With the subunit just finishing up their unit promotions in Korea with Blooming Days, EXO-CBX is looking at Japan for their next hit. Horololo is the title track off their upcoming first album in Japan, which is titled Magic. This is the subunit’s first comeback in Japan since their debut with Ka-Ching!. This is also my first JPOP review in a very long time. I have allocated Saturdays in the month of May for Japanese songs sung by the Korean singers that I review often on this site.
I think the first thing that jumps out at you is the chorus. It had me a little speechless the first time I heard it and it felt a little ridiculous the many listens that followed. But hey, they made it work and now it is the one thing that I am constantly hearing my head. The vocals and raps were nice. The chorus also added some intensity and energy into the song, which made me enjoy it to an extent. However, when you take the chorus away, the song was rather plain. It was like a rollercoaster. Song started off on a low and once we reached the chorus, we were at a peak. And then this repeated once we got back to the verse.
I wasn’t exactly sure what they were trying to get through with the video. It just felt like a bunch of sets purchased randomly and the production team just went with it. One moment they are in an olden styled reporter or detective office, the next they are on the streets and then they stop at a countryside train station. The cinematography did manage to channel the energy with the camera angles, so I guess that is a plus. But it just felt like a standard music video.
The choreography was extremely well suited for the song. Especially with the hook like that in the song, it doesn’t really offer much room for creativity. It also worked well with the intensity and energetic vibes highlighted earlier in the review.
Song – 6.5/10 Music Video – 5/10 Performance – 7/10 Overall Rating – 6.2/10
EXO-CBX made their long-awaited return with their second mini-album last week. The title track and mini-album share the same name, Blooming Days. A common theme that you will continually read throughout the review are comments in regards to how awesome the vocals and harmonies are within the album. For other comments, scroll down below!
1..Monday Blues – Opening the album is a smooth R&B track which features amazing vocals and harmonies. It is one of those songs that I can’t help swaying along to (which is a good thing though). It is rather slow-paced but it still features a decent chorus that seemed catchy. I really liked the ‘owoo-owoo-owoo‘ repetition, which was my favourite part. I am not a fan of the bridge, however, which felt rather boring when compared to the rest of the song. But overall, it was rather easy on the ears and felt like a well-paced song for the opener, leading onto the title track. (8/10)
3. Sweet Dreams (내일 만나) – The song has a moderate upbeat nature, which made the track extremely pleasant to listen to. Also featuring (and it seems to be a common theme in the album) are the harmonies and amazing vocals from the trio. I can say everything about the song was decent however it just didn’t seem to catch on. Likewise, the song just didn’t seem to peak, instead remaining consistent with how it initially started. (7/10)
4. Thursday – Returning to another R&B (and somewhat jazzy) song, first impressions for this track was that it was rather soothing and calming to listen to. The chorus shined brightly as the chorus was a lot louder compared to the verses, with the contrast working extremely well. Out of all the songs on the album, I like the vocals here the most. Especially, that falsetto bridge where Baekhyun and Chen alternate. (8/10)
5. Vroom Vroom – Upbeat track that sounds like was it was going to be an addictive addition to the album. And that it was. The chorus was rather unexpected, being dominated by loud synths that competed with the vocals. Yes, it was rather chaotic but it worked surprisingly well. The retro vibes were also quite strong. Also, almost non-existent on the album so far are the raps, which were nice and well-fitting to the song. (9/10)
6. Playdate – While this song showcased great vocal work and harmonies as well, it felt relatively plain and just didn’t feel captivated. It seems like a sweet swoon designed to swoon some fans but it just doesn’t really appeal to me. The falsetto was nice and the bridge was rather good. (6/10)
7. Lazy (휴일) – Like the previous track, I wasn’t really falling for this track. It had a nice sound and was pleasant sounding. I thought the chorus was rather simple, yet classy and elegant. The instrumental break was interesting, with a somewhat quirky synth in the background.But it just didn’t feel as memorable as I had expected it. Once again, nice vocals and the harmonies were great. I also felt the ending was a little too soon, as they should have eased off with the song, instead. (6/10)
EXO-CBX has made their grand return with Blooming Day and their 2nd mini-album, which also shares the same name as the title track. It has been over a year since their subunit debut with the addictive Hey Mama!, which I am always grooving to when it randomly starts playing on my phone. Given that testimony, I am extremely excited to hear what they have in store for us.
Blooming Day is extremely groovy. That is the first thing that clicked in my head once the chorus kicked in. But it isn’t the type of groovy like in Hey Mama. Rather it employs a more subtle approach to present that grooviness, which allows the song to become more impactful. I really like the start of the song, which felt very minimalistic with the drum beat in the background. What was a little interesting was how every so often they included a drum beat that had a rough texture, which I thought was cool. I thought the chorus was quite nice, with the softer first half and the louder ‘Oh Baby‘ second half. What also screams at me (not literally) are the vocals, which just sound so smooth in this song. It goes well with the subtle nature of the instrumental. When they sing together during the bridge, my breath was taken away (especially when Chen’s high note was thrown into the mix). In summary, while it does sound a lot different to Hey Mama, it manages to have the same effect on you!
While I don’t think it was their intention, the video actually came off as mysterious. They were lurking in the trees (or bush) and some of their solo shots just added extra mysteriousness (especially in the wide shots with no one else). There was one particular scene where Baekhyun shoots Chen in the head with the slingshot. That reminded me of Red Velvet’s Russian Roulette (by the way he fell). It is another aesthetic video that is visually appealing. The minimalistic vibes in this video work extremely well with the song. Overall, I thought it was a nice and pleasant video to watch.
[Updated] I liked how everything was well-timed to each drum beat and clap. It made the entire choreography quite cohesive with the song. Besides that, I didn’t find this choreography to be that memorable. I guess that is due to the level of seriousness that weighed down the performance.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 7/10 [Updated] Overall Rating – 9.1/10[Updated]
At the start of the week, it was announced that Suho (leader of EXO) and Jang Jane (vocalist from MYSTIC89) were going to collaborate for two new singles. The first is Do You Have A Moment, which was released on Friday by MYSTIC89. The second is Dinner, which was released just a few hours ago (on Saturday) as part of the SM Station Season 2 lineup. Both songs are said to be in regards to a relationship, where each song was written at various points of a relationship.
Do You Have A Moment can be described as a pop ballad. It has a soft piano based instrumental which does seem a little ordinary for my taste. It could have used other instruments to keep the song a little more interesting towards the end and given the song some freshness. The start felt like it could have developed into that typical ballad song but once we reach the first chorus, the song features a cheerful sound, setting the tone for the rest of the track. The vocals here are really nice, with both singing complimenting each other.
Dinner has a more serious and seductive tone to it, which I actually like. Like in the previous song, their vocals are the strong point of this song. Their solo sections were on point. When they sing together (such as the chorus), they change up the dominance between two depending on who’s part of the song it is. The instrumental is the complete opposite of the previous track, going for synth-based and pairing with the slight autotune which I think I can hear. The main part of the song which has me second-guessing is the bridge. I think they were singing ‘Love Love Love’ but it came out to be more like ‘LOL LOL LOL’. But besides that, it was a really good song to listen to.
Do You Have A Moment’s music video reflect the lyrics in a very literal sense. Essentially, the lyrics of the song are about making the first move towards the person that catches your eye. The video is done is a cafe like setting, where both singers don’t really face each other, clearly acting out the lyrics. It literally ends with both singers finally facing each other, already clearing the first (and the most daunting) step of all.
The music video for Dinner also goes well with the lyrics of the song. Judging from the video, the two are experiencing a breakdown in their relationship, illustrated by the lack of chemistry they share when at the table together or when one of them is completely absent. I like how they started off with the final scene (the clock) from the previous video and used the same set to show the difference between the two stories. I also liked the lighting and the extra sets that were used.
Do You Have A Moment Song – 8/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8/10
Dinner Song – 8.5/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.7/10
EXO kicks 2018 off with their return to the Japanese market with Electric Kiss and their 1st full-length album, Countdown. The album contains all of EXO’s previous Japanese singles (Coming Over, Love Me Right ~romantic universe~, Drop That etc.) that they have unveiled during their concerts and other performances. Like their promotions in 2017, Lay did not participate in the comeback due to scheduling conflicts.
I love the instrumental to this track. It is the first thing that popped out at me when I first listened to the track, which had this heavy yet powerful feel to it. In a way, it is definitely really dramatic and it shapes the track into something spectacular. The instrumental asks for something rough and edgy, which is delivered through the vocals. I love the roughness of some of the member’s vocals, especially D.O’s, whom I think compliments the instrumental really well. Of course, the other members all sound often but I feel like D.O’s is a perfect example for this explanation. Per usual, Chanyeol’s and Sehun’s raps were on point in this song, catching me off guard with their raspy voices. Sure, there was definitely some editing to them but it is an electronic song, which makes senses. The chorus was definitely the main highlight of the song and I like how they approached it by inserting the ‘It’s going to be electric‘ line between each line of the chorus. And the bridge was also quite good. While this is just a Japanese release, if they were to come back with something like this in South Korea, I think they could even perform better than what they have already achieved.
I like the fast-paced nature and the flashy style they have gone for. It is really is fitting. I setting is also fitting, going well with the edginess that you can feel from the song. The video was quite good and had that cool factor to it, which went well with the song. I know this is rather short but that was the main comments which I wanted to make in regards to the video.
With the performance, I expected something with a whole heap of intensity. And while they did tick that box, I just don’t think the choreography as a whole was the best fit. I wanted something more to it which would have made me go wow. The formations and how they go into those formations were remarkable, especially during the chorus. Everything was quite sharp but it just didn’t seem enough to me.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 7/10 Overall Rating – 8.3/10
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.
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
Author’s Choice – Wanna One
BEST FEMALE GROUP DEBUT
Author’s Choice – Dream Catcher
BEST SOLOIST DEBUT
Author’s Choice – Jung Sewoon
Author’s Choice – NU’EST W
Author’s Choice – Gugudan 5959
BEST CO-ED GROUP
Author’s Choice – KARD
BEST MALE SOLOIST
Author’s Choice – Bobby (iKON)
BEST FEMALE SOLOIST
Author’s Choice – Sunmi
Author’s Choice – DAY6
Author’s Choice – Bobby (iKON)
BEST JAPANESE SONG BY A KOREAN ARTIST
Author’s Choice – One More Time (TWICE)
Author’s Choice – Bye Babe (Chen & 10CM)
Author’s Choice – Gashina (Sunmi)
BEST MUSIC VIDEO
Author’s Choice – You In Me (KARD)
BEST MALE GROUP
Author’s Choice – SEVENTEEN
BEST FEMALE GROUP
Author’s Choice – Red Velvet
BEST NON-TITLE TRACK SONG
Beautiful – Pentagon
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.
Welcome to the first album review of 2018 and we are starting off with the last major release of 2017. EXO returned on the 26th of December with their 2017 Winter album, Universe, which has become the fourth Winter album release of the band. The track has yet to be performed on any of the weekly music shows but was performed at the MBC Music Festival that occurred on the 31st of December. This album has caught me off guard with its high quality and has officially become one of my favourite releases of 2017. Scroll down and read the review to find out why I think so!
3. Been Through (지나갈 테니) – To me, this is the best song on the entire album. It grabbed my attention from the very start with its addictive nature and the overall aesthetics of the song. The vocals were really smooth, with some of the members using a huskier voice. The use of their voice has an added layer of percussion after the chorus added a nice touch and ‘o-whoo’ was oddly fascinating. The song had a nice launch into the chorus and it leaves you breathless. The instrumental was a show-stealer with its hollow effect and sounds. (10/10)
4. Stay – The song starts off like a ballad but it slowly builds up to something quite upbeat. In a way, this make the song unique because it still manages to hold back its energy and not overwhelm the listener with too much energy. The song has extremely strong chill vibes. The speed of the rap sequences contrasted with the mid-tempo pace of the song but I felt the autotune was unnecessary. The way the song ended with the ‘Stay’ sung by Suho, accompanied by the piano, was haunting but well done. (9/10)
5. Fall – Fall features a guitar dominate instrumental. There were a few subtle synths thrown into the song around the rap part and they surprisingly fitted in well with the song. Once again, the vocals and raps were on point. The chorus was probably the main highlight of the song with its dramatic ‘Fall’ repetition (also my favourite part of the song). The addition of the ad-libs in the second and third choruses kept the song from getting too repetitive. (9/10)
6. Good Night – This is the least interesting song on the entire album. But that being said, it is still a decent song to listen to. It is a soothing ballad, with all the members singing and shining in the song. The ad-libs that were layered on top of the main vocals of the song gave the song a more artistic twist. (8/10)
7. Lights Out – EXO ends their album with the vocals of 4 members (Suho, D.O, Chen and Baekhyun). The song does feel a little stagnant as the instrumental doesn’t really develop in any way. However, the vocals were the main driving force of the entire track. The falsettos which made up the chorus really gave the song some character, while the slight use of the choir in the background made the song feel more intense and aesthetic. Overall, it was a breathtaking song. (9/10)
EXO is nominated for Best Music Video and Best Boy Group. Some of the members are also nominated in other categories such as Best Japanese Song By A Korean Artist and Best Collaboration. Get voting to support them as voting closes in a few days. You can vote by clicking here!
EXO has made their return with their annual Winter mini-album, which also shares the same title of the lead title track. Universe follows the success of EXO’s previous Winter tracks such as Miracle in December, Sing For You & For Life. The album was originally meant to be released prior to Christmas However, its release was delayed until after Christmas due to the death of SHINee’s Jonghyun.
And Universe lives up to the expectations that were set by EXO’s previous Winter tracks. Universe has a very simple feel to it, especially with the lone piano in the instrumental at the start. The addition of more instruments builds up the song, turning it into a dramatic piece of music. And I totally dig this style. The other major component of this song has to be the vocals, which are breathtaking. I particularly thought the chorus was extremely well done with that “I Search the Universe‘ very addictive for some odd reason, Finally, that slow down in energy at the very end where they ease away from that dramatic sound and taking us back to the very start was very nice. It completes the song perfectly, in my point of view, making this track one of the best.
The entire video has this brown colour type of palette, which gives off a warm feeling and compliments well with the song. The barista and coffee concept also seems to add to that warm feeling, which I think is quite perfect. There are also a number of scenes within the video that show two people being tied together. But that knot break apart and the EXO members go searching the entire ‘Universe‘ for the part of the rope. My interpretation may be a little weak but that is what I could gather from some sources. I really like the how the bass in the song is timed well with the vibrations on the coffee, making the video pair well with the song. It is a really nice video to watch, overall.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 10/10 Overall Rating – 10/10
Every time I have paused to do an SM Station review (which I haven’t done in the past few weeks), it always ends up being a ballad. In the coming days, due to the lack of comebacks this week, I will be catching up on some of the SM Station releases I have missed in the last 3 months or so I have not looked at the tracks (one of them is a dance track – take a guess which one). Today, I am starting off with Chen’s collaboration with 10CM, Bye Babe.
Bye Babe is not a ballad, which caught me off guard the first time I saw it. Instead, it is an extremely funky guitar dominating song that feels bright and vibrant. It does fall towards the indie side, which 10CM is known for. It has me tapping along and that brightness just makes you smile. The highlight of the song for me is actually that crunching effect that the guitar produces to open up the chorus. Very ear-catching and unique (for me at least). Another standout for this track is the obvious vocals. Chen’s vocals felt just right for the song. It complemented well with 10CM’s vocals and the harmonies that the two produced makes the song so much more enjoyable. If you can’t tell by my comments, I pretty much enjoyed the song. Great collaboration.
The music video states that it is the ‘live version’. So my guess is that the entire song and instrumentation was recorded in the video? That is quite cool. Overall, I thought it was a good video despite it only showing the two artists singing, while the other people in the background are playing the instruments. The layout and the setting were quite awesome. The warm colour filter worked well with the song.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9.5/10
This is the second album review for today, which hopefully covers last week’s missing album review. EXO is back with their repackaged album, The War: The Power of Music. I also vote this album for ‘cheesiest album title’ of the year. Anyway, I previously reviewed The War album and that will be linked in the post below. I will only be reviewing the new songs for the repackaged album. So let’s get this show on the road!
3. Sweet Lies – It is the odd one out for the entire album. And I am a little torn. A part of me finds the track very interesting. The RnB infused electronic style of sound isn’t something that you find often in KPOP. And it somewhat stands out. The vocals were great and the raps were just on point. But even after a few listens, the track isn’t memorable. I know I highlighted some elements that I liked about the song but that is only when I listen to the song with intent to write about it. Just listening to it with the rest of the album, on the other hand, means it gets swept under the shadows of the catchy Power and disappointing Ko Ko Bop. (7/10)
7. Boomerang – The track is more up my alley. But once again, it does fall short compared to others on the album. The synth-heavy RnB centered instrumental was standard but pretty nice. The vocals were good, bringing a rougher side out of some of the vocalists in my opinion. I am not a big fan of the ‘Hey Hey Hey‘, as they felt awkwardly placed. I don’t think there were any rap portions to the song, as Chanyeol opted for singing in the second verse and Sehun only ended up with 6 words (Tik Tak Boom). In my opinion, if the song had a stronger hook, I would have enjoyed it a little more. And think it would have complimented the other elements. (7/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8/10 (only songs reviewed in this post)
The return of the superpowers that EXO debuted with! Per tradition, EXO has made their return with the repackaged album of The War, which has been renamed to The War: The Power of Music. This repackaged album features all the songs from The War (such as Ko Ko Bop) and it also features 3 new songs, one of which is Power.
EXO went with a totally new sound with Power. From their reggae influenced Ko Ko Bop, Power centres itself within the genre of Pop. I personally like this. It is right up my alley. Sure, it isn’t a brand new sound nor does it experiment with anything. But sometimes, you just need to return to the good old days and listen to some pure pop (like what I grew up with). What I initially thought was the song felt like your typical EXO side-track that you would find on the album, not a title track. But don’t get me wrong, this is one really good title track. The intensity from the instrumental was just right and paired well with the other elements of the song. I like the bright atmosphere, which suits the exiting Summer season which just ended in South Korea. The song itself is catchy. The “We Got The Power” line rings in my head even after the song ends, which is indicative that it is going to be one catchy song. Vocally, this is an amazing effort from the group. I felt everyone shined equally and it was definitely one of their best (in my opinion).
But I don’t think the song is the main focus of the comeback. It has to be the music video. I watched 5 minutes of what? I don’t know. No one knows. I personally thought that they despised their superpower debut. But it seemed to return in this comeback. Just it is hard to decide whether this is a recovery from that debut or if it adds to the shame that I believed they expressed in the past in regards to it. The acting was cringy. I’ll say that. And the way they posed for their individual shots. But it all adds to the humorous side of the video which I thought was an aspect of the video that was appealing. I personally felt the robot invasion theme was more suitable for an album titled as The War. Sighs. It has come to the point where I am going to say I like this video quite a bit. It is better than saying I want to roll up into a ball and cringe on their behalf.
[Updated] The performance was not what I expected for some odd reason but I like it. I am actually slightly addicted to it. My favourite part was the slow motion stepping at the end of the song. Besides Kai’s winks going viral, Power gave them room to be a little carefree and that is what I enjoyed the most about it.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 9/10 [Updated] Overall Rating – 9.5/10[Updated]
A few days ago, EXO made their highly anticipated comeback with Ko Ko Bop. I did make a sneaky post in the comment section, saying I would make an album review for EXO’s 4th studio album, The War. So here it is.
But before we delve into the album review, I just want to take this moment to notify you all that album reviews will be released on a weekly basis every Monday starting on the 31st of July. This is so I can keep track of things and not go overboard with the number of album reviews as I did in the past few weeks! Now, onto the review.
1..The Eve (전야) – The album opens up with one killer track. As soon as the song plays, you are attacked with amazing vocals from the members. The slowness of the track was also another interesting aspect. While I don’t the track changed much, you could feel the build up through the instrumental, which creates a tense atmosphere, which ended bringing their vocals/raps into the spotlight. (9/10)
3. What U Do? – This is my personal favourite of the entire album. Like the first track, the vocals of the members are put into the spotlight. I love the dynamics of the track, which made me want to get up and dance. The chorus was super catchy and has the ‘What U Do‘ (which all the members participate in) ringing in my head after the song finishes up. (9/10)
4. Forever – This track could have received the same comments as What U Do and The Eve. But I wasn’t impressed with the introduction. It was intriguing but it didn’t feel like it leads well into the rest of the track, which turned into one epic song, which could have rivalled the two songs mentioned. Once again, the vocals are on point, but I thought the first half of Chanyeol’s raps could have been better. The raspiness and speed during the second half were felt needed in the first half. (8/10)
5. Diamond(다이아몬드) – A part of me wants to like the track. It has an interesting yet strong beat. The instrumental has a Middle Eastern influence, which you should know, usually ticks the box for me. However, I didn’t like how the rappers kept on adding small parts throughout the song. To me, it gets annoying after a while and just feels likes a ‘remember me’ technique. It also wasn’t a memorable song, compared to the predecessors in this album. (7/10)
6. Touch It (너의 손짓) – And like Diamond, this song wasn’t that memorable. Instead, it seemed to have gotten lost in the mix of good and disappointing songs. Which was a pity because when it is by itself, I got a good sense of its groovy and funk vibes. The vocal work and rapping were pretty good. I love the ‘na na na‘ at the end of each chorus. It was the catchiest part of the entire track and the accompanying female background vocals suited the groovy vibe, so nicely. (7.5/10)
7. Chill (소름) – Chill is a chaotic mess and I say that in a bad way. To me, it felt like all the aspects you could ask for just did not work well together. The instrumental felt like one mess, with all the different elements not coming together well. Furthermore, there was an odd mix of styles, which didn’t sound ear-catching to me. The same could be said about the raps and vocals. Overall, not a song that I would want to revisit. (4/10)
8. Walk On Memories (기억을 걷는 밤) – This is one amazing song. The melodies in this song are definitely one to die for. The vocals in this song are just blissful, where all the members are singing. The harmonies as well. Even the instrumental was beautiful. The aesthetics of the song is on another level and it just leaves me breathless and speechless. (10/10)
9. Going Crazy (내가 미쳐) – Two things caught me by surprise with this track. Firstly, the sudden breakdown. It was unexpected but I felt it went with the rest of the song nicely (unlike in other tracks). It did give the track a more ‘out-there’ feel, which I guess is the ‘crazy’ side of the track. The second thing was that sudden high note at the end of the song. And everything else in between sounded like a really good. It is safe to say that the album ends on a good note. (9/10)
EXO has made their return to the stage with their brand new fourth album, titled as The War. The main title track for the album is Ko Ko Bop. Unfortunately, Lay was unable to participate in the album due to his schedule in China, hence why he is missing from the promotional activities. This album alone has already broken a record, prior to the release of the album, proving to everyone the group’s popularity and fandom’s dedication.
The song was disappointing at first glance. A number of listens later and the same perception still holds. I am not exactly into the reggae style that they went with, but I am not turned off by it, as well. It gave the song its unique side. There were some catchy moments, but I don’t think there was enough to make me fall for the song immediately. While the breakdown did make the track interesting to an extent, it just didn’t work with the rest of the track. Their vocals don’t seem that great this time around, which was a disappointment. I was expecting some sort of intensity from the members, but the energy felt very lacking. I know it was a more chilled song, but that doesn’t mean the energy has to be low. The only member I felt did a good job was Chanyeol, whose rap suited the song. I may not have enjoyedLotto, but this does make Lotto seem like a decent song.
I feel like the music video would raise a few eyebrows. Not referring to the abs or the chest exposure, though, which I am sure would have fans replaying the video purely for observation purposes. But how the video seems to allude to some ways of ‘having a good time’. I am referring to how some of the members look a little stoned. I honestly hope that I am looking at the video is a completely wrong way, but that is what I am getting from it. I say that because of the perception of drugs in South Korea is extremely looked down upon. Personally, I thought the video was could have been better. The guys displayed a carefree and hippy-like image, which I thought was okay. When I look at other EXO videos, I do see more flashy or intense concepts, so this seemed like a step back, though they may not be a bad thing. It seemed fitting for the song, but I am not sure if it is a concept that suits the members. Not a major fan of some of their outfits or hairstyles, as well.
Although we only saw glimpses of the choreography, I think I can say it is quite good. I will return to this part once a stage performance has been uploaded. And while I did not like the breakdown music wise, the accompanying dance for it looked amazing. It calls for some intensity and I think the parts I saw brought just that.
Song – 5/10 Music Video – 6/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 6/10
SM Station tracks have been continuously released on a weekly basis. However, I haven’t reviewed them for a while because I don’t really consider some of them as KPOP. If they feature a KPOP artist, such as this track, the likelihood of it being reviewed will increase vastly compared to tracks that feature indie artists (such as the releases of the past month). Young & Free is this week’s release, which features Xiumin from EXO and Mark from NCT.
Young & Free sounds okay. That is probably the best I can say about the song. It has a nice piano instrumental that remains consistent throughout. While I did describe it as nice, there wasn’t anything that made it interesting. And that left it feeling a little bland and dull in nature. Xiumin’s vocals are okay. I have heard songs where his vocals ended up shining a fair bit, such as in EXO-CBX’s Hey Mama. Here, it didn’t have that backing or support from another artist and that is why I thought it fell a little short. Mark’s rapping is probably the one thing that I did like from the track. Though, I have to admit that Mark’s rapping did feel a little disjointed from the instrumental. His raps do suit more refined or upbeat songs, such as his works in his respective NCT subunits. The song tried its best to remain catchy. But while I do acknowledge that some people would find it catchy and addictive, the hooks present in the song didn’t do much for me.
That paleness is back once again. Once again, it is not bothering but just another observation. Throughout the video, we see Mark and Xiumin hang out with each other and show off their budding friendship. So, there isn’t much else to say about that. Not sure about the ending. Does it mean that they have a very strong imagination? As if they were outside the whole time, but believed they were on stage? Overall, it was a nice video to watch and the song felt fitting for the video.
The video did also show a small section of the choreography. I thought it was nice and also fitting for the song. It’s something simple and easy-going for the song and I personally like that.
Song – 5/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 6.5/10
EXO-CBX will be making their official debut on the 24th of May, with the drop of their first min-album, Girls. While that date is two weeks away, they have already released the short version of the music video and gave a full performance for their debut track. The EXO subunit previously made their Korean debut with Hey Mama last year. This is the third JPOP review of the four I promised, with the last one being released later today.
I was genuinely curious what style the subunit would go for. Hey Mama was so good and was a song that was more up my alley. Given that this release is more for the audience in Japan, it would be interesting to see what style the song delves into. And I am glad that I clicked on this song. Ka-Ching really catchy to listen to. Even after the song ends, I want more of it. The instrumental sounds like a soundtrack for the playboy who just arrived at a Las Vegas casino and has a bit fun in the casino. Which is obviously appropriate for a song that revolves around money. I love the vocal work in the song, especially the buildup during the pre-chorus. The “Ka-Ching” that is engraved into our minds by the end of the song sounds alluring and does a good job of keeping that catchiness of the song. Trust me, but “Ka-Ching” is probably the one thing you will remember for a while after listening to the song. The one thing that doesn’t sit well with me is the rapping in the song. It was pretty bad, to the point where I has to be one of the worst rap sequences I have heard in a long time. The song needed a rap sequence, just not that one. But overall, the song was pretty good.
I am honestly not too sure about the music video. A part of me likes it. Another part of me wants to ask what was going on during the circus scenes. Not exactly sure about those backup dancers and their creepy makeup. Sure, they added a little colour to the video to give it a more vibrant feel, but it looked really scary. The green screen for the circus background has a lot going on, so it felt overwhelming and complicated. The casino scenes looked a lot simpler and felt more open but those backup dancers were still there. I like the speech bubbles and the comic themed writing that appeared. Just not the word art for the line “We’re on a payroll”.
Getting on the trend of body rolls, Ka-Ching makes use of the body rolls during the chorus. It actually looks quite cool. My favourite part of the dance is the end, which isn’t shown in the music video linked below but rather the live performance that you can search up on YouTube, where Baekhyun starts off, then Chen and Xiumin, then the backup dancers.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 6/10 Performance – 10/10 Overall Rating – 8/10
Baekhyun’s recent solo release is the third song in the SM Station Season 2 project. Red Velvet’s Would U and Ten’s Dream In A Dream are also other songs in the project. For a review, I don’t think I ever repeated the artist’s name so many times before.
Baekhyun went with a ballad that does a pretty good job at bringing out his vocal’s capabilities. His vocals are on point throughout the song. Take Me Home fits perfectly into the season of Spring, with its more upbeat and brighter melody. Complimenting the Spring season, you can hear the romantic vibes that Baekhyun and the instrumental try to get across to the listener. But the instrumental is pretty standard, and there isn’t anything to comment on. I love how his voice buildups in the song, rather than the instrumental. That, or you can hear the buildup in his voice more apparent here. The song doesn’t have me coming back for though. It is the type of song that you would be happy to listen to, but you don’t necessary go back to replay it. There wasn’t a memorable moment that I tend to look for in ballads. Overall, it is a beautiful song but probably not one for me.
The video compliments the song quite nicely. I expected the video to be more on the dull side, but it wasn’t. The entire song was about how Baekhyun wanted to help his friend (the girl) get over her ex. The whole video shows Baekhyun’s attempt of moving her attention away. In the end, he successfully drags her away from the memories that sadden her by getting her to do a small dance and finally sharing a smile with each other. The end shows him holding the picture and the flower, but no friend was present, suggesting that she had moved on and his job was completed. My initial thoughts of Baekhyun’s attempts to get her mind off of things was that he was flirting and was consistently rejected. I guess lyrics and some fan comments do go a long way. As I previously said, it is a nice video to watch.
Song – 6/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7/10