[Review] Beautiful (Part 3) – Wanna One

Never did I think this would be pulled off, but Wanna One has regrouped for the release of a special single, Beautiful (Part 3). This new single was performed by the group for the first time at the 2021 MAMAs (with the exception of Lai Kuan Lin, who was promoting in China), and was then confirmed for release on 27 January 2022. For a brief second in the days prior of Beautiful (Part 3)’s release, there was a possibility that the group would be unable to release the song due to some contracts not being signed by companies, but I am glad to see that they managed to pull everything together in time for the scheduled release. There are ongoing plans for a reunion concert and future album release, however, those plans appear to be slightly rocky with Hwang Minhyun and Ong Seong Woo’s companies announcing that their respective artists would not participate due to focus on their own group’s work and scheduling issues. I guess we have to wait and see if a concert and album can occur. But for the time being, we have a special single on our side.

Like the original Beautiful title track and Beautiful (Part 2) (featured as a side track on the group’s first and only studio album), Beautiful (Part 3) falls into the ballad category. It, as a whole track, definitely brings forth a sentimental and nostalgic feeling, which is no doubt the route that the members and the producers were going for. The pre-choruses in Beautiful (Part 3) were a capsule of these exact emotions, as the melodies and some of the lyrics connect the three tracks together. Elsewhere, Beautiful (Part 3) was new and original. I really liked the burst of sound when it came to the chorus. It, along with the rock elements that featured in the choruses, just took the otherwise simple ballad to the next level. Vocally, it was extremely nice to hear everyone as Wanna One again and I am happy to hear that Lai Kuan Lin managed to get a part in the song despite not being part of the reunion performance. Kim Jae Hwan’s vocals stood out the most of the pack, living up to this main vocalist position in the group. That being said, however, all the other members showcased their exceptional vocals in the song, highlighting their improvement from their post-Wanna One days. I am also glad to hear some rapping from the rappers (Kang Daniel, Park Ji Hoon, Kim Woo Jin, Lai Kuan Lin) as the instrumental for Beautiful (Part 3) allowed for it. Overall, Beautiful (Part 3) lives up to its name, just like the original and Part 2 did, and is a ‘beautiful’ reminder of the group.

The music video showcased shots from their MAMA performance back in December 2021, both on-stage and off-stage. It too did exactly what the song did, evoke these sentimental and nostalgic emotions. I liked how the editors synced up with shots of the actual performance with the lyrics of the song, allowing the performance to serve multiple purposes (i.e. MAMA award performance, this music video). I also liked the inserts of behind the scene shots (both video and images). It helped made the video even more special, especially for the fans of the group. I also wish to point out that it was extremely nice to see the members be given an opportunity to interact with fans and the audience (though from the stage, but still better than nothing!).

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

[Review] Didn’t Say Anything – Baek Z Young & Ong Seong Woo

Don’t you just love surprise releases? This is another collaboration single, joining the two big releases from last week (i.e. IU ft. Suga from BTS and BOL4 ft. Baekhyun from EXO). This single, Didn’t Say Anything, features Baek Z Young, a well known singer in KPOP, known for her songs such as Like Being Hit By A Bullet; My Ear’s Candy (ft. Taecyeon from 2PM); and my personal favourite, Garosugil (ft. Song Yu Vin). And alongside Baek Z Young in this song is Ong Seong Woo, whom we all know from his Wanna One days and recent solo comeback, Gravity.

I associate Baek Z Young, a lot of the time, to ballads. In addition to that thought, the title just screams out emotion and sadness. So that was my expectation going into the song. And boy, Didn’t Say Anything was definitely a ballad. I have only replayed it a couple of times since it was released. And each time, I have been left breathless and speechless. I miss these types of ballads that are just stunning to listen to and I can guarantee that it will continue that way for a very long time. Take Still Love You by Hwesung from N.Flying and Lee Hong Ki from FT Island, it still sounds amazing and floors me to this day. Didn’t Say Anything leaves me that way for a few reasons and it is usual suspects. Didn’t Say Anything features a very nice orchestral instrumentation that continues to build as the song progresses. And this buildup is paired alongside the vocals of both Baek Z Young and Ong Seong Woo. Both singers belt it out from about the half way point, slightly earlier than when most artists would unleash a high note or two. That high note at the end of the bridge was spectacular. Both artists surprised me with that one. Baek Z Young, sure. Ong Seong Woo, very unexpected. And to show off his vocal abilities further, he handles most (if not all) the ad-libs to finish off the song. But it wasn’t just the high notes that wowed me. Even at a normal volume, the pair sounded amazing. The harmonies were beautiful and Baek Z Young’s voice at the start and end was just velvety.

The song is about not saying anything to each other after a breakup due to the emotions one would feel, causing further heartbreak. For majority of the video, we see the singers alone, being heartbroken alone. But at the end, it was revealed that the two were actually side by side. They were in very close proximity to each other and a word or two easily could have been shared. But you could feel that there was an imaginary barrier between them that prevented them from doing so. And this imaginary line that was formed by their emotional states that prevented them from speaking (i.e. the sadness and the glances we could see them making towards one another). I thought that was an interesting yet clever way of presenting the meaning of the song.

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

[Album Review] Layers (1st Mini Album) – Ong Seong Woo

It is time to dive into another album. Today’s focus will be on Ong Seong Woo’s recently mini-album release, Layers. I am super excited to be reviewing this album for not other reason other than it is more recent album. I still have one other ‘older’ album to review, but after that, it is all April albums. I also am planning on bringing back the PARs (Past Album Review) segment, though I don’t know how regular that will be. But until I make a solid decision, let’s get stuck into today’s album review, which features both Ong Seong Woo’s We Belong (released in January 2020) and Gravity (released in March 2020).

Layers Album Cover

1. Gravity (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Gravity. (9/10)

2. Café (너를 위한 카페)Café is a nice mellow pop song to listen to. There is an easygoing and soothing vibe in this song, which makes it extremely pleasant to listen to. It is definitely a song I wouldn’t mind sipping coffee to in a nice indie coffee shop. I also found the song extremely light and soft, which really goes hand-in-hand with Ong Seong Woo’s vocals. They are breathy and often in a falsetto direction, which was very appealing. Altogether, Café ended up have a golden-like and definitely a warming touch for fans to melt away to. (8/10)

3. After Dark (또, 다시 나를 마주한 채)After Dark is a ballad that really pushes Ong Seong Woo’s vocals into the spotlight. He also sounds very breathy in this song. But he seems to throw more technique into the song, making it a fairly dynamic ballad to listen to. The instrumental is also another strong aspect of the song. Most ballads we think of take on board a classical or piano-centric background. But After Dark takes electronic synths to create a very slow yet delicate instrumental for this ballad. This has been done before by other artists, but it stills feel fairly unique to me. (9/10)

4. Bye Bye As we continue down the tracklist, the songs just keep on getting better. One of the things that I wasn’t sure with Ong Seong Woo is which direction he would take his solo work in. And it seems like his default genre is pop, given this title tracks and now Bye Bye. This song has some hidden surprises, and this is one of the reasons why this song is so good. We are given autotuned vocals as soon as the song started. The chorus featured a very upbeat and bright instrumental, accented with a really cool hook consisting of the song’s title and brief mini pauses. The melody that his vocals encapsulates was also very appealing. The bridge throws funky saxophone synths that give the song some groove and interesting quirk, which all helped make Bye Bye extremely enjoyable. (10/10)

5. Guess Who Guess You is the most experimental track on the album. I say that because the chorus was pretty much unexpected. I liked the classy vibes that the whistling or flute-like (along with that higher pitch vocals) infused into the song. The rest of the instrumental predominately featured really satisfying guitar work. I already touched upon Ong Seong Woo’s vocals for this song, but I liked how clean his standard vocal work is in this song. Throw in the deep ‘I Like It’ and ‘I Love It’ we get towards the ending and you have another really good track. (9/10)

6. We BelongClick here to read the full review for We Belong. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

Layers Teaser Image

[Review] GRAVITY – Ong Seong Wu

Ong Seong Wu was the only member of Wanna One to make his official solo debut in 2019 after the disbandment of the project group. He did release a special single, Heart Sign, in collaboration with Pepsi and Starship. But that wasn’t marketed a debut single. His official debut single was released earlier this year, We Belong, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Hence, this makes today’s release his very first solo comeback. GRAVITY is the title track off Ong Seong Wu’s first mini-album, LAYERS.

The way GRAVITY sounds reminds me of Western dance tracks, particularly it came to the chorus of this song. The instrumental is very typical for this style and it doesn’t really offer anything unique. But there are a few things within the song that stood out for me, which made me enjoy the song as well. First of all, the lyrics tell of the gravitational pull one would feel towards another and discovering one’s self along the way. I thought that was an interesting topic. With a topic like that, the mature vibes was the second aspect of the song that stood out to me. The serious tone is unforgettable, even though it is something we hear quite often. Thirdly, it has to be his amazing and powerful vocals. His voice pushes high up when he sings the word ‘gravity’, going in a completely different direction to ‘gravity’, which is an interesting concept to think about. The rest of the song feels rather weighted (I mean this in a good way) and adds that ‘gravity’ component to the song. I also liked the soft whispering of the song title as part of the bridge. It is like an echo that edges you towards the direction that you would be going in (in this case, the person he is being pulled to). Putting everything together, GRAVITY leaves a strong impression and I am definitely going to replay this song constantly while I stay at home for the foreseeable future.

The music video shows an aesthetically pleasing depiction of the lyrics. Ong Seong Wu’s life is relatively plain. He lives in a cabin made of wood in the forest. One day he wakes up and discovers an abandoned car nearby. Upon investigating the car, he is drawn towards a mysterious female character, whom we suspect is the owner of the car. He follows her and it is shown that everytime he follows her, he is becoming even more consumed with the idea of finding her (i.e. shown through the underwater scenes and how frantic he gets each time the story repeats) and that he unsuccessfully catches up to her. But yet the same thing happens everyday and he cannot avoid the gravitational pull that he experiences towards this mysterious figure. Even his dreams start replicating the same event and he gets even deeper. And deeper. Not exactly sure who this figure is, but it might be a past lover who may have drowned, which would explain why he would consistently go after her and why he would be shown to be underwater. I thought this was a well shot video and his acting in this video is far better than in some parts of the We Belong music video. I liked the grey and darkness of his video as well, adding to the aesthetics.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.4/10

[Review] We Belong – Ong Seong Wu

As mentioned in Park Ji Hoon’s 360 review, all of the former Wanna One (excluding Ong Seong Wu and Lai Kuan Lin) had made two comebacks throughout 2019. With the release of Ong Seong Wu’s We Belong today, we add the soloist to the list of former members having multiple comebacks (and I am sure we will see Lai Kuan Lin’s second release someday). The main reason to why we have seen so little of Ong Seong Wu on the music front is due to his focus on his acting career. He did, however, participate in his drama’s OST.

We Belong is a fresh song, unlike Heart Sign (which reminded everyone too fondly of Energetic). We Belong has this vibrancy that I really like, thanks to the instrumentation and vocal work. The song featuring this one synth throughout that was so piercing (I cannot figure out what it sounds like though). But this is not a bad thing, as it made the song so memorable for me. In addition to that synth, the chorus is very upbeat and lively. So much that it draws me in and brings a smile to my face, even though I had no idea about the lyrics (which I think is all bout declaring his love to his significant other/fans). I also like the acoustic guitar strumming during the pre-chorus and start of each verse, as well. The other element I really like are Ong Seong Wu’s vocals. He pushes himself in this song and this makes the song sound so good. The different melodies that features definitely helps make this even more dynamic. Overall, We Belong is an awesome track and a step above his ‘debut’ track.

Ong Seong Wu opens many doors in this music video. Behind each door was a way for Ong Seong Wu to declare his love. To whom is based on how you interpret the lyrics. I really like how the producers presented him in the music video, showing off his visuals and handsomeness. To put it shortly, the video is very sweet and I think fans will really like this particular music video.

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

[Review] Heart Sign – Ong Seong Woo

We have heard music releases from all the members of Wanna One since their disbandment, besides Ong Seong Woo and Kang Daniel. It seems like we will be seeing the latter artist sometime in the coming months, with promises of an impending debut.  Things will change today as we move Ong Seong Woo to the list of music releases, who has been notably absent from the music scene since the disbandment. Technically, this isn’t a solo debut, but rather a special single release, joining hands with Pepsi, who recently kicked off their ‘The Love of Summer‘ project with Eunha and Ravi’s collaboration, Blossom.

Listening to the track, the song brought me back to memories of Wanna One debut track, Energetic. It had a similar beat and felt very nostalgic. It isn’t clear if it was meant to be intentional. But given how they managed to slide in the line ‘We Always Wanna One‘, it seems like they are doing it intentionally.  However, it isn’t a direct copy of Energetic. This nostalgia was only present during the chorus of the song. The verses and its buildup, while it still follows the electronic dance pop style like Energetic, is quite different. I appreciate this difference to an extent, as I did find those sections to be quite bland in comparison to the chorus and didn’t really feel like it was contributing much. Seongwoo’s vocals were nice. I think he did a good job of making the song feel very dynamic with his vocals. The song does suffer from a linear nature as it sounded so alike from start to end. I feel like this could have easily been avoided with a rap sequence. But overall, ticks for a little throwback to memory lane.

I don’t know who in their right mind would drop food on the ground over images of a beach and ignore that array of fast food on the table. But I guess, Ong Seong Woo had to be completely bored out of his mind to do that. Hahahaha… But he solves that boredom by going to the beach to take images and join up with some friends to have a good time (a common theme in a lot of these Summertime music videos). I think it was a nice video. Of course, Pepsi was on full display, while the emphasis on the blue in the sea, sky and clothes was definitely noticeable. But they made it all balance by featuring a fair amount of yellow (through the sand and beach hut).

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating –  7.4/10