was also included in some of their other tracks. It showcases a playful hip-hop style, which works with the group’s young image quite well and maybe the reason to why I find a fair amount of Western flair (just don’t ask me to give examples, I am bad when it comes to mainstream Western songs). The vocals were good and the rapping was fitting. The playfulness also really gave the song a nice melody, making it appealing to my tastes. (8.5/10)

6. Dream Run – Kicking off the final song of the album is some guitar. And after hearing how Haechan started off this track, Dream Run feels like the most comfortable NCT Dream track on the album. It is bright, energetic, upbeat, happy, playful and has good rhythm. Essentially taking components of some of their past works (and the two preceding tracks before this one) and combining into some very appealing. As we get towards the end, I think things got a little too messy for my liking, but it isn’t too troubling. Once again, vocal and rapping were amazing. I also like the brass that featured in the instrumental, which contributes to the overall groovy sound. A song like this comes off very catchy and the way the brass finishes off the song brings the album to a very strong close. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

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We Boom Teaser Image

[Review] Wake Up – D1CE

It is time to review another newly debuted group. D1CE (D-ONCE) is a five-member male group formed under a company that shares the same name as the group. Currently, the group’s lineup is Woo Jin Young, Park Woo Dam, Kim Hyun Soo, Jung Yoo Jun, and Jo Yong Geun. Some of the members may be familiar to some listeners. Woo Jin Young partipcated on both Produce 101 Season 2 and MIXNINE  (he placed 1st but his debut in the final group was cancelled). The other members also participated in these survival shows as well including Produce 101 (Woo Dam), BOY24 (Yoo Jun), MIXNINE (Hyunsoo & Yong Geun).

The new group debuted with Wake Up on the 1st of August. The first thing that jumps right at me is the vocals. During the verses where the instrumental was rather minimal and the busier choruses, their vocals were consistently at the forefront, in a very loud and clear fashion. And they definitely have a very good set of vocals. I really like how they held that high note and there was some raspiness in the vocals during some parts, which often is heard due to instrumental style. The rapping was definitely well-textured and really packed a punch, especially during the verses. Talking about the instrumental, it felt very standard. But it managed to show an edgy vibe that is quite appealing.  I think the song could have benefited from a stronger hook. But it is not a troubling aspect, as the rest of the song manages to make up for it. Altogether, the song manages to kick off their careers in a very tough and intense style, that may resemble some of the top male groups at the moment.

The music video is edgy and intense, which matches the song’s style very well. It’s dark and the guys look very angry, which really sets the tone for the video.  Also, the setting was highly appropriate for the style of the song, as well. I also really hate to point this out, but the video does have a typical structure to it (i.e. the closeup and choreography format). It is a video that just doesn’t feel like it is worth rewatching time and time again. 

The choreography looked very cool in the music video. But it isn’t as impressive when it is on stage. There is definitely intensity and a little attitude in the choreography, which I guess makes it different from the rest at the moment. As for why I didn’t enjoy the stage performance as much (yes, I am picky), it could be a combination of poor camera work and bright lighting. Note that the music video was dark and this suited the atmosphere well.

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

[Album Review] Hello Chapter 1: Hello, Stanger (1st Mini Album) – CIX

It is always exciting to write album reviews for groups that had just debut. As there is a very high chance that I will be following their careers through albums reviews for as long as they are around. CIX debuted two weeks ago with Hello Chapter 1: Hello, Stranger. They have also won a music show award with their new track, Movie Star. This made them the fastest male group to win a music show award after debuting (i.e. 7 days). Let’s see the album that helped contribute to this win!

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Hello Chapter 1: Hello Stranger Album Cover

1..What You Wanted – Kicking off their debut mini-album is What You Wanted. The song has a very nice sleek feel. The instrumental is very standard and feels very weighted. But this is a good thing as it gives rise of their ‘downward melody’ that they feature in the chorus. And this downward melody was very catchy, meaning the album opened with a memorable tone. Likewise, the vocals were quite good. The rapping was a little hit and miss for me. I thought the first half of the rapping was good. But things got messy during the second half of the chorus. (8/10)

2. Movie Star (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Movie Star. (9.5/10)

3. Like It That Way – We move to something a little brighter through Like It That Way. The instrumental primarily features a reggae beat. There is a little more percussion to it as the song progresses. But overall, I would consider the track to be light in terms of its tone. Other than that, I thought the singing was okay. It doesn’t really showcase anything new, which is my overall impression of the song as well. The rapping manages to give it a little more definition. But it really isn’t enough to really make it memorable. It is more of a skippable song if I was to describe it in some way. (6.5/10)

4. Imagine – And now we move onto a track with a more upbeat nature, in conjunction with the song’s previous brighter tone. With the way the song directs itself to the pop genre, I already find it more captivating than the preceding track. There are a little disco and groovy influence on the song instrumental, which really helps make the song slightly more memorable. Unfortunately, I did think the member’s vocals were a little weak. I think if they managed to boost their vocals with some sort of definition aid, I think they would have stood out more. With that said, I find the rapping and Jinyoung’s whispering in the bridge to be my picks for more captivating moments of the song. (7.5/10)

5. The One – To me, The One finds itself within a very typical territory. It does have a feel of a ballad, as it does lack loudness and energy. But the instrumental was more dance centred, with synths present and an R&B tone to really bring everything together nicely. I find their execution of the different elements to be very interesting. I have been unimpressed with the vocal work for the last two tracks on the album. But I found the vocal work to be very nice here. Sure, there aren’t new techniques being shown off. But it sounds really well balanced over the synth R&B instrumental. The rapping had some oophm to it, which I thought was very cool as well. It ended the album in a wholesome way, based on its message as well. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

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Hello Chapter 1: Hello, Stranger Teaser Image

[Review] BIM BAM BUM – Rocket Punch

Joining the comeback rush this week is a new group. Rocket Punch comes from Woolim Entertainment, the same company that houses Infinite, Lovelyz and Golden Child. They are a six-member girl group who debuted yesterday with BIM BAM BUM. The lineup of the group is as follows: Juri, Yeonhee, Suyun, Yunkyoung, Sohee and Dahyun. Based on their profile (link here), Juri is a former member of AKB48, who also participated in Produce 48. Earlier this year, she graduated from the Japanese group after deciding to pursue a KPOP career. Suyun and Sohee also participated in the show but were eliminated from the survival show.

I am on the fence when it comes to this track. BIM BAM BUM serves as the debut track for Rocket Punch and it attempts to tackle the bright and cutesy side of KPOP that majority of KPOP girl groups debut with. And it is because of that, the song comes off as generic and standard. I found the verses to be very dull. The instrumental doesn’t really add much to the verses besides being a light background piece. Their voices just don’t sound captivating. The slowdown that they incorporated into the bridge wasn’t that great. If anything, it dulled the song down a little. Once we get towards the end of the song, I noticed that the sound was rather repetitive. But as I said, I am on the fence. I cannot deny how good the hooks are in this song. I could see it growing on me. There are two different choruses, which later morphs into one for the final chorus. I thought this was interesting and played with the structure in a slightly unique way. And the chorus had a nice kick and colour to it, which makes the hooks even more addictive.  Though that was interesting. Apart from that, it looks like the disappointing side of the track is winning. 

With a track like this, the music video is exactly how I had expected it. The video features a fair bit of colour. It seems like the girls are like aliens, based on the way they interact with the cheetah while eating their popsicles and the fact they have some sort of ray shooting out of their hands when they do gun formations. And maybe they are on a different planet, as when they shoot things, candy comes out. Other than that, I found a bit plain. The story isn’t much and the rest of the video was just closeup and choreography. There really isn’t anything dynamic to talk about.

The chorus is pretty nice. Nothing that impressive. But I did like the various formations they pulled off and the hand movement they did when they sang the title of the song. I also liked their energy and they seemed to handle their performance well despite being newly debuted.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.2/10