[Album Review] Twilight Zone (3rd Mini Album) – Ha Sung Woon

Feature Image of Ha Sung Woon's Album, Twilight Zone

Ha Sung Woon made his return earlier this month with Get Ready, which is the title track off his 3rd mini-album, Twilight Zone. I have already reviewed the song on the day of its release and now it is time for the album to be reviewed. As an overall summary (but not to spoil all my thoughts on the album), it is definitely a high quality sounding album with a lot of great tracks. For more detailed views on each of the song, you will need to continue reading. Let’s see how his sidetracks faired.

Twilight Zone Album Cover

1. Lazy Lovers – Opening up Twilight Zone is Lazy Lovers, which is a nice pop track that showcases Ha Sung Woon talents in an easygoing and trendy manner. The track is quite upbeat, features a strong retro rhythm and has a subtle funkiness that eases you into the next song. I also like his voice in this song. He switches between a falsetto and a standard pitch, which gives the song some texture in terms of his voice. The melodies and hooks to the song were also quite enjoyable. While they were relatively mild, there was a decent level of appeal to them, which helped make this song a good entrance piece for the album. (8/10)

2. Get Ready (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Get Ready. (7.5/10)

3. PuzzlePuzzle is another dance-pop track that has an appealing instrumental. It is also another enjoyable track, though I do not that it just doesn’t get past that ‘enjoyable’ label (i.e. it could have been exciting as a possible next level descriptor). The song features heavy bass during the chorus to give it that driving force and this contrasts with the lighter verse. I also like how ‘jabby’ the chorus instrumental felt, which felt fun and appealing. So were the melodies, his vocals and the ‘Fill in the blanks for me’ hooks, which ties into the song’s message quite nicely (i.e. the person he is singing to is the missing puzzle piece in his life). (8/10)

4. Lie – To me, Lie is the hidden gem on this album. It sounds like a pop-rock ballad, which is something that I really enjoy. Ha Sung Woon’s vocals bring a nice colour to the song and there is a subtle level of emotion that makes it appealing. It isn’t heavy-handed, allowing this song to be a great song to be playing in the background on a relaxing day. I really like the melodies in this song, especially when it came to the chorus. The ‘Lie’ in the chorus was pretty memorable. On a side note regarding his vocals, he sounded a lot like Kim Sung Gyu (leader and main vocalist of Infinite) in this song. It also doesn’t help that the genre is also commonly associated with Kim Sung Gyu as well. I had to do a double-take while listening to this song to ensure I didn’t actually click on a Kim Sung Gyu song. But no, it is Ha Sung Woon and I think this is a great compliment, especially since Kim Sung Gyu is one of my favourite vocalists. (10/10)

5. Curiou’s (궁금‘s) – We now return to an undeniably fun number. In comparison to the other songs on this album, it might feel a little overwhelming to some. But I don’t mind it. Once again, I really like the melodies in this song. The melodies are a lot more playful and refreshing to me, which is a really strong appealing point. I also like the energy that his voice adds to the song. The instrumental feel just right and I liked the textural components to it. To me, it easily could have been a follow-up release to Bird, as it seems to have similar energy (just this one is a lot more amped up). The only troubling issue with the song is the title and the presence of the apostrophe. I don’t think it was ever explained, nor is it referenced in the song (though the Hangul is apostrophed, though I m unsure of the significance of this). So, I am a little confused with it. But other than that, another great song. (9/10)

6. Twinkle Twinkle – The jazzy vibes to the instrumental and the way Ha Sung Woon’s vocals sound during the verses are probably its memorable moments. It is also the only song to really have my attention grabbed from the start, as it definitely puts it best foot forward first. As the song progresses, his vocals get better, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also really like how his vocals are in the forefront of the song. They come off strong and very bold, whilst the instrumental only feels like an accompaniment. It is an odd balance, but one that pays off. It ends the album on a very positive note. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Twilight Zone Teaser Image
Recommended Sign

[Review] Get Ready – Ha Sung Woon

This Monday is loaded with comebacks and I won’t be able to get through all of them today (as I am running out of time to write them – the album review took a lot longer to write than expected). Apologies in advance. The rest of them will come Kicking us off with this week’s intense influx of comeback is Ha Sung Woon, who makes his return with Get Ready. This track is the title track off his 3rd mini-album, Twilight Zone, which was also released today. This is the soloists first comeback of 2020 and since the release of Blue mid-last year. Since this Blue comeback, Ha Sung Woon has been busy with a solo concert, collaborations, charity work and an OST release (based on his Wikipedia profile). After that busy absence from the music scene, let’s hear how his return fairs.

Prior to the release of Get Ready, we were promised with a funky number as his comeback title track. And that funkiness was delivered from the first second. Funky guitars and the featuring of one brass sound kicks us off into a very dynamic and upbeat track. During the verses, we got to hear some nice vocal work and I really liked the falsetto part (this funky falsetto combination reminded me to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines for a brief moment). However, I didn’t like that sudden change up for the pre-chorus, which weakened the song in my opinion. Interestingly though, it felt fine in the second verse. It just doesn’t sit well with as part of the first verse and catches me off guard as it cuts the flow of the song. The chorus is no doubt the catchiest section, with it kicking up the energy of the song and applying more of the brass to up the funk. While add more brass makes logical sense to input more energy and funk into the song, I do have the concern that the brass overpowered the chorus and it doesn’t let the melodies or hooks (and hence vocals) shine. I think the melodies and hooks were fine as they were and the producers could have gone with a less overwhelming brass line. Apart from those falsetto moments, Get Ready‘s bridge was another favourite section, as it provided a bit of relief from the two choruses that surrounded it and allowed for Ha Sung Woon to show off his vocals before the brass drowned them out. The melody was smooth and the ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah‘ was quite catchy.

The music video starts off with a very mysterious sequence. We don’t have much context to the video, so everything is quite confusing. So here is a literal breakdown of what I see occurring. We see Ha Sung Woon swim to a house under the ocean. He enters the house while its under water, where there is a house party going on. He is thrust into the party (which looks really boring). He reflect that exact same feeling with some of the part goers later on in the video. About part way into the video, we see the house vibrating and Sung Woon jumps out of the house with a life buoy. Good thing he took that life buoy as he ends up floating away with it and the house was revealed to be floating in the sky. I would definitely like to know what this all means as I have no clue, even once I put it into words. What I can say is that the video looks quite good. His orange hair is a miss for me, even though I get Joker vibes from it.

While we haven’t seen a full performance just yet, what we managed to see in the music video promises a few things. The chemistry with the dancers make it look very appealing and adds that lighthearted vibe to the performance. The chorus looks fun and likable, especially how the dancers jump out from behind Ha Sung Woon for the final chorus. That looks unique. Overall, it looks dynamic and very fitting for the music.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.3/10

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Song-Based Categories

It is that time of the year again where I announce the winners for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. In December 2019, I allowed the audience (you all), once again, to vote for their favourite songs and artists for the December 2018 to November 2019 period. Thank you to all who voted and participated in the KPOPREVIEWED Awards this time around. Even more people voted this year, making this year more intense than ever in many categories. This post will focus on the song-based categories, which will also involve the Performance categories, Best Music Video, Best Concept and the most voted song (by you all). The winners for the artist categories will be posted in an accompanying post today, while the Top 100 songs of 2019 will be posted tomorrow.

Here is how things are going to work. Each category (aside from the non-fan voted categories, which are specified) will have a WINNER (the song/performance/video that ranked first), a Honourable Mention (the song/performance/video that ranked second) and a KPOPREVIEWED Choice (my personal choice if I voted, which I didn’t include this year). And let’s go!


Best Special Performance

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Egostistic Cover (AOA) at Queendom


Best Concept

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – HIP (Mamamoo)


Best Solo Choreography

Nominees: Blue (Ha Sung Woon); Focus (Kim Dong Han); Gotta Go (Kim Chungha); LALALAY (Sunmi); L.O.V.E (Park Ji Hoon); Twit (Hwasa – Mamamoo); WANT (Taemin – SHINee); What Are You Up To? (Kang Daniel); What You Waiting For? (Anda & R.Tee); Ya (Lee Minhyuk – BTOB).

WINNER – WANT (Taemin)
Honourable Mention – Gotta Go (Kim Chungha)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – LALALAY (Sunm
i)


Best Male (Group) Choreography

Nominees: All Night (ASTRO); Boom (NCT Dream); HIT (Seventeen); Hollywood (AB6IX); Humph! (Pentagon); Love Shot (EXO); RPM (SF9); Say My Name (ATEEZ); Side Effects (Stray Kids); You Calling My Name (GOT7).

WINNER – Love Shot (EXO)
Honourable Mention – HIT (Seventeen)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Side Effects (Stray Kids)


Best Female (Group) Choreography

Nominees: Bon Bon Chocolat (EVERGLOW); Boogie Up (WJSN); Butterfly (LOONA); DALLA DALLA (ITZY); HIP (Mamamoo); Pinky Star (Run) (GWSN); Sunrise (GFriend); The Fifth Season (Oh My Girl); Violeta (IZ*ONE); Zimzalabim (Red Velvet).

WINNER – Butterfly (LOONA)
Honourable Mention – HIP (Mamamoo)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Zimzalabim (Red Velvet)


Best Collaboration

Nominees: Blossom (Eunha & Ravi); Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey); Don’t Need Your Love (NCT Dream & HRVY); I Wanna Be (Key ft. Kim Soyeon); Spring (Park Bom ft. Sandara Park)

WINNER – Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey)
Honourable Mention – Don’t Need Your Love (NCT Dream & HRVY)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey)


Best Music Video

Nominees: Abandoned (Brown Eyed Girls); Above The Time (IU); Crown (TXT); Feel Special (TWICE); HIT (Seventeen); Love Drunk (Epik High ft. Crush); Noir (Sunmi); Snapping (Kim Chungha); You Calling My Name (GOT7); Zimzalabim (Red Velvet)

WINNER – Obsession (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Feel Special (TWICE)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – HIT (Seventeen)


Best International Song By A Korean Artist

Nominees: Breakthrough (TWICE – Japanese); Flower (GFriend – Japanese); Lights (BTS – Japan); Moonwalk (WAYV – China); Someone’s Someone (Monsta X – US).

WINNER – Breakthrough (TWICE – Japan)
Honourable Mention – Moonwalk (WAYV – China)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Breakthrough (TWICE – Japan)


Best Official Soundtrack (OST)

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – We All Lie (Ha Jin- Sky Castle OST)


Most Viewed Review of 2019

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Goblin (Sulli)


Most Viewed Album Review of 2019

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – BXXX (Ha Sung Woon)


Songs With Most Win on Weekly KPOP Charts

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Time Of Our Life (DAY6)
WINNER – HIP (Mamamoo)


Best Non-Title Track

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Ten Nights (Mamamoo)


Best Album

Nominees: Love Poem (IU); Narcissus (SF9); Purpose (Taeyeon – SNSD); The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6); Want (Taemin – SHINee)

WINNER – Love Poem (IU)
Honourable Mention – The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6)


Most Voted For Song of 2019

WINNER – Obsession (EXO)


And that brings us to the end of the Song-Based Categories for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t seen the Artist-Based Categories yet, click here.

Tomorrow, we will get to see which artist ranked on the Top 100 of the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Charts, where the song that ranks first becomes the ‘Best Song of 2019’. Remember this is decided based on the votes for Best Song of 2019 (50%) and the Weekly KPOP Charts that I post every Sunday (50%). Will EXO’s Obsession become the ‘Best Song of 2019’ officially? You can find out by clicking here (hyperlink will be updated once the post is published).

[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!

hasungwoon-bxxx-2
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

hasungwoon-bxxx-3
BXXX Teaser Image

[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