[Album Review] XIX (1st Mini Album) – 1THE9

This was meant to be Friday’s album review. But instead of cancelling it, I moved it to today in order to keep up with the continuing influx of albums (for IZ*ONE fans, I will be publishing the album review for their mini-album in May, apologies for the delay). Today’s focus is on 1THE9’s debut, with XIX and Spotlight. For those who don’t know, 1THE9 was formed through the survival show, Under Nineteen, which aired between 2018 and 2019. More details about the group have been dug up recently (by myself) including that they will be together for a period of 1 year and that all members are currently under the age of 19.

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XIX Album Cover

1..Domino (ft. Crush) (Pre-Release Track) – Kick-starting their career in the industry is Domino, which was produced the featuring artist, Crush. The song starts off with a strumming acoustic guitar. It was an intriguing start but disappeared once the members started singing. Instead, Domino ended up being an R&B dance track, containing many dubstep effects and synths throughout to make it engage listeners. Adding to this engagement is the tempo of the track. It is slow churning but well paced, and I like how they kept with that throughout the track. Vocals and rapping were quite good. Altogether, the Domino elements come together nicely, making this track a great opener to their album and career. (8/10)

2. Spotlight (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Spotlight. (6/10)

3. The Story (우리들의 이야기) – Judging by the song’s title, I had expected it to be ballad-like. To an extent, the song does have that ballad-like vibe to it. It, however, is combined with another well-paced and slow tempo dance instrumental. Together, it gives The Story a reflective and appreciative tone that shows their commitment to themselves, each other and their fans. The song has a nice melody that is very easy on the ears and isn’t cluttered in any way. Both vocals and rapping were showcased in this song, so I thought it was a well-balanced track. The only problem is that this track is a little cliché, especially with Produce 101 doing this for each of their seasons before sending the participants off to the announcement of the final resulting group. (8/10)

4. R.N.R.H. (Right Now Right Here) – We now return to something a little more intensified. R.N.R.H starts off as a nice standard pop dance track. It felt melodic and almost beautiful. But nothing is what it seems, as demonstrated by many tracks by other KPOP songs. They start infusing some electronic effects and a rolling drum beat into the background. Not too extreme of a change as the track doesn’t make a complete changeup and it was a very nice change. But it is after the rap-spoken line, ‘Right Now, Right Here’ that the track takes an unexpected turn. The chorus goes with a low and tenses up. This was an extreme change but it fascinatingly interesting. They continue the same format of pop and then intense chorus for the rest of the song to maintain that interesting appeal. One final thing but I would have expected an ending with a little for definition. It just felt incomplete, especially after all those changes. (8.5/10)

5. Gravity – Ending the album is Gravity. I am a little torn about the song. I wanted something to lead off nicely from the somewhat flippy R.N.R.H, so to hear a more standard dance track was a little disappointing. But if I were to listen to the song standalone, I think this would be a decent track with a nice melody. I particularly like the post-chorus hook, which was rather catchy. The vocals were nice and the rapping definitely kept the momentum of the track up. I think I would have wanted something a little more catching to really give the song that needed attraction. And maybe this extra element could have been what was needed to allow the song to continue from R.N.R.H. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

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XIX Album Teaser
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[Review] Spotlight – 1THE9

Weekend releases are quite uncommon, especially at the start of a group’s career. 1THE9 made their respective debut over the weekend, with their first album release occurring on the 12th of April (Saturday). Currently under MBK Entertainment, 1THE9 was formed through the survival program, Under Nineteen. Also based on the name, the group has 9 members including Yoo Yong Ha, Kim Tae Woo, Lee Seung Hwan, Shin Ye Chan, Kim Jun Seo, Jeon Do Yum, Jung Jin Sung, Jeong Taek Hyeon and Park Sung Won. Their debut track, Spotlight, is featured on the mini-album, XIX.

Spotlight follows the trend of Latin pop, which we all know has been dominating KPOP for the past year or so. And as it goes for a very overused trend in the industry, the song fails to really standout. It also doesn’t help that I thought the song was rather weak in terms of hooks and memorable elements. I found the main hook (the ‘Merry-go Merry go-…round‘) in the chorus to very, once again, very typical and not that catchy overall. I feel like more could have been added to the instrumental to make the song pop right out. I had the craving for some electric guitar towards the end, which I think could set the track up to be slightly more powerful. The vocals were alright. They just didn’t have anything to really make me go wow in this domain. The rapping was a lot more interesting. I liked the tone and it really showed a lot of potential down the road! Overall, Spotlight was an okay debut track. It was just very typical.

The music video starts off with two songs that I assume come from their mini-album. The actual Spotlight song doesn’t start until 1:07. However, the presence of the two other tracks didn’t allow the video to flow too nicely and a little hard for me to get through. The same thing could have been said about the music video. It connects with their album teaser’s video but it seems to be its separate story. The members end up having a party in the gymnasium, which seems to upset the coach (who already had previous beef with one of the members). He is escorted away and they all have fun partying. The entire Spotlight subsection in the video isn’t connected to any of this and I wonder why the start and end were even wrapped around it. This subsection contained bright vibes through the use of vibrant colours in the choreography and solo shots. I did think this was a little too much, as I felt a darker vibe could have really shown a nice contrast. But that wouldn’t fit the group’s young image.

The choreography was rather nice. Finally, something that wasn’t typical or confusing. I liked their energy and the post-chorus section was probably my favourite parts of the entire performance!

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.4/10