[Review] Leo – BOL4 ft. Baekhyun (EXO)

May is going to be one intense month given the popularity of many acts that have been confirmed a release for the month. And we have just saw the competition get a little more intense with the release of another big collaboration. This one is between BOL4 and Baekhyun from EXO. BOL4 has been a huge artist, dominating the charts over the past few years with songs like Galaxy, Some, Travel and Bom. More recently, BOL4 was reduced to one member (Ahn Ji Young) with the departure of Woo Ji Yoon. Despite that, it was confirmed that BOL4 (now a solo act) would return later this month, with Leo being a pre-release single. Joining her later this month in a solo comeback of his own and Leo is Baekhyun from EXO, who no doubt every knows of due to EXO’s popularity and through his past digital hits such as UN Village and Dream (with Bae Suzy).

As this is a pre-release single for BOL4’s upcoming album, Leo is very much in her willpower. Her unique vocals shine throughout this song from the very first moment we hear her. There is something about that slight nasally voice that just makes many of her songs so captivating. The song has this really light and floating feeling, which really compliments her vocals that doesn’t make it tiring. It pretty much throws you back to BOL4’s early days with the songs in which grew the name and got her to the top of the charts. The song’s instrumentation is jazzy and I find suits the Summer season quite a bit. And Leo‘s brightness compliments the lyrics is about being happy when seeing the person you love. But BOL4 only makes up one half of the song. The other half is occupied with Baekhyun who sounds really sweet in this song. I don’t really have much to say about his voice. But I do find that his voice keeps the song grounded in a way, which was an interesting thought I had. It might have something to do with the contrast between BOL4’s high tone and Baekhyun’s deeper tone. When they sing and harmonise together, I find that they manage to bring the the floating feeling and grounded feeling together quite neatly, creating a very balanced atmosphere and relaxing in the song.

The video only features BOL4, who portrays that happy feeling that the song expresses. It seems like she is a homebody in the music video who doesn’t enjoy going outside. She keeps to herself and practically lives on her own. Not sure why she doesn’t leave her sanctuary. But she has her up and down moments living alone. She has her happy moments when she listens to the little stereo (which is how Baekhyun made a cameo in the video – without even appearing physically – I thought that was very well planned). But she has her low moments (i.e. when she was winding the wool and got board). A butterfly (i.e. something that she loves a bit) flew into her apartment and attracted her attention. From then on, she was quite happy. So happy that she followed the butterfly outside and enjoyed her time. I like how the video sends a simple message of that if you are with someone you love, it will make anything you worry or are scared about meaningless, allowing you to overcome that hurdle. Overall, a nice video.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Double Review] Workaholic + 25 – BOL4

Another comeback this week is from BOL4, who made their return with two music videos from their latest mini-album, TWO FIVE. Both Workaholic and 25 serves as the title tracks for this release. And these are two tracks I am excited to review (as I have a lot to positive things to say about the two tracks already!)  We last saw the duo earlier this year through their Bom and Stars On Me double-track promotions (for those who may have missed these ladies).

Let’s start off with Workaholic.  This is probably their most mature sound yet, which caught me by surprise (given how the duo’s songs are usually incorporate happy thoughts and bright elements). Despite that initial surprise, I actually find this to be a really cool song. It is all about wanting to live a different life but unable to due to the demands of one’s current life. Something that I am sure we would relate to in some degree. Jiyoung’s voice sounds really nice in the track. But I really liked how the autotune gave the song a needed boost in the edgy department. I also like the use of guitars in the song. I can hear how Jiyoon will be incorporated into the song, but I also like the use of electric guitars to kick the song up a notch towards the end. Overall, I like the new direction that the duo opted for in this song.

25 is a little different from Workaholic. It is actually the sound that I had expected from the duo. There is a subtle bright and upbeat atmosphere to it, which is why the track sounds like it aligns to the duo’s discography more than Workaholic did. While I don’t usually like songs that keep a consistent instrumental, 25 has the opposite effect on me (despite falling into that category) to an extent. The instrumental didn’t buildup at all, which allowed me to focus purely on Jiyoung’s vocals and harmonies throughout the song (which is the standard huskiness). I did like the melody and I did think the chorus was catchy. But the chorus felt masked by the rest of the song and blended in a little too much for my liking. The song talks about the quarter-life crisis that people have at the age of 25, which I am nearing very soon.

I like how the storyline of the video reflects the lyrics in Workaholic. Essentially, we see Jiyoung playing the character who wants a better life but is stuck in her job. She drinks as a way out and this causes her problems at work. And the whole thing just repeats itself. In the end, she decides that she has had enough. Changing her outfit and causing a mess at the workplace, she is joined by the comedic relief of the video (fellow member Jiyoon) to end the video standing in the midst of a lot of pyrotechnics. I really liked how they made Jiyoung look so much mature in the video and the greyness was very fitting to make things look draining.

As for 25, the video is a lot more colourful. I think this plays in well with the song’s meaning though. The colourfulness seems to reflect the years before 25, while the emotions they are conveying throughout the video shows that quarter-life crisis. Though, I think the message that the video is showing is that everything is okay, especially if you have a friend to hang out with during this time. Jiyoung’s and Jiyoon’s friendship is quite cute in the video.

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

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

[Double Review] Bom + Stars Over Me – BOL4

It is time for another double review. However, this one features two songs from the very popular duo, BOL4 or Bolbbalgan4, which were released yesterday. The way they got popular made me think that they were going to be a one-hit wonder. But they managed to enter the limelight every single time they return, which goes to show that influence that BOL4 has over the Korean public. The two songs, Bom and Stars Over Me, are featured on the group’s latest mini album and are currently on top of the charts in South Korea. This is also their first comeback since Travel and Starlight.

And there is a reason to why Bom is currently on the top of the charts. Bom is a love song and its sound is very typical of this season. And if you don’t know, Korea really loves love songs during the Spring months, given the fact many love songs have trend during this time of the year. I found the song to be very sweet. But not overly sweet that gets me cringing, which is obviously a good thing. I like its instrumental. And the vocals were quite nice, which is expected from BOL4. The combination of two, however, makes we smile a lot and I can’t but think of spending time with the person I like while listening to the song, which is another reason to why I think it is successful.

To me, Stars Over Me is like Travel but more suited for the Spring season in which the release is in. But rather like a love song, the song focuses more on friendship (but it could still go either way). I like how more acoustic this song is, which I find it more in line with their previous releases. I also enjoyed the English in the track. It wasn’t 100% correct but it was still a fair effort on their behalf. It also seems like Jiyoon also had the opportunity to harmonize with Joyoung in the song, which I thought was also nice. Once again, there wasn’t anything that special about the song but it was still nice to listen to.

Bom’s music video is very twisted. While the storyline of Jiyoung (Cupid) using her arrows to make her crush love her is very fitting for the song, the way he comes back to her is essentially a case of Stockholm Syndrome (i.e. he remembered of those fond memories that she forced upon him by forcing him to love her). I did like the very start of the storyline where she missed two arrows and it ended up hitting Jiyoon instead. Stars Over Me is also like the song. It focuses on the friendship between the two members and showing them have fun at various places. I liked how the lyrics popped up on the screen every now and then, giving it more of that fun nature.

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

Stars Over Me
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] Wind – BOL4

Over the next few weeks, I will be attempting to catch up on the many reviews in which I have missed out. BOL4 is in the midst of their promotions for their latest mini-album. The mini-album has two title tracks, Travel and Wind. I have already reviewed Travel (and Starlight) when it first came out. Wind‘s music video was released later on and I have been waiting for its release before writing a full review.

Wind is a ballad that mixes with BOL4’s indie sound. The way Jiyoung sings this song is pretty childish, however, I mean that in a good way. It felt like a child singing it, which gave the song innocence and a delicate vibe. Her vocals are good, so don’t misunderstand my initial statements with her vocals. The only issue that I have with the song it is quite dry and doesn’t progress much. The instrumental started off with just a very subtle orchestral sound and repetitive triangle tinging in the background. It does increase in volume as it goes on (ever so slightly). However, it wasn’t enough to give the song that momentum. Instead, I try my best to stay focus on the song. I personally don’t understand why it is a title track, as it feels like a standard sidetrack on the album. Starlight was a much better candidate.

The music video seems to also be shot in the same place as Travel and Starlight was shot. However, it shows a love story made up in Jiyoung’s mind. The male counterpart in the video is played by Jisoo and they meet in the laundromat after he tosses a blanket (or white shirt) on top of her by accident. And then a who imaginative sequence begins with the two dating and falling in love. Even though it was imaginative, the ending shows the possibility of the two actually falling in love when Jisoo gives Jiyoung the coin. It was honestly a nice video and the slow-motion that was applied to the video paired well with the slow tempo of the song.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10

[Double Review] Travel + Starlight – BOL4

I haven’t reviewed BOL4 (or Bolbbalgan4) before, despite them being chart-topping artists in the past two years. With the release of their latest mini-album, Red Diary Page. 2, I thought it would be nice to finally talk about them on this site. This review will focus on Travel, which is one of the title tracks (the other being Wind, with no music video yet), and Starlight, which is a side-track (which has a music video, hence its inclusion in the review). 

Travel is your Summer time song that talks about taking a break and going on a vacation. Something I would like to have right now. It is a fun and bright song that really makes Jiyoung’s nasal vocals pop out. The song was extremely catchy with its catchy hook and you can genuinely feel the happiness in her vocals. The instrumental was extremely nice and I thought the guitar worked incredibly well with the rest of the song. Travel is one awesome song that I have been playing on repeat since its release and I have no plans on stopping.

Starlight takes on more of a ballad sound compared to Travel or any of their previous title tracks. It is quite breathtaking with the instrumental flowing around the vocals and the nasal vocals leaves you in awe. It is so good that I can’t really find anything that I dislike about it. I think there was a mix of electric and acoustic guitar in the song, which went extremely well with the orchestral and piano based instrumentals. Like Travel, the song has been on repeat since its release. And both songs are so good that I cannot choose an absolute favourite.

Each music video does an amazing job at compliment the song. As stated previously, Travel was a fun and bright song. And the video focused squarely on those two elements portraying a fun travel adventure where the duo seem to be carefree and having the time of their life, while the colours popped to make it such a bright video. Starlight, like the song, allows you to take in some of the views of where they took their holiday (I assume). Majority of the video was focused on the duo but I must admit, it is shot beautifully. The ending when the sky changes to the night sky (via post-production editing) was really nice. What puts the icing on the cake for me in this video is how perfect the wind is. Fake or not, it was done well and to reasonable proportions (and not over the top).

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

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