[Album Review] Crazy In Love (1st Studio Album) – ITZY

As teased in my latest song review, the next album review on this blog would be for ITZY’s first studio-length album, Crazy In Love, which is headlined by the title track LOCO and the follow-up single, SWIPE. The album dropped on 24 September of this year. In addition to the two already mentioned songs, Crazy In Love also features 7 other new songs from the group, an English version of the title track, and instrumentals for LOCO and all their past title tracks (from DALLA DALLA to M.A.F.I.A (In The Morning). I thought the addition of all the instrumentals were interesting. To sum up my thoughts on the entire album before we delve into each song, Crazy In Love is a pretty good album with some awesome songs on there. It definitely reiterates a lot of characteristics of the group, including their youthfulness, vibrancy and edginess. Anyhow, on with the rest of the album review!

Crazy In Love Album Cover

1. LOCO (Title Track) – Click here for the full review for LOCO. (9/10)

2. SWIPE Click here for the full review for SWIPE. (6.5/10)

3. Sooo Lucky – Bubbly and fun is how I would describe Sooo LUCKY. I really enjoyed this song, especially following the likes of both the title and follow-up promotion track. It delves into a pop territory that freshens up the group’s tracklist, features a prominent guitar presence in its instrumentation that adds to the fresh energy, and features a catchy chorus (both hook and melody wise) that has me hooked. The song is suitable for Summer and showcases a fun side of the group that I would like to hear more in the future. (9/10)

4. #Twenty – Returning to the hip-hop transmission of this album is #Twenty. I liked the clashing percussion throughout the song, reminding me of the 90s. The rapping was very cool, with the rappers showcasing their skills with rapid delivery of their lines. Here is where I think the song might break for some. The pre-chorus was sugary and pretty random. I personally enjoyed it and felt like it fit in with the theme behind the song. This is followed by a chorus that really concentrates the hip-hop genre into a dynamic and powerful centerpiece. Though I can understand if someone was to say it feels empty and soulless. The bridge upticks the energy with a sparkly and thumping background. Overall, a fun song for me. (9/10)

5. B [OO] M-BOXX – When B [OO] M-BOXX kicked off, I was reminded of some of ITZY’s past instrumental. This is definitely exciting, as I think B [OO] M-BOXX could have been a title track for the group. It is a dynamic pop track and features a fun and catchy chorus, with the booming bass fitting for the song titled B [OO] M-BOXX. The vocals and rapping in this song highlight the skills of the group and they add a depth of appeal that makes this song more than just flair and noise. Definitely one of my favourites of this album. (10/10)

6. Gas Me UpGas Me Up, once again, returns the group to the hip-hop genre, with a rap centric song. Personally, I wasn’t much of a fan of this song. I found the rapping to be on the lazy side of the spectrum, and I didn’t like the drawn-out vocals to match the rapping style. Gas Me Up also had a plain instrumental that I didn’t remember much of. Sadly, a skippable song in my mind. (6/10)

7. Love Is Love Is a good song, but it isn’t the best. I liked the song’s pop direction and the energy explosion we get as part of the chorus. Vocals and rapping-wise, the group nailed it in Love Is. I just wish the song was a bit less predictable and more innovative. That would have made the song more memorable for me. (7/10)

8. Chillin’ Chillin’ – Another pop track greets us on this album. Chillin’ Chillin’ is another step up compared to the songs directly preceding it. It is a bit standard, but I still enjoyed the energy that comes from the chorus of Chillin’ Chillin’. I also enjoyed the members’ vocals in this song, especially since they sounded very sweet throughout this song. The rapping was also quite nice and didn’t feel overly heavy for a song about unwinding. The melodies and hooks were pleasant and enjoyable. (8/10)

9. Mirror – The final new song on the album is a ballad. No surprises, to be honest. This is after all where most albums place their singular ballad. I liked the pop instrumentation of Mirror and enjoyed the vocals, but I wouldn’t go to the length in saying it is their best. Mirror also has a nice melody that closes out the album on a soft and soothing note, especially after all the energetic and fun songs that preceded it. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

Crazy In Love Teaser Image

[Review] SWIPE – ITZY

In preparation for their album review later today, I am reviewing ITZY’s SWIPE! For those who may have missed it. ITZY returned with LOCO (the title track) and Crazy In Love (the 1st studio length album – coming very soon) back at the end of September. In less than a week, ITZY also unveiled a music video for the sidetrack SWIPE, which ultimately became the group’s follow-up song, following the conclusion of LOCO‘s promotions.

When I first heard SWIPE whilst browsing the album when it was first released, I wasn’t much of a fan of it. That is the case with most hip-hop dance tracks, with exceptions. But SWIPE definitely benefits from its really infectious hook that really helped the song grow on me over the last two months. And since the song has grown on me, I have found some aspects of SWIPE to be quite interesting and well-executed. The members’ rapping and vocals in the song were pretty good, and their delivery definitely works well with the song’s leaning into the hip-hop genre. Their spoken delivery of the song’s main hook in the chorus helped it be memorable, and surprisingly kept it fresh and fitting for the group. I also found myself enjoy the ‘Ring Ring Ring Ring‘ hook that featured in the bridge of the song. It was clever of the producers to incorporate that into the song, given that the song’s theme revolves around mobile devices. But I also thought it was catchy and added a nice melody to the song. The biggest part of SWIPE that I am still not on board with is with the instrumentation. It definitely aligns with the hip-hop genre, and I do like how it is pretty low-key throughout. But I found the high pitch whiny vocal effect in the background following the first chorus and just before the final chorus to be quite obnoxious. Not a fan of it. I also find the entire backing to be quite plain and lacks excitement. I feel a more vibrant and poppier instrumental would have worked fine with the song, and this would have done a lot to boost the appeal of SWIPE. Overall, SWIPE is a decent song that I am in the middle of. Some of its good, other parts are not so good.

I liked all the mobile phone references throughout the music video. From the portrait orientation of some of the shots to the QR code that I am sure we are all familiar with to the massive green/red accept and deny call buttons. There are also some swiping references, such as in the choreography (more on that in the next section of the review), and the fun swiping Tik Tok trend. Everything just made sense. I wasn’t a fan of the choreography sets and the colours used in the background of the ‘portrait modes’, however. They felt noisy and had a lot going on.

The choreography looks good and suits the edgy vibes the song was going for. I particularly enjoyed the swiping move in the chorus, along with the vibrations they incorporated into the section for the ‘Ring Ring Ring‘ part of the song. Definitely some memorable moves there.

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.1/10

[Review] LOCO – ITZY

From a review focusing on the major release from the start of the week, I am now time jumping to the end of the week to review the major release of today, ITZY’s LOCO. It is the title track off their 1st studio album since debut (titled Crazy In Love), which also dropped today. This is the group’s second comeback of the year, following April’s M.A.F.I.A (In The Morning).

I felt that LOCO was a return to form for the group, following the not-so-good M.A.F.I.A from earlier this year. If you want to know about my thoughts on M.A.F.I.A, feel free to read that review. LOCO still retains that edgy side of their previous song, but the new song also re-enters that vibrant arena in which ITZY’s earlier releases lie in that I have mentioned. What really stands out to me in LOCO is the song’s energy, which to me, is thanks to the bass and the electric guitars we hear in the background. The bass was like a common thread tying the different and distinct sections of the song together. It also added that definition and helps the song pack a punch, which complimented the rock influence. The electric guitars in the background delivers this rock influence, taking the song to a whole new level of me. I do think LOCO has potential to be more electrifying and hardcore. I think if the producers did this, LOCO would have been boosted to new heights. The bombastic nature of the start was a great entrance into the song and I liked how that was also continued throughout the song as well. LOCO also had a Latin influence, which was an intriguing influence to have in this mix. When it comes to the vocals and rapping, I thought both elements were rather strong and bold, which was definitely necessary to stand out over the instrumentation. The members definitely had a good handle on this. The melodies in the chorus and elsewhere were appreciable and felt like it did a good job of balancing the high energy that came from the raps. Overall, I thought LOCO was a strong song and definitely it took me back to their earlier days. However, I am definitely of the opinion that the song would have flourished if all their influences were more concentrated and intense (i.e. more of that rock!).

The music video for this comeback is fantastic. While the song doesn’t have that colourful tinge to it as per their earlier works, I felt this colour was definitely made up in the video. I also liked how that the video managed to convey edgy side of the song as well, which helped made the video feel so much more dynamic. I also felt a bit of epicness from the video when it came to the ‘Crazy In Love‘ billboard and the stage performance we were treated to, following the interlude within the video. I just wished the producers of the video CGI in a crowd for that part, as that would have really heightened the energy and ended the video on such a high note. Elsewhere, the post-production in this video really highlights the high quality of the video.

The performance was another highlight of this comeback. I really liked the powerful energy that came through, especially for the chorus, along with the attitude that sends a ‘you don’t want to mess with us’ message. This just really highlights their stage presence. The main move seems to be the holding of and shaking of the head, which makes sense, given that ‘LOCO‘ is Spanish for ‘crazy’. It is definitely a worthwhile watch.

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

[Review] M.A.F.I.A (In The Morning) – ITZY

Rounding out the week and the month is ITZY with their latest comeback single, M.A.F.I.A (In The Morning). This new title track is featured on their fourth mini-album. Guess Who?. Well, the answer to that question is ITZY, and it is a suitable question given that it has been a while since we have heard from the group. This is their first comeback since Not Shy in August of last year. Since that last comeback and a month (to the date) before this comeback, ITZY did release a digital single for their fans, titled Trust Me (MIDZY). But that had no music video, so I skipped over it. And so, we find ourselves here today for the review for M.A.F.I.A.

My first impression of M.A.F.I.A is quite simple – it appears ITZY’s direction for this song follows the big and bold nature of BLACKPINK and not of their own. Personally, I felt disappointed by this. Both are great groups and both have their individual styles. BLACKPINK has this more bombastic and dark energy with their recent releases (i.e. Kill This Love and How You Like That). ITZY differentiates as their music has this energetic colour and vibrancy, which makes their songs quite appealing in its own way (i.e. Wannabe and ICY). I just wished they didn’t tap into each other’s current niche. BLACKPINK, more recently, have not crossed the line. But it is clear with M.A.F.I.A, ITZY have. And I will mention it now, M.A.F.I.A is more of a cheap knock-off than a successful replication. One of the few positives of the song is that there was a good showcase of rapping skills in the song. But that all comes after a spoken syllable-by-syllable delivery that sounded undeniably very BLACKPINK-esquee, courtesy of Ryujin. While the rest of the rapping skills were good, I wished their lines didn’t feel weighed down and boring. It was probably a stylistic choice to fit in the suspenseful and mysterious vibes of the instrumentation, which features that paced and squeaky synth. But it was a choice that really didn’t appeal to my taste. The vocals that followed in the pre-chorus were actually also quite good. It gave the song that stability it needed and added in a splash of needed colour. And I was glad we got some colour into the song in the pre-chorus, as the chorus didn’t really give much of it. Instrumentally, it just felt like an extension of the instrumentation we got in the verses, and the chorus’ hooks were pretty plain and unimaginative. I can see it catching on briefly, but it will probably be forgotten soon after. The second verse was more less the same as the first verse. And well, the rest of the song felt more less the same as the first verse and chorus. Another let-down of M.A.F.I.A is the song lacks a peak. While I think Lia’s bridge was a nice touch to the song melodic-wise, it doesn’t feel in anyway different to the pre-choruses earlier in the song. While you expect her to hit a high note at the end of the bridge, she doesn’t. The instrumental doesn’t build up to the final chorus either. We aren’t pushed into an amplifed mix, nor are we given something to help to make it a memorable closer to the song (or even signal the end of the song is approaching). Overall, M.A.F.I.A is a very flat release that doesn’t live up to the ITZY style that I have associated with the group.

A music video acually comes off a lot better than the song itself. Despite the dark aura and the obvious black and purple colour choices that seems to bring out that ‘influence’ as I mentioned in the above paragraph, I feel that the music video does a good job of showing off that confident side to the group. This is a running theme in their music videos and I am glad they managed to link this video to their past comebacks. I also thought the editing in this video was also a strong positive aspect. But that is all pretty standard. It is that memorability factor that I am looking for, and there doesn’t seem to be much in the video. I guess the opening scene where we are looking from inside the gun barrell at Ryujin in her full red outfit was pretty intriguing. But nothing else really pinged as memorable for me.

The choreography is probably the only stable factor in this entire comeback. The confidence really comes off strongly in the routine, and I also liked the added sexiness that the group brings to the table with this routine.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 6/10

[Album Review] NOT SHY (3rd Mini Album) – ITZY

The album review that I had intended to publish yesterday is ITZY’s NOT SHY. It is also the title to their most recent title track as well! It has been over a month since the album was released, so apologies that it has taken me so long to review this mini-album. I decided to review the album during the week it was first released, yet somehow I arranged for the album review to be published this week. Right off the bat, it is a slightly interesting album. NOT SHY (the album) starts off in a familiar domain that is synonymous with the name ITZY. But as we get to the other end of the album, you might hear some different sounds. What are these ‘different sounds’? Well, you gotta find out yourself below!

Not Shy Album Cover

1. Not Shy (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Not Shy. (7/10)

2. Don’t Give A What – In my review for their title track, I noted that Not Shy was missing some energy to really give it a kick. If you were confused about what I meant, just listen to Don’t Give A What. It has that energy that almost rivals Wannabe in my opinion. I love the pop rock sound that forms the basis of the track, which no doubt suits the group’s strong sound. There are super catchy hooks throughout the song that makes it a memorable track. Interestingly, it is Ryujin’s ‘Strike a Pose’ that steals my attention, despite the super powerful hooks surrounding it. The bass helps boldens the song. Overall, I think Don’t Give A What would be have the perfect alternative title track from this EP. (10/10)

3. Louder Louder is a pretty weak track, especially following Don’t Give A What. And I was expecting great things give the song was title ‘Louder’. And I squarely place the blame on the instrumental of the track. There wasn’t much meat to it, simply a backbone that felt like there were gaps throughout it. Something with a little more heft would have been appropriate, especially if it gets you to turn up the volume higher to enjoy it. And it is a pity, as I thought the vocals throughout Louder do get louder, but it dragged down by the flawed instrumentation. (6/10)

4. iD iD goes down the mainstream pop route, with the rhythm embedded in the instrumental reminding me of the instrumental breakdown in Wannabe. That part in their past title track has grown to be my favourite, so a reminder of that definitely appeals to me right from the start! I think the reminder is simply due to the combination of their metallic clangs (cowbells?) and their vocal/rapping melodies. Those are some good melodies and I like how they bolster up their power by singing together. I would have liked some stronger hooks to really push the song into the 10/10 range. For now, it sits slightly lower than that. (9/10)

5. SURFSURF steps away from the heavy reliance of electronic synths and production, opting for something a little more retro. It is a nice change up to their sound on this album and SURF really highlights the group’s vocals (especially when we get into the chorus). There are falsettos and each member brings a slightly different tone to the song. I particularly like the falsetto that carries the title of the song post-chorus. The instrumental is a lot smoother, more easygoing and a lot less harsh (relative to their other songs + their usual sound). Overall, SURF was pleasant but in a definite good way. (8/10)

6. Be In Love – ITZY continues to steer away from their reliance of electronic synths and productions with Be In Love, opting this time for an acoustic pop track and my pick for this album’s hidden gem. It is an interesting sound, as it seems to merge both an upbeat pop sound with a ballad. And I give my tick of approval for the sound. But what initially steals my attention with this song is their breathy vocals at the start. I also like how the song continues to highlight their vocal potential, with that upbeat nature of the instrumental helping to bolster their vocals. The melodies were extremely pleasant, closing out this mini-album in a strong manner (just without the theatrics). (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Not Shy Teaser Image

[Review] Not Shy – ITZY

Once again, apologies for the delay for this review.

Making their grand return earlier in the week was ITZY with Not Shy, which is featured as part of the group’s third mini-album of the same name. This comes after the group released the extremely catchy WANNABE earlier this year. Let’s see if Not Shy lives up to the standard that ITZY had created and instilled on all of their future releases.

Based on my own thoughts, the group does not go above and beyond that same standard they had set with WANNABE with this latest release. Not Shy lacks a certain energy to make it a blastful song. That, I believe, was a responsibility of the instrumental. To me, the instrumental was lacking and failed to bolster that punchy feeling that ITZY is known for through their releases and that was partly delivered by the vocals. And as odd as it may sound, I also found the typical instrumental for Not Shy to be rather loose. It just didn’t feel as tight as their past releases, which constantly felt full and loaded. I did like the use of the choppy brass. Though I wished it was much louder to add that blast of energy and colour that was needed. Regarding certain parts of the song, the one that I want to question the most was the repetition of ITZY’s name throughout the chorus. Was it needed and necessary? I don’t think so and it just annoyed me throughout the song. But other than that, everything else gets an approval nod from me. There were a number of catchy hooks. There was good vocal work and rapping in this song was quite good. All these elements would have benefited given a more profoundly dynamic backdrop. The main highlight of the song would have to be the bridge, which showed off Lia’s vocal chops and potential.

Shot in the desert, the members of ITZY are outlaws driving after a van carrying important and fragile goods. They are definitely Not Shy with their driving and threatening skills, as they catch up to the van that had a head start and managed to get the driver out of the car at gunpoint. The group drive the van back to their base and store the boxes in a freezer installed in the ground. The member, whilst performing their choreography and all their closeups, actually come off as quite edgy. I just wished the final credits stuck with that. I lowkey expected something dangerous like guns in the boxes. And if that was too extreme, then I would have expected some sort of expensive item or gold. But it turned out to be a bunch of cakes and desserts. So whatever touch image they had built for themselves in this music video ended up being dissolved once the video stopped playing with this innocent twist. Very typical for KPOP.

I really liked their use of space at the very start and during the first verse. This looked very cool and different from most performances, which tend to start with the focus in the middle of the stage/formation. I also thought they had good transitions between each formation throughout the performance and effortlessly moved to their new positions in a fast manner. As for their dance move, everything looked quite cool (given what they had to work with).

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10

[Special] Top 10 Personal Favourites Songs from 1st Half of 2020

2020 has proven to be an eventful year so, without a doubt. But since we are at the halfway mark already, let’s have a little reflection post on the last 6 months. In no particular order, here are 10 of my personal favourite KPOP releases since the start of 2020. I have also added some of my favourite sidetracks that I have encountered so far in the year as part of my top 10. This is also irrespective of my reviews and Weekly KPOP charts posts.

[Album Review] It’z Me (2nd Mini Album) – ITZY

Apologies for the lack of posts yesterday. I decided to take the night off and chill for a bit. But I will be posting the album review I had planned for yesterday, so I don’t fall behind any further. The artist in question is ITZY, who made their Wannabe comeback on the 9th of March. That means this album review is over a month late. Sorry again. But as I have saying a lot lately, better late than never. This is also my first album review for this high-achieving female group and my first impressions says I am very impressed. How so? Continue reading below!

It’z Me Album Cover

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

2. Ting Ting Ting – IZTY continues the momentum that Wannabe had provided with Ting Ting Ting. And since the album’s release, I have been returning to this song (alongside Wannabe and a few others on this album) as it is so damn catchy and addictively energetic. The song features Oliver Heldens, who I am reading is a famous techno artist. I suppose he is the male voice that features during the chanting ‘La La La’ parts of the song, which was cool. I did notice a certain dull factor, when I compared this chanting section to the rest of the song. It was very minute but apparent to me. There is a bit of electronic influences in the instrumental, especially during the outro. But I am not sure if it is Oliver Heldens’ influence. The rest of the track seems to take on board a hip-hop type of profile, which I really enjoyed. (9.5/10)

3. That’s A No NoThat’s A No No features an anthem-based sound, which helps drive the song to have an epic vibe. I like how the group doesn’t like they are messing around with the song. There is a very serious tone to it, despite it also being very catchy and addictive. I also thought hip-hop influences were very strong. The chorus has to be my favourite part, especially with Yeji and Lia’s lines in the chorus. With that being said, I give huge ticks to the vocal department in this song. The rapping was actually a miss for me, as I felt the trap influences in that section were too typical for my liking. But apart from that, fantastic song. (9/10)

4. Nobody Like YouNobody Like You reminds me of the rock songs you would get from all those Disney shows in the past (back when Disney was in its prime). In addition to that nostalgia for me, the rock influences give off a head-banging vibe, which was very fun. There was a lot of other textures in the song, such as the heavy-thumping drums and some smoothness when they bring in the backing vocals to perform a choir-like backing. Both the rapping and the vocals were very pleasant, which is an odd term to describe a rock song of this nature. The members keep the song quite light and refreshing, which makes it a good song to keep returning to. (9/10)

5. You Make Me – I will be frank, I am disappointed with You Make Me. I thought the instrumental was interesting, as it hard a dirty type of hip-hop feel to it. And given it is a song with strong hip-hop roots, the rapping really shined in this song. Ryujin and Yuna really showed off their capabilities in this song. The vocals, on the other hand, was a hit and miss. The ‘You Make Me … Speechless’ is very memorable, without any doubts. The rest of the vocal work just didn’t sound good in this song. Sorry, but I had to say it. (7/10)

6. I Don’t Wanna Dance I Don’t Wanna Dance is another pretty cool song from the group. The song, while there is decent melody and rhythm, actually isn’t a song that would automatically make you get up and dance to (relative to their other tracks on the album). It doesn’t have that appeal and the energy the song could have put on display was pretty much suppressed, which is why the song is interesting to me. But as mentioned, this doesn’t make the song terrible. The song still has the capability of having a performance and there would be an interesting chemistry in that regard. The rapping and vocal work in this song was also quite cool, which brought lightness to the song. (8/10)

7. 24HRS – We end the album with 24HRS, which is very different to the other JYP-based song titled 24 Hours. It is a fun track that brings together the some of the highlights of the album. The hip-hop vibes, the good vocal and rapping styles that I enjoyed on the album, the usage of chanting for the chorus, the addictive melodies. It had it all. It did end up being rather typical for some odd reason, as I didn’t really get much uniqueness from this song, in comparison to what else we have heard on this album. But it is still good. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

It’z Me Teaser Image

[Review] WANNABE – ITZY

The second comeback of the week belong to ITZY. This four member female group had a smashing 2019 debut year with two massive hits, Dalla Dalla and Icy. And we are all confident that ITZY will do it again in 2020. Kicking off their year is Wannabe, which is featured on the group’s 2nd mini-album, It’z Me. In other related news, ITZY took out all of the new female artist awards during the 2019/2020 awards season, including the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Award for Best New Female Group. Congratulations ITZY!

The first thing that grabs my attention with ITZY’s new song, Wannabe (like many other songs) is the energy. I said a similar thing in my ICY review, but Wannabe manages to take things to the next level. Paired with the energy is a set of shouting vocals from each of the member. I have mentioned in the past this isn’t a great tactic and can bring a song down. But ITZY manages to commit throughout the song and use this technique to their advantage (even though they sounded pretty strained again at some parts). I mean, they get right into it when the song starts and I think this is fantastic. Otherwise, they would have been lost in the instrumentation. Together, they make the song very bold and defined. When it comes to the instrumental, I think this trap based background is amazing. There are many textures that makes it so interesting to listen to. It doesn’t rely solely on the trap, however. There is a bit of guitar in the mix that really stands out in the sea of synths. Rock vibes and house influences as well. Heck, the start had a very intriguing and eerie music box sound to it, capturing our attention from the very beginning. The song’s hooks are also another strong aspect and it had me singing along as soon as I heard it the first time around.

One way to gauge a group’s popularity nowadays might to see the presence of fan theories (fans need to be invested and dedicated to their group to write lengthy and detailed theories). ITZY’s latest music video has all these fan theories in the comment section. And instead of me interpreting the video, I thought I pick one of those theories as they would explain it better than me. The following was written by the YouTube user mich (so props to them for the theory below).

But I thought the video was interesting even without a theory. You could see what the video was about with just the English lyrics and the visual cues in the music video. I liked the balance between colour and darkness in this video. It wasn’t overly colourful, yet it wasn’t dark like the serious concepts we see in KPOP.

The choreography has two amazing moments in my opinion. The first has to be that music box start. The second has to be the sassy dance break bridge. The routines for each of these sections looked so cool. The rest of the performance looked very intense and energetic, as well. I thought they paired well with the music, especially the bouncy moments of the music. The only minor issue is the lack of smiles throughout the performance. The smiles switched off as soon as the camera diverted away from the members and I thought this brought down the aesthetics of the performance.

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

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Artist-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 particpated 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 artist-based categories, which will involve the New Artist categories, Elemental-focused (i.e. rap, vocals etc.) categories and Best Artist categories. 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 New Male Soloist

Nominees: Baekhyun (EXO), Chen (EXO), Ha Sung Woon, HUTA (Lee Min Hyuk – BTOB), Kang Daniel, Kim Jae Hwan.

WINNER – Baekhyun (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Kang Daniel
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – HUTA (Lee Minhyuk – BTOB)


Best New Female Soloist

Nominees: Hwasa (Mamamoo), Jeon Somi, Kim Ji Yeon (Kei – Lovelyz), Oh Ha Young (APINK), Sulli

WINNER – Hwasa (Mamamoo)
Honourable Mention – Sulli
KPOPREVIEWED – Hwasa (Mamamoo)


Best New Male Group

Nominees: AB6IX, CIX, ONEUS, TXT, X1

WINNER – TXT
Honourable Mentions – ONEUS
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – AB6IX


Best New Female Group

Nominees: BVNDIT, Cherry Bullet, EVERGLOW, ITZY, PURPLEBECK

WINNER – ITZY
Honourable Mention – EVERGLOW
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – EVERGLOW


Best Band

Nominees: DAY6, FT Island, IZ, N.Flying, ONEWE

WINNER – DAY6
Honourable Mention – N.Flying
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – DAY6


Best Vocals

Nominees: AKMU, Brown Eyed Girls, Chen (EXO), IU, Mamamoo

WINNER – IU
Honourable Mention – Chen (EXO)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – IU


Best Raps

Nominees: J-Hope (BTS); Jackson (GOT7); Mark (NCT); Ravi (VIXX); Zico

WINNER – Mark (NCT)
Honourable Mention – Zico
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Zico


Best Subunit

Nominees: Block B Bastarz; EXO-SC, Jus2, NCT 127, NCT Dream

WINNER – NCT Dream
Honourable Mention – NCT 127
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – NCT Dream


Artist With Most Weekly KPOP Chart Wins

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Seventeen (5x)


Rising Star

Nominees: ATEEZ, CLC, N.Flying, UP10TION, VICTON

WINNER – ATEEZ
Honourable Mention – CLC
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – CLC


Most Underrated Artist of 2019

Nominees: A.C.E, Dream Catcher, LOONA, ONF, Pentagon

WINNER – Dream Catcher
Honourable Mention – Pentagon
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – LOONA


Best Male Soloist

Nominees: Kim Dong Han, Leo (VIXX), Nam Woohyun (Infinite), Taemin (SHINee), Yesung (Super Junior), Zico

WINNER – Taemin (SHINee)
Honourable Mention – Zico
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Nam Woohyun


Best Female Soloist

Nominees: Ailee, Kim Chungha, IU, Park Bom, Sumni, Taeyeon (SNSD)

WINNER – IU
Honourable Mention – Kim Chungha
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Kim Chungha


Best Male Group

Nominees: ASTRO, ATEEZ, BTS, DAY6, EXO, GOT7, iKON, MONSTA X, NCT, NU’EST, Pentagon, Seventeen, SF9, Stray Kids, The Boyz, WINNER

WINNER – EXO
Honourable Mention – BTS, ATEEZ
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Stray Kids


Best Female Group

Nominees: (G)I-DLE, BLACKPINK, CLC, Dream Catcher, EXID, GFriend, IZ*ONE, LOONA, Lovelyz, Mamamoo, Momoland, Oh My Girl, Red Velvet, TWICE, Weki Meki, WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

WINNER – TWICE
Honourable Mention – Red Velvet, Mamamoo
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Oh My Girl


And that brings us to the end of the Artist-Based Categories for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t seen the Song-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%). You can find out by clicking here (hyperlink will be updated once the post is published).

[Review] Icy – ITZY

ITZY is currently one of the biggest girl group debuts of the year. Their DALLA DALLA debut back in February pushed them towards the top of the industry, with the track becoming immensely popular throughout the KPOP world. And they continue to push forward with their very first comeback! Returning today, the group released the music video for ICY at midnight (KST) and their first mini-album, IT’z ICY, at 6PM (KST – just a few hours ago).

ICY is loaded from the very start and it gets you with its infectious beat. I like how the song doesn’t take a breather. As they approached the slightly less upbeat sections (such as the pre-chorus), you would expect some slow energy. But the song builds up suspense instead, keeping you hooked to the song. I like the funky and grooviness of the instrumental, which kept me hooked. And I like how they incorporated a hip-hop vibe to the song, despite its instrumentation leaning towards a different direction. Their vocals seem to be the weakest aspect. They were pushing too hard to stay on top of the instrumental.  The hooks were interesting. I didn’t like how they framed the chorus initially. But given the infectious nature of the song, the chorus has grown immensely. The final weak point of the song has to be the dance break.  As much as I think an intense dance break was ideal, I felt this one was a little too awkward. It didn’t feel balanced with the rest of the track. Maybe they went down a little too low for my liking or it just didn’t carry enough of the upbeat energy to get my approval.

I personally liked their approach with the music video. The lighting, camera angles, quality and the setting overall reminded me of TWICE’s Likey music video. They had the background actors stare at the ITZY members, who were flaunting their confidence to the public. The actor’s expressions, however, were a little not so convincing. Their amazement didn’t seem like they were amazed. But I guess they did that to further highlight the confidence. I think my favourite part has to be the final montage when they were on the electric tram.

The dance was pretty good. The chorus was very underwhelming, especially since it had all the hooks loaded in the song. But I enjoyed every other part. I liked how they slowly added each member to the start of the dance. I thought that looked quite cool. The dance break choreography also looked cool and edgy. Just the music wasn’t too my liking. And I thought their final choreography montage was the best bit overall!

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Review] DALLA DALLA – ITZY

The performance It is expected to be an intense year with new groups debuting from 2 of the Big 3  (YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. Note that SM Entertainment hasn’t confirmed any debuts as of yet). And kicking off this particular competition is JYP Entertainment, with their brand new five-member female group, ITZY. The group is made up of Yuna, Ryujin, Chaeryeong, Lia and Yeji. You may find Ryujin familiar as she earned first place in the MIXNINE survive show for the female side, while Chaeryeong would be familiar due to her presence of SIXTEEN. The group made their debut earlier today with DALLA DALLA.

DALLA DALLA is a hip-hop techno infused track that really grabs your attention for its trend instrumental from the very start. And I like this uniqueness about the track as it is something you haven’t heard in KPOP at all yet. And as expected, the song is very catchy with its addictive melody and lyrics just practically in front of you the entire time as you listen to the track. It is vibrant and it surely does pop from the rest of the competition. I thought the vocals were good, while the rap gave the song more intensity that I had expected. But that isn’t a bad thing as I thought it was cool. I also like their message of self-confidence in the lyrics. However, that ‘Keep your chin up. We got your back‘ line during the bridge felt too cheesy for this song. I had expected some sort of chanting as we progressed through the song but what we got didn’t fit the song’s vibes in the end. Apart from that, it is a fun song.

The music video is a good opener to really introduce the girls in a visual manner.  However, I couldn’t help but think how mediocre the entire video was when you reflect back on it. It just didn’t have any memorable moments. But I did like the graphics that were used for the different sets. I also liked their edginess, while keeping that direction that JYP girl groups tend to have (look at TWICE at the moment and Miss A’s earlier days).

The performance accompanying this debut is quite good. From what I can see in the music video, it is energetic, bold and well suited for the song. They also seem to go with some complicated moves, which I think looks good. I am excited to see the whole performance in full!

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8/10