[Review] Fear – SEVENTEEN

SEVENTEEN is back and you all will probably know this is the comeback I am most excited for. We were all teased with their upcoming mature and dark sound through their pre-release single, HIT, which was released at the start of August. Today, the group released their official title track, titled Fear, which is the first to extend this dark and mature concept into the main promotional track. Furthermore, the title track is featured on the group’s 3rd full-length album, An Ode. The group will also embark into their first world tour later this year.

I am not exactly sure where to start with the song. I am overwhelmed with so many emotions because of this comeback. It took me a number of listens since its release to really get into the groove of the song. I found it slightly underwhelming, in comparison to their more impactful tracks like Getting Closer and HIT. Fear seems to take what those tracks started and gave it a melodic twist. And it is was this melody that allowed the song to focus more on the vocals throughout. The rapping was there but it didn’t feel like a main element to the song. On the topic of rapping and vocals, I thought these elements were quite cool. I liked how loaded and rough the instrumental felt, which definitely gives off a lot of texture. Jeonghan and Joshua had the best parts of the track, with their whispering sections adding a whole new level of suspense to the song. But I wanted more impact, as I mentioned, with that underwhelming feeling still hanging around.

Order up on an artistic video. The teasers gave us a little snippet into it and I totally saw this coming. I am not exactly sure what the video is trying to tell us (I will leave that to all the dedicated Carats out there), but there is a story within this video. The Jeonghan and Joshua scenes were very cool and I am glad they got the spotlight they deserved. In addition to that, the members look awesome. The aesthetics give them a whole new look that was quite unimaginable before. Masculine and attractive are just some of the words I would use to describe the members in this video. Might even throw in mysterious, given the way the ‘story’ is presented to us. I also liked how they expanded and constricted the frame of the video as it went on. It was something a little different. I also liked how they changed the orientation of the video for some scenes.

The performance is intense in a very subtle manner. It doesn’t feel like the choreography this time relies on any bold moves as SEVENTEEN always use. Instead, the moves we would usually consider bold was quite tame and subtle. But everything together makes it into an intense. I really like how they show the ‘poison’ (alternative English title for this track) by using their hands at the start, chorus and end of the performance.

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

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[Double Review] Workaholic + 25 – BOL4

Another comeback this week is from BOL4, who made their return with two music videos from their latest mini-album, TWO FIVE. Both Workaholic and 25 serves as the title tracks for this release. And these are two tracks I am excited to review (as I have a lot to positive things to say about the two tracks already!)  We last saw the duo earlier this year through their Bom and Stars On Me double-track promotions (for those who may have missed these ladies).

Let’s start off with Workaholic.  This is probably their most mature sound yet, which caught me by surprise (given how the duo’s songs are usually incorporate happy thoughts and bright elements). Despite that initial surprise, I actually find this to be a really cool song. It is all about wanting to live a different life but unable to due to the demands of one’s current life. Something that I am sure we would relate to in some degree. Jiyoung’s voice sounds really nice in the track. But I really liked how the autotune gave the song a needed boost in the edgy department. I also like the use of guitars in the song. I can hear how Jiyoon will be incorporated into the song, but I also like the use of electric guitars to kick the song up a notch towards the end. Overall, I like the new direction that the duo opted for in this song.

25 is a little different from Workaholic. It is actually the sound that I had expected from the duo. There is a subtle bright and upbeat atmosphere to it, which is why the track sounds like it aligns to the duo’s discography more than Workaholic did. While I don’t usually like songs that keep a consistent instrumental, 25 has the opposite effect on me (despite falling into that category) to an extent. The instrumental didn’t buildup at all, which allowed me to focus purely on Jiyoung’s vocals and harmonies throughout the song (which is the standard huskiness). I did like the melody and I did think the chorus was catchy. But the chorus felt masked by the rest of the song and blended in a little too much for my liking. The song talks about the quarter-life crisis that people have at the age of 25, which I am nearing very soon.

I like how the storyline of the video reflects the lyrics in Workaholic. Essentially, we see Jiyoung playing the character who wants a better life but is stuck in her job. She drinks as a way out and this causes her problems at work. And the whole thing just repeats itself. In the end, she decides that she has had enough. Changing her outfit and causing a mess at the workplace, she is joined by the comedic relief of the video (fellow member Jiyoon) to end the video standing in the midst of a lot of pyrotechnics. I really liked how they made Jiyoung look so much mature in the video and the greyness was very fitting to make things look draining.

As for 25, the video is a lot more colourful. I think this plays in well with the song’s meaning though. The colourfulness seems to reflect the years before 25, while the emotions they are conveying throughout the video shows that quarter-life crisis. Though, I think the message that the video is showing is that everything is okay, especially if you have a friend to hang out with during this time. Jiyoung’s and Jiyoon’s friendship is quite cute in the video.

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

25
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10

[Review] Quit – FT Island

Apologies for my week-long absence from the site. I have been busy all week and by the time I got home, I would already be too tired to function. So I will be dedicating time this weekend to catch up on reviews. FT Island was the first of a few comebacks this week, returning with their last mini-album before the impending enlistment of the members. Quit is the band’s title track and it is also the first release from the band since Summer’s Night Dream, in 2017. This is also the band’s first comeback since the departure of Choi Jang Hoon due to the chatroom scandal earlier this year.

One of the most satisfying things in KPOP is when an artist or group returns to a sound that the group had successfully pulled off in the past. For FT Island, this could be a range of sounds given their many different concepts and genres that they have attempted. Quit reminds me of Severely, a rock ballad that the group nailed in 2012. And given that thought, there are high expectations surrounding the song. Were those expectations achieved? I think so. Hongki’s vocals (as per usual) were at the forefront of the song, with a really interesting melody that allowed the incorporation of new sounds into the instrumental. His voice is so loaded with emotion that it makes the song so much more impactful, which is the case of his solo ballad releases. The repetition of the title ‘Quit’ (Gwandwo) is evidence of this. The song started off like how a classical ballad would, with some piano and strings. Then they bring a rock influence into the song through the chorus and maintain this throughout. The pre-chorus was probably my favourite bits in the song, as I thought it was a nice and fast transition between the two genres.

The video is very confusing as it plays with time. And I am not exactly sure if my interpretation is right. The video starts off in October, which I think is when the female character walks out of her relationship. In October, we see her place the clock down on the ground, turning it back to September. It seems that even though she is leaving, she still remembers her time with the male character (and hence this might explain their date at the end of the video). Throughout the video, we see the past few months. March is probably the most significant, as this is when he gives her the clock, which my guess is the ‘beginning of the end’. The way she accepts it gives me that type of vibe. Furthermore, in Chinese culture, you don’t give a clock or watch as a present as it signifies that time is up to the person who receives the present. This might play a part in this video. The rest of the video shows her acting lovey-dovey with the male character but is very alone when she is alone (e.g. she moves from two cups on the table to just one as the video progresses). As I said, the video is confusing and I may be wrong. But that is the storyline that I managed to determine from the video, given the lyrics of the song.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 9.2/10

[Review] Devil – CLC

One girl group that has been on a roll this year is CLC. If I can remember correctly, this is their third comeback of the year and no other group has returned this many times in the year thus far. So for those who have missed out on the powerful CLC so far (where have you been?!), they released No in January and then Me in May. Now, the group is back with Devil. While I do hope these ladies have been having breaks in between their comebacks, I am sure they (and their fans) are feeling blessed, as this has been their most active year yet!

Devil is a bright, colourful and upbeat track. But more importantly, it is something that reminds me of their earlier works. Sure, the cutesy sound isn’t there, as it is replaced by the group’s newfound fame with the mature sound. But it is still rather close. I wouldn’t think the group would change gears like this, especially since it seems like listeners are finally warming up to their powerful and dominating sound. But I guess, they have to throw in a different sound once in a while. The song also takes a retro approach with its instrumental, which feels very KPOP-like. Despite this colorful direction, I found the track to have a little bit of edginess, through the piano/keyboard at the start/during the bridge. It was subtle,. But as I was expecting something robust like their last two tracks, it managed to come off in that manner. I thought the vocals were rather strong and made the chorus stand out some more. I liked the melody but I wanted a stronger hook to the chorus. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if I start humming the chorus in the coming days. I am also glad that they allowed Yeeun to keep her hip-hop flair. Overall, Devil was a great track and a nice change to their now- usual style.

I guess the saying ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ applies here. The music video started off like most cutesy videos. Very colourful and bright. The members were sitting around a table, with a cake on it. We then see the members live their normal lives, with another member elsewhere in the scene. And it seems like there is some sort of fight or beef going on in the video, as each member is plotting something against another. Seunghee purposely throws darts at Eunbin, Sorn is playing with fire around Seunghee, Sorn was lightly shoved off the chair by Yeeun, Elkie dropped a cactus on top of Yeeun’s head, Eunbin vacuumed Eikie’s hair, Yuijin was playing with the painful legos under Seungyeon’s bed and Seungyeon was leaving bars of soap under Yujin. I was already hooked with all of this. But then the video takes a turn, going towards the member’s dark side. The cake table turned into something more sinister with eyeballs and the chopped off heads of dolls. The colour is gone and it is all replaced by darkness. Even their outfits turned into black and leather. It is a very interesting video and definitely something worth watching a few times.

I am basing this off the music video. But I thought the way they started off the performance was very like their early works. As for the rest of the performance, I didn’t really find much worth talking about. Maybe they have kept hidden the better parts. But I can’t really make a comment about that until I see it.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

[Review] Good Bye – Wheein (Mamamoo)

Due to the nature of the video, I have typed up the bulk of the music video section in white font. To read this section, simply highlight the text. 

Mamamoo is back in the form of one member! Wheein has returned to the music scene with a solo release titled as Good Bye. Her last solo single was 25, which she released in May of this year. That release went completely unnoticed by many (including me) due to a lack of promotions in the lead-up and after the release of the single. Let’s hope that Good Bye doesn’t share the same fate! Her last solo single officially reviewed by your faithfully was Easy, which was released last year.

Good Bye takes on the ballad side of the industry. And it does so in a way that feels fitting for Wheein. We know of her impressive vocals through her works with Mamamoo and her solo stages on shows like Duet Song Festival. Her raspy vocals come through in this song, whereas they usually don’t during the group promotions. And I thought they brought some really nice warm colour to the song. The instrumental is pretty plain and ordinary for a ballad, but her vocals do a fair (as you would expect with any ballad) to make up for this pitfall. I also like how her voice builds as the song progresses, which I is something I enjoy when it comes to most ballads. Okay, it sure sounds like the Good Bye confirms to most ballads in many ways. But Wheein’s execution of Good Bye makes it stand out from the rest of the ordinary bunch.

The attention-stealing component of this comeback is the music video. IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE VIDEO YET, I RECCOMEND YOU DO BECAUSE I AM ABOUT TO SPOIL IT!!! We see the lead female actress adjust to a singles life for the majority of the video. At the start of the video, we see she flip a picture frame over angrily, make a meal for two when she should have just a meal for herself and removed all of the couple stuff from the house. It seems like her former lover was an artist, as she trashes the painting on the wall with fresh paint. This is the turning point of the video and if you want to read the rest of the plotline, you will need to highlight it as I have typed it out in white. So essentially, a couple arrives at the house to see it trashed. The entire time, we were lead to believe that she returned to her own place. But instead, it turns out it was her lover’s house. The guy runs out, to alert people (I assume), leaving his girlfriend in the house. It actually turns out to be her house and that she was the painter. As this girlfriend enters the room with the painting, she picks up the same picture frame from the start of the video, revealing a huge patch of orange paint over her boyfriend’s face, while her own face is uncovered. We are then shown clips of the lead actress drunk, crying over her lover and she lives the house. If you still don’t get the story, don’t worry. Essentially, the lead actress loves the girlfriend, not the boyfriend. It is another video similar to Please Don’t by K.Will. And it is a really good plot twist that I had to rewatch a couple of times. I also like the warm colours that feature in this video, fitting for the first ballad that I have reviewed on the site for the Autumn season!

Song  9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.4/10

[Review] 1 Minute 1 Second – W PROJECT 4

Predebut and pre-release tracks are fairly common throughout the industry. But I will admit that I tend to gloss over those because I tend to focus on actual debuts and comebacks. Though the general rule I have when deciding what to review is whether a music video is available for it or not. We find ourselves in a music video available scenario with Woolim’s latest project, W Project 4. 1 Minute, 1 Second features Kim Min Seo, Lee Sung Jun, Kim Dong Yun, Hwang Yun Seong, Lee Hyeop, and Joo Chang Uk (majority of these trainees represented Woolim in Produce X 101).

While 1 Minute 1 Second is obviously a dance track, it started off slow with a quiet tone and a moody atmosphere. However, right after that short introductory part, the song picks up and puts forward a loud and bold change in direction. Sure, it isn’t anything refreshing or new. But it is a contrast that I thought was rather cool. I also like the piano in the pre-chorus segment, which added another layer of contrast to the synths in the background and that follows in the chorus. The synth dominated chorus picks the track up to a whole new level. I also liked how they maintained that momentum throughout the song and didn’t go back to that intro segment (a thing that happens a little too much in KPOP). They did opt for a tone back bridge. But that is different from a slow start. I thought their rappings and vocals were really good, showcasing the new generation of KPOP to come in the future in a very positive light. Something I think the song could have done better was developed a little more. Like in my past reviews, it stayed fairly netural throughout. Other than that, 1 Minute 1 Second is a great track to show off the new trainees of Woolim Entertainment.

The music video, to me, is fairly straight forward. It isn’t to the level of other Woolim Entertainment music videos, which I guess makes sense. It just wouldn’t make sense to pour all this money into a project group, which I assume is a way for the company to try to capitalise on the attention that garnered through Produce X 101. The video is dark and gloomy, which matches the tone of the song. Similar to how I mentioned about contrasting above, the members contrasted fairly nicely with their white tops in the dark sets. Overall, for a predebut/project single, the video turned out well.

I mentioned this countless times in the past that Woolim stands out for the choreography that is performed on stage, especially for their male groups. There is a level of finetuning that goes into each performance. And I think W Project 4 also got this finetuning treatment as well. As a result, their entire choreography looked dynamic, powerful and awesome.

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

[Album Review] The Moment Of Illusion (8th Mini Album) – UP10TION

The next album review (and this one is on time!) is for UP10TION’s return with The Moment Of Illusion. This is the group’s first album release since Blue Rose and Laberinto in 2018. The group has been absent from the stage as two of their members was participating in Produce X 101. And as a result, the same two members are also absent from this set of promotions (i.e. Kim Woo Seok due to promotions as part of X1 and Lee Jin Hyuk due to a break). Let’s see how the group’s latest album fair with the absence of two members.

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The Moment Of Illusion Album Cover

1. Your Gravity (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Your Gravity. (6/10)

2. Sky Surfer – A part of me thinks that Sky Surfer would have been a little typical for the title track. The chorus, its drop and the synths used throughout the song weren’t exactly exciting or fresh. But the song almost could have been an alternative as a title track. I find the song having this breezy vibe coming from it, suiting the Summer season. I also like the guitar that is slightly hidden away by the electronic components in the instrumentation. It had Goblin (the South Korean drama) vibes, which I really liked. I thought the vocals and rapping was nice. Maybe if they gave it a twist, I wouldn’t have had my initial doubts about its title track potential. But it is still pretty good. (8/10)

3. Look At MeLook At Me takes a similar typical approach to Sky Surfer. But they manage to change it up to make it slightly different from the rest of the competition. The song opens up with a sort of foreign guitar-like instrumental. It gives way to a very dynamic track in my opinion, with everything in the instrumental a level lower than what we would typically here in KPOP. The chorus drops and repeats the title, which is pretty standard. But I liked how they put the brakes on the drop, making it slower than what you had expected. Overall, I thought to Look At Me was another great track on the album. (8.5/10)

4. Skyway – I think we have another contender for the title track status. And this one doesn’t face any doubts like I had expressed under Sky Surfer. Actually, I wonder why they didn’t pick this one instead. It is strong and very energetic, which I have mentioned before ticking boxes for me, And I like it how it doesn’t stop. It just keeps going and doesn’t take an unnecessary pause. I thought the chorus had a catchy melody. The vocals and raps were amazing, especially Kun’s rap sequence at the end, channelling the song’s momentum until the very last second of the song. (9/10)

5. Restore – The album thus far has been mainly upbeat dance tracks of varying genres. Restore tones everything back, opting for an R&B track. But still, I can definitely see a choreography routine for this track with backup dancers. Melodically, I find the track to be very nice. The vocals and raps were also good, with a large focus on the vocals thanks to the slower nature of the song. I do question why they chose to push themselves for the chorus, as it almost felt like the vocals in the chorus were overpowering everything else. But for the time being, I think they manage to not step over into that domain. (7/10)

6. Lover – The album returns to and ends on another dance track. It is probably their most intense on the album, thanks to its dramatic and crunchy synths. Once again, I find the track slightly typical. The chorus felt a little plain and I had expected it to ‘add’ to the intense, rather than continue on with what we heard in the verses. The vocals were strong and I thought the rappers shined in this track, thanks to the intensity. Their rap sequences ended up having a little oomph to it. While I did make comments about its typicalness, I think the choice of Lover at the end of the album is a bold and memorable choice. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

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The Moment Of Illusion Teaser Image

[Review] Regulus – ONEWE

Making their return to the stage for the first time ever is ONEWE. For those who do not know, ONEWE is a band from RBW Entertainment (ONEUS, VROMANCE and MAMAMOO also come from the same company) and was formerly known as MAS. They made their re-debuted as ONEWE in May of this year with Reminisce About All. Since their release, the band made their Japanese debut with the Japanese version of the same title track. And now, the group has returned with Regulus and the single album, 2/4.

I have described a number of songs in the past as being in ‘neutral gear’. But I think Regulus finds its place on top of that category. For the majority of the nostalgic rock song, it was very slow-moving. The chorus only added a little momentum but it wasn’t enough for my tastes. We did get that much-needed climax through the ‘guitar dominant’ bridge section, but I wished they had built up to it in a more explicit fashion. They might have intended another Reminisce About All climax but I think they left it a little too late this time around. Minus the instrumentation, I think the song does make up for its flaw.  The track manages to showcase more of the members, while Reminisce About All was skewed towards one member (from memory). Everyone sounded quite nice. We also got some rapping in this song. While I am not a fan of that crunchy autotune placed on the vocals just before the rapping, it does give the song some much-needed texture. Overall, Regulus was a fair song to add to ONEWE’s discography.

 There is no doubt that this is a moody track. Regulus, for those who don’t know, is one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Hence, in that case, for us to see Regulus, it has been dark. And essentially, the members are singing about being able to see light (their lover) while in the dark. Therefore, it made total sense for the music video to be shot with a grey filter, with the day sky transforming to the night sky. I think the video would have been a little more effective if they shot it during the Winter months or when it was naturally darker. Apart from that, their presence really made the video feel more compelling. And while it was just scenes of them playing their instruments, I have to admit that it was worth watching.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[Review] Blurry – Kim Kook Heon & Song Yu Vin

Yesterday I reviewed X1’s Flash debut. But interestingly, they are not first set of trainees debuting from Produce X 101. The first trainees to do that was Kim Kook Heon and Song Yu Vin, who finished 21st and 15th respectively. Both trainees come from Music Works and were formerly part of MYTEEN (which has since disbanded following the completion of the show). Over the weekend (a few days ahead of X1’s debut), the two made their return to the industry with Blurry.

Blurry takes on the ballad genre, with a rather soothing and classically-driven track. The song showcases great vocals from the two. I really liked how they managed to integrated some rapping into the song, which tends to be a hit or miss for me when it comes to ballads. I also thought the piano melody was very pleasant. I also like that water drop effect that is featured throughout the song, giving the instrumental a little extra detail. The song feels perfect for a rainy day and that is also the playlist that the song will land into as soon as I finish writing this review. But while I look upon this track quite positively, I found the ballad to be of the typical nature. And this is possibly a problem for Blurry and the two singers, especially in an industry that is very big with ballads. To an extent, it felt very straight forward and one-dimensional. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, but I think a little more to the instrumental and some layering could have helped boost the song to a whole new level.

The music video for the song was quite pleasant, perfectly fitting the song’s tone. And my comment regarding how it is perfect for a rainy day partly stems from the music video, due to that rainy scene in which they are sharing an umbrella. I assume the fish and cherry that the two were held in the video that later disappeared alluded to their lovers who left them, due to their inexperience with love. Apart from that, it was a nice video to watch.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10

[Review] Flash – X1

And now we move onto that big debut that I mentioned in my previous review. Back in July of this year, Produce X 101 wrapped up their season by announcing the trainees that will be going on to debut as part of X1 (i.e. the Top 10 plus the member with the most points throughout the entire season). A huge congratulations to Kim Yo Han, Kim Woo Seok, Han Seung Woo, Song Hyeong Jun, Cho Seung Youn, Son Dong Pyo, Lee Han Gyul, Nam Do Hyun, Cha Jun Ho, Kang Min Hee and Lee Eun Sang for making their debut yesterday with Flash.

I did tweet (my shameless plug to advertise I have a Twitter that you can follow to get up-to-date news about where reviews are at!) last night that Flash is quite good. And that statement does still stand to an extent. The dance track definitely has intensity and this builds throughout the song. The instrumental also felt very dynamic at certain points of the song, which goes hand-in-hand with the intensity. I thought the pre-chorus was probably the main highlight point of the song, as it was where that intensity was felt the strongest. Following closely behind would have to be the closing chorus of the song, which brought upon some impressive adlibs. But the keyword a while back was ‘…to an extent’. While we were on the topic of vocals, I have to point out that they didn’t have a backing that could have made them flourish. Instead, it resulted in them feeling quite neutral. The second disappointment of the track was the drop. While it was okay, I expected something with a little more striking, especially following that cool pre-chorus.

The music video had an artsy side, which I think appealed to me. If you know me, I really like visuals. And the sets were very aesthetically pleasing. The various sets that could be seen in this video looked amazing. My favourite had to be the big half X in the background. I also really liked the use of black, red and lights in that set. The green light set wasn’t that good looking and the streamers made it look constricting and elementary. While the music video did opt for a standard closeup and choreography combination, I thought the video turned out well for their debut.

The choreography is definitely intense. That is the only direction you could go with a song of this nature. There was a little generic atmosphere at the start. But I really enjoyed the fierceness and power that came from the final section of the choreography. I also like their ‘Flash‘ pose.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] LALALAY – Sunmi

Apologies for my absence yesterday. It was definitely poor timing on my behalf, especially with one very big debut and solo comeback all in one day yesterday. Firstly, let’s focus on the solo comeback from Sunmi. The ver popular female solo singer is back. And especially after a string of very popular songs (the most recent is Noir), Sunmi attempts to repeat her success with LALALAY. And it seems that she is already doing that, with her comeback track already topping domestic charts!

Listening to LALALAY, it makes me think of her entire list of title tracks since branching out with Gashina.  It might be the music video side influence speaking, but I have found Sunmi’s title tracks to have an element of being ‘out there’. Sure, there are a number of artists who do this well as well. But not in the serious manner that Sunmi always pull off. Alongside this, I found the track to be very catchy from start to end. The instrumental starts off as quite piercing. But it is an opener that attracts your attention from the start. I really liked her verses, which was the more vocally centred sections of the track. Though, I wanted to hear more of a strong hook during the pre-chorus, as I think this could have benefited the chorus. The piercing start of the song returns as the main piece of the chorus. Once again, I thought it was cool and catchy. And it definitely added some attitude to the song. I am not a fan of the bridge, which felt like it was from another song. The transition didn’t feel right and I am disappointed with that, as this is keeping it from being another ‘perfect’ song from Sunmi. But overall, LALALAY is a song to put on repeat.

As I mentioned before, it might be the music video side that influenced my first comments about LALALAY and her familiar title tracks. And this video does have that odd factor to it, proving my point. The song is all about being yourself despite the criticisms. And she does just that in the video by sporting pretty different hairstyles. She opts for a blonde hairdo and long pigtails, which isn’t anything odd, to begin with. But the video does a good job of making it look odd, and the backup dancers seem to be following whatever she is doing (i.e. she is a trendsetter). Despite the criticisms, she will always have the supporters behind her, which is the message I am getting alongside to the lyrics.   It is a nice video to watch and I think it went well with the song.

Sunmi has always developed a noticeable dance move. Gashina was the hand-gun, Heroine was the whipping arms, Siren was the mermaid pose. And now, LALALAY is the twisting hair move. It is a simple move, so I suspect many people will be following her dance, once again.  Watching her live performance, I find her confidence to be very appealing. During the verses, she was playful. But once the chorus kicks in, she changes her charisma to suit the section.

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

[Review] Don’t Make Me Laugh – Oh Hayoung (APINK)

My final review for the night is for Hayoung’s solo debut. For those who don’t know, she is one of the members from APINK, one of the few groups still going strong since their debut in 2011. She is also the second member of the group to officially go solo, while the group is in between comebacks. Don’t Make Me Laugh is her title track for her solo debut mini-album, OH!.

While it was expected that Eunji would be the first member to go solo from the group, I would have expected Namjoo or Bomi to be the second. Instead, Hayoung comes by with this really nice track. I find the industry tends to enjoy either heavy dance tracks or slow ballad tracks. Sometimes, they enjoy tracks that find themselves in between the two styles. And Don’t Make Me Laugh is one of these tracks that deserve to be put in the spotlight. I really like the light tone the song brings, which undoubtedly compliments her vocals. Her parts in APINK tracks have never stood out for me. But this song makes me want to revisit all those parts from the past. I also enjoyed the autotune they put on her voice to give the song some texture. It didn’t go over the top with it, which tends to be the case in some songs. But not this one! The chorus had a really soothing pop melody and I like the small laughter at the start. I can see myself easily repeating the song multiple times with this track and I don’t think I would ever get tired of it.

The title of the track is very intriguing. But essentially the track is all about the moment someone falls in love. In the video, Hayoung basically falls for the barista and starts imagining all their potential dates. This makes her feel super giddy, which in turn results to her laughing in the cafe. At the end of the video, we see the guy noticing her laughing, which he finds cute and he starts to approach her. The final moments of the videos show a closeup of Hayoung’s face reacting to the unexpected movement in her direction, which I thought was rather funny. The video was well-presented. Even though it was all inside, they did a good job of replicating the outdoors and the video was very bright, fitting the Summer feel nice.

I like how the lightness of the song flowed into the choreography. Overall, It felt flowy and breezy. At the same time, there is a very nice innocent feel to it. Another thing that I would like to mention is that she sounds wonderful on stage with this track. Once again, I have never taken notice of her on stage. But watching her perform, I am wondering why I haven’t paid more attention to her!

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

[Review] Baby Come Back Home – TARGET

The second group I want to review today is TARGET, who returned with Baby Come Back Home on Tuesday of this week. If I don’t review this track today, I may end up reviewing the song a month later or possibly even forgetting that they came back. And I blame this all on their promotions. I had no clue that they were coming back until after I saw their dance practice video after their music video release, while the group was hidden away after a bare minimum promotional round for Beautiful, which I complimented thoroughly when it was released back in April.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like Baby Come Back Home would be receiving similar comments as Beautiful did. And no, this isn’t one of those moments where I semi-lied to you to declare the song went a notch further. Baby Come Back Home ended up being one of their edgiest releases yet. But it is also their most boring yet. The song delves into dance and hip-hop, enabling a more aggressive sound. And while I do prefer this to a cutesy sound, the song doesn’t have any captivating elements to really appeal to my taste. The instrumental feels very standard and lacks freshness. There is a dance break during the bridge which attempts to change things up with a slightly different tempo. But just blended right into the rest of the song, causing repetition to become prevalent. The chorus, which is usually the major hook of a song, doesn’t have that addictiveness to it. The rapping and vocals were probably the more decent elements of the song. Just it wasn’t enough to compensate the other parts.

The music would share similar comments as well. There was a bland vibe to the video, which I just can’t help but notice when I put the video on. The members were acting cool throughout the video, which shouldn’t be a terrible thing. But I got the impression that some members were trying too hard during this close up. So they came off awkward from what I could see. Their choreography scenes were probably the most captivating section of the video. But I didn’t like their outfits, which added to that blandness that I have mentioned.

The choreography was decent. But it isn’t impressive. The edginess does flow through and I think there is some confidence that one would need moving from a soft concept o such an edgy one, like what TARGET did.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 5/10
Performance – 6.5/10
Overall Rating – 5.3/10

[Review] Final Kiss – IZ

It seems like the weekend will be dedicated to catching up as I still have a few more reviews to get through. Hence, there will no Japanese review this week. But there are other songs to check out in the meantime. IZ is one of the groups to return during the week, with the release of Final Kiss on Wednesday. The band’s last comeback was with EDEN, which was released back in May of this year.

Final Kiss takes a unique approach with its Summery track, placing emphasis on its rock instrumentation and reducing the vocals a fair bit to allow for the instrumentation to be focused upon. There isn’t anything wrong about this. To be exact, I don’t think there has been much of s song lately that does this. So there is a slight freshness to it, which I think works really well with the idea of a Summer song. The instrumentation feels loaded, giving the song some definition and oomph, which I really enjoyed. There was almost a head-banging feel to it, which is something I enjoy hearing when it comes to rock music (‘Almost’ being a keyword here. It just doesn’t feel exactly like it got into that territory).  It just feels awkwardly unbalanced. Every section had a part dedicated to instrumental, so it left the members with very little opportunity to flourish vocally. What we managed to hear was pretty good itself. But I just felt like they could have reduced some of the instrumentation and given more of themselves to the track. 

The video shows a comparison between their life indoors versus the outdoors by the pool. Rewatching the video a few times, I found it very boring and dry, not something you expect from the Summer concept. The idea is rather typical and I think the producers of the video could have done something to get the video to stand out. They may have been limited to the Summer concept but that feels like a minor hurdle nowadays given the magnitude of the industry. Unfortunately, what we got isn’t something that I find worthwhile watching again and again.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10

[Review] Your Gravity – UP10TION

While I am reviewing the biggest comebacks of the week, we need to mention UP10TION. This is their first comeback in a while and their first post-Produce X 101. UP10TION’s Kim Woo Seok (Wooshin) and Lee Jin Hyuk (Wei) both participated in the show. Kim Woo Seok placed second on the survival show and will be making his debut alongside the rest of X1 next week. Lee Jin Hyuk missed out on a position in X1 and it was expected that he would return to UP10TION as a result. However, he will be sitting out of the promotions for UP10TION’s comeback, Your Gravity, which was released yesterday (alongside their 8th mini-album, The Moment of Illusion).

The first thing I noticed about the song while listening to it yesterday was how closely it resembles Pentagon’s Sha-La-La (released earlier in the year). I just hope that this wasn’t intentional. The entire backbone seems to be a replication of the mentioned track and I am not exactly sure what to think of this. It does manage to pack a punch with a little more vibrancy in its synths. The rapping and vocals were very strong as well. But the song doesn’t really showcase anything ‘new’ from the group. It also doesn’t go all the way to bring us a dynamic chorus, something that could have really boosted the song up a few more levels. As a result, the track doesn’t stick out as much as it should have. Overall, I think this was a great opportunity for the group to try out something new to attract the attention of new listeners and reinvent themselves. But I felt like the group stuck with what they had always done. And this resulted in a passable track from the group.

I think the music video was a little more intriguing and appealing. Matching that vibrancy I mentioned was the set, which had colour to it, allowing it to stand out in the background. The video shows a glimpse of the members having fun. I think to play around with the idea of gravity, the video opted for very dynamic cinematography. You wouldn’t think that this would help transform a built set like in this video, but it made the video 10 times better than if it was shot in a balanced manner. Like they went 360 degrees with the camera in this video.

I think the choreography for the comeback was awesome. And that is something that I think I have felt with the majority of UP10TION’s comebacks. I really liked their start, when they are in the circle formation. I also like how some of their moves were soft but followed up with a lot of sharp moves, which looked really cool overall.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Review] Umpah Umpah – Red Velvet

One of the bigger releases of the week came on Tuesday. Despite just wrapping up promotions for the very catchy and fun sounding Zimzalabim two months ago, Red Velvet has returned with Umpah Umpah, which is featured on the group’s 6th mini-album, The ReVe Festival: Day 2. Since its release on Tuesday, the song has already topped the charts, as expected for the popular girl group. However, the group has faced some problems with their concept, with accusations made against the group and SM Entertainment for plagiarizing outfits designed by Paris Stern (read the article here).

If Zimzalabim wasn’t to your liking because it was a little more out there in comparison to Red Velvet’s usual style, maybe you will like Umpah Umpah. Listening to the song, the brightness and energy from Zimzalabim is still present. But it is toned back and not as in-your-face as the mentioned track. Once again, Umpah Umpah is quite addictive. There was a number of layers to this. Firstly, the main repetition was keyed into my mind within a few listens.  Secondly, the chorus was extremely melodic, which made their vocals shine ever so brightly. Thirdly, the instrumental made the track feel light, offsetting the heavier effects made by the deep Umpah Umpah repetition and their vocals. Towards the end, the song becomes anthem-like, which might be a first for the group and SM Entertainment. Overall, I thought the track was very well suited for the Summer season. Fun fact: you might be able to catch some of their references to past tracks including Ice Cream Cake, Red Flavour and Dumb Dumb in the lyrics.

Summer is about to end in Korea, so Red Velvet is making a last-minute trip to have some fun in the sun. But they are stopped in their tracks by a horrible rainstorm. So they use other methods to keep the fun ongoing. This includes playing board games and watching some TV. But some things just get in the way, such as bumping your head on the table while playing monopoly, a horrible TV connection (which Seulgi was picked to fix) and a leaky roof. While it looks like they are about to give up on their adventure of fun indoors, the group seems to use their imagination and persistence to enjoy their times indoors, which I think was highlighted by the group closing the door one more time without any disappointed looks or body language. Overall, it is another fun video that goes very well with the song!

Interestingly, there hasn’t been a live performance with the entire dance as of yet. And as far as I am concerned, I don’t think there were any teasers for a comeback stage next week as well (but do let me know if I am wrong, I just don’t remember seeing on on my Twitter feed). Form what I could see, the choreography looked nice. It felt like their least intense set of moves yet. But it was bright, fun and energetic, which are all elements that we have come to know and love Red Velvet for.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 9.1/10