[Review] Step Back – GOT the Beat

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

[Album Review] FOREVER 1 (7th Studio Album) – SNSD

Next album review on the blog is for SNSD’s grand return! At the start of August, SNSD regrouped for the first time in 5 years for their new album FOREVER 1 (which is also the title of the title track of the album, as well!). The release of the album also celebrates the group’s 15th anniversary, with the group debuting around the same time 15 years ago! Featured on the album is a total of 10 new tracks, so you definitely can tell that the members put a lot of effort for their fans (SONEs) for this album release! We last saw SNSD promote as a group via their Holiday Night album, which featured Holiday and All Night as the title tracks.

Not even considering the song yet, the idea of FOREVER 1 is already an achievement. Just like the many groups that have regrouped this year for promotions, FOREVER 1 sees the feat of the members returning together. We all know that this is inherently difficult, given each member has their own busy schedules to work around in both preparing and promotional stages of the album. So a big applause to the people who made it happen and the members for pulling it off. Aside from that major win, FOREVER 1 is a great album. There are some very strong tracks alongside the title track. And naturally, there is a nostalgic factor with this album.

FOREVER 1 Album Cover

1. FOREVER 1 (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for FOREVER 1. (9/10)

2. Lucky Like That – Simplicity prevails with Lucky Like That. It was a straight forward pop track, best described as airy and breezy. Whilst listening to the song, I felt it was ideal for a road trip with the windows down. The instrumental still had some heft to it, but it still was quite light enabling that airiness and breezy nature to come through. I also like the solo electrical guitar moment just before the final chorus. Both members’ vocals and when the whole group were singing together were very nice and satisfying. (9/10)

3. SeventeenSeventeen felt elegant and refined, especially during the choruses of the song (which is my pick for most memorable aspect of the song). I really liked the smooth melodies of Seventeen, brought to life by the members. The piano was a nice touch and adds a classical factor to the song. Whilst this track is more R&B, we do get a bit of a touch in the song during Hyoyeon’s rap sequence in the second verse. And I love that, especially since Hyoyeon doesn’t get much opportunity to stand out compared to other members. (8/10)

4. VillainVillain is definitely a trendier track, suitable for the current electronic trends and styles that has taken over KPOP. It is great to hear that the group consistently continues to stay up to date with the musical influences despite their seniority in the industry. I have been doing to some reading and I have found people’s comparison between Villain and aespa’s works is pretty much on point. I did feel the hooks could have been more prominent and bolder, just to give Villain some more oomph and memorability. (7/10)

5. You Better Run – When I read the title of the song, I am instantly brought back to Run Devil Run – a previous title track of SNSD. I liked the alternative approach of this song, with the skitter-ish EDM and punchy bass. It is also very experimental, and I feel that is something more typical of today’s generation of KPOP artist. So props to SNSD for giving this a try. The vocals were impressive, with the members managing to stay interesting over a full-on instrumental like this. You Better Run is definitely memorable and for all the right reasons. (10/10)

6. CloserCloser is your more typical pop release, feeling just right as a side track. I like the disco vibe of the instrumental and how it brings a groovy element to the song. The vocals were quite pleasant and peaceful. The melodies in this track complemented the style really well, and this created a pleasing listen. (8/10)

7. Mood LampMood Lamp feels just how I expected it. One of the halves the song are the vocals, which were very nice and soothing. There were some nice harmonization throughout the song. The other half of Mood Lamp was an instrumental that felt like almost lava lamp. There was a subtle sleekness that comes from the background that makes the track flowy and floaty, but in a back-and-forth motion like the décor piece that I likened the song to. It isn’t a negative comment about the song, however. More of an interesting observation on my part. (7.5/10)

8. Summer Night (완벽한 장면) – Again, another typical pop/R&B release for the album. Honestly, Summer Night doesn’t really invoke any response from me, but it was still a nice listen if you are up to it. For me, though, I would say this is the most skippable track on the album. (7/10)

9. Freedom – I was almost going to say the exact same thing as the preceding track for Freedom. But after listening to the song a few times, I quite enjoyed the funkiness of the instrumental. This, along with some of the interesting details within the instrumental of the song, helped give it more colour and life. The vocals were quite dreamy, helping boost up the song. (8/10)

10. Paper Plane (종이비행기) – Final track on the mini-album is Paper Plane, and I quite enjoyed this song. It might be a while until we see another SNSD album or release. And so to get these hopeful sounding tracks is definitely a nice way to end the album, as it finishes on much more positive note and atmosphere. I quite enjoyed the pulsing instrumental of the track, which made it appealing. Solid and delicate vocals and rapping are also present in Paper Plane, helping creating a wholesome vibe to end of the album. (9/10)

Overall Album Review – 8.3/10

FOREVER 1 Teaser Image

[Review] FOREVER 1 – Girls’ Generation

Please excuse my absence over last Friday and the weekend (the album reviews that did get posted were actually scheduled whilst I was away). As a result of my absence over Friday and the weekend, I have been unable to review one major release from last week in a timely manner. I am talking none other than the legendary Girls’ Generation (or SNSD). After a five year hiatus, Girls’ Generation has returned to celebrate their 15th anniversary as a group with the release of FOREVER 1, the title of both their lead track and 7th studio length album. Their last comeback was back in 2017 with the duo All Night and Holiday.

For me, FOREVER 1 is another track that I would describe as extremely pleasant. It hits all the right nostalgic points for me, especially when I hear the individual members in the same song. Needless to say, I was smiling my way through FOREVER 1 from the first listen and throughout the weekend. The melodies and lyrics all had a heart warming and comforting tinge that made me fall for the song, which I am sure was the intention of the producers behind FOREVER 1. It also makes sense to have these feelings and emotions come about, given that FOREVER 1 appears to be a song that thanks their fans. The pop instrumental is very euphoric, which helps heighten those emotions I had already mentioned and gives off a modern/trendy background to the group’s return. This just means that Girls’ Generation is quite adaptable to the changing landscape of KPOP, as five years has a very big difference. My only critic about FOREVER 1 are the hooks. What we got in terms of a chorus was quite smooth and enjoyable already, with that heart warming tinge I mentioned before being the most prevalent during the chorus and was enough to win me over. And I know the direction in which FOREVER 1 heads in doesn’t call for super catchy hooks that become the focal and trendy part of the song. But compared with Girls’ Generation’s past releases (even their last release before this one), FOREVER 1 lacks in the memorability department. That being said, I can overlook that small lacking aspect and still enjoy the likes of FOREVER 1 and Girls’ Generation’s return.

I kind of wished the music video was a bit more than just what we got. After all, it is Girls’ Generation we are talking about! But given the limitations of the song (i.e. pleasantries doesn’t really allow for a wow factor or something dramatic), I understand why the video had a straight forward standard/plain approach. Aside from that, it was still a bright and colourful video, something that I would expect from Girls’ Generation in some shape or form. And the members look stunning throughout. I liked how the video shows each individual member going on their separate journeys – from acting to modelling to singing careers. There were also some shots of Tiffany on the plane, representing that some members went global! During their solo scenes, the members looks glamourous and refined. But in the end, they all come together to be part of Girls’ Generation. And the outfits during the choreography shots reminded me of their past outfits they have worn on stage (particularly, the sailor coloured/patterns ones), invoking a tidal wave of nostalgia, once again, on me.

The choreography looks great from what I could see from the music video. There really isn’t much to say unfortunately in this department, other than the performance looks like it fits the pleasant nature of the song really well. I am excited to see the group perform on stage later this week nonetheless.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10

[Album Review] INVU (3rd Studio Album) – Taeyeon (SNSD)

The album review for this weekend fits in with my focus on solo artists. Taeyeon (from SNSD) needs no introduction, as she is currently one of the most famous solo artists in KPOP at this moment. Since her solo debut back in 2015, Taeyeon has been delivering hit after hit, proving herself to be a momentous artists in the KPOP landscape. In February of this year, she returned with her third studio album, INVU, which features the title track of the same name, two pre-release tracks (Can’t Control Myself and Weekend) and ten other singles on the album.

INVU (the album) is another great release for Taeyeon. And this comes as no surprise to me, as I have already mentioned that she has many hits under her belt. A lot of the songs on INVU steals my attention, and Taeyeon’s vocals are shone in its best light yet. If I had to choose one word to describe the release, it would have to be ‘captivating’. Sure, the album has its strong and weak songs (find out which songs fit in which category below). But as a big picture, INVU does not disappoint.

INVU Album Cover

1. INVU (Title Track)Click here for the full review for INVU. (7.5/10)

2. Some Nights (그럼 밤) – If you are after a stunning pop ballad, then Some Nights is the song for you. It is hard for me to even write just a few comments about this song whilst listening to it, as I have to drop whatever I am doing to take it all in properly. Taeyeon’s vocals captivates and leaves me in awe, especially when she soars. The instrumental, which takes on a bit of a R&B profile, was heavenly and soothing. And together, they create an emotionally loaded atmosphere that is hard to ignore. (10/10)

3. Can’t Control MyselfClick here to read the full review for Can’t Control Myself. (9/10)

4. Set Myself On FireSet Myself On Fire is another song in which Taeyeon’s vocals just steals the show. The balladry instrumental we get acts as a blank canvas, whereas her vocals act like the paint strokes that paint an intense image. The harmonies, ad-libs and high notes she brings to the Set Myself On Fire act as noticeable details in image that adds depth and so much meaning to the song. Another 10/10 song in my opinion. (10/10)

5. Toddler (어른아이) – We enter more upbeat territory after a string of ballads with Toddler. But we aren’t talking anything overly upbeat. I actually find Toddler to be in the middle ground between what I would consider fully ‘upbeat territory’ and the songs that came before it. The funky instrumental does add colour and a much-needed kick to the album, while her vocals and melodies added an aesthetic touch that also makes Toddler a great piece. (8.5/10)

6. Siren – Like many of the other songs on the album, Siren is quite captivating and consistent. What impresses me about Siren is the chorus. It is impactful without being explosive or doing much. The synth backing differentiates it from the rest, and the presence of the barely audible sirens in the background was a nice addition. Taeyeon’s vocals are riveting (as always), and I quite enjoyed the spoken rap-like delivery that subtly changes things up in the second verse. (9/10)

7. Cold as HellCold as Hell is probably the most relatable song on this album at this moment in my life. Winter has started (not formally, but it definitely feels like it), and it is Cold as Hell. Anyhow, back to the song. I like how the instrumental embodies strength and power, opting for an instrumental that features splashes of trap, haunted house music and rock. It was sinister and creepy, but also has that empowerment tone to it. And the EDM drops give it a cool effect. I liked how Taeyeon’s vocals build in this, though I think her vocal delivery could have been more memorable in this song. (8/10)

8. Timeless – I like the upbeat pop energy that Timeless has. It is vibrant and colourful, which is much appreciated following two songs that were on the serious side of the spectrum. The instrumental was more on the ordinary side, however. I liked how Taeyeon’s vocals soared in Timeless, and how simple the melody was. But unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to make Timeless the most memorable or strongest song on this album, but it has its merits. (7/10)

9. Heart (품) – Another track that undoubtedly highlights Taeyeon’s vocals. I just like how her vocals inclines in the chorus, making it a memorable aspect/sequence of the song. This is different to her vocals in the verses which were a lot quieter and more grounded, and so I didn’t get much out of those verses. The instrumental takes on a pop ballad profile, driven by guitar riffs in the verses and constant piano tapping in the chorus. Again, a bit ordinary. But there were some good elements in Heart. (8/10)

10. No Love Again – The beat to No Love Again is quite addictive and definitely foot-tapping worthy. In addition to the beat, the guitar work and Taeyeon’s vocals come off as quite striking. While these elements should have been enough to make No Love Again stick for me, it interestingly did not. I guess it is a matter that the album had better songs, that ended up shoving No Love Again out of the spotlight. (7.5/10)

11. You Better Not You Better Not is my absolute favourite from this album. The song doesn’t shy from its rock roots, with the constant strumming guitar strongly indicating the direction in which You Better Not goes in. But the chorus still manages to surprise with its textured approach. It adds that head banging potential that I mentioned in my last song review. Also, the way Taeyeon’s deliver the pre-chorus was also a positive sign that I was going to enjoy the song. Taeyeon’s vocals were soft in that part (and for the rest of the song, as well), but was jammed packed into a tight timeframe to appear fast tempo. The falsetto at the end of each line at the start of the chorus was also a really nice touch. (10/10)

12. WeekendClick here for the full review of Weekend. (7/10)

13. Ending Credits – Taeyeon wraps up the album with a song appropriately titled as Ending Credits. Taeyeon’s tone and the music did a great job with closing out the album, conveying the right level of each to signal the end of the album. The synths brought an ethereal-like atmosphere to the song (though I might argue that they are slightly overpowering), and the actual ending of the song faded out so satisfyingly. It is lovely, overall. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

INVU Teaser Image

[Review] INVU – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Also making her grand comeback is Taeyeon, who returns to the spotlight today via her 3rd studio length album and latest title track, all sharing the name INVU. This comes after she released Can’t Control Myself as a pre-release single ahead of this album release. It is also her first major release since Weekend, which she dropped last year as a digital single and is featured on this latest album, as well, as a side track.

INVU is a pop dance track, with a house based instrumental. While it ultimately is what I would consider to be an atmospheric piece, INVU feels mostly bare and typical on the instrumental front, as well. I was waiting for something to happen in the instrumental, but it never came to. We do get some flute work in the chorus and a funky vibe, but both were subtle or brief and didn’t really add a huge deal to INVU. The benefit of being a fairly empty track is that the focus can be placed elsewhere. And well, the only other thing you could really focus on was Taeyeon’s vocals. And boy, did she come through! INVU definitely showcases Taeyeon in a more mature limelight, and I thought her vocals were quite captivating for the most part. The English in the song really popped out at me, and I thought the INVU title was quite clever (‘I Envy You’). However, I still think INVU could have benefited had something been worked into the background, so that Taeyeon could have reacted alongside it to make INVU more gripping. I guess my takeaway from INVU is that I wanted more in this already decent song.

I think we might already have a contender for the Best Music Video award for the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. The entire set and post-production of the music video was simply stunning. There is no other word that could describe it. The marble set looked impeccable and flawless, and the cloudy background was so fitting. It has to be one of the best high-budget music video productions I have seen in a long time. Taeyeon herself is also stunningly beautiful throughout the video. I am not entirely sure, but I think Taeyeon plays some sort of goddess (my guess is Artemis, based on her bow/arrow and the moon).

Performance-wise, it was good. I think because the song was literally bare for the most part, there wasn’t much to work with on the choreography front. But from what we did get, I really like the INVU move. The poses that Taeyeon were in felt striking. And if they replicate the same aesthetic on stage in the video, the performance would be fine to watch and not as boring.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.4/10

[Review] Can’t Control Myself – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Next up is Taeyeon’s Can’t Control Myself, which is the pre-release single for her upcoming third studio album. Her last release was Weekend, back in July of last year. Now regarding this soon-to-be-released album, all we know at this current stage is that it will be dropping some time in February and will feature Can’t Control Myself. Other than that, we are still awaiting further teasers, hints and other tidbits from Taeyeon or SM Entertainment. Until then, here is my review for Can’t Control Myself.

Can’t Control Myself is a ballad that showcases Taeyeon’s vocals, as most ballads do for the singer that is performing them. And like usual, Taeyeon sounds really great in the song. The melodies are also quite gripping to listen to. But what make Can’t Control Myself different to other ballads is the presence of the punk that we get in the chorus, which amps up the song to a whole new level and makes it relatively more powerful. It is also brings a different sound and dynamic to the genre than acoustic, rock or classical ballads that are in abundance in the KPOP industry. Other parts of the song that were quite impressive as well was that guitar work we get in the first pre-chorus (it felt like it was an acoustic guitar, and if so, then the transition between it and the electric guitar in the chorus was quite powerful) and the pairing of the piano melody and the English lines in the bridge (i.e. ‘Feels like heaven, feels like hell‘, the sarcastic laughs and ‘… I don’t care‘). The emptiness behind this sequence alone and the memorable nature of the melody around these lines in the bridge is another reason (on top of the punk ballad sound) to why I have revisited Can’t Control Myself so many times tonight already.

The song is all about how longing for love from someone who would cause them pain in the end (taken from SOOMPI). In this music video, we see the aftermath of a breakdown of Taeyeon’s relationship. This breakup, despite she knowing what it would do to her, literally destroys Taeyeon, who subsequently kills him at some point. Note that she is washing her hands of blood at the start of the video whilst still wearing a ring. That start has to be in the video for a reason. I am guessing she couldn’t accept reality and kills him. What we see on stage (the performance of how they meet and reunite) were all fragments of her imagination and not a retelling of their relationship (i.e. how they met etc.). Instead, I think he is literally attached to this ‘perfect’ world that she had created for herself on stage, where they are preforming the perfect love story. But when we see him backstage and behind the crowd of reporters, Taeyeon is just broken. The way he also carries on as if nothing is happening (i.e. no awkwardness, no anger, no happiness) seems to back up the theory that he is dead, is quite haunting and is a ghost that only Taeyeon can see and hence is constantly being reminded of. This theory also explains why he continued acting as a stage actor at the end of the video, and why no one noticed Taeyeon’s massive breakdown on stage (which I think the constant reminder was a breaking point for her). I hope this theory makes sense, as I think it explains a lot and is quite a different story to have.

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

[Album Review] Mr.Mr (4th Mini Album) – SNSD

A few weeks or months ago, I flagged I would restart the ‘Past Album Review’ segment, which focuses on albums released in the years prior to the current year, come July. Unfortunately, some things have held me up from starting it at the very start of July (and just writing Past Album Reviews, in general). But now, I am finally getting around to it. First up is SNSD’s fourth and final (to date) mini-album, Mr.Mr. This and the title track of the same name was released way back in 2014, and was the final release to feature Jessica and a OT9 lineup. Since then, the group have largely focused on studio albums. Since 2017, the group has been on hiatus after some of the members parted ways with SM Entertainment, however that might change later in the year with rumours of a SNSD comeback. But until a confirmed release, here is a throwback to 2014 and the album Mr.Mr.

Mr.Mr Album Cover

1. Mr.Mr (Title Track) – Excuse the cringiness in this review. I wrote this in my fetus years. Click here to read the full review for Mr.Mr. (9/10)

2. GoodbyeGoodbye is one pleasant track. But I say that in a really positive manner. Goodbye was a great showcase of simplicity, with every element feeling quite simple. The entire song has a feel-good vibe to it, with the rock-pop instrumentation taking on a bright profile. This is in direct contrast to the lyrics, which are all about leaving a relationship you know that just won’t work out no matter what you try. The vocals are straightforward and have a sweetness to them, which tells me that they have come to terms about the relationship I mentioned above. The melodies within Goodbye were also simple and easy on the ears. Overall, a really satisfying song. (9/10)

3. Europa (유로파) – I really like the disco profile of the instrumentation in Europa, which feels perfect fit for the influx of cutesy songs back in the day and gives off a sense of nostalgia. Unfortunately, I feel the rest of the song is rather jarring. Europa isn’t a cohesive track, but the standalone elements were good. The vocals just doesn’t piece together as nicely (though these do also give off a sense of nostalgia, reminding me of SNSD’s earlier works when they sang together), and the additional detailing in the instrumentation felt like they don’t compliment the rest of the instrumental. (6/10)

4. Wait A Minute – I would never have thought that Wait A Minute and Mr.Mr would be on the same album. Wait A Minute has this heavy sweetness within it that just directly contrasts with Mr.Mr. It is still a decent song, however. It is upbeat and has a nice energy to it. The vocals were also nice and appreciable. I think Wait A Minute’s main issue was its instrumental. It is decent, but I don’t think the electronic nature of the instrumentation was right. I think I would have enjoyed the song more if it had a more ‘traditional’ jazz profile to it. (8/10)

5. Back Hug (백허그)Back Hug is the album’s sole ballad. The ballad doesn’t opt for the traditional ballad style of classical instrumental. Instead, Back Hug opts for mainly acoustic guitars (with the appearance of classical strings). It is a nice change of style and keeps the album light (which I think is a theme with all these side tracks so far). The members sound really nice and heavenly throughout Back Hug. (8/10)

6. Soul – Based on what I understand, Soul is the Korean version of the group’s first Chinese single, Find Your Soul. While that is the case, I am here to review the version on this album. The instrumental has this pop edge to it, which has potential. The start in particular was quite interesting and I would have liked the song to build upon that more. The issue with Soul is that I feel the vocals could have been punchier to really give the song more effect and drive. (7/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

Mr.Mr Teaser Image

[Review] Weekend – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Taeyeon is officially back with a new single! Earlier this week, Taeyeon made her solo comeback with Weekend. This is her first release since What Do I Call You?, the lead single from her December comeback and fourth mini-album (of the same name). It has been relative quiet for Taeyeon since then. However, this quietness from the soloist may be a good thing, with rumours of a SNSD comeback happening later this year. It was rumoured earlier in the year that the eight members of SNSD were lining up their schedules for a mid-year comeback. Well, we just passed the mid-year point of 2021 but no confirmation yet. But no confirmation doesn’t mean anything, particularly since none of the members are actively promoting (aside from Taeyeon for this comeback) and could pretty much well be preparing for an under-wraps comeback. Fingers-crossed!

But first, a closer listen to Taeyeon’s Weekend. For me, Weekend is one of those ‘pleasant but nothing more’ types of song. It is enjoyable and has a nice polished energy to it. I wouldn’t mind listening to it when it is on my playlist. But it isn’t a song that I would really go out of my way to listen to. Weekend taps into the current growing retro trend, combining the likes of city pop and disco elements together to create a song that appeals to the listeners and fans of both trends in KPOP. While the music is upbeat and chilled in a way, it isn’t as memorable as per some of previous works. And that is also compared to other works from other artists who have dabbled in similar sounds and music. What I did like was the lightness of the instrumentation, which in turns compliments the soloist’s vocals. Taeyeon sings Weekend with at a higher note than what she usually does and with falsetto. And this in combination with the retro instrumentation gives off the lightness illusion, which helps create an appealing pleasant tone for the song. I also enjoyed the ascending melody we get in the pre-chorus (and lesser so in the bridge of the song). The most interesting part of Weekend has to be the rapping in the second verse. I personally liked it and the way it was handed to us felt like it was a no-commitment style to something that could have disrupted the light tone. It also helped keep the song falling into that consistent trance that would have otherwise neutralised any appeal of the song. Overall, Weekend is enjoyable and pleasant. I felt more can be done to make the song more appealing, but it is still a nice listen to chill to.

And chill is part of the message of Weekend‘s lyrics. To be more exact, Taeyeon tells us to enjoy our weekends with no hesitations to do what we like. And the music video appropriately shows Taeyeon relaxing in the clouds, after a lot of work. For the music video, it conveniently features a time-stop concept, allowing Taeyeon’s relaxation to be extended indefinitely. We unfortunately do not have that luxury, though we should always try to do something we enjoy other than work (whatever that may be). I like the pastel colours of the music video, which compliment the light tone of the song. Nothing is harsh and the music video has a feel-good type of feel to it, which is appropriate for the message. A decent music video, overall.

A strong centre of balance is required for the chorus for the music video. It might not look too difficult, but combined with everything else you need to do on stage (remembering choreography, lines, live singing etc.), I am sure it is remarkably difficult. Altogether, the performance is equally as pleasant as the song was.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

[Review] What Do I Call You – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Taeyeon is nominated for Best Vocals and Best Female Soloist in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support Taeyeon and your other favourite artists by clicking here to vote for them. Remember, voting closes on the 31st of December!

Taeyeon joined the December comeback lineup on Tuesday with her solo release on Tuesday, What Do I Call You. This, and her fourth mini-album, follows her previous 2020 releases which includes Dear Me (the lead single from her repackaged Purpose album), her Happy single and her #GirlsSpkOut Japanese comeback. So Taeyeon has been quite busy during 2020, which has lead to her nominations for Best Female Soloist and Best Vocals in this year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards (link above – and apologies for this shameless plug here). On with the review.

What Do I Call You moves away from Taeyeon’s pop ballad or straight ballad sound and opts for a more indie sound, which I thought was slightly different (though definitely something in her willhouse, given that she has released songs of this style before. The song is primarily driven by acoustics and then some mid-tempo beat that is brought into the song via percussion. It is a simple combination, but one that I thought was actually quite nice and pleasant. The only downside is that it doesn’t really give the song an opportunity to peak, with the song’s momentum plateauing once the percussion comes into play. Aside from that, the only element to really left discuss is Taeyeon’s vocals, which is superb. As mentioned above, she is nominated for Best Vocals in the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards and What Do I Call You definitely consolidates all the reasons to why she deserves the nomination (and possibly the category overall – but that is up to you). Her vocals really bring the song’s melodies and add to that pleasantry note of the song. Another splendid song that adds to Taeyeon’s repertoire.

The music video shows us the story of Taeyeon in a post-break up limbo, unsure what to call her ex whom she still has lingering feelings for. In response to this feelings, Taeyeon signs up for this service that erase her memories of this ex (which is the panda wearing mask person). Interestingly after getting her memories wiped, she enters a hallway that brings her back to the first time she interacted with him at a party, where I assume they begin another relationship. To further back this ending up, she plays a toy crane machine and regains the same orange diary that she gave up in the memory wiping service. Likewise the polaroid of her and her ex that was hanging on her wall at the start as found still hanging on the wall at the end of the video after the memory wiping process. It is interesting video and I thought it was a clever twist at the end.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.4/10

[Review] Happy – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Today, Taeyeon makes her grand return with her single, Happy. This comeback was meant to happen 2 months ago on March 9th, which is also her birthday. But due to her father’s death on the same day, the decision was made to delay the comeback up until a week ago when the new single confirmed its new release date. Before I begin the review or go any further, I would like to express my condolences to Taeyeon and her family for their loss. On a happier note, this is Taeyeon’s first comeback since the release of her second repackaged studio album and the title track, Dear Me.

Happy is the first release of May that will be a tough digital contender throughout the month, as is the case for most of Taeyeon’s releases. And listening to Happy, you can tell there is a certain level of boldness in this song that is needed to achieve high rank on the charts. For Happy, this boldness comes in the form of a deep and loud thumping drum, which not only gives the song boldness but it also adds a little cute flair to the song which makes it extremely appealing. The song is said to combine old school doo-wop and R&B to create such a heartwarming and wholesome song. And it is because of these feelings that just make you want to smile. Adding to the really positive atmosphere that comes from the song are Taeyeon’s vocals. They just feel down to earth and really captivating without the singer pulling out crazy vocal chops. In a way, she keeps to a simple presentation and I quite like this. The melodies were just so flowy and this too adds to the appeal. Altogether, the song manages to bundle happiness in a 3:46 minute track.

I am not too sure if this is the original music video that was meant to be released. But I find the video to be extremely relatable (not including the fridge positioned in the middle of the living room) to the current circumstances that we find much of the world in at this moment. I wonder if this was the intention of the music video, if it was not re-filmed to be applicable to current times. Essentially, we see Taeyeon enjoy her time alone, with what I assume is memories with her love one. We also see Taeyeon in a fake field, surrounded with flowers. This may be an artistic choice, or it could be due to the restrictions in place around the world. I thought this was a great video. The lighting was extremely bright and complimented the happy tone of the song. I would say the music video was simple to a degree, as there wasn’t much going on. But it managed to work with the song.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.6/10

[Review] Dear Me – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Despite not promoting her solo work in 2019, Taeyeon has managed to prove herself and her status in the industry by sweeping awards for her Four Seasons single earlier in the year. In addition to that, Taeyeon returned with Spark and her second full length album, Purpose, in November 2019. Both Spark and her album were very good and you should give them a try if you have missed out on them. But the focus should be on what happened yesterday, as the soloist returned with a repackaged version of Purpose and the new title track, Dear Me.

Dear Me is a pop ballad all about self-confidence and self-love. In this era, a song like this speaks volumes to everyone and will truly makes them feel better. You could also describe the song was warming, which would be a fitting way to see the song given its message. Apart from the message, the song features Taeyeon’s usually soothing vocals over a band and orchestral instrumentation, which I thought was quite nice. The verses seem to be quite lower register, allowing the chorus to explode in a fashionable manner that makes it seem slightly epic. I wish there was a little more to the verses, as they were the weakest moments of the song. The melody for the English lyrics during the chorus was quite cool, being one of the highlights of the song. I think the best highlight has to be the buildup during the bridge, leading to the final chorus. The song coincidentally needed a ‘spark’ and it got one in that moment. I don’t think Dear Me will be described as Taeyeon’s best song ever. But it is a really good one, if you were to ask me.

The music video is rather simple, made up of shots of Taeyeon walking around and sitting in a built set. I think the simplicity works well with the song. The song isn’t complicated and wouldn’t call for a video chock full of symbolism, a crazy colour palette or flashy lights. It is another video that highlights her beauty in a more natural sense, which also would make sense with a song about self love. I just feel that watching the video too many times would make it come off as dull, which is always a problem with these types of music videos.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 8.2/10

[Album Review] Purpose (2nd Studio Album) – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Approximately one month ago, Taeyeon made her solo comeback with Spark and her second studio album, Purpose. And as part of my album review blitz, I will be recovering her album today. Known for her chart-topping hits, Spark joins the growing list of songs that she has released to do exactly that. Unfortunately, she didn’t promote the album as fans had hoped. And due to this, I feel like some listeners have missed out on some really good songs on this album. So let’s change that and revisit this album.

Purpose Album Cover

1. Here I Am – The second album opens with a ballad that features Taeyeon’s powerful vocals. Overall, it is a powerful and bold start to the album. From the very first second, you get an epic and grand vibe from the song, which provides a small insight into what the song would become. But that epic and grand vibe end up being one-up by the chorus, which blasts us with deep percussion and her vocals (which were superb). I found it interesting that the song ended in a soft nature, bringing us down from the high she put us through during the choruses. It worked really well and the piano was very haunting, in a way. (10/10)

2. Spark (불티) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Spark. (8/10)

3. Find MeFind Me started with a very promising verse. But when it came to the chorus, I was left underwhelmed. And this feeling stuck with me throughout the song. I just found that the song didn’t space out the sections and the ‘should have been’ separated verses and chorus felt more like a long string together. Minus that flaw, Find Me was still a decent track. I thought the instrumental was good. It didn’t have that boldness like in Here I Am. But it was catchy and was a pleasant tune. Her vocals were also quite good, showcasing a well-balanced sound that didn’t overwhelm the rest of the song. (7/10)

4. Love You Like CrazyLove You Like Crazy is a levelled-up counterpart of Find Me. It has a pounding beat and incorporates of the guitars that we heard in the title track. I really liked her vocals in this track. She adds interesting textures and presents that bold feeling we have gotten in some of the previous tracks during its chorus. I would have liked it if it somehow went further as I did get the impression that there was some holding back, which doesn’t match with the ‘Crazy’ part in her title. (8/10)

5. LOL (하하하)LOL takes my breath away every time I listen to it. I liked the R&B roots of the song, which oozes such a smooth and sensual vibe. I really like how this style sets up for the sarcastic and sleek laughter she provides in the form of a spaced-out ‘Ha Ha Ha’. The acapella that opens up the first chorus was extremely memorable. So are those horns that feature during the chorus. Her English hooks are also quite addictive. Everything that Taeyeon did manages to hit the bullseyes perfectly with this track. (10/10)

6. Better Babe – We still remain with the R&B genre with this song. This was heard during the verses, which I think were solid parts of the song. The chorus takes a turn by blasting us with Taeyeon’s vocals. While I am okay with Taeyeon pulling out her vocals, the way she did it in this song could have quickly felt repetitive and I am not okay with that aspect. However, thanks to the bridge and the opening part to the final chorus, I think she did enough to prevent that scenario from becoming a reality. (8/10)

7. WineWine felt like it could easily have been the OST to a drama. It evokes the right feelings that make it well suited to help captivate the audience. I thought the melodies in this track were beautiful, making the song stand out for me. I also like how she doesn’t pull out her powerful vocals for this track (with the exception for the few high notes we get at the end), which works well with the sentimental side of the song and its potential lightness. The piano touch also helped make it pleasant. (9/10)

8. Do You Love Me?Do You Love Me? has this warm feeling to it, which makes it highly appropriate for the upcoming Winter season in which Korea and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere will be entering in a few days. Her raspy and whisper-like vocals are really nice in this song and I found the jazzy instrumental to be very pleasant. The two coming together is a good match that I think makes this song shine. (8/10)

9. City LoveCity Love is an urban track, which feels very flowy and breezy. I liked the casual vibes to this song, along with her light and sweet-sounding vocals. It showcases a side we know of Taeyeon, just we haven’t seen much in this album yet. The piano is particularly nice and managing to infuse a delicate sound in this already light track. Personally, it isn’t my style. But it is still decent. (8/10)

10. Gravity – Another standout track on the album. Her vocals are the main element that is attributed to that label. I thought they were exceptional, especially when she pulls the powerfulness out during the chorus. It also works well with the instrumental, as this element acted more-so like a blank canvas. There was a lot of room to move about and her vocals worked the space extremely well. I also like the spaced-out pulsing beat in the background, which helped provide the song with additional foundation. (10/10)

11. BlueBlue and Four Seasons were previously released earlier this year. I have already reviewed the latter song, as seen below. I remember listening to it a few times when it was first released. But I have honestly forgotten about its existence since then. It is a nice revisit, as I am still impressed with this track. The vocals remain delicate throughout the entire track. The pop side of the song really makes you anticipate that the song will build up and she would pull out her power vocals to end the song. But we never get there, which I think makes this track very interesting. I also find the echoes in the chorus to be a nice touch, helping extend the song an extra mile. (9/10)

12. Four Seasons (사계)Click here to read the full review for Four Seasons. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.6/10

Purpose Teaser Image

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp



[Review] Spark – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Alongside the two returning groups that I reviewed yesterday, we have a soloist joining the party in what already is shaping to be an interesting week. Taeyeon has been known for chart-topping hits and it seems like Spark will be no different. Alongside Spark, Taeyeon returns with her second studio album, Purpose, which also features the track Fours Seasons which was a single from her earlier in the year.

We have heard do a range of genres, such as the cliche ballad route that most vocalists do (Rain, I, Four Seasons etc.) and EDM (Why) from Taeyeon. Spark is a little different, opting for a pop sound that resembles the mega western hit, Rolling In The Deep by Adele. The instrumental was very compelling and actually works well as both a vocally centred and a dance track. There is some subtle attitude through the instrumentation. Adding to the intensity, the limelight is placed squarely on her vocals throughout the entire song. And that is one aspect that I really enjoyed regarding the song. I thought the chorus was very smooth and it works perfectly well as a whole. However, the entire time I was listening to the song, I was expecting it to build-up to something a little more climatic and shock us. What we ended up getting was fine but I felt like more could have done to really appeal to my personal taste.

As the song is titled Spark, the music video features a lot of red and orange colours, which makes it appropriate. Oh, and there are a few sparks here and there in the video as well. The video was shot with a green screen, as I am quite sure it would be rather dangerous to be performing on top of an actual crane. It isn’t as bad as other green screen applications in some other videos. At the same time, however, it does look rather cheap in comparison to past SM music videos. I did like how sleek she looked in black, which really went well with the red and orange colour palette they infused into the background.

The choreography looks good. It isn’t the most dynamic routine but I assume that was meant to help Taeyeon focus on the vocal aspect of the performance. I did find that it looked elegant (from what I saw in the music video), which was fitting to both Taeyeon’s style and the song.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10 

[Album Review] Lion Heart (5th Studio Album) – SNSD

SNSD is one of the groups that have members under different companies. Based on history, groups like these don’t come back at all as schedules just do not align. However, it seems like SNSD could potentially be one of the first to return. There are ongoing rumours of a 2019 comeback and it seems like the 8 members are actively speaking to one another despite their different schedules. Fingers Crossed!!! Let’s hope for a comeback from this legendary group! In the meantime, I decided to review their Lion Heart album, which was released in 2015. This was also the first album after Jessica departed from the group.

Lion Heart Album Cover

1..Lion Heart (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Lion Heart. (6.5/10)

2. You Think (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for You Think. (8/10)

3. Party (Pre-Release Single) – The track ended up being one of my most favourite tracks of the album. To the point where it surpassed their other title tracks. Whenever it is Summer where I am, I end up playing this track because it puts you into a good mood. So I decided to bump up my rating from a 4/10 (shocking much) to a 9/10. (And yes, I identified the wrong title track for the album in the Party review). Click here to read the original review for Party. (9/10)

4. One Afternoon (어떤 오후) – There is a sense of elegance to One Afternoon, which is different from the three preceding tracks before it. The track features soft jazz instrumental that I find to be quite likeable. Usually, I am not a fan of a song like this. But this one surprised me as being quite pleasant and enjoyable. The vocal work was also quite pleasant, with the member using a lighter tone to compliment the soft nature of the track. Visually, I think the song would pair well with the 1920s style outfit they wore for Lion Heart. (8/10)

5. Show GirlsShow Girls was previously released as a Japanese song. But since the album goes for an old fashion retro theme, the track is very suitable for the album. The verses take a sensual 1920s approach, which I think was very interesting. But what I love the best is the blast of energy we get from the catchy and energetic chorus. The contrast ended up being bold and I think that is a defining characteristic of the track. So bold that when you think about it, the two shouldn’t really go together. But somehow SNSD managed to pull it off well. (9/10)

6. Fire Alarm – We now get something a little more modern, joining the ranks of You Think and Party. Fire Alarm is a pop dance track that brings out the vocal dynamics of the group. The vocals during the chorus were loud to avoid being covered up by the instrumental. The vocals on the album thus far have been on the softer side, so it is nice to hear something a little more hard-hitting. And in combination with the instrumental, Fire Alarm becomes punchy, making this a standout for me. (8/10)

7. Talk TalkTalk Talk is a standard pop track. There isn’t anything that great about the song that blew me away or got me interested in the track. There were a few minor things but they don’t really change my initial feelings regarding the song. There are some Western pop vibes in the track which I managed to catch. It does give a tinge of nostalgia, which was nice. The vocals were also pretty good, especially with the ad-libs at the end. But as I said, these weren’t enough to keep me from skipping to the next track. (7/10)

8. Green LightGreen Light, at first sounded like another pop track. But I found the melody of the chorus to be very appealing. It is a very fluffy type of song, which isn’t my style at all. But I guess we all have our guilty pleasures occasionally. I also liked the epic style of the countdown that launched us into the chorus. It is a different pairing than usual but it sounded good. I also enjoyed the rapping, giving the song some texture and preventing it from becoming too repetitive as a result. (8/10)

9. ParadiseParadise is actually an impressive track. I did not expect something to be so catchy out of this one, given how it started with the ‘P P P Paradise’. I thought it was childish and potentially annoying. But rather, it grew on me and I quite enjoy it (to the point where I sing along). It is another pop track, so the instrumental doesn’t really make it memorable. But the vocals were fantastic in the track. The melody was very pretty and allowed for the vocals to shine in this bright song. (9/10)

10. Check – If you read through my Party review (link above), I mistakenly identified that this was the title track for the album at the time of writing the Party review. I think I got some information from a forum. Based on this, I don’t think I will ever use a forum as a ‘source of information’ for several reasons. The first, the group and company opted for a different title track. Secondly, Check is a very sluggish song that would not have gotten much fanfare if it was selected for continuous promotion for 3 or 4 weeks. The vocals weren’t great, and I pretty much remember skipping over the track when I saw the side promotion of it during the first week of the comeback. (4/10)

11. Sign – Positioned after the disappointing Check, Sign comes off as cool and dynamic. There is an edgy sound to the track thanks to the electric and synth-based instrumental and I think this track directly compliments the likes of You Think. I particularly liked the vocals in the song. While the instrumental seemed to go for a mid-tempo speed, the vocals were dragged out. I liked the contrast and thought it created a very alluring atmosphere. The song doesn’t have a catchy element too, but I think the vocal and instrumental combination makes it memorable. (9/10)

12. Bump ItBump It starts off as a ballad. And then it takes a 180° turn to become a hip-hop/R&B dance track. Come to the think of it, Bump It doesn’t sound like a ballad whatsoever, so I guess the change is definitely a step in the right direction. And reading the lyrics, I feel like that ballad extension at the start could have been left out entirely as it didn’t contribute much to the track (both musically and lyrically). For the upbeat parts, I thought there was nice edgy energy running through it and I felt this was very memorable. I like the rap-like pre-chorus launch and the melody was quite catchy. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

Lion Heart Individual Teaser Images

[Review] Four Seasons – Taeyeon (SNSD)

Taeyeon has returned with a brand new single, Four Seasons. Actually, let me fix that. The music video for Four Seasons was released yesterday, while the actual song won’t officially be released until tomorrow night. But that won’t stop us from having a review written up as both elements for the review are present. We last saw Taeyeon through SNSD’s subunit, SNSD-Oh!GG and the title track, Lil Touch.

A few releases of Taeyeon’s the past have been of an experimental nature including Something New and I Got Love. Four Seasons seems to follow this trend. While it takes the form of an upbeat ballad, there is a slight reggae influence mixed into the melody of the song. Despite that, it featured some classical instrumentation, giving that impression of a ballad. And I think this is a fairly interesting mix. Since it is something we don’t get often, it is quite refreshing and unique. Once again, you cannot write a Taeyeon centric review without discussing her vocals. Her vocals are showcased very elegantly, with some variety in her tone. I particularly like those speaking moments just before the chorus. It gives the song some texture and really made the chorus feel slightly suspenseful. I also like the ‘Ooh Ooh‘ in the background. I can’t describe how it adds to the song but it is definitely there for a reason. Without it, I think would be a tad empty for my liking. Overall, Four Seasons was served as a fresh comeback from the pop queen.

The song talks about the pros and cons of love in each of the Four Seasons. And to compliment that, we have Taeyeon in each of the Four Seasons throughout the music video. She licks an ice cube and has the fan running in on Summer. The trees are bare and snow is present, alongside a deer during Winter. Spring features falling petals, while Autumn is a golden glow. Pretty aesthetic ways of showcasing the seasons. I also like how there is also time to include a different set, which involved Taeyeon singing in a very nice dress and in front of a large mural of a couple going in for a kiss. I also like the selected English lyric subtitled throughout the song and the borders we get with them. interesting to have but very nice, overall.

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

[Review] Into You – Yuri (SNSD)

With uncertainties on when a full group comeback will take place, the members of SNSD have taken the solo route for the time being. With a number of the members well-known for their acting, others have embarked on their solo careers as singers. Yuri is the next member to join the solo music career with her debut single, Into You, which features on the mini-album, The First Scene. Yuri also recently ‘debuted’ alongside Sunny, Taeyeon, Yoona and Hyoyeon as members of Oh!GG, who recently released Lil’ Touch.

Into You is a simple sounding pop track that has notions of tropical throughout it, especially during the chorus. It is here, at the chorus, that you find the strongest section of the song. The chorus doesn’t change but there is an air of familiarity that I just cannot shake off. It is like I have heard the tune somewhere before but I just cannot identify it at all. And it is this air of familiarity that makes it appealing for me. Her vocals were quite nice and felt fitting for the song. I liked how she stayed within her boundaries for this song. The major issue with the song is its plainness. I personally like it. But I understand why some people would think it is plain. On top of that, I fear that if I listen to the song too many times, I would get tired of it quite easily. I would have liked to have heard something that gave the verses and bridge of the song some life (e.g. a rap sequence from a featuring artist). But besides that, I think it is a good song.

Like the song, the music video does have that plain feeling. I personally find Yuri one of the most beautiful people in KPOP. And the music video does a good job of showing off her beauty and figure. But other than that, there isn’t much to the video. I found the sets very bland. There were some scenes to give some mysterious vibes but they were easily forgotten. The only scene which I like was the dancing in the water but even that has been done multiple time before.

I thought the choreography was rather nice. I thought the hip-swaying was perfect for the chorus. I thought the dance breaks were rather nice as well but I preferred the ending one as Yuri was moving more. I like the aesthetics the stage brought, which went well with the song.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10