[Review] PARTY ROCK – CRAVITY

Next up in my pursuit to review the releases of last week is CRAVITY, who returned with their fourth mini-album, New Wave. Leading the mini-album is the single PARTY ROCK. This comes after CRAVITY pre-released their first English single Boogie Woogie and their Adrenaline comeback from earlier in the year (featured on the second part of their first studio album – Liberty: In Our Cosmos).

PARTY ROCK embraces CRAVITY’s upbeat and fun side of funky pop once again, following a similar sound profile to the likes of Adrenaline. However, when you compare the two tracks together, you definitely feel a noticeable difference. Adrenaline comes off as a much tighter and hefty compared to this new release. On the other hand, PARTY ROCK comes off as much lighter and looser, which makes that fun and upbeat feel so much more natural and easygoing. And this just nudges PARTY ROCK forward on the rating scale for me. The chorus had great bright and appealing energy that brought a smile to my face. The members do a good job of bringing all that energy to life and makes the central piece of PARTY ROCK vibrant enough. I do feel there is potential for the members and producers of PARTY ROCK to have taken the chorus to the next level with bolder delivery and a more concentrated instrumental to just make the chorus a more prominent peak to the song. But what we were given is sufficient enough, as it managed to still get me to enjoy the song. I am loving the “We go jumpin’, party rockin’, never stoppin’” line, being my favourite and pick of most memorable line out of the whole song. That hook (and the rest of the hooks throughout PARTY ROCK) were super catchy and definitely ups the fun factor. The weakest aspects of PARTY ROCK were the verses, simply because they didn’t have much of a memorable zing to it. Had this been the case (and the chorus was just a little more leveled up), PARTY ROCK would have been a top notch song. As for now, it is still a great single for CRAVITY.

The music video that accompanies the release of PARTY ROCK was decent to watch. But there wasn’t much to really talk about from it. From what I could see, it is just another video where the members are having a bit of fun. Throw in some choreography shots and solo shots, and that is pretty much the video for this release. Even the usual elements that I do mention or touch like post production, sets, outfits or visuals were all pretty standard. In other words, it feels like a video which concept has been seen and done many times before.

The choreography for this comeback is just like the song – fun. Nothing too mind-blowing or innovative here, but everything feels lighthearted and easygoing. My favourite move out of the entire routine coincides with my favourite line that I mentioned earlier (also my favourite moments in the music video).

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10


[Review] Brand New – XIUMIN (EXO)

As you might have noticed, I had not posted any reviews for any releases from last week. So this week will be an extra big week to catch up on those outstanding releases from last week on top of reviews for the new releases this week. Only then will I be able to review the even more outstanding releases that have been stockpiling. First up is XIUMIN with his solo comeback with the Brand New single and his solo debut mini-album that shares the same name as the lead single.

Whilst XIUMIN’s solo ventures have primarily come from OSTs or SM Station releases (i.e. Young & Free with Mark from NCT and You), Brand New encroaches onto new territory for the relatively new solo artist. Brand New is super upbeat dance track, kicking right into gear from the very start with the catchy and vibrant chorus chant that features prominently throughout the single. I like how this same chant brings forth old school vibes in the song and adds a energetic dimension to Brand New. The lyrical component of the chant is a bit questionable for what Brand New is trying to achieve in terms of the song’s meaning, but I like it more for the addition of much needed oomph to the song. XIUMIN was in charge of the rest of the vocals in the verses. And his vocals sounded so pleasant throughout Brand New. I did wish the melody was a bit heftier and had more body, just so that XIUMIN himself could have stood out more prominently. Alternatively, the bass could have been turned down a fair bit. It drowned out XIUMIN a certain parts of Brand New. But overall, Brand New is a fun and cool track at times, but also pleasant and soothing during other times.

Based on the song’s description, what I could get could out of the lyrics and the different scenes throughout the music video, my guess is that the video depicts the creation and delivery of a present that is XIUMIN himself. But apart from that, it is a fair video to watch and accompany the likes of Brand New. Nothing too mind-blowing, but not terrible in anyway where it deters me from watching it. It also has been a while since we have seen XIUMIN in the public eye (at least it has been a while for me), so it is great to see him again (and be reminded of his stunning visuals).

The choreography was pretty good. I really enjoyed the chorus of the routine, when the energy of the song and routine is at its peak. But I also enjoyed the smoothness of the dance choreography during the verses, as well.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[Album Review] SEQUENCE (1st Special Single Album) – WJSN

As mentioned in the previous album review post, this is the second of two single album reviews that I will be posting to round out the week of album reviews before I return to the usual schedule for album reviews (first one will actually be will be published tomorrow, after I failed to post this review yesterday). WJSN is the focus of this post, alongside their first single album SEQUENCE. This was released back in July and is their first major comeback since their Queendom 2 win early on in the year. The single album features a total of three tracks, including the title track Last Sequence.

I think with the final overall album rating I have given SEQUENCE (scroll towards the end of the album review to see my rating for the single album – I won’t spoil it here), it is needless to say that I really enjoyed the single album. And with such a rating, SEQUENCE, becomes one of the best album releases of the year (despite having much less songs compared to their competition to work with). Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments below.

SEQUENCE Album Cover

1. Last Sequence (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Last Sequence. (9/10)

2. Done – The chorus of Done was, without a doubt, the highlight of the song. The deep bass house instrumental was quite an unexpected and subtly intense surprise to the song, given how the song started. The slightly autotuned and muffled vocals that began the chorus was quite trendy and cool. Yeonjung’s vocals in the latter half of the chorus contrasted really nicely with the bass element of the chorus, feeling vibrant and gives Done so much more colour. I also enjoyed the use of the brass synth at the end of Done, which gave the song that additional element to make sure the song is not too similar from start to end. Its presence only at the end of Done felt just right and helped solidified the mature vibes of the song. (10/10)

3. StrongerStronger is a ballad duet, featuring Dawon and Yeonjung. With these two members are the helm of the song, it comes as no surprise that it is a stunner. The instrumentation for this ballad is quite atmospheric and feels inspirational. The vocals were heavenly. They didn’t rely on powerhouse vocals, which I personally thought was interesting. I kind of wished they did go down that path to an extent, but I feel their approach still has impact and gives Stronger a … well, strong and sound profile. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.3/10

[Album Review] Villain: ZERO (2nd Single Album) – DRIPPIN

I will be rounding out my week full of album reviews with two single albums (two, as they are very short). I will return to the usual transmission of album reviews on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends starting this coming Wednesday. The first single album I will be looking at today is DRIPPIN’s mid-year comeback with Villain: ZERO. This is DRIPPIN’s second single album since debut and their latest comeback following their VILLAIN mini-album from earlier in the year. The single album features the title track ZERO and two additional side tracks.

I think my even and consistent rating of 8/10 throughout the single album, and hence adoption as my final overall album rating is indicative of the group’s potential in the long run (when you also look at DRIPPIN’s past releases). Sure, an 8/10 might not be the highest rating for an album before. But it still points towards some strong songs. Hopefully, DRIPPIN can receive a stronger title track and album release for the next comeback to gain a stronger presence in KPOP.

Villain: ZERO Album Cover

1. ZERO (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for ZERO. (8/10)

2. GAME – DRIPPIN doubles down with a very serious toned dance track, in the form of GAME. I found this track to be decent, with DRIPPIN’s solid delivery of the song. The pop instrumentation was mixed with tropical elements to create a strong and intense atmosphere. I just wished there was a bit more oomph to the song. GAME could have benefited from have a bolder hook, as opposed to the more vocally smooth hook we got in the song. GAME also could have emphasized some parts, just so the seriousness could have been concentrated. (8/10)

3. Trick and Treat – Re-entering the rock genre is Trick and Treat, who went with a grungier and abrasive profile this time around. It was more upfront with its intensity, compared to the title track. The chorus goes for a more shouty anthem-like chant, which makes sense, as the intention is to heighten the energy we are already getting from the instrumentation. The verses were a bit forgettable unfortunately, even though they go down more of a pop path with these verses. The bridge was probably the most energetic part of Trick and Treat, kicking off with an impressive high note from Hyeop. It will definitely make for a really dynamic and cool dance break in the live performances. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

Villain: ZERO Teaser Image

[Album Review] SMARTPHONE (2nd Mini Album) – YENA

And the week long album reviews continue with this post being focused on YENA’s second mini-album, SMARTPHONE. The mini-album was released at the start of August, alongside the title track of the same name. Alongside the title track are four additional side tracks. SMARTPHONE follows the release of YENA’s debut mini-album, x‿x (SMiLEY), from very early on in the year.

YENA’s debut mini-album was a standout for a debut act. This time around, I feel YENA’s album release was a bit more typical, but it is still a fairly strong album release nonetheless. The SMARTPHONE title track was by far my favourite from the mini-album. Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments below.

SMARTPHONE Album Cover

1. Make U Smile – Starting off the mini-album is a ballad. Usually, ballads are kept for the end of the album, but it isn’t unheard of for ballads to be place in the front of the release. YENA sounds really beautiful throughout Make U Smile. I liked that she sings in both low and high registers, and that her vocals were quite airy. The instrumentation was quite soothing and dreamy. (8/10)

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

3. WithOrWithOut – YENA revisits the punk genre with WithOrWithOut. You might remember the likes of Lxxk 2 U from her first mini-album, which was also delved into the punk genre and was a favourite of mine. WithOrWithOut is a bit softer around the edges, but it still has that nostalgic feel to it. Of course, this song is best during the chorus when the energy is at a high, and the bridge was super awesome. Her brief stints of rapping in the bridge in particular were awesome. (8.5/10)

4. Lemon-AidLemon-Aid goes down the pop path. The instrumental alone was already extremely enjoyable and just hits right, for me. The energy that YENA and the instrumental comes together to form successfully brings a smile to my face. YENA’s vocals are cutesy and I am not too troubled by this. Her rapping was probably the weakest aspects of the song, especially in the pre-choruses. I wished they were just vocals in a similar manner to elsewhere in the song. (8/10)

5. U – The final song on the album is U, and this is probably the style I would have expected from YENA from the very start of her solo career. The pop instrumentation was fun and YENA’s vocals were quite cutesy sounding. It is just a bit too sweet for me personal taste, but it was still a neat way to round out the mini-album. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

SMARTPHONE Teaser Image

[Album Review] AURA (6th Mini Album) – Golden Child

The next album review on the blog this week is for Golden Child’s sixth mini-album since their debut, AURA, which was released in August of this year. This mini-album features the title track Replay, an intro track and 4 additional side tracks. AURA follows the group’s Japanese debut and first comeback, the military enlistment of Daeyeol and the group’s Korean releases of Ra Pam Pam and DDARA from last year.

It comes as no surprise to me (and it honestly should not be any surprise to any of you) that Golden Child has put out another strong album with AURA, as evident by the extremely high rating I gave the mini-album at the end of this post. I really enjoyed every track on the mini-album – from the title track to the intro track (and everything that follows these two tracks). Both AURA and Golden Child deserves more attention!

AURA Album Cover

1. AURA – The mini-album starts off with a very elegant but mature sounding instrumental piece. It builds up from deliberately slow and paced beat, infusing some electronic synths and brief flute work into the instrumental, but peaking with crunchy vibration at the very end. It is definitely moody throughout and sets the scene for the rest of the mini-album.

2. Replay (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Replay. (9.5/10)

3. Knocking On My Door – My high hopes for this Golden Child album release comes to fruition with Knocking On My Door. It is the song that made certain that the mini-album would find a place on the agenda for an album review. I love the seamless flow of this track, and the consistently dynamic chorus. The brightness from the synths did the song a solid, giving the song a very refreshing and breezy feel. The rapping added a nice and palatable touch of textures. But it is the vocals that left me most impressed with Knocking On My Door. Y and Joochan’s vocals in the chorus were amazing, and the ad-libs we got at the end just sealed the deal to make this track one of the album’s highlight. (10/10)

4. 3! 6! 5!3! 6! 5! ups the energy exponentially with this fun and very vibrant track. Without a doubt, it fits into the summer season just perfectly. And it is incredibly hard to not dance to this song whilst listening to it and I always a find a wide smile on my face following a listen to this song. The harmonies give 3! 6! 5! so much boldness, while the rapping added such a fitting level of edginess and grooviness to the song, all at the same time. And the hooks in the song are so catchy and so easy to get into. Another undeniable highlight. (10/10)

5. PurposePurpose starts off as a much softer track, as opposed to the song preceding it. The melodies and verses frames the song as a mid-tempo pop song. But the choruses of Purpose ended up being quite impactful with the combination of the pop and heavy synths. The synths almost overwhelm the vocals, in my opinion. But the vocalists just manage to push through and stay on top. They do sound nice, but I think a bit of refinement would have helped Purpose a lot. I quite like the rapping in this track, especially in the second verse when there wasn’t any backing to the rapping. (8/10)

6. Miracle (완벽해) – The mini-album ends with a glitchy EDM dance track. This brings the energy of the album right back up, and possibly to new highs on this mini-album when the instrumental is most relentless. The choruses were decent, and I liked how the melodies/vocals kept the song grounded. I kind of wished the hooks in the chorus were a bit more memorable, but what we were presented is definitely fine enough. The rapping in the second verse was super cool and gave off a super edgy feel. The verses settled for some less crunchy synths and a funky underlying bass – both leads well into the choruses. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.2/10

AURA Teaser Image

[Album Review] CHECKMATE (5th Mini Album) – ITZY

ITZY is the next group to be getting the album review treatment this week. In particular, I am looking at ITZY’s fifth and most recent mini-album since their debut. Titled CHECKMATE, the mini album features both the Korean and English version of the title track, SNEAKERS, and an additional five tracks. This is the first album review for the group, since their first studio length album release in September of last year.

CHECKMATE is an okay mini-album. I get the impression that listeners got more out of the mini-album, whereas I enjoyed the title track more (compared to the rest of the mini-album). Interestingly, the original album cover (which featured the queen chess piece) was replaced with the pink album cover you see below. Personally, I feel like the pink album cover is terrible and I much prefer the original album cover – even if the concept didn’t match the title track. I guess I am against the world with this review. Let me know if you agree or disagree with me.

CHECKMATE Album Cover

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

2. RACER – For me, the coolest aspect of RACER was the chorus. This is thanks to the trap hybrid instrumentation and edginess it brought out of the song. In addition, the start of the second verse (i.e., with the autotuned muffled vocals) follows a similar vein. Unfortunately, the rest of the song does not live up to the same standard as the already mentioned parts. It all pretty much felt typical and cliché to me. The vocals and rapping didn’t elicit much from me, and I felt the groans at the end of the hooks were very cringy. (6/10)

3. WHAT I WANTWHAT I WANT settles for an electro-pop instrumental. I feel the cool and trendy descriptions that could not be applied to the entirety of the previous song can be applied to the entire instrumentation of WHAT I WANT. I particularly like the strong infusion of pop during the pre-choruses through the vocal melodies and the layering of instrumentation in the final chorus. Throw in some catchy repetitive hook that are keyed into your memory bank once this song is over, and you basically have a strong track. (8/10)

4. Free FallFree Fall begins with dramatic thumps that alludes to an intense atmosphere. At first, I thought this meant the song was going to feature a mature change up to the album. But we don’t get that whatsoever. ITZY brings their usual bright and youthful energy to Free Fall. But they do so in such a firm matter that any thought of the song being mature was long forgotten and that bright/youthful energy they bring takes full control of the song. The ‘Weee’ we get throughout the choruses were cringy at first, but I ended up warming up to them a fair bit. I am quite surprised I enjoyed this song. (8.5/10)

5. 365365 builds on what was alluded in the previous song, just without the initial dramatic start. As a result, this makes 365 the darkest sounding release on this album. It features an EDM instrumental that sounded like it had mechanical, metallic and robotic sound effects. The members themselves bring a hip-hop energy to the song. I did wish the song had bolder hooks and a more prominent peak, just to potentially take itself to a higher level. (7/10)

6. DOMINODOMINO’s instrumentation moves towards pop rock territory, but it just feels a tad on the pop side. The vibrant energy that comes from the instrumentation fits perfectly into the summer season. There was some good rhythm to the song, and the melodies were quite pleasant. I did think the vocals could have used a bit refinement. I personally felt during some parts the members were really pushing themselves, and I wished the producers took a moment to rethink those moments. It was slightly uncomfortable to listen to, if you really hone into the details. (8/10)

7. SNEAKERS (English Version) – Refer to the full review of SNEAKERS above.

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

CHECKMATE Teaser Image

[Album Review] Geekyland (4th Mini Album) – PURPLE KISS

Next up on the week long of album reviews is PURPLE KISS’ Geekyland, their latest mini-album release. Geekyland and its title track Nerdy was originally released on 25 July 2022. This min-album features another 4 tracks and an intro track alongside Nerdy. Fun fact (and proof that I really dropped the ball on album reviews this year), but a couple of weeks following Nerdy‘s review, I reviewed PURPLE KISS’ third mini-album, memeM, from way back in March of this year.

Once again, PURPLE KISS put out a strong mini-album. I think their past few releases have also been of a similar calibre, and so PURPLE KISS has proven to be consistent and full of potential, just like what I had indicated in their memeM album review. Just like that mini-album, Geekyland also features one 10/10 track. Keep on reading to find out which song that is.

Geekyland Album Cover

1. Intro: Bye Bye Bully – The intro track was an ideal track to precede the title track that follows it. Bye Bye Bully’s instrumentation features a spooky vibe whilst also being trendy and modern. The vocals work was sleek, working well with the instrumentation. If there was anything to take away from this intro track, it is that PURPLE KISS knows how to the set the scene. (8.5/10)

2. Nerdy (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Nerdy. (8.5/10)

3. Fireflower (불꽃)Fireflower was a pleasant dance track. I liked the different influences within the background, from the brief cultural sample at the start and the complimenting moombahton instrumental for the chorus. The vocal work was quite alluring to listen to. The rapping in the bridge was a highlight and I wouldn’t mind hearing more of that in the song. In addition to wanting that, I did want some more oomph to Fireflower, just so everything we get in Fireflower is heightened and an even more exciting vibe comes from the song. (8/10)

4. Can’t Stop Dreamin’ – There are two sides to Can’t Stop Dreamin’. On one side, we have a dreamy atmosphere come about during the verses. The dreamy nature comes about from the harp-like synth in the trap-centric instrumental. On the other side, a dynamic infusion of energy comes through the choruses. The two sides work well with one another, creating a harmonious dance track. The hooks in this song were strong, with a solid set vocals and great delivery from the members. A favourite of my mine from this mini-album. (9/10)

5. Love Is Dead – We continue that spooky vibe from the first two songs in Love Is Dead through a fun and groovy rock track. I quite enjoyed the use of their raspy/husky vocals in the song, which gave them a mature profile. But it also plays towards that spooky vibe I just mentioned. The rapping in the second verse was perfect for this song, aligning with the raspy vocals and bought an edgy factor to the song. The hooks within Love Is Dead was super catchy and memorable, help making it a highlight on this mini-album. (9/10)

6. SuMMer RaiN – The song tones down and completes the album with an acoustic R&B number. And I found it so nice and soothing to listen to. The deep voice in the background was a surprising element, however, and the idea of it doesn’t work with acoustics whatsoever. But somehow, it fits into snuggly into the background. The vocals were very delicate and soft, bringing out the melodies really well. Some of the melodies feel a bit haunting, which I guess is the song’s connection to the rest of the mini-album. The rapping was superb and I love the rhythm it brought to the song. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

Geekyland Teaser Image

[Album Review] The Wave OF9 (11th Mini Album) – SF9

Okay, I lied. Yesterday’s review was not an album review. But it was pre-scheduled, before I decided to make this week full of album reviews. But the rest of the reviews this week (through to Monday) will be album reviews. Next up is SF9’s 11th mini-album, The Wave OF9, which was released back in July of this year. It features the title track SCREAM and five other side tracks. This comeback also is the first comeback from SF9 of a reduced lineup, with Inseong, Youngbin and Rowoon sitting out for different reasons.

The Wave OF9 had the potential to have some 10/10 songs, but I just wasn’t exactly satisfied by how the songs turned out. Interestingly enough, it all came to do one member. I wonder if you can guess which member that was. I don’t mean to single them out or blame them for my personal ratings of the songs, but I found it intriguing that this member was the reason to why I held back from giving these songs a 10/10. Otherwise, this mini-album is pretty good. Per usual, let me know if you agree with my thoughts/ratings below.

The Wave OF9 Album Cover

1. SCREAM (Title Track) Click here to read the full review for SCREAM. (8/10)

2. OK OK – The soft and airy vocals of OK OK make this song feel so enjoyable. The synth-pop instrumentation and melodies aids the vocals, creating such a pleasant tone for the song that ensures the soft vocals shine. Zuho’s rapping was probably the most questionable aspect of the song. I admit that his rap does offset the softness of the song and adds a bit of oomph to keep the song from feeling too consistent. But I feel like his part was too abrasive for the grander picture that is OK OK. Maybe he should have somehow smoothed out his lines to just fit in better with the rest of OK OK. (9/10)

3. Summertime Bounce (Don’t Kill My Vibe) – I find myself singing along to the super catchy hook of Summertime Bounce. It is just so easy to get into and to get lost in. Again, the intro and verses were quite pleasant, never really encroaching over a certain threshold that would have allowed me to describe the track as dynamic. But there was a nice beat to it. The choruses were unexpectedly trendy, featuring some constricted electric guitar that just transform pleasant into groovy. The latter half of the choruses do go over that threshold I mentioned, and rounds out the chorus with a refined yet dynamic bounce. Once again, however, Zuho’s rapping was overwhelming for this song, but I did like the way Summertime Bounce transitioned back into the final chorus. (9/10)

4. Driver – I am reminded of past KPOP songs while listening to Driver. It doesn’t ping me of any song in particular, but rather there is a sense of familiarity to the song. Aside from that, Driver features a groovy dance instrumental, catchy hooks and solid efforts from the members. I am particularly happy to say that Zuho fits into this song nicely and doesn’t overwhelm. I also find the song to be quite sleek and very enjoyable. (8/10)

5. Crazy Crazy LoveCrazy Crazy Love brings a retro touch and disco influences to the mini-album. I really liked the consistent groovy energy of this track, while the ‘Oooh Oooh Oooh’ were super catchy. Chani’s rapping in the first half of the pre-choruses is so alluring to listen to, while the vocals brought vibrancy to the song. The actual more substantial rapping sequences were cool, while I got a nostalgic vibe from Jaeyoon’s vocals in the bridge. (8/10)

6. Butterfly – We end the album with a track that features a fairly busy and noisy instrumental. There was a lot going in the background in Butterfly. But all of this brought character and profile to the song. I did think the pleasantness nature of the vocals was a poor choice, resulting in the vocalists sounding weak and lacking momentum. The rappers, on the other hand, stands out with a strong and powerful rap sequences, and I feel their parts are on par with the instrumental of Butterfly. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

The Wave OF9 Teaser Image

[Review] BEAUTIFUL MONSTER – STAYC

This is another review for a song I should have reviewed sooner and closer to its original release date. This one, in particular, was a surprise to me that I had missed it when I was going through my list of releases to review/catch up, since the artist in question has been on a roll with their releases. STAYC made their comeback in July of this year with BEAUTIFUL MONSTER, the title track from their third single album We Need Love. It follows the release of RUN2U from earlier this year.

BEAUTIFUL MONSTER changes up STAYC’s range of title tracks with a more subdued release, featuring a lot more acoustics within its instrumental than usual, with guitars and pan flutes being some of the new instruments that STAYC are playing within this release. If you don’t follow STAYC’s releases, their title tracks have been quite heavy on the synth front. That being said, there was still some electronic elements to BEAUTIFUL MONSTER‘s instrumental, but the acoustics just stand out a lot more this time around. This heavier presence of acoustics allow the song to standout in STAYC’s discography. So far, however, I have been isolating the acoustics and electronic sides of the song. But it was quite interesting to hear the harmony that the two sides created together, and was undeniably a strong aspect of the song. It created a pleasant atmosphere, even during the stronger notes in the chorus. BEAUTIFUL MONSTER was driven by vocals melodies, which all complemented that pleasant atmosphere I just mentioned. However, their vocals were a bit soulless at times, if I am being honest. This did help those melodies pop out. But at the same time, it brought a dullness to BEAUTIFUL MONSTER, which one could describe as an aesthetic or unpleasing. As I like the song, I think it is more aesthetic, but understand why some people might say unpleasing or boring. Overall, BEAUTIFUL MONSTER does a decent job of being different. It may not be a riveting piece for some, but I thought it was a memorable piece for the group.

BEAUTIFUL MONSTER is about a partner, who is both a beautiful person but also a monster, depending on how they treated the members (toxic, if you ask me). The premise of the video focuses heavily on the ‘beautiful’ side, with the sweet closes up of the members and shots of the members longing and reminiscing of their partner. But throughout the video, monsters pop up via the addition of post production cartoons. It was a cute and more pleasant way of showing an actual monster in this video, which works cleverly with the music. I did wish there was a stronger showing of the monster element, just so the messaging is a bit clearer. But a nice video to watch, nonetheless.

Just like the music video, the choreography offers two sides. The beautiful side were the smoother and more graceful parts of the routine. And the monster side, which the members depicted with their claw like hands and poses in the chorus. The contrast was nice and helped create a strong performance routine.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7,5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

[Album Review] IM NAYEON (1st Mini Album) – NAYEON (TWICE)

Majority of the post this week will be album reviews, as I am out of town and have decided to take a break as well. As a result, I have scheduled a bunch of album reviews for this week – through to the start of next week. So prepare yourselves for the onslaught of album reviews. First up is NAYEON’s self-titled debut mini-album, IM NAYEON, which was released in June of this year. Leading the charge on this mini-album is the title track POP!. There are an additional six tracks on this mini-album.

M NAYEON is another fairly decent album release. I also feel that this description of the mini-album could be applied to her debut, as a whole as well. There are a few strong tracks, like the last few mini albums I have reviewed. I might be able to be persuaded to include the title track in that grouping as well (but I won’t change my original rating just yet) But overall, IM NAYEON was average, at best. Let me know if you agree with my thoughts or not.

IM NAYEON Album Cover

1. POP! (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of POP!. (7/10)

2. NO PROBLEM (ft. Felix of Stray Kids) – I am completely in love with NO PROBLEM. The English lyrics to NO PROBLEM are one aspect of this track that I am totally enjoying. Another is the electro-pop instrumental. It was just so vibrant and there was a nice disco vibe coming from the song. The same vibrancy is aided by Naeyeon’s vocals, which just gave the song an extra pop of freshness. The melodies also add to this. Felix’s deep voice appears in the bridge and his rapping helps offset the brightness of the song, allowing NO PROBLEM to feel balanced. I also liked how his featuring is not kept to just one section of the song, allowing him to contribute to the closing moments and give NO PROBLEM some depth. (10/10)

3. LOVE COUNTDOWN (ft. Wonstein)LOVE COUNTDOWN stays in the realm of pop. The instrumental feels a bit punchier and bouncier with a lively beat and percussion, while the melodies are more pleasant and mellow. NAYEYON’s vocals brought a nice colour to the track, while Wonstein’s featuring adds a bit more bite to the song. His rapping brought a dynamic factor to the track. Again, I liked that he is not constricted to one section of the song. Wonstein, although subtly, provides harmonies to the second choruses and adds ad-libs to the final chorus. A neat track, overall. (8/10)

4. CANDYFLOSS – Just like the title, this song features a dousing of sugar. NAYEYON executes this song perfectly, with her bright and sweet vocals shining throughout. Even though the song does go down that saccharine path, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I still found CANDYFLOSS to be quite a catchy and fun number to listen to. I find it hard to emerge from this song without smiling. (9/10)

5. ALL OR NOTHINGALL OR NOTHING enters R&B territory with its instrumental. It is fairly simple instrumental and brings a touch of extra oomph than compared to café style of music (but it is still pleasant enough to be heard in that type of environment). The vocals, whilst nice, do not really elicit much thought from me. I am not as drawn to them as I was with other songs on this mini-album. (7/10)

6. Happy Birthday To YouHappy Birthday To You follows a similar vein as the previous track. However, I note that there was a fair amount of synths throughout the track. To be honest, the synths felt a bit odd, to me. They sure brought texture to the song, but the abundance of synths felt unnecessary and I am unsure of their value in this song. NAEYEON had nice vocals, but again, she does not do much to captivate me nor elicit a response from me. The melodies felt plain, as well. (6.5/10)

7. SUNSET (노을만 예쁘다)SUNSET is more of a ballad. More importantly, I feel it is an improvement following the previous tracks. I really liked the breathy backing vocals and the harmonies that NAYEON and the backing vocals share. This combination helped create a soothing piece. There was a bit more to the song’s instrumental than your standard ballads and the swayable melody was definitely there. I am quite satisfied that the album ends on a more positive note (musically) with such a piece. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

IM NAYEON Teaser Image

[Album Review] SUGAR (2nd Mini Album) – YOUNGJAE (GOT7)

Youngjae’s second mini-album, SUGAR, released mid June is the next album to be reviewed. I think, by now, you can tell I am not sticking to any particular order for these album reviews. I am just posting the ones that I have completed, and so longer albums (i.e., those that are studio length) will be published later. For now, I will be looking into SUGAR, Youngjae’s latest mini-album release that features the title of the same name and four other side tracks. SUGAR (both the mini-album and title track) follows Youngjae’s debut mini-album Colors from Ars, and title track Vibin’, from October of last year.

As you can see, I didn’t review Youngjae’s debut mini-album. So I promised to myself that I would review a future release from Youngjae, subjected to the usual vetting process that I have for the album review segment of the blog (i.e. an initial listen to see if the album has much to talk about and/or is worth writing a review for), and I was quite satisfied that SUGAR was good enough for an album review following the vetting process. In addition to the catchy and fun title track from SUGAR, there are a few other strong tracks that I would recommend you tune in for when listening to this mini-album. Read on to find out which songs these are.

SUGAR Album Cover

1. SUGAR (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for SUGAR. (8/10)

2. FocusFocus carries forward the upbeat nature of SUGAR, this time mixing the likes of R&B and pop together to create a very satisfying track. I really liked how Focus didn’t feel heavy or serious. It has this laidback vibe and a fun tone to it. The energy, Youngjae’s vocals and melodies from Focus made me smile, and I also have a small boogie very now and then when the song hits just right. An instant favourite for me. (9/10)

3. Crema – Youngjae dives deeper into the R&B genre with Crema. Parts of the instrumentation feature a coffee house like vibe or dreamy orchestral, but other parts just have some extra bass that just doesn’t fit that environment. Regardless of which part of the song, there is still a nice upbeat kick to the song that helps the song not feel so dry. Youngjae’s vocals are smooth throughout the song. (8/10)

4. NothingNothing slows down the album slightly further with this nice track. While this song isn’t as great as the other, it was still extremely likeable and pleasant to enjoy. I really liked the swayable melodies of Nothing, and I liked how the orchestral instrumentation plays a bigger part in the song. Youngjae does a fantastic job with his vocals, providing a warming and comforting pillow to rest your head on whilst listening to this song. (8/10)

5. With You – With the continuous slow down of momentum as the album progressed, it came as no surprise to me that the final song on the album was a ballad. This is the type of ballad that I found myself sitting extremely still and had my eyes closed to really take it all in, particularly when it came to the chorus. That is another sign of a good ballad, in my opinion. The orchestral instrumentation, which is the main player in the background this time around, was beautiful. And Youngjae was so captivating. With You is my pick for hidden gem on this mini-album. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

SUGAR Teaser Image

[Album Review] DOUBLAST (2nd Mini Album) – Kep1er

Next album review on the blog is for Kep1er, who made their comeback back in June of this year with DOUBLAST. It features the title track Up! and four additional side tracks. This comeback is their first one ever, following their debut with WA DA DA and FIRST IMPACT from very early on in the year.

The latest mini-album was a fairly decent one. There are a few strong side tracks, but the rest of the mini-album was more average. But even if I found it decent and average, you might enjoy the mini-album more than me. So don’t be shy and give DOUBLAST a listen yourself to see if you agree with my thoughts or not.

DOUBLAST Album Cover

1. Up! (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Up!. (7/10)

2. LE VOYA9E – For some reason, I had in my mind that LE VOYA9E was going to be some sort of dance track. I have no idea where this misconception had come from, but I think it was based on the spelling of the song’s title. Instead, LE VOYA9E was a very gentle and soft song, with acoustics and a sparse use of synths bringing the song to life. I found LE VOYA9E to be quite unique, with the whispery delivery in the chorus. Elsewhere, the vocals were quite lovely. (8/10)

3. AttentionAttention opens up with synths that reminding me of the jungle environment, setting up the song to be appropriate for the summer season. As the song progresses, this jungle like reminder is forgotten. But it is replaced with a dynamic and upbeat pop instrumentation that has a nice cute and likeable quality to it. Attention does feel straightforward, but it was done really well. I also enjoyed this number and recommend it anyone who is looking for a Kep1er song. (9/10)

4. Good NightGood Night is a more soft and pleasant pop track. I quite liked the youthful and vibrant side of the vocals in this song. Both the instrumentation and vocals helped make the song enjoyable. But when you compare it to the preceding tracks, Good Night doesn’t really offer anything new, interesting or exciting. (7/10)

5. RewindDOUBLAST finishes off with a mid-tempo ballad. Rewind is the album’s most generic release, as this style has been done so many times before. What Kep1er does manage to do to make it their own is through nice vocals and melodies. But it isn’t the most riveting release from the group or from this mini-album. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

DOUBLAST Teaser Image

[Album Review] MANIFESTO: DAY 1 (3rd Mini Album) – ENHYPEN

ENHYPEN’s latest mini-album, as you could have told from the review for their second single from the release, is next up to get an album review from me. MANIFESTO: DAY 1 was released in July of this year, and serves as the group’s second comeback of the year. The first was Blessed-Cursed, from the repackaged version of their first studio length album. Anyhow, back to their more recent releases. It features a total of six songs, including the title track Future Perfect (Pass the MIC), the single Paradoxx Invasion and four additional side tracks.

MANIFESTO: DAY 1, as an overall picture, was a decent album. The title track was the album’s weakest track, based on my ratings. Instead, the other tracks stand out. One of the side tracks became my highlight from the album (keep on reading to find out which one). The first and final tracks also serve as unofficial intro and outro tracks, which are common features of ENHYPEN’s release. I am specifically shining the spotlight on them, as they delve into deep topics, which might be of interest.

MANIFESTO: DAY 1 Album Cover

1. WALK THE LINE – Beginning the album is WALK THE LINE. This track features the members dramatically speaking in their own native languages of Korean, Japanese and English over a simple yet intense instrumental. The members speak and sing about their struggles whilst maturing, and how they come to realize that they are now the mature people who sets their own standards, relating everything to a line. A line once drawn for them, and a new line that they will draw for themselves. I like the meaning behind the track, but everything else was standard. (7/10)

2. Future Perfect (Pass the MIC) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Future Perfect (Pass the MIC). (7/10)

3. ParadoXXX InvasionClick here to read the full review for ParadoXXX Invasion. (8/10)

4. TFW (That Feeling When) – Glad to see they clarified the meaning behind the acronym. Hahaha… TFW is quite a change to their previous tracks on the mini-album, which were more hip-hop centric. TFW is much more mellow, featuring a consistent pop rock band instrumental. I enjoyed the combination of the beat and melody, which bought out a pleasant atmosphere. This instrumental also enable the focus to be on the vocals, which were quite solid. However, I just do not see anything special with TFW, just that it is a nice track. (7.5/10)

5. SHOUT OUT – The opening of SHOUT OUT does exactly what the title suggests, allowing the song to just feel right from the very start. It then settles for an early 00s emo rock vibe, bringing great and nostalgic energy out of the song for me (especially during the chorus, when the instrumental is the most full-on and head-banging worthy). If the instrumental hasn’t won me over yet (spoiler: it has), then what I describe next will do the trick. ENHYPEN’s vocals are a perfect fit with the genre, with the members perfectly executing their delivery and encompassing the energy of SHOUT OUT. Without a doubt, my favourite from the mini-album. (10/10)

6. Foreshadow – Again, we go through the three-language narration from the initial song to close out the album. This time around, the members express their uncertainty about the immediate future. They say their past is making sense and they know there is a future waiting for them. But the light that is supposed to guide them to that future casts a shadow over the immediate future, hence the uncertainty and Foreshadow title. It is an abstract way of expressing uncertainty, but a clever way nonetheless. The song aspect of this track was more riveting than the initial song and has a much better bite to it. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

MANIFESTO: DAY 1 Teaser Image

[Review] go UP – JAY B (GOT7)

GOT7 managed to remain a group, as evident through their GOT7 and NANANA comebacks earlier this year, even after the members going their separate ways. But since the members ventured to different companies, I have dropped the ball when it came to two members – JAY B and Yugyeom. Today’s review focuses on JAY B’s (sorry, Yugyeom fans, you got to wait a little longer) recent solo comeback, go UP, which is featured on his second solo mini-album Be Yourself. This follows his solo debut last year with Switch It Up, later comebacks with B.T.W (ft. Jay Park) and Sunset With You, and the recent signing with CDNZA Records.

go UP deep dives into old-school funk, with what I would describe as a fun and energetic track. To be honest, my knowledge into the funk genre is fairly limited (aside from some Bruno Mars, a few other well known hits that have topped the charts and the use of the adjective ‘funky’ when describing groovy numbers), but go UP manages to succinctly and straightforwardly sum up my understanding of the genre. It features slivers of brass, the plucking of bass guitar strings and an unrelentless amount of percussion to really bring the song to life. I believe this is all pretty standard of the funk genre, but it doesn’t change the fact that go UP is still a fun and enjoyable track, nonetheless. What really attracts me to the song is JAY B himself, who does a strong job of successfully encompassing go UP‘s energetic profile, by going through different vocal techniques to help aid the song’s liveliness. You have his usual raspy vocals that he has shown off in his R&B releases, but we get some really cool falsettos along the way (i.e. the verses) and some cool ad-libs (such as that final ‘yes‘ in the strings of yes’ from the second verse). Together with the instrumental, JAY B definitely makes sure that go UP‘s energy is the star of the track, and makes sure that you emerge from this song having a great time.

JAY B starts off the music video floating in mid-air at a port, observed by an older gentlemen and a younger boy, accompanied with the narration ‘This is how we are getting funky in Seoul, South Korea’. We then cut to the aftermath of a party, which JAY B is waking up from. I can’t help but think the older gentlemen and the younger boy are like some sort of guardian angel for JAY B, as they feel very judgmental with their plain expression as JAY B stumbles around. But they do not say no to a good time, as they join the crowd that JAY B attracts during the day time that gets bigger and bigger as the video progresses. And it is so good of a time that so many people getting high off that energy, causing that barge to lift up from the water, similar to the floating JAY B at the start of the video. Overall, I thought the video did a good job of bringing go UP‘s energy to life in a visual sense. And JAY B looks really good throughout the video. We also get to see some of his b-boying skills towards the end of the video, as well.

The choreography for this comeback was fun. Fun in both a movement manner and a expressive manner. I notice that some movements were stiff and small, but it looks intentional and helps give off an entertaining profile. His facial expressions were on point throughout the performance and gave off the impression that he was genuinely having fun. That shoe toss on the end was definitely just right for the performance, as well.

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

[Review] ParadoXXX Invasion – ENHYPEN

I am gearing up to review ENHYPEN’s latest mini-album, Manifesto: Day 1. But before I can proceed with writing and post that album review, I need to review the second single from the album that also got a music video and promotional treatment, ParadoXXX Invasion. Alongside ParadoXXX Invasion, the mini-album also featured the title track Future Perfect (Pass the MIC).

ParadoXXX Invasion follows the same veins of the title track in that it is a hip-hop track. But I am of the opinion that ParadoXXX Invasion could have potentially been a much stronger title track. Simply because I find ParadoXXX Invasion to be a more well-rounded track. But there would be a need for some changes to make it even better. The song brings forth a very old-school hip-hop type of feel that I feel is quite vibrant and powerful in its own right. The beat got me nodding along to the music and you can feel the unmissable energy coursing through the song. The hooks were catchy (more so than the title track), and ParadoXXX Invasion left a memorable ring in my head after the song is over. And I feel this song is better aligned with the Summer period in which it was released in. However, ParadoXXX Invasion isn’t exactly ready to be a title track just yet. The rapping was definitely executed well, but I think ParadoXXX Invasion could have had more substantial rap sequences to take the song to the next level, just so that hip-hop energy is very concentrated and more impactful. There was no bridge or peak to the song, which was a bit disappointing. The ending was just another repeat of the choruses we heard earlier in the track, with no added ad-lib or intensification to the instrumental (similar to my main complaints with Future Perfect). A bridge would have allowed the song to build up to that. But overall, the hip-hop energy is what sold me on ParadoXXX Invasion and its potential to be a better title track.

Given a few factors (namely the school on a truck beginning), I feel the concept of this music video is a ‘school’s out’ type of scenario. That is my guess. But regardless what is the official concept of the video, the music video for ParadoXXX Invasion did two things quite well. Firstly, it really encapsulated that hip-hop feel in a very cool and a not-in-your-face manner. I quite liked that, and it made it enjoyable to watch alongside the song. The second was that is shows off a very youthful side to ENHYPEN. Their visuals and energy throughout the video was quite refreshing. I feel this thanks to the fact that the music video felt a lot more carefree and freestyle to a degree. Some of the video is shot in a sunny outdoor location, but yet in a very industrial setting. Other parts were shot in the studio (i.e. indoor locations/alleyway) worked well with the song’s hip-hop roots (i.e., back alleyways and thrift-like stores).

The choreography was quite cool and vibrant. The hip-hop influences is also quite evident. The energy the members put in really paid off and made the routine very appealing to watch.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10