[Review] Blind – Ciipher

I disappeared once again this week. I didn’t take a break, but spent majority of the week writing out those ‘Looking Back’ posts (who knew making a YouTube playlist would be so time consuming?). But now I am briefly back to review some albums and other tracks from this week and earlier. First up is Ciipher’s first comeback since their debut with I Like You back in March of this year. Earlier this week, the group dropped their second mini-album, Blind, which featured the title track of the same name.

I Like You had potential, but failed to fully encapsulate that potential in the three minute song. If I had a chance, I would have reserved that song to be a side track and bumped up Blind as the debut title track. It would have been a much better launching pad for the group and surely attracted more attention towards their debut (which is definitely something one would need in this current competitive climate). What really stood out for me in Blind was the instrumental. Blind has this edgy kick to it (via the synth selection), which makes Blind so much more appealing to listen to. This, combined with the other elements I usually focus on, results in an booster version of the group. The guitar riff we hear throughout the chorus makes the song’s centrepiece electrifying, and I thought the plain and simple hook line at the start of the chorus was quite catchy and punchy. I did wish the guitar riffs were a little more pronounced, as this would have heightened the energy and bring forth a much stronger electrifying feeling. I also like the buildup and hype towards the choruses in the song. The drums and concentration that occurs here definitely teases the energy that we got in the chorus. The rapping in Blind is definitely satisfying and adds to the energy of the song. The sequence we get at the end was probably one of my personal favourite moments of the song, as it continued the momentum from the final chorus and helped end the song on a strong note. The vocals were also quite good. While there was some vocal processing, Blind featured clear vocals. I did find it a bit odd that autotune wasn’t used in Blind as much as their debut track. In their debut track, the use of autotune didn’t feel right and its use here instead would have aligned better. Overall, a strong and much better song that I wished was their debut track.

I think with the sound in which Blind had gone for, the music video could have gotten away with a slightly darker concept. I am not thinking horror or dark lighting to the point where you can’t make out the member’s faces. Rather, the producers of the music video could have gone with something edgy, but also keeping it casual as well. Maybe outfits that brings out rock influences, given the guitar riffs we get in the chorus. Or a stage, instead of an office. I understand the more youthful approach of the video, given the energy that comes from the song. but I feel the video as it stands felt more fitting for a pop sound. Some elements within the music video already head in that direction, such as the blue the outfits they wore in the office set for one of their choreography sequences. But like in that example, they looked out of place.

I like the energy they bring to the performance. It definitely works well with the energetic and upbeat side of the song. Other than that, it was a good performance. Not exactly memorable, but it was fun to watch.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

[Review] I Like You – Ciipher

The next debut on the review list is Ciipher’s debut with I Like You, which dropped on 15 March 2021. Ciipher is a new male group under RAIN Company, which is also the company that Rain set up in 2015 after deciding not to renew his own contract with Cube Entertainment. The group consist of Hyunbin, Tan, Hwi, Keita, Tag, Dohwan, Won. All members, aside from Hwi, have participated in some sort of survival show such as Produce 101 X (which formed X1), NO.MERCY (which formed MONSTA X), YG TREASURE BOX (which formed TREASURE), Under Nineteen (which formed 1THE9 – member Won was part of the final lineup for this group) and High School Rapper.

I Like You is a pleasant R&B track. But I don’t think the song extends any further than ‘pleasant’. To better breakdown the song, I have decided to rank the song’s three main elements. I Like You‘s greatest asset was the hooks and melodies. There was a nice sway to them and they add a decent ring to the song, helping make the song more memorable (which is great for a debut). The song’s lyrics were all about falling in love with their crush, and I feel the melodies did a good job of sweetening the song to match with that theme. The song mid-range asset was the instrumental. Like the melodies, I feel that the instrumental did a good job of setting the tone, bright and innocent, and keeping the energy upbeat. It gave the song its colour and complimented that sweetness we got from the vocals. It is also the main driver to why the song is so pleasant. However, I have put it in the mid-range because the instrumental is also quite dull. I don’t find much in it as exciting and I am not head over heels for I Like You‘s instrumentation. But at least the instrumental is more appealing than the final element. This final element is probably the most important element of the song, and it is the vocals. The excessive presence of autotune is quite off-putting and dismantles anything the hooks/melodies and instrumental had done to make the song appealing. It also dulls the song and adds unnecessary weight, which doesn’t go with the bright tone of the song. And there is so much of it, that I can’t tell whether there is potential behind their vocals. Overall, I Like You has some great potential, but it felt hijacked by what I would consider the most important element.

The music video was decent. It isn’t mind-blowing or have much of a memorable factor to it. But, it was still watchable nonetheless. The video is filmed in what looks like a Costco, but is in fact a Korean version of Costco (Emart Traders, I believe is what the store is called). The setting is an odd choice and doesn’t make much sense to me. But I happy for anyone to explain to me if the store setting holds any meaning. I liked how they made sure Ciipher had their ‘product’ in the video, which adds a personalised touch to the video. I also enjoyed the energy that the members conveyed through their energetic moods and I also like the Instagram frame for some of the solo shots. Kim Tae Hee (Rain’s wife and a famous Korean actress) also makes cameo appearances in the video as the crush the members are singing about.

I feel the performance is a better version of the song’s official version. The autotune is less present, as the members are singing live, which makes it hard for the autotune to filtered over the vocals. And based on what I can hear, they sound decent. There is a bit of shakiness to their vocals, but this is partly due to their choreography which looks pretty decent as well. I like the bounce it has and the youthful charms the members bring to the stage.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10