[Album Review] Hola Hola (1st Mini Album) – KARD

KARD has returned with their debut mini album. While they have been around for over 6 months now, the group didn’t make their official debut until last week, with Hola Hola. All the singles they have released before hand are also featured on the mini-album. To be honest, this album review should have been completed earlier. But due to a lovely thing called procrastination, I have been putting it off. But here it is, a week after their debut!

Please also note that starting 31st of July, I will be posting 1 album review each week on Monday.

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Hola Hola Album Cover

1..Oh Na Na (Pre-release Track 1)Click here for the full review of Oh Na Na (8/10)

2. Don’t Recall (Pre-release Track 2) – Click here for the full review of Don’t Recall (8/10)

3. Rumour (Pre-release Track 3)Click here for the full review of Rumour (7.5/10)

4. Hola Hola (Title Track)Click here for the full review of Hola Hola (9/10)

5. I Won’t Stop (나는 멈추지 않는다) – While I did expect some of KARD’s other tracks on the album to be EDM based, I did not expect that slow start. That provided a nice contrast between the two styles. The dubstep (?) chorus is really intense and while I thought the drop could have been a bit better, it did sneak up on me. But minus the chorus or the instrumental, the rest of the song didn’t seem memorable, which is a pity, given their previous tracks. (7/10)

6. Living Good (Special Thanks To) – I am not a big fan of hip-hop (can you say it is hip-hop, I am not sure) but I can’t help but get into the groove for the first part of the song. While it is a fan-service song, it is a little different, in the sense that the sound is a lot lighter, compared to the songs above in the album. The second part is a recording from a concert or something, which I thought was an interesting way to present a fan-song. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

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Hola Hola Teaser Image
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[Review] Hola Hola – KARD

After 3 pre-debut singles, KARD has finally made their official debut in South Korea with their first mini album and title track, both titled as Hola Hola. Boasting singles such as Oh Na Na, Don’t Recall and Rumour, fans have been looking forward to the debut of the co-ed group for some time. They are currently under DSP Media and the group consists of BM, J.Seph, Jiwoon and Somin.

And like their pre-debut singles, Hola Hola continues on with the group’s notable tropical house sound. And like the name of the track, it curves their once serious tropical house sound into something that fits wonderfully into the Summer season, making it an ideal release for this time of the year. That complaint about their repetitive sound is out the door, with this fresh Summer sound. Out of all the songs released thus far, the vocal work and the rapping in this song from each member are on point. And their best effort yet. What threw me off guard was Jiwoo’s unexpecting rap, that sounds amazing. I love the incorporation of the ‘Oh Na Na‘ into the song, giving you flashbacks to their first single. But most importantly, my most favourite part was the bridge. It made the already catchy song, even more interesting. You can definitely expect me to continuously hit the replay button in the future.

Fitting that Summer sound was definitely the music video, which shows scenery that they shot while they were on tour overseas. For the most part, it was simply shots of them having fun on a nice sunny day. So there isn’t much to talk about. Their choreography shots look amazing. From the video, I think I can see a huge stage presence because their stares just captivated me, all the way through the video.

From what we can see are the incorporation of their key dance moves from Oh Na Na and Rumour. It is also said that Don’t Recall will also be incorporated but I haven’t seen it yet. That would genuinely make the dance interesting and I am already loving their key point for the Hola Hola dance as well.

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

[Special] Favourite Songs from 1st Half of 2017

Can you already believe it? That we are already in July. Half the year has gone by and it felt like a blur. A lot has happened in the last 6 months that has just past. So, as a treat, I have decided to compile a list (my top 10) of the songs from the first half of 2017. There is no ranking or charting system that has allowed me to come up with this list (though, you might notice it may correspond with the Weekly Charts that I publish every Sunday). This is all just my personal preference and it is simply my opinion. So, in no particular order whatsoever, here are my top 10 songs from the 1st half of 2017.

Don’t Wanna Cry – Seventeen

Hwi Hwi – Laboum

Never Ever – GOT7

Beautiful – Monsta X

I’ll Be Yours – Girl’s Day

Don’t Recall – K.A.R.D

Beautiful – Pentagon

Hobglobin – CLC

Dance Dance – DAY6

I Wish – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

 

 

[Review] Rumour – K.A.R.D

No, it is not a ‘rumour’, but K.A.R.D is officially back with another single. K.A.R.D is a four-member coed group who previously released Oh Na Na last year and Don’t Recall earlier this year. They have yet to make their official debut but have been using these pre-debut singles as a way to build up a fanbase and get some recognition, similar to what Mamamoo did before they debuted.

Similar to their other singles, the group has gone for the tropical house genre again, but this time mixing a reggae sound into it. It suits the upcoming Summer season in South Korea. While I do like their song this time, it does feel a little flat. There is enough for me to know that they can be somewhat versatile with their music, but unless they start changing up their sound entirely (such as moving away from the tropical house sounds), they are going to get boring fast. I personally don’t enjoy autotune that much, but they didn’t seem to overuse it that much here. Instead, it allowed the guys to open the song and actually sing, besides rapping, which is a little different from their past tracks. I also liked how they merged into with the girls. There is a small part at the end of each chorus where the guys start to sing, then the girls join in and the 4 of them finish off that one line. The instrumental break is cool and the vocals/raps overall were probably their best thus far. The question is, did I like it? Not initially. It seemed generic (hence my comments) but a few listens in, I can see it getting a bit more addictive. Give me until the end of today and I probably am just going to be playing this song non-stop.

I personally liked the music video. It’s dark but not too dark, so each time I am watching it, I am trying to see if there is anything new. So far, I have noticed a few things that I haven’t noticed in the few times I have already watched the music video. Their visuals here are no joke. Each of them looks amazing in the video and the lighting just showcased their visuals even more. The only thing that I thought was odd was the mobile phone frame for the video. It looked cool but it just felt so limiting.

It seems like K.A.R.D will continue to put out key point dances for all of their choreographies. This one is quite easy, unlike their last one, which involved strong ankles. I have no idea what it is called, but it fits the reggae and tropical vibes of the song quite nicely. The rest of dance looked quite cool as well, from what I could see from the music video.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

 

[Review] Don’t Recall – K.A.R.D

K.A.R.D has returned with a brand new song. For those who don’t remember this co-ed group, they released their first project single, Oh Na Na, last year in December. Since then, their popularity has gone through the roof, as evident at a number of views the video released to accompany this Don’t Recall and their ranking on iTune charts around the world. This track does not have a hidden figure and is actually a present to the fans for their response to Oh Na Na.

Like their first single, Don’t Recall delve back into the world of RnB and hip-hop. The song is a lot melodic than Oh Na Na, which was heavier on the raps and hip-hop vibes. BM doesn’t sound like he is rapping but rather singing using his raspy and husky voice. While his vocals are limited, he does a pretty good job. The other members stay within their comfort zone and like BM, do a nice job at each of their parts. Moving away from the vocals, I do have to admit, though, the song does feel a little dull compared to Oh Na Na. Not sure if it is the vocals/raps to blame (because they don’t show much variety) or if there isn’t anything catchy within the song. The one part I really love and think it is what makes the song more memorable is the short instrumental breaks after the choruses. Those parts sound very striking and very ear-catching. It usage after the choruses and as the instrumental for the final chorus gave the song a much-needed boost and gave me the reason why to go back and continue listening to it.

I would love to interpret the video myself but I would probably do a really bad job of it if I had a time. But during my crusade of trying to work out what happened in the video, I came across a theory uploaded onto K.A.R.D’s YouTube channel, which tries to make sense of the video. While they claim that they might be wrong, I think everyone has gone to accept it as the real thing. The audio of the video is Korean but make sure to turn on the CC (closed captions) to see an English translation of the guy talking in the fan theory video.

Watching the video kind of made my mind throw everything I had initially thought out of the window. But even if I didn’t watch the theory video, I would still have noticed the tension and darkness present in the video. The camera shots and camera angles really make this video quite good. While these have been seen elsewhere in KPOP, it’s the actual meaning behind the video and objects in the shot that makes it feel refreshing and different each time.

The choreography here is really good. That short instrumental break dance routine looks amazing and something that would look really amazing on stage. It’s a pity that they haven’t gone on stage (as in on the weekly music shows) to perform this.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] Oh Na Na – K.A.R.D ft. Heo Youngji

Yes, another release from 2016 that I will be reviewing in 2017. And it is going to be the final one so far. K.A.R.D is a co-ed group under DSP Media that consist of J.Seph, BM, Somin (former member of April) and Jiwoo. This song and the few others that will follow will feature a hidden artist. For Oh Na Na, the Hidden member is Youngji, a former member of Kara. The group uses playing cards as a way to represent themselves, an interesting concept.

The track is a modern mix between the EDM we hear constantly in music, with the re-emerging genres of hip-hop and RnB. And the track mixes up these genres perfectly. The instrumental is very striking, catching your attention with its bold sounds.The vocals and rapping by the members sound amazing. Each member compliments the song in their own. The chorus is very addictive to listen to. The “Oh Na Na” sounds fantastic and is the catchiest point of the song. I also thought the instrumental breaks after the choruses were really good as well. Youngji’s featuring doesn’t really do it for me, unfortunately. Her part is designed for her, but that part doesn’t really fit in well with the song. The whole song has this heavy beat beating throughout it. Youngji’s part took away that repetitive heavy beat, added some slowness to the song and forced the song to have a higher pitch (which didn’t suit the song as well as expected). It was a nice slowdown, but I preferred that repetitive heavy beat that we had in all the other parts of the song. Besides that, I liked this track a lot. When I was on holidays, it was the one track that I kept going back to.

Not as impressed with the video as I was with the song. The quality of the video just wasn’t up to par with the quality of the song. I would have been happy with just the choreography shots. The rest of the video just felt detached from each other. There wasn’t anything connecting them together. I did like the night city scenery in the background, though. My next complaint would have to be the lighting in this video. Some parts you could see the members. Other parts (including some of the dance segments) were just too dark and you could only see the outlines of the members. Finally, Youngji’s part made me laugh. I know she is the ‘hidden member’ for this song. But she didn’t have to put on a black hoodie. She looks either like the Grim Reaper or the guy from the new drama Introverted Boss (Guess who started to watch dramas now). While I am sure she was told to wear that to look mysterious, she looks ridiculous more than anything.

The dance looked amazing. There was a hint of sexiness in the dance, but nothing overpowering. It had the hip-hop vibe through it. I really loved the dance at the instrumental breaks and the body waves at the “Oh Na Na” parts.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 3/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8/10