[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)

[International Song Reviews] WOOZI (SEVENTEEN), Eric Nam, Golden Child, Changmin (TVXQ) & NIK

It is time for another round of International Song Reviews. Unfortunately, the songs released by our beloved Korean artists have fallen to the back of the pack, and so they haven’t had much attention over the last few months. But I will eventually catch up and get around to reviewing them. Last post (way back in February) featured MONSTA X, SEVENTEEN, TWICE, WONHO and Jeon Somi. This time around, I am focusing on WOOZI (from SEVENTEEN), Eric Nam, Golden Child, Changmin (from TVXQ) and (new group) NIK.


WOOZI kicked started off the year with his mixtape solo release, Ruby. This track genuinely surprised me because I was under the impression that the track would be a Korean song. But it ended up being a full-English song. I was totally prepared to write a full review for it at the very start of the year, before I realized that it was in English. Anyhow, Ruby starts off as an unsuspecting ballad thanks to the strings that started off the song and gave a classical vibe. But that is just the intro to Ruby, which ended up being a unrelentless head-banging worth rock track. I liked that WOOZI maintains a light vocal tone throughout Ruby, but is also kept on top of the instrumental and isn’t drowned out by the backing piece at anyone point. The way the autotune comes into play throughout Ruby helps adds texture and amps up the energy, confirming Ruby‘s status as a top notch song to kick off a solo career. My only complaint is that Ruby could have been longer. As for the music video, I liked how the colour red was used in a balanced manner. Never was any scene was oversaturated in the bold colour (plus, there were some scenes that didn’t have a lick of the red colour!). But yet, you can tell that red was the central colour to the video. WOOZI also donned some sleek looking suits and got his boogie on during some parts, which felt refreshing and unique compared to other music videos we have seen for rock songs. (9/10)

I Don’t Know You Anymore – Eric Nam

It has been a while since I reviewed Eric Nam, with my last review for Eric being 2020’s Paradise. Since then, Eric Nam has released a handful of solo tracks, such as 2021’s I Don’t Know You Anymore (which was rereleased as a track on his second English studio length album, There and Back Again). I have picked I Don’t Know You Anymore as Eric Nam’s next review on my blog because it was such an an ‘easy on the ears’ track to listen to. It remains within the pop realm and is quite upbeat, but never does it feel too much. This is a style Eric Nam excels at, based on his many hits that I have covered on the blog. I like how his vocals flow through this song, the simplicity of the hooks and melodies, and the prominence of guitars that makes up the instrumental. It does get a bit repetitive, and I wished there was something within the song that dispels the repetitiveness. But still a great listen nonetheless. For the music video, I liked the simplicity of the scenes and shots we got. Eric Nam showed character and let himself loose for this video, which made it is a fun video to watch. Some of the post-production effects felt unnecessary, and it felt like the editor got a little too excited on their part whilst editing the video. (8/10)

A WOO!! – Golden Child

Earlier this year, Golden Child made their debut in Japan with the single A WOO!!. Knowing what Golden Child has put out in Korean, I am disappointed with A WOO!!. While the track dabbles in a synth-pop like dance track, it never hits hard and the instrumental never really catches on, for the most part. The ‘A WOO‘s we get as part of the lyrics and hook falls flat and doesn’t really excite me. Similarly, their vocals and rapping doesn’t really appeal to me. But they do hold their ground well. But it isn’t all bad news for A WOO!!. My favourite part of the song is actually the post-chorus that follows the first and third choruses. It is when the song hit hardest, is the most abrasiveness (and so is the most interesting part of the instrumental) and the intensity is quite memorable. It is just unfortunate that the rest of the song is generic and doesn’t live up to the same level. For the music video, it was a fairly simple setup of choreography shots/closeups. Like the song, the video is pretty plain-looking. But it isn’t the end of the world for me, as the stylists did a good job of making the members look edgy throughout this video. For the choreography, A WOO!! doesn’t really have much going on to stand out. But I note their sharp moves (as always) and the wolf references we get in the choreography. But nothing as strong as their Korean routines. (6.2/10)

Human – Max Changmin (TVXQ)

In addition to making his solo comeback in Korea earlier this year through Devil (title of both title track and mini-album), Max Changmin also made a solo comeback in Japan with the track Human (though at the end of 2021). Human is a three language song, with Korean, Japanese and English lyrics. To me, the song could have been epic. Key words being ‘could have been’. The lacking element to Human is the instrumental and this prevents Human from fully entering that epic territory. Instead, it felt half-baked and didn’t have much going on within it. I personally have no idea how else to even describe it! I wish the instrumentals went with either dramatic orchestra, or intense EDM, or powerful rock to really take Human to the next level. What does give Human some hope and drives the song towards epic possibility is Max Changmin himself. He really packs a punch in Human and doesn’t hold his vocals back. I like how loaded the lyrics felt, and the way Max Changmin delivered his lines definitely emphasised this point. As for the video, I like the premise of what we see. I would go the extra length to say the plotline, but what I got out of the video is based on my imagination. My interpretation of the story is that Changmin makes the ultimate sacrifice at the end to save the younger boy, who I am guessing is himself. I am basing this on the fact that he seems prepared to take that plunge and spends the moments beforehand reminiscing about the ocean through his hands. Also we don’t see the young boy in the sandstorm until after Changmin take the plunge. (8.5/10)


NIK is a new group whom I have not reviewed before on this blog. They are Japanese-Korean male group consisting of 11 members, some of which are former and current members of KPOP groups, that made their debut in 2021. For more information about NIK, check out their profile on Kprofiles. ANOTOKIE is a Japanese single released by the group in December 2021, but it didn’t get my attention until early this year. For me, it is the warmth of the chorus and comforting nature of the melodies that really got me into this simple song. There is also a hopeful atmosphere to the song that I was also drawn to. This is partly thanks to the pleasant pop instrumental, which paired well with the straight forward vocals in the chorus. Elsewhere, I heard solid vocal and rapping potential (Though the heavily autotuned rapping in the second verse could have been omitted). I am not entirely sure what the music video was meant to show, given how the ending some of the members seem to be happy that they are together. Throughout the video, some of the members were reflective, frustrated or sad. I guess they are encompassing the emotions that they sing about in ANOTOKIE, which is all about wanting that extra chance to make things right with their partner (but knowing that chance has passed). But the ending doesn’t make much sense. Also, their outfits look like they shot this between schedules. The all white outfits don’t look natural in the urban setting. Maybe some refinement and clearer direction could have helped the video. (7.8/10)

[Album Review] Devil (2nd Mini Album) – Max Changmin (TVXQ)

Max Changmin made his return as a solo artist earlier this year in January with his second solo mini-album, Devil. It features the title track of the same name, two pre-release tracks (Fever and Maniac) that I had previously reviewed in a double review format, and three additional side tracks. It is his first Korean solo release since Chocolate (name of both title track and his first mini-album) back in 2020. Devil is the focus of this album review.

Devil is such a dynamic album. It starts off intense and extremely aesthetic. As the mini-album progresses, it slows down a bit, but still maintains that dynamic nature. It isn’t until the final song does the mini-album slow down considerably. Nonetheless, this mini-album is a strong one and this expected from such a legendary artist that is Max Changmin. Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments below.

Devil Album Cover

1. Devil (Title Track)Click here for the full review for Devil. (9.5/10)

2. ManiacClick here for the full review of Maniac. (10/10)

3. FeverClick here for the full review for Fever. (10/10)

4. AlienAlien features a groovy Latin instrumentation that I thought was quite neat. What really impresses me the most in Alien is Max Changmin’s vocals. It didn’t take long for Max Changmin and Alien to win me over. He ultilises both his high and low ranges in this song extremely well, and the entire track comes off smooth. The ending changes up the dynamics of Alien, by featuring a high pitched autotune backing vocals. It is interesting and gave off a unique effect to the song. (10/10)

5. Dirty Dancing – The instrumentation for Dirty Dancing is quite interesting. It also plays into the Latin sound. But instead of just being Latin influences, Dirty Dancing adds bass and synths to make Dirty Dancing a bit modern and robust. The bass in Dirty Dancing allows the beat to really come to life, whilst also making it powerful in a subtle manner. Max Changmin provides solid vocals for this song, and the hooks was super catchy. Another strong track from the solo artist. (9/10)

6. Airplane Mode – Final song on the mini-album is Airplane Mode, and it is the album’s most mellow track. It is so much softer compared to the previous tracks, and it is a nice way to ease out of an intense mini-album like this one. It also feels quite refreshing. I really liked the laid-back manner of the instrumentation, and the soft and delicate nature of Max Changmin’s vocals. It is quite a warm and lovely song. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9.4/10

Devil Teaser image

[Review] Devil – Max Changmin (TVXQ)

Today is a Max Changmin day, as I review a third song from the soloist, who made his official solo comeback today. The song in question for this review, along with the title of his second mini-album that also dropped today, is Devil. Serving as pre-releases for this release is Fever and Maniac, which I had just posted reviews for in a double review format. The last time we saw Max Changmin as a solo artist was through his 2020 release Chocolate and more recently his Japanese single Devil in December 2021 (which I am hoping to review soon).

Devil continues the string of unique and individualistic releases from Max Changmin with an epic and bone-chilling track. I have a personal playlist of epic and thrilling sounding tracks that I have heard over time (i.e. movie sound tracks, songs used to back intense moments from TV shows and other general tracks that I have come across with epic vibes that puts me on the edge of my seat), and Devil would fit right into that playlist. From the very first second, Devil itself stands out from the crowd with its acapella ‘hoo hoo‘ background and Changmin’s lower tone. Some striking guitar and percussion work comes into play soon after, but they are kept very minimalistic for the time being. All of this continues up until we get to the chorus, which is separated by a brief moment of silence and a slightly roughed up autotuned ‘So let it rain‘ line, before we are launched into an epic chorus that is made of the exact same instrumentations already mentioned (including the acapella that provides us the ‘Rain on me‘ lines in the chorus). and features an intense drop. It is definitely a bold and worthwhile endpoint. Like the other songs reviewed today, Changmin pairs his voice with the instrumentation and throws in some tension as he raises his vocals. The melodies aren’t as striking, which is a tad disappointing. But that can be overlooked by the execution and epicness of the chorus His vocals are once again shown off in the brief second verse and bright, before we are brought back to the chorus each time. His high notes were so satisfying and just added so much more oomph to the song. He finishes in an amazing manner, with an ad-lib that brought nice closure to an otherwise thrilling song. Overall, Devil leaves me impressed and in awe – which is definitely continuing thread of the whole comeback. Can’t wait to listen to the album.

Per usual, I am not entirely sure what is going on in this video. From the ending (spoiler alert), it appears that Changmin is the devil. So I guess, the video is some sort of origin story. Again, not entirely sure. But what I am sure is that I really enjoyed the dark vibes from the video. It is a dark intensity that I look for when KPOP does ‘dark concepts’, to which only a few acts have managed to pull off before. And the forest scenes in this video nailed it. I also liked how minimalistic the video was as well (like the song), but there was still so much going on at the same time. The flashes in time with the beat for the chorus were also a great idea.

The performance of this release is quite aesthetic. From what I can observe from the music video, it fits the epic vibe and flair of the song quite well. The second chorus looks amazing with Changmin in the middle and the dancers surrounding him. Also the spin in the final chorus looks stunning. I do hope we get to see a live performance of Devil with all these elements in it!

Song – 9.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.3/10

[Double Review] Fever + Maniac – Max Changmin (TVXQ)

Max Changmin starts the year off with a bunch of new releases. All of these new releases (plus a few more songs) form part of his second mini-album, Devil, which officially dropped today. Per usual, I will be focusing on the releases with music videos. As the post type ‘double review’ insinuates, I will be reviewing two releases in this post which in my mind act as the pre-releases for this new album. The first is titled Fever, which ‘stage’ video dropped on 8 January 2022. The second is for Maniac, which ‘promotional’ video dropped on 10 January 2022.

Fever kicks off promotions for the new album with an impressive and captivating track. Fever opens up with some jazzy influences and teases us with some rock as well. His voice flirts with us for a moment, just briefly before Fever builds to its full potential. Within less than half a minute, Fever has changed its tune. The song now brings out heavier and powerful drumming, while Changmin ups his vocals to a higher and powerful tone to compliment the change in momentum. While percussion becomes a prominent part of Fever from then on, the piano and rock influences do not falter and are consistently present throughout the rest of the song. As Fever progresses, the instrumental gets more intense (especially each time we re-enter the chorus) and Changmin pushes his vocals in both direction, impressively showing off both his high and low registers throughout the song. However, that is not all. For the best parts of Fever, it has to be everything from the instrumental dance break (that forms the bridge onwards). The concentrated rock and the interjection of the piano melody for the dance break, followed by Changmin literally blowing me away with his high notes on top of the powerful drumming that feels more like slams at this point. I am in awe every time I listen to Fever.

Maniac left me speechless when I listened to the song the first time around. Second and third time around, I was enjoying myself and the exciting tempo and relentless energy that was coming from the Maniac. And it is still hard to sit down to review this song without nodding or tapping along to the beat. Maniac takes on a completely different vibe to Fever, going down a more Queen influenced and theatrical path with its style and sound. I just loved the colour and vibrancy that was coming from Maniac, a definite positive aspect of the song. It is also quite unique and is very fresh, as a result. Another positive aspect of the song has to be the showcase of Changmin’s vocals, which are undoubtedly superb in this song. His voice just captivates you in this track as well, and pulls you in. The character behind his vocals compliment the theatrical side of the song, and the vibrancy his vocals bring to the song just amps Maniac to new heights. I really like the different types of melodies used throughout Maniac, including the ascending and descending melodies in the choruses and bridge. Overall, both Fever and Maniac are bold numbers in their own right, with each coming off as different and appealing at the same time.

Fever‘s video is more straightforward, as it is a stage video. Essentially, the performance is the main focus of the video and it appears that Changmin is singing the track live (due to the presence of the microphone on his face – but I hesitate in calling this a live performance for now). The stage looked cool, though I think the lighting at times could have been better. I also wished his outfit was a bit more unique and not cliché. Maniac on the other hand has a more fleshed out music video, with influences from Alfred Hitchcock being a prominent feature of the video. For those who are not familiar, the music video carried influences from Psycho and The Shining, as well as Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy. But to fit the brighter and upbeat tone, the video strayed away from the horror elements (though it looks like we did get a touch of that still) but more so on colour and vibrancy. I also liked how the video was separated into acts, further bringing the theatrical influences from the song to the video as well.

Maniac does not have a performance, so I will skip over that. However, Fever does. And it is a bold and powerful routine, just like the song. What makes it bold would be more so the ambition of pulling off a live performance with this song. And when I mean live, I mean live vocals and the same energy as we got in the video! I would love to see Changmin perform Fever live. I doubt there would be any issue on his part, and I will be very impressed with any attempt of it.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 9.4/10

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

[Double Review] Thank U + Eeny Meeny – U-KNOW Yunho (TVXQ)

Next up on the solo comeback list is U-KNOW Yunho, leader of the KPOP duo TVXQ! And this review is a double one, as U-KNOW Yunho made his comeback last week with two title tracks, Thank U and Eeny Meeny. It has been a while since we have heard anything from this member of TVXQ, with his last solo comeback being his solo debut with his True Colours mini-album and the title track Follow in 2019.

Thank U was released last week on the 18th of January and is the main title track off his latest mini-album. And it kicks off U-KNOW’s return to the industry with a very energetic and upbeat dance track. Personally, I like the pop sound of the song and the overall energy of the song. Both of these elements come together to make the song quite bold. It isn’t anything new in KPOP, but its lack of reliance on electronic synths and genres is quite refreshing. What is also bold is Yunho’s delivery throughout the song. I cannot say the song is not addictive when there is such clear cut repetition in Thank U. The whole chorus is built on this simple technique and I think it pays off. It has a really nice ring to it and works extremely well with the pulsing pop instruments. I also really like the bridge of the song, with the slow down motion and that brass that just makes everything suspenseful. The only problem with the song is the ‘I hate this‘ shouting line that pierces through the rest of the song in the second verse. It felt overwhelming and distracted me from enjoying the song. Overall, Thank U is definitely a really strong song, well positioned with a powerful instrumentation, bold delivery and an effective yet uncomplicated hook.

Eeny Meeny, released on the Monday that just passed, takes on that more funky trend that has no doubt taken over the KPOP industry. It is another bold number, this time with a more unique but exciting profile. A dance centric percussion introductory sequence kicks start the song and pushes the song forward. The song then gears up for the chorus with falestto-like high note in the centric position of this section. We then push into the chorus with the appropriate ‘Eeny Meeny Miny Moe‘, alongside a very textural piece that I am not sure how to even describe. It feels brass-like, but I am not entirely sure of this. What I find enjoyable about Eeny Meeny is that it showcases more of Yunho vocals, while the former song focuses more on rap (rap-speak delivery). And it is safe to say that he sounds stunning during those pre-chorus moments. The other parts were a bit ordinary. I also do wish we get more substantial rapping sequence than the super deep groans we get at the end. But that doesn’t mean this song isn’t fun or enjoyable.

The music video for Thank U is essentially a cinematic noir film (and you will need to be of legal age in your own country to view the music video due to the violence that is shown in the video). U-KNOW is brutally stabbed at the start of the video and is left for dead by a gang leader. Somehow, he is saved and escapes the hospital. Knowing that he would do that, the gang leader sends his henchmen in to kill him, but they all fail. Yunho ends up meeting with the gang leader and the pair ends up playing a game of lethal Russian Roulette. It is definitely an intense wait to see who would end up dead. The game is briefly stopped for a gunfight, which leaves the gang leader dead. Yunho (proving his immortality once again) leaves after dumping a pin (of which I don’t know the significance of). Honestly, it was a really great music video. I liked how they incorporated choreography shots into the storyline and managed to still continue the momentum (and the actual storyline). I just wished the gang leader said more than what he said at the start and wasn’t grunting his way through second meeting of the pair.

The music video for Eeny Meeny is more casual and lighthearted. It features Seulgi from Red Velvet as the person to steal U-KNOW’s attention. The urban setting of the music video works extremely well with the lighthearted but energy filled music. And I like how U-KNOW interacts with his surrounding throughout the video by stepping on and off cars and other vehicles. Or dancing away on big trucks. It all fits together and the video flows extremely well. I am confused about the ending of the video with him bleeding from the head (that should be looked at) and Seulgi just smiling at him. Maybe this is a dream sequence for when he is in hospital from the previous music video? Who knows?

When it comes to the performances, I prefer Eeny Meeny‘s one more. Simply because it is more likeable and carries on that casual and carefree feeling I mentioned a moment ago. Yunho looks like he is enjoying the routine and it feels a lot more vibrant. Thank U‘s performance was quite good as well, showcasing a more skillful routine that feels heavier and loaded. I really like the turns in the performance and how it compliments the punchier moments of the song.

Thank U
Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

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

[Album Review] Chocolate (1st Mini Album) – Max Changmin (TVXQ)

It is time for another album review. Sorry that this is a day late again. I had it written up and ready to go. But I was too tired after a long week at work to actually copy into the editor and insert the videos for the album review. So I opted to Netflix instead, like a professional procrastinator. But without any further delays, here is yesterday/today’s album review post. Today’s focus is on Max Changmin’s official solo debut mini-album, Chocolate, which is also the title of the main title track on the album. This release comes after Changmin had debuted as part of TVXQ 16 years ago.

Chocolate Album Cover

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

2. High Heels – One thing that stands out in High Heels is the subtle level of grooviness in this jazzy number. There is also a sleek and classy vibe thanks to the funky guitar and deep bass in the background, all contributing to a strong foundation. Adding to the appeal of the song is Changmin’s vocals, which I find to be quite light. I liked the harmonies between Changmin’s vocals and the background vocals. The sound of the high heels walking at the start and end of the song was also adds an element of curiosity and got me thinking why Changmin would be singing a song by a pair of high heels. Well, the high heels referred to in the song aren’t the actual shoes. Rather, it is referred to as a barrier and that their crush is unreachable. (8/10)

3. Lie (ft. Chungha)Lie steers the song towards the modern sound again. We get a minimalist instrumental in this song, with hollow drums being the main instrumentation we get during the verses. The song adds a dramatic flair and a beat to the chorus, driving the song forward. Lie also features Chungha, who we all know from hit songs and recent release (Stay Tonight). I really like how the song sets up for Chungha’s featuring for the chorus, inserting a squeaky synth into the background and easing us towards a high-pitched yet aesthetic ‘I’m So Lonely’, courtesy of Chungha herself. I like it feels like it is part of the instrumentation, yet at the same time, we know it is her featuring part. She isn’t limited to just 3 words on repeat, however, as she has a vocal sequence in the bridge, which was quite nice. Changmin, himself, sounds amazing in this song. He goes between a standard pitch that somehow just melt into your ears, high pitch and harmonises with the backing vocals that just adds further smoothness to his voice. The pair doesn’t share any sections explicitly, but they manage to develop a really strong chemistry that I just want more of. (10/10)

4. Piano – I don’t know if Piano is meant to come off as a fun number. But that is the feeling that I get from this amazing song. First of all, I am in love with Changmin’s vocals in this song. He goes lows for the verses and I find this very alluring, given the higher note of the piano in the background. His adopts a more powerful vocal delivery for the chorus and this felt very bold due to the contrast with his low tone. Second of all, how aesthetic is this instrumental. It predominately features someone hitting the same key on a piano throughout the instrumental. There is also this low bass beat and drumbeats which adds some character to the song. I also love the dramatic endings to the chorus, which add a zap to the song that really grabs your attention. To sum up, I quote Changmin in the song, ‘I Like It, Don’t Stop’. (10/10)

5. Me, Myself & I – Setting up the tone and direction of this R&B is an unanswered song and the line ‘I’m so freaking over you’. Changmin barely enters a different vocal range in the song unlike his other tracks, staying low and bringing out a raspy sound in this voice. It almost feels like he is whispering to himself. This R&B track features acoustic guitars and drum beat that pushes the song along. While it does sound like all is lost in his opening line (which is the opening line to all choruses in the song), there is a glimmer of hope and that is why you could feel a little warmth to the way the song came together. Unfortunately, I did find the song monotone to a degree and hence didn’t enjoy as much as the other songs on the album. (7/10)

6. No TomorrowNo Tomorrow is the song that closes up the album. And it definitely follows the feel at how the songs do not sound alike in anyway. It is upbeat thanks to the band instrumentation and acoustic guitars. The song also has a very bright profile, which I find every interesting. That might be due to the really uplifting lyrics that Changmin had penned. In No Tomorrow, his vocals are a lot bolder and not held back. Actually, a better way to describe is that Changmin lets loose in this song, without going with a crazy song. It feels refined this way and ends the album on a very bold yet happy note. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

Chocolate Teaser Image

[Review] Chocolate – Max Changmin (TVXQ)

Max, otherwise known as Changmin, debuted as part of TVXQ back in 2003. And while he has been an experienced KPOP artist, he has yet to officially make his solo debut. That is, until today through the song, Chocolate. He may be a familiar face to some fans who have been listening to KPOP for some time, however he may be quite unfamiliar to any new fans to the industry. Come to the think of it, it has been a while since we have heard from Changmin. To be precise, the last we saw Changmin (in Korea) was through the TVXQ’s Truth back in 2018 (He and fellow member Yunho have been slightly more busy in Japan – their last comeback being in 2019).

The one issue I find when it comes to artists who have been around for some time is that their solo release ends up being something tacky in an effort to fit in when it. Other times, they release something too typical. Chocolate is neither of these things. Right off the bat, Changmin grabs your attention with the flawless vocals and the pretty random line ‘I ain’t scared of electricity’. The flawless vocals continue throughout the song. It sounds like he is shouting during the pre-chorus but it feels very controlled and grounded. The verses sounded like he was whispering in comparison and I enjoyed the sing-speak for the actual chorus. I also like the rap-speak that he brings, adding texture to the song. The instrumental is full of other different textures thanks to the use of various synths. It is definitely a funky mix, overall and one that undoubtedly keeps you captivated. I also find it interesting that the producers kept the chorus very short and sweet. The repetition of the ‘Chocolate‘ does not feel overwhelming or overly repetitive. Like the food item, this song is definitely one to take in moderately. Or else, you would just be replaying the song all the time.

The music video shows a failed heist. We open up with the ending. Changmin is holding on to the edge of a building and subsequently dropping down to the bottom. The thrill of this probably compliments the same feeling we got from the start of the song. The story then goes to Changmin being interrogated (which I believe is the start of the story). He then escapes, plans the heist, fails are getting the fancy marble-like structure (his hands hover near it, but he never touches it) and then proceeds to go on the run. At the end of the video, he is seen on the roof, which re-links the story back to the start of the video. I think the video wraps up nicely. I am just not sure about the other sections. Unless, I am missing key details or misinterpreting it entirely (which seems to be the case most of the time). Let me know what you think about the storyline in the comment section below.

The choreography is quite good. It may not be as ground-breaking (from what I could see in the music video) in comparison to what TVXQ is commonly known for. But it still does the job. There seems to be a flirtatious facial expression that Changmin puts on during the chorus, which I am sure fans will enjoy.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.9/10

[Album Review] True Colors (1st Mini Album) – Yunho (TVXQ)

It has been a long time coming for Yunho, who made his debut in the KPOP industry back in 2003. But on June 12 (exactly one month ago), Yunho made his solo debut with his first solo mini-album. This means that he didn’t get to formally promote a solo album for over 16 years since his debut, which is quite a long time for an established artist like Yunho. The title of the album is True Colors and it features Follow (Yunho’s title track which was also released on the same day), alongside 5 other tracks. Let’s see what I thought the album below!

True Colors Album Cover

1..Follow (Title Track)Click here for the full review for Follow. (7/10)

2. Blue Jeans – Continuing on with the intensity of Follow is Blue Jeans. In fact, I think Blue Jeans does one better, in terms of intensity. I found the instrumental to be unique and interesting. It felt like a club track but there was more to it. A bit of groove, a bit of R&B and a bit of colour. I enjoyed it. But the main showstopper from the track is his vocals. There were moments that almost felt like he was growling and showcasing a wilder side to his normal vocals. While I did have an itching feeling that there was a possible mismatch between the style choices between his vocals and instrumentation, the more I listen to the track the more the feeling is reduced. They somehow effortlessly come together, with the instrumental sounding like it moulded around the vocals very well. (9/10)

3. Swing (ft. BoA)Swing opts for a consistent dance track sound that you could hear while in a club and is a lot more direct (in terms of complexity). There isn’t anything wrong with this, however, as it does serve as a good breather after two very dynamically intense tracks. I really like the pulsing instrumental in Swing, which really drives that dance club factor I mentioned initially. Both Yunho and BoA do a nice job on the vocal front. Interestingly, they don’t push themselves vocally, which keeps the song consistent. Though I am not sure how this song would fair with repetitive listens (i.e. the consistency could really dry up the song). I think a more dynamic dance break following the choruses could have solved this potential issue. Nonetheless, I do think it is a good track and definitely a collaboration I like to see on stage. (8/10)

4. Hit Me Up (불러) (ft. Giriboy) – I am slowly starting to see a pattern in terms of the energy of the songs on the album. The first two songs are intense. The last two songs are on the paced side of the spectrum. This leaves Swing and Hit Me Up situated along the imaginary spectrum set by the albums track list. And I think listening to Hit Me Up confirms this. It is a pop track with very little to offer. I do have some negative comments about it. I felt like the track was hovering in a slightly awkward position. The instrumental didn’t feel like it had a strong backing, which leads to this ‘hovering’ analogy. Yunho’s vocals were weak and Giriboy’s rapping was over excessively laced with autotune. I did, however, think Giriboy’s inserts throughout the song helped build the song but it wasn’t enough to help define it. (6/10)

5. Why (왜)Why is a jazzy style of R&B that sounds so incredibly smooth. Despite the smoothness, there is a bit of texture going on within the song’s instrumental to create a rather aesthetic atmosphere. This makes the song quite appealing, which is expected when it comes to my taste in music. Going back to my comments in Hit Me Up, this is the start of the slower or more paced side of the album. The song doesn’t really pick up, keeping its tempo throughout the 3:45 minute track. Yunho’s vocals were also another appealing point of the track. They were showcased and through his vocals, Yunho managed to put forward a sensual atmosphere, which I think any of his fans would really enjoy. (8/10)

6. Change The World – Ending the album is a ballad. Change The World sings about hope, which was my first thought about the song’s potential direction, as I had gotten it mixed up with the classic Heal The World. It stresses the message that we are all equal and can make a change in the world. It is a good ballad with an important message that does a nice job of putting Yunho’s vocals forward. I like how it progressed, with Yunho starting alone and everyone coming in together towards the end. It wraps the song up nicely and the album, as well. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

True Colors Teaser Image

[Review] Follow – Yunho (TVXQ)

While I have only completed one review for a release last week, let’s take a break for one of today’s releases. Today marks the official solo debut for Yunho, one of the two members of the TVXQ duo and has been active in the industry since 2003. The title track. Follow, is featured on the artist’s first ever Korean solo album as well. Previous solo singles from Yunho that I have reviewed are Champagne and Drop, which were all special singles a part of SM Station.

Right off the bat, I find Follow to be extremely fitting into a style of music that I listen to. I find the instrumentation that kicks off the track to be mysterious and dramatic, which are all things that I am drawn to. I really like the bass element in this track, which really makes the song sound so punchy and deep. I think the vocals are a tad weaker. I thought Yunho showed great vocals, with that odd growl in this voice and that really nice display of a high note at the end of the track. Rather, I think it was the integration of the vocals into the electronic side of the song that failed him. But that was only for the verses. I found they did a good job of incorporating this voice during other parts of the song. That raspier and electronically filtered background vocals that appeared during the hooks of the track were quite fitting and gave an added texture to the track. I think overall, I find the song to be interesting and engaging. Whether if I find myself to be a fan, I guess we have to see with a few more listens, even though it ticks off a few of my interests.

I think when it comes to Yunho and TVXQ in general, a dark concept is definitely a must. What makes this music video stand out is the fact there is a futuristic vibe to it, which I found to be very cool.  Per usual, I don’t have any clue on what is happening in the music video. I did see that Yunho may have awakened some motorcyclist spirit in this futuristic world but I hardly doubt that would be the plotline of the video (i.e. a little paranormal thrown in the mix). But this dark concept has me interested and I guess I need to rewatch a few more times to really grasp a plotline to it.

Per usual, Yunho doesn’t disappoint with his choreography. My thoughts are all based on what I saw in the music video. I find his moves to be extremely stylish in this comeback. ‘There is also some attitude in this performance, which makes it very worthwhile to check out whenever it is performed on stage.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Review] Truth – TVXQ

TVXQ’s The Chance of Love is nominated for Best Music Video in this year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Voting closes in a few days, so click on this link and vote, if you haven’t done so yet!

TVXQ made their comeback today with Truth. The release and the mini-album, Chapter #2: The Truth of Love, is extra special as it celebrates the duo’s 15th year anniversary. It was actually 15 years ago this day that the group (a quintet) debuted with their single, Hugs. And while the group has a had many highs (including very well-known tracks and choreographies), they also had some lows. But the duo remained strong throughout its 15 years and hence why they are able to still release songs today. Here is to more releases in the future!

Truth is a jazzy R&B mix, which I think was quite pleasant overall. There weren’t any hard-hitting moments which I tend to think is great every now and then when it comes to an industry heavily reliant on dance and electronic music. It provides relief if you know what I am trying to get at. The vocals in this song are quite good. Both opted for some falsetto for some parts of the song, which I really thought was nice given the jazzy influence the song had. But it also matched the R&B side as well. I really like the kick the ad-libs towards the end of the song gave the final moments of the song, which prevented the song from becoming too repetitive. It does lack a promising hook and doesn’t hold my attention for long. But apart from that, it is a good song.

The music video I thought was okay. Not really the most captivating video I have ever watched. The quality was definitely there but the content wasn’t that compelling compared to their previous comeback earlier this year (The Chance of Love). The start of the video gave action-movie vibes that I thought was promising. But they went in a completely different route, which matched the song but left me disappointed. I did like their outfits and I thought that the dance element was well incorporated into the video – due to the jazzy nature of the song.

The choreography was nice. I thought it was well put together and really showed TVXQ’s dance skills at a mature level, which is appropriate for the song. It isn’t the most mind-blowing performance but it had a pleasant and smooth feeling to it.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.3/10

[Review] Jealous – TVXQ

TVXQ has a very extensive career in Japan. While their Korean releases have been dropped down to once a year (or in some cases once every few years), the duo continually releases new Japanese songs. Their last release was in the form of their ninth studio album, Tomorrow, which features the singles Reboot (which I previously reviewed) and Road. Today, we will be looking at a much newer release, Jealous, which has yet to feature on any album.

It is genuinely nice to see a Japanese release not depending on EDM of any kind. Jealous instead employs a very dramatic flair and some deep brass to really make the song pop. And I like this unique sound, as it quite cool. The verses were a little plain for my liking. Other parts were a lot more likeable. The pre-chorus was a little different, reminding me of chanting (without the chanting – if that makes any sense). And the chorus was spectacular. It was simple yet it was extremely dynamic. Here, you can hear the dramatic nature the most and the use of higher pitched vocals gave it a very edgy vibe. The bridge of the song was probably the weakest part of the song. It felt too similar to the rest of the song and didn’t feel like a pivotal point in the song. But besides that, Jealous is a pretty decent song.

I am unsure if the set is real or if it fake (i.e. CGI). It looks so good and I want Korean music videos to start adopting these sets as they will really kick the ‘box sets to the next level. I like how the sets were very classy looking and TVXQ were extremely good-looking in their close-ups. I also liked how they brought a dark theme to the video. I also thought their ‘casual’ wear scenes were very fitting. Overall, it was a very good music video.

I think the moment that stole the show for me was the second chorus when the two of them were dancing with the female backup dancers. For some reason, that felt rather different and I liked their different feel. It was a nice performance overall.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Review] The Chance Of Love – TVXQ

It has been a while since we have seen the legendary duo, TVXQ, but as of today, they are officially back!  Their last comeback was in 2015 when they released solo singles as part of their 8th full-length album (Champagne and Rise As One). The Chance of Love, the title track off their 9th full-length album (titled as New Chapter #1: The Chance Of Love), is also their first comeback as a duo since leaving the military last year. They did release solo SM Station tracks (Drop and In A Different Life) last year as well.

The first thing that attracts my attention to the song is the really fun sounding instrumental. It is described as a dance track with swing jazz elements throughout it. It isn’t something you get to hear often, so it is quite unique. On top of that, it reminds me of some Europen songs that used to be extremely popular back in the day. With all TVXQ comebacks, there is solid vocal work in this song. Not once did it feel awkward or out-of-place. I particularly like the ‘Eh, Hey Hey‘ at the start of each verse. Don’t know why but it felt like a perfect opener to each of the verses and it also provides a little something fun to the song. The chorus also features a nice melodic hook which is bound to get me singing along if I continue listening to the song.  Honestly, the song ticks all the boxes to make it a perfect song for me. It’s a perfect comeback track to my ears.

The music video is also nicely done. I like it how SM has actually done away with the boxes and have branched out into new sets and scenery. While this music video is still recorded in a studio, everything feels fitting for the ‘Kings of KPOP’. The sets all look classy and elegant. The same words can also be used to describe the guys as well. My comments for this section might be short but do check out this awesome video.

From what I can see in the music video, the performance is going to be extremely fun. Going back to the roots of the song, it is fitting. What more can you ask for? I’ll return, though, with extra comments once I see a live performance.

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



[Review] Reboot – TVXQ

This year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards’ voting period will end in a day. This is your final chance to support your favourite artists and songs of 2017. To get voting, please click here.

This is the final review of the four that I wanted to do. Originally, I was going to review another track released a few months back but I have decided to go with a more recent comeback. TVXQ recently came back to the music industry with solo songs after their respective military enlistments. Reboot is their first comeback as a duo since 2015 in both Japan and Korea.

Right off the bat, Reboot will probably suit any Japanese anime as an opener or ending credits. The takes a turn when it approaches the chorus. It transforms into an upbeat musical sound, which works well with its preceding section. The second verse seems to slow down and lies somewhere between that anime associated first verse and just a standard pop track. The bridge of the song is a little off-putting in my opinion. It isn’t terrible but it is the only part that I feel doesn’t fit. It has the basic instrumental layer that runs through the entire song but the rapping just doesn’t connect well. For the rest of the song, the vocals were quite good and it has the potential to become quite catchy. Not fond of the ending, mainly because it seems to be an extension of the bridge. But overall, for a song about ‘Reboot‘, it definitely works.

The start of the music video is like a mini-movie, just there really is no storyline associated with it.  The only thing that I can gather is like it tries to make an epic story out of the return of TVXQ. It has the cool factor down but maybe not as attention-grabbing as you expected. I feel like that first portion could have been left out altogether and allow the video to get to the song, which I am sure everyone wanted to hear. But that might just be my preference. I like the various sets of the music video, giving off a futuristic but grand feeling to it.

The choreography is usually the other main aspect of the TVXQ music videos. Reboot has a pretty cool choreography but I don’t find it as amazing as some of their performances that have wowed us. I don’t have any specific comments to make with the performance besides that.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 6/10 
Performance – 6/10
Overall Rating – 6.75/10

As the full music video isn’t officially out on YouTube, I have decided to link the Naver version of the music video, which I am hoping is the official music video. Click here for the video.


[Review] In A Different Life – Max Changmin (TVXQ)

The second half of the legendary duo, TVXQ, has finally returned. Max Changmin has returned with his solo single, In A Different Life. The track is also part of the SM Station weekly release and this week’s release also features Yunho’s Drop.

Unlike Yunho’s electronic-heavy single, Changmin went for a more simplified and natural sound. In A Different Life is a pop-ballad that features guitars and a beautiful piano melody. But that doesn’t steal the spotlight. It is his vocals that do and it shines brightly. The way he delivers the lines just make everything sound like you are floating in the clouds. It is not harsh nor rough, but it is soft and mellow. But that being said, the song does feel a tad empty. First of all, it isn’t exactly that memorable. While I did highlight his vocals, the song doesn’t come off as catchy or has any moments that make me go “Wow”. Second of all, I don’t think the song peaked at all. Instead, it just felt very neutral and linear, in terms of its sound. But regardless, I still appreciate the song for its simplicity and softer sound. Comparing the two songs (this one and Drop), both seem to go nicely together. One is pretty much straightforward while the other is unexpecting and complex.

Watching the accompanying music video, it puts the song into a more reflective light. Changmin seems to do just that. And while that is a good thing, I don’t think anyone is really into the whole ‘reflection time’ segments of life. That or it can be just me. It just doesn’t seem captivating and expectedly, the video shares the same fate. Max seems to take in Mother Nature through the many different shots we see him in, which all looked nice. Just the video doesn’t seem to engage me as I would hoping for.

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

[Review] Drop – Yunho (TXVQ)

After a two-year absent (due to mandatory military service), TVXQ has started to mark their return to the stage with the return of each individual member through SM Station. Yunho is first up with his single, Drop, which was dropped earlier this week.

From the very second Drop starts, the song bombards you with a whole heap of EDM and dubstep sounds. Multiple sections throughout the song are mashed together to form one whole song, which shouldn’t work, especially how volatile EDM can be. But it manages to work wonderfully here. And while I can see why this song could garner some interest for its many sections, I am not that fond of it. Personally, the start was a little disappointing and the song doesn’t really settle down until around halfway. The second half was much better, mainly because its sound was a lot more consistent. The best drop was that super intense dance break, which you get around the 4:20 mark of the music video. That gave the song that punch of intensity and energy that was much needed. Vocal-wise, Yunho does a pretty good job, though it was obvious that some autotune would be required to help him navigate through the song.

The song manages to come off as extremely dramatic, so it was fitting for an equally dramatic video as well. And that is exactly what we got. The concept seems to be military based, which seemed to go well with the intensity of the track as well. The visuals are quite good, with that industrial feel making it seem like an underground thing.

Choreography for this comeback is awesome. While you do see a few great moves throughout the earlier parts of the video, the dacne break around that 4:20 mark is definitely the best bit.

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