[Album Review] What A Life (1st Mini Album) – EXO-SC

While it does seem like I was very unimpressed with some title tracks, the title track ends up being on small factor when it comes to deciding which albums to review. Instead, I do a quick listen through the album to hear what it has to offer. If I am satisfied there is enough to write about, I put it on the list. This is the case for EXO-SC’s album. The title track (What A Life) wasn’t to my standard. But a number of the tracks on the album were. And hence, we find ourselves here today to have a run through the album, which shares the same name as the title track. Let’s see if you agree with my thoughts!

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What A Life Album Cover

1..What A Life (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of What A Life. (4/10)

2. Just Us 2 (있어 희미하게) (ft. Gaeko from Dynamic Duo) – With the addition of Gaeko in this track, there is no doubt that EXO-SC would continue their hip-hop venture with Just Us 2. And I think the hip-hop genre was heard loudly and clearly in this track, which I think is fantastic. I am still not exactly sure about Chanyeol and Sehun’s approach with their rapping. It just isn’t exciting for me. Though, they do manage to mellow out the song. My favourite bit is Gaeko’s chorus. His voice just seems to extend beyond the primary duo and I really like the twisty accent that he finishes with his lines. There is a lot more colour in the chorus, which I really like. And surprisingly, this colour speaks volumes, as I think this is my favourite track (with a music video) from this album from EXO-SC. (8/10)

3. Closer To You (부르면 돼)Click here to read the full review for Closer To You. (6/10)

4. Roller Coaster (롤러코스터) – Something I suspect is coming true. I am starting to like the tracks that aren’t getting the spotlight. Roller Coaster is a ‘return-to-form’, for me (at least the hip-hop that I know of when it comes to KPOP). I find their delivery a little more captivating. The instrumental, which is does feature that common xylophone synth sound, is a little more dynamic as well. The best part has to the flute-featuring chorus. The ‘Express Yourself’ shout was very subtle yet very memorable. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few people found it plain. But I actually thought the song was very really cool. (9/10)

5. Borderline (선) – It is a short one. The delivery of the lines is a little plain, like their primary title track. Yet there is an intriguing factor to the song that manages to ‘save’ the song from plainness. The instrumental is very minimal. Yet I would consider this to be an upbeat song due to the fast tempo from the tapping in the song. There is a little more to the instrumental with the brief pauses and the periodic wail-like sounds (which was okay but fairly plain). But other than that, thanks to the instrumental, the song manages to speak volumes. (7/10)

6. Daydreamin’ (夢) – I guess to make up for the short preceding song, Daydreamin’ is extended to be a little longer. I like the guitars in the R&B styled instrumental. It gives off a nice atmosphere. There is a bit more to the instrumental as there are many sections, such as the classically styled ending. But they all come together quite nicely. I also like the member’s voices in this song. There are very different textures thanks to the use of autotune, which all assisted the song in becoming very soothing and calming. In summary, one of the better songs of the album. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7/10

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What A Life Teaser Image
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[Review] Closer To You – EXO-SC

When EXO-SC launched their debut with What A Life, I did not know that there were multiple title tracks for their debut. I did tweet about it once I found out (Follow my Twitter @kpopreviewed). But I haven’t been able to sit down and review these tracks until today. In conjunction with What A Life, EXO-SC also released Closer To You and Just Us 2 (which I will not be reviewing separately. You can read my thoughts on the song in tomorrow’s album review!).

To me, Closer To You follows What A Life with its ‘uneventful instrumental’. So, the song already starts off as pretty forgettable, which might not be the opinion you are seeking, especially how I labelled What A Life with the exact same description. But there are differences that make Closer To You stand out a little more. The rapping and vocals from both Sehun and Chanyeol do give off a good impression. To me, there is a little more expression in the way they deliver their lines throughout the song, giving a slight appeal.  There is a little more oomph to it, which makes it even more appealing. It does stay stagnant for the most part (i.e. neutral gear). But it felt better than their primary track. Once again, the hook wasn’t as strong. But I felt the melody did have a nice ring to it. I think the song could have been even more appealing if the two went an extra mile in any department within the song. If I had to prefer one track over the other, it is definite that Closer To You comes out on top.

I thought the music video for this track was a lot more interesting. Both Chanyeol and Sehun are completely separated throughout the video, minus the very small outro at the end. So the alternating concept was actually quite cool. The song is about wanting to get closer to their crush, going lengths to call a driver so that they can be together in the back seat. And naturally, the video shows both members in the car (both back and front), along with them at the dinner table outside in the dark. The darkness makes the video slightly aesthetic, which I think helps ‘bold’ the members in the video (despite them wearing black and white, which does blend them into the background).

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[Album Review] Exodus / Love Me Right (2nd Studio & Repackaged Albums) – EXO

As this is a studio/repackaged album review, this post will be lengthy. 

I have probably repeated myself so many times but EXO has recently focused on unit and solo promotions since they are at the stage of impending military enlistments. However, in the midst of all these solo debuts, special singles and unit formations, I have been craving an EXO group comeback. But I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon given the circumstances. So I decided to revisit one of their old albums. EXODUS was released in March 2015, with the lead single Call Me Baby (link below). Love Me Right was the repackaged version of EXODUS, was released on June 2015 and it featured Love Me Right as the title track. With these two singles in mind, let’s have a look at the other songs on the album as well.

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EXODUS Album Cover

1..Love Me Right (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Love Me Right (10/10)

2. Tender LoveTender Love dabbles into the retro-funk genre. It is a nice piece overall that had a few good moments, such as electronic 8-bit tune-like. There were some moments that I wasn’t that fond of, such as the crowd clapping sample they used for the bridge. It showed off some nice vocal and rapping work, which I enjoyed. The song did feel like it went for a longer length than its 3.5-minute run, thanks to the ‘Tender Love’ repetitive chorus. Not exactly sure how I feel about this prolongment feeling but I guess no negative feeling towards it is a good thing. (7.5/10)

3. Call Me Baby (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Call Me Baby. (7/10)

4. Transformer – To me, Transformer was a passable track. It does have an interesting melody, something I wished should have shined more brightly with a more dynamic set of vocals. The lyrics were begging for something more interesting yet what we ended up getting felt monotone to an extent. The instrumental delved into the hip-hop genre, which I thought was nice considering that EXO doesn’t often go that route (i.e. they are not necessarily known for their hip-hop tracks). What I thought was nailed was the rapping, which stood out over everything. Good job to Chanyeol, Sehun and Kai for that. (6/10)

5. What If (시선 둘, 시선 하나)What If is a ballad. It was quite slow, and this is probably the only thing that works against the song. Apart from that, the song features amazing vocals and the harmonies are to die for. The song had a fragile touch thanks to the lyrics. It is a song heavy on emotions without being emotional. While the vocals were amazing, the vocals didn’t overpower the track, giving it a well-balanced aspect. The chorus featured whispering vocals, allowing all the members to come together in a way that gave a delicate touch to the song. (8/10)

6. My Answer – Following What if, My Answer is an even slower ballad that features the vocals of Baekhyun, D.O and Suho only. And if I was, to be honest, you only need these three vocalists from EXO-K to make a standout ballad. The melody was nice and flowy, as you would hope for any good ballad. What sets this track apart further from What If that it only features a piano as its instrumental. No need for violins or classical instrumentation, the piano does all the tone set here. (8/10)

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Love Me Right Album Cover

7. Exodus – Returning the album to its upbeat form is Exodus. It is a good track, only suffering from the ‘standard’ issue that I feel like EXO does suffer from time to time. There were a few aspects that made this track stand out, including the slight hip-hop tinge to the instrumental, the catchy chorus and the showcase of vocals. It might sound like I am praising the song, but when I compare this track to the rest on this album, it felt ordinary at best. (7/10)

8. El Dorado – Listening to El Dorado, I think the track has the potential to be part of an action-packed fantasy show, thanks to the epic vibes. I liked the vocals in the song and how they opted for the inclusion of all the members for the chorus. The rapping was very cool, especially the trio’s part at the end of the bridge. The only part that I still don’t like to this day is the ‘Find the El dorado’. It just feels like an awkward opener to the chorus. (8/10)

9. Playboy – To me, one of the most skippable songs on the album is Playboy. There really isn’t anything too interesting about the track. The rapping and vocals would be my pick for the highlight. But that is something I would mention quite often. The jazzy, almost elevator-music like instrumental felt like it was repeating itself as the song went by in a fashion that felt boring. I did like the direction, but the track felt underwhelming overall. (6/10)

10. First LoveFirst Love was included in the repackaged version of Exodus (Love Me Right). It is a cheerful track that takes the form of a pop track. I acknowledge that the instrumentation brings forth the happy vibes, but it felt plain. And I think the plainness rubbed off on the vocals and rapping (which felt like it was an unnecessary part in general). Sure, the song wasn’t set up to show high notes and fast rapping. But I felt these elements were not shown off as well as they could have been. (6/10)

11. Hurt – I find EXO is better with either straight up ballads or upbeat dance tracks. Hurt goes for the latter and showcases a track that could have easily been a contender for the title track position (if it was slightly more aggressive). The member that shone the most was Chanyeol, whose deep voice was well presented and utilised, such as the ‘So Bad So Bad’ detail in the chorus. One thing I did notice was that the song lacked intensity during the vocal sections of the song. But they compensated by providing the intensity during the dance break in one dynamic go. (8/10)

12. Lady Luck (유성우)Lady Luck is probably the surprising standout track on the album besides the title track. This too could have been a title track (and there isn’t a need to polish it in any way!). I really like the guitar that featured in the instrumental. It kept the song from going overload with synths and provided an acoustic touch to the dance track. The glitchy breakdown came out of nowhere but it managed to show how the song was building as it went along. It was also catchy and memorable. (9/10)

13. Beautiful – I think Beautiful was another great track. It is one of the few tracks that don’t fall within that preferred ‘ballad or dance track’ scenario. Instead, there it is a nice soothing track. It is slow but not enough to be considered a ballad. Its instrumental feels like it is flowing over you as you are listening, like water flowing over you while you are swimming in the ocean. I like the overlapping of the vocals for the chorus, which gave off an interesting texture and gave it some memorability. (9/10)

14. EXO, 2014 (약속) – This song, otherwise known as Promise, was sung by all the members of EXO (including what was left of EXO-M). I found the ballad to be extremely touching and you can feel the emotions behind the members’ voices. Chanyeol’s rapping was probably my favourite part. His delivery was so intense, bringing the emotions of the song to another level. However, every member sounded amazing nonetheless in this ballad, which reaffirms their commitment to their fans who stuck by them during the hard times. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

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Love Me Right Teaser Image

[Review] What A Life – EXO-SC

I really hate to be a broken record with the way I start off these reviews. But we have seen a lot of EXO lately. Just not as a group. Instead, EXO has been promoting continuously as stand-alone members, making their solo debuts and releasing special singles before enlisting into the military. However, today we enter very exciting territory, with the debut of a brand new subunit from the group. Consisting of Chanyeol and Sehun, EXO-SC makes their debut with What A Life. The pair have previously come together for the SM Station release, We Young, back in 2018.

What A Life delves into the hip-hop genre, the genre which heavily uses rapping in its songs. It is a pretty laidback and loose track, whilst other hip-hop tracks tend to be more hard-hitting and heavy. So I guess there is some potential in the track. But that potential isn’t referenced in any other part of the track. The instrumental is probably one of the most uneventful ones I have ever heard in KPOP. They just used the same synthetic xylophone synth thing over and over again. It just got really dry quickly. The rapping and vocals felt quite monotone. I had expected there to be some sort of change-up or development. But as the instrumental kept on going, the vocals and rapping just didn’t deviate from that tone. The song also didn’t have much of a hook. The main repetition of What A Life during the chorus was lacklustre. Put all of these elements together and you get the What A Life package. Maybe the song will grow on me if I was to remain hopeful. But as I continuously replay the song to write this review, I am growing more tired of it.

I am personally going to say the exact same thing regarding the music video. It is also a very dry video. It looked like a few things were thrown together to make what seems to be a ‘potential hip-hop music video’. Just the way these things were utilised in the video looked very dreary and uneventful. The models throughout the video don’t add to the video’s content. The sets just acted like backdrops chosen randomly. I also didn’t feel the hazy camera filter they had on, which made very look gloomy.

I can’t find a proper live performance for the comeback yet (i.e. showcase). However, EXO-SC did perform the track at the recent EXO concert (over the weekend). Not much dancing from the duo, who focused on the live aspect of the performance. Fair enough. In the music video, there seemed to be a little more choreography, which I think looked good. So I guess we have to see what the music shows will look like.

Song – 4/10
Music Video – 5/10
Performance – 5/10 [Will comeback to update. I promise!!]
Overall Rating – 4.5/10

[Album Review] City Lights (1st Mini Album) – Baekhyun (EXO)

As I mentioned last weekend, there is one last solo album review that I want to do before going back to doing a number of group album reviews. That being said, it looks like I will be covering a few solo acts in the coming weeks (guess who!). But for today’s album review, we will be looking at Baekhyun’s R&B dominated solo album. We have seen singles from Baekhyun but this is his first album release (and hence first solo album). It is titled City Lights and features the title track, UN Village.

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City Lights Album Cover

1..UN Village (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for UN Village. (9.5/10)

2. Stay Up (ft. Beenzino)Stay Up continues both the R&B and aesthetic vibes from UN Village. It is just a lot more about passionately sleeping together than going to see the night sky on a hill. And he isn’t shy about stating that throughout the song. It is a genre style that is done very often in KPOP. But instead of feeling very typical, the song feels very elevated thanks to Baekhyun’s smooth vocals in this track. Beenzino’s featuring adds momentum to the track. It felt like he was mumbling but it added to the final product, rather than be distracting. (8/10)

3. Betcha – Changing up the momentum entirely is a more upbeat track. Betcha has this playful and childish tone to it, which I think suits Baekhyun’s personality (that I have seen through the many videos on the Internet of the artist). It seems like Betcha is more appealing to many listeners, given that it does have a simpler tune and is more approachable. There is also a cheerful note to the track, which adds onto that appeal. It catchy and I too quite like it. But it has that typicalness to it that wouldn’t go 100% well as a title track. In fact, UN Village stands out to me more due to its uniqueness. (8.5/10)

4. Ice QueenIce Queen reverts out attention back to the R&B side of the album, which has dominated all but one track on the album. There is a flowy feel to it, which gives it a nice relaxing sound. In addition to that flowy feel, I found the way he sang the song to be interesting. Think of it like a cup that is filled to the brim. If you add more, it will overfill. The lyrics when he sang felt like it was spilling down the sides of the imaginary cup. But the song didn’t feel loaded with ‘too much’ vocals or lyrics, which was why I found it interesting. (8/10)

5. Diamond – Still on the R&B style, Diamond manages to change things up slightly by adding a more upbeat pop tone to it. And I think this addition makes the song sound a lot more appealing. His vocals shine in this son as he manages to show a variety of vocal techniques throughout the song. I really like his falsettos in this song and the harmonies that he manages to do with the backing vocals make this song an uber smooth song. I know these are points I have mentioned under the other songs. But Diamond manages to present these in another way that makes it worth mentioning again. (9/10)

6. Psycho – Ending the album is surprisingly not another R&B track. Actually, I am not sure exactly what genre this song would be under. Psycho has a mixture of different genres. Some R&B was heard in the verses, but the chorus went with an EDM route that gave it a crashing tone. The song is eerie and unlike any other on the album. It felt like the perfect song for a very intense moment during a thriller or action movie, which is very much my style. His vocals also share a similar description and felt like it was drawn out to match the crashing effect of the chorus. Overall, an amazing end to the album. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8//10

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City Lights Teaser Image

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[Review] UN Village – Baekhyun (EXO)

As mentioned previously, EXO is currently focusing on solo and unit promotions due to the impending military enlistment of the members (with Xiumin and D.O already in the army). We have seen solo tracks from Chen, Xiumin, D.O and Chanyeol so far this year and will be seeing the debut of EXO-SC (a unit consisting of Chanyeol and Sehun) in less than one fortnight. But today, we turn to a different member. Making his grand (official) solo debut today is Baekhyun with UN Village and his first ever mini-album, City Lights.

One thing I am glad that Baekhyun didn’t pick is a ballad title track. So many main vocalists go down this route, it quite often becomes a very large cliche in the industry. Instead, UN Village is an R&B track. And even then, it isn’t necessarily your typical R&B track as well. What is great about this track is that it shows off the individuality and personality of Baekhyun quite well. This is a common goal for solo promotions (especially for idols coming from groups). But is often not achieved due to urge to follow trends and cliches. What I quite like about UN Village is that it shows off his vocal colours. It’s smooth and almost teasing, which I think begs us to replay the song. The chorus was very well done and its melody is quite memorable. The instrumental gave off an aesthetic atmosphere, which further compliments his vocals. And also, this one of the times where consistency works as an advantage, which maintained the aesthetics. Overall, it is one damn good debut track.

Complimenting the song’s aesthetic atmosphere is an equally aesthetically pleasing music video. The video puts Baekhyun’s visuals on full display. It showcases him singing in different lightings, often quite dark and with very little colour (except for the one dominant colour). Apart from the subtle visual display of the singer, I found the sets to be very interesting. The song sings about taking a special someone to a hill behind UN Village to show them the night sky (taken from Soompi). But the way the video was shot, it looked like Baekhyun was showing us the very appealing sides of hidden laneways and alleyways within a city, which I guess is quite similar to showing us a hill behind UN Village. The ending with him laying on a table (and a woman, presumably his lover) walking by him is very confusing as I am not exactly sure how it contributes the video. Maybe I missed a few details here and there, so please let me know how this scene adds to the story.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Review] That’s Okay – D.O (EXO)

To me, a missed opportunity with EXO is the lack of solo promotions for the Korean members. It wasn’t until this year, 7 years after their debut, are they finally focusing on solo promotion, given that it will be the main driver for EXO’s immediate future. This is because of impending military enlistment. Xiumin enlisted earlier this year and the next member to follow him (shockingly) is D.O. For those who don’t know, today is actually D.O’s enlistment date. And to coincide with his departure from the public eye for the next 2 years, D.O also released a special single as part of SM Station.

That’s Okay is the title of this special single. And being a solo single, That’s Okay puts D.O’s slightly raspy voice on full display. I like it how the song isn’t sung in a straight forward manner. There are some textural aspects present thanks to the melody and the way he ended some lines, allowing him to showcase some techniques that he never got a chance to show off within EXO releases. The way he harmonises with himself is also beautiful, a very obvious sign of a good ballad. Knowing that is he is one of the main vocalists of the group, it is expected that the single would be a ballad. But it is a good ballad. It is mainly acoustic, with guitars being the only instrument in the instrumental. And I like it this way because it doesn’t sound overly emotional, which could have been a cliche thing to do. The lyrics also don’t go into an emotional overdrive, with D.O telling you that time will heal all wounds, regardless of how deep they are.

The music video for this release is animation. I am not sure if there are any laws that prevent D.O from appearing in the music video (as Xiumin did for his single), given the complexity of military enlistment, as it would have been nice to see him one last time (before he goes away for two years). But the animation was quite nice. A guy finds a sad looking cactus and brings it home. His nurture over time helped heal its limp nature and it regained some flowers. On the flipside, it was revealed that the guy lost his dog and this caused him to stay indoors. And I am certain the flowering cactus ended up nurturing him over time, showing him that no matter what state you are in, there is always a way to get back up. You just got to let time do its thing.

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

[Review] You – Xiumin (EXO)

Once again, we return to the topic of military enlistment. This time around, the male group in question is EXO and the member enlisting is Xiumin, the eldest member of the group. While Xiumin said his goodbyes to the members and fans yesterday, he bids farewell once again today through this week’s SM Station release. The song dropped a few hours ago and is titled You. A fortnight ago, Chanyeol releases his solo single SSFW (so if you haven’t heard it yet, click the title!). But we are here for Ximin, so let’s start the review!

Xiumin’s message in You is very simple. He expresses gratitude to everyone around him. And in order to sound meaningful, it is obvious that the ballad route would be chosen. The ballad ended up being typical in nature. That would be the best way to describe it. The instrumental was just plain but I think it did enough to really provide that blank canvas for Xiumin’s voice. We all know that Xiumin isn’t the most talented vocalist of EXO but I think he has an overshadowed voice. There have been songs by him in collaborations and units that do bring out the best of him. You does that as well. I really like his raspy vocals, which really made the song a tiny bit more interesting. I like how he manages to go along with the building instrumental and ended giving the song that needed climax. But I am not particularly drawn to the song melody wise nor do I find it memorable. But I am sure fans of the artist (and group) will.

A lot of the video seemed to be just a reflection for Xiumin. We see Xiumin staring off into the distance, taking in the sights and the fresh air. There isn’t really anything to talk about. The reflective nature matches the song’s message and tone. But other than that, I think I would be rambling on.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[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] Beautiful Goodbye – Chen (EXO)

As groups progress with their careers, we see a lot of the members branch out into solo careers. EXO is a fine example, with many of the members excelling at their solo careers, such as acting, collaborations and OSTs. What we have not yet seen from the members in Korea is actually a solo album! Lay took the honours as the first member to have a solo album, but that was released in China. But today, Chen will be the first Korean member to release a solo mini-album, April, and a flower, today. The title track from this mini-album is Beautiful Goodbye.

Given Chen’s amazing OSTs in the past, it was highly expected that Chen would go down the ballad route. And Beautiful Goodbye is a breathtaking ballad. A few reviews ago, I mentioned that there are the types of songs that you have to stop what you are doing and listen to it that way in order to fully appreciate the song. This is another perfect example of this. Beautiful Goodbye features only piano in the instrumental. As it is the only instrument in the song, it is extremely striking especially during the moments when the song ‘builds up’or peaks. Chen’s vocals compliment the piano. It doesn’t push himself in this domain nor does he reach ‘powerhouse’ mode. Instead, I find his voice to be very moving and also well-balanced.  This combination works in harmony and it leaves us with a fantastic song to listen to.

I also like how aesthetic the music video is. It isn’t artsy in any way but rather it is simplistic. It is all shot outside, with a very large tree-trunk like structure in the centre of the video. Within the centre, we find Chen and a piano player, whose piano is embedded into the structure. Surrounding them is are many female dancers, all dressed in a pale pink-ish colour that really works well with the setting. That is pretty much it to the video. I came across a news article today that stated that the video took 6 hours of filming and that Chen was concerned about whether he conveyed the right emotions. Well, those 6 hours paid off and Chen did wonders in the video.

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

[Special] 2018 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Song Categories Results

Welcome back to the 2018 KPOPREVIEWED Awards! On the 1st of December 2018, I presented my readers with many categories filled with talented and deserving nominees for the 2018 KPORPEVIEWED Awards. For the month of December, all of you voted for your favourite artists and songs from January 2018 to November 2018. And today, I present to you who the winners of each category were.

This is the second section, which will look at the categories surrounding the artists including Best Male and Female Choreography, Best Album and Best Song of 2018.

In addition to the fan-voted categories, I have also included 5 categories that were not fan voted and I had personally selected the winners (or were determined throughout the year). They include Best Special Performance, Best Concept, Best Non-Title Track, Most Wins on Weekly KPOP Charts segment and Most Viewed Review of 2018. They are labelled clearly.

Each category (with the exception of the non-fan-voted categories) will have a WINNER (the artist that received the highest amount of fan votes), Honourable Mention (the artist/group that received the second highest amount of fan votes) and KPOPREVIEWED Choice (who I voted for).

So, drum roll please, for the winners of the 2018 KPOPREVIEWED Artist categories.


Best Male Choreography

Nominees – Fake Love (BTS), Tempo (EXO), Lullaby (GOT7), Thanks (Seventeen), Now or Never (SF9), Black Heart (UNB)

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WINNER – Thanks (Seventeen)
Honourable Mention – Fake Love (BTS)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Lullaby (GOT7)


Best Female Choreography

Nominees – Bingle Bangle (AOA), Woman (BoA), I Love You (EXID), Time For The Moon Night (GFriend), Siren (Sunmi), Dance The Night Away (TWICE)

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WINNER – Woman (BoA)
Honourable Mentions – Siren (Sunmi) & Dance The Night Away (TWICE)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – I Love You (EXID)


Best Special Performance

This is not a fan-voted category.

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WINNER – Dreams Come True (WJSN) at KCON 2018 Japan


Best Music Video

Nominees – Bingle Bangle (AOA), DDU-DU DDU DU (BLACKPINK), Fake Love (BTS), Love Bomb (fromis.9), Really Bad Boy (Red Velvet), Now or Never (SF9), District 9 (Stray Kids), The Chance of Love (TVXQ), Yes or Yes (TWICE), Spring Breeze (Wanna One)

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WINNER – Fake Love (BTS)
Honourable Mention – DDU-DU DDU-DU (BLACKPINK)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Fake Love (BTS)


Best Japanese Song Released by a Korean Artist

Nominees – Electric Kiss (EXO), Memoria (GFriend), Chain (NCT 127), Call Call Call (Seventeen), BDZ (TWICE)

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WINNER – Electric Kiss (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Call Call Call (Seventeen)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Call Call Call (Seventeen)


Best Collaboration

Nominees – Still In Love (Lee Hong Ki & Yoo Hwe Sung), Wow Thing! (Seulgi, SinB, Kim Chungha, Kim Soyeon), Dinner (Suho & Jang Jae In), Page 0 (Taeyeon & Melomance), Love It Like It (YDPP)

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WINNER – Wow Thing! (Seulgi, SinB, Kim Chungha, Kim Soyeon)
Honourable Mention – Still In Love (Lee Hong Ki & Yoo Hwe Sung)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Love It Like It (YDPP)


Song With Most Wins on Weekly KPOP Charts segment

This is not a fan-voted category

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WINNER – Heroine (Sunmi) & Bingle Bangle (AOA)
[3 Weeks Each]


Most Viewed Review of 2018

This was not a fan-voted category

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WINNER – Boom Boom (Momoland)


Best Concept

This was not a fan-voted category

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WINNER – Love Bomb (fromis.9)


Best Non-Title Track

This is not a fan-voted category.

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WINNER – Dystopia (Cross Gene)


Best Album

Nominees – Love Yourself: Answer (BTS), Don’t Mess With My Tempo (EXO), The Story of Light – Epilogue (SHINee), Something New (Taeyeon (SNSD)), 1÷x = 1 (Undivided) (Wanna One)

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WINNER – The Story of Light – Epilogue (SHINee)
Honourable Mention – Love Yourself: Answer (BTS)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Love Yourself: Answer (BTS)


Best Song of 2018

Nominees – All title tracks released from January 2018 to November 2018.
The following song had the highest fan votes in the Best Song of 2018 category. The fan votes in this category will also contribute to 50% of the End Of The Year charts.

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WINNER – Good Evening (SHINee)


And that completes the Song Categories for the 2018 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. The Artist Categories were previously posted so you can access it by clicking here!

And for the End of Year Charts – they will be out tomorrow. I will update this post with the link once it is out.

Thank you for all voting and checking out who you all selected to be the winners! I hope to do this again for 2019!

[Album Review] Love Shot (5th Repackaged Album) – EXO

The 2018 KPOPREVIEWED Awards are in full swing and voting is still opened. Did you know that EXO is nominated for Best Subunit, Best Male Group, Best Male Choreography, Best Japanese Song by a Korean Artist and Best Album? Click here to vote for EXO!

EXO returned during the week with their 5th repackaged album and the title track, both titled Love Shot. This comes after EXO released their 5th studio album, Don’t Mess Up With My Tempo, which featured the unique Tempo title track.  Unlike previous years, Love Shot was released in place of EXO’s yearly release of a Winter album and single but keeping in the tradition of their yearly studio and repackaged album. The new album consists of 3 new tracks, which I reviewed below, along with the Chinese version of Love Shot (which I have not included in the review).

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Love Shot Album Cover

Love Shot features all the songs from the Don’t Mess Up My Tempo album, which I have previously reviewed. If you wish to check out the song reviews from the Don’t Mess Up My Tempo album, please click here.

1..Love Shot (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Love Shot. (7.5/10)

3. Trauma – I personally like how classy Trauma sounds. The intro to the track (the ‘La La La’) really sets the rest of the song in place. I liked how upbeat the instrumental felt despite how soft the actual music was. It was rather interesting. I also liked how their vocals were very compatible with the song, which was also a softer tone than usual. When I write these reviews, I listen to the track several times to really be sure about what I am writing. And every time I listened to Trauma, Chen’s mini falsetto in the chorus stands out for me. Also, like the vocals, the raps were very well suited for the song. They do bring an edgy vibe to the song, which breaks the classiness of the song for a slight section. And I quite like that too. (9/10)

4. WaitWait is an acoustic ballad that goes straight to showcasing EXO’s vocals from the very first second. And it is a very beautiful sounding song, with the acoustic guitar being the only instrument in the song. The rest of the song relies on the said vocals and the nice harmonies that you can hear throughout the song. The chorus features harmonies with all the members, while the verses feature harmonies between the singer and background vocals. Looking back at the song, I find it extremely hard to really pinpoint anything I dislike about it. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10 (This incorporates the scores of all 13 songs on the albums)

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[Review] Love Shot – EXO

The 2018 KPOPREVIEWED Awards are in full swing and voting is still opened. Did you know that EXO is nominated for Best Subunit, Best Male Group, Best Male Choreography, Best Japanese Song by a Korean Artist and Best Album? Click here to vote for EXO!

EXO has returned with their 5th repackaged album and their latest title track, both titled Love Shot. Last month, EXO returned with their 5th studio album, Don’t Mess Up My Tempo. Promotions for Tempo were quite short, causing anger to be directed towards SM Entertainment for their lack of promotions this year as a group. It does seem like EXO will be promoting their repackaged album and title track for slightly longer as their album promotions will crossover with the End of Year music festivals and award ceremonies that start 2019 off.

Love Shot is a pop dance track filled with a balanced level of thumping bass and it feels a lot more comfortable than what Tempo felt like. It flows a lot more nicely, with smoothness being a keyword used to describe the song.  I think what I like about the song is its addictive chorus. It may be a simple hook but it is keyed into your memory by the time the song ends, so you just want to replay the song to relive the chorus. The vocals in this track were also a strong point, adding to the track’s appeal. I really liked D.O’s ‘People come and people go‘ start to the bridge, which I think was more memorable than the already addictive chorus.  Once again, I also liked the rapping. It is perfect for this sensual sounding song but I have to admit that it doesn’t top the energy and intensity we got from Tempo. And that basically applies to the entire song. But nonetheless, EXO’s Love Shot was a great song to mark their second return to 2018.

EXO has their guns drawn for their music video. There is a plotline somewhere in the video, with the way Suho walks away with a SWAT team by his side and everyone is confronted by the SWAT team when they came to rob the bank (of flowers). While it does feel cryptic and confusing, the plotline does seem fairly interesting. Also, when I thought of ‘Love Shot‘, I thought of drinking rather than guns. But I liked the way they incorporated alcohol into their guns, which is pretty aesthetic. But at the same time, not too effective when it comes to robbing a bank. I also thought the closeup shots throughout the video showed off great visuals of the members.

But I think we cannot pass the choreography for this comeback. Like the song, the choreography seems to take a sensual approach, reminding me of the moves they pulled for The Eve. I liked the incorporation of the small “handgun” in their body rolls for the choruses. As for the verses, we just have to wait and see. But it looks good from the music video end.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Album Review] Don’t Mess Up My Tempo (5th Studio Album) – EXO

EXO has returned with their 5th studio album last week, titled as Don’t Mess Up My Tempo. Their lead title track was definitely a rollercoaster of sounds and tempos and it is titled as simply Tempo (link below). Today, the focus is on their album and can I begin by saying how impressed with every song on this album? So without any more delays, here are my thoughts on the album.

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Don’t Mess Up With My Tempo Album Cover

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

2. Sign – When you listen to both Tempo and Sign side-by-side, Sign is the better choice for the title track. Firstly, it doesn’t feel erratic. Secondly, the autotune section that follows the chorus was done wonderfully. It gave the song an intriguing factor while being an excellent addition of texture, which made me like it. While it does feel a little more mainstream, it is a solid track from start to end. Amazing vocals and raps (though I will admit that I prefer the rap sequences from Tempo) were also included in this song. The instrumental was intense and fell on the R&B scale, while also containing a mixture of synths of dubstep and other EDM. It was a great song. (9/10)

3. Ooh La La La (닿은 순간)Ooh La La La seems to be EXO’s answer to the ongoing Latin trend that has hit KPOP and SM Entertainment as well. And it is not that bad. The song is a lot softer than their other songs (or any of the Latin-influenced songs that we have heard), giving us some relief to the intensity of this album. I really liked the vocals in this song. They were husky and low, which was something different for the group. The harmonies throughout the song (in particular the chorus) were perfect and it made the song flow effortless. There wasn’t rapping in this song, which I was kind of expecting. I am not too troubled by this as the vocals were on point. (8/10)

4. Gravity – The start of Gravity reminded me of Power for a brief second. But the song is not like Power at all. It has a dance techno instrumental which I thought was refined. I would have described the song as smooth but we lost that smoothness factor as the song went along. The vocals matched the song perfectly. They made the song feel cohesive and stand out for all the right reasons. What I loved about the song even more is the presence of the raps, which fits the bill well. They kicked the song up a notch and made the song feel right for a club setting. (9/10)

5. With You (가끔) – I think I found one of the most beautiful songs on the album. It starts off off-tuned, which I thought was going to be mean an awful track. But I was genuinely surprised with the direction the song took. The vocals (which added the beautiful factor to the song) took a soft ballad approach, yet the instrumental was fast tempo dance vibe. This is a very interesting combination. And I would not have expected it to work. Yet it does, and I can’t help stopping but marvel at this song. I really liked the continuous build-up in the first verse, which must be my favourite pick for inclination in any song. The rapping was nice but not their best on this album. (9/10)

6. 24/7 – It started off as another song. The whistling at the start was intriguing yet I lost interest in the song somewhere in the first verse. When the chorus kicked in, there was more than a kick to the song. I would like to describe it as more of a subtle explosion. It got my attention back to the song. As the song went along, there was a gradual build-up in the intensity of the song, which made it bold and appealing. The vocals were soft yet husky at points, which I think really gave the song some character and body. I prefer the final chorus as this is when the song full reaches its peak and doesn’t feel in any way related to how it started, yet still managing to remain true to the song’s roots. (9.5/10)

7. Bad Dream (후폭풍) – I like the way the song sounds but I can’t really figure out a way to describe the song to show this. I personally felt the instrumental could have been more interesting and developed a little more. The instrumental felt jazzy and R&B-ish, mixed nicely with some house. But it felt plain and didn’t really stand out. Same can be said for the vocals and raps. Yet when I listen to the song, I can’t help but groove along. I think a good comparison would have to be The Eve, as I can imagine the group going down a sexy route with this performance. (8/10)

8. Damage – When the song first started, it felt like something you would have gotten back in the day in KPOP. Chanyeol’s raps start the song off in a really pumped-up manner and this momentum continued into the vocals. The chorus was quite epic with a dramatic movie sound to it. I really liked how they incorporated classical instruments into the intense instrumental, particularly in the second verse, which basically a dream for someone who enjoys an orchestral piece. The bridge takes on a classical feel, stripping away the dramatic vibes of the song, which was a nice contrast. Sehun’s responsibility of saying E.X.O reappeared in this song, paying a nice throwback to EXO’s younger days. Altogether, I liked the song. (9/10)

9. Smile On My Face (여기 있을게) – Doing a complete 180° on the album is Smile On My Face, which is a pretty nice ballad. It showcased the vocals of the group and gave us an opportunity to focus on a softer side of the group before we end the album. There were no raps in this song, but I kind of expected given the ballad nature. It isn’t technically a stand out song on the album. It felt like it was there to give us a chance to catch our breathes from enjoying the more intense and dance-based tracks on the album. I like the melody and the swaying nature of the instrumental (which earns a tick from me!). (7.5/10)

10. Oasis (오아시스) – This was a nice closer for the album. There was a very certain level of hope which you could feel in the way the song sounds, which makes sense given the lyrics’ meaning. Vocally, there were many nice moments that make you feel warm and fuzzy. I think this track would have nice to listen during a walk on a nice warm day with blue skies. A cool breeze would make it even more exceptional. I would have expected some rapping in the song, to give the rappers a chance to feature in the closing of the album. But that could have easily changed the dynamic of the song. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

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Don’t Mess Up My Tempo Teaser Image

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[Review] Tempo – EXO

EXO is officially back with their first comeback in over a year. Usually, EXO makes at least one comeback before the end of the Summer, which has been the case for a few years now. So once Summer ended, I noticed a lot of concerns and memes appear online (such as the group’s continuous performances of Ko Ko Bop and Power – when we last saw them). Their title track, Tempo, is featured on the group’s 5th studio album, Don’t Mess Up My Tempo and it also the first comeback to feature Lay since Lotto.

Bare with me, as the song contains a number of individual parts that were pieced together with hopes to make a decent song. And for the most part, the producers did a good job. Unfortunately, some parts just didn’t work for me. The song started off with an intro, which felt like typical but featured Chen’s heavenly vocals. We then get thrown straight into the very addictive chorus, which is accompanied by squeaking sounds (with how you perceive the squeaky effect directly affecting the way you perceive the lyrics of the song). We then approach the deep-voiced section (performed by Xiumin in the first verse and Baekhyun in the second verse). This attracted a massive ‘no’ response from me. The rapping follows with Sehun and Chanyeol (in their respective verses) doing an amazing job with their sections. Vocals follow after each rap section but I am not amazed by that. I am, however, amazed at the bridge of the song, which slows down the tempo at first and then managed to throw in some acapella. The concern is that does mess with the tempo, contradicting the ‘Don’t Mess With My Tempo’ hook. But it sounds amazing. I did like the way they brought us back to the original chorus to really bring it home and feel upbeat once again. The instrumentation was funky but changed as it went along, adjusting its ‘tempo’, for example. To be honest, the song is a mess. It is a good mess, just with some unnecessary parts.

I wonder what their concept is for this comeback. Their teasers hinted towards motorcycles but that doesn’t seem to be at the forefront of the visuals for this comeback. What I saw was very edgy and seemed to be very aesthetic, using a lot of traditional elements for a KPOP music video. I quite like the video for that. I personally think each member looked really amazing in this comeback, including Lay who was featured in a few scenes (scarcely, however). Everything in this video seems to very elaborate, resulting in a very detailed production. I also liked how everything changed accordingly to the tempo of the song, which I thought was rather cool.

The winning part of this entire comeback is the dance performance. I thought the chorus was extremely dynamic and looked amazing on stage. The performance from today saw the members wear military outfits, so that confused me even more, in terms of the concept. I liked their energy and power they had behind each move and enjoyed the details throughout the dance during the acapella section.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[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