[International Song Reviews] YUNHO, SORN, Red Velvet, T1419, TVXQ

As previously hinted, I am finally getting around to another post under the International Song Reviews umbrella. Apologies for taking forever since the last post (way back from April). This post was supposed to be published last week. But per usual, my time management is horrible and I ran out of time to work on it. Well fret no more, as here it is! For this post, I will be covering Japanese releases from YUNHO, Red Velvet, T1419 and TVXQ, plus an English release from SORN (former member of CLC).


Released way back in February of this year, YUNHO returned as a solo artist in Japan with KIMI WA SAKI E IKU, which translates to You Go Ahead. It is a pretty neat track, with a nice and pleasant groove within the instrumental. YUNHO’s husky vocals were smooth, and I liked how he delivered the hooks in the song in a soft manner. I felt the rapping was a bit of a mismatch. I have no doubts that KIMI WA SAKI E IKU needed some sort of rap sequence, but the short and brief stints of rapping we do get in the song were quite crass and were just thrown in there. For the music video, I felt like an aesthetic concept would be more fitting for the song. What we got was pretty standard. and confusing (couldn’t work out a plot). The shout at the start caught my attention (actually, shocked me), but everything else felt very smooth. The visual effects were cool, but the sets/location were relatively boring. As for the choreography, nothing fancy or mind-blowing. But it works well with the softer nature of the song, so that a plus. (6.7/10)


Post-CLC and Cube Entertainment (thank god for the latter), SORN has been releasing a few solo singles. She made her solo debut with RUN under Cube Entertainment last year (which I never got around to writing a review for). But I am not going to let her newer releases pass by. Her first release of this year is titled SHARP OBJECTS, from also way back in March of this year. The song delves into synthwave side of EDM, going with a fairly smooth but also banging instrumental. The cascading effect of the chorus was super cool and very ear-catching. Also ear-catching was SORN herself, who shows off a very mature side in terms of her vocals. I am also loving the retro tinge that the filtering of the vocals bring to SHARP OBJECTS, adding a lot more depth and colour to the song. I found the music video to be quite captivating. Not only does that mature vibe come through visually as well, I really enjoyed watching SORN on screen. Her acting throughout this video was on point. The use of the mannequins was quite creepy, if I am being honest. But it is a charming point of the video. There is a bit of choreography to this release, but I factor the choreography to be part of the music video. I quite liked the sensual vibes that were brought along. (9/10)

WILDSIDE – Red Velvet

Just a week following their Feel My Rhythm comeback, Red Velvet had unveiled their newest Japanese single, WILDSIDE. It officially released at the start of April. I quite liked the vocal centric side of this R&B dance track and the members sound well polished in this song. As a result, it is safe to say that the track falls onto the group’s ‘velvet’ category of releases. I did like the hint of abrasion that the instrumental brought to the song, so it isn’t too smooth and too consistent for my liking. I also enjoyed the prominence of the WILDSIDE‘s hook, as well, with the extra push in the vocal department helping offset that smooth and over consistency. I did wish there was something more dynamic in the song, just to drive it up a bit more. But it was a strong release already. The music video touches on an edgy concept, where they seem to be after that red gem we see in the video. Their black and white outfits are trendy and modern, and give rise to that edginess. But aside from that, there are also some really artsy shots throughout the video, which was interesting. I much prefer the artsy shots, as it felt more fitting for the song. But I did like the idea of changing up the visuals throughout the video. I liked the mature side of this choreography routine. There is a prettiness to it, as well. I wished there was a performance version somewhere to see more of the choreography than what is just in the music video. (8.2/10)

Run Up – T1419

T1419 had released a string of comebacks since their debut with ASURABALBALTA and DRACULA last year, and I have yet to review any of them (I will get to them eventually). But what I have noticed is that I am drawn to their Japanese releases, with Daydreamer from earlier this year being their best release to date. But I am hear to review Run Up, which was released in March of this year as the title track from the group’s first Japanese mini-album, Our Teen:Blue Side. It was re-released as a Korean single in May. I really enjoyed the dance track’s pre-chorus and chorus combination. There was a nice pop to the pre-chorus, and I liked the intensity and energy that comes from the chorus. The hooks were decent and had a nice ring to them. The verses were largely forgettable, which is a slight disappointment given this is where most of Run Up‘s rapping was located. The instrumental was also quite standard and lacked innovation, but there is enough to still be enjoyable. I also wished the vocal work was a bit stronger. Overall, a decent track with room for improvement. For the music video, this is my first time watching it. I love the crisp and high quality visuals we get. It is definitely left a strong impression on me. I feel like there is a plotline somewhere between the three or four settings we get, but I don’t think there were even enough details to even start making it comprehensive. The choreography, on the other hand, looks great. The synchronisation makes the whole thing looks super cohesive and shows off T1419 in a new light to me. (7.8/10)

Epitaph -for the future- – TVXQ

YUNHO returned in March with the other half of TVXQ (i.e. Max Changmin) for the release of Epitaph – for the future –, the duo’s latest Japanese release. Epitaph dips into the genre of rock, which has been a growing trend in the music that I have been reviewing. However, Epitaph mixes it up with classical instrumentation such as violins, allowing for the song to enter epic territory with their rock influences. There is also a musical-like flair to the song. I did find the vocal work from both YUNHO and Changmin to be quite restricted and limited, and I wished they really went in hard. It would have worked really well and potentially take Epitaph to a whole new level. Interestingly, synths entered the song for the dance break. It actually works well and doesn’t disrupt the song’s rock/classical dynamic. The music video depicts both members as opposing representatives – heaven and hell. Not exactly sure the reason for this, but it is a good concept. I liked the prominence of the red colour, without the need of oversaturating the video in the colour red. It was clever. I also like the raining pyrotechnics at the end. It looked very cool. The choreography for this release was alright. I also think it could have gone harder and bolder. But it was still a strong routine. It didn’t do too much and over-delivered, which could easily have happened. It felt refined in its own way. (8.5/10)

[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from the 1st Half of 2022 + more

As already mentioned on this blog somewhere (most likely the Weekly KPOP Charts posts), we are officially in July 2022. And that means that an entire 6 months has already past. Per usual, a substantial number of KPOP releases have been released, many of which have been on repeat. Keeping to tradition in July, it is time to post a list of my personal favourite songs from the 1st half of 2022.

I am doing things slightly different this year. In addition to the usual 10 songs (in no particular order) for the first half of 2022, I will also be posting two songs from the November – December 2021 period, which were ineligible for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards due to the cut off date being in October. And I will be posting 3 non-Korean songs (i.e. English, Japanese etc.) by Korean artists that caught my attention so far this year. So without furtherado, here are the list of my personal favourite songs of the year thus far (in no particular order, of course).

From November – December 2021

Personal favourite non-Korean songs of 2022 thus far

Personal favourite KPOP songs of the year so far (January – June 2022)

[Double Review] ASURABALBALTA + Dracula – T1419

It is time to do some catching up and review a new release from earlier in the week. Killing two birds with one stone, as the saying goes. T1419 made their debut on Monday with ASURABALBALTA. Those who don’t know who T1419, they are a nine-member male group from MLD Entertainment. Because they come from MLD Entertainment, the group is being marketed as the younger-sibling group of MOMOLAND, who also hails from the same company. Fun fact, the name T1419 is based on the current age range of the members (i.e. 14 to 19 years of age). The group also pre-released a single prior to their debut, Dracula, which is the second song in this review today.

While this is a double review, I will be focusing on ASURABALBALTA as that is their debut track. ASURABALBALTA is clearly an attempt of trying to fit into the industry with the dark and serious sound trend that male groups have been going for, particularly in 2020. I do like prefer this style of music from male groups. But T1419’s debut track fails to really captivate and capture my attention. ASURABALBALTA features a powerful instrumental that is undermined by the group’s delivery. The vocals and rapping don’t feature that same level of impact and hence weakens the integrity of the song quite a bit. And even while I describe the instrumental as powerful, I will admit that its content is very unimaginative. I wish there was more to every element. Let the instrumental have that spark it need to make it even more explosive. Let the vocals and rapping have a bit angst behind them to really make the song more captivating. I will give them a second chance when they next comeback rolls around. But ASURABALBALTA is just a listen once song for me.

Dracula was released back before Halloween 2020. I personally don’t remember what I initially thought about Dracula when it was first released. But post-ASURABALBALTA, Dracula has a bit more indivudality, even though it does have a plainness vibe to it. It, too, is an attempt to fit in with the darker sound of male idol groups in the KPOP industry. But there are acoustic guitars and flute work that is mixed into a bass-heavy and squeaky synth instrumentation. I also like the suspenseful bridge of the song, which works with the time period they released the song in. It isn’t exactly a fresh sound, but it definitely has its perks. Dracula also manages to put a bit of ‘life’ into the rapping, which I think is much better than the debut song’s rapping (even though, it is heavily deepened to give off a ‘possessed’ type of aura). The vocals don’t really scream out at me in Dracula, which felt more dried and dulled than ever. I just wished the instrumental (and vocals) had more oomph and energy, which would have Dracula a much more successful debut track than the former song.

ASURABALBALTA‘s music video was pretty one-dimensional. I wanted more to it, as it just opted for the basic choreography and closeup formula. At least, MLD Entertainment could have made the closeups a little more captivating. Aesthetic-wise, the colour palette works extremely well and the edgy vibes are well translated. But that is the best comments I can give for their debut music video. As for Dracula‘s music video, it was a smart video. It is relatively simple music video, featuring just choreography shots. But it taps into that Halloween pretty well. The setting that was chosen for the music video served its purposes for this concept. I really like the bats and chuckled at the randomness of the wolves. But the winning element, without a doubt, has to be the faces of the members. Scary, yes. Mysterious, yes. Creepy, yes. And going back to that ‘smart’ comment, Dracula also serves its purpose of being a teaser to the group, leaving us guessing and asking questions about the members.

T1419’s strongest point has to the choreography and performance. Both ASURABALBALTA and Dracula were strong performances. ASURABALBALTA showcased their syncness and energy quite well. I just wished the song was something more along the lines of the intro, which would have really showed us more of their performance skills. Dracula could have used some more flair, but it was still a decent routine that worked well with the rest of the music video.

Song – 5.5/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 6.2/10

Song – 6.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7/10