[Album Review] Maria (1st Mini Album) – Hwasa (Mamamoo)

For today’s album review, I have decided to have a deeper listen to Hwasa’s solo comeback and first mini-album. Released two weeks ago, both the album and title track share the same name, Maria. The album also features Hwasa’s previous chart topping solo debut, Twit, and also the track for Hwasa’s most recent music video release, LMM. Just to summarise my thoughts on this album, more attention needs to be directed towards it. It contains three 10/10 songs, which isn’t something I do often. I may give out 10/10’s regularly to side tracks. But I don’t give that much out in one album! Which songs do I deem to be ‘perfect’? Well, you got to read on to find out!

Maria Album Cover

1. Nobody Else (Intro Track) – This short introductory track is quite loaded. Not only do we get her vocals in all its husky and raspy glory, Nobody Else’s instrumental transitions quite often. And when I say transition for this song, I mean that the song builds up. It starts off with natural sounds, as if we were in a rainforest or close by to a river as you can hear water trickling. To pair with the natural sounds, we have these eerie horn-like synths. It then cuts to Hwasa whispering ‘Nobody else’, before we are directed to some piano and Hwasa’s vocals. Within in a few seconds, we have percussion making an entrance and it gets heavier as it goes on. The introductory track, before easing out, goes head on with an intense dance instrumentation. It was one roller coaster ride, but it was well crafted to be cohesive track. (10/10)

2. Maria (마리아) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Maria. (8/10)

3. Kidding – Produced by Zico, Kidding has this playful charm to it which helped make it interesting and different. It starts off with Hwasa singing alongside some acoustic guitars, followed by an applause, which gives off the impression that the performance was live. During this segment, she is singing about the how her partner loves her. It then cuts to a really groovy beat. Based on this transition, we could tell that the theme of the lyrics changed to Hwasa’s thoughts on her partner cheating on her. As the song progresses, we get some underlying jazzy influences which helps transform the song into fantastic number. I really love Hwasa’s delivery of her lines. There are some vocal works and harmonies in the background. But it is her rapping that steals my attention. I can feel her expressionless face bringing this song to life, with chaos ensuing in the background. I really like the ‘Are You Kidding Me’ reptition for the chorus, which was simple but effective in this song. (10/10)

4. Why Why feels like a Western pop track. It begins with a suspenseful pop beat. Nothing special, if I were to be honest. Aside being a backdrop to Hwasa signature vocals. The chorus brings a rough, robust and crunchy instrumental sequence. It was a logical progression, in my point of view, and it allows for some choreography to be brought onto the stage if the song is ever performed on stage. The song repeats the suspenseful but plain verse, followed by the rough and crunchy chorus. While it was interesting texture wise, I wanted it to have something else as it got to the end to avoid becoming repetitive as it did. It is still a good song, nonetheless, just missing that element to be better. (8.5/10)

5. I’m Bad Too (ft. DPR Live)I’m Bad Too is a short song. This is just an observation as I felt the length of the song was suitable. It didn’t play around with repetition to extend the length of the track and drain the appeal of the existing song. The instrumental seems to be lighthearted and playful, whilst the lyrics was all about Hwasa being angry (in a suitable tone) about a former partner. DPR Live features in the song and seems to act like a brotherly figure based on his lyrics. And I liked it. It adds a different dimension to the song and adds to that lighthearted atmosphere while also making sense lyrics-wise. It isn’t a standout song in my opinion, but the creativity of the lyrics earns the song a tick. (8/10)

6. LMM – There was a music video release for LMM during this past week and I have decided to keep it for the ‘Missed Review’ music video posts that I will be publishing in the future. It is coming, I swear! As for LMM, it is a breathtaking song that allows Hwasa’s vocals to shine. It is a ballad that sounds best if you put everything down and just zone into it. The instrumental and melodies are all very breezy, making it nice for a night drive or a reflective walk where you just want to be by yourself. What makes this an even more powerful song is that you don’t need to understand Korean. You can connect with her vocals, in one way or another. It is so impactful that the song also earns the third 10/10 on this album. (10/10)

7. Twit (멍청이)Click here to read the full review for Twit. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Maria Teaser Image

[Review] Maria – Hwasa (Mamamoo)

It is one busy Monday with a total of four releases that I intend to review as soon as possible (may need to split over a few days to get them done). First up is Hwasa’s solo comeback. Hwasa made her official solo debut at the start of the year with the hit, Twit. That, however, was only a single and actually features on her first mini-album, which shares the same name as her new title track, Maria. She is also the third member of Mamamoo to release a solo single this year, following Moonbyul and Solar, with Eclipse and Spit It Out (respectively).

If we were to judge the song based on its title, we would be expecting Maria to go full steam ahead with the Latin influence, the trend that KPOP in Summer probably will never escape. Mamamoo too also contributed to this trend with the release of Egotistic in 2018. But don’t be too quick to judge, as the Latin influence is very small. In fact, it localised just to the dance break, which gives off energy in a very fashionable sense for this song. Its presence doesn’t necessarily fit in the rest of the song, but it is definitely needed. The rest of Maria seems like a blank canvas, in terms of its instrumental. Sure, it is an upbeat and, at times, intense track. But apart from a minimal amount of synths, the instrumental is quite plain. It isn’t plain in a dull way though, as the vocals give the song some much-needed action and Hwasa’s vocals help fill in those gaps. I really like her nasally delivery during the verses and her raspy whisper that kicks off the chorus. I also a fan of her vocalisation in the latter half of the chorus, which is where the song gets a little intense and sensual. Together, it forms a decent song that plays towards Hwasa’s strength as a performer and vocalist. Maybe a more captivating instrumental would have been more appealing and made this into a winning track.

The music video reflects the lyrics well. We see Hwasa being hurt by others at the very start of the music video with all the photographers taking photos of her body at a crime scene and all those people providing a lighter for the cigarette she is holding. In the hospital, she is surrounded by all these pencils pointed towards her, as well. But what the music video also shows is that she gets up and stands up for herself. We see that during the hospital scene once again, where she escaped the pointy pencils and walks down the hall as if she never had that encounter. The start where she is serving a heart seems to be her bouncing back as it looked like she just killed the person who hurt her and serving it to other people who are going to hurt her. That is just my take on the video though, so there can be many other views out there. For the other elements in of the video, the sets and the camera work during her solo shots were nice. Some of her closeups in the choregrahpy shots were a little ‘in your face’ for me, as I wanted to see more of the choreography.

The one thing I really like about Hwasa is that she doesn’t hold back. If the performance is going to be sensual, then she will make it happen. We have seen that through her solo stages at award shows. While I am sure this performance will get some flack in Korea, it looks pretty good. There is a fair amount of hip grinding action in the chorus which seems very bold and I liked how the final chorus had a different routine to feature both genders of dancers and end the song with a more powerful vibe.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10

[Review] Q – ONEWE ft. Hwasa (Mamamoo)

Since ONEWE’s last comeback with Regulus in August 2019, we have not heard too much from the band. The only thing I do remember coming from the band since their last comeback was their cover of MAMAMOO’s Hip, which they performed a number of time on the live stage. Today, the band returns with their 3rd single, Q. It features their Hwasa from MAMAMOO, their senior label-mate. I just dug up some information that Q is a pre-release single for their upcoming album, which will be released some time in the future. So keep your eyes peeled for ONEWE’s impending comeback.

As a band, ONEWE is quite rare in the KPOP industry. So to hear some R&B with actual instrumentation in Q is probably the rarest of rare treats, especially with the current synths and dance music environment. At first glance, the song does fall on the dry side. But with the many listens that I need to write a review, I am slowly warming up to the song. Overall, the song felt very restrained, which is where my initial ‘dry’ reaction to the song came from. But as I listened on, I felt the restrained feel of the song was definitely a charm, rather than a flaw. The use of actual instrumentation really makes the song feel warm, a feeling that would not possibly be achieved if it was artificial. The instrumental itself enables the singers to use a lower tone. This means that they showed off a huskier and raspier tone in their voices, which compliments very neatly with Hwasa’s widely known husky voice. That high note in the background was a memorable part, as well. There is a really neat melody and ‘ga’ hook in the chorus, which I find to be catching on. The song gets very interesting at the bridge, with the vocals going with a slightly different melody and the guitar solo brings a bossa nova feel to the song.

The video seems to reflect well with the lyrics. Based on the lyrics, it seems like the guys are in love with partner (who is played by Hwasa) and vice versa. But it is not a good relationship. The guys question why their lover acts differently every time they meet up, while Hwasa’s lyrics basically shows us that she is fed up. In the video, we see Hwasa putting make up on, making an effort with a very pained and depressed facial expression. We then see the members experience some ‘pain’ as she puts make up on. After Hwasa finishes, she throws things around the room in anger. Both of these represents how bad their relationship has gotten, but they don’t know how they got to that point.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Artist-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 particpated 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 artist-based categories, which will involve the New Artist categories, Elemental-focused (i.e. rap, vocals etc.) categories and Best Artist categories. 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 New Male Soloist

Nominees: Baekhyun (EXO), Chen (EXO), Ha Sung Woon, HUTA (Lee Min Hyuk – BTOB), Kang Daniel, Kim Jae Hwan.

WINNER – Baekhyun (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Kang Daniel
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – HUTA (Lee Minhyuk – BTOB)


Best New Female Soloist

Nominees: Hwasa (Mamamoo), Jeon Somi, Kim Ji Yeon (Kei – Lovelyz), Oh Ha Young (APINK), Sulli

WINNER – Hwasa (Mamamoo)
Honourable Mention – Sulli
KPOPREVIEWED – Hwasa (Mamamoo)


Best New Male Group

Nominees: AB6IX, CIX, ONEUS, TXT, X1

WINNER – TXT
Honourable Mentions – ONEUS
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – AB6IX


Best New Female Group

Nominees: BVNDIT, Cherry Bullet, EVERGLOW, ITZY, PURPLEBECK

WINNER – ITZY
Honourable Mention – EVERGLOW
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – EVERGLOW


Best Band

Nominees: DAY6, FT Island, IZ, N.Flying, ONEWE

WINNER – DAY6
Honourable Mention – N.Flying
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – DAY6


Best Vocals

Nominees: AKMU, Brown Eyed Girls, Chen (EXO), IU, Mamamoo

WINNER – IU
Honourable Mention – Chen (EXO)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – IU


Best Raps

Nominees: J-Hope (BTS); Jackson (GOT7); Mark (NCT); Ravi (VIXX); Zico

WINNER – Mark (NCT)
Honourable Mention – Zico
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Zico


Best Subunit

Nominees: Block B Bastarz; EXO-SC, Jus2, NCT 127, NCT Dream

WINNER – NCT Dream
Honourable Mention – NCT 127
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – NCT Dream


Artist With Most Weekly KPOP Chart Wins

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Seventeen (5x)


Rising Star

Nominees: ATEEZ, CLC, N.Flying, UP10TION, VICTON

WINNER – ATEEZ
Honourable Mention – CLC
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – CLC


Most Underrated Artist of 2019

Nominees: A.C.E, Dream Catcher, LOONA, ONF, Pentagon

WINNER – Dream Catcher
Honourable Mention – Pentagon
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – LOONA


Best Male Soloist

Nominees: Kim Dong Han, Leo (VIXX), Nam Woohyun (Infinite), Taemin (SHINee), Yesung (Super Junior), Zico

WINNER – Taemin (SHINee)
Honourable Mention – Zico
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Nam Woohyun


Best Female Soloist

Nominees: Ailee, Kim Chungha, IU, Park Bom, Sumni, Taeyeon (SNSD)

WINNER – IU
Honourable Mention – Kim Chungha
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Kim Chungha


Best Male Group

Nominees: ASTRO, ATEEZ, BTS, DAY6, EXO, GOT7, iKON, MONSTA X, NCT, NU’EST, Pentagon, Seventeen, SF9, Stray Kids, The Boyz, WINNER

WINNER – EXO
Honourable Mention – BTS, ATEEZ
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Stray Kids


Best Female Group

Nominees: (G)I-DLE, BLACKPINK, CLC, Dream Catcher, EXID, GFriend, IZ*ONE, LOONA, Lovelyz, Mamamoo, Momoland, Oh My Girl, Red Velvet, TWICE, Weki Meki, WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

WINNER – TWICE
Honourable Mention – Red Velvet, Mamamoo
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Oh My Girl


And that brings us to the end of the Artist-Based Categories for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t seen the Song-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%). You can find out by clicking here (hyperlink will be updated once the post is published).

[Review] Twit – Hwasa (Mamamoo)

In the past year,  we have seen the Mamamoo members through multiple comebacks including Starry Night, Egotistic and Wind Flower. On top of that, we saw the members through solo songs on the albums released throughout the year and through solo works. Moonbyul made her solo debut with Selfish, which Wheein also made her solo debut with Easy. It is time we turn our attention to the maknae of the group, Hwasa, who recently gained attention for her sexy outfit on the MAMA stage. She made her solo debut today with Twit.

Listening to the song, I felt like the song was more suited for the Summer seasons. It is bright and upbeat, something you don’t get too much in these colder months (though Korea is fast approaching the end of the cold season). But that being said, it is a strong song suiting Hwasa’s image from the very second it started playing. The song shows how a person is calling themselves (and others) a dummy and twit for not being able to care for their respective lover. The instrumental is made up heavy beat and dramatic flair, offset by a light panflute that is played over and over again at consistent intervals. I find this to be very intriguing. Alongside the song, we get Hwasa’s raspy vocals that really adds another sound and texture to the song. I particularly like how she kicks her vocals up a notch via the bridge, which is where we get the vocal climax to the song. Overall, Twit is a nice song that showcases the strengths of Hwasa.

The music video opens up with the male actor trying to get the attention of Hwasa. While this does annoy her throughout the video, the guy ends up leaving her at the end of the video, making Hwasa the ‘twit’ of the video for disregarding her lover. Another take on the video (see the comment section for a more detailed explanation) is that Hwasa calls the male actor a twit for being too focused on her (the scenes throughout the video showcases Hwasa as the centrepiece (i.e.e she is the queen, all the guys are staring at her and she is uniquely confident). This causes the guy to become upset and leave Hwasa at the end, despite her best efforts of her showing him that she still cares for him. Throughout the video, we see shots of Hwasa being confidently sexy, which could be an indirect response to her recent controversy regarding her outfits at the MAMAs. Wheein also pops up in the video, where both Wheein and Hwasa are rubbing shoulders with each other. It is a very bold video, which I think suits Hwasa and the song very well.

We don’t see much of the choreography in the video. But from what I can see, Hwasa is going to be bringing sexy to the stage with this performance. On top of that, an element of fun may be present. We won’t know for sure until a live performance is available so I will be back when that occurs.
[Updated] She definitely brought her sexy game to the stage with this comeback. Though, I wasn’t as impressed with the choreography that was chosen for this comeback. It didn’t feel as enticing as I had hoped for, Her moves felt fitting with the song but I couldn’t help but describe the performance as mediocre.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 6/10 [Updated]
Overall Rating – 7.8/10 [Updated]