[Album Review] Hot Sauce / Hello Future (1st Studio Album / 1st Studio Album Repackaged) – NCT DREAM

Earlier this week, NCT DREAM made their comeback with with Hello Future, which also headlined their their latest album release, the repackaged version of their first studio album (now titled as Hello Future). As mentioned in that review, I have yet to review the group’s first studio album, which they released as Hot Sauce early May. With the current focus on album reviews and their newly released version, I have decided to kill two birds with one stone by focusing on Hot Sauce and fast-tracking Hello Future. So without further ado, here is my album review for Hot Sauce/Hello Future.

1. Hello Future (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Hello Future. (9/10)

2. Bungee – I really enjoyed the shuffling nature of Bungee when it came to the chorus. It was a great texture, offsetting the plainer sections of the song (i.e., the verses). The verses did seem to allude to what was to come, but I just thought of those parts to be quite bare and boring. Similar comments can be said about the vocals and rapping. In the verses, they do not do much to really drive Bungee. But in the chorus, we get more momentum and texture in combination with the instrumentation, which was appealing to me. The bridge was also a nice sequence, with great vocals and Mark’s intense but brief rap line. I wished there was more of this to be honest. (7.5/10)

3. Hot Sauce (맛) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Hot Sauce. (8.5/10)

4. DiggityDiggity adds to the heavy-handed nature of Hot Sauce by continuing with EDM and deep bass. As a result, Diggity is the probably the album’s most intense track. But this shouldn’t be taken as a criticism. The song actually has a really strong and powerful hip-hop drive. The energy, especially at the start and during the chorus, was delivered via short but sharp releases through the beat. It also has this colourfulness to it, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The chantiness of the chorus was probably the weakest aspect of the song, but it was still catchy nonetheless. (8/10)

5. Life Is Still Going On (오르골)Life Is Still Going On is the next song the album. It is a soft song that has a twinkling instrumental that would remind you of a music box (as mentioned in the lyrics). Life Is Still Going On brings out the vocals of the group. The melody was quite pace to match with that twinkling effect, which helped Life Is Still Going On to be quite pleasant. Interestingly, the rapping in this song was of the usual intensity and didn’t surrender to the softer and paced profile of the song. While the contrast is definitely extreme, I am not put off by it. The producers did a good job of blending the two sides of the song together, helping it create a cohesive piece. Once again, the bridge of the song stood out. (8/10)

6. Dive Into You (고래)Dive Into You is one of my favourite side tracks from this album. While I do admit the verses were in a neutral gear, the rest of the track is covers up this minor flaw. The pre-chorus was a really nice redirection from the neutral verse. And it is this redirection that allows for the chorus to standout. The heavy percussion that opens the chorus emphasised the title of the song, and allowed for the rest of the chorus to use relatively heavier instrumentation (i.e. the guitar). But despite the relative heaviness, the entire song (big picture) remains fairly light-hearted and pleasant to listen to. An unexpected outcome. In addition to the music, the vocals and rapping in this song worked well with the instrumental, reflecting the light and “heavy” parts of the song.  (10/10)

7. My Youth (우리의 계절) – Within the opening few seconds of the song, we are gifted with a dramatic introduction and stunning harmonies. Both of which did an amazing job of attracting my attention towards the song. My Youth settles for a bouncy instrumentation that just keeps on going. I would further describe the instrumental as calming, as that is the effect that I got from the otherwise bouncy and continuous instrumentation. I personally liked it, given that it is simple and had an interesting effect. Aside of the instrumentation, the group showcases their vocals. Even the rapping is toned back this time to match with the soft atmosphere created by the song. With the already mentioned harmonisation, My Youth also shows off individual colours in the vocal department. (10/10)

8. RocketRocket returns the album to that upbeat and fun territory. There is such a playful vibe to this song with its funky profile. The instrumental is pretty colourful and full of texture. Definitely quite appealing to my personal taste. I particularly liked how it consistent with its energy and appeal. I also really enjoyed Rocket’s vocals and rapping. Like the instrumental, the energy from their vocals and rapping never really stopped. To me, the standout member of this song is Haechan. I felt like his vocals stood out amongst the members when they all contributed to the chorus. Overall, a quirky but enjoyable song. (9/10)

9. Countdown (3, 2, 1)Countdown (3, 2, 1) feels like it could easily have been title track material. It follows their hip-hop direction from their last few comebacks. It also feels like an NCT track, given the rollercoaster ride within the instrumental and vocals. There was pretty much bits and pieces of everything embedded in this song that surprising comes together quite well. For me, the rappers were emphasised and showcased really well in this song. Countdown was also quite addictive with its hooks. Put everything together, and you have a track that screams for promotions. (10/10)

10. ANLANL returns the song to that subdued side of group, with the electronic instrumental opting for softer and lighter appeal. It also has this bubbly type of instrumental, that feels both different and fitting for the group. The vocals and rapping were also quite pleasant, which worked hand-in-hand with the light-hearted nature of the instrumentation. I just wished ANL had more stronger hooks to be more memorable. Haechan’s high note, though, was. (8.5/10)

11. Irreplaceable (주인공) – As we approach the album, we get Irreplaceable. It too adds to the fun side of the album with a what feels like a street appropriate song. Listening to the song both brings a smile to my face and makes me want to do a bit of a boogie while walking down the street. What makes Irreplaceable standout is the brass and jazzy elements that give the song a different feel from what we heard before. The vocals and harmonisation were also strong additions to the song that helped bring it to life. (10/10)

12. Be There For You (지금처럼만) (Sung by Renjun, Haechan, Chenle) – Performed by the vocalists of the unit, Be There For You doesn’t surprise me that it is a ballad. It is a cliché move by all vocalists, but ballads gets the job done of showcasing their vocals. And Be There For You is no exception. It ticks all the boxes to what I look for in a ballad. Stunning vocals from the trio, really nice harmonisation and a simple yet warm instrumental. Even the melodies they paint with their vocals are beautiful. A definite nice ender to the album. (9/10)

13. Rainbow (책갈피) – The final song on the album is Rainbow. It is a really nice mid-tempo pop song that has this wholesome glow to it that makes you smile along with the group. I really liked the vocals and rapping in this song, especially when they sang together. It reiterated that wholesome feeling I just mentioned. While I did like everything about this song, I wished the instrumental wasn’t too loud during the chorus. I think it was slightly overwhelming in comparison to everything else. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

[Review] Hello Future – NCT DREAM

Also making their comeback on Monday is NCT Dream (apologies for the long delays in getting this review out). The NCT subunit unveiled their latest title track, Hello Future, and the group’s first ever repackaged album which shares the same name as title track. Hello Future follows the release of Hot Sauce (both title track and name of the group’s first ever mini-album). The full-length album featuring both Hello Future and Hot Sauce will be reviewed tomorrow as part of the Album Review focus this weekend. In preparation for that, I will need to write my full review for Hello Future, so here are my thoughts on their new song.

Hello Future finds that middle ground between their very youthful tracks that they began their careers with and their more mature sound that they have opted for in their more recent releases. How so? Well, the pop instrumentation that sits in the background gives off a refreshing and pleasant vibe that feels like a throwback to those early days. And it feels like a great Summer track, overall. Hello Future may not start off in this manner (thanks to that deep gurgling-like effect), but it does give off such impressions when we get to the chorus. It actually took me a few repeats to warm up to the opening verse because of that gurgling-like effect in the background, but getting through it to reach the chorus was definitely worthwhile (more on this in second). In addition to the youthful reminder via the instrumentals, the groups vocals in both rapping and singing brings forward that matureness. Compared to their early releases, NCT Dream’s voices (particular the rappers) have gotten pretty deep, which I assume is the reason why NCT Dream ended up going down the mature route of KPOP releases. For Hello Future, I liked how they capitalised on this unavoidable change. The singing vocals brought this insane level of smoothness to the song and kept the song grounded in a positive manner. The melodies we hear in the chorus are so captivating and stunning, and this is all thanks to the vocalists in NCT Dream. For the rappers of the group, their sequences provided some interesting contrast that made the song memorable and well-balanced. In particular, the sequences we get after the second chorus have the song some nice brief punches of intensity, which acted as a superb offset to the song’s pleasantness. But while Hello Future is an awesome song already, I do feel that the song had opportunities to be more dynamic, especially when it came to the ad-libs at the end of the song. It felt pretty safe and ‘in the box’. What they needed was to venture out of the confines of said box to ensure this song hit a home run. But as of now, it was still a very enjoyable song from the group.

To me, the group are portrayed as hippies in this music video. From their outfits, to the ‘natural’ accessories, to the peace signs we see on their posters and signs, everything felt very influenced by the hippies we associate from the 60s. Note that everything has been modernise to fit this era. I doubt hoodies and sweatpants were the 60s hippies go to attire. But I think this was a smart concept for the group to follow through with. The song’s message was ‘overcoming struggles to grow together with love and trust’ (taken from Soompi) which is a very hippie type of messaging. And they did so by crashing a very competitive Soccer game, bringing the two teams together to join them in their pursuit for love and trust.

I really enjoyed the choreography for this comeback. It might not be their best work out there, but I feel like it was a good fit for the song. I liked the incorporation of – what I like to call – the royal hello (cupped hand and a slight turn of the wrist). I also liked their ending sequence, which brought a rush of intensity to end of the song with. This is a nice example of contrast, as I note their choreography beforehand was quite slow and mellow looking. But this intense rush at the end reminded us that the performance was a NCT performance nonetheless.

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

[Review] Hot Sauce – NCT Dream

It is a new week and a new lineup of comebacks! First up this week is NCT Dream, who makes their grand return with their very first studio album since debut five years ago. The group has defintiely gone a long way away from their Chewing Gum days. Also based on a food item, this comeback’s title is Hot Sauce, which is the shared name of both the studio album and title track. Their first studio album also marks the return of Mark, who previously graduated from the group back in 2018 as he no longer fitted the age criteria for the group. But in 2020, it was confirmed after the unit’s last comeback (Ridin’ and Reload) that NCT Dream would abolish the graduation system and that the group’s lineup will become fixed with the re-addition of Mark. It also appears that NCT Dream’s comeback is hugely anticipated, with the group already selling more than 1.7 million preordered albums.

After all, we have been deprived of some form of NCT Dream for over a year. And with the re-addition of Mark, it will be interesting to see what direction NCT Dream would take. And based on what I am hearing, it seems like they went with a more trendy number as their main title track. The song taps into the hip-hop genre and it also features Latin influences. While this combines very typical music trends in the wide-ranging genre of KPOP nowadays, the resulting song is actually quite refreshing to me. What makes Hot Sauce really unique is that descending background vocals everytime the chorus comes into play. It adds a unique tinge of colour and texture to the song, but also keeps the instrumentation interesting. The energy that comes from Hot Sauce packs a punch and is quite intense. Just take the instrumental sequence in which they use for the dance break that they peak with as an example. This intensity also compliments NCT Dream’s more recently noticeable asset, their deep and raspy voices (hence my comment about their Chewing Gum days before). The member’s deep vocals have been around since Boom, but I felt Hot Sauce really utilises this asset very well and brings out the raspy side of Jeno and Jisung in their rap sequences. In addition to intensity from the hip-hop and dance side of the song, the Latin influences were also very memorable. I really liked the acoustic guitar that was prevalent during the verses and pre-chorus. It too kept the instrumental mix interesting and gives Hot Sauce some extra ‘spice’ without it just relying on EDM and synths. If I was to pick one thing that I wasn’t necessarily a fan of, that would be the shouty vocals in the chorus. It was a good way to captialise on the energy that was coming off the song, but it overwhelmed me unfortuately. But overall, Hot Sauce delivers a flavour-bomb. Just sometimes, there is that one distinct flavour coming from the mouthful that I am not entirely keen on. But maybe if I keep on tasting, I might grow to like it.

When I first watched the music video earlier today, I thought we were teetering on the edge of a Ko Ko Bop situation. But now that I have rewatched the music video, it appears to be more innocent than what I thought. Essentially, the lyrics say that the members’ charms are addictive as hot sauce. And the video shows the members becoming addicted to the hot sauce (i.e. Haechan and Jaemin’s eyes bulging after consuming some hot sauce, Chenle watching the hot sauce on his phone, the members helping out with the supply chain for the hot sauce, even being part of the commericals for the hot sauce). They even go out of their way to stop Mark from having some straight up, knowing how addictive it could be. In addition to the storyline, the music video also features cool effects that felt appropriate for the concept.

Based on what I can see in the music video, the choreography looks very intense and powerful, which is fitting for the song. I can’t wait to see the entire routine in full, especially when it comes to the dance break! I really like the ‘mixing bowl’ move for some reason. It looks cool, when it doesn’t really sound as cool.

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

[Special] 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Winners Announcement

Welcome to the announcement post of the winners for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. During the month of December in 2020, I opened up a survey for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Over 1800 of you voted during the month of December, a number that I did not expect to see! I am sure that you all are excited and are awaiting to see which artist has clinched victory in each category. I have definitely made you wait long enough 🙂

Like the previous years, I will announce the winners using GIFs and images. I have also announced the runners up for each category as Honourable Mentions below the GIFs. In addition to that, I have included the KPOPREVIEWED Choice, which is my personal pick for each category.

Unlike previous years, however, all of the winners of the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards (including the End of Year Charts and Best Song of 2020 Award) is included in this very one post! Towards the bottom of each post, you will see some page numbers. You can click on these page numbers to navigate to different award categories and the End of Year Charts. Here is a quick guide to the page numbers:

Page 1 – Artist Categories
Page 2 – Visual Categories, Performance Categories, Weekly KPOP Charts related Categories
Page 3 – Blog related Categories, Song Categories (excluding Best Song)
Page 4 – End of Year Charts & Best Song of 2020 Award

Artist Caregories

The following categories are all fan-voted categories for the artists that were active during the eligible period of December 2019 to November 2020.

Best New Male Group

Nominees:
BDC
CRAVITY
DRIPPIN’

Nominees:
MCND
TOO
TREASURE

Honourable Mention: TREASURE
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: TREASURE


Best New Female Group

Nominees:
aespa
BLACKSWAN
cignature

Nominees:
SECRET NUMBER
WEEEKLY
woo!ah!

Honourable Mention: WEEEKLY
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: WEEEKLY


Best New Male Soloist

Nominees:
Han Seung Woo (VICTON)
Kim Woo Seok (UP10TION)

Lee Eun Sang
Wonho
WOODZ

Honourable Mention: Wonho
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: WOODZ


Best New Female Soloist

Nominees:
Lee Suhyun (AKMU)
Moonbyul (Mamamoo)

Ryu Sujeong (Lovelyz)
Solar (Mamamoo)
YooA (Oh My Girl)

Honourable Mention: Lee Suhyun (AKMU)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: YooA (Oh My Girl)


Rising Star of 2020

Nominees:
EVERGLOW
Golden Child
ONEUS

Nominees:
ONF
The Boyz
VICTON

Honourable Mention: EVERGLOW
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: The Boyz


Most Underrated Group of 2020

Nominees:
A.C.E
APRIL
ASTRO

Nominees:
Dream Catcher
ONEUS
VERIVERY

Honourable Mention: Dream Catcher
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: ONEUS


Best Vocals

Nominees:
AKMU
DAY6
IU

Nominees:
Lee Hi
Ong Seong Woo
Taeyeon (SNSD)

Honourable Mention: Taeyeon (SNSD)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: DAY6


Best Rapper

Nominees:
Dami (Dream Catcher)
Han Ji Sung (Stray Kids)
Jessi

Nominees:
Jooheon (MONSTA X)
Moonbyul (Mamamoo)
Wooseok (Pentagon)

Honourable Mention: Han Jisung (Stray Kids)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: Jooheon (MONSTA X)


Best Band

Nominees: CN BLUE, DAY6, IZ, N.Flying, ONEWE

Nominees:
CN BLUE
DAY6

IZ
N.Flying
ONEWE

Honourable Mention: CN BLUE
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: DAY6


Best CO-ED Group

Nominees:
AKMU
CHECKMATE
K-TRIGERS ZERO
KARD

Honourable Mention: AKMU
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: KARD


Best Subunit

Nominees:
BTOB 4U
End of Day
Moonbin & Sanha

Nominees:
NCT 127
Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi
WJSN CHOCOME

Honourable Mention: NCT 127
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: NCT 127


Best Male Soloist

Nominees: Baekhyun (EXO), Chen (EXO), Kang Daniel, Ong Seong Woo, Taemin (SHINee), Zico

Nominees:
Baekhyun (EXO)
Chen (EXO)
Kang Daniel

Nominees:
Ong Seong Woo
Taemin (SHINee)
Zico

Honourable Mention: Taemin (SHINee)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: Kang Daniel


Best Female Soloist

Nominees:
Chungha
Hwasa (Mamamoo)
IU

Nominees:
Jeon Somi
Sunmi
Taeyeon (SNSD)

Honourable Mention: Hwasa (Mamamoo)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: Chungha


Best Male Group

Nominees:
A.C.E
AB6IX
ASTRO
ATEEZ
BTS
Golden Child

GOT7
MONSTA X
NCT
NU’EST
ONEUS
ONF
Pentagon

SEVENTEEN
SF9
Stray Kids
The Boyz
TXT
VERIVERY
VICTON

Honourable Mention: BTS, Stray Kids
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: NCT, SEVENTEEN, Stray Kids


Best Female Group

Nominees:
APRIL
BLACKPINK
BVNDIT
Cherry Bullet
CLC
Dream Catcher

EVERGLOW
fromis_9
(G)I-DLE
GFriend
ITZY
IZ*ONE
LOONA

Lovelyz
Mamamoo
Oh My Girl
Red Velvet
TWICE
Weki Meki
WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

Honourable Mention: BLACKPINK, EVERGLOW
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: ITZY, LOONA, Oh My Girl


Select the page numbers below (just above the comments section) to go to the award categories you want to see the most!
Page 1 – Artist Categories
Page 2 – Visual Categories, Performance Categories, Weekly KPOP Charts related Categories
Page 3 – Blog related Categories, Song Categories (excluding Best Song)
Page 4 – End of Year Charts & Best Song of 2020 Award

[Album Review] NCT 2020: Resonance Part 1 (2nd Studio Album) – NCT

NCT completes 2020 with the return to full group promotions under the collective name of NCT. This means that NCT 127, NCT Dream and WayV, along with new members Shotaro and Sungchan have come together to promote under name of NCT and NCT U for their two part album. Today, I will be focusing on the first half of their second studio album, titled NCT 2020: Resonance. It features Make A Wish (Birthday Song) and From Home as the title tracks, alongside a bunch of new songs from various NCT U lineups (all of which we haven’t seen before) and the three units of NCT that I already mentioned above. It is a long album review, so let’s get moving along.

NCT 2020: Resonance Part 1 Album Cover

NCT 2020: Resonance Part 1 also features ‘Interlude: Past to Present‘ as the sixth track. But per usual protocol for album reviews on the segment, this track was not reviewed due to lack to lyrics. There are also a Korean version of From Home and an English version of Make A Wish (Birthday Song), which were not reviewed as I had already reviewed the original versions (links below).

1. Make A Wish (Birthday Song) (Title Track)Make A Wish (Birthday Song) was performed by Taeyong, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Lucas, Xiaojun, Jaemin and Shotaro. Click here to read the full review of Make A Wish (Birthday Song). (7/10)

2. MisfitMisfit delves into the world of rapping, with Johnny, Taeyong, Mark, Hendery, Jeno, Yangyang and Sungchan all bringing their A-game for this track. The song is an excellent hype track, with rapping taking you back to earlier eras of rap music. The energy is quite full-on, but I won’t describe it as intense. Rather, it is fun and definitely a highlight to listen to. Mark’s leads us into the song with a sequence that confirms his talent and skillset. And each other member follows suit to show us what their skillset is capable of. I really like the more concentrated instrumental when it comes to the chorus, amplifying and intensifying Misfit’s energy, pulling you into the hype song even more. (10/10)

3. VolcanoVolcano features Taeyong, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Winwin, Jungwoo, Lucas and Mark. It takes on a hip-hop influence that also brings me back to earlier eras of the music, just a little more recent than Misfit’s throwback. I like how the energy in Volcano is more subtle than compared to the preceding track. I am digging the sleek nature of the chorus, especially with layering of raps and the simply spoken ‘Bounce’ over it. It isn’t much of a standout track, compared to the two tracks before it. The inclusion of the vocals was nice, but I felt it made the song confusing. Overall, this is what I would call a ‘pleasant’ listen. I would listen to it if it was on my playlist. But I wouldn’t go through the effort to seek it out. (8/10)

4. Light Bulb (백열등)Light Bulb is performed by four out of 23 of the members (Taeyong, Kun, Doyoung and Sungchan) and it is one of my favourite tracks on the album. The song features a really soothing instrumental and a slower tempo, which is thanks to the piano that we hear. There is also percussion to give Light Bulb a bit of a kick and enable the song to feature rapping. The combination of both gives Light Bulb an R&B profile. Taeyong and Sungchan’s rapping is superb and very mature sounding. It also follows the same pattern as the preceding side tracks, giving off a nostalgic vibe. Doyoung and Kun’s vocals were breathy and very gripping. No one felt out of place and no element felt like they outdid another. Light Bulb was a very balanced track that deserves praise and attention. (10/10)

5. Dancing In The Rain Dancing In The Rain introduces Taeil, Yuta, Jungwoo, Xiaojun and Chenle to the album, performing alongside Johnny, Jaehyun and Kun. I really like the melodies of this jazzy R&B mashup song, especially when it comes to the catchy ‘Drip Drop’ line. I really like the opening and closing piano sequences, bringing that jazz influence to life. I also think it is these jazzy influences that allows the rapping sequences to slide into the song effortlessly. The vocals showcase really nice harmonies amongst the vocalists in this NCT U lineup and also bringing some of that R&B touch to the surface. A stunning song. (9.5/10)

7. Déjà vu (무대) (NCT Dream)Déjà vu is the first song to be released by NCT Dream since the confirmation that NCT Dream’s lineup will become permanent and that Mark will officially return to the unit. I wondered what NCT Dream’s direction would be, given that they are no longer young as when they first debuted and that their sound has matured exponentially since Mark’s graduation. Déjà vu hints that mature NCT Dream will remain. That being said, it isn’t as captivating as past NCT Dream’s promotional track and this feels best as a side track. (7/10)

8. Nectar (月之迷) (WayV) – WayV’s discography has been quite mature from the get-go. So Nectar fits in perfectly. It feels and sounds very sensual. I really liked the subtle energy that the song contains. I also really like the main hook of the song, as it was quite simple yet very addictive. That high note was impressive. But what I find the most exciting about Nectar is that the song is in Chinese, which is the start of the multilingual approach on this album (the second title track, From Home, also features Chinese and Japanese lyrics). (8/10)

9. Music, Dance (NCT 127) – To me, NCT 127’s addition to Part 1 of NCT 2020: Resonance was the weakest of all. Music, Dance’s best moment was when the instrumental had an upbeat persona. It felt satisfying and does feel like a great track to dance to. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the rest of the song. I thought the verses were really weird with its choppy intro approach and those vocals sequence (while were very good) diverted the song away from what should have been a wholesome dance track that should have been satisfying across the board. (6/10)

10. Faded In My Last Song (피아노) – We return to another NCT U track, performed by Taeil, Johnny, Yuta, Ten, Lucas, Renjun, Haechan and Jisung. It is a R&B track that features awesome melodies over a stunning piano/trap beat instrumental background. I really like how the vocal and rapping were extremely cohesive in this song. The way the song’s title, ‘Faded In My Last Song’, was sung in the song really stuck with me and has become my most favourite line/part to listen and look forward to. (10/10)

11. From Home (Title Track)From Home was performed by Taeil, Yuta, Kun, Doyoung, Renjun, Haechan and Chenle. Click here to read the full review of From Home. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

[Album Review] Reload (4th Mini Album) – NCT Dream

It has been a few weeks since I have posted any reviews (let alone album reviews) on a Friday. I have just been so busy during the week that by Friday, I would fall asleep very early. But hopefully I can manage my sleep pattern a little better to publish reviews as per the usual schedule. As you can tell, I have missed many handfuls of songs over the last few weeks. But I will get onto them eventually. In the meantime, I will be reviewing NCT Dream’s fourth mini-album, Reload. It features the title track, Ridin’. The album has proven to be very successful, selling over 250,000 copies within a two day period.

Reload Album Cover

1. Ridin’ (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Ridin’. (8/10)

2. Quiet DownQuiet Down just doesn’t live up to its name in a literal sense. It is still relatively loud than compared to something that one would described as ‘Quiet’. But it does feel toned back a tad bit, in comparison to the title track. Despite that, I really like how edgy the song managed to maintain, which matches this new image that the group has been going for with their last release (Boom) and Ridin’. Elements of the song remind me of the Western pop in the ‘00s. The relatively rapid and dense bouncy synth in the background of the verses sounds vaguely familiar, while the chorus seemed to bring a R&B melody to the song, which I thought was awesome. I wasn’t as impressed with the vocals and rapping in this song, which felt pretty ordinary overall. (7/10)

3. 7 Days (내게 말해줘) 7 Days takes a softer pop/R&B approach. Unlike in the previous song, I thought 7 Days had a good display of vocals and rapping. The melodies which the song thrive on really highlight the vocals/rapping skills of the manner. They also helped provide the song a memorable rhythm. The rappers of the group, Jeno and Jaemin, were singing in this song in a rap-sing manner that I really want to hear more of in the future. Not only were their singing great, but the rap sequences they had at the end of the song felt perfect and fitting for the song. The vocalists of the group (the rest of the group) sounded very smooth. Sure, the instrumentals were rather typical and could have used some character. But 7 Days was very pleasant to listen to. (8/10)

4. Love Again (사랑은 또다시) Love Again seems to be a soft 90s hip-hop track. That is the best way I would describe the song. The chorus really takes you back to that era and I am extremely into it. The vocal and rapping from all members in Love Again on was point. There were very different textures but all worked very cohesively with one another. Haechan even raps in this song! Some of their delivery was rough, while other times its was very smooth. I also really liked how relatively soft yet upbeat the instrumentals were. They felt just right for this style and worked extremely with the member’s vocals/rapping. (9/10)

5. Puzzle Piece (너의 자리)Puzzle Piece is a ballad with only one instrument in the background, an acoustic guitar. It is such a nice tune to end the album with. And the sweetness that I could feel just made it even better. I just liked how easy it was to slip into this song. Once again, their vocal work was amazing. As it was just the acoustic guitar, what we heard felt from the members very pure and ‘unhidden’. There were no synths to cover up any of the vocals, while there wasn’t anything to really fall back on. Furthermore, the harmonisation with the background vocals and one another was really powerful. I liked how the acoustic guitar built up the song and gained momentum. It made the song even better and feel well rounded. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

Reload Teaser Image

[Review] Ridin’ – NCT Dream

The returning group of the day is NCT Dream, who returns with the highly anticipated, Ridin’. Technically, this is the comeback where the members would ‘graduate’ from the group, as they have reached the adult age in South Korea. However, it was announced two weeks ago that NCT Dream, after promotions for Ridin’, would abolish the graduation system and become a fixed lineup group. In more exciting news, Mark (who graduated from the group at the end of 2018) would return to be part of the lineup, where small units of the members (if not all the members) would promote under the name of NCT Dream. Definitely exciting news to all NCTzens who support the ‘young’ subunit. But we will have to get through the Ridin’ promotions before we get to that stage, so let’s have a dive into the new song.

Ever since the release of Boom last year, it was obvious that the group would never set foot into their more youthful title tracks. And that game changer song really set them up for future releases, as evident by the quality and style of Ridin’. The intensity that you can feel from the song really rivals the intensity that we got from Boom. The instrumental is described to be an urban trap song. I like how the song plays with the heavy bass synths, mimicking the sound when a motorcycle revs. Given their teasers and music video, I thought this was rather ingenious. Apart from this revving-like synth, I was surprised that the instrumental had a subtle smoothness to it. The vocal work was also surprisingly very smooth. Glad the deep revving-like synth and the rapping gave that rough touch to an extent. But all the members sound very on point. The song had a very catchy melody and ‘Ridin’ and Rollin’‘ hook as well. That kick at the end that Jeno and Jaemin brings in bridge definitely gives the song that impact and climax that boldens the song’s already strong appeal. I do wish they would have gone with something a little bolder so it could have a chance to rival Boom, which I think is still the superior song after writing this review.

To think that this is the group that kicked off their careers with Chewing Gum. They have definitely grown up. The music video seems to throwback to their Go days, where the subunit took on a rebellious phase as part of their growth. When you look at their releases throughout the years, it felt like they moved too soon into that concept at the time, especially since they followed up with We Go Up and Candlelight. The release of Boom really consolidated that image of the group maturing. And hence, the progression into this Ridin’ concept felt natural and the right step forward. Needless to say, the group looks really cool. I thought the set was rather nice, looking like a legit alleyway that leads to a hidden underground garage and mechanic (but obviously a lot cooler than that description!), like in those movies with illegal car racing events. A great music video, in my opinion.

The choreography for this comeback equally looks as cool as the music video. There seems to be some movies where the members mimic the action of revving a motorcycle and show off some other edgy movies. My favourite has to be the smooth move they pull off in the second half of the chorus, contrasting with the intensity and supposed roughness of the song.

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

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Artist-Based Categories

It is that time of the year again where I announce the winners for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. In December 2019, I allowed the audience (you all), once again, to vote for their favourite songs and artists for the December 2018 to November 2019 period. Thank you to all who voted and particpated in the KPOPREVIEWED Awards this time around. Even more people voted this year, making this year more intense than ever in many categories. This post will focus on the artist-based categories, which will involve the New Artist categories, Elemental-focused (i.e. rap, vocals etc.) categories and Best Artist categories. The winners for the artist categories will be posted in an accompanying post today, while the Top 100 songs of 2019 will be posted tomorrow.

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


Best New Male Soloist

Nominees: Baekhyun (EXO), Chen (EXO), Ha Sung Woon, HUTA (Lee Min Hyuk – BTOB), Kang Daniel, Kim Jae Hwan.

WINNER – Baekhyun (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Kang Daniel
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – HUTA (Lee Minhyuk – BTOB)


Best New Female Soloist

Nominees: Hwasa (Mamamoo), Jeon Somi, Kim Ji Yeon (Kei – Lovelyz), Oh Ha Young (APINK), Sulli

WINNER – Hwasa (Mamamoo)
Honourable Mention – Sulli
KPOPREVIEWED – Hwasa (Mamamoo)


Best New Male Group

Nominees: AB6IX, CIX, ONEUS, TXT, X1

WINNER – TXT
Honourable Mentions – ONEUS
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – AB6IX


Best New Female Group

Nominees: BVNDIT, Cherry Bullet, EVERGLOW, ITZY, PURPLEBECK

WINNER – ITZY
Honourable Mention – EVERGLOW
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – EVERGLOW


Best Band

Nominees: DAY6, FT Island, IZ, N.Flying, ONEWE

WINNER – DAY6
Honourable Mention – N.Flying
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – DAY6


Best Vocals

Nominees: AKMU, Brown Eyed Girls, Chen (EXO), IU, Mamamoo

WINNER – IU
Honourable Mention – Chen (EXO)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – IU


Best Raps

Nominees: J-Hope (BTS); Jackson (GOT7); Mark (NCT); Ravi (VIXX); Zico

WINNER – Mark (NCT)
Honourable Mention – Zico
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Zico


Best Subunit

Nominees: Block B Bastarz; EXO-SC, Jus2, NCT 127, NCT Dream

WINNER – NCT Dream
Honourable Mention – NCT 127
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – NCT Dream


Artist With Most Weekly KPOP Chart Wins

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Seventeen (5x)


Rising Star

Nominees: ATEEZ, CLC, N.Flying, UP10TION, VICTON

WINNER – ATEEZ
Honourable Mention – CLC
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – CLC


Most Underrated Artist of 2019

Nominees: A.C.E, Dream Catcher, LOONA, ONF, Pentagon

WINNER – Dream Catcher
Honourable Mention – Pentagon
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – LOONA


Best Male Soloist

Nominees: Kim Dong Han, Leo (VIXX), Nam Woohyun (Infinite), Taemin (SHINee), Yesung (Super Junior), Zico

WINNER – Taemin (SHINee)
Honourable Mention – Zico
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Nam Woohyun


Best Female Soloist

Nominees: Ailee, Kim Chungha, IU, Park Bom, Sumni, Taeyeon (SNSD)

WINNER – IU
Honourable Mention – Kim Chungha
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Kim Chungha


Best Male Group

Nominees: ASTRO, ATEEZ, BTS, DAY6, EXO, GOT7, iKON, MONSTA X, NCT, NU’EST, Pentagon, Seventeen, SF9, Stray Kids, The Boyz, WINNER

WINNER – EXO
Honourable Mention – BTS, ATEEZ
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Stray Kids


Best Female Group

Nominees: (G)I-DLE, BLACKPINK, CLC, Dream Catcher, EXID, GFriend, IZ*ONE, LOONA, Lovelyz, Mamamoo, Momoland, Oh My Girl, Red Velvet, TWICE, Weki Meki, WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

WINNER – TWICE
Honourable Mention – Red Velvet, Mamamoo
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Oh My Girl


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

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

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

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

SBS Gayo Daejun – 25th of December 2019

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

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

KBS Gayo Daechukje – 27th December 2019

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

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

MBC Gayo Daejejeon – 31st December 2019

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

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

[Review] Boom – NCT Dream

After Mark left the group as he was ‘of age’ at the end of 2018, NCT Dream disappeared from the radar. SM Entertainment primarily focused on NCT 127 for the first half of 2019, which was disappointing for fans of the younger subunit.  But that was changed last month when NCT Dream (excluding Haechan) collaborated with HRVY for the SM Station release, Don’t Need Your Love (which I have continued to enjoy since reviewing it). And today, the young subunit (including Haechan) made their official comeback with Boom, their first since We Go Up and Candlelight (Both releases still featured Mark as a member).

The teasers for Boom were very suspenseful, which lead me to have high expectations for this track. And boy, does NCT Dream fulfil these expectations. The last time we got an edgy sound from NCT Dream to this extent was through their Go promotions. But I wasn’t much of a fan of that song. Boom, on the other hand, sounds more refined and stylish. The vocals and rapping give me flashback to their We Go Up hip-hop style, which I thought was very nice. I thought the chorus was very cool with the ‘Boom Boom Boom‘ repetition. I just wanted more too the song in terms of instrumentation. Here, everything was very subtle in nature. With a title Boom, you would expect that things would become explosive. But everything felt like it was toned down. A better way of describing it was that the song was kept in ‘low bass’ gear. But other than that, Boom was a pretty cool track and sone I can absolutely see dominate my phone while I am out and about.

The music video went straight for that edgy vibe, shifting away from that carefree vibe we got from We Go Up or anything youthful the subunit used to release. Visually, I thought the video was quite good. The members looked nice. The sets really felt appropriate, even though they don’t necessarily go with one another. It seems like the majority of the music video was shot with Haechan still busy with his NCT 127 promotions overseas, which was fair. He did join in towards the end of the music video, which is a good thing (rather than omitting him entirely). But why didn’t SM Entertainment wait that extra week or until schedules clear up to allow Haechan to film alongside the rest of the group. I thought his absence was meant to be part of the plotline but rewatching the video, it didn’t really seem so. They just added him randomly to the group/choreography shots at the end.

The choreography here is awesome. The chorus, in particular, looked very cool, matching the sleek and stylish atmosphere present in the song. I did think the choreography was slow at first. But I think after watching the performance a few times, the slowness felt intentional. But I really liked how they kicked the intensity up a notch for the end, bring the performance to an explosive energised end.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[Review] Don’t Need Your Love – NCT Dream X HRVY

Note that I have put Yesung’s Pink Magic review on hold until later this week, with hopes that there will be a live stage. 

Noticeably absent from the NCT universe thus far this year is the presence of NCT Dream. At the end of last year, Mark graduated from NCT Dream due to his age and since then, we haven’t heard much from the subunit. That was up until the 6th of June 2019 when NCT Dream (with the exception of Haechan as well) released their collaboration single with HRVY (an English artist born in 1999 and has released many singles since his debut back in 2013), titled Don’t Need Your Love. The single was released as part of the SM Station 3 series.

To me, the track is typical of what you would hear on the Western music scene or the radio. Nothing fancy when it comes to the collaboration. But there might be some good coming from this track that I would like to touch on. The vocals from both artists were probably the best part. One thing that I always reiterated, however, is that simplicity can be good. In no way do I find this a perfect song, as the word ‘bland’ might be an excellent description of the song. But its simple beat and typicalness come off very pleasant and soothing, which might sound odd to you (and hypocritical of me, based on what I have said thus far). Another thing I find that satisfies me is its timing. A lot of the music I listen to happens to be KPOP (or indie music if we are talking about my Western tastes). So to hear something like this amongst my current playlist is actually refreshing. But as confusing as it sounds, I can guarantee, one too many listen of this song can result in it being skipped for another.

The music video features the NCT Dream members and HRVY as well. And it too didn’t feel remotely connected to KPOP, which I find to be surprising. I don’t know what really sets a KPOP video apart from Western video. But I assume colours, boxed sets and flashy cinematography during choreography scenes to be key characteristics. The cinematography, in this case, was crisper and more defined than any video I have reviewed over the past few years.

With all SM Station releases (with the exception of 1), there has not been a live performance for any of the releases. So anything regarding the choreography is solely based on the music video. Based on my simple YouTube search, it seems HRVY has also dabbled in choreography before. So it isn’t surprising to see him do quite well in this performance. But ti seemed to be a simple routine, for a simple song and release.

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

[Review] Candle Light – NCT Dream

Voting closes in 3 DAYS. If you have yet to vote for NCT Dream or any of our other favourite artists for this year’s KPORPEVIEWED Awards, click here to do so NOW before you miss out!

We all thought wrong when we all thought that We Go Up was the final release before Mark’s graduation from NCT Dream. Yesterday, NCT Dream released an SM Station single titled Candle Light. But since Mark’s graduation has been confirmed the for the 31st of December, Mark is still present in the unit group for the new song release. The video does still allude to the impending event but that is something to talk about later on in the review.

Candle Light is best described as a mid-tempo ballad that conveys the message of wishing to be with someone. The song has this bright yet warming atmosphere to it, which can be attributed to the instrumental of the song. And hence, the message felt well suited for the style the song went with. The song is also a departure from their usual releases, which is more vocally centred this time around. This highlights the vocals of all the members, which isn’t something that we have experienced before. There was some rapping, which I thought was extremely fitting for the song.  It is a solid song but it lacks memorability, in my opinion. If they nailed that, it would have been a perfect song. But Candle Light is still pleasant sounding and definitely a nice way to end the year of KPOP.

The music video was very well done. The members are directing a music video in this music video. We see then struggle with a whole bunch of bloopers and technical issues. In the end, we are shown the ‘final product’, which featured all the members excluding Mark, alluding to his upcoming graduation in the coming days. The way he presents his rap, with all the members sitting in front of him (and one seat vacant) really hits home that this is happening. The video also seemed to be incorporate elements from NCT Dream’s previous releases including chewing gum (from Chewing Gum), mini cars (from My First & Last) and the word ‘Go’ (from Go). Definitely, a nice way to signal the end of a chapter for the unit.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[Album Review] We Go Up (2nd Mini Album) – NCT Dream

Despite already releasing a full-length album along with the other 2 NCT subunits, NCT Dream returned 2 weeks back with their second mini-album to date, We Go Up. I touch upon this during my song and album review of We Go Up but this is Mark’s last release with the group as he prepares for graduation from NCT Dream. But do not worry, as he (along with Haechan) will be returning next month as part of NCT 127 for their official first full-length album, so keep your eyes open for that album review. But we are here for NCT Dream, so let’s get moving along!

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We Go Up Album Cover

1..We Go Up (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of We Go Up. (9/10)

2. 1,2,3 – Changing up their style, the group’s second song on the album consist of a softer tone but remaining within that pop tune sound. And its lightness is well appreciated as I think (apart from the title song) 1,2,3 is my favourite track on the album. Vocals were nice and pleasant, while the rapping during the bridge gave the song what it needed (i.e. intensity which pairs well with the soft sound). My favourite part would have to the chorus, especially the ‘1,2,3’ lines as they felt well balanced and nostalgic. (9/10)

3. Beautiful Time (너와 나)Beautiful Time describes the nice memories of a relationship, reminiscent of the good old days. The tone of the song seems to go towards that direction, but I thought it was relatively interesting how the instrumental during the chorus felt like it encroaching the upbeat side of music. In a way, it presents a cheerful tone to the song, which sets the song’s tone. I am, however, not much of a fan of their vocals and rapping in this song. It was good, but I just didn’t feel connected with them despite many listens. (7/10)

4. Drippin’Dripppin’ is a very intriguing song for its unique sound. It contains trap elements within its instrumentation, but it doesn’t go completely in that direction. I personally think the vocals bring a slight hip-hop influence to the song and they nailed the vocal components in my opinion. The little falsetto ending to the lines during the verses added a little kink and uniqueness to the song, which I thought gave it some character. The rapping during the verses was also quite good though they could have been more intensified to make the song even better. (8/10)

5. Dear DREAM – Ending the album is a bitter-sweet song. To put it into some context – Mark, who is the oldest member and 20 y/o, is graduating from NCT Dream as it is intended to be a group for members who are in their teens. If you look at the entire song, it is basically send off for Mark. I personally didn’t notice this section of the song until I read about it in the comments, but Mark’s final rap line was “Hope we always feel like-” and the rest of the members vocalise ‘home’ in the background. I thought was well played and showed the meaning behind the song in basically one line. The sweet side of the song is amazing vocals and rapping that filled the song. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

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We Go Up Teaser Image

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[Review] We Go Up – NCT Dream

NCT Dream is known for their youthful image and sound. And they will continually do just that. But as members get older, they don’t necessarily fit the image anymore. Thus, NCT Dream is a rotational unit made up of teenagers and members will graduate from the group as they are of age. Basically, SM Entertainment confirmed that Mark will be leaving the lineup. Thus, this makes We Go Up Mark’s last comeback as part of the NCT Dream. So let’s have one close look at Mark’s final song with the group.

We Go Up takes that hip-hop style that was present during their Go promotions earlier in the year, combining it with that youthful sound that they are known for. The resulting combination actually comes together quite nicely. The instrumentation felt very trendy and very energetic. There were cowbells and when that is used well (like in this song), it adds another layer of appeal.  The chorus was definitely catchy and had this suspenseful feel to it, which I quite liked.  The rap verses reminded me of the 90s, while the vocals were quite nice. Though, I felt like the vocals could have had some more colour to it, like how the raps stood out. Overall, the song was definitely an improvement from their Go days but still retaining that sound.

Knowing how this is Mark’s final promotion round with Dream, I noticed a lot of the video felt like a send-off for Mark. While all the members were sleeping, Mark was the one walking around the room (There was a scene where Chenle was walking around but he notices the hourglass is almost up, so he realizes that Mark is about to leave). Within his sleep, he reminisces about the fun events they had together. Overall, I thought it was a nice video, and if my perspective is right, quite touching as well.

You might have waited for this review to be published last night (and I apologise if you did). However, I actually decided to wait a day for the start of their live promotions. I thought their choreography was quite powerful and fitting for the hip-hop style they went for in the song.

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

[Album Review] NCT 2018 Empathy (1st Studio Album) – NCT

The 18 members have come together to release their very first full-length album. While the does feature the 4 pre-releases released this year from each subunit, the majority of the songs are credited as NCT U tracks (due to its rotational nature). On top of the 4 subunit releases, the album features tracks from a few years back (some which you may recognise as you go down the tracklist). The album also contains 4 other tracks (an intro, outro and the Chinese version of the Without You and an extended version of Yestoday) but per usual, they have been omitted. Many songs (and links) to get through, so here is my album review.

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NCT 2018 Empathy Album Cover

2. Boss (NCT U)Click here to read the full review of Boss. (9.3/10)

3. Baby Don’t Stop (NCT U)Click here to read the full review of Baby Don’t Stop. (9.5/10)

4. Go (NCT Dream)Click here to read the full review of Go. (6.8/10)

5. Touch (NCT 127)Click here to read the full review of Touch. (9/10)

6. Yestoday (NCT U) – This NCT U track features Taeyong, Lucas, Mark and Doyoung. This particular track isn’t that bad, much smoother than what is about to come. The song feels like it could have been enhanced with a visually aesthetic video. The song alone doesn’t carry much weight but it has a nice melodic feel to it that makes it sound nice (especially with all the high energy and EDM we have heard thus far). I also appreciate the jazzy instrumental, for the same reasons above.  Doyoung gets to showcase his nice vocals, while the other 3 do a nice job with the raps. (8/10)

7. Black On Black – This is the first song that features all 18 members of NCT in the performance. The song actually only features 3 members (Taeyong, Mark and Lucas). Black On Black, to me, is NCT’s version of EXO’s Growl. Mainly due to the growling that features throughout the song. I am not too conflicted with the track, despite it changing its sound so many times. While ‘flow’ isn’t a word that applies to this song in any way, the choppy feel that the song did manage to give out gives the song a charming point. It is also its downfall, however, as it would give me a headache if I listened to it multiple times on repeat. Glad I haven’t (yet).  (7/10)

8. Timeless (NCT U) Click here to read the full review of Timeless. (9.6/10)

9. The 7th Sense (NCT U)Click here to read the full review of The 7th Sense. (5/10 – I have bumped this up from the original score of 4.5/10)

10. Without You (NCT U)Click here to read the full review of Without You. (8.5/10 – I have bumped this up from the original score of 7.5/10)

12. Dream In A Dream (Ten Solo)Click here to read the full review of Dream In A Dream. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8/10

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NCT 2018 Empathy Teaser Image

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[Review] Go – NCT Dream

NCT Dream is the next NCT subunit to be releasing a new track (Go) ahead of NCT’s confirmed 2018 full-length album, which will be released later this month. Go joins the recent releases, Boss and Baby Don’t Stop, which are all pre-release singles for the album. This is also NCT Dream’s first comeback since last year, with their most recent song being Joy (an SM Station release).

Go is a complete turn around in NCT Dream’s typical sound, who usually releases more youthful sounds and songs. The song is more intense and definitely a lot more serious (if I were to describe their song). That can be attributed to the hip-hop sound that seems to be infused with the EDM. There is a lot of buffering effects and synths in the instrumental, which gives it that roughness that allows for a complete change in concept. The chorus of the song wasn’t that apparent to me the first time listening to the song but it was when all the members were chanting the ‘We So Young, We So Freaky‘.  I do find it slow and a little too dragged out for my liking. The singing was pretty good, with Haechan’s high note really well done. The raps (which is this song is loaded with) is pretty good as well. Personally, I feel like the song could have worked as a side track for NCT 127. The only reason why I think this wasn’t the case was due to the lyrics, which suited Dream more. It is still a good track, either way.

As mentioned previously, the song’s sound and elements allowed for a change in concept. Earlier this morning, while I flipped through the YouTube comments for the video, someone described it as the rebellious phase of the groups. Props to that person though because they described the video very well. Some parts of the video looked cool, almost like a home video style of their adventures. I also liked the choreography shots throughout the video. However, for the most part, the video was rather dry and didn’t really feel that interesting to watch. There were some likeable aspects but not all were strong.

[Updated] As mentioned previously, this particular performance didn’t seem up to par with their past performances or anything we did see in the last week. Everything was extremely fitting for the music style but as cheesy as it was, their youthful elements in their past performances were their main charm.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 6/10 [updated]
Overall Rating – 6.8/10 [updated]