[Review] Umbrella – H&D

This particular comeback occurred a month ago on the 23rd of September, so once again apologies for the month-delayed review. H&D (Hangyul & Dohyun) returned on that mentioned date for the final time as a duo with Umbrella, the title of both the lead single and their special mini-album. Don’t be alarm as this won’t be the final time we will be seeing the pair, though. The two have been confirmed to be making their debut once again as part of BAE173, Pocketdol Studio’s first male group. Both members have already appeared in individual teasers for this upcoming group, who is set to debut sometime in the near future.

Umbrella is very different to SOUL, which was the pair’s debut track. For those who may not remember, SOUL was an edgy, hard-hitting and dark-sounding dance track. Umbrella, on the other hand, is lighter in all senses. It is a R&B jazzy type of song, fitting for a coffee shop on a rainy day or some retail music in a high-end store. While those may be the more generally accepted locations to have Umbrella playing, I personally have been playing it whilst working or doing some tedious tasks that makes me sensitive to loud upbeat music. So I guess I am showing how versatile this lighter sound is. But the song is easy on the ears, which makes it more appreciable. The vocal work in this song was quite nice, with both members bringing a very palatable touch. Even Dohyun’s slowed down rapping was tweaked fittingly for the more jazzy vibes of the song. Their harmonies really add some definition. All is good. The issue with Umbrella is that it isn’t striking enough to carry on the momentum that SOUL had, nor is it striking enough to tease or raise expectations for their upcoming re-debut. It is a bit twisted to think this way, given that this was their ‘farewell’ of one chapter of their careers. But this presented a great opportunity to do both.

The music video for Umbrella is quite simple. And for many of my readers, you might know that I liked to think that simplicity sometimes speaks louder than complexity. I feel like this is the case where the simplicity was well used. A stage where the pair stand on and sing into microphones. Surrounded by musicians playing the instruments that make up the song’s instrumental. Perfectly coloured backgrounds, fitting clouds floating above them and light strobes to mimic rain. Even the closeups behind the wet glass panel were on point. Definitely a perfectly executed music video.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Review] Good Night – H&D

Last month, I wrote a review for H&D’s debut single, SOUL. In that review, I promised that I would get around to writing a review for the second title track, Good Night, on the same debut mini-album, Soulmate. A music video was released for Good Night alongside SOUL, which I didn’t know about until a few days later. Though it seems I have taken a little longer than expected to review it, I finally present to you my review for Good Night. In other related news, both Lee Hangyul and Nam Dohyun have been confirmed to be debuting as part of a male group later this year.

When I listen to Good Night, Leessang is a name that keeps on popping up in my mind. For those who may be unfamiliar with Leessang, they were a duo who delved into the hip-hop and were very popular back in the day for songs like Turned Off The TV and Girl Who Can’t Break-Up and Boy Who Can’t Leave. I find the melody and the beat would be something that could have come from Leessang. Good Night is obviously a lot more upbeat, well suited for a youthful style and modernised. And the lyrics are a lot more innocent and pure. Moving the focus back to H&D, I thought their execution was pretty good. Both the rapping and singing from the duo were pretty strong. The only part that I thought was a little awkward was the chanting anthem sequence that followed the choruses in the song about half way and the at the end. I am unsure how to describe it as I am no musical expert, but it felt like the song become a lot rougher and messier when it came to that sequence, in my opinion. The instrumental of the song was more of your typical tropical island beats, but it did feel rather refreshing and well-suited for the upcoming Summery season that South Korea is about to enter. I personally think Good Night is a good song despite it also delving into a typical domain. I just feel that Good Night has more of a fresh appeal compared to SOUL.

When it comes to the concept of the music video, it is clear that they went in the opposite direction to their other debut music video. This video shows a sleepover concept and it was definitely a lot more lighthearted, colourful and innocent. I really liked how they wrote some the lyrics in the comic style font, in addition to having it act as a visual effect to give the video some extra character. Usually they do this for key English words in the song or just some typical ‘pow’ or ‘wow’ text. Overall, it looked fun and I think this video suited the song well.

To match the casual sleepover concept, the entire performance was done so in pajamas. I liked that they retained this detail, which made the performance feel more approachable and chill to watch. But the moves looked pretty typical and didn’t offer anything new to us viewers on the performance front. I did like the start and end, however, where they used the dancers to lean on, like they are on a couch, adding to that casual detail I mentioned.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10

Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] SOUL – H&D

Despite already releasing two pre-release songs, H&D officially make their debut today with Soul. For those who may be unfamiliar with their duo, H&D is made up of Lee Han Gyul and Nam Do Hyun. Both were former members of X1 (formed on the Produce X 101 survival show). But the group disbanded after making their debut due to a vote rigging controversy. Each member has gone their separate paths to their home companies, including H&D, who are under MBK Entertainment. Their pre-release songs are Toward Tomorrow (which I have yet to review) and Unfamiliar. Let’s see what the pair in store for their debut.

Soul takes a turn to a more edgy and darker sound. It is definitely different from their bright Toward Tomorrow pre-release and Unfamiliar ballad. But honestly, it is rather typical move for any male group to go down this path. Their differing sound between the tracks they have presented us so far is unique and I do hope that the group does pull off something different in their next comeback. But that is a concern for the future. Let’s refocus on Soul. What Soul does well is put some spotlight on the rapping and vocal work that the duo show in this song. It is a dance track, so both elements automatically become more dynamic and Dohyun’s deep voice still shines through. We could also see more technique in their delivery and sound, which it very exciting for a debut for obvious reasons. Based on this alone, I have the pair on my radar for future releases. The instrumental, especially the chorus, has this very subtle groove to it and I wanted to the producers build on this to make the song even more dynamic and ‘go that extra mile’. This would then make the song a lot more robust, punchy and much less consistent. The song just replayed the same instrumental parts over again and I was a little disappointed with that. I also liked the deep ‘Welcome To My Soul‘ that played throughout the post-chorus hook. Overall, it was a good debut song. But I did want more out of it. Hopefully, they will for their next release.

Shot with the same concrete staircase as the pair’s Unfamiliar music video, I thought it was a good video. There is a little bit of a story line in this video but things seems a little confusing though, so I made a stab at the interpretation (even though I most likely will be wrong). Hangyul and Dohyun are in a car accident but wake up alive. Based on my understanding of the music video, they were meant to die. But as they had given up their ‘soul’ to that statue (i.e. placed roses on the statue), they were kept alive. Each member represents a different form of love. Hangyul seems to represent present love as he has a red rose and is always surrounded by fresh red roses. Dohyun represents past love, which is shown through the dead rose and lack of roses. But as both had given up their souls by placing a rose on the statue regardless of whether or not they are still in love or not, they must remain alive. There was a lot of play on red and blue, which was cool. Their outfits and the sets reflect this using the colours a fair bit.

I like how intense their routine felt, particularly when it came to the chorus. It was reflective of the music and I am always a fan for that. The verses were a weak point, as they didn’t have much choreography to it. Other than that, there isn’t anything memorable or specific worth mentioning regarding the performance.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Review] Unfamiliar – H&D

It is time to familiarise ourselves with a new group. Well, new group in the case for my blog. H&D is a male duo, consisting of former X1 members Lee Hangyul and Nam Dohyun. They have yet to make their official debut, but they did release a track (and promoted it) back in February 2020, Toward Tomorrow. I haven’t reviewed this track and will do once I get some free time in the near future. But rather than waiting around for that review, let’s dig into their comeback pre-release single, Unfamiliar, which is released ahead of their upcoming official debut on April 21.

Unfamiliar is a mid-tempo R&B track that is bound to blow you away for a number of reasons, especially if you are unfamiliar with the members or H&D, in general. At first, the song is structured liked a ballad with a simple instrumental and the start zones right into the duo’s vocals. But as the song progressed along, a beat became more apparent and in the forefront. It started to build up into a really stunning piece and I liked how the song kept the classical roots as it built up. That’s the first aspect that I enjoyed with this track. The second aspect has to the vocals. Both members sounded so damn good. The harmonies are beautiful. I really like the slight husky touch in the back of Hangyul’s voice, helping bring a very mature feel to the song. Also remember that Dohyun is only 15 years old, his deep voice is remarkable in the song. And while we are talking about Dohyun, his rapping is something that cannot be missed. There was just so much depth in his rapping voice, I was in awe. The final aspect has to be the emotion that they put into the song. It sounds so heartbeaking and emotionally driven, with the latter usually being a good sign of a song. With Unfamiliar in mind, I am definitely looking forward to what this duo can bring to the world in late April.

When it comes to the visual representation of an amazing song, such as Unfamiliar, sometimes simplicity is the key. You want the viewers to focus on the song, to feel the emotions and power of the vocals. You don’t to steal that away ability from the viewers. The producers of the Unfamiliar music video did just that. In a grey setting, they placed two black pianos in the centre and dressed the duo in white, creating a strong and striking contrast. And that is it to the video. Visually, the pair stood out. But the video wasn’t over complicated with colour and plotlines that would have distracted you from the song. I find this to be a perfect music video.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 10/10

Overall Rating – 10/10