I think it is time for another International Song Reviews post, with the last one being from 10 weeks back and covering Japanese releases from THE BOYZ, BoA and TWICE. This time around, I will be covering Japanese releases from Stray Kids, WEi and OMEGA X. I would like to stress that these songs are from last year (not this year – I will get to them eventually), as I am still catching up on the many releases that I just didn’t cover last year due to time constraints. I am hoping for another post in a couple of weeks, so I am hoping I can get around to the 2023 release soon. But for now, here are my thoughts on Your Eyes (by Stray Kids), Maldives (by WEi) and Stand Up! (by OMEGA X).
Your Eyes – Stray Kids
Release Date: 1 June 2022
Album: Circus (2nd Japanese mini-album)
Your Eyes features a different sound for Stray Kids, who are usually known for their electronic dance tracks (see their lead single Circus from the same mini-album that features Your Eyes). It is a soft ballad that expresses their feelings about being in love and the anxiousness and happiness in their relationships. It shows Stray Kids in a more delicate manner, as one expects when it comes to ballads. The track is also purely vocally driven, and this allows the members to bring a sweeter colour and approach to their tone. The piano driven instrumental was soothing and calming. Altogether, Your Eyes was a dreamy number.
The music video is shot in a first person’s perspective, with the camera capturing the members who act as boyfriends to the person watching the video. I am sure fans have enjoyed this, as it gives them the opportunity of seeing the members up close and in such a loveable light. The video feels personal and works well with the song (in terms of both sound and lyrics). For me, I am not affected by this stuff. It isn’t my cup of tea, but I enjoyed watching the members smile and looked down to earth in this video. For Stray Kids, however, I can imagine this video coming back to haunt them (possibly a few years down the track where they are more matured). We have seen their reaction to the video at release. Just imagine the hilarity that would come about when they are reminded of the video’s existence later on in their careers. Their former labelmates, GOT7, also went through a similar thing with their debut teasers a few years back.
Overall Rating – 7.6/10
Maldives – WEi
Release Date: 11 August 2022
Album: Youth (1st Japanese mini-album)
WEi’s first Japanese single, Maldives, is a upbeat pop track that dabbles into some groovy territory with its instrumentation. The energy was great, and the vocals and rapping altogether was quite pleasant. It elicit feelings of a good time, which is the point behind the track – dreaming of paradise in the Maldives. However, there is a bit of typicalness to the song that held me back from completely liking the song. I felt like the producers could have done more to innovate Maldives into a better track. Maybe have more funky undertones to the song, or create a killer hook to the song to make it more memorable. As it is, Maldives is a fine song and a nice listen. But it quickly disappeared from my mind when it was out of my listening rotations (i.e. Weekly KPOP Charts segment on my blog, and I boil that down to lack of a memorable hook.
The music video is what I had expected. The video shows the members having a good time, spending time at the beach and in each other’s company. I am not sure if the group actually shot the video at the Maldives (I guess not due to the lack of scenery that would indicate a Maldives beach was chosen), but the beach location in which they chose felt appropriate nonetheless. Even the forest scenes we see in the video had a fresh vibe to them, something you would expect in Summer. The setting for the indoor choreography scene was pretty generic (I recognize the background from other videos) and I wished something better was chosen here. The choreography itself was also on the typical side. But I did like the fun and playful undertones present behind some of the moves.
Overall Rating – 7.3/10
Stand Up! – OMEGA X
Release Date: 24 August 2022
Album: Stand Up! (1st Japanese Mini Album)
Prior to the revelation that OMEGA X was being mistreated and abused by their former company (and the subsequent lawsuit ended in their favour), OMEGA X made their Japanese debut with the single Stand Up!. It is another fun dance track with funky and groovy undertones, making it super upbeat and suitable for the Summer season in which it was released in. The melodies and vocals were all very pleasant, as well, making it an enjoyable listen. Like the previous song above, I think Stand Up! lacks that memorable factor. Listening to the song now, I wished the raps in with a little more oomph. The track was pretty neutral overall, and I think some harder rap lines would have helped boost the song up and created a more eventful atmosphere. But what we got was still a great and fun listen.
Just like the music video preceding this review, this video shows the members having fun with one another at the beach. The main difference is that we get a different lead in – one of the members was bored of their original summer, and with the help of VR, he is taken to an alternative summer which was much more fun and exciting. This video also features some more urban locations, such as the skatepark and surfing activities, which do feel a little more summery. As for the choreography, I felt that it was light and flowy, whilst also being upbeat and playful.
Overall Rating – 7.5/10