[Review] Under My Skin – Taemin (SHINee)

For this week’s Japanese review, we will be covering Taemin’s Under My Skin, which the music video was released last week, despite the actual album being released digitally on the 5th of November. Under My Skin is one of the lead title tracks off Taemin’s first solo album, titled after the singer himself. The other two singles are Eclipse and Mars. You may recognise some other tracks on the album including the Japanese versions of Taemin’s Korean hits such as Drip Drop, Press Your Number and Danger.

Unlike any of his other singles,  Under My Skin focuses on one major element, vocals. And this emphasis creates an epic song. Sure, they may not be powerhouse vocals like from other vocalists in the industry. But they are definitely very strong. The song is a ballad but it mixes in some soft yet grand electronic influences throughout the song. Combining this with some piano and drums, and you have what I would consider being a modern take on a ballad. But it is his vocals that make the song feel loaded and aesthetically pleasing. I like that throughout the song his vocals done push into a higher note, which keeps the song grounded yet extravagant in many ways. While I do enjoy this track (and style choice), I do think this choice is rather mediocre in comparison to his Korean releases. I feel like the linked Korean releases in the introductory were much more impactful and well suited for Taemin.

There isn’t much to the video besides the fact that is quite aesthetically pleasing. Taemin is shown to be singing on top of a mirror, which is placed along the beach or a field. The strong breeze makes everything feel so cool and epic, though I am not much of a fan of his black outfit. His red jacket though.. We don’t have much choreography in the song but the ending was extended to allow Taemin to do his thing in the dance department. You don’t really get to see much, however, as it is cut short due to the presence of more closeup shots of Taemin and well, it is too dark to really see anything.

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

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[Review] DREAM NOTE – DreamNote

One of my goals for the next year is to work on my scheduling of reviews. Particularly debuts from much smaller companies. I tend to wait a few weeks in order to write the reviews (and I don’t really have a good enough excuse to why I do so). So while I am trying to work that out, let’s have a closer look at DreamNote, who is a female group from iME KOREA. The group is made up of 8 members (Sumin, Eunjo, Habin, Lara, Hanbyeol, Miso, Youi and Boni). and their debut track shares the same name as their group name, DREAM NOTE.

For me, DREAM NOTE sticks out for some reasons but becomes hidden for others. The group’s debut single is of the cutesy nature that literally made me cringe during my first listen.  Their vocals seemed mediocre at best throughout the song. There just didn’t seem to be any impressive moments. However, the song has a decent hook that I can see growing on me. And the instrumental of the song isn’t all cutesy. There is a potential for a powerful song, given the instrumental of the song. I also find the saxophone at the end of the song adding a nice touch that felt just right then and there (probably my favourite section has to be the final chorus onwards with the presence of the saxophones to thank for that).

And as expected, the music video is full of colour. That is the common side order that you will get when it comes to a cutesy song. The girls are also acting cutesy, which is expected. The entire video is about them trying to find some objects to put into those toy capsule machine to obtain a key that opens the door. In a way, similar to an escape room type of concept. They just have a lot of un along the way. My only problem, they could have saved the trouble, turned the knob and the key would have still come out without the addition of the pebbles and a pomegranate. They probably took the longest time of all the participants and one of the girls lost a tooth along the way. Damn.

The performance I watched for this review showed the members have very strong vocals, especially with a fast paced and high energy dance like this one. I really like the chanting them did at the very end, which I thought was very uplifting and nice. As for the dance, nothing too impressive but still decent to watch.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.2/10

[Review] I Hate You – HOTSHOT

Since their last comeback with Jelly (released in July 2017). a lot has happened with the members of HOTSHOT. Taehyun joined JBJ who promoted for a period of a few months before disbanding in April of this year. Timoteo and Hojung participated on The Unit: Idol Rebooting Project and placed 10th and 3rd place respectively. As a result, Hojung joined the show’s male project group, UNB. Despite all of this, HOTSHOT has regrouped (with the exception of Sungwoon, who is still a part of Wanna One) with the release of I Hate You.

I lowkey was expecting something along the lines of Jelly, which actually became quite addictive over time with the subtle aesthetics of the synths. I Hate You is a completely different song. It doesn’t rely on synths or electronic sounds, which is already a big difference. It feels more like a ballad, just there is enough in the instrumentation to allow the song to feature some choreography. The song is emotionally driven, which you can hear through their vocals. Their vocals are quite nice in the song. It isn’t the powerful vocals that I tend to prefer when it comes to ballads but it was enough to make me feel different feelings as the song progressed. I really like the “니가 미워” (nega miwo) hook at the very start of the chorus. There is something about it that makes it so beautiful and I quite like that.

The lyrics of the song essentially show their heartbreak and frustrations towards a lover who left unexpectedly. And the video does that. But instead of using the same ‘let’s film her physically walking away from the members’ over and over again, the video uses different ways to show that. While there were some cliche shots in the video, such as the girl disappearing around a corner, the video saw more creative ways such as having the lead actress die in one of their arms to represent ‘leaving’. I really like the contrast of colours throughout the video. The warm golden colour represents their happy moments but the darker scenes showcased loneliness and coldness. It is a well thought-out video.

As expected, the performance didn’t fall into a ballad category and featured choreography. I liked how sharp the chorus looked. While the song doesn’t really call for that, it worked in an interesting manner alongside the song. I also liked how the choreography didn’t feel constricting. The speed at which their movements were performed at and the wide motions really made the video feel quite strong.

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

[Review] Stealer – D-CRUNCH

D-CRUNCH made their debut in August of this year with Palace. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to reviewing Palace. Luckily, D-CRUNCH announced their first comeback with Stealer and today will be having a closer look at Stealer. For those who don’t know the group, they are a 9-member male group under All-S Company. The members are Hyunwook,. Hyunho, O.V, Minhyuk, Hyunwoo, Hyunoh, Chanyoung, Jungseung and Dylan.

The first thing about the song that jumps out at me is its intensity. For a group with more rappers than vocalists, this intensity at the forefront of the song is expected. I like how they infused the electronic music genre with hip-hop but there were moments in the instrumental that felt exotic, reminding me of BLOCK B’s Nilli Mambo. And like Nilli Mambo, there were also moments that felt theatrical and grand. The many rappers bring an overwhelming rough texture to the song yet each of their sections is individualistic and this allows the intensity to grow exponentially. The vocalists also shine despite it being a rap-dominant song with their choruses and pre-choruses being clear and very melodic in a way that matches the rest of the song. Altogether, the song proves that this rookie group has potential and talent in a variety of domains.

The music video lives up to the music. The level of intensity of the song is matched by the edginess in the music video. I think there was a plotline to the video somewhere in the midst of all the choreography and closeup shots but it wasn’t easily decipherable due to its limited screen time (I think they were searching for something). Putting that aside, I thought the editing for this video was pretty cool. I liked how the transition matched the pre-chorus melody and instrumental moments. I like how dark the video felt, which goes back to that obvious edgy vibe. Maybe if they focused more on the plotline as the song does feel theatrical enough for one, the video would have had an extra level of appeal.

The choreography itself was quite good. But I couldn’t stop thinking that they could have done more. The performance I watched seemed to focus on live vocals (which were quite stable), so this limited the level of intensity their dance routine could of have. I wanted to see the torches on the stage as I thought their torch opener in the music video looked really cool but that was removed due to time limitations. If they managed to match the energy/ in the music video, I think this would have been a winning performance.

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

[Review] SOLO – Jennie (BLACKPINK)

This is not a drill. But BLACKPINK is returning! Just not as a quartet this time around. Instead, it has been confirmed by YG Entertainment that each member will be making their solo debut. Jennie’s solo release kicks off the series of solo debuts for each member with the title track titled appropriately, SOLO. We last heard from BLACKPINK via their smashing hit, DDU-DU DDU-DU.

This is one unique song. And I am really liking it. But before we jump into a shocking in-depth description, I must apologise for my lack of music terminology. This is going to be really hard. I thought the song had a nice minimisalitc vibe, especially in the opening verse. I also like those spaced out tapping (cannot think of the right word here) sounds which give off a classy yet epic vibe. Very ear-catching. I thought the pre-choruses was nailed perfectly. Her vocals just sound so good during this section. The chorus takes a turn and drops that minimalistic vibe. Instead, the aesthetics here are turned up, giving Jennie an opportunity to showcase some dance. I actually enjoyed the ‘SOLO LOLOLO‘ hook. I thought her rapping was on point and very sleek. I was hoping for the final chorus to have more a kick but they maintained the same chorus (with slight changes), which I didn’t mind. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was different yet so appealing.

So, the message behind the song is confidence. More specifically (and I quote this from SOOMPI): “Many women are in a relationship where they give up a lot of things just to be loved by someone else. But even though they put in a lot of effort, in many cases, it will return to them as pain. The song talks about being free rather than making up a fake version of yourself.” So the video shows two sides of Jennie. The first is showing her as hurt and in pain. The second is confident and strong. And this was rather cool. I liked the way the video was shot, with the cinematography being a major highlight for me. I actually enjoyed her final dance scene with the 20+ backup dancers. Jennie stood out in that crowd but yet the aesthetic of it was just through the roof.

The choreography for this looks amazing. I personally want to see how this would look on stage because the choreography for the first chorus looked more freestyle. But for the second and final choruses, I thought everything looked bold and very charismatic, obviously the exact vibes that Jennie was going for.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.8/10 

[Review] Beautiful Pain – BTOB

BTOB has a few releases under their belt this year already. The group returned with Only One For Me and BTOB-BLUE made their subunit comeback with When It Rains. Now, BTOB has returned with a special mini-album, whBTOBich is titled HOUR MOMENT and the title track Beautiful Pain. This is the group’s first comeback since Eunkwang unexpectedly enlisted in the military back in August 2018.

BTOB makes their return with a ballad, which was not that unexpected. Beautiful Pain, from the title alone, just screams out ballad. And with BTOB’s known songs being mainly ballads, it was the obvious choice. And with BTOB’s known capabilities, this is a powerhouse ballad.  Even with the lack of one strong set of vocals, the three remaining vocalists (Changsub, Sungjae and Hyunsik) do an amazing job of filling that void. I think honourable mentions have to go to Hyunsik and Changsub in the vocal domain. During the bridge, Hyunsik brings his deep husky vocals along that are so captivating and Changsub belts out this amazing high note. I was a little concerned with the rapping but Peniel, Ilhoon and Minhyuk do a wonderful job with each of their sections. My favourite has to be Minhyuk’s buildup. Overall, I really thought the group did an amazing job with Beautiful pain. You can hear the pain through each of their parts and the melody during the chorus was just so nice. The instrumentation wasn’t that special but everything else stands out.

The group sings about the bittersweet ends to their relationship. And as I mentioned in the above paragraph, their emotions could be felt. The same thing goes for the video. There were bittersweet moments when the leading actress makes her appearance around the members but the BTOB members remain in the ‘present’ moment of unable to let go. I think the most impactful moment of the entire video was when Sungjae had the sheets over his head and paced his way around the apartment. It was well shot and I liked the darkness of the video, which really made it more powerful. I also thought Hyunsik’s high note was well planned and incorporated into the video.

I am unsure if BTOB is going to promote this as it is a ‘special mini-album’ and I am not too sure how a dance would be incorporated if this was performed on stage (though BTOB has surprised me on many occasions before regarding this). I will return if there is a need to update this section.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.7/10

[Review] Jealous – TVXQ

TVXQ has a very extensive career in Japan. While their Korean releases have been dropped down to once a year (or in some cases once every few years), the duo continually releases new Japanese songs. Their last release was in the form of their ninth studio album, Tomorrow, which features the singles Reboot (which I previously reviewed) and Road. Today, we will be looking at a much newer release, Jealous, which has yet to feature on any album.

It is genuinely nice to see a Japanese release not depending on EDM of any kind. Jealous instead employs a very dramatic flair and some deep brass to really make the song pop. And I like this unique sound, as it quite cool. The verses were a little plain for my liking. Other parts were a lot more likeable. The pre-chorus was a little different, reminding me of chanting (without the chanting – if that makes any sense). And the chorus was spectacular. It was simple yet it was extremely dynamic. Here, you can hear the dramatic nature the most and the use of higher pitched vocals gave it a very edgy vibe. The bridge of the song was probably the weakest part of the song. It felt too similar to the rest of the song and didn’t feel like a pivotal point in the song. But besides that, Jealous is a pretty decent song.

I am unsure if the set is real or if it fake (i.e. CGI). It looks so good and I want Korean music videos to start adopting these sets as they will really kick the ‘box sets to the next level. I like how the sets were very classy looking and TVXQ were extremely good-looking in their close-ups. I also liked how they brought a dark theme to the video. I also thought their ‘casual’ wear scenes were very fitting. Overall, it was a very good music video.

I think the moment that stole the show for me was the second chorus when the two of them were dancing with the female backup dancers. For some reason, that felt rather different and I liked their different feel. It was a nice performance overall.

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

[Review] Those Days – K.Will

K.Will made his return earlier this week with the second half of his fourth studio album. The first half, Part 1. Nonfiction, was released last year with Nonfiction as the main title track. The second half of the album is titled Part 2. 想像 (Mood Indigo) and it features the title track, Those Days (그땐 그댄). In the lead up to the album, K.Will also released some singles, which you can also find on the album, such as My Star (which I previously reviewed).

Something that I have not heard much of so far this Fall season are ballads. This is quite odd given that we are almost at the end of the perfect ballad season. So when K.Will confirmed his comeback, I was highly anticipating a great ballad. And that is exactly what we got. His vocals are so damn good in this song, it leaves me breathless. A major reason why I really like K.Will’s voice is that he puts so much emotion behind them. This song is just even more proof of that. The song’s melody is very beautiful, particularly around the chorus. I think that there may be some backing vocals in the chorus and his harmonies are amazing. Finally the instrumental was amazing. Nothing beats a graceful orchestral piece for a ballad. Given that K.Will’s forte is ballads (in my opinion – he also really good R&B songs), he did not disappoint.

The music video features Yoo Yeon Seok as the lead actor, who is a suit tailor. While meeting one of his customers, he meets his ex-girlfriend (who has clearly moved on). Nonetheless, he continues with his job despite looking a tad unhappy. Throughout the video, we see flashbacks of their happy relationship but we don’t get to see why they broke up. Back in the present day, the two awkwardly ignore each other. The girl notices a fishbowl, the same bowl that she bought back in the day for another fish. This brings backs memories, which cause her to shed a tear. Once the job was complete, the couple leave. However, it seems like she wants to say something to her ex prior to leaving but he gives her a smile instead, to tell her everything is okay. I think the acting was wonderful in the video. I also liked how they slow motioned everything to an appropriate speed for the song but also making the video feel impactful.

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

 

[Review] Knock Knock (TAK remix) – MXM

MXM has returned with a brand new single today. Knock Knock was previously released as part of the duo’s first studio album, More Than Ever, back in August of this year. Today, the duo dropped the TAK remix version of the song. For this review, there may be some comparison between the two versions, as I don’t review the remixed versions of any songs on this site. MXM previously returned with Ya Ya Ya in August, as well.

The original version of Knock Knock had a light feel and almost a bright atmosphere during the verses. And that was quite nice. It is just the EDM in the song didn’t feel grand but rather typical. While I never wrote an album review for this release, I did like the fade out and its transition to classical did give it a defining feature. The remixed version is a complete change. It featured a more intense dubstep sound and this resulted into a darker vibe from the song. And I actually like this version a bit more as dubstep isn’t something that I hear all too often. The vocals and rapping were practically the same between the versions, where both sounded quite nice. What I was personally interested was the ending of the song, which I mentioned above. While they did keep some of that piano as heard in the original, they incorporated some synths in order to keep it from being too distant, which makes the song well balanced. Overall, it was quite nice.

Fitting in with the darker sound is the darker visuals. MXM’s releases for this year (besides Gone Cold) have been quite bright and colourful. Here, there is a particular hazy filter placed over the top of the video, which made everything feel darker and dull. The sets were typical of most music videos but they felt fitting for the aesthetics of the video. In the entire video, I thought the entire sequence where the duo danced by themselves (i..e without the backup dancers) looked quite cool and basically summarised the entire vibe of the music video in a matter of seconds. It is a good video, fitting for the song.

It would be disappointing to see a dance routine for a song titled Knock Knock without some knocking. But don’t worry, there was some knocking action in the routine. While I liked that, I thought the performance was really well done. When the music got intense, their moves did as well. When the music was lightened, it felt lighter and the moves were a lot more fluid. While that seems to be a no-brainer, there have been a few performances that don’t follow this and I find such dances lacking and incomplete. But not this one!

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

[Review] Forever Yours – Key (SHINee) ft. Soyou

With schedules for group comebacks becoming more spaced out for many established groups (particularly for male groups due to mandatory enlistment), many members have turned to solo careers. SHINee happens to be one of these groups. Dramas and solo music careers can be placed under the names of the other members but Key has only dabbled in variety shows. Now, he is officially making his solo debut this month and as a special pre-release, Key has released a collaboration with his good friend Soyou titled as Forever Yours.

Following their group promotions with three title tracks and one special repackaged release single, Key’s pre-release is a tropical house EDM styled song. And given the current competition, his song fails to really break any boundaries and stand out. The instrumental is nice but it doesn’t offer anything new to really be amazed at. What does keep this song quite fresh, however, are the vocals of both Key and Soyou. I have to admit that his voice feels very plain in this song. However, with Soyou’s husky vocals and the parts where both of them sing together, their voices brings a nice dynamic to the picture. I liked how Key’s voice was at the forefront of their duet moments, while Souyou’s husky voice stands out from the back. Other than that, I don’t have much else to say about the song.

And like SHINee’s music video, Key takes a fast-paced ride into space in his car. It felt the same producer or director played a part in this video. I really liked the retro feel in this video. The fonts and styles choices of the words that you see in the video remind me of various movie posters and really cringy fonts back in the day. The visuals are quite abstract and I have no clue on how to interpret this odd concoction of visuals. I am a little disappointed that Soyou didn’t appear in the video, which would have been nice if she did.

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

[Review] Not That Type – Gugudan

Making their comeback today is Gugudan. They have returned with their fifth mini-album, Act 05. New Action and the title track, Not That Type. Since their last full comeback back in February of this year with The Boots, the group launched a new subunit, Gugudan SEMINA, consisting of Sejeong, Mina and Nayoung. They have also one member less (making Gugudan an 8-member group now), as Hyeyon left the group last month for personal reasons.

With the ongoing trend of exuding confidence, Not That Type is Gugudan’s way of doing so. It is a fierce song that really implants itself into my mind after the first listen. And that is definitely a good thing in this current competitive industry. I like how they used the consistent backbone in the instrumental throughout the song. But they managed to keep it from being repetitive and dry by layering other stuff on top, such as the brass (which I am totally digging) in the pre-chorus. This song boasts great vocals from all the members, which goes hand-in-hand with their confidence message. I think the one thing the song is lacking, which would have made the song even better, was an epic rap sequence. The best part of this entire song has to be the bridge. It fits the song in an unexpecting way and manages to return to its original state from a complete slowdown. Overall, it is a damn good song.

And their music video is just so damn edgy. I really like the urban feel the video had going. I really liked the setting of the video, which already sets it apart from other videos, as they didn’t use any sets that we commonly see or are known to be ‘overused’. I also like their edgy visuals, which suits the song so well. Their charisma and the fierceness that the members alone put into the video was enough to already make it promising. So the combination of all the visual aspects worked wonderfully.

The performance was quite nice. I liked how they split up at the very start into the two smaller groups. You tend to see that for male groups but not so much for female groups. I thought the routine was very energetic, suiting that side of the song quite nicely.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Review] YES or YES – TWICE

TWICE is back and needless to say, they have already risen to the top of all the digital charts with their latest title track, YES or YES. The track is featured on their 6th mini-album, which shares the same name as the song. This is also TWICE’s 3rd comeback of the year, with What Is Love? and Dance The Night Away also topping charts as soon as they were released.

YES or YES is a very upbeat and energetic song that is very hard to get out of your head after the first listen. At least, that was the case for me. To me, their songs have been getting better and better each time. The song is about confidence and the way they present this pop song oozes with confidence. The verses were nice but the winning part of all TWICE songs has to be the chorus. I like the way they bring every together for the choruses and give us this chanting like effect to the hook of the song. I also like the way they managed to split the lines between members, which give the song some nice textures, as everyone has unique voices. I think I was only let down by one section of the song as it was that part following the ‘Its Simple. Y.E.S.” line in the bridge. I personally didn’t like the way it sounded and thought it unnecessarily extended the song. But that is only minute as the rest of the song makes up for this.

I am completely falling for the visuals of the video. I love the sets (I think some of them are green screened) and the members look stunning. Some of the outfits remind me of their Like Ooh Aah days. Initially, I wasn’t too keen on the haunted theme they had going on. It seemed like they were going down that route for a while, especially with the teasers and Jeongyeon’s creepy driving introduction. But I was rather glad that they deviated from that and had something more light-hearted and fun, which definitely suits their style and song more.

The choreography for this looks amazing. From the very start of the song, the choreography routine looked action-packed, which completely goes well with the song’s upbeat nature. I think it is one of their best performances as a whole yet. I really like the way they transferred between Jeongyeon and Momo during the choruses. Actually, the entire chorus is stunning.

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

[Review] What Do I Do? – SPECTRUM

SPECTRUM has returned to the stage for the first time since their debut with Light It Up. It is also their first comeback since the tragic loss of their rapper, Kim Dong Yoon, who passed away in July of this year. The news was very unexpecting and I wondered how the group was going to proceed, particularly since they just started. But I am glad that they are doing well enough for a comeback. Their latest title track. What Do I Do?, is featured on the group’s second mini-album, Timeless Moment.

What Do I Do? is one of the songs that has a really good build-up but a very underwhelming chorus. But more on that a little later on. The song starts off with the classic mix of piano and electronic. Very nostalgic. The verses follow quite nicely, with the verses showcasing a good set of vocals from the two members. We continue the vocal momentum with the really well-polished pre-chorus, with the constant beats and the falsetto combination. And now, we approach my initial comments. The drop to the chorus was fine. It is just the repetitive nature of the chorus that causes it to go bland and feel lacking its dynamic nature. We get raps in the second verse and a softer rap sequence during the bridge. Both sounded quite nice. Together, it makes the song quite promising. But the chorus is the main problem.

While I think the video could have had a lot more going on in it, what they did deliver was quite good. I like the way they started with the one guy (sorry, I don’t know any names to the members) walking alone into the abandoned setting, which I recognise to be that set with the concrete staircases. A lot of music videos this year was shot there. I like the way they transitioned between that introductory segment to the actual start of the performance. The rest of the video showcased closeups under coloured lights, which I thought were cool but quite typical and your standard choreography shots.

The performance was good but it wasn’t that impressive. I mean, it felt fitting for the song. But I felt the amount of work the members were putting in for the chorus could have been more worthwhile under an intense sounding chorus. I did like the way they started the entire dance routine.

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

[Album Review] WISH (3rd Mini Album) – Golden Child

Golden Child returned at the end of the October with their 3rd comeback of the year. I had the opportunity to review all of their mini-album and single album releases for 2018 and I knew I had to do the same for this one. The album is titled as WISH, with the title track Genie, which obviously goes hand-in-hand. The album contains 7 tracks in total, with the first being an intro track. Like always, I have omitted the intro track from the album review.

goldenchild-wish-2
WISH Album Cover

2. Genie (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Genie. (8/10)

3. Eyes On YouEyes On You is better than their title track, in my opinion. It is an energetic electronic track that uses staggering and distortion in its instrumental as its main tactic to make the song quite unique. And while I thought that was pretty cool, they throw in some electric guitars to bring some more life to the song, which was already upbeat (but potentially too electronic and sci-fi sounding). The vocal work was amazing, and the rap sequence was on point! I have listened to this song a number of times already and I just enjoy its uplifting and bright nature. (10/10)

4. I See You – This track is a slight step back to more typical terrain. It brings the electronic instrumentation, but it doesn’t employ any of the unique tactics from Eyes On You, going for a more typical or standard feel. This is no means is a bad thing. Once again, I thought the vocals and raps were really good for this song. The winning section has to be the verses, with the fraction of the verse reminding me of the melody of Lady (which was another amazing b-side track from Golden Child, earlier this year). (9/10)

5. Listen – While this is the group’s most passable track on the album, it is still really good. It is a pop ballad, with guitars at the very forefront of the song that is mixed with a few synths. But the song remains distinctly on its acoustic side, which is quite nice. There were good vocals and the rapping was well fitted for the song. I like how they all come together at the end, which rounds out the song very nicely. I just didn’t feel too much connection to the song. (7.5/10)

6. You Turn Me On Baby – The most questionable title for the group thus far must go to this track. Looking at the tracklist, I questioned its nature and was very glad when I heard its bright and upbeat nature, which is very Golden Child-esque. I don’t think I am personally ready to hear what I initially thought of from the group. But it will happen one day. I thought the instrumental was very clean. The vocals and raps were clear, and nothing felt out of place. (8/10)

7. Would You Be My – This is their ballad for the track. Would You Be My felt like an incomplete title but once you listen to the song, it makes sense. I thought the ‘Would You Be My’ soothing hook was my favourite section of the entire song. Actually, the entire song is quite calming, and it was a very nice track to end with, especially with the upbeat songs we had all before this track. I really liked the ad-libs and the rapping (which gave the song something I personally didn’t know was missing – until I heard it, of course)! (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

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[Review] I Am – Lee Hong Gi (FT Island) ft. Cheetah

As previously mentioned, I will be posting a review for Lee Hong Gi’s collaboration with Cheetah. It actually took a lot longer than expected due to various reasons and I apologise for that. I Am was released a week before Lee Hong Gi’s official solo comeback, Cookie, was released. It is one of the three collaborations on his solo mini album, Do n Do.

Now, this is a collaboration that really works. Lee Hong Gi brings his perfect vocals to the party, while Cheetah brings her well-known rapping style (which felt more like rap-speak for this song. But I am not too troubled as I thought was an excellent touch for this song). And the two really drive the song forward. The party occurs over a really funky backdrop which has brass and energetic vibes which really make the song feel impactful. The song is quite catchy and the chorus is engraved into my mind. It has to come to the point where I become very excited when I know I am going to be listening to the song. And the way they overlap each other at the end of the song, gave the song the perfect ending in my opinion.

The song felt like a party but I didn’t really get that feel from the video. Both Cheetah and Hong Gi sat in a barn and then stood in front of a green screen. I did like the camera work during the scenes in the barn, with the zoom-ins and panning really making up for the lack of liveliness in the video. However, I was less impressed with the camera work in front of the green screen, as it felt too shaky for my liking.

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

[Review] Tempo – EXO

EXO is officially back with their first comeback in over a year. Usually, EXO makes at least one comeback before the end of the Summer, which has been the case for a few years now. So once Summer ended, I noticed a lot of concerns and memes appear online (such as the group’s continuous performances of Ko Ko Bop and Power – when we last saw them). Their title track, Tempo, is featured on the group’s 5th studio album, Don’t Mess Up My Tempo and it also the first comeback to feature Lay since Lotto.

Bare with me, as the song contains a number of individual parts that were pieced together with hopes to make a decent song. And for the most part, the producers did a good job. Unfortunately, some parts just didn’t work for me. The song started off with an intro, which felt like typical but featured Chen’s heavenly vocals. We then get thrown straight into the very addictive chorus, which is accompanied by squeaking sounds (with how you perceive the squeaky effect directly affecting the way you perceive the lyrics of the song). We then approach the deep-voiced section (performed by Xiumin in the first verse and Baekhyun in the second verse). This attracted a massive ‘no’ response from me. The rapping follows with Sehun and Chanyeol (in their respective verses) doing an amazing job with their sections. Vocals follow after each rap section but I am not amazed by that. I am, however, amazed at the bridge of the song, which slows down the tempo at first and then managed to throw in some acapella. The concern is that does mess with the tempo, contradicting the ‘Don’t Mess With My Tempo’ hook. But it sounds amazing. I did like the way they brought us back to the original chorus to really bring it home and feel upbeat once again. The instrumentation was funky but changed as it went along, adjusting its ‘tempo’, for example. To be honest, the song is a mess. It is a good mess, just with some unnecessary parts.

I wonder what their concept is for this comeback. Their teasers hinted towards motorcycles but that doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of the visuals for this comeback. What I saw was very edgy and seemed to be very aesthetic, using a lot of traditional elements for a KPOP music video. I quite like the video for that. I personally think each member looked really amazing in this comeback, including Lay who was featured in a few scenes (scarcely, however). Everything in this video seems to very elaborate, resulting in a very detailed production. I also liked how everything changed accordingly to the tempo of the song, which I thought was rather cool.

The winning part of this entire comeback is the dance performance. I thought the chorus was extremely dynamic and looked amazing on stage. The performance from today saw the members wear military outfits, so that confused me even more, in terms of the concept. I liked their energy and power they had behind each move and enjoyed the details throughout the dance during the acapella section.

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