[Album Review] SAVIOR (4th Mini Album) – Kim Sung Kyu (INFINITE)

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Going over my list of album and song reviews that I want to cover, I note that there are a few releases from the first half of the year that I have yet to cover. One in particular is Kim Sung Kyu’s solo comeback from April, SAVIOR, which I am quite surprised I missed. I was a very big fan of Kim Sung Kyu’s solo work in the past and I would always be game to review his solo work in depth. So forgive me that this is almost seven months late, but here is my review of the fourth mini-album from the leader of INFINITE himself.

While it was a while since we last heard from him at the time of SAVIOR‘s release, I must admit the mini-album did a good job of bridging what Kim Sung Kyu is known for from his past solo discography and the more modern elements of today’s industry. I did wish more people are interested in his work, as he has a lot to offer. I personally cannot wait for another release from Kim Sung Kyu, but at least we have five songs to tie us over for the meanwhile.

SAVIOR Album Cover

1. Intro – Kicking off the mini-album is a nice yet short band piece. It is quite nice to hear drums and guitar in a pure form, as it felt like it has been a while since I have heard something straight up like this. No vocals feature in this Intro, but it still definitely did a good job of driving excitement levels up for what is to come. And if you have been a avid fan of Kim Sung Kyu, you know that an intro like this one is something that is right up his alley.

2. Savior (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Savior. (9/10)

3. My Love Will Be Yours – Following the title track is a ballad. My Love Will Be Yours is nice but it is on the fairly typical side of ballads. It does capture his vocals very well, and the instrumental was classically and orchestrally driven. But I found it to be lacking that captivation factor or a swayable/flowy melody that usually draws my attention to a ballad. It is still a good ballad nonetheless, just not one that I would find myself going back to often. (7.5/10)

4. I Dare You – I Dare You is SAVIOR‘s most interesting track. But it is this interesting factor that makes it good. I Dare You starts off with an atmospheric intro and first verse, which I would collectively liken to a suspenseful piece from a sci-fi movie. Here, Kim Sung Kyu concentrates his deeper tone, before soaring in the chorus alongside to some atmospheric rock. For the second verse, Kim Sung Kyu maintains the momentum from the first chorus, and captures my attention with a brief high note. The bridge is forgone for a dynamic and texturally heavy synth instrumental piece that feels like a performance could accompany this section if I Dare You were to be performed live. To me, I Dare You reminds me of his early solo days where he got to try something different from your typical ballad or dance tracks with his rock-styled tracks. Overall, a standout track that I would be revisiting often. (10/10)

5. Fog (안개)Fog closes out this mini-album with a song that features a heavier presence of rock. I really like how intense the rock feels, despite it falling more on the softer side of the rock profile. I also enjoyed the upbeatness it gave the chorus, which was a nice change to usual softer rock sounds. For this most part, Kim Sung Kyu sounds quite good. This style is what he is known for, and it is nice nostalgic trip down the memory lane of Kim Sung Kyu’s solo work for me. However, at certain points of Fog, I did find the vocals to be quite soft and muffled. But I wonder if this was intentional to mimic how fog encapsulates one’s surrounding. It will be interesting if that is the case. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.8/10

SAVIOR Teaser Image

[Review] Savior – Kim Sung Kyu (Infinite)

Time to jump back to last week, with the next review focusing on Kim Sung Kyu’s solo comeback, Savior. Savior is the title track off Kim Sung Kyu’s fourth mini-album which shares the same name. This is Kim Sung Kyu’s first release following last year’s departure from Woolim Entertainment, him signing on with Double H TNE, and the release of HUSH and Won’t Forget You. He is also due to continue his domestic tour of South Korea, which began earlier this month in Seoul.

To me, Savior is a throwback to Kim Sung Kyu’s past solo work. If you were to put his past solo releases side by side with this latest one, this one would blend right in. And I quite like the idea of that. While I am a strong advocate for artists to change their music style once in a while, Kim Sung Kyu is one of those acts that I am happy to stay within the rock realm, simply because he will explore different areas of the genre each time he releases new music. This time around, Savior is a mid-tempo pop rock sound that has stunning potential. I find the pop rock instrumental to just extremely satisfying. The mix of ethereal synths alongside the rock gives Savior that potential I mentioned. I also find that Savior doesn’t overwhelm nor overpower, which is why I like Kim Sung Kyu’s music so much. He knows how to make his vocals standout, and he ensures the rock backing (no matter what style he is diving into) assists with this. I do think the instrumental can go slightly bolder in some parts, just to give Savior some oomph, but what we got is another case of ‘good enough’. As I have touched on already, Kim Sung Kyu’s vocals are amazing throughout the song. There is a warm and comforting feeling to his vocals. This might just be the nostalgia speaking, but I find this tone to work well with the lyrics of the song. I also like the power he adds to his vocals during the chorus, which helps makes the piece more riveting. The ‘Ooh Wa Ah Ah~‘ was quite catchy. I also really like the heavenly touch the falsetto gives Savior at the very end. Overall, Savior is a great single to return to the industry with for Kim Sung Kyu, and I am definitely looking forward to more work from the soloist into the future (and a potential Infinite reunion, please!).

I quite liked the artistic yet simple nature of the music video. It doesn’t overcomplicate or clash with the song, which is just perfect. It is all shot in a studio, but the scenes all look much more than just a studio. To me, each scene (whether it was the boat scene or with the band) went beyond the boundaries of the studio, and this made it looks effortlessly stunning to watch. In particular, I feel like the video touched on that ethereal description I had for the synths in the song. Whoever produced and/or directed this video did an amazing job. I do have to say some of Kim Sung Kyu outfits though looked a bit awkward. But apart from that, its a great video.

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

[Album Review] Won’t Forget You (1st Single Album) – Kim Sung Kyu (Infinite)

The next album I will looking into is Kim Sung Kyu’s very first single album which features the title track, HUSH. There are a few significant milestones with the release of this single album, titled Won’t Forget You. This is the first single album under his name since his solo debut back in 2012. It is also his last album release under Woolim Entertainment, which he has been signed to as an artist (both solo and as a member of Infinite) since his debut in 2010. The company announced his departure in early March and (as mentioned in HUSH’s review), it appears the two parties mutually parted ways from one another based on the existence of this single album. Let’s wish Kim Sung Kyu good luck to wherever he goes next with his solo career. And while we await for his next solo release, let’s have a deeper listen to Won’t Forget You.

Won’t Forget You Album Cover

1. HUSH (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for HUSH. (9/10)

2. YouYou is a very pleasant and likeable track, thanks to the simple instrumentation involving acoustic guitars and consistent percussion. I like how the electric guitar and a very small amount of electronic band styled instrumentation sneaks its way into the song by the time it wraps up. On top of that, we have Kim Sung Kyu’s vocals which are very clear and crisp. There is an appreciable level of sweetness to his voice that really compliments the song’s message of wanting his partner to stay by his side. The backing vocals in You really amplify his vocals and the melodies, along the chorus to be quite memorable. The combination of the backing vocals and melodies also brought out a nostalgic factor, for some of his past singles. Altogether, You is a highly recommended listen from me. (10/10)

3. My Day (나의 하루) – Kim Sung Kyu’s music is heavily influenced on the electronic band style that you would associate with Korean band Nell. While My Day seems to stay within that same area of music, it also seems to be slightly more experimental with its more upbeat and Summery vibes. My Day seems to be the perfect song to use as background music while walking along the beach. Like all his songs, his vocals stand out here. I really like the echo that comes through (thanks to the vocal processing) during the chorus, which enhances those Summery vibes. The layering at the end was really well executed. Overall, My Day comes off as extremely dreamy and is another highly recommended listen. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.7/10

Won’t Forget You Teaser Image

[Review] HUSH – Kim Sung Kyu (Infinite)

Kicking off this week’s rush of comebacks is Kim Sung Kyu with HUSH. This is Kim Sung Kyu’s final release as part of Woolim Entertainment, the company in which he has been apart of since his debut in 2010. For those who don’t know, Kim Sung Kyu is a member and the leader of male group Infinite, who has gone on to become one of the top male groups in the early 2010s and are widely known for their synchronized choreography. It was announced that Kim Sung Kyu would leave Woolim Entertainment in early March, however still remaining a member of Infinite. It seems like the pair are still on good terms, with Woolim picking up promotions for HUSH and Kim Sung Kyu’s first single album, Won’t Forget You (you will notice that HUSH’s music video is release on Woolim’s home channel and carry the company’s branding as well). We last saw Kim Sung Kyu make his solo comeback in December of last year with I’m Cold and Inside Me.

My first impression of HUSH is that it reminded me of Kim Sung Kyu’s previous title tracks, Kontrol. This is simply because of HUSH‘s 80s synth pop instrumentation. The new song initially started off like your typical traditional band style ballad, a sound that is explored territory for the solo artist. The synths start filtering into the song soon after and the song starts building momentum towards that synth pop instrumentation. What I do like about the song is that it isn’t too much like Kontrol, which seemed more committed to the synth pop genre. While I do like the reminding notion of HUSH, it is still its own style. HUSH maintains that traditional band underlay as part of its instrumentation, creating a fine balance between band and synth. The resultant product sounds amazing, atmospheric and powerful in its own way. What obviously makes any Kim Sung Kyu song better is, of course, the presence of Kim Sung Kyu’s vocals. I find his vocals so captivating and gripping in this song. You can feel the emotions behind his vocals, relaying the song’s message (the powerful power of attraction and emotion that is conveyed even without words – sourced from Soompi) very nicely. I liked the way the song’s title is delivered in the song, feeling present but also distant at the same time. While I have made comments about excessive use of autotune, I also really liked how it was used for ad-libs. I also enjoyed the ‘echoing’ that rounded out the song. To me, these kept the song very grounded and makes the instrumental do the ‘soaring’, which is usually something you describe the vocals. I find this related to the lyrics, with the words doing less and the music being more powerful as a result. Overall, HUSH is a really nice way to round out Kim Sung Kyu’s time as part of the Woolim family.

The music video stars both Kim Sung Kyu and IZ*ONE’s leader Kwon Eun Bi, who is also a fellow Woolim labelmate. Based on the lyrics, I believe it is assumed that the pair do not exchange words throughout the video. Rather, we see their emotion be portrayed in their facial expressions. At the start of the video, we see the two sad and distant. In one scene, where Kim Sung Kyu goes to hug Kwon Eun Bi, she vanishes into the air. This signifies that they have broken up. But the memories between the two lingers and we see the pair smile towards the end, which drives Eun Bi to return to Sung Kyu, where they hug one more time. This time, she doesn’t disappear and the pair are reunited without the exchange of words but rather memories and thoughts.

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

[Album Review] INSIDE ME (3rd Mini Album) – Kim Sung Kyu (Infinite)

It is time to return to the album reviews. Apologies for not posting any over the weekend, when they should have been released per the posting schedule. Today’s focus is Kim Sung Kyu’s INSIDE ME, which is the soloists’ third mini-album since his solo debut in 2012. The title track, I’m Cold, was released alongside the mini-album in December 2020. Kim Sung Kyu’s solo comeback in December came at no better time as I had a massive craving for Infinite in some form. Kim Sung Kyu’s solo releases are enough to suffice this for now. I am hoping for a group release once all the members return from the military. We last heard from Kim Sung Kyu in 2018 through his 10 Stories comeback and the title track, True Love, another aweome comeback from the solo act.

INSIDE ME Album Cover

1. INSIDE ME – While INSIDE ME will not be included in the final rating score, I just want to take a moment to draw attention to this introductory track. I really like the suspenseful vibes of the song. I also like how it felt like a teaser of what is to come, as it literally used some of the instrumentation from the title track.  It also felt like music that Infinite would have released back in the day, with the combination of synths and instruments.

2. I’m Cold (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for I’m Cold. (10/10)

3. Fade (안녕)Fade continues on with the R&B vibes that featured in I’m Cold. The major difference is that Fade is a lot airer in its instrumentation and slower overall. It kicks off with a somewhat distorted like filter over a music box and Kim Sung Kyu’s utterance of ‘Goodbye’, before proceeding with the familiar R&B vibes I just mentioned. I really like how the electric guitars sound almost like electronic synths, which reminds me of some of his earlier works such as his last solo comeback. His vocals flourish in this song, with the falsettos he opts for being a star attraction. I just wish Fade had a more memorable melody. (8/10)

4. RoomRoom diverts away from the R&B that we all know Kim Sung Kyu for. Instead, he opts for a genre that I am sure that everyone is certain the soloist will nail, ballad. I am happy to report that his ballad had me sway along to the music, which we all know is my way of determining the quality of a ballad. But honestly, the buildup of Room was stunning. It starts off like any slow ballad. But as you progress along, the instrumental grows by incorporating more instruments and it develops into an epic backing for the ballad. Kim Sung Kyu’s vocals climb to compliment this buildup and he sounds beautiful and powerful. It is most emotional number on this album and probably his discography as far as I can remember. (10/10)

5. DIVIN’ – Moving away from the heartbreak that has dominated the album thus far, Kim Sung Kyu goes DIVIN’ into a new relationship and sound. The song falls back into the R&B realm of music, but there is more to it. It sounds like there was is a bit of jazz mixed into the instrumentation, which comes together to become a groovy mix, which makes it suitable for a high-end bar. Once again, Kim Sung Kyu’s vocals are quite good. I appreciate that his vocals sound a lot livelier, complimenting groovy instrumentation. Multiple R&B and ballad tracks after one another can be draining in some cases, so it is nice for a change up. (8/10)

6. ClimaxClimax is a little unexpected with its upbeat nature. But it is an amazing end to the album. Firstly, Climax is a personal track. It is a song about performing, a passion of Kim Sung Kyu (if you cannot tell). He sings about pushing forward with his career and his motivation is simply his fans. A message like that will have fans swooning over him. Secondly, the instrumentation is very unique and colourful. I really like the electronic nature of the instrumental, which was full of textures (which you know I enjoy). I also enjoyed the choppiness, which was an interesting route in general. The pre-chorus has a very unique vibe by embracing a choppy delivery of the lyrics, which helped made the song so much more alluring. His vocals are superb, once again in this song. TGhere was some questionable uses of autotune in the song though, which doesn’t really capitalise on his vocals as much as the song should have. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

INSIDE ME Teaser Image

[Review] I’m Cold – Kim Sung Kyu (Infinite)

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Kim Sung Kyu has been absent from the KPOP stage for about two years now due to his military enlistment. We last saw him in 2018 promoting his first studio album, 10 Stories, which was headlined by True Love. Like the solo artist, not much has happened with Infinite (the group that he leads) since 2018, aside from a single release at the very start of 2019 that did not feature Kim Sung Kyu has he had already enlisted by then. Now, Kim Sung Kyu is back with new songs, in the form of the single I’m Cold and the mini-album Inside Me. This is his first comeback since completing his mandatory enlistment earlier this year.

If you forgot or did know about me, but I am a big fan of Kim Sung Kyu’s solo work. I enjoyed all of his past singles and album releases. So, I’m Cold has a a lot to live up to. Well, I am happy to report that Kim Sung Kyu manages to still have the ability to stun me with his solo release, even though there was a massive two year gap. I’m Cold is a R&B styled song with a hip-hop influence. Personally, this combination doesn’t excite me unlike his pop rock roots that I know him for. However, it is how the song comes together with his voice that really shines for me. The instrumental for this song is simply an atmospheric piece and can be described as quite minimalistic. It didn’t add much substance to the song, but it was definitely needed to create the feelings of emptiness and loneliness, which goes hand-in-hand with the lyrics of the song. The most substantial part of the song was during the chorus and that was only simply due to the amped by strumming of the acoustic guitar. The main ‘meat’ (as one would describe) would the vocals, of course. Kim Sung Kyu sounds stunning and boy, do I miss his voice. What I really liked is how the producers really emphasised the vocals by applying echo-like effects and (what I think is) an additional layer of his vocals during the chorus to bolden his main vocals. I feel like all of these (if I was correct in identifying the tactics used) really helped emphasised the idea of loneliness and emptiness further. I’m Cold is honestly slightly different to what I am used from the soloist, but it is nailed like any other song Kim Sung Kyu has attempted before.

The music video simply needed to convey two things. Emptiness/ Loneliness (as conveyed in the lyrics) and coldness (as conveyed in the title of the song). Both these aspects were effortlessly shown in this music video. Kim Sung Kyu was very alone in this music video. The ring he possesses is stuck in ice and his memories cause him to cry. There was also a moment of rage towards the end of the video as he searches for something that I felt was a great peak in his acting for this video, showcasing his loneliness a step further. The coldness was cleverly inserted. He sings in a freezer room and in the snow, which all symbolises the coldness. But the best part was when he holds onto the flower and it becomes encased in ice. I felt that was a smart way of showing that he is also cold on the inside. I just wished there was a bit more to the video, like a bit of a back story or flashback to his breakup.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.6/10

[Album Review] 10 Stories (1st Studio Album) – Kim Sung Kyu (Infinite)

Kim Sung Kyu has been one of my favourite artists in the industry for a long time. That includes his works as part of Infinite and his solo career. 2018 marked the start of a new era for Sung Kyu with the release of his first full-length album, 10 Stories. As this review is quite lengthy, I am going to get straight into it.

10 Stories Album Cover

1..What Did I Say? (뭐랬어) (ft. Punchnello) – The album opens up with your standard ballad. It unfortunately wasn’t memorable and was the most passable track on the album. His vocals did have an echo-like effect which gave some colour to his vocals. Punchnello’s raps were heavily autotuned but was felt fitting for the song. The instrumental didn’t really have anything spectacular, which contributed to its small impression. (6/10)

2. Stay (머물러줘) – This song reminds me of his past works. I really liked the electronic keyboard in the background, which gave the song a really nice texture. His vocals were at the forefront of the song and I really liked the chorus of the song. Talking about the chorus, it had a great opener and nice rhythm. The saxophone in the bridge was a nice touch and kept the song from becoming too repetitive. In a way, the track is quite relaxing and for that, I like it a lot. (8/10)

3. True Love (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of True Love. (8.4/10)

4. Attraction (끌림) – Despite the other instrumentations, the keyboard stood out quite a bit. The chorus was quite interesting. The defining points in this song aren’t his vocals but rather the instrumental breaks throughout the song. Definitely the song’s unique charm. The slight autotune here was nice and is something that I tend to associate with Kim Sung Kyu’s solo work. There was also a faint whisper in the background for the final chorus that added something a little extra to the song. (8.5/10) 

5. Vanishing Days (지워지는 날들) – When you first hear Sung Kyu sing, you can feel the emotions that he pours into his vocals. These strong vocals are balanced well with the piano instrumental. The second verse adds violins, which you all know I am into. The vocal build-up alongside the instrumental make this song stand out even more. That extra-long pause at the end of the song did catch me off guard but it was such an epic moment because the song returned to how it started initially, just with a guitar instrumental instead. Very fitting for a sad movie. (10/10) 

6. Tall Sunrise (ft. JW of Nell) – The song opens up with Sung Kyu autotuned too much for my liking. However, I did like the “Can You Stay” lines which felt so smooth despite the heavy-handed autotune. I really like the chorus which was upbeat in comparison to the verses, yet still managing to connect well with the verses. The other negative that I wanted to make about this track was the autotune made both Sung Kyu’s and JW’s vocals so similar, it was quite hard to distinguish the different parts. (6/10)

7. SorrySorry combines various synths to create the fine details for this track’s instrumental. That, the consistent hollow thumping and the vocals (which were on point all throughout) made this one of my favourites. My only complaint would be the first chorus felt too short. While not a complaint, the bridge was quite interesting, using only real instruments as opposed to the rest of the track which was synth heavy. Foreign but interesting. (10/10)

8. City of Angels (천사의 도시)City of Angels is another song that reminds me of his past tracks. The instrumental for this track was relaxing and calming, yet I can’t pinpoint what cause this effect on me. The vocals, once again, nice, with some lines being quite melodic (such as the opener), leaving a strong impression. (9/10)

9. Sentimental – When you listen to the song, you get a hint of happiness. The instrumental did a good job conveying this to us. Vocals were also good; however, it was relatively plain when you look at the entire track. On top of that, the song did get a little repetitive due to the consistency of the vocals and instrumental. There was an added effect at the end of the track but it felt too late as an attempt to change up the song. (7/10)

10. Mirror (거울)– The album ends with a ballad. While I tend to think ending albums with ballads tend to be a weak point, this has to be an exception. His vocals are quite unique in this particular track, like no other on this album. I particularly like the push his vocals gave during the chorus. The piano only instrumental was also quite nice. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

10 Stories Teaser Image

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[Review] True Love – Kim Sung Kyu (Infinite)

Kim Sung Kyu has finally made his solo return to the stage with his first studio length album, 10 Stories. The title track featured on this album is True Love. His comeback was a little unexpected, with Infinite just recently wrapping up their promotions for Tell Me at the end of January and his teaser pictures just coming out of nowhere. This is his first comeback since his last mini-album and double title track promotions of The Answer and Kontrol.

To me, True Love is the midpoint that I would imagine if Kim Sung Kyu and Ed Sheeran joined forces to make a song. While the song’s sound and instrumental seems to lean more heavily towards Kim Sung Kyu’s side, there were a few moments throughout the song that felt like the song could have gone down that Ed Sheeran route. I like how calming the song feels during the verses. The build-up just before the chorus was nice but my favourite bit has to be the launch into the chorus. It is where the song comes together and it is the strongest point of the song which reminds me fondly of Kim Sung Kyu’s previous works. There is a slight catchy hook to the chorus, which I can see myself singing to in a few days time. His vocals are great but they don’t really shine as much in this song. Overall, the expectation (for me) is that Kim Sung Kyu would have a really good song as his title track and True Love seems to live up to that expectation.

The music video was shot in Hong Kong, which seems to be the number 1 destination to go to, for shooting a music video. A number of artists in the past year alone have shot their music video in Hong Kong. And I can see why. Despite it being featured so much last year, the sites of Hong Kong always look breathtaking and fresh. In the video, it seems like Sung Kyu is looking for his lover, whom he has been trying to track down from a letter he got from her. The ending was a little confusing, how he reads the letter. It makes me question whether he was looking for his ‘True Love‘ or whether he was looking for closure. The walking around on the streets is aesthetically pleasing and sets it up to be a good video (especially with all the great sites around him).

Song – 8/10
Musc Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10 

Recap of MelOn Music Awards 2015 and Thoughts

The MMA or MelOn Music Awards were held on the 7th of November 2015. MelOn does not refer to the fruit but rather the music chart and on-line music store in South Korea. It is held by LOEN Entertainment, which owns the music distribution company. The music award has its own unique criteria where it only calculates digital sales of artists in the past year and incorporate these sales with on-line votes of fans.

The following artists, groups and actors attended the ceremony: Big Bang, Yoona (SNSD), Hyukoh, Hyorin & Dasom (Sistar) (did not perform), Toy (did not perform), APINK, Zion.T, Sane, iKON, GFriend, Mad Clown (did not perform), Hong Jin Young, BTS, Red Velvet, EXID, Monsta X, Winner (did not perform). Actors, actresses and other celebrities attended the night as presenters.

The show on the night was hosted by Yoo Byung Jae and Seo Kang Joon. They were shortly joined by Lee Boo Yi, Kim Shin Young, Kim So Hyun & Irene (Red Velvet). The red carpet was hosted by Youngji (Former Member of Kara) and Seo Yuri.

Below are the winners on the night. Afterwards, I have left some comments regarding some awards:
Top 10 Artist – SHINee, Girl’s Generation, Hyukoh, Toy, Big Bang, Sistar, EXO, APINK, Zion.T, Sane.
Best New Artist – iKON & GFriend
Best Rap/Hip Hop – Mad Clown ft. Jinsil (Fire)
Best Ballad – Baek Ah Yeon ft. Young K (Shouldn’t Have)
Best RnB – Naul (Living In The Same Time)
Best Rock – Kim Sung Gyu (The Answer)
Best OST – Loco & Yuju (Spring Is Gone By Chance)
Best Trot – Hong Jin Young (Love WiFi)
Best Pop – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars (Uptown Funk)
Best Male Dance – BTS (I Need U)
Best Female Dance – Red Velvet (Ice Cream Cake)
Best Folk – 10cm (Sseudam Sseudam)
Best Indie – Standing Egg ft. Wheein & Obroject Yundak (The Sunlight Hurts)
Netizen Popularity Award – Big Bang (Bang Bang Bang)
Hot Trend Award – Infinite Challenge (Yeongdong Expressway Music Festival)
Best Music Video – Park Jin Young ft. Jessi (Who’s Your Mama?)
Song Writer Award – Teddy
MBC Music Star Award – EXID
1theK Performance Award – Monsta X
Album Of The Year (Daesang) – EXODUS
Song Of The Year (Daesang) – Bang Bang Bang
Artist Of The Year (Daesang) – Big Bang

I personally think above is a fair spread for award winners. While I am not knowledgeable to comment on categories such as Best Indie and Best Folk, the rest show 2015 in its glory. Once again, I think Seventeen deserves the Best New Artist award and GFriend finally got what they deserved (it’s a good thing. Kind of sounded like I was hinting at something bad). Sistar and APINK’s Top 10 awards caught me off guard since they were quickly taken over by other artists on the digital charts and failed to be up to par with the other artists. I am glad to see Kim Sung Gyu win something for his album. It was really good.

And as per usual, there were performances that night from the groups who won awards. Performers included: Hyukoh, Big Bang, APINK, Zion.T, Sane, BTS, EXID, Red Velvet, Monsta X, iKON and GFriend. It would have been nicer to see some more artists who won from the night perform. I think best performance of the night was BTS with their cool jackets that had light coming off them. A very large portion of the show was dedicated to Big Bang, which had people talking. Sure, they won a lot of award, but I agree with majority of the audience. Big Bang’s performances just made it feel like one Big Bang concert. Sure, they won prestigious awards, but it just robbed the other artists of their night, who also put hard effort into making 2015 their year. Would have I gotten angry over the fact they turned the award show into a mini concert? No, but maybe they should have dropped one or two songs.

Overall, I think MMA15 was pretty fair. They had a large variety of winners (mainly because they have a lot of categories) and minus that small complaint regarding the performances, the show was great. Oh, but damn was the presentation of the awards cringe worthy. Probably this ceremony takes the award for  “Worst Presentation of Awards” award. Could have done it in a way where the presenters did not feel that ashamed of themselves.



End Of Year Chart 2015 + Happy New Year!

Welcome to the end of the year! Each year, I do this “End Of The Year Chart” where I properly rank songs via a personalised ranking system, which shows which songs I liked the most (and which songs I did not like at all – but I won’t name and shame). How do I rank the songs? Simply taking the score that I gave them in the review published earlier in the year, adding it to new review scores for the music, video and performance. Then I add those to other scores from “Songs of the Month” in my Rewind posts and to ensure that I can properly order them, I turn to my iTunes play count. And when I say “add”, there is a mixture of mathematical operations (and I am going to stop here, before I can bore you). In no way is this chart influenced by my choice of best song in the BOBs. But I do highlight them here :).

1 Ah Yeah EXID
2 Paradise Lost Gain (Brown Eyed Girls)
3 If You Do  GOT7
4 Closer Oh My Girl
5 You G.Soul
6 Love Me Right EXO
7 I Need U BTS
8 Sing For You EXO
9 Shake It Sistar
10 4 Walls F(x)
11 Dumb Dumb Red Velvet
12 I Taeyeon (SNSD) ft. Verbal Jint
13 Like OOH AHH Twice
14 Oh Um Ah Yeah Mamamoo
15 Mansae Seventeen
16 Just Right GOT7
17 Crazy 4Minute
18 Insensible Lee Hong Ki (FT Island)
19 Run BTS
20 Yey Beast
21 Between Night n Music B.I.G
22 Shake That Brass Amber (f(x)) ft. Taeyeon (SNSD)
23 Hot Pink EXID
24 Beautiful Liar VIXX LR (VIXX)
25 Brand New World Brown Eyed Girls
26 Ring My Bell Girls Day
27 Hurt Locker Nine Muses
28 Growing Pains Donghae & Eunhyuk
29 Run Away Royal Pirates
30 Black Swan Rainbow
31 Congratulations DAY6
32 Catch Me If You Can SNSD
33 Me Gustas Tu Gfriend
34 The Answer Kim Sung Gyu (Infinite)
35 Dope BTS
36 Pray FT Island
37 Cinderella CN Blue
38 You’re Pitiful Fiestar
39 Hopeless Love Jimin (15&)
40 Bad Infinite
41 Might Just Die History
42 We Like 2 Party Big Bang
43 Chained Up VIXX
44 Fire Mad Clown ft. Jamsil (Mad Child Soul)
45 Bell Bottoms PSY
46 Ice Cream Cake Red Velvet
47 Break Ya LU:KUS
48 Kontrol Kim Sung Gyu (Infinite)
49 I Feel You Wonder Girls
50 Wow Wow Wow Junjin (Shinhwa) ft. Eric (Shinhwa)

And here are some interesting facts about this year and the chart itself!

  • A total of 180 songs were ranked on this chart, but a total of 195 songs were reviewed this year (which I believe is a personal best).
  • The first song reviewed and included in the chart is BTOB’s The Winter Tale (released at the end of last year). The last song reviewed and included in the chart was EXO’s Sing For You
  • A total of 16 girl groups, 17 boy groups and 9 soloists are featured on the chart.
  • There is a better mix of boys and girl groups this year, compared to last year, where the first boy group did not feature on the charts until after 16th place.
  • BTS had the most songs on the chart (I Need U, Dope & Run). followed by: EXID (Ah Yeah & Hot Pink), GOT7 (If You Do, Just Right), EXO (Love Me Right, Sing For You), Kim Sung Gyu (The Answer, Kontrol) & Red Velvet (Dumb Dumb & Ice Cream Cake).
  • Rookies were actually a strong force this year with Oh My Girl, Seventeen and Twice ranking quite high up in the charts.
  • The following ranked after 50th place: IU, B.I.G, Crayon Pop, VIXX, Seventeen, Changmin, Big Bang, Brown Eyed Girls and CLC.
  • And finally, this year chart was actually reflected on the BOBs this year. I crowned EXID’s Ah Yeah as best song for both segments.

AND THAT IS IT!! 2015 will be ending shortly. 6 Hours To Go (for me at least)!!! Hope 2015 has been a great year for you all. I thank you all once again for another year of KPOPreviewed. Your support has been amazing. Every comment and like (heck even every view) makes me happy!! Nearly 5 years and still going strong!! Thank you 2015 and I wish you all a Happy New Year wherever and whenever it is time. Let’s make 2016 our year!!! (First review: 2nd of Jan).

2015 BOBs (Best Of the Best) – Part 1

2015 is at its end, and with days away from the new year, we must reflect on 2015. And per usual: excellent songs, videos and dances have gracefully entered our lives and probably have not yet left us. From comebacks from big name acts to debuts of new rookie bands, 2015 has been a splendid year in my opinion. This year I decided to do the BOBs differently. Usually, I post a list of nominees and categories, but I don’t get you guys to vote for them (nor do I have the capabilities and time to allow you guys to vote for them, but maybe in the future), so I thought I should change it up this year, but posting both nominees and winners in the same post. This is part 1 of the BOBs and part 2 will be released tomorrow with the rest of the categories. Also, the traditional End of Year Charts will be released on the 31st of December, at 11:55 pm, so please wait around for that. Let’s get the post on the road!!!

These awards do not reflect any review score that I gave out this year. My personal preferences will always change (i.e. an 8 review score can currently be a 10 OR a 10 review score can currently by an 8).

RED FONT – Winners, BLUE FONT – Honourable Mention


Each year, artists see a rise in popularity. May that be due to great songs or great publicity (after all: any publicity is good publicity), this year was no difference.  Each of these artists, I have personally seen, some sort of boost in popularity this year. And I get to choose two winners (one male and one female) for this certain category. For this year, I have nominated:


My pick is: EXID and BTOB. Both teams saw a rise in popularity due to one particular member, and slowly each member in each group is become well known in the industry. Keep up the good work, EXID and BTOB!!!


A song is not a song without an instrumental. And in KPOP, the instrumental plays a massive part in hooking us in and getting us addicted to the music. Especially for foreign and international fans who don’t understand the Korean language 100%. So many great instrumentals this year, here are the nominees:


Out of all the nominees, there can be only one winner: Wonder Girls – I Feel You. The girls returned to the stage with a brand new band concept, which totally wowed me. This instrumental has its own retro vibe and I personally enjoyed it a lot. From the drums to the keyboard and guitars, the girls totally deserve this. By far one of the most underrated songs, that definitely deserve an award! Honourable Mentions: F(x) – 4Walls


I also do some Japanese songs on this site. Hahaha… Yeah, I review some Japanese songs from time to time. The variety of singers that I listen to for Japanese songs is usually limited to only the Japanese songs released by Korean artists. This year, the category has been dominated by Korean artists and I hope next year, I can start to review more Japanese artists! Here are the nominees:


I think, I was most addicted to Beast – Can’t Wait To Love You. And that was my pick for Best Japanese Song. It was song that I felt did not fall into the typical Korean Pop or Japanese Pop genres and was pretty unique on its own. As for honourable mentions: BTS – For You.


Big name comebacks this occurred and they all managed to rock our socks off. Hahaha… I take into account: song, concept, promotions, looks, impact and a few more categories and suprisngly, the biggest artists that emerge from the Golden Age of KPOP were nominated:

bestcomebackOut of all the comebacks nominated, the one that fitted the criteria the most would have been Big Bang. 2015 was one big year for the band, and they had such an unique concept in terms of promotion. SNSD takes away honourable mention for this category.


Unfortunately, 2015 did not continue the 2014 trend of subunits. However, some new subunits formed from popular bands and some old favourite returned. Here is who I think should be nominated as best subunit:


This one was a little close for me. But I am going to say Donghae and Eunhyuk, which is a subunit belonging to Super Junior. Their song was by far an amazing and left a more long lasting impact on me than the others. The other subunit that gets honourable mention is VIXX LR, which is a duo made up of Leo and Ravi.


2015 saw a new wave of contestant based TV shows around rapping and hence many artists have seen a boost in popularity after appearing on these shows. Other rappers also remained on stage as part of their groups and amazed the audience continuously during each comeback. Here are the nominees:


Out of all the rappers on the light, I picked Mad Clown as a winner. His song was a hit, it was a great song (now) and while he is not part of some group, he still managed to be placed ahead of everyone this year. Zico (Block B) took out Honourable Mention for his active year. Interestingly enough, both selected artists had someone featuring in their song.


When there are rappers, there are also singers. 2015 also saw new programs (and our old favourites) made specifically for the vocalists of all groups. Some vocalists we know have always amazed us, but others have just emerged and became trends for 2015. Based purely on what they sound like, here are the nominees:


I think this category has the most obvious winner, Taeyeon (SNSD). Yeah, she was quite active as an artist, but her debut for I blew everyone away. As for honourable mention, it goes to Solji (EXID). Her performance of Maria still replays in my head. Her powerful vocals in EXID’s performance are also quite amazing.


While the above category looked like at vocal performance, the Best Male Soloist looks at their vocal performance, song, impact and dance (if applicable) – i.e. their comeback or debut as a collective. To be nominated, the artists must have been active as a solo artist this year (while the above also included group vocalists). The nominees are:


There is only one artist on this list that managed to wow me the very moment I listened to the song and that artist is Kim Sung Gyu (Infinite). His whole album did wonders and is an album that I am continuously going back to. As for honourable mentions, Lee Hong Ki (FT Island) wins that. His solo debut song was well received and I reviewed it as an amazing ballad.


While the above category(Best Vocalist) looked like at vocal performance, the Best Female Soloist looks at their vocal performance, song, impact and dance (if applicable) – i.e. their comeback or debut as a collective. To be nominated, the artists must have been active as a solo artist this year (while the above also included group vocalists). The nominees are:


Once again, I am going to give it to Taeyeon (SNSD). Vocally, stunning. It was memorable and lovely to listen to. Honourable Mention was a close call, but Amber (F(x)) stole it from Gain (Brown Eyed Girls). So catchy and bright.

And that is it for Part 1 of the BOBs. Check back tomorrow, where I will post the second part of the BOBs, with Best Song, Best Male and Female Rookie; and Best Male and Female groups (plus a few more categories).

*All images and gifs belong to their owners/creators. Only those tables are mine.




Bad – Infinite

Infinite is back after a year with a brand new comeback and mini album. Bad is their 5th mini album that was released with Back being their last release in July last year. Since Back (hehehe…), Infinite has been very busy with drama filming and promotions. Infinite H made their subunit comeback at the start of the year with Pretty. Sunggyu also made his solo comeback with double title tracks: The Answer and Kontrol. On top of that the boys have been releasing singles in Japan such as Dilemma which I reviewed earlier in the year. So many hyperlinks in the introduction today.

The song is described as a combination of hip hop and EDM elements. And that is something that we got. It honestly feel this is a very powerful song and it matches songs that I and probably many fans associate with Infinite. I also hear hints of classical and rock through the instrumental of the song, which adds to that powerfulness. As for the vocals, they were powerful and very strong, but remained matching to the style of song that the writers were getting at. Often we have a mismatch between vocals and instrumental, but this time around, they blended well with each other. Also, every member seemed to excelled in terms of vocals for this song. Sungyeol and Sungjong got more lines and their voices seem much steadier this time around. The rapping was kept to a minimal in this song, which I don’t fully understand why. I like Infinite’s rap in their song, but funnily not a big fan of their rap/hip hop subunit. Hmmm…

The music video is also quite interesting. The guys are tormented by this girl who they are describing as “bad”, hence the title of the song. The make use of mirrors in this video quite interestingly, being a way for the girl to get to them. I find that is an interesting concept. Hence why we see them sitting around, running away and looking around in fear due to the mirrors. And from the very first time I saw the music video, I knew it was the same guy or girl or group of people who filmed Orange Caramel and EXID music videos (and of course countless other music videos for other artists). I was amazed by the teaser for this comeback though. I believe they are the first KPOP group to actually use the 360 degree video format, which I thought was hella cool. I watched it on my phone and could spin around and looking around in the 360 view. Awesome. Just one complaint however, Dongwoo’s rap segment in the music video does not match up with the song. The lips were way off.

The dance is always awesome for Infinite. They are always in sync with each other. When I thought saw the dance, I was thinking that there was no way they would be in sync since there was a lot going on. But, the group managed to prove themselves to be one of the best dance groups ever.

This was a very powerful comeback with a really powerful song, a cool video and of course, per usual, an amazing choreography. 9/10

[DOUBLE REVIEW] The Answer + Kontrol – Kim Sung Gyu (Infinite)

It is another Double Review. I have a few more lined up, so this is going to be fun. Anyway, too much to write and review. so let’s move along. Kim Sung Gyu is the leader of Infinite and has returned with his second solo mini album, after 60 Seconds, which was released back in 2012. Since then, he has been promoting alongside Infinite. Fans have been requesting a comeback from the singer since his solo debut.

The first song I will be talking about it The Answer. Actually, I am going to say this about all the songs on the album. It has been sometime since I have listened to a whole album. This whole mini album was so perfect. Every song was produced and presented to an exceptional standard. The Answer is a ballad, with a bit of pop sounds in it, but it stayed more on the classical ballad side throughout. The song was very beautiful and I could feel the emotion from Sunggyu in the song.  Many people know I have a soft side for ballads and this song just ticks all the boxes for an amazing song. Vocals blew me away, the instrumental was so calming and powerful. Though I prefer this song over the rest (as this is beyond perfect), all the other songs are so well done, so go and check out his mini-album guys. As for Kontrol, it had more of an electronic funky style of beat to it. I guess it is more of a ballad, but it has that additional feel to it as a pop and electronic style song. Once again, the vocals are amazing here. I particularly like the chorus. The song builds up to the chorus and I just love it. From start to end, this was also another exceptional song that did it’s job very well. On top of that is was quite unique. It would be hard to pick a personal favourite, but I go for The Answer any day.

As for the music videos, both was pretty good. The Answer was more monotone. It was shot in a grey scale filter (not the whole video though) and only really contained shots of Sunggyu singing throughout the video. There were shots of him being distant and lonely, but it matched the song’s feel really well. The video seemed like it was warming up, because we started to get this old brown vintage colour and then full colour was introduced. I honestly thought it was a very beautifully shot video. However, not sure about the floating diamonds. I really did not know what they represent. Maybe memories or something?

Kontrol’s music video was another beautifully shot video. From a foreigner’s perspective, I hope that was Sunggyu’s lover. But at the same time, the girl being his sister matched the story line really well. The move into this alleyway, which consisted of nothing, but I guess with a bit of imagination, you can turn nothing into your own space. It seemed like they live there as well. The decoration for this alleyway suited the sounds of the song really well. I enjoy the choppy camera shots in this music video, as they matched really well with the instrumental. From the video, we see that she goes missing and Sunggyu goes to find her, or in fact the place that she “went on”. It turns out it was the seaside and that the girl probably drowned and Sunggyu could not leave her. Now many people have speculated that this song and music video was done in honour of those who passed away on the Sewol Ferry Accident last year. But Sunggyu said it wasn’t and just a song about a lover. But nonetheless, the music video did have many shots that corresponded to the accident and either way, it was a sad video still. But still amazing.

There is a dance for Kontrol, but I am going to gloss over the dance. Mainly because Sunggyu  doesn’t participate in the dance himself that much.

Overall, I think this by far, has to be one of the best comebacks of the year. As I said, not just these songs, but the whole mini album from Sunggyu was perfect and so amazing to listen to.

The Answer – 10/10

Kontrol – 10/10

Pick a song that you enjoyed 🙂 For this poll and the past two polls, I will put the results in the Rewind posts for the month.

Dilemma – Infinite

It has been so long since I have written a Japanese song review hasn’t it?Well, that drought hopefully will be over today. I am hoping to increase the amount of JPOP or Japanese songs this year that I will actually review. And least break the drought with Infinite’s newest Japanese song: Dilemma.

The song was a collaboration between the famous producer Tomoyasu Hotei and the famous Korean band Infinite. The song has its really cool rock and roll roots, but also includes dance themes and also a really cool modern feel to the song. The song literally hits you as soon as it starts. It is a very powerful song and really oozes out the energy that the boys have. The chorus is really catches my eye, because it seems different from the rest of the song. That is a good thing though, so don’t be mentioned. I am not really a fan of the rapping in the song. They did a good job, just it slows down the song. That really long instrumental part in the song really sounds cool as well and actually picks up from the rapping pretty well. There is just one little complaint. And this complaint kind of goes with many Korean artists. But if the title of the song is an actual lyric in the song than learn how to say the word properly, especially if it is in a different language. Beside that, the song was really good to listen to.

The music video was pretty dark. I don’t know why but the music video gave off the same feel as Last Romeo did for me. Just there was less colour and a lot more close up shots of the member. There is also a mysterious band playing in the music video. Most of the time we only see their silhouette. The music video also had that violent side to it. Hahaha. Yes, glass breaking was a little repetitive in the music video. I am sure one member would have been fine. I really don’t know what to say about this video now. Okay I guess.

There is a dance in this music video, however we don’t get to see much of the dance in this video. Though from what I have seen, the dance fits Infinite’s style of dancing. Pretty good.

8.7/10 – A really cool release in Japan. Hopefully, they might be able to bring this song to Korea (or at least this style for their future comeback?

Finally, another Japanese reviewed finish. If there are any other Japanese artists that you think I should be reviewing, please comment the name of the artist or group and also a song that they have sang. Will do my life wonders, as I have no idea who is who in Japan (though at the moment I am looking at another artist in AVEX).

Back – Infinite

Infinite is finally back a brand new song. It seems like just yesterday that they were performing. Oh wait, didn’t they just finish promoting Last Romeo just like early last month? That might explain it. Hahahaha…. The group is back with a repackaged album of Last Romeo, which had been retitled as “Be Back”, which contains all their other songs from the Last Romeo album and also 2 brand new songs, Diamond and Back. The latter is being reviewed today. Probably one of the most violent videos ever. If some of you guys remember, last time they promoted Woohyun was injured. This time around, Hoya is injured. So many injuries. And so little time to review this. Sorry, I was drowning in homework when I started this review. Whoops.

This song is freaking amazing. I have no words to describe. I was speechless, but my jaw did not drop a mile. It is a really nice song that is a wonderful mash-up of different genres, just I don’t think it is that memorable overall. However, the song is quite up there as one of my favourites. As soon as the song starts, we get some kind of ballad of some sort, but little over a minute and the beat drops. Basically the thing that really stands out for me is that Infinite is quite known for their dance songs, with all of that heavy choreography. On top of that, myself and probably the rest of the fans really enjoy their ballads as well, so this song combines both of them. Pretty decent. I liked how the song goes from slow to fast and back to slow, and then back to fast. It sounds really amazing. Another thing to note, is that there are no raps. Members Hoya and Dongwo who are known for rapping all end up singing vocally in this song which goes to tell how strong their voices are. All the other members get decent line distributions here in this song. just I think Sunggyu ends up dominating. I also found the “Back Back Back” part really catchy and the instrumental equally as appealing.

Probably a video done right. It has a 19+ rating, but hey there is none of that sexual nonsense here. Just a very young girl is being kidnapped and a fight ensues between the kidnappers and the band, which turns ugly in just about 1 second after the “Back” and Infinite sign took over the video. Just the one thing that is troubling me is that the girl looks like she is still in elementary school. Probably young enough to be the youngest sister of one of the members, not their lover [CORRECTION: The girl actually is the sister. My bad]. Anyway, the boys go into this abandoned warehouse to save the girl. As soon as they walk in they start fighting. Some are throwing punches, some are doing really weird flying kicks. Just Sungyeol is very angry, and pulling the minions hair and Sungjong, are you holding an umbrella? “Hey you got the guns? No. Well what do you have?” An umbrella. Wow. But hey, don’t look down on him because that umbrella is probably the world’s deadliest. However in the end they get overpowered. However, it seems at the end, they start going back into combat when we all first thought they had lost. Amazing what love can do to you. Beside the violent nature of the video, I thought the video was quite nice to watch. The solo shots look awesome and those scenes where the members, one by one, are sitting behind the fence, in the middle of the fight, looked pretty cool to watch.

The dance is pretty good. I really think the start was probably the best out there. It matched the slow start and then when the song started to get quicker and there was more of an electro sound to it, the dance picked up as well and started to be more fitting for a dance song.

By far, probably one of the best Infinite comebacks. Too bad they are currently overshadowed by big name bands in the industry this time around. Congrats on your win today though. 10/10

Last Romeo – Infinite

Infinite has recently made their comeback with a new album. After solo promotions and solo activities such as acting, the group has finally hit the stage as romantic men again. However, this is not the first album from the group this year. In March 2014, the group released “The Origin” which is an instrumental album which consisted of all of their hit songs and other popular non-title track songs. The album itself was split into three version, each with their own category. An amazing album, that you all should check out. But this is there first release of the year that contained their voices and it seems they are getting a lot of love with four awards already and we are still counting the endless number of the awards that are yet to come.

I guess this song takes rock and roll, brings down the level of power of the song and mushes it into a love song. Okay, if I put it that way its sound like a horrible type of song doesn’t it? But I think it is a cool Infinite style song. It was quite upbeat, powerful like their past songs. I really liked the drums throughout the whole thing. Though to me, the song was not as memorable as their past songs, but it sounded pretty good. Dongwoo and Hoya sound like they are really good professional rappers and to me, they improved greatly.  I find the vocals of this song pretty good as well. The rock feel of the song makes it a stand out compared to the rest of the songs that have been released recently. The whole song to me seemed to be written around Romeo’s point of view of Romeo and Juliet. Overall a pretty cool song, however it could have been better.

The music video is pretty cool I loved the short intro they had at the start. The music video is back to the dark ages which I really enjoy from the band. The music video tells the story of a couple who seems to be lost in time (I assume that is what the start was) and somehow they conjure themselves up at a library. At the library, Woohyun find clues to find the missing girl. They meet but unable to reach other, so Woohyun goes running after her, to which the girl just walks off, as if she is teasing him. The she disappears and he reaches the middle of the libaray, where he is so angry that he unleashes the 1000 years of fury and blows everything up, to which he is transported back to wherever he first was (or he died). Not sure. The plot seems to fit in partly to the song, but really some things could have been much better. I like their dance scenes, with the fake White House like structure and those pillars. Without the reasoning with the song, I think the music video was much better than expected, but with the song, not so great.

The dance is pretty cool. It is such a pity that Woohyun got injured and now he looks really awkward dancing the whole thing with his hands gripping his belt, but that can’t be helped.  But overall, I liked the dance.

7.5/10. A pretty cool comeback this time around, it just needed that something more to add to it to make it sound and look better.