[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] 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] 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] 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

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

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

Dark Side Of The Moon Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

Dark Side Of The Moon Teaser Image

[Review] Eclipse – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

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

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

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

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

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

[Double Review] Selfish + In My Room – Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Moonbyul made her solo debut 2 weeks ago. Clearly shows how ‘up to date’ I am. But once again, better late than never. Moonbyul is Mamamoo’s well-known rapper (and starting this year, vocalist). The main title track is Selfish, which also features Seulgi from Red Velvet. The two previously participated in Idol Drama Operation Team. Furthermore, I have decided to include In My Room, which also had a music video (hence the review).

Selfish is a nice song that does bring a smile to your face. The song is quite melodic and slowly paced (but not too slow), which makes it pleasant to listen to. When rappers released solo songs, they are usually fierce and energy packed in the way the lines are delivered. However, Moonbyul’s solos tracks are one of the few examples that don’t really conform to that. Seulgi’s vocals in this song pair well with the soft nature. But my favourite part in the entire song is the harmonies, particularly in the final chorus. It is clear that Moonbyul can sing (as seen through her group’s releases this year). But there is something about the harmonies that has me falling in love with the song. Overall, it is quite good.

In My Room takes on an R&B approach. In this song, she takes on both the vocals and raps herself. Though, there seemed to be a male singer featuring in the middle of the song, who didn’t seem to be listed on any of the tracklist or information that I could dig up. I like her vocals in the song and when she changed to rapping as well. The instrumental was also quite nice, which gets me swaying along to the music. Sadly, I don’t find this song as memorable as Selfish was. However, it was still pleasant to listen to and showcases Moonbyul’s talents in a much more softer manner.

The two music videos are polar opposites. Mainly due to the atmosphere the song creates. Selfish’s video was more fun-filled, while In My Room was more emotionally centred. The message of the Selfish video can be seen clearly throughout the video (see the English translations for the song) but I really liked the comedic approach they took in some of the scenes (e.g. the kids intimidating and getting the singers’ money).  In My Room seemed to conform to that typical R&B visual, with the darkness and nightlife scene. On top of that, I thought the loneliness that Moonbyul was easily experienced just by watching.

Selfish
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

In My Room 
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7/10