[Special] Queendom 2 – Round 1 – Representative Song Battle – EP.1&2

It is time we crown the next Queen of KPOP through the second season of Queendom. Following the success of Queendom Season 1 (which crowned Mamamoo as the winner), Road to Kingdom (which gave The Boyz a one way ticket to the next competition) and Kingdom: Legendary War (which crowned Stray Kids as the winner), Queendom is officially back with six new female participants. This season sees WJSN (Cosmic Girls), LOONA, Brave Girls, Kep1er, VVIZ and Hyolyn battle it out for the Queendom title, while Taeyeon (from SNSD) takes the helm as MC this time around.

As I have reviewed part of Queendom, all of Road To Kingdom and Kingdom: Legendary War, I will also be reviewing the stages of Queendom 2, recapping the high caliber performances from each round and also putting forward my thoughts on what the ranking should have been for that round.

Round 1 – Representative Song Battle

In this round, the groups are to perform a revamped version of one or two of their past hits. As part of these revamped versions of past hits, the groups also had the opportunity to bring them to life with never seen before stages.

In Queendom 2, the rankings were decided by three main criteria: audience votes, global fan votes and assessment from other Queendom 2 acts (i.e. their fellow competitors). These votes and assessments were tallied, and the act with the most points emerged as the winner of this round. The official results of that will be shown at the end of this post, along with my personal ranking from this round.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, LOONA was forced to rank sixth in this round as they could not perform with the other acts, and hence was not able to gain points from the audience or their fellow competitors. As a result, it was decided that the group would default to the last position for this round. However, as I am doing this review way after the airing date of this round, I will be including LOONA in my personal ranking for this round.

I will be reviewing the performances based on who went first, and will be looking at song arrangement, concept and choreography for this round.

Time For The Moon Night + Rough – GFriend

It is sad to just see only three members of VIVIZ perform Time of the Moon Night and Rough on stage. But at the same time, I am happy to see that the GFriend lives on. Especially when Rough came on, that was great nostalgia. I love the additional strings in both Time For the Moon Night and Rough, which helps transitions between the two songs, but also bring together the two halves of the performance. The intensity that came about from the mentioned transition was suspenseful and exciting. The electrical guitar in the bridge of the Rough section of the performance was just perfect, building off what was already present in the original song. Vocally, they didn’t stray from the original vocals. I did wish they did a bit more, just to give a fresh VIVIZ vibe to the performance. But instead, they rearrange who sang what since they are down three members. But nonetheless, VIVIZ did a good job with stable vocals. I also liked the slowed ending, dragging out the performance just for a little longer to make it a little more satisfying and to fit in with the concept of the stage.

For the stage concept, I liked how elegant and beautiful the trio looked on stage. They look like princesses on stage. Back when they debuted in 2015, they were schoolgirls. Then, they climbed to the top of the industry (i.e. the crown that Eunha dons), before that is thrown to the side and the group remerging as a new group (i.e. VIVIZ – no crown). Further evidence of them acknowledging their past is via the 09021601 we see at the end of the performance is a combination of their debut dates under GFriend and VIVIZ. A detailed analysis of their stage is in the comments section of the YouTube video, so give that a read. The actual choreography also adopted the beautiful and elegant nature I mentioned. They changed parts of the choreography to highlight this and freshen it up to make it their own, but also managed to maintain the same atmosphere as the original routines. I also enjoyed the electric guitar sequence in the choreography.

Touch My Body – Hyolyn

Hyolyn was the second act to perform in the round and I liked how she also went back in time to her Sistar’s day to pick one of group’s most successful tracks. But unlike VIVIZ’s performance, Hyolyn did change a lot of it. Her re-arrangement of Touch My Body is quite refreshing. She opens up the performance with waterfall and jungle sounds, before taking on a more tropical feel for the rest of the performance. Again, great nostalgia comes when Hyolyn begins sing Touch My Body, and I liked that she put her own twist on the lines and amps up at the end, showing her vocal prowess. I liked the dance break we got. The brass and the drum work fitted in with the vibrant colours that this version of Touch My Body was going for, and also helped build some momentum to the stage.

I like how she extends that jungle and tropical feel to the stage. From her green coloured outfit to the palm leaves held by the male dancers, the waterfall and tropical imagery on the screens, everything worked really well and cohesively with each other. My favourite bit of the stage has to be at the bridge of the song, where the flames come up, representing heat. In addition to the original Touch My Body routine, she definitely heated up the stage with the choreography for the dance break, which was energetic, sexy and extremely vibrant. I also have to commend Hyolyn on her charisma, which I think helped her stage dominate this round.

WA DA DA – Kep1er

Part of me wants to exclaim that this is how you do a remix. But when I think about the performance objectively, I feel like more could have been done to make this alternative version of WA DA DA more robust and dynamic. Let’s start off with the positives. Kep1er’s WA DA DA version on Queendom 2 had a much more powerful punch to it, which makes it so appealing. The dance break had a bombastic feel to it. I also liked how they transformed the chorus in something so much stronger. Sure, it still have that cutesy element as in the original that I still wish they get rid. But they did soften my dislike for that section with what they did on stage at this part (more on that later). Unfortunately, I feel like more could have been done with vocals and rapping. For this department, it felt too much like the original and I feel like this holds back this version of the stage. Just my opinion though.

I kind of like the race car concept they went with, though I do think the physical stage could have been a bit more engaging. It looked incredibly plain. I guess the other teams had more people or used more interesting backgrounds to ‘fill up the space’, whereas Kep1er’s stage felt empty and lackluster. The camera work was also a weak point. Some of it was awesome, but other parts looked a bit rubbish. The most positive aspect of the performance, however, was the choreography. I really like the first chorus, with the sharp side by side motions and circle motion they make with their arms (see video image below). The dance break was super intense and definitely showed a different side of Kep1er. Two things though – I wish there was a bit of refinement as it looked a bit messy (especially as the group get into their positions). And again, I wished the cutesy vibes were less prevalent to match the performance’s more powerful manner.

Chi Mat Ba Ram + Rollin’ – Brave Girls

Brave Girl’s stage started off powerful, going with a militaristic start. After all the members were introduced, they revamped Chi Mat Ba Ram with a sensual R&B vibe, before changing the chorus with a techno backing before back to the original version of Chi Mat Ba Ram. The militaristic start and then sensual R&B returns for the dance break, which I thought was dynamic and rather cool. And then the performance jumps into the tropical version of Rollin’. Personally, I wished they went with a different version of Rollin’, simply because this tropical version has been done so many times before. They should have delivered something a little more original during the Rollin’ part of this performance. Like Kep1er’s comment about vocals, I also wished the vocals were changed up a bit. This would have made the arrangement a little more robust and exciting.

As for the stage, I really liked the blue on black they had going on through their outfits and on the screens behind then. It looked stylish. When it came to Rollin’, the multicolour shards of light on the screen looked quite cool, as well. I do wish the props weren’t cheap looking (i.e. the pieces of fabric that transitioned the performance from Chi Mat Ba Ram to Rollin’, and those fluoro-rods.). It just cheapens the performance and doesn’t put them in a good light. The powdered drums were cool though. As for the choreography, I liked the mixture of new and old. There was a nice balance there. The dance break was my favourite part, though, especially when they kicked the male dancers to the side. The sensual parts were also really good to watch.

As You Wish – WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

Out of all the performances, I feel that WJSN’s was the most captivating to watch. And this is equally shared throughout the three departments – music, stage concept and choreography. The stage started off in a dramatic and intense fashion, which is very opposite to both the original and this version of As You Wish. Then, the members started their performance of As You Wish, which was both elegant and atmospheric. The ramp up to the chorus was really well done in the arrangement, and I liked how explosive the chorus was for this version of As You Wish. They replicated a similar set up for the second verse. The second chorus was substituted out for a very powerful instrumental break that enables the group to showcase a much more powerful side in their performance. We are then treated to a bridge, and the final chorus/outro, which started off slightly distorted. The vocals and rapping, while were similar to the original, gave off different appeals due to the different backings, and I thought this was amazingly fine.

I personally do not know what the concept specifically is. But I guess stopping time might be a possibility, given the recuring hour glasses that was emptied. However, I have no clue what the context is. I quite like the aesthetic that the dancers brought to the stage. The various formations we find them in looked very intriguing. I also like how they were used to occupy the stage, while WJSN moved upstairs. As for WJSN’s choreography, the verses looked graceful, while the choruses featured the original. The dance break we got at the instrumental break is exactly how I described it above – powerful. But also refined, which matches with their style.

PTT (Paint The Town) – LOONA

It was a pity that LOONA was not counted for this round. Though, I am glad that LOONA still ended up performing their PTT stage though. For the most part, the song remains the same as the original. What I did like was the introduction and addition of Korean folk vocals and instruments. They definitely worked well with the original instrumentation, but also introduce a slightly different dynamic to the original version of PTT. I did like the instrumental break we got in the performance (i.e the dance break). The combination between the folk and synths created a very cool atmosphere. Like WJSN’s performance, the vocals work was pretty standard and like the original. But I think the music did enough to make it a different performance.

LOONA performed this version of PTT a week after Round 1 wrapped up. That is why the stage for this performance is different to the other contenders. I did think they made good use of what they had, though I wished we got to see a version on the Round 1 stage. I really liked their outfits (so bold) and the Korean folk elements they brought to the stage via the screen and props. For me the most riveting part has to be Olivia Hye pulled out the hair sticks to allow her hair to fall down. That looked really cool, and left a super strong impression on me that was memorable. The camera transition between Yeojin and Yves was really cool. Again, the choreography was very like the original. And once again, Olivia Hye’s solo part in the dance break was the best part of the stage.

And This Round’s Winner Is…

One round in and I can’t want to see the rest of what these groups/acts have in store for us! Each act bought a lot to the stage and their own charm, and so it was difficult to choose a winning performance. This is going to be one tough competition.

As mentioned twice already, I will be including LOONA in my personal rankings, which will ultimately help decide my pick for the winner of Queendom 2. I have also compared my personal ranking to the official Queendom 2 ranking below.

PositionOfficial Queendom 2 RankingKPOPREVIEWED’s Personal Ranking
5Brave GirlsBrave Girls

Up next: Queendom 2 – Round 2 – Cover Song Battle – Ep. 3 & 4

[Special] Queendom 2 – Opening Show Performance Rankings EP.0

It is time we crown the next Queen of KPOP through the second season of Queendom. Following the success of Queendom Season 1 (which crowned Mamamoo as the winner), Road to Kingdom (which gave The Boyz a one way ticket to the next competition) and Kingdom: Legendary War (which crowned Stray Kids as the winner), Queendom is officially back with six new female participants. This season sees WJSN (Cosmic Girls), LOONA, Brave Girls, Kep1er, VVIZ and Hyolyn battle it out for the Queendom title, while Taeyeon (from SNSD) takes the helm as MC this time around.

As I have reviewed part of Queendom, all of Road To Kingdom and Kingdom: Legendary War, I will also be reviewing the stages of Queendom 2, recapping the high caliber performances from each round and also putting forward my thoughts on what the ranking should have been for that round.

Opening Show Performances

Starting off the show this time around are short introductory performances, referred to by the show as Opening Show Performances. Unlike the 100 second performances that opened up Kingdom: Legendary War, Queendom 2 does not consider this as an official round and these performances are not a determinant in determining the final winners of the show.

However, for the purposes of my recap and ‘my thoughts on what the ranking should be’, I will be determining a rank for these Opening Show Performances (based on my personal thoughts) and will use this ranking in determining my personal pick of a final winner.

WJSN’s Opening Show Performance

WJSN starts off their Queendom campaign with a short version of Save Me Save You that focuses on both the elegant and dramatic sides of the song and group. I quite like this performance for the showcasing of these styles, and overall stage presence. It begins with a brief instrumental sample of their hit Secret and Seola opening a music box. The design on the music box ends up being displayed on the floor of the stage, and the other members performing on the design, before all eight members (sans Bona who was preoccupied with acting schedules, and Dawon who is currently sitting out of schedules due to health issues) come together to showcase elegance and dramatic sides through their dance routine over some classical piano. Vocals come into play, and the members do a quick outfit swap (from dark blue to light blue). I wished the cloud that shoots up from the front of the stage did a better job of hiding the members during the outfit change, just to give that performance more of a wow factor. But overall, a satisfying beginning to the show for the group.

LOONA’s Opening Show Performance

Everything in terms of stage, instrumental and outfits was extremely simple for LOONA’s Opening Show Performance, so the focus was placed on the group’s performance. It is a silky routine that showcases the group’s performance potential. I quite like this direction, as it definitely feels like the group hit the brief for Queendom. There was a range of emotions portrayed throughout this performance (which includes a bit of their Satellite single), such as gracefulness, fierceness, sensual, powerfulness and probably a few more. None of them overpowered or became dominant, and so there was a level of sophistication and aesthetic to the performance. Overall, a strong showing from the group, as expected by fans such as myself. On a more critical note about the performance, the group could have been a bit more synchronised. I think the intention to be synchronised was there, but it just wasn’t perfectly executed. Had it been perfectly executed, LOONA would easily been miles ahead with this opening performance.

VIVIZ’s Opening Show Performance

VIVIZ continues the retro theme of their debut track, BOP BOP!, on their Opening Show Performance stage. You can also hear snippets of BOP BOP! in the background of this performance! Personally, I felt VIVIZ’s performance was the most vibrant and pop-aligned start to the show, which is appealing to my personal taste. I like the brief start with the shot from above. It is creative and the hand choreography was fun. We then switch to small solo stages for each of the members. Given that the group only has three members, this was a unique move and one I think pays off in terms of impact. However, I believe a bit of refinement was needed from each member to make their solo routines stand out a bit more. I also wished their expressions were less serious, which would help add life to the performance. The three members then reunite, and this is when the performance is at its peak. The moves here felt more polished and there was a level of sexiness that I quite liked. I also liked the speaker towards the end of the performance, pumping powder up into the air. It just adds a bit more flair to the performance.

Brave Girls’ Opening Show Performance

For Brave Girls performance, consistency was the big that popped out at me. All the moves definitely fitted in with one another and the flow was great. The music was just right and I really like that the group capitalised on their Rollin’ hook in this song without pulling out any of the Rollin’ dance moves. They easily could have gone down that route, and that would have resulted in a ‘safe’ performance (or potentially ill-fitting routine, if the music remained the same). But this stage was not safe, but was somewhat more adventurous for the group instead. Overall, it was a fun stage to watch, which showed off the group’s showmanship and skills. The use of hats and jackets throughout the performance was definitely cool. The jacket flick back at the end was definitely very sexy. And I really enjoyed the sequence where two members were facing forward and the other two members were walking backwards whilst walking towards the camera, followed by that switcheroo move. If anything, I wished the dance moves were a bit sharper in terms of execution.

Hyolyn’s Opening Show Performance

Hyolyn’s is this season’s one person act. Through this performance, Hyolyn establishes that she is one versatile performer. She has the performance skills, the experience, the amazing vocals that once (and still) swoons the audience. She kind of has it all. In this brief version of Dally, Hyolyn commands the stage alone. I expected dancers to appear on the stage, but this expectation did not become fruitful. Instead, she pulls off the performance by herself with no problems. This speaks towards her stage presence and skills no doubt. The stage hosted one sexy act that is bound of drive fans crazy. Her opening was striking and made an impression, both in a visual and in vocal sense. Hyolyn definitely made an impression, and a strong one at that!

Kep1er’s Opening Show Performance

Kep1er is the relative newcomer and is expected to bring a youthful charm to the show. I don’t have much to say about this performance, other than ‘wow’! I like how fierce the performance was. It just shows us that they are not a group to mess around with or underestimate, given their lesser experience. I also really like the military influence to the performance. I also enjoyed the bolder and abrasive remix of See The Light that the group performs to. They got the synchronisation down pat and definitely had strong stage presence, something remarkable for a group that has only been around for a couple of months. Once again, I have nothing else to say about the performance other than a wow!

And the winner is…

As mentioned before, there is no official winner for the Opening Show performances round. But as per my past posts for Road to Kingdom and Kingdom, I have decided to also rank the Opening Show performances in order from preference. I just want to note that all the performances were amazing in their own right, so it was extremely difficult to actually rank these. But I have managed to settle on a list on where I think these Opening Show performance should rank had there been an official rank:

RankingOpening Show Performance
6Brave Girls

Do you agree me? Let me know in the comments below!

Next up: Queendom 2 – Preliminary Round 1 – Representative Song Battle

[Review] Thank You – Brave Girls

As previously mentioned, today is the start of a wave of comebacks that we will be seeing in the second half of the month. It is notable given how slow and quiet the last few weeks have been. Of course, this will mean more reviews and I hope I will be able to stay on track. First up is Brave Girl’s Thank You, which is featured as the title track on their sixth mini-album (that shares the same name). This is the group’s first comeback since their rise thanks to the resurgence of Rollin’, Chi Mat Ba Ram and After ‘We Ride’.

Thank You takes on the funky side of retro. Sure, this sounds pretty ordinary given that it is combines two style influences that is consistently the main feature of KPOP songs nowadays. But what I quite enjoyed about Thank You was the elegant nature that comes about from Brave Girls’ mash of the two influences and I personally find it fitting for the group. It is fun and lively, yet maintains that mature side of the group that we know is part of the group’s profile. When it comes to the other parts of Thank You, I find them to be quite pleasant. For Thank You, I use the word ‘pleasant’ in a positive manner. Firstly, the track has a wholesome meaning since it is dedicated to the fans who have stayed by their side during their toughest times, Secondly, I found the vocals nicely done. Each of the members didn’t overwhelm or underwhelm with their delivery. To me, it was the case of Goldilocks’ perfect. I also like the autotune in Thank You, which helped highlight the retro side of the song. I will be critical with the melodies and hooks. I wished they were more profound in Thank You, just to be that extra bit more satisfying and fulfilling. What we got was good enough, but I seem to think more could have been done. Also, the rapping in the second verse could have been a bit cleaner. It just felt a bit muddled (sorry Yujeong!). And thirdly, everything in Thank You just works in harmony with one another to give off that pleasant feeling.

Majority of the video was shot in front the green screen. At first, I thought it cheapened the video. But I realized that I was watching the video at a lower than optimal visual quality. Turning the quality up, the video actually looked quite good. Usually, I don’t mind what quality I watch the video at. But for Thank You, it really effected the experience. So, I recommend you watch the video at the highest quality in which your device can handle. I also believe elements from their past videos are in this music video, which would make sense given the song’s meaning. I was reminded by After ‘We Ride’ with Eunji’s solo scenes with the white flowers, her hat, the seats and light projections. Chi Mat Ba Ram came through with the re-appearance of the sky whale in the background of one of the choreography shots, while Yuna’s scenes where she is riding the motorcycle reminded me of We Ride’s car ride.

Unfortunately, some of the members have tested positive to COVID-19, so their comeback showcase originally to be held today was delayed as a result. So I don’t think we will be seeing a live performance for this comeback until next week. But what I did see in the music video looks good. Nothing felt memorable like in their past performances, but I liked how the choreography encompasses the retro/funky influences. I also like the change up in the final chorus, which helps makes the performance appear more fun.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[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