[Review] Cookie – Lee Hong Gi (FT Island) ft. Jung Ilhoon (BTOB)

Another solo return from another artist! This time, it is Lee Hong Ki with Cookie. Lee Hong Gi made his solo debut back in 2015 with Insensible, which earned him two weekly music show awards. And while it has taken him 3 years to return, Lee Hong Gi has been active in dramas, variety shows and also FT Island comebacks (the most recent being Summer’s Night Dream.

I personally expected Lee Hong Gi to release a ballad for his solo comeback. So it was very unexpecting to hear tropical influences in his song. It feels like an attempt to modernise his sound for the current market, which is a complete opposite to what FT Island is doing. But it is still a fairly decent song. And even though it is a tropical house sound, Hong Gi brings his signature husky vocals, so you can’t really go wrong there.  I personally really like the bridge as it brings out the best out of the vocals and instrumentation. Jung Ilhoon (from BTOB) also makes an appearance in the song. Surprisingly, his section is earlier on in the song and was fairly short. As the song progressed, I was kind of expecting Ilhoon to rejoin to fully complete the song, Just it never happened. I am also not too sure about the odd whisper of ‘You should wait for the cookies‘ at the end. What context is this in?

I am not too sure on what is going on in the video. It looks like Hong Gi is some alien with anti-gravitational powers that he may not be able to control. When he walks inside the building, the things around him start floating away. When he is supposedly meant to face off with Ilhoon, he causes both of them to float around. And everyone comes around him for some floating experience. I guess it would be cool. It isn’t the most interesting video but it boring in any way. Fun observation: Hong Gi also released a pre-release single with Cheetah featuring on it (review coming soon), which was also shot in a barn (and I assume it is the same one).

What perked my interest with this comeback is that it was going to feature some choreography Lee Hong Gi doesn’t dance when it comes to FT Island comebacks, so it was going to be interesting. I have to admit, while it isn’t much, he pulled it off well without looking awkward (which is the case for first-time dancers) and he looked really proud of himself. Good job!

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


[Review] She’s Gone – Jung Ilhoon (BTOB)

Jung Ilhoon, the main rapper from boy group BTOB, has featured in many tracks of other soloists and groups. On top of that, he has also developed as a producer over the years. Now, he has made his official solo debut with She’s Gone. It is the main title track featured on his debut mini-album, titled as Big Wave.

Let me start off by saying that this is an excellent song. What makes She’s Gone so good, for me at least, is that the song grows as it progresses. Rather than having a slight buildup, the entire song is built up with various sounds and textures as it plays, which makes it a very interesting track. Not only that but it gives the song some character, making it a song to check out. The song is heavily centred around the hip-hop genre, which was expected. Starting off the song, however, is a guitar riff that reminds me of country music. It then progresses into something similar to rock, all the while keeping true to the hip-hop sound.  Ilhoon both sings and raps in this song. The rapper Ilhoon has been seen multiple times before but his raspy vocals (which we don’t see often) make this track even better. The choruses are amazing drawing my attention to the song. In particular, the accumulation of all that energy in the song is presented in an explosive manner during the final chorus, which makes listening to this song worthwhile.

The entire music video is quite fast-paced, which matches the tempo of the song. Everything in the video was filled with angst and had an edgy vibe to it, which makes sense. The song is about the feeling you would get after seeing an ex-lover whom you did not part ways on a good note. So all that feeling was portrayed well in the music video. It is a good video which pairs well with the song on so many levels.

I feel like the dancing in the music video was more suitable for the live performance. Mainly because the choreography we do see on stage is relatively slow and not that energy packed like the song. That being said, I can’t help think the slowness in the dance seems to contrast nicely with the song and I was quite satisfied when I watched the performances.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 8.9/10


[Review] Movie – BTOB

BTOB has made their return to the stage with their 10th mini album, Feel’Em and the title track Movie. They last promoted I’ll Be Your Man in November of last year and Remember That in March of last year. The group was also active in Japan during 2016 with multiple releases. And if you are looking for an album review for their 10th mini album, which will also include their pre-release track, Someday, expect it this weekend, if time permits.

Movie brings the guys back to their fun and lighthearted days in music. While you may argue that is probably every other day in their lives, I am referring to the period where they released songs like You’re So Fly or Beep Beep. Unlike though songs, the group utilises a more funky instrumental, which uses more standard instrumental rather than synths or any electronic sounds. That alone brings out the lightheartedness and brighter vibe. While BTOB has shown off their vocals through their past releases of ballads and subunit releases, the group’s vocals for the song are quite underwhelming. The same goes for their raps. While both fit the song quite nicely, I personally wasn’t blown away or impressed with what I heard. However, the vocals and raps do show how much they have improved and grown since debut. There was, however, parts of the song that I enjoyed quite a bit. The small sequences that Ilhoon and Minhyuk have after each chorus, for example, do seem like they mismatch with the overall sound of the song. But for some reason, it fits in quite nicely and gives off a much-needed ‘palate cleanser’. In other words, the parts do keep the song interesting and make the song, along with its catchy chorus, quite memorable. For how long though, I don’t know. It all depends on their promotional cycle now (and my randomising playlist for 2017).

Like the song, the music video also goes for a more fun and lighthearted concept. The video itself is about the guys having fun by filming themselves. However, in their minds, their acting is Oscar award worthy. Oh, how imagination can take you a long way. The video is quite heavy on the comedy and it actually makes the video worth watching. While the sets and individual scenes plain and boring, their comedic acting (or is it really acting? These guys are already like this in the real life – or at least when they are off stage) save the video from boredom. But as I just said, there isn’t anything else that is flashy or impressive in the video.

Likewise, the choreography didn’t stand out. It isn’t as memorable or catchy as some of their previous dances. The song doesn’t really have any parts that could lead to a more eye-catching choreography, but what we see is something that fits the feel and sound of the song. I do think they also inserted a bit of their previous choreography for I’ll Be Your Man. Not sure if it was just a coincidence or intentional.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10


[Review] You Seem Busy – MelodyDay ft. Jung Ilhoon (BTOB)

MelodyDay has returned with a brand new single. The last time we saw them on stage was through the promotions of Colour, last year. Unfortunately, I didn’t get time to review their comeback last year. As you can tell from the title of this review, their newest track is titled as You Seem Busy and it features Ilhoon from BTOB.

The girls came back with a much slower song, compared to that last few releases. I love the ballad instrumental in the song. To me, it sounds very calming and soothing. Throw in their vocals, along with Ilhoon’s rap, and the song pretty much makes you sway along with it. Not technically fond of the first verse, as it felt quite dry. But those final moments leading up to the first chorus really builds the song up from out of nothing, launching straight into the chorus quite well. The rest of the song doesn’t really repeat that same sort of impact and that does leave the song hanging a bit. The only other flaw with the song is that it can fall into the more “generic ballad” catergory.  It did take a few listens to shake that feeling off. It wasn’t until I unexpectedly listened to the song (through YouTube automatic recommedantions) did I actually notice the impact and the song itself.

The music video tells the story of a waiter who seems to just be pushing through with work to just pass the day (or make a living). The same thing happens every single day, which makes his life dull and boring. On this paritcular day, the customers (the two comedians) give him a hard time. One of them notices him and starts a conversation, while the other one becomes jealous and tells the waiter to essentially get lost. He takes some time out and notices the girls on stage, who are in fact MelodyDay themselves. They perform their song, which also lifts his spirits, which leaves a smile on his face. It isn’t a flashy video, but very fitting for the song, as both goes hand-in-hand with each other (just check the English lyrics in the video below). A nice video to watch.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

Remember That – BTOB

BTOB has finally returned after a highly successful year last year. The last year allowed the boys to sweep the ballad awards at the start of the year, for the previous year (there was so much grammatical errors there, don’t judge). And once again, BTOB has returned with a Spring ballad to warm everyone’s hearts. Solo wise, Sungjae and Minhyuk have been enjoying a lot of popularity through their acting. Not exactly sure of the other members, but I have seen them here and there, every now and then.

Once again it is a RNB ballad. My same opinion applies: I preferred hip hop and pop music BTOB. However, this is an excellent song that sounds really good. The song has this very sweet vibe to it (despite the lyrics singing the total opposite, as the song reminds of the happy times they once had and cannot get back). While listening to the song, I cannot help but smile, as it has the tune which you would associate with happy memories. Or at least, that is what happened to me. I think that is due to the vocals. There is no hint of sadness in their vocals and that brings that sweet vibe into play. Vocally, this song is stunning. Even Ilhoon took a stab at singing. Sure, he isn’t the best singer out there (he is their main rapper), but he manages to sound really good and suits the song really well. I would have thought that Minhyuk would sing instead, but he stuck to rapping the very last part of the song. Sungjae, Eunkwang, Changsub and Hyunsik all sound really good (mentioned it already, but you must know). Peniel, still a little confused on his role in the group, but those small lines he gets really fit his voice and rap really well. The instrumental also gives off that Spring feel, which I really like (It is Autumn and cold here. I need the sun and warmness. This song delivers). Overall, great song.

This is a nice video, but a little boring to watch. Minhyuk reflects upon his past relationship when Spring comes rolling by. He unlocks the room, as if he is unlocking his memory bank. Inside the room there are objects that he associates with those happy, but at the same time, heartbreaking moments. The other members just look pretty and end up noticing the Spring rolling through. Though it looks like they are experiencing the exact same thing and having the exact same feels. Love the use of the cherry blossom, which is used to symbolise the Spring (and is often used as symbol of love in a lot of Korean associated media). The wind was really nice (and probably felt nice, especially under all that nice sunshine). Minhyuk’s and Jo Bo Ah’s (the lead actress) acting was pretty good, but it did make the video feel very dead. Their chemistry wasn’t protrayed as well and the addition of the members made it feel very detached from the song. Just my thoughts though.

The dance… Yeah, there wasn’t much of a dance. Finally, ballads without the dance. I smell the fresh air already. It was actually more like “movement around to microphone stands to get everyone a chance to stand in the middle and have the spotlight on them”.

Overall, I think it was an excellent comeback. Definitely a song to “remember”. 9/10


Way Back Home – BTOB

BTOB is back with a brand new ballad, just months after their hit It’s Okay was released. I honestly expected that the boys would have returned back to their upbeat more pop like songs this time around, so when I found out it would be a ballad I was disappointed. But I did kind of liked their last ballad and this one was pretty good as well. But once again, the ballad theme, does not really win me over like their past dance songs. This song has that more Autumn feel with it, which reflects the season in which Korea is in right now!!! Solely judged on a ballad, I thought the song was quite soothing and nice to listen to. I am finding that I am listening to this song constantly. I feel like the rap blends really well into the song and the bridge, while it changes the song up a bit, manages to still keep the flow going and allows the song to progress smoothly. Overall it is a good ballad, but once again, not a sound that I associate with the group.

As for the music video, there is an actual plot line in it. It is a rather long video and each member appears in it (just a small fact). Okay, the plot. Ilhoon leaves home for quite some time, leaving his mother to worry for him. During that time, he and Changsub (the duo) steals money and ends getting attacked for the money. They join a gang after meeting an old friend (Hyunsik), but realize soon after that the gang is attacking the people who live in the same area as his mother. So he turns against the gang (and his old friend), in order to protect his mother during the fight. Their old friend finds out after to why they turned against the gang and apologises for what his done and with the help of Changsub, rekindles their friendship.  Essentially the video is about finding the “way back home”, where home refers to the people around you. In this case, Ilhoon’s home was his family and Hyunsik’s home was his friendship with Ilhoon. Such a happy ending for a video that almost made me cry during the middle. Though you might not understand anything, give the video a try. The acting was great and the cinematography was amazing. I personally think the video is giving out a good message.

I don’t think a dance was required for the song. Though it would look weird for them just to stand there, I personally think they should have just foregone the dance and has the live performance of just rapping and singing.

Overall the song was great. but not a BTOB style song for me. I personally recommend the video. Catch the moral of the story hahaha… 7/10

Roll Deep – Hyuna (4Minute) ft. Jung Ilhoon (BTOB)

Hyuna’s back. Now sing it like how she sings it in Red. Hahaha… The sexy soloist is back with a brand new mini album. This time she has enlisted more people to help her with their mini album. Her title track features Jung Ilhoon, the rapper from BTOB. Now her group is rumoured to be having a comeback sometime towards the end of the year. They made their last comeback in February, with the really popular and successful Crazy. But let’s focus on the rapper of the group. She has taken sexy to a whole new level this time around.

There are always a few things that annoys me when I listen to Hyuna’s song. The first is that she is a rapper and her singing is not the best. To be honest, it is whiny and really disappointing to listen to. However, this track seems to prove me wrong. Her voice, to me, has been manipulated in a way that allows her to take advantage of it. I don’t think her vocals in this song is at all whiny nor terrible. Sure they can use some work, but damn, her vocals fit in this song really well. Would people described this as “dirty” dubstep or electro? Cause that is what I think I would catergorise it. Is it even a genre? I don’t even know. Her English needs a little bit of work. Sometime I hear “You Can Touch Me” instead of “You can’t touch me”. Ilhoon’s rap is pretty good in this song. It is quite short, but after all he is featuring in this track and not forming some kind of subunit. The song is catchy and addictive. It is a pity that it is not ranking high on the charts.

As for the music video, wow. Hyuna has gotten a little… kinky. Whips and different outfits (even the leashes) all point to some sort of kinky concept. Though I do think it suits her, maybe for this video, it is going a little over board. There is one outfit/scene that need to be removed from this video.  Hyuna’s money bathing suit. It looks bad. It doesn’t suit her. Nor does the set of money decorating the table. As for Ilhoon, I want to talk to the stylist or director. If you need tattoos like that to look cool and sexy, there is obviously something wrong. I don’t mind one or two tattoos. But as soon as I see them over the body, there is some rethinking that needs to occur. The rest of Ilhoon’s appearance though, they can be removed. While I don’t mind him, the things he do draws attention way from Hyuna.  But beside all of those minor complaints, I think this video is pretty good. The lighting and sets highlight the concept further and brings a lot of attention to her.

I do hope 4Minute is not recycling their dance moves. There is one dance move that I saw in Crazy, that occurs here. Not saying she or 4Minute owns the dance move, but really? I’m talking about her “head down, butt in the air” shaking move. Actually, while the dance break fits the song, I think it would draw more criticisms than compliments for this video. But the dance, once again, does a pretty good job at highlighting the extent that the “sexy concept” has been brought up for this comeback.

Sexy enough? I probably think so. It is a solid comeback. Minor complaints here and there, but I just want to know why it is doing poorly on the charts! 7.5/10.