A few days ago, I wrote the review for VIXX’s latest title track. And given that I am a big fan of the group, it would be obvious that an album review would be coming your way. At first I thought I wouldn’t have time to write it today, but it is VIXX, so I pushed all my assignments to one side and wrote this. No regrets though, because it gave me another excuse to listen to their album and focus on the group entirely for one night. This is their 4th mini album to date, which is also titled as Shangri-La.
2.Into The Void – I love the introduction to this song. It sounds like a soundtrack out of a really good movie. Throw the group’s vocals on top of that soundtrack-like instrumental and the song turns into a spine-shivering song that sounds like pure amazingness. The chorus changes it up a bit, but still keeping that epic feel from the start. And then, Ravi’s rap throws the track into chaos. Not saying that is a bad thing here, it fits very well and gives the track that needed boost of energy just before the final chorus, in case it got oo repetitive. (9/10)
3. Black Out – I think it is going to be an expected thing when it comes to VIXX albums. The presence of a questionable track that gets fans a little hot and bothered. Throw in the performance for a track like this and all I can say is damn… Out of all the songs, this one is the catchiest out of all. The track itself uses a seductive tone, especially from Ravi, which is extremely appropriate for a song of this nature. (9/10)
4. It’s Coming (다가오네) – The obligatory ballad on the album. Like I have mentioned throughout the review, their vocals are top-notch, which is amazing. It’s another song, regardless of its meaning or message, that makes me want to sway along to it. The percussion in the instrumental give the song that dynamic side, fitting in nicely with the upbeat tracks that preceded it. (8/10)
5.To Us (우리에게) – It’s the song that the album needed. A return from the previous ballad to the more upbeat songs of the tracklist, but not a complete return. I personally think this is an amazing song. It is easy to the ears and their vocals are superb in this song. Literally, their vocal work on this album is their best yet and they maintained that standard to the very end of the album. (9/10)
VIXX has finally returned with their fourth mini album, titled as Shangri-La. The title of the title track also shares the same name. This is VIXX’s first comeback since their comeback at the end of the year with The Closer, which finished off their trilogy centred around Greek Gods. They went on to releaseMilky Way, which was a special track for their fans.
The first thing you notice is that Chinese inspired instrumental. The song also combines synths to make it unique, similar to Ten’s Dream In A Dream. The Chinese inspired instrumental dominates the verses, while the synth-based instrumental dominates during the chorus, which does make it an interesting mix. In its own right, the track is extremely powerful. While it may not have the bass that I would have love, the differing dominance between sounds does give off strength and toughness. Their vocal work here is also quite exceptional. We already know the level that Leo and Ken can reach, but the rest of the other members do shine as brightly as Leo and Ken. I love N’s little section during the bridge, it is quite haunting. Even Ravi’s raps are quite good. Maybe not as badass and tough sounding like their other works, but still quite good. But that leads onto the issue for me. The track doesn’t hype me up as their previous work. And that is something I look for when VIXX releases songs. I have listened to it for a few times now after their 6 pm KST release, but I am not blown away with it. Maybe tomorrow or the next few days, but currently, I have don’t feel anything after the track ends.
The music video is crystal clear. I honestly don’t know if I have been living under a rock for the past year or so, but many music videos have emerged to be fully high-definition, which amazes me. GOT7’s Never Ever, Monsta X’s Beautiful and even Twice’s latest comeback (review coming out tomorrow) have wowed me with their quality. Once again, I am probably reviewing the comeback a little too early, so there is probably no fan theories for the music video yet. There is something going on, but since I have been apparently living under a rock, some never-heard-before story everyone has heard of is what the video is based on. After a little research, Shangri-La is a mythical place where it is forever happy and that is all what I can get from it. Back to square one. Also, while this isn’t the first time KPOP singers have performed with water at their feet, this video does it really cool. I also love the different lighting and sets in the video. All looked quite cool.
I have been officially ‘slayed’ with the choreography. Their use of the fans gives off an elegant yet very dominating feel. That powerfulness is portrayed nicely through their sharp moves and their precision is amazing in this performance. I love the start where their starting pose and the hand work that they show. Once again, VIXX has done it again with the choreography.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 10/10 Overall Rating – 8.5/10
I am officially back everyone. And finally, I am moving along with the posts. This is the replacement to the normal Best of the Bests that I do at the end of each year. Essentially, they are the same thing, just a different name for them. This is just for fun and is just my thoughts relayed into a post. I did want to include you guys in the voting this time around, but because of my vacation, I had skipped over it. Maybe next year, if nothing pops up.
I usually post the nominees up in a separate post. However, because of time constraints, I have linked the nominees on a separate page by clicking the link below, instead of writing them out.
This award goes to the groups that have seen the most growth in 2016. Past winners have risen from the rookie status (usually) or ‘nugu’ status and conquered the year they were awarded in. Looking back there are a number groups that took over 2016. But the rising star award goes to Twice and Seventeen. It is quite obvious why. Both groups had a following already in 2015 but 2016 saw more success, proving them to be a force to look out for.
This award is self-explanatory, given to the song that has the best instrumental. This is something that I talk about in review and is vital to the song (though I have heard amazing acapella in the past). It seems like simple took out the award this year with the instrumental of The Rain by Ladies Code taking out the award. But don’t worry because the EDM based song Fire by BTS took out Honourable Mention.
The Rain – Ladies Code (Winner)
Fire – BTS (Honourable Mentions)
Comeback after comeback after comeback. It is like shifting through a needle in a haystack. Any artist could have been nominated for this but I chose VIXX as the winner for this. Their comebacks have been consistent but unique each time. Their releases have you asking what they have planned next. As for honourable mentions, BTS takes it. Given their releases in the past year, I have to say I was very impressed.
BTS (Honourable Mentions)
It seems like subunits have dropped off the trends list this year. Actually, they have become quite rare. That being said, there have been some notable subunits in 2016. My pick for the winner is EXO-CBX, which consists of Chen, Baekhyun and Xiumin. Their song, Hey Mama, was extremely catchy and fun to listen to. Honourable mention go to NCT Dream for their release of the fun and equally catchy Chewing Gum (plus they performed on hoverboards).
NCT Dream (Honourable Mention)
Not a big fan of rapping but I have to be honest, there are many great rappers here that show me otherwise. A few rappers in idol groups have released mixtapes this year as part of their solo work, further showing their influence on the industry. The winner I have chosen is Zico (Block B). All of his solo releases and collaborations have been extremely popular and successful in the past year. Honourable mention goes Suga (BTS), whose mixtape and work within BTS have also amazed me this year.
Zico (Block B) (Winner)
Suga (BTS) (Honourable Mention)
Vocals are something that I admire the most. So, it was rather hard for me to narrow down just 5 nominees, particularly since there were more shows where vocalists of different idol groups and actors/actresses could participate in. My radar jumped when I heard the winner sing on those shows. I am talking about Sandeul (B1A4), whose voice sounded amazing in his solo work and collaborations on Duet Song Festival. I chose Mamamoo for honourable mention as their vocals are no joke, slaying with almost everything they release.
Sanduel (B1A4) (Winner)
Mamamoo (Honourable Mention)
Collaborations are still popular and with SM Entertainment’s SM Station in full effect for 2016, we saw a more diverse range of collaborations that have never been seen before. My pick for the best collaboration of 2016 is Hit Me by MOBB, which is a collaboration between Mino (Winner) and Bobby (iKON). Honourable mentions go to Tiffany (SNSD) and SanE for their SM Station track, Heartbreak Hotel.
Hit Me – MOBB (Winner)
Heartbreak Hotel – Tiffany (SNSD) ft. SanE (Honourable Mention)
BEST NON-TITLE SONG
These songs include songs that were simply released as a part of the album but forgotten as it was never promoted. Some of them were performed with the title track for one week but have since not been performed. Songs that deserve some sort of recognition as well. My pick of honourable mention is I Miss You by Mamamoo, which was included in their first studio album. The winner of the best non-title song goes to Sistar with their track: String. String is actually one of the few songs that are not a title track that was replayed constantly on my phone.
VIXX has released a brand new song to end their Conception trilogy. The album compromises all the title tracks for the trilogy (Dynamite, FantasyandThe Closer), along with any tracks that were released with the title tracks and the addition of Milky Way.
The song is pretty good. I like it how VIXX does end up releasing a song that more bright and happier than their any of their latest releases. It is a song for the fans, who have supported them. A way to say thanks to their Starlights (VIXX’s fanclub) and other fans. There is a classy and elegant feel that you get when you listen to the song. It is a song that, at least for me, gets my feet tapping along. Everything in the track has this very smooth or sleek feeling. The vocals and even Ravi’s rapping are not hard-hitting, rough or powerful. But each members vocals / Ravi’s rap are shown off and you can definitely hear their talent in this song. The song needs more of a hook, in my opinion. Honestly, it is something that I would forget about it now, but rediscover in a months time and then complain to myself how forgot about this song. But nonetheless, the song is still pretty calming and nice to listen to now.
Since this is a music video for the fans, I don’t think it would be fair for me to be critical about it. After all the track and video itself are presents from VIXX to the fans. The video was shot with 600 fans. It also shows the guys being themselves on stage, with an ocean of fans around them. I assumed the video also uses some of the shots taken by fans. To be honest, given the stories about fans recently, they look very well behaved here.
VIXX has made their return with the third part of their “Conception’ trilogy. Previously, the group released Dynamite, which was based on the Greek God of Zelos (God of Jealousy and Rivalry). Then they recently returned with Fantasy, based on the Greek God of Hades (God of the Underworld). Now, they are back with the final part, The Closer, based on the Greek God of Kratos (God of strength, might, sovereign rule, and authority in all its forms – Wikipedia, 2016).
Another amazing song from VIXX. Another fine year for the group. Dynamite was an explosion. Fantasy was unimaginable. And The Closer acts as a final chapter to VIXX’s 2016. The song infuses dance, pop and RnB. In the end, we get a very smooth song that sounds quite classy as well. Vocally, every member shined in this song. You can hear improvements in Hyuk’s and Hongbin’s vocals. But none of the members shined throughout the song like Ken did. The focus was shifted to him in the song (vocally) and his vocals fit the song perfectly. I also loved Ravi’s rap. It weren’t as fierce this time and had a more defined rhythm to it. That “Oh Whoa Whoa, That’s no no boy” captured my attention as soon as I heard it. I do love the individual sounds in the instrumental. The church bells, for example, at the start gave a very eerie and mysterious feel, adding that VIXX flavour that we know quite well of. I don’t know why, but I am drawn to the sound of cymbals in the song. The lyrics are quite sensual as well, which does fit in with the overall sound of the song. The only thing that I don’t seem to like about the track is a lack of energy. Sure, it is pretty much passive but I guess I am more used to the stronger and masculine sound from VIXX.
The music video is amazing. Cinematography for this video is amazing. The effects are incredible. I saw the making of this music video and it surprised me with how they shot the video. You can simply google the making of the video, but let’s just say minimal computer effects were required from the looks of the making video. In the video every member (besides Ken) are frozen. N falling off a ledge, Hyuk’s car crashed into the wall. Everyone, regardless, is frozen. Just Ken isn’t and he moves about. I guess it ties with the lyrics of the song. Everyone is after this girl, but Ken is Kratos, so he stops everyone, just to get to the girl himself. Even lyrics in the song backs this up: “Pushing away everyone else and having you“. When no one is frozen (aka the chorus of the song) the video immediately snaps to the choreography scenes. It defines the intensity of the chorus pretty well. The editing and transitions in this video are amazing, not just the content of the video.
I thought the dance had a lot of class and matched the song quite well. At times, it looked like it was hastily put together and I think some fine tuning could have done to make it even more polished. But nonetheless, this performance is pretty grand already. Just look at N’s spin!
VIXX has returned to the stage with the second part of their Greek God trilogy. Last time, they were Zelos, the God of Jealousy and Rivalry and made their comeback with Dynamite. This time, they returned to their dark roots as the God of the Underworld, otherwise known as Hades. The title track for this promotional run is Fantasy.
Jaw dropping. I am amazed and in awe when I hear this song. I love the orchestra feel of the instrumental. The instrumental itself was sampled from Moonlight Sonata, which in the context of this song, gives it an eerie feeling that really cannot be described in words.I love the slow buildup in this song and that burst of power and sound that we get as soon as we launch right into the chorus. And saying launch makes it underwhelming. More like thrown into the chorus as approx 100 km/hr. Okay, I will stop. The vocal work and the rapping in the song are amazing. None of them felt lacking or underwhelming. I do have two minor complaints. While I did love the chorus a lot, I felt it was quite overpowering for the vocals. I found it a bit difficult to listen to Ken and Leo the first few times I listened to the song. I am more used to it now, just I do have that thought come into frame every now and then. Ravi had quite a limited part. I am a little disappointed in that. The rap sequence we got is already excellent, though I would appreciate it more if it was a lot longer. But still, it is an excellent song that is right up VIXX’s alley.
Concept wise, I don’t really see much of the “Hades” concept in the video. But when we talk about the Greek God of the Underworld, ‘eerie’, ‘mysterious’, ‘dark’, ‘powerful’ and ‘terrifying’ are all terms we would use to describe him. And once again, VIXX has ticked it all off. The darkness was not there that much in Dynamite, but it is definitely here in this one, which reminds me so well of the old days for VIXX. Though I have no clue on what is really happening in the video, here is my take on the video: the members are like demons from the underworld. They are sent to bring N down to their world, and coerce him into going into the door that leads to the new world. So some of the members (N, Hongbin, Ken and Ravi( had halos at the end but in the form of the prickly metal halos. Once N officially becomes one of theirs, it seems Leo is their next target but somehow manages to avoid it (as he is bandaging up his wounds at the end, where the prickly metal bits are meant to be). Hyuk seems to be someone from above, stopping people before entering the door. That’s my take on the video and if I was even remotely right, I think it is an interesting story to tell.
The choreography fits the song and concept really well. Though I do not see anything memorable, them singing the song and pulling off any dance is bound to blow all our minds. I do think the dance does back up my theory in the music video. At the end of the first chorus, the lyrics “Get back up, off that dream”. They drop down to the stage as if the underworld is calling them, but the eerie vocals make it seem like someone from above is calling them, hence they look up. Just something I noticed that probably isn’t right, but still amazing.
Yeah… I know May hasn’t ended yet, but to avoid posting another late ‘Rewind” post 3 weeks after the month finished, I have decided to April and May together. This one is going to be a little informal in terms of format for a few reasons that will appear apparent. And before we move on, just a little reminder that I will try to write and release reviews every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Okay, moving along:
Leaving the Group?
We became shocked with the disbandment (or what we dubbed at the disbandment) of Kara at the start of the year. However, it seems like certain groups are facing member line up changes after one of their members had decided to not resign with their company and have since departed ways with their respective groups. Former member of 2NE1, Minzy, and former member of Miss A, Jia, have both decided to leave their successful group and go onto their own paths. Minzy will (hopefully) make her solo debut in the near future after confirmation came from her new company in which she signed. Jia was announced today that she would be leaving the band after her contract finished. Miss A and 2NE1 faced disbandment rumours from these two events, but both their companies have stated that is not the case. Not only girl groups are facing these changes, but A-Jax (if we all remember who they were) recently lost 3 members (Sungmin, Jaehyung and Jihu). But the list does not end there. Hyunseung departed from Beast, leaving the group with 5 members. It was kind of expected after the numerous articles and petitions asking for his removal. Hyunseung is expected to return as a solo artist in the near future and is still signed with Cube Entertainment. It is always disappointing to hear these news and it has obviously shocked the industry a lot. These members have been with their band since the beginning, so it is always hard for fans. Hopefully, there won’t be any more of this and I wish the former members luck in their future endeavours (because that is something we all should do and not call them selfish).
Descendant of the Sun
Now this is something we all have heard about. The drama has taken Asia by storm and has been proven to be highly successsful. It stars Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Ko, as the main characters. Before you all die from shock, I have yet to watch this drama. So, no spoilers. But I don’t actually have any plans to watch the drama. Because I am not one to enjoy romance and all this lovey dovey sh*t. I just don’t watch the genre (or any mainstream and popular dramas). I prefer the cringeworthy daily dramas. Now, why am I talking about this drama? Well, the OSTs for this drama has literally taken over the charts each time they were released. Not complaining here, but the songs were really good. Like, I really enjoy listening to them and this is probably the first time I have been impressed with the OST for a drama. Anyway, the OST contains songs from Davichi, Gummy, K.Will, Yoon Mi Rae, Chen, Punch, Mad Clown, Kim Na Young, Xiah, MC The Max, Lyn and SG Wannabe. In OST terms, this is pretty much the star studded red carpet. Each song released topped the charts instantaneously and I can see these artists winning the Best OST awards at the award ceremonies already. That is all I am reporting on… Hahaha…
Comebacks and Debuts
For the past two months, many artists have made their comeback and they include ): Block B, Seventeen, History, April, Twice, AOA, Akdong Musician, VIXX, Lovelyz, Up10Tion and so many more.
For debuts, NCT is the big debut for April. I.O.I is probably the major debut for May. However, we have seen new soloists emerge in KPOP in the past two months. Notably, Jung Eunji from APINK, Woohyun from Infinite and Tiffany from SNSD had their respective solo debuts in the last two months.
May hasn’t ended yet, but it is about to. I will add other May songs to the June list (when I get around to it).
0. Pretty U – Seventeen (I have to. I have been trialling charts and Seventeen has been popping up every single week as the top song for the week).
1. Good Luck – AOA
2. Save Me – BTS
3. Nodding Nodding – Woohyun (Infinite)
4. I Just Wanna Dance – Tiffany (SNSD)
5. Fire – BTS
This one was a long one and I tried to keep it short. I am really behind in reviews and will get them out slowly. It will take me some time to catch up. Bad news is that I have exams coming up and I am going to be slower. I will review every major release eventually, so give me some time. Enjoy the rest of May and see you tomorrow!!!
VIXX has returned with a brand new concept. The set of three or “trilogy” concept has been on the rise in South Korea with BTS, G-Friend, Seventeen and Lovelyz wrapping up their “set of three” concepts. VIXX will be the latest band to join the ranks in this trend and have promised three comebacks within a year which focuses on Greek mythology. They have always surprised us (or scared the daylights out of us) with their concepts, so it will be interesting to see what they will do next. Dynamite begins the trilogy for VIXX.
And is Dynamite a good song or what? One of the few songs that I am obsessing over these days. It is not your typical VIXX song. Actually, it is not a song that you would associate with VIXX. It is many times more colourful than their previous hits and has more of a bright tune to it. It focuses more on the pop side of KPOP, but the meaning (in terms of the Greek God that they are focusing on) is really brought to life with the song. But I will talk about the concept later. Vocal wise, everyone got a decent part of the pie and showcased an excellent standard. Hyuk and Hongbin particular, shined more in this song, as they have more lines than in the past. The rap was okay. It felt very underwhelming and just didn’t hit the right feels to make me go wow. Everything else was just great. The instrumental is amazing and that small part that Hyuk has before the chorus is really unique and makes the song very interesting. Definitely catchy (like any VIXX song) addictive. VIXX has managed to do it once again with Dynamite.
The Greek God that they are focusing on this time around is Zelos, the God of Jealousy and Rivalry. And the video shows the concept in a very interesting way. So Ravi said in an interview or somewhere for this concept: “Our lead track, “Dynamite,” is about a guy being blinded by jealousy and willing to turn the world upside down to get his ex back.”. And the video shows just that. The video is quite calm at the start, but as it progressed, it literally looked like the world was turned upside down and all hell broke loose. The flying coloured dust and the camera became even shakier. Talking about the camera, I think this was an excellent example of how a shaky camera could be used to their benefit. It worked really well and was in time with their dance moves. The sets were pretty good as well. They were all quite simple but the guys acting gave each set a lot more definition and meaning. I think the video was amazing overall, as you can tell from my comments.
Dance wise, I thought it was underwhelming. But saying that doesn’t mean I hate it or the dance wasn’t good enough for the song and concept. It was good, it just didn’t live to my expectations. I guess I did expect more of a kick to the dance. Their facial expressions in this dance is pretty much teasing all of us. N’s smile occurring indirectly to the camera and Hongbin’s smirks were my favourite. They do match the concept and made everyone go wild.
Song and video were amazing and top notch. The dance could have definitely been better, but what we got was pretty good still. 8.5/10
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!!
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.
VIXX has made their return to Japan with a new song, which coincides with the release of their first Japanese album. The album includes the Japanese versions of some of their past Korean hits, such as Chained Up and Error. The album has includes some Korean songs that VIXX has released as extra tracks. But even better, the album includes some Japanese tracks: Can’t Say, which was their first official original Japanese release and Depend On You, their second official original Japanese release and the whole reason of today’s review.
VIXX’s song is good but I keep on asking myself is it good enough? Depend On Me has this very dramatic orchestra sound, mixed with elements of electronic, which gives it a good sound which I like. The chorus beat drops and it sounds more like a pop song than anything else. It flows with the rest of the song, but to me, it just seems like it misses the cake. It was so dramatic sounding at the start, but then that same dramatic feel just disappears. Sure, I listen to the song if it comes on, but I don’t think it is something that I would get caught on. The bridge is okay, but it feels mis-matched with the rest of the song. The vocal work is pretty well damn good in this song. All the members sound great and Ravi’s rap is always sounding hardcore and bad-ass. I don’t know, I feel like I am let down with the chorus in this song. It is great to see such a powerful song from the band in Japan (thought they would stay with their Can’t Stay sound).
The music video is simple. Put the guys in an overused room to dance in and shoot majority of the dance scenes. Throw in some solo shots up close in the dark room and then more solo shots in a white room with red strings everywhere. And that is your video. There were some shots in the video of N just talking to a girl. N notices she becomes disinterested in what is going on, and then this flash forward (or back) of the red strings come along. And then at the very end, we see him whisper something to the girl, and that room flashes back with N whispering the same thing to the camera. So what is going on? Am I meant to look at the lyrics or something because I am a little confused. The strings make sense, since the lyrics talk about cutting strings that join the two together, but what about that N scenes? A little too simple for my liking, but still pretty nice to watch.
But here is what we do actually watch in that video, and that is the dance. While the video below does not capture the whole video for us (still waiting patient for the official upload though), the dance is pretty cool. The highlight of the dance though, the violin introduction where Ravi imaginary plays the violin. It looks so cool. The rest of the dance fitted in with the electronic components of the instrumental. A lot of powerful and strong moves.
Overall, little iffy on the song, video is good and VIXX never lets us down with the dance. 7/10
Welcome to the end of the year! Each year, I do this “End Of The Year Chart” where I properly rank songs via a personalised ranking system, which shows which songs I liked the most (and which songs I did not like at all – but I won’t name and shame). How do I rank the songs? Simply taking the score that I gave them in the review published earlier in the year, adding it to new review scores for the music, video and performance. Then I add those to other scores from “Songs of the Month” in my Rewind posts and to ensure that I can properly order them, I turn to my iTunes play count. And when I say “add”, there is a mixture of mathematical operations (and I am going to stop here, before I can bore you). In no way is this chart influenced by my choice of best song in the BOBs. But I do highlight them here :).
Gain (Brown Eyed Girls)
If You Do
Oh My Girl
Love Me Right
I Need U
Sing For You
Taeyeon (SNSD) ft. Verbal Jint
Like OOH AHH
Oh Um Ah Yeah
Lee Hong Ki (FT Island)
Between Night n Music
Shake That Brass
Amber (f(x)) ft. Taeyeon (SNSD)
VIXX LR (VIXX)
Brand New World
Brown Eyed Girls
Ring My Bell
Donghae & Eunhyuk
Catch Me If You Can
Me Gustas Tu
Kim Sung Gyu (Infinite)
Might Just Die
We Like 2 Party
Mad Clown ft. Jamsil (Mad Child Soul)
Ice Cream Cake
Kim Sung Gyu (Infinite)
I Feel You
Wow Wow Wow
Junjin (Shinhwa) ft. Eric (Shinhwa)
And here are some interesting facts about this year and the chart itself!
A total of 180 songs were ranked on this chart, but a total of 195 songs were reviewed this year (which I believe is a personal best).
The first song reviewed and included in the chart is BTOB’s The Winter Tale (released at the end of last year). The last song reviewed and included in the chart was EXO’s Sing For You
A total of 16 girl groups, 17 boy groups and 9 soloists are featured on the chart.
There is a better mix of boys and girl groups this year, compared to last year, where the first boy group did not feature on the charts until after 16th place.
BTS had the most songs on the chart (I Need U, Dope & Run). followed by: EXID (Ah Yeah & Hot Pink), GOT7 (If You Do, Just Right), EXO (Love Me Right, Sing For You), Kim Sung Gyu (The Answer, Kontrol) & Red Velvet (Dumb Dumb & Ice Cream Cake).
Rookies were actually a strong force this year with Oh My Girl, Seventeen and Twice ranking quite high up in the charts.
The following ranked after 50th place: IU, B.I.G, Crayon Pop, VIXX, Seventeen, Changmin, Big Bang, Brown Eyed Girls and CLC.
And finally, this year chart was actually reflected on the BOBs this year. I crowned EXID’s Ah Yeah as best song for both segments.
AND THAT IS IT!! 2015 will be ending shortly. 6 Hours To Go (for me at least)!!! Hope 2015 has been a great year for you all. I thank you all once again for another year of KPOPreviewed. Your support has been amazing. Every comment and like (heck even every view) makes me happy!! Nearly 5 years and still going strong!! Thank you 2015 and I wish you all a Happy New Year wherever and whenever it is time. Let’s make 2016 our year!!! (First review: 2nd of Jan).
2015 is at its end, and with days away from the new year, we must reflect on 2015. And per usual: excellent songs, videos and dances have gracefully entered our lives and probably have not yet left us. From comebacks from big name acts to debuts of new rookie bands, 2015 has been a splendid year in my opinion. This year I decided to do the BOBs differently. Usually, I post a list of nominees and categories, but I don’t get you guys to vote for them (nor do I have the capabilities and time to allow you guys to vote for them, but maybe in the future), so I thought I should change it up this year, but posting both nominees and winners in the same post. This is part 1 of the BOBs and part 2 will be released tomorrow with the rest of the categories. Also, the traditional End of Year Charts will be released on the 31st of December, at 11:55 pm, so please wait around for that. Let’s get the post on the road!!!
These awards do not reflect any review score that I gave out this year. My personal preferences will always change (i.e. an 8 review score can currently be a 10 OR a 10 review score can currently by an 8).
RED FONT – Winners, BLUE FONT – Honourable Mention
Each year, artists see a rise in popularity. May that be due to great songs or great publicity (after all: any publicity is good publicity), this year was no difference. Each of these artists, I have personally seen, some sort of boost in popularity this year. And I get to choose two winners (one male and one female) for this certain category. For this year, I have nominated:
My pick is: EXID and BTOB. Both teams saw a rise in popularity due to one particular member, and slowly each member in each group is become well known in the industry. Keep up the good work, EXID and BTOB!!!
A song is not a song without an instrumental. And in KPOP, the instrumental plays a massive part in hooking us in and getting us addicted to the music. Especially for foreign and international fans who don’t understand the Korean language 100%. So many great instrumentals this year, here are the nominees:
Out of all the nominees, there can be only one winner: Wonder Girls – I Feel You. The girls returned to the stage with a brand new band concept, which totally wowed me. This instrumental has its own retro vibe and I personally enjoyed it a lot. From the drums to the keyboard and guitars, the girls totally deserve this. By far one of the most underrated songs, that definitely deserve an award! Honourable Mentions: F(x) – 4Walls
BEST JAPANESE SONG
I also do some Japanese songs on this site. Hahaha… Yeah, I review some Japanese songs from time to time. The variety of singers that I listen to for Japanese songs is usually limited to only the Japanese songs released by Korean artists. This year, the category has been dominated by Korean artists and I hope next year, I can start to review more Japanese artists! Here are the nominees:
I think, I was most addicted to Beast – Can’t Wait To Love You. And that was my pick for Best Japanese Song. It was song that I felt did not fall into the typical Korean Pop or Japanese Pop genres and was pretty unique on its own. As for honourable mentions: BTS – For You.
Big name comebacks this occurred and they all managed to rock our socks off. Hahaha… I take into account: song, concept, promotions, looks, impact and a few more categories and suprisngly, the biggest artists that emerge from the Golden Age of KPOP were nominated:
Out of all the comebacks nominated, the one that fitted the criteria the most would have been Big Bang. 2015 was one big year for the band, and they had such an unique concept in terms of promotion. SNSD takes away honourable mention for this category.
Unfortunately, 2015 did not continue the 2014 trend of subunits. However, some new subunits formed from popular bands and some old favourite returned. Here is who I think should be nominated as best subunit:
This one was a little close for me. But I am going to say Donghae and Eunhyuk, which is a subunit belonging to Super Junior. Their song was by far an amazing and left a more long lasting impact on me than the others. The other subunit that gets honourable mention is VIXX LR, which is a duo made up of Leo and Ravi.
2015 saw a new wave of contestant based TV shows around rapping and hence many artists have seen a boost in popularity after appearing on these shows. Other rappers also remained on stage as part of their groups and amazed the audience continuously during each comeback. Here are the nominees:
Out of all the rappers on the light, I picked Mad Clown as a winner. His song was a hit, it was a great song (now) and while he is not part of some group, he still managed to be placed ahead of everyone this year. Zico (Block B) took out Honourable Mention for his active year. Interestingly enough, both selected artists had someone featuring in their song.
When there are rappers, there are also singers. 2015 also saw new programs (and our old favourites) made specifically for the vocalists of all groups. Some vocalists we know have always amazed us, but others have just emerged and became trends for 2015. Based purely on what they sound like, here are the nominees:
I think this category has the most obvious winner, Taeyeon (SNSD). Yeah, she was quite active as an artist, but her debut for I blew everyone away. As for honourable mention, it goes to Solji (EXID). Her performance of Maria still replays in my head. Her powerful vocals in EXID’s performance are also quite amazing.
BEST MALE SOLOIST
While the above category looked like at vocal performance, the Best Male Soloist looks at their vocal performance, song, impact and dance (if applicable) – i.e. their comeback or debut as a collective. To be nominated, the artists must have been active as a solo artist this year (while the above also included group vocalists). The nominees are:
There is only one artist on this list that managed to wow me the very moment I listened to the song and that artist is Kim Sung Gyu (Infinite). His whole album did wonders and is an album that I am continuously going back to. As for honourable mentions, Lee Hong Ki (FT Island) wins that. His solo debut song was well received and I reviewed it as an amazing ballad.
BEST FEMALE SOLOIST
While the above category(Best Vocalist) looked like at vocal performance, the Best Female Soloist looks at their vocal performance, song, impact and dance (if applicable) – i.e. their comeback or debut as a collective. To be nominated, the artists must have been active as a solo artist this year (while the above also included group vocalists). The nominees are:
Once again, I am going to give it to Taeyeon (SNSD). Vocally, stunning. It was memorable and lovely to listen to. Honourable Mention was a close call, but Amber (F(x)) stole it from Gain (Brown Eyed Girls). So catchy and bright.
And that is it for Part 1 of the BOBs. Check back tomorrow, where I will post the second part of the BOBs, with Best Song, Best Male and Female Rookie; and Best Male and Female groups (plus a few more categories).
*All images and gifs belong to their owners/creators. Only those tables are mine.
VIXX new song is not what I expected. Usually they have a song that we can describe as dark and mysterious. However, this particular song is more upbeat and possibly “happy”, even though the lyrics do not go in that direction. I feel like the instrumental can be also be used for a less darker or more fun concept. Do you understand? It is rather odd to think that way, but it seems to be the only way I can describe it. Nonetheless, this song is pretty solid. I absolutely love the rap segments before the chorus. They build up to the chorus pretty well. The vocals are pretty solid in this song and I feel like the autotune works really well with the song. The chorus is catchy, but it did require a few listens for me to get into the groove of the song. At first I thought it wasn’t a VIXX song and that it sounded rush. But after extra listens, they managed to chain me up in their music (no pun intended – is this how puns actually work?). I feel like Hongbin and Leo got their time to shine in this song, vocally.
Visually, I think the music video is stunning. The outside scene where they are on top of building at the start looks really well shot, and the members individual scenes seems to bring the concept pretty well. They all seem like good places to hang out at, to be honest. Who doesn’t want to run through Leo’s chains and those pieces of plastic hanging about. The members also bring out a whole new level of sexy. Their costumes, even though they seem simple and easy to copy, bring out that side of masculinity in the guys that we have not seen yet. I’m kind of iffy on the topic of the chokers. Yeah, they look cool and fit the concept really well. BUT they look so damn uncomfortable. Or maybe that is just me and in reality they are cuddly as heck. In the song paragraph, I said Leo and Hongbin stood out. Visually, I think Ken looked the most awesome in this comeback. Everyone else looked fine, it is just Ken looked like he was suited for this concept.
As for the dance, I think we can agree on that it is either Leo on his own OR the whole entire group. From flying members to body waves, now hip rolls. Now what on earth is left in terms of key dance moves that the boys can attempt next? Out of all the dances by VIXX to date, I think this is the most literal dance for any of their comebacks so far. And I think I am going to say this, but it is probably one of their strongest dances to date. And finally, damn it was sexy. And this is coming from a guy’s point of view.
VIXX seems to bring out brand new dark concepts that we have never seen before and manage to impress everyone with their continuously creative and imaginative comebacks. And this is no exception. 9/10
VIXX is back, but in the form of Leo and Ravi. Yes, VIXX has launched their LR subunit, which I totally thought stood for Left and Right. For those who don’t know, Leo is the very capable main vocalist known for his quiet and “calm” persona, while Ravi is the rapper of the group, who is known for his sexual lyrics. Yeah, if you can’t tell, I am a bit of a fan of VIXX. But I am not bias. Trust me. It has been a while since we heard of VIXX. At the start of the year, they made their comeback and has since ventured into Japan and the group has focused mainly on solo work.
This is a song that I would highly recommend. Not because I am bias, but this is a beautiful song that mixes the ballad genre with more a rap and hip hop type of vibe. Yeah, not a big fan of the whole rapping in ballad type of songs, but this song really does it well. Leo, we all know, has this wonderful voice and Ravi is known for his powerful rapping style. Put the two together and you get a really powerful ballad. Each member is given equal opportunities to show off what they have under their sleeves. Leo’s high notes that he belts out during the song is truly amazing. Ravi’s powerful rapping did wonders. And them two when they come together and sing together at certain parts, match each other so well. The instrumental won me over. It is by far definitely one of the brightest highlights for the song. I really enjoyed how they mixed the ballad song with a more electronic type of sound during the second verse when Ravi is rapping. The lyrics for this song is quite ingeniously written as well. We hear “Beautiful Lair” throughout the song, but the final words of the song is actually “cowardly liar”.
Odd place to end the final paragraph, but it leads nicely into the plot of the video. In the video, Ravi and Leo is one person. Kind of like the Jekyll and Hyde concept they were going for in the past. Leo is the lie, while Ravi is the truth. The truth is, Ravi is an accurate representation of the feelings Leo have. But Leo wants to let her go, so she can have a great life (she is going to get married to another guy). They struggle throughout the video, but Leo ends up winning. In the end, he sings “cowardly liar” because that is what he is. Because he did not have the guts to tell the girl his true feelings. Love the play on the black and white in the video. Their acting is pretty impressive in this video as well. Their “struggle” scene is pretty good and was an impressive way to showcase the plot. I also love it how they give you two kind of ending. One shows Ravi dying (strangled by the Leo, probably wanted to do that for some time) and the other is where Ravi “slips” away. I thought this was an amazing video. Well showcased.
Not really going to mention the dance, mainly because there isn’t anything to talk about. The members focus on singing and rapping, which I felt was enough. The need for the backup dancers was nice but I don’t think they were needed.
Wow. I wrote so much. But honestly, check out this song. 10/10
Despite being on stage just a few months ago with Error, VIXX has returned to the stage in 2015. But I agree with everyone. You can never have too much VIXX. But seriously, these poor boys (and it is not just these boys. Countless other idol groups, big or small) are probably working their asses off to get their name in place within the industry. Big name bands usually have only 1 or two comebacks within a year with massive gaps in between. This allows them to focus on individual work and rest. And that is one downside to the industry. Wait, this is now a rant? Okay. I shall end here. Bottom line: VIXX is working extremely hard and they deserve a break. Maybe not as bad as 2013 was a more hectic year. And maybe not to the extent that B.A.P needed a break. But still, they are pretty tired.
This is a remake of the 1995 of R.ef’s hit single Farewell Formula. And for those who don’t know, R.ef was a widely known group back in the day, though I don’t think they are active anymore. Though I have not heard the original song yet, I am going to take a massive stab in the dark that VIXX’s version is going to be modern and sound quite similar to the original. At the same time, I believe Ravi wrote the rap to the song, which was a great addition because that “Ha Ha Ho Ho” part of the rap was freaking amazing. Actually, all the members stood out for once. For a moment, I was kind of concerned that Hongbin was the only member to get one part of the song but my worries were at ease when I saw the live performances. Ken’s high notes just keep on getting higher and pretty sure is competing against Leo for the best high note belt-er. The English in this song really needs to be worked on. “Love is incomplete” but when Ravi says it: “Love is incompetent”? Also “Love Ekation” kind of made me go insane. Not making fun of his poor English, just it needs a little more work.
The music video is okay. Damn, I miss the dark side of VIXX time and time again when I see concepts like this. But then again, they bring in fresh air for those who quickly tire of the same old thing time and time again. I guess they went for the “boy next door” image this time around. They played basketball, played video games. However, they are reminded of the past with their exs. N got rejected in the video, while Ken was completely heartbroken when he realized his girlfriend was not next to him anymore. I have no idea what Hongbin was doing. He seemed to be un-phased (at the start of the video only) about the whole love idea. He was later reminded of his love when he packed all the things that belonged to her away though. Hyuk, on the other end, tried his best to make Ravi happy. But something tells me that he made Ravi go a little to the angry side. Overall, the video was light and fun, which is fitting to the song. It was a little boring, but it did its job pretty well.
As for the dance. I liked it. It was difficult like VIXX’s normal dances and had a VIXX feel to it. I love it how they included the Error concept in this dance as well. A big part of the choreography (and I kid you not) is the amount of smiles made by Leo at the camera. Though N looks a lot serious now, so I don’t really know anymore.
That was a long review. I badly want to review Memory off their mini album this time. That song was totally an amazing song on the mini album. But nevertheless, the comeback was pretty good. Changed up from their signature dark concepts, but still pretty solid. 8/10