The next mini-album up for review this week is KIHYUN’s first mini-album, YOUTH, which featured a title track that shares the exact same name. Alongside, YOUTH (the title track), four side tracks also make up the mini-album. YOUTH (both the album and title track) follows KIHYUN’s solo debut earlier in 2022 – Voyager, which was released back in March 2022. YOUTH was a neat follow up to VOYAGER, showcasing more of KIHYUN and delivering that mini-album that KIHYUN definitely deserves to flaunt his talents and undeniable potential as a solo artist. Next up on the wish list is a speedy solo comeback from KIHYUN (Side note – he just returned in MONSTA X’s Beautiful Liar) with another album.
2. Bad Liar – Kicking off Bad Liar are some vocals on a lower register, before KIHYUN soars upwards with some powerful vocals when it came to the chorus. I found the instrumental to be a dramatic one, but also quite electrifying once we get into chorus territory. I do think some more substantial electric guitar riffs would have been really cool addition to the song and taken Bad Liar to even more electrifying heights. (8.5/10)
3. STARDUST – Next up on the mini-album is STARDUST. It is a straightforwardly fun and upbeat track that brings some retro synths into the mix of band instrumentation. I like the head-nodding potential behind the track and how KIHYUN sounds throughout the track. It is a fairly simple track, but definitely a standout for me on this mini-album. (9/10)
4. Where Is This Love – Where Is This Love is an all-English ballad that really showcases KIHYUN’s vocals. I honestly did not expect an all-English track from the soloist, let alone an all-English ballad. This is probably the hardest type of an all-English track, given that is it hard for a non-English speaker (regardless of their vocal abilities) to convey emotions just as well as when they are singing in their mother tongue. But he does just that. Throughout Where Is This Love, I really liked how KIHYUN shows range with this track, going effortlessly between soft whispery moments and the more powerful moments where KIHYUN really shows emotions. It is a nice balance between delicate and passion, which makes Where Is This Love a strong track. (9/10)
5. ‘Cause of You – ‘Cause of You ends the album with a soft and lovely pop track. I believe there are some acoustics influences present in this track, along with some piano work and very light and subtle sprinkling of synths in the background. It is a very airy track, overall. Melody and vocal-wise, I didn’t find the track interesting. KIHYUN does sound pleasant throughout ‘Cause of You, but it isn’t his most impressive display of vocals on the album. (7/10)
This review kicks off a big week of reviews coming to you on this blog. And that honour of the day goes to KIHYUN, who returns as a solo artist after his solo debut with VOYAGER seven months ago. The new single is titled Youth and is featured on his first mini-album of the same name. KIHYUN also participated in MONSTA X’s comeback earlier this year, LOVE.
Youth follows on neatly from his solo debut track, with both tracks falls into the rock genre. However, we aren’t talking about copies here. Youth is more on the alternative side of the genre and there is some really good energy coming from the song. Within the first listen, I was digging the sound and having a bit of a dance in my seat. That is probably the best first impression you could get with any song. KIHYUN did a superb job in terms of vocals, once again. I really liked the huskier tone he adopts in the verses of Youth and the way his vocals push upwards to give us a more explosive chorus. The melody was just fine, but I found it to be fulfilling given the way his vocals rode the energy that came from the instrumental. This created a satisfying centrepiece to Youth. His lower vocals at the end of Youth was also stunning way to close up the song, making the song feel complete, especially following the high of the chorus. However, with a few more listens in the bag, I have consistently been caught off guard with the fact that Youth is short. I wanted more to the song. Maybe the ending we got potentially could have been a false one, and KIHYUN had another go at the chorus to catch us off guard. This doesn’t change the fact that Youth is good and that I am happy with Youth. But hopefully we can get a longer title track from KIHYUN in the future.
YOUTH’s lyrics expresses the emotions felt by a person at the crossroads between their younger and current self. It touches on the whole idea of maturing into an adult, but also wishing those days when we were young to return. I felt the music video depicted KIHYUN as his younger and current self quite well. We see KIHYUN as his younger self in the first half of the video, with him jumping about in the bedroom and having fun at the playground, just like a young kid would be doing. His current self is depicted in the second half of the video, but I think we see two sides. We first saw what his younger self had thought he would become when he matures into an adult – dark and lonely. But we a truer representation of KIHYUN now when he is in the studio taking photos and videos towards the end. And he definitely looks content and happy about where he is now. It is a nice video that woks extremely well with the lyrics and has a deep meaning.
Song – 8.5/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.7/10
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)
As mentioned yesterday on Twitter (yes, I have a Twitter account – @kpopreviewed), there would be two album reviews today (as I was slightly busy yesterday). The second album review of the day is for KIHYUN’s official solo debut, which occurred back in March of this year. The solo debut was titled VOYAGER, and is the title for both the lead single and single album. In addition to VOYAGER, the single album also consist of two additional side tracks. Following his solo debut, KIHYUN returned with MONSTA X through their LOVEand Shape of Love comeback (which I will be writing an album review for some time in the future). It was also recently announced that KIHYUN had renewed his contract with Starship Entertainment.
I am a bit disappointed that KIHYUN’s solo debut came in the form of three songs (i.e. the very typical length for a single album). It is far too short to appreciate what KIHYUN has to offer. He definitely deserves a mini-album, at the very least. But hey, this is what KIHYUN has provided us, so I shouldn’t be complaining. Again, a strong album release from this seasoned KPOP artist. VOYAGER takes the cake for best song on the album, but the other two songs have their own charm. Continue scrolling to see what I thought about those songs.
2. , (COMMA) – COMMA continues the pop rock vibe from the title track, but opts for a much softer and more emotional atmosphere, expressing his own desire to take a break or rest when he is lost, similar to how a comma brings a brief pause in a sentence. It is a completely different energy to what we got before it, as KIHYUN’s vocals convey more emotions in this song. I quite like the oomph he puts behind his vocals during the chorus, in contrast with the softer approach he takes in the verses. It makes for a slightly more riveting piece. The instrumental feels on trend, but I wished it was a bit more innovative, just so COMMA can have a bit of an edge. (8/10)
3. RAIN – RAIN opts for a more intense instrumental piece, featuring what felt like a slow burning rock instrumental. The intensity is so gripping, it was quite hard to be distracted from the song (or to turn away from the song). KIHYUN’s vocals are powerful and felt so loaded, particularly during the chorus, which in turn felt relatively explosive. I did like how he kept held himself back throughout RAIN, keeping that energy and intensity simmering away until the end to make it a captivating piece. (9/10)
Next up on the comeback rush of this week is KIHYUN, MONSTA X’s main vocalist, who made his solo debut yesterday with the track VOYAGER and single album of the same name. KIHYUN is the second member to go solo, with fellow rappers Joohoney and I.M being the first members of MONSTA X to have officially released solo tracks (i.e. Joohoney with his mixtapes and I.M’s God Damn). But this review is for KIHYUN’s latest song, so let’s check it out.
As a main vocalist, I expected KIHYUN to go down the typical route of a ballad of some sort for his solo promotions. But VOYAGER is no ballad. Instead, VOYAGER delves into an upbeat rock profile that is both refreshing and lively to listen to. The consistent drumming in the chorus was definitely a highlight for me. VOYAGER isn’t strictly just rock though, with the instrumental composed in a way to be almost funky, tapping into current trends in KPOP. There are also some jazzy undertones in VOYAGER when the piano becomes more present in the bridge, which gives VOYAGER a nice accent. Other than the instrumental, KIHYUN does an amazing job vocally to make VOYAGER more dynamic and charismatic. I really like the cheerful tone to his vocal colours in the chorus, which makes VOYAGER instantly appealing. This also compliments the upbeat nature of the song. I noticed a slight raspy texture to his voice that allows him to work so well with rock instrumentation. I would definitely be down to hear more of KIHYUN as a solo artist, in particular exploring more of the rock genre, as he is well suited from how VOYAGER was pulled off and what we heard.
Not exactly sure if the music video is meant to string together and form some sort of theme or message. It seems like there might be hints towards one, but nothing too recognisable. Instead, the video comes together more so like a collection of closeup shots of KIHYUN. This is absolutely fine and would make for a great video. I just got the impression that there should have been something in this video to pull everything together in this video. But aside from that, I liked how confident and cheerful he appeared, which comes off and stays with you after watching the video.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8.6/10