BTS’ Dynamite was voted by you to be the Best International Song By a Korean Artist. All songs from this review moving forward, including the songs in this review, will be eligble for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Check them out and remember to vote for your favourite at the end of the year. In the meanwhile, check out the winners for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards.
Welcome to the first International Song Review post of 2021. KPOP artists aren’t just focused on the Korean pop music industry. They have embarked on multiple other music video industries include the Japanese, Chinese and Western music industries. As they are released by Korean artists, I feel the obligation to review them like any other song released by the artists in Korea. But as they are not from the primary industry (i.e. KPOP), I decided to lump the reviews into one post. This allows me to focus on the primary review of Korean songs, but also allow me to ‘keep up’ with the releases outside of Korea. In this post, I will be focusing on songs released in the Western and Japanese music industries by Korean artists in late November 2020 and January 2021. I would recommend you check them all out. They include Chungha, Baekhyun, Dream Catcher, Jung Daehyun and TWICE.
Dream of You – Chungha (with R3HAB)
Dream of You is actually a Korean song released all in English. To give you some context, Dream of You is a pre-release single for her now-released first studio album that dropped earlier in the week. We all first heard the song at the end of November 2020 and it became part of the buildup towards Chungha’s grand return to the domestic market. What really stands out with Dream of You is the funky thumping instrumentation (which felt quite classy and dynamic all at the same time). The electronic nature of the instrumentation just makes it groovier. It is quite simple in hindsight, but it feels quite loaded when you consider the song as a whole. Chungha shows off her vocal flair throughout the song, delivering the song’s mature lyrics in a very complimenting manner. If Dream of You needed to prove its potential for Chungha to flourish in the Western market, then it did its job well. The music video released in conjunction back in November 2020 is actually a performance video. It showcases Chungha and her male dancers performing the song with an uber sensual choreography. There is a modern femme fatale vibe that comes from it, which I really enjoyed. It also felt like an extension of her Stay Tonight music video that was released earlier in 2020. I really the scenes where she performance in a suit and a hat. It just made the performance more impactful and interesting to watch. This release as a whole proves to me that Chungha is a performer that any industry should be afraid of. (10/10)
Get You Alone – Baekhyun (EXO)
It seems like the ongoing funky trend is spreading to other industries as well. Get You Alone is Baekhyun’s Japanese solo debut title track and it was first unveiled on the 3rd of January 2021 at his solo concert. The song has this casual upbeat vibe which makes it quite a pleasant listen. It isn’t really the most exciting song out there. But it manages to show off Baekhyun’s vocals quite nicely, emphasising the smoothness of his vocals and its husky profile. His ad-libs throughout Get You Alone and especially during the bridge is definitely the song’s icing on the cake. The music video shows a nerdy version of Baekhyun wanting to ask out someone he is interested in. But that person cruelly rejects him. He turns to the help of a more confident and experienced version of Baekhyun (the talk show host), who tells him what to do to be successful in the dating department (i.e. setting the mood, teaching him about manners and to make sure he smells nice – which resulted in a classy wardrobe change). I wished we got to see whether the changes and work put in paid off. It would have completed the story in a fulfilling manner. I liked the sets of the video. There isn’t anything special about them, but they managed to emphasis the funky tones of the song. The choreography shown throughout the music video was quite good and paired well with the song. (8/10)
No More – Dream Catcher
We all know Dream Catcher for their infusion of rock influences in their title tracks, regardless of the music industry they are releasing it in. What makes it even better is that Dream Catcher almost always puts a fresh spin on it. They found a niche in the KPOP industry and have managed to continued marketing towards that niche without tiring out listeners. But I don’t think we have ever heard anything with high intensity as No More. Released at the end of November 2020, No More literally charges at you with its relentless energy. It quite thrilling and powerful, all rolled into three minute long song. I really like how Dami’s rap cuts through the intensity by having the rock instrumentation stripped away into an almost trap-electronic piece. It does feel fitting for the song as a whole and brings some mid-song relief. The music video for No More doesn’t actually the members. I am assuming the anime characters that we do see are anime version of the members, though I haven’t found any information on who they are. The music video also doubles up as a lyrics video, showing the lyrics of the song of the song. I also like the transitions of the video. They do feel erratic, but most importantly, they matching the intensity of the song. As the video doesn’t feature the members and the anime character are simply images, there is not associated choreography with this comeback. (8.6/10)
Amazing – Jung Daehyun
Jung Daehyun, a member of the now inactive B.A.P, made his solo comeback in Korea with his first Japanese single back in November 2020. The new song is titled Amazing and it was officially released at the end of November 2020. But the music video was released for a month prior to the official song release. It is definitely nice to hear his voice once again, especially since this is the first song I have heard from him since the release of Aight at the end of 2019. His voice does flourish in the song and the melodies are quite enjoyable. Amazing also shines in the instrumental department. Sure, there isn’t anything special about it. But like the vocals and melodies, it was quite enjoyable and acted as a decent backdrop for the solo act’s vocals. It was noticeably dominated by repetitive taps on the keyboard and there was also some brass thrown into the song to give the chorus some additional colour. The music video was quite simple at the start, but it stilled managed to look classy thanks to the outfits worn by Jung Daehyun and the dancers. The video also showcased the visuals of Jung Daehyun quite well. About half way through the video, we see Jung Daehyun and the dancers perform under rain and in a water pool. While this is something we now see often in KPOP, it made the video more visually interesting. I personally felt the red light could have been omitted, but that is the only critical comment I can make for this video. The choreography looks nice. I wished more people would view the video to watch Jung Daehyun in action and listen to the song, as this comeback is very underrated. (8.2/10)
Better – TWICE
The final song in this post is TWICE’s Better. It was released back in mid-November. If you are looking for a fulfilling pop dose from this list, Better is the song for you. While some of the other songs above are within the pop realm, none of them match Better‘s colourful energy. It is the type of song that will make you smile and get up to dance to. The song’s best part has to be the descending melody that features as the song’s pre-chorus. It is definitely quite memorable and it makes the chorus just pop out so much more. The chorus comes out as a close second, with Jihyo’s ‘Better‘ really sticking in my mind. The rapping by Chaeyoung and Dahyun has a really nice kick to it, elevating Better to a much better level. While I don’t mention the rest of the members, they all sound really amazing throughout this new song. When it comes to the music video for Better, I applaud the stylist of the video who chose their outfits. The colours were quite dull and wouldn’t necessarily be considered fashionable at first glance. But the outfit colours worked in really close harmony to the rest of the music video, making the members stand out in the video. There is still a burst of other colours throughout the video using dominance, which compliments the pop vibes of the song. I also like the casualness of the video, portrayed through the member’s outfits and the uncomplicated nature of the sets. For the choreography, I like the bouncy energy they bring forth. The bridge looks complicated, but aesthetic. (9/10)