[Album Review] A New Trilogy (2nd Mini Album) – Lovelyz

I have noticed my clear lack of Lovelyz album reviews. They always seem like a hit or miss to me. But hopefully that will change soon as I plan to revisit some of their albums, including the ones that I consider to be ‘miss’ from the past few years. Today, I thought I revisit an album from the group which includes Destiny, one of their more memorable title tracks. The album is called A New Trilogy, which was released in April 2016.

A New Trilogy Album Cover

2. Destiny (Title Track) (나의 지구)Click here to read the full review of Destiny. (9/10)

3. Fondant (퐁당) – As the title of the song suggests, Fondant is a very sugary song. It is definitely brings out their cute side that we don’t get so much in Destiny. What I do like about the song is that it isn’t overly sweet. It does feel like it goes in that direction, but the really cutesy moments are quite limited. The vocals parts are sung at a higher pitch than usual to give off that cutesy feel. But after all these years of reviewing, I have found that to be bearable at least. It is more of those saturated moments that gets me otherwise. There is a nice melody and everything is quite light, which are elements that I really enjoy. (8/10)

4. Bookmark (책갈피) – To me, Bookmark can be a versatile song. It has the slowness and calmness of the ballad, while the instrumental does feature enough for it to have a nice choreography. Despite this, Bookmark is showcased as a ballad based on a performance I found. I thought the instrumental was a very nice. As mentioned, it combines the best of both worlds. But the piano does shine very nicely. The vocal work in this song was also quite soothing, while the rapping was a surprised addition that worked well with the setup. (8/10)

5. 1 cm – Another cutesy track from the group. But this one has an 8-bit like sound in the instrumental, which I thought was unique and added to the cutesy side of the track. It also provided a really bright and vibrant energy that you can’t help but smile at. I also like how the song sounds very ‘Lovelyz’, fitting extremely neatly into their discography. I also liked the delay drop to the chorus and the harmonies in this section, which really helped provided definition to the song. (9/10)

6. Heart (Handle with Care) (마음 (취급주의)) – The song also has a second title, Dear You. This one adds a little more energy to the song with an upbeat instrumentation. Like 1 cm, Heart does a good job of fitting into Lovelyz’s discography. The verses and bridge have that really sweet and cutesy tone to it that we have all grown to associate with Lovelyz. The chorus does stray away from their sound, however. It doesn’t feel like a Lovelyz song during chorus. I am not sure why, but it might have to do with the way they all harmonized and sung together. There is a charm to this as well, as it really become addictive to listen to. I also love the addition of electric guitar to the final chorus, as that it what the song really needed. (9/10)

7. Baby Doll (인형) – The way the song started instrumentally, along with the filtered/autotune vocals, really made the song sound haunting. I am not sure whether this is their intention, but that is what I tend to feel when I hear a music box like sound. Another way to look at it is that the song sounded very elegant or fairytale-like, which might be the more appropriate direction of the song. The vocal work seems to support either interpretations and sounded amazing when you consider both viewpoints. It isn’t my favourite track on the album, but it is alright. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

A New Trilogy Teaser Image

[Review] Crossroads – GFriend

GFriend also made their comeback yesterday with Crossroads. Unfortunately I ran out of time to review it yesterday. But here is the review now, better late than never. This is a major comeback for the group, as this is the first comeback by the group since Source Music (their company) was acquired by Big Hit Entertainment (the home of BTS and TXT). According to Wikipedia, this isn’t the first time that both companies had paired up with one another, as they previously both partnered to form GLAM and are currently co-managing 8EIGHT (who were confirmed to be returning quite soon).

You would expect that with a ‘change’ in management such as the one outlined in the above paragraph, the group would have faced some sort of transformation. But that isn’t the case. The group retained that sound that we got from Time Is The Moon Night and Sunrise. And while I have enjoyed that sound greatly when it was released, it is slowly becoming a bore and I think that might be the consensus this time around. The string-dominant instrumentation feels like a copy of the previous songs. However, Crossroads did incorporate a little more with faint woodblock like sounds, feature another explosive chorus and the presence of electric guitar at the end felt like it was ‘in-your-face’, which surprisingly was what I had wanted a few comebacks back. All of these did help the song feel new. But I just wished they went an entirely different direction when it came to the ‘main body’ of the song. Vocally, I felt that it was good. It didn’t have much epicness to it as compared to Sunrise (Eunha’s high note still gets me). But I did thoroughly enjoy that brief milli-second pause just before the final chorus, which capped the song in a unique fashion. Overall, it was okay. Just not what I had expected.

One line stood out to me in the song. “Even if you pass by me, I will find you. Then I’ll reach out again to you“, which essentially is all about returning to one another despite difficulties. In the music video, we are shown a whole bunch of scenes where the members fight. And it seems like the fights are very hurtful. For example, Umji and Yuju have a massive fight at home. A few scenes later, Umji wants to make up with Yuju, but Yuju rejects this, showing us the extent of this fight. At the end, we do get to see the members come together and enjoy their time with one another, which I assume shows us that they all made up after finding their way back to one another. That is the story line that I managed to get after watching the video a couple of time and may have missed on important details (i.e. Eunha’s introductory doesn’t really fit into this category, but may link up with their previous videos possibly?). So let me know if I missed anything or what you think happened in the video!

Even the choreography reminds me of their previous comebacks. I do still like the elegant side of their performance and am glad that did carry over, as this is very fitting for this song style. I thought that both the start and the end of the performance looked really cool, especially with the speed at which the ending came hurling at.

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

[Review] Dun Dun – EVERGLOW

Did EVERGLOW take the Best New Female Group Category for 2019? Click here to find out!

One of the groups that I am going to be keeping an eye on throughout 2020 is EVERGLOW. Why am I keeping an eye out for them? Well, their debut track (Bon Bon Chocolat) and Adios comeback puts them on a whole new level. And it is EVERGLOW’s goal to continue this or even top it through their next comeback and beyond. Well, the group has returned with Dun Dun today. So it will be interesting to see if it does.

I read an article headline today where the group stated that the first time hearing the song, they loved it. And I think I can say the exact same thing. Once again, EVERGLOW manages to blow my mind with Dun Dun. It is bolder than their other title tracks, which basically means they achieved their goal mentioned in the first paragraph. There is a ethnic vibe to the song in the opening that filtered throughout the song as it progressed along. The song then threw us one of the best lines in KPOP so far at the very start. I say that because that line just oozed so much attitude. But the part that blew my mind was the chorus. There is a delay drop and we get one of the most memorable moments of the song through this (i.e. where they sing softly ‘You Are So Done Done Done‘. The chorus was explosive and their shouting really makes it memorable. I also liked how they didn’t repeat the delayed drop for the second chorus, which help prevent the song from becoming repetitive. Towards, we do get a instrumental break which basically encompasses all the adjectives (i.e. bold, explosive, attitude-heavy) that I have mentioned in the review so far. There is a lot to this song and I definitely think it is another amazing track from the group that is one up from their previous tracks.

The music video definitely fits in with the song. It is bolder and helps define the song in a way that makes it so much more explosive. That is why I consider visuals to be a very important of KPOP. The music video also no doubtfully made them look very stunning, with their outfits and closeups highlighting the individual members. I really liked their sets in the music video looked really cool, as they helped the video to become even more memorable. I think the icy set, with the black background and their black dresses were the best in the video.

All the adjectives that I have mentioned thus far were actively portrayed throughout the performance. I have honestly run out of things to mention, as I have basically describe the dance already. I think the only word that I haven’t mentioned is edgy, but I use that term a little too much nowadays. I really like the swaying thing they do when they delay the drop and the dance break at the end was really cool.

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

[Review] Say My Name – ANS

The next review I have coming your way is for ANS, an eight-member female group that I have yet to cover on my blog. They made their debut with Boom Boom in the later half of the year. Originally, I was going to review Boom Boom but that has been delayed. The review for Boom Boom will be coming later in the month as part of the Catch Up segment that I am planning. So, keep your eyes peeled for that. In the meanwhile, this is the review for Say My Name, the group’s comeback track which was released at the start of the year.

Say My Name is a good track. It just has a few things that don’t sit right for me. But I will get to them later on. The song has this level of boldness, which really helps put the spotlight on the track. The song’s EDM based instrumental does sound a little typical but there is a good level of energy to it that I really enjoyed. The pre-chorus vocals were probably my favourite parts of the song and I liked the hook that they had. It was very catchy and has grown to be somewhat addictive. But the rapping just did not feel right. It just didn’t feel fitting and I think if they somehow better mixed into the song, that would have helped a lot. The second has to be one of the ‘addictive’ hooks. The ‘going Boom Boom‘ felt very cheap, particularly since it was the title of their debut single. I wished they were a little more creative and opted for a different catchphrase. Minus those two problems, Say My Name is a pretty decent track to continue onward with their careers.

The music video is what really caught my attention. Based on concept, it reminded me of EVERGLOW’s Adios comeback from 2019. But they added a few little more elements to make it their own. These additions also made it turn into a quite colourful music video. But it isn’t brightly coloured as the edgy factor is maintained throughout the music video. I also thought the video managed to showcase a very bold side of the group, which goes hand-in-hand with the song. Overall, a cool music video.

I really liked how they brought the edge through their performance. The song does have a ‘don’t mess with me’ type of vibe to it and I think they worked that vibe well into their choreography. The song does also give them a little leeway, as it is all seriousness, giving them an opportunity to smile for the camera. I think they could have lost this element but it still managed to work.

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

[Album Review] Face Me (3rd Mini Album) – VERIVERY

Apologies for my lack of album reviews over the last few weeks. A lot has happened in the past few weeks which prevented me from drafting and publishing these album reviews. But now that everything is stable again, I am able to restart posting reviews and album reviews as previously announced. We kick start the album review segment for the second time this year with VERIVERY’s comeback. They returned last month with Lay Back and their third mini-album, Face Me. Let’s see how the album fared as part of their latest comeback.

Face Me Album Cover

1. Photo – To me, Photo sets the tone for the album. It starts off with a rap-whisper sequence and this slowly builds into a decent rap verse. The vocals start to come through alongside the rapping. All this happens with a minimal background that is laced with heavy bass. That is up until the pre-chorus where the song picks up, leading to a paced but unique chorus. It doesn’t go for a slamming drop, but it is definitely a change in momentum. I really liked this section as it really sets the song apart from the rest of the album. The rest of the song copies the exact same set up. But due to its uniqueness, it doesn’t feel repetitive (maybe many more listens might change this). But Photo really opens the album in a way that yells out that there is a change in their sound, and it is worth checking out this change. (8/10)

2. Lay Back (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Lay Back. (7/10)

3. Paradise – We start with the clock ticking and then are launched into the very familiar tropical house genre. It isn’t a complete launch (like as we do with the chorus), but you can definitely tell the direction of the song within the first few seconds on the track. I thought the song was nice, with the brightness in this track cutting the intensity that was thrown at us. It doesn’t feel heavy and the sound isn’t the ‘in-your-face’ type. My only complaint was the chanting (or shouting) during the chorus really cheapened the song for me. I did like the rougher texture during the opening of the final chorus. But the rest of the choruses felt a little too cliché. (7.5/10)

4. Curtain CallCurtain Call is a pretty standard pop track. There is a nice beat to the song, which I think is one of the song’s main draw points. The rapping in the song is also another strong aspect and I definitely wanted to hear more of it as the song went along. The vocals did feel like it was the weakest part of the song as it didn’t feel like it was mixed in nicely. One example of this was the chorus. The vocals were used as a launcher into the chorus, but instead it cut the flow of the song and it felt like it was just awkwardly placed on top of the instrumental, rather than incorporated into the song. Overall, it was okay. But it was definitely the weakest of the bunch. (6/10)

5. Moment – We end of the album with a ballad. An expected move when it comes to many albums in the KPOP sphere. Coming off the previous song, I did think the vocal work in this song was a lot better. I do get the same impression that the vocals were laid over the top of the instrumental, but that is the nature of most ballads. The harmonies with the backing vocals, the acoustic guitar focused background and the softer nature of their voices do help out in this aspect, making this track extremely pleasant and calming. (8/10)

Overall Album Review – 7.3/10

Face Me Teaser Image

[Review] Without You – Golden Child

Golden Child is the second artist to comeback this week that is returning with a repackaged album. In November 2019, the group returned with the rebooted Wannabe, which earned them their first weekly music show win ever! Now the group is looking to continue the same momentum through their Without You comeback and the repackaged version of Re-boot, which also shares the same name as the new title track. In other related news, the group also recently held their first solo concert mid-January.

Based on my initial listen, I categorize this track into the classy category. I think what Golden Child managed to do in Without You was really impressive and unique. Going into this track, I had expected the common structure. So, I thought the soft-spoken start was the launchpad into a song that would have built up to into something explicitly epic. But we never get to that point as the song doesn’t really build. Instead the epicness we do get was a lot more subtle. The beat was a lot more hidden, but the chorus still managed to be groovy and fitting as a follow up from Wannabe. There is also a trap-infused dance break following the choruses, which was designed to be fitting for the song yet subtle at the same time. The second half of the song does have a more beat to it, but it keeps relatively aligned with the first half in its subtle-ness. The vocal work was superb and the rapping gave the song an extra punch, which I thought was fun. While I do like the song as a whole, my favourite section has to be the rough texture in the first verse, which is followed by a brief pause. That was really cool effect.

I don’t have time at the moment to really dig into the meaning behind the video. But I can tell that each scene seems to be in this music video for a symbolic reasoning. I would like to see what they are trying to portray, so if you have an idea about the storyline/meaning of the video, then let us know in the comment. This makes the music video a lot more interesting, lifting the dark concept from typical to captivating.

I thought the start to the choreography was pretty cool. The way they get up one by one. It is followed up a really cool setup where they are able to pull Jaehyun backwards. Then they were able to have really stunning formations during each pause in the first verse. And all of this happened before we reached the chorus. The dance break we ended up getting looked awesome, while the key point of the choreography during the chorus helped ‘smooth’ everything out.

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

[Review] 2YA2YAO! – Super Junior

As the Lunar New Year has passed, you an expect an influx of comebacks this week from some of your favourite artists. Super Junior kicks us off this week with the release of 2YA2YAO! This is the group’s title track for the repackaged album of Time_Slip, which has been renamed as Timeless. As the lineup for Super Junior tends to change between comebacks (though this shouldn’t happen anymore as all the members have passed the mandatory enlistment stage of their careers), I just wanted to clarify that this comeback features the same nine members who participated in Super CLAP and the Time_Slip album. But on with the review!

Pronounced as Il-Ow-Il-Ya-Oh, 2YA2YAO! takes on a completely different profile to their previous title track. This new song is a lot more intense and edgy, as opposed to the bright and pop nature of SUPER Clap. To me, this would be Super Junior’s answer to the more intense comebacks that we have heard in this era of KPOP and definitely a return to their more powerful sounds that they had going when they were at the peak of their careers. And I thought it was a really awesome song. The instrumental felt like it took a page of the 90s and I honestly liked how deep it sounded. I think this was largely the reason to why I really enjoyed the song. The vocal work helped support this. The rapping was good but it felt a little plain. The part that did get the biggest question mark is trap-focused bridge of the song. It started off good, matching with the rest of the song. But then the melody become a little too mainstream pop, which didn’t feel like it was fitting for the otherwise cool track.

Based from the top of my mind, this comeback features one of their edgiest videos yet. I think the last time I got this type of feeling from a Super Junior music video was Bonamana. While I do like this type of concept, I have to admit that it is a little typical. Aside from showing the members in a dark setting and charismatic light (which does match the song’s vibes), there just wasn’t really anything worth talking about.

The music video did feature the standard choreography shots and I thought that these were a better element of the music video. You could feel the edge when watching the choreography shots. My favourite bit has to be short instrumental segments we get following each chorus. I thought the section looked really cool and it was like they were tutting with their entire bodies.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[Review] Black Swan – BTS

In addition to Interlude tracks, I don’t often review pre-release tracks. The main reason for this is that there usually isn’t any music video (which would reduce my review to a 2 paragraphs. Last week, BTS unveiled Black Swan, the pre-release track off their upcoming album release, Map Of The Soul: 7. Accompanying this pre-release track is an art film, which I have decided to be the music video for this release. Hence, this fulfills the criteria for a review. Map Of The Soul: 7 has been confirmed for release on the 21st of February 2020.

The more I listen to Black Swan, the more I find it to be extremely calming. There is something about the song that just relaxes me. It might be the instrumental, which doesn’t go into any ‘hard’ territory and remains relatively light throughout. The Eastern influences that you can hear in the instrumental give off complexity, definition and personality. All elements that you definitely want to find in a song. The more modern trap beats keeps it grounded and adds robustness to the song. The combination comes together nicely and allows for a flow like water trickling over a riverbed. Their vocals could also help make the song feel calming. Their harsher vocals (for both rappers and vocalists) were not present in this song. Everything was a lot softer and more melodic, which helped smooth out the song even further. The use of autotune usually would have countered this. But somehow, BTS managed to utilize this element without disrupting the atmosphere. If I was to be honest, I didn’t feel this way about the song the first few times I heard it. It felt awkward and I just didn’t get it. But more listens definitely helped out and I am looking forward to the rest of the album when it comes out in February.

The art film contains a slightly different version of the song, where the song features more traditional instruments and a more acoustic profile. And I think this version really helps make the choreography stand out. I find the following explanation to the performance to make a lot of sense and is more detailed that whatever interpretation that I would have made.

To me, the level of aesthetics in which the art film reaches is a very fine point on any scale. That takes a lot to do and the producers nailed the film perfectly, capturing everything that needed to be captured. It is definitely one of check out. I highly recommend it.

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

[Review] Interlude: Shadow – Suga (BTS)

This review contains my personal opinions regarding the song and music video. This is my interpretation and mine only.

This is the first time I am doing a full review for the Interlude track for BTS (or any artist). Why am I finally doing a review for the Interlude track? Well, I have noticed that these are actually tracks worth talking about themselves. The music video that accompanies these tracks also tend to be full of symbolism and hence there is more to talk about. The Interlude track is titled Shadow, courtesy of Suga. It was the first track unveiled after the announcement of their upcoming comeback in February with Map Of The Soul: 7.

There is something haunting with the start of the song in the ‘I Wanna Be…‘ montage. Suga’s signature husky and low tone brings this section to life, making it a memorable part of the song. Suga then start to throw lines at us through the rapping. And it is in this part do we get more of an idea of what the song is all about. Essentially, the ‘I Wanna Be…‘ montage at the start is more like the dream that we keep on repeating to ourselves to help make it a reality. But the verses and chorus paint a darker picture. That sometimes this dream isn’t somewhere we would want to be. In this sense, Suga says as part as of the world’s leading musical act, he is lonely and is often followed by a dark shadow that stays with me no matter whats. He doesn’t want to fly nor does he want to fall from the top. The rock sound in this part was really good and well accented. He then repeats the montage and then the song manages to flip a switch. It becomes a lot more intense and powerful. Suga’s rapping becomes more erratic and chaotic, as opposed to the control at the start. In the lyrics, I think he is referencing that darker side, which I thought was interesting. There is a lot to take in, but I thought Suga nailed this track with a very likable backdrop/instrumental.

I think my interpretation of the song lyrics and the musical intentions of the song reflect well with the music video. Remember that this might not be the actual interpretation. We see shadows at the start, with Suga standing in front of door. I think this foreshadows the shadows that will follow him once he rises to the top. We then see the same corridor with Suga, but no shadows, which shows his desires prior to realizing the darker side of show business. He runs, which shows his climb to the top. This lands him on the stage, with everyone watching. In this era, social media is like a double-ended sword. It help create his career. But at the same time, it allows for the focus to be too much on him. There is a scene in which the camera angles continually changes but the focus remains on him the entire time, further emphasising this part. The more erratic part of the song shows cameras directed at him, similar to how paparazzi tends to get. We see the shadows run after him. But we see human hands instead, showing that some fans can be the shadow. Overall, I thought this was a really cool video. The different ways symbolism was shown in the video was really profound. The post-production also helped out.

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

[Album Review] First Collection (1st Studio Album) – SF9

This is a studio album review. It is lengthy.

SF9 made their return last Monday with Good Guy and their very first studio length album, First Collection. And a bigger congratulation to the members as this comeback has scored them their first (few) wins on the weekly music shows that we see each weekend. Good Guy scored first place on MCountdown and Music Bank this week, further proving that their popularity is growing between comebacks. Good job to the group and hope to see more wins the future, as they do deserve it. But before we go anywhere into the future, let’s have a close look at what their first album had to offer.

First Collection Album Cover

1. Good Guy (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Good Guy. (9/10)

2. Am I The Only One (나만 그래) Am I The Only One could easily have been a title track. There is a very classy profile to this track that I think many people might miss if they gloss through the album. I find this contrasts in a very distinct manner, as the song talks about being the only one in a former relationship to have their thoughts linger towards their former lover. The chorus was really smooth, and I thought the husky vocals Inseong brought to the song really ‘upgraded’ the song. The rappers also stood out in this song, which their parts providing a little interesting push and texture. There is a lot more that I wanted to say about this song. But due to the nature of the album review, this is not possible. However, I think the song can be described in one word: perfection. (9/10)

3. Shh – Another fantastic song on this album comes right after a perfect song. I like how seductive the song sounds. The limited brass that featured in the instrumental (during the pre-chorus and ending) was very smooth, while the guitar helped make the song groovy. I liked how they amped up the bass for the chorus, which made the instrumental sound so bouncy. I thought every member sounded really good in the song. The rappers did not have much of a presence in this song, relative to the second track. But their parts sounded really good, complimenting the vocalists and their slight seduction. (9/10)

4. Lullu Lalla (룰루랄라) – I wasn’t exactly sure what direction the song would take, given the song’s title. But once I heard the pop sound and the upbeat instrumentation, it all made sense. The instrumental or backdrop to the song was very vibrant, which I thought gave the song a strong appeal. There is a much brighter tone to the song, which does take everything we have heard in a different direction. I thought it was a nice palate cleanser, given its position after a number of intense tracks (the intensity in some was more subtle). There is a bit of autotune to the song, which I thought gave good textures to the otherwise traditional sound. The vocals and rapping were good. (8/10)

5. One Love One Love is another upbeat dance pop track. But unfortunately, it sounds pretty typical for its pop sound. And hence I find the song not as impressive when compared to the song around it. What the song does good is that it pushes forward with an instrumental that just keeps on going. I thought this was a good aspect of the song, as the flow does not get cut for majority of the song. The only break in the instrumental comes just before the final chorus and it does so in a neat manner. The momentum returns in full capacity for the final chorus and gives the song a decent ending, ending with how it started. (7/10)

6. Like The Hands Held Tight (널 꽉 잡은 손만큼) – Chosen as a secondary promotional track (i.e. promoted during their comeback week), Like The Hands Held Tight is a mid-tempo R&B track that sounds pretty decent. It shows off their classy side, as mentioned earlier in the review, and this makes this a good lead-in to their actual comeback title track. The track also reminded me of their O Sole Mio era, based on the way Taeyang sings ‘Take My My Hand’. To be honest, I wanted a little more to the song. I wanted it to be more engaging. The instrumental was bland and needed to be spice up in some capacity. The song would have benefited from this and developed a more engaging appeal. (7/10)

7. Fire (타) – For a song named Fire, I expected a little more when it came to the verses. I expected it to come roaring at me, as other tracks titled Fire have done in the past. But I thought the start (and second verse) was pretty tame in comparison. The chorus does make up for the flawed start by amping up the instrumentation, tempo and energy. The hooks were very catchy and addictive. I did place a huge question mark over the rapping, because I thought it needed more intensity. But more listens have removed this question mark. The vocal work was also quite good as well. (7.5/10)

8. Stop It Now (더 잔인하게) – Despite the song being on the shorter side, I thought Stop It Now was a very good song. There is a slowness to this song that I thought was aesthetically pleasing. I personally don’t think the song was ‘slowed’ to be seductive, though I am confident that these guys can pull off a concept of that type. Instead, the slowness drives the song. I liked how the beat is accented in this song, make it even more powerful. The vocals are dragged out, but in a way that works with the rest of the song and doesn’t feel unnecessary. The rapping is a tool used to add intensity to the song, making it even more engaging. (8.5/10)

9. Dance With Us (춤을 출 거야) – Given the title, I thought it was going to be vibrant and fun sounding. I wouldn’t say I was 100% right, but I was thinking in the same direction. What I didn’t expect was the song’s first verse to be very similar to Pentagon’s Humph!. It gave off the same vibe. The rest of the song doesn’t really sound the same, however. I did expect a little more ‘dance-centric’ or lively sound in the instrumental as the tempo may come off sluggish to some. However, I thought that the song was interesting as it is and had a SF9 profile to it. The ending was very unique, as the members kick up the tempo and give us that lively sound, I had desired. It was just short-lived. (8/10)

10. Beautiful Light – Based on my YouTube search, Beautiful Light was revealed at their concert last year. I seem to can’t find an English translation for the song. But given its position as the final track on the album, along with its performance at their previous concert, Beautiful Light is probably a track dedicated to their fans. The upbeat and happy instrumental is very upbeat and different from their usual style. There is a nice melodic ring to the song. The vocal work and rapping were also very good. Thus, ending the song on a happy tone. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

First Collection Teaser Image

[Album Review] Treasure Epilogue: Action To Answer (4th Mini Album) – ATEEZ

ATEEZ returned at the start of last week with Answer and a surprising continuation of their Treasure series. As mentioned in the song review I published last week (link below within the album review), Treasure is made up of 4 mini-albums (including this one), 1 Korean studio album and 1 Japanese studio album. Throughout this series as well, we have seen ATEEZ’s popularity grow exponentially and this latest album is bound to continue their growth into the future. The album contains an outro track as well but it will not be included in the final album rating.

Treasure Epilogue: Action To Answer Album Cover

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

2. Horizon (지평선) – All of ATEEZ’s tracks that I have grown to really enjoy (or enjoyed from the first listen) have been of an intense nature. Horizon fits in perfectly into this description, going with a strong dance instrumental that is bound to get you excited. There is this voice in the instrumental that is very yodeling-like. I thought it was a good addition to the song during the chorus, as it added an extra layer of character to the song. However, I felt that its addition at the start of the verses to be conflicting. It masks the vocals that kick off the song and makes it a tad messy. Horizon features awesome vocals and rapping as well, which makes another great addition to their discography. (8.5/10)

3. Star 117Star 117 is more of a ballad and it brings us down from the thrill of their title and preceding track. I thought it was rather soothing, with its flowy melody and touching band instrumentation. There is a little more of the instrumentation, with a rolling drum beat and electric guitars at the end to give the song that peak. Vocally, I think this is an excellent song. It shows off their vocals in a pleasant manner without going into the ‘high note’ territory. The rappers also sing in this song and I honestly can’t tell as they all sound so good. (9/10)

4. Precious Precious may be familiar to some fans as ATEEZ previously included a shortened version of the song on their studio length album, Treasure EP.FIN: All To Action. On this album, however, Precious is a full-fledged song going for almost 3 and a half minutes, featuring the same raps as the Overture track did and includes some new vocal work that we have heard yet. My previous comments regarding the instrumental and rapping (‘suspenseful and intense’, ‘on-point’ respectively) still stand. The vocals and additional rapping added to the song this time helps fill up the blank space and adds a more grounded feel to the song. (8/10)

5. Outro: Long Journey – Kicking off the entire Treasure series was the Intro: Long Journey, which started off Treasure EP 1: All To Zero. That track spoke about finding treasure and dreams. The outro is about how they found the treasure and their dreams over the course of the series. But at the same time, there is more to the story based on the line ‘Can you hear those voices?’. The ending is tweaked a little to include what fans are speculating to be a teaser to new song/release for the future.

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Treasure Epilogue: Action To Answer Teaser Image

[Review] Dear Me – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Despite not promoting her solo work in 2019, Taeyeon has managed to prove herself and her status in the industry by sweeping awards for her Four Seasons single earlier in the year. In addition to that, Taeyeon returned with Spark and her second full length album, Purpose, in November 2019. Both Spark and her album were very good and you should give them a try if you have missed out on them. But the focus should be on what happened yesterday, as the soloist returned with a repackaged version of Purpose and the new title track, Dear Me.

Dear Me is a pop ballad all about self-confidence and self-love. In this era, a song like this speaks volumes to everyone and will truly makes them feel better. You could also describe the song was warming, which would be a fitting way to see the song given its message. Apart from the message, the song features Taeyeon’s usually soothing vocals over a band and orchestral instrumentation, which I thought was quite nice. The verses seem to be quite lower register, allowing the chorus to explode in a fashionable manner that makes it seem slightly epic. I wish there was a little more to the verses, as they were the weakest moments of the song. The melody for the English lyrics during the chorus was quite cool, being one of the highlights of the song. I think the best highlight has to be the buildup during the bridge, leading to the final chorus. The song coincidentally needed a ‘spark’ and it got one in that moment. I don’t think Dear Me will be described as Taeyeon’s best song ever. But it is a really good one, if you were to ask me.

The music video is rather simple, made up of shots of Taeyeon walking around and sitting in a built set. I think the simplicity works well with the song. The song isn’t complicated and wouldn’t call for a video chock full of symbolism, a crazy colour palette or flashy lights. It is another video that highlights her beauty in a more natural sense, which also would make sense with a song about self love. I just feel that watching the video too many times would make it come off as dull, which is always a problem with these types of music videos.

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

[Review] TOP GANG – MCND

TOP Entertainment has their fair share of male groups (Teen Top and UP10TION). But interestingly, none of their current lineup have delved into the hip hop genre that many male groups have been tackling. However, it seems that MCND is going to TOP Entertainment’s answer to this. The soon-to-be six member group made their pre-debut on the 2nd of January with a five member lineup (Castle J, BIC, Minjae, Huijun, and Win), with the sixth apparent member being Yechan (who currently is promoting as part of the project group 1THE9). No actual debut date has been set yet.

The group pre-debuts with TOP GANG, which is a track that has a heavy hand in the hip-hop genre. As mentioned on Monday through Zico’s review, this is not my cup of tea. It is loaded with raps and feels extremely weighted, which isn’t my personal style. But the rapping does have some momentum to with it, which drives the song forward in a neat manner. The song is no doubt a good introduction to the group’s rap line. After all, a lot of the hip-hop centric tracks tend show rappers in a strong, vigorous and tough limelight. However, their group’s current vocal line is short handed in this song, with their parts being forgotten and doesn’t even spark any curiosity about their potential. Other groups manage to find a balance in some capacity, but this track didn’t feel like it even tried. Hopefully their debut will find a little more balance between the two elements. I also wish their instrumental isn’t too typical in their debut track, which was the impression that I got in this track.

The music video starts off with some closeup that shows the members names, making it easy for new viewers and fans to identify the members (like an opening montage to some TV shows). And I think that is a great tactic when it comes to the first release of a group (rather than have rely on more physical features, such as face shape or hair colour, to determine who is who from their teaser images). For the rest of the video, there really isn’t much to it other than the members rapping and dancing along to the song. Plus some more solo closeups and group shots. There isn’t anything else that adds substance to the video to make it worth watching in my opinion.

One good thing about the performance that I noticed was that it gave some of the members an opportunity to perform without the other members in the background. I think this is a good way to be fair to all the members, especially after the unbalance nature of the song. The song also seems challenging to perform on stage, since it requires a lot of energy to rap and dance together in such a powerful manner like what they did. So props to them.

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

[Album Review] Solo Day (5th Mini Album) – B1A4

The first Past Album Review (PARs) of 2020 goes to B1A4. I thought I revisit them as it has been a while since we have heard from them (they are another group to have hit the age of military enlistment and are currently inactive due to this). The album chosen is Solo Day, which was released in 2014 (July 14th, 2014 to be exact). It featured the title track of the same name and 5 other songs (two of which are standout tracks, in my opinion). To see what they are, scroll down below.

Solo Day Album Cover

1. Solo Day (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Solo Day. (9/10)

2. You Make Me A Fool ( 내가 뭐가돼) – What really stood out to me in 2014 and what still stands out to me today with You Make A Fool (hereafter Fool) is the casual vibes. The lighthearted nature of the guitar strumming and refreshing tone that their vocals and rapping bring to the song really make it a nice sound. It is easy on the ears and I liked how they managed to get everything mould over the simple instrumentation that the song has. Fool is one of the many examples of Jinyoung’s songs that has blown me away. (10/10)

3. Are You Happy (With Him)? (잘돼가) – I liked the R&B and hip-hop infused side of this song. I think, at the time of release, B1A4 was known for more of their pop sound and energetic pieces. This is a mature side of B1A4 that sounded really good. Baro was extremely well highlighted in this song. His rapping really worked extremely well with the song, which featured a ‘golden’ instrumental feel. The other members do a good job as well, complimenting the song as well. There was good melodies and textures when it came to the singing. But Baro still managed to shine over the top. (8/10)

4. A Glass Of Water (물한잔) – This is one of the non-title tracks that I really enjoyed back when it was released. A Glass Of Water also made it onto a potential 5 Favourites post. But I cut the segment before even publishing that particular post. If I remember correctly, the song was meant to be A Glass of Soju. But as their fans were underage, it was changed to Water. It is another Summertime song that feels refreshing every time you listen to it. It is lighthearted and very B1A4-like (when it was released). The vocal and rapping was ideal and the instrumental really made it attractive to the ears. The hooks were also addictive, as well. (9/10)

5. Drive – I think out of the songs on the album, this one is most skippable. Drive does have a vibe that would suit a nice breezy drive. I liked the slightly bouncy nature of the instrumental. But it just didn’t feel different to song released by any other male group in the industry. It also didn’t peak and felt flat towards the end. The vocals did sound wholesome, while the rapping did help push the song along. But other than that, there isn’t much else to the song worth mentioning. (7/10)

6. You (ft, Sunmi)You ends the album with a surprising feature from Sunmi, who at the time only became recently active again through the release of 24 Hours, which pushed her back into the spotlight. It brings back B1A4’s mature sound and the group pairs well with Sunmi’s husky vocals. But when I listen to the song, I thought the two parties had a barrier that really prevented them from coming together neatly. There were good harmonies in the song, which I enjoyed. But I just thought they felt distinctly apart. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

Solo Day Teaser Image

[Review] Any Song – Zico

A Zico-centric Catch Up Review will be posted on a later date (to be determined – looking to be during February). This review will quick contain reviews for Human, Daredevil and Being Left, which are tracks that the solo rapper released in late 2019 that I have yet to cover. In the meantime, I present to you my review for his latest single, Any Song, which was released today. Zico has also brought in Chungha and Hwasa from Mamamoo to help promote the track through small videos of them dancing to the song on social media recently.

Any Song is actually a pretty decent song. As mentioned before on the blog, I am not a fan of the hip-hop or rap genre. But over the years, I have been introduced to songs of these two genres, opening my mind up to a new genre entirely. One name that does keep on popping up is Zico and I think I have been satisfied with all the songs released by Zico in the past. What I really like about this song is that it is pretty laid back. It doesn’t get heavy in any department, keeping it relatively calming (which is perfect for me in many ways). I also like the jazzy elevator music that he uses as the backdrop of the song. I thought that was quite cool and gives the song a unique character. He pushes the song along neatly through his rapping delivery (as expected from Zico), which has good melody as well. His rapping and the use of saxophones also helps lift up the instrumental vibrantly, keeping it from going boring. The energy of the track is fun, whilst the lyrics do hint at the opposite (i.e. toning the fun down) after a while. Overall, a good song indeed.

Zico channels me in any party situation. It has gotten to the point where I don’t get invited to any more parties as my friends know I won’t have any fun (that or I am the one that is no fun, but I tend to think optimistically). Hahahaha… I really liked how they added more people to the party to really highlight the introverted feeling that he had at the start already. I also found it funny how he danced alone at the end and ran when his friends started to sing Happy Birthday to him. I probably won’t go to that length if I were to continue comparing him to me. But I thought it was hilarious nonetheless.

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

[Album Review] The ReVe Festival: Finale (3rd Studio Album) – Red Velvet

Red Velvet made their comeback with Psycho and their third studio album at the end of 2019. Unfortunately, it was not part of the 2019 album review lineup due to its late release and hence it becomes the first album review to be released in 2020 (which obviously is occurring today). This studio album features 4 new tracks (including the title track, Psycho) and all the tracks that was part of the ReVe Festival series (to be linked within the review). These will not contribute to the final rating, however. In other related news, Red Velvet is no longer promoting Psycho due to the injuries that Wendy sustained during the 2019 SBS Music Festival rehearsal.

The ReVe Festival: Finale Album Cover

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

2. In & Out – Red Velvet delves into R&B pop for this track. To me, the track felt like if a song from the group’s Red side was remade for their Velvet side, with the song feeling and sounding like it was polished and refined. There is a smoothness to the track, which I thought was very cool. I really like the heavy beat that features in the instrumental, followed by the trap sounds that really give the song some character. I thought the group’s execution of their vocal and rapping were top notch and worthy of a listen. As for the lyrics, the song portrays an on and off again relationship that they are experiencing. (8/10)

3. Remember Forever Remember Forever is a pop ballad that is bound to get you swaying along to the music. I really like that flowy side of the song, which really makes the song appealing to me. There is a grand nature to the song, which really made it feel extra special. I also enjoy how they incorporated some rapping. Usually, I wouldn’t be a fan of this tactic. But it worked really well this time around. Finally, I really enjoyed the harmonies that all the members contributed to at the end by singing together, bringing the series to a close in an inclusive and warm manner. (9/10)

To read the album review for The ReVe Festival: Day 1 (Sunny Side Up, Milkshake, Bing Bing, Parade & LP), click here. For the full review for Zimzalabim, click here.

To read the full album review for The ReVe Festival: Day 2 (Carpool, Love Is The Way, Jumpin’, Ladies Night & Eyes Locked, Hands Locked), click here. For the full review for Umpah Umpah, click here.

16. La Rouge – A special track included at the very end of the third studio album is La Rouge. La Rouge is actually the name of their recent concert and the track itself was also performed at the concert. I thought the instrumental was very ear-catching, going with that 1930s sound in modern way. The upbeat chorus also made the song appealing. Vocally, the members sound very sensual and different from their past tracks/styles (referring to both their Red and Velvet side that we have heard so far). It is a pity that this is a bonus track, as I would love to see more live performances of this track. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

The ReVe Festival: Finale Teaser Image