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

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


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


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

WILDSIDE – Red Velvet

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

Run Up – T1419

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

Epitaph -for the future- – TVXQ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True Colors Album Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall Album Rating – 7.6/10

True Colors Teaser Image

[Review] Follow – Yunho (TVXQ)

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

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

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

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

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

[Review] Drop – Yunho (TXVQ)

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

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

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

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

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

[DOUBLE REVIEW] Champagne + Rise As One – TVXQ

Another double review for you all. This time, TVXQ is back with a brand new special album. This is their final album for the next two years. That is right, they are enlisting into the army, with Yunho going in first and Changmin enlisting at the end of the year. However, of course, they did not want to leave their fans empty-handed and presented with a special album. This is like just a  present and received very little promotions. This time around however, they did not stick to being a duo (but the majority of the songs on the album are duo work), but selected solo songs for their title track. Yunho’s solo was Champagne and Changmin’s solo was Rise As One. Usually, I don’t review TVXQ songs, but I felt like I needed to this time around.

Like I said, I don’t review TVXQ songs that much. But this time around, I was drawn to their solo songs. Yunho’s Champagne is a really nice song that has a subtle party feel, with what I believe is some sort of rnb roots (?). He chose the song wanting to leave on a happy note and that is basically what he has done with this song. For me, this sounds like a pop song that would had come out like early 00’s. Back in the day. Hahaha…. Not exactly fond of his rapping in this song and also the bridge of the song sounded too mismatched with the rest of the song. The song is quite catchy (especially the “I only want…” parts. Honestly I thought this was such a great song. It is completely different from their past songs. They honestly should do more of these.

Changmin also has a great song as well. So it is not all praises for Yunho. I totally dig this song and would choose this song over Yunho’s song any day (Sorry Yunho). But why? The song has the EDM background instrumental to it, which I totally dig (I really enjoy songs with the “drop” nowadays). And boy, the instrumental sounds so great with the vocal’s of someone who is known for ballads and other strong songs. There is nothing wrong with the song. I enjoyed everything with this song from start to finish. The polished guitar instrumental towards the end fitted in well with the song. The song flowed so fluidly, I felt like I was floating away. Really did. This song has that effect of letting you float away into dream land.

Both music video’s were pretty cool. Yunho’s was still in a box, which is quite disappointing, but I really enjoyed it. There was some sort of story line with it, how he looks similar to the dude on TV. But then it abruptly finishes there and proceeds to go partying for the rest of the music video. The start with the many Yunho’s playing multiple roles in the one scene was quite cool. It also was meant to be for a comedic relief. There were also guest stars in the music video with a few people I don’t know. But I did notice Hyoyeon from SNSD. Changmin’s music video was equally as nice. It was shot outside (interesting…). It features no Changmin though, which was a disappointment, but the acting from the kids that did feature in the music video were pretty good. Though I don’t think that is a plot at all in the video, I really enjoyed how the scenes came together to tell (somewhat) a story. The cinematography was amazing.

There really isn’t much to say for a dance. From the looks of it, I don’t see much a dance from Changmin’s song. There is a dance for Yunho’s song but we really don’t see much of it in the music video.

Now, since the guys are gone for the next two years, what is going to happen to the band when they actually do comeback after their hiatus? How big is it going to be? It is going to be massive!!! But yeah, they will be missed.

Champagne – 8/10

Rise As One – 10/10