[Review] So Beautiful – UP10TION

As I was planning the reviews to be published this week (aka. the start of the catching up that I promised weeks ago), I realized I completely forgot about UP10TION’s latest summer release, So Beautiful. It was released last week and is the title track off the UP10TION 2018 Special Photo Edition. This is the group’s first release since Candyland back in March of this year. The group also recently released their Japanese comeback track, Chaser, which I will be reviewing later this week.

So Beautiful is a pretty cool song. Though it doesn’t have a strong hook that gets me repeating a certain line over and over again (like most KPOP songs), there is enough within the instrumental to get me into the song. The instrumental seems to buildup in a fantastic manner and there were sections which reminded me of Wanna One’s Energetic for some reason (the rapper’s section during the verses and the piano during the verses, for example). I really like the kick that the rapper’s part bring along to the song in the verses and during the bridge, which was my pick for the highlight moments of the song. The vocals were quite good as well but that momentum and energy wasn’t the same, which was quite unfortunate. I feel like if the song had a more stronger hook, the song would have been a lot more memorable.

The music video shows the behind the scenes for what I assume is their photoshoot for their photo book. Not really much to say here. Though, this is a song that could have benefited with some sort of modelling concept, as that is what I imagined after listening to the song for the first time. I am not disappointed but rather have different ideas floating in my head as I was listening to the song.

I personally do not know if they will be promoting their new release. While photo books are not promoted, Going Crazy was released as part of another photo book release and was subsequently promoted on stage.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.3/10 

 

[Album Review] Invitation (1st Studio Album) – UP10TION

After 6 mini-albums, UP10TION had returned to the industry with their very first full-length studio album, Invitation. While they have yet to release a hit since their debut, this high-quality sounding album seems to confirm that this chart-topping track is just right around the corner. So let’s get this album review going! Per usual, I have left the intro track off the list.

up10tion-invitation-2
Invitation Album Cover

2. Candyland (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Candyland. (7.7/10)

3. Target On (반해, 안반해) – Despite having a very standard instrumental, I think the song has potential to be a contender for the title track. Right off the bat, it suits the UP10TION’s sound. It had a great level of intensity and the chorus can be deemed as catchy. While I don’t have that much to say about it, I would return to the album to listen to this song. (9/10)

4. Finally (오늘이야) – In general, I liked the instrumental for this, particularly the drum beat. This pop song managed to showcase both the potential for the vocalists and the rappers of UP10TION. The fading out at the ended seemed a little force in my opinion. But other than that, its simplicity speaks volume, especially when we are continually inundated with EDM and more intense genres. And like the previous, it is another track that I would love to hear continuously. (9.5/10)

5. Habit (습관) – We have the first ballad on the album. The stormy sound effects do set the mood of the song, automatically making the song emotional. The start of the chorus was amazing and it is another ballad that has that swaying effect (which earns big ticks for me). The start of the rapping sequence was awkward but the rapping (overall) was decent. The change-up in the bridge was nice, while the vocalists got another chance to shine. (8/10)

6. Mixed Signals (모호해) – Opening Mixed Signals are some odd synths and a cough. And while it might be a little non-traditional, its uniqueness makes the song intriguing. I hope my ears are not playing tricks on me, but those some synths seem to play throughout the song (though very quietly). The song is perfect for hanging out on a Summer’s day. I particularly thought the bridge was cool and the drop into the final chorus made the final moments of the song pop out even more. (9/10)

7. Always (이대로) – Right off the bat, you get this cheerful sound from its uplifting instrumental. This makes the song pleasant and refreshing. Once again, the raps and vocals were on point. It features a catchy chorus and melodic hook. While the song does suffer from the ‘standard syndrome’, the group managed to nail its delivery very well. (9/10)

8. Superstar – I really like the ‘secret agent’ styled instrumental, which made his track feel quite cool. I also liked the ‘Superstar’ repetition at the start of the song (which was also played throughout the song). The chorus was also quite nice and it reminded me of a song that I just cannot think of right now. I think both the vocals and raps could have been more powerful, with some aggressive vibes fitting the instrumental perfectly. (8/10)

9. Love Sick – The song has this one guitar riff which I thought was awesome (just before the chorus). While we are also talking about the chorus, it was extremely explosive. I think the song could have benefited more if you listen to it with good speakers capable to inserting some bass into the song. I personally want to see a performance to this song and I think it is another track that could have rivalled the title track. (8/10)

10. Still With You (시간아 멈춰서) – This is the second ballad on the album and it is the one song that I am on the fence on. One part of me likes the normal pitched vocals, but I am not a fan of the falsetto vocals by Jinhoo here. Its effect is decent but it just felt pushy. Only the vocalists performed this song if I am not mistaken. And other than the falsetto, I think it was a decent track. (7/10)

11. I Need You (예고 없이) – I love the explosive nature of the instrumental of this track, which grabs your attention. It also is the one that features the rappers to an approximate level, who tend to be limited to a few seconds in some of their songs. And before you assume that I was not a fan of the falsetto songs here (I know, how contradicting of me), I think they were a much better match for the song. Once again, I would love to return to listen to this track, mainly due to its energy. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.3/10

up10tion-invitation-3
Invitation Individual Teasers (taken from Wishnote)

recommended red round grunge vintage ribbon stamp

[Review] Candyland – UP10TION

Also making their comeback this week is UP10TION. Candyland is the title track off UP10TION’s first full-length album and this comeback also marks their first comeback as a 10-member boy group, with the return of Wooshin. We last saw them on stage with Going Crazy in October 2017.

For some odd reason, when I listen to Candyland, I can’t help but feel that there is some barrier of some kind between the instrumental and the members. As if the vocals/raps were just laid on top of the instrumental and not incorporated into the song. I don’t think that is a bad thing since you can hear their vocals and rap quite clearly, but it does feel distracting. Talking about the raps and vocals, both elements of the song were quite good, particularly the chorus, which was catchy.  If this song was to be used to prove anything, it would be the solid vocal line and amazing rap line that the group can bring out. The instrumental is your typical KPOP dance piece with a funky vibe added by the trumpets used in the background. But there is something that makes the track feel underwhelming. The song has character (through the instrumental and vocals/raps) but I think it fails to deliver on impact. It just doesn’t blow me away nor does it leave an impression. But overall, it is still another great track from the group.

The music video looks quite cool. It seems to play towards a more seductive side of the group, with the solo shots coming off as that. Content-wise, there doesn’t seem to be much to it. However, I like the lighting and they used that to bolden the colours which the members were wearing. On top of that, I really like how the camera shots followed the dance move. It looked shaky but it made it feel more captivating at the same time.

The choreography for this comeback was amazing. I think it would have to be the best part of the entire comeback. The chorus, in particular, was quite cool to watch. It was intense and it went well with both the song and music video concept.

Song – 7.5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.7/10

 

 

 

[Review] Going Crazy – UP10TION

UP10TION has returned with a special mini album and the title track Going Crazy. They were last on stage with Runner, earlier this year. I am under the impression that they will promote this song but I am not 100% sure.

While the industry has been focusing heavily on the tropical house genre of EDM, it has been a while since we heard something a little purer. Going Crazy tackles the house genre and I think it does a pretty good job. The chorus is incredibly intense and it gives off a nice feeling when you listen to it. My body just wants to get up and dance to the music. And while the vocal and raps are quite good (you can hear it over the actual music and they don’t seem to be hindered by unnecessary autotune), the song lacks one aspect, a catchy hook. Everything else is great, I just don’t remember the song for its lyrics or its catchiness. And that isn’t the end of the world, just my overall feeling of the song. I really liked the pings at the start of the song as they made the song more intriguing. Overall, great song.

The music video worked in my opinion but I felt like the producer could have done more to it. It looks really cool and trendy. But the idea of these videos has been seen time and time again (when it fades between the members singing and dancing to the aesthetic use of props). Likewise, I am sure the flowers and disco balls have a cryptic message that I would never be able to crack  The black and white sets look good and the isolated colours do look bolder this way.

[Updated] This choreography is probably on the better ones out at the moment. The dance style was pretty cool (chorus was my favourite part), with all the members remaining in sync which looked even cooler. The moves aren’t impressive or mindblowing but the bigger picture made it looked amazing.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 9/10 [Updated]
Overall Rating – 8/10 [Updated]

[Review] Runner – UP10TION

UP10TION is back with a brand new song and mini-album, Star;dom. They previously were on the stage with White Night, which was released at the end of last year. The group is currently short one member, Wooshin, who is focusing on recovering from mental stress.

Runner joins the expanding list of song that are categories the tropical house sounds that have dominated KPOP waves for the past year or so. And while it does sound quite chill and laidback, the instrumental doesn’t really hype you up or give the song its needed buildup. Instead, it felt relatively neutral and this gives the song a more boring sound. That being said though, I do think it is okay. The laidback feel isn’t that common in KPOP, so it does have a refreshing feel to it. The vocal work does dominate throughout the song, which sounds nice when paired with the laid-back instrumentals. The chorus tries to be a little more dynamic, but it falls short. It does hook you in but it doesn’t hold you there for long. The rapping is quite good and suits this more laidback vibe. However, I do prefer a more upbeat and powerful vibe coming from UP10TION, such as White Night. This is different and this is good. But I don’t know if it is the track that gets them more exposure in the industry.

For a more active concept, the guys seem to have their fair share of sitting down time in this video. It makes me giggle. While the group does give off a more masculine vibe in the video, I can’t seem to get over a number of scenes of them ‘working out’ in comparison to the number of scenes of them ‘resting’. The video literally comprises of that and choreography scenes, so the video is more on the boring side of the spectrum. But the sets and the overall quality of the music video was amazing.

Their performance was quite cool. I liked how their hand movements matched the starting pistol used in athletic sports. I also liked their formations. Overall, I thought some of the moves in their choreography were original and different, which sets them apart from other performances.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 6.5/10
Performance – 9/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

[Review] ID – UP10TION

This is the fourth and final Japanese song review for this week. As mentioned previously, I will find time to do another four reviews for girl group releases in Japan. But in the meantime, this is my review for UP10TION’s official Japanese debut. The boy group made their official debut with the single ID on 8th of March this year. Their most recent Korean promotions were late last year for White Night.

Out of all the four songs that I had chosen to review, this one didn’t reel me into the song, like how the others did. That being said, the song was still quite good and was incredibly strong in its instrumental and the group’s delivery. ID is an extremely synth-heavy, with its roots in electronic and EDM. Some parts did catch me off guard at first, but overall, the instrumental sounded pretty good. The vocals were mostly covered with autotune, which felt okay. It wasn’t misused or overused in any way, like in other songs. The raps could have been a little better. The reason why goes back to why I felt the song didn’t reel me in. The song felt extremely slow. The song’s tempo felt like it was in slow-motion the entire time, which did take the energy out of the synths. Going back to the raps, the raps were done so to match the tempo of the song. To me, the slowness sucked the energy out of that as well. Another thing is that the song didn’t have many hooks. There just wasn’t anything catchy about or anything that makes me want to go back, beside the powerfulness of the song. I would like to know what the meaning for “Dirty Little Freaks” in the song is (as it was mentioned during the heavily autotuned parts and throughout the chorus). Anyone willing to share?

The music video follows the same formula of choreography shots and closeups. The edgy vibes and toughness were portrayed through the industrial and urban sets. Overall, the sets were quite minimalistic, with the main focus on the group and their choreography. Hence, I have decided to join the performance section of the review with the music video. Honestly, their choreography for ID was quite amazing. The moves weren’t that special, but together, the dance that accompanied the song was great! The group is definitely emerging a group to look out for when it comes to choreographies.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7/10

[Review] White Night – UP10TION

UP10TION is also another band which had a busy year. They previously made their comeback with Attention and Tonight this year. Now they are back with their 5th mini-album, titled as Burst. Their latest title track is White Night.

It’s one of those tracks, where you won’t get into it by listening to it once. Rather, it will take a few listens to actually start liking it. At first, I thought the song was boring and forgettable. But listening to it a few more times have tempted me on putting this track on replay. The EDM-infused instrumental is amazing. It sounds edgy, tough and strong. It sounds rough (not in a bad way). I liked the “Burning Out” start. That really caught my attention. Started the song on a high for me. The beat seemed to be diminished after that intro. But as you progressed with the rest of the song, everything builds up. I think the first verse felt a little too empty without the added layers in the instrumental present in the later parts. The vocals and rapping were pretty good. The instrumental for the dance break was superb as well. Also, everything seemed a little too fast. Maybe small breaks in the song (particularly after the first chorus where everything seemed to be placed side by side and almost sounded like a blur). But besides that, I really enjoyed listening to the track. Already replayed multiple times.

The video is a little confusing. But using fan theories (from the comments section of the video) and my observations, this is my take on the video. 3 friends (Hwanhee, Kogyeol and Wooshin) used to be best of friends. Kogyeol died in an accident caused by Hwanhee on the ice hockey, thus breaking the friendship up (Wooshin blamed Hwanhee for Kogyeol’s death). Back when Kogyeol was alive, he had a girlfriend played by Somi from I.O.I. After his death, the video kind of alludes to the other two friends competing with each other. However, towards the end, it turns out that Hwanhee blamed himself for Kogyeol’s death, and gave a puck with Kogyeol and Somi’s name on it and his dead friend’s helmet. I guess this is his way to trying to make himself feel better and supporting Somi through the loss. Wooshin, on the other hand, somehow jumps to the conclusion that his former friend caused the accident on purpose, so Hwanhee could be with Somi. Wooshin confronts Hwanhee and they get into a fight. In the end, I think Wooshin realizes the truth on what Hwanhee was actually doing. That’s my take on the story. They showed the beginning at the end and the end at the start and I guess that threw me (and some other people) off. It was a very intense video that seemed like a mini-movie. I think it is a really good video to watch.

The dance is amazing. They have returned with a dance that is fitting for the song. Movements looked cool and very sharp. The dance break was pretty good.

Rating – 8.5/10

[Review] Tonight – UP10TION

UP10TION made their Summer comeback with Tonight. They released their song back on August 5th and have been promoting the song. They previously came back with Attention in April this year.

Honestly not too bad of a song. It just isn’t find it memorable or that catchy. Sure, I will listen to the song, but it isn’t something that I would say I would go back to it over and over again. I do prefer the more powerful and strong sound that UP10TION is going for. This suits the Summer concept really well, even borrowing lines from top Korean Summer hits. The vocal work is solid and the rapping was okay (not their best). The instrumental does feel quite bopping but (and here is contradicting me coming along) quite monotone for my liking. I don’t mind the brass sounds in it, but it does feel lacking in many ways. It does have a more colourful and bright vibe to it, which is something that we have not yet seen from the guys. But then again, these Summer tracks are something that most KPOP boy bands do. Which kind of leads me onto my next point (and refer back to the top). It is pretty generic (i.e. every band does a song like this and the sound/concept becomes unoriginal) and bland. That contributed to the lack of memorability of the song. But like I said, if it was there, I would listen to it.

Can’t really bang on how generic this video is. Unless I think of some way to show the Summer concept without throwing in the pool and the guys having fun. But that is essentially what the video is and there really isn’t much to say in regards to it. Though, rolling disco balls on a sunny day isn’t that fun. The light reflecting off the ball and into your/stranger’s eyes? Isn’t that annoying? This is coming from a guy who squints every time the suns pops out from behind the clouds. Where is this going?

Dance is okay. The stages aren’t that memorable as well. They do use a blanket or some material of some sort on the stage. The start looks quite cool, but pulling your members on it looks too childish for me. The blanket itself is something that I would associate with toddlers, not young adults.

Final Rating – 5/10

Attention – UP10TION

UP10TION has finally returned. And this is my first time reviewing them. Wasn’t drawn to their debut song, however, their comebacks are really good and they get better every single time. For those who don’t know, UP10TION is a 10 member boy group who are under TOP Media, which houses Teen Top and 100%. They made their debut last year with So Dangerous and returned in November with Catch Me. The group consists of Jinhoo, Kuhn, Kogyeol, Wei, Bitto, Wooshin, Sunyoul, Gyujin, Hwanhee, Xiao. And yes, a review for this group is way long overdue.

The song is pretty good. Yeah, it is a bit boring, but what was released ended up sounding really good to me. It has this retro vibe that reminds me of some other Korean bands (not naming any, though), but it is quite upbeat. The song starts off soft, but as the song continues, it builds up (kind of). The song does have that monotone sound to it as well. Imagine a straight line. The song just travels along that straight line and there anything to make it deviate and make it sound interesting or better. Their vocals are okay, not amazing. The raps are pretty good as well, probably my most favourite part of the song. This song just doesn’t suit their group as a whole. Sure some members do stand out, but I feel like the majority of the band is holding back when they sing/perform the song. While I didn’t like their debut song, I could tell it was powerful and strong. This, to me, is the complete opposite and borderlines the aegyo side of boy groups.

The music video does have my “attention”, but I don’t think what I am going to say will be complimenting the band at all. I would like this video to be split into two. To me, there are two concepts. Cutesy boys who are happy to see their boyfriend and when they are dancing. Both look like polar opposites and belong to two different videos. One part I see really cool looking dudes who are dancing really well, and then the next second I see someone smiling way too cute and showing aegyo. Their acting is super bad and I think I would know some people who would disagree with me and say they are cute. I do much prefer the dancing scenes only in the video. If they cut out that colour stuff and kept the dance scenes in there, I would have paid a lot more attention to the video and gave compliments rather than my disappointment (such as above). It suits the song more and their image.

Dance is really good. They have always stood out for me in terms of dancing.  Everything in their dance is razor sharp, but also very fluidly. Nothing looks out of place and each movement flows from one to another. Their leg kicks over the members head is really good. I do have to mention this, but some of the members have this awkward facial expression on the stage and that does distract me sometimes, wondering why?

Overall, I think the comeback is great. They definitely get better with every release and I do look forward to what they will be doing next. 7/10

I do apologise for last night release. Last night’s review was meant to be released yesterday and that is what I tried to do. However, as I was writing it up near midnight, I think WordPress miscalculated the time and released on today’s date instead. I ended up check my setting today and found out I set the wrong time zone. I was still in daylight savings mode. Hahaha… Just pretend I released the review on Saturday AEST and this one is the review I released today (Sunday). I’ve fixed it, so I should release all reviews at the right time. WordPress will just record this 2 reviews  being released today. That is all. Thank’s for reading.