[Review] Page 0 – Taeyeon (SNSD) & Melomance

SM Station is back and they are delivering us with songs from a brand new project known as Station x 0. While I am not sure of the difference between this project and SM Station itself, 6 new songs will be unveiled (starting today) of collaborations between various artists. We will see Chanyeol and Sehun from EXO collaborating with each other, Baekhyun and Loco releasing a track and a 4 member single performed by Red Velvet’s Seulgi, GFriend’s SinB, Chungha and GI-DLE’s Soyeon, just to name a few. However, kicking things off today is Taeyeon (from SNSD) and chart-topping duo, Melomance.

Their song is Page 0 and I am totally digging it. I thought they would go with some boring ballad route but their song ended up being very vibrant and cheerful, which I really liked. It can also be described as refreshing, which fits neatly into the Summer releases we have been getting. Melomance’s signature vocals to the song, which automatically lifts the energy of the song up. Taeyeon sounds amazing, per usual. I thought their harmonies were amazing throughout the song. I really like the keyboard in the instrumental, particularly the keyboard-only start for the second verse. The chorus was really catchy, making me sing along within the first few listens of the track.

The song shares one simple message, to take on the world as it is your own life. And that is what we are shown here. It shows people comfortable in their own skin, regardless of whoever they are. And I think that is something we are all striving to do, making sure the world is a better place for everyone. For that, I think it is a really beautiful video. I like how the video makes your smile, which goes well with the sound of the song, overall.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.6/10

 

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[Review] Stay – Taeyeon

I took a little break from my JPOP reviews last week because I was honestly running out of reviews to write. During that week off, I did find a few others so the JPOP reviews live on! Today’s focus will be on Taeyeon’s solo debut in Japan, Stay, which was released on the 30th of June. Taeyeon also recently made her solo return in South Korea and I reviewed both her title track (Something New) and album (Something New).

Right off the bat, the first impression I had of Stay was that it could be the Japanese counterpart for Taeyeon’s iconic I. While Stay does not have the explosive vocals, the energy and colour between the two are commonly uniform. It does do a good job at showing off the soloist’s vocals, which does serve as a good reminder of how she started off in KPOP as a solo artist (especially given how all her Korean releases have been more of the unique nature). What I also liked about the song was its peaceful nature. It didn’t employ EDM or synths, instead opting for a more traditional sound and instrumental, which allows her vocals to shine more. I did think the bridge was a little too different from the overall feel of the song and I haven’t been able to get used to it so far. Other than that, it was a good song.

I really liked the golden lighting that they had throughout the video, which does compliment the song. It gives a warm atmosphere, which does go quite well with the song. Going back to the idea that this is the Japanese counterpart of the I debut, the music videos are quite similar. In both videos, it seems like she is rediscovering herself by putting herself into a foreign environment. Likewise, the golden fields in this video remind me of the green fields in the I video.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Album Review] Something New (3rd Mini Album) – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Apologies for the lateness of this album review. I am still trying to catch up with some of the albums from a few weeks ago and keeping up to date with some of the latest albums. But we are here for Taeyeon!  The vocalist released ‘Something New’ two weeks ago, along with her 3rd mini-album, which shares the same name as the title track. I have noticed that some people have been searching the site for this review, so I bumped its release to be a little earlier than what I had planned. So let’s not waste anymore time and get the show on the road!

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Something New Album Cover

1..Something New (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Something New. (8/10)

2. All Night Long (저녁의 이유) (ft. Lucas from NCT) – The pop-reggae song opens up with Lucas rapping, following with Taeyeon singing the rest of the song. It is here where I get a bit of Where Is The Love (by Black Eye Peas) vibes and this stays throughout the song. I personally liked the chorus of the song, which has this bright and upbeat feel that makes me sway along to the beat of the song. It also makes you feel good, which is amazing (considering how stress I have been the last few days). Taeyeon’s vocals shine here as well, especially the high note at the end. (9/10)

3. Baram X 3 (바람 바람 바람)Baram X 3 has this upbeat feel that you won’t get anywhere else on this album. And for that, the song does standout quite a lot. I thought the horns used in the instrumental for the track really gave the song that pop, which makes it stand out even more. The chorus was super catchy, especially how she sings the Baram Baram Baram with a lot of enthusiasm, which gets the listeners interested. (9/10)

4. One Day (너의 생일) – The song opens up with instrumentation (xylophone or triangle?) that has a really nice twinkling effect. It sets the tone for the song and instantly sets you to a calm mode, which I really like. Other than that, Taeyeon manages to show off her vocals throughout the song, which isn’t any surprise. However, it sounds so nice. It is a nice song to have a stroll to. The English line that starts off the chorus is surprisingly catchy, sticking in my head for a very long time after the song ends. (9/10)

5. Circus – With a title like this, I expected the song to be have some fun vibes. Instead, the song takes a ballad approach. And while this wasn’t to my expectations, the song is definitely show-stopping enough. Its very simple instrumental, consisting of piano and percussion makes you feel like you are alone with her on a very beautiful starry night. Her vocals were exceptional, to the point where when I listen to the song, I can’t do anything but take a moment and listen to its entirety. It ends the album on a truly beautiful note and is easily a song that I do end up going back for more. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

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Something New Teaser Image

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[Review] Something New – Taeyeon (SNSD)

The announcement of  Taeyeon’s comeback and 3rd mini-album appeared out of the blue last week. She is known for her chart-topping hits, such as I and Fine. And with the release of her new mini-album, she will most likely add Something New to that list, with the release of both her mini-album and title track today. Taeyeon previously released This Christmas last year as a special Christmas single.

Opening up Something New is an autotuned yet harmonizing acapella-like introduction which really engages you. It isn’t something that you hear all too often hence why I found it intriguing. The song then takes a turn and progresses into a more upbeat territory which remains for the rest of the song. It takes on a neo-soul urban pop genre mashup, a first for Taeyeon, who has experimented in the past with different sounds. I really like the funky and groovy sounds you get from the song, which really puts it in an even more interesting light. I also liked how light her voice feels in this song, especially during the chorus. There is this balance between her voice and the instrumental, with the latter being bold yet still complimenting the vocals. I really liked the prechorus and the bridge of the song, as those moments stood out the most for me. The chorus had a decent hook but it wasn’t exactly the selling point for me. I think, just based on the different sound itself, the song does feel memorable. Overall, it is a nice song. 

The music video starts off with Taeyeon’s makeup all over the place. We see a snippet of the video to come but you don’t really realize what is about to occur. The video then goes back to Taeyeon (who is beautifully presented) arriving at her hotel (?) and walking the red carpet inside here, with a sea of photographers and fans waiting for her arrival. It seems behind closed doors she is a taregt for everyone, with the bodyguard in the lift and the room service maid attempting to kill her. However in both scenarios, she emerges victorious and I assume their bodies in luggage. At the end of the video, we see her tossing all her luggage out into the sea and shooting them for good measures. Cash spills out of some of them. While I am not sure how the video exactly fits in with the song, someone on the YouTube comments suggested that the people out to get her were the haters and Taeyeon is fighting back. Makes sense. At the end, I think it was revealed that everything we had watched was a movie within the video, though I am not too sure. I thought it was a well produced video with an interesting plotline.

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

[Review] This Christmas – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Taeyeon is nominated for Best Female Soloist for this year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you want to support her and your favourite groups, click here to get voting!

SM Entertainment doesn’t mess around when it comes to the Christmas season. Usually, they end the year with Christmas albums for some of their artists and lineup many collaborations for the upcoming festive seasons. This year is no exception and to kick things off is Taeyeon with her first Christmas album, titled as This Christmas – Winter Is Coming.

The lead title track from the album is This Christmas, which is another ballad to add to Taeyeon’s forever expanding portfolio. This Christmas features a very nice piano instrumental that makes you feel warm but manages to prick an emotion or two out of you. I liked the late buildup of the instrumental. Even though it did make the start feel a little dragged out, it is not how you start but rather how you end. And the end of the song gives off a grand feel. Most importantly, however, is that the instrumental compliments her vocals very well. They make the song feel so much more emotional. The latter half of the song (where the instrumentation picks up) showcases Taeyeon’s vocals in such a beautiful light that I have to say that this is one of her best works yet.

The music video focuses on the girl’s relationship with her father, centring around Christmas. It starts off with the typical loving father and daughter relationship when is young. As she gets older, the relationship gets rocky and we see multiple scenes of her walking out on her dad and pushing her father away. In the end, it implies that Taeyeon is the young girl. The storyline made it into a very beautiful video to watch. I love the various effects they used to make it feel like Taeyeon was in a snowstorm with the snow blowing rapidly and the fast-moving camera work. I think that was the best scene in the entire video. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

[Review] 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).

 

 

 

 

KPOPREVIEWED 2016 Awards – Part 2

Click here to see the list of nominees for this year’s awards and scroll down to find out who wins!!!

If you have yet to see Part 1 (which also explains this corner) please click here.


BEST MALE ROOKIE GROUP

2016 saw a lot of new boy groups make their debut on the stage. Compiling the list of nominees for this section was extra hard because there were so many great debuts that just missed out on a spot on the list. The winner of the Best Male Rookie Group 2016 is Astro, who made continuous comebacks after their debut, pushing them into the spotlight. Honourable mentions are given to VRomance for their debut song, She.


BEST FEMALE ROOKIE GROUP

Like the male rookie group section above, a lot of girl groups made their debut in 2016. And a lot of them provided us with the hottest tracks of the year. WJSN, otherwise known as Cosmic Girls, made their debut with Mo Mo Mo and came back with one of the best tracks of the year: Secret. They are my pick for Best Female Rookie Group. Honourable Mentions goes to BlackPink and I.O.I (It was very hard to choose for this category).


BEST MALE SOLOIST

As every other year, solo artists are debuting and making comebacks. 2016 saw the long-awaited debuts of some main vocalists of different idol groups and the return of solo artists that we have known for a while. The winner has to be Zico (Block B) with his ballad track: I Am You, You are Me. This one track alone has been a chart topper and gave the rapper a new side. Honourable mention goes to Eric Nam and his surge in popularity this year with his releases.


BEST FEMALE SOLOIST

2016 was a very big year for female solo artists. Like the male solo artist awards, big names came back, while long-awaited debuts were made. My pick for the winner of Best Female Soloist goes to Taeyeon (SNSD). Her singles have been remarkable thus far. Honourable mentions goes to Hyosung (Secret), whose song is still being replayed, half a year after release.


BEST MALE GROUP

So many to consider. Can’t count with my fingers for this category and the next. But it has been a big year for male groups (and likewise female groups). Out of all the artists, I have to pick Seventeen as the group that stood out the most and hence are the winners here. As for honourable mentions, GOT7 takes it this year.


BEST FEMALE GROUP 

As mentioned above, girl groups have also had a very big year in KPOP. And there were too many to count as well. But my overall pick for Best Female Group has to be Mamamoo. 2016 has been their best year yet and I hope there are even better years to come. Oh My Girl receives honourable mentions for their releases of high quality and catchy songs.


BEST ALBUM

Now, I promised album reviews this year and my apologies, I failed to deliver. I asked you guys again (thanks to everyone who contributed to the survey) and album reviews are still something you guys want. I can’t review every one of them, but I will try my best to cover the main and biggest releases. As for 2016, Wings released by BTS as their 2nd Studio album is my pick for best album. I also thoroughly enjoyed the songs released by B.A.P as their third studio album, Carnival, which also takes Honourable Mention.


BEST MUSIC VIDEO

Many great videos were released this year. From amazing plots to great cinematography, or just the standard video that looks amazing, 2016 had it all. My picks for both the winner and honourable mention were videos that were long in length, but one focused on an action-packed story and the other for its complexity. The winner is B.A.P‘s Skydive and honourable mention goes to BTS‘s Blood Sweat & Tears.


BEST DANCE/PERFORMANCE

And as with every year, KPOP groups and solo artists have amazing dances that should be commended. There were so many top contenders, that it was quite hard to compile the list of ten. But nonetheless, my pick for best dance would have to be GOT7‘s Hard Carry and honourable mention goes to The Eye by Infinite.

 


BEST SONG OF THE YEAR

The hardest award to decide for. Hahaha… I put down 22 songs for this award. 22 amazing songs. And now I have to narrow the list to just 1. The difficulties. That being said, I won’t announce it words. Just watch the video below. But before that, let’s look at the honourable mentions that I manage to narrow down from that list of 22. Hover over the pictures to find out who and which song were picked. Note that these honourable mentions or the winners are not chosen via the end of year charts, but my thoughts alone.

And my pick of Best Song of 2016 goes to……

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VERY NICE – SEVENTEEN

Congratulations to all winners, honourable mentions and nominees. Everyone in general!!

[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

Recap of Golden Disk Awards 2016 + Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Recap of Seoul Music Awards 2015 + Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Recap of MAMA 2015 and Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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