[Album Review] Holiday Night (6th Studio Album) – SNSD

SNSD or Girl’s Generation wrapped up their promotions for Holiday and All Night yesterday. But their 10 year anniversary celebrations aren’t over yet!! I haven’t done my album review yet!! (hehehehe…). I wrote the comments for each song before this introduction, so there is something that I observed. I mentioned it down below but the vocals in this album are flawless. I am amazed because this is the first time where I loved 99% of the vocal work. To find out about what else I like, read down below (Another long review, I apologise).

Holiday Night Album Cover

1..Girls Are Back – It actually has been a while since SNSD brought the girls out. So their first song was appropriately named in a way that exclaimed there were back. And the track did just that. Not once letting you down, the funky dance track lets you know the girls are still sticking around. I love the chorus, which gives it a dynamic and groovy feel. The vocal work here is also phenomenal! (10/10)

2. All Night (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for All Night. (8/10)

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

4. FanFan is an upbeat track that reminds me of the KPOP in the 90s, almost like a Shinhwa track from that era. There is a level of intensity that makes this an unforgettable song. That being said, there was a part of the verse that I felt was too soft for the rest of the song. But everything else in the song was spot on. From the vocals to the instrumental, everything felt just right. Taeyeon’s ad-lib at the end was amazing. (9.5/10)

5. Only One – It’s the ballad that you just can’t help by swaying along to the music. There is a part of me that thinks this is a solid song, while the other part of me feels that the song is somewhat disjointed. If you listen carefully, the instrumental tends to change around a bit which makes it sound a little odd. Once again, the vocals are on point. If this somehow sounded sweeter, I think I would dig this track more. (8/10)

6. One Last Time – Out of the all the songs on the album, excluding the title tracks, this is my most favourite. There is an emotional side to the song, which you feel very strongly as you listen to the song. They don’t really hold back on the sadness. More over, their vocals are highlighted nicely with the melodies and the ballad instrumental. I can’t find any flaws in this song. It is genuinely my pick for a perfect song. Understanding the lyrics of the song does make me a little sad, as it would be perfect as a disbandment song. But I won’t go there. (10/10)

7. Sweet Talk – Right off the bat, it sounds like a song that Ariana Grande or some other Western pop star would have put out. And it would have been a direct hit as soon as it was released. The vocals are amazing but the raps could have been given more boldness and backing. They felt weak in comparison to the rest of the song, which was disappointing. I like it but if the raps were stronger, I would have loved it some more. (8/10)

8. Love Is Bitter – There is a nice Broadway sound to the song, which gives it some character. The title makes it sound like a cheesy ballad, but instead, we get something a little bolder. What I liked is how they gave the start of the chorus to the people who usually get the least amount of lines in the song (Hyoyeon and Yuri), giving the girls a chance to show off what they got. Of course, they do a splendid job and remind us of their hidden talents that should get the stage spotlight all the time as well! (9/10)

9. It’s You (오랜 소원)It’s You is a song written by Yuri for the fans who have stood by their side for the last 10 years. It is a decent song that I am sure all SONEs around the world would love. Personally, it doesn’t suit my tastes but the song’s meaning is clearly touching. I felt like it could have better melodies or some sort of deeper backing vocals to give it some foundation. But overall, it is still a good song. (8/10)

10. Light Up The Sky – What a way to end off the album. The song seems to be directed to a particular someone who used to be by the side of the 8 girls for the last 10 years. As a fan, that does hit home quite strongly. Once again, the vocals are amazing. Each member has clearly poured themselves into the song, which is why I think this is also a remarkable song. The chorus of this ballad has a catchy sound to it, with the way it is presented. I keep on coming back for more and so should you! (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

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Holiday Night Teaser Image

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[Review] All Night – SNSD

SNSD is 10 years old!!! The group debuted back in August 2007 and has since become of the biggest and well-known groups in the KPOP industry. Fast forward 10 years, the group (just a few hours back) dropped their 6th studio album and title tracks, Holiday (which I have already written a review for) and All Night!

All Night is a fantastic mix of past and present. The verses of the song give off a retro sound, which reminds me of the 70s and 80s at certain parts. The chorus brings the more recent musical elements, in my opinion. The chorus resembles pop songs that could have been released in the past few months or years. The mix is very interesting as it does give you a feel of how music has travelled through time. The song is quite catchy and attractive. I love the various tempos that the song goes through, from upbeat to more slower sections. The raps and the vocals fit well with the song, but they don’t seem to bring that impact that the song needed. That doesn’t mean I am disappointed with it because I am totally digging the song. But I felt they could have gone that extra mile with the song. If we were looking at All Night and Holiday side-by-side, I think Holiday will win over All Night. But it is still a good song overall.

That retro vibe played well into the music video. Their outfits and the set just looks wonderful in the video. While they did shrink the screen once again, it did make a lot more sense for the retro concept they were going for. Most importantly, the video linked below features a documentary, which I am sure the girls are talking about what SNSD and their journey means to them. I like that approach, but I prefer the song to be in one block, rather it fading in and out. It just feels disjointed and looses the aesthetics of the song. But what makes me even happier is that ending where they bring the old footage of SNSD back, when there were 9 members. It’s beautiful and a nice trip down memory lane.

[Updated] The choreography was actually quite nice. Though it did look odd for a retro styled come back, the performance was worth watching. Once again, it isn’t the best dance of the year but it managed to go well with the song, in general.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10 [Updated] 
Overall Rating – 8/10 [Updated] 

[Review] Holiday – SNSD

The Queens of KPOP are back to celebrate their 10th year since debut. It has been a wild ride for the girls since their debut on the 5th of August 2007. 10 years on, they are releasing their 6th studio album, which joins the long line of hits from the girl groups. This 6th album is titled as Holiday Night and features two title tracks, Holiday and All Night (the review will be out shortly!).

Holiday just wants to make me get my groove on. It is a flashy song that catches your attention with its show-tune kind of sound. You can expect this song at a musical, but SNSD brings it you on a stage and music video! It’s super catchy and isn’t overly complicated, which makes it easy on the ears. Like the repetition of the “Ho-Ho-Holiday” just make me want to go back and replay the song even more! The vocals work is amazing and the Hyoyeon’s rap fits in really well. The only problem I find is how the song ends. It ends abruptly, which means the song is cut off awkwardly. Given how the song is very upbeat and catchy, an abrupt cut off doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the song. But overall, it is one damn, near-perfect song that will I would gladly see rise to the top of the charts and replay many, many times!

What is my most favourite word to use in these reviews? ‘Amazing’. And guess what else is amazing? SNSD’s music video for Holiday! Oh, that was cheesy. But seriously, this video is totally rocking. That show-tune vibe that I was talking about was shown nicely through the various sets and scenes throughout the video. The sets themselves were highlights of the music video. The final set of the stage gave the video the right atmosphere for their 10-year celebration, which I too, thought was cool. I also loved the featuring of a muppet. During the second verse, the way they managed to film and choreograph the dance to fit the lineup of the members singing (Sooyoung, Yoona, Yuri and Sunny), which I thought was really cool! The video does not disappoint and compliments the song nicely.

While we don’t see much of the choreography in the video, I think there was enough to write about. I do hope that part that I mentioned above is also included in the stage performances. That would look really cool. There just doesn’t seem to be a catchy move or a highlight, which does make it somewhat weaker. But overall, a fair dance.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

 

[Review] Wannabe – Hyoyeon (SNSD)

Hyoyeon from Girl’s Generation has returned with her latest single. Her previously collaborated with Miss A’s Min and Jo Kwon and released a single titled as Born To Be Wild. She later went on to release Mystery, her first solo single. Both these songs were released for SM Station. This is her second single, with the song titled Wannabe, which also features SanE.

Right from the very start, we hear a constant groaning in the background of the song. It is undeniably a turn-off and quite annoying. She usually raps when she is a part of Girl’s Generation, but there is a different sound in this song, compared to works as part of the 8-member girl group. I actually think this tough sound fits her. Her raspy voice gives it a boost in terms of energy, which goes a long way in this song. But the part I love the most is the chorus. It’s catchy and provided much needed relief from that groaning at the start. The verses delved into a hip-hop centred sound, while the chorus felt like it was more retro pop. Odd combination and it doesn’t work for me. While it didn’t seem that apparent, there really wasn’t a transition that could have tied the two different sounds together. That made it feel like the parts were detached from each other. Likewise, SanE’s featuring in the song felt distant from the rest of the song. It just felt like another part of another song that was added to extend the song. There is definitely potential behind this song just by listening to the chorus. But the rest of the song seems to mask it.

The music video is filmed in a place, which seemed to look like an underground boxing arena and a warehouse where some of the boxers are practising. The cinematography seem to add an extra edgy vibe in conjunction to the song, which I think is quite cool. The way she moves around and starts dancing at some parts also made the video looked smooth. The addition of the guys in the background, where the camera pans to them watching Hyoyeon or ‘resting’, made things feel a little awkward. Furthermore, the amount of jewellery and ‘bling’ (my attempt to sound cool) wouldn’t necessary fly in an area like that. The scenery and surroundings mismatched the accessories she was wearing throughout the video. Overall though, the video was quite pretty good to watch.

The performance is quite cool. The styles matched the certain part of the song she was dancing to. The more edgy feel was also present, something we don’t really see when she is with SNSD, which is nice. It wasn’t impressive, but nonetheless, it was enjoyable to watch.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6/10

 

[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] Make Me Love You – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Taeyeon has returned once again this year with a brand new song. This time around, she released a repackaged and ‘deluxe’ version of her solo album, My Voice, which was released last month. Make Me Love You joins Fine and I Got Love as the lineup of title tracks for the album. There doesn’t seem to be any promotions for this new release, which is quite disappointing.

Taeyeon’s newest song has me screaming approval from the very first listen. It is a simple pop RnB song that stood out of the pack (as in the many songs that were released the same day). While it was simple, it had a very grand production sound to it and the song overall could have described as elegant and classy. Taeyeon’s vocals are beautifully incorporated into the track. The elegance and classy nature of the song are lifted up higher with the presence of her vocals. There is no doubt to why many people say Taeyeon is one of the best soloists in Korea, with this song serving as promising evidence. The buildup to the chorus is worth mentioning. It’s a slow incline but it allows for the chorus to shine very brightly. Once the beat drop, we enter a very familiar chorus. I say familiar because it reminds me of Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do. Both tracks are quite similar in sound and style. The chorus in Taeyeon song isn’t overly complicated. It’s quite short and comprises of just a few English lines. While this has been done before in other songs, there is something that makes it click. And there is something that makes me sing along to it. I would have liked it if she had a more powerful ad-lib at the end, to give it that ‘cherry on top’. This song is definitely one that I would recommend to anyone!!!

The music video is fabulous. What was done here matched the song quite nicely.  I am glad that they didn’t make her sit in one place and just have that, especially for the chorus. Instead, many different shots of her sitting and walking around (and smiling at the camera) were in the video. I didn’t watch the video first and imagined the video to be exactly that and it was exactly that. The cool chromatics looked quite cool as well. The cinematography makes the video seem like it came out of a movie. While I said that I was glad they didn’t make her sit in one place, the scene where she sits in a room full of flowers (the feature image of this post) was probably the one scene that summed the video up quite nicely and showed off the elegance quite nicely. As I said, the video goes perfectly with the song. It might be boring after a while, but for now, it is definitely worthy to watch.

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

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[Album Review] My Voice (1st Solo Album) – Taeyeon (SNSD)

I promised last night and I have delivered! This is my second album review to date. This is also Taeyeon’s first solo full album, with a total of 12 songs. I have reviewed 2 of songs from the album and have linked them in the post below. I am just going to let you know that a lot of the focus will be in the vocal work because they just blow you away in every song. While the gaps between album reviews seem to be quite large, I am hoping that I will be push through next month with 4 different album reviews. I am still open to making changes to the layout of these album reviews, so feel free to leave any feedback in the comments. On we go!

My Voice’s Album Cover

1. Fine (title track)check out my review for the title track (10/10)

2. Cover Up – Compared to the title track, this song is much more upbeat. Actually, this song would be perfect at any of my friend’s parties this year because this is an example of the song that we would jam to (and they don’t even listen to KPOP). It’s really catchy and Taeyeon shines brightly with the more electronic based instrumental. (9/10)

3. Feel So Fine – It may not be the best song out of the bunch but it is one damn good track. Her vocals just take this song to a whole new level. The track does sound a little generic and doesn’t showcase any new sounds. But it sounds a lot like some of her tracks with but a more heavy instrumental and more bass. (7/10)

4. I Got Love (pre-release track)check out my review for the pre-release track (10/10)

5. I’m Okay – The song is a very jazzy and soulful number (at least to me). But what stands out about this song is the chorus. The chorus is literally perfection to me. It’s melody and rhythm is amazing. The track is very consistent (which here is a good thing) from start to end. I love the instrumental bridge of the song and her vocals are wonderful here. (9/10)

6. Time Lapse – Probably one of the best songs on the list, apart from the title and pre-release track. It doesn’t pack a punch directly through an explosion of the instrumental or her vocals. The track is kept very neutral and that is what makes it so great. Instead, its impact was after the song finished playing. I literally took a few moments to reflect on the blessing that just graced my ears. That exponential sounding high note at the end was spectacular, which put the cherry on top for me. (10/10)

7. Sweet Love – This particular song had its moments for me. The verses felt bland and I didn’t pay attention to it. But once again, the chorus caught my attention. The way she went higher and higher in the chorus made it sound amazing. Like the title of the song, the instrumental did have a sweet feel to it. The verses did leave me feeling disappointed, though. (7/10)

8. When I Was Young – Probably there is a law out there in South Korea that specifies all albums must contain at least one ballad-like song. In this album, this is the ballad-like track. While it does sound good, it doesn’t really do it for me. Taeyeon has amazing vocals and this is the one track of just a few where her vocals felt underwhelming and bland. The chorus of the song was a little better but it didn’t amaze me as much as the other tracks. (6/10)

9. Lonely Night – I am a little on the fence for the song. I love the instrumental. It sounds like a song that you would listen to when during the night while looking at the stars. The instrumental is very easy going and has a nice jazz inspired feel. The vocals just made the song fall a little flat. It doesn’t utilise her powerful vocals, which I get. We can’t have her blowing us away in every song. But here, it made this track feel boring. (5/10)

10. Love in Colour – Another ballad on the tracklist. This is a perfect track that holds her vocals back. There are no impressive ad-libs or high notes that blow us away. But her vocals deliver the song quite nicely and the balance between instrumental and vocals was ideal. You can hear the emotions sprinkled throughout the song through her voice. (8/10)

11. Fire – Fire launches us back to her powerful vocals. The song delves into the RnB genre, something that I have yet to hear on this album. I love her launch into the choruses here. It was not as impressive as her other launches in the choruses, but it still sounds amazing. (7/10)

12. Eraser – Taeyeon ends the album with a head banger. It was unexpected but I am in love with this song. I started nodding along to the song but as soon as the chorus hits, the instrumental and her vocals are just head banging worthiness. She also raps a little bit the song but it masked by a lot of autotune, so I couldn’t really make out any words (sounded like a blur). And I had to backtrack for a moment because I thought someone else rapped and featured in the song, but nope, it was the queen herself! (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

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So what songs do you like from Taeyeon’s latest release? Comment below!

 

[Review] Fine – Taeyeon (SNSD)

I recently reviewed I Got Love by the solo queen herself, Taeyeon from SNSD. And with that amazing song as just her pre-release for her very first solo album, there are obviously high expectations for her entire album. But wait, this just marks her first solo album, My Voice? Given her status as a digital chart killer and the many (ain’t going to attempt to list them here) songs that she released? Obviously, this is long solo album is long overdue. If that is the case, I smell an album review coming up.

Fine is her title track for this album and it is one fine track (no pun intended… obviously). The song sounds like a Taylor Swift influenced track, with the acoustic guitar and pop ballad vibes, something that I will admittedly say that I miss from the world class act. This song takes it back to her solo debut days for me. The structure is quite similar and the way she delivered the songs are almost the same. But what makes this song good is that it focuses on good music and if we are talking about Taeyeon, amazing vocals. Her vocals in this song will blow you away. The track does start off slow and quiet. But as she launches herself into the chorus, she obviously doesn’t hold back. The chorus itself is quite different to the verses, as it is layered with bass and more instrumentals (other than the acoustic guitar). Towards the end, when we get to the peak of most songs (prior or during the final chorus), she takes it one step further with amazing ad-libs and high notes that literally took my breath away. Taeyeon has put out tracks that have disappointed me before, but when it comes to songs just like this one or any of her ballads, you can probably never go wrong.

The video itself shows Taeyeon walking around and clearly having thoughts in her head. From the rest of the video, we can probably tell that those thoughts are in regards to her lover, who has left her. We see try her best to move on (through scenes of her walking around the store and on the streets) but memories of him just start coming back to her. Now, to address the scenes where everything appears sketchy and unrecognisable (to her). I think they mean two things. The first is that everything around her is different now. Life with her boyfriend is different to life without him. The second is that she is slowly moving on (as indicated of the scenes towards the end where the sketchiness comes back, but blots out his face). We see her still thinking about him while she works on set. But she pushes through, finishing the photoshoot as professionally as she can after taking some time out. In the end, we see her pull out a glass and drink water from it, opposed to drinking whatever from plastic cups when she was with her boyfriend. This signifies that she has moved on completely. What I love about the video is its aesthetics. It makes the video look wonderful and gives it another level of depth. It’s not your typical ballad video, but the way everything came together (camera shots, transitions, filters, editing etc.) really captured the emotions from both her acting and the song itself. Just another video made for Taeyeon that makes the standard for all videos harder to reach.

I just saw a live performance on YouTube today of the song and wow. Do expect an album review to come out either later today or tomorrow.

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

 

[Review] I Got Love – Taeyeon (SNSD)

It has been confirmed that Taeyeon would be releasing her first full solo album on the 28th of February (exactly 1 week from now). However, Taeyeon has unveiled a pre-release for her new album over the weekend, titled as I Got Love. Given her portfolio of hit songs ranging from I to 11:11, we can obviously expect great things from her pre-release and full album once it is released.

With that final statement, she has delivered with a completely different and unique track. It isn’t your traditional sounding track, but regardless, it sounds amazing. Like most of her songs, her vocals stand out here. That is expected now when Taeyeon releases a song. But what stands out equally is the instrumental. The instrumental oozes a very grand and fancy jazz sound. But it is also quite unconventional because it isn’t the normal jazz sound that we are used to.The chorus is non-existent. Instead, it is replaced by a simple deep drum beat mixed with a very hollow sounding tuba (I think). While this is ‘chorus’ is quite short, it goes straight to the point without dragging anything out or boring us. It can also be referred to as the highlight of the track. The buildup prior to the ‘chorus’ sounds amazing and melodic, something that you would not think would build up to this song’s chorus. But it works. Everything flowed (It sound a little disconnected but after a few listens, you realise that the sounds indeed do flow). My one major complaint with the track (and it technically is a compliment) is how fast this track was. It didn’t feel like 3 minutes at all and I was left wanting more. Maybe that was the point of the pre-release (to make me feel hyped for the full album!).

The video suited the song. What more do you need? With a much edgier sound, Taeyeon went all out to deliver with a darker and more sophisticated concept, which she successfully did in this video. Taeyeon essentially says one thing with this video: glamour. Everything from her dresses to the diamonds in the video just yells that one word out. Her gazes are hypnotising and very alluring in the video. There is a sense of mysterious already present in the video but her gazes add to it. While the diamonds do add and yell glamour to the video, I don’t really understand its backstory in the video. Could Taeyeon be releasing her secret to everything about her? Gasp… Or the diamonds could just be a physical representation of love.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9.5/10
Overall Rating – 10/10 
(You might think my maths is off here. Something that I have never said before but I do round my calculated scores to the nearest whole number or half decimal. The calculated score here is actually 9.8/10, which is a near perfect score, hence the 10/10. If you think I should post the calculated overall rating with no rounding, let me know in the comments).

 

 

 

 

[Review] Don’t Say No – Seohyun (SNSD)

After much anticipation and requests, Seohyun from SNSD or Girl’s Generation has finally made her solo debut. She joins Tiffany, Taeyeon, Yoona and Hyoyeon, who each have made their solo debut in the past. She makes her debut with a mini album, which also shares the same title as the title track, Don’t Say No. And her solo debut has proven to be a success with her song topping charts and winning awards!

I was expecting a ballad from Seohyun, not a dance song. So this song caught me off guard. But it is an amazing song to listen to. As soon as you hear the song, you notice her vocals. They sound spectacular and really suit the song. Her adlibs, at the end, really pack a punch. The instrumental is your typical pop, but with a nice touch of retro to it. This may sound like I am looking down on the song, but I would also describe as the sound as snappy and almost sassy. I mean all of that in a good way. There might be a better way to put it, but that is what I got from the song and lyrics. The chorus did an amazing job at giving the song a lift. The bridge changed the song up, giving it an edgier vibe, but still keeping to the sound of the song.Saying all of that, the verses felt a little empty and needed more of a punch to make it perfect. But even though I have written that the song still sounds amazing. That punch in the chorus and at the end does make up for it (but the differences between the parts were apparent).

The music video is okay. SM is going back to their box days with this comeback, not something I was expecting since SM have been bringing out a few good videos in the past year. While the box set wasn’t as apparent (they used an open plan for this video), it did still feel restricting. In the video, Seohyun is cooking up a storm for her partner. Just she is serving chains and bolts, not spaghetti and mushrooms. She ends up killing him (I can see why. I don’t think that meal was edible. My guess for the cause of death was lead poisoning – a lot of it). We then see his body in a coffin, by a fridge, in a graveyard. I guess she stored the body for disposal later on? Talking about the graveyard, Seohyun managed to pull off one of the wackiest outfits I have seen in KPOP in a long time (talking about her massive, floppy hat). While I debate the point of a floppy hat, I think the use of it was intentional, to give her that dark and mysterious look, telling you what she is capable of.

Thank God her clothing on the stage is tamer and less wild. Imagine dancing in that hat! She did an amazing job with the choreography. While it doesn’t technically wow you, I always felt that she was overshadowed when she performed with SNSD. It shows her off and gives you a look into her style and moves.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] Hotel Heartbreak – Tiffany (SNSD) ft. Simon D

[This review was written and scheduled a few months back in preparation for my absence in December. The standard posts for the end of the year (comebacks I have missed in November & December, the end of year charts + KPOPreviewed awards will be written and posted after my return. No weekly charts will be uploaded for the last week of November and all of December.]

Tiffany made her solo debut with I Just Wanna Dance in May of this year. She later came back in the month of June with a single, which features Simon D. This single was release as a part of SM Station, which I don’t think I will be reviewing all of them (my promise was a little too ambitious).

An amazing song. It has its roots in the rnb genre, while still maintaining a subtle dance beat. Her vocals are brought out and put on display in this song. Any complaints made against her voice seems to be void for this song. The echoes in the song seem to make the song more impressive, and the chorus has defined quite nicely by the echo and backing vocals. The echoes behind the words “Heartbreak Hotel” gives off an eerie feeling, but at the same time leaves a great impression on you. The bridge of the song is quite good as well. It is different from the rest of the song (in regards to the lack of instrumental) but it builds momentum to put you through to the final chorus.  Simon D always puts out impressive raps and they somehow tweaked his voice to fit perfectly in the song. Overall, the song is excellent from what I hear and I like it a lot.

The music video opens up with Tiffany looking quite bored (or is she heartbroken already?). I am a little torn with this part. Not that it is bad. But with regards to it being prior to the events of the video or after the events of the video. It’s not even a big detail to worry about anyway. Moving back to the video, Tiffany enters a bar and wanders around, accidentally causing a glass to break on the ground. My question is how quiet is the music there? It looks like a bumping crowd, but as soon as glass breaks, the whole club is turning around. This incident, however, attracts the attention of the male lead. Instead of cleaning up the mess (as Tiffany was doing) he drags her away and they start sharing drinks and laughs. They start dating and Tiffany falls for the guy pretty hard. But in the end, he leaves her (Tiffany catches him with another girl after going back to the club). I guess that is what you get for staying at the ‘Heartbreak Hotel’. The rest of the video seems to be just her finding ways of getting rid of her memories of the guy (packing up, going out back to the club). But I guess the scene at the end where she sees the same guy again at the club, while there being other guys around her, kind of shows that she can’t seem to forget at all. Okay, I have talked about the plot of the video. Loved the way the video was shot and their chemistry on-screen was quite powerful. Also loved her shots of her singing while admist the crowd at the club. Really gives off a nice contrast between finding love at the club and then remembering heartbreak at the club.

Rating – 10/10

[Review] 11:11 – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Taeyeon has had a busy year with the release of Rain and  Why. However, she has added another single to the list with the release of 11:11 a few weeks back. It seems like SM Entertainment is making the most of Taeyeon’s successful solos with these constant releases.

Taeyeon’s ballads have always been standouts for me. I, Rain and now 11:11 all sound spectacular. They are all different songs in their own right. In my past reviews, I have said I and Rain are both vocally charged songs. There is also a hint of emotion in Rain. In 11:11, the emotions are heard more readily and strongly. Some people may think it is a weak song due to its soft nature, but from how I hear it, the emotions are oozing out of this song. The very simple yet bold acoustics in the instrumental and her dreamy vocals make this a song enjoyable to listen to (despite her singing about a breakup). It’s slow, but not too slow. The “na na na” leaves a long lasting impression in my mind and it makes me go back for more. It is a perfect song for the Autumn/Fall months. Give Taeyeon’s ballads a try because out of the three she has released as a solo artist, there is bound to be one for everyone.

The music video shows a couple breaking up. It threw in some flashbacks when the couple used to be more happy and loving. The transitions between different settings and between flashbacks looked nice. But besides that, the video was quite boring. It didn’t captivate me like how the song captivated me. There wasn’t much appeal to it. I’ve mentioned slow-motion recently in many of the past reviews. It matches the tempo and beat of the song. But it slowed everything down here and it dragged the video out for me.

Rating – 8.5/10

 

[Double Review] Why + Starlight – Taeyeon (SNSD)

The solo artist who reigned the charts in South Korea with her solo debut last year has finally returned with her second mini album.Taeyeon made her solo debut with I last year and returned at the start of the year with Rain, as a single that was part of SM Station. This time around Taeyeon brings two music videos. Her lead title track is Why and the other music video is Starlight, which features Dean. Both will be reviewed today.

While her solo debut and her recent single have been ballads, it was definitely a shock to hear a dance song from Taeyeon. It isn’t anything to be shocked over, I just thought she would make a comeback with another ballad, particularly with the success of her recent/past releases. However, Why does have that ballad-y feel to it. The start of it showcases her vocals quite well, similar to what she showed in I. As the song progresses, the beat builds up and those dance song sounds start to emerge. Yes, it is another EDM based song from SM Entertainment and I honestly don’t mind. Her vocals (per usual) shine throughout the song. Never did it get overshadowed by the instrumental. The chorus was particularly short and simple. It did feel choppy, but it was catchy and quite nice. Overall, I felt that she shined bright even though it wasn’t something that I expected from her.

Starlight features Dean, who is a solo artist. He has a nice voice, but he hasn’t amazed me as of yet with his releases. If you are a fan, please recommend some of his work down below for me and everyone to listen to. But moving along, the song is good, but it isn’t my cup of tea. The start of the nice with Taeyeon’s intro and the launch into Dean’s vocals is quite nice. The rest of song sounds “meh”.  It just sounds like a typical lovey-dovey song without any hooks or anything else to it. I don’t it particularly find it catchy or any appeal. The vocals are quite nice (and compliment each other) but the song is quite dry. That is all I can really say. I am more on the fence with regards to this song than anything else.

Music video wise, I am a little disappointed. Every element fits into the video quite nicely for Why. But the overall outcome looks too similar to Tiffany’s video. Both were filmed in America and  shows the girls having fun in America. Taeyeon takes it a little further by rebelling and spraying sauce over the poor cook at the food truck. Tiffany had more solo shots. The camera shots were also quite similar. I don’t know if the two were produced/directed by the same person but seriously, it just ruins the mood. Starlight had an okay video, but once again, I am disappointed. The chemistry between the two is the main concern. First of all, Taeyeon looks like she is the one pulling all the moves out and trying excessively hard to get his attention. However, he simply smiles in all the scenes or awkwardly gazes at her. His probably inexperienced with acting, which I get, but they should have toned Taeyeon’s acting down or made it look like he was somewhat more interested. Barely any interaction between the two looks decent or seemed too exaggerated. Furthermore, both artists had very minimal shots of them singing. So what was the point of adding those scenes, instead of scenes that may have contributed to their chemistry on-screen?

Why is the only song with a dance out of the two songs. The dance was pretty cool. I really enjoyed the snappy start and it looked quite cool with the camera zoomed up into her face. The rest of the dance followed with a similar snappy progression, which fitted well with the song.

Why – 7.5/10

Starlight – 4.5/10

[Review] I Just Wanna Dance – Tiffany (SNSD)

It has been a long time coming (both the solo debut and this review), but Tiffany from SNSD is finally here. After the success of Taeyeon with her two widely known singles, Tiffany has officially made her own solo debut, the second member (well, it is more like the third) to branch out onto the stage as a solo act. It was a much high anticipated solo debut that everyone had been waiting for.

I like the song. I listen to it and I can’t help to sing  or tap my foot along with it (at the bare minimum). But to be honest, it was a little underwhelming at first. Tiffany (like Taeyeon) is known for her vocals in SNSD, and I thought she would go with the ballad concept. However, I was genuinely surprised to hear the dance track. However, it just did not feel like it was right for her. It’s grown a lot on me, though. Vocally and musically, it was pretty a. But then I realised, this song sounds a lot like the song we got back in the day from pop artists in America (before the industry got saturated with autotune and mediocre tracks). This song definitely throws it back to the 00’s, which is the era of American pop music that I really liked. It has that nostalgic feel to it and without even blinking, I can tell an American producer made it. Tiffany is also American, and it kind of makes sense she would go down that path. The electronic and dance elements this song had was pretty damn good. It also sounds sexual without going too far or making it sound like it is over the top. I don’t mean the song is sexual or anything, just her voice sounds like sex to my ears. And with this instrumental, I feel like I am on cloud 9.

Little confused with the music video. Given SM’s last few artistic and abstract videos, this really misses the mark, unfortunately. It is a really bland video, slapped together quite quickly. Dance scenes and closeups of Tiffany. Describing it that way makes it sound boring, but honestly, that is what I got out of the video. It has that nice American feel, though. And I guess there was a plot to it. Boring Tiffany sleeps and enters the world full of colour and fun. She then wakes up, bringing her back to boring land. Really disappointed, because SM’s video have been really good these past few comebacks. It just feels like more a party scene would have fitted the song more. Her solo shots made her look good, but it just doesn’t have that EDM, electronic feel to it. In other words, the video was pretty much detached from the song.

Dance wise, it was pretty good. Not many KPOP artists get down and lie on the floor. I can think of a few, but not many. Definitely had the American channelling through it.

Overall, the song was pretty good. Disappointed that she didn’t win much with the song. Towards the end of the promotional period, I thought she should have won more with the song. 6.5/10

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 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.