[International Song Review] SEVENTEEN, SNUPER, Taeyeon, NU’EST, Jackson

For those who may not know or remember, Saturdays used to be when I dedicated a review to a Japanese release made by a Korean artist. This year, I made the move to expand to more music releases that aren’t Japanese based and now the segment includes music releases by Korean artists in other languages such as Chinese and English. Since we find ourselves on another Saturday, and now that found enough releases to post two International Song Review posts (this one and another one next week!), it is time to revisit the segment. The releases in this post are more of the recent releases including SEVENTEEN, SNUPER, Taeyeon, NU’EST and Jackson Wang.


Two days after I published my last ISR (i.e. the 24th August 2020), SEVENTEEN dropped their latest original Japanese single, 24H. To me, 24H impresses with its refined take on their Korean releases, opting for maturity in the way they deliver 24H, without necessarily using an ‘edgy’ and dark concept to relay this maturity. The start of the song, which features S.Coups’ vocals, opens as if it was a Western pop song. I particularly like this as its allows the song to kickstart with something different than what we are used to. As the song progresses with acoustic guitars at the forefront of the background, the song gets heavier with its beat. The chorus feels rugged, with the guitar used here moving the song forward with a chugging momentum. The bridge amps up the chorus with what seems to be the song version of going ‘all out’, before returning the song to how it started before launching us into the chorus once again. Over its structure, the more vocal-centric side of the group appears, allowing that refinement to be taken to the next level. 24H‘s melodies and hooks are quite strong as well, giving myself an excuse to return to the song.

24H‘s music video continues the aesthetics from their Fallin’ Flower music video, albeit more darker. However, it doesn’t look like the members opted for a dark concept, just more serious. They do end up showing more of a masculine energy through this video, something I would love to see them show off in their Korean releases. Not exactly sure what it going on in the video plotwise, especially with S.Coups’ scene at the end with that metallic floating wire attacking him. I haven’t seen a theory for this video just yet, though I can tell it is going to be interesting. The choreography also carries some of the aesthetics, especially the sequence in which they form circle around Hoshi and The8. Overall, a strong Japanese comeback for SEVENTEEN.

Overall Rating – 8.8/10

Oxygen – SNUPER

It has been a while since we have heard from SNUPER. Domestically, the group has not released anything since 2018. On the Japanese front, the group was more active in Japan with releases in 2019 and now Oxygen in 2020. Oxygen is a song that is driven by a deep house club beat. We don’t get that deep house club beat until the chorus hit. At first glance, it was thrilling drop that felt wholesome and quite pure. But the more I listened to the song, the more I felt that the chorus could have been a little more ‘spicier’, if you understand what I mean. What we get in Oxygen leans slightly to the more generic and unimaginative side. The verses that surround Oxygen were pretty lackluster and failed to really bring anything more to the song. Even the rap sequences opts for a trap-based background, which is pretty generic move.

With the lack of promotions, it seems like SNUPER no longer has a substantial budget for their music videos. While the visuals were quite crisp and high definition, the uninspiring sets and location really dulled the music video. The dark lighting was probably done so to make the group feel more mysterious. However, it was a poor choice as we couldn’t really see the members in the poor lighting. For the moves, I thought they mismatched the upbeatness of the song, especially when it came to the chorus. The moves felt sluggish and could have been snappier.

Overall Rating – 5.7/10


Taeyeon made a surprise drop earlier this month with the release of the music video, #GirlsSpkOut, the title track from her upcoming Japanese mini-album release of the same name. It is pretty disappointing that SM Entertainment haven’t done much promotions for this MV release. It literally dropped out of nowhere. That aside, when I first heard the song, I thought it was going to be a 2.0 version of Taeyeon’s Spark due to its use of acoustic guitar. However, #GirlsSpkOut ended it being quite different. It sounds a lot funkier and it had more of a substantial pop feel to it. And as you listen to more of it, the song builds into something decent. If you were to judge the song by listening to only the first chorus, you are listening to it all wrong. It isn’t an active representation of the latter choruses, which both have more of a kick to them. Unfortunately, this extra energy never actually amounts to a peak, leaving #GirlsSpkOut as a somewhat flawed release. #GirlsSpkOut also features Japanese rapper, Chanmina, alongside Taeyeon’s nice (and well-known) vocals. This is something new, Korean artists have never really collaborated with someone from the Japanese music industry as far as I remember for a release. Chanmina’s featuring in #GirlsSpkOut was needed to give more energy to the song and help build the song. But her delivery was something I was not a fan of.

Based on the title alone, anyone can tell that the song is about female empowerment. And the music video tells you just that. Taeyeon is approached by a guy who doesn’t seem to understand the answer ‘no’. He is involved in an accident (a falling light sign – what are the chances?) just moments after Taeyeon leaves him. He is taken to the hospital in a full body cast. Taeyeon and her female friends band together to teach him a lesson. Chanmina also features in the video, which was also a nice treat. The choreography scenes were okay. They just didn’t show anything impressive or amazing-looking to make me go wow. Her visual game and outfits though looked awesome!

Overall Rating – 7/10

Drive – NU’EST

It has been a while since we last heard a Japanese release from NU’EST. Their last was 2015’s Nanananamida, the title track of their first Japanese studio album, Bridge The World. 5 years on, the group dropped Drive earlier this month, alongside their second Japanese studio album of the same name. Drive is a little different to your standard Japanese release, opting to step away from a choreography-required song. Drive focuses more on the singing and rapping, upfronting a pretty pleasant instrumentation made up of nice rhythmic guitars and an upbeat pop melody. I like this change up in style for the Japanese music industry, which separate the group’s release from the pack for uniqueness. The singing pulls you in and captivates you. It also compliments the instrumentation, adding to Drive‘s pleasantness and softness. As a result, I would gladly put this song to listen to the NU’EST vocalists. I did feel that the rapping was a little mismatched for the song. It could have potentially been more fitting if it was a tad smoother. But overall, a really good display of style and refinement from the members of NU’EST.

If I were to breakdown the music video, it is simply a music video full of a bunch of closeups. ‘There is a storyline embedded into those closeups, with JR approaching each member and pulling them to the circle of chairs we see in the video. I am not sure what this is supposed to mean and whether it represents something in the lyrics or not (I couldn’t tell). My best guess is that it something about coming together after being separated for so long. As mentioned previously, there is no choreography for this comeback. Instead, the group scenes were shots of the members singing into microphones, which was a nice touch that compliments the softness of the song. I liked the golden aura that comes from these scenes.

Overall Rating – 8/10

Pretty Please – Jackson Wang & Galantis

The final song on this list today is Jackson Wang and Galantis’ collaboration, titled Pretty Please. For those who are not familiar with Galantis, they bring the funky and groovy electronic-based instrumental that forms the backbone of Pretty Please to life. It is a really awesome backing for the song and feels super addictive. Jackson brings the vocals to the song. I really like his deep and raspy vocals in this song. He adds some unique colour to the song and the texture is super appealing over the electronic instrumentation. Music-wise, big ticks from me. My only complaint is the song goes by so quickly. Two and a half minutes is nothing. And especially with such a fun, groovy and upbeat instrumentation, it literally blurs by in a matter of seconds. I wished there was more to it, as every time I listen to Pretty Please, I am caught off guard by the unexpecting ending that comes out of nowhere.

The end of the music video gives a bit of context to the idea behind the video. Jackson has always wanted to shoot something along the lines of ’90s Hong Kong movie’ concept. And I agree with him that it is a pretty cool setting to shoot in. The video starts off with Jackson and his friends at a Chinese restaurant, watching a documentary about wolves, emphasising the idea of loyalty of friends and to partners. Enters the actress, the same one who played his love interest in 100 Ways. He notices that she left a pendant of a wolf and starts following her to get her attention down the street in a cool montage. And he doesn’t stop, presenting us with the first of the two loyalties. The second of the two loyalties is shown in the lead up to the dance choreography, where his friends (shown as wolves for a brief moment) come running from the restaurant to join him in the choreography shot at the end of the video. The video cuts to dark and it is revealed at he is still in the restaurant with his friends and he is holding the pendant. His eyes turns white, revealing him to be a wolf and is probably going to go searching for his female counterpart later on. The choreography in this video looks really cool and matches with the funky vibes of the song.

Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Review] You In My Eyes – Snuper

Snuper is back with a brand new single, a few months following their amazing Tulips comeback. It doesn’t have an official English title but everyone has been using the literal English translation, You In My Eyes, everywhere I look. The track features on a special mini-album, which shares the same name.

Following the likes of Tulips, I expected another amazing song. However, You In My Eyes seems to fall into a more traditional category and doesn’t really sound as aesthetically pleasing as their previous comeback, which is a tad disappointing. However, the song isn’t too bad. There were a few aspects which I thought were nice. The chorus was relatively catchy, though I think it could have been more dynamic rather than straight repetition. The instrumental was quite nice as well, where some of the synths that acted like transitions between different parts of the song were quite cool. The vocals were also quite loud and very expressive, particularly the very first line that grabbed your attention for the very start. I like the rappers, who deep voice added some texture to the song, which I thought made the song less repetitive and plain. The only thing that was a letdown was its plainness.

It seems like the music video was more of a fan service thing. Not the type where it features behind the scenes shots, however. There isn’t too much to the video besides a bunch of close-ups and choreography shots. So, there really isn’t too much to talk about. I liked the idea of how the group ended with what seems to be the end of their live performance.

The choreography, for some odd reason, did not look finetuned. It felt like something that was thrown together towards the end of production for their comeback. There were a few good moves, such as the move at 1:18, which I think looked cool (and offered something that I like from their previous comeback). Other stuff, such as the body roll, looked a little awkward to me.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10

[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from the First Half of 2018

With the first 6 months of 2018 officially over, it is time to look back at my personal favourite songs from the first half. Last week, I recapped the top songs from the Weekly KPOP Charts. But some songs that I personally liked didn’t really make that list. So here are 15 songs released over the last 6 months that are my personal favourites AND continually listen to (irrespective of the charts and the reviews – as opinions do change).

[Review] Tulips – Snuper

Snuper makes their comeback with Tulips and their 5th mini-album, titled appropriately as Blossom. The members were last on stage with The Stars of Stars. Some of the members did participate in the recent survival shot The Unit: Idol Rebooting Project, however (from memory), they were eliminated in the earlier episodes of the show. Despite this, I am still interested in them for many of their recent releases have been favourites of mine.

Let’s start with something that caught me off guard. I thought that they mispronounce ‘Tulips’ as ‘Your Lips‘ throughout the song. It took me a while to realize that this completely deliberate and thought it was quite smart after I realized. When I listened to the song for the first time, it felt weird. I was not sure if I liked the new hip-hop vibes that they were going for. However, with a few extra listens, the song does grow on you. It is nice to hear something completely new from the group. The verses do sound quite nice yet it still does sound foreign. Like all songs, the chorus does attract my attention. I thought it sounded classy and cool. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I will admit that. The vocals were nice and the rapping was quite good. Overall, Snuper’s new song may be different but it works perfectly.

It occurs once in a while where I don’t really enjoy the urban or industrial vibes for the music video. This is one of the times. As mentioned before, I thought the chorus was classy and cool. I just didn’t get that in the video. For me, I think the video would have been better if they were dressed up in suits and maybe presented tulips to every girl they saw. While the suits parts were covered in the music video, it was rather limited. Just listening to the song, I just don’t get casual wear vibes. It might just be me but that was what I felt. However, the video was well shot and still looked nice.

Going back to the styling, the choreography works better in suits. I really liked the flower shape that they make with their hands and the lip rubbing felt quite appropriate. Nothing much else to say.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7/10


[Review] The Stars of Stars – Snuper

Snuper is back with the repackaged album of their Back:Hug release, which was dropped in April. Their repackaged album has been retitled as The Stars of Stars, the same title as the promotional song.

The Stars of Stars is a pretty good song. It is extremely refreshing and it can be described as a smooth mix of trance elements. The more happy vibe seems to fit in nicely with the Summer theme that comebacks are aiming to achieve. Their vocals and raps were pretty good. The chorus hooks you in with its melody and catchy lyrics. However, there were disappointing aspects of the song. For example, the instrumental was very consistent. Too consistent. It let the track fall to the more boring side of the spectrum. In agreement with that, the overall instrumental mix was good but not impressive. I was waiting for some more intense or bolder sounds, but that was never seen. Here is where I contradict myself, but I would gladly replay it over and over again, for some reason. But what I said before was what I felt when listened to the song.

It is always hard to find fault in a music video where the idea behind it is to just have some fun. While there were many different scenes in the video, it was all about hanging out and have a good time. And the guys looked like they were having a fun time, while still shooting the music video. The views where they shot the choreography scenes were breathtaking. While I am sure there are people who would disagree about the aesthetics of the wind farms, I think a wide shot of them looks spectacular. The only thing that I felt that the video could have been better at was its colour. It could have been bolder and more vibrant. But that pale filter was applied, which robs the video of that boldness.

I have watched the performance a number of times since yesterday and I can say the introductory segment was amazing.  And while I thought the rest of the choreography suited the song, it just didn’t feel memorable.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] Back:Hug – Snuper

Time to add another already-debuted group to the site! Snuper is officially back with their first comeback for 2017, with the title track Back:Hug and the mini-album, I Wanna?. The six-member boy group (currently under Widmay Entertainment and debuted in 2015) landed on my radar after the release of It’s Raining. Other songs from the group’s past discography also include You=Heaven, Platonic Love and Shall We Dance.

After their groovy track, It’s Raining, I expected a track equally as groovy and catchy. Back:Hug attempts to get there, but it just doesn’t feel right. The instrumental is EDM based, more precisely the tropical house style of music. It was good, but it felt flat, with no parts attempting to flare up and stand out in the song. The same could be said with their vocals. Some parts sounded good, other parts felt very dull and disconnected to the rest of the song. Honestly, the two seemed like two separate layers coming together, with little attempts at making them match or blend with each other.  The raps were pretty good. I could tell that they tried to follow the same structure as It’s Raining though, which is pretty smart. However, all of what I have said so far could be thrown out of the window. A similar structure could simply be the selling point for me. I can see this track growing on me, mainly because it reminds me of their previous track. However, for now, the song overall falls short of reaching the goal of topping It’s Raining for me.

There isn’t much going in the video for Back:Hug. The video consists of many close up shots, which are all shot in different areas and choreography scenes, which how most videos go nowadays. There really isn’t much appeal from the video, which does disappoint me. The camera work was interesting, which the camera shots angled abstractly, which made it look trendy. There is an aspect of the video which I didn’t really understand. But some parts were slowed down for just a few seconds, which really made the video feel dragged out. All of that being said though, I don’t mind the video. I don’t find it overly boring, which is a big plus, given what the video compromises and how it doesn’t really stand out in the crowd.

Those few seconds of slowing down made the video feel dragged out, but they also slowed the choreography down. So I tried to watch a live performance of it, and I think I can say that for the majority of the choreography, the dance feels just right. However, the verses felt a tad slower than the tempo of the music, which stood out. Their dance break was quite good. Short, but cool to watch.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 5/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 6/10