[Review] Sugarcoat – AB6IX

As previously flagged, there is a lot to cover. And the past releases keep on growing as the days go by, so let’s chipping at those releases today starting with today’s singular review. I will be looking at some newer releases tomorrow and on Friday, so don’t worry. The first review today is for AB6IX’s Sugarcoat, which was released back at the start of October. It forms part of AB6IX’s sixth mini-album, Take A Chance. This comeback follows the release of 1, 2, 3 and SAVIOR earlier this year and a number of collaborations with Reiley for Moonlight.

The more I listen to Sugarcoat, the more convinced I become with the following conclusion – this is AB6IX’s weakest song to date. And that is saying a lot, given that I don’t remember all of their tracks from the top of my head, if I am being honest. But for some reason or another, Sugarcoat manages to just scream out that it is the group’s weakest song. Let’s break down the song to see why that is the case. The start of Sugarcoat was promising, with the light fade-in of instrumentation and a groovy base to kick off the song. I quite liked Daehwi’s vocals in the pre-chorus, as his vocals were much firmer and contrasted nicely with everything around it. And in the first instance, the chorus was was smooth and velvety (which contrasted nicely once again with the synths that make up the background), which is with thanks to the nicely done falsettos. But as Sugarcoat progresses, we never get anything new from the production. The funky instrumental simply repeats, with the members and the melodies forced to do the exact same thing to complement the repeating instrumental. The falsettos, though praised in that first instance of the chorus, was done so much throughout the song that Sugarcoat pretty much became overtly light and drifty. Again, I have praised songs in the past for this. But in this instance, this pretty much dulls the song for me. I wished Sugarcoat was grounded in some way. Usually, I would look to the rapping to do this, given that rapping tends to be a heftier and a more intense portion of a song. But because the song was so light and drifty, Woojin’s raps just couldn’t really override this. I have no doubts that he did a great job. I think the song could have used something meatier. In terms of trajectory, Sugarcoat is quite linear that the song doesn’t even peak. Even the dance break doesn’t venture far that the linear, opting for the same synths, rhythm and composition to the rest of the instrumental. Sugarcoat just hasn’t aged for me whatsoever. I pretty much have the exact same impression listening to the song today as I had when it was first released in October.

As for the music video, it is one of the videos that I don’t have much to say about. Half of the members are experimenting in the kitchen and lab, trying to develop the ‘Candy of Love’, while I think the other half are searching for it. Not really a riveting story, but it checks the box. The sets were colourful and neat. Their outfits were okay. I liked the denim and suit look. Not really a fan of that casual look that they went for – it was all pretty shaggy looking, to be honest.

The choreography aspect of this comeback was pretty good. I did like the mix of faster/sharper movements, and the slower/smoother moves in the chorus. This was clever and worked well with the lines in the chorus. The start was also pretty cool, though I wished that was kept for a routine which called for a lot more sharpness and intensity.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.4/10

[Album Review] A to B (5th Mini Album) – AB6IX

As I catch up on album reviews, I will be jumping back and forth a bit. And for today, I jump forward to mid-May, when AB6IX made their comeback with SAVIOR and their fifth mini-album, A to B. Alongside the title track SAVIOR, there are an additional four side tracks on the album. This release follows their January comeback with 1, 2, 3 and the special mini-album COMPLETE WITH YOU.

A to B is pretty strong effort from the group and is worth you checking out. There is one 10/10 song that I highly recommend from this mini-album, so make sure you find out which song that is by reading my thoughts of each song below!

A to B Album Cover

1. PARACHUTE – While there isn’t anything innovative with the percussion and synths of PARACHUTE’s instrumentation, I quite enjoyed its punchiness and the energy that comes from it. It starts the album in a positive manner. I also enjoyed the latter half of the chorus, where the beat is much tighter and amped up. The rapping sequence were strong, but it is the vocals that really stood out in PARACHUTE. The falsetto, in particular, were a memorable aspect of the song. On the other hand, however, the hooks were weak and could have been stronger. (8/10)

2. SAVIOR (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for SAVIOR. (7/10)

3. Sucker For Your Love (우리가 헤어졌던 이유) – As the song progresses, Sucker For Your Love became my favourite side track from this mini-album. It takes on a softer pop rock sound, ladled with a heavy dose of emotion (where the members regret breaking up and want to get back together with their former partners). Courtesy of Woojin, the rapping was awesome. The rest of the members put their vocals on display and sounded quite crisp in this song. My favourite part from Sucker For Your Love is at around the 1:40 mark where the drums become dominate and Woojin shares his line with Woong and Daehwi. (10/10)

4. EINSTEINEINSTEIN had an upbeat R&B sound. It was a fun and playful track, which AB6IX has done before. EINSTEIN actually reminds me of MXM’s (the duo which Donghyun was part of prior to debuting with AB6IX) work. But compared to the other songs on the album, it felt pretty standard and is the album’s most skippable track. There isn’t anything wrong with the song, other the fact it doesn’t stand out for me. (7/10)

5. We Could Love – The album closes out with We Could Love, but the members make it sound like ‘Weak Love’. I wish the two words were not merged together, as it has a completely different meaning. Apart from that, We Could Love acts as the mini-album’s ballad. There is a flowy melody to the track that I thought was very warming. And the members’ vocals (in combination with the melody) make the song sound so lovely. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

A to B Teaser Image

[Album Review] Complete With You (2nd Special Album) – AB6IX

I am now back with the album reviews after an intermission last week to focus on the remaining songs from last week’s wave of comebacks. I am hoping to get another two album review out tomorrow, but I Today’s focus is on AB6IX’s Complete With You, which is a special album release. It features the title track 1, 2, 3 and was released mid-January. It also features four solo songs from each of the members. A similar album full of solo releases from AB6IX dropped in 2019, 5NALLY, which I have reviewed if you want to check out other solo songs from the AB6IX members. I regard that album to be the AB6IX’s first special album, making Complete With You their second special album release since debut.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the review, you will notice a ‘recommended’ sticker has been added to this review. That sticker is there to show that I recommend this album (and any other album with the sticker) to everyone out there, as the album is of a high calibre and shouldn’t be missed. That essentially is what I think of Complete With You. The individual solo tracks on this album each showcase the strengths of each members and I was extremely satisfied whilst listening to the album. Even the title track was quite enjoyable and catchy, even after many weeks after its release! Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments section below!

Complete With You Album Cover

1. 1, 2, 3 (Title Track)Click here for the full review of 1, 2, 3. (8/10)

2. VENUS (Kim Donghyun Solo)VENUS is an ultra-smooth R&B track that just captivates. There are very strong sensual vibes throughout this song thanks to the instrumentation. Very different to his solo song from the 5NALLY album. In particular, I really enjoyed the guitar work in this song for highlighting those sensual vibes I just mentioned. Donghyun’s vocals also sleek and fits the sensual nature of this song very well. His rapping was also a nice treat, adding another dimension and powerful energy to Venus through its autotuned and roughened texture. Definitely a standout on this album. (10/10)

3. CONSOLATION (위로) (Park Woojin Solo) – It comes as no surprise to me that Park Woojin’s solo song would delve into the hip-hop genre. CONSOLATION’s flow is definitely the standout feature of this song and it showcases Park Woojin’s rapping skillset in a very strong limelight. I felt as if Woojin did not take a breath in this track and consistently delivered his lines without hardly a break! I liked how the instrumental of CONSOLATION kept a low profile (almost a fast-ish tempo lo-fi featuring a squeaky synth, which I did not mind) throughout, allowing the focus to be purely on Park Woojin. (8.5/10)

4. CRAZY LOVE (Jeon Woong Solo)– Aside from the title track, CRAZY LOVE is the other upbeat track on this album. It is more consistent from start to end and could have benefited from more variety within itself. The R&B instrumentation felt very ‘rinse and repeat’ to me. But what really saves CRAZY LOVE are the melodies that formed up the chorus. To me, they had a memorable and appealing ring to it, which made it very enjoyable and satisfying. Woong’s vocals also had this raspy approach, which added some additional depth to the song. (8.5/10)

5. IN YOUR EYES (너의 눈에 내가 보여서) (Lee Dae Hwi Solo) – Finishing up the solo tracks and the album is Lee Dae Hwi with IN YOUR EYES. The song takes the form of a ballad. What stands out in IN YOUR EYES are Lee Dae Hwi’s vocals. He sounds so soothing and definitely delivered the emotions that is being conveyed in the vocals. The melodies utilise Lee Dae Hwi’s vocals so well, adding extra sway to the song. The electric guitar to the song was also a nice touch, adding a bit of flair to the song. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

Complete With You / 1, 2, 3 Teaser Image

[Review] 1, 2, 3 – AB6IX

Also making their comeback on Monday was AB6IX, who returns with the new single 1, 2, 3 and special album, Complete with You. This comeback comes after AB6IX returned with CHERRY and MO’ COMPLETE (their second studio album since debut) in September of last year, and debuted in Japan with the Japanese version of CHERRY two months later.

1, 2, 3 is another fun and upbeat track that I quite enjoyed from Monday. It wasn’t my absolute favourite from the day in question, but it was definitely heading in that direction. Just like the song I had just reviewed, I find 1, 2, 3 to be wholesome and sweet, but these descriptors come about for different reasons. Put simply, 1, 2, 3 is a song dedicated to their fans (ABNEWs) and such feelings of wholesome and sweetness is a way the group is reaching out to their fans. I am quite sure the messaging and vibes from the song are making ABNEWs (and some potentially new listeners swoon over AB6IX). Personally, I am not as affected by this, but I still enjoyed the song nonetheless. I liked the funky pop nature of the song had. It, along with the beat of 1, 2, 3, was fun, upbeat and bright. What I thought made 1, 2, 3 even more likeable were the instrumental elements that gave the song a vibrant sense of colour. The guitar twangs in the chorus and brass in the post-chorus hook following the second and final choruses where the members became chanty with the ‘Let’s dance, 1, 2, 3, Let’s Dance, Left and Right‘ are prime examples of this. These are very typical when you think about it, but I thought they were well used in the song. The vocals and rapping quite solid, and were the main mechanisms to bring forth that wholesome/sweet combo. The bridge was quite cool, where 1, 2, 3 changes it up with a somewhat balladry-like approach. I liked how it wasn’t an extreme change to the song and how it cut the momentum briefly, but brought it back up for the final chorus. It also provided a bit of relief from the song, in case you felt the vibrancy and colour was a bit too much or repetitive, which I felt the song was also going towards. Overall, I feel that 1, 2 , 3 was another great and enjoyable song from AB6IX.

I was wary when I saw the ‘PERFORMANCE M/V’ part of the video’s title. I expected this to be a straight forward performance piece. But it ended up being a lot more. Sure, the performance plays a very prominent role throughout the video. But I quite like what else they did to the video. For example, I loved the curved corner rectangles at the start of the video and how it was used to introduce each of the members one by one. The black and white was also quite cool. The rectangles returned in a conveyor belt like use during the first post-chorus hook sequence. I thought this was a clever reuse of the style and pulls the video together nicely. Elsewhere, the video shows the different stages of preparing and going through with a serenade. When you consider the fact that the song was dedicated for the fans, I am sure an idea of a serenade from the members was given thumbs up. I just wished there was a bit more to the serenade in the video, as it seems a bit lackluster in terms of execution at least from my end and rushed to fit the song (maybe a brief interlude might have helped out).

Performance for 1, 2, 3 was great. The moves were relatively simple compared to their other releases, but they definitely worked well with the song. The whole chorus routine was quite fun to watch, and I liked when the later part of the sequence where the members move in a X shape just before Donghyun’s solo moment in the chorus. It just added a bit of sharpness to the routine.

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

[Album Review] MO’ COMPLETE (2nd Studio Album) – AB6IX

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Another September album is up for review, almost three months after its release! The album in question is AB6IX’s MO’ COMPLETE, which is the group’s second studio-length album since debut. It was released on 27 September 2021, features the title track CHERRY along with nine other new songs, and wraps up the MO’ COMPLETE series from earlier this year. This is also the group’s third comeback of the year, following the release of Stay Young (featured on SALUTE: A New Hope) and CLOSE (featured on MO’ COMPLETE: HAVE A DREAM).

MO’ COMPLETE Album Cover

1. SHOWDOWN – Opening the album and SHOWDOWN is a crowd, something that I feel is sorely missed over the past two years. Continuing that high was the abrasive and heavy electronic synths and beats in the instrumental, which definitely packs a punch. And that translates into intense energy from both the instrumentation and the members, who definitely do an amazing job of creating hype energy. SHOWDOWN definitely is a strong start to the album. (8/10)

2. LEVEL UP – Funkiness is the backbone to LEVEL UP, which is another fantastic song with great energy and a fun appeal. The chorus to LEVEL UP was definitely the highlight of the song, concentrating all the energy into a one stop shop moment for the song. It was also very catchy. I can’t help but dance to this song. Woojin’s section in the second verse also caught my ears. It was extremely vibrant and different to what I am used to. My only gripe about the song is that pedestrian light sound that you get in the verse. I did not like its presence and found it annoying. But overall, LEVEL UP is a recommended track! (9/10)

3. CHERRY (Title Track)Click here for the full review of CHERRY. (8/10)

4. DOWN FOR YOU DOWN FOR YOU jumps onto the Latin-pop trend. For the most part, the Latin-pop trend as pretty much died down with the occasion release. DOWN FOR YOU definitely brought on a mature feel and vibe for the group, as evident by the energy exuded from the song, sultry instrumentation and the heavier nature of the vocals and raps. While I found the instrumentation to be quite bold and ‘loud’, I liked that the members stood out above it.  Balance is key, and I think AB6IX nailed it in this song. I also liked the buildup during the bridge of the song. It was definitely satisfying. Another strong number from the group. (9/10)

5. DO YOU REMEMBER (그해 여름)DO YOU REMEMBER tones down the energy a bit and heads in a R&B direction with the combination of piano and tropical instrumentation. The instrumentation gives off a traditional style, but it also brought a lot of nostalgia to me. The melodies of DO YOU REMEMBER also adds to the nostalgia. Elsewhere, the aesthetics that come off the track is so stunning, and the vocals had so much emotion behind them, and I loved the contrast between the whispery style of the first half of the chorus vs. the bolder and louder exclamation of the second half of the chorus. The rapping was also well executed and added the right amount of heft to DO YOU REMEMBER. Overall, DO YOU REMEMBER comes off as one of the best tracks on this album. (10/10)

6. STAY WITH ME (사라지지 마)STAY WITH ME was a vibe and an experience. I really enjoyed the atmospheric tone of the instrumentation in the verses, while the chorus had a very pleasant groove to it (which compliments the rest of the instrumentation). The rapping and vocals were so well done. I really liked the delicate tone they had opted for the vocals, and the slower speed at which the raps were delivered, which all contributed to a heartfelt sound that was so inviting and appealing. Also adding to the appeal of the song was the harmonization between vocalist and rapper during the chorus, which I found to be very unique. Overall, another standout track on this album. (10/10)

7. BELIEVE (믿어)BELIEVE brings the group back to their house roots. I was reminded of their debut track when I heard the intro to BELIEVE. But as the song progresses, a lot more is packed into the instrumentation creating a very hefty instrumental piece for the chorus. But this seems to be the star attraction of the song, with the melodies and hooks not being as strong as per the other tracks. They are still good, but not great. I wished there was stronger focus on these aspects to make BELIEVE better, as there was some potential behind the trajectory of the instrumental. (7/10)

8. OFF THE RECORD – The playfulness of OFF THE RECORD stands out. It feels like a neat follow up to the title track, with a similar playfulness shared between the two. I did like the melodies and the harmonization with the backing vocals in the chorus. But for me, the overall style isn’t my cup of tea. It is a bit sweeter than how I like it, and so I found a hard time getting into OFF THE RECORD. (6/10)

9. SIMPLE LOVERSIMPLE LOVER tackles deep house, and further brings the group back to their house roots. I liked how substantial the track felt, and dynamic it turned out to be, even though it seemed to also be a bit typical at certain points. I like the vocals in this song, especially the ad-libs we get at the start. The chorus also had a nice grooviness to it, which I liked. Woojin’s rap sequence in the second verse seemed to be infiltrated with pings and glitches, which I thought was pretty interesting. (8/10)

10. 3’’3’’ ends the album with some good vocal work and rapping. But I thought the instrumental was pretty boring. There is a positivity tone to it, which was nice. But the instrumental didn’t offer anything new or interesting for me to dwell on. And so, the album ends on a disappointing note, which is quite unfortunate. (5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

MO’ COMPLETE Teaser Image

[Review] CHERRY – AB6IX

One of the comebacks kick starting the final week of September 2021 is AB6IX’s CHERRY. This new single is the latest from the group and is featured on their second studio length album, MO’ COMPLETE. This comeback follows the release of their fourth mini-album from April of this year – MO’ COMPLETE: Have a Dream and its lead single CLOSE. It is also their third comeback of the year, which makes this another busy year for the group.

Right off the bat, AB6IX blasts us with CHERRY‘s colourful energy. This sets the tone overall and continues on throughout the song. It isn’t an overwhelming blast of energy though, which was great. Personally, I probably would have taken the night off and avoided dealing with two overwhelming songs in one day (more on that in my next review – to be posted tomorrow). CHERRY‘s bright energy follows on from The Answer, one of AB6IX’s comeback tracks in 2020, as that too was quite an upbeat and funky comeback for the group (in comparison to their previous releases). However, CHERRY is much more concentrated when it comes to the funky direction they had chosen to go with. I quite like the chorus, but probably not for the reason you would think of. It was definitely dynamic, especially when it comes to the member’s delivery, matching the energy we got from the instrumentation. However, the scene-stealing element was the ‘YUM‘ in the chorus. It was so straightforward and serious, which made me laugh. Not exactly sure if that was the intended effect, but it made the song memorable for me. What I also enjoyed was how the members also brought out that dynamic tone to the verses and bridge, making CHERRY a very satisfying listen. I felt that the verses could have been very plain, but the dynamic delivery definitely liven up the sections in question. The post-chorus following the first and final choruses was probably the weakest element of the song in my opinion. I felt that they toned down the energy by the slightest amount, which felt noticeable to me. I wished they just continued the momentum and had a stronger hook in this part, which I am sure would have CHERRY even more memorable. Overall, CHERRY was a great song that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The music video was quite fun and colourful, just like the song. I wished there was more to the video however, as it is just a bunch of closeups and choreography. They seemed to hint at something more with the members staring off screen at some parts, as if their crush had just walked past behind camera. It was a nice detail to add to the video, but I think it would have been better with an actual person on-screen, kind of like GOT7’s A. I did like the extra graphics they had in the background for one of the choreography shots, and the various effects we saw throughout the video.

The choreography for this comeback is definitely energetic and intense (in the sense that it is continuous and doesn’t offer many moments to catch your breath). I particularly those air punches they do just before the choruses and their expressions on stage make this performance even more interesting to watch.

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

[Album Review] MO’ COMPLETE: HAVE A DREAM (4th Mini Album) – AB6IX

As I have mentioned on my blog several time this week, I will be focusing my effort on reviewing albums this week. This is all in a bid to help me catch up on the many albums that I should have reviewed weeks (or months, in some cases) ago. First up on this album review influx is AB6IX’s 4th mini-album, MO’ COMPLETE: HAVE A DREAM. The mini-album was released alongside their title track, Close, at the end of April, which makes this album review two months over due (sorry!). This release follows their 3rd mini-album, which was later repackaged into Salute: A New Hope (headlined by the title track Stay Young). As you can imagine, I have a lot more work to do. So let’s just get right to the album review.

Album cover for MO’ COMPLETE: HAVE A DREAM, AB6IX's fourth mini-album. The album is rather simple, with a pale teal background and all writing in a cream colour.
MO’ COMPLETE: HAVE A DREAM Album Cover

1. HEADLINEHEADLINE opens up the album with bold sounds, via its use of bass, house elements and funky influences in the instrumental. It is a great opener and sets up the album on a very positive note. When it comes to the vocals, they quite strong, which is suitable for the song. It brings it on par with the instrumentation. The melodies and hooks in this song are also quite catchy. I wish the rapping had a bit more oomph to it. I do like Woojin’s technique, but I think his section could have gone further than what it did, in terms of energy and dynamism. (8/10)

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

3. LULULALA – Next up is LULULALA, a pop track that feels just right for the summer season. Aside from being upbeat and fun sounding (which is everything you want in a summer song), the song is also a great platform to showcase the vocals from each of the members. In particular, Lee Daehwi’s vocals were superb in this song, working extremely well with the rock influences that made up the pop track. For me, this is my favourite song on the album. I liked the rapping here, as opposed to the first song, as it worked well with the rest of the song. (9/10)

4. MERRY-GO-ROUNDMERRY-GO-ROUND continues the same sound from the previous song. But it isn’t as energetic and as Summery as the previous song. The song tones down that energy and this gives off a very standard type of feel. While I do like the energy that the electronic influences in the instrumental especially when we got to the chorus, there isn’t really much to the song in terms of appeal. As a result, I put MERRY-GO-ROUND as the weakest song on the album. But that being said, it was still a decent song to listen to. (7/10)

5. A LONG WINTER A LONG WINTER is probably the outlier on the album. It takes form as a R&B song, with a rock band instrumental. This in particular was a highlight for the song, as it spoke to my personal tastes. It was also nice to ease out the album this way, which was full of energy. A LONG WINTER had a good showcase of vocals and rapping, as well. Overall, a soothing ender to the album. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

AB6IX poses in white shirts whilst brushing their teeth in this teaser image for the release of MO’ COMPLETE: HAVE A DREAM.
MO’ COMPLETE: HAVE A DREAM Teaser Image

[Review] CLOSE – AB6IX

Also making their comeback today is AB6IX, with the release of CLOSE marking their return. CLOSE is featured on the group’s fourth mini-album, Mo’ Complete: Have a Dream. We last heard from AB6IX through their repackaged 3rd mini-album, Salute: A New Hope and the title track Stay Young in January of this year. This also coincided with the release of a remixed version of Why Don’t We’s Fallin’ (Adrenaline) earlier this year as well that AB6IX and the original artists collaborated with for.

CLOSE is a promised return to deep house, a style that ABNEW and other avid AB6IX listeners may find familiar. For those who are not familar with this group, deep house is the style of EDM that AB6IX debuted and followed up with during their debut year (Breathe and Blind For Love) before embarking on a year of different sounds. CLOSE starts off with twinkling synths and warped effects, before heavier synths and percussion come into play. I find all of this contribute to a somewhat brighter and lighter tone than their earlier works. It is an interesting dynamic for the group. I like how refreshing the members sound in the first verse. The pre-chorus is also quite intriguing, as the members come together to sing the sequence together. This too adds to the refreshing tone of the song. For the chorus, CLOSE delves into the more traditional routes of deep house. But layered on top of that are deep textured synths that added an electric touch to the centrepice of the song. For the second verse, the highlight here is Woojin’s rap sequence. The energy he brings to the song resembles AB6IX’s early days, which is what the song is aiming for. Great success there. For CLOSE‘s bridge, I really liked the delayed return to the final chorus. It was a clean transition that added tinge of suspense to the song. It was also reminiscent of Breathe. For the vocals of the song, we saw a solid showcase of them throughout the song. I do think they could have been a bit more dynamic on the hook front to make CLOSE a little more memorable. But overall, CLOSE is a nice return to roots for AB6IX.

While the music video feels like it is a mixture of different scenes, I think the video is fairly straight forward. From what I could tell from the lyrics, a lot of the song is about not worrying about getting lost when you are in the dark. I assume they are referring to the dark moments in life and feeling lost then in the song. But AB6IX portrays this as the darkness you get when you close your eyes when you sleep, which I think is a clever way of presenting this in a visual manner. We see the members sleeping and then waking up in very different locations. But as the lyrics suggest, everything will be okay. We see the members find each other and then a way out of this dreamland. It is a pretty cool video when it comes together like so. I am not sure about the floating rock we get at the end, whether this links up with another video in the future or if there is a detail hidden in the video that I didn’t catch.

The best part of the choreography for CLOSE is the pre-chorus. I really like how Donghyun in the first verse and Daehwi in the second verse interacted with the other members in the pre-chorus sequences. It looked cool and worked really well with the music. For the chorus, nothing felt out of place. Everything was just clean. I also really like Woojin’s rap sequence, which fitted in so well with his image. It also added some intensity to the performance, which was some icing on the cake for me.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[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)

[Album Review] SALUTE / SALUTE: A New Hope (3rd Mini Album / 3rd Mini Album Repackaged) – AB6IX

This is one big album review post. AB6IX made their comeback way back in October 2020 with SALUTE, the title of both their 3rd mini album and title track. Originally, SALUTE‘s album review was going to be published at the end of December/early January, as did most of the reviews for the albums released in October and November 2020. But when I caught the news of an impending comeback with a repackaged version in January, I ultimately decided to hold off the album review. Today, I will be fast-tracking the album review and posting my thoughts of both the SALUTE mini-album and the SALUTE: A New Hope repackaged version in the one post. Altogether, there are 13 tracks. Two of the song were instrumental versions of the title tracks and another two were rearranged versions of two of their past songs (Surreal from VIVID mini-album and Blind For Love from their 6IXENSE studio album). The rest of the 9 songs are new and will be dissected below.

1. APRICTYAPRCITY is a pretty straight forward song. It serves as the opener to the repackaged version. The song features a pleasant level of energy and this promises a lot for the rest of the album. But aside from being a nice pop track, there really isn’t anything that really stands out for me. Maybe the repetition of the title during the chorus, but I don’t think the repetition was enough to make APRICITY one of their best tracks on this album release. (7/10)

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

3. ENCORE (ft. ABNEW) – For those who don’t know, ABNEW is the name of AB6IX’s fanclub. Given that ABNEW is featured in the song (they chant the ‘Encore’ in the chorus), this is going to be one of those pop songs that are dedicated to fans. ENCORE felt touching and heartfelt. You can hear the smiles on each of the members’ faces and happiness that gleams off their vocals and rapping. I will admit that it is a bit slow for my liking, but it is hard to fault a song that is meant to be for their supportive and passionate fans. (8/10)

4. Mirror – Right off the bat, the album is pumping energy and intensity with Mirror. It is definitely a powerful song that is full of EDM. Some of it mimics the breakage of glass, while other parts give us a taster of what is to come in the title track. It is definitely a song that is ‘full on’. Personally, I don’t mind Mirror as the opening track of the original mini-album. But I would understand why some people might say Mirror is a bit much. Aside from the music, the group handles their vocals and rapping in this song really well. (9/10)

5. SALUTE (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for SALUTE. (7/10)

6. Heaven – Following two powerful songs, Heaven opts for something softer and more melodic. It is definitely a big relief. It is a bit of a typical track for my liking, but it was still enjoyable. I do note that there is some similarity between Heaven and SALUTE, despite being two completely different sounding songs – the potential to be epic. The backing of Heaven features what seems like choir vocals. This could potentially lend to an epic stage performance (provided that it sounds a bit tighter). Heaven also allows us an opportunity to focus more on their vocals, which had a cheerful tone to it. (8/10)

7. Maybe Maybe follows Heaven and opts for a hip-hop influenced instrumentation during the verses, before developing into more a pop track in the verses. I liked how it started and wished they explored more of it, rather than opting for the pop influence. There wasn’t anything wrong with it. It just felt a bit typical. While Maybe lends well to showcase the vocals of the group, Woojin’s rapping sounds awesome and manages to steal my attention from the vocalists. He blends well into Maybe’s pop sound with his deep voice. (8.5/10)

8. Bloom – Out of all the side tracks on this mini-album, Bloom is my personal favourite. If you know me, I am usually drawn to more vibrant songs and Bloom is definitely a strong example, Bloom had everything from colour, energy and youthfulness in its house styled dance instrumental. On a side note, the house style music also reminded of their previous comebacks. The vocal work and rapping were on point and helped deliver all of the above to make the song even more appealing to me. (10/10)

9. Behind YouBehind You is the mini-album’s mandatory ballad. It is definitely an outlier on this mini-album, but it serves as a very nice and soothing ender to the album. My self-made indicator of a good ballad was activated and I was swaying along to the music. The classical instrumental was typical, but it was amazing to listen to. And the vocal work was stunning, especially when it came to Lee Dae Hwi’s ad-libs. Personally, I felt Woojin’s rapping to be the weakest moment of this song. I don’t think rapping was the right delivery mechanism in this song, which would have helped make this song even super meaningful to their fans. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

[Review] Stay Young – AB6IX

The first group to be reviewed this week is AB6IX, who made their return with Stay Young today. This new song is the title track off their repackaged version of their third mini-album, Salute: A New Hope. Previously, the group made their epic comeback in October 2020 with SALUTE, via the mini-album of the same name. I have yet to publish my album review for SALUTE. Originally that was going to come out past new years. But as soon as I heard that the quartet was gearing up for a comeback with a repackaged version, I thought I hold it back to include the new side tracks. That should hopefully come out by the end of the month. In the meanwhile, here is my review for Stay Young.

First impressions of the song is that is very different to the grand and epic nature of SALUTE. If I were to compare the two song side by side, SALUTE would be ‘bold’, ‘powerful’ and ’empowering’, which I am sure are words that many listeners would use to describe that number regardless of whether they enjoyed the song or not. Stay Young would definitely be described as ‘toned-back’, ‘delicate’ and ‘warming’, which are without a doubt in a completely different league. The song itself is a dance track that employs a unique combination of textures, classical instrumentation and bouncy synths. It almost felt like a throwback to their title tracks during their debut year which featured a heavy presense of the house genre. Stay Young features a trendier and refreshing mix that makes the song sound more appealing than straightforward house. The textures and classical instrumentation also bring a differen dynamic to the song. I liked how the producers of the song go for a very nice change in textures towards the end of the song, by bring a touch of guitar, squeakier synths, and the re-employment of the textures that I already mentioned. It definitely makes the song more interesting and brings a fresh wave of energy to end the song in a satisfying manner. The bass in this song is also commendable. Woojin’s rapping was definitely quite strong and complimented the song’s bolstering buildup. Their vocal work was quite nice, but it felt best during the chorus. The vocals in the verses were forgettable. But overall, Stay Young is definitely a decent track overall that I am sure fans will enjoy. Props to their slightly different direction, yet still calling it back to their roots.

From what I got from the lyrics, the song is all about staying indivualistic by staying young. I just wished that message was slightly stronger in the music video. But from what I could understand, the theme park was closed, yet the members still managed to get into the theme park and have some fun. They reference that this could be seen as a rebellion, but they see this as being young. I had a slightly more confusing interpretation which invovled the letter flying backwards and the flower in Woong’s hand while they emerge from apocalyptic setting. But I don’t think it is as strong, felt muddled and might make it confusing, which is why I have left it out. I would like to know any theories/interpretation you might have that involve these scenes, as they do feel a bit random. Aside from the messaging, the video actually felt quite nice. The lighting really helped warm the video up. The setting brings about a nostalgic feeling, while their outfits add to the warmth of the video. Good choices, overall.

The choreography was quite good. I found it to be quite enjoyable to watch, especially when it came to the choruses. There was a vibrant blast of energy in the choreography that really help strengthen the song. I also liked how they played with the song’s slight textural change at the end, which made the performance more captivating and fun (depending on which way you look at it).

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

[Review] SALUTE – AB6IX

Yesterday, we saw the return of two groups. And I will be reviewing both releases today (Sorry once again for the day late reviews – I may have overnapped yesterday…). First up on the reviewing block is AB6IX’s latest release, SALUTE, which is featured on their third mini-album of the same name. This comeback comes after the group moved to a four-member lineup and released The Answer and Vivid.

Opening SALUTE up is this very epic thumping marching band sequence that hypes the song up. Unfortunately, it felt like a standalone piece when it was followed by the trap-based first verse. All that energy that the introductory sequence had managed to create within the opening sequence had dissipated suddenly into thin air and in place was a generic first verse that had no momentum. It would have been nice if they continued to channel that energy somehow. I did feel that the introductory sequence matched up with the brass-heavy chorus nicely, both working hand-in-hand with their own epic vibes. I liked the theatrics that they used and the simplicity of the ‘SALUTE‘ and ‘Come and get me. Come get it‘ repetition. They followed up the chorus with another generic second verse, but it contained a really pleasant surprise. That surprise was Lee Dae Hwi rapping, which was a standout moment for the song. The rest of the members didn’t seem to stand out as much, which is slightly disappointing. To me, the instrumental (bad or good sides) overpowered their presence in the song. So far, it seems like I have a mixed view on the song. SALUTE ends in a more positive manner, with the final chorus changing up the momentum by mixing in some more EDM with the brass-heavy chorus. Overall, I feel that AB6IX was going in an epic direction with SALUTE. It felt lacking in some reasons, which dulled the potential epciness of the song.

What the group did nail were those decorated military-like outfits and use of the marching band in the video, which seemed very fitting for both the introductory sequence and chorus. It also works with their fierce and confrontational visuals, which does compliment the song. It definitely makes for an awesome concept. I liked how clean the sets felt (not visually, but aesthetically). I personally didn’t like their use of the upward perspective. I know many groups do use it in their videos, but I felt that there was too much of it in this video.

And like the music video, the choreography has their fierceness to it that I am sure will make other groups very jealous. The concept suits ABI6X so well, which was most evident during the performance. I really like their military-like transition to get into formation during the chorus and the entire ending-sequence definitely had this powerful energy to it that I really enjoyed.

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

[Review] Beautiful Scar – Lee Eun Sang ft. Park Woojin (AB6IX)

When I think all the members of X1 had made their re-debut in some capacity, another member pops up with their new release. The next former member of the now disbanded project group to debut is Lee Eun Sang, who debuted earlier this week as a solo artist. He is currently signed to Brand New Music, the home of famous Korean hip-hop artists, AB6IX and BDC. His solo debut, Beautiful Scars, comes roughly one year after X1 made their debut with Flash.

Beautiful Scar is a R&B hip-hop track, which is pretty much no surprise to me, given that this is Brand New Music’s forte. The instrumental is quite heavy thanks to the bass and serious nature of the song. It does lack character and personality, as it feels pretty typical and alike any other R&B hip-hop track. There really isn’t anything ‘new’ about Beautiful Scar that we haven’t heard before. Interestingly, I am not too troubled by the consistency of this song. By being consistent, Beautiful Scar ended up being sophisticated, refined and mature. However, I was lowkey expecting a change up or a breakdown along the way that still fits the mature R&B hip-hop nature of this song. I felt like that would have given the song that much needed flair and allow Lee Eun Sang to show off his character a little more, let it be in song or in performance. I guess Park Woo Jin’s featuring was the mechanism of this, as I thought his rapping delivery and flow was really good. They was a captivating energy coming from his section alone and I would personally seek out this song for Park Woo Jin. Though, this is a bit harsh for the main artist of the track. However, I do think Lee Eun Sang did a pretty decent job with this as his solo debut track. His vocals are solid throughout Beautiful Scar. His debut song just lacks that mentioned personality and also some strong hooks/melodies that would make the song bold and memorable.

The song’s sophisticated and refined profile was brought over into the visual aspect of this comeback. The music video is just this and I really quite enjoyed it. The hotel lobby was a really good choice to shoot in and the lighting during his scene was on point. I also liked the darker sets in which the choreography shots were also shot in. There seems to be some symbolism throughout the music video, such as the butterfly and a kaleidoscope. Not sure what these mean exactly, though I assume the kaleidoscope is in reference to the fake love he experienced (i.e. nothing he looked at was what it seems). Also thumbs up for Park Woo Jin’s featuring the music video as well. You probably know that it is my wish to have featuring artists featured in the music video. It just makes the whole experience better. Though in this case, I guess featuring artists are a lot easier to invite if it is done in-house.

Lee Eun Sang does not look nervous during his first performance. I applaud him for that, especially since it has been almost a year since his previous debut and he has had a lengthy break in between. Plus going solo is always a big step in one’s career. As for the choreography, I really liked the whole routine. It wasn’t anything too crazy. But it looks refined enough to still be impressive looking.

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

[Album Review] VIVID (2nd Mini Album) – AB6IX

Despite the departure of their leader just prior to their original comeback date, AB6IX has managed to adapt well to the sudden change in their lineup. While they did delay the album release to re-record their songs and alter their choreography to fit the current four member lineup, the group pulled through this comeback without any issues. It looks like they have wrapped up their promotions already, but it is never too late to have a deeper drive into their album. Today, in addition to talking about each VIVID side track individually, I will be discussing the promotional potential of other tracks. What do I mean? Keep on reading to find out!

VIVID Album Cover

1. Red Up – Kicking off the album is the hip-hop influenced Red Up. During my initial listen of the song, the hip-hop influence during the verses and the inclining buildup we get in the pre-chorus gave me an impression of a really strong and impactful drop when it came to the chorus. But I was caught by surprised once we reach the chorus. Rather than being a hard drop, I found Red Up’s chorus to be sleek and trendy, thanks to the subtle impact brought on by the horns. It is very unexpecting, but I liked it quite a lot. I would have enjoyed the ending more they have incorporated something to add a little excitement and resolved the ‘repetitive’ issue that hindered the song’s appeal. The song itself was quite rap heavy, all of which was delivered by Woojin. He had big shoes to fill and he managed to do it all quite well. (8/10)

2. VIVID – If I had my way, VIVID would have been promoted on stage and potentially have taken over Surreal’s position as secondary promotional track. I really liked the whispers at the start. It was memorable and definitely got me intrigued to continue listening to the song. The song is quite punchy and had a decent level of excitement to it. VIVID answers one of my desire for the title track. It isn’t a direct continuation of that house sound we got from their earlier works, but I would say it is still in the vicinity. Each member also shined, which makes complete sense to promote the song. Woojin’s deep raps, Dae Hwi’s vocals, Woong and Donghyun’s falsetto in the chorus are just prime examples of them shining in this song. (9/10)

3. THE ANSWER (답을 줘) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for THE ANSWER. (8/10)

4. Surreal (초현실) – Under my imaginative plan for AB6IX’s promotions, Surreal would have served as the title track for VIVID (the album). Overall, it was a smoldering song which would have suited a mature look. And I believe that AB6IX really had that potential to nail such a concept and song. I really like the pounding nature of the instrumental. It is unique and very refreshing. I liked how they didn’t lose the song’s intensity, keeping it going throughout the entire song. I like the huskier and raspier vocals that the members had to bring to the song. This really compliments the darker atmosphere of the song. I would have liked the song to have a little more to it towards the end. It lacks a powerful climax to really bring the song to a close. It just continued going with the momentum from the start and to me, it just doesn’t feel finished. (9/10)

5. Midnight Blue – The song starts and ends with some acoustic guitars in the background. But the instrumental for everything in between just went with a pop sound and lost that acoustic guitar touch. It does peek through the instrumental at times, but it wasn’t the prominent feature to give that song a ‘dynamic’. I would have liked for the song to continue with that acoustic touch. It would have been an interesting appeal and Midnight Blue could have played with some cool dynamics. I did like the vocals and rapping in this song. Each member really shined in this song, like the rest of the songs on this album. (8.5/10)

6. Hold Tight (끈) Hold Tight feels like it is the most typical track on this album by today’s standards. But this doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. I didn’t necessary get any special feelings towards the song. But there was a really good energy that makes it suitable for a dance club or party like environment. There was some decent intensity throughout, and I felt that the song really fits into AB6IX’s discography. Vocals and rapping were pretty good as well. I just found the song to lack that uniqueness that separates it from the rest of the pack of side-track releases from other artists. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

VIVID Teaser Image

[Review] THE ANSWER – AB6IX

Screenshot of AB6IX in The Answer

It is time to catch up on those Monday reviews from yesterday. The first for today (and the third from yesterday overall) is AB6IX with THE ANSWER, which is featured on the group’s second mini-album, Vivid. This is also the group’s first comeback with a four member lineup, after Lim Youngmin departed the group after a DUI incident at the end of the last month. This resulted in the postponement of the comeback, which was originally scheduled for the start of June, so that the remaining members could rework their comeback to fit the altered lineup. Let’s see how the group fairs as a quartet.

AB6IX’s previous two songs, Breathe and Blind for Love, both had a very distinctive house sound to it, which really helped form the group’s solid first steps into the industry. But it seems they step away from that and enter more trendy areas of music with THE ANSWER, which conforms to the trendy mashup of a funky style and trap. While I would have liked them to keep to their original sound in some capacity, THE ANSWER is definitely a great segue into a different area of music. The song is quite upbeat and colourful, which brings a completely different atmosphere to the group. It is definitely less moody and more lighthearted, which helps makes the song more enjoyable especially for the Summer season. There seem to be hip-hop vibes in the song, thanks to the various melodies that the group employs throughout the song. I personally don’t mind the bulk of these and thought they blended well with the new sound. The only hook that I wasn’t completely satisfied with was the pre-chorus. It should have had the strongest and punchiest hook of the song, but it ended up bringing a sluggish feel. Something a little bolder or powerful would have really helped give the song some of that much-needed impact. The same thing could have said about the backing of the Woojin’s rap sequences. His delivery was quite good, but I just wished the backbone was a little more captivating. Overall, it is a good song to reintroduce us to AB6IX. While this might be a step into other genres of music, I wish that their company will allow them to revisit their original sound in the future.

You may notice that the music video for features all five members. That is because the company decided it would be too difficult to re-shoot the music video and hence Lim Youngmin would be edited out instead, whilst the songs and album would be re-recorded. To me, I find this a bit cruel for both Lim Youngmin and his personal fans. I personally would have preferred to wait a little longer for a music video with just the remaining four members. Aside from that topic, the music video was quite colourful to match the upbeat atmosphere of the song and the Summery season. It did capture a playful and youthful side of the group. But overall, it was rather boring for me. There just wasn’t much else going on in the video aside from choreography and closeups (its that formula again).

I am unsure of the situation, though it seems like Woojin is still injured. During the more intensive sections of the performance, he would walk off stage instead of joining in. When he is present for the final chorus, his moves seem a little stiff. I am not complaining about his lack of participation, though. I am actually more impressed that they still found room for him in this performance, rather than making him sit in a chair on the side (which is the case for most injuries). I also like the playfulness of the performance, especially the human swings formed by the backup dancers and members for Daehwi and Woong.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Album Review] 5NALLY (1st Special Mini-Album) – AB6IX

I take a break from the usual reviewing schedule to bring you the next album review (I know this isn’t Friday or Sunday, but it is a special album review). Over the last few weeks, AB6IX have been releasing music videos for each of their members. Each music video accompanies a solo track off the group’s latest digital mini-album, 5NALLY. I thought about how I wanted to review this as an album, or whether I thought I treat them as standalone releases. But then, I thought why not both. So I will be reviewing each solo track as I have been doing in Catch Up Reviews, combining the song, music video and performance reviews into one paragraph.

5NALLY Album Cover

Moondance (Jeon Woong Solo)

With all the members of AB6IX, I most unfamiliar with Woong as he is the new member of the group that we didn’t get to see prior to the debut of AB6IX. Moondance is a R&B track that packs a punch during the chorus. It starts out as a soft number, but quickly bring the thumping drums into the mix as the song builds to the chorus. The entire track becomes very dramatic in its sound and this allows for an amazing seductive dance sequence (more on that later). His vocals were superb in this song. Particularly, I draw your attention to the really low husky whispering tone we got for the bridge, followed a return to the chorus but with autotune to give the ending some texture. Altogether, the song definitely opens my eyes to Woong’s future as both a solo artist and as part of AB6IX. The music video is really aesthetically pleasing. I really liked the glowing moon the producers made Woong dance in front of, the furniture in the dark room with the floor covered in water and the really reflective dance floor. All these sets had a place in the video and were well utilized post-production of the video to make it extremely captivating. As hinted in an earlier sentence, Woong’s choreography for Moondance is quite seductive. I mean, Woong was grinding on the floor for like 30% of performance. When Woong wasn’t grinding on the floor, he did a damn well job on the performance, which used many smooth and fluid motions that made it look stunning. (9/10)


More (더 더) (Kim Dong Hyun Solo)

Kim Donghyun is one of the vocalists of the group and More shows off his vocals in a decent manner. I was caught off guard with Donghyun’s rap-speak section at the start of the second verse. Maybe something that could be used in some of AB6IX’s tracks? The pop song employs some synths to keep it modern and relevant to the current trends in the industry. But we aren’t talking about huge drops and heavy bass. Everything is kept relatively light and pleasant in this song, which reflect well with the sweet nature of the lyrics in the song. Come to the think of it, this is the polar opposite to what AB6IX releases, and I thought this was rather interesting. More had some good hooks that was pleasant, but none of them really grabbed my attention and this resulted into the song being easily forgotten. As for the music video, it looked very fluffy. And once again, it would be the polar opposite to any AB6IX’s music videos. Dressed in a pink suit and white turtleneck; hugging a teddy bear. I would never guess this would be a track from one of the AB6IX members. I did like ‘sets’ in the music video, namely the church and theater they performed in. They looked cool. The choreography was quite good. I liked chorus routine and how it matched up with the lyrics. Nothing that impressive but still pleasing to watch. (7.8/10)


Rose, Scent, Kiss (Lee Dae Hwi Solo)

Lee Dae Hwi is one of the more popular members of the group, given his time as part of Wanna One. One thing that Rose, Scent, Kiss highlights is the maturity behind his voice and an ability to go quite deep. Together, this made Lee Dae Hwi’s solo track stand out. The instrumental is very crunchy, which matches the texture that we get from his deep voice. The instrumental fuses trap and pop together in a rather typical way. But you can definitely hear the attitude behind it, which really helps draw further attention to this voice. I really enjoyed the Rose, Scent, Kiss whisper, which reminded me of fellow Wanna One’s member Park Ji Hoon’s 360. The music video opens up with Lee Dae Hwi’s monologue about moving between the age of 19 and 20. The rest of the music video was rather dynamic despite following the typical choreography and closeup formula. The dynamic nature of the video was thanks to Lee Dae Hwi’s captivating expressions during his closeup shots, the amazing set design, the flashing patterns in the background on the screen and the lighting throughout the video. I thought the choreography was great. I liked how Lee Dae Hwi is able to show off his own style in this performance and he isn’t afraid to show off some (what usually would be considered) feminine moves. (9.3/10)


Break Up (좋게 끝내) (Lim Young Min Solo)

Lim Young Min is the lead rapper in the group. But he also as an impressive set of vocals, which I don’t remember being used all that much in AB6IX’s tracks. Break Up takes on R&B, but it a lot more upbeat compared to R&B style that Jeon Woong opted for his solo track. Alongside his vocal work, his rapping is on point in this song. I did like the piano that made up part of the instrumental. It really help drive that emotional side of the song, which is all about breaking up. I just wish the song was a little more interesting. I wished the song didn’t stay overly consistent towards the end and I wished they added some sort of texture in addition to that high pitch synth that opened the song and appeared periodically. The brief pause at the end was going in that direction, but I wanted a bit more. The music videos seem pull elements from one another. Lim Young Min’s music video featured the water floor that Woong had in his video and brought along the cube structure from Lee Dae Hwi’s (Kim Dong Hyun’s music video featured the sofa and lampshade from Woong’s music video). But I liked how they managed to infuse some individuality to the music video, namely the phone booth, the use of the city imagery and the sports car. The choreography was good, but I wanted to see a bit more in the music video. There was a sensual side that Young Min was going for that was good, through the many body rolls. But that was all I could pick up from the stuff I saw for this track. (7.8/10)


Color Eye (Park Woo Jin Solo)

Alongside Lee Dae Hwi, Park Woo Jin is the other member that everyone knows of due to his time as part of Wanna One. Color Eye is probably your typical rapper solo song on a group album. The song delves into hip-hop and features both Woo Jin’s well known rapping style and the autotuned singing. To be honest, I found Color Eye to be a little lackluster in terms of suspense and was rather dull. There wasn’t much of a buildup to the song’s peak and it was fair too consistent for my liking. The instrumental was the more exciting bit, featuring a music box like sample, which gave off an eerie sound at first. I just wished they built upon this. The music video features that square screen that we saw in Young Min and Dae Hwi’s music videos. But this one flashes lights and patterns more aggressively. The post-production in this music video makes the video look very edgy and ‘dark concept’. I liked how they never really put Park Woo Jin into the spotlight, which does reflect well with the song. Park Woo Jin doesn’t seem to participate in the choreography, assumingly due to his injury. So I am going to forgo this part of the review for him. (6.8/10)