[Review] Electrified – Ha Sung Woon

Ha Sung Woon is nominated for Best Male Soloist, and his release, Sneakers, is also nominated for Best Male Choreography (Solo) in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Click here to support Ha Sung Woon and your other favourite artists.

Making his return yesterday as well was Ha Sung Woon. The title track of his sixth mini-album, Electrified: Urban Nostalgia, which also dropped yesterday is Electrified. His is Ha Sung Woon’s third comeback of the year, following the release of Sneakers in June and Strawberry Gum in August of this year. This also is the last release for Ha Sung Woon under Star Crew Entertainment, which he has been under since his debut in 2014 as part of HOTSHOT, which disbanded earlier this year.

Unlike what the title suggests, Electrified is not electrifying. It is more groovy and funky, in a laidback manner. While I do enjoy this style, I do think that what Electrified ended up being like was pretty typical and standard for nowadays, especially since groovy and funky has been really honed into this year once again. I wished that there was more of a zing to the song (i.e. be more electrifying) to match what I personally expecting from the song when I read it title. But I also think a bit of zing would have been helpful in giving Electrified some uniqueness to the song to set it apart from the rest of the other songs of a similar nature. But as I mentioned before, I am not troubled by the direction that Ha Sung Woon had ended up going in. I applaud the smooth consistency of the song throughout its almost four minute run. Had this been released earlier on in the retro and funky resurgence, I think Electrified would have been extremely satisfying to listen to. It is still satisfying at the moment, but just idea of the song sounding similar to others kind of gets in the way now of the feeling. Contributing to the smooth atmosphere of the song are Ha Sung Woon’s smooth vocals. While that might sound like the Electrified might be overly consistent, I find his breathy additions to be a nice change, yet also being within the boundaries of the smoothness parameter. His breathy moans throughout are quite memorable. The hooks and melodies felt subtle and don’t stick out as much like in other songs, but they still managed standout and had a nice ring to them as well. I also enjoyed the ‘La La La‘ at the end, especially with the slightly amped up instrumentation. I liked and enjoyed Electrified for the most part, but felt it could have been more individualised.

The music video was a bit bland for my taste. Ha Sung Woon essentially describes his feelings that the person who caught his attention in the lyrics. To match that type of vibe, we get a serenade from Ha Sung Woon to the female character in the video who is just browsing LPs. I did like the retro side of the video, with the LPs, the black and white style processing of photographs that is Ha Sung Woon’s job in this video and the neon lights. And I thought he looked good throughout the video. But aside from that, nothing else stands out for me.

It doesn’t seem like Ha Sung Woon is promoting Electrified and there isn’t much choreography in the music video (aside from some spinning), so I am skipping this part of the review. It won’t be factored into the score below.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Performance – 7.3/10

[Album Review] Sneakers / Select Shop (5th Mini Album / 5th Mini Album Repackaged) – Ha Sung Woon

As flagged earlier in the week, I am fast-tracking a recent album release for review this weekend as it is the repackaged version of an album I have yet to review (and this is something I might be doing more often, given my lag on this front). The album in question is Ha Sung Woon’s fifth mini-album, Sneakers, and the repackaged version, Select Shop. In total, we pretty much have a studio length album with the addition of five new songs on the repackaged album, on top of the seven songs on the original mini-album (numbers include the title tracks, Sneakers and Strawberry Gum). Because of that, this album review will be a lengthy one and there is no other reason to why I should delay launching into the review.

1. Cake – To me, Cake sounds quite pleasant and eases you into the album quite well. Despite the sweet-sounding title, the song isn’t that sweet. Rather it feels quite fresh and it is the type of song you want to listen to on a pleasant day out in Spring. The cheerful energy thanks to the brass and Ha Sung Woon’s tone was appreciable. But while I would say all the elements across the board in Cake were all pleasant, Cake wasn’t the most memorable number on this album. (8/10)

2. Strawberry Gum (ft. Don Mills) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Strawberry Gum. (8/10)

3. Let’s SingLet’s Sing has that retro pop rock style that could easily have slid into Hairspray or similar musicals. Ha Sung Woon’s vocals were really strong, especially his high note. It is a fun number that definitely makes me want to sing and dance, fulfilling its lyrics. My only criticism about Let’s Sing is regarding the chorus. It should have been punchier and more defined. The chorus we got did a good job, but I was expecting something more dynamic. If that was the case and Let’s Sing had a bulkier hook and a more colorful instrumental, I think this would have been a standout track. (8.5/10)

4. Galaxy DustGalaxy Dust has this atmospheric and aesthetic aura to it. This does a good job of pulling me in, almost hypnotic in a way. The synths and instrumentation was quite light and airy, which helped make the song a nice listen. The same can be said with Ha Sung Woon’s vocals. They were extremely pleasant and smooth throughout. It was such an amazing listen. Before I knew it, Galaxy Dust was over, and I was reaching for the replay button. (10/10)

5. Magic WordMagic Word is one of the songs that I thought the album could have done without. It isn’t a terrible song. I just wasn’t memorable and was forgettable. The instrumental was definitely unique, but in an obnoxious sense. It was a bit too abstract for my liking, and I do like abstract. It was also quite distracting, blocking me from enjoying Ha Sung Woon’s nice vocals. I kept on mistaking the vibrations to be notifications on my phone, and the water drop synths and co. just felt a bit much. (6/10)

6. Sneakers (스니커즈) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Sneakers. (9/10)

7. On & OnOn & On start off the Sneakers mini-album, but has been moved to the seventh song on the tracklist of the repackaged album. On & On is another pleasant mid-tempo pop ballad track, that brings forth very retro roots via its synthesizer-based instrumentation and percussion. Ha Sung Woon also sounds heavenly throughout the song, smooth and delicate being words I would use to describe the soloist in On & On. Definitely a great and somewhat unique take on the retro style. (8/10)

8. Why Don’t You See A Movie? (영화 한 편 볼까 하는데) – The Sneakers mini-album diverts to a more subdued and laidback sound. This is another song that I felt the album could have done without. Once again, Why Don’t You See A Movie? isn’t a terrible song. It just made me sleepy and didn’t have much going on to be as appealing as other songs on the album. The acoustic R&B instrumental paired with Ha Sung Woon’s falsetto vocals felt like something I would listen to while you venture into dreamland. (6/10)

9. Eeny Meeny Miny Moe – Similar to the preceding song, Eeny Meeny Miny Moe isn’t something I am head over heels for. It is still a nice listen (once again, Ha Sung Woon’s vocals are in very pleasant territory), and I feel that the song’s melodies and jazzy instrumentation does a good job of keeping the song churning along (and so doesn’t tire you out this time around). But it, compared to other songs on the album, just wasn’t up there. (7/10)

10. Don’t Leave Me Alone (겨우살이) – It seems like the album is stuck in a bit of a rut. Don’t Leave Me Alone is the third song that I am not that into. Don’t Leave Me Alone is a R&B track that does a good job of bringing forth breathy vocals. I do feel like Don’t Leave Me Alone gets better as it progresses, but it was quite a consistent number from start to end, which resulted in it feeling like a blur when I listen to the album in the background. (6.5/10)

11. Bus – We are definitely stuck in a rut at the back end of this album. Bus is the fourth song that is on the slower side of music. But I think Bus is more captivating than the rest, which makes it stand out amongst the five songs (including the next song) of this section of the album. Ha Sung Woon’s airy and husky tone in Bus helped made the song feel different. And the whispering delivery of some of the lines were quite unique. The slow but pleasant instrumentation may not have been memorable, but it did a good job of carrying the vocals without smothering or overpowering them. It is definitely a song that I wouldn’t mind listening to again, thanks to its individualistic style. (8/10)

12. Starlight (야광별) – The album finishes with another slow song. This time, a straight forward ballad. Starlight is another good song to listen to if you want something to fall asleep to, thanks to Ha Sung Woon’s delicate and paced vocals, and the traditional piano style instrumental. On a more positive note, however, Starlight has this warm feel and had a nice finish as both a song and an ender to the album. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.7/10

[Review] Strawberry Gum – Ha Sung Woon ft. Don Mills

Apologies for another impromptu break once again. But I am back and will try to get through as many reviews over the coming few days. Today, I will be focusing on a release from Monday. Alongside ONF and The Boyz, Ha Sung Woon made his solo comeback with the repackaged version of his fifth mini-album. Originally titled Sneakers (which was also the title of the title track), Ha Sung Woon has re-titled the mini-album to Select Shop. Leading Select Shop is Strawberry Gum, which features Don Mills. Later this upcoming weekend, I will be fast tracking the album review for Sneakers/Select Shop as it has been on my radar for a couple of weeks for review already. But until then, here is my review for Strawberry Gum.

Personally, I feel Ha Sung Woon has an impossible task of upping the likes of Sneakers. It has become my favourite title track from the soloist, and its energy and vibrancy has managed to develop it into an addictive track. As expected, Strawberry Gum just doesn’t hit that same mark for me (let alone, surpass it). To me, I thought the new song lacked that vibrancy and energy that made his previous title track stand out and catapult it to the top. However, that doesn’t mean that Strawberry Gum is a bad song in anyway, nor did it lack such elements. It had all of that. But it just didn’t hit home for me. Strawberry Gum taps into the retro funk style of music that seems to elicit the need to get up and dance. The chorus was the peak of the effect. But the pull for this to happen just wasn’t the same as the previous comeback. Part of this was simply because I didn’t find the song to be that innovative. And the vibrancy just wasn’t as high as Sneakers. The song definitely played to his strengths, but it felt safe and was more of a ‘traditional’ take on the retro/funk genres. Don Mills featured in the second verse, rapping his way through the song. I liked how Don Mills didn’t distract you from the song. Rather, he blended in really well into Strawberry Gum, keeping the song consistent and helping drive the song forward. I think there was a bit of a sacrifice by keeping the raps close to the song’s profile, but I thought it was clever for reasons already mentioned. Throughout Strawberry Gum, I felt Ha Sung Woon’s vocals were very consistent and showed off some nice restraint. The most impressive display of such skills was during the bridge of the song. His delivery added some much needed oomph to the song, the high note we got added some smoothness to the song and the slight addition of autotune at the start of the section to accompany his vocals gave off some nice texture. Overall, Strawberry Gum is pleasant and nice. But if I were to pick, Sneakers is more up my alley.

Ha Sung Woon changes from a janitor to the centre of the party in the music video for this release. For the most part, the video is reflective of the song. Pleasant and nice. But it isn’t something that I find myself replaying because I thought it was gripping or captivating. Just pleasant and nice, for me. What I did like in the video was the different hairstyles that Ha Sung Woon had. I felt the hair stylists really outdone themselves with the four hairstyles that showed off different sides of the artist. I also enjoyed Don Mill’s appearance in the video. Always nice to have the featuring artist appear in the video.

But unfortunately, he doesn’t appear on stage. Instead, the rap sequence was delivered by Ha Sung Woon’s friend, Ravi (from VIXX). I liked how energetic the performance was and how bouncy the moves were. The moonwalk and the ‘Be-Be-Be-Baby Love Me‘ part in the hook were my favourite parts of the performance. I also liked the tinge of cuteness Ha Sung Woon gives the performance via his facial expressions, which I am sure fans enjoy.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] Sneakers – Ha Sung Woon

Also making his comeback yesterday is Ha Sung Woon with Sneakers, the title of both the lead single and mini-album. This is Ha Sung Woon’s first comeback in 2021, with his last being Forbidden Island and Mirage from November of last year. This is also his first comeback since the confirmed disbandment of HOTSHOT. It is always disappointing to hear the disbandment of a group, but at least fans could have some closure with the confirmation of the disbandment, especially since it has been almost three years since we last heard from the group (their last comeback was without Ha Sung Woon and titled I Hate You). But sad news aside, we are hear to listen to Sneakers today!

Sneakers had a slow yet pleasant start. I guess the intention of this is to start the song from point zero, as there was a patient buildup in the instrumentation as we progress through the first verse. The pleasantry of this part is the melody, which brings out Ha Sung Woon’s soft vocals really nicely. What came next is pretty unexpected. I don’t think anyone suspected the burst of vibrant energy and super upbeat nature that was Sneakers‘ chorus. Firstly, it is the highlight of the song for me. The chorus is always the central part of a song, and so it should standout. And that is exactly what we get in Sneakers. Secondly, the vibrant energy (thanks to the influx of percussion) is just so catchy and memorable. I also really like the bounce to the song, which is so cool. Same goes for all the melodies we get throughout this section of the song. And thirdly, the chorus brought a smile to my face. And I guess that is thanks to the same vibrant energy (and may also be due to the music video, but I will get to that soon). Once the first chorus, the second verse doesn’t revert back to the slow pace of the first verse entirely. Instead, it keeps the beat going for a bit, which is great, The slowness does return as part of the pre-chorus, though I think this helps make the second chorus feel even more explosive. We get a brief stripping of the instrumentation for the bridge, before a quick buildup to the final chorus. Ha Sungwoon’s vocals in this part sounds so good and I really like how clear it is. Ha Sungwoon shows off more of this vocals in the final chorus, with high notes and ad-libs. Overall, I really enjoyed Sneakers, as it is vibrant and a super fun track that makes me smile.

I feel the music video is very relatable, especially due to the past year. A lot of us were in lockdown for the most part of 2020, staying away from strangers and the world in hopes not to contract the COVID-19 virus. And Ha Sungwoon portrays that in this music video. However, I think Ha Sungwoon is isolating for other reasons other than a pandemic. He is in bunker and he basically locked himself in there. He also has a lot of supplies that looks like it might last him a while. While he was reaching for a new water bottle, he knocked over a box that contains some sneakers. Memories of times where he was hanging outside start flooding back and he even reminisces about those time. In the end, he decides to leave the bunker to re-experience those memories and it appears to be the best decision he has ever made, enjoying the fresh air and sunlight that he sees for the first time. I guess it helps that your bunker is in a prime location like how his one was. Though scenes of him enjoying the sun and air, along with his memories of those times, brought a smile to my face. It all looked very genuine, and his enjoyment is easily transferred to you.

A really energetic performance accompanies the release of Sneakers. While this is expected, I really think Ha Sungwoon and the dancers went above and beyond, incorporating jumps that are high and take up a lot of your energy. I do think there is opportunity for more footwork throughout the performance, to really show off the sneakers. This is on the basis (and I hope) there are some awesome sneakers worn during the promotional period.

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

[Album Review] Mirage (4th Mini Album) – Ha Sung Woon

Ha Sung Woon is nominated for Best Male Solo Performance (for Forbidden Island) in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Click here to support Ha Sung Woon and your other favourite artists if you haven’t yet! Remember voting closes on the 31st of December 11:59PM AEST.

Next up on the reviewing chopping block is Ha Sung Woon’s latest mini-album, Mirage. This release was dropped (alongside the title track Forbidden Island) on November 9th, which makes this mini-album overdue by a month. Better late than never, as I always say. This is his fourth mini-album since his solo debut back in February 2019 with Bird. This is was also his second comeback of the year, following the release of Get Ready and Twilight Zone in June of this year. Okay, enough of the rundown of Ha Sung Woon’s solo music history, let’s move onto the album review.

Mirage Album Cover

1. Forbidden Island (그 섬) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Forbidden Island. (9/10)

2. Candle Light (촛불)Candle Light is a nice pop track. The pop instrumentation, which is made up of a a mixture of piano/thumping beats and soft EDM, is quite breezy and extremely pleasant. The melodies are quite flowy and enjoyable, helping to strength the appeal of this song. What Candle Light also does well is showcase Ha Sung Woon’s vocals. He sounds quite hearty in this song and I can detect a level of sweetness which helps with the melodic appeal of the song. (9/10)

3. 2000 Miles – How awesome does 2000 Miles sound? The EDM chorus feels well suited for a Summer road trip or as the theme song for when you are exploring something new for the first time. I like the addition of the acoustic guitars. It adds that fresh Summery feeling on top of the bouncy EDM instrumentation. For Ha Sung Woon’s vocals, he does a spectacular job in this song. From the added vocal effects to his falsetto, I genuine enjoyed every aspect of this song. (10/10)

4. Without You (행성)Without You is another song that combines EDM with the acoustic guitar. But Without You is less energetic and is much softer. Instead, Without You comes off as a pop ballad. Ha Sung Woon is killing it on this album with the sweet nature behind his voice. It is so appealing. The atmospheric vibes of the song makes it even better and well suited for my palette. Overall, Without You is another great song to relax to! (10/10)

5. Talk To Me (말해줘요) – Once again, Ha Sung Woon goes does the pop ballad route for Talk To Me. There is a bit of a slow rock vibe to it, which differentiates it from the rest of the mini-album, which I think it is fantastic change (give that the song all practically stem from the pop genre). While I would love to give this mini-album its third 10/10, I am not going to as I am not sold on the vocals. They were good, but they didn’t feel as grounded as the other vocals we had in this album. I did love the electric guitar solo, which felt like icing on a cake for me. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.4/10

Mirage Teaser Image

[Review] Forbidden Island – Ha Sung Woon

Today, Ha Sung Woon continues his solo career with his latest comeback, Forbidden Island, which is the title track of his fourth mini-album, Mirage. It follows the release of Get Ready and Twilight Zone earlier this year. It is interesting to remind ourselves that Ha Sung Woon was once a member of HOTSHOT. I am a little surprised that he has yet to make an official return of HOTSHOT group’s promotions. It could potentially be that the group has gone on a hiatus due to military enlistments. But as Ha Sung Woon continues to make solo comebacks and his company continues to remain silent on a potential return, it is looking more like Ha Sung Woon had unofficially left the group’s lineup.

Forbidden Island is one of those songs that manages to surprises me as I listen to the song. And if you have already checked out the song, you probably know what I am talking about. There isn’t much to the start of the song aside from a building atmospheric instrumental piece and some clicks. I did like how he put forwards a raspy and breathy version of his vocals, further heightening the suspense that is slowly building. Nothing really happens until we reach the chorus. It changes up the song completely, driving forward with falsetto vocals and a funky instrumental (made up of guitar and percussion) that instantly lights up with energy. You could tell that a change up was bound to happen given how the song started. But what we got was not something I had expected. And I am digging it. The second verse pretty much is the same concept as the first, just the background has a little more momentum to make it feel appropriate following the first chorus. The bridge was stunning with the slowdown. It felt like it returned to how the song started, just without the suspense building in the background. His vocals, once again, stand out here, with an impressive high note. And the slowdown, per usual, makes the final chorus more vibrant and punchier. Overall, Forbidden Island is a strong release and possibly one of his best to date.

The music video shows a world without people, as suggested by Ha Sung Woon as he sings about this ‘Forbidden Island‘. He wants to be lead there by the person he is singing to – where we can only assume that life is infinity times better than with people. It sounds like an introvert’s dream. The setting of this video looked quite aesthetic, especially the scenes that one could describe as ‘in the dark’. I am talking specifically about the scenes where he is sitting on a chair surrounded by flowers, a circle that you can make out on the floor and some stage fog, or the scenes where is head is surrounded by colourful crystal-like structures. Even his choreography scenes and outdoor scenes looked really stunning.

You might feel that lifting people as part of a dance routine is something that happens quite a bit on stage. But I am impressed with the complexity of the lifting that happens in this particular routine. At the start, he is instantly lifted upon walking into the arms of the dancers. Towards the end, he is lifted to slide over one of the dancers in a really unique take of the move. Pretty much made me go wow. I also really liked how in sync he was with the dancers for the chorus and the duo moment that Ha Sung Woon and one of the dancers had during the second verse.

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

[Album Review] Twilight Zone (3rd Mini Album) – Ha Sung Woon

Feature Image of Ha Sung Woon's Album, Twilight Zone

Ha Sung Woon made his return earlier this month with Get Ready, which is the title track off his 3rd mini-album, Twilight Zone. I have already reviewed the song on the day of its release and now it is time for the album to be reviewed. As an overall summary (but not to spoil all my thoughts on the album), it is definitely a high quality sounding album with a lot of great tracks. For more detailed views on each of the song, you will need to continue reading. Let’s see how his sidetracks faired.

Twilight Zone Album Cover

1. Lazy Lovers – Opening up Twilight Zone is Lazy Lovers, which is a nice pop track that showcases Ha Sung Woon talents in an easygoing and trendy manner. The track is quite upbeat, features a strong retro rhythm and has a subtle funkiness that eases you into the next song. I also like his voice in this song. He switches between a falsetto and a standard pitch, which gives the song some texture in terms of his voice. The melodies and hooks to the song were also quite enjoyable. While they were relatively mild, there was a decent level of appeal to them, which helped make this song a good entrance piece for the album. (8/10)

2. Get Ready (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Get Ready. (7.5/10)

3. PuzzlePuzzle is another dance-pop track that has an appealing instrumental. It is also another enjoyable track, though I do not that it just doesn’t get past that ‘enjoyable’ label (i.e. it could have been exciting as a possible next level descriptor). The song features heavy bass during the chorus to give it that driving force and this contrasts with the lighter verse. I also like how ‘jabby’ the chorus instrumental felt, which felt fun and appealing. So were the melodies, his vocals and the ‘Fill in the blanks for me’ hooks, which ties into the song’s message quite nicely (i.e. the person he is singing to is the missing puzzle piece in his life). (8/10)

4. Lie – To me, Lie is the hidden gem on this album. It sounds like a pop-rock ballad, which is something that I really enjoy. Ha Sung Woon’s vocals bring a nice colour to the song and there is a subtle level of emotion that makes it appealing. It isn’t heavy-handed, allowing this song to be a great song to be playing in the background on a relaxing day. I really like the melodies in this song, especially when it came to the chorus. The ‘Lie’ in the chorus was pretty memorable. On a side note regarding his vocals, he sounded a lot like Kim Sung Gyu (leader and main vocalist of Infinite) in this song. It also doesn’t help that the genre is also commonly associated with Kim Sung Gyu as well. I had to do a double-take while listening to this song to ensure I didn’t actually click on a Kim Sung Gyu song. But no, it is Ha Sung Woon and I think this is a great compliment, especially since Kim Sung Gyu is one of my favourite vocalists. (10/10)

5. Curiou’s (궁금‘s) – We now return to an undeniably fun number. In comparison to the other songs on this album, it might feel a little overwhelming to some. But I don’t mind it. Once again, I really like the melodies in this song. The melodies are a lot more playful and refreshing to me, which is a really strong appealing point. I also like the energy that his voice adds to the song. The instrumental feel just right and I liked the textural components to it. To me, it easily could have been a follow-up release to Bird, as it seems to have similar energy (just this one is a lot more amped up). The only troubling issue with the song is the title and the presence of the apostrophe. I don’t think it was ever explained, nor is it referenced in the song (though the Hangul is apostrophed, though I m unsure of the significance of this). So, I am a little confused with it. But other than that, another great song. (9/10)

6. Twinkle Twinkle – The jazzy vibes to the instrumental and the way Ha Sung Woon’s vocals sound during the verses are probably its memorable moments. It is also the only song to really have my attention grabbed from the start, as it definitely puts it best foot forward first. As the song progresses, his vocals get better, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I also really like how his vocals are in the forefront of the song. They come off strong and very bold, whilst the instrumental only feels like an accompaniment. It is an odd balance, but one that pays off. It ends the album on a very positive note. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Twilight Zone Teaser Image
Recommended Sign

[Review] Get Ready – Ha Sung Woon

This Monday is loaded with comebacks and I won’t be able to get through all of them today (as I am running out of time to write them – the album review took a lot longer to write than expected). Apologies in advance. The rest of them will come Kicking us off with this week’s intense influx of comeback is Ha Sung Woon, who makes his return with Get Ready. This track is the title track off his 3rd mini-album, Twilight Zone, which was also released today. This is the soloists first comeback of 2020 and since the release of Blue mid-last year. Since this Blue comeback, Ha Sung Woon has been busy with a solo concert, collaborations, charity work and an OST release (based on his Wikipedia profile). After that busy absence from the music scene, let’s hear how his return fairs.

Prior to the release of Get Ready, we were promised with a funky number as his comeback title track. And that funkiness was delivered from the first second. Funky guitars and the featuring of one brass sound kicks us off into a very dynamic and upbeat track. During the verses, we got to hear some nice vocal work and I really liked the falsetto part (this funky falsetto combination reminded me to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines for a brief moment). However, I didn’t like that sudden change up for the pre-chorus, which weakened the song in my opinion. Interestingly though, it felt fine in the second verse. It just doesn’t sit well with as part of the first verse and catches me off guard as it cuts the flow of the song. The chorus is no doubt the catchiest section, with it kicking up the energy of the song and applying more of the brass to up the funk. While add more brass makes logical sense to input more energy and funk into the song, I do have the concern that the brass overpowered the chorus and it doesn’t let the melodies or hooks (and hence vocals) shine. I think the melodies and hooks were fine as they were and the producers could have gone with a less overwhelming brass line. Apart from those falsetto moments, Get Ready‘s bridge was another favourite section, as it provided a bit of relief from the two choruses that surrounded it and allowed for Ha Sung Woon to show off his vocals before the brass drowned them out. The melody was smooth and the ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah‘ was quite catchy.

The music video starts off with a very mysterious sequence. We don’t have much context to the video, so everything is quite confusing. So here is a literal breakdown of what I see occurring. We see Ha Sung Woon swim to a house under the ocean. He enters the house while its under water, where there is a house party going on. He is thrust into the party (which looks really boring). He reflect that exact same feeling with some of the part goers later on in the video. About part way into the video, we see the house vibrating and Sung Woon jumps out of the house with a life buoy. Good thing he took that life buoy as he ends up floating away with it and the house was revealed to be floating in the sky. I would definitely like to know what this all means as I have no clue, even once I put it into words. What I can say is that the video looks quite good. His orange hair is a miss for me, even though I get Joker vibes from it.

While we haven’t seen a full performance just yet, what we managed to see in the music video promises a few things. The chemistry with the dancers make it look very appealing and adds that lighthearted vibe to the performance. The chorus looks fun and likable, especially how the dancers jump out from behind Ha Sung Woon for the final chorus. That looks unique. Overall, it looks dynamic and very fitting for the music.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.3/10

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Song-Based Categories

It is that time of the year again where I announce the winners for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. In December 2019, I allowed the audience (you all), once again, to vote for their favourite songs and artists for the December 2018 to November 2019 period. Thank you to all who voted and participated in the KPOPREVIEWED Awards this time around. Even more people voted this year, making this year more intense than ever in many categories. This post will focus on the song-based categories, which will also involve the Performance categories, Best Music Video, Best Concept and the most voted song (by you all). The winners for the artist categories will be posted in an accompanying post today, while the Top 100 songs of 2019 will be posted tomorrow.

Here is how things are going to work. Each category (aside from the non-fan voted categories, which are specified) will have a WINNER (the song/performance/video that ranked first), a Honourable Mention (the song/performance/video that ranked second) and a KPOPREVIEWED Choice (my personal choice if I voted, which I didn’t include this year). And let’s go!


Best Special Performance

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Egostistic Cover (AOA) at Queendom


Best Concept

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – HIP (Mamamoo)


Best Solo Choreography

Nominees: Blue (Ha Sung Woon); Focus (Kim Dong Han); Gotta Go (Kim Chungha); LALALAY (Sunmi); L.O.V.E (Park Ji Hoon); Twit (Hwasa – Mamamoo); WANT (Taemin – SHINee); What Are You Up To? (Kang Daniel); What You Waiting For? (Anda & R.Tee); Ya (Lee Minhyuk – BTOB).

WINNER – WANT (Taemin)
Honourable Mention – Gotta Go (Kim Chungha)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – LALALAY (Sunm
i)


Best Male (Group) Choreography

Nominees: All Night (ASTRO); Boom (NCT Dream); HIT (Seventeen); Hollywood (AB6IX); Humph! (Pentagon); Love Shot (EXO); RPM (SF9); Say My Name (ATEEZ); Side Effects (Stray Kids); You Calling My Name (GOT7).

WINNER – Love Shot (EXO)
Honourable Mention – HIT (Seventeen)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Side Effects (Stray Kids)


Best Female (Group) Choreography

Nominees: Bon Bon Chocolat (EVERGLOW); Boogie Up (WJSN); Butterfly (LOONA); DALLA DALLA (ITZY); HIP (Mamamoo); Pinky Star (Run) (GWSN); Sunrise (GFriend); The Fifth Season (Oh My Girl); Violeta (IZ*ONE); Zimzalabim (Red Velvet).

WINNER – Butterfly (LOONA)
Honourable Mention – HIP (Mamamoo)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Zimzalabim (Red Velvet)


Best Collaboration

Nominees: Blossom (Eunha & Ravi); Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey); Don’t Need Your Love (NCT Dream & HRVY); I Wanna Be (Key ft. Kim Soyeon); Spring (Park Bom ft. Sandara Park)

WINNER – Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey)
Honourable Mention – Don’t Need Your Love (NCT Dream & HRVY)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey)


Best Music Video

Nominees: Abandoned (Brown Eyed Girls); Above The Time (IU); Crown (TXT); Feel Special (TWICE); HIT (Seventeen); Love Drunk (Epik High ft. Crush); Noir (Sunmi); Snapping (Kim Chungha); You Calling My Name (GOT7); Zimzalabim (Red Velvet)

WINNER – Obsession (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Feel Special (TWICE)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – HIT (Seventeen)


Best International Song By A Korean Artist

Nominees: Breakthrough (TWICE – Japanese); Flower (GFriend – Japanese); Lights (BTS – Japan); Moonwalk (WAYV – China); Someone’s Someone (Monsta X – US).

WINNER – Breakthrough (TWICE – Japan)
Honourable Mention – Moonwalk (WAYV – China)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Breakthrough (TWICE – Japan)


Best Official Soundtrack (OST)

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – We All Lie (Ha Jin- Sky Castle OST)


Most Viewed Review of 2019

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Goblin (Sulli)


Most Viewed Album Review of 2019

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – BXXX (Ha Sung Woon)


Songs With Most Win on Weekly KPOP Charts

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Time Of Our Life (DAY6)
WINNER – HIP (Mamamoo)


Best Non-Title Track

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Ten Nights (Mamamoo)


Best Album

Nominees: Love Poem (IU); Narcissus (SF9); Purpose (Taeyeon – SNSD); The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6); Want (Taemin – SHINee)

WINNER – Love Poem (IU)
Honourable Mention – The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6)


Most Voted For Song of 2019

WINNER – Obsession (EXO)


And that brings us to the end of the Song-Based Categories for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t seen the Artist-Based Categories yet, click here.

Tomorrow, we will get to see which artist ranked on the Top 100 of the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Charts, where the song that ranks first becomes the ‘Best Song of 2019’. Remember this is decided based on the votes for Best Song of 2019 (50%) and the Weekly KPOP Charts that I post every Sunday (50%). Will EXO’s Obsession become the ‘Best Song of 2019’ officially? You can find out by clicking here (hyperlink will be updated once the post is published).

[Album Review] BXXX (2nd Mini Album) – Ha Sung Woon (HOTSHOT)

It is time to return to solo acts. Hahaha… As far as I know (at this stage), this is the only solo act album review I will be doing for the time being (I have decided to drop Kang Daniel’s solo debut mini-album as I didn’t find anything interesting on the album. Apologies ahead of time, if that is what you are expecting). Today, we will be looking closely at Ha Sungwoon, who is already onto his second mini-album, BXXX. I skipped his first mini-album (My Moment) for the exact same reason why I am skipping Kang Daniel’s. But this time around, with a more dynamic title track, I thought the album had a little more to offer. And that is why we are here today!

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BXXX Album Cover

1..Bluemaze – Starting off the BXXX album is Bluemaze. I have listened to it a few times now and I am slowly falling for it. There are a few reasons to why Bluemaze. The song has a very soothing and chilled tone, which makes it so appealing to listen to. There is a modern touch to the song, thanks to the instrumental. It’s a complex mix from what I can hear. But they do it without feeling too heavy, which is totally great! Ha Sungwoon’s vocals shine throughout. His falsetto helps makes the track extra soothing and (to an extent) help form a memorable sound to the song. (8.5/10)

2. Blue (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Blue. (9/10)

3. Riding (Pre-Release Track) (ft. Gaeko from Dynamic Duo)Riding was released 5th of June, a month prior to the release of the album. It is a pop track that seems to dabble a bit into R&B as well. It is a pleasant tune to put on in the background. I thought Sungwoon was well-showcased, vocally. Especially in the choruses. I really like the song’s melody, which I can thank the amount of listens I have given the song already (as we have been listening to the track for almost two months now). Gaeko’s part was probably the most forgettable and he didn’t really seem to add much to the atmosphere. (7/10)

4. Excuse MeExcuse Me starts off with some acoustic guitars, which were then masked away into the background of this nice sounding track. While the song did have a nice tone to it and a somewhat playful vibe, the instrumental gave it a very typical feel. Sungwoon sounds nice but it seems like this typical feel just spread over to the vocals as well. Basically, what I am saying is that Excuse Me had a ‘done before’ type of aura coming from it. So, it wasn’t impressive. But don’t get me wrong. Excuse Me is not a horrible song and still has a pleasant atmosphere surrounding it. I found the chorus to have a nice ring to it, thanks to the ‘Excuse Me’ repetition found at the end of each chorus. (7/10)

5. What Are You Doing Today? – Right from the very start, we are shown the more playful and whimsical side of Ha Sungwoon for the track. There is bright energy from the song, suitable for Ha Sungwoon to ask his lover to have some fun and run away from the stresses of life. It’s upbeat and puts you into a good mood as soon as the chorus is played. I liked his vocals in this track, as it is something we haven’t heard on this album. I like his falsettos. Come ot the think of it, his vocals do remind me of his last title track, Bird. Overall, a nice ender to the album. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

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BXXX Teaser Image

[Review] Blue – Ha Sungwoon (HOTSHOT)

One of the biggest success stories of 2019 has to be the individual paths that each of the former Wanna One members have taken since their disbandment. It has given us amazing debuts and returns to their original groups. And while we are awaiting the last of them to debut as a solo artist, we are now entering the wave of comebacks from these solo members. Back in May, we saw the return of Yoon Ji Sung with I’ll Be There. We will be seeing the return of Bae Jin Young as part of CIX later this month. And today, we saw the return of Ha Sung Woon with Blue.

To me, Blue already sounds so much more appealing than Bird. Though I did review Bird favourably, I did find that the solo debut track ended up being very forgettable. Blue conforms to the more typical trends of music that we hear all too often nowadays. But this isn’t a flaw, like in other tracks. I find Blue to be very dynamic, thanks to both the vocals and instrumentation. Ha Sung Woon’s vocals shine once again in this track. I like the way he drags his words out during the pre-chorus, making the drop we get during the chorus to be a little more impactful. The way he incorporated an airy tone during the bridge was quite memorable. I found his vocals in the chorus to be quite striking, complimenting the bounciness of the instrumental. The rest of his singing in the track was very clear and crisp. Likewise, I found the mid-tempo pop instrumental to be very fresh. I like the moody tone of the song, especially with the piano at the start. The chorus ended up being unexpected upbeat and bouncy (as mentioned) but it somehow worked well with the rest of the song’s tone.

With a track titled Blue, it does make sense to have the music video featuring a lot of blue. And that is what this video does. Interestingly, it deviates from the use of vibrant blues, as you would expect with upbeat tracks in the Summer season. Instead, the music video uses a lot of grey-blue and features a darker tone, matching the music’s heavy and emotional tone. Another good aspect, even though it has been done a fair bit over the years, is the choreography shots on the water. Though, I think this is the first time that a music video taking it a step further by showcasing Ha Sung Woon with a wet shirt while dancing, which I don’t remember anyone else doing before. (Don’t quote me on that, my memory isn’t that great).

Something that I have yet to mention is the 180-degree turn that Blue takes in comparison to Bird. The sound is a lot mature, the visuals are a lot gloomier. But it is the performance that really strikes me hard. The choreography takes on a more mature and artistic tone, which I think draws my attention more to the stage. It also shows off his dancer side. His stylist choice to dress him in satin or silky looking suits really work well with this concept.

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

 

[Review] Bird – Ha Sungwoon (HOTSHOT)

Last week, we saw Yoon Ji Sung make his solo debut with In The Rain. But it is time we see another former Wanna One member return. Yesterday, Ha Sungwoon returned as a solo artist for the very first time. He made his debut with the title track Bird, which is featured from the mini-album, My Moment. He is also the second member of his original group, HOTSHOT, to make his solo debut. Fellow member Roh Taeyhyun, who also partipcated alongside Ha Sungwoon in Produce 101 Season 2, made his solo debut a few weeks back with I Wanna Know.

Bird is an upbeat pop track that really throws his vocals to the forefront of the song.  Sungwoon is one of the main vocalists of Wanna One but we don’t often hear much of him due to the number of members in the group. So Bird does a lot in terms of showcasing his vocals. I am also glad he went with a pop track rather than a ballad. It does feel like a cliche route for main vocalists to choose a ballad (not that I have anything against it. I just want some variety). He has nice vocals as a result and I really like how he sings in falsetto for the parts of the chorus. It gives off a nice texture and really reflects well with the sweet and pleasing instrumental. In the second verse, he goes into a rap-singing mode. I honestly felt that they could have inserted a featuring rapper here. Not because he was terrible at rapping but rather I felt we needed something to offset the sweetness of the song. I think the ‘I Sweety Bird’ line was probably his catchiest and most memorable moment of the song. Overall, it is a strong solo debut that shows his strengths.

Fitting with the title of the track, Sungwoon flies throughout the music video. Not in a literal sense but rather his imagination. In the song, he likens the feelings of love to a bird flying (at least that is how I interpreted the lyrics). I also find the video to also be as equally as a sweet as the song and this is thanks to the colour palette of the video.  Very bright but not in the way where it feels too young. I did find the music video a tad boring but that was my personal thoughts regarding the video. I think a lot of people, including his fans, would appreciate the music video for the slight cuteness.

The choreography also features some flying as well. Once again, not literal. Instead, the backup dancers are pocking up the lighted box that he sits on. Talking about the lighted box, I actually like the moment the light turns on. I also like how the choreography doesn’t rely on any complex moves but its ‘simple’ moves manage to give it the same feeling as a complicated dance routine.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10