[Album Review] Reload (4th Mini Album) – NCT Dream

It has been a few weeks since I have posted any reviews (let alone album reviews) on a Friday. I have just been so busy during the week that by Friday, I would fall asleep very early. But hopefully I can manage my sleep pattern a little better to publish reviews as per the usual schedule. As you can tell, I have missed many handfuls of songs over the last few weeks. But I will get onto them eventually. In the meantime, I will be reviewing NCT Dream’s fourth mini-album, Reload. It features the title track, Ridin’. The album has proven to be very successful, selling over 250,000 copies within a two day period.

Reload Album Cover

1. Ridin’ (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Ridin’. (8/10)

2. Quiet DownQuiet Down just doesn’t live up to its name in a literal sense. It is still relatively loud than compared to something that one would described as ‘Quiet’. But it does feel toned back a tad bit, in comparison to the title track. Despite that, I really like how edgy the song managed to maintain, which matches this new image that the group has been going for with their last release (Boom) and Ridin’. Elements of the song remind me of the Western pop in the ‘00s. The relatively rapid and dense bouncy synth in the background of the verses sounds vaguely familiar, while the chorus seemed to bring a R&B melody to the song, which I thought was awesome. I wasn’t as impressed with the vocals and rapping in this song, which felt pretty ordinary overall. (7/10)

3. 7 Days (내게 말해줘) 7 Days takes a softer pop/R&B approach. Unlike in the previous song, I thought 7 Days had a good display of vocals and rapping. The melodies which the song thrive on really highlight the vocals/rapping skills of the manner. They also helped provide the song a memorable rhythm. The rappers of the group, Jeno and Jaemin, were singing in this song in a rap-sing manner that I really want to hear more of in the future. Not only were their singing great, but the rap sequences they had at the end of the song felt perfect and fitting for the song. The vocalists of the group (the rest of the group) sounded very smooth. Sure, the instrumentals were rather typical and could have used some character. But 7 Days was very pleasant to listen to. (8/10)

4. Love Again (사랑은 또다시) Love Again seems to be a soft 90s hip-hop track. That is the best way I would describe the song. The chorus really takes you back to that era and I am extremely into it. The vocal and rapping from all members in Love Again on was point. There were very different textures but all worked very cohesively with one another. Haechan even raps in this song! Some of their delivery was rough, while other times its was very smooth. I also really liked how relatively soft yet upbeat the instrumentals were. They felt just right for this style and worked extremely with the member’s vocals/rapping. (9/10)

5. Puzzle Piece (너의 자리)Puzzle Piece is a ballad with only one instrument in the background, an acoustic guitar. It is such a nice tune to end the album with. And the sweetness that I could feel just made it even better. I just liked how easy it was to slip into this song. Once again, their vocal work was amazing. As it was just the acoustic guitar, what we heard felt from the members very pure and ‘unhidden’. There were no synths to cover up any of the vocals, while there wasn’t anything to really fall back on. Furthermore, the harmonisation with the background vocals and one another was really powerful. I liked how the acoustic guitar built up the song and gained momentum. It made the song even better and feel well rounded. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

Reload Teaser Image

[Review] Ridin’ – NCT Dream

The returning group of the day is NCT Dream, who returns with the highly anticipated, Ridin’. Technically, this is the comeback where the members would ‘graduate’ from the group, as they have reached the adult age in South Korea. However, it was announced two weeks ago that NCT Dream, after promotions for Ridin’, would abolish the graduation system and become a fixed lineup group. In more exciting news, Mark (who graduated from the group at the end of 2018) would return to be part of the lineup, where small units of the members (if not all the members) would promote under the name of NCT Dream. Definitely exciting news to all NCTzens who support the ‘young’ subunit. But we will have to get through the Ridin’ promotions before we get to that stage, so let’s have a dive into the new song.

Ever since the release of Boom last year, it was obvious that the group would never set foot into their more youthful title tracks. And that game changer song really set them up for future releases, as evident by the quality and style of Ridin’. The intensity that you can feel from the song really rivals the intensity that we got from Boom. The instrumental is described to be an urban trap song. I like how the song plays with the heavy bass synths, mimicking the sound when a motorcycle revs. Given their teasers and music video, I thought this was rather ingenious. Apart from this revving-like synth, I was surprised that the instrumental had a subtle smoothness to it. The vocal work was also surprisingly very smooth. Glad the deep revving-like synth and the rapping gave that rough touch to an extent. But all the members sound very on point. The song had a very catchy melody and ‘Ridin’ and Rollin’‘ hook as well. That kick at the end that Jeno and Jaemin brings in bridge definitely gives the song that impact and climax that boldens the song’s already strong appeal. I do wish they would have gone with something a little bolder so it could have a chance to rival Boom, which I think is still the superior song after writing this review.

To think that this is the group that kicked off their careers with Chewing Gum. They have definitely grown up. The music video seems to throwback to their Go days, where the subunit took on a rebellious phase as part of their growth. When you look at their releases throughout the years, it felt like they moved too soon into that concept at the time, especially since they followed up with We Go Up and Candlelight. The release of Boom really consolidated that image of the group maturing. And hence, the progression into this Ridin’ concept felt natural and the right step forward. Needless to say, the group looks really cool. I thought the set was rather nice, looking like a legit alleyway that leads to a hidden underground garage and mechanic (but obviously a lot cooler than that description!), like in those movies with illegal car racing events. A great music video, in my opinion.

The choreography for this comeback equally looks as cool as the music video. There seems to be some movies where the members mimic the action of revving a motorcycle and show off some other edgy movies. My favourite has to be the smooth move they pull off in the second half of the chorus, contrasting with the intensity and supposed roughness of the song.

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

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Artist-Based Categories

It is that time of the year again where I announce the winners for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. In December 2019, I allowed the audience (you all), once again, to vote for their favourite songs and artists for the December 2018 to November 2019 period. Thank you to all who voted and particpated in the KPOPREVIEWED Awards this time around. Even more people voted this year, making this year more intense than ever in many categories. This post will focus on the artist-based categories, which will involve the New Artist categories, Elemental-focused (i.e. rap, vocals etc.) categories and Best Artist categories. The winners for the artist categories will be posted in an accompanying post today, while the Top 100 songs of 2019 will be posted tomorrow.

Here is how things are going to work. Each category (aside from the non-fan voted categories, which are specified) will have a WINNER (the song/performance/video that ranked first), a Honourable Mention (the song/performance/video that ranked second) and a KPOPREVIEWED Choice (my personal choice if I voted, which I didn’t include this year). And let’s go!


Best New Male Soloist

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

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


Best New Female Soloist

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

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


Best New Male Group

Nominees: AB6IX, CIX, ONEUS, TXT, X1

WINNER – TXT
Honourable Mentions – ONEUS
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – AB6IX


Best New Female Group

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

WINNER – ITZY
Honourable Mention – EVERGLOW
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – EVERGLOW


Best Band

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

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


Best Vocals

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

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


Best Raps

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

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


Best Subunit

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

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


Artist With Most Weekly KPOP Chart Wins

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Seventeen (5x)


Rising Star

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

WINNER – ATEEZ
Honourable Mention – CLC
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – CLC


Most Underrated Artist of 2019

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

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


Best Male Soloist

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

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


Best Female Soloist

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

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


Best Male Group

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

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


Best Female Group

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

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


And that brings us to the end of the Artist-Based Categories for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t seen the Song-Based Categories yet, click here.

Tomorrow, we will get to see which artist ranked on the Top 100 of the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Charts, where the song that ranks first becomes the ‘Best Song of 2019’. Remember this is decided based on the votes for Best Song of 2019 (50%) and the Weekly KPOP Charts that I post every Sunday (50%). You can find out by clicking here (hyperlink will be updated once the post is published).

[Special] My Favourite Performances from the 2019 End Of Year Music Festivals

At the end of each year, the three major broadcasting companies in South Korea (SBS, KBS and MBC) organises and broadcast a very fruitful and dynamic music festival, bringing together the top KPOP acts of the year. 2019 is no exception and with a year as busy as 2019, it is often quite hard to get invited to these festivals. And with each show running for a couple of hours, different stages/performances/remixes of the year’s hits and one-of-a-kind collaborations, it is often hard to keep up with these festivals. Today, I have decided to organise a list of performances from each of these three festivals that I thought were excellent, different and worthwhile in checking out. I have done this before but over the years dropped it as I had very little time. Now that I have some time on my hand, I thought I return to this segment for the 2019 festivals.

SBS Gayo Daejun – 25th of December 2019

When we talk about the SBS Music Festival, we need to address the issue of safety. After all, it costed Red Velvet full group promotions for their Psycho comeback, due to injuries sustained by Wendy due to the unsafe nature of SBS stage. We did manage to get one full lineup of the group performing Psycho on stage as it was pre-recorded. because of that, I put Red Velvet’s Psycho performance on my list of favourite performances from that day. Other performers also had falls on the SBS stage, from what I remember reading. Other stages at stood out for me were:

  • Stray Kid’s Miroh – I did not know how Stray Kids could top Miroh’s intensity by rearranging the performance to be even more intense.
  • NCT Dream’s Boom & NCT 127’s Superhuman – Both tracks had a really cool dance addition to it. On top of that, we got to see the same ‘switching of jackets’ that Mark did at the 2018 SBS Music Festival between Dream and 127’s performance. Only this time, it was Haechan!
  • Oh My Girl’s Bungee (X-mas Version) – Always good to have a X-mas themed remix on Christmas Day. It made Bungee, an already vibrant and colourful track, more suitable for the season.
  • Mamamoo’s Gogobebe – The rock remix for this performance was superb.
  • Seventeen’s Home and Snapshoot – We got to see a warmer side of the group and the more joyful side, especially after all the darkness we got from HIT and Fear.
  • TWICE’s Medley of Tracks – I really liked the band element to their performance and how they tweaked the concept for Fancy and their more light hearted tracks. I just wished the band was DAY6 (where is DAY6 in all of these festivals), which would have made the performance even more worthy of a view.
  • BTS’s Dionysus – I have always been a fan of BTS’s darker side. This performance is a return this side, which I greatly appreciate.

KBS Gayo Daechukje – 27th December 2019

I personally did not have much interest in the KBS Music Festival as I thought the stage looked really bad and the camera work wasn’t the best. This wasn’t also the only problem that occurred that same night. APINK’s %% performance was cut short, disappointing fans, APINK and viewers in general. If I were to choose one standout stage, it would have Golden Child’s Wannabe stage. Their dance intro was very good and showed off intensity that was aligned with their new look/concept. And I really liked how smooth the transition between dance intro and actual song was. Only a few toehr performances caught my attention and they include:

  • Song Gain’s Introductory song – Song Gain, for those who don’t know is a trot singer that trended this year. For Song Gain’s performance, she managed to incorporate all artists into her song, which I think would be a challenge.
  • NU’EST Love Me – It wasn’t so much their choreography or song that caught my attention. But I thought the raised stages for the end really highlighted the good parts of their overall choreography, providing what could be said as an epic end to their stage.
  • ASTRO’s All Night + Blue Flame – I was waiting for ASTRO to do All Night in some capacity during these festivals. But with Moonbin out of action, it seems like the group would opt for the 5-member Blue Flame instead. So automatically, ASTRO’s stage for All Night alone would make this list. Blue Flame ended up being very epic as well, which is why their entire segment is on this list.
  • Oh Ha Young, Joy and Yerin Mr. Mr. collaboration – I haven’t heard this song for some time now and I really enjoyed this throwback. Also surprised that they covered the entire song, which usually isn’t the case.

MBC Gayo Daejejeon – 31st December 2019

MBC’s Music Festival is one to always watch. Their stages always have a look that shows that they have been planning for a while. The collaborations for this festival are always something to talk about. And why not watch it live as the year goes out! There is nothing like ending 2019 and start 2020 with KPOP! However, the MBC Music Festival was also plagued with an early termination issue. This time around the victim was Kim Jae Hwan, who only got to perform Nuna (he should have performed The Time I Need as well. For standout performance, I am putting down ASTRO and Oh My Girl’s creepy and jazzy cover of IU’s Red Shoes. It was different and colourful. Other stages to check out:

  • Stray Kid’s Side Effects – Another intense song that they managed to upgrade and make darker. The creative minds that put together these stages for Stray Kids are killing it (and need a pay rise instantly).
  • Seventeen & Mamamoo Collaboration – Two of my favourite groups have come together to form one dream team. And this was such an amazing stage.
  • Seventeen’s HIT – Mingyu shouldn’t be playing with fire. It is dangerous. But one epic opener to the stage. Also, somehow Seventeen managed to insert a dance break in the midst of the stage, which I think earns a mention at the very least.
  • Hyuna’s Flower Shower – Her choreography is essentially the same as the one she performed in the past. But the chorus instrumental is changed slightly, which I thought made the stage a lot cooler for the end of year festival.
  • Taemin’s Move & Famous – MBC’s Music Festival had a theme, The Chemistry. And you can’t have a theme about Chemistry without Taemin. While he didn’t do anything special to Move‘s stage, his dance alone is already 100% fitting for a ‘Chemistry’ themed music festival.
  • (G)i-DLE’s Lion – Another reason to why we need to look out for this girl group is their special stages. Lion is practically a game changer for the group.
  • Lovelyz’s Beautiful Day – I really like their ballad start to their stage and how they built it back up to the original song in an effortless manner.

[Review] Boom – NCT Dream

After Mark left the group as he was ‘of age’ at the end of 2018, NCT Dream disappeared from the radar. SM Entertainment primarily focused on NCT 127 for the first half of 2019, which was disappointing for fans of the younger subunit.  But that was changed last month when NCT Dream (excluding Haechan) collaborated with HRVY for the SM Station release, Don’t Need Your Love (which I have continued to enjoy since reviewing it). And today, the young subunit (including Haechan) made their official comeback with Boom, their first since We Go Up and Candlelight (Both releases still featured Mark as a member).

The teasers for Boom were very suspenseful, which lead me to have high expectations for this track. And boy, does NCT Dream fulfil these expectations. The last time we got an edgy sound from NCT Dream to this extent was through their Go promotions. But I wasn’t much of a fan of that song. Boom, on the other hand, sounds more refined and stylish. The vocals and rapping give me flashback to their We Go Up hip-hop style, which I thought was very nice. I thought the chorus was very cool with the ‘Boom Boom Boom‘ repetition. I just wanted more too the song in terms of instrumentation. Here, everything was very subtle in nature. With a title Boom, you would expect that things would become explosive. But everything felt like it was toned down. A better way of describing it was that the song was kept in ‘low bass’ gear. But other than that, Boom was a pretty cool track and sone I can absolutely see dominate my phone while I am out and about.

The music video went straight for that edgy vibe, shifting away from that carefree vibe we got from We Go Up or anything youthful the subunit used to release. Visually, I thought the video was quite good. The members looked nice. The sets really felt appropriate, even though they don’t necessarily go with one another. It seems like the majority of the music video was shot with Haechan still busy with his NCT 127 promotions overseas, which was fair. He did join in towards the end of the music video, which is a good thing (rather than omitting him entirely). But why didn’t SM Entertainment wait that extra week or until schedules clear up to allow Haechan to film alongside the rest of the group. I thought his absence was meant to be part of the plotline but rewatching the video, it didn’t really seem so. They just added him randomly to the group/choreography shots at the end.

The choreography here is awesome. The chorus, in particular, looked very cool, matching the sleek and stylish atmosphere present in the song. I did think the choreography was slow at first. But I think after watching the performance a few times, the slowness felt intentional. But I really liked how they kicked the intensity up a notch for the end, bring the performance to an explosive energised end.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[Review] Don’t Need Your Love – NCT Dream X HRVY

Note that I have put Yesung’s Pink Magic review on hold until later this week, with hopes that there will be a live stage. 

Noticeably absent from the NCT universe thus far this year is the presence of NCT Dream. At the end of last year, Mark graduated from NCT Dream due to his age and since then, we haven’t heard much from the subunit. That was up until the 6th of June 2019 when NCT Dream (with the exception of Haechan as well) released their collaboration single with HRVY (an English artist born in 1999 and has released many singles since his debut back in 2013), titled Don’t Need Your Love. The single was released as part of the SM Station 3 series.

To me, the track is typical of what you would hear on the Western music scene or the radio. Nothing fancy when it comes to the collaboration. But there might be some good coming from this track that I would like to touch on. The vocals from both artists were probably the best part. One thing that I always reiterated, however, is that simplicity can be good. In no way do I find this a perfect song, as the word ‘bland’ might be an excellent description of the song. But its simple beat and typicalness come off very pleasant and soothing, which might sound odd to you (and hypocritical of me, based on what I have said thus far). Another thing I find that satisfies me is its timing. A lot of the music I listen to happens to be KPOP (or indie music if we are talking about my Western tastes). So to hear something like this amongst my current playlist is actually refreshing. But as confusing as it sounds, I can guarantee, one too many listen of this song can result in it being skipped for another.

The music video features the NCT Dream members and HRVY as well. And it too didn’t feel remotely connected to KPOP, which I find to be surprising. I don’t know what really sets a KPOP video apart from Western video. But I assume colours, boxed sets and flashy cinematography during choreography scenes to be key characteristics. The cinematography, in this case, was crisper and more defined than any video I have reviewed over the past few years.

With all SM Station releases (with the exception of 1), there has not been a live performance for any of the releases. So anything regarding the choreography is solely based on the music video. Based on my simple YouTube search, it seems HRVY has also dabbled in choreography before. So it isn’t surprising to see him do quite well in this performance. But ti seemed to be a simple routine, for a simple song and release.

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

[Review] Candle Light – NCT Dream

Voting closes in 3 DAYS. If you have yet to vote for NCT Dream or any of our other favourite artists for this year’s KPORPEVIEWED Awards, click here to do so NOW before you miss out!

We all thought wrong when we all thought that We Go Up was the final release before Mark’s graduation from NCT Dream. Yesterday, NCT Dream released an SM Station single titled Candle Light. But since Mark’s graduation has been confirmed the for the 31st of December, Mark is still present in the unit group for the new song release. The video does still allude to the impending event but that is something to talk about later on in the review.

Candle Light is best described as a mid-tempo ballad that conveys the message of wishing to be with someone. The song has this bright yet warming atmosphere to it, which can be attributed to the instrumental of the song. And hence, the message felt well suited for the style the song went with. The song is also a departure from their usual releases, which is more vocally centred this time around. This highlights the vocals of all the members, which isn’t something that we have experienced before. There was some rapping, which I thought was extremely fitting for the song.  It is a solid song but it lacks memorability, in my opinion. If they nailed that, it would have been a perfect song. But Candle Light is still pleasant sounding and definitely a nice way to end the year of KPOP.

The music video was very well done. The members are directing a music video in this music video. We see then struggle with a whole bunch of bloopers and technical issues. In the end, we are shown the ‘final product’, which featured all the members excluding Mark, alluding to his upcoming graduation in the coming days. The way he presents his rap, with all the members sitting in front of him (and one seat vacant) really hits home that this is happening. The video also seemed to be incorporate elements from NCT Dream’s previous releases including chewing gum (from Chewing Gum), mini cars (from My First & Last) and the word ‘Go’ (from Go). Definitely, a nice way to signal the end of a chapter for the unit.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Album Review] We Go Up (2nd Mini Album) – NCT Dream

Despite already releasing a full-length album along with the other 2 NCT subunits, NCT Dream returned 2 weeks back with their second mini-album to date, We Go Up. I touch upon this during my song and album review of We Go Up but this is Mark’s last release with the group as he prepares for graduation from NCT Dream. But do not worry, as he (along with Haechan) will be returning next month as part of NCT 127 for their official first full-length album, so keep your eyes open for that album review. But we are here for NCT Dream, so let’s get moving along!

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We Go Up Album Cover

1..We Go Up (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of We Go Up. (9/10)

2. 1,2,3 – Changing up their style, the group’s second song on the album consist of a softer tone but remaining within that pop tune sound. And its lightness is well appreciated as I think (apart from the title song) 1,2,3 is my favourite track on the album. Vocals were nice and pleasant, while the rapping during the bridge gave the song what it needed (i.e. intensity which pairs well with the soft sound). My favourite part would have to the chorus, especially the ‘1,2,3’ lines as they felt well balanced and nostalgic. (9/10)

3. Beautiful Time (너와 나)Beautiful Time describes the nice memories of a relationship, reminiscent of the good old days. The tone of the song seems to go towards that direction, but I thought it was relatively interesting how the instrumental during the chorus felt like it encroaching the upbeat side of music. In a way, it presents a cheerful tone to the song, which sets the song’s tone. I am, however, not much of a fan of their vocals and rapping in this song. It was good, but I just didn’t feel connected with them despite many listens. (7/10)

4. Drippin’Dripppin’ is a very intriguing song for its unique sound. It contains trap elements within its instrumentation, but it doesn’t go completely in that direction. I personally think the vocals bring a slight hip-hop influence to the song and they nailed the vocal components in my opinion. The little falsetto ending to the lines during the verses added a little kink and uniqueness to the song, which I thought gave it some character. The rapping during the verses was also quite good though they could have been more intensified to make the song even better. (8/10)

5. Dear DREAM – Ending the album is a bitter-sweet song. To put it into some context – Mark, who is the oldest member and 20 y/o, is graduating from NCT Dream as it is intended to be a group for members who are in their teens. If you look at the entire song, it is basically send off for Mark. I personally didn’t notice this section of the song until I read about it in the comments, but Mark’s final rap line was “Hope we always feel like-” and the rest of the members vocalise ‘home’ in the background. I thought was well played and showed the meaning behind the song in basically one line. The sweet side of the song is amazing vocals and rapping that filled the song. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

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We Go Up Teaser Image

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] We Go Up – NCT Dream

NCT Dream is known for their youthful image and sound. And they will continually do just that. But as members get older, they don’t necessarily fit the image anymore. Thus, NCT Dream is a rotational unit made up of teenagers and members will graduate from the group as they are of age. Basically, SM Entertainment confirmed that Mark will be leaving the lineup. Thus, this makes We Go Up Mark’s last comeback as part of the NCT Dream. So let’s have one close look at Mark’s final song with the group.

We Go Up takes that hip-hop style that was present during their Go promotions earlier in the year, combining it with that youthful sound that they are known for. The resulting combination actually comes together quite nicely. The instrumentation felt very trendy and very energetic. There were cowbells and when that is used well (like in this song), it adds another layer of appeal.  The chorus was definitely catchy and had this suspenseful feel to it, which I quite liked.  The rap verses reminded me of the 90s, while the vocals were quite nice. Though, I felt like the vocals could have had some more colour to it, like how the raps stood out. Overall, the song was definitely an improvement from their Go days but still retaining that sound.

Knowing how this is Mark’s final promotion round with Dream, I noticed a lot of the video felt like a send-off for Mark. While all the members were sleeping, Mark was the one walking around the room (There was a scene where Chenle was walking around but he notices the hourglass is almost up, so he realizes that Mark is about to leave). Within his sleep, he reminisces about the fun events they had together. Overall, I thought it was a nice video, and if my perspective is right, quite touching as well.

You might have waited for this review to be published last night (and I apologise if you did). However, I actually decided to wait a day for the start of their live promotions. I thought their choreography was quite powerful and fitting for the hip-hop style they went for in the song.

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

[Album Review] NCT 2018 Empathy (1st Studio Album) – NCT

The 18 members have come together to release their very first full-length album. While the does feature the 4 pre-releases released this year from each subunit, the majority of the songs are credited as NCT U tracks (due to its rotational nature). On top of the 4 subunit releases, the album features tracks from a few years back (some which you may recognise as you go down the tracklist). The album also contains 4 other tracks (an intro, outro and the Chinese version of the Without You and an extended version of Yestoday) but per usual, they have been omitted. Many songs (and links) to get through, so here is my album review.

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NCT 2018 Empathy Album Cover

2. Boss (NCT U)Click here to read the full review of Boss. (9.3/10)

3. Baby Don’t Stop (NCT U)Click here to read the full review of Baby Don’t Stop. (9.5/10)

4. Go (NCT Dream)Click here to read the full review of Go. (6.8/10)

5. Touch (NCT 127)Click here to read the full review of Touch. (9/10)

6. Yestoday (NCT U) – This NCT U track features Taeyong, Lucas, Mark and Doyoung. This particular track isn’t that bad, much smoother than what is about to come. The song feels like it could have been enhanced with a visually aesthetic video. The song alone doesn’t carry much weight but it has a nice melodic feel to it that makes it sound nice (especially with all the high energy and EDM we have heard thus far). I also appreciate the jazzy instrumental, for the same reasons above.  Doyoung gets to showcase his nice vocals, while the other 3 do a nice job with the raps. (8/10)

7. Black On Black – This is the first song that features all 18 members of NCT in the performance. The song actually only features 3 members (Taeyong, Mark and Lucas). Black On Black, to me, is NCT’s version of EXO’s Growl. Mainly due to the growling that features throughout the song. I am not too conflicted with the track, despite it changing its sound so many times. While ‘flow’ isn’t a word that applies to this song in any way, the choppy feel that the song did manage to give out gives the song a charming point. It is also its downfall, however, as it would give me a headache if I listened to it multiple times on repeat. Glad I haven’t (yet).  (7/10)

8. Timeless (NCT U) Click here to read the full review of Timeless. (9.6/10)

9. The 7th Sense (NCT U)Click here to read the full review of The 7th Sense. (5/10 – I have bumped this up from the original score of 4.5/10)

10. Without You (NCT U)Click here to read the full review of Without You. (8.5/10 – I have bumped this up from the original score of 7.5/10)

12. Dream In A Dream (Ten Solo)Click here to read the full review of Dream In A Dream. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

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NCT 2018 Empathy Teaser Image

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[Review] Go – NCT Dream

NCT Dream is the next NCT subunit to be releasing a new track (Go) ahead of NCT’s confirmed 2018 full-length album, which will be released later this month. Go joins the recent releases, Boss and Baby Don’t Stop, which are all pre-release singles for the album. This is also NCT Dream’s first comeback since last year, with their most recent song being Joy (an SM Station release).

Go is a complete turn around in NCT Dream’s typical sound, who usually releases more youthful sounds and songs. The song is more intense and definitely a lot more serious (if I were to describe their song). That can be attributed to the hip-hop sound that seems to be infused with the EDM. There is a lot of buffering effects and synths in the instrumental, which gives it that roughness that allows for a complete change in concept. The chorus of the song wasn’t that apparent to me the first time listening to the song but it was when all the members were chanting the ‘We So Young, We So Freaky‘.  I do find it slow and a little too dragged out for my liking. The singing was pretty good, with Haechan’s high note really well done. The raps (which is this song is loaded with) is pretty good as well. Personally, I feel like the song could have worked as a side track for NCT 127. The only reason why I think this wasn’t the case was due to the lyrics, which suited Dream more. It is still a good track, either way.

As mentioned previously, the song’s sound and elements allowed for a change in concept. Earlier this morning, while I flipped through the YouTube comments for the video, someone described it as the rebellious phase of the groups. Props to that person though because they described the video very well. Some parts of the video looked cool, almost like a home video style of their adventures. I also liked the choreography shots throughout the video. However, for the most part, the video was rather dry and didn’t really feel that interesting to watch. There were some likeable aspects but not all were strong.

[Updated] As mentioned previously, this particular performance didn’t seem up to par with their past performances or anything we did see in the last week. Everything was extremely fitting for the music style but as cheesy as it was, their youthful elements in their past performances were their main charm.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 6/10 [updated]
Overall Rating – 6.8/10 [updated]

 

[Review] Joy – NCT Dream

NCT Dream is nominated in Best Subunit for this year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards, while NCT is also nominated for Best Boy Group. If you have yet to support them or any other of your favourites, click the link here to get voting!

SM Entertainment has taken the Christmas season to a whole new level with multiple Christmas and Winter themed tracks for the very fast approaching holiday season. Last week, Taeyeon kicked things off with her solo title track, This Christmas. On Friday, NCT Dream marked their return with their first SM Station track, Joy.

Joy takes my surprise due to its upbeat nature. Upbeat Christmas songs have been done before, so I don’t know why I am so surprised about the idea of it. They managed to incorporate the traditional sounds of Christmas, giving the songs of the holiday season a modern sound. However, the upbeat nature has its down-side. It doesn’t feel right. Instead, it seemed to make the song feel quite complicated and had too much going on at certain parts. The chorus features two widely known Christmas songs, Joy To The World and Jingle Bells, but instead of making a full mash-up with the two songs, they only took the iconic line from each song to form the chorus. Their vocal work was nice and the raps were cool. Though I did have a laugh with Mark’s words during the second rap chorus, mainly because they felt really random at those moments. 

The music video was very golden. The choice of colours in the music video created a warm atmosphere, which is definitely a suitable aspect of the video. However, some of the stuff that was occurring didn’t reflect the Winter/Christmas season that accurately. Like you can do face-painting during the Christmas season but it doesn’t feel Christmas-related, which is clearly what the video is aiming for. As for some of the other scenes (such as the glitter scenes), it looked like the director focused more on aesthetics than the actual Christmas season. It isn’t a major issue but it does bug me to an extent.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7/10

 

[Review] We Young – NCT Dream

NCT has made their return to the stage with their youngest subunit, NCT Dream. NCT has already had two NCT 127 comebacks this year and We Young marks NCT Dream’s second comeback of 2017, the first being My First & Last.

We Young is a very bland song. The first time I heard it, I thought they were going to mash up the two NCT 127 and NCT Dream styles that they are known for. But it ended being quite lackluster in the end. The sound isn’t the bad aspect of the song. I thought the instrumental was quite nice, which ended up being a Summer time sound with its tropical-inspired sounds (almost resembling safari music that you would hear in cartoons as you were growing up!).I think the reason why I didn’t like the song was the various tempos. The first half was just very boring and sluggish. It wasn’t until the raps kicked in that I felt it could turn out to be a decent song. The raps seem to give it some speed, which made the song feel more energetic and upbeat. The other problem is the song didn’t seem to react to their lift from the raps. Instead, the song remained in that neutral stance and the vocals in the second half didn’t feel that different from the slow start. Overall, I don’t mind the song but it is not to my taste. And it doesn’t match or compare with their debut or recent comeback.

I did expect something a little more imaginative with their comeback.  While they did tick the imaginative box nicely, the presentation of it looked rushed and last-minute. I am mainly talking about the green screen effect that they used in the video for the choreography scenes. It looked cheesy and kind of awful, in my eyes. The solo shots were fine and actually, they reminded me of their first video. But the choreography shots were major no-nos. It seems like the guys are telling the cartoon girl to have some fun and enjoy life while they are all young, which I thought was a nice message.

The same comments could be said for the performance. I don’t know why but I expected something a little more fun. I think that built up from the expectations from their last comeback. While at times it did look like a party but other times it just didn’t feel right. Though, they were in sync and that looked cool.

Song – 6/10
Music Video- 5/10
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 5.5/10

 

[Review] My First and Last – NCT Dream

NCT 127 kicked off the year for NCT with their promotions for Limitless. Now NCT Dream has returned with a brand new song, My First and Last. NCT Dream made their debut last year with the super cutesy and youthful Chewing Gum, a completely different vibe from their 127 or U counterparts.

My First and Last follows that same notion of setting Dream apart from 127 and U. The song still delves into that cutesy but with a more mature sound to it. Actually, the correct word to describe the song is ‘youthful’. It’s a simple song. Not saying that in a mean way, but rather, I am referring to the overall sound and structure of the song. The song is super addictive and catchy. For a dance track, the instrumental is very soft but still enough for you to notice it. Many KPOP songs nowadays rely on a more heavy or hard sounding instrumental such as in dubstep or for a tougher vibe. Instead, this song relies on a more pop sound. Their vocals are the main focus. They stood out with the soft instrumental. The harmony during the chorus really does wonders with the song, bringing out that youthful side. The rapping was pretty good. I am a big fan of Mark’s “Let’s talk about love” rap than the one situated as the bridge. There was a lot more colour in the favoured rap sequence. But regardless, the two main components, vocals (including rapping for this point) and instrumental, goes hand in hand with each other and really make the song quite enjoyable to listen to. Give the song a try and see if it works for you.

The video recently became under fire for sexualizing the female teacher in it. But I think those people (ah netizens) are over-reacting. Just because she is wearing tight clothing and walking in slow-motion doesn’t mean they are sexualising her. And besides, most people have had an attractive teacher before. So, there really isn’t anything wrong about it. Essentially, the teacher are the guy’s first love and try to get her attention. They indeed fail because her eyes are set for the husband she marries and the child she has, which was revealed at the end of the video. But the way they get her attention is quite interesting. First, they try the “let’s misbehave in class” method. That didn’t work, so they decided to build functioning carts out of cardboard. Because everyone would want to drive or get picked up in a really cool car (or cart in this case). Honestly, someone give these guys an A+ for their technology, woodwork and science classes. Trust me, because I am half way through university and there is no way I can do what they were doing. Overall, the video is quite cool to watch.

Another amazing choreography. And this time, they don’t need hoverboards. Instead, the dance portrays the youthful side once again. I am quite sure the dance at the second chorus was meant to invoke childhood memories. But the highlight of the whole choreography is when the members hold onto each other’s legs (while lying on their side) and pull themselves closer to each other. That looked cool!

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.5/10

KPOPREVIEWED 2016 Awards – Part 1

I am officially back everyone. And finally, I am moving along with the posts. This is the replacement to the normal Best of the Bests that I do at the end of each year. Essentially, they are the same thing, just a different name for them. This is just for fun and is just my thoughts relayed into a post. I did want to include you guys in the voting this time around, but because of my vacation, I had skipped over it. Maybe next year, if nothing pops up.

I usually post the nominees up in a separate post. However, because of time constraints, I have linked the nominees on a separate page by clicking the link below, instead of writing them out.

CLICK FOR THE NOMINEES AND CHECK OUT THE WINNERS FOR PART 1 BELOW


RISING STAR AWARD

This award goes to the groups that have seen the most growth in 2016. Past winners have risen from the rookie status (usually) or ‘nugu’ status and conquered the year they were awarded in. Looking back there are a number groups that took over 2016. But the rising star award goes to Twice and Seventeen. It is quite obvious why. Both groups had a following already in 2015 but 2016 saw more success, proving them to be a force to look out for.


BEST INSTRUMENTAL

This award is self-explanatory, given to the song that has the best instrumental. This is something that I talk about in review and is vital to the song (though I have heard amazing acapella in the past). It seems like simple took out the award this year with the instrumental of The Rain by Ladies Code taking out the award. But don’t worry because the EDM based song Fire by BTS took out Honourable Mention.


BEST COMEBACK

Comeback after comeback after comeback. It is like shifting through a needle in a haystack. Any artist could have been nominated for this but I chose VIXX as the winner for this. Their comebacks have been consistent but unique each time. Their releases have you asking what they have planned next. As for honourable mentions, BTS takes it. Given their releases in the past year, I have to say I was very impressed.


BEST SUBUNIT

It seems like subunits have dropped off the trends list this year. Actually, they have become quite rare. That being said, there have been some notable subunits in 2016. My pick for the winner is EXO-CBX, which consists of Chen, Baekhyun and Xiumin. Their song, Hey Mama, was extremely catchy and fun to listen to. Honourable mention go to NCT Dream for their release of the fun and equally catchy Chewing Gum (plus they performed on hoverboards).


BEST RAPPER

Not a big fan of rapping but I have to be honest, there are many great rappers here that show me otherwise. A few rappers in idol groups have released mixtapes this year as part of their solo work, further showing their influence on the industry. The winner I have chosen is Zico (Block B). All of his solo releases and collaborations have been extremely popular and successful in the past year. Honourable mention goes  Suga (BTS), whose mixtape and work within BTS have also amazed me this year.


BEST VOCALIST

Vocals are something that I admire the most. So, it was rather hard for me to narrow down just 5 nominees, particularly since there were more shows where vocalists of different idol groups and actors/actresses could participate in. My radar jumped when I heard the winner sing on those shows. I am talking about Sandeul (B1A4), whose voice sounded amazing in his solo work and collaborations on Duet Song Festival. I chose Mamamoo for honourable mention as their vocals are no joke, slaying with almost everything they release.


BEST COLLABORATION

Collaborations are still popular and with SM Entertainment’s SM Station in full effect for 2016, we saw a more diverse range of collaborations that have never been seen before. My pick for the best collaboration of 2016 is Hit Me by MOBB, which is a collaboration between Mino (Winner) and Bobby (iKON). Honourable mentions go to Tiffany (SNSD) and SanE for their SM Station track, Heartbreak Hotel.


BEST NON-TITLE SONG

These songs include songs that were simply released as a part of the album but forgotten as it was never promoted. Some of them were performed with the title track for one week but have since not been performed. Songs that deserve some sort of recognition as well. My pick of honourable mention is I Miss You by Mamamoo, which was included in their first studio album. The winner of the best non-title song goes to Sistar with their track: String. String is actually one of the few songs that are not a title track that was replayed constantly on my phone.


To find the second part of the 2016 KPOPREVIEWED Awards, Click Here!!!

 

[Review] Chewing Gum – NCT Dream

NCT is back (once again) but this time with a brand new subunit, NCT Dream. This new subunit consist of 7 members: Mark (who has also debuted with NCT 127 and NCT U), Ren Jun, Jeno, Haechan (who is also a part of NCT 127), Jaemin, Chen Le and Jisung. Every time I hear this song, I have to let out a sigh.Their average age as a group is around 15 years old. I also did some research and all the members are younger than me. I feel old and am getting old.

This is another amazing song to add to the mix of recent releases. It is a completely different style to what the previous subunits have done. To be precise, this song is more pop than any of 127 or U’s releases. Furthermore, it is a completely different style to what SM puts out. It is such a colourful and bright song. It is damn catchy and addictive. “Chew-Chew-Chew-Chewing Gum“. It is easy to remember and you will be singing along in not time. Even the vocal work and the rapping in this song is pretty good. It doesn’t sound like a new debut group, but one that has tonnes of the experience in the bag. The instrumental is pretty nice as well. It was consistent throughout. No major slow downs to throw the track off its … track. Even when it came to the rap, the song remained true to itself and didn’t change in any way. So many songs do that and somehow manage to ruin the vibe and the flow of the song. This is by far the best NCT release yet, mainly because I fell for the song as soon as I heard it.

The music video is definitely colourful and vibrant. Fits in perfectly with the song and the concept. As the average age of the group is quite young, it makes sense for them to go for this concept, the scouts. Move over school boy concepts, make way for the boy scouts! It is pretty unique, to be honest, I give that to them. So, from what happened in the video, I guess the camp leader is not too big on chewing gum. He lines them up and makes the boys spit out whatever is in their mouth if he catches them chewing. My question is: why are you acting as if it is disgusting? You asked someone to spit on your hand. Even if you are not expecting chewing gum, I don’t think anything nice will be coming out… But per usual, you tell kids to do one thing and they will do the other. So they have a hidden stash and at night, they have fun. Until the guy comes in, so they have to hide. But somehow, they trap the camp leader guy with chewing gum… Okay, towards the end of the video, it becomes a little confusing. Despite that, the video was fun yet interesting to watch. Not complaining about anything here. I liked it a lot and I keep coming back to the video and watching it.

Hands down. This has to be one of the best dance performances of the year. They are dancing on freaking segways. I can’t even ride a segway. I never even seen one in real life. I am amazed. After one week of promotions, I am in awe. None of them has had a stuff up on the boards and they make it look like it too easy. Even when they are not on the boards, the guys still manage to blow me away with their moves. Damn… For a pop based song, I think the quality of the dance was excellent. All I can do is the water sprinkler and I still manage to look like a clumsy human being.

Honestly excellent debut. Final Rating – 9.5/10