[Review] Mixtape: On Track – Stray Kids

The next comeback to be reviewed is by Stray Kids, who just dropped their second installment in the Mixtape Project as a present for their second anniversary. The title of the new track is Mixtape: On Track and this follows their 2019 mixtape track, Gone Days. 2019 was also another big year for the group, with the release of Miroh, Side Effects, Double Knot, Astronaut and Levanter. This magnitude and high standard of comebacks in 2019 by Stray Kids lead to me picking them for Best Male Group in the KPOPREVIEWED Awards for 2019. Let’s see if Stray Kids can replicate the success of 2019 and possibly go further in 2020.

Gone Days is right up the alley of a mixtape, aligning itself with the genre in which a mixtape is usually strongly associated with. On Track is completely different path, opting to be more a traditional pop track and missing a heavy hip-hop influence. The instrumental that acts as the backdrop for this song is relatively plain and it does bore me. But thankfully, the vocals and limited rapping did help drive the song into a more appealing light. On Track is more vocally driven, as a result for its pop alignment. And I don’t mind this. Since Stray Kids commonly goes for a rough exterior with its sound, I wouldn’t mind any easygoing or melodic tracks from the group. When I am listening to the song, I find myself feeling a little heartbroken with the tone, for some odd reason. The song’s lyrics are a lot more brighter, mustering up courage to chase one’s dream (Source: Soompi). Not sure why I feel that way, but that was the initial impression I got from the song before looking up a translation or the source article.

For the music video, the group are film and acting students and are currently in production for some sort of love story short film (I assume short film). The main characters are Hyunjin (the cameraman), Lee Know (the main actor) and the female actress. Essentially, Hyunjin has this massive crush on the female actress but has never acted upon his feelings. While filming the various acting scenes, he becomes extremely jealous over the scenes that the female actress and Lee Know share. In the end, he makes his move on the female actress while filming. Poor timing, but it matches up with the meaning behind the lyrics of the song (i.e. gaining courage). It is a good plot line and was enjoyable to watch.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10

[Special] My Favourite Performances from the 2019 End Of Year Music Festivals

At the end of each year, the three major broadcasting companies in South Korea (SBS, KBS and MBC) organises and broadcast a very fruitful and dynamic music festival, bringing together the top KPOP acts of the year. 2019 is no exception and with a year as busy as 2019, it is often quite hard to get invited to these festivals. And with each show running for a couple of hours, different stages/performances/remixes of the year’s hits and one-of-a-kind collaborations, it is often hard to keep up with these festivals. Today, I have decided to organise a list of performances from each of these three festivals that I thought were excellent, different and worthwhile in checking out. I have done this before but over the years dropped it as I had very little time. Now that I have some time on my hand, I thought I return to this segment for the 2019 festivals.

SBS Gayo Daejun – 25th of December 2019

When we talk about the SBS Music Festival, we need to address the issue of safety. After all, it costed Red Velvet full group promotions for their Psycho comeback, due to injuries sustained by Wendy due to the unsafe nature of SBS stage. We did manage to get one full lineup of the group performing Psycho on stage as it was pre-recorded. because of that, I put Red Velvet’s Psycho performance on my list of favourite performances from that day. Other performers also had falls on the SBS stage, from what I remember reading. Other stages at stood out for me were:

  • Stray Kid’s Miroh – I did not know how Stray Kids could top Miroh’s intensity by rearranging the performance to be even more intense.
  • NCT Dream’s Boom & NCT 127’s Superhuman – Both tracks had a really cool dance addition to it. On top of that, we got to see the same ‘switching of jackets’ that Mark did at the 2018 SBS Music Festival between Dream and 127’s performance. Only this time, it was Haechan!
  • Oh My Girl’s Bungee (X-mas Version) – Always good to have a X-mas themed remix on Christmas Day. It made Bungee, an already vibrant and colourful track, more suitable for the season.
  • Mamamoo’s Gogobebe – The rock remix for this performance was superb.
  • Seventeen’s Home and Snapshoot – We got to see a warmer side of the group and the more joyful side, especially after all the darkness we got from HIT and Fear.
  • TWICE’s Medley of Tracks – I really liked the band element to their performance and how they tweaked the concept for Fancy and their more light hearted tracks. I just wished the band was DAY6 (where is DAY6 in all of these festivals), which would have made the performance even more worthy of a view.
  • BTS’s Dionysus – I have always been a fan of BTS’s darker side. This performance is a return this side, which I greatly appreciate.

KBS Gayo Daechukje – 27th December 2019

I personally did not have much interest in the KBS Music Festival as I thought the stage looked really bad and the camera work wasn’t the best. This wasn’t also the only problem that occurred that same night. APINK’s %% performance was cut short, disappointing fans, APINK and viewers in general. If I were to choose one standout stage, it would have Golden Child’s Wannabe stage. Their dance intro was very good and showed off intensity that was aligned with their new look/concept. And I really liked how smooth the transition between dance intro and actual song was. Only a few toehr performances caught my attention and they include:

  • Song Gain’s Introductory song – Song Gain, for those who don’t know is a trot singer that trended this year. For Song Gain’s performance, she managed to incorporate all artists into her song, which I think would be a challenge.
  • NU’EST Love Me – It wasn’t so much their choreography or song that caught my attention. But I thought the raised stages for the end really highlighted the good parts of their overall choreography, providing what could be said as an epic end to their stage.
  • ASTRO’s All Night + Blue Flame – I was waiting for ASTRO to do All Night in some capacity during these festivals. But with Moonbin out of action, it seems like the group would opt for the 5-member Blue Flame instead. So automatically, ASTRO’s stage for All Night alone would make this list. Blue Flame ended up being very epic as well, which is why their entire segment is on this list.
  • Oh Ha Young, Joy and Yerin Mr. Mr. collaboration – I haven’t heard this song for some time now and I really enjoyed this throwback. Also surprised that they covered the entire song, which usually isn’t the case.

MBC Gayo Daejejeon – 31st December 2019

MBC’s Music Festival is one to always watch. Their stages always have a look that shows that they have been planning for a while. The collaborations for this festival are always something to talk about. And why not watch it live as the year goes out! There is nothing like ending 2019 and start 2020 with KPOP! However, the MBC Music Festival was also plagued with an early termination issue. This time around the victim was Kim Jae Hwan, who only got to perform Nuna (he should have performed The Time I Need as well. For standout performance, I am putting down ASTRO and Oh My Girl’s creepy and jazzy cover of IU’s Red Shoes. It was different and colourful. Other stages to check out:

  • Stray Kid’s Side Effects – Another intense song that they managed to upgrade and make darker. The creative minds that put together these stages for Stray Kids are killing it (and need a pay rise instantly).
  • Seventeen & Mamamoo Collaboration – Two of my favourite groups have come together to form one dream team. And this was such an amazing stage.
  • Seventeen’s HIT – Mingyu shouldn’t be playing with fire. It is dangerous. But one epic opener to the stage. Also, somehow Seventeen managed to insert a dance break in the midst of the stage, which I think earns a mention at the very least.
  • Hyuna’s Flower Shower – Her choreography is essentially the same as the one she performed in the past. But the chorus instrumental is changed slightly, which I thought made the stage a lot cooler for the end of year festival.
  • Taemin’s Move & Famous – MBC’s Music Festival had a theme, The Chemistry. And you can’t have a theme about Chemistry without Taemin. While he didn’t do anything special to Move‘s stage, his dance alone is already 100% fitting for a ‘Chemistry’ themed music festival.
  • (G)i-DLE’s Lion – Another reason to why we need to look out for this girl group is their special stages. Lion is practically a game changer for the group.
  • Lovelyz’s Beautiful Day – I really like their ballad start to their stage and how they built it back up to the original song in an effortless manner.

[Review] Mixtape: Gone Days – Stray Kids

Once again, Stray Kids is nominated for Best Male Group and Best Male (Group) Choreography. Miroh, Side Effects, Double Knot and Astronaut are also eligible for Best Song of 2019. To support Stray Kids, click here to vote if you haven’t before voting closes next Tuesday!

Stray Kids is currently in the midst of their Levanter promotions, as the only just recently made their comeback with the song and Clé: Levanter just earlier this month. But now, Stray Kids have made a surprise single release. Today, the group dropped their next mixtape track title as Mixtape: Gone Days (henceforth referred to as Gone Days).

Based on what I am gathering, Gone Days is a play on words with the Korean term, kkondae. It refers to a person who continually pushes outdated thoughts and expectations onto the younger generation purely based on their age and status. When you look at the lyrics of the song, it is definitely a diss track and probably is directed to someone. The song falls into the hip-hop genre and showcases the rappers in a very strong limelight. The vocals don’t get much of an opportunity to shine, mainly because their parts is so heavily doused in autotune. And given my past track record with heavy autotune, I am not much of a fan this time. I have to admit there is a nice ring to Gone Days and it might catch on in a few weeks, since there is a very bubbly atmosphere and active beat. But the heavy autotune is a very big fence to get over for me.

I am not too sure who Stray Kids is dissing in this track. But based on the music video, it seems like this person works at JYP Entertainment. After all, the horse figure in the music video is wearing a JYP Entertainment tag. I find this to be a fun video, showing the members rebelling against the horse figure in many ways. I also feel like Woojin is meant to be part of this video, based on the layout of the desks, but he was edited out due to his departure. My favourite part is Bangchan patting the horse figure, which seems like Bangchan is feeling sorry for the horse, who’s head is full of outdated thoughts and expectations.

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

[Album Review] Clé: Levanter (5th Mini Album) – Stray Kids

Stray Kids is nominated for Best Male Group and Best Male Choreography in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Miroh, Side Effects, Double Knot and Astronaut are also eligible for Best Song of 2019. To support Stray Kids, click here to vote if you haven’t before voting closes next Tuesday!

The second last album review of the year focuses on Stray Kids latest mini-album, Clé: Levanter. This third part has brought their Clé series to a close, following the release of Clé: Miroh (featuring the title track Miroh) and Clé: Yellow Wood (featuring the title track Side Effects). To help raise anticipation for the new release, Stray Kids released Double Knot in October and Astronaut in November, before dropping Levanter in December (all links below). This is also the first album release without Woojin, who left unexpected in November, which delayed the comeback to December. Let’s have a deeper listen to the album and its new tracks that we haven’t heard at all yet.

Clé: Levanter Album Cover

1. STOP – A commanding title to a very bold start to the mini-album. I am already sold. And it is even better as the song delivers intensity, energy and suspense through its fast tempo beat. To me, it feels dirty but in a good way. I also liked how they amp all those elements up by including that brief pause in the instrumentation just prior to the drop. Something that I did notice was that I associated the sound and vibe straight away to Stray Kids, which is definitely a good sign, as this means Stray Kids have a sound (at least, to me). The rapping and vocal work were equally superb. I am just not keen on the abrupt ending, though I had a feeling it was coming.  (9.5/10)

2. Double Knot (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for Double Knot. (9/10)

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

4. Booster – The group throws punches with Booster and they land these punches perfectly each time. It brings back the more powerful synths and definitely packed a lot of energy within its instrumental composition. I do think it could have been bolder, as it did feel a little tame. I found the vocals to be more melodic, with the melody in the chorus reminding me of ‘00s tracks. The rapping is a little more robust and gives it that roughness that I have come to expect with Stray Kids. (8/10)

6. Astronaut (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review for Astronaut. (9/10)

7. Sunshine Sunshine is a ballad with a typical Stray Kids touch. And quite a soothing one at certain moments. Ballads tend to draw out more of a delicate side of a group. And this was definitely apparent when it came to the vocal sections of the song. The rapping and autotune is that twist I mentioned, and it prevented that delicate side to fully flourish. I wished that maybe they kept the autotune to a minimum so that Sunshine can be a little more impactful. I did like the pulsing beat and appreciate their execution for this song, overall. (7.5/10)

8. You Can STAY – For those who don’t know, the group’s fandom name is STAYs. And given the emphasis of the word STAY in the title, You Can Stay is essentially a track for their fans, thanking them for making their members better. It is a nice track. I find it particularly refreshing, but that might be me experiencing sweltering temperatures in the past week. I did like the brightness that came from the track, thanks to the vibrant and bouncy instrumental. I particularly like the ‘uh-like’ synth in the instrumental, helping make the song memorable. (8/10)

9. Mixtape #5 – In the past, I never reviewed their Mixtape tracks. However, that changed earlier in the year when I sat down to review them as part of the Yellow Wood album review. So, I made the executive decision to also review them on their original albums from now on. It essentially is a song abut the colder weather and some of the lyrics is about their outfit. There is a fun touch to the band instrumentation, and it felt jazzy in some cases. I also found the track to be quite lively, which is something different in the season of emotions. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

Clé: Levanter Teaser Image

[Review] Levanter – Stray Kids

Stray Kids is nominated for Best Male Group and Best Male (Group) Choreography. In addition to that, all their 2019 releases (Miroh, Side Effects, Double Knot and Astronaut) are eligible for Best Song of 2019. To support Stray Kids, click here to vote for them and your other favourites of 2019.

Stray Kids has had a jam-packed year. The group have previously released 2 mini-albums this year, with Miroh and Side Effects leading the albums released in March and June (respectively). And now, the group have moved onto their 3rd mini-album of 2019, Clé: Levanter. The title track of the new album is Levanter and it also features Double Knot and Astronaut as pre-release singles. The album was also scheduled for release at the end of November. But due to the sudden and unexpected departure of Woojin, it was pushed back to 9th of December (today). Their first concert went ahead at the end of November prior to this comeback, as well.

After the release of everything mentioned above, Stray Kids have a lot of shoes to fill when it comes to Levanter. And within one listen to the new song, I was confident that the group had managed to fill those shoes without any issues. Levanter manages to find the middle ground between Double Knot and Astronaut, in my opinion. The song opts for a lighter than usual instrumental, going with mixture of synth and rock vibes in the background. I liken this element of the song to Astronaut, which was notably light in comparison to the rest of their discography. However, it is undeniable that the song features a strong level intensity. The chorus also has these epic vibes that remind me of Double Knot as well. The song is also very much vocally centered, with the vocalists of the group pushing their voices further during the chorus to enhance the epic impression of the song. I found their voices to be very piercing and this stood out during the chorus. The rappers, even though felt limited, sounded really cool during their parts. Overall, Levanter is an awesome track.

Once again, I do not want to dwindle on the music video for long as I will be returning with a Stray Kids music video theory post some time in the new year for you all. While doors have been a recurring theme in their past few music videos, I am still equally as confused as before when it comes to how the Leventer music video plays into the existing story line (and possible connection to their past music videos). But I hopefully shall unravel the story line some time in the new year (though, I would love to read about any theories you may have). Visually, this is a really good video. The members looked good and the sets looked really cool (and I think they were designed to remind us of the previous videos). I thought the graphics in this video was very cool and it felt pretty much different to anything that we got before.

Something that I felt very strongly when watching the choreography was how loaded it felt. It seemed to match the heaviness and deepness of the lyrics in a way that felt powerful and strong. Also, Felix gets a mini solo moment, which I am looking forward to! And the rest of the dance break looks really cool!

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

[Review] Astronaut – Stray Kids

Last month, Stray Kids made a start to their upcoming Clé: Levanter comeback with the release of Double Knot. The second pre-release single and official comeback was scheduled for November 9th and 25th, respectively. However, due to the unexpected departure of Woojin from the group, the release of both parts of the comeback was postponed. Their comeback is not been rescheduled for 9th of December, which gives times for the group to replant their new tracks in preparation for an 8-man lineup. Today, we see the release of Astronaut, the second pre-release single expected on their upcoming mini-album.

Astronaut is probably their most generic and standard track yet. That is not a bad thing, though. I still had a kick-ass time listening to the track. There is an infusion of energy in this generic form of EDM that really makes you think of good times. Actually, it makes you want to have a good time. But while the instrumental was typical, their vocal work and rapping delivery had the very important job of not making the track feel that way as a whole. And I think they successfully nailed it. The vocals were quite smooth, adding a nice contrasting to the standard EDM we got. The rapping was rather dynamic. I liked the melody they brought in via the rap sequences. It also brought in character to the song, which made it even more appealing. Overall, I thought Astronaut was a great pre-release single. Though it makes me wonder. With two very different tracks (Double Knot and Astronaut), how will the upcoming album pan out?

Eagle-eyed fans noticed that there were nine members in the music video, which is definitely a treat for fans. Though for the most part, Woojin was edited out of the music video and I wouldn’t be surprised if some scenes were reshot. As part of the Clé series, you know Astronaut is somehow connected to rest of the video. Hyunjin is the main character, as suggested by the ending of Side Effects. We also see a glimpse of the vehicle that the members rode in in Side Effects, which shocked Hyunjin for a moment (it looked like a prequel, but that scene seems to suggest otherwise). Bangchan and I.N are also now seen as important figures in the story, shown in this music video. We also get an additional suggestion that this series is somehow linked to District 9 (which I pointed out in Side Effects) based on their white clothing at the end.  Other than that, I am not too sure about the ‘storyline’ of the video. Theories would be nice. And you can expect an upcoming ‘Music Video Theory’ post about this series sometime in the next year once I am a little freer to sit down and analysis every single detail of this confusing series.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Review] Double Knot – Stray Kids

I will post my review for Kei’s solo debut tomorrow. 

A lot of male comebacks this week from what I have noticed. And to add to the influx of male groups is Stray Kids. They are gearing up for a future comeback as they released a mysterious teaser which featured Double Knot, District 9: Unlock, Astronaut and Clé: LEVANTER. Double Knot was confirmed to be a single release and District 9: Unlock is going to be their first concert. No word on what Astronaut and Clé: LEVANTER are but my guess is another single (or possibly title track) and mini-album. Double Knot is also the first release from Stray Kids since Side Effects.

The way Double Knot is presented to us is slightly different from the upbeatness and energy that we got from Miroh and the intensity that we got from Side Effects. At the exact same time, however, I think the energy and intensity are still there. But rather, it is very subtle in this hip hop dance track. I found the track to be fierce and very masculine, a side of Stray Kids that I would say we haven’t from the group since their debut days. The rapping is very well in this song, which I think is a common thing when it comes to hip-hop like tracks from Stray Kids. The vocals were also equally as nice. I also want to comment on the fact that the song felt like it held itself back. Obviously, it wasn’t as powerful or explosive like their two title tracks from this year. But, in a way, it creates suspense for their impending comeback that we know will either happen in November or December this year.

That fierceness is definitely transformed into their more urban edgy music video. In this video, it looks like Stray Kids is a gang in the back alleyways. I also feel like the subtle nature of the song really brings out a different tougher vibe to the group, which makes them look very good. I liked the many transitions that were used in this video, which made things feel so much smoother. It isn’t something that you would expect in this video, however. One clear example has to be when the video transitioned between Jisung, Bangchan, Jisung (again), Woojin and Seungmin (around 0:30 of the video). That looked cool and really drew my attention to the rest of the video. There are clues to what Astronaut might be and also elements that tie this video to their previous videos. So it will be interesting to see how Double Knot fits into the storyline.

The dance was equally as impressive. One thing I haven’t mentioned is that the entire comeback comes off as epic. But I  held onto that comment until the choreography because that is what I felt when I watched the choreography for the first time. The initial pose looked really cool. And I like how tough their chorus looked, aligning itself with their previous comebacks despite the different nature of the song.

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

[Special] Top 10 Personal Favourite Songs from 1st Half of 2019

As I have been mentioning over the past 2 weeks, I reflect over the 1st half of 2019 through two posts. The first post is the recap of the Number 1 songs from the Weekly KPOP Charts for the period between July 2018 to June 2019 and this was published last week. The second post is my pick for most favourite songs from the first half of the year. This is irrespective of the charts (or any charts for that matter) and reviews, as sometimes my favourite songs don’t reach the top. I have listed 10 songs below, in no particular order, which I believe represent the best of the best that 2019 has offered to us so far.

Boogie Up – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

Q&A – Cherry Bullet

Woowa – DIA

Side Effects – Stray Kids

The Fifth Season (SSFWL) – Oh My Girl

Zimzalabim – Red Velvet

Valkirye – ONEUS

No – CLC

Sunrise – GFriend

L.O.V.E – Park Ji Hoon

I wanted to add a few more but think limiting myself to 10 would probably be best, otherwise, I’d be copying and pasting majority of 2019’s releases onto this page.

Do you agree with my picks? What about your favourite tracks of 2019 so far? Comment down below!

[Album Review] Clé 2: Yellow Wood (1st Special Album) – Stray Kids

Today’s album review will be focusing on Stray Kids’ latest release. As you can tell by the title of the post, this isn’t the traditional album release from Stray Kids, like in past comebacks. Apart from three new songs (which includes their latest title track, Side Effects), the album also compiles their 4 past mixtape tracks, which were previously only found on the physical version of each of their 4 past mini-albums. Usually, I do not review these mixtape tracks. But as this is a special album, I have decided to make an exception.

Clé 2: Yellow Wood Album Cover

1..Road Not Taken (밟힌 적 없는 길) – Kickstarting Yellow Wood is an introductory track that throws you into the deep end, with the song featuring a very energetic and robust electronic dance instrumental. Interestingly, we do not get that same level of energy that comes from the vocals or raps. But the seriousness in their voices reminds us that they are not here to mess around with. And I think this contrast is spectacular, matching the inspirational nature of the lyrics. I really like the drop, foreshadowing the exact same glitchy effect in the title track. It is rather disappointing that it was a short one, as I would love to hear a full track out of it. (9/10)

2. Side Effects (부작용) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Side Effects. (10/10)

3. TMT (별생각) – The third new track on this mini-album is TMT. The first thing I noticed about the track is that it takes a more ordinary approach, compared to the previous two tracks. It relies less on theatrics and a dramatic instrumental, refocusing on the vocals and rapping techniques of the group (which I did enjoy). With this more ordinary and less intense approach, the track feels like a potential GOT7 title track, especially after the release of Eclipse. I really like whiney synth in the background of the chorus, giving the song a memorable sound. It is not necessarily a stand out track from the group but it still contains a kick that I enjoyed. (8/10)

4. Mixtape #1Mixtape #1 (originally from their first mini-album, I Am Not) is a standard track, structure wise. It is surprising to hear such a pleasant sound from the group, which is very different from what we are used from Stray Kids. It showcases the vocals of the group, which I think was very nice, especially in an album that features District 9 (which was loaded with raps and intensity from memory) as its title track. Mixtape #1 talks about self-deception into thinking that you got everything under control to achieve what you want later. Overall, a nice track. (8/10)

5. Mixtape #2Mixtape #2 featured on the group’s second mini-album, I Am Who. The track features acoustic guitars, miles away from the dance tracks that Stray Kids have presented us. It focuses purely on vocals, with the rappers even opting for a more melodic form of rapping for the track. The lyrics focus on the bonds created between the members of the group and the bond formed between Stray Kids and Stays (their fan club), along with how they will not give up. I find them all singing at the end to be a very impactful moment, given the message of the track. Soothing and peaceful, a stand out track that I can’t believe I opted to miss out on when I reviewed I Am Who. (9/10)

6. Mixtape #3 – I know these songs are probably not connected in any way. But Mixtape #3 takes the acoustic nature from Mixtape #2 and redefines it into an upbeat sound. Once again, it is vocally driven. But I find the rapping in this track to be impactful and attention-grabbing, emerging as a strong component. But ruling the track has to be the beautiful sounding melodies. I also like how it doesn’t necessarily feature the members singing together but you can feel their presence as a group at the end of the track. (8/10)

7. Mixtape #4 – Featured on the group’s fourth mini-album (Clé 1: Miroh), this is the style I had expected more when it comes to the term ‘mixtape’. The track is more intense than any of the other mixtapes on this album and it feels more aligned with the title tracks we have heard thus far. The track talks about pushing forward regardless of any troubles. The rapping is more dominant, which is a nice change up to line-up. The vocals were good, but I felt like they were a little weaker, especially around the chorus. But still good, overall. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Clé 2: Yellow Wood Teaser Image

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] Side Effects – Stray Kids

One of the two big-name artists in the industry at the moment making their comeback today is Stray Kids. While Stray Kids may not be exactly established yet (a few more successful comebacks will be needed to consolidate that), there is no denying their growing popularity, especially after the success of their last comeback, Miroh. Their comeback today is featured on the second part of their Clé series, Yellow Wood, which is the group’s first ever single album.

The title track for this comeback is Side Effects. I find the trance elements that the song features to be undeniably appropriate for the Summer season, the season filled to the brim of energy. Just Stray Kids manages to mould the intensity into something that I personally have never seen. The song does not stop with its boldness and bass, which I think makes it so unique. There were brief moments of silence or slowness throughout the song that did provide some relief but there was always another element (let it be vocals or raps) to continue the momentum. Talking about the vocals and raps, this song is just another example of the group’s talents and potential. If Side Effect‘s instrumental throws its intensity at you, the vocals and rapping slap you across the face. Props to Seungmin and Felix for their deep tone moments, with the latter finally getting an opportunity to shine in a title track. As you can tell, I am extremely enthusiastic about this track and the energy that comes off on it keeps me on the edge of my seat (despite the many listens that I have already gone through).

There seems to be a complex story brewing within the series. It seems to be connected to Miroh, with Hyunjin fighting another member in both videos. So clearly, the centre member in this series is Hyunjin. I did notice some similarities to their debut music video (District 9), which was very interesting (i.e. bus, security camera view, the lyrics talk about a pill, fencing etc.). My brief understanding is that the members are roaming around freely. Hyunjin seems to be on edge for some reason, attacking Seungmin and becoming frustrated with Felix. The reason why, well, I guess we have to wait until the next comeback to see what is going on. (I did read a few theories on Instagram, which seems to connect back to District 9). Standalone, I think the video does a good job of conveying the tone of the song.

But what is the message of the song? Well, it is all about being overly insecure and worrisome, especially about how this mind state could influence how you perceive the world (i.e. Hyunjin vs. the members in the video). Someone pointed out (in the comments on YouTube) that there are 9 additional backup dancers in the background, potentially representing the demons of each member. Very interesting theory. As for the routine, I think this is another fully captivating performance to keep your eyes open for. 

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.7/10

[Album Review] Clé 1 : MIROH (4th Mini Album) – Stray Kids

Apologies for the missed album review on Sunday. As a result, I will be publishing another tomorrow to compensate for it, or else I will fall very behind on my schedule. In the meantime, this is the weekly Friday album review post! Stray Kids made their comeback on the 25th of April with both Clé 1: MIROH and the title track, Miroh. Since then, they have been releasing special videos for a number of the tracks on the album. It seems like this is a common thing for Stray Kids and I may compile a special review of these videos later on. However, for now, here is the album review for Clé 1: MIROH.

Clé 1: MIROH Album Cover

1..Miroh (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Miroh. (9.5/10)

2. Victory Song (승전가) – Stray Kids throws you intensity right, left and centre in Victory Song. Listening to the track, it is loaded with that hip-hop sound that Stray Kids started off with their mixtape. And it honestly been a while since I have personally heard a hip-hop dance track like this and really enjoyed it. Starting the song off are some sirens, which just tell you that it is going to be one hell of a track. The song then moves onto rapping and we are treated to a very deep whisper by Felix, who does a really good job building suspense for the track. The way the song is set up allows for the rappers to really shine, but the vocals were also quite good. The chorus is extremely strong, with their chanting union of the line ‘Listen to this Victory Song’ very memorable. (9/10)

3. Maze of Memories (잠깐의 고요)Maze of Memories is also very intense. But it takes a different approach that Victory Song or the title track. The song starts off with a light-ish piano piece to build up the song (To me, the piano piece reminds me of the waiting music you hear when you are waiting for a computer game to load up). But the song takes a sudden turn for the chorus, delving into a rock instrumental. Interesting, it returns to the piano piece for the second verse, which I thought was rather cool. And this allows for the rock instrumental to be even more profound when it returns once again. Even more impressively, all the members rap throughout the song. I don’t think I heard any vocals and I think that is quite cool. Felix, Seungmin and Bangchan’s English lines did take me by surprise, which I don’t really understand why. But I guess it is might be because I have not heard an extended sequence like so that much. (10/10)

4. Boxer – Following the intense trend on this album, Boxer seems to be a very appropriate title for a track on this album. And like the title, the song centres itself around boxing, with the chorus acting like a boxing tutorial that I think might just work if you are wanting a workout (though, don’t trust me on this as I do not work out in any way). Once again, the rappers are at the forefront of the song, dominating for most of the verses and choruses. But the vocalists were still quite good in their limited sections. As for the instrumental, there is a more electronic influence, with the scratchy chorus and very intense fast vibrating synth accompanied by the bells you hear commonly in boxing matches. To me, it isn’t the stand out track on the album but it still quite good. (8/10)

5. ChronosaurusChronosaurus is appealing for several factors. The song starts off with a tone that seems to refocus on the vocalists of the song. It is much more melodic, and the rappers appeared to be scattered throughout the song, rather than the vocalists like in the previous tracks. The song isn’t as intense, providing some relief after the overload of intensity we have gotten so far. It also has a slower tempo, which allows us to really appreciate the song in a more wholesome way. I also liked the instrumental. Still quite dynamic but it’s different in its own way. I think the best part has to the eerie bridge. I really liked Bang Chan, Woojin and Seungmin’s vocals in this section. It really goes well with all the Western songs that I listen to and it makes the final chorus even more impactful once it comes along. (9/10)

6. 19 – When you see the number 19 in the context of KPOP songs, you automatically think of the strict broadcasting laws video content must be branded with. However, this is not the case for Stray Kid’s 19. The song is a slow R&B track that showcases both the rappers and vocalists evenly. I think the song talks about their hardship at the age of 19, which I think is the final age before people become ‘adults’ in Korea (don’t quote me on this, however). I really like the moody instrumental of the track which seems emotional and reflective, but the deep R&B vibes also fit Stray Kids’ portfolio. It didn’t appeal automatically to my taste, but the song grew on me after a while and I think, now, is quite good. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Clé 1: MIROH Teaser Image

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[Review] Miroh – Stray Kids

Stray Kids have returned with their first 2019 comeback. Last year, the male group made their debut with District 9, and continued promotions throughout the entire year with My Pace and I Am YOU. If you ask me, that is an extremely busy year for a rookie group. Today, the group dropped their 4th mini-album, Clé 1 : MIROH. But they released the music video for Miroh 18 hours prior to the album drop, which was extremely unexpecting. But hey, I am not complaining.

Miroh is an even more intense sound than any of their previous releases. But we don’t really get a sense of that intensity at the start but you can definitely sense the exponential buildup as we head towards the chorus. Instead, we open with Felix’s deep tone voice and sirens layered over birds tweeting. We are then lead into a nice vocal verse. Out of nowhere, the intensity picks up and the rappers come at us with a very powerful rap pre-chorus (also my favourite part of the song). Continuing the momentum is the chorus, which takes a half-instrumental piece and half singing approach. I actually quite like this and thought the song was extremely dynamic due to the dance influence the instrumental featured.  I also find the ‘Woah-Oh-Oh’ very addictive as well, as it seems to provide relief after all the intensity. The fade-out was also nice. Not too typical for a dance song like this but given its heavy-handed nature, I think it works excellently, My personal biggest issue with the song has to be how short it felt. Two choruses in and I actually wanted more, though I am not sure how I would handle more.

I am personally not sure what the song is 100% about. My interpretation of the lyrics is that the song talks about reaching new heights and being yourself in the process (but this may be wrong). I like how the video relates to the song in a more literal sense, however. The members are singing about the concrete jungle and how they ‘ran to the next city’ to go ‘higher in the next city’. And we see that. We see the members taking over the city from the rich men who run it by leading another rebellion. We see them on top of buildings, performing their choreography. It all works out well. I like how the edgy feel of the song seeps onto the video. Furthermore, I enjoyed the editing in this video, which made everything feel so intense.

Big ticks for this choreography. The best part has to be the chorus for me, where the song peaks. And there is nothing better than the peak of a song! Definitely intense and I always like a jump that is timed with the song.

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Special] 2018 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Artist Categories Results

Welcome back to the 2018 KPOPREVIEWED Awards! On the 1st of December 2018, I presented my readers with many categories filled with talented and deserving nominees for the 2018 KPORPEVIEWED Awards. For the month of December, all of you voted for your favourite artists and songs from January 2018 to November 2018. And today, I present to you who the winners of each category were.

This is the first section, which will look at the categories surrounding the artists including Best New Groups, Best Female and Male Groups and many others.

Each category will have a WINNER (the artist/group that received the highest amount of fan votes), Honourable Mention (the artist/group that received the second highest amount of fan votes) and KPOPREVIEWED Choice (who I voted for).

So, drum roll please, for the winners of the 2018 KPOPREVIEWED Artist categories.

Best New Male Group

Nominees – ATEEZ, NOIR, Stray Kids, The Boyz, UNB


WINNER – Stray Kids
Honourable Mention – The Boyz
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – The Boyz

Best New Female Group

Nominees – fromis.9, (G)I-DLE, IZ*ONE, LOONA, NATURE


Honourable Mention – LOONA
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – fromis.9

Best New Soloist

Nominees – Kim Dong Han, Leo (VIXX), LONGGUO, SOHEE (ELRIS), Yuri (SNSD)


Honourable Mention – Leo (VIXX)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Kim Dong Han

Rising Star

Nominees – (G)I-DLE, Lovelyz, Momoland, Oh My Girl, Pentagon


Honourable Mention – Pentagon
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Momoland

Most Underrated Artist of the Year

Nominees – A.C.E, CLC, N.Flying, KARD, Snuper


Honourable Mention – CLC
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – N.Flying

Best Unit Group / Subunit

Nominees – EXO-CBX, NCT 127, NCT Dream, Oh My Girl BANHANA, SNSD-Oh!GG


Honourable Mention – SNSD-Oh!GG

Best Male Solo Artist

Nominees – Eric Nam, Hwang Chi Yeul, Jung Sewoon, Samuel, Seungri (Big Bang)


WINNER – Seungri (Big Bang)
Honourable Mention – Eric Nam
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Eric Nam

Best Female Solo Artist

Nominees – BoA, Hyolyn, Kim Chungha, Sunmi, Taeyeon (SNSD)


WINNER – Taeyeon (SNSD)
Honourable Mention – Sunmi

Best Band

Nominees – DAY6, IZ, N,Flying, The East Light, The Rose


Honourable Mention – The Rose

Best Raps

Nominees – B.I (iKON), Ilhoon (BTOB), Jooheon (Monsta X), Mino (WINNER), RM (BTS)


Honourable Mention – Mino (WINNER)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Jooheon (Monsta X)

Best Vocals

Nominees – BOL4, BTOB, Hwang Chi Yeul, Mamamoo, Minseo


WINNER – Mamamoo
Honourable Mention – BTOB
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Mamamoo

Best Male Group

Nominees – BTOB, BTS, EXO, GOT7, iKON, Monsta X, NCT, NU’EST W, Pentagon, Seventeen, SF9, SHINee, VIXX, Wanna One, Winner


Honourable Mention – SHINee

Best Female Group

Nominees – AOA, APRIL, BLACKPINK, CLC, Dream Catcher, EXID, GFriend, Lovelyz, Mamamoo, Momoland, Oh My Girl, Red Velvet, TWICE, Weki Meki, WJSN (Cosmic Girls)


WINNER – Red Velvet
Honourable Mention – BLACKPINK
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Mamamoo

Artists Who Topped The Weekly KPOP Charts The Most in 2018

This is not a fan-voted category


WINNER – Monsta X, Seventeen & Sunmi

And that completes the Artist Categories for the 2018 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. The Song Categories will be unveiled shortly and you can access it by clicking here!

And for the End of Year Charts – they will be out tomorrow. I will update this post with the link once it is out.

Thank you for all voting and checking out who you all selected to be the winners! I hope to do this again for 2019!

[Album Review] I Am You (3rd Mini Album) – Stray Kids

Stray Kids returned last week with I Am You, the title to their latest promotional track and mini-album. And while I have reviewed their title track, I have yet to look at their album. So today, that is why we are all here! I have reviewed their I Am Who mini-album, which was released back in August and plan to review their debut mini-album (I Am Not) soon! But before we give Stray Kids another opportunity to complete another I Am… sentence, let’s begin the album review.

I Am You Album Cover

2. I Am YOU (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of I Am YOU. (8/10)

3. My Side (편) My Side takes both light and heavy rock sound, mashing them up to create one good track. I have to admit each section does seem like it came from different songs as transitions between the vocal and rap sections weren’t really there (they just cut to the other). I like the intensity that the rap sections (and the final section of the song) give, while the vocals provide us with some melodic moments and relief from the intensity. I feel like the vocals were superior, but the rapping was also quite good. (9/10)

4. Hangover Soup (해장국)Hangover Soup has this emotional vibe which makes it an exceptional song. The song felt like it began with a much higher tempo and the tempo gradually decreased as the song went on. Not 100% sure whether this was technically true, but it sure felt that way. The vocals and the raps were all tweaked to fit the slower R&B feels that this song features. And it actually resulted in some high-quality delivery of lines and nice falsettos that attracts my attention. Paired with the minimalistic instrumental, I thought this was a very impactful and cool song. (9/10)

5. Get Cool – This song takes a little different turn, with a more light-hearted and fun instrumental. Matching with this is the happier tone in the vocals and raps. I personally don’t mind this song, but no matter how times I listen to it, I can’t seem to get into it. It has a nice rhythm and the fact that is a brighter track makes it stand out. But I think when it comes to Stray Kids, I think I have associated them with a little more intensity and energy, rather than a light-hearted song. (8/10)

6. N/S (극과극) – It seems like N/S stands for ‘North/South’ and N/S goes for a prominent hip-hop tune. What is also interesting is that this song doesn’t really focus on vocals. All the members dabble into rapping of some form, which I think is rather interesting. Usually, these songs make rappers into vocalist, so it is a little unique to have vocals turn into rappers. And if you know me, I don’t tend to enjoy these songs as much. But this one is quite good. It has a nice rhythm and relative simple lyrics that repeat over and over again, allowing it to be engraved into your mind. (8.5/10)

7. 0325 – With the title corresponding with their debut date (25th of March) and the presence of the sirens in their song reminding me of District 9, I expected something along the lines of their debut track. But we get a slightly different track which sounds as good. It doesn’t have that hip-hop or dance feel to it but there is enough in the song to feel like a Stray Kids. I liked how the chorus picked up by using the drum beats and it contrasted nicely with the slightly slower verse. The rapping and vocals aren’t winners on this track, as compared to the other songs but they still showed some talent. Overall, another good track. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

I Am You Teaser Image

[Review] I Am YOU – Stray Kids

The biggest secret when becoming successful in KPOP nowadays is making multiple comebacks. The very moment a gap between comebacks is a month too long, artists run the risk of being forgotten. This is especially important in the year of your debut. And Stray Kids has definitely taken this on board. With two comebacks already under their belt this year (District 9 and My Pace), the group is not going to be forgotten any time soon. And now their third comeback of the year, I Am YOU was released yesterday, so let’s have a closer look.

While District 9 and My Pace have primarily been about intensity and impact, I Am YOU takes a step back. It has been described as ‘sentimental’ on KPOP news outlets and I think that is a perfect way to describe the song. Despite that, the instrumental does have a particular Stray Kids sound to it, which I can’t really define it. Instead, when you hear it, it kind of makes sense. I thought the song had a nice melody and I liked the way the rappers were presented in the song. Vocally, this has to be their best title track yet, mainly because the step back from intensity definitely caters for their talents. The chorus was catchy (those English line at the start of the chorus are beautiful) but I feel like they could have done something to it to make it even more appealing.

The music video features scenes (and music) from the My Pace music video at the very start, which indicates that this is some sort of continuation. After the events in the previous music video, the members basically hang out with each other, creating a small oasis on the top of a building for themselves. It was nice. I did think they took a somewhat soft route in terms of issues, which does make sense but I personally felt the video was lacking. I did think the choreography scenes on the truck was cool (even though I know it is CGI) but it gave the video that kick that we got from past Stray Kids videos.

[Updated] Like the song, they have toned down the energy to make it fitting for the song. And it was quite fitting for the song. Despite it being slower, the performance felt very strong and felt equally as impactful as their more powerful dances tracks. I think the best word to describe it is ‘smooth’. The chorus was my personal favourite section as this was when the smoothness kicked in the most.

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

[Album Review] I Am WHO? (2nd Mini Album) – Stray Kids

This is the final “catch up” album review as I plan to get started on some album review for new releases this weekend. This is also the first time I will be reviewing Stray Kids’ album, who made their debut earlier this year with District 9. However, I am WHO? is the title for their more recent album, which features My Pace (link below) as the main title track. The group has also been releasing performance videos (or mv-like videos for all their tracks, so I linked down below so you can view them (simply click on the link at the title of the song).

I Am WHO? Album Cover

1..WHO? – I do not commonly review the introductory track. But this one was much longer than most intro tracks and featured lyrics, which isn’t something too common. It is performed by Woojin, Felix and Han. A few of the titles of the songs on the album pop up in this track but I think it was a coincidence rather than intentional. I like the vocal and rapping elements in this introduction, my favourite being Woojin’s whispering. (8/10)

2. My Pace (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of My Pace. (9/10)

3. VoicesVoices is the hip-hop song that fulfils my craving for hip-hop, a genre that I don’t often delve into. It reminds me of the hip-hop songs that you commonly get in the Western industries back in the ‘00s. The song has a very impactful sound that is very rough around the edges but is quite heavy in terms of emotion. I thought the song showcases both their rapping and vocal potential, something I haven’t heard from them yet. I really like the roughness and intensity that the rappers bring to the song and the chorus was superb and melodic. (9.5/10)

4. QuestionQuestion gets the album on a more upbeat and energetic note. In this song, we see different rap and vocal styles that we haven’t heard on the album yet. Whoever did the whispering rap section that opened the second verse sounds so good (I have replayed the song multiple times for that one section). I like entire chorus as it is however thought Felix’s English hook post-chorus extremely catchy and the main selling point of the song. The song does feel like it is missing something though, but I cannot pinpoint what that is. (8/10)

5. Insomnia (불면증) – While I did like other songs on the album more than Insomnia, I think it was the first song to jump out at me to confirm its album review. I thought the song was extremely dynamic, with its soft start and very unexpecting chaotic chorus drop. The fluctuations in the energy from the different sections is very interesting, which I think makes sense given the title of the song. Once again, the vocals and raps were quite good. But since I tend to listen to albums prior to going to sleep, this one isn’t too ideal for that period. (8/10)

6. M.I.A – I personally do not like to label songs as the ‘weakest song’ but it gives you an idea of what type of songs I like from an artist and what I don’t like. This one was a miss for me. I am not a fan of heavy autotune, so with majority of the song being filtered with the autotuned didn’t do much for me. On the plus side, however, the song was quite smooth. Vocals were good but I think some of the rapping in this song was more enjoyable (as it gave the song some roughness to offset the smoothness). Besides that, I don’t have much to say about the song. (6.5/10)

7. Awkward Silence (갑자기 분위기 싸해질 필요 없잖아요) – Ending the album is Awkward Silence, which is extremely fun and playful. A different route once again when compared to the rest of the album. I actually really like the song. The crow squawking during the ‘awkward silence’ just before the chorus was a very nice touch and gave the song that ‘not-so-serious’ element. I thought the bridge of the song was quite nice and Felix’s random inserts were quite enjoyable (also love the Australian accent that trickles in – Australia Represent!). It ends the album on a happier note, which I quite like. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10 [FIXED]

I Am WHO? Teaser Image