[International Song Reviews] TWICE, MONSTA X, Stray Kids & LOONA

It is another edition of the International Song Reviews segment. Last week, I posted an ISR consisting reviews for Ten, Jackson Wang, WAYV, Yuqi and 2PM. This week, I will be focusing on another set of releases brought to you by TWICE, MONSTA X, Stray Kids and LOONA. I am keeping this post to just four tracks today, rather than the usual five, so I can focus on some other things today. As this post have a lot to cover, let’s get started!

The Feels – TWICE

I listened to this full English song when the music video dropped at the start of this month. I didn’t think much of it then (and honestly I never returned to it until today). But I have to say, the ‘Boy, I know you got the feels‘ repeated one-liner hook is so damn catchy. It somehow gotten stuck in my head since that first listen, even though it was very much delayed. Anyhow, The Feels is a funky pop track, and listening back I am surprised I didn’t return to the track sooner. It is a very vibrant and colourful track, suitable for my personal taste and TWICE’s overall discography. I really enjoyed the energy that comes from it. The members sound fantastic, and I just love the elongation of the word ‘feels’ in that hook. My only gripe about the song is Chaeyoung’s lines in the pre-chorus. They just didn’t feel like a perfect fit. I liked the music video, but it isn’t that special. The theme seems to be prom-queens, but it seems to be more than that with the red carpet and stage sets. Regardless of what the theme is, The Feels music video is fun and pleasant to watch. For the dance, I thought it was great. Again, nothing special with it. But it works wonderfully with the music. (8/10)

One Day – MONSTA X

A month prior to the above song’s release, MONSTA X released another all English track titled One Day. Since then, the group has been confirmed for a Korean and Western comeback in the next two months, so do expect to see more of MONSTA X on the blog. Now, back to the song in question. One Day is an atmospheric yet simple synth-heavy ballad that I quite enjoyed. One Day really does a good job of presenting stillness and comes off as soothing and calming. The instrumental also comes off as dreamy. For the vocals (which appears to be the song’s sore point for some), I thought MONSTA X did a really nice job. I did think they could have pushed themselves more to be even more expressive, but their delicate tone and emotional touch fits the bill perfect for the song’s meaning and overall sound. The melodies were stunning, as well, adding to this. Both the song and music video features Shownu, who recently enlisted into the military. It was definitely nice to see him one more time. Unfortunately, Hyungwon was missing from the group shots for this music video for unknown reasons. For the music video, I liked the simplicity of the video as well. I also liked the mature visuals that the members gave off. They look good and somehow the mature vibes fitted in with the idea of the song being a ballad for me. (8.6/10)

Scars – Stray Kids

Knowing fully what Stray Kids is capable of, Scars is quite underwhelming for me. Coming off the high of their recent Korean comeback, I would have liked to hear something with the same level of impact and energy. But Scars didn’t deliver this. It doesn’t mean that Scars is a bad song, however. But it is definitely not their best. Scars was a pleasant EDM track – nothing more, nothing less. The members opted for a sentimental tones that sounds nice. But once again, nothing more, nothing less. Vocally, the sentimental tone came naturally and actually sounded quite good. Rapping wise, I thought it was plain. The EDM sound that Scars opted for attempted to add impact, but it more so fizzled out once that impact is delivered. Hence, everything came together to contribute towards an underwhelming and not-so-memorable track. For the music video, it seems like the members are running away (well, more so slowly walking) from ghostly apparitions. They seek shelter in a caravan and kick start a device that repels the ghosts during the night. Then, the story kind of repeats itself and doesn’t really resolve. I hope there is a second part to this, as I think it could potentially be an interesting story to dive into. The choreography for this comeback was quite good, fitting in with the sentimental and mature tones of the song. It doesn’t hit hard, but there was some intensity in the choreography that was quite satisfying to watch as well. (7/10)

HULA HOOP – LOONA

I was quite nervous to hear that LOONA’s company is in the financial red, which puts a massive question mark over the group’s future. But seeing LOONA still pumping out music is a bit of a reassuring sign. Mid-September saw the group release their first original Japanese single, HULA HOOP. It is a dance pop track that is very chirpy and energetic. Actually, in comparison to their debut track which I would say is the equilavent of this track (Hi High, if you are wondering), HULA HOOP seems to let its go a bit. Nothing wrong there, if I am being honest, but I do miss the certain aesthetic that we associate with the group when it comes to their tracks. I liked their vocals and the hooks throughout HULA HOOP quite a bit. They are fun and definitely cutesy. This isn’t usually my cup of tea, but as I always say, there are exceptions. The music video is very unique, with everything moving in an upward direction. I will give them points for that. But I also feel that the video overwhelms us with all the post production applications. It made everything feel a bit much. In the midst of all the overwhelming graphics, you can see a lot of throwbacks to the group’s previous releases through the images, outfits and props (including some of their pre-debut works). No surprises come in the choreography. I enjoyed the fun and energetic side of the song, and the synchronisation between the members makes the performance cooler (as always). (8.2/10)

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

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

Paint Me Naked – Ten (NCT)

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

Drive Me Home – Jackson Wang & Internet Money

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

Low Low – Ten & YangYang (WayV)

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

Bonnie & Clyde – Yuqi ((G)I-DLE)

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

With Me Again – 2PM

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

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

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

Perfect World – TWICE

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


Dreamers – ATEEZ

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


SUPERSTAR – SHINee

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


LMLY – Jackson Wang

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


Bubble Up! – Rocket Punch

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

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

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

Magic – TXT

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

Flavors of Love – MONSTA X

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

Back To You – Kun & Xiaojun (WayV)

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

Zoom – CN BLUE

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

Permission To Dance – BTS

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

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

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


Not Alone – SEVENTEEN

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


Kura Kura – TWICE

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


All For You – CIX

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


Film Out – BTS

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


Butter – BTS

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

[International Song Reviews] Jackson Wang & JJ Lin, The Boyz, AB6IX & Why Don’t We, Jun.K, WAYV

It is time for another post International Song Review segment. As promised last time, I would write the post as soon as there are five songs eligible for review (i.e. any song by a Korean or KPOP-related artist who has released a song in a non-Korean market). In this post for this week, I will be reviewing the collaborations between Jackson Wang & JJ Lin, the remix collaboration between AB6IX and Why Don’t We. I will also look at The Boyz and Jun.K’s recent releases in the JPOP market and WAYV’s return.


Should’ve Let Go – Jackson Wang & JJ Lin

Should’ve Let Go is a collaboration between Jackson Wang (member of GOT7) and JJ Lin (a famous Singaporean artist) and was released at the end of 2020. The biggest asset in this song are both Jackson’s and JJ Lin’s vocals. They sound stunning throughout the song with their raspy vocals. The melodies in which carry their vocals are so smooth and this makes the song even more impeccable. And don’t get me started when they harmonise with one another. Those sections are just blissful. Another really great aspect of the song for me is the R&B instrumentation. While I do describe the song as a ballad, the R&B roots are very prominent and give the song a little bit more appeal than a usual classical instrumented ballad would. Oh, and per usual, the ballad makes me sway along (Props to you if you know what that means). The music video shows two love stories. The first is a couple who have been together for some time. The male partner gets into college or a job that requires the pair to go into a long distance relationship. The female partner does not like this idea and chooses not to kiss him one last time before he leaves. The second story is of a high school crush. The male partner has a crush on the female and hesitantly tries to get close to her. One day, she drops a necklace and he picks it up. Using this as an excuse, he plans on confessing to her through a letter. But when he is on his way to the next day, he witnesses his crush accepting flowers from another guy. At the end of the video, we see what should have happened (i.e. the guy moving away hugs his partner as he leaves, and the younger guy makes his move earlier on). I have an interesting theory that suggests Jackson is the guy who moved away as all his scenes are on the bus (which was the mode of transport the guy was taking to move away), while JJ Lin is the high school guy as he is seen holding the necklace that the female character in that story dropped. I liked how the stories felt fitting for the emotional side of the song, and the ambience of the scenes that involved JJ Lin and Jackson were optimal for a ballad like Should’ve Let Go. (10/10)


Breaking Dawn – The Boyz

The Boyz made their return to the Japanese market at the end of February with Breaking Dawn. However following the confusion caused by Tattoo (their first original single in the Japanese market), I still feel like The Boyz, their company and their producers are a little confused with the Japanese market. Three quarters of Breaking Dawn is prosed in the Korean language, with the other quarter being in Japanese (and is limited primarily to the end of the song – i.e. half of the bridge and the final chorus). Moving away from the language confusion, Breaking Dawn is a okay dance track. It isn’t one that I am super excited about. It doesn’t really offer us anything different to what we know The Boyz for. The only observation I made in regards to the song that I felt was a substantial difference was that the vocals and rapping sound a lot rougher in Breaking Dawn, compared to their other releases. While I usually would be praising this modification in sound because I really enjoy textures in my song, its instrumentation is plain and doesn’t provide any dynamic backing to these vocals. The chorus was also okay. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t necessarily terrible. I would have enjoyed it more with better hooks and maybe a punchier instrumental piece to liven the song. The ‘Breaking Dawn‘ deep toned whisper that kick starts the chorus doesn’t really do achieve any of that. I feel like its whisper really sets the tone for the chorus, which resulted in it not being as dynamic as I thought it could potentially be. For the music video, I really like the visuals that we got. This includes both the visuals of the members and the sets in general. I really like how they used fluoro colours as the main colour palette of the video, which looked stylish and trendy. The choreography was pretty good. To me, it felt like a continuation of the same themes and style as their The Stealer choreography. They show off their performance skills in this routine and there is also that tinge of sexiness in the performance, thanks to the bending back move that kicks off the chorus and the outfits worn by some of the members. (7.3/10)


Fallin’ (Adrenaline) – AB6IX & Why Don’t We

While there is no music video for the collaborative remix for Fallin’ (Adrenaline) by AB6IX and Why Don’t We (one of the criteria a release usually must have to be reviewable), I still want to write a review for it. While the main differences between the two versions is simply the multi-language approach of the lyrics, I have classed Fallin’ as an International Song because it was previously released as Western single and this particular version still involves the original singers of the song. Why Don’t We’s version was already really captivating, thanks to its instrumentation. But I also have really enjoyed AB6IX Remix for a number of reasons. Firstly, I enjoyed the instrumentation of both. They are effectively the same background piece, with really thrilling drumming that really get the adrenaline pumping. Secondly, I really liked how AB6IX really fitted into this song and alongside Why Don’t We. There synergy really made it feel like this was the original version of the song. Thirdly, I really enjoyed the addition of the rap sequence that Woojin contributed as part of the bridge. It continues that momentum from the chorus and it didn’t ruin the integrity, structure or overall feel of the song. I wish that one day (after this pandemic) we will have the opportunity to see a live performance of this collaboration. Just imagine Why Don’t We playing their instruments in the background and bringing us a live performance of that adrenaline rush, while AB6IX throws in a bit of choreography that taps into that energy and vibe. Already sounds like a performance to watch out for. (10/10)


Hide & Seek, 1995 – Jun.K

A release that has probably gone under the radar for a lot of people is Jun.K’s most release Japanese release, Hide & Seek, 1995. The song dips its toes into that groovy trend that has been ongoing in the KPOP music scene, however still keeps a R&B profile. I quite like this combination. It might be a bit typical in hindsight. But it is a good listen, nonetheless. I really like Jun.K’s vocals in this song. His husky tone is used really well and his vocals in general feel really lively and upbeat. Interestingly, his more recent Korean release (30 Seconds Might Be Too Long) actually has a similar sound. But yet, Hide & Seek 1995 seems to sound like a complete turnaround in sound thanks to his brighter sound. The music video for Hide & Seek, 1995 actually looks nice. Through the short previews that you get when you hover your mouse over the thumbnails on YouTube, I thought it would be a dull video. But the post-production, including colours and effects, all really helps the video work in harmony with the song. It is also a stylish manner to make the video appear more energetic. Jun.K also had good chemistry with the camera, which also helped as well. I quite enjoyed it in the end. (8/10)


Kick Back – WAYV

Kick Back is the latest release from WAYV, the Chinese based unit of NCT. Kick Back starts off like your typical male group dance track. I did like the hefty momentum of the song and the percussion in the background. The song then progresses into the pre-chorus, which brought in some dramatic flair. They merged some classical instrumentation into the song and I found this part of the song to be the most engaging. Just before the chorus, we get a long note from Ten, a bit of rapping from Lucas and what I would describe as ‘sparks’ in the instrumentation. This transition felt quite smooth and really connected well with the catchy and repetitive chorus simply. I really like how amped up everything felt in the chorus, but I think it could have gone an extra mile (more on that in a second). Moving along, I also really liked the bridge of the song. The focus is more so on the vocals, which I think was a very strong aspect of Kick Back, and I really like it how the instrumental felt like an extension of the pre-choruses (which I have already mentioned that I enjoyed a lot). The rapping in Kick Back was more forgettable. I felt like this was a missed opportunity to have the rappers deliver a sequence with a little more power and dynamism to offset the ‘neutral gear’ that the song was stuck in. And that is something that I must admit really stuck out at me. While the song was good and what I have described Kick Back is quite positive, I can’t help it but think the song was ‘safe’ for the group. We did get a tease of an octane sequence at the end with a dance break sequence at the end. However, I would have preferred it more if the producers somehow integrated this into the song, rather than just sticking it at the end. I think this would have helped make the song a lot more appealing in the long run. Based on what I am reading, WAYV’s music video for this release is connected to past NCT and WAYV music videos. Watching the music video a couple of times for this review, I didn’t really catch any references to those videos. But maybe my mind isn’t working right today. But the video has good cinematography, which made the video engaging for me to watch. The sets also looked good. Their outfits felt questionable for me. Their choreography routine looks really cool. I really like the footwork that you can see throughout the video and their jelly leg move during the chorus. While the footwork does look easy, I am sure the balancing act they had to do at the same time on the other foot made it really hard. I also liked the subtle tinge of aggressiveness in the choreography. (7.6/10)

[International Song Reviews] MONSTA X, NCT 127, TREASURE, Mark Tuan, Jackson Wang

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

Last week, I covered some 2020 international releases that occurred in November through to January of this year. This included Chungha’s Dream of You, Baekhyun’s Get You Alone, Dream Catcher’s No More, Jung Daehyun’s Amazing and TWICE’s Better. This week, I will be covering another five releases including Japanese songs from MONSTA X, NCT 127 and TREASURE, and Western songs from Mark Tuan and Jackson Wang. For those who are wondering, I will be covering The Boyz’s Breaking Dawn in the next edition of this International Song Review segment, which will be whenever I can fill up the next post with five songs. Let me know of any comebacks by KPOP artists in international markets, so that post can be published sooner! (However exclude songs that already have a Korean version).


Wanted – MONSTA X

I personally didn’t enjoy this latest release from MONSTA X the first time I heard it. It felt like it was missing the surface of the instrumentation because nothing really stuck out at me. However, listening to the song a couple of more times really helped the song grow on me (which is the usual case for me) and that initial thought has left my mind. The song pretty much fits in with MONSTA X’s works. The verses actually felt very typical for the group, though I must say everything had a melodic tinge to it and is not as aggressive (but it was getting there). Even the rapping had that tinge. The chorus is where Wanted becomes quite dynamic and more interesting, thanks to its impactful bass and heavy synth usage. I really like the consistent thumping and the vocal work from Shownu and Kihyun throughout the section. Joohoney and I.M follows up with a bit of their usual rapping abrasiveness, before the focus moves onto Minhyuk and Hyungwon, and then it moves back to the already mentioned members. I do wish there was a bit more heft, especially when it came to the verses to make the song even more appealing and bring it up to par with their Korean releases. But overall, Wanted was a decent song to add to their choreography. The music video for Wanted was quite simple but cool at the same time. I really like how the video embraced an industrial look for the first part when the members are dressed in black outfits. The video becomes a little more sleek with their outfits infusing a little more colour that really stands out amongst the flashing lights and black outfits. The camera work is also commendable. The choreography looks good, but I didn’t see anything new or dynamic within it. (8.1/10)


Gimme Gimme – NCT 127

Gimme Gimme taps into what seems like a more intensified version of the EDM that NCT 127 is known for through their Korean songs. Just this version mixes in a more prevalent form of hip-hop, but also feels a little annoying thanks to that one whiny squealy synth that just sticks around for what pretty much felt like the entire song’s length. There was just so much of this synth throughout the song, it was pretty to not to notice it. In some of the parts that didn’t have the squeaky synth, the rest of the instrumentation made up for it by reincorporating the same sound just with different synths. If we were to take away the EDM and squealing synth, the members sound pretty good. They had to do a lot of competing to be heard over Gimme Gimme‘s instrumentation, but they handled it just fine. The rappers were super aggressive, but this worked out well as it gave the some some additional edge. Taeil, in particular, stood out with his vocals from the rest of the members, especially with that high note that just took the song to a new level. As for the music video, I felt it was pretty plain. SM Entertainment’s music videos have been quite top notch lately. But this felt like a let down. I am not keen on their outfits as it doesn’t feel as cohesive as it could have been with the warehouse like setting they are in. They do like stylish, but they just stick out. I did like the solo shots of the members and the various transitions between them. As for the choreography, Gimme Gimme lives up to the expectation that NCT 127 had set for themselves. It is very impactful, intense and powerful all at the same time. The dance break is definitely the peak of it, showing us exactly what we hoped to see from this high-octane song. (7.1/10)


Beautiful – TREASURE

This release caught me out of the blue. At the time when I discovered the song, I only found out that this was a soundtrack for the anime, Black Clover. Upon some further research, I found out today that TREASURE will be making their official debut in Japan at the end of March with Japanese versions of their title tracks and Beautiful. Beautiful taps into a more refreshing side of EDM, opting for lightness and pop, rather than going heavy handed with the synths and other instrumentation. In many ways, Beautiful aesthetically feels like an extension of TREASURE’s more pop centric Korean releases. The vocal work and rapping sounds pretty good. Nothing impressive from the group this time, but it works really well with the pop sound. There is no official music video or choreography for Beautiful that features the members (though this might change with an unannounced release of a music video between now and the end of March). Instead, the music video that was released was a little over a one and a half minute long video of the anime. So I don’t have much else to say about the video. Because of this, I have only decided to give a song rating for Beautiful. (8.5/10)


One in a Million – Mark Tuan & Sanjoy

We move away from JPOP for the remainder of this post, with the next artist is someone whom I haven’t actually reviewed any solo work for yet. I am talking about Mark Tuan, who has previously dabbled in solo work through a Chinese single (Never Told You, 2020). The song I am focusing on today is his most recent release, One in a Million, which features Sanjoy. It is also his first release since leaving JYP Entertainment. One in a Million delves into R&B, mixing up the genre with a bit of dance electronica. Together, the two genres combines to make the new song feel quite sleek and subtly upbeat. It is quite a pleasant combination and outcome for the two genres. I find Mark’s vocals to be quite interesting. He draws out his lines, giving the song a slow pace. That on its own isn’t my cup of tea. But in combination with the subtle upbeat touch, the vocal work surprisingly comes off as quite hypnotic and drives me to wanting to replay the song as there is an alluring charm to it. The music video that is released alongside One in a Million is a cute animation that fits well with the song’s lyrics and features two people who some might say are fated for each other. The video shows the girl leaving behind an umbrella behind at a convenience store. The guy recognizes the umbrella as hers (as it was the one that was opened in his face) and rushes to the station to return it to its owner. But unfortunately, fate at this instant does not want them to be together. When he arrives at the platform, she has already boarded the train. They get off at the same station and recognize one another. But this time, the rest of the city’s population doesn’t want them to be together. They both then run into each other a bar, with a happy relationship blooming from that point I presume. Mark and Sanjoy also feature in the video as the artists playing in the bar, and they seem happy to the new couple they are witnessing. (8.4/10)


Alone – Jackson Wang

Shortly after his departure from JYP Entertainment, Jackson Wang made the announcement of a single release unexpectedly. The single was titled Alone and is actually a Mandarin pop single. Based on the tone of the song, along with his vocals, you can tell that this is a hefty song. Alone lyrically shows his feelings about his life and journey thus far. Musically, it shows off Jackson’s versatility. Most of this songs thus far (that I can remember) have been dance centric songs. His works as a GOT7 member has been primarily in the hip-hop or pop domains. Alone is more so a ballad, mixed with some synths to give it is a modern and trendy feel. It remains consistently paced and neutral for the entirety of the song. The momentum comes through his vocals, which sounds really emotive. The raspy nature of his voice really shines and this just elevates the song to a whole new level. is also quite easy to get lost in this song, especially since it gets me swaying along quite early on (swaying is my self-made indicator of a good ballad for those who don’t know). The music video reflects the tone and lyrics of the song quite well. For the entirety of the video, he is alone. This makes perfect senses, especially as he sings about being alone on this journey. I am not completely familiar with Jackson’s life story. But it seems like there are references to a warming family (the table with an abundancy of food) and his time has a fencer (the Olympic rings), to which he left behind to pursue music and his career as a singer. His face is scarred and bruised, testament to the hard journey he had to endure along the way, as it isn’t an easy path. The end of the music video gives a little bit of advice to never give up on our own journey. It will be lonely and it will be hard. But if you enjoy what you are doing, it will turn out fine. (9.6/10)

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

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

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


Dream of You – Chungha (with R3HAB)

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


Get You Alone – Baekhyun (EXO)

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


No More – Dream Catcher

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


Amazing – Jung Daehyun

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


Better – TWICE

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

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

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


24H – SEVENTEEN

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

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

Overall Rating – 8.8/10


Oxygen – SNUPER

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

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

Overall Rating – 5.7/10


#GIRLSPKOUT – Taeyeon

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

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

Overall Rating – 7/10


Drive – NU’EST

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

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

Overall Rating – 8/10


Pretty Please – Jackson Wang & Galantis

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

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

Overall Rating – 9.3/10


[International Song Review] BTS, Sunmi, Wonho, WayV & EXID

It has been a while since I have posted a review for non-Korean songs by KPOP artists. The last post was published back at the start of July and this mainly featured Japanese releases. With several KPOP artists releasing songs in English over the last two weeks, I thought it would be a nice to sit down and review them now, rather than wait a few weeks (as the original intention was to knock out a few other reviews from my ‘To Review’ list. Joining BTS, Sunmi, Wonho and WayV’s English releases from earlier in the year and EXID’s very recent Japanese release.


Dynamite – BTS

The first release to be reviewed on this list is also most recent release. Without a doubt, you probably have already checked out Dynamite despite it only being dropped yesterday. Dynamite is a funky pop track, tailored for the Western music industry. It is a fun and vibrant song that focus purely on the members’ vocals. Jimin’s high pitched vocals were amazing and even the rappers showed off their vocal capabilities effortlessly. It is super addictive, with the ‘Like A Dynanana‘ replaying constantly in my head. I have no problems with this track, given that they hit all the right notes and made it super appealing – not just to Western audience, but also the average KPOP listener. As for the music video, we are thrown back into pastel land and similar sets to what we saw in Boy With Luv. I don’t mind that we have a similar copy to a past music video, given the current global pandemic. I just don’t want it to be the default for BTS’ happy, energy filled and funky releases. The choreography isn’t a central piece of this comeback, but it looks fiting for the funky side of the song. It is a little different from what we get from BTS usually, but given the vibrancy of the song, it works like a charm. (9/10)


BORDERLINE – Sunmi

Sunmi dropped the unexpected music video for BORDERLINE earlier this week, as well. While the song has been known for a number of years now (Sunmi has previously performed BORDERLINE at her solo concerts and released its lyrics in 2019), the song has yet to be formally released. It seems like Sunmi is keeping this song to herself for the time being. BORDERLINE is a self-penned English track, that has this slow churning momentum that plays on the more sensual side of R&B. This is definitely new ground for Sunmi and it is nice to hear something different from her usual retro sound. The lyrics also zone into her personal stuggles over the years, making this an extra powerful song for her and her fans. Her vocal style were an excellent delivery mechanism for these lyrics, as you can hear how much emotions are behind the song. For me, it also made the song more thought-provoking. The music video is quite simplistic. Sunmi and her dancers are dressed in black and perform a very aesthetic interpretaive dance routine. The background was simply shadows projected into a wall. Everything was dark and it was hard to make out their faces, which I would say is suitable for the meaning behind the lyrics. Overall, a captivating and immenseful informal release of a song. (9/10)


Losing You – Wonho

Ahead of his solo comeback next month, Wonho pre-released Losing You last week as the start to his solo career. It is all in English, which is why it is being reviewed here instead of its own review post. Listening to the song the first around when it was released last week, I was speechless. It is a very emotional number, so prepare yourself. Lyrically, Losing You is all about him willing to putting another person (lover, friend etc.) ahead of himself regardless of the situation. Whether the song is directed to a former lover, his fans or to his former group members is all speculation, but damn these lyrics are definitely heartbreaking and very moving. The song is a R&B ballad, made up of the simple combination of piano and soft percussion. Wonho’s voice stuns and leaves me in awe. You can definitely hear the emotions behind his voice. I really like the extended ‘You‘ that features in the bridge of the song. The autotune seems unnecessary, but it is bearable. The music video is another dark video, but it was quite captivating to watch. Throughout this video, he is very emotional and lost. Every setting we see him in depicts the reflective road he took while he was on hiatus. At the end, we see two different scenes. Wonho standing in front of a car, telling us that he is still willing to sacrifice himself no matter what happens in the future. But we also see him standing in the midst of a sea of lights, which looks like mobile phones, suggesting that he will return to the stage soon (with the support of his fans, WENEE). (10/10)


Bad Alive – WayV

Despite being a subunit of NCT members, I have actually yet to review any WayV releases. That should hopefully change when I do a dedicated International Song Review post for just WayV and their 2019/2020 Chinese releases (some time in the future). In the meanwhile, WayV did release an English version of Bad Alive, one of the songs from their first Chinese studio album. And since that is a predominately English version (with some Korean and Chinese mixed into it), it has landed itself on this list for a review. Aside from the question marks that I would like to throw against the lyrics, Bad Alive‘s instrumental backbone definitely has a lot of potential. There are a lot of textural synths and high intensity in this trap-influenced piece. There also seems to be some hip-hop influence in the song as well. When it comes to their vocals, I feel that their voices are rather tame. I wanted more intensity and growls from the members to match the harshness and roughness of the instrumentation. What we got was decent, but not that powerful. I did like the layering, as that was differey. But amped up vocals and raps would have been appreciated. As for the music video, it is definitely overloaded with amazing visual of the members. The emphasis of red shows the fierceness of the members and I think that aligns with the image that I have come to associate with WayV through their most recent comeback in China. The sets were boxes, but they seemed fine in this video. The worst aspect has to be the white/gold jackets they wore over casual wear. They don’t go together. As for the choreography, powerful and masculine. Definitely going hand-in-hand with the fierceness mentioned before. (7.5/10)


B.L.E.S.S.E.D – EXID

The werid thing about EXID is that while they are considered inactive in South Korea, the group still needs to regroup for Japanese promotions as they are still under contract as EXID. This is a very interesting situation. But I am not complaining, since we get to hear more releases from EXID! B.L.E.S.S.E.D is an enjoyable pop track filled with a feel-good vibe. I like the slghtly jazzy vibe that the brass brings to the song. When the chorus comes into the play, there is a little kick to it and it feels like an cute anime OST, which adds to that enjoyable factor. I also like how all the member’s voices compliment the style choices. This also applies to LE, who is known for her nasally and harsh texture. But she fits into this song fine as her approach isn’t too serious, matching the song’s feel-good vibe. However, I do wish that some of the hooks/melodies that were just spoken/shouted in the chorus were more dynamic. I just wished they were a little more melodic and sung. The music video just shows the members doing some ordinary things while looking pretty. Nothing that really captivating and interesting to be honest. The group shots were nice, but that was essentially it to the music video. (7.2/10)

[Special] Number 1 Songs from July 2019 to June 2020

I knew I have forgotten something. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was at first as I have been quite busy lately. But once I realized that I haven’t done a summary post for the Weekly KPOP Charts for the past year, I set aside time to get it done or else who knows when I will get this post out. Pushing my forgetfulness aside, I just want to send another repetitive thank you message. It has been four years for my Weekly KPOP Charts segment. Crazy, right? It has only felt like I just started it last year. 4 years, 204 post and a whole heap of attention to the segment this past year. I can’t thank you enough! Woo! So without any more delays, here are the top songs from each week between July 2019 to June 2020.


Snapping – Chungha
(1st Week of July 2019)

RPM – SF9
(2nd Week of July 2019)

Time Of Our Life – DAY6
(3rd Week of July 2019)
(4th Week of July 2019)
(1st Week of August 2019)
(4th Week of August 2019)

ICY – ITZY
(5th Week of July 2019)

HIT – SEVENTEEN
(2nd Week of August 2019)
(3rd Week of August 2019)

LALALAY – Sunmi
(1st Week of September 2019)

Devil – CLC
(2nd Week of September 2019)

Fear – SEVENTEEN
(3rd Week of September 2019)

Feel Special – TWICE
(4th Week of September 2019)
(1st Week of October 2019)
(3rd Week of October 2019)

Blind For Love – AB6IX
(2nd Week of October 2019)

Aight – Jung Daehyun
(4th Week of October 2019)

Abandoned – Brown Eyed Girls
(5th Week of October 2019)

Wonder Woman – Brown Eyed Girls
(1st Week of November 2019)

You Calling My Name – GOT7
(2nd Week of November 2019)

HIP – Mamamoo
(3rd Week of November 2019)
(4th Week of November 2019)
(1st Week of December 2019)
(3rd Week of December 2019)

Levanter – Stray Kids
(2nd Week of December 2019)

Psycho – Red Velvet
(4th Week of December 2019)


Thumbs Up – Momoland
(1st Week of January 2020)

Wannabe – Golden Child
(2nd Week of January 2020)

Good Guy – SF9
(3rd Week of January 2020)

Interlude: Shadow – BTS
(4th Week of January 2020)

Without You – Golden Child
(5th Week of January 2020)

Dun Dun – EVERGLOW
(1st Week of February 2020)

So What – LOONA
(2nd Week of February 2020)

Scream – Dream Catcher
(3rd Week of February 2020)

On – BTS
(4th Week of February 2020)

Red Moon – KARD
(1st Week of March 2020)

Wannabe – ITZY
(2nd Week of March 2020)

Kick It – NCT 127
(3rd Week of March 2020)

2U – Kang Daniel
(4th Week of March 2020)
(1st Week of April 2020)

Oh My God – (G)I-DLE
(2nd Week of April 2020)

Dumhdurum – APINK
(3rd Week of April 2020)

Not By The Moon – GOT7
(4th Week of April 2020)

Nonstop – Oh My Girl
(5th Week of April 2020)
(1st Week of May 2020)

Knock – ASTRO
(2nd Week of May 2020)

Can’t You See Me – TXT
(3rd Week of May 2020)

Fantasia – MONSTA X
(4th Week of May 2020)

Wing – Park Ji Hoon
(1st Week of June 2020)

Butterfly – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)
(2nd Week of June 2020)
(3rd Week of June 2020)

God’s Menu – Stray Kids
(4th Week of June 2020)

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

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


Wish On The Same Sky – MONSTA X

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


You Can’t Hold My Heart – MONSTA X

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


Fallin’ Flower – SEVENTEEN

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


100 Ways – Jackson (GOT7)

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


Revival – CIX

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

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

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


Bad Girl For You – EXID

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


808 – ONEUS

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


Fake & True – TWICE

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


My New World – CIX

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


Middle Of The Night – MONSTA X

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