[Review] Who U Are – Kang Daniel

And now, we return (and kick off) the normal schedule of reviews for new releases this week. First up this week is Kang Daniel, who officially returns with Who U Are, the lead title track off his third mini-album, Magenta. I have opted to write his review first as I was a few days late with his pre-release single, Waves (featuring Jamie and Simon Dominic), last week. I am hoping to avoid that with his actual title track release.

I personally expected Kang Daniel to make his solo debut with a strong and masculine sound. As this is something that would definitely suit his image. But for his solo debut and first comeback, we have seen different and brighter sides of him. And with those tracks, he has definitely solidfied his footing in the industry. So now, he can go back to do a sound/concept like Who U Are, which one might argue to be typical and standard. But despite that, I think Who U Are is great song, just with one major letdown. It starts off with horns that really set the dark atmosphere to the song. We are then thrown into a verse made of a heavy bass drum and a mellow flute sound. When it comes to the chorus, he hits it hard and we are blasted with an amped and slightly angsty version of the verse. I really liked the use of those vocals as part of the instrumental for the post-chorus instrumental hook/dance break. A technique used often, but it is also something that maintains the momentum and energy from the chorus in a trendy manner. The second verse more or less goes with a similar set up, though its bouncy opening is a definite killer part of the song. We are treated generously to his vocals throughout Who U Are. We are also treated handsomely to his powerful rapping, which I don’t remember being a part of his previous solo releases. But while powerful rapping is well suited for this strong sound, I wasn’t impressed with the trap-based backing that his rap segment got. It was pretty generic, cringy and just counteracted the flow of the song. This is exceptionally disapppointing as I was enjoying the attention-grabbing ‘Levitate‘ at the beginning of that sequence. I do commend that the transition back into the final chorus was handled well, though. Apart from that rap sequence, everything else in Who U Are is definitely a solid hit for me.

While the song was about wanting to get to know someone in a bold fashion, I didn’t really under stand the apocalyptic setting that the music video was set in. While it definitely compliments the bold side of the message and the strong sound, I just found the setting to be extreme. Putting that thought aside, Kang Daniel was shown as a masculine figure which I am sure will makes fans excited. I liked the play of colours, going from white to red to blue. I just wished the music video was more than just a closeup and choreography formula.

The choreography for this comeback is really good. It brings out that strong side of the song really well. I liked all the twist turns that he does during the chorus. I also like the one stomp that starts off the chorus each time. That was a powerful moment in the music video and will definitely be a powerful moment on stage. The entire final chorus looks really good as well.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[Review] Waves – Kang Daniel ft. Simon Dominic & Jamie

Before I can proceed with any reviews for the newer releases of the week (starting tomorrow), there is still one more Monday release that I need to review. I am talking about Kang Daniel’s pre-release single, Waves, which features both Simon Dominic and Jamie (Jimin from 15&). This is just one of the songs coming our way once Kang Daniel unveils his Magenta mini-album on August 3rd. This comeback is the second of three Colour comebacks that he is embarking on. The first was titled Cyan (and featured the title track 2U) back in March of this year.

Kang Daniel manages to bring together hip-hop melodies and a subtle Latin influence to form Waves. And it is honestly a good sidetrack that really helps grow the anticipation for his upcoming mini-album release. Yes, I specifically mentioned ‘sidetrack’ for a reason. I don’t think the song has what it takes to be given ‘title track’ status, given that it doesn’t have much impact or heft to it. So, its status as a sidetrack is ideal. As mentioned in the introduction to this review, the song features both Simon Dominic and Jamie. It might seem to be a bit much for a song that only lasts three minutes, but Waves is surprisingly balanced and evenly split between all three artists. And each artists had their own thing unique thing to contribute to the track. Kang Daniel kicks off the song with a really cool rap speak delivery of the first verse. He also takes on board the chorus, given that it is his song and that makes the most sense. His vocals seem sleek and matches the sensual vibe of the song. Jamie follows Kang Daniel in the first verse with her nasally voice. She also got an opportunity to rap in the second verse. It isn’t anything intense, but it gives a little teaser of a new side of her that she hasn’t really shown off in her own music just yet. Simon Dominic rounds out the first verse with a short sequence, before returning with a heavier sequence for the second verse and bridge. The deepness in his voice threw me off the first time around, as it contrasted so greatly with the chilled and light nature of Waves‘ instrumental. Overall, Waves is a pretty good teaser of what is to come in less than a weeks time.

The music video is quite good. First of all, I am glad that both Jamie and Simon Dominic are in this music. A lot of the time the featuring artist is not included due to scheduling conflicts or various other reasons. So to see both featuring artists made the video worthwhile to watch. Secondly, how good does Kang Daniel look in this video? His solo shots were very captivating and his outfits (particularly those suit jackets) looked really cool. Thirdly, the sets look unique. Some of the sets look really elegant. Others seemed to be modeled after sewage pipes. Not really a cool place to be. But Kang Daniel, Jamie and Simon Dominic all really make all the sets seems like the place to be. The ending looks a little sinister and might foreshadow next week’s main release.

What I could see from the music video, the choreography looked really promising. I liked how they split off into females and males dancers for the second chorus, while they were all mixed together for the first and second choruses. I couldn’t really focus on a particular move given the unfocused nature of the music video. Though I did detect some attitude mixed into the moves, as I could see from the end of the performance.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Album Review] Cyan (2nd Mini Album) – Kang Daniel

Kang Daniel has topped my Weekly KPOP Charts for the past two weeks with his new song, 2U. That song is featured on the soloist’s second mini-album, Cyan, which was released two weeks ago. I know there are other album releases which I should be reviewing released earlier than this album. But I couldn’t help but dive into this album first. I will get around to those albums in the next few album reviews. But in the meantime, here is my review for Kang Daniel’s Cyan.

Cyan Album Cover

1. Adulthood – Kicking off the mini-album release is Adulthood, which was released alongside Touchin’ in November 2019. It is a dance track with some R&B mixed into it, smoothing out the use of the island or house genres of EDM. I noticed that there was some very low rumbling in the background of this song, which stood out for some reason. Also the phone notification beeping that appeared now and then was pretty cool and related back to the lyrics of becoming an adult. Kang Daniel also seems to show off some vocal chops, going from falsettos to decent ab-libs. I also like how they incorporated his voice in the background of some sections. It helped bolden and define his vocals in a smart and neat way. (8/10)

2. 2U (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for 2U. (9/10)

3. Jealous – I swear that I don’t try to find a 10/10 song on each album (or give the best song on the album the perfect 10/10 ranking). But Jealous just falls neatly into the 10/10 category. The entire song capitalises on Kang Daniel’s husky vocals, which I am jealous of. The instrumental of the song is a wonderful mixture of peaceful piano sequences, interesting vocal filters and an upbeat electronic piece for the chorus. Everything comes together. Everything is very appealing and addictive. I just want to dive right back into the song as soon as it is over. One of the many signs that Jealous manages to show as a perfect song. (10/10)

4. InterviewInterview is a very smooth jazzy style track. The instrumental is very satisfying and it also features some piano as the icing on the ‘detail’ cake. The song has a really pleasant melody that really makes me want to dive back into it after the song wraps up. We get more of Kang Daniel’s husky voice in this song as well, which features throughout the verses of Interview. We lose the husky touch for the chorus, but it replaced with that smooth texture that the song already identifies with. We also get some rapping from the soloist, which I wanted more of. (9/10)

5. Touchin’Click here to read the full review for Touchin’. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

Cyan Teaser Image

[Review] 2U – Kang Daniel

Kang Daniel was the biggest name from Wanna One and was expected to soar high in the industry upon making his solo debut with What Are You Up To. But certain events got in the way of that and his debut was fast forgotten due to a lack of promotions. He returned in late 2019 with Touchin’ but cut promotions short to focus on his mental health (good on him, though!). But it is 2020 now and it is time to turn over a new leaf. Kang Daniel kicks off 2020 with the release of his second mini-album, Cyan, which features the title track 2U.

The first that came to my mind upon my first listen to 2U was that everything was very easy on the ears. And this is a stylistic choice that I really am enjoying. With the amount of focus I am placing on current events, songs that are this easy on the ears are able to provide some brief but much needed relief to my mind before I need to refocus. The song’s main synth may sound pretty bland and plain at first, but the combination of the beat and the song’s melody really helps mitigate this. Together, I find the track to have a subtle groove, which I thoroughly enjoy. I do like his vocals, which feels fresh and gives the song a shot of vibrancy. There is a tad of smoothness that makes this song even more enjoyable when it comes to the melodic chorus. I do find it interesting that there was no rap-speak type of rap sequence, which I think would have suited the song perfectly. But what we got served in 2U is amazing already.

Kang Daniel works as the really fashionable and trendy janitor at a theater, which employs a pretty unfit security guard. No judgement here though, as I am equally as unfit as the guard. He seems to invite his friends to a night in at the theater. But after some time, he was caught by the security guard. Not sure if the whole thing was imagined by Kang Daniel, which may have been the case with that ending. Kang Daniel is still the janitor, didn’t lose his job but the security guard is very suspicious of him. I found the video to be lighthearted and not too heavy, like the song. It was enjoyable and matched the atmosphere of the song.

The choreography was pretty good. Everything was casual and easygoing, which is essentially the song (and entire comeback) described in two words. I like how the choreographers added more dancers as the performance progressed, seeming like a friendly and fun congregation was being formed. I particularly liked the ending of the choreography (onwards from 2:55 of the music video). I liked the interaction with the backup dancers and the casual vibes that literally came from this section of the performance.

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

[Review] Touchin’ – Kang Daniel

Kang Daniel is nominated for Best New Male Soloist and Best Solo Choreography in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Click here to support Kang Daniel and your other favourites!

Kang Daniel, one of the most highly anticipated solo debuts of 2019, has officially made his first comeback via a digital single, Touchin’. He made his solo debut back in July with What Are You Up To and the mini-album, Color On Me. While he topped charts with his album, he was not allowed to actively promote the album, which I assumed is due to the aftereffects of the lawsuit in which he filed against his previous company months prior to his debut. But with that officially behind him, it seems like Kang Daniel can freely release and promote tracks under his own label without any hindrance.

And I do hope that he does promote this track. Why? Well, I found the song to be what I had expected his debut to be like. There is a level of intensity that I found to be very appealing. But it was subtle compared to other dance tracks. Also adding to the appeal of the song is the instrumentation. I really like how the song built up suspense using the spaced-out xylophone beat. This was shortlived, as the buildup came quite quickly and we are launched into the chorus. The chorus has this rhythmic beat that is undeniably catchy. Following that was a techno-like guitar synth which I thought was fantastic. It continued to drive the song and felt fresh each time it was revisited. Finally, Kang Daniel’s vocals were on point. I really like the lower register at which he sings, followed by the ad-libs he presented at the end of the song. Overall, Touchin’ is a very well-produced and captivating, which is perfect for Kang Daniel.

I thought this was a really clever video. I like how ‘home Kang Daniel’ adds a slightly comedic touch to the video. He is too engrossed in the movie that he managed to add Tobasco sauce to his attire. ‘Movie Kang Daniel’ is much smoother and cooler than the home version. He stars in his own vintage spy movie, wins a game of Mahjong and walks away with the actress and case of money. It seems like the actress gets kidnapped and Kang Daniel goes on a mission to save her, which he thankfully does. He does get shot at along the way but the oldness of the VHS tape skips that part entirely. I did expect some sort of twist at the end, such as the actress coming out to share some pizza with ‘home Kang Daniel’ or for her to run into his house. But I guess that would have been unnecessary when I think about it in a deeper sense.

The performance shows off the sensual and sleek side of Kang Daniel that fans had loved since his time on Produce 101 Season 2 and promotions as part of Wanna One. I thought he showcased a lot of his dance skills in this performance and also incorporated what seems to be an upgraded version of that thigh-related move that he made really popular (I am quite sure there is a proper name for the move, I just can’t think of it right now).

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.9/10

[Review] What Are You Up To – Kang Daniel

The second solo debut today has been a long time coming. But finally, Kang Daniel has returned to the stage with What Are You Up To and his first mini-album, Color On Me. It has been a choppy few months for Kang Daniel, who left his LM Entertainment after nullifying his contract with said management. After the courts ruled in his favour, Kang Daniel established his own agency (Konnect Entertainment). But his debut was further delayed after LM Entertainment decided to appeal, which LM later lost, allowing the popular solo artist to return to the industry via his own agency. This also makes Kang Daniel the final member of Wanna One to relaunch their careers after the disbandment of the group earlier this year.

But we are here for the review, aren’t we? For some reason, I expected something a little more intense from the artist. So, my first impressions of the track were not that positive. However, while writing this review, I am warming up to it a fair bit. What Are You Up To is a synth-pop track and its biggest weapon was pace. I found the instrumental to be perfectly paced. It didn’t get right to the point, opting for some suspense building. I find this very cool, especially since the song opted to stay very neutral overall.  I really like the loud metallic banging that could be heard during the chorus. That really amped up the intensity for me. While it is a dance track. it falls towards the pleasant side of the spectrum, which is another intriguing aspect. His dance break sounded quite trendy and sleek. Kang Daniel’s vocals are great and I like how he used autotune to help prevent his song sounding monotone and prevent repetition. I think the only thing that could have been added was a rap sequence. Doesn’t have to be done by Kang Daniel but I felt it was missing that extra oomph.

The song is about yearning to catch up with one’s lover. And the video shows that I think. Kang Daniel starts off bored, wanting to meet with his lover. We see him attempt to reach for his lover through many mechanisms but is unable to get through. It is definitely nice to see the familiar face again. Besides Kang Daniel’s visuals, I find the music video to have a nice pastel colour palette. Overall, things looked cool and visually appealing.

At this stage, there doesn’t seem like there will be promotions. However, his agency and the broadcasting companies are still actively discussing promotions. It will be a total miss opportunity to not bring him on board, especially with his fanbase and popularity. I thought the choreography showcased a lot of Daniel’s dance skills, appropriate for the song. The dance break and the pre-chorus routines have to be my pick for the best parts.

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