Never did I think this would be pulled off, but Wanna One has regrouped for the release of a special single, Beautiful (Part 3). This new single was performed by the group for the first time at the 2021 MAMAs (with the exception of Lai Kuan Lin, who was promoting in China), and was then confirmed for release on 27 January 2022. For a brief second in the days prior of Beautiful (Part 3)’s release, there was a possibility that the group would be unable to release the song due to some contracts not being signed by companies, but I am glad to see that they managed to pull everything together in time for the scheduled release. There are ongoing plans for a reunion concert and future album release, however, those plans appear to be slightly rocky with Hwang Minhyun and Ong Seong Woo’s companies announcing that their respective artists would not participate due to focus on their own group’s work and scheduling issues. I guess we have to wait and see if a concert and album can occur. But for the time being, we have a special single on our side.
Like the original Beautiful title track and Beautiful (Part 2) (featured as a side track on the group’s first and only studio album), Beautiful (Part 3) falls into the ballad category. It, as a whole track, definitely brings forth a sentimental and nostalgic feeling, which is no doubt the route that the members and the producers were going for. The pre-choruses in Beautiful (Part 3) were a capsule of these exact emotions, as the melodies and some of the lyrics connect the three tracks together. Elsewhere, Beautiful (Part 3) was new and original. I really liked the burst of sound when it came to the chorus. It, along with the rock elements that featured in the choruses, just took the otherwise simple ballad to the next level. Vocally, it was extremely nice to hear everyone as Wanna One again and I am happy to hear that Lai Kuan Lin managed to get a part in the song despite not being part of the reunion performance. Kim Jae Hwan’s vocals stood out the most of the pack, living up to this main vocalist position in the group. That being said, however, all the other members showcased their exceptional vocals in the song, highlighting their improvement from their post-Wanna One days. I am also glad to hear some rapping from the rappers (Kang Daniel, Park Ji Hoon, Kim Woo Jin, Lai Kuan Lin) as the instrumental for Beautiful (Part 3) allowed for it. Overall, Beautiful (Part 3) lives up to its name, just like the original and Part 2 did, and is a ‘beautiful’ reminder of the group.
The music video showcased shots from their MAMA performance back in December 2021, both on-stage and off-stage. It too did exactly what the song did, evoke these sentimental and nostalgic emotions. I liked how the editors synced up with shots of the actual performance with the lyrics of the song, allowing the performance to serve multiple purposes (i.e. MAMA award performance, this music video). I also liked the inserts of behind the scene shots (both video and images). It helped made the video even more special, especially for the fans of the group. I also wish to point out that it was extremely nice to see the members be given an opportunity to interact with fans and the audience (though from the stage, but still better than nothing!).
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9/10
One of the comebacks that occurred whilst I was on break for Christmas and New Years was made by Kim Jae Hwan. The soloist wraps up the year with his fourth mini-album (The Letter), which was released as soon as the Christmas holidays had passed and we were in that limbo awaiting the new year. Leading the charge on this mini-album is the title track Unforgettable. This is Kim Jae Hwan’s second comeback in 2021, with the first being April’s I Wouldn’t Look For You.
Unforgettable is a ballad that captivates me. And I am sure the song has captivated a lot more people as well. Without a doubt, the standout element of Unforgettable is Kim Jae Hwan’s vocals, who really portrays the heartfelt emotions and sadness behind the lyrics so well. I really enjoyed how powerful and piercing the vocals are during the chorus, with this really pulling your attention right into his vocals and helps with captivating me. The instrumental for Unforgettable is more on the typical side of ballads, with an orchestral backdrop to Kim Jae Hwan’s vocals. But this doesn’t weaken the song. In fact, I feel that the orchestral elements help build Unforgettable, allowing Kim Jae Hwan’s vocals to reach its powerful nature in a balanced and regulated manner. And like other ballads that captivate me, Unforgettable gets me closing my eyes to take the entire song in and swaying along to the melody – signs of a great ballad. To me, there is nothing wrong with Unforgettable, earning the second 10/10 of the year!
In addition to the emotional vocals we get from Kim Jae Hwan, the music video brings an additional emotional layer that really gets to you. Well, it did for me, at least. Kim Jae Hwan sings about unforgettable memories, which the music video shows he shares with the female character. The pair appears to be quite close, donning matching wooden rings. However, we do see that there is a bit of hesitancy in the relationship from both parties. Soon, we are lead to believe that the couple breaks up and we see Kim Jae Hwan adjust to the lack of his companion. However, I think the ending reveals that she in fact had passed on (this was a bit of a hazy detail in the story, and I wished it was better clarified) and that he was laying flowers at the site where she died, with the flowers bounded to one another with the same wooden ring in which the pair had exchanged with one another. While this wasn’t a plot twist, it just made the story incredibly sadder to watch and made the song more emotional upon reflection. Kim Jae Hwan’s acting in the video was also very good in this video.
Song –10/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9.6/10
Next up on the list of solo reviews is Kim Jae Hwan. The former Wanna One member began his solo career in 2019 with releases such as Begin Again and The Time I Need. He then entered a fairly quiet year in 2020 (he did release a few singles, but there was no notable or significant comebacks). Over a year in from his last major comeback, Kim Jae Hwan finally returns with his third mini-album, Change, and the lead single, I Wouldn’t Look For You.
I Wouldn’t Look For You delves back into the Latin pop trend that has been dominating KPOP for the past few years. Personally, I don’t mind this influence in this song, as it felt refreshing with all the guitar work for the entirety of the song and the horns that come into play during the chorus. And this Latin pop influence is all over a basic balladry piano piece, tapping into the genre that Kim Jae Hwan is probably most known for. The rain sound effect was also nice touch, aiding in the delivery of the emotional side of the song. Altogether, the instrumental is very enjoyable and pleasing to me. But the instrumental, especially in this song, only contribute to a small part to the song’s appeal. I Wouldn’t Look For You‘s biggest asset is Kim Jae Hwan vocals. With some songs, the instrumental is what what really plays a big part of getting it over the line to being likeable in my books. This is the case for the more upbeat dance tracks that thrive on dynamism and energy. Like most ballads, the vocals play the most important role especially in songs where the instrumental is fairly consistent throughout the entire song (which is the case for this song). In I Wouldn’t Look For You, Kim Jae Hwan infuses so much emotion into the song. He pushes the song forward with his heartbreaking tone, especially when it came to the chorus. It definitely made the song captivating and worthwhile to listen to. His autotuned high note after the stilling bridge was also really good (and it sounds even better live!). Overall, another really strong showing of Kim Jae Hwan in this song.
Finally, a video with a plot line that I can make sense of! It has been a while, but here is what I think is going on in the video. It seems like Kim Jae Hwan’s character nowadays is more preoccupied with hanging with friends (or are those his bandmates) than with his girlfriend. Once lovey dovey (i.e. Kim Jae Hwan would play music to his girlfriend, while she stares lovingly at them), the pair now fight often, leading to Kim Jae Hwan leaving. However, he makes a stop and attempts to get in touch with her to apologise. Whichever way he gets into contact with her, he is unsuccessful. So I am guessing here that he assumes that she doesn’t want to be with him anymore and continues to drive off into the distance. My guess is that he thinks by going back, he would be doing no good and continue cause grief to her. Hence, he chooses not to find her. Unfortunately, as Kim Jae Hwan races off into the distance, the weather causes him to crash and die. His girlfriend hears of this and is heartbroken when she goes out to the crash site. It is definitely a heartbreaking story and one worth watching.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9/10
It has been a long time coming, but I have finally decided to make a start on reviewing a certain type of song that I barely looked at in the past but have wanted to write about for a while now – OST songs. OST (otherwise known as Official Sound Tracks) have been a big part of KPOP. Many of the idols we know and love have gone onto being big name actors, whiles others have had to the privilege to sing some of the most famous tracks to some of the greatest drama scenes of all time.
I personally feel that there is a misconception that OSTs are usually just ballads, but I want to prove that wrong. Furthermore, there will be a Best OST category in this year’s KPOPREVIEVED Awards (hint hint). So I have picked five OSTs throughout 2020 to review and introduce to you here (and over a number of posts). Note that I have not watched all of the dramas, so I will be reviewing the song itself – like how I write my song reviews.
You’re In My Soul – Chungha Drama: Record of Youth Release: 15 September 2020
We start off this OST Review post with a feel good song, courtesy of Record of Youth and Chungha herself (who will be return shortly with new music!). You’re In My Soul has this electronic instrumentation that brings about epic vibes. It sounds theatrical and there is a nice pop rock influence to it, which I find to be very appealing. But the promising element is 100% Chungha’s voice. It soars and lifts up the song to new highs during the chorus. The way she went with a deep tone for the verses contrasts really nice and helps makes the chorus become that more explosive. I also love the mixed of English in the Korean. Altogether, You’re In My Soul is a very attractive song. However, it isn’t perfect. There was a part following the second chorus that had overpowering instrumentation and you could barely hear her voice. Personally, I feel like that section could have just done instrumentation, as her vocals distracted me from the music whilst I was straining to hear what she was singing. But that is me being picking. My testament for this song still stands – it is very attractive piece of music. (9/10)
Please Don’t Cry – DAVICHI Drama: The King: Eternal Monarch Release: 3 May 2020
It is not possible to write about OSTs and completely disregard DAVICHI. If you are unfamiliar with this particular duo, then let me help catch you up. DAVICHI (consisting of Lee Hae Ri and Kim Min Kyung) are known for their chart topping ballads. And within the OST realm of Korean music, they are very well known for amazing OSTs, such as This Love (release for Descendants of the Sun). Please Don’t Cry comes off as one of their most impressive and captivating releases yet. It pretty much starts off like any other ballad release with beautiful piano work and gripping vocals. It is the chorus that gets to me. The very soft ‘Please Don’t Cry‘ which is followed up immediately with a deep thump had me going ‘ooh’, before we are provided with more stunning vocal work from the pair (which includes that amazing falsetto line that ends off the chorus). The rest of the song does what ballads typically do by building the instrumentation and helping the song become more powerful/ A typical move it is, but it is one that pays off. I was floored with the rest of the song and am loving the bit of intensity that the electric guitar brings. DAVICHI does it once again for me. (10/10)
Someday (어떤 날엔) – Kim Jae Hwan Drama: Crash Landing On You Release: 19 January 2020
It has been a while since we heard from Kim Jae Hwan. While he has released a few digital songs and OSTs this year, it would be nice to see back on stage with a new album. But in the meanwhile, we will need to settle with songs like Someday and his other OSTs. It is another ballad example of an OST. If I had to sum up the song, it is very nice and soothing to listen to. I don’t find anything groundbreaking in this song when it comes to the instrumentation. It is just another ballad made of band and classical instrumentation. When it comes to his voice, Someday really shows off the raspy nature of his voice, which I think is amazing. I did really enjoy the melodies in this song and it successfully gets me to sway along to the music (if you did not see last week – swaying is how I detect a good ballad). It might not be as stunning at the ballad just before this one (see review above), but Someday is still a good one. (8/10)
Aloha (아로하) – Jo Jung Seok Drama: Hospital Playlist Release: 27 March 2020
The next OST I had chosen to review is Jo Jung Seok’s own Aloha, which was released for Hospital Playlist Jo Jung Seok, who is an actor, plays one of the main characters in the drama. Given his status as one of the most popular actors in the Korean acting industry and the popularity that I saw Hospital Playlist got, Aloha was going to hit the top of the charts (which it did). It is a pop ballad that really brings a smile to your face. The cheerfulness comes from Jo Jung Seok himself, who sounds like he was smiling whilst recording the song. The instrumental isn’t really a standout and felt standard at best. But I love how it complimented Jo Jung Seok’s vocals and helped amplify the sweetness of the song and the actor’s voice. His voice was really good and I really liked how the English instantly becomes the strongest and most memorable lines in the song (and his pronunciation is super clear). Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first time to the recording booth for Jo Jung Seok, who as previously sung an OST with EXO’s D.O and has also worked in theatre before. I definitely would like to hear another OST from him in the future. (8/10)
Start Over – GAHO Drama: Itaewon Class Release: 1 February 2020
The last OST to be reviewed in this post this week (yes, another one is coming your way next week )is probably the biggest OST release of 2020. With a star studded cast and rave reviews, any OST associated with this drama was going to be elevated. And with such an easygoing vibe and really simple melodies that basically appeals to anyone, Start Over really is a prime candidate for that top spot on the charts. And I totally agree with its top spot ranking on all of the charts. It is another OST that has a sound that makes you want to smile and cuts any tension in your personal life. And since I already mentioned that the melodies were simple and easy to get into, this helped make Start Over very memorable. I really liked the upbeat vibes of the pop instrumentation and enjoyed how engaging the consistent beat in the chorus was. Gaho’s voice was very suitable for the song and empowering to listen to. Overall, I don’t have much else to say about the song. It’s top rank on the chart is justified and it is an OST that I keep on coming back to because it just works and sounds wonderfully.. (10/10)
Kim Jae Hwan is nominated for Best New Male Soloist in the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Begin Again is also eligible for Best Song of 2019. To support Kim Jae Hwan, click here to vote before the 31st of December, which is in 2 days time.
Kim Jae Hwan is the focus for the final album review for the year and decade. I will update when album reviews will return in the new year on a later date. In the meantime, we will be diving a little deep into the soloist’s second mini-album, Moment (which features two title tracks, The Time I Need and Nuna). Kim Jae Hwan also joins the list of former Wanna One members to return a second time this year. I believe that leaves Ong Seong Woo as the only member to have one comeback this year, but he has been confirmed to be coming back in January 2020.
2. After Party – While after parties tend to be full of celebration, Kim Jae Hwan’s After Party is a slow tempo track that delves into the R&B genre. I think the song is very straight forward and appealing to listen to as Kim Jae Hwan’s vocals feel very spaced out. It isn’t like other songs everything feels tight and loaded. I also enjoy the piano in the background and the simple percussion. He starts off the song in a rapping-like manner, but it progresses to showcase his vocals. I also like the inclusive nature of the chorus, which had him and the backing vocals singing together. I really like how his lyrics is remaining faithful to his partner, despite going to the after party and staying out all night. So wholesome. (9/10)
3. Nuna (Title Track) – As mentioned a few weeks ago, I do not review tracks without a music video. Nuna unfortunately fell into this category, despite it being one of Kim Jae Hwan’s title tracks for the album. The track is a lot more playful and vibrant, reflecting well with the song’s lyrics about being the younger person in the relationship. I like this vibe, which I also believe stay true to his age and personality. I thought the hooks were very catchy and aided the song in its playful tone. And based on the comments in which I am reading off YouTube, it seems like Nuna has many fangirls excited. (8/10)
4. Who Am I– Who Am I goes into the soft rock genre, which I really enjoyed. The track features his vocals in a very pleasing manner, and this really made the song stand out for me. Other that that, there really isn’t much else to the song. But it is honestly great as simple as it is, and any additional features would be unnecessary and potentially destructive. I wished I had a little more to say to the song, but I don’t. (8/10)
5. Paradise (파라다이스) (ft. Park Woojin from AB6IX) – This is super exciting track as it brings together another two former Wanna One members, which shows that they do keep in close contact with one another. Paradise seems to have a slight tropical influence to it, opting for a more typical EDM sound in this day and age. But it doesn’t get intense and remains quite light, which I quite like. The light nature is also an accurate descriptor for the melody and hooks, which I think makes the song quite pleasant. Park Woojin features a rapper in the second verse and he brings a sleek feel to the song. (8.5/10)
6. ZZZ – ZZZ seems to expresses the feelings that is present when you are spending the final moments of the day with your partner, even if they are not physically there. It is another wholesome song, which no doubtly goes extremely well with the soloist’s personality. It does have a typical feel to it, as the instrumental isn’t technically fresh or unique. However, the ZZZ that Kim Jaehwan repeats during the chorus is very catchy and I can confirm that a few listens to the song will have this hook engraved into your memory bank. (7.5/10)
Kim Jae Hwan is nominated for Best New Male Solo Artist. Begin Again isalso eligible for Best Song of 2019 (The Time I Need and Nuna are NOT eligible this time around). To support Kim Jae Hwan and your other favourite artists, click here to vote before the 31st of December.
I have one major tick box that needs to be ticked when it comes to writing these reviews. It needs a music video. When Kim Jae Hwan released The Time I Need two days ago, it did not have a music video. And hence I decided not to proceed with the review. But a music video was released yesterday, so now the review can be written. Accompanying The Time I Need is Nuna, as the second title track. But there is no music video, so no review. This is also Kim Jae Hwan’s first comeback after the release of Begin Again earlier this year.
It was slightly surprising to hear that Kim Jae Hwan didn’t release a ballad this time around as the title track. I had expected another ballad from the soloist, particularly given how ballads are well suited for the colder season. But at the same time, I am happy to hear that he is branching out with his sound in the main track off his mini-album. I found The Time I Need to be a very pleasant song. However, it is a typical pop track and it unfortunately doesn’t develop into anything grand or epic. Though, I did like the consistent fast keyboard tapping in the instrumental as it came off somewhat striking. What does earn a big tick is that Kim Jae Hwan’s voice was shown off nicely. Some parts were slightly muffled, which helped transform the song into some you would hear off a record player. I thought that was a nice and interesting touch. Overall, it was still a nice track. It just needed to develop in some manner to be even more interesting.
The main set that the music video looked really cool. The 3D clock that came out of floor is definitely going to be an iconic look. And if it doesn’t get to that status that it will definitely be an underrated set up. I also thought the colour emphasis was really good. The green scenes looked really beautiful, while the clock set were well accented with just the colour black. The sunset scenes with the yellow wall looked really nice, while Kim Jae Hwan’s red leather jacket gave off a bold look. The lighting played a really important part in the music video, especially during the sundial replication scenes. Overall, ticks all around for the music video.
A song about time should include clocks. They obviously did so in the music video. And I liked how they also included it in the choreography. The start looked really nice, with the backup dancers spinning arm clocks. The circular formations and flailing arms looked really cool during the chorus as well. The female back up dancer felt liked a shadow, which I thought looked really cool technique, as well.
Song – 7/10 Music Video – 8.5/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.7/10
This week, we continue that reunion of Wanna One that we saw a few weeks back. The ‘next’ member to return to the industry is Kim Jae Hwan, who was the only member to resign with Swing Entertainment for his solo promotions (i.e. the company that Wanna One was signed under when they were promoting as a group). While it has been a while since we have heard from Kim Jae Hwan, the artist made his official debut on Monday with Begin Again, the title track on his first mini-album, Again.
It is the expectation that the main vocalists of a group would make their debut with a ballad. We have seen this happen countless times and Kim Jae Hwan was no exception. I personally thought the ballad was rather nice. It takes on a typical piano and classical instrumental approach. So there isn’t really much to comment on in this aspect. But there many that can be made about his vocals. I like how they do shine brightly over the typical instrumental. You can his voice with no hindrance, which I think was smart. I find his voice to be charming from his previous works as part of Wanna One and I think Begin Again showcases this charming nature nicely. I also like the melody that presents itself in the chorus, which acted as a very flowy effect which I am known to enjoy. I particularly enjoyed the ending, especially how he came at us with high note after high note. It definitely gave the typical approach some uniqueness.
The video shows a couple (played by Kim Jae Hwan and actress Kim Yoo Jung). They were all lovey-dovey before, where they were playful with one another. However, something caused him to depart from the relationship (based on the lyrics). And something brought them back together again (the running around different floors scene). I am not sure about these two aspects of the video. But we see them exchange gifts (I guess as a restart to their relationship). He gives her a dress, while she gives him an emotional letter. Flash forward to the future where I think they are getting married or engaged. She wears his dress and they exchange rings. However, Kim Yoo Jung gets cold feet afterwards and takes away his ring, which I guess shows that she can’t go forward knowing how he left her and hence was unable to ‘Begin Again‘. I think this was a nice twist in the emotional love stories we see in music videos. However, I do want to know why he left her and the rest of that middle bit that I am not too sure about.
Song – 8.5/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.7/10