[Album Review] HUTAZONE (1st Studio Album) – HUTA (Lee Minhyuk (BTOB))

Many male groups that have been active for a number of years so far have reached that stage where their members have started to enlist into the military, a mandatory requirement for all males in South Korea. However, not many do send-offs like BTOB does. Changsub enlisted earlier this year and in December 2018,, he made his solo debut through the mini-album, Mark. Now, Minhyuk (or HUTA) is due to enlist in the coming week and has bid farewell with the release of HUTAZONE, his solo debut album, which features two title tracks (and is the focus of this album review). I personally hope that they continue doing this for all the members who enlist as this is an excellent way to say farewell for the next 2 years, whilst also leaving a treat for fans.

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HUTAZONE Album Cover

1..Hutazone (Intro Track) – Opening the album is the track that shares the same name as the album. HUTAZONE is a great taster for the audience, showcasing his vocals and raps. But not only that we get a range of vocals and raps, which I think is quite impressive. It also gets you into the mood for the album, going with an R&B infused hip-hop track. But the music doesn’t spoil what is come. It just merely introduces the album, which I quite like. (8/10)

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

3. You Too? Me Too! (너도? 나도!) (ft. Jeon Soyeon ((G)I-DLE) – For some reason, this party sound, which is very vibrant and colourful, is quite unexpecting. I particularly like the high-pitch vocalisation in the background for the post-chorus hook. It gives the song that quirky feel on top of the fun vibes. I like his vocals in the song, especially when it was slightly husky. I also liked Soyeon’s featuring in the song as the song suited her tone and delivery quite well. (9/10)

4. Pretend Like I Don’t Care (아무렇지 않은 척)Pretend Like I Don’t Care takes a step back and goes for a vocally driven song (however, he does rap in the song. Just the rapping felt more like a featuring). I liked how the instrumental sounded piano, giving the song a sweet sound. His low notes were shown off during this song and those were my favourite parts of the song. It is definitely interesting to see a change in pace for Minhyuk with such a song. (8/10)

5. This Must Be A Dream (ft. Yoook Sungjae (BTOB))This Must Be A Dream is a duet with Minhyuk and fellow BTOB member, Sungjae. It is a nice jazzy-influenced ballad to really showcase their harmonies and voices. I also liked Minhyuk’s rapping in the song. It didn’t feel needed, but it was still good. It isn’t the standout track for me though, but I am sure some fans (Melodies and co.) will think otherwise. (7/10)

6. Falling Flowers (화) (Interlude) – It was this Interlude that got me writing this album review. Falling Flowers is the hidden gem on the album. It only goes for a minute or so, but it is the best minute or so on the album (no offence to any of his amazing tracks on the album). His vocals are spectacular in this track. It brings chills to me when I think of this song. The instrumental is equally as profound and impactful. (10/10)

7. Fallin’ – Following the previous song, I did not expect something so cheerful right off the start. I expected some easing to occur. But nonetheless, it is another energetic and fun sounding track that really catches on quickly. Once again, both his vocals and rapping stands out in this track. I quite like its pop-centred and colourful instrumental, even though it did feel slightly squeaky. I also liked that xylophone ending. It is something different and refreshing. (8/10)

8. All Day (Korean Version)All Day is a single that featured on Minhyuk’s Japanese solo album which he released last year. For this album, he obviously had it rewritten in Korean. To me, it is another passable track on the album. I liked how it flowed but it was necessary interesting. I think the most catching moment of the song was the synthesizer keyboard in the instrumental. (6/10)

9. Purple Rain (ft, Cheeze)Purple Rain was previously released as part of the Piece of BTOB series back in 2017. You can read about what I thought regarding the track by clicking here. In that review, I did not post a score then but will do so today. (8/10)

10. Tonight (With Melody) (Title Track) – The second title track on the album is Tonight. The song, as suggested from the title, is for BTOB’s fans. It is another fun track. But this one was more light-hearted than the other tracks we have heard of the same nature. Everything about the song is quite likeable but it doesn’t feel memorable for me (though I would think fans would say otherwise). Watching the live performances for this track, I liked how the track was designed to let the fans sing along, which lives up to the ‘With Melody’ part of the title. (7.5/10)

11. Waiting For You – Bring his Minhyuk’s album to a close is Waiting For You, which I thought was a pleasant track to really tie everything together. It brings his vocals and raps together, once again, but in a way that it feels like a send-off. Not serious like his title track nor fun like his other tracks on the album. In a way, it is touching. The instrumental was very appealing due to the violins in the background. I quite liked this song. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

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HUTAZONE Teaser Image
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[Review] Ya – HUTA (Lee Minhyuk (BTOB))

As male groups become more superior due to the amount of time they spent active in the industry, the inevitable occurs. BTOB has reached the stage where their Korean members must enlist into the military. We saw Eunkwang enlist suddenly last year. Changsub enlisted yesterday after his solo debut with Gone. And now it is Minhyuk’s turn to enlist next month. But before he leaves, he is treating fans to the release of his 1st solo album. Under the name HUTA, Minhyuk has two title tracks, Ya and With Melody off his album, HUTAZONE.

New fans of BTOB may know Minhyuk as a rapper of BTOB while some more long-term fans may know he started off singing in the group’s earlier days. Ya brings the two worlds together, giving Minhyuk to showcase his raps and vocals. Ya is actually a very smooth song. While it delves into the hip-hop side of KPOP, Ya starts off with Minhyuk’s deep and husky rap tone. I particularly like that roughness he brings to the table at the end of the final rap section of the song.  Once he starts singing, it beings a refreshing feel to the song. Given his vocals in this song, it makes you wonder why he hasn’t shown it as much in BTOB’s work. I really like the entire chorus of the track, particularly the ‘flexing with ya’ line in the post-chorus hook. It kicks the energy level of the song to the whole new high. Talking about the energy of the song, I liked how everything flowed in this song, particularly the instrumental break at the end of the song, which channelled the energy perfectly.

And like the song, the music video takes full commitment to that dark direction. I am not exactly sure what is happening but it seems like there are two sides of Minhyuk. The presence of these two sides is based on the person he likes, whom he describes as dangerous and should be avoided. His darker self (represented by the black outfit) seems to have the upper hand to his more good side (which is represented as being in the white stray jacket). And as his darker side tells him to stay with his dangerous lover, this results in his apartment catching on fire (a consequence he knows was going to happen). This is also the first time I saw a male idol gradually lose their shirt. In the first set of choreography shots, he was wearing a shirt and jacket. Next set of scenes was a jacket buttoned up. The final set of scenes was abs galore for all the fans out there. And visually, he is very good looking in this music video.

I thought the choreography was nice. It gives him an opportunity to really focus on rapping and singing. But it didn’t seem too simple if you understand what I mean. The moves at the ‘Flexing with ya’ post-chorus hook was rather simple but had attitude. His solo dance at the end was equally as cool and gave him to showcase his dancing ability, giving fans and the audience the trinity.

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

[Album Review] NEW MEN (9th Mini Album) – BTOB

Welcome to the first album review of 2019! Today, we will be having a closer look at the NEW MEN mini-album released by BTOB on the 17th of November 2016. But why are we looking at an ‘older’ album? Well, starting this week, I will be posting an album review for an album released prior to this year. This way we can both discover new songs from the releases in the past as there are always songs being overlooked when it was first released and we can see an artist progression over the years. I have many more reviews coming, so be sure to check them out every Tuesday!

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NEW MEN Album Cover

1..New Men (Intro Track) – For a 1 and a half minutes, we are bombarded with this epic intro track that really sets us up with what is to come. It shows their fierceness and toughness, which leads nicely into their title track. The electrical guitars give the song that edgy feel, while their vocals and rap combination show how serious they are. I like how they managed to incorporate all members into the track despite its limited time span, which usually a difficult feat for a group of many members. (9/10)

2. Pray (I’ll Be Your Man) (기도) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for I’ll Be Your Man. (8/10)

3. Love Drunk (취해)Love Drunk is a mid-tempo ballad. Instead of the usual softness of instruments typical of ballads, the song features a harsh drum beat, which contrast nicely. There seems to be something a tad electrifying hiding in the background (though I am not too sure) during some of the transitions. The song features strong vocals that fit the song well and they incorporated the rapping in a way that still feels soft to match the ballad feel but still harsh enough for the drums. (8/10)

4. I’m Bored (무료해 (콕 To Me)) – With a song that is titled “I’m Bored”, the logical thing is to start off with a yawn. It is a lot brighter than any of the songs that we have heard thus far. I also liked its light-hearted and care-free vibes. The whistle during the bridge was a nice addition as well. Once again, the vocals were good, but I felt like they could have done more for the song. Without the rapping, I felt like I could have easily been bored with the song, which is quite ironic. The rapping gave the song the right amount of kick and energy. (6.5/10)

5. Yes I Am – Besides the title track, the album’s more upbeat songs were my favourite. The chorus for this song is amazing and I always enjoy listening to it when it appears on my playlist. It had the ‘This Is Me’ (from The Greatest Showman. I liked the guitar start to the song and the chorus just kind of came out of nowhere. Vocals were superb in this song. The rapping added another layer of colour to the song, which made it quite unique. Minhyuk’s second verse rap sequence left me surprised for some reason. I assuming it is the speed of his delivery, which is mismatched for the song yet it still working. (9/10)

6. Come On Over (놀러와) – The most upbeat song on this album is awarded to Come On Over. And like my first statement in the previous song, I actually thought this was an awesome track. It was a happy tune, with the chorus here is very bright and lively, which instantly makes it favourite in my books. It is the type of song that you just want to get up and dance to. The falsetto vocals gave the song a little flair, but the winner must be Ilhoon’s vocal lines during the second half of the chorus. The rest of the members shined, whether through vocals or raps. (9/10)

7. I Love You Forever (예지앞사) – Given how the song was written by all the members, it is dedicated to the fans. Reading the lyrics to the song, you can tell that they extremely grateful for their fans and how much their fans mean to them. I found the style of the song to be interesting. It isn’t straight forward like your traditional pop song or ballad, like other fan service songs. Instead, its individualistic side shines through. I personally do prefer their fan dedicated song in a later album to this, but this was still quite nice. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

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NEW MEN Teaser Image

[Album Review] Mark (1st Mini Album) – Lee Changsub (BTOB)

BTOB is nominated for Best Male Group and Best Vocals. Support BTOB and your other favourite artists in this year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards by clicking the link here. Voting closes tomorrow night, so make sure you vote!

The final review of the year comes in the form of an album review. Lee Changsub made his solo debut a few weeks back with Gone and listening to his debut mini-album (Mark), I knew I had to write an album review for it. And I will be straightforward with you, I love all the songs on the album. All the songs delve into the rock ballad side of music, which I really like. His album reminds me Kim Sung Gyu’s (from Infinite) work. But we are here for Lee Changsub and Mark.

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Mark Album Cover

1..Way – Starting off this album is Way, which is a soft rock ballad type song which actually got me interested in the album in the first place. This personally my style of songs that I tend to seek for in Western music. The best way to describe Way is that it is pleasant, perfect for a day that you want to just relax and chill. Changsub’s vocals are breezy and float on top of the music, which adds to that pleasant feeling that I have touched upon. It also has a very nice melody and hook, which has me coming back for more. (9/10)

2. SpaceSpace is similar to Way. However, it kicks it up a notch by adding more of that rock element into the song, which definitely adds character and substance to the song. I also enjoyed Changsub’s vocals in the song, which also kicked the song up to an even higher notch. To me, his vocals were versatile in the song, showing slowness when required and the ability to enter into high notes to give the song that needed climax. Overall, another amazing song from the soloist. (9/10)

3. Shelter – Departing from the ballad side of his music, Changsub opted for a rock song mixed with pop elements, which I thought was nice. It is a break from the rock ballad side, which was needed (or else the album would have been too heavy). Once again, Changsub’s vocals were spectacular. His ad-libs were extremely powerful, and I liked how he used them to extend the finale of the song, which I don’t mind because those ad-libs kept on adding to the song (rather than making lengthening it to drag out the time, which would have been unnecessary). (10/10)

4. Ever – All the songs on his album remind me of At The End. But I think Ever comes the closest to his previous solo single. Firstly, I enjoyed how husky his vocals were. But not only that, however, as the way he built up his vocals for the chorus was a winning component of the song. The instrumental was like any other on the album, so there really isn’t much to discuss Though, I thought an electric guitar solo would have added a nice touch and intensity to the song. I really like ‘Whenever… Wherever… Whatever…’ background vocals as well. (9/10)

5. Gone (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Gone. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

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Mark Teaser Image

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[Review] Gone – Lee Changsub (BTOB)

BTOB is nominated for Best Male Group and Best Vocals in this year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t voted for BTOB yet (or any of your favourite artists), click here to vote right away!

With the impending military enlistment of Changsub confirmed for next year, he is saying farewell (for the next two years) through a solo debut mini-album titled Mark and the title track, Gone. This isn’t the first time I reviewed Changsub’s solo work, as Changsub released another solo single as part of Piece of BTOB, At The End. BTOB also returned a few weeks back with Hour Moment and the single, Beautiful Pain as a parting gift to their fans before the military enlistment of each member.

Given Changsub’s vocals, it was expected he would go with a song that would show off his vocals. Gone does just that. It is a ballad that has a standard ballad instrumentation but manages to incorporate some flair into the song. The buildup instantly comes out of nowhere, which was a great way of offsetting the slow start to the song, which I felt made the song feel too standard. So, this buildup was definitely needed. His vocals start off really nice, matching that slow, soothing sound. But it built up at the same rate as the instrumentation’s buildup, remaining as the main focus of the song. And I liked how powerful his vocals got, which really gave the song a needed kick. Despite that, I like his soft touch to the ending, which made the song feel like it ended as a complete circle. Overall, a pretty cool solo debut ballad.

The music video features APINK’s Chorong, who I found out are friends in real life, based on what I am reading. I not 100% sure on what the video is about and I have yet to find English lyrics to really give me hints. But here is my take on it. Changsub is a top celebrity, who is tired of his work. He decides for a night out at a small bar, where he meets Chorong, who is a singer at the bar. Chorong is verbally abused for probably being a poor singer and she is about to attack her abuser when Changsub stops her and drags her away. She thanks him by inviting him back to her part-time work to have a soft jam session. He writes a song with her in mind and he performs it at the same bar. He is slightly nervous, but Chorong is present to support him, which leads to a successful performance. It was a nice video to watch, overall.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Album Review] Hour Moment (1st Special Album) – BTOB

BTOB made their return with Beautiful Pain (the title track) and a special mini-album, Hour Moment. This is the first release without Eunkwang (as I have mentioned already) enlisted into the military a few months back. Despite being without their main vocalist, BTOB has effortlessly filled the void that Eunkwang left with one anothe], expected of a group with amazing vocalists and rappers. So without any more delays, let’s have a quick look at their album.

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Hour Moment Album Cover

1..Friend (Pre-release Track) –I liked the progression between a ballad-like start to an upbeat and inspiring sound at the end and during the choruses. The message of the song expresses gratitude to their friends, which plays in nicely with the members impending military enlistment. Eunkwang, who enlisted a few months back, participated this song and it is nice to hear his voice once again. While I am on the topic of vocals, everyone sounded amazing here, especially Ilhoon’s vocals during the second half of the chorus and Peniel’s raps in the second verse. (9/10)

2. Like It – Like Friend, Like It follows the same pattern. It actually starts off slower and softer than compared to the previous song. But it picks up a little sooner, at the start of Ilhoon’s vocal lines which is still in the verses. The song is R&B based, with a lot of the synths in the instrumental reminding me of the R&B genre. I felt the song was a little more straight forward and typical, in comparison to the rest of the songs. Nothing new about this track. But in the wise words of the song’s hook, ‘I like it’. (8/10)

3. Butterfly (나비) – We now come to the softer side of the album. Unlike the previous songs, there isn’t a turn in the instrumental which incorporates electronic synths and make it into an upbeat song. Instead, the guitar in the instrumental remains throughout, reminding me of some folksy songs. I like how their vocals weren’t extravagant in this song, instead opting for something that felt a little more constricted in a number of manners (such as pitch and volume). But nonetheless, the vocals were quite nice. I liked the hushed rapping, which felt fitting. (8/10)

4. Please (제발) – It is finally nice to hear Ilhoon return to some rapping. I say that because his section stands out the quite a bit. From his section onwards, the song turns into a power ballad, boasting a very dramatic (yet sparingly used) orchestral instrumental, power vocals from the vocalists and smashing raps from the rappers. Everything comes together to form a very powerful and well backed track. The highlight of the song has to go to Peniel’s rapping, which climaxes the song perfectly and fitting in with the power ballad side of the song extremely well. (10/10)

5. Beautiful Pain (아름답고도 아프구나) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Beautiful Pain. (9.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

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Hour Moment Teaser Image

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[Review] Beautiful Pain – BTOB

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

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

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

[Updated] I think they could have left out the dance entirely for this round of promotions. Though, I think it was more keeping all their ballad releases consistent. The performance was nice, with the backup dancers doing most of the dancing. The members did have some moves but not as much as in the past. I did like Peniel’s cane dance, which did look cool.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 8/10
[Updated]
Overall Rating – 9.4/10 [Updated]

[Review] Cookie – Lee Hong Gi (FT Island) ft. Jung Ilhoon (BTOB)

Another solo return from another artist! This time, it is Lee Hong Ki with Cookie. Lee Hong Gi made his solo debut back in 2015 with Insensible, which earned him two weekly music show awards. And while it has taken him 3 years to return, Lee Hong Gi has been active in dramas, variety shows and also FT Island comebacks (the most recent being Summer’s Night Dream.

I personally expected Lee Hong Gi to release a ballad for his solo comeback. So it was very unexpecting to hear tropical influences in his song. It feels like an attempt to modernise his sound for the current market, which is a complete opposite to what FT Island is doing. But it is still a fairly decent song. And even though it is a tropical house sound, Hong Gi brings his signature husky vocals, so you can’t really go wrong there.  I personally really like the bridge as it brings out the best out of the vocals and instrumentation. Jung Ilhoon (from BTOB) also makes an appearance in the song. Surprisingly, his section is earlier on in the song and was fairly short. As the song progressed, I was kind of expecting Ilhoon to rejoin to fully complete the song, Just it never happened. I am also not too sure about the odd whisper of ‘You should wait for the cookies‘ at the end. What context is this in?

I am not too sure on what is going on in the video. It looks like Hong Gi is some alien with anti-gravitational powers that he may not be able to control. When he walks inside the building, the things around him start floating away. When he is supposedly meant to face off with Ilhoon, he causes both of them to float around. And everyone comes around him for some floating experience. I guess it would be cool. It isn’t the most interesting video but it boring in any way. Fun observation: Hong Gi also released a pre-release single with Cheetah featuring on it (review coming soon), which was also shot in a barn (and I assume it is the same one).

What perked my interest with this comeback is that it was going to feature some choreography Lee Hong Gi doesn’t dance when it comes to FT Island comebacks, so it was going to be interesting. I have to admit, while it isn’t much, he pulled it off well without looking awkward (which is the case for first-time dancers) and he looked really proud of himself. Good job!

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

 

[Review] When It Rains – BTOB-BLUE

BTOB-BLUE has finally returned with a brand new single titled as When It Rains. The subunit, which comprises of BTOB’s vocalists, made their subunit debut in 2016 with Stand By Me. While it has been two years since their last release, BTOB’s comeback have proven to be quite popular with Movie, Missing You and this year’s Only One For Me topping the charts.

When It Rains taps into a under appreciated treasure chest. While we do get a fair bit of amazing vocals from the vocalists when they perform as BTOB, you don’t get too many heartfelt vocals. When It Rains allows this to occur and it makes the song quite strong. The song, for the first verse, second verse and first chorus, remains very linear like most ballads. They do push a bit during the first chorus but it isn’t that spectucalr to really dwindle on. But it is the entrance into the second chorus that really comes out of nowhere for me. And it is this section that really grabs my attention. And I like how they maintain this energy through to the end of the song. I like the background vocals and the instrumental, which does get me swaying along to the song. Overall, I think it is a really good song that protrays their vocals in a very good light, which didn’t really occur in their debut track.

The music video opens up on a rainy day with Hyunsik getting ready before the sun rises in his cafe. Throughout the video, we see the rest of BTOB-BLUE go about on their day on the rainy day. There is a lot of staring into the sky and rain, which works well with the song. Interestingly, at the end of the video, we are shown that all the members are converging to the cafe, which is where they all work. I think this was a very interesting plot-twist. I do like how they manage to cut the sadness from the song when they interact together at the end, which was nice.

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

[Album Review] This Is Us (11th Mini Album) – BTOB

BTOB recently made their comeback with their 11th mini-album, This Is Us. It features a total of 7 songs in total, including the title track (Only One For You) and the pre-release single (The Feeling). While the title track was described as a follow to their vocally-centred Missing You comeback last year incorporated with a Summer feel, the rest of the mini-album shows a variety of different genres that show off different sides of the group. So scroll down below for the review of each track on the album!

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This Is Us Album Cover

1..Call Me – Starting off the album is Call Me, which I can easily describe as a great opener to the album. The entire song had this ‘party hype’ vibe to it. It did start off a little slow, however once Ilhoon’s rap appeared in the first verse, the song instantly becomes so much better. I really enjoyed the chorus, with the great vocals during the first half and the unexpected trumpets which gave it a nice touch. The ‘Come and join your part, you’re the one and only’ hook was addictive. I thought the vocals and rapping were great. Combining that with the overall atmosphere I got from the song, this was easily one of the best songs on the album. (9/10)

2. Only One For You (너 없인 안 된다) (Title Track) – Click here for the full review of Only One For You. (8.5/10)

3. Yeah – The song had a nice laid back type of feeling to it, which made it easy to listen to. It also incorporates a summery feel to the song, which results in some brightness. Overall, I wouldn’t say the song was exactly memorable but it was still decent. The vocals were good but they weren’t amazing, like other songs on the album. Instead, the rapping here was component I liked best in this song. Likewise, I thought the xylophone was quite cool, just the rest of the instrumental felt lacking. (8/10)

4. Blue Moon – The song is the jazz central of the album. Compared to the previous songs, there was a hint of seriousness, which I thought was rather interesting. Despite that, the song maintained it upbeat-ness, with the instrumental described as groovy. I enjoyed the piano instrumental break and I thought the rappers incorporated their sections very creatively into the song. Vocals were amazing. But I think the winning component/moment in this song is the final chorus, which layered everything from vocals, raps and instrumental into a ‘show-stopping’ moment for the entire album. (9.5/10)

5. Icebreaker (Rapper Line) – This is a fun sounding track that is full of energy and brightness. While that is usual mechanism of getting me to enjoy the song, there is a few things that do stand out that you don’t think too much of. Firstly, I liked how the 3 members evenly participated in the songs (usually they are given one small section or one member outweighs the other two in terms of lines). I thought the hip-hop vibes in the chorus were nice. And it was expected that clean delivery of their lines, given their past works. Secondly, the best part of the song is unexpectedly Peniel, who usually is the member who is under appreciated in their group. His section was good and the little monologue at the end was hilarious. It gave the song a unique and standout moment. (9/10)

6. 1,2,3 (BTOB-Blue) – While the rappers got their own song, I am glad the vocal line of the group also got their own song. It is a R&B song that showcases their husky vocals (which, at times, felt almost like a whisper). Not sure of that repetitive synth in the background, which felt like it was depressing ‘Uh, Uh, Uh’. It did give an interesting texture to the song but it did get annoying towards the end. I personally felt like the song was so soft that you can easily miss the track. But other than that, it was a nice song to listen to. (7.5/10)

7. The Feeling (Pre-Release Track) – This song was released a week prior to their official comeback. It takes the form of a ballad but it has a modern/non-traditional instrumental and is upbeat in terms of tempo. What makes this track standout even more is the great vocals and rapping. It is another track that is pleasant and ‘easy on the ears’. I liked the silence during the song verse for the rapping and how all the members came together for the final chorus, which rounded out the song nicely. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

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This Is Us Teaser Image

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[Review] Only One For Me – BTOB

After a very successful comeback, BTOB has finally returned with their 11th mini-album to date. This Is Us (the mini-album’s title) features Only One For Me, which the title track and the pre-release single, The Feeling (which was released last week). As mentioned previously, the group made a very big splash in the industry last year with their Missing You track, which charted extremely high during their promotional run.

Only One For Me takes BTOB’s vocals (made popular by their ballad trilogy and Missing You comeback) and combines it with a Summer seasonal instrumental. While that combination doesn’t really make sense in my head, it works really well. And the melody for that section of the song was quite light and drifty. The song does manage to have a change-up, which you can hear in the second half of the chorus, where the group comes together as one and chants their way through. It gives the song a catchy foundation, which I gladly appreciate. It does maintain the instrumentation but the major change is how they vocally put themselves forward. The song does return to that melodic flow that it started off with, kicking up a notch for Peniel’s ‘hype-feel’ and Minhyuk’s powerful rap sequence. Vocally, the group sounded amazing. I really like the song and if you enjoyed their previous track, this is something you should check out.

I liked the opening shots with the members returning from some formal event and kind of kicking it back. They split up from each other doing their own thing. But I like how they managed to show the members in a one-shot motion, the camera shifting focus from member to member when they enter each other’s screens. The video then goes to some wharf, which the members relax on (while still in their formal gear). And then there were night shots with the members in more casual wear. It was a nice video to watch, complimenting the song’s ballad-y feels. I like how the shots were smooth, which also complimented the song.

[Updated] As expected, there was choreography in the performance of this song. I really liked the dance for the second half of the chorus, which looks even better when the fans are harmonising along with the song. Also, I thought Changsub’s solo moment at the very start of the song was quite nice, as well. It was a pleasant routine for a very pleasant sounding song.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10 
[Updated]
Overall Rating – 8.2/10 [Updated]

 

[Review] She’s Gone – Jung Ilhoon (BTOB)

Jung Ilhoon, the main rapper from boy group BTOB, has featured in many tracks of other soloists and groups. On top of that, he has also developed as a producer over the years. Now, he has made his official solo debut with She’s Gone. It is the main title track featured on his debut mini-album, titled as Big Wave.

Let me start off by saying that this is an excellent song. What makes She’s Gone so good, for me at least, is that the song grows as it progresses. Rather than having a slight buildup, the entire song is built up with various sounds and textures as it plays, which makes it a very interesting track. Not only that but it gives the song some character, making it a song to check out. The song is heavily centred around the hip-hop genre, which was expected. Starting off the song, however, is a guitar riff that reminds me of country music. It then progresses into something similar to rock, all the while keeping true to the hip-hop sound.  Ilhoon both sings and raps in this song. The rapper Ilhoon has been seen multiple times before but his raspy vocals (which we don’t see often) make this track even better. The choruses are amazing drawing my attention to the song. In particular, the accumulation of all that energy in the song is presented in an explosive manner during the final chorus, which makes listening to this song worthwhile.

The entire music video is quite fast-paced, which matches the tempo of the song. Everything in the video was filled with angst and had an edgy vibe to it, which makes sense. The song is about the feeling you would get after seeing an ex-lover whom you did not part ways on a good note. So all that feeling was portrayed well in the music video. It is a good video which pairs well with the song on so many levels.

I feel like the dancing in the music video was more suitable for the live performance. Mainly because the choreography we do see on stage is relatively slow and not that energy packed like the song. That being said, I can’t help think the slowness in the dance seems to contrast nicely with the song and I was quite satisfied when I watched the performances.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 8.9/10

 

[Review] So Do You – Seo Eunkwang (BTOB) & NC.A

A few days ago, Seo Eunkwang and NC.A joined forces with a new duet, So Do You. We all know Eunkwang as the main vocalist of BTOB, while NC.A is a soloist who recently participated in the reality rebooting show, The Unit. NC.A also placed in the top 9 ranking at the end of the showing, earning her a place in the upcoming group UNI.T. They aren’t necessarily the first two artists to put together but their latest track proves otherwise.

So Do You captivates me for one particular reason, vocals. Both singers make this song so interesting to listen to. Their solo parts just confirm their skills in the singing department. I just like how they voice climbed higher as the song progressed, pushing the song further than the previous second. But when the two comes together, there is a clear balance between both singers, allowing harmonies to sound so good. Despite the content in the middle (i.e. their vocals), the song started off soft. More interestingly, the song ended on a much softer volume, which is an intriguing yet contrasting aspect of the song. The instrumental wasn’t that impressive, which left the biggest emphasis on the vocals. Needlessly to say, whoever wanted these two to come together was definitely on the right track and it resulted in such a good song to listen to.

The song is about the memories we have of a past lover so it would make the most sense to show that storyline in the music video. Interestingly, the video opens to Eunkwang and NC.A singing on the streets, with the male character of the music video stumbling into the picture. Listening to the song, he starts crying and reminiscing about those fond memories he had. We see the couple act our their lovey-dovey days and see the relationship progress to a sad breakup. At the end of the video, we also see the female character run into the guy, who is still busy crying. Yet, we do not know what happens afterwards. The idea of the video is quite great and fresh in a way. The thing I would change was to make him cry later on. It just felt too soon to have him start crying at the start of the video/song.

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

2017 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Results

**drum rolls please**

It is time to announce the winners of the 2017 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. This is the first year ever that you (the readers) got the opportunity to vote and pick out the winners of each category (excluding a few). Let me just start by saying thank you for all those who participated in the voting process, as you all made this possible.

This will be an EXTREMELY LONG post and it will be gif heavy so it may take a while to load up. If you have a slow internet connection (like me), you can still view the winners (along with the nominees if you missed the voting period/want a reminder) by clicking the link here.

The respective gifs for each category represent the winners which you voted for, while I have put down my pick for the category. I have opted to not do a commentary this year due to the already long length of this post.

BEST MALE GROUP DEBUT

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Wanna One

Author’s Choice – Wanna One


BEST FEMALE GROUP DEBUT

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Dream Catcher

Author’s Choice – Dream Catcher


BEST SOLOIST DEBUT

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Kim Chungha

Author’s Choice – Jung Sewoon


RISING STAR

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Monsta X

Author’s Choice – NU’EST W


BEST SUBUNIT

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SEVENTEEN Performance Unit

Author’s Choice – Gugudan 5959


BEST CO-ED GROUP

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KARD

Author’s Choice – KARD


BEST MALE SOLOIST

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G-Dragon (Big Bang)

Author’s Choice – Bobby (iKON)


BEST FEMALE SOLOIST

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IU
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Sunmi

Author’s Choice – Sunmi


BEST VOCALS

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BTOB

Author’s Choice – DAY6


BEST RAPPER

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Zico (Block B)

Author’s Choice – Bobby (iKON)


BEST JAPANESE SONG BY A KOREAN ARTIST

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One More Time – TWICE

Author’s Choice – One More Time (TWICE)


BEST COLLABORATION

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Honey Bee – Luna, Solar, Hani

Author’s Choice – Bye Babe (Chen & 10CM)


BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

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Don’t Wanna Cry – SEVENTEEN

Author’s Choice – Gashina (Sunmi)


BEST MUSIC VIDEO

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Peek-A-Boo – Red Velvet

Author’s Choice – You In Me (KARD)


BEST MALE GROUP

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B.A.P
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EXO

Author’s Choice – SEVENTEEN


BEST FEMALE GROUP

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Red Velvet

Author’s Choice – Red Velvet


BEST NON-TITLE TRACK SONG

Beautiful – Pentagon


BEST ALBUM

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Palette – IU (4th Studio Album)

And there you have it, the 2017 KPOPREVIEWED Award Winners. Congratulations to all! Hopefully, the artist’s that you picked came out on top and were victorious.

As for the BEST SONG OF THE YEAR award, it will be published in a separate post. For this year, the winning song will be the song that tops the End Of Year Charts (to be published on the 15th of January).
NOTE: YOUR VOTES MAKE UP 50% OF THE END OF YEAR CHARTS, WITH THE OTHER 50% CONTRIBUTED BY ME.

[Album Review] Brother Act (2nd Studio Album) – BTOB

BTOB has returned with their second full-length album, Brother’s Act, which is based on the movie, Sister Act (starring Whoopi Goldberg). The album returns to the group’s ballad roots that earned them recognition for this vocal and rapping skills, which they previously displayed in their ballad trilogy. And given their performance so far on the charts, this return is much appreciated by fans. Please note that I will not be looking into the Prelude or the Interlude of this album.

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Brother Act Album Cover

2. Missing You (그리워하다) (Title Track)Click here for full review of Missing You (9.5/10)

3. My Lady – My Lady is one of my favourite tracks off the album. The instrumental is definitely my style of music, so I started liking the song before I started paying attention to the other elements. Vocally (for both the singers and rappers), the song is on point. There was a nice balance between the members and the soft pop instrumental. My favourite parts of the song were definitely the “Give It Up” lines at the start of the pre-chorus and when Peniel started singing his lines. Finally, some light on who I think is probably one of the underrated members of the group. (10/10)

4. Red Lie (새빨간 거짓말)Red Lie is a track that literally begs their significant other to stop lying to them and just break up because there is nothing more between them. My assumption with the title is the Red Lie is referring the girl’s red lips. The instrumental is quite nice, with the guitar giving the track a little colour and avoiding the ‘typical’ ballad trap. I would like to see them perform this song, as well. The upbeat instrumental of the chorus makes me very curious about that accompanying dance that they could add in alongside the song. (9/10)

5. Blow Up (신바람) – You can always expect BTOB to throw something quirky in the mix. Their performances for Blow Up were amazing. It is exactly what I would have expected if their personalities off stage and their music clash. Blow Up is the party track that definitely gets the party started. It is also a nice change for the album, which places a great focus on ballads and softer forms of music. (9.5/10)

7. Na Na Na (나나나)  – Catching me off guard with this song is the fabulous intro that Sungjae delivered through his vocals. His vocals are so fitting for this song. Nonetheless, the other members do a great job but the real winner has to be Sungjae in this song. The song is essentially that Autumn track that you would listen to while having a walk in the park. And it is also a great track to sway along to, especially with that consistent thumping and guitar strumming instrumental. (9/10)

8. Dream (꿈에) – While it is good music, Dream fits right in with that typical ‘ballad’ stereotype. It is the one track on the entire album that I thought they could have spruced it up a bit. Most likely they composed the song that way to mimic a lullaby, but to me, it is the weakest song on the album.  That being said, the vocals do add an element of appeal to the song. It is the raps that I thought were a little awkward for the song. (6/10)

9. Guitar (Stroke Of Love) – For a song with the title “Guitar”, there isn’t that much guitar in it. Until I looked into the lyrics and realized that they weren’t really talking about the instrument. Instead, the lyrics a little suggestive. Okay, not a little. They were downright sexual and it was not a misunderstanding scenario. “I’ll hit that G precisely, We’ll be making sweet music tonight, Let your neighbours know your name right now”. But musically, it is a more upbeat track that gives you some relief from the ballads you have been exposed to. (8/10)

10. Running Into Breakup (이별을 만나다) – The song is about when the guy is accepting the fact that they can no longer be together. Running Into Breakup does feel a tad bland in my opinion. But what saves it is the rappers, who display a great example of how raps should be in ballads, along with the swaying element that you probably know I seek in ballads now.  (7/10)

11. Fly Away – This particular track is definitely one of the more pleasing tracks on the entire album. There is some warmth that comes from the sounds of it. The contrast between the minimal verses to the explosion of sound you get for the chorus was definitely one of biggest highlights of the song. The only thing that I have to say (once again) that does take the appeal away from the song are those autotuned parts at the end of the choruses. (9/10)

12. Finale: Our Concert (Finale: 우리들의 콘서트) – The album ends off with another sweet pop ballad, written for this fans. And it is extremely fitting to end on a more happier note, rather another love story. All the members shine brightly in the song, with the feel of inclusion quite prominent in the song. I love the epic instrumental and that section where everyone is singing in the chorus. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

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Brother Act Teaser Image

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[Review] Missing You – BTOB

BTOB is back with their brand new full-length album, Brother Act. The album is their first major release after Movie earlier on in the year. Since then, however, they embarked on giving a different side of themselves through solo releases. This project, known as Piece of BTOB, started in April and ended in September. I did a quick review of each track and you can find that review by clicking the link above.

Missing You is described to be a ballad and it turns out, it is a really good one. BTOB has flaunted their skills through their ballad trilogy in the past but there is something about this one that makes it sound better. The instrumental is already a big plus in my books. The guitar and the soothing nature of it just make me feel warm.  But the bigger winner when it comes to ballads are the vocals. Listening to the track, you can feel the emotions that oozes from the song. And don’t get me started on how good they sound. The raps actually give off an interesting feeling. While they add a little more variety to the song, it also adds a contemporary feel and uplifts it, to an extent. But what got me was that final chorus, where everyone chants the lyrics. It caught me off guard and I had to take a moment to settle myself down from the grand feel I got from it. Overall, amazing song.

Personally, it was a good video to watch. It opens up with Hyunsik playing the piano and writing some music. For some reason, the scene was quite haunting but the notes he played were so familiar. The video then shows each member reflecting on losing a loved one. A lot of screaming and anger ensues. They end up coming together and have a walk in the desert, which was interesting but confusing at the same time. The darkness and brown hazy colour palette of the video made it make serious and emotional to your eyes. Their acting is phenomenal and probably made the video much more enjoyable to watch.

[Updated] Due to some requests and more information coming to light regarding the performance, I have decided to redo my updated performance review. BTOB had incorporated sign language into their choreography, which definitely makes the whole performance more intriguing to watch. The way they managed to include the language was incredibly smooth, fitting right in and flows well with the other elements of the comeback.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10 [UPDATED]
Overall Rating – 9.5/10 [UPDATED]