Returning today is KARD, who has dropped their latest digital single, Dumb Litty. Picking today as a comeback date is rather intriguing. It is rare to see a mainstream KPOP group to release their comeback track on a Sunday, let alone a weekend release in general. But it is KARD and I am not going to question why a Sunday was picked. Might as well get a day of exposure before the rest of the competition. We last saw KARD through their Bomb Bomb promotions earlier in the year.
It seems like KARD’s songs are getting more intense as they release them. This is their most powerful release to date. It isn’t really surprising though, as it is something I am sure KARD had kept hidden for a while. Dumb Litty is centred around a lot of rapping, bringing BM, J.Seph and Jiwoo’s talents out in a very trendy fashion. Somin’s vocals do a pretty good job at keeping up, as well. I find the song to be very in your face, which is definitely a good quality. I also liked how they didn’t tone any parts back, keeping me on the edge of my seat the entire time. It seems a little cliche to do that nowadays, so I am glad they stayed clear of that. For the instrumental, the song features a very strong exotic vibe and hip-hop sound, with the combination of both giving the song a lot of character (if the rapping and fierceness weren’t enough). The chorus was catchy and I think something of this powerfulness deserves a lot more listens in the coming weeks.
The concept that the members went with this time around is Greek methodology. The choice of Greek mythology gods and goddesses for the members felt very fitting for each member. BM channelled Zeus and Thor, fitting for his position as leader of the group. J.Seph was Ares and Dionysus. Somin was Aphrodite and Chloris, while Jiwoo was Hera and Athena. And it wasn’t just the concept teaser images that featured this theme, as the members portrayed these strong mythological characters in the video. I thought the sets and use of colour in the video were fitting for the group and characters. The choreography shots were amazing. The highlight would be Jiwoo’s stare at the start of the bridge. They did kind of scared me and I think that will haunt me tonight.
Not really a performance thing. But I like how the lines were slightly more distributed this time around. This gives the chance for cameras to focus on the members in a more fair way, which will make any fans happy. As for the choreography, it is definitely a strong performance. The chorus moves were matching with the song, in the sense that it felt like it was coming at you the entire time. They also look very charismatic, which is hard to pull off when you have moves like this and lines to deliver like so.
Song – 8.5/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8.6/10
SEVENTEEN returned on Monday during the week with Fear. Channelling their more mature, dark and fierce sides, Fear follows the like of HIT (which is included in this album) and Getting Closer (released at the end of last year). The group is about to embark on their first world tour and the only fitting way to do that is by releasing their third studio album, which is why we are here today. SEVENTEEN’s albums have been a hit for me, so let’s see how this one will play out.
2. Lie Again (거짓말을 해) – Between the two amazing lead tracks of the album is Lie Again. It is a surprising addition, as it is very soft and delicate, quite the opposite to both HIT and Fear in any way. The focus on the vocals is amazing and I really enjoyed how the rappers were tweaked to fit this soft song. I thought the electronic instrumental was stunning, going with a similar aesthetic to what Home had (their title track at the start of the year). It was also very dynamic in its own way and paired well with the vocals and rapping we got in this song, it is a gem waiting to be discovered by listeners and their fans. My favourite part is the chorus, with the ‘drop’ a subtle explosion of energy. (10/10)
4. Let Me Hear You Say – The album continues with another fantastic song. Let Me Hear You Say starts off like any other song. But as the song progresses, you start to hear the song develop. The chorus is completely unexpected, going with a chanting style rather than vocals which dominate the verses. I find the chorus to be like the chorus in Lie Again. There is an explosion of appeal during the chorus of this song that makes it so appealing. The chanting style was very catchy as well, which made it hard to turn away. Energy is still present in this song, but I am kind of glad it wasn’t as intense as Fear, as it would have been an overload. Let Me Hear You Say is kind of the relief that I didn’t know I needed. (9/10)
5. 247 (Performance Unit) – Now we are getting to the other important stuff. The units make their reappearance in this album through a series of tracks. The first one up is 247, sung by the main dancers of the group. It is interesting because I had expected to hear something a lot more upbeat and intense, like Highlight and Lilili Yabbay (their previous unit tracks). I didn’t expect an R&B track from them which really let their vocals shine. They all sounded amazing. But this isn’t a departure from what they do best, as 247 has a dance routine, which has a routine that is equally as beautiful. Like their routine, I find the song to be smooth, elegant and very well-polished. (9/10)
6. Second Life (Vocal Unit) – The next unit up is the vocal unit, which consists of the main and lead vocalists of the group. While I remember them for ballads, it seems like the units are changing expectations by going with different styles. There is more life in this track, in comparison to their heartfelt ballads. I attribute that to their instrumental, which I thought was very cool. It was simple but intense at the same time. It does allow for their soothing vocals to come through, so I can draw some parallels between Second Life and their past ballad unit tracks. I also find the song to be very relaxing. It is something I wouldn’t mind putting on the background and work along with it. Woozi’s randomly higher note does catch you off guard but the song (and the unit) does a good job of recomposing you and getting the track back on track. (9.5/10)
7. Network Love – We take a little breather from the units by introducing a different unit track. Network Love is sung by Joshua, Jun, The8 and Vernon. I don’t think this is an official unit from the group and is a one-off track with the four members. I find that Joshua, Jun and The8 don’t get to shine as often in the title or group tracks. So, Network Love changes that by putting all three members (and Vernon) in the spotlight. Listening to the track, I feel like this is something the Performance unit would perform to but it would have been a good sound for the vocal unit to try something a little different. Their vocals sound nice and the instrumental was bubbly and vibrant in its own way. Vernon’s rapping felt perfect for the tone of the song, not going overboard or holding back too much. The melody during the chorus was also memorable as well. (8/10)
8. Back It Up (Hip-Hop Unit) – It seems like the Hip-Hop unit didn’t get the ‘change it up’ memo that the other units got. But I don’t mind (though I would have loved to hear them try rapping to a ballad or something different to match the other units). Back It Up is intense and very powerful, something completely up the unit’s alleyway. I find each member of the unit brings a very different style to the song, which I think makes this track so much more appealing. It also doesn’t help that each member is filtered differently with the autotune, further proving my point. I really like two parts of the song. Vernon’s very soft ‘Siren’, which was whispered but due to the autotune, it came off as rough. The second has to be the drop in the second half of the chorus, which gave the song an extra infusion of energy that I didn’t know it needed (but I am glad they brought it anyway). (8/10)
9. Lucky – The whole group returns with Lucky, which is another upbeat dance track. It falls into the pop category but there was a bit of funkiness to the instrumental, which made the track enjoyable. It has a classy vibe to it and this vibe becomes more prevalent as you listen to it. I also liked the fast tempo in the verses and then the slowdown, which Jeonghan and Jun ask us to take during their respective parts. It was kind of fun to have them connect to us in this track this way. While the song is great, there was the constant thought that it did feel really neutral and knowing Seventeen, they could have upped something in the song to make it even better. (7.5/10)
10. Snap Shoot – Snap Shoot comes off as a fun song. It isn’t something to deny. I really like the subtle retro style we got from the track, reminding of The Jackson 5’s ABC. The instrumental also sounded like those really happy gospel-like songs we get in movies and musicals. The vocals were nice and I liked the incorporation of the hip-hop segments for the rapping. I think the song could have been more unique if the members started to sing speak to us and engage us in that manner, which would have been fun and something that feels completely like Seventeen would do. But nonetheless, the energy is infectious, and the song is catchy. This track would definitely be awesome to hear in a live performance as well. (8/10)
The last few weeks I haven’t been able to focus on the Japanese reviews due to being a bit busy. But I have finally set aside some time to start attacking the pile that is growing. I am going to start on the more recent side of the spectrum, focusing on the Dream Catcher’s music video release last week. The new single is titled Breaking Out and it is the lead title track on their first-ever Japanese studio album, The Beginning Of The End. The album also features the Japanese version of all their Korean title tracks. The group also just made their Korean comeback with Deja Vu.
When I first heard the first verse, I thought it would be such a waste of an opportunity for the group not to venture into that rock sound that they have maintained in all of their Korean title tracks. Especially since I (and a lot of other people) have described it to be fitting for the Japanese music scene. But I thought too soon, as the chorus is essentially exactly what I wanted. And while the chorus does pack a punch thanks for its rock sound, I found the verses to be very forgettable. It felt boring in comparison to the chorus and I was obviously longing for that rush of energy and intensity. I thought their singing was good but Dami’s rapping didn’t feel like it fitted in well with the rest of the track. I feel like they could have polished Dami’s section in, as it is sticking out a little too much for my liking. Overall, Breaking Out was okay. I just don’t feel like it is up to par with their Korean releases, which is a little odd given my past comments regarding their ability to fit into the Japanese music scene.
I thought the video was nice. I liked the white set and the red strings were felt bold as a result. I think the dull atmosphere was rather fitting, as it gave the girls an edgier look. I know, it isn’t something that I would say when it comes to something dull. But I thought it worked fine in this video. There is a lot of symbolism, but I think I will leave it up to the fans to decipher this video. Overall, I liked it and wouldn’t mind watching it again.
I thought the performance looked quite cool as well. It doesn’t feel as intense as their Korean performances, but I think that can be blamed more on the actual song. After all, the dance can only be created with the song in mind. There seemed to be some elegance present during the slower sections of the song and then a little more fierceness when it came to the chorus.
Song – 7/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.5/10
SATURDAY is back with a brand new single, BByong. We last saw the group through their WiFi promotions earlier in the year. With the BByong comeback, the group has also seen another lineup change. Chohee, Sion and Sunha announced their departure between comebacks, leaving SATURDAY to reform into a five-member girl group. Let’s hope all is well behind the scenes and that the remaining five members will stay together for future comebacks!
The track opens up with brass that is pretty much in your face and dominant. And I actually quite liked that. It made the track colourful and really reeled me in within the first few seconds. The track also had a subtle fun vibe to it, which I think follows on nicely from WiFi. The vocals were pretty nice and I liked how they dedicated the pre-chorus to really zone into this element. The verses contained a fair amount of rapping, which I thought was intriguing. The chorus was split between rapping and vocals. It too felt interesting and the more I listen to the chorus, the more I am enjoying it. While the song still feels like it has a Momoland influence, due to the use of brass and oddly fitting rap breakdown, I find this track to also have an ITZY influence. Certain parts (such as the melody and the start of the chorus) remind me of ICY. Overall, I thought BByong was another decent track from the group. And given the colour and vibrancy that we get from the track, I think this one will grow on me in the future.
The music video is okay. It goes towards that cutesy side of the group that we saw in their previous videos, so it isn’t anything new. It was colourful and the quality felt like the music, crisp and vibrant. The girls were doing a lot of things in the video, such as soap making, travelling to the future, ice cream eating etc. So, in a way, the video is loaded with content. Just not much to really comment on otherwise.
I just found a live performance for this comeback, so now I can write this section. Just my comments aren’t that postive. It isn’t memorable overall. I did like how the centre member spins during that opening line of the chorus. But the rest of the performance felt dull and boring for the song.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 7/10 Performance – 5/10 Overall Rating – 7.1/10
CO-ED groups, for some odd reason, just do not flourish in the KPOP industry. There are only a few co-ed groups active at the moment and I have seen many come and go in the past. To me, it is unexplored territory, given the rareness of the groups. And joining the small niche is K-Tigers Zero. Yesterday, the 12 member group (7 males and 5 females) made their debut with Now and Side Kick. The group is from the taekwondo demonstration group, K-Tigers, who has been previously known for their taekwondo infused dance videos and covers.
We shall start off with Now, which I think can be best described as a chilled song. The song doesn’t pack a punch, which contrasts with their more intense sounding Side Kick (see below). The song allows for the vocals and rapping to be focused upon. The instrumental just doesn’t really let the member hide behind, which is something I have seen KPOP songs do quite often. I thought it was a nice track. The vocals and rapping were okay. Not the best in the industry but they just started out, so there is always room to grow. I find the melody to very appealing and I liked that it is chilled and not to heavy. I really like the end, when all the members are singing together.
Moving to Side Kick, the track is the complete opposite to Now. Right of the bat, it is a lot heavier, utilising EDM in its instrumental. This pack definitely packs a punch. The song also zones in more of the rapping, which I think was pretty decent. Once again, I don’t think they will be getting the award for year’s best rapping. But there is potential behind this group. The vocals don’t kick in until the song’s bridge and I thought they were decent as well. It might have been a little too late, in my opinion. But it was a nice way to cut through the intensity that the instrumental was throwing at us. Overall, two good debut songs.
The music videos are the weakest part of their debut package. Now wasn’t that appealing visually. It is all shot outside and I thought they did well with what they had. The camera work was lacking and the members cannot lipsync to save their life. Their outfits were rather odd as well, as it looked like the theme was white and they could wear whatever they wanted, as long it was white. Side Kick was probably the better of the two. I think there was a storyline of one of the guys getting kidnapped and fights scenes were present make it look like they were looking for him. I wished they developed this storyline. Furthermore, I wished they played with the edginess factor a bit more.
There is no doubt that the performance is the winning element of their debut package. I also like it how they didn’t go completely mainstream, keeping their taekwondo roots in it. It was cleverly incorporated and it looked quite cool. Side Kick was probably the more superior routine as the EDM intensity allowed for more intense moves and overall look to the members.
Now Song – 7.5/10 Music Video – 5/10 Performance – 7/10 Overall Rating – 6.7/10
Side Kick Song – 8/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.4/10
The number of reviews over the last few weeks have been quite low. I am just so overwhelmed with my work at the moment. But it is always nice to have a break and I thought, why not write one review instead. And that is exactly what I am doing now. Laboum made their comeback earlier today with Firework. It is also the lead title from their very first studio length album. This is their first release since Turn It On, which was released back in December 2018.
Since Yulhee left the group back at the end of 2017, Laboum has gone straight into a mature sound. And while I have liked this change in direction, it seems like it hasn’t really caught on with other listeners. Firework follows the same style and I am not sure exactly how others would receive the song. I personally find the song to have a lot more colour in its sound than their other mature singles. I think that is thanks to their vocals, the rap-like sprinklings and the guitar that dominates the instrumental. Their vocal techniques and the melody was very interesting and very attention-grabbing at certain times. I find the chorus to be very dynamic despite the style they went for. I liked how they upped the volume of their vocals and changed the tempo in the chorus, which both resulted in a lot of boldness and a strong contrast with their more softer verses. I just wanted something a little more explosive, especially with the instrumental, given that the song is titled as Firework. But overall, it was a pretty good song.
With the sound change, their image and concepts have also taken a turn from cutesy to mature. And I think they manage to take it a whole new level with this comeback. It feels a lot stronger in that department. I just feel the video could have been a little more captivating. The video follows the choreography and closeup formula, which can be okay in some circumstances. But I feel like the formula this time comes off bland and boring. I did like their use of lights throughout the video to add detail to the sets or fill up space. But it just didn’t really help out much as a whole.
I think the choreography was nice. Once again, there seems to be a lot of energy in their performance (for the chorus) that was unlike their past mature tracks. I also like the elegance they had during the slower sections of the song. I also think their live performance from today was very strong. From their outfits to the stability of their vocals, it definitely raises expectations for tomorrow and the future performance.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 6/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.4/10
Dream Catcher has returned with a special mini-album, Raid Of Dream and its lead title track, Deja Vu. This isn’t your normal KPOP release, as the group’s comeback this time is paired with the debut of the mobile game (something that I have no idea about), King’s Raid. Not sure if it is an English game though or if it is just in Korean. But that is not the main focus of the review. We are here to listen closely to Deja Vu. We also last saw Dream Catcher through their Piri promotions earlier this year.
I think the song is amazing. Barely a few seconds in and I am already in awe of the sounds that were coming out of my speakers. Deja Vu starts off very elegant and very OST-like. Siyeon, the member that opens the song, sounds amazing. Paired with the soft and melodic piano backing, we are given an entrance that is going to be highly memorable. I like the blast of energy that the song gives you during the chorus. It changes the sound up by going toward Dream Catcher’s rock style that we know of. It is intense and it throws a little chaos into the elegant sound that the verses and bridge opt for. Especially, that final chorus. What I like the most is that we are allowed to hear more of their vocals in this track. Even Dami opted for singing, rather than rapping. There was one set of lines that really shot right out at me while listening to the song that I also wanted to randomly touch upon. The ‘So now, I’m holding this pain‘ line is so strong. As a whole, another amazing song from the group.
Matching the song is the video. There is another complicated storyline, which I assume borrows inspiration from the game that they are promoting alongside the song. There were two key endings of the song, each of which showed one side to be victorious in the game. I liked that. Other parts seem to be a bit confusing, such as the ‘funeral’ scene. But as far I can tell, it seems to be the exact same scenario. The members swap positions. Besides the storyline, the video is so beautiful and well shot. The quality is something that really took the video to a whole new level, highlighting the beauty of the sets and the members. This is one to watch.
I think the extra fabric on their arms made the performance fit that elegance that the song and video had going. The moves, overall, looked good. I did like how they ended in a similar fashion to how they started, which was quite cool.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 9.3/10
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 Me – Look 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)
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
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