[Album Review] BXXX (2nd Mini Album) – Ha Sung Woon (HOTSHOT)

It is time to return to solo acts. Hahaha… As far as I know (at this stage), this is the only solo act album review I will be doing for the time being (I have decided to drop Kang Daniel’s solo debut mini-album as I didn’t find anything interesting on the album. Apologies ahead of time, if that is what you are expecting). Today, we will be looking closely at Ha Sungwoon, who is already onto his second mini-album, BXXX. I skipped his first mini-album (My Moment) for the exact same reason why I am skipping Kang Daniel’s. But this time around, with a more dynamic title track, I thought the album had a little more to offer. And that is why we are here today!

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BXXX Album Cover

1..Bluemaze – Starting off the BXXX album is Bluemaze. I have listened to it a few times now and I am slowly falling for it. There are a few reasons to why Bluemaze. The song has a very soothing and chilled tone, which makes it so appealing to listen to. There is a modern touch to the song, thanks to the instrumental. It’s a complex mix from what I can hear. But they do it without feeling too heavy, which is totally great! Ha Sungwoon’s vocals shine throughout. His falsetto helps makes the track extra soothing and (to an extent) help form a memorable sound to the song. (8.5/10)

2. Blue (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Blue. (9/10)

3. Riding (Pre-Release Track) (ft. Gaeko from Dynamic Duo)Riding was released 5th of June, a month prior to the release of the album. It is a pop track that seems to dabble a bit into R&B as well. It is a pleasant tune to put on in the background. I thought Sungwoon was well-showcased, vocally. Especially in the choruses. I really like the song’s melody, which I can thank the amount of listens I have given the song already (as we have been listening to the track for almost two months now). Gaeko’s part was probably the most forgettable and he didn’t really seem to add much to the atmosphere. (7/10)

4. Excuse MeExcuse Me starts off with some acoustic guitars, which were then masked away into the background of this nice sounding track. While the song did have a nice tone to it and a somewhat playful vibe, the instrumental gave it a very typical feel. Sungwoon sounds nice but it seems like this typical feel just spread over to the vocals as well. Basically, what I am saying is that Excuse Me had a ‘done before’ type of aura coming from it. So, it wasn’t impressive. But don’t get me wrong. Excuse Me is not a horrible song and still has a pleasant atmosphere surrounding it. I found the chorus to have a nice ring to it, thanks to the ‘Excuse Me’ repetition found at the end of each chorus. (7/10)

5. What Are You Doing Today? – Right from the very start, we are shown the more playful and whimsical side of Ha Sungwoon for the track. There is bright energy from the song, suitable for Ha Sungwoon to ask his lover to have some fun and run away from the stresses of life. It’s upbeat and puts you into a good mood as soon as the chorus is played. I liked his vocals in this track, as it is something we haven’t heard on this album. I like his falsettos. Come ot the think of it, his vocals do remind me of his last title track, Bird. Overall, a nice ender to the album. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

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BXXX Teaser Image
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[Review] Blue – Ha Sungwoon (HOTSHOT)

One of the biggest success stories of 2019 has to be the individual paths that each of the former Wanna One members have taken since their disbandment. It has given us amazing debuts and returns to their original groups. And while we are awaiting the last of them to debut as a solo artist, we are now entering the wave of comebacks from these solo members. Back in May, we saw the return of Yoon Ji Sung with I’ll Be There. We will be seeing the return of Bae Jin Young as part of CIX later this month. And today, we saw the return of Ha Sung Woon with Blue.

To me, Blue already sounds so much more appealing than Bird. Though I did review Bird favourably, I did find that the solo debut track ended up being very forgettable. Blue conforms to the more typical trends of music that we hear all too often nowadays. But this isn’t a flaw, like in other tracks. I find Blue to be very dynamic, thanks to both the vocals and instrumentation. Ha Sung Woon’s vocals shine once again in this track. I like the way he drags his words out during the pre-chorus, making the drop we get during the chorus to be a little more impactful. The way he incorporated an airy tone during the bridge was quite memorable. I found his vocals in the chorus to be quite striking, complimenting the bounciness of the instrumental. The rest of his singing in the track was very clear and crisp. Likewise, I found the mid-tempo pop instrumental to be very fresh. I like the moody tone of the song, especially with the piano at the start. The chorus ended up being unexpected upbeat and bouncy (as mentioned) but it somehow worked well with the rest of the song’s tone.

With a track titled Blue, it does make sense to have the music video featuring a lot of blue. And that is what this video does. Interestingly, it deviates from the use of vibrant blues, as you would expect with upbeat tracks in the Summer season. Instead, the music video uses a lot of grey-blue and features a darker tone, matching the music’s heavy and emotional tone. Another good aspect, even though it has been done a fair bit over the years, is the choreography shots on the water. Though, I think this is the first time that a music video taking it a step further by showcasing Ha Sung Woon with a wet shirt while dancing, which I don’t remember anyone else doing before. (Don’t quote me on that, my memory isn’t that great).

Something that I have yet to mention is the 180-degree turn that Blue takes in comparison to Bird. The sound is a lot mature, the visuals are a lot gloomier. But it is the performance that really strikes me hard. The choreography takes on a more mature and artistic tone, which I think draws my attention more to the stage. It also shows off his dancer side. His stylist choice to dress him in satin or silky looking suits really work well with this concept.

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

 

[Review] Bird – Ha Sungwoon (HOTSHOT)

Last week, we saw Yoon Ji Sung make his solo debut with In The Rain. But it is time we see another former Wanna One member return. Yesterday, Ha Sungwoon returned as a solo artist for the very first time. He made his debut with the title track Bird, which is featured from the mini-album, My Moment. He is also the second member of his original group, HOTSHOT, to make his solo debut. Fellow member Roh Taeyhyun, who also partipcated alongside Ha Sungwoon in Produce 101 Season 2, made his solo debut a few weeks back with I Wanna Know.

Bird is an upbeat pop track that really throws his vocals to the forefront of the song.  Sungwoon is one of the main vocalists of Wanna One but we don’t often hear much of him due to the number of members in the group. So Bird does a lot in terms of showcasing his vocals. I am also glad he went with a pop track rather than a ballad. It does feel like a cliche route for main vocalists to choose a ballad (not that I have anything against it. I just want some variety). He has nice vocals as a result and I really like how he sings in falsetto for the parts of the chorus. It gives off a nice texture and really reflects well with the sweet and pleasing instrumental. In the second verse, he goes into a rap-singing mode. I honestly felt that they could have inserted a featuring rapper here. Not because he was terrible at rapping but rather I felt we needed something to offset the sweetness of the song. I think the ‘I Sweety Bird’ line was probably his catchiest and most memorable moment of the song. Overall, it is a strong solo debut that shows his strengths.

Fitting with the title of the track, Sungwoon flies throughout the music video. Not in a literal sense but rather his imagination. In the song, he likens the feelings of love to a bird flying (at least that is how I interpreted the lyrics). I also find the video to also be as equally as a sweet as the song and this is thanks to the colour palette of the video.  Very bright but not in the way where it feels too young. I did find the music video a tad boring but that was my personal thoughts regarding the video. I think a lot of people, including his fans, would appreciate the music video for the slight cuteness.

The choreography also features some flying as well. Once again, not literal. Instead, the backup dancers are pocking up the lighted box that he sits on. Talking about the lighted box, I actually like the moment the light turns on. I also like how the choreography doesn’t rely on any complex moves but its ‘simple’ moves manage to give it the same feeling as a complicated dance routine.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10