[Review] Shining Bright – CSR

CSR made a splash with their debut last year with their bright Pop? Pop! single and their subsequent comeback in November 2022 with ♡Ticon (which I have yet to review – will do so in the future). Just over four months on, CSR made their return with their second comeback, Shining Bright, and second mini-album Delight.

To me, the opening of Shining Bright took me right back to their Pop? Pop! debut. The super engaging electronic thumps just had such a nostalgic feel to them, which was pretty much the major drawing point of their debut single. A nostalgic feeling also comes through again later in Shining Bright via the melodies in the choruses, as well. However, we don’t hear much more of electronic thumps in the song. Instead, Shining Bright‘s verses take on more of a pleasant pop appeal, with the occasion hints of the true form of Shining Bright, which is later revealed to be a pop rock motif in the choruses. But CSR, via their delivery of Shining Bright, gives the pop rock more of a sugary sweet vibe. The combination of the two creates a highly sweetened and upbeat tempo, which I quite enjoyed. The vocals do push the boundary a bit with how sweet they are, but never did I think CSR went overboard. We do get close, as there were times in Shining Bright where I thought it might have been a better move to tone down the cutesy energy, such as the shoutier moments of the choruses and at the end of the second verse raps. But it didn’t necessarily ruin the song for me, so I don’t feel as strongly about this compared if it had disrupted the flow or been overwhelming. Some good moves in Shining Bright include toning down the pre-choruses ever so slightly to help accentuate the choruses, the presence of electric guitars towards the end of the song to tie everything together and the piano ending (which just gave Shining Bright a pretty ending). Overall, Shining Bright works extremely well for CSR and is a great addition to their discography.

The music video for Shining Bright was a pretty one. Just like the song’s title, there was a brightness to the video, which in combination with the post-production, helped make the abundance of colours throughout quite vivid. The members’ visuals were also highlighted in the video. I did wish there was more to the music video, as I felt I have summed up the video in just the couple of lines above quite succinctly, which sometimes is a good thing. But other times, it is not such a good thing. I am unsure on where this video lies on the spectrum.

I quite enjoyed the choreography for this comeback. It looks super expressive and energetic, which matches well with the song. The members do an awesome job on stage with delivering the lively choreography and also live vocals at the same time. It is wholesome and fun routine to watch altogether.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

[Review] Pop? Pop! – CSR

Last week, I focused on some male group debuts from this year that I had yet to review. This week, I turn my attention to some female group debuts from this year. While the female group rookie scene has been super intense in particular, there is still a lot of ground to cover. I begin it all off with CSR, a seven member group under POPMUSIC. They debuted back in July of this year with the mini-album Sequence: 7272 and title track Pop? Pop!. Fun fact, the seven members of the group (i.e. Sua, Sihyeon, Yuna, Seoyeon, Duna, Geumhee and Yeham) are all born the year 2005. Before we let that actually sink in, let’s get stuck right in with this review.

Out of all the songs that I will be covering in the next few days for this female group rookie intensive period, Pop? Pop! is probably my favourite release. While I do find some cutesy song releases to be cringy and rely on a lot of the same motifs over time, there have been a few that have really stood out for me. And Pop? Pop! is joining that list. Put simply, Pop? Pop! brings nostalgia upfront because it sounds very similar to some of LOVELYZ’s earlier releases, a group previously active between 2014 to 2021. The synth-pop style of instrumentation and vocals work just brings me back to LOVELYZ’s releases. In addition to the nostalgia, there is a vibrant and refreshing feel to Pop? Pop! that feels very original in 2022. I particularly love the way the title of the song is repeated throughout the song. But instead of being repetitive, it is cleverly weaved into the instrumentation and used as detailing throughout the song. The exclamations of “Pop” during the verses were so addictive and acted like mini explosions of energy that kept even the verses dynamic. Even the refrain following the choruses was quite appealing, probably due to what felt like a faster tempo and the liveliness it gave. As for the actual choruses, they were very nicely done and the melody here was pleasantly inviting. The bridge is where the song changes up a tad bit, with a vibrating synth that we have not really heard in the song yet. It also incorporated a bit of a rap, which isn’t really a LOVELYZ thing. Essentially, the bridge of Pop? Pop! maintained that good energy that comes from the verses and choruses, but in a way that the song doesn’t feel like it is stuck in a loop. Finally, I really enjoyed the way the song ended with the extra “Pop Pop” that also feels more hefty, strongly signaling the end of Pop? Pop!. Overall, I think it is safe to say that Pop? Pop! is a great release. It has been on repeat for me, and I am not even tired of it.

The concept of the group, from KProfiles, is a class of young girls who were born in 2005. Their ages already tick off the latter part, whilst the group goes for the school concept for the first part of their concept. This time around, the visuals and music videos reminds me of GFriend, who is also another disbanded group who was notorious for their school girl concept in their very early days. But this music video features a bit more post-production that makes it feel more cutesy. Personally, since I like the song, I am not too troubled by the extra cuteness, simply because it matches up with the vibrant energy. And the acting isn’t as forced or hard to watch as other examples. I also enjoyed the vibrant colours in this video, with green in this video having a lasting impression on me.

When I watch their performance, I cannot help but smile. While some might argue that is this just down to just the song, I feel the bright energy, their smiles and positive vibes you get from the members also plays a part in getting this reaction out of me.

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