[Review] NANANA – GOT7

When a full group leaves a company and goes their separate ways whilst also stating that they have not disbanded, it is quite rare for them to return to group promotions. We have seen it occur before, but more often than not, they stay separated. Yesterday, GOT7 moved from solo promotions back to group promotions with their new single titled NANANA and a self-titled mini-album (their 12th mini-album to date). This marks their first release since Encore in 2021, since the group departed from JYP Entertainment, and since each member embarked on their own solo careers. Prior to yesterday’s comeback, GOT7 also regrouped for a two day fan meet, as well.

As a GOT7 fan, I don’t think I can dislike NANANA. It is great to revisit and hear GOT7 as a whole group once again. And whatever song they do comeback with, I am most likely going to be down for it. But that is my bias coming though. Looking at NANANA subjectively, however, I find the song to be quite typical when it comes to the R&B and hip-hop landscape. It is one of those songs that I would describe as ‘pleasant but nothing more’. Subdued also accurately describes the song. There is nothing wrong with this style and direction, but I personally wished NANANA had more of a kick to it. That being said, however, NANANA does have its place in GOT7’s music profile, complementing past side tracks that the members have produced or written by themselves for the group. The light nature of the instrumentation and some of the vocal work gives NANANA that pleasant vibe that I mentioned. There is also a chill vibe coming from the instrumentation, which does help make the song more appealing. For the rest of the vocals, I quite liked the emphasis on huskiness from some of the members like Jinyoung (in the first verse) and JAY B (as a rapper in the second verse). I also like the textures when it came to the choruses, with Jackson starting off the chorus with his extremely hoarse vocals before passing the baton onto Youngjae, whose vocals are a lot smoother. The rapping by Mark and BamBam was quite fine, as well. NANANA‘s main hook followed the choruses. And while it was pretty standard and typical, it actually catches on fine. Overall, NANANA is not a bad song. It is just more tame than what I had expected.

Let me start by saying that it is great to see the members together once again (if I haven’t already made that point clear). Now, onto the video. I quite like the concept for this music video and comeback. Based on interviews for this comeback, the members have express that the concept was about ‘house-building’, where the house-building is about building a new start. It is a neat way to look at where the group is at in their career. It is also quite cool to see abstract sets that look modern and contemporary. I quite like the colours of this video as well, helping make the video appear pleasant and quite easy on the eyes. The members also look great throughout the video.

Unlike their routines in the past, NANANA‘s choreography followed the song direction in that it was pleasant. There wasn’t anything that memorable, but it was a nice chilled performance where the members looked like they enjoy their time on stage after their hiatus as a group.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Album Review] Yellow Punch (4th Mini Album) – Rocket Punch

I have been holding onto this album review for quite some time now, and have finally finished writing it up. So without any further delays, here is my review for Yellow Punch, Rocket Punch’s fourth mini-album. It was released way back in February of this year, and is lead by the title track CHIQUITA. In addition to the title track, Yellow Punch also features four side tracks (included in the final rating for the album) and one instrumental introductory track (not included in the final rating for this album).

This is the first time I am reviewing Rocket Punch in the album review segment of my blog. Their past mini-albums have never really attracted much attention from me. But while vetting Yellow Punch when it was first released, all of the side tracks perked my interest and therefore it got a spot on the agenda for an album review. The same interest remains until today! It is a strong album release and I enjoyed every single song on this album. Maybe Yellow Punch might perk my interest enough to get me to look at their past three mini-albums to see whether they deserve their own album review.

Yellow Punch Album Cover

1. YELLOW PUNCHYellow Punch (the album) starts off with an instrumental track that is a mix of genres. I quite like the flow of this one, easing us in a neat fashion towards the title track (the next track on the album). We get atmospheric keyboards to start off with (and in between each distinct section), before moving onto a pulsing R&B sound and then vibrant electro-retro synths before ending back again with that atmospheric keyboard.

2. CHIQUITA (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for CHIQUITA. (9/10)

3. In My World (주인공)In My World ups the tempo but continues the retro influence from the title track through its electropop disco-esque influence. I quite like the amped up tempo as it makes the song quite thrilling and exciting to listen to. I like how prominent the vocals were, allowing it to standout over the instrumentation (which already felt bold), and also enjoyed the texture of the scratchy vocals following the second chorus. The high notes were also impressive. All of this makes In My World the mini-album’s standout side track. (10/10)

4. Red Balloon (덤덤)Red Balloon is an effortlessly groovy track that is quite catchy. If you have been reading my blog for a long time, you know how much I love a minimalistic track. And Red Balloon definitely hits the brief for one as it doesn’t rely on much instrumentally. Also, the song’s main hook (i.e., the ‘Dun Dun’) was extremely simple, but super effective. I like the inclusion of brass in the bridge, which adds a nice ‘something extra’ to the song, just to keep it fresh and lively. (9/10)

5. Love More (어제, 오늘 내일보다 더)Love More also opts for a simpler direction but dips into a softer pop genre instead. The guitar work in the instrumental was bright and adds a nice funky touch to the song. What I quite enjoyed the Love More the most, however, was the clear and crisp vocals. It was velvety and smooth, which is pretty much my style. (8/10)

6. LOUDER – Usually, I like it when albums ease us out with a softer and more palatable track. It is just a nice way to end an album. LOUDER is neither of those descriptions, opting for loud, intensity and erratic synths. This time around, I don’t mind it. There is a charming appeal to LOUDER that makes it an interesting and intriguing song. I also like how the chorus’ synth hits hard, and this adds a memorable element to the final song on the album. The vocal work was also quite striking, though I did think it could have been cleaner. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Yellow Punch Teaser Image

[Review] Bring It On – ONEUS

Earlier this week, ONEUS also joined the growing list of May comebacks with their seventh mini-album, Trickster, and the title track Bring It On. This is the group’s first comeback since LUNA from November of last year. It also comes after the group embarked on their second U.S. tour, which occurred earlier this year.

Bring It On returns ONEUS to their more powerful and boisterous side that the group has previously done in past singles such as No Diggity and TO BE OR NOT TO BE. I quite like it that Bring It On hits hard in the second half of the choruses and doesn’t hold back. The first run of the second half of the choruses was made more satisfying following what I would describe as a fine first verse and first half of chorus. Leedo’s deep and aggressive rapping style is so fitting for their powerful sound and the vocals that followed were pretty solid. But the instrumental in the verses and first half of the chorus of Bring It On held itself back a bit too much for my liking and felt tamer than what it potentially could have been. I felt that it could have been a bit harder hitting, but still manage to deliver the same satisfying blastful effect once the second half of the chorus came around. Following the first chorus, I was a bit let down with Seoho’s autotuned rap lines. The autotune sequence weakened the structure of Bring It On and felt unnecessary in this already aggressive song. It should have skipped right into Ravn’s solo rap sequence instead, which picked the song back up for me. Bring It On then repeats the pre-chorus of solid vocals and the chorus as it was the first time around. As for the bridge of Bring It On, the producers opted for a touch of smoothness, before amping the song back up with some rock influences (loved it), and then redelivering the second half of the chorus as above twice in a row to close out Bring It On. I did wish Bring It On had some stronger hooks and the melodies were more memorable. But the booming second half of the chorus definitely helps make Bring It On memorable.

The music video did a great job of encapsulating that aggressive and powerful nature of the song, translating it into an edgy and somewhat dark concept. Plot-wise, I have no clue with what is going on, especially with all the games of choice. The trailers before this music video do feature them and appears more thriller-like, tense and suspenseful (highly recommend you watch them), which is totally my jam. I just cannot decipher the plot or the message behind the video. I am also unsure whether the actual music video continues the story or not. But still a cool standalone music video to watch.

The stronger moments within the choreography come naturally during the song’s most intense moments (i.e. the second half of the choruses, the rock sequences in the bridge and the final chorus sequence of Bring It On). The chemistry with the camera and the footwork stands out for me during these parts, and the helps makes the entire performance worthwhile to watch.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.5/10

[Review] Candy Sugar Pop – ASTRO

ASTRO kick started the week yesterday with their third studio-length album, Drive to the Starry Road, which is lead by the single Candy Sugar Pop. This is ASTRO’s first comeback in nine months, following After Midnight and Switch On from last year. Since that last comeback, a lot has happened with the group including the solo debut of MJ (who also enlisted into the military at the start of the month and hence will not be part of promotions of this new release), the debut of the JinJin & Rocky subunit and the return of the Moonbin & Sanha subunit.

Candy Sugar Pop is an upbeat and energetic dance track that dips into pop through a mix of old school funk and disco influences. I like how the song maintains its energy throughout from start to end, never really slowing down. The mixture of synths were bright and surprisingly sweet sounding, which makes perfect sense, given that the song is titled titled Candy Sugar Pop. And this also makes Candy Sugar Pop extremely satisfying to listen to. I did think there was some room for improvement, in that Candy Sugar Pop could have been more dynamic with some extra oomph or bass to take it to the next level. However, that doesn’t mean this song was not dynamic. I felt that the dynamic nature of the song comes through via the rapping, particularly during the pre-choruses. I really like the alternating lines between Rocky and JinJin, just as it cuts the smoothness that the vocals brings to the song. It adds texture and I felt they added punches to the song that helped heightened it. As for the vocals, I really like how the vocalists sound, simply because they complement the song’s instrumentation and adds sweetness to Candy Sugar Pop. However, I do think the hooks and melodies in Candy Sugar Pop could have been more memorable, even though the Candy Sugar Pop repetition is slowly growing on me. The song’s best part comes at the end, where we get a mix of abrasive (but fun) retro synths and tidbits of rapping and vocals that we heard earlier in the song to end off Candy Sugar Pop. It felt just right and incorporated the best bits of the song, in my opinion. Overall, Candy Sugar Pop was fun and a great single to add to ASTRO’s portfolio.

Not exactly sure what the concept for this music video is. But I like the idea of the candy, sugar and pop taking the members to a whole new world that is more colourful, fun and probably also a bit crazy (based on the candy themed Rainbow Road scenes). It make sense, given that the members singing about that but likening the candy, sugar and pop to their lover. I did wish the dance sets were a bit more lively, just because they seemed dull and empty. I wish they had more of that colour, fun and craziness I just mentioned. The members themselves look great, with strong visuals from all members!

Rocky pulling those high notes was definitely impressive. The choreography was good and decent, and encompasses how I described the song (energetic and upbeat). But unfortunately, I didn’t see anything stand out.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

[Review] That That – PSY ft. SUGA (BTS)

It has been 10 years since PSY went viral with his infamous hit, Gangnam Style. Since then, he made a string of comebacks (Gentlemen and Daddy, amongst others) that were quite successful both domestically and internationally, though I would say that his popularity has soften over the last few years. Late last month, PSY made his grand return with That That, a single off his 9th studio album, PSY 9th, and a song that is both produced and features SUGA from BTS. In addition to that, SUGA continues PSY’s tradition of having a famous idol joining his comeback via the music video, joining the ranks of high profile artists such as HyunA, Gain from Brown Eyed Girls, CL and more recently Suzy (who features in the recently released Celeb music video – review for that coming soon).

No matter many times I have listened to That That since its release two weeks ago, it has yet to let up from its fun, playful, silly and childish roots. And I quite like that. Usually, I am not a big fan of silly or childish. But going into a PSY comeback, it is expected and I liked that he didn’t disappoint. Sure, That That is repetitive, and I am quite sure it would have done my head in if it were another song that only had the repetitiveness going for it. But with That That, there is a lot more to the song than repetitive hooks. I quite enjoyed the intensity that the song brings, particularly during the chorus. The pounding beats and the tooting brass in the instrumental made That That feel so lively and punchy. I liked how it doesn’t take a break and is quite relentless. The fun atmosphere that the song has is just infectious and addictive, and the hooks adds to that. PSY gave it his all and is pretty much on par with the instrumental throughout the That That. But the best moment of the song has to be attributed to SUGA, who did not disappoint. When the song was first announced, I wondered where the track would go with SUGA featuring, as it didn’t seem apparent to me how PSY and SUGA would work together. But in That That, SUGA matched PSY’s energy effortlessly and his rapping brought a very dynamic oomph to the song that just makes That That even more enjoyable. When I replay the song, I do it often to relisten to SUGA’s section. Though some of That That‘s hooks, particularly the ‘Do What You Wanna, Say What You Wanna‘ shouty hook do end up distracting me.

As mentioned before, SUGA also appears in the music video. And I am quite happy with this. It definitely made everything a lot more fun and interesting. I liked how SUGA even participated in the choreography and some of the acting scenes. My favourite bit has to be the scenes where PSY (in his Gangnam Style suit) is punching/slapping SUGA and vice versa. It was definitely a fun scene. Their chemistry was great, and I did not feel any sense of awkwardness. Aside from that, I see that PSY is up to his crazy antics throughout the video (loved how he entered the music video – reminds me of when work gives out free food and I enter the room ready to grab the food) and I quite enjoyed the wild western theme. That suspenseful moment when SUGA appears was pretty cool, as well.

The choreography is exactly how I described the song. Fun, playful, silly and intense. It definitely suits the portfolio of choreography from PSY’s past comebacks. I like how the routine encapsulates the energy from the song, and shows it off with flair. I also like how PSY doesn’t hold back on stage, which makes the stages even more fun to watch.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Review] Roller Coaster – Jeong Sewoon

It has been over a year since we have heard from Jeong Sewoon through the second half of his studio album 24 and the title track In The Dark. He has been fairly quiet over the last year, as fans awaited for a new release from the soloist. And as of yesterday, the wait is over, as Jeong Sewoon has returned with his fifth mini-album, Where Is My Garden!, which is lead by the title track Roller Coaster.

First impression of Roller Coaster is that it is an extremely pleasant song. I wish to clarify that ‘pleasant’ is used in a positive manner for this review, which I think is the case with all Jeong Sewoon songs for me. I quite enjoy his more upbeat tracks, which this one definitely is, making it fitting for the Summer season that Korea is fast approaching. However, a more accurate description is that Roller Coaster is breezy and light. Roller Coaster has a nice and enjoyable pop instrumental for the most part (and in some ways felt jazzy) and features some vibrant brass as a standout detail within the instrumental. Talking about the brass, when it comes up in the song, it makes me want to get up and have a bit of a boogie. Nothing too crazy, but it just has that energy and I reckon that is a good thing. I do think the instrumental elsewhere could have been a bit more dynamic, just to give Roller Coaster a bit more excitement, but it is fine as it is. Jeong Sewoon was quite consistently solid throughout the track and hearing his vocals in an upbeat setting brings up some good (and unrelated memories) for me. There were many parts within Roller Coaster that I thoroughly enjoyed when it came to the vocals. The falsetto direction that he goes for in the choruses, the amped up vocals in the second verse, and the pairing of his husky vocals and the backing vocals in the bridge. All of these were great displays of Jeong Sewoon’s skillset. The melodies and hooks were memorable enough, which definitely puts Roller Coaster in a good position.

The music video was a pretty cute one, which fits with Jeong Sewoon’s image. The colour palette is nice, reminding me of pastel colours that I would associate with sitcoms. The video is set in a garage, where Jeong Sewoon hangs out. While Jeong Sewoon is all smiles in this video, I do wish that the video featured a few extra people as background characters, just to give it a bit more substance and make it a little more dynamic. And he looks incredibly lonely. We do see multiple Jeong Sewoon’s playing instruments at one point, but I think that just reinforces my idea of having more people on the screen. Aside from that, I don’t think there is anything memorable about the video. But I think it is still a fair video that works decently with the song.

Again, cute vibes from the performance. But nothing overly cute, which I like. There isn’t anything fancy with the choreography, but it does give off a refreshing vibe and reiterates the idea that I want to have a bit of a boogie (which Jeong Sewoon does deliver). The rolling chair was also a nice touch to the choreography.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Review] Good Boy Gone Bad – TXT

Starting off the week is TX T who returns today with their latest single, Good Boy Gone Bad. The new single is featured on the group’s fifth mini-album, Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child, which also dropped today. Good Boy Gone Bad follows on from a very successful 2021 for TXT, where they released their second studio album, The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE, and its repackaged version (titled The Chaos Chapter: Fight or Escape), which featured the singles 0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You) and LO$ER=LO♡ER respectively.

TXT amps up their rock influences from last year and adopts a much more aggressive and angsty demeanour with Good Boy Gone Bad. And I am all for it. The group sings about how they changed following a breakup, from being a good boy to now a bad boy. And they show that change through a very different take on the genre that propelled them further into the limelight last year. I liked (and also found it slightly funny) how the group reiterated the fact that they had change by constantly repeating the title of the song, just in case we didn’t get the message the first time around. I personally do not mind the repeated ‘Good Boy Gone Bad’, and I don’t mind them shouting that at me. But I would say that some people might find it a bit too repetitive and not like it as much. Anyhow, Good Boy Gone Bad starts off with a hip-hop approach to the verses, before kicking it up a notch with the rock influences for the choruses. To match the aggressive direction of Good Boy Gone Bad, the group approaches their parts with force, powerfully singing throughout and even shouting (as already mentioned) during certain parts of the song. I enjoyed the loud whispery lines that appear once in the chorus. It brought nice texture to the song, especially in an already abrasive environment. I also quite like the pre-choruses, as they have a ‘calm before the storm’ sort of setup, with both instrumental and vocals toning it down considerably. It allows the chorus to be more explosive as a result, which Good Boy Gone Bad undoubtedly benefits from. I am also glad to hear some rapping in this song. It was something I was looking for last year and I felt the intense rap sequence in the bridge of this song really hit the nail on the head. Overall, Good Boy Gone Bad further satisfies that rock extension that I was wanting from last year, through stronger and powerful execution.

The music video takes on a very dark and sinister look, which logically makes sense given the bad boy change that the group undergoes. I really like the sets and locations in this video, from the alleyway to the cemetery to the dance set with big eye in the background. Definitely hits the brief and looks super cool. I also like the camera shot from the hole in the ground in which the members stand around (see my featured image for this post). It was definitely a scene that left a strong impression me. That Yeonjun scene where he lies down after his motorcycle crash and rises back up (from the dead?) uttering the line ‘I like being bad‘ was also a memorable scene. It also helps that his visuals were on point in this video, as so was the rest of the members’. A strong music video, overall.

A few things to point out with the stage performance for this comeback. Firstly, I really liked the aggressive nature (particuarly the start) to the performance. It does fizzle out as it went on, and I attribute that to the copious amount of energy that the members put into the choreography, which would naturally tire them out. But they did a good job of embodying one of the most prominent vibes from the song. Secondly, their stage presence was amazing and really captivated me. And thirdly, their facial expressions, particularly Yeonjun’s, makes this performance worth watch. Overall, definitely another strong routine from the group!

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

[Review] Drive – Miyeon ((G)I-DLE)

Miyeon, one of (G)I-DLE’s main vocalists, made her solo debut last week with the single, Drive, and the mini-album, MY. She is the third member of (G)I-DLE to release solo music, following fellow members Soyeon and Yuqi. Miyeon’s solo debut also comes after (G)I-DLE’s latest comeback, TOMBOY, which dropped in March of this year.

Drive is a breezy pop track that I have taken a liking towards after checking it out for the first time earlier this week. The pop instrumentation takes a relatively straightforward approach, never adopting anything that complicates the song or distracts from Drive‘s main focus (i.e. Miyeon’s vocals, which I will speak more about in a brief moment). And I appreciate that a lot. The song opens up with atmospheric synths and guitar work that brought a refreshing vibe to Drive. When we get to the chorus, there is a hefty beat that kicks Drive up a notch. Similarly, I enjoyed how the synths amped up in intensity and added a lot of colour to the single, particularly that squeaky synth. Now, onto Miyeon’s vocals, which I touched on before. Drive nails at showcasing Miyeon and pushing her into the spotlight. The song’s instrumental adds definition to her vocals, allowing it to become more prominent. But her vocals were best during the bridge, when we were able to hear more of her vocals without much backing to it. I was impressed and thought she sounded heavenly. In terms of memorability, the melodies and hooks were nicely light, though I wished they had more bite to it. Overall, I would say that Drive is a successful solo debut and I am excited to here more from Miyeon’s solo work in the future.

The music video for Drive is a very pretty one. It highlights Miyeon’s visuals extremely well and the outfits we find her in are simple yet stunning to look at. I also like the refreshing nature of the outdoor scenes, which add a great visual element to the video. Unfortunately, however, there isn’t much else in the video from what I can see.

Like the music video, the choreography was a pretty element in this comeback. However, I am on the fence to whether it was necessary. Part of me did feel the routine complimented the upbeat nature neatly. But part of me also feels like the routine didn’t add much value to the comeback as it feels quite standard. I guess the routine was on the standard side to allow Miyeon to perform live, which I do appreciated and enjoyed about the performance.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Album Review] INVU (3rd Studio Album) – Taeyeon (SNSD)

The album review for this weekend fits in with my focus on solo artists. Taeyeon (from SNSD) needs no introduction, as she is currently one of the most famous solo artists in KPOP at this moment. Since her solo debut back in 2015, Taeyeon has been delivering hit after hit, proving herself to be a momentous artists in the KPOP landscape. In February of this year, she returned with her third studio album, INVU, which features the title track of the same name, two pre-release tracks (Can’t Control Myself and Weekend) and ten other singles on the album.

INVU (the album) is another great release for Taeyeon. And this comes as no surprise to me, as I have already mentioned that she has many hits under her belt. A lot of the songs on INVU steals my attention, and Taeyeon’s vocals are shone in its best light yet. If I had to choose one word to describe the release, it would have to be ‘captivating’. Sure, the album has its strong and weak songs (find out which songs fit in which category below). But as a big picture, INVU does not disappoint.

INVU Album Cover

1. INVU (Title Track)Click here for the full review for INVU. (7.5/10)

2. Some Nights (그럼 밤) – If you are after a stunning pop ballad, then Some Nights is the song for you. It is hard for me to even write just a few comments about this song whilst listening to it, as I have to drop whatever I am doing to take it all in properly. Taeyeon’s vocals captivates and leaves me in awe, especially when she soars. The instrumental, which takes on a bit of a R&B profile, was heavenly and soothing. And together, they create an emotionally loaded atmosphere that is hard to ignore. (10/10)

3. Can’t Control MyselfClick here to read the full review for Can’t Control Myself. (9/10)

4. Set Myself On FireSet Myself On Fire is another song in which Taeyeon’s vocals just steals the show. The balladry instrumental we get acts as a blank canvas, whereas her vocals act like the paint strokes that paint an intense image. The harmonies, ad-libs and high notes she brings to the Set Myself On Fire act as noticeable details in image that adds depth and so much meaning to the song. Another 10/10 song in my opinion. (10/10)

5. Toddler (어른아이) – We enter more upbeat territory after a string of ballads with Toddler. But we aren’t talking anything overly upbeat. I actually find Toddler to be in the middle ground between what I would consider fully ‘upbeat territory’ and the songs that came before it. The funky instrumental does add colour and a much-needed kick to the album, while her vocals and melodies added an aesthetic touch that also makes Toddler a great piece. (8.5/10)

6. Siren – Like many of the other songs on the album, Siren is quite captivating and consistent. What impresses me about Siren is the chorus. It is impactful without being explosive or doing much. The synth backing differentiates it from the rest, and the presence of the barely audible sirens in the background was a nice addition. Taeyeon’s vocals are riveting (as always), and I quite enjoyed the spoken rap-like delivery that subtly changes things up in the second verse. (9/10)

7. Cold as HellCold as Hell is probably the most relatable song on this album at this moment in my life. Winter has started (not formally, but it definitely feels like it), and it is Cold as Hell. Anyhow, back to the song. I like how the instrumental embodies strength and power, opting for an instrumental that features splashes of trap, haunted house music and rock. It was sinister and creepy, but also has that empowerment tone to it. And the EDM drops give it a cool effect. I liked how Taeyeon’s vocals build in this, though I think her vocal delivery could have been more memorable in this song. (8/10)

8. Timeless – I like the upbeat pop energy that Timeless has. It is vibrant and colourful, which is much appreciated following two songs that were on the serious side of the spectrum. The instrumental was more on the ordinary side, however. I liked how Taeyeon’s vocals soared in Timeless, and how simple the melody was. But unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to make Timeless the most memorable or strongest song on this album, but it has its merits. (7/10)

9. Heart (품) – Another track that undoubtedly highlights Taeyeon’s vocals. I just like how her vocals inclines in the chorus, making it a memorable aspect/sequence of the song. This is different to her vocals in the verses which were a lot quieter and more grounded, and so I didn’t get much out of those verses. The instrumental takes on a pop ballad profile, driven by guitar riffs in the verses and constant piano tapping in the chorus. Again, a bit ordinary. But there were some good elements in Heart. (8/10)

10. No Love Again – The beat to No Love Again is quite addictive and definitely foot-tapping worthy. In addition to the beat, the guitar work and Taeyeon’s vocals come off as quite striking. While these elements should have been enough to make No Love Again stick for me, it interestingly did not. I guess it is a matter that the album had better songs, that ended up shoving No Love Again out of the spotlight. (7.5/10)

11. You Better Not You Better Not is my absolute favourite from this album. The song doesn’t shy from its rock roots, with the constant strumming guitar strongly indicating the direction in which You Better Not goes in. But the chorus still manages to surprise with its textured approach. It adds that head banging potential that I mentioned in my last song review. Also, the way Taeyeon’s deliver the pre-chorus was also a positive sign that I was going to enjoy the song. Taeyeon’s vocals were soft in that part (and for the rest of the song, as well), but was jammed packed into a tight timeframe to appear fast tempo. The falsetto at the end of each line at the start of the chorus was also a really nice touch. (10/10)

12. WeekendClick here for the full review of Weekend. (7/10)

13. Ending Credits – Taeyeon wraps up the album with a song appropriately titled as Ending Credits. Taeyeon’s tone and the music did a great job with closing out the album, conveying the right level of each to signal the end of the album. The synths brought an ethereal-like atmosphere to the song (though I might argue that they are slightly overpowering), and the actual ending of the song faded out so satisfyingly. It is lovely, overall. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

INVU Teaser Image

[Review] I HATE YOU – WOODZ

Restarting another weekend focused on solo artists is WOODZ, with his newly release single I HATE YOU, which dropped on Wednesday of this week. I HATE YOU leads WOODZ’s fourth mini-album, Colorful Trauma. It is also WOODZ’s first comeback since the release of WAITING and ONLY LOVERS LEFT in October of last year.

I HATE YOU steers WOODZ’s discography into pop rock and punk direction. I quite liked the track, as it is both fun and exciting, which works extremely well with the lyrics of the song. WOODZ expresses that ‘he does not need to sad because of the person he once loved’ (taken from SOOMPI). And the energy that is exuded from I HATE YOU (and just the general direction of the pop rock/punk influence) acts as a great conduit to represent the emotions that WOODZ is feeling in this song. I really like the chorus for its head-bopping potential (though I am sure this could be turned into ‘head-banging potential’ should the song be put on blast) and its overall intensity. The most memorable section of the song has to be the English lines in the bridge (i.e. ‘I hate you, I forget you‘). The sequence stood out when I first listened to the song, and it just stuck with every listen that follows. What also really stood out in I HATE YOU is WOODZ himself. His vocals feel right at home in this song, with his raspy tone put on full display throughout the song. It is an amazing texture to bring to the song and adds a cool dynamic. Also, I liked how he slips in and out of rapping effortlessly. This furthers that already mentioned dynamic, and the rapping just gives I HATE YOU a neat kick. I do think I HATE YOU could have been better had it delivered more in all departments. But as it is, I HATE YOU is another song that just satisfies.

I really like the contemporary art museum concept that WOODZ went with for this comeback. It definitely looked cool, especially with those scenes during the pre-choruses, where he is surrounded by the swinging metronomes or activated alarms. The video opened up with WOODZ in that wacky air protective outfit. This made sense to me as the outfit signifies he is protected by his sad emotions. But at the end of the video, the air filled outfit had popped and this represents that he no longer needs to be sad, just as expressed in the lyrics of the song. The other pieces we saw follow a similar mindset, but also gave off either edgy vibes, stylish vibes, or just plain creepy (i.e. those people covered from head to toe in the ‘I Hate You’ tape). The chorus scenes where his mouth appears to be bloody was a bit much for me, but I guess it does add more to that edgy vibe. Overall, a cool video that leaves a strong impression on you.

I am surprised that there was choreography for this comeback. I was expecting WOODZ to perform this song with a band in the background, just like in the music video. Anyway, WOODZ doesn’t really participate in the choreography other than jumping and that kick at the start of the first chorus. Instead, he puts all his energy into his vocals. But this pays off, as his stage presence and energy (and with the assistance of the dancers) turns this ‘head-bopping’ song into a ‘head-banging’ performance.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Review] BUT YOU – iKON

iKON returned earlier this week with their long awaited comeback, BUT YOU. It is the title track off the group’s fourth mini-album, FLASHBACK, which also dropped on the same day. This is the first comeback made by the group following their Why Why Why comeback last year and their participation on the show Kingdom: Legendary War (also last year).

To me, BUT YOU comes off as a mild synth pop that has a ‘just right’ feel to it. There are also 80s retro influences in the instrumental. Sure, retro influences and synth-pop is very much the norm nowadays within the industry, but iKON’s take on the trend with BUT YOU is extremely satisfying. However, the instrumental only only makes up half the reasoning to the ‘just right’ or ‘extremely satisfying’ descriptions. The other half of the reasoning to why I gave BUT YOU such descriptions is the melodic glide that it has throughout both verses and choruses. It just gives off a really smooth and polished atmosphere that moves along so nicely. It is also the most memorable aspect of the song, for me. Put the two halves of the reasoning together, and you have another winning combination. To make the melodies work as well as it did, the vocals had to be spot on, and iKON definitely nailed this department of the song. Rapping (in general) and Bobby himself takes a bit of a back seat in BUT YOU. I did like his rapping sequence, especially for its rhythm (as I felt it worked well with the melodic glide I mentioned before), but I wished he broke the barriers a bit and delivered a more striking, bold and/or impactful sequence. This would have definitely made him standout more. I also wished the final chorus was a bit explosive, just to give something more to the end of BUT YOU. I think there was opportunity following the climax to really bring it home, but BUT YOU missed that opportunity. Apart from those minor issues, BUT YOU is a satisfying single that I will be revisiting.

The start to this music video has to be one of the most stunning and aesthetics introductions I have seen this year. It may also be one of the most stunning introductions I have ever seen. I am a sucker for simplicity, and I felt the dark background, lights moving up and down along each member and the sparkling glitter falling down was just so aesthetically pleasing to watch. It was also just perfectly fitting for the atmospheric introduction to the song. The rest of the video has this bittersweet type of feel to it. The members appear to have moved on by going clubbing and getting back out there. But in reality, they still harbour feelings for their ex-lover who has moved on from them. The only scene that I have to be critical about is Bobby’s solo scene on the back of that truck. I just don’t get it. I might be missing something, but I saw no relevance.

They started the choreography by doing a slight twist without moving their feet. I felt that was pretty cool and had the same aesthetic as the start of the music video. I thought the hype sequence that they followed up with was a bit odd. It just didn’t feel right for the stage performance as there wasn’t really anyone to reciprocate it (but that might just be due to the lack of audience). But aside from that, I am liking the smooth ‘You‘ movements with the two hands/arms, and their dancing with the female dancers throughout the routine.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Review] FEARLESS – LE SSERAFIM

And now we skip back to the present day to review a new release for a brand new group. Source Music (the former home of GFriend and a HYBE Labels subsidiary) has been working on a new female group for a while now, and today they finally unveiled the new group. Named LE SSERAFIM (an anagram for I’M FEARLESS), the group consist of six members. Two members are former IZ*ONE members, Sakura and Chaewon, while the third member is Yunjin, who eliminated from Produce 48 and placed 26th on the show. The final three members include Kazuha, Kim Garam and Hong Eunchae. They debuted today with the FEARLESS, the title of both their single and mini-album.

FEARLESS opts for a subdued funky pop sound. It is an interesting direction for a debut track, and it is one that actually pays off. FEARLESS has to be one of the most unique debut tracks that I can remember, simply because FEARLESS is anything but subdued. The track is bold and memorable in its own way, setting it apart from competition of trending tracks and other newly released songs. I really liked the pairing that subdued funky pop instrumental I already mentioned and the somewhat hush-hushed whisper-like vocals that the group started off with. It creates a sleek atmosphere that aids with the message of confidence included as part of the lyrics. I like how this same pairing is replicated in the chorus, though they did throw in some catchy hooks (such as the ‘What you, What you lookin’ at?‘ and similar repetitive lines) and amped up the funky influences in the instrumental to create a winning centre piece. I did skip over the pre-chorus, which I felt needed some of its own attention. I liked how they offset FEARLESS‘s overall subdued nature with a bit of oomph in the pre-chorus instrumentation and explosiveness via the vocals. It gave FEARLESS some meat to its bone. To me, the weakest moment comes during the second verse with the autotune. I get that it is an attempt to add some texture to FEARLESS, but it didn’t work as intended for me at least (whiny is how I would describe the autotune). But apart from that, I am digging FEARLESS and its bold execution. A great introduction to LE SSEARFIM, as well.

What a music video! It definitely carries over the sentiment as ‘a great introduction’ to the group. The visuals of members and quality of the video were definitely amazingly flawless. There was some great chemistry between the camera and the members throughout the video, which works wonderfully with that confidence that I mentioned in the song component of this review. I quite enjoyed the big crown set, especially as the pyrotechnic waterfall came down, and the dance studio shots (it is as if the group was aware that people were looking at them!). The CGI was also well used in this video. The use of black, white and silver was also a nice way to bolden the video’s visuals, creating a somewhat sterile environment that allowed other colours to pop (i.e. light blue in the studio set, the golden pyrotechnic shower at the end, the pink in the car scenes etc.). I do wonder what the final words at the end of the video mean – ‘Do you think I am fragile’ – possibly a hint towards their next release?

I agree with the commentary that music video version of the choreography felt a bit much when it featured some inappropriate choreography for minors (the ‘Swalla’ move), to which some of the members are. So I am glad that it was switched out the move for the stage performances. It definitely shows me that finally some companies have some awareness, though was it necessary to have to begin with. But other than that, I liked the choreography and the charisma that it brought along.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Review] Savior – Kim Sung Kyu (Infinite)

Time to jump back to last week, with the next review focusing on Kim Sung Kyu’s solo comeback, Savior. Savior is the title track off Kim Sung Kyu’s fourth mini-album which shares the same name. This is Kim Sung Kyu’s first release following last year’s departure from Woolim Entertainment, him signing on with Double H TNE, and the release of HUSH and Won’t Forget You. He is also due to continue his domestic tour of South Korea, which began earlier this month in Seoul.

To me, Savior is a throwback to Kim Sung Kyu’s past solo work. If you were to put his past solo releases side by side with this latest one, this one would blend right in. And I quite like the idea of that. While I am a strong advocate for artists to change their music style once in a while, Kim Sung Kyu is one of those acts that I am happy to stay within the rock realm, simply because he will explore different areas of the genre each time he releases new music. This time around, Savior is a mid-tempo pop rock sound that has stunning potential. I find the pop rock instrumental to just extremely satisfying. The mix of ethereal synths alongside the rock gives Savior that potential I mentioned. I also find that Savior doesn’t overwhelm nor overpower, which is why I like Kim Sung Kyu’s music so much. He knows how to make his vocals standout, and he ensures the rock backing (no matter what style he is diving into) assists with this. I do think the instrumental can go slightly bolder in some parts, just to give Savior some oomph, but what we got is another case of ‘good enough’. As I have touched on already, Kim Sung Kyu’s vocals are amazing throughout the song. There is a warm and comforting feeling to his vocals. This might just be the nostalgia speaking, but I find this tone to work well with the lyrics of the song. I also like the power he adds to his vocals during the chorus, which helps makes the piece more riveting. The ‘Ooh Wa Ah Ah~‘ was quite catchy. I also really like the heavenly touch the falsetto gives Savior at the very end. Overall, Savior is a great single to return to the industry with for Kim Sung Kyu, and I am definitely looking forward to more work from the soloist into the future (and a potential Infinite reunion, please!).

I quite liked the artistic yet simple nature of the music video. It doesn’t overcomplicate or clash with the song, which is just perfect. It is all shot in a studio, but the scenes all look much more than just a studio. To me, each scene (whether it was the boat scene or with the band) went beyond the boundaries of the studio, and this made it looks effortlessly stunning to watch. In particular, I feel like the video touched on that ethereal description I had for the synths in the song. Whoever produced and/or directed this video did an amazing job. I do have to say some of Kim Sung Kyu outfits though looked a bit awkward. But apart from that, its a great video.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

[Review] BLOOM – Yoon Ji Sung

Another solo comeback that occurred during the week was Yoon Ji Sung, who returns to the stage with the single BLOOM and his third mini-album, MIRO. This is Yoon Ji Sung’s first comeback in a year, following Love Song. This is also his first release under a new entertainment company, DG Entertainment.

BLOOM is a sweet and pleasant song, consisting of a city-pop instrumental. It is not the knockout track that Yoon Ji Sung needs in his solo work, but it suffices. There wasn’t a second whilst listening to the song since its release did I find it boring, which actually surprised me, given that I find BLOOM to be one of those that are consistent from start to end (and I tend to find that a bit draining). However, time will tell if that statement holds true or not. What I like about BLOOM is how dreamy everything felt. Yoon Ji Sung’s vocals were extremely pleasant and definitely captivated me. The melodies were smooth, peaceful and soothing to listen to. And I liked how the instrumental doesn’t overpower. Even when the guitar solo moment came into play, it all balanced out. Sure, the song could have used a bit more of something, just to give it a bit more uniqueness (but not lose its sweet and pleasant charms). Maybe this something could have been in the bridge, as that was where I felt the least pull. But what BLOOM ended up giving us is quite nice and enjoyable.

As the name suggests and the season in which South Korea is currently in (i.e. Spring), it is expected that the flowers would make some sort of presence in this music video. Well, we ended up getting a heavy presence of them. They definitely made the video pretty to watch. The colours of the flowers and the green leaves really popped out in this video, with all other colours appearing pale in comparison. Other than that, this video isn’t my cup of tea. But it worked well with the song.

The choreography for this comeback was good. But I felt that they tried to jam a lot into the routine, which I didn’t think was necessary for this track. The choreography should have been more graceful. Also, it looked a bit awkward with Yoon Ji Sung dancing alone, whilst the dancers were paired off. I wished they had another dancer to pair with Yoon Ji Sung, just so that the performance looks a little natural.

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

[Review] C.I.T.T (Cheese In The Trap) – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

I am jumping around today with my reviews this weekend to focus on solo artists who have released songs over the last few weeks that I have yet to cover on my blog. First up is actually a release from this week. Moonbyul is back with a new single, C.I.T.T (Cheese In The Trap). This is a pretty quick comeback for the solo artist, given that Moonbyul just release a mini-album earlier this year, headlined by the title track LUNATIC. But I am not complaining!

C.I.T.T doesn’t give me much to complain about, anyway. I am a big fan of upbeat tracks, in general. Extra points are given if the song makes me smile. And C.I.T.T fits the bill perfectly, fulfilling both criteria that I had outlined just now. C.I.T.T has this strong and satisfying pop rock sound that energises you as you listen to the song. Its undoubtedly fun, playful, bright and catchy. I am of the opinion that more could have been done to make the instrumental a bit more exciting and unique, but it works extremely well as it is presented to us. What makes C.I.T.T even more enjoyable is Moonbyul herself. The song plays towards her strengths in both the vocals and rapping departments, My favourite part of the song is the pre-chorus, with the raspy nature of her vocals perfectly highlighted for the ramping up sequence of the song. Her vocals in the chorus and second half of the bridge are also great moments. The melodies and hooks were catchy enough to make the song memorable and addictive. I can definitely see myself returning to C.I.T.T, which is the highest compliment that anyone can pay a song.

In this video, Moonbyul is a student who wants to experience love. Everyone around her is getting confessions, flowers or are in a relationship. She turns to a tape that teaches her how to put the ‘cheese in the trap’, which in this case is code for ‘make someone fall in love with her’ (i.e. trap them). But instead of following the tape itself, Moonbyul decides to embrace her true self to find that someone, instead of following some cheesy instructions from a tape. She would be more comfortable and this will be attractive to many people! Aside from the cute storyline, I really liked all the different looks that Moonbyul donned throughout the video. From the typical school student look to the punkish rock star at the end, she definitely showcased multiple sides of herself, which is fun and appealing.

I liked how the choreography embodied the fun side of the song. Nothing stood out, but it was a great routine that matched the energy of the song well.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Review] Undercover – VERIVERY

Quick comebacks do not happen often (not counting pre-releases, as we are usually given a heads up to the bigger releases that would follow shortly), but they do occur from time to time. And the most recent group to attempt this feat is VERIVERY. Just a month ago, the group dropped their digital single O, which I described as ‘a solid track from start to end’. No one was aware that the song would ultimately serve as a side track on the album that would drop after a months time. Fast forward to earlier this week, the group returned with their first studio length album, Series ‘O’ Round 3: Whole, and the title track Undercover.

If Undercover and O were compared to side by side, O would emerge as the superior song. My thoughts on the earlier track have already been documented in its own review. In regards to Undercover, it is considerably underwhelming. Personally, I think the start of the song and the first verse was just fine. The preachy sample that kicked off Undercover was intriguing. But the verse was quite plain, and plain is never a great impression to start off with. But I have heard songs recover from such starts. Unfortunately Undercover doesn’t do this and just proceeds to the chorus without any acceleration, ramp up or intense building of any sort. Within the chorus itself, there wasn’t any memorable synths, hooks or melodies that would have made Undercover engaging for me. And then the cycle continues onto the second verse and chorus. It is not until the bridge does Undercover gets interesting thanks to the guitar work. There was some guitar work with potential in the verses/chorus to begin with, but they didn’t really make much of a statement until the bridge. From the bridge onwards, the guitars definitely added an oomph factor (however, subtle though) to the song, which I would emphasis as much needed. The guitar work continues on, and paired with the bass ended up being quite appealing to me. The deep vocals and the rapping that follows closes out Undercover was miles away in terms of strength and memorability to what the song’s centrepiece was. Overall, Undercover was quite lacking for majority of its body and needed something dynamic to spruce up the song. As result, it underwhelmed.

Unlike the O video, I might have a bit of an idea of what is going on in the video (but I am not entirely too confident about my interpretation). The Get Away music video introduced the idea that there were alternative versions of each member. And from the ending of Get Away, the alternate versions take over their identities in the ‘real world’. In TRIGGER, the group we see are the main character are the version of the group that died in the previous video. They are tormented by a different version of themselves, but end up escaping after the circular building collapses (which opens this video). In this video, the members escape and go on the offense, by seeking their alternative selves (that took their lives in Get Away), defeating them and restoring the balance between the two worlds (based on the barrier between the two sides at the end of the video). That is my best guess to what is going on in this universe of different worlds, though I am unsure how O fits into the video. Maybe that can be an investigation for a future Music Video Theory series.

The stage performance helps makes the song feel a lot more dynamic. This is a good definitely a good thing, as without it, the entire comeback would have become lacking. While the routine is good, there just wasn’t much within it that was memorable.

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10