[Album Review] Summer Queen / After ‘We Ride’ (5th Mini Album / 5th Mini Album Repackaged) – Brave Girls

As promised the week before, I would be fast-tracking the album review for Brave Girls’ latest mini-albums after the release of the repackaged version, After ‘We Ride’. Well, that was dropped two weeks ago, which enables me to finally prepare a review for the Summer Queen mini-album as well. What I didn’t expect is for the repackaged album to only feature one new song (i.e. the title track that shares the same name as the mini-album, After ‘We Ride’) and new versions of some of the songs on the Summer Queen mini-album. However, I still went ahead and combined the two mini-albums to form one album review. Included in the album rating for this album review is the tracklist of Summer Queen (excluding the English version of Chi Mat Ba Ram) and the title track of the repackaged album. The new versions of the Summer Queen tracks (present on the repackaged mini-album) and the English version of Chi Mat Ba Ram are linked in the review below, but do not contribute to the overall album rating I give at the end of all album reviews. Hopefully, it makes more sense as you read through the album review!

Summer Queen mini album

1. Chi Mat Ba Ram (치맛바람) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Chi Mat Ba Ram. (9/10)

2. Pool Party (ft. E-Chan of DKB) – I had plans to review Pool Party when a music video was released for the side track. But unfortunately it slipped and time got away from me. I liked this side track for a number of reasons. It was a stylish extension of Chi Mat Ba Ram, suitable for both the summer season which the comeback is clearly catered for and also a party environment (thanks to its synth pop instrumentation). The melodies and hooks were quite minimal in terms of effort, but they definitely went a long way. And E-Chan’s featuring was satisfying. Overall, Pool Party was a fun and upbeat addition to the album. (9/10)

3. Summer By Myself (나 혼자 여름)Summer By Myself reminds me of a blend of 90s old school hip-hop. There is just that nostalgic feel with the song and the vocals that give off vibes from that era. That being said, however, I felt some of the vocals could have been better. Some of it steered into a high pitch mode which came off as whiny for me. But apart from that, I enjoyed Summer By Myself. I liked the brass in the instrumentation, the beat of the song and how it wrapped up in a satisfying manner. (8/10)

4. Fever (토요일 밤의 열기) – Brave Girls continue to bring us back further into history with this retro disco number. But what makes Fever so good is the mature vibes that the members effortlessly pull off. It is another strong song from the group off this album. The vocals are very well done. The rapping was enjoyable. But the harmonised bridge was probably the members’ strongest asset in this song, flowing so smoothly to my ears. If I have to criticize the song for any reason, it would be the wobbly metallic synth we get in the background. I think Fever could have done without it. (9/10)

5. Chi Mat Ba Ram (English Version)Click here for the English version of Chi Mat Ba Ram.

After ‘We Ride’ Repackaged Mini Album

1. After ‘We Ride’ (술버릇 (운전만해 그후))Click here to read the full review of After ‘We Ride’. (8/10)

For the rest of the repackaged album, click the hyperlinks next to the songs:

2. Chi Mat Ba Ram (치맛바람) (Acoustic Version)Click here for the audio of the acoustic version of Chi Mat Ba Ram.

3. Fever (토요일 밤의 열기) (Remix) Click here for the remixed audio of Fever.

4. Summer By Myself (나 혼자 여름) (Piano Version)Click here for the piano version of Summer By Myself.

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

[Review] After ‘We Ride’ – Brave Girls

Another week has come and we have a new set of comebacks this week. First up is Brave Girls, who rose to fame via their 2017 release Rollin’ earlier this year. A lot of attention and pressure was placed upon their comeback, Chi Mat Ba Ram and the mini-album Summer Queen, which dropped in June. And today, the group returned with the repackaged version of Summer Queen, which has been retitled After ‘We Ride’. The title track from the repackaged mini-album shares the same name, After ‘We Ride’. Summer Queen and After ‘We Ride’ will be fast-tracked this weekend for an album review. In the meanwhile, here is my review for Brave Girl’s new song.

Fans of Brave Girls may already recognise the ‘We Ride‘ part of the title, as it was the title of the group’s main promotional track in 2020 (the potentially last single from Brave Girls had Rollin’ not blown up earlier this year). That song talks about a relationship that has become boring. After ‘We Ride’ seems to portray the aftermath of that story, with that relationship going from boring to conflicts and the inevitable breakup of the couple. After ‘We Ride’ has a notable 80s retro influence, similar to We Ride‘s retro influences but different from the earlier song’s city-pop sound. What I like a lot about After ‘We Ride’ is how they infused that retro influence with rock. While this might not be exactly new, I did really enjoy the refreshing the combination was and how suitable it felt for the Summer season. The combination also showcased a lot of passion and emotions, which was also highly suitable for the story told by the lyrics that I mentioned above. This same passion and emotion was showcased in the members’ vocals throughout the song, making this even more captivating to listen to. As the song takes on a more mature topic and profile, After ‘We Ride’ sacrifices the catchy hooks and addictiveness that their most popular songs had. And I do admit that I miss that element in this song. But that doesn’t stop After ‘We Ride’ from being a charming song to listen to. The ‘Ooh‘s and the harmonies at the start of the song was helpful in easing us into the song’s meatier bits. The slightly autotuned repetition of the title as the After ‘We Ride’ main hook wasn’t as strong as previous hooks (as previous mentioned), but it worked well with the song’s tone. Overall a captivating listen nonetheless.

The music video is one of many that you probably need to watch only once and you would get the gist of it, so there isn’t really a need to revisit the video. Throughout the video, we see the members come to terms with their breakup. It takes them a while to get there. After all, the video needed to be the length of the song at the very least). However, I kind of wished we got to see them to converge together as a group at the very end. That would have been nice and touching (and it would also complement the theories that I am reading about the song in the YouTube comments).

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from 1st Half of 2021

Within a blink of an eye, another 6 months have passed. 2021 was still an awful year with lockdowns, isolation and the pandemic still dominating news headlines. I feel that these events, amongst other things, has really slowed me down this year. But at least, KPOP was on the pleasures that I still had to get me through these last 6 months.

A lot of albums and a lot of songs were released, per usual, in the span of the first 6 months of 2021. And I am still playing catch up with some to write reviews for! I will get there eventually! But in the meanwhile, I thought I share with you 10 KPOP songs that are my personal favourites from the last 6 months (in no particular order). Why 10? Well, it is an even number and I just couldn’t decide on a few, so I went with a couple :D. (Please note that this is irrespective of my reviews – songs can grow on you over time!)

Let me know if we shared similar taste in 2021 so far? And if we don’t, then comment below what your favourite songs of the year are! I would love to see what you all have been enjoying.

[Review] Chi Mat Ba Ram – Brave Girls

Brave Girl’s comeback this week has to be the most anticipated comeback of 2021. Earlier this year, Brave Girls experienced a resurgence on the Korean music charts with their 2017 now-hit Rollin’ after a performance went viral. Similarly, their 2020 release of We Ride also experienced a similar resurgence on the charts. What makes this resurgence remarkable is that Brave Girls went from no schedules to many full weeks of schedules, and the group revealed that they were considering disbandment in the weeks ahead of this unexpected event. Now all eyes are on their latest comeback, which officially dropped on Thursday this week. Chi Mat Ba Ram, which translates to Swishing of My Skirt, is the title track off the group’s fifth mini-album, Summer Queens.

There is a lot of unload with Chi Mat Ba Ram. And while that potentially sounds like a bad thing, don’t worry! I am totally digging the new track from Brave Girls. The first aspect that I noticed about the song is its summery energy. It is pretty much undeniable with all the saxophone and tropical house that the producers of the song employ to drive the song forward. Like a lot of songs nowadays, this mix isn’t the most innovative combination in music at the moment. But it doesn’t mean the song doesn’t come off as refreshing and upbeat. And I really like how the energy feels even more than that. In a way, it is in your face (but in a more positive manner). The second aspect of Chi Mat Ba Ram that gets me excited is its catchiness and addictiveness. Even though I have been off the blog for the last few days, once the song dropped, I was (madly) repeating the song because I just couldn’t get enough to it. The hooks are fantastic, and I noticed even the smallest of details within the hook and melodies were what I was looking forward to. I do agree with a lot of people who say that this doesn’t have the same level of catchiness as Rollin’ did. I felt the hooks were probably a step below Brave Girl’s biggest hit. But that doesn’t mean that Chi Mat Ba Ram is a weaker song. The third aspect has to be the vocals. This bleeds into the performance aspect of my review slightly. But I feel that Chi Mat Ba Ram showcases more of what the group has to offer when it comes to the vocals department. I don’t think any of the members were shortchanged into this song and each had their chance to perform, which is what you would want in any song. Overall Chi Mat Ba Ram is a solid effort from both Brave Girls and Brave Brothers (the team behind the group). It may have its differences from Rollin’. But as mentioned before, I am really into their song and look forward to replaying it even more in the future.

It is also undeniable that this is a Summer themed comeback with a music video like this. While it shot at a beach, there were some post-production applied to the video to show us various skies in the background and some additional props throughout the video such as the mini-plane with the Brave Girls banner and the massive airplane at the start of the video. Elsewhere, it looked liked the video was shot in a studio. I wished they kept to the outdoors for the video, as I think that would have been a better image for their comeback, given it is a Summer concept. Though, I guess anything is better than the dark stormy skies that got as part of the Rollin’ comeback. Visually, I think the group looks fantastic and their smiles bring a fresh colour to the video.

I really liked how this performance had a lot more going on, than compared to Rollin’. It might seem much, but it was always refreshing to see something different than the same key moves repeated over and over. It might have worked for Rollin’, but it would not for every song out there. I really like the skirt pinch move they do. It is sexy and looks really refreshing, but not over the top where it would cause a lot of criticism. I think the only thing I would have liked to be different in the performance was their ending pose. It looks a bit meh to me.

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

[Review] We Ride – Brave Girls

It has been a while since we last heard from Brave Girls. Their last comeback, the fantastic and much underrated Rollin’, was back in 2017. While the group did drop a new version of Rollin’ in Summer 2018, we haven’t anything else from the group since. But that all changed yesterday, when the members (now a four member lineup, with Hayun departing the group due to health reasons) made their comeback with We Ride.

Brave Girls ride the retro wave through the city pop genre that We Ride is based on. I find it to be quite a nice track. The instrumental gives the song a nice twinkling and felt somewhat refreshing, especially in a landscape of intensity and lightness. We Ride fits in between, leaning more to the lighter side of the spectrum. Pleasant and calming would be the words I used to describe this song, which aren’t bad words to describe a song (more on this in a second). We Ride features good vocals from the members, carrying appealing melodies. I liked how the pre-chorus was delivered, going into that high pitch note upon the completion of each line. But while We Ride does get a tick of approval from me, I am left a bit too chilled out upon the completion of the song. When I go back to listen to their previous comeback, I was low key expecting something to continues the excitement that Rollin’ had generated (regardless of the three year gap from when we last heard from them), as the group deserved to follow up with something as exciting and powerful as that release. So retrospectively, We Ride doesn’t live up to the expectations that Brave Girls has essentially created for themselves. That does influence the song rating I would give it. But putting those thoughts aside, We Ride is still a good song.

The music video takes on imagery that fits both the city pop genre and retro vibes of the music video. And for that, the video looks awesome. From the TV commericals on the old TV that the members are featured in to the use of green screen for their choreography shots on what I believe to be a take on Korean music shows back in the day, the video and song definitely compliment one another. It is quite well executed that I am looking in the other direction of the music video flaws.

The weakest aspect of the comeback has to be the choreography. It is quite dull and not exciting. Given the song, it is kind of hard to find something that works for the members and the song’s style/genre. But I just wished the choreographer they had enlisted for this comeback had found a better balance or middleground for this comeback.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 5/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[Review] Rollin’ – Brave Girls

Brave Girls have returned with a brand new track. Rollin’ is their first song of the year, and it also marks another lineup change, with Yoojin leaving the group and Hyeran on hiatus. Currently, the girls are promoting as a 5 member girl group. They returned to the scene last year after a 3-year absence from the stage, with Deepened and High Heels.

If I were to pick a word that I use so many times, it would be ‘amazing’. Oh, that is also what this song is. Amazing. When I first heard the song, I dug it. I fell for it. I loved it. And now, after so many replays, I think I am obsessed. It has a simple club beat, but it also throws some tropical house sounds in the instrumental break. While the music suits more of Summer, it manages to work for me. Maybe it is because we (Australians) just escaped the Summer, so the feels are still there. Given their more recent songs, I didn’t count on hearing such a great song for them and I glad I didn’t avoid the song. The vocals were clear as day and all the other elements go well with each other. But there is something that puts the cherry on top of the song. That is the really catchy and addictive “rollin’ rollin’“. It brings a smile to my face and it makes me sing along to it. Like the word, the instrumental, at that moment, gives off that rolling effect. It may sound simple, but it goes a long way. Hence why I totally dig this track.

The official music video is rated 19+. Brave Entertainment also released a “clean version” of the music video. I only glance over of the clean version but the only difference between the rated version and clean version are scenes scattered throughout where all members are sitting with each other and they were filmed wearing revealing clothing. I personally don’t see anything graphic (or worth labelling as 19+) about them, like many Korean music videos that have a rated warning, such as Nine Muses’ Wild. The video was made using a green screen, which makes them looking like they are dancing in a room, outside in a storm. While that does sound cool to an extent, it also seems very odd. However, the darkness seems to fit well with the song. There is just something about it that clicks right into place. The majority of the video consist of choreography scenes and a few more closeups sprinkled throughout. Yeah, it isn’t anything impressive, but overall, it is an okay video to watch.

I would say I love half the choreography and dislike the other half. The “rollin’ rollin'” part where the girls are on the stools looked amazing and matched the song’s vibes at that part. The verses looked bland, but it too fit with the song. The part I dislike is the instrumental breaks. The dance at that part was far too slow for the beat, and it made the performance feel too slow.

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

Deepened – Brave Girls

Brave Girls made their debut back in 2011, with “Do You Know?”. They then returned in 2011 with “Easily”, “Nowadays, You” in 2012 and For You in 2013 and has since disappeared off the face of Earth. Three years later, the girls have returned as a seven member group (originally a 5 member group) with their new title track: “Deepened”. The current lineup includes: Hyeran, Yoojin (the two original members) and Minyeong, Yoojung, Eunji, Yuna, and Hayun.

This song really does not sit well with me. Not saying it is a bad song, but it just doesn’t appeal to me or really make me want to listen to it. It just lacks the colour and poppy sound that I want in my songs. But damn, this song reminds me of the days of slow RNB, where the artists would do some sort of dirty dance to the music. It also sounds like a song I would have associated with After School. Let’s leave it there, before I start any fan wars. The song just sounds monotone in my opinion. The rap was added to give it more a faster tempo, but I actually thought the rap was pretty boring. I can see the rapper trying her best and does a pretty good job overall, but in the song, it just felt boring. The chorus does pick the song a little bit (and is the exact bit that gives me those After School feels), but it really does not change much for me. I thought the rhythm, vocals, lyrics (a bit suggestive, but I think we can all handle it like grown adults) and tune was all pretty good, just it sounds monotone and that really ruins it for me. I just can’t imagine this song any other way.

The music video was interesting. Seems like the girls have gone down the sexy concept route. And I think it does wonders for them. I am inclined to watch the video since I think it is quite a nice video to watch. It matches the monotone of the song. And I say all of that in a good way. Love how they use the one shot form to introduce the video at the start of the song/video. Goes hand in hand with the way the song is structured. Their sets looks pretty good and realistic as well. Gives off that hip hop and edgy vibe. The only thing that troubles me is the fact that they look like they are wearing fitness clothes. It looks good on them, but it just makes me giggle everytime I see them in it, because I think they are going to workout or something later. Don’t mind me, if you have been following me since the start, I have a weird sense of humour. That slow dance scene was pretty good as well.

A lot of sexy in this dance and a lot of swaying hips. On stage they look more like hip hop girls, but in the video the sports bra really brings out the fitness side of them, I guess. Not exactly fond of the extremely slow squat. The speed of the dance fits the song perfectly, but the squat just looks uncomfortable and unimaginative.

Overall, the whole comeback is okay. Sum it up for you guys in a few words. 6/10