[Review] Good Night – H&D

Last month, I wrote a review for H&D’s debut single, SOUL. In that review, I promised that I would get around to writing a review for the second title track, Good Night, on the same debut mini-album, Soulmate. A music video was released for Good Night alongside SOUL, which I didn’t know about until a few days later. Though it seems I have taken a little longer than expected to review it, I finally present to you my review for Good Night. In other related news, both Lee Hangyul and Nam Dohyun have been confirmed to be debuting as part of a male group later this year.

When I listen to Good Night, Leessang is a name that keeps on popping up in my mind. For those who may be unfamiliar with Leessang, they were a duo who delved into the hip-hop and were very popular back in the day for songs like Turned Off The TV and Girl Who Can’t Break-Up and Boy Who Can’t Leave. I find the melody and the beat would be something that could have come from Leessang. Good Night is obviously a lot more upbeat, well suited for a youthful style and modernised. And the lyrics are a lot more innocent and pure. Moving the focus back to H&D, I thought their execution was pretty good. Both the rapping and singing from the duo were pretty strong. The only part that I thought was a little awkward was the chanting anthem sequence that followed the choruses in the song about half way and the at the end. I am unsure how to describe it as I am no musical expert, but it felt like the song become a lot rougher and messier when it came to that sequence, in my opinion. The instrumental of the song was more of your typical tropical island beats, but it did feel rather refreshing and well-suited for the upcoming Summery season that South Korea is about to enter. I personally think Good Night is a good song despite it also delving into a typical domain. I just feel that Good Night has more of a fresh appeal compared to SOUL.

When it comes to the concept of the music video, it is clear that they went in the opposite direction to their other debut music video. This video shows a sleepover concept and it was definitely a lot more lighthearted, colourful and innocent. I really liked how they wrote some the lyrics in the comic style font, in addition to having it act as a visual effect to give the video some extra character. Usually they do this for key English words in the song or just some typical ‘pow’ or ‘wow’ text. Overall, it looked fun and I think this video suited the song well.

To match the casual sleepover concept, the entire performance was done so in pajamas. I liked that they retained this detail, which made the performance feel more approachable and chill to watch. But the moves looked pretty typical and didn’t offer anything new to us viewers on the performance front. I did like the start and end, however, where they used the dancers to lean on, like they are on a couch, adding to that casual detail I mentioned.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10

Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] I’m In Trouble – NU’EST

Also making their comeback this Monday is NU’EST with I’m In Trouble. This new track is featured on the group’s 8th mini-album, The Nocturne. NU’EST has had a busy year in 2019 with the release of Bet Bet and Love Me (their most recent release prior to today’s comeback). 2019 also saw the long awaited return of Minhyun to the group’s lineup from other activities. Let’s see what the group has installed for 2020.

I’m In Trouble kicks off with the plucking of guitar strings. It took a brief moment before the proper beat to kick in, which end up being more instrumentation contributing to a beat that continues the low deep tone which the song started off with. As it delved into the chorus, I’m In Trouble took a R&B pop approach. I have to say that the song is already quite sleek and classy in an elegant manner. But it never really picked up, which was something that I really wanted as the song progressed. It just stayed in a very neutral setting. I was glad when it came to the bridge that the song inserted that vibrating-like synth. It was an odd addition, but it added some life and variety to the song. But I wished they continue with the additional elements as the song reverted back to the same consistent sound to end it off, which was bland. The vocal work was good, but not their best effort. Interestingly, JR opted for vocals this time around, but I felt a rap sequence of any degree was warranted to give the song some edge. Just enough so that the classy and sleek nature of the song isn’t lost. I think that would provide some extra variety to the sound and give the song some uniqueness. The hooks didn’t offer much, which I thought they could have fell back on to give the song that memorable touch. Instead, their main ‘I’m In Trouble‘ was incredibly plain and failed to gain any interest from me. Overall, it has some good things going in. But it just failed to capture my attention.

NU’EST’s latest music video that accompanies the release of I’m In Trouble is very aesthetic to watch. I really liked the pentagon platform with the partitions that they sit in. That looked really cool. The cinematography was also very good in this video. As for the plot line, I am not too sure what is going on in this video. It seems like the members are playing a game (that looks familiar) where they choose to who to kill (i.e. vote out). It seems based on the teasers and the music video, this game is played at night, while each member goes about their respective days. Who they choose seems to have do with something in their normal life. The members reach out to one another to form an alliance or warn one another of betrayal. In the end, the members voted for JR to be eliminated, though I am not sure why. My best guess is that a person they are all interested is playing a cruel game and this person edges the members on with text messages throughout the day. Though, I am not sure how the teasers fit into the video. My interpretation is very literal and I don’t think anything that I wrote above is part of a proper interpretation, as everything seems mysterious and mine feels a little too lighthearted. Do you have any clue? Fill me in by commenting below.

I thought the choreography was pretty good. The routine looks complicated despite it not really ultilising any crazy movements like in many other choreographies. Instead, this routine matches the song in the sense that it is sleek and refined. I thought the sections in which the members sing the hook (i.e. ‘I’m In Trouble‘ repetition) to be pretty dynamic looking.

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.3/10

[Review] Zombie – DAY6

We kick off this week with the return of DAY6, who we last saw through Sweet Chaos. The band from JYP Entertainment released their new single, Zombie, and the group’s 6th mini-album, The Book Of Us: The Demon. The actual album itself includes two versions of the title track, a Korean and English version. It seems like we will only be seeing the members through the music video and the teaser images, as their company announced that the band would be halting all activities (including promotions) so that some of the members can recover their health, as it has been revealed that some of the members are suffering from psychological anxiety. Let’s all wish the members a quick recovery so we can see them on stage soon.

Zombie is best described as a rock ballad, leaning more towards the ballad side of that pairing. It is a little dry at first. But once you delve into it, you will grow to like it. I liked how the song didn’t conform to the usual routine and structure, which was opposite of the songs lyrics of being stuck in the same routine and hence becoming a zombie for living life on repeat. And this way, it made the rock ballad quite unique as well. Every time we heard the chorus (the lyrical sequence that was repeated), it was paired with a different instrumental piece. The first time around it felt like it embedded in the first verse, which was followed by an instrumental break that felt like it should have backed the first chorus (but was delayed). This instrumental break here felt extremely powerful in the English version and I assume it would have the same impact if you understood the Korean version. The second time we heard the chorus, it was back by what felt like the usual chorus instrumentation. And the third time was actually as Zombie was easing out, with just a synthesizer and then a keyboard playing in the background. The other parts of the song were really nice as well, instrumental-wise. But the vocals were definitely the standout element. You can hear the tiredness of the usual routine and the desire for more in this voices. My favourite section of the song, which showed off the vocals the best (in my opinion) has to be the short second verse. Jae’s ‘This Meaningless Life‘ just comes out so smoothly. Overall, it is a really beautiful song. I don’t know exactly when one would play it, given its message. But it definitely a relatable song.

I thought the music video was cleverly produced. In the video, the main character played the role of a ‘zombie’, which is a guy who lives the same routine every single day. He gets up in the morning and goes to work as a businessperson. I like how the video was shot with everything else moving around him in a fast forward motion, while he is in neutral gear and dragging himself towards his job. Another thing I like is when his apartment is filled with water, this corresponds with the ‘Wanna Cry‘ lyrics. However, I liked how the main character does not care that his home is flooded and just goes to bed as per his routine, showing that he is truly stuck in that same routine. I also liked how the members play instruments within the apartment. The set was very narrow, but they managed to get everyone in there. I also liked how they shot closeup of one member standing close to the camera and the next person standing in the background, so that the camera only need to adjusts its focus to get to the next person (and the video doesn’t need fancy transitions to move along).

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

[Review] Leo – BOL4 ft. Baekhyun (EXO)

May is going to be one intense month given the popularity of many acts that have been confirmed a release for the month. And we have just saw the competition get a little more intense with the release of another big collaboration. This one is between BOL4 and Baekhyun from EXO. BOL4 has been a huge artist, dominating the charts over the past few years with songs like Galaxy, Some, Travel and Bom. More recently, BOL4 was reduced to one member (Ahn Ji Young) with the departure of Woo Ji Yoon. Despite that, it was confirmed that BOL4 (now a solo act) would return later this month, with Leo being a pre-release single. Joining her later this month in a solo comeback of his own and Leo is Baekhyun from EXO, who no doubt every knows of due to EXO’s popularity and through his past digital hits such as UN Village and Dream (with Bae Suzy).

As this is a pre-release single for BOL4’s upcoming album, Leo is very much in her willpower. Her unique vocals shine throughout this song from the very first moment we hear her. There is something about that slight nasally voice that just makes many of her songs so captivating. The song has this really light and floating feeling, which really compliments her vocals that doesn’t make it tiring. It pretty much throws you back to BOL4’s early days with the songs in which grew the name and got her to the top of the charts. The song’s instrumentation is jazzy and I find suits the Summer season quite a bit. And Leo‘s brightness compliments the lyrics is about being happy when seeing the person you love. But BOL4 only makes up one half of the song. The other half is occupied with Baekhyun who sounds really sweet in this song. I don’t really have much to say about his voice. But I do find that his voice keeps the song grounded in a way, which was an interesting thought I had. It might have something to do with the contrast between BOL4’s high tone and Baekhyun’s deeper tone. When they sing and harmonise together, I find that they manage to bring the the floating feeling and grounded feeling together quite neatly, creating a very balanced atmosphere and relaxing in the song.

The video only features BOL4, who portrays that happy feeling that the song expresses. It seems like she is a homebody in the music video who doesn’t enjoy going outside. She keeps to herself and practically lives on her own. Not sure why she doesn’t leave her sanctuary. But she has her up and down moments living alone. She has her happy moments when she listens to the little stereo (which is how Baekhyun made a cameo in the video – without even appearing physically – I thought that was very well planned). But she has her low moments (i.e. when she was winding the wool and got board). A butterfly (i.e. something that she loves a bit) flew into her apartment and attracted her attention. From then on, she was quite happy. So happy that she followed the butterfly outside and enjoyed her time. I like how the video sends a simple message of that if you are with someone you love, it will make anything you worry or are scared about meaningless, allowing you to overcome that hurdle. Overall, a nice video.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Review] Eight – IU ft. Suga (BTS)

You take the digital queen of KPOP. You take one of the members of the most popular KPOP group in KPOP. You put them together in a room and apparently that equates to Eight. If you couldn’t tell about the title of this post, I will be having a looking into the collaboration single that came about when we combine the likes of IU and Suga from BTS. And that collaboration single is set to dethrone every other song at the top of the charts, given the power of the two in the industry. After all, they have already debuted at the number 1 position for two of the domestic charts and they are rising fast on the rest of them. After all, it is what IU and BTS does best.

The song is produced by Suga and IU themselves and it all about being 28 (which is also the Korean age of both IU and Suga this year). The song takes the form of a pop rock track, which already sounds amazing. I liked how mellow Eight started off as and how fast it was to ditch that sound to become an epic pop rock song that I could rock out to. That is really big tick in my books. To me, it is like the song mashes up IU’s pop rock Blueming and BTS’ more modern influence. I do think Eight could have used some electric guitar riffs to really give the final chorus a little something different to the rest of the song. Or would this be a little cliche? The song just felt a little too consistent as I was listening to it after multiple replays. Though, this doesn’t stop me from pressing the replay button. IU’s vocals never seem to disappoint, with this song highlighting her vocal abilities in the same way as her ballads and well known hits have always managed to do. Her voice comes off very refreshing and suits this pop rock style a lot. Suga has a very limited section in Eight, but he comes in with a really cool whisper and he continues the momentum of the song without diverting to a new or different sound. The only other flaw of the song is how short it was. But after all, it is a short but sweet song.

The music video starts and ends off with IU in this futuristic world. It seems like the machine that she gets into is a memory machine that replays memories in her dream. The memory that we see on our screen is what I presume to be an experience at the age of 28. She takes care of a lizard or gecko that she really loves. One night, she has a dream that she is on a plane and her lizard is on the outside of the plane. The plane experiences turbulence, waking IU up. IU runs downstairs to find that her lizard pet has gone into the wild. IU, in another dream, goes looking for her pet. But soon realizes that her pet had evolved into a dragon like creature. Knowing that her lizard pet is well and moving on with its life, she moves on with hers as she flies away to her destination. I thought the video was really cool. I liked how they showed four versions of IU without confusing us as they used a different style of each. They used a human form for Futuristic IU and memory IU, while animated 3D IU (which may have included 3D animated Suga) and cartoon IU for the different dreams. Overall, a fantastic video.

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

[Review] V.A.V.I Girl – FANATICS

Making their comeback on Monday was FANATICS. The group started out as a trio, FANATICS-FLAVOR, back in 2018 with the single Milkshake. The subunit was reformed with new members and the FLAVOR part was dropped from their name. The full group, FANATICS, was expanded to be 6 members in 2019 through the release of Sunday. The group then expanded to a 8-member lineup this year through V.A.V.I Girl (this review) and currently the group’s lineup is Sika, Doi, Chaelin (hiatus), Chiayi, Yoonhye (hiatus), Doah, Rayeon and Via. This is the group’s second official comeback, which features on their second mini-album which is titled (appropriately) as Plus Two.

Right off the bat, I want to say that I don’t mind V.A.V.I Girl as a song. There are a number of elements in the song that I quite enjoy and there are a number of elements that I am not digging. As always, let’s start off with the negative aspects that is dragging the song down. I personally don’t like how they pushed the cutesy style vocals onto this group. I understand that was the more fitting sound given the song’s energetic and lively nature. But I felt it was still quite unnecessary push that ended with the song developing a really typical profile. I think they could have adopted a mature vocal style (allowing for the use of their raspy and husky vocals that I can hear) and this song still would have had the same impact. The instrumental was also quite loud, so they had to push their voices extra hard to be heard over it. This was also an unnecessary step that the producers could have prevented. I usually don’t mind the dubstep breakdown that cuts through songs, but this was pretty ill-fitting. They had to a take what felt like an extra long pause to return the song its original instrumental, a sign of something that just doesn’t go with the majority. But as I said, it isn’t all bad. I thought the instrumental (aside from that dubstep breakdown) was awesome. There was an explosive and punchy nature to the retro instrumental, which was quite addictive. This also made the song very colorful and fun. Adding to the addictiveness of the song was the hook. I thought the ‘V.A.V.I Girl‘ was actually quite smart as it pronounced similarly to Barbie Girl. The main reason why they did this was to avoid being banned from promoting it (as songs with actual brand names have been banned from music shows in the past), as that won’t help to get their name out there.

If you had been reading this blog for a while now, you might have noticed that I prefer videos with a story line or some sort of . It doesn’t have to be a spectacular movie blockbuster style. It just has been something that they can weave into the video so it doesn’t become a typical closeup and choreography style music video, which I find boring. This music video had it, but it was missing a key detail. The members are dolls that have become alive and they go into a toy shop after realizing that the product they used to be part of were not doing well in sales. It seems like they go in play around with some of the toys and go looking for themselves to put in the middle display. We just don’t get to see the part where they find their product, which I think was the whole point of the video. I don’t think they grabbed the ones from the front as they have ‘Buy 1 Get 1 Free’ stickers on the front that you can’t remove without leaving some of the sticker behind. In regards to the rest of the video, it was very colourful and had a fun vibe, matching the tone of the song.

The choreography was good. It didn’t look that impressive at first. But after multiple replays of the choreography on stage, I thought that circle formation they move in for the second half of the chorus was very cool. The music video showed a few black flips (don’t know if they are the actual name of that move) at the end of the video. It was probably for the best given their outfits, but I would have liked to see that on stage as it would added a little wow factor in my opinion.

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

[Review] Knock – ASTRO

Also kicking off the month of May is ASTRO, who makes their comeback with the title track, Knock, and the mini-album GATEWAY. This is ASTRO’s first comeback since the release of Blue Flame late last year and it is also the first official comeback which marks the return of Moonbin, who sat out of promotions for Blue Moon for health reasons. ASTRO, with Moonbin, did release a special single, One & Only, in March for their fourth anniversary. I am also very glad that ASTRO is coming back today as opposed to a week from now due to the intense competition due next week. It gives ASTRO an opportunity to shine, which will help them immensely in this crazy month ahead.

Knock may be the song that pushes the group further into the spotlight. I feel like All Night and Blue Flame did a fine job at putting the group into the spotlight, but it hasn’t been enough to make them the centre of attention based on the resultant reception that I got from my research. After all, the group is charting higher than ever with Knock. I put my finger on a number of aspects of the song that may be helping with this. The first has to be the song’s robust and very dynamic chorus. I like how the song’s main hook (i.e. the ‘Knock Knock Knock‘) felt like mini jabs throughout the chorus that really reeled you in and grabbed your attention. The second has to the be powerful rapping. Both JinJin and Rocky shined in the verses. But once the bridge came, I wanted more and they delivered with an extra powerful sequence. And as a cherry on the top, JinJin had a final section with was rapping overload for me (in a good way). The third has to be the vocals. MJ, Moonbin, Eunwoo and Sanha all sounded really clear and crisp. The powerful dance instrumentation was very loud and I was concerned that the members would be drowned in the midst of the music. The fourth has to be the instrumental, which I have just touched on. I liked how the chorus contrasted with the instrumentation in the verses, which was a lot more melodic and calmer. Put everything together and you get Knock.

The concept of the music video and comeback is dimension travelling, which isn’t a unfamiliar concept in the KPOP world. I am a little hesitant calling it time travelling, even though their image teasers hinted towards it, as I didn’t see much references to time. But what I think I find very unique about the music video is that they focus on the middle region of this travelling between different worlds, which is often not even shown in music videos related to time travelling or going in between worlds. It was stunning video and you could see how the multiple worlds was accessible in this realm or limbo that they are in. The visual effects for the spiraling staircases and the floating planets looked amazing. Even the members looked very attractive and captivating in this video.

The choreography left a very strong impression on me. In an interview published by Soompi, the group expressed how tiring the choreography. And what I saw in the music video looked really exhausting. But it was a very powerful routine that shows off the group’s dancing ability. Just watch look at each moment where they sing ‘Knock Knock Knock‘. There is no resting period in this choreography and it requires stamina. So props to the members for this powerful choreography, especially in the weeks to come.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.7/10

[Review] Happy – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Today, Taeyeon makes her grand return with her single, Happy. This comeback was meant to happen 2 months ago on March 9th, which is also her birthday. But due to her father’s death on the same day, the decision was made to delay the comeback up until a week ago when the new single confirmed its new release date. Before I begin the review or go any further, I would like to express my condolences to Taeyeon and her family for their loss. On a happier note, this is Taeyeon’s first comeback since the release of her second repackaged studio album and the title track, Dear Me.

Happy is the first release of May that will be a tough digital contender throughout the month, as is the case for most of Taeyeon’s releases. And listening to Happy, you can tell there is a certain level of boldness in this song that is needed to achieve high rank on the charts. For Happy, this boldness comes in the form of a deep and loud thumping drum, which not only gives the song boldness but it also adds a little cute flair to the song which makes it extremely appealing. The song is said to combine old school doo-wop and R&B to create such a heartwarming and wholesome song. And it is because of these feelings that just make you want to smile. Adding to the really positive atmosphere that comes from the song are Taeyeon’s vocals. They just feel down to earth and really captivating without the singer pulling out crazy vocal chops. In a way, she keeps to a simple presentation and I quite like this. The melodies were just so flowy and this too adds to the appeal. Altogether, the song manages to bundle happiness in a 3:46 minute track.

I am not too sure if this is the original music video that was meant to be released. But I find the video to be extremely relatable (not including the fridge positioned in the middle of the living room) to the current circumstances that we find much of the world in at this moment. I wonder if this was the intention of the music video, if it was not re-filmed to be applicable to current times. Essentially, we see Taeyeon enjoy her time alone, with what I assume is memories with her love one. We also see Taeyeon in a fake field, surrounded with flowers. This may be an artistic choice, or it could be due to the restrictions in place around the world. I thought this was a great video. The lighting was extremely bright and complimented the happy tone of the song. I would say the music video was simple to a degree, as there wasn’t much going on. But it managed to work with the song.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.6/10

[Review] Lucifer – NOIR

It has been almost a year since we heard from NOIR, who last returned to the stage in June 2019 with Doom Doom. On Monday of this week, NOIR made their comeback with Lucifer and the group’s fourth mini-album, Up The Sky. For those who don’t know or remember NOIR, they are a nine-member male group from LUK Factory. Their past releases include Gangsta, Airplane Mode and Doom Doom.

As it has been a while since the group’s last release, NOIR has become lost to the countless releases that have released since their last comeback. I do vaguely remember key descriptors that I have used for their past tracks – Intensity and powerful. Two words that would be too comfortable to describe Lucifer with. Coincidentally, it is also two words that I have used a lot to describe many other songs. One word I haven’t used to describe their songs yet is ‘typical’. I guess there is always a first for every thing. Listening and comparing the song with their past releases, it seems Lucifer is only intense and powerful when it came to only certain moments of the song, when the rappers come into play. It is the only element that really captures my attention. The vocal work is fine, just not really impactful. And it doesn’t help the song doesn’t have a more catchy hook. What we got was incredibly boring and typical. The chorus of Lucifer, which has been the main attraction with their last releases, takes on a melodic approach, which I don’t mind. It just lacks that, well, main attraction. It comes off as incredibly plain. Overall, the song just doesn’t do it for me. It needs to be bolder and contain another ‘main attraction’, similar to what Airplane Mode and Doom Doom had.

We all know of Lucifer as the angel who fell from grace. In this video, we often all a member dressed in white, which I assume depicts the fallen angel walking with other members dressed in black. At the table, this fallen angel sits at the head, which is where we know Lucifer would sit given his status as prominent member of the underworld. There was also a scene where one of the members was dressed in black, while the rest were in white (i.e. Lucifer before his fall). I did like the simplicity of the plot line and imagery. The lighting and effects seemed a little cliche and typical. I didn’t get the outside choreography shot we got at the very end. It felt out of placed and random as a throw in. But overall, a fair video.

The choreography was okay. I guess that since the song isn’t as dynamic, the performance doesn’t need to be dynamic as well. Most of the moves look rather standard and plain. But there was a few formations and moves that depicted the fall from grace in an interesting manner.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 6.6/10

[Review] Ridin’ – NCT Dream

The returning group of the day is NCT Dream, who returns with the highly anticipated, Ridin’. Technically, this is the comeback where the members would ‘graduate’ from the group, as they have reached the adult age in South Korea. However, it was announced two weeks ago that NCT Dream, after promotions for Ridin’, would abolish the graduation system and become a fixed lineup group. In more exciting news, Mark (who graduated from the group at the end of 2018) would return to be part of the lineup, where small units of the members (if not all the members) would promote under the name of NCT Dream. Definitely exciting news to all NCTzens who support the ‘young’ subunit. But we will have to get through the Ridin’ promotions before we get to that stage, so let’s have a dive into the new song.

Ever since the release of Boom last year, it was obvious that the group would never set foot into their more youthful title tracks. And that game changer song really set them up for future releases, as evident by the quality and style of Ridin’. The intensity that you can feel from the song really rivals the intensity that we got from Boom. The instrumental is described to be an urban trap song. I like how the song plays with the heavy bass synths, mimicking the sound when a motorcycle revs. Given their teasers and music video, I thought this was rather ingenious. Apart from this revving-like synth, I was surprised that the instrumental had a subtle smoothness to it. The vocal work was also surprisingly very smooth. Glad the deep revving-like synth and the rapping gave that rough touch to an extent. But all the members sound very on point. The song had a very catchy melody and ‘Ridin’ and Rollin’‘ hook as well. That kick at the end that Jeno and Jaemin brings in bridge definitely gives the song that impact and climax that boldens the song’s already strong appeal. I do wish they would have gone with something a little bolder so it could have a chance to rival Boom, which I think is still the superior song after writing this review.

To think that this is the group that kicked off their careers with Chewing Gum. They have definitely grown up. The music video seems to throwback to their Go days, where the subunit took on a rebellious phase as part of their growth. When you look at their releases throughout the years, it felt like they moved too soon into that concept at the time, especially since they followed up with We Go Up and Candlelight. The release of Boom really consolidated that image of the group maturing. And hence, the progression into this Ridin’ concept felt natural and the right step forward. Needless to say, the group looks really cool. I thought the set was rather nice, looking like a legit alleyway that leads to a hidden underground garage and mechanic (but obviously a lot cooler than that description!), like in those movies with illegal car racing events. A great music video, in my opinion.

The choreography for this comeback equally looks as cool as the music video. There seems to be some movies where the members mimic the action of revving a motorcycle and show off some other edgy movies. My favourite has to be the smooth move they pull off in the second half of the chorus, contrasting with the intensity and supposed roughness of the song.

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

[Review] BAZOOKA! – GWSN

Another returning group this week is GWSN, who made their comeback yesterday through the release of BAZOOKA!. This is their first release since wrapping up their Park In The Night and debut trilogy with Red Sun (021). This is also their first release since moving to a new label (MILES), which is a sub-label under their original entertainment company, Kiwi Media Group. For those who may have noticed, the group is down a member as SoSo is sitting out due to an injury since earlier in the year. Hope she makes a fast recovery!

Through their previous promotions, the group has developed a very strong association with the quirky and upbeat side of EDM and house music. And I feel like the group could have continued on with this sound and style through their future releases without replicating a carbon copy of their three previous title tracks. BAZOOKA! steps into a different direction entirely, which I am quite sure they have chosen this route to show off some variety in their discography. But I do feel like they stepped into that questionable ‘typical’ region with this new song. It partly conforms to what we hear from other female groups and as a result, I feel that they lost that individuality that they kicked their careers off with. But it isn’t all bad news. They do show off their strong cards in this song. BAZOOKA! is a very bright and upbeat pop track. There is a subtle retro root to the instrumental that I did enjoy. There is also good energy that does keep the song from becoming overly boring. I also like the song’s catchy hooks, particularly the ‘Watch Me, Catch Me‘ repetition and cutesy sounding ‘Play BAZOOKA!‘ that they ‘shout out’ during the chorus and post-chorus hook. Their vocals are what I am a little torn about. The more cutesy parts seem okay (I know, I can’t believe that I enjoyed it), but their other vocals seem a little plain (and is one of the drivers to the early ‘typical’ direction complaint).

The music video opens up with the line ‘Ever have that feeling where you’re not sure if you’re awake or dreaming?‘, which actually sent me chills. It sets the scene to the video and help connect the song to the music. At first, I thought the video had an Alice in Wonderland theme, which is the go-to fairy tale for KPOP video producers to play with. But instead, the members of GWSN had to go around through different doors to find special keys to open the universe, based on the lyrics. There was also some hidden gems of their previous video, such as the symbol on the book and the number 021. I didn’t pick up anymore, but I assume there would be others. The lighting and colours were also helped make it a fun video to watch, while that urban background to the setting helps make the video feel modern.

I thought the choreography was very nice. There was definitely a lot of energy in this performance, as its was jumpy and the music was very upbeat. I really like their ‘BAZOOKA!‘ move and the other hand movements that they do throughout the performance.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

[Review] Stay Tonight – Chungha

Chungha is going all out with her upcoming comeback. Today, she released what seems to be the first pre-release single off her future release, which does not have a confirmed date just yet. The pre-release song is titled Stay Tonight and features both a music video and choreography, which is definitely multiple steps further than most artists take for a pre-release song. Chungha previously release Everybody Says (a ballad) earlier this year. I have yet to review this and will do so sometime in the future. Her last release that I did review happens to be Snapping from last year.

I am kind of glad that this is only a pre-release single and not the actual title track. I find Stay Tonight to be a little messy for my liking. The chorus, pre-chorus and verses seemed a little mashed together and this sounded as if something spoke in a sentence without taking a breath. I also find this messy mash to be interesting as the pre-chorus acted as the suspense mechanism, effectively delaying the drop that forms part of the chorus. While it does sound like I am disliking the song so far, I do like two aspects of the song. The instrumental is the first aspect. The verses has this classy groovy feel, which I really like. The chorus has an awesome, memorable and sassy-feel drop which makes this song a lot more appealing than how I describe it. All of this is totally up Chungha’s alleyway. The ending has a really cool attitude filled sequence, that has practically the same appeal as the choruses, just done with a completely different synth background. The second aspect is Chungha’s vocals. She sounds amazing, which helps keeps the song grounded. Her soaring vocals during the pre-chorus and the bridge are pretty much the main highlights of the song, apart from that final instrumental sequence. While the individual elements of the song were satisfying, it is more so the structure that could have been a little more spaced out in my opinion.

Chungha is definitely a person full of visuals. And this music video highlights just that. Regardless if she dons a casual look, a commanding look, a golden look or a glamorous look, Chungha looks amazing nonetheless. Even she pulls off a lip ring flawlessly. I also thought the sets were visually stunning. The floating panels and the framed rectangular prism all looks superb, which adds to that glamorous touch that the video ended opting for as the video progressed, a concept that without doubt suits Chungha.

Sadly, it has been confirmed that there will be no live performance for Stay Tonight for the time being as it is only a pre-release track. But who knows when it comes to her actual promotions. But this is a stunning choreography. I mean, he literally lies on top of her dancers and have them roll under her, so she moves across (like a conveyor belt). Thats epic. That final sequence also looks stunning and feels pretty much like something she (and any performance queen) would do.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.5/10

[Review] Nonstop – Oh My Girl

Starting off another busy week full of comebacks from the industry’s big names is Oh My Girl, with Nonstop. The song features on the group’s seventh mini-album, which also shares the same name as the title track. This is the first comeback since the release of Bungee, the group’s participation on Queendom (where they came second, which earned them more attention and fanfare) and their return to Japan in January 2020. This comeback also marks the return of Jiho who took a hiatus earlier this year to focus on her health.

As South Korea will soon be entering a warmer climate as they have just one month until Summer kicks in, we can definitely expect to see a lot of songs from the KPOP industry to take on an energetic and fun vibe, typical of the season of Sun. While it isn’t the first to take on the Summer vibes, Nonstop is definitely one of the more obvious examples. The instrumental is a mixture of synth-pop and island genres, with a small injection of hip-hop when it came to Mimi’s rap sequences. As the first song of the year to use the island genre, the sound is relatively fresh. Though, I don’t expect this feeling to remain as more songs start adopting the 2018 and 2019 overused tropical and island trend. Oh My Girl’s song is pretty catchy, thanks to the addictive hook that they have embedded at the end of the chorus. I like how they add a little attitude to this one part, which definitely gives the song some character. Likewise, I like Mimi’s rap section as they added some edge to the song. What I also like about the song is that despite it being bright and energetic, I am glad that the group doesn’t go back to their cutesy roots. There is some points in Nonstop that does steer in that direction, but the song manages to stay on the more likeable side.

The song is about falling and loving for a friend. And they did so in a very beautiful and colourful video. The video takes on a virtual board game, which I think was a good concept. There is more to just the board game however, as their world seems to be overtaken with this virtual theme. This concept on the visual front alone matches the fun vibes that the song contains and the very bright colours really reflect that energetic side of the song, as well. The friend that plays the very important role of lover is a cute teddy bear. The bear does remind me of Ted from the movies, which probably isn’t the best bear/friend to fall in love with. Unless Oh My Girl has that effect on him, which I will totally understand.

The choreography is quite good and very energetic. Overall, I felt the feel and looks of the dance definitely fitted in with the song. There is a bit of aeygo, attitude, edginess and brightness throughout the entire routine. I just don’t find the moves all that memorable, which was a pity.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Review] LIE – IMFACT

We are at the end of a busy week full of comebacks. And I have covered a most of the major comebacks and releases this week over the last few days. But due to a planning issues, I cannot get around to do them all. Hence, why you sometimes see reviews days, weeks and months late. IMFACT’s latest release, LIE, happen to fall into the days category, which isn’t too bad compared to other reviews I have delayed. This is the group’s first comeback in over a year since the release of Only U in early 2019. LIE is has been confirmed to be the title track for the group’s upcoming first mini-album, LL, which will be released next week. A very interesting promotional tactic for the group’s title track to unveiled a week before the actual release of the album.

The other day when I was reviewing APRIL’s recent comeback, I did mention that it would a pity for them to take a break and return with the exact same sound. But I did not need to worry as they used that time to reinvent their sound and it is proving to be very successful. I wish IMFACT did the same thing, as they are very underrated and definitely deserve some attention. Despite being absent from the stage for the same amount of time, the group did not reinvent themselves. LIE relies on that deep house EDM sound that we had heard many times in the past from many artists. While this does make the group fall into the trap of releasing another ‘typical track’, there is something about LIE that just sticks out at me. It could be that the song features a fake (more so subdued) drop at the start of the choruses that I thought were very slick and makes the second half of the chorus feel a lot more explosive that if it was stuck in the front and followed standard conventions. It could be the fact that the rest of the track featured a more clean sound, a feeling that I don’t often get for an entire EDM track. That, or the display of impressive vocal and rapping work from all the members. There was a captivating feel to these two aspects of the song that had me coming back for more. Sure, they could have been more robust and dynamic with their sound, But LIE does an impressive job, in my opinion.

The music video for LIE follows that closeup and choreography combination format. But there are a few elments that has my interestied in the music video. There is a nice aesthetics with the video, thanks to the darkness. The way the colour comes and goes (and how there was usually one colour dominating the screen once colour entered the visuals) was also really interesting aspect of the video. It makes the music video a bit edgy and cool looking. I also like that scene where they were all standing in a circle with microphones and the camera just circles around them. The pictures on the way that Taeho pulls off the walls seem to depict gender neutrality (you can’t tell based on just their silhouette), which indirectly shows us that the group is support the LGBT community. Their acting was pretty good in this video as well. You can definitely see them going that emotive direction based on their acting, which aids the song.

IMFACT’s performance that accompanied LIE looked amazing. There was that slick feel to it when they got to the first half of the chorus. And there was a subtle explosion in this choreography when it came to the second half of the chorus. The rest of the performance was equally as fitting, which definitely makes the performance appealing to watch.

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

[Review] Spit It Out – Solar (Mamamoo)

Solar makes her first solo comeback with the release of Spit It Out, which is the title of both her solo comeback mini-album and title track. For those who do not know Solar is, she is one of the members of the talented female group Mamamoo. As the group has become very established in the industry for their amazing vocals and catchy hits, the first half of 2020 has been focused on the member’s solo promotion. Earlier this year, we saw the solo comeback of fellow member Moonbyul with Eclipse, which was an epic comeback. Let’s see if Solar can be epic in her own right with her solo comeback.

Right from the very first second, Spit It Out showcases its edge by a Latin guitar riff and a consistent deep thumping beat. Just launching in with this simple combination and you can tell that the song will be very appealing. The song sounds epic with bass, which is definitely putting my new headphones to good use and I highly recommend you listen to the song with some headphones to get that same epic feel. I do like how they do build on this for the chorus, but I also like how they do keep to this combination for the song. It does raise the concern of consistency and I have to admit that the song very linear, as a result. But there is a sense of refinement if you look on the flip side of this consistency issue, which is a positive in a way. Solar keeps to a husky tone in this song, which I thought was unique. It is very alluring this way and really helps you enjoy the song. Part of me is waiting for a solo release that has her letting her vocal talents loose, knowing that she has that ability to do so. But at the same time, I am glad she doesn’t do this in this song as it would be really cliche. I do have three favourite parts. The first is ‘Set A Fire Fire Fire‘, which acts as the memorable line of Spit It Out. The second has to be the grand feeling of the bridge. The third part has to be the final chorus, where that final chorus really helps makes the drop feel even more impactful and (repetitive term) epic.

The edginess in this video just from the first few seconds of the music video really shows. That whole routine with the feline claws look very intense. They look so sharp that if one move was ill timed, there would have been some blood. Moving aside from that disturbing thought, I thought the use of fluorescent colours was really nice. Combined that with the really ‘out there’ fashion choices (i.e. spaghetti dress, cat claws, rubber gloves) in this video, Solar really knows how to stand out. This actually goes hand-in-hand with the lyrics of the song, which is all about being yourself and not worrying about what other people. The most jaw dropping moment was her bald look. That is a step that I don’t think any female idol has gone for a concept, but I think it is definitely wonderful that she is going to such lengths to make that statement. It definitely serves its purpose and caught everyone’s attention.

I feel like the performance could have been taken a step towards that that wild side more. It seems like it is held back so Solar can put on a live performance with a microphone. There is definitely potential behind this choreography. There is a fair amount of stomping and fierceness mixed into it. And heck, those cat claws come out.

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

[Review] LALALILALA – APRIL

It has been a while since we last heard from APRIL. Their last officially Korean release was back in 2018 through their Oh! My Mistake comeback. The group was absent from the Korean music industry in 2019, but they did make their Japanese debut with Oh-E-Oh, which was originally a b-side track on the group’s The Ruby mini-album. Today, the group makes their return with LALALILALA, which is the title track off the mini-album De Campo, which also dropped today.

With over a year’s absence from the industry, it would be a pity if APRIL returned with their usual sound. There isn’t anything wrong with their existing portfolio, other than it just didn’t work with the general public. LALALILALA definitely excites me as it goes in a new direction, just as I had wish. There is a beautiful aura around this song, which suits APRIL’s usually style. The instrumental takes on an electronic profile, which is very different to their previous releases. There is a strong beat in this song that reminds me club setting. There isn’t anything new with this style, as it is pretty much done by every other artist in the industry. But just before the chorus, the producers manage to incorporate what I would call a ‘ray of sunshine’ into the song, which gives way for a pretty and charming chorus. This makes the song conform to the group’s usual youthful and innocent charms. The way they do this comes off as fresh and is very neat as well. The song’s hooks are memorable and catchy and this is aided by good vocals from the members. I also liked how the bridge seemed to incorporate a bit of a rap-speak sequence. A more hard hitting rap sequence would have been better, but I don’t think that would match the group’s image. Overall, LALALILALA is a great return to the industry for APRIL. (It also seems to be paying off, as the group is now charting in high positions on the charts, which was never the case for the group before today).

I think the cosmic concept was really a good choice for APRIL, given that the song does have that vibe coming from it. It is very pretty and I liked how they made it their own, as the cosmic concept is commonly associated with a different female group. I did liked how the music video highlighted the group’s visuals and gave an opprtunity for the group to really pop out in their setting. Based on a comment on YouTube, the story-line of the video is about the members dreaming of success. Whether it is actual story-line is unconfirmed, but I liked the direction it went in. I have screenshot a copy of the comment below:

We only saw snippets of the choreography through the music video. But based on what I saw, I would say that this is a good routine. They bring their youthful charm to the choreography, whilst still adhering to the mature sound that the song steers towards. I liked the swaying moves for the chorus hook for its simplicity but also refinement.

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