[Review] Candy – NCT DREAM

NCT DREAM is nominated for Best Sub-Unit and Best Male Group in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Glitch Mode is nominated for Best Concept and Best Music Video, while Beatbox is nominated for Best Pop Song, Best Male Group (Choreography). Definitely an all-rounder group. Supper NCT DREAM, their songs, and all your other favourite artists, songs and performances by clicking here to vote today.

NCT DREAM officially makes their comeback today with a special Winter mini-album, titled Candy. The same-titled single (the focus of this review) leads the mini-album. The single is also a remake of H.O.T’s Candy, which was released way back in 1996. This is the group’s first comeback since their Glitch Mode and Beatbox comebacks from earlier in the year.

Given that Candy (NCT DREAM’s version) is a re-recording of the original (cue the comparison), the newer version is fairly same as the older version. The melodies haven’t changed and NCT Dream retains the upbeatness of the original song. However, there are some distinct differences with the newer version that I actually liked more so than in the original. The main difference I could hear instantly is how much more modern the instrumental is. While it is similar enough for listeners to gain a bit of familiarity and nostalgia from NCT DREAM’s version, I enjoyed the extra intensity that the producers had put into NCT DREAM’s version. This definitely helps modernise the 1996 hit to current times and gives Candy a lot more oomph, which in turn makes way for some awesome execution from NCT DREAM. Talking about execution, I also find NCT DREAM’s vocals and raps to be a lot more polished than the original. I guess we can attribute that to advances in technology since 1996 – a lot has happened since then. The second verse gets an extra (super intense) rap sequence and I liked that NCT DREAM did not opt for as much overlap between vocals and raps as H.O.T had incorporated. They do bring that overlap into play later on in the song, but it is a lot cleaner and more refined than the original. Maybe it is a generational thing as I didn’t grow up during that era (I was born a few months after the song’s original release) and I am used to the modern style of KPOP, but I definitely prefer NCT DREAM’s version of Candy by a long mile.

When you think of H.O.T’s Candy, the group’s terrible outfits come to mind. Or at least, I thought they were terrible. It is the main thing that I still cannot wrap my head around until this day – how the colourful overalls and massive oven mitts got approved. I guess it was to fit the more vibrant and upbeat style of Candy, but boy do they look awful. I am glad that NCT DREAM’s stylist did not opt for the same style choices. However, H.O.T’s outfits were iconic in the end, and so NCT DREAM’s outfits were influenced by the look from 1996. Jeno’s massive trapper hat looks like it could have been lifted from that era. But as it is just an influence and their outfits do look fairly tame, I am fine with that. Other than that relief, the music video’s candy manufacturing set reminded me of Glitch Mode‘s technology set. And per usual, I really liked the colours. Some parts however were cringy to me.

At the time of writing, there was no official stage for NCT DREAM’s version of Candy. They are however confirmed to perform the single at the 2022 KBS Music Festival, which is being held today. But from what I can see, the choreography retains some of the key moves from the original version, but also intensifies the moves to match the intensified music we get in the newer version.

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

[Album Review] Glitch Mode / Beatbox (2nd Studio Album / 2nd Studio Album Repackaged) – NCT DREAM

Next album on the reviewing block is NCT DREAM’s 2nd studio album, Glitch Mode, and its repackaged version, Beatbox. It has been a while since these albums dropped, with Glitch Mode dropping back in March and Beatbox dropping in May of this year. And I am finally getting around to reviewing them! A total of 15 tracks are present on these albums, including the title tracks Glitch Mode and Beatbox. This makes this album review a lengthy one, so I am going to get straight into it!

Once again, NCT DREAM delivers on quality and quantity. While it was a doozy to write up this album review, I really enjoyed the final product. I even handed out quite a few 10/10’s whilst writing this review. However, I expected this happen as NCT DREAM always has amazing side tracks that needs more attention directed at them. Let me know if you agree with my ratings of each song below in the comments section after reading through my thoughts, of course.

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

2. Fire Alarm (파이어 알람) – Right off the bat, the initial track of the Glitch Mode album grabs your attention. To me, it doesn’t really grab your attention in the same way that a fire alarm alerts you to a fire. But rather, it is fire! Each time I end up listening to the album, I can’t help but groove along to this track. The synth-centric instrumentation was memorable and exciting. The fast tempo of Fire Alarm adds to the excitement and hype energy of the song. It feels relentless without going overboard or overwhelming with synths. The chanty nature of Fire Alarm adds to the memorability if the song, while the rapping was dynamic and the adlibs were effortless. (10/10)

3. Glitch Mode (버퍼링)Click here to read the full review for Glitch Mode. (6.5/10)

4. ArcadeArcade is an extremely satisfying mix of EDM and hip-hop influences. That alone makes Arcade a standout track, as everything felt cohesive and the styles naturally go hand-in-hand with each other. But the winning element in Arcade are the members. From the vocal side (my favourite side of this song), it was so flowy and smooth. It left me floored and I always want to delve back into the song due to the vocals. As for the rapping and the chanty sections, they give Arcade so much oomph and heftiness, balancing out the smoothness from the vocals. Another standout track, in my opinion. (10/10)

5. To My First (마지막 인사)To My First is one of the new tracks on the Beatbox repackaged version. Its position following Arcade was perfect, as it continues those smooth vocals from the previous track. But instead of a EDM and hip-hop hybrid, To My First takes on a R&B sound profile instead. To My First has such amazing harmonies on top of the stunningly smooth vocals and you can feel the emotions that the group pours into this song about their first loves. (9/10)

6. It’s Yours (너를 위한 단어) – Despite being a light track, I really liked the thumping instrumental for It’s Yours. I quite liked how consistent the thumping nature of the instrumental was. It was intriguing, unique and cool. Again, the vocals bring a vibrant factor to the song, whilst the melodies and hooks bring forth a happy and cheerful tone to the song. I particularly like little uptick in melody when one of the vocalists begin their solo part in the chorus. The rapping also gets a tick of approval from me, with the rapping adding a bit of oomph to the song, as well. The simple repetition as the hook was a bit generic, but it caught on quite fast. (9/10)

7. Teddy Bear (잘 자) Teddy Bear delves into R&B territory, even though the instrumental still has a foot within the EDM genre. I liked the punch the chorus had, which really woke me up from the soft and dreamy vocals. Teddy Bear was quite smooth as well, but I am not as excited about this aspect as per the other songs on this album. The vocal work was a bit linear in terms of trajectory and made the song less engaging as it progressed to the end. (7/10)

8. Sorry Heart – The Beatbox repackaged version brings us the second of two unit tracks (I consider this second as the first unit track consisting of the other members initially featured on the Glitch Mode album). Sorry Heart features Renjun, Haechan and Chenle. This lineup immediately means this is a vocal-centric track, and they do not mess around in this track. It was very stunning, emotionally packed and extremely captivating. The best parts, however, were the harmonies, the ad-libs and the acapella harmony sequence at the very end. This was all done over a soothing guitar instrumentation that allowed the vocals to do all of the speaking. (10/10)

9. Replay (내일 봐) – NCT DREAM regroups following the vocalists’ unit track for Replay. Replay takes me back to the 2000s with its old-school boy group style that easily could have been passed off as a promotional single. NCT DREAM fits in with this sound perfectly! The rapping was on point throughout, and the smooth vocals continue on in this song. Great melodies, but I feel the hooks were undeveloped. (8/10)

10. Saturday Drip – The first unit track from NCT DREAM on the album (even though the second on for this review/on the Beatbox version of the album) features Mark Jeno Jaemin and Jisung. Like Sorry Heart, when you look at Saturday Drip’s lineup, you know that this track will be rap heavy and go down the hip-hop hole. Every time I listened to this track when I play the albums, I find myself fighting an urge to dance. As you may know, hip-hop tracks are not really my style, so this urge to dance comes as a surprise and definitely shows you how much I enjoy the track. I also enjoyed the use of their deep vocals, which felt stylish and trendy. (10/10)

11. Better Than Gold (지금)Better Than Gold brings a retro flair to the album with its funky and synth track. This one too gives me an urge to dance, but admittedly not as strong as the preceding track. What I think makes this track appealing is its brightness and upbeat nature. With the brass in the bridge, it is very hard to deny that this track is bright and upbeat. The vocals and rapping make it cheerful. A fun track, overall. (8/10)  

12. Drive (미니카) Drive has this feel-good vibe without stepping into the preppy and upbeat territory. Instead, I find the track to be calming and soothing. But it still puts a smile on your face. It is quite a mature and refined approach to this intention, if you think about it. Again, amazing vocals and rapping takes hold over a simple pop instrumentation. There is absolutely nothing wrong about this song, just one to enjoy. (8/10)

13. Never Goodbye (북극성)  – NCT DREAM almost enters balladry territory with this track. I specifically say ‘almost’, as I feel like the instrumentation doesn’t follow. It remains atmospheric as result to electronic elements and I liked the twinkling detailing the background had. The vocals were very dreamy throughout the song, and the rapping (another not-so-common balladry element) was well executed for this softer track. In terms of me liking this track, I will say Never Goodbye is easily forgotten when considering the bigger picture of the album. But standalone, it is a nice and pleasant track. (7/10)

14. RewindRewind revisits that retro style that NCT DREAM had already touched upon on this album. The piano and synth detailing in the instrumentation definitely brings this retro style to life. The melodies and rapping adds a fun element to the song that I thoroughly enjoy, whilst the vocals brought a youthful appeal to the song. (8/10)

15. On The Way (별 밤) – The final track on the Beatbox album (and the conclusion of the Glitch Mode / Beatbox era for NCT DREAM) is On The Way. It is such a neat ender, summing up the albums in a meaningful manner. I find On The Way had the best parts of the album, such as cool and trendy rapping, smooth vocals and soothing harmonies. The ending of the track was extremely well done, with the harmonies and beautifully sung chanty melodies. There is also a meaningful tinge to this song, which makes it super appropriate at the end. This is all on top of a simple but atmospheric synth instrumental. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from the 1st Half of 2022 + more

As already mentioned on this blog somewhere (most likely the Weekly KPOP Charts posts), we are officially in July 2022. And that means that an entire 6 months has already past. Per usual, a substantial number of KPOP releases have been released, many of which have been on repeat. Keeping to tradition in July, it is time to post a list of my personal favourite songs from the 1st half of 2022.

I am doing things slightly different this year. In addition to the usual 10 songs (in no particular order) for the first half of 2022, I will also be posting two songs from the November – December 2021 period, which were ineligible for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards due to the cut off date being in October. And I will be posting 3 non-Korean songs (i.e. English, Japanese etc.) by Korean artists that caught my attention so far this year. So without furtherado, here are the list of my personal favourite songs of the year thus far (in no particular order, of course).

From November – December 2021

Personal favourite non-Korean songs of 2022 thus far

Personal favourite KPOP songs of the year so far (January – June 2022)

[Review] Beatbox – NCT DREAM

Making their comeback yesterday was NCT DREAM, with the repackaged version of their second studio album. This version of their second studio length album and the title track are both titled Beatbox. This follows the release of Glitch Mode, the title of both their second studio album and title track, back in March of this year. I will be reviewing the full Beatbox and Glitch Mode album versions as a singular album some time in the near future. But until then, enjoy my review for the Beatbox title track.

I gave one listen to Beatbox yesterday upon its official release and I found myself to be bopping along to the music. That is definitely one of the best feelings when a new song comes out – falling right into it as a listener from the get-go. Talking about the get-go (literally the first second or so), the way Mark started off Beatbox with his raspy vocals left a strong impression on me. I just want to keep replaying that one second or so over and over again. What also really attracted me to Beatbox is the atmosphere it created in less than 3 minutes. I found Beatbox to be extremely fun, vibrant, upbeat, energetic, catchy and addictive – all rolled into one package! Perfect as a summer track! And I liked that the choruses felt bold/explosive (relative to the verses), especially for the final run at the end of Beatbox. On top of that, Jeno’s whispered ‘Everywhere I go, bring the beatbox‘ line was super effective and clever in a contrasting sense to practically every other element in the song. For a song titled Beatbox, beatboxing appearing is a no-brainier. Instead of it being the focal point of the vocal/rapping, however, the beatboxing was mixed into the background, bringing a dynamic factor to the song, especially during the instrumental breaks that facilitate the dance breaks we will get in the performances for Beatbox. Pairing with the beatboxing is the rapping, which added to Beatbox‘s vibrant profile and colour. This song allowed the rappers to shine and do their thing. The vocals were not in the limelight this time around, but they did enough to maintain and incorporate a pop genre presence in the song. However, the breakdown in the bridge to incorporate some more vocals into Beatbox felt a little cliché for my liking. I don’t mind the use of technique, but I wished the producers were a bit more inventive, just to be on par with the overall creativity I personally felt come from Beatbox.

I felt the video worked really well with Beatbox when it comes to the dynamic and vibrant fronts. I like how a large bulk of it is shot outside in the sun, as opposed to the usual set (though this video didn’t managed to escape the use of sets). The natural lighting really helps makes everything more inviting and appealing to watch. The video portrayed the members as the ‘cool kids on the block’, featuring them at school and at hangout spots outside of school. I also liked their casual and urban looks that they had going on throughout the video. It matches the setting and the vibes in which the song was exuding.

As mentioned earlier, the beatboxing gives off a dynamic feel and this is definitely felt in the choreography. The entire routine was really well done and is probably one of the best I have seen this year thus far. I enjoyed everything for the footwork to the handwork (especially the key move when they perform the line ‘Everywhere I go, bring the beatbox‘) to the different dance breaks we got throughout the performance. The energy they also bring to the performance also made it look so good. I also like how at the end during the vocal sections there were two different sets of moves happening, but yet the stage looked cohesive.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.2/10

[Review] Glitch Mode – NCT DREAM

After a mini-break from tiredness and feeling unwell, I am back to finally review the new releases that started off this week. First up is Glitch Mode, the title of both the lead single and second studio album from NCT DREAM. Without a doubt. 2021 was an extremely big year for the NCT subunit, who returned with their Hot Sauce and Hello Future hits (along with participating in NCT 2021 promotions). It is definitely going to take a lot of work to replicate or even exceed the success of their 2021 promotions. But it appears that NCT DREAM is already outshining their last comeback, with reports that Glitch Mode has already outperformed their personal records for best first day sales and pre-ordered album sales.

I found Glitch Mode to be an alright song. Not too bad, but not that great either. I found the instrumental of Glitch Mode to be lacking substance and oomph. Described as a hip hop dance song, there were some good moments within the instrumental, such as the retro arcade accompaniment they had in the pre-chorus section and the awesome/powerful sounding rock-based dynamic dance break (which was the highlight of Glitch Mode for me). However, the rest of the instrumental felt mediocre and boring. Had there been that substance and oomph as mentioned, Glitch Mode‘s instrumental could have been more fulfilling. But sadly, the version we got was not the case. This issue then flows onto other elements of the song, such as the rapping, which needed that oomph to be more powerful sounding. The vocals, on the other hand, faired a bit better. But they too could also have been enhanced by what I mentioned already. As for the chorus, I don’t mind it as much. Sure, the shouty nature is becoming a cliché for them. But in the first half of the chorus, I thought it was fine. I just wished they changed it up in the second half of the chorus to be a bit more melodic and vocally driven. That would have made Glitch Mode more interesting. Overall, Glitch Mode wasn’t as exciting as I hoped it would been, but it was a fair comeback nonetheless.

Compared to the song component of the comeback, the music video receives a better review from me. I liked that despite the group went with a video game store concept for this comeback, they managed to incorporate the ‘glitch mode’ that they sing/rap about in the song when you are in front of the person you like. It adds an extra level of depth to a pretty random setting that I didn’t think was possible for this video. The icy end to this video was also bit random, but I guess we can say it is a ‘glitch’. I also liked how their outfits complimented the colours of the scene, which helped make the video look visually appeal.

I quite liked the glitchy party of the choreography, which really shows off their dance skills. They made it look so clean. It is quite clever and probably needed a lot of hard work to get it right, but it pays off. On a side note, Chenle is unfortunately unable to fully participating in the comeback due to an injury. A performance of Glitch Mode released today saw him edited/incorporated into the choreography poorly. I wish that if he is part of the stage performances, that they better incorporated him into the routine (like Felix in MANIAC).

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.3/10

[Album Review] UNIVERSE (3rd Studio Album) – NCT

Another album review that has been a long time coming. UNIVERSE is the next instalment in NCT’s career, with 21 of the 23 active members participating in the release of the group’s third studio-length album (Lucas is on hiatus from his controversy, while WinWin had schedule conflicts, preventing both of participating from recording and promotions). UNIVERSE officially dropped mid-December, on the same day that Beautiful was officially released as a promotional track. Another title track, Universe (Let’s Play Ball), dropped four days prior. In addition to these two tracks, there were another 11 tracks on the album (3 of which were based on the group’s standard units – NCT 127, NCT DREAM and WayV, while the other performed by their rotation unit, NCT U).

Overall, I would say this is a very good album. There were some standout tracks mixed throughout the song, and NCT definitely showed themselves off strongly throughout UNIVERSE. But that is just my thoughts on the album. Check out the tracks and my review of each song below to see if you agree!

Universe Album Cover

1. New Axis – Impressively kicking off the third studio album was Taeyong, Mark and YangYang with this short track. New Axis takes on a hip-hop profile. The focus is purely on the three members, with the instrumental opting for a minimalistic approach. The trio definitely opened up the album in spectacular fashion with their dynamic and immensely powerful rapping performance. They don’t hold back in this track! (9/10)

2. Universe (Let’s Play Ball) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Universe (Let’s Play Ball). (9/10)

3. Earthquake – NCT 127 shakes up the world with their side track Earthquake. If you want a really powerful and intense dance track, Earthquake is the song you are looking for. Such words are usually what you associate with NCT 127 already, so it should not come as a surprise. I really enjoyed the amped up nature of this hip-hop track. It is quite a noisy one (which may be a flaw to some), but this just made Earthquake even more impressive to me. As for the members, they did a great job with their vocals and rapping. I found they fitted right in with the noisy and intense environment that is the instrumental and their delivery made the song even more dynamic. (8/10)

4. OK!OK! is brought to you by Taeyong, Yuta, Ten, Mark, Hendery, Jeno and Yangyang. With a line up like that, I think it is clear that OK! also encroaches into hip-hop territory as well. OK! is a satisfying listen, with another strong display from all the members who participated in the song. There is also a memorable ring to the ‘OK!’ in the chorus. The bridge was my favourite bit, especially when some of the members bring a faster pace to their delivery. The instrumental was quite minimalistic, with a few added details that I thought gave OK! an intriguing nature to it. The metallic xylophone percussion is a good example of this. The flutes, however, reminded me a bit too much of NCT 127’s Favorite (Vampire) for my liking. (8/10)

5. Birthday Party – Johnny, Yuta, Jungwoo, Hendery, Jaemin, Shotaro, Chenle and Jisung come together to give us Birthday Party. Based on the initial seconds of the song, it appears that Birthday Party takes on a more energetic tone. I liked the rapping in this song, with the members bringing a bit of a playful tone to the mix. The elongated ‘Woooow’ was questionable, but I think it can be overlooked. The vocals were superb when they were in play. For the instrumental, I liked how colourful it felt. I also appreciated the attempts to change up the song towards the end as Birthday Party was borderline repetitive at that point. (8/10)

6. Know NowKnow How features Johnny, Doyoung, Mark, Renjun, Jeno, Jaemin, Yangyang and Sungchan. It starts with (and ends with, completing Know Now as a full circle) some scratchy gospel samples that made for a cool opener. Following that opener was a fun melody and a bright instrumental piece. I like how that melody was a consistent piece in pretty much all the elements (for most of the vocals, rapping – to a degree, and the instrumentation), which cohesively pulled Know Now together. Know Now was such an enjoyable listen for me. (9/10)

7. DreamingDreaming is performed by the members of NCT Dream. I liked its mix of softer tones for the verses vs. the harsher nature of the chorus. The softer moments of the song had this music box-like focus piece, which felt very nice. The harsher chorus features a funky synth EDM piece, which provided a decent rush of energy to the song without taking it too far or making it feel too different. I also liked the layering of vocals and rapping throughout, regardless of the backing piece. (9/10)

8. Round & Round – Taeil, Ten, Jaehyun, Xiaojun, Haechan and Sungchan comes together to bring us Round & Round. It is a decent mid-tempo R&B track. The instrumental had a dynamic touch to it, with the various effects added in to increase the momentum of the song. I quite appreciate that, as it didn’t make Round & Round a typical mid-tempo track. But aside from that, nothing else really stood out at me. (7/10)

9. Miracle – The final NCT fixed unit track on this album belongs to WayV (sans Lucas and WinWin, who I already mentioned didn’t participate in this release). Miracle also opts for a mid-tempo R&B profile. But I felt Miracle was more impressive. The song came off as quite sophisticated, expensive, classy. This was felt most in the instrumental, which was smooth. The guitars were definitely the icing on the cake for me. It also effected the rapping in this song, with the rappers really jumping out at me due to the energy they put into their delivery. The vocals were clear and crisp, and the layering of both vocals/rapping at the end was extremely satisfying. (10/10)

10. Vroom – The album takes a turn from here with its sweeter sound. Kun, Jaehyun, Jungwoo, Hendery, Shotaro, Chenle and Jisung features in Vroom, and it’s a nice melodic track (for the most part). The pre-chorus really stuck out, mainly because it didn’t go with a sweet sound, or can be described as a ‘nice melodic track’. Instead, it intensifies briefly before reverting to a sweet sound in the chorus. It is interesting and different, and unexpectedly work. Still a bit foreign after all this time, but not detrimental to the track. (8/10)

11. Sweet Dream – Wishing the listeners a ‘Sweet Dream’ are Taeil, Kun, Jaehyun, Haechan and Chenle. Extremely velvety vocals are the centrepiece of this song. They are present on top of a warm R&B instrumental. It started off like a piece as you would hear in a coffeehouse, but the instrumental built over the course of the song. I liked the addition of the subtle brass in the background. I do think that coffeehouse impression was still maintained throughout even as the song built. (8/10)

12. Good Night – Taeil, Doyoung, Xiaojun and Renjun sings us a soft and delicate ballad. It starts as a lullaby, with a slow swayable melody – one of the highlights of the song. The instrumental does build over the length of the track, and this does bring it back a soothing ballad territory. Not complaining though, as it helped maintain Good Night as a decent piece. Elsewhere, the vocals from the quartet were also quiet soothing and captivating. The emotional input from them made the song even better! I also loved the way Renjun ended this song. (8.5/10)

13. Beautiful (NCT 2021) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Beautiful. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.5/10

NCT 2021 Teaser Image for Universe

[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



Honourable Mention: TREASURE

Best New Female Group



Honourable Mention: WEEEKLY

Best New Male Soloist

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

Lee Eun Sang

Honourable Mention: Wonho

Best New Female Soloist

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

Golden Child

The Boyz

Honourable Mention: EVERGLOW

Most Underrated Group of 2020


Dream Catcher

Honourable Mention: Dream Catcher

Best Vocals


Lee Hi
Ong Seong Woo
Taeyeon (SNSD)

Honourable Mention: Taeyeon (SNSD)

Best Rapper

Dami (Dream Catcher)
Han Ji Sung (Stray Kids)

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

Honourable Mention: Han Jisung (Stray Kids)

Best Band

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



Honourable Mention: CN BLUE

Best CO-ED Group


Honourable Mention: AKMU

Best Subunit

End of Day
Moonbin & Sanha

NCT 127
Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi

Honourable Mention: NCT 127

Best Male Soloist

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

Baekhyun (EXO)
Chen (EXO)
Kang Daniel

Ong Seong Woo
Taemin (SHINee)

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

Best Female Soloist

Hwasa (Mamamoo)

Jeon Somi
Taeyeon (SNSD)

Honourable Mention: Hwasa (Mamamoo)
KPOPREVIEWED Choice: Chungha

Best Male Group

Golden Child


Stray Kids
The Boyz

Honourable Mention: BTS, Stray Kids

Best Female Group

Cherry Bullet
Dream Catcher


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

Honourable Mention: BLACKPINK, EVERGLOW

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

Honourable Mentions – ONEUS

Best New Female Group


Honourable Mention – EVERGLOW

Best Band

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

Honourable Mention – N.Flying

Best Vocals

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

Honourable Mention – Chen (EXO)

Best Raps

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

Honourable Mention – Zico

Best Subunit

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

Honourable Mention – NCT 127

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

Honourable Mention – CLC

Most Underrated Artist of 2019

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

WINNER – Dream Catcher
Honourable Mention – Pentagon

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)

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

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)

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