[Review] Like Water – Wendy (Red Velvet)

Next up on the list of solo releases that I am reviewing this weekend is Wendy’s solo debut title track. Like Water is the title of her debut single and it was released on the Monday that just past, alongside her debut mini-album (which shares the same name). Wendy is also the first member of Red Velvet to officially begin a solo career in the music industry. She has done some solo work before through collaborations and OSTs previously, but has not been given the opportunity to promote a mini-album under just her name. This official start is also a return to music promotions for Wendy. For those who missed the news back in 2019, she was badly injured at after a stage fall while performing Psycho, which left her in hospital for a while. She was notably absent in 2020, so that she could rest and recover from her injuries. She did release some music, but nothing substantial. Early 2021, she returned as a member of Red Velvet for a SM Concert. But things have been quiet on that front since that major performance milestone for Wendy and Red Velvet.

I was not surprised when I realised that Like Water was going to be a ballad. Firstly, the title felt like a name you would give to a ballad. Secondly, as Wendy is the main vocalist of her group, it is typically the expectation that she would go down that route as many main vocalists have done before. But don’t get me wrong. I am not saying Like Water is like any other typical comeback. Like Water wowed me when I first heard the song. And that is solely due to the captivation spell that Wendy had me under with her vocals. Her high notes were flawless, enabling the song to soar to new heights. Another positive about the vocal department in this song is how clear and straightforward her vocals were. While it may sound like I am referring to that ‘typical’ description again, I actually in fact appreciate this direction. It is always nice to hear a release that is not complicated or overdone once in a while. And so Wendy’s Like Water comes at a perfect time for me. I also find that Wendy’s vocals in this song remind me of labelmate’s Taeyeon’s vocals (and that is a high compliment to give someone, given Taeyeon’s power and influence in the industry). The melodies in this song are so flowy, feeling like a natural water stream you would hear in a forest. What makes Like Water unique is the folksy instrumentation we get. It may sound like another typical contemporary ballad with its instrumentation if you simply take a glance at it. But when you pay close attention, you find that there is a fair bit of a folk influence to its makeup. And if you still question it, then the instrumental break we get about half way through the song should be enough to prove you otherwise. Altogether, Like Water is a stunning ballad that shows off Wendy’s vocals and marks the return of the Red Velvet member to the KPOP music scene.

The song Like Water isn’t an emotional one. Rather, it has a happy tone to it that makes you want to smile. (For those who don’t know, Wendy likens her love to her partner to the need and feeling of water in the lyrics). That smile feeling is shown throughout the video, with Wendy smiling whilst delivering her lines. One thing I liked about the video is how the video captured Wendy from afar. In many of those scenes where you can tell there is some distance between Wendy and the camera, you will notice they are pretty wide shots and there is a lot of space above her. To me, I think it shows how there is no clouds above her (which would commonly be synonymous with breakup ballads and emotional songs). There is imagery of rain throughout the video which make sense given the song is about water. But I find it smart to not include grey clouds (i.e. the source of that rain), which can be heavy and loaded at the same time, and this would not be a good fit for the video.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 9.2/10

[OST Review] 2020 OST Reviews – Part 3

It has been a long time coming, but I have finally decided to make a start on reviewing a certain type of song that I barely looked at in the past but have wanted to write about for a while now – OST songs. OST (otherwise known as Official Sound Tracks) have been a big part of KPOP. Many of the idols we know and love have gone onto being big name actors, whiles others have had to the privilege to sing some of the most famous tracks to some of the greatest drama scenes of all time.

I personally feel that there is a misconception that OSTs are usually just ballads, but I want to prove that wrong. Furthermore, there will be a Best OST category in this year’s KPOPREVIEVED Awards (hint hint). So I have picked five OSTs throughout 2020 to review and introduce to you here (and over a number of posts). Note that I have not watched all of the dramas, so I will be reviewing the song itself – like how I write my song reviews.


Crazy – APRIL
Drama: Backstreet Rookie
Release: 26 June 2020

First up this week is APRIL with Crazy. To me, Crazy would be suitable a side track on an APRIL album and I feel that it would go a long way, if that was the case. I really like this particular OST because it has such a really alluring yet simple melodic hook. It is super catchy and it is one of those hooks that I would dub as a ‘guilty pleasure’. It is a song that I am sure my friends would make fun of me for listen to it. But I wouldn’t pass an opportunity to listen to this song, no matter where I am! I also love the subtle retro influence that the instrumental has. The vocals do a pretty good job at masking this retro influence (not entirely sure if this is a good thing), but it is definitely felt heavily whilst listening to the instrumental version of the song. While we are on the topic of vocals, I really like their sweet high pitch delivery of their lines. It compliments the instrumental and also really helps bring the melody to life. I like the delicate touch it brings, making this song so much more appealing to listen to. (9/10)


Go Away Go Away – Chanyeol (EXO) & Punch
Drama: Dr. Romantic 2
Release: 20 January 2020

Punch and Chanyeol were a formidable pairing back in 2018 when they released their iconic Stay With Me for the drama Goblin. Now, they have joined forces once again for Dr. Romantic 2. This song features a really nice and soft instrumental, made of thumping percussion and acoustic guitars that closed to the song off really beautifully. The instrumental was decorated with Punch’s beautiful husky vocals, while Chanyeol brought his deep husky tone to the song via both his rapping and singing. I thought the rapping was interesting. I didn’t see it coming, but I am kind of glad it was there. It broke up the song for me, which make it more appealing. Otherwise, it would have been repetitive with the same melodies on repeat. It also brought an interesting dynamic. We don’t usually hear much rapping when it comes to OST and usually it is limited to one segment in the song. In Go Away Go Away, we have punch harmonizing with Chanyeol mid-rap. I thought that was really cool and different. Overall, Chanyeol and Punch really consolidated their position as an iconic pairing in the OST world with Go Away Go Away. (10/10)


I’ll Be There – Shownu (MONSTA X)
Drama: Tale of The Nine Tailed
Released: 15th October 2020

Shownu, the leader of the male group MONSTA X, is someone who don’t hear often from. He is a vocalist, but he doesn’t get much opportunity to shine in his group’s songs. However, his OSTs does. With this more recent release (actually, the drama is still on air), Shownu has shown off his vocal kills. Personally, I don’t see him as a ballad person and I felt that I’ll Be There proves just that. I’ll Be There does start off similar to the ballad, with just piano and dramatic thumping in the far distance. His vocals here already amazes me. But this first verse is just a false impression. The chorus reveals the rock influence and kicks the song up a notch. I really enjoyed the energy that came from it and felt that the rock twist felt more suitable towards what I know of Shownu. The second verse was similar to the first verse but has an extra beat to it. I really like the more texture and ‘rock out’ moment that the bridge and final chorus brough to the song. The intensity and peak was satisfying. I am glad that Shownu has this avenue to showcase more of his skillset. Now, it is time for a solo album from him and each of the MONSTA X members. (9/10)


Spotlight – Bobby (iKON)
Drama: Record Of Youth
Release: 5th October 2020

The rock influence continues in Spotlight, an OST for the drama Record of Youth. It is another recent OST release occurring back in October. It is also the first OST release for newcomer Bobby, more commonly known as a rapper from iKON. I don’t think many YG artists delve into the OST market, so it is interesting to hear that Bobby was joining the subindusrty. Unlike the previous OST I just review, Bobby doesn’t hide the fact that this has a rock influence. You could feel it from the start. It is a pretty consistent track from start to end, as a result. But what makes the song unique is that there is a bit of a Western rock influence to the overall song and I really liked how the intensity of the rock changes as we progress through the song. There is also a bit of funkiness to it, which I think is fantastic. Bobby’s vocals is very suitable for this rock style. I particularly enjoyed the more hoarsey moment in the bridge of the song. I also liked how he used the rock element to end of the song. The way it was dragged out felt awesome and was extremely satisfying to listen to. (9/10)


Two Words – Wendy (Red Velvet)
Drama: Start Up
Release: 15th November 2020

To wrap up this edition of the OST reviews post, we will take a listen to a ballad. This one is pretty significant, as it is the first Wendy release we have heard in a while. An OST was a perfect way for the main vocalist to get back into the music industry without putting massive stress on her body whilst she is still recovering from her fall back in late 2019 (though from the sounds of recent news – Red Velvet will be coming back in the new year). Two Words was a stunning ballad to listen to. It may be typical in retrospect, but it is what Wendy does and how she sounds that it really amazing. I like the softness that the acoustic guitar brings to the first verse. As the song progresses, both Wendy and the instrumental build up. More instruments are brought into play, while her tone builds for the chorus and to match the build up in the instrumental. I like how she starts with the high notes into the second chorus. However, her most impressive one has to be the one that comes at the end. It is definitely nice to hear her once again and I hope we can see her (and the rest of Red Velvet as a five member group) soon. (8/10)

[Review] Doll – Kangta, Seulgi & Wendy

This is the second track that I have picked to do a review for. As mentioned yesterday, I am taking some time to catch up on the SM Station releases which I have missed out on in the past few weeks. Today’s pick is Kangta, Seulgi and Wendy’s collaboration, Doll, which is actually a remake of another track of the same name.

For those who don’t know, Doll was previously released in 2001 by Hyseung (from Shinhwa) and Lee Ji Hoon. Interestingly enough, Kangta actually wrote the lyrics to the track as well. The 2017 version is performed by Kangta, Seulgi and Wendy, who all bring their vocals to the table for this song. I searched for the original track on YouTube and it seems like they used the same instrumental. But I felt the original was empty (but I don’t mean that in a bad way). That may be due to the original singers’ similar vocals, while the 2017 version had variations with the male and female combination.  And I like that a lot because it feels like the track has a lot more going through it. I will admit the song was a little dry, in my opinion, at the start. But once the song climaxed and each vocalist was belting their vocals out, everything seemed to click into place. Obviously, for the song to work, there has to be amazing vocals in the ballad and the trio delivered with that making it an amazing song to listen to.

The music video accompanying the release of the track is a recording of the live performance that Kangta, Seulgi and Wendy gave at the SMTOWN Live concerts. I don’t have much else to say regarding the video. Mainly because they can’t shoot a full music video at a concert.

Song – 10/10
Music Video – 7/10
Overall Rating – 9/10

[Review] Would U – Red Velvet

Red Velvet’s latest release marks the return of the SM Station project for its second season. SM Station is a project where SM Entertainment promised the release of multiple songs on a weekly basis for an entire year. The project saw never-seen-before collaborations between SM artists, along with other artists from other companies, something that seemed foreign when it came to SM. The project saw some big hits and some of the songs released were reviewed on this website, such as Rain by Taeyeon, Spring Love by Wendy and Eric Nam, and Heartbreak Hotel by Tiffany ft. Simon D. While I didn’t get around to reviewing every single song, I do hope that I will be able to do more reviews from SM Station project for its second season.

Red Velvet is a girl group well known for their more retro and upbeat based songs. On occasion, they have also returned with much slower and ballad-like songs. While this particular song does seem to fall into the ‘slower’ category, it is a nice mix of style between the slow and upbeatness. The instrumental is quite bright, and it makes you smile while you listen to it. The song uses a sweet melody that is hard to miss. The piano adds a more classical touch to the song. While it isn’t anything new or impressive, its addition makes the song sound a lot better. But the thing worth mentioning in this song are the vocals. The girls sound amazing. Sure, it isn’t powerhouse vocals, or none of the members is belting out a high note. It is simple yet still, leaves an impression on you. Their harmonies sounds amazing and probably the one reason why I keep on returning to this track. Also the “Would U, Would U” is unavoidably cute and catchy as well.

The music video features Irene and actor Kim Min Jae. The video is probably based on a well-known French story that I probably have no idea existed. Essentially, Irene has to find clues on where the mysterious man, who keeps on leavings these clues about. As she solves one, she gets a step closer to the man. I don’t like the video but I don’t mind it. It is very fitting for the song and the video does make you smile, as well. Irene is quite pretty too and she did look like an angel in the video. Loved the use of lights. I think the video was shot outside, but there was the use of artificial light. But the combination made Irene look like she was glowing and it made the video feel fresh.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 8/10
Overall Rating – 8/10

[Review] Russian Roulette – Red Velvet

Red Velvet has made their comeback with their third mini-album, Russian Roulette. Their title song is the same title as their mini-album. The girl’s most recent release and comeback was back in March of this year, with One of These Nights.

Interesting song. My feelings a little confused. One part of me doesn’t like some aspects, but another part of me wants to get up and dance along with the song. The first impression, I thought it was quite catchy and more of the Red Velvet style that I like. The second time around, I thought the song was quite choppy and would become annoying to listen to over time. Third time around, I just sat there deciding whether I like the song or not. And I am still deciding. The choppiness, which I was thinking would become annoying, was the charm of the song. The chorus was amazing. So catchy and it makes the song quite addictive. I love the 8-Bit sound as if this was taken out from one of those arcade games. The vocals in the song were pretty solid as well. Each member was flawless in the song. I don’t if my theory is right yet. Mainly because it is the song that I have been playing on the loop consistently for the past few days. Maybe in a weeks time, maybe never. But so far, I can say that I think the elements in the song come together quite nicely, even though I was never a big fan of the choppiness in other songs. The girls have put out such a catchy song that I think delivers the right form of Red Velvet that I grew to like in Dumb Dumb.

Certain parts of the video I liked, others I didn’t. Let’s start off with the intersection of the song and video. The song likens the game of love (well, when people fall in love with the same person, all at the same time) to the game Russian Roulette (the more violent game, of course). The video does a splendid job of showing us that, but saving us from the gore and consequences. I’ve read the video was inspired by Tom and Jerry (one of my all time favourite animations) and the video did just that. There a cat and mouse cartoon in the video, but it was much more interesting seeing everything occurring between the girls.  From throwing dodge balls at each other, to cutting rope that is attached to a fridge dangling from the roof, to cooperating with each other to cause a series of lockers to fall over, the girls pretty much have this game sorted. The video fits the choppiness of the song quite well. I love their blank facial expressions when they all turn to the camera and start lip-syncing to the song. Wait, I love their facial expressions in this video. Especially when  each other them put their respective plans into full effect. It gives you shivers.Those are just some highlights of the video. What I didn’t like was some of the close-up shots during the choreography parts. They looked amateurish and really showed a more “unpolished” side of the girls.

Which leads me to the dance that accompanied the song. Sadly, not loving it. There were a few scenes in the video that made it look chaotic and an eye sore. Watching the stages, it was a bit better. I liked the start of the chorus. I just thought that this time, there was too much going on and it kind of took the fun out of it.

Final Rating – 8/10

Rewind: March 2016

OMG. I am so delayed. This was meant to be out earlier in the month, and now look at the calendar, April is almost gone. I’m still tweaking this segment, but I don’t know if I should any thing or get rid of anything existing, so if you can provide feedback, it will be greatly appreciated. Lots to talk about, to let’s go.

Major News

EXO’s Kai and F(x)’s Krystal were caught dating and SM Entertainment confirmed that the two were in fact an actual couple. After this confirmation, people started to post pictures online as “proof of Kai and Krystal’s relationship”, which I think are either fake or just a blatant invasion of privacy (but what isn’t? They are watched 24/7). But some of these picture claims to have Kai and Krystal kissing in public in a pool and catch the two “checking in” into hotels. Anyway, while this probably heartbreaking to fans of both, we all should be happy for them. Oh and did I mention Dispatch was the one to tell the world about this couple (once again). Who are your reporters and why are they so good about finding these things?

And the industry has been rocked by news of certain singers suspected of being a part of prostitution, which involves dodgy sponsors. I am not in tune with the whole thing and I am quite sure that the news has died down now. It is very hard to retell everything here, so I will just cut to the chase. These singers either go or are introduced to these sponsors that will make an investment into the singers career, in exchange for you know what. That is my understanding of it, and these singers were caught. They were brought into questioning and the news (of course) leaked a description of a particular artist who recently left her company and faced financial hardship in the past. It is sad that people have to result to this (that is if they chose this path) or just horrible if they were tricked into it, which I believe of some of claim to have been.

Comebacks & Debuts

March saw big name bands make their comebacks. GOT7, Jun Hyosung (Secret), Lee Hi, Fiestar, Red Velvet, Hyomin (T-Ara),DAY6, BTOB, Oh My Girl and Eric Nam are just to name a few.

We cannot forget about the rookies can we? KNK made their debut with Knock, which it garnering a lot of interest in the band, and I am too.

Polls

A few polls (including the ones in Febuary as well). I asked you guys:

  • Which Winner song did you guys prefer? And the results is as follow: I’m Young (30%); Sentimental, Baby Baby & Pricked (20%); and finally Immature (10%).
  • Which Taemin song did you guys like? Both songs (Drip Drop and Press Your Number) received the same amount of votes.
  • Which Lee Hi song did you guys like? Hold My Hand had an overwhelming amount of votes (87%) and Breathe got 17% of the votes.

Top 5 Songs Of March 2016

Here are my top 5 songs that were released in March 2016, taken straight from the amount of plays in iTunes:

  1. Find Me – Jun Hyosung (Secret) ft. D.Action
  2. Fly – GOT7
  3. Mirror – Fiestar
  4. Spring Love – Eric Nam & Wendy (Red Velvet)
  5. Knock – KNK

As you can tell, review releases have decreased so much in the past month. I apologise. Just a heads up, I will be releasing reviews on Sundays Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays (provided I am free and have time on those days). The other days are far too too busy for me. I also mentioned on Twitter that once this semester ends, I will be doing a revamp of the site (much needed), so if there is anything you want to see, comment below. All feedback will be appreciated.

 

One Of These Nights – Red Velvet

Red Velvet has returned with a brand new album, The Velvet and a brand new music style. They had a very successful last year with their promotions of Dumb Dumb and Ice Cream Cake, showing the industry their mass following and popularity. A force not to be reckoned with.

Now, this is a ballad. I was expecting a dance track or something with a pop feel to it. This caught me (and probably everyone in the world) off big time. And I totally do not dig this style from them. I love them with a loud or pop concept, not slow and monotone.  It was flat and very weak from the girls. At least there is one good thing from the girls. Their vocals, while not be the most appealing to draw my attention to the song, were pretty good vocal work wise. Their harmony was pretty good. But that is all. Nothing else about the track I like. It was too slow and felt drawn out too much to listen to. No matter how hard I try, I get distracted when I listen to the track. It just had no appeal. The instrumental was nice and all, but for the most part it seemed like it lacked an instrument or two, to make it better and more appealing. As you can tell, not exactly keen on this song (more like I don’t like the song at all).

The music video was by far more interesting than the song itself. I love the concepts t that the girls have in their videos and this one is like no other. It draws your attention to it and makes you guess what is going on. Now, I am going to turn it into a serious topic and that above comment is going to make me seem ignorant. Someone has found a connection between the video and the Sewol Ferry incident which occurred nearly 2 years back. While it can be disputed, I read the theory and thought it was rather interesting. Do I agree with it? I don’t even know. I can’t decide. If is true, than the video becomes quite sad for me. But the concept is extremely smart and it would be  a video I would love to go back to pick out the details. If it wasn’t, well, damn, the video is still interesting to watch. If you have not read the theory, click here and decide for yourself. Do I still like the video regardless? Yes, it is a very interesting concept and it probably tells a story that we have all yet to see properly. But what do you think? Is it just a coincidence or is there really a connection with the tragedy?

Dance wise… I can’t watch the performances. I have this thing with ballads and dances. They don’t really go together. This song is far too slow and very “depressing” to listen to. A dance have never and might never pair well with the song. I think the girls look stunning on stage though. If that counts…

Overall, not digging the song, but the video has me going back and forth. I probably contributed most of the views. Hahaha… 5.5/10 (Most of the marks went to the video). 

Spring Love – Eric Nam & Wendy (Red Velvet)

A brand new song from SM station has just been released (but like last week). I am starting to really like this new idea (which I did have initial doubts to) as the artists of SM (who are not kept in their dungeon) are not usually able to collaborate with other artists unless they are within the same company. This biweekly thing that they have going on allows us to see unique and really cool collaborations with different artists. This time around, Wendy from Red Velvet and solo artist Eric Nam (both who have or will make their respective comebacks) have come together to perform such a nice song.

Actually, nice might be an understatement. But it probably the only way to describe the song without turning it into a EDM style track or make it seem like it is a totally another genre. Moving away from that awkward intro, it isn’t necessary the best song out there, but what we get is sufficient enough to please a lot of fans. Particularly those who have been yearning for a solo work from Wendy and a solo comeback from Eric Nam (all in due time). Their voices go well with each other and them together gives off this happy tune, which the song is trying to portray. The soft guitar sounds that make up 90% of the instrumental, with the other 10% are the drums to give it some bass and dimension, really do give off that Spring feel. When I listen to the song, I can just imagine singing it with my lover under the beautiful trees that are sprouting nice flowers. Wind breezing over us and the blue sky as blue as ever. And that obviously makes me want to smile! Great feelings from the song!

As for the video, I liked it. There is only one small complaint with the video. As I said I loved it, and these videos turn out to be very artistic. They are unique video with different transitions, that fit in well. So in this case, the pages flipping added a really nice rustic and vintage vibe to the video. Fits in totally well. But the one thing that did not fit in were the over-the-top and unnecessary effects that were added post production. Bubbles popping really did not need the effects of it occurring in cartoon form. Them playing the piano, we can use our brains that they are playing musical notes and not some farm animal sounds. It just turned what I thought was a great video into some kid like and just plainly un-needed. Rant over. Complaint over. Everything else was great!

Great song and video. 9/10

Unfortunately, I am behind with a lot of reviews. This one was meant to be released a few weeks back and they have been piling up. I am getting to them, just been so busy. Easter is around the corner (or actually right in front of us) and I will be using the week I have off as some time to catch up on these reviews.