[Album Review] Apocalypse: Save Us (2nd Studio Album) – Dream Catcher

I time travel back to April this time to cover Dream Catcher’s second studio album, Apocalypse: Save Us. This was released mid-April with the title track, MAISON, as its lead track. The album features two halves, one full of group tracks and the other half is made up of solo tracks from each of the members. There is also an introductory track and an interlude questionably labelled as a skit (both of which do not feature as part of the final album rating as they do not feature lyrics). In total, Apocalypse: Save Us features 14 tracks to satisfy our Dream Catcher music cravings.

Another strong album from Dream Catcher, which features a number of 10/10 tracks. Find out which songs I gave the perfect rating to down below! Honestly, I am not surprised about this. Dream Catcher has always given us strong side tracks, and Apocalypse: Save Us is not exception. I also liked that the members got to explore individual sounds with their solo tracks. As a result of this, we were given very different tracks to what we usually hear from Dream Catcher as a group. There is probably something for everyone on this album! Also, each member shot a MV (branded as a ‘special clip’ on their YouTube channel). I have included a link to each video, so make sure you check the videos out as well!

Apocalypse: Save Us Album Cover

1. Intro: Save Us – Beginning the album is this instrumental introductory track, which can be further broken into two halves. The first half is this haunting and sinister classical organ instrumental, and the second half is a hip guitar instrumental that feels very urban and contemporary.   

2. Locked Inside a Door – Following the introductory track, we move onto the album’s first 10/10 song. This album really sets itself up from the beginning. Locked Inside a Door is a groovy track thanks to its jazzy instrumental. And like most groovy numbers these days, I find myself having a bit of a dance along to the music when I hear it. I liked how both Dream Catcher embraced this jazzy side, going with some awesome vocal and rapping delivery and styles that work hand-in-hand with the genre. I also enjoyed how they were upfront, allowing their vocals to gain a stronger vibrant and appealing tinge. (10/10)

3. MAISON (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for MAISON. (8/10)

4. StarlightStarlight tackles the synthpop genre, and I am loving it! I found the instrumentation to be blissful and quite a vibe throughout. I really like the consistency from start to end. Most of the time, I am complaining about songs being too consistent. But Starlight definitely thrives and excels as a result of this consistent approach. The vocals align nicely, and I quite liked how the producers did an amazing job ensuring that the song matches up with the rest of Dream Catcher’s discography. Dami, in particular, shines in this song. (10/10)

5. Together Together continues the experimentation with different musical styles, this time dabbling in deep house. I liked how club ready this song is. I also enjoyed the way their vocals are kept delicate and soft, placing emphasis on breathy tones. In addition, I liked the pop of energy added to the chorus through that vibrant synth, giving the catchy sequence some depth, grooviness and allowing the chorus to be quite distinct from the rest of the song. The ‘Say that you love me’ repetition in the second half of the chorus is super catchy. Siyeon’s high note was spectacular. I have to admit though, this sone is slightly more plain than what we have heard so far. But it still a strong number. (9/10)

6. Always – Once again, Dream Catcher changes it up the trajectory of this album with a different genre. This time, it is ballad. If you know me, I have a soft spot for ballads. And Always proves just that. Always is a beautiful instrumented ballad with stunning piano work as the basis of the instrumental. It is also complete with wonderful and captivating vocals. The swayable melodies are just to die for and adds a memorable aspect to the song. (10/10)

7. Skit: The Seven Doors The Seven Doors acts as an interlude between the two halves of the album. The first half (what we have heard thus far) are the group songs, while the second half (what we are about to venture into) are solo tracks from each of the members. The Seven Doors itself brings it all back to their energetic rock roots which sounds appropriate as an anime soundtrack. It is squashed between an atmospheric wind intro and nature sounds as the outro. My biggest question is, however, why is The Seven Doors labelled a skit?

8. Cherry (Real Miracle) – The first solo track on the album belongs to JiU. It is a cute track about her dog named Cherry. Cuteness is not something I would ever associate with Dream Catcher, so a track like this is actually quite refreshing and different. I enjoyed the upbeat funky and groovy vibes that’s Cherry (Real Miracle) had. A lovely and satisfying track, overall. (8/10)

9. No Dot – On a much more serious note is No Dot, which is SuA’s solo track. This is more within Dream Catcher’s wheelhouse for obvious reasons. No Dot is quite intense, thanks to the trap and rock elements in the instrumental. I also liked how the bass bolstered and added definition to the song towards the end, concentrating the darker and more intense notes of No Dot. SuA also sounds amazing, particularly when she uses her lower and breathy tones in the post-chorus hooks. (9/10)

10. Entrancing (황홀경 (极夜)) – As mentioned earlier in the review, I am a sucker for ballads. And Siyeon’s solo track, Entrancing, does exactly as the title suggests. It is a ballad that is draws influences from traditional Korean music. But it is not just that. Entrancing sounds like it uses a mix of classical, traditional and modern instruments to bring the captivating effect to life. It is very unique and leaves me floored (imagine my jaws dropping to the floor). Siyeon’s vocals were stunning and breathtaking throughout Entrancing, drifting along with the melodies. There was also a soft rap in the song, something I would not have expected with such a delicate song. (10/10)

11. Winter (한겨울 (寒冬)) – The next solo song (belonging to Handong) is another ballad. But this time, it takes the form of a R&B ballad. This song is quite delicate and remains quite soft throughout, reminding you of a winter’s day. Personally, Winter is not my type of song. Usually, I find the style dry and Winter did fall into that trap. Handong does surprise me at the end with an acapella ending that did perk my interest. Also interesting is that she ended the Korean centric song with Chinese lyrics. (7.5/10)

12. For – Yoohyeon‘s solo track, For, is an old time jazzy number. The track is well executed. From the jazzy instrumental to the sweet vocals from Yoohyeon, everything was on point and sounded ideal for the direction in which the influences had directed the song to go towards. What was quite unexpected was the fact majority of For is in English (sans a couple of Korean words in the choruses). To me, that is quite a surprise and give Yoohyeon a unique edge with her solo track (when compared to the other members). (8/10)

13. Beauty FullBeauty Full is up next, headed by Dami. I have high expectations with her solo track, simply because she is my favourite member of the group! Consider Beauty Full to hit those expectations! Her track taps into the pop rock genre that has been in abundance in KPOP with some more recent releases. Beauty Full is pretty nostalgic for me (as are the other pop rock KPOP tracks), as pop rock is what I grew up with. I liked the vibrant energy that is coming from the song, with some really satisfying head nodding sequences. Dami’s vocals are superb and her rapping is top notch (per usual). The anthem direction of the bridge was very cool, as well. I might be bias heading into this track, but I leave happy and satisfied. (10/10)

14. Playground – We end the lengthy album with a vibrant and cheerful track from Gahyeon. Playground is a pleasant track that makes me smile while I listen to it. It is largely pop, but there are also some funky and jazzy elements as well. I also liked the subtle violin and brass in the instrumental. Gahyeon sounds really nice throughout Playground, though I think a high note (which might be beyond her abilities) would have really added the cherry on top for me. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

Apocalypse: Save Us Teaser Image

[Review] MAISON – Dreamcatcher

Dream Catcher also made their comeback earlier this week with MAISON and their second studio length album, Apocalypse: Save Us. MAISON follows the release of July 2021’s BEcause and the special mini-album, Summer Holiday.

MAISON is Dreamcatcher’s most electrifying title track yet. Right off the bat, the song brings in a electronic guitar riff that definitely promises great things. This keeps MAISON within Dreamcatcher’s niche of rock influence title tracks, as synths are shortly brought in and infused with the electronic guitar to create a dynamic and powerful backing piece. I liked the balance shared between the two sound profiles during the verses, but I was left disappointed with how the balance was continued into the chorus. As it stand, I find it incredibly hard to pinpoint the end of the verse and start of the chorus for MAISON, no matter how listens I have given it. It just sounds too alike. I wish one profile (either the rock or the synths) popped out more during the chorus in an intensified manner, This would have really helped give the chorus more definition and not have it blend in with the verse. At this stage, I have decided the section that contains the ‘Save my home in the …‘ to be the chorus, as it is MAISON‘s main hook and it is very catchy. For a brief moment, MAISON does take a breather from the intensity by inserting a melodic piano piece and I quite like how this climbed in intensity to return the song to its original mix of rock and synths. I also liked how they inserted that choir backing in the final chorus, for an additional dynamic touch. As for Dreamcatcher’s vocals and rapping, both were solid throughout and showcased intensity that complemented the powerful nature of the instrumental. MAISON is another strong song under the group’s wing, but does need a bit of refinement in its production.

The entire video was shot in front of the green screen. Not entirely sure how I feel about this. Usually, the green screen is applied to the background of a built set (especially for the choreography shots), and I think MAISON should have gone down this route. But this style isn’t that bad. It just feels overly artificial when it didn’t have to be. MAISON “sends a message to those who shamelessly destroy the environment in this current state of the earth, which is gradually losing its original state due to the actions of humankind” (taken from SOOMPI) and you could see this message in this music video, as it shows the world in an apocalyptic state. It also affects their world, which appears heavenly and beautiful in one scene, but broken and destroyed in the next.

I quite enjoyed how powerful the performance looked. This might appear to be an obvious statement as the performance matches the music and it reflects well, given Dreamcatcher’s past stages. But I found the group to be super charismatic on the stage whilst performing this track. Their moves, formations and transitions were strong, and it left a strong impression on me.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[Album Review] Summer Holiday (2nd Special Mini Album) – Dream Catcher

Dream Catcher returned at the very end of July with BEcause (as the title track) and the special mini-album, Summer Holiday. While BEcause aligns with Dream Catcher’s usual sound, the rest of the mini-album is quite a journey that I am sure you will enjoy, as the group delves into different genres for each of their songs. Continue reading to find out which genres the group went with for this special mini-album. More recently, Dream Catcher released their sixth mini-album, Dystopia: Road to Utopia (which I have reviewed, click the link to read that album review), headlined by the title track, Odd Eye.

Summer Holiday Album Cover

1. Intro – The intro begins with the sound of fans (cooling fans), followed by someone entering the store (as you can hear the clickity clacks of someone’s shoes walk). The music then takes a slight dramatic turn that feels very up Dream Catcher’s alley, with it being bold, creepy (definitely terms that go hand-in-hand with Dream Catcher’s music profile), but also sophisticated and mature.

2. BEcause (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of BEcause. (8.5/10)

3. Airplane – Bright releases aren’t something that we really speak about when the topic revolves around Dream Catcher. But Airplane is just that. It is a summery pop track that ticks a lot of boxes, including bright (as already mentioned), upbeat, fun-sounding and refreshing. I liked the guitars in the background and all the synths in the song that reminds me of 80s pop music. Vocally, the song is pretty decent, but the rapping felt most fitting for the song. (9/10)

4. WhistleWhistle takes us back to familiar territory. Compared to Airplane, this song is much more serious and mature. Whistle taps into EDM for majority of the instrumentation in the song, but there are some stillness during the song’s quieter moments. I also find the EDM, particularly during the bridge of the song, is reminiscent of EDM we heard back in the ‘00s. The whistling makes a lot of sense, and helped bring a lightness to the EDM track. The vocals made the song breezier and brought an appropriate pop melody to the song. It was a pleasant listen that I really enjoyed. (10/10)

5. Alldaylong – Another song, another genre. This time around, Alldaylong delves into city-pop. Like the genre, Alldaylong was a very light track and it also shows off the group’s ability to do more delicate songs (as I feel we associate rock and heavy EDM with the group more often). I liked the ‘surround’ sound processing that were applied on top of the vocals. It definitely made it feel more city-pop. It isn’t their most notable track on the album, but definitely a worthwhile change up in their sound. (8/10)

6. A Heart of Sunflower – Given the variety of genres on this album, I was expecting a ballad to come our way. And for this album, it comes in the form of A Heart of Sunflower. This ballad had everything when it comes to ballads. From the acoustics that started off the song and remained throughout A Heart of Sunflower, to the orchestral touch via strings, to the peak using more orchestral elements and electric guitars. The vocals are very delicate and touching. If anything, I wished the song had more harmonies. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Summer Holiday Teaser Image

[Review] BEcause – Dream Catcher

Officially returning today is Dream Catcher with BEcause, the title track from the group’s first special mini-album, Summer Holiday. They did give us a little sneak peek at the comeback yesterday through the official start of promotions on MCountdown, but the music video officially dropped today. This the group’s first comeback since the release of their sixth mini-album, Dystopia: Road to Utopia, and Odd Eye earlier this year.

When I first heard the song, I thought Dream Catcher strayed away from their usual rock sound by basing the song on the first part of the first verse (and the fact that this was a song released on a ‘special album’. Oh, how wrong was I. If I had waited a few more seconds for the song to reach the pre-chorus, I would have realized that BEcause does contain that Dream Catcher signature rock influence, returning the group to their roots. They do change up their chorus a bit by incorporating pizzicato sounds (plucking strings of a string instrument), before leading into the rock influence. The subsequent rock in the chorus was toned down slightly to not be its usual amplification, which helps merges the softness of the pizzicato sound with the rest of the song. For Dami’s first rapping sequence, we get more of a concentrated rock sound that I thought was really cool. It is the tiniest of details, but there was a electric guitar solo moment for a brief second which I really liked. The bridge features a creepy and haunting piano melody, before we are blasted with rock to end the song. The instrumental front of BEcause was really good and had such thrilling energy. For the vocals, I thought it was good. It is Dream Catcher’s usual style and I also really like the rock style filter over some parts to help give their voices some more edge. Overall, BEcause is a really good return to form for Dream Catcher. I do feel like the start was potentially me wanting something else from Dream Catcher, but I am happy with what BEcause ended up being.

Also returning to form is Dream Catcher’s concept, with the horror theme returning for this comeback. This time, it appears the members are staying at a haunted hotel, which is connected to an abandoned theme park. The setting for this music video appears to be the same theme park settings in other music videos, so I really like what the producers of the video did to make the theme park appear haunted and creepy. I also really like the grey colour scheme they went for. The whole bridge sequence was definitely haunting as well. But what was the most creepy were those people standing around wearing black cloaks and veils. In terms of plot, I am not exactly 100% sure what is going on. But I think the one of the members was caught, while all other members were evil spirits trying to corrupt that captured members (which was mission accomplished at the end). But aesthetics and atmosphere-wise, the music video for BEcause was nailed.

I liked how their performance incorporated some horror tropes. Nothing scary, but they are common things you would associate with the genre, such as the non-reflective mirror at the start of the performance, the Yoohyeon puppet in the first verse, creepy smiles throughout the choreography and slow turns we see commonly with dolls at the end of the performance.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9.5/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Album Review] Dystopia: Road to Utopia (6th Mini Album) – Dream Catcher

It is time for another album review. Honestly, I am so sorry about how scarce these album reviews are this year. They just take up so much time and I find myself to be quite limited with time lately. I am trying to keep to my schedule where I can and I am hope to get out all the album reviews that I have flagged on the ‘Coming Soon’ page as soon as possible. But enough talk about that. Today, we will be focusing on Dream Catcher’s latest mini-album, Dystopia: Road to Utopia. It features the single Odd Eye as the title track and Wind Blows as the secondary promotional track of the album. In addition to those two songs, Dystopia: Road to Utopia includes another three songs and an intro track (which I will not be including in the review). So without any further delays, here are my thoughts on Dystopia: Road to Utopia.

Dystopia: Road To Utopia Album Cover

2. Odd Eye (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Odd Eye. (9/10)

3. Wind Blows (바람아) – Dream Catcher, once again, merges their signature rock sound with EDM. While the group has done this before with some of their other side tracks, Wind Blows is unlike any other. And I say that in a good way. Wind Blows is a powerful piece. The energy that comes off it is quite thrilling. The softer moments of the song helped make the rest of the song more impactful. Their vocals and rapping really suits this style. Maybe in the future, Dream Catcher can revisit something along the lines of Wind Blows for a title track, as it definitely has the potential to be ground breaking change to their rock niche. (10/10)

4. Poison LovePoison Love opts for an electronic dance profile, diverting well away from that rock niche that is associated with Dream Catcher’s name. And it joins the ranks of amazing side tracks from the group. Honestly, the amount of times I have replayed Poison Love since its release is probably quite unhealthy. Poison Love has such a sleek club sound during the chorus, subtly intense and quite hypnotic. The verses, considering the combination of instrumental and vocals, come off as quite classy sounding. The rapping in the second verse is heavy, yet continues the trance that the chorus creates. As a whole song, I find Poison Love to have this nostalgic factor that reminds me of songs from 2000s (which is what I grew up on). (10/10)

5. 4 Memory – Dream Catcher continues their diversion from their rock sound, continuing with a lighthearted song that delves into a mild touch of acoustics and a heavier tinge of an abrasive EDM. 4 Memory is a nice song that showcases their vocals. The lightheartedness of the song really brings out a smile in the listener, and you can feel the positive and bright atmosphere that is exuded from the song. Overall, quite enjoyable. (9/10)

6. New Days (시간의 틈)New Days returns to the rock sound that we all know Dream Catcher for in their last song. New Days sound like it could be the anthem or OST for a bright and happy anime. It is quite an upbeat and bright song. I could imagine myself listening to the song while in the park on a day of blue skies. I really like their vocals in New Days. While the song blasts us with rock energy, their vocals keep the song grounded and not go overboard with the rock energy. I also like their harmonisation in this song. The best part of the song has to be the ‘Wa’ that follows the first and final choruses. It just adds a level of prettiness to the song that one would not expect when you hear this style of rock sound. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.4/10

Dystopia: Road to Utopia Teaser Image

[International Song Reviews] Chungha, Baekhyun, Dream Catcher, Jung Daehyun, TWICE

BTS’ Dynamite was voted by you to be the Best International Song By a Korean Artist. All songs from this review moving forward, including the songs in this review, will be eligble for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Check them out and remember to vote for your favourite at the end of the year. In the meanwhile, check out the winners for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards.

Welcome to the first International Song Review post of 2021. KPOP artists aren’t just focused on the Korean pop music industry. They have embarked on multiple other music video industries include the Japanese, Chinese and Western music industries. As they are released by Korean artists, I feel the obligation to review them like any other song released by the artists in Korea. But as they are not from the primary industry (i.e. KPOP), I decided to lump the reviews into one post. This allows me to focus on the primary review of Korean songs, but also allow me to ‘keep up’ with the releases outside of Korea. In this post, I will be focusing on songs released in the Western and Japanese music industries by Korean artists in late November 2020 and January 2021. I would recommend you check them all out. They include Chungha, Baekhyun, Dream Catcher, Jung Daehyun and TWICE.

Dream of You – Chungha (with R3HAB)

Dream of You is actually a Korean song released all in English. To give you some context, Dream of You is a pre-release single for her now-released first studio album that dropped earlier in the week. We all first heard the song at the end of November 2020 and it became part of the buildup towards Chungha’s grand return to the domestic market. What really stands out with Dream of You is the funky thumping instrumentation (which felt quite classy and dynamic all at the same time). The electronic nature of the instrumentation just makes it groovier. It is quite simple in hindsight, but it feels quite loaded when you consider the song as a whole. Chungha shows off her vocal flair throughout the song, delivering the song’s mature lyrics in a very complimenting manner. If Dream of You needed to prove its potential for Chungha to flourish in the Western market, then it did its job well. The music video released in conjunction back in November 2020 is actually a performance video. It showcases Chungha and her male dancers performing the song with an uber sensual choreography. There is a modern femme fatale vibe that comes from it, which I really enjoyed. It also felt like an extension of her Stay Tonight music video that was released earlier in 2020. I really the scenes where she performance in a suit and a hat. It just made the performance more impactful and interesting to watch. This release as a whole proves to me that Chungha is a performer that any industry should be afraid of. (10/10)

Get You Alone – Baekhyun (EXO)

It seems like the ongoing funky trend is spreading to other industries as well. Get You Alone is Baekhyun’s Japanese solo debut title track and it was first unveiled on the 3rd of January 2021 at his solo concert. The song has this casual upbeat vibe which makes it quite a pleasant listen. It isn’t really the most exciting song out there. But it manages to show off Baekhyun’s vocals quite nicely, emphasising the smoothness of his vocals and its husky profile. His ad-libs throughout Get You Alone and especially during the bridge is definitely the song’s icing on the cake. The music video shows a nerdy version of Baekhyun wanting to ask out someone he is interested in. But that person cruelly rejects him. He turns to the help of a more confident and experienced version of Baekhyun (the talk show host), who tells him what to do to be successful in the dating department (i.e. setting the mood, teaching him about manners and to make sure he smells nice – which resulted in a classy wardrobe change). I wished we got to see whether the changes and work put in paid off. It would have completed the story in a fulfilling manner. I liked the sets of the video. There isn’t anything special about them, but they managed to emphasis the funky tones of the song. The choreography shown throughout the music video was quite good and paired well with the song. (8/10)

No More – Dream Catcher

We all know Dream Catcher for their infusion of rock influences in their title tracks, regardless of the music industry they are releasing it in. What makes it even better is that Dream Catcher almost always puts a fresh spin on it. They found a niche in the KPOP industry and have managed to continued marketing towards that niche without tiring out listeners. But I don’t think we have ever heard anything with high intensity as No More. Released at the end of November 2020, No More literally charges at you with its relentless energy. It quite thrilling and powerful, all rolled into three minute long song. I really like how Dami’s rap cuts through the intensity by having the rock instrumentation stripped away into an almost trap-electronic piece. It does feel fitting for the song as a whole and brings some mid-song relief. The music video for No More doesn’t actually the members. I am assuming the anime characters that we do see are anime version of the members, though I haven’t found any information on who they are. The music video also doubles up as a lyrics video, showing the lyrics of the song of the song. I also like the transitions of the video. They do feel erratic, but most importantly, they matching the intensity of the song. As the video doesn’t feature the members and the anime character are simply images, there is not associated choreography with this comeback. (8.6/10)

Amazing – Jung Daehyun

Jung Daehyun, a member of the now inactive B.A.P, made his solo comeback in Korea with his first Japanese single back in November 2020. The new song is titled Amazing and it was officially released at the end of November 2020. But the music video was released for a month prior to the official song release. It is definitely nice to hear his voice once again, especially since this is the first song I have heard from him since the release of Aight at the end of 2019. His voice does flourish in the song and the melodies are quite enjoyable. Amazing also shines in the instrumental department. Sure, there isn’t anything special about it. But like the vocals and melodies, it was quite enjoyable and acted as a decent backdrop for the solo act’s vocals. It was noticeably dominated by repetitive taps on the keyboard and there was also some brass thrown into the song to give the chorus some additional colour. The music video was quite simple at the start, but it stilled managed to look classy thanks to the outfits worn by Jung Daehyun and the dancers. The video also showcased the visuals of Jung Daehyun quite well. About half way through the video, we see Jung Daehyun and the dancers perform under rain and in a water pool. While this is something we now see often in KPOP, it made the video more visually interesting. I personally felt the red light could have been omitted, but that is the only critical comment I can make for this video. The choreography looks nice. I wished more people would view the video to watch Jung Daehyun in action and listen to the song, as this comeback is very underrated. (8.2/10)

Better – TWICE

The final song in this post is TWICE’s Better. It was released back in mid-November. If you are looking for a fulfilling pop dose from this list, Better is the song for you. While some of the other songs above are within the pop realm, none of them match Better‘s colourful energy. It is the type of song that will make you smile and get up to dance to. The song’s best part has to be the descending melody that features as the song’s pre-chorus. It is definitely quite memorable and it makes the chorus just pop out so much more. The chorus comes out as a close second, with Jihyo’s ‘Better‘ really sticking in my mind. The rapping by Chaeyoung and Dahyun has a really nice kick to it, elevating Better to a much better level. While I don’t mention the rest of the members, they all sound really amazing throughout this new song. When it comes to the music video for Better, I applaud the stylist of the video who chose their outfits. The colours were quite dull and wouldn’t necessarily be considered fashionable at first glance. But the outfit colours worked in really close harmony to the rest of the music video, making the members stand out in the video. There is still a burst of other colours throughout the video using dominance, which compliments the pop vibes of the song. I also like the casualness of the video, portrayed through the member’s outfits and the uncomplicated nature of the sets. For the choreography, I like the bouncy energy they bring forth. The bridge looks complicated, but aesthetic. (9/10)

[Review] Odd Eye – Dream Catcher

Dream Catcher is back with a brand new release titled Odd Eye and their 6th mini-album, Dystopia: Road to Utopia. This comes after a jam packed year for the female group, including their first studio album, their fifth mini-album, promotions for Scream and Boca, the release of the special single R.o.S.E BLUE for another mobile game, Japanese comebacks and a bunch of solo work. Definitely quite a long list of activities. Let’s hope that 2021 is an eventful year for Dream Catcher! It is already shaping to be one with Handong officially returning to the lineup of the group through promotions for Odd Eye.

Odd Eye is confirmation that Dream Catcher’s title tracks cannot be without a rock influence. The first verse pretty much settle on a hip-hop influenced instrumental for the dance track. Hearing this influence got me excited for a bit as I thought that Dream Catcher was going to break out the mould of their commonly associated rock sound. It was definitely an interesting change to their usual style. Even the pre-chorus lead me to believe that they left the rock influence behind in 2020, infusing bit of an electronic texture to the song. But when the chorus rolls around, Dream Catcher hits us hard with the rock elements. And I really liked that, as it definitely helped made the chorus and rock elements feel a lot more explosive than usual. The textures in the chorus were really powerful, whilst the vocals were very crisp and clear. The second verse is pretty much of a mix bag, It doesn’t really return to that hip-hop styled verse we heard start off the song. Instead, it is a bit of a mix between the two styles of music, allowing for a bridge to be created to facilitate the ongoing momentum of the song and Dami’s great rapping sequence. I would have liked for them to explore more of that hip-hop influence though. For the bridge, I really liked how that humming in the background. It kept the song going without needing to opt for a slowed down or cut back sequence. It also maintained the song’s intensity, keeping up the suspense. Overall, Odd Eye does embark into foreign ground briefly. But it did not do so at the expense of what we know Dream Catcher for. In fact, it probably made Dream Catcher even more powerful than before.

With an electrifying song like this, it was nice to see the producers opt for a modern influence to the music video. The video features a fair amount of electronics and additional post-production effects to give off a technological advanced premise. It actually comes off quite cool. They also redesigned the setting of the tree that featured in the previous comebacks to fit in with the video here as well. As for the symbolism, I have no idea what the video is about. Nor how it links to the other music videos in the Dystopia series. It is interesting to see the message at the video, telling us that Dream Catcher couldn’t find their utopia. For the choreography shots, I really liked the black, white and red colour palette. It felt striking and also edgy, fitting with the musical influences they had in the song.

Fierceness is how I would describe the choreography and performance as a whole. The members just came at you with all this energy to be on par with the song. And it felt very satisfying to watch. It didn’t feel like their best work, however. But it was still up there, nonetheless!

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Album Review] Dystopia: Lose Myself (5th Mini Album) – Dream Catcher

The third album review for this weekend focuses on Dream Catcher’s latest comeback, BOCA, which is featured on the group’s fifth mini-album, Dystopia: Lose Myself. It is a short mini-album release, but it is one still worth checking out. All the song’s on this album is definitely of a high quality. Even the introductory track (which I didn’t review and hence include in this album review) is one of the best introductory tracks I have ever heard. Have a scroll down and check out each track whilst also having a browse of which songs I liked (hint – I liked all of them).

Dystopia: Losing Myself Album Cover

2. BOCA (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of BOCA. (8.5/10)

3. Break The Wall – Based on the title alone, Break The Wall felt like it be a full-on song. And Break The Wall lives up to that expectation, with the song’s energy and intensity is delivered by Dream Catcher’s classic rock influence. There were some great parts to this song that I would continually come back to. The rock influence during the chorus was extremely satisfying and checks my cravings for a rock song. Dami’s rapping takes the song a step further going with to a harsh but powerful level that really capitalizes on Dami’s voice and gives the song that needed climax. Finally, I really liked the ending, where we hear Siyeon put her vocals on full display with the prolonging and continuous ‘Woah’ that just keeps on coming at you. It was very bold and dramatic. I do find it interesting that the verses were muffled by autotune. In the live performances, the members hold up megaphones whilst singing their lines in the verses, which I thought was pretty unique. It fits in with the group’s message to rally up and give confidence to those who want to Break The Wall (that has held them back) with them. (10/10)

4. Can’t Get You Out Of My MindCan’t Get You Out Of My Mind delves into the EDM side, which isn’t something that I commonly associate with the group. To me, Can’t Get You Out Of Mind features a nostalgic for of EDM (can’t believe I just said that) that reminds me when EDM used to be just drops for the chorus. However, Dream Catcher doesn’t stop there with the chorus, following the drop with some vocals. And these vocals, along with the rest of the vocal work throughout Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind was very melodic and traditional for EDM. Sure, the song could have been more memorable. I think they could have given Dami a rap sequence to amp up the song’s intensity and provided additional depth. They could have also introduced some catchy hooks. But Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind does enough regardless these omissions. (9/10)

5. Dear – Dream Catcher wraps up the album release with the mandatory ballad that most KPOP albums must fulfill. While it is the outlier in terms of sound on this album, Dear is quite captivating. For the first two minutes, Dear is pretty much your standard piano-driven ballad. But after the two minute mark, everything sudden picks up and develops exponentially out of nowhere to become an beautiful orchestral piece. And I am glad it did so, as it made listening to the whole song worth it. In addition to be stunning music piece, the vocals are lovely throughout Dear, drawing me into it with its dreamy appeal. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.1/10

Dystopia: Losing Myself / BOCA Teaser Image

[Review] BOCA – Dream Catcher

Dream Catcher continues to explore the rock niche that they have created themselves through the release of their latest mini-album, Dystopia: Lose Myself, which features the title track, BOCA. To date, no other group has managed to overtake or compete with Dream Catcher in this niche market. It is a pity that they are not getting more attention in the domestic market. But it has been confirmed that their fanbase is growing with each comeback, their last being Scream. More recently, the group collaborated with the mobile game Girl Cafe Gun and released their second mobile game soundtrack, R.o.S.E B.L.U.E.

The last few title tracks (i.e. Scream and Deja Vu) that Dream Catcher has promoted have left me in awe within the last listen. Unfortuately, BOCA didn’t have that same initial appeal. It actually took a few listens to actually settle on an opinion for BOCA. I wished that BOCA had more of an electrifying vibe to the song. There is that fast tempo harshness that the electric guitars brings to the chorus. That is quite exciting in itself, but it didn’t feel enough. I wanted them to go that extra mile with it, especially in the final chorus, to give the song that extra edge and some differentiation from the preceding choruses. Aside from a high note, there isn’t much to really give the final chorus that much needed energy release and climax, and hence I found the song to be somewhat repetitive by the time they wrapped up. Everything else gets a massive tick of approval from me. I really enjoyed the verses as they brought a hip-hop vibe to the song, which I felt Dream Catcher has not really paired with their rock sound before. This is comes after a really nicely aesthetic ‘tututu‘ in the background for the first verse. The vocals throughout the song was just superb. Yoohyeon’s powerful vocals and falesetto that leads into the chorus, along with Siyeon’s high note at the end makes them standout in this song. On the topic of members, Gahyeon joins Dami as one the rappers in this song. That I thought was quite interesting and different, as I remember that Dami was the main rapper in all their songs. And their part was definitely rhythmic and added a much darker and edgier vibe to the song. Overall, there are some lacking elements that does weigh down the song. But BOCA still fits in with Dream Catcher’s work and proves their worth.

The visual game in this song is strong. That really jumped out at me when I was watching the music video. From their innocent and pure side (shown when the members are in dresses) to their dark and edgy side (shown through their choreography outfits), Dream Catcher looks stunning and jaw dropping in this music video. BOCA in Spanish means mouth and throughout the music video, you see a lot of ‘mouth’ references. The mouths are mainly taped up or covered, preventing people from speaking. Based on the lyrics as well, it seems like the music video shows the members are fighting against these people who just constantly judge them and provide hateful comments. Definitely a powerful message, suitable for a powerful video like this.

I really liked how the choreography represented the mouth. It connects the music video, song and performance in a clever manner. In addition to the mouth move, I really liked the circle formation that they form with the backup dancers during the chorus. It looked stunning when they started turning around Siyeon. The rest of the performance carries the intensity of the music quite well, making this another standout performance from the group.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.1/10

[Review] R.o.S.E BLUE – Dream Catcher

Dream Catcher has become the girl group to go to for an OST for mobile games. This week, the group released R.o.S.E BLUE for the mobile game Girl Cafe Gun. This releases comes after the group released the single Deja Vu, which was the OST for the mobile game King’s Raid last year. The group also previously returned with Scream and their first studio album, Dystopia: The Tree of Language earlier this year. If you haven’t check those out yet, I highly recommend you do after reading this review.

To me, I find R.o.S.E BLUE to be pretty plain for Dream Catcher’s standards. They have released very dynamic songs in the past. This one, in comparison, just doesn’t have same level of dynamism or excitement that really captures my attention from the get-go. It lacks a strong hook that would have transformed the song without a doubt. I would say that my perspective towards the song would have changed if they had released this earlier in their career. I would have said this to be a nice follow up to Chase Me. But given how Dream Catcher has matured and developed over the years, plain is the best descriptor I can give. Despite that, however, the song does fit snugly into Dream Catcher’s discography thanks for the intense rock influence we get in the chorus. I also like the how the producer featured a section of strings into the song. It adds a little something different to the song that helps freshen it to an extent. Their vocals were pretty good. I like how elegant their ‘Rose Blue‘ was the end, in particular. I tend to look forward to Dami’s rapping in Dream Catcher’s songs. But unfortunately, the rapping in this song shared the same description that the overall song got. Plain.

I think the video would make a little more sense if I knew what the game was about. It seems that all the members were once friends. But they started playing this game and ended up losing themselves in it. Jiu thinks she can get them back and goes on a mission by entering the game. She finds each of the members who I assume has taken on a character in the game. She shoots them to wake them up, which successfully does. But the catch was she only had five shots, one for each member. In a later scene, she rejoins them like is the opening shots. But as she has killed them and they left the game, they disappeared leaving her all by herself. She turns the gun on herself but is unable to do so as she has no more shots. The other members wake up and see Jiu stuck on the pink crystal that she touched to enter the game. At the end of the video we see five dream catchers on the floor, representing the five members who had woken up and the pink butterfly, representing Jiu in the crystal. Overall, an interesting plot line for mobile games.

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

[Special] Top 10 Personal Favourites Songs from 1st Half of 2020

2020 has proven to be an eventful year so, without a doubt. But since we are at the halfway mark already, let’s have a little reflection post on the last 6 months. In no particular order, here are 10 of my personal favourite KPOP releases since the start of 2020. I have also added some of my favourite sidetracks that I have encountered so far in the year as part of my top 10. This is also irrespective of my reviews and Weekly KPOP charts posts.

[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)

[Album Review] Dystopia: The Tree of Language (1st Studio Album) – Dream Catcher

It is time for another album review! And (once again) it an album that I should have reviewed a while back. I am talking about Dream Catcher’s very first studio album, Dystopia: The Tree of Language. It is definitely long overdue for the group as it has been four years since their debut (officially) and countless intense and unique comebacks. The album, released mid-February, features the title track Scream and 13 new tracks. Per usual, I will review all tracks excluding the intro, outro and instrumental tracks. Let’s get going!

Dystopia: The Tree Of Language Album Cover

2. Scream (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Scream. (10/10)

3. Tension – The title gives us a little teaser of the tension and intensity the song will feature. And it blasts you with just that from the very first second in which the song started, opting for a predominately rock instrumental. For all you dedicated fans of Dream Catcher (otherwise known as InSomnia), this is something we all know is within Dream Catcher’s repertoire, given this is the style that they debuted and consistently pull out. But rather than being the same as the past songs, Tension manages to make it refreshing. The song features a change in the intensity throughout the song but manages to make it well balanced. There are also interesting vocal textures thanks to the use of autotune (Dami’s line just before the chorus is just perfect) or a more delicate backdrop (see the bridge). (9/10)

4. Red Sun – If you think the title track is amazing, wait until you have a listen to Red Sun. The song seems to go towards of a hip-hop based sound, which I think it is unfamiliar territory for the group. But it keeps that edgy sound that we know Dream Catcher for. But there is more to the instrumental than just hip-hop. It is haunting in some parts and employs trap synths in other parts. The vocal work brings very interesting and mature twist to the song, as well. The repetition of the title post-chorus and the overall aesthetics are very memorable. Red Sun ticks all the boxes for me. (10/10)

5. Black or White – As we go down this list, the songs get more interesting. There is no going back with this album. I love the thumping beat at the very start, the orchestral touch during the pre-chorus, the funkiness we got in the chorus (on top of the orchestral touch). In addition to that, I really liked how they autotuned the main hook to be part of the instrumental for the bridge. Their vocals and Dami’s rapping fitted right into the track, like a key and lock. Altogether, Black Or White is another mindblowing, addictive and very unique song. (10/10)

6. Jazz Bar – Like how the title suggest, the song delves into jazz. It is a very subtle groove to the song and its flows effortlessly from start to end. The melody was very pleasant and the chorus was satisfying good. Their vocals were very refined and delicate, matching with the jazzy nature of the song. But the real winner in this song has to be Dami. How awesome does she sound? Her nasally voice just works wonderfully in this song and has to be the best section of the song. (9.5/10)

7. SAHARA – We now return to a song with a rock touch (aka. the group’s roots). And it is a good song. But I don’t think it is as good as what we have heard so far. I found the verses to be forgettable for the most part. I did enjoy the rock rush the song had incorporated during its building up moments and during the chorus. Sadly, I also found the hook in this song to be rather weak. But I did enjoy their vocals and Dami’s rapping was pretty decent. As you can see, I would better describe as the song to skip on the album. (7/10)

8. In The Frozen – We re-enter the more interesting sounds on the album. In The Frozen starts off like any other dance track and it remains locked in that gear for majority of the track. It may sound like I am trying to saying it is typical, but I still liked it. There is an adventurous tone to the song, in my opinion. It just took its time to build up. But once we reached the final chorus, everything dropped (or should I say twist) and the entire song’s dynamic changed through the tempo, the incorporation of the song’s title and Dami’s ‘Limit no more’. This is pretty unique from other dance tracks, which once again brings another interesting song to the album. (9/10)

9. Daybreak (새벽)Daybreak delves into the R&B genre. It seems like Dream Catcher is captialising on the number of songs by showing a lot of variety in their sound, yet still showing some of their roots in others. The instrumental has this deep yet striking beat, which reminds me of Red Velvet’s Be Natural (a song I felt was boring at first but has grown on me over time). The vocal and rapping work brings life to the song and adds a sense of refinement. The ending is one of those abrupt kinds, which I still don’t like. But overall, another nice song. (8/10)

10. Full MoonFull Moon was a single for the fans by Dream Catcher, released back in 2018. As you can tell by the rock influences in this song, it is one of the many songs by Dream Catcher that I refer to when I talk about their roots in this review. This is one is a little more straight forward and doesn’t really do add to the sound that we are already familiar with. But this was released in 2018, when the group was still cementing their footing in the industry. I enjoyed the momentum of the song and remember head banging to it every time I had listened to it in the past. I also love the delicate ‘Full Moon’ ending to the chorus, which contrasts strongly with the rock sound that dominates the rest of the chorus. Great track, overall. (9/10)

11. Over The Sky (하늘을 넘어) – And here is another example of their roots, released in 2019 for their fans. The way this song starts off reminds me of many opening themes to animes. They literally throw you into the mix and they probably have no regrets. It is a little overwhelming at first, but you get used to it with multiple listens. Their vocals add more of a cheerful tone to the song and the melody/hook feels very pop-like in comparison to the rush of rock energy that we get in this song. But the two merges neatly with each other and sounds very decent, overall. (9/10)

14. Paradise (Siyeon Solo) (Pre-Release Track) – Not exactly sure if this was ever marketed as a pre-release track, but the final song on the album (even after the outro) Is Siyeon’s solo debut, Paradise. Paradise reminds me of old Western pop tracks and takes on an instrumental profile of a dance track through its use of EDM. But vocally, the song is steered towards the ballad domain. But it is not one or the other. However, the use of the dance instrumental gives it an engaging appeal, while Siyeon’s vocals are on full display in this song. I do feel this combination is rather safe and feel like the song would have been epic if the producers pushed in one or both regards. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

Dystopia: The Tree of Language Teaser Image

[Review] Scream – Dream Catcher

This is the first review in a while that I managed to complete on the same day of its release. Dream Catcher is back with a brand new song, Scream. It is featured on their very first studio album, Dystopia: The Tree of Language. If you watch the music video, you may notice that there is only 6 members involved in this comeback. This is because Handong is sitting out of this comeback due to overseas schedules. Dream Catcher has also confirmed that they will be releasing their third Japanese single, so keep an eye out on Saturdays for the review!

One listen in and I am already overwhelmed with the epic nature of the song. What I find very interesting is that Dream Catcher has been very consistent with their sound. Just everytime they return, they manage to reinvent the sound in some manner that makes it sound so epic and grand. Scream starts off with that rock sound that we are used when we discuss Dream Catcher. But slowly the thumping beats creeps in and we are introduced to a twist that leaves your jaws hanging. The chorus throws electronica into the mix and this gives the song that rush of intensity and dramatic flair that is unlike any I have encountered before in my many years of listing to Korean music. What I really thought was cool is how the members brought a deeper tone to their voices to the chorus. This definitely added to that flair I just mentioned. Another cool detail in the chorus as to be that choir-like ‘Scream, Scream, Scream‘. The rappers really shined, going with a deeper than usual tone as well. The vocals were superb in this song. In fact, I think all the members managed to top whatever song I considered to be their best previously as this was an awesome track which I highly recommend if you want some intensity in your playlist.

Darkness seems to overtake the members in this video, as seen by the start of the video with light being taken away and the members are running away from the dark clouds. There seems to be a little witchcraft in the video as well, based on some scenes looking like had a magic component to it. Their outfits seems to allude to witchcraft. But other than that, I have no idea what is going on in this video. What is the significance of the mask? What is the darkness and cloud? And why did it take over the light? What role to the members play in this video? It looks like we are going to get answers (hopefully) in an upcoming comeback, so I guess we have to wait and see. When it comes to the visuals of the video themselves, I thought the video looked amazing. The post production looked awesome and it definitely really appealed to my taste.

The choreography routine features backup dancers, which I don’t think Dream Catcher has ever used before. I find that fairly cool. I also think there is a lot of attitude to this song, thanks to the routine they perform for the chorus. I also liked how they kept Handong in mind while choreographing this routine, as I believe she might take the position of the masked female dancer when she returns.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 9.4/10

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Artist-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 particpated 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 artist-based categories, which will involve the New Artist categories, Elemental-focused (i.e. rap, vocals etc.) categories and Best Artist categories. 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 New Male Soloist

Nominees: Baekhyun (EXO), Chen (EXO), Ha Sung Woon, HUTA (Lee Min Hyuk – BTOB), Kang Daniel, Kim Jae Hwan.

WINNER – Baekhyun (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Kang Daniel
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – HUTA (Lee Minhyuk – BTOB)

Best New Female Soloist

Nominees: Hwasa (Mamamoo), Jeon Somi, Kim Ji Yeon (Kei – Lovelyz), Oh Ha Young (APINK), Sulli

WINNER – Hwasa (Mamamoo)
Honourable Mention – Sulli
KPOPREVIEWED – Hwasa (Mamamoo)

Best New Male Group

Nominees: AB6IX, CIX, ONEUS, TXT, X1

Honourable Mentions – ONEUS

Best New Female Group


Honourable Mention – EVERGLOW

Best Band

Nominees: DAY6, FT Island, IZ, N.Flying, ONEWE

Honourable Mention – N.Flying

Best Vocals

Nominees: AKMU, Brown Eyed Girls, Chen (EXO), IU, Mamamoo

Honourable Mention – Chen (EXO)

Best Raps

Nominees: J-Hope (BTS); Jackson (GOT7); Mark (NCT); Ravi (VIXX); Zico

Honourable Mention – Zico

Best Subunit

Nominees: Block B Bastarz; EXO-SC, Jus2, NCT 127, NCT Dream

Honourable Mention – NCT 127

Artist With Most Weekly KPOP Chart Wins

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Seventeen (5x)

Rising Star

Nominees: ATEEZ, CLC, N.Flying, UP10TION, VICTON

Honourable Mention – CLC

Most Underrated Artist of 2019

Nominees: A.C.E, Dream Catcher, LOONA, ONF, Pentagon

WINNER – Dream Catcher
Honourable Mention – Pentagon

Best Male Soloist

Nominees: Kim Dong Han, Leo (VIXX), Nam Woohyun (Infinite), Taemin (SHINee), Yesung (Super Junior), Zico

WINNER – Taemin (SHINee)
Honourable Mention – Zico
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Nam Woohyun

Best Female Soloist

Nominees: Ailee, Kim Chungha, IU, Park Bom, Sumni, Taeyeon (SNSD)

Honourable Mention – Kim Chungha
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Kim Chungha

Best Male Group

Nominees: ASTRO, ATEEZ, BTS, DAY6, EXO, GOT7, iKON, MONSTA X, NCT, NU’EST, Pentagon, Seventeen, SF9, Stray Kids, The Boyz, WINNER

Honourable Mention – BTS, ATEEZ
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Stray Kids

Best Female Group

Nominees: (G)I-DLE, BLACKPINK, CLC, Dream Catcher, EXID, GFriend, IZ*ONE, LOONA, Lovelyz, Mamamoo, Momoland, Oh My Girl, Red Velvet, TWICE, Weki Meki, WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

Honourable Mention – Red Velvet, Mamamoo
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Oh My Girl

And that brings us to the end of the Artist-Based Categories for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t seen the Song-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%). You can find out by clicking here (hyperlink will be updated once the post is published).

[Album Review] Raid Of Dream (Special Mini Album) – Dream Catcher

It is time for another album review and today, we will be focusing on Dream Catcher. The group returned last week with Deja Vu, which was the title track of a special mini-album, Raid Of Dream. The release of the mini-album and the title track was paired with the new mobile game, King’s Raid. And based on my review of Deja Vu, the music video seems to be heavily based on the mobile game. Once again, we aren’t here for the game. Rather, we are here for the album, so let’s have a closer look.

Raid Of Dream Album Cover

2. Déjà Vu (데자부) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Déjà Vu. (10/10)

3. The Curse of the Spider (거미의 저주) – When I first saw the title of the song, I thought back to the spider that played a part in their initial four-part music video series that they debuted with. And I think the song is rather fitting for that era of Dream Catcher and Dream Catcher as a whole. It has that dance rock vibe that we associate with the girls and the intensity for the song is great. I also liked the rush of energy that the song gives. The vocal work was pretty good. I did like how Dami turned back to rapping but I think she could have gotten a much better punchy sequence, which was noticeably missing from the title track of this album and present all of their title tracks thus far. (8/10)

4. Silent NightSilent Night is no Christmas carol. Instead, it furthers the group’s venture into EDM in a very abstract and aesthetically pleasing way. The track is in no way silent, as suggested by the title. The closest to ‘silence’ that we get in this track is the chorus, which is lowkey one of the best choruses I have ever heard. It is subtly intense, and it made the song very ear-catching. I find the melody catchy and I can’t stop humming the tune once the song ends. The actual EDM kicks in at the end of the track, acting out as the outro piece for the track. It is interesting to place to add the change-up in the track. But collectively, I think it makes the song very appealing and furthers that ear-catching business that they had going in the track already. I think, apart from the title track, this is one of their best tracks ever. (10/10)

5. Polaris (북극성) – The album ends with a ballad. And it is a pretty good track. Very melodic and has a nice classically driven instrumental. All the members sing in this track and their display of vocals was nice. And while it was a soothing piece of put on if you want to relax (or take a break from Dream Catcher’s intensity), I find the song doesn’t really tie the album together as nicely as one would expect. This might be the case because it was placed after Silent Night (and I am still immersed in the preceding track) or that the ballad just didn’t exactly blow me away. But I feel like there should have been one more song to the album, following this album. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

Raid Of Dream Teaser Image