As you may be already aware, I am currently on a break from the blog to spend some time with family and friends this Christmas. But this does not mean I can’t celebrate the holidays with you, as well. And I do this by sharing a whole bunch of festive themed songs that our favourite and beloved KPOP artists (and companies) have released this year.
Again, I wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays full of joy, laughter and the company of family and friends. If today is business as usual for you or you don’t celebrate the festive season, then I hope today goes seamlessly for you.
And given that from tomorrow we are in an awkward limbo state between Christmas and New Years (honestly, what do we do in during this period?), I will also wish everyone a happy new year.
A new week means new comebacks. And starting off this week is EPEX, with Anthem of Teen Spirit. This is the title of the group’s latest comeback and the title track of the group’s third mini-album, Prelude of Anxiety Chapter 1. ’21st Century Boys’. Anthem of Teen Spirit comes after the group’s debut with Lock Down and Do 4 Me comeback, all of which occurred last year.
Anthem of Teen Spirit has all the hallmarks for a standard intense dance track. The key word in that statement is ‘standard’. Unfortunately, for the most part Anthem of Teen Spirit was pretty generic. You have to get through the first verse and first half of the first run of the chorus to get to anything worth talking about. And since this was the case, Anthem of Teen Spirit was a bit bland from the start. The opening verse didn’t have much going on, and the first half of the chorus has that stock standard shouty nature to make the song seem edgy. The hooks here are pretty shoddy here, as well (i.e. ‘Click, Clack, Brrr, Like‘). The instrumentals were also pretty generic and doesn’t score points for innovation. However, Anthem of Teen Spirit takes a turn from the second half of the chorus onwards. The ‘Brom pom pom‘ caught my attention for fully encapsulating that intended intense nature of the song within a span of two seconds. Highly effective, if you ask me. It doesn’t make up for the start, but it is a sign that Anthem of Teen Spirit is heading the right direction. The chorus is then followed up with some really fast rapping that left me impressed. Powerful rapping also featured in the bridge, and my impressed thoughts extended to the bridge as well. I also like how the instrumental intensifies in the bridge as well, creating a nice and satisfying peak to the song. Overall, the generic nature of Anthem of Teen Spirit outweighs the positive aspects of the song. But it does get better as it progresses along.
My thoughts on the music video also follow a similar pattern. The video is dark, suitable for an edgy sound. But this one is just dark. You are pretty much thrown into this world without any context. Some of the members are being hunted by other members, but for an unknown reason. My best guess is that this whole video is based on a fight between two members. But it is unclear. Ambiguity is good in some case, but not when it leaves question marks throughout the whole video about what is going on. I also question the dance set with the diamond fixture, but with a more curious demeanour. Its intriguing and could be a symbol that represents one side of the members. But once again, it is unclear. However, it does look cool.
The choreography portion of this comeback fairs the best. I liked how powerful and intense the stage looked, and it also helped translate to a better listening experience. The moves during the ‘Brom pom pom‘ hook was cool and best part of the performance.
Song – 6.5/10 Music Video – 6/10 Performance – 7.5/10 Overall Rating – 6.6/10
I start off this week with a review for another track which I should have reviewed sooner. This particular track, Do 4 Me by EPEX, was released on 26 October 2020 and is the very first comeback by the new male group who debuted earlier this year with Lock Down. Do 4 Me is featured as the title track on the group’s second mini-album, Bipolar Pt.2: Prelude of Love, which also dropped on the same day.
Swapping out the hip-hop dance track style their debut had gone for, Do 4 Me opts for a much different vibe – a funkier, colourful, vibrant dance track with a lot more personality and individual style. I quite enjoyed this change up and found it to be fun and lighthearted. So out of the gate, Do 4 Me is already ‘speaking to me’, as one would say. What makes Do 4 Me a bit more interesting is the way it is described. Their company has described the song as a homage to ‘Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust, INXS’s Need You Tonight, and Dua Lipa’s Break My Heart‘. While I am no music expert, I kind of get hints of the three songs in Do 4 Me. Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust comes through quite faintly the Do 4 Me‘s main hook (i.e. the line ‘So what are you going to do for me‘). It gives off a similar vibe and I feel the melody of the line to be somewhat similar. INXS’s Need You Tonight influence seems to come through the guitar work, with the heavy strumming present throughout both songs which both sound somewhat similar. To me, Dua Lipa’s Break My Heart is most prominent, with it influencing Do 4 Me‘s retro instrumentation style and the first line that opens the choruses. To be honest, the idea of the three songs in one is a bit out there and left field for me (especially with Dua Lipa’s song being part of the mix), but it somehow works extremely well. I liked how defined everything felt in this song, making it heftier and more pronounced. What EPEX do exceptionally well, in addition to the top three influences, was make themselves prominent over the instrumentation. Their vocals and raps were pretty strong and well-showcased throughout, adding additional boldness and defintion to the song. Overall, Do 4 Me comes off as a unique song, stands out in the crowd, and is ideal as a follow up song following a debut.
The song is about the feelings of falling in love for the first time. And the music video showcases that well through the group scenes, where the members look like they are crowding around a phone screen to compose the perfect text message to their crush. I am unsure if their solo shots adds to that. but they appeared to have a fun vibe that works well with the song. Elsewhere, I quite enjoyed the video – from the vibrancy that the colours offer, to the cool post-productions and transitions, to the camera shots. The only aspect that I disliked was the elementary boarding school boy outfits they wore (i.e. white/cream jumpers and black shorts). I get that they are trying to incorporate the idea of ‘first love’ into every aspect of the comeback (in this case – when does one experience their first love). But I found that it made them look way too young and the style just doesn’t suit them.
On stage, they are dressed much better and look like high school students, which is a better image for them. No specific moves stand out for me, but I enjoyed the bounce in the choreography and felt that it works extremely well with the song.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 7.5/10 Overall Rating – 8.4/10
Yesterday, I focused on the female rookie groups that debuted this year. Today, the focus will shift to male groups. And there is a fair bit to cover in this space. First up is EPEX, the latest male group to debut under C9 Entertainment, which is also the home of CIX. They are made up of 8 members in total, including Wish, Keum, MU, A-Min, Baekseung, Ayden, Yewang and Jeff. ‘EPEX’ stands for eight apexes, with each member representing an apex. They debuted more ‘recently’ at the start of June with their single Lock Down and the mini-album, BIPOLAR Pt.1 : 불안의 서 (BIPOLAR Pt.1: Prelude of Anxiety).
To me, I find that EPEX’s Lock Down gives me P1Harmony’s Scared vibes. However, the more recent release (i.e. Lock Down) is plainer and doesn’t really have that memorable factor that Scared had via its instrumentation. This doesn’t mean it is a bad song. EPEX’s debut single still manages to hit the mark as a hip-hop dance track, heavy with its sound that helps deliver an edgy sound. This also makes way for the showcase of rapping abilities, which (based on this release) appears to be EPEX’s greatest asset (I think over half of the members were rappers in this song). I just really like how the rappers of the group are continuously coming at you with their delivery, particularly in the first verse. Definitely a great first impression to make. Furthermore, the energy they channel is relentless. One of the rappers (Baeksung I think is his name – sorry if I got it wrong) also brought a wow factor to the song with his fast rapping. It was brief, but it is an attraction in this song. While it isn’t the first time we have heard such delivery before, it is also amazing and literally breathtaking to hear someone rap so quickly. While the rappers were showcased, the vocalists of the group also did a good job. As Lock Down opted for hip-hop dance influences, they really didn’t have much opportunity to show their abilities. However, with the parts they did have, they made really good use of their parts. Props to the members who partook in the bridge of the song. Just that part alone tells me that there is some unexplored talents in this group that I hope they bring forward in future releases. I also liked how the bridge slowed down the song, and brought in classical and music-box-like instrumentation. It was bit of a change, but it made the final chorus that bit more impactful. Talking about the chorus, it is a very forgettable sequence and wished it was more dynamic. Their shouty style was monotonous and just didn’t appeal to me. Maybe a chorus hook with a powerful melody could have done the job. For me, the best hook in the song ended up being the whispering of ‘Everybody Lock Down‘. Effective and got my attention. But as a whole, Lock Down is a good first step for EPEX.
I am not entirely sure what is going on in the video. Based on the lyrics, the song is all about the bad side of the social media. I guess they liken social media to locking down (as we have been doing since last year due to the pandemic). The isolation caused by social media being a prime example of this. Based on this interpretation, I figure the members are going to the extreme to get back control of their lives. They trade out the ‘million dollar hoodie and padding’ for bombs to make their statement against the evils of social media. Not sure if my interpretation is right, though that is what I have managed to make sense of the video and lyrics. Aside from the ‘story’, I liked the moodiness of the video and the use of the abandoned buildings to heighten that edgy feel. In addition to that, I think their main choreography set (i.e. the one in the thumbnail for their YouTube video) was nicely designed and fitted in with the rest of the industrial look of the video.
I really like how the choreography for this comeback was continuous and never really stopped. It really fitted in with the song’s aggressive nature. Even during the slower moments of the song, the members continued moving. I particularly enjoyed the bridge of the performance, with the members following and pausing in various positions to show pain, before regrouping to do that turn when the music box-like sequence and ending up in that kneeling position before the final sequence.
Song – 7/10 Music Video – 7/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.2/10