[Review] Bedlam – Lee Jin Hyuk (UP10TION)

I now take a bit of a breather from the Monday releases to review 2 more recent comebacks. The first is the major comeback that Lee Jin Hyuk made yesterday with Bedlam. This is the UP10TION member’s first solo comeback after he made his solo debut earlier in the year with I Like That. Fellow member Kim Woo Seok who participated in Produce X 101 alongside with Lee Jin Hyuk also made his solo debut in May. Yet, we have not seen these two members return to their UP10TION lineup and capitalise on their newfound popularity. It is a bit of a mystery to why this has yet to occur. But we can only hope that a comeback will happen soon with all 10 members soon. In the meantime, here is Lee Jin Hyuk to hopefully appease those UP10TION cravings.

As boring as I felt I Like That was, I can’t help but think it is a lot more refined than what we have here. Actually, no. The word to use instead of ‘refined’ in that initial statement is ‘better’. From what I could get, Bedlam has a really nice fun-sounding instrumental, suitable for the upbeat hip-hop style that Lee Jin Hyuk’s solo release was aiming for. And from what I can hear, it had a decent level of brightness to make it well suited for the Summer season. However, it is all masked with Lee Jin Hyuk’s vocals, which I did not think was fun or Summery. You might want to give a song a listen first before seeing how I judged his delivery, in case this song might be your style. The last thing I want to do is turn you away from a track that you would have enjoyed. For me personally, I felt Lee Jin Hyuk was shouting the entire time. It felt overwhelming and it felt too much, to the point where I fund it hard to register the instrumental. In his defense, the song matches the title, as Bedlam can be defined as a scene of uproar of confusion. Though this doesn’t explaing the overwhelming nature of his delivery. The only part of the song that I enjoyed (coincidentally, it does not have any of Lee Jin Hyuk’s shouting in it) was the dance instrumental sequence at the ending. I liked the premature ending to the song before it threw us into that intense sequence, as this made it more impactful. It felt fitting for what had preceded it, mainly because it was also just a bunch of noise. But it gave the song some edge and something more appealing than his vocals. I hate to be brutally honest, but I just couldn’t sugar coat things this time around.

If the music video was indicative of what Bedlam was meant to sound like, it was definitely meant to be upbeat, bright, hip-hop and fun-sounding. It is quite disappointing that the visuals had to tell you what type of song it was meant to be. But for the music video specifically, it wasn’t that bad. Lee Jin Hyuk starts off as an office worker, who seemed to have a really tough day. So once the day was literally over, he let loose in the office. He definitely makes a mess in the office and in life (based on the breaking news story segment). He also goes wild at a Chinese buffet restaurant and on the computer screen. But it nice to know that Lee Jin Hyuk knows when to tone it down once the day restarts, returning to a professional office manner (and a mask!). Apart from making a mess, I really enjoyed the different choreography shots, as they looked quite flashy thanks to the lighting and post-production.

The best part of the performance has to be the dance sequence at the end of the song. Not because it was my most favourite part of the song, but it showed off a really intense choreography that allowed Lee Jin Hyuk to flex some of his dancing skills. The rest of the performance was quite chaotic, even during the routine moments. And I must admit, they do fit in well with the song.

Song – 4/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6/10

[Review] Red Moon – Kim Woo Seok (UP10TION)

Let’s kick off this week with reviews for two solo releases. The first belongs to the solo debut of Kim Woo Seok, otherwise known as Wooshin when he is apart of the UP10TION lineup. Though, you may be familiar with Kim Woo Seok for his more recent endeavours. Last year, he was one of the two members of UP10TION (the other being Lee Jin Hyuk) to participate in Produce X 101. He placed second overall in the survival show and thus was one of the 11 trainees from the show to make their debut as X1 with Flash. However, due to the voting rigging scandal, the project group disbanded earlier this year. Since then, Kim Woo Seok took a short break and has now returned as a solo artist with Red Moon. Let’s see what he has to offer with Red Moon.

Kim Woo Seok’s debut title track is a sensual styled song, made up of heavy bass and electric guitar. It isn’t a song that I find instantly powerful like many of the current dance tracks. Instead, it slowly builds as Red Moon progresses to become a really bold track. The song knows when to make an impact with its sound, such as the consecutive thumping that appeared between the more classically geared bridge and final chorus. This really helps boost up Red Moon to a whole new level. I say this because while I did enjoy the resulting instrumental, the ‘blank canvas’ or the trap-based layer that was heard underneath those already mentioned instruments above were incredibly dry and boring. Without those thumping beats, heavy bass and electrical guitar, I would have passed over this song and not looked back. If I could have my way in some capacity, I would wanted the song’s instrumental backbone to be a little more exciting as this could have provided the song with a little more electricity and power. But as I said, I did like the effects that were added to give that power and boldness. What I have no criticism for as I believe that Kim Woo Seok nailed from the very start was the vocal works. The song really does captialise on his vocals, bring that sensual nature to life. I really liked the relatively low tone he uses in the song’s verses. I also really liked how his voice amped up to match the increased energy flow from the chorus. All working well together to deliver Red Moon.

The music video looks pretty good. Sure, the music video heavily adopted the close up and choreography formula, which I have grown to dread. And this does bring a dry energy over the video. But I thought the sets designed looked cool. Furthermore, the warm hue in this video really reflected well with the song. The warm colours really made the video shine in a subtle manner and the song pop out of the video. The more vibrant coloured scenes ended up going well with the rest of the video. Kim Woo Seok takes on a homme fatale type of look throughout the video, which I am sure fans would love seeing. I do notice a growing trend of cutting fabric from clothing

The music video was definitely strong sensual vibe. And this is thanks to the performance. I think the main choreography points of the video is when his fingers run down his body and he proceeds to perform hip rolls. There is a lot of body rolling this in performance, which I am sure will excite fans. I particularly like the choreography during final moments of the bridge, leading into the final chorus. That looked powerful.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[Review] I Like That – Lee Jin Hyuk (UP10TION)

Back when Produce X 101 started, UP10TION sent two of its members (Kim Wooseok and Lee Jin Hyuk) onto the show to gain exposure. Lee Jin Hyuk placed 12th and missed out on a spot alongside his fellow member. Right after the show, his company provided him an opportunity to rest and threw UP10TION back into promotions with Your Gravity without him. It was a confusing move on TOP Media’s behalf, especially since he was there to help gain UP10TION attention. And he hasn’t promoted with the group at all since then. Instead, TOP media confirmed his solo debut for November the 4th and that is what I will be reviewing today.

The song is titled I Like That. Positioned as a rapper while promoting as part of his main group, Lee Jin Hyuk’s solo debut track takes on a club party hip hop style that used to be very popular as idol rappers made their solo debuts. There is a bit of nostalgia, as a result, with how the song is presented. But it is a style that I  never grew fond of and it seems to still be the case. It fails to deliver any of that ‘impact’ that I always mention and the track doesn’t come off as memorable. There are some fun vibes to it, which I did like. But they weren’t strong enough to really reel me in for a second or third listen. Apart from that, there are still some good elements of the song which I also liked. The instrumental isn’t too heavy-handed and it comes off as pleasant in a sense. “Pleasant’ isn’t a word you would necessarily use to describe a rapper’s song. But it did genuinely feel this way relative to other rapper-based tracks. His delivery was nice and tried to add a dynamic touch to the song. I think the song was a good starting point. Though I think the song could have been enhanced if there were more memorable moments/lines and if the producers pushed the song a little more.

I thought the music video was very boring. Apart from the shaky camera work, which worked well with the music, the video doesn’t offer much besides closeups and choreography shots. The sets were plain. I feel like this was a missed opportunity. The visual aspect of a comeback is very important, for me at least. It pretty much could enhance and added to the song’s atmosphere but I felt it did nothing of the sort.

The choreography was pretty good. Based on his showcase performance, Lee Jin Hyuk puts in full force like his backup dancers despite performing live. It definitely shows his performance skills. In addition to that, I thought his facial expressions were on point, which made the performance looked a little more captivating.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.1/10

[Album Review] The Moment Of Illusion (8th Mini Album) – UP10TION

The next album review (and this one is on time!) is for UP10TION’s return with The Moment Of Illusion. This is the group’s first album release since Blue Rose and Laberinto in 2018. The group has been absent from the stage as two of their members was participating in Produce X 101. And as a result, the same two members are also absent from this set of promotions (i.e. Kim Woo Seok due to promotions as part of X1 and Lee Jin Hyuk due to a break). Let’s see how the group’s latest album fair with the absence of two members.

The Moment Of Illusion Album Cover

1. Your Gravity (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Your Gravity. (6/10)

2. Sky Surfer – A part of me thinks that Sky Surfer would have been a little typical for the title track. The chorus, its drop and the synths used throughout the song weren’t exactly exciting or fresh. But the song almost could have been an alternative as a title track. I find the song having this breezy vibe coming from it, suiting the Summer season. I also like the guitar that is slightly hidden away by the electronic components in the instrumentation. It had Goblin (the South Korean drama) vibes, which I really liked. I thought the vocals and rapping was nice. Maybe if they gave it a twist, I wouldn’t have had my initial doubts about its title track potential. But it is still pretty good. (8/10)

3. Look At MeLook At Me takes a similar typical approach to Sky Surfer. But they manage to change it up to make it slightly different from the rest of the competition. The song opens up with a sort of foreign guitar-like instrumental. It gives way to a very dynamic track in my opinion, with everything in the instrumental a level lower than what we would typically here in KPOP. The chorus drops and repeats the title, which is pretty standard. But I liked how they put the brakes on the drop, making it slower than what you had expected. Overall, I thought to Look At Me was another great track on the album. (8.5/10)

4. Skyway – I think we have another contender for the title track status. And this one doesn’t face any doubts like I had expressed under Sky Surfer. Actually, I wonder why they didn’t pick this one instead. It is strong and very energetic, which I have mentioned before ticking boxes for me, And I like it how it doesn’t stop. It just keeps going and doesn’t take an unnecessary pause. I thought the chorus had a catchy melody. The vocals and raps were amazing, especially Kun’s rap sequence at the end, channelling the song’s momentum until the very last second of the song. (9/10)

5. Restore – The album thus far has been mainly upbeat dance tracks of varying genres. Restore tones everything back, opting for an R&B track. But still, I can definitely see a choreography routine for this track with backup dancers. Melodically, I find the track to be very nice. The vocals and raps were also good, with a large focus on the vocals thanks to the slower nature of the song. I do question why they chose to push themselves for the chorus, as it almost felt like the vocals in the chorus were overpowering everything else. But for the time being, I think they manage to not step over into that domain. (7/10)

6. Lover – The album returns to and ends on another dance track. It is probably their most intense on the album, thanks to its dramatic and crunchy synths. Once again, I find the track slightly typical. The chorus felt a little plain and I had expected it to ‘add’ to the intense, rather than continue on with what we heard in the verses. The vocals were strong and I thought the rappers shined in this track, thanks to the intensity. Their rap sequences ended up having a little oomph to it. While I did make comments about its typicalness, I think the choice of Lover at the end of the album is a bold and memorable choice. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

The Moment Of Illusion Teaser Image

[Review] Your Gravity – UP10TION

While I am reviewing the biggest comebacks of the week, we need to mention UP10TION. This is their first comeback in a while and their first post-Produce X 101. UP10TION’s Kim Woo Seok (Wooshin) and Lee Jin Hyuk (Wei) both participated in the show. Kim Woo Seok placed second on the survival show and will be making his debut alongside the rest of X1 next week. Lee Jin Hyuk missed out on a position in X1 and it was expected that he would return to UP10TION as a result. However, he will be sitting out of the promotions for UP10TION’s comeback, Your Gravity, which was released yesterday (alongside their 8th mini-album, The Moment of Illusion).

The first thing I noticed about the song while listening to it yesterday was how closely it resembles Pentagon’s Sha-La-La (released earlier in the year). I just hope that this wasn’t intentional. The entire backbone seems to be a replication of the mentioned track and I am not exactly sure what to think of this. It does manage to pack a punch with a little more vibrancy in its synths. The rapping and vocals were very strong as well. But the song doesn’t really showcase anything ‘new’ from the group. It also doesn’t go all the way to bring us a dynamic chorus, something that could have really boosted the song up a few more levels. As a result, the track doesn’t stick out as much as it should have. Overall, I think this was a great opportunity for the group to try out something new to attract the attention of new listeners and reinvent themselves. But I felt like the group stuck with what they had always done. And this resulted in a passable track from the group.

I think the music video was a little more intriguing and appealing. Matching that vibrancy I mentioned was the set, which had colour to it, allowing it to stand out in the background. The video shows a glimpse of the members having fun. I think to play around with the idea of gravity, the video opted for very dynamic cinematography. You wouldn’t think that this would help transform a built set like in this video, but it made the video 10 times better than if it was shot in a balanced manner. Like they went 360 degrees with the camera in this video.

I think the choreography for the comeback was awesome. And that is something that I think I have felt with the majority of UP10TION’s comebacks. I really liked their start, when they are in the circle formation. I also like how some of their moves were soft but followed up with a lot of sharp moves, which looked really cool overall.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Album Review] Laberinto (7th Mini Album) – UP10TION

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UP10TION recently returned with their new single, Blue Rose, which was featured on the group’s 7th mini-album, Laberinto. Something that I have noticed with the UP10TION releases this year is that they tend to be of the pop nature (excluding their title tracks). And while the group’s pop songs tend to be standard, their latest album contains a few good tracks that I quite liked. Hence, why today’s album review is for UP10TION! Their album contains 7 tracks in total (with one intro that I have not included, as usual).

Laberinto Album Cover

2. Blue Rose (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Blue Rose. (7/10)

3. BurningBurning started off as a standard pop song. The first verse was quite plain and ordinary. However, the chorus added some funk and colour to the song, giving it a very interesting and satisfying appeal to the song. And from then on, the song felt lively, which is rather odd as I think they used the same instrumental for the two verses. The vocal work was nice, especially that refined note at the end of the bridge (that leads into the final chorus). I liked the rapping in the song, which really fitted in well without causing any issues to the flow of the song. (8/10)

4. Turn Up The Night – I thought Turn Up The Night was a decent track but I am not a fan of the repetitive chorus that they opted with. By the end of the song, I got bored with the song’s main hook. I think it is the other elements that made me like the song. The use of brass throughout the song was nice and gave the song a fun energy. The vocal work gave the song that explosiveness that added to that energetic vibe and the rapping gave the song the much-needed edge that rapping usually gives to songs. (8/10)

5. MidnightMidnight has a softer tone that leads nicely from the preceding song. It starts off as a standard pop song but it slowly builds up into a sweet yet refreshing sound. Despite that, the song does maintain that level of energy that allows it to have an accompanying choreography, which matches the UP10TION style that I associate with them. Once again, the instrumental was a pop song but it too incorporated some brass. (7/10)

6. Happy Birthday – No, this isn’t a copy of the infamous song we all sing to celebrate someone’s birthday. Instead, it just another standard pop song on this album. I have to say that the song was a little underwhelming, particularly around the drop to the chorus, which could have given the song a more dynamic vibe. Instead, it stays safe and it fails to really liven up the song. I think this is the weakest song on the album. Nothing really appeals to me and I am not blown away with the final product. (6/10)

7. With YouWith You is the closest song on the album that you can get to that mandatory ballad. It is still upbeat and takes on that pop route which doesn’t really make it feel unique or special. It does focus on the vocals of the members, which I think isn’t something we get all too often when it comes to UP10TION. There was some rapping and I thought those sections were appropriate for it. I also find the song somewhat fitting for the festive season, as there is a certain level of warmth to the song. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.3/10

Laberinto Teaser Image

[Review] Blue Rose – UP10TION

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Continuing the blue theme for the last few reviews (Onew’s solo release, titled Blue and Mamamoo’s album review for BLUE;S)  is UP10TION’s latest release, Blue Rose, which is featured on the group’s 9th mini-album. This is the group’s first comeback since the release of their special single, So Beautiful back in August of this year. The group has also been active in Japan with their Chaser comeback.

Blue Rose starts off with what seems to promise to their most edgy sound yet. And they do a pretty good job with maintaining that level of edginess throughout the song. The rapping during this start (along with the rest of the rapping) was really cool, giving the song a really rough exterior. The instrumental gave the song a powerful kick, especially during the choruses. I really liked that brief pause after the first line of the chorus, giving that striking impact to the song. The bridge was also quite nice, bringing in a minimalist dance break, which I thought was quite cool. However, there were some things that hold is back from being an amazing song. The vocals felt bland. Because the song felt like the first verse/chorus was just copied and pasted, it left the vocals hanging and not really build up all that much. I felt like they could have spiced the song up a tiny bit towards the end, which would have made it a lot more interesting.

The music video seems to show two opposing sides. The more casually dressed UP10TION seemed to represent the fugitives, while the smartly dressed UP10TION shows the Chasers (based on the teasers). The fugitives have the Blue Rose, which the chasers are trying to obtain. We don’t really see any plot development, as the teasers made it out to be, which was a mega disappointment. In the end, we just see the chasers confront the fugitives and the video ends there. Pretty boring, if you ask me. Where is the action or the mystery? Moving to more positives, I liked their outfits and sets of the video, which I thought was classy.

Looking at the dance in the music video, there seems to be a sensual side to the performance which I think fits in with their sound really nicely. I also enjoyed that minimalist dance break hat they had, which I thought was quite cool. It is something a little different to usual dance breaks (which tends to be intense and powerful).

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Review] Chaser – UP10TION

UP10TION made their Japanese comeback one month ago today with Chaser. Yeah, it has been some time since its release and I apologise for the delayed review. Actually, it was meant to be reviewed last Saturday but due to personal reasons (and most likely tiredness), I decided to delay it until this week. Hence, it will be one of the two JPOP reviews published this week. So, let’s stop chasing the review so you can have a read of my thoughts about it.

At first, I thought it would be the Japanese version of Runner as the two words used in the titles are essentially synonyms of each other. However, they turned out to be different. Chaser has a very intense feel to it, which I actually like. The suspense built during the pre-chorus and the actual drop to the chorus definitely made the song sound so good. I liked how the vocals were louder than the instrumental, as it could have been easily drowned out during the chorus if it was any lower. I liked the vocals to the song, especially how breathy the verses were. And I liked how the rapping gave some impact and wasn’t just thrown into the song. It could have had some more individuality, considering the use of EDM by Korean artists in the JPOP industry. But overall, Chaser is definitely a great song.

The music video was good but it could have been a little more interesting by throwing in a short storyline. We are shown a very dark city (possibly futuristic), Wooshin running, a golden stopwatch slowly dropping to the ground and time reversing. I have no idea what to make of this. There was some intensity but I think it would have been better with some more background. I like the use of lights in the open space for the choreography shots, which matched the sound of the song very well.

The choreography is another positive aspect of the comeback. I personally do not have much else to say in regards to choreography. But I liked its energy and (once again) the intensity it delivered alongside the song.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[Review] So Beautiful – UP10TION

As I was planning the reviews to be published this week (aka. the start of the catching up that I promised weeks ago), I realized I completely forgot about UP10TION’s latest summer release, So Beautiful. It was released last week and is the title track off the UP10TION 2018 Special Photo Edition. This is the group’s first release since Candyland back in March of this year. The group also recently released their Japanese comeback track, Chaser, which I will be reviewing later this week.

So Beautiful is a pretty cool song. Though it doesn’t have a strong hook that gets me repeating a certain line over and over again (like most KPOP songs), there is enough within the instrumental to get me into the song. The instrumental seems to buildup in a fantastic manner and there were sections which reminded me of Wanna One’s Energetic for some reason (the rapper’s section during the verses and the piano during the verses, for example). I really like the kick that the rapper’s part bring along to the song in the verses and during the bridge, which was my pick for the highlight moments of the song. The vocals were quite good as well but that momentum and energy wasn’t the same, which was quite unfortunate. I feel like if the song had a more stronger hook, the song would have been a lot more memorable.

The music video shows the behind the scenes for what I assume is their photoshoot for their photo book. Not really much to say here. Though, this is a song that could have benefited with some sort of modelling concept, as that is what I imagined after listening to the song for the first time. I am not disappointed but rather have different ideas floating in my head as I was listening to the song.

I personally do not know if they will be promoting their new release. While photo books are not promoted, Going Crazy was released as part of another photo book release and was subsequently promoted on stage.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.3/10 


[Album Review] Invitation (1st Studio Album) – UP10TION

After 6 mini-albums, UP10TION had returned to the industry with their very first full-length studio album, Invitation. While they have yet to release a hit since their debut, this high-quality sounding album seems to confirm that this chart-topping track is just right around the corner. So let’s get this album review going! Per usual, I have left the intro track off the list.

Invitation Album Cover

2. Candyland (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Candyland. (7.7/10)

3. Target On (반해, 안반해) – Despite having a very standard instrumental, I think the song has potential to be a contender for the title track. Right off the bat, it suits the UP10TION’s sound. It had a great level of intensity and the chorus can be deemed as catchy. While I don’t have that much to say about it, I would return to the album to listen to this song. (9/10)

4. Finally (오늘이야) – In general, I liked the instrumental for this, particularly the drum beat. This pop song managed to showcase both the potential for the vocalists and the rappers of UP10TION. The fading out at the ended seemed a little force in my opinion. But other than that, its simplicity speaks volume, especially when we are continually inundated with EDM and more intense genres. And like the previous, it is another track that I would love to hear continuously. (9.5/10)

5. Habit (습관) – We have the first ballad on the album. The stormy sound effects do set the mood of the song, automatically making the song emotional. The start of the chorus was amazing and it is another ballad that has that swaying effect (which earns big ticks for me). The start of the rapping sequence was awkward but the rapping (overall) was decent. The change-up in the bridge was nice, while the vocalists got another chance to shine. (8/10)

6. Mixed Signals (모호해) – Opening Mixed Signals are some odd synths and a cough. And while it might be a little non-traditional, its uniqueness makes the song intriguing. I hope my ears are not playing tricks on me, but those some synths seem to play throughout the song (though very quietly). The song is perfect for hanging out on a Summer’s day. I particularly thought the bridge was cool and the drop into the final chorus made the final moments of the song pop out even more. (9/10)

7. Always (이대로) – Right off the bat, you get this cheerful sound from its uplifting instrumental. This makes the song pleasant and refreshing. Once again, the raps and vocals were on point. It features a catchy chorus and melodic hook. While the song does suffer from the ‘standard syndrome’, the group managed to nail its delivery very well. (9/10)

8. Superstar – I really like the ‘secret agent’ styled instrumental, which made his track feel quite cool. I also liked the ‘Superstar’ repetition at the start of the song (which was also played throughout the song). The chorus was also quite nice and it reminded me of a song that I just cannot think of right now. I think both the vocals and raps could have been more powerful, with some aggressive vibes fitting the instrumental perfectly. (8/10)

9. Love Sick – The song has this one guitar riff which I thought was awesome (just before the chorus). While we are also talking about the chorus, it was extremely explosive. I think the song could have benefited more if you listen to it with good speakers capable to inserting some bass into the song. I personally want to see a performance to this song and I think it is another track that could have rivalled the title track. (8/10)

10. Still With You (시간아 멈춰서) – This is the second ballad on the album and it is the one song that I am on the fence on. One part of me likes the normal pitched vocals, but I am not a fan of the falsetto vocals by Jinhoo here. Its effect is decent but it just felt pushy. Only the vocalists performed this song if I am not mistaken. And other than the falsetto, I think it was a decent track. (7/10)

11. I Need You (예고 없이) – I love the explosive nature of the instrumental of this track, which grabs your attention. It also is the one that features the rappers to an approximate level, who tend to be limited to a few seconds in some of their songs. And before you assume that I was not a fan of the falsetto songs here (I know, how contradicting of me), I think they were a much better match for the song. Once again, I would love to return to listen to this track, mainly due to its energy. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Invitation Individual Teasers (taken from Wishnote)

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] Candyland – UP10TION

Also making their comeback this week is UP10TION. Candyland is the title track off UP10TION’s first full-length album and this comeback also marks their first comeback as a 10-member boy group, with the return of Wooshin. We last saw them on stage with Going Crazy in October 2017.

For some odd reason, when I listen to Candyland, I can’t help but feel that there is some barrier of some kind between the instrumental and the members. As if the vocals/raps were just laid on top of the instrumental and not incorporated into the song. I don’t think that is a bad thing since you can hear their vocals and rap quite clearly, but it does feel distracting. Talking about the raps and vocals, both elements of the song were quite good, particularly the chorus, which was catchy.  If this song was to be used to prove anything, it would be the solid vocal line and amazing rap line that the group can bring out. The instrumental is your typical KPOP dance piece with a funky vibe added by the trumpets used in the background. But there is something that makes the track feel underwhelming. The song has character (through the instrumental and vocals/raps) but I think it fails to deliver on impact. It just doesn’t blow me away nor does it leave an impression. But overall, it is still another great track from the group.

The music video looks quite cool. It seems to play towards a more seductive side of the group, with the solo shots coming off as that. Content-wise, there doesn’t seem to be much to it. However, I like the lighting and they used that to bolden the colours which the members were wearing. On top of that, I really like how the camera shots followed the dance move. It looked shaky but it made it feel more captivating at the same time.

The choreography for this comeback was amazing. I think it would have to be the best part of the entire comeback. The chorus, in particular, was quite cool to watch. It was intense and it went well with both the song and music video concept.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10




[Review] Going Crazy – UP10TION

UP10TION has returned with a special mini album and the title track Going Crazy. They were last on stage with Runner, earlier this year. I am under the impression that they will promote this song but I am not 100% sure.

While the industry has been focusing heavily on the tropical house genre of EDM, it has been a while since we heard something a little purer. Going Crazy tackles the house genre and I think it does a pretty good job. The chorus is incredibly intense and it gives off a nice feeling when you listen to it. My body just wants to get up and dance to the music. And while the vocal and raps are quite good (you can hear it over the actual music and they don’t seem to be hindered by unnecessary autotune), the song lacks one aspect, a catchy hook. Everything else is great, I just don’t remember the song for its lyrics or its catchiness. And that isn’t the end of the world, just my overall feeling of the song. I really liked the pings at the start of the song as they made the song more intriguing. Overall, great song.

The music video worked in my opinion but I felt like the producer could have done more to it. It looks really cool and trendy. But the idea of these videos has been seen time and time again (when it fades between the members singing and dancing to the aesthetic use of props). Likewise, I am sure the flowers and disco balls have a cryptic message that I would never be able to crack  The black and white sets look good and the isolated colours do look bolder this way.

[Updated] This choreography is probably on the better ones out at the moment. The dance style was pretty cool (chorus was my favourite part), with all the members remaining in sync which looked even cooler. The moves aren’t impressive or mindblowing but the bigger picture made it looked amazing.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 9/10 [Updated]
Overall Rating – 8/10 [Updated]

[Review] Runner – UP10TION

UP10TION is back with a brand new song and mini-album, Star;dom. They previously were on the stage with White Night, which was released at the end of last year. The group is currently short one member, Wooshin, who is focusing on recovering from mental stress.

Runner joins the expanding list of song that are categories the tropical house sounds that have dominated KPOP waves for the past year or so. And while it does sound quite chill and laidback, the instrumental doesn’t really hype you up or give the song its needed buildup. Instead, it felt relatively neutral and this gives the song a more boring sound. That being said though, I do think it is okay. The laidback feel isn’t that common in KPOP, so it does have a refreshing feel to it. The vocal work does dominate throughout the song, which sounds nice when paired with the laid-back instrumentals. The chorus tries to be a little more dynamic, but it falls short. It does hook you in but it doesn’t hold you there for long. The rapping is quite good and suits this more laidback vibe. However, I do prefer a more upbeat and powerful vibe coming from UP10TION, such as White Night. This is different and this is good. But I don’t know if it is the track that gets them more exposure in the industry.

For a more active concept, the guys seem to have their fair share of sitting down time in this video. It makes me giggle. While the group does give off a more masculine vibe in the video, I can’t seem to get over a number of scenes of them ‘working out’ in comparison to the number of scenes of them ‘resting’. The video literally comprises of that and choreography scenes, so the video is more on the boring side of the spectrum. But the sets and the overall quality of the music video was amazing.

Their performance was quite cool. I liked how their hand movements matched the starting pistol used in athletic sports. I also liked their formations. Overall, I thought some of the moves in their choreography were original and different, which sets them apart from other performances.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

[Review] ID – UP10TION

This is the fourth and final Japanese song review for this week. As mentioned previously, I will find time to do another four reviews for girl group releases in Japan. But in the meantime, this is my review for UP10TION’s official Japanese debut. The boy group made their official debut with the single ID on 8th of March this year. Their most recent Korean promotions were late last year for White Night.

Out of all the four songs that I had chosen to review, this one didn’t reel me into the song, like how the others did. That being said, the song was still quite good and was incredibly strong in its instrumental and the group’s delivery. ID is an extremely synth-heavy, with its roots in electronic and EDM. Some parts did catch me off guard at first, but overall, the instrumental sounded pretty good. The vocals were mostly covered with autotune, which felt okay. It wasn’t misused or overused in any way, like in other songs. The raps could have been a little better. The reason why goes back to why I felt the song didn’t reel me in. The song felt extremely slow. The song’s tempo felt like it was in slow-motion the entire time, which did take the energy out of the synths. Going back to the raps, the raps were done so to match the tempo of the song. To me, the slowness sucked the energy out of that as well. Another thing is that the song didn’t have many hooks. There just wasn’t anything catchy about or anything that makes me want to go back, beside the powerfulness of the song. I would like to know what the meaning for “Dirty Little Freaks” in the song is (as it was mentioned during the heavily autotuned parts and throughout the chorus). Anyone willing to share?

The music video follows the same formula of choreography shots and closeups. The edgy vibes and toughness were portrayed through the industrial and urban sets. Overall, the sets were quite minimalistic, with the main focus on the group and their choreography. Hence, I have decided to join the performance section of the review with the music video. Honestly, their choreography for ID was quite amazing. The moves weren’t that special, but together, the dance that accompanied the song was great! The group is definitely emerging a group to look out for when it comes to choreographies.

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

[Review] White Night – UP10TION

UP10TION is also another band which had a busy year. They previously made their comeback with Attention and Tonight this year. Now they are back with their 5th mini-album, titled as Burst. Their latest title track is White Night.

It’s one of those tracks, where you won’t get into it by listening to it once. Rather, it will take a few listens to actually start liking it. At first, I thought the song was boring and forgettable. But listening to it a few more times have tempted me on putting this track on replay. The EDM-infused instrumental is amazing. It sounds edgy, tough and strong. It sounds rough (not in a bad way). I liked the “Burning Out” start. That really caught my attention. Started the song on a high for me. The beat seemed to be diminished after that intro. But as you progressed with the rest of the song, everything builds up. I think the first verse felt a little too empty without the added layers in the instrumental present in the later parts. The vocals and rapping were pretty good. The instrumental for the dance break was superb as well. Also, everything seemed a little too fast. Maybe small breaks in the song (particularly after the first chorus where everything seemed to be placed side by side and almost sounded like a blur). But besides that, I really enjoyed listening to the track. Already replayed multiple times.

The video is a little confusing. But using fan theories (from the comments section of the video) and my observations, this is my take on the video. 3 friends (Hwanhee, Kogyeol and Wooshin) used to be best of friends. Kogyeol died in an accident caused by Hwanhee on the ice hockey, thus breaking the friendship up (Wooshin blamed Hwanhee for Kogyeol’s death). Back when Kogyeol was alive, he had a girlfriend played by Somi from I.O.I. After his death, the video kind of alludes to the other two friends competing with each other. However, towards the end, it turns out that Hwanhee blamed himself for Kogyeol’s death, and gave a puck with Kogyeol and Somi’s name on it and his dead friend’s helmet. I guess this is his way to trying to make himself feel better and supporting Somi through the loss. Wooshin, on the other hand, somehow jumps to the conclusion that his former friend caused the accident on purpose, so Hwanhee could be with Somi. Wooshin confronts Hwanhee and they get into a fight. In the end, I think Wooshin realizes the truth on what Hwanhee was actually doing. That’s my take on the story. They showed the beginning at the end and the end at the start and I guess that threw me (and some other people) off. It was a very intense video that seemed like a mini-movie. I think it is a really good video to watch.

The dance is amazing. They have returned with a dance that is fitting for the song. Movements looked cool and very sharp. The dance break was pretty good.

Rating – 8.5/10

[Review] Tonight – UP10TION

UP10TION made their Summer comeback with Tonight. They released their song back on August 5th and have been promoting the song. They previously came back with Attention in April this year.

Honestly not too bad of a song. It just isn’t find it memorable or that catchy. Sure, I will listen to the song, but it isn’t something that I would say I would go back to it over and over again. I do prefer the more powerful and strong sound that UP10TION is going for. This suits the Summer concept really well, even borrowing lines from top Korean Summer hits. The vocal work is solid and the rapping was okay (not their best). The instrumental does feel quite bopping but (and here is contradicting me coming along) quite monotone for my liking. I don’t mind the brass sounds in it, but it does feel lacking in many ways. It does have a more colourful and bright vibe to it, which is something that we have not yet seen from the guys. But then again, these Summer tracks are something that most KPOP boy bands do. Which kind of leads me onto my next point (and refer back to the top). It is pretty generic (i.e. every band does a song like this and the sound/concept becomes unoriginal) and bland. That contributed to the lack of memorability of the song. But like I said, if it was there, I would listen to it.

Can’t really bang on how generic this video is. Unless I think of some way to show the Summer concept without throwing in the pool and the guys having fun. But that is essentially what the video is and there really isn’t much to say in regards to it. Though, rolling disco balls on a sunny day isn’t that fun. The light reflecting off the ball and into your/stranger’s eyes? Isn’t that annoying? This is coming from a guy who squints every time the suns pops out from behind the clouds. Where is this going?

Dance is okay. The stages aren’t that memorable as well. They do use a blanket or some material of some sort on the stage. The start looks quite cool, but pulling your members on it looks too childish for me. The blanket itself is something that I would associate with toddlers, not young adults.

Final Rating – 5/10