[UPDATE] Semi-Hiatus

Dear friends,

I’m currently going through a site revamp/complete overhaul and will be considering blog content and format quite extensively over the next few weeks to minimise post load and workload for myself. As many of you know, this is supposed to be my blog for my move to Seoul, but its inevitably turned into a blog about music considering its such a large part of my life and considering that I do often get requests to do reviews. I will have to think about how to manage this considering this is not what I’m here for!

Many people have asked me to blog about certain things – I will get round to it after the revamp – I promise you, you have not been forgotten.

Ok so I will leave you with a list of things that I am listening to that I haven’t reviewed yet and maybe you can check them out and let me know your thoughts?

  • BTS – Wings album [didn’t like it at first because its very different to what I love BTS for, but I have grown to adore this album]
  • Lay – What U Need? [Such a strong solo track from Lay here – completely his style and fantastic choreo]
  • Ailee ft Yoon Mirae – Home [two of my favourite female vocalists – strong song]
  • Pentagon – Gorilla [I LOVE THIS ROOKIE GROUP]
  • Jero X Dok2 – Paradise [my jam]
  • Ladies Code – The Rain [loving this comeback!]
  • Se7en – Give It To Me [YES – welcome back into my heart]
  • 100% – Better Day [I ADORE THIS SONG!!!!]
  • Jay Park – Everything You Wanted album [this is one of the best feel good albums I’ve heard in ages. I need it in my life]
  • Block B – My Zone (JPop) [serious funk]
  • High4 20 – HookGa (ft. Hwasa) [Seriously love this track – welcome back to my life boys]
  • Far East Movement x Marshmello – Freal Luv (ft Tinashe & Chanyeol) [haven’t thought about Far East Movement for a long time but I adore both Tinashe and Chanyeol]
  • 24K – Bingo [SUCH A GOOD COMEBACK]

Currently I am riding out the BTS promotions and also waiting for VIXX’s comeback on October 31st. Other things to anticipate are B.A.P’s return, NCT Life and KNK.

I’m also watching an American show called ‘Dramaworld’ on Netflix which is partly filmed in Seoul and is about a girl that gets sucked into her favourite KDrama – I recommend you check it out.

Finally – who is watching Season 3 of Haikyuu?? No spoilers please – I’m starting it this week!

Thank you for bearing with me – I promise, when I return I will have a plan for how to make this blog slightly more consistent and less stressful for me to manage.

[Song Review] SF9 – Fanfare

ROOKIE GROUPS ARE MY LATEST OBSESSION. Just a public service announcement for you all. I’m in overdrive right now because too many groups are out – I didn’t expect to fall in love with SF9 a few weeks ago and anticipate their arrival more than anything. But I’m glad I was paying attention or else I might have missed an important debut.

SF9 (Sensational Feeling 9) are nine (no surprise there) boys belonging to FNC and were previously a part of Neoz School. This was a kind of rookie camp similar to the better known SM Rookies. Neoz School have now formed into: SF9 and HoneySt (who are a band and I wholeheartedly implore you to support when they debut).

SF9 are largely composed of a dance unit, which explains why every single performance they do is more or less on point. But along with incredible dancers, they also have vocalists and rappers to match their dancing aptitude.

‘Fanfare’ is their debut track from their first single album and is a vibrant, brass-heavy song with an upbeat, fist-jabbing (*note* jabbing not punching cos it’s not really a fist punch…) feel. It makes you want to join in with the choreography and just bounce around all over the place. My favourite part of the whole song is the pre-chorus where Inseong sings – it’s such a dramatic change of tempo that it completely stops you in your tracks and forces you to listen to the strength in the vocals and then before you know it, there’s a brief pause in the music and you hear Youngbin’s rough tone announce Fanfare and you’re dragged willingly into the chorus – bouncing around, not knowing you were an SF9 stan until that moment. There’s also Jayoon’s part after the second chorus that gets me aswell. The MV is busy with lots of bizarre camera angles, but it is fun and exciting and fitting with a debut release. Yoo Taeyang completely slays it in this MV.

Verdict: 8/10 – a REALLY strong debut track for a group. Addictive and motivating song, rousing you off your seat and will get constantly stuck in your head (I am testament to this – I have been singing it absolutely everywhere). I find the verses need working on in this track as they almost don’t live up to the rest of the track, but I think its easy to overlook. SF9 have a lot to offer in coming times and we can anticipate growth and further hits. Keep an eye on them.

[Song Review] SHINee – 1 of 1

My bias group are BACK! And back with a vengeance they are, with an album that I cannot turn off. SHINee are back with a 90s concept that can be evident throughout all their concept photos, music video and music. The whole album rings with a throwback kind of vibe and takes me right back to my youth, with the garage beats interspersed throughout the album.

‘1 of 1’ is their title track as well as the name of the album and you will be left feeling like you have popped up in the late 80s/early 90s, with the bass drum heavy beat synonymous with that era, as well as the other backing instruments of that era. Even the arrangement of the song itself is very 90s with the slowed down, stripped back bridge and adlibs in the final chorus. The vocals are as strong as ever and, as with every SHINee song, it is not lacking in energy, passion and dedication. This is such an upbeat track you will not be able to stop yourself from dancing to it – even shimmying your shoulders. SHINee, of course, are quite a visual group, and as such their MV does not disappoint. The colours, the outfits, the dancers – it all comes together to produce a captivating music video with choreography that is just so typically SHINee, despite the 90s feel.

My verdict: 10/10 – I cannot turn this off. I also can’t stop myself from singing it out loud everywhere I go and from dancing non-stop. This concept was such a good idea and if there was anyone that was going to pull it off, it was certainly SHINee – the boys who are not afraid to try new concepts. This song will get you on your feet for the autumn and have you dancing the cold away. Get your roll-neck jumpers out because ‘SHINee’s back’.

Album Note: Top tracks for me = ‘Prism’ – an upbeat garage sound and excellent intro to the new concept. ‘Feel Good’ – the choral style pre-chorus hits me every time. ‘Don’t Let Me Go’ – a ballad that doesn’t feel like a ballad? Each member has a strong part in it and Key’s rap lines have me startled – Vocals on point.

FINALLY – I want everyone to bear witness to the weird and wonderful SHINee so please watch the video below if you can spare a few moments. I want you to know why they are my bias group. Stick the subtitles on, I promise you won’t regret it.

[Song Review] Sandeul – Stay As You Are

Ok I had no clue what to expect from Sandeul, but I can tell you that I definitely didn’t expect this. Sandeul is my B1A4 bias and I will preach from the mountain tops that his voice is stable, gentle and full of emotion. He has such a smooth and unfaltering voice, no matter what register he sings at. Despite all of this, I wasn’t expecting to be hit so hard by this song.

I didn’t realise how beautiful this song was until I looked at the lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, I already knew how special this track was. This gentle ballad has a beautiful melody that suits Sandeul’s vocal style well and makes this an easy track to listen to. The strings in the background tie the whole piece together and draw emotion in towards the end, carrying you through the song at a slow and steady pace. The song alone will have you in a dream like trance, contemplating the beauty of the instruments, his voice and the emotion that is packaged up with it.

Then you look at the lyrics. This is a love song, but not like any you have heard before. Sandeul is talking about the times he will spend in the future with his future partner, someone he has not met yet. He is wondering if they are in a relationship right now, if they are happy? He is asking them to ‘Stay As You Are’ so that when they do eventually meet they will recognise each other and he hopes they will not miss each other. To me, this is a beautiful love letter and an important life lesson. There is someone out there who already loves you for all the things that you like and do and the way you behave – no doubt they are dreaming of you. Do not change to be someone else just so that you can be any old person’s partner, or else you will not find that person that is perfect for you. Always be yourself. Sandeul has set me on fire.

My verdict: 9/10 – This is a stunning ballad with strong vocals and emotive instrumental. The message of the song lends it even more importance and will no doubt make you fall in love with the track. If you need convincing of the amount of love Sandeul poured into this song, just watch any of his live performances, or showcases of this song – I don’t think I’ve seen someone sing with such passion in a long time.

[Song Review] Monsta X – Fighter

It has been a week – I know some people have been asking me to post my review for this song and album. Sorry, it’s been a crazy week, with three of my bias groups coming back, two of my rookie groups debuting and multiple festivals, four of which I have watched live. Sadly due to the volume of reviews I have to do, I won’t be able to review the album track by track, but I have bought it and I love it – each and every track.

When will people wake up to the fact that Monsta X are a highly cohesive idol group with many talents and diversity and in fact, there’s a reason they remain to be the only group whose entire back catalogue I own – they stick true to their guns and their genre. ‘Fighter’ has a more pop sound to the rest of their tracks and sounds like the closing credits for a Marvel movie. It has the air of ‘superhero’ to it. It is an upbeat rousing song that is less rap-heavy than their other tracks (however the rest of their album restores this balance). It has a big sound that will grab your attention from the first second and is interspersed with huge vocals and a choreography fit to boot. The MV is bizarre – I’ll welcome your comments and theories as I am completely lost. Jooheon swinging a stethoscope might just haunt my dreams.

My verdict: 10/10 – As soon as I turned this song on, I had the biggest smile on my face – Monsta X know how to do a comeback and this is no exception. It is a memorable sound with so many aspects to it. Every member gets their chance to shine here, even with rap-lines diminished. It is an accessible comeback song for those less well versed with Monsta X and I’m sure will continue to win them many fans.

Album Note: Top tracks for me = ‘Be Quiet’ and ‘Queen’ (though I love every track on this album). ‘Be Quiet’ is a bit of what we have had in every other album since and is a sound I will never tire of. ‘Queen’ has one of the best choruses on this album.

[Song Review] Ravi – Who Are U (ft. Superbee)

I am a proud fan of VIXX, as you all very well know, so for me, its hard to be impartial when it comes to members’ releases – however I think I have a rational head on here. Ravi has been gracing us with his solo music this year and we are very lucky to have had ‘DamnRa’ and now ‘Who Are U’. Not only do we have them, but Ravi produces this music for free for his own personal satisfaction and puts it out there for us. Fans have time and time again tried to give him money, but he always refuses (bless).

So ‘Who Are U’ is a collaboration with the Korean Hip-Hop artist Superbee, of SMTM fame, but also of considerable controversy fame (I won’t discuss it here, but I don’t really condone his behaviour). Personally, as a fan of Ravi’s unique  voice, tone and flow, I don’t think that Superbee was a necessary addition to the song, however I guess it lends it credibility from the hip-hop world (those that rate Superbee). You can hear a lot of Ravi’s personality shine through in this track, from the beat and the synth straight through to the lyrics and pacing in the rap. After watching Ravi show us how he produced the track, it’s easy to see how gifted he is as a writer and I feel that given time and nurturing, he will grow into an even more accomplished writer. There is no MV to this so just enjoy the song for all that it exists for.

My verdict: 5/10 – Despite being a huge Ravi fan, this isn’t particularly my style of music production but knowingly, Ravi will continue to learn and grow through each song he brings out so I have no worries for him. I find this to be a memorable song with an innovative melody coupled with the deep, rich tone that we all love Ravi for. I think we can expect big things from him in years to come as a solo producer, but he still needs to build and develop his skills. This has the beginnings of a golden track and I wouldn’t be surprised if in time to come, he releases a remastered version that will blow us out of the water.

[Song Review] BTOB-BLUE – Stand By Me

Again – out of order with the reviews but I didn’t want to miss this one off as its a pretty important release to me. BTOB have been hiding in the male idol group category for a while – everyone knows who they are and even know individual members from their solo activities on variety shows and collaborations, yet their music is lesser known that some other idol groups, despite having been around for a little longer. An avid BTOB supporter here, I leap for JOY when I see them attend KCon and other music performances and a release is absolute gold for me.

BTOB-Blue – WHAT CAN I SAY!!! This has been a subunit that existed already in everything but formality. The subunit consists of Changsub, Eunkwang, Hyunsik and Sungjae – the vocalists of the group, and ‘Stand By Me’ is BTOB-Blue’s debut release. I’m not sure that we could have asked for anything better from them for their first release. This is a gentle, emotive ballad with a captivating chorus (Hyunsik’s vocals in the chorus send pangs through my heart). The timbre remains soft and even throughout and there is no desire to rush ahead, leaving you completely lost in the feathery vocal abilities of all four members. The build in intensity towards the final chorus is only down to crescendo – this song is relatively unembellished which allows you to concentrate completely on the vocal abilities of the four boys. The MV is gentle, and slow-paced, much like the song and is not encumbered with a complicated plot line – it is just a video of the boys singing, and in many ways, I really appreciate the beauty of it.

My verdict: 9/10 – I am completely in love with this song. It is such a fitting ballad for the season and showcases BTOB’s vocalists’ abilities perfectly. It is a strong and memorable debut song, giving us a taste of what is to come. I am upset that there are no/few promotions on this track (I think there have been some stages?) but it sets us up for greater subsequent tracks as well as reminding everyone that BTOB are here, are talented and we should anticipate them more than ever.

[Song Reviews] GOT7 – Hard Carry & Let Me

Ah they are back – GOT7, my beloved boy group with the sibling feel (as in… they feel like my brothers). They have risen from the ashes of scandal (slight international scandal) and returned with a full length album titled ‘Flight Log: Turbulence’. I won’t lie, I find the title absolutely hilarious considering the first installation was Departure, and I found the trailer for the album incredibly UNSETTLING. If you haven’t seen it, please click here (or don’t, if you don’t want to be traumatised). Nonetheless, this album is 13 tracks (yes you heard right – THIRTEEN) of change – the sound is very different from what you might know GOT7 for. I sadly don’t have time at the moment to review the whole album but here I’ll review their title track ‘Hard Carry’ and the other song they are promoting ‘Let Me’.

‘Hard Carry’… where to begin. Let me begin by telling you that when I first heard this song, I didn’t love it – in fact, I’m not sure I even liked it? I disliked almost every aspect of the song except for JB’s part (sucker for JB’s voice), however I have to say that the more I have listened to it and watched their stages (because I still adore them so I will still check them out), I have actually grown to appreciate this song and the change in genre completely. I actually find myself singing it almost everywhere and I can safely say that I do like this track. My biggest grievance is that the verses are REALLY WEAK, particularly the first verse. What has been done to Jackson and BamBam’s parts really does their talent down and actually makes them appear talentless? The second verse isn’t quite so bad – Mark is improving as time goes on and he really shines through here, but again, I am not blown away by Yugyeom’s part. I can’t help thinking that Jinyoung is swearing and saying inappropriate things throughout (MISHEARD LYRICS ALERT) but his vocals are on point as always, as are Youngjae’s, but when will he be allowed to sing more please? Notes on the MV – why are JB and Youngjae wandering around Christmas Trees?; Mark’s ‘Hard Carry’ underwater had me in hysterics; the shimmy right at the beginning of the MV makes me really upset; I do however enjoy the choreography transition between Jinyoung and Youngjae in the bridge.

My verdict: 6/10 – It pains me to score them this low, but the first verse just makes me so upset. The main reason I even gave this another chance was because of JB. This is a change in direction for GOT7 and whilst it does suit their edgy personas, I’m not sure they needed to go this extreme? It doesn’t showcase their vocal abilities particularly well and actually discredits them – however it is an extremely catchy and up-tempo dance/R&B track.

‘Let Me’ – THANK GOD THEY ARE PROMOTING WITH THIS SONG. THIS SONG HAS SAVED THEM. This is a beautiful song that shows exactly what GOT7 have to offer and gives each member a chance to shine and prove their talent and worth. Youngjae, for example, is given the lions share of the chorus along with JB, which is nice to see because his part is diminished in ‘Hard Carry’ and Youngjae’s powerful vocals always tie everyone together in a song such as this. BamBam and Jackson are given more of a chance to show that as rappers, they can perform well, and dispel my fears from ‘Hard Carry’. Mark co-wrote the lyrics and music for this, as he has done on other album tracks, and I am immensely proud of him for involving himself further in writing activities, especially if it means they are going to be producing more beautiful tracks such as this.

My verdict: 8/10 – Give me more of this song and you’ll get a higher score! Less than 2 minutes for the track? Who do you think you are? KNK? (If you don’t get the reference – KNK’s song ‘Gone’ is shorter!). I’m happy with the line distribution in this track, though it would be nice to hear more of Yugyeom (will I ever be happy?). As a Mark stan, I am immensely proud of him and think that this is just further evidence of the improvements he has made over the years. This, coupled with the 1:31am pairing of JB and Youngjae for the chorus has made this a winning track.

Not my favourite GOT7 comeback sadly, and it is a shame that they have come back in the two week period that all the big boy groups are coming back, but iGOT7’s love is still strong and GOT7 work hard, I know they will still succeed.

[Song Review] Bada X Ryeowook – Cosmic

I have managed to review tracks in the wrong order but I couldn’t miss this song out. It hit me straight in the heart as soon as I heard it. Many of you know that Super Junior were my first KPop group (technically DBSK – but we won’t get into that) and anything Super Junior related is met with excitement from me, but particularly when it comes from one of the K.R.Y subunit. A lot of you also know that K.R.Y have a special place in my heart – the members with voices that have the ability to make me cry on the spot. So of course, finding out that Ryeowook was to be releasing a collaboration with Bada on SM Station (AGAIN THANK YOU SM) was news of joy!

For those of you who do not know who Bada is, I’m not berating you, but get to know – here is a short education. Bada was the main vocalist in the group S.E.S who effectively were the first ever successful girl group (think Shinhwa era… though S.E.S debuted a year prior to Shinhwa). Like Shinhwa, S.E.S debuted with SM Entertainment, but after S.E.S broke up, Bada parted ways with SM, which is why it is interesting to hear her voice back on an SM platform! Nice to have you back Bada – her voice. I’ve missed it.

‘Cosmic’ is the perfect synthesis between two incredibly skilled and powerful vocalists. Their voices intertwine together to produce a seamless track, and they play off of each others’ ad libs. Neither voice is competing with the other for attention, they both occupy the space equally. This is the one of the best duets I have heard in a number of months. This mid-tempo ballad will leave you feeling uplifted and transported as you hang on to every harmony and note in both vocals. The ambience they create is magical and leaves you feeling speechless. This collaboration…. was the best move and I could never have imagined it. What a beautifully emotional MV too!

My verdict: 9/10 – oh my word, I just got shivers listening to this song again whilst reviewing. The talent and abilities in these two is unparalleled. This is what you get when you have years of experience in the industry. Both are incredible vocalists and this just shines through in this track. It is a wonderful start to the winter. The hope that you look for in the dark mornings. You will fall in love with this. Wookie – you collaborated properly with your idol!

[Song Review] Yu Seungwoo – Only U(너만이) (ft. Heize)

Stumbled upon this song by accident – thank you Starship Entertainment for reminding me that you have more than Monsta X, Sistar and Boyfriend! I had not been keeping up with Seungwoo’s news and had no clue he was releasing a new song, let alone a collaboration with one of my favourite female rappers, Heize.

For those not well versed with this particular solo artist – Seungwoo is a 19 year old (’97 line) singer-songwriter and guitarist who has previously been known to sing with Kihyun from Monsta X but has a back catalogue of fantastic tracks himself. He is young, fresh-faced and innocent, but has a voice laden with maturity and this is evident in this song. It starts as a down-tempo acoustic track but as the chorus kicks in, it picks up to a mid-tempo ballad. Heize’s rap adds layers to the song, removing the track from the genre of ballad and moving it more into the pop rock/soul genre, and her vocals bring wonderful harmonies and a beautiful juxtaposition to Seungwoo’s voice. The MV is beautiful – traditional, scenic, stunning.

My verdict: 8/10 – An impactful song that is an easy listen. Perfect for the fall season and different to many of the other big releases at the moment. Gentle and poignant vocals throughout, helping to transform this song from your average pop song to a moving and evocative track.