[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

[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

[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

[Review] We Belong – Ong Seong Wu

As mentioned in Park Ji Hoon’s 360 review, all of the former Wanna One (excluding Ong Seong Wu and Lai Kuan Lin) had made two comebacks throughout 2019. With the release of Ong Seong Wu’s We Belong today, we add the soloist to the list of former members having multiple comebacks (and I am sure we will see Lai Kuan Lin’s second release someday). The main reason to why we have seen so little of Ong Seong Wu on the music front is due to his focus on his acting career. He did, however, participate in his drama’s OST.

We Belong is a fresh song, unlike Heart Sign (which reminded everyone too fondly of Energetic). We Belong has this vibrancy that I really like, thanks to the instrumentation and vocal work. The song featuring this one synth throughout that was so piercing (I cannot figure out what it sounds like though). But this is not a bad thing, as it made the song so memorable for me. In addition to that synth, the chorus is very upbeat and lively. So much that it draws me in and brings a smile to my face, even though I had no idea about the lyrics (which I think is all bout declaring his love to his significant other/fans). I also like the acoustic guitar strumming during the pre-chorus and start of each verse, as well. The other element I really like are Ong Seong Wu’s vocals. He pushes himself in this song and this makes the song sound so good. The different melodies that features definitely helps make this even more dynamic. Overall, We Belong is an awesome track and a step above his ‘debut’ track.

Ong Seong Wu opens many doors in this music video. Behind each door was a way for Ong Seong Wu to declare his love. To whom is based on how you interpret the lyrics. I really like how the producers presented him in the music video, showing off his visuals and handsomeness. To put it shortly, the video is very sweet and I think fans will really like this particular music video.

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

[Review] My Angel – B.O.Y

As mentioned in a previous post, some reviews may be posted later as I will be moving interstate for work. VERIVERY‘s review was the first to fall victim to my move and now B.O.Y is the second late review that I am rushing to complete. B.O.Y is a duo made up of Kim Kook Heon and Song Yu Vin, both of which released the single Blurry last year. Their duo name was confirmed after the release of their first single. Their comeback from two days ago, My Angel, is the first single under their new name.

When I heard that both Kim Kook Heon and Song Yu Vin would be returning with a new song, I was worried that they were going to keep the ballad side that Blurry adopted. There isn’t anything with wrong a ballad and that the genre can be be very popular if done right. Blurry just didn’t get to that level and was forgotten easily. So when I listened My Angel and heard a more EDM based sound, I became excited. In addition to the dramatic and dynamic synths that the song delivers, the track does borrow emotions from their ballad predecessor, which helps makes the song a little more epic. Their voices did give a captivating appeal to the song, which I personally like. These two elements to the song alone drew me in and got me hooked. The hooks themselves didn’t feel as memorable as you would hope with a dance track. If they managed to do something more with a little spark in this domain, the track would have really stood out. I felt the song could have used a rap sequence somewhere, to up the intensity.

The music video looks like a whole heaps of different were shots put together, with it seeming like there was very little connecting these shots together. However, my guess that this was intentional as we do see the two members come together at the end, showing that they are from two different worlds initially. Kim Kook Heon represents a wolf, while Song Yu Vin represents a horse. I personally don’t know the symbolism of these two animals, so it will be interesting to find out what this is all about. With this, I find it captivating to watch.

Another reason to why I liked the music video is the choreography shots. Like the song, the choreography put together for the duo for My Angel is extremely dynamic and fitting for the epic nature of the song. Their chemistry on stage was pretty good, as well.

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

[Review] Lay Back – VERIVERY

As mentioned last year in VERIVERY’s Tag Tag Tag review, both Gugudan and VERIVERY have big shoes to fill due to the inactivity of VIXX (as their members are approaching military enlistment age). However, it seems like Jellyfish Entertainment have under utilized them in 2019, with each of these group promoting only one song in the past year. With their debut and two other comebacks, VERIVERY has taken reign as the most active groups under the company in 2019. Despite that, however, I personally hope that Jellyfish actively pushes their two active groups in 2020 to be a better performing company. And VERIVERY’s comeback yesterday is a step in the right direction for the year ahead.

The comeback title track is titled Lay Back and I feel like this could have potentially be a unique track. It just needs a slight boost out of the ‘typical’ domain to really give it that status. The deep house genre could be a little more epic and this would have given the song what it needed. The energy that they had going in the chorus can be stepped up a notch as well. But apart from that, it was a decent track. I really like the whispering rap that featured in the second half of each verse/pre-chorus. That was quite unique and gave the song a smooth feel, contrasting with the more upbeat funky vibes that VERIVERY is widely know for and featured during the chorus. Their vocals were loud and clear, which I really like. I did not care for the rougher rap sequence during the second verse. It did feel a little cliche and added a slightly ill-fitting hip-hop infused sequence to the song when it didn’t feel necessary.

I personally think the music video has a similar vibe to their creepy hide-and-seek theme that they had going on in Tag Tag Tag. This time around, however, the group meet up with their reflections. That creepy vibe is present and I thought that made the video worth watching. The lyrics seem to be directed towards a second person, but I thought it was really clever that the director/producers made the video so that the lyrics are directed to an alter ego or their inner self. Another plus is that the group isn’t always dancing in front of a mirror, which is what I meant by reflection. Instead, the reflections ended up dancing side by side one another, which I thought was cool.

I thought the choreography was quite good. I really like the slight leg bobbing that they do at the start of the chorus. The energy that the song was channeled well throughout the choreography, making this a really good one from the group.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] Answer – ATEEZ

When you thought the Treasure series came to an end, ATEEZ throws another comeback right back at you. Today, the group returned with Answer and the album, Treasure Epilogue: Action to Answer. This is the group’s sixth installment (and possibly final – don’t quote me on that) of the Treasure series. Five of the installments were released in Korea and a sixth was released in Japan last year as well. Their previous comeback, Wonderland, occurred in November of 2019.

Another amazing song from ATEEZ. This time, however, the group pushes you further into the barrel, effectively trapping you in a deeper sound than their already quite intensive Wonderland comeback that they left us with. The song isn’t intense in the moment, in my opinion. Instead, it has that impression once you finish the song, reflecting upon the powerful energy that was exuded from the song. Answer starts off with more traditional instruments, before the hip-hop infused synths kick in. What it is interesting, is that the song manages to keep the two different sound going concurrently. I really liked the flute that was incorporated in the pre-chorus. I also liked the vocals in the song, especially how they keep on layering it on, contributing to the intensity that I have mentioned. The raps were quite powerful, but they sat more in the back-seat this time around. When I listen to the song, I cannot point out any flaws. And that, along with every other praise, earns Answer a perfect rating.

I assume that because it is one series, the music videos have to be interlinked somehow. It is a trend that is ongoing in Korea and I think it applies to ATEEZ’s Treasure series as well. This video is clearly connected to HALA HALA/Say My Name music video, as it features the members in their black hats and outfits. The other alter egos this time are the ATEEZ members in their Answer era. The start and end of the music video, showcasing the white and black masked figures seem to allude to something else. But as I am aware/from my memory, these characters never appeared in the other music videos (though they seem familiar somehow), which may suggest more is coming our way.

The choreography was definitely quite good. The hip thrusts did seem a little wild. But the rest of the choreography was definitely as intense as the song. And this is all expected from ATEEZ after the reputation they have built themselves throughout 2019.

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

[Review] Good Guy – SF9

It is always exciting to see and hear the release of a group’s very first album. Some groups are much fortunate than others, releasing their first full length album in the second year of their careers, while others have to wait a longer period. SF9 debuted in 2016 and have been releasing mini-album after mini-album. And finally after four years, the male group has finally released their first studio length album titled First Collection. An album review for that will come in the future. For now, let’s focus on their title track, Good Guy.

Listening the synths from the very first second of the song, I had flashbacks to the drip-like synths they had in Now or Never (which I still think is their best track to date). Good Guy changes it up a bit by lacing piano during the verses in the instrumental. It is another clean cut song, as a result. The song builds up nicely to a very bold chorus. I like the repetitive nature of the lyrics for the chorus, which really keys in the song into your memory bank. I also like the intensity of the chorus, which really enhances the sound and makes everything feel so much bolder. The vocal work was pretty good and the rapping really helped provided a rougher tone to the song, as most raps are made to do. What I wanted was a bolder end. Like the song is already quite bold (as I have mentioned a few times). No doubt, Good Guy is an excellent addition to SF9’s discography, sparking a little throwback whilst also remaining fresh at the same time.

The setting of the music video seems to be a men’s club for the elite or rich. Not sure what the correct term for this is because ‘men’s club’ might allude to something else. But let’s not go there. What they do in this club is pretty ordinary (darts, billiards, tennis etc.). But the setting makes feel like the activities they are doing are of the wealthy kind. To be part of this club, each member is seen wearing a gold bracelet. I was particularly wowed at the end of the video when the bracelets come together and the members are dancing under the bracelet structure. Thought that was really cool and definitely a step up from other videos from their past.

The group has gone with another masculine yet powerful choreography, which no doubt fits the group’s image. Them dressing up in suits this time was shows off a pretty elegant and sophisticated side, while their moves tell us a completely different story. Yet the two manage to merge to together so effortlessly once again.

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

[Review] Count down – TST

And the ball starts rolling with the first release of 2020. TST is one of the first artists to make their comeback in 2020. They returned today with Count down and a four member lineup (K is absent from this comeback for unknown reasons, while it is assumed that Wooyoung is still absent due to health reasons). This is also the group’s first comeback in almost a year, since Wake Up, which was released last February.

Both Wake Up and Paradise (the two songs by the group that I have reviewed) have been acknowledged with high ratings (both tracks earned 9/10 in the song department). Within a few listens, I could tell that Count down will be the third song from the group to earn that high 9/10. Count down has this smooth exterior, which makes the song exceptionally appealing. There is almost a jazzy vibe to the song, which I really like as well. Within the instrumental, the guitar seems to be versatile, used in the foreground in different manners. This made the song standout for me. Their vocal work this time around is so-so. There were some good moments, but I feel like the song could have benefited from some more interesting hooks. The rapping was limited and I wanted to hear a bit more from this department. Overall, another well deserving 9/10 song.

It seems like TST and their company have taken note from their Wake Up music video, where it was shot in a contemporary art gallery setting. For Count down, they went with a more aesthetically pleasing museum which projected art on the walls. This made the video look very elegant and really helped the song become appealing in a visual manner. I also liked how they used coloured lighting to blend the car park into the music video, matching the projections that appeared in the background during their solo and group parts.

There is a mature aura that comes from this comeback that I haven’t mentioned yet. And I feel like this particular aura was well portrayed in the performance. There is also an edgier vibe to the performance that we have yet to see from the group, which was very good. The moves, on the other hand, just felt standard and didn’t really standout.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Review] Thumbs Up – Momoland

Happy New Year!!!

Momoland has returned just before the final day of the year with Thumbs Up, which is what I am considering the final major release of the year. This is the group’s first release since I’m So Hot from earlier in the year. The group also went on to release Pinky Love in Japan. More recently however, the group had to reform into a 6-member lineup due to the departure of Yeonwoo and Taeha (and presumably Daisy) from the group.

Many people have been disappointed with the group’s reliance on brass and structure ever since Bboom Bboom. It seems like I am one of those listeners who think differently and feel that any slight twist is enough to make it feel different. I personally think Thumbs Up is amazing. It is a song full of energy and vibrancy that is definitely fitting for the celebrations within a few hours. It is a definitely a little more versatile, as I am sure I will be listening to the song due to its catchiness and addictviness in the new year and weeks to come. Sure, it does sound mainstream and could use a little kick towards to the end so it doesn’t sound too repetitive. But Momoland was literally put into the spotlight with a repetitive song. The catchy ‘Thumbs Up‘ literally has become stuck in my mind and I feel like this hook is a little more lively than their most famous track’s hook. The rapping in the second verse is usually a miss for me. But I feel like the rapping this time around is a lot cleaner and clearer. It could have been left out, but I am not too picky regarding it this time around. Overall, another great song in my opinion.

Momoland operates Momo Express in the music video. Not exactly sure of the relevance of the packaging/delivery service to the song is. Maybe the group is using the ‘well known brand’ as a way to show that they have a following and whatever they do in the business earns them attention and ‘Thumbs Up‘. After all, they manage to delivery a package to the moon. The music video is already quite colourful, but I would have loved the video to have a little more pop to it. I also felt like the dresses weren’t as fitting.

Glad that they infused the Thumbs Up action into this performance. It would be a complete mistake to forgo the action that they are singing about. The dance is simple, so I can imagine it catching on quite easily. The rest of the performance looked really nice, showing a more elegant side to the group.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.1/10

[Review] Mixtape: Gone Days – Stray Kids

Once again, Stray Kids is nominated for Best Male Group and Best Male (Group) Choreography. Miroh, Side Effects, Double Knot and Astronaut are also eligible for Best Song of 2019. To support Stray Kids, click here to vote if you haven’t before voting closes next Tuesday!

Stray Kids is currently in the midst of their Levanter promotions, as the only just recently made their comeback with the song and Clé: Levanter just earlier this month. But now, Stray Kids have made a surprise single release. Today, the group dropped their next mixtape track title as Mixtape: Gone Days (henceforth referred to as Gone Days).

Based on what I am gathering, Gone Days is a play on words with the Korean term, kkondae. It refers to a person who continually pushes outdated thoughts and expectations onto the younger generation purely based on their age and status. When you look at the lyrics of the song, it is definitely a diss track and probably is directed to someone. The song falls into the hip-hop genre and showcases the rappers in a very strong limelight. The vocals don’t get much of an opportunity to shine, mainly because their parts is so heavily doused in autotune. And given my past track record with heavy autotune, I am not much of a fan this time. I have to admit there is a nice ring to Gone Days and it might catch on in a few weeks, since there is a very bubbly atmosphere and active beat. But the heavy autotune is a very big fence to get over for me.

I am not too sure who Stray Kids is dissing in this track. But based on the music video, it seems like this person works at JYP Entertainment. After all, the horse figure in the music video is wearing a JYP Entertainment tag. I find this to be a fun video, showing the members rebelling against the horse figure in many ways. I also feel like Woojin is meant to be part of this video, based on the layout of the desks, but he was edited out due to his departure. My favourite part is Bangchan patting the horse figure, which seems like Bangchan is feeling sorry for the horse, who’s head is full of outdated thoughts and expectations.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.1/10

[Review] Take A Hike – Jiyeon (T-ARA)

A reminder that the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards voting period is still on. It will officially close 11:59 PM (AEST) on the 31st of December. So make sure you vote before then! Do so by clicking here if you haven’t voted yet!

Even though we are in the final days of 2019, comebacks are still happening and KPOP is business as usual (which wasn’t the case a few years back, with releases being scarce). Today, we see the comeback of Jiyeon, who returns with the single Take A Hike. We last saw the T-ARA member in a music context through her One Day Winter single last year.

Take A Hike, as the title may suggest, is no Winter single. It is a soft club dance track, featuring a trendy, attitude-heavy flute drop during the chorus that I am sure would be perfectly paired to a sensual and mature choreography routine. The chorus also had a nice hook to it, that I thought was both decent and simple. I thought the verses were very captivating themselves as they engaged Jiyeon’s lower vocals and raspy tone, which made the verses standout. To me, the song feels fulfilling. It is fairly bare but I think this made Take A Hike stand out. I can see how some people would call it boring though, as the bareness might lead to the thought that it is lacking in a way. But at the moment, I choose the former thought to be what I think of Take A Hike.

The music video is very intriguing. I really like the mysterious vibes she gives off during the scenes where her face is no way shown to the camera (i.e. the bedroom scene, the large hat scenes). The large hat scenes are probably my favourite out of the entire video as they do really help enhance the attitude I felt coming from the song. The way she acts when her face does appear is equally as captivating. I am not sure how to properly describe my thoughts (and I am probably overthinking it), but I feel like there is something else to those scenes rather than a simple closeup.

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

[Review] Winter Butterfly – Hyuk (VIXX)

As this is a VIXX related review, I wish to inform that Leo is nominated for Best Male Soloist in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support Leo by clicking the link here to vote for him and your other favourite artists before the 31st of December (which is in 5 days!!!).

VIXX has a relatively quiet year and it seems like this is going to be the case over the next couple of years since the members are fast approaching the age of military enlistment. Leo (Romanticism) and Ravi (Tuxedo) have remained active through solo works. And Hyuk joined them last week with the release of his first mini-album, Winter Butterfly. The title track shares the same name as the album. The mini-album also contains the handful of solo singles that Hyuk has also released throughout the year.

For those who don’t know me, I am always a sucker for the lesser known members of the group. Hyuk falls under this category as he is always under appreciated when it comes group performances. His vocals are a lot weaker than Ken or Leo, while his rapping isn’t as dynamic as Ravi. And hence solo releases tend to be blessings, showcasing what we would never get in a group setting. Winter Butterfly does just that, offer us more of Hyuk’s vocals. The rock ballad (which is one of the few styles that I tend to really enjoy) starts off soft, which compliments Hyuk’s usual style of vocals. His voice remains soft throughout the song but it builds as the instrumental develops. It somehow remains well-balanced and I really like that about the song. I like how the song doesn’t revert to the verse-chorus-verse-chorus etc. formula. I didn’t notice this at first, but it caught my attention after a while. He only reverts to the softer sound to close out the song. A fairly large section of the song is in English, which I thought he handled nicely. Overall, Winter Butterfly is extremely satisfying and I am glad that Hyuk is finally getting his moment to shine.

The music video is pretty much standard yet also makes quite sense. To compliment the song, Hyuk walks around enjoying nature and the local scenery in the music video. I feel this works well with the song, as you can get ‘lost’ with the song, which is similar to how one could get ‘lost’ while experiencing something breathtaking such as nature. I really like the brown and golden hue that the video features, which gives off a warm feeling and fits more of an Autumn setting. The snow, I guess, is incorporated to make the music video fit into ‘Winter’. But it seemed to be included post-production, as there was never any snow around him.

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

[Review] White – The Boyz

Merry Christmas again! The second Christmas related review of the day is by The Boyz, who released a Winter single titled White on the 6th of December (which was also released on the exact date that they debuted on 2 years ago). It is the group’s third release of the year, following Bloom Bloom and D.D.D. The group also made their Japanese debut with the predominately Korean track, Tattoo. However, it wasn’t all positive news this year as Hwall withdrew from the group in October.

White starts off with a sample of Feliz Navidad, one of the many songs that is blasted throughout shopping centres every Christmas (not that I am complaining…). But it soon transform into a different track, losing its Christmas carol feel. Instead, it transform into a lighthearted track that suits the festive season. The bells you associate with the season is probably the more prominent element of the song that relates the song to the Winter season. The deep brass that appears when it changes from carol into song and the post-chorus reminds me of childhood and the music that my parents used to listen, while the rest of the track (verses, chorus etc.) felt practically like a typical KPOP track. The vocal work is pretty standard but I think them all singing together helps make the track a lot more warmer and homely. I also really like the rapping, as it gave a little more to the festive song.

The music video shows the members waiting for the first snow to fall, having fun in the snow as a group, preparing for their night Christmas party and other activities. Honestly, it is the type of video that makes sense for the Christmas season (i.e. the coming together of everyone). They were shot in a manner that made the members look cute. I don’t despise of such videos, but they have a very limited appeal in a very limited time frame before it is long forgotten.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 6/10
Overall Rating – 6.6/10