[Double Review] Ready Now + Still Dream – Kim Woojin

A bit more time travelling for me, with the next review focusing on Kim Woojin’s solo debut as a solo artist. For those who don’t know Kim Woojin, he debuted as part of Stray Kids in 2018 and left the group suddenly in 2019 for unknown reasons. Last year, rumours started to circulate on the Internet about the artist, but those rumours were later dispelled. And now in 2021, he officially returns to the music scene with his solo debut and first solo mini-album, The moment : 未成年, a minor. The mini-album features two songs – Ready Now, his official title track released last week, and Still Dream, a pre-release single released early last month.

I will begin with Ready Now, the debut single. In this song, his vocals flourishes and is shown off in an impeccable manner. It was quite consistent display of vocals throughout, with it soaring and amplifying at the right moments to stand out over the instrumentation. The ad-libs we get at the end further enhances the quality of the element within Ready Now, making it an ideal showcase of skills for a debut track. His rapping in the song was decent, at best. I personally felt that it was the weakest part of the song, and thought the rap sequence should have been more bolstered and impactful, especially since it was coming off from the first chorus. There wasn’t enough bite or traction to the section, which made it feel rather weak. The chorus had this subtle level of intensity, which felt refined and mature to me. And given that the first chorus was the initial showing of this subtle intensity, the succeeding parts should have had more to continue that momentum. The instrumentation was a dramatic synth backing, and felt punchy at the right moments. But other than that, I didn’t hear anything that special with the instrumental. Overall, Ready Now was a great start (on the music front) for a solo career.

Still Dream was a teaser for what was to come, prior to the release of Ready Now. In retrospect, Still Dream is a lot more straightforward as a song, compared to his debut single. Still Dream takes on alternative rock, with pulsing and heavily emphasised percussion throughout the song. The rock elements give the song some flair and further intensity. For his vocals, this pre-release single shows off Kim Woojin, once again. In particular, Still Dream manages to show off his hoarse vocals, which felt very appropriate and fitting for the alternative rock sound. I also like the moments in which he pushes himself in this song, which made it satisfying to listen to. Altogether, there was an epic and powerful vibe behind the song that made it riveting to listen to. I wouldn’t mind listening to a live version of this song, complete with a rock band in the background. I do wish we got a bit of a changeup towards the end of the song. I think that would have made the song a tad more appealing and less repetitive as it ended up coming off as. But still, a strong pre-release for Kim Woojin.

Kim Woojin has quite a story and it seems like some of it is featured in the music video for Ready Now. He is being confined and restricted in a glass box, crushed by a lowering platform and running in a dark corridor with no light at the end. Essentially, he is showing his struggles with starting out throughout the video. But towards the end, there is light and hope, to which he sings that he is ‘ready now’. Not exactly sure what the sand depicts, but it was a recurring element in those scenes. I liked the matureness and the darkness of the video, which looked aesthetic from my point of view. As for Still Dream, simplicity seems to be the concept. Shot in grassy fields, Kim Woojin essentially performs for the entirety of the video with his dancers. This concept definitely worked in his favour and complimented the song really well. However, there are elements that I do not like in this video. Firstly, I felt the intensity provided by the camerawork was poor. It was shaky, hard to focus and should have been turned down a notch. Secondly, I didn’t like his light blue outfit (and the dancers brown pieces). It looked boring and didn’t feel like it reflected the song well.

Performance-wise, I think he could have toned himself down for Ready Now. I felt there was too much energy from Kim Woojin. This isn’t necessary a bad thing. But when it is too fast and quick, in comparison to the dancers, it looks over the top and unsettling. You can see the passion and feel the intensity being channeled from song to dance. But to be more refined, he should have held back a bit. I think similar comments can describe the performance for Still Dream, but it wasn’t off-putting as the final result of Ready Now.

Ready Now
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

Still Dream
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

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