[International Song Reviews] Momoland, BM (KARD), Mark Tuan, THE8 (SEVENTEEN), Jamie & SEVENTEEN

Time for another International Song Reviews post. It appears with my attempts to focus on catching up with KPOP song and album reviews, I have neglected the other releases our beloved Korean artists have also been releasing in international industries. But don’t you worry, I have forgotten these tracks just yet. Last time I did an International Song Review post, it was back at the end of July and covered releases from YUNHO, SORN, Red Velvet, T1419 and TVXQ.

Over the next few weeks, I will be posting more International Song Reviews posts on a fortnightly basis and I will be increasing the number of reviews to 6 per post to help me catch up. As a result, the reviews will be shorter to compensate for this change. Today’s post will cover songs from Momoland, BM (from KARD), Mark Tuan (from GOT7), THE8 (from SEVENTEEN), JAMIE and SEVENTEEN.


Yummy Yummy Love – Momoland & Natti Natasha

Yummy Yummy Love was a collaboration between Momoland and Natti Natasha that released way back in January of this year. At the time of release, I remember thinking Yummy Yummy Love was a pretty mediocre song and the hooks that the pop song had felt very childish and elementary. Months on, and I can report that Yummy Yummy Love has been upgraded to a pleasant status. And it is thanks to those hooks that I thought were chidlish. They ended up catching on for me, making the song fun in its own way. The high pitched delivery of the chorus also works well with the pop instrumentation (which to be fair, I thought was a little too typical). Part of me still thinks that certain parts of Yummy Yummy Love (namely the ‘Ski-pi-di-bap, bi-pap, bi-pap, boo‘ first pre-chorus and the JooE’s rap-sing lines) could have been removed and replaced with something more aligned with the rest of the song. But overall, Yummy Yummy Love is a decent track to me now.

The music video was quite plain. I wished the video focused a little more on the fun aspects of the song, rather than the visuals of the members. I have nothing against the Momoland members and Natti Natasha’s visuals, as they do have a place in this video. But the video is supposedly set in a skating rink and I think only one person ended up skating (and it was an extra). The choreography, especially the chorus routine, is another memorable aspect of the release. I found it to be both fun and sexy, which worked well with the song and the collaborators, as well.

Overall Rating – 6.5/10


LIE (LOST IN EUPHORIA)- BM (KARD)

Also returning back in January of this year is BM (from KARD). His solo comeback was titled LIE, which stands for LOST IN EUPHORIA. There is a bit of Korean in this song (which technically would have LIE able to get a full review). But since it was predominately in English, I had put it aside for this segment instead.

With BM’s repertoire of rap/hip-hop tracks, it comes as no surprise that LIE falls into this category as well. But keeping in trend and changing up the dynamic slightly was a slow rock alternative instrumental, which I quite liked. There is a bit of melody that helps make LIE appealing to my personal taste. While it does look good for LIE and the fact that I don’t mind it, I did think LIE was lacking in some regards, especially as we reached the end of the track, The entire song sounds quite linear. And so by the time the song reaches the end, I was already tuned out as everything felt the same. I think BM could have gone harder in some parts and this may have helped kept the appeal of LIE going.

The music video for LIE was pretty much how I had expected it. It was moody and heavy, as the song’s atmosphere suggests. I liked how the video portrayed his struggles throughout the video, with the editing making it look a lot harder and darker. BM’s acting is also another aspect of this, and I commend the way he also contributed that portrayal (and the music video’s atmosphere). The green screen scenes could have been a bit cleaner in my opinion, just to bring it up to par with the quality of the rest of the video.

Overall Rating – 8/10


My Life – Mark Tuan (GOT7)

Another January release. This time, it is Mark Tuan’s solo release My Life. From all the solo songs Mark Tuan has put out this year (there has been a lot, and I will be reviewing a few of them in the forthcoming International Song Review segments), My Life has been one of the more memorable ones. For me, it is Mark’s vocals that steal the show. I don’t think we have heard Mark give us a ballad before (at least, a substantial one), and so to hear him in such a delicate, fragile and emotive state is quite something. My Life‘s melodies were stunning. The instrumental, for the most part was atmospheric piano and synths (the latter only appeared in the choruses). However, to close out the song, Mark brings in strings that just ends My Life in an impeccable manner. He doesn’t sing once the strings were brought into play, allowing them to do the speaking on his behalf and carry on the momentum that he had created with the piano earlier on in the song.

Given that this is a ballad, the music video doesn’t opt for anything flashy or dynamic. Instead, the video features Mark Tuan in quite still settings. He is either lying on the floor or table, draped across on the piano, and standing in the darkness. All of these shots were shot aesthetically to match the balladry nature of the song. I also really liked the slow pans of the camera, which match the slow nature of the song.

Overall Rating – 10/10


海城 (Hai Cheng) – THE8 (SEVENTEEN)

Released back in March is THE8’s solo comeback with Hai Cheng, a song titled after the singer’s birthplace. Hai Cheng is a fairly simple song when you describe it in words. One half is the piano instrumental. The entire song, from start to end, was beautifully instrumented with said piano. There is something so stilling about a song instrumented by only one instrument. The other half of the track is THE8 himself, who sings so sentimentally and emotively throughout Hai Cheng. Those who know THE8 for his works as part of SEVENTEEN might be surprised with the balladry sound that he had opted for in Hai Cheng. The melodies were so good, and had that swaying effect that I love when it comes to ballads.

The music video is equally as good as the song. The music video for Hai Cheng features THE8, who appears to revisiting home in this video. At the beginning of the video, he enters his home, puts a bag down and turn on the light as if he hasn’t been there for a while. After some reminiscing in the home, he revisits some of the sites that has been to in the past. We are then shown memories of THE8 with a female character in those exact same locations having fun as a couple and even dancing on the streets. The final shot of the girl leaving THE8 on the beach, and then we see a bird’s eye view of the tide engulfing him, was definitely heart breaking to watch.

Overall Rating – 9/10


Pity Party – JAMIE

JAMIE (formerly known as Park Jimin)’s solo comeback, Pity Party, was released back in February of this year. And since its release, the song was featured fairly often on my Weekly KPOP Chart’s International Song by a Korean artist segment. Hence, I am excited to actually review the track. Pity Party is a pop track, but has this subtle groove to it, which really made the song quite appealing to me. The guitar in the chorus was probably the most memorable aspect of Pity Party‘s background. A bit typical, but still brought a whole heap of vibrancy to the song and disco synths. JAMIE showcased strong vocals at certain points of the song (i.e. pre-choruses and the bridge), and I quite enjoyed her during these moments. The chorus hook was a bit plain and repetitive in hindsight, but I think I can still described them as catchy, as like how they appeared me when I first heard Pity Party.

Something I hadn’t mentioned above is that Pity Party went for a completely different sound profile when compared to her previous comebacks, And to match this change in sound, JAMIE has opted for a more mature visual as well. I liked this more sassy and attitude heavy look that JAMIE went with, which works well with the story and lyrics of the song. Essentially, JAMIE is holding a pity party for herself and some guests. She lures her ex to the party, drugs him and then proceeds to get revenge by burning him alive (off screen). Maybe not the pity party most of us had in mind, but definitely one that she wants. Like the video and song, JAMIE also opts for a mature vibe from the choreography. Its simple, but it still manages to look on par with the rest of the comeback.

Overall Rating – 8.3/10


Darl+ing – SEVENTEEN

Darl+ing was released in April, earning the title of SEVENTEEN’s first English language track and pre-release of their (at the time) upcoming fourth studio album FACE THE SUN. It was quite surprising to me at the time of release that SEVENTEEN opted for a soft sound for their first English language. I always thought that they would have made their English debut with a bolder sound. But Darl+ing was warming and soothing to listen to, nonetheless (despite the heavy thumping in the pre-choruses). The melodies were pretty and actually ended up bring memorable in its own way. The vocal work was weak in my opinion, but I think that was the result of the softer sounds and pretty melodies. The instrumental aligns with pop and the atmosphere as result of the background reminds me of their 2019 release HOME.

From what I could understand, the music video shows a ‘loss of innocence’ concept. The world was once happy, cheerful, bright and colourful. But upon Vernon’s discovery that there is more to the world than what they know (i.e. their shadows), the once perfect world starts unraveling around them. Each member soon becomes aware of this other world in their own way, like becoming aware of the darker reflection of themselves and watching the world around them change in different manners. In the end, all them fall to the other world, which is all dark and looks abandoned. The members are bruised and have cuts across their faces, suggesting that they now understand pain and hurt. It also probably sets up for their HOT music video, given that was a bit dark and mature. The choreography matches up with the bright and happy world, with the members displaying smiles and the moves were all soft and small.

Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[International Song Reviews] YUNHO, SORN, Red Velvet, T1419, TVXQ

As previously hinted, I am finally getting around to another post under the International Song Reviews umbrella. Apologies for taking forever since the last post (way back from April). This post was supposed to be published last week. But per usual, my time management is horrible and I ran out of time to work on it. Well fret no more, as here it is! For this post, I will be covering Japanese releases from YUNHO, Red Velvet, T1419 and TVXQ, plus an English release from SORN (former member of CLC).


KIMI WA SAKI E IKU – Yunho

Released way back in February of this year, YUNHO returned as a solo artist in Japan with KIMI WA SAKI E IKU, which translates to You Go Ahead. It is a pretty neat track, with a nice and pleasant groove within the instrumental. YUNHO’s husky vocals were smooth, and I liked how he delivered the hooks in the song in a soft manner. I felt the rapping was a bit of a mismatch. I have no doubts that KIMI WA SAKI E IKU needed some sort of rap sequence, but the short and brief stints of rapping we do get in the song were quite crass and were just thrown in there. For the music video, I felt like an aesthetic concept would be more fitting for the song. What we got was pretty standard. and confusing (couldn’t work out a plot). The shout at the start caught my attention (actually, shocked me), but everything else felt very smooth. The visual effects were cool, but the sets/location were relatively boring. As for the choreography, nothing fancy or mind-blowing. But it works well with the softer nature of the song, so that a plus. (6.7/10)


SHARP OBJECTS – SORN

Post-CLC and Cube Entertainment (thank god for the latter), SORN has been releasing a few solo singles. She made her solo debut with RUN under Cube Entertainment last year (which I never got around to writing a review for). But I am not going to let her newer releases pass by. Her first release of this year is titled SHARP OBJECTS, from also way back in March of this year. The song delves into synthwave side of EDM, going with a fairly smooth but also banging instrumental. The cascading effect of the chorus was super cool and very ear-catching. Also ear-catching was SORN herself, who shows off a very mature side in terms of her vocals. I am also loving the retro tinge that the filtering of the vocals bring to SHARP OBJECTS, adding a lot more depth and colour to the song. I found the music video to be quite captivating. Not only does that mature vibe come through visually as well, I really enjoyed watching SORN on screen. Her acting throughout this video was on point. The use of the mannequins was quite creepy, if I am being honest. But it is a charming point of the video. There is a bit of choreography to this release, but I factor the choreography to be part of the music video. I quite liked the sensual vibes that were brought along. (9/10)


WILDSIDE – Red Velvet

Just a week following their Feel My Rhythm comeback, Red Velvet had unveiled their newest Japanese single, WILDSIDE. It officially released at the start of April. I quite liked the vocal centric side of this R&B dance track and the members sound well polished in this song. As a result, it is safe to say that the track falls onto the group’s ‘velvet’ category of releases. I did like the hint of abrasion that the instrumental brought to the song, so it isn’t too smooth and too consistent for my liking. I also enjoyed the prominence of the WILDSIDE‘s hook, as well, with the extra push in the vocal department helping offset that smooth and over consistency. I did wish there was something more dynamic in the song, just to drive it up a bit more. But it was a strong release already. The music video touches on an edgy concept, where they seem to be after that red gem we see in the video. Their black and white outfits are trendy and modern, and give rise to that edginess. But aside from that, there are also some really artsy shots throughout the video, which was interesting. I much prefer the artsy shots, as it felt more fitting for the song. But I did like the idea of changing up the visuals throughout the video. I liked the mature side of this choreography routine. There is a prettiness to it, as well. I wished there was a performance version somewhere to see more of the choreography than what is just in the music video. (8.2/10)


Run Up – T1419

T1419 had released a string of comebacks since their debut with ASURABALBALTA and DRACULA last year, and I have yet to review any of them (I will get to them eventually). But what I have noticed is that I am drawn to their Japanese releases, with Daydreamer from earlier this year being their best release to date. But I am hear to review Run Up, which was released in March of this year as the title track from the group’s first Japanese mini-album, Our Teen:Blue Side. It was re-released as a Korean single in May. I really enjoyed the dance track’s pre-chorus and chorus combination. There was a nice pop to the pre-chorus, and I liked the intensity and energy that comes from the chorus. The hooks were decent and had a nice ring to them. The verses were largely forgettable, which is a slight disappointment given this is where most of Run Up‘s rapping was located. The instrumental was also quite standard and lacked innovation, but there is enough to still be enjoyable. I also wished the vocal work was a bit stronger. Overall, a decent track with room for improvement. For the music video, this is my first time watching it. I love the crisp and high quality visuals we get. It is definitely left a strong impression on me. I feel like there is a plotline somewhere between the three or four settings we get, but I don’t think there were even enough details to even start making it comprehensive. The choreography, on the other hand, looks great. The synchronisation makes the whole thing looks super cohesive and shows off T1419 in a new light to me. (7.8/10)


Epitaph -for the future- – TVXQ

YUNHO returned in March with the other half of TVXQ (i.e. Max Changmin) for the release of Epitaph – for the future –, the duo’s latest Japanese release. Epitaph dips into the genre of rock, which has been a growing trend in the music that I have been reviewing. However, Epitaph mixes it up with classical instrumentation such as violins, allowing for the song to enter epic territory with their rock influences. There is also a musical-like flair to the song. I did find the vocal work from both YUNHO and Changmin to be quite restricted and limited, and I wished they really went in hard. It would have worked really well and potentially take Epitaph to a whole new level. Interestingly, synths entered the song for the dance break. It actually works well and doesn’t disrupt the song’s rock/classical dynamic. The music video depicts both members as opposing representatives – heaven and hell. Not exactly sure the reason for this, but it is a good concept. I liked the prominence of the red colour, without the need of oversaturating the video in the colour red. It was clever. I also like the raining pyrotechnics at the end. It looked very cool. The choreography for this release was alright. I also think it could have gone harder and bolder. But it was still a strong routine. It didn’t do too much and over-delivered, which could easily have happened. It felt refined in its own way. (8.5/10)

[International Song Reviews] WOOZI (SEVENTEEN), Eric Nam, Golden Child, Changmin (TVXQ) & NIK

It is time for another round of International Song Reviews. Unfortunately, the songs released by our beloved Korean artists have fallen to the back of the pack, and so they haven’t had much attention over the last few months. But I will eventually catch up and get around to reviewing them. Last post (way back in February) featured MONSTA X, SEVENTEEN, TWICE, WONHO and Jeon Somi. This time around, I am focusing on WOOZI (from SEVENTEEN), Eric Nam, Golden Child, Changmin (from TVXQ) and (new group) NIK.


Ruby – WOOZI (SEVENTEEN)

WOOZI kicked started off the year with his mixtape solo release, Ruby. This track genuinely surprised me because I was under the impression that the track would be a Korean song. But it ended up being a full-English song. I was totally prepared to write a full review for it at the very start of the year, before I realized that it was in English. Anyhow, Ruby starts off as an unsuspecting ballad thanks to the strings that started off the song and gave a classical vibe. But that is just the intro to Ruby, which ended up being a unrelentless head-banging worth rock track. I liked that WOOZI maintains a light vocal tone throughout Ruby, but is also kept on top of the instrumental and isn’t drowned out by the backing piece at anyone point. The way the autotune comes into play throughout Ruby helps adds texture and amps up the energy, confirming Ruby‘s status as a top notch song to kick off a solo career. My only complaint is that Ruby could have been longer. As for the music video, I liked how the colour red was used in a balanced manner. Never was any scene was oversaturated in the bold colour (plus, there were some scenes that didn’t have a lick of the red colour!). But yet, you can tell that red was the central colour to the video. WOOZI also donned some sleek looking suits and got his boogie on during some parts, which felt refreshing and unique compared to other music videos we have seen for rock songs. (9/10)


I Don’t Know You Anymore – Eric Nam

It has been a while since I reviewed Eric Nam, with my last review for Eric being 2020’s Paradise. Since then, Eric Nam has released a handful of solo tracks, such as 2021’s I Don’t Know You Anymore (which was rereleased as a track on his second English studio length album, There and Back Again). I have picked I Don’t Know You Anymore as Eric Nam’s next review on my blog because it was such an an ‘easy on the ears’ track to listen to. It remains within the pop realm and is quite upbeat, but never does it feel too much. This is a style Eric Nam excels at, based on his many hits that I have covered on the blog. I like how his vocals flow through this song, the simplicity of the hooks and melodies, and the prominence of guitars that makes up the instrumental. It does get a bit repetitive, and I wished there was something within the song that dispels the repetitiveness. But still a great listen nonetheless. For the music video, I liked the simplicity of the scenes and shots we got. Eric Nam showed character and let himself loose for this video, which made it is a fun video to watch. Some of the post-production effects felt unnecessary, and it felt like the editor got a little too excited on their part whilst editing the video. (8/10)


A WOO!! – Golden Child

Earlier this year, Golden Child made their debut in Japan with the single A WOO!!. Knowing what Golden Child has put out in Korean, I am disappointed with A WOO!!. While the track dabbles in a synth-pop like dance track, it never hits hard and the instrumental never really catches on, for the most part. The ‘A WOO‘s we get as part of the lyrics and hook falls flat and doesn’t really excite me. Similarly, their vocals and rapping doesn’t really appeal to me. But they do hold their ground well. But it isn’t all bad news for A WOO!!. My favourite part of the song is actually the post-chorus that follows the first and third choruses. It is when the song hit hardest, is the most abrasiveness (and so is the most interesting part of the instrumental) and the intensity is quite memorable. It is just unfortunate that the rest of the song is generic and doesn’t live up to the same level. For the music video, it was a fairly simple setup of choreography shots/closeups. Like the song, the video is pretty plain-looking. But it isn’t the end of the world for me, as the stylists did a good job of making the members look edgy throughout this video. For the choreography, A WOO!! doesn’t really have much going on to stand out. But I note their sharp moves (as always) and the wolf references we get in the choreography. But nothing as strong as their Korean routines. (6.2/10)


Human – Max Changmin (TVXQ)

In addition to making his solo comeback in Korea earlier this year through Devil (title of both title track and mini-album), Max Changmin also made a solo comeback in Japan with the track Human (though at the end of 2021). Human is a three language song, with Korean, Japanese and English lyrics. To me, the song could have been epic. Key words being ‘could have been’. The lacking element to Human is the instrumental and this prevents Human from fully entering that epic territory. Instead, it felt half-baked and didn’t have much going on within it. I personally have no idea how else to even describe it! I wish the instrumentals went with either dramatic orchestra, or intense EDM, or powerful rock to really take Human to the next level. What does give Human some hope and drives the song towards epic possibility is Max Changmin himself. He really packs a punch in Human and doesn’t hold his vocals back. I like how loaded the lyrics felt, and the way Max Changmin delivered his lines definitely emphasised this point. As for the video, I like the premise of what we see. I would go the extra length to say the plotline, but what I got out of the video is based on my imagination. My interpretation of the story is that Changmin makes the ultimate sacrifice at the end to save the younger boy, who I am guessing is himself. I am basing this on the fact that he seems prepared to take that plunge and spends the moments beforehand reminiscing about the ocean through his hands. Also we don’t see the young boy in the sandstorm until after Changmin take the plunge. (8.5/10)


ANOTOKIE – NIK

NIK is a new group whom I have not reviewed before on this blog. They are Japanese-Korean male group consisting of 11 members, some of which are former and current members of KPOP groups, that made their debut in 2021. For more information about NIK, check out their profile on Kprofiles. ANOTOKIE is a Japanese single released by the group in December 2021, but it didn’t get my attention until early this year. For me, it is the warmth of the chorus and comforting nature of the melodies that really got me into this simple song. There is also a hopeful atmosphere to the song that I was also drawn to. This is partly thanks to the pleasant pop instrumental, which paired well with the straight forward vocals in the chorus. Elsewhere, I heard solid vocal and rapping potential (Though the heavily autotuned rapping in the second verse could have been omitted). I am not entirely sure what the music video was meant to show, given how the ending some of the members seem to be happy that they are together. Throughout the video, some of the members were reflective, frustrated or sad. I guess they are encompassing the emotions that they sing about in ANOTOKIE, which is all about wanting that extra chance to make things right with their partner (but knowing that chance has passed). But the ending doesn’t make much sense. Also, their outfits look like they shot this between schedules. The all white outfits don’t look natural in the urban setting. Maybe some refinement and clearer direction could have helped the video. (7.8/10)

[International Song Reviews] Ten (NCT), Jackson Wang & Internet Money, Ten & YangYang (WayV), Yuqi ((G)I-DLE) & 2PM

It has been a while since I focused on the International releases of KPOP, so I will spend the rest of today looking into these releases. If you want to read my review from the last time I covered International Songs from KPOP artists (TWICE, ATEEZ, SHINee, Jackson Wang and Rocket Punch), you can click here for that review. In this particular, I will be covering Ten’s SM Station release, Jackson Wang’s collaboration with Internet Money, WayV’s subunit release, Yuqi’s solo debut and 2PM’s grand return to the Japanese music market.


Paint Me Naked – Ten (NCT)

Early August saw Ten release the all-English single Paint Me Naked. It is a super energetic and expressive solo track that seems to take on a mixture of pop and punk. Personally, I thought the more pop-centric moments (i.e. verses and bridge) were a bit dry, but the punk side comes through via the chorus and definitely kicks the song up a notch. I liked how the song progress, with the final chorus giving us a satisfying blast of energy that helps peaks the song in a very strong manner. This vocals were consistently good throughout Paint Me Naked, showcasing his potential for the industry. The music video was okay. It channeled some of the energy from the song, but not entirely. It also wasn’t memorable and didn’t give you much reason to return to. The performance that came along with this release was a lot better and did a much better job of channeling the energy that we got from the song. Ten sang live on his performances, so unfortunately this hindered the energy he could have put into the performance. But this didn’t mean that the performance didn’t come off as fun or had a satisfying kick to it. (7.4/10)


Drive Me Home – Jackson Wang & Internet Money

Jackson Wang has consistently pushed out new songs this year and has featured in three of the six ISRs posted by me this year (not including this one, which will be his the fourth appearance this year)! Back in July (I know, a long time ago), Jackson released the English single Drive Me Home with Internet Money (a music producer). This isn’t Jackson’s most impressive song of the year, but it definitely one of his most heartfelt and emotional releases yet. Once again, his husky and raspy vocals are on full display. I really like how he used his vocals in this song to deliver that emotional side, especially during the choruses. I liked the consistency of the instrumental. It bubbles away in the background. It isn’t special (actually more typical than anything else), but it added necessary drive and substance to the song to make it more engaging and Jackson more expressive with his vocals. The music video was an interesting story. It began with the future, with Jackson being a successful applicant in a job. I noticed his workplace felt sterile and typical. It is like whatever happened to him lead to this outcome. From then on, we see the events of his life happen in reverse. Jackson is drunk, thrown out of the club after smashing it up, all the while crying his way through the club. Then we see him in rags on the road, stopping and slowing traffic and looks quite injured. The ending showed the unfortunate events that occurred, which explained everything that happened prior in the video. Jackson had fallen in love with the girl in the picture frame. So in love that he is distracted by her while driving, causing him to crash and accidently kill his lover. It is a heartbreaking story that was creatively and uniquely told in this video, and matches the emotional side of the song. (7.8/10)


Low Low – Ten & YangYang (WayV)

After releasing and promoting Paint Me Naked, Ten returned soon after with YangYang for the release of Low Low, another all English song. Low Low is a pleasant track, with smooth melodies and a somewhat fun and upbeat dance instrumental that carries hip-hop influences. I quite liked how Ten and YangYang sounded in this song, but I wished they were more striking with their vocals. I think this could have taken the song to a whole new level and not by limited by the ‘pleasant’ descriptor. For the vocals to be more striking, the instrumental would have needed a bit of a revamp as well to support any attempt for bolding, in my opinion. I did notice the producers seem to add a bit of inclination/build towards the final chorus by adding a bit of electronic synths into the the bridge for a dance break. And I would have liked it, had the final chorus continued that momentum. For the music video, I watched it once and didn’t even bother returning to it again since its release. It was also a pleasant video, but not memorable whatsoever. Like Ten’s earlier song, Low Low faired a lot better with the choreography. It isn’t anything grand, but it was a fun choreography overall, especially that brief dance break/battle we had between the pair. (6.8/10)


Bonnie & Clyde – Yuqi ((G)I-DLE)

The oldest release on this list is Bonnie & Clyde, one of the solo debut singles from Yuqi, who hails from the female group (G)I-DLE. It was released way back in May of this year. Bonnie and Clyde is a fantastic song. I really liked the uniqueness of the instrumental here, combining the likes of trance and rock. It is of a low register and it is bounces forward continuously, which kept the song moving towards its end. It pairs with Yuqi’s vocals extremely well, who also took on a much lower tone for this release. Altogether, the elements of this song really gets me reaching for the replay button. How it took me this long to actually review it is a concern that I need to reflect on! For the music video, Yuqi goes on the run after finding some diamonds. But first. she takes the diamonds to a very risky game of chess and wins back her diamonds which she had bet with. Then the police comes and she makes a run for it. We also see another version of Yuqi. I am not too sure what the relation here, but my wild mind says she has a split personality. One side is the risk taker, while the other side of her is more proper. But both are aware what happens when the other personality takes hold. (9.2/10)


With Me Again – 2PM

I end this ISR with With Me Again, the most recent track on this list.. It also doubles as 2PM’s grand return to the Japanese industry, which they had spent a lot of time in before the group had to enlist in the military. With Me Again encapsulates all the mature and sexy vibes that they are known for into one track. It comes off as stylish, classy and trendy. I liked the vocals throughout and I quite enjoyed the higher note that the main hook is in. I also liked that subtle tango tinge to the song’s instrumentation and the funky touch from when Taecyeon raps. I wished the rest of the verses were more memorable, as I don’t remember them as much as that main hook (which is quite striking over the classiness of the instrumentation). The music video was fine to watch. I really want to say ‘Nothing was memorable’ with this music video (as for the most part, this was the case). But unfortunately, one member’s scenes just stuck out for all the wrong reasons. I am not too sure how Chansung’s bull riding scene fits in with the entire concept and thought it looked ridiculous. I would gladly like to press the erase button on that and hopefully never want to think of it ever again. Thankfully, no bulls appeared in the performance version of With Me Again. Instead, the group reverts back to that stylish and classy manner that I had already mentioned. (7.5/10)

[International Song Review] TWICE, ATEEZ, SHINee, Jackson Wang, Rocket Punch

It has been a bit of a break since the last International Song Review post. So today, I will return with five additional reviews for the non-Korean music released more recently around the world by some of our favourite Korean artists. On this post’s lineup, we have TWICE, ATEEZ, SHINee and Rocket Punch with their latest Japanese releases, and Jackson Wang (one seventh of GOT7) with his not-so-recent new English single. So without further ado, here are the reviews!

Perfect World – TWICE

For those who follow my blog, you may recognize that this isn’t the first time that TWICE’s Perfect World is being featured on it. For a number of weeks, Perfect World has been my pick for the Non-Korean KPOP release of the week corner of my Weekly KPOP Charts posts since its music video was released at the end of June 2021. What really draws my attention to Perfect World is the Latin influence that is featured in the song. While I do find the Latin trend to be overused in KPOP, I found its use in this song is be pretty dynamic and refreshing. I attribute this to the combinational use of rock and brass in the song. I also like the theatrical nature of the ‘Get out, Get lost‘ section of the chorus, which adds depth and punch to the song. it also helps that particular sequence was super catchy and I cannot get it out of my head. Perfect World itself also shows off an additional mature side of the group that is a lot darker and fiercer that usual. For the music video, I really liked the two sides of styling in this music video. One shows off an alluring side of the group, with the members donning sophisticated and stylish outfits that distracts the males in the population, causing havoc around them. The other takes on that fiercer look, almost militaristic. I liked the concept, but pretty much thought the video went a bit crazy (in terms of plotline) when the car crashed into the theatre. I did like how the stage came crashing down behind them. Just thought the idea of audience going crazy a bit over the top. For the choreography, I really liked where they were going with it. I liked how they showed off their mature side in this performance, with the ‘Get Out. Get Lost‘ sequence being my favourite. I also think the Latin influenced instrumental break was another great moment, though I wished there was more of that Latin influence in the choreography. (8.5/10)


Dreamers – ATEEZ

ATEEZ released their first original Japanese single, titled Dreamers, at the end of July. It also doubles up as one of the ending themes for the recently rebooted Digimon series (now that is one throwback to my childhood). Dreamers is probably ATEEZ’s most melodic release to date, opting for a tropical pop vibe that definitely reminds you of Summer. If you had expected something intense like their Korean title tracks, then prepare to be disappointed. That being said, I am all for spotlighting unexplored territory for groups. And Dreamers does just that, showcasing a more delicate and light side of the group. The song focuses more on melodies, allowing the vocal line of the group to flourish. The ‘Oo La La La’ part is such a catchy hook. However, the rappers are given equal opportunities to bring some of their inherent intensity to the song through their rap sequences. I am glad they did, as they kept the song going for me and gave us brief breaks from the melody. Otherwise, I fear that Dreamers would have been overly repetitive and evolved to be a boring song just simply by reaching the end of the song, if not multiple listens to the song. As for the music video, it was a pretty simple one with the members outside in the forest and along the beach. It was pleasant and Summery, matching the tone of their new song. I also liked how breezy the video was, highlighting the refreshing side of the song as well. (8/10)


SUPERSTAR – SHINee

SHINee’s return to their group’s music career isn’t complete without the return to the Japanese market, which they have been active in since 2011. Earlier this year, the group returned with Don’t Call Me and Atlantis in Korea. And before Taemin enlisted into the military, the group returned with their first ever Japanese mini-album which shares the same name as the title track. SUPERSTAR, while is another pleasant track, it also rather forgettable for the most part. However, that doesn’t mean that SHINee didn’t do a good job. Their vocals and rapping were all pretty good and showed solid effort. The funky instrumentation was a good element, which helped give the song that aforementioned pleasant vibe. I also liked incorporation of brass and when the members sang together. I feel that SUPERSTAR could have been better with stronger hooks and melodies. But overall, still a decent song. For the music video, it begins with the members at a press conference and in front of the cameras. But the rest of the video shows the more homey life of the group. Not too bad of a concept. I did like the cool transition in the video into the SuperStar Revolution arcade game. The best aspect of this release for me is the choreography. It is simple but definitely works extremely well with the pleasant feel of the song. I also liked the chemistry they brought to the performance, interacting with one another and keeping the choreography light and carefree, rather than a strict and precise routine. It made everything enjoyable and definitely showcases their bond after 13 years. (7.6/10)


LMLY – Jackson Wang

I feel that Jackson Wang is a recurring artist on this segment, as he continually pumping out songs in English and Chinese (and I already I put him down for the next post as well for a more recent release). But I am not complaining and I am sure that IGOT7 and AGHASEs are enjoying the continuous release of songs from Jackson. LMLY (Leave Me Loving You) was a single released way back in March (sorry for the delay with this review). It was a surprising listen. After songs like 100 Ways, Pretty Please and his more recent ventures into balladry, I didn’t expect Jackson to return with a synth-pop song (though I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest). But guess what? I have been loving it! I really like the light nature of the instrumentation in the song and the retro touch is has. It contrasts really nicely with Jackson’s husky vocals which are on full display throughout the song. I also like how you can hear that tinge of heartbreak behind his voice, fitting for the lyrics and the concept of the video. To me, LMLY and the rest of Jackson’s discography that I have reviewed so far has shown me that Jackson is capable of anything. Excited to hear what he releases next and what direction he will go with in his upcoming Korean release that he has been talking about. For the video, I just love the control that Jackson has over what he releases, ever since he left JYP Entertainment. He continues bringing in that 90s Hong Kong movie style and atmosphere. For LMLY, he is a dishwasher who falls in love with a customer. Throughout the video, we see him make moves towards the customer, but it all turns out that it is in his head and not real life. The bummer twist is that she goes off to marry another guy (who looks like he didn’t want to be in a relationship with her, but I guess that might just be Jackson’s imagination as well), leaving Jackson heartbroken and sad by the time the video wraps up. (9.4/10)


Bubble Up! – Rocket Punch

This is Rocket Punch’s first time on this segment, thanks to the release of Bubble Up!, which is the group’s Japanese debut single. I was a bit reluctant to put the group up for review in this segment, given that their releases (with the exception of Ring Ring) have been misses or long forgotten for me. But I am always willing to give groups another chance and I am glad that I did for Bubble Up!. It may not be the best song out there and it isn’t a song that I would usually listen to at all. But Bubble Up! definitely has its merits. First and foremost, it is enjoyable and pleasant. It is another cutesy song, fitting neatly into the group’s discography thus far. But it isn’t over to the top sweet or cutesy, which I appreciate. Secondly, I liked how dynamic the instrumentation was. The various effects and synths all came together nicely to create a cohesive piece. With the exception of the slow down in the first verse, I am practically fine with the song. That slow down felt a bit random and was unnecessary. I am glad the second verse didn’t have anything similar. Thirdly, the vocals were quite consistency, and did a good job of making the song catchy and enjoyable. The build to the high note was commendable. I thought the rapping was good, but there wasn’t any substantial part though. Overall, a bubbly and appreciable release (quite a change from the usual criticism I give the group). For the music video, I thought the bright and pastel colours were well used. Definitely fitting that cutesy profile of both group and song. I do question the plummeting of plastic balls and earthquakes throughout the video though. Not what I think of when considering what bubbles are. For the choreography, I thought it was fine and matching with the song. (7.3/10)

[International Song Review] TXT, MONSTA X, Kun & Xiaojun (WayV), CN BLUE, BTS

Back again with the International Song Review. I think I did flag that I might do a weekend of these a few weeks back, and I have enough releases to write two of the same post. For those who don’t know, this segment on the blog is where I cover songs released by Korean artists that are in other languages other than Korean. These songs are predominately Mandarin, Japanese and English. For this particular post, we will be checking recent international songs from TXT, MONSTA X, Kun & Xiaojun (from WayV), CN BLUE and BTS.


Magic – TXT

For those who visit my blog, you probably have seen Magic on my Weekly KPOP Charts, featured as the non-Korean KPOP Release of the Week corner of the segment for two or three weeks now. And it is obviously a song which I have really been dying to review for a while now. Magic is TXT’s first full-English track, featured on the group’s latest mini-album, The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE. There is so much to enjoy in this track. The upbeat, groovy and funky energy we get in the instrumentation, the energy that comes off said instrumentation, the catchy and repetitive hooks that we get. All of these are reasons why I cannot stay away from the track. The chorus is an exceptional peak for this song, encapsulating all of the above into sequences that are literally keyed into my mind. I also like how the members deliver the chorus in a falsetto matter. I also like the addictive chanty ‘everybody clap your hands‘ lines that follows the second and final choruses. For the music video, I liked the futuristic concept and story that was being told. TXT are humans, sent from the white spaceship to rescue their fellow humans who were held captive by the robots. TXT ended up getting caught and information was being extracted from their while they were in captive. But being clever (and I think they were of a high status), the members escaped captivity and spread their message or ‘magic’ throughout the robot population (i.e. the robots went from robotic mannerisms to becoming very freeing, dancing along to the music). In the end, the members ‘freed’ the robotic population and were zapped back to their spaceship. Aside from the plot line, I liked the white sets (looked sterile, which is fitting for the robotic theme for some reason). But I also liked the use of the colour of blue, which really popped out. Choreography-wise, TXT really shows off their stamina with a routine that just keeps on going. I really like the ‘Oh, Oh, Oh‘ part in the choruses and how only one of them moves and then everyone joins in. It is a simple move, but it looks really cool. (10/10)


Flavors of Love – MONSTA X

Flavors of Love is the title of both MONSTA X’s most recent title track in Japan and the title of their 3rd Japanese studio album, released in May 2021. If you are looking for that intensity that MONSTA X, then this isn’t the right song for you (I recommend WANTED, which is also on the same album). Flavors of Love is more of a casual song, consisting of a mid-tempo pop acoustic guitar instrumentation and a light-hearted tone. If you are an avid MONSTA X fan (or Monbebe), you will realize that this is very foreign territory for the group. But it is a nice change of sound for the group, whose songs tend to be harsh and intense (as mentioned previously). The members vocals also reflect this change. I do find their voices to be more pure in this release, with less processing and autotune applied to it their voices as usual. They also sound much sweeter than usual. The rappers (Joohoney and I.M) also tweak their sequences to be softer and warmer. The song has a decent melody and hooks, making it a nice addition. I do prefer their harsher sounds, however, though this would be a nice b-side. The music video is cheerful and shows the members chilling and enjoying some free time as their leisurely record the song. Nothing really that interesting in the video, other than the fact that the video reflects well with the song. As far as I know, there isn’t a choreography for this comeback. There is a performance version, but they sit on chairs and happily deliver Flavors of Love to the audience. As a result, this wasn’t reflected in the final rating. (8/10)


Back To You – Kun & Xiaojun (WayV)

Next up is Back To You, a ballad performed by Kun and Xiaojun from WayV (which is a NCT subunit, for those who are wondering why I am reviewing a Chinese group). It is an extremely nice ballad, instrumented with classical instrumentation typical of the ballad genre. There is a bit of deep brass (tuba, I think?), which is different from other ballads which are usually piano and strings oriented. I really liked how the instrumental built upon itself. This is always a good sign, as it means the song is developing as it goes and the ballad isn’t just a ‘straight line’. But that is one half of the song. The other half is Kun and Xiaojun, whom brings beautiful vocals to Back To You. They helped make Back To You into a captivating piece. It followed the same development as the instrumental, with their vocals building as the song progressed. Kun and Xiaojun also do a good job of giving the group a slightly different spotlight. I am more used to WayV’s dance tracks and I wasn’t known that the group had vocalists had capable vocalists who could handle stunning songs like this. It definitely makes me more aware of WayV’s skillset. The music video was good, but not as stunning as I hoped. We see the pair hang out in the forest and along the shoreline. A lot of the video has been edited to be slow, which made sense. I liked the views of the setting they gave us (particuarly that night time shot in the forest) and the pair looks good. I feel the video could have included more breathtaking shots of the scenery, as this would have provided a slightly different dynamic but still keep true to the ballad style. (8.6/10)


Zoom – CN BLUE

CN BLUE makes their first Japanese release since 2017’s Shake. This is their first work since the release of their most recent Korean comeback, Then, Now and Forever. Zoom is the group’s first upbeat track in a while, which is very refreshing and more captivating that their ballad comeback in November 2020. That instantly says a lot already. I like the brightness that the song has and the lighthearted energy that it emits. Though I do think it is the least captivating track out of the bunch I am reviewing today. I do yearn for something more meaty from the band, though I guess I have wait some more for that. I do like Yonghwa’s vocals in this song. I miss his voice and am happy that I am hearing his vocals once again. I am also glad that Minhyuk and Jungshin also leant a hand in the vocal department, providing backing vocals for the chorus’ hooks and Jungshin rapping that sequence in the second verse. I wish there was more of this, especially in their Korean releases, as CN BLUE is not just a one-man band. Though sometimes, it feels that way with just Yonghwa singing. For the music video, we see the members alone and this is rather frustrating for them. They all get invited to something, but we don’t see the resolution of the frustration. I wished we got to see that, so that the video had some sense of closure. I did feel the lighting in this video was a bit much and wished it was toned down a bit. It made the video look a bit glary and took away the effect of the colours. (7.3/10)


Permission To Dance – BTS

The release everyone is talking about. I liked the message and energy they are spreading with this song. But out of their Western releases thus far, I feel Permission To Dance is their weakest. I really liked both Dynamite and Butter as they had that heftiness that helped make them catchy and addictive. Permission To Dance is nothing more than a lighthearted piece and pretty much side-track material. They could have been more intense in some parts, but I felt the song had too many ‘soft edges’. There are aspects of the song I did like, however. I liked how the instrumental didn’t rely on much synths. Rather, a hearty selection of ‘classical’ instruments were used to form the backing of the song. I find this to be different and gives off a unique appeal. It also enables the presence of various percussion effects in the song , which added a nice textural flair. The vocal processing is something that I think could have gone out the door, once again. It feels so heavy and icky. Knowing BTS’ skills, they don’t need it whatsoever. So I wonder why the producers feel it is necessary to process their vocals in such a heavy manner. There were some decent hooks, though they don’t have that same level of appeal as Dynamite or Butter‘s had. Though I do hear they added a bit of the Dynamite hook to the song (the ‘Da na na na‘). I liked how the music video had inserts of ordinary people ripping off their masks and dancing along to the music. It reflects well with the message of being free and able to do your own thing. I also liked how the music video isn’t in a ‘set’. It isn’t as fake as their previous music videos, which is a good thing. Choreography-wise, I liked how BTS brought that lighthearted feel to the routine. It looks relatively simple and it looks like the members have a bit of fun in the performance as well. I also like the inclusive nature of the choreography, as they incorporated internal sign language into the choreography. Not exactly the first time it happened, but definitely something that should happen more often! (7.7/10)

[International Song Reviews] SEVENTEEN, TWICE, CIX & BTS

It is time to look at another five songs from outside of Korea by some of our favourite Korean artists. Last time (way back in February), we looked at songs from Jackson Wang & JJ Lin, The Boyz, AB6IX & Why Don’t We, Jun.K and WAYV. Today, we will be having a look at SEVENTEEN, TWICE and CIX’s latest Japanese releases. Alongside those three songs, we will also be looking at BTS’s Japanese single Film Out and their highly anticipated Butter release, which officially dropped on Friday. A lot of get through, so let’s get going!


Not Alone – SEVENTEEN

The other day, I was reading comments for SEVENTEEN’s latest Japanese release, Not Alone, that said something along the lines of “SEVENTEEN’s Japanese releases are quite aesthetic sounding”. This is a statement that I agree for the most part and is quite evident through the release of Not Alone. The song has this atmospheric style instrumental that was very calming and soothing to listen to. To aid this, SEVENTEEN strays aways from harsh synths, piercing effects, heavy beats or vibrant colours in the song. Instead, SEVENTEEN opts for a graceful sounding instrumentation that floats about. There are still synths in this song (enabling the song to still include soft yet delicate sounding dance breaks following each chorus), but they give Not Alone a melodic push and hence that aesthetic vibe that I quoted from above. This allows the members to showcase their vocals in a more touching and delicate manner, which is slightly different to the usual style in which we hear from the members. Even the rappers get into this mindset with softer deliveries. We favourite part is Hoshi’s lines in the bridge. They stick out for me and sound so smooth. There is also this inspirational and uplifting tone to the song that comes through via the members. Overall, a really nice and touching song form the members. The music video for Not Alone is quite fitting for the past year, in which we all spent seeing our family and friends through laptop, computer or phone screens. We see the members do the exact same at the start of the video. They were alone and then joined one another to celebrate DK’s birthday. The second half of the video see the members regroup to hang out and have some fun. While this isn’t a reality yet for some of us, the hopeful tone of the song really gives us hope that is the future that we will be returning to soon. Fitting to the song and MV suggested, the choreography for this comeback is a lot softer and delicate. It is actually nice to see something different from SEVENTEEN that isn’t so energetic and upbeat as their choreographies usually are. The lifts they incorporated into the performance added a nice touch that emphasised this. (9.4/10)


Kura Kura – TWICE

While TWICE is gearing up for Korean promotions next month, the very popular female group made their Japanese comeback last month with Kura Kura. Kura Kura starts off with epic percussion in the background, which gives the pop song a unique and memorable colour, and really promises great things to come. Soon, the song reverts to a more typical pop setup. It was nice and pleasantly upbeat, but it was not as amazing as the epic percussion that started the song off had promised. And this disappointed me slightly. I wished the melodies and hooks in this ‘between’ part were more memorable and impressive enough to continue that initial impression. The epic percussion does make a return two more times in the song (i.e. before the bridge and at the end of the song to close it off). I did like the vocals work, which again can be describe as pleasant and sweet. I did like how they didn’t change their vocals as much when it came to the Kura Kura‘s bolder and more memorable moments, finding a balance between their pleasant and sweet profile to the instrumental’s more grand nature. For the music video, I am not entirely sure what they are trying to depict. There seems to be a mixture of really happy scenes in the video (i.e. when the nine members catch up) and a mixture of loneliness and sadness (i.e. their solo scenes which seem to show this). But I might be reading to it wrong, as the lyrics of the song don’t really give off that impression. But it was still a visually appealing video to watch. I really like the emphasis on the colour blue in the choreography scenes, which gave a nice artistic and calming appeal to the video. I really liked the choreography for this comeback. I enjoyed the imagery of the flower at the start, which was fitting for the music video which had a heavy emphasis on floral decorations. I also enjoyed the choreography for the chorus, which had a definite tinge of matureness to it, despite all the members having really big smiles – which both felt fitting for the image they are now pushing for themselves and the song’s upbeatness. (7.2/10)


All For You – CIX

Like their earlier Korean release this year, CIX’s latest Japanese release also takes a step away from EDM and their serious tone that they had adopted when they first started out. All For You is another pleasant listen that looks to replicate the easy on the ears nature that Cinema succeeded in achieving. And while CIX has done just that, I can’t help but have to point out that other parts of the song is lacking. Aside from the funky instrumental which I think is the song’s main highlight, All For You lacks memorability. This includes hooks, melodies, vocals and rapping. All of these contribute to the song’s undeniabley pleasant and easy going nature, but none hits it hard. I am not seeking any hard drops or intensity that is reminiscent of their earlier works, but rather I wanted to hear elements that had a stronger backing or substance to them. For the music video, All For You was colourful, fun and enjoyable. I liked the carefree nature the members brought to the music video, which was fitting for the overall style. It also shows a different side of the members. I did find the opening few seconds a bit cringy, but it definitely wasn’t the cringiest thing out there in the Korean/Japanese music scene. For the choreography, I liked how they fully embraced the groovy and funky notes of the song in their routine. As a result, the entire performance feels ‘just right’. That being said, All For You‘s choreography still contains their signature sharpness to it. In addition to that, there is also this light atmosphere to the routine, which also works well with the music. (7.4/10)


Film Out – BTS

The first of the BTS releases in this post is Film Out, a single off BTS’s upcoming Japanese compliation album. The single itself was released back at the start of April. so apologies for the long delay. Film Out taps BTS back into the ballad genre, with a (once again) pleasant ballad that is a bit generic for my liking. Film Out has this rich and sentimental tone to it. It would also side nice as a side track that I would tune into if I had a craving for the album. But in comparison to their more well known ballads (such as Butterfly), Film Out falls short of hitting the mark (for me, at least). I think it is mainly because the vocal processing that their voices were put through and hence they don’t sound as pure like in those past ballads had sounded. That being said, Film Out did have its moments. I really liked the beat when the rappers were brought into play. I also liked it when the vocalists were brought in to back each other up. The subtle rock and (more obvious) orchestral influences were also quite nice and added some additional heft alongside the vocals to prevent the song from falling into more into that generic ballad trap that Stay Gold fell into. You always feel like you are watching a cinematic release when it comes to BTS’ music videos and Film Out is no exception. While I have no clue on what is going on in this video (my best guess is that the video is about the members’ reflecting upon past memories that once brought them joy, but now brings them pain – represented by the explosion), I must acknowledge that the music video for Film Out brings out the emotional factor to a whole new level. On top of that, the cinematography was exceptional. (7.8/10)


Butter – BTS

BTS’ most recent release, Butter, dropped on Friday. And since it is the biggest release in the global music industry from this week, and with its strong ties to the KPOP industry, I had to take some time out of my own personal break to have a listen and review it for you all. First impression, I liked it. I wasn’t keen on how it started off at first, but once the groovy and funky instrumentation kicks into gear (plus the pre-chorus melodies presented itself), Butter instantly threw all of its catchy and dynamic energy right at me. Before I knew it, I was nodding along to the music! The chorus is quite addictive, thanks to the melodies in the section. I really like the breakdown, which really concentrated the song’s grooviness into a simple yet ear-catching synth. Vocally, I think Butter really shows off what we know BTS is capable of. The vocalists all gave us solid vocals (and I am super happy that Jin recieved more lines in this song, compared to his limited lines in Dynamite. Hopefully, the remixes that follow this release keeps that trend up!), while the rappers packed a punch when they came into play towards the end of the song. I think Butter is a logical step up/forward from Dynamite and definitely has me reaching for my mouse to press replay! For the music video, I really liked how classy it looked. At the start, the sleekness that BTS’ visuals brought to the video with the black and white filter. When the colour comes into play, all of this fun energy infused into the video, making this a fantastic watch. In addition to the classiness brought to us via their suits, I really liked the colourful and casual trackies they wore in subsequent parts of the video. I also liked how each member that their moment to shine with their dance moves on the elevator and how they brought their individual colours to the video throughout all their solo shots. But visually, the best part of the music video has to be that epic stage they perform on with the lights coming through from underneath. For the choreography, I really liked how BTS kept the energy and momentum going with their moves. I like how fitting the routine is with the title, as the chorus actually looks like smooth (i.e. like butter). We won’t be able to see a full choreography until the Billboard Music Awards tomorrow, but it definitely looks like BTS’s live performance will be amazing without a doubt. (9.5/10)

[International Song Reviews] Chungha, Baekhyun, Dream Catcher, Jung Daehyun, TWICE

BTS’ Dynamite was voted by you to be the Best International Song By a Korean Artist. All songs from this review moving forward, including the songs in this review, will be eligble for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Check them out and remember to vote for your favourite at the end of the year. In the meanwhile, check out the winners for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards.

Welcome to the first International Song Review post of 2021. KPOP artists aren’t just focused on the Korean pop music industry. They have embarked on multiple other music video industries include the Japanese, Chinese and Western music industries. As they are released by Korean artists, I feel the obligation to review them like any other song released by the artists in Korea. But as they are not from the primary industry (i.e. KPOP), I decided to lump the reviews into one post. This allows me to focus on the primary review of Korean songs, but also allow me to ‘keep up’ with the releases outside of Korea. In this post, I will be focusing on songs released in the Western and Japanese music industries by Korean artists in late November 2020 and January 2021. I would recommend you check them all out. They include Chungha, Baekhyun, Dream Catcher, Jung Daehyun and TWICE.


Dream of You – Chungha (with R3HAB)

Dream of You is actually a Korean song released all in English. To give you some context, Dream of You is a pre-release single for her now-released first studio album that dropped earlier in the week. We all first heard the song at the end of November 2020 and it became part of the buildup towards Chungha’s grand return to the domestic market. What really stands out with Dream of You is the funky thumping instrumentation (which felt quite classy and dynamic all at the same time). The electronic nature of the instrumentation just makes it groovier. It is quite simple in hindsight, but it feels quite loaded when you consider the song as a whole. Chungha shows off her vocal flair throughout the song, delivering the song’s mature lyrics in a very complimenting manner. If Dream of You needed to prove its potential for Chungha to flourish in the Western market, then it did its job well. The music video released in conjunction back in November 2020 is actually a performance video. It showcases Chungha and her male dancers performing the song with an uber sensual choreography. There is a modern femme fatale vibe that comes from it, which I really enjoyed. It also felt like an extension of her Stay Tonight music video that was released earlier in 2020. I really the scenes where she performance in a suit and a hat. It just made the performance more impactful and interesting to watch. This release as a whole proves to me that Chungha is a performer that any industry should be afraid of. (10/10)


Get You Alone – Baekhyun (EXO)

It seems like the ongoing funky trend is spreading to other industries as well. Get You Alone is Baekhyun’s Japanese solo debut title track and it was first unveiled on the 3rd of January 2021 at his solo concert. The song has this casual upbeat vibe which makes it quite a pleasant listen. It isn’t really the most exciting song out there. But it manages to show off Baekhyun’s vocals quite nicely, emphasising the smoothness of his vocals and its husky profile. His ad-libs throughout Get You Alone and especially during the bridge is definitely the song’s icing on the cake. The music video shows a nerdy version of Baekhyun wanting to ask out someone he is interested in. But that person cruelly rejects him. He turns to the help of a more confident and experienced version of Baekhyun (the talk show host), who tells him what to do to be successful in the dating department (i.e. setting the mood, teaching him about manners and to make sure he smells nice – which resulted in a classy wardrobe change). I wished we got to see whether the changes and work put in paid off. It would have completed the story in a fulfilling manner. I liked the sets of the video. There isn’t anything special about them, but they managed to emphasis the funky tones of the song. The choreography shown throughout the music video was quite good and paired well with the song. (8/10)


No More – Dream Catcher

We all know Dream Catcher for their infusion of rock influences in their title tracks, regardless of the music industry they are releasing it in. What makes it even better is that Dream Catcher almost always puts a fresh spin on it. They found a niche in the KPOP industry and have managed to continued marketing towards that niche without tiring out listeners. But I don’t think we have ever heard anything with high intensity as No More. Released at the end of November 2020, No More literally charges at you with its relentless energy. It quite thrilling and powerful, all rolled into three minute long song. I really like how Dami’s rap cuts through the intensity by having the rock instrumentation stripped away into an almost trap-electronic piece. It does feel fitting for the song as a whole and brings some mid-song relief. The music video for No More doesn’t actually the members. I am assuming the anime characters that we do see are anime version of the members, though I haven’t found any information on who they are. The music video also doubles up as a lyrics video, showing the lyrics of the song of the song. I also like the transitions of the video. They do feel erratic, but most importantly, they matching the intensity of the song. As the video doesn’t feature the members and the anime character are simply images, there is not associated choreography with this comeback. (8.6/10)


Amazing – Jung Daehyun

Jung Daehyun, a member of the now inactive B.A.P, made his solo comeback in Korea with his first Japanese single back in November 2020. The new song is titled Amazing and it was officially released at the end of November 2020. But the music video was released for a month prior to the official song release. It is definitely nice to hear his voice once again, especially since this is the first song I have heard from him since the release of Aight at the end of 2019. His voice does flourish in the song and the melodies are quite enjoyable. Amazing also shines in the instrumental department. Sure, there isn’t anything special about it. But like the vocals and melodies, it was quite enjoyable and acted as a decent backdrop for the solo act’s vocals. It was noticeably dominated by repetitive taps on the keyboard and there was also some brass thrown into the song to give the chorus some additional colour. The music video was quite simple at the start, but it stilled managed to look classy thanks to the outfits worn by Jung Daehyun and the dancers. The video also showcased the visuals of Jung Daehyun quite well. About half way through the video, we see Jung Daehyun and the dancers perform under rain and in a water pool. While this is something we now see often in KPOP, it made the video more visually interesting. I personally felt the red light could have been omitted, but that is the only critical comment I can make for this video. The choreography looks nice. I wished more people would view the video to watch Jung Daehyun in action and listen to the song, as this comeback is very underrated. (8.2/10)


Better – TWICE

The final song in this post is TWICE’s Better. It was released back in mid-November. If you are looking for a fulfilling pop dose from this list, Better is the song for you. While some of the other songs above are within the pop realm, none of them match Better‘s colourful energy. It is the type of song that will make you smile and get up to dance to. The song’s best part has to be the descending melody that features as the song’s pre-chorus. It is definitely quite memorable and it makes the chorus just pop out so much more. The chorus comes out as a close second, with Jihyo’s ‘Better‘ really sticking in my mind. The rapping by Chaeyoung and Dahyun has a really nice kick to it, elevating Better to a much better level. While I don’t mention the rest of the members, they all sound really amazing throughout this new song. When it comes to the music video for Better, I applaud the stylist of the video who chose their outfits. The colours were quite dull and wouldn’t necessarily be considered fashionable at first glance. But the outfit colours worked in really close harmony to the rest of the music video, making the members stand out in the video. There is still a burst of other colours throughout the video using dominance, which compliments the pop vibes of the song. I also like the casualness of the video, portrayed through the member’s outfits and the uncomplicated nature of the sets. For the choreography, I like the bouncy energy they bring forth. The bridge looks complicated, but aesthetic. (9/10)

[International Song Review] Stray Kids, IZ*ONE, FT Island, N.Flying & Super Junior KRY

A week ago, I wrote a review for five international songs by Korean artists. In that post, I revealed that had another five reviews coming your way. And as promised, here is the next edition of the International Song Review. TTo be honest, the last post is probably more fitting for the term ‘international’, as this post focuses more the Japanese music industry as that is where KPOP has an obvious stronghold and market power. And this is something expected as many more artists have made their debut in the Japanese music industry compared to the Chinese or Western music industry. Moving away from that little ‘analysis’, this post contains brief reviews for five Japanese tracks from Stray Kids, IZ*ONE, FT Island, N.Flying (though this is more of a cover) and Super Junior KRY.


All In – Stray Kids

2020 has been one busy year for Stray Kids. Their 2020 resume consist of a mixtape release, one Japanese single, a Korean OST and back-to-back Korean comebacks. And if you deemed any of the releases for the group as ‘the best’ according to your personal taste, then you probably have not heard All In yet. It builds itself around an epic brass piece that reminds me of primetime sporting events and prestigious award shows. In this song, it makes the atmosphere feel adventurous, theatrical and playful at the same time. Per Stray Kids’ forte, the song is very rap centric, adding to the powerful nature of the song. There are small vocal moments throughout the song, but it is the rappers (and rap sequences) that really steal my attention in this song. Adding more to that playful vibe I mentioned earlier, All In features a hilarious ‘WHAT?‘ from Jisung just before each chorus, which are preceded with the female spoken line ‘There is no search results for STOP‘, which I thought makes perfect sense with the continuous energy that comes from the song.

All In‘s music video takes a page out of their God’s Menu and Back Door music videos by incorporating a similar concept. I wouldn’t be surprised if the music videos are linked. There are background figures standing around the members doing nothing, whilst the same suited older men appear at the table. If you watch the music video carefully, you will see the members interact with the background figures, which I think is a first for the members and this concept. The video also matches the epic vibes of the song with that very bold burning billboard. For the choreography, the dance is equally as powerful, energy driven and epic as the song. For my favourite bit, it has to be the chorus routine, which I am digging very much.

Overall Rating – 10/10


Beware – IZ*ONE

IZ*ONE’s schedule in both Korea and Japan were put on hold due to the controversy that embroiled the Produce series and left an equivalent group disbanded well ahead of their contract ending. But IZ*ONE has managed to bounce back, with all members returning for two Korean comebacks so far this year. And now, IZ*ONE makes their long awaited comeback in Japan with Beware. Aside from their debut single in Japan, all of their Japanese singles have been terrible (harsh, but the honest truth) or forgettable (which is mildly better). Beware doesn’t have the ability to overtake their I Want To Say I Love You debut single. And if I was being honest, I foresee the song falling into the ‘forgotten’ category over time. Beware is delivered to us in a high pitch cutesy manner. Personally, I wished they grounded their vocals in some form and hadn’t gone head first into the cutesy sound. Their melody did help make the song appealing to a degree. It was flat for the most part, though it had its moments and had a nice ring to it. The strongest aspect has to be the song’s electronic synth-based instrumental. It did overpower some parts and did feel somewhat typical, but overall it brought great energy to the song.

With a cutesy sound comes a colourful music video. It is what makes the most sense. For Beware, the colourful video is saturated with pink and some yellow. I like the concept, where IZ*ONE is in in their own world in that suitcase. It isn’t new, but IZ*ONE’s take on it is pretty refreshing. For the performance, I like the energy that comes from the dance. It is fitting for the song and their youthful charms. I really like Chaewon and Minju’s little part during the bridge.

Overall Rating – 6.7/10


Sunrise Yellow – FT Island

It has been a while since we have heard from FT Island, who have reached that point of their careers where they are currently enlisting in the military. But that doesn’t stop them from releasing a single. FT Island current lineup only consist of 3 members (Hongki, Jaejin and Minhwan), with Jonghoon leaving the group/retiring from the industry when he was implicated in a scandal, while Seunghyun left the group to continue his acting career. Sunrise Yellow is the most recent FT Island and it features Seunghyun as his final FT Island release. It is a feel good song dedicated to their fans, with the Sunrise Yellow title referring to their Sunshine Yellow fanclub colour. When it comes to my reviews, I tend to say I love the energy that comes from a particular song. And it is true. But it feels completely different when real instruments are at play and it releases that energetic charge. Sunrise Yellow, hence, blows me away when we enter the chorus territory, with the fast paced energy and unrelenting momentum coming at you. Hongki’s vocals are quite nice, but I love the unique texture that Jaejin gives the verses in this parts. There is a punch to it, which I enjoyed. I wished Seunghyun and Minhwan had a part in this song, which would have increased the impact factor for fans and made Sunrise Yellow extra special.

The song is released as part of their 10 year anniversary for Japanese promotions and there is no other way to make the video special by including their fans in it. The music video simply consists of a mixture of close ups that I assume they shot prior to their concert (so that they don’t ruin the live performance with a cameraperson walking in front of them to film the closeups) and live footage of them performing on stage in front of their fans. Seunghyun is also featured alongside the other three members, making the whole video a little more special for fans. Overall, a fitting video for the group and their fans.

Overall Rating – 9/10


Amnesia – N.Flying

Released back in July of this year. N.Flying made their Japanese comeback with Amnesia. It is also the first Japanese comeback to feature Seo Dongsung, who was officially inducted as a member of the group ahead of their Oh Really Korean comeback. I loved that the group returned to something within the rock genre. It is something that I am yearning for in the KPOP industry and I am hoping that N.Flying returns in the future with something similar to this song in Korea, as Amnesia tells me that they can handle the intensity of the rock genre. In the meanwhile, Amnesia fulfils my rock craving. Once again, Amnesia has really epic energy coming from it. The appeal of Amnesia is slightly different to FT Island’s release (reviewed above) because the energy take shape as more of a head-banging form than ‘feel good’. It was intense and it definitely ‘hits hard’ as some might say nowadays (look at me using young people speak). Vocally, both Seunghyub and Hwesung are powerful vocalists and Amnesia proves that they can handle the genre flawlessly. The slowdown in the bridge comes in at the right time, providing a moment of relief if you think the song is overwhelming. I didn’t, but I still found it fitting for the song.

The music video is made of black and white closeups of the members being emotional. But the good stuff is when the group are performing their instruments in front of that very large screen/projection. The visuals we see are amazing, due to their large size and how they come into play at the right moments. The explosions of coloured dusts and flowers were all timed really well to match the explosion of energy we get in the song. It was something simple, yet they magnified it in a way that made the video so much more monumental.

Overall Rating – 9.6/10


Traveler – Super Junior KRY

It is time this review post goes on a slightly different path. So far, we have two dance tracks and two band tracks. It is time to step into the ballad domain, with Super Junior’s experts – Super Junior KRY. This follows their Korean comeback earlier this year and is their first Japanese release in over five years. However, don’t mistaken the term ballad in this review for something emotional or a track to ball your eyes out. Traveler is a more of a pop-ballad with an upbeat instrumental background. I was caught off guard with this direction, as I had expected something of that emotional route from the trio. I am not complaining, as it does mean that I am not ending this review post on a sad note! I really liked that acoustic guitar solo during the bridge of the song, though it could have easily been missed. It was a subtle change and wasn’t something in the foreground. Aside from the change in sound, Traveler captivates the audience with the trio’s vocals. Their singing is super powerful over the pop instrumentation and their harmonies during the chorus really make the song so much better. Their ad-libs towards the end was extra icing on top. Definitely a vocally charged song in its own right.

Traveler‘s music video was quite simple. The members sat in a chair on a platform singing their lines into a microphone. The camera panned around them. In the surrounding vicinity, we saw coloured balls, three floating light rings and a few pillars to add some colour, lighting and something to fill up the space around them, otherwise the video would have been too plain. Smart move there.

Overall Rating – 10/10

[International Song Review] SEVENTEEN, SNUPER, Taeyeon, NU’EST, Jackson

For those who may not know or remember, Saturdays used to be when I dedicated a review to a Japanese release made by a Korean artist. This year, I made the move to expand to more music releases that aren’t Japanese based and now the segment includes music releases by Korean artists in other languages such as Chinese and English. Since we find ourselves on another Saturday, and now that found enough releases to post two International Song Review posts (this one and another one next week!), it is time to revisit the segment. The releases in this post are more of the recent releases including SEVENTEEN, SNUPER, Taeyeon, NU’EST and Jackson Wang.


24H – SEVENTEEN

Two days after I published my last ISR (i.e. the 24th August 2020), SEVENTEEN dropped their latest original Japanese single, 24H. To me, 24H impresses with its refined take on their Korean releases, opting for maturity in the way they deliver 24H, without necessarily using an ‘edgy’ and dark concept to relay this maturity. The start of the song, which features S.Coups’ vocals, opens as if it was a Western pop song. I particularly like this as its allows the song to kickstart with something different than what we are used to. As the song progresses with acoustic guitars at the forefront of the background, the song gets heavier with its beat. The chorus feels rugged, with the guitar used here moving the song forward with a chugging momentum. The bridge amps up the chorus with what seems to be the song version of going ‘all out’, before returning the song to how it started before launching us into the chorus once again. Over its structure, the more vocal-centric side of the group appears, allowing that refinement to be taken to the next level. 24H‘s melodies and hooks are quite strong as well, giving myself an excuse to return to the song.

24H‘s music video continues the aesthetics from their Fallin’ Flower music video, albeit more darker. However, it doesn’t look like the members opted for a dark concept, just more serious. They do end up showing more of a masculine energy through this video, something I would love to see them show off in their Korean releases. Not exactly sure what it going on in the video plotwise, especially with S.Coups’ scene at the end with that metallic floating wire attacking him. I haven’t seen a theory for this video just yet, though I can tell it is going to be interesting. The choreography also carries some of the aesthetics, especially the sequence in which they form circle around Hoshi and The8. Overall, a strong Japanese comeback for SEVENTEEN.

Overall Rating – 8.8/10


Oxygen – SNUPER

It has been a while since we have heard from SNUPER. Domestically, the group has not released anything since 2018. On the Japanese front, the group was more active in Japan with releases in 2019 and now Oxygen in 2020. Oxygen is a song that is driven by a deep house club beat. We don’t get that deep house club beat until the chorus hit. At first glance, it was thrilling drop that felt wholesome and quite pure. But the more I listened to the song, the more I felt that the chorus could have been a little more ‘spicier’, if you understand what I mean. What we get in Oxygen leans slightly to the more generic and unimaginative side. The verses that surround Oxygen were pretty lackluster and failed to really bring anything more to the song. Even the rap sequences opts for a trap-based background, which is pretty generic move.

With the lack of promotions, it seems like SNUPER no longer has a substantial budget for their music videos. While the visuals were quite crisp and high definition, the uninspiring sets and location really dulled the music video. The dark lighting was probably done so to make the group feel more mysterious. However, it was a poor choice as we couldn’t really see the members in the poor lighting. For the moves, I thought they mismatched the upbeatness of the song, especially when it came to the chorus. The moves felt sluggish and could have been snappier.

Overall Rating – 5.7/10


#GIRLSPKOUT – Taeyeon

Taeyeon made a surprise drop earlier this month with the release of the music video, #GirlsSpkOut, the title track from her upcoming Japanese mini-album release of the same name. It is pretty disappointing that SM Entertainment haven’t done much promotions for this MV release. It literally dropped out of nowhere. That aside, when I first heard the song, I thought it was going to be a 2.0 version of Taeyeon’s Spark due to its use of acoustic guitar. However, #GirlsSpkOut ended it being quite different. It sounds a lot funkier and it had more of a substantial pop feel to it. And as you listen to more of it, the song builds into something decent. If you were to judge the song by listening to only the first chorus, you are listening to it all wrong. It isn’t an active representation of the latter choruses, which both have more of a kick to them. Unfortunately, this extra energy never actually amounts to a peak, leaving #GirlsSpkOut as a somewhat flawed release. #GirlsSpkOut also features Japanese rapper, Chanmina, alongside Taeyeon’s nice (and well-known) vocals. This is something new, Korean artists have never really collaborated with someone from the Japanese music industry as far as I remember for a release. Chanmina’s featuring in #GirlsSpkOut was needed to give more energy to the song and help build the song. But her delivery was something I was not a fan of.

Based on the title alone, anyone can tell that the song is about female empowerment. And the music video tells you just that. Taeyeon is approached by a guy who doesn’t seem to understand the answer ‘no’. He is involved in an accident (a falling light sign – what are the chances?) just moments after Taeyeon leaves him. He is taken to the hospital in a full body cast. Taeyeon and her female friends band together to teach him a lesson. Chanmina also features in the video, which was also a nice treat. The choreography scenes were okay. They just didn’t show anything impressive or amazing-looking to make me go wow. Her visual game and outfits though looked awesome!

Overall Rating – 7/10


Drive – NU’EST

It has been a while since we last heard a Japanese release from NU’EST. Their last was 2015’s Nanananamida, the title track of their first Japanese studio album, Bridge The World. 5 years on, the group dropped Drive earlier this month, alongside their second Japanese studio album of the same name. Drive is a little different to your standard Japanese release, opting to step away from a choreography-required song. Drive focuses more on the singing and rapping, upfronting a pretty pleasant instrumentation made up of nice rhythmic guitars and an upbeat pop melody. I like this change up in style for the Japanese music industry, which separate the group’s release from the pack for uniqueness. The singing pulls you in and captivates you. It also compliments the instrumentation, adding to Drive‘s pleasantness and softness. As a result, I would gladly put this song to listen to the NU’EST vocalists. I did feel that the rapping was a little mismatched for the song. It could have potentially been more fitting if it was a tad smoother. But overall, a really good display of style and refinement from the members of NU’EST.

If I were to breakdown the music video, it is simply a music video full of a bunch of closeups. ‘There is a storyline embedded into those closeups, with JR approaching each member and pulling them to the circle of chairs we see in the video. I am not sure what this is supposed to mean and whether it represents something in the lyrics or not (I couldn’t tell). My best guess is that it something about coming together after being separated for so long. As mentioned previously, there is no choreography for this comeback. Instead, the group scenes were shots of the members singing into microphones, which was a nice touch that compliments the softness of the song. I liked the golden aura that comes from these scenes.

Overall Rating – 8/10


Pretty Please – Jackson Wang & Galantis

The final song on this list today is Jackson Wang and Galantis’ collaboration, titled Pretty Please. For those who are not familiar with Galantis, they bring the funky and groovy electronic-based instrumental that forms the backbone of Pretty Please to life. It is a really awesome backing for the song and feels super addictive. Jackson brings the vocals to the song. I really like his deep and raspy vocals in this song. He adds some unique colour to the song and the texture is super appealing over the electronic instrumentation. Music-wise, big ticks from me. My only complaint is the song goes by so quickly. Two and a half minutes is nothing. And especially with such a fun, groovy and upbeat instrumentation, it literally blurs by in a matter of seconds. I wished there was more to it, as every time I listen to Pretty Please, I am caught off guard by the unexpecting ending that comes out of nowhere.

The end of the music video gives a bit of context to the idea behind the video. Jackson has always wanted to shoot something along the lines of ’90s Hong Kong movie’ concept. And I agree with him that it is a pretty cool setting to shoot in. The video starts off with Jackson and his friends at a Chinese restaurant, watching a documentary about wolves, emphasising the idea of loyalty of friends and to partners. Enters the actress, the same one who played his love interest in 100 Ways. He notices that she left a pendant of a wolf and starts following her to get her attention down the street in a cool montage. And he doesn’t stop, presenting us with the first of the two loyalties. The second of the two loyalties is shown in the lead up to the dance choreography, where his friends (shown as wolves for a brief moment) come running from the restaurant to join him in the choreography shot at the end of the video. The video cuts to dark and it is revealed at he is still in the restaurant with his friends and he is holding the pendant. His eyes turns white, revealing him to be a wolf and is probably going to go searching for his female counterpart later on. The choreography in this video looks really cool and matches with the funky vibes of the song.

Overall Rating – 9.3/10


[International Song Review] BTS, Stray Kids, TWICE, Dream Catcher, Lee Jun Young (U-KISS)

It has been a while since I stuck my head into the world of Japanese releases made by Korean artists. So today, I will be reviewing Japanese releases from BTS, Stray Kids, TWICE, Dream Catcher and Lee Jun Young (from UKISS). Some of these are recent and some of these dates back to the start of the year. Early this year, I reverted to a bulk review post for International releases by Korean artists as they go global. If you would like to see the two bulk review posts that I have released so far, you can do so by clicking here and here. If you know of any other international releases (that have a music video), please comment them below so that I am aware of them!


Stay Gold – BTS

Out of all the releases on this list that I have chosen to review today, Stay Gold has to be the most generic. While the song does shine a golden light onto their vocals and rapping, the pop ballad just doesn’t have much to hold my attention. The lyrics of Stay Gold directs the song down the inspirational path, but the overall atmosphere of the pop ballad did not have that same feeling. And no amount of good vocals can compensate for that. The instrumental felt very mostly linear and the titular hook was just repeated too much throughout the chorus. Obviously, this is intentional to get the hook stuck in your mind. But by the time we get to the pre-chorus, it just feels too overdone and dried out. Lights (last year’s Japanese release) is quite similar in terms of its ballad direction, but there was a soothing feeling and attractive instrumental. The music video seems to show that no matter what dark place you in, there will always be light somewhere in it. At the end of the video when V touches the tree trunk, the golden lights that come from the tree and into the dark hallways may symbolises that is BTS is the guiding light for their fans (which I am sure is the truth for most fans). It was a nice video, with a good meaning. (7.2/10)


Top – Stray Kids

Top is Stray Kid’s first original Japanese single and since its release, we have seen a Korean and English version. It is also used as a theme song for the Japanese anime, Tower of God. When I listen to Top, I get this really cool epic vibe to the song which leaves a very strong impression on me. It starts off with some dramatic violins before adopting a rough and heavy synth base for the chorus. And it is this combination that really helps makes Top become one of their most powerful releases to date. The rappers benefit with this rough style of music, with both their rough textured delivery and angst shining throughout the song. The vocal moments were meh, in my opinion. But the slowdown we get to give way to the vocalists do help make the drop more epic. For the music video, I really like their spaceship premise. It is fitting with the epic vibes of the song. Standlone, it is still pretty cool setting. It is a song all about gettng to the top, no matter what. We see the members struggle as the road to get to the top becomes difficult, but they always perservere. I do wonder what Seungmin and I.N were meant to represent as they walk into the light. Are they the ones that gave up? Not too sure. As for the choreography, powerful and epic, just like the song. (9/10)


Fanfare – Twice

TWICE’s recent Japanese release is Fanfare. The song’s instrumental just keeps coming for you and it might be overwhelming for some. Even I had to debate whether I should say the instrumental assaulted us with its noise or was just very overpowering but bearable. For the time being, I am leaning towards the latter, as it doesn’t seem to much as everyone else is saying. But if you caught me on a bad day, I might be going with the first option as my description of Fanfare. I really like its energy and powerful upbeat nature, which is all highly suitable for the Summer season. The marching band adds a fun and robust feel to the song. It might be overpowering, but the members bring a bright tone to the song to help level it out. The song’s hooks were catchy and I would gladly add this to my playlist if I wanted to infuse some energy into my day. For the music video, it looks like a bunch of ill-fitting closeup shots and a stage-like set up for their choreography scenes, where the members are dressed in marching band gear. I assume those closeup shots are meant to give off a happy and joyful impression to match the lyrics of the song. Though, I do question Jihyo’s scene, which is a world full of laundry. No one ever enjoys laundry, it is such a chore. For the choreography, I thought it was pretty good. Not their most impressive routine, but still fun and bubbly. (7.4/10)


Endless Night – Dream Catcher

Endless Night is one of the older releases in this post, dating back to March of this year. While Dream Catcher has been long associated with bringing the J-POP rock sound to K-POP, Endless Night feels like it brings a Western rock influence to the Japanese industry, which was rather unexpected. It is also a lot moodier than any of their other title tracks. But while these are different directions, Dream Catcher makes it work. I do just wish their vocals and rapping had a little more oomph to them, which would help make the song more appealing. Aside from the chorus, everything else was rather forgettable and dry. For the music video, I really liked the use of colours. It just makes this otherwise boring music video pop, which definitely helps with the video’s appeal. Wait, but why do I find the video boring? Well, the video takes on that typical closeup and choreography formula that I have grown to dislike. I do admit the closeups seem to try to be aesthetic, but they don’t just hit the mark like other music videos. The choreography looks pretty good and works pretty well with the song. The chorus has to be the best part of the routine for me. (7.4/10)


Come Alive – Lee Jun Young (U-KISS)

Lee Jun Young is probably more known as an actor, rather than UKISS member. At the end of 2019, he reminded fans that he is a singer with the release of his first single album and Curious About U. Right after his domestic promotions, Lee Jun Young also released his first mini-album in Japan, featuring a number of solo singles from the second half of 2019. It also featured Come Alive, which was formally released at the start of 2020. It is a fun hip-hop dance track, that is both bass and brass-heavy. It is quite addictive that I am always nodding or tapping along to the beat when it appears on my playlist. The song is pretty dynamic when it comes to the verses. His rapping is quite captivating and alluring. I really like how the song punctuates some of the lines with the added emphasis of the ‘You‘ and ‘Do‘ (and associated Japanese words). His vocals are also quite good. There is a good beat to this section to help give it a club feel. At first, I didn’t like how dragged out the ‘Come Alive‘ felt. But after multiple listens, it has definitely grown on me significantly. The music video has this urban feel to it, which was nice. It just didn’t have anything more to it worth talking about, unfortunately. For the choreography, it fits in with the urban hip-hop feel that both the song and music video had. I do like how clean and smooth it felt during some parts of the choreography. Other than that, it is just another case of not his best, but still good. (7.5/10)

[International Song Review] MONSTA X, SEVENTEEN, JACKSON (GOT7), CIX

It is time for another review of non-Korean songs, a usual review theme for Saturdays prior to the start of 2020. For those who don’t know, I have decided to cover more than just Japanese songs by Korean artists and I do this through this segment, International Song Reviews. This posts focus will be on MONSTA X’s latest Japanese and Western releases, Seventeen and CIX’s Japanese comebacks and Jackson’s recent Western comeback track. I have stuck to five songs per post as I think this is an reasonable number. Let me know what you think in the comments section!


Wish On The Same Sky – MONSTA X

We start off the review post with something a little easy on the ears. MONSTA X recently returned to the Japan with this pop ballad, Wish On The Same Sky. The song itself is one that won’t benefit when we dissect the song under a microscope. With just one listen, anyone knows that Wish On The Same Sky is to be taken in as a whole. The instrumental builds into something quite grand and extravagant. The loud thumping during the bridge is direct proof of this, giving the pop sound an uplifting boost. This gives the song a very alluring appeal. The vocal work is definitely the main focus of the song and it is also built upon to match the music, with Kihyun definitely shining in this song. The song also features Jooheon, who sings and raps throughout the song, despite being on hiatus for health recovery at the time of filming this music video and release. The only thing I dislike with the song is the shouting by I.M in the background, echoing what the Hyungwon and Minhyuk were singing during the pre-chorus. Moving to the music video, I found the breezy feel of the song was well reflected in the video. I liked how the music video didn’t take on any trends to give it that modern feel. What we got in the visual department was nice, simple and blissful. I also like the pale colour tone they opted for, as well. (8.6/10)


You Can’t Hold My Heart – MONSTA X

The second MONSTA X song, You Can’t Hold My Heart, is a pop-rock for the Western music industry and features the return of Jooheon, who was absent from their above Japanese release. I was lowkey expecting the song to drop or go into a dance overdrive, as that is is the usual style with MONSTA X in Korea (at least). But I also like how they aren’t staying with just that sound in their international releases. You Can’t Hold My Heart brings the spotlight over the group’s vocals talents, where the singing about the fact that love doesn’t stay around forever. Even I.M and Jooheon, the fierce rappers, sing over a nice band-like instrumental. I like the subdued nature of the song, soothing and peaceful in a way. The music video is quite simple as it is simple shot in a red box. The video gets a little complicated once you see members sitting on top of each other, walking upside down and even emitting coloured clouds that match colour of thier outfits. The simplicity and complexity comes together in a way that doesn’t over complicate the song and makes it worthwhile to watch. There is no choreography for this comeback single, as the group simply sings the song with microphone stands in a recent performance. (8.7/10)


Fallin’ Flower – SEVENTEEN

It seems that SEVENTEEN’s latest Japanese single, Fallin’ Flower, follows that mature and aesthetic sound that their Korean releases have opted for in the past year. Initial impressions of the song is that it has a very beautiful, refined sound and there this also this glowing vibe. The song has a nice melody that places emphasis on the vocal capabilities of the group, which puts a different limelight on the group. The falsettos we get for the chorus puts the song on a whole different level. The rapping was well mixed into the song, as well. The song’s ‘Fallin’‘ hook was also very flowy and catchy. The music video is extremely aesthetically pleasing, complimenting the aesthetics in the song. There is a fair amount of imagery in this video – most of which is a bit above me to understand, so I would love to hear your theories on it. But a very beautiful video nonetheless. For the choreography, I like their flower formation that they started off with. I also like the performance still remains quite powerful despite the song bring a lot more subdued than usual. It looks great as a result and definitely a showing of Seventeen’s talents. (8.9/10)


100 Ways – Jackson (GOT7)

GOT7 may just have returned to Korea with their first comeback of the year. But Jackson (and other members – I shall get around to Mark’s release in a later post) returned in March as a solo artist with 100 Ways. By the far the most catchiest song in this review post, Jackson really delves into the hooks and beats that no doubt with thrive in the Western industry (and has already proven to as the song had topped iTunes charts in multiple countries). I also found the song very easy to get into. On top of that, the music was very robust and there seemed to be a slight funky vibe. Both ended up making me groove along to the beat of the song. The thumping beat drives the song forward, while the synths form a concoction that is very addictive. Jackson’s raspy vocals shine through this song as well, adding to that dynamic appeal. The music video was equally as good as the song. The set design of that forest was awesome. I also really liked how Jackson and the female character rose from the grave and how Jackson went down with her at the end. The costume that Jackson donned also looked cool, but that armour sequence really looked looked epic. The other part of the music video has to be the cleverly choreographed hand motions. That was on a whole different level and very epic. Definitely as song, music video and choreography that you must check out. (10/10)


Revival – CIX

CIX’s main songs, while they have only released a few title tracks so far, have been of the intense EDM dance nature. But what CIX does differently is that is conforms to the trend of incorporating an epic drop into the song. Revival starts off slow, as a medium tempo ballad. But the instrumental they used opted for electronic synths, which foreshadowed the epic drop. But I liked how the vocals keep on that slow ballad-like feel. Then the chorus comes out of nowhere. And well, if you haven’t noticed so far, it is pretty epic. Not in the sense that is just throws every single synth known to mankind to make a ‘loud’ drop. In fact, it is more of a tropical based drop and is done so in a manner that sounds so refreshing. The rest of the song follows something of the same line, but they managed to do something slightly different every time. For example, the second verse added more of a beat to it, while the bridge took everything away. The second chorus added more synths to the tropical drop, while the final chorus incorporates violins to make it even more epic. The music video is filled with a lot of different closeups that look cool and interesting. I wonder the screen full of fire in the desert, the ball of many balls and the many other objects and effects in the video mean anything. The rest of the music video is made up of choreography shows, which shows CIX performing with string. There is a fair amount of tangling happening this music video. But that is just one of the complexity of the performance. Their individual moves also look quite cool and definitely features that intensity that CIX has associated with them. (8.9/10)

[International Song Review] EXID, ONEUS, TWICE, MONSTA X, CIX

Welcome to the very first International Song Review post. This segment will replace the Japanese song review that I publish sporadically on Saturdays. The segment will also allow me to cover more of those Japanese releases, which was an issue I previously had (I used to post once a week and this would mean some releases won’t be reviewed until many weeks after – which is the case for all of the songs to be reviewed today). On top of that, I wanted to keep up with the KPOP advancement into the Chinese and Western music industries, a niche that I was not reviewing as I could not dedicate more time. By putting these all together, it saves time and it allows me to cover more songs. The artists I will be focusing on today include EXID, ONEUS, TWICE, MONSTA X and CIX.


Bad Girl For You – EXID

Bad Girl For You is a very different song from any of the Korean releases. The group’s Korean releases have this level of vibrancy that I feel is noticeable absent from this track. Instead, the song has this mature and sensual feel to it that I think is very suitable for EXID. I liked how the instrumental is very toned down and almost quite eerie. The chorus has a heavier beat to it, which offsets the song from becoming plain and boring. Their oval work complimented the style, which was definitely a nice fit to the song. I do find the use of that laser shooting synth a little random and doesn’t fit well with the rest of the song. The song may not seem much at first, but after many listens, you will be coming back for even more. For the music video, I liked the use of the 5 colours (green, blue, yellow, red and purple) in the background and how each colour is usually concentrated to a particular area of the set. It helps give the video a minimalist feel. The choreography is also quite nice but not really memorable.


808 – ONEUS

I think 808 is a smashing song. The sound of the instrumental was posed in a manner that really caught my attention. I love the strings that feature in the instrumental, along with the intense style they had adopted from their Korean releases. There is an epic vibe to the song, but they do it in a manner that masks it. You think you are getting another typical song, but you will be blown away by the song’s sound. The song is vibrant and definitely knows how to bundle a bunch of energy in a fashionable sense. The vocal work was good and the rapping gave the song a little more edge. The music video looks really artistic. I am not sure if these are music video sets or whether the group filmed their music video in some sort of modern art museum. It looked very cool. The performance looked good with cool moves. Just not memorable like EXID’s performance.


Fake & True – TWICE

I was blown away with Breakthrough when it was first release for its mature and edgy style, something that was a little foreign for the very pop-based and cutesy TWICE. And it seems like Fake & True continues the momentum and extends TWICE’s reach into this new territory. I thought the brass in the chorus was very nice and the rest of the instrumental was very energetic and vibrant in a way that suits the group. I also liked the synths that they employed throughout the song, especially for the dance break bridge. I did think the chorus was a little one-dimensional as it repeated the title of the song all throughout and felt a little awkward. The vocals were good but the rapping in this track was epic. It was also nice to see Mina as part of this November release, as well. The music video was pretty typical for TWICE but I thought it did a really good job of showing off their visuals. The choreography was also very nice and continued that mature vibe that I really enjoyed as part of their previous Japanese comeback.


My New World – CIX

My New World is CIX’s debut track into the Japanese music industry. It is also an extension of their KPOP works, with the group’s intense sound definitely channeled and presented in this song. I like how eerie and dark the song sounds. The dance style is very well suited for CIX, given that this is their title track style for their comebacks in the KPOP industry so far. I also like the kick of energy that the song gives during the chorus, which contrasts neatly with the shout-y style of vocal works. The rapping that dominates the second verse was also extremely promising and intense. I also like the piano that featured very quietly over the top of the dance instrumental. I think the music video shows the members on a new world. Other than that, I am not exactly sure if the video is showing anything else worth mentioning. Their dance sets looked really cool, with the floating stairs and the moving lights. The choreography is very intense and reconfirms that when it comes to the dance side of the industry, CIX might be a group to look out for.


Middle Of The Night – MONSTA X

The final song on today’s reviewing agenda is Middle Of The Night and it is also the very first Western song that I am reviewing on my blog (I am not including English versions that I have done reviews for in the past). Middle Of The Night is different from the rest song on the list as it is also an R&B track. A song that I can finally understand as well. Hahaha… I can really say much else but to tell you to check out this song below as everything felt flawless. It is one of those songs where the main complaint was that it was over so soon! The vocal work was superb from very member. I really love that Jooheon finally got to showcase his vocals that he previously showed off during a performance of Versace On The Floor. The music video was shot with every scene is interlinked with the previous and next scenes. I think that this was a really good way to show off the smoothness of the track. There is no choreography for this song, so this finishes the review.