[Album Review] Love Pt. 2: Passion (5th Mini Album) – WEi

I am finally restarting the album review segment today after taking a bit of a break from writing them as a result of the finalisation of the 2022 KPOPREVIEWED Awards post. And with a break and the backlog that existed prior to the pause, you can imagine that I have a lot to get through. The first album to be reviewed upon this restart is WEi’s 5th mini-album release, Love Pt. 2: Passion, which was unveiled back in October of last year. This mini-album features the title track Spray (link below). It follows the release of Love. Pt. 1: First Love back in March of the same year and their Japanese debut with Maldives, which I have yet to review as well (but it is coming soon). So, let’s not delay the restart further and dig right into Love Pt. 2: Passion.

Love Pt. 2: Passion Album Cover

1. Moonlight – Starting off the mini-album is Moonlight, an inviting and wholesome pop number. It is the type of song that brings a smile to your face, thanks to the subtle sweetness that comes from both the instrumentation, melody and members’ vocals. I really liked the simplicity of the melody and I also really enjoyed the softness that the piano brings to the song, contrasting very neatly with the relatively heavier beats in this pop song. (8/10)

2. Spray (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for Spray. (7/10)

3. Higher Ground – Following from Spray is the impactful and powerful Higher Ground. It is without a doubt an eclectic piece with the multi-EDM, hip-hop and rock influences that make up the background, all of which comes together to create a very intense number. Personally, I did feel the choruses was a bit too shouty for my taste. But I do acknowledge that this helps increase the boldness of the track, which the members really did put their all into ensuring that Higher Ground comes off that way. (8.5/10)

4. ROSE – The oh-so-familiar Latin influence makes it comeback in ROSE. I really enjoyed how concentrated it was in the song. Alongside the hip-hop beats, ROSE actually comes off as a fun, cool and memorable number. The members did a great job of embracing the Latin flair, which makes ROSE an even better song. The rappers, in particular, really impressed me in this track. (9/10)

5. Special Holiday – More smiles are plastered to my face when I listen to Special Holiday. It is pretty much your standard pop track. There isn’t anything new in the song that makes me go wow, but I did like the cheerfully expressive tone the members brought to the song through their vocals. There was also a peppy energy to the song that helped make the stand out a bit. (7/10)

6. Umbrella (우산) Umbrella follows on neatly from the previous track with its softer pop approach to close out the mini-album. Relatively, it is still fairly upbeat and I can imagine an endearing choreography routine to the song, as a result. I liked the heavier prominence of the piano in the instrumental, which was a delightful aspect of the song. The vocals and rapping were very nice and felt quite wholesome. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.9/10

Love Pt. 2: Passion Teaser Image

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!!

As you may be already aware, I am currently on a break from the blog to spend some time with family and friends this Christmas. But this does not mean I can’t celebrate the holidays with you, as well. And I do this by sharing a whole bunch of festive themed songs that our favourite and beloved KPOP artists (and companies) have released this year.

Again, I wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays full of joy, laughter and the company of family and friends. If today is business as usual for you or you don’t celebrate the festive season, then I hope today goes seamlessly for you.

And given that from tomorrow we are in an awkward limbo state between Christmas and New Years (honestly, what do we do in during this period?), I will also wish everyone a happy new year.

See you all with new reviews/posts in 2023!

[Review] Spray – WEi

Guess who finally made a Facebook account! Click here to follow the page for new posts and updates!

With my focus on debuts for majority of October, I have been unable to cover a wide range of new releases in KPOP due to time constraints. As previously specified, I will be slowly catching up on reviews as much as possible. Today’s focus is on WEi, who made their comeback a month ago with their new single Spray and their 5th mini-album, Love Pt. 2: Passion. This is the first time we are seeing WEi on stage since their Too Bad comeback and their Japanese debut with Maldives earlier this year (yet to be reviewed, but will be soon).

WEi reverts back to the edgy and tough-guy sound of KPOP with the release of Spray. I find this to be a little disappointing, given that I thought WEi was excelling with their brighter pop releases that they have more recently released (i.e. Too Bad and Bye Bye Bye). While reverting back to old sounds isn’t necessarily a bad move, I can’t help but think that Spray fails to really standout in the current crowd of KPOP releases and ultimately feels generic. Spray definitely had the foundations to be a successful track and there was opportunities for it to go big. The producers just missed the opportunities to concentrate this song into something more intense and impactful. And I feel the instrumental could have been boosted had the producers opted for (or at least experimented with) some more interesting and unique synths, rather than the standard ones we get in most dance tracks. The short dance break after the second chorus had the right idea, with a slightly different synth as a central piece. I also feel like the vocalists could have left a deeper impression in Spray, had the melodies been more developed and provide a more memorable ring to Spray. I feel like their parts were underbaked and more like a fizzle than a decent ‘spray’. But as always, I do want to point out some moments within Spray that I thought were quite good. The opening and end of Spray had this low groan-like “Love“, which I personally thought was intriguing. The chorus had a good set up with the line by line switching of vocals and rapping. The “Spray … Spray” hook ended up being quite memorable in my books. As it is a more edgy type of song, the rappers really stood out strong in Spray. They were given a more prominent role in the song, and I was impressed with the intensity they had delivered. The high note also shows promise from the vocal department (just a pity that their parts weren’t as stirring), and I really liked concentration of everything right after the final chorus and just before the final moments of Spray (this was what I was looking for when I mentioned concentrating the song earlier). Overall, I feel that Spray could have done more in some regards to not be a mix bag.

When I thought of the edgy and touch-guy sound, along with the title, I instantly thought graffiti and an underground-like premise to the video, leading to an industrial setting. And we pretty much got just that, just without as much graffiti as I had expected. There also seems to be a bit of a story to the video, with the members running at one point from a machine (and then confronting it), and some contraption of some kind was being built/installed to blow something up. I am just not too sure of the specifics of the storyline. But it did look cool. Another thing that looked cool was the instant switch between dry and wet environment during the bridge. It goes well with the title and was probably the most memorable aspect of this music video.

The key point of the choreography was the spray can action they did with their hand, which I thought was clever and highly relevant for this release. The rest of the routine was quite good and intense. They did a good job of selling that edgy and tough guy concept on stage.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.4/10

[Album Review] Love Pt. 1: First Love (4th Mini Album) – WEi

As promised, the next album review here. And it is for WEi’s fourth mini-album Love Pt.1: First Love, which was released back in March of this year. The mini-album consists of 6 tracks, including the title track Too Bad, which also dropped on the same day of release of the mini-album.

I find Love Pt.1: First Love to be a fair mini-album. No knockout tracks, but there are a few gems on the release that I think should get recognition. I had the idea of bumping up the rating of title track for this album review, simply because Too Bad caught on and I enjoy it even more than when I first reviewed it. But I stopped myself, given that this isn’t the time and place to do it. I will consider it later on, to see if my thoughts on the song actually have changed and put it into a whole different segment on this blog. But more on that in the future. In the meanwhile, check out my thoughts on the tracks below.

Love Pt. 1: First Love Album Cover

1. BLOSSOM (피어나) – From the start of BLOSSOM, I thought the song was going to be more of an ethereal and atmospheric track. But it ultimately ended up being a soft pop rock track. Not the development I had in mind, but it was still a great track nonetheless. I enjoyed the softer tones of BLOSSOM, while the melodies and hooks were very satisfying. My favourite bit of the song were the pre-choruses, where that soft pop rock influence just creeps in to be more profound. Overall, BLOSSOM kicks off the album in a very pleasant fashion. (8/10)

2. Too Bad (Title Track)Click here for the full review of Too Bad. (8/10)

3. Super BumpySuper Bumpy is a bit of an oddball, in my opinion. But I mean that in a good way. I didn’t expect such a smooth and delicate pre-chorus in the midst of such a cool and bumpy synth line. The same comment can be applied to some of the harmonisation we get in the song. I do think the members could have been a bit more dynamic and bolstered with their delivery, just to give Super Bumpy a bit more of a oomph factor and to make it more exciting, on par with the instrumental. (7.5/10)

4. Know Ya – The sleek but subtly dynamic house-based chorus to Know Ya steals the show for me. I also enjoyed the sleekness and sensual vibe that comes from the member’s R&B centric vocals, especially in the chorus. The breathiness and harmonies were really on point. All of these components came together to create a low-key song. But in terms of execution and delivery, Know Ya spoke volumes to me. (9/10)

5. Bad NightBad Night tones down the mini-album, but it does so in a strong fashion. Bad Night turns to acoustics at the start, before a slightly softer pop approach takes over. I like the touch of brass added to the song. It is kept soft and light, fitting in with the overall sound of Bad Night. The vocal line really shown in Bad Night with their higher pitched parts in the chorus and harmonies (once again). (8/10)

6. Bouquet (꽃다발)Bouquet is this album’s ballad. It is classically instrumented and is a beautiful piece. All the members do a great job with their vocals, and the melodies make me sway along – just how I like it. I did think the melodies could have been a bit more memorable, however, just so the ballad can have more of a drawing point than beautifully executed vocals and instrumental. (8/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.1/10

Love Pt.1: First Love Teaser Image

[Album Review] Illusion (1st Mini Album) – Kim Yohan (WEi)

The next album review is for Kim Yohan’s first mini-album, Illusion. No surprises here, but it is also another album release from January. It features Kim Yohan’s comeback single, DESSERT, and four other tracks. Illusion is his first solo release since debuting as part of WEi. He previously made his solo debut back in 2020 with No More.

Illusion was a decent mini-album release. While majority of the song’s shared that decent description (DESSERT is unfortunately one of them, but I have warmed up a bit to the lead single since its release), there were two knock out songs on the album that I highly recommend you check out. Keep on reading to find out which two songs they are. And let me know if you agree with my thoughts.

Illusion Album Cover

1. DESSERT (Title Track)Click here to read the full review for DESSERT. (7/10)

2. SELFISH – Kim Yohan’s vocals is freaking amazing in this track. I am always in awe with his vocals in this track every time I have played Kim Yohan’s album. I really liked how he employs his deeper tone in this song, making himself appear mature and emotive. When it comes to the chorus, his vocals paired with the synth instrumental makes the main centrepiece explosive and nostalgic for me. I am thrown back to the pop tracks from the 00s with this song. His deeper tone allows for a flawless transition into rapping. SELFISH is an awesome song that I just want to go back to. (10/10)

3. BADBAD makes a strong impression from the start as it starts off with a slaying rap verse (and replicates a similar effect for the second verse). It is definitely the song’s strongest moment, and one I like reliving by the number of times I have been drawn back to BAD. The chorus is another strong moment in the song. It’s busy with the synth heavy hip-hop instrumentation and the hype/energy that Kim Yohan brings via the vocals. But it isn’t overwhelming and creates a stunning centre for the song that I am all for. I just wish the hooks for BAD were a tad stronger. (9.5/10)

4. Landing On You (저공비행)Landing On You follows a hip-hop trajectory, but is also playful and youthful. Unfortunately, I think Landing On You a bit typical and the whole instrumental feels a bit dated (particularly since it follows dynamic songs like SELFISH and BAD). Interestingly, I am not entirely turned off by Landing On You. It instead becomes a pleasant listen, even though Kim Yohan does hit it hard at some moments in the song. (7/10)

5. Star (반짝이는 별들처럼 나침반이 되어줘요) – Finishing up the illusion is Star, serving as the mini-album’s mandatory ballad. It is definitely soothing and calming track with a pleasant acoustic instrumentation. Kim Yohan sounds nice and dreamy, and I am liking the harmonies with the background vocals (especially at the end). I did wish that he was incorporated better into the song, however. There were moments where it sounded a bit awkward, with him and the instrumental not feeling connected, if you understand what I mean. I am also not a fan of the rapping. It distracted me from the pleasant nature of the song. But overall, a decent listen still. (7.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.2/10

Illusion Teaser Image

[Review] Too Bad – WEi

Last week’s reviews aren’t over just yet. Today, I will be reviewing WEi’s comeback track, Too Bad, which was released last Wednesday. It was dropped alongside the group’s fourth mini-album since debut, Love Pt.1: First Love, which appears to also be the start of a new series. This is the group’s first comeback since last year’s BYE BYE BYE and Kim Yo Han’s solo debut with DESSERT earlier this year.

Too Bad delves deeper into the upbeat pop side of the group that was previously explored in their last comeback by taking on more of a bright bubblegum-like profile. The repeat listens (well, it has been over a week since its release) I have given the song should be thanked for helping make me enjoy Too Bad more. Now, Too Bad comes off as pleasant and fun number to enjoy. There are a few drivers of this. Firstly, the melodies and vocals have this Goldilock’s ratio to it – not too slow, not too fast, not too heavy and not too light. Just right. The ad-libs at the end were just what the song needed at that exact moment and its presence was very much appreciated. Secondly, the lightness of the overall track. All of which contributes to the pleasantness of Too Bad. But to ensure the song isn’t too light, Too Bad also features some hefty rap sequences that do not depart from the pop sound as much. I liked this balance and allowed doesn’t distract from the true essence of the song. The instrumental was a nice mix of guitar and percussion, creating an enjoyable atmosphere that gives of Summery vibes, especially towards the end of the song. I guess Korea is heading for Summer very soon (as I am heading full speed ahead for Winter) and WEi is preparing us for that. The lacking aspect of Too Bad was the hooks. Nothing substantial came from it, and the song relied more on the other aspects that I have praised earlier in this section. Had the hooks been more pronounced, profound and memorable, Too Bad would have been a smashing track with ultimate balance.

As the music moved towards the bubblegum side of pop music, the members showed a sweeter and cuter side of them in their vocal work. And that, without a doubt, was also reflected in this music video. Usually, I would not have enjoyed the video as much for its direction. But the music video for Too Bad was actually decent to watch. The acting wasn’t terrible or overly exaggerated (though I kind of wished they were fanboying over the girl in a more discreet fashion/location and not like two steps away from her). It was also quite colourful, but I liked how they also incorporated a ‘dark’ atmosphere in this video as well.

I think the choreography was the element of this comeback where their image change became a reality for me. The cutesy vibes and youthful charms are turned on completely for the stage performances, with the members having great camera chemistry. The fun atmosphere was in full effect as well. The dance moves, on the other hand, weren’t anything amazing.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 7.9/10

[Review] DESSERT – Kim Yo Han (WEi)

Kickstarting the new week is Kim Yo Han’s solo comeback. For those who don’t know Kim Yo Han, he currently the leader of WEi (a six member male group under Oui Entertainment) and is a former member of the short-lived X1 project group formed via Produce X 101. He is also an actor, currently known for the recently ended School 2021 drama. On the music front, Kim Yo Han made his solo debut a month prior to his debut as part of WEi with No More back in 2020. Today, Kim Yo Han returns with the mini-album Illusion and title track, DESSERT.

Kim Yo Han’s return is a more track when compared to No More. That one I was not much of a fan of. As for DESSERT, I feel that it fairs a bit better. However, reading over my review of No More, I can’t help but notice that a few elements of his solo debut track were also brought over into DESSERT, namely his vocals. I still find them dry and bland in DESSERT as per my main gripe about his solo debut track. They just don’t excite me, nor provide much expression or character to the song. There was a bit of amplification for the chorus. And while I did enjoy the pop melody here, I am still of the opinion that more can be done on the vocal front for this song. The bridge was interesting, with Kim Yo Han playing towards his strength here. Instead of a usual high note as per most KPOP songs, he instead opts to fade his vocals out. It isn’t spectacular, but it different aspect to other songs which I had noticed, and made the relaunch into the final chorus satisfying. As for DESSERT‘s instrumentation, I felt that it was too mainstream and safe – not really offering more than other KPOP dance tracks. However, I do appreciate the funky touch it had, which helped make the song a bit more appealing to my ears. This really helped pull me through the song and made DESSERT‘s centrepiece a bit more enjoyable. Once again, Kim Yo Han’s rapping was the song’s best part and pairing it with the funky nature of the instrumental was wonderful. Overall, DESSERT is a step in the right direction but still doesn’t show Kim Yo Han off as much.

Like the song itself, the music video and overall concept for this comeback takes on a much darker concept than when we last saw him as a solo artist. The mysterious vibes at the start of the video really pulled me, and I naturally wanted to find out what happens in the video. In the music video, we see Kim Yo Han tied up and undergo a transformation from pure to dark. At one point in the music video, we see Kim Yo Han take a bite of an apple, representation of the forbidden fruit, which caused the transformation. The forbidden fruit in this video represents the irresistible love in which Kim Yo Han likens to dessert in the lyrics. It is a topic that has been approached by many concepts in the past, but it is interesting to see how different companies and groups portray the story. And I feel like this music video did it clearly and well, whilst also using a lot of red.

The performance has a sensual tinge to it, which made the performance interesting and kept me around for the whole performance. Some of Kim Yo Han’s facial expressions were also on point. I also liked the laidback vibes that I also got from the performance, which were well incorporated and helps makes it more alluring.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.5/10

[Review] Bye Bye Bye – WEi

Time to start reviewing the releases from this week that I have missed. First up this weekend is WEi, who made their comeback on Wednesday with Bye Bye Bye. The new song is the lead single from WEI’s third mini-album, Identity: Action. This is the group’s second comeback of the year, following February’s All or Nothing comeback.

Bye Bye Bye continues the influx of Summery tracks this week, by pushing WEi into the pop realm. It is a departure from WEi’s previous high octane and intensity driven sound that they had returned with at the start of the year. The minimal use of synths in this song allows us to hear the members in a more melodic and clearer fashion. Bye Bye Bye starts off with rhythmic guitar, before bringing in percussion that adds a bit of bounce into the verse. It isn’t the most innovative instrumental mix. But I quite like its simplicity and upbeatness. For the most part, the track doesn’t stray away from this sound profile and stay quite consistent throughout. There are appropriate changes along the way to allow us to differentiate between certain parts of the song (i.e. like in the chorus, we get a bit more percussion to amplify the central part of the song), but it isn’t a significant or wild change that breaks up or redirect the flow of the song into something different. You might think I am going to say it is boring, as a result of the consistency (which is something I do tend to bring up). But instead, I think Bye Bye Bye benefits from this. Throughout the verses and choruses, there was this strong stylish and refreshing vibe to the music thanks to the guitar work that is constantly in the background. To help prevent the song from falling into the bad side of consistency, the rappers really gave the song a much needed kick that felt suitable for the song. It was all done over similar or the same instrumentation as the rest of the song. Bye Bye Bye also has catchy hooks, such as the repetition of the song’s title, which helps make the new song even more memorable. If I were to be critical, I felt that the song could have been more vibrant during the chorus, especially in the final one. I think some vibrancy would have really lifted the song up to a whole new level and allow Bye Bye Bye to end off in a more spectacular note. But overall, Bye Bye Bye was a pleasant listen that really feels just right for the Summer season.

While the song missed that tinge of vibrancy, the music video that accompanies the release of Bye Bye Bye was very vibrant, in the sense it had a lot of colour. I really like how the music video looks really stylish, and isn’t necessarily an explosion or mess of various colours. It all felt well balanced and bright. The song is all about letting go of your worries. And the members do this in a literal sense, by performing a disappearing act to another country. The newspaper and milk carton had pictures of the group and captions/headings that labelled them missing. I wonder what worries they had to make such a decision to say ‘Bye Bye Bye‘ like that.

For the performance aspect of the performance, I thought Bye Bye Bye had a good routine. As expected there was a lot of waving throughout the performance. What I also really like was the footwork when it came to the chorus. It looks cool and felt very suitable for the refreshing guitar work in the song’s central part.

Song – 8.5/10
Music Video – 8/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.3/10

[Album Review] Identity: Challenge (2nd Mini Album) – WEi

Teaser image of WEi for their Identity: Challenge mini-album release

Another album from February makes it way onto the blog. I think I got one more coming your way from the second month of the year (despite us being in the fourth month already). But that will be published tomorrow or next week. For now, I turn my focus to WEi, who released their second mini-album and first comeback on the 24th of February. The mini-album is titled Identity: Challenge, and features the title track All or Nothing. In addition to the title track, the album also features an additional four new songs. This comeback comes after the six-member male group under OUI Entertainment made their debut with Twilight and Identity: First Sight in October of last year.

Identity: Challenge Album Cover

1. All or Nothing (모 아님 도)Click here to read the full review for All or Nothing. (9/10)

2. Breathing Breathing follows All or Nothing by delving into EDM. It isn’t as intense as the title track (that was on a whole different level), but Breathing still has that heft to it which I thoroughly enjoyed. Obviously, Breathing’s intensity is not only reflected in the instrumentation. Time and time again, I have made a wish that the rappers should really match the energy of the instrumentation. Dahyeon and Yongha (WEi’s resident rappers) live up that expectation and delivery a smashing sequence that forms part of the bridge. The other members match the intensity with their powerful vocals, which were needed to be heard over the synths and percussion that dominated the background of some parts. The song’s main flaw was its straightforward and no-nonsense approach. Great on many levels, but it resulted in a bit of plainness for me. (9.5/10)

3. Dancing in the Dark – Once again, their next track taps into the EDM realm once again. And like Breathing, it is less intense than its preceding track. I really enjoyed how much the EDM instrumentation really emphasized percussion, giving it a really satisfying glow. Usually, the main driver of an EDM is its synths. But the percussion really made the song stand out for me. I also really liked the peaks of the EDM in Dancing in the Dark, which further adds to that satisfaction. While the vocals and rapping were powerful enough to be heard and definitely reflected that intensity, it all felt like a blur to me as nothing really felt memorable. I was more in tuned with the instrumental, rather than the members. I wished the hooks and melodies were more prevalent and grabbing. (8/10)

4. Diffuser Diffuser moves away from WEi’s reliance on EDM, opting for something leaning more towards pop. That being said, synths still made up most (if not all) of the instrumentation. It was pleasant and nice, but I don’t have much else to say about it. I felt the pop was more reflected in the ways the members delivered their lines. All the members really shined throughout the song with their sweeter and toned-down vocals. You could also sense a smile behind their vocals, which is a whole different side to the members when you compare this song to the title track. (7/10)

5. Winter, Flower (겨울, 꽂) – No KPOP album is complete without the mandatory ballad and Winter, Flower serves as that track for WEi. It closes the album with a style that very different to the way they opened this mini-album. The background of the Winter, Flower is a traditional orchestra styled instrumental. To me, Winter, Flower is a massive success as it shows that the members are highly capable of different styles. The vocals sound so nice and very powerful. In some ways, it was quite striking. Even the rappers did amazing on the vocal front for this song. (8.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

Teaser image of WEi for their Identity: Challenge mini-album release
Identity: Challenge Teaser Image

[Review] All Or Nothing – WEi

Next up on the comeback list for this week is WEi with their first comeback since debut and new single, All Or Nothing. This is featured on the group’s second mini-album, Identity: Challenge. If you are unfamiliar with the this group, they are a six-member male group under Oui Entertainment. They kicked their careers off with their single, Twilight in October of last year. Other than that, there really isn’t much else to say in terms of an introduction for this review, so let’s just move onto the sections to why we are here.

If you were to put Twilight and All Or Nothing together side by side, you wouldn’t be able to guess that the two songs are by the same group. All Or Nothing is many more times aggressive, abrasive and powerful than their debut track. If you look back on my review for their debut single, I mentioned that the song underwhelmed because it lacked ‘heft or load’. Well, I am happy to report that all the heft and load that should have been in Twilight somehow made its way into All Or Nothing. They really went for it and it definitely impressed me. To some, the use of this blastful energy and noisy synth work could be overwhelming. But for me, this is what I am looking for. The song taps into a hybrid trap motif, bringing a lot of texture and vibration to the song. There was also an exotic influence to the instrumentation. It was very subtle in the chorus, but made explicit in the second verse. I really enjoyed that even though the song started off quite abrasive and aggressive, it built upon that initial feeling in a very satisfying manner. By the end of the song, I was heading banging along to the music – always a great feeling. I do have to note that this song doesn’t bring anything new to the table. But it is definitely an upgrade, in terms of appeal, from their previous work. The high intensity also gives the rappers of the group an opportunity to really shine. They really showed off their skillset and showed us that they should not be messed around with their deliveries. The vocalists did a fine job themselves when given the opportunity. They had to give us some powerful vocals to be heard over the instrumentation, but this didn’t affect the quality of their sequence. Overall, All Or Nothing really captures your attention with its energy and holds a lot of promise for WEi’s future.

The music video for this comeback looks really good. Some of the sets had this really edgy style to them, like Daehyeon’s hallway that is lined with guns and Dong Han’s cliff (mainly due to the angle at which the camera was shooting at). Other sets like Junseo’s golden room and Yohan’s couch were a bit of a let down. I wished the producers thought of something more original with those members’ scenes. I really like the industrial profile of the choreography sets and that they used a lot of flashing lights to match the music style. Aside from the usage of the typical formula as I just outlined, the music video does its job well and compliments the song as a whole.

The relentlessness and intensity of the song makes this one tiring performance. And to pull it off whilst performing live would be an amazing feat. For their showcase, they do just that. So props to them for nailing the performance. I really like the fast paced nature of the first sequence in the chorus, It was also quite satisfying to experience the aggressiveness of the dance as the song drew to a close (as the music pushes the members one more time with an intense closer).

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

[Album Review] IDENTITY: FIRST SIGHT (1st Mini Album) – WEi

The album review that was supposed to be posted yesterday was meant to be WEi’s debut mini-album, IDENTITY: FIRST SIGHT. The mini-album features Twilight as the lead title track and four other side tracks – some of which were composed by the members themselves. The reason why I decided to review this particular album is because it establishes WEi’s presence in the industry in a very consistent manner. While I have mentioned that consistency can be a flaw in other reviews in the past, there have been times where I have praised consistency, with this album (and its songs) being another example of those times. There is a spin at the end of this mini-album, so keep you ears peeled for that.

Identity: First Sight Album Cover

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

2. DOREMIFADOREMIFA instantly has a chirpier vibe than compared to the title track. I feel that that DOREMIFA is quite similar to Twilight already in terms of style, so they aren’t really reinventing themselves with this song. I just enjoyed the song’s brighter persona, which fits in with the group’s youthfulness (since they are a newly debuted group). It also takes on board a more electronic synth approach with its instrumentation, which always has a tinge of refreshment. Like how they aren’t reinventing themselves, the song doesn’t really feature anything that might surprise you or catch you guard. It is straightforward and pleasant overall. (7.5/10)

3. Timeless (꼬리별) – Once again, they really don’t show a new side to themselves character or music-wise. It still has that bright energy that makes you smile / sounds like they smiling and it takes on a typical pop ballad sound. But what I really enjoyed in Timeless was the chorus. As a package, it was super catchy and the melody they used really memorable for me. I really like their display of vocals (that falsetto at the end of the bridge was perfect) and the rapping impressed me. I liked the instrumentation for the same pleasantry and enjoyable reasons above. The combination of the synths and the piano works really well and helps convey the happiness of finally being with their lover. (9/10)

4. Hug You (안고 싶어)Hug You is similar to Timeless in the sense that it falls within the pop realm. There honestly isn’t much of a difference between the two songs if you were to glance briefly throughout the tracklist. What does set Hug You apart from the preceding track is the drop in the chorus, which enables the song to become more a dance track for a brief moment. It isn’t a new dynamic in KPOP, but it helps gives the song momentum and some heft to it. Hug You does a really good job of portraying WEi’s vocals once again. They were solid vocals and that high note that the end is icing on the Hug You cake. The rapping was also quite good, but the vocals have the edge. Overall, Hug You continues to keep the album consistent thus far and does a pretty good job to impress. (9/10)

5. Fuze (도화선) – So far, the album has been quite consistent in the song style, vibes and artist profile. We haven’t seen anything ‘different’ from the group over the past four songs. Interestingly, Fuze attempts to change this dynamic by opting for a dance track that has power, edge and intensity. And this can be applied for all elements (melodies, vocals, rapping and instrumental). It isn’t really be groundbreaking if you were to compare it to other male groups. But it is definitely a nice change up given their consistent sound so far. I really liked the abrasiveness of the EDM, how suited the rappers were for this style, the soaring nature of the vocals in the chorus and how the energy just doesn’t let up. Fuze really a powerful and dominant tone that puts a spin on WEi and their music, keeping the excitement up for their future releases. (9.5/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.4/10

[Review] Twilight – WEi

Also kicking off the week alongside SF9 (and a few other releases) is a newcomer. Making their debut today with Twilight and the mini-album Identity: First Sight is WEi. This is a six-member male group under OUI Entertainment. The lineup is quite remarkable as most member have previously debuted already in some capacity. The six members are: Jang Dae Hyun (current soloist and former member of Rainz), Kim Dong Han (current soloist and former member of JBJ), Kim Yo Han (current soloist and former member of X1), Yoo Yong Ha (former member of 1THE9), Kang Seok Hwa and Kim Jun Seo (former member of 1THE9). Each member also hails from either Produce 101 series, YG’s MIXNINE and MBC’s Under Nineteen. Quite an extensive resume and definitely something worth getting excited for.

Not sure about you but I had expected something with more heft or load for their debut track. I just feel that the song underwhelms at first impression, when it should of had a greater impact as you would want for the debut track. I am a little hesitant to say that the song is lackluster overall at this stage, considering that I do have a feeling that the song might end up catching on down the road (more on that in a second). Aside from first impressions, Twilight does manage to showcase potential behind this new group. I did think the vocals were solid (the ‘tu dududu‘ are probably my favourite parts) and the rapping provided some much needed oomph to the song. However, I do think the vocals could have been enhanced with some punchier lines and much stronger melodies. For the playful pop instrumental, the lightness of the song is both a flaw and a strength. I have already mentioned the flaw caused by the lightness (i.e. my opening sentiment of the song). However, the lightness does make the song feel comfortable and pleasant on the ears. That inkling of Twilight potentially growing on me presents itself through the whistles that form part of the instrumentation. I am unsure why they would have such an effect, but it is something that I personally have been going back for. The heavy thumping is also a strong point, providing some of that heft I wanted more of. The acoustic guitars in the bridge were quite nice and helped clear the board to make the final chorus a little more dramatic. Overall, Twilight is a decent debut track. There are some concerns that I have, but who knows if they will even be a thing after more replays of Twilight.

Aside from adopting the typical choreography and closeup formula, the music video features pretty cool set designs that really lifts up the quality of the video. But other than adding a level of coolness to the video, there really isn’t much else to the music video. To say that they help make the music video more captivating will be a reach. There was one standout setting for me. It went to that one particular setting they used twice – a twilight style of lighting and a night-time style of lighting. The difference between them is night and day (pun intended) and each brings a different dynamic. However, I am not sure if it is a rooftop of a building or a stage within a studio.

I noticed during their showcase that some members were holding onto their belts/hand their hands in their pockets, whilst others didn’t. I don’t think that was due to any injuries, as all arms were used in some capacity throughout the performance. It might just have been a consistency issue, which should be rectified to make the performance look slightly more polished. But other than that, it was a good routine. It went intense at the right moments, but quickly reverted back to something that feels more fitting for the rest of the song. I particularly like how much energy they put into their final chorus, which was the best part for me.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 7.2/10

[Double Review] Refresh + I Believe – Zico & Kang Daniel / Bae Jin Young & Kim Yo Han

For the first time ever, I am putting together two songs by two different sets of artists into a double review format. For today’s double review, I will be focusing on Zico and Kang Daniel’s collaboration, Refresh, and Bae Jin Young and Kim Yo Han’s collaboration, I Believe. The reason why I am group these two songs together is because they form part of the 2020 Pepsi and Starship collaboration, which has been occurring lately. Refresh was released back in April of this year for the For The Love of Korea part of the collaboration, while I Believe was released two weeks ago as part of the Heritage Project part of the collaboration. The four artists join a long list of other popular KPOP artists who have participated in the Pepsi and Starship collaboration, including Eunha and Ravi, Ong Seong Woo, and Hongbin and Hyungwon.

Not only does Refresh features the likes of both Zico and Kang Daniel, the song is also co-produced by Steve Aoki. That in itself means that this is a pretty star-studded lineup for a two and half minute song. Both Kang Daniel and Zico sings during the verses, with Zico adding some raps to the song later on in the second verse. These parts were decent, but they don’t really scream out Zico or Kang Daniel in any way. The pre-chorus hook was pretty decent as it gives the song some life and memorability, before dropping a half squeaky and half screechy type of synth in the chorus. Not really the most likeable synth out there, but it has its charm. The saving grace of Refresh is the heavy thumping bass. It probably shows how easily you can satisfy me, but the thumping really added momentum to Refresh for me and accented the right parts at the right times for me.

I Believe is actually a remake of a ballad OST by Shin Seung Hoon, which was released for My Sassy Girl (who remembers this movie?). Bae Jin Young and Kim Yo Han’s version gives it a trendy and fun retro spin, featuring a heavy amount of 80s synthesizer in its instrumental. I have no issues with this style as the instrumental brought a smile to me. They keep the melody from the original and also incorporate some raps, which genuinely surprised me. The song ended up being quite memorable and catchy for me, thanks to the collaborative nature of all the song’s elements. Aside from all the positivity that I am writing about the song (and the positivity that the song brings), I have nothing else to say about the song (and this is a good thing).

For Refresh, the theme was loving Korea (i.e. it was the ‘For The Love of Korea’ project) and there was a lot of traditional influence in the music video. The production value for Refresh was extremely high based on the visual effects that were utilised. I think it was a very suitable music video for Refresh, given the concept of the project and the appearance of both Zico and Kang Daniel in the video. I also liked their outfits and the product placement of Pepsi felt light and suitable. Kang Daniel makes a second appearance in the Pepsi and Starship collaboration project at the start and end of the I Believe music video. While we hear a bit of the Refresh instrumental, Kang Daniel starts a game on an old arcade that segueways into the main body of the music video that features the actual artists of the song. As for Bae Jin Young and Kim Yo Han, the video depicts them having fun whilst alone. I like how they incorporated the 90s filter of a circular frame and the white-washed lighting that many might remember from 90s KPOP music videos. Even their fashion looks like it could have been from that era (though some of it has been modernise to fit the current 20s). I also noticed that both videos acknowledged current events, with a little nod to face masks and elbowing in place of a hug or high-five.

Both songs are quite danceable. However, only I Believe has a proper choreography routine. Based on the music video, it looks pretty good but isn’t anything impressive. The pair do put in a lot of effort for an one off performance and that really lifts the look of the choreography by a lot.

Refresh – Zico & Kang Daniel
Song – 8/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 8.8/10

I Believe – Bae Jin Young (CIX) & Kim Yo Han (WEi)
Song – 9/10
Music Video – 8.5/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8.7/10