[Album Review] Illusion (1st Mini Album) – Kim Yohan (WEi)

The next album review is for Kim Yohan’s first mini-album, Illusion. No surprises here, but it is also another album release from January. It features Kim Yohan’s comeback single, DESSERT, and four other tracks. Illusion is his first solo release since debuting as part of WEi. He previously made his solo debut back in 2020 with No More.

Illusion was a decent mini-album release. While majority of the song’s shared that decent description (DESSERT is unfortunately one of them, but I have warmed up a bit to the lead single since its release), there were two knock out songs on the album that I highly recommend you check out. Keep on reading to find out which two songs they are. And let me know if you agree with my thoughts.

Illusion Album Cover

1. DESSERT (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for DESSERT. (7/10)

2. SELFISH – Kim Yohan’s vocals is freaking amazing in this track. I am always in awe with his vocals in this track every time I have played Kim Yohan’s album. I really liked how he employs his deeper tone in this song, making himself appear mature and emotive. When it comes to the chorus, his vocals paired with the synth instrumental makes the main centrepiece explosive and nostalgic for me. I am thrown back to the pop tracks from the 00s with this song. His deeper tone allows for a flawless transition into rapping. SELFISH is an awesome song that I just want to go back to. (10/10)

3. BADBAD makes a strong impression from the start as it starts off with a slaying rap verse (and replicates a similar effect for the second verse). It is definitely the song’s strongest moment, and one I like reliving by the number of times I have been drawn back to BAD. The chorus is another strong moment in the song. It’s busy with the synth heavy hip-hop instrumentation and the hype/energy that Kim Yohan brings via the vocals. But it isn’t overwhelming and creates a stunning centre for the song that I am all for. I just wish the hooks for BAD were a tad stronger. (9.5/10)

4. Landing On You (저공비행)Landing On You follows a hip-hop trajectory, but is also playful and youthful. Unfortunately, I think Landing On You a bit typical and the whole instrumental feels a bit dated (particularly since it follows dynamic songs like SELFISH and BAD). Interestingly, I am not entirely turned off by Landing On You. It instead becomes a pleasant listen, even though Kim Yohan does hit it hard at some moments in the song. (7/10)

5. Star (반짝이는 별들처럼 나침반이 되어줘요) – Finishing up the illusion is Star, serving as the mini-album’s mandatory ballad. It is definitely soothing and calming track with a pleasant acoustic instrumentation. Kim Yohan sounds nice and dreamy, and I am liking the harmonies with the background vocals (especially at the end). I did wish that he was incorporated better into the song, however. There were moments where it sounded a bit awkward, with him and the instrumental not feeling connected, if you understand what I mean. I am also not a fan of the rapping. It distracted me from the pleasant nature of the song. But overall, a decent listen still. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Illusion Teaser Image

[Review] DESSERT – Kim Yo Han (WEi)

Kickstarting the new week is Kim Yo Han’s solo comeback. For those who don’t know Kim Yo Han, he currently the leader of WEi (a six member male group under Oui Entertainment) and is a former member of the short-lived X1 project group formed via Produce X 101. He is also an actor, currently known for the recently ended School 2021 drama. On the music front, Kim Yo Han made his solo debut a month prior to his debut as part of WEi with No More back in 2020. Today, Kim Yo Han returns with the mini-album Illusion and title track, DESSERT.

Kim Yo Han’s return is a more track when compared to No More. That one I was not much of a fan of. As for DESSERT, I feel that it fairs a bit better. However, reading over my review of No More, I can’t help but notice that a few elements of his solo debut track were also brought over into DESSERT, namely his vocals. I still find them dry and bland in DESSERT as per my main gripe about his solo debut track. They just don’t excite me, nor provide much expression or character to the song. There was a bit of amplification for the chorus. And while I did enjoy the pop melody here, I am still of the opinion that more can be done on the vocal front for this song. The bridge was interesting, with Kim Yo Han playing towards his strength here. Instead of a usual high note as per most KPOP songs, he instead opts to fade his vocals out. It isn’t spectacular, but it different aspect to other songs which I had noticed, and made the relaunch into the final chorus satisfying. As for DESSERT‘s instrumentation, I felt that it was too mainstream and safe – not really offering more than other KPOP dance tracks. However, I do appreciate the funky touch it had, which helped make the song a bit more appealing to my ears. This really helped pull me through the song and made DESSERT‘s centrepiece a bit more enjoyable. Once again, Kim Yo Han’s rapping was the song’s best part and pairing it with the funky nature of the instrumental was wonderful. Overall, DESSERT is a step in the right direction but still doesn’t show Kim Yo Han off as much.

Like the song itself, the music video and overall concept for this comeback takes on a much darker concept than when we last saw him as a solo artist. The mysterious vibes at the start of the video really pulled me, and I naturally wanted to find out what happens in the video. In the music video, we see Kim Yo Han tied up and undergo a transformation from pure to dark. At one point in the music video, we see Kim Yo Han take a bite of an apple, representation of the forbidden fruit, which caused the transformation. The forbidden fruit in this video represents the irresistible love in which Kim Yo Han likens to dessert in the lyrics. It is a topic that has been approached by many concepts in the past, but it is interesting to see how different companies and groups portray the story. And I feel like this music video did it clearly and well, whilst also using a lot of red.

The performance has a sensual tinge to it, which made the performance interesting and kept me around for the whole performance. Some of Kim Yo Han’s facial expressions were also on point. I also liked the laidback vibes that I also got from the performance, which were well incorporated and helps makes it more alluring.

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

[Double Review] Refresh + I Believe – Zico & Kang Daniel / Bae Jin Young & Kim Yo Han

For the first time ever, I am putting together two songs by two different sets of artists into a double review format. For today’s double review, I will be focusing on Zico and Kang Daniel’s collaboration, Refresh, and Bae Jin Young and Kim Yo Han’s collaboration, I Believe. The reason why I am group these two songs together is because they form part of the 2020 Pepsi and Starship collaboration, which has been occurring lately. Refresh was released back in April of this year for the For The Love of Korea part of the collaboration, while I Believe was released two weeks ago as part of the Heritage Project part of the collaboration. The four artists join a long list of other popular KPOP artists who have participated in the Pepsi and Starship collaboration, including Eunha and Ravi, Ong Seong Woo, and Hongbin and Hyungwon.

Not only does Refresh features the likes of both Zico and Kang Daniel, the song is also co-produced by Steve Aoki. That in itself means that this is a pretty star-studded lineup for a two and half minute song. Both Kang Daniel and Zico sings during the verses, with Zico adding some raps to the song later on in the second verse. These parts were decent, but they don’t really scream out Zico or Kang Daniel in any way. The pre-chorus hook was pretty decent as it gives the song some life and memorability, before dropping a half squeaky and half screechy type of synth in the chorus. Not really the most likeable synth out there, but it has its charm. The saving grace of Refresh is the heavy thumping bass. It probably shows how easily you can satisfy me, but the thumping really added momentum to Refresh for me and accented the right parts at the right times for me.

I Believe is actually a remake of a ballad OST by Shin Seung Hoon, which was released for My Sassy Girl (who remembers this movie?). Bae Jin Young and Kim Yo Han’s version gives it a trendy and fun retro spin, featuring a heavy amount of 80s synthesizer in its instrumental. I have no issues with this style as the instrumental brought a smile to me. They keep the melody from the original and also incorporate some raps, which genuinely surprised me. The song ended up being quite memorable and catchy for me, thanks to the collaborative nature of all the song’s elements. Aside from all the positivity that I am writing about the song (and the positivity that the song brings), I have nothing else to say about the song (and this is a good thing).

For Refresh, the theme was loving Korea (i.e. it was the ‘For The Love of Korea’ project) and there was a lot of traditional influence in the music video. The production value for Refresh was extremely high based on the visual effects that were utilised. I think it was a very suitable music video for Refresh, given the concept of the project and the appearance of both Zico and Kang Daniel in the video. I also liked their outfits and the product placement of Pepsi felt light and suitable. Kang Daniel makes a second appearance in the Pepsi and Starship collaboration project at the start and end of the I Believe music video. While we hear a bit of the Refresh instrumental, Kang Daniel starts a game on an old arcade that segueways into the main body of the music video that features the actual artists of the song. As for Bae Jin Young and Kim Yo Han, the video depicts them having fun whilst alone. I like how they incorporated the 90s filter of a circular frame and the white-washed lighting that many might remember from 90s KPOP music videos. Even their fashion looks like it could have been from that era (though some of it has been modernise to fit the current 20s). I also noticed that both videos acknowledged current events, with a little nod to face masks and elbowing in place of a hug or high-five.

Both songs are quite danceable. However, only I Believe has a proper choreography routine. Based on the music video, it looks pretty good but isn’t anything impressive. The pair do put in a lot of effort for an one off performance and that really lifts the look of the choreography by a lot.

Refresh – Zico & Kang Daniel
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

I Believe – Bae Jin Young (CIX) & Kim Yo Han (WEi)
Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Review] No More – Kim Yo Han

Upon the disbandment of the groups created by the infamous Produce series (i.e. I.O.I and Wanna One), the public eagerly anticipated each member’s next move. But it is clear that the members most anticipated is ranked in the very top spot (and subsequently became the centre member). The latest person to join the ranks of Jeon Somi and Kang Daniel is Kim Yo Han, who debuted in the short-lived X1 group last year. Most of the X1 members have since gone to debut as a solo artist, join a group or go into acting. Kim Yo Han is doing all three of those. He made his solo debut yesterday with No More (the focus of today’s review), has been scouted for future acting roles and has been confirmed to be part of the lineup for WEi (which is due to debut later this year). So no doubt we will be seeing Kim Yo Han a lot more in what is left of 2020.

I didn’t follow X1 (or Produce X 101) closely, so I am not exactly sure what each member’s strengths are. So I am relying on my subpar research skills to inform me on that front. Based on online profiles, Kim Yo Han was the lead rapper and vocalist of the group. He doesn’t have powerhouse vocals, but he can sing. However his voice didn’t stray away from how he started, resulting in No More sounding quite monotone as a result. This approach, accompanied by the instrumentation (which I will talk about later on) dulled out the song for me. His singing does deliver one of the most catchiest moments of the song, the melodic ‘No More~‘ line during the post-chorus hook of the song. That kind of caught on from my first listen to the song yesterday. So I will give him that. But for the most part, I was left disappointed on that front. Moving away from the song’s dullness, you can tell that his ultimate skill is his rapping. He inserted much more expression and flair in his rapping (compared to his vocals), which tells me this is when he feels more comfortable in this mode and I wished the song just went with a rap dominant approach from the start. What I felt could have been improved with this was was the instrumental. No More‘s R&B-centric backing lacked vibrancy and colour. It could have had more of a kick to it, potentially giving Kim Yo Han an opportunity to showcase a stronger delivery of both vocals and rapping throughout the song.

The song is about reaching out to a crush and awaiting for a response. And we see him being nervous throughout the video while talking on the phone, figuring out what to wear and trying to find the right words. Apart from the scenes that make sense, there is bunch of others that I don’t really understand, such as Kim Yo Han on a small motorcycle. This might just be a cutesy thing, to infuse some of his youth into the video.

I am usually not a fan of the cutesy stuff, such as those motorcycle scenes above. However there are some exceptions from time to time. Given that the song isn’t anything serious or hefty in any way, the more aegyo-based dance moves for No More fit in nicely. To me, for the choreography, it seems playful. The cheek tapping move fits with the music, though I am not too keen on the shaking.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 6.6/10