2020 has proven to be an eventful year so, without a doubt. But since we are at the halfway mark already, let’s have a little reflection post on the last 6 months. In no particular order, here are 10 of my personal favourite KPOP releases since the start of 2020. I have also added some of my favourite sidetracks that I have encountered so far in the year as part of my top 10. This is also irrespective of my reviews and Weekly KPOP charts posts.
Apologies for the lack of posts yesterday. I decided to take the night off and chill for a bit. But I will be posting the album review I had planned for yesterday, so I don’t fall behind any further. The artist in question is ITZY, who made their Wannabe comeback on the 9th of March. That means this album review is over a month late. Sorry again. But as I have saying a lot lately, better late than never. This is also my first album review for this high-achieving female group and my first impressions says I am very impressed. How so? Continue reading below!
1. WANNABE (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review for WANNABE. (9/10)
2. Ting Ting Ting – IZTY continues the momentum that Wannabe had provided with Ting Ting Ting. And since the album’s release, I have been returning to this song (alongside Wannabe and a few others on this album) as it is so damn catchy and addictively energetic. The song features Oliver Heldens, who I am reading is a famous techno artist. I suppose he is the male voice that features during the chanting ‘La La La’ parts of the song, which was cool. I did notice a certain dull factor, when I compared this chanting section to the rest of the song. It was very minute but apparent to me. There is a bit of electronic influences in the instrumental, especially during the outro. But I am not sure if it is Oliver Heldens’ influence. The rest of the track seems to take on board a hip-hop type of profile, which I really enjoyed. (9.5/10)
3. That’s A No No – That’s A No No features an anthem-based sound, which helps drive the song to have an epic vibe. I like how the group doesn’t like they are messing around with the song. There is a very serious tone to it, despite it also being very catchy and addictive. I also thought hip-hop influences were very strong. The chorus has to be my favourite part, especially with Yeji and Lia’s lines in the chorus. With that being said, I give huge ticks to the vocal department in this song. The rapping was actually a miss for me, as I felt the trap influences in that section were too typical for my liking. But apart from that, fantastic song. (9/10)
4. Nobody Like You – Nobody Like You reminds me of the rock songs you would get from all those Disney shows in the past (back when Disney was in its prime). In addition to that nostalgia for me, the rock influences give off a head-banging vibe, which was very fun. There was a lot of other textures in the song, such as the heavy-thumping drums and some smoothness when they bring in the backing vocals to perform a choir-like backing. Both the rapping and the vocals were very pleasant, which is an odd term to describe a rock song of this nature. The members keep the song quite light and refreshing, which makes it a good song to keep returning to. (9/10)
5. You Make Me – I will be frank, I am disappointed with You Make Me. I thought the instrumental was interesting, as it hard a dirty type of hip-hop feel to it. And given it is a song with strong hip-hop roots, the rapping really shined in this song. Ryujin and Yuna really showed off their capabilities in this song. The vocals, on the other hand, was a hit and miss. The ‘You Make Me … Speechless’ is very memorable, without any doubts. The rest of the vocal work just didn’t sound good in this song. Sorry, but I had to say it. (7/10)
6. I Don’t Wanna Dance – I Don’t Wanna Dance is another pretty cool song from the group. The song, while there is decent melody and rhythm, actually isn’t a song that would automatically make you get up and dance to (relative to their other tracks on the album). It doesn’t have that appeal and the energy the song could have put on display was pretty much suppressed, which is why the song is interesting to me. But as mentioned, this doesn’t make the song terrible. The song still has the capability of having a performance and there would be an interesting chemistry in that regard. The rapping and vocal work in this song was also quite cool, which brought lightness to the song. (8/10)
7. 24HRS – We end the album with 24HRS, which is very different to the other JYP-based song titled 24 Hours. It is a fun track that brings together the some of the highlights of the album. The hip-hop vibes, the good vocal and rapping styles that I enjoyed on the album, the usage of chanting for the chorus, the addictive melodies. It had it all. It did end up being rather typical for some odd reason, as I didn’t really get much uniqueness from this song, in comparison to what else we have heard on this album. But it is still good. (8.5/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10
The second comeback of the week belong to ITZY. This four member female group had a smashing 2019 debut year with two massive hits, Dalla Dalla and Icy. And we are all confident that ITZY will do it again in 2020. Kicking off their year is Wannabe, which is featured on the group’s 2nd mini-album, It’z Me. In other related news, ITZY took out all of the new female artist awards during the 2019/2020 awards season, including the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Award for Best New Female Group. Congratulations ITZY!
The first thing that grabs my attention with ITZY’s new song, Wannabe (like many other songs) is the energy. I said a similar thing in my ICY review, but Wannabe manages to take things to the next level. Paired with the energy is a set of shouting vocals from each of the member. I have mentioned in the past this isn’t a great tactic and can bring a song down. But ITZY manages to commit throughout the song and use this technique to their advantage (even though they sounded pretty strained again at some parts). I mean, they get right into it when the song starts and I think this is fantastic. Otherwise, they would have been lost in the instrumentation. Together, they make the song very bold and defined. When it comes to the instrumental, I think this trap based background is amazing. There are many textures that makes it so interesting to listen to. It doesn’t rely solely on the trap, however. There is a bit of guitar in the mix that really stands out in the sea of synths. Rock vibes and house influences as well. Heck, the start had a very intriguing and eerie music box sound to it, capturing our attention from the very beginning. The song’s hooks are also another strong aspect and it had me singing along as soon as I heard it the first time around.
One way to gauge a group’s popularity nowadays might to see the presence of fan theories (fans need to be invested and dedicated to their group to write lengthy and detailed theories). ITZY’s latest music video has all these fan theories in the comment section. And instead of me interpreting the video, I thought I pick one of those theories as they would explain it better than me. The following was written by the YouTube user mich (so props to them for the theory below).
But I thought the video was interesting even without a theory. You could see what the video was about with just the English lyrics and the visual cues in the music video. I liked the balance between colour and darkness in this video. It wasn’t overly colourful, yet it wasn’t dark like the serious concepts we see in KPOP.
The choreography has two amazing moments in my opinion. The first has to be that music box start. The second has to be the sassy dance break bridge. The routines for each of these sections looked so cool. The rest of the performance looked very intense and energetic, as well. I thought they paired well with the music, especially the bouncy moments of the music. The only minor issue is the lack of smiles throughout the performance. The smiles switched off as soon as the camera diverted away from the members and I thought this brought down the aesthetics of the performance.
Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10
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
Nominees: DAY6, FT Island, IZ, N.Flying, ONEWE
WINNER – DAY6
Honourable Mention – N.Flying
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – DAY6
Nominees: AKMU, Brown Eyed Girls, Chen (EXO), IU, Mamamoo
WINNER – IU
Honourable Mention – Chen (EXO)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – IU
Nominees: J-Hope (BTS); Jackson (GOT7); Mark (NCT); Ravi (VIXX); Zico
WINNER – Mark (NCT)
Honourable Mention – Zico
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Zico
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)
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).
ITZY is currently one of the biggest girl group debuts of the year. Their DALLA DALLA debut back in February pushed them towards the top of the industry, with the track becoming immensely popular throughout the KPOP world. And they continue to push forward with their very first comeback! Returning today, the group released the music video for ICY at midnight (KST) and their first mini-album, IT’z ICY, at 6PM (KST – just a few hours ago).
ICY is loaded from the very start and it gets you with its infectious beat. I like how the song doesn’t take a breather. As they approached the slightly less upbeat sections (such as the pre-chorus), you would expect some slow energy. But the song builds up suspense instead, keeping you hooked to the song. I like the funky and grooviness of the instrumental, which kept me hooked. And I like how they incorporated a hip-hop vibe to the song, despite its instrumentation leaning towards a different direction. Their vocals seem to be the weakest aspect. They were pushing too hard to stay on top of the instrumental. The hooks were interesting. I didn’t like how they framed the chorus initially. But given the infectious nature of the song, the chorus has grown immensely. The final weak point of the song has to be the dance break. As much as I think an intense dance break was ideal, I felt this one was a little too awkward. It didn’t feel balanced with the rest of the track. Maybe they went down a little too low for my liking or it just didn’t carry enough of the upbeat energy to get my approval.
I personally liked their approach with the music video. The lighting, camera angles, quality and the setting overall reminded me of TWICE’s Likey music video. They had the background actors stare at the ITZY members, who were flaunting their confidence to the public. The actor’s expressions, however, were a little not so convincing. Their amazement didn’t seem like they were amazed. But I guess they did that to further highlight the confidence. I think my favourite part has to be the final montage when they were on the electric tram.
The dance was pretty good. The chorus was very underwhelming, especially since it had all the hooks loaded in the song. But I enjoyed every other part. I liked how they slowly added each member to the start of the dance. I thought that looked quite cool. The dance break choreography also looked cool and edgy. Just the music wasn’t too my liking. And I thought their final choreography montage was the best bit overall!
Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10
The performance It is expected to be an intense year with new groups debuting from 2 of the Big 3 (YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. Note that SM Entertainment hasn’t confirmed any debuts as of yet). And kicking off this particular competition is JYP Entertainment, with their brand new five-member female group, ITZY. The group is made up of Yuna, Ryujin, Chaeryeong, Lia and Yeji. You may find Ryujin familiar as she earned first place in the MIXNINE survive show for the female side, while Chaeryeong would be familiar due to her presence of SIXTEEN. The group made their debut earlier today with DALLA DALLA.
DALLA DALLA is a hip-hop techno infused track that really grabs your attention for its trend instrumental from the very start. And I like this uniqueness about the track as it is something you haven’t heard in KPOP at all yet. And as expected, the song is very catchy with its addictive melody and lyrics just practically in front of you the entire time as you listen to the track. It is vibrant and it surely does pop from the rest of the competition. I thought the vocals were good, while the rap gave the song more intensity that I had expected. But that isn’t a bad thing as I thought it was cool. I also like their message of self-confidence in the lyrics. However, that ‘Keep your chin up. We got your back‘ line during the bridge felt too cheesy for this song. I had expected some sort of chanting as we progressed through the song but what we got didn’t fit the song’s vibes in the end. Apart from that, it is a fun song.
The music video is a good opener to really introduce the girls in a visual manner. However, I couldn’t help but think how mediocre the entire video was when you reflect back on it. It just didn’t have any memorable moments. But I did like the graphics that were used for the different sets. I also liked their edginess, while keeping that direction that JYP girl groups tend to have (look at TWICE at the moment and Miss A’s earlier days).
The performance accompanying this debut is quite good. From what I can see in the music video, it is energetic, bold and well suited for the song. They also seem to go with some complicated moves, which I think looks good. I am excited to see the whole performance in full!
Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8/10