2020 has proven to be an eventful year so, without a doubt. But since we are at the halfway mark already, let’s have a little reflection post on the last 6 months. In no particular order, here are 10 of my personal favourite KPOP releases since the start of 2020. I have also added some of my favourite sidetracks that I have encountered so far in the year as part of my top 10. This is also irrespective of my reviews and Weekly KPOP charts posts.
Sorry about the double up on album reviews today. I thought I had already published Winner’s album review last night, but I guess I got distracted. Despite already publishing one album review today, I have decided to publish a second album (the usual Sunday album review release) to keep on track and not impact the upcoming release of reviews this week. The focus of this second album review will be on Oh My Girl, who recently returned with their most successful comeback yet, Nonstop. Both the album and title track shared the name, Nonstop. The album also features four other tracks, so let’s dive into the album to see it can be replayed nonstop.
1. Nonstop (살짝 설렜어) (Title Track) – Click here for the full review of Nonstop. (9/10)
2. Dolphin – If you have been following my Weekly KPOP Charts segment, you may notice that I have been mentioning this song over the last few weeks. Dolphin has fast become my favourite side-track of the year. It is extremely addictive, catchy and fun sounding. I also liked the light tone that the members adopted for the song. I thought it contrasted nicely with the relatively deep thumping and instrumentation that featured in the song. Per usual, I would have pointed out that consistency could have been an issue with this song. After all, this whole song is built on repetition. But I thought that adding that trap influence to the final part of song was quite clever and avoided me drawing the consistency red card. (10/10)
3. Flower Tea (꽃차) – Flower Tea is a ballad. No surprises there, as the title felt like it was going to be a ballad. While the main suspects in the instrumental are those classical associated instruments, the chorus seems to pick up a slight jazzy vibe, which I thought were very nice. It is a very soothing ballad and it shows off the member’s vocals really nicely. When I listen to the song, I feel like I am sitting in front of a warm fireplace as the song gives off that warm feeling. I just don’t find this song all that memorable. I just find Flower Tea to be the type of song that I would be happy to listen to this song if it pops up on my playlist, but it isn’t one I would go out of my way to find, if that makes sense. (7/10)
4. NE♡N – The title of this song is pronounced exactly like the word it is trying to spell. Neon. I don’t like the love heart in the actual title of the song. It just feels cringy and alludes to that form of cutesy in KPOP that I don’t really like. One thing I am glad about NE♡N is that it doesn’t go into that cringy cutesy style. It feels like a pop track with a mild level of cutesy in it. There was a good beat and the instrumental seemed to be incorporated an 8-bit type of feel. Part of me wants to say this song was very retro, but it also feels very contemporary. I also liked their vocals in this song, which was the usual Oh My Girl style. I must say that this song is more suited for when Oh My Girl had that young girl image. It suited them then and feels a little displaced in this more mature limelight. But it was still good nonetheless. (8.5/10)
5. Krystal – The melody of Krystal really stood out to me. It reminds me of BoA’s old tracks. It has that throwback type of vibe, which helps it become another strong song in my books and on this album, which helps end the album on a good note. If you can somehow replicate that same vibe as the Queen of KPOP and yet make the song your own, you are doing something right. I liked how the producers linked the overall sound of the song to the title. To me, it truly felt like the percussion and synths all came together to become a crystal that is glimmering and shining in the light. I also liked how light the vocals in the song were as well. But yet it was very different to the light vocals we got in Dolphin. In this song, the vocals felt warmer and sweeter. (9/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10
Starting off another busy week full of comebacks from the industry’s big names is Oh My Girl, with Nonstop. The song features on the group’s seventh mini-album, which also shares the same name as the title track. This is the first comeback since the release of Bungee, the group’s participation on Queendom (where they came second, which earned them more attention and fanfare) and their return to Japan in January 2020. This comeback also marks the return of Jiho who took a hiatus earlier this year to focus on her health.
As South Korea will soon be entering a warmer climate as they have just one month until Summer kicks in, we can definitely expect to see a lot of songs from the KPOP industry to take on an energetic and fun vibe, typical of the season of Sun. While it isn’t the first to take on the Summer vibes, Nonstop is definitely one of the more obvious examples. The instrumental is a mixture of synth-pop and island genres, with a small injection of hip-hop when it came to Mimi’s rap sequences. As the first song of the year to use the island genre, the sound is relatively fresh. Though, I don’t expect this feeling to remain as more songs start adopting the 2018 and 2019 overused tropical and island trend. Oh My Girl’s song is pretty catchy, thanks to the addictive hook that they have embedded at the end of the chorus. I like how they add a little attitude to this one part, which definitely gives the song some character. Likewise, I like Mimi’s rap section as they added some edge to the song. What I also like about the song is that despite it being bright and energetic, I am glad that the group doesn’t go back to their cutesy roots. There is some points in Nonstop that does steer in that direction, but the song manages to stay on the more likeable side.
The song is about falling and loving for a friend. And they did so in a very beautiful and colourful video. The video takes on a virtual board game, which I think was a good concept. There is more to just the board game however, as their world seems to be overtaken with this virtual theme. This concept on the visual front alone matches the fun vibes that the song contains and the very bright colours really reflect that energetic side of the song, as well. The friend that plays the very important role of lover is a cute teddy bear. The bear does remind me of Ted from the movies, which probably isn’t the best bear/friend to fall in love with. Unless Oh My Girl has that effect on him, which I will totally understand.
The choreography is quite good and very energetic. Overall, I felt the feel and looks of the dance definitely fitted in with the song. There is a bit of aeygo, attitude, edginess and brightness throughout the entire routine. I just don’t find the moves all that memorable, which was a pity.
Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10
At the end of each year, the three major broadcasting companies in South Korea (SBS, KBS and MBC) organises and broadcast a very fruitful and dynamic music festival, bringing together the top KPOP acts of the year. 2019 is no exception and with a year as busy as 2019, it is often quite hard to get invited to these festivals. And with each show running for a couple of hours, different stages/performances/remixes of the year’s hits and one-of-a-kind collaborations, it is often hard to keep up with these festivals. Today, I have decided to organise a list of performances from each of these three festivals that I thought were excellent, different and worthwhile in checking out. I have done this before but over the years dropped it as I had very little time. Now that I have some time on my hand, I thought I return to this segment for the 2019 festivals.
SBS Gayo Daejun – 25th of December 2019
When we talk about the SBS Music Festival, we need to address the issue of safety. After all, it costed Red Velvet full group promotions for their Psycho comeback, due to injuries sustained by Wendy due to the unsafe nature of SBS stage. We did manage to get one full lineup of the group performing Psycho on stage as it was pre-recorded. because of that, I put Red Velvet’s Psycho performance on my list of favourite performances from that day. Other performers also had falls on the SBS stage, from what I remember reading. Other stages at stood out for me were:
- Stray Kid’s Miroh – I did not know how Stray Kids could top Miroh’s intensity by rearranging the performance to be even more intense.
- NCT Dream’s Boom & NCT 127’s Superhuman – Both tracks had a really cool dance addition to it. On top of that, we got to see the same ‘switching of jackets’ that Mark did at the 2018 SBS Music Festival between Dream and 127’s performance. Only this time, it was Haechan!
- Oh My Girl’s Bungee (X-mas Version) – Always good to have a X-mas themed remix on Christmas Day. It made Bungee, an already vibrant and colourful track, more suitable for the season.
- Mamamoo’s Gogobebe – The rock remix for this performance was superb.
- Seventeen’s Home and Snapshoot – We got to see a warmer side of the group and the more joyful side, especially after all the darkness we got from HIT and Fear.
- TWICE’s Medley of Tracks – I really liked the band element to their performance and how they tweaked the concept for Fancy and their more light hearted tracks. I just wished the band was DAY6 (where is DAY6 in all of these festivals), which would have made the performance even more worthy of a view.
- BTS’s Dionysus – I have always been a fan of BTS’s darker side. This performance is a return this side, which I greatly appreciate.
KBS Gayo Daechukje – 27th December 2019
I personally did not have much interest in the KBS Music Festival as I thought the stage looked really bad and the camera work wasn’t the best. This wasn’t also the only problem that occurred that same night. APINK’s %% performance was cut short, disappointing fans, APINK and viewers in general. If I were to choose one standout stage, it would have Golden Child’s Wannabe stage. Their dance intro was very good and showed off intensity that was aligned with their new look/concept. And I really liked how smooth the transition between dance intro and actual song was. Only a few toehr performances caught my attention and they include:
- Song Gain’s Introductory song – Song Gain, for those who don’t know is a trot singer that trended this year. For Song Gain’s performance, she managed to incorporate all artists into her song, which I think would be a challenge.
- NU’EST Love Me – It wasn’t so much their choreography or song that caught my attention. But I thought the raised stages for the end really highlighted the good parts of their overall choreography, providing what could be said as an epic end to their stage.
- ASTRO’s All Night + Blue Flame – I was waiting for ASTRO to do All Night in some capacity during these festivals. But with Moonbin out of action, it seems like the group would opt for the 5-member Blue Flame instead. So automatically, ASTRO’s stage for All Night alone would make this list. Blue Flame ended up being very epic as well, which is why their entire segment is on this list.
- Oh Ha Young, Joy and Yerin Mr. Mr. collaboration – I haven’t heard this song for some time now and I really enjoyed this throwback. Also surprised that they covered the entire song, which usually isn’t the case.
MBC Gayo Daejejeon – 31st December 2019
MBC’s Music Festival is one to always watch. Their stages always have a look that shows that they have been planning for a while. The collaborations for this festival are always something to talk about. And why not watch it live as the year goes out! There is nothing like ending 2019 and start 2020 with KPOP! However, the MBC Music Festival was also plagued with an early termination issue. This time around the victim was Kim Jae Hwan, who only got to perform Nuna (he should have performed The Time I Need as well. For standout performance, I am putting down ASTRO and Oh My Girl’s creepy and jazzy cover of IU’s Red Shoes. It was different and colourful. Other stages to check out:
- Stray Kid’s Side Effects – Another intense song that they managed to upgrade and make darker. The creative minds that put together these stages for Stray Kids are killing it (and need a pay rise instantly).
- Seventeen & Mamamoo Collaboration – Two of my favourite groups have come together to form one dream team. And this was such an amazing stage.
- Seventeen’s HIT – Mingyu shouldn’t be playing with fire. It is dangerous. But one epic opener to the stage. Also, somehow Seventeen managed to insert a dance break in the midst of the stage, which I think earns a mention at the very least.
- Hyuna’s Flower Shower – Her choreography is essentially the same as the one she performed in the past. But the chorus instrumental is changed slightly, which I thought made the stage a lot cooler for the end of year festival.
- Taemin’s Move & Famous – MBC’s Music Festival had a theme, The Chemistry. And you can’t have a theme about Chemistry without Taemin. While he didn’t do anything special to Move‘s stage, his dance alone is already 100% fitting for a ‘Chemistry’ themed music festival.
- (G)i-DLE’s Lion – Another reason to why we need to look out for this girl group is their special stages. Lion is practically a game changer for the group.
- Lovelyz’s Beautiful Day – I really like their ballad start to their stage and how they built it back up to the original song in an effortless manner.
As promised, here is the first of a few Special posts that I have lined up for the final few weeks of the year. This is also a very long post!
Wrapping up its run on the air a few weeks ago is Queendom, a new and innovative show that brought together 5 leading girl groups (AOA, (G)I-DLE, Lovelyz, Mamamoo and Oh My Girl) and one soloist (Park Bom) to have a comeback battle. In the weeks leading up to the final (which was the actual ‘comeback’ battle – where all 6 songs from the 6 acts were released at once to determine who was the Top Artist), the 6 acts participated in various rounds of performances (1st Round – Representative Hit Song; 2nd Round – Cover Song of Fellow Queendom Contestant; and 3rd Round – Unit Performance + Fandora’s Box) to gain points which placed them at an advantage during the ‘comeback’ battle.
The show ended up being very successful, with fans and viewers talking about the show’s performances each week. Each week, there was one or two groups that stole the spotlight. Some notable examples include the fanfare that AOA had when they performed the remixed version of Miniskirt during the first round and how Lovelyz got Sixth Sense and their own name trending after their cover of Brown Eyed Girl’s Sixth Sense in the second round.
Despite my exams and assignments, I tuned in each week to watch the performances as they felt like all the stages were on a whole new level to what we saw on the standard weekly music shows. I hope the show returns with a new female lineup and possibly a male spinoff titled Kingdom, as requested by many fans already. And today, I will be having a look at each of the songs that each act performed in the final round, as there are a number of good tracks that you should not just pass over just because the show is over. I will also be rating the performances and determining an overall score (as I believe these songs will be appearing on each artists’ future comebacks).
Sorry – AOA
AOA has been riddled with of departures of a few members over the last few years, leading their once strong lineup into a potentially shaky future. So in a way, Queendom was a way to relaunch the five-member lineup and showcase the new era of AOA. They have proven to be strong contenders throughout the preliminary rounds of Queendom and Sorry further highlights their potential. The synthpop instrumentation, their nostalgic and catchy chorus, the very moody verses and strong vocals really made this song into one of the more iconic tracks of the competition. I did think Jimin’s rapping could have been a little powerful, in this song actually. We have seen her do some bombastic solo work and I wished AOA’s releases incorporated some of this.
AOA’s Western outback concept was a pretty strong concept and It seems like they will be continuing this into their upcoming music release next week. I thought the concept showed off a nice mature of the girls, which is reflective in the music as well. While the performance was watchable in a pleasant way, Chanmi’s mini fight sequence was undoubtedly the highlight of this performance and deserves a lot of attention.
Song – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10
Moonlight – Lovelyz
It was really surprising to see Lovelyz gain attention for their Sixth Sense cover, which goes against every Lovelyz song we have ever heard in their careers thus far. But good for them! Hopefully, this signals as a potential concept for the future, as we now have a valid confirmation that Lovelyz can pull off a powerful concept. But the focus should be on Moonlight, which I, unfortunately, rank as one of the weaker tracks of the final round. It lacked boldness that some of their other contenders had in their performance and it failed to be memorable (I pretty much forgot the song right after it finished playing). It was bearable though, with good vocals and melody, which is usually expected from the group. Just not enough to make this a strong track.
I am not too sure about the concept of this stage. But their outfits reminded me of Greek Goddesses and I thought they were pretty on stage. The dance moves were nice and elegant, which worked well with the melody of the song. At times, it looked like they were struggling within themselves, which worked well with the lyrics of the song. Overall, a good performance.
Song – 6/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.3/10
Wanna Go Back (되돌릴 수 없는 돌아갈 수 없는 돌아갈 곳 없는) – Park Bom
I question the producer for bringing Park Bom into the competition. It isn’t because she is a terrible artist. She has great songs and a unique set of vocals that make her stand out. She is just at a disadvantage from the start in Queendom (performing alone, couldn’t participate in the dance unit in Round 3 etc.). She did bring an interesting level of competition (and her interactions with the younger artists made the show fun). Her final song was titled Wanna Go Back, which is an emotional ballad that reflected on her desire to go back to the good old days of 2NE1. It also brings out her vocals, which is an improvement from some of Queendom’s preliminary round. That high note sounded quite good and it was something I didn’t think Park Bom could handle.
Her performance stage was practically a throwback to her time in 2NE1. The four microphone stands, the three other backup dancers to complete a lineup of four. I also really liked how she used that stage platform to show that she will be rising to the top again and her mic drop at the end. Not too sure about her mini performance at the end. But other than that, it was a powerful performance but in a different sense.
Song – 7.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10
Guerilla (게릴라) – Oh My Girl
Out of all the groups on Queendom, it seems like Oh My Girl was the biggest beneficiary. Since their initial stages on the show, the group have been approached by multiple companies asking them to be their models for their products. They have also been granted an extended holiday, which they undoubtedly deserve after Queendom and their impressive run with The Fifth Season earlier this year. Guerilla is my pick for the best track of all the 6 acts. It showcases a different side of Oh My Girl. A more suspenseful and edgy sound from the group, thanks for the subtle use of trap elements. I also thought their vocals in this song were the strongest out of the 6 acts as well. Mimi’s rapping was a tad too soft for my liking and would have preferred to be a lot louder to match up with the vocals.
I freaking love this performance. It is one of the two that I have been coming back to every single day because I cannot get enough of it. From the ropes at the start to their powerful moves during the chorus to the elegant natures during the bridge, it was a solid performance that showcases that there is more to Oh My Girl than what we have heard so far. I also like their styling, which was very bold.
Song – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10
Lion – (G)I-DLE
(G)I-DLE is the youngest group on the Queendom lineup. But their work thus far, it felt like the group has been in the industry for some time. No wonder they are known as monster rookies when they debuted. Lion probably stands as one of the most iconic and unique tracks of the night. Cube Entertainment went of their way to even produce a music video for it. I feel like if (G)I-DLE returned with tracks that showed feminine power like Lion, rather than Senorita and Uh-Oh, 2019 would have been a pretty successful year for the group. Two things stood out for me in this powerful track: Soyeon’s rapping and Minnie’s high and low sections.
Best outfits and concept for the final night goes to Lion. This was one hell of a performance. And this doesn’t just apply to the singers. The backup dancers rocked awesome manes. I also like how fierce their moves and facial expressions were. It is a powerful song and it is paired with an equally powerful and unique set of moves.
Song – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10
Destiny (우린 결국 다시 만날 운명이었지) – Mamamoo
I was most excited for Mamamoo, as everyone knows how much of a fan I am of the group. Their stages on Queendom have been consistently my favourite. Their final song was titled Destiny and it actually features on their recent comeback album, reality in BLACK, which I will be reviewing on a later date. Destiny is special as it is probably their most experimental track yet. It mashes different styles together, creating a whole track that brings out all their strengths (vocals, rapping, harmonies and everything else). I really liked the start of the track, where everything felt blue and moody. I like their Western instrumental, followed by that rocking ending.
One thing that Mamamoo can do that not many other artists are able to do is engage the audience into the performance. That and their stage presence is very big. Throw in some live vocals and you have a rocking performance that really doesn’t need choreography. You have already done the hard work by captivating the audience. That being said, there was some choreography and everything they ended up doing looked really cool. Just focus on Hwasa and you can see how that is the case!
Song – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.7/10
And that is my review for Queendom’s final tracks. All of the tracks were amazing in their own way but Destiny by Mamamoo came out on top as my favourite. But what was your favourite? Comment down below and let’s see if we all agree with one another.
It is time for another PAR (Past Album Review). Today, we will be focusing on a group that is getting a lot of fanfare in the industry at the moment due to their amazing cover of Lovelyz’s Destiny on the show Queendom. Yes, that is right! I am talking about Oh My Girl. And we will be going way back a bit to October 2015 to have a look back on the album which I think contains one of the best KPOP songs ever. Scroll down below to continue reading my review. Besides that, check out Queendom and support your favourite girl groups including Mamamoo, AOA, Lovelyz, Oh My Girl, (G)I-DLE and Park Bom!
1. Closer (Title Track) – I previously gave this song a 9/10. But I want to add one more point to that. Mainly because Closer must be one of my favourite KPOP tracks. It is also the group’s most underrated and aesthetically pleasing tracks ever. Given their popularity now, Closer would have been a major hit if it were released today. Click here to read the full review for Closer. (10/10)
2. Say No More – Say No More is a very smooth R&B track. The mentioned smoothness allows the song to follow strongly behind Closer. I find the track to be very catchy, especially since they accented the ‘Say No More’ using the instrumental, which they repeat throughout the song. I also think the vocal work in this track is amazing. There is a lot of technique in the song, which really shows off their potential as a group. The song is consistent, which I think was a safe move in this case. I can’t imagine a song like this being erratic in terms of it sound and it resulting as nice as what we have now. (9/10)
3. Playground – You can tell that the group was just starting out. Despite their very mature sounding Closer, the members manage to liken a love story to the playground in this track, which is a very childish and youthful thing to do. But then again, it was their image back then. I think the song is quite good as well. Maybe not as great as the two tracks before it, though. I think the vocal work was nice, especially with the harmonies and the members singing together. I really like Mimi’s rap sequences just before each chorus, as it cuts the more light-hearted pop nature from being too consistent. (8/10)
4. Sugar Baby – I am so glad that they grew out this cutesy phase. Listening to the first few lines of the song, ‘You’re My Snuggly Little Teddy Bear’ is a very cringy line. And the chorus basically follows this as well. The song has this old retro feel to it, which I think was a highlight. I also liked that small build-up we get from the pre-chorus section. Apart from that, I find the song very standard and it doesn’t really appeal to my personal tastes. If you like the cutesy direction of KPOP, I think this song would be a standout for you. (7/10)
5. Round About – I think they started out strong on this album. And I wished the album continued this strong start to the end. Round About just doesn’t recuperate from Sugar Baby and it seems to just dissipate. It is an upbeat pop track that suits their youthful image at the time, so I can’t blame them. Also, they used to the cutesy concept a fair bit back in the day, so they just had to have that influence on their album somehow (especially since this was their second album). I just found the instrumental and vocal work to be forgettable and I felt like there should have been one more song after Round About to really close the album. (7/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10
Oh My Girl has been undeniably rising to the top with their comebacks. Their last comeback, The Fifth Season (SSFWL), was hugely successful for the group. It won the group a number of weekly music shows and got the group a lot of fanfare. Now, the girl group has joined the Summer comeback rush with a special summer album, Fall In Love. Bungee is the lead track off this album and the focus of this review.
Oh My Girl started off with the cutesy concept and sound when their career kicked off back in 2015. And while the group has been focusing on a more refined and mature sound, Bungee brings back the cutesy charms the group once had. It is a Summer track, so there is a very fun, upbeat atmosphere and the cutesy charm does come through nicely. But there were parts that felt very childish and I thought the group would have stayed clear of this. Namely, the 1,2,3 part of the track within the chorus. It just doesn’t fit with the rest of the song in my opinion. The vocals were nice. But I think Mimi is the most profound member of this track. Her rapping was very dynamic and I wished the song followed that route more (i.e. there was an air of typicalness surrounding the song). With that last point in mind, I wanted the song has a little more impact. I felt the track was 80% there. It just needed an extra 20% to have it up to par as their previous few title tracks.
With Summer, upbeat and fun being words to describe this track (which in hindsight is very typical), the music video fits all these descriptive criteria. Just it feels very typical and there isn’t much to comment on, except for the cuteness that Oh My Girl brings to the table. I just don’t ping this video as memorable, mainly because of that typical nature that the video features. For a song titled Bungee, I am glad they incorporated a little jump scene from a tall height. Just they do it without any safety equipment and the way that wraps up would not be that ideal. I also really like the colours they went within the music video.
Like the rest of the comeback, the dance was fun and energetic. At the same time, it was quite cute. Nothing too impressive from what I saw in the music video that really jumped out at me. Though, I have to wait for the full performance. On a side note, I really liked their bright smiles.
Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.3/10
As I have been mentioning over the past 2 weeks, I reflect over the 1st half of 2019 through two posts. The first post is the recap of the Number 1 songs from the Weekly KPOP Charts for the period between July 2018 to June 2019 and this was published last week. The second post is my pick for most favourite songs from the first half of the year. This is irrespective of the charts (or any charts for that matter) and reviews, as sometimes my favourite songs don’t reach the top. I have listed 10 songs below, in no particular order, which I believe represent the best of the best that 2019 has offered to us so far.
Boogie Up – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)
Q&A – Cherry Bullet
Woowa – DIA
Side Effects – Stray Kids
The Fifth Season (SSFWL) – Oh My Girl
Zimzalabim – Red Velvet
Valkirye – ONEUS
No – CLC
Sunrise – GFriend
L.O.V.E – Park Ji Hoon
I wanted to add a few more but think limiting myself to 10 would probably be best, otherwise, I’d be copying and pasting majority of 2019’s releases onto this page.
Do you agree with my picks? What about your favourite tracks of 2019 so far? Comment down below!
It is quite surprising to see how long some artists are active in the industry before they get to release a studio album. For Oh My Girl, it has been four years since their debut back in 2015 and the group has just released this first studio album. It has definitely been a long time coming, especially after all the great mini-album releases we got from the group over the years. The Fifth Season contains 9 songs including the title track of the same name. The album also contains an instrumental track for the title track as well but due to the nature of the review, I won’t be having a look at it. So let’s start off the album review right now!
1..The Fifth Season (SSFWL) (다섯 번째 계절) (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review for The Fifth Season (SSFWL). (9/10)
2. Shower (소나기) – Opening the track up is typical pop instrumentation that doesn’t differentiate them from other girl groups. And this typicalness flows onto their chorus, so there was that feeling in the air throughout the length of the song. I think similar comments can be made about the vocals and rapping. I did hear some attempts to disrupt this typical feeling with some textural changes in their voices, particularly around the second pre-chorus. But they weren’t that successful. There isn’t anything bad about a typical song, Just Shower ends up being a song to attract some yawns. (6/10)
3. Case No. L5VE (미제) – Now this is the type of song that I want. It does fall within that typical nature once again. But this one has enough to keep the yawns away (hahaha…). There is also a lot of textures in this song, which keeps it interesting and makes the song fun. Firstly, the chorus has this cheerful and happy pop tone to it, which I am enjoying. Secondly, there is a lot more rapping (and they last for longer periods), which I thought was a really nice build up to the chorus. Thirdly, I really liked the elegant nature of the vocals, which made the rest of the song so flowy. Overall, Case No. L5VE was definitely an ear-catching piece. (9/10)
4. Tic Toc – As soon as the song opened, and I heard the first member, I honestly thought I was listening to the wrong artist (I had to make sure I wasn’t listening to Twice). Tic Toc was a catchy and upbeat pop song that really gets me into a cheerful mood. Mimi’s rapping, once again, worked wonders in this song, giving it a needed injection of intensity. I also like the vocals and the melody that they have in this track. I find the melody to be an attractive part of the song. I also enjoyed the ‘Tic Toc’ Mimi (I think) says throughout the song and the mini outro we get, which dragged the song out by a few more seconds with an instrumental that I enjoyed. (8/10)
5. Gravity (유성) – So far, we have heard of a lot of pop tracks, but they do fall under that typical nature (sorry for the repetitive use of that word). Gravity changes it up slightly. While the song does delve headfirst back into the pop genre, the song does have a very dynamic appeal that comes from the chorus. I thought the ‘Gravity~’ hook they used was beautifully done and it sounded like you were floating away while listening to it. The instrumental ‘felt very wide’ and spacious, making the ‘Gravity~’ repetition very impactful. I also really think the elegant melody returns in this song, which I think is another positive aspect of the track. (8.5/10)
6. Crime Scene – Crime Scene is another fun sounding and vibrant track. I thought the title was very intriguing, given that I do enjoy crime myself. So, naturally, I gravitated towards the lyrics for this song. The song is being attracted towards your lover and the confusion that surrounds it. In the song, they question why they are being pulled to their partner. Though, I don’t get why they are ‘Chillin’ your love’. That is the only clue I haven’t cracked yet. Even though it does sound very odd in the song’s context, I found it to be very catchy and almost addictive. I really like the vocals and rapping in this track. I also like the slight change in tempo they gave us for the second half of the chorus. It made the song feel less linear. (8/10)
7. Underwater Love (심해 (마음이라는 바다)) – Underwater Love directs itself towards the ‘mandatory ballad’ of the album. It doesn’t get there exactly as it diverts with a pretty R&B instrumental. While I don’t regularly enjoy the ‘mandatory ballad’ track on the album, I find this one to cut the vibrant and upbeat nature of the album thus far quite well. I don’t find it as boring as I had expected it to be. The vocals are nice and I really like the soft whisper-like rapping tone in the song. Overall, I find it to be a decent track. (7/10)
8. Vogue – Vogue is sung by Mimi, Yooa, Jiho and Arin. And it is my pick for the best song on the album. Like I don’t think you can keep me away from this track. Vogue pays either pays homage to Madonna or the artist and her song heavily influenced the production of this song. But either way, it is done in a spectacular fashion as it goes straight for Madonna’s well-known style. It has this very mature sound to it that I did not know Oh My Girl had in them. The vocals are on point and damn, the verses are so good. They manage to give the chorus an upbeat feel, which I think manages to get the song to fit in with the rest of the album (and Oh My Girl’s releases) but at the same time make the song even more dynamic. (10/10)
9. Checkmate – Ending the album is another vibrant track that is bound to get you ready for any event. I think the use of brass in this song really makes it appropriate for parties. YooA is proving to be the star of this album. While I haven’t singled any member this far into the review, YooA has continually showcased herself in a very bold manner. Her vocals at the very start of the song was definitely a wake call for me. I also liked how the chorus was very sharp. This gives off a nice and impactful punch every single time, making it a very powerful track. I think the song had a lot of great hooks, making it extremely addictive. It is a great and very strong ender to the album (10/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10
Returning yesterday is Oh My Girl, with The Fifth Season (SSFWL). This is the title track off their very first studio album, The Fifth Season. Based on the title of the album (and lyrics), it seems like the members are making reference to Love being the fifth season, in addition to the commonly known Spring, Summer, Fall (or Autumn) and Winter. The idea of the 4 Seasons seems to be a popular concept this year, with Taeyeon and Chanyeol each releasing songs about the seasons. But we are here to review SSFWL, which is their first comeback since Remember Me.
SSFWL returns to the fantasy-theme tracks that have been the centre of Oh My Girl’s portfolio. And I found this return to be quite strong, supported with amazing melodies and beautiful vocals. The chorus was by far my favourite part of the entire track. The melody at the start of the chorus was very profound and woke you up from the slightly bland verses. The second half of the chorus (i.e. the ‘La La La…‘) gave an extra kick to the song. And it was this combination that really made the chorus feel bold but perfectly fitting for the fantasy sound they were aiming for. And as I said, vocals were very nice, as proven by the chorus (and bridge). Mimi’s rapping was probably the surprising limit. I really liked how husky her parts were and this was quite impactful. I also enjoyed how they ended the song, which really the cherry on top for SSWFL. I think it is extremely safe to say that I really enjoyed this song and wouldn’t be surprised if this dominated my playlist for the next few weeks.
The music video shows the members in sets that can easily be identified as the different seasons. Binnie is experiencing Winter, due to the amount of snow available. Hyojung is in Summer, shown through the availability of a refreshing drink from the fridge and the vibrant green fauna. Fall is experienced by Jiho, who is on a train in appropriate attire, surrounded by a warm golden vibe, while Spring is experienced by Arin, as she walks through the fields and flowers. I assume YooA, Seunghee and Mimi are in certain seasons as well. But it is when the members join each other, does the fifth season (filled with joy and happiness) come apparent. Thought it was a very nice video to showcase this.
I thought the performance was pretty good. I really thought that running-like move in the chorus was cool. The entire performance looked very graceful, which fits in with the fantasy tone and concept of this comeback.
Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10
I hope you have been enjoying these album reviews as much as I have been enjoying them. Today’s album review is for Oh My Girl, who recently returned with a brand new title track and mini-album, both titled Remember Me. This is the second time I have revied their mini-albums, with the first being their Secret Garden mini-album earlier this year. And before I start waffling along for this introduction paragraph, let’s just move on to what we are all here for – the actual album review.
1..Remember Me (불꽃놀이) (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of Remember Me. (10/10)
2. Echo (메아리) – A part of me says that I would totally jump on board if the song was released in the midst of other Summer releases. But I am held back from completely investing myself in the song. Echo has a very carefree vibe to it, which suits the season of holidays and sun. But there is something within the song which keeps stagnant. Maybe it is the lack of energy. And it is this ‘stagnant’ feeling that makes the song not reach its full potential. It doesn’t stand out from the crowd, instead opting for the hidden route, which doesn’t honestly help the song. I thought the vocals and rapping were good. Overall, it was a good song, but I just didn’t feel 100% for me. (7/10)
3. Twilight – Twilight goes for a club beat instrumental. But before you think it is a completely different changeup to the group’s regular sound, the song feels very Oh My Girl’s territory. The song has a super catchy hook and I liked the build-up to the chorus. I thought the drop to the chorus was a little lacking (it should have been something like the drop at the bridge). The song features great vocals, especially Seunghee’s high note and Mimi’s rapping in the song (the latter’s part felt very fitting for the atmosphere). It’s their best song (following the amazing title track) on this album. (9.5/10)
4. Illusion – I feel like Illusion is the sequel to their fantastic b-side track, ‘One Step Two Step’ to an extent. It gave off that feeling, which I thought was nice. There was a rap sequence in the song which did feel a little different, but I am not too bother by it. I thought the chorus has a nice melody and the song has this innocence sound to it, which I liked. The vocals were nice, but I am not too keen on that anthem chanting that featured in the song, which felt misplaced for this style. (7/10)
5. Our Story (우리 이야기) – Our Story is the ballad that you get on most albums. It has a nice melody. It was a little bland for my taste at first but as I listened to more of it, I enjoyed its soothing nature. The song a beautiful instrumental and features great vocals from all the members. It isn’t too much of a stand out track (as it is the ‘mandatory ballad’ on the album), but it allowed the album to end on a lovely note. (8/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10
One of the many comebacks and releases for today, Oh My Girl have returned with their latest title track, Remember Me. It is featured on the group’s 6th mini-album, which shares the same name as the title track. This is the full group’s second comeback after Secret Garden earlier in the year and the first comeback since their extremely cutesy subunit release, Banana Allergy Monkey.
Remember Me has a different sound, one which we have yet to hear from the group, given their past title tracks. That being said, the song does fall neatly within the group’s boundaries as it isn’t technically an extremely changeup (like their subunit release mentioned above). The start may be misleading but once we reach the pre-chorus, we find ourselves in familiar territory. The song features nice vocals, adding a nice melody to the song, and we finally get to hear decent rap sequences from Mimi. I thought the instrumental was quite cool. It allowed the group to show an edgy side at different moments but return to their ‘normal’ self at other moments. Overall, I thought the song was pretty well done. I thought it was extremely catchy and it will probably grow on me further in the coming days. There might be a reason to why I picked this as the first song to review today and it might have something to do with how appealing the song is.
The music video is a little out there but not as bad at their subunit release (I think that has become the reference point of weirdness). I am a little lost with the plotline of the video. But it seems like everyone is doing their own thing but still making the party at the end of the video. Despite being confusing, I thought the video was fitting for the song. And hands up if you think this is Binnie’s era because she looks so good in that hairstyle. Very elegant and mature, if you ask me!
I honestly do not have much to say about the choreography besides how perfect it fitted for the song. There were elegant moments in the dance to match the melodic sections of the song and a little edge when the rapping came into play. Big ticks for this comeback.
Song – 10/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.2/10
Oh My Girl has made their unexpected return with a special subunit release. Dubbed as Oh My Girl BANHANA, the subunit consists of 3 members (Binnie, Hyojung and Arin). While the promotional track, Banana Allergy Monkey, is performed by the trio, the other songs on the release feature the other members of Oh My Girl as well. This is Oh My Girl’s first release since Secret Garden earlier this year.
Let’s start off with the title of the song. ‘Banana Allergy Monkey‘ is one randomly put-together phrase. But when you think about, what if there is a monkey that is allergic to bananas out there? But let’s stop right there before I go searching for one. BANHANA’s delivery of the song has to be one of the cutesy deliveries that I have heard to date. For the first listen, you get a really extremely childish sense from it, which works against the song. But once you listen to the entire track, it is quite catchy. The melodic hook is bound to get you humming to the track. And surprisingly, I got used to their vocals quite fast. The song could have used more harmonies, which could have given the verses a stronger backbone. The instrumental was quite retro with its 8-bit and video game styled sound, which works well with their concept (which I will discuss later on). Overall, the song is growing on me quite rapidly, so who knows if this can top the Weekly charts that I post regularly every Sunday.
The music video goes for that video gaming concept, which works well with that 8-bit sound that song has. But it gets very cutesy fast. My assumption is the trio portrays the monkeys who are unable to eat bananas, with the rest of Oh My Girl making their appearance as banana eaters. As a result, they go out to find alternatives (such as Banana Milk) in the far away places of the universe. That is my guess for the meaning behind the video. While I thought the sound was childish, I thought the cutesy concept was done relatively well. As a whole, I thought it was a fun video to watch.
Can I just give them their 10/10 for choreography here? I don’t think you can score any number lower than 10 if you are going to scratch your buttocks as part of the dance. Hahahaha… It made me laugh and I found it incredibly cute. Hopefully, this becomes a dance trend causing I can see it making the rounds, infecting every single KPOP idol out there.
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10
From what I can see from my notes, I don’t do many female artists album reviews, which is quite a disappointing aspect of this site. This year, I will strive to do more album for female artists (and hopefully do more album reviews in general). Starting off this goal is my album review for Oh My Girl’s latest mini-album, Secret Garden.
1..Secret Garden (비밀정원) (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of Secret Garden. (8.3/10)
2. Love O’Clock – What drew me to this song is definitely the clock sounds at the very start of the song. They were extremely fitting, not just for the title but the overall feel of the song. The vocals were nice but it was best showcased in the pre-chorus. To me, there was a beautiful feeling that I felt through the catchy chorus. The one part that felt mind-blowing was Mimi’s raps, which had such good intensity but managed to work perfectly with the rest of the song. (9/10)
3. Butterfly – Compared to the previous two tracks, Butterfly takes a mid-tempo approach. For the most part, it was another forgettable track. The only comment I could make was in regards to the sweet melodies. But the bridge was the very part of the song that had me coming back. It felt like it shouldn’t work with its different rhythm but it worked, which was definitely intriguing. (8/10)
4. Sixteen – To me, this song felt like a continuation of Perfect Day, which was released last year on their Coloring Book mini-album. I know they are completely different songs, but I got the same vibes from them. The piano was incredibly striking and the vocals were good. There was a good build-up leading up to the chorus. Chorus itself was catchy. The only letdown was the rap of the song. (7/10)
5. Magic – Ending the album is a much softer song, a complete change-up compared to the rest of the album. What I like about the song is how the vocals and raps felt like they were being whispered, which gave the song some character. I thought the bridge was quite quirky, which made the song intriguing. Overall, it allowed the entire mini-album to end on a great note. (9/10)
Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10
Oh My Girl have made their return to the stage with Secret Garden, which also shares the same name as their latest (and 5th) mini-album. This is Oh My Girl’s first comeback after the departure of JinE, who was still included in the lineup prior to this comeback despite not participating in the promotions.
Secret Garden is actually a pleasing song to listen to. With just a few listens already, the song has managed to grow on me quite a bit. When I first heard a snippet of the song, I was wondering what happened to the aesthetic or energy filled song that we are used to hearing from Oh My Girl. But I guess I was too quick to judge. Secret Garden is orchestral influenced with its dreamy instrumental. With Oh My Girl’s twist, they added a slight presence of a band to make it more upbeat, suitable to incorporate a dance into their stages. The use of electric guitar during their dance break is quite nice, giving the song some variety rather than just the classical instrumentation. The instrumental particularly evokes nostalgia within me, but I cannot pinpoint where this nostalgia is coming from. Their vocals were extremely clear with this song, which makes the song feel so crisp. I liked their chorus but felt like they could have added harmonies to give it a grander effect. Overall, Secret Garden definitely adds to the group’s portfolio as another standout track, in my point of view.
If it weren’t for a particular YouTube comment on the video, I would have completely missed a major detail regarding the music video. It seems like the music video for Secret Garden includes various details that link the past music videos by Oh My Girl to the present video, which ties in nicely with the lyrics of the song. Essentially, what the song is about is one’s ‘Secret Garden‘, which is a reference to one’s imagination. And the entire portfolio of Oh My Girl music videos have been based largely on imagination. Hence we can see different items shared between the videos. The presence of the deer is a reference to Closer and the clouds outside the window reference Coloring Book, to just name a few. If it is the true intention of the imagery, the videos are clearly thought out and interestingly intertwined. I like the video for that fact.
Fitting nicely with the song is the graceful nature of the choreography. I like how some of the moves are fast and sharp, while others were quite slow and fluid. The best part would have to be the dance break, which like the song, gives the choreography a nice kick.
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10
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.