Here is another review for a release from a few weeks back. PARK WOO JIN, the rapper of AB6IX and former Wanna One member, made his solo debut back at the end of February with the single Top Tier and his debut mini-album, oWn. Top Tier follows the pre-release of the single Self Portrait (which accompanies Top Tier on the new mini-album) and features fellow former Wanna One member Kim Jae Hwan. Unfortunately, that release doesn’t have a music video and so I won’t be reviewing it in the standard song format. But it my revisited in an album review if I choose to write one for oWn. But for now, here are my thoughts on Top Tier.
I found Top Tier to be a very typical hip-hop release. I do commend the effort in which both PARK WOO JIN and Top Tier goes in hard and that the energy does have a relentless side to it. But Top Tier’s downfall is its repetitive nature. The repetition comes through the instrumentation and the song’s main hook. The former basically sounded the same all throughout its 2:50 minute run time. A bit more variety in the backing piece could have made Top Tier more dynamic and this would have improved the song by a great deal. The latter just felt monotonous and didn’t elicit anything memorable, which is not ideal for the song’s central moment. All of this adds up to a disappointing song. As mentioned just now, I wished there was more to Top Tier, maybe building on the intensity by way of an abrasively instrumented instrumental break to make way for a dance break in the choreography, or even a bolder and expressive hook that drives the energy upwards and doesn’t stay flat. But while my disappointment with Top Tier is abundant, I do commend PARK WOO JIN’s delivery and flow throughout the song. He himself definitely propels the song forward, as is the main driving force that makes up (partially) the effect of the plain and repetitive nature of Top Tier. The pre-choruses provided a brief look into the PARK WOO JIN’s husky vocals and this was an strong showing of skill as well. Overall, Top Tier does show off PARK WOO JIN to a degree, but I wished the song itself had more to it.
The music video shows PARK WOO JIN as different types of top tier individuals. We see him as the winner of an arcade game fight (who might also be the leader of a dance crew), the winning avatar in the game, a king on a throne (who might double up as the next individual), and a highly acclaimed artist. I liked how the video intertwines all of these different ‘top tier’ individuals into what felt like a cohesive video. I also enjoyed the darker tone the video took, which matches the heaviness of PARK WOO JIN’s song.
Choreography-wise, I felt that the routine did a decently good job of showing off the intensity the song had and the energy that PARK WOO JIN had injected into the song with its delivery. But nothing stood out to me in the performance that makes me want to go back for a re-watch.
Song – 6.5/10 Music Video – 7.5/10 Performance – 7/10 Overall Rating – 6.9/`10
I am now back with the album reviews after an intermission last week to focus on the remaining songs from last week’s wave of comebacks. I am hoping to get another two album review out tomorrow, but I Today’s focus is on AB6IX’s Complete With You, which is a special album release. It features the title track 1, 2, 3 and was released mid-January. It also features four solo songs from each of the members. A similar album full of solo releases from AB6IX dropped in 2019, 5NALLY, which I have reviewed if you want to check out other solo songs from the AB6IX members. I regard that album to be the AB6IX’s first special album, making Complete With You their second special album release since debut.
If you scroll down to the bottom of the review, you will notice a ‘recommended’ sticker has been added to this review. That sticker is there to show that I recommend this album (and any other album with the sticker) to everyone out there, as the album is of a high calibre and shouldn’t be missed. That essentially is what I think of Complete With You. The individual solo tracks on this album each showcase the strengths of each members and I was extremely satisfied whilst listening to the album. Even the title track was quite enjoyable and catchy, even after many weeks after its release! Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments section below!
2. VENUS (Kim Donghyun Solo) – VENUS is an ultra-smooth R&B track that just captivates. There are very strong sensual vibes throughout this song thanks to the instrumentation. Very different to his solo song from the 5NALLY album. In particular, I really enjoyed the guitar work in this song for highlighting those sensual vibes I just mentioned. Donghyun’s vocals also sleek and fits the sensual nature of this song very well. His rapping was also a nice treat, adding another dimension and powerful energy to Venus through its autotuned and roughened texture. Definitely a standout on this album. (10/10)
3. CONSOLATION (위로) (Park Woojin Solo) – It comes as no surprise to me that Park Woojin’s solo song would delve into the hip-hop genre. CONSOLATION’s flow is definitely the standout feature of this song and it showcases Park Woojin’s rapping skillset in a very strong limelight. I felt as if Woojin did not take a breath in this track and consistently delivered his lines without hardly a break! I liked how the instrumental of CONSOLATION kept a low profile (almost a fast-ish tempo lo-fi featuring a squeaky synth, which I did not mind) throughout, allowing the focus to be purely on Park Woojin. (8.5/10)
4. CRAZY LOVE(Jeon Woong Solo)– Aside from the title track, CRAZY LOVE is the other upbeat track on this album. It is more consistent from start to end and could have benefited from more variety within itself. The R&B instrumentation felt very ‘rinse and repeat’ to me. But what really saves CRAZY LOVE are the melodies that formed up the chorus. To me, they had a memorable and appealing ring to it, which made it very enjoyable and satisfying. Woong’s vocals also had this raspy approach, which added some additional depth to the song. (8.5/10)
5. IN YOUR EYES (너의 눈에 내가 보여서)(Lee Dae Hwi Solo) – Finishing up the solo tracks and the album is Lee Dae Hwi with IN YOUR EYES. The song takes the form of a ballad. What stands out in IN YOUR EYES are Lee Dae Hwi’s vocals. He sounds so soothing and definitely delivered the emotions that is being conveyed in the vocals. The melodies utilise Lee Dae Hwi’s vocals so well, adding extra sway to the song. The electric guitar to the song was also a nice touch, adding a bit of flair to the song. (9/10)
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
When I think all the members of X1 had made their re-debut in some capacity, another member pops up with their new release. The next former member of the now disbanded project group to debut is Lee Eun Sang, who debuted earlier this week as a solo artist. He is currently signed to Brand New Music, the home of famous Korean hip-hop artists, AB6IX and BDC. His solo debut, Beautiful Scars, comes roughly one year after X1 made their debut with Flash.
Beautiful Scar is a R&B hip-hop track, which is pretty much no surprise to me, given that this is Brand New Music’s forte. The instrumental is quite heavy thanks to the bass and serious nature of the song. It does lack character and personality, as it feels pretty typical and alike any other R&B hip-hop track. There really isn’t anything ‘new’ about Beautiful Scar that we haven’t heard before. Interestingly, I am not too troubled by the consistency of this song. By being consistent, Beautiful Scar ended up being sophisticated, refined and mature. However, I was lowkey expecting a change up or a breakdown along the way that still fits the mature R&B hip-hop nature of this song. I felt like that would have given the song that much needed flair and allow Lee Eun Sang to show off his character a little more, let it be in song or in performance. I guess Park Woo Jin’s featuring was the mechanism of this, as I thought his rapping delivery and flow was really good. They was a captivating energy coming from his section alone and I would personally seek out this song for Park Woo Jin. Though, this is a bit harsh for the main artist of the track. However, I do think Lee Eun Sang did a pretty decent job with this as his solo debut track. His vocals are solid throughout Beautiful Scar. His debut song just lacks that mentioned personality and also some strong hooks/melodies that would make the song bold and memorable.
The song’s sophisticated and refined profile was brought over into the visual aspect of this comeback. The music video is just this and I really quite enjoyed it. The hotel lobby was a really good choice to shoot in and the lighting during his scene was on point. I also liked the darker sets in which the choreography shots were also shot in. There seems to be some symbolism throughout the music video, such as the butterfly and a kaleidoscope. Not sure what these mean exactly, though I assume the kaleidoscope is in reference to the fake love he experienced (i.e. nothing he looked at was what it seems). Also thumbs up for Park Woo Jin’s featuring the music video as well. You probably know that it is my wish to have featuring artists featured in the music video. It just makes the whole experience better. Though in this case, I guess featuring artists are a lot easier to invite if it is done in-house.
Lee Eun Sang does not look nervous during his first performance. I applaud him for that, especially since it has been almost a year since his previous debut and he has had a lengthy break in between. Plus going solo is always a big step in one’s career. As for the choreography, I really liked the whole routine. It wasn’t anything too crazy. But it looks refined enough to still be impressive looking.
Song – 7/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.5/10
I take a break from the usual reviewing schedule to bring you the next album review (I know this isn’t Friday or Sunday, but it is a special album review). Over the last few weeks, AB6IX have been releasing music videos for each of their members. Each music video accompanies a solo track off the group’s latest digital mini-album, 5NALLY. I thought about how I wanted to review this as an album, or whether I thought I treat them as standalone releases. But then, I thought why not both. So I will be reviewing each solo track as I have been doing in Catch Up Reviews, combining the song, music video and performance reviews into one paragraph.
Moondance (Jeon Woong Solo)
With all the members of AB6IX, I most unfamiliar with Woong as he is the new member of the group that we didn’t get to see prior to the debut of AB6IX. Moondance is a R&B track that packs a punch during the chorus. It starts out as a soft number, but quickly bring the thumping drums into the mix as the song builds to the chorus. The entire track becomes very dramatic in its sound and this allows for an amazing seductive dance sequence (more on that later). His vocals were superb in this song. Particularly, I draw your attention to the really low husky whispering tone we got for the bridge, followed a return to the chorus but with autotune to give the ending some texture. Altogether, the song definitely opens my eyes to Woong’s future as both a solo artist and as part of AB6IX. The music video is really aesthetically pleasing. I really liked the glowing moon the producers made Woong dance in front of, the furniture in the dark room with the floor covered in water and the really reflective dance floor. All these sets had a place in the video and were well utilized post-production of the video to make it extremely captivating. As hinted in an earlier sentence, Woong’s choreography for Moondance is quite seductive. I mean, Woong was grinding on the floor for like 30% of performance. When Woong wasn’t grinding on the floor, he did a damn well job on the performance, which used many smooth and fluid motions that made it look stunning. (9/10)
More (더 더) (Kim Dong Hyun Solo)
Kim Donghyun is one of the vocalists of the group and More shows off his vocals in a decent manner. I was caught off guard with Donghyun’s rap-speak section at the start of the second verse. Maybe something that could be used in some of AB6IX’s tracks? The pop song employs some synths to keep it modern and relevant to the current trends in the industry. But we aren’t talking about huge drops and heavy bass. Everything is kept relatively light and pleasant in this song, which reflect well with the sweet nature of the lyrics in the song. Come to the think of it, this is the polar opposite to what AB6IX releases, and I thought this was rather interesting. More had some good hooks that was pleasant, but none of them really grabbed my attention and this resulted into the song being easily forgotten. As for the music video, it looked very fluffy. And once again, it would be the polar opposite to any AB6IX’s music videos. Dressed in a pink suit and white turtleneck; hugging a teddy bear. I would never guess this would be a track from one of the AB6IX members. I did like ‘sets’ in the music video, namely the church and theater they performed in. They looked cool. The choreography was quite good. I liked chorus routine and how it matched up with the lyrics. Nothing that impressive but still pleasing to watch. (7.8/10)
Rose, Scent, Kiss (Lee Dae Hwi Solo)
Lee Dae Hwi is one of the more popular members of the group, given his time as part of Wanna One. One thing that Rose, Scent, Kiss highlights is the maturity behind his voice and an ability to go quite deep. Together, this made Lee Dae Hwi’s solo track stand out. The instrumental is very crunchy, which matches the texture that we get from his deep voice. The instrumental fuses trap and pop together in a rather typical way. But you can definitely hear the attitude behind it, which really helps draw further attention to this voice. I really enjoyed the Rose, Scent, Kiss whisper, which reminded me of fellow Wanna One’s member Park Ji Hoon’s 360. The music video opens up with Lee Dae Hwi’s monologue about moving between the age of 19 and 20. The rest of the music video was rather dynamic despite following the typical choreography and closeup formula. The dynamic nature of the video was thanks to Lee Dae Hwi’s captivating expressions during his closeup shots, the amazing set design, the flashing patterns in the background on the screen and the lighting throughout the video. I thought the choreography was great. I liked how Lee Dae Hwi is able to show off his own style in this performance and he isn’t afraid to show off some (what usually would be considered) feminine moves. (9.3/10)
Break Up (좋게 끝내) (Lim Young Min Solo)
Lim Young Min is the lead rapper in the group. But he also as an impressive set of vocals, which I don’t remember being used all that much in AB6IX’s tracks. Break Up takes on R&B, but it a lot more upbeat compared to R&B style that Jeon Woong opted for his solo track. Alongside his vocal work, his rapping is on point in this song. I did like the piano that made up part of the instrumental. It really help drive that emotional side of the song, which is all about breaking up. I just wish the song was a little more interesting. I wished the song didn’t stay overly consistent towards the end and I wished they added some sort of texture in addition to that high pitch synth that opened the song and appeared periodically. The brief pause at the end was going in that direction, but I wanted a bit more. The music videos seem pull elements from one another. Lim Young Min’s music video featured the water floor that Woong had in his video and brought along the cube structure from Lee Dae Hwi’s (Kim Dong Hyun’s music video featured the sofa and lampshade from Woong’s music video). But I liked how they managed to infuse some individuality to the music video, namely the phone booth, the use of the city imagery and the sports car. The choreography was good, but I wanted to see a bit more in the music video. There was a sensual side that Young Min was going for that was good, through the many body rolls. But that was all I could pick up from the stuff I saw for this track. (7.8/10)
Color Eye (Park Woo Jin Solo)
Alongside Lee Dae Hwi, Park Woo Jin is the other member that everyone knows of due to his time as part of Wanna One. Color Eye is probably your typical rapper solo song on a group album. The song delves into hip-hop and features both Woo Jin’s well known rapping style and the autotuned singing. To be honest, I found Color Eye to be a little lackluster in terms of suspense and was rather dull. There wasn’t much of a buildup to the song’s peak and it was fair too consistent for my liking. The instrumental was the more exciting bit, featuring a music box like sample, which gave off an eerie sound at first. I just wished they built upon this. The music video features that square screen that we saw in Young Min and Dae Hwi’s music videos. But this one flashes lights and patterns more aggressively. The post-production in this music video makes the video look very edgy and ‘dark concept’. I liked how they never really put Park Woo Jin into the spotlight, which does reflect well with the song. Park Woo Jin doesn’t seem to participate in the choreography, assumingly due to his injury. So I am going to forgo this part of the review for him. (6.8/10)