After Mark left the group as he was ‘of age’ at the end of 2018, NCT Dream disappeared from the radar. SM Entertainment primarily focused on NCT 127 for the first half of 2019, which was disappointing for fans of the younger subunit. But that was changed last month when NCT Dream (excluding Haechan) collaborated with HRVY for the SM Station release, Don’t Need Your Love (which I have continued to enjoy since reviewing it). And today, the young subunit (including Haechan) made their official comeback with Boom, their first since We Go Up and Candlelight (Both releases still featured Mark as a member).
The teasers for Boom were very suspenseful, which lead me to have high expectations for this track. And boy, does NCT Dream fulfil these expectations. The last time we got an edgy sound from NCT Dream to this extent was through their Go promotions. But I wasn’t much of a fan of that song. Boom, on the other hand, sounds more refined and stylish. The vocals and rapping give me flashback to their We Go Up hip-hop style, which I thought was very nice. I thought the chorus was very cool with the ‘Boom Boom Boom‘ repetition. I just wanted more too the song in terms of instrumentation. Here, everything was very subtle in nature. With a title Boom, you would expect that things would become explosive. But everything felt like it was toned down. A better way of describing it was that the song was kept in ‘low bass’ gear. But other than that, Boom was a pretty cool track and sone I can absolutely see dominate my phone while I am out and about.
The music video went straight for that edgy vibe, shifting away from that carefree vibe we got from We Go Up or anything youthful the subunit used to release. Visually, I thought the video was quite good. The members looked nice. The sets really felt appropriate, even though they don’t necessarily go with one another. It seems like the majority of the music video was shot with Haechan still busy with his NCT 127 promotions overseas, which was fair. He did join in towards the end of the music video, which is a good thing (rather than omitting him entirely). But why didn’t SM Entertainment wait that extra week or until schedules clear up to allow Haechan to film alongside the rest of the group. I thought his absence was meant to be part of the plotline but rewatching the video, it didn’t really seem so. They just added him randomly to the group/choreography shots at the end.
The choreography here is awesome. The chorus, in particular, looked very cool, matching the sleek and stylish atmosphere present in the song. I did think the choreography was slow at first. But I think after watching the performance a few times, the slowness felt intentional. But I really liked how they kicked the intensity up a notch for the end, bring the performance to an explosive energised end.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.2/10
The second solo debut today has been a long time coming. But finally, Kang Daniel has returned to the stage with What Are You Up To and his first mini-album, Color On Me. It has been a choppy few months for Kang Daniel, who left his LM Entertainment after nullifying his contract with said management. After the courts ruled in his favour, Kang Daniel established his own agency (Konnect Entertainment). But his debut was further delayed after LM Entertainment decided to appeal, which LM later lost, allowing the popular solo artist to return to the industry via his own agency. This also makes Kang Daniel the final member of Wanna One to relaunch their careers after the disbandment of the group earlier this year.
But we are here for the review, aren’t we? For some reason, I expected something a little more intense from the artist. So, my first impressions of the track were not that positive. However, while writing this review, I am warming up to it a fair bit. What Are You Up To is a synth-pop track and its biggest weapon was pace. I found the instrumental to be perfectly paced. It didn’t get right to the point, opting for some suspense building. I find this very cool, especially since the song opted to stay very neutral overall. I really like the loud metallic banging that could be heard during the chorus. That really amped up the intensity for me. While it is a dance track. it falls towards the pleasant side of the spectrum, which is another intriguing aspect. His dance break sounded quite trendy and sleek. Kang Daniel’s vocals are great and I like how he used autotune to help prevent his song sounding monotone and prevent repetition. I think the only thing that could have been added was a rap sequence. Doesn’t have to be done by Kang Daniel but I felt it was missing that extra oomph.
The song is about yearning to catch up with one’s lover. And the video shows that I think. Kang Daniel starts off bored, wanting to meet with his lover. We see him attempt to reach for his lover through many mechanisms but is unable to get through. It is definitely nice to see the familiar face again. Besides Kang Daniel’s visuals, I find the music video to have a nice pastel colour palette. Overall, things looked cool and visually appealing.
At this stage, there doesn’t seem like there will be promotions. However, his agency and the broadcasting companies are still actively discussing promotions. It will be a total miss opportunity to not bring him on board, especially with his fanbase and popularity. I thought the choreography showcased a lot of Daniel’s dance skills, appropriate for the song. The dance break and the pre-chorus routines have to be my pick for the best parts.
Song – 8.5/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.5/10
There are two solo debuts today to cover. The first is by Woosung, the leader and lead vocalist of The Rose. We last saw Woosung through The Rose’s promotions for She’s In The Rain last year. As this is a solo debut, it will be interesting to see what music Woosung will release, given that his band does tend to go for a unique sound in KPOP already. When I saw his teasers, I thought they were very striking, lifting my expectations for the release. His solo track is titled FACE and is featured on the mini-album, WOLF.
I described the teaser images as striking. And that is the very same word that I would use to describe the song. It is a bold track, without the epic flairs and extremely upbeat atmosphere. Instead, he uses a very minimalistic yet groovy instrumentation that really highlights his vocal work. His vocals are husky and raspy throughout and the best way to really showcase these qualities is if there was no music at all. It wouldn’t be too much fo a song that way, so a minimalistic instrumental would be the next best option. I also really like how punchy the vocals are. The ‘I like your face‘ line in the chorus is a great example of this. And by being punchy, it helps with the memorable side of it. Overall, I think the better way of describing the song is that it is smart. Woosung, who composed and produced the track, played towards his strengths well.
The song carries a simple message: that regardless of a person’s face, they deserve respect. Which makes total sense, given that Woosung is declaring his love for your face. The music video features a number of people, with close up of their faces and other body parts that he references during the music video. And I like how he didn’t use your typical models. I find Woosung to be quite alluring in this video. But I think my favourite shots of him has to be during those darkened scenes, where it seems like he is on a high because of the faces. It is a bit intriguing both visually and metaphorically.
There weren’t any choreography scenes in the music video and there hasn’t been a showcase video uploaded (if there was one in the first place). So I guess we have to see what the stage performance looks like when it comes to the promotions (if he does go on a promotional run for this release).
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9.4/10
Idol groups and artists are usually brought on board to model a brand or product in the industry. I don’t usually focus on these songs because their lyrics tend to be cheesy and the entire music video is literally a product placement gold mine. However, I do make some exceptions. The most recent one would have to be the Pepsi and Starship Entertainment collaboration (Eunha & Ravi, Ong Seong Woo, Hongbin & Hyungwon) from this year. Another group that I will be adding to this list is Mamamoo, who has released the single Gleam today to help promote Davich Bibiem.
The consensus with comments on YouTube is that Gleam manages to come off as a well-polished single that suits Mamamoo on stage. I completely agree. While the track doesn’t have that powerhouse vocal vibe to the song, I find the track to showcase a very stylish sound for the group. It is a pop track, a genre that practically every group has touched upon during their careers (well, it is after all KPOP). So the instrumental isn’t that special sounding. Rather typical, if I were to describe it. But with Mamamoo’s vocals, they end up making this very traditional genre stand out, fitting for their discography. The chorus is quite upbeat, while the verses are a little more contemporary. I really liked the melody in the chorus, which ended up being decently catchy. Moonbyul’s rap gives the song that little extra kick. And altogether, you have a great CF track that manages to double up as a possible promotional single on stage.
Davich Bibiem is actually a sunglasses brand. So it makes sense that the music video heavily features glasses of all assortments throughout the video. The girls don them in a bowling alley and end up having fun wearing said glasses throughout the video. I find the bowling alley (along with their outfits) highlighting that stylish factor that I mentioned as part of the song review. In this review, I will be combining the choreography section with the music video (as we most likely will not be seeing any stages for this track). There is a bit of dancing in the video, which looks very good. Nothing too extreme or crazy, because it is a CF after all. But definitely, a routine that I wouldn’t mind seeing on stage.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10
There was one other comeback from yesterday I couldn’t cover due to tiredness. So, I will kick off my review night with that release! VAV has returned with Give Me More, a Summer single, which features De La Ghetto (an American artist) & Play-N-Skillz (a producer duo). This is the group’s first comeback since Thrilla Killa, which was released back in March of this year. This is also the group’s first comeback as a seven-member group since Jacob has returned from his other schedules that prevented him from participating in their past few comebacks.
Give Me More delves back into the Latin flair that the group visited through their Senorita comeback from last year. Just Give Me More opts for a tropical Summer flavour alongside the Latin flair. Aside from being appropriate for this season, the song doesn’t have much individuality. It becomes quite generic. It went with two complimenting styles that have been done so much in the industry. Furthermore, I felt the song could have been picked up more to become a little more impactful with its sound. That could have helped the song a tad bit. The song did have some hooks that were decently catchy but nothing that really sounds memorable. The song also had lacklustre energy levels, which contributed to that generic feeling. The vocals and rapping were good. But once again, I think they could have been a little more dynamic. I think the most interesting part of the tracks were Da La Ghetto’s featuring and that was mainly because I was unfamiliar with the artist.
The music video was a little more captivating. It too had that generic Summer vibe to it. But its something that you can’t really do differently in a visual sense. A sunny day at the beach is a sunny day at the beach. You can’t really change the beach or the sun into something better. It will just lose the effect. I really like their aerial shots and the camera work really captured the best shots possible for the choreography and outdoor scenes. I found it interesting that they went into the studio for some shots. I thought they added another level of depth into the video and made things a little more interesting, instead of relying just on the already nice looking outdoor shots.
I think the best part of this comeback is their choreography. I find the song takes its time to implement a decent beat, so the choreography seems to follow this path. I really like the movement they do when they span out. It looks fun and interesting.
Song – 6/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7/10
It is time to look closely at a new debuting group! CIX (Complete In X) is a 5-member male group debuting under C9 Entertainment, consisting of Lee Byoung-gon, Kim Seung-hun, Kim Yong-hee, Bae Jin-young and Yoon Hyun-suk. Several of the members are familiar faces we have seen previously throughout the industry. I think the majority of fans will recognise Bae Jin Young, who is a former member of Wanna One (and made his solo debut a few months back). Byoung-gon and Seung-hun were previously on YG Treasure Box but failed to join the lineup of Treasure13 (another upcoming group). They made their debut today with Movie Star.
Two words that I have been using often to describe songs this year is smooth and sleek. Both these words are great descriptions for Movie Star. But I think an even better description is that the song is rather seductive. The way Jinyoung started off the song with his deep voice was very appealing. It is a side of him that we have yet to see, so there is an intriguing side to it. The rest of the song falls in place quite nicely. The song builds up in aesthetics with its rather typical sounding dance instrumental. But there are some small details within the instrumental that draw my attention. The vocals take a soft approach, which I think compliments the seductive and aesthetic nature of the song. Even the melody does the exact same thing. The rapping adds that dynamic touch (its that other word I word too often) that feels like ‘icing on the cake’. I really like the outro, which really draws the song to a close in a fitting fashion for fans who want to listen to just that tiny bit more.
The music video takes what I mentioned above on board and manage to transform it into a very appealing visual aid for the song. Each member is quite handsome, so the music video already has that box ticked. Somehow Jinyoung makes a jumper with many holes in it look fashionable, proving my point. The music video sets look really cool. And with the different camera angles, the video shines quite cool. I really like the use of white and black in the video, along with that one dominant colour when it comes to coloured lighting in the video. I find this is very stylish and modern.
The choreography also encapsulates what is said above. The moves play on that seductive nature of the song. But it keeps it relatively simple, which matches the more aesthetic nature. You don’t need bold moves to really show off style and this proves just that. Well played by CIX and their choreographers.
Song – 9.5/10 Music Video – 10/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9.6/10
GWSN is one of those girl groups that you know has so much potential. It hurts me to know that there are people missing out on their talent. Their last comeback, Pinky Star (Run), showed it all with a catchy song, an amazing concept for this music video and a choreography routine that was so different to everyone else’s. And today, the girl group from Kiwi Pop returns with a brand new track, Red Sun (021). Let’s see if the group can repeat the same effect their previous comeback had.
Red Sun features house-based instrumentation and wooden xylophone-like percussion, very similar to Pinky Star. It concerned for a little bit that they were gonna ‘clone’ their previous comeback track. However, as we get further into the song, it starts to change. The song featured a complete slow down for the pre-chorus and a heavier EDM drop for the chorus. This alone changed the atmosphere completely, allowing for the distinct differentiation between the two title tracks. I also found the rapping in this song to feature a hip-hop instrumental backing, which made the rapping even more powerful. The vocals were also quite good. I find it quite interesting that they managed to use the exact vocal sound for all their songs thus far. I think the decent hooks and melody in the track were the weakest point. They aren’t automatically ear-catching like Pinky Star. But given the dynamic nature of the instrumental, I think a few extra listens will be enough to engrave this song into my mind alongside its predecessor.
The group continues their puzzling music video concept with this one. I am in no way capable of determining the storyline behind this video. But my biggest guess thus far is that this is somehow connected with the music video for Pinky Star (and possibly Puzzle Moon as they are all part of one album series). The main reason why I think this is that the tree growing in the book in this video resembles the white tree that we observe in the Pinky Star music video. The way the video came was shot gave me similar vibes (which I enjoyed). I am also reading elsewhere that the video shows the members coming together again, signifying that they will be departing from this concept as a group and will return as a group with a new concept. There seems to be a little more to the story than that and I would love to hear some interpretations.
The group moves around a fair bit. But observing their performance, I saw them snap back into their right positions and move in sync with one another. While this is now an ordinary thing in KPOP, I still think this is a cool aspect that some groups just cannot show in their dances or achieve. So it is definitely worth mentioning. On top of that, I found their formations to be very unique throughout the performance, all contributing to a captivating stage.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.7/10
For the past few weeks, I have been alternating between female artist/group and male artist/group for these PARs. Mainly so that I am giving the female artists some love as I am starting to think I am neglecting their more recent albums. Hopefully, this makes up for it. On top of that, I will be revisiting groups that have disbanded or are on hiatus. For instance, this week I will be looking at Sistar’s second mini-album, Touch N Move, which was released back in 2014. It featured their popular Touch My Body as the title track. Let’s go and have a trip down memory lane.
1..Wow (Intro Track) – Opening the album is an R&B number that feels suitable for the Summer season. I did find it is a little unconventional as the song’s pace is a little slower than what you would expect but the elements of the instrumental really give it that Summer vibe. The only member to feature in this track is Hyolyn herself (not surprised). But her vocals were quite nice. Pity that we didn’t hear any of the other members. (7/10)
2. Touch My Body (Title Track) – Originally, I gave the track a 2/10. I have to admit that the song wasn’t to my taste for a while and it wasn’t until one or two years ago did I really start to enjoy it. What changed? Well, the song became quite catchy after many listen and the dance became very memorable. I am sorry I doubted the Summer Queens. As a result, I have decided to bump the rating to 8/10. Click here to read the original review for Touch My Body. (8/10)
3. Naughty Hands (나쁜손) (ft. Verbal Jint) – What I think the song manages to accomplish is bringing out the husky and raspy nature of each member’s voice. And the dominance of this type of vocals really makes the song feel polished and smooth. The instrumental is upbeat and reflects the Summer season well. The lyrics ask a guy to slow down by telling him to put his hands away. The song could have been fine back 5 or more years ago. But now, I think the lyrics would spark a political debate nowadays. But we are here to review the song only and not get into a political debate. Song-wise, I really enjoyed it. (8/10)
4. But I Love You – But I Love You started off as a ballad. But the song built up to become a decent pop track. And I really liked how they approached this. The verses felt very loaded with emotions, which made the chorus sound somewhat explosive as a result. While their vocal work wasn’t exactly the best on the album, this approach really made the song pop. Bora, who I have yet to mention on this review, did well with her rap sequence. Though, I wished she was given more parts in some of these songs. This could have used another moody rap sequence from Bora, wrapping up the song neatly (and not repetitively). (7.5/10)
5. OK GO! – My favourite track on the album is OK GO!. I loved it when it was first released and had to question why they chose Touch My Body over this amazing track, though this thought has now interestingly vanished. I really like its consistent and repetitive nature, something that I often do not enjoy. The rapping that featured during the rap, the explosive instrumental, the touch from the autotune all made the track stand out for me. The hooks are amazing, and I found the song very easy to follow. (10/10)
6. Sunshine – Sunshine is a nice end to the album. It features a pleasant tune with a rather typical instrumental. It featured nice vocals from the member, with the members singing about their love for their partner. While the song was a little ordinary, the track did feel like it was suitable as an OST for some romantic drama which we all know Korea for. It was also rather fitting for Summer, which ended up being one of the few drawing points of the song. (7/10)
I really hate to be a broken record with the way I start off these reviews. But we have seen a lot of EXO lately. Just not as a group. Instead, EXO has been promoting continuously as stand-alone members, making their solo debuts and releasing special singles before enlisting into the military. However, today we enter very exciting territory, with the debut of a brand new subunit from the group. Consisting of Chanyeol and Sehun, EXO-SC makes their debut with What A Life. The pair have previously come together for the SM Station release, We Young, back in 2018.
What A Life delves into the hip-hop genre, the genre which heavily uses rapping in its songs. It is a pretty laidback and loose track, whilst other hip-hop tracks tend to be more hard-hitting and heavy. So I guess there is some potential in the track. But that potential isn’t referenced in any other part of the track. The instrumental is probably one of the most uneventful ones I have ever heard in KPOP. They just used the same synthetic xylophone synth thing over and over again. It just got really dry quickly. The rapping and vocals felt quite monotone. I had expected there to be some sort of change-up or development. But as the instrumental kept on going, the vocals and rapping just didn’t deviate from that tone. The song also didn’t have much of a hook. The main repetition of What A Life during the chorus was lacklustre. Put all of these elements together and you get the What A Life package. Maybe the song will grow on me if I was to remain hopeful. But as I continuously replay the song to write this review, I am growing more tired of it.
I am personally going to say the exact same thing regarding the music video. It is also a very dry video. It looked like a few things were thrown together to make what seems to be a ‘potential hip-hop music video’. Just the way these things were utilised in the video looked very dreary and uneventful. The models throughout the video don’t add to the video’s content. The sets just acted like backdrops chosen randomly. I also didn’t feel the hazy camera filter they had on, which made very look gloomy.
I can’t find a proper live performance for the comeback yet (i.e. showcase). However, EXO-SC did perform the track at the recent EXO concert (over the weekend). Not much dancing from the duo, who focused on the live aspect of the performance. Fair enough. In the music video, there seemed to be a little more choreography, which I think looked good. So I guess we have to see what the music shows will look like.
Song – 4/10 Music Video – 5/10 Performance – 5/10 [Will comeback to update. I promise!!] Overall Rating – 4.5/10
Making their comeback a few weeks now is GFriend, who returned at the start of July with Fever and Fever Season (their 7th mini-album). While I still stand by my comments regarding the comeback track, the group managed to score a number of wins on the weekly music shows with Fever since their return. Congratulations to the girls for these achievements. To explain why the album review is out a little later than usual, I had always planned to write an album review. Just my snap decision to focus on the solo artists bumped the review down the road. But here it is!
2. Mr. Blue – Mr. Blue opens over a dance instrumental with violins incorporated as an interesting detail. I thought they were a nice addition to the song, adding an extra dimension to the dynamics of the dance instrumental. The track is quite upbeat and the instrumental also provides the song with some intensity. The vocals were quite good, blending in well. The track does have a typical feel about it. But despite that typical feel, I think Mr. Blue had more potential as a title track, as it felt more defined and had substance. (8/10)
3. Smile (여자친구) – Smile is another upbeat dance track to join the album that evokes a smile while listening to the song. But it isn’t the dance instrumental that does that. Instead, it is the vocals that make me smile. It is both cute and playful. I really like the higher-pitched vocals during the chorus, as they consolidate these cute and playful vibes, whilst adding to the catchy nature of the song (i.e. memorability). I also really like the dance break, with the electric guitar reminding me of their earlier dance breaks they promoted with. My favourite bit is Yuju’s ‘You know what meaning’ during the bridge. It is a short moment but damn, it stole my attention. (9/10)
4. Wish (바라) – Wish takes the exact pathway as the preceding tracks. The album is now starting to look repetitive and bland with what seems to be very similar tracks. Before moving onto the negatives of the track, I wish to point out some positives. Wish has nice vocals and a decent beat. This is all good, except for one major problem. It fails to stand out. While Mr. Blue had saxophone and Smile had a very catchy hook, Wish doesn’t have anything to really lift it out of the generic category. And since the track felt very similar music-wise to the tracks before it, Wish falls behind the rest of its counterparts. (6/10)
5. Paradise – Paradise takes more of a retro approach with its instrumental, which is different to what we have heard so far. I liked the bold start and thought the verses were well-presented. The hook they started off the song with was revisited throughout the track and it was quite decent. But the track is far from perfect. The chorus felt like there was a little too much going on. There seem to be a tad too many cymbals in the mix, which ends up drowning out the delicate vocals that they went with. It is an odd pairing in my point of view, as I stress that the combination just doesn’t work. (7/10)
6. Hope (기대) – If you wanted a track that brings you nostalgia, then Hope is a pretty good track to do exactly that. The entire track gives me those girl group vibes from the 2000s to early 2011s. The track also feels highly suitable for the group, as they seem to be the benchmark of that type of girl group nowadays. The track is quite soothing at times and yet it remains upbeat for the majority of the track. I also like the vocals, which takes a page out of the typical book. But I felt the consistency of the vocals was one of the song’s strong points. The instrumental was very pop and enjoyable, due to the nostalgia factor. (7/10)
Another week has passed and we find ourselves on the tip between two weeks, so naturally, it is time to wrap up with another Weekly Chart Post. Unfortunately, I decided to drop all the reviews that I was meant to ‘catch up’ on throughout the week due to unforeseen circumstances during the week. So, if you are expecting a review for a release from June or early July, it is most likely will not be published. I restart my academic commitments this week and will need to focus on that (as it is my final semester!!!). But despite that, I will be starting on a clean slate with reviews, album reviews and special posts still coming your way!
But before we can get to all of that, we need to have a closer look at the charts for this week. DAY6’s Time Of Our Life has managed to top the charts this week, which was expected from the moment I heard the track (so many replays during the week). Me by CLC and Side Effects by Stray Kids both rose back into the Top 5 and took out the second and third position for this week. The other very addictive track of the week is KNK’s Sunset and that manages to clinch onto the fourth position. Finally, last week’s top song, RPM by SF9, rounds out this week’s Top 5. For more of the charts, scroll down below!
14th Jul – 20th Jul 2019
Time Of Our Life
I’m So Pretty
WJSN (Cosmic Girls)
Ha Sungwoon (HOTSHOT)
Don’t Need Your Love
NCT Dream & HRVY
Songs leaving the charts this week (as they have reached their 9-week limit) are:
Eclipse – GOT7
Begin Again – Kim Jae Hwan
Beautiful Days – Lovelyz
Breathe – AB6IX
EDEN – IZ
Really Really – Cherry Bullet
Superhuman – NCT 127
youknowbetter – Hyolyn
Thank you once again and I will see you all again during the week!
As I mentioned last weekend, there is one last solo album review that I want to do before going back to doing a number of group album reviews. That being said, it looks like I will be covering a few solo acts in the coming weeks (guess who!). But for today’s album review, we will be looking at Baekhyun’s R&B dominated solo album. We have seen singles from Baekhyun but this is his first album release (and hence first solo album). It is titled City Lights and features the title track, UN Village.
2. Stay Up (ft. Beenzino) – Stay Up continues both the R&B and aesthetic vibes from UN Village. It is just a lot more about passionately sleeping together than going to see the night sky on a hill. And he isn’t shy about stating that throughout the song. It is a genre style that is done very often in KPOP. But instead of feeling very typical, the song feels very elevated thanks to Baekhyun’s smooth vocals in this track. Beenzino’s featuring adds momentum to the track. It felt like he was mumbling but it added to the final product, rather than be distracting. (8/10)
3. Betcha – Changing up the momentum entirely is a more upbeat track. Betcha has this playful and childish tone to it, which I think suits Baekhyun’s personality (that I have seen through the many videos on the Internet of the artist). It seems like Betcha is more appealing to many listeners, given that it does have a simpler tune and is more approachable. There is also a cheerful note to the track, which adds onto that appeal. It catchy and I too quite like it. But it has that typicalness to it that wouldn’t go 100% well as a title track. In fact, UN Village stands out to me more due to its uniqueness. (8.5/10)
4. Ice Queen – Ice Queen reverts out attention back to the R&B side of the album, which has dominated all but one track on the album. There is a flowy feel to it, which gives it a nice relaxing sound. In addition to that flowy feel, I found the way he sang the song to be interesting. Think of it like a cup that is filled to the brim. If you add more, it will overfill. The lyrics when he sang felt like it was spilling down the sides of the imaginary cup. But the song didn’t feel loaded with ‘too much’ vocals or lyrics, which was why I found it interesting. (8/10)
5. Diamond – Still on the R&B style, Diamond manages to change things up slightly by adding a more upbeat pop tone to it. And I think this addition makes the song sound a lot more appealing. His vocals shine in this son as he manages to show a variety of vocal techniques throughout the song. I really like his falsettos in this song and the harmonies that he manages to do with the backing vocals make this song an uber smooth song. I know these are points I have mentioned under the other songs. But Diamond manages to present these in another way that makes it worth mentioning again. (9/10)
6. Psycho – Ending the album is surprisingly not another R&B track. Actually, I am not sure exactly what genre this song would be under. Psycho has a mixture of different genres. Some R&B was heard in the verses, but the chorus went with an EDM route that gave it a crashing tone. The song is eerie and unlike any other on the album. It felt like the perfect song for a very intense moment during a thriller or action movie, which is very much my style. His vocals also share a similar description and felt like it was drawn out to match the crashing effect of the chorus. Overall, an amazing end to the album. (10/10)
This season SM STATION has made some changes which I think makes the program a little more interesting. Firstly, they have been delivering us new tracks on a fortnightly basis as opposed to their previously weekly timetable. Secondly, the focus seems to be more on SM Entertainment artists with many solo releases from EXO members in the past few months. But today, we do not see the release of an EXO-related single. Instead, it is NCT-related, with leader Taeyong releasing Long Flight for this week’s SM Station track.
Taeyong is one of the many versatile members of the NCT. He can sing, dance and rap, becoming a leading triple threat within the group. Long Flight‘s release attempts to demonstrate all of these in their utmost glory. Long Flight is an upbeat R&B track. And as much I want Taeyong to shine (as NCT and its subunits have far too many members to let every individual member be ‘showcased’), I find Long Flight to not 100% encompass all of this talent. I understand this song is self-composed and written by the man himself. But I think the sound was a little too typical for the music industry nowadays. I found the hooks (both lyrically and instrumentally) to be quite weak, not giving the song a chance to be memorable. But Taeyong’s execution of the singing and rapping was very good. I liked how he effortlessly went between singing and rapping, which does demonstrate his potential. That was probably the most impressive aspect of the track. Other than that, Long Flight isn’t the song for me.
What I did like was the music video. It felt like the music video got a decent budget, which isn’t always the same feeling when we look at other SM Station releases. The aeroplane set looked pretty cool. It kind of gives you an insight into show business. The outside did look like a real plane but the inside showed it was a built set. I guess that makes sense, especially since booking an aeroplane for a music video shoot would be costly. The rest of the sets looked cool as well. I also liked the colour palette. Not too pale but not too bold as well.
Song – 6/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 6.8/10
Making their grand return today is Pentagon with Humph!. This is the group’s first comeback since Sha La La, which was released back in March of this year. Humph! is produced by Giriboy and Pentagon’s resident song producer, Hui. It is also another comeback to not feature Yanan (the first time around was for their Naughty Boypromotions), who was announced to be taking a break from promotions due to health issues. In more happier news, the comeback sees the return of Kino, who sat out of the last one due to an injury.
I have noticed that ever since finding success through their Shine promotions, all of Pentagon’s title tracks have been leaning towards a more carefree and easy-going vibe. This is isn’t a bad thing. Actually, despite going with these common vibes, the songs have managed to sound different each time, showcasing the group’s variety. This time around, Humph! delves a melodic form of hip-hop. It makes the song smooth and very flowy, which always earn great ticks from me. The singing and rapping made the song feel very warm and bright, making it fit the current season perfectly. I also liked the upbeatness in the instrumentation, especially the woody flutes sound at the start (though I think they are more synths in the song). Together with the hooks, the song becomes quite memorable and catchy. And I totally see this track growing to an addictive level with a few more listens!
Reading the lyrics, I feel like it was well presented visually. Officially, the song is about pretending to not like someone, as a childish pastime (this piece of information was taken from Soompi). Something we can all relate to. And we see that between Wooseok and Hui (who started off as kids) and drew a physical line on their table to separate themselves. And even as high school students, the two still act like a war was declared when something of the other person slipped onto the other side. There are also some playful representations of rejecting someone from being part of a club due to a physical aspect (in this video, it is the member’s heights that come under attack) and ‘off-limits’ is shown via the Hongseok ‘painting’. (That last one made me laugh, especially when Hongseok had to physically remove Kino’s arm). Overall, a very cool video in my opinion.
I thought the performance looked very good. I really like the start of the performance, with the use of hand gestures. The lyrics give off a childish atmosphere and I thought they displayed that well in the performance through that one move where it looked like they were throwing a tantrum. The choreography for the chorus also had a similar vibe, with the stomping of the foot and the X gesture they make with their arms.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.5/10
Due to the many songs on this album, this post is quite lengthy. You have been warned.
BTS is undeniably on the very top of the world due to their explosive global popularity. And this popularity grows with every new release. However, I do prefer more of their older releases. One of them has to be the album series that started off cementing their popularity domestically by earning them their first wins in South Korea through the weekly music shows. This album series, The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, is made up of three different releases. The first is Part 1 (their 3rd mini-album, released on April 2015), Part 2 (their 4th mini-album, released on December 2015) and Young Forever (their first compilation album consisting of the songs from the two previous mini-albums, along with 3 others and this was released on April 2016). Let’s have a quick look back on these releases.
1..The Most Beautiful Moment in Life (Intro Track) (Intro: 화양연화) – Opening up the compilation album and 3rd mini-album is this introductory track. Suga takes the reins of the track, being the only member to actually be in the track. His rapping is phenomenal. The breathing that fades in tells you to expect something that will blow you away and the breathing that fades out is literally me after listening to the song. A lot of deepness in his lyrics as well. (9/10)
3. Hold Me Tight (잡아줘) – Included on their 3rd mini-album, I am sure this type of track would have excited fans and listeners back when it was released in 2015. Listening to now, it seems like a very typical R&B track for BTS. There was a great display of vocals, especially towards the end. Their rapping was toned down to fit the more soothing nature of the instrumentation. I did think that this was a great track to follow up the I Need You title track, as it keeps some of the previous vibes but channelled it through to a slightly slower and paced track. (7.5/10)
4. Autumn Leaves (고엽) – Included on their 4th mini-album, Autumn Leaves was produced by Suga. This comes by no surprise as listening to all the members on the track, Suga fits in perfectly. Apart from Suga, the vocal line sound exceptional in this song. I also like the analogy that is made in this song. The members are like Autumn Leaves when they are trying to hold onto their lover. They do not want to fall but they will eventually. The instrumental was probably the most boring part of the track, as it feels very BTS now. (7/10)
7. Ma City – Featured on the 4th mini-album, Ma City was an upbeat addition to really bring up the energy. The tracks that are on the 4th mini-album/this album has been very depressing or serious. So, some light is much appreciated. The song references several Korean cities including Ilsan, Busan, Gwangju, Daegu (which I am sure are the member’s hometowns). The pride they have is showcased effortlessly in this catchy track. As it stood out on its original/this album, I thought the track was quite infectious as well. (8/10)
8. Crow-Tit (뱁새) – One of the standout tracks from the 4th mini-album was Crow-Tit. The track is heavily doused in the hip-hop genre, which I think it totally up BTS alley. I remember not being much a fan of the track for the same reason. Now that I have reviewed several tracks of a similar nature, I see the appealing side of Crow-Tit, just not to the same extent as long-time fans. The energy and its message about double standards for the way the younger generation is perceived are also quite memorable. (7.5/10)
9. Dope (쩔어) – While writing these PARs, I revisit my past reviews to see how my thoughts about the song have changed. While I don’t increase the score of a song that is already ranking quite high, I have decided to make an exception for Dope, which has become one of my favourite BTS songs ever. Therefore, I have changed the 9/10 to 10/10. Click here to read the original review for Dope.(10/10)
12. Epilogue: Young Forever – This is one of the new releases featured on the compilation album. It also got a lot of fanfare as it was released as a pre-release track with its own music video. The track is standard for the group, but I think the vocals and raps (one of their best efforts yet) lifts the entire song to a whole new level. Even before pressing play, I can hear the echo of the line ‘Forever, we are young’ in the back of mind, showcasing to me the song’s longevity in my own books. While I never wrote a review for this track, it has continued to blow me away after 3 years. (9.5/10)
(Note Track 5 is a Prologue Version of Butterfly. Due to the length of this post, I have only elected to review the original form of Butterfly.)
1. Converse High – The praises for the shoes in this song is quite high. While the focus should be on the girl wearing the shoes, Converse High does a pretty good job at promoting the footwear instead. The track is a nice song. But to me, it is a step away from their usual stuff as it is quite bright and very neutral. And because of its neutral gearing, I find the track to be quite a bore. Nonetheless, it is still good in some respects but not their best. More of a filler track for me. (7/10)
2. Moving On (이사) – Also featuring on their 3rd mini-album, I find Moving On to be more BTS appropriate and interesting compared to Converse High. I think the track brings out the best of the vocal line. Each vocalist sound so smooth in the track. In conjunction with the melody, I find the song to be very memorable. I also like how nice the instrumental sound. It is soft at times when it is needed to be and gives off a pleasant atmosphere overall. (8/10)
3. Whalien 52 – The song is about a whale who could sing but no other whale could hear its voice. The poor whale becomes lonely, as no other whale wants to be around the one who supposedly can’t sing. Yet, the lonely whale continues to sing until it is heard. Perseverance and persistence, that is the message of this song. And BTS portrays in a nice track. It felt more pop-ish thanks to the upbeat vibes from the instrumental. But other than that, I found the track to be skippable. (7/10)
4. Butterfly – To me, Butterfly is one of the best ballads that I have ever heard during the many years I have listened to KPOP (I think it might be 10 years or so of KPOP for me, to put it into perspective). There is something so beautiful about this emotional track that makes me come back to the track time and time again, despite it being released 3 years ago. The vocals literally glide along and the rapping fits in perfectly. Maybe it is because BTS is known for their intense songs, that something so fragile managed to stand out from the pack. (10/10)
5. House of Cards – Formerly outro for the 4th mini-album, BTS included the entire track on the compilation album. A dream come true for those who wished that intro and outros should be a full song. Performed by the vocal line, the song opens with a very dramatic feeling. Then comes the singing (which is amazing, once again), which helps builds the suspense that we have already experienced. The song talks about love in a dramatic sense, which matches the song’s initial atmosphere perfectly. (9/10)
6. Love Is Not Over – The final song on the album (apart from the many mixes/remixes featured after this one) is Love Is Not Over, the outro for the 3rd mini-album. Like above, the full version of the R&B track is included instead. Going back to what I have said for some other tracks, this one is rather standard. Both the singing and rapping was pretty good. The melody was quite nice. It just wasn’t a standout track so I didn’t pay much attention to it. (7/10)
Track 7 to 11 are alternate versions of I Need You, Run and Butterfly.
One of the most exciting comebacks of the week is also one of the first to kick off the start of the week! DAY6 makes their official comeback with Time Of Our Life and their 5th mini-album, The Book of Us: Gravity. This is the band’s first comeback since their retro Days Gone By comeback at end of last year. In addition to news of their latest comeback, DAY6 will be going on a world tour later in the year, bring their songs to many more cities than ever before!
I have always been a fan of DAY6 more energetic and upbeat tracks. So Time Of Our Life ticks that imaginary checkbox for me. The track has an awesome rush of energy that makes the track stand out in the crowd. It is very head-banging worthy. Trust me, it is the only thing you would be doing when listening to the track. One of the best parts of the track has to be the piano introduction that opened up this rock track. It gave off an elegant vibe and opened the track on a nice note. It is repeated throughout the instrumental, so that elegance was maintained. I also found the drums to be a very prominent part of the song. Drummers don’t get a lot of fanfare from me on this blog, but Dowoon manages to stay on top of everything, allowing him and his skills to shine. In addition to the energy, the hooks of the track are very infectious. The post-chorus hook was probably my pick for the best hook in the track. I also liked that brief slow-down during the bridge. Overall, Time Of Our Life is amazing.
The music videos focus on the band playing their instruments. They also look like they are enjoying the track a fair bit, with the odd headbanging, many smiles and a lot of bouncing on the spot. I like how there is a book as a centrepiece in some of the shots, making sense with the lyrics and the title of the album. Though, I wished they somehow built upon it, as it did feel really random for a massive book to be in the video. I also liked the set they are playing in. The dome looked really cool, especially with all the lights and effects.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 9.2/10