[Review] C.I.T.T (Cheese In The Trap) – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

I am jumping around today with my reviews this weekend to focus on solo artists who have released songs over the last few weeks that I have yet to cover on my blog. First up is actually a release from this week. Moonbyul is back with a new single, C.I.T.T (Cheese In The Trap). This is a pretty quick comeback for the solo artist, given that Moonbyul just release a mini-album earlier this year, headlined by the title track LUNATIC. But I am not complaining!

C.I.T.T doesn’t give me much to complain about, anyway. I am a big fan of upbeat tracks, in general. Extra points are given if the song makes me smile. And C.I.T.T fits the bill perfectly, fulfilling both criteria that I had outlined just now. C.I.T.T has this strong and satisfying pop rock sound that energises you as you listen to the song. Its undoubtedly fun, playful, bright and catchy. I am of the opinion that more could have been done to make the instrumental a bit more exciting and unique, but it works extremely well as it is presented to us. What makes C.I.T.T even more enjoyable is Moonbyul herself. The song plays towards her strengths in both the vocals and rapping departments, My favourite part of the song is the pre-chorus, with the raspy nature of her vocals perfectly highlighted for the ramping up sequence of the song. Her vocals in the chorus and second half of the bridge are also great moments. The melodies and hooks were catchy enough to make the song memorable and addictive. I can definitely see myself returning to C.I.T.T, which is the highest compliment that anyone can pay a song.

In this video, Moonbyul is a student who wants to experience love. Everyone around her is getting confessions, flowers or are in a relationship. She turns to a tape that teaches her how to put the ‘cheese in the trap’, which in this case is code for ‘make someone fall in love with her’ (i.e. trap them). But instead of following the tape itself, Moonbyul decides to embrace her true self to find that someone, instead of following some cheesy instructions from a tape. She would be more comfortable and this will be attractive to many people! Aside from the cute storyline, I really liked all the different looks that Moonbyul donned throughout the video. From the typical school student look to the punkish rock star at the end, she definitely showcased multiple sides of herself, which is fun and appealing.

I liked how the choreography embodied the fun side of the song. Nothing stood out, but it was a great routine that matched the energy of the song well.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Album Review] 6equence (2nd Mini Album) – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

The final album review for this weekend is for Moonbyul. Mamamoo’s rapper returned as a solo artist back in January with the title track LUNATIC. This follows two pre-releases in December 2021, G999 (ft. Mirani) and Shutdown (ft. Seori), both of which are featured on the 6equence mini-album as well. In addition to the title track and pre-releases (per usual, you can find the links to their respective reviews in the body of the album review), there are two more side tracks, an introductory track and the English version of her title track (not factored into the final album rating).

6equence definitely shows Moonbyul’s range. She goes from a fun title track to very emotional and heavy ballads. I would love to hear Moonbyul explore more and attempt different styles, given that her parts in Mamamoo’s songs tend to be quite limited (however, that has changed more over time after she gained more confidence in her vocals). Continue reading to find out my thoughts on her side tracks and more!

6equence Album Cover

1. Intro: Synopsis – Starting off the mini-album is an intro track titled Synopsis. It is a smooth R&B track that exudes a sensual and alluring atmosphere. The long instrumental segments of this song tell me that Synopsis would be more of a performance piece (Spoiler: it definitely was a captivating one, based on a performance I found at her solo concert from earlier in the year, capturing the smooth and sensual descriptions I just mentioned). We do get some vocals, and they work well with the instrumentation. (8/10)

2. G999 (ft. Mirani)Click here for the full review for G999. (8.5/10)

3. Shutdown (머리에서 발끝까지) (ft. Seori)Click here for the full review for Shutdown. (9/10)

4. LUNATIC (Title Track) Click here for the full review for LUNATIC. (8/10)

5. For Me (너만 들었으면 좋겠다)For Me enters R&B ballad territory. The instrumental features straight forward acoustic guitar and simple percussion. Sometimes simplicity is just enough, and this song proves just that. The simple nature of For Me also allows the focus to be placed squarely on Moonbyul’s vocals. You can tell just from her tone (and of the instrumentation) that For Me is an emotionally loaded song, and the melodies make For Me quite riveting. A strong song, ‘for me’. (8/10)

6. Ddu Ddu Ddu (내가 뭘 어쩌겠니?)Ddu Ddu Ddu adds a slight kick to it that puts the song into mid-tempo waters, thanks to its band instrumentation. But that doesn’t really change much else, as Ddu Ddu Ddu continues the emotionally loaded direction of the album. And Moonbyul’s vocals a definitely top notch here. I find the band instrumental to be more up Moonbyul’s alley, as it enables for a smoother transition into rapping and Ddu Ddu Ddu’s style definitely fits her vocal tones. (9/10)

7. LUNATIC (English Version) – Refer to my full review of LUNATIC linked above.

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

6equence / LUNATIC Teaser Image

[Review] HONEY – Solar (MAMAMOO)

Solar also made her comeback this past week with the title track HONEY and first mini-album, 容: Face. HONEY follows MAMAMOO’s main vocalist’s solo debut from two years ago, Spit It Out.

Like the other solo acts who returned last week, Solar’s return is also of the upbeat variety. This didn’t come as much surprise to me however, given the likes of Spit It Out. HONEY jumps out at me thanks to its dynamic house instrumental. In addition to this, HONEY also thrived on different textures. One segment was minimal, another was smooth, and then really heavy on the thumps. This, to me, made it appealing and striking to listen to. The brass following the chorus was a nice addition, adding a fun vibe to the song. Of course, Solar also plays a big part in making HONEY appealing. Aside from co-penning and co-producing song (obviously a big player in the existence of this song), Solar’s vocals were pretty neat throughout HONEY. I personally thought she did a good job of reflecting that dynamic nature and energy of HONEY through her mixed deliveries and vocal colours. Sure, it might not yet be the showcase of powerhouse vocals that I am sure many of us are waiting from Solar, but it worked well with the instrumental. The hooks and melodies we get helps make HONEY one of the catchiest and memorable songs from the past week, and they work extremely well in tandem with the instrumental. However, I am of the opinion that HONEY did not need rapping, however. The rap sequence in the second verse was probably the dullest segment of the song for me. But apart from that, HONEY was fun, likeable and one of my personal favourite releases of the week.

Another really great aspect of this comeback is the music video. The use of one colour for each shot made the video extremely visually appealing, striking and loud, just like the song. Solar’s visuals throughout the video was top notch, and her stylists put her in some really great outfits that really emphasis the colours that was the theme of the shot. Unfortunately, it isn’t an innovative idea. But Solar and the production team pulled it off, nonetheless.

For the performance, nothing really stood out on its own. But the entire routine was vibrant, which helped make the choreography worth watching. Listening to Solar sing live is always amazing, as well, given how stable she sounds on stage.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.1/10

[Review] Shutdown – Moonbyul (Mamamoo) ft. Seori

Like my last post, there is another track that fits the brief (solo artist, song released in the last few months, and should have been covered before I reviewed the main title track) from last year. That track is titled Shutdown, a collaborative single from Mamamoo member Moonbyul and Seori, released at the end of last year as well. Shutdown is one of two pre-release singles (the other being G999) that is featured on Moonbyul’s latest mini-album, 6equence, which is lead by the single LUNATIC.

Shutdown is a smooth mid-tempo R&B track with one of those swayable melodies that I love. One of the things that stuck out at me (and to a lot of listeners as well) were the lyrics, which had two key chrematistics – they promoted inclusivity and were a bit erotic as well. Essentially, Shutdown is a song about a relationship between two women and Moonbyul has been receiving praise for this. Moonbyul has also confirmed the erotic nature behind the lyrics. Good on Moonbyul for breaking boundaries with this song, as it is pretty rare sight in KPOP. Aside from lyrics, we also have the amazing vocals of both Moonbyul and featuring artist Seori in Shutdown. Moonbyul’s natural lower tone is well utilised in Shutdown, keeping the song grounded. As for her rapping, I kind of understand its presence in this song to make the song a bit more interesting and not as repetitive. But I felt it was a bit too heavy, and should have adopted a softer approach to compliment the rest of the song. Seori brings a higher and lighter tone. I really enjoyed the airness that her vocals brought to Shutdown, and helped made the chorus more prominent. This is also why I feel Moonbyul purposely used her lower tone to ensure Shutdown isn’t too light and airy. Both artists balance each other and creates such a good track. The best part of Shutdown definitely has to be when the two vocalists alternate with each other the lines of the pre-chorus. Definitely the most memorable part of Shutdown. I also found the bridge to be stunning. A beautifully pre-release overall.

The music video is pretty nice looking as well, which compliments the song well. The golden hue we get from the lighting and colours is very warming and comforting. The video depicts the relationship between two females as mentioned in lyrics/song portion of the review. But instead of being erotic like in the lyrics, the music video shows a sweeter side of the relationship. At first, it appears like Moonbyul is alone and Seori is like a ghost. But at the end, I liked how they transitioned it so that Moonbyul and Seori are seen interacting with one another (whilst also lip-syncing to the song).

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Review] LUNATIC – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Moonbyul made her solo comeback with the new single LUNATIC and mini-album, 6equence. This comes almost a year after the release of her Eclipse / Absence and Dark Side of the Moon mini-album, with the latter scoring the ‘Most Viewed Album Review of Year‘ award, as announced in the recently published 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards Winners post. Congratulations Moonbyul! This isn’t the most recent sighting of Moonbyu on this blog, however, as she has been busy teasing us with some pre-releases, including the December releases of G999 (ft Minari) and Shutdown (ft. Seori). Fellow member Wheein also made her own solo comeback earlier in the same week with Make Me Happy.

LUNATIC is a complete change in character for Moonbyul, who made her comeback last year (Eclipse) with a much darker and sinister vibe. Even her repackaged single (Absence) that she promoted was very mature sounding. On the other hand, LUNATIC is a much more fun and upbeat track. It isn’t exactly the most infectiously catchy track of that week, but there is some charm to LUNATIC. I really liked the chorus of this song, simply because the energy of the entire track is well concentrated in the choruses of LUNATIC. This track embodies a funky vibe, which is no doubt on trend with the funky pop instrumentals. I quite enjoyed the ‘Lu-Lu-Na-Na-Na-Lunatic‘ hook and the melodies around it that Moonbyul delivers. It is catchy enough and gave me an impression of a great time. Like in her other solo tracks, we get to hear more of Moonbyul’s vocals and rapping abilities. It is amazing to think that a few years back Moonbyul was shy about her vocals, and that she has come very far to bring us multiple solo tracks that are vocal-centric. Now and in LUNATIC, she is hitting high notes and gives us pleasant vocals that encapsulates that already mentioned fun vibe. When it comes to her rapping, Moonbyul did well (as expected, given this is her expertise). In the first verse, I liked how her rapping sequence blended in with the verse, while in the second verse, her rapping was bold and a bit crazier, showing us a slightly edgier and crazier side to her in this song. Overall, LUNATIC delivered well on the other elements and this made the song great!

In this music video, Moonbyul plays the role of a suspected killer, who is committed to a hospital and later escapes. I like how she used this concept to relay her feelings of falling in love, taking the idea of falling crazily in love with someone to an extreme. It does tether on a fine line in some regards, but I think it worked extremely well in showing off that fun energy that the song has. Moonbyul was extremely charmful and funny throughout the video.

I enjoyed the performance, simply due to the fact that Moonbyul looked she was having a blast on stage each time I watched a performance for this comeback. For the most part, everything felt standard and there wasn’t anything really that impressive. But I did like the chorus routine and thought the performance as a whole took on that fun energy well.

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

[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