Mar 27, 2017

Girl Group Takeover: Twice, Lovelyz & Gugudan Make Comebacks

March has definitely been (and continues to be) the month of girl groups having comebacks. Ok fine; these groups did have had theirs in late February but they've mostly been promoting in March so that's why I'm saying so as well as other girl groups actually having comebacks this month but that's for another post. Anyhow; three different groups from three different companies with different concepts and musical styles recently dropped new releases, those groups being Twice, Lovelyz and Gugudan. There were some surprises and some not-so-surprises but overall three strong comebacks from the fourth generation girl groups of K-pop.

Twice had their comeback first with "Knock Knock" from their repackaged album "Twicecoaster: Lane 2" and I was personally really excited for this release. I did end up loving "TT" a lot but somehow I wanted something a bit stronger from them and I was hoping this would be it. Although none of their releases so far have been over-the-top sugary none of them have been as fierce and powerful as their debut release which was something I missed. They've definitely been playing more on the cute side as of recent but never without going too unnaturally cute as their releases has been age appropriate, but I personally wanted them to turn to a more grown-up side of the spectrum this time around. The teaser images for this comeback definitely felt more so, especially with the styling being more sexy and not as sweet, thus I was hoping the song would be up to par.

TWICEs foto.I can't say it was exactly like I had hoped but "Knock Knock" definitely has a vibe and a drive to it that I appreciate much more than for example "Cheer Up" which is a very cute-sounding song. "Knock Knock" is more pop-rock oriented and almost sounds to me like it could be a B-side of off one of their mini albums; and I mean that in a good way as some of their B-sides have been favored by me over their title tracks. It has a great instrumental with electronica beats as well as electric guitars and the overall pulse and tempo of the song makes it a very energetic and lively sounding track.

It also has a great melody and chorus with solid vocal performances from the members, leaving me not much to complain about. It might not have as much of a memorable hook as their other promotional tracks but I find that it has a maturity that the other ones might lack. It still borders on the cutesy side of things but in very natural way which I appreciate. It never feels like they're forcing anything but are rather just being their genuine selves who happen to be smiley, playful and energetic. The MV is also a genuinely good video and I like that it's connected to the story in the video for "TT", but in a fun and not too complicated kind of way. Enough so that you have to think about it but not so much that it'll give you a headache (yes I'm looking at you BTS). JYP himself makes a cameo as well which is nothing but hilarious, adding to the light-hearted vibe of the MV. The girls are adorable and I love that their personalities get to shine through, which is one of this group's most advantageous traits.

TWICEs foto.
I also love the way the choreography is made to mirror the lyrics of the song and although it's not very difficult or complex in terms of moves the formations are really clever and the girls definitely sell it well. The way that the choreography is shown is with the use of stop-motion recording which means that the moves match the beat perfectly and add a bit of a quirk to the video. Overall I've enjoyed this comeback quite a lot and I hope that this is a direction Twice will continue walking towards; a bit sassier and a bit more mature but equally as lovable.

Song: 4,1/5
MV: 4/5

About a week later Lovelyz made their awaited comeback with "WoW!", which is their first release after almost a year. Their latest comeback was with "Destiny" last year which was somewhat of a departure from their previous material as it was less cute and upbeat and more dramatic and elegant. This time however they've returned to their earlier image which is dreamier and quirkier but with a song that is strangely similar to "Destiny"; or at least parts of it. The structure of "WoW!" is a bit confusing as the main hook of the song is neither a verse nor a chorus or something in between and the verses aren't really verses but rather two lines of build-up before the actual chorus drops.

Lovelyz foto.There seems to be somewhat of a retro theme in terms of the styling and the hook of the song is kind of funky as well which is a theme I can get behind, but the chorus sounds like a rip-off of "Destiny" which I don't get at all. If I wanted to listen to "Destiny" I would and I don't really see the point in using almost the exact same melody and chord structure here as it does nothing to develop Lovelyz' sound or show any kind of growth. It's sad that it clashes with the otherwise funky retro sound of the song as it kind of worsens the entire impression of the song. It's a shame because the concept does have potential.

The video for the "WoW!" is not as underwhelming as the song however, as it's a very typical Lovelyz video in the sense of it being cute, quirky and creative with an eye for detail. The colors are great as is the styling and the sets and props in addition to good camera-work and editing. The idea of portraying the members as paper-dolls is also cute and matches the concept perfectly. Despite this I don't really feel anything when watching this video. It's certainly unique and well-made but despite this it actually bores me quite a bit which also is disappointing.

I think it goes without saying that this comeback left me quite let down. I've never been extremely into this group but I've always enjoyed their singles and I really liked their last mini-album so this comeback comes as a surprise. The song isn't living up to expectations and although the concept is good it doesn't weigh up the overall underwhelming feeling of this comeback, sadly. The problem isn't that it's bad in any way because it's not, it's just that I feel like they could do much better.

Song: 3,2/5
MV: 3,5/5

Only a day after Lovelyz Jellyfish Entertaiment's first and only current girl group Gugudan had their first comeback after debuting last year with "Wonderland". I personally wasn't all that impressed with their debut as it felt extremely rushed and thus lacked quality in both song and concept, but with this comeback it seems like they've taken their time. "A Girl Like Me" is quite different from "Wonderland" in every sense of the word and I definitely think this comeback suits the group much more. They've taken it from a girly and sweet fairy-tale-like concept with bright colors to this confident and classy piece that's all about loving yourself.

구구단 gugudans foto.
"A Girl Like Me" is as a song is very different from "Wonderland" as it's less cutesy and bubblegum sticky sweet and much more powerful. It's still a pretty ordinary electronica pop track but there is a drive to it and a stronger feeling that I guess along with the overly confident lyrics makes for a song that leaves an impression on you. You should all know by now that if there's one thing that I love it's girls singing about praising and loving themselves and that's exactly what "A Girl Like Me" does.

In this song the girls sing encouraging words towards their love interest as they tell them to hurry up as they're girls who don't have time to wait for guys who can't act on their interests. Lines such as "Sorry I know we've never seen each other before but I wanna make you mine" and "This isn't a chance that you can get everyday" speak loudly about the confidence that they have and the awareness of their own self-worth which I can't get enough of. You go girls; get all them boys!

구구단 gugudans foto.To reflect the lyrics' nature being almost borderline narcissistic the video does everything in its power to show off the girls as self-centered as possible; but in a fun way. Each of the girls have their own individual set that in one way or another showcase their exaggerated confidence, such as Mina's bedroom being covered in pictures of herself, Mimi posting countless selcas and videos on social media, Nayoung living the life of a photoshoot and Hana being surrounded by mirrors. All of them have their own little story in which their self-obsession is clearly shown and all of this in sets with great use of props and strong, bold colors.

Another aspect of this comeback that I really enjoy is that although their concept has switched from their debut one to a more sassy and fierce one they haven't suddenly changed their initial girlishness and gone all "bad girls" as one may would associate with these kind of lyrics. Said lyrics may be written to portray them as strong and independent but they're still dancing and singing in dresses and skirts in typically feminine colors, which is a combination we don't see enough of in K-pop. The styling may still be more on the cute and girly side but that doesn't mean they can't send a message of confidence and self-love and that's actually a really important message. I do hope they can continue this type of style, both musically and stylistically, as it seems to suit the girls much better and has also produced one of my favorite comebacks so far this year.

Song: 4,2/5
MV: 4/5

Mar 26, 2017

Video of the Week #39

Lovelyz - "WoW!" And Gugudan - "A Girl Like Me" On Dingo Music

Both groups perform live versions of their new songs on Dingo Music (reviews of said songs will be posted tomorrow by the way) and they kill it. Their live vocals are slaying left and right and I just have to say how much I love all these new girl groups.

Mar 14, 2017

BTS Make A Glorious Return With "Spring Day" And "Not Today"

방탄소년단s foto.

Today I had one of my two exams this week and to celebrate I'm writing about BTS' latest comeback; yay! This also means that there probably won't be any more posts this week since I have another exam on Saturday and I have to, well, study. I know, I'd much rather be writing about K-pop but what can a girl do?

Anyhow I feel like this is the point where I officially admit that I'm BTS trash. Following their release of "Wings" last year they've now come back with a repackaged version of the album called "You Never Walk Alone" containing three new songs. Despite it having almost the exact same track listing as "Wings" I've not only purchased the album but I bought both versions of the album. On one hand I can't believe this is what I'm spending my money on now but on the other hand I don't regret it the slightest. For this comeback they've released two music videos for two separate songs; "Spring Day" and "Not Today", whom are as different as they are amazing.

Mar 12, 2017

Video of the Week #38

Dreamcatcher - Lucky Strike

One of my favorite new groups of 2017 recently posted a cover of Maroon 5's song "Lucky Strike", which apparently was pretty big in Korea at the time of its release. I had personally never heard the song before but I'm definitely enjoying this cover. The singing is on point, the dancing is fierce and I love that they didn't change the pronouns.

Mar 9, 2017

K.A.R.D Keeps On Delivering With "Don't Recall"

KARDs foto.

It's only been two months but DSP's newest project K.A.R.D is back with a new single called "Don't Recall", much to the happiness of fans of the group, myself included. This co-ed group consisting of Somin, Jiwoo, BM and J.Seph made their debut in December last year and impressively so, as they were on of my favorite new groups of 2016 and I'm sure for many other as well. Not only was their concept unique and refreshing but their debut song "Oh NaNa" was pretty amazing as well and won many people over. Their newest single is within the same genre of tropical house and is easily as great as their previous release; it might even be better.

The song does follow a similar pattern of singing, rapping, a chorus and an instrumental breakdown, but the melody and mood of the song is quite different. "Don't Recall" is more mellow with its heartfelt post-breakup lyrics, as we're told the story from two different perspectives; the girl and the guy respectively. She's over him and wants nothing more than forget the times they had together whereas the guy is still hanging on to what's left of the relationship and refusing to let go. I love that they're utilizing the fact that there are both male and female members in the group as a way of telling a story with their lyrics, as it's one of the many strengths of this song.

KARDs foto.The MV for "Don't Recall" doesn't do the song full justice but it's definitely an upgrade from "Oh NaNa". I don't know the budget was any different from their previous video release but the way it's shot and edited does make it appear to be of a higher quality. Although it's shot in mostly indoor box sets they've used some clever tricks to make it more dynamic, such as the sharp colors and play with light from different angles.

I enjoy the switch between different shots of contrasting red and blue colors as the vibe goes from hot and fiery to sad and melancholy, as well as the dancing sequences in which both set and the members' clothes are all white. The styling in general is very elegant as the girls are dressed up in fancy clothes and jewelry and the guys in fitted shirts and dress pants, which also adds to a more high-quality feeling of the MV.

There doesn't seem to be much of a plot or clear story to the MV though which would've been nice to see as the lyrics are so telling, but it doesn't matter too much as the emotions of the song still do come across. Paired with another great choreography the video still holds its own well enough. I do find it fascinating to watch their choreographies because many moves do play a lot on them being different genders, but the majority of the moves are the same for everyone which creates a unique dynamic. All of them have very different styles of dancing as well so although they might not be completely in sync all the time it's still enjoyable to watch.
KARDs foto.
Overall I've been finding this comeback very satisfying as a continuation of their awesome debut, with this one being only the members of K.A.R.D and no hidden ones which I certainly prefer. They have such a unique thing going for them and seeing how big they've already become among international fans I hope it won't be long until they become popular in Korea as well. "Don't Recall" is another fantastic song that plays on their strengths as a co-ed group as do the video and choreography and I can't wait for their next release.

Song: 4,25/5
Video: 3,2/5

Mar 5, 2017

Video of the Week #37

Jungkook - We Don't Talk Anymore 

BTS youngest member Jungkook released his cover of Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez's hit "We Don't Talk Anymore" last monday and it's all I've been listening to this past week. The video might not be an incredibly exciting watch since it's just a black screen but the audio more than makes up for it. Man do I love this kid. He just blows my mind constantly.

Mar 3, 2017

NCT Dream Shows Improvement With "My First And Last"

NCTs foto.

It doesn't feel like that long ago that SM's arguably youngest group and NCT unit NCT Dream debuted, but it was way back in August last year that "Chewing Gum" was released. It's however clear that it's been a while judging by the concept of this comeback compared to their debut and definitely my reaction towards it. If you remember I wrote just a short piece about their debut and although it was a perfectly good debut I also had a hard time watching the MV and watching them perform as it felt like I was watching a bunch of kids, which I guess they are, but still. It was too childish for me to take interest, simply put. With this comeback with "My First And Last" however the boys of NCT Dream (minus Jaemin who's been injured) have grown from middle school kids to high school teenagers, which is a concept I can get behind.

In this comeback the "dreamies", as fans lovingly call the boys, are experiencing their first crush, but the twist is that it's their teacher who's the object of their interest. It's definitely another cute and innocent concept and the boys are of course still very young but at least this feels more like them being teenage boys rather than children. All of the members are in high school except for the youngest two, I believe, but for being 15-18 years old this image suits them much better than the one for "Chewing Gum". The song is also heaps better, with a funky pop vibe and a chorus that is likable immediately at first listen. Although I like NCT 127's music releases I can't deny that this sound is more public friendly, which might be why this unit recently experiences their first music show win and not their older counterpart.

NCTs foto."My First And Last" is arguably a great tune and the lyrics are just adorable. Even though they're singing vividly about their feelings towards their crush it's still in a very naive and innocent way. There are lines such as "I don't know what being tipsy feels like but I feel drunk when I'm with you" and the general wish to keep this first love as their last and only love, which is super sweet. They're still young and inexperienced but are obviously still certain about their feelings and emotions. I like that there are no real sexual undertones to their confessions, but the lyrics don't give off the feeling of childishness either which makes for a great middle-ground to match the concept of the group.

The MV for the song is just as sweet and heart-warming, as the boys portray students crushing on their teacher like I mentioned earlier. Thus the majority of the video takes place in school surroundings, such as the classroom and the gym. The basic plot is that they want to find a way to impress their teacher and come up with the brilliant idea to build their own cars made out of cardboard, thus making them sneak into school late at night to steal some building material. In the end however it is revealed that said teacher is not only married but also has a baby; killing all hope of a future romance. Of course this was to be expected but I think we can all relate to that time in your life when you had crushes that could never turn into more but still hoped because that's what you do when you're young and naive. This video captures that feeling very well and I think it will speak to a broad audience since we've all either been there or are there.

NCTs foto.
Compared to "Chewing Gum" this comeback also has much better styling, as they boys also look like teenagers and not kids, and even though it was only 6 months ago it certainly appears like they've all grown quite a bit since then. It could be that the clothes they're wearing helps though, as well as the choreography which also is more mature.

"Chewing Gum" had an awesome dance routine based partly on the use of hover-boards and while this one do not I actually like it a lot more. Choreographed by Tony Testa, who has worked with many other SM groups previously, this routine both fits the funky vibe of the song and has awesome formations, creative moves and variety. So much actually it might be my favorite NCT choreography after "The 7th Sense". Tony Testa's work can either be a hit or a miss to me but this one he totally nailed.

NCTs foto.Overall I've enjoyed this comeback much more than I expected to, mostly thanks to an awesome song, great choreography but above all an upgrade in concept. It went from being too childish for me to take interest in to something I genuinely like and want to support. I do think that them showing a slightly more grown-up image definitely paid off as even noona-fans like myself can enjoy the unit without feeling too creepy. I can't wait to see where this group will go in the future and hopefully Jaemin can be with them next time as well.

Song: 4/5
MV: 3,8/5

Mar 1, 2017

Glorious Photoshoots - February

GFriend for Dazed & Confused. 

Jackson for InStyle. 

Taeyeon (SNSD) - Beauty+ Magazine February Issue ‘17Taeyeon (SNSD) - Beauty+ Magazine February Issue ‘17

Taeyeon for Beauty+.

EXID - Cosmopolitan Magazine February Issue ‘17

EXID for Cosmopolitan.

Jinyoung (GOT7) - Allure Magazine February Issue ‘17Jinyoung (GOT7) - Allure Magazine February Issue ‘17

Jinyoung for Allure. 

Astro for Marie Claire. 

Krystal ( F(x) ) - Harper’s Bazaar Magazine February Issue ‘17Krystal ( F(x) ) - Harper’s Bazaar Magazine February Issue ‘17

Krystal for Harper's Bazaar.

Seventeen - Nylon Magazine February Issue ‘17

Seventeen for Nylon. 

Nam Joo Hyuk for Céci.

Yuna for Cosmopolitan. 


Joy and Irene for Céci.

Kai (EXO) - Esquire Magazine February Issue ‘17Kai (EXO) - Esquire Magazine February Issue ‘17

Kai for Esquire. 

Mino (Winner) - Nylon Magazine February Issue ‘17Mino (Winner) - Nylon Magazine February Issue ‘17

Mino for Nylon. 

Gong Hyo Jin for Marie Claire. 

Yoona (SNSD) - Dazed & Confused Magazine February Issue ‘17Yoona (SNSD) - Dazed & Confused Magazine February Issue ‘17

Yoona for Dazed & Confused. 

Ryu Jun Yeol - Harper’s Bazaar Magazine February Issue ‘17Ryu Jun Yeol - Harper’s Bazaar Magazine February Issue ‘17

Ryu Jun Yeol for Harper's Bazaar. 

Eunwoo (Astro) - Céci Magazine February Issue ‘17Eunwoo (Astro) - Céci Magazine February Issue ‘17

Eunwoo for Céci. 

Hyejeong for InStyle.

Wooshin (Up10tion) - Céci Magazine February Issue ‘17Wooshin (Up10tion) - Céci Magazine February Issue ‘17

Wooshin for Céci.

Ji Soo - Elle Magazine February Issue ‘17Ji Soo - Elle Magazine February Issue ‘17

Ji Soo for Elle.