[Review] After LIKE – IVE

The next release of the night belongs to IVE and is titled After LIKE. This is the group’s second comeback to date, and follows the tall order of LOVE DIVE (which was released back in April) and their debut hit ELEVEN (released back in December of last year).

I didn’t want to spoil the reason why I am also so keen on After LIKE. But now that we are in the song segment of my review, I think I can finally divulge. Like everyone who is highly anticipated After LIKE, I am enjoying the fact that the song samples part of its instrumental from the legendary disco hit I Will Survive (by Gloria Gaynor). I think it is ballsy for any producer to even touch songs like I Will Survive, given that it is so widely known by so many people. You got to make sure to do it justice. So, do I think After LIKE does it justice? I definitely do. Instead of oversaturating After LIKE with the sample, it is used sparingly (three times following the choruses) and merged neatly into the song, fitting in with the upbeat deep house instrumental that make up the rest of After LIKE‘s instrumental. It is interesting that After LIKE doesn’t go into full retro mode, which might have been the more cliché move but big expectation with such a sample. I quite liked how they kept it modern and simple. The sample does end up being the focal point, but it is used well. As for the rest of After LIKE, I can also say that it is a strong showing from IVE. Admittedly, the verses were a bit plain, but showed some good vocal work. After LIKE doesn’t mess around and gets straight to the point, which is something I quite liked. The chorus had some really catchy hooks and melodies that I don’t mind going back to. The rapping following the second chorus (and layered over the sample) was a very refreshing delivery for IVE and packs a of punch in the energy department, which I thoroughly liked. Overall, After LIKE definitely played its cards well and was great as I had expected!

The solo shots in the music video were really good. I liked the central colour for each member, which helps makes the music video colourful and vibrant, much needed with dark background for the choreography shots. Their central colour also corresponds to the accessories donned with their super plain outfits in the first round round of choreography shots. I am also loving the final set of choreography shots, with the fireworks in the background. The firework display was epic and helps makes the video go out with a bang! Whilst it might sound like I most of the video, I actually have a big issue about it. The really shaky camera work was terrible and very distracting. I understand the need to keep the music video dynamic, but I think the production team went over the top. There was a need for cleaner and smoother shots in this video, just so we could appreciate the music video and the members better. And it disappointing that the video didn’t give us that opportunity.

I liked, how despite the energy and upbeatness of the song, there was a sense of refinement behind the members’ moves in the chorus. It was quite neat and made for a good routine. But the best part of the choreography occurs the first and last runs of the I Will Survive sample. The sharpness contrasts the more refined moves aforementioned and leaves a much stronger impression on me.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from the 1st Half of 2022 + more

As already mentioned on this blog somewhere (most likely the Weekly KPOP Charts posts), we are officially in July 2022. And that means that an entire 6 months has already past. Per usual, a substantial number of KPOP releases have been released, many of which have been on repeat. Keeping to tradition in July, it is time to post a list of my personal favourite songs from the 1st half of 2022.

I am doing things slightly different this year. In addition to the usual 10 songs (in no particular order) for the first half of 2022, I will also be posting two songs from the November – December 2021 period, which were ineligible for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards due to the cut off date being in October. And I will be posting 3 non-Korean songs (i.e. English, Japanese etc.) by Korean artists that caught my attention so far this year. So without furtherado, here are the list of my personal favourite songs of the year thus far (in no particular order, of course).

From November – December 2021

Personal favourite non-Korean songs of 2022 thus far

Personal favourite KPOP songs of the year so far (January – June 2022)

[Review] LOVE DIVE – IVE

In December 2021, IVE made their debut and took the industry by storm with their first single, ELEVEN. Four months on, the monster rookie group is back with their first comeback, LOVE DIVE, which dropped earlier this week. The group surely has some tough competition this week, but they are definitely have proved that they can hold their ground on the charts.

My first listen to LOVE DIVE yielded a very bland response. I just wasn’t feeling it the first time around. Not entirely sure why, but maybe I was feeling a bit off that day or I didn’t pay close enough attention to the song. But that response was short-lived, as I was reaching for the replay button after my second listen to LOVE DIVE. A lot of LOVE DIVE ended up appealing to me. It felt just as catchy and momentous just like ELEVEN, but it was more subtle and lowkey, whilst also taking on a mature and darker profile (compared to their title track). I also felt that a lot of the different segments of LOVE DIVE were quite dynamic, textured and robust in their own right. For example, the opening verse left a strong impression on me (just like how ELEVEN‘s did); the ‘Narcissistic, my God I love it‘ line was super memorable and impactful (and I quite enjoyed the subtle knocking sounding that played during this part); and the choruses’ ‘Woo‘ was smooth and ambient. These sections do repeat themselves, but they still felt fresh the second time around. LOVE DIVE‘s weakest point, but not by much, was the instrumental break we get in place of a bridge. While I liked the whispery vocals and the light but consistent percussion, that constant alarm-like whistle just didn’t work right for me. The part did need something there to fill the void, but the chosen sound just didn’t cut it. Once again, there were strong vocals from the members, with some of my favourite moments already mentioned above. Overall, LOVE DIVE is a strong addition to IVE’s portfolio that adds to the groundwork laid out by their debut track.

The music video was fun and worked well with the song. But there was not much of a personal connection to really ‘pull me’ into the song. For the most part, the video showed images of the members enjoying their time and hanging together. I didn’t really get much else of the video. The song had a strong independence message, with the lyrics portraying how one should dive into love anytime if they have the courage to love (description taken from SOOMPI). I would have liked to see that better reflected in the video. The good thing was their choreography shots showed us confidence and power, which aids with the first bit of the song’s description.

The entire performance for this comeback is top notch! I liked the entire look and feel of the choreography. It showed off the charisma and stage presence of the group extremely well, with this being felt strongly during the dance break section of the performance.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Review] ELEVEN – IVE

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Making their debut earlier in the week is IVE, who kicks off their careers with the single ELEVEN. IVE is a six-member female group under Starship Entertainment, the home to acts such as MONSTA X, WJSN, CRAVITY, Jeong Sewoon and many others. The lineup of IVE consist of  Yujin, Gaeul, Rei, Wonyoung, Liz, and Leeseo. Some fans might recognise Yujin and Wonyoung, as they were formerly part of IZ*ONE before IZ*ONE disbanded in April this year.

Even though it has been out for a couple of days now, I find ELEVEN to be an alright song. It is good in some senses, but I felt like it could have been better. The good thing about ELEVEN is that I can tell it will be a grower for me, and probably within a few weeks time, my opinions of ELEVEN might be much more positive than today. But until then, here are my thoughts on ELEVEN as it stands. The tribal-like percussion in the instrumental was very refreshing. I know we have heard it recently in another song, but I find its profoundness and prominence in ELEVEN to be exciting and appealing. For me, the verses were plain and monotonous. I wished there was a bit more flair to this part of the song, especially given the rest of the song. The vocals were decent here (I liked that the nasally tone the second vocalist in the song brought to the first verse), but they just didn’t have too much going on to really interest me. And I feel that this particular comment can also be applied to the entire song. Anyhow, what does make the song interesting those pre-chorus slowdowns. While we do get those from time to time to help make the chorus more explosive, ELEVEN‘s application of this technique is a lot more extreme, as you could really fill that the song was winding down. The rap-speak tone also helps out here. The pairing adds a unique touch to the song, which plays well with my comment of attracting attention. But with such a set up, I felt the chorus was a bit underwhelming. It was not as explosive as it could have been, and the melodies/hooks in the chorus were not as memorable. The only memorable part of the chorus was the ‘1,2,3,4,5,6,7, you make me feel like eleven‘ ending to the chorus, and even that was a bit soft. The rest of the song repeats the setup of the first verse and chorus, both for the second and final section of the song (with a bit of an extension at the end of the song). While this does sound like it would have been repetitive, I didn’t mind it as much. Overall, ELEVEN seems like a strong debut song, even though the song could have been better in some regards.

I know views are not everything. But they are particularly vital for groups starting out, as they are a good way to gauge attraction. If IVE’s debut views are anything to go by (at the time of writing, they have garnered over 28.5 million views within four days), they definitely have a lot of potential. They are doing even better than some of the top groups who have very recently released new music! Aside from views, I really like the mature vibe of the music video, which compliments the song. The sets looks great and elegant, while the matureness flows into some of their outfits (i.e. those white suits and blue gloves are definitely a memorable image from the video). The cinematography also helps make the music video look amazing. Definitely a strong music video!

Like the music video, the choreography for ELEVEN definitely a strong routine. The hip-shaking during the song’s main hook was definitely an unforgettable moment for me. The group’s charisma also needs to be mentioned, as they felt like they have been performing for many years than what they already have under their belt. I liked the contrast that the aggression brings to the performance, with Yujin being the standout member thanks to her aggressive facial expressions. It was subtle, but it definitely made the performance a whole lot captivating.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10