[Review] Make Me Happy – Wheein (Mamamoo)

My next review is for Wheein’s solo comeback, which was dropped on the Sunday that had just past! Leading her latest mini-album, Whee, is the title track Make Me Happy, which music video also dropped on the same day. Both Make Me Happy and Whee is also her first release as a solo artist outside of RBW, which is still managing her Mamamoo activities. In June of last year, Wheein had chosen not to renew her personal contract with RBW, but did sign another contract to stay on as a Mamamoo member so that the quartet would continue on for the next while Her lost solo release under RBW last year’s water color. A few months later, it was announced that Wheein had signed on with THEL1VE, which is a label founded by Ravi (VIXX member), and is also home to Ailee.

Right from the get-go, Make Me Happy is such a pleasant and soothing track. There is a lot of enjoy in the song. To me, Make Me Happy comes off as an upbeat R&B track that has a tinge of retro flair to the song. Not really the most mind-blowing combination, but it is still appreciable and stunning at times. The bass line gives the song a nice oomph, which prevents it from dulling and increases the appeal of the song by many folds as opposed to the track going down the standard R&B sound. Wheein’s vocals bring a delicate touch to the song. Her vocals are whispery and light, while the melodies were smooth and flowy. I liked the pairing of the upbeat instrumentation with Wheein’s vocals. They offset the flaws of each other and creates a harmonious track that I find is very pretty, beautiful and an enjoyable track to relax or chill to. However, I do feel like my opening statement is a bit of a double edge sword to the song. While being pleasant and soothing is a great thing at times, I do think this is Make My Happy‘s biggest issue. And it is simply due to the competition that both the song and Wheein faces. In the midst of releases that have dropped this week so far, I don’t know if ‘pleasant and soothing’ is the right way to go. It is quite a crowd to navigate in. For example, if I wasn’t writing a review blog, I think I would have missed the release despite being a fan of Mamamoo, due to the fact that it is a Sunday release and that I tend to steer towards more lively and dynamic tracks (which yesterday and today is in abundance of).

To compliment the pretty song is an equally as pretty music video. There was such a heavy presence of flowers and butterflies throughout the video, and Wheein’s visuals got more and more breathtaking as the video went on. The purple dress and the flower head piece, as she walked down that hall, was definitely the money shot for me in this video. The visual work at the start and the post-production throughout the video (such as that beautiful hole in the wall and Wheein bursting into butterflies) definitely took the video to the next level. I also like the overall colour palette of the video. There were a mixture of pastels and stronger tones throughout the video, which helps makes this music video look less muted.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.5/10

[Album Review] Guilty Pleasure (1st Single Album) – Hwasa (Mamamoo)

Kicking off the new year is an album review for Hwasa’s latest single album release, Guilty Pleasure, which dropped at the end of November of last year (kind of weird saying that when last year was only two days ago). The single album features the title track I’m a B and two other new tracks from the Mamamoo member. Guilty Pleasure and I’m a B follows Hwasa’s 2020 comeback, Maria, which I reviewed both the mini-album and title track for.

Guilty Pleasure Album Cover

1. FOMOFOMO is an all-English track that starts off with R&B sound. It is a sound that suits Hwasa and the song had a good beat and rhythm. I quite enjoyed her vocals, especially when it was strengthen by the backing vocals. Striking would be the word I use to describe her. But I note that FOMO wasn’t going anywhere, and I didn’t think I would like the entire song if it were just like this repetitively. That mentality was thrown out the door up when we approached the 1:20 minute mark, where FOMO breaks down and Hwasa brings in this soft, moody and ambient piano ripple. Her voice goes soft and whisper-like, and this really extremely bone-chilling. That change was an extremely bold, and worked a treat as it pays off in making the song memorable and unique. (9/10)

2. I’m a B (Title Track)Click here for I’m a B full review. (7.5/10)

3. Bless U – Hwasa wows me in Bless U with her vocals. Hwasa already has unique vocals in general and the huskiness and raspiness helps Hwasa stand out from afar. But in Bless U, she builds up her vocals and soars to make this a showstopping track. I cannot help but close my eyes to take it all in. The instrumental was a bit plain for the most part, but I liked how it kept a minimalist vibe so that the focus is purely on Hwasa’s vocals. Despite that, there is still a bit of build within the instrumental of Bless U, and I did like how the song ended with electric guitars. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Guilty Pleasure Teaser Image

[Review] G999 – Moonbyul (Mamamoo) ft. Mirani

Mamamoo is nominated for Best Vocals for Where We Are Now in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support Mamamoo by clicking here to vote now!

Moonbyul, Mamamoo’s resident rapper, is gearing up for a solo comeback in 2022. But while that is the formal comeback timeframe, Moonbyul will be teasing her return with a few pre-release singles. The first is G999, which dropped earlier today. It features Mirani, who is an independent South Korean rapper who debuted last year. This is the first solo release from Moonbyul since her solo debut with Eclipse at the start of last year.

G999 tackles retro hip-hop, with a newtro background and old school vibes that takes you back to the 90s. G999 comes off as fun and vibrant, which is pretty typical for the influences in this day and age. However, the typicalness in this song is not an issue, as I find myself grooving along to G999 since the very first listen. I also find the song to be quite light despite being heavy on those retro synths. The lightness helps make it sound pleasant, but also aids in the fun side of the song as well. I like how it doesn’t mess with the sound, staying consistently retro hip-hop 90s throughout. As they are rappers, both Moonbyul and Mirani fits in very well into the track. Their rap sequences definitely had nice flow and their delivery was pretty good. Nothing mind-blowing at all, but that doesn’t upset G999. Moonbyul also throws in vocals for the chorus and she sounds really good. I am glad that she has found her confidence to sing, as it pays off each time she does! The lacking element of G999 are the hooks. I would have liked to have heard something more punchy and memorable. That would have made G999 even more powerful and impactful. Melody-wise, I think that pleasant description I used comes back to me. Overall, G999 is a pretty nice break from the heavy synths of today’s electronic music or the classical instrumentation that comes in ballads and Christmas songs typical of this time of the year, and you thank that to the G999’s retro instrumentation and well-executed vocals/raps.

As expected, the video also takes a page out of 90s hio-hop era with video that would fit right into that era. The camera shots, lighting, post-production and even their white outfits are all a callback to that era. I like the splash of colour they added to the video via the random paint on the plastic curtains and lime colour lighting as well. My only gripe about the music video is how empty it felt. While the pair look like they are enjoying their time, I wished there was more people in the background to make the video a bit more exciting. Maybe COVID-19 prevented them from getting background people in, but I feel that would have made this video better.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Review] I’m a B – Hwasa (Mamamoo)

Mamamoo is nominated for Best Vocals for Where Are We Now? in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support Mamamoo and your other favourite artists, songs and performances by clicking here.

Making her return to the stage yesterday was Hwasa, with I’m a B (I’m a 빛). This new song is the title track off Hwasa’s second single album, Guilty Pleasure, which also dropped yesterday. This is Hwasa’s first solo comeback since Maria last year, and the first time we have seen her since Mamamoo’s return with mumumumuch earlier this year.

With a title like I’m a B, I’m a B is pitched to us initially as a bold track. But interestingly, the song isn’t that bold. The only boldness I really get from the song is when Hwasa exclaims ‘I’m a 빛‘ at she exclaims during the chorus. As an English speaker, that is pretty gutsy, but very clever when you factor in the Korean pronunciation of the Hangul there. But apart from that, I’m a B is a pretty tame song that sits in very subdued territory. I wished the official song featured the traditionally instrumented dance break in its entirety from the music video. Hwasa and her producers were on to something! It really pulled me in, and felt bold in a sophisticated manner. Its omission from the official audio felt like a missed opportunity. But while that is the case, I’m a B still manages to appeal with its nice melodies and the fact that Hwasa can captivate in such constricted territory. For I’m a B, the melodies felt simple. But they were also highly effective. In conjunction with Hwasa’s raspy vocals, I’m a B is charming and exudes a lot of charisma and confidence. All of which is a constant factor that Hwasa has managed to bring to us in her title tracks thus far. Also adding to the appeal of the song was the mature-sounding instrumental. While it played a heavy role in that tame/subdued nature, I also think it also brought out additional charm. Nothing really stands out in it, but I do find that it keeps true to the current trends of heavy bass and snappy percussions. It also felt a bit like a blank canvas, enabling Hwasa to do her thing. Overall, I’m a B plays towards Hwasa’s strengths, though I wished that it was bolder like how its title suggests.

What a stunning video. The visuals throughout this music video were on point, and amazed me. Underneath the visuals are some meaningful scenes/details. I stumbled across this one tweet (see below) while search for hashtags that I thought was very interesting. I liked how it explains the start of the video (i.e. Hwasa was in a crate full of water) and I believe the start also ties into the Maria music video. Aside from that, I also wanted to mention the epicness of the dance break that features in the music video. I was in awe and stunned at the beauty of that section. Not just at Hwasa’s presence, but also the instrument player and the dancers. Also when the instrument crumbles, that was a really strong and impact shot. Definitely a video to watch!

Once again the confidence that Hwasa exudes in the performance/choreography has to be mention. It make the rest of this component even better. More sensual and mature. I really liked the elegance of the dance break, and its contrast with the following part of the song where she does some tutting. A few different influences that somehow blends into one stunning performance.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.5/10

[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