After seven years, the first member from TWICE is finally making her solo debut. The honour goes to TWICE’s NAYEON, who debuted as a solo artist last Friday with the single POP! and the mini-album Im Nayeon. I personally wonder if this solo debut is a backup plan in case TWICE’s contract negotiation falls through (which I hope is not the case). I just find it suspicious that the group is only a few months out of the standard seven year contract, and suddenly one member (so far – I hope there is more solo debuts on the way) make her solo debut. But I guess time will tell. Until then, this is my review for POP!. This is also the first TWICE related release of the year, as well, following the release of Doughnut in Japan and SCIENTISTin Korea.
POP! is an okay track. Since its release, I have listened to it a few times. And while it nice and decent, I am not exactly head over heels for this solo release. As mentioned yesterday, maybe time will help make the song grow on me. But as for now, I am pretty neutral over POP!. I liked the instrumental’s percussive and upbeat underlay, which was a pleasantly consistent element in the instrumental. It brought on a refreshing vibe to the song, undoubtedly fitting for the Summer season that this comeback falls in. The brass in the verse and the electric guitar in the chorus were nice additions to add extra life and colour to the instrumental. Together, they create a relatively simple pop instrumental for the likes of POP!. As for NAYEON’s vocals in POP!, they sound good. But I am not overly excited by her vocals. They felt somewhat plain. Similar comments can be said about the song’s melodies. I just expected something more jumpy or vibrant. We get part of the way there, but it just isn’t enough. Her spoken hook (i.e. the pops) were probably the most exciting part of the song. Though, I do think POP! would have benefited from something more punchy and colourful. The rapping felt unnecessary and adds an overly cute sequence into the song that felt too sugary and saccharine for my taste. Overall, I feel the strong and weak points of POP! cancel each other out, leaving me without much feelings for the song. I neither hate nor like POP!. I am just somewhere in the middle.
The music video fairs better than the song. It is everything you can ask for in a Summer concept music video. Bright, colourful, vibrant. The sets look amazing and fun, as well. I quite like the look of the post-production treatment, as it help adds so much more life visually to the video. On top of that, Nayeon is stunning and looks amazing throughout the video. Her smiles also make the a whole lot of difference to the video, adding more to those bright and vibrant descriptors I have mentioned.
I thought the choreography was great. The small pops that come via the hips and body movements looked fantastic and adds a vibrant and fun element to the routine. I also like how the dancers made the popping come to life following the second chorus when they stand behind Nayeon (and then fan out).
Song – 7/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 9/10 Overall Rating – 8/10
I am finally getting around to posting my first International Song Review post in a long while. My last post was way back in October 2021, and since then I have been fairly busy and unable to write any of these posts. But I am now back on the bandwagon. For those who may be unfamiliar with this segment, I review songs that aren’t in the Korean language (or are not marketed for the Korean music scene in some cases – such as some side tracks on Korean albums) that have been released by Korean artists (or artists that have a direction connect with a KPOP group). In this post, I will be covering songs released by MONSTA X, SEVENTEEN, TWICE, WONHO and Jeon Somi.
You Problem – MONSTA X
MONSTA X spreads the ongoing groovy and funky trend that we are currently experiencing in KPOP to the Western music scene. The group, now down to five members as Shownu has enlisted in the military, released this disco number early December 2021. It is quite unlike any of their Korean title tracks, which have been very EDM focused and performance heavy tracks. You Problem settles for a simpler approach, and one that is quite pure and fun. I love the guitar work in this backing of You Problem, along with those disco vibes we get in the chorus (as already mentioned). I also enjoyed the vocal focus of the song, which each member (even the rappers) singing in this track, complimenting the lighter than usual tone for MONSTA X. Kihyun and Jooheon’s falsettos in the chorus make the song even cooler! The hooks are super memorable, and the hooks are so damn catchy. Even after two months, I am still digging You Problem!
For the music video, it is set in a bowling alley that is reminisce of bowling alleys from the 70s. Definitely suiting the light tone, fun vibes and retro direction of the song. There are also heavy presence of other retro elements throughout the video, such as the checked pattern (commonly associated with racing) and neon lights. Even the glittery tinsel decoration behind the group when they are performing as a ‘band’ screamed out retro. The performance I saw also had a fun vibe. It was loose and fluid, as if the group was freestyling their performance. But also showed their personality, which made it even more enjoyable.
Overall Rating – 8.8/10
Power of Love – SEVENTEEN
Power of Love‘s music video officially dropped at the end of November, and closes out their Power of Love project that started earlier in 2021 with the release of Mingyu and Wonwoo’s Bittersweet (ft. Lee Hi). It is a neat ballad with a really meaningful message that even in difficult times, having the Power of Love can help you through it. I liked how even though the instrumental had sleigh bells ringing throughout the whole instrumental, Power of Love doesn’t feel constricted to just Winter or the Christmas season like other songs that ultilises sleigh bells. It was also quite soothing and it was a nice display of all the members’ vocals. Unfortunately, however, Power of Love doesn’t fair well in the memorable arena. It is a good ballad, but I am not necessarily looking for the song when I feel in a mood for ballad. I guess Power of Love was produced to be more on a sweet side. I do think there could have been room towards the end to oomph up the ballad a bit, just so it didn’t feel the same from start to end. I think Power of Love would have come off better if it went down this path.
The parts of the video where some of the members were in built sets (I believe it was just limited to Joshua, DK and Vernon) looked quite cool, and I wished the video had more built sets (as it felt stylish and modern). But instead, the producers for this video chose to just use green screen, and I felt this really cheapened the video. While the actual backgrounds applied through the use of the green screen looked aesthetic and the members look good as always, I wished the post-production team incorporated the members better. We have seen great use of green screen in the past, and this is just not one of those instances. It is just quite unfortunate.
Overall Rating – 6.2/10
Doughnut – TWICE
Doughnut was released on 15 December 2021 and the track itself comes in the form of a ballad. Not exactly the first genre of music you think of when you hear of a sugary treat. But it does create an abstract appeal, which makes Doughnut memorable for me. Talking about abstract, I also like how the members likened the void they experience without their partner, and the constant looping they refer to in the lyrics to the shape of a doughnut. To me, the song definitely needed this extra appeal, especially since I thought it was a bit of a blur. Everything from start to end felt similar, and I couldn’t work out where the chorus was in the song had it not been for the music video. While I did like the city-pop direction the instrumental was going and the delicate nature of their voices (which isn’t something we get in TWICE title tracks that much), I just wished parts of Doughnut were more distinct. The most significant distinct moment of the song was during the finale sequence with the use of synths to give off textures. But it was too late to really sell Doughnut to me.
Visually, I thought this was a very neat video. The snow, warm indoor settings and dress colours compliments the Winter season in which the song was released. That scene in the bridge where Mina and Chaeyoung are lying on the ground over a wreath was extremely memorable for me. I am a bit confused about the start and end of the video, with the ‘doughnut crime scene’. My guess is that the crime scene symbolises that the loop and void represented by the shape of doughnut is broken and that the members had moved on from what they thought were ‘the only one in the world’. Though, I am more confused about the amount of jam spilling from the doughnut (How did they get so much in the doughnut to begin with? And in a doughnut with a hole?). As for the choreography, it felt fitting for the balladry nature of the song.
Overall Rating – 6.8/10
ON THE WAY～- Wonho
Wonho’s Japanese debut single, ON THE WAY~, is actually the oldest song in this review post as it was first unveiled on 27 October 2021. It is a decent track that pleases with its sweet lyrics, thanking fans for staying by his side and that he treasures them greatly. Don’t be fooled though. ON THE WAY~ is no typical ballad. Instead, it features a satisfying band instrumental that really makes this song more appealing. I also like how amped the chorus gets. It did feel somewhat overpowering at first, but Wonho manages to shine throughout ON THE WAY~ with his blissful and honey-like vocals. I did wish there was something more to the song, like a more profound electrical guitar solo sequence (we did get an instrumental break, but it did feel enough) to make it even more satisfying.
The accompanying video was also quite nice. Not one that I see myself going back to however, since it just Wonho acting sweet and grateful to match the lyrics of the song. There are also some band shots and some decent outdoors shots. I am sure fans would adore this video.
Overall Rating – 7/10
Anymore – Jeon Somi
The final song on this post is Jeon Somi’s Anymore. You would have heard Anymore way before the music video dropped (which occurred on Christmas Day), as it was originally featured as a side track on Jeon Somi’s first solo studio album, XOXO, which dropped at the end of October (the 29th to be exact). It is an all-English track that delves into pop-rock territory. I quite like this song because it doesn’t feel complicated or difficult to navigate like EDM tracks. Anymore just sounded pure and doesn’t mess or fluff around. The soft pop rock sound that we hear in this song just suits Jeon Somi’s tone and she sounds very good. The melodies were also very memorable and satisfying, as well.
I need to applaud Jeon Somi’s visuals and acting in this video. Both were highlights that draw me back to the music video. I liked how she well she portrayed her heartbreak and emotions, whilst looking stunning as always. As for the music video concept, all looked terrific and worked extremely well with the song. I liked how chaotic the chorus appeared to match the increased energy we get from the chorus, while the verses were more still.
TWICE is nominated for Best Outfits (for their attire during their Alcohol-Free promotions) and Best Female Choreography (Group) for Cry For Me in the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Support TWICE in their categories by clicking here to vote for them.
The first album for review this weekend is TWICE’s Formula of Love: O+T=<3, their third studio album since debut. It features the title Scientist (previously reviewed and factored into this album review), a remixed version of the title track (not reviewed) and the English (factored into this album review) and Korean version of their single The Feels (not reviewed), and 13 new tracks (all reviewed below and factored into the album review). That is a whopping 16 tracks in total. This new album tackles the funky and groovy side of music, with a few distinct outliers. Read on to find out which ones are ‘funky and groovy’ and which ones are the outliers.
2. MOONLIGHT – Following the title track is the all-English MOONLIGHT, which is reminiscent of 80s/90s female pop groups. There is this twinkling touch on top of the groovy disco influence that feels appropriate for that era. It is a pretty smooth and pleasant number, with nice melodies and innocent vocals from the members. I did wish it changed it up a bit towards the end, as I feel MOONLIGHT is a tad too consistent. But overall, an enjoyable listen. (8/10)
3. ICON – ICON is the second all-English track on the album. I really liked the confidence and empowering nature behind the English lyrics of ICON. And I get that same exact feeling from the members as they exclaim the ‘’Damn, I got it, I’m iconic!’ line (which is a very catchy and memorable hook, by the way). Instrumentally, I thought ICON was a bit meh and wished it enable a more sassy vibe. (8/10)
4. CRUEL – CRUEL is a very sleek and sexy pop number. TWICE’s vocals really standout in this song, especially during the chorus where they use falsettos to make CRUEL iconic (relative to the rest of the album). I was totally digging it! I also like the subtle groovy touch to the instrumentation, which made me want to get up and dance. (10/10)
5. REAL YOU – Another track that I am very willing to get up and dance to. But it isn’t as great as CRUEL was. My first impression of REAL YOU was that there was a fair bit going on when it came to the instrumentation. Repeat listens since the album was release have neutralised that thought. Now, I like the grooviness and upbeatness that the instrumental brings, even though I find it a tad squeaky. All the members sound great, as well. (9/10)
6. F.I.L.A (FALL IN LOVE AGAIN) – TWICE is nailing the groovy and funky sounds on this album. F.I.L.A is a disco pop song, which chorus reminds me of Saturday Night Fever. I like the softness of the vocals in this song during the verses, and the deep rapping that we got. It contrasts well with the higher pitched and much more powerful vocals during the chorus. (10/10)
7.LAST WALTZ – LAST WALTZ gives off a mature vibe that hasn’t been heard on the album yet. It is sensual, but also adds onto the album’s funky direction in a subtle manner. The members sound great in this track, though I wished the flow of their lines was a bit more cohesive. They sound rather jaggered, and this didn’t come off as pleasant as it could have. The rapping stands out in this track, with the relevant members slaying their delivery! (8/10)
8. ESPRESSO – Whatever I had in mind for ESPRESSO, the final product was not it. I expected café style music for some reason, but instead we got a heavy dance club track. I like this change in sound. Its even more mature than the previous track, and I can imagine a very classy and mature performance concept for ESPRESSO. The song contains some really good hooks that make it even better, such as ‘E.S.P.R.E.S.S.O That’s who I am’. (8.5/10)
9. REWIND (알고 싶지 않아) – TWICE tones down the music with the presence of REWIND, a R&B number. A very typically instrumented R&B track in my opinion, but the vocals are very soothing and gentle in REWIND. A nice relief after such energetic, upbeat and funky tracks. (8/10)
10. CACTUS (산인장) – CACTUS continues this subdued corner of the album. This time around, the song opts of a pop rock ballad. It sounds stunning. I really like the softer moments of the song, which align itself to more so the ballad style, while the chorus brings forth a rock influence to the ballad. The members sound amazing , with the harmonies being a strong aspect of CACTUS. (10/10)
11. PUSH & PULL (Sana, Jihyo, Dahyun) – Starting off the series of unit tracks is Sana, Jihyo and Dahyun with PUSH & PULL. It is also a return to the album’s funky and groovy roots. It is a neat track and is a great return to the upbeat side of the album. I like the rapping in this song, which made it dynamic and appealing. I also really like the defined percussion when it came to the pre-chorus, Definitely hyped up the song for me. (9/10)
12. HELLO (Nayeon, Momo, Chaeyoung) – Nayeon, Momo and Chaeyoung delves into hip-hop roots, which is a definite change in direction from the group’s usual work. While I am a strong advocate for changing up sounds once in a while, I am not entire sure of what to think about HELLO. The last two things that should go together is TWICE and hip-hop. I just feel like they are two extremes that so far apart. However, HELLO is decent track. It is also rap heavy, as you would expect with most hip-hop centric songs, but this one isn’t as good as compared to the previous song. (7/10)
13. 1,3,2 (Jeongyeon, Mina, Tzuyu) – The final unit track on the album is 1,3,2, which comes courtesy of Jeongyeon, Mina and Tzuyu. The song is a dance track with reggae influences and I feel this is a really good sound for not just the unit but possibly the rest of the group! Overall, 1,3,2 comes off a mature track, with strong and catchy melodies, neat vocals and very intriguing rapping. I think 1,3,2 is probably the strongest and most innovative unit track on this album. (9/10)
14. CANDY – CANDY is the final new offering from TWICE on this album (the songs that follow are songs we have previously heard from the group). It is a dreamy ballad, with a melody that felt very sweet, like the title of the song suggests. It also reminds me of the 90s R&B. The vocals are nice and I like the high falsettos/harmonies that CANDY had. It made everything sweeter! (8.5/10)
15/16. The Feels – I previously reviewed The Feels as part of the International Song Review segment. This album features a Korean version (only on the physical version) and the original version. Click here for my review for The Feels.(9/10)
17. Scientist (R3hab Remix) – Refer to my review for Scientist above.
And now I bounce back to the present day with a new song release. TWICE returns to the stage with their latest comeback today with the song SCIENTIST and the third studio album, Formula of Love: O+T=＜3. This is the group’s first comeback in five months, the last being Alcohol-Free. Since then, TWICE has been active in both Japan with the release of Perfect World and in the Western music scene, with their debut English single, The Feels (where at the end of the music video, they had teased this particular comeback).
Compared to the previous song I just reviewed, SCIENTIST seems to have the same issues but in the opposite places. For me, SCIENTIST‘s verses stand out. I really like the deeper tone the members had opted for with their vocals, complimenting the deeper and funky instrumentation. Even though it was brief, I also enjoyed the order in which the lines were presented to us (i.e. vocal, rap, vocal, rap) and how they flowed into one another. The pre-choruses were also quite promising and brought my hopes up for the chorus. Unfortunately, that hope didn’t come through. The chorus that we got in SCIENTIST ended up not carrying forth or building upon the elements and undertones from the verses. By no means in the chorus is terrible. It was just safe and doesn’t evoke much excitement as you would expect. Maybe SCIENTIST‘s chorus will grow on me into the future, but for now, it just felt lackluster. I also wished the English pronunciation was a bit clearer, as it felt a bit messy to me. Dahyun and Chaeyoung’s rapping part in the bridge was awesome. I actually liked the start to the final chorus with their staggered approach. It changed things up in a way that helped make the feel less repetitive and kept the song dynamic as much as it could be with a plain chorus. The dance instrumental outro we got was pretty cool as well, adding in a bit of that funky tone from earlier in the song. Overall, I would say that SCIENTIST is a good song from TWICE, even though the chorus could have been more fun and exciting.
As a bit of a science geek myself, I am pretty happy with the idea of the science concept. I liked how they tried to interlink the lyrics with the visuals as much as they can and kept it creative throughout (a big emphasis on ‘creative’ here). Their visuals were also very strong throughout the video (though I do question Dahyun’s standing hair – it looks really childish). The cutesy vibes and visuals in this music video seem to throw it back to their earlier videos (i.e. TT, Cheer Up etc.), which I thought was pretty nice given the string of mature comebacks from the group. Some of the video it was good, whereas some had some questionable/exaggerated acting which I don’t really get (or like), such as the crying in the crowd over a bit of dancing at the end of the video. It felt a bit too much. Other than that, I enjoyed the sets and the post-production.
The choreography here looks decent. While the video looked like it was cutesy and takes you back to their early days, the choreography opts for TWICE’s style nowadays (which is a bit more complicated/mature and doesn’t have that simple and repeated ‘main move’ as like their early comebacks). The best part for me has to be the dance outro we got at the very end. It was by the far the coolest part of the whole routine. I also liked how they represented the title of the album for this comeback in the second verse.
Song – 7.5/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.8/10
It is another edition of the International Song Reviews segment. Last week, I posted an ISR consisting reviews for Ten, Jackson Wang, WAYV, Yuqi and 2PM. This week, I will be focusing on another set of releases brought to you by TWICE, MONSTA X, Stray Kids and LOONA. I am keeping this post to just four tracks today, rather than the usual five, so I can focus on some other things today. As this post have a lot to cover, let’s get started!
The Feels – TWICE
I listened to this full English song when the music video dropped at the start of this month. I didn’t think much of it then (and honestly I never returned to it until today). But I have to say, the ‘Boy, I know you got the feels‘ repeated one-liner hook is so damn catchy. It somehow gotten stuck in my head since that first listen, even though it was very much delayed. Anyhow, The Feels is a funky pop track, and listening back I am surprised I didn’t return to the track sooner. It is a very vibrant and colourful track, suitable for my personal taste and TWICE’s overall discography. I really enjoyed the energy that comes from it. The members sound fantastic, and I just love the elongation of the word ‘feels’ in that hook. My only gripe about the song is Chaeyoung’s lines in the pre-chorus. They just didn’t feel like a perfect fit. I liked the music video, but it isn’t that special. The theme seems to be prom-queens, but it seems to be more than that with the red carpet and stage sets. Regardless of what the theme is, The Feels music video is fun and pleasant to watch. For the dance, I thought it was great. Again, nothing special with it. But it works wonderfully with the music. (8/10)
One Day – MONSTA X
A month prior to the above song’s release, MONSTA X released another all English track titled One Day. Since then, the group has been confirmed for a Korean and Western comeback in the next two months, so do expect to see more of MONSTA X on the blog. Now, back to the song in question. One Day is an atmospheric yet simple synth-heavy ballad that I quite enjoyed. One Day really does a good job of presenting stillness and comes off as soothing and calming. The instrumental also comes off as dreamy. For the vocals (which appears to be the song’s sore point for some), I thought MONSTA X did a really nice job. I did think they could have pushed themselves more to be even more expressive, but their delicate tone and emotional touch fits the bill perfect for the song’s meaning and overall sound. The melodies were stunning, as well, adding to this. Both the song and music video features Shownu, who recently enlisted into the military. It was definitely nice to see him one more time. Unfortunately, Hyungwon was missing from the group shots for this music video for unknown reasons. For the music video, I liked the simplicity of the video as well. I also liked the mature visuals that the members gave off. They look good and somehow the mature vibes fitted in with the idea of the song being a ballad for me. (8.6/10)
Scars – Stray Kids
Knowing fully what Stray Kids is capable of, Scars is quite underwhelming for me. Coming off the high of their recent Korean comeback, I would have liked to hear something with the same level of impact and energy. But Scars didn’t deliver this. It doesn’t mean that Scars is a bad song, however. But it is definitely not their best. Scars was a pleasant EDM track – nothing more, nothing less. The members opted for a sentimental tones that sounds nice. But once again, nothing more, nothing less. Vocally, the sentimental tone came naturally and actually sounded quite good. Rapping wise, I thought it was plain. The EDM sound that Scars opted for attempted to add impact, but it more so fizzled out once that impact is delivered. Hence, everything came together to contribute towards an underwhelming and not-so-memorable track. For the music video, it seems like the members are running away (well, more so slowly walking) from ghostly apparitions. They seek shelter in a caravan and kick start a device that repels the ghosts during the night. Then, the story kind of repeats itself and doesn’t really resolve. I hope there is a second part to this, as I think it could potentially be an interesting story to dive into. The choreography for this comeback was quite good, fitting in with the sentimental and mature tones of the song. It doesn’t hit hard, but there was some intensity in the choreography that was quite satisfying to watch as well. (7/10)
HULA HOOP – LOONA
I was quite nervous to hear that LOONA’s company is in the financial red, which puts a massive question mark over the group’s future. But seeing LOONA still pumping out music is a bit of a reassuring sign. Mid-September saw the group release their first original Japanese single, HULA HOOP. It is a dance pop track that is very chirpy and energetic. Actually, in comparison to their debut track which I would say is the equilavent of this track (Hi High, if you are wondering), HULA HOOP seems to let its go a bit. Nothing wrong there, if I am being honest, but I do miss the certain aesthetic that we associate with the group when it comes to their tracks. I liked their vocals and the hooks throughout HULA HOOP quite a bit. They are fun and definitely cutesy. This isn’t usually my cup of tea, but as I always say, there are exceptions. The music video is very unique, with everything moving in an upward direction. I will give them points for that. But I also feel that the video overwhelms us with all the post production applications. It made everything feel a bit much. In the midst of all the overwhelming graphics, you can see a lot of throwbacks to the group’s previous releases through the images, outfits and props (including some of their pre-debut works). No surprises come in the choreography. I enjoyed the fun and energetic side of the song, and the synchronisation between the members makes the performance cooler (as always). (8.2/10)
Next up on the album reviewing block is TWICE’s Taste of Love, the group’s 10th mini-album since debut. This album release features the title track Alcohol-Free, both of which released mid-June of this year. The physical version of the mini-album also features the English version of Cry For Me, a single which TWICE had released at the end of last year and performed for the first time at the 2020 MAMA Awards. I have opted to leave out Cry For Me from this review as I only have access to the digital version. But aside from that, the album still offers 5 new tracks for us to review. And given that this is a Summer release, there are high expectations based on their past Summer releases. So without anymore delays, here is the review for TWICE’s Taste of Love.
2. First Time – I liked how spacious the pop instrumental was and how it wasn’t hefty, despite it still being a substantial piece of music. What I am a bit torn about are the vocals. I really liked the idea of a falsetto delivery for the chorus. I am no vocalist, but it sounds well executed for the most part. But when it came to the ad-libs towards the end of the song, it felt like it was a bit too much falsetto work. While I felt First Time was balanced thanks to the deeper toned members who kept the song grounded, the addition of ad-libs that went further than the falsettos threw the song off balance for me. This is might just be me nitpicking once again, but that was my genuine thoughts on the song. Overall, First Time was decent, but could have been refined more to be even better. (8/10)
3. Scandal – For me, Scandal was the summer track that I didn’t know I needed. I love the boldness of the song, which was alluring and fun. The song starts off with the whispered line ‘Baby we are a scandal. Too hot to handle’, which pretty much sets the tone and theme of the lyrics of the song. It is repeated throughout the song and this repetition no doubts make it the song’s addictive hook. The synth-pop instrumentation with the added bass and the keyboard is so groovy and funky. I also feel that the keyboard sequence was familiar, but I cannot pinpoint where from. My only complaint is Dahyun’s repeat of the line just prior to the final chorus was so hush hush, it was barely audible. But only a minor complaint that barely makes a dent on the song’s appeal. (10/10)
4. Conversation – The funkiness continues on in Conversation. It isn’t as apparent at first, but the chorus definitely concentrates the funkiness into something you can definitely feel. Unfortunately, I don’t hear much else in Conversation to be that appealing other than that funkiness. The melodies were not as profound like the instrumentation or the other songs on the album. And I thought their vocal work was pretty standard. (6/10)
5. Baby Blue Love – Once again, Baby Blue Love continues the groovy theme of this mini-album. But Baby Blue Love features of a disco influence, which is a different form of the energy we got in the previous songs. I like how the album isn’t necessarily putting out the same style and keeping the tracks on the album fresh and unique to one another. Anyhow, back to Baby Blue Love. I feel the vocal work is nailed really well here. It isn’t complicated nor does it add extra technique that feels risky. Simple seems to be what TWICE thrives on. The song also had some good hooks that made it a catchy number to enjoy. I would have liked to hear more rapping and for the song to change it up towards the end to keep it from getting repetitive. (8/10)
6. SOS – Ending the album is SOS. It reminds me of pop queen diva styled synth tracks, like the ones put out by Madonna or Kylie Minogue. It has that elegance and hint of sensuality that TWICE has touched on before in the past. Unfortunately, I do think SOS is less dynamic and energetic as per the previous side tracks. It lacks that drive forward and feels somewhat stagnant. The vocals and rapping was substantial and a fair effort from the group. (7/10)
It has been a bit of a break since the last International Song Review post. So today, I will return with five additional reviews for the non-Korean music released more recently around the world by some of our favourite Korean artists. On this post’s lineup, we have TWICE, ATEEZ, SHINee and Rocket Punch with their latest Japanese releases, and Jackson Wang (one seventh of GOT7) with his not-so-recent new English single. So without further ado, here are the reviews!
Perfect World – TWICE
For those who follow my blog, you may recognize that this isn’t the first time that TWICE’s Perfect World is being featured on it. For a number of weeks, Perfect World has been my pick for the Non-Korean KPOP release of the week corner of my Weekly KPOP Charts posts since its music video was released at the end of June 2021. What really draws my attention to Perfect World is the Latin influence that is featured in the song. While I do find the Latin trend to be overused in KPOP, I found its use in this song is be pretty dynamic and refreshing. I attribute this to the combinational use of rock and brass in the song. I also like the theatrical nature of the ‘Get out, Get lost‘ section of the chorus, which adds depth and punch to the song. it also helps that particular sequence was super catchy and I cannot get it out of my head. Perfect World itself also shows off an additional mature side of the group that is a lot darker and fiercer that usual. For the music video, I really liked the two sides of styling in this music video. One shows off an alluring side of the group, with the members donning sophisticated and stylish outfits that distracts the males in the population, causing havoc around them. The other takes on that fiercer look, almost militaristic. I liked the concept, but pretty much thought the video went a bit crazy (in terms of plotline) when the car crashed into the theatre. I did like how the stage came crashing down behind them. Just thought the idea of audience going crazy a bit over the top. For the choreography, I really liked where they were going with it. I liked how they showed off their mature side in this performance, with the ‘Get Out. Get Lost‘ sequence being my favourite. I also think the Latin influenced instrumental break was another great moment, though I wished there was more of that Latin influence in the choreography. (8.5/10)
Dreamers – ATEEZ
ATEEZ released their first original Japanese single, titled Dreamers, at the end of July. It also doubles up as one of the ending themes for the recently rebooted Digimon series (now that is one throwback to my childhood). Dreamers is probably ATEEZ’s most melodic release to date, opting for a tropical pop vibe that definitely reminds you of Summer. If you had expected something intense like their Korean title tracks, then prepare to be disappointed. That being said, I am all for spotlighting unexplored territory for groups. And Dreamers does just that, showcasing a more delicate and light side of the group. The song focuses more on melodies, allowing the vocal line of the group to flourish. The ‘Oo La La La’ part is such a catchy hook. However, the rappers are given equal opportunities to bring some of their inherent intensity to the song through their rap sequences. I am glad they did, as they kept the song going for me and gave us brief breaks from the melody. Otherwise, I fear that Dreamers would have been overly repetitive and evolved to be a boring song just simply by reaching the end of the song, if not multiple listens to the song. As for the music video, it was a pretty simple one with the members outside in the forest and along the beach. It was pleasant and Summery, matching the tone of their new song. I also liked how breezy the video was, highlighting the refreshing side of the song as well. (8/10)
SUPERSTAR – SHINee
SHINee’s return to their group’s music career isn’t complete without the return to the Japanese market, which they have been active in since 2011. Earlier this year, the group returned with Don’t Call Me and Atlantis in Korea. And before Taemin enlisted into the military, the group returned with their first ever Japanese mini-album which shares the same name as the title track. SUPERSTAR, while is another pleasant track, it also rather forgettable for the most part. However, that doesn’t mean that SHINee didn’t do a good job. Their vocals and rapping were all pretty good and showed solid effort. The funky instrumentation was a good element, which helped give the song that aforementioned pleasant vibe. I also liked incorporation of brass and when the members sang together. I feel that SUPERSTAR could have been better with stronger hooks and melodies. But overall, still a decent song. For the music video, it begins with the members at a press conference and in front of the cameras. But the rest of the video shows the more homey life of the group. Not too bad of a concept. I did like the cool transition in the video into the SuperStar Revolution arcade game. The best aspect of this release for me is the choreography. It is simple but definitely works extremely well with the pleasant feel of the song. I also liked the chemistry they brought to the performance, interacting with one another and keeping the choreography light and carefree, rather than a strict and precise routine. It made everything enjoyable and definitely showcases their bond after 13 years. (7.6/10)
LMLY – Jackson Wang
I feel that Jackson Wang is a recurring artist on this segment, as he continually pumping out songs in English and Chinese (and I already I put him down for the next post as well for a more recent release). But I am not complaining and I am sure that IGOT7 and AGHASEs are enjoying the continuous release of songs from Jackson. LMLY (Leave Me Loving You) was a single released way back in March (sorry for the delay with this review). It was a surprising listen. After songs like 100 Ways,Pretty Please and his more recent ventures into balladry, I didn’t expect Jackson to return with a synth-pop song (though I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest). But guess what? I have been loving it! I really like the light nature of the instrumentation in the song and the retro touch is has. It contrasts really nicely with Jackson’s husky vocals which are on full display throughout the song. I also like how you can hear that tinge of heartbreak behind his voice, fitting for the lyrics and the concept of the video. To me, LMLY and the rest of Jackson’s discography that I have reviewed so far has shown me that Jackson is capable of anything. Excited to hear what he releases next and what direction he will go with in his upcoming Korean release that he has been talking about. For the video, I just love the control that Jackson has over what he releases, ever since he left JYP Entertainment. He continues bringing in that 90s Hong Kong movie style and atmosphere. For LMLY, he is a dishwasher who falls in love with a customer. Throughout the video, we see him make moves towards the customer, but it all turns out that it is in his head and not real life. The bummer twist is that she goes off to marry another guy (who looks like he didn’t want to be in a relationship with her, but I guess that might just be Jackson’s imagination as well), leaving Jackson heartbroken and sad by the time the video wraps up. (9.4/10)
Bubble Up! – Rocket Punch
This is Rocket Punch’s first time on this segment, thanks to the release of Bubble Up!, which is the group’s Japanese debut single. I was a bit reluctant to put the group up for review in this segment, given that their releases (with the exception of Ring Ring) have been misses or long forgotten for me. But I am always willing to give groups another chance and I am glad that I did for Bubble Up!. It may not be the best song out there and it isn’t a song that I would usually listen to at all. But Bubble Up! definitely has its merits. First and foremost, it is enjoyable and pleasant. It is another cutesy song, fitting neatly into the group’s discography thus far. But it isn’t over to the top sweet or cutesy, which I appreciate. Secondly, I liked how dynamic the instrumentation was. The various effects and synths all came together nicely to create a cohesive piece. With the exception of the slow down in the first verse, I am practically fine with the song. That slow down felt a bit random and was unnecessary. I am glad the second verse didn’t have anything similar. Thirdly, the vocals were quite consistency, and did a good job of making the song catchy and enjoyable. The build to the high note was commendable. I thought the rapping was good, but there wasn’t any substantial part though. Overall, a bubbly and appreciable release (quite a change from the usual criticism I give the group). For the music video, I thought the bright and pastel colours were well used. Definitely fitting that cutesy profile of both group and song. I do question the plummeting of plastic balls and earthquakes throughout the video though. Not what I think of when considering what bubbles are. For the choreography, I thought it was fine and matching with the song. (7.3/10)
Two days ago, one of Korea’s leading female groups made their comeback! The group in question is TWICE, who has returned for the first time in Korea since the release of I Can’t Stop Me in October of last year. They also released the single Cry For Me at the start of the year (but I haven’t reviewed this track as there is no accompanying music video). The group also recently released the Japanese single Kura Kura (which I have reviewed). The comeback this time is lead by the title track Alcohol-Free, which was released as a pre-release single ahead of their tenth mini-album, Taste of Love, which officially dropped earlier today.
Even before listening to the song, I have my reservations about the new song. Alcohol-Free is an awkward title for a song, and I feel this is because of the common perceptions of the term ‘Alcohol-Free’. To label something as ‘Alcohol-Free’ is a bit of a kill joy. (But those drinks do have their benefits in society). True to the common perception of the term, I find the song to be equally lackluster as those drinks. TWICE usually have these bold pop tracks that are super catchy and are quite memorable. But Alcohol-Free opts for a chilled track that delves into hip-hop and bossa nova genres. I acknowledge their attempt to change style and sound, but I don’t think this TWICE material. Well, their usual material, to be more exact now. Alcohol-Free, as whole, feels like an extension of elevator music, plain and boring. I did like the use of bossa nova to add that Summery feel. I particularly like the bossa nova element that started up the second verse, adding a bit of a fun vibe to the song. But I also found the song feel like it was stuck in a neutral gear from start to end, never building to anything substantial. I think that is the elevator music side of the song speaking, quite profoundly. But when you listen to the song more closely, you do hear some promising elements. The melody was pleasant to listen to. It did lack memorability and catchy hooks, as you usually would associate with TWICE’s music. But it was still likeable. Similar comments can be applied to the vocal work. I do, however, find their vocals fizzle out as they approach the end of each line, which isn’t really the best effect. The rapping in the bridge was a bit more promising, adding some oomph to the song. But it wasn’t enough to be the saviour element to boost the song to anywhere near the top of my personal list of TWICE’s best title track. But like the rapping, it wasn’t substantial enough to make an impact on my perceptions of the song as a whole piece. Overall, Alcohol-Free isn’t my cup of tea.
To fit the Summery vibes of the song, I felt the music video was appropriate for the music. Shot on the waterfront by the beach is pretty fitting (though I assume the waterfront was a set, and the beach imagery was applied post production). But nonetheless, it all made sense. I also really like other set, the one with the platform, massive cocktail glass and lighting that brings a silver tone to the set, which gave off a modern feel. I also guess, fitting for the title of the song, there are a lot of drinks throughout the video, which I presume to be alcohol free. The term alcohol-free in this song is actually used to describe their drunk feeling towards falling in love. They aren’t drunk from drinking, but rather the feeling of love. And I feel that the members show that well using facial expression throughout the video. They don’t look drunk, but rather blissful and happy at that feeling they are describing in the song.
For me, I felt the performance was quite refreshing, once again suiting the Summery vibes of the song. It also suited the mature direction in which the group had opted for in their more recent comebacks. I do think the performance could have been more energetic, but that is more of a song issue than a choreography issue. I do like their side-ways movements in the second verse, with that being the most memorable part of the choreography for me.
Song – 6/10 Music Video – 8/10 Performance – 7/10 Overall Rating – 6.8/10
It is time to look at another five songs from outside of Korea by some of our favourite Korean artists. Last time (way back in February), we looked at songs from Jackson Wang & JJ Lin, The Boyz, AB6IX & Why Don’t We, Jun.K and WAYV. Today, we will be having a look at SEVENTEEN, TWICE and CIX’s latest Japanese releases. Alongside those three songs, we will also be looking at BTS’s Japanese single Film Out and their highly anticipated Butter release, which officially dropped on Friday. A lot of get through, so let’s get going!
Not Alone – SEVENTEEN
The other day, I was reading comments for SEVENTEEN’s latest Japanese release, Not Alone, that said something along the lines of “SEVENTEEN’s Japanese releases are quite aesthetic sounding”. This is a statement that I agree for the most part and is quite evident through the release of Not Alone. The song has this atmospheric style instrumental that was very calming and soothing to listen to. To aid this, SEVENTEEN strays aways from harsh synths, piercing effects, heavy beats or vibrant colours in the song. Instead, SEVENTEEN opts for a graceful sounding instrumentation that floats about. There are still synths in this song (enabling the song to still include soft yet delicate sounding dance breaks following each chorus), but they give Not Alone a melodic push and hence that aesthetic vibe that I quoted from above. This allows the members to showcase their vocals in a more touching and delicate manner, which is slightly different to the usual style in which we hear from the members. Even the rappers get into this mindset with softer deliveries. We favourite part is Hoshi’s lines in the bridge. They stick out for me and sound so smooth. There is also this inspirational and uplifting tone to the song that comes through via the members. Overall, a really nice and touching song form the members. The music video for Not Alone is quite fitting for the past year, in which we all spent seeing our family and friends through laptop, computer or phone screens. We see the members do the exact same at the start of the video. They were alone and then joined one another to celebrate DK’s birthday. The second half of the video see the members regroup to hang out and have some fun. While this isn’t a reality yet for some of us, the hopeful tone of the song really gives us hope that is the future that we will be returning to soon. Fitting to the song and MV suggested, the choreography for this comeback is a lot softer and delicate. It is actually nice to see something different from SEVENTEEN that isn’t so energetic and upbeat as their choreographies usually are. The lifts they incorporated into the performance added a nice touch that emphasised this. (9.4/10)
Kura Kura – TWICE
While TWICE is gearing up for Korean promotions next month, the very popular female group made their Japanese comeback last month with Kura Kura. Kura Kura starts off with epic percussion in the background, which gives the pop song a unique and memorable colour, and really promises great things to come. Soon, the song reverts to a more typical pop setup. It was nice and pleasantly upbeat, but it was not as amazing as the epic percussion that started the song off had promised. And this disappointed me slightly. I wished the melodies and hooks in this ‘between’ part were more memorable and impressive enough to continue that initial impression. The epic percussion does make a return two more times in the song (i.e. before the bridge and at the end of the song to close it off). I did like the vocals work, which again can be describe as pleasant and sweet. I did like how they didn’t change their vocals as much when it came to the Kura Kura‘s bolder and more memorable moments, finding a balance between their pleasant and sweet profile to the instrumental’s more grand nature. For the music video, I am not entirely sure what they are trying to depict. There seems to be a mixture of really happy scenes in the video (i.e. when the nine members catch up) and a mixture of loneliness and sadness (i.e. their solo scenes which seem to show this). But I might be reading to it wrong, as the lyrics of the song don’t really give off that impression. But it was still a visually appealing video to watch. I really like the emphasis on the colour blue in the choreography scenes, which gave a nice artistic and calming appeal to the video. I really liked the choreography for this comeback. I enjoyed the imagery of the flower at the start, which was fitting for the music video which had a heavy emphasis on floral decorations. I also enjoyed the choreography for the chorus, which had a definite tinge of matureness to it, despite all the members having really big smiles – which both felt fitting for the image they are now pushing for themselves and the song’s upbeatness. (7.2/10)
All For You – CIX
Like their earlier Korean release this year, CIX’s latest Japanese release also takes a step away from EDM and their serious tone that they had adopted when they first started out. All For You is another pleasant listen that looks to replicate the easy on the ears nature that Cinema succeeded in achieving. And while CIX has done just that, I can’t help but have to point out that other parts of the song is lacking. Aside from the funky instrumental which I think is the song’s main highlight, All For You lacks memorability. This includes hooks, melodies, vocals and rapping. All of these contribute to the song’s undeniabley pleasant and easy going nature, but none hits it hard. I am not seeking any hard drops or intensity that is reminiscent of their earlier works, but rather I wanted to hear elements that had a stronger backing or substance to them. For the music video, All For You was colourful, fun and enjoyable. I liked the carefree nature the members brought to the music video, which was fitting for the overall style. It also shows a different side of the members. I did find the opening few seconds a bit cringy, but it definitely wasn’t the cringiest thing out there in the Korean/Japanese music scene. For the choreography, I liked how they fully embraced the groovy and funky notes of the song in their routine. As a result, the entire performance feels ‘just right’. That being said, All For You‘s choreography still contains their signature sharpness to it. In addition to that, there is also this light atmosphere to the routine, which also works well with the music. (7.4/10)
Film Out – BTS
The first of the BTS releases in this post is Film Out, a single off BTS’s upcoming Japanese compliation album. The single itself was released back at the start of April. so apologies for the long delay. Film Out taps BTS back into the ballad genre, with a (once again) pleasant ballad that is a bit generic for my liking. Film Out has this rich and sentimental tone to it. It would also side nice as a side track that I would tune into if I had a craving for the album. But in comparison to their more well known ballads (such as Butterfly), Film Out falls short of hitting the mark (for me, at least). I think it is mainly because the vocal processing that their voices were put through and hence they don’t sound as pure like in those past ballads had sounded. That being said, Film Out did have its moments. I really liked the beat when the rappers were brought into play. I also liked it when the vocalists were brought in to back each other up. The subtle rock and (more obvious) orchestral influences were also quite nice and added some additional heft alongside the vocals to prevent the song from falling into more into that generic ballad trap that Stay Gold fell into. You always feel like you are watching a cinematic release when it comes to BTS’ music videos and Film Out is no exception. While I have no clue on what is going on in this video (my best guess is that the video is about the members’ reflecting upon past memories that once brought them joy, but now brings them pain – represented by the explosion), I must acknowledge that the music video for Film Out brings out the emotional factor to a whole new level. On top of that, the cinematography was exceptional. (7.8/10)
Butter – BTS
BTS’ most recent release, Butter, dropped on Friday. And since it is the biggest release in the global music industry from this week, and with its strong ties to the KPOP industry, I had to take some time out of my own personal break to have a listen and review it for you all. First impression, I liked it. I wasn’t keen on how it started off at first, but once the groovy and funky instrumentation kicks into gear (plus the pre-chorus melodies presented itself), Butter instantly threw all of its catchy and dynamic energy right at me. Before I knew it, I was nodding along to the music! The chorus is quite addictive, thanks to the melodies in the section. I really like the breakdown, which really concentrated the song’s grooviness into a simple yet ear-catching synth. Vocally, I think Butter really shows off what we know BTS is capable of. The vocalists all gave us solid vocals (and I am super happy that Jin recieved more lines in this song, compared to his limited lines in Dynamite. Hopefully, the remixes that follow this release keeps that trend up!), while the rappers packed a punch when they came into play towards the end of the song. I think Butter is a logical step up/forward from Dynamite and definitely has me reaching for my mouse to press replay! For the music video, I really liked how classy it looked. At the start, the sleekness that BTS’ visuals brought to the video with the black and white filter. When the colour comes into play, all of this fun energy infused into the video, making this a fantastic watch. In addition to the classiness brought to us via their suits, I really liked the colourful and casual trackies they wore in subsequent parts of the video. I also liked how each member that their moment to shine with their dance moves on the elevator and how they brought their individual colours to the video throughout all their solo shots. But visually, the best part of the music video has to be that epic stage they perform on with the lights coming through from underneath. For the choreography, I really liked how BTS kept the energy and momentum going with their moves. I like how fitting the routine is with the title, as the chorus actually looks like smooth (i.e. like butter). We won’t be able to see a full choreography until the Billboard Music Awards tomorrow, but it definitely looks like BTS’s live performance will be amazing without a doubt. (9.5/10)
BTS’ Dynamite was voted by you to be the Best International Song By a Korean Artist. All songs from this review moving forward, including the songs in this review, will be eligble for the 2021 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. Check them out and remember to vote for your favourite at the end of the year. In the meanwhile, check out the winners for the 2020 KPOPREVIEWED Awards.
Welcome to the first International Song Review post of 2021. KPOP artists aren’t just focused on the Korean pop music industry. They have embarked on multiple other music video industries include the Japanese, Chinese and Western music industries. As they are released by Korean artists, I feel the obligation to review them like any other song released by the artists in Korea. But as they are not from the primary industry (i.e. KPOP), I decided to lump the reviews into one post. This allows me to focus on the primary review of Korean songs, but also allow me to ‘keep up’ with the releases outside of Korea. In this post, I will be focusing on songs released in the Western and Japanese music industries by Korean artists in late November 2020 and January 2021. I would recommend you check them all out. They include Chungha, Baekhyun, Dream Catcher, Jung Daehyun and TWICE.
Dream of You – Chungha (with R3HAB)
Dream of You is actually a Korean song released all in English. To give you some context, Dream of You is a pre-release single for her now-released first studio album that dropped earlier in the week. We all first heard the song at the end of November 2020 and it became part of the buildup towards Chungha’s grand return to the domestic market. What really stands out with Dream of You is the funky thumping instrumentation (which felt quite classy and dynamic all at the same time). The electronic nature of the instrumentation just makes it groovier. It is quite simple in hindsight, but it feels quite loaded when you consider the song as a whole. Chungha shows off her vocal flair throughout the song, delivering the song’s mature lyrics in a very complimenting manner. If Dream of You needed to prove its potential for Chungha to flourish in the Western market, then it did its job well. The music video released in conjunction back in November 2020 is actually a performance video. It showcases Chungha and her male dancers performing the song with an uber sensual choreography. There is a modern femme fatale vibe that comes from it, which I really enjoyed. It also felt like an extension of her Stay Tonight music video that was released earlier in 2020. I really the scenes where she performance in a suit and a hat. It just made the performance more impactful and interesting to watch. This release as a whole proves to me that Chungha is a performer that any industry should be afraid of. (10/10)
Get You Alone – Baekhyun (EXO)
It seems like the ongoing funky trend is spreading to other industries as well. Get You Alone is Baekhyun’s Japanese solo debut title track and it was first unveiled on the 3rd of January 2021 at his solo concert. The song has this casual upbeat vibe which makes it quite a pleasant listen. It isn’t really the most exciting song out there. But it manages to show off Baekhyun’s vocals quite nicely, emphasising the smoothness of his vocals and its husky profile. His ad-libs throughout Get You Alone and especially during the bridge is definitely the song’s icing on the cake. The music video shows a nerdy version of Baekhyun wanting to ask out someone he is interested in. But that person cruelly rejects him. He turns to the help of a more confident and experienced version of Baekhyun (the talk show host), who tells him what to do to be successful in the dating department (i.e. setting the mood, teaching him about manners and to make sure he smells nice – which resulted in a classy wardrobe change). I wished we got to see whether the changes and work put in paid off. It would have completed the story in a fulfilling manner. I liked the sets of the video. There isn’t anything special about them, but they managed to emphasis the funky tones of the song. The choreography shown throughout the music video was quite good and paired well with the song. (8/10)
No More – Dream Catcher
We all know Dream Catcher for their infusion of rock influences in their title tracks, regardless of the music industry they are releasing it in. What makes it even better is that Dream Catcher almost always puts a fresh spin on it. They found a niche in the KPOP industry and have managed to continued marketing towards that niche without tiring out listeners. But I don’t think we have ever heard anything with high intensity as No More. Released at the end of November 2020, No More literally charges at you with its relentless energy. It quite thrilling and powerful, all rolled into three minute long song. I really like how Dami’s rap cuts through the intensity by having the rock instrumentation stripped away into an almost trap-electronic piece. It does feel fitting for the song as a whole and brings some mid-song relief. The music video for No More doesn’t actually the members. I am assuming the anime characters that we do see are anime version of the members, though I haven’t found any information on who they are. The music video also doubles up as a lyrics video, showing the lyrics of the song of the song. I also like the transitions of the video. They do feel erratic, but most importantly, they matching the intensity of the song. As the video doesn’t feature the members and the anime character are simply images, there is not associated choreography with this comeback. (8.6/10)
Amazing – Jung Daehyun
Jung Daehyun, a member of the now inactive B.A.P, made his solo comeback in Korea with his first Japanese single back in November 2020. The new song is titled Amazing and it was officially released at the end of November 2020. But the music video was released for a month prior to the official song release. It is definitely nice to hear his voice once again, especially since this is the first song I have heard from him since the release of Aight at the end of 2019. His voice does flourish in the song and the melodies are quite enjoyable. Amazing also shines in the instrumental department. Sure, there isn’t anything special about it. But like the vocals and melodies, it was quite enjoyable and acted as a decent backdrop for the solo act’s vocals. It was noticeably dominated by repetitive taps on the keyboard and there was also some brass thrown into the song to give the chorus some additional colour. The music video was quite simple at the start, but it stilled managed to look classy thanks to the outfits worn by Jung Daehyun and the dancers. The video also showcased the visuals of Jung Daehyun quite well. About half way through the video, we see Jung Daehyun and the dancers perform under rain and in a water pool. While this is something we now see often in KPOP, it made the video more visually interesting. I personally felt the red light could have been omitted, but that is the only critical comment I can make for this video. The choreography looks nice. I wished more people would view the video to watch Jung Daehyun in action and listen to the song, as this comeback is very underrated. (8.2/10)
Better – TWICE
The final song in this post is TWICE’s Better. It was released back in mid-November. If you are looking for a fulfilling pop dose from this list, Better is the song for you. While some of the other songs above are within the pop realm, none of them match Better‘s colourful energy. It is the type of song that will make you smile and get up to dance to. The song’s best part has to be the descending melody that features as the song’s pre-chorus. It is definitely quite memorable and it makes the chorus just pop out so much more. The chorus comes out as a close second, with Jihyo’s ‘Better‘ really sticking in my mind. The rapping by Chaeyoung and Dahyun has a really nice kick to it, elevating Better to a much better level. While I don’t mention the rest of the members, they all sound really amazing throughout this new song. When it comes to the music video for Better, I applaud the stylist of the video who chose their outfits. The colours were quite dull and wouldn’t necessarily be considered fashionable at first glance. But the outfit colours worked in really close harmony to the rest of the music video, making the members stand out in the video. There is still a burst of other colours throughout the video using dominance, which compliments the pop vibes of the song. I also like the casualness of the video, portrayed through the member’s outfits and the uncomplicated nature of the sets. For the choreography, I like the bouncy energy they bring forth. The bridge looks complicated, but aesthetic. (9/10)
There are still so many October albums that I am trying to get through and I need to make a start with the November albums (which I will do tomorrow). Today, I will be covering TWICE’s most recent release in Korea, Eyes Wide Open. The group’s second studio album was released back at the end of October and features the title track, I Can’t Stop Me. Alongside this track, TWICE keeps listeners busy with another 12 tracks. As we are talking about a 13 track album, you can already tell it is going to be a long one. So accept my apologies on how late this album review is and let’s just get stuck into it.
2. Hell in Heaven – Right after the title track comes TWICE most aesthetic single to date. It did definitely a bold statement to give the song, but I really do think Hell in Heaven earns the title. The song has this tropical profile that feels almost exotic and jungle-like. The vocal work in this is superb. There were some that were super good. I really liked the almost hushed approach vocals at the start of the chorus (by Jihyo, Mina and Tzuyu for each of the choruses respectively), complimenting the instrumental beat drop delay. I also like the breathy approach some of the other members took. Honestly, a really strong follow-up to the title track. (10/10)
3. Up No More – Up No More has the instrumental of a standard female group KPOP song. There is a hint of retro in it, which was the only thing worth mentioning. Other than that, I didn’t find anything special in the instrumental. What TWICE does extremely well with the song is infuse more of that retro feel through their vocals. I also really liked the fast melodic hook to the song, which has grown exponentially since the album releases. There is something about its fast delivery that feels groovy and catchy. The rapping was quite nice, but on the typical side of the spectrum. (7.5/10)
4. Do What We Like – Mina opening Do What We Like was an excellent move. She doesn’t get a lot of the credit when it comes vocals in the title tracks, so I felt like she had her moment to shine at the very start of this song. Apart from that, Do What We Like takes me back to Western electronic music from the last decade, partly thanks to the pop keyboard and those violin synths. The melodies were very sleek and I really liked the hooks, even though they were not as catchy as I wished they were. Do What We Like sounds wholesome and nostalgic, overall. (9.5/10)
5. Bring It Back– When you think about how TWICE started with their cutesy sound, I don’t think anyone would ever expect Bring It Back to fit in with their discography. It honestly took me a few listens to actually feel comfortable with this song. Bring It Back’s chorus had a deep and heavy tone, opting for trap-based EDM. It was slightly unsettling, given the song’s verses were more paced, airier and lighter in tone. But after these few listens, the song works out well. I liked the kick of upbeat energy that the first half of the bridge brings. It was a nice changeup to the slow pace of the verses. The second half of the bridge, just before the song brings back the trap EDM, was not that great, as it didn’t feel like it blended well with the members’ higher tone voices. (9/10)
6. Believer – After such a heavy song, Believer doesn’t come in to one-up the preceding song. Believer has good energy, but it doesn’t have the zing necessary to really continue the momentum. It starts off as a R&B number, before settling for something a little more upbeat pop sound. I wished they did something more with the instrumentals to give it that memorable factor. Instead, it just felt safe. The vocals was good, with the main and lead vocals standing out the most. Dahyun’s whispering rap was good, but it would have been nice if the producers extended the rapping sequence with a punchier approach following the whispering style. Finally, the song’s ending made it feel incomplete. All of these factors leave the song as one of the weakest on the album. (7/10)
7. Queen – There are a number of elements of Queen that makes it stand out. The first is the bouncy electronic introductory sequence that kicked off the song. The second is the ‘ba-ba-da-ba’ that also opened the song alongside Mina’s English line. (On a side note, I felt the way the producers built this song up felt very typical and failed to capitalize on the uniqueness of the opening electronic sequence). The third has to be the ‘Just a Show’ line that kicks off the chorus (which was keyed into my memory). The fourth is the funky energy we get in the chorus. Everything else just felt typical to me. (8.5/10)
8. Go Hard – While I do feel that Go Hard goes in all the right directions, the one thing it fails to really do is … well … go hard. This song really needs more bass, which would have brought a whole new level of dynamism and depth to the song. But other than that Go Hard gets all the ticks. There is intensity during the chorus that feels appropriate for a song titled ‘Go Hard’. The deep voices that repeats the ‘We just go hard’ line definitely works extremely well. I also liked that some of the members had a bit of a raspier tone for this song, which again works extremely well. The only other complaint is that the elephant-like trumpet samples should have been replaced with a different type of brass – one that doesn’t sound like the animal. (8/10)
9. Shot Clock – Shot Clock thrives on the consistent marching-band style instrumental. It definitely delivered energy and intensity to the song, especially when it came to the final chorus. First impression to the song was the vocal work was really good. But the more I listen to Shot Clock, the more that feeling some reason rubs off. This is a flaw of being too consistent, making everything feel the same all throughout. I was glad when the trap-centric rap sequence, as it cut the consistency and made the song more interesting. Wished they changed up the vocal style early on. (8.5/10)
10. Handle It– Handle It starts off with an R&B sound. I was drawn to it, thanks to the soft thumping of the drum that is pretty much there throughout the song. The chorus was a surprising change, moving the R&B feel to a jazzier sound (though in hindsight, I should have heard it coming as there was a slight jazzy influence in the verse). There was a bit more oomph to it, otherwise I would say the song would be suitable as hotel lobby music. But the oomph makes it more fitting for a modern jazz bar. I want to say there was good vocals in the song, which was the case for the verses. But I felt their approach to the chorus was a bit much, in combination with the instrumental elements of the chorus. (8/10)
11. Depend on You – You know how I tend to make the joke that ballads are mandatory on KPOP albums? Well, Eyes Wide Open doesn’t have a ballad. I know, how shocking! Depend on You is probably the closest song on the tracklist to a ballad. I really like the acoustic feels of the instrumental, and their soft vocals. The chorus is a simple beat drop, infusing some EDM into the song. It is also detailed with autotuned ad-libs. Together, all of the song felt like you listening on a cloud. Definitely a pleasant listen. (9/10)
12. Say Something – Getting me right at the start is the funky and retro vibes of the song, throwing us back to the 70s. There is also a blend of jazz mixed into the song, which made the song more interesting for me. Aside from the instrumental, TWICE really shows off their vocals in this song. To me, it is their best vocal work throughout the entire album. I just really liked how they sounded in the song and how balanced it felt with the instrumental. Neither masked the other and both complimented each other. Interestingly, the best part of the song is the ending with the saxophone solo and the fade it. It just made the Say Something perfect. (10/10)
13. Behind the Mask – Behind The Mask was an excellent song to end off the group’s second album. The trap/pop combination of the instrumental was quite an atmospheric experience, with the song feeling neither light or intense. What I really enjoyed about the song were their vocals. They sound melancholy and very chilling all at the same time over the trap/pop blend. The bridge was a really strong stillness moment and the launch back into the final chorus was spectacular. A strong song to end the album on. (10/10)
One of the groups kickstarting the final week of October is TWICE, with their highly anticipating comeback, I Can’t Stop Me (the title track) and Eyes Wide Open (the title of their second studio album). It follows on from their More & More comeback from earlier in the year. While this is great news for ONCEs, unfortunately promotions for their new song and album will not feature Jeongyeon (my favourite member of the group) for health reasons. Hopefully we will see her soon! But in the meanwhile, here is my review for I Can’t Stop Me.
I might be in the minority when I say this about I Can’t Stop Me, but I don’t see anything special with this track. For me, TWICE is renowned for their really catchy hooks in their song and these hooks usually employ a vibrant kick in the instrumentation and/or some really addictive repetition. I Can’t Stop Me doesn’t have any of that and hence it just feels flat. This might be a perspective of style, given that the producers opted for a mature take on the retro trend that has re-emerged in KPOP this year. I really liked this aspect of the song, given that it was a logical choice for TWICE and that the song did come off somewhat refreshing. Not only does retro and TWICE click together in your mind without any issues, but I Can’t Stop Me intersects with their continuation of mature sounding songs. But the KPOP industry has very creative minds throughout (as evident by the quality of music that we listen to everyday and I review) and I am sure someone could have come up with a catchier hook that allows TWICE to maintain their well-known techniques, but also embrace their new sound. What we did get was decent and had potential but I wished they somehow amplified the retro instrumentation a bit more to make the song a tad stronger. And I feel that the hooks may have benefited from this. Vocal wise, it seems like they didn’t push themselves hard enough and it felt a little dull for my taste. On the flip side, they might have pushed too hard when it came to the ad-libs, as they felt strained. Likewise, the rapping had the same issue. Together, they might have done this intentionally to fit the style of the song, so this might go back to stronger instrumentation to amplify everything else in I Can’t Stop Me.
I think JYP Entertainment outdid themselves with the green screen this time around. I mentioned in the music video review for More & More that JYP Entertainment made magnificent music video with the use of sets and green screens. This time around, I was wowed by the blooming flower at the start of the video, revealing the members within the blooming flower. The galaxy background for that part was captivating. The members closeups all looked stunning and I really enjoyed that hexagonal pattern for the second verse. I felt like the music video featured two sets that felt similar to other music videos – namely the train station platform from BLACKPINK’s As If Its Your Last and the mountains from Red Velvet’s Bad Boy. I am not saying they are copied, but they felt familiar. The ending was also pretty interesting with the cliffhanger of the train at the edge of the cliff.
The choreography was excellent. I really liked the energy they put into moves, particularly when it came to the chorus. I also liked their instrumental break that follows the first and final choruses. I also liked that they carried over the flower formation from the start of the video.
Song – 6/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 7.3/10
It has been a while since I stuck my head into the world of Japanese releases made by Korean artists. So today, I will be reviewing Japanese releases from BTS, Stray Kids, TWICE, Dream Catcher and Lee Jun Young (from UKISS). Some of these are recent and some of these dates back to the start of the year. Early this year, I reverted to a bulk review post for International releases by Korean artists as they go global. If you would like to see the two bulk review posts that I have released so far, you can do so by clicking here and here. If you know of any other international releases (that have a music video), please comment them below so that I am aware of them!
Stay Gold – BTS
Out of all the releases on this list that I have chosen to review today, Stay Gold has to be the most generic. While the song does shine a golden light onto their vocals and rapping, the pop ballad just doesn’t have much to hold my attention. The lyrics of Stay Gold directs the song down the inspirational path, but the overall atmosphere of the pop ballad did not have that same feeling. And no amount of good vocals can compensate for that. The instrumental felt very mostly linear and the titular hook was just repeated too much throughout the chorus. Obviously, this is intentional to get the hook stuck in your mind. But by the time we get to the pre-chorus, it just feels too overdone and dried out. Lights (last year’s Japanese release) is quite similar in terms of its ballad direction, but there was a soothing feeling and attractive instrumental. The music video seems to show that no matter what dark place you in, there will always be light somewhere in it. At the end of the video when V touches the tree trunk, the golden lights that come from the tree and into the dark hallways may symbolises that is BTS is the guiding light for their fans (which I am sure is the truth for most fans). It was a nice video, with a good meaning. (7.2/10)
Top – Stray Kids
Top is Stray Kid’s first original Japanese single and since its release, we have seen a Korean and English version. It is also used as a theme song for the Japanese anime, Tower of God. When I listen to Top, I get this really cool epic vibe to the song which leaves a very strong impression on me. It starts off with some dramatic violins before adopting a rough and heavy synth base for the chorus. And it is this combination that really helps makes Top become one of their most powerful releases to date. The rappers benefit with this rough style of music, with both their rough textured delivery and angst shining throughout the song. The vocal moments were meh, in my opinion. But the slowdown we get to give way to the vocalists do help make the drop more epic. For the music video, I really like their spaceship premise. It is fitting with the epic vibes of the song. Standlone, it is still pretty cool setting. It is a song all about gettng to the top, no matter what. We see the members struggle as the road to get to the top becomes difficult, but they always perservere. I do wonder what Seungmin and I.N were meant to represent as they walk into the light. Are they the ones that gave up? Not too sure. As for the choreography, powerful and epic, just like the song. (9/10)
Fanfare – Twice
TWICE’s recent Japanese release is Fanfare. The song’s instrumental just keeps coming for you and it might be overwhelming for some. Even I had to debate whether I should say the instrumental assaulted us with its noise or was just very overpowering but bearable. For the time being, I am leaning towards the latter, as it doesn’t seem to much as everyone else is saying. But if you caught me on a bad day, I might be going with the first option as my description of Fanfare. I really like its energy and powerful upbeat nature, which is all highly suitable for the Summer season. The marching band adds a fun and robust feel to the song. It might be overpowering, but the members bring a bright tone to the song to help level it out. The song’s hooks were catchy and I would gladly add this to my playlist if I wanted to infuse some energy into my day. For the music video, it looks like a bunch of ill-fitting closeup shots and a stage-like set up for their choreography scenes, where the members are dressed in marching band gear. I assume those closeup shots are meant to give off a happy and joyful impression to match the lyrics of the song. Though, I do question Jihyo’s scene, which is a world full of laundry. No one ever enjoys laundry, it is such a chore. For the choreography, I thought it was pretty good. Not their most impressive routine, but still fun and bubbly. (7.4/10)
Endless Night – Dream Catcher
Endless Night is one of the older releases in this post, dating back to March of this year. While Dream Catcher has been long associated with bringing the J-POP rock sound to K-POP, Endless Night feels like it brings a Western rock influence to the Japanese industry, which was rather unexpected. It is also a lot moodier than any of their other title tracks. But while these are different directions, Dream Catcher makes it work. I do just wish their vocals and rapping had a little more oomph to them, which would help make the song more appealing. Aside from the chorus, everything else was rather forgettable and dry. For the music video, I really liked the use of colours. It just makes this otherwise boring music video pop, which definitely helps with the video’s appeal. Wait, but why do I find the video boring? Well, the video takes on that typical closeup and choreography formula that I have grown to dislike. I do admit the closeups seem to try to be aesthetic, but they don’t just hit the mark like other music videos. The choreography looks pretty good and works pretty well with the song. The chorus has to be the best part of the routine for me. (7.4/10)
Come Alive – Lee Jun Young (U-KISS)
Lee Jun Young is probably more known as an actor, rather than UKISS member. At the end of 2019, he reminded fans that he is a singer with the release of his first single album and Curious About U. Right after his domestic promotions, Lee Jun Young also released his first mini-album in Japan, featuring a number of solo singles from the second half of 2019. It also featured Come Alive, which was formally released at the start of 2020. It is a fun hip-hop dance track, that is both bass and brass-heavy. It is quite addictive that I am always nodding or tapping along to the beat when it appears on my playlist. The song is pretty dynamic when it comes to the verses. His rapping is quite captivating and alluring. I really like how the song punctuates some of the lines with the added emphasis of the ‘You‘ and ‘Do‘ (and associated Japanese words). His vocals are also quite good. There is a good beat to this section to help give it a club feel. At first, I didn’t like how dragged out the ‘Come Alive‘ felt. But after multiple listens, it has definitely grown on me significantly. The music video has this urban feel to it, which was nice. It just didn’t have anything more to it worth talking about, unfortunately. For the choreography, it fits in with the urban hip-hop feel that both the song and music video had. I do like how clean and smooth it felt during some parts of the choreography. Other than that, it is just another case of not his best, but still good. (7.5/10)
TWICE returned over two weeks ago with MORE & MORE, which is the title of both their latest mini-album and title track. Unfortunately, it has taken me over the two week mark to actually prepare and post my thoughts on their album. While it doesn’t seem as long but TWICE have already wrapped up their promotions for MORE & MORE. That is the case for a lot of established groups now, as they can afford to perform with shorter promotional periods, which I find a fascinating observation. And they are most likely very busy with other schedules. But while TWICE is done with promotion, I am not done with this era just yet. I need to get the album review out, so let’s keep going!
2. Oxygen – One of the main drawing points of Oxygen is its instrumental. It feels fresh and is very unique. I really like all of those effects in the background during the verse, from those wavy effects that appeared behind Nayeon and Jihyo’s first parts in the verse and those clanging percussion synths that featured behind Nayeon and Jihyo’s parts when they appear next in the song (and in all their subsequent sections). The chorus also featured a very nice hollow/deep shimmering sequence, as well, which had a unique charm of its own. They all just gave the song a more dynamic touch and added some unique energy into the song. I also like how much energy they also add to the song through the vocals. The pre-chorus by the main (Jihyo and Nayeon) and lead vocalists (Jeongyeon and Mina) just showed some flair that really made the song so much more interesting. The ‘I really really…really want’ was extremely catchy. The only pitfall the song had was the rapping. It felt unnecessary and really awkward. But other than that, it is a great song. (9.5/10)
3. Firework – Firework opens up with a short Latin guitar sequence, before it becomes infused with some tropical sounds. The pairing of trends, you could call it. It seems like there are some beach sounds, just in case you didn’t get the summery theme of the song. And I will be honest, the instrumental isn’t that draining despite it being two of KPOP’s most overworked trends to date. And while there were some good vocal moments embedded throughout the song, there were a few that also set the song back a bit as well. For example, I just felt they dragged out the chorus just a touch too much, if you understand where I am coming from. I do like the rapping in this song, as it added a little changeup. It was also dragged out as well, but I don’t mind that. (8/10)
4. Make Me Go– From the very first second, I was enjoying the beat that Make Me Go was channeling. It felt mature and sensual in a manner that suits Twice so well. The upbeat nature of the instrumental and its funkiness reminds me of Breakthrough and I felt that this would be an excellent follow up to that track. I really liked how they infuse a bit of brass into the song, giving that extra hook (as I find brass elements in songs to be great appealing mechanisms). But the killing point of the song has to be the low chorus. It had me screaming internally. They sounded so good this way. However, while I was on board with this really cool and catchy chorus, it also brought the weakest moment of the song. The member’s ‘Do It’ felt unnecessary. If it didn’t have that one small detail, then I would have given this a perfect ranking. (9.5/10)
5. Shadow– Shadow continues the album’s direction of a mature sound. We have definitely gone far away from their earlier cutesy works when they first started out. Shadow feels like that track that established mature artists have been putting out for a while now. While its synth-based instrumental is rather plain, I do find the song to be quite easy on the ears, which makes it decent to listen to. Their vocal work is quite good, but I just wished that the song had that TWICE colour to it, which is noticeably missing. The strongest part of the has to be that (not sure what you would call it) but that humming stuff that followed the chorus. It just felt so smooth. I don’t recall any rap sequences and I feel like a mean rap sequence would have been nice to give the song some edge and subsequently stand out. But overall, a decent listen. (8/10)
6. Don’t Call Me Again – Don’t Call Me Again is quite rough around the edges thanks to its characteristic marching band style instrumental. If they found a way to really soften those edges a bit, I would have appreciated it more. More the most part, the song didn’t evoke any emotions out of me. The instrumental was quite linear and their vocal felt very expressionless. It is another song that felt it needed a good rap sequence to cut it down a bit and bring in some relief to the consistency. And I think it would have mixed in neatly into this song. Overall, a passable song. (6/10)
7. Sweet Summer Again – For some odd reason, I can’t tell if the song starts off with the sound of a crowd, a bunch of seagulls or both! I just can’t pinpoint regardless of how many times I listen to the song and thought it would be a funny thing to share. What Sweet Summer Again really brings back to the table is a bright energy, which has been absent for a number of tracks so far. And on the plus side, it feels like your typical TWICE song, based from the energy that comes from it. The vocals and rapping were pretty good . The song had decent hooks and I liked the 90s feel of the instrumental. Overall, a nice song to end the album with. (8/10)
TWICE has the honour of kicking June 2020 off with their new release, MORE & MORE, which is the name for both their new title track and mini-album. We last saw the group in Korea for their Feel Special comeback in October last year. Since then, the group has been busy with the Japanese leg of their world tour (thought his was later affected by the current worldwide health pandemic) and have released a documentary series on YouTube, titled Twice: Seize the Light. This comeback also features the return of Mina, who returned to group performances earlier in the year, after being on hiatus to focus on her mental health.
MORE & MORE starts off a sleek dance track, featuring smooth vocals from the members. As the verse progresses, we get more of a beat becoming infused into the song, allowing members who don’t have as smooth vocals to get their moment to shine. The song that progresses to its catchiest hook, in my opinion. The pre-chorus features the ‘…more more more and more‘ repetition hook, which I find to be very strong and melodic. We glide through this section in a manner that bridges the verse and chorus together is a very pleasant manner. Then, we are hit with the tropical house-based chorus. Yes, the overused genre is making its comeback. But as 2020 isn’t overly saturated into the genre just yet, the robust chorus for MORE & MORE comes off as refreshing and robust. I also like their one liners during the chorus. I am, however, not impressed with the main hook of the song, the shouty ‘More & More‘. I wished they incorporated a more melodic approach with his hook as this would have made the song a lot stronger. Instead, it feels rather half done in my opinion. The second verse and chorus is essentially the same as the first routine. The bridge is the most cliche but dynamic part of the song, as they enter a trap-based breakdown and the rapping section of the song. Not bad for the song, but I felt the rapping to very mild. I would have liked them to adopt something that would have continued to change the song, before returning to the final chorus. Overall, it isn’t the perfect track according to my ears. And while I am unsure about their step into this trendy direction, I quite liked the song from the get-go.
I might be reading into the music video incorrectly, but I think they adopted a Garden of Eden type of concept, based on the featuring of snakes and apples (i.e. the Forbidden Fruit) in the video. It is interesting concept and it compliments the lyrics of the song in a way, as the members singing about wanting ‘MORE & MORE‘ from their relationship. I really liked the sets for this video. It is very colourful but also very mystic in a way. This can be greatly attributed to the post production editing and the use of green screen. I like their use of green screen in this video and it is JYP Entertainment’s best use of that technology. The parts of the video that corresponds to first pre-chorus and the rap sequence of the song had were fantastic and hypnotic use of the green screen, adding a dynamism to the video. The only thing I dislike with the video is the Bohemian look that opted for. While it is reflects well with the ‘nature’ side of the concept and that many people enjoy the style, I have never been a fan of it. But that is just my personal taste.
I liked what they did with the performance. There were strong moments, but I do note that they seem to have ditched the addictive and viral dance moves. And I think this is a smart move overall. Strong moments include the trap based dance break and the entire pre-chorus routine. I actually also really like final part of the chorus, when the few deep beats come into play.
Song – 8/10 Music Video – 9/10 Performance – 8/10 Overall Rating – 8.3/10
Welcome to the very first International Song Review post. This segment will replace the Japanese song review that I publish sporadically on Saturdays. The segment will also allow me to cover more of those Japanese releases, which was an issue I previously had (I used to post once a week and this would mean some releases won’t be reviewed until many weeks after – which is the case for all of the songs to be reviewed today). On top of that, I wanted to keep up with the KPOP advancement into the Chinese and Western music industries, a niche that I was not reviewing as I could not dedicate more time. By putting these all together, it saves time and it allows me to cover more songs. The artists I will be focusing on today include EXID, ONEUS, TWICE, MONSTA X and CIX.
Bad Girl For You – EXID
Bad Girl For You is a very different song from any of the Korean releases. The group’s Korean releases have this level of vibrancy that I feel is noticeable absent from this track. Instead, the song has this mature and sensual feel to it that I think is very suitable for EXID. I liked how the instrumental is very toned down and almost quite eerie. The chorus has a heavier beat to it, which offsets the song from becoming plain and boring. Their oval work complimented the style, which was definitely a nice fit to the song. I do find the use of that laser shooting synth a little random and doesn’t fit well with the rest of the song. The song may not seem much at first, but after many listens, you will be coming back for even more. For the music video, I liked the use of the 5 colours (green, blue, yellow, red and purple) in the background and how each colour is usually concentrated to a particular area of the set. It helps give the video a minimalist feel. The choreography is also quite nice but not really memorable.
808 – ONEUS
I think 808 is a smashing song. The sound of the instrumental was posed in a manner that really caught my attention. I love the strings that feature in the instrumental, along with the intense style they had adopted from their Korean releases. There is an epic vibe to the song, but they do it in a manner that masks it. You think you are getting another typical song, but you will be blown away by the song’s sound. The song is vibrant and definitely knows how to bundle a bunch of energy in a fashionable sense. The vocal work was good and the rapping gave the song a little more edge. The music video looks really artistic. I am not sure if these are music video sets or whether the group filmed their music video in some sort of modern art museum. It looked very cool. The performance looked good with cool moves. Just not memorable like EXID’s performance.
Fake & True – TWICE
I was blown away with Breakthrough when it was first release for its mature and edgy style, something that was a little foreign for the very pop-based and cutesy TWICE. And it seems like Fake & True continues the momentum and extends TWICE’s reach into this new territory. I thought the brass in the chorus was very nice and the rest of the instrumental was very energetic and vibrant in a way that suits the group. I also liked the synths that they employed throughout the song, especially for the dance break bridge. I did think the chorus was a little one-dimensional as it repeated the title of the song all throughout and felt a little awkward. The vocals were good but the rapping in this track was epic. It was also nice to see Mina as part of this November release, as well. The music video was pretty typical for TWICE but I thought it did a really good job of showing off their visuals. The choreography was also very nice and continued that mature vibe that I really enjoyed as part of their previous Japanese comeback.
My New World – CIX
My New World is CIX’s debut track into the Japanese music industry. It is also an extension of their KPOP works, with the group’s intense sound definitely channeled and presented in this song. I like how eerie and dark the song sounds. The dance style is very well suited for CIX, given that this is their title track style for their comebacks in the KPOP industry so far. I also like the kick of energy that the song gives during the chorus, which contrasts neatly with the shout-y style of vocal works. The rapping that dominates the second verse was also extremely promising and intense. I also like the piano that featured very quietly over the top of the dance instrumental. I think the music video shows the members on a new world. Other than that, I am not exactly sure if the video is showing anything else worth mentioning. Their dance sets looked really cool, with the floating stairs and the moving lights. The choreography is very intense and reconfirms that when it comes to the dance side of the industry, CIX might be a group to look out for.
Middle Of The Night – MONSTA X
The final song on today’s reviewing agenda is Middle Of The Night and it is also the very first Western song that I am reviewing on my blog (I am not including English versions that I have done reviews for in the past). Middle Of The Night is different from the rest song on the list as it is also an R&B track. A song that I can finally understand as well. Hahaha… I can really say much else but to tell you to check out this song below as everything felt flawless. It is one of those songs where the main complaint was that it was over so soon! The vocal work was superb from very member. I really love that Jooheon finally got to showcase his vocals that he previously showed off during a performance of Versace On The Floor. The music video was shot with every scene is interlinked with the previous and next scenes. I think that this was a really good way to show off the smoothness of the track. There is no choreography for this song, so this finishes the review.