[Review] 1 Minute 1 Second – W PROJECT 4

Predebut and pre-release tracks are fairly common throughout the industry. But I will admit that I tend to gloss over those because I tend to focus on actual debuts and comebacks. Though the general rule I have when deciding what to review is whether a music video is available for it or not. We find ourselves in a music video available scenario with Woolim’s latest project, W Project 4. 1 Minute, 1 Second features Kim Min Seo, Lee Sung Jun, Kim Dong Yun, Hwang Yun Seong, Lee Hyeop, and Joo Chang Uk (majority of these trainees represented Woolim in Produce X 101).

While 1 Minute 1 Second is obviously a dance track, it started off slow with a quiet tone and a moody atmosphere. However, right after that short introductory part, the song picks up and puts forward a loud and bold change in direction. Sure, it isn’t anything refreshing or new. But it is a contrast that I thought was rather cool. I also like the piano in the pre-chorus segment, which added another layer of contrast to the synths in the background and that follows in the chorus. The synth dominated chorus picks the track up to a whole new level. I also liked how they maintained that momentum throughout the song and didn’t go back to that intro segment (a thing that happens a little too much in KPOP). They did opt for a tone back bridge. But that is different from a slow start. I thought their rappings and vocals were really good, showcasing the new generation of KPOP to come in the future in a very positive light. Something I think the song could have done better was developed a little more. Like in my past reviews, it stayed fairly netural throughout. Other than that, 1 Minute 1 Second is a great track to show off the new trainees of Woolim Entertainment.

The music video, to me, is fairly straight forward. It isn’t to the level of other Woolim Entertainment music videos, which I guess makes sense. It just wouldn’t make sense to pour all this money into a project group, which I assume is a way for the company to try to capitalise on the attention that garnered through Produce X 101. The video is dark and gloomy, which matches the tone of the song. Similar to how I mentioned about contrasting above, the members contrasted fairly nicely with their white tops in the dark sets. Overall, for a predebut/project single, the video turned out well.

I mentioned this countless times in the past that Woolim stands out for the choreography that is performed on stage, especially for their male groups. There is a level of finetuning that goes into each performance. And I think W Project 4 also got this finetuning treatment as well. As a result, their entire choreography looked dynamic, powerful and awesome.

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

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[Album Review] The Moment Of Illusion (8th Mini Album) – UP10TION

The next album review (and this one is on time!) is for UP10TION’s return with The Moment Of Illusion. This is the group’s first album release since Blue Rose and Laberinto in 2018. The group has been absent from the stage as two of their members was participating in Produce X 101. And as a result, the same two members are also absent from this set of promotions (i.e. Kim Woo Seok due to promotions as part of X1 and Lee Jin Hyuk due to a break). Let’s see how the group’s latest album fair with the absence of two members.

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The Moment Of Illusion Album Cover

1. Your Gravity (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Your Gravity. (6/10)

2. Sky Surfer – A part of me thinks that Sky Surfer would have been a little typical for the title track. The chorus, its drop and the synths used throughout the song weren’t exactly exciting or fresh. But the song almost could have been an alternative as a title track. I find the song having this breezy vibe coming from it, suiting the Summer season. I also like the guitar that is slightly hidden away by the electronic components in the instrumentation. It had Goblin (the South Korean drama) vibes, which I really liked. I thought the vocals and rapping was nice. Maybe if they gave it a twist, I wouldn’t have had my initial doubts about its title track potential. But it is still pretty good. (8/10)

3. Look At MeLook At Me takes a similar typical approach to Sky Surfer. But they manage to change it up to make it slightly different from the rest of the competition. The song opens up with a sort of foreign guitar-like instrumental. It gives way to a very dynamic track in my opinion, with everything in the instrumental a level lower than what we would typically here in KPOP. The chorus drops and repeats the title, which is pretty standard. But I liked how they put the brakes on the drop, making it slower than what you had expected. Overall, I thought to Look At Me was another great track on the album. (8.5/10)

4. Skyway – I think we have another contender for the title track status. And this one doesn’t face any doubts like I had expressed under Sky Surfer. Actually, I wonder why they didn’t pick this one instead. It is strong and very energetic, which I have mentioned before ticking boxes for me, And I like it how it doesn’t stop. It just keeps going and doesn’t take an unnecessary pause. I thought the chorus had a catchy melody. The vocals and raps were amazing, especially Kun’s rap sequence at the end, channelling the song’s momentum until the very last second of the song. (9/10)

5. Restore – The album thus far has been mainly upbeat dance tracks of varying genres. Restore tones everything back, opting for an R&B track. But still, I can definitely see a choreography routine for this track with backup dancers. Melodically, I find the track to be very nice. The vocals and raps were also good, with a large focus on the vocals thanks to the slower nature of the song. I do question why they chose to push themselves for the chorus, as it almost felt like the vocals in the chorus were overpowering everything else. But for the time being, I think they manage to not step over into that domain. (7/10)

6. Lover – The album returns to and ends on another dance track. It is probably their most intense on the album, thanks to its dramatic and crunchy synths. Once again, I find the track slightly typical. The chorus felt a little plain and I had expected it to ‘add’ to the intense, rather than continue on with what we heard in the verses. The vocals were strong and I thought the rappers shined in this track, thanks to the intensity. Their rap sequences ended up having a little oomph to it. While I did make comments about its typicalness, I think the choice of Lover at the end of the album is a bold and memorable choice. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

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The Moment Of Illusion Teaser Image

[Album Review] The ReVe Festival: Day 2 (7th Mini Album) – Red Velvet

I hope to be back on the normal schedule last week. But due to my studies, that was put on hold for a bit. So I am now hoping that I am able to return to that normal schedule this weekend, with this album review kicking it off. Red Velvet made their comeback 10 days ago with Umpah Umpah and their second album release in The ReVe Festival series. Per usual with any Red Velvet release, they have managed to come on top on this week’s music shows so far. But it is now time to see how the album faired.

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The ReVe Festival: Day 2 Album Cover

1..Umpah Umpah (음파음파) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Umpah Umpah. (9.5/10)

2. Carpool (카풀) – While I was briefly listening through the album to see whether it was worth writing an album review for it, I was drawn to Carpool. It was bright and upbeat, two of the things I totally like when it comes to KPOP tracks. Sprinkle in with some funk, give the track to Red Velvet and let them own it. I really enjoyed the vocals in this song, as it was rather clear and the instrumental (to a degree) took a backseat approach, allowing the vocals to be capitalised. I also enjoyed the melodies throughout the song, making this a standout track, in my opinion. My pick for the highlight has to be the part of the chorus where they sing together. (9/10)

3. Love Is The Way (사랑은 길이다)Love Is The Way slows down considerably but continues the bright tone that we have heard so far on the album. This time around the track opts for a retro style, which reminds me of a lot of SNSD’s Lion Heart. To be honest, some of the Red Velvet members reminded me of some of the SNSD members throughout the track. I really like the ‘Your lips say no, but your heart says yes’ line that is featured before each chorus. I think the biggest flaw of the track is that its slowness was very evident, particularly since it was following Carpool, which was a lot faster and snappier. It did cause the retro track to come off as sluggish and dry. (7.5/10)

4. Jumpin’ – We return to something a little more upbeat. Given how its tempo seems to be in between Carpool and Love Is The Way, I think this would have been a suitable song to have in between the two so that the latter song did not come off as sluggish. Despite that observation, however, with a song titled as Jumpin’, I would have expected a little more energy to come from the track. It wasn’t sluggish. But it wasn’t eventful, I could say. Their vocals were quite strong in this track, which I guess helped offset. But it felt more abstract with this approach. I would also say this track is moderately catchy and I wouldn’t mind listening to the song occasionally. (7/10)

5. Ladies Night – It is a night that I am not invited to. But Ladies Night seems to bring out the good side of Red Velvet. I really like their slight retro approach with this R&B track. It seems to match the rest of the album nicely. The brass gives it a lot of colour and character, making the instrumental stand out. I also thought their vocals, which was a lot softer than the previous tracks, were well presented. And I liked how their vocals and instrumental blended together nicely. (8/10)

6. Eyes Locked, Hands Locked (눈 맞추고, 손 맞대고) – When I was checking out the album, the final track caught my attention. Its title is rather intriguing. And I didn’t know what to really expect with a song titled Eyed Locked, Hands Locked. It ended up being a ‘love at first sight’ ballad with delicate vocals, fitting for the softer instrumentation that the ballad had opted for. Throughout this album and within this track, all the members have been singing together for the chorus, which I think works very well with Red Velvet. Other groups do this, but they tend to inefficiently or overuse this technique. It does feel a rather typical way to end the album, but I can’t deny that it is a good track to end the album on. (8/10

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

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The ReVe Festival: Day 2 Teaser Image

[Review] Regulus – ONEWE

Making their return to the stage for the first time ever is ONEWE. For those who do not know, ONEWE is a band from RBW Entertainment (ONEUS, VROMANCE and MAMAMOO also come from the same company) and was formerly known as MAS. They made their re-debuted as ONEWE in May of this year with Reminisce About All. Since their release, the band made their Japanese debut with the Japanese version of the same title track. And now, the group has returned with Regulus and the single album, 2/4.

I have described a number of songs in the past as being in ‘neutral gear’. But I think Regulus finds its place on top of that category. For the majority of the nostalgic rock song, it was very slow-moving. The chorus only added a little momentum but it wasn’t enough for my tastes. We did get that much-needed climax through the ‘guitar dominant’ bridge section, but I wished they had built up to it in a more explicit fashion. They might have intended another Reminisce About All climax but I think they left it a little too late this time around. Minus the instrumentation, I think the song does make up for its flaw.  The track manages to showcase more of the members, while Reminisce About All was skewed towards one member (from memory). Everyone sounded quite nice. We also got some rapping in this song. While I am not a fan of that crunchy autotune placed on the vocals just before the rapping, it does give the song some much-needed texture. Overall, Regulus was a fair song to add to ONEWE’s discography.

 There is no doubt that this is a moody track. Regulus, for those who don’t know, is one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Hence, in that case, for us to see Regulus, it has been dark. And essentially, the members are singing about being able to see light (their lover) while in the dark. Therefore, it made total sense for the music video to be shot with a grey filter, with the day sky transforming to the night sky. I think the video would have been a little more effective if they shot it during the Winter months or when it was naturally darker. Apart from that, their presence really made the video feel more compelling. And while it was just scenes of them playing their instruments, I have to admit that it was worth watching.

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

[Review] Blurry – Kim Kook Heon & Song Yu Vin

Yesterday I reviewed X1’s Flash debut. But interestingly, they are not first set of trainees debuting from Produce X 101. The first trainees to do that was Kim Kook Heon and Song Yu Vin, who finished 21st and 15th respectively. Both trainees come from Music Works and were formerly part of MYTEEN (which has since disbanded following the completion of the show). Over the weekend (a few days ahead of X1’s debut), the two made their return to the industry with Blurry.

Blurry takes on the ballad genre, with a rather soothing and classically-driven track. The song showcases great vocals from the two. I really liked how they managed to integrated some rapping into the song, which tends to be a hit or miss for me when it comes to ballads. I also thought the piano melody was very pleasant. I also like that water drop effect that is featured throughout the song, giving the instrumental a little extra detail. The song feels perfect for a rainy day and that is also the playlist that the song will land into as soon as I finish writing this review. But while I look upon this track quite positively, I found the ballad to be of the typical nature. And this is possibly a problem for Blurry and the two singers, especially in an industry that is very big with ballads. To an extent, it felt very straight forward and one-dimensional. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but I think a little more to the instrumental and some layering could have helped boost the song to a whole new level.

The music video for the song was quite pleasant, perfectly fitting the song’s tone. And my comment regarding how it is perfect for a rainy day partly stems from the music video, due to that rainy scene in which they are sharing an umbrella. I assume the fish and cherry that the two were held in the video that later disappeared alluded to their lovers who left them, due to their inexperience with love. Apart from that, it was a nice video to watch.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10

[Review] Flash – X1

And now we move onto that big debut that I mentioned in my previous review. Back in July of this year, Produce X 101 wrapped up their season by announcing the trainees that will be going on to debut as part of X1 (i.e. the Top 10 plus the member with the most points throughout the entire season). A huge congratulations to Kim Yo Han, Kim Woo Seok, Han Seung Woo, Song Hyeong Jun, Cho Seung Youn, Son Dong Pyo, Lee Han Gyul, Nam Do Hyun, Cha Jun Ho, Kang Min Hee and Lee Eun Sang for making their debut yesterday with Flash.

I did tweet (my shameless plug to advertise I have a Twitter that you can follow to get up-to-date news about where reviews are at!) last night that Flash is quite good. And that statement does still stand to an extent. The dance track definitely has intensity and this builds throughout the song. The instrumental also felt very dynamic at certain points of the song, which goes hand-in-hand with the intensity. I thought the pre-chorus was probably the main highlight point of the song, as it was where that intensity was felt the strongest. Following closely behind would have to be the closing chorus of the song, which brought upon some impressive adlibs. But the keyword a while back was ‘…to an extent’. While we were on the topic of vocals, I have to point out that they didn’t have a backing that could have made them flourish. Instead, it resulted in them feeling quite neutral. The second disappointment of the track was the drop. While it was okay, I expected something with a little more striking, especially following that cool pre-chorus.

The music video had an artsy side, which I think appealed to me. If you know me, I really like visuals. And the sets were very aesthetically pleasing. The various sets that could be seen in this video looked amazing. My favourite had to be the big half X in the background. I also really liked the use of black, red and lights in that set. The green light set wasn’t that good looking and the streamers made it look constricting and elementary. While the music video did opt for a standard closeup and choreography combination, I thought the video turned out well for their debut.

The choreography is definitely intense. That is the only direction you could go with a song of this nature. There was a little generic atmosphere at the start. But I really enjoyed the fierceness and power that came from the final section of the choreography. I also like their ‘Flash‘ pose.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] LALALAY – Sunmi

Apologies for my absence yesterday. It was definitely poor timing on my behalf, especially with one very big debut and solo comeback all in one day yesterday. Firstly, let’s focus on the solo comeback from Sunmi. The ver popular female solo singer is back. And especially after a string of very popular songs (the most recent is Noir), Sunmi attempts to repeat her success with LALALAY. And it seems that she is already doing that, with her comeback track already topping domestic charts!

Listening to LALALAY, it makes me think of her entire list of title tracks since branching out with Gashina.  It might be the music video side influence speaking, but I have found Sunmi’s title tracks to have an element of being ‘out there’. Sure, there are a number of artists who do this well as well. But not in the serious manner that Sunmi always pull off. Alongside this, I found the track to be very catchy from start to end. The instrumental starts off as quite piercing. But it is an opener that attracts your attention from the start. I really liked her verses, which was the more vocally centred sections of the track. Though, I wanted to hear more of a strong hook during the pre-chorus, as I think this could have benefited the chorus. The piercing start of the song returns as the main piece of the chorus. Once again, I thought it was cool and catchy. And it definitely added some attitude to the song. I am not a fan of the bridge, which felt like it was from another song. The transition didn’t feel right and I am disappointed with that, as this is keeping it from being another ‘perfect’ song from Sunmi. But overall, LALALAY is a song to put on repeat.

As I mentioned before, it might be the music video side that influenced my first comments about LALALAY and her familiar title tracks. And this video does have that odd factor to it, proving my point. The song is all about being yourself despite the criticisms. And she does just that in the video by sporting pretty different hairstyles. She opts for a blonde hairdo and long pigtails, which isn’t anything odd, to begin with. But the video does a good job of making it look odd, and the backup dancers seem to be following whatever she is doing (i.e. she is a trendsetter). Despite the criticisms, she will always have the supporters behind her, which is the message I am getting alongside to the lyrics.   It is a nice video to watch and I think it went well with the song.

Sunmi has always developed a noticeable dance move. Gashina was the hand-gun, Heroine was the whipping arms, Siren was the mermaid pose. And now, LALALAY is the twisting hair move. It is a simple move, so I suspect many people will be following her dance, once again.  Watching her live performance, I find her confidence to be very appealing. During the verses, she was playful. But once the chorus kicks in, she changes her charisma to suit the section.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.1/10

[Album Review] The Night In The Park (Part 3) (3rd Mini Album) – GWSN

Apologies everyone for the delay for this album review. It was meant to be published last Sunday. But I had pushed that because I was busy. And I was very occupied over the weekend. And now, I am here to publish this review (before I hold onto it for another week)! GWSN debuted last year with a really cool title track (Puzzle Moon). I do remember that I was intrigued so much by it, so I checked out their debut mini-album. But I wasn’t satisfied with it to write an album review. Their comeback at the start of the year also shared the same fate. But third time is the charm, as today we review their 3rd mini-album, the 3rd (and final) part of their The Night In The Park trilogy.

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The Night In The Park (Part 3) Album Cover

1. Red Sun (021) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Red Sun (021). (9/10)

2. All Mine (Coast of Azure) – GWSN has always stood out for their different style title tracks. So, to hear something a little more typical from the group felt nice, which is rather odd, considering my past comments on every other ‘typical’ sounding track. All Mine is a Summer track that is bright and makes you think of the beach and sun thanks to its upbeat energy. I thought the track was quite nice and thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a slight quirk in the song, with the pre-chorus sounding like a music box with a downward gradient. That stood out for me, alongside the colourful vocals and rapping. (8/10)

3. Night Aviation (밤의 비행) (The Interpretation of Dreams) – The group now takes a new direction with Night Aviation. It is a dance R&B track that also a very smooth feel to it. It is very mature, which I think is that ‘new direction’ that I mentioned. The instrumental is standard, with no impressive moments that stick out. But it is their vocals and rapping that really give this song some character. It might also be the fact that I am impressed with their performances and a song like this seems will be portrayed exceptionally well on stage by such a strong dance group. I think the only thing that I would consider a flaw in this song is that standard instrumental, but as mentioned, other elements (and expectations) make up for this. (8.5/10)

4. Total Eclipse (Black Out)Total Eclipse returns the group to their aesthetics and dance style that their title tracks always go for. However, this track seems to be a little more ‘out-there’ and wacky, so I think it was well-played by the producers to keep this as a side-track instead. Nonetheless, I think this was very interesting and I did enjoy it. The chorus was very cool, especially with the start. The crunchy ‘Black Out’ effect was a strong highlight for me. I liked how it also contrasted with the rest of the song, as the other parts felt like a ‘normal’ track. And thanks to that highlight, there was a fun vibe to the song. (8/10)

5. Birthday Girl ~ 19 Candles – Through Birthday Girl, we get to see a different side of the group. If you are more familiar with their title tracks, you might not expect this direction. It is a more delicate style, which calls for a soft vocal approach. And the group nails this. I think this was a very nice track that brings their vocals, rather than their performances and catchy hooks, to the forefront. In a sense, the track acts as a magnifying glass, as it allowed us to hear the husky tones some of the members brought to the song. The harmonies heard in the chorus was very beautiful. (9/10)

6. Kind Of CoolKind Of Cool isn’t exactly the most appealing track. It is a little bland upon first glance at its tropical-like instrumentation and is kind of neutral throughout. Their vocals and rapping aren’t also their most impressive work. But despite the negativity, I must emphasise that this track isn’t terrible. It is still quite listenable. It just doesn’t ping as something to ‘put on repeat’. It is also on the weaker side of the spectrum compared to their other songs on the album. Despite that, I did like the chorus as it was somewhat catchy and I thought the flutes were a nice instrumental detail in the song. (6.5/10)

7. Black H●le – If you were to compare Kind Of Cool and Black Hole (I won’t be inserting the darkened circle while referring to the song within the review), you might think I would be repeating my comments. But I am not going to. I find Black Hole to be very appealing, mainly because we get to hear more of that delicate style from the group. Once again, it is different, and I am not really ready to hear them return to their usual sound just yet. I really like the flowy nature of this track and the acapella in the background. The rapping was also well blended into the track, which I think is always a tricky aspect to tackle in these types of tracks. (8/10)

8. Recipe ~ for Simon – Ending the album is once again, another delicate track. I cannot get enough of these tracks!! I find the harmonies in this track to be superb. I am not as impressed with the incorporation of the rapping as I was with the preceding song. It is good but not as great as Black Hole. The chorus has that flowy nature and I find them all singing to together to be a real standout element in this track. It feels wholesome, cohesive and brings the album to a close on a slower but nice note. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

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The Night In The Park (Part 3) Teaser Image

[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

[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