[Review] Shut Down – BLACKPINK

Following the pre-release of Pink Venom last month, BLACKPINK is back with their official comeback single Shut Down and the studio album Born Pink. Prior to Pink Venom, the group’s last comeback was back in 2020 with single Lovesick Girls and their first studio album, The Album.

The most memorable aspect of Pink Venom, for me, ended up being the fact that song was just so alike to many of their past singles. And I believe this was a common theme of other people’s thoughts on the pre-release as well. It appears that BLACKPINK and their producers have caught on, as Shut Down sounds vastly different from the group’s past releases. The biggest game changer to Shut Down was the La Campanella strings sample, which definitely gave off a refined and sophisticated feel to the song. But as one would expect with a BLACKPINK and YG song, there is still a strong hip-hop influence. Together, they created an intriguing piece that came out to be quite decent. However, I did wish the instrumental picked up a bit as the song progresses, just to give Shut Down a more dynamic flair. I kind of expected something extra to happen towards the end of the song, as we were given a pretty consistent background piece throughout the first and second runs of the verses/choruses. The bridge does seem to allude at a potential change in momentum and energy, but Shut Down eventuated into an even more sluggish ending. As for the members, I thought they did a fine job with their rapping and vocals. The rapping was definitely exciting and there was some good sequences and flow. The vocals were more on the forgettable side, but it was still appreciable. Good news, the hooks in Shut Down do have a memorable ring to it, and this helps Shut Down loads in my books. Overall, Shut Down is a much better track compared to their pre-release and a much appreciated new sound profile to their discography.

There appears to be a lot of references to their oldest music videos in Shut Down‘s very own music video. Some of the references that I picked up on include the Jennie’s tank, Rose’s light-piece swing and Lisa’s katana from their DDU-DU DDU-DU music video and Rose sitting on top of the planet Earth from their WHISTLE music video. The billboard that Jisoo takes a selfie in front also features a scene from the DDU-DU DDU-DU music video of herself. Aside from those references, I continually enjoy the presence of the black and pink coloured items and themes throughout their music videos. I don’t know why and I feel like it pretty much cliché now, but I still find the references to their name in the video to be quite interesting. I also liked the roller door and alleyway set, as well, for this music video. The colour from their outfits were also a refreshing visual as well.

The choreography for this comeback looks fantastic. It was tough and I liked how they were imaginary smashing or slamming things on the ground or their hands in time with the ‘Shut Down‘ mentions in the song. I particularly like the clock hands that preceded the clap of the hand in the chorus. I would definitely like to see what else BLACKPINK has in store for the rest of the routine.

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

[Review] Pink Venom – BLACKPINK

It has been almost two years since we have heard BLACKPINK through a full group comeback via the promotions of Lovesick Girls and The Album. Currently, we are progressing full speed ahead towards BLACKPINK’s official comeback in a month time with their second studio length album Born Pink and a yet to be unveiled titled track. But ahead of the release of Born Pink, we find ourselves here today just about to review the pre-release for that album, Pink Venom, which dropped earlier today.

It appears that Lovesick Girls was a once event in terms of the group’s discography. BLACKPINK returns to familiar powerful territory with Pink Venom, following the same vein of their past releases such as How You Like That and Kill This Love. There isn’t anything wrong with this classic BLACKPINK sound and style. It is just quite overdone by now. Pink Venom attempts to change it up with a mixture of traditional and tribal-like instrumentation throughout the song, sans the second verse which deep dives the song into 90s hip-hop territory. I think this instrumental combo lacks that knock out of the park feel that their previous tracks have. And I am quite sure the typical formula also dulls the potential of Pink Venom. The chorus was probably the most interesting aspect, but I am of the opinion that it is disappointing. Lisa and Jennie go into this high pitch soft whisper-like motif. I feel that this detracts from the powerfulness potential of song, and weakens the integrity of Pink Venom. It is somewhat unique, but very fragile. It makes me want to handle the chorus with care, which isn’t something you would want with a BLACKPINK song that starts off powerful. The verses and pre-choruses were more appreciable and enjoyable by a long mile. There was potential between the vocals in the pre-chorus from Jisoo and Rose, to the rapping by Jennie and Lisa in the verses. The chorus just lets it down. Pink Venom ends with a ‘La Ta Ta‘ hook, which I didn’t think really gave Pink Venom that punchy ending that I had expected. There was something lacking in the background to really hone the ending in and make it all climatic. It appears that Pink Venom isn’t my cup of tea this time around. Maybe more listens would make the song more approachable, but for now, Pink Venom just doesn’t live up to their previous tracks of a similar nature.

Per usual, BLACKPINK’s music videos are top notch. And once again, Pink Venom‘s does not disappoint. Visually, this music video had it all. Vibrant colours, impactful shots and stunning looks. Best shots for each member are: Jennie’s red outfit at the start of the video. Lisa’s gangster look, Rose’s leather look and Jisoo’s Korean hanbok inspired look. The scene with Rose and the black paint was also quite epic and could potentially be interpreted as quite deep. The sets looked amazing, especially that first choreography shot with the fabric blowing about in the background. I also enjoyed the subtle black and pink colours on some of the sets.

While musically, I think the chorus is weak, the choreography might be the next big thing for the group (until next month’s release). The small movements with their hands behind their back, for example, works well with the softer and fragile delivery of the chorus, while the bigger movements work well with the slightly more aggressive parts of the chorus (i.e. the ‘woah woah woah‘). The ‘La Ta Ta Ta‘ end sequence looks cool in the performance, as well.

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

[Review] LALISA – LISA (BLACKPINK)

The next BLACKPINK member has finally made their solo debut. We were first teased with solo work from the members of BLACKPINK back in 2018. We first saw Jennie making her solo debut in 2018 with SOLO. It took three years for the next member, ROSÉ, to debut as a solo artist with On The Ground. And today (and not after a three year gap), Lisa makes her solo debut with LALISA. That just leaves Jisoo, whom I hope we can see solo music from in the very near future. But for now, this is my review of Lisa’s LALISA.

LISA’s solo debut comes in the form of an anthem about herself. As much as I want to like LALISA, I feel like this is a barrier for me to get into the song. I am indifferent to songs that are just for the artist themselves (i.e. stamped with their name throughout the song). Of course, there are exceptions (as always). But I felt this indifference for this release and it had a pronounced flow on effect to other elements within the song. I wish I could overcome the barrier. But no matter how much I have replayed the song thus far, I can’t get over the fact that this song is only for LISA to sing or perform. It might just be that I am narrow-minded in this regard. Anyhow, putting aside my personal thoughts of the lyrics and title, LALISA has a pretty standard instrumental. I didn’t find anything interesting within it. I did like how it enabled a bit of attitude and sassiness from LISA herself. I also enjoyed LISA’s delivery of the song, particularly her rap verse in the second verse. That sequence was a bit of a wow factor for me and further proved to me her rapping ability (not that I had any doubts of her rapping capabilities in the first place). The repetition of the title ‘LALISA‘ is definitely quite catchy and helps makes the song memorable. But as I said at the start, the overly emphasised personalised side of LALISA makes it hard for me to really enjoy the song (though this is great for LISA!).

What I like about these solo music videos is that they are not confined to the usual amazingly designed and detailed sets we see the group (and other YG artists usually in). While they did re-emerge in this solo music video, it still had an outside component which I liked. That being said, the sets are really cool in this music video, particularly the white light dance set with the word LALISA forming part of the wall . That looked really cool and modern. I also like how the music video paid homage to LISA’s background with a bit of Thai influence in a segment of the music video through a set and some outfits. That was pretty cool element and LISA pulled it off effortlessly, just like every other look in this music video.

We got to see a fair bit of the choreography of the performance. And I think it is one that fits in with LISA really well. I liked the chorus in particular, which shows off two sides of her. There is a bit of cute bounce to the first half of the chorus, followed by the sassy and attitude-filled stomping in the second half of the chorus’ choreography. I also like the ‘L’ and ‘A’ that LISA and the dancers form with their hands to represent LISA’s name in the choreography.

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.3/10

[Review] On The Ground – ROSÉ (BLACKPINK)

It has been a long time coming. But after years of promise, the next BLACKPINK member has made their official solo debut. ROSÉ makes her start as a solo artist with the single On The Ground, an all English single. Usually for an all English single would be lumped as part of the International Song Review segment. But as ROSÉ will be promoting the song in Korea, I have decided to write a separate review for it. The first member of BLACKPINK to make her solo debut was Jennie, way back in 2018 with SOLO. Check out that song if you haven’t yet after this review.

On The Ground is an awesome track. I literally have to get that off my chest. I was pretty satisfied with the entire song from the start. ROSÉ really shined with her vocals in this song, making a lasting impression of a minimalistic acoustic instrumental at the start of the song. Her vocals were extremely clear and I really like the tiniest tinge of raspiness in her voice throughout the song. The producers were very clever with the minimalistic instrumental approach, as this made us zone into her vocals from the very first second. I also like the ‘Every day, every night‘ line in the verses, which reminded me for the briefest of seconds, a Taylor Swift type of melody. The chorus is a bit of a twist, with the direction changing for a bit of an electronic influence. I really liked this beat drop changeup, as it cuts through the acoustic of this song and brought a intense dynamic to the song without going for an overload of synths or strong beats. It is aesthetic, similar to how I perceived Jennie’s solo debut. As mentioned at the start of this paragraph, I was pretty satisfied with the song. But what sealed the deal for On The Ground that spectacular high note/peak. It came out of nowhere and everything before it in the bridge did not give me any idea that high note was fast approaching. It was so good and out of the blue that it left a strong impression on me. To the point where it made the final chorus feel more astonishing and lively. Needlessly to say with how impressed I am with the song, ROSÉ delivered a stunning solo debut song with On The Ground.

The music video compliments the song so well. I really like how the music video really highlighted her visuals throughout the video and kept her grounded (pun intended) throughout the video (for the most part). I also liked, to match with the song’s chorus, the music video opted for explosions and really cool effects (i.e. floating ROSÉ) to heightened the chorus’ vibes and energy. I also like how glamarous she looked throughout the video, which I am sure is reference to her celebrity status. But there are many scenes littered throughout showing us that she is realizing what is most important to her is not that lifestyle, but rather being herself. This is the premise of the lyrics as well.

[Updated] The performance was very clever. The thing that really stood out to me was just really how low the performance was, which felt fitting for the song’s lyrics/title. The first chorus was performed by Rose and the dancers by lying on the floor. The second chorus was performed sitting on the ground, while the final chorus was performed while standing up. It was a creative choice and it felt like a climb that shows that while she was at a low while living the glamorous life, she got back up as she fully embraced her own identity.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 10/10 [Updated]
Overall Rating – 10/10

[Album Review] THE ALBUM (1st Studio Album) – BLACKPINK

Given the long awaited wait for BLACKPINK’s first studio album and its success so far, I decided to fast track the album review for THE ALBUM. Otherwise, I think we are looking at a end of October or possibly even November publish date for the album review! THE ALBUM features of BLACKPINK’s 2020 releases including How You Like That and Ice Cream (with Selena Gomez). It also features the current track that the quartet is promoting, Lovesick Girls, as the title track. In addition to these three songs, THE ALBUM five side-tracks, all of which will be reviewed below. But before we proceed with this album review, can I take a moment to comment on the really plain and boring name of the album? Anything other than THE ALBUM would have been more exciting and appealing. Mini rant over. On with the reviews!

THE ALBUM album cover

1. How You Like That (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for How You Like That. (5/10)

2. Ice Cream (with Selena Gomez) (Title Track) Click here to read the full review of Ice Cream. (9/10)

3. Pretty Savage Pretty Savage is a pretty bland song. I feel like this is will be an unpopular opinion as I know many people enjoyed Pretty Savage. The song just underwhelmed. With a title like Pretty Savage, I would have expected something a little more hard-hitting and impactful energy. Instead, we got something that felt like hip-hop in neutral gear and the energy that the song started off with dwindled down as the song progresses along. Aside from the song’s roots in hip-hop, which the song nails perfectly (and hence I found that the song had a lot of potential – if only the producers ended up going with a little more impression rather than flair), there isn’t much to the song. None of the member’s lines or the chorus was memorable. Overall, a skippable track. (6/10)

4. Bet You Wanna (ft. Cardi B) – Like Pretty Savage, Bet You Wanna underwhelms once again. Unlike Pretty Savage, however, this song is much better that in comparison to the former track. The energy in this song doesn’t dwindle. Rather, it stays pretty much consistent throughout (more on this in a bit). The song’s lyrics and chorus could potentially become catchy and memorable if I am willing to continually press replay. The harmonies were pretty strong. However, I am not too inclined to replay the song because of the consistent energy. It felt repetitive by the time we got to the end of the song and it felt like the members were stuck, preventing the song to cultivate to anything climatic. And as much I am enjoying many of these international collaborations, Cardi B’s featuring in Bet You Wanna doesn’t amount to much. (7/10)

5. Lovesick Girls (Title Track) Click here to read the full review for Lovesick Girls. (9/10)

6. Crazy Over You – I personally felt that Crazy Over You would have better placed before Lovesick Girls. To me, Crazy Over You lies on the halfway point of just right (i.e. Lovesick Girls) and underwhelming (i.e. Bet You Wanna). The instrumental is definitely livelier and energetic thanks to the use of sound effects such as the squeaky scratching. The deep thumping and flute in the instrumental also add to the aesthetic of the song. When it came to the chorus, I expected a beat with a little more heft and energy. Something like what the end of Crazy Over You ended up becoming. As for the members, they all sounded good, though still on the underwhelming side of that spectrum. (7.5/10)

7. Love To Hate MeLove To Hate Me has a very beautiful instrumental. I found the start of the song to have this subtle intensity and the synths created a pulsing sensation which I totally found captivating. The bridge featured a bit of piano. Different to the rest of the song, but it works extremely well. I enjoyed the pre-chorus buildup, leading us to expect an epic drop for the chorus of the song. But Love To Hate Me’s producers throw us a curveball and pushes for an unexpecting and stripped minimalist beat that really made Lisa’s lines more impactful. It was only a brief turn though, before the song returns us with something a little more ‘pop traditional’ and a bit more melodically catchy to further drive the song into us. The members don’t really flourish in this song, but they do sound great! Definitely one of the better side tracks on this album. (9/10)

8. You Never KnowYou Never Know is a pop ballad that I thought did a pretty good job of showing off the members’ vocal. I also sense a bit of emotion to their voices in this song, which is always a good sign in the ballad world. The song was pretty easy to follow, with simple melodies being one of the driving forces in this song. I liked that the instrumental for this song was more classical (piano, strings etc.) and there has less reliance on the synths (though it was still a thing). This makes the song a little more epic and theatrical sounding, which I really enjoyed. Personally, these elements all come together to create my favourite (and what I believe to be a standout) track on this album. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

Lovesick Girls / THE ALBUM Teaser Image

[Review] Lovesick Girls – BLACKPINK

Kicking off the intense month of October is BLACKPINK, who makes their third return of the year with their long-awaited first album! With the group’s success since the start of their career, fans have been actively pursuing a studio album for the group for the past four years they have been active. Prayers and requests were answered earlier this year when YG Entertainment confirmed confirmed the album for September (though I personally was in a ‘see it before I believe it’ mindset), but it was later pushed to October. Lovesick Girls headlines the album, which was been titled as The Album, and features alongside BLACKPINK’s How You Like That (released back in July) and Ice Cream featuring Selena Gomez (released in August).

Lovesick Girls is a great changeup to the group’s (and YG Entertainment’s) usual style of music. More recently, the company’s artists have been exploring new sounds and genres, though most of these releases do opt for some of the usual YG tactics. Lovesick Girls seems to be the biggest step away from the usual style, by opting for a dance pop profile rather than the hip-hop roots associated with BLACKPINK and their company. It also doesn’t include the usual chant-like chorus and drop chorus, nor does it build up to an anthem-like final chorus (in an attempt to changeup the song in its final moments). No doubt, all of this is quite refreshing. To me, Lovesick Girls is an impressive display of BLACKPINK’s vocals and rapping. The pre-chorus is the prime example of the great vocals, before the group joins forces with an all-in approach and catchy hummable melody. I do have some minor complaint about the chorus vocals though. I didn’t like how the slight echoey nature of the chorus. I felt that the producers had a strong opportunity to make this part dynamic, but opted for a much weaker approach. It didn’t ruin the song for me, but it did strip away the energy that was building towards to the chorus. The rapping that features briefly in the first verse and more prominently in the second verse gives the song more heft and depth, with Lisa and Jennie incorporating a brief hip-hop touch to their delivery. What really made the rapping better was how well it complimented the instrumentation. If the instrumentation was the cake, then Jennie and Lisa’s rapping would be the icing. In addition to that sequence, I really liked what the acoustic guitars brought to the verses, further complimenting that dance pop styled-chorus. Overall, Lovesick Girls is definitely a great song!

What a stunning music video. For once, BLACKPINK is not in a built set. I think we have seen BLACKPINK out in the open air before, but it has been a while if I remember correctly. The music video shows the members in a happy relationship one second and the next second are in an argument or in tears over their relationship. It works well with the lyrics, which is all about them wanting to love someone forever but only knowing the pain of heartbreak. The most captivating part of the music video belongs to Rose during the bridge of the song. The way she throws black paint across the pink wall (subtle BLACKPINK reference?) and is later seen covered in black paint and crying in the bathtub is such an impactful sequence for me. Her acting was superb. I had to rewatch that sequence a few times to properly take it all in.

The choreography looks good. The chorus starts off simple but it slowly builds in complexity as the routine involves moving about. The way they got into formation for some parts (as shown in the music video) looks quite clever as well. Other than that, I don’t have much else to say.

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

[Review] Ice Cream – BLACKPINK with Selena Gomez

Apologies for the delayed review.

In my previous review for BLACKPINK’s earlier release this year (How You Like That), I mentioned that we would need to see the actual release of their studio album in September, given YG Entertainment’s past inability to deliver on their promise for releases associated with the group. That statement still stands, though it still looks hopefully given that we have their second single of the year, Ice Cream, as promised by their company. However, the album release has been pushed back to the start of October. But fingers crossed that 2020 will be the year that BLACKPINK finally gets their album.

In the meanwhile, let’s review their latest release, Ice Cream. The track is mainly English, but there is a rap sequence that is in Korean. Hence, I am categorising it as a Korean release and not an ‘International Song Release’. I personally don’t mind this song overall, but there are some parts that I am iffy about. Let’s start on the positives. Ice Cream joins a growing list of high profile names performing alongside high profile KPOP artists, with Selena Gomez singing alongside BLACKPINK in this song. And I feel like Ice Cream is predominately English to accommodate Selena’s featuring. I would have enjoyed the song more if it wasn’t torn between the two languages and that the rapping sequence at the bridge was in English, given that Lisa was already rapping in English earlier in the track. I liked the simple melody of the chorus, which helped make the song quite catchy and addictive for me. I might even catch myself humming along to the melody of this song in the coming weeks. The pairing of BLACKPINK and Selena was enjoyable, which I found to be surprising outcome given that I wasn’t sure how this collaboration would go. The instrumental, while typical by today’s KPOP standards due to the use of the trap elements, is quite vibrant and playful. So far, everything seems to exude youth and I quite like less intense side of the group. Now onto what I am exactly not too sure about. The biggest issue for me is Lisa’s raps. They seem a little too crude sounding for a song like this. I felt that if they toned it down, stepped back from the whole hip-hop breakdown that was going on and inserted some of that playful tones that we got in the chorus, it would have been more fitting and sensible. And the ‘Ice Cream‘ at the end just felt unnecessarily drawn out. It should have been short and sweet. But overall, Ice Cream is a refreshing and cooling treat for the fans.

I know that given the current circumstances of the world right now, YG Entertainment couldn’t bring Selena Gomez to Korea (or BLACKPINK to the U.S.) for the filming of the music video. I really would like to see what the music video would have been like if the collaboration were together as a group. That would have been epic. Aside from that wish, the music video did a good job of fusing the two halves of the video (with one half shot in the U.S. and the other half shot in Korea) to make it one whole video. I do note that Selena’s scenes were a lot better, in comparison to the sets that BLACKPINK shot in. They just looked a lot more interesting and captivating. Fashion-wise, I think I could say the same thing. Additionally, I do like how those youthful and playful charms were portrayed and were not over-complicated with a whole heap of cutesy scenes, which seems like the default in Korea.

We haven’t got much of the choreography, though it is amazing to see a lot of dance covers on YouTube for this release. It definitely shows BLACKPINK’s influence and how great this song is! I will return to this review if we are gifted with a performance or dance practice. I will also update that other review I promised to return to review the choreography, but I still haven’t yet.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – To Return (if there is a performance/dance practice)
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Review] How You Like That – BLACKPINK

It has been over a year since BLACKPINK made their comeback with Kill This Love and fans have been wanting more ever since. And after that gruelling long wait, BLACKPINK has finally returned with a new single, How You Like That. It is said that 2020 is going to be a big year for the group, as they are ‘confirmed’ for their album, which will be due in September 2020. Well, at least YG Entertainment claims so. We will have to wait for its actual release to actually believe it, given YG Entertainment’s track record with BLACKPINK’s past releases and the ‘promised’ solo singles for Rose, Lisa and Jisoo (these have been ‘confirmed’ for later in the year). But until then, we have How You Like That to relieve that BLACKPINK itch.

You might already know where this review is heading if I am going to say that the most enjoyable part of the song is the ending sequence. This is where the song delivers an instrumental piece that is both powerful and enjoyable for a number of reasons. The first reason was that everything before that was extremely lacklustre and boring. It failed to excite me, hype me, maintain suspense or capture my attention. The first verse was okay, but it needed a powerful drop once it got to the chorus to enforce the preceding section. Instead, the chorus opted for a dry and bland drop. It was quite emotionless, to put it frankly and this resulted in drying out the first verse as well. I know the final sequence is just an extension of the chorus (as you can hear the chorus behind the increased tempo and heavy beats), but it was something that that I was looking for because it added momentum and energy to the song. The rapping and vocal work were quite good. I liked how Lisa’s rapping really helped make up for the lost momentum of the chorus, delivering some impact. If only the instrumental was more interesting to help support that mindset. I will also give the song its How You Like That chorus hook, for the exact same reason. Another thing that I noticed as I listened to the song for the first time early tonight – I had the thought that How You Like That was a Kill This Love or Ddu Du Ddu Du version 2.0 as it basically went for the same formula. For their upcoming release, I would love to hear something that strays away from the same formula and hopefully is a lot more exciting to this than compared to this song.

It is a YG video and it expected that it will be a good music video. And I feel like they hit that mark, once again. The colours are very vivid, the lighting puts everything into focus and most importantly, the video highlights all the pretty visuals of the group. I really liked how their outfits and looks really had a wow factor to them in this video, which made it more captivating to watch. The same thing can be said about the set design. My favourite looks in this music video include Jisoo’s headwear that accompanies her red outfit, Rose’s casual outfit when she rips off the flower blindfold, Lisa’s red hair, Jennie’s look under the umbrellas, their dark angel dresses and all their outfits for the final sequence.

Dance wise, I thought it was a good routine. There is a lot of attitude in the choreography to support the chorus and this fits well with the lyrics of being better after breaking up with someone who doubted them. I also really like the strut they did as they launch right into the final sequence. Attitude and definitely boldness to kick off the best part of the song. I did think the line was a little odd. But it still worked.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.8/10

[Album Review] Kill This Love (2nd Mini Album) – BLACKPINK

Apologies again for the lateness of the review (this was meant to be published on Saturday but it is now Sunday where I am living). But this review will be looking at BLACKPINK’s 2nd mini-album to date, Kill This Love, which features the title track of the same name. I think the most exciting part of this comeback is that the number of BLACKPINK songs is growing, with the addition of 4 new songs (including the title track). The album also contains a remix version of DDU-DU DDU-DU, which I think is really good as well. But as this song was previously reviewed, it has been omitted from this album review. 

blackpink-killthislove-2
Kill This Love Album Cover

1..Kill This Love (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Kill This Love. (6.5/10) APOLOGIES TO ALL BLINKS OUT THERE. My original review referred to the song as Kiss The Love in the title. This has been rectified.

2. Don’t Know What To Do – The one thing that makes this song amazing is that it slowly builds up to the club-centred chorus. This makes the chorus stand out even more than what it already does standalone due to its energetic kick. And as a result, this makes the song one to remember. In conjunction with this is amazing formula, the song also centres itself around the member’s vocals capabilities. I don’t think there was much of a rap sequence in the song, which I think was slightly intriguing. I think the choice of vocals makes this song even more unique, as a rap would have potentially made the song feel typical in BLACKPINK’s standards. (9/10)

3. Kick ItKick It is what I would say is within the grounds of BLACKPINK typical standards. It has what I would say is a similar formula to their title tracks. But what I like about this track is that still manages to put a different spin on it. This was done through the more R&B and dragged out the chorus. Combined with their vibrant vocals (the ‘Kick It’ vocals are very popping), I think the chorus is quite dynamic. I also thought the inclusion of the rap sequence in the second verse makes this song a lot more appealing. Finally, the chanting part of the bridge was pretty good, feeling a void that I didn’t think exist until I carefully rethought the entirety of the song. (8/10)

4. Hope Not (아니길) – Following the focus on vocals rather than raps is Hope Not. It is a ballad that does an amazing job of showcasing the vocals of the members. It gives the powerful and popular girl group a more delicate sound. The instrumentation takes an acoustic guitar approach, and this goes well with the vocals. I did like the ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ part of the song, with that being the most memorable highlight of the entire track for me. Overall, it isn’t my personal favourite song on the album but it still good to listen to. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

blackpink-killthislove-3
Kill This Love Teaser Image

[Review] Kill This Love – BLACKPINK

The biggest comeback of this week has to go to BLACKPINK, who returned today with Kill This Love. But when it comes to BLACKPINK’s comebacks, do you know what makes this one better? The fact that we also get three new songs (so an album review is coming your way!). We last saw BLACKPINK through the extremely popular DDU-DU DDU-DU. We also got to see Jennie through her solo promotions of SOLO at the end of 2018, along with promises from YG for future solo promotions for the other members (hopefully!).

Kill This Love starts with blaring horns, which really encapsulates the group’s fierce style within the first few seconds of the song. It also hints towards a military-style concept, which will become apparent quite soon.  Following this, the group launches itself into a hip-hop infused verse, before settling on a vocally-centred pre-chorus. The blaring horns return for the chorus, which definitely had an added dramatic flair. At the end of the song, we get this military-like rolling drum beat that pretty brings the song back full circle to the same feeling that we got from the start (and it is probably my favourite bit) However, there are a few aspects that leave me rather disappointed with the song. The chorus was underwhelming, with a very mediocre approach for its catchiness. I also think the song was rather muddled with its many sounds. The presence of the extended pre-chorus right after the fierceness of the hip-hop verse really lost the flow of the track and it failed to make the chorus drop in a satisfying manner. Overall, I am not really feeling the song this time.

As usual, the music video is amazing. I say this with any YG Entertainment music video and will probably say it countless more times in the future. Each set looked amazing, especially the massive bear trap set. Though, I am never sure about the meaning behind every scene and how this relates to the lyrics or the rest of the video (sometimes, they feel quite random). I did find this video that did a good job of describing the scenes so I will post this here if you want to hear about a possible theory. I really like how edgy the members look with their outfits and on the sets. The military concept also carried over, with pretty much the ending being a massive military march.

The performance was really good. Fierceness seems to be the big word of the day, with it being an adjective throughout all the aspects of this comeback. The chorus looked amazing but my favourite choreography moment has to be the end with the marching/rolling drum beats. I enjoyed the rush of energy during this part.

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] SOLO – Jennie (BLACKPINK)

This is not a drill. But BLACKPINK is returning! Just not as a quartet this time around. Instead, it has been confirmed by YG Entertainment that each member will be making their solo debut. Jennie’s solo release kicks off the series of solo debuts for each member with the title track titled appropriately, SOLO. We last heard from BLACKPINK via their smashing hit, DDU-DU DDU-DU.

This is one unique song. And I am really liking it. But before we jump into a shocking in-depth description, I must apologise for my lack of music terminology. This is going to be really hard. I thought the song had a nice minimisalitc vibe, especially in the opening verse. I also like those spaced out tapping (cannot think of the right word here) sounds which give off a classy yet epic vibe. Very ear-catching. I thought the pre-choruses was nailed perfectly. Her vocals just sound so good during this section. The chorus takes a turn and drops that minimalistic vibe. Instead, the aesthetics here are turned up, giving Jennie an opportunity to showcase some dance. I actually enjoyed the ‘SOLO LOLOLO‘ hook. I thought her rapping was on point and very sleek. I was hoping for the final chorus to have more a kick but they maintained the same chorus (with slight changes), which I didn’t mind. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was different yet so appealing.

So, the message behind the song is confidence. More specifically (and I quote this from SOOMPI): “Many women are in a relationship where they give up a lot of things just to be loved by someone else. But even though they put in a lot of effort, in many cases, it will return to them as pain. The song talks about being free rather than making up a fake version of yourself.” So the video shows two sides of Jennie. The first is showing her as hurt and in pain. The second is confident and strong. And this was rather cool. I liked the way the video was shot, with the cinematography being a major highlight for me. I actually enjoyed her final dance scene with the 20+ backup dancers. Jennie stood out in that crowd but yet the aesthetic of it was just through the roof.

The choreography for this looks amazing. I personally want to see how this would look on stage because the choreography for the first chorus looked more freestyle. But for the second and final choruses, I thought everything looked bold and very charismatic, obviously the exact vibes that Jennie was going for.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.8/10 

[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from the First Half of 2018

With the first 6 months of 2018 officially over, it is time to look back at my personal favourite songs from the first half. Last week, I recapped the top songs from the Weekly KPOP Charts. But some songs that I personally liked didn’t really make that list. So here are 15 songs released over the last 6 months that are my personal favourites AND continually listen to (irrespective of the charts and the reviews – as opinions do change).

[Album Review] Square Up (1st Mini Album) – BLACKPINK

It has been a very long wait for fans but BLACKPINK has a mini-album under their name! Woo! With multiple digital hits, BLACKPINK have gone past the level of success which their previous hits have reached with their latest title track, DDU-DU DDU-DU. Many records have been broken by the ladies themselves with this comeback. So without waiting any further, here is my review of their Square Up mini-album.

blackpink-squareup-2
Square Up Album Cover

1..DDU-DU DDU-DU (뚜두뚜두) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of DDU-DU DDU-DU. (10/10)

2. Forever Young – Opening up the song is Jennie, whose voice in this song reminds me of CL a lot. The song ended up being quite memorable, with a catchy beat and vibrant sound. The song feels very Summery, which would make sense with its youthful lyrics. The vocals and rapping were quite cool. And for that, the first two minutes of the song becomes quite memorable. The only issue I had with the song was the last minute. I think it could have been a song on its own and created this massive mismatch with the sound/vibe that came off the first two minutes of the song. It did bring the members together as a closer but it just didn’t feel right. (8/10)

3. ReallyReally has a very simple R&B/hip-hop beat and hook, which makes me hear the song as ‘standard’. As a result, it doesn’t really hit the mark or feel that memorable. The vocals and raps were nice but not exactly their best. The raps attempted to give the song some texture but sadly I don’t think it was enough to make me fall for the song, like what the other songs on the album did. Personally, I think it is their weakest track on the album and in their portfolio. (6.5/10)

4. See U Later – I really liked how the song started for some unknown reason. I cannot pin the reason why but it set the verses up for success. And they delivered as a result. The verses had this bright feeling to them which made them pop out for me. But what was unexpecting was the chorus’s drop, which also included a drop in the tone and entrance into a more serious hip-hop domain. But it works wonderfully. The raps and vocals were awesome. Best part of the song has to be the sassy ending. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

blackpink-squareup-3
Square Up Teaser Poster

[Review] DDU-DU DDU-DU – BLACKPINK

BLACKPINK is officially back. And finally, it isn’t a single. Instead, this is BLACKPINK’s first comeback with an actual mini-album. DDU-DU DDU-DU (뚜두뚜두) is the lead title track off their first mini-album, Square Up. Their last comeback was As If It Is Your Last, which was released back in June 2017. Since then, they did release a mini-album of their past hits in Japan and also released a very questionable lightstick.

DDU-DU DDU-DU has already topped the charts in South Korea and I can see why. First listen in and I was already enjoying the song. It takes on the hip-hop sound which their respective company centres around and they turn it into something that BLACKPINK can only release. I love the bass and the beat in the song, which really hypes up the song. The verses are made up of raps, while the pre-chorus focuses on the vocals. Can I just take a moment to just point out how the members sound flawless in this song, especially Jisoo and Rose during the pre-chorus. However, the standout section of the entire song has to be the chorus itself. I really like how simple it sounds but also it also presents a really catchy sounding instrumentation. I also like the change-up at the end with the exotic/foreign feel and the fast-paced flute (not too sure of the instrument), which ended the song on a bold yet strong note.

To me, the music video is BLACKPINK’s version of I Am The Best. The entire video shows BLACKPINK as strong and fierce women, which goes hand-in-hand with the song’s message. But there were some scenes that made me think of 2NE1’s famous video. The entire video is definitely on another league with me liking every single scene and set. I really liked the giant chessboard, the Audrey Hepburn/rain scene, the chandelier, the post-apocalyptic dance set and literally everything else that I haven’t listed. Each member looked flawless and bold with their stylistic choices.

It seems like the ‘gun’ dance that opens up the chorus (and occurs at the main hook) is going to be the next big thing. Actually, the entire choreography during the chorus looks amazing, with the group not holding back on the fierceness. While the entire performance isn’t out yet, I have high expectations. From what I saw in the music video, I think I can confidently give a rating.

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

[Review] As If It’s Your Last – BLACKPINK

BLACKPINK is the first YG group in a very long time to not disappear without a trace from the KPOP scene and then make their comeback 5 years down the track. With their seniors, 2NE1, now gone, BLACKPINK has big shoes to fill and their first attempt is with As If It’s Your Last. That being said, BLACKPINK has their own colour and style, which has already proven to be extremely popular. Without a doubt, they have what it takes to fill the shoes of their senior labelmates.

As If It’s Your Last starts off as a strong song. A little different but it suits Summer quite nicely. I love the bass during the verses and the pre-chorus. It reminded me of Boom Bah Yah (which I grew to love). Just the end of the pre-chorus build up didn’t sit right and it felt too instantaneous. The chorus turns the song into a more pop-styled song, which is good and all. But it just doesn’t suit the bass and well, the start of the song. It made it sound generic. The song does throw it back to the great start for the second verse, but it doesn’t save the song. Usually, the final chorus is where the artist changes things up a bit. Here, the final chorus felt just simply like another copy from the previous two choruses. Their vocal work in this song is quite strong and definitely, makes the song sound so much bolder and defined. Something that I have noticed is that their title track’s first impressions have been let downs. But I have grown to love their songs after many replays, so maybe that might just happen here. But for now, I will leave you with those comments.

The music video quality from YG Entertainment is always excellent. And it happens to be the case here. But there is nothing too mindblowing or impressive. Just a standard music video. But there was something that caught my eye. Lisa’s outfits are quite questionable in this music video. And I think some fans are also questioning the style behind the outfit. The first is the blacktop with the sparkly bra or bikini top (most likely sewn onto the blacktop). The second are those denim shorts and two massive pieces of obnoxious fabric on her legs…. Watch the video if you haven’t seen them. And you will most likely see why I question some of these fashion choices in KPOP sometimes.

[UPDATED] Apologies for the lateness. But the performance was actually quite good And that’s the best that I can describe it. There wasn’t anything that felt new or different with regards to the performance, in comparison to other groups out there. However, for a relatively new group, their stage presence is amazing.

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10 [UPDATED]
Overall Rating – 7/10 [UPDATED]

KPOPREVIEWED 2016 Awards – Part 2

Click here to see the list of nominees for this year’s awards and scroll down to find out who wins!!!

If you have yet to see Part 1 (which also explains this corner) please click here.


BEST MALE ROOKIE GROUP

2016 saw a lot of new boy groups make their debut on the stage. Compiling the list of nominees for this section was extra hard because there were so many great debuts that just missed out on a spot on the list. The winner of the Best Male Rookie Group 2016 is Astro, who made continuous comebacks after their debut, pushing them into the spotlight. Honourable mentions are given to VRomance for their debut song, She.


BEST FEMALE ROOKIE GROUP

Like the male rookie group section above, a lot of girl groups made their debut in 2016. And a lot of them provided us with the hottest tracks of the year. WJSN, otherwise known as Cosmic Girls, made their debut with Mo Mo Mo and came back with one of the best tracks of the year: Secret. They are my pick for Best Female Rookie Group. Honourable Mentions goes to BlackPink and I.O.I (It was very hard to choose for this category).


BEST MALE SOLOIST

As every other year, solo artists are debuting and making comebacks. 2016 saw the long-awaited debuts of some main vocalists of different idol groups and the return of solo artists that we have known for a while. The winner has to be Zico (Block B) with his ballad track: I Am You, You are Me. This one track alone has been a chart topper and gave the rapper a new side. Honourable mention goes to Eric Nam and his surge in popularity this year with his releases.


BEST FEMALE SOLOIST

2016 was a very big year for female solo artists. Like the male solo artist awards, big names came back, while long-awaited debuts were made. My pick for the winner of Best Female Soloist goes to Taeyeon (SNSD). Her singles have been remarkable thus far. Honourable mentions goes to Hyosung (Secret), whose song is still being replayed, half a year after release.


BEST MALE GROUP

So many to consider. Can’t count with my fingers for this category and the next. But it has been a big year for male groups (and likewise female groups). Out of all the artists, I have to pick Seventeen as the group that stood out the most and hence are the winners here. As for honourable mentions, GOT7 takes it this year.


BEST FEMALE GROUP 

As mentioned above, girl groups have also had a very big year in KPOP. And there were too many to count as well. But my overall pick for Best Female Group has to be Mamamoo. 2016 has been their best year yet and I hope there are even better years to come. Oh My Girl receives honourable mentions for their releases of high quality and catchy songs.


BEST ALBUM

Now, I promised album reviews this year and my apologies, I failed to deliver. I asked you guys again (thanks to everyone who contributed to the survey) and album reviews are still something you guys want. I can’t review every one of them, but I will try my best to cover the main and biggest releases. As for 2016, Wings released by BTS as their 2nd Studio album is my pick for best album. I also thoroughly enjoyed the songs released by B.A.P as their third studio album, Carnival, which also takes Honourable Mention.


BEST MUSIC VIDEO

Many great videos were released this year. From amazing plots to great cinematography, or just the standard video that looks amazing, 2016 had it all. My picks for both the winner and honourable mention were videos that were long in length, but one focused on an action-packed story and the other for its complexity. The winner is B.A.P‘s Skydive and honourable mention goes to BTS‘s Blood Sweat & Tears.


BEST DANCE/PERFORMANCE

And as with every year, KPOP groups and solo artists have amazing dances that should be commended. There were so many top contenders, that it was quite hard to compile the list of ten. But nonetheless, my pick for best dance would have to be GOT7‘s Hard Carry and honourable mention goes to The Eye by Infinite.

 


BEST SONG OF THE YEAR

The hardest award to decide for. Hahaha… I put down 22 songs for this award. 22 amazing songs. And now I have to narrow the list to just 1. The difficulties. That being said, I won’t announce it words. Just watch the video below. But before that, let’s look at the honourable mentions that I manage to narrow down from that list of 22. Hover over the pictures to find out who and which song were picked. Note that these honourable mentions or the winners are not chosen via the end of year charts, but my thoughts alone.

And my pick of Best Song of 2016 goes to……

veryniceseventeen.gif

VERY NICE – SEVENTEEN

Congratulations to all winners, honourable mentions and nominees. Everyone in general!!