It is time that I bring back the Past Album Reviews (PARs), where I dive into the albums that have been released in past. In order to be reviewed, the album cannot be released in the current year. So in this case, any album released in 2019 or before may land itself on the review. They will be published weekly (as like last year) and will follow the same format as the usual album reviews. The restarting album to this segment Infinite’s Destiny, which is the group’s second single album. It was released back in 2013 after the release of New Challenge in the same year, which I previously reviewed last year.
Apologies that I could not find the official audio for the b-sides on this album on YouTube. I have linked to the YouTube lyrics videos that I could find instead.
1. Destiny (Title Track) – My previous review for Destiny consisted of a combined rating score, which I do not use in my album reviews. Upon reconsideration I have changed the rating to 9/10 song-wise from the 7.5 combination rating I had given originally. Click here to read the full review for Destiny.(9/10)
2. Inception– My new headphones are really getting a workout with the recent bass heavy songs that I have been reviewing. And Inception joins that list, opening with multiple deep drumbeats that really gets me intrigued in the song after all these years. Joining the deep beats that is brought in and out of the song, the song has this ongoing squeaky synth that really gets into your head (well, it did for me after all this time). There is also this classy vibe to the song which I thought really helped make this song feel polish and at another level. The vocal work was really good, with the chorus featuring harmonies from the members to give that powerful feel in a subtle way. There is also a catchy melody attached to the song, which helps it becomes a strong b-side that follows in the footstep of Destiny. (9/10)
3. Going To You (너에게 간다) – Going To You is pop ballad, leaning more to the pop side. I am always amazed when it comes to Infinite’s ballad. Back then and even now. Going To You has this very wholesome and passionate feel to it, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The instrumental is a balanced mixture of band and classical instrumentation, which gives the song that lean to the pop side of the spectrum. The melody was light and simple. All the members participate as vocalists in this song and they all sound really good. I love how they stripped all the music at the end, giving Woohyun an opportunity to end the song with his effortless vocals. I could go on about this song but I will give two big thumbs up for this song, with hopes that summarises the rest of my thoughts. (9/10)
4. Mother (엄마) – Mother is more of your typical ballad. Slow and the instrumental is more classical-centered. Mother is a special song, dedicated to all mothers. The members sing Mother with their own mothers, wanting to saying to ‘Thank You’ and ‘I Love You’ to them. They touched on being immature at a young age and now that they have grown up, they understand what their mothers had gone through while raising them. There is a very warm feel to their voices and you can hear the emotions behind their voices, which is a sign of a good ballad. I liked how swaying the melody was, another sign of a good ballad in my books. (9/10)
It is time for another past album review (PARs). Last two weeks, I have been focusing on groups who have disbanded. And while I could continue that, I want to also focus on the groups that are still active (or supposedly active). Infinite is one of these groups who are in a weird limbo. Some members are actively promoting, while others are in the military. More recently, L moved on from Woolim Entertainment (the company managing Infinite), placing a question mark on top of the group’s future, despite L confirming that he is still part of the group. Nonetheless, Infinite still many albums to look at and that is what we will be doing today. The group’s fourth mini-album, New Challenge, was released in 2013 with Man In Love.
2. Man In Love (남자가 사랑할때) (Title Track) – Rereading my past review, I am very confused about what I meant myself. So, to keep it short, Man In Love has grown immensely on me. Not immediately after the initial review, but a few months (maybe years) after the release. It still is a change-up no one saw coming, given their past darker releases that came before and after Man In Love. Vocally, I think the song is fine (now) and the rapping is still a highlight for me. I thought the retro sound was appealing and the upbeat nature was a welcome change after all. These comments are drastically different from what I had originally, but if you want to see what I wrote previously (ignore the hypocrisy), click here to read the original review. (9/10)
3. As Good As It Gets (이보다 좋을 순 없다) – As Good As It Gets is a decent track. It isn’t amazing. But it isn’t terrible. It is like the Goldilocks of the tracks on the album, which I think is rather fitting given the title of the song. It follows the title track in a sense that it is wholesome and lively. At the same time, however, the song doesn’t push itself to be better. It stays very consistent throughout. And in this case, it doesn’t work well with the track. The instrumental takes a rock pop approach, which I was good. It felt very typical, especially in comparison to other songs on the album. But it was a good canvas for the vocals. The singing together for the chorus was a good technique, as it added more colour to the song. The members alone sounded quite nice. The rapping was quite good as well, but it didn’t feel necessary. There are two sides to this track, which is why I label as decent. (7/10)
4. Still I Miss You (그리움이 닿는 곳에) – One thing that I am not exactly sure if you know about me. But I always love Infinite ballad, regardless of the lyrics. Their voices are very versatile and hence can fit multiple genres. And it is always nice to hear them attempt something so strong through their title tracks and then successfully nail their more fragile ballads perfectly. Unfortunately, Still I Miss You is one of those outliers that just doesn’t meet that benchmark. It is a nice ballad, but it doesn’t capture the best of the group. It felt very typical and the melody didn’t feel special. While some members shined, others didn’t really do as well in the song, which I think is another letdown. The instrumental was a lot more lively than the ballads that I listen to often from Infinite, which I guess was required to fit into the album. (7/10)
5. Beautiful – The vocals and instrumental start from the very first second, expressing how their partner leaves them in awe with their beauty. Given their previous tracks, this one follows the title track in being of the unexpected nature. But I guess some brightness doesn’t hurt from time to time. Harmonies are given to us at the start of the chorus and I thought the song zoned into the vocals quite well. Instrumentally, I thought it was a little standard. It felt more like a b-side track than anything else, honestly speaking. So, it wasn’t necessary memorable back then or now. But still, another decent track. (7/10)
6. 60 Seconds (60초) (Infinite Version) – 60 Seconds was previously the title track from Kim Sung Kyu’s first solo album. A song that I do come back to every so often because it is so damn good. So, to hear that the group would be releasing a version themselves was a pretty big deal back then. And it was a version that I enjoyed. The harmonies and the vocals of the individual members were shown off. Hoya and Dongwoo also introduced a rap sequence into the song to give it some additional depth of appeal. The instrumental remained the same between the two versions, keeping it consistently good throughout. (9/10)
7. Inconvenient Truth (불편한 진실) – Opening this track up is a female’s laughter and a very vibrant set of horns. It brings forward a very retro sound, which is Infinite’s forte for this album. The song shows the members in an unimpressed state because of their lover, with the laughter at the start present to tease the members. Despite, the song is very lively and energetic. I thought the chorus was nice, with all the members singing together. It did feel a little childish at times, from my perspective, which is something I am a little disappointed in. I also wanted more to the song, given how it was very consistent throughout. The fading out ending didn’t really wrap things up in a manner that I would have liked it. All of this felt made it feel like there should have been one more song coming right after, so it leaves a gap at the end of the album. (6.5/10)
Today’s album review will be focusing on Nam Woohyun’s latest solo mini-album, A New Journey, which also features the title track Hold On Me. In the past, Nam Woohyun’s releases have revolved around the ballad genre. But with a fitting title such as A New Journey, it is implied that a new direction is taken. And with the intro track and title track suggesting a more upbeat route, it is definitely ‘A New Journey‘ for the Infinite member in terms of solo releases. So let’s follow Woohyun and see what songs are included on the album.
3. Rain – The song is a mixture of different sounds. However, I don’t think it is an overwhelming mix. I just think it could have been tied together more nicely. The few changes it did feature were very obvious in nature and it created a messy atmosphere as a result. I think the track was going towards a dynamic vibe and a more cohesive approach (if it is possible) would have really benefited the main appeal of the track. It starts off with an acoustic-like electric guitar introduction and slowly builds to a Latin-inspired chorus with both electric and acoustic guitars at the forefront. The song remains in this mode up until a brief pause at the end and it changes completely. So different that I thought a new song had started. The first listen was overwhelming but that feeling died down after multiple listens, as suggested above. I thought the vocals were well presented in this track, with that being another highlight. (7.5/10)
4. Stranger – While this track does sound a little typical, the rush of energy that we get from the chorus makes it sound so good. Personally, I think this song ticks all the boxes on my checklist for an amazing song. Great vocals, great energy, great beat. Everything was great! It just felt like it was missing one element. I did lowkey expected a rap sequence during the instrumental break. And I think that could have made the song a little more interesting. The instrumental break did feel like a small void and it would have helped if it was filled up in some way. (9/10)
5. Crying Baby – While I did mention that the album took an upbeat approach (and this song is no exception from that), Crying Baby’s verses made it feel very ballad-like. But that doesn’t hold for long, as the song takes a turn (though I don’t remember exactly if this turn was expected or unexpected for me). I am glad that the majority of the singing for this song was during the verses, making way for an empty-ish chorus to be filled with loud dubstep effects. I find this a well contrasting mix due to its differences in softness and loudness; delicate and rough; ballad and electronics etc. If any major singing parts were to occur during the chorus, no doubt that Woohyun voice would have been drowned out. (8/10)
6. Just Look At Me (넌 나만 바라봐) – The first thing that really pops out at me in this track is Woohyun’s airy and lower toned vocals. It is a lot different than his vocal approach in any other song on the album, so it is different intriguing. I like the instrumental for this track, as well. The synths are a little loud, which at times did feel like it was drowning out vocals. They did attempt to combat this by incorporating some loud backing vocals (that he does a good job harmonizing with), which expelled a very dominant retro vibe to the song. This was successful to varying degrees along the track. But overall, I thought it was a nice track. (8/10)
7. Flower – Flower is probably the most ‘expected’ track off this album to fit into Woohyun’s existing portfolio. It isn’t strictly a ballad, however. But I find the song to be consistent with a softer nature and more traditional instrumentation that you expected for a ballad. It is also the one song on the album that provides relief from the loaded energy that we have coming from the album. And this relief is much appreciated. Flower ends up being a typical café style and almost-jazzy number, which I enjoy time to time. Because of the energy I mentioned just a moment ago, this is a good example of when I enjoy this type of song. A part of me says this is a lacklustre song to end with, due to its standard nature. But at the same time, it is definitely pleasant. (7/10)
One of the groups that I want to continue to see in the future is Infinite. Their releases in the past have also been outstanding and with the military enlistment period upon the members, I want something Infinite related in this Infinite-drought. Woohyun is probably my favourite member and it isn’t just because he is the one to break the Infinite-drought. Woohyun returned today with Hold On Me, his third solo title track.
While Woohyun is my favourite member of the group, his previously ballads quickly wore off after their respective releases and reviews. You can’t really help that if all you release are ballads. However, Hold On Me departs from this ballad train and jumps onboard a more upbeat and energetic train. Kicking off the track are some guitars that really perk your interest, particularly if you were expecting a ballad track. We were treated to some of Woohyun’s vocals but I did not expect such an early featuring of Junoflo right after. I liked the raspy texture he gave the song and the way they managed to blend together was very interesting. I think the best bit of the song has to the pre-chorus and chorus combination. The buildup was nice and the chorus had a rush of energy/colour (thanks to the vibrancy of the guitar), making the track quite memorable for me. Woohyun’s vocals were really nice, with the bridge of the song probably showcasing his vocals the best in the entire song. Overall, Hold On Me serves as a great drought-breaker and provides a fresh take of Woohyun!
The music video shows Woohyun remembering a past lover. Woohyun looked like he never moved on from his breakup, as the static on the television reminded him of his girlfriend and his place doesn’t look like he ever stopped drinking since that heartbreaking night. Towards the end, he does find her. But she seems to be a memory within his mind and the static effect is shown alongside her, representing the fact that she is now just a memory (and not a partner). I thought it was an interesting video. I did like the choreography set (I don’t think it was a real cityscape, which was rather disappointing). I think it would have been better with an actual cityscape, like his solo shots.
The choreography looks good. It isn’t as intense as other Infinite releases in the past but it is getting there. I think Woohyun focuses more on this vocals for these performances, which I think is the more appropriate thing for Woohyun, as his vocals his main weapon (though his dancing is as well).
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 7.5/10 Overall Rating – 8.4/10
It is time to look at a solo debut from Monday (I think this is the last of the releases from Monday. Apologies for the lateness of this review). This time around it is Dongwoo from Infinite, the group’s resident rapper. The idol released two music videos for News (the official title track) and Party Girl, and hence I will be reviewing both of songs today in this post. Both songs are featured on his first mini-album titled Bye. In other related news, Infinite recently returned with a special digital single, Clock.
Starting off with News, it is a slow electronic dance track that feels like it loaded with emotions. In fact, the song talks about the emotions you get during a breakup, so it is definitely successful in conveying those emotions. It also seems like the song does a good job of pushing Dongwoo’s vocals. We actually hear more of his vocals than ever before and I sense potential. We do see some rapping and I thought there would be more of this element as this is what he is known for. Furthermore, I did like the dramatic flair to the song through the instrumental, especially the loud crashes which create some intensity in the chorus. However, when I listen to the full track, the is a sense of dryness to the song. It isn’t really that memorable and I don’t find myself wanting more, which is a little disappointing.
Party Girl is a completely different sound. The does start off with a similar feel to News. But as the song slowly starts to build up to its drop, you can tell is rather different. Firstly., the drop is more suited to what the title suggests, a party. The synthesizer used really gives the song that needed burst of energy and is quite ear-catching. which makes the song more memorable for me. And it is because of the chorus, I thoroughly enjoy the song more. The song, too, also showcases his vocals extremely well. The ad-libs at the end were pretty good. Interestingly, there is no rapping. Though I like the song how it is, I think some rapping would be worthwhile.
Fitting in with the serious emotional nature of News, the music video opts for a dark feel. The shade black is used extensively throughout the video. I also like how the cinematography was matching to the instrumental. More the most part, the camera shots are smooth and slow. But when the tiny effect in the instrumental appear, the shots transitions are a lot quicker and timed well. Overall, I thought it was a good video. Party Girl infuses a lot more colour into the video. But instead of being very colourful as a rainbow, the producer/director chose colours that felt more ‘electronic’ if you know what I mean. It is kind of hard to explain but I still like the infusion of colour. Like the cinematography in this video as well. During the chorus, the camera starts becoming shaky and more erratic, fitting in with the energy we got from the chorus.
I liked how smooth his movements were for the News performance. But what I like the most was when he was dancing with the female backup dancer. I thought that was the dynamic part of the entire performance. I didn’t like her inclusion at the start and preferred her during the second verse. However, when it comes to the entire performance, I prefer Party Girl. That is because I prefer things to be energetic and I liked the moves they pulled off during Party Girl. I felt it was dynamic all the way.
News Song – 710 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 7/10 Overall Rating – 7.3/10
Party Girl Song – 8.5/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8.3/10
I previously mentioned in previous reviews that some male groups have reached the point in their careers where they need to enlist into the military. One of these other groups is Infinite. After last year’s comeback with Tell Me, leader Kim Sung Gyu enlisted in May. And it is expected that other Infinite members would follow this year. But before that, Infinite announced their return with a special single, Clock, which was previously performed at their fan meets at the end of the year. Unfortunately, Clock will not be promoted due to busy solo schedules but it still nice to get a new song from Infinite after a year’s absence.
Clock is a mid-tempo ballad that brings the best out of the remaining Infinite members. I am super excited for this track as I have always been a fan for Infinite’s ballads and this one does not deviate from that memory. The instrumental falls under the category of a soft rock track from what I can hear and it is a very good one. There is some slight reshuffling in this track to fit the missing presence of Kim Sung Gyu and former member Hoya. Myungsoo (or L) and Woohyun takes the reigns as the main vocalists, while Sungjong, Sungyeol and Dongwoo do all the rapping throughout the track. All handle their parts exceptionally well. I am particularly surprised by the rapping done by Sungjong, as I don’t think he has ever rapped before. I also enjoyed the harmonies that they all bring together. I don’t have much else to say regarding the song but wish to reiterate my first statement – it truly brings out the best of each member.
The music video shows the members either awaiting a phone call or waiting to make a phone call (I believe there may be a mixture of each). It doesn’t really show much else besides that. The song is about waiting to be reunited, so I guess the waiting around for a phone call (or waiting for the right moment to call) serves as a mechanism for a reunion in this video. It is a touching song and put together with this video and alongside their foreseeable future, it is even more touching. I am not totally into the hazy filter, however.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8.6/10
As the album contains 14 tracks, this album review has become quite lengthy.
This week’s ‘past album’ review (I really need a new name for this particular series) is Infinite’s 2014 releases Last Romeo (which featured the title track Last Romeo) and Be Back (which featured the title track Back). I chose Infinite for today as they tend to have a number of cool non-title track hidden in the midst of their album releases, alongside that amazing title track they return with each time. This album is not an exception, with my attention immediately drawn to Last Romeo when it was first released. The album also contains releases from subunits and solo members, some of which hadn’t even had their respective debut at the time.
4. Diamond – What I tend to like about Infinite’s title tracks is the fact that they tend to collaborate with an orchestra for a special performance, resulting in a beautiful performance in one form or another. Diamond takes on that orchestral instrumental and while it isn’t a title track, it deserves recognition as it is one of Infinite’s best b-side tracks ever! It places Infinite’s vocals into the spotlight in a jaw-dropping manner that captures your attention. Dongwoo was especially surprising, with his high note. I really like the piano in the instrumental and the dramatic sounds during the bridge. (10/10)
5. Follow Me – Follow Me combines a violin instrumental with some rock elements and what I suspect to be the a few seconds of a standard pre-loaded ringtone (i.e. the first 3 seconds of the song). Together, we result in a nice song that reminds me of Infinite in the older days. The vocals are good, with some harmonies present in the chorus. I think the first rap sequence was unnecessary but the one in the bridge (with the echo effect) was cool. To me, the song doesn’t feel spectacular, but it is still good. (7/10)
6. Rocinante (로시난테) – Within seconds of the song starting, I was pretty much sold on the song. There were upbeat vibes, brightness and energy just coming off the son. Perfect for a song about motivation. I really like the synth-based instrumental for this pop track, especially with that electronic effect during the bridge, which gives it some detail. The vocal in this song was ideal, perfectly stable and fitting for the song. I liked the rapping, but I thought it could have been more powerful and intense for the song. (8.5/10)
7. Breathe (숨 좀 쉬자) – Interesting theory is that this is song is about the saesang fans. Those who don’t know, saesang fans are those who become obsessive and stalks their ‘idols’. To the point where things can become life-threatening to the idol. I personally do not consider them as fans as they are dangerous to themselves and the people around them. Putting the topic aside, the instrumental is quite edgy. There seems to be a little bit of funk mixed into the song. The combination becomes quite addictive and the simple melody from the vocals aid in that. (8/10)
8. Light (Sunggyu Solo) – Kicking off a series of solo and unit works is Kim Sung Gyu, whom at the time of the release of the album, already started his solo career. It is a change up from his usual style, going for an acoustic approach. The instrumental doesn’t shine as much, leaving his vocals to do all the heavy lifting for the song. The way he vocalises throughout the song keeps it interesting. Not entire his best release but still decent. (7/10)
9. Alone (Infinite H) – Infinite H took a more melodic and flowy approach to their unit song on the album. I personally found the song to be disappointing as it lacks in colour and remains too consistent throughout, leaving us hearing the same tune repeatedly. It goes for a hip-hop R&B sound with rap-singing, but the track fails to inspire or really lift off. I don’t hate it but it is the track that I just want to skip over since it is so boring. (5/10)
10. Memories – Memories, to me, feels like that Summery ballad-y track that you often get as a b-side track on the album for an album released during the Summer period. It showcases Infinite’s vocals in a light and refreshing manner. The instrumental could essentially be described in a similar fashion. I particularly liked the harmonies in the song. That extra intensity provided by the raps was nice, My favourite part would have to the pre-chorus ‘Ddu Ddu” part. (9/10)
11. A Person Like Me (나란 사람) – Based on the first few seconds of the song, you can tell that this song is going to be a emotional ride. And essentially, it is a ballad backed by another orchestral instrumental that does just that. Personally, I felt like the vocals were just slapped onto the track. They didn’t feel like it fitted 100% neatly. Sunggyu and Woohyun stood out the most but everyone did an awesome job. The harmonies with each other when they paired up, along with the backing vocals were really nice. (8.5/10)
12. Reflex – Based on the title of the song, Reflex sounds to be the coolest song on the album. Overall, the sound of the song reminded me of KPOP back in the day. To me, the song felt weak as I expected sharpness and something fast-paced. The instrumental seems to go in that direction with some of the smaller details in the instrumentation going for something more electronic but was held back for the vocals. Once again, I don’t mind the song, but it is in no way my favourite. (6/10)
13. Crazy (미치겠어) (Infinite F) –Infinite F, at the time of the release of the album, had yet to make their unit debut. They made that jump at the end of 2014 with Heartthrob. If you are a seasoned KPOP fan, this is what you would call rather ‘standard’. Nothing to special about the song in a nutshell. There were some effects (such as after the first chorus) but they felt mismatched for the song. The vocals for the song were okay. Compared to their unit release that occurred afterwards, I think the song failed to really push their limits. But that is just my opinion. (7/10)
14. Close My Eyes (눈을 감으면) (Woohyun Solo) – I think out of the solo and unit songs on the album, I am most impressed with Woohyun’s. It is an emotional sounding ballad that really allows Woohyun to standout. I really like the sudden mix of electric guitar right after the chorus, which gives the ballad some uniqueness (This is usually saved for the bridge). Woohyun didn’t make his solo debut until the year after, so the question that should be asked is why didn’t he get on sooner? (8/10)
15. I Need U Back (소나기) – Going back to the start of this review where I mentioned Infinite’s classic sound (dance track with the potential to incorporate orchestral instrumentation), this album may just prove that if the song has just that factor in it, it is would be enough to sell as an Infinite song. The song contains 70% electronic components and synths to really make it upbeat and fast-paced, giving the song some individuality. The lyrics don’t match this, however, going for another emotional fuelled message. It ends the album on a good note, though. (9/10)
Nam Woo Hyun is officially back with his first solo comeback since his solo debut (Still I Remember) back in May 2016. Since May 2016. Woohyun has been participating in a range of musicals and making comebacks with Infinite, with the most recent being at the start of the year (Tell Me). Woo Hyun’s latest title track, If You Are Only Fine, is featured on his second mini-album, Second Write….
If You Are Only Fine is a ballad, following his solo debut track. And it is a very serious and emotional ballad from the very start. There isn’t anything upbeat or lively about this ballad, confirming the fact we are approaching that time of the year when every ballad that is released comes from an emotional or moving perspective. I personally do not mind as it allows seems fitting for the season. The song doesn’t get to the exciting territory until we get to the second half of the first verse, as this is when the instrumental slowly picks up. It builds up to be a nice orchestral ballad piece but feels very typical. Woohyun’s vocals do also buildup, giving us some power vocals that have a heavy dose of sadness throughout it. I will have to be honest though. It is a good song to listen to but it doesn’t have that wow factor that gets me wanting more or returning for further listens.
The music video recounts the moment a couple meets for the first time and the events in between, up until when the couple sadly splits up. It does a terrific job of encapsulating the saddening elements of the song and present it to us within a 4-minute video. I would have liked to see some more acting when it came to the sad ending because it doesn’t feel enough. What we got was good but I wanted more to further illustrate the heartbreak. However, it was good to watch.
Song – 6.5/10 Music Video – 7/10 Overall Rating – 6.7/10
Kim Sung Kyu has been one of my favourite artists in the industry for a long time. That includes his works as part of Infinite and his solo career. 2018 marked the start of a new era for Sung Kyu with the release of his first full-length album, 10 Stories. As this review is quite lengthy, I am going to get straight into it.
1..What Did I Say? (뭐랬어) (ft. Punchnello) – The album opens up with your standard ballad. It unfortunately wasn’t memorable and was the most passable track on the album. His vocals did have an echo-like effect which gave some colour to his vocals. Punchnello’s raps were heavily autotuned but was felt fitting for the song. The instrumental didn’t really have anything spectacular, which contributed to its small impression. (6/10)
2. Stay (머물러줘) – This song reminds me of his past works. I really liked the electronic keyboard in the background, which gave the song a really nice texture. His vocals were at the forefront of the song and I really liked the chorus of the song. Talking about the chorus, it had a great opener and nice rhythm. The saxophone in the bridge was a nice touch and kept the song from becoming too repetitive. In a way, the track is quite relaxing and for that, I like it a lot. (8/10)
4. Attraction (끌림) – Despite the other instrumentations, the keyboard stood out quite a bit. The chorus was quite interesting. The defining points in this song aren’t his vocals but rather the instrumental breaks throughout the song. Definitely the song’s unique charm. The slight autotune here was nice and is something that I tend to associate with Kim Sung Kyu’s solo work. There was also a faint whisper in the background for the final chorus that added something a little extra to the song. (8.5/10)
5. Vanishing Days (지워지는 날들) – When you first hear Sung Kyu sing, you can feel the emotions that he pours into his vocals. These strong vocals are balanced well with the piano instrumental. The second verse adds violins, which you all know I am into. The vocal build-up alongside the instrumental make this song stand out even more. That extra-long pause at the end of the song did catch me off guard but it was such an epic moment because the song returned to how it started initially, just with a guitar instrumental instead. Very fitting for a sad movie. (10/10)
6. Tall Sunrise (ft. JW of Nell) – The song opens up with Sung Kyu autotuned too much for my liking. However, I did like the “Can You Stay” lines which felt so smooth despite the heavy-handed autotune. I really like the chorus which was upbeat in comparison to the verses, yet still managing to connect well with the verses. The other negative that I wanted to make about this track was the autotune made both Sung Kyu’s and JW’s vocals so similar, it was quite hard to distinguish the different parts. (6/10)
7. Sorry – Sorry combines various synths to create the fine details for this track’s instrumental. That, the consistent hollow thumping and the vocals (which were on point all throughout) made this one of my favourites. My only complaint would be the first chorus felt too short. While not a complaint, the bridge was quite interesting, using only real instruments as opposed to the rest of the track which was synth heavy. Foreign but interesting. (10/10)
8. City of Angels (천사의 도시)– City of Angels is another song that reminds me of his past tracks. The instrumental for this track was relaxing and calming, yet I can’t pinpoint what cause this effect on me. The vocals, once again, nice, with some lines being quite melodic (such as the opener), leaving a strong impression. (9/10)
9. Sentimental – When you listen to the song, you get a hint of happiness. The instrumental did a good job conveying this to us. Vocals were also good; however, it was relatively plain when you look at the entire track. On top of that, the song did get a little repetitive due to the consistency of the vocals and instrumental. There was an added effect at the end of the track but it felt too late as an attempt to change up the song. (7/10)
10. Mirror (거울)– The album ends with a ballad. While I tend to think ending albums with ballads tend to be a weak point, this has to be an exception. His vocals are quite unique in this particular track, like no other on this album. I particularly like the push his vocals gave during the chorus. The piano only instrumental was also quite nice. (9/10)
Kim Sung Kyu has finally made his solo return to the stage with his first studio length album, 10 Stories. The title track featured on this album is True Love. His comeback was a little unexpected, with Infinite just recently wrapping up their promotions for Tell Meat the end of January and his teaser pictures just coming out of nowhere. This is his first comeback since his last mini-album and double title track promotions of The Answer and Kontrol.
To me, True Love is the midpoint that I would imagine if Kim Sung Kyu and Ed Sheeran joined forces to make a song. While the song’s sound and instrumental seems to lean more heavily towards Kim Sung Kyu’s side, there were a few moments throughout the song that felt like the song could have gone down that Ed Sheeran route. I like how calming the song feels during the verses. The build-up just before the chorus was nice but my favourite bit has to be the launch into the chorus. It is where the song comes together and it is the strongest point of the song which reminds me fondly of Kim Sung Kyu’s previous works. There is a slight catchy hook to the chorus, which I can see myself singing to in a few days time. His vocals are great but they don’t really shine as much in this song. Overall, the expectation (for me) is that Kim Sung Kyu would have a really good song as his title track and True Love seems to live up to that expectation.
The music video was shot in Hong Kong, which seems to be the number 1 destination to go to, for shooting a music video. A number of artists in the past year alone have shot their music video in Hong Kong. And I can see why. Despite it being featured so much last year, the sites of Hong Kong always look breathtaking and fresh. In the video, it seems like Sung Kyu is looking for his lover, whom he has been trying to track down from a letter he got from her. The ending was a little confusing, how he reads the letter. It makes me question whether he was looking for his ‘True Love‘ or whether he was looking for closure. The walking around on the streets is aesthetically pleasing and sets it up to be a good video (especially with all the great sites around him).
Song – 8/10 Musc Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.4/10
Another very long album review for you all. Infinite returned last week with their third album and I intended to publish this at the end of last week. A few things popped up which prevented me from doing so. Regardless, the review is completed and published for your viewing pleasure. I won’t write anymore due to the length of this review.
1..Begin (Intro Track) – Starting off the album is your Infinite styled mash-up between an orchestral piece and something similar to their title track. While I don’t tend to review the intro track to most albums, I have to say I really like the clashing cymbals in this one.
3. Synchronise – I am on the fence in regards to this song. It seems like the instrumental (particularly during the chorus) drowned out the vocals and it also felt overwhelming, Despite that, the rolling drum beat was nice and the transition between verses to the chorus was pretty good. I like the extension of the instrumental at the end of the song. The only other thing I am disappointed in was the lack of a rap segment, which felt expected. (6/10)
4. No More – I felt that this song wasn’t that interesting. Despite that, it had some elements which made it a decent song. It features great harmonies from the members. In regards to the previous songs, it is definitely nice to hear a song that is tone down. The vocals were nice and so was the rap sequence. (5/10)
5. TGIF (Dongwoo Solo) – This is first of three solo songs that featured on the album. The song does a good job at presenting the vocal and rapping talents of Dongwoo. I thought the chorus was really well done. The buildup to the bridge was nice but the instrumental break was too awkwardly placed and broke the flow of the song. (8.5/10)
6. Pray (Maetal’s Sorrow) (기도 (메텔의 슬픔)) – Pray has a dramatic start to the song, which is something that drew me to it. The orchestral instrumental had an interesting tango twist to it. I really enjoyed the epic feel to it but I felt that the song could have used more powerhouse vocals to make it even better. (8/10)
7. Why Me (왜 날)– It is your typical ballad but I have to say that the vocals were on point throughout the song. In particular, Sunggyu stood out during his parts in the chorus. Once again, it is a great song to sway to, which makes it a good song in my book. (7/10)
8. Wind (분다) – Starting off the track are whistles along with some acoustic guitars, which draw your attention in. Once the upbeat chorus is unleashed, the acoustic guitar takes a turn and transition into electric guitars, which I thought was incredibly cool. The harmonies during the post-chorus were awesome. Sungjong shined the brightest, particularly in his part during the bridge. I particularly like this song a lot. (9/10)
9. I Hate – The rock-based song adds another genre to the album and they nailed it. And despite me liking the song, there isn’t much to comment on. The vocal work from each member is amazing here as well, but Dongwoo’s rough vocals fit the song so well. (9/10)
10. Reminisce (지난 날 ) (L Solo) – L has always had a great voice when I hear him in Infinite songs, so his solo work obviously put forwards his underrated vocals. And while it shows off his capable vocals, the song is rather plain for my taste. (6/10)
11. Love Song (고백) (Sungjong Solo) – Sungjong gets the honour of being the last member to have a solo song featured on the album. Love Song is like that Spring ballad that gets released each year. It has a very bright feel, accounted for by the instrumentals. And both vocals and instrumental complement each other really well. (6/10)
12. Begin Again – We began the album with Begin and now we must Begin (another chapter) Again. It is an upbeat song that has a really great chorus and the vocals (along with the harmonies during the chorus) just made so much better. (8/10)
Infinite has made their first return since 2016 with their latest mini-album, Top Seed. This particular album along with the title track, Tell Me, is the first to not feature Hoya, who did not re-sign with Woolim Entertainment last year during the contract renewal. Hence this is the first comeback for Infinite as a six-member boy group.
With the departure of a member, I wondered how the 6-member Infinite will differ from the 7-member Infinite. And the direction that Tell Me went in seemed to depart from that traditional Infinite sound. The traditional Infinite sound is much more jam-packed and intense. Tell Me seems to be a little more spaced out and doesn’t feel as intense, hence why I say it doesn’t conform to the past. It has a more pop-centred sound, which actually sounds nice. The song is quite catchy with the “luv, luv, luv’ post-chorus segment. The fast repetition of the ‘naega, naega’ during the chorus just rolls so effortlessly in the song, it has become the main highlight. I liked the instrumental which definitely gives off a different side of the group. All the members sound nice but I feel like their vocals are as strong as before. It might be the song style but I feel like a tighter set of vocals could have brought more of that intensity and Infinite-esque sound to the song. A similar comment could have been made regarding the rap. But overall, I am really digging this track.
Call me crazy but I am dubbing this as the ‘Infinite’ concept as basically what happens in the video just continues on and never ends. I think the storyline of the video is being stuck in that memory of a chance at love and having to relive that until you finally reunite. The video came out to be aesthetic with the various ways they displayed the concept, such as the never-ending blue triangle corners and the various upward camera angles for the choreography. Overall, it is pretty interesting and definitely eye-catching (in my point of view).
Despite the more spaced out song and less intense nature, we can’t talk about Infinite and not acknowledge the synchronisation between the members. They brought such knife-like moves back to the table, which I think is amazing. Not as impressive, I must admit, but still quite captivating to watch. Woohyun’s solo body roll in this performance is on point (big Woohyun fan here)!!!
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 7.5/10 Overall Rating – 7.9/10
With a rumoured comeback for January next year, I thought it would be nice to have a little trip back in time and look at Infinite’s last comeback. Infinite Only is the group’s 6th mini-album, released in September 2016. This was the last comeback to feature Hoya, who did not renew his contract with Woolim Entertainment earlier this year.
1..Eternity (Intro Track) – This track will not be included in the review. It features a really dramatic orchestral piece that is very Infinite-esque that eases you into the title track.
3. Air – Song starts off slow and eerie. But that lasts only for a few seconds before you are launched into an epic dubstep/EDM styled drop. It made the entire track become instantly intense. While the instrumental did remain dubstep/EDM based, the chorus sounded a lot like a traditional pop song. The bridge slowed the song down, but it made the song appear nicer. (10/10)
4. One Day – This track is a soft rock style ballad, which is quite pleasant to listen to. I liked how the instrumental was dynamic. Rather it is the minor details that make me think the instrumentation is dynamic. The vocal work is great but I felt the raps stood out, adding a more intense touch to the song. (9/10)
5. True Love – Out of all the tracks on the album, I felt like this one is the most out of place. It has a jazzy sound, which feels like it suits a more elegant tracklist. Not saying that EDM and rock are not elegant but it just doesn’t fit the overall feel of the album. I have to admit, however, the vocal work in this song is the best on the entire album. (7/10)
6. Thank You (고마워) – It is a fan-service song. A way to say ‘thank you’ to the fans. It is very nice on the ears and feels suitable for a warm Spring day or Autumn day. The harmonies during the chorus of the ballad and the lyrics made the song feel a lot more wholesome and warm. (8/10)
7. Zero – The album ends with another epic track. It grabs you from the very first second with its explosive synths and (yet again) EDM based instrumental. I thought the vocals would have drowned out in comparison to the rest of the song but they were nicely balanced. The high note at the end was spectacular. As the final song, it brings you to the edge of your seat and creates an intense finale. (10/10)
2016 saw a lot of new boy groups make their debut on the stage. Compiling the list of nominees for this section was extra hard because there were so many great debuts that just missed out on a spot on the list. The winner of the Best Male Rookie Group 2016 is Astro, who made continuous comebacks after their debut, pushing them into the spotlight. Honourable mentions are given to VRomance for their debut song, She.
VROMANCE (Honourable Mention)
BEST FEMALE ROOKIE GROUP
Like the male rookie group section above, a lot of girl groups made their debut in 2016. And a lot of them provided us with the hottest tracks of the year. WJSN, otherwise known as Cosmic Girls, made their debut with Mo Mo Mo and came back with one of the best tracks of the year: Secret. They are my pick for Best Female Rookie Group. Honourable Mentions goes to BlackPink and I.O.I (It was very hard to choose for this category).
WJSN (Cosmic Girls) (Winner)
I.O.I (Honourable Mention)
BLACKPINK (Honourable Mention)
BEST MALE SOLOIST
As every other year, solo artists are debuting and making comebacks. 2016 saw the long-awaited debuts of some main vocalists of different idol groups and the return of solo artists that we have known for a while. The winner has to be Zico (Block B) with his ballad track: I Am You, You are Me. This one track alone has been a chart topper and gave the rapper a new side. Honourable mention goes to Eric Nam and his surge in popularity this year with his releases.
Zico (Block B) (Winner)
Eric Nam (Honourable Mention)
BEST FEMALE SOLOIST
2016 was a very big year for female solo artists. Like the male solo artist awards, big names came back, while long-awaited debuts were made. My pick for the winner of Best Female Soloist goes to Taeyeon (SNSD). Her singles have been remarkable thus far. Honourable mentions goes to Hyosung (Secret), whose song is still being replayed, half a year after release.
Taeyeon (SNSD) (Winner)
Hyosung (Secret) (Honourable Mention)
BEST MALE GROUP
So many to consider. Can’t count with my fingers for this category and the next. But it has been a big year for male groups (and likewise female groups). Out of all the artists, I have to pick Seventeen as the group that stood out the most and hence are the winners here. As for honourable mentions, GOT7 takes it this year.
GOT7 (Honourable Mention)
BEST FEMALE GROUP
As mentioned above, girl groups have also had a very big year in KPOP. And there were too many to count as well. But my overall pick for Best Female Group has to be Mamamoo. 2016 has been their best year yet and I hope there are even better years to come. Oh My Girl receives honourable mentions for their releases of high quality and catchy songs.
Oh My Girl (Honourable Mention)
Now, I promised album reviews this year and my apologies, I failed to deliver. I asked you guys again (thanks to everyone who contributed to the survey) and album reviews are still something you guys want. I can’t review every one of them, but I will try my best to cover the main and biggest releases. As for 2016, Wings released by BTS as their 2nd Studio album is my pick for best album. I also thoroughly enjoyed the songs released by B.A.P as their third studio album, Carnival, which also takes Honourable Mention.
Wings (2nd Studio Album) – BTS (Winner)
Carnival (5th Mini Album) – B.A.P (Honourable Mention)
BEST MUSIC VIDEO
Many great videos were released this year. From amazing plots to great cinematography, or just the standard video that looks amazing, 2016 had it all. My picks for both the winner and honourable mention were videos that were long in length, but one focused on an action-packed story and the other for its complexity. The winner is B.A.P‘s Skydive and honourable mention goes to BTS‘s Blood Sweat & Tears.
Skydive – B.A.P (Winner)
Blood, Sweat & Tears – BTS (Honourable Mention)
And as with every year, KPOP groups and solo artists have amazing dances that should be commended. There were so many top contenders, that it was quite hard to compile the list of ten. But nonetheless, my pick for best dance would have to be GOT7‘s Hard Carry and honourable mention goes to The Eye by Infinite.
Hard Carry – GOT7 (Winner)
The Eye – Infinite (Honourable Mention)
BEST SONG OF THE YEAR
The hardest award to decide for. Hahaha… I put down 22 songs for this award. 22 amazing songs. And now I have to narrow the list to just 1. The difficulties. That being said, I won’t announce it words. Just watch the video below. But before that, let’s look at the honourable mentions that I manage to narrow down from that list of 22. Hover over the pictures to find out who and which song were picked. Note that these honourable mentions or the winners are not chosen via the end of year charts, but my thoughts alone.
Decalcomanie – Mamamoo
Hard Carry – GOT7
Find Me – Hyosung (Secret)
Secret – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)
Windy Day – Oh My Girl
And my pick of Best Song of 2016 goes to……
VERY NICE – SEVENTEEN
Congratulations to all winners, honourable mentions and nominees. Everyone in general!!
Infinite has finally returned to the stage for the first time in nearly a year. Since Bad (their last comeback), they have been quite busy. Promotions were carried out in Japan for their Japanese releases, concerts, solo promotions and digital singles released are just some of the things these guys have been doing since ‘Bad‘. “Okay, Okay”, let’s get moving!
This song is very interesting (in a very good way). I totally digged this song the first time I heard it. While I have had my history with songs that mash multiple genres of different extremes, Infinite has always put out songs that do just that but still manage to amaze me. This is a prime example of another one. The song starts off with a very intriguing eletronic sound. The rest of the song moves between pure classical sounds, pure electronic sounds and the mzture of both. In the end, the song becomes very dramatic in the way they set the sounds up and the combination. The start of the song is amazing and dramatic, especially when Dongwoo starts to sing and the violins are brought into play. The vocals in the song are amazing. Interestingly enough, a rap was not part of the song. It does feel a little empty and I am quite sure a rap sequence from Hoya, Dongwoo or the both of them would have been amazing in this song. The song does throw you back to their earlier days. Yes, the sound is quite different and the compositon is not similar to any of their previous songs, but the style from back then is kept as a whole. Overall, I think it is an excellent song. It’s different, but still has that Infinite sound and powerful style that we had assicoated with them.
The music video is quite interesting points. I think the prominate theory that the members of Infinite had died in the video and are trying to prevent L from going into the light and dying with them makes the most sense. That or they all discover L is a vampire. Yeah… I think the dead theory makes sense. Browsing through the comments on the video, I came across this page with puts everything into plot into perspective quite nicely. If you want to find out about what is going on in the video, that site explains it quite clearly. This video is probably one of the darkest videos by Infinite yet. In terms of the concept, plotline and cinematography it was quite suspenseful and interesting. The whole idea of the video would potentially be a Hollywood blockbuster. The acting by the members was superb and sets looked amazing. Overall, I thought it was a fantastic video that suprisingly stayed true to the Infinite’s roots.
Infinite is quite known for their dance (how many times have I started of the choregraphy part for Infinite with those words?) and they have proved that they still have it. Even though they mentioned that they felt their age with this comeback, everything looks refined and well polished. Everything falls into place quite nicely. Their precision is still on point. Oh and breathtaking. Their performances are always breathtaking.
Another solo debut that has been deemed as long awaited. Nam Woohyun, the main vocalist of Infinite, has officially made his solo debut with the new mini album,Write…
Song was disappointing at first, but it grew on me. Woohyun has a really nice voice, regardless of the song he sings. This ballad really brought out his voice really well. It was the first thing I noticed when I first listened to the song. The song just failed to appeal to me, at first. However, soon after, the song started to become catchier and I slowly got into it. Okay, so back to his vocals. It sounds so emotional. An excellent singer can convey his or her emotions through the vocals in the song. Woohyun did just that and I am amazed at the outcome. You can definitely hear the sadness in the song. The instrumental consisted of soft drum beats that were pretty consistent and gave the song that extra dimension, in terms of bass. The chorus, by far, was where he sounded the best. And those parts after the chorus where he sings “끄덕끄덕” sounds freaking amazing.
Another video which I have yet to watch. So more initial reactions. Woohyun returns to a house to find an old camera. And of course, the camera holds a lot of memories. I guess literally but also mentally as well. He slowly goes through old images, which gives us flashbacks, to when he was an intern/assistant for some camera man. He was distracted and loved a girl who was a customer to the camera man. Turns out that she also liked him and that Woohyun failed to see these feelings. So technically, the girl thought he wasn’t into her, so that is why she left. After he realises, he turns into a man full of tears and regret. Beautifully shot video. Loving the filter and colours in the video. Interesting thing is that we never actually see her face. It is always hidden and I don’t exactly why, but my guess that it could be so that people can relate to the video. I definitely can. Not that I have turned into a man of tears and regret yet, but I have a feeling I am getting there. I should really just man up. Hahaha… Moving back to the video, Woohyun’s acting (well, crying mainly) in this video is quite nice to watch. Not over the top and over dramatic.
Overall, the song was quite good and the video was excellent. A great solo debut for him. 9/10