Before we launch into the new week, I just wanted to cut down my catch up load with one more review. And it is a review that I should have written weeks ago when the release was first dropped. Yes, that should be the case for all the releases. But have you seen the caliber of the two artists that have joined forces for this particular release? AKMU and IU, mega digital topping artists? With big names like that, I don’t know why I have avoided reviewing NAKKA, the title of their collaborative single. NAKKA is also featured on the recently released AKMU album, Next Episode (the duo’s second mini-album), serving as the title track of the release.
NAKKA is an electronic track, tapping into the synthwave subgenre of electronic music. From a casual listen perspective, I would have said that the song didn’t offer anything new and felt plain at best. But NAKKA (and synthwave in general) is a song that you really need to sit down and listen to really appreciate what it is offering. For example, I felt that I could have missed out on the aesthetics of the song and the abundance of textures on top of the sleekness of the song, had I just listened to the song whilst doing other stuff. I would have missed out on the vocals from the members of AKMU and IU herself, which were aesthetically monotone and grey in colour (but when paired with the instrumentation, they really popped out). I would have missed out on a lot. And all of this resulted in a captivating and charming track. I do wish that NAKKA had a bit more bass to it. In its current form, I would have to say the everything comes together decently. But I feel that some additional bass would have taken NAKKA to the next level. As mentioned before, the vocals (standalone) aren’t something to rave about. But they were delivered in a such a way that was aesthetic and hypnotic in combination with the instrumentation. I particularly really liked Changhyuk’s part in the bridge, where there was autotune to give his vocals a choppy texture. It, along with the ‘Ba da bum‘ hook, were probably the song’s most memorable sequences for me. I do feel like they could have made IU’s featuring parts more noticeable, as that would have been a positive selling point. But I kind of also understand that they probably didn’t want to do that to avoid her ‘overwhelm’ the song with her usual higher tone. Overall, NAKKA is one to sit down and really dig into, as there is a lot to discover.
From what I got in the lyrics and the story told by AKMU in the music video, the song was about the fact that no matter what life throws at you, there would be people around to support you. Changhyuk falls through many holes and spends most of his time in the video in freefall. His sister, Suhyun, helps him in the end (after sitting at the edge of the hole and reassures him that everything will be fine), which sends him back up to the party which started off the video. The scene that gets me the most is the one of the level he falls that contains a bunch of little kids, whom I assume are people who fell through and didn’t have someone to help them back up (it explains their sad faces). I also assume that they are young, mainly because ‘falling’ isn’t something that happens with age and that kids will also have their troughs in life, just the same how adults would as well. I would have liked to see IU feature in this video, though.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 10/10 Overall Rating – 9.4/10
We take a little moment to steer away from this week’s comebacks and focus on a comeback from last week. Once again, I apologise for the week long delay for this particular review. It somehow just got away from me.But back to introducing the focus of today’s review – Lee Suhyun, who made her solo debut last Friday with the single, ALIEN. If Lee Suhyun is unfamiliar to you, you might recognise her as one half of the sibling duo, AKMU (Akdong Musician). Lee Seehyun’s brother, Changhyuk, is the other half of the musical duo. While her brother is not performing with her, it looks like he is working with others to write and compose songs for her. It seems AKMU will always be a pair.
ALIEN takes on a funky disco profile, something that has been trending in KPOP a lot lately. If you are becoming tired of the re-emergence of the retro trend, then maybe ALIEN would be an eye-roll to you. But Lee Suhyun’s take on the genre is quite pleasant and refreshing. ALIEN isn’t oversaturated with the trend and it actually feels held back quite a bit. Holding back in this sense makes the song feel more refined and gives it a modern, despite the disco influences still being prominent. I also felt that holding back from going full on vibrant and powerful retro was done so to compliment the delicate nature of Lee Suhyun’s vocals. Her breathy vocals take the song to the next level and she slips into this falsetto style which really adds to that refinement I mentioned. I also find the chorus to be super catchy and the melodies throughout the song to be enjoyable. Everything comes together to be quite pleasant. However, I find the song lacks something. While it has been out for a week, I haven’t really gone back as much to the song as I hoped for. A theory behind this lacking element could potentially be a stronger and more defined climax. What we good was consistent and logical, but I think something with a little more oomph could have given ALIEN extra mileage and appeal.
Lee Suhyun is super cute in this music video. Visual game aside, I really like how it is revealed that Lee Sehyun is an alien (just like her mother told her so in the lyrics). The music video constantly changes between a human form and a comic form. This conversion made the video appealing and a little more interesting. It allowed for the ‘Earth saving mission’ storyline to be incorporated alongside the increase in self confidence that she experience once she is aware of this secret (i.e. she plays the arcade game in her room and then later on in the public arena). Another clever and well thought out video.
Lee Suhyun focuses more on the live vocal aspect of her performance, which meant she had to forsake some of the performance aspects. I would have liked to see more energy behind her moves and sharpness. It is her first time as a solo artist, so I understand why she would nervous and stiff. Hopefully as time goes by, she feels a little more comfortable. I raise this because I felt that the performance had some attitude and I wished it was reflected in her moves.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 7/10 Overall Rating – 8.1/10
It has been over two years since we last heard from AKMU but they have finally made their return. And despite making their comeback only just 4 hours ago, the duo (consisting of Changhyuk and Suhyun) has already topped the charts with How Can I Love The Heartbreak, You’re The One I Love (hereafter Heartbreak). The last release by AKMU that I reviewed was Dinosaur, which is also their last release prior to Changhyuuk’s enlistment in the military. We can now expect more AKMU releases in the future due to his return.
Since my introduction was very focused on the return on Changhyuk, let’s turn our attention to his beautiful sounding sister, Suhyun. Her voice is very airy in Heartbreak and this makes her voice sounds so perfectly captivating, fitting for the emotive ballad (as you can tell from just the title of the song alone). I really like her voice in the moments leading up to the second pre-chorus the most. The instrumental disappears and gives us an opportunity to hear her vocals without any interference from the music. I also liked how she is at the forefront of the song, which is very surprising at the same time as the duo tends to have even line distribution. That being said, Changhyuk does an amazing job as well through his more limited sections in the song. He was there to help give the song harmonies that melt your heart. And those harmonies are perfection. Listening to Heartbreak, I can tell why they always find themselves at the top of the charts.
I have the feeling that my interpretation of the video will be different from some others. The female actress, whom we don’t see her face throughout the video, is facing the looming break up. The lyrics suggest that every single step she takes is a step towards that direction and that she is meant ‘to love it’ (i.e. her journey to heartbreak). Her presence on the boat seems to be in reference to describing her love is like an ocean (i.e. that she has a lot more to give) and she would only run out of love when the oceans dry up. Yet, notice how she is moving forward while on the boat, suggesting that she is still on the journey towards heartbreak. Changhyuk and Suhyun’s presence in the video is all about artistry. Changhyuk is a painter, while Suhyun is a musician. Both run into some trouble thinking about ideas. But both use the female actress as their source of inspiration to finish painting the blue picture that dominates the video and the lyrics to the song. They are steering the ship but it is the actress that leads their way, while on the ship. It is definitely a video that is up to interpretation. And this is my interpretation of the video.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9.6/10
AKMU has made an unexpected return with their Summer single, Dinosaur. AKMU previously made their comeback at the start of the year, with their second album and the title track, Last Goodbye.
For some unknown reason, I had always thought the duo would not go down the EDM route, like how every other group is doing so. To me, AKMU is more about individuality when it comes to their music. But I was wrong in my thoughts. While AKMU did go and conform to the EDM genre for this release, they kept their individuality and made it their own style. Even as an EDM song, they managed to strip the unnecessary synths and kept it very light. It was definitely refreshing and easy on the ears. The song itself is catchy and the build up to the drop was as simple as it needed to be. But what I loved the most was how they kept their well-known vocals pure and allowed it to shine through the instrumental. Many EDM tracks tend to smother the vocals into the background or lace the vocals with autotune to allow it to fit in with the rest of the song. But that didn’t happen here, which makes the song stand out to my ears.
This is another amazing video to watch. From what I can tell Chanhyuk is bullied due to his interests and Suhyun is a loner. The two are siblings and both use the power of their imagination to create a world for themselves, where dinosaurs and various different creatures exist. The dinosaur aspect was what Chanhyuk is obsessed about, while Suhyun’s mind created those fuzzy dust balls. This new world allows them to escape reality and have a little bit of fun without the judgement of others. The love how everything felt genuine when you watched the video. We already know their sibling love was real, so it makes the story behind the video even more real. I also got a little Stranger Things vibe from the music video, through the tent in the basement and the bikes that you see the siblings ride throughout the video. Even Suhyun was rocking a dress with a denim jacket, much like Eleven from the TV series.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 10/10 Overall Rating – 10/10
AKMU has finally returned to the stage after two years. It has been a very long time and probably every fan of theirs squealed when they learned of the news. I started to like them a lot towards the end of their last promotional run. It was somewhat disappointing that they did not make a comeback in 2015 (but what else do you expect from YG Entertainment?).
Re:Bye is a somewhat soulful and retro song. It has that classy feel to it and I really like that aspect of the track. Their vocals were superb in this song. I just found that they were limiting themselves a lot on the track. Chanhyuk’s rap just did not feel like that youthful or bright, for example. But I guess I am used to their more upbeat tracks. Actually, this song displayed a more mature side of the members. I just didn’t connect with the song like I wanted to. AKMU to me is a playful duo and this was the opposite of that. How People Move is a much better track in my opinion. From the very start, it was lively and upbeat. The song I would prefer any day. Of course, they sounded wonderful in Re;Bye and their past ballads, but I feel like How People Move showcased more of them than any other song. It was catchy and it actually made me want to bounce as I listening along to it. The opera mashup was amazing and completely different to what we hear often.
The music videos are pretty good. I do prefer the video for Re:Bye more than How People Move. The way they told the story in Re:Bye was completely in full. I got everything from start to end, which is pretty rare in my experience of understanding the plot for these Korean videos. It is made to look like the duo are sabotaging the “lead female” in the play. But in the end, the duo was trying to protect the lead female and catch the sabotager. How People Move was a more weirder video to understand. There were some fables that the video had going on in there that mashed up into a nice and bright video. The other half of the video was probably my worst nightmare. When Toy Story decides to hit back and scare the daylights out of you. I actually did like the sets in this one more than Re:Bye.
In terms of the dances, I like How People Move. Love the bouncing effect. My favourite out of all. It also suits their more lively and bright charms. It wasn’t spectacular or anything, but it fitted with the song pretty well. Re:Bye’s dance more of a classy feel to it but did manage to fulfil that youthful side of the duo pretty well.
Overall, I did like How People Move more. Re:Bye is still a song that you should check out, because it is still equally amazing. But which AKMU song did you like more? Vote below!!
Code: RED FONT – WINNERS BLUE FONT – HONOURABLE MENTION
BEST ROOKIE GROUP
2014, like the past few years, have seen so many new KPOP bands debut. So many new bands, so much that I have a really difficult job to select certain artists and also keep up with the old styles. 2014 saw the big 3 companies debut their own groups, but I have to be honest, the stand outs came mostly from the smaller companies. One group in particular stood out from the rest: Mamamoo. Harmony and totally different style from what we are used to. Honourable mentions go to GOT7.
The one song that is overlooked by everyone on the album is the instrumental. I freaking love instrumentals, and this year, KPOP decided to tease me with so many new instrumentals. That being said, this year the winner of Best Instrumental is Ain’t Nobody by Ye-Eun (Ha:tFelt). Honourable mentions go to Sugar Free by T-Ara.
KPOP = Singing. There for it is only right for this year to have an award for Best Vocals, right? Well, the winner goes to Ha:tfelt – Ye Eun (Wonder Girls). I was so amazed by here singing this year that it blew my mind, particularly her title track Ain’t Nobody. Honourable mentions go to IU (yes, I think most of us agree).
Many KPOP songs have many rapping parts. At the same time, rappers need some recognition. Though, I feel my choice this year could be a little odd, only one person (in my opinion) did a really amazing job. Junhyung from Beast did a wonderful job in Good Luck, 12:30 and the many songs he featured in. Zico from Block B takes Honourable Mentions.
Since 2013, many subunits have been on trend. Even though subunits have been losing trend, many bands this year debuted their own subunits. However, I think we should move away from the new subunits. Cause this year an old subunit wins. Orange Caramel steals Best Subunit with release of three different songs. Honourable mentions goes to Rainbow Blaxx.
The new trend for 2014. Collaborations between artists have been on the rise. This year though, if you were a KPOP fan for a while, you would know already who the winner is. Soyu & JungGiGo’s Some steals the show, topping the end of year charts conducted in South Korea and winning Best Song as well on the SBS Music Festival. Well of course they would win, considering that they SLAYED the charts. Honourable Mentions go to Sane and Raina’s collaboration, Midsummer Night’s Sweetness.
RISING STAR OF THE YEAR
This year there has been so many stars that have started to become more popular. The nominees tend to be bands that have debuted in the previous year, and with help of comebacks, started to become well known in the industry. I think for the first time ever, I am going to be honest and put forward two winners to this category. First of all, BTS say a boost in popularity and have become a band that I look forward to listening to. Second of all AOA saw new popularity with release of Miniskirt, Short Air and Like A Cat. Both bands, obviously, rose a lot this year and I found it hard to differentiate them.
BEST JAPANESE SONG
If you don’t know (I won’t be surprised) I also review some Japanese song. 2015 will be the year where I start to review more Japanese songs for you all. However, 2014 also had a lot of catchy and cool Japanese songs. The winner for this year is Korean boy band MYNAME’s F.F.Y. Such a catchy song. As for honourable mentions, it goes to AAA’s Showtime.
KPOP is also known for its dancing. 2014 saw some interesting dances, catchy dances, and some dances that have no words to describe it. And that can be a good thing or a bad thing. This year, T-ara took the position as best dance. It was probably the most addictive dance and it was pretty easy as well. It matched the song and most importantly, I loved it. Honourable mentions to Infinite’s Back.
A brand new category for 2014. Every award show or some kind of award giving platform has the “best album” award. And yes, this year, there are so many freaking great albums (like any other year). In my opinion, the best album of the year goes to F(x)’s Red Light. All, if not most, of the songs were amazing to listen to and were so great. Every freaking song was different, and though that maybe risky, F(x) pulled it off as a flowing album. Honourable Mentions goes to AKMU’s Play.
BEST MALE SOLOIST
Solos don’t tend to be the trend this year. Some bands saw new members branch into a solo career, however it seems like more and more KPOP idols (whether male or female) are branching out to acting or variety shows. However, the winner to this category is a person who started offically his own solo career with a lot of experience in the music industry. Crush is the winner. Damn, this dude’s songs are so good. You should check them out. Honourable mentions: JungGiGo.
BEST FEMALE SOLOIST
It seems like more and more females are branching out onto the stage. We saw many KPOP divas making their solo debuts on the stage with new and fresh songs from bands like T-Ara or Secret. We already have divas who have accomplished a start to their solo career and saw comebacks of very big names. This year, one solo stood out and that is Secret’s Song Ji Eun. Releasing her first solo mini album, she did quite well considering the competition she was going through. Honourable Mentions goes to Sunmi.
BEST FEMALE GROUP
Sexy concept by girl groups have been on the rise. If you know me well, then you probably already know my pick. However, so many girls groups made their comeback this year. Some picked up a lot of popularity and saw massive wins for the first time. Girl’s Day hitted big with their amazing single Something. They later went on to release Darling and I Miss You. Being one of the biggest girl groups of the year, they were sure to pick some prize up. APINK steals honourable mentions this year with their massive single Mr Chu and their latest hit Luv, which blew up and swept all the December trophies for 2014.
BEST MALE GROUP
There have always been a large influx of boy groups and this year it is no different. I was so impressed I was just going to choose all 10 nominees as winners. However, there can only be one winner (well, technically), so I guess I have to choose one. I am going to put down VIXX. They released Eternity and Error this year and both songs were hits for the band. Not only that, they displayed great dance moves and skills. Beast takes out honourable mentions with Good Luck and 12:30, both being very great songs that also delivered like what VIXX had to show. (Just VIXX nudged a head a little bit).
BEST MUSIC VIDEO
This year, most of my Best Music Video Nominees saw the depressing side of KPOP. 8 music videos had this sad or dark storyline to tell. 2 music videos were made in a soft hearted and were really cheerful. G.o.D’s music video for The Story Of Our Lives, told the amazing bond between family and that the outside will never be able to define the inside. Megan Lee features in the song and both band and soloist did an amazing job singing and pouring out their emotions. By the way, SM made a video outside of the box. F(x)’s Red Light, takes honourable mention.
25 songs were nominated for Best Song for 2014. All were to an excellent standard. There were clear stands out. Something by Girl’s Day, EXID’s Up and Down and Beast’s Good Luck are this year’s honourable mentions. However, which song took Best Song category for 2014? Check the song and music video down below.
YG is known for putting artists together to form collaborations and subunits within the company nowadays. Recently, the company has put together two female artists together. Lee Hi and Suhyun from Akdong Musician joined forces with the help of Bobby from YG’s yet to debut new boy band, IKON. The three later went on to dominate the charts with their new single, I’m Different.
Like the song I last reviewed, this song has a really strong jazzy feel to it. I was reminded of this other song, like a long time ago, just I can’t pinpoint a name to the song. Another thing that sets this song a part from the others is that this song is a lot more cheerful and different rather than sad and depressing. Basically saying, the lyrics and the style the song was presented in falls in the 10% of songs released this year that had a happy side to it, rather than the 90% of song released this year which was about breakup or really dark love. I have to say this song is pretty catchy. I like Bobby’s rap in the song, despite only having like 3 lines in the whole song. His voice complimented the girl’s voices and also the song. Overall, this was a really nice song to listen to.
The music video cracked me up. Not to the extreme side, but it did make me laugh. Here are some observations I made. Bobby reminds me on Himchan a lot in this video. The girls were super cute in this video. And the whole plot line was really funny. The two girls play stalkers in this video and they end up stalking Bobby, who in turn has a girlfriend revealed at the end of the video. They at the end try to get back at the guy for wasting their time by bumping into their dodgem cars. This whole video was really cute, especially their facial expressions which I absolutely love. Particularly, the ending and the scenes were they are stalking him. Overall, nice video.
There is not much of a choreography for this song.
Overall, I liked the song and video. It was much different from the sad or dark comebacks we usually get during winter. Well, Winter for you Northern folks, while down here in the South Hemisphere, we are sweating it out over summer. But still… 7.4/10
Okay, I promised weeks back that I would make a review for this song and video. And here it is, just like a month later than expected, don’t blame me. Anyway, Akdong Musician recently made their official debut with 200%. Melting, the song in the spotlight for this review, was their second title track for their promotional run. After earning a triple crown with their song, 200%, they put both songs away and started to promote a more lively and fun song. Basically the same along the lines of 200%, but Give Love gave off a more soothing tune. I won’t be reviewing Give Love this time around and may end up being one of the few songs that I go back to review at the end of the year. But on with this review.
The song is completely different to the other songs that they have promoted. This song is a ballad and was a pretty slow one. And this one did not make fall asleep, which is a miracle. We get a soft piano intro to the song, and then to me, the song started to feel like it went back and forth like a pendulum. This was carried through to the vocals as well. The chorus was really catchy and I could feel the emotion that was oozing out of this song. The vocals swept and hit my ears really hard. So amazing. The high peak of the chorus sounded really cool and polished. The girl, repeats: “Why are they so cold?” giving that extra cool and cold freezing feel the song presents to us. The rapping though was something that I would not have liked, fitted well. The guys deep voice fitted the song really well. The song talks about how the world just fails to love them, protraying the world as a place full of ice and coldness. When you listen to the song, I will guarantee that you will really like this song.
The music is really amazing. It basically is the visual representation of the song. Did it bring me to tears though? No not really, but you could fill the sadness in it. The whole thing was shot with very subtle colours and a grey colour took up most of the frame. In the video we meet a kid on the side of the highway. He gets into a stranger car, but soon annoys the stranger to the point, where the kid is kicked out of the car. The kids goes in search for food and ends up buying a banana and film for this camera. The old man at the counter offers no exchange and isolates himself from the boy but not refusing him or actually accepting his coins. With little to go on, the kid is in the town centre. The world functions around him. Just it ignores him. Until the first person we see to actually show some kind of “love” to him comes along (which to me seems pretty dodgy). This new found person and the kid goes to a bar, where the person manages to get some love of her own that night and leaves the boy alone, showing abandonment once again. The kid runs after to catch up to the lady, but the manager stops him and demands him for money. The kids gets punched and bashed up for not having the money. This further shows nothing but coldness to the boy. Another thing is when he goes for help, he is ignored by that police officer. Anyway, the boy ends up leaving the area, and stumbles upon a caravan, and he is pretty injured. Though he is faced with another form of hatred (ie. angry dog barking), where he is more aware of what is going around him. His frustration takes advantage and he lashes out at the dog, to the surprise of the owner of the caravan, who takes the boy in and cares for him, giving the video more colour.
My review is getting too long. Nearly 700 words. 10/10. By far a really deep video with a strong message and a beautiful song to listen to and reflect upon.
I am sorry that I am extra slow with the reviews. School is back and I am dying here. But at the same time, I trying to drag out the time between each review so I can be able to post reviews. As you can tell, KPOP has had no significant releases in the past few weeks and we are all not sure of the next few weeks as well. A few comebacks have been confirmed for May, but since the World Cup is coming up, most of the companies have pushed the comebacks to July. But anyway. The famous duo has finally made their debut. YAY!!! Akdong Musician, for those who don’t know, are siblings who started off on one of those Korean music survival shows and have made it big, prior to their debut. Literally, I think most fo the fans know of these two. The duo consist of Lee Chan Hyuk and Lee Soo Hyun, who actually live in Mongolia. Interesting hey? Also, the male part of the duo is actually my age (and we are only 2 months a part). Hahahaha… Those are some interesting facts, let’s continue right?
This song is, to me, pretty good. I don’t really expect much, but some parts of the song I really like, but the other parts kind of were not to my liking. You know what I mean? They have taken Korea by storm and have won numerous awards, which they have earned. The song is a really great Spring time song. It is fun and vibrant. I don’t mind the guy’s rap, however was it a good combination for a Spring time song and such a fun song, not really sure. I did like the girl’s vocals and the chorus when both of them sing add this extra romantic feel to the song . I find the “It’s must be l.o.v.e, 200%”, where they pronounce 200 in Korean. It sounds really nice. I also liked the bridge of the song. It gave it a nice touch. Now I did not look it up, but I assume the song talks about the feelings that this person have towards their first love.
This music video to me was so so. And I guess it talks about the girl’s first love. We see this girl who is like the worst person ever to have a crush on someone. Like giggling like that kind of ruin the fact that your in love with him and may frighten the guy away from you. But anyway, she totally has a massive crush on him and happen to be the one of the three people on the bus. Like seriously? The other two were the guy she likes and the creepy old bus driver who is massively judging them. And then proceed creepy girl stalking mode. Like she follows him everywhere and then hides everytime he notices a presence. Would not be surprised if she collected his hair when he went to sleep. We then assume they becomes best of friends. Let’s skip to the end of the video, where it turns out that there was another girl the whole time and he liked her, not the creepy girl. And it also turns out the whole time, she was third wheeling them, and the couple did not argue or tell her to get lost. Amazing hey. yeah, I think you know why the music video was so so. Also, it lacked the feel of a YG video. Maybe because of the song, but for some reason I expected something within a set. Dunno why guys.
8/10. Pretty good song and another so so music video. Did I also tell you I shall be reviewing another of their videos and song? I shall be reviewing Melting. Not sure when, but from what I heard, it seems like a heart moving music video.