As you may be already aware, I am currently on a break from the blog to spend some time with family and friends this Christmas. But this does not mean I can’t celebrate the holidays with you, as well. And I do this by sharing a whole bunch of festive themed songs that our favourite and beloved KPOP artists (and companies) have released this year.
Again, I wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays full of joy, laughter and the company of family and friends. If today is business as usual for you or you don’t celebrate the festive season, then I hope today goes seamlessly for you.
And given that from tomorrow we are in an awkward limbo state between Christmas and New Years (honestly, what do we do in during this period?), I will also wish everyone a happy new year.
Next up on the blog is the review for MIRAE’s latest comeback, Drip N’ Drop, which dropped last week on Wednesday. Drip N’ Drop is the title track off the group’s fourth mini-album, Ourturn, which also was released on the same day. This is the group’s first comeback since their Marvelous promotions earlier this year.
Following the likes of Marvelous is going to be a tall order to fulfil in my opinion. That is a song that really kicked off the year on a strong note for me, so there is high expectations for Drip N’ Drop. So the big question is – do I think Drip N’ Drop lives up to the expectations? Unfortunately, my answer is no. I think Drip N’ Drop has a few weak points that takes it down a notch when compared to Marvelous (and I will explain which ones in a bit). Despite that, let me iterate that Drip N’ Drop is in no way a bad song. I actually enjoyed the deep house and a funky underlay that makes up Drip N’ Drop‘s instrumentation. They are trends in KPOP that we have heard before and the combination of both is not new unexplored territory. But I liked the powerfulness behind the instrumental, which helped add a bold factor to Drip N’ Drop. Talking about making things bold, I also really enjoyed the way the song bolstered up the title of the song to make it the main hook. The layering of the vocals was quite simple, but it also felt clean. I am also a big fan of the percussive effects used to launch the song from the bridge into the final chorus. It added a really dynamic factor to the song and also ticks the box of including something different to keep the song from feeling neutral and/or repetitive. The lack of melody in Drip N’ Drop is what disappoints me the most me. I feel the producers could have really used melody to add more hooks to the choruses to make Drip N’ Drop more appealing. As with the lack of melodies, this left the members with not as much opportunity to shine in Drip N’ Drop. But aside from these factors, I still enjoyed Drip N’ Drop.
The helmet from Marvelous music video makes an appearance in this video, and I had previously theorized that the members were all friends on Mars once. Based on the ending of this video and what I just expressed, it appears MIRAE are going home. This connection is only a small one, however, as the members send messages to each other throughout the video, presumably to converge to that final spot for the spaceship off-screen to teleport them away. Aside from that theory of what is going on in the video, I actually quite enjoyed the prominent colour theme of the video – blue. I thought it was going to be much, but they kept it refined and aesthetic. I also enjoyed that moving background for the main choreography shot.
The choreography was pretty good. No particular move or section stood out for me, but the performance as a whole is still worth watching.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8/10
Next up on the album review trail is is MIRAE’s third mini-album, MARVELOUS. Featured on the album is the title track that shares the same name as the mini-album and also five other new tracks. This album dropped in the second week of January, more specifically on 12 January 2022.
This album is centred heavily on the pop genre. The first half of the album was very strong and really showcased MIRAE. The second half faltered slightly, but it still contributed to an enjoyable album overall. Let me know which song was your favourite and whether you agree with my thoughts below for each Keep on reading for my thoughts on each song, along with Marvelous’s full review (the title track, that is). Let me know if you agree or disagree with me in the comments section below.
1. Future Land – Future Land starts off the album by swinging with a hip-hop infused funk sound. It is an impressive track as it kicks the whole album with a very energetic and positive note. The funky sound brings a fun vibe to the song that I just want to go back to. The rappers, which dominate the likes of Future Land, really nail their parts in the verses/choruses and helps bring that hip-hop side to life. The vocalists come off strong just as well as the rappers, just they don’t get much of the bright limelight. I wished the final chorus was a bit more concentrated, just to give us that ‘icing on the cake’ effect at the end. (9/10)
3. JUICE – I found JUICE to be a such a clean track. It delves into the pop genre, which I find the members and producers to have nailed perfectly. I like the slightly funky tinge the guitars brought to the song. The melodies and hooks were very catchy, while the rapping and vocals were executed perfectly and I had no issues with them. My only complaint about JUICE was about how it was over so soon (just under the 3 minute mark). But when I think back in retrospect, maybe that was intentional to make JUICE succinct and hence super effective. (10/10)
4. Final Cut – Final Cut sounds like it could have been a very edgy track title. But instead, Final Cut has a summer holiday vibe, with a lot of its instrumental reminding me of descriptive words such as ‘tropical’ and ‘island getaway’. TWICE’s Alcohol-Free also popped into my mind whilst listening to the song. Aside from that mismatch expectation, Final Cut was a decent track, with enjoyable melodies and a bright profile. (7.5/10)
5. Amazing (소름) – Amazing is another promising track on this album. It delves into the pop genre once again. There were pleasant melodies. The vocals and rapping are pretty good. Everything compliments each other very well. Unfortunately, Amazing doesn’t stand out as much on this album to me because I felt the song was somewhat under-developed in comparison to the other side tracks on this album. I guess it could be the typical and standard aura that comes off it, but I also felt the those mentioned elements (instrumental, vocals and rapping) all could have gone further. (7/10)
6. Dear My Friend (일곱페이지) – The line ‘You are my friend, my friend’ is quite a memorable one. The album ends with Dear My Friend. It is a lot more mellow and wholesome sounding, which makes senses based on the vocals. I liked the mixture of vocals and rapping in this song, along with the synths in the instrumental. Everything comes together to create a pleasant end to the album. (8/10)
Returning today is MIRAE, with their new single and third mini-album, Marvelous. The new release comes after MIRAE wrapped up 2021 with their debut single KILLA and first comeback single, Splash. The group have been receiving nominations for Best New Male Group or Best Rookie Group throughout the current award season, with them also receiving a nomination for the equivalent award in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. I will be announcing the winners in the near future. But until then, here are my thoughts on Marvelous (the title track).
Marvelous is a bold dance track that just really jumps right out at me. The boldness and ‘jumps right out at me’ part can be attributed to the catchy hook at the song begins with (i.e. the ‘Ma Ma Ma Mars‘ and the ‘Na Na Na Now‘). And this alone is quite addictive. Otherwise, Marvelous is a strong dance pop genre song. It is on the more typical side, but it is still a clean and upbeat dance track. The catchiness of the hook adds a vibrant tone to Marvelous and takes the song to the next level. The verses were pretty good, with solid vocals/rapping from the members and an intense instrumental buildup paired with some slightly monotonous yet powerful rapping for the pre-choruses. Said pre-choruses were actually another highlight in Marvelous for me. As for the bridge, it was the most interesting part of the song. There are two halves to it. The first half features vocals that seemingly adds a bit of flirty attitude and flair to the song. I quite enjoyed it. The second half of the bridge is more so an EDM break, where a shrilling texture is added to the song. Some vocals remain here, but the melody is lost in favour for the instrumental. This was a more dynamic change, but it added a different flavour to the song. Overall, I appreciated how the bridge kept the charge and momentum of the song, despite changing Marvelous a bit. It also added excitement to the song, which is a common theme across the board throughout Marvelous.
I am not entirely sure what is happening the video, but I might have a theory. It opens up with Dongpyo running away from someone. He is also coming from the direction of Mars based on the ‘To Mars’ sign on the door, which might indicate his origin as Mars. Anyhow, he later wakes up and looks into the space via his telescope, before donning an astronaut’s helmet and appearing in front of the other members (which I am guessing are on Earth). His presence intrigues the other members (and also felt slightly creepy during certain parts) and they follow him to the room with the big telescope and planets around them. I am not entirely sure what the significance of this big room is, but my big guess is that the room awakens everyone (they had no idea who he was at first, but at the end seemed to know him quite well). It appears like the entire mission was Dongpyo to reunite with his friends who also used to be on Mars as well (based the scene we get of them on Mars and the existence of the photograph), but they were somehow taken to Earth and their memories were wiped. In the end, the friends reunite. A slightly confusing storyline, but overall a good concept.
The routine looks dynamic and energetic, fitting the song quite well. The bridge section of the routine also adds to the powerfulness of the choreography. It is a bit hard for me to make further comments as we are limited based on what we got in the music video. But for now, I think what we saw is good enough for a 8/10 rating.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8.5/10
Next up on the reviewing block is MIRAE’s first comeback, Splash, which occurred at the end of August of this year. This comeback follows their debut with KILLA (the title of both their debut single and debut mini-album, the latter has not been reviewed).
When I sit down to compare Splash with KILLA, I am left disappointed. You would hope that the first comeback following debut would be better than the debut track (regardless of how good the debut track was). But with Splash, it seems like the opposite is happening. While Splash does line up well with KILLA in the sense that it is an intense and edgy EDM track, Splash feels very plain and boring in comparison. The instrumentation isn’t exciting where it needs to be (i.e. the chorus) and leaves you wanting a whole heap more. It isn’t as bombastic or epic as KILLA was. I am not too sure whether we can blame the hip-hop influence being the main cause of the generic nature of the song, but I feel like past experience says that is the case. The vocals and rapping fair a bit better, as they members really tried to drive up the dynamic nature of the song. The rapping, particularly in the first verse and the bridge, was quite impressive. The vocals did suffer from the generic nature of the song, with the melodies being quite plain and unoriginal. But that being said, the members were pretty clear and were definitely at the forefront of the song. Other than that, I don’t much else to about Splash. It is a step backwards and I hope that their future comeback is able to make up for this.
I think the music video was the strongest aspect of this comeback. The budget and post-production (i.e. that big wave, which makes sense with a song titled Splash, though I feel a capitalised stylisation would have been more suitable as that wave would only lead to a big SPLASH) really gave the video that wow factor that I am usually after, while the sets and the outfits worn by the members really emphasised the edgy factor from the song.
I like how powerful their routine is. It isn’t the most memorable choreography this year, but I liked their intense energy and stage presence. I thought the dance break was pretty cool. It doesn’t seem like much, but it was the highlight of the performance for me.
Song – 6/10 Music Video – 8.5/10 Performance – 7.5/10 Overall Rating – 7.1/10
Last week, we saw the debut of a few groups which I have yet to review. I am hoping today I will finally get around to reviewing all of them (sounds ambitious given my track record). The focus of today’s review is MIRAE, a new group under DSP Media (the home of APRIL and KARD). MIRAE is a seven-member male group, consisting of Lee Junhyuk (former Produce 101 X contestant), Son Dongpyo (former Produce 101 X contestant and X1 member), Kael (former Under Nineteen contestant), Park Siyoung (former Under Nineteen contestant), Lien, Jang Yubin and Yoo Douhyun. They made their debut on 17 March with the title track and mini-album of the same name, KILLA.
KILLA is a powerful song, tapping into the EDM genre of music for MIRAE’s debut song. But I feel that KILLA seems to take things that step further, which differentiates their EDM release from other releases that fall into the same genre. And that is something that I really look for in new releases. Let’s start from the beginning of KILLA. The song opens with its chorus and very blastful electro-house in the background. From the get-go, the song is loaded with intensity and power, making it is a fulfilling way to start the song. The song then moves into the verses, with introduces us to MIRAE’s rap line. The pre-chorus features the vocal line and adds some smoothness to the song in the otherwise texturally loaded song. Both the vocal and rap line that form MIRAE are very skilled. Both rose to the occasion to match that loaded intensity we got from the instrumentation. The second verse is delivered by a mixture of the two factions of the group and they really work with each other to continue the song’s momentum. Fast-forwarding to after the second chorus, we enter the bridge, which is where I believe KILLA starts to detour away from its competition. We are first hit with a bit of an electric guitar which adds an electrifying and undoubtedly exciting energy to the song. This is then followed up with a slowed down vocal section, which quickly ramps back up to a distorted EDM breakdown (uniqueness here, as I don’t think I have heard any song distort EDM in the way KILLA‘s producers have). We are then quickly blasted by a return of some powerful and angsty rapping from Junhyuk, which felt perfect to lead into the final chorus. Overall, I feel that KILLA was a very strong song to start off their debut with. If you enjoyed the thrill of songs like SEVENTEEN’s HIT, then I am sure KILLA would be an equal compliment to your playlist.
You can tell that DSP Media is really going hard with their investment in MIRAE. Everything in this video was top notch in terms of editing, set design and graphics. The music video that accompanies the release of KILLA quite futuristic (a fair amount of neon lights, robots, screens and holograms were observed). I am unsure if Junhyuk is stuck in a technological limbo, but he makes the call to all of his fellow MIRAE members to band together which we see them all do once they get his message. I also like the traditional touch that the video had, which gave the video an extra level of attraction. The glitching graphics make total sense when it comes to the bridge of the song. But I was completely convinced my laptop was playing up when we got to that part the first time. However, after the video wrapped up, I was completely in awe with how cool the resulting product ended up being.
It comes as no surprise that the performance was as powerful as the song. I really enjoyed the dance break, with their robust moves really complimenting the intense energy we get from that sequence of the song. It does seems like they had to tone back their energy to allow for a live performance (which makes complete sense). But I am not disappointed in that, as they managed to wow me with the performance nonetheless. And if I needed additional convincing to do so, this performance really makes me want to keep an eye out for future MIRAE releases.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9/10