[Album Review] 1 Billion Views (1st Studio Album) – EXO-SC

Today’s album review focuses on EXO-SC’s latest album release, 1 Billion Views. It has been a while since I promised this album review for a reader of this blog. The long delay was mainly because I wanted to write reviews for each of their duo’s solo tracks that are featured on this album (as they had music videos). I just kept on running out of time to write them and ended up delaying them until earlier today. Please accept my apologies for the long wait! And before I delay it any further, here is my review for the 1 Billion Views album, which features the title track of the same name.

1 Billion Views Album Cover

1. 1 Billion Views (10억뷰) (ft. Moon) (Title Track)Click here for the full review of 1 Billion Views. (7/10)

2. Say It (ft. Penomeco) – There are two main appealing elements in Say It. Unfortunately, neither of those two elements are actually EXO-SC. They are good in this melodic hip-hop track, but I just don’t have much to say about them. The first element that I enjoyed was the instrumental. It is quite laid back and has a lazy vibe to it (a compliment). Interestingly, it is also quite upbeat. Say It manages to find a well-balanced middle ground between having an active consistent beat and that lazy carefree vibe. The second element is actually Penomeco’s featuring. He comes into the track during the song’s chorus and helps smooth out the song quite nicely. I also like his voice and how it compliments that lazy vibe that I mentioned (also another compliment). But as this is an EXO-SC track, I am left wanting more from the main pair. (6/10)

3. Rodeo Station (로데오역)Rodeo Station jumps right out at me with its guitar melody that kicks off the song. The rest of the instrumental builds on this, bringing in some brass and bass to give the song that oomph that I am always looking for in upbeat tracks. The song is more vocal centric, with both Chanyeol and Sehun focusing more on vocals for the most part in Rodeo Station. Both members sound pretty nice in this song. It also helps when the melodies is actually quite catchy and fun to listen to. There is a bit of rapping towards the end of the song and they do give the song a bit of a punch. Overall, I found the track to be quite likeable and each element in the song was appealing. (9/10)

4. Telephone (척) (ft. 10cm) (Pre-Release Track) Click here to read the full review for Telephone. (4/10)

5. Jet Lag (시차적응) Jet Lag is a sentimental R&B track, which is all about wanting to return to their lover in their home country whilst they are overseas. The song is brought to life with pleasant acoustic guitar melodies, which I quite like. My only major complaint with this is that both Chanyeol and Sehun’s vocals seem to overpower the instrumentation at times and I would have preferred a finer balance between vocals and instrumental. However, the duo’s execution of vocals in this song is nice and enjoyable. Their harmonies throughout and the melodies are quite appealing in this song. It is a bit slow paced for my liking, but there is enough in this song to put it on the superior end of tracks. (9/10)

6. Fly Away (날개) (ft. Gaeko) – We get into even moodier territory with Fly Away. I really liked the instrumental for this song. It seems to delve into the R&B realm, featuring classical instrumental in addition to drums and R&B centric percussion. It is a stunning backing piece. Chanyeol and Sehun return to their status as EXO’s rappers by rapping throughout the song. It is a nice change up to their vocal-focus approach with their songs on the album thus far. Gaeko (one half of Dynamic Duo) actually does most of the singing in this song and his voice helps smooth out the intensity that the main pair add to the song. I quite like this contrast and this makes it a powerful track. Given its position, I would put this down as EXO-SC’s hidden gem. (10/10)

7. Nothin’ (Chanyeol Solo)Click here to read the full review for Nothin’. (8/10)

8. On Me (Sehun Solo)Click here to read the full review for On Me. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

1 Billion Views Teaser Image

[Review] Nothin’ – Chanyeol (EXO)

Excuse me while I divert our attention to releases from a while back now. In preparation for an album review later today, I will be reviewing both Chanyeol and Sehyun’s indvidual tracks that appeared alongside their 1 Billion Views and Telephone releases last month. I had promised these two reviews for some time now, but I just kept on running out of time to post them. But as I always repeat on this blog, it is always better late than never. As you can tell by the title, this particular review post will be focusing on Chanyeol’s Nothin’.

Despite having a number of solo tracks already, Chanyeol manages to show off a different side to his rapping skills through the easygoing yet subtly intense Nothin’. The song starts off with the catchy vocal hook of ‘I will never worry about nothin’‘. I am not a fan of autotune usually, but his autotuned vocals added some texture to the song. The verses come into play and we hear Chanyeol slow rap along to slow trap instrumentation that the song is backed with. There are some guitar that is present in combination with the trap instrumental. Together, these two elements pretty much make Nothin’ sound like straightforward R&B. Unfortuately, the instrumental is repetitive and plain. It is disappointing to an extent, but I also find that this acts as a blank canvas for Chanyeol’s rapping, which is what gives the song some variety and appeal. We do get some profound electric guitar riffs at the very end, which was nice and much appreciated. As the song felt relatively short, the placement of this additional instrument actually felt appropriate. I couldn’t imagine what the song would have been like if this explicit electric guitar was brought into play earlier. Going back to his rapping, you could feel the emotion in his voice as the song progresses. It is subtle, but definitely present. It is also quite captivating. Overall, I quite like the song. It fits the chill nature of the album and direction of the subunit. Yet it manages to add a bit of Chanyeol flair to the song.

The music video is noticeably shorter than the actual song itself. But as there is still a music video, it earns itself a review. The song itself is about not worrying what people are saying and to stick to being yourself. And I thought that the path to the song’s meaning was well shown in the music video. The music video depicts Chanyeol as a photographer. His pictures seem to represent the thoughts and comments of others. After he develops them, he puts them on this wall, which acts like his thought bank. In this life, it is rather monotone and repetitive. We see Chanyeol clearly wants change. Once we see him certain of this, he rips a picture off the wall, revealing a bright light. It is uncomfortable, which is the harsh reality. But he gets used to it and runs away from the underground studio setting. He slowly gets used to it and this becomes a stroll, as shown at the start of the video. Moving away from my interpretation, I liked how the atmosphere we get from the video really suits the moody nature of the song.

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

[Review] Yours – Raiden & Chanyeol ft. Lee Hi & Changmo

Two weeks ago, Raiden and Chanyeol collaborated on a single titled Yours. We got less than a week’s notice and I had not picked up on its earlier, so I was caught off guard with the release of Yours (my excuse for posting a late review). For those who don’t know Raiden, he is a DJ and producer under SM Entertainment. For those who don’t know Chanyeol, he is the main rapper of the widely known KPOP group EXO (who is also under SM Entertainment). Credited as a featuring artist in Yours is Lee Hi and Changmo. Lee Hi is a former YG Entertainment solo artist, who has recently signed with Makeus Entertainment (home of Sunmi), while Changmo is a very popular rapper in Korea. Together, this is a very star studded collaboration, adding another to the month of May.

The different artists participating in this song are all very different in usual content that they release as standalone artists. But Yours converges them all into a light funky R&B track. There is a bit of retro vibe to the instrumental, but it is very subtle. In terms of overall impressions of the song, I found Yours to be very upbeat and fresh. It has a nice Summery vibe, which I think is suitable for this time of the year (for South Korea). In addition to all of that, Yours is also has a pleasant and calming tone. Chanyeol predominately sings. Usually, I find his voice to be very husky. But it sounds quite smooth in this song. Lee Hi’s airy vocals sounds very innocent and sweet, unlike any Lee Hi release I remember from the top of my head. Both singers do a really good job of harmonising together, helping bringing the track together. I really like the vocal layering during the chorus. They both sing and harmonise in the top layer of the chorus, while Chanyeol sings in the background. It may appear to be a little messy, but it actually gives the song additional definition. Somehow, this becomes a clever hook, in addition to the two singers singing the ‘I’ll Be Yours‘ in the chorus. Changmo adds more of that rap roughness and his vocal segments give the song some texture. Adding to the texture of Yours at the very end was the heavily electronised robot-sounding vocals, which felt like a ‘just right’addition. I don’t think Yours is my personal cup of tea, but it a really nice song to kick back to.

I thought the music video was rather artistic. While Chanyeol and Lee Hi shines in the actual music, I feel like the music video does a great job of highlighting Raiden’s presence in this collaboration. The sets and cinematography when we see him perform the various instruments looked really cool. The only artist to feature alongside Raiden in the video is Chanyeol, who takes pictures of the various sets which we see him in. All looked quite good and I am sure there is a deep meaning to each of the images he hang up at the end, which looks like they represent the seasons.

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

[Review] SSFW – Chanyeol (EXO)

Intriguing teasers of a yellow car popped onto my news feed last week and it was later revealed that Chanyeol was the driver of the car. The teaser was for Chanyeol’s first solo track, titled as SSWF, which stands for Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. The single is released as part of SM Station Season 3 and will be released in 3 different languages (Korean. Chinese and Japanese) for many more fans to enjoy the song. This is the first EXO release since Chen’s solo debut earlier this month.

I was not sure what I was expecting when it came to SSFW. But I don’t think I expected to be hearing music that was so light and airy. The song felt fitting for the breezy weather, as I think it would be a nice listen as you have a stroll in the park or along the beach. When it comes to Chanyeol, you can always expect husky and raspy vocals. His rapping tone is already very deep, so the vocals were a given. The song manages to flaunt his extremely attractive voice to the listeners. I did like his voice in the second verse, which brought onboard a slight rapping tone, which I think gave the song slight variety. I thought the instumental was rather pleasant and contrbuted to the song’s light nature alongside the vocals. The song to me is nice at the moment but personally I do not see the longevity of it. I think I would get bored of the song if I was to continually replay it, which has been the fate for all the SM Station releases this year.

The song relates love to the four seasons, which may be similar to Taeyeon’s recent release,Four Seasons. However, Chanyeol relates his love to the more warmer seasons and wants to be together with his lover to “chase the cold away”. That is quite cheesy but it makes sense. The video shows cases, what I think, is all the seasons except for Winter. There are a lot of sunny seasons as that is the main focus, while the ending was overwhelming brown to reflect upon Autumn. Going back to how I thought the song would matchy a breezy day, the video manages to encapsulate that through the car rides with the window rolled down. I think this was a great representation. To me, it was a nice video for the song.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[Review] We Young – Chanyeol X Sehun (EXO)

Before I get stuck back into the catching up phase of the week., I must interrupt this plan with a new release. Chanyeol and Sehun, the rappers from the widely known KPOP boy group EXO, have come together as solo artists to collaborate under the Station X 0 project that has been ongoing for a number of weeks so far. We have seen Taeyeon & Melomance’s Page 0 and Baekhyun & Loco’s Young releases already, so check out the reviews if you haven’t yet.

I personally thought the two EXO members would have out with a song that is more rap heavy, given their positions within the group. However, that does not seem to be the case as they went with a more cheerful sounding pop tune, which I thought was still quite good. As many of you guys know, I have a mega soft spot for any rappers singing. And we are all familiar with Chanyeol’s voice. Sehun, on the other hand, usually gets the least amount of lines in EXO songs and isn’t well known for his singing. Hopefully, this song changes that as he has a pretty good singing voice. There is rapping infused into the verses but it isn’t in the limelight compared to the vocals. We Young is also quite catchy, going with an addictive repetitive hook. There is also a sense of inclusiveness, which I thought was pretty good. Not too keen on the ending, though as it felt quite sudden. But other than that, it is a good collaboration.

The music video puts Chanyeol’s biceps and Sehun’s abs to work. Hahaha… I did find it a little odd for the presence of abs in the music video but I guess it gives some appeal to some of the fans. Other than that, I thought the spinning platform they were on was a good idea as transitions throughout the video. It looked cool. And when they revealed the wider shot consisting of the fake grass, it looked like they were in the clouds, which I thought was quite cool. The dancing seemed to fit the tune of the song, going with a chilled route and the lyrics.

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

 

5 Favourite K-Drama OSTs (Part 1)

Welcome back to the ‘Favourites’ segment of my site, where I share my personal picks regarding different aspects. As you may notice, I have decided to go with ‘Favourites’ as the segment name, because they are my favourites. I have also decided to cut down the list from 10 (as originally planned) to five because it would be easier and quicker to write.

This week, I have decided to focus on OSTs or Official Sound Tracks from K-Dramas. I don’t watch that many and the few that I do watch don’t get that much spotlight. But that doesn’t stop the songs from popping up on my playlists or me investigating the various songs that do get released. So in no particular order, these are 5 of my favourite K-Drama OSTs.


Back in Time – Lyn
The Moon Embraces The Sun

I start off the list with the very first OST that I fell in love with. While it was released back in 2011 for the drama, The Moon Embraces The Sun, it is an OST that I keep on going back to for its epic orchestral sound. While Lyn has a few other massive OST hits under her belt (some which I enjoyed), I still firmly believe that this track tops the rest of them. Her vocals draw you in and hold you there for the entire length of the song, not once letting you go.


Stay With Me – Chanyeol (EXO) & Punch
Goblin

Out of all the songs on this list, I think many of you will agree with this one. It’s a more recent OST release, from the K-Drama Goblin and was released in December of last year. The instrumental of the OST is extremely striking and the combination of both Punch’s and Chanyeol’s husky vocals make this one damn good song to listen to.


Talk Love – K.Will
Descendant of the Sun

It has been a while since we last saw K.Will on the stage. However, he has been active in the OST world, singing tracks for a few dramas. One of them belongs to the hit drama, Descendant of the Sun. It makes the list because it makes you smile. I find it quite catchy and K.Will’s vocals are undeniably amazing in this song.


All For You – Seo In Guk & Jung Eunji (APINK)
Reply 1997

This chart-topping OST from 2012 features both Seo In Guk and Eunji (APINK), who also played the lead roles in the same drama. What makes this a great OST is it was easy to get into. It was a simple song, with a simple sound. The English lyrics made it catchy and appeal to many people, including international fans. The vocals of the two were also sweet and dreamy, making them an amazing duet and on-screen partners.


Rise and Shine – Kyuhyun (Super Junior) & Tiffany (SNSD)
To The Beautiful You

The entire drama To The Beautiful You was produced by SM Entertainment and hence it makes sense that the entire OST album was performed by SM Entertainment artists. The standout song from the mix was Rise and Shine, which is an upbeat track, full of amazing vocals from both the main vocalists of Super Junior and SNSD. It reminds me of a musical and gives off a bright atmosphere.

 

[Review] Let Me Love You – Junggigo & Chanyeol (EXO)

Another cross-company collaboration has been unveiled (last week). Last time it was Soyu & Baekhyun’s Rain. Recently, I reviewed Honey Bee, which featured Luna, Solar and Hani. Now, Junggigo and Chanyeol from EXO has come together to give us a new song. Both of these artists are quite successful in their solo work. Junggigo is one-half of the ‘Some’ collaboration and Chanyeol has been ranking high on the charts with his solo OSTs. Hence, making this song something to look forward to.

Let Me Love You is a ballad and RnB infused track. It sounds very smooth and ‘easy on the ears’ (if you understand what I am trying to get at). The song itself is pretty simple, with no aspects of the song overcomplicating it, hence something that is quite nice to listen to. The song also is the type that gets you swaying along to the music. That is one of the signs it is a pretty good ballad, in my point of view (which when I say it, sounds a little odd). Both Junggigo and Chanyeol sounds amazing in the song. This is expected of Junggigo (just haven’t been digging his recent releases) but I get surprised every time I hear Chanyeol sing, though. He is a rapper in EXO yet he has a very nice voice when singing, which was unexpected when I discovered that he could sing. There really isn’t much else to say about the song. I will just happily listen to the song in the background, while I continue on with the review.

When I saw images of the music video, I thought the song was a soundtrack for the new Power Rangers film that is due to come out this year (who else is excited about the new Power Ranger film?). But then it turns out to be just a simple music video with a Power Ranger type of setting. The video does make me chuckle a bit, though. The moustached Power Rangers battle a giant cockroach. Actually, now I think about it, the Power Rangers are probably just pest control dressed in funky clothing to make their work a little more interesting. But it turns out there is a romantic twist with the guy playing the cockroach having a mad crush on one of the rangers. It seems like she is also interested as she is the only person to pay attention to him (the other rangers and staff don’t seem to care about him). While the two hang out, everyone packs up, leaving the two ‘friends’ behind. They spend even more time together, to the point where the girl can’t seem to kill her love when they working on set for the film or show they are shooting. They are a very cute couple and watching the guy walk around with the costume on made me go “awwww” for most of the video. Couple goals 2017? Wait… Sorry, it should be #CoupleGoals2017. That’s the way to write it in 2017.

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