The new week starts off with a number of comebacks, making it hard to decide which song to review first. I left the selection up to my Twitter feed, and Rocket Punch’s FLASH appeared up top on my timeline. And so, I am here to kick the week off with my review for FLASH. This comeback follows the group’s CHIQUITA and Yellow Punch Korean comeback, and their Japanese single release FIORE, from earlier in the year.
Rocket Punch turns to heavy beats and electro synths in FLASH, making this track suitable for a club or party environment. The bass really oomph up the song and gives FLASH definition and depth, aspects of a sound profile that definitely sounds good. Surely, one would seize at the opportunity to really build this instrumental into a dynamic piece. Well, I don’t think FLASH did. There was this generic and typical tone to the vocals that left me so disappointed. The verses were a bore to get through, with the same twinkling-like synth done time and time again and there was a clear lack of excitement in the vocals department. The pre-choruses and first and second rounds of the choruses faired better. The ramp towards the chorus definitely felt strong and did bring in that dynamic factor that I hoped for (but it was brief and I would have liked to see dynamism throughout the rest of FLASH). The choruses featured catchy hooks and melodies. Vocally, there was improvement in the chorus, especially with the higher pitch in the first half. The final chorus, on the other hand, was a massive let down. As soon as we launch into it, we are thrown back into the ‘Light Signal Action‘ repetition half of the chorus, exactly how it was given to us in the first round of the chorus (which I did enjoy). This would have been fine, but the issue with the final chorus was that this repetition was just on repeat and just felt so draining. The same instrumental was used and there just wasn’t anything extra to give FLASH a last hurrah before ending. Overall, FLASH had a good set up, but it just didn’t eventuate.
Like the song, the music video was quite underwhelming. I look at the other artists of Woolim Entertainment (i.e. Golden Child and DRIPPIN) and see such strong music videos. And I turn to the accompanying video for this comeback and feel quite disappointed. The video needed more flashes in terms lighting and didn’t needed to have such a pale colour scheme. The solo shots were standard and the sets could have been a bit more dynamic (and not from one of those one-stop shops of video sets). Rocket Punch deserves a cool video, just like their other labelmates.
Why is performance video that was released today so bright? It was extremely distracting to focus on the choreography. I hope we will not be seeing Rocket Punch on stage with every light bulb directed at them. Aside from my mini-rant just now, the choreography looked good. I liked the flash hand movements they had in the chorus. I just wished the moves were a bit sharper, just so the routine has a more polished look.
Song – 6/10 Music Video – 5/10 Performance – 7/10 Overall Rating – 5.9/10
I have been holding onto this album review for quite some time now, and have finally finished writing it up. So without any further delays, here is my review for Yellow Punch, Rocket Punch’s fourth mini-album. It was released way back in February of this year, and is lead by the title track CHIQUITA. In addition to the title track, Yellow Punch also features four side tracks (included in the final rating for the album) and one instrumental introductory track (not included in the final rating for this album).
This is the first time I am reviewing Rocket Punch in the album review segment of my blog. Their past mini-albums have never really attracted much attention from me. But while vetting Yellow Punch when it was first released, all of the side tracks perked my interest and therefore it got a spot on the agenda for an album review. The same interest remains until today! It is a strong album release and I enjoyed every single song on this album. Maybe Yellow Punch might perk my interest enough to get me to look at their past three mini-albums to see whether they deserve their own album review.
1. YELLOW PUNCH – Yellow Punch (the album) starts off with an instrumental track that is a mix of genres. I quite like the flow of this one, easing us in a neat fashion towards the title track (the next track on the album). We get atmospheric keyboards to start off with (and in between each distinct section), before moving onto a pulsing R&B sound and then vibrant electro-retro synths before ending back again with that atmospheric keyboard.
3. In My World (주인공) – In My World ups the tempo but continues the retro influence from the title track through its electropop disco-esque influence. I quite like the amped up tempo as it makes the song quite thrilling and exciting to listen to. I like how prominent the vocals were, allowing it to standout over the instrumentation (which already felt bold), and also enjoyed the texture of the scratchy vocals following the second chorus. The high notes were also impressive. All of this makes In My World the mini-album’s standout side track. (10/10)
4. Red Balloon (덤덤) – Red Balloon is an effortlessly groovy track that is quite catchy. If you have been reading my blog for a long time, you know how much I love a minimalistic track. And Red Balloon definitely hits the brief for one as it doesn’t rely on much instrumentally. Also, the song’s main hook (i.e., the ‘Dun Dun’) was extremely simple, but super effective. I like the inclusion of brass in the bridge, which adds a nice ‘something extra’ to the song, just to keep it fresh and lively. (9/10)
5. Love More (어제, 오늘 내일보다 더) – Love More also opts for a simpler direction but dips into a softer pop genre instead. The guitar work in the instrumental was bright and adds a nice funky touch to the song. What I quite enjoyed the Love More the most, however, was the clear and crisp vocals. It was velvety and smooth, which is pretty much my style. (8/10)
6. LOUDER – Usually, I like it when albums ease us out with a softer and more palatable track. It is just a nice way to end an album. LOUDER is neither of those descriptions, opting for loud, intensity and erratic synths. This time around, I don’t mind it. There is a charming appeal to LOUDER that makes it an interesting and intriguing song. I also like how the chorus’ synth hits hard, and this adds a memorable element to the final song on the album. The vocal work was also quite striking, though I did think it could have been cleaner. (8.5/10)
The second comeback that kicks off this week is Rocket Punch’s return with CHIQUITA and their Yellow Punch mini-album, which is their fourth one since debut. This new release follows Rocket Punch’s 2021 comebacks, which includes their awesome singles RING RING and (their Japanese debut single)Bubble Up.
CHIQUITA continues the retro sound that RING RING delved into. And CHIQUITA definitely satisfies with its retro influences. I love the 80s disco sound that the group draws upon in the chorus. It just hits in all the right spots for me. The bridge had this mature spin, which was extremely likeable. The double ending synthesizer extension we got at the end was also very satisfying, and provided that extra bit more in a classy way that CHIQUITA felt like it needed. The group also shows off vibrant vocals that make CHIQUITA punchier and louder, which takes the song to the next level for me. The utterances of the title, CHIQUITA, had this elegant feel to it, while the melodies had a bold and memorable feel to it. But while it seems like the song is getting all praises, there were some minor touchup the producers could have done to really take it up further to the next level. The first is in regards to the verses, which felt slightly underwhelming and a tad empty for my liking. It just felt like there was a slight imbalance between retro influences, giving the impression that the verses were slightly weaker. I wished it was had more retro detailing/touches to make it feel bolder and on par with the chorus. The second are their vocals in the later parts of the CHIQUITA. I wished the producers played around a bit more to give CHIQUITA‘s last chorus (in particular) an extra boost and concentration of energy. But as mentioned, they are minor things. CHIQUITA, as presented, is a great song already!
Like the song, the video also takes on a retro concept. While there was some nice visuals and effects in the music video, I felt like more could have been done to make this video look more retro. This would have made the video much more exciting to watch and probably reel myself in for a few more replays. What we got was heading in the right direction, but lacked some elements (for example, more disco balls and neon lights, more outfits that align with that era) for me to call it a pure retro concept fitting for the music.
The choreography was quite good. I really enjoyed the chorus routine, which really hit the spot alongside the song. I also enjoyed the spinning of half the group at the start of the routine, and the bridge sequence as well.
Song – 9/10 Music Video – 7/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8.2/10
It has been a bit of a break since the last International Song Review post. So today, I will return with five additional reviews for the non-Korean music released more recently around the world by some of our favourite Korean artists. On this post’s lineup, we have TWICE, ATEEZ, SHINee and Rocket Punch with their latest Japanese releases, and Jackson Wang (one seventh of GOT7) with his not-so-recent new English single. So without further ado, here are the reviews!
Perfect World – TWICE
For those who follow my blog, you may recognize that this isn’t the first time that TWICE’s Perfect World is being featured on it. For a number of weeks, Perfect World has been my pick for the Non-Korean KPOP release of the week corner of my Weekly KPOP Charts posts since its music video was released at the end of June 2021. What really draws my attention to Perfect World is the Latin influence that is featured in the song. While I do find the Latin trend to be overused in KPOP, I found its use in this song is be pretty dynamic and refreshing. I attribute this to the combinational use of rock and brass in the song. I also like the theatrical nature of the ‘Get out, Get lost‘ section of the chorus, which adds depth and punch to the song. it also helps that particular sequence was super catchy and I cannot get it out of my head. Perfect World itself also shows off an additional mature side of the group that is a lot darker and fiercer that usual. For the music video, I really liked the two sides of styling in this music video. One shows off an alluring side of the group, with the members donning sophisticated and stylish outfits that distracts the males in the population, causing havoc around them. The other takes on that fiercer look, almost militaristic. I liked the concept, but pretty much thought the video went a bit crazy (in terms of plotline) when the car crashed into the theatre. I did like how the stage came crashing down behind them. Just thought the idea of audience going crazy a bit over the top. For the choreography, I really liked where they were going with it. I liked how they showed off their mature side in this performance, with the ‘Get Out. Get Lost‘ sequence being my favourite. I also think the Latin influenced instrumental break was another great moment, though I wished there was more of that Latin influence in the choreography. (8.5/10)
Dreamers – ATEEZ
ATEEZ released their first original Japanese single, titled Dreamers, at the end of July. It also doubles up as one of the ending themes for the recently rebooted Digimon series (now that is one throwback to my childhood). Dreamers is probably ATEEZ’s most melodic release to date, opting for a tropical pop vibe that definitely reminds you of Summer. If you had expected something intense like their Korean title tracks, then prepare to be disappointed. That being said, I am all for spotlighting unexplored territory for groups. And Dreamers does just that, showcasing a more delicate and light side of the group. The song focuses more on melodies, allowing the vocal line of the group to flourish. The ‘Oo La La La’ part is such a catchy hook. However, the rappers are given equal opportunities to bring some of their inherent intensity to the song through their rap sequences. I am glad they did, as they kept the song going for me and gave us brief breaks from the melody. Otherwise, I fear that Dreamers would have been overly repetitive and evolved to be a boring song just simply by reaching the end of the song, if not multiple listens to the song. As for the music video, it was a pretty simple one with the members outside in the forest and along the beach. It was pleasant and Summery, matching the tone of their new song. I also liked how breezy the video was, highlighting the refreshing side of the song as well. (8/10)
SUPERSTAR – SHINee
SHINee’s return to their group’s music career isn’t complete without the return to the Japanese market, which they have been active in since 2011. Earlier this year, the group returned with Don’t Call Me and Atlantis in Korea. And before Taemin enlisted into the military, the group returned with their first ever Japanese mini-album which shares the same name as the title track. SUPERSTAR, while is another pleasant track, it also rather forgettable for the most part. However, that doesn’t mean that SHINee didn’t do a good job. Their vocals and rapping were all pretty good and showed solid effort. The funky instrumentation was a good element, which helped give the song that aforementioned pleasant vibe. I also liked incorporation of brass and when the members sang together. I feel that SUPERSTAR could have been better with stronger hooks and melodies. But overall, still a decent song. For the music video, it begins with the members at a press conference and in front of the cameras. But the rest of the video shows the more homey life of the group. Not too bad of a concept. I did like the cool transition in the video into the SuperStar Revolution arcade game. The best aspect of this release for me is the choreography. It is simple but definitely works extremely well with the pleasant feel of the song. I also liked the chemistry they brought to the performance, interacting with one another and keeping the choreography light and carefree, rather than a strict and precise routine. It made everything enjoyable and definitely showcases their bond after 13 years. (7.6/10)
LMLY – Jackson Wang
I feel that Jackson Wang is a recurring artist on this segment, as he continually pumping out songs in English and Chinese (and I already I put him down for the next post as well for a more recent release). But I am not complaining and I am sure that IGOT7 and AGHASEs are enjoying the continuous release of songs from Jackson. LMLY (Leave Me Loving You) was a single released way back in March (sorry for the delay with this review). It was a surprising listen. After songs like 100 Ways,Pretty Please and his more recent ventures into balladry, I didn’t expect Jackson to return with a synth-pop song (though I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest). But guess what? I have been loving it! I really like the light nature of the instrumentation in the song and the retro touch is has. It contrasts really nicely with Jackson’s husky vocals which are on full display throughout the song. I also like how you can hear that tinge of heartbreak behind his voice, fitting for the lyrics and the concept of the video. To me, LMLY and the rest of Jackson’s discography that I have reviewed so far has shown me that Jackson is capable of anything. Excited to hear what he releases next and what direction he will go with in his upcoming Korean release that he has been talking about. For the video, I just love the control that Jackson has over what he releases, ever since he left JYP Entertainment. He continues bringing in that 90s Hong Kong movie style and atmosphere. For LMLY, he is a dishwasher who falls in love with a customer. Throughout the video, we see him make moves towards the customer, but it all turns out that it is in his head and not real life. The bummer twist is that she goes off to marry another guy (who looks like he didn’t want to be in a relationship with her, but I guess that might just be Jackson’s imagination as well), leaving Jackson heartbroken and sad by the time the video wraps up. (9.4/10)
Bubble Up! – Rocket Punch
This is Rocket Punch’s first time on this segment, thanks to the release of Bubble Up!, which is the group’s Japanese debut single. I was a bit reluctant to put the group up for review in this segment, given that their releases (with the exception of Ring Ring) have been misses or long forgotten for me. But I am always willing to give groups another chance and I am glad that I did for Bubble Up!. It may not be the best song out there and it isn’t a song that I would usually listen to at all. But Bubble Up! definitely has its merits. First and foremost, it is enjoyable and pleasant. It is another cutesy song, fitting neatly into the group’s discography thus far. But it isn’t over to the top sweet or cutesy, which I appreciate. Secondly, I liked how dynamic the instrumentation was. The various effects and synths all came together nicely to create a cohesive piece. With the exception of the slow down in the first verse, I am practically fine with the song. That slow down felt a bit random and was unnecessary. I am glad the second verse didn’t have anything similar. Thirdly, the vocals were quite consistency, and did a good job of making the song catchy and enjoyable. The build to the high note was commendable. I thought the rapping was good, but there wasn’t any substantial part though. Overall, a bubbly and appreciable release (quite a change from the usual criticism I give the group). For the music video, I thought the bright and pastel colours were well used. Definitely fitting that cutesy profile of both group and song. I do question the plummeting of plastic balls and earthquakes throughout the video though. Not what I think of when considering what bubbles are. For the choreography, I thought it was fine and matching with the song. (7.3/10)
Finally getting around to writing a review for Rocket Punch’s Ring Ring. The female group from Woolim Entertainment made their comeback on May 17 (a while back now) with a new single album which shares the same name as the title track. This is Rocket Punch’s first comeback since the release of Juicy back in August 2020. A week after the release of their new song, Rocket Punch was confirmed to be making their Japanese debut, so there is a chance you will be seeing Rocket Punch back on this blog with a review of their debut single (provided that it isn’t a Japanese version of their Korean title tracks). But until then, here are my thoughts for Ring Ring.
Ring Ring taps into the retro trend. But while we have heard numerous songs of this style in just this the first half of 2021, I have to admit that Ring Ring actually comes off as quite wholesome and likeable. And this alone is a huge improvement from their previous comeback, which I did not enjoy to say the least. Ring Ring features 80s retro metallic synths as the main instrumentation of the song, creating a fun and energetic sound that is synonymous with the retro genre. Ring Ring is particularly good when the song is turned up. While any song would sound better at a higher volume, the higher pitch at which the instrumentation and vocals are at within Ring Ring really need that oomph to stand out and hence benefits at the high volume. The group’s processed and high pitched vocals actually compliment the retro synths in a good way. While I do feel that their vocals were a tinge too cutesy, I do like how they felt bold at the same time, which is a definite plus when it came to the chorus allowing them to be heard on top of the instrumentation. To me, the weakest part of the song is the rap sequence we get in the second verse. It has a trap-centric approach to the instrumentation which felt generic and didn’t really feel retro, given everything surrounding it was retro based. The rap sequence in the bridge was much better and provided a really strong rebuild, launching us into the final chorus. The best part of the song has to be the pre-chorus. Everything in pre-choruses was very ear-catching and well-defined. It was also a really go lead into the chorus, connecting the chorus with the verse in a really cool fashion. Overall, Ring Ring is definitely their best title track yet. Hopefully, Rocket Punch (and their company) can continue the this trajectory.
I really like the sets. They felt very 80s, matching up with the synths and instrumentation of the song. I particularly really liked the massive gas station set. I know, it is just a gas station. But in this music video, it was really cool and tall. In the video, the members wait around for a phone call. Based on the lyrics (Ring Ring is about choosing between two potential love interests, boldly expressing that the subject of the song will go to whoever rings her phone first – taken from Soompi), the members are awaiting a phone call from one of two partners. There is a lot of ringing of all sorts which the members seem to mistaken for the phone. But in the end, the member answered a ringing phone (which came out of a fridge). I am glad that the video didn’t slip into an overly cutesy concept, keeping me onboard for its three and a half minute run.
The choreography did tap into the cutesy side of things. But I won’t hold it against them. It actually worked well with the song and showed off their youthful charms on stage. I particularly like their moves during the song’s main hook. Don’t know why, but it felt very retro and hence suitable for this song.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8/10
It is time for the start of the Saturday catch up. Kicking off the start of four reviews that I will be publishing today (fingers crossed) is Rocket Punch’s comeback, which dropped on Tuesday of this past week. Their title track this time around is JUICY and it is featured on the group’s third mini-album, Blue Punch. This is the group’s first comeback since Red Punch, a mini-album released earlier this year, which featured the title track Bouncy.
I found the tropical sounds and melodies that started off JUICY to be very appealing. It really steered the song into that Summer mindset. However, that appeal was shortlived. The first verse came, but it was largely plain. I should have known this feeling was pretty much foreshadowing what was to come. But I gave the song the benefit of the doubt and dismissed this as some KPOP tracks have pretty typical sounding verses, but the chorus manages to compensate for lacking verses. Unfortuately, this was not the case. JUICY‘s chorus was an extension of the verse, a soulless instrumental being the main driving force of what should be the catchiest sequence of the song. Their vocals just didn’t have much energy or life in them. The melodies did not have a memorable element or any energy to help propel the song forward. The second verse was primarily the same set up, with the addition of a messy trap-based rap sequence that sounds off-putting (if I have to be honest). There is a bit of heft to the bridge of JUICY, but it was undermined with the childish sounds that came from the member’s voices and the return of that off-putting trap sequence. Even when we turn to the song’s main hook (i.e. the ‘Juicy Juicy Juicy‘ repetition, we just get an overwhelming plainness that doesn’t save the song. Overall, I am pretty disappointed with this track. And truthfully, I wouldn’t be returning to this track any time soon.
Given what the song is like, the music video is appropriately filled with aegyo. It surprisingly didn’t feel as cringy as I thought it would be nor did it feel overloaded. But even if that was the case, I can’t complain much as the song did lead the video in that direction. Aside from that, I did like the underwater sets and the bubble visual effects that filled out screens. It does look like it is part of some children’s TV show, but it went well with the concept.
The performance was alright. I liked how the choreography kept on moving for the most part. It makes me look at the dance, as it makes me feel that I might miss something. It isn’t a mind-blowing performance in any way (I feel that if it got to that calibre, it would be a waste given the disappointing song), but it does the job fine.
Song – 3/10 Music Video – 7/10 Performance – 6/10 Overall Rating – 4.8/10
Rocket Punch made a mediocre debut last year with BIM BAM BUM. Their debut track was just another one of those that left me on the fence with both good and bad moments. Now, the group is back to take on the industry with a new track titled BOUNCY. This is featured on the group’s second mini-album, RED PUNCH. Let’s see if the track is any better than their debut song.
I will get straight to the point and address what I had left off at. I do think BOUNCY is better than BIM BAM BUM by a mile. Sure, it takes on that bright pop sound that majority of KPOP female groups attempt. And their debut track did just that. I just find this a lot more energetic and colourful than their debut track. I do like how the song lives up to the group’s name, with the beat during the chorus being literally punchy. There isn’t a dull moment in this song. It is super catchy and the pop moments really do pop out. However, the song isn’t perfect and it does bring back the ‘on the fence’ comment I made previously. The song features hip-hop focused parts and trap-based instrumentation. Usually, this could be infused well into some tracks. In this case, I think it would be best described as ‘trying too hard’. It flip-flops between the two sounds and I don’t think it mashes together well. I also don’t like how they get shout-y during the more intense moments. I think it pushes the group in the wrong direction. There were moments that I feel like they were channeling ITZY as the sounds are similar. That is all good. They just went overkill this time around.
Given the energetic and punchy sound they had going, there was no doubt that the video would be full of colour. It would be a complete dud if the video was dark and mysterious. It just doesn’t work with one another. Other than a colourful video, the video doesn’t have much else to offer content wise. If you are after a video that is definitely lively, then this is a video for you to watch.
Putting the song behind and focusing on the choreography, my comments are slightly different. There is no way this choreography could have come about if the group didn’t have the different sounds that BOUNCY has going on. It is an intense routine that shows off the group’s talent in the performance department. And like the song’s title, the chorus has this bouncy feel that I thought made it a fun routine.
Song – 7/10 Music Video – 6/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 6.9/10
Joining the comeback rush this week is a new group. Rocket Punch comes from Woolim Entertainment, the same company that houses Infinite, Lovelyz and Golden Child. They are a six-member girl group who debuted yesterday with BIM BAM BUM. The lineup of the group is as follows: Juri, Yeonhee, Suyun, Yunkyoung, Sohee and Dahyun. Based on their profile (link here), Juri is a former member of AKB48, who also participated in Produce 48. Earlier this year, she graduated from the Japanese group after deciding to pursue a KPOP career. Suyun and Sohee also participated in the show but were eliminated from the survival show.
I am on the fence when it comes to this track. BIM BAM BUM serves as the debut track for Rocket Punch and it attempts to tackle the bright and cutesy side of KPOP that majority of KPOP girl groups debut with. And it is because of that, the song comes off as generic and standard. I found the verses to be very dull. The instrumental doesn’t really add much to the verses besides being a light background piece. Their voices just don’t sound captivating. The slowdown that they incorporated into the bridge wasn’t that great. If anything, it dulled the song down a little. Once we get towards the end of the song, I noticed that the sound was rather repetitive. But as I said, I am on the fence. I cannot deny how good the hooks are in this song. I could see it growing on me. There are two different choruses, which later morphs into one for the final chorus. I thought this was interesting and played with the structure in a slightly unique way. And the chorus had a nice kick and colour to it, which makes the hooks even more addictive. Though that was interesting. Apart from that, it looks like the disappointing side of the track is winning.
With a track like this, the music video is exactly how I had expected it. The video features a fair bit of colour. It seems like the girls are like aliens, based on the way they interact with the cheetah while eating their popsicles and the fact they have some sort of ray shooting out of their hands when they do gun formations. And maybe they are on a different planet, as when they shoot things, candy comes out. Other than that, I found a bit plain. The story isn’t much and the rest of the video was just closeup and choreography. There really isn’t anything dynamic to talk about.
The chorus is pretty nice. Nothing that impressive. But I did like the various formations they pulled off and the hand movement they did when they sang the title of the song. I also liked their energy and they seemed to handle their performance well despite being newly debuted.
Song – 6/10 Music Video – 6/10 Performance – 7/10 Overall Rating – 6.2/10