Needless to say, this review is very overdue. But as the saying goes – better late than never. Got the Beat is due to make their comeback on Monday with their first mini-album, Stamp It Out. So in preparation for that, I have decided to finally write me review for Step Back, their debut single that officially dropped early 2022. For those who may not have tuned for Got the Beat’s debut, the lineup of this super female group hails from SM Entertainment’s female artists and consist of a legendary lineup, including BoA, Taeyeon and Hyoyeon (from SNSD), Seulgi and Wendy (from Red Velvet) and Karina and Winter (from aespa).
My impression of Step Back from a year ago is exactly the same today. And it isn’t any good news, unfortunately. While I commend the lineup for their powerful energy and vocals (however, this does become an issue – more later on) that will definitely wakes you up no matter what state you are in, my biggest gripe about Step Back is that it is overly repetitive. Aside from the bridge, which features a very smooth slow down in momentum and an really cool yet unhurried ramp back up towards the final chorus through the use of raps and high notes, everything else in the Step Back‘s instrumental just felt like it was on a loop. The same synths was just on repeat and there was never any new offering (until we got to the bridge). And even the final chorus, which was an opportunity for Step Back to concentrate or offer something new (or do anything more than feature the same loop), just featured the same synths we heard earlier on in the song. The melodies have a nice ring to them, but they do feel slightly monotonous. A major help to Step Back were the vocals, which I have already described as powerful. Standalone, each member really had their moment to shine in Step Back, with the many high notes flooring me. But as I mentioned at the start of this paragraph, the powerful vocals do become a bit of an issue when it comes to the chorus which all (if not most) members of this super female group contribute to. I just felt all of them singing at once created an overwhelming effect, which felt slightly uncomfortable in my opinion. Had the vocals been toned back, just by a slight amount, this effect would not have been apparent and Step Back would have just have repetitive issue as its Achilles’ heels.
Another reason to why I had not reviewed Step Back earlier on was that I was waiting around for an actual music video to drop. But that never happened. Instead, the performance video that was first release stands in as the main promotional video. It looks cool and all. But I felt a proper music video would have helped made everything feel more dynamic and interesting, rather than seeing the same set and outfits for almost four minutes. The performance video does make do, however. I liked how the lighting in the background helps transform the same set into what felt like a few different sets. The performance itself was pretty amazing. I did like the sassy attitude that the performance featured, which is miles away from the disappointing lyrics. They really put all of their energy and power into making the performance a strong one, and it delivered.
Song – 7/10 Music Video / Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.4/10
SEULGI is nominated for Best New Female Soloist and Best Solo Choreography (Female) in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support SEULGI and your other favourite artists, songs and performance by clicking here to vote today.
SEULGI made her solo debut weeks ago with 28 Reasons, the title of both her title track and her debut mini-album. Today, I will be reviewing her mini-album, which features an additional five tracks alongside 28 Reasons (the title track). More recently, SEULGI has returned with Red Velvet for their latest release, Birthday. But this particular review is for SEULGI and her high calibre solo debut mini-album, so let’s go!
2. Dead Man Runnin’ – Dead Man Runnin’ is the track that sticks in my mind the most from this mini-album. It is haunting to R&B listen to, but it just remains with you. It might be the due to the soaring chorus that inclines out of nowhere but manages to do so in a stylish manner. It might be due to the lyrics, which expresses the vengeance one intends for the person who caused them pain. But I think it is because of SEULGI’s vocals, which leaves my jaw hanging open and complete floored each time I listen to the song. (10/10)
3. Bad Boy, Sad Girl (ft. Be’O) – In a completely different style, SEULGI brings to the album a hint of cutesy vocals in this otherwise R&B number. For the most part, Bad Boy, Sad Girl was a fine song. But the issue for me comes about when BE’O starts. I felt the way he started his featuring was a bit too overpowering for my liking. While his featuring does settle down and does allow SEULGI to come back into the song, I am still not keen with that shock. But we do get some good harmonies from the pair. (7/10)
4. Anywhere But Home – Anywhere But Home is a pleasant track to my ears, featuring an upbeat and funky backdrop (thanks to the bassline). There is also an atmospheric undertone to the single, which helps the single come off as dreamy. And SEULGI’s smooth vocals complement this dreamy aspect so well. The melodies were catchy and memorable. The electric guitar riffs at the very end of the song were really cool. My only question is regarding the start, which didn’t add much value to Anywhere But Home in my opinion, aside from reiterating the title. (8/10)
5. Los Angeles – I really enjoyed the suspense the verses of Los Angeles had going on. It brought a clubbing beat to the track that felt sensual and flirty in a way. I like how the song gears towards the chorus, before the beat drops into EDM territory. The whole journey was really exciting and cool. It does repeat and the rest of Los Angeles doesn’t offer anything new in the lead up or during second or third rounds at the EDM drop. But it is still a blast that I would gladly put on my playlist. (9/10)
6. Crown – Crown returns us back to the haunting vibes that we got at the start of the mini-album (and also ends the album). There is also a regal vibe and tone to Crown, which is just so fitting for the song and SEULGI herself. SEULGI again wows me with her vocals, especially during the chorus, where she serves us with upfront and backing vocals. As the song progresses, the instrumental gets heavier and heavier, and I feel like SEULGI follows through with her vocals. Altogether, it is an amazing end to the album. (9/10)
As you may be already aware, I am currently on a break from the blog to spend some time with family and friends this Christmas. But this does not mean I can’t celebrate the holidays with you, as well. And I do this by sharing a whole bunch of festive themed songs that our favourite and beloved KPOP artists (and companies) have released this year.
Again, I wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays full of joy, laughter and the company of family and friends. If today is business as usual for you or you don’t celebrate the festive season, then I hope today goes seamlessly for you.
And given that from tomorrow we are in an awkward limbo state between Christmas and New Years (honestly, what do we do in during this period?), I will also wish everyone a happy new year.
Red Velvet is nominated for Best Group Performance (Female) for the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards, while aepsa is nominated for Best Female Group of 2022. Support Red Velvet and aespa, along with your other favourite KPOP artsists, songs and performances by clicking here to vote today.
If you have not been made aware of it yet, we are currently in the festive month of December. So it is time to put those Santa outfits on and bring out the Christmas tree. Red Velvet and aespa have the right idea. They have joined hands for a collaborative single Beautiful Christmas, which dropped last week. This new single serves as the title track of the upcoming 2022 Winter SM Town: SMCU PALACE album that will drop the day after Christmas. I guess some of the songs are not exactly Christmas themed, which I believe was the case for last year’s SM Town album.
As per most Christmas-themed songs, Beautiful Christmas exudes a lot of that festive energy that brings a smile to my face. And you know me, I won’t say no to an upbeat track that makes me want to get up and have a boogie, which is also what Beautiful Christmas makes me want to do when it comes to the chorus (more on that in a second). It has the classic tropes of the Christmas holiday such as sleigh bells, Christmas carol references in the lyrics and twinkling percussion. But Beautiful Christmas also features some brass and some deep piano notes, which to me, added a fun vibe to the song. Going back to the chorus, I really enjoyed the sing-along shouty style of the first half of the chorus. It was simple to get right into and just radiated so much positive energy. But it is the second half of the chorus, with the shouty chant that wins me over. I also like how they broke it up between groups for the first two line, before coming together for a third line. Elsewhere, great vocals featured throughout the song, with Wendy and NingNing delivering the peak of Beautiful Christmas with their high notes. The rapping (in the second verse) was a little standard for my liking, but it still fitted into the song. As for the rap-speak in the bridge, that was cringy. My only other gripe about this song is the lyrics. Not something I usually pay attention to, but ‘To my friends and to my family, You mean to me the Christmas time” just doesn’t make any sense and sticks out a sore thump as it is the line that peaks off the song. And given that it delivered to us by Wendy who is a native English speaker, it is a bit embarrassing. But that is just me being picky. Overall, the upbeatness and energy of Beautiful Christmas just wins me over.
Christmas and Winter Wonderland are the two themes running throughout this video for quite obvious reasons. And it is a nice video to compliment the likes of Beautiful Christmas. I did notice a few things (both positive and negatives) that I want to point out. I found Yeri’s “I Like Winter” to be quite cringy when she sings that Winter. It is such an expected pun knowing that aespa was involved in this release, so it came as no surprise to me. NingNing really needs to loosen her facial muscles, particularly for that high note. It looked like she was disinterested from the whole thing at the point. It is quite disappointing, as she was pretty much all smiles throughout the video. Similarly, not too sure why there were some serious facial expressions throughout the video. It was not the time nor place for that! On the most positive side, I really liked the sets that were built for this music video. It all looked really cool and super detailed. I also liked the red dresses that both groups donned during some of the choreography scene. It looked very cute.
I don’t think the choreography for this release is supposed to be taken too seriously. But it is a simple routine that expressed the positivity and upbeatness of the song quite well. I pretty much enjoyed it.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8/10
Red Velvet’s Feel My Rhythm is nominated for Best Group Performance (Female) of 2022 in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards.Support Feel My Rhythm and your other favourite performances, songs and artists in the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED by clicking the link here to vote.
Kicking off this week is Red Velvet, who returns after 8 months with their new single Birthday and the second part of their 2022 The ReVe Festival 2022 series, The ReVe Festival 2022 – Birthday. It follows Feel My Rhythm, their last Korean comeback from March of this year, and the release of their first Japanese studio length album in April of this year (which was headlined by the single Wildside).
To me, Birthday comes off as a muddled and underwhelming song. The instrumental of Birthday is what I considered to be muddled. Birthday continues the similar composition that was present in Feel My Rhythm, where a classical sample (for this track, the piece in question is George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue) is merged into a pop release. And for the purposes of Birthday, the classical sample ends up being mashed with trap elements. It ended up being a decent mix in my view, but I feel like the backing could have been more balance. Birthday places more emphasis on the trap elements, and I personally feel that this overpowers the delicate classical sample. My guess is that this is intended to make the song more riveting in the modern era. But I just feel it doesn’t do the classical element of the instrumental justice. As a result, we don’t get that same satisfaction that we got from Feel My Rhythm. As for the melodies, this is the side of the song that I thought was underwhelming. I feel the melodies and hooks were both underbaked and childish at the same time. This type of melody would have been perfect if the group was starting out. I have no issues with the group embracing a youthful side to their music, just not with an elementary and empty sound that we got in the final product. And preferably, one in which did not feel mismatched to the image they are aiming for/had created for themselves. I also feel like the melodies could have been weightier and more fleshed out. This would have helped Birthday build more character and feel more prominent. Throughout all of the song, there was only one element which I thought was interesting, and it would be cool for the group to explore this element in their releases into the future – the tinge of rock that we got in the bridge. More of it would be on trend this year and would have been great to explore now given that I am not over this rock genre trend. Overall, I think it is safe for me to say that this is not their best work ever.
The music video for Birthday begins with Red Velvet being denied from attending a party by the cartoon Gingerbread Man. In a rather petty move, the members return to the site of the party. But instead of presents like in the initial scenes, the members bring bats to infiltrate the party. They successfully do this, as per the ending scene. But after they defeat the Gingerbread Man. That is what I got out of the video, which was oddly childish in my opinion. I guess it complements the song in that regard. However, there are mature themes in the video, such as the cult-like fashion in which they summoned that balloon bear that shoots from its eyes. Aside from that, I quite enjoyed the colourful nature of the video and the fun energy the members did a great job of conveying throughout the video.
As for the choreography, I don’t see much potential in this department. I am quite surprised at this. I tend to look for the positive in all the negative, but I just thought this routine was relatively weak compared to their past routines. The only aspect that I thought might be worth flagging is that the routine was quite smooth. But aside from that, nothing really stood out..
Song – 7/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 5/10 Overall Rating – 6.9/10
From the final comeback of the week to one of the first. This post focuses on Red Velvet’s Seulgi, who made her solo debut on Monday was 28 Reasons – the title of both the lead single and debut mini-album. This is the first major release from a member of Red Velvet, since their Feel My Rhythm promotions from earlier in the year.
28 Reasons explore some dark and mature sounds, going further from even Red Velvet’s darkest releases. The song is described as a bass-heavy pop dance track. There isn’t much else to the instrumental aside from some whistling and crunchy gurgles effects during the chorus, so the background acts more of a blank canvas due to its minimalistic vibes. Though, it definitely sets the dark tone of the release. This idea of a ‘blank canvas’ enables Seulgi to really take reign in 28 Reasons, showcasing her powerful and stunning vocals that aren’t usually shown off in her group releases as it is done so here. I liked how she offsets the heavy bass with her vocals, which draws you in and doesn’t make 28 Reasons too heavy to digest. I also really enjoyed it when Seulgi amped up her vocals during the chorus, which instantly adds additional oomph and body to 28 Reasons. It does get slightly dry in the second verse, with no further build up occurs and begins the idea of the the song drying out as it progresses. You have to wait for 28 Reasons to reach the mid-point of the bridge to hear it briefly change momentum with a complete stripping of the background, replacing it even with a more vibrating synth and Seulgi rap-speaking in the bridge. This is soon followed with an amazing high note, before reverting back to the same chorus but with extra oomph through what seemed liked an additional layer of vocals on top of what we heard earlier on in the song and ad-libs that follow on nicely from that high note. I do feel that 28 Reasons could have used something more within the background, particularly in that second verse region, just to give it that different feel and give the song more momentum. But overall, 28 Reasons is a good solo debut track that highlights Seulgi’s strengths.
Just like the song, the music video explores dark and mature territory with a very moody, edgy and haunting concept. The moody and edgy sides comes in abundance throughout the video, through the choreography shots and solo moments. I liked how they also share a minimalistic vibe (just like the song) with a very spacious backgrounds and sets with not much going on. The haunting imagery comes during those scenes where Seulgi stands in the grass between transmission towers. In particular, that scene at the very of the video where she stares into the camera. The video, overall, pretty much sums up the song in a visual manner.
I read somewhere recently that the hand actions in the choreography of 28 Reasons was inspired by the Scarlet Witch’s hand motions in Wandavision. That is pretty cool and a nice little crossover for someone who enjoys both KPOP and Marvel Cinematic Universe. I really enjoyed how smooth her movements were. Her charisma and charms were also on full display throughout the performance, making it a captivating stage to watch.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8.5/10
As previously hinted, I am finally getting around to another post under the International Song Reviews umbrella. Apologies for taking forever since the last post (way back from April). This post was supposed to be published last week. But per usual, my time management is horrible and I ran out of time to work on it. Well fret no more, as here it is! For this post, I will be covering Japanese releases from YUNHO, Red Velvet, T1419 and TVXQ, plus an English release from SORN (former member of CLC).
KIMI WA SAKI E IKU – Yunho
Released way back in February of this year, YUNHO returned as a solo artist in Japan with KIMI WA SAKI E IKU, which translates to You Go Ahead. It is a pretty neat track, with a nice and pleasant groove within the instrumental. YUNHO’s husky vocals were smooth, and I liked how he delivered the hooks in the song in a soft manner. I felt the rapping was a bit of a mismatch. I have no doubts that KIMI WA SAKI E IKU needed some sort of rap sequence, but the short and brief stints of rapping we do get in the song were quite crass and were just thrown in there. For the music video, I felt like an aesthetic concept would be more fitting for the song. What we got was pretty standard. and confusing (couldn’t work out a plot). The shout at the start caught my attention (actually, shocked me), but everything else felt very smooth. The visual effects were cool, but the sets/location were relatively boring. As for the choreography, nothing fancy or mind-blowing. But it works well with the softer nature of the song, so that a plus. (6.7/10)
SHARP OBJECTS – SORN
Post-CLC and Cube Entertainment (thank god for the latter), SORN has been releasing a few solo singles. She made her solo debut with RUN under Cube Entertainment last year (which I never got around to writing a review for). But I am not going to let her newer releases pass by. Her first release of this year is titled SHARP OBJECTS, from also way back in March of this year. The song delves into synthwave side of EDM, going with a fairly smooth but also banging instrumental. The cascading effect of the chorus was super cool and very ear-catching. Also ear-catching was SORN herself, who shows off a very mature side in terms of her vocals. I am also loving the retro tinge that the filtering of the vocals bring to SHARP OBJECTS, adding a lot more depth and colour to the song. I found the music video to be quite captivating. Not only does that mature vibe come through visually as well, I really enjoyed watching SORN on screen. Her acting throughout this video was on point. The use of the mannequins was quite creepy, if I am being honest. But it is a charming point of the video. There is a bit of choreography to this release, but I factor the choreography to be part of the music video. I quite liked the sensual vibes that were brought along. (9/10)
WILDSIDE – Red Velvet
Just a week following their Feel My Rhythm comeback, Red Velvet had unveiled their newest Japanese single, WILDSIDE. It officially released at the start of April. I quite liked the vocal centric side of this R&B dance track and the members sound well polished in this song. As a result, it is safe to say that the track falls onto the group’s ‘velvet’ category of releases. I did like the hint of abrasion that the instrumental brought to the song, so it isn’t too smooth and too consistent for my liking. I also enjoyed the prominence of the WILDSIDE‘s hook, as well, with the extra push in the vocal department helping offset that smooth and over consistency. I did wish there was something more dynamic in the song, just to drive it up a bit more. But it was a strong release already. The music video touches on an edgy concept, where they seem to be after that red gem we see in the video. Their black and white outfits are trendy and modern, and give rise to that edginess. But aside from that, there are also some really artsy shots throughout the video, which was interesting. I much prefer the artsy shots, as it felt more fitting for the song. But I did like the idea of changing up the visuals throughout the video. I liked the mature side of this choreography routine. There is a prettiness to it, as well. I wished there was a performance version somewhere to see more of the choreography than what is just in the music video. (8.2/10)
Run Up – T1419
T1419 had released a string of comebacks since their debut with ASURABALBALTA and DRACULA last year, and I have yet to review any of them (I will get to them eventually). But what I have noticed is that I am drawn to their Japanese releases, with Daydreamer from earlier this year being their best release to date. But I am hear to review Run Up, which was released in March of this year as the title track from the group’s first Japanese mini-album, Our Teen:Blue Side. It was re-released as a Korean single in May. I really enjoyed the dance track’s pre-chorus and chorus combination. There was a nice pop to the pre-chorus, and I liked the intensity and energy that comes from the chorus. The hooks were decent and had a nice ring to them. The verses were largely forgettable, which is a slight disappointment given this is where most of Run Up‘s rapping was located. The instrumental was also quite standard and lacked innovation, but there is enough to still be enjoyable. I also wished the vocal work was a bit stronger. Overall, a decent track with room for improvement. For the music video, this is my first time watching it. I love the crisp and high quality visuals we get. It is definitely left a strong impression on me. I feel like there is a plotline somewhere between the three or four settings we get, but I don’t think there were even enough details to even start making it comprehensive. The choreography, on the other hand, looks great. The synchronisation makes the whole thing looks super cohesive and shows off T1419 in a new light to me. (7.8/10)
Epitaph -for the future- – TVXQ
YUNHO returned in March with the other half of TVXQ (i.e. Max Changmin) for the release of Epitaph – for the future –, the duo’s latest Japanese release. Epitaph dips into the genre of rock, which has been a growing trend in the music that I have been reviewing. However, Epitaph mixes it up with classical instrumentation such as violins, allowing for the song to enter epic territory with their rock influences. There is also a musical-like flair to the song. I did find the vocal work from both YUNHO and Changmin to be quite restricted and limited, and I wished they really went in hard. It would have worked really well and potentially take Epitaph to a whole new level. Interestingly, synths entered the song for the dance break. It actually works well and doesn’t disrupt the song’s rock/classical dynamic. The music video depicts both members as opposing representatives – heaven and hell. Not exactly sure the reason for this, but it is a good concept. I liked the prominence of the red colour, without the need of oversaturating the video in the colour red. It was clever. I also like the raining pyrotechnics at the end. It looked very cool. The choreography for this release was alright. I also think it could have gone harder and bolder. But it was still a strong routine. It didn’t do too much and over-delivered, which could easily have happened. It felt refined in its own way. (8.5/10)
As flagged yesterday in the Weekly KPOP Post, I was going to post another album review because I thought I had some time. But I did not have some time. So, before I get on with this week’s new releases tomorrow (and any attempt to catch up on the boat load of releases that I have missed), I decided to make some time. Red Velvet made their comeback earlier this year in March with Feel My Rhythm, which served as the title track of the group’s special mini-album, The ReVe Festival 2022 – Feel My Rhythm. After a long overdue wait, I am finally getting around to reviewing Red Velvet’s release.
My best and honest thoughts about the album is that it is lukewarm. While there was one really great track, in my opinion, the rest of The ReVe Festival 2022 – Feel My Rhythm just played it safe. Do you agree with my thoughts? Let me know below.
2. Rainbow Halo – Rainbow Halo brings forth a pleasant tone with this R&B track. The use of synths in the instrumental was very interesting. It may sound like I don’t like their presence in Rainbow Halo, which is completely incorrect. I do not mind them. However, some of it (especially the vibrating synths that underlays the entire track) could have been toned down to be less noticeable. Though, I will acknowledge that it gives Rainbow Halo an unique feature. On a more positive note, I really enjoyed the vocals and saxophones, both of which adds so much depth in their own way to the song. (8/10)
3. Beg For Me – At first glance, Beg For Me was pretty much a standard R&B track. It took a couple of listens for a few aspects of the song to really pop out at me. Firstly, Red Velvet themselves gives the song a vibrant factor with their vocals. Secondly, the pre-chorus ended up giving Beg For Me some character, which really helped boost up my personal rating for the song. Thirdly, the spoken-rapping in the bridge was on point, and help disrupt the standard nature of Beg For Me. (7.5/10)
4. BAMBOLEO – BAMBOLEO features a synth pop instrumental that dips into the retro sphere that has dominated KPOP for a while now. It is a pretty instrumental. Not a personal cup of tea, but it was a decent one. What caught my attention with BAMOLEO are the vocals, particularly the high pitch falsetto that the members deliver during the chorus. They complement the instrumental very well. I also enjoyed the catchy ‘To the left, to the right…’ soft chant that appeared throughout the song. (8/10)
5. Good, Bad, Ugly – This one is probably the weakest song on the album. Good, Bad, Ugly is one of those songs that I describe as ‘overly consistent’, where the first few seconds of the song are pretty much what you will get as the song progresses along. While this can be a charming point in some songs, more often than not it isn’t. Good, Bad, Ugly does have some nice vocal work, but there wasn’t much else alluring about the song in my opinion. (6.5/10)
6. In My Dreams – The most riveting track of all (aside from the title track) comes at the very end of this special mini-album. In My Dreams has a nursery rhyme or lullaby type of melody for the song’s main hook, which I found to be quite memorable. It isn’t childish, however. It was more flowy and the use of the deeper vocal tone to deliver helped give it a very mature and loaded tinge. The clashing cymbals was a really powerful way to grab my attention and the way the vocals peak during the chorus was very captivating. (10/10)
Also making their comeback at the start of this week is Red Velvet, who returns with their latest mini-album The ReVe Festival 2022 – Feel My Rhythm, a sequel to their The ReVe Festival series (featuring Zimzalabim, Umpah Umpah and Psycho) from 2019. Headlining the new release is the title track Feel MyRhythm. It follows their promotions for Queendom from last year.
There is a bit to unpack with Feel My Rhythm. The song comes off as a mash up of both their ‘Red’ and ‘Velvet’ side. That is, their more energetic and colourful side vs. their softer and mature side (respectively). The ‘Velvet’ side of the song makes its presence known first with it being samples of Bach’s Air on the G String orchestral piece. The ‘Red’ side makes a presence shortly after, coming in the form of the metallic twing and twangs, percussion and the modern aspects of Feel My Rhythm. For the most part, the two profiles compliment well with one another. There were moments in which the ‘Red’ side overly dominated. And while I did not mind one side dominating over the other, these moments (say the instrumental to the rap verse and the bridge) were slightly overwhelming. The group’s vocals were very delicate and soothing in the song, despite what the instrumental had going on. Their higher tones sounded heavenly, and I liked how the members were able to harmonise alongside the melodies of the samples from Bach’s infamous piece. The rapping was a bit of a sore point in the song, particularly in that second verse and that glitchy part of the bridge. It is the case where it felt either too long or just awkwardly inserted in between two great parts (respectively). On the other hand, the first rapping part in the bridge provided a nice touch to help propel Feel My Rhythm towards the peak. Overall, I liked how Red Velvet stayed true to themselves with Feel My Rhythm, utilising both side of their artistry. However, that doesn’t stop me from having a mixed bag of feelings towards the song.
The music video is quite interesting. I am not entirely sure what it showing, but there is definitely a story of some kind that ties together all the spectacular visuals we get of the members. Some of the shots of the members gave me creepy vibes and those birds (no matter what colour) were very terrifying to watch. But I am all for this because it made the video captivating. I also like the sketch filter they had going on with the start and start of the final chorus. It looked cool and felt like the story came from some picture book (probably did, for all I know).
The choreography shots we saw in the video shows a refreshing vibe and delicate set of moves that compliments the song. This plays towards the Velvet side of the song I mentioned, which I personally think was the suitable choice for this song. It also follows nicely from their Queendom comeback last year.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8.3/10
As mentioned yesterday, I will be reviewing solo releases over the last few months which I had not reviewed yet. To start, I will be looking at the solo pre-releases that I should have reviewed before I reviewed the official main title tracks. BamBam (member of GOT7) is one of the solo members that come to mind. He recently came back with the single Slow Mo and second mini-album, B. Also off the B mini-album is the single Who Are You, which features Red Velvet member Seulgi, and was first revealed to listeners at the end of 2021. Who Are You is the focus on this review post.
While it has been over a month ago since both news of and the actual release, I could remember thinking that a collaboration between BamBam and Seulgi was unexpected and surprising, but also exciting and refreshing. And both BamBam and Seulgi proved with Who Are You that the latter points were the most correct. Who Are You is a very light and smooth R&B track that felt just right. While I don’t listen to the song every single day, I thoroughly enjoy its presence every time I do come across Who Are You. There is so much to enjoy in this song, despite there being so little to the track. Who Are You has a minimal atmospheric instrumental, kicking off with a low hum, before bringing in the simple strumming of guitar and then the later addition of a slow soft piano melody in the verses. For the chorus, the piano element is relatively heavier, and we also get some simple percussion, to help kick the song up a notch. But everything from start to end can be described as light, simple and minimalistic, as described initially. What also makes Who Are You so good are the vocals from both artists. The set up of them echoing each other is so impactful and added a profound colour to the song. It made the song so interesting. Individually, BamBam really surprised me with his softer and gentle vocals in this song. It suits him so well, and the textures that his raspy vocals brought to the table helped made Who Are You so good. As for Seulgi, her light and higher tone balanced out the song, making the entire track more pleasant and smoother. Overall, Who Are You is an amazing single, and BamBam and Seulgi pairing is perfect.
For the music video, I liked it. I felt the different scenes were aesthetic and artistic. I liked the idea of both set and outdoor scenes. The video didn’t feel confined or restricted in anyway as a result, which gave a lot of breathing space to me as a viewer. I am sure there are meaning behind some of the individual scenes, but I don’t have the intelligence to break it down and decipher it this time around. My main gripe about the music video is some of the scenes appeared too dark and it was hard to see what as going on. It was probably done for an aesthetic or artistic reason, but it distracted me and hindered the process of me trying to take everything in.
The choreography routine, performed by both BamBam and Seulgi, is a contemporary piece that is both smooth and captivating to watch. It definitely highlights both BamBam and Seulgi’s skill set as performers and shows them off in such a mature lighting. They also perform in a very harmonious manner, which boosts up the routine to the next level.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 8.5/10 Performance – 10/10 Overall Rating – 9.1/10
Next album review is Red Velvet’s Queendom, the group’s sixth mini-album. It is the group’s first comeback since the release of The ReVe Festival: Finale in 2019, which is headlined by Psycho, which was unfortunately cut short due to a stage accident involving Wendy, which left her and Red Velvet absent as a whole group throughout 2020. Queendom (the mini-album) is headlined by the title track of the same name, both of which was released mid-August of this year.
2. Pose – Pose seems to find a balance between Red Velvet’s Red and Velvet side (again, do they still categorise their releases between the two?) and reminds me of their past hits. Pose had that quirky element within in its synth pop instrumentation. It made the song lively and quite fun. I also like the bass that we got as part of the background, which gave it depth and an intriguing influence. The smoothness of the vocals, especially in the chorus, and the rapping gave Pose a level of sophistication that aligns with the group’s Velvet side. It isn’t a mind-blowing say, but it was nice overall. (8/10)
3. Knock On Wood – Knock On Wood is another pleasant pop song. The synths in Knock On Wood definitely added to the song, making it more interesting, and added texture to the otherwise plain song. It isn’t an overwhelming amount, allowing the song to achieve that ‘pleasant’ description. The vocals further showcases, especially when the members sing together in the chorus. There was a bit of catchiness in the ‘Knock Knock’ hook. My only gripe about the song is the high pitch ‘Knock Knock’ that Yeri (for the first post-chorus hook) and Irene (for the second post-chorus hook) delivers in the background as an echo of the hook. (8/10)
4. Better Be – I personally liked the direction in which Better Be was going in. The song has this really smooth urban chicness feel to it, which stood out for me. This is thanks to an instrumental. The consistency (which tends to be a sore point for me) worked incredibly well in this song and aided the members to bring out that chicness through their contributions to the song. I really like the husky whispering of the song’s main hook, and the amazingness of the vocals during the verses and choruses. The harmonies also boosts up the song, while the rap-speak was well suited for this song. (9/10)
5. Pushin’ and Pullin’ – We get a bit more oomph in Pushin’ and Pullin’ thanks to the drums and bass. It is what is missing from the album. While it does align itself with the rest of the album, this is my pick for the strongest song on the mini-album. This is simple because of that oomph and that extra serving of vocals we get in Pushin’ and Pullin’. It was their strongest effort yet (on this album), as evident by the ad-libs. The R&B instrumental had a striking factor to it, thanks to the piano and drums. (9/10)
6. Hello, Sunset (다시, 여름) – We have heard sophisticated, pleasant and chic sounds from Red Velvet. And now it is dreamy Red Velvet. I really like how light the group’s vocals, especially when they sing together for the chorus. It was warm and definitely soothing. Instrumentally, the song is quite simple, tapping into the R&B genre, and there isn’t anything special about it. But if you were to take away one thing from Hello, Sunset, it definitely has to be the vocals. (7/10)
After a year and seven months since Psycho, Red Velvet have made their grand and elegant return to the KPOP scene with Queendom. It had definitely been while since a full group’s comeback. Wendy spent most of 2020 recovering from her horrible accident at the end of 2019 and Irene had an unprofessionalism scandal last year. However, it all wasn’t bad news during this hiatus. Irene and Seulgi formed a subunit and promoted both Monster and Naughty last year, while Wendy and Joy made their respective solo debuts with Like Water and Hello earlier this year. Yeri also debuted as an actress. But it is really great that we can finally see the five members regroup and promote together again!
Queendom falls more on their Velvet side/concept of releases. For those who don’t know (do they even still use this method to describe their releases anymore?), Red Velvet’s releases can be either of their ‘Red’ concept (vibrant and bold concepts) or ‘Velvet’ (classy and toned down concepts). If you are a fan of Red Velvet, you can hear the ‘Velvet’ profile from a mile away. The new song is a pop track, but it quite subdued in comparison to their other works. It still has an upbeat instrumental, which I think makes Queendom still relevant for the current Summer season. There is a nice ‘pop’ to the instrumentation. It also features similar melodies in the chorus, which reminds me of some of their earlier works (that are more on the ‘Red’ side, though). However, the major flaw I found with Queendom is that there was a really standard vibe coming from the song. Pleasant at best, if I were to give this observation a tagline. That being said, I am appreciative of the group’s delivery of the song. The vocal work in Queendom felt refined and elegant, like the rest of the song, its concept alignment and the lyrics of the song (which were all about being ‘kings’ and ‘queens’ of our own lives and that we shine brighter when we come together – adapted from SOOMPI). I also found the vocals to be quite vibrant, which I thought was much needed breath of life to the song (i.e. saving it from the standard nature of the instrumental). I particularly love how Wendy pushes herself in the chorus, her high note and her ad-libs at the end of the song. They were definitely well-placed and helped give the song a bit of zing. The rapping from both Irene and Yeri were also really nicely done and in such a cleanly fashion. The rap-speak delivery felt just right for this song. The‘Ladida-do Ba-badida‘ is also quite catchy. Overall, a pretty decent track from the song. What they lacked in one area, they made up in another area. And it is enough for me to enjoy Queendom.
The music video gives me Harry Potter vibes thanks to all the magic that is going on in the video. But rather than Hogwarts, the music video’s premise is an underground mailing centre, with all the members being a critical member of the postal service. I could feel the elegance from the video and how well it matched the song. But other than that, I feel the ‘pleasant, at best’ tagline would be applicable to this video as well.
Like the song and music video, the choreography (from what I can see in the music video) has that really elegant and flowy nature to it. And because of this, I find it fitting with the song. But it isn’t the most mind-blowing piece from the group. The ‘Ladida-do Ba-badida‘ post-chorus hook looks like it will be the most interesting part of the choreography, since the members each do something different from the looks of it in the first iteration of the hook.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 7/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.7/10
Hello. Welcome back to the usual transmission of song reviews. We start off today with where we left off on Monday. Joy, one fifth of Red Velvet, made her solo debut at the start of the week with Hello and the mini-album of the same name. She is the second member to officially go solo, with the first being Wendy, who made her solo debut earlier this year with Like Water. While we are all excited to hear from Joy (and the other members through solo and unit promotions), I am still waiting for a full group Red Velvet comeback, which hasn’t occurred since December 2019 with the release of Psycho. But I guess we just have to wait a little longer. In the meantime, let’s have a listen to Joy’s Hello.
If Monday’s review was for an emotionally charged rock track is at one end of the spectrum, then Hello is another rock-influenced track at the other end of the spectrum. Joy’s Hello is cover of a 1999 single titled Good Bye by Park Hye Kyung. I personally do not have much to say about the song aside from the fact that I really liked it. I didn’t know what to expect from Joy when it was announced that she would be making her solo debut. So I was geninuely surprised to hear such an enjoyable song that really boasts addictive and colourful energy. Joy’s cover carries over the same energy and cheerful vibe from the original song. If anything, Joy’s version amplifies the energy, released in a day and age where technology gives that opportunity to take it to the next level. But the rock influences within Hello is only one side of the song’s instrumental. There is a lot of brass during the chorus to really heighten the energy and happy feeling of this version. And this really appeals to me (because you know I like my brass). I also find the song really suitable for the upcoming season of Summer, as it is chirpy, extremely upbeat and refreshing to listen to. It ticks all the boxes of what you would want in a song positioned for release in Summer. As for her vocals, I find Joy’s vocals make this version super sweet and youthful, which fits her image and personality. Like the original song, the choruses was probably its most defined moments, with the verses falling into the forgettable category unfortuately. The chorus had the really catchy and colourful melodies that the song relies on. Overall, Hello was a great step for Joy for her solo career. Hopefully she returns soon with an original track as the title track that shows off more of her skillset!
The music video for Hello was super cute. While I am sure there is a deeper meaning to the video, just looking at what you can see on the screen in a literal sense already brings a smile to your face. Based on the start of the video, it appears that Joy is in some sort of stagnant part of her life. She clearly looks tired and is pretty much over whatever she is experience. So after some responsible cleaning up, she starts afresh and goes on a road trip. On this road trip, she comes across a young girl and decides to take her home. The only probably is, she is relying on a map that is handdrawn (by the young girl I persume). So she seeks the assistance of local bikers. seafood divers, farmers and surfers, who point her in the direction of the young’s girls home. After a long road trip, we see Joy reunite the young girl with her family. It is such a happy and feel-good type of video, complimenting the energy coming from the song. Even the waves and smiles on the faces of the locals bring one to your face.
Not entirely sure if there will be any choreography for this solo debut. Based on the original performance of the original version, there was no choreography. Instead a live band played in the background while Park Hye Kyung sang live. There is a possibility that Joy might do the same. But I think this is a great opprtunity to separate the cover from the original. We will find out more come Friday when she makes her first appearance on stage with Hello.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 10/10 Performance – To Be Updated Overall Rating – 9.4/10 (To Be Updated)
Next up on the list of solo releases that I am reviewing this weekend is Wendy’s solo debut title track. Like Water is the title of her debut single and it was released on the Monday that just past, alongside her debut mini-album (which shares the same name). Wendy is also the first member of Red Velvet to officially begin a solo career in the music industry. She has done some solo work before through collaborations and OSTs previously, but has not been given the opportunity to promote a mini-album under just her name. This official start is also a return to music promotions for Wendy. For those who missed the news back in 2019, she was badly injured at after a stage fall while performing Psycho, which left her in hospital for a while. She was notably absent in 2020, so that she could rest and recover from her injuries. She did release some music, but nothing substantial. Early 2021, she returned as a member of Red Velvet for a SM Concert. But things have been quiet on that front since that major performance milestone for Wendy and Red Velvet.
I was not surprised when I realised that Like Water was going to be a ballad. Firstly, the title felt like a name you would give to a ballad. Secondly, as Wendy is the main vocalist of her group, it is typically the expectation that she would go down that route as many main vocalists have done before. But don’t get me wrong. I am not saying Like Water is like any other typical comeback. Like Water wowed me when I first heard the song. And that is solely due to the captivation spell that Wendy had me under with her vocals. Her high notes were flawless, enabling the song to soar to new heights. Another positive about the vocal department in this song is how clear and straightforward her vocals were. While it may sound like I am referring to that ‘typical’ description again, I actually in fact appreciate this direction. It is always nice to hear a release that is not complicated or overdone once in a while. And so Wendy’s Like Water comes at a perfect time for me. I also find that Wendy’s vocals in this song remind me of labelmate’s Taeyeon’s vocals (and that is a high compliment to give someone, given Taeyeon’s power and influence in the industry). The melodies in this song are so flowy, feeling like a natural water stream you would hear in a forest. What makes Like Water unique is the folksy instrumentation we get. It may sound like another typical contemporary ballad with its instrumentation if you simply take a glance at it. But when you pay close attention, you find that there is a fair bit of a folk influence to its makeup. And if you still question it, then the instrumental break we get about half way through the song should be enough to prove you otherwise. Altogether, Like Water is a stunning ballad that shows off Wendy’s vocals and marks the return of the Red Velvet member to the KPOP music scene.
The song Like Water isn’t an emotional one. Rather, it has a happy tone to it that makes you want to smile. (For those who don’t know, Wendy likens her love to her partner to the need and feeling of water in the lyrics). That smile feeling is shown throughout the video, with Wendy smiling whilst delivering her lines. One thing I liked about the video is how the video captured Wendy from afar. In many of those scenes where you can tell there is some distance between Wendy and the camera, you will notice they are pretty wide shots and there is a lot of space above her. To me, I think it shows how there is no clouds above her (which would commonly be synonymous with breakup ballads and emotional songs). There is imagery of rain throughout the video which make sense given the song is about water. But I find it smart to not include grey clouds (i.e. the source of that rain), which can be heavy and loaded at the same time, and this would not be a good fit for the video.
Song – 10/10 Music Video – 8/10 Overall Rating – 9.2/10
It is time for another album review. Today’s album in focus belongs to Red Velvet’s first unit, Irene & Seulgi. This duo debuted on earlier this month with Monster as the main promotional track. Two weeks later, the duo followed up with Naughty, which wowed fans (including myself) with its awesome sound and jaw-dropping dance. Both Irene and Seulgi also had solo videos, with Seulgi’s solo video also doubling up as a music video for her Uncover solo that is also on this mini-album. All the links to the songs I mentioned are below. And while listening to each song, why not read my deep dive into the album and the side-tracks.
3. Diamond – I really like the sensual vibes that we get from Diamond. It is that sleek style of R&B that reminds me of their rendition of Be Natural (previously released back in in 2014). In comparison to that song, Diamond has a bit of more energy to it, thanks to the beat in Diamond’s instrumental. While the instrumental is already quite weak, the song gets stripped at the bridge. Its placement really helped prevent the song from being too consistent, which is a common occurrence with R&B songs like this. The vocals from both members were quite nice throughout this song. They really do suit the R&B style as proven by this track. I also like the diva-vibes that come off the ‘Diamond in the rough’ repetition that opens and closes the song. (8/10)
4. Feel Good – Feel Good continues the R&B sound from the preceding track. This one has more of a kick to it when it comes to the chorus. While there is a consistent backbone that runs throughout most of the song, the chorus features a suitable but typical selection of synths. While the choice of style made sense and felt natural, it lacked uniqueness and memorability. And hence, it did come off as a bore to me. This is quite a pity, because I liked the direction in which the verses and pre-chorus was taking, especially the ramp up to the chorus. I just wanted a little more to the chorus. Not too much to throw the song off balance, however. The vocals were good. They sounded emotionless at times, but I felt that was appropriate when I went through the lyrics about feeling indifferent to their ex-lover and ruining their ex-lover’s life. (7/10)
5. Jelly– I expected Jelly to be a lot more upbeat regardless of their choice of genre. And that was delivered. In fact, I find the instrumental to be teasing us with its playful nature. It is subtle, but likeable. Once again, the vocals are quite good. I liked how they bolstered themselves up by singing together. It added a bit more energy to the song. I also enjoyed the use of brass in the song. It adds to that subtle playful nature that I mentioned. But it does so in a refined way that fits the R&B sound we get on this album. I would have enjoyed the song more if had stronger hooks and melodies. I felt the song lacked memorability due to the two lacking components. I did find the high pitched ‘What’ just before the chorus to have a bit of that memorable factor. But it wasn’t enough. (8/10)
6. Uncover (Seulgi Solo) – Uncover was the special track on the album and performed only by Seulgi. A music video was released for Uncover during the same week when we got the Naughty music video (I think was last week). As expected, Uncover takes on R&B. It is an aesthetic song, based on its abstract and choppy instrumental. I really like the small details in the instrumental, which adds to that aesthetic appeal and some textural components to the song. Her vocals are really nice in this song and adds a smooth flair to the song that the instrumental lacked due to those small details I just mentioned. It isn’t the most memorable song the album, but it definitely is a strong one nonetheless based on music and vocals alone. (8.5/10)
You may know that I have been withholding a few reviews as the corresponding music videos were released after I already covered them in my album review segment on this blog. And as promised, those missed music videos reviews will be out soon. But I do still watch them! Today, I had a listen and watched Red Velvet – Irene & Seulgi’s latest music video release for Naughty and just knew that this needs its standalone review. And that is why we are here. I have yet to review their Monster mini-album but I have previously reviewed the Monstertitle track, which you can read after this review.
With Irene & Seulgi’s mature and dark turn with this Monster unit debut, Naughty‘s presence on the album felt appropriate, but also a missed opportunity. When I first listen to the album, Naughty seemed to be the most logical choice for the title track over Monster. Monster had a dullness to it, which let down the chosen title track. Naughty, on the other hand, had a level of dynamism and hypnotic appeal that just clicked. And this helps overtake that dullness that I was disappointed with in the actual title track. This song takes on deep house and features many crunchy synths to give Naughty a wonderful sense of texture. I really liked the sassiness that started the song and stayed in the background during the verses. I liked the bass that comes along with the song, adding to the already mentioned dynamic atmosphere of the song. I liked how the chorus had a chant-like delivery, which was thoroughly interesting and helped with the said appeal. The vocals during the rest of the song was quite good. I still do think Naughty could have used something more, like a rap sequence to add some further edge to the song or add an additional layer of intensity. But what we got anyway is already enough to satisfy me. And given how positive my thoughts on the song were, Naughty is obviously a superior track on the album.
The ‘Episode 1’ in the title of the music video confuses me. Does that mean that the unit will be releasing music videos for all side tracks? Or is something else coming our way? No one knows. I guess we just have to wait and see. In the meanwhile, I thought the music video for Naughty was terrific. It is more of a performance video, given its focus on the choreography and it strays away from the use of closeups. I felt the start and end of the video where the two are walking towards and away from each other felt a little unnecessary, unless they are what connects the ‘episodes’ together. I would have been fine with the choreography centered shots as they had really good post-production and its simplicity with the grey-scale tones made it aesthetic. I really liked the solo shots where the member in focus is dancing opposite the member behind the camera. It definitely looks like we are doing the performance and adds a unique depth to the video.
The performance for Naughty definitely leaves a wowing impression. The mixture of voguing (Not too sure if this is the right category of the moves as the tempo doesn’t necessary match what I associate with voguing, but given their use of their arms) and tutting in this performance looks very cool and hypnotic. It will definitely be a stand out routine of the year given its visual appeal.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 10/10 Overall Rating – 9.2/10