The next album review on the blog this week is for Golden Child’s sixth mini-album since their debut, AURA, which was released in August of this year. This mini-album features the title track Replay, an intro track and 4 additional side tracks. AURA follows the group’s Japanese debut and first comeback, the military enlistment of Daeyeol and the group’s Korean releases of Ra Pam Pam and DDARA from last year.
It comes as no surprise to me (and it honestly should not be any surprise to any of you) that Golden Child has put out another strong album with AURA, as evident by the extremely high rating I gave the mini-album at the end of this post. I really enjoyed every track on the mini-album – from the title track to the intro track (and everything that follows these two tracks). Both AURA and Golden Child deserves more attention!
1. AURA – The mini-album starts off with a very elegant but mature sounding instrumental piece. It builds up from deliberately slow and paced beat, infusing some electronic synths and brief flute work into the instrumental, but peaking with crunchy vibration at the very end. It is definitely moody throughout and sets the scene for the rest of the mini-album.
3. Knocking On My Door – My high hopes for this Golden Child album release comes to fruition with Knocking On My Door. It is the song that made certain that the mini-album would find a place on the agenda for an album review. I love the seamless flow of this track, and the consistently dynamic chorus. The brightness from the synths did the song a solid, giving the song a very refreshing and breezy feel. The rapping added a nice and palatable touch of textures. But it is the vocals that left me most impressed with Knocking On My Door. Y and Joochan’s vocals in the chorus were amazing, and the ad-libs we got at the end just sealed the deal to make this track one of the album’s highlight. (10/10)
4. 3! 6! 5! – 3! 6! 5! ups the energy exponentially with this fun and very vibrant track. Without a doubt, it fits into the summer season just perfectly. And it is incredibly hard to not dance to this song whilst listening to it and I always a find a wide smile on my face following a listen to this song. The harmonies give 3! 6! 5! so much boldness, while the rapping added such a fitting level of edginess and grooviness to the song, all at the same time. And the hooks in the song are so catchy and so easy to get into. Another undeniable highlight. (10/10)
5. Purpose – Purpose starts off as a much softer track, as opposed to the song preceding it. The melodies and verses frames the song as a mid-tempo pop song. But the choruses of Purpose ended up being quite impactful with the combination of the pop and heavy synths. The synths almost overwhelm the vocals, in my opinion. But the vocalists just manage to push through and stay on top. They do sound nice, but I think a bit of refinement would have helped Purpose a lot. I quite like the rapping in this track, especially in the second verse when there wasn’t any backing to the rapping. (8/10)
6. Miracle (완벽해) – The mini-album ends with a glitchy EDM dance track. This brings the energy of the album right back up, and possibly to new highs on this mini-album when the instrumental is most relentless. The choruses were decent, and I liked how the melodies/vocals kept the song grounded. I kind of wished the hooks in the chorus were a bit more memorable, but what we were presented is definitely fine enough. The rapping in the second verse was super cool and gave off a super edgy feel. The verses settled for some less crunchy synths and a funky underlying bass – both leads well into the choruses. (8.5/10)
As promised in the previous International Song Review post to increase the frequency of these reviews, I am back with a new International Song Review post for another six releases by our beloved KPOP artists. In that previous post, I reviewed non-Korean songs released by Momoland, BM (from KARD), Mark Tuan (from GOT7), THE8 (from SEVENTEEN), JAMIE and SEVENTEEN. In this post, I will be focusing on releases from ITZY, Mark Tuan, Jackson Wang, CIX, Golden Child and WOOSUNG. Let’s go!
Voltage – ITZY
Back in April of this year, ITZY released their first original Japanese single, Voltage. One of the aspects of Voltage that I really enjoyed was the electrifying energy that came from the song for me. It isn’t as in your face as it could have been, but holding it back definitely helped make it more impactful from how I see the song. The pop rock influence was very cool and fulfilling. The brassy synths were cool, as well. The vocals and rapping were substantial and definitely added bit of attitude and sass to the song, which took Voltage to a different level for me. I have no qualms with the eventuating girl-crush vibe that comes from Voltage, mainly because it is was well executed. My only criticism I personally have is that Voltage lacked a centric hook – one that usually makes their Korean releases more memorable and addictive. Had Voltage found a centric hook like that, this would have been a 10/10 song for me.
There were some good editing and post-production throughout the video. You might even call it seamless. It, combined with the motorcycle rider concept, helped create an edgy and cool vibe, as well. However, there were some questionable examples of post-production, as well. Namely Lia’s solo scenes with that glassy and snowy background was pretty awful. I don’t know what was the purpose of her scenes, given that the other scenes involved the night time or some sort of darkness in the background. The choreography was pretty cool and definitely worked well with the energy coming off from Voltage. I wished there was a more angsty vibe from the choreography and stage performances, just to give Voltage more oomph.
Overall Rating – 8.5/10
lonely – Mark Tuan (GOT7)
Mark Tuan is going to be a recurring artist in this segment over the next few posts, as he has been quite busy with his solo releases. lonely was released back in March of this year. It too jumps on board with the rock trend, though it steers away from the current pop rock trend of KPOP. However, I am not talking about an electrifying form of rock with headbanging potential. Instead, lonely is quite an emotional song, where the singer realizes his true feelings for his lover following their breakup. You can definitely feel the emotions from his vocals as well. There is still a degree of charge from the rock influence, which helped made lonely quite impactful, particularly since since it emerged out of nowhere. Usually you can tell from the pre-choruses of emerging influence, but Mark Tuan just skips the pre-choruses altogether. The combination with the synths and bass gives off more of a trendy vibe. Altogether, lonely is a strong solo track without the need of using a powerful backing.
The music video is quite simple, with a white backing, some fog, some black paint marks (couldn’t tell what the paint marks were trying to show/say), a black couch and Mark Tuan dressed in a black outfit. The video itself was almost a one-shot video, but there was some editing part way and in the bridge. But with such a video, the focus is on Mark Tuan and the passion he puts behind the delivery of the song within the music video. This, along with the fact that I am a sucker for simplicity, makes the music video for lonely very appealing to watch.
Overall Rating – 9/10
Blow – Jackson Wang
Fellow GOT7 member Jackson Wang has also been busy this 2022 with a few new solo singles under his wing. Today, I am reviewing Blow, which was released at the end of March. Blow is an example of my personal favourite style of pop rock genre combination that I am into. The beat is just so stompy, while the actual rock components of the song give off a grungy vibe. The pre-chorus has that head-banging potential, while the chorus really concentrates that stompy factor that I already mentioned with everything else instrumentally. And this is on top of being memorable with the background ‘Oh-Oohs‘. The bridge featuring Jackson’s falsetto was very sleek, while the follow-up autotuned ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star‘ provided a different colour yet familiar atmosphere that came about from the preceding sections of the song. I think it is safe to say that I am still digging Blow, after all these months.
Blow is about being addicted to and unable to escape from a toxic partner. And I feel we get an abstract showing of this idea. The music video depicts an old style roadshow (maybe of the circus variety, and thus The Greatest Showman vibes). Jackson, along with the dancers, are performers of the show. The conditions are quite dusty and old looking, suggesting these are the victims of the toxic partner (which I am assuming the grand show person of the roadshow). It is one massive interpretative dance party, before Jackson leaving, suggesting that he realizes and leaves the grip of the toxic partner. I found the use of smoke to depict the ‘blowing’ to be quite clever and fits in with the rest of the video’s concept. I also like how the choreography within the music video really picked up on the energy of the song and how the space was used.
Overall Rating – 9.6/10
Pinky Swear – CIX
Also at the end of March, CIX released their third official Japanese single. Titled Pinky Swear, it is a pop track that is a completely different offering to what CIX puts out in Korea (see the recent 458 for an example of CIX’s Korean work, if you are unfamiliar with the group). Pinky Swear is a lot brighter as a song and falls on the pleasant side of pop music. It is fun and upbeat, but a lot more traditional and typical. Decent melodies, vocals and rapping are also a feature in Pinky Swear. I do like the sweetness the vocal brings to the song, which helps add a cheerful factor to the song. It does lack a memorable hook, relying on a smooth melody to really key the song into my memory bank. As a result, Pinky Swear does slip away from me (and I nearly forgot about it when I was planning the segment). I much prefer their pre-release, Wondering, which I felt would have been a better fit as a promotional track for CIX when you consider their Korean work, as it potentially could have been aesthetic.
Pinky Swear‘s music video is quite colourful and plays well into the pop side of the song. The colourfulness adds a level of sweetness to the visuals of the song. Plus with the presence of sugary visuals (i.e. donuts and candy), I feel like the video almost teethers into the saccharine territory. Thank god, we aren’t seeing sets made out of candy and sugary treats. The members show off cute and loveable visuals, which I am sure fans would enjoy. Though, I do find it amazing that in a matter of five months, the members are seducing with a more sensual and masculine appeal in their recent Korean comeback. The choreography was quite nice and enjoyable. I love the smiles they all bring to the performance, which adds to the song just as well.
Overall Rating – 7.9/10
RATA-TAT-TAT – Golden Child
RATA-TAT-TATA is a more recent release (relative to the other releases in this post). It dropped as Golden Child’s second official Japanese single in May. It is a definite improvement from their debut Japanese single, which was quite cringy when I think back to it. The title of this song also hints at a similar potential for this song, but I am thankful that was not the case. RATA-TAT-TAT is a fast paced dance track, especially as the chorus hits. The instrumental for RATA-TAT-TAT definitely has an oomph factor and feels meatier, which boosts the song and makes it quite badass. But it is still not at the same caliber as their Korean releases. There was a strong showing from the members. The rapping showed a slightly more aggressive side. The vocals were well incorporated into the song but I wished there was more of a wow factor to the vocal line. Joochan’s high note was pretty impressive, though. RATA-TAT-TAT‘s hook was catchy. Overall, I had fun listening to RATA-TAT-TAT.
The music video for RATA-TAT-TAT goes for an edgy concept, but fails to really hit the mark. Shot in an industrial setting and with an underground race car theme, it feels all pretty cliché and ‘done before’ for a male group. I feel like keeping the video simple with the members in leather jackets and dark lit rooms would have done the job fine. I wished there was more to the video. The choreography is a much better fit for the song. While I really did like the fast pace of the movements (which goes well with the fast pace nature of the song), I also commend Golden Child on their sharpness and synchronisation. The fast pace also brings about some aggression, which is a pretty decent addition to the routine.
Overall Rating – 7.6/10
Phase Me – WOOSUNG (THE ROSE)
Another May release, but this time it is WOOSUNG’s Phase Me. Like the song’s at the start of this post, Phase Me finds it squarely in the rock genre as well. But Phase Me‘s instrumental also has a groovy vibe to it, particularly in the chorus. Part of me really enjoys the groovy nature of the song as it brings a uniqueness to the music scene, but a part of me felt the song could have gone with a completely stronger rock sound had it continued the momentum of the rock in the first verse (and not met with an anti-drop). WOOSUNG’s vocals are very clear and crisp throughout Phase Me, which I appreciate. He brings out the husky and raspy nature of his vocals in this song, which felt so alluring and captivating. I also liked how the song is short but sweet. While it does feel like a blur, Phase Me felt very satisfying, fulfilling and complete.
The moth concept was very interesting, but it makes sense. Moths are insects that are unphased when there is light around. In the music video, Woosung plays two roles. One is an actual moth. In the darkness and during the sunset, he emerges to sing the song. When there is light (i.e. that ending), he is attracted to it and just stares at it. I do find the eyes a bit freaky, but Woosung plays a moth well. The second role is where he plays the light, which attract the dancers in a similar fashion to how moths are attracted to light. This section was a lot more sensual. To add to the sensual themes of the video, Woosung spends a lot of time shirtless, but I think it works with the themes of the video.
At the start of this week, Golden Child made their comeback with their latest mini-album, AURA (their 6th one to date), and their latest title track Replay. This is Golden Child’s first Korean comeback since the release of Ra Pam Pam and DDARAfrom last year and the first release following their Japanese debut with A WOO!! and first Japanese comeback with RATA-TAT-TA. Replay unfortunately does not feature Daeyeol, who earlier this year became the first Golden Child member to enlist into the military.
Right off the bat, Replay is electrifying and shocking (in the best way possible) EDM dance track. It has been a while since I could say that with a song, as it has been a while since we have been given a song that really lurches out at you from the first second. And that is one of the aspects of Replay that I quite enjoyed, how the song starts with the chorus, kicking Replay into gear from the very first second with its high-octane energy and never giving you a chance to even ease into the song. Hence why I described Replay as shocking. We do get some reprieve in the verses, but they do maintain the intensity from the chorus, so that the entire track feels cohesive. A bit more about the instrumental – it is super gritty, textured and abrasive throughout, but done so in such a way where it feels satisfying and enjoyable. I like the heavy rock presence we get in the bridge as a dance break and at the end, which capitalises Replay‘s intensity and energy and takes the ending to an epic finale. I liked how the members stayed on top of the instrumentation, as they easily could have been drowned out with the loud, noisy and busy backing. But instead of being shouty or overly aggressive, a sense of refinement was used and the members only pushed themselves slightly. The rapping adds further intensity into Replay, amplifying everything that has been described above. If I have to be critical about Replay, it would be the hooks. They just didn’t take it to the same level as the rest of the song. But honestly, with the thrilling nature of Replay, I can overlook that.
I am not entirely sure, but I believe the premise of the music video is that the members are in jail and they escape so that they can have a chance to ‘replay’. The reason why I am not entirely sure about this is because I feel the music video was a bit under developed when it came to the plotline, but I believe there is one there. It was just really light on. Aside from that, it was a reasonable music video. The editing helped make the video appear more intense, the use of flashing lights heightened this feeling and the members looked amazing throughout the video with their tougher looks.
Choreography was fantastic. I liked the play of textures throughout the performance. The chorus routine was relentless and intense just like the music, whereas the verses allowed the members to showcase a smoother set of moves. I liked how aggressive the choreography for the rock parts of the song were, which really summed up the performance well for me.
Song – 9.5/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 10/10 Overall Rating – 9.2/10
It is time for another round of International Song Reviews. Unfortunately, the songs released by our beloved Korean artists have fallen to the back of the pack, and so they haven’t had much attention over the last few months. But I will eventually catch up and get around to reviewing them. Last post (way back in February) featured MONSTA X, SEVENTEEN, TWICE, WONHO and Jeon Somi. This time around, I am focusing on WOOZI (from SEVENTEEN), Eric Nam, Golden Child, Changmin (from TVXQ) and (new group) NIK.
Ruby – WOOZI (SEVENTEEN)
WOOZI kicked started off the year with his mixtape solo release, Ruby. This track genuinely surprised me because I was under the impression that the track would be a Korean song. But it ended up being a full-English song. I was totally prepared to write a full review for it at the very start of the year, before I realized that it was in English. Anyhow, Ruby starts off as an unsuspecting ballad thanks to the strings that started off the song and gave a classical vibe. But that is just the intro to Ruby, which ended up being a unrelentless head-banging worth rock track. I liked that WOOZI maintains a light vocal tone throughout Ruby, but is also kept on top of the instrumental and isn’t drowned out by the backing piece at anyone point. The way the autotune comes into play throughout Ruby helps adds texture and amps up the energy, confirming Ruby‘s status as a top notch song to kick off a solo career. My only complaint is that Ruby could have been longer. As for the music video, I liked how the colour red was used in a balanced manner. Never was any scene was oversaturated in the bold colour (plus, there were some scenes that didn’t have a lick of the red colour!). But yet, you can tell that red was the central colour to the video. WOOZI also donned some sleek looking suits and got his boogie on during some parts, which felt refreshing and unique compared to other music videos we have seen for rock songs. (9/10)
I Don’t Know You Anymore – Eric Nam
It has been a while since I reviewed Eric Nam, with my last review for Eric being 2020’s Paradise. Since then, Eric Nam has released a handful of solo tracks, such as 2021’s I Don’t Know You Anymore (which was rereleased as a track on his second English studio length album, There and Back Again). I have picked I Don’t Know You Anymore as Eric Nam’s next review on my blog because it was such an an ‘easy on the ears’ track to listen to. It remains within the pop realm and is quite upbeat, but never does it feel too much. This is a style Eric Nam excels at, based on his many hits that I have covered on the blog. I like how his vocals flow through this song, the simplicity of the hooks and melodies, and the prominence of guitars that makes up the instrumental. It does get a bit repetitive, and I wished there was something within the song that dispels the repetitiveness. But still a great listen nonetheless. For the music video, I liked the simplicity of the scenes and shots we got. Eric Nam showed character and let himself loose for this video, which made it is a fun video to watch. Some of the post-production effects felt unnecessary, and it felt like the editor got a little too excited on their part whilst editing the video. (8/10)
A WOO!! – Golden Child
Earlier this year, Golden Child made their debut in Japan with the single A WOO!!. Knowing what Golden Child has put out in Korean, I am disappointed with A WOO!!. While the track dabbles in a synth-pop like dance track, it never hits hard and the instrumental never really catches on, for the most part. The ‘A WOO‘s we get as part of the lyrics and hook falls flat and doesn’t really excite me. Similarly, their vocals and rapping doesn’t really appeal to me. But they do hold their ground well. But it isn’t all bad news for A WOO!!. My favourite part of the song is actually the post-chorus that follows the first and third choruses. It is when the song hit hardest, is the most abrasiveness (and so is the most interesting part of the instrumental) and the intensity is quite memorable. It is just unfortunate that the rest of the song is generic and doesn’t live up to the same level. For the music video, it was a fairly simple setup of choreography shots/closeups. Like the song, the video is pretty plain-looking. But it isn’t the end of the world for me, as the stylists did a good job of making the members look edgy throughout this video. For the choreography, A WOO!! doesn’t really have much going on to stand out. But I note their sharp moves (as always) and the wolf references we get in the choreography. But nothing as strong as their Korean routines. (6.2/10)
Human – Max Changmin (TVXQ)
In addition to making his solo comeback in Korea earlier this year through Devil (title of both title track and mini-album), Max Changmin also made a solo comeback in Japan with the track Human (though at the end of 2021). Human is a three language song, with Korean, Japanese and English lyrics. To me, the song could have been epic. Key words being ‘could have been’. The lacking element to Human is the instrumental and this prevents Human from fully entering that epic territory. Instead, it felt half-baked and didn’t have much going on within it. I personally have no idea how else to even describe it! I wish the instrumentals went with either dramatic orchestra, or intense EDM, or powerful rock to really take Human to the next level. What does give Human some hope and drives the song towards epic possibility is Max Changmin himself. He really packs a punch in Human and doesn’t hold his vocals back. I like how loaded the lyrics felt, and the way Max Changmin delivered his lines definitely emphasised this point. As for the video, I like the premise of what we see. I would go the extra length to say the plotline, but what I got out of the video is based on my imagination. My interpretation of the story is that Changmin makes the ultimate sacrifice at the end to save the younger boy, who I am guessing is himself. I am basing this on the fact that he seems prepared to take that plunge and spends the moments beforehand reminiscing about the ocean through his hands. Also we don’t see the young boy in the sandstorm until after Changmin take the plunge. (8.5/10)
ANOTOKIE – NIK
NIK is a new group whom I have not reviewed before on this blog. They are Japanese-Korean male group consisting of 11 members, some of which are former and current members of KPOP groups, that made their debut in 2021. For more information about NIK, check out their profile on Kprofiles. ANOTOKIE is a Japanese single released by the group in December 2021, but it didn’t get my attention until early this year. For me, it is the warmth of the chorus and comforting nature of the melodies that really got me into this simple song. There is also a hopeful atmosphere to the song that I was also drawn to. This is partly thanks to the pleasant pop instrumental, which paired well with the straight forward vocals in the chorus. Elsewhere, I heard solid vocal and rapping potential (Though the heavily autotuned rapping in the second verse could have been omitted). I am not entirely sure what the music video was meant to show, given how the ending some of the members seem to be happy that they are together. Throughout the video, some of the members were reflective, frustrated or sad. I guess they are encompassing the emotions that they sing about in ANOTOKIE, which is all about wanting that extra chance to make things right with their partner (but knowing that chance has passed). But the ending doesn’t make much sense. Also, their outfits look like they shot this between schedules. The all white outfits don’t look natural in the urban setting. Maybe some refinement and clearer direction could have helped the video. (7.8/10)
As mentioned earlier today (and throughout the past week), I would be posting the album review for Golden Child’s second studio album and its repackaged version today. GAME CHANGER (released at the start of August this year) is the group’s second studio album and features the title track Ra Pam Pam. Earlier this week, the group returned with the repackaged version, retitled DDARA, and features the title track of the same name. In total, there are 13 tracks on the album which I will be reviewing today. This album release was a banger – a small hint of what I thought about the albums overall.
1. Game Changer – The album kicks off with the eerie intro track Game Changer. The eeriness is only around at the start though, with the intro track opting for suspenseful classical vibe. This too is quite brief, as EDM kicks in right after to bump this up into very dynamic territory. I feel like this track would be awesome for a movie trailer, hinting towards twist and turns. For this album, it leads right into the likes of Ra Pam Pam.
4. OASIS – The other new track added to the repackaged version is OASIS. To me, the track is an impressive display of vocals from the group. Those successive high notes we get at the end sound so good. It felt almost like the members were in a ballad mindset for this song. But OASIS is no ballad. The instrumentation falls into the EDM side of music. It definitely made OASIS impactful and dynamic enough for me to give the song a 10/10. The rapping also reiterates the fact that this is no ballad, going with a powerful approach, which fitted in really well. (10/10)
5. Bottom of the Ocean – Bottom of the Ocean is a full English track that brings me back to the ‘00s thanks to its pop rock sound. The track feels just right for the summer season, with its vibrancy and energy fitting right into the hallmarks of a summery song. Golden Child handles the song exceptionally well, which is worth a mention, as this is their first English track. The harmonies were a really nice touch. (9/10)
6. Fanfare (빵빠레) – Fanfare is my pick for favourite side track for this album. It was hard to pick one, but I settled on this one!. It is a dance track with a really great retro and funky instrumentation. The brass elements in this song really give it so much colour, while rest of the funky and retro instrumentation is so vibrant and lively. The bass adds extra groove as well! The members bring solid vocals and rapping in this song, with the standout award going to the main vocalists for their high note and ad-libs. Overall, a home run with this track. (10/10)
9. Spell (주문을 걸어) – The album breaks away from the unit/solo track with a bit of an interlude in the form of Spell. It is similar to Fanfare in the sense that it has a funky and groovy energy oozing from it. But it is different in a way that it is more reliant on synths and EDM to get this energy across. Not that it matters, as Spell is an equally good track and the EDM makes it a dynamic number. I really like the idea of the delayed drop in this song, especially since I feel the delay allows Golden Child an opportunity to showcase a mature vibe in the chorus. The hooks in Spell are also quite dynamic and really appealed to me. (10/10)
13. I Know (난 알아요) – The album ends with a ballad. Common sense tells me that their vocals would be on full display, and that is the case with I Know. But what makes their vocals even better (and so the ballad as a whole) is the instrumentation. Not only does the thumping in the instrumentation makes the ballad more upbeat, it adds impact to the song and a breathtaking element to the song. The rest of the instrumental falls into the same motif as well. Ending off the album with a song like I Know felt just like the perfect ender. (10/10)
The final side track from Golden Child’s second studio album which I will be reviewing ahead of the rest of the album is Out The Window, which is performed by Daeyeol. Daeyeol was the only member from the group to have a solo track, with the other members participating in unit tracks. After this review, it is full steam ahead to their Game Changer and DDARA album review, which I will be posting shortly after this. Until then, this is my review for Out The Window.
Daeyeol’s solo song comes in the form of a mid-tempo ballad. Overall, I find Out The Window to be a pleasant song that highlights Daeyeol’s vocals. While the song itself is pretty straightforward and simplistic, it is still a really nice song and doesn’t fall on the boring or typical side of ballads. The melodies are what pulls me in and I think Daeyeol’s vocals do an amazing job of bringing Out The Window‘s melodies to life. As mentioned before, the song is rather simple, with a nice acoustic instrumental to form the backing of the song. It helps with making everything palatable and really compliments Daeyeol’s vocals in my opinion. To be honest, the song is similar to what we have heard in some of the other side tracks that I have reviewed separately over the last day, in the sense that there isn’t anything special about it. However, I do think that Out The Window has a bit of a edge over the other tracks. Every time I hear the song or watch the music video for it over the past couple of weeks, I found myself thinking the song can be a great OST choice for the right drama. Based on the lyrics, it seems like this ballad would be best played when the lead characters of the drama are reminiscing about their memories of one another.
For the music video, I liked its more rustic approach with its out-of-focus home video style approach. It is quite different to what we get nowadays when it comes to aesthetics, and I find this video speak volumes this way. I think the particular style is intention though, as the content that we see are actually memories that are being played back. This would align with the lyrics of the song. I am not exactly sure if I saw things right, but the scene in which the female character withdraws/retracts her hand from Daeyeol felt like it was in a rewinding motion.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8/10
Coming up later today is the album review for Golden Child’s second studio album (and its repackaged version). But as mentioned yesterday, there is still a few more unit and solo tracks to review off the album before I can post the full album review. First up today is the unit track That Feeling, which features Seungmin, Donhyun and Jaehyun.
I too do not have much to say about That Feeling. It isn’t a mind blowing track, but That Feeling comes off as a nostalgic listen to me. It is as if I have heard the song before. This does not mean that it is a direct copy off another song. Instead, thanks to the song’s warming and mild atmosphere, That Feeling comes off as familiar and inviting. And I quite like that aspect of this unit track. I also find the song to be quite sweet-sounding, which can be attributed to the the likes of Seungmin, Donghyun and Jaehyun. Similarly, the melodies, especially during the pre-chorus and choruses, were so nice and soothing to listen to. I also appreciate the lightness of the song and how it is easy of the ears. From the vocals to the trumpets we get in background, nothing overwhelmed and contributed to that overall inviting and warm feeling. Overall, That Feeling was quite a likeable track.
There isn’t anything too crazy in the music video. Like the song, it also quite sweet and fits the tone of the song overall. Seungmin, Donghyun and Jaehyun are on a road trip in Korea, with a lot of the footage of them are at a beach and on the road. I did like the combined usage of the Instagram look and the ripped photo/scrapbooking look. Both came together to give the video both a modern and rustic look. but I also thought that both contributed to a playful and fun vibe as well.
Song – 7.5/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.7/10
The next step to a completed album review for Golden Child’s second studio album (and its repackaged version) is for the album’s first unit track. This unit, if you cannot tell from the title of the post, is made up of Joochan and Bomin, two vocalists of the group. Their single is titled Singing In The Rain.
I personally do not have much to say about Singing In The Rain, so this review will be fairly short. This doesn’t mean I dislike the song, though. As a matter of fact, I quite enjoyed the song as whole, even though its style just isn’t my cup of tea. Singing In The Rain is a fairly simple song. It is a very typical jazzy style of music, suitable for a coffee shop. There is a bit of rain in the background, so imagine sitting in a n ambient coffee shop on a rainy day whilst listening to this song. There actually isn’t anything that special about the style of song, but something else really captivates and pulls me into the song. Singing In The Rain superbly present Joochan and Bomin’s vocals. The pair sounds quite dreamy and sweet throughout the song and this really fans out to the rest of the song. I particularly like the pairing of Joochan’s higher and Bomin’s lower tone in this song. The contrast between the two was nice and gives the song that extra something to talk/think about. The melodies that the voices are carry are so light and drifty, reiterating that dreamy and sweet feeling you get from the song. Overall, a soothing track to listen to. In the grand scheme of things, it may not be the most memorable side track on the album, but Singing In The Rain is still a worthwhile listen.
There seems to be two theories floating about regarding this video. One of them proposes that Bomin’s character is in love with the female character, while the other proposes that Bomin is in love with Joochan’s character. The video is pretty ambiguous, so either theories feel very valid. Apart from that, everything else within the video fits in neatly with the song. I also like the rainy scenes, with Joochan and Bomin dressed up in suits and holding their umbrellas. It gave the video a bit of variety in terms of range of scenes and infused a bit of something different into the video.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8/10
Earlier this week, I flag I would post reviews for the unit and solo tracks from Golden Child’s second studio album, GAME CHANGER, ahead of the actual album review which I will be posting this weekend. To date, I have only posted one (the review of POPPIN’ by Y and Jangjun). But the rest are coming and the album review will definitely be posted this weekend! So, I better get cracking. Next up is the unit release of GAME, which features members TAG and Jibeom.
To me, GAME feels slightly inferior to POPPIN’, simply because it comes off as your more typical dance pop track. It is still a decent side track off the GAME CHANGER album, and its elements (which I will go through in a second) helps the song stand out. But it just doesn’t live up the same standard as POPPIN’ had set. I just don’t find GAME as striking as the previously reviewed song, with the typical nature of the song coming out more throughout the track, and I feel that this atmosphere was the only aspect that hold backs the song for me. To me, the standardness comes from two elements within GAME – forgettable verses that just didn’t stick in my mind, and similarly unmemorable vocals/rapping. Sure, the rapping was powerful and the vocals were nice in GAME, but neither really struck me. Unlike POPPIN’, I am not amazed as I had hoped to be. We did get some memorable hooks (i.e. the ‘LALALA‘ hooks following the choruses), but these felt unoriginal, and I couldn’t really bring myself to say that the vocals/raps were the cause of the memorable factor. However, as mentioned above, I was impressed with the brassy centrepiece of GAME. The heaviness from the piano in the chorus and the bass also gave the song some depth and oomph, which I definitely appreciated. But overall, GAME just didn’t live up to standard set by Y and Jangjun.
TAG and Jibeom play rivals in this music video, and they choose to settle their differences with a bit of gambling. After putting everything they have in, both members were more interested in showing each other who is better (big egos here). So interested that they didn’t see or hear the third person in the room, who knocks them both out (with a very soft tap from the looks of it). Once tied up, they realize that they were played and shouldn’t have worked against each other. Now, both of them have lost everything on the table and someone else (unknown to us all) has run off with both TAG and Jibeom’s money. Aside from the plot, I quite liked the visuals from this music video, particularly the various photo shots we get throughout the video and how they were intertwined with the video’s scenes.
Song – 7/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.4/10
Part of today’s comeback lineup is Golden Child, who has returned with their repackaged version of their second studio length album. The new album has been re-released with the title DDARA. The title track for this release also shares the same name as the newly titled album. DDARA follows the release of Ra Pam Pam from early August. In Golden Child related updates, I will be posting reviews to Golden Child’s unit and solo tracks from their Game Changer album over the coming nights, ahead of their album review later this week. The new songs on DDARA will also be included as part of this album review! But until then, here are my thoughts on DDARA.
DDARA falls into what I would consider to be a niche within the new jack swing genre of music. The new jack swing style tends to be quite in your face, but DDARA seems to hold back on that upfront nature. Because of this, and the sleekness of the song’s main hook and the overall approach of the Golden Child members in this song, DDARA comes off very mature and elegant-sounding. It is very different from what Golden Child has put out more recently, which fell more into the EDM space. What stands out to me in DDARA is the various delivery of vocals and raps throughout the song. We hear a lot of different styles, including acapella at the start of the song, the raspy nature of the song’s main hook (which is quite catchy), the strong vocals that brings vibrancy to the chorus and soft vocals elsewhere, and (finally) refined yet dynamic hip-hop style rapping in the second verse and rap-speaking elsewhere. And there is probably a bit more to add to the list if I had space. As touched on above, the hooks (not just the main hook as already mentioned) were quite catchy. They seemed to bring a dynamic energy to the song, particularly the ‘Yeah this is how we do it‘ chants, which adds contrast. Contrast was also the main theme at the end of the song as the producers throw a bit of a curveball, changing it up by adding altered voices into the background. It was definitely a change up that I thought was needed as the song would easily attracted a (negative) repetitive complaint had that change up not been there. Contrast seemed to be present up to the very last second, as well. In the final line, we got a duo combination of vocal styles. All the members start off chanting one of the song’s hooks, before one member ends the line by himself (not sure who). I thought that was a dynamic and impactful line. Overall, DDARA is a different style, but a good sense of style.
The music video also taps into that sophisticated side. The room (painted pale green room with gold detailings on the wall that I am sure other KPOP idols have filmed in before) was classy and vintage-looking. The props in the room were also gave off that same vibe, though I am not too sure of the food items they had on the table when everyone was in the room (cheeseballs, sauce bottles and decorating donuts – someone didn’t get the classy and elegant memo for that aspect of this video). The choreography scenes were quite simple. A black and white filter, with the member dancing over a white background. The sophistication here comes from the members who are dressed in suits and looked very dapper and proper. Not the most amazing music video, but it works.
The choreography for this comeback shows off both style and flair, which stands out for me. I quite liked the leg flicks. They were soft moves, but quite sharp in execution. It looks quite good. I also like how the rest of the choreography amps up right after the leg flicks to match the energy and beats from the new jack swing elements in the instrumentation. It is a strong routine that matches their concept for this comeback, overall.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 7.5/10 Performance – 10/10 Overall Rating – 8.8/10
Golden Child’s latest album, Game Changer, featured a bunch of unit and solo tracks. And as part of the promotions for Game Changer, Woolim Entertainment has released a music video for each of those tracks. Over the next few days, I will be reviewing each of the unit and solo tracks from the album that have a music video, ahead of the album review that I will releasing over the weekend. First up (chosen at random) is POPPIN’, which is a unit track featuring Y and JangJun.
My first impression of POPPIN’ is that it screams fun. The pop song is a party track that brings together Y and JangJun. It is extremely upbeat, maintains a fun party vibe throughout and is definitely memorable for a number of reasons. From the very first second with the electric guitars at the start, POPPIN’ teases the energy that was about to come. Right after that, we constantly served with low yet smooth vocals from Y, and powerful and dynamic rapping from JangJun throughout the entirety of the song. Both came through with their parts and kept me captivated. I am floored by JangJun’s delivery in this song, especially since his delivery The blast of energy that we get in the chorus was very impactful and stays in your head even after the song finishes. The most memorable part is when the two comes together for the second half of the chorus, concentrating everything we have heard around it into a sequence of its own. The anthem style delivery and the simplicity of this sequence was super catchy and addictive. Overall, I think the pair really excelled in POPPIN’. I personally am not familiar with both members, but POPPIN’ definitely gives me reason to delve more into the pair. And the song? Well it is definitely POPPIN’. It leaves me with the feeling of when you want more of something, which results you in dragging your cursor to the replay button to satisfy that craving.
Fitting in with the fun vibes of the song, the music video for POPPIN’ features an employee and boss dynamic. Y plays the role of the employee, who is constantly scolded or shouted at by the boss, who is played by JangJun. Their acting was funny and lighthearted throughout the video. At the first chorus, we see Y imagine confronting JangJun and yelling back at him. In the second chorus sequence, we see that imagination become reality, which causes JangJun to remembers his time as an employee. Both forgive each other, as the pair proceed to party it up in the office at the end. Though I guess some actual office workers won’t be impressed by the mess which the pair makes during these party scenes. I liked their CCTV perspective and the use of technology to film this music video (though the constantly moving made it a bit overwhelming for me).
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9.6/10
Also making a Monday comeback is Golden Child with Ra Pam Pam. The song is the title track off their second studio-length album (titled Game Changer), which also dropped on Monday. This is Golden Child first comeback since their Yes and Burn It comeback at the very start of this year. In related Golden Child news, the group was scheduled to be one of the first groups to return to ‘offline concerts’ last month, but this was ultimately postponed due to a surge in local cases of COVID-19 in South Korea (which have affected a number of KPOP stars recently). I guess a bit more waiting is involved before we can see the Golden Child members (and other groups) up close and personal again. Glad that Ra Pam Pam was not affected.
Ra Pam Pam is a substantial track that allows Golden Child to both experiment and show off their skills in many departments. However, what I am missing in Ra Pam Pam is a robust bombastic sound that really highlights and emphasises the beat. That would have literally been a ‘game changer’ for me (trust me, when I get around to the album review, I will be using the same pun if the song evokes it). But instead, we were given a Moombahton beat. Personally, I felt that this was a bit too soft for my liking. Something metallic or electronic would have been ideal, in my point of view. Think of it as corners to a rectangle. I wanted something sharper like pointy corners, but Ra Pam Pam goes with rounder corners (sorry for going all geometry on you). That being said, the Moombahton influences, combined with the flutes, drums and other percussion in the instrumentation in Ra Pam Pam gave a nice Latin-pop like profile. Again, it isn’t an original idea. But I think Golden Child pulls it off well, especially since it is such an overused sound/genre in KPOP. For the vocals, I thought the group excelled in this department. Especially when it came to the choruses. The togetherness of the song’s main hook was really satisfying, addictive and catchy. I also like the syllable delivery approach in the chorus, giving Ra Pam Pam that sharpness I really wanted. The cleanness of the high note was quite good as well. I also really liked the rapping in this song. The energy that came from it and the momentum kept the song moving forward and was quite satisfying as well. Overall, Ra Pam Pam is quite satisfying as a whole song, but I just wanted something more honed and concentrated.
The music video of Ra Pam Pam is set in a dystopian future, with the members being sole survivals of what seems to be an alien invasion and an alien spaceship extracting energy from Earth. And per usual, the members of Golden Child are the ones to save the day. They monitor what is going on out there and hatch a plan to save what is left of the world. Only problem is that they cannot go out there as the dust is toxic and they only have two breathing apparatus. Daeyeol, who is over seeing his members being trapped in the confines of their refuge building, takes one breathing apparatus to shut down whatever machine has been set up to extract energy from Earth. Y follows him out there. The aliens catch on and destroy Y’s oxygen tank. Daeyeol makes the ultimate sacrifice by giving his breathing apparatus to Y before being shot in the back. However, he manages to key in the code and shut the machine down, which ends up wiping those masked aliens (or humans, not too sure). The other members go searching for the pair who is outside, only to find the atmosphere clear up. The members venture outside, and based on what their facial expressions, seem to realize that at least one of their own was killed to make it possible for them to go outside again. But it is revealed as a bit of a plot twist that Daeyeol may still be alive after all with the move of a finger. This music video is another case of a movie condensed into a span of 4 minutes. I hope there is some epilogue or a sequel to give me closure to the story. Only one small wish with this video – I just wished the ending font didn’t look so cheap.
While the song wasn’t as sharp, the choreography was. And I think this really showcase Golden Child’s performance skills once again. This was particularly observed during the ‘Ra Pam Pam‘ chorus hook, where they did Latin-styled dance moves and had a small bounce to said moves. I also liked their outfit concept for the comeback. It gives off sexy vibes that highlights their matureness and transition to ‘Golden Men’. Donghun and Jangjun really killed it on the style front this comeback.
Song – 8.5/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.8/10
Per the posting schedule, it is time for another album review. This time it is the latest mini-album from Golden Child, YES. This mini-album was unveiled at the end of January 2021. Burn It was the title track from the album and the group has since wrapped up promotions for. As of this week, Golden Child has started follow up promotions with Breathe, another track from the mini-album. Alongside these two songs, the album also features three other tracks and an introductory instrumental track (which per usual, I have not included in this album review. Continue reading to see whether the mini-album will earn a big YES from me.
3. Cool Cool – Cool Cool is what I would call a well-rounded song. I felt like I enjoyed every aspect of the song. The instrumental was quite cool (pun unintended). From the xylophones, to the striped back percussion of the first half of the chorus, to the brass that dominated the second half of the chorus. It all worked really cohesively together to form the song. I would have liked the song to be a little heftier, as that would really have made the song mind-blowing for me. Cool Cool also shines thanks to the vocals and rapping. The vocals really pushed the song from being ordinary to being quite dynamic through the high notes and their overall delivery. The rappers brought a really nice sense of edgy and punchiness to the song, making the song even more dynamic. (9/10)
4. Round n Round (기다리고 있어) – If you know me, you will probably know that I am attracted to songs with a bit of upbeat and lively energy. Round n Round seems to be the that track on this album. The electronic centric instrumentation gives the song a lot of texture. It also makes the song feel fulfilling and adds some interesting detailing to the background. I also like the bounce to the instrumentation, which really appeals to my affinity for this type of song. I really like the pop route they took with the chorus, which practically sold me the song within the first listen. The rappers also give the song a classy effect, while the vocalists do their usual thing with their great vocals. To me, Round n Round is this album’s hidden gem. (10/10)
5. Milky Way– Milky Way is no ballad, thanks to its instrumentation. But it feels like the album’s mandatory ballad thanks to its more downtempo approach. The song also leans more to the pop genre (maybe even pop rock to a certain extent). Once again, I like the synths used in the instrumental and how it was underlaid with some nice guitar work, which helps bring a bit of acoustic to the song. For the members, I enjoyed their vocals, especially those who sang the ‘Nothing without you’ line from the chorus. I also like the autotuned deep vocals that end the chorus. It all really makes Milky Way captivating and worth listening to. (9/10)
Congratulations to Golden Child for winning four of the categories in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards including Best Male Group, Best Male Group Choreography, Rising Star and Best Song of 2020 with ONE (Lucid Dream). To check out who else was voted to be the best in 2020, click here!
Golden Child is back! A month ago, they made their comeback with Burn It and their fifth mini-album, Yes. The comeback has proven to be a success, with the group scoring a few weekly KPOP show wins and edges the group closer to the top of the album charts. Golden Child also made their first appearance on the Gaon Digital Charts with the single. And it seems like the success has given them the opportunity to promote a follow-up single from the album. Today, the group dropped the music video and started promotions for Breathe, the final song on their Yes mini-album and the focus of this review. On a side note, I will be reviewing their mini-album and that album review will be out very soon!
Breathe taps Golden Child into the once-again common retro trend. And it is a fine track to kick back to, especially at the end of the album. What I really enjoyed about Breathe was the upbeat energy that comes off the song, particularly during the choruses. This isn’t hard-hitting like most songs we hear today which heavily utilises EDM and comes swinging at you in a relentless manner. Instead, Breathe comes off as quite pleasant and satisfying. There is also a nostalgic ring to the song. The pop dance track features synths that really make the song quite dynamic and appealing to me. What is also great about Breathe is how it present the members. The melodies are quite easy to get into, allowing the vocalists to be heard in a fulfilling manner. The ‘I Wanna Breathe‘ opening line to the chorus actually stuck with me, along with their other hook and melodies. The bridge is a prime example of how their vocals were highlighted in the song, with Bomin and Joochan bringing some steadiness to the song to make the final chorus that little more impactful for us. I also really liked how the rappers’ section had a groovier kick, allowing their rapping to fit into the song with a slightly more intense and dynamic background. The groovier kick still fits in with the pop tune of the song, of course! Overall, Breathe is definitely a nice track, with optimal energy being its biggest asset.
The image teasers leading up the follow-up promotions showed us Golden Child as volleyball players. In the music video, we see their high-school volleyball player personas train for a big game. It appears that Daeyeol and Y have a bit of a rift while practicing for the game. It leads to Y becoming quite moody and it also appears that he temporarily leaves the team (i.e. when he leaves his sweatband behind after practice). Joochan tries to hold him back, but he brushes him off. It turns out that Y doesn’t want to leave the team and comes after hours to continue practicing. Joochan joins him and gives him his sweatband to tell him that he is part of the team regardless of whatever he is experiencing. They have a bit of fun before Daeyeol appears in front of them. Y believes he is about to get scolded, but Daeyeol ends up throwing a ball at him. All is forgiven and they return with the team to train as a group. They go on to play the game, with the team scoring a win thanks to Y. The story is pretty cliché, but nice at the same time. Apart from the storyline, the music video features satisfying choreography shots. My favourite is the white shirts and demin jeans on the outside field. The colours just pop and look great.
I really like the entire routine. Like the song and music video, it just feels just right and it compliments all the other elements of this comeback quite well. The start was quite interesting. It was a nice soothing look on stage, before the first chorus kicks into gear. I also enjoyed the sharp moments in the chorus and how Golden Child performed in sync with one another on stage, giving this choreography a really polished look.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 8.5/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.9/10
Welcome to the announcement post of the winners for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. During the month of December in 2020, I opened up a survey for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Over 1800 of you voted during the month of December, a number that I did not expect to see! I am sure that you all are excited and are awaiting to see which artist has clinched victory in each category. I have definitely made you wait long enough 🙂
Like the previous years, I will announce the winners using GIFs and images. I have also announced the runners up for each category as Honourable Mentions below the GIFs. In addition to that, I have included the KPOPREVIEWED Choice, which is my personal pick for each category.
Unlike previous years, however, all of the winners of the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards (including the End of Year Charts and Best Song of 2020 Award) is included in this very one post! Towards the bottom of each post, you will see some page numbers. You can click on these page numbers to navigate to different award categories and the End of Year Charts. Here is a quick guide to the page numbers:
Page 1 – Artist Categories Page 2 – Visual Categories, Performance Categories, Weekly KPOP Charts related Categories Page 3 – Blog related Categories, Song Categories (excluding Best Song) Page 4 – End of Year Charts & Best Song of 2020 Award
The following categories are all fan-voted categories for the artists that were active during the eligible period of December 2019 to November 2020.
Select the page numbers below (just above the comments section) to go to the award categories you want to see the most! Page 1 – Artist Categories Page 2 – Visual Categories, Performance Categories, Weekly KPOP Charts related Categories Page 3 – Blog related Categories, Song Categories (excluding Best Song) Page 4 – End of Year Charts & Best Song of 2020 Award
The other group to make a Monday comeback today is Golden Child, who returns with Burn It and the mini-album, Yes. Golden Child had a pretty big year and it all started in the preceding year of 2019 through their Wannabe comeback. The group went on to release Without You and One (Lucid Dream) to form a trilogy of releases in which Golden Child explores a darker and mature side. In the midst of these comebacks, they also partipated in Road To Kingdom, before ending the year with the more chirper release of Pump It Up. Golden Child continues to venture out with their new release, kicking off what should be another big year for the group.
Burn It aligns with their more mature releases. My first impression of Burn It was that it felt plain. But why does it have that impression? Well, each of the three releases that formed part of that triology I mentioned in the previous paragraph had a really strong hook that captured my attention. Burn It had a few good hooks, butnone of them felt as as explicitly upfront as those hooks I could easily identify from the other songs I am comparing Burn It to. The good news is that the few re-listens I have given the song today so far to prep for this review has helped the song grow immensely on me. Now I find that the reggaeton styled dance track actually feels quite modern and smooth. Oh, you will always be surprised what a few more repeats of the song will do to you. To enhance the sleekness of the song, there is a bit of whistling in the background to really help emphasis this side of the song. The vocal work and melodies really help in this regard as well. It is also the melodies that help drive the song forward. TAG and Jangjun’s rapping really had a nice kick to it, giving the song that needed intensity fix. I just do miss that centrepiece that draws you in from the first listen. But Burn It comes together to be quite a cohesive track, satsifying the reviewer in me.
Korean media is very big on zombies. There are dramas that features the undead creatures. There are movies that features the same undead creatures. And for a brief while, they featured in the KPOP music videos. But it has definitely been a while since we have seen a zombie themed music video. And Golden Child really went for it in a video almost 7 minutes long. I won’t get into the exact details, but there were many subplots within the video. Family, romance, friendship and sacrifice. The main story of the video revovled around the romance side of the video, where one of the members fight to protect the lead actress. But it turns out the lead actress was bitten and slowly turned into a zombie. In her final moments, she tells her lover to not come near her. But he embraces her zombie form. We can only assume that she turns him at the end (though there was no clarification of that). I do like the subplots approach, because I am sure each subplot represents something larger. The interlude music in the video was a bit cringy and cliche for my liking. But obviously it was there to help build suspense to the final outcomes of each of the subplots (or their cliff hanging enders). I also wished they didn’t include the choreography shots, as those time slots could have been used to explore more of the stories. Have a separate video for the choreography, similar to what T-ARA used to do with their Cry Cry and Day By Day music videos.
The choreography is definitely quite intense and complicated. I really liked that intensity they fuse into the post-chorus hook sequences of the choreography. I also enjoyed the graceful moments of the verses, which felt fitting for the music and helped show off more of their performance skillset. I also really liked how the enitre group was essentially in sync for majority of the performance, emphasising that sleekness and attention to detail once again.
Song – 8.5/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.8/10