After 10 years, NU’EST has wrapped up promotions as a group and have agreed to part ways. It was announced at the end of February that the group would officially disband once their contracts finish up mid-March. While this was a bitter pill to swallow for some fans (and quite unexpected), it was then announced that the group would release one last album before disbanding on 15 March 2022 to coincide with their 10 year anniversary. Titled Needle & Bubble, the special compilation album featured remakes of their past hits and two new songs, one of them being Again (the title track for this album release). Member Baekho and Minhyun have signed on to stay at Pledis Entertainment, with Aron, JR (now Kim Jonghyun) and Ren leaving the company.
Again continues the string of pleasant singles that we have heard over the last few weeks. For those who knows my blog well, I use the word ‘pleasant’ in either a positive or negative manner. In Again‘s case, I use it in a positive manner. Again falls into the category of a pop ballad and sounds very reflective throughout, ideal for the circumstances that NU’EST finds themselves in. Regardless of how you view the situation surrounding the release of Again, its tone and flowy nature is quite effective. It might be able to bring back some happy memories, which I am sure fans of the group (L.O.Λ.E) are happily reliving. But as this is the group’s final track (barring any potential reunion or regroup in the future), it might also lead to some listeners shedding a few tears due to the bittersweet feeling Again might bring about. The song’s instrumental, as a whole, was very inviting and warming to listen to. I quite enjoyed the piano in the instrumental. It adds a beautiful touch to the song, especially as it peeks through from underneath the other instruments. Vocally, the reflective tone the members bring to the song really helps boost up the song and emphasise a lot of the descriptors words I have already used to describe Again. The melodies were also quite soothing and easy on the ears. I quite like how the focus on the vocals and that the instrumental was not overpowering. Everything was well-balance, and made for an enjoyable and pleasant listen. Overall, Again is a fitting track for NU’EST to end their time together as a group with.
The music video was just as I had expected it to be – reflective and pleasing to watch. What really got me was the ending, with Minhyun’s warm smile when he saw the other members of the group approach him. That scene, though its intention was probably to be lighthearted and warm, really hurt me. Not to the point where I was in tears, but it really put everything about this release into perspective for me. In addition to that, I believe this music video references a few of their past releases. Aron’s scene with the payphone seemed to allude towards their Hello release. JR’s solo scene with him on top of the stacked mattresses and Baekho’s scene with the reflection of light off the surface of water on the walls (and the coloured Blue walls) reminded me of Where You At‘s music video. The chess board in Ren’s solo scenes might pay homage to some of their videos that featured chess game, such as HELP ME and BET BET. Minhyun’s scenes behind the broken windows might be reference to the broken glass concept images NU’EST W had for their Where You At comeback. These might just be coincidences, but given that this is their last release as a group, it would make sense to why they might have included these subtle touches that refer back to their old releases. Either way, they make for a great video.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9/10
Next up on the blog is the review for INSIDE OUT, NU’EST’s most recent comeback. It dropped on Monday (apologies for the delay in the review) and is featured as the title track on NU’EST’s second Korean studio-length album, Romanticize. This comes after almost a full year since the group last promoted on a Korean stage with I’m In Trouble. The group did release their second studio album in the Japanese market, headlined by Drive, which I have previously reviewed. Romanticize and INSIDE OUT is a full group comeback, however Aron which only partly feature in promotions for the release due to ongoing health concerns. He previously stopped all activities earlier this year as a result of these health concerns. But I am glad that he feels he is well enough to participate as it is always unfortunate for a group to not promote with a full lineup, and the fans who have eagerly been awaiting a full group comeback of their favourite artists.
INSIDE OUT opens up in a very refreshing manner. If that was my initial impression of the song, surely INSIDE OUT would be a knock out of the park. But it didn’t really. Instead, NU’EST’s latest release suffered from a case of being too consistent. I bring back my straight analogy which I hardly use nowadays. The song simply stays within the confines of this straight line, going from point A to B. Sometimes, it is the selling point of the song. But most of the time, I find it a bit too tight for my liking. INSIDE OUT never really peaks or deviates from the line, resulting in a consistent and monotone sound. At the same time, however, I couldn’t really pinpoint anything wrong within the song if I were to extract it to the individual main elements I tend to focus on. The instrumental takes on chill house, which is what brings out that refreshing tone. I also like its minimalist vibes, which was promoted as one of the song’s charms. Maybe this combination added fuel to being overly consistent. The vocals are quite clear and crisp throughout the entire song. It was definitely a solid feature to the song. I wished the rapping (courtesy of JR) was a bit more dynamic. What we heard was fitting for the overall final product. But I think that this additional dynamism could broke the song from its consistency mould and made the song more appealing in that regards. Aside from the rapping, the song’s melodies and hooks are quite catchy. The opening of INSIDE OUT came back as post-chorus hooks and gave the song a little bounce. The vocals also helped the melodies appear a lot smoother, which was nice. But while I give praises for the elements within INSIDE OUT, it is the bigger picture that I find a bit boring.
Like the song, the music video opens in a very striking manner. I really like the way the camera goes around in circles with a very wide angle lens. I also really thought it going upside down was pretty cool. There were also many other cinematography shots that look really cool, so it is a video to check out if you are really into that stuff. I also find the music video to be quite smooth, with the transitions playing a vital role in making this happen. They are all your standard transitions, but the way they come together and blend the various scenes together make this video look so good. I also thought the concept behind the ball to be quite interesting. The ball just keeps on rolling away, which I assume represents the need to run away from their lover. But towards the end of the video, Baekho smashes the ball which I assume represents that they are staying with their love. The dominos could potentially be explained in a similar manner. The start of the video we see a domino piece leave the sequence, which prevents the continuation of the falling dominos. At the end of the video, we see Ren ponder and put down the piece, allowing the dominos to continue falling. My guess is the dominos represent his love for this partner. The start shows his love being cut short, but the end shows the love continuing as per the lyrics.
I liked the choreography that accompanied this release. While it isn’t really a mind blowing performance, I did like the energy exuded from the routine, especially during the chorus. It makes the song feel more lively. My favourite bit has to be the post-chorus hook (i.e. “you are the one I want, eh eh eh, you are the one I need eh eh eh‘). Not only was it catchy, but the moves felt like they could as well.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8.3/10
For those who may not know or remember, Saturdays used to be when I dedicated a review to a Japanese release made by a Korean artist. This year, I made the move to expand to more music releases that aren’t Japanese based and now the segment includes music releases by Korean artists in other languages such as Chinese and English. Since we find ourselves on another Saturday, and now that found enough releases to post two International Song Review posts (this one and another one next week!), it is time to revisit the segment. The releases in this post are more of the recent releases including SEVENTEEN, SNUPER, Taeyeon, NU’EST and Jackson Wang.
24H – SEVENTEEN
Two days after I published my last ISR (i.e. the 24th August 2020), SEVENTEEN dropped their latest original Japanese single, 24H. To me, 24H impresses with its refined take on their Korean releases, opting for maturity in the way they deliver 24H, without necessarily using an ‘edgy’ and dark concept to relay this maturity. The start of the song, which features S.Coups’ vocals, opens as if it was a Western pop song. I particularly like this as its allows the song to kickstart with something different than what we are used to. As the song progresses with acoustic guitars at the forefront of the background, the song gets heavier with its beat. The chorus feels rugged, with the guitar used here moving the song forward with a chugging momentum. The bridge amps up the chorus with what seems to be the song version of going ‘all out’, before returning the song to how it started before launching us into the chorus once again. Over its structure, the more vocal-centric side of the group appears, allowing that refinement to be taken to the next level. 24H‘s melodies and hooks are quite strong as well, giving myself an excuse to return to the song.
24H‘s music video continues the aesthetics from their Fallin’ Flower music video, albeit more darker. However, it doesn’t look like the members opted for a dark concept, just more serious. They do end up showing more of a masculine energy through this video, something I would love to see them show off in their Korean releases. Not exactly sure what it going on in the video plotwise, especially with S.Coups’ scene at the end with that metallic floating wire attacking him. I haven’t seen a theory for this video just yet, though I can tell it is going to be interesting. The choreography also carries some of the aesthetics, especially the sequence in which they form circle around Hoshi and The8. Overall, a strong Japanese comeback for SEVENTEEN.
Overall Rating –8.8/10
Oxygen – SNUPER
It has been a while since we have heard from SNUPER. Domestically, the group has not released anything since 2018. On the Japanese front, the group was more active in Japan with releases in 2019 and now Oxygen in 2020. Oxygen is a song that is driven by a deep house club beat. We don’t get that deep house club beat until the chorus hit. At first glance, it was thrilling drop that felt wholesome and quite pure. But the more I listened to the song, the more I felt that the chorus could have been a little more ‘spicier’, if you understand what I mean. What we get in Oxygen leans slightly to the more generic and unimaginative side. The verses that surround Oxygen were pretty lackluster and failed to really bring anything more to the song. Even the rap sequences opts for a trap-based background, which is pretty generic move.
With the lack of promotions, it seems like SNUPER no longer has a substantial budget for their music videos. While the visuals were quite crisp and high definition, the uninspiring sets and location really dulled the music video. The dark lighting was probably done so to make the group feel more mysterious. However, it was a poor choice as we couldn’t really see the members in the poor lighting. For the moves, I thought they mismatched the upbeatness of the song, especially when it came to the chorus. The moves felt sluggish and could have been snappier.
Overall Rating – 5.7/10
#GIRLSPKOUT – Taeyeon
Taeyeon made a surprise drop earlier this month with the release of the music video, #GirlsSpkOut, the title track from her upcoming Japanese mini-album release of the same name. It is pretty disappointing that SM Entertainment haven’t done much promotions for this MV release. It literally dropped out of nowhere. That aside, when I first heard the song, I thought it was going to be a 2.0 version of Taeyeon’s Spark due to its use of acoustic guitar. However, #GirlsSpkOut ended it being quite different. It sounds a lot funkier and it had more of a substantial pop feel to it. And as you listen to more of it, the song builds into something decent. If you were to judge the song by listening to only the first chorus, you are listening to it all wrong. It isn’t an active representation of the latter choruses, which both have more of a kick to them. Unfortunately, this extra energy never actually amounts to a peak, leaving #GirlsSpkOut as a somewhat flawed release. #GirlsSpkOut also features Japanese rapper, Chanmina, alongside Taeyeon’s nice (and well-known) vocals. This is something new, Korean artists have never really collaborated with someone from the Japanese music industry as far as I remember for a release. Chanmina’s featuring in #GirlsSpkOut was needed to give more energy to the song and help build the song. But her delivery was something I was not a fan of.
Based on the title alone, anyone can tell that the song is about female empowerment. And the music video tells you just that. Taeyeon is approached by a guy who doesn’t seem to understand the answer ‘no’. He is involved in an accident (a falling light sign – what are the chances?) just moments after Taeyeon leaves him. He is taken to the hospital in a full body cast. Taeyeon and her female friends band together to teach him a lesson. Chanmina also features in the video, which was also a nice treat. The choreography scenes were okay. They just didn’t show anything impressive or amazing-looking to make me go wow. Her visual game and outfits though looked awesome!
Overall Rating – 7/10
Drive – NU’EST
It has been a while since we last heard a Japanese release from NU’EST. Their last was 2015’s Nanananamida, the title track of their first Japanese studio album, Bridge The World. 5 years on, the group dropped Drive earlier this month, alongside their second Japanese studio album of the same name. Drive is a little different to your standard Japanese release, opting to step away from a choreography-required song. Drive focuses more on the singing and rapping, upfronting a pretty pleasant instrumentation made up of nice rhythmic guitars and an upbeat pop melody. I like this change up in style for the Japanese music industry, which separate the group’s release from the pack for uniqueness. The singing pulls you in and captivates you. It also compliments the instrumentation, adding to Drive‘s pleasantness and softness. As a result, I would gladly put this song to listen to the NU’EST vocalists. I did feel that the rapping was a little mismatched for the song. It could have potentially been more fitting if it was a tad smoother. But overall, a really good display of style and refinement from the members of NU’EST.
If I were to breakdown the music video, it is simply a music video full of a bunch of closeups. ‘There is a storyline embedded into those closeups, with JR approaching each member and pulling them to the circle of chairs we see in the video. I am not sure what this is supposed to mean and whether it represents something in the lyrics or not (I couldn’t tell). My best guess is that it something about coming together after being separated for so long. As mentioned previously, there is no choreography for this comeback. Instead, the group scenes were shots of the members singing into microphones, which was a nice touch that compliments the softness of the song. I liked the golden aura that comes from these scenes.
Overall Rating – 8/10
Pretty Please – Jackson Wang & Galantis
The final song on this list today is Jackson Wang and Galantis’ collaboration, titled Pretty Please. For those who are not familiar with Galantis, they bring the funky and groovy electronic-based instrumental that forms the backbone of Pretty Please to life. It is a really awesome backing for the song and feels super addictive. Jackson brings the vocals to the song. I really like his deep and raspy vocals in this song. He adds some unique colour to the song and the texture is super appealing over the electronic instrumentation. Music-wise, big ticks from me. My only complaint is the song goes by so quickly. Two and a half minutes is nothing. And especially with such a fun, groovy and upbeat instrumentation, it literally blurs by in a matter of seconds. I wished there was more to it, as every time I listen to Pretty Please, I am caught off guard by the unexpecting ending that comes out of nowhere.
The end of the music video gives a bit of context to the idea behind the video. Jackson has always wanted to shoot something along the lines of ’90s Hong Kong movie’ concept. And I agree with him that it is a pretty cool setting to shoot in. The video starts off with Jackson and his friends at a Chinese restaurant, watching a documentary about wolves, emphasising the idea of loyalty of friends and to partners. Enters the actress, the same one who played his love interest in 100 Ways. He notices that she left a pendant of a wolf and starts following her to get her attention down the street in a cool montage. And he doesn’t stop, presenting us with the first of the two loyalties. The second of the two loyalties is shown in the lead up to the dance choreography, where his friends (shown as wolves for a brief moment) come running from the restaurant to join him in the choreography shot at the end of the video. The video cuts to dark and it is revealed at he is still in the restaurant with his friends and he is holding the pendant. His eyes turns white, revealing him to be a wolf and is probably going to go searching for his female counterpart later on. The choreography in this video looks really cool and matches with the funky vibes of the song.
Also making their comeback this Monday is NU’EST with I’m In Trouble. This new track is featured on the group’s 8th mini-album, The Nocturne. NU’EST has had a busy year in 2019 with the release of Bet Bet and Love Me (their most recent release prior to today’s comeback). 2019 also saw the long awaited return of Minhyun to the group’s lineup from other activities. Let’s see what the group has installed for 2020.
I’m In Trouble kicks off with the plucking of guitar strings. It took a brief moment before the proper beat to kick in, which end up being more instrumentation contributing to a beat that continues the low deep tone which the song started off with. As it delved into the chorus, I’m In Trouble took a R&B pop approach. I have to say that the song is already quite sleek and classy in an elegant manner. But it never really picked up, which was something that I really wanted as the song progressed. It just stayed in a very neutral setting. I was glad when it came to the bridge that the song inserted that vibrating-like synth. It was an odd addition, but it added some life and variety to the song. But I wished they continue with the additional elements as the song reverted back to the same consistent sound to end it off, which was bland. The vocal work was good, but not their best effort. Interestingly, JR opted for vocals this time around, but I felt a rap sequence of any degree was warranted to give the song some edge. Just enough so that the classy and sleek nature of the song isn’t lost. I think that would provide some extra variety to the sound and give the song some uniqueness. The hooks didn’t offer much, which I thought they could have fell back on to give the song that memorable touch. Instead, their main ‘I’m In Trouble‘ was incredibly plain and failed to gain any interest from me. Overall, it has some good things going in. But it just failed to capture my attention.
NU’EST’s latest music video that accompanies the release of I’m In Trouble is very aesthetic to watch. I really liked the pentagon platform with the partitions that they sit in. That looked really cool. The cinematography was also very good in this video. As for the plot line, I am not too sure what is going on in this video. It seems like the members are playing a game (that looks familiar) where they choose to who to kill (i.e. vote out). It seems based on the teasers and the music video, this game is played at night, while each member goes about their respective days. Who they choose seems to have do with something in their normal life. The members reach out to one another to form an alliance or warn one another of betrayal. In the end, the members voted for JR to be eliminated, though I am not sure why. My best guess is that a person they are all interested is playing a cruel game and this person edges the members on with text messages throughout the day. Though, I am not sure how the teasers fit into the video. My interpretation is very literal and I don’t think anything that I wrote above is part of a proper interpretation, as everything seems mysterious and mine feels a little too lighthearted. Do you have any clue? Fill me in by commenting below.
I thought the choreography was pretty good. The routine looks complicated despite it not really ultilising any crazy movements like in many other choreographies. Instead, this routine matches the song in the sense that it is sleek and refined. I thought the sections in which the members sing the hook (i.e. ‘I’m In Trouble‘ repetition) to be pretty dynamic looking.
Song – 6.5/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.3/10
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.
The next album review (as part of the album review blitz) is for NU’EST latest album release, The Table. I debated whether to write an album review for The Table as my first listen didn’t really show anything promising. But I am glad I gave it additional listens, as it eventually unveiled an interesting side to NU’EST that we have yet to hear before. So alongside Love Me (the album’s title track), let’s see what else the album has to offer.
1. Call Me Back – Opening The Table is Call Me Back, a light tune that eases you into the album. Considering the title track, Call Me Back is fitting as the opening track as the lightness carries through. And considering the brighter tone of the entire album, it also makes senses for this to be the opening track. The instrumental is island-like and features a fair bit of guitars. The vocal work is good, and the rapping iterated the playful vibe that was felt throughout the song in a bolder manner. (8/10)
3. One Two Three – One Two Three brings out the vocals of the members in a very pleasant and enjoyable dance track. Once again, the lightness is very prominent, and this plays well with the vocals. Listening to this track, I found the entire chorus to be the most promising part of the track. Those vocal melodies during the chorus helped make the song feel golden. The rapping was not part of the chorus, but I liked how JR was allowed to lead into the chorus in an equally as pleasing manner to the vocals in the track. (8/10)
4. Trust Me – It seems like NU’EST is on a roll with this light and soft concept. Trust Me takes you back into those descriptions but manages to make them sound completely different from what we have heard so far. The harmonies really helped the song shine and helped the song achieve a smooth feel that really stayed with me even after the track was completed. Another really good aspect with this track is that the instrumental feels somewhat heavier. (9/10)
5. Stay Up All Night (밤새) – Stay Up All Night features an even heavier instrumental (compared to the preceding track). As a result, the lightness trend that the album had going didn’t end up carrying over. But this isn’t a problem as the ‘heaviness’ was in no way overbearing (it was still relatively soft to other tracks by other artists currently). Despite the ‘heavier’ impression, I liked how the song manages to feel bare during some parts, which is a very interesting aspect. This gave way to even more epic vocal moments, such as when the song stripped away the instrumental in the bridge and allowed for the member (I believe it is Ren) to sing by himself. (9/10)
6. If We (우리가 사랑했다면) – I was very surprised to find out that JR was the owner of the vocals that opened the track. His voice can be very rough when he raps, so to hear smooth vocals from him was really cool. But what genre would warrant a rapper to sing? Well, the song is a ballad. It doesn’t feel so in the verses. But the choruses really made sure that we knew it was a ballad. Each member managed to sound raspy in this song and I think this gave the ballad in interesting and memorable texture. The melodies were also really good, as well. (9/10)
Due to my studies, I may end up publishing my reviews for TXT, VAV, DAY6 and other comebacks on Wednesday. There may also be a possibility that I will publish them over the weekend if things get a little too hectic on my end. Apologies.
Making their return today is NU’EST with Love Me. It has been a big year for the group so far, with the long-awaited return of Minhyun to the group’s lineup; a full group comeback with Bet Bet and Happily Ever After; the conclusion of their music video quadrilogy storyline; and an Asian tour. And now they are jumping right back into promotions with their new single and mini-album, The Table.
After a string of dark songs (including NU’EST W) releases, I was surprised to hear this release. Its tone is a lot brighter and colourful, which is unlike NU’EST if you are a new fan. But this isn’t exactly new for the group as Sleep Talking (released back in 2013) was also a bright and colourful track. Despite the change in the group’s sound, I did feel like the pop-dance track fitted in with the rest of the discography whilst still being fresh at the same time. Love Me is quite catchy, with the title repeated for the main bulk of the chorus. A little one-dimensional given today’s use of that technique. But I think that repetition really set up the rest of the chorus to be punchy and more lively. The whistling was also another good aspect of the song. I did want more from the vocals and rapping as it didn’t really ping me as memorable. The song went by quite fast (due to its 3-minute length), so the vocals and rapping should have been bolder to really impact me. But the chorus and catchy nature already do quite a bit and I think this managed to satisfy me.
Like the song, the music video manages to be colourful. But given NU’EST’s past quadrilogy (which I didn’t know was a thing until Bet Bet came out), I have a strong feeling that there is a storyline somewhere in the midst of this video. What that storyline is, I have no idea. And it is this potential storyline that has me interested in this video, as the rest of it just doesn’t look too intriguing for me. Apart from the bright and colourful nature that I already spoke about, nothing really stood out to me. Plain and standard would be the right words to use in this sense.
While the moves look good and all the members were constantly moving throughout the performance, I couldn’t help but think that the overall performance did look a little bland. I know, how hypocritical of me. I think I just wanted something more with this comeback and none of the three elements that I focus on in my review really delivered that ‘something more’. I did like the end, when Minhyun and JR had ‘solos’ from the rest of the group, as this part looked a little more dynamic than the rest of the performance.
Song – 8/10 Music video – 7/10 Performance – 7/10 Overall Rating – 7.5/10
For the past three years, we have seen NU’EST in a number of forms and media. Firstly, four of the members participated in Produce 101 Season 2. The show led to the formation of Wanna One, which featured Minhyun as a member. This resulted in Baekho, JR, Ren and Aron forming NU’EST W in the meanwhile to promote the group. So for the last three years, there has not been a straight NU’EST release. Until last Monday, when the group made their return as a five-member group with this very mini-album and Bet Bet. So, I join fans today to admire their new release (and review it as well).
1..Segno – Segno is a very soothing track to listen to. The song is about longing to be with their partner and the lyrics were very fitting to be their first song in three years as a full group. While it is soothing, I liked the direction that it went in with (as the song manages to incorporate multiple dance break hooks that were creaky but had a very rustic feel). I really enjoyed the vocals in this song, with all members (including JR) singing. I particularly like the line ‘Baby Don’t forget about my mind, Don’t forget about my heart’. The harmonies and delicacy make this line so memorable and impactful for me. (8.5/10)
3. BASS – BASS is probably my pick for the best song on the album. Before writing these album reviews, I have already listened to the album to decide whether it is worth reviewing. BASS was the very first song to draw my attention. The most important aspect of BASS is, well, its bass. Together with its very sleek and aesthetic approach with its sound, I would describe the song as very dynamic. The vocals were so nice and the main centrepiece of the song. JR’s rapping definitely provided the smooth song with some texture, but I felt it was rather limited (I wanted more!). The repetition was definitely a memorable highlight of the track, along with the instrumentation. (9.5/10)
4. Talk About Love – As I have always stated before, I always find there to be a ‘weak’ song on the album (note the quotation marks). In Happily Ever After, it comes in the form of Talk About Love. The song is probably their tamest work on this album as it doesn’t really emit that much energy. However, you can feel the smiles that come from the members in this track by the time the song wraps up. I thought it was also a good track to showcase their vocals, with JR providing texture to the chorus. I just wanted more substance to the track to really bring it to the same level as the rest of the album. (7/10)
5. Different – Different is something that I haven’t heard at all yet. It is very… different. The most obvious section that needs to be talked about is the chorus. It is where the song strays away from the majority of other strong. I like the energy that it emits and the lead up to it was superb. Overall, it is a groovy song to dance to (or in my case, awkwardly move my body around). The vocals were sleek and I thought the rapping really added to the song. JR’s I Like That was probably the biggest standout point, apart from the chorus. And the best thing about the track? Its uniqueness gets you to come back for more! (10/10)
6. Fine – This is the song that plays at the end of the Bet Bet music video, where Minhyun wakes up and rejoins the members. Despite its heaviness in terms of the instrumentation, the song manages to give off a very light feel. I think is because the heaviness came during the chorus (with the dubstep-like instrumentation), whereas the vocals and raps during the verses gave the song that lightness. Together, it is a very intriguing contrast. And since it was felt, it was pretty successful. I really enjoyed the powerful side of the vocals, something that hasn’t really been shown us just yet on this album. Baekho really blew me away in this track. A performance for this track will definitely be highly requested by fans and I might join in on this request! (9/10)
The mini Wanna One reunion occurred last week and it continues onto this week with the Minhyun’s long-awaited comeback with NU’EST, returning the group to its original 5 members. For those who do not know, 4 members of NU’EST (JR, Baekho, Ren and Minhyun) participated in Produce 101 Season 2, with Minhyun emerging to be part of the project group, Wanna One. JR, Baekho and Ren rejoined Aron to become NU’EST W during the time Minhyun was absent. Unfortunately, this meant that NU’EST has not promoted as a 5 member group since the release of Love Paint, released back in 2016. But that changes today!
Bet Bet is the name of their new title track. The first impression of the track was that it features a very intense sound that manages to do a good job of captivating me. While the foundations seem to very standard and plain, I think the various effects really made it appealing to me. The high pitch wailing effect and the drumbeats that are heard throughout the song really give the song a unique definition, which I really enjoyed. I also enjoyed the rush of energy that the chorus gives us, which is something that I really enjoy in other songs. Vocally, I think the song is really good. Baekho’s vocals that kick off the chorus really does reach out at you, which I think is fantastic as it matches that rush of energy that I am talking about. I also liked the vocals in the pre-chorus, when the song slightly slows down. The rapping (by JR) is also very good. Overall, I think Bet Bet is a fantastic song for the group to return as a whole. I just hope next time around, they go with something a little different or unique like their past releases, as that was what I was yearning for.
The music video, as confirmed by Pledis Entertainment, completes the storyline shared between Overcame, Love Paint and Universe. It starts off with the Queen sitting in her throne. She seems to have all the members trapped in her world and they are trying their best to get out of it (I think this is suggested by the chess board, where Baekho versus her with all the pieces but she only plays with the queen). Minhyun seems to be a little more daring and climbs to her throne and looks closely at her eyes (which has been covered by since the start). This may have flustered and distracted her, allowing Baekho to win against her in the chess game. I am not too sure about the other members, however (I am not familiar with the card game or the casino based game they are playing, so I can’t really tell what’s going on). The second half of the music video is Minhyun’s awakening (presumed from the end of Universe), where he rejoins the others in Utopian world full of colour and plants (and based on this, they escaped the Queen’s grasp). As you can see, my interpretation is a little choppy. So, feel free to throw your thoughts into the comments below! Maybe I am wrong. But whatever it is, it is shaping to be a very interesting music video theory post.
The choreography for this was very cool. Aron was noticeably absent from the choreography shots in the music video, which I presume was due to his injury. But based on the showcase, he is back performing. I liked the fierceness of the chorus, particularly the sliding and kneeling move.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9/10
Out of all the members of the now-disbanded Wanna One, I think many people are excited for Minhyun. His group went onto Produce 101 as a final attempt to get themselves recognition. And it paid off. NU’EST returned as NU’EST W and continually topped charts with their new releases. Minhyun went on to be part of the popular Wanna One. And now that chapter has closed, it will be interesting to see what direction NU’EST will now take. And we will slowly find out from today, as Minhyun’s solo release (in preparation for a full comeback in the near future) was revealed.
Universe is the Minhyun’s solo track’s name. It is an R&B track but it diverts from that traditional slow tempo to a more upbeat pop and dance influence. And it is this diversion that really gets me into the song. A solo release will also get the member to shine and Minhyun does it effortlessly in this song. So altogether, the song does stand out for me. I find this particular route is very foreign for NU’EST, so it is quite refreshing when I reflect upon the song at the end. I really like the melody, which I thought was calming in a way, despite the upbeatness. Maybe it was the clearness in his voice or its rather easy-on-the-ears instrumentation. Talking about his voice, I really like the falsettos that he attempts at towards the end of the song. It did feel like it was missing something. It didn’t feel complete to me. I think I wanted a rap sequence somewhere to give a little more variety. But that would completely shake up the track, so I guess I understand why that didn’t occur. But overall, Universe is a really good track to kick start Minhyun’s return to the group.
The music video was shot in Budapest and is connected to NU’EST’s previous music videos (Overcome and Love Paint). It is a little confusing, but here is my attempt at the storyline. Minhyun used to be in a relationship but it ended badly (i.e. she leaves him). I think this break-up was a bit harsh on Minhyun, who becomes ‘soulless’ as we saw at the start of the video. However, there is an old man living in the apartment across from his and he comes by daily with a crystal (the same crystals shown in Overcome), that when connected to a machine, relays the good memories of a person. In this case, Minhyun relives the relationship, as we see the days repeat themselves. And this old man is always nearby to control the dosage (I guess) of the crystal. But on one particular day, he isn’t there and Minhyun uses more of the crystals, which unlocks the white Queen (the same Queen from the Overcome music video who went missing). It seems like Minhyun was still on his quest to find the Queen all along, as he bows down to her at the end of the video. Though we don’t know what happens after he reunited with the Queen. My guess is that this ending leads us straight into the forthcoming videos from NU’EST because the storyline doesn’t seem to be completed just yet. I am also unsure how Love Paint play into this (maybe another music video theory post idea?).
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9/10
Returning of the second time this year is NU’EST W with Help Me. They previously returned with Deja Vu in June. This will be NU’EST W’s last comeback as a subunit, with the impending return of Minhyun, who has been promoting as part of Wanna One, as he finished in the top 11 of Produce 101 Season 2. There is a slight nod towards this long-awaited reunion at the end of the music video. But before getting to the music video, let’s have a closer look at the song.
Help Me is one powerful and dynamic title track. Out of all the NU’EST W comebacks so far, this is probably their most promising yet. It is described as an R&B pop fusion track, featuring orchestral and rock elements in the background. I think the first thing that needs to be mentioned is the energy that this song manages to deliver in each punch (or chorus). It makes the track extremely memorable. I think the rapping (performed by JR) is very powerful in this track. But the vocals manage to match that same level of energy, so really they also shine. I particularly like the complete slow down for the first half of the final chorus and how it managed to fit in with the rest of the song. And then that return to the same impactful energy was just perfect. The point of exclaiming ‘Help Me‘ is to get someone’s attention and I can confirm that they have mine.
The music video features the member seeking help from someone. The lyrics paint a picture of a collapsed world and that this someone is the member’s saviour. And I thought the video did a really good job of creating a dystopian or non-existing world. And within each world, the members are lost and seeking that needed assistance. I think the most shell-shocking moment of the music video was the end, with the door opening. I think every fan of the group (me included) jumped up at that moment and assumed that it is alluding to the return of Minhyun, who I assume is the saviour (It doesn’t help that the footsteps sounded heavy – like a male’s footstep). Together, they reform as NU’EST once again.
I really liked the fast pace of the choreography, matching the energy of the song in a spectacular fashion. I was waiting for a really strong highlight of the choreography but I don’t think there was any. Instead, I was in complete awe of their moves and I was not left disappointed. Especially that entire dance break at the end.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 9/10
NU’EST W is officially back with a new mini-album, Who You, after their highly successful return as a subunit last year. And I thought I check out their mini-album this time around as well. Once again, I feel like this is a little late, due to some shuffling. But better late than never (which I say quite a bit here). So before I do some even more shuffling, let’s push along.
1..Signal – Opening up the album is a dance track which has elements of tropical and EDM but feels R&B-like. I thought that is a rather interesting combination. Starting off the song, there was a seductive nature, which I think would make this a great performance song. I thought the pre-chorus was awesome, particularly the vocals at this moment. Overall, I thought the song was really impressive, with the chorus kicking it up a notch. Also, I really liked the final section with the instrumental feeling more dynamic here than any part of the song. The rapping is also quite commendable in this song. (8/10)
3. Polaris (북극성) – I personally do not have much to comment on in regards to this song. It had a slow jazzy ballad type of instrumental, which I thought was cool. The verses do a good job of showcasing the vocals. The chorus had a nice soothing vibe, with the falsetto in the latter half of the chorus, complimenting the jazzy sound. The raps were really well done (especially since rapping isn’t commonly associated with this type of music). (8/10)
4. ylenoL – The bright and upbeat nature of the makes this song really unique and stand out for me. I thought the instrumental which felt groovy yet jagged, which gave the song some interesting textures. The title of the song is ‘Lonely’ spelt backwards. I thought that was rather interesting, as the word tends to have a negative connotation. But being spelt backwards, it flips its definition in the opposite direction, leading to this positive atmosphere. The ‘Lonely’ hook as also quite catchy, and the vocals/raps were quite cool. (9/10)
5. Gravity and Moon (중력달) – Can we take a moment to appreciate how smooth Ren’s vocals are in this song? I thought that was a nice element. Apart from the vocals in the song, I thought it was rather typical. The instrumental didn’t really feel like it stood out on the album. Other than that, I thought how the lyrics complimented the title was nice. I did like the ‘Singing’ hook in the song (for the time being) but it is the type that can easily become annoying if you do not control the number of replays. (7.5/10)
6. Shadow – The album ends on an appealing song. There was a groovy vibe to the song with its fast-paced tempo standing out. I also thought the slowdown during the bridge was nice, along with the launch back into the chorus. I found the combination between the vocals/raps and instrumental to be quite dynamic. I really like the way Baekho sings ‘Shadow’ and the raps that were delivered by both Aron and JR. I would like to point out that the instrumental of this song is quite like HOTSHOT’s Jelly (only during chorus). I liked both songs but I am not too sure about the technicalities of this situation. (9/10)
After topping the charts with their previous comeback, NU’EST W has returned to do it all over again. The subunit makes their return with their second mini-album, WHO YOU, and the title track Deja Vu. In preparation for their comeback, I noticed their fans have been actively streaming their past hits such as Where You At and Yeobseyo (Hello). The music video for this comeback was also released later than 6PM KST, for unknown reasons (or at least, I don’t know why).
Deja Vu is another song adding to the growing list of Latin pop songs. However, it is unlike any other Latin pop song. Instead, there is a particular feel to the song that makes it unique. It might because it uses various synths that also makes it feel like it mashed into EDM somewhat. Or rather the chorus isn’t overloaded with bass or an explosive drop, allowing the guitar to feature more prominently. I really like the melody to the song and the instrumental of the song. I thought the vocals were really nice, especially when they perform in an almost high pitch during the chorus. I thought JR’s rap was good but I think his section could have had a little more momentum for the better. Overall, the song does standout due to its sound and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I have no clue on what is going on in this video which is a common occurrence nowadays. And as much as I try to understand the video, they just keep throwing more things at me to confuse me even more. However, that intrigues me a lot more and would love to hear some of the theories of the video. My gut instinct says that this video is connected to some of their past videos due to the presence of the sword and some of the sets. But I am not sure if this is even remotely correct. Other than the plotline, there are some other details which I liked. For example, the fake rooftop where we saw their silhouettes dancing and the very start where they are all dancing the same moves (just in different areas). It all looked cool.
I really liked the start of the performance where they are doing the same moves (there is something so graceful about that short period) and when they start singing (i.e. JR’s moment in the first verse with Aron interacting with him, moving to JR interacting with Ren). I also liked the slow footwork throughout the performance, which was emphasised greatly in the music video.
Song – 8.5/10 Music Video – 8.5/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.6/10
Writing this review, I had a brainwave. A young goat is called a kid. So is the young girl (which we can refer to as a young kid) in the video the goat?
Slowly getting around to doing some more album reviews that I thought I should have done but missed because of my heavy study load. I think I am only doing 2 (this one and another one at a later date) because December is gearing up to be a busy month. NU’EST W’s first major release, W, HERE, was released in October and earned them their first win in their career! Congratulations! It goes to show how exponential their growth has been in the last few months. But as you may know, this is an album review, so let’s start cracking.
1..My Beautiful – To me, this track felt one of those upbeat ballads. But it was still relatively slow. It is the one track that I didn’t really care for on this album, due to its lack of colour. There didn’t seem to be much of a build-up, resulting it in remaining in a neutral stance. Vocals and raps were okay but they aren’t really showcased in the track. (6/10)
3. Paradise (Ren Solo) – Paradise is the first of the four tracks that start displaying the solo capabilities of each member, which I think it is a very smart move by the producers/company. I have never paid much attention to Ren, so I don’t know how he fared in the past. However, this solo track does a good job at highlighting his vocals. It was a nice pop song with a great buildup. The drop was just underwhelming and this had a negative impact on the track, in my opinion. (7/10)
4. Good Love (Aron Solo) – Good Love is a RnB track that is overloaded with synths. I like how the chorus becomes fast pace, giving the song some contrast with the slower verses. I also really like how he delivered his lines in the track, particularly that section mid-way through the song. Overall, the track was quite enjoyable to listen to. (8/10)
5. With (JR Solo) – Those who know me knows that I am not much of a fan of rap songs. But JR’s track is super cool. He starts off by whispering his lines, creating suspense. I really like the piano in the background and alongside JR’s rapping, the song becomes interesting and impactful. The chorus gives it a more epic feel. The only negative about the song has to be its length. (9/10)
6. Thankful For You (지금까지 행복했어요) (Baekho Solo) – Baekho is the main vocalist of NU’EST and like most main vocalists, he goes down the ballad route. But it is a really good ballad. At first, I thought the song would not really get anywhere and remain neutral. However, once the song hits the bridge, the violins did an amazing job at picking up the song. Baekho does a pretty good job as well, incorporating his emotions into his vocals, giving off a heartfelt appeal. (8/10)
After gaining a considerably large following through their Produce 101 Season 2 days, NU’EST is officially back with Where You At. Despite this, however, the group is unable to make a comeback with all 5 members (Minhyun was chosen to be in Wanna One). Instead, the remaining 4 members have formed a subunit, NU’EST W. This also marks the group’s first return since Love Paint last year. Where You At is an incredibly strong song that the welcomes NU’EST W back to the stage.
Where You At is an incredibly strong song that the welcomes NU’EST W back to the stage. The song starts off with a strong beat, which does leave you a little towards the edge of your seat. Then we approach the first half of the chorus. The slow-paced and ‘stripping of the instrumental’ caught me off guard. I was expecting a massive drop but instead, they chose to delay that. And that delay made everything sound ten times better once the real drop came. It definitely gave the song more intensity and power that way. And made the song more appealing. Their vocals are pretty good and the rapping was on point. And while I do praise the song, I feel like there could have been more to verses to match that same level of impact. The verses become forgotten in the midst of the chorus, so that is why I am suggesting that. But overall, the entire song just blows me away every time I listen to it (and it has been replayed many times despite its release 3 hours ago).
Following their past videos, the accompanying music is definitely made to be aesthetic and there seems to be some sort of plotline mixed within the video. While I should read the lyrics, my initial assessment of the storyline is that the members are all one person and they seem to be held captive by the demon (the lady), who may represent their ex (or something like that). Every time they manage to escape, however, she manages to recapture them and make it harder for them to escape (i.e. Aron had access to the key at the start but the end, there was no key in the draw). That is just what I saw and there could have been many other clues hidden throughout. The camera work in this video is amazing and it contributes to the aesthetics that I was mentioning about. It is definitely a video to check out for.
[Updated] I will be honest. The song is so good that I pay attention to it more than anything else. Personally, it is another great dance that sums the epicness felt from the drops of the song. Best part was that drop just before the chorus.
Song – 8.5/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 8/10 [Updated] Overall Rating – 8.5/10 [Updated]
NU’EST returned earlier in the year with Overcame. I haven’t heard anything from the group since then, so this introduction will be very small. Now, they have returned (unexpectedly) with Love Paint and their fifth mini album.
I am still warming up to this song. I am going to be honest, my views on the song could change in a few days. I just thought it was an odd mix of sounds. The classical start and the mix of electronic sounds had me cringing. The chorus caught me off guard and I was wondering where they were going with this. But listening to it a few times, I feel like the song taps into what the whole concept was about and what they are singing about. The song was as if it was a canvas and the sounds (along with the vocals and the raps) were like that paint. The track is quite artistic. Didn’t appreciate at first, but I do see it (well, hear it) more clearly. I do like the chorus quite a bit now and I am in love with the instrumental. I would have loved to hear more that classical start throughout the song. The song was mainly an EDM-based song afterwards, with a small hint of classical. It probably would have made the artistic feel I felt more apparent sooner. But nonetheless, I don’t mind the song at all now. I am just not 100% committed to it (yet). The vocals were okay, but I love Baekho’s vocals for the chorus. Very strong and matches the instrumental quite well.
The music video has a nice artistic vibe to it. It is a tad boring. Let’s start off with the choreography shots. I am quite a minimalistic person when it comes to these things. Simple is always better than over doing it. Them dancing shots were pretty nice. Dark room, with a few lights in the back and the guys at the centre of attention. What more do you need? I would really love it if a dance version came out (like right now) for my (and your viewing pleasure). The literal camera shots filmed at an angle and spinning around gives off that nice minimalistic vibe but emphasises the artistic side of the video. As for the rest of the video, I had no idea what was going on. From what I could tell from the video, there isn’t a plot. It is more like the guys are thinking about their love. I would have liked it if the video was more interesting somehow. It would give me something to speak about and at the same time, make me go back to the video more times to try and appreciate it even more.
Not really impressed with the choreography. It looked pretty cool in the video, but on the stage, it is quite lacking and dull. There really is no memorable bits at all and I am a little disappointed. It might stem from the fact that there is nothing in the song that really acts as a “hook” (well, at least that is what I see). I think I just play the performances on YouTube, just to listen to the song (in this case).