[Review] BORN TO LOVE YOU – Kang Seung Yoon (WINNER)

The final act to make their comeback yesterday was Kang Seung Yoon, who returned with the single BORN TO LOVE YOU. It is Kang Seung Yoon’s first single since his comeback last year in March with IYAH. So it has been a while since we have heard from Kang Seung Yoon. We also haven’t heard much from WINNER (the group in which Kang Seung Yoon leads). This is partly due Jinwoo and Seunghoon’s military enlistment. The good news is that the group is confirmed for a concert in April/May, and a full group reunion might mean that a comeback is on the cards. I also remember reading somewhere that the members are keen on making another comeback before Kang Seung Yoon and fellow member Mino needs to enlist in the military. But nothing is for sure until it is confirmed. For now, we will have settle for a solo comeback with Kang Seung Yoon for our WINNER fix.

BORN TO LOVE YOU is another ballad to add to Kang Seung Yoon’s portfolio. For me, I found this ballad to be rather typical, which is a major disappointing following the likes of IYAH, which I gave a 10/10 for. It is also a bit surprising, since I do find myself easily enjoy many ballads quite a bit. There isn’t much to really captivate with in BORN TO LOVE YOU, aside from the emotional heft and passion that drives the song. You can feel the pain that is going through the lyrics of the song and his voice, which is all about the emotions following a breakup. This undoubtedly allows Kang Seung Yoon to sound pretty good and adds a boost in terms of appeal for the song. I also like the power he puts behind his vocals, adding some more heft to the song. But that is only one part of a song. The melodies, particular in the chorus, were nice, but memorable as can be with a typical ballad. What also dulls BORN TO LOVE YOU is the instrumentation. I found the piano and guitar to be quite good, simply because they give ballads passion and drive, and I felt that they complimented the vocals well. But the trap elements or drums we get in BORN TO LOVE YOU are on the plainer side and felt too dominant (relative to the vocals/piano/guitar in the song). Maybe if the song kept to acoustics with the piano and guitar, the song would have been more enjoyable. But as it stands, BORN TO LOVE is just another ballad.

Kang Seung Yoon’s acting is pretty good in the video. And that would be expected, given that he is an actor as well. But what drew me to this video was how his emotions that he put behind his vocals are portrayed throughout the video. It is quite heartfelt and emotional to watch him struggle on the bridge, with or without rain. On top of that, the relationship shots we saw were very convincing (from the good memories to the bad ones). I also liked the idea of the rain in the apartment, which contributed to the water in the apartment. Not exactly sure what it is represents, but I am guessing sadness and tears.

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

[Review] TANG!♡ – Mino (WINNER)

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Mino is back to round out the year with TANG!♡. The song is featured on his third solo studio album, which is titled To Infinity. Things have appeared to be fairly quiet for Mino, who we last saw during his Run Away and Take (his second studio album) promotions a year ago. He did hold a solo concert back in October, in which he performed TANG!♡ for the first time.

For me, Mino’s releases comes and goes. I don’t remember much of Run Away (nor his other solo songs) a year on since its release and have to remind myself by re-listening to the song and reviewing its review in order to compare releases. Now that I have done that, I can say that I prefer the likes of TANG!♡ over Run Away. However, that doesn’t mean I think TANG!♡ is the perfect song. There are flaws and there is still a fair way to go to reach that level. Of course, there are a few elements that stood out for me, namely the instrumentation and Mino’s rapping in the second verse. The instrumental has this slight reggae-like rhythm to its percussion, which was interesting. There was also a certain colour to the song that I would describe as playful and fun, even though I would say the beat was ‘paced’. But for the most part, the body of the instrumental was pretty much hip-hop. I also did like the addition of the electric guitars in the background, which also helped change up the song a bit by inserting a moody vibe to the song. Mino’s rapid rapping in the second verse also amazed me. It wowed me there, and was by far the most positively memorable aspect of the song in my opinion. The rest of his rapping in TANG!♡ was also quite good, and worked well with the pace of the instrumentation. Unfortunately, there was one thing that I didn’t like as much, and thought that it was pretty undercooked. The repetitive ‘Tang Tang Tang‘ chorus was not my cup of tea. It didn’t feel fulfilling, and I was itching for more. I guess it plays towards that fun nature of the song, but I wished it did more. Overall, TANG!♡ isn’t a bad song. But I wished the main centerpiece was a bit more teased out.

As for the music video, it was pretty good. TANG!♡ concept was a virtual reality one. At the start of the video, Mino is pretty much your standard bachelor who plays TANG, which is a love game. The game puts Mino into a few scenarios, where I assume he needs to win the female computer character over. In the first scenario, he is a cowboy who is dressed coolly to look the part. He throws out a pick up line, shows off money and dog and buys her dinner. But she leaves and gets distracted, which means he lost that round. In the second scenario, he shows off his money again by being a materialistic person, buying and wearing high end stuff. He also buys a whole heap of presents for the female character. But his dog gets in the way, and stuffs that rounds up! In the final round, he prepares a romantic proposal like situation, in which he gifts the female character a bouquet of roses and a massive teddy bear. But he is reminded that this game is fake, and she disappears in a glitchy manner. In the end, he opts for some real life interaction, where he sends a text message to a real like female to meet at the bar to discuss something. I thought the video was fun, and like usual, I enjoyed the post-production applied to the video.

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

[Review] IYAH – Kang Seung Yoon (WINNER)

Also making this comeback this Monday is Kang Seung Yoon, the leader of male group WINNER. It has been eight years since we last heard solo work from Kang Seung Yoon, with his last title track being released in 2013, a year prior to his debut with his group WINNER. Back then, he released Wild and Young as a single. If I remember correctly and as per YG Entertainment tradition, his solo release has been in the works for a number of years. But after a very long wait, Kang Seung Yoon has returned with the single IYAH and his first studio album, Page.

If we cast our mind back to Wild and Young, Kang Seung Yoon’s major solo release was a rock release. When news of his solo comeback was announced this year, I had expected something along the same lines as Wild and Young. But interestingly, IYAH is a ballad. Some of that rock sound is still present in the song through the use of the band instrumentation that forms IYAH‘s backbone. What was unsuspecting was the incorporation of orchestral instrumentation towards the end of the song. It just crept into the song without me knowing and delivered a really an amazing and powerful instrumental peak in this song. Complimenting the musical choices in the instrumental is Kang Seung Yoon’s vocals, which blew me away. He sings about growing up and maturing as he gets older, and you can hear that in his voice. To be honest, the start of the song felt very plain. But as it progressed and he built upon his vocals to compliment the building momentum in the instrumentation, he really sounds top notch. The best sequence has to be the bridge, as that classical instrumental comes through. Like the instrumentation, his vocals soar at the end of this sequence into that stunning high note. The use of the choir backing in the start of the final chorus and as the backing of his vocals right after also really tops the emotions that he portrayed in the song. His vocal melodies also tick the swaying box that I have on my list of criteria for ballads. Overall, while IYAH was not the expected release I had in mind for Kang Seung Yoon, it managed to surpass and be even better than what I had in mind.

The music video for IYAH shows us the life story of Kang Seung Yoon from a young age to now. We see him enjoy music from that young age to pursuing it in high school (where I believe we see him score that life-changing opportunity to participate on SuperStar K). We then see the pressure that he experienced leading up to his debut with Winner. The black and white sleeveless shirt and hat were his debut outfit. And we see him in the present performing on stage with his fellow members. Mino made a cameo appearance here, which made the present appear more clearer. From what I understand, fans and other viewers find this life journey and song very relatable. And I think that is the best compliment to pay this release. What I also liked about this life experience journey that is shown in the video is that it isn’t in chronological order. Instead, the different scenes and life stage are edited together in a jumbled manner. However, the scenes all interlink and the transitions all flow into one another.

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

[Review] Run Away – Mino (WINNER)

I definitely have a long way to go to ‘catch up’ with the magnitude of comebacks, debuts and other releases I haven’t reviewed yet. I just wished I could ‘Run Away‘ from it. Hahaha… Excuse my lame pun. As you can tell by that terrible joke and the title of the post, I am finally getting around to reviewing Mino’s comeback track, Run Away. The comeback occurred two weeks ago at the very end of October (apologies per usual for the super later review). It also headlines Mino’s second studio album, TAKE.

As expected, Mino’s solo comeback delves into the hip-hop genre. No surprises there. While his solo debut track (FIANCE) was more robust and had very unique flourishes, Run Away is a lot more straightforward and plain. There are advantages to plainess if I were to think of it in an optimistic manner, but unfortunately it didn’t work in Mino’s favour. I didn’t get much excitement from the song instrumentally and that is the reason why I didn’t have much drive myself to start typing out a review for the comeback. One definite good thing about Run Away is Mino himself, who’s delivery was pretty dynamic throughout the song. It is admittedly quite sluggish at the start. But from the first chorus onwards, his delivery has a bit more of an energy kick to it, which gives the song a bit of needed dynamism. His super fast rapping sequence in the second verse was probably the song’s iconic moment and it does provide a minute and limited wow factor. However, no matter how much energy Mino infuses into the song via his delivery, the instrumental drags down the song nonetheless. Overall, Run Away doesn’t have that pull or enticement to get me into the song and get itself an earlier review.

The music video leaves me confused for a bit. But upon some research, it seems like the video is showing Mino is running away from the painful memories represented by different scenarios (i.e. people turning into stone, water filled train carriages and a pixelated former lover pushing the artist away). Each of these probably have some sort of significance and shouldn’t be taken literally. The final scene makes the most sense, as that would be his most painful memory of all (i.e. his former lover pushing him away). The scene where the people turn into stone represents the sadness that has lingered around and ‘hardened’ as mentioned in the lyrics. The water filled train carriage doesn’t make any sense to me, however, though I assume this has something to do with the ‘alcohol mixed with memories’ he sung about in the first verse. Despite the mild confusion, I did like the overall concept of it, which goes nicely with the lyrics. The video also features Kang Seung Yoon ever so briefly at 1:38 mark of the music video.

There really isn’t much of a choreography for this comeback. Hence I won’t include a rating for it. Unless you believe that Mino stumbling around on stage as if he is drunk and a mess is a dance routine. Obviously, this choice was made so that he can focus on performing live and I respect this choice. There are dancers in the background with some choreo, but I didn’t think they were necessary for this comeback.

Song – 6/10
Music Video – 7.5/10
Overall Rating – 6.6/10

[Album Review] Remember (3rd Studio Album) – WINNER

The album in focus for this review post is WINNER’s Remember, which was released over a month ago on 9th April. This album was confirmed to be the final release by the group before the members go on hiatus and enlist into the military. Jinwoo actually enlisted a week prior to the album’s release and Hoony enlisted exactly a month ago. In the meantime, it was also confirmed that we will see the rest of the members focus on individual promotions before enlisting. Remember, the group’s 3rd studio album, is also the title of the album’s main title track. It also features Hold (a pre-release track), and four member versions of their debut tracks (Empty and Color Ring) and two side tracks from their 1st studio album released back in 2014 (Different and Don’t Flirt). These four tracks will not be included as part of the review. Let’s see how the rest of the album fared.

Remember Album Cover

1. Remember (Title Track)Click here to read the full review of Remember. (9/10)

2. Dduk (뚝) (Jinu Solo) – Jinu is a member of Winner who doesn’t get much attention by himself. I don’t think he gets much solo promotions and this solo track proves that he should have at least gotten something to celebrate his vocal ability. Dduk continues from where Remember left off. It is a ballad with a piano only backdrop. Usually, ballads would start off with just the one instrument and as it progresses, adds to the song to push the song along. Dduk doesn’t conform to this and instead keeps everything pretty much raw, which I thought was cool. This made the song’s melody, both piano and vocal wise to be really nice. You can feel a bit of emotion behind this song in Jinu’s voice, as he sings about splitting up. And I like how he ends each chorus with a short, sharp and spoken form of the title, adding a little interesting detail to the song. (9/10)

3. Hold (뜸) (Pre-Release Track)Click here to read the full review of Hold. (8/10)

4. Just Dance (막춤) – Continuing the more upbeat vibes from Hold, Just Dance has that wholesome, feel-good and fun vibe. It is a song that will make you smile and maybe get a dance out of even the quiet and introverted people. I can imagine a fun music video, similar to how Can’t Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake came to be. The instrumental was quite laid back when you think about it. It never really went anywhere. But consistency probably helped made the song appealing, as you don’t want this going through moments of slowness or have the instrumental stripped away completely, as that would just ruin it. If you took anything away from Hold, it is that they can insert an element of fun to their delivery. And that is what Just Dance continues on effortlessly. (9/10)

5. My BadMy Bad brings a R&B spin to the album. The background of the song seems refined and classy, thanks to the acoustic guitar that features in the background. There is obviously more to the instrumental to get to that point, but the guitar was the main standout. The rest of the song is built on the group’s vocals and a really smooth melody. And they sound amazing in this song. The ‘My Bad’ that features in the chorus (courtesy of Mino and Yoon) of the song brings out a hoarse nature to their vocals which makes the song sound so good. Probably my favourite part of the song. And out of all the members, Mino is the member that shines the brightest in the song. He shows off a great range in this song, switching between a deep tone for the opening verse and chorus echoes, and a falsetto for the pre-chorus. The other members do a good job in the song as well. (9/10)

6. Teaser – Listening to all the songs on the album, I feel like each member shines in a different song. For Teaser, which is a very heavy hip-hop influenced track, the member that shines is Yoon, who had the strongest individual part of the song (i.e. the ‘Baby You-ou-ou’ in the pre-chorus. Note how I pointed out individual. While each person has their individual sections in this song, I thought the combination of rapper and vocalist singing together gave the song some really interesting harmonies and textures. The interception felt unique and felt like a strong aspect in this song. (8.5/10)

7. WellWell is essentially a song in which the members wish that their fans stay … well. The song is quite upbeat, but it necessary doesn’t have that fun vibe. Instead, I find the song has that nostalgic pop vibe to it that felt like it was part of many male KPOP group’s albums in the past. I really like the hooks of the song, which consisted of the title of the song being repeated. I also like the ad-libs inserted for the final chorus, which acted as the icing on the cake. I feel like this doesn’t have a standout member. It feels cliché to say this, but all of them shined when they all started to sing together as part of the final chorus. This section just feels right for this song, adding further to that appeal to fans. (8/10)

8. Serenade (세레나데) (Hoony Solo) – By default, Hoony shines in this song as he is the only member in this song (same for Jinu in his solo track). Serenade encompasses what I think suits Hoony, though I will admit my exposure to him as an artist is quite limited. Firstly, he is a rapper, so I don’t think he would do anything like a ballad, which serves better for vocalists. But at the same time, Hoony never strikes me to do something hip-hop heavy, like Mino’s solo tracks. Serenade binds together pop and rock, creating an upbeat number for Hoony to bring his rap to (and consequently rock to). There is colour and definitely a kick in the instrumentation, which I thought was amazing. I find his rapping to be full of expression in this song and he inputs energy that helps consolidate that this is a perfect solo track for him. I do think he could have gone a little harder with his delivery. But overall, Serenade is a great track. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 8.7/10

Remember Teaser Image

[Review] Remember – Winner

One of the biggest hurdles that male groups/artists need to face in the KPOP industry is the mandatory military enlistment phase of their careers. This is essentially a two-year period away from the public eye. Winner is one of the many KPOP groups entering that phase right now, with Jinwu enlisting in the military just last week (and thus will not be part of the promotions for the group’s third studio album). Fittingly, the group’s comeback title track is titled Remember, as Winner has confirmed that they will focusing on solo activities after promotions for Remember end. More recently, Winner pre-released Hold a few weeks back in anticipation for their comeback.

Remember is undoubtedly an emotional track. When the song first started, I thought the group was going in the direction of their Empty debut. But instead, the song took a more ballad-like feel, very much different to what the group has ever attempted before. The song opens with a simple acoustic guitar backing. As the song slowly progressed, they added a little more to the instrumental, ranging from echos to drums to add some definition to the song. What did remain consistent throughout was the guitar, which I think made the song feel so much more sentimental. The second thing that is strong about this song are the vocals. I have never really gotten why Winner was nominated for their vocal performances in the past. I know they have really good voices. But I never really thought it was nomination-worthy. This song changes the perception. The instrumental can be described as a blank canvas (my analogy is back!). And their vocals, well, they paint a very touching and stirring picture on the canvas. Each member brings something different to the song and I really like that aspect in this song, as the group sings about not forgetting about them. Overall, a solid track.

The music video I thought was definitely very well shot. The member alone looked like they were experiencing the painful breakup that they can’t bring themselves to do (as they allude in the song’s lyrics). When the four members are together, however, they bring that sentimental feeling to the video. While the song’s lyrics were very emotional and tear-inducing to some, I do like how they weren’t just all sad or pained in the music video. There were smiles and laughter, which brings a bittersweet but reflective tone to the video. I also liked how they interlaced footage from their concert and survival show, WIN: Who Is Next?.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.4/10

[Review] Hold – Winner

No, I haven’t forgotten about Winner’s review. Winner’s latest single, Hold, was released on Thursday this week and I had somehow missed the news that the quartet would be releasing a single ahead of their upcoming 3rd studio album in April. Once I realized that they had a release (which was after I had published the Lie review for Favorite), I put Hold‘s review right into my agenda and Saturday was the first free day without a review. And now, here it is!

There are two sides to Winner. One is their more serious side, as we saw in their debut and in their most recent comeback prior to Hold (i.e. SoSo). The other side is the more carefree and bright tone Winner, which we have been seeing a lot lately (i.e. Millions and Ah Yeah). It is definitely obvious where Hold sits (i.e. carefree and bright tone). The cheerful vibes that the song contains do project on you, just by listening to it. I couldn’t help but smile upon hearing the song. The song’s falls under the ‘lighthearted hip-hop’ umbrella and features good level of energy in the instrumental hook. I liked how upbeat and loud the chorus was, similar to when you hear the right number of consecutive cymbals clashing in some songs. But it isn’t perfect sounding. The weakest part of the song was the vocals. The verses, where the vocals were most present, were pretty forgettable. If it wasn’t for the loud energy of the chorus, I don’t think the song would have been deemed memorable. The rapping just before the chorus was decent and gave the song some buildup/momentum towards the chorus. The song earn some major ticks, but not all major ticks from me.

The music video features Suhyun from AKMU, a label-mate of Winner. Known for her innocent looks, Suhyun plays the youngest member of the Winner family (with Winner playing her obnoxiously annoying brothers). In this episode of the Winner family, the brothers notice that Suhyun is dating/have a crush and make fun of her. She invites the guy over, and the brothers break into her room (whe the crush was there) to embarrass her. The video is shot in a sitcom like manner, incorporating laughter from the audience. As the song sounds, the music video is intended to be lighthearted and fun to watch. There is also some dialogue that points in that direction. Overall a great video to watch.

There is a bit of choreography in the music video. Though I am not exactly sure if it is the actual choreography. But given the nature of the song and music video, something simple and entertaining like kicks in the air (what we see the members do at the 2:33 minute mark of the music video) makes total sense.

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

[Review] SOSO – WINNER

It is time to catch up on some more reviews. But I am not dipping into my ‘Coming Soon’ page yet as there are a few more comebacks from last week that I wanted to cover. WINNER is a major group that I have yet to review and they made their comeback with SOSO last Wednesday. I am not going to delay their review anymore. We last saw the group through their Ah Yeah comeback, which was released 5 months back.

The way the song was set up was quite promising. But the resulting mix just didn’t work out too well. And I point my finger squarely on the slowdown that was featured as the chorus of the song. It was disappointing and a complete letdown, especially after such a rocking buildup to what could have been an amazing drop. It cut the momentum down to a sluggish pace. The repetition of the ‘So So‘ didn’t help as well. I think in their defence, it would have been interesting to some people. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.  The rest of the track was fine. I really enjoyed the verses. Mino’s rap sequence at the start of the song has to be one of the best sequences of the year. It was fluid and just kept coming at us. The vocals work was also quite good. They did seem to go with a more generic sound this time around, which seems to be the route that they have been aiming for during their last few songs. But WINNER always seems to make it sound good. Just not this time, unfortunately.

The music video is very filled with a lot of symbolism, which is different from what a typical music video coming from WINNER is usually. Based on what I understood from an interview, the video shows scenes of the scars that fans do not see commonly. They are practically isolated from the rest of the world (shown by Mino), entangled in the public life (shown by Seungyoon), dodging scandals to keep that innocent and well-behaved image (shown by Jiwoo) and are hurt and tired underneath all of that name brand clothing that they get to wear (shown by Hoony). It is an interesting video that does manage to speak volumes, especially with what recently happened.

I think the performance is a lot like the song. There were good moments during the verses and pre-chorus thanks to the more upbeat vibes in the instrumental. But the slowdown from the chorus made it rather disappointing and this really dried up the performance for me.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.2/10

[Review] Call Anytime – Jinu ft. Mino (WINNER)

Despite it being a rocky few months for YG Entertainment, it is still business as usual for some artists. Schedules are still going forward for some of the soloists and groups. And now, we have a solo debut in our midst. Jinu, one of the vocalists of WINNER, released his first solo track today. It is titled as Call Anytime and it features fellow WINNER member Mino. Winner previously released Ah Yeah three months back in May of this year.

Interestingly, I had expected Jinu to go with a more profound R&B track for his solo debut track. This is the route that YG Entertainment artists usually go if they don’t delve into the hip-hop genre. But Call Anytime delves into the pop genre. There are those influences in the pop sound. But they aren’t as strong as I had expected it. Apart from that, I thought the song was quite good. I am not too familiar with Jinu, but I know he has a unique vocal colour and he managed to show some of that off in this song. I liked how his singing compliments the lyrics. He is waiting for a call and his voice sounds very bored (yet intriguing for the audience) and tired, matching the emotions the audience should be hearing at that point in time. Likewise, Mino features as a rapper, and while his part changes things up slightly, the lyrics match this change up by encouraging Jinu to text the person. I think that was a smart structure. The ending, when ‘everyone’ joins in, seems to be a very cliche move for WINNER (and YG) now, since they have been doing it so much. But apart from that, I thought Call Anytime was a good song.

The video is a little confusing and opens up with Jinu waiting for a phone call and I think this crumbles his self-confidence. We then see blue suit Jinu who has a consultancy business that deals with how to attract someone’s attention by building one’s confidence and he is advertising his services on TV. His first client is a timid version of Jinu (i.e glasses Jinu), who I assume is a version of the first Jinu we saw and the business aims to build his confidence so he can enter that special room. We see Mino, a special consultant, play the overconfident card by encouraging for a direct text. But Mino’s plan doesn’t work, as Jinu unsuccessfully gains entrance to the special room and Mino is removed from the room (as being overconfident doesn’t work). Somewhere along the line, glasses Jinu appears more confident, teaches Mino one or two things and enters the room without any resistance. Success! I am assuming this means he approached his phone calling scenario as a more confident person, though I am not sure what it means. It is a unique concept but it was fun to watch.

I liked the choreography. Like the last review, nothing really impressive that I could spot in the music video. But there is enough to be fun, suiting the pop side of the track. I guess we have to wait and see with this performance.

Song – 8/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 710
Overall Rating –  8.1/10

[Album Review] WE (3rd Mini Album) – WINNER

For today’s album review, we will be having a look at WINNER’s latest mini-album, WE. This was released back mid-May with their title track, Ah Yeah. If you have been a reader of the site for a while, you may have noticed that I have never reviewed a WINNER album before. The main reason for this was because I didn’t think the albums had much to talk about. But WE seem to be changer that may get their albums on my radar. On top of Ah Yeah, the song features 3 new tracks and remixed versions of Everyday and the unreleased track of First Love (which are not included in the album review, per usual).

winner-WE-2
WE Album Cover

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

2. Zoo (동물의왕국) – To me, Zoo has this laid-back vibe to it which makes it very pleasant to listen to. I find the song to be less proactive than Ah Yeah was (and this is isn’t a terrible thing). Instead, it is a light song that feels suitable following Ah Yeah. The instrumental is interesting as it relies on a mixture of tropical-like sounds and effects. In reality, the instrumental was made up of brass and flutes. There is some energy that you get via the blast at the end, which was nice. I did think the vocals and raps did not stand out as much. I think it is because I didn’t really identify a strong hook that made the song memorable overall. (7/10)

3. Mola (몰라도너무몰라)Mola starts off with a punch. It is striking and kicks the song on a positive note. The chorus is the second positive part of the track. I find the light yet dramatic nature of the instrumental to be equally as striking as the line that started of the song. Talking about the pop-based instrumental, I found that it does get very repetitive, especially after many listens. However, that can easily be overlooked as I found the energy that comes off it is very strong and impressive in many ways. The vocals and rapping were quite good in this song. Even though the instrumental required to be loud to be this impressive, I thought all the members stood out with their vocal and rapping abilities. (8/10)

4. Boom – I have an affinity for songs that give you an explosive surprise. And with the title ‘Boom’, you expect this. But the song starts off in a slow yet paced manner that makes you recheck if you are listening to the right song. And the verses of this track continue the pattern, which I think was interesting. It is the chorus, however, that is most explosive and rediverts the song to be true to its title. The alternating between soft and explosive to be a very understandable but dynamic effect, giving the song character. The ‘Boom Powwowow’ was very catchy and I honestly could not forget this song after listening to it. (9/10)

Overall Album Rating – 7.8/10

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[Review] Ah Yeah – WINNER

Also making their comeback today is Winner with Ah Yeah. This is the group’s first comeback since their Millions single, released back in December of last year. Ah Yeah is also the title track off the group’s second-ever mini-album, which is titled as We. Interestingly, both EXID’s and Winner’s mini-albums released today share the same name. I am not sure whether this will be an issue or everyone will ignore it. But definitely an interesting situation. (Note that EXID previously had a title track titled Ah Yeah as well).

But we are here to focus on Winner’s Ah Yeah for now. Ah Yeah has this brightness that just pops, making it perfect for a Summer’s release. And given that style, I think it picks up nicely from where Millions left off. The way the song starts with the guitar doesn’t seem to be as refreshing as you want. It felt very ‘done before’ and lacked ambition. But once the song starts picking up during the pre-chorus, the song slowly gets interesting. It just doesn’t last too long, however, as the chorus feels very standard in today’s tropical trend. I did think the chorus did fare a little more better as it gave the song that brightness mentioned before and the repetition of ‘Ah Yeah‘ was quite catchy. The vocalists were good but I think the song allows the rappers to really zone in both their rapping and vocals. I did like the background chanting of the chorus at the end of the song, which once again, brings the track together to add an extra vibrant aspect. But other than that, I think the track falls short due to its alignment with the typicalness of today’s trends.

Matching the bright and vibrant atmosphere of the song is an equally bright and vibrant music video. The members all seem to have fun, while playful introduce the song’s lyrics (My interpretation of the lyrics is after a breakup, they can no longer be friends with their ex and rather become strangers, even though their lover wants to remain as friends). There were some wacky moments during their playful poke at the song’s message. I think the weirdest has to be Mino’s lobster hand and leg. Especially the leg. That made me laugh.

Based on what I see in the music video, their performance seems simple in comparison to other choreographies. Not that I am complaining because their instrumental doesn’t really call for anything complicated. Simplicity is key sometimes and I think this is one of the times (and they nailed it). The dance still looks fun, which goes hand-in-hand with the song.

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

[Review] MILLIONS – WINNER

Winner is nominated for Best Male Group and Mino is nominated for Best Rapper in this year’s KPOPREVIEWED Awards. To support Winner and Mino, click on the link here to start voting! Voting closes in 11 days!

While their official comeback isn’t until sometime in January of next year, Winner has dropped a new single at the request of many fans. MILLIONS was released yesterday as a special pre-release single ahead of their upcoming comeback. We last saw the group during their Everyday comeback earlier this year. Mino also embarked on his solo career with Fiance, which was released a few weeks back.

I think the first thing that really jumps out at me is the use of that tropical house influence. As much as I enjoy the genre, I agree with many people who say that is way past its trendy days and it is becoming a relatively standard sound. And with the past few Winner comebacks being of the tropical nature, it just feels like they digging too much into this rabbit hole. But besides that, I thoroughly enjoyed the song. I really liked the upbeat nature of the song. It does seem a little ill-fitting for the seasonal trend but they did a really good job at balancing out that upbeat nature for the Winter period. I also liked the drums in the instrumental. I think just by the bright nature of the song and the lyrics that you can make out, the song takes a refined romantic route, which was rather nice, in my opinion. I liked the chorus, which had a simple melody but their vocals made it very catchy and addictive in nature. The rapping was also quite nice. Not too much power, which goes back to that balance.

Once again, YG Entertainment delivers with another extraordinary music video. Fitting the brightness of the song, the music video adopts that bright factor with its colourful and vibrant sets. And the all-smiling Winner members made this video pretty much unforgettable. I think the concept is a lot more typical, given the stereotypical nature of KPOP but since WInner doesn’t focus on this style too much, it becomes memorable. I really liked the final set with the fireworks in the background. I thought was quite cool.

The dance is definitely another highlight of this comeback. I like what they are doing with their fingers during the chorus. Not exactly sure what it is meant to represent but it definitely fits the song extremely well. The rest of the performance looks like it is going to be extremely fun and energetic, which are factors that I personally like.

Song – 9/10
Music Video – 9.5/10
Performance – 10/10
Overall Rating – 9.4/10

[Review] FIANCÉ – Mino (Winner)

Making his solo comeback after 2 years is Mino, the main rapper from Winner. I consider this to be his “comeback” despite it being marketed as it “solo debut”, as Mino started off his solo endeavours through Body, which was released alongside Bobby’s Holup! and MOBB’s (Mino & Bobby’s collaboration) Hit Me back in 2016. This time around, Mino released FIANCÉ, the title track off his first solo studio album, XX. And since its release yesterday, it has topped all the major charts in South Korea!

FIANCÉ opens up with a guitar riff that feels very country-based for the verses, which later progresses into a hip-hop dance track. Along the way, there are trot samples used in the background to give off a very unique effect. It is an interesting take on hip-hop which is Mino’s known associated sound and it makes it into a very colourful song. The delivery of his lines was quite nice. Though, I was wanting some buildup towards the end to really get the energy pumping. I felt like the ‘La La La‘ ending was good as a hype mechanism and definitely fitted the song. But it felt too straightforward. In the end, it felt like it lacked intensity. I would have liked a strong hooker. I didn’t find the main hook of FIANCÉ to be that memorable, so it did feel like it would be a forgettable song, especially in the midst of yesterday’s comebacks.

I think what Mino did nail with his release is the music video. The quality of the music video definitely fits in the YG scope, especially when it comes to set design. While the music video does show Mino surrounded by a lot of ladies (which may or may not allude to some themes based on the way they are dressed), the producers did a good job with making the main focus of the video to be Mino rather than the ladies, which would have caused a public outcry in today’s media. I thought the incorporation of the historical Korean set and outfits was really nice, especially since the song contained samples of Korean trot music.

The choreography looks interesting. With the way the song is presented, there is a form of edginess that I think Mino portrays well. I think the choreography for the second verse, where the soloist dances with each dancer, is going to be a very a very big moment in the performance.

Song – 7/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 7/10
Overall Rating – 7.6/10

[Review] Where R U From? – Seungri (Big Bang) ft. Mino (Winner)

As mentioned previously, I will be catching up on some songs and videos that were released in the past few weeks, which I haven’t had a chance to write about yet. And with Seungri’s album review due to come out this week, I thought I look at the second music video released for the artist’s solo comeback, Where R U From?, which features Mino from Winner. Seungri previously returned with his main solo track, 1,2,3 last month.

The main intention for Where R U From is to hype up the listeners and be a fun track to listen to. It isn’t meant to be taken seriously, as you can tell from its sound and the music video that was released alongside the track. The song relies on a really simple yet catchy hook that gets you into the song. And this one hook did a good job at it. Seungri does a good job with his lines but I don’t think he was the star of the track. The featuring artist, Mino, was the better out of the two, in my opinion. His lines gave just enough edge to the song to make it not feel too repetitive and added that extra ‘cherry-on-top’ for the listeners to enjoy. The only issues with similar tracks to this one is that multiple listens later, you get tired of hearing the same thing over and over again, which is also happening to this song, unfortunately.

The entire video is a comedic response to the ongoing political tension throughout the world. I am surprised that this video hasn’t garnered much attention for its certain portrayal of two political world leaders. But putting that aside, I thought the video was interesting. I chuckled when Seungri pulled out the YG Entertainment table plaque thing and Seungri/Yoo Byung Jae’s paradoy of BLACKPINK and G-Dragon. In a few other ways, the video felt like it was pushing for a new Psy, which I am a little unsure about at this stage. But overall, it was good to see something different (and fun) for a change.

The performance confirms my last statement. The company is pushing Seungri to be the next Psy, who left YG Entertainment earlier this year. The way Seungri looks when he performs remind me of Psy. I thought some of his moves were good but others were just plain odd. But he did a good job with connecting with the audience and made it look decent overall, at least.

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

[Review] Everyday – Winner

Winner has made their return to the stage with a brand new song, Everyday. Everyday is the title track off their latest full-album return, which is also titled as Everyday (styled as EVERYD4Y). Their last comeback was in September last year with Love Me Love Me. Usually, YG Entertainment would sideline them for a longer period. But with the success of Winner in the past year. it was expected that YG would bring back a lot sooner.

But maybe it isn’t all good. Everyday just fails to make the mark when it comes to the appealing factor. The song reminds me of the R&B tracks that you would get nowadays. Heavily autotuned and something I just want to avoid completely. The chorus just felt over the top with its autotune. It was catchy and possibly addictive. The autotune just went against it and its potential glory. But to base the song solely on the autotune does not seem fair. So if we strip away the autotune, the song has potential. I actually did think the vocals and raps were good. The verses were nice and the buildup to the chorus was decent. The bridge is also quite good. And as mentioned previously, the chorus would have been catchy and possibly fun.

Winner’s music video has me giving one big question, who on earth picks out the clothing for these videos? The video is set by the poolside and beach. The ladies in the video looked their part by wearing bikinis and swimsuits. Winner, however, is decked on with suits and casual clothing consisting of an excessive amount of fabric. They just don’t fit in or look the part. Even the backup dancers looked more casual than them. While I understand they need to look good, it just feels a little outrageous sometimes. Besides that, the video was nice to watch. I don’t have much else to say regarding the video.

That one dance move with the side hopping and fist pumping is back. Like it has taken the entire industry by storm. It was a nice performance to watch, overall. The post-chorus choreography looks cool in the video and I think it would look awesome on stage.

Song – 5/10
Music Video – 7/10
Performance – 8/10
Overall Rating – 5.9/10

 

[Double Review] Love Me Love Me + Island – Winner

After their successful comeback of Really Really and Fool at the start of the year, Winner is back to seek the same level of success with Love Me Love Me and Island. And so far, they are on track to reaching the expectations set high by the previous singles, with their songs topping charts in the midst of an intense battle for the top of the charts. The two songs make up Our Twenty For, which is the name of their second single album.

Love Me Love Me is a disco song, but it sounds nothing like that. Instead, I thought it felt more modern in general, compared to disco. Love Me Love Me was set up to be an upbeat and catchy song. It does just that, but it felt underwhelming. It did well to represent that Summer feels, but it doesn’t feel like it could be separated from the pack. The “Love Me Love Me‘ final chorus was pretty good when they made it into a chant/anthem. The vocals were good, but they weren’t amazing. The raps were good, but I felt their pre-chorus build up was a little awkward.

Island follows the same comments as Love Me Love Me. It felt underwhelming, as well. Island is a tropical house song that sounds nice. But the combination of the vocals and the raps don’t mix well. It is an interesting mix but they don’t fit with each other. The build up doesn’t feel like it built on anything and drop didn’t feel that intense as it should have. It sounds a lot better with a heavy bass filter, but it did still feel underwhelming regardless.

Unlike the song, I actually thought the videos were pretty good. The cinematography and various shots made both videos spectacular. Love Me Love Me seemed to focus more on the urban setting, while Island focused on more of nature. Both were equally amazing. The aerial shots in Island basically left me speechless. I just wished they were paired with better songs. Besides that, the videos didn’t have much content in them, mainly focusing on them having a fun in the various settings. It looked fun and enjoyable. My only complaint is Seunghoon’s hair. Not digging it. But other than that, both videos were amazing.

Love Me Love Me had a more captivating performance. It felt like it suited the song more and the moves seemed a lot more polished. Island had the boring performance. While it did fit the song, it felt looser compared to the other performance in terms of structure. It just didn’t suck me in like the other performance.

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

Island
Song – 6/10
Music Video – 9/10
Performance – 5/10
Overall Rating – 6.5/10