[Review] Can Be Better – HIGHLIGHT

HIGHLIGHT is back and this time they are “celebrating” their 8th year since their debut in 2009. Oh, how fast has time been. Their latest mini-album is titled, appropriately, as Celebrate and features the title track, Can Be Better. This is their first comeback since their repackaged album, Calling You.

Continuing their run with their more cheerful and vibrant songs, HIGHLIGHT manages to nail it once again with Can Be Better. Actually, they might just have hit the bull-eyes with this song. From the very first listen, the song was so upbeat that my body just wanted to get up and dance. It was catchy and definitely addictive to listen to. Little did I know that in a couple of hours, I actually played the song so much more than any other song today.  There isn’t anything that special about the song’s instrumental. But the atmosphere that the vocals and the raps add to the song gives it such a lively background. Though I do miss the darker side of the group, I have to admit the brighter side is doing wonders for them.

The music video reflects well with the song. It has a more humorous side to it, which makes it more appealing to watch. And I think it ties in well with their message. Essentially, it doesn’t matter if you are having a bad day. It happens and you just might not know what will happen next. It did get confusing towards the end with how each of them manages to step into the freezer and somehow get stuck inside that. I would like to see the aftermath of all the events, but I think the party scenes seem to be what followed.

[Updated] The dance matched the song in terms of that cheerful and bright side. It looked like the dance was choreographed based on wanting to have fun and that was portrayed very nicely. It was also the type of song that could have any dance and the only element required was the fun side of it.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10 [Updated]
Overall Rating – 9.5/10 [Updated]

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[Review] What U Like – Lee Gikwang (HIGHLIGHT)

Lee Gikwang, who is commonly known to be part of HIGHLIGHT (formerly Beast), was actually previously a solo artist under the stage name of AJ before he debuted with the group. However, his solo career was put on hold for the debut of Beast and has not promoted as a solo artist since his debut in 2009. Until today, where he dropped his track What U Like and 2nd mini album, One.

The track is underwhelming. It doesn’t appeal to my taste and it just doesn’t have the energy that I sought. I can see why some people would like it. It has some nice hooks and the overall sound contributes to a nice atmosphere. The track is easy on the ears and seems to separate itself from the competition for its combination of styles. The song is a mashup between that ongoing tropical style trend that KPOP has been experiencing and that minimalistic style of music. But the two doesn’t really go together. Tropical based music is meant to be energetic and the minimalistic nature just kills those vibes. And the same can be said the other way around. The vocals were great. They actually have this smoothness to them, which I thought was cool. This is just my personal opinion at the time of writing. It may or may not change with even more listens in the coming weeks and months. Gikwang’s solo return is definitely much appreciated but his song doesn’t do the job for me. (There is actually another song on the album which drew my attention: Misunderstand. Check it out here!).

The same can be said about his music video. I liked the setting (some urban place in Korea that keeps popping in music videos) and the cinematography was pretty good. The use of those coloured clouds looks amazing, as well.  But I found the video a tad boring to watch. Besides some solo shots and choreography, there isn’t anything else in the video to talk about. So I am going to poke at something that I usually don’t speak about. His outfits in the video look really good. I would never be able to pull off his style and it makes me slightly jealous.

Gikwang is known for his dancing. From his solo stages to his group work, there is a lot of expectations for his comeback in terms of choreography. There hasn’t been a full performance yet. However, from what I see in the music video, I think it looks like it is going to be a nice performance to look out for.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6/10

[Review] Calling You – HIGHLIGHT

HIGHLIGHT (formerly Beast) is back with their repackaged mini-album. The group made their “debut” back in March of this year with Plz Don’t Be Sad and the mini-album Can You Feel It?. Calling You is the song being reviewed today, which is also the title track of the repackaged album (surprise, surprise).

When I heard that the group was going to release a new song, I was super excited. Mainly because I was super excited. Plz Don’t Be Sad ended up being a really catchy and addictive song. But if I was being honest regarding Calling You, you all will be very disappointed. I don’t see the same happening for Calling You, which even shocked me since I love all of their past title tracks. Per usual, the group threw in their grand vocals for this song, while still maintaining a pop-influenced instrumental. All the members sang in the song, which still surprises me til this day. The song is bright and vibrant (something that HIGHLIGHT only started doing since they “debuted”). Moving along to why I don’t see it catching on (for me). It doesn’t feel dynamic or catchy. There was an apparent hook throughout the chorus, but it didn’t seem strong enough. It felt more like a fan-service song than an actual title track (was that its intention, I am not too sure). Finally, the song felt like it ended a little too soon and didn’t reach the end that it needed. It kind of awkwardly faded away.

I actually liked the music video a lot more. You see the guys gather at a local Korean food stand, but all in their own scenarios. It seems like all the guys have someone constantly on their mind and throughout the video are trying to forget about that person through drinking and various activities. But those feelings were probably too strong and they all end up trying to make some sort of contact in the video. Besides the plot, I thought the video looked good overall. I thought the part where everyone got up to dance looked pretty cool. My main question is: ‘What is Junhyung wearing?”. But besides, great video!

It seems like HIGHLIGHT is continuing with the playful side we saw in Plz Don’t Be Sad. While it was tone down for the song, you could tell by their facial expressions and lightheartedness throughout the performance. Not that memorable but it does suit the song very nicely.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10

 

[Review] Wonder If – Junhyung (HIGHLIGHT) ft. Heize

After rebranding into HIGHLIGHT, there were rumours floating about with Junhyung’s impending return as a solo artist. It seems like those rumours were true and hence we are all here today. Junhyung previously made his solo debut with Flower and returned last year with After This Moment (featuring Davii). His comeback is titled as Wonder If and features Heize.

Junhyung delves into the RnB side of the Korean music scene with his latest release. His main duty if HIGHLIGHT is to be the main rapper, however, here he sings the entire song. Something that is a little foreign for the established rapper. That being said, I always find rappers have a unique voice that lets them add a different colour to their group songs. Here, Junhyung shines like never before with his catchy and addictive track. It’s the RnB feel that I enjoy listening to. The chorus was probably the best bit of the entire song. I love the way he delivered his lines as if it was to make it jaggered, yet somehow remaining smooth the entire way. The melodies during the chorus are also amazing. While I did say his voice shines, the track does feel quite neutral as you move towards the end. Heize’s featuring was the much-needed relief and added that needed colour to the song. Her voice also gives the song an extra level of depth, which ends up transforming the song into something even better. Overall, this song is one really amazing and worthwhile collaboration.

The same cannot be said about the music video, unfortunately. While I enjoyed the song, the video feels empty and lacking. There isn’t a whole much going on in the video, besides Junhyung singing in various sets. I am not the type of person who would sit around and watch that. Even Heize’s addition to the video couldn’t save the video for me. The video was dark, which matches Junhyung’s associated sound and style. The video was edited to seem like you were drunk, which did give it an alluring appeal, which only lasted for a while. Besides that, I am not a fan of the video.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 5/10
Overall Rating –  7.5/10

 

[Album Review] Can You Feel It? (9th Mini Album) – HIGHLIGHT

HIGHLIGHT, formerly known as Beast, have rebranded themselves and returned to the stage with their latest mini album. The group, unfortunately, could not carry over their original group name after leaving the company, as Cube Entertainment had owned the name. Hence, why a new name was needed. And now the group has returned with a smashing new mini album, titled as Can You Feel It?.

 

Can You Feel It? Album Cover

 

1..Plz Don’t Be Sad (얼굴 찌푸리지 말아요) (title track) – Click here to view the full review for Plz Don’t Be Sad. (8/10)

2. It’s Still Beautiful (아름답다) (pre-release track) – While I probably will not get around to writing a full review for it, I will go on about how nice this track is. Beast tends to ‘pre-release’ a ballad track before dropping their album, which is what they have done here. And what they have given us is quite beautiful. The soft instrumental doesn’t steal the show. Instead, their vocals that give the song that striking sound, which made me fall in love. Each member sings in this song, further proving the extent of their talents. My only complaint is as the song approaches the end, you expect it to ease out. But instead, it ends quite suddenly, which does catch me off guard. But “It’s Still (a) Beautiful” song. (9/10)

3. The Beginning (시작) – This is the second ballad off the tracklist. It has a more subtle cafe and elevator music vibe to it. Out of all the tracks, I don’t really find it appealing. But that is just my personal preference. Like the other tracks, this is a really good track by itself. The little “twinkle” sounds from the piano does give it a nice touch and of course, the members show off their vocals here as well, but not as much their other tracks on the rest of the album. (7.5/10)

4. Dangerous (위험해) – This is the third ballad-like song on the album. And out of the three, it is probably the best. I freaking love it. The chorus is really damn catchy. It is a beautiful song to just sit down, sway along and lipsync along with it. The chorus, alongside the verses, give the song a very dramatic and serious feel. Junhyung’s raps top the song off very nicely, as well. It doesn’t seem to fit, but it works wonderfully with the rest of the song. This song does show off their vocals as well, but in its own way.  (10/10)

5. Can You Feel It? –  Given the trend, you expect them to finish off with another ballad. But instead, a dance track closes the mini album. As soon as I heard the song, it felt just right. It has everything you expect in a party-themed song. It’s catchy and addictive. And it has a sick beat that is bound to get you in the mood for a little bouncing or dancing. I revisit the entire mini-album just for this one track. Likewise, I feel like their vocals and raps are shown off, but in a more appropriate way that suits this song. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

 

Can You Feel It? Group Teaser Image

 

[Review] Plz Don’t Be Sad – HIGHLIGHT

A new boy group is here to grace the stage. Well, they aren’t that new. Highlight is actually Beast. But since Beast did not resign their contract with their former company, Cube Entertainment (who also trademarked the name Beast or B2ST), the guys had to find a new company and a new name for themselves. Hence, the guys went on to form About Us Entertainment and named themselves Highlight, after one of their previous songs. This is the team’s first comeback since last year’s Ribbon.

The song is actually quite good. I think of the main concerns was what direction would the group go in, since they have essentially been given a new chance to restart. I personally would have loved to see them continue with their previous styles. But given this song, fans don’t need to worry too much. It is a song that sounds fun. It was a bit foreign, but it puts smiles on my face (since the song is about turning the frown upside down). The vocals are quite good and Junhyung’s rap is up to par with any other work he has done so far. The introduction (woooaaahh, woooaaahh) and chorus sounded spectacular. The instrumental is a little more on the traditional side of KPOP but in combination with their vocals/raps, it felt fresh and new. I don’t think there is anything that pulls the song down. It just a side to their musical side that I am trying to get used to. Given their current success on the charts, this song is bound to stay relevant for quite a while and if that is the case, I’ll probably fall in love with the song (like any other Beast song) very quickly.

Judging the song, we can kind of assume that they went with a more bright concept. A concept that isn’t really done by Beast. And while they nail channelling the sound into the video, I don’t really find the video impressive. To be honest, what they have done suits the song quite nicely. I cannot think of another way to produce a video to match the song, an important aspect of all videos that I consider. I don’t expect much usually, but when you have watched a video numerous times (because it is Highlight) and don’t really remember much from it, it sends a message. Sure, they have a few comedic moments. But they did have enough to make me laugh or even chuckle. You can just tell they were there to given the video a more lightened up feel. Furthermore, the video seems like a step back. It does have a rookie feel to it as if the members are rebuilding their presence from the very bottom. I would have liked it if they went with a vibrant concept that manages to carry over the same Beast feel.

The dance is actually quite enjoyable. While it is quite simple and not as impressive as their past choreographies, it manages to work well with the song. I really liked the chorus and the different hand movements they do, especially when they are singing about the sad faces. There is no actual live stage (from what I see) yet, but I have a feeling I am going to like the performances even more when those stages are released (starting tonight).

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Double Review] Butterfly + Ribbon – Beast

Beast has returned to the stage. This comeback marks the first time the boys have returned since Hyunseung withdrew from the group back in April this year.

Let’s start off with the pre-release, Butterfly. This ballad song is great. Their vocals are quite nice. Since Hyunseung departed, you can definitely tell that the group needed to step up to fill in the empty spot and this song is an excellent example of that. Even Junhyung, who predominate raps in Beast’s songs, have stepped up and opened the song really well. The rest of the group sings really well, as well. The chorus is quite addictive as well and I find it a great song to sway along to. To me, it sounds like a flawless song and I really do enjoy listening to it.

Ribbon is another great song to add to the list. The song sounds like version 2.0 of 12:30. I can’t say this is a ballad, but I see where everyone is coming from. I really enjoyed the violins in the instrumental. It was well emphasised and it drew my attention right away. It does have a few issues in my book, though. The first would have to be the vocals vs. instrumental balance. I found the instrumental was very overpowering at times and I couldn’t hear the vocal work of the members as well. The “Tie up a ribbon” sounds really awkward and it took me a while to actually understand that is what was being sung. I actually thought they were saying something in South Korean. Those high notes at the end were pretty cool. Overall, both songs are pretty good.

The music video for Butterfly is really beautiful . Though, I do think the addition of the props are a little weird (who really enjoys a couch in the open field?), the overall setting is really nice. The camera captures a really nice shot of both nature and the guys. Though, there really is not much else to talk about the Butterfly video, it fits in well with the sound and the overall expected “gracefulness” when we hear the title of the song. Ribbon is a much darker video. The darker atmosphere matched the sombered feel of the song, but the video does remind me (quite strongly) of 12:30 as well. I don’t know what is going on the video But it seems the guys each had good memories about the surroundings they are in (for example the teddy bear in the locker). However they are bounded to these surroundings (by ribbons) and are reminded constantly by the heartbreak (Kikwang’s expressions when he sees both the teddy bear and the extending hand). They try to break away, some successful and some I guess were not. And once again, those awkward props are placed in the weirdest environments. Who honestly puts a photo booth on a skyscraper’s roof top and helipad?

Glad Butterfly doesn’t have a dance. I think Ribbon’s dance is quite nice. Them hip movements, though. Hahaha… Something needs to be done with their pants though. Way too baggy around the ankles. The dance does remind me a lot of 12:30. I did like 12:30’s dance, so I don’t know if it is a bad or good thing that it reminds me of 12:30.

Just a closing statement – Both were awesome, but I am a little troubled about how simlar Ribbon was with 12:30, espeically now how I have finished writing this review and I have mentioned it so many times.

Butterfly – 9.5/10

Ribbon – 8.5/10

[Rewind] April 2016 & May 2016

Yeah… I know May hasn’t ended yet, but to avoid posting another late ‘Rewind” post 3 weeks after the month finished, I have decided to April and May together. This one is going to be a little informal in terms of format for a few reasons that will appear apparent. And before we move on, just a little reminder that I will try to write and release reviews every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Okay, moving along:

Leaving the Group?

We became shocked with the disbandment (or what we dubbed at the disbandment) of Kara at the start of the year. However, it seems like certain groups are facing member line up changes after one of their members had decided to not resign with their company and have since departed ways with their respective groups. Former member of 2NE1, Minzy, and former member of Miss A, Jia, have both decided to leave their successful group and go onto their own paths.  Minzy will (hopefully) make her solo debut in the near future after confirmation came from her new company in which she signed. Jia was announced today that she would be leaving the band after her contract finished. Miss A and 2NE1 faced disbandment rumours from these two events, but both their companies have stated that is not the case. Not only girl groups are facing these changes, but A-Jax (if we all remember who they were) recently lost 3 members (Sungmin, Jaehyung and Jihu). But the list does not end there. Hyunseung departed from Beast, leaving the group with 5 members. It was kind of expected after the numerous articles and petitions asking for his removal. Hyunseung is expected to return as a solo artist in the near future and is still signed with Cube Entertainment. It is always disappointing to hear these news and it has obviously shocked the industry a lot. These members have been with their band since the beginning, so it is always hard for fans. Hopefully, there won’t be any more of this and I wish the former members luck in their future endeavours (because that is something we all should do and not call them selfish).

Descendant of the Sun

Now this is something we all have heard about. The drama has taken Asia by storm and has been proven to be highly successsful. It stars Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Ko, as the main characters. Before you all die from shock, I have yet to watch this drama. So, no spoilers. But I don’t actually have any plans to watch the drama. Because I am not one to enjoy romance and all this lovey dovey sh*t. I just don’t watch the genre (or any mainstream and popular dramas). I prefer the cringeworthy daily dramas. Now, why am I talking about this drama? Well, the OSTs for this drama has literally taken over the charts each time they were released. Not complaining here, but the songs were really good. Like, I really enjoy listening to them and this is probably the first time I have been impressed with the OST for a drama. Anyway, the OST contains songs from Davichi, Gummy, K.Will, Yoon Mi Rae, Chen, Punch, Mad Clown, Kim Na Young, Xiah, MC The Max, Lyn and SG Wannabe. In OST terms, this is pretty much the star studded red carpet. Each song released topped the charts instantaneously and I can see these artists winning the Best OST awards at the award ceremonies already. That is all I am reporting on… Hahaha…

Comebacks and Debuts

For the past two months, many artists have made their comeback and they include ): Block B, Seventeen, History, April, Twice, AOA, Akdong Musician, VIXX, Lovelyz, Up10Tion and so many more.

For debuts, NCT is the big debut for April.  I.O.I is probably the major debut for May. However, we have seen new soloists emerge in KPOP in the past two months. Notably, Jung Eunji from APINK, Woohyun from Infinite and Tiffany from SNSD had their respective solo debuts in the last two months.

Top 5 songs of April

As per normal, these are my top 5 songs of April:

  1. Pretty U – Seventeen
  2. Journey to Atlantis – Laboum
  3. Dynamite – VIXX
  4. Queen – History
  5. Toy – Block B

Top 5 songs of May

May hasn’t ended yet, but it is about to. I will add other May songs to the June list (when I get around to it).

0. Pretty U – Seventeen (I have to. I have been trialling charts and Seventeen has been popping up every single week as the top song for the week).
1. Good Luck – AOA
2. Save Me – BTS
3. Nodding Nodding – Woohyun (Infinite)
4. I Just Wanna Dance – Tiffany (SNSD)
5. Fire – BTS

This one was a long one and I tried to keep it short. I am really behind in reviews and will get them out slowly. It will take me some time to catch up. Bad news is that I have exams coming up and I am going to be slower. I will review every major release eventually, so give me some time. Enjoy the rest of May and see you tomorrow!!!

 

Rewind: February 2016

Welcome back to another monthly rewind. February is officially gone and it went super fast (despite it having an extra day, as this is a leap year). Before we all know it, March is gone and April passed us like the wind. Let’s get started shall we?

Major News

I think there are two major news that we need to cover. One that talks good about one band, and the other isn’t that good. But bad publicity is good publicity right?

GFriend made their comeback at the end of January 2016, but managed to sweep the charts with their newest mini album and title track, Rough. And when I mean “sweep the charts”, the girls stayed at the top  of the digital for over hundreds of hours, a proportion of those hundreds of hours were actually perfect all kills (which are apparently extremely hard to get, but the girls did it somehow). This led them to win their first music show trophy since debut and they managed to do pretty well. And when I mean pretty well: Triple Crown on Show Champion, MCountDown and Inkigayo, 4 trophies on Music Bank and 2 on SBS The Show. That is a lot. Their hard work has finally paid off, with the help of their fanclub and fans.

In other news, Beast is in the limelight for the wrong reasons. Hyunseung was caught falling asleep during an interview, which disappointed fans and garnered a lot of criticisms. Falling asleep in an interview seems a little too much my opinion, but it just shows how tired they artists are with multiple schedules in one day, concerts, comebacks, practice, interviews, the lot. Junhyung also saw some criticism when he failed to attend a fanmeet due to sickness, but somehow managed to attend his friend’s (Jung Joon Young) birthday party. While it was cleared up with Junhyung, Cube Entertainment and Jung Joon Young each making a statement saying how he came for only a few moments, just to drop off a present. Honestly, some people need to give these guys a break. Sometimes, you need to take a sickie (or sick day) just to go somewhere or to relax and take it slowly. So why are these people so annoyed with that, when they probably do it too, when everything becomes too overwhelming?

Major Comebacks

Number of groups made their comeback this month. 4Minute, Winner, Mamamoo, B.A.P, Taemin (SHINee), NU’EST, Rainbow (even though some are speculating this will be their final release) and many other smaller, rookie bands.

Major Debuts

Astro is the first group that comes to mind with their debut this month. Actually, it is probably the only group that debuted in February that I have reviewed thus far. Their title track is Hide & Seek.

AOA has been around since 2012, but they recently debuted a brand new subunit called AOA Cream. Odd name for a subunit though. Chanmi, Hyejeong and Yuna make up this group. They made their debut with I’m Jelly Baby.

Polls

I am skipping polls this month as I am a little busy. I will be able to write about one of the polls that I have made in next month’s review.

Top 5 Songs of The Month

  1. You’re The Best – Mamamoo (reviewing coming soon)
  2. Feel So Good – B.A.P
  3. Whoo – Rainbow
  4. Hate – 4Minute
  5. Galaxy – Ladies Code

Just a small note: I have started university again, so the rate at which reviews come out will decrease dramatically. And I have to go in everyday, so it is going to be hard to make some time.

Recap of Golden Disk Awards 2016 + Thoughts

Probably one of the biggest award ceremonies for music and also probably one of the most prestigious, the 30th Golden Disk Awards (GDA) was held on the 20th to the 21st of January 2016. The GDA was supposed to be held in China but was moved back to South Korea due to the recent earthquakes that occurred there just 1 or two weeks before the scheduled event. Even though many people were shocked and feared the award ceremony would be either postponed or cancelled, the ceremony went off without a single hiccup and was broadcast live in both Korea and China.

What I like about this particular awards is that is focuses on both the physical albums and downloaded songs of the year. In other words, more awards for everyone. It is also nice to see who excelled in what (hahahaha…). The digital awards were handed out on the 20th of January, while the physical album awards were handed out on the 21st of January. The award show on the first night was hosted by Jun Hyun Moo, Kim Jong Kook and Seohyun (SNSD). The second night was hosted by Jun Hyun Moo, Leeteuk (Super Junior) and Krystal (F(x)) I have recapped the award winners on the two nights below.

Disk Daesang (Album Of The Year) – EXODUS (EXO)
Digital Daesang (Song Of The Year) – Loser (Big Bang)
Disk Bonsang (Best Artist) – APINK, VIXX, F(x), BTS, CNBLUE, Jonghyun (SHINee), EXO, Beast, Super Junior
Digital Bonsang (Best Artist) – Red Velvet, EXID, AOA, Zion.T, Park Jin Young, Sistar, Taeyeon (SNSD), Kyuhyun (Super Junior), Big Bang, Girl’s Generation
Best New Artist – GFriend, iKON, Seventeen, Twice
Popularity Award – SHINee
Best Rap / Hip Hop – SanE
Best Rock – Hyukoh
Global Popularity Award – EXO
Best Group Vocal Award – BTOB
Best Solo Vocal Award – Jung Yonghwa (CN Blue)
Best Male Artist Award – Big Bang
Best Female Artist Award – Taeyeon (SNSD)
Next Generation Star Award – Monsta X

Once again, this wide spread of award winners seem to be more representative of main stream KPOP. Not that I am complaining. Most of the award recipients were similar to the Seoul Music Award 2016, however a lot more artists won in this ceremony, since their was more rewards. Not that I am being a hater or anything, but Kyuhyun’s bonsang award seems a little far fetched. From memory (correct me if I am wrong though), his song never charted high on the charts and likewise Super Junior barely makes an impact on the digital side of the music industry. So I am a little suspicious of how he managed to get an award for a digital bonsang. Saying that, he did sell a lot. Like a lot on the physical side. But beside that, I think it was a nice range of artists who won and I think it is accurate (as in which artists managed to shine the brightest in 2015).

I really need to think of ways to start off the different sections, but once again… I think out of the all the ceremonies that have already been broadcast (NOTE: I am typing this prior to the Gaon Chart Awards), GDA has the best performances. Why? Because many of the artists performed multiple songs and I really enjoy how some artists (or their producers) integrate different songs together. GFriend, Red Velvet, EXID, Seventeen and BTS had the best stages on the nights. Some artists performed some songs that were released in the past (in previous years, such as EXID’s Up & Down, VIXX’s Error, Sistar’s Touch My Body etc.), which I kind of liked, but, the songs were released last year… so maybe a little outdated. But overall, the performances, I think, were to a very high standard and pleased me (*points at myself* and *acting as the biggest critic of all time*).

Below are just the few performances that I found and slapped together in a playlist format in no particular order.

For a last minute change to the ceremony, it managed to do pretty well in my books. Awards, performances. Everything was just great. There is one more to go of this season’s award ceremonies, which will be coming out in the coming days. Until then, bye!!

 

End Of Year Chart 2015 + Happy New Year!

Welcome to the end of the year! Each year, I do this “End Of The Year Chart” where I properly rank songs via a personalised ranking system, which shows which songs I liked the most (and which songs I did not like at all – but I won’t name and shame). How do I rank the songs? Simply taking the score that I gave them in the review published earlier in the year, adding it to new review scores for the music, video and performance. Then I add those to other scores from “Songs of the Month” in my Rewind posts and to ensure that I can properly order them, I turn to my iTunes play count. And when I say “add”, there is a mixture of mathematical operations (and I am going to stop here, before I can bore you). In no way is this chart influenced by my choice of best song in the BOBs. But I do highlight them here :).

1 Ah Yeah EXID
2 Paradise Lost Gain (Brown Eyed Girls)
3 If You Do  GOT7
4 Closer Oh My Girl
5 You G.Soul
6 Love Me Right EXO
7 I Need U BTS
8 Sing For You EXO
9 Shake It Sistar
10 4 Walls F(x)
11 Dumb Dumb Red Velvet
12 I Taeyeon (SNSD) ft. Verbal Jint
13 Like OOH AHH Twice
14 Oh Um Ah Yeah Mamamoo
15 Mansae Seventeen
16 Just Right GOT7
17 Crazy 4Minute
18 Insensible Lee Hong Ki (FT Island)
19 Run BTS
20 Yey Beast
21 Between Night n Music B.I.G
22 Shake That Brass Amber (f(x)) ft. Taeyeon (SNSD)
23 Hot Pink EXID
24 Beautiful Liar VIXX LR (VIXX)
25 Brand New World Brown Eyed Girls
26 Ring My Bell Girls Day
27 Hurt Locker Nine Muses
28 Growing Pains Donghae & Eunhyuk
29 Run Away Royal Pirates
30 Black Swan Rainbow
31 Congratulations DAY6
32 Catch Me If You Can SNSD
33 Me Gustas Tu Gfriend
34 The Answer Kim Sung Gyu (Infinite)
35 Dope BTS
36 Pray FT Island
37 Cinderella CN Blue
38 You’re Pitiful Fiestar
39 Hopeless Love Jimin (15&)
40 Bad Infinite
41 Might Just Die History
42 We Like 2 Party Big Bang
43 Chained Up VIXX
44 Fire Mad Clown ft. Jamsil (Mad Child Soul)
45 Bell Bottoms PSY
46 Ice Cream Cake Red Velvet
47 Break Ya LU:KUS
48 Kontrol Kim Sung Gyu (Infinite)
49 I Feel You Wonder Girls
50 Wow Wow Wow Junjin (Shinhwa) ft. Eric (Shinhwa)

And here are some interesting facts about this year and the chart itself!

  • A total of 180 songs were ranked on this chart, but a total of 195 songs were reviewed this year (which I believe is a personal best).
  • The first song reviewed and included in the chart is BTOB’s The Winter Tale (released at the end of last year). The last song reviewed and included in the chart was EXO’s Sing For You
  • A total of 16 girl groups, 17 boy groups and 9 soloists are featured on the chart.
  • There is a better mix of boys and girl groups this year, compared to last year, where the first boy group did not feature on the charts until after 16th place.
  • BTS had the most songs on the chart (I Need U, Dope & Run). followed by: EXID (Ah Yeah & Hot Pink), GOT7 (If You Do, Just Right), EXO (Love Me Right, Sing For You), Kim Sung Gyu (The Answer, Kontrol) & Red Velvet (Dumb Dumb & Ice Cream Cake).
  • Rookies were actually a strong force this year with Oh My Girl, Seventeen and Twice ranking quite high up in the charts.
  • The following ranked after 50th place: IU, B.I.G, Crayon Pop, VIXX, Seventeen, Changmin, Big Bang, Brown Eyed Girls and CLC.
  • And finally, this year chart was actually reflected on the BOBs this year. I crowned EXID’s Ah Yeah as best song for both segments.

AND THAT IS IT!! 2015 will be ending shortly. 6 Hours To Go (for me at least)!!! Hope 2015 has been a great year for you all. I thank you all once again for another year of KPOPreviewed. Your support has been amazing. Every comment and like (heck even every view) makes me happy!! Nearly 5 years and still going strong!! Thank you 2015 and I wish you all a Happy New Year wherever and whenever it is time. Let’s make 2016 our year!!! (First review: 2nd of Jan).

2015 BOBs (Best Of the Best) – Part 1

2015 is at its end, and with days away from the new year, we must reflect on 2015. And per usual: excellent songs, videos and dances have gracefully entered our lives and probably have not yet left us. From comebacks from big name acts to debuts of new rookie bands, 2015 has been a splendid year in my opinion. This year I decided to do the BOBs differently. Usually, I post a list of nominees and categories, but I don’t get you guys to vote for them (nor do I have the capabilities and time to allow you guys to vote for them, but maybe in the future), so I thought I should change it up this year, but posting both nominees and winners in the same post. This is part 1 of the BOBs and part 2 will be released tomorrow with the rest of the categories. Also, the traditional End of Year Charts will be released on the 31st of December, at 11:55 pm, so please wait around for that. Let’s get the post on the road!!!

These awards do not reflect any review score that I gave out this year. My personal preferences will always change (i.e. an 8 review score can currently be a 10 OR a 10 review score can currently by an 8).

RED FONT – Winners, BLUE FONT – Honourable Mention

RISING STAR

Each year, artists see a rise in popularity. May that be due to great songs or great publicity (after all: any publicity is good publicity), this year was no difference.  Each of these artists, I have personally seen, some sort of boost in popularity this year. And I get to choose two winners (one male and one female) for this certain category. For this year, I have nominated:

risingstar

My pick is: EXID and BTOB. Both teams saw a rise in popularity due to one particular member, and slowly each member in each group is become well known in the industry. Keep up the good work, EXID and BTOB!!!

BEST INSTRUMENTAL

A song is not a song without an instrumental. And in KPOP, the instrumental plays a massive part in hooking us in and getting us addicted to the music. Especially for foreign and international fans who don’t understand the Korean language 100%. So many great instrumentals this year, here are the nominees:

bestinstrumental

Out of all the nominees, there can be only one winner: Wonder Girls – I Feel You. The girls returned to the stage with a brand new band concept, which totally wowed me. This instrumental has its own retro vibe and I personally enjoyed it a lot. From the drums to the keyboard and guitars, the girls totally deserve this. By far one of the most underrated songs, that definitely deserve an award! Honourable Mentions: F(x) – 4Walls

BEST JAPANESE SONG

I also do some Japanese songs on this site. Hahaha… Yeah, I review some Japanese songs from time to time. The variety of singers that I listen to for Japanese songs is usually limited to only the Japanese songs released by Korean artists. This year, the category has been dominated by Korean artists and I hope next year, I can start to review more Japanese artists! Here are the nominees:

bestjapsong

I think, I was most addicted to Beast – Can’t Wait To Love You. And that was my pick for Best Japanese Song. It was song that I felt did not fall into the typical Korean Pop or Japanese Pop genres and was pretty unique on its own. As for honourable mentions: BTS – For You.

BEST COMEBACK

Big name comebacks this occurred and they all managed to rock our socks off. Hahaha… I take into account: song, concept, promotions, looks, impact and a few more categories and suprisngly, the biggest artists that emerge from the Golden Age of KPOP were nominated:

bestcomebackOut of all the comebacks nominated, the one that fitted the criteria the most would have been Big Bang. 2015 was one big year for the band, and they had such an unique concept in terms of promotion. SNSD takes away honourable mention for this category.

BEST SUBUNIT

Unfortunately, 2015 did not continue the 2014 trend of subunits. However, some new subunits formed from popular bands and some old favourite returned. Here is who I think should be nominated as best subunit:

bestsubunit

This one was a little close for me. But I am going to say Donghae and Eunhyuk, which is a subunit belonging to Super Junior. Their song was by far an amazing and left a more long lasting impact on me than the others. The other subunit that gets honourable mention is VIXX LR, which is a duo made up of Leo and Ravi.

BEST RAPPER

2015 saw a new wave of contestant based TV shows around rapping and hence many artists have seen a boost in popularity after appearing on these shows. Other rappers also remained on stage as part of their groups and amazed the audience continuously during each comeback. Here are the nominees:

bestrapper

Out of all the rappers on the light, I picked Mad Clown as a winner. His song was a hit, it was a great song (now) and while he is not part of some group, he still managed to be placed ahead of everyone this year. Zico (Block B) took out Honourable Mention for his active year. Interestingly enough, both selected artists had someone featuring in their song.

BEST VOCALIST

When there are rappers, there are also singers. 2015 also saw new programs (and our old favourites) made specifically for the vocalists of all groups. Some vocalists we know have always amazed us, but others have just emerged and became trends for 2015. Based purely on what they sound like, here are the nominees:

bestvocalist

I think this category has the most obvious winner, Taeyeon (SNSD). Yeah, she was quite active as an artist, but her debut for I blew everyone away. As for honourable mention, it goes to Solji (EXID). Her performance of Maria still replays in my head. Her powerful vocals in EXID’s performance are also quite amazing.

BEST MALE SOLOIST

While the above category looked like at vocal performance, the Best Male Soloist looks at their vocal performance, song, impact and dance (if applicable) – i.e. their comeback or debut as a collective. To be nominated, the artists must have been active as a solo artist this year (while the above also included group vocalists). The nominees are:

bestmalesoloist

There is only one artist on this list that managed to wow me the very moment I listened to the song and that artist is Kim Sung Gyu (Infinite). His whole album did wonders and is an album that I am continuously going back to. As for honourable mentions, Lee Hong Ki (FT Island) wins that. His solo debut song was well received and I reviewed it as an amazing ballad.

BEST FEMALE SOLOIST

While the above category(Best Vocalist) looked like at vocal performance, the Best Female Soloist looks at their vocal performance, song, impact and dance (if applicable) – i.e. their comeback or debut as a collective. To be nominated, the artists must have been active as a solo artist this year (while the above also included group vocalists). The nominees are:

bestfemalesoloist

Once again, I am going to give it to Taeyeon (SNSD). Vocally, stunning. It was memorable and lovely to listen to. Honourable Mention was a close call, but Amber (F(x)) stole it from Gain (Brown Eyed Girls). So catchy and bright.

And that is it for Part 1 of the BOBs. Check back tomorrow, where I will post the second part of the BOBs, with Best Song, Best Male and Female Rookie; and Best Male and Female groups (plus a few more categories).

*All images and gifs belong to their owners/creators. Only those tables are mine.

 

 

 

[DOUBLE REVIEW] Gotta Go To Work + YeY – Beast

Finally, what I intended the double reviews for. For when artists come out with a pre-release and then their title track. Honestly, I felt like Beast should have reviewed sooner, but it won’t be fair for other bands to wait it out as well. Beats has comeback with their fifth mini album. Gotta Go To Work was their pre-release single, while YeY is their title track for this promotional run. Their album is titled as “Ordinary” but this album and their songs are nothing “ordinary”. Prepare for lame puns.

Knowing me, I liked YeY more than Gotta Go To Work. While their last few pre-releases were more of the ballad type, Gotta Go To Work can be described as a song that we would not have expected from the band. There is a lot of aegyo feelings in this song compared to any other song that they have released. And it is pretty interesting. No, it is not a crap song. It is actually pretty nice to listen to once in a while. And I am glad they did not choose this as their title track, because it would be a song that I would get tired with quite quickly. I think that while it is good to listen to from time to time, consecutively listening to this song on the loop would drain it of all the effects it should have. I love how Junhyung carries the first half of the chorus though. It changes things up a bit. I like their vocals in the song.

YeY is a much better song in my opinion. Mainly because I have replaying the song since it has come out and really enjoy the dance and party theme it was going for. The song starts off slow, and starts to build up to the first chorus. It basically hypes you up until the beat drops when we get to the chorus. Junhyung is singing quite a bit in these songs. Interesting. I really enjoy the chemistry between their voices in this song. Junhyung’s rap at the beginning was pretty bad ass though. There is one complaint I have in terms of the vocals. Kikwang seems to have a pretty deep voice this time around and I am quite sure I have never heard a song with Kikwang singing like in this sing. Not saying it is bad, but I feel like it really did not fit well with the song. The instrumental and chorus is really addictive as well. “Yey Yey Yey!!!”

The music videos are quite nice. Gotta Go To Work has a very colourful and cutesy video. I honestly like where they were going with the video and how the girl does not want Doojoon to go to work, mainly because she would miss him so much. And he would tempt her anyway he can to just go to work. Wait, doesn’t that mean he wants to leave her? OMG…. Hahaha… I know, don’t worry. But damn girl, she is just too clingy. I enjoyed Doojoon’s acting in the video though, Suited the music video very well. Yey also had a great music video. Though, my number one complaint is regarding the stylist who did Junhyung’s and Hyunseung’s hair. Please. NO. I cringed so hard, I felt like I cringed on behalf of Australia when I saw them dread locks. The rest of the music video (sorry have to gloss over this part) went pretty smoothly. Party animals I have to say. I love the warehouse dance set that they had. It looked pretty cool.

There should not have been a dance for Gotta Go To Work. It just looked weird on stage. YeY had a much better dance to it and that I expected from them. Their dancing matches the song quite well for YeY.

Overall, this was probably a solid comeback. Always expected Beast to make a great comeback and they managed to deliver pretty well despite all the competition.

Gotta Go To Work – 5/10

YeY – 9/10

Ma First – Jang Hyunseung (Beast)

It has been so long. Apologies guys, I had this massive group project that I had to complete and we only started this week. Hahaha… Life of a university student. Any how, I have a few days that I should be cramming for exams (which I have yet to start) but I think I can make some time for you guys. Catch up time for the reviews. I was thinking of doing a few double reviews (Big Bang is still under my watch) but also a few “Catch Up Reviews” like from last year. Some of which are themed like “Solo artists” or “Boy groups”. Oh wait, this is about Beast. Jang Hyunseung is the third member to have a solo music career, the first being Yoseob and second was Junhyung. Beside that, Dongwoon is set to make his own solo debut in Japan and Doojoon has been a popular actor. Kikwang is a well known variety star. Hyunseung is also one half of the ever so popular duo Trouble Maker. Hyunseung said he wanted to show a new side of him to the fans without the Beast and Trouble Maker name following his.

It is an okay song. I liked the instrumental and it has a pretty cool beat to it. I just have not been impress with Hyunseung’s vocals on a whole for most of my time that I have followed Beast. His voclas are good, but it just lacks feelings and emotions for most of the time, which puts me off his vocals. For some reason, I have the idea of the song having a “dirty” beat to it. I don’t think that is what it is called though, but the chorus left that kind of impression for me. Beside that, I did not like find anything else to say about the song. I feel like he is trying a little too hard with the song. It does suit him, but with the extra high notes and all that jazz, it really makes the song feel quite distant from what I am used to from the singer. Of course I expected a dance song, but not a dance song with powerful vocals and high notes that I would expect from a ballad or a softer song. I know it is very vague and I just have a hard time explaining it. Sorry…

As for the music video, this is my first time watching it. I know, I am very delayed but uni got the better of me. Firstly, I like the set. It does look fake but it did a good job of replicating an underground club and an alley way. Second of all, that girl was all teasing Hyunseung. And yet he tried so hard (though he did get to her in the end). I expected a little more clubbing scene and none of that Hyunseung being a pervert scene. The song had that club feel to it, and that was touched on for a while in the video. I just expected majority of the video in a club set. Beside that, it was an okay video. Very American influenced but it did the job quite well.

As for the dance, all I can give is praises. This comeback seems to be more dance centred for me and I enjoy it for that aspect. Jang Hyunseung lives up to his name as the dancer of Beast after all. Though some bits I was very impressed with, others kind of looking like he was having uncontrollable spasms.

Overall, it was an okay comeback. Not that great overall to be honest, but it managed to do its job, I guess. 5/10

 

Rewind: January 2015

Through this new segment (Finally got to use that one word), we will be looking back at the month that opened the year of 2015. I get to rank my top 10 songs. But we also get to look back at other events that happened in the Korean music industry. This way, I can talk about big events in the KPOP industry and rely my thoughts to you all.

Disbandment

Jewelry Members Get Together One Last Time for Final Photo Shoot

Sadly, January saw many bands (more than usual, that is) announce their disbandment from the industry. This technically means that they are no longer a group (for whatever reason) and would no longer promote together. The list is extreme and includes: Jewelry, Wonder Boyz, GLAM and Airplane. Wonder Boyz and Airplane are probably considered as “rookies” still. Though they have popular songs, both bands announced their disbandment in January. GLAM, a 4 member girl group under Big Hit Entertainment, who clearly had so much potential, was revealed through their agency to have disbanded. Member Dahee has been sentenced to jail recently for her involvement in the Lee Byung Hun blackmail case. Some speculate that this was the reason why the band broke up. Finally, the longest running KPOP girl group has called it quits after 14 years on stage. The girls, including past members had a photo shoot as their last schedule as a band.  Jewelry was well known for their hit, One More Time.

 

 

EXO-L’s in the wrong spotlight

EXO-L (EXO‘s fanclub) was accused of swearing at Girl’s Day Sojin at the Gaon Chart Awards for dating rumours with EXO member D.O. On top of that, EXO L was further accused for using other concerts and events as ways to check their ticket buying accounts were still working. Naturally, Korean neitzens “had a go” at the fanclub for their mean and rude gestures in both instances. EXO-L’s hit back by claiming not all of them were involved. Though I agree with the EXO L’s who are saying that not all of them did it, those fans who were involved are doing a pretty good job at ruining the fanclub’s and the band’s image.

Suing war continues…

For once, I have to agree with SM. Kris and Luhan who both asked for their contracts to be nullified last year, have been used by SM for illegally working in China with lawsuits in Korea. I personally don’t have a problem with them working. But I do have a problem with how quick they launched the lawsuit and how quick they started working in China. If your claiming to be overworked, I understand why you would ask for your contract to be nullified. Just why would you go to another country almost straight away and work there?

 

 

EXID’s jump in fame

exid1stwin

 

EXID has been enjoying their newly found fame after a fancam of Hani dancing to the song went viral. This launched the girls to the top of the charts and becoming on the most successful bands for the year so far. Up and Down have still seen no end, as it still remains steady on the charts. Though, it is funny how they reached their new fame, I just want to congratulate the girls on their wins. Up and Down was amazing, and I hope EXID’s next song is equally as popular.

 

 

 

Award Ceremonies Everywhere…

January is the month for award ceremonies. The first was the Golden Disk Awards, in Beijing, which was planned so horribly that members of GOT7, BTS and the whole of Beast could not perform on stage due to the “wrong visa being given out”. Seoul Music Awards and Gaon Music Awards followed after in Korea. When we combine the three awards ceremonies, they gave out theawards to the right people. Mamamoo got their rookie of the award year at the Gaon Music Awards, while other bands such as Girl’s Day, APINK, Beast, AOA, VIXX and etc. got the awards they deserved at the other award ceremonies.

 

Top 10 songs of the month

1. Up and Down – EXID (released in August 2014)

2. You – G.Soul

3. Break Ya – LU:KUS

4. Fire – Mad Clown ft. Jamsil (Mad Soul Child)

5. Drama – Nine Muses

6. Apologize – Eddy Kim

7. Why – 4Ten

8. Coming Soon – N.Ca

9. Pretty – Infinite H

10. Child In Time – Sunny Hill

End Of Year Charts 2014

Welcome to the end of the 2014 charts. This chart has every single song that was released from the 1st of January 2014 to the 1st of December. I left the nitty gritty stuff out (aka. the numbers I used for the ranking) and made sure that everything was fair. So that means for songs that were released towards the end of the year would have received some extra increment to make sure that they were levelled out with the songs released in January. Other numbers used included whether songs were on the YouTube Playlist of The Month and each song was re-reviewed in categories of “song, music video and dance”. Below are just some interesting facts that you may enjoy in regards to this chart.

  • The very first song released to be included on the charts are Rain’s 30 Sexy and La Song. The last song released before the cut off date was Infinite F’s Heartbeat.
  • T-Ara’s Sugar Free (2) was the only song throughout the whole chart to score the maximum of 40 for the song re-review.
  • VIXX is the first boy group to appear in the charts at 14th place with Eternity.
  • As touched on above, this year the charts are dominated by the girl groups, with 13 boy groups versus 37 girl groups (repeated groups not excluded).
  • Heavily promoted songs tend to rank higher than songs that were released as a single and not promoted.
  • The following artists achieved the next few positions after 50th place: SPEED, Crayon Pop, Z:EA, Zhou Mi (Super Junior), BTOB, Infinite, UKISS, AOA and Gain (Brown Eyed Girls)
1 Something Girl’s Day
2 Sugar Free T-Ara
3 Up & Down EXID
4 Monday Blues Sunny Hill
5 Piano Man Mamamoo
6 Darling Girl’s Day
7 I’m In Love Secret
8 Mr. Chu A Pink
9 Yasisi NS Yoon G
10 Red Light F(x)
11 One More Fiestar
12 Good Night Kiss Hyosung (Secret)
13 Ain’t Nobody HA:TFELT (Yenny – Wonder Girls)
14 Eternity VIXX
15 You Don’t Love Me Spica
16 So Wonderful Ladies Code
17 This Is Love Super Junior
18 Luv APINK
19 Like A Cat AOA
20 B.B.B (Big Baby Baby) Dal Shabet
21 Good Luck Beast
22 Cha Cha Rainbow BLAXX
23 Full Moon Sunmi ft. Lena
24 Error VIXX
25 Catallena Orange Caramel
26 My Copy Cat Orange Caramel
27 Don’t Look At Me Like That Song Ji Eun (Secret)
28 Back Infinite
29 8Dayz Megan Lee
30 What About You? Laboum
31 Dont Touch Me Ailee
32 I Swear Sistar
33 Singing Got Better Ailee
34 1004 (Angel) B.A.P
35 Danger BTS
36 12:30 Beast
37 Mr. Ambigious Mamamoo
38 Lonely B1A4
39 Beep Beep BTOB
40 Mamma Mia Kara
41 I Need You Bestie
42 Solo Day B1A4
43 Whatcha Doing Today? 4Minute
44 Pretty Age 25 Song Ji Eun (Secret)
45 1 Minute 1 Second Jiyeon (T-Ara)
46 Peppermint Chocolate Mamamoo ft. K.Will & Wheesung
47 FxxK U Gain (Brown Eyed Girls)
48 Touch My Body Sistar
49 Evanesce Super Junior
50 Not Spring, Love, or Cherry Blossoms HIGH4 ft. IU

THAT’S IT!!! 2014 IS OVER AND 2015 IS APPROACHING. WISHING YOU ALL (IN YOUR RESPECTIVE TIME ZONES) A HAPPY NEW YEAR. I only have 6 hours to go and I am excited. Party hard (but not too hard) and I will see you next year!! aka. in the next few days ^^