Here we go, another International Song Reviews post. This time around, the gap between this and the preceding post is a tad shorter than last time – 6 weeks. Still not great, but definitely better than 6 weeks. I definitely want to increase the frequency of these posts to make sure I can catch up on these international songs, but so much to review at the same time. This post will focus on more 2022 Japanese pop releases, this time from DRIPPIN, Rocket Punch, Kep1er & Kang Daniel – three of which are debut singles.
SO GOOD – DRIPPIN
Release Date: 18 May 2022
Album: SO GOOD (1st Japanese Single Album)
DRIPPIN made their Japanese debut back in May 2022 with the single SO GOOD. Both the song and music video is a 180 degree change in direction, in comparison to their Korean releases (which are a lot darker and intense). From the get-go, SO GOOD is a lot perkier, colourful and brighter in all regards. It is definitely nice to see DRIPPIN in this lighting. Unfortunately, the entire package (i.e. song, music video and choreography) doesn’t offer much or anything new. It is pretty much a standard pop release that conforms to the Japanese market where colour and brightness is a major player. The instrumental for the most part is pretty generic. Even the whistles, which I usually find to be a nice touch in other songs, is a bit bland here. I did like the combination of the electric guitars and drumming we get at the very start of the song, and wish SO GOOD explored more of this in its body. The more dramatic marching drum and zippy synth combination we get in the dance break does help refresh the instrumental, and is another area in which the producers could have explored with the group. The hooks in SO GOOD were also pretty lacking. On the more positive side, SO GOOD does feature solid vocals and some strong rapping which helped drive the song forward. As for the music video, the members come off happier and cutesy in the colourful sets and bright lighting. I did like how the music video toned down the lighting/colour and opted for a moodier affair when it came to the dance break. As for the choreography, nothing stands out much here.
Overall Rating – 6.6/10
Fiore – Rocket Punch
Release Date: 29 June 2022
Album: Doki Doki Love (1st Japanese Studio Album)
Following their Japanese debut with Bubble Up! back in 2021, Rocket Punch returned last year with two Japanese singles. The first of the two is Fiore, which is another great single from the group. I practically enjoyed everything in Fiore. The verses came off as a pretty, thanks to the light melody and the retro touch the synth backing had. I enjoyed how clean and catchy the chorus felt. It was a simple yet effective centrepiece of this song that I remember enjoying. I also liked the squawky synth used as part of the dance break of Fiore. It was interesting and different, and stood out as a result. I liked that the producers held back on it and kept it contained, as it easily could have been too much and too weird for the song. Fiore also had a solid showing of vocals and rapping. As I said, a lot to like in this track. The music video emphasised the pretty side of the track, with the members performing and posing in a set that was styled with an abundance of flowers or outside in the beautiful nature of green fields and a forest. The members themselves also looked cute in their outdoor outfits and stunning in their red dresses. Similar comments on prettiness and cuteness can also be made about the choreography can also be made.
Overall Rating – 7.8/10
Wing Wing – Kep1er
Release Date: 3 August 2022
Album: FLY-UP (1st Japanese Single Album)
Out of the four songs featured on this post, Kep1er’s debut Japanese single Wing Wing is the weakest of the bunch. I was not much of a fan of Wing Wing when it was released and that sentiment still stands. But let’s begin with the positives – i.e. two aspects of Wing Wing that I actually enjoyed. The first was the pre-choruses, which was a great showcase of vocals and nice ramp up to the choruses. The second was the instrumentation, which had a nice vibrant and dynamic feel to it. The rest of the song doesn’t follow through. The verses were quite boring, but I appreciate the efforts the rapping took to help offset that with its energy. The choruses were questionable, and I blame the hooks for leaving this impression on me. The opening hook to the chorus became annoying very fast. Then came a solid first half of the chorus which also had some robust energy. But that soon became overwhelmingly empty thanks to the unnecessary dragging out of the song’s main hook. As for the music video, it was fairly generic There was some good post-production effects in the video. If anything, I think the cutesiness could have been dialed back. There were some things going on in the background that felt distracting. As for the choreography, Wing Wing‘s definitely fairs better than the song itself. I liked the energy that comes off the dance moves and how it also manages to show off Kep1er’s performance skills at the same time. It is a pity that the song is unable to do that.
Overall Rating – 6.4/10
Joy Ride – Kang Daniel
Release Date: 5 October 2022
Album: Joy Ride (Japanese debut mini-album)
The final song for this particular post is KANG DANIEL’s solo debut Japanese single, Joy Ride. Of the four songs in this post, Joy Ride is definitely the strongest of the bunch. The biggest drawing point of the sng is that it feels fitting for Kang Daniel and his discography. I liked the smooth and light approach to pop rock that Joy Ride took. The genre doesn’t come on strong until we get to the choruses, where it definitely makes an impression with its start-stop beginning. Kang Daniel’s vocals are definitely a highlight in this song, keeping the track light. And they also brought a smile to my face. I also liked his background high note at the end of the song (I am presuming it belongs to Kang Daniel). The catchiest moment of Joy Ride comes during the post-chorus moment, and this definitely makes the song ring in my head even after it finishes. The introduction of synths in the bridge as an instrumental break was quite interesting. As for the music video, it shows Kang Daniel having fun and enjoying life with friends, which I guess he likens to the thrill and fun of a joy ride. While we don’t see any choreography for this particular release in the music video, we are treated to the dance practice. If you hadn’t notice, the song features some car sound effects, such as car keys jangling, the engine starting and the beeps you hear when a car unlocks (or locks). In this choreography, the soloist and the dancers uses this to their advantage, incorporating car movements into part of the choreography. The dancers also start off in a car’s windshield formation with Kang Daniel as the driver. As for the rest, we get an urban hip-hop style which is definitely Kang Daniel’s style overall.
Overall Rating – 8.6/10