[Review] Humph! – Pentagon

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 Boy promotions), 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

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[Review] Time Of Our Life – DAY6

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

[Review] Sunset – KNK

KNK seems to be handling their own careers quite well. Late last year, the group established their own company after leaving YNB Entertainment (it was assumed that their former company was not managing them well). This year, the group returned with Lonely Night, making it their first comeback in almost 2 years. After 6 months, the group returns with Sunset, another digital single. On top of that, the group will be embarking Europe tour as well next month (and Wikipedia states that the group had also wrapped up their USA tour and Japan tour).

Sunset is a bold track that makes you instantly associate it with the modelling world or at least, a runway. We have had a number of tracks that take this route in the past. And each of them turned out to be very dynamic but in a subtle manner. Sunset definitely follows the trend. But may I add that the song also has a certain level of intensity that gives it a sensual feel. The chorus has to be my favourite part. Not only do they seductive whisper ‘Sunset 4 4 Y’all‘ repetitively, the instrumentation I found to be quite cool (though typical for the style of music they chose). Listening to the track, you find the actual singing and rapping within the verses. While they don’t really sound amazing, I do think they showcase a good side of themselves in the song. I have been impressed with KNK’s title tracks so far in their career and it seems like Sunset is another addition to that list.

The music video is captivating. Though there wasn’t much going on content-wise (i.e. the video was made up of artistic close-ups and choreography shots), the atmosphere they created with the minimal lighting and use of silhouettes was amazing. The visuals we saw in the music video made the song sound so much more thrilling. The sensual vibes that I identified with the song were carried throughout the music video is a manner that feels perfectly right (e.g. Heejun’s abs and the choreography shots).

Based on what can be seen in the music video, the choreography seems to show some voguing and homme fatale vibes. And to pull off those vibes and moves perfectly, the members have to look visually amazing, which I think they do. And I suppose the performance is going to look very charged, which fans will undoubtedly enjoy. There are some interesting bits that I am keen to see live, such as the hanging member at the very start and the full chorus routine.

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

[Review] Love Loop – GOT7

Right after wrapping up their Eclipse comeback (which occurred back in May), GOT7 (minus Jackson) has returned to the Japanese music scene with a new release. The track is titled as Love Loop and is featured on the same-titled mini-album due for release at the end of the month. This is GOT7’s first Japanese release since the official release of I Won’t Let You Go at the start of the year. Currently, the group have officially kick-started their world tour, Keep Spinning, which is stopping at many more cities than ever before.

Looking back at the review I wrote for I Won’t Let You Go, the group departed from their usual EDM heavy tracks that they started their Japanese careers off with. Love Loop continues with this departure, going with a much more breezy and melodic track. The song manages to maintain the dance sound that GOT7 is known for in the majority of their title tracks. But the instrumental made the song feel like almost ballad-like, which I thought was very interesting. While this isn’t something new, I liked this changeup with GOT7’s sound. One important factor about the track is that the rapping took the back seat this time around. The vocals are the forefront of the song and drive its melodic nature. JB and Yugyeom’s vocals opened the chorus and I felt they were so impactful. In fact, I think there was a subtle show of intensity through the chorus, thanks to their vocals. Youngjae’s high note, even though it was more in the background, managed to blow me away. Based on what I am hearing and have written thus far, Love Loop is (obviously) different but quite memorable.

I really like the music video for Love Loop. The literal artistic touch to the background made the video looked so cool. I mentioned that the song was breezy above and the strokes and moving drawings in the background made it feel so visually as well. I also liked how the strokes/movement of colour was applied to their outfits as the video progressed, which was nice incorporation of the members into the video concept. I did mention in the Eclipse music video that it seems like their company is overusing the ‘green screen’. It is obviously used here but in a manner that looked amazing, so I don’t share those concerns this time around.

The snippets of choreography that could be seen in the music video (no live performance as of yet) felt very elegant and fitting for the song. Apart from that, I can’t make any other comments about the choreography as we didn’t get to see much in the video. But fitting and elegant are great observations to make, regardless.

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

[Double Review] Questions + Flash, Party! – Zelo

We have heard releases from Young Guk, Daehyun and Youngjae from earlier in the year after B.A.P had left TS Entertainment and (assumingly) cease group activities. And now rejoining his former members as part of the wider KPOP industry is Zelo with his solo debut. Interestingly, Zelo is the only member to actually promote his release on the weekly music shows. As you can tell in the title, today’s review will be a double review –  including Questions, the lead title track off Zelo’s first mini-album (Distance) and Flash, Party! (another track from the same album).

Once again, Zelo’s debut track is another tropical dance track. While the genre is overdone, the track doesn’t blast the tropical elements to the extent of other songs, which may or may not be a good thing depending on how you listen to the track. In Question‘s case, I think the lesser tropical sounds made the song more catchy. It is a little confusing to explain it in a concise manner but ‘less is more’ as they always say. I did like the upbeat vibes that come from it and I find the track to have a nice party vibe to it. I found Zelo’s vocals to be quite unique. I think this is the first time I heard him sing, so I was quite surprised. Another surprising thing is that he didn’t rap as much as I had expected.

Flash, Party! is a very intense and edgy dance track that really knows how to keep the momentum going. Despite the track running for a period of 3 and a half minutes, the most memorable section has to be the chorus, which uses a repetitive hook that is bound to continue ringing in your head even after you had moved onto another song. I did like how the verses take a melodic route, showcasing different sides of Zelo. Consequentially, his voice also is showcased. He uses different tones throughout the track. It almost felt like there were featuring artists in the song but it was all one man’s doing!

Questions had a very typical video that just didn’t the song justice. While I am okay with Zelo as the ‘centrepiece’ during his close-ups and choreography shots (which is expected), I didn’t think it was necessary to have him as the centrepiece during the party scenes. Everyone dance around him, which isn’t what a party feels like. Might just be me being nit-picky, but it was something I noticed. Flash, Party! is only a performance video, so the main part of the video is the choreography, which I will talk about below. I thought the edgy tone was carried over to the visuals nicely. There were some editing issues throughout the video (i.e. Zelo was attempting a b-boy move but the video just cut to him standing while he was mid-air). But apart from that, it was good.

The choreography for Flash, Party! looked really cool. We definitely got to see Zelo bust a few more moves than compared to Questions, which I think it definitely expected. I did notice that some parts had Zelo gliding, which I think was awesome. Question‘s choreography was designed to have him focus on the live factor of the performances. So his moves were a lot simpler and the way he moved looked like he was going back and forth. Nothing wrong with that. But it was just wasn’t captivating as much.

Questions
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10

Flash, Party!
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] Dream Play – LIMITLESS

Season 2 of Produce 101 wrapped up in 2017 and many of the show’s alumni have gone to debut either as a solo act or as part of a group. Unless they were part of Wanna One, it is a little odd to find a company withholding a contestant from debuting, especially now that the respective season is a distant memory. This was the case for LIMITLESS who is a new male group from ONO Entertainment, which consists of Moonbok (the long hair contestant), Hyunwoo, Heeseok (the three are former contestants of the show) and Huichan. They dropped their debut single, Dream Play, earlier this week.

It is very hard to make a debut track stand out, as shown by the many artists who debut and never return as their initial step into the industry fails to launch them. While it is a little too soon to say this about a newly debut group as we do not know what the future might hold, a typical track like Dream Play isn’t looking too good. The song plays a tropical pop influence, which has been heard so often that I now view it as very plain. There isn’t anything mixed into it to really allow for the song to be differentiable from the rest of the competition. The hooks were not fascinating and very typical, giving this song a very passable mark. I think the only things that I can comment positively on are the vocals and rapping, which I think were nicely polished. Pity that the rest of the canvas wasn’t as great.

Same deal with the music video. Overall, I’d describe it as a skippable video. The video starts off with the members in a flower boy or boy next door type of concept. Everything is bright and very plain. The video then takes a turn showing a darker side of the guys. Not exactly sure what the deal is with but I assume dreams have something to do with it (given the title). They went from eating a flower with a knife and fork to putting something suspicious into a drink (which is not cool!). Apart from that, I did like the use of TVs as a transition. It looked cool and very different.

The choreography has to be the best part of this debut package. I thought their moves looked cool and they did mini bounces to match the instrumental was rather cool. I also felt that their stage presence is also quite large. I have a feeling that performance wise, this large stage presence is definitely something to look out for.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 5.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 5.8/10

[Review] Cool Love – Hongbin (VIXX) & Hyungwon (MONSTA X)

Pepsi has been one busy company this year. As a partnership with Starship Entertainment to produce The Love of Summer series, Pepsi has pulled together a number of artists to promote their brand. Back in April, Ravi and Eunha came together for Blossom, while last month we saw the return of Ong Seong Woo to the music industry through Heart Sign. Yesterday, another track as part of the series was released. This time around,  they bring Hongbin from VIXX and Hyungwon from MONSTA X together for Cool Love.

Both Hongbin and Hyungwon are not known for their vocals, so it would be interesting to see how a collaboration track between them would turn out. Cool Love had the potential to be a good track. There was just one overwhelming issue with it. It just didn’t cohesively come together to be that good track. This was because the instrumental was a little messy. I thought Cool Love had a nice smooth instrumental for the chorus, which sounded like a song that a model could strut to. It was also my most favourite part of the song, as it did have a memorable rhythm. But the other parts felt like a total mismatch. For example, the dance break added unnecessary flair and felt like it was trying too hard. The start and bridge felt quite weak and didn’t really feel like it complimented the rest of the song. Vocally, I thought they were good. It was clear from the start that they needed the instrumental to help carry them. But they handled it well, despite suffering from the disjointed instrumentation. What I did like was the tone that they displayed, which I think their respective groups should really utilise in the future. I think given my comments, this isn’t my favourite song from the series thus far.

While the song was rather disappointing, the music video was not. Both Hyungwon and Hongbin are known for their visuals and I felt that the music video did an awesome job of showcasing that known fact about them. I did like the sets, which I think suited the tone of the track and looked very cool. What I really liked was that the video didn’t feel too much of a Pepsi commercial like the other videos did. It felt like a normal music video, with the subtle placement of the Pepsi brand/products added. Another part of the music video was the choreography. I won’t dedicate a separate section/rating to it, as we probably won’t see a performance for it and I don’t really have much to say about it. But it looked good, overall.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 5.8/10

[Review] UN Village – Baekhyun (EXO)

As mentioned previously, EXO is currently focusing on solo and unit promotions due to the impending military enlistment of the members (with Xiumin and D.O already in the army). We have seen solo tracks from Chen, Xiumin, D.O and Chanyeol so far this year and will be seeing the debut of EXO-SC (a unit consisting of Chanyeol and Sehun) in less than one fortnight. But today, we turn to a different member. Making his grand (official) solo debut today is Baekhyun with UN Village and his first ever mini-album, City Lights.

One thing I am glad that Baekhyun didn’t pick is a ballad title track. So many main vocalists go down this route, it quite often becomes a very large cliche in the industry. Instead, UN Village is an R&B track. And even then, it isn’t necessarily your typical R&B track as well. What is great about this track is that it shows off the individuality and personality of Baekhyun quite well. This is a common goal for solo promotions (especially for idols coming from groups). But is often not achieved due to urge to follow trends and cliches. What I quite like about UN Village is that it shows off his vocal colours. It’s smooth and almost teasing, which I think begs us to replay the song. The chorus was very well done and its melody is quite memorable. The instrumental gave off an aesthetic atmosphere, which further compliments his vocals. And also, this one of the times where consistency works as an advantage, which maintained the aesthetics. Overall, it is one damn good debut track.

Complimenting the song’s aesthetic atmosphere is an equally aesthetically pleasing music video. The video puts Baekhyun’s visuals on full display. It showcases him singing in different lightings, often quite dark and with very little colour (except for the one dominant colour). Apart from the subtle visual display of the singer, I found the sets to be very interesting. The song sings about taking a special someone to a hill behind UN Village to show them the night sky (taken from Soompi). But the way the video was shot, it looked like Baekhyun was showing us the very appealing sides of hidden laneways and alleyways within a city, which I guess is quite similar to showing us a hill behind UN Village. The ending with him laying on a table (and a woman, presumably his lover) walking by him is very confusing as I am not exactly sure how it contributes the video. Maybe I missed a few details here and there, so please let me know how this scene adds to the story.

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

[Review] I’m So Pretty – NATURE

Interestingly, the season which we all associate upbeat and energetic tracks with has been fairly quiet, especially in the last few weeks. But based on the dates that I have recorded down, it seems like things are going to get busy in the coming weeks and I think today’s date kicks things off. The first release that I will be looking at today is NATURE’s latest track, I’m So Pretty. This is the group’s first comeback Dream About U, which was released at the start of the year.

I’m So Pretty attempts to push itself into our playlists with a very typical girl group sound and flair. But it doesn’t get them far. I just think after the craziness of SOME (You’ll Be Mine), Nature has some bold shoes to fill. They ended up with a very tone down release at the start of the year that just felt inferior to SOME. So, it is nice to hear them pump some definition and boldness to this comeback track. But it falls short. I’m So Pretty takes that same sound that SOME had but puts it through an ordinary filter, resulting in an underwhelming pop track. I also thought the track was underwhelming due to the lack of catchy hooks. The hooks that the song opted for just didn’t really appeal to my personal tastes. Don’t worry, there were some good moments in this track as well. The display of vocals during the pre-chorus, the accents we heard at the end of each line in the post-chorus hook and the bridge as a whole overall were aspects that stood out at me. But sadly, they weren’t enough to dispel my initial comments.

This music video proves once again that Summer is the season of colour. It is a very colourful video, using a combination of bold and pastel colours to really showcase the group’s youthful and fun sides. There might be a small plotline, with the girls growing foxtails in the video. A quick Google search shows that a fox (which I assume the foxtails are a hint for) represents a number of characteristics, which I am assuming relate to the title of the song (Note that I have yet to find any English translation for the track yet and this is merely just an assumption for now).

The choreography for this comeback is quite nice. Once again, it doesn’t have much uniqueness to it. But there were moments that looked good and fun. I particularly like the ending of the bridge. I thought that looked cool.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 7/10 
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10

[Review] Blue – Ha Sungwoon (HOTSHOT)

One of the biggest success stories of 2019 has to be the individual paths that each of the former Wanna One members have taken since their disbandment. It has given us amazing debuts and returns to their original groups. And while we are awaiting the last of them to debut as a solo artist, we are now entering the wave of comebacks from these solo members. Back in May, we saw the return of Yoon Ji Sung with I’ll Be There. We will be seeing the return of Bae Jin Young as part of CIX later this month. And today, we saw the return of Ha Sung Woon with Blue.

To me, Blue already sounds so much more appealing than Bird. Though I did review Bird favourably, I did find that the solo debut track ended up being very forgettable. Blue conforms to the more typical trends of music that we hear all too often nowadays. But this isn’t a flaw, like in other tracks. I find Blue to be very dynamic, thanks to both the vocals and instrumentation. Ha Sung Woon’s vocals shine once again in this track. I like the way he drags his words out during the pre-chorus, making the drop we get during the chorus to be a little more impactful. The way he incorporated an airy tone during the bridge was quite memorable. I found his vocals in the chorus to be quite striking, complimenting the bounciness of the instrumental. The rest of his singing in the track was very clear and crisp. Likewise, I found the mid-tempo pop instrumental to be very fresh. I like the moody tone of the song, especially with the piano at the start. The chorus ended up being unexpected upbeat and bouncy (as mentioned) but it somehow worked well with the rest of the song’s tone.

With a track titled Blue, it does make sense to have the music video featuring a lot of blue. And that is what this video does. Interestingly, it deviates from the use of vibrant blues, as you would expect with upbeat tracks in the Summer season. Instead, the music video uses a lot of grey-blue and features a darker tone, matching the music’s heavy and emotional tone. Another good aspect, even though it has been done a fair bit over the years, is the choreography shots on the water. Though, I think this is the first time that a music video taking it a step further by showcasing Ha Sung Woon with a wet shirt while dancing, which I don’t remember anyone else doing before. (Don’t quote me on that, my memory isn’t that great).

Something that I have yet to mention is the 180-degree turn that Blue takes in comparison to Bird. The sound is a lot mature, the visuals are a lot gloomier. But it is the performance that really strikes me hard. The choreography takes on a more mature and artistic tone, which I think draws my attention more to the stage. It also shows off his dancer side. His stylist choice to dress him in satin or silky looking suits really work well with this concept.

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

 

[Review] Buenos Aires – IZ*ONE

As mentioned last week, there were some recent Japanese releases that needed to be addressed. Today, I will be having a closer look at one of them. IZ*ONE, earlier this year, made their Japanese debut with I Want To Say I Love You and their Korean comeback with Violeta. So, the group has already had a jam-packed half-year already. But they managed to sneak one more comeback just before June wrapped up with the release of Buenos Aires in Japan.

Listening to the track when it first came out and listening to it now, I honestly do not know what to say. The work that IZ*ONE had done to grow through the releases of La Vie en Rose, Violeta and I Want To Say I Love You surely would not result in a song like this. Instrumentally, I thought the song was good. Pop electronic does sound fitting for the Japanese market. That continuous extension for the instrumental break during the bridge was probably my favourite bit, providing intensity and an awesome platform for a creative dance sequence. Vocally, the song is haywire. Let’s start at the start. The introduction and first verse were okay. I thought the monotone effect and the buildup of autotune to be intriguing. But they should have changed for the chorus. They kept the same effect, rendering the vocals into a state of permanent monotone. They had cutesy yelling in the background that did not fit in. The melody was very unimaginative. The excessive autotune for the post-chorus hook was over the top. Urgh… And the rapping is even worse. I am hugely disappointed in the outcome of the track. And the disappointment is quite heavy, as I can hear so much potential in the instrumentation.

While I don’t enjoy the song, I thought the music video was a little better. I have warmed up to the visuals which I didn’t enjoy so much initially. The emphasis on the green was a nice pick, overall. But it was the filter that ruined everything, making the video feel pale and overwhelmingly bright. That feeling still stays with me but it isn’t as strong. I do still think the video is more on the bland side of the spectrum, as the close-ups and images of venus fly traps didn’t really add anything interesting to the video. To be honest, I felt the venus fly traps were a little odd, as they didn’t serve any meaning to the video, based on my knowledge.

The choreography was pretty good. I think the best word to describe it would be prance-y. I really like the dance break during the bridge, which was my favourite bit overall.

Song – 3/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 4.7/10

[Review] Crystal Ball – PURPLEBECK

Yesterday and today, I have covered debuts that I have missed back in May and onwards. I am determined to get out as many reviews for newly debut groups as possible before the weekend. So,  we will continue the release of reviews for these new groups. This one is a little more recent as it occurred early last week (24th of June). PURPLEBECK is a 5-member female group consisting of Yeowool, Mini, La Yeon, Yerim and Seyeon. They are currently under Majesty Entertainment and made their debut with Crystal Ball.

I have noticed that the majority of releases from new girl groups from smaller companies always end up falling into two categories if they choose the upbeat route: Cutesy or generic. Listening to the song, Crystal Ball doesn’t fit any of the two categories. So there is a level of uniqueness with their vocally driven debut track. The instrumental is rather typical, with a bright sound. But managing to get the song to shine so brightly are the vocals of the group. I was blown away the first time I listened to the track. While that feeling has simmered down, the vocals managed to deliver energy and intensities, which I think makes this track memorable. While I really like the harmonies and catchiness that comes from the chorus, the pre-chorus is probably my favourite bit. If I were to criticise the track in any way, I think the rapping could have been a little more interesting. If they managed to go a little harder during the rap section (which would better utilise the rapper’s voice), the song could have been perfect to me.

I have to admit, I did not expect such a bright song for a group were very edgy clothing. I was expecting something a lot darker and serious tone with their outfits, so things were surprising as they progressed. The start of the music video showed a very interesting sequence. A table set up in the middle of nowhere and 5 girls are sitting around the table. A strange clock starts ringing on the table and they all run away in different directions. While acting all bright and happy, the members end up finding red crystal balls, which they bring back to the table (which is now situated within a set). I find the concept to be very intriguing but it also seems to be an odd pairing. I think the concept would have been better suited with a more serious dance track that allows the mysterious vibes to be harnessed to their full potential.

There is a playful vibe to the choreography, which I quite liked. This compliments the fun vibes the song had. Overall, I thought it wasn’t too bad. The first chorus contained a little bit of Michael Jackson, which looked good.

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

[Double Review] savanna + Time Leap – OnlyOneOf

I think I am going to continue on with the catch up by focusing on the rookie groups that just made their debut. I do have a short list of them to cover and there aren’t any major comebacks that take precedence today, giving me time to actually do the catching up. Today’s review is focusing on the double title tracks (savanna & Time Leap) that OnlyOneOf made their debut with back at the end of May. The group consist of seven members (Nine, Love, Yoojung, KB, Mill, Rie and Junji) and are currently under RSVP.

To me, no matter how much I listen to savanna,  I cannot find anything interesting within the track that keeps me attracted to it or reels me in for further replays, similar to the comments I made in yesterday’s review. Despite that, there are a number of elements that do manage to stand out. The R&B instrumental made the song quite smooth textured. While it seems like the instrumental is the root of why I think the song was plain and bland, the smoothness allowed the melody to be quite pleasant. And this resulted in the showcase of nice vocals and decent rapping from the group.

Time Leap is another melodic song. But it is completely different from savanna as it delves into a pop route and I thought it was a little more captivating. To me, the instrumental felt like a blank canvas, as it once again didn’t have anything interesting within it. With that analogy, the vocals and rapping ended up being the paint strokes. They actually sound quite good with the rap sequences having a little more intensity and the harmonies allowed the vocals to be showed off with more definition. With its consistent nature, I felt like the only image that the group could have amounted to in Time Leap was a black and white image. But it is a start and I like the song. 

For a smooth and decently paced track, savanna’s music video had a lot going on. The various visual effects and overlays could have been reduced as I think the music video showed a more than necessary edgy tone. But I really liked the aesthetics of the video that was formed thanks to the visual effects. I think if they managed to strike a balance to the dark lighted music video, I think savanna, as a whole package, could have been a little more likeable. As for the Time Leap, the music video is less aesthetic. However, the cinematography during the more professional shots was really cool. They also included some ‘home video’ style shots, which was nice. But I felt like that stripped away the aesthetics. Nothing really happened in this video, which did leave it on the boring side of the spectrum. But still visually looked good.

While I have been praising Time Leap so far, their performance is a bore. As much as I understand that they had a slow song to start with, the performance ended up making things a lot slower. savanna, however, had the more captivating performance. Sure, the more intense moves didn’t fit as well with the song. But it looked more intriguing and fits the type of performance I like to see from male groups.

savanna
Song – 6/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.4/10

Time Leap
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.6/10

[Review] Let’s Get Loud – We In The Zone

The next artist to review as part of the catch-up is a new rookie group who made their debut back on the 27th of May of this year. We In The Zone (also known as WITZ) is a 5 member male group under Choon Entertainment. The group consist of Eson, Jooan, Min, Kyeongheon and Shihyun. The group’s debut title track is Let’s Get Loud, which is featured on their first mini-album which shares the same name as the group themselves.

I am not going to lie just because of this their first song. But I hate to be harsh for the exact same reason. A crucial element lacking in Let’s Get Loud is boldness. The presence of boldness will flow onto other areas of the track that I commonly think of when I write these reviews. And without boldness, you will get left with a plain and unmemorable track. That is the song in a nutshell. And after one month of its release, I think it is fair to say that this is a lacklustre debut. Not many tracks get time to grow on me before I write its review but Let’s Get Loud just didn’t have anything for me to warm up to. Many elements fell short of expectations set just by the title alone. For example, I had expected the instrumental to have a rush of energy and ignite the need to shout or party. But the instrumental we ended up hearing was conventional and didn’t excite me. The vocals and rapping were good, showcasing some potential. But some parts (such as the ‘Let’s Get Loud‘ in the chorus) felt unenergetic and unexciting. The ‘Better Po-Po-Pose‘ in the chorus (which came off more as a ‘Pum-Pum-Pum-ma‘) was drowned out by the instrumental (which wasn’t even that loud). There were no strong hooks to reel me in. I think there is enough for you to understand my overall thoughts.

One thing I did remember about the lead up to their debut was that it was announced very early on. I remember very well putting the date into my calendar. But apart from that, I don’t recall teasers or images in the lead up to their debut. Not really the best foot forward if you ask me for a newly debuting group. But despite the lack of pre-debut momentum, the music video actually turned out quite nice. I really like the small drawings that appear on the screen, which highlights their moves and details during their close-ups. The video had nice cinematography, as well. The peak of the track has to be the breaking of the sunglasses (that loud crack). I liked how it was handled in the video, as I thought it was passed over too quickly in the actual audio.

Like the song, I didn’t see too much in the performance to really make any comments on. I did like how they brought the cracking of the sunglasses onto the stage for some of the performances, while others didn’t have that element. So the song ended up incorporating a camera shutter sound. Though, breaking the sunglasses to add a hint of boldness to the comeback, which I guess makes up for some of the flaws of the song.

Song – 4/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 5.5/10

[Review] Room Shaker – Ailee

If you have only become a KPOP fan in the last year, chances are you haven’t heard of Ailee. Known for amazingly powerful vocals, Ailee has proven herself to be an artist to keep an eye out for. Tracks like I Will Show You, U&I, If You and many others are just solid proof of that. Today, she returned for the first time in 2 years with Room Shaker, the title track from her second studio album, Butterfly. This is her first comeback since her 2017 single (Reminiscing) and her very popular OST hit, I Will Go to You Like the First Snow.

I think the majority of her tracks that made her popular prior to 2017 either delved into the pop genre or were a ballad to showcase her vocals. But with a long absence from the music scene standing in her way, Ailee could only return with either a sound that makes people remember her more successful tracks or a sound that is completely different but extremely memorable. Room Shaker chooses the latter option, with Ailee redefining her usual sound. It focuses on a powerful hip–hop sound that does not hold back. I think one of the star attractions has to be the instrumentation. It is energetic and acts as a memorable hook, especially the brass-heavy post-chorus section. She raps in the track, which is something new from the solo artist if I am not mistaken. One of my favourite parts has to be the ‘Go Merry Go Round‘ whisper in the second verse. And while it is a hip-hop track, her vocals do manage to be another star attraction. Her high note brought back fond memories of her high notes from the past. Overall, I thought this was a successful return music-wise for Ailee, who definitely reminded me why I missed her.

With an edgy sound like in Room Shaker, you expect something equally as edgy in the video. Otherwise, the video would have completely missed the plot. However, Room Shaker hits the bullseye. It is definitely edgy and there is a lot of the attitude visually in this video, perfect for the track. And there is a literal shakeup in the classroom for this comeback, which goes hand-in-hand with both the lyrics (having a good time) and the title. Ailee looks amazing in the video as well, with all her close-ups leaving a stunning image of her in your mind.

And with an energy-filled song, the choreography is something to look out for. I really liked how the moves got her going low just for the first chorus. The second and final choruses didn’t have her repeating the same moves, as this will keep the first chorus looking impactful each time we see it. I think the moves during her post-chorus dance breaks were awesome and her back-up dancer seat lift was an awesome way to present the high note.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Review] That’s Okay – D.O (EXO)

To me, a missed opportunity with EXO is the lack of solo promotions for the Korean members. It wasn’t until this year, 7 years after their debut, are they finally focusing on solo promotion, given that it will be the main driver for EXO’s immediate future. This is because of impending military enlistment. Xiumin enlisted earlier this year and the next member to follow him (shockingly) is D.O. For those who don’t know, today is actually D.O’s enlistment date. And to coincide with his departure from the public eye for the next 2 years, D.O also released a special single as part of SM Station.

That’s Okay is the title of this special single. And being a solo single, That’s Okay puts D.O’s slightly raspy voice on full display. I like it how the song isn’t sung in a straight forward manner. There are some textural aspects present thanks to the melody and the way he ended some lines, allowing him to showcase some techniques that he never got a chance to show off within EXO releases. The way he harmonises with himself is also beautiful, a very obvious sign of a good ballad. Knowing that is he is one of the main vocalists of the group, it is expected that the single would be a ballad. But it is a good ballad. It is mainly acoustic, with guitars being the only instrument in the instrumental. And I like it this way because it doesn’t sound overly emotional, which could have been a cliche thing to do. The lyrics also don’t go into an emotional overdrive, with D.O telling you that time will heal all wounds, regardless of how deep they are.

The music video for this release is animation. I am not sure if there are any laws that prevent D.O from appearing in the music video (as Xiumin did for his single), given the complexity of military enlistment, as it would have been nice to see him one last time (before he goes away for two years). But the animation was quite nice. A guy finds a sad looking cactus and brings it home. His nurture over time helped heal its limp nature and it regained some flowers. On the flipside, it was revealed that the guy lost his dog and this caused him to stay indoors. And I am certain the flowering cactus ended up nurturing him over time, showing him that no matter what state you are in, there is always a way to get back up. You just got to let time do its thing.

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