[Review] Arson – j-hope (BTS)

As mentioned in the other day’s review for MORE, I will be posting my review for Arson, j-hope’s title track from his debut studio album, Jack In The Box. And here it is! Just to recap, the other review was for MORE, the pre-release for j-hope’s latest album and was released two weeks ago. Arson (the focal point of this review) was officially released the Friday that just passed, along with the rest of the album.

If I had to sum up Arson in very simple terms, it is a straight forward hip-hop track. So if you are looking for something a bit more innovative or different, Arson won’t be the title track you seek. But if you are for a straight forward hip-hop song, then Arson is the song for you. For me, I find the straight forward and no nonsense nature of Arson to be its drawing point. Arson‘s instrumental exudes a captivating flow, a moody rhythm and a strong beat, all of which had me head nodding along to the song. A small part of me does feel that more could have been done to develop the instrumental even further, but I pretty much enjoy how the instrumental is (and this pretty much could have ruined that no nonsense comment I made before). Adding to the moody nature of Arson is j-hope’s delivery. I liked the subtle aggression that comes from j-hope during some parts where he brings a small growl into play or pushes out a raspy tone in his delivery. The layering at the end with the filtered vocals that make the sequence beginning with the ‘If anyone asks me…’ and the paced delivery of the ‘Done, Done‘ was quite cool. Talking about the ‘Done, Done‘ parts of the song, it was so simple, but made Arson so catchy for me. Overall, Arson is a strong showing of j-hope’s skills that we all know he has over an uncomplicated backing.

The world is on fire in Arson‘s music video, which makes complete sense for a song titled Arson. The lyrics of the song expresses a dilemma for j-hope, whether to continue burning brightly or to put out the fire. A bit cryptic, but it appears that fans believe they have cracked the code and that this is a song based on j-hope’s journey as an artist. The flame represents the power and energy that j-hope has developed over the years (thanks to his success as part one of the biggest male groups of all time), showing that he is unstoppable and that only he can put out his own flame. He can harness the energy for his fans, being that bright light to guide them through, and/or burn his haters (as depicted by the people running around on fire in the video). I liked the dark atmosphere of the video, which compliments the hip-hop style of the song, and j-hope’s aggressive and powerful delivery in the song. The visual effects in the video, especially the glowing exposed wounds on his face at the end, were top notch!

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

[Review] MORE – j-hope (BTS)

Following BTS’s long awaited Korean comeback with Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment) and the announcement that the group would be focusing more on their solo careers than group activities moving forward (though HYBE quickly clarified that promotions as a group would continue), j-hope is the first member to begin working on his solo career with the release of a studio album, Jack In The Box, which features the pre-release track MORE and the title track Arson (a review for Arson will be published tomorrow, as this review is just for MORE). It follows j-hope’s 2018 mixtape Hope World and 2019’s Chicken Noodle Soup.

I frankly should have reviewed MORE when it was first released two weeks ago. MORE features a dark atmosphere that really grabs your attention. This is thanks to the grungy direction in which the song went, which isn’t unheard of in KPOP. But it fair to say quite its a rare sight. I really like the escalation of the instrumental – boldness, energy and all – during the chorus. The filtered and shouty vocals from j-hope fits right in. However, I do wish there was more body to MORE‘s chorus, just so there is a substantial melody and hook to the song, which I felt was lacking. As for the verses, I did like j-hope’s simmered rapping and some of his drawn out delivery. It does feel constricted and limited, however. But it was obvious after the fact that the verses were designed to set up the chorus that I already touched upon. I did like how the second verse as a bit more bolstered and not a repeat of the first verse. This adds a bit more variety to MORE and doesn’t make it too consistent (which otherwise would have made MORE a bit dry). As per the stylistic choices that MORE follows, the track is a strong one that caught my attention. It just needed a bit more meat to the song, however, in my opinion.

Just like the teaser images for this release, I could not recognise j-hope. I personally attribute this to the makeup, which gives off a different character to the j-hope that I know of from BTS’ promotions. My comments might be taken to be negative, but I do enjoy it when artists show different sides of themselves, and j-hope obviously hit that brief. His look also fits in well with the grungy style of MORE. Anyhow, the video starts off with a package being delivered (which at the end is shown to be a package of all the rooms we see j-hope feature in this video). j-hope clarifies that each room has a concept and meaning, but he doesn’t go into detail what they are. Based on the lyrics, it appears these rooms relate to him somehow and his journey as an artist thus far – with his lyrics depicting his ambition from when he was starting out to the present as a BTS member. I would like to know what each room represented, just to give more meaning to the video. He did talk about the hallway, which he says shows that there are more spaces, fitting for a song titled MORE.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Review] Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment) – BTS

It has been a while, but BTS is officially back in South Korea with their latest Korean single, Yet to Come (The Most Beautiful Moment). The new single dropped today and is featured as the title track from the group’s first anthology album, Proof, which features a range of songs from the last nine years of the group’s discography. It is also the group’s first domestic comeback since 2020’s Life Goes On and Be, and the subsequent English hits – Dynamite, Butter and Permission to Dance.

If I had to summarise Yet To Come in a few simple words, my pick would be “a sentimental pop ballad”. Nothing more, nothing less. From my listens to the song thus far since its release on Friday, I can say that it sounds good and has a swayable melody that I find in what I consider to be good ballads. Yet To Come‘s instrumental had a hip-hop tinge to it, which make sense given the group’s roots in the genre. It is a bit airy and simple (even for my taste), but that allows the other elements to shine more brightly. The high pitch squealy like synths in the background were extremely subtle, but they helped cut the plainness of the song. The vocal and rapping work was nice, and I quite liked the idea of the rapping in the chorus, giving the centrepiece of Yet To Come a bit more energy that prevents the song from being consistently plain. RM, Suga and J-Hope’s flow throughout the song (not just the chorus) was great. Although, I am not a fan of Suga’s rapping at the beginning of the second verse, however, with the autotune. It was an odd ball moment that I didn’t find fit with the rest of the song. The vocalists sound well rounded, but their parts didn’t stand out as much like how the rappers’ did. My biggest issue with the song is not with the group’s execution of Yet To Come, but rather the song’s choice. After their chart topping hits in the Western market, I expected a song with much more fanfare for their ‘grand and long-awaited return’. I wasn’t necessarily expecting a full fledged dance track, but something with a bit more flair than a track that reflects on the past and looks into the future. For some, Yet To Come might be the track that pulls on their heartstrings. And that is absolutely okay. But for me, I find the track to be one of those that I don’t really need to check out again after writing my review.

When I watched the video for Yet To Come, I felt the shots were throwbacks to previous videos. The order in which the members sat and ended the music video in was the order in which the members sat in for their Just One Day music video. V holding a red rose throws back to solo teaser photos from their Map of The Soul: Persona and Boy With Luv (ft. Halsey) comeback. His uniform also seems to remind me of their ‘school uniform days’ which encompasses their School trilogy days, most specifically Boy In Luv. Jungkook standing in front of the rusty blue ‘You Never Walk Alone’ wheel, the train (which featured in J-Hope’s solo shot) and Jimin’s white shoes takes me back to Spring Day. The pick-up truck we driving around and in the background of JIN’s shot brings back memories of RUN‘s ending. RM’s solo shot consist of a shipping container, which seems to link up with their RUN music video, as well. The big winged statue and the scene where JIN covers V’s eyes reminds me of Blood Sweat & Tears. Suga’s solo scene with the butterfly might be connection to their Butterfly song from 2015. The yellow school bus we see at the end reminds us of the bus that featured in No More Dream music video. Aside from the trip down memory lane, the video was shot in beautiful desert location that feels quite scenic despite it being just sand and blue skies.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] That That – PSY ft. SUGA (BTS)

It has been 10 years since PSY went viral with his infamous hit, Gangnam Style. Since then, he made a string of comebacks (Gentlemen and Daddy, amongst others) that were quite successful both domestically and internationally, though I would say that his popularity has soften over the last few years. Late last month, PSY made his grand return with That That, a single off his 9th studio album, PSY 9th, and a song that is both produced and features SUGA from BTS. In addition to that, SUGA continues PSY’s tradition of having a famous idol joining his comeback via the music video, joining the ranks of high profile artists such as HyunA, Gain from Brown Eyed Girls, CL and more recently Suzy (who features in the recently released Celeb music video – review for that coming soon).

No matter many times I have listened to That That since its release two weeks ago, it has yet to let up from its fun, playful, silly and childish roots. And I quite like that. Usually, I am not a big fan of silly or childish. But going into a PSY comeback, it is expected and I liked that he didn’t disappoint. Sure, That That is repetitive, and I am quite sure it would have done my head in if it were another song that only had the repetitiveness going for it. But with That That, there is a lot more to the song than repetitive hooks. I quite enjoyed the intensity that the song brings, particularly during the chorus. The pounding beats and the tooting brass in the instrumental made That That feel so lively and punchy. I liked how it doesn’t take a break and is quite relentless. The fun atmosphere that the song has is just infectious and addictive, and the hooks adds to that. PSY gave it his all and is pretty much on par with the instrumental throughout the That That. But the best moment of the song has to be attributed to SUGA, who did not disappoint. When the song was first announced, I wondered where the track would go with SUGA featuring, as it didn’t seem apparent to me how PSY and SUGA would work together. But in That That, SUGA matched PSY’s energy effortlessly and his rapping brought a very dynamic oomph to the song that just makes That That even more enjoyable. When I replay the song, I do it often to relisten to SUGA’s section. Though some of That That‘s hooks, particularly the ‘Do What You Wanna, Say What You Wanna‘ shouty hook do end up distracting me.

As mentioned before, SUGA also appears in the music video. And I am quite happy with this. It definitely made everything a lot more fun and interesting. I liked how SUGA even participated in the choreography and some of the acting scenes. My favourite bit has to be the scenes where PSY (in his Gangnam Style suit) is punching/slapping SUGA and vice versa. It was definitely a fun scene. Their chemistry was great, and I did not feel any sense of awkwardness. Aside from that, I see that PSY is up to his crazy antics throughout the video (loved how he entered the music video – reminds me of when work gives out free food and I enter the room ready to grab the food) and I quite enjoyed the wild western theme. That suspenseful moment when SUGA appears was pretty cool, as well.

The choreography is exactly how I described the song. Fun, playful, silly and intense. It definitely suits the portfolio of choreography from PSY’s past comebacks. I like how the routine encapsulates the energy from the song, and shows it off with flair. I also like how PSY doesn’t hold back on stage, which makes the stages even more fun to watch.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Review] My Universe – Coldplay & BTS

My Universe is nominated for Best Collaboration and Best International Song By A Korean Artist (Western) categories in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Award. BTS is also nominated in the Best International Song by a Korean Artist (Western) for Butter. Support either My Universe or Butter by clicking here to vote today!

Today’s reviews will be focused on the songs that I have not reviewed yet from the Best Collaboration category from the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. One of the songs that I will be covering is a very big release that I should have reviewed when it was first released (end of September 2021), but haven’t gotten around to it. Until today! I am obviously talking about My Universe, a collaborative single between Coldplay and BTS. My Universe ended up being a single on Coldplay’s most recent album release, Music of the Spheres.

My Universe is one of those tracks that I found myself singing along to and that is thanks to its simple melody. When you consider the melody side of the song, you find it very straight-forward, simple (as already mentioned) and extremely pleasant. While these are limiting factors in some songs, I find these aspects to be big wins for My Universe. I also find this to be vital and clever, as My Universe draws together English and Korean lyrics. It may not be a mind-blowing idea, especially since we get a lot of English in Korean songs in KPOP on a day to day basis now. But I feel the execution of the two languages in this song in particular to be a substantial effort. And having the one singular melody throughout manages to pull the two languages together and creates a seamless song to enjoy. I also find the same melody to work with the message of the song, which is about bringing us all together no matter what world we are in. This is such a relevant message to give today. As mention before, My Universe is pleasant to listen to. Part of this comes from the melodies, but the other part comes from the vocal work. Both Chris Martin and the members of BTS pretty much maintain a soft approach. Even when the music hits hard for the chorus, they don’t really stray away from this idea and keep it fairly consistent throughout. Even the rapping from the members of BTS had that pleasant vibe and kept a low profile. The band and synth instrumentation was also a nice combination and enable My Universe‘s pleasant vibe. We get a slightly heavier, rougher and more intense synths in the final sequence of the song, which definitely helps complete the song (based on how the song supposedly finished off) in a fun celebratory manner, which I guess wraps up the song’s message nicely. Overall, I quite enjoyed My Universe, and found it to be a collaboration that I did not think I needed in 2021.

I quite like the premise of this music video. Coldplay, BTS, robots and aliens are all on different planets and seem to have a smashing time together, vibing to the music in hologram form. I will admit some scenes looks a bit cringy, but it definitely all relayed the same message of how much everyone enjoyed their time with one another. At the supposed end of the song, silencers came through to stop the music and everyone was forced to stop their jam session. But the final instrumental sequence proved that they can’t be stopped, and even though we might be apart from one another in current times, we can always still have a good time as ‘we are all in the universe’. That’s my take on the video, I wonder if there are any others out there? Other than that, I quite enjoyed the production side of the video. The CGI looked super cool and very detailed (like movie budget style).

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.4/10

[International Song Review] TXT, MONSTA X, Kun & Xiaojun (WayV), CN BLUE, BTS

Back again with the International Song Review. I think I did flag that I might do a weekend of these a few weeks back, and I have enough releases to write two of the same post. For those who don’t know, this segment on the blog is where I cover songs released by Korean artists that are in other languages other than Korean. These songs are predominately Mandarin, Japanese and English. For this particular post, we will be checking recent international songs from TXT, MONSTA X, Kun & Xiaojun (from WayV), CN BLUE and BTS.


Magic – TXT

For those who visit my blog, you probably have seen Magic on my Weekly KPOP Charts, featured as the non-Korean KPOP Release of the Week corner of the segment for two or three weeks now. And it is obviously a song which I have really been dying to review for a while now. Magic is TXT’s first full-English track, featured on the group’s latest mini-album, The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE. There is so much to enjoy in this track. The upbeat, groovy and funky energy we get in the instrumentation, the energy that comes off said instrumentation, the catchy and repetitive hooks that we get. All of these are reasons why I cannot stay away from the track. The chorus is an exceptional peak for this song, encapsulating all of the above into sequences that are literally keyed into my mind. I also like how the members deliver the chorus in a falsetto matter. I also like the addictive chanty ‘everybody clap your hands‘ lines that follows the second and final choruses. For the music video, I liked the futuristic concept and story that was being told. TXT are humans, sent from the white spaceship to rescue their fellow humans who were held captive by the robots. TXT ended up getting caught and information was being extracted from their while they were in captive. But being clever (and I think they were of a high status), the members escaped captivity and spread their message or ‘magic’ throughout the robot population (i.e. the robots went from robotic mannerisms to becoming very freeing, dancing along to the music). In the end, the members ‘freed’ the robotic population and were zapped back to their spaceship. Aside from the plot line, I liked the white sets (looked sterile, which is fitting for the robotic theme for some reason). But I also liked the use of the colour of blue, which really popped out. Choreography-wise, TXT really shows off their stamina with a routine that just keeps on going. I really like the ‘Oh, Oh, Oh‘ part in the choruses and how only one of them moves and then everyone joins in. It is a simple move, but it looks really cool. (10/10)


Flavors of Love – MONSTA X

Flavors of Love is the title of both MONSTA X’s most recent title track in Japan and the title of their 3rd Japanese studio album, released in May 2021. If you are looking for that intensity that MONSTA X, then this isn’t the right song for you (I recommend WANTED, which is also on the same album). Flavors of Love is more of a casual song, consisting of a mid-tempo pop acoustic guitar instrumentation and a light-hearted tone. If you are an avid MONSTA X fan (or Monbebe), you will realize that this is very foreign territory for the group. But it is a nice change of sound for the group, whose songs tend to be harsh and intense (as mentioned previously). The members vocals also reflect this change. I do find their voices to be more pure in this release, with less processing and autotune applied to it their voices as usual. They also sound much sweeter than usual. The rappers (Joohoney and I.M) also tweak their sequences to be softer and warmer. The song has a decent melody and hooks, making it a nice addition. I do prefer their harsher sounds, however, though this would be a nice b-side. The music video is cheerful and shows the members chilling and enjoying some free time as their leisurely record the song. Nothing really that interesting in the video, other than the fact that the video reflects well with the song. As far as I know, there isn’t a choreography for this comeback. There is a performance version, but they sit on chairs and happily deliver Flavors of Love to the audience. As a result, this wasn’t reflected in the final rating. (8/10)


Back To You – Kun & Xiaojun (WayV)

Next up is Back To You, a ballad performed by Kun and Xiaojun from WayV (which is a NCT subunit, for those who are wondering why I am reviewing a Chinese group). It is an extremely nice ballad, instrumented with classical instrumentation typical of the ballad genre. There is a bit of deep brass (tuba, I think?), which is different from other ballads which are usually piano and strings oriented. I really liked how the instrumental built upon itself. This is always a good sign, as it means the song is developing as it goes and the ballad isn’t just a ‘straight line’. But that is one half of the song. The other half is Kun and Xiaojun, whom brings beautiful vocals to Back To You. They helped make Back To You into a captivating piece. It followed the same development as the instrumental, with their vocals building as the song progressed. Kun and Xiaojun also do a good job of giving the group a slightly different spotlight. I am more used to WayV’s dance tracks and I wasn’t known that the group had vocalists had capable vocalists who could handle stunning songs like this. It definitely makes me more aware of WayV’s skillset. The music video was good, but not as stunning as I hoped. We see the pair hang out in the forest and along the shoreline. A lot of the video has been edited to be slow, which made sense. I liked the views of the setting they gave us (particuarly that night time shot in the forest) and the pair looks good. I feel the video could have included more breathtaking shots of the scenery, as this would have provided a slightly different dynamic but still keep true to the ballad style. (8.6/10)


Zoom – CN BLUE

CN BLUE makes their first Japanese release since 2017’s Shake. This is their first work since the release of their most recent Korean comeback, Then, Now and Forever. Zoom is the group’s first upbeat track in a while, which is very refreshing and more captivating that their ballad comeback in November 2020. That instantly says a lot already. I like the brightness that the song has and the lighthearted energy that it emits. Though I do think it is the least captivating track out of the bunch I am reviewing today. I do yearn for something more meaty from the band, though I guess I have wait some more for that. I do like Yonghwa’s vocals in this song. I miss his voice and am happy that I am hearing his vocals once again. I am also glad that Minhyuk and Jungshin also leant a hand in the vocal department, providing backing vocals for the chorus’ hooks and Jungshin rapping that sequence in the second verse. I wish there was more of this, especially in their Korean releases, as CN BLUE is not just a one-man band. Though sometimes, it feels that way with just Yonghwa singing. For the music video, we see the members alone and this is rather frustrating for them. They all get invited to something, but we don’t see the resolution of the frustration. I wished we got to see that, so that the video had some sense of closure. I did feel the lighting in this video was a bit much and wished it was toned down a bit. It made the video look a bit glary and took away the effect of the colours. (7.3/10)


Permission To Dance – BTS

The release everyone is talking about. I liked the message and energy they are spreading with this song. But out of their Western releases thus far, I feel Permission To Dance is their weakest. I really liked both Dynamite and Butter as they had that heftiness that helped make them catchy and addictive. Permission To Dance is nothing more than a lighthearted piece and pretty much side-track material. They could have been more intense in some parts, but I felt the song had too many ‘soft edges’. There are aspects of the song I did like, however. I liked how the instrumental didn’t rely on much synths. Rather, a hearty selection of ‘classical’ instruments were used to form the backing of the song. I find this to be different and gives off a unique appeal. It also enables the presence of various percussion effects in the song , which added a nice textural flair. The vocal processing is something that I think could have gone out the door, once again. It feels so heavy and icky. Knowing BTS’ skills, they don’t need it whatsoever. So I wonder why the producers feel it is necessary to process their vocals in such a heavy manner. There were some decent hooks, though they don’t have that same level of appeal as Dynamite or Butter‘s had. Though I do hear they added a bit of the Dynamite hook to the song (the ‘Da na na na‘). I liked how the music video had inserts of ordinary people ripping off their masks and dancing along to the music. It reflects well with the message of being free and able to do your own thing. I also liked how the music video isn’t in a ‘set’. It isn’t as fake as their previous music videos, which is a good thing. Choreography-wise, I liked how BTS brought that lighthearted feel to the routine. It looks relatively simple and it looks like the members have a bit of fun in the performance as well. I also like the inclusive nature of the choreography, as they incorporated internal sign language into the choreography. Not exactly the first time it happened, but definitely something that should happen more often! (7.7/10)

[International Song Reviews] SEVENTEEN, TWICE, CIX & BTS

It is time to look at another five songs from outside of Korea by some of our favourite Korean artists. Last time (way back in February), we looked at songs from Jackson Wang & JJ Lin, The Boyz, AB6IX & Why Don’t We, Jun.K and WAYV. Today, we will be having a look at SEVENTEEN, TWICE and CIX’s latest Japanese releases. Alongside those three songs, we will also be looking at BTS’s Japanese single Film Out and their highly anticipated Butter release, which officially dropped on Friday. A lot of get through, so let’s get going!


Not Alone – SEVENTEEN

The other day, I was reading comments for SEVENTEEN’s latest Japanese release, Not Alone, that said something along the lines of “SEVENTEEN’s Japanese releases are quite aesthetic sounding”. This is a statement that I agree for the most part and is quite evident through the release of Not Alone. The song has this atmospheric style instrumental that was very calming and soothing to listen to. To aid this, SEVENTEEN strays aways from harsh synths, piercing effects, heavy beats or vibrant colours in the song. Instead, SEVENTEEN opts for a graceful sounding instrumentation that floats about. There are still synths in this song (enabling the song to still include soft yet delicate sounding dance breaks following each chorus), but they give Not Alone a melodic push and hence that aesthetic vibe that I quoted from above. This allows the members to showcase their vocals in a more touching and delicate manner, which is slightly different to the usual style in which we hear from the members. Even the rappers get into this mindset with softer deliveries. We favourite part is Hoshi’s lines in the bridge. They stick out for me and sound so smooth. There is also this inspirational and uplifting tone to the song that comes through via the members. Overall, a really nice and touching song form the members. The music video for Not Alone is quite fitting for the past year, in which we all spent seeing our family and friends through laptop, computer or phone screens. We see the members do the exact same at the start of the video. They were alone and then joined one another to celebrate DK’s birthday. The second half of the video see the members regroup to hang out and have some fun. While this isn’t a reality yet for some of us, the hopeful tone of the song really gives us hope that is the future that we will be returning to soon. Fitting to the song and MV suggested, the choreography for this comeback is a lot softer and delicate. It is actually nice to see something different from SEVENTEEN that isn’t so energetic and upbeat as their choreographies usually are. The lifts they incorporated into the performance added a nice touch that emphasised this. (9.4/10)


Kura Kura – TWICE

While TWICE is gearing up for Korean promotions next month, the very popular female group made their Japanese comeback last month with Kura Kura. Kura Kura starts off with epic percussion in the background, which gives the pop song a unique and memorable colour, and really promises great things to come. Soon, the song reverts to a more typical pop setup. It was nice and pleasantly upbeat, but it was not as amazing as the epic percussion that started the song off had promised. And this disappointed me slightly. I wished the melodies and hooks in this ‘between’ part were more memorable and impressive enough to continue that initial impression. The epic percussion does make a return two more times in the song (i.e. before the bridge and at the end of the song to close it off). I did like the vocals work, which again can be describe as pleasant and sweet. I did like how they didn’t change their vocals as much when it came to the Kura Kura‘s bolder and more memorable moments, finding a balance between their pleasant and sweet profile to the instrumental’s more grand nature. For the music video, I am not entirely sure what they are trying to depict. There seems to be a mixture of really happy scenes in the video (i.e. when the nine members catch up) and a mixture of loneliness and sadness (i.e. their solo scenes which seem to show this). But I might be reading to it wrong, as the lyrics of the song don’t really give off that impression. But it was still a visually appealing video to watch. I really like the emphasis on the colour blue in the choreography scenes, which gave a nice artistic and calming appeal to the video. I really liked the choreography for this comeback. I enjoyed the imagery of the flower at the start, which was fitting for the music video which had a heavy emphasis on floral decorations. I also enjoyed the choreography for the chorus, which had a definite tinge of matureness to it, despite all the members having really big smiles – which both felt fitting for the image they are now pushing for themselves and the song’s upbeatness. (7.2/10)


All For You – CIX

Like their earlier Korean release this year, CIX’s latest Japanese release also takes a step away from EDM and their serious tone that they had adopted when they first started out. All For You is another pleasant listen that looks to replicate the easy on the ears nature that Cinema succeeded in achieving. And while CIX has done just that, I can’t help but have to point out that other parts of the song is lacking. Aside from the funky instrumental which I think is the song’s main highlight, All For You lacks memorability. This includes hooks, melodies, vocals and rapping. All of these contribute to the song’s undeniabley pleasant and easy going nature, but none hits it hard. I am not seeking any hard drops or intensity that is reminiscent of their earlier works, but rather I wanted to hear elements that had a stronger backing or substance to them. For the music video, All For You was colourful, fun and enjoyable. I liked the carefree nature the members brought to the music video, which was fitting for the overall style. It also shows a different side of the members. I did find the opening few seconds a bit cringy, but it definitely wasn’t the cringiest thing out there in the Korean/Japanese music scene. For the choreography, I liked how they fully embraced the groovy and funky notes of the song in their routine. As a result, the entire performance feels ‘just right’. That being said, All For You‘s choreography still contains their signature sharpness to it. In addition to that, there is also this light atmosphere to the routine, which also works well with the music. (7.4/10)


Film Out – BTS

The first of the BTS releases in this post is Film Out, a single off BTS’s upcoming Japanese compliation album. The single itself was released back at the start of April. so apologies for the long delay. Film Out taps BTS back into the ballad genre, with a (once again) pleasant ballad that is a bit generic for my liking. Film Out has this rich and sentimental tone to it. It would also side nice as a side track that I would tune into if I had a craving for the album. But in comparison to their more well known ballads (such as Butterfly), Film Out falls short of hitting the mark (for me, at least). I think it is mainly because the vocal processing that their voices were put through and hence they don’t sound as pure like in those past ballads had sounded. That being said, Film Out did have its moments. I really liked the beat when the rappers were brought into play. I also liked it when the vocalists were brought in to back each other up. The subtle rock and (more obvious) orchestral influences were also quite nice and added some additional heft alongside the vocals to prevent the song from falling into more into that generic ballad trap that Stay Gold fell into. You always feel like you are watching a cinematic release when it comes to BTS’ music videos and Film Out is no exception. While I have no clue on what is going on in this video (my best guess is that the video is about the members’ reflecting upon past memories that once brought them joy, but now brings them pain – represented by the explosion), I must acknowledge that the music video for Film Out brings out the emotional factor to a whole new level. On top of that, the cinematography was exceptional. (7.8/10)


Butter – BTS

BTS’ most recent release, Butter, dropped on Friday. And since it is the biggest release in the global music industry from this week, and with its strong ties to the KPOP industry, I had to take some time out of my own personal break to have a listen and review it for you all. First impression, I liked it. I wasn’t keen on how it started off at first, but once the groovy and funky instrumentation kicks into gear (plus the pre-chorus melodies presented itself), Butter instantly threw all of its catchy and dynamic energy right at me. Before I knew it, I was nodding along to the music! The chorus is quite addictive, thanks to the melodies in the section. I really like the breakdown, which really concentrated the song’s grooviness into a simple yet ear-catching synth. Vocally, I think Butter really shows off what we know BTS is capable of. The vocalists all gave us solid vocals (and I am super happy that Jin recieved more lines in this song, compared to his limited lines in Dynamite. Hopefully, the remixes that follow this release keeps that trend up!), while the rappers packed a punch when they came into play towards the end of the song. I think Butter is a logical step up/forward from Dynamite and definitely has me reaching for my mouse to press replay! For the music video, I really liked how classy it looked. At the start, the sleekness that BTS’ visuals brought to the video with the black and white filter. When the colour comes into play, all of this fun energy infused into the video, making this a fantastic watch. In addition to the classiness brought to us via their suits, I really liked the colourful and casual trackies they wore in subsequent parts of the video. I also liked how each member that their moment to shine with their dance moves on the elevator and how they brought their individual colours to the video throughout all their solo shots. But visually, the best part of the music video has to be that epic stage they perform on with the lights coming through from underneath. For the choreography, I really liked how BTS kept the energy and momentum going with their moves. I like how fitting the routine is with the title, as the chorus actually looks like smooth (i.e. like butter). We won’t be able to see a full choreography until the Billboard Music Awards tomorrow, but it definitely looks like BTS’s live performance will be amazing without a doubt. (9.5/10)

[Special] 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Winners Announcement

Welcome to the announcement post of the winners for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. During the month of December in 2020, I opened up a survey for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Over 1800 of you voted during the month of December, a number that I did not expect to see! I am sure that you all are excited and are awaiting to see which artist has clinched victory in each category. I have definitely made you wait long enough 🙂

Like the previous years, I will announce the winners using GIFs and images. I have also announced the runners up for each category as Honourable Mentions below the GIFs. In addition to that, I have included the KPOPREVIEWED Choice, which is my personal pick for each category.

Unlike previous years, however, all of the winners of the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards (including the End of Year Charts and Best Song of 2020 Award) is included in this very one post! Towards the bottom of each post, you will see some page numbers. You can click on these page numbers to navigate to different award categories and the End of Year Charts. Here is a quick guide to the page numbers:

Page 1 – Artist Categories
Page 2 – Visual Categories, Performance Categories, Weekly KPOP Charts related Categories
Page 3 – Blog related Categories, Song Categories (excluding Best Song)
Page 4 – End of Year Charts & Best Song of 2020 Award

Artist Caregories

The following categories are all fan-voted categories for the artists that were active during the eligible period of December 2019 to November 2020.

Best New Male Group

Nominees:
BDC
CRAVITY
DRIPPIN’

Nominees:
MCND
TOO
TREASURE

Honourable Mention: TREASURE
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: TREASURE


Best New Female Group

Nominees:
aespa
BLACKSWAN
cignature

Nominees:
SECRET NUMBER
WEEEKLY
woo!ah!

Honourable Mention: WEEEKLY
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: WEEEKLY


Best New Male Soloist

Nominees:
Han Seung Woo (VICTON)
Kim Woo Seok (UP10TION)

Lee Eun Sang
Wonho
WOODZ

Honourable Mention: Wonho
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: WOODZ


Best New Female Soloist

Nominees:
Lee Suhyun (AKMU)
Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Ryu Sujeong (Lovelyz)
Solar (Mamamoo)
YooA (Oh My Girl)

Honourable Mention: Lee Suhyun (AKMU)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: YooA (Oh My Girl)


Rising Star of 2020

Nominees:
EVERGLOW
Golden Child
ONEUS

Nominees:
ONF
The Boyz
VICTON

Honourable Mention: EVERGLOW
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: The Boyz


Most Underrated Group of 2020

Nominees:
A.C.E
APRIL
ASTRO

Nominees:
Dream Catcher
ONEUS
VERIVERY

Honourable Mention: Dream Catcher
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: ONEUS


Best Vocals

Nominees:
AKMU
DAY6
IU

Nominees:
Lee Hi
Ong Seong Woo
Taeyeon (SNSD)

Honourable Mention: Taeyeon (SNSD)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: DAY6


Best Rapper

Nominees:
Dami (Dream Catcher)
Han Ji Sung (Stray Kids)
Jessi

Nominees:
Jooheon (MONSTA X)
Moonbyul (Mamamoo)
Wooseok (Pentagon)

Honourable Mention: Han Jisung (Stray Kids)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: Jooheon (MONSTA X)


Best Band

Nominees: CN BLUE, DAY6, IZ, N.Flying, ONEWE

Nominees:
CN BLUE
DAY6

IZ
N.Flying
ONEWE

Honourable Mention: CN BLUE
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: DAY6


Best CO-ED Group

Nominees:
AKMU
CHECKMATE
K-TRIGERS ZERO
KARD

Honourable Mention: AKMU
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: KARD


Best Subunit

Nominees:
BTOB 4U
End of Day
Moonbin & Sanha

Nominees:
NCT 127
Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi
WJSN CHOCOME

Honourable Mention: NCT 127
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: NCT 127


Best Male Soloist

Nominees: Baekhyun (EXO), Chen (EXO), Kang Daniel, Ong Seong Woo, Taemin (SHINee), Zico

Nominees:
Baekhyun (EXO)
Chen (EXO)
Kang Daniel

Nominees:
Ong Seong Woo
Taemin (SHINee)
Zico

Honourable Mention: Taemin (SHINee)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: Kang Daniel


Best Female Soloist

Nominees:
Chungha
Hwasa (Mamamoo)
IU

Nominees:
Jeon Somi
Sunmi
Taeyeon (SNSD)

Honourable Mention: Hwasa (Mamamoo)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: Chungha


Best Male Group

Nominees:
A.C.E
AB6IX
ASTRO
ATEEZ
BTS
Golden Child

GOT7
MONSTA X
NCT
NU’EST
ONEUS
ONF
Pentagon

SEVENTEEN
SF9
Stray Kids
The Boyz
TXT
VERIVERY
VICTON

Honourable Mention: BTS, Stray Kids
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: NCT, SEVENTEEN, Stray Kids


Best Female Group

Nominees:
APRIL
BLACKPINK
BVNDIT
Cherry Bullet
CLC
Dream Catcher

EVERGLOW
fromis_9
(G)I-DLE
GFriend
ITZY
IZ*ONE
LOONA

Lovelyz
Mamamoo
Oh My Girl
Red Velvet
TWICE
Weki Meki
WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

Honourable Mention: BLACKPINK, EVERGLOW
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: ITZY, LOONA, Oh My Girl


Select the page numbers below (just above the comments section) to go to the award categories you want to see the most!
Page 1 – Artist Categories
Page 2 – Visual Categories, Performance Categories, Weekly KPOP Charts related Categories
Page 3 – Blog related Categories, Song Categories (excluding Best Song)
Page 4 – End of Year Charts & Best Song of 2020 Award

[Album Review] BE (5th Studio Album) – BTS

If I were to put BTS’ latest album on the usual agenda for review, I probably won’t get around to it until the start of the new year. And I feel that timeframe for a BTS related review would be too late for posting. Hence, I have decided to fasttrack the album review for BTS’ fifth studio album, BE. The album features both Life Goes On as the title track and the international hit Dynamite at the very end of the album, alongside five other new tracks. In total, there are seven tracks on this studio album (including the non-musical skit), which makes it one of the shortest studio albums I have ever seen. But that does not meant the quality is reduced! Continue to read to see what my thoughts for each of the songs were.

BE Album Review

1. Life Goes On (Title Track) Click here to read the full review for Life Goes On. (9/10)

2. Fly To My Room (내 방을 여행하는 법) (performed by Suga, V, Jimin & J-Hope)Fly To My Room follows the group’s softer approach from the title track. At first glance, I actually enjoyed the song by the four member unit. But that was when I was occupied with other tasks. When I sat down to write this album review today, Fly To My Room didn’t really stand out for me (compared to the other songs on the album). It is still a nice and pleasant track to listen to, especially with the pop-centric instrumental. I really like the use of the keyboard in the song and there was an enjoyable display of falsetto and low tones. The best part of the song has to be when all the members are singing together for the chorus, as the happier tone that the song brings forth calls for this. The rapping seems a little too punchy for my liking. They just shoot out of nowhere and I didn’t like how they didn’t take the opportunity to match the vocals and the tone of the song. (7/10)

3. Blue & Grey – BTS’ ballads have always been the most captivating side tracks for me. And I am glad that there is a ballad on this toned-down album. It is a perfect excuse for a ballad if you ask me. Blue & Grey draws me in with stunning vocals from all the members. V is probably the standout member if I had to pick, with his husky and raspy tone starting off the song and infusing an amazing sense of texture. The rest of the members did an equally stunning job as V, especially with that bridge where each vocal-line member had a line. The rapping in Blue & Grey is much better and cleverer than in the preceding track, with Suga (in a separate section) and J-Hope easing us in with a really soft rap sequence before moving to RM’s slightly more powerful tone/delivery. This all over a really atmospheric slow-paced instrumental, starting off with acoustic guitars and later slow-pop influences. (10/10)

5. Telepathy (잠시) – While the first half of the album consisted of mainly a toned-down atmosphere and slower paced songs, the latter half of the album is more upbeat territory. Kicking off entrance into the upbeat territory is Telepathy. There is a feel-good vibe to this song that I really enjoyed. It is the type of song that I would hope for a performance for as it sounds like it can be a very fun stage. I love the retro nature of the instrumentation, particularly the cow bells (which instantly makes this sound so better). The vocals and rapping are really good, fitting in with that feel-good vibe that I mentioned a moment ago. It may not be at the level of Dynamite, but its great enough. (8/10)

6. Dis-ease (병) Dis-ease has this super catchy old-school hip-hop to it. The energy that comes off Dis-ease is pretty infectious, so much that I really want to boogie along to it. Given that the song falls into the hip-hop genre (and that they also participated in the production), the rappers shine the most in this song. I really like the “Byeong” sequence that finishes off the choruses. That paired with the disc scratching was pretty memorable and is my favourite part of the whole song. The vocal-line do a splendid job themselves. I really liked how they used the same technique in Blue & Grey (i.e. giving each member of the vocal line a section in the bridge) and having the song build towards a slightly more amplified final chorus. It is what I personally hoping for when I heard the song and I am glad they delivered! (10/10)

7. Stay (performed by RM, Jungkook and Jin)Stay tackles the future house sub-genre of EDM. It is a very clean track and it doesn’t have any crazy surprises to throw us off. In other words, I find Stay to be straightforward. While that could be a flaw in other songs, straightforwardness in EDM is a blessing as it doesn’t get complicated (and hence obnoxious). It doesn’t drown out the vocals and rapping sequences, which allows us to hear RM, Jungkook and Jin clearly throughout the song. I particularly like how satisfying the drop was and the mixture of acoustic guitars in the second verse and piano at the end of the song. I also like how smooth the vocals and rapping were. To me, the ending of the song isn’t as satisfying, as it gave me the impression that something should have followed it. That, or I just didn’t want Stay to end. (10/10)

8. DynamiteClick here to read the full review for Dynamite. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.1/10

[Review] Life Goes On – BTS

BTS continues to reach new heights with their latest comeback. Earlier today, the iconic male group made their comeback with Life Goes On (the title track) and Be (the title of their fifth studio album). It comes after BTS released their fourth studio album, Map of the Soul: 7 (headlined by On and Black Swan), their Japanese comeback single Stay Gold and their super catchy all-English track Dynamite. The group has also featured on Lauv’s Who and a remixed version of Jawsh 365 and Jason Derulo’s Savage Love. They have definitely had a busy year.

I was low key expecting a dance track for this comeback. Or even better, a darker and maturer song that takes further steps towards that style direction than On and Black Swan did! But after listing all their comebacks and releases throughout 2020 thus far (and this list does not even consider their solo works), I feel like a mellowed out and softer approach is more appropriate and less overwhelming for them at this current point in time. Life Goes On is still a fantastic song. It features an alternative hip-hop sound that relies heavily on really comforting and soothing guitars. While the song is softer than their previous title tracks, the music actually still fills hefty thanks to the heaviness that And this softer approach allows for the members to really focus on their vocal and rapping work. RM is the only member to actually rap in Life Goes On and his part was well tweaked for this alternative sound. Suga and J-Hope rap-sing their parts and they bring a nice energy in their respective parts. The rest of the members sing wonderfully throughout the song, helping drive forward that comforting and sentimental vibe and message. Jimin stands out with his higher pitched vocals and based on the way he starts the chorus, while V’s ad-libs shine thanks to the huskiness in his voice. I thought the autotune for the final chorus was a nice textural change, which helps keeps interesting from how I see it. Overall, Life Goes On was not what I had expected from BTS as a title track. But nonetheless, I still enjoyed it.

Based on what I am seeing for this music video, BTS and Big Hit had stepped away from their complicated and gripping storylines that require a lot of time to interpret. Life Goes On is shot in a more relaxed manner, feeling almost like a home-video style. It practically shows the members going about a day in their life where they get to hang out and travel, which suits their message that ‘Life Goes On‘ even in the most difficult of circumstances. I did like the ending, where the video applies a black and white filter and we see the member sing with microphones with their backs to the empty audience. That scene looks really pretty and aesthetic despite being so simple.

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

[International Song Review] BTS, Sunmi, Wonho, WayV & EXID

It has been a while since I have posted a review for non-Korean songs by KPOP artists. The last post was published back at the start of July and this mainly featured Japanese releases. With several KPOP artists releasing songs in English over the last two weeks, I thought it would be a nice to sit down and review them now, rather than wait a few weeks (as the original intention was to knock out a few other reviews from my ‘To Review’ list. Joining BTS, Sunmi, Wonho and WayV’s English releases from earlier in the year and EXID’s very recent Japanese release.


Dynamite – BTS

The first release to be reviewed on this list is also most recent release. Without a doubt, you probably have already checked out Dynamite despite it only being dropped yesterday. Dynamite is a funky pop track, tailored for the Western music industry. It is a fun and vibrant song that focus purely on the members’ vocals. Jimin’s high pitched vocals were amazing and even the rappers showed off their vocal capabilities effortlessly. It is super addictive, with the ‘Like A Dynanana‘ replaying constantly in my head. I have no problems with this track, given that they hit all the right notes and made it super appealing – not just to Western audience, but also the average KPOP listener. As for the music video, we are thrown back into pastel land and similar sets to what we saw in Boy With Luv. I don’t mind that we have a similar copy to a past music video, given the current global pandemic. I just don’t want it to be the default for BTS’ happy, energy filled and funky releases. The choreography isn’t a central piece of this comeback, but it looks fiting for the funky side of the song. It is a little different from what we get from BTS usually, but given the vibrancy of the song, it works like a charm. (9/10)


BORDERLINE – Sunmi

Sunmi dropped the unexpected music video for BORDERLINE earlier this week, as well. While the song has been known for a number of years now (Sunmi has previously performed BORDERLINE at her solo concerts and released its lyrics in 2019), the song has yet to be formally released. It seems like Sunmi is keeping this song to herself for the time being. BORDERLINE is a self-penned English track, that has this slow churning momentum that plays on the more sensual side of R&B. This is definitely new ground for Sunmi and it is nice to hear something different from her usual retro sound. The lyrics also zone into her personal stuggles over the years, making this an extra powerful song for her and her fans. Her vocal style were an excellent delivery mechanism for these lyrics, as you can hear how much emotions are behind the song. For me, it also made the song more thought-provoking. The music video is quite simplistic. Sunmi and her dancers are dressed in black and perform a very aesthetic interpretaive dance routine. The background was simply shadows projected into a wall. Everything was dark and it was hard to make out their faces, which I would say is suitable for the meaning behind the lyrics. Overall, a captivating and immenseful informal release of a song. (9/10)


Losing You – Wonho

Ahead of his solo comeback next month, Wonho pre-released Losing You last week as the start to his solo career. It is all in English, which is why it is being reviewed here instead of its own review post. Listening to the song the first around when it was released last week, I was speechless. It is a very emotional number, so prepare yourself. Lyrically, Losing You is all about him willing to putting another person (lover, friend etc.) ahead of himself regardless of the situation. Whether the song is directed to a former lover, his fans or to his former group members is all speculation, but damn these lyrics are definitely heartbreaking and very moving. The song is a R&B ballad, made up of the simple combination of piano and soft percussion. Wonho’s voice stuns and leaves me in awe. You can definitely hear the emotions behind his voice. I really like the extended ‘You‘ that features in the bridge of the song. The autotune seems unnecessary, but it is bearable. The music video is another dark video, but it was quite captivating to watch. Throughout this video, he is very emotional and lost. Every setting we see him in depicts the reflective road he took while he was on hiatus. At the end, we see two different scenes. Wonho standing in front of a car, telling us that he is still willing to sacrifice himself no matter what happens in the future. But we also see him standing in the midst of a sea of lights, which looks like mobile phones, suggesting that he will return to the stage soon (with the support of his fans, WENEE). (10/10)


Bad Alive – WayV

Despite being a subunit of NCT members, I have actually yet to review any WayV releases. That should hopefully change when I do a dedicated International Song Review post for just WayV and their 2019/2020 Chinese releases (some time in the future). In the meanwhile, WayV did release an English version of Bad Alive, one of the songs from their first Chinese studio album. And since that is a predominately English version (with some Korean and Chinese mixed into it), it has landed itself on this list for a review. Aside from the question marks that I would like to throw against the lyrics, Bad Alive‘s instrumental backbone definitely has a lot of potential. There are a lot of textural synths and high intensity in this trap-influenced piece. There also seems to be some hip-hop influence in the song as well. When it comes to their vocals, I feel that their voices are rather tame. I wanted more intensity and growls from the members to match the harshness and roughness of the instrumentation. What we got was decent, but not that powerful. I did like the layering, as that was differey. But amped up vocals and raps would have been appreciated. As for the music video, it is definitely overloaded with amazing visual of the members. The emphasis of red shows the fierceness of the members and I think that aligns with the image that I have come to associate with WayV through their most recent comeback in China. The sets were boxes, but they seemed fine in this video. The worst aspect has to be the white/gold jackets they wore over casual wear. They don’t go together. As for the choreography, powerful and masculine. Definitely going hand-in-hand with the fierceness mentioned before. (7.5/10)


B.L.E.S.S.E.D – EXID

The werid thing about EXID is that while they are considered inactive in South Korea, the group still needs to regroup for Japanese promotions as they are still under contract as EXID. This is a very interesting situation. But I am not complaining, since we get to hear more releases from EXID! B.L.E.S.S.E.D is an enjoyable pop track filled with a feel-good vibe. I like the slghtly jazzy vibe that the brass brings to the song. When the chorus comes into the play, there is a little kick to it and it feels like an cute anime OST, which adds to that enjoyable factor. I also like how all the member’s voices compliment the style choices. This also applies to LE, who is known for her nasally and harsh texture. But she fits into this song fine as her approach isn’t too serious, matching the song’s feel-good vibe. However, I do wish that some of the hooks/melodies that were just spoken/shouted in the chorus were more dynamic. I just wished they were a little more melodic and sung. The music video just shows the members doing some ordinary things while looking pretty. Nothing that really captivating and interesting to be honest. The group shots were nice, but that was essentially it to the music video. (7.2/10)

[International Song Review] BTS, Stray Kids, TWICE, Dream Catcher, Lee Jun Young (U-KISS)

It has been a while since I stuck my head into the world of Japanese releases made by Korean artists. So today, I will be reviewing Japanese releases from BTS, Stray Kids, TWICE, Dream Catcher and Lee Jun Young (from UKISS). Some of these are recent and some of these dates back to the start of the year. Early this year, I reverted to a bulk review post for International releases by Korean artists as they go global. If you would like to see the two bulk review posts that I have released so far, you can do so by clicking here and here. If you know of any other international releases (that have a music video), please comment them below so that I am aware of them!


Stay Gold – BTS

Out of all the releases on this list that I have chosen to review today, Stay Gold has to be the most generic. While the song does shine a golden light onto their vocals and rapping, the pop ballad just doesn’t have much to hold my attention. The lyrics of Stay Gold directs the song down the inspirational path, but the overall atmosphere of the pop ballad did not have that same feeling. And no amount of good vocals can compensate for that. The instrumental felt very mostly linear and the titular hook was just repeated too much throughout the chorus. Obviously, this is intentional to get the hook stuck in your mind. But by the time we get to the pre-chorus, it just feels too overdone and dried out. Lights (last year’s Japanese release) is quite similar in terms of its ballad direction, but there was a soothing feeling and attractive instrumental. The music video seems to show that no matter what dark place you in, there will always be light somewhere in it. At the end of the video when V touches the tree trunk, the golden lights that come from the tree and into the dark hallways may symbolises that is BTS is the guiding light for their fans (which I am sure is the truth for most fans). It was a nice video, with a good meaning. (7.2/10)


Top – Stray Kids

Top is Stray Kid’s first original Japanese single and since its release, we have seen a Korean and English version. It is also used as a theme song for the Japanese anime, Tower of God. When I listen to Top, I get this really cool epic vibe to the song which leaves a very strong impression on me. It starts off with some dramatic violins before adopting a rough and heavy synth base for the chorus. And it is this combination that really helps makes Top become one of their most powerful releases to date. The rappers benefit with this rough style of music, with both their rough textured delivery and angst shining throughout the song. The vocal moments were meh, in my opinion. But the slowdown we get to give way to the vocalists do help make the drop more epic. For the music video, I really like their spaceship premise. It is fitting with the epic vibes of the song. Standlone, it is still pretty cool setting. It is a song all about gettng to the top, no matter what. We see the members struggle as the road to get to the top becomes difficult, but they always perservere. I do wonder what Seungmin and I.N were meant to represent as they walk into the light. Are they the ones that gave up? Not too sure. As for the choreography, powerful and epic, just like the song. (9/10)


Fanfare – Twice

TWICE’s recent Japanese release is Fanfare. The song’s instrumental just keeps coming for you and it might be overwhelming for some. Even I had to debate whether I should say the instrumental assaulted us with its noise or was just very overpowering but bearable. For the time being, I am leaning towards the latter, as it doesn’t seem to much as everyone else is saying. But if you caught me on a bad day, I might be going with the first option as my description of Fanfare. I really like its energy and powerful upbeat nature, which is all highly suitable for the Summer season. The marching band adds a fun and robust feel to the song. It might be overpowering, but the members bring a bright tone to the song to help level it out. The song’s hooks were catchy and I would gladly add this to my playlist if I wanted to infuse some energy into my day. For the music video, it looks like a bunch of ill-fitting closeup shots and a stage-like set up for their choreography scenes, where the members are dressed in marching band gear. I assume those closeup shots are meant to give off a happy and joyful impression to match the lyrics of the song. Though, I do question Jihyo’s scene, which is a world full of laundry. No one ever enjoys laundry, it is such a chore. For the choreography, I thought it was pretty good. Not their most impressive routine, but still fun and bubbly. (7.4/10)


Endless Night – Dream Catcher

Endless Night is one of the older releases in this post, dating back to March of this year. While Dream Catcher has been long associated with bringing the J-POP rock sound to K-POP, Endless Night feels like it brings a Western rock influence to the Japanese industry, which was rather unexpected. It is also a lot moodier than any of their other title tracks. But while these are different directions, Dream Catcher makes it work. I do just wish their vocals and rapping had a little more oomph to them, which would help make the song more appealing. Aside from the chorus, everything else was rather forgettable and dry. For the music video, I really liked the use of colours. It just makes this otherwise boring music video pop, which definitely helps with the video’s appeal. Wait, but why do I find the video boring? Well, the video takes on that typical closeup and choreography formula that I have grown to dislike. I do admit the closeups seem to try to be aesthetic, but they don’t just hit the mark like other music videos. The choreography looks pretty good and works pretty well with the song. The chorus has to be the best part of the routine for me. (7.4/10)


Come Alive – Lee Jun Young (U-KISS)

Lee Jun Young is probably more known as an actor, rather than UKISS member. At the end of 2019, he reminded fans that he is a singer with the release of his first single album and Curious About U. Right after his domestic promotions, Lee Jun Young also released his first mini-album in Japan, featuring a number of solo singles from the second half of 2019. It also featured Come Alive, which was formally released at the start of 2020. It is a fun hip-hop dance track, that is both bass and brass-heavy. It is quite addictive that I am always nodding or tapping along to the beat when it appears on my playlist. The song is pretty dynamic when it comes to the verses. His rapping is quite captivating and alluring. I really like how the song punctuates some of the lines with the added emphasis of the ‘You‘ and ‘Do‘ (and associated Japanese words). His vocals are also quite good. There is a good beat to this section to help give it a club feel. At first, I didn’t like how dragged out the ‘Come Alive‘ felt. But after multiple listens, it has definitely grown on me significantly. The music video has this urban feel to it, which was nice. It just didn’t have anything more to it worth talking about, unfortunately. For the choreography, it fits in with the urban hip-hop feel that both the song and music video had. I do like how clean and smooth it felt during some parts of the choreography. Other than that, it is just another case of not his best, but still good. (7.5/10)

[Review] Eight – IU ft. Suga (BTS)

You take the digital queen of KPOP. You take one of the members of the most popular KPOP group in KPOP. You put them together in a room and apparently that equates to Eight. If you couldn’t tell about the title of this post, I will be having a looking into the collaboration single that came about when we combine the likes of IU and Suga from BTS. And that collaboration single is set to dethrone every other song at the top of the charts, given the power of the two in the industry. After all, they have already debuted at the number 1 position for two of the domestic charts and they are rising fast on the rest of them. After all, it is what IU and BTS does best.

The song is produced by Suga and IU themselves and it all about being 28 (which is also the Korean age of both IU and Suga this year). The song takes the form of a pop rock track, which already sounds amazing. I liked how mellow Eight started off as and how fast it was to ditch that sound to become an epic pop rock song that I could rock out to. That is really big tick in my books. To me, it is like the song mashes up IU’s pop rock Blueming and BTS’ more modern influence. I do think Eight could have used some electric guitar riffs to really give the final chorus a little something different to the rest of the song. Or would this be a little cliche? The song just felt a little too consistent as I was listening to it after multiple replays. Though, this doesn’t stop me from pressing the replay button. IU’s vocals never seem to disappoint, with this song highlighting her vocal abilities in the same way as her ballads and well known hits have always managed to do. Her voice comes off very refreshing and suits this pop rock style a lot. Suga has a very limited section in Eight, but he comes in with a really cool whisper and he continues the momentum of the song without diverting to a new or different sound. The only other flaw of the song is how short it was. But after all, it is a short but sweet song.

The music video starts and ends off with IU in this futuristic world. It seems like the machine that she gets into is a memory machine that replays memories in her dream. The memory that we see on our screen is what I presume to be an experience at the age of 28. She takes care of a lizard or gecko that she really loves. One night, she has a dream that she is on a plane and her lizard is on the outside of the plane. The plane experiences turbulence, waking IU up. IU runs downstairs to find that her lizard pet has gone into the wild. IU, in another dream, goes looking for her pet. But soon realizes that her pet had evolved into a dragon like creature. Knowing that her lizard pet is well and moving on with its life, she moves on with hers as she flies away to her destination. I thought the video was really cool. I liked how they showed four versions of IU without confusing us as they used a different style of each. They used a human form for Futuristic IU and memory IU, while animated 3D IU (which may have included 3D animated Suga) and cartoon IU for the different dreams. Overall, a fantastic video.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.4/10

[Album Review] Map Of The Soul: 7 (4th Studio Album) – BTS

There is no doubt that BTS’ return is the biggest comeback of the year so far (or even possibly the entire year – and that might be saying something since we are only in February/March). The group’s fourth studio album, Map Of The Soul: 7, features a whole stack of new songs, their pre-releases tracks from January and the tracks from their 2019 Map Of The Soul: Persona mini-album (which features the title track, Boy With Luv). The group has already sold over 4 million copies world wide and have topped the domestic and international charts upon release, as they have been doing with many of the releases. Let’s see how good their latest album is this time around!

Map Of The Soul: 7 Album Cover

Tracks 1 to 5 can be found on the album review for Map Of The Soul: Persona, which I have previously reviewed. The song ratings I gave in that album review were not considered in the album rating (i.e. only new songs contributed to the this album’s rating).

6. Interlude: Shadow (Suga Solo) (Pre-Release Track)Click here for the full review of Interlude: Shadow. (9/10)

7. Black Swan (Pre-Release Track)Click here for the full review of Black Swan. (9/10)

8. Filter (Jimin Solo) – The first of the few solo tracks on the album belong to Jimin. There is a slight Latin feel to the song, thanks to both the melody that Jimin applies over the predominately acoustic guitar in the instrumentation. But rather than being in your face about, the song manages to keep it on the down low, which I thought was interesting. The song has a very smooth run and Jimin’s vocals seems perfect throughout the song. The song doesn’t reach a peak, however. I think that is the only issue with the song as it felt like it was stuck in the neutral gear. (8/10)

9. My Time (시차) (Jungkook Solo) – Similar comments about being stuck in neutral gear can be said about Jungkook’s solo track for majority of the song. But what My Time manages to do in its final chorus was change its gear and give the song a much-needed peak. Jungkook’s song falls under the genre of R&B, while the instrumental is given a modern feel with its synth basis. Jungkook’s vocals must also be applauded as he gives the song a very mature and captivating feel. I mean, look at the way he ended the song with his constant ‘ah’s and ‘ugh’s. (8.5/10)

10. Louder Than Bombs – I was already intrigued with Louder Than Bombs with just the title itself. I had expected a really pop and colorful track (for some unknown reason). But we got something a lot more interesting, much darker and captivating all at the same time. The thumping instrumental and the mysterious vibes we get from the song really draw my attention in. Throw in the higher pitch vocals from the vocalists and the very deep voices that the rappers channeled, you basically have a recipe that will make me return for more. The way the song built up was very subtle and occurred without you even knowing. This is one of the best songs on the album, I can’t emphasis that enough. (10/10)

11. On (Title Track)Click here for the full review of On. (10/10)

12. Ugh! (욱) (RM, J-Hope & Suga) – The rap line is the focus in this song, and you can tell that it is going to be something on a different level. The energy that the trio manages to bring to this song with their line delivery and the hip-hop based instrumental really makes this track a strong one. Suga is fast becoming my favorite rapper of the group and his presence in this track really consolidates his position. However, that isn’t to say that RM and J-Hope were letdowns. They were equally as strong, and I enjoyed the part where they passed the baton to each other at the end. Also, the song became quite explosive at the end with all that gunfire. It drew the song to a close in a manner that really felt like icing on the cake. And it makes me want to see a performance this track, as I would suspect it to be lit! (9/10)

13. 00:00 (Zero O’Clock) (Jin, V, Jimin & Jungkook) – When you think of the vocal line of any group, you would expect them to be singing a ballad as it is easier to show of the vocals in that capacity. I guess the case applies even for BTS. But Zero O’Clock is no slow or depressing ballad. There is some light in this track, thanks to the member’s vocals. The instrumental also this inspirational vibe to it, which matches the song’s lyrics of hoping for a happier day. I thought the unit sounded pretty good, especially at the end when the song reaches the climax. The song also has a melody that makes we sway along, which makes it a good ballad in my opinion (as I have mentioned before). (9/10)

14. Inner Child (V Solo) – V, over the years, have been shaped to be the one with the most interesting vocals due to the huskier tone that he brings to the group. And that hasn’t been focused too much on in the past during the group tracks. His huskier voice definitely is full capitalized in this pop track. You know I love a good buildup and Inner Child has this. The chorus is fantastic, giving us that blast of energy that I think is so good. It makes the song feel so fresh and the feeling remains every time I play the song and when the chorus comes around. This is also one of the best tracks on the album and I highly recommend it. (10/10)

15. Friends (친구) (Jimin & V) – This is another track that has a good blast of energy during the chorus. And the way the instrumental manages to perfectly execute the explosive nature of the chorus makes it so addictive. It is a song that I get stuck on each time I listen to the ballad, unable to move to the next as I am so keen on replaying this track constantly. I just want to kick back, put this song on repeat and nod along to it. Jimin and V reflect on their friendship in this track, so there is a lighthearted and fun tone to it. At the end, when they bring the more inclusive feel to the song with the backup vocals, it just makes the song a lot more wholesome. (10/10)

16. Moon (Jin Solo) – With V, Jin is also an underrated vocalist. And I have mentioned this time and time again in past album reviews. Moon continues the album’s momentum with its energy. At the helm is Jin, which pushes his vocals in a manner that suits the song so nicely. The vocals lay on top of a upbeat beat and some guitar beat. It is a catchy number, with infectious energy. I just feel the instrumental drags it down a bit by being a little too consistent. It needed some definition. But it’s a good song from Jin, nonetheless. (9/10)

17. Respect (RM & Suga) – And we get more of the energy through RM and Suga’s collaboration track. The song throws you back to the 90s with its urban hip-hop beat and the many instrumental effects. The way they shout ‘Respect’ throughout the chorus is a very 90s thing, as well. They delivery is pretty good, with autotune weaving in and out of the song. The energy is also quite infectious, and I love how the energy rubs off on me. I mean, this is the track that you want to play while walking down the street on a good day (to make it better, obviously). (9/10)

18. We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal – The album takes a slight serious turn with The Eternal. It isn’t really a ‘happy’ track, as per the energy that preceded the track. But this one encapsulates where the members are at in their career. They are strong, they are bulletproof. And it all thanks to their fans, whom they thank in this track. This track displays amazing vocals and rapping, on top a very warm, trendy and dramatic instrumental. (10/10)

19. Outro: Ego (J-Hope Solo) – The album returns to its infectious and upbeat energy for the outro track. Performed by J-Hope, I love the fast incline to the fast tempo (and the fast tempo, in general) the song had. The entire track was 3 minutes, yet it felt only like one minute. It just makes the song so captivating and groovy. I find the outro track is also be very festival-like, especially in the last few seconds. Because why not end the album with everyone dancing along. J-Hope’s playful side also got to shine through in this track, with the upbeat nature being an excellent platform. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.3/10

[Review] On – BTS

We end the week with the return of the KPOP group that is breaking records left, right and centre. BTS has broken more ground that any other artist in KPOP ever in the industry. And yet they continue to do so with every comeback. Today, the group returns with On, the title track from their fourth Korean album, Map of The Soul: 7. The album also features all the tracks from their 2019 mini-album, Map of the Soul: Persona, including Boy With Luv. The album also features Black Swan and Interlude: Shadow, which were pre-releases back in January.

One of my previous complaints with BTS previous comebacks (they were still good songs) was that it was catered to the Western industry and consequently lost the darkness that I really enjoyed from BTS back in the day. While On isn’t totally a dark track like Fake Love or Blood Sweat and Tears, the song is a step in that direction with its edgy vibes. I love the marching drums in the instrumental. It keeps the song coming at you in a consistent manner, driving the song along with a subtle yet heavy intensity. The subtle voice synths (what is the technical terms for this?) in the chorus that were made to match the style of a rolling drum beat was also quite cool. The dance break took me by surprise when I heard the first time. It takes a slight trap influence and infuses it with brass and some electric guitar, which I think is really cool. The vocal work was superb (loving how Jin got more lines than usual) and the rapping was, as always, top notch.

The music video is awesome. There is an epic feel to the video thanks to the wide shot and the very familiar backdrop. I am sure it has appeared on other shows and videos before, but I recognize it from American Horror Story. The lighting is also quite bright, while everyone else is dressed in black. There is a strong contrast with the backup dancers and the scenery. In the end, the members pop, which I think is really cool. They are in a mixture of black and white, so they do standout in the crowd. I also liked how the video was set up and made to look like the members (for some parts) appear out of nowhere. Whether that is part of the choreography, I am not sure. But it looks fantastic either way.

The choreography was also a standout. The chorus, for one, was pretty memorable by the end of the music video. Especially when it came to the raining lyrics. The circular motions they made with their hands somehow keyed into my mind. The second part has to be the dance break. Intense, edgy and very tough, bringing me back to my favourite eras of BTS releases. I do wonder, with such an extravagant music video and routine setup, how they will pull off comeback stages. It is either going to be mind blowing or over the top.

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

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Song-Based Categories

It is that time of the year again where I announce the winners for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. In December 2019, I allowed the audience (you all), once again, to vote for their favourite songs and artists for the December 2018 to November 2019 period. Thank you to all who voted and participated in the KPOPREVIEWED Awards this time around. Even more people voted this year, making this year more intense than ever in many categories. This post will focus on the song-based categories, which will also involve the Performance categories, Best Music Video, Best Concept and the most voted song (by you all). The winners for the artist categories will be posted in an accompanying post today, while the Top 100 songs of 2019 will be posted tomorrow.

Here is how things are going to work. Each category (aside from the non-fan voted categories, which are specified) will have a WINNER (the song/performance/video that ranked first), a Honourable Mention (the song/performance/video that ranked second) and a KPOPREVIEWED Choice (my personal choice if I voted, which I didn’t include this year). And let’s go!


Best Special Performance

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Egostistic Cover (AOA) at Queendom


Best Concept

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – HIP (Mamamoo)


Best Solo Choreography

Nominees: Blue (Ha Sung Woon); Focus (Kim Dong Han); Gotta Go (Kim Chungha); LALALAY (Sunmi); L.O.V.E (Park Ji Hoon); Twit (Hwasa – Mamamoo); WANT (Taemin – SHINee); What Are You Up To? (Kang Daniel); What You Waiting For? (Anda & R.Tee); Ya (Lee Minhyuk – BTOB).

WINNER – WANT (Taemin)
Honourable Mention – Gotta Go (Kim Chungha)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – LALALAY (Sunm
i)


Best Male (Group) Choreography

Nominees: All Night (ASTRO); Boom (NCT Dream); HIT (Seventeen); Hollywood (AB6IX); Humph! (Pentagon); Love Shot (EXO); RPM (SF9); Say My Name (ATEEZ); Side Effects (Stray Kids); You Calling My Name (GOT7).

WINNER – Love Shot (EXO)
Honourable Mention – HIT (Seventeen)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Side Effects (Stray Kids)


Best Female (Group) Choreography

Nominees: Bon Bon Chocolat (EVERGLOW); Boogie Up (WJSN); Butterfly (LOONA); DALLA DALLA (ITZY); HIP (Mamamoo); Pinky Star (Run) (GWSN); Sunrise (GFriend); The Fifth Season (Oh My Girl); Violeta (IZ*ONE); Zimzalabim (Red Velvet).

WINNER – Butterfly (LOONA)
Honourable Mention – HIP (Mamamoo)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Zimzalabim (Red Velvet)


Best Collaboration

Nominees: Blossom (Eunha & Ravi); Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey); Don’t Need Your Love (NCT Dream & HRVY); I Wanna Be (Key ft. Kim Soyeon); Spring (Park Bom ft. Sandara Park)

WINNER – Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey)
Honourable Mention – Don’t Need Your Love (NCT Dream & HRVY)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey)


Best Music Video

Nominees: Abandoned (Brown Eyed Girls); Above The Time (IU); Crown (TXT); Feel Special (TWICE); HIT (Seventeen); Love Drunk (Epik High ft. Crush); Noir (Sunmi); Snapping (Kim Chungha); You Calling My Name (GOT7); Zimzalabim (Red Velvet)

WINNER – Obsession (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Feel Special (TWICE)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – HIT (Seventeen)


Best International Song By A Korean Artist

Nominees: Breakthrough (TWICE – Japanese); Flower (GFriend – Japanese); Lights (BTS – Japan); Moonwalk (WAYV – China); Someone’s Someone (Monsta X – US).

WINNER – Breakthrough (TWICE – Japan)
Honourable Mention – Moonwalk (WAYV – China)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Breakthrough (TWICE – Japan)


Best Official Soundtrack (OST)

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – We All Lie (Ha Jin- Sky Castle OST)


Most Viewed Review of 2019

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Goblin (Sulli)


Most Viewed Album Review of 2019

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – BXXX (Ha Sung Woon)


Songs With Most Win on Weekly KPOP Charts

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Time Of Our Life (DAY6)
WINNER – HIP (Mamamoo)


Best Non-Title Track

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Ten Nights (Mamamoo)


Best Album

Nominees: Love Poem (IU); Narcissus (SF9); Purpose (Taeyeon – SNSD); The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6); Want (Taemin – SHINee)

WINNER – Love Poem (IU)
Honourable Mention – The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6)


Most Voted For Song of 2019

WINNER – Obsession (EXO)


And that brings us to the end of the Song-Based Categories for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t seen the Artist-Based Categories yet, click here.

Tomorrow, we will get to see which artist ranked on the Top 100 of the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Charts, where the song that ranks first becomes the ‘Best Song of 2019’. Remember this is decided based on the votes for Best Song of 2019 (50%) and the Weekly KPOP Charts that I post every Sunday (50%). Will EXO’s Obsession become the ‘Best Song of 2019’ officially? You can find out by clicking here (hyperlink will be updated once the post is published).