[Review] Move – Taemin (SHINee)

Taemin has made his solo comeback with some new “Move(s)”. And that is the last of punny me for today. Taemin’s latest full-length album, which also shares the same title as the title track, Move, features songs in which he had already performed at his solo concert, a day before the release.

Taemin goes out of the box once again with Move. This time around, he tries a more sensual sounding song that pairs well with the dance background that he is known for. His vocals go surprisingly well with the concept, which was probably one of the highlights of the song.  The aesthetics of the song are definitely a captivating aspect of the song. Moving to the more negative side of the song. The instrumental doesn’t scream ‘major hit’ and remained subtle and non-progressive throughout the entire song. The song also doesn’t rely on a catchy hook or line to get listeners going. But despite all of that, my mind is telling me to say that it is a good song, regardless of what I considered to be its flaw. Instead, every time I listen to the song, I end up being in awe with what he has put out. And I  think that is enough to say how good of a song it is.

Taemin shot 3 music videos for this comeback. One main video. One solo dance performance video and another dance video with a partner. That’s quite a lot, in my mind. What is great about the video, in my opinion, is that it matches the song in terms of its subtleness. There are barely any major changes in the video. From start to end, he dances in the alleyway in the rain. It doesn’t progress much, just like the music. But yet, he pulls the concept off quite well. Awesome, abs and biceps alert for you fangirls out there.

The dance performance is great. We have seen him, time and time again, putting out great choreography for this solo work. This is no exception. There is definitely that sensual nature to it. And while he does perform the same dance as the female back up dancers (that hip swaying tho), there is a masculine side that he puts on display, which I thought was great.

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

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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.

 

 

[Review] Lullaby – Onew (SHINee) & Rocoberry

This week’s SM Station track features Onew from SHINee and Rocoberry, a Korean indie duo. SM Station’s Lullaby is a remake of Rocoberry’s Lullaby. This song joins the growing list of SM Station Season 2 songs, including Dream In A Dream by Ten (NCT), Would U by Red Velvet, Spring Rain by BoA and many others.

Like what the name suggests, the song is a ballad and a really nice one. It fits into the ‘Lullaby’ style of music. It’s very calming and sounds beautiful. I have never heard of Rocoberry (and probably won’t go investigating), but Roco (the female of the duo and the one you can hear in the song) has an amazing voice that compliments Onew’s vocals, which we all know. Both sound superb and amazing. This track also confirms one thing. We need a solo song from Onew. Given the quality of this collaboration,  I have such high expectations. The calmness of the track is quite effective and probably be a track I will turn to in the future if I want to calm down (I was writing an assignment before writing this review). While the instrumental isn’t amazing, the mix between guitar and piano makes it a little interesting. Like most lullabies, however, the track sadly falls towards the more boring side of music. I honestly can’t wish for more, mainly because of its style. Otherwise, I would ruin the track and its calming vibes.

The music video isn’t anything fancy. There are closeups of Onew and Roco by themselves and once we reach the chorus, we see images of a couple dancing in the forest. It matched the song quite nicely and didn’t incorporate anything flashy or ‘loud’ to cause any viewing displeasures. Onew was unrecognisable when I first watched the video, which resulted in me doing a double take and rewatching the video to prove otherwise.

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

[Review] Lonely – Jonghyun (SHINee) ft. Taeyeon (SNSD)

Jonghyun has returned with his newest compilation album. The album titled, The Collection: Story Op. 2, is a follow-up to his previous compilation album, The Collection: Story Op. 1, which contained the main track End of a Day. The main track from the new album features Taeyeon from SNSD and is titled Lonely. A compilation album, for those who don’t know, consists of songs that have been previously released or recordings that have not been released before. Some of the tracks have been unveiled on Jonghyun’s radio show before, while some are new releases.

The song falls into the ballad category, as expected. And it is a good ballad. The song opens up with a simple piano tune and it remains a simple sounding song throughout. There is a small dose of catchiness in the song that makes it goes a long way. I cannot resist the urge to sing along to the “I’m So Lonely” lines. The vocals of both Jonghyun and Taeyeon dominate the songs, however still maintaining the balance with the instrumental. Their voices compliment each other quite nicely. The only thing that doesn’t fit right in the song is the emotions in their vocals. It is a sad song, judging from the lyrics and the overall tone of the song. And while I can hear the emotions in their voices, it was subtle and at times lacking. While I am glad that it is not “in-your-face”, it made the lack of emotions made it feel dry and generic at parts. Furthermore, the song really didn’t seem that memorable. Besides that one line (mentioned early on in the paragraph), I don’t really remember much from the song after listening to it.

The music video fits the loneliness that the song presses on about. Only Jonghyun features in the music video and he looks lonely. There were some scenes that were powerful, especially the one with the tallies on his arm. Overall, the aesthetics of the video made it looked cool, despite it being slow and empty. An example would be the camera shots. Rather than focusing on Jonghyun, they focused on his mouth, which occupied only part of the screen. It probably doesn’t look that fancy but I thought it looked cool. You would think I would find boring, but rather I thought it complimented the song quite well. Besides that, there isn’t much else to talk about (and I am stopping myself here before I start rambling on about other irrelevant stuff).

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7/10

 

[Review] Get The Treasure – SHINee

Source: http://www.allkpop.com/upload/2017/01/af_org/SHINee_1485622735_af_org.jpg

I want to delve back into JPOP releases and hopefully extend my review base to artists who are not KPOP originated groups. It’s a promise that I have been making each year. While I don’t really see myself keeping that promise due to my commitments, I do want to keep doing a few JPOP reviews each year. And since SHINee just made their Japan comeback two weeks ago, why not? This is their 5th full album, titled as 5. SHINee has also released songs in 2016 that form part of the album.

Get The Treasure is something you expected from SHINee. Their Korean tracks have been more experimental in the last few years and the few Japanese tracks I have heard seemed to more consistent, with Get The Treasure fitting SHINee’s portfolio quite nicely. The song starts off abruptly. Not a big fan of that. It just felt too sudden and odd, compared to the rest of the song. Another part that I am shaking my head to (as in saying ‘no’) is the rapping sequence for the bridge. It felt disconnected and doesn’t flow well with the rest of the song. But everything else is pretty good. I love the grand and classy feel that the song has going on. It suits the casino concept that the video featured. The instrumental was spectacular. When they launch you into the chorus, they do not hold back with anything. Horns blaring and their vocals, being the forefront, was particularly strong and powerful. The instrumental here gave it a really nice funky and almost jazz-like flare. The verses did feel a little underwhelming, but it didn’t affect the overall listening experience. The chorus was the main show and they did manage to wow me during the main show.

One thing did jump out at me when watching the video. Their lip-syncing sucks. Not exactly sure if it is the language, but some of them barely moved their lips. But besides that standout issue, everything else in the video was really cool. First of all, the guys look really cool in their suits and black outfits. The mannequin challenge or the ‘pausing of everyone else’ while SHINee roamed around looked amazing. The editing done here has to be one of the most complicated processes ever. And also one of the best. I really enjoyed the choreography scenes. The chandelier dropping and then pausing midway just so the guys could dance with the glass pieces flying about really looked cool. Obviously, they did hold back in the video making process as well. Not even shooting guns could stop these guys!

The dance looked cool and fitting for the song. But it wasn’t as memorable as any of their past dances.

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

[Review] 1 of 1 – SHINee

SHINee has finally returned with their next release. It has been over a year since they released their repackaged album, Married To The Music. Each member has embarked on their own solo work in the past year and has now regrouped to perform as SHINee once again with their newest mini-album.

I am quite torn about the song. I like it but there is a boring side to it as well. Let’s start off with what make this song pretty good. The retro sound is much more pure in this release than any of their past releases. They stayed retro here and did not include any modern sounds. Their vocal work is superb in this song. Flawless. The rapping was definitely a letdown. Sorry to Minho here, but it lacks energy and sounds more complicated than what it needed to be. The autotune was not needed. The rest of the song flowed quite nicely. The chorus made the song feel like a more emotional N Sync or Back Street Boys (and they are already quite emotional sounds). It almost sounds softer as well, compared to those boy groups. I am probably poking into the wrong era, though, but they were the bands that popped in my mind when I first listened to this song. However, the song lacks the intensity that SHINee has continuously used in all their songs. As I said the song sounds quite soft and it just does not sound right for SHINee. I expected something a little more hard-hitting and powerful. Hence why I felt the song was boring. But props to the guys for releasing a song that is purely retro (pretty hard to come by these days – or at least from what I remember).

I personally have yet to watch the video, so I will be giving my initial thoughts on the video here.

  • The cheesy transitions are making me laugh. But I actually like it. It actually quite funny to see the members glide across the screen.
  • The fashion is questionable for today’s standards. I know that most of what they are wearing were in trend in the past. It just surprises me to see what everyone was wearing back then.
  • Using the white background is quite smart. As soon as you see the members, you are drawn to their flashy colours and the members themselves. Really emphasises what everyone is wearing and is very minimalistic.
  • Quite interesting with the models in the video. I am very intrigued with what they are doing. The video shows a nice pattern and the members are just singing around them. At first, I thought they served no purpose in the video, but towards the end, everything become clearer and their presence was really cool.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the video. Might not the best video, but it still fits in well with the retro sound and concept.

I personally don’t think this is the right dance for the song. It lacks energy. It doesn’t really pick up until the end of the song, which is disappointing. I personally liked the end of the dance (the small bit where the instrumental also picks up after the final chorus) more than any other part of the dance.

Rating – 7/10

[Review] She Is – Jonghyun (SHINee)

Jonghyun made his solo debut last year and has officially made his first solo comeback after more than a year. For those who don’t know or remember, he made his debut with Deja Boo and Crazy. Now, he is back with another album and has released She Is as the title track for this promotional run.

This song kind of reminds of his past releases. Not that they are the similar standard tracks as I called them last time, but the variety and different sounds he has going on, in his songs. And this song is not standard. It is so much more vibrant and modern in terms of sound. His English may be a little troublesome. It sounds a lot like “Shits” rather than “She Is”. Where is that break between the words, when you need Korea??? His vocals this time around rolled off the tip of his tongue quite nicely. The vocals matched the instrumental quite well. The song flowed quite nicely, despite the use of the disjointed electronic/ synth dominated instrumental. The song does seem to limit his talent, as I feel like a lot more could have been showcased in the song. HI ad-libs are quite artistic and fitted the song quite well. Overall, I think it was a much better song than his debut songs, which I didn’t think they were good.

Not sure about the odd filter placed across the video. It made me sleepy. But I guess it was to counteract the bright clothing and colours that you could tell were there. I just thought the video looked a little too dark. The use of yellow though in the SM Entertainment videos for the past few releases have been a little evident and emphasised. It seems like he is a guy with many jobs (I need a job, hire me). And he doesn’t seem to be that happy, with everyone going to him. It is a quite confusing song. I do like this style of video, but sometimes it is quite repetitive. But it is the director’s style after all. This one was a little confusing and I can’t really tell what is going on. SO, if you know what is going on, comment below. Enlighten us with your knowledge and deciphering skills.

As for the dance, I was unimpressed. The stages were pretty boring and the dance didn’t really draw my attention, though. In terms of style, I feel like he went backwards more than anything else with this dance. Backwards, as in “not improving”.

Overall, it was a pretty solid comeback. A lot more could have been improved on, but what we have already can satisfy different fan’s needs. 6.5/10 PS. Check out White T-Shirt. That track on his album is really good.

Press Your Number – Taemin (SHINee)

As I promised, the second review for the night is Press Your Number. If you are looking for the other Taemin review which I did for Drip Drop, simply CLICK HERE.

When I first heard the song, I was genuinely confused about what I was hearing. But I think I got my mind around the song. The song opens up as a slow dance kind of feel, with a nice RnB style background instrumental. Not much is going on and honestly thought I would’ve gotten pretty bored of the song. A few clicks and what seems to only be a piano. It soon starts to get a little more electronic with a few “drum” sounds. But then, bam, the chorus comes along and changes it up completely, with the funky retro sounds. After the chorus, it goes back to being that slow RnB style. But then that funky beat comes in and then it continues to alternate for one more time. It is an interesting combination, and one that works quite well. It literally brought me to the edge of the seat when I was listening to it, wanting more funk and then wanting more slow RnB. Taemin’s vocals were okay in this one, not his personal best. A few times, it came out a little too soft for my liking, but other times, it was loud and clear. It also didn’t have its own style within the song. For Drip Drop, the huskiness played really well, but in this, it sounded more normal than anything else. Overall, as a song, it is a pretty good song. You might not get into it the first time around, but you get there eventually. If I were to choose between the two songs. I go with Drip Drop, since it was a song that I got into much faster than this one.

But the song sounds amazing when it is paired with the drama version of the video. Taemin goes onto the path of a thief after SM probably did refuse to pay him for the past year. Hahaha.. Love that joke. Props to whoever started it off. The video starts off with him robbing a bank. His car is later found crashed with no one else in it. From there, it gets a little confusing. We see him “enjoying” the “fruits of his labour” with his friends in a freaking mansion. And then he gets kidnapped by somebody. Afterwards, we see some kind of flashback or forward of his friends/colleagues getting caught and he feeling bad about it. And then there are scenes of two Taemin (Taemin robbing Taemin and Taemin getting away with the help of Taemin). Urgghhh… And then at the end, he ends up burning his car in an attempt to get rid of any evidence. So much to look at. Really genuinely confused. I don’t think there is a clear timeline at all, which is why it is confusing. But it draws me in. Once again, the cinematography and editing of the video makes it amazing. Oh, did I also mention that this video has this Justin Bieber feel to it? I think it is a great video, like Drip Drop and while the drama is confusing, it pulls me in and I just want to continue watching.

The dance is also great. Actually, amazing since we are talking about Taemin. Some of it, just blew me away. The rest of it, had my jaws on the ground. Some of his moves, I can only dream of doing, like that part at around 3:10 of the performance video. Damn.

Hmmm… So hard to choose between Drip Drop and Press Your Number. Such great releases and glad I found time to review them both in their whole flesh and everything. 8.5/10

Answer the poll below, which Taemin song did you like more? Drip Drop or Press Your Number? I know, possibly an impossible question to ask.

 

Drip Drop – Taemin (SHINee)

Taemin is back with his newest and first ever full album. He has released two songs with music videos, with a total of 8 other songs on the album. The two songs with music videos (and I am assuming will be his two title tracks) are Drip Drop and Press Your Number. This is the review for Drip Drop (duh?) and the review for Press Your Number will be released later today. I can guarantee that.

While SHINee and Taemin’s last solo release were hard sounding songs, this one is surprisingly calm and soft. But I am not exactly fond of the choppiness that the song has going with it. The start of the song was just perfection. Even the first chorus was great. But afterwards when the song started to pick up and have that choppy effect, I just did not feel it. Great in a musical sense, but it just doesn’t sit well with me. If I were to listen to this continuously, I probably get a headache. Not in the sense it is bad, but because of the choppiness. But when that effect stops, the song is suitable and I don’t have any issues with the song. The husky vocals of Taemin goes really well with the song’s style. Even his high notes at the end fit in well, despite it being more a dance song than a vocal centred song. Minus the choppiness, I would put this as a perfect song.

That drone camera plus scenery action at the start is amazing. But him in that bright red tracksuit, is kind of a bit too bold for my liking. Beside that, all the rest of the video falls into place. Great scenery selection, great cinematography, great dancers, great choice of Taemin, wait. Hmmm… That is it to the video. Nothing else. The video had great camera shots that complimented the choreography. Moving onto the dance, this video shows how great Taemin is at dancing and how he is capable of such artistic looking dances.  It is totally in sync with the dancers, but also with the song as well. Great to know that he is not afraid to get his clothes dirty during the dance. And the ending seems simple, but with the rest of the dance just before that, that “grand” bow is much needed. And a standing ovation!

Song is great minus that one problem and the video was just too beautiful with the dance. 9/10

Answer the poll below, which Taemin song did you like more? Drip Drop or Press Your Number? I know, possibly an impossible question to ask.

Recap of Golden Disk Awards 2016 + Thoughts

Probably one of the biggest award ceremonies for music and also probably one of the most prestigious, the 30th Golden Disk Awards (GDA) was held on the 20th to the 21st of January 2016. The GDA was supposed to be held in China but was moved back to South Korea due to the recent earthquakes that occurred there just 1 or two weeks before the scheduled event. Even though many people were shocked and feared the award ceremony would be either postponed or cancelled, the ceremony went off without a single hiccup and was broadcast live in both Korea and China.

What I like about this particular awards is that is focuses on both the physical albums and downloaded songs of the year. In other words, more awards for everyone. It is also nice to see who excelled in what (hahahaha…). The digital awards were handed out on the 20th of January, while the physical album awards were handed out on the 21st of January. The award show on the first night was hosted by Jun Hyun Moo, Kim Jong Kook and Seohyun (SNSD). The second night was hosted by Jun Hyun Moo, Leeteuk (Super Junior) and Krystal (F(x)) I have recapped the award winners on the two nights below.

Disk Daesang (Album Of The Year) – EXODUS (EXO)
Digital Daesang (Song Of The Year) – Loser (Big Bang)
Disk Bonsang (Best Artist) – APINK, VIXX, F(x), BTS, CNBLUE, Jonghyun (SHINee), EXO, Beast, Super Junior
Digital Bonsang (Best Artist) – Red Velvet, EXID, AOA, Zion.T, Park Jin Young, Sistar, Taeyeon (SNSD), Kyuhyun (Super Junior), Big Bang, Girl’s Generation
Best New Artist – GFriend, iKON, Seventeen, Twice
Popularity Award – SHINee
Best Rap / Hip Hop – SanE
Best Rock – Hyukoh
Global Popularity Award – EXO
Best Group Vocal Award – BTOB
Best Solo Vocal Award – Jung Yonghwa (CN Blue)
Best Male Artist Award – Big Bang
Best Female Artist Award – Taeyeon (SNSD)
Next Generation Star Award – Monsta X

Once again, this wide spread of award winners seem to be more representative of main stream KPOP. Not that I am complaining. Most of the award recipients were similar to the Seoul Music Award 2016, however a lot more artists won in this ceremony, since their was more rewards. Not that I am being a hater or anything, but Kyuhyun’s bonsang award seems a little far fetched. From memory (correct me if I am wrong though), his song never charted high on the charts and likewise Super Junior barely makes an impact on the digital side of the music industry. So I am a little suspicious of how he managed to get an award for a digital bonsang. Saying that, he did sell a lot. Like a lot on the physical side. But beside that, I think it was a nice range of artists who won and I think it is accurate (as in which artists managed to shine the brightest in 2015).

I really need to think of ways to start off the different sections, but once again… I think out of the all the ceremonies that have already been broadcast (NOTE: I am typing this prior to the Gaon Chart Awards), GDA has the best performances. Why? Because many of the artists performed multiple songs and I really enjoy how some artists (or their producers) integrate different songs together. GFriend, Red Velvet, EXID, Seventeen and BTS had the best stages on the nights. Some artists performed some songs that were released in the past (in previous years, such as EXID’s Up & Down, VIXX’s Error, Sistar’s Touch My Body etc.), which I kind of liked, but, the songs were released last year… so maybe a little outdated. But overall, the performances, I think, were to a very high standard and pleased me (*points at myself* and *acting as the biggest critic of all time*).

Below are just the few performances that I found and slapped together in a playlist format in no particular order.

For a last minute change to the ceremony, it managed to do pretty well in my books. Awards, performances. Everything was just great. There is one more to go of this season’s award ceremonies, which will be coming out in the coming days. Until then, bye!!

 

Recap of Seoul Music Awards 2015 + Thoughts

The Seoul Music Awards is one of the award ceremonies held the year after for the year before. For example, the award ceremony for the 25th Seoul Music Award was held in 2016, but celebrates the flourishing artists of 2015. Understand yet? Well now that hard to understand concept has been dealt with, the 25th Seoul Music Award ceremony was held on the 14th of January 2016, in Seoul. It is said that this award ceremony is one of the most prestigious awards ceremonies for the year as it recognises the popular and talented artists of the year. Selection process for winners on the night are as follow: 20% mobile votes, 10% Popularity Polls, 40% music sales (both digital and physical album sales) and 30% judging panel’s scores. Only artists who released singles or albums in 2015 are eligible to win.

Like all ceremonies, a number of actors, actresses and other celebrities attended the event to give out awards. The night was hosted by Jun Hyun Moo, EXID’s Hani and Honey Lee. All artists that received the award on the night performed on stage (minus those whose awards were accepted on their behalf by label mates – Big Bang is who I am trying to refer to).

Just to recap the awards winners of the night:
Bonsang Awards – EXID, Red Velvet, Taeyeon (SNSD), VIXX, Yoon Mi Rae, Zion.T, BTS, EXO, APINK, Sistar, Big Bang & SHINee.
Best New Artist – iKON, GFriend, Seventeen
Performance Award – Hyukoh
Best Trot Award – Hong Jin Young
Best RnB Award – Sane
Best Ballad Award – BTOB
Best OST Award – Jang Jae In (performed with Wonwoo (Seventeen) on the night)
Male Dance Performance Award – Monsta X
Female Dance Performance Award – Ailee
Mobile Popularity Award – Kim Junsu (JYJ)
Hallyu Special Award – EXO
Record Of The Year (Digital Release) – Bang Bang Bang (Big Bang)
Record Of The Year (Physical Release) – Kiss My Lip (BOA)
Daesang Award (Best Artist Of The Year) – EXO

The Bonsang awards seem to be more representative of the mainstream KPOP this year. Finally, Seventeen get their Best New Artist award that I think they truly deserve. Most likely they got it for their record breaking album sales. And finally some people decided to pay attention to BTOB. I am not technically fond of their ballads in the past year, but hey, it looks like South Korea is finally paying attention to them. Ailee’s award is one I am not exactly sure of. I don’t think it was the best dance performance of the year. I think that belongs to a particular rookie who was present on the night as well. Regarding Kim Junsu, who was apparently not invited to the ceremony despite winning a key award on the night, there is some shady business going on. But hopefully, when this matter is resolved, justice for Junsu and JYJ will occur. 2015 was a step forward for them, with the introduction of the JYJ Law.

Ailee should not have been pestered for the cameras catching her “on her mobile”. The netizens make it sound like she was too busy texting another person or was too busy looking at pictures of food. Put simply, she was just downloading an app to support SHINee and was later seen supporting Boa. People should really see the bigger picture (or in this case, wait for it) before making a big deal out it. Also, Boa’s award. Even though it was nice to see her win something, I agree with a lot of people who say she got the award just because of her senior status. It was her 15 year anniversary and she probably wouldn’t have received any award for her album if she debuted later on. Also, Starship should not deprive Sistar of any chances to get on the stage. They looked like they really enjoyed being there and were probably excited for their first stage together in what seemed to be 6 months.

Performance wise, I actually did not pay that much attention to the performances in this ceremony. Some of them were disappointing to watch, while others just did not appeal to me or make me want to watch. All I am going to say is the few that I did manage to watch (mainly the first half) were okay. Just minus the introduction for EXID’s performance. That was shocking. Stand out was probably GFriend’s intro. While their fan chant came to a close second. I don’t why I feel that way regarding the performances, I just was not feeling it. For the past few years which I have been watching the SMA ceremonies, their performances are by far the weakest of all ceremonies. Below I have put a handful of performances that I could quickly find into a playlist from the night.

Well, that is it for my wrap up of the Seoul Music Awards 2016. Hopefully, next year is better. Less controversy and better stages required to make this an award ceremony that I can look forward to.

 

Recap of MelOn Music Awards 2015 and Thoughts

The MMA or MelOn Music Awards were held on the 7th of November 2015. MelOn does not refer to the fruit but rather the music chart and on-line music store in South Korea. It is held by LOEN Entertainment, which owns the music distribution company. The music award has its own unique criteria where it only calculates digital sales of artists in the past year and incorporate these sales with on-line votes of fans.

The following artists, groups and actors attended the ceremony: Big Bang, Yoona (SNSD), Hyukoh, Hyorin & Dasom (Sistar) (did not perform), Toy (did not perform), APINK, Zion.T, Sane, iKON, GFriend, Mad Clown (did not perform), Hong Jin Young, BTS, Red Velvet, EXID, Monsta X, Winner (did not perform). Actors, actresses and other celebrities attended the night as presenters.

The show on the night was hosted by Yoo Byung Jae and Seo Kang Joon. They were shortly joined by Lee Boo Yi, Kim Shin Young, Kim So Hyun & Irene (Red Velvet). The red carpet was hosted by Youngji (Former Member of Kara) and Seo Yuri.

Below are the winners on the night. Afterwards, I have left some comments regarding some awards:
Top 10 Artist – SHINee, Girl’s Generation, Hyukoh, Toy, Big Bang, Sistar, EXO, APINK, Zion.T, Sane.
Best New Artist – iKON & GFriend
Best Rap/Hip Hop – Mad Clown ft. Jinsil (Fire)
Best Ballad – Baek Ah Yeon ft. Young K (Shouldn’t Have)
Best RnB – Naul (Living In The Same Time)
Best Rock – Kim Sung Gyu (The Answer)
Best OST – Loco & Yuju (Spring Is Gone By Chance)
Best Trot – Hong Jin Young (Love WiFi)
Best Pop – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars (Uptown Funk)
Best Male Dance – BTS (I Need U)
Best Female Dance – Red Velvet (Ice Cream Cake)
Best Folk – 10cm (Sseudam Sseudam)
Best Indie – Standing Egg ft. Wheein & Obroject Yundak (The Sunlight Hurts)
Netizen Popularity Award – Big Bang (Bang Bang Bang)
Hot Trend Award – Infinite Challenge (Yeongdong Expressway Music Festival)
Best Music Video – Park Jin Young ft. Jessi (Who’s Your Mama?)
Song Writer Award – Teddy
MBC Music Star Award – EXID
1theK Performance Award – Monsta X
Album Of The Year (Daesang) – EXODUS
Song Of The Year (Daesang) – Bang Bang Bang
Artist Of The Year (Daesang) – Big Bang

I personally think above is a fair spread for award winners. While I am not knowledgeable to comment on categories such as Best Indie and Best Folk, the rest show 2015 in its glory. Once again, I think Seventeen deserves the Best New Artist award and GFriend finally got what they deserved (it’s a good thing. Kind of sounded like I was hinting at something bad). Sistar and APINK’s Top 10 awards caught me off guard since they were quickly taken over by other artists on the digital charts and failed to be up to par with the other artists. I am glad to see Kim Sung Gyu win something for his album. It was really good.

And as per usual, there were performances that night from the groups who won awards. Performers included: Hyukoh, Big Bang, APINK, Zion.T, Sane, BTS, EXID, Red Velvet, Monsta X, iKON and GFriend. It would have been nicer to see some more artists who won from the night perform. I think best performance of the night was BTS with their cool jackets that had light coming off them. A very large portion of the show was dedicated to Big Bang, which had people talking. Sure, they won a lot of award, but I agree with majority of the audience. Big Bang’s performances just made it feel like one Big Bang concert. Sure, they won prestigious awards, but it just robbed the other artists of their night, who also put hard effort into making 2015 their year. Would have I gotten angry over the fact they turned the award show into a mini concert? No, but maybe they should have dropped one or two songs.

Overall, I think MMA15 was pretty fair. They had a large variety of winners (mainly because they have a lot of categories) and minus that small complaint regarding the performances, the show was great. Oh, but damn was the presentation of the awards cringe worthy. Probably this ceremony takes the award for  “Worst Presentation of Awards” award. Could have done it in a way where the presenters did not feel that ashamed of themselves.

 

 

Recap of MAMA 2015 and Thoughts

Did you forget about the MAMA awards held by MNET in 2015? Or are we all trying to forget it for its bias and unfair system? Well, don’t fret, I am here to remind you of the disappointment or joy that you felt.

The MNET Asian Music Awards (or MAMA) was held on the 2nd of December in… Hong Kong. Again. Voting for the awards began in October of the same year and I thought there was a fair range of nominees and the committee selected a variety if talents for each award.

The following artists attended and performed at the awards ceremony: Taeyeon (SNSD), GOT7, BTS, Hyuna (4 minute), Park Ji Young, Seventeen, Monsta X, F(x), SHINEE, EXO, Big Bang, iKON, Zion.T, Crush, Sane. 2NE1 & Psy. Pet Shop Boys were invited as special guest performers on the night. Red Velvet, Twice, Tiffany and Seohyun from SNSD also attended by did not perform.

I have recapped the winners below. I shall give some comments afterwards regarding the winners.
Best New Male Artist – iKON.
Best New Female Artist – Twice.
Best Male Vocal Performance – Zion.T (Eat)
Best Female Vocal Performance – Ailee (Mind Your Business)
Best Male Dance Performance – SHINee (View).
Best Female Dance Performance – Red Velvet (Ice Cream Cake)
Best Solo Dance Performance – Hyuna (Roll Deep).
Best Collaboration / Subunit – Zion.T & Crush (Just)
Best Rap Performance – Sane (Me You)
Best Band Performance – CN BLUE (Cinderella)
Best Male Group – EXO
Best Female Group – SNSD
Best Male Artist – Park Jin Young
Best Female Artist – Taeyeon
Best Music Video – Bang Bang Bang
Best Album (Album of the Year) – EXODUS
Best Song (Song Of The Year) – Bang Bang Bang
Best Artist (Artist Of The Year) – Big Bang

Best New Male Artist is probably the category that has me shaking my head the most. iKON is slowly showing their capability, but I feel like Seventeen is already two steps ahead of them and deserve the award more. Best Female Vocal Performance should have gone to Taeyeon and Taeyeon should have received 2 awards that night. Not dissing Ailee, but it wasn’t her best song or vocal performance. Best Music Video should have also gone to F(x). Best Male Dance Performance is an iffy category for me. SHINee did have a great dance, but sadly, I felt that BTS was missing out due to the lack of nomination in that category. Big Bang took out most of the awards, but I don’t think it matters. Big Bang dominated summer in South Korea last year with their continuous releases and had one of the most popular songs of the year (according to download and streaming charts). JYP’s award caught me a little off guard but I guess out of all the nominees, he had a good song. Besides the categories I mentioned, I think the awards were “fair”. Okay maybe not, but who MAMA awarded that night, I mostly agree with (given the nominees).

But wait, there were a few more awards that were given out that night:
Worldwide Favourite Artist – Big Bang
Global Fan’s Choice Male Artist – EXO
Global Fan’s Choice Female Artist – F(x)
Best World Performers – BTS
Next Generation Asian Artist – Monsta X
Best Asian Style – EXO
Worldwide Inspiration Award – Pet Shop Boys
There were also other awards which were awarded to artists from other countries as Best Asian Artist. Best Engineer, Best Live Entertainment and Best Producer awards were also given to 3 people for each award from different countries.

Out of these awards, I am a little confused with the Best Asian Style award. Out of all that walked the red carpet, I was shocked when EXO came along. Also, Pet Shop Boys. I am with majority of people who have never heard of the band before.

Per usual, there were many different performances on the night. The show opened up with Taeyeon’s I, which I thought was a really beautiful stage. She sounded flawlessly on the stage. BTS made their comeback on the night and collaborated with GOT7, who also performed If You Do. JYP had a special stage which probably scarred both GOT7 and Twice and he went a little wild towards the end of his performance. iKON performed a medley of their songs. Monsta X and Seventeen collaborated, while F(x) and Pet Shop Boys joined hands together. We also saw Sane perform with Hyuna and Jessi. Also a stage with both Show Me The Money contestants and Unpretty Rapstar. EXO, SHINee, Big Bang each had their stages with multiple songs and got the audience really hyped up. Psy also made his comeback and performed alongside with his new songs, Gangnam Style. Probably the most talk that night was 2NE1’s performance which caught everyone off guard. It was nice to see them, but whether it was appropriate is just another topic all together.

Out of all the stages, I thought Taeyeon had the most beautiful stage. For the dance aspect, Seventeen and Monsta X’s performance was really well polished and amazing.

Overall, I thought the night was worth it. It may seem like YG has a lot of influence over the MAMA awards and that is probably true. But whether it is right or not, is another discussion in its self. Just regarding the invitations to the awards, it did seem like someone did forget to invite people. Some stages seem like they could have used a little more attention to give it that grand feel that the MAMA awards is meant to uphold, like in previous years. But overall, I thought the night was pretty good. Wait… Did I just repeat the first sentence of this paragraph? Guess I am going to call it a day now. Hope you enjoyed my recap!

D×D×D – SHINee

One of my goals for this is to review more Japanese songs. And it has been a goal that I have been trying to achieve for the past few years. While I spent some time reviewing only a limited amount of Japanese songs during the first six months of last year, I barely did any reviews in the second half of the year. But I did take some time to discover new artists from Japan and hopefully, when they release something this year, I will jump onto it and review it. SHINee made their comeback to Japan after promoting in Korea last year with a brand new album. D.D.D was the title track for the album, which had the same name.

The song is like a rock and dance mash up which sounds pretty good. There is a lot of auto-tune to start off the song and that was a major turn off for me. But I stayed around and the rest of the track is great. Just that auto-tuned was too excessive in my opinion. When I first heard the chorus, I was a little torn. The genre of the chorus seemed to be a little different compared to the rest of the song. I personally like the chorus now, just sometimes when I listen to the song over and over again, it just feels a little disjointed and does not match well with the rest of the song. Vocals were not that strong in this song, but it suited the instrumental. Minho’s rapping was bomb as hell in the song. Personally, this sound goes well with SHINee in my opinion. If they went with this sound in Korea, I think it would be a worthwhile move for them. Come to the think of it, a Korean version would be nice. Overall, I think this is a great song, but it took a few listen to take everything in and consolidate different aspects of the song.

The music video had a more edgier feel to it. More than what we are used to. The video is quite dark and suits that rock theme that the song had going for. I feel like the solo shots of the members where they were standing in the corridors or in tight places were the best part of the video. The dance set seemed generic and boring. Not exactly fond of the holograms of the members that appeared in the video. It just looked like their souls were leaving their own bodies. And of course, everyone in the comments on the video is enjoyed the SHINee times 2. Why ahve one SHINee when you get the option of two. I also like it how they have them positioned as if they were having some duel or dance off. The ending was somewhat dramatic. Fire setting the alarm off, chair is being smashed, TV is being smashed, Minho ripping this shirt (per usual) and Onew with his gas…. I had to. Could not resist.

The dancing was not that impressive. There was a lot of bouncing and all, but beside that, there was not much to comment on.

First Japanese review of the year and I promise you: more will be coming. For D×D×D, 7/10.

 

Married To The Music – SHINee

SHINee has returned to the stage after promoting View back in May. This time, they are joining the retro train with a throwback to music in the 80s, with Married To The Music.

This is a pretty nice song. It is definitely very different due that 80s feel it is going for. I love those small sections just before the start of the chorus. They add a more 80s feel to the song, even more than what the song is already showing. Not a big fan of the verses in this song. Not that they are bad, but they are pretty bland compared to the rest of the song. I really enjoyed Onew’s voice in this song. His vocal style and sound really fits in well with this song. The group’s harmonising in this song is pretty amazing as well. While the song is pretty unique, I don’t think this has the potential to turn into an iconic song. And honestly, I enjoyed listening to it the first few times, but then it was just forgotten for me. It really did not have much for me to go back to and I don’t find it catchy. But nevertheless, it is a pretty “popping” song that takes us back to probably the biggest era in music for today’s pop. But that is pretty debatable.

I enjoyed the music video. It had that Rocky Horror Show feel to it, which was quite big at the time (and I think it was big a few years back as well). I love how the whole music video can literally be turned into a movie. And how it was shot with a movie like feel. It is pretty creepy when you think back to it. Having your head lobed off or have your facial features stolen by some pretty and mysterious girl. To me, this has to be one of the best music videos this year to date. Everything that came together for this video worked really well with each other. The concept, the angles, the members, the editing and the really cool effects played well with each other. Jonghyun’s lips singing while in the bowl was pretty cool. Probably one of the most unique music videos to date. But if you don’t like heads getting chopped off (there is no blood in this video though), then you might not want to watch this.

The dance was really cool as well. Using back up dancers as your support is a pretty good idea to give off that impression of floating. Well, at least that is what I think they are trying to get at. I enjoyed how they interacted with the camera for the dance this time. It suits the fun side of KPOP that we are clearly missing.

Overall, a pretty good comeback but it got forgotten quickly. But it was hella unique and gave everyone memories to the 80s. 8/10

View – SHINee

-whispers- SHINee’s Back. Yeah… I just had to. After over a year of no promotions as a group in Korea, the 5 member boy group is finally back with a brand new album. Let’s see what the band has done since their last promotions of Everybody back in 2013. Taemin and Jonghyun made their respective solo debuts in 2014 and 2015. 2014 was essentially SHINee’s year in Japan with loads of promotions, releasing numerous songs in Japan and having tours and concerts in the country. And they recently had their 4th Korean tour in May. So they have been busy even though as a group they were more in Japan than Korea.

This song is pretty amazing. At first I thought it would be a very weak song. It lacked a lot the first time around. But when I got to listen to it more, I have to say it grew a lot on me. It was a powerful song is a very subtle way. It is a song that I would expect attract a lot of young teenagers nowadays, mainly because that is what they are all listening to now. And I said that in an elder’s voice. Hahaha… Not but seriously, I now think that this song can top so much. It is catchy and addictive. The instrumental is quite strong on its own and the vocal work is adds another dimension to the song entirely. I may have wanted a rap sequence somewhere in the song, mainly because that is what I expected from Minho, not just three lines. The ad-libs really did not go overboard in this song. The high pitch vocals were not needed, because I can imagine them singing at a lower note and still rocking this song. But overall, a pretty amazing song.

The music video made entirely no sense to me. I got the really obvious parts, but beside that, I felt it did not match the lyrics that well. From the music video, the boys are kidnapped by a group of girls somehow. Don’t know how because they kidnapped the guys in the city, with guns and masks on. Wouldn’t that be obvious? And where was the security team? Anyhow, it looks like they were taken to a more tropical jungle and released. To which they decided to stay with the girls, do some illegal work and partying up a storm with their kidnappers. Oh, and making out with them. Ummm.. Yes, the view was nice, but they are your kidnappers. Just a kindly reminder. AND YESS!! SM has finally unleashed SHINee out of the box. Can you believe it? I expect a brand new trend with SM music video’s. F(x), Red Velvet, SHINee and from memory, EXO as well. Good work!!!

The dance was okay. It matched the song really well. It just doesn’t have that SHINee feel that I am used to. There really were no iconic parts to the dance, like Ring Ding Dong, Sherlock, Everybody etc. But it did do the job for the song and comeback.

Song was amazing music video was okay (minus the confusion) and the dance managed to do well. Minho’s biceps agree with me. So do many Shawols. 7/10