[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

 

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[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

[Review] New Heroes – Ten (NCT)

NCT has already had a jammed back year. With songs from each of their subunits to their full-length album, NCT has basically lifted standards when it comes to promotions. Ten did not promote as much with NCT this year. He only participated in Baby Don’t Stop (with Taeyong). However, don’t worry. Ten has just released a new single, New Heroes. It is the final release of SM Station Season 2 and his first solo release since Dream In A Dream.

The song was quite striking from the start, opting for synths that really grabbed your attention. It made the song feel bright and pop-like, despite the chorus become mainly EDM based. The chorus itself was quite good, with the synths drops not overwhelming at all, which is something you don’t really feel when it comes to EDM songs like this. What also makes this song quite cool is that Ten sung entirely in English. I honestly expected some rapping somewhere in the midst of the song but was surprised when I heard vocals only. And Ten’s vocals were amazing in the song. At first glance, the song felt like Go by NCT Dream, especially around the drop. But the more I listen to this, the less of the resemblance I hear. New Heroes doesn’t strike me as a memorable song, however, at the moment, it sounds awesome.

The music video opens up with Ten sitting on the beach, with a thin piece of fabric layered on top of him. There are lights attached to his already glittery shirt and hands. While it doesn’t sound exactly that cool in words, it was definitely breathtaking to watch when the video starts. Furthermore, I thought I recognised some places where NCT shot at for their comeback music videos. Not 100% confident but they seem really familiar. Overall, I thought the video was cool. Some shots were shakey to suit the EDM drops, while others were smooth to compliment the calmer parts of the song.

Not sure if there was any choreography for this particular release. Ten does dance throughout the video, however, many parts did look like it was freestyling. But if this video was to prove anything, it proves that Ten is one amazing dancer.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.1/10

[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] 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

[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] Lemonade – Parc Jae Jung & Mark (NCT)

Friday has just whisked by and as expected, a new SM Station track was dropped. And Mark from NCT has been on a roll with his collaborations. This time, he performs alongside Parc Jae Jung, who is a male solo artist known for winning Superstar K5. Their song, Lemonade, was dropped last Friday.

When it comes to the drink Lemonade, you would associate it with refreshing and cooling. And like the drink, the song comes off in the same way. Lemonade is a nice summer-time RnB track. With Parc Jae Jung’s husky vocals and Mark’s raps, the track becomes a refreshing treat for fans. I personally like the song. It has a nice melody and is relatively simple to get into. It is very easy going and light, in terms of sound. Like in a few of my past reviews, it is always nice to have a step back from the synths and dance tracks that do dominate the KPOP industry. I may not have said much in this review, but it is a good song. Actually, going back to my initial statements, the song is like that refreshing cup of lemonade on a hot Summers day.

The music video features Mark and Parc Jae Jung, who are in turn interested in a girl, who sells lemonade by the beach. Both guys try their best to get her attention, but their attempts end up failing. Mark, on the way to give a flower to her, sees a man (played by Henry) approach her and give her a bouquet, to which she accepts. Parc Jae Jung comforts Mark, but it turns out he saw everything and is hiding his own flower behind his back. The video also features Yoon Jong Shin, who plays the drink truck’s owner (and the girl’s boss). Overall, I thought it was a nice video to watch that had a fun storyline and suited the song’s sweetness.

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

[Review] Young & Free – Xiumin (EXO) & Mark (NCT)

SM Station tracks have been continuously released on a weekly basis. However, I haven’t reviewed them for a while because I don’t really consider some of them as KPOP. If they feature a KPOP artist, such as this track, the likelihood of it being reviewed will increase vastly compared to tracks that feature indie artists (such as the releases of the past month). Young & Free is this week’s release, which features Xiumin from EXO and Mark from NCT.

Young & Free sounds okay. That is probably the best I can say about the song. It has a nice piano instrumental that remains consistent throughout. While I did describe it as nice, there wasn’t anything that made it interesting. And that left it feeling a little bland and dull in nature. Xiumin’s vocals are okay. I have heard songs where his vocals ended up shining a fair bit, such as in EXO-CBX’s Hey Mama. Here, it didn’t have that backing or support from another artist and that is why I thought it fell a little short. Mark’s rapping is probably the one thing that I did like from the track. Though, I have to admit that Mark’s rapping did feel a little disjointed from the instrumental. His raps do suit more refined or upbeat songs, such as his works in his respective NCT subunits. The song tried its best to remain catchy. But while I do acknowledge that some people would find it catchy and addictive, the hooks present in the song didn’t do much for me.

That paleness is back once again. Once again, it is not bothering but just another observation. Throughout the video, we see Mark and Xiumin hang out with each other and show off their budding friendship. So, there isn’t much else to say about that. Not sure about the ending. Does it mean that they have a very strong imagination? As if they were outside the whole time, but believed they were on stage? Overall, it was a nice video to watch and the song felt fitting for the video.

The video did also show a small section of the choreography. I thought it was nice and also fitting for the song. It’s something simple and easy-going for the song and I personally like that.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10

10 Favourite Non-Title Tracks (Part 1)

Welcome to the first ever ‘Special’ segment of my website. Though I have used the category ‘Special’ for other purposes in the past, I thought I could use to expand the content of what I write. So I thought I would make various lists of different aspects of the KPOP sphere, starting off with non-title tracks that should be more appreciated. I have other ideas lined up like “favourite OSTs’ and ‘favourite dances’ etc. If you have any ideas, feel free to comment below and I may just look into your idea. In no particular order, here are 10 (and this particular will be expanded in further editions) favourite non-title track songs by KPOP artists.

Crying – Sistar

Sistar leaves behind many great tracks, so of which barely get enough attention. What makes Crying a great track are the vocals. They were dynamic and gave the song a very unique feel. I thought the chorus was extremely catchy and interesting with how it starts off with a striking delivery of the word “Love”. The instrumental was pretty simple and their vocals/raps matched it perfectly.

One Step, Two Step – Oh My Girl

I personally thought this song has a very nice blend of instruments. It also felt like angels were singing to me.  The track ended up being very addictive, becoming a song that I would search for on YouTube for a while. I loved how the track started off very sweet and nice. But as you approach the chorus, we enter a more upbeat phase, making the build-up sound amazing. The violins in the bridge were also amazing, with it being another highlight of the track.

Albatross – B.A.P

Adding to the fun vibes of their 5th mini album, Carnival, Albatross is one track to jam to. It is a very down to earth feel and listening to the song makes you wonder how fun the recording process would have been if there was a stage or music video accompanying it. It was released in February but there is a very vibrant and Summer feel to the song, making it a track that I constantly listen to during Winter when I want to feel some warmth.

Shadow – F(x)

I think out of all the non-title tracks out there and the songs on this list, this is the song that everyone will agree on as the most underrated song ever. It literally catches your attention with its very creepy lyrics. But the lyrics are smothered with the sweetness of the instrumental and their vocals, making the creep factor exceed the highest possible limit. It is extremely addictive and I totally love it.

I Wanna Fall In Love – Song Ji Eun (Secret)

Song Ji Eun’s tracks have always been intriguing for their dark messages. Her more recent releases haven’t followed that path, which is quite disappointing. But there are a few that have caught my attention, such as I Wanna Fall In Love. It is much better than many of her recent title tracks and her strong vocals resonate throughout the entire track. It dominates the entire track, which I think is amazing and the song is quite catchy after a number of listens.

Get The X Out – Sunny Hill

Judging from the title, I would never have thought of the song being what it is. It is extremely unexpected, as the instrumental is reminds you of toys and dolls. Very innocence. But instead, it holds a very scary message telling their partner to just leave. I love how they cut the swearing out (or else it would be banned) but it makes everything feel more intense. And this is another reason to why I love Sunny Hill’s songs. They take uniqueness to a whole new level.

Before The Song Ends – JJ Project ft. Suzy (Miss A)

To hear that JJ Project will be getting a unit comeback stage before the end of the year makes me extremely happy. But before that, I must show you all this extreme party-vibe track. Sure, it may be overpowered by autotune but it one hell of a song to jam to. Suzy’s featuring in this song makes it so much better. But the real winners are JJ Project, who has such a dynamic track under their belt.

Maze – VIXX

I tried to include some old tracks and some more recent tracks on this list. Maze falls under the “more recent” category, with it being one intense track to listen to. That is mainly because every time I listen to the song, I feel a rush of adrenaline as if I am actually running through a maze myself. It is a super catchy track and dynamic at the same time.

Switch – NCT 127

Switch is the only song on this particular list that has its own music video. From memory (and what I read a few months back) that this song and music video was recorded before the debut of NCT. I was totally into (and still am) the instrumental of the song. It sounded different to other songs that I have listened to. It’s another track that gives off a nice Summer feel, which I am totally digging at the moment, as I freeze each morning.

One Minute Back – SHINee

This, by far, is up there as one of the best songs ever released. It is such a unique song on so many levels. Their vocals are on point throughout the track, especially during the entire chorus. The lyrics of the song depict a guy catching his partner cheating on him and wanting to turn back time. Overall, listening to just once will not be enough as it leaves a very long lasting impact that makes you want to go back and listen to more.