[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from the 1st Half of 2022 + more

As already mentioned on this blog somewhere (most likely the Weekly KPOP Charts posts), we are officially in July 2022. And that means that an entire 6 months has already past. Per usual, a substantial number of KPOP releases have been released, many of which have been on repeat. Keeping to tradition in July, it is time to post a list of my personal favourite songs from the 1st half of 2022.

I am doing things slightly different this year. In addition to the usual 10 songs (in no particular order) for the first half of 2022, I will also be posting two songs from the November – December 2021 period, which were ineligible for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards due to the cut off date being in October. And I will be posting 3 non-Korean songs (i.e. English, Japanese etc.) by Korean artists that caught my attention so far this year. So without furtherado, here are the list of my personal favourite songs of the year thus far (in no particular order, of course).

From November – December 2021

Personal favourite non-Korean songs of 2022 thus far

Personal favourite KPOP songs of the year so far (January – June 2022)

[Review] Dilemma – APINK

Kickstarting this week is APINK’s grand return with the single Dilemma and the special mini-album, Horn. This is the group’s first official comeback since the release of their March 2020 single Dumhdurum, though they did release a single last year (titled Thank You) in celebration of their 10th anniversary. Last year also saw the group undergo contract renewals, and all members besides Naeun re-signed with Plan M Entertainment (now known as IST Entertainment, after a merger with Cre.Kr Entertainment later in the year). Naeun, however, remains as a member of the group, but signed on with YG Entertainment as an actress. Naeun was part of the album preparations (including music video), but will not be promoting this new release with the rest of the group due to scheduling conflicts.

Dilemma continues the APINK’s run of mature sound, a sound profile that they adopted after a reinvention of the group in 2018 through the single I’m So Sick. Dilemma adds a more sophisticated sound this matureness, but in a modern and trendy manner. It features a simple synth beat instrumental for the most part, but on top of this was these synth-like horns that elevates the song in an unique manner. This extends into the chorus with the unique instrumental piece in the background reminding me of a kazoo. In addition this (possible) kazoo, the repetition of the song’s title and the vocals in the second half of the chorus (courtesy of Eunji and Bomi) make the chorus quite memorable, pop out and catchy. Elsewhere, I enjoyed the softness the other members’ vocals brought. It brought on an intriguing dynamic that really helps make Dilemma become quite appealing to me. With the pre-choruses, I liked the striking nature the keyboard had and the build in momentum to the fabulous chorus. Another part of Dilemma that I enjoyed was that instrumental break. It really ‘woke up’ the song and infused a burst of groovy energy into the matured nature of Dilemma. But while it seems like I am just giving praises to Dilemma, there are two aspects of the song that I am not keen on. The first is the rap sequence in the second verse and its trap instrumental sequence. It definitely tries to change up the momentum of Dilemma, but doesn’t really feel like a commitment to a change whatsoever. I am just glad it was brief and we return to the original pre-chorus and chorus. The second aspect has to be the ending. It felt sudden and abrupt (never a fan of those). An extension of some kind would have helped reduce the abruptness for me. But the positives outweighs the negative aspects, and Dilemma is still a fantastic song that I will definitely be be replaying a lot into the future.

This music video is stunning. The featured image I have posted with this post was extremely eye-catching for me. And I felt the rest of the visuals of the video, its concept and the members followed through in a similar manner. The dresses they wore really sold me on that sophisticated and mature concept that I mentioned earlier. I also have to compliment the members on their acting throughout the video. While it was all sadness to convey that dilemma of whether to give up on their relationship or push on, they really nailed their concept and I was captivated from start to end.

It is such a pity that we won’t be seeing Naeun on the stage with the group to perform Dilemma. Hopefully we will see an OT6 stage one day. From what I can see in the music video, the performance looks good. I really liked the dilemma move at the start of the chorus. The members turn their wrist back and forth, which reminds me of being indecisive about something. That dance break we get towards the end looks extremely striking and I am super excited for that the most!

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

[Review] Bird – Kim Nam Joo (APINK)

Following the solo releases of Jeong Eun Ji since 2016 and the solo debut of Oh Ha Young last year, the next member of APINK to go solo is Kim Nam Joo. When I first heard that she would be making her solo debut, I wondered how Kim Nam Joo would differentiate herself from the well-known name of APINK and establish a new image of herself under her own name, with her new solo single, Bird. Well, it is time to have a closer look at both the song and music video to find out just that.

Unfortunately, Bird fails to excite me. If I was being generous, Bird would be considered a ‘decent’ song, at best. But Bird is just so boring and lackluster that I tend to fall to the more negative side of the ‘decent song’ descriptor. Upon first listen to Bird, I could hear the hint of (G)I-DLE Soyeon’s influence. And while it seems like I am part of the minority when it comes to her songs, Bird is probably her weakest associated track yet. It felt like a track originally intended for (G)I-DLE, but the management and group decided it was best to part ways from this flat song. Aside from use of the wooden wind instruments throughout the song and the acoustic guitars in the bridge, everything else just felt generic to me. The instrumental failed to give much hype and the Eastern-influenced chorus could have been more dynamic by a mile. The bird sound effects felt a little annoying, especially as it went on. The song’s melody was pretty weak. Save the pre-chorus melody though, as I felt there was a decent climb within it that alluded to what I had expected to be a good drop. for the chorus (which Bird did not deliver). But that weak melody essentially rubbed off onto Kim Nam Joo’s vocals, which was at large pretty boring throughout the entire song. Hook-wise, the song didn’t have much, so I am pretty sure Bird will be long gone from my memory once I wrap up this review. Bird failed to impress or chirp up my day.

The music video fares a lot better in comparison to the song. Despite going with the basic choreography and closeup formula, the closeups are captivating given the story that I have managed to get out of it. To me, we see Kim Nam Joo wear white in the beginning to represent innocence and a newly born bird. As the music video goes along, we get different evolutions of the ‘bird’, which I could guess represents the many phases we have in our lifetime. But finally, just before the final chorus kicks in, we see Kim Nam Joo in her final ‘bird’ form, which is evidently quite elegant and mature. This represents her ‘rebirth’ (which was what the song was all about) is complete. Aside from that, I really liked how they used the one set at the start and end, but changed the lighting and colours to just give it a complete different feel.

The choreography is pretty decent. This ‘decent’ is more positive, in comparison to my other use of the same word. I really liked how she shows her strength and power through this choreography, and especially how she fits it in with the song she had to work with. Nothing really stood out for me individually, but the performance as a whole did.

Song – 4.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 6.2/10

[Review] AWay – Jeong Eunji (APINK)

It has been a while since we have heard from Jeong Eunji as a solo artist. Her last solo release was titled Be There and this came out in 2018. However, we have seen her more recently through APINK’s comebacks, such as %% in 2019 and Dumhdurum a few months ago. A few days ago, Jeong Eunji made her comeback with her fourth mini-album, Simple and the title track, AWay.

Jeong Eunji’s solo releases have shown us her ability to be versatile in the ballad realm. If I remember correctly, her solo debut track and first solo comeback (Hopefully Sky and The Spring) were folksy ballads. Her most recent solo release was more acoustic based. And now, she takes on a momentum-heavy pop sound approach with AWay. One may argue that this isn’t a ballad and I understand what you mean. But given the lack of choreography and how it is vocally-centric, I would say it is coming from a ballad root. It just has a different instrumental style to the more typical ballad. As mentioned earlier, there is some heft to the song that adds impactful energy and an epic vibe to the song. It also feels refreshing and suitable for the Summer season. It carries her vocals and forces her vocals to soar (which she handles really well). This, in turn, adds even more momentum to the song. The chorus had good hooks that helped made the song somewhat memorable. I felt that the hooks had to compete with the instrumental to be the standout memorable element of the song. In the end, I felt that the instrumental, due to its nature, nudged ahead of the other. Overall, all the elements in AWay works neatly with one another, forming another great song to go under Jeong Eunji’s name.

It is a pity that this comeback isn’t being promoted. This song really needs to be out there on the music shows for it to gain attention. I just don’t want this to be another forgotten song. But I guess we just have to settle for a music video. The song is about wanting to escape the feeling of being lost. Majority of the music video was essentially seeing Eunji being stuck in this lost feeling. Despite her life changing around her (i.e. the change from the green fields to the yellow sand), that lost feeling remains. We don’t see her resolving this predicament that she in by the time the video wraps up. She sings about charging back up to help escape that feeling, which I assume she does through the video’s happier moments. Apart for that lack of explicit resolution, it is a fine video that compliments the song well.

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

[Album Review] Look (9th Mini Album) – APINK

It is time for another album review (sorry that this is another day late again). Before I slip back into reviewing some of the earlier albums released in April, I wanted to review two album this weekend that would be considered more recent releases. The first album is by one of the most senior female groups currently still active in the industry. Actually, I think APINK one of the only remaining groups to have debuted in 2011 to actually be actively promotion. Their latest mini-album is titled Look and features the title track Dumhdurum, among a number of other songs.

Look Album Cover

1. Dumhdurum (덤더럼) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Dumhdurum. (7/10)

2. YummyYummy is a classy upbeat R&B number that has a groovy instrumental. That aspect one a really attractive as it felt refined and bold with the thumping and percussion. What drew me in even more was the vocals. I liked how each member stood alone in the song and wasn’t masked by the instrumentation in any way. The song had a really nice fluid melody and I liked how it picked up at certain points, which help with adding definition to the song. An example would be Bomi’s section in the verses, which had a good wow factor to it. Another would be the ‘Do It Do It’ sung by Namjoo. (9/10)

3. Be Myself (JJR Unit) – This is a JJR unit track, consisting of Chorong, Eunji and Namjoo. Be Myself is your typical pop track. Its main instrumental centerpiece is synth beats that keep the song lively and bubbly. And I like how the upbeatness of the song suits the message of the song of being one’s self, as the title suggest. Eunji had an impressive display of vocals towards the end. Namjoo was pretty much forgettable for me, as I don’t remember much from her in this song after finishing a listen to it. But the main star is Chorong, who contrasts with her nasally vocals. The other two have clear and crisp vocals, but Chorong brings a little texture, boosting the song in my opinion. (8/10)

4. Love Is Blind (Y.O.S Unit) – We get another upbeat track. This time it comes from the Y.O.S Unit, which consists of Bomi, Naeun and Hayoung. It is a little odd situation as I had expected this unit to have a more dynamic and appealing track as opposed to the other unit. But the situation ended up being switched. There is a bit of a fun vibe that cannot be denied. I just feel that the song doesn’t go past that appeal, which is quite disappointing. Not even the hooks or melody offer much appeal beyond typical. Same thing can be said for their vocals. (6/10)

5. OverwriteOverwrite is the first ballad on the album. But it isn’t that slow and typical natured ballad that one would usually think of. There is a beat to this ballad that gives it some energy, along with a really nice orchestral touch. The piano melody was also really beautiful. The vocal work here is superb as you can once again hear all the members very strongly. The melody that the vocals carry was also quite nice. I also enjoy how they sing the title of the song, bringing a slight twist to the end of the third ‘Overwrite’ that they sing. (9/10)

6. Moment – The second ballad-like song is Moment. This features an explosive instrumental, which is also very different for a ballad. There are orchestral roots to the instrumental, but I don’t think it is a clear-cut classical piece due to that explosive nature. Their vocals in this song is something to be talked about. As the instrumental is a little louder than usual, the group has to up their vocals in order to be heard. I did wish they pushed a little further as I felt (just) some of their vocals got lost in the instrumentation or felt overpowering. Not really a major issue, as for the most part they sounded good! (8/10)

7. Everybody Ready? – We end the song with a very fun song. It has an instrumental that will blast you and definitely get you pumped, as the members ask you if you are ready. For those who don’t know, Everybody Ready? was released in April 2019 as part of their 8th year anniversary celebrations. Dedicated to the fans, it features fans cheering them on as they sing in this loud yet enjoyable song. It is a lot different to their other fan-centric songs that they have released in the past, which were a lot less energetic and more melodic. But definitely a strong hidden gem on this album. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

Look Teaser Image

[Review] Dumhdurum – APINK

The first major comeback comes from a group that has been around for 9 years in the industry. Given that most groups end after seven years under their belt (or much less), this is definitely a grand feat. I am talking about APINK, one of the many groups that managed to make cutesy concept work in their early days (see Mr Chu and No No No, as examples) and have more recently reinvented their sound to be more mature (see I’m So Sick and %%). Today, the group returns with Dumhdurum, which features on the group’s ninth mini-album.

The instrumental of Dumhdurum has a very strong disco vibe. We all know that a retro tune, such as a disco number, can be very addictive and unique in this current environment of EDM and other modern electronic genres. And for the most part, APINK nails the track. The instrumental wasn’t exact replica of 70s disco. But it was subdued to fit in with the mature sound that the group has managed succeed in their last two comebacks (linked above) and gave off a strong modern profile. I really liked their dance break instrumental that was inserted into the chorus, which was probably the most exciting part of the song. It also brought a lively energy to the song. I also find that rap speaking line that ends the chorus to be rather dynamic. Altogether, it helped make the chorus become memorable and appealing. My only issue with the song was how boring the vocals were during the verses and bridge. Riding the high that the chorus provided, I don’t remember much of the verses or bridge, which is hugely disappointing. They could have changed it up with some vocal textures or small vocal details along the way. Something to really grab my attention, rather than have it all in neutral gear. ‘

A similar comment can be made regarding the music video of Dumhdurum. The choreography scenes were probably the most exciting sections of the video. There were some close ups showed off the visuals of each member alongside the choreography shots. But in the end, this resulted in the video feeling like that very typical close up and choreography combination we see so often (i.e. a boring default). The video was partly set on a train and I wondered what that was all about. I am guessing there is a storyline in the video that I have missed, based on their individual sets, which all look like there is some meaning behind them. The name Marcella appeared at the start and a Google search yielded nothing that could pinpoint to a storyline. Does anyone have any theories? Let me know below.

The choreography looks good. From what I see in the music video, it definitely looks very dynamic and powerful. That dance break section looks really promising. Can’t say much else unfortunately, as we are pretty much limited to the music video for now. But I am sure the same feelings would carry over into the live performances.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.9/10

[Review] Don’t Make Me Laugh – Oh Hayoung (APINK)

My final review for the night is for Hayoung’s solo debut. For those who don’t know, she is one of the members from APINK, one of the few groups still going strong since their debut in 2011. She is also the second member of the group to officially go solo, while the group is in between comebacks. Don’t Make Me Laugh is her title track for her solo debut mini-album, OH!.

While it was expected that Eunji would be the first member to go solo from the group, I would have expected Namjoo or Bomi to be the second. Instead, Hayoung comes by with this really nice track. I find the industry tends to enjoy either heavy dance tracks or slow ballad tracks. Sometimes, they enjoy tracks that find themselves in between the two styles. And Don’t Make Me Laugh is one of these tracks that deserve to be put in the spotlight. I really like the light tone the song brings, which undoubtedly compliments her vocals. Her parts in APINK tracks have never stood out for me. But this song makes me want to revisit all those parts from the past. I also enjoyed the autotune they put on her voice to give the song some texture. It didn’t go over the top with it, which tends to be the case in some songs. But not this one! The chorus had a really soothing pop melody and I like the small laughter at the start. I can see myself easily repeating the song multiple times with this track and I don’t think I would ever get tired of it.

The title of the track is very intriguing. But essentially the track is all about the moment someone falls in love. In the video, Hayoung basically falls for the barista and starts imagining all their potential dates. This makes her feel super giddy, which in turn results to her laughing in the cafe. At the end of the video, we see the guy noticing her laughing, which he finds cute and he starts to approach her. The final moments of the videos show a closeup of Hayoung’s face reacting to the unexpected movement in her direction, which I thought was rather funny. The video was well-presented. Even though it was all inside, they did a good job of replicating the outdoors and the video was very bright, fitting the Summer feel nice.

I like how the lightness of the song flowed into the choreography. Overall, It felt flowy and breezy. At the same time, there is a very nice innocent feel to it. Another thing that I would like to mention is that she sounds wonderful on stage with this track. Once again, I have never taken notice of her on stage. But watching her perform, I am wondering why I haven’t paid more attention to her!

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

[Album Review] Percent (8th Mini Album) – APINK

It is time for another album review. And this time, the focus is on APINK, who made their comeback at the start of last week with %% (Eung Eung – if you are wondering how this is pronounced). This title track is featured on the group’s 8th mini-album, Percent. You will notice (as I have stated it quite a lot throughout this album review) is that the group had taken a more mature approach with their music, which is many miles away from their previous albums. Let’s see how I liked these track by going forth with the review.

apink-percent-2
Percent Album Cover

1..%% (Eung Eung) (응응) (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review for %%. (8/10)

2. Hug Me (안아줘요)Hug Me is an R&B track that brings out their mature side very well. I really liked the instrumental to this track as it has a no-nonsense type of vibe, getting straight to the point without dwindling between genres, which is something that occurs often in KPOP. You also get that sense of confidence from the members, who do an amazing job with the vocal side of the song, which is something I also quite like. It isn’t necessary memorable when you think about the track in a melodic sense. But it was still good. (7.5/10)

3. What Are You Doing? (느낌적인 느낌)What Are You Doing? Is another R&B track but it is a lot more upbeat and what I would consider dance-centred. I say this because the song has a club vibe and also an instrumental break, fitting for a dance break. It has a very addictive nature, which helps with the memorability factor that I tend to comment about it. Vocally, it is decent. Not necessary their best vocals on the album. But that short line in which they speak just before the chorus was definitely the key point of the song. (9/10)

4. Push & Pull (줄다리기) – We now encroach into something more upbeat. It has been building up since the title track. There is still a mature vibe to the song but there seems to be a nice retro influence in the instrumentation, which I quite liked. I particularly liked the way they changed the pre-chorus up to give the song an extra rush of energy, setting the chorus up. The bridge of the song featuring some rap-speaking, which is a rare element in APINK songs but something that I would love to hear more of in these mature songs. (9/10)

5. Enough – We continue the retro influence and mature sound with Enough. And like the preceding song, it is also continuing with the upbeat instrumental. I think the right word to describe the song is that is rather soft in nature, which is one of the song’s main charm. The vocals in this song were nice and conform well to the main charm. But I think the real winner of the song is the rapping. As mentioned previously, APINK rarely attempts raps but once again, if this the quality that they put out with the rap sequences, I will love to listen to more. (9/10)

6. Memories (기억 더하기) – The only thing missing from this album is the ‘mandatory ballad’. And Memories ends the album with just that one track. I have to admit that it has a rather touching sound to it. Most of the time, artists slap a very typical ballad onto the tracklist in the hope it makes up for the ‘mandatory ballad’. But while the instrumental is typical, the members give the song that much needed emotive element, through their vocals. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

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[Review] %% – APINK

After the release of their successful hit, I’m So Sick, which featured a change in image from their well-known cutesy style, APINK has returned with a brand new song, %%. While you may be tempted to pronounce it as ‘Percent Percent’, the actual pronunciation is ‘Eung Eung’ as when you slightly spin the percentage sign, you get ‘응응’. In other news related to APINK, they had their concert last night where they performed %% for the first time and Eunji had a solo comeback in the later parts of 2018.

%% is another complete changeup in their sound. It is probably their most sensual sounding song yet. The instrumental is very subtle. It is present but it doesn’t seem to be as noticeable as other girl-crush songs that we know of in KPOP, such as I’m So Sick. But I like that, as it forces the vocals to be the main attraction for the song. I thought their vocals were nice. Instead of going for a strong sound, their vocals sounded a lot lighter than usual, which goes extremely well with the subtle instrumentation I mentioned previously. The song itself is catchy and like my previous review, I can see the song growing on me. I really like the ‘Eung’ that features after each ‘Eung Eung‘ sung by the members. It sticks out for all the right reasons and gives a slight accent to the song. I think the song does lack that kick which could make this track a lot stronger and more profound. But over than that, I see this as another great song from APINK.

For a girl group named APINK, I think this is one of the few videos which feature pink as the main colour. There also seems to be this hazy look hanging over the video, which I guess is their way of doing something mysterious. Anyway, the video seems to be showing the members collecting ingredients for a potion of some kind, which was later shown to create a heart for their ‘man’, represented by the floating tuxedo. This goes well with the lyrics to the song. I liked their close up shots and the post-production editing on the video looked cool.

The choreography was awesome. I really liked the introductory dance they had at the start. They seemed to match the moves to the subtle nature of the song but they did it which attitude, so their moves looked much stronger as a whole. Once again, I need to wait until I see a full performance to be sure,

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

[Review] Being There – Jeong Eunji (APINK)

Also making her solo return today/yesterday (depending on your time zone) is Jeong Eunji, with Being There. The last time we saw Jeong Eunji promote solo was last year with The Spring. More recently, she appeared in the drama, Untouchable (if you enjoy thriller and mystery, this is a K-Drama that I highly recommend) and APINK’s latest comeback, I’m So Sick.

Give me any synonym to the word ‘Beautiful’ and they can all be used to describe the song. The vocals are what drives this song and give it that beautiful sound. Her voice was so captivating in this song that I had to stop whatever I was doing and listen to it in its entirety. The best part was when she sang with no instrumental in the background. This was a really lovely moment of the song that really had an impact for me. The song has a soothing instrumental, made of guitars and piano. It is quite warm as well, suitable for the cold Autumns. This gives light to the song, which touches on missing home. I like how she does that, as it can be an emotional topic for some people.  Do check out this song if you want a nice ballad to listen, especially if the weather is getting colder.

It is an 8-minute long video that does a wonderful job of showing the song in a visual format. Jeong Eunji lives in the city and has a very set routine for her life (like most people who live in the city). However, she makes a snap decision and boards a train en route to her hometown. Once she arrives, we see her return home, greet her mum, share multiple meals and take in the memories she had at the place where she grew up, going hand-in-hand with the lyrics of the song. What I liked about the video was the focus on was Eunji. We never got to see her mum nor anyone else in the video. But we got to see Eunji take in her surrounds and have a beautiful smile throughout the video.

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

 

[Album Review] One & Six (7th Mini Album) – APINK

APINK recently made their return with a completely different image than what we have seen ever before. APINK’s latest title track, I’m So Sick, takes on an exciting mature concept, which is proving to be quite successful. I’m So Sick is also the title track of the group’s 7th mini-album, One & Six, which is the focus of today’s album review. Apologies for the lack of Sunday’s album review. I was so busy that I had to cancel it. It is here now, so let’s move!

apink-one&six-2
One & Six Album Cover

1..I’m So Sick (1도 없어) (Title Track)Click here for the full review of I’m So Sick. (9/10)

2. AlrightAlright is your typical pop song when you just glance over the track. However, when you listen to it, you notice it is a lot more than the ‘typical pop song’ description. Overall, the song felt fitting for the group who establish what can be described as a ‘lovely’ vibe and hence I thought it was a good selection for a promotional track. Starting off the song were these beautiful sounding twinkles, which gave me shivers the first time I heard the song (which is a good thing). The chorus was catchy with the ‘Alright’ repetition and melody. I particularly liked the drop, as it felt just right for the entire song. I really liked the suspense created before the final chorus. (9/10)

3. Don’t Be Silly – The song felt very mature, even more than the title track, which I think is a rather interesting direction for the group. But they pull it off well. The song feels like an R&B dance track with an extra something that makes it work for APINK. I thought the chorus was quite good, despite the questionable English. I liked the epic feel in the bridge, which was my favourite section of the song. I was disappointed, however, when the song didn’t carry on that epic feel into the final chorus. But other than that, it was a good song. (8/10)

4. Forever Star (별 그리고..) – Forever Star is just your typical ballad from a girl group. While the rest of the album did showcase some great ‘typical’ songs, Forever Star doesn’t really feel great. Instead, it felt a little bland and doesn’t really capture my attention on the album. But it was still listenable. It did feature good melody and nice harmonies. It was quite delicate and did a good job keeping that innocent sound that the group is widely known for. (7/10)

5. Promise Me – With the piano in the first few seconds of the song, I thought the song was going down a ballad route. But the way the clock was ticking soon after gave me a hunch that it wasn’t going to be a ballad. This proved true once the violins kicked in and you could hear many synths during the chorus. Once again, I liked how the chorus felt and hook made the song quite catchy. It had a particularly happy tone, which appealed to my personal taste quite well. The song did feature great vocals from all members, but the spotlight was on Bomi and Eunji (especially the end). It is also one of my favourites on the album! (10/10)

6. I Like That Kiss – A review or description of the song will not do it justice. I highly recommend you give the song a listen as it is extremely hard for me to explain in words. The energy on this track and its quirky instrumental makes the song stand out, particularly that changeup prior to the chorus. The chorus was extremely addictive with the title repetition. The bridge was extremely unexpected, going for a remix style feel in the first half and a totally different sound in the second half.  As I said, my description isn’t enough, and you should check it out for yourself. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

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I’m So Sick Music Video Image

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] I’m So Sick – APINK

APINK is a group once known for their cute concepts and addictive songs. This time around, APINK returns with a completely different image and concept. The ladies of APINK are back with their 7th mini-album, titled as ONE & SIX, which also features the title track, I’m So Sick. We last saw them on stage last year with Five.

Right off the bat, you can tell that the song has a completely different feel to any of their previous releases with those background vocals at the very start (and throughout the song), which are used as instrumentation. They do sound quite questionable but it definitely attracts your attention to the song. The verses were a little interesting, as they seem to be a more bright and cutesy feel to it, which contrasts interestingly with the rest of the song, particularly with the chorus. I thought the upbeat instrumental was really nice and provided an addictive atmosphere. The ‘Bye Bye‘ line in the chorus was quite catchy, with it (along with the background vocals) being key memorable moments of the song. I also thought the electric guitar at the end of the bridge (prior to the of the final chorus) was extremely well-suited for the song and would have loved to hear a bit more of it throughout the song. Overall, I’m So Sick is a really good song that will be on my replay list for days to come.

The lyrics of the song basically tells of a simple message. That the girls are sick of the love they are receiving and are losing interest in their relationship. In the music video, the members do a good job of portraying that. They look really disinterested in what they are doing, while still staying in character throughout the video. It is a very bold video, given its concept and stylistic approaches. This is definitely their most mature look yet. I thought the sets were nice and definitely something that really looks visually appealing.

I thought the performance was extremely fitting for the song. Very mature and sensual at times, words which I never thought I would use to describe APINK. I feel like they could have been a little sassier with some moments, as that would leave a longer lasting impression on the audience.

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

[Album Review] Pink Up (6th Mini Album) – APINK

APINK are one the leading girl groups in the industry and they are back with a brand new mini-album for all their fans out there. The mini-album, titled as Pink Up, is their 6th mini-album to date. To be honest, I really need to think of a better way to open up these album reviews. I apologise if I bored you. So let’s continue one!

Pink Up Album Cover

 

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

2. Stinging (콕콕) – Stinging is a very mature sounding track, which is a complete turnaround to their first song on this album. While they do keep a small playful sound to it, it felt more sensual, which is unexpected. The girls do a wonderful job with using their husky vocals, which fit very nicely. The small rap sequence was nice as well. I would love to say it was catchy with its funky instrumental, but rather, it didn’t feel like a memorable track. (7/10)

3. Eyes – Eyes was nice but it lacked a selling point. It just didn’t stand out compared to the other ballads present on this mini-album. I did like how they were going to drag out some of the lines and each member did shine vocally in the song. I would have loved it if there was something that gave the song a bolder side, rather than feeling a standard ballad. (6/10)

4. I Like It – While I don’t think it is worthy of ‘title track’ standards, this song is perfect as a non-title track. It was quite catchy and felt uplifting after the previous two tracks. I love the instrumental, which gave the song a nice foundation, but the vocals felt like it gave the song some life. It falls nicely under the cutesy portfolio that we know and associate APINK with. (8/10)

5. Evergreen – This is one amazing ballad. Eyes didn’t have that bold effect, while the changes in Evergreen was that bold factor that I wanted. It gave the song energy and emotion to motivate us. The vocals are amazing and their best on this mini-album. Listening to the album the first time yesterday, this song caught my attention and was the one song I was looking forward to writing about. (10/10)

6. Always – Another great song. I liked the simpleness of the instrumental. A nice step back from all the electronic songs constantly released. What I loved about this song is that the chorus was super catchy and nice-sounding. I loved the harmonies present in the chorus. The verses felt empty and dry in comparison. It felt like the chorus was sung by all members, while the verses felt unsupported. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.5/10

pinkupapinkteaser
Pink Up Teaser Image

[Review] Only One – APINK

APINK has finally returned with a brand new album. This is their second album to date, their first being L.U.V released back in 2014. They did promote Remember, last year, as a mini album as well. APINK have been busy with solo promotions, dramas and variety appearances.

I am going straight to the point. I am hugely disappointed with the song. APINK is known for their cutesy songs, which have all been catchy and easy to get into. But this move from that side of the girls to a mature sound doesn’t seem right for the girls. I do like the song to an extent, but I feel that the song wasn’t made for them. The overall vocal work and the sound gave sort of awkward vibe.  The rhythm of the song is quite nice. Instrumental has a nice retro vibe to it, which makes the song soung decent. You can tell that their vocals have improved a lot in the song, but some parts just didn’t seem right (also some of the members do sing in a very monotone way, which I have noticed for the past few comebacks) . There was a great imbalance of volume in the song. The chorus was pretty loud and clear, the verses on the other hand seemed a little low (I think that was because of the higher pitch during those verses). Overall, they were quite weak and made the lead into the song quite boring. There isn’t much colour to the song, which is disappointing. Maybe pour a little more emotion into the song or push the girls a little more deliver something more different, in terms of sound.

Music video was another let down. Though, I can bear this one more than Remember. The girls did deliver with a more mature concept. No more cutesy smiles or cute dance moves. Smoke, grey filters and long dresses (those boots can go) apparently make up for a mature video. Though, throw in a few breathtaking shots of roof tops (yes, I know 2PM used the same rooftop – read somewhere that it is in some university in South Korea) and the video looks quite nice. The rest of the video looks pretty generic. They should throw away those shots where the girls are sitting around and singing in the midst of a rainforest  room full of plants. It just makes it boring and bland.

Another disappointing component (and the final component that I discuss in each review) is the dance. There are hints of cuteness in the dance, but overall, the dance looks boring.

Rating – 4/10

Hopefully Sky – Jung Eunji (APINK)

Before I run out of time, let’s do the final review for the weekend. It has been something that fans have wanted for ages and finally Jun Eunji, the main vocalist of APINK, has officially made her solo debut on the stage. Well, she has had solo stages before and collaborations, but this is her first solo release. She joined up with Hareem, which I believe is a folk musician in South Korea for her song: Hopefully Sky.

It is a really nice ballad. At first, I was weirded out by the song, like all folk songs. But this one grew on me. I hear this song on my playlist and I can’t help to listen to it. First of all, it is very easy on my ears. Move aside heavy dubstep or really slow ballads. This has the right pitch, tempo, rhythm etc. It had the perfect ratio between vocals and instrumental. It was also somewhat catchy. The only thing I would say about the song is that is was very boring. It did feel dry for a while and it still has that dryness factor to it. If I can somehow shake that off when I listen to the song, it would be amazing. It just happened to stay from the first time I listened to the song til now. The lyrics and instrumental remind you of Spring and I think it did an excellent job about.

I have yet to watch the video, so these will be my initial reactions. I just expect the video to be of Eunji staring off into the blue skies and sitting in some sort of green grass patch or flower garden. Cause that is what the song gives off. Okay, watching the video, it just does not seem like that. Instead, Eunji is making most of the Spring weather and scenery in what seems to be her home town (or the setting is meant to be her hometown). Visiting schoolyards, some really beautiful artwork on the sides of buildings. She even sings on top of a rooftop which shows a really nice view of the town in the video. First impressions tell me that this is a very beautiful video, for a very beautiful song.  The cherry blossoms made the video seem much more pretty and romantic. I think it was a very well done video.

Overall, as I mentioned above: a very beautiful comeback. No wonder it topped charts as soon as it was released. 9.5/10

Recap of Golden Disk Awards 2016 + Thoughts

Probably one of the biggest award ceremonies for music and also probably one of the most prestigious, the 30th Golden Disk Awards (GDA) was held on the 20th to the 21st of January 2016. The GDA was supposed to be held in China but was moved back to South Korea due to the recent earthquakes that occurred there just 1 or two weeks before the scheduled event. Even though many people were shocked and feared the award ceremony would be either postponed or cancelled, the ceremony went off without a single hiccup and was broadcast live in both Korea and China.

What I like about this particular awards is that is focuses on both the physical albums and downloaded songs of the year. In other words, more awards for everyone. It is also nice to see who excelled in what (hahahaha…). The digital awards were handed out on the 20th of January, while the physical album awards were handed out on the 21st of January. The award show on the first night was hosted by Jun Hyun Moo, Kim Jong Kook and Seohyun (SNSD). The second night was hosted by Jun Hyun Moo, Leeteuk (Super Junior) and Krystal (F(x)) I have recapped the award winners on the two nights below.

Disk Daesang (Album Of The Year) – EXODUS (EXO)
Digital Daesang (Song Of The Year) – Loser (Big Bang)
Disk Bonsang (Best Artist) – APINK, VIXX, F(x), BTS, CNBLUE, Jonghyun (SHINee), EXO, Beast, Super Junior
Digital Bonsang (Best Artist) – Red Velvet, EXID, AOA, Zion.T, Park Jin Young, Sistar, Taeyeon (SNSD), Kyuhyun (Super Junior), Big Bang, Girl’s Generation
Best New Artist – GFriend, iKON, Seventeen, Twice
Popularity Award – SHINee
Best Rap / Hip Hop – SanE
Best Rock – Hyukoh
Global Popularity Award – EXO
Best Group Vocal Award – BTOB
Best Solo Vocal Award – Jung Yonghwa (CN Blue)
Best Male Artist Award – Big Bang
Best Female Artist Award – Taeyeon (SNSD)
Next Generation Star Award – Monsta X

Once again, this wide spread of award winners seem to be more representative of main stream KPOP. Not that I am complaining. Most of the award recipients were similar to the Seoul Music Award 2016, however a lot more artists won in this ceremony, since their was more rewards. Not that I am being a hater or anything, but Kyuhyun’s bonsang award seems a little far fetched. From memory (correct me if I am wrong though), his song never charted high on the charts and likewise Super Junior barely makes an impact on the digital side of the music industry. So I am a little suspicious of how he managed to get an award for a digital bonsang. Saying that, he did sell a lot. Like a lot on the physical side. But beside that, I think it was a nice range of artists who won and I think it is accurate (as in which artists managed to shine the brightest in 2015).

I really need to think of ways to start off the different sections, but once again… I think out of the all the ceremonies that have already been broadcast (NOTE: I am typing this prior to the Gaon Chart Awards), GDA has the best performances. Why? Because many of the artists performed multiple songs and I really enjoy how some artists (or their producers) integrate different songs together. GFriend, Red Velvet, EXID, Seventeen and BTS had the best stages on the nights. Some artists performed some songs that were released in the past (in previous years, such as EXID’s Up & Down, VIXX’s Error, Sistar’s Touch My Body etc.), which I kind of liked, but, the songs were released last year… so maybe a little outdated. But overall, the performances, I think, were to a very high standard and pleased me (*points at myself* and *acting as the biggest critic of all time*).

Below are just the few performances that I found and slapped together in a playlist format in no particular order.

For a last minute change to the ceremony, it managed to do pretty well in my books. Awards, performances. Everything was just great. There is one more to go of this season’s award ceremonies, which will be coming out in the coming days. Until then, bye!!