[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

 

[Review] Young – Baekhyun (EXO) & LOCO

The second single of Station X 0 is officially out. Last time, we heard from Taeyeon and Melomance on Page 0. The second single, Young, features the collaborative efforts of Baekhyun (whom we all know from EXO) and Loco, who we all know as a leading hip-hop artist. It seems like each of these songs have some sort of empowering message, based on the release of the first two singles. Can’t wait to see the rest of the releases.

Young is an electro-pop track that is extremely serious sounding. The atmosphere that is presented when you listen to the song isn’t one to be taken lightly. In my opinion, the song beckons you to determine what they are trying to get across to us. To quickly summarise, the song sends the message of being yourself and not to conform to the ‘expected’ image. Putting the message aside, the song features Baekhyun’s signature vocals, which fluctuates every now and then, giving the song some texture and drive. The song also features Loco and his rapping voice, which adds those elements and drive the song even further. Together, they don’t share any parts. However, they still compliment each other quite well, making this another great song from the SM Station project.

The music video expresses just what the message of the song says. However, the expectation set upon people are the rounded balls they are moulding together throughout the video. The way the people are working and walking around expressionlessly (illustrated by the paint splashing scene with Loco) shows that they are conformed to the standard and extremely bland societal normals. The way Baekhyun and Loco act, along with the disfigured ball at the end of the video shows how we should be acting and how we should be ourselves.

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

[Review] Horololo – EXO-CBX

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

 

[Album Review] Blooming Days (2nd Mini Album) – EXO-CBX

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!

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Blooming Days Album Cover

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)

2. Blooming Days (花요일) (Title Track) Click here to read the full review of Blooming Days. (9.1/10)

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)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

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Blooming Days Teaser Image

[Review] Blooming Day – EXO-CBX

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]

 

[Double Review] Do You Have A Moment & Dinner – Suho (EXO) & Jang Jane

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

 

[Review] Electric Kiss – EXO

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

 

 

2017 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Results

**drum rolls please**

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

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

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

BEST MALE GROUP DEBUT

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Wanna One

Author’s Choice – Wanna One


BEST FEMALE GROUP DEBUT

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Dream Catcher

Author’s Choice – Dream Catcher


BEST SOLOIST DEBUT

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Kim Chungha

Author’s Choice – Jung Sewoon


RISING STAR

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Monsta X

Author’s Choice – NU’EST W


BEST SUBUNIT

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SEVENTEEN Performance Unit

Author’s Choice – Gugudan 5959


BEST CO-ED GROUP

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KARD

Author’s Choice – KARD


BEST MALE SOLOIST

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G-Dragon (Big Bang)

Author’s Choice – Bobby (iKON)


BEST FEMALE SOLOIST

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IU
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Sunmi

Author’s Choice – Sunmi


BEST VOCALS

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BTOB

Author’s Choice – DAY6


BEST RAPPER

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Zico (Block B)

Author’s Choice – Bobby (iKON)


BEST JAPANESE SONG BY A KOREAN ARTIST

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One More Time – TWICE

Author’s Choice – One More Time (TWICE)


BEST COLLABORATION

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Honey Bee – Luna, Solar, Hani

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


BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

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Don’t Wanna Cry – SEVENTEEN

Author’s Choice – Gashina (Sunmi)


BEST MUSIC VIDEO

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Peek-A-Boo – Red Velvet

Author’s Choice – You In Me (KARD)


BEST MALE GROUP

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B.A.P
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EXO

Author’s Choice – SEVENTEEN


BEST FEMALE GROUP

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Red Velvet

Author’s Choice – Red Velvet


BEST NON-TITLE TRACK SONG

Beautiful – Pentagon


BEST ALBUM

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Palette – IU (4th Studio Album)

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

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

[Album Review] Universe (6th Mini Album / 2017 Winter Album) – EXO

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!

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Universe Album Cover

1 & 2. Universe (Korean and Chinese Versions)Click here for the full review of Universe. (10/10)

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. FallFall 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)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

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Universe Music Video Screenshot

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[Review] Universe – EXO

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

[Review] Bye Babe – Chen (EXO) & 10CM

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

 

[Album Review] The War: The Power of Music (4th Repackaged Album) – EXO

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!

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The War: The Power of Music Album Cover

For all other tracks on the album (tracks 1, 4-6, 8-12), CLICK HERE!!!!!!

2. Power (Title Track)Click here for the full review of Power (9.5/10)

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)

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Power Music Video Screenshot (Source: Soompi)

 

 

 

[Review] Power – EXO

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]

[Album Review] The War (4th Studio Album) – EXO

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.

 

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The War Album Cover

 

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)

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

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)

Overall Album Rating – 7.7/10

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The War Teaser Image