[Review] Sugar Rush Ride – TXT

The biggest comeback of the week is undoubtedly TXT’s, who returns today with their fifth mini-album, The Name Chapter: Temptation. The new mini-album is lead by the title track Sugar Rush Ride, which also dropped today. This comeback follows their fourth mini-album, Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child, which was released last year with Good Boy Gone Bad as its title track.

Sugar Rush Ride starts off quite good. It kicks off with this really promising funky and upbeat dance pop instrumentation (courtesy of some really good rhythmic guitars and a consistent and constant beat) that has this brightness and life to it. There was a section in the verses that had a tinge of Blue Hour to it, which I personally thought was a cool callback to their earlier days (that was from 2020!). The pre-chorus gives us some stunning vocals and melodic work, with some of the members going into falsetto mode for the pre-chorus. We then approach the chorus, which felt more so like as if someone had slammed on the brakes very suddenly. This is because of the flute-y anti-drop that Sugar Rush Ride features as its centrepiece. Personally I am not too troubled by said anti-drop, as it enables the group to opt for an unexpected sensual kick (which I personally found to be a charming characteristic of the song) which also felt slightly hypnotic. Also, the anti-drop sets out what it is intended to do. However, I do agree that it does take too much away from how the beginnings of Sugar Rush Ride, and interrupted the flow of the song considerably and in a disappointing manner. The more troubling aspect of Sugar Rush Ride is the “Sugar Rush Rush Uh” that follows the anti-drop. I can’t take this part seriously (My first impression was to laugh at this section) and felt it was completely jarring and abrasive relatively to the rest of the song. The retro beginnings makes their return in the second verse, but the second chorus is also a repeat of what we heard the first time around. The bridge combines elements from each section of the song (i.e., “Sugar Rush Rush Uh“, the flute-y anti-drop and the funky guitar work), which I thought was clever way to ramp up to the final chorus. However, I am questioning whether the elements work together or not. It literally combines the best and worst elements of Sugar Rush Ride. The bridge leads into the final chorus, which is a better mashup of the sections before it (sans the “Sugar Rush Rush Uh” hook), allowing Sugar Rush Ride to finish on an upbeat and a somewhat explosive note. Sugar Rush Ride might grow on me with more listens as each section becomes more familiar to me and I know what to expect. But for now, it is an interesting song indeed.

The mini-album is titled The Name Chapter: Temptation, and it definitely looks like temptation is the concept of this music video. It appears the members are washed ashore onto an island that tempts them with pretty flowers. But the pretty flowers are devious, acting likes drugs that takes them away from reality and into a different world that comes off as euphoric, pleasurable and more desirable than the situation they are in. In the end, we see the members return to their normal state and decide to leave the island. But HeungingKai appears to be tempted once again. Of course the lyrics can’t talk about drugs (otherwise it be banned in Korea), so the lyrics make reference to sugar high instead. Other than that, I thought the video was really cool. The producers definitely chose very pretty scenery for this video.

In addition to pretty outdoor shots, the members do embrace and show off an amazing sensual energy in this video that is surely going to attract fans. I felt they didn’t hold back whatsoever for the chorus, which is definitely a strong aspect of the performance. As much as I don’t enjoy the “Sugar Rush Rush Uh” part of the song, I do like the abrasive and roughness that it brings the performance. I also liked the extra push they give the moves for the final chorus, to match the newfound energy that comes through during said part. And as a cherry on top, great stage presence and camera chemistry. Overall, a great performance.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 10/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[International Song Reviews] ONEW (SHINee), Jackson Wang (GOT7), MONSTA X, aespa, TXT, Stray Kids

Finally getting around to another International Song Reviews post. I originally had intended to post one of these every fortnight since the start of September, but I have failed to keep up. So, I am hoping to smash through some of these as fast as I can, especially since I feel like the songs that I cover in this segment of the blog have been really forgotten (on my part) this year. In the last International Song Reviews post, I covered ITZY, Mark Tuan (from GOT7), Jackson Wang (from GOT7), CIX, Golden Child and Woosung (from The Rose).

This time around, I will be focusing on ONEW (from SHINee), Jackson Wang again (from GOT7), MONSTA X, aespa, TXT and Stray Kids.

Life Goes On – ONEW (SHINee)

Life Goes On is the title of both the lead single and first studio length Japanese album from ONEW, the leader of SHINee. It dropped officially back in July of this year. Life Goes On is a cheerful summery track that has a simple message – even in the most boring or hardest times, life will continue. It features a bright and up-tempo acoustic instrumental that really sets the mood and makes you look/think in a positive light, which is the whole purpose of the song. ONEW’s vocals were dreamy and light, and worked well with the brightness that radiates from the song. My only issue (and it is a minor one!) with the song is how it transitioned from the pre-choruses to choruses. The buildup in the pre-choruses was done well, but the chorus slowed down just by a tiny hair. It isn’t much and doesn’t ruin the song for me. But it is one of those things that now I have noticed it, it just stick out me every time I listen to the song.

As mentioned before, the song is quite bright and gives off positive energy. ONEW’s solo scenes are all shot on a beach on a very sunny day and the ocean is just so blue, a perfect setting for the song. Elsewhere in the video, we see actress Hinako Sakurai come face to face with a few hiccups in her day (knocking over a plant, bumping into people, nodding off, dropping her lunch). But while she does become upset over these events, she manages to still enjoy her day, as depicted by her bright smiles and dance scenes. We also see some sadness, so the video covers all bad moments that are possible, but her ongoing dance parties are a nice resolve to get through to the next day. Even the ending, where the world had disappeared, is passed off by her as another day or something to worry about later.

Overall Rating – 8.4/10

Cruel – Jackson Wang

Another July release, with Jackson returning with the single Cruel, another pre-release single from his second studio length album, MAGICMAN (which was later released in September). This time around, Jackson Wang delves into grungier rock territory with Cruel. Personally, I prefer the likes of Blow over Cruel, but I appreciate the nostalgia that Cruel brings forth for me (i.e. the grungy styled tracks from my youth). I also enjoyed the fact that the song is vastly moodier and darker than any song he has put out previously – a nice change to his music. The use of his raspy tone and the filtering of his vocals throughout Cruel were one of the highlights of the song. Another highlight was the way the electric guitar acted as nice detailing to the grungy tones of the song, balancing out the song.

The music video probably the best part of this release. And to sum it up, it is amazing. Essentially, Jackson Wang and the people we see in the video are demons who have wrecked havoc on the world. But now it is the fight of the fittest demon, with all of them fighting each other for ultimate power. Jackson, as the main character, manages to succeed in eliminating them all over a well choreographed sequence which also includes playing some of the other demons as guitars. He takes their souls and faces off the one on the throne, who appears to have overpowered him. But that twist ending where he reappears might suggest he has a few tricks up his sleeve. The setting and even their ashy appearances all worked super well in the video.

Overall Rating – 8.8/10

Late Night Feels – Sam Feldt MONSTA X

Late Night Feels was a fun number between Sam Feldt (Dutch DJ) and MONSTA X. I liked the groovy and funky instrumentation of the song, with the disco undertones and brass giving the song extra liveliness and additional colour. Late Night Feels‘ backing is also quite light and airy, perfect for the type of late night feels one might have to just have some fun and escape their troubles. Pairing up nicely with this element are the vocals of MONSTA X, who also add a further layer of brightness to the song with their higher pitched vocals. The simple melody of the chorus definitely caught on and I found myself humming the song to myself quite a fair bit after its release. Late Night Feels all came together to be a straight-forward and enjoyable track.

I recognized a few faces from the video including LeenaDong, Alan Chikin Chow and Brooke Monk. Essentially, they are treated poorly by their bosses, strangers and loved ones. Instead of continually putting up with such treatment, each of person are transported to a different world, where they are dressed in PJs, surrounded by dancers and neon lighting and get to have fun with some carefree (or awkward in Alan’s case) dances. Their peers end up joining them, and they also lose the serious tones we first saw them in and see them in a more lighthearted manner. The video definitely sums up the song quite well.

Overall Rating – 8/10

Life’s Too Short – aespa

aespa released their first English single, Life’s Too Short, back in June of this year. The single later featured on their 2nd mini-album, Girls, which I will be reviewing soon. Life’s Too Short is a mid-tempo R&B pop single with a simple yet breezy melody that draws my attention to the song. I quite appreciate this release, as it is vastly different to their main EDM-based title tracks, which can be overwhelming at times. Even though this is a pop track and doesn’t necessarily pack a punch like those title tracks I just mentioned, Life’s Too Short still manages to showcase potential behind their vocals, especially when they single together. It is all unfiltered and uncomplicated, which allows the listener’s focus to be just on the vocals. The pop instrumentation is quite light and pleasant, which in turn enables the vocals and melodies to do most of the talking.

Despite having seen this side of aespa through their past remake singles, I still find it weird to see the members in a more innocent vibe. I am just so used to seeing and thinking of them in edgy gear/concepts. But it is a neat change of image (even if it is brief). I guess even aespa needs their off days from their KWANGYA travels. I found the teenage-like concept the members take on board to suit the simpleness of the song. However, I did wish the music video was a bit more interesting, just to make it more memorable, as it is pretty dry for the most part. As for the choreography, it is nice. But pretty typical.

Overall Rating – 7.3/10

Valley of Lies – TXT ft. iann dior

Valley of Lies is also another July release, and features the likes of TXT and iann dior (rapper and singer). Together, they form a neat indie pop rock track that is very easy on the ears. There really isn’t much to this song, if I am being honest. I quite like the heavy presence of the strumming guitar in this song. I really liked the husky and raspy tones that both TXT and iann dior bring to the song, as it gave the song some grit and substance. Otherwise, I would have passed on the track and ignored it. But they gave me a reason to listen to Valley of Lies. Other than that, I don’t have anything else to comment on. This lack of talking points doesn’t mean Valley of Lies is lacking or boring. It is just a simple track that I enjoyed and I don’t think I need elaborate further.

We don’t get a music video for this release. But we did get an official visualizer, which in the grand scheme of things, acts as a music video. In this visualizer, we see an animation of a figure walking through the valley of lies (and at one point, flying through the sky). This appears to be in line with the song, which “speaks about a lonesome journey that one takes towards the end of a relationship, along a trail of countless lies”. I do want to know what the different backgrounds mean, as I feel they add more meaning to the video than meets the eye.

Overall Rating – 7.7/10

Circus – Stray Kids

The final release to be part of this post is Stray Kids’ Circus, their latest Japanese single, which was released in June. A Korean version of Circus featured as part of their latest mini-album, MAXIDENT, which I will be reviewing some time in the future. Circus is a hip-hop dance track that has is centered on a circus theme, which I thought was cool and unique. I quite enjoyed the release, as the members made sure it was dynamic and fun, whilst also trendy and modern. There were many good moments throughout Circus, like the circus theme coming through via the melody during the bridge and the whispery lines at the start of the choruses. There was also a strong showing of rapping and vocals from the members, per usual. But my favourite part of Circus has to be Lee Know’s line in the second chorus. It is super ear catching and goes back to that idea that the song is dynamic. I constantly replay Circus just for that moment.

Like the song, the music video features a circus theme and circus performers, alongside the members. But we don’t see just one set of the members. There are two sets of Stray Kids featured in this video, which instantly bring up the cool factor in my books. One of them are actual circus acts, while the other version of the group sneak in. By the end of the video, the two sides are performing together. Like the song, there are other cool moments in this video, but Hyunjin stole my attention with his visuals. As for the choreography, I liked how they interwoven references to circus acts into the music video. It keeps the circus theme going. I also liked how they kept it punchy and dynamic. I would have loved to see the four members (can’t tell who) do that spinning move they did at the back of one of the scenes of the music videos. That looked cool in the video and would have been super awesome to be pulled off on stage.

Overall Rating – 9/10

[Album Review] Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child (4th Mini Album) – TXT

I start off the new week with another album review. This time the focus is on TXT’s fourth mini-album, Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child, their first album release since their The Chaos era last year. Thursday’s Child features the title track Good Boy Gone Bad, both of which were released in May of this year. On the mini-album alongside the title track, there are four additional side tracks – two of which are unit tracks.

Another strong release from TXT with this mini-album. With the success of The Chaos era being a big driver of the group’s growing popularity, I feel that fans had big expectations that Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child would further that growth. And I believe that the mini-album did just that. Not only was Good Boy Gone Bad was an epic comeback for the group, the other tracks on the mini-album were definitely of a high quality and proves that TXT are indeed artists that we need to keep on eye on for future releases.

Minisode 2: Thursday Child Album Cover

1. Opening Sequence – Kicking off the mini-album is the track Opening Sequence. And this is one really strong track. The development of the song as Opening Sequence progresses was one of the key aspects of the song that I was drawn to, with haunting piano and breathy vocals starting off the song. This last until the first chorus, which brings a heavy beat to the mix. We then get electric guitars to bring forth a rock tinge in the second chorus, and an even heavier rock presence aided by boastful synths came about in the final chorus. The melodies, particularly in the chorus, were iconic and super memorable. As for the vocals, they were very well done and you can definitely hear the emotions behind the vocals of the TXT members. (9/10)

2. Good Boy Gone Bad (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Good Boy Gone Bad. (9/10)

3. Trust Fund Baby – I remember having a bit of a giggle when I saw the title of the song for the first time – it just felt so random as a title. Interestingly, I got reflective vibes from the indie ballad, which in turn intrigued me into understanding the song. When you read the lyrics, you read about how the members feel empty and meaningless following the breakup with their partner they tried so hard to be with in LO$ER=LO♡ER. Both the lyrics and balladry style represent a tonal change from their previous title track LO$ER=LO♡ER, with references to that song interwoven into the lyrics of Trust Fund Baby and a clear acceptance of their current circumstances. Again, amazing melodies and heartbreaking/emotive vocals are featured throughout the track. I also enjoyed how atmospheric the instrumental was. (10/10)

4. Lonely Boy (네 번째 손가락 위 타투) – An interesting mix of acoustic guitars and trap makes up the instrumental for Lonely Boy, the mini-album’s first unit track. It features the vocals of Yeonjun and HeuningKai. Their chemistry in this paced song was quite good. HeuningKai’s vocals oozed charisma, while Yeonjun’s rapping gave the song some much needed oomph. The English lines in the chorus were quite repetitive, but they did it in a way where it wasn’t overbearing and actually came off as memorable, instead. (8/10)

5. Thursday’s Child Has Far To GoThursday’s Child Has Far To Go features the balance of TXT members (i.e., Soobin, Beomgyu and Taehyun). I quite liked the ease of the song, as it was easy on the ears and easy to get into. The retro synths and mid-tempo upbeatness were quite pleasant and enjoyable. The trio’s vocals had a tinge of hopefulness, which pairs well with the lyrics of the song. The melodies were also quite soothing and light. Everything in Thursday’s Child Has Far to Go came together nicely and created a track that eases you off the album in such a perfect manner. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 9/10

Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child Teaser Image

[Review] Good Boy Gone Bad – TXT

Starting off the week is TX T who returns today with their latest single, Good Boy Gone Bad. The new single is featured on the group’s fifth mini-album, Minisode 2: Thursday’s Child, which also dropped today. Good Boy Gone Bad follows on from a very successful 2021 for TXT, where they released their second studio album, The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE, and its repackaged version (titled The Chaos Chapter: Fight or Escape), which featured the singles 0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You) and LO$ER=LO♡ER respectively.

TXT amps up their rock influences from last year and adopts a much more aggressive and angsty demeanour with Good Boy Gone Bad. And I am all for it. The group sings about how they changed following a breakup, from being a good boy to now a bad boy. And they show that change through a very different take on the genre that propelled them further into the limelight last year. I liked (and also found it slightly funny) how the group reiterated the fact that they had change by constantly repeating the title of the song, just in case we didn’t get the message the first time around. I personally do not mind the repeated ‘Good Boy Gone Bad’, and I don’t mind them shouting that at me. But I would say that some people might find it a bit too repetitive and not like it as much. Anyhow, Good Boy Gone Bad starts off with a hip-hop approach to the verses, before kicking it up a notch with the rock influences for the choruses. To match the aggressive direction of Good Boy Gone Bad, the group approaches their parts with force, powerfully singing throughout and even shouting (as already mentioned) during certain parts of the song. I enjoyed the loud whispery lines that appear once in the chorus. It brought nice texture to the song, especially in an already abrasive environment. I also quite like the pre-choruses, as they have a ‘calm before the storm’ sort of setup, with both instrumental and vocals toning it down considerably. It allows the chorus to be more explosive as a result, which Good Boy Gone Bad undoubtedly benefits from. I am also glad to hear some rapping in this song. It was something I was looking for last year and I felt the intense rap sequence in the bridge of this song really hit the nail on the head. Overall, Good Boy Gone Bad further satisfies that rock extension that I was wanting from last year, through stronger and powerful execution.

The music video takes on a very dark and sinister look, which logically makes sense given the bad boy change that the group undergoes. I really like the sets and locations in this video, from the alleyway to the cemetery to the dance set with big eye in the background. Definitely hits the brief and looks super cool. I also like the camera shot from the hole in the ground in which the members stand around (see my featured image for this post). It was definitely a scene that left a strong impression me. That Yeonjun scene where he lies down after his motorcycle crash and rises back up (from the dead?) uttering the line ‘I like being bad‘ was also a memorable scene. It also helps that his visuals were on point in this video, as so was the rest of the members’. A strong music video, overall.

A few things to point out with the stage performance for this comeback. Firstly, I really liked the aggressive nature (particuarly the start) to the performance. It does fizzle out as it went on, and I attribute that to the copious amount of energy that the members put into the choreography, which would naturally tire them out. But they did a good job of embodying one of the most prominent vibes from the song. Secondly, their stage presence was amazing and really captivated me. And thirdly, their facial expressions, particularly Yeonjun’s, makes this performance worth watch. Overall, definitely another strong routine from the group!

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

[Album Review] The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE / The Chaos Chapter: Fight or Escape (2nd Studio Album / 2nd Studio Album Repackaged) – TXT

Finally, after my promise to brings this to you two weeks ago, it is finally hear. Apologies for the dramatic entrance to this album review. Anyhow, this is my review of TXT’s second studio album. As you can see in the title of this post, I am lumping two album releases together. The first is The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE, which was the main album release and this occurred back in May of this year. Headlining this album were 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You) and Magic. Then, Big Hit Music announced the group would be returning with a repackaged version, leading me to delay the until after the repackaged version was released. In August, TXT returned with The Chaos Chapter: Fight or Escape, which was lead by the single LO$ER=LO♡ER. I have reviewed all of named tracks and now I turn my attention to the rest of the two albums.

1. LO$ER=LO♡ER (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for LO$ER=LO♡ER. (7/10)

2. Anti-Romantic – Since the release of the FREEZE album until now, this is probably one of the most spoke about side tracks on the album. And I don’t blame people for wanting to talk about Anti-Romantic. I am with everyone in saying that this is a top-notch track! It is mellow R&B song, but the atmospheric instrumentation felt like a bit of a rollercoaster. It started as a calm track and developed into a relatively erratic synth-heavy track towards the end. However, I liked this development and it kept the song interesting from start to end. I like how the song brings about the raspy tones in their voices, making this a captivating listen as well. And the line that contains the song’s title is just so memorable and well-articulated that it has since become a TikTok hit. (9/10)

3. 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You) (featuring Seori) (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You). (9/10)

4. MagicClick here to read the review for Magic. (10/10)

5. Ice-Cream (소악행) – I am not entirely sure what to think of Ice-Cream. It is alone is a good track with potential, tapping into the pop realm of music, featuring a minimalist vibe and it incorporates the infamous line ‘I Scream, You Scream, We all scream for Ice-Cream’ repetitively. At the same time however, I felt the vocals especially for that repetitive hook was a bit too piercing and felt a bit much for the rest of the album. The vocal processing was also a bit much for my liking, especially since they proved their vocal abilities in the above songs. (6/10)

6. What If I Have Been That Puma? (밸런스 게임) – Personally, I could have done with less autotune. It felt a bit over the top and unnecessarily complicated the track. It too also pierces, but to a lesser degree than Ice-Cream. If anything, I felt it was bearable in What If I Have Been That Puma?. I liked the upbeat pop nature of the instrumentation. It was definitely fun sounding. I also like how it is directly connected to an earlier track of theirs (Puma from The Dream Chapter: Eternity). But other than that, I don’t see anything special in What If I Have Been That Puma?. (7/10)

7. No RulesNo Rules is another track that I hear often of. And it is the one song that I think deserves all the attention that it gets! The pop track has this underlayer of funk to it which makes it so appealing and catchy to listen to. It also adds a fun layer of energy to the song that just really speaks to me. Talking about energy, I really enjoyed the chorus package thanks to the burst of energy that leads into a powerful chorus, all the of brass and fun synths in the post-chorus hooks and catchy melodies. The vocals were superb, the rapping was awesome and the harmonies we got were amazing. Overall, my favourite side tracks off this album! (10/10)

8. MOA Diary (Dubaddu Wari Wari)MOA Diary was one of the three new songs on the repackaged version (the other two was LO$ER=LO♡ER and remix of 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You). It is a song for fans that is extremely sweet and fun sounding from the get-go. It too is also a pop song, and is probably their most straight-forward one yet. I don’t have much else to say regarding this song, as I felt I have summarised it pretty well with the sweet descriptor. Although I do want to point out that the song’s title ‘Dubaddu Wari Wari’ was sung so cutely in this song. (8/10)

9. Dear Sputnik (디어 스푸트니크)Dear Sputnik brings back the rock to the album. To me, I feel that TXT has found a niche that they can continue to explore. I will gladly tune into any comebacks from the group that digs deeper into rock music. Their vocals were so fitting and fitting for the genre, as proven throughout Dear Sputnik. But while I will admit that Dear Sputnik isn’t as intense as the title tracks, it still has that electrifying vibe to it that makes it so good. The dramatic start (which remained in the background for most of the track) was quite intriguing. (9/10)

10. FrostFrost also brings back some rock elements, but the song ultimately falls into the hip-hop genre. There is a much deeper and edgier vibe to the song, which is unlike any of the previous tracks that precede the song. It is also weird that it is placed at the end of the album, which is usually reserved for more cheerful or sentimental tracks to ease the listener off/out of the album. But I guess this is how TXT and their company gets fans thinking for the next release. I really liked TXT’s delivery in this song, with the growl and textures really bringing forth that edgy feel and tone. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

[Review] LO$ER=LO♡ER – TXT

TXT is officially back with a brand new single, LO$ER=LO♡ER, which comes three months after 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You). This new song is featured on the group’s repackaged version of their second studio album, The Chaos Chapter: Fight or Escape. Once again, I held back on writing a review for their second studio album, The Chaos Chapter: Freeze, upon hearing news of a repackaged version – so I will be fast-tracking an album review this weekend for TXT. In the meanwhile, here is my review of TXT’s latest track.

LO$ER=LO♡ER continues the rock influences from 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You). For those who missed my comments of their previous title track, I was full of praise for the song, given that the rock influences felt just right. While LO$ER=LO♡ER has that rock influence and feels like an appropriate follow up to 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You), it wasn’t as satisfying. The lack of satisfaction stems to a number of issues throughout the song, but majority of it was due to the fact that the influences in the chorus were quite flat. Given that the chorus is usually the centrepiece of any song, this is a massive blow towards the appeal of the song, especially since the verses had enough oomph to them. The buildup towards the chorus in the pre-chorus alluded for something with more intensity, and that just didn’t like it was delivered for me. Mellow and melodic are words that I would describe the chorus of LO$ER=LO♡ER. However, I just wanted more bite to the song, so that it could have been more show-stopping. The hooks in the song were quite decent, however I could have done without the whole ‘I’m a loser, I’m a loser, Lover with a dollar sign is a LO$ER‘. It is a step towards the cringy side of KPOP. I guess this shouldn’t have come as a surprise, given that it was foreshadowed in the title of the song. What stood out the most for me in LO$ER=LO♡ER are the members themselves. Their vocals were really good and well-presented throughout the song. Taehyun, in particular, had the right level of hoarseness in his voice to really give the song some punk edge. The rapping also had a nice kick to it and felt appropriate for this song. Overall, LO$ER=LO♡ER has a bit of a way to become a standout track. However, it still had a nice showcase of TXT’s skills.

I am not too sure if I understand the video correctly, but I think I have a solid theory to what is going on. Throughout the video, we see the events unfold in a first person point of view. In these scenes, we see the members as they are in love (i.e. the ‘lover’ side of the song). But my guess is that all these scenes are Yeonjun’s memories. At the start of the video, we see that Yeonjun is alone once again, similar to what we saw in 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You). The most important ‘memory’ in this video is the livestream (which was Beomgyu’s solo scene). We see him being abused by his father and this occurred live to the world. I presume his lover was watching. It is a vulnerable side that he didn’t expect people to see, especially his lover, which started a shame-spiral. Throughout the video, we continually saw confident versions of the members, but this was not the case during the livestream. And as teenagers, you tend to overthink. So I guess Yeonjun overthinks that because he was kicked around by his dad, he is no longer confident and cannot impress his lover (i.e. he is a loser). The video ends up with all members in the same car as in 0X1=Lovesong (I Know I Love You) with Yeonjun at the wheel and driving off the cliff. Aside from my choppy interpretation of the plotline, I really like the choreography scenes on the back of the truck. It looked cool, and I liked the attention to detail in these parts. Outfit-wise, I feel something along the lines of their previous set of outfits would have been better.

I really like the use of the microphone stands in this performance. It is pretty unoriginal idea, but I like the fact that it emphasised the emotional aspects of the song and the rock vibes. I like how they incorporated the ‘L’ sign into the choreography. It felt like an obvious choice, so I am glad they did.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.8/10

[International Song Review] TXT, MONSTA X, Kun & Xiaojun (WayV), CN BLUE, BTS

Back again with the International Song Review. I think I did flag that I might do a weekend of these a few weeks back, and I have enough releases to write two of the same post. For those who don’t know, this segment on the blog is where I cover songs released by Korean artists that are in other languages other than Korean. These songs are predominately Mandarin, Japanese and English. For this particular post, we will be checking recent international songs from TXT, MONSTA X, Kun & Xiaojun (from WayV), CN BLUE and BTS.

Magic – TXT

For those who visit my blog, you probably have seen Magic on my Weekly KPOP Charts, featured as the non-Korean KPOP Release of the Week corner of the segment for two or three weeks now. And it is obviously a song which I have really been dying to review for a while now. Magic is TXT’s first full-English track, featured on the group’s latest mini-album, The Chaos Chapter: FREEZE. There is so much to enjoy in this track. The upbeat, groovy and funky energy we get in the instrumentation, the energy that comes off said instrumentation, the catchy and repetitive hooks that we get. All of these are reasons why I cannot stay away from the track. The chorus is an exceptional peak for this song, encapsulating all of the above into sequences that are literally keyed into my mind. I also like how the members deliver the chorus in a falsetto matter. I also like the addictive chanty ‘everybody clap your hands‘ lines that follows the second and final choruses. For the music video, I liked the futuristic concept and story that was being told. TXT are humans, sent from the white spaceship to rescue their fellow humans who were held captive by the robots. TXT ended up getting caught and information was being extracted from their while they were in captive. But being clever (and I think they were of a high status), the members escaped captivity and spread their message or ‘magic’ throughout the robot population (i.e. the robots went from robotic mannerisms to becoming very freeing, dancing along to the music). In the end, the members ‘freed’ the robotic population and were zapped back to their spaceship. Aside from the plot line, I liked the white sets (looked sterile, which is fitting for the robotic theme for some reason). But I also liked the use of the colour of blue, which really popped out. Choreography-wise, TXT really shows off their stamina with a routine that just keeps on going. I really like the ‘Oh, Oh, Oh‘ part in the choruses and how only one of them moves and then everyone joins in. It is a simple move, but it looks really cool. (10/10)

Flavors of Love – MONSTA X

Flavors of Love is the title of both MONSTA X’s most recent title track in Japan and the title of their 3rd Japanese studio album, released in May 2021. If you are looking for that intensity that MONSTA X, then this isn’t the right song for you (I recommend WANTED, which is also on the same album). Flavors of Love is more of a casual song, consisting of a mid-tempo pop acoustic guitar instrumentation and a light-hearted tone. If you are an avid MONSTA X fan (or Monbebe), you will realize that this is very foreign territory for the group. But it is a nice change of sound for the group, whose songs tend to be harsh and intense (as mentioned previously). The members vocals also reflect this change. I do find their voices to be more pure in this release, with less processing and autotune applied to it their voices as usual. They also sound much sweeter than usual. The rappers (Joohoney and I.M) also tweak their sequences to be softer and warmer. The song has a decent melody and hooks, making it a nice addition. I do prefer their harsher sounds, however, though this would be a nice b-side. The music video is cheerful and shows the members chilling and enjoying some free time as their leisurely record the song. Nothing really that interesting in the video, other than the fact that the video reflects well with the song. As far as I know, there isn’t a choreography for this comeback. There is a performance version, but they sit on chairs and happily deliver Flavors of Love to the audience. As a result, this wasn’t reflected in the final rating. (8/10)

Back To You – Kun & Xiaojun (WayV)

Next up is Back To You, a ballad performed by Kun and Xiaojun from WayV (which is a NCT subunit, for those who are wondering why I am reviewing a Chinese group). It is an extremely nice ballad, instrumented with classical instrumentation typical of the ballad genre. There is a bit of deep brass (tuba, I think?), which is different from other ballads which are usually piano and strings oriented. I really liked how the instrumental built upon itself. This is always a good sign, as it means the song is developing as it goes and the ballad isn’t just a ‘straight line’. But that is one half of the song. The other half is Kun and Xiaojun, whom brings beautiful vocals to Back To You. They helped make Back To You into a captivating piece. It followed the same development as the instrumental, with their vocals building as the song progressed. Kun and Xiaojun also do a good job of giving the group a slightly different spotlight. I am more used to WayV’s dance tracks and I wasn’t known that the group had vocalists had capable vocalists who could handle stunning songs like this. It definitely makes me more aware of WayV’s skillset. The music video was good, but not as stunning as I hoped. We see the pair hang out in the forest and along the shoreline. A lot of the video has been edited to be slow, which made sense. I liked the views of the setting they gave us (particuarly that night time shot in the forest) and the pair looks good. I feel the video could have included more breathtaking shots of the scenery, as this would have provided a slightly different dynamic but still keep true to the ballad style. (8.6/10)

Zoom – CN BLUE

CN BLUE makes their first Japanese release since 2017’s Shake. This is their first work since the release of their most recent Korean comeback, Then, Now and Forever. Zoom is the group’s first upbeat track in a while, which is very refreshing and more captivating that their ballad comeback in November 2020. That instantly says a lot already. I like the brightness that the song has and the lighthearted energy that it emits. Though I do think it is the least captivating track out of the bunch I am reviewing today. I do yearn for something more meaty from the band, though I guess I have wait some more for that. I do like Yonghwa’s vocals in this song. I miss his voice and am happy that I am hearing his vocals once again. I am also glad that Minhyuk and Jungshin also leant a hand in the vocal department, providing backing vocals for the chorus’ hooks and Jungshin rapping that sequence in the second verse. I wish there was more of this, especially in their Korean releases, as CN BLUE is not just a one-man band. Though sometimes, it feels that way with just Yonghwa singing. For the music video, we see the members alone and this is rather frustrating for them. They all get invited to something, but we don’t see the resolution of the frustration. I wished we got to see that, so that the video had some sense of closure. I did feel the lighting in this video was a bit much and wished it was toned down a bit. It made the video look a bit glary and took away the effect of the colours. (7.3/10)

Permission To Dance – BTS

The release everyone is talking about. I liked the message and energy they are spreading with this song. But out of their Western releases thus far, I feel Permission To Dance is their weakest. I really liked both Dynamite and Butter as they had that heftiness that helped make them catchy and addictive. Permission To Dance is nothing more than a lighthearted piece and pretty much side-track material. They could have been more intense in some parts, but I felt the song had too many ‘soft edges’. There are aspects of the song I did like, however. I liked how the instrumental didn’t rely on much synths. Rather, a hearty selection of ‘classical’ instruments were used to form the backing of the song. I find this to be different and gives off a unique appeal. It also enables the presence of various percussion effects in the song , which added a nice textural flair. The vocal processing is something that I think could have gone out the door, once again. It feels so heavy and icky. Knowing BTS’ skills, they don’t need it whatsoever. So I wonder why the producers feel it is necessary to process their vocals in such a heavy manner. There were some decent hooks, though they don’t have that same level of appeal as Dynamite or Butter‘s had. Though I do hear they added a bit of the Dynamite hook to the song (the ‘Da na na na‘). I liked how the music video had inserts of ordinary people ripping off their masks and dancing along to the music. It reflects well with the message of being free and able to do your own thing. I also liked how the music video isn’t in a ‘set’. It isn’t as fake as their previous music videos, which is a good thing. Choreography-wise, I liked how BTS brought that lighthearted feel to the routine. It looks relatively simple and it looks like the members have a bit of fun in the performance as well. I also like the inclusive nature of the choreography, as they incorporated internal sign language into the choreography. Not exactly the first time it happened, but definitely something that should happen more often! (7.7/10)

[Special] Personal Favourite Songs from 1st Half of 2021

Within a blink of an eye, another 6 months have passed. 2021 was still an awful year with lockdowns, isolation and the pandemic still dominating news headlines. I feel that these events, amongst other things, has really slowed me down this year. But at least, KPOP was on the pleasures that I still had to get me through these last 6 months.

A lot of albums and a lot of songs were released, per usual, in the span of the first 6 months of 2021. And I am still playing catch up with some to write reviews for! I will get there eventually! But in the meanwhile, I thought I share with you 10 KPOP songs that are my personal favourites from the last 6 months (in no particular order). Why 10? Well, it is an even number and I just couldn’t decide on a few, so I went with a couple :D. (Please note that this is irrespective of my reviews – songs can grow on you over time!)

Let me know if we shared similar taste in 2021 so far? And if we don’t, then comment below what your favourite songs of the year are! I would love to see what you all have been enjoying.

[Review] 0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You) – TXT ft. Seori

Kicking off the week is TXT with their first comeback in over eight months! Last time we saw the group was through their single Blue Hour and their third mini-album, Minisode1: Blue Hour. Since then, we have seen the group make a comeback in Japan with the track Force, and their first studo length album in Japan titled Still Dreaming. On a brief side note, I have not been able to review it this new Japanese release as there is no music video as far as I am concerned. But we are here today to talk about their newest Korean release. Today, the group returns with 0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You) and their second studio length Korean album, The Chaos Chapter: Freeze.

TXT takes on a different sound with their new song, opting for rock influence in 0X1=LOVESONG . Since the unveiling of the highlight medley last week, I was excited for this comeback based on the various upbeat tracks on their new album. But it is the rock influences on the album that really caught my attention. For me, there is no feeling like finding just the right rock song that has the right amount of intensity and energy to put on. There is just something about being able to head bang to a song and tap my foot away that gets me all giddy and excited. 0X1=LOVESONG really ticks those boxes for me. What I also really liked about 0X1=LOVESONG was how pure it was. Not in the sense of it being innocent or cutesy. But rather, in the sense that it was untouched by any synths. With a lot of the pop music relying on electronic and synths to some degree, it is nice to hear something a bit traditional in terms of instrumentation. And in this song, it somehow gives the rock sound a chance to be easy on the ears, which is a rather interesting thought I had about the song. When it came to the chorus, the energy exuded by the rock sound made for a thrilling dynamic that made the song even more appealing to me. Another aspect that I really liked about 0X1=LOVESONG is that it shows off the members’ husky and raspy tones. It made the song more impactful and allowed emotions to be poured into their vocals. 0X1=LOVESONG is also quite catchy. While the instrumentation and energy of the song is already quite memorable, they really hone it in during the post-chorus hook. Seori features in this segment, and she adds a very crisp and refreshing vibe to the song that I find to be ideal. It cuts through the intensity of the rest of the song (so it just doesn’t become a relentless track) and boldens the hook to be even more memorable. If I were to be critical about the song, I do feel that 0X1=LOVESONG there might be a potential overly consistent issue in the song’s sound if it gets replayed too many times in a short period of time. A substanital rap sequence would have been nice to relieve this issue. I think it would have been a nice addition to the song, adding further momentum to the song to drive it forward. But as it is early days, I think 0X1=LOVESONG is a fine song that showcases TXT in a new light.

The music video seem to tell a story of being alone. Yeonjun, who plays the main character in this video, is alone in this world. His parents are fighting, which causes him to find escape. He steals his car keys and go on a drive. The reason why I think he is alone is that this didn’t seemed plan. But yet, his ‘friends’ are awaiting him at the car, welcoming him to his adventure. Throughout the video as well, we see Yeonjun physically separated from the rest of the group highlighting the loneliness that he has. But as I said before, it is his escape from reality. At the end of the video, we see Yeonjun wake up alone. Aside from the story, I really like the grey filter that is on the video and the choreography shot with all the speakers behind them.

I like how they added to the song’s initial energy with their angsty approach to the choreography and vocals. It made the performance look really good and even more powerful that what you would expect. However, there wasn’t really a memorable move for me in this performance, which is a pity. But the routine is still worth watching! I also want to give a shoutout to their stylists who hit the brief perfectly with their grungy outfits that feel so fitting for the song.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

[Album Review] Minisode1: Blue Hour (3rd Mini Album) – TXT

TXT is nominated for Best Male Group, Best Male Group Performance (for Blue Hour) and Best Music Video (for Can’t You See Me). Click here to support TXT and your favourite artists from 2020.

The album in the reviewing spotlight today is TXT’s Minisode1: Blue Hour, the group’s 3rd mini-album since their debut. This mini-album was released back at the end of the October and has been sitting on my list of albums/songs to review for quite some time now. And I thought I try to clear off the October albums (whilst also balancing some November and December albums) now before the year ends. Minisode1: Blue Hour features the title track Blue Hour and four other new songs. Let’s see what I thought about these four songs, and the album overall.

Minisode1: Blue Hour Album Cover

1. Ghosting – Many side tracks in this half of 2020 are creating really appealing atmosphere to listen to and Ghosting is another addition to this long list. The song brings sleekness, thanks to the upbeat tempo within the indie rock instrumentation. In addition to that, the sleekness and indie rock also really allowed the members to show off some husky and raspy vocals, which definitely compliment the song as a whole. The melodies were super easy to get into and enjoy. (9/10)

2. Blue Hour (5 시 53 분의 하늘 에서 발견한 너와 나) Click here to read the full review of Blue Hour. (8.5/10)

3. We Lost the Summer (날 씨를 잃어 버렸어) – I know there is a music video for this release and I have put this music video onto a list of music videos to have a look in a future ‘Missed Review’ segment. In the meanwhile, we proceed with the song review. We Lost the Summer is a tropical house song. It is a rather clean track. When it first started, I registered it as a TXT song, thanks to the familiarity of their vocals. But unfortunately, I thought the song was rather dull and lacked energy or drive. It felt like a song release by any other male group in KPOP, especially with the tropical sound that inundated KPOP a few years back. I was waiting for some sort of dynamic change in the music to really sweep me off my feet. But it never delivered. (6/10)

4. WishlistWishlist captures my attention from the very first second thanks to those very deep and dramatic thumping in the background. But that was just the start of the song. When it came to the chorus, Wishlist throws all of this fast tempo and upbeat energy right at you, resembling the type of energy you would expect for an epic pop rock track. It felt exhilarating for me and reminded me of a few pop tracks I continually dig for in my playlists. Wishlist shows off really strong vocals, which is required in order to be heard on top of the instrumentation. Overall, Wishlist is my pick for best side track from this mini-album. (10/10)

5. Way Home (하굣길)Way Home is the final song on the album. I was a little hesitant with the song at first. It does overwhelm with its synth/trap instrumental as the background. There is also this off beat aesthetic approach at the start of the verses. But like most songs, Way Home gets better with time. I am not 100% sold on the song yet, but Way Home has its moments. I am impressed with the vocals, and also am glad that the song contains some rap (which has been noticeably absent from the side tracks album thus far). (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

Minisode1: Blue Hour Teaser Image

[Review] Blue Hour – TXT

Also making their comeback on Monday is TXT, with Blue Hour. This is featured on the group’s third mini-album, minisode1: Blue Hour. This comeback follows the completion of their The Dream Chapter trilogy, which ended with their third mini-album (The Dream Chapter: Eternity) and the title track, Can’t You See Me. And TXT has been proven to be getting popular as the days go by, with reports suggesting that the group has managed to crush personal album sales records. That is a little statistic that I will share once I get around to an album review. In the meanwhile, here is the review for the Blue Hour comeback.

TXT is another group to follow the ongoing retro trends of KPOP. Or possibly, they are taking a page out of their labelmate’s recent release, BTS’ Dynamite. But either way, it is a really great move for TXT. Given their young age, they really should capitalize their youthful charms now before they inevitably move to more mature releases to fit their age. A mature concept now and then is okay (such as their previous comeback), but there is just a lot of unexplored territory if they don’t embrace that youthful side earlier on. The way Blue Hour started with the female voice going ‘boom boom…‘ (I think this was the lyrics that female voice was singing) was very intriguing. We then move into a more upbeat pop territory, with impressive vocals from Soobin and Beomgyu. The chorus confirms the Blue Hour‘s final form of disco pop. And paired with melodies like the ‘Cuz of imagination‘ (that starts off the chorus) just makes everything so much more appealing. The ‘Can’t you feel the rush‘ line was super catchy and this make the post-chorus hook my favourite part of the song, without a doubt. When it came to the second verse, I wasn’t impressed with Yeonjun’s rapping line. It just felt incoherent with the rest of the song. I did like Soonbin’s follow-up line that goes into falsetto mode. Taehyun’s husky voice that really makes ‘The sun is down...’ so much more impactful and Heuning Kai’s vocal rap line was a better form of rapping in the song. I did lowkey expect a rap sequence with a little more heft somewhere in the song and felt a little disappointed that didn’t actually occur once the song wrapped up. But overall, Blue Hour is fun, energetic and very enjoyable.

Once again, TXT’s music video features a story. And it seems to be an elaborate story that might connect to future music videos, based on the final scene alone where Beomgyu walks away from the tree and steps on the book that fell to the ground earlier. Likewise, where did the rest of the members go, as they were all sitting in the tree at the start of the video? And what the significance behind turning off the merry-go-round? Many questions to ponder and most likely answered in future videos. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to theorise what the video means, so I am making a bunch of assumptions for my ‘first take’ of the video. I liked the fun and youthful side of the music video (for the reasons I mentioned arlier on in the review.). I also liked the ‘imagination’ setting that I assumed the members had come up for the video. And those squirrels looked so cute (this last point is not an assumption, but a fact!).

The choreography looks light and fitting for the song. But it still looks complicated. I liked how there was a dance break version, which I assume included a few extra lines (as I don’t recall hearing some of the bridge in the Spotify version, which is what I based my song review on, though I do recall them appearing in the music video). The dance break version I reckon should be the default version as it added a layer of lighthearted coolness to the performance that I thought was unique.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.6/10

[Album Review] The Dream Chapter: Eternity (2nd Mini Album) – TXT

It is time for another album review. And today, we will be looking more closely at TXT’s latest mini-album, The Dream Chapter: Eternity, which features the group’s latest single, Can’t You See Me. I don’t want to give away too much of my thoughts on the album before we get to the more juicy bits of the review (i.e. the songs). But what I will say without spoiling those thoughts is that this album is definitely one to check out before reading the review. I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises that TXT has installed. This album has officially become one of my favourites of the year and I am very impressed with this establishing male group. On with the review!

The Dream Chapter: Eternity Album Cover

1. Drama – What an outstanding opener to the album. Drama kicks us off with a very energetic and upbeat funky number that I will definitely be replaying constantly into the future. I really like the deep and accented piano that just stands out in the instrumentation. I also really like the funky guitar rhythm that we get in the chorus. It pushes the song along very nicely and adds additional energy to the song thanks to its fast tempo. The addition brass really gives it some extra life and makes everything feel quite fun. I am not so much into instrumental break, which feels more of a performance element as there wasn’t really anything musically about it. The members themselves sound very nice and helped the vocal melodies standout. But the winning segment of the song belongs to Yeonjun, whose rapping segment was just so on point and more energy to the song. Yeonjun is followed by Beomgyu and Soobin, who harmonized together as a rapper and vocalist effortlessly. It is say to say that they started this album with what I would consider a top song! (9/10)

2. Can’t You See Me (세계가 불타버린 밤, 우린) (Title Track) – Click here to read the full review for Can’t You See Me. (9/10)

3. Fairy Of Shampoo (샴푸의 요정) – From what I am reading, Fairy Of Shampoo is a remake of a classical single of the same name by Light & Salt. It is a low tone jazz number that really captures your attention as it is unlike any song that I have heard in modern day KPOP so far (and very different from the song preceding and following it). What I did notice during my initial listen of the album (to decide whether to review the album or not) is that the song had a very ‘old’ Korean pop music melody to it, as it felt like I was listening to one of those covers on the Korean TV show, Immortal Song, where current artists compete with covers of a popular act from back in the day. And this makes total sense, given that the song was released in 1990. The jazzy elements, such as the brass and piano, of the song really made the song standout instrumentally. It may feel like traditional jazz. But mainstream or traditional genres aren’t heard as much nowadays due to the trend of mashing genres. The song brings out the group’s vocal chops. We hear the members sing at a low tone to match with the instrumental, whilst also singing with a falsetto approach. (9/10)

4. Maze In The Mirror (거울 속의 미로) Maze In The Mirror has an alternative slow rock type of feel to it and this is combined with acoustics. It feels very innocent in a way, given the song’s softness. But I find the atmosphere to be very tense. It might be the song’s lyrics, which is about becoming lost in one’s thoughts and feelings. From what I am reading, the song is based on the thoughts and feelings of the members during their training days. Talking about the members, once again, they sounded amazing in this song. They probably, too, add to the tense atmosphere of the song. Interestingly, their voice stayed quite soothing throughout the song, from start to end. It helped give the song an ominous yet calming tone to the song. I really like how the rock side of the song slowly comes into play as the song progresses. It doesn’t full kick in until the very end, which was interesting. But it is one of the charms of the song, as it slowly churns to that peak. (8/10)

5. PUMA (동물원을 빠져나온 퓨마) – A music video for this track was just released yesterday or the day before. I won’t be writing a separate review for it and will be keeping the music video for a ‘Missed Review’ post later on. PUMA returns the album to the same style which the main title track is based on. Dark and edgy. More specifically, the song conforms to the hip-hop genre and it follows the previous song with a heightened level of intensity. It is another interesting track as when we talk about dark, edgy and intensity, we think of a song that really packs a punch in one way or another. But we never get that punch throughout the song. The instrumental and vocal/rapping stay relatively consistent throughout. Part of me feels disappointed that we didn’t get a musical punch in this song. But at the same time, it would have felt cliché and typical. TXT seems to put a twist on the style and I quite like that idea. (8.5/10)

6. Eternally – I have used the word interesting throughout this album review a lot thus far. But I think we can all agree that interesting is just a teaser for Eternally. The final song on the album starts off as an alternative R&B number. It is rather slow, and their vocals sound so smooth and superb. About a minute and fifteen seconds into the song, it changes up unexpectedly with a trap-based background and the members going into a low tone rapping sequence. If I were to describe another way, think of a really well written plot twist to a movie or story that turns the story upside down. The song re-enters R&B territory, albeit with a slow rock type of vibe to it. We return back to that change up one more time and then the song ends with another slow rock R&B mix. I find Eternally to be very thrilling and a very big surprise. It is experimental in many ways, but I think their trick ends up successful enough to be a 10/10 song. (10/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.9/10

The Dream Chapter: Eternity Teaser Image

[Review] Can’t You See Me – TXT

Making their comeback and kicking off the week is TXT. For those who may not remember TXT (where have you been?) or if you are new KPOP listener (an acceptable excuse for not remembering TXT), they were the biggest male rookie group of 2019, debuting with Crown and Run Away. Today, the group returns with Can’t You See Me, which is the title track on their second mini-album, The Dream Chapter: Eternity. It also continues their series of growth, which has the themes of their past two releases. Let’s see how their latest release stacks up to their debut singles.

Can’t You See Me starts off with a really promising air of mysteriousness, which I think continually features throughout the song. It helps create an aesthetic atmosphere. The song then brings in a rock transition and this transition into what I would describe as a subdued rock dance track. Featuring throughout the verses are autotune moments that remind me of Billie Ellish’s Bad Guy. They add a really impactful and rough texture to the song, giving Can’t You See Me some character and profile. Instrumentally, the chorus feels very similar to the verse. But I really liked how their vocals help bring some life to the chorus, which helps differentiate the sections. I thought the chorus had decent hooks, with my favourite being the speaking line ‘My friends don’t understand me, no‘. The rest of the song is quite similar, with some different changes. The opening to the second verse is heavily filtered rap sequence brought to you by the members. I really liked the intensity of this sequence and how it added to the aesthetics of the song. The bridge takes away that subdued rock sound, leaving the vocals to do most of the work. Apart from some really soft crunchy synths, the slow tempo and the breathy vocals of Soonbin and Yeonjun makes total sense. I think the downfall of the track is that the different components I have described feel a little disorienting and it took me a few listens to cohesively piece the track together. But overall, I liked the more subdued sound and the different things they had going on in it.

The trailer for this comeback depicts the members becoming socially distance from Soobin. We get a sense of the social distance in the music video as well, as the members sing about how their friends no longer understands them. In the video, Soobin is the main character. The other members come over and I noticed that when they are all having fun, one or two of the members become ‘distant’. For the video, it happens to all the members. But storywise, I feel like only Soobin has this feeling. Things start to get wild as the members start to have a food fight with tomatoes and strawberries. During this food fight, Soobin screams (I assume he has had enough) and each of the members leave. All tomato and strawberry stained, we see the members outside (with exception of Soobin, I think) in a sadden mood. Skip a few seconds and we see the house on fire. I think Soobin takes his life (the red food fight depicts blood). But why are the members still around the house? Well, I think they are like voices in Soobin’s head and they realize their effect. Death is referenced in two parts. The first is when Beomgyu places a blanket over Yeonjun. When Yeonjun removes the blanket in a later part of the video, the other members are holding their heads, experiencing some crazy headache and are shown in a fast forward filter around Yeonjun. Maybe a headache caused by voices in one’s head? When the members leave Soobin, they are in the same fast forward filter as before, further showing that they are in his head. Yeonjun is later crushing a tomato in his hand and he looks at it like how someone would look at a blood-covered hand. When he looks up, all the members are zoned out. Each of these sections are followed by a red light (a foreshadowing moment). My next guess is that each member (other than Soobin) represent an emotion or desire. But for the sake of this review, I won’t delve into that level of detail. Overall, a really good video. I liked the set and the story (if my interpretation proves true).

The choreography has this subdued level of intensity that feel just right for the song. I liked how those autotuned moments in the instrumental became the more erratic moments in the choreography. These parts contrasted very nicely with the smoother texture of the rest of the choreography. I also liked their entire setup for the rap sequence in the second verse.

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

[Special] 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards – Artist-Based Categories

It is that time of the year again where I announce the winners for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. In December 2019, I allowed the audience (you all), once again, to vote for their favourite songs and artists for the December 2018 to November 2019 period. Thank you to all who voted and particpated in the KPOPREVIEWED Awards this time around. Even more people voted this year, making this year more intense than ever in many categories. This post will focus on the artist-based categories, which will involve the New Artist categories, Elemental-focused (i.e. rap, vocals etc.) categories and Best Artist categories. The winners for the artist categories will be posted in an accompanying post today, while the Top 100 songs of 2019 will be posted tomorrow.

Here is how things are going to work. Each category (aside from the non-fan voted categories, which are specified) will have a WINNER (the song/performance/video that ranked first), a Honourable Mention (the song/performance/video that ranked second) and a KPOPREVIEWED Choice (my personal choice if I voted, which I didn’t include this year). And let’s go!

Best New Male Soloist

Nominees: Baekhyun (EXO), Chen (EXO), Ha Sung Woon, HUTA (Lee Min Hyuk – BTOB), Kang Daniel, Kim Jae Hwan.

WINNER – Baekhyun (EXO)
Honourable Mention – Kang Daniel
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – HUTA (Lee Minhyuk – BTOB)

Best New Female Soloist

Nominees: Hwasa (Mamamoo), Jeon Somi, Kim Ji Yeon (Kei – Lovelyz), Oh Ha Young (APINK), Sulli

WINNER – Hwasa (Mamamoo)
Honourable Mention – Sulli
KPOPREVIEWED – Hwasa (Mamamoo)

Best New Male Group

Nominees: AB6IX, CIX, ONEUS, TXT, X1

Honourable Mentions – ONEUS

Best New Female Group


Honourable Mention – EVERGLOW

Best Band

Nominees: DAY6, FT Island, IZ, N.Flying, ONEWE

Honourable Mention – N.Flying

Best Vocals

Nominees: AKMU, Brown Eyed Girls, Chen (EXO), IU, Mamamoo

Honourable Mention – Chen (EXO)

Best Raps

Nominees: J-Hope (BTS); Jackson (GOT7); Mark (NCT); Ravi (VIXX); Zico

Honourable Mention – Zico

Best Subunit

Nominees: Block B Bastarz; EXO-SC, Jus2, NCT 127, NCT Dream

Honourable Mention – NCT 127

Artist With Most Weekly KPOP Chart Wins

This is not a fan voted category.

WINNER – Seventeen (5x)

Rising Star

Nominees: ATEEZ, CLC, N.Flying, UP10TION, VICTON

Honourable Mention – CLC

Most Underrated Artist of 2019

Nominees: A.C.E, Dream Catcher, LOONA, ONF, Pentagon

WINNER – Dream Catcher
Honourable Mention – Pentagon

Best Male Soloist

Nominees: Kim Dong Han, Leo (VIXX), Nam Woohyun (Infinite), Taemin (SHINee), Yesung (Super Junior), Zico

WINNER – Taemin (SHINee)
Honourable Mention – Zico
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Nam Woohyun

Best Female Soloist

Nominees: Ailee, Kim Chungha, IU, Park Bom, Sumni, Taeyeon (SNSD)

Honourable Mention – Kim Chungha
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Kim Chungha

Best Male Group

Nominees: ASTRO, ATEEZ, BTS, DAY6, EXO, GOT7, iKON, MONSTA X, NCT, NU’EST, Pentagon, Seventeen, SF9, Stray Kids, The Boyz, WINNER

Honourable Mention – BTS, ATEEZ
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Stray Kids

Best Female Group

Nominees: (G)I-DLE, BLACKPINK, CLC, Dream Catcher, EXID, GFriend, IZ*ONE, LOONA, Lovelyz, Mamamoo, Momoland, Oh My Girl, Red Velvet, TWICE, Weki Meki, WJSN (Cosmic Girls)

Honourable Mention – Red Velvet, Mamamoo
KPOPREVIEWED Choice – Oh My Girl

And that brings us to the end of the Artist-Based Categories for the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Awards. If you haven’t seen the Song-Based Categories yet, click here.

Tomorrow, we will get to see which artist ranked on the Top 100 of the 2019 KPOPREVIEWED Charts, where the song that ranks first becomes the ‘Best Song of 2019’. Remember this is decided based on the votes for Best Song of 2019 (50%) and the Weekly KPOP Charts that I post every Sunday (50%). You can find out by clicking here (hyperlink will be updated once the post is published).

[Album Review] The Dream Chapter: MAGIC (2nd Mini Album) – TXT

TXT is nominated for Best New Male Group and Best Music Video (for Crown). To support TXT, click here to vote for them and your other favourite groups before December 31st!!!

Now this is one very delayed album review. TXT returned back in October with Run Away (also titled as Nine & Three Quarters), which was featured on their second mini-album, The Dream Chapter: MAGIC. The main reason to why I held back their album review was due to the release of a few music videos during the ‘Album Review Blitz’ I did at the end of November/start of December. But I have since realized that I won’t be able to write separate reviews for them, so I will look at the music videos some other time. And that brings us back to their album review, which I will finally publish today.

The Dream Chapter: Magic Album Cover

1. New Rules – The first song on the album starts us off with a fun and vibrant sound, which I quite like. The instrumental has this retro funk that really gives it that fun tone during the chorus, otherwise it would have been a very standard dance number. But the song manages to keep the retro funk subtle, allowing the song to get serious. I also like the rock touch that the song has, which helped supply intensity to the song. The group’s vocals were good but the rapping was probably the bigger highlight, especially when it went low and almost whisper-like, giving the song a very intriguing start and end. (8/10)

2. 9 & Three Quarters () (Run Away) (Title Track) Click here to read the full review for 9 & Three Quarters/Run Away. (8.5/10)

3. Roller CoasterRoller Coaster is memorable, but it might only be so for a bad reason. All is good with the track up until the chorus. Everyone is saying it felt choppy. But to me, that piece was continuously looped. I am troubled by it, as it catches me off guard each time I listen to it and it does sound off-putting. Though, I assume that this was done for a reason. I just can’t see any reason that validates it. Some people have theorised that this was done to stimulate a roller coaster, but I don’t get this feeling at all. The vocal work in this song is pretty good, with it being consistent throughout the track. But that is the only thing good I can say about the track. (5/10)  

4. Poppin’ Star – We are treated with a soft-ish bubblegum pop-like through Poppin’ Star. It is still a dance track, but it’s extremely light and doesn’t pack any heavy synths in its instrumental. The group members sound more like their age in this track, innocent and very youthful. It isn’t anything special, but it was likeable and enjoyable. (7/10)

5. Can’t We Just Leave The Monster Alive? – Henceforth referred to as Alive, the track brings back the tropical house and island influences, a trend that has disappeared. Its presence is slightly refreshing, as it has been some time since I have heard this style (oh, what a break can do to you). I like the how the pre-chorus becomes light, before they throw the tropical/island sounds at us. While their vocal work and rapping was okay, I wanted more from this department. It gives the song a linear profile and pretty much made Alive feel one-dimensional. (6/10)

6. Magic Island Magic Island gives off an enlightening tone whilst dabbling in the R&B genre. It is the soft track, showcasing the groups vocals. I did like the huskier tone they incorporated into their voices, giving the smooth song some texture. The whistling in the background was a nice small detail. Overall, I find Magic Island to be quite different, given the fact that the group has been doing mainly dance songs up until now.  I would like to hear the group explore this sound, provided they don’t put typical sound destinations on their itinerary. (8/10)

7. 20cm – The group gets even huskier in 20cm, compared to their other tracks. They also answer my wish for further exploration of this side of the group. My first impression of the song was that it felt like a BTS track. Even some of their voices sounded similar to the senior group. While the song was soft and the instrumental being almost ballad-like, I really liked how they used to the vocals to build up the song. It allows for a stronger focus on the vocals and made the song so much more captivating. What the song needed was a rap sequence, which I think would have really suited this song. (8.5/10)

8. Angel or DevilAngel Or Devil returns the group’s sound to its more upbeat dance roots. The song seems to showcase subtle island influences in the background, but it overall felt like a typical dance track. I liked the fun and carefree vibe that came from the song. I also felt both the singing and rapping was on point in this track, bringing a slight hip-hop influence. It was also very catchy, bringing the album to a close on a very addictive note. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.4/10

The Dream Chapter: Magic Teaser Image

[Review] Run Away – TXT

And finally, it is time to catch up on some of these reviews that I have missed out over the last week. First up is TXT, who made their much-anticipated comeback with Run Away and The Dream Chapter: Magic mini-album on Monday. This is the rookie group’s first comeback since their debut with Crown and The Dream Chapter: Star earlier this year. Since then, they have released a few music videos which I have yet to review (this is my implicit way of saying that they will be!) including Cat N Dog and Nap Of A Star.

I try to keep my reviews as honest as possible. So I will start off with this statement. I wasn’t much of a song when it was first released. It felt a little too plain for my liking. But over the past week, I have been listening to Run Away (otherwise known as 9 and Three Quarters) a few more times and I am now digging the song. I now found it very catchy and vibrant, which was different from my original thoughts. The melody of the song and its instrumental are two draw points. The melody I find rather simple but this makes it easy to follow and hum to. Their vocals are good but not the best of the week. The rock-infused instrumental gives the song a little more intensity to what could have been a standard sounding pop track. I particularly like the music box/circus-like sound that trickles in during the pre-chorus. It gives a little quirk to the song that really made it even more unique. I didn’t enjoy it in the bridge, however, which I think could have been where they up the intensity to bring the song home. Overall, a pretty good comeback track.

KPOP has gone a long way. Videos get more and more confusing as time progresses. TXT comes from the same company that houses BTS and very likely share the same team that comes up with these complex and confusion-inducing music videos. It seems like the common theory regarding the song and music video is about escaping reality. It seems like the guys are considered to be the ‘outsiders’ as they don’t interact with anyone around them but with only each other. There may also be some hints towards bullying in the video. I think the most important element of the video is the door. The door at the end signifies a way out. Something the members could have easily take. But instead, they put it on fire. I don’t think it is meant to burn down the door but the fire is intended to block the members (The door doesn’t appear burnt and the fire at the start of the video continued to burn, causing little damage to the book). Why should they run, when they could be themselves and not care about others, which was what I think the video wrapped up on. Though there are some things I still unsure about. There are some theory videos floating on the internet which may be of some interest. Overall, I thought it was a well-produced music video.

I thought the performance was a very strong and powerful routine, fitting for the music. I really liked the routine during the pre-chorus and the overall chorus routine as well. I do find it interesting how they leave Huening Kai to be the final member on stage. Not exactly sure what the intention of this is.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10