[Review] mumumumuch – Mamamoo

Mamamoo probably had their least memorable comeback in their entire career earlier this year with Where Are We Now. I personally thought it was decent comeback for the group. But promotions for the track didn’t last long and there wasn’t much hype for the comeback with pre-releases and other promotional material. I guess this was partly due to the limbo the group had faced at the time of release (Wheein was still negotiating her contract with RBW). Well, the good news is that Mamamoo is here to stay after Wheein resigned with RBW for group promotions, but will be managed as a solo artist under AOMG. I guess with that confirmation and a seven year career to look back on makes way for a compilation album, I Say Mamamoo: The Best, which they dropped yesterday. It features a lot of new versions of their past hits and the latest single, mumumumuch.

mumumumuch is another light and pleasant song to come out this week. It takes on a retro funky pop sound, which gives the song a bit of life. But like yesterday’s review, I felt that mumumumuch was far too light in all regards, and hence the song didn’t hold or captivate me. Honestly, I delayed the review of this song by a day in hopes that my initial thoughts on the song would change, but the lightness was just too prevalent. It was okay at the start, given the opening sequence felt more so like it was in ballad territory. To go on a funk spree right after would feel a bit overwhelming. But as the song progressed, I wished it had picked up more and became more substantial and fulfilling. The chorus does seem to go in that direction, but unfortunately not as much as I had hoped for. And the rest of the song then just carried on then exactly how it started, There was a bit going on the percussion side of the song, which helped keep the song a bit interesting. But it just weren’t enough to keep me interested. The vocals were nice throughout mumumumuch, breathy and breezy. Wheein’s ‘Beast‘ was a cute (but terrifying at first) addition to the song. There were also some nice melodies. But with the instrumental, the vocals were just too lightweight for my liking. I wished the vocals had a bit more heft. I felt mumumumuch was an excellent opportunity for Moonbyul to rap in a more powerful manner, and I felt that Mamamoo could have granted some of that ‘heft’ wish via this element. I also thought it was odd that mumumumuch lacked a substantial hook. I didn’t find anything within mumumumuch that was worthy of being labelled as a hook, as anything that could have had potential was whisked away by the lightness of the song. Overall, mumumumuch is a decent song. But it also falls in some areas, thanks to the lightweight of the track.

To match the light energy of mumumumuch, the music video was quite pleasant. Nothing really special happened in the music video, just we saw the members have a bit of fun and enjoy each other company’s. I get the impression that the group went on a road trip and their company decided to film a music video then and there. It doesn’t really trouble me, but it isn’t the most exciting idea in the world. I am also not a fan of that light hazy filter they put on the video. It was subtle, but it felt like it dulled the video a tad too much for me.

My understanding is that the group performed this track for the first time at their recent online concert. It featured a pleasant and fitting routine. I don’t think anything else can be or needs to be said about the routine.

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

[Review] Where Are We Now – Mamamoo

Mamamoo is the next big name group to make their return this week. So far this year, we haven’t heard too much from Mamamoo. This might be due to the fact the members were renewing contracts with RBW. Currently, all members aside from Wheein have confirmed to have resigned with their company, with Wheein’s contract still being negotiated. That being said, we have seen some of the members since their promotions of AYA and Dingga at the end of last year. Solar has released an OST track for the Korean drama Vincenzo, Wheein made her comeback with her first solo mini-album and the track water color and Moonbyul collaborated with Bumkey for the single The Lady. On Wednesday, the group made their comeback with their 11th mini-album, WAW and the single Where Are We Now.

For a group who is known for their amazing and power vocals, it is pretty interesting that this is Mamamoo’s first full-fledged title track that is also a ballad. They did release Paint Me in 2018 as single, but it didn’t get the same promotional treatment as Where Are We Now. The new song was initially breathtaking as Paint Me, showcasing the group’s vocals abilities in an undeniable sense. The song starts off with Hwasa’s husky vocals and piano/guitar backdrop, before we are introduced to the lightness with Wheein’s vocals. And this is all followed by Solar’s soaring vocals. I really like how they keep the song grounded, despite all the lightness and high notes we do get. It brings the song back to a stable point and allows for the thrill of the same lightness effect and high notes to return as we listen to the song some more. But let’s skip back a few sentences. I stated that ‘The new song was initially breathtaking…’. Key word in this statement is ‘initially’. It came off as breathtaking the first time I listened to it for sure, but I think the effect has worn off with multiple listens. Sure, the song is still captivating. But with multiple listens, I am pretty familiar with the song and yet I find myself preparing for the disappointment that comes in the song’s second verse. And that disappointment has to be Moonbyul’s rapping. It isn’t her style or delivery that I find disappointed. I just find the rapping to be an ill-fit for Where Are We Now. I wished Moonbyul had stuck to singing like the rest of the members, and showed off some vocals like in 10 Nights. I am not looking for Moonbyul to replicate her high note that from example song, but I think Where Are We Now would have sounded better full of vocals rather than with a rap sequence. I also think Moonbyul could have been given more parts and not be confined to just the second verse. Overall Where Are We Now had potential to be grander, if it hadn’t conform to the need for a rap sequence as per most KPOP songs.

There was a mix of elegance and casual visuals throughout the video for each the members. But regardless of which scenes fell along the spectrum of elegant and casual, they all came together to make this a really beautiful video to watch, complimenting the same captivating feeling that the song had. While I tend to not like the moody colours filter that was applied throughout the video, I felt that the moody colour tone was expected to fit the ballad genre. The most stunning scene has to be the one where they are in their white dresses, surrounded by the revolving lights. The birds-eye view shot we got with the lights started twinkling was amazing to watch, and appropriately matched the peak of the song.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Review] water colour – Wheein (Mamamoo)

The next comeback to review from earlier in the week was made by Wheein, one of the members of Mamamoo. While Wheein is the final member of the group to release a mini-album under her name, she actually made her solo debut way back in 2018 with the single Easy (featuring Sik-K). She then followed up with the single Good Bye in 2019. This past Tuesday, Wheein returned with the single water color and her debut mini-album, Redd.

Once again, I am using the term ‘pleasant’ to describe water color, but in a good way. Everything in water color felt very balanced and this makes the song extremely satisfyingly to listen to. We are know that Wheein is capable of powerful vocals through her collaborative stages and past work as part of Mamamoo. But water color manages to show off Wheein’s vocals without tapping into that powerhouse mode. As a result, other elements of water color were given an opportunity to shine. They melodies had a nice ring and helped make the song quite flowy. But not too flowy where the song felt like a blur. There were some nice cuts to the flow that make the song more enjoyable (i.e. her brief rap-speak one-liners just prior to the first two chorus), coming in the right time. They also reminded me a bit of Easy. The overall instrumental was quite groovy and brought a nice upbeat vibe to the song. It isn’t the most special or freshest background out there. But it is a nice relief from the loads of intense EDM we get a lot nowadays. It also has this nostalgic factor. I also really like the post-chorus instrumental break with the higher pitched squeaky synths, which brings forth that nostalgic factor even more. The heavily autotuned vocals (not exactly what the technical term for these vocals are) we get in the bridge also bring the same effect. I think water color could have benefited from a catchier and more memorable hook. The hooks we got were good, but the producers of the song should have somehow delivered more oomph to make them more recognisable and engaging. Overall, another nice song under Wheein’s belt.

I am kind of glad that Wheein’s fashion was a bit more typical than the outfits that Solar wore for her solo debut. It is definitely more of her style and fits in the pleasant tone that I mentioned above for the song. I also enjoyed about the fashion was the splash of colour it gave the video. It also made her the centre of attention, allowing her to stand out in what felt like settings that felt relatively plain. Similarly, the dancers also wore multi-coloured clothing. But Wheein’s outfits somehow felt bolder compared to the dancers. Aside from that, the music video opts for a choreography and closeup formula, and I felt there isn’t much else to the video to talk about.

I really like how they brought the grooviness out of the song via the choreography. It was definitely a nice routine, thought I think it could have been better if it was snappier. Like the song, it isn’t the most original routine out there. But it does its job at showcasing Wheein’s performance skills and complimenting the music.

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

[Album Review] Travel (10th Mini Album) – MAMAMOO

Welcome to my first post of 2021! The first few posts come in the form of album reviews that I was meant to schedule over my break, but ultimately forgot to do. I have just returned from my break (back to work as of tomorrow with song reviews coming your way) and have decided to quickly post these album reviews as soon as possible, as I don’t want to really be holding onto these album reviews which would delay the 2021 album reviews (which I would like to avoid). First up is Mamamoo’s Travel, the group’s 10th mini-album since their debut almost seven years ago! The mini-album features the pre-release track Dingga (which performed better than the title track) and the title track, AYA. The mini-album also contains other songs which is why we are here today. Let’s check out these other songs as well.

Travel Album Cover

1. TravelTravel opens up the mini-album with an extremely pleasant pop track, one that I will gladly listen to whilst on a road trip/holiday (whenever we can next do that). In addition to making me dream about a holiday, the song has this layer of nostalgia, which I find to be very soothing and likeable. I really like how the members vocals compliment the pleasantry nature of the song. Usually, I prefer Mamamoo with their power vocals. But it was a good call to leave that approach behind for this song. Moonbyul does bring a bit of a kick through her rapping lines at the end of the choruses, which helps change up the song slightly without causing major disruption to the song. (9/10)

2. Dingga (딩가딩가)Click here to read the full review of Dingga. (9/10)

3. AYA (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for AYA. (6/10)

4. Chuck (척) – When I first saw the title Chuck, all I could think of was Seventeen’s Chuck. Seventeen’s Chuck was definitely very memorable and impactful. However, I was confident that Mamamoo wouldn’t pull a Seventeen styled Chuck, so I was intrigued with the song. What Mamamoo ended giving us was a pretty robust track. I really liked the striking nature of the instrumental, from the repetitive beat in the chorus to the wooden xylophone-like tapping in the post-chorus. The intro gave me Blurred Lines vibes, just a lot more classy. Mamamoo’s vocals were amazing in this song. I love the tease of the powerhouse vocals during the opening moments of the chorus and the energy they bring to the chorus. I also enjoyed the alternating Chuck that they simply speak during the post-chorus hook. (10/10)

5. Diamond Diamond was an unexpected track on this album and for the group. It takes on a sensual vibe that is quite alluring to listen to. It is also quite refreshing, given that this isn’t Mamamoo’s style of music. However, they nail it. I really liked the elongation of some of their words, dragging it out as if they are teasing us with their vocals. And the way they vocally spell out the word Diamond was quite interesting. Both Hwasa and Wheein really flourished, given their vocals fitted this style. Moonbyul’s signature rapping is brought back in this song and she blends in perfectly into this song. My only issue with this song is that it just didn’t go anywhere. (8/10)

6. Good Night (잘자) – It doesn’t help that I am writing this review past midnight. The first section (and ending of Good Night) is putting me asleep. Not because it is boring. But rather, these sections of Good Night appears to sound like a ballad and features piano that felt almost like a sleepy tune on Spotify. The song then suddenly changes into a café style music by incorporating some percussion and energy, and it slowly builds from there. I am unsure why though this was necessary. As the song builds, we get more and more (and it ends with a high note from Solar). Definitely no longer a sleep tune. But that complaint aside, the song definitely sounded good and everything was well executed. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Dingga / Travel Teaser Image

[Review] AYA – Mamamoo

Another day late review! This time the review is for Mamamoo, who have made their first comeback as a full group since HIP (which was released around the time last year). Headlining this comeback is AYA, the title track from their tenth mini-album, Travel, and it follows the release of their pre-release track, Dingga two weeks ago. It may have been the first group comeback for the ladies, but it isn’t really the first time we have seen each of the members. Solar made her solo debut with Spit It Out, while Moonbyul and Hwasa made their solo comebacks with Eclipse and Maria. So it has been a busy year for the group since their last comeback, nonetheless.

Since HIP was such a successful song for the group, I was wondering how they were going to top that release. It was going to be one difficult feat. After many repeats of their new title track, I don’t think AYA even comes anywhere close to overthrowing HIP as one of their best tracks ever, if I was to be completely honest. This is because AYA noticeably lacks hooks. I was dying to hear a catchy moment but that was never delivered. That is what made HIP so addictive. Here AYA just keeps on giving us really nice melodies and vocal work. But it never went back to a central line to really establish itself, if you know what I mean. Likewise, it lacked a chorus that could have acted as a central point to return to. The pan-flute sequence is probably the closest form we get to a chorus in this song. By all means, that the lack of chorus or hooks wasn’t frustrating. The member did manage to give us another stunning song. But it just needed that foundation or ‘safety net’ as I might call it to go back to. So what makes AYA stunning? Well the vocal work was quite nice. It isn’t their most vocally charged song nor does it feel much of a statement. But the vocal work compliments the exotic nature of AYA. I like how Moonbyul’s rapping adds stability to the song. And this exotic nature was definitely a really captivating piece of music to listen to. The change up for the last half a minute of the song was very interesting. If you were becoming bored of the exotic flair that AYA had going on in the first three minutes, then they will surprise you with the change in tone. Overall, the song lacks a fundamental element. This impacts the song, but Mamamoo still manages to make do.

To match the exotic flair of the song, the music video goes with a visual concept of the same calibre. I am wondering if each of the characters that the members play in the music video are there for a distinct meaning. I have yet to find a theory explaining the music video or the characters, as I feel that the outfits Wheein is wearing during some parts of the video, Moonbyul’s archery shooting character, Solar’s monobrow character and Hwasa’s character decked out in leather and knocking out teeth are there for a reason (I do note that the latter was mentioned briefly in the lyrics). Other than that, I enjoyed the detailed sets and the emphasis on the golden hue throughout the video. Definitely fitting for the concept and these Queens.

The choreography for this comeback is definitely elegant and looks quite stylish. I really like how the member embraced their sensuality in this performance, which makes everything a lot more captivating. I also liked that despite how intense the final moments of the song got, the performance still went in well with the rest of the choreography and retained that exotic and sensual flair.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.1/10

[Review] Dingga – Mamamoo

On Thursday, I wrapped up the reviews for all of the Monday releases. And now, I can move onto reviews for the releases during the other days of the week. Some of these other releases during this week have been moved onto my ‘Coming Soon’ list of reviews that I updated this morning, which you can view by clicking on the top right hand corner of this page. Some of the releases no on that list are the ones I want to cover over this weekend. The first is Mamamoo’s pre-release single, Dingga, which will be featured on their upcoming mini-album, Travel, due for release in early November.

For a pre-release single, Dingga is super catchy and fun. It almost feels like a title track in its own right. Note that I say ‘almost’, as I feel that Dingga seemed like it was holding back. A title track, to me, would have gone ‘all out’. It is an odd concept to think about but pre-releases tend to have their own vibe, such that when you listen to it, you know it is a pre-release. And while Dingga does have a title track profile to it, the song does have a hint of that pre-release vibe. That or I have been listening to KPOP for too many years. Dingga features a funky and vibrant pop instrumental that conforms to the current trends of retro appeal. Pair that with Mamamoo’s well-known vocals and Dingga is pretty much like every other fun and quirky Mamamoo release. The melodies were definitely on another level in this song, as it effortlessly rolled off their tongues. The most impressive member in this track happens to be Moonbyul and her rapping. The song enables her to delivery some her lines in a refined manner. The best part, aside from the catchy chorus, is the dance break instrumental sequence we get. That was a pretty cool moment that I did not see coming and ended up enjoying a lot. If Dingga was a hint of what is to come, then whatever title track that Travel and Mamamoo presents to us come November 3rd is going to another massive hit for the group!

Matching with the funky and catchy vibes of the song, the music video is quite colourful, fun and cheerful. Set in a roller derby, diners, and arcades, the members and their dancers have an absolute ball hanging out with one another. There are some hints of the current pandemic, including the wearing of masks and the virtual calling at the start of the video (though this could easily have been passed off as an invitation to hang out). And while this is a great light-hearted video to watch, it is the ending that gets me intrigued, with Hwasa all decked out in black leather approaching someone who is dressed in red. She is handed a pickaxe that she proceeds to study. Her stare she gives at the end sends goosebumps down my arm and the pan flute we get as a possible music hint gives off a mysterious vibe. Definitely looking forward to this upcoming release!

Pre-release singles don’t tend to get a choreography version of the music video. But it seems like Mamamoo is indulging us with this comeback. All the moves they do when they sing the Dingga title are all the catchiest dance moves. Moonbyul and Wheein’s pop and locking dance break was also awesome! I wished Hwasa and Solar had a moment for themselves as well. That would have been another ‘cherry on top’.

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

[Album Review] Maria (1st Mini Album) – Hwasa (Mamamoo)

For today’s album review, I have decided to have a deeper listen to Hwasa’s solo comeback and first mini-album. Released two weeks ago, both the album and title track share the same name, Maria. The album also features Hwasa’s previous chart topping solo debut, Twit, and also the track for Hwasa’s most recent music video release, LMM. Just to summarise my thoughts on this album, more attention needs to be directed towards it. It contains three 10/10 songs, which isn’t something I do often. I may give out 10/10’s regularly to side tracks. But I don’t give that much out in one album! Which songs do I deem to be ‘perfect’? Well, you got to read on to find out!

Maria Album Cover

1. Nobody Else (Intro Track) – This short introductory track is quite loaded. Not only do we get her vocals in all its husky and raspy glory, Nobody Else’s instrumental transitions quite often. And when I say transition for this song, I mean that the song builds up. It starts off with natural sounds, as if we were in a rainforest or close by to a river as you can hear water trickling. To pair with the natural sounds, we have these eerie horn-like synths. It then cuts to Hwasa whispering ‘Nobody else’, before we are directed to some piano and Hwasa’s vocals. Within in a few seconds, we have percussion making an entrance and it gets heavier as it goes on. The introductory track, before easing out, goes head on with an intense dance instrumentation. It was one roller coaster ride, but it was well crafted to be cohesive track. (10/10)

2. Maria (마리아) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Maria. (8/10)

3. Kidding – Produced by Zico, Kidding has this playful charm to it which helped make it interesting and different. It starts off with Hwasa singing alongside some acoustic guitars, followed by an applause, which gives off the impression that the performance was live. During this segment, she is singing about the how her partner loves her. It then cuts to a really groovy beat. Based on this transition, we could tell that the theme of the lyrics changed to Hwasa’s thoughts on her partner cheating on her. As the song progresses, we get some underlying jazzy influences which helps transform the song into fantastic number. I really love Hwasa’s delivery of her lines. There are some vocal works and harmonies in the background. But it is her rapping that steals my attention. I can feel her expressionless face bringing this song to life, with chaos ensuing in the background. I really like the ‘Are You Kidding Me’ reptition for the chorus, which was simple but effective in this song. (10/10)

4. Why Why feels like a Western pop track. It begins with a suspenseful pop beat. Nothing special, if I were to be honest. Aside being a backdrop to Hwasa signature vocals. The chorus brings a rough, robust and crunchy instrumental sequence. It was a logical progression, in my point of view, and it allows for some choreography to be brought onto the stage if the song is ever performed on stage. The song repeats the suspenseful but plain verse, followed by the rough and crunchy chorus. While it was interesting texture wise, I wanted it to have something else as it got to the end to avoid becoming repetitive as it did. It is still a good song, nonetheless, just missing that element to be better. (8.5/10)

5. I’m Bad Too (ft. DPR Live)I’m Bad Too is a short song. This is just an observation as I felt the length of the song was suitable. It didn’t play around with repetition to extend the length of the track and drain the appeal of the existing song. The instrumental seems to be lighthearted and playful, whilst the lyrics was all about Hwasa being angry (in a suitable tone) about a former partner. DPR Live features in the song and seems to act like a brotherly figure based on his lyrics. And I liked it. It adds a different dimension to the song and adds to that lighthearted atmosphere while also making sense lyrics-wise. It isn’t a standout song in my opinion, but the creativity of the lyrics earns the song a tick. (8/10)

6. LMM – There was a music video release for LMM during this past week and I have decided to keep it for the ‘Missed Review’ music video posts that I will be publishing in the future. It is coming, I swear! As for LMM, it is a breathtaking song that allows Hwasa’s vocals to shine. It is a ballad that sounds best if you put everything down and just zone into it. The instrumental and melodies are all very breezy, making it nice for a night drive or a reflective walk where you just want to be by yourself. What makes this an even more powerful song is that you don’t need to understand Korean. You can connect with her vocals, in one way or another. It is so impactful that the song also earns the third 10/10 on this album. (10/10)

7. Twit (멍청이)Click here to read the full review for Twit. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Maria Teaser Image

[Review] Maria – Hwasa (Mamamoo)

It is one busy Monday with a total of four releases that I intend to review as soon as possible (may need to split over a few days to get them done). First up is Hwasa’s solo comeback. Hwasa made her official solo debut at the start of the year with the hit, Twit. That, however, was only a single and actually features on her first mini-album, which shares the same name as her new title track, Maria. She is also the third member of Mamamoo to release a solo single this year, following Moonbyul and Solar, with Eclipse and Spit It Out (respectively).

If we were to judge the song based on its title, we would be expecting Maria to go full steam ahead with the Latin influence, the trend that KPOP in Summer probably will never escape. Mamamoo too also contributed to this trend with the release of Egotistic in 2018. But don’t be too quick to judge, as the Latin influence is very small. In fact, it localised just to the dance break, which gives off energy in a very fashionable sense for this song. Its presence doesn’t necessarily fit in the rest of the song, but it is definitely needed. The rest of Maria seems like a blank canvas, in terms of its instrumental. Sure, it is an upbeat and, at times, intense track. But apart from a minimal amount of synths, the instrumental is quite plain. It isn’t plain in a dull way though, as the vocals give the song some much-needed action and Hwasa’s vocals help fill in those gaps. I really like her nasally delivery during the verses and her raspy whisper that kicks off the chorus. I also a fan of her vocalisation in the latter half of the chorus, which is where the song gets a little intense and sensual. Together, it forms a decent song that plays towards Hwasa’s strength as a performer and vocalist. Maybe a more captivating instrumental would have been more appealing and made this into a winning track.

The music video reflects the lyrics well. We see Hwasa being hurt by others at the very start of the music video with all the photographers taking photos of her body at a crime scene and all those people providing a lighter for the cigarette she is holding. In the hospital, she is surrounded by all these pencils pointed towards her, as well. But what the music video also shows is that she gets up and stands up for herself. We see that during the hospital scene once again, where she escaped the pointy pencils and walks down the hall as if she never had that encounter. The start where she is serving a heart seems to be her bouncing back as it looked like she just killed the person who hurt her and serving it to other people who are going to hurt her. That is just my take on the video though, so there can be many other views out there. For the other elements in of the video, the sets and the camera work during her solo shots were nice. Some of her closeups in the choregrahpy shots were a little ‘in your face’ for me, as I wanted to see more of the choreography.

The one thing I really like about Hwasa is that she doesn’t hold back. If the performance is going to be sensual, then she will make it happen. We have seen that through her solo stages at award shows. While I am sure this performance will get some flack in Korea, it looks pretty good. There is a fair amount of hip grinding action in the chorus which seems very bold and I liked how the final chorus had a different routine to feature both genders of dancers and end the song with a more powerful vibe.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10

[Review] Absence – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Despite all the Mamamoo members being active as solo artists in the first half of this year, we have yet to see the members together. They did say that they will be focusing on solo activities for the first part of 2020, from memory. But there was no indication for how long. Let’s hope we get one in the second half of the year (I am sure we will!). In the meantime, the members do continually treat us with new solo releases. For example, yesterday, Moonbyul dropped her repackaged mini-album, 門OON, which features the new track, Absence. This repackaged album features all the songs on Dark Side Of The Moon, including Eclipse.

I am genuinely surprised with this comeback. It is another side of Moonbyul that we have never seen before. And that is the beauty of solo releases. They give us different profiles of the singer, some of which will never be shown when they promoting with their original groups. Eclipse gave us a very dark and edgy side of Moonbyul. And Absence gives us an emotional Moonbyul. The instrumental is a bit standard to my ears. There are elements in Absence that reminds me of a ballad, such as the really emotionally charged vocals and the classical setup that forms part of the instrumental. The song does infuse some trap beats into the background, giving the song that ability to bring a dance to the performance (more on that in a bit). And it is this combination that allows the song to come off as moody and somewhat dull. What I really like about this are Moonbyul’s vocals and the song’s melodies, which helps steer the song away from that feeling. She gets more opportunities to show her vocals off in this song. The showcase of her vocals have been on the rise, but this is something we have not heard from her. You can hear the heartbreak in this song through vocals, which is definitely a sign of a good vocalists. And to know that this vocalist is more commonly known for being a rapper is something. As the song builds, her vocals become more powerful and I quite like this. Her nasally tone is very appealing. I also like that bit of rapping she throws into the song. Cliche and typical, but still quite nice. Actually, that summarises all thoughts I have on Absence in a short manner.

For this review, I will be combining the music video and performance sections of the review. The music video is a performance video, as stated in the title of the official music videos. There is a number of closeups of Moonbyul singing into the camera throughout, so essentially it adopts a closeup and choreography formula. I did like the black and white filter that was placed on majority of the video. It added to that moody nature of the song. It also added to the dullness, but I feel like that was a positive for the song, as it allowed Moonbyul and the dancers to be the pure focus of the video. And as a performance video, there is a greater focus on the choreography. And the choreography is quite fitting of the song. The song doesn’t really allow for any impressive moves to come forth, but I really liked the speeds of the moves. It is relatively slow and smooth, but there is a balance that allows it to become powerful. My favourite part has to the bridge of the song, where the dancers become like waves. I thought that was a stunning moment in the entire performance.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Review] Spit It Out – Solar (Mamamoo)

Solar makes her first solo comeback with the release of Spit It Out, which is the title of both her solo comeback mini-album and title track. For those who do not know Solar is, she is one of the members of the talented female group Mamamoo. As the group has become very established in the industry for their amazing vocals and catchy hits, the first half of 2020 has been focused on the member’s solo promotion. Earlier this year, we saw the solo comeback of fellow member Moonbyul with Eclipse, which was an epic comeback. Let’s see if Solar can be epic in her own right with her solo comeback.

Right from the very first second, Spit It Out showcases its edge by a Latin guitar riff and a consistent deep thumping beat. Just launching in with this simple combination and you can tell that the song will be very appealing. The song sounds epic with bass, which is definitely putting my new headphones to good use and I highly recommend you listen to the song with some headphones to get that same epic feel. I do like how they do build on this for the chorus, but I also like how they do keep to this combination for the song. It does raise the concern of consistency and I have to admit that the song very linear, as a result. But there is a sense of refinement if you look on the flip side of this consistency issue, which is a positive in a way. Solar keeps to a husky tone in this song, which I thought was unique. It is very alluring this way and really helps you enjoy the song. Part of me is waiting for a solo release that has her letting her vocal talents loose, knowing that she has that ability to do so. But at the same time, I am glad she doesn’t do this in this song as it would be really cliche. I do have three favourite parts. The first is ‘Set A Fire Fire Fire‘, which acts as the memorable line of Spit It Out. The second has to be the grand feeling of the bridge. The third part has to be the final chorus, where that final chorus really helps makes the drop feel even more impactful and (repetitive term) epic.

The edginess in this video just from the first few seconds of the music video really shows. That whole routine with the feline claws look very intense. They look so sharp that if one move was ill timed, there would have been some blood. Moving aside from that disturbing thought, I thought the use of fluorescent colours was really nice. Combined that with the really ‘out there’ fashion choices (i.e. spaghetti dress, cat claws, rubber gloves) in this video, Solar really knows how to stand out. This actually goes hand-in-hand with the lyrics of the song, which is all about being yourself and not worrying about what other people. The most jaw dropping moment was her bald look. That is a step that I don’t think any female idol has gone for a concept, but I think it is definitely wonderful that she is going to such lengths to make that statement. It definitely serves its purpose and caught everyone’s attention.

I feel like the performance could have been taken a step towards that that wild side more. It seems like it is held back so Solar can put on a live performance with a microphone. There is definitely potential behind this choreography. There is a fair amount of stomping and fierceness mixed into it. And heck, those cat claws come out.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Review] Q – ONEWE ft. Hwasa (Mamamoo)

Since ONEWE’s last comeback with Regulus in August 2019, we have not heard too much from the band. The only thing I do remember coming from the band since their last comeback was their cover of MAMAMOO’s Hip, which they performed a number of time on the live stage. Today, the band returns with their 3rd single, Q. It features their Hwasa from MAMAMOO, their senior label-mate. I just dug up some information that Q is a pre-release single for their upcoming album, which will be released some time in the future. So keep your eyes peeled for ONEWE’s impending comeback.

As a band, ONEWE is quite rare in the KPOP industry. So to hear some R&B with actual instrumentation in Q is probably the rarest of rare treats, especially with the current synths and dance music environment. At first glance, the song does fall on the dry side. But with the many listens that I need to write a review, I am slowly warming up to the song. Overall, the song felt very restrained, which is where my initial ‘dry’ reaction to the song came from. But as I listened on, I felt the restrained feel of the song was definitely a charm, rather than a flaw. The use of actual instrumentation really makes the song feel warm, a feeling that would not possibly be achieved if it was artificial. The instrumental itself enables the singers to use a lower tone. This means that they showed off a huskier and raspier tone in their voices, which compliments very neatly with Hwasa’s widely known husky voice. That high note in the background was a memorable part, as well. There is a really neat melody and ‘ga’ hook in the chorus, which I find to be catching on. The song gets very interesting at the bridge, with the vocals going with a slightly different melody and the guitar solo brings a bossa nova feel to the song.

The video seems to reflect well with the lyrics. Based on the lyrics, it seems like the guys are in love with partner (who is played by Hwasa) and vice versa. But it is not a good relationship. The guys question why their lover acts differently every time they meet up, while Hwasa’s lyrics basically shows us that she is fed up. In the video, we see Hwasa putting make up on, making an effort with a very pained and depressed facial expression. We then see the members experience some ‘pain’ as she puts make up on. After Hwasa finishes, she throws things around the room in anger. Both of these represents how bad their relationship has gotten, but they don’t know how they got to that point.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Album Review] Dark Side Of The Moon (1st Mini Album) – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

It is time for another album review (and I am in the process of drafting another one for Sunday!). As you can see I am busy catching on album reviews that I should have published weeks ago (major hint for the next album review). As you can also tell from the title, I will be reviewing Moonbyul’s very first mini-album release, Dark Side Of The Moon. It features the title track Eclipse, which was also released on the 14th of February 2020. Moonbyul has since wrapped up promotions for her solo release (which is another reminder of how overdue this album review is). So without further delay, here is my album review!

Dark Side Of The Moon Album Cover

1. Eclipse (달이 태양을 가릴 때) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Eclipse. (9/10)

2. Mirror – When there is a choreography routine, the vocals and rapping are usually ‘reduced’ in KPOP to facilitate a flawless routine by the artist. And Moonbyul’s Eclipse is no exception, especially since the choreography was very powerful. Mirror, a song about the realization of the need to let go in a relationship, zones right into Moonbyul’s rapping and vocals, layered on top of a very soft and delicate R&B instrumental, filled with piano and synths to add definition to the song. I really liked how Moonbyul went into a higher tone for the end some of her lines. It really creates an interesting melody and also demonstrates more of Moonbyul’s range. Her rapping gave the song some edge and the way her rapping was packaged was perfect for the softer tone. (9/10)

3. ILJIDO ILJIDO provides the album with a little more light-heart nature, which was definitely absent through the two songs preceding. From what I understand, the song is about wanting more in life. I find the song to be very well balance and I think Moonbyul’s huskier vocal tone was very fitting for this song. The song features another light instrumental and featured a jazzy instrumental break. Prominently featured in the instrumental are flutes and I believe they sampled Hwasa’s Twit, as the flutes here sound very similar to the latter song. I do think the song is a little safe and traditional, but it is still pleasing to listen to. (8/10)

3. Moon Movie – How awesome is Moon Movie? I am declaring this is the hidden gem of the album, even before we dive into the song. Kicking it off is a really alluring piano piece that replays throughout the song. The track’s beat is equally as alluring. The combination of all makes this track stand out in my opinon. As mentioned many times previously, I am not a major fan of the hip-hop genre. But Moon Movie delves into the genre in such an appealing fashion that I cannot help but enjoy it. Moonbyul’s rapping is so rhythmic and it just pulls you into the song even more. (10/10)

4. Weird Day (낯선 날) (ft. Punch) (Pre-Release Track) – We get a simple jazzy instrumental in Weird Day. It is then paired with the sweet vocals from Punch, along with Moonbyul husky vocal tone and soft rapping. And you effectively have created a really amazing track. The track shows how versatile Moonbyul can be, a key skill needed in the industry nowadays. The melodies are really nice and the track is very peaceful to listen to. The only problem, it goes by so quickly despite it going for 3:15 minutes. Other that, I liked this pre-release track (9/10)

5. Snow (눈) (Pre-Release Track) – We end the album with a ballad that was first unveiled in December. And this is a beautiful ballad that focuses purely on Moonbyul’s vocals. I like how Snow manages to incorporate some rhythm to the song, as if Moonbyul is rapping. The harmonies with the backing vocal really make this a strong track. I was going to say that the song feels very versatile, but the Winter theme kicks in later in the song in my opinion, which restricts it to only the Winter season. If it didn’t do that, I think I would have given the song a slightly higher rating. But it is still amazing nonetheless. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Dark Side Of The Moon Teaser Image

[Review] Eclipse – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Apologies for the 3-day late review. I know I promised the reviews would only be a day late last week, but I took some time off over the weekend as I needed to recover from a lack of sleep. One of the reviews that were meant to be published on Saturday is Moonbyul’s solo comeback, Eclipse. The Mamamoo rapper and vocalist made her solo comeback back in 2016 with Selfish (which featured Seulgi from Red Velvet). It has been a while since we heard any solo work. I do need to warn you. If you are expecting something along the lines of Selfish, I would quickly change those expectations now.

Why would I lead into the review with a change in expectations? Well, Moonbyul goes full blast with Eclipse. We have never seen her like this. Not in Selfish and definitely not as part of Mamamoo. I think the relevant way of it saying it nowadays (Internet jargon/slang is not my thing) is that ‘She snapped’. The song has this intense trap-based dance instrumental as its backdrop. While this is typical in the industry, the way the song manages to come together makes it sound epic and helps breathe new light into the style/sound. There are also some smaller details such as the song’s slow down moments (which provide relief from the intensity) and the deep voice in the background during the chorus that helps with this. We see a mixture of Moonbyul rapping and singing in this song. I won’t describe this as an extension of what we have seen so far. Not when she raps with such intensity and her vocals shine through thanks to the raspy nature of her voice. I feel like Moonbyul created her own identity through Eclipse, far away from what we are used to. The song itself is also catchy and has a nice rhythm, which appeals straight to my tastes.

Talking about ‘sides’, Moonbyul presents two sides of herself in the video. I think the first is Moonstar, which is represented through the white outfits and her much lighter makeup. The second is Monster. This side of the artist is presented by the black outfits and heavy eye makeup. I definitely thought this was a very strong concept. Two sides of an artist has been visited before. But this one feels a lot more fulfilling once you finish watching the music video. I am not usually a fan of the flashy nature of music videos, but I thought it was very well used in this video and helped with the intense aesthetics.

I liked how despite the fact that Moonbyul still had to rap and sing throughout the performance, she delivers with her moves. No moves stood out to me. But I thought it was a cool performance, regardless.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.9/10

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Song-Based Categories

It is that time of the year again where I announce the winners for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. In December 2019, I allowed the audience (you all), once again, to vote for their favourite songs and artists for the December 2018 to November 2019 period. Thank you to all who voted and participated in the KPOPREVIEWED Awards this time around. Even more people voted this year, making this year more intense than ever in many categories. This post will focus on the song-based categories, which will also involve the Performance categories, Best Music Video, Best Concept and the most voted song (by you all). The winners for the artist categories will be posted in an accompanying post today, while the Top 100 songs of 2019 will be posted tomorrow.

Here is how things are going to work. Each category (aside from the non-fan voted categories, which are specified) will have a WINNER (the song/performance/video that ranked first), a Honourable Mention (the song/performance/video that ranked second) and a KPOPREVIEWED Choice (my personal choice if I voted, which I didn’t include this year). And let’s go!


Best Special Performance

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Egostistic Cover (AOA) at Queendom


Best Concept

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – HIP (Mamamoo)


Best Solo Choreography

Nominees: Blue (Ha Sung Woon); Focus (Kim Dong Han); Gotta Go (Kim Chungha); LALALAY (Sunmi); L.O.V.E (Park Ji Hoon); Twit (Hwasa – Mamamoo); WANT (Taemin – SHINee); What Are You Up To? (Kang Daniel); What You Waiting For? (Anda & R.Tee); Ya (Lee Minhyuk – BTOB).

WINNER – WANT (Taemin)
Honourable Mention – Gotta Go (Kim Chungha)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – LALALAY (Sunm
i)


Best Male (Group) Choreography

Nominees: All Night (ASTRO); Boom (NCT Dream); HIT (Seventeen); Hollywood (AB6IX); Humph! (Pentagon); Love Shot (EXO); RPM (SF9); Say My Name (ATEEZ); Side Effects (Stray Kids); You Calling My Name (GOT7).

WINNER – Love Shot (EXO)
Honourable Mention – HIT (Seventeen)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Side Effects (Stray Kids)


Best Female (Group) Choreography

Nominees: Bon Bon Chocolat (EVERGLOW); Boogie Up (WJSN); Butterfly (LOONA); DALLA DALLA (ITZY); HIP (Mamamoo); Pinky Star (Run) (GWSN); Sunrise (GFriend); The Fifth Season (Oh My Girl); Violeta (IZ*ONE); Zimzalabim (Red Velvet).

WINNER – Butterfly (LOONA)
Honourable Mention – HIP (Mamamoo)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Zimzalabim (Red Velvet)


Best Collaboration

Nominees: Blossom (Eunha & Ravi); Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey); Don’t Need Your Love (NCT Dream & HRVY); I Wanna Be (Key ft. Kim Soyeon); Spring (Park Bom ft. Sandara Park)

WINNER – Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey)
Honourable Mention – Don’t Need Your Love (NCT Dream & HRVY)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Boy With Luv (BTS ft. Halsey)


Best Music Video

Nominees: Abandoned (Brown Eyed Girls); Above The Time (IU); Crown (TXT); Feel Special (TWICE); HIT (Seventeen); Love Drunk (Epik High ft. Crush); Noir (Sunmi); Snapping (Kim Chungha); You Calling My Name (GOT7); Zimzalabim (Red Velvet)

WINNER – Obsession (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Feel Special (TWICE)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – HIT (Seventeen)


Best International Song By A Korean Artist

Nominees: Breakthrough (TWICE – Japanese); Flower (GFriend – Japanese); Lights (BTS – Japan); Moonwalk (WAYV – China); Someone’s Someone (Monsta X – US).

WINNER – Breakthrough (TWICE – Japan)
Honourable Mention – Moonwalk (WAYV – China)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Breakthrough (TWICE – Japan)


Best Official Soundtrack (OST)

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – We All Lie (Ha Jin- Sky Castle OST)


Most Viewed Review of 2019

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Goblin (Sulli)


Most Viewed Album Review of 2019

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – BXXX (Ha Sung Woon)


Songs With Most Win on Weekly KPOP Charts

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Time Of Our Life (DAY6)
WINNER – HIP (Mamamoo)


Best Non-Title Track

This is not a fan voted category

WINNER – Ten Nights (Mamamoo)


Best Album

Nominees: Love Poem (IU); Narcissus (SF9); Purpose (Taeyeon – SNSD); The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6); Want (Taemin – SHINee)

WINNER – Love Poem (IU)
Honourable Mention – The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – The Book Of Us: Gravity (DAY6)


Most Voted For Song of 2019

WINNER – Obsession (EXO)


And that brings us to the end of the Song-Based Categories for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t seen the Artist-Based Categories yet, click here.

Tomorrow, we will get to see which artist ranked on the Top 100 of the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Charts, where the song that ranks first becomes the ‘Best Song of 2019’. Remember this is decided based on the votes for Best Song of 2019 (50%) and the Weekly KPOP Charts that I post every Sunday (50%). Will EXO’s Obsession become the ‘Best Song of 2019’ officially? You can find out by clicking here (hyperlink will be updated once the post is published).

[Special] My Favourite Performances from the 2019 End Of Year Music Festivals

At the end of each year, the three major broadcasting companies in South Korea (SBS, KBS and MBC) organises and broadcast a very fruitful and dynamic music festival, bringing together the top KPOP acts of the year. 2019 is no exception and with a year as busy as 2019, it is often quite hard to get invited to these festivals. And with each show running for a couple of hours, different stages/performances/remixes of the year’s hits and one-of-a-kind collaborations, it is often hard to keep up with these festivals. Today, I have decided to organise a list of performances from each of these three festivals that I thought were excellent, different and worthwhile in checking out. I have done this before but over the years dropped it as I had very little time. Now that I have some time on my hand, I thought I return to this segment for the 2019 festivals.

SBS Gayo Daejun – 25th of December 2019

When we talk about the SBS Music Festival, we need to address the issue of safety. After all, it costed Red Velvet full group promotions for their Psycho comeback, due to injuries sustained by Wendy due to the unsafe nature of SBS stage. We did manage to get one full lineup of the group performing Psycho on stage as it was pre-recorded. because of that, I put Red Velvet’s Psycho performance on my list of favourite performances from that day. Other performers also had falls on the SBS stage, from what I remember reading. Other stages at stood out for me were:

  • Stray Kid’s Miroh – I did not know how Stray Kids could top Miroh’s intensity by rearranging the performance to be even more intense.
  • NCT Dream’s Boom & NCT 127’s Superhuman – Both tracks had a really cool dance addition to it. On top of that, we got to see the same ‘switching of jackets’ that Mark did at the 2018 SBS Music Festival between Dream and 127’s performance. Only this time, it was Haechan!
  • Oh My Girl’s Bungee (X-mas Version) – Always good to have a X-mas themed remix on Christmas Day. It made Bungee, an already vibrant and colourful track, more suitable for the season.
  • Mamamoo’s Gogobebe – The rock remix for this performance was superb.
  • Seventeen’s Home and Snapshoot – We got to see a warmer side of the group and the more joyful side, especially after all the darkness we got from HIT and Fear.
  • TWICE’s Medley of Tracks – I really liked the band element to their performance and how they tweaked the concept for Fancy and their more light hearted tracks. I just wished the band was DAY6 (where is DAY6 in all of these festivals), which would have made the performance even more worthy of a view.
  • BTS’s Dionysus – I have always been a fan of BTS’s darker side. This performance is a return this side, which I greatly appreciate.

KBS Gayo Daechukje – 27th December 2019

I personally did not have much interest in the KBS Music Festival as I thought the stage looked really bad and the camera work wasn’t the best. This wasn’t also the only problem that occurred that same night. APINK’s %% performance was cut short, disappointing fans, APINK and viewers in general. If I were to choose one standout stage, it would have Golden Child’s Wannabe stage. Their dance intro was very good and showed off intensity that was aligned with their new look/concept. And I really liked how smooth the transition between dance intro and actual song was. Only a few toehr performances caught my attention and they include:

  • Song Gain’s Introductory song – Song Gain, for those who don’t know is a trot singer that trended this year. For Song Gain’s performance, she managed to incorporate all artists into her song, which I think would be a challenge.
  • NU’EST Love Me – It wasn’t so much their choreography or song that caught my attention. But I thought the raised stages for the end really highlighted the good parts of their overall choreography, providing what could be said as an epic end to their stage.
  • ASTRO’s All Night + Blue Flame – I was waiting for ASTRO to do All Night in some capacity during these festivals. But with Moonbin out of action, it seems like the group would opt for the 5-member Blue Flame instead. So automatically, ASTRO’s stage for All Night alone would make this list. Blue Flame ended up being very epic as well, which is why their entire segment is on this list.
  • Oh Ha Young, Joy and Yerin Mr. Mr. collaboration – I haven’t heard this song for some time now and I really enjoyed this throwback. Also surprised that they covered the entire song, which usually isn’t the case.

MBC Gayo Daejejeon – 31st December 2019

MBC’s Music Festival is one to always watch. Their stages always have a look that shows that they have been planning for a while. The collaborations for this festival are always something to talk about. And why not watch it live as the year goes out! There is nothing like ending 2019 and start 2020 with KPOP! However, the MBC Music Festival was also plagued with an early termination issue. This time around the victim was Kim Jae Hwan, who only got to perform Nuna (he should have performed The Time I Need as well. For standout performance, I am putting down ASTRO and Oh My Girl’s creepy and jazzy cover of IU’s Red Shoes. It was different and colourful. Other stages to check out:

  • Stray Kid’s Side Effects – Another intense song that they managed to upgrade and make darker. The creative minds that put together these stages for Stray Kids are killing it (and need a pay rise instantly).
  • Seventeen & Mamamoo Collaboration – Two of my favourite groups have come together to form one dream team. And this was such an amazing stage.
  • Seventeen’s HIT – Mingyu shouldn’t be playing with fire. It is dangerous. But one epic opener to the stage. Also, somehow Seventeen managed to insert a dance break in the midst of the stage, which I think earns a mention at the very least.
  • Hyuna’s Flower Shower – Her choreography is essentially the same as the one she performed in the past. But the chorus instrumental is changed slightly, which I thought made the stage a lot cooler for the end of year festival.
  • Taemin’s Move & Famous – MBC’s Music Festival had a theme, The Chemistry. And you can’t have a theme about Chemistry without Taemin. While he didn’t do anything special to Move‘s stage, his dance alone is already 100% fitting for a ‘Chemistry’ themed music festival.
  • (G)i-DLE’s Lion – Another reason to why we need to look out for this girl group is their special stages. Lion is practically a game changer for the group.
  • Lovelyz’s Beautiful Day – I really like their ballad start to their stage and how they built it back up to the original song in an effortless manner.

[Album Review] reality in BLACK (2nd Studio Album) – Mamamoo

Mamamoo is nominated for in 3 different categories (Best Female Group, Best Vocals, Best Female Choreography), while Hwasa is nominated for Best New Female Soloist and Best Solo Choreography for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Click here to support Mamamoo, Hwasa and your other favourite artists!!!

Mamamoo made their comeback two weeks ago with their second studio album, reality in BLACK (where BLACK is an acronym for Bless Life and Carry Knowledge). Their concept this time around showed us what the members of Mamamoo would be like if they were not part of Mamamoo in multiple universes. It is a very interesting concept that you should also check out in the music video below. HIP is the title track from this album, which also features their Queendom final track, Destiny (links all below). In addition to these 2 tracks, there are 9 other songs on the album. So let’s check them out!

reality in BLACK Album Cover

1. Destiny (우린 결국 다시 만날 운 명 이었지)Click here to read the full review for Destiny. (10/10)

2. Universe Universe is a straightforward pop track that has a nice pleasant melody and fun beat to it. It might not sound like there is anything special within the track if you just gloss over this track. But a more in depth listen to the song will yield awesome vocals, catchy vocals and an easy-going rap segment courtesy of Moonbyul. Two things caught my attention. This is very smooth, compared to songs released/promoted currently. Also, I really like how they personalise their songs. In Universe, they subtly incorporated their names into the lyrics, which I somehow managed to pick up within the first listen (Note: my Korean isn’t good). (8/10)

3. Ten Nights (열 밤) – The first ballad on the album is Ten Nights. And per any Mamamoo track (let alone ballad), the song features breathtaking vocals that captivate you. I honestly felt like it was well-suited for drama OST. The instrumental is standard for a ballad, so most of the appeal is made through their vocal work. Both Moonbyul and Solar’s high note really shocked me. I think Moonbyul’s high note was her first on stage ever, while Solar’s caught me off guard for a moment. Both Wheein and Hwasa were enthralling as well. The harmonies during the bridge between Solar/Hwasa and Wheein/Moonbyul was another highlight worth mentioning. (10/10)

4. HIP (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of HIP. (9/10)

5. 4x4ever 4x4ever is a very strong song. It makes sense as the song is all about self-empowerment, which is definitely one of Mamamoo’s domains. I really like the textures that the song features. From the heavy nature and crunchy rock elements found in the instrumentation, the breathy and raspy vocals and a rap sequence that aligns itself with the hip-hop genre, everything was powerful on its own and really worked together well to amplify this. It is a great track to listen to, but I wish there were one or two catchier hooks in this song. (9/10)

6. BetterBetter is decent 90s vibe track. I don’t hate it, but it isn’t my ‘go-to’ track on this album. I just prefer it when Mamamoo does something with a little more definition or oomph (if you understand what I mean). While the vocal work was awesome (Solar’s high notes and the member’s adlibs, as some examples in this song), I thought the melody was a little forgettable. I wished they did something more with the verses, which should have been better aligned with the powerful nature of their vocals during the chorus. (7/10)

7. Hello Mama – The second ballad of the album is Hello Mama. It is a ballad, with a jazzy influence, which I thought was nice. The member keeps their vocals from going into ‘powerful’ mode, which I think it is very fitting for the style. It feels like something that would have come from the 30s or be a theme song for someone with a well-known elegant image. It was beautiful to an extent. I just wished they dropped the rapping because it felt out of place in this track. But apart from that, it was good. (7.5/10)

8. ZzZz (심심해) – The title of the song essentially refers to being ‘bored’. And I thought the lyrics of the song encompassed this theme very well. It features a quirky instrumental, made of instruments that you wouldn’t find in a standard song. And while it is quirky, I found it very interesting that the energy levels of this song was kept down to a minimum (which in hindsight does go well with the title and lyrics). It is almost like the quirky moments of the instrumentation was made due to the sheer boredom, while the producers were lying down on the floor or half their body was hanging off their bed. The melodies were nice and pleasant. (8/10)

9. rEALITY – The next track on the album is the reggae influenced rEALITY. But the reggae influence is not strong, and nor do I find anything too special about the instrumentation. Instead, it is the vocals that do most of the appealing in this track. I really like how they brought different textures within their voices to the song, giving each section a unique and different feel, relatively to what we had already heard in the song. I really like Hwasa’s ‘I’m Fine, I’m Hurt’ line that follows the chorus. It felt very loaded, despite the instrumental being stripped back to nothing and Hwasa singing that line very softly each time. (8/10)

10. High Tension (춤을 취)High Tension is a groovy and jazzy R&B number. The song contains good vocals and rapping. Harmonies are probably High Tension’s strongest point. The instrumental also pushed along nicely. But other than that, there wasn’t anything worth pointing out, honestly. It is a standard track and probably my personal pick for the track to skip over on the album. (6/10)

11. I’m Your Fan I’m Your Fan has a very addictive and alluring beat, despite it being like any other pop track we have listened to. I liked how the chorus continued with instrumental of the verse with very little fuss or added elements, keeping the song relatively consistent. There was a mini breakdown in the middle of the song, which I did like, which gave the song a break from becoming too consistent and overly tiring over multiple listens. The song’s main hook has to be the ‘I’m Your Fan, Your Fan, Your Fan’, which followed the chorus and provided a cute element to the song through its autotune. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

reality in BLACK Teaser Image