[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

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[Review] Long Flight – Taeyong (NCT)

This season SM STATION has made some changes which I think makes the program a little more interesting. Firstly, they have been delivering us new tracks on a fortnightly basis as opposed to their previously weekly timetable. Secondly, the focus seems to be more on SM Entertainment artists with many solo releases from EXO members in the past few months. But today, we do not see the release of an EXO-related single. Instead, it is NCT-related, with leader Taeyong releasing Long Flight for this week’s SM Station track.

Taeyong is one of the many versatile members of the NCT. He can sing, dance and rap, becoming a leading triple threat within the group. Long Flight‘s release attempts to demonstrate all of these in their utmost glory. Long Flight is an upbeat R&B track. And as much I want Taeyong to shine (as NCT and its subunits have far too many members to let every individual member be ‘showcased’), I find Long Flight to not 100% encompass all of this talent. I understand this song is self-composed and written by the man himself. But I think the sound was a little too typical for the music industry nowadays. I found the hooks (both lyrically and instrumentally) to be quite weak, not giving the song a chance to be memorable. But Taeyong’s execution of the singing and rapping was very good. I liked how he effortlessly went between singing and rapping, which does demonstrate his potential. That was probably the most impressive aspect of the track. Other than that, Long Flight isn’t the song for me.

What I did like was the music video. It felt like the music video got a decent budget, which isn’t always the same feeling when we look at other SM Station releases. The aeroplane set looked pretty cool. It kind of gives you an insight into show business. The outside did look like a real plane but the inside showed it was a built set. I guess that makes sense, especially since booking an aeroplane for a music video shoot would be costly. The rest of the sets looked cool as well. I also liked the colour palette. Not too pale but not too bold as well.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[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

[Album Review] We Are Superhuman (4th Mini Album) – NCT 127

It is time to restart the album review bandwagon for this site. Apologies for completely ditching this segment for the past few weeks. I really missed this segment but it just ate up so much of time, preparing and writing it up. But now with endless time on my hands, let’s get right back into it. One of the albums released at the end of May that I didn’t get around to reviewing is NCT 127’s We Are Superhuman. The album features the group’s latest comeback single, Superhuman, along with 4 other tracks.

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We Are Superhuman Album Cover

1..Highway To Heaven – To me, opening up with a song such as Highway To Heaven, makes me turn my head towards the screen or speakers. It isn’t necessarily a punchy track with extremely addictive hooks in my opinion, which might be expected of NCT and KPOP traditionally. Instead, it relies on the loudness of the chorus, simple synth-pop instrumentation and the fact that it brings all the members together for the chorus. And I think these are all effective tools if used smartly, which is the case here. While many groups have used these techniques before, NCT 127 doesn’t mess around by leaving things to the end or take too long to integrate these said techniques, making it a very prominent and memorable track on the album. (10/10)

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

3. Fool (아 깜짝이야) – Taking a massive turn from Superhuman is the more light-hearted tone in Fool. And personally, this is somewhat different from the NCT 127 that I usually know of. But I am not hating, because it gives us an opportunity to recover from the intensity of Superhuman. I like the direction of the track. The vocals and rapping were quite nice. Harmonies are something to really keep your ears open for. However, there is one thing that sticks out at me that I don’t really enjoy. The verses had only a layer of instrumentation, but the chorus felt like it had too many layers within the instrumentation. Including the vocals and backing, I feel like it was overloaded. (8/10)

4. Jet Lag (시차)Jet Lag is the ‘ballad’ on the album. There is a rather slow start to the track but it slowly does build up the tempo through the use of percussion. And I think the vocals were very beautiful, especially demonstrated by the smoothness of the vocals during the chorus. I just felt like the rappers did not really have much of an opportunity to feature in the track. While the producers did try to incorporate the rappers in the song by giving them a hip-hop-like and ‘fast’ section, I felt it was a mismatch considering the rest of the song. And I think this inclusion made the song a little confusing. Is it a ballad or not? (6/10)

5. Paper Plane (종이비행기)Paper Plane seems to be the most ideal track on the album for the Summer season. It is vibrant and colourful, which are terms that I have used to describe most of the Summertime songs thus far this year. The pop tune in the instrumental is addictive and fun sounding, as well. It is also an uplifting track, which makes it even more enjoyable to listen to. I really like the chorus of the track, which is a straight instrumental piece. The build-up to it was also quite nice. Vocally, I could tell all the members apart and I liked that aspect of being able to differentiate each member, which can sometimes be difficult. (9/10)

6. We Are 127 (Outro Track) – An outro like this makes me excited for what’s to come. There is a mixture of genres going on, all something that I expect from NCT 127. Apart from the ‘We Are 127’ repetition, there isn’t much else besides robustness and mysterious vibes in the outro. Hence, I have decided to leave it off the calculation for the album rating but wanted to mention my initial comments anyway.

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

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We Are Superhuman Teaser Image

[Review] Superhuman – NCT 127

The biggest news for NCT in 2019 thus far was the debut of their Chinese subunit, WayV. I do plan to go back to review their debut track at a later date, so watch this space. The next move from the mega group is the return of NCT 127 in South Korea. Today, the group returned with Superhuman, which they previously performed on Good Morning America back in April. The comeback track is featured on the group’s fourth mini-album, We Are Superhuman. This is also the group’s first comeback since Simon Says in Korea and Wakey-Wakey in Japan.

Based on the article by Soompi. the song is described as a ‘Complextro dance track with elements of EDM’. While my experience with music genres is quite limited, this is my first time hearing of this genre. So I think it would be safe to assume that this is the first of its kind in KPOP as well. Without the article. I would have described the song as a groovy EDM track with what seems to be a slight retro influence. I say this because the track felt something that SHINee would have released if they were still active as a group (Note – SHINee is currently in the army). It is right up the senior artist’s alley. Its unique style brings a mixture of different textures that allows the song to be very intriguing. I think the song does stand out vocally. I like how they push the vocals for the chorus, adding to the dynamics of the song. Also adding to this aspect are the raps. Like other NCT127 songs, the rapping does give the song some impact, despite the song already bring overloaded with a very memorable and punchy instrumental.

With its electronic style in its music, it is fair to assume that the music video would take a similar approach. Also fitting for the unit’s image is the fact that the video showcases a really edgy vibe. I think we could say it is their edgiest yet. I am not sure if everything comes together to form a story. Or if the video is just a bunch of solo shot and then choreography shots. I am leaning to the latter but there could be a slight possibility of the other. Watching the video, I felt the scenes built up with the music and this resulted in an awesome climatic ending.

To match the tempo and the electronic complexity of the track, the choreography had to be very powerful and complex. And NCT127 delivered in all aspects. I actually liked how they incorporated some sleek movements in their dance (i.e. the start and the start of each chorus). It was captivating and gripping in many ways.

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

[Review] Wakey-Wakey – NCT 127

Before we tick over to Sunday, it must be time to have a closer look at a Japanese release! The last we saw NCT 127 was through Simon Says in Korea and Chain in Japan. But as we are fast approaching mid-2019, we break the short NCT drought with Wakey-Wakey. This is the title track off their very first Japanese album, titled Awaken and is due for release mid-April. But due to the nature of the Japanese market, we are given the treat (and some long hair) a few weeks ahead of time.

Wakey-Wakey seems to take on the Black On Black side of NCT which we saw early last year. I would say both songs are quite similar in effect when you listen to them side-by-side. But by no means are they the same song. Wakey-Wakey focus on more brighter sounding instrumentation (with a lot less growling), featuring a lot of trap synths and a slight touch of R&B when you consider the vocals and the very start of the song. It suits NCT 127’s style remarkably. I think the very first thing that really grabs your attention with the song is the squeakiness of the instrumental. You may think this would be an off-putting element for me but I was actually fond of it because it gave something extra to the song. As mentioned, the vocals are nice and we are also treated to the return of Haechan (who only participates in the audio and music video for this comeback). I think the raps were also quite cool but I wanted more intensity alongside it, similar to the intensity brought upon by the dance break at the very end of the song.  Likewise, I didn’t really fall for the verses as much as compared to the rest of the song.

Matching the brightness of the song, the music video was intentionally colour for the most part.  I thought the sets were elaborate, especially during Haechan’s scenes. He doesn’t get to interact much with the other members but is still centred, which I thought was interesting. There has to be a reason for that right? (My assumption is that the members are trying to wake him up). Regardless, glad to see him back. What I am not too glad to see is Johnny’s long hair. I try my best not to comment on looks but sorry, it had to be touched on. (This is similar to any mullets or dreadlocks we see in KPOP. It just doesn’t work).

The choreography was quite cool  Going back to the start where I said the song sounded like Black On Black, the performance also reminded of Black‘s performance. Similarly, the start reminded me of EXO’s Tree of Life (I think that is what it is called) that featured during the group’s Wolf promotions. But they put their own spin on it.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[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

[Review] Hair In The Air – Yeri (Red Velvet), Renjun, Jeno & Jaemin (NCT)

Both Red Velvet and NCT are nominated in this year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Voting is underway and if you haven’t voted yet, click here to do so now!

For this week’s SM Station release, Yeri (from Red Velvet) and Renjun, Jeno and Jaemin (from NCT) join hands together for the special release of Hair In The Air, which is the main theme song for the new television series – Trolls: The Beat Goes On. The song features on a special OST album for the show and the album also contains a second track, Best Day Ever, featuring Haechan, Chenle and Jisung (from NCT as well). But we are here for Hair In The Air, so let’s get going.

Hair In The Air goes for a fun-filled and vibrant sound, suiting the animated show it will represent in South Korea. It has this positivity atmosphere that makes you want to smile and dance to. The pop instrumental for the song was consistent (in a good way) and gave the song that fun factor which I have already mentioned. It is super addictive so I can see it being used as a children’s show theme song. Yeri and Renjun take cares of the vocals in the song, while Jeno and Jaemin rap in the song. And I personally enjoyed both the vocals and raps in the song as they both add some flavour and textures to the song. It may just be a standard song to some but I thoroughly enjoyed its lightheartedness.

Like the song, the video is pretty much a lighthearted video. Not really meant to be taken seriously. Since it was for Trolls, I had expected some sort of Trolls animation throughout it. But instead, we have a party themed video with Yeri and the 3 featuring members from NCT. But it seems that this party is all in the book that Yeri is reading. There is a small bit of choreography for the video to compliment the fun style of the video. Rather simple but I enjoyed it.

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

[Album Review] Regulate (1st Repackaged Album) – NCT 127

NCT is nominated for Best Male Group, while NCT Dream and NCT 127 are nominated for Best Subunit. If you haven’t voted for NCT or your favourite artists yet, then click here to vote!

NCT 127 made their comeback with the repackaged version of their first studio album, which has been retitled Regulate. Leading the repackaged promotions is Simon Says. I debated whether to create a separate album review for this as I would only be reviewing one new song. I decided to do it anyway in order to help support NCT in the KPORPEVIEWED Awards (see above). Initially, it was meant for publishing on a later date but due to some scheduling changes, I have decided to publish today. I hope you don’t mind this really short album review.

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Regulate Album Cover

Regulate features all the songs from their Regular-Irregular album, which I have previously reviewed. If you wish to check out the song reviews from the Regular-Irregular album, please click here.

4. Welcome To My Playground – The song, compared to the songs on the Regular-Irregular, has a more bright and playful tone. It is a different side of NCT 127 that we saw briefly in Touch but incorporates that hip-hop genre that NCT has been marketed towards. The verses were half Korean and English, which I think was a smart way of interacting with both their Korean and international fans. The song was quite soft and I actually liked the prolonged build up in the verses. It made the chorus a lot more dynamic. I also liked the jump and fast-paced nature of Mark and Taeyong’s rap sequence, which gave the song a profound kick of energy towards the end, ending the song on a very energetic note. (9/10)

9. Simon Says (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Simon Says. (9/10)

12. Chain (Korean Version) – I previously reviewed the Japanese version of Chain. I did feel like the song was a lot slower when it is in the Korean language. It might just be me, however. Click here to read the full review of Chain. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10 (This incorporates the scores of all 12 songs on the albums)

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[Review] Coffee Break – Jonah Nilsson & Lucas (NCT) ft. Richard Bona

Returning for its 3rd season is SM Station! And kicking things off is Jonah Nilsson, Richard Bona and Lucas (from NCT). While we may be familiar with Lucas, we may not know too much about both Jonah and Richard, who previously joined hands together release the original version of Coffee Break back in June of this year. Well, Jonah Nilsson is the vocalist and pianist for Dirty Loops (a Swedish Jazz Band), while Richard Bona is a Grammy award-winning bassist, known for his Jazz work. So, let’s have a short ‘Coffee Break‘ and have a quick listen to the song.

I personally did not know that there was an original track to this collaboration. Basically, Lucas introduces Korean rap verses to the song, while Jonah Nilsson handles the English parts. It should also be noted that Jonah Nilsson also did the verses in the original in a similar fashion to Lucas. And have listened to both tracks, I actually like both. The original version is a lot easier for me to follow as it is in English, whereas Lucas gives the song a deep tone that sounds mature and even more classy.  The song is jazzy and upbeat, reminding me of a Micahel Jackson and Stevie Wonder combination. I did like how it did not become KPOP and remained very similar to the original version. I thought the instrumental (a mixture of piano from Jonah and brass from Richard Bona and co.) was very subtle but quite dynamic in its own way. It gives the song a very cheerful and colourful tone. The chorus itself is quite catchy and that piano solo was amazing! It is a great kick-start to the SM Station season! Can’t wait to see what’s next.

For some reason, the music video goes for a hazy colour palette, which I think is a rather interesting choice. Given this song, I expected something a little more golden. While the gold is there, it isn’t the main colour. Both Jonah and Lucas participate in this music video. Lucas is trying to get his colleague’s attention, while Jonah showcases that piano solo. Lucas also showcases some dance moves in the music video but not enough to require a performance section in this review. Overall, it is a really nice video that goes well with the song.

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

[Review] Simon Says – NCT 127

Since wrapping up their promotions for Regular a few weeks back, we have been teased with an impending return with the repackaged version of their first studio album, And now, NCT 127 has returned for the third time this year with Simon Says, which the title track off their 1st Repackaged Album, Regulate. Interestingly, the music video for Simon Says was released well ahead of the actual release of the repackaged album. But we aren’t here to talk about this experimental release method. Instead, Simon Says to start this review!

Simon Says is a return to that hip-hop and electronic sound that NCT 127 hasn’t really done that much this year. Touch was a rather bright release, while Regular was an attempt at the Latin trend. So, it is quite nice to go back to some familiar territory. The instrumental has this experimental side to it, which makes it interesting as the style isn’t that clear-cut as their past songs. The verses are formed to give attention towards the rappers, who do a really good job with the song. There are attitude and charisma flowing throughout. The song focuses on the vocalists through the bridge of the song. While it is a little short, we do great a nice little breather from the intensity of the verses/chorus. As for the chorus, I thought it was quite catchy. The song is quite powerful and definitely aggressive in a more subtle manner. Overall, Simon Says is a pretty cool song.

The music video takes that aggressive and powerful nature touched upon earlier and develops into a very aesthetic music video. There is definitely some sort of message hidden throughout this video through the symbolism that I am no way near smart enough to understand. Here are what I could see. Taeyong is Simon, as he is the leader of the subunit and all the members move around him. He is also the first member to take off his mask and the rest of the members follow suit. And talking about the masks, how amazing do they look? Visuals along, this is one video to watch.

Like all the other components of this comeback, the performance is very intense and dynamic. Each of the members do a really good job at captivating the audience through their charisma alone. Their moves make this comeback so much better. My favourite part has to be the fast-paced chorus.

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

[Review] Regular – NCT 127

2018 has been one busy year for NCT. They started the year off as NCT 2018 and returned with a studio album, which featured songs from each of the three subunits. NCT recently made their comeback with We Go Up. SM Entertainment has also confirmed that a Chinese subunit will debut later in the year. NCT 127 also made their official debut in Japan with Chain. And now, NCT 127 is back with Regular, which the title track off their latest full-length album, Regular-Irregular. Woah!

I don’t think anyone expected NCT to go with a Latin sound, given their past work never fitted any of the ongoing trends of the industry. But it is a new twist in their portfolio that sounds somewhat fresh, as they managed to keep to their roots by infusing it with some trap. It is an interesting combination that works well with each other, in my opinion. It is just – I don’t mind the sound but I am not too keen on the ‘final product’. The song lacks a memorable chorus. Yes, there is intensity but hook-wise, I don’t really find it appealing. It just felt generic. While the rapping and vocals blended well with each other, they don’t really stand out, against each other or when heard with the instrumentation. I think the best part of the song would have to be there start-stop bridge they had. Overall, I feel like the song, to an extent, was good but it just wasn’t enough to really become a hit for me.

I did like the music video for this comeback, which felt really edgy and intense. The video featured great cinematography which really did a good job of capturing not just the members but also their surroundings. The black and white choreography scenes did look a little too plain, reminding me of some of their stuff earlier in the year. I also like Mark and Taeyong’s floating star scene, which looked cool. Same could be said about their individual close-ups. Them bringing many people in at the end of the video looks like the producers are taking a page out of BTS’ music videos. But it is done in a way here that looks boring.

The choreography for their comeback was definitely my pick for the highlight for the entire comeback. It fits in with that Latin sound, while also accommodating to the trap side of the song. I quite liked their footwork in this routine, which looks amazing on stage.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7/10

 

[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

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[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).

[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!)

[Review] Chain – NCT 127

NCT recently wrapped up their album promotions in Korea, which involved all members from the 3 NCT subunits (NCT 127, NCT U & NCT Dream). But the members of NCT 127 are not on a break yet, with their return to the Japanese music scene with their first single, Chain. The album officially dropped during the week (May 23rd) but the music video has been available online since the start of the month, so it is about time I got around to reviewing it.

If I had written a review for this song when it was first uploaded on YouTube (May 8th), it would have had the comments ‘very messy’ and ‘not that great’ written all over it. But with a lot of replays and time to take in this ‘mess’, it is a decent track that fits in well with NCT 127’s past work in Korea. That being said, it still isn’t the greatest song, mainly because you still have to work your way through its metallic clanging to get to the good stuff. The raps were decent and the vocal work was quite good. When the drop kicked in, I thought the high pitch screeching was extremely fitting for their rap-heavy track. The only issue that I have is the metal clanging, which is really in-your-face throughout the song and I wished they toned it down. The moments where they did stop the clanging gave the song some relief and allowed me to have a better grasp of the song. I like how they did keep their roots for their Japanese song, which is something you don’t really see all too often.

The music video for this release showed off a different persona that we don’t really see often in their Korean promotions. From what I can see, the video taps into their masculinity and dominant side. It definitely fits in with the intensity and fierceness of the song. And because fangirls don’t find anything sexier than a bunch of men posing with tools (I guess). Maybe this is my science mindset kicking in but there were moments that I wasn’t sure about the safety of the members. Don’t think holding a saw or a drill up close to your safe is considered safe in the manual. But overall, I thought it was a good video for the song.

The performance was surprisingly good. At first glance, the moves seemed rather slow. But watching it a few times, I thought the choreography did a good job at contrasting with the tempo and intensity of the video. There were some slow movements (more of the sexy slow though), while still balancing out with some fast moves.

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