[Review] because – Rie (OnlyOneOf)

I end the week of long of reviews focusing on solo comebacks and debuts with a focus on OnlyOneOf and the solo works that the group has been pumping out monthly since June of this year. For those who were not aware, OnlyOneOf embarked on a undergrOund idOl project, where each member releases a single each month. First up was YooJung with the single begin, followed by KB’s be free and JunJi’s be mine. The focus of this review is Rie’s because, which actually dropped a few days ago. Mill and Nine’s releases will come out in November and December, and I will be reviewing those once they come out. Aside from solo work, we last saw OnlyOneOf through their skinz promotions earlier in the year and more recently their second Japanese single Zurui Onna.

because is a soft pop rock song, which is without a doubt, on trend for 2022. And with my preference towards pop rock, it has fast become one of my favourite tracks from the project thus far (with the other favourite being KB’s be free). Whilst I must admit that the pop rock instrumentation was pretty standard, I like how perfectly it pairs with the rest of the elements of because. The melodies, when paired with the instrumentation, feels drifty and light. It makes for a soothing and atmospheric effect to come about, which is a wonderful effect to have come from a song like this. And naturally, the vocals that brings the melodies to life, fits in wonderfully. Rie doesn’t necessarily show off anything powerful in because, but he does a great job of showcasing his strengths by making because so inviting and warm to listen to. I quite like it especially when Rie’s vocals soar towards the end, which gives because a bit more oomph towards the end. This also doubles as a clever tactic to prevent because from feel overly consistent or flat. Altogether, you have a captivating piece that shows off Rie. Now, the song isn’t exactly perfect. I feel like because could have used more grit, maybe via an electric guitar solo in the background (rather than in the foreground of the instrumental), would have been ideal. Obviously, because doesn’t call for anything too crazy or intense, but something to accent in the background would have been nice. That would have potentially been a ‘cherry on top’ moment to take the song to a whole new level. But as it is, because is already an amazing track.

We start off the music video for because where we left off in the be mine music video, where the two characters (played by Rie and JunJi) lean in for a kiss at the café. However, due to a misunderstanding between the two, the pair fights. My guess is that this misunderstanding is present in that initial pool scene, which kind of represents the experience of a relationship (based on the lyrics). JunJi emerges from the pool and invites Rie to join him, suggesting that he is he is experienced in this department. But Rie is a lot more reserved and hesitates. And this causes the misunderstanding and fight to play out. That leaves Rie in tears, during which he reflects on the happy memories that the two have built together (i.e. the events of the be mine video, plus that extra set of scenes where Rie takes a photo of JunJi which results in an impromptu modelling session and lands the pair in bed together again). In the end, Rie joins JunJi in the pool and they make up. Interestingly, this video is probably the sexiest out of the four we have gotten so far and Rie/JunJi’s chemistry is really amazing to watch. It is the only video out of the four so far to actually feature a proper kiss scene between the characters

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

[Review] be mine – JunJi (OnlyOneOf)

I end the week of long of reviews focusing on solo comebacks and debuts with a focus on OnlyOneOf and the solo works that the group has been pumping out monthly since June of this year. For those who were not aware, OnlyOneOf embarked on a undergrOund idOl project, where each member releases a single each month. First up was YooJung with the single begin, followed by KB’s be free. In August, we saw the release of be mine by JunJi, which is then followed by Rie’s release. Mill and Nine’s releases will come out in November and December, and I will be reviewing those once they come out. Aside from solo work, we last saw OnlyOneOf through their skinz promotions earlier in the year and more recently their second Japanese single Zurui Onna.

This next release in the undergrOund idOl project takes on R&B, though for a brief second I thought be mine was going down a balladry route with the piano. But when the piano started to get jerky, I could tell that the producers and JunJi had other plans for be mine. I liked that each of the tracks we have heard thus far all have a different colour and genre, allowing each member to make their track their own. And so far, the tracks have been great. However, be mine is probably the most generic and the least appealing of the four (i.e. YooJung to Rie’s) released at the time of writing this review. I just don’t find it as compelling as the rest, and to be honest, the song got lost in the crowd at the time of its release. I actually had very little memory of this track before writing this review. While that probably doesn’t sell be mine, it is still a decent track. And if you like a standard nonchalant R&B track, then be mine might be for you. I quite like the rapid pulses of beats that we get in the instrumentation, in particular. It adds a bit of dynamic flair to the song, which keeps in line with the other undergrOund idOl tracks we have gotten thus far. But it isn’t really enough to bring it up to that bar set by begin and be free, for me. Vocally, it is probably one of the strongest tracks of the project thus far, which makes sense given that JunJi is one of the lead vocalists of the group. I also did like the rapping that was mixed into be mine, which gives the song a bit more appeal than a straight forward R&B track. be mine might not be the most compelling track, but it was still a fair effort for JunJi.

In my last music video breakdown for KB’s release, I mentioned that KB had been hurt previously and I feel like JunJi’s music video might give a hint to why that is the case. I believe that KB and JunJi were on a date at YooJung’s café (maybe this is where YooJung and KB first saw and fell for each other). A new member appears, Rie, who stops by to order something. Both JunJi and Rie share a smile exchange, before Rie leaves the store, going about the rest of his day. JunJi ditches KB (and probably hurts KB in the process, which leads to why he chooses not to be with YooJung in the be free music video) and runs after Rie. Don’t know if he confesses or just invites Rie to hang, but Rie pretty much agrees, much to JunJi’s excitement. And then the rest is history. The pair hang out and have some fun with each other. And at the end, they seem to go to the next level in their relationship by sharing a kiss at the café. Again, this video sets up the events in Rie’s music video, which follows the release of be mine. I quite liked the golden colour of the video, which matches well with the R&B side of the song. From the lighting in the café to the sunshine, it creates a warm atmosphere in the video.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10

[Review] be free – KB (OnlyOneOf)

I end the week of long of reviews focusing on solo comebacks and debuts with a focus on OnlyOneOf and the solo works that the group has been pumping out monthly since June of this year. For those who were not aware, OnlyOneOf embarked on a undergrOund idOl project, where each member releases a single each month. First up was YooJung with the single begin. Following that release, KB makes his solo debut with be free, which came out in July. be free is followed by releases from JunJi Rie. Mill and Nine’s releases will come out in November and December, and I will be reviewing those once they come out. Aside from solo work, we last saw OnlyOneOf through their skinz promotions earlier in the year and more recently their second Japanese single Zurui Onna.

Given the moodier release of YooJung’s begin, I was quite surprised of the likes of be free. Obviously, there is no rules when it comes to solo releases (let alone this undergrOund idOl project), so the expectation that be free by KB would fall in line with begin was completely unjustified on my end. be free goes for a funkier pop release, which I am completely down for. The energy that is exuded from be free is a complete stand out for me. It is the type of track that I would not mind having a boogie to, regardless what I am doing. be free also comes off as straightforward and no-nonsense, as a result of this energy, tackling that funky vibe from the very first second through to the final second of the three and a quarter minutes be free spans for. The guitar work in this song was just on point, bringing both that funky and a bass element to the song. Again, this does wonder for the song, giving it depth and dimension that helps makes be free feel more immersive. The chorus was super duper catchy, and I would not mind having it on repeat constantly. I liked the vocal work, with the filtering that comes through in the chorus giving be free more zing and texture, which further makes the chorus feel appealing and fun. We do get a bit of a taster towards some rapping in the bridge of be free, and I wished the song built on this a bit further. I think a rap sequence, as dynamic to the rest of the song, would have taken be free to the next level. Overall, an instantaneous highlight from the project (even though we are just two songs in) that just makes me want to dance.

For those who missed the breakdown of the first video of the project, YooJung’s character developed a crush on KB’s character, but was hesitant in making a move. KB, on the other hand as depicted in this video, is a lot more open (which further supports the theory that YooJung’s character was closeted, whilst KB’s character was open/out of closet/confident). We see KB return to YooJung after that drunken night, but for some reason also appears to be hesitant about making a move (I think we find a reason later on). We then find out that KB constantly returns to to the restaurant in the past for YooJung himself and finally decides to make a move one night. This leads to the beginning of a relationship between the pair. However, after a night together, KB decides to leave, with the description of the music video on YouTube citing that he does not want to be hurt again (and I believe we find out why in the next video – JunJi’s be mine). YooJung is left alone, feeling confused at the end. I find the role that lighting plays in the video to be interesting. Just an observation, but KB appears to be cautious and hesitant in the night time (possibly as a result to be being hurt at night in the past), and is a lot more clear-headed during the day time. This may have lead him to collect his feelings that leads him to leave YooJung, whereas his desire to be with YooJung appears to only come about at night (Note that when he notices the crane after his drunken night, he does immediately search out YooJung – that only occurs at night). Overall, an interesting story that definitely comes together in this video, but the ending was a bit hurtful in my opinion.

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

[Review] begin – YooJung (OnlyOneOf)

I end the week of long of reviews focusing on solo comebacks and debuts with a focus on OnlyOneOf and the solo works that the group has been pumping out monthly since June of this year. For those who were not aware, OnlyOneOf embarked on a undergrOund idOl project, where each member releases a single each month. First up was YooJung, who made his solo debut with the single begin (and is the focus of this review). Following YooJung, we have also seen releases from KB, JunJi and most recently Rie. Mill and Nine’s releases will come out in November and December, and I will be reviewing those once they come out. Aside from solo work, we last saw OnlyOneOf through their skinz promotions earlier in the year and more recently their second Japanese single Zurui Onna.

Aside from their more recent singles, I am not familiar with any of the OnlyOneOf members and their music. So I am quite interested to hear what the individual members have to offer through this project. begin was a great start to the whole thing. It is a mid-tempo pop track, with an instrumental that is predominately synths and percussive elements. What I liked about the track is that it isn’t a heavy dosage of synths, nor do the synths go down that noisy or abrasive route that you might liken to a ‘heavy dosage of synths’. Instead, I find begin to be quite pleasant and easy on the ears. Interestingly, when I factor in the vocals, I have considered describing begin as soothing (provided you play it at a lower volume, which I have done). It is at odds with the idea of ‘predominately synths and percussive elements’, but it gave off that tone to me. All of this can be attributed to the synths choice (i.e. not abrasive or noisy), but also the balance that is created with the percussive elements. These percussive elements added oomph and depth to the song, which allowed the synths to not feel as heavy and transformed begin into a likeable track. YooJung’s vocals were quite nice throughout, with a slight husky tone which does wonders alongside the instrumental. My understanding is that YooJung usually takes the role of main dancer in the group, so his vocals are not as strong as other artists or members in the group. But begin has his vocal tone in mind, and opted for a piece that complemented his skills and abilities. My only qualm about begin is that I felt the song could have gone the extra mile to be an even more riveting piece. Maybe stronger melodies or hooks would have brought begin up, even though the ‘Begin begin begin‘ at the start of the chorus was quite catchy. Overall, a neat start to both YooJung’s solo offerings and the project overall.

Even though this is a completely new project and offering from the group, the music video (and subsequent videos) expands the group’s focus on their LGBT themes. This moody video sees YooJung play a restaurant worker who develops a crush on a character played by KB. His shyness (and potentially closeted status, as theorized by a few viewers and the short description of the music video on YouTube) prevents him from making a move, instead leading him to sneak glances at KB while the latter isn’t watching. We are not told of KB’s motives in this video, aside from there being a mutual connection to some degree (and we find out the extent of this connection in his solo release). One day, a drunk KB corners YooJung and YooJung takes him home to make sure he is okay/safe. Nothing happens, with YooJung pretty much hesitant during the whole ordeal from the previous night to the morning. KB wakes up the next day and notices the cranes that YooJung has folded, which brings him back to YooJung at the end of the video. We don’t know what happens next, but this is answered as part of KB’s release. Aside from the storyline, I do like the moody aesthetic and atmosphere that comes about from the video, and the cinematography makes this video come together in a subtle artistic manner.

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

[Review] skinz – OnlyOneOf

Ending the week is OnlyOneOf, who returns with their fourth mini-album, Instinct Part 2 and the title track, skinz. Last year, we saw the group return with the very bold libidO (side note: the song itself has grown on me since I reviewed it), which earned them a lot of attention for their LGBTQIA+ concept and provocative stage performance. The group did release a number of other tracks throughout the remainder of 2021, but they did not get reviews due to their lack of a music video of some sort. Since libidO, the group became less of one member, Love (the now former leader of the group) who withdrew from the group unexpectedly in August last year.

skinz is another bold song from this week, with the boldness attributed to the song’s instrumentation. It features a glitchy bass sound which is a very peculiar choice. Despite the foreignness of this style, however, skinz‘s glitchy nature of background gives the song some uniqueness and individualistic points that sets it apart from other songs. I also felt the electronic components of instrumental was interesting, as it reminded me of a concentrated version of libidO‘s instrumental. Not sure if other people felt that or if was the intentional effect, but I thought it made skinz a good follow up to the preceding title track. We do get some relief from the glitchy instrumentation, which may be jarring for some already, in the pre-choruses, where a slightly smoother texture overtakes the background. I like this reprieve, as I think a consistent glitchy pattern would have made the song a bit too much for my taste, as well. As for the vocals and rapping, I liked the sensual energy it brought to the song. Their extra breathy tones made skinz alluring and intriguing to listen to. Boldness was another idea running through my mind. They retained the breathy tones for the autotuned moments as well. The rapping follows the same effect (and I did like the more whispery touch the rapping in the bridge had). However, I wished the raps had a bit more bite to them or used in a different manner to add a different dynamic to the song. I think this would have developed the song even further. Otherwise, Skinz upon multiple replays, could most likely come across as like and like/too consistent throughout. Overall, a strong track from the group overall

The music video continues the LGBTQIA+ theme that was noted to be a key part of the libidO music video. In this music video, however, it isn’t in your face as much. Instead, it was more subtle compared to last year’s video. We are invited on a road trip with the members of OnlyOneOf, with the video shot entirely in our POV. For the most part, it looked like the members were having fun throughout the music video: going to the beach, singing karaoke, having a munch etc. However, we do get some scenes that seemingly hint at something between the different pairs of members. At the end of the video, we are thrown a bit of a twist – the start of the road trip restarts without us – suggesting that everything about the road trip might have been a piece of our imagination. This might also extend to the concept and apply to the libidO music video as well. The dance performance, on the other hand, continues the boldness from the previous comeback and this was actively portrayed in the choreography shots. I also liked the idea of the glitchy stage, which made the video more relevant to the song.

The performance, as mentioned above, manages to continue the same sensual and bold themes. But compared to their previous comeback, I find this performance to be even more heavy handed, despite it not containing any moves that had the same effect as the bridge section from last year. That being said, there was still a lot of body rolling, skin showing, abs reveals and other striking movements. None of this deters me from the routine, and I quite enjoyed the resultant aesthetics of the performance.

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

[Review] libidO – OnlyOneOf

Following the previous review for STAYC’s ASAP, I will be focusing on some releases which I should have posted reviews sooner for. Most of these reviews will be for songs released more recently which have garnered some sort of attention directly or indirectly. First up is OnlyOneOf’s libidO. It garnered some shocking attention since its release for one of the comeback’s components. I will delve into what that shocking element later on. But if you know, you know. libidO was released a month ago on 8 April 2021.

When libidO first popped onto my radar, I wasn’t sure what to think of the song. It was definitely intriguing when it came paired with the music video and performance. But on its own back then, I didn’t think much of it. I think I would have described as a blur (which still would be one of the words I would use to describe the song). But since the song’s release a month ago, I have checked it out a bit more and grown to liken its artiness. libidO thrives on percussion and a warped effect on the song’s melodies. Paired with OnlyOneOf’s whipsering and hushed vocals, libidO exudes a strong and hypnotic sensual atmosphere that feels unique in KPOP, especially in the current climate of retro resurgence. That being said, libidO also taps into the groovy side of music. But I feel that this isn’t the song’s main mechanism of reeling listeners in. I think the song’s whole sensual profile is what attacts people’s attention to its release. And this pretty much has me interested in the song as well. But the instrumental element of a song is only one component. While I really liked the aesthetic that the members bring through their vocals and rapping, libidO suffers from a lack of momentum on that front. The hush-hushed nature of their delivery really makes the song feel airy, which in turn doesn’t help push out a strong hook or melodies. As a result, the only memorable line I got from the song was the repetition of the song’s title, libidO. This why I mentioned that I felt the song would still be described as a blur. As I can only remember one line (well, word in this case) from the song, libidO felt like it was over before it got anywhere. But nonetheless, libidO is still a unique listen and one to check out if you are into aesthetics and artsy releases.

The music video for libidO was a surprise, and one that I had to rewatch a couple of times to make sure I was understanding it correctly. Given how conservative South Korea is, a video like libidO that shows LGBTQIA+ themes is rare. It isn’t unheard of, but it isn’t exactly everyday common. But I definitely applaud the members, the company and producers for pushing the boundaries with this music video and taking a bold risk. Aside from the LGBTQIA+ theme, I thought the music video was quite aesthetic. I really like the colour palette for this music video, with the grey filter being applied to the coloured scenes. I also really liked the choreography shots. The black and white really helps create a sleek and sensual atmosphere. THe opening shot for the music video showing the members on top of the white platform (which they shoot their choreography shots on) surrounded by the green foliage was a really striking image to begin with,

What was also really bold was the choreography. Once again, I applaud the members and the choreographer for pulling off this risky yet very striking choreography. I am all for creative freedom and liked how they really emphasised the sensual nature of the song with all those moves such as the sliding knees, the use of rope throughout the routine etc. The choreography has recieved some negative comments for going to far when it came to the bridge, with one member kneeling in a questionable position in front of another member. It was then followed up with hands on the crotch area. It may be explicit, but I don’t see it as an issue. It might be due to the fact that I was raised with Western media and so I am kind of sensistised to some of this stuff. However, the group has responded to concerns with a reasonable response, so check that out if you want to know the internal thought process of those behind the creative direction of this comeback/choreography.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 910
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Double Review] savanna + Time Leap – OnlyOneOf

I think I am going to continue on with the catch up by focusing on the rookie groups that just made their debut. I do have a short list of them to cover and there aren’t any major comebacks that take precedence today, giving me time to actually do the catching up. Today’s review is focusing on the double title tracks (savanna & Time Leap) that OnlyOneOf made their debut with back at the end of May. The group consist of seven members (Nine, Love, Yoojung, KB, Mill, Rie and Junji) and are currently under RSVP.

To me, no matter how much I listen to savanna,  I cannot find anything interesting within the track that keeps me attracted to it or reels me in for further replays, similar to the comments I made in yesterday’s review. Despite that, there are a number of elements that do manage to stand out. The R&B instrumental made the song quite smooth textured. While it seems like the instrumental is the root of why I think the song was plain and bland, the smoothness allowed the melody to be quite pleasant. And this resulted in the showcase of nice vocals and decent rapping from the group.

Time Leap is another melodic song. But it is completely different from savanna as it delves into a pop route and I thought it was a little more captivating. To me, the instrumental felt like a blank canvas, as it once again didn’t have anything interesting within it. With that analogy, the vocals and rapping ended up being the paint strokes. They actually sound quite good with the rap sequences having a little more intensity and the harmonies allowed the vocals to be showed off with more definition. With its consistent nature, I felt like the only image that the group could have amounted to in Time Leap was a black and white image. But it is a start and I like the song. 

For a smooth and decently paced track, savanna’s music video had a lot going on. The various visual effects and overlays could have been reduced as I think the music video showed a more than necessary edgy tone. But I really liked the aesthetics of the video that was formed thanks to the visual effects. I think if they managed to strike a balance to the dark lighted music video, I think savanna, as a whole package, could have been a little more likeable. As for the Time Leap, the music video is less aesthetic. However, the cinematography during the more professional shots was really cool. They also included some ‘home video’ style shots, which was nice. But I felt like that stripped away the aesthetics. Nothing really happened in this video, which did leave it on the boring side of the spectrum. But still visually looked good.

While I have been praising Time Leap so far, their performance is a bore. As much as I understand that they had a slow song to start with, the performance ended up making things a lot slower. savanna, however, had the more captivating performance. Sure, the more intense moves didn’t fit as well with the song. But it looked more intriguing and fits the type of performance I like to see from male groups.

savanna
Song – 6/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6.4/10

Time Leap
Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.6/10