[Album Review] Yaho (6th Mini Album) – N.Flying

Sorry about the day late release for this album review. 

N.Flying started this year off incredibly strong with the release of Rooftop, which rose to the top of the South Korean digital charts. The group then returned with Spring Memories which would be considered a pretty unsuccessful comeback, considering it didn’t get them further exposure or onto the charts. Last month, the band tried again with another mini-album, Yaho, which featured Good Bam. And I consider this to be the better comeback to follow up their incredible climb on the charts. But unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to get enough attention. So to help draw at least one or two of my reader’s attention to the album and title track, here is my album review.

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Yaho Album Cover

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

2. Autumn DreamAutumn Dream feels like a song fitting for the season that the title suggests. But instead of going with a cliché ballad that the band has previously done before, they throw in a slight rock influence, which gives it a unique spin. I find the vocals to be quite nice in this song, with some flair included towards the end with the high note. I did like its pleasantness, which is why I though it was fitting for the season of Fall. Overall, I find it well balanced between N.Flying’s crazy side and their more mellow side. (8/10)

3. Pardon? (ㅈㅅ) – We return to the band’s wild side with Pardon. It is a fun number that feels full of energy. Unfortunately, the song does come off as a mess in my opinion. There is a lot going on despite its light-hearted direction and I felt that everything vocally felt clumped together. The borders around the chorus felt very blurred and this added to the clumped feeling I got from the song. The song also didn’t have much of a breather, which I would have preferred instead of listening to 2:50 minutes of them just throwing lyrics at us. It is still listenable, so don’t take my negative comments the wrong way. (6/10)

4. 4242 – Now this is the fun song that doesn’t feel like it was a clumping mess. Instead, the band opts for a groovy upbeat track for 4242. Vocally, I thought the song was superb and showed off a fair amount of their talents (singing and rapping combined). I love that jazzy swing instrumental break, which I think would have been really fun (especially if there were a few instrumental adlibs thrown into the mix during a special live performance). I thoroughly enjoyed this song and wouldn’t mind listening to it on a loop. (9/10)

5. Sunset – Finishing off the album is Sunset. It is a feel-good song, where the members literally are in awe with every aspect about their crush. It is another nice yet simple track. If I were to be critical about it, it does stay relatively linear and it does come off a little plain, especially as we get towards the end. But it another enjoyable track from the group and it finishes the album on a relatively good note. The vocals were also nice and so was the melody for Sunset. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

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Yaho Teaser Image

[Review] Drip – HINAPIA

Japanese reviews will return next Saturday.

Last Sunday we saw the debut of HINAPIA, a five-member female group under OSR Entertainment. The group has received extra attention as it features four former PRISTIN members: Minkyeong (formerly Roa), Gyeongwon (formerly Yuha), Eunwoo and Yaebin (formerly Rena) and new member, Bada. The group made their debut with Drip. In related news,  PRISTIN was confirmed to have disbanded in May of this year after months of speculation from fans due to a lack of group activity.

What I have noticed in 2019 so far is that the female groups that are debuting are not messing around. There hasn’t been many cutesy concepts, which has been the default concept for newly debuting girl groups in the past years. Drip continues the strong female sound that has dominated 2019 so far. It opens with what I consider to be a very addictive ‘Drip Drip Drip‘ hook. I also like how they incorporate the same hook into the chorus. It also feels very seductive and smooth. I like the beat of the song, even though it sounds very typical. It helps contribute to the addictive nature of the song. I do admit there is some monotonal consistency throughout the song but I thought it really helped make the song feel mature and as already pointed out, seductive. I did like the singing and rapping, though they don’t really show off much in this song. I wished they did show off a bit to really give us a taste of what they have to offer the industry. A great debut track.

As part of my research, I found out that there were two versions of the music video. The original was taken down for what I assumed was due to complaints about the portrayal of one of the members (Roa, I believe). A lot of the scenes of her on the bed were removed. But I didn’t see anything too suggestive. Moving away from that, the music video shows the female members to be breaking free of the confines of their sets (which I thought were nicely mature). I am probably interpreting the lyrics incorrectly, but it seems like the guy is imagining the members in each set (the song keeps on referring to a dream). The members want to see a more honest and self-confident guy, rather than one who is using his imagination to be with them. So they break out of their cages and leave their sets, which I assume shows the members becoming fed up with waiting for the honesty to appear. I probably butchered the interpretation section. So if you have any other theories, let me know!

The song doesn’t offer the group much opportunity to really show off anything amazing. Nor does it allow anything of high intensity.  But I thought the choreography that we did get was representative of the song. It works with the seductive nature of the song and was quite mature, a change from what PRISTIN is known for. (In hindsight, I realize that this would have followed PRSTIN V’s Get It nicely).

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

[Review] Dumb – BVNDIT

We now find ourselves in awards season and it is time to make very important decisions for the 2019 year (no pressure). As I was browsing the nominees for the MAMA awards, BVNDIT stood out to me. Mainly due to the lack of songs in the second half of the year, as their other fellow nominees have released songs in both the first and second half of the year. After all, they can’t make us leave 2019 without another comeback to follow Hocus Pocus and Dramatic. To answer those prayers, the group returned with Dumb and their 1st mini-album, Be!.

Dumb is actually a pretty good song. There is a bit of a generic tone hidden in the midst of the song thanks to the slight Latin and tropical influence that Dumb goes for, which is something that we have heard way too often in the past few years. That being said, the song does increase their maturity from the previous comebacks and I think this works well with the style they have aimed for in their releases. The chorus and pre-chorus had a nice melodic touch to them, which made the song appealing to me. It just felt a little plain and some additional elements could have made it better. I was craving a little something extra in the verses and choruses to add a little vibrancy to the song. This could have made the song a lot more appealing and lessen the generic tone of the song. There was some monotone whoops they added after the choruses for the ‘dance breaks’. But as I described them, they are pretty monotone and don’t give the song that ‘bounce’ it needed. A rap sequence could have been useful to up the intensity and this could have made it appealing. But Dumb, as it is, was a nice follow up to their earlier works.

The music video was pretty aesthetic at the start. But as it progressed along, it lost that charm and ended up falling towards the generic side of the spectrum once again. I liked the emphasis on the colour red, which I think went extremely well with the song’s style. Their visuals were also quite strong in this video and it was alluring. Apart from that, there really isn’t much else to discuss regarding the video.

The choreography also suffers from the same problem as the song and video did. There were good moments throughout the routine. But overall, the performance looked quite bland. I put blame on the song as it didn’t give that dynamic potential to the performance aspect of the comeback. That being said, I did like the circular routine at the start of the performance and the chorus as well.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Review] Money – Dawn

As mentioned yesterday, I will be reviewing Dawn’s (formerly E’Dawn from Pentagon) solo debut track today. He releases his single, titled Money, alongside his girlfriend’s return to the music industry with Flower Shower. For those who missed out on the big news in 2018, both Dawn and Hyuna were essentially kicked out of Cube Entertainment for dating each other. Despite that being over a year ago, the pair have signed with Psy’s new company, P-NATION, which is home to Psy himself, Jessi and Crush.

Unlike his girlfriend’s track, I am not really enjoying Money. It is just very boring and not captivating in many senses. Dawn’s parts in Pentagon alone are a lot more enticing, which I would have preferred if he somehow had incorporated some of that style into his solo debut track.  I understand he needs to start afresh. But you would obviously want to do so with something a little more memorable. That being said, I do tend to be a little optimistic and look at the good aspects. If his vocals and rapping were to prove anything, it would definitely show that he has potential. His singing was good and the second verse rap sequence was my favourite part of the song. I feel like if the song was a little more dynamic and potentially not as YG Entertainment-like than I think he would have really made this point more explicit. The chorus does improve the song a bit but the overall impression of the song still does lie on the boring side of the spectrum. I did like the calmness in Money, which I guess does ease us into what we could potentially expect from Dawn in future releases.

Watching this music video, it reminded me of G-Dragon’s more wild side that we saw in Crayon and Crooked. Just Dawn manages to take a notch further with the outfits and his crazed acting in this video. I have to admit I think the fashion choices in this video are not great. Like whoever thought black latex rubber suits looked good might need a long look at themselves in the mirror tonight. The song is all about money and it seems like he has withdrawal symptoms from the lack of money in his life. I really like the lighting of the video, which made the idea of obsessing over money a dark thought.

I thought the choreography was nice. Once again, not the more impressive routine out there. It does seem like he was able to bring more of that wild side that I mentioned in the music video review section to the performance, which I think made the performance very alluring to watch. And based on this routine, his stage presence isn’t something that we should underestimate.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[Review] Flower Shower – Hyuna

One of the most unjust news of 2018 was the termination of Hyuna and Dawn’s (formerly E’Dawn) contracts under Cube Entertainment for dating each other. This caused the start of a long hiatus for both artists. The pair ended up signing with Psy’s new company, P-NATION and returned as solo artists on the same day (yesterday). Today, I will be focusing on Hyuna’s latest solo single, Flower Shower, and I will be reviewing Dawn’s tomorrow. Flower Shower is her first solo track since the release of Lip & Hip in 2017.

Comparing Flower Shower to any of her Cube solo hits and you can clearly see that Hyuna has gone with a completely different sound. And I like this new change in direction. To put it into words, her new solo track has been stripped over any overwhelming synths and allowed to present in a more ‘bare’ form. It is definitely refreshing in an industry now inundated with tracks that rely a lot on synths. There is also a playful vibe in the song, which I have never really gotten from Hyuna’s tracks before. Flower Shower really gives her an opportunity to focus on her vocals and rapping, which I think were nice aspects. The chorus was really catchy, with the scratchy flute keyed into my memory after just a few listens. This trend of an instrumental-only (or lyric minimal) chorus is heavily used by almost every artist, so it is a little tiring. But Hyuna makes it work really well in this song. With a great song like this added to her discography, all I can say is welcome back to Hyuna!

I thought this was a really beautiful video, fitting for someone as beautiful as Hyuna. For once, it doesn’t feel like Hyuna is over-sexualised. I think I have mentioned before in one of her reviews that I am not too troubled about the sexual nature of her videos (and thought it was tame compared to Western media). But not once did that thought come across my mind. Instead, that playful vibe that I mentioned in the song review part was present. That or her beauty was highlighted in an elegant manner. I thought the pale colour palette was particularly nice in this video, along with the obviously artificial sets.

Looking at her dresses in this music video and what she is potentially wearing on the stage (based on the performance videos already released), that sexualising concept has definitely been trashed by Hyuna. As for the choreography, I thought it was nice. Not impressively, like most of the recent routines I have observed in the past few weeks. I did enjoy the chorus and thought it looked really dynamic.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

 

[Review] Nostalgic Night – VICTON

It has been 18 months since we heard from VICTON. Their last comeback was in May of 2018 with Time Of Sorrow. But since their comebacks prior to their 2018 return were not garnering enough attention for the group, their company decided to send two members (Seung-woo and Byung-chan) to Produce X 101. Byungchan pulled out due to health problems, while Seung-woo finished 3rd and a part of the X1 lineup. And on Monday, VICTON return (with Byungchan and without Seung-woo) with Nostalgic Night, their first single post-Produce X 101. It seems like the survival show is paying off but let’s see how their comeback fare.

It is interesting that the group didn’t return with a new sound. Instead, they seemed to incorporate that sentimental sound that they left us with from Time Of Sorrow with a dance beat. Nostalgic Night ended up being a pleasant combination. It is a little typical sounding but I think it has enough to rival a few major male group releases in the past few weeks. I really liked the instrumental for this track, particularly the dance breaks we get after the chorus. It felt like a dull flute was being played (but in a good way) and this made the song feel appealing. I also liked how the instrumentation didn’t feel heavy-handed, which was one of the reasons why I mentioned the pleasant descriptor. Altogether, the instrumental was subtly dynamic, which I thought was cool. Their vocal work was nice and melodic. The rapping boosted the song and gave some intensity that I felt it needed. Once again, I am not too fond of the abrupt ending and this should have ended with a fade-out. Apart from that, a stronger hook would have made the song more memorable. But it was good, overall.

The music video pairs very well with the song. The song expresses their feelings of missing their former lover and whether they would still be together if they waited a little longer. In the music video, however, the exact same thing is expressed but in terms of their friendship group. It seems like some members regret the events of the night. My guess is that a car crash occurred, resulting in some of the members dying (we see some members unconscious around the car). Some members seemed to have taken a pill during the day and this resulted in them disappearing, which was foreshadowing the events to come. That is my interpretation of the video, though I am a little confused with the white pill (not exactly sure of its significance, as the first guy did drop them). I did like the use of colours and lighting of the video, which made the video more appealing.

The choreography was good. But it wasn’t impressive. When the song went into that more energetic and subtly angst-like instrumental break, I felt like they could have had moves that were more amped up than what they had. Don’t get me wrong though, as I did like what they had. I also like how smooth their performance felt, which worked well with the song.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 8.1/10

[Review] I Like That – Lee Jin Hyuk (UP10TION)

Back when Produce X 101 started, UP10TION sent two of its members (Kim Wooseok and Lee Jin Hyuk) onto the show to gain exposure. Lee Jin Hyuk placed 12th and missed out on a spot alongside his fellow member. Right after the show, his company provided him an opportunity to rest and threw UP10TION back into promotions with Your Gravity without him. It was a confusing move on TOP Media’s behalf, especially since he was there to help gain UP10TION attention. And he hasn’t promoted with the group at all since then. Instead, TOP media confirmed his solo debut for November the 4th and that is what I will be reviewing today.

The song is titled I Like That. Positioned as a rapper while promoting as part of his main group, Lee Jin Hyuk’s solo debut track takes on a club party hip hop style that used to be very popular as idol rappers made their solo debuts. There is a bit of nostalgia, as a result, with how the song is presented. But it is a style that I  never grew fond of and it seems to still be the case. It fails to deliver any of that ‘impact’ that I always mention and the track doesn’t come off as memorable. There are some fun vibes to it, which I did like. But they weren’t strong enough to really reel me in for a second or third listen. Apart from that, there are still some good elements of the song which I also liked. The instrumental isn’t too heavy-handed and it comes off as pleasant in a sense. “Pleasant’ isn’t a word you would necessarily use to describe a rapper’s song. But it did genuinely feel this way relative to other rapper-based tracks. His delivery was nice and tried to add a dynamic touch to the song. I think the song was a good starting point. Though I think the song could have been enhanced if there were more memorable moments/lines and if the producers pushed the song a little more.

I thought the music video was very boring. Apart from the shaky camera work, which worked well with the music, the video doesn’t offer much besides closeups and choreography shots. The sets were plain. I feel like this was a missed opportunity. The visual aspect of a comeback is very important, for me at least. It pretty much could enhance and added to the song’s atmosphere but I felt it did nothing of the sort.

The choreography was pretty good. Based on his showcase performance, Lee Jin Hyuk puts in full force like his backup dancers despite performing live. It definitely shows his performance skills. In addition to that, I thought his facial expressions were on point, which made the performance looked a little more captivating.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.1/10

[Review] You Calling My Name – GOT7

Due to my exam preparations, I will try my best to review songs for HIPNA, Lee Jin Hyuk, VICTON in the coming delays. This will delay other reviews for releases in the coming days. Apologies once again. 

Out of all the comebacks this week, I am most excited for GOT7’s comeback. The seven-member male group returned today with You Calling My Name and their 10th mini-album, Call My Name. Apart from being a mega fanboy of the group (no shame here!), I found their teasers for this comeback to be very captivating. But that is something to discuss a little later on in the review.  This is the latest full group comeback since the release of Eclipse earlier this year.

This isn’t my bias mind talking. But I thought this was a very thoroughly intriguing song. First of all, it strays away from the usual EDM style that GOT7 does. It goes with a subtly funky beat that sounds very refined, polished and mature. It focused on more on melody, which isn’t something that GOT7 has explicitly emphasised in the past. Another appealing aspect of the track is its smoothness at the start. Interestingly, the lines didn’t reflect this and felt almost ‘short and snappy’, which was another interesting aspect of the song. With the focus on melody, You Calling My Name allowed the vocal line of the group to shine more. Their past EDM hits have allowed the rappers to flourish, so it was a nice change. The first chorus which Jinyoung sang in that falsetto is probably my pick for the best part of the entire song (after the entire song, of course!). Youngjae’s section that followed the second and third chorus was a very close second (third) pick. the weakest part of the song was Mark’s rap section as it didn’t feel like it fit 100% neatly. While writing this review, I had a long debate whether this would be considered a reinvention. I wouldn’t say so, as they had these elements before in previous tracks. They just amped them up in a way that sounds so different but right at the same time.

I feel like the reinvention part came in a more visual sense. Firstly, how freaking aesthetic does the music video look? I am all for it. From what I read, they went with a different music video producer this time around. Hence why the video looked really different. The aesthetics seemed to show a more ‘broken’ and lonely side of GOT7, which reflects well with the lyrics, which was all about wanting a former lover to say their name again. The music video oozed of a masculine aura and mature sexiness that I don’t think no other group has really exhibited before. It made the music video alluring and very captivating.

I am already floored with the introduction to the performance. I thought it was an aesthetic aspect of the music video only. But I didn’t expect to be part of the choreography. I also really liked Jackson’s part, where he did that flip. I thought the rest of the routine was equally as amazing. Like the music video, it was alluring and captivating, which are practically two words that I think best describe GOT7’s comeback.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Review] Blah – 1THE9

Let’s jump into a time machine and go a little back further than last week. Apologies for the delay in its review, particularly since it was released mid-October (it should have been reviewed at the start of the week). But I guess better late than never. Well, the song to be focused on today is Blah, which is released alongside the group’s second mini-album, Blah Blah. They made their debut earlier in the year with Spotlight. And we haven’t much from the project group since that set of promotions. But they are here now and that is what matters.

Relistening to the song, the real reason to why the song hasn’t been reviewed yet could be due to its blandness. If it was memorable, I would have gotten around to reviewing it a lot sooner. Blah conforms to the typical nature of male group releases and hence it wasn’t able to stand out in the crowd. Another way to think about the song is that it is too ‘inside the box’. That is my overall impression of the song. Digging into the individual elements, I found the vocals and rap sequences to be okay. I think these easily could have been manipulated to pack a punch. Similarly, the instrumental would have been amped up. It felt like the group was playing it safe with the song and that isn’t something that benefits a newly starting group.  There some good melodic moments in the song, but these were more during the verses. The chorus was very unimaginative and what should have been the catchy hook was very dry and boring. If I were to sum everything up with one word, the song’s title says it all.

No doubt similar comments can be made with the music video. I have watched it once and I can’t seem to sit through it again. What I am trying to get it is that the video feels like one of those, ‘you’ve seen it once, you have seen it all’. It just felt typical. A lot of my comments would have been ones I have made before on this blog. So I am not going to repeat myself for once.

I really liked the energy that they managed to channel through the choreography. It is a little more than what we get from the song and I feel like that alone is a step in the right direction. I also like what they do with the slower moments of the song. I did wish for some bolder moves but I think the choreography was the strongest point of the comeback.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 5.4/10

[Review] Forever Love – Yoo Youngjae

Out of all the songs from last week, I have yet to cover my most favourite. Well, until now. Yoo Youngjae is one of the few lucky members of B.A.P to find a new entertainment company to promote under. He made his solo debut earlier this year with Another Night. Last week, he returned with Forever Love and his second mini-album, O,on.

The one word that I would use to describe Forever Love is dynamic. It is a song that jumped right out at me because it felt so right. From the vocal work throughout the entire song to the blast of energy that the instrumental would throw at you, this dance track was very appealing. I really liked how the producers defined the chorus in this track to make it stand out. Not only was there that influx of energy that I have already mentioned, but the presence of those backing vocals made it feel a lot bolder and more impactful. I had to relisten to the track a few times after the first listen because I just couldn’t get enough of it. I also like the slowdown that the pre-chorus and bridge featured, which ended up helping lift up the chorus of this track. Despite my praises, I  did feel that a proper rap sequence would have really transformed this song. It would have given the song some texture and if played correctly featured, it would have added to the impact and dynamic description of the song. That might just be me and every other music producer would say otherwise. But overall, Yoo Youngjae has a really amazing song under his belt.

I thought the music video was fantastic. The editing in this video was really good, especially at the end where it would zoom into each scene that was encountered throughout the music video. I also thought the sets looked really cool. Youngjae himself looked really cool, as well. The choreography shots looked really cool and I liked how they made it feel infinite based on lack of boundaries when it came to the sets. Usually, sets feel like a solid wall, but the swimming pool choreography shots in this music video had windows that extended into the distance. While the presence of water in choreography shots is a mainstream idea now, I thought it added to the appeal of the video as well.

Amazing choreography. I really enjoyed the intensity of this routine. And to know that he pulled it while singing live was rather impressive. It was to continue the moment and release awesome songs like this and have powerful routines alongside it, I think he will be making up for lost time in no time. I did like the idea of chairs but it made the stage look a little messy in my opinion.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Review] Poison – VAV

Happy Halloween! Have a spooky day!

Once again, I will not dip into the ‘Coming Soon‘ page yet. That might be next week after I wrap up the catch up for last week’s comebacks. Today I want to focus on VAV, who made their return last Monday with Poison. This is the group’s latest 2019 comeback, following Give Me More in July and Thrilla Killa in March. Poison is also the lead title track from their 5th mini-album, which shares the same name.

Given the many releases from last and this week, Poison quickly became masked and hidden away. Only fans of the group would be able to pick out their release from the crowd. But this could have easily been counteracted if the group released a song that stood out from the crowd itself. Though it is hard, it has been done before. Unfortunately, Poison doesn’t hit that mark. The song was rather standard and it isn’t as memorable as it could have been. While the vocal and rapping were fine, they could have used these elements in a way to deliver some impact. We did get a touch of this through their post-chorus hook. The combination of the deep vocals of Lou and the ‘Oh’ repetition gave the song some momentum and texture. I also liked how melodic the chorus was, which is a definite change to the more harsher electronic styles we get often. The piano in the instrumental was a really good direction. It gave me some nostalgia to some early KPOP releases. I just felt the combination of modern instrumentation techniques lost the appeal and nostalgia of the piano as it progressed along. Some good elements, some underutilised elements. All resulting in a typical song at the end of the day.

Likewise, I thought the video could have been so much darker and intense. The song really had that atmosphere, so I am a little disappointed that this was not aimed for. There was a fair bit of colour to the video, which is okay. I didn’t mind it as much. But I felt like if the video was a lot darker, it could have pulled some attention to the visual aid. Especially following that counting sequence at the very start which did have an eerie feel and the creepy smile that ended the video with and carved itself into my memory bank.

Once again, I thought the performance was very standard. Though I am not exactly sure how they would improve upon the performance. They managed to strike a balance with their less intense verses and the dynamic post-chorus hook that I really enjoyed (also my favourite part of the song).

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[Review] SOSO – WINNER

It is time to catch up on some more reviews. But I am not dipping into my ‘Coming Soon’ page yet as there are a few more comebacks from last week that I wanted to cover. WINNER is a major group that I have yet to review and they made their comeback with SOSO last Wednesday. I am not going to delay their review anymore. We last saw the group through their Ah Yeah comeback, which was released 5 months back.

The way the song was set up was quite promising. But the resulting mix just didn’t work out too well. And I point my finger squarely on the slowdown that was featured as the chorus of the song. It was disappointing and a complete letdown, especially after such a rocking buildup to what could have been an amazing drop. It cut the momentum down to a sluggish pace. The repetition of the ‘So So‘ didn’t help as well. I think in their defence, it would have been interesting to some people. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.  The rest of the track was fine. I really enjoyed the verses. Mino’s rap sequence at the start of the song has to be one of the best sequences of the year. It was fluid and just kept coming at us. The vocals work was also quite good. They did seem to go with a more generic sound this time around, which seems to be the route that they have been aiming for during their last few songs. But WINNER always seems to make it sound good. Just not this time, unfortunately.

The music video is very filled with a lot of symbolism, which is different from what a typical music video coming from WINNER is usually. Based on what I understood from an interview, the video shows scenes of the scars that fans do not see commonly. They are practically isolated from the rest of the world (shown by Mino), entangled in the public life (shown by Seungyoon), dodging scandals to keep that innocent and well-behaved image (shown by Jiwoo) and are hurt and tired underneath all of that name brand clothing that they get to wear (shown by Hoony). It is an interesting video that does manage to speak volumes, especially with what recently happened.

I think the performance is a lot like the song. There were good moments during the verses and pre-chorus thanks to the more upbeat vibes in the instrumental. But the slowdown from the chorus made it rather disappointing and this really dried up the performance for me.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.2/10

[Review] Savage – A.C.E

A.C.E made their comeback today with Savage, the title track off their third mini-album, Under Cover: The Mad Squad. This is the group’s first comeback since their UNDER COVER promotions back in May of this year. Not a whole heap has happened with the group that I am aware of since their last comeback, so there really isn’t much to discuss in this introduction. So let’s just get stuck right into the review.

There was no doubt that A.C.E would return with another intense EDM track, particularly when the song’s title is Savage. Majority of their title tracks thus far has been EDM based, so there might be some overlapping of sounds which is a rather typical element of EDM. But I am not complaining too much as they do manage to spin the genre in a different direction each time. Last time we heard from the group, I mentioned that UNDER COVER was concentrated form their earlier works. I find this song to be an even concentrated form, localised around the chorus. I was thoroughly impressed with the vocals and rapping in this song, which all worked together in a rather cohesive way to really highlight the intensity of the song. I also find the chorus to be quite harsh, fitting in with the ‘Savage’ title of the song. And while I did enjoy all parts of the song, I was particularly fond of their start. It was playful in a tough manner. And also a perfect lead into the EDM intensity that we know from the group.

The album is titled Under Cover: The Mad Squad. I find the music video to be a great portrayal of this ‘mad squad’. Especially towards the end of the song, with both the entire video shot in a manner that did make them look slightly mad during the bridge. I also really liked their solo shots in this video, which really drew the attention to their visuals. On top of that, their eye contact with me made it much more captivating.

Seeing Chan wearing black shorts throughout the music video gave me flashbacks to their short shorts days. Apart from that uncomfortable trip down memory lane, it is one damn good performance. I really liked how fun the bridge part of the choreography looked. I also liked how they looked like they were allowed to let go during the final moments of the performance, despite still maintain formation and what seems to be a routine (as odd as it sounds).

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10

[Album Review] Feel Special (7th Mini Album) – TWICE

It has been a while since I posted an album review. While Tuesdays are usually dedicated to reviewing a past album from the previous years, I have decided to drop that segment during November to catch up on the month of albums that I have missed out on. The first alum that I wanted to review was TWICE’s Feel Special. This is the group’s 7th mini-album and has once again proven their high status in the industry. Let’s see my thoughts on the album below.

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Feel Special Album Cover

1. Feel Special (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Feel Special. (7.5/10)

2. RainbowRainbow starts off very standard and I was almost going to turn away from this song. I thought the verses were very plain and not so memorable. The chorus was the segment of the song that had me coming back. It provided the song with an influx of energy that I thought made it quite memorable and saved the song. Where I am at the moment, it is getting warm and Summer is fast approaching. Rainbow was quite lively, and this makes it very appropriate for the upcoming heat that is about to attack me. And that high note at the end was superb. (8/10)

3. Get LoudGet Loud starts off with a set of marching band drums. And while we get a sprinkling or hints of it throughout the song, Get Loud transform into a rather standard pop sound. This standard pop sound was unlike what started off the previous song. Instead, it still had enough to be captivating. The percussion in the instrumental allowed it pushed forward and went extremely well with their vocals. I also thought the instrumental was rather dynamic and their transitions to be quite cool, making this a stand out track. I also liked the rapping in this song and thought more of it would have really made the track more entertaining. (9/10)

4. Trick It – I thought Trick It was a nice song. Tyuzu’s opening was probably my most favourite on this album. The instrumental had a number of unexpected turns, but it ended up resulting in a very cool and trendy piece. The vocal work was pretty nice. The rapping in this song, however, felt quite one-dimensional (i.e. there didn’t seem to be much of a standout rhythm) and this really disappointed me. The impression I got from the rapping was that it was a step too ahead of the rest of the song and hence doesn’t connect that well with it. (7.5/10)

5. Love FoolishLove Foolish has one of the best choruses of the year. The way Chaeyoung sounds is so good. The speaking element really gave off a mature vibe which I don’t think I would have registered if it wasn’t there. I also liked how they didn’t do it in the second chorus (i.e. the middle of the song). Otherwise, this would have been a little overused and repetitive, which would lessen the impact of it at the end. The rest of the song didn’t really stand out in my opinion. But it was still enjoyable. (8/10)

6. 21:29 – The idea of the mandatory ballad just won’t disappear. While this isn’t exactly the slow ballad type, it was a step back from all the upbeat songs that have dominated the album thus far. While the vocal work was fine, I am torn about it. A part of me says the song is rather nice and works well as a breather. It was quite drifty in nature and I would see it as a good way to ‘turn down the dial’. At the same time, however, I feel like the sound was ill-fitting for such an energetic and lively album. It might have worked with other songs on a different album, but I didn’t feel it connect with the songs on this album. (7/10)

7. Breakthrough (Korean Version) – I have previously reviewed the Japanese version of Breakthrough. Click here to read the full review for Breakthrough. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

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Feel Special Teaser Image

[Review] Spark – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Alongside the two returning groups that I reviewed yesterday, we have a soloist joining the party in what already is shaping to be an interesting week. Taeyeon has been known for chart-topping hits and it seems like Spark will be no different. Alongside Spark, Taeyeon returns with her second studio album, Purpose, which also features the track Fours Seasons which was a single from her earlier in the year.

We have heard do a range of genres, such as the cliche ballad route that most vocalists do (Rain, I, Four Seasons etc.) and EDM (Why) from Taeyeon. Spark is a little different, opting for a pop sound that resembles the mega western hit, Rolling In The Deep by Adele. The instrumental was very compelling and actually works well as both a vocally centred and a dance track. There is some subtle attitude through the instrumentation. Adding to the intensity, the limelight is placed squarely on her vocals throughout the entire song. And that is one aspect that I really enjoyed regarding the song. I thought the chorus was very smooth and it works perfectly well as a whole. However, the entire time I was listening to the song, I was expecting it to build-up to something a little more climatic and shock us. What we ended up getting was fine but I felt like more could have done to really appeal to my personal taste.

As the song is titled Spark, the music video features a lot of red and orange colours, which makes it appropriate. Oh, and there are a few sparks here and there in the video as well. The video was shot with a green screen, as I am quite sure it would be rather dangerous to be performing on top of an actual crane. It isn’t as bad as other green screen applications in some other videos. At the same time, however, it does look rather cheap in comparison to past SM music videos. I did like how sleek she looked in black, which really went well with the red and orange colour palette they infused into the background.

The choreography looks good. It isn’t the most dynamic routine but I assume that was meant to help Taeyeon focus on the vocal aspect of the performance. I did find that it looked elegant (from what I saw in the music video), which was fitting to both Taeyeon’s style and the song.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10 

[Review] Follow – Monsta X

Monsta X makes their official return today with Follow. A fair bit has happened with the group, with all of it revolving around their overseas promotions. Since their last Korean comeback (Alligator), Monsta X has released Play It Cool, Who Do You Love, Love U and Someone’s Someone in the US. The group has also embarked on their world tour. And now, the group is back in Korea to promote their 7th mini-album, Follow: Find You. The group also dropped (unexpectedly) the music video for Find You and I will review that at a later date.

Follow brings together the use of a Korean traditional instrument (don’t know which one) and the modern EDM. There is one recent example that did this as well (Lit by ONEUS) which managed to maintain the Eastern influence in their song. Monsta X differs by using the Eastern influence like a detail within its instrumental while focusing on the Western EDM sound for the majority of the song. None of these combinations is superior over the other as both bring different ‘final’ sounds to the table. What I do like about Monsta X’s song is that it manages to infuse a load of energy into the mix, which I think makes this song feel a lot more inviting. It is something that I have come to associate with Monsta X. The vocal work was pretty good. But it is Joohoney and I.M’s rapping that really reflect well with the energy and adds a very dynamic component to the song. I feel like rapping, especially, nowadays can be very straight forward and one-dimensional. Here, you can feel their personality and the intensity in their segments, which adds to the appeal of the song.

As the song is quite fast-paced, the editing goes hand-in-hand. Once again, I think there is a story somewhere in the midst of the video. There will be some reason to why Hyungwon became the shining radiant sun in the video. I am not going to guess what the video is about, however, as I have no clue. Out of all the individual scenes, I thought Joohoney and I.M to be the most captivating. It might because I already find their segments in the song alluring. But their scenes looked really more dynamic in comparison to the rest of the group. 

Once again, the performance is a very strong element in this comeback. The routine during the chorus is enough proof of this. I really like the mini bounces they make during the entire performance, which probably made the less complicated looking performance a lot harder to execute. I also liked how Hyungwon (along with Minhyuk), who often doesn’t get many lines in their songs, a chance to shine within the choreography, as he was in the centre for the key parts of the performance.

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