[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from the First Half of 2018

With the first 6 months of 2018 officially over, it is time to look back at my personal favourite songs from the first half. Last week, I recapped the top songs from the Weekly KPOP Charts. But some songs that I personally liked didn’t really make that list. So here are 15 songs released over the last 6 months that are my personal favourites AND continually listen to (irrespective of the charts and the reviews – as opinions do change).

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[Special] Missed Reviews – Music Videos

Please note these special posts are designed to be long and may require some time to read (if you plan on reading the entire post).

In some cases, some groups extend their promotional period by promoting a new song. And in some of these cases, the groups also released a music video for the follow-up song. Usually, these music videos are released after I have published my album review and hence I don’t go back to do a separate review (as I have already done a short one for the song). So, I dedicate this week’s special post to return to some of those missed music videos and do a quick rundown.

Initially, my plans for this post would be over two weeks. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is enough for two weeks. So I have scrapped the second week and will do the entire list of 6 songs today. I may return to do more ‘Missed Reviews’ special posts in the future, in case I find myself in a similar position.


Lady – Golden Child

As part of their Miracle album promotions, Golden Child followed up their It’s U promotions with Lady, which received a 9.5/10 rating on the respective album review. I actually think the group, despite their youthful charms, can do extremely well with this mature concept. The heartbreak can be seen throughout the video, as the members deal with their one-sided love. While dancing on top of a building has been done before, it looks really good here. I feel like when the members all sing together, the video could have focused entirely on all the members in the choreography shots (like for the first chorus) as they enhance the epic sound of the chorus. But overall, it is one good video that compliments the song perfectly.


Black On Black – NCT 2018

I wanted to review Black On Black like a normal song-mv-performance review, however, they didn’t get around to promoting the track until weeks after the album (and album review) was released. On the album review, the song was given a 7/10 ranking. Black On Black was a relatively simple video, which showcases a very complex choreography. The members were all wearing black, fitting for the song’s title. What I did like was the set of the video. Despite it being the one set, it was shown in 3 different lighting settings, which made it feel like 3 different sets entirely. I know the ending was meant to show all the member but I found the random zoom up into Taeyong’s belt really odd. Other than that, pretty good video.


Yestoday – NCT U

It was clear that NCT received a large budget for their multiple music videos and I guess there was enough left over for a 6th music video. Yestoday is sung by NCT U (made up of Taeyong, Doyoung, Lucas and Mark) and received an 8/10 rating. It is okay to say that I like this music video more than some of the others? Because I was very impressed with what was given to us. While the song had this jazzy feel, I felt like the video was more edgy, which I thought was a great contrast. Simplicity was the key but they did a lot of the video post-production which made it likeable and interesting. I liked the random inserts of images that flash by throughout the video.


SObeR – Suzy

At the time of writing any of the reviews, I don’t think I was aware of any news that Suzy had shot three different music videos for four of her tracks. The first of which is SObeR, which received a 9/10. And with that title, it kind of makes sense that the video will be set partly in a bar. To me, it was a ‘fun’ themed video, where Suzy acted wild and drunk, in order to woo her interest. In the end, she confessed that she wasn’t sober, which I guess could be a fun game at the club (PS. Not a club person here). I thought the various sets or places she filmed at had this elegant vibe which suits Suzy, who is considered to be South Korea’s top actresses. I also liked it how she didn’t go over the top in this video, which could easily have occurred. But it kept to her image and ended up being a nice video to watch.


Teenager – GOT7

This is the one video released last year which I never got the chance to look at. Teenager was featured on GOT7’s 7th mini-album (7 for 7) and I gave the song an 8/10 rating. The video focused primarily on the choreography. Despite that, it was still a high-quality video which I thought it was rather cool to watch. I really liked the visual effects that were shown at the start of the video. I like how the video cuts between black and white to colour. Also liked how the background complimented the hip-hop style of the song, while also adding an edge. The members also looked good (including Jinyoung’s golf pants). It is a simple video done well.


One and Only One – GOT7

One and Only One is the pre-release single for GOT7’s 8th mini-album, released earlier this year. It received an 8/10 rating, as well. What we have isn’t technically a music video. Rather, it showcases the song for a minute and that is all. I did like the blue background and how simple the video was (like above). I think if we got a longer video with some flashing lights and maybe a few different colours in the background, along with Hyolyn actually featuring the video and some choreography, the video would have been amazing. Or at least, what I think the video could have been.


Distance – CLC

Distance is a single off their 7th mini-album and the accompanying music video was released after promotions for Black Dress ended. In the respective album review, Distance received a 7/10 rating. The music video, on the other hand, would have received something much higher. I don’t know how to exactly describe the video. It can either be about heartbreak or something more sinister. The cutting of the rope can be about breaking up and physical distance. But the members disappearing, the blindfolding and just the fact they wear white alludes to something else. I have no idea what it is, though. On top of that, I thought it was a really nice video that complimented the softer nature of the song.


Thanks to all who stuck around to the end. This wraps up this special post (for the time being as I may bring it back as more music videos or songs accumulate). I will be back in two weeks time with special posts dedicated to even more music videos, so do keep an eye open for those! (Or make it easier by following me!)

[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] Baby Don’t Stop – NCT U

Just one week after their official comeback with Boss, NCT U has just dropped a brand new track, Baby Don’t Stop. What I recently found out is that NCT U is a rotational unit, hence its lineup is not fixed. This explains why the lineup for NCT U keeps on changing every time they release a song. Baby Don’t Stop features Taeyong and Ten (who was not part of Boss promotions).

This time last week, I was amazed at Boss. One week later and I am amazed at Baby Don’t Stop. Even with two members, NCT U definitely has 2018 under its grasp. Baby Don’t Stop has a really addictive beat to it and its repetition of the title is engraved into your mind after just one listen. Like literally, I could not stop humming the song since I listened to it this morning. I am going to be raving on about the repetition for a little more, so bear with me. It starts off as Taeyong’s whisper and it builds-up into a vocal line with the addition of Ten. This combination really makes it a strong aspect of the song. Another strong aspect of the song has to be the layering. Ten’s ad-libs in the background, Taeyong’s vocals and the husky whisper repetition just forms a breathtaking trinity, leaving me stunned. To top it off, both members got their chance to shine through their rapping and vocals. Baby Don’t Stop has pushed the bar up higher and that makes it harder for the rest of 2018 releases.

The entire video was actually quite nice to watch. I like the sets. Everything is pieced together quite nicely. From the top of your head, you don’t really think a bunch of empty seats and chairs would make a good video but it works naturally. Fans also got some fan-service with the duo flaunting their abs around in the latter half of the video. My only main concern with the video is their health. They look so skinny (and this is coming from a skinny guy as well). Hopefully, they (and all idols) are eating well enough for their schedules and releases.

The choreography to this looks really cool. I don’t have much to say about the performance besides that and any other adjective that could be substituted for cool. For the ending, it looks like they were doing some freestyling, which I think makes it even cooler.

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

[Review] Boss – NCT U

NCT has big plans for 2018, with promises for comebacks for all three units. NCT U is the first unit to make their grand return. This is their first comeback for the unit after their debut in 2016 (they were notably absent from stage in 2017). NCT U’s return also features 3 new additions including NCT 127 member Winwin and new NCT members Jungwoo and Lucas.

I wasn’t much of a fan of NCT U’s previous works. But hearing Boss, I find this track quite good. The entire song has a very minimalistic feel to it. It doesn’t have much going on in terms of content-wise. But quality wise, it is quite powerful. The song opens with that really addictive thumping beat which definitely grabs your attention. This thumping is played continuously throughout the song and despite it being repeated, you don’t get tired of it. The vocals and rapping add to the song, building it up from the bare foundations. The vocals added some flair, while the rapping added some intensity to the song, which is why I think the song is so good. The chorus has the rap-speaking technique, almost like a chant. It doesn’t feel like the hook of the song but it works well as the chorus. My favourite part of the entire track is the overlapping of the raps by Taeyong and Mark for the bridge of the song. To sum up, Boss is an aesthetically pleasing song to listen to (and my new favourite from the subunit). 

And this has to be NCT’s most aesthetically pleasing music video to date. There is something about the visuals in this video that yells out badass. You can tell that there was a lot of intensity from the very start, which gives it a promising start. I like the cinematography quite a bit, which definitely adds the aesthetic to the video. The video does seem to compliment that minimalistic vibe that was coming from the song, as the video doesn’t have much going on. But in many ways, it is still a really good video to watch.

If you want power, edgy and intensity in just one stage performance, I have the perfect one for you. Boss embosses all of that and any other anger associated word that can describe the choreography in a good way. I particularly like the dance at the end of the song (where Taeyong looks the angriest at 3:06).

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

 

[Review] Timeless​ – NCT U

As you can see for the past few days I have been catching up on a number of reviews which I had planned to do but kept pushing around due to not having enough time. But it always better late than never! Timeless, released two weeks back as part of the SM Station, is the last of these late reviews. It also marks the return of NCT U (in the form of three members – Taeil, Doyoung and Jaehyun), the only NCT subunit who did not have a comeback in 2017.

Timeless is a ballad that I will admit I overlooked when it first came out. However, I am glad I revisited the track after a little while because it truly is a really decent track to listen to. The vocals of each member, particularly those who handled the chorus, were mind-blowing. And that is why I keep on going back to this track now because it is so good. There wasn’t much harmony in the song but when harmonies did appear (particularly the high note at the end), it was so good. The melody was really flowy, which also attracted my attention. The instrumental was your typical ballad instrumental with the piano and strings but gave off that swaying effect, which I tend to comment on in these reviews. Overall, I am glad I returned to relisten to this track because it is definitely a good one.

The entire video was shot live. This time around there were not instrumentations in the background but only the members singing into the microphone. And for some reason, the live vocals were more noticeable than the other live video (performed by 10CM and Chen). It is a relatively simple video in both is visual appeal and style, which is something I tend to like.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.6/10

[DOUBLE REVIEW] The 7th Sense + Without You – NCT U

SM Entertainment has unleashed their latest group. The newly debuted group is NCT, and NCT U is the first subunit of the group to debut. Now the concept of the band is ridiculously confusing.  Apparently, they are this large group consisting of an unspecified amount of members. The members are rotated around constantly, so I guess we will be able to see new faces every time they come back. I read somewhere that this is the way the company wants to avoid another EXO dilemma, giving members ample time to rest until it is their next turn. Really confusing and I think there is a lot more to the group that what I have specified. Anyway, NCT U is the first subunit of the group and consists of Taeyong, Ten, Jaehyun, Mark, Taeil and Doyoung.

The 7th Sense, to me, is a terrible song. I avoid listening to this song every time it pops up in the playlist when I am listening on YouTube or iTunes. The song gives me a headache essentially. It is electronic, but then it is really slow and that doesn’t really sit well with me. It does have an exotic feel to it, which is interesting, but it has no appeal to me. The song feels dragged out. Their vocals in this song aren’t that great as well. The song isn’t catchy and I am greatly disappointed by it. Maybe it might because I am not used to the song and isn’t something you find constantly in KPOP, but sadly, it is not a song I am fond of.

Without You is the complete opposite. I love everything about this song. There is nothing that I would look down upon because this the type of song I enjoyed listening to when growing up. It sounds like American bands that were popular back in the 00’s. When I listen to this song, I find myself rocking along and singing along as well. That is the whole point of KPOP right? To make it so catchy that the listeners start listening along.  Their vocals were superb. Yeah, it does feel dragged out, but the tone and tune of the song are just so good, it makes me overlook that tiny detail. And don’t get me started on the chorus.

Music video wise, I actually have not watched any of them. Odd hey? Anyway, the music video for the 7th Sense makes sense. The song is already unique for the listeners, so it is obvious the music video is also unique. It gives off that exotic feel that I mentioned above. Sure the lighting could have been a little better, but hey, that is the charm of the video. The solid colour filters (or did they film the video with red lights?) looked pretty cool. It seems I actually like the video more than the song. Just going to prove how hypocritical I am, but the end where they have a clear colour light or filters, made it look boring I actually preferred the coloured scenes, but maybe they could have gone with one shade of red lighter. Without You is an abstract video. Probably the right word to use to sum up the video. And like everything that is abstract, it is really confusing. The plot seems to show the guys in two realities. One with their girlfriend, the other without her. And somehow they are mashed into one reality. The one thing I would have removed from the video were all the scenes involving the members lip-syncing to the song. It is just really awkward and didn’t fit in with the abstract nature of the video.  Out of the two videos, I do actually prefer 7th Sense. But if someone can clear up the confusion (you can probably crack the Da Vinci code as well) for the second video, then I would be grateful.

Not one to spend too long on the dance part. Only 7th Sense had a dance. Someone really needs to overhaul the fashion for these stages. It seems like there is a complete mash-up of the clothing over different eras. Dance matched the tempo of the song. The dance just doesn’t memorable to me. Without You is simply a band performance.

Overall, I am quite torn about the two debut songs. One of the songs I liked more, but the other’s video more. Dance doesn’t help pick a winner for me. But which was your favourite song/debut package? Vote below!!!

The 7th Sense – 4.5/10

Without You – 7.5/10