Feb 28, 2017

Another Quirky Comeback In Red Velvet's "Rookie"

Bildresultat för red velvet rookie

It doesn't feel like all that long since Red Velvet made a comeback with "Russian Roulette", and that's probably because it was only 5 months ago. "Russian Roulette" was, as you may know, one of my favorite songs last year and probably my favorite Red Velvet title track so far, meaning that my expectations were quite high for this comeback. The teaser images looked up to expectation; colorful, whimsical and quirky. The concept reminded me a lot of the one for "Dumb Dumb" which made me concerned about them regressing to an already tried-out sound and style, but I kept my hopes up. When I watched the MV for "Rookie" though I was left with all sorts of mixed emotions.

Bildresultat för red velvet rookie
"Rookie" is basically "Dumb Dumb" 2.0, with the exception that it took me much longer to get into. It's perhaps not as loud and bombastic but it has the same kind of style of pop music that this group has been pursuing since debut. Like with "Dumb Dumb" the structure of the song is a bit confusing at first and at times it seems random, but the chorus of "Rookie" stands out even more. "Russian Roulette" showed growth and development and I was happy they finally dropped the "talk-singing-rapping" thing they've been doing before. With "Rookie" however it's back and more prominent than ever.

The entire chorus is made up of only this vocal technique in a way that sounds really off-putting, so much so that I couldn't even make it through the entire video the first time I watched it. After five listens or so I could finally digest it and unwillingly accept it for what it is. Now, almost an entire month later, I can shamelessly admit that I love the song, but it wasn't an easy journey. Overcoming the disappointment of the song not living up to my expectations was probably the hardest part but once I got over it and could finally appreciate the song for what it is I got into it pretty quickly. It is, even with a slightly annoying chorus, really catchy and there's really no way to get it out of your head once it has made its way in. My only concern is that they won't evolve musically and fall back into this sort of sound, especially since they showed so much potential with "Russian Roulette".

Bildresultat för red velvet rookieThe MV for "Rookie" is interesting in the way that although it's a perfectly good video it's not really that memorable. What I believe is the problem is that like with the song the video is also eerily familiar. It's not an exact copy of any of their other videos but it's nothing that hasn't been seen before and that's where it falters. By any other standards this would've been a fun and exciting video but the fact that this is Red Velvet, a group that has put out amazing videos since debut, the bar is a bit higher. There are many fun moments in the video and I enjoy the set design, clothes and directing, but it doesn't pull me in the same way many of their other MV:s have.

Bildresultat för red velvet rookieRed Velvet has definitely mastered the "quirky, cute and sassy" image by now, both musically and visually, and it's obvious in this video that that image is exactly what they're trying to portray. So obvious in fact, that it takes away some of the genuine quirkiness that has been this groups' charm. The concept and plot of the video is original and everything and everyone is very pretty, but like I said there's nothing about that wows me in particular.

There are even some scenes that are a bit cringe-worthy, like the ones near the end where the girls fly around in small space ships in front of an obvious green-screen. Overall it's a decent video and one that seems to fit this group just right, but I wish they had shown something new or stepped outside of their comfort zone a bit more. It's also a shame the choreography isn't shown more because it's a great routine, but it's not incorporated much in the MV at all.

Bildresultat för red velvet rookie seulgi
One aspect the group did step up their game in is the mini-album, also titled "Rookie". It contains a total of 6 songs and although the title track may be a step down from "Russian Roulette" the record as a whole is much better. There are a few songs who sound like they could've been B-sides on "The Red", such as "Happily Ever After" and "Talk To Me", both of whom are great songs (especially the latter) with energetic melodies and that specific signature Red Velvet-sound.

Bildresultat för red velvet rookie ireneThere are also a couple of songs that could just as easily have been songs on "The Velvet", like the soft and emotional mid-tempo track "Little Little" and Wendy's solo ballad "Last Love". I absolutely love the former of the two and while I love Wendy's vocals the song itself doesn't do much for me at all. My absolute favorite song out of all of them however is "Body Talk". I honestly could talk for hours about how much I adore this piece of music. It has that dreamy electro-pop vibe that I realized that all of my favorite Red Velvet tracks have ("Cool World" and "Some Love" mostly), and a melody, instrumental and chorus that is just pure brilliance.

All of the girls' vocals throughout the album sound lovely and I'm really happy about Yeri's huge improvement as well as Joy having more lines because she's got a really distinct and sweet voice. Irene sounds great too, as does Wendy of course, but my heart goes out to Seulgi because that girl is just amazing in every way imaginable.

Bildresultat för red velvet rookie wendyOverall I've found this comeback enjoying in most aspects, with the exception that the title track took a long time for me to like. The concept is one that they do well and same goes with the MV, but like I said it feels too much on the safe side for me to love it wholeheartedly. We all know that Red Velvet can pull off this sound and style and now I'm ready for something new. Hopefully next comeback they can show a new side of the group or at least explore their already established signature sound.

MV: 3,75/5
Album: 3,9/5

Feb 26, 2017

Video of the Week #36

Oh My Girl - Balloons (Immortal Song 2)

The girls of Oh My Girl delivered an amazing performance of the old classic "Balloons" (mostly known by younger people as the TVXQ re-make) packed with flawless vocals, powerful dancing and youthful energy. Seunghee and Hyojung are incredibly stable as always but I was particularly impressed by YooA and her spot-on stage presence.

Feb 16, 2017

Battle Of The Girl Group Maknae Solos ; Seohyun VS Suzy

  JYPs foto.

This January two talented girl group maknaes made their very anticipated solo debuts, Miss A's Suzy and Girls' Generation's Seohyun. Suzy is arguably the most famous member of her group and apart from having stunning visuals she's also a capable singer and dancer. The same goes with Seohyun who's probably the second best vocalist after Taeyeon in her group. I was excited for the both of them two showcase their abilities and wondered what kind of music they'd put out. Their final releases were perhaps not that surprising but nonetheless highly enjoyable.

Seohyun dropped the MV for her title track "Don't Say No" on January 16th and I must say I was pretty hyped because the teaser images looked amazing. It totally felt like a concept that she could not only pull off but one that she herself was comfortable in. She's had a very sweet and innocent profile so far in her career and this allows her to show a new side without going to far from her already established public image. It's definitely more mature and sexier but with a glamorous and classy approach. I'm in love with the styling and the elegance of the entire concept, as Seohyun truly shines doing this sort of thing. She also said herself that she had asked to try a sexier concept for her solo and I'm happy they let her so we could have all this goodness.

소녀시대(Girls' Generation)s foto.The MV and song are both great as well, both individually and combined. Again I think the theme for the video, as the concept, is perfect for Seohyun and fits well together with the vibe of the song. "Don't Say No" is a pompous contemporary pop track with obvious Ariana Grande influences, but it's a sound that's not really common in K-pop thus making it fresh and memorable. The lyrics for the song are about pleading one's lover to come back, which is portrayed in the MV in a subtle yet clever way.

However I have to say that most of the video's viewing enjoyment comes from the stunning visuals. The set constructions and props are great as well as the camera work, lightning and colors. Paired with the unique styling and an awesome choreography it makes for a pretty good MV.

Song: 3,75/5
MV: 3,9/5

Although I was probably more happy for Seohyun to make her solo debut I was the more curious about the debut of JYP Entertainment's most famous act: Suzy. Suzy is probably one the most popular girl group members of all time as she's not only known for her insane beauty but also for her various acting projects and overall sweet-girl image. As a member of Miss A she was definitely often put in the center, but she never stood out particularly with her dancing or singing as the other members were equally as good or better. She can certainly hold her own in both aspects but her main attraction has always been her face. For that reason I was highly anticipating what she'd release as a solo artist and how she would finally showcase her talents.

JYPs foto.
"Yes No Maybe" is a very different song compared to "Don't Say No", as this JYP-produced tune is a mid-tempo electronica track with a dark and chilly undertone. There's an emotional rawness to it conveyed both by the simplistic instrumental and Suzy's vocals. Matched with the song is a music video that's honestly more like a short movie rather than an MV. Set in Hong Kong, the video definitely pays homage to some famous Hong Kong movies and their particular cinematography.

It's absolutely beautifully shot and I adore the play with the contrasting red and blue colors and dim lightning as a way of telling a story, and like the song suggests the plot is very dark indeed with a twist at the end you might not see coming. Suzy as always looks stunning and she definitely suits this mysterious, cinematic concept that it seems they're going for.

Song: 3,5/5
MV: 4/5

Feb 12, 2017

Video of the Week #35

f(x)'s Luna and Park Jin Young - Father

First of all I have to express my love for this song and for Insooni who wrote it and performed it first, as it is a heartbreaking ballad about family, love and hate whose lyrics truly touch me. Luna and her twin sister, who's an opera singer, perform this with such amazing chemistry between them as well as having stunning vocals and emoting skills. There's no way to stop the tears from falling.

Feb 1, 2017

Dreamcatcher Debut With "Chase Me" And I'm Already Stanning

드림캐쳐 DREAMCATCHERs foto.

Happy Face Entertainment, mostly known as the agency that hosts idol group Dal Shabet as well as R&B group 4Men, started teasing the debut of a new girl group in late november last year, named Dreamcatcher. The name itself was alluring and the teaser images were also well-shot and had a mystical aura over them which made me intrigued as to what this group was all about. Dal Shabet has been around for a while now yet without much success, and their little-sister group Minx, who debuted in 2014, were nowhere to be seen. All this made me feel a bit skeptical and hesitant, but then I watched the MV for "Chase Me", and I was completely won over by these seven girls.

드림캐쳐 DREAMCATCHERs foto.
It wasn't until maybe a good week or so after their debut that I became aware that Dreamcatcher is the rebooted version of Minx but with two newly added members. This came as a surprise to me because I'm not sure something exactly like this has ever happened in K-pop before. Sure, there have been comebacks which felt like reboots (such as the Wonder Girls whose album was titled just that) but re-debuting a group with a new name, new members and a completely different concept must be quite a unique thing to do.

In this case however I think it was the best possible decision to make. Minx's debut wasn't too bad but like many other rookie groups in this over-saturated industry they never gained any footing. Coming from a less influential company was also a contributing factor to their lack-of success, as well as having a concept that didn't really stand out nor made them memorable.

드림캐쳐 DREAMCATCHERs foto.As for the debut of Dreamcatcher though I can't say the same. I, for example, have never written a piece on Minx on this blog, as with many other rookie groups that didn't catch my interest, but here I am writing about Dreamcatcher and "Chase Me". When I decide whether to take interest in a new group I take into account both how much enjoy their music and overall concept, but also how successful I think the group have potential of becoming.

I don't want to start stanning a group that whose chance of becoming successful (however that's defined; it's a bit vague) is so small that I might end up feeling disappointed and hurt to see my faves not getting the recognition I think they deserve. I know it's selfish of me but because I usually become quite invested in the groups I do take a liking in it's a choice I have to make with each new group that pops up. Thus with me writing this piece about Dreamcatcher I am doing so not only because I love the song and MV but because I believe that Dreamcatcher, unlike Minx, have the potential of becoming huge.

드림캐쳐 DREAMCATCHERs foto.
Yet again we have another example of a K-pop release drawing influence and inspiration from Japanese music and popular culture, as the song, for starters, sounds like it could be an opening to an anime. I don't always love those kind of songs but this one I do love, as it has a perfect blend of high-intensity guitar riffs, slowed-down piano parts as well as both strong and sensible vocals. I love the edginess and the rockiness of it as well as it having a great, distinguishable melody and structure. It's a song that's memorable and does stand out, which is exactly what you need to have to gather attention and recognition in this industry. The fact that these girls are owning the dark, horror-inspired concept only makes it even better.

드림캐쳐 DREAMCATCHERs foto.The MV for "Chase Me" is absolutely wonderful to watch, and mostly so because it's fresh and original as the video takes on a concept not really seen by girl groups before. The well-established kings of horror in K-pop are without question Vixx, who've released MV's in the horror genre plenty of times and done so magnificently, and it would be unfair to say that Dreamcatcher could rival them in that area. Vixx's videos have been quite explicit and I admire them for that, but because of double standards it wouldn't go as well if a girl group did similar things.

Although this MV does have some creepy parts it still relies quite heavily on the girls still looking pretty and attractive throughout. I don't believe however that it takes away any value from the video because it's still very well-made with a mystical and eerie plot as well as great use of sets, lightning and camera work. My only wish is that they wouldn't have used so many different filters, but it's a relatively small complaint in comparison to the rest of the video's awesomeness.

드림캐쳐 DREAMCATCHERs foto.
Another impressive aspect about this debut is the choreography, which along with the song makes me think of GFriend and some of their releases. It might be silly to compare the two but I almost feel as if Dreamcatcher is like the darker sister of GFriend as they both have intense choreography as well as songs like rock elements and come from smaller companies. Dreamcatcher's concept is obviously much darker and the song much edgier, but there are similarities in the way their debuts have been received. GFriend gained attention for their choreography and vocals, and from what I can tell the response towards Dreamcatcher's debut has also been praise in those areas as well as them having a unique and cool concept.

As you can tell from this review I'm 100% on board the Dreamcatcher-train, and I truly wholeheartedly wish that they can pull through and be promoted in a way that will make them more popular. My only fear is that they will do something completely different for their next comeback and resort to a safer concept, which would be disappointing since these kind of groups are what makes me continue being a K-pop fan.

Song: 4,5/5
MV: 4,25/5