ONEUS made their comeback last Monday with their 9th mini-album PYGALMON and their latest lead single, ERASE ME. This is the male group’s first release since September’s 2022 MALUS and Same Scent. It is also the group’s first official comeback as a five member group, following Ravn’s hiatus and subsequent departure during and after Same Scent/MALUS‘ promotion. As part of the promotions of new mini-album, ONEUS did pre-release a side track, titled UNFORGETTABLE. I have yet to review that single, but will definitely do so in the future ahead of PYGALMON‘s album review.

There is a fair lot going on in ERASE ME and I will admit that it was quite overwhelming the first couple of listens. But a week on from ERASE ME‘s release, the track has definitely grown on me a fair bit. The idea with having a strong and dramatic orchestral influence in combination with the synths was a really amazing idea. The intensity was definitely gripping and made for a unique listening experience. The jerkiness of instrumental, especially around the choruses, might be a bit unlikeable to some (and I can completely understand why!). But I personally thought the jerkiness nature of ERASE ME was a charming aspect of the song. The boldness of the synths used in the chorus probably contributed that overwhelming impression I mentioned at the start of the review, but it does now leave a more memorable impression now. As for the members, they did a decent job. Seoho with his piercing high note at the start of the final chorus and Xion’s lower and huskier tone that opened up the second chorus were probably my favourite aspects of ERASE ME. On the other hand, Leedo and Hwanwoong’s rapping was underbaked for such an intense song and their rapping segments could have used some oomph to bring to the same level of boldness as the instrumentation. ERASE ME also lacked a strong melody and hook, but I think the instrumental just took away any opportunity for something strong to develop in these departments. We do have a “Da Da Da” hook and some pop melodies that were promising, but something more striking could have been delivered in this song. Overall, I like the direction taken by, and the final product that is, ERASE ME. But I think improvements to the song could have made it even better.

To say the music video was stunning would be a complete understatement. While it is just choreography and closeup shots, every single shot and scene just leaves such a strong visual impression on you. The quality was so crisp and the members looked so good because of this. The clever cinematography and lighting definitely emphasised the boldness of the music and made me go wow on so many occasions. The concrete stairs and the dance break sequence of the song/music video were prime examples of these moments. The colour palette was rather limited, but the producers did an amazing job of ensuring that those colours look so fresh and stimulating. Whatever RBW is doing here needs to be replicated across all of their music videos in the future because it makes the entire video dynamic.

It should come as no surprise that such a song like ERASE ME would lend towards a very strong performance. ONEUS definitely delivers this and shows off their performance skills with such an intense and complex routine, as a whole. However, I just cannot commit to saying that this is their most impressive effort to date. But don’t get me wrong, the choreography for ERASE ME is definitely up there.

Song – 8.5/`10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.1/10

[Album Review] MALUS (8th Mini Album) – ONEUS

ONEUS is one of the many artists whose album I look forward to. Their most recent one is a decent one. ONEUS’ 8th mini-album, MALUS, is their most recent one and was released early September 2022. This is the group’s final release to feature main rapper Ravn, who voluntary left the group at the end of October following some controversary. MALUS features the title track Same Scent (in both Korean and English), an introductory track and four additional side tracks. This mini-album follows ONEUS’ earlier comeback with Bring It On and TRICKSTER.

MALUS Album Cover

1. Intro: Eden – Kicking off the mini-album is Eden, which serves as the mini-album’s introductory track. The instrumental to Eden is quite a beautiful one, starting off with some stilling piano, before electronic elements are brought in to create quite an atmospheric and scene-setting piece that leads quite well into the title track. The members do a neat job in the intro, as well. (8/10)

2. Same Scent (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Same Scent. (8/10)

4. STUPID LOVE – Following the title track is STUPID LOVE, which brings forth a pop-rock colour to the album with its instrumental. The highlight of STUPID LOVE has to be the surprising rock centric chorus, which steals the show for me. While the verses do hint towards the pop rock direction, I just like how much more intense the chorus got. The crunchy electric guitar and consistent foot-tapping beat somehow catches me off guard (in a good way). (9/10)

4. Gravitation (두 눈 빠지도록) – Swapping out the electric guitar for acoustics is Gravitation, which is an amazing ballad piece. The vocals were stunning and so emotionally charged, especially with the high notes we get at the end of the choruses. The rapping from both Leedo and Ravn were weaved in so well and didn’t take us away from the balladry feels of Gravitation. You know I like my ballads, and this one definitely hit the right spot for me. (10/10)

    5. Mermaid – In a further change to the album’s sound, Mermaid opts for more upbeat vibes, opting for some bass and retro pop. I like how the track doesn’t hold back and gets right to it, with the bass and retro touches coming right to the front of the song. I did find the vocals to be a bit distant (the bass might be the cause of this) but the members still put in a lot of effort to make sure they were heard. It doesn’t hurt the song terribly and it is a fun listen nonetheless. (8/10)

      6. FULL MOON (원어스)FULL MOON brings forth sensual vibes throughout the track through the R&B genre that the song falls under. But it isn’t just a simple R&B song. No, FULL MOON throws in a lot more than just sensual R&B vibes. Trap elements come into play as part of the chorus, giving a tonne of texture to the song. Ravn explodes during the second verse to give us a powerful rap sequence. And I think we get touches of traditional Korean instrumental in the bridge. The most surprising element comes from the rappers (both Leedo and Ravn) who really showed of their vocals in the pre-choruses, catching me guard and forcing me to replay the song time and time again so I can relive their pre-chorus vocals. (9/10)

      7. Same Scent (English Version) – Refer to my review of the Korean version of Same Scent above.

      Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

      MALUS Teaser Image

      [Review] Same Scent – ONEUS

      The other comeback to start of this week is ONEUS’ newest single Same Scent and the group’s eighth mini-album, Malus. This release follows the group’s last comeback from earlier in the year, Bring It On, which was released back in May. I very recently reviewed that release’s mini-album (TRICKSTER) which proved to be a big hit in my books. It won’t be a while before I find time to review Malus. So for now, here is my review for Same Scent.

      ONEUS goes for more of a restrained dance track in Same Scent. They are probably more well known for releasing songs, at the moment, that are more ‘in-your-face’ (i.e. Bring It On). But their own repertoire also includes singles that feel more held back (i.e. A Song Written Easily from 2019), and it is this style which Same Scent would fall under. There isn’t anything wrong with this style of music, especially since Same Scent feels aesthetic in its own way and brings out a refined maturity. This alone makes the song quite attractive to me. There is an airiness to the pre-chorus that I quite liked, and the contrast between airiness and Same Scent‘s choruses was quite profound. The vocal work feels smooth and I really liked how the lyrics just glide along during certain parts of Same Scent. The ad-libs were also quite cool. My only concern about Same Scent is that it doesn’t feel like ONEUS did much in it. The chorus is largely empty, with Same Scent relying on the tropical synths to do most of the talking (again nothing wrong with this, especially since I enjoyed the way Same Scent sounded – I am just more concerned that ONEUS didn’t really get a chance to showcase more of their talents in the song compared to previously). We do get a bit of lyrics in the choruses towards the end of the sections, but they aren’t exactly the most memorable hooks. The first verse was also largely unmemorable, as well. But at least the second verse had some strong rapping, particularly Leedo who starts off soft but builds his sequence as it goes on. Ravn’s autotuned follow up and bridge sequence was probably the song’s most textural component. Overall, a pleasing song. But I would have liked ONEUS to have been a bit more robust (in a fitting way) in this song.

      The music video doesn’t really add much to this comeback, if I am being honest. It captures of some that aesthetic that I mentioned in the song, with smoother and slowed down choreography shots. And you could argue that some of the solo close ups might also capture some of the aesthetic. But I felt the choreography sets were confined or too dark. Sure, they give off some mature vibes. But not enough for me to really say much about it. The scenes where the members are dancing in a shallow pool of water was probably the coolest aspect of the music video. And while it did have a refreshing vibe as we haven’t seen this recently, it isn’t innovative nor groundbreaking.

      With a mature sound like Same Scent, I am glad their performance stage picks up on this. There is a subtle sensual vibe to the choreography that works well with the song and even their attire at their showcase stage brings more of that sensual energy. There was also a subtle intensity in the chorus routine, which I found to be quite satsifying to watch.

      Song – 8/10
      Music Video – 6/10
      Performance – 8/10
      Overall Rating – 7.4/10

      [Album Review] TRICKSTER (7th Mini Album) – ONEUS

      September will be one big month for this blog as I make an attempt to catch up on album reviews (and other song reviews). My plan is to publish a few album reviews during the week, in addition to reviewing multiple albums over the weekend (like this past weekend). First up in this mammoth task is ONEUS, who previously returned in May with their 7th mini-album, TRICKSTER. Headlining the album was Bring It On. This mini-album precedes the group’s next comeback, MALUS, which is scheduled for 5 September (i.e. next week).

      ONEUS really delivered with the powerful and punchy tracks that form the TRICKSTER mini-album. If you ever want something super intense, boastful and/or fierce, just tune into a ONEUS album. Chances are, you will satisfy your craving. It is quite interesting, as the group also stands out for their more delicate title tracks (see LUNA or A Song Written Easily). Goes to show that ONEUS is an all rounder group. Overall, TRICKSTER is another strong release from the group and it makes me eagerly await for their comeback next week.

      TRICKSTER Album Cover

      1. Intro: Who Got The Joker? – This intro track starts off like any introductory track. Dramatic synths, suspenseful vocals and dynamic rapping. However, when we get to the chorus of Who Got The Joker?, the track steps it up. It brings forward rock influences and gives us a taste to the intensity that is to follow through the rest of the mini-album. Ravn’s lurching ‘Who Got The Joker’ was impressive and I sense a subtle growl to that line’s delivery. This introductory track earns a massive wow from me. (9/10)

      2. Bring It On (덤벼) (Title Track)Click here for the full review for Bring It On. (8.5/10)

      3. Skydivin – ONEUS jumps on the pop rock train with Skydivin, and it is another massive yes from me. Skydivin comes off as a Summery track with the vibrant and refreshing tones present. As for the pop rock influences, ONEUS went in really hard with it. Said influences gave the song so much texture and oomph, especially during the chorus. The drumming left me stunned (in a good way). The vocals were clear as day and the rapping were dynamic and fun to listen to. (10/10)

      4. Firebomb (두 눈 빠지도록) Firebomb is another vibrant track added to the group’s portfolio. This is a lot heavier (thank the bass!) and falls into the realm of a dance track that we have associated with ONEUS. It starts off like any other dance track, but the chorus is where Firebomb really sets it apart from the rest. The squeaky brass synth that dominates the chorus is definitely an ear-catching piece and gives the song an interesting vibe. The bass helps add definition to the song, and the pair comes together to create a very vivid and robust number. The vocals and rapping were quite expressive and adds a further layer of ‘interesting’ to the song. (9/10)

      5. Fragile (취급주의) – In the midst of dance tracks, there is always a need for a ballad or similar track to the same effect for some reason. For TRICKSTER, Fragile is that. However, it isn’t a ballad. It is more of a R&B track, with a hefty beat and bass to it. The rest of the instrumentation is pretty typical for a R&B track. I liked the upfront vocals and rapping in Fragile. They really drove Fragile forward and gave the song a neat melody to groove your body around. Overall, a decent but typical track. (7/10)

      6. Mr. Wolf – The final original song on the album is titled Mr. Wolf. It is by far the most unique track, pulling its inspiration from a childhood game ‘What’s the time Mr. Wolf?’. Oh, the memories are rushing back. From the very first second, the song sets it up as a suspenseful and dramatic song, and I liked that they maintained that throughout the song. You don’t really know exactly which direction Mr. Wolf would go in, so you have to be a bit cautious. Mr. Wolf does give a few surprises, such as the heavy thumping in the midst of the verses, the simple yet highly effective ‘Na Na Na’ hook, the hollow synths used for the dance break, the screams and even a wolf growl. The rapping and vocals kept the song dynamic and were on point. (10/10)

      7. Bring It On (English Version) – Refer to the link above for the full review for Bring It On.

      Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

      TRICKSTER Teaser Image

      [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] Bring It On – ONEUS

      Earlier this week, ONEUS also joined the growing list of May comebacks with their seventh mini-album, Trickster, and the title track Bring It On. This is the group’s first comeback since LUNA from November of last year. It also comes after the group embarked on their second U.S. tour, which occurred earlier this year.

      Bring It On returns ONEUS to their more powerful and boisterous side that the group has previously done in past singles such as No Diggity and TO BE OR NOT TO BE. I quite like it that Bring It On hits hard in the second half of the choruses and doesn’t hold back. The first run of the second half of the choruses was made more satisfying following what I would describe as a fine first verse and first half of chorus. Leedo’s deep and aggressive rapping style is so fitting for their powerful sound and the vocals that followed were pretty solid. But the instrumental in the verses and first half of the chorus of Bring It On held itself back a bit too much for my liking and felt tamer than what it potentially could have been. I felt that it could have been a bit harder hitting, but still manage to deliver the same satisfying blastful effect once the second half of the chorus came around. Following the first chorus, I was a bit let down with Seoho’s autotuned rap lines. The autotune sequence weakened the structure of Bring It On and felt unnecessary in this already aggressive song. It should have skipped right into Ravn’s solo rap sequence instead, which picked the song back up for me. Bring It On then repeats the pre-chorus of solid vocals and the chorus as it was the first time around. As for the bridge of Bring It On, the producers opted for a touch of smoothness, before amping the song back up with some rock influences (loved it), and then redelivering the second half of the chorus as above twice in a row to close out Bring It On. I did wish Bring It On had some stronger hooks and the melodies were more memorable. But the booming second half of the chorus definitely helps make Bring It On memorable.

      The music video did a great job of encapsulating that aggressive and powerful nature of the song, translating it into an edgy and somewhat dark concept. Plot-wise, I have no clue with what is going on, especially with all the games of choice. The trailers before this music video do feature them and appears more thriller-like, tense and suspenseful (highly recommend you watch them), which is totally my jam. I just cannot decipher the plot or the message behind the video. I am also unsure whether the actual music video continues the story or not. But still a cool standalone music video to watch.

      The stronger moments within the choreography come naturally during the song’s most intense moments (i.e. the second half of the choruses, the rock sequences in the bridge and the final chorus sequence of Bring It On). The chemistry with the camera and the footwork stands out for me during these parts, and the helps makes the entire performance worthwhile to watch.

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

      [Album Review] BLOOD MOON (6th Mini Album) – ONEUS

      ONEUS is nominated for Best Male Group and Most Underrated Artist, Best Outfits (for Black Mirror) and Best Electronic Song (for No Diggity) in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support ONEUS by clicking here to vote for them today(!) as this is the last day in which you can vote!

      For the final review of the year, I have elected to review ONEUS’ November album release, BLOOD MOON. I chose BLOOD MOON to be the final review of the year based on the fact that LUNA was such an amazing title track and comeback (based on my personal thoughts – you can read more of my thoughts on the comeback in the full review that I have linked below in the body of the review). I personally felt this held a lot of promise for their album. Well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but based on my personal thoughts it seems like BLOOD MOON is exactly what I had expected. Alongside the title track LUNA, the album also features the tracks Life Is Beautiful and Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot (which were released as part of the ONEUS Theatre series), a very captivating intro track and an additional three new songs from the group. So without further ado and for the final time in 2021, here is the album review!

      BLOOD MOON Album Cover

      1. Intro: Window (창 (窓))Window hits hard as an intro track. It blends together the traditional oriental sound, with modern day trap to create a powerful, memorable and unique opener to the album. Choi Ye Rim, a Korean traditional musician, provides the song with the folksy vocals from traditional Korean music, and her presence was extremely strong and riveting. ONEUS brings rap and performance to make Window high intensity and bold opener to the album. (9/10)

      2. LUNA (월하미인 (月下美人 : LUNA)) (Title Track)Click here for LUNA’s full review. (9/10)

      3. Yes or No (사랑의 결말은 모 아니면 도)Yes or No is fun and upbeat change to the album’s sound. For the most part, I quite liked it. The instrumental has this summery vibe to it, thanks to the brass elements within Yes or No. The chorus was quite catchy and there was good energy coming from the chorus. The vocal work is pretty good, and the rapping added a bit of heaviness and edgy vibe to the song. However, I wished the producers omitted the xylophone taps, as it heavily weighs down the quality of Yes or No. Firstly, I felt they were a distraction from the song and its reemergence on a regular basis was quite annoying. Secondly, I am not sure what value or purpose they had in Yes or No. Thirdly, it added a monotonous element to the song, which went against the rest of the song. It was a flaw in the song that had a big impact in the end. (8/10)

      4. Life Is BeautifulClick here for Life Is Beautiful’s full review. (9.5/10)

      5. Shut Up 받고 Crazy HotClick here for Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot’s full review. (9/10)

      6. We’re In Love (헤엄쳐) We’re In Love was an extremely nice pop track. The entire track was pretty standard and didn’t offer anything innovative. But it manages to tick the box for sounding good and I also felt that We’re in Love was a breezy listen. I can imagine blasting this song on a road trip when the weather is perfectly sunny. The vocal work was great and helped made We’re In Love feel bright and positive, while the rapping helped give the song an electrifying zing and more energy to make it lively. (8.5/10)

      7. Who You AreWho You Are is a R&B track. It too is a bit standard in terms of instrumentation, but I felt that Who You Are is a polished ender to the album. The instrumental was smooth and it had an appealing vibe to it. The song itself shows off the team’s vocals abilities, especially as they soar as the song progresses. (8/10)

      Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

      BLOOD MOON Teaser Image

      [Review] Life is Beautiful – ONEUS

      There will always be a bit of time jumping for me, with the next release on the reviewing block coming out a month after BDC’s MOON WALKER (which I just reviewed). But there is another reason why I want to cover ONEUS’ Life Is Beautiful over many others today. For those who may not be aware, ONEUS is making a comeback (tomorrow in fact), and I wanted to review this particular release before their next comeback. So essentially, the deadline for this review is tonight. Life Is Beautiful is the second release in the ONEUS Theatre series, following Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot!.

      Add why I hadn’t reviewed Life Is Beautiful sooner to the list of world mysteries out there because even I cannot figure out why I completed passed over the opportunity to review this amazing release much closer to its original release date. I freaking enjoyed Life Is Beautiful‘s refreshing tone and its breeziness, which doubles as a great Summer release. It is also a very soothing and calming pop track that I just want to continually go back to. Just listening to the song brings a smile to my face, and I quite liked that in a song. Compared to what ONEUS usually puts out, Life Is Beautiful is very different. Not only does this release steer away from the group’s heavy dependence on synths in their title tracks, but the pop song is also light, extremely pleasant and quite upbeat. It is pretty much a straightforward song in retrospect, staying quite consistent from one end to the next. But is that an issue in Life Is Beautiful? I don’t think so. There are a few standout moments in the instrumental. The guitars in the second verse felt so right and the flutes used in the song’s post-chorus instrumental hook were fun and added so much colour to the song. Otherwise, all the descriptors that I started off within this paragraph can be applied to the rest of the song’s backing. When it comes to the chorus, I loved the melodically driven approach that the pop sound enables. The melody is charming and exudes that happy feeling that the song is effortlessly conveying to the listener. Their vocals bring this to life and they sound so good, highlighting their vocal versatility. The English lines in the chorus were very catchy and addictive to listen to. Even the rapping we get in Life Is Beautiful works really well. I do wish there was some sort of peak in the song. I felt like that was the only thing that was missing and would have made the song less consistent (not that was an issue in this particular track). Overall, Life Is Beautiful is almost a perfect song that I want to continually listen to.

      As mentioned previously, the music videos released as part of ONEUS Theatre are based on movies. For Life Is Beautiful, the inspiration for this video was the movie Dead Poet’s Society. I personally haven’t watched the movie, but upon some reading of its themes (you can get a sense of those themes by reading the plotline of the movie on Wikipedia), you can definitely tell that they were carried throughout the lyrics and scenes of the video. The members played students in what seems to be an uptight school. They are taught the exact same thing as the movie’s main character had taught his students – ”Carpe diem”, which is Latin for ‘seize the day’ (i.e. make the most of present-day). And we see that when the members enjoy their time with one another on the beach and by the sea. I liked the camera work for most of the video (sans the shaky camera work for the indoor choreography scenes), especially the drone used to capture footage as the members dance. It made the video seem more epic and amazing.

      From what I can see from the music video, the choreography looks pretty good. I liked the way it captured the energy of the song, along with the song’s breeziness. It might not be as complex as their other tracks but I think the group managed to find an amazing balance of their skills for this song.

      Song – 9.5/10
      Music Video – 9/10
      Performance – 8/10
      Overall Rating – 9.1/10

      [Review] Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! – ONEUS

      For me, the next release came out of the blue. I was not aware of that ONEUS would be returning to us with a new series, ONEUS Theatre. From what I can gather, this isn’t a formal comeback. Rather ONEUS will be release some old songs that the group that the group have not formally released yet, and will be seeking influences from famous movies for the music video. The first song in the ONEUS Theatre series is Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot!. This new release comes after two comebacks from the group, No Diggity and BLACK MIRROR from earlier in the year.

      Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! is quite a robust and hefty release. And it is releases like this that feels quite satisfying to listen to. Compared to the original (performed at their debut concert in 2019), this newer version of the song is more amplified and I find that it uplifts the song to be more energetic and aligned with ONEUS’ recent comebacks. It starts off with a playful vibe brought to us via some piano, which is over the top of some intense underlay. The piano is maintained in chorus, which showcases both intensity and that same playful vibe. The chorus is also chanty, and the combination of instrumentation and chanty style chorus produced a really fun and addictive centre piece for the song. I really liked how the blended in the chorus outro into the actual body of the chorus. It was an awkward segment in the original version, for me at least. For the verses, Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! diverts into two directions. The rappers maintain that intensity I mentioned before, allowing them to showcase a tough and edgy vibe via their deeper tones. The vocalists bring more of that lightheartedness to the song, via the pop tunes that form the background of their segments. It is interesting because I never find the two segments of the song too conflicting. And as the chorus of Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! shows, the two directions can be merged together very well. I also like how the bridge goes from being slowed down into a very bold and theatrical instrumental piece that concentrates the entirety of Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! with a few seconds. Overall, Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! is a great release in addition to their main title tracks.

      The music video for this release is actually a performance video, rather than your standard music video. So the choreography would be the main focus. But I will talk about that in the next paragraph. As mentioned at the start of this review, ONEUS Theatre video’s will be based on famous movies. Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot!‘s video is based on the Mad Max series. The video’s location (sandy desert) was great choice and I liked how the props and outfit did give off the Mad Max vibes. I also felt that it also really highlighted an edgy vibe for the group. I do wish they didn’t use the tan coloured add-ons. It doesn’t look good and felt tacky. I also wished the male dancers were not in such ripped shirts. It looked terrible and felt out of placed in this video, considering ONEUS and the female dancers wore outfits that were not ripped to shreds to the extent of male dancers. I also don’t like the use of the drones in this music video. Those shots were too fast and extreme for my liking. This might just be me nitpicking, but these were thoughts that I had while watching the video for the first time last night.

      Choreography-wise, I think Shut Up 받고 Crazy Hot! had a great routine. It is a completely different routine to what they previously performed with. And I find this new version of the choreography does a good job of matching the energy of the song. The previous version felt dulled and lacked energy.

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

      [Album Review] BINARY CODE (5th Mini Album) – ONEUS

      I have returned with another album review. I made a list of albums I want to review and I still have a lot to catch up on – 17 to be exact. So I will return with another intensive album review weekend in a couple of weeks to help knock off some more album reviews (and it will be more intensive this time around)! But that doesn’t mean I will hold onto any until then, as it is back to the usual transmission of reviews. In this post, I will be reviewing ONEUS’ fifth mini-album, BINARY CODE, which features the title track BLACK MIRROR. It was released mid-May of this year, over two months ago (sorry once again for the long delays). This is the group’s first comeback since the release of their first studio album DEVIL and the track No Diggity at the start of this year.

      BINARY CODE Album Cover

      1. BLACK MIRROR (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review of BLACK MIRROR. (8.5/10)

      2. Connect With USConnect With US is the extended version of the outro of the same name from the group’s first studio album. It doesn’t offer anything more than what we heard in the outro. And so my comments from that album review stands (i.e. pop-aligned, flowy and melodic). Regarding its placement on this mini-album, it feels like a step back. We got a strong and dynamic track to open the album. But following that track, I felt the album could have continued the momentum of the opener, and not with Connect With US (which should have been lower down on the tracklist). (8/10)

      3. Polarity (울과 기름) – I think an up-tempo track would have a nice follow-up to the title track. And I feel that Polarity would have been a good contender. It bridges the space between the first two songs on the spectrum. It has a decent mid-tempo pop pace that brings down the energy from BLACK MIRROR, but also suits the pleasantry of the Connect With US. But I did think the start of the song was rather flat. But once we reach the chorus, the song had picked up and the ball was rolling, Polarity was a decent track. Nice vocals and rapping in the song, as well. (8/10)

      4. Happy BirthdayHappy Birthday doesn’t make me feel like I have aged a year (which is a good thing – I feel old now, especially as I see groups with members born after 2000). I liked how this song turned out. I have a big thing for being unique and I feel that Happy Birthday fits that brief. It isn’t a straight-forward song, with the instrumentation taking you on a wild ride with the synths and textures that make up its background. It isn’t a consistent mix like most instrumentals, so there is always something different around every corner of this song. When it comes to the rapping, I liked how dynamic those sections felt. For the vocals, I really like the vocalists delivered the song’s title. The elongation of the title, and the tiniest tinge of vibration was quite cool and memorable. Personally, my favourite side track on this album. (10/10)

      5. Valkyrie (발키리) (Rock Version) – I always had a feeling that a rock version of the track would appear. Just surprised it took over 2 years. Click here to read my full review of Valkyrie. (9/10)

      Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

      BINARY CODE Teaser Image

      [Review] BLACK MIRROR – ONEUS

      While I need to catch up on reviews for songs released many weeks ago, I also need to do some catching up on some new releases from this week. First up is ONEUS, who returned on Tuesday with their new single BLACK MIRROR. This new single is featured on the group’s fifth mini-album, Binary Code. This comeback follows ONEUS’ recent return with their first studio album, Devil, and its lead single, No Diggity.

      BLACK MIRROR adds itself to the re-emerged trend in KPOP of groovy and funky songs. It also continues what was set up through the release of BBUYSEO (a digital single released by the group at the end of 2020 and featured as part of the Devil album). BLACK MIRROR ticks everything that is quite common in this class of songs, aside from the brass component that I enjoyed as part of BBUYSEO. I am a bit disheartened that it was left out of this song. But at the same time, I feel that BLACK MIRROR does a good job of maintaining that level of funk without using brass. Instead, the funkiness and grooviness comes prominently through the use of the deep rythmic guitars and disco-sounding synths. I particularly enjoyed the stripped back formula of the first half of the chorus (i.e. the ‘dudududu‘ part) and how it slowly builds back to the wholesome and upbeat vibes of the second half of the chorus, which felt substantial and fulfilling. The ‘dudududu‘ part was also super catchy, and in combination with the instrumentation, we got a really nice sleekness to the song. Once again, ONEUS showcases strong vocals and rapping throughout the song. I felt this was most evident in the bridge of the song, which had a vocal and a rap half. The latter half really caught my attention. Leedo and Ravn’s deep and raspy voices, along with the energy that really throw behind their delivery, gave the song that extra oomph I wanted. I wished their rapping parts earlier in the song shared more of that same intensity. Overall, I think BLACK MIRROR is an awesome song from ONEUS. I don’t think this is my favourite track from them, but I still find it enjoyable and filled with great energy!

      What I really liked about this music video are the sets and the member’s outfits. The black and white sets look really stylish and simple. The light does wonders and really opens up the music video in a physical sense. I also like how the coloured sets don’t really give the video that vibrancy colour tends to beings to music video. Instead, it feels as if the colours in the sets are somehow blended with the other black and white, and you don’t really pick up on a difference. I also like the sets with the mirrors which the reflections are doing somehting else. Gave the video a sense of creepiness, which I thought was a nice contrast to their upbeat vibes! I also liked the outfits the members wore. They too tap into the black and white domain, but the white is more sparkly rather than straight white. Also this comeback is meant to have a Michael Jackson influence, and I feel that the outfits are the best example of this influence coming through. The black and white colours and the sparkly glove are all portrayed in some capacity in their outfits. Also the hats as well!

      We got more of that homage to Michael Jackson in the performance. The entire performance defintiely screamed MJ in many ways, but I feel that the actual moves/poses were subtle. I wished those moves are a bit more explicitly shown (who doesn’t love a good full-on moonwalk?). However despite that thought pattern, ONEUS held their ground with their take on a choreography to suit those funky and groovy vibes. The ending sequence after the final chorus was definitely amazing to watch. Those bending knees made my ones hurt (and that is just by watching them). I also thought their charisma and stage presence really made it a captivating performance to watch.

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

      [Album Review] DEVIL (1st Studio Album) – ONEUS

      After 2 years in the KPOP industry, ONEUS joins the many artists who have made their comebacks in 2021 with a studio album. Titled DEVIL, ONEUS’s first studio album features 11 tracks, which includes an intro track, the title track No Diggity, the December pre-release single BBUYSEO and an outro track. And for the first time in a while, all 11 tracks will be reviewed! This album continues on from a busy year, with includes the A Song Written Easily and TO BE OR NOT TO BE comebacks and their participation in Road To Kingdom (I know, I keep on bringing it up). But that was last year and we are reviewing a 2021 album. So let’s continue on with the review.

      DEVIL Album Cover

      1. The Devil is in the Detail (Intro Track) – Introductory tracks tend to be instrumentals. But vocals are not uncommon. ONEUS’ introductory track for DEVIL falls into the latter category and it really gives us a taster of what is to follow in this album. Powerful vocals, strong rapping and quite an epic instrumental piece. It starts off as a smooth dance track, but slowly becomes quite choppy as it progresses along thanks to the trickling of EDM. (8/10)

      2. No Diggity (반박불가) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of No Diggity. (8.5/10)

      3. Leftover (식은 음식) Leftover is a pretty straight forward pop track, though with a pitiful take on breakup as its lyrical focus. Don’t let its bright aura and playful tone convince you otherwise. Apart from that, Leftover is quite paced and consistent from start to end. ‘Pleasant at best’ is how I would describe the song. Nothing really sparked my interest in this song musically, aside from Ravn’s rap sequence which managed to briefly infuse some energy into the song. However, that fizzled out before the song could act upon it to potentially enhance itself. (6.5/10)

      4. Incomplete (완벽하지 않아도 괜찮아)Incomplete is a return to form for ONEUS, following the previous song. It is a dance track, detailed with electric guitars that come off atmospheric. I also like how the additional rock band influence comes into play throughout the song and enhances the song a new level of dynamism. Though I feel this could have been taken a step further. I wanted something more along the lines of Ravn’s rap sequences throughout the song. If this was fulfilled, I think Incomplete would have potentially rivalled No Diggity as the title track. The vocal work from the rest of the members was also quite good. Overall, a strong showing from ONEUS in this song. (9/10)

      5. Youth – I just love the pop rock vibes that Youth manages to exude, especially during the pre-choruses sequences. It just makes this song so much more powerful. ONEUS’ delivery in Youth is also expectational, with an amazing high note from Seoho, the falsettos in the pre-choruses, Leedo’s raspy vocals and so much more. Youth is so satisfying and so enjoyable. There is so much to like in this song. Hence it is my choice for hidden gem on this album. (10/10)

      6. BBUYSEO (Pre-release Track) Click here to read the full review of BBUYSEO. (9/10)

      7. Rewind (우리의 시간은 거꾸로 흐른다) – There is a lot going on in Rewind. Every few seconds or so, the song shifts its direction. Interestingly, it isn’t off-putting in any way. I actually like the journey it took me on. From the typical clock ticking to the dubstep to the other EDM influences during the chorus. It was definitely a roller coaster. That being said, Rewind packs a punch, was quite dynamic and showed off the members really well. I guess you could call it a ‘all-in-one’ package. (9.5/10)

      8. Lion Heart Lion Heart’s best attribute was how aggressive it was. You don’t expect it in the opening sequence (I thought the song was going to be bland with that opening). But Lion Heart manages to whip itself around with a really abrasive and deep beat that accompanied Leedo and Ravn’s harsh rapping. It was quickly followed up with a steep incline to the chorus, before we are blast with powerful energy and synths in said chorus. There is more twists and turns in the song as it continued on, all returning to the same bombastic and intense chorus. It is another song that really shows me that ONEUS is at their best in similar high energy and powerful songs. (9.5/10)

      9. What You Doing? – ONEUS answers the trending call to have a funky song on their album with What You Doing? I really like how sleek the first half of the chorus was, before honing home the funkiness in the second half. Unlike the other songs on the album, I did think the vocals were a little weak in this song. They just didn’t have the same level of appeal. But they sounded good. It is a different story with their rapping and the accompanying instrumentals. Definitely more appealing and attractive. (8/10)

      10. I.P.U (눈부시게 빛이 나던 그날)I.P.U (I Promise You) is the closest ONEUS gets to a ballad on this album. Actually, the only similarity between I.P.U and a typical ballad would be the emotional heft you can feel from the song. The vocals definitely evoke some emotion within you as you listen to the song, Aside from that, I.P.U still has a lot of energy from its instrumental, which feels to fall into a band direction. I also suspect synths were used to make the song. Altogether it is a stunning piece. It is another 10/10 from me. (10/10)

      11. Connect With US (Outro Track) – The outro track is very different to anything we have heard thus far on the album. Connect With US is more pop than anything, but I liked how there is some acoustics in it thanks to the guitar. It is also quite melodic and flowy, before a cut in transmission occurs at the end, finishing up both the outro track and album. (8/10)

      Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

      DEVIL / No Diggity Teaser Image

      [Review] No Diggity – ONEUS

      2020 was a big year for ONEUS in terms of promotions. They were definitely busy. The male group started off 2020 with A Song Written Easily and this was promoted whilst the group participated on Road To Kingdom. As part of the Road To Kingdom show, the group dropped their Come Back Home single, which was then followed up with TO BE OR NOT TO BE in August. And unexpectedly, ONEUS dropped BBUYSEO last month as a digital single. And while you would expect ONEUS to finally have a break of some kind, the group announced a 2021 comeback with No Diggity, which is the focus of today’s review. No Diggity is featured on the group’s first studio album, Devil, since their debut in 2019.

      No Diggity is a very powerful song. We are teased with the powerfulness at first via the thumping at the start of the song. But this is just a teaser for what is to come. The song reverts to a more typical hip-hop based dance track, yet with a serious tone and explosive energy as it progresses. What I do like is how they kept that connection with the powerful nature by intensifying the instrumentation with rock vibes. The pre-chorus opt for a very KPOP direction. It was pretty plain and felt like music that I have heard before. On a more positive note, it did show off some vocal flair from Seonho and Leedo though. The chorus takes a turn with what would be accurately described as a noisy and expected drop. We all saw it coming and I don’t really know how to feel about that. I also didn’t enjoy the so-called lyrics to the first half of the chorus (they aren’t words!). It felt like a typical move, though it did show off the song’s intensity without much hinderance. Interestingly, when you actually get lyrics in the second half, you can’t hear much of it because they paired the member with the deepest voice (Leedo) in the group with the loudest instrumentation, which lead to the drowning out effect! Said member returns briefly at the start of the second verse with a really strong rap sequence. I appreciate that he was brought back after the chorus died down and that hint of a low growling effect in his voice. Let’s skip forward to the bridge (as the rest of the second verse/chorus was essentially the same as the first verse/chorus), which I think is where the song definitely wows and peaks for me. Firstly, we have strong vocals (i.e. a brief falestto from Keonhee and high note from Seonho). Remember that powerful energy at the very start of the song? Well, you get a rush of it here at the very end during the dance break and final half-chorus. It shows off their fierceness and intense profile in another thrilling section. Overall, No Diggity is defintiely a song you would want to check out if you want something high energy or intense. It just has a bit of a plainness issue in some parts.

      The music video is definitely very bold and has a hint of colour, which I thought was pretty expressive. Based on the lyrics and the imagery in the video, I think the music video is about inner conflict for a lover. On one hand, the members wanted to be sweet (represented by the members in their white outfit). And on the other hand, the members’ inner devil comes out to play, showing each member in an insane mode (playing with flame throwers, getting up close and personal with a bear trap, donning the spiky mask etc.). I think the video also shows their transition to the more crazier side, as shown by the members as they are dressed in red. In the song itself, the more powerful rock sections are like the inner devils speaking, while the more melodic sections (pre-chorus and bridge) was when the more sweeter side emerges. So I think my theory is plausible.

      Aside from the intense choreography which ONEUS definitely ticked with this performance, another thing that they nailed was the stage presence. I mean, they knew how to captivate us on stage with their performance with their facial expressions and charisma. And that along with the intense choreography drew me into the stage performance.

      Song – 8.5/10
      Music Video – 9/10
      Performance – 9/10
      Overall Rating – 8.8/10

      [Review] BBUSYEO – ONEUS

      ONEUS is nominated in the Rising Star of 2020, Most Underrated Artist of 2020, Best Male Group, Best Concept and Best Music Video categories in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Click here to vote for ONEUS and your other favourite artists.

      Earlier this week, ONEUS made a surprise comeback with a new single, BBUSYEO. This comeback is significantly different to any of their previous comebacks for its bright and lighthearted approach, contrasting with the group’s dark and serious toned comebacks. BBUSYEO also follows ONEUS’ other 2020 comebacks, A Song Written Easily and the more recent TO BE OR NOT TO BE (which has been nominated for Best Concept and Music Video in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Link to vote for them is above).

      As previously mentioned. ONEUS opts for a more lighthearted and fun sound for BBUYSEO, miles away from any of their previous music. It is definitely unexplored territory for the group. I particularly like how the start of the song just gets straight to the point. There is no need for a build up or to fluff up the song. Instead, BBUYSEO starts off with heavily autotuned oohs and aahs that sounded quite funny to me, going straight for that lighthearted effect that has already been mentioned. Then the song gets straight to its upbeatness with the fast tempo backing of the verse, thanks to the use of funky guitars and a clapping beat. Here, there are strong vocals and raps from the members, with their delivery very much keeping up with the intensity and pace of the music. When we round on the chorus, it comes with no surprises that it is brass heavy. Firstly, brass instruments is the go to instrument group if you want something fun or infectious. Secondly, the verses hint towards the chorus with the use of some brass elements, but they were clearly not as prominent as in the chorus and were pretty much overlooked. The rest of the song basically follows the above, with the addition of a trap based rap sequence just after the first chorus, an amazing display of vocals from the vocalists of the group in the bridge (who do even more with ad-libs in the final chorus), and the new extension at the very end of the song to bring it all together. I feel that the song does lack strong hooks, however. ONEUS was clearly going in the right direction, but I felt the producers underestimated the power behind the brass in the instrumental and the hooks that they do have got somewhat lost in the instrumentation. However, BBUYSEO still comes together nicely as the group’s first bright track. While I personally do prefer ONEUS’ darker and serious tones, having a bright song like this once in a while won’t do harm to their discography.

      As mentioned earlier, this new sound allows ONEUS to explore new concepts. And this is clearly observed in the music video. There were a lot of stuff being smashed throughout the video, which makes completes sense given that BBUSYEO translates to Break It in English. Bright colours and hilarious moments were heavily used throughout the video to convey the ‘not serious’ and lighthearted tone of the comeback. My favourite part has to be when Ravn punches the toilet door to reveal a posing and waving Hwanwoong, who ended up smashing the toilet. It is just a major WTF moment that made me laugh.

      I am totally digging the energy that is coming from the members during the performance. They definitely give it their all and it really portrays the song really well on stage. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one is more intensive than their dances for their more serious/darker music. A lot more jumps and interactions with the camera is enable in this performance, which lifts up the dynamic nature of it.

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

      [Album Review] Lived (4th Mini Album) – ONEUS

      As mentioned earlier today, there is another album review coming. And here it is! The album that I wanted to focus on today was ONEUS’ fourth mini-album, Lived, which was released less than a month ago. At the forefront of this mini-album is To Be Or Not To Be, while ONEUS’ Road To Kingdom finale single, Come Back Home, was also featured on the release. In addition to the two tracks, there are another four (including an introductory track) which I will have a closer listen to below.

      Lived Album Cover

      1. Intro: LivedLived (the mini-album) opens up with Lived (the introductory track) and features lyrics, landing itself a spot in this review. It is a nice opener. Lived eases you into the album with a simple instrumentation. It is a style that we have heard before and it isn’t the most groundbreaking or suspenseful introductory track that I have heard. However, it is pleasant opener (even though the members do weigh up the worse of two options – dying and the fear of being wiped from their lover’s memories). (8/10)

      2. To Be Or Not To Be (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of To Be or Not To Be. (10/10)

      3. Dead or AliveDead or Alive continues the momentum from To Be or Not To Be. To me, Dead or Alive has this subtle funk to the verses, which I am digging. In addition to that subtle funk, the song has an epic dubstep chorus drop and guitar riffs throughout the verses to add depth and textures throughout the song. Interestingly, the two merges together to open the final chorus (which was really cool) and help set up a different climax form, which was extremely effective than your usual high or soaring note climax. I also really like the electric guitar riff solo we get just prior to the final chorus. As for the vocals and rapping, I give them a big tick as they sound so clear and crisp, even throughout the noisy nature of the dubstep chorus. Overall, Dead or Alive was pretty dynamic and definitely a track worth listening to on this album. (10/10)

      4. Dizzy (혼란하다 혼란해) – We get more guitar riffs and a peppy form of modern hip-hop/pop in Dizzy. As soon as you play the song, you can register a much more cheerful and happy tone to the song, which stands out after two intense dance tracks. It is also super catchy and very addictive. I really like how they executed the title of the song at the very start of the chorus. It was bold and it almost felt like they were stomping their foot down, but with their voice. Their vocals and rapping made this happen and it felt like their strongest effort on this album, as there wasn’t much instrumentation for them to hide behind or bolster up the track for them. I wished the final chorus was more of all them singing. I felt that was appropriate, despite it being a pretty cliché move. We did get some, but they soon reverted back to one member singing. Aside from that one lacking element, Dizzy is a fun number to listen to. (9/10)

      5. AirplaneAirplane continues that bright tone we got in Dizzy. However, the song falls into the pop realm, as opposed to the hip-hop like influence the previous song centred around. I personally think that Airplane is the best song instrumentally on this album. This is thanks to the vibrancy we get into the electrifying chorus. It is a pretty catchy instrumental hook and feels well-suited for the Summer season. Vocally, the members sound quite nice and the rappers add a further dynamic touch to the song. I would really like to see a live performance this track, as the song enables for a fun yet grounded performance suitable for ONEUS. (10/10)

      6. Come Back HomeClick here to read the full review for Come Back Home. You will need to scroll down a bit for the review. (8/10)

      Overall Album Rating – 9.2/10

      Lived / To Be Or Not To Be Teaser Image

      [Review] TO BE OR NOT TO BE – ONEUS

      Giving off one of the most boldest impressions for a comeback ever, ONEUS utters one of the most well known lines in English literature for their comeback today. Ironically, ONEUS’ return with TO BE OR NOT TO BE is also a breath of new life to the group’s discography and story-telling, carrying on from their Road To Kingdom days, a show they participated in earlier this year to win a confirmed position on the upcoming and now delayed season of the Kingdom. This is also the group’s first official comeback since their A Song Written Easily comeback earlier this year.

      ONEUS already has a discography full of powerful songs. But TO BE OR NOT TO BE overtakes, conquers and triumphs this discography without a doubt. Just with the initial listen, I was in awe with this new release. It had everything I had wanted and wished would come as the song progresses. The harsh and rough instrumental for TO BE OR NOT TO BE is a dramatic synth dance track, infused with rock elements at the right moments to give the song a much appreciated layer of textures. I also really enjoyed the brewing atmosphere that the song dives into for the suspenseful pre-chorus. The choppy melody that brings the pre-chorus to life is probably one of the best ‘on the edge of my seat’ moments of 2020. I also loved how the producers of this song amped up the final chorus, differentiating it from the rest of the song in a specticular fashion. It is what I desired for the final chorus as we got to it, dreading a return to the same chorus we had earlier (as this is what has been happening with a number of releases lately). Aside from the amazing instrumentation, the members blew me away with their amazing showcase of vocals and rapping. My favourite part has to be the pre-chorus that I had already mentioned, along with the ‘To Be Or Not To Be‘ post-chorus hook, which continued the choruses’ monentum in a subtle manner. I think that based on my prasies, you probably know where I officially stand with TO BE OR NOT TO BE.

      Obviously matching the song’s atmosphere is the music video. I really liked the imagery and darkness. My type of atmosphere. Based on the story films for this comeback, the plotline of the story relates back to the Come Back Home video and fits into Greek mythology. I am not clever enough to break down the video to the fine details today (though this one seems interesting for a music video theory series). Some fans have already done the hard work in the YouTube comments. So below is one of the theories.

      The music video builds upon this, though. We see the members being locked up (as stated in the second story film) and in the ‘light world’. As they had been locked up by Helios, their end goal is to free themselves. But the catch is told in the second story film. The members end up breaking the curse themselves by drinking the blood of the descendants (as foreshadowed, but I am not exactly sure what triggers this). They go back to steal the necklace from the first story film to regain their powers, their monarch title and to go back to protecting the people, who now need to suffer pain as a result to the their actions. Do note that this is just one of the theories and there can be many others. Another could be that while locked up, they were tortured by their memories of failed love and breakups, which lead them to breaking free and regaining their powers to ‘forget’ their past relationships entirely.

      The choreography looks amazing. We don’t see much in the music video, as there was a whole cinematic storyline to tell. But the bits and pieces we did see looked amazing. It was powerful and definitely shows off an edgier and angsty side of the group that we haven’t seen before. Some of the formations looked really cool and some of the moves defintiely have a wow factor, such as that jump we see at the end (definitely something ONEUS had picked up and built upon during their Road To Kingdom days).

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