[Review] Blossom – Eunha (GFRIEND) & Ravi (VIXX)

It has been a while since we heard a collaboration. It seems like this isn’t going to be a recurring thing in 2019, based on the number of collaborations thus far in the year. However, we were provided with some relief with the release of Eunha and Ravi’s collaboration for Pepsi last week on the 11th of April. This is also the second year in a row that Pepsi has asked KPOP idols to come together for a collaboration, with YDPP and WJMK releasing two songs last year with Pepsi at the forefront of both videos.

Despite the visuals of the music video, Blossom is not necessarily that cutesy love song that you are looking for that companies have utilised in their campaigns. This style would obviously not suit Ravi, as per his husky vocals and usually hard-hitting rap style. Instead, Blossom is a subtle pop track with a lot of sweetness mixed into it to make it appropriate for Spring. I really like the rolling drum beats in the moments that the song is building up, which gave the song a sharp incline to the chorus. Other than that, the instrumental was rather light and calming. I also liked the whispering at the start of the chorus, which I thought was rather sleek. While we all know that Eunha is a vocalist (I really liked her in the first verse. The melody was also quite nice) but it was surprising to hear Ravi sing for his chorus and some of his verse. I also like how his rapping wasn’t as hard-hitting as based on his solo and VIXX works. Rather, it was well tweaked to fit the light nature of the song. It felt like I jumped around between different aspects for this part but overall, the song was quite nice. 

Based on the video, cherry blossom season is in full swing. And the video takes full advantage of the pretty sights. The song ‘cheers on young people to achieve their dreams and also their pursuit for romance’ and we get to see those two sides in the video. Ravi is an aspiring artist, while Eunha is auditioning to be an idol. The two do face some hardships but manage to push through. And in the midst of their slumps, they meet each other and become interested. Some awkward meetups happen and they end up dating one another. And it is incredibly convenient that Pepsi sponsors their entire romance storyline. Hahaha…

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

[Review] Tuxedo – Ravi (VIXX)

In my quest to reviewing new artists, I decided to write about Ravi’s latest solo release. Ravi debuted as a solo artist back in 2016 and surprisingly, I have shied away from all his solo releases since then. I am not even sure why. It might because I don’t review mixtapes or that I don’t enjoy songs purely of rapping that much. But whatever the reason, I have missed out on opportunities to review songs like BOMB (featuring SanE) and Nirvana (featuring Park Ji Min). But today, we focus on Tuxedo which is the title track of Ravi’s second mini-album, R.OOK BOOK.

Tuxedo has this groovy instrumental that does stand out to an extent. It isn’t something that I had expected from Ravi, due to his work with hip-hop and rap in the past. While I do like the grooviness and funkiness, I did think the song was a tad too consistent. There were trumpets in the chorus that did give a little extra something but I am unsure if it was enough. The bridge did feature a slight slowdown and buildup to the final chorus, but it didn’t feel memorable enough. I did like the melody of the track, especially during the chorus. I would have to say this is his most melodic work yet (based on his title tracks from what I could remember). But the biggest downfall of the track is the autotuned vocals and raps. I don’t understand why the song was heavily autotuned. It just instantly drew me away from the song. If it was used subtly or in moderation, I think the song could have been more attractive. overall, I think it is safe to say I am not a major fan of the song.

The song talks about wanting to break free from a boring life and having some fun. And based on the lyrics, his attire to having fun is in a tuxedo. Very classy. The video features party vibes, which goes hand-in-hand with the lyrics.  However, I honestly wanted more tuxedos. Not just the one kind but multiple tuxedos. While it does seem like a cliche move, I wouldn’t mind it and it could potentially have made the video interesting. But overall,  I thought was it a well-fitted video.

I think the performance does a good job of bringing those party vibes to the stage. A few things I noticed – the backup dancers looked like they were having a genuinely good time and I didn’t realize Ravi was so tall until I saw how all the backup dancers were shorter than him (but that may be just the camera angle). I also liked how Ravi used his charms to really appeal to the audience.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6/10

[Review] Fantasy – VIXX

VIXX has returned to the stage with the second part of their Greek God trilogy. Last time, they were Zelos, the God of Jealousy and Rivalry and made their comeback with Dynamite. This time, they returned to their dark roots as the God of the Underworld, otherwise known as Hades. The title track for this promotional run is Fantasy.

Jaw dropping. I am amazed and in awe when I hear this song. I love the orchestra feel of the instrumental. The instrumental itself was sampled from Moonlight Sonata, which in the context of this song, gives it an eerie feeling that really cannot be described in words.I love the slow buildup in this song and that burst of power and sound that we get as soon as we launch right into the chorus. And saying launch makes it underwhelming. More like thrown into the chorus as approx 100 km/hr. Okay, I will stop. The vocal work and the rapping in the song are amazing. None of them felt lacking or  underwhelming. I do have two minor complaints. While I did love the chorus a lot, I felt it was quite overpowering for the vocals. I found it a bit difficult to listen to Ken and Leo the first few times I listened to the song. I am more used to it now, just I do have that thought come into frame every now and then. Ravi had quite a limited part. I am a little disappointed in that. The rap sequence we got is already excellent, though I would appreciate it more if it was a lot longer. But still, it is an excellent song that is right up VIXX’s alley.

Concept wise, I don’t really see much of the “Hades” concept in the video. But when we talk about the Greek God of the Underworld, ‘eerie’, ‘mysterious’, ‘dark’, ‘powerful’ and ‘terrifying’ are all terms we would use to describe him. And once again, VIXX has ticked it all off. The darkness was not there that much in Dynamite, but it is definitely here in this one, which reminds me so well of the old days for VIXX. Though I have no clue on what is really happening in the video, here is my take on the video: the members are like demons from the underworld. They are sent to bring N down to their world, and coerce him into going into the door that leads to the new world. So some of the members (N, Hongbin, Ken and Ravi( had halos at the end but in the form of the prickly metal halos. Once N officially becomes one of theirs, it seems Leo is their next target but somehow manages to avoid it (as he is bandaging up his wounds at the end, where the prickly metal bits are meant to be). Hyuk seems to be someone from above, stopping people before entering the door. That’s my take on the video and if I was even remotely right, I think it is an interesting story to tell.

The choreography fits the song and concept really well. Though I do not see anything memorable, them singing the song and pulling off any dance is bound to blow all our minds. I do think the dance does back up my theory in the music video. At the end of the first chorus, the lyrics “Get back up, off that dream”. They drop down to the stage as if the underworld is calling them, but the eerie vocals make it seem like someone from above is calling them, hence they look up. Just something I noticed that probably isn’t right, but still amazing.

Final Rating – 8.5/10

Dynamite – VIXX

VIXX has returned with a brand new concept. The set of three or “trilogy” concept has been on the rise in South Korea with BTS, G-Friend, Seventeen and Lovelyz wrapping up their “set of three” concepts. VIXX will be the latest band to join the ranks in this trend and have promised three comebacks within a year which focuses on Greek mythology. They have always surprised us (or scared the daylights out of us) with their concepts, so it will be interesting to see what they will do next. Dynamite begins the trilogy for VIXX.

And is Dynamite a good song or what? One of the few songs that I am obsessing over these days. It is not your typical VIXX song. Actually, it is not a song that you would associate with VIXX. It is many times more colourful than their previous hits and has more of a bright tune to it. It focuses more on the pop side of KPOP, but the meaning (in terms of the Greek God that they are focusing on) is really brought to life with the song. But I will talk about the concept later. Vocal wise, everyone got a decent part of the pie and showcased an excellent standard. Hyuk and Hongbin particular, shined more in this song, as they have more lines than in the past.  The rap was okay. It felt very underwhelming and just didn’t hit the right feels to make me go wow. Everything else was just great. The instrumental is amazing and that small part that Hyuk has before the chorus is really unique and makes the song very interesting. Definitely catchy (like any VIXX song) addictive. VIXX has managed to do it once again with Dynamite.

The Greek God that they are focusing on this time around is Zelos, the God of Jealousy and Rivalry. And the video shows the concept in a very interesting way. So Ravi said in an interview or somewhere for this concept: “Our lead track, “Dynamite,” is about a guy being blinded by jealousy and willing to turn the world upside down to get his ex back.”. And the video shows just that. The video is quite calm at the start, but as it progressed, it literally looked like the world was turned upside down and all hell broke loose. The flying coloured dust and the camera became even shakier. Talking about the camera, I think this was an excellent example of how a shaky camera could be used to their benefit. It worked really well and was in time with their dance moves. The sets were pretty good as well. They were all quite simple but the guys acting gave each set a lot more definition and meaning. I think the video was amazing overall, as you can tell from my comments.

Dance wise, I thought it was underwhelming. But saying that doesn’t mean I hate it or the dance wasn’t good enough for the song and concept. It was good, it just didn’t live to my expectations. I guess I did expect more of a kick to the dance. Their facial expressions in this dance is pretty much teasing all of us. N’s smile occurring indirectly to the camera and Hongbin’s smirks were my favourite. They do match the concept and made everyone go wild.

Song and video were amazing and top notch. The dance could have definitely been better, but what we got was pretty good still. 8.5/10

Depend On Me – VIXX

VIXX has made their return to Japan with a new song, which coincides with the release of their first Japanese album. The album includes the Japanese versions of some of their past Korean hits, such as Chained Up and Error. The album has includes some Korean songs that VIXX has released as extra tracks. But even better, the album includes some Japanese tracks: Can’t Say, which was their first official original Japanese release and Depend On You, their second official original Japanese release and the whole reason of today’s review.

VIXX’s song is good but I keep on asking myself is it good enough? Depend On Me has this very dramatic orchestra sound, mixed with elements of electronic, which gives it a good sound which I like. The chorus beat drops and it sounds more like a pop song than anything else. It flows with the rest of the song, but to me, it just seems like it misses the cake. It was so dramatic sounding at the start, but then that same dramatic feel just disappears. Sure, I listen to the song if it comes on, but I don’t think it is something that I would get caught on. The bridge is okay, but it feels mis-matched with the rest of the song. The vocal work is pretty well damn good in this song. All the members sound great and Ravi’s rap is always sounding hardcore and bad-ass. I don’t know, I feel like I am let down with the chorus in this song. It is great to see such a powerful song from the band in Japan (thought they would stay with their Can’t Stay sound).

The music video is simple. Put the guys in an overused room to dance in and shoot majority of the dance scenes. Throw in some solo shots up close in the dark room and then more solo shots in a white room with red strings everywhere. And that is your video. There were some shots in the video of N just talking to a girl. N notices she becomes disinterested in what is going on, and then this flash forward (or back) of the red strings come along. And then at the very end, we see him whisper something to the girl, and that room flashes back with N whispering the same thing to the camera. So what is going on? Am I meant to look at the lyrics or something because I am a little confused. The strings make sense, since the lyrics talk about cutting strings that join the two together, but what about that N scenes? A little too simple for my liking, but still pretty nice to watch.

But here is what we do actually watch in that video, and that is the dance. While the video below does not capture the whole video for us (still waiting patient for the official upload though), the dance is pretty cool. The highlight of the dance though, the violin introduction where Ravi imaginary plays the violin. It looks so cool. The rest of the dance fitted in with the electronic components of the instrumental. A lot of powerful and strong moves.

Overall, little iffy on the song, video is good and VIXX never lets us down with the dance. 7/10

Chained Up – VIXX

VIXX new song is not what I expected. Usually they have a song that we can describe as dark and mysterious. However, this particular song is more upbeat and possibly “happy”, even though the lyrics do not go in that direction. I feel like the instrumental can be also be used for a less darker or more fun concept. Do you understand? It is rather odd to think that way, but it seems to be the only way I can describe it. Nonetheless, this song is pretty solid. I absolutely love the rap segments before the chorus. They build up to the chorus pretty well. The vocals are pretty solid in this song and I feel like the autotune works really well with the song. The chorus is catchy, but it did require a few listens for me to get into the groove of the song. At first I thought it wasn’t a VIXX song and that it sounded rush. But after extra listens, they managed to chain me up in their music (no pun intended – is this how puns actually work?). I feel like Hongbin and Leo got their time to shine in this song, vocally.

Visually, I think the music video is stunning. The outside scene where they are on top of building at the start looks really well shot, and the members individual scenes seems to bring the concept pretty well. They all seem like good places to hang out at, to be honest. Who doesn’t want to run through Leo’s chains and those pieces of plastic hanging about. The members also bring out a whole new level of sexy. Their costumes, even though they seem simple and easy to copy, bring out that side of masculinity in the guys that we have not seen yet. I’m kind of iffy on the topic of the chokers. Yeah, they look cool and fit the concept really well. BUT they look so damn uncomfortable. Or maybe that is just me and in reality they are cuddly as heck. In the song paragraph, I said Leo and Hongbin stood out. Visually, I think Ken looked the most awesome in this comeback. Everyone else looked fine, it is just Ken looked like he was suited for this concept.

As for the dance, I think we can agree on that it is either Leo on his own OR the whole entire group. From flying members to body waves, now hip rolls. Now what on earth is left in terms of key dance moves that the boys can attempt next? Out of all the dances by VIXX to date, I think this is the most literal dance for any of their comebacks so far. And I think I am going to say this, but it is probably one of their strongest dances to date. And finally, damn it was sexy. And this is coming from a guy’s point of view.

VIXX seems to bring out brand new dark concepts that we have never seen before and manage to impress everyone with their continuously creative and imaginative comebacks. And this is no exception. 9/10

Beautiful Liar – VIXX LR (VIXX)

VIXX is back, but in the form of Leo and Ravi. Yes, VIXX has launched their LR subunit, which I totally thought stood for Left and Right. For those who don’t know, Leo is the very capable main vocalist known for his quiet and “calm” persona, while Ravi is the rapper of the group, who is known for his sexual lyrics. Yeah, if you can’t tell, I am a bit of a fan of VIXX. But I am not bias. Trust me. It has been a while since we heard of VIXX. At the start of the year, they made their comeback and has since ventured into Japan and the group has focused mainly on solo work.

This is a song that I would highly recommend. Not because I am bias, but this is a beautiful song that mixes the ballad genre with more a rap and hip hop type of vibe. Yeah, not a big fan of the whole rapping in ballad type of songs, but this song really does it well. Leo, we all know, has this wonderful voice and Ravi is known for his powerful rapping style. Put the two together and you get a really powerful ballad. Each member is given equal opportunities to show off what they have under their sleeves. Leo’s high notes that he belts out during the song is truly amazing. Ravi’s powerful rapping did wonders. And them two when they come together and sing together at certain parts, match each other so well. The instrumental won me over. It is by far definitely one of the brightest highlights for the song. I really enjoyed how they mixed the ballad song with a more electronic type of sound during the second verse when Ravi is rapping. The lyrics for this song is quite ingeniously written as well. We hear “Beautiful Lair” throughout the song, but the final words of the song is actually “cowardly liar”.

Odd place to end the final paragraph, but it leads nicely into the plot of the video. In the video, Ravi and Leo is one person. Kind of like the Jekyll and Hyde concept they were going for in the past. Leo is the lie, while Ravi is the truth. The truth is, Ravi is an accurate representation of the feelings Leo have. But Leo wants to let her go, so she can have a great life (she is going to get married to another guy). They struggle throughout the video, but Leo ends up winning. In the end, he sings “cowardly liar” because that is what he is. Because he did not have the guts to tell the girl his true feelings. Love the play on the black and white in the video. Their acting is pretty impressive in this video as well. Their “struggle” scene is pretty good and was an impressive way to showcase the plot. I also love it how they give you two kind of ending. One shows Ravi dying (strangled by the Leo, probably wanted to do that for some time) and the other is where Ravi “slips” away. I thought this was an amazing video. Well showcased.

Not really going to mention the dance, mainly because there isn’t anything to talk about. The members focus on singing and rapping, which I felt was enough. The need for the backup dancers was nice but I don’t think they were needed.

Wow. I wrote so much. But honestly, check out this song. 10/10