[Review] Rover – KAI (EXO)

KAI from EXO continues his solo ventures this week with his second solo comeback since debuting as a solo artist back in 2020. The new single and mini-album is titled Rover, and the new release follows the likes of Mmmh and Peaches.

First listen into Rover, and I am happy to say that I am digging the new song. To me, Rover felt more representative of KAI as a performer and would have served as a more logical comeback single following Mmmh. Peaches does have it is own charm and unique profile, but Rover really does a better job at highlighting the potential KAI has as a solo artist. His vocals in the verses were so immaculate and creates a really great opening to the dance pop song. Even from the first verse, you can sense the subtle intensity that is building in the background. This helps makes the Rover‘s choruses more impactful, with the stomping beat, the subtle exotic tinge that comes through the instrumentation via the wind instrument in the background and the sparse use of those twinkling effects creating a really strong backing to Rover‘s centrepice. The hooks here are so extremely catchy. Simple repetition is done quite often, but it sounds so effective in Rover. KAI follows up the first chorus with some deep speak-rap that intertwines really well into the song. The bridge shows KAI’s most impressive vocal sequence in the song. with particular mention to that high note that felt very needed after that bridge. And to close out Rover, some deep and seductive rapping from KAI extends out Rover just that bit more to give us another run at the catchy and addictive simplicity that is Rover‘s chorus. Overall, I think it is safe to say that I am impressed with Rover and KAI himself in this comeback.

When it comes to the music video, I am a bit confused over the concept of the music video. There is a plot line within the video, as the introduction shows KAI making a fake identification card, which presents to the lady behind the window. But she is also the owner of the hair shop that KAI works in. But asides from the confusing concept/plotline, there are a few good elements to the video. The aesthetic created with KAI, the ballerinas and the masked dancers was very cool. The contrast here was definitely something that stood out to me. Also, while we are talking about KAI, his sexy looks were very much on display on this video and he looked extremely fashionable throughout with this many different looks. His most iconic one from this music video has to be the one where he wears the bandana like how the older ladies might wear when they go outside.

Again, KAI does not disappoint with his performance of Rover. The routine for the chorus was very cool, especially with the stomping that starts the segment off. Body waves and rolls makes prominent feature in the choreography as well. What also really helps make KAI such a great performer and this routine more charming are his facial expressions, which make everything a lot more alluring and worth watching.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Album Review] Brand New (1st Mini Album) – XIUMIN (EXO)

XIUMIN’s solo debut mini-album, Brand New, is the next album to be reviewed on the blog. It was released back at the end of September 2022 and features the title track of the same name. In addition to Brand New (this time I am referring to the song), the mini-album also contains four other tracks – one of which features past collaborator MARK from NCT. Overall, it is a decent mini-album that helped create a solid solo debut for XIUMIN. Not exactly the most mind-blowing release ever, but it does do enough to get me interested in XIUMIN’s solo potential. Aside from solo potential which raises hopes for a future solo comeback, XIUMIN is expected to return as part of EXO alongside his bandmates in an announced Spring 2023 comeback. So there is a bit more to be excited about. But for now, here are my thoughts on Brand New.

Brand New Album Cover

1. Brand New (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Brand New. (8/10)

2. Feedback – That main pulsing electronic synth was pretty jarring and overtime has gotten annoying for me. But aside from that synth, Feedback is neat electronic dance pop track. I liked how XIUMIN’s vocals embraced the choppy melody (which arose from the choppy nature of the use of the synth in the instrumentation), and how the melody smoothened out for the pre-choruses and choruses. The backing vocals and samples also added a cool backing element to the song. (7/10)

3. How We Do (ft. Mark from NCT) – Last time we heard XIUMIN and Mark together was through their SM STATION collaboration Young & Free. They come together once again through How We Do, another dance track. This time, however, the song delves into 90s territory with its mix of hip-hop and R&B. XIUMIN brings the R&B to the song with his vocal works, while Mark’s raps encroach hip-hop territory. For the most part, How We Do is a decent track. My biggest complaint comes during the second verse, where XIUMIN’s vocals are autotuned. I didn’t think this unfitting feature of the song was necessary. (8/10)

4. Love Letter (민들레) – Moving away from the dance tracks, we get the album’s mandatory ballad through Love Letter. It is one that features a swaying melody that I enjoy when it comes to ballads. Piano and violin, along with soft percussion, makes up the instrumentation for this ballad. Rather typical, but it was a beautiful one nonetheless. I really enjoyed XIUMIN’s softer vocals in this one, which is stilling at times and brings forth a delicate tone that compliments the instrumentation so wonderfully. (9/10)

5. Serenity – Closing XIUMIN’s debut album is a lovely soft pop track that I would recommend to anyone. Every time I listen to Serenity, I find myself smiling to the track. It is one of the reasons to why I pick this song as my favourite from the mini-album. Serenity features acoustics, uplifting drums and soothing vocals from XIUMIN – all of which comes together to create such warm, inviting and inspiring song and end to the release. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

Brand New Teaser Image

[Review] Last Scene – CHEN (EXO)

For this next review, I will focus on a new release from this week, just so I don’t fall behind with the new releases whilst also reviewing past songs. But despite it being only one day into the working week, there are already quite a large number of songs to choose from to review. In the end, I have settled on CHEN’s Last Scene as the first release of the week review. Last Scene is also the title of his third mini-album and his first solo release since Shall We? in 2019. Originally scheduled for a 31 October release, Last Scene was postponed due to the tragic events in Itaewon during the Halloween weekend.

It comes as no surprise to me that CHEN once again delves into the ballad genre with Last Scene. And I love that he embraces the ballad genre each time. Ballads tend to get a bad rap, just because many find them boring, empty and commonly associated with a sad emotion (and no one likes being sad!). But I like them for a number of reasons. I won’t get into the specifics to why I personally like ballads as this would be a tangent from the review. But put simply, I love the idea of getting lost and taken away by ballads (and other slower types of songs). And I feel that CHEN and Last Scene does just that wonderfully. Listening to Last Scene, you can definitely hear how much of the balladry style showcases his vocals the best. The husky and raspy tones behind his vocals give the ballad such a mesmerizing element at the start, while his vocals just effortlessly drifted me away as the song progresses. The classical orchestral backing to Last Scene was just so enchanting and felt quite flowy. The violins were my favourite part of the instrumental and they really captivate my attention whilst listening to the song. However, the best part of Last Scene to me is the way in which CHEN’s vocals soared and followed the trajectory as the instrumental builds. It just gives body and intensity to Last Scene, and just allows the song to speak volumes.

The music video features Park Hae Soo, who for most of the video, is behind the wheel. Combined with CHEN’s vocals and the song itself, you could feel the heartbreaking emotion behind his facial expressions quite prominently. Between shots of Park Hae Soo driving, we see footage of his partner (for this music video) wandering on the beach and very much in an emotional state as well. Based on the lyrics, we can tell that the pair had broken up. Park Hae Soo does make the decision to return to the same beach, presumably to hopefully rekindle with his partner. But once he gets there, she is no longer there. This goes back to the idea behind the title of the song, that their last scene together had already passed and now everything is to fade away.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.6/10

[Review] Brand New – XIUMIN (EXO)

As you might have noticed, I had not posted any reviews for any releases from last week. So this week will be an extra big week to catch up on those outstanding releases from last week on top of reviews for the new releases this week. Only then will I be able to review the even more outstanding releases that have been stockpiling. First up is XIUMIN with his solo comeback with the Brand New single and his solo debut mini-album that shares the same name as the lead single.

Whilst XIUMIN’s solo ventures have primarily come from OSTs or SM Station releases (i.e. Young & Free with Mark from NCT and You), Brand New encroaches onto new territory for the relatively new solo artist. Brand New is super upbeat dance track, kicking right into gear from the very start with the catchy and vibrant chorus chant that features prominently throughout the single. I like how this same chant brings forth old school vibes in the song and adds a energetic dimension to Brand New. The lyrical component of the chant is a bit questionable for what Brand New is trying to achieve in terms of the song’s meaning, but I like it more for the addition of much needed oomph to the song. XIUMIN was in charge of the rest of the vocals in the verses. And his vocals sounded so pleasant throughout Brand New. I did wish the melody was a bit heftier and had more body, just so that XIUMIN himself could have stood out more prominently. Alternatively, the bass could have been turned down a fair bit. It drowned out XIUMIN a certain parts of Brand New. But overall, Brand New is a fun and cool track at times, but also pleasant and soothing during other times.

Based on the song’s description, what I could get could out of the lyrics and the different scenes throughout the music video, my guess is that the video depicts the creation and delivery of a present that is XIUMIN himself. But apart from that, it is a fair video to watch and accompany the likes of Brand New. Nothing too mind-blowing, but not terrible in anyway where it deters me from watching it. It also has been a while since we have seen XIUMIN in the public eye (at least it has been a while for me), so it is great to see him again (and be reminded of his stunning visuals).

The choreography was pretty good. I really enjoyed the chorus of the routine, when the energy of the song and routine is at its peak. But I also enjoyed the smoothness of the dance choreography during the verses, as well.

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

[Album Review] Grey Suit (2nd Mini Album) – SUHO (EXO)

As alluded earlier this week through my review of Hurdle, I will be reviewing SUHO’s most recent album, his first release since completing his military enlistment last year. Titled Grey Suit, this is SUHO’s second mini-album and was released back in March of this year. Alongside Hurdle, the mini-album also features the title track Grey Suit (links below) and four other side tracks.

It was extremely hard for me to pick a favourite song from this mini-album. All the songs on Grey Suit were top notch and very strong contenders for perfect rankings. I only ended up handing out one perfect 10/10, after considering the songs side by side. But Grey Suit probably has to be one of the best sounding albums I have reviewed thus far this year. Continue reading to see more of my thoughts on the album.

Grey Suit Album Cover

1. Morning Star – I really liked the way the song opened up and eased us in. It was a fantastic way to open up the album and left such a strong impression on me. I really enjoyed the laidback and softer nature of this rock style. Despite the softer tone, however, Morning Star still proves to be a jam with its upbeat and energetic nature, making the song perfect for a road trip. SUHO’s vocals are so light and delicate in this song, complementing the instrumental. Morning Star starts the album on an extremely positive note. (10/10)

2. Grey Suit (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Grey Suit. (8/10)

3. HurdleClick here to read the full review for Hurdle. (9/10)

4. Decanting – SUHO continues to impress with Decanting. But this time around, SUHO revisits the slow side of the album with a ballad and R&B hybrid. I love the slow nature of this song, as it feels very sensual and deliberate. The electric guitar riffs that we get in Decanting helps drive this. SUHO himself sounds loaded with emotion, but maintains a tone that compliments the sensual nature of this song. Decanting doesn’t jump out at me straight away as a standout track, but it definitely builds towards being a strong track. (8/10)

5. Bear Hug (이리 溫)Bear Hug is a ballad. And this ballad really put SUHO’s vocals into the limelight. His vocals really soar in Bear Hug to impressive levels that we don’t see elsewhere on this album (or within his parts in EXO’s works). The combination between the slow rock and classical instrumentation was very beautiful and sets a stunning backdrop to the song. I love the swayable melody of this song, as it is very drifty and captivating. (8.5/10)

6. Moment (75분의 1초) – Final song on the album is Moment, a rock ballad that feels like an appropriate closer for this mini-album. Again, great vocalization from SUHO himself. And the instrumental was quite pleasant and neat, for the most part. But this does change towards the end of the album. Moment definitely peaks at the end and this turns the background into a stunning piece. The violins in this section really shocked me (in a good way), while there was also some clashing of cymbals. All of this heightened the ending of the song, finishing the album on a very positive note. (9/10)

Overall Album Review – 8.8/10

Grey Suit Teaser Image

[Review] Grey Suit – Suho (EXO)

Starting off this week is SUHO, who makes his long awaited solo comeback with Grey Suit, the title of both his second mini-album and title track. This is the first time we are hearing from SUHO after his solo debut back in 2020 with Let’s Love and Self Portrait. Following his solo debut, SUHO enlisted into the Korean military and recently completed his civic duty back in February of this year.

I quite enjoyed Grey Suit as it is. The slow and soft rock style of the song is totally up my alley. And I found that there was a lot to like about the song. Within Grey Suit, SUHO showcases divine yet emotionally loaded vocals that are just so captivating. Within the delivery of Grey Suit, I found that SUHO brought a hint of huskiness to some parts of the song to give it a really welcoming texture, while there was also a presence of a higher tone during the bridge and chorus that sounds charming and heavenly. All of which helped emphasise and reiterate the pleasant side of Grey Suit. The melodies in which SUHO brings to life in Grey Suit are drifty and gives off that swaying effect I commonly refer to when I review ballads. As for the instrumentation, I liked how it clearly differentiates the different parts of the song by amping up the background and playing with the intensity. It is quite appreciable, especially when there are a number of recently released songs that blur the different parts together (in some case, too much). I guess it is the small things that ultimately win me over. I did feel that Grey Suit could have been a bit more adventurous. I did notice that there was some backing ‘spoken words’ that resembled a bit of rapping for me. I think this could have brought an interesting dynamic to the song and given Grey Suit a bit of uniqueness. But overall, a nice track.

There really isn’t much going on other than SUHO feeling grey throughout the entire video, which is the whole point of the song. I quite liked the idea of the closet full of grey suits. Your outfit is where you would bring out the colour from within you (i.e. your mood, your personality etc.), and grey is usually a used to depict emptiness and plainness. To reiterate the emotions he is feeling, I noticed that the colours are glitchy around SUHO at first, to represent the conflicting emotions. But this also suggests that it is something that can be changed and it is most likely one’s outlook is preventing from experiencing the colours again. At the end of the video, when SUHO escapes the wardrobe, you will notice the colour is consistent and confirms that he had moved on from post-breakup emotions. I also like how they managed to also bring the band into the video, which works extremely well with the rock sound.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] When Dawn Comes Again – Colde ft. Baekhyun (EXO)

When Dawn Comes Again is nominated for Best R&B Song, while Baekhyun’s solo release, Bambi, is also nominated for Best R&B Song. Support either When Dawn Comes Again or Bambi in the Best R&B Song category by clicking here to vote!

The final song from the Best R&B Song genre which I have yet to review is When Dawn Comes Again, which is a collaborative single between Colde and Baekhyun (from EXO). This was released back in July of this year. Since then, Colde has gone on to release another collaborative single, New Vision, with Kim Soyeon (from (G)I-DLE), and Baekhyun has enlisted into the military and is also competing against When Dawn Comes Again with his own solo single, Bambi.

Both Colde and Baekhyun are big name artists that recur in the Korean R&B industry, so there are high expectations for When Dawn Comes Again. And I feel that When Dawn Comes Again hits those expectations with little effort from both Colde and Baekhyun. The song has this mellow R&B instrumentation, made up of pretty typical instrumentation for the most part like piano and electric guitars. While the other two songs I have reviewed for the Best R&B Song category have really pushed out their use of guitar, I find that When Dawn Comes Again doesn’t really do that and keeps it ‘as part of the background’. There isn’t anything wrong with this direction, given that the song still sounds good. As mentioned a moment ago, both Colde and Baekhyun sound really good in When Dawn Comes Again, with this being a major drawing point to the song. Both artists had a nice huskiness and raspiness to their voice, with Baekhyun delivering it at a higher tone. The soft and swaying melody of the song also makes When Dawn Comes Again super appealing. I know that the song has a bit of emotional behind it, but I also like the soothing nature of the song. Altogether, this all made When Dawn Comes Again so enjoyable to listen and ultimately earned it a nomination for the Best R&B Song of the year.

The music video features Nam Yoon Su, who is an up and coming actor in Korea. If you really want to see more of him, I highly recommend the K-Drama Extracurricular. He is super good in it. Anyhow, the music video for When Dawn Come Again features Nam Yoon Su wandering the streets of an empty city awaiting for sunshine in some form to come again. The sunshine in this case is a metaphor for a partner, which Colde and Baekhyun sing about in the song. To be honest, the music video is very typical, a bit dry and doesn’t offer much. It fits the tone of the song, but I would say it is the type of video you need to watch just once and you would have gotten the full grasp of it.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 6/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Album Review] Peaches (2nd Mini Album) – Kai (EXO)

Kai is nominated for Best New Male Soloist and Mmmh is nominated for Best Male Choreography – Solo in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. His group, EXO, and some of his fellow members are also nominated in a number of categories. Support Kai and EXO by clicking here to vote today!

Next up on the album review front is Kai’s latest mini-album, Peaches, which was released on November 30, exactly a year from his solo debut with Mmmh and Kai (the debut mini-album). The new mini-album is lead by the title track Peaches, and also features another five new tracks from Kai. You might notice that this is a newer release, compared to the albums in which I have recently reviewed (which were released a few months back). I have decided to fast track a few newer albums this month, so that I am not pushing too many of the ‘current’ albums out many months later, which might be the case due to the Christmas break. So without further ado, here is my album review for Peaches. (PS. Don’t worry, I am still writing up reviews for albums released a while back that I haven’t been able to review just yet!).

Peaches Album Cover

1. Peaches (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Peaches. (7/10)

2. VanillaVanilla is a very aesthetic song. Its minimalistic nature was very intriguing and you might pass the song off as a bare song. But I recommend you give Vanilla a detailed listen as it is a very charming song. I found the song to be quite peaceful and sensual at the same time. The latter obviously being something that is right up Kai’s wheelhouse. Peaceful doesn’t seem to be something I associate with Kai, and so Vanilla comes off as a pleasant surprise for me. Delving into the song’s elements, Vanilla is quite interesting, given that the atmospheric instrumentation was actually percussion. But it was extremely subtle, but brought enough texture to the song to prevent it going into the ‘boring’ pile. The same can be said with the autotuned vocals, which was quite soft and so you barely noticed a disruption of Vanilla’s flow. The rest of his vocals follow the same softness, but also showcased some of Kai’s skills, and Vanilla’s simply repetitive hook was quite catchy. (8/10)

3. Domino – Prepare for a change in direction when you check out Domino. The peacefulness is out and is replaced with heavy bass and beat that would fit easily into a club setting. This is the style that I would associate more with Kai. I really like his deep tone during the chorus, and it proves to be a very memorable element of Domino. However, I do think Domino is very consistent throughout, and I wished the song changed it up a bit towards the end or introduced something to the song to cut the consistency. I can see myself getting tired of the song if it is played on a loop or I replay it too many times. (7.5/10)

4. Come InCome In kicks up the album a notch in terms of its volume. Everything in Come In is a lot louder and vibrant, compared to the song that preceded it. I like the pulsing beat, the bass and the textural synths used in this song. It all comes together to create quite a dynamic background. The chorus, in particular, definitely captures that dynamism really well. While Kai’s vocals were more typical in this song, I still found its pairing with Come In’s instrumentation to be captivating and a worthwhile listen. (8/10)

5. To Be Honest – The album’s most upbeat track comes in the form of To Be Honest. It instantly became a highlight for me as it made me dance along (in my chair) the first time I heard it. And while such feelings tend to rub off over time, that urge to dance has remained during subsequent listens. To Be Honest is a pretty straight forward song, with nothing special in the pop instrumentation or Kai’s vocals. But being straight forward isn’t necessarily a bad thing al the time, and I feel that To Be Honest proves that this time around. (9/10)

6. Blue – The album tones it back down for its final song. Blue is a R&B song, and once again, is pretty straight forward. I really like his vocals in this track, simply because it was extremely satisfying to hear him with such melodies and ad-libs. The instrumentation was pretty much typical for a R&B song, but I did note that I liked its breezy exterior. Overall, a decent ender to the album that I think sums up the album well. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

Peaches Teaser Image

[Review] Peaches – Kai (EXO)

Both Kai and D.O are nominated for Best New Male Soloist, and Mmmh is nominated for Best Male Choreography (Solo). EXO is nominated for Best Return to Industry, while fellow member Baekhyun nominated in a bunch of other categories. Support either Kai or D.O, Mmmh, Baekhyun and the rest of EXO in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards by clicking here.

Exactly a year since his solo debut with Mmmh, Kai returned with Peaches on the Tuesday that had just passed, the title of both his latest lead single and second mini-album. Since his solo debut, we haven’t seen too much of Kai aside from the return of EXO with Don’t Fight The Feeling earlier this year after a period of two years, and a few television variety shows.

The one aspect that really jumps out at me from Peaches is how aesthetically pretty the song is. If there is anything to get out of this song, it is simply that. This comes about in Peaches thanks to two main elements, the instrumentals and vocals. Firstly, the instrumental of this R&B track takes on this lo-fi type of backbone, with percussive elements added on top. Both the lo-fi and percussive elements were light on. Together, they created a pretty airy, spacious but alluring instrumental for the song. Secondly, Kai’s singing was light on (as well) and soft, fitting for this style of R&B. Peaches is very much vocal orient, and seems to be more straightforward, compared to the likes of Mmmh where Kai was a lot more sensual and teasing with his vocals. But while it sounds like Peaches is all good, I also think the pretty aesthetics was also Peaches downfall. To me, the song focused too much on on being aesthetic and light that it pretty much neglected everything else. Sure, Peaches may be calming and soothing, but I want more from the song. For example, the hooks and melodies in Peaches was nowhere near ‘memorable territory’, and I feel this is the reason to why I am not being pulled back into the song (compared other releases that are dominating the airwaves). Another aspect of the song that I am not entirely sure of is his singing. I mentioned that it is lightweight above and fitting for the song’s style, but I did not mention whether I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I find that there is this monotone nature to his vocals as well, and that it dries out the song for me. There is just nothing to it. And because of this, I personally think would listen to Peaches a couple more times in the near future, but I don’t find myself compelled to remembering its existence.

When you think of the colour of Peaches, you think of their pinkish yellow cream tone. And I think this entire video was shot with that in mind. They tried to change it by introducing baby blues and light greys, but everything just comes off as ‘peachy colour’ for this video. It is good in the sense that it relates back to the title, but also not so good in the sense that it dulls the video. Aside from colours, Kai looks amazing throughout this video. His outfits seem to be influenced by different time periods and cultures. It isn’t the sexy concept that we remember from Mmmh, but it is within that direction nonetheless.

The pretty aesthetics also extend to the choreography component of this comeback. You can definitely get that sense during the start of the choreography and during the slower moments of the routine. What I liked about the choreography was that there was a balance between slow and sharp. It definitely works well with the lo-fi backing and the more upbeat percussive elements. As a result, the choreography comes off as refined and elegant, which is a side I like to see more from Kai. Also, there is still that sensual energy coming off the choreography, but it is not in your face this time around.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Album Review] Empathy (1st Mini Album) – D.O (EXO)

Half a year after he had left the military after fulfilling his civic duty, D.O unveiled his first solo mini-album since debut as part of EXO back in 2012. The album is titled Empathy, and features the title track Rose. It was released back at the end of July of this year, and features a heavy presence of acoustics throughout all of his songs. On top of that, D.O also featured an English version of the title track and a Spanish version of It’s Love, which is a side track off this album, as well. In terms of other work, D.O has launched back into acting with a confirmed role in an upcoming drama and also participated in EXO’s most recent, Don’t Fight The Feeling (both album and title track).

Empathy Album Cover

1. Rose (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Rose. (8/10)

2. I’m Gonna Love You (ft. Wonstein) – The next song on the album takes the acoustic but goes in a R&B direction. I’m Gonna Love You is brought to life via D.O’s perfectly suited R&B vocals and Wonstein’s rapping and vocals. There are also some harmonies within I’m Gonna Love You that makes the song even better. The melodies help bring some energy into the song, while the ‘I’m Gonna Gonna Love You’ hook is quite catchy. Altogether, it is a warm and easy to listen to track. (8/10)

3. My Love My Love delves further into the R&B genre. Instrumentally, it is quite good but it definitely on the simpler side. So, a lot needs to be done elsewhere, and hence this burden falls on his vocals. But D.O rises to the occasions by putting a bit of oomph to his vocals as the song progresses along. It isn’t to the point of powerhouse vocals. But rather, he keeps the song balanced to the extent in which it does go, making this another easy to listen to track. I also like the intimate side of the song, which I am sure EXO-L’s and other listeners are appreciating as well. (8/10)

4. It’s Love (다시, 사랑이야) – Right off the bat, D.O brings impact with his vocals and steals the show with them in this song. The other two songs preceding It’s Love have been a bit light on, though appropriate for the styles that they were going for. But here, over an acoustic ballad instrumentation, D.O really flourishes. His ad-libs are amazing and the melodies that he brings to the song are so dreamy. (9/10)

5. Dad (나의 아버지) Dad is another ballad, a song dedicated to fathers. This time the acoustic guitar is accompanied with a bit more in the instrumental department, including piano, percussion and orchestral elements. The vocals are superb. In Dad, D.O is significantly more emotive and captivating. And this just makes the message of the song so much more meaningful. I also like how his vocals build in this song, making it a powerful number, as well. (10/10)

6. I’m Fine – The ‘final’ song on the album is I’m Fine. Compared to the rest of the mini-album (aside the title track), I’m Fine is slightly more upbeat and brighter. It adds a bit of a different colour to the album, which I am appreciative of. Like the sound, the vocals also go in a different direction and I like the development of his vocals in I’m Fine. The reassuring tone in subtly jazzy instrumental, the hefty vocals from D.O and the fulfilling vibes of I’m Fine makes it a strong ender. (8.5/10)

7. Rose (English Version) Click here to listen to the English version of Rose.

8. Si Fueras MíaClick here to listen to the Spanish version of It’s Love, Si Fueras Mia.

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Empathy Teaser Image

[Review] Rose – D.O (EXO)

Once again, I am catching up with reviews. First up for what felt like a long time is the review of D.O’s solo comeback, Rose. The EXO member previously made his solo debut back in 2019 with the single That’s Okay, which was released the same day he enlisted into the military. Fast forward two years, D.O completed his military enlistment and he has also returned as an EXO member earlier this year with Don’t Fight The Feeling (the single review and the album review). He surprised fans at the end of June with news of completing his first solo mini-album, and subsequently released Empathy a month later, which features the title track Rose.

Rose had this feel-good and no nonsense vibe to it, which I found to be enjoyable. It is feel anything else with a song like this. Apart from this vibe, I also really liked the simplicity of the instrumentation. The acoustic guitar was the only instrument in the song, but yet it managed to pack a bit of a punch by giving off such a happy tone and a summery flair, fitting for the current season. D.O vocals are quite substantial and gives off a similar tone as the acoustic guitars. The pairing of the two elements was just so riveting to listen to. I am glad that D.O didn’t go with the cliché ballad route for this release, giving us a bit more colour with this release. Also, Rose just makes me want to smile every time I have listened to the song since its release. But while Rose is quite good in itself and the smile-inducing tone is always nice, I find myself struggling to put in the effort of searching up the song itself. It is for a different reason than usual, however. I pretty much like the track, but I feel it has the potential to become boring. I think consistency is the key here. Consistency is good, as I always say. But if something is a bit too consistent, multiple listens would put the song at risk of draining whatever effect it had on me. I am more than happy to listen to the song if it appears on my playlist or appeared as the next video on YouTube. But I just don’t see myself voluntarily searching up the song anymore, just so I can keep Rose appealing. Overall, Rose is a decent track and presents D.O’s vocals in a really positive manner. I just feel I need to keep my distance from the song to keep it like that.

Whatever headphones D.O is wearing, let me know the brand name and model. I need something like that (i.e. product placement has worked and I am gladly happy to exchange money for those headphones to block out the world). He happily cycles through town with the headphones on, listening to Rose. And he doesn’t stop for anything. Not the burst fire hydrant he just passes, not the school kids (who are always nosy), not the robbery in the cafe, or the exploding garbage truck. Noise-cancelling must be really effective with those headphones! But that is aside from the actual plot of the video. The real plot of the video portrays the aftereffects of falling in love, which puts him in a good mood and gives him some good luck at the same time. It also fits the bill and compliments the cheerful nature of the song. I also like the sketchy effects added post-production, which gives the video some extra detail and depth.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Album Review] Don’t Fight The Feeling (7th Mini Album) – EXO

Next album I am picking to review is EXO’s latest release after a long while, Don’t Fight The Feeling. I am a bit unsure if the album is considered their 7th mini-album, or just a special mini-album. But basing off a few sources, I have decided to go with their 7th mini-album. Anyway, as mentioned, this is the group’s first release since their 2019 comeback, Obsession (title track and studio album) due to military enlistments of some members who have since returned (i.e. Xiumin and D.O). The comeback occurred after additional members enlisted (i.e. Baekhyun and Chanyeol) and hence it may be a while until we get another comeback from the group. In the meanwhile, we are treated to this mini-album and future solo promotions (D.O is confirmed for a solo comeback in the coming days!).

Don’t Fight The Feeling Album Cover

1. Don’t Fight The Feeling (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Don’t Fight The Feeling. (8/10)

2. Paradise (파라다이스) – Following the upbeat and fun sounding Don’t Fight The Feeling, Paradise slows the pace of the album with mid-tempo R&B track. While I don’t mind a slowed down song, I felt Paradise was a bit too slow and sluggish, relative to the first track. Now, this isn’t an issue if I were listening to the song by itself. But I found this to be an issue when I was listening to the album in order of the tracklist. Despite the slow profile, the chorus was still a strong one. I really like the melodies (they helped add some faster tempos to the song) and the warmth that the members gave the chorus via the vocals and melodies. I also found it lighthearted and ‘easy on the ears’. The rapping didn’t have that seem feel and was largely forgettable. Overall, a decent track. (7/10)

3. No Matter (훅!) – While No Matter is still in that ‘mid-tempo’’ territory like Paradise, I feel that No Matter has a bit more of a bit to it. Everything felt cohesive and had a place in this song. I liked the funky atmosphere that the instrumental gives the song. The vocals were quite strong and added that needed substance to the song. The falsetto-like ‘Oh Oh Oh’ hook was quite memorable. The rapping felt fitting and continued the momentum and energy from elsewhere in the song, which was great. No Matter is definitely one of my favourite side-tracks on the album. (9/10)

4. Runaway – While the other songs on the album thus far have been more on the brighter end of the spectrum, Runaway feels and sounds a lot darker and moodier. I really like this slow rock, guitar and piano fusion sound. I also know that Runaway is a lot slower than the previous songs, but I feel its placement on this album is justified and it works nicely to help build a captivating and alluring atmosphere. For the vocals, I liked how they sounded echo-y, which adds additional depth to the song. On top of that, the chanty style of the chorus was quite memorable. Personally, it is another favourite on this album and is the first song that really stood out to me when I listened to the album for the first time. (10/10)

5. Just As Usual (지켜줄게)Just As Usual both ends and returns the album to its brighter sound. Just As Usual starts off as a soft R&B track, before the instrumental builds into a soft pop style instrumental (with the actual use of instruments, rather than synths to build the song’s backbone). I liked this buildup of energy and it puts forward EXO’s skillsets better than what a ‘straight’ coffeehouse track would have presented us with (which was a concern I had at the start of the song). Vocal and rapping-wise, I liked both elements in this song. Chanyeol was the standout member, with his husky vocals and cool rapping. Kai was the other member that stood out for me. The ad-libs from some of the other members were really good and the fade-out of the song was a good idea. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

Don’t Fight The Feeling Teaser Image

[Review] Don’t Fight The Feeling – EXO

EXO IS BACK! That is the first time I am saying that since their last ‘full-group’ comeback under the name of EXO with Obsession (both the name of the title track and album) in 2019. The main reason to the almost two year hiatus is because of military enlistment. Even during the Obsession comeback (and even today’s comeback), EXO has a few members currently enlisted in the military. And in 2020, it was announced that EXO would focus more on solo and unit promotions, with the successful debuts of Suho and Kai, and the successful comebacks of Baekhyun (Candy and Bambi), Lay and EXO-SC. But today, we welcome back EXO through the release of a special single, Don’t Fight The Feeling, which features members Xiumin, D.O (both who have returned from the military), Chanyeol, Baekhyun (both who have just enlisted), Lay, Kai and Sehun. This comeback also marks the first time Lay has featured in a comeback since 2018’s Tempo. Suho and Chen are currently on hiatus due to their enlistment (alongside Chanyeol and Baekhyun). Okay, formalities out of the way, let’s have a closer listen to Don’t Fight The Feeling.

Described as a dance song with a ‘cheerful rhythm’, Don’t Fight The Feeling really delivers with its upbeat instrumental and catchy lyrics. If you are looking for the usual serious and mature sound from EXO, this isn’t the song you are looking for. But if you are looking for something upbeat and vibrant as Love Me Right or Power, then Don’t Fight The Feeling is what you be looking for. I really like the no nonsense approach the song has when it came to its instrumentation. From the very start, you could feel what the song’s description was stating. And as the song went on, the synths gave off a funky vibe (which is a very 2020s thing), while the bass gives the song its depth. I do dislike the inclusion of the trap-based background for the rap sequences, with its stripped back nature being a bit too standard for my taste. I felt that these part could have been a bit more enticing with something a little more original. Overall, it is a really cool instrumentation that gives you in the mood for a bit of a groove. The chorus was catchy with the repetition of the song’s title and the overlapping of vocals. This technique really kept the song going and helped key the song’s hook into your mind. Though, I would have liked to hear a more dynamic hook to the song, but what we got in Don’t Fight The Feeling was satisfying nonetheless. When it comes to the vocals and rapping, it is definitely great to hear everyone again. There wasn’t anything as explosive with their delivery however and I didn’t think any member stood out of the pack. That’s fine though, because EXO still gave us a satisfying showing of their vocals. But while that was the case for the overall song, it was definitely nice to hear Xiumin, Lay and D.O, as it has been a while since we have heard from them. As for the rapping, what we got was okay. But it wasn’t really the best showcase of Chanyeol or Sehun’s skills. I think if the producers went with a backdrop that flowed with the rest of the upbeat instrumentation’s momentum, it would have worked more in Chanyeol and Sehun’s favour. Personally, Don’t Fight The Feeling is a really good return for the group and a song I wouldn’t mind casually replaying. It isn’t until I sit down to consider the elements individually, that I find myself slightly disappointed.

Don’t Fight The Feeling‘s music video fits into the new SM cinematic universe, which appears to revolve around KWANGYA (the planet in which aespa’s virtual members live on). As the lyrics, I think that members have to travel through KWANGYA to EXO-Planet, which is EXO’s destination in this video. I think that is a nice tie into the cinematic universe, but also keep EXO’s storyline as its own separate entity. As for the visuals of the music video, I thought it looked quite cool, with the spaceship and air-craft carrier. It was definitely nice to see most of the group on our screens, as well. Lay also made an appearance during his solo part. Though, it is clear he had to film elsewhere (most likely China) and the editor(s) inserted him in later. Everything was all good until we got to the final scene, where the members are all partying up and we see a snippet of the choreography. I am happy they inserted Lay into the choreography shot, bringing EXO together once again. But the green screen usage at the end was pretty poor in my opinion, and I felt like this impacted the quality of the music video in the end. The video just didn’t feel great anymore, thanks to the ending.

The choreography definitely looks cool, and I am glad the green screen didn’t ruin this aspect. It is definitely more lighthearted and not intense as EXO’s usual style, but I attribute the change to the music which calls for a lighter set of moves. I liked the chorus, when they do pivot with their arms stretched out in a diagonal fashion.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Album Review] Bambi (3rd Mini Album) – Baekhyun (EXO)

The next album on my reviewing radar is Baekhyun’s third mini-album, Bambi, which was released back in March of this year. Bambi is also the title track of the album. Amusement Park is also featured on the album after its digital release in December of last year. This is a pretty significant release for Baekhyun, with the album selling over a million copies within a few weeks of its release, breaking his personal record which he had set himself with his Delight mini-album from last year. It is also significant in a sense that this is Baekhyun’s final mini-album release before his military enlistment which occurred earlier this month. I believe Baekhyun has hinted at some solo stuff while he is away. But until that is officially confirmed and released, we only have this mini-album to fulfil our Baekhyun cravings for the next two years or so.

Bambi Album Cover

1. Love Scene – The album starts off with Love Scene. This form of R&B isn’t my personal cup of tea, given that there isn’t much going on. However, I felt that Love Scene was quite soothing to listen to. There is something about the consistent guitar work and the soft thumping in the instrumental that carried the song for me. Baekhyun’s vocals were smooth and there was a decent degree of raspiness to it. But as stated a few sentences ago, the song does feel quite consistent and I wished that wasn’t so much the case. (7/10)

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

3. All I Got – The opening beats of All I Got really perked my attention towards the song. Then comes Baekhyun’s falsetto note, before the R&B genre truly kicks in. In comparison to the opening track, All I Got has heft to it, which is more of my style. I really like the bass that sits under the rest of the song’s instrumentation. I really like the backing vocals in the bridge, giving a choir-like effect to the song. And to add to all of that, Baekhyun constantly returns with his vocals. A combination of falsettos and impressive ad-libs that only Baekhyun is capable of. (9/10)

4. Amusement Park (놀이공원)Click here to read the full review for Amusement Park. (9/10)

5. Privacy – This song combines jazzy notes and with lo-fi effects to give us Privacy. It is a really nice mix of styles that work really well with one another. And in addition to that, Privacy is really smooth so it is an easy listen. I would have liked to hear more of Baekhyun aligning with the jazz side of the song, rather than the lo-fi side. While I think his vocals in this song are amazing as usual, I felt there was some missed opportunity to do some further exploration in the jazz genre space. (8/10)

6. Cry For Love – The saying ‘saving the best to last’ is applicable for this album. Cry For Love is my personal favourite side track from this mini-album. Like the entirety of this album, Cry For Love falls into the R&B genre. But the song is the heftiest on this list, thanks to the beat of the instrumentation.  What makes this an even better song is Baekhyun’s vocals (per usual). He showed off a lot with his voice. You can hear the emotional drive behind his voice, which was fitting for the lyrics of this song. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Bambi Teaser Image

[Review] Bambi – Baekhyun (EXO)

Before we proceed with any more reviews for this week, I have to write my review for Baekhyun’s Bambi. Bambi dropped almost a week ago on Tuesday as the title track of Baekhyun’s third mini-album of the same name. This release has also been confirmed to be his final release before his military enlistment, which is scheduled to occur on his birthday (May 6). However I did recently read somewhere that Baekhyun may be releasing even more material while he is enlisted. But I guess we have to wait and see. Baekhyun’s third mini-album also become the most pre-ordered album for a soloist to date. Congratulations to Baekhyun for achieving such a feat!

It is no surprise that Baekhyun’s latest release taps into the R&B genre. All of his solo releases have dug deep into the R&B genre in some form or another. But there is always variation between this releases. I don’t think any of them have been as straight forward as Bambi however. And as I have previously specified in other reviews, this isn’t always a bad thing. Kicking off with atmospheric guitar work, Baekhyun’s vocals becomes the star attraction of Bambi with really smooth and engaging delivery. I also really like the clearness of his vocals in this song. It really helped elevate the vocals to that ‘star attraction’ feel and it doesn’t feel overcomplicated by the instrumentation, which in turn was quite simple and (as mentioned previously) straight forward R&B. I personally really enjoyed the ‘Bambi bam Bambi Bambi Bambi‘ hook, which was really keyed into my mind since its release last week. But while it sounds like it is all praise for Bambi and Baekhyun this time around, I have to note that there was one flaw that really stuck out at me. Pretty much from start to end, the song sounded all the same. And as a result, I don’t feel that the song goes for the three and half minutes that it is actually goes for. It is more so a blur. Not really a great impression. But once you listen to the song in detail, you notice Bambi‘s details and positives.

The music video opens with a very intense sequence with Baekhyun stepping in front of a train to pick up a coin he had flicked onto the train track, as it is chugging full steam ahead towards him. The video then cuts to Baekhyun on the train dancing, which is when the music kicks in. Throughout the video, we see Baekhyun hang around on the train, however I am unsure of the train’s significance in the video or who Baekhyun is playing. Aside from the confusion, I did like various aspects of the video including the noir-like appearance of the video, which is thanks to the suit and hat outfit that Baekhyun dons throughout the video. It adds an addition layer of mysteriousness to the video, which was already present thanks to the darkness that the video is set in. Also, when Baekhyun hangs outside the train while it was raining was also a strong moment. Firstly, it showed emotional commitment. Secondly, it felt very dramatic, which aligned with the rest of the video. Maybe slightly over the top, now that I have rewatched that part a couple of times. But overall, a good video.

Based on what can be seen in the music video, the choreography for Bambi is very sensual. And this matches up really nicely with the straight forward and typical side of R&B. On top of that, I really like the sharper moments of the choreography, when they move in time with the percussion beats of the song. The suit and hat also elevate the performance. I wish we get to see a full performance for Bambi soon.

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

[Review] Amusement Park – Baekhyun (EXO)

Baekhyun is nominated for Best Male Soloist in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Vote for Baekhyun and your other favourite artists now by clicking here.

Baekhyun has made a surprise comeback with Amusement Park. No one saw this release coming, with news of a comeback dropping out of the blue. This follows Baekhyun’s first studio album Delight, and the title track, Candy, which both dropped earlier this year. Both the album and title track landed him a nomination in this year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards for Best Male Soloist, so make sure you go vote for Baekhyun if he is your favourite male soloist by clicking the link above. And after you do that, come back to continue reading the review.

Amusement Park falls into the genre of R&B, a style of music that we know Baekhyun for fondly when it comes to his solo works. It is a nice, warm and soothing track that really highlights his vocal ability once again. There was this huskiness to Baekhyun’s vocals that enhanced the smooth texture of the song. It also sounded like he went into a falsetto mode for certain parts, which further showed off his ability. The song has this very melodic flow, one that makes me sway along to the song and drove it forward in a graceful manner. The instrumental was quite soothing and keeps true to the R&B genre all throughout. That warm feeling I mentioned before was very apparent, especially thanks to the classical instrumentation that was also present in the song. I would have liked a hint of something more in the song, like stronger ad-libs to give the song a bit more oomph. But what Baekhyun presents us in Amusement Park is already quite fantastic and touching.

We don’t actually have a music video for this release. The accompanying video for Amusement Park was a live video, which featured Baekhyun singing live to the camera. He was appropriately positioned in front of a merry-go-round in an amusement park, fitting with the lyrics of the song in which he compares love to an amusement park. I love the golden hue that the lights from the merry-go-round gives the video, which goes really well with his skin tone and the warming feelings of the song I mentioned earlier. My only complaint with the video is that he looked somewhat distracted. But honestly, that could have been just me being distracted from trying to find something to nitpick in this video.

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