[Album] miss A – A Class

A Class is the first album released by miss A. Good-bye Baby was used as the promotional song and the album features only 5 new songs out of the 12 (excluding the remix). Love Alone was released right before the album’s release.

Released: July 18, 2011
1. One to Ten (하나부터 열까지)
2. Good-bye Baby [MV]
3. Help Me
4. Break It
5. Mr. Johnny
6. Play That Music DJ (그 음악을 틀어줘요 DJ)
7. Step Up
8. Breathe [MV]
9. Blankly (멍하니)
10. Love Again (다시 사랑) [MV]
11. Love Alone [MV]
12. Bad Girl Good Girl [MV]
13. Good-bye Baby (Silver Mix)

I was worried One to Ten was going to be an intro, but thankfully it’s a full song especially considering it’s only one of five new songs. It starts with a flowing piano line before going into an almost 4minute Heart to Heart melody, but this song seems more like the more mature sounding sister. It’s a decent opener, but I just can’t get H2H out of my head now that it sorta ruins everything. It’s a good song though, but a little empty sounding. The arrangement is rather weak for the melody and I don’t think they really work well together. I really like the vocals though, especially around the end.

Good-bye Baby is a much stronger song. The promotional song has a heavy beat and is more reminiscent of Bad Girl Good Girl than of Breathe. It’s quite addicting and I like the odd mixture of beats with the electric guitar undertone. The song is also very catchy and the repeated title throughout the chorus is nicely done with good singing breaks in between so it doesn’t become too annoying. My only problem with the song is that I’m not a big fan of songs that open with the chorus because I feel by the end they tend to sound like they drag on, which happens here especially since they don’t take the song to the next level at that time. It’s still a strong song though.

Help Me is a great follow-up and in my opinion, one of miss A’s stronger non-promotional songs. This midtempo pop tune features a bass line with a clap-beat over top. I really enjoy how the background vocals were utilized during the pre-chorus’ although there are times when the verses and pre-chorus just seem too long. The chorus is just so funky and catchy that the long wait takes away from it. Vocally, it’s a good song that shows off their vocals like the first track.

The next new song is Mr. Johnny, which is a nice change from the more midtempo dance / pop songs up until now. It’s a fast-paced and catchy electronic dance song with a fun atmosphere and striking array of synths. I’m not a big fan of the chorus because it’s a bit weak compared to the verses, which are quite strong. I think the rap is a nice touch here though and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb like in some of their other songs.

The last of the new songs is Good-bye Baby (Silver Remix), which is an interesting take on the song. Everything is slowed down and the arrangement comprises mostly of a powerful beat and some weird Spy-like synths, giving it a more “mysterious” quality to it. To be honest I don’t like this at all. The song is way too slow for me and it loses its punch. The rest of the album is basically full of their songs from the past two singles excluding one song, Just Fall Across.

The promotional songs, Breathe, Bad Girl Good Girl and Love Alone are probably the strongest here. Love Again, Step Up and Blankly are also two songs that I enjoyed from their releases. I was not happy with the inclusion of Play That Music DJ and Break It though, more so the former, which I find quite annoying and I actually would’ve liked it more if Just Fall Across was on this album instead. The latter has grown on me, but I don’t know whether or not I like it.

Overall: miss A’s first album was somewhat disappointing in one way, which was the lack of new tracks. I can understand the inclusion of their promotional songs, but it seems like such a waste for people who got the singles considering almost all the songs are included on the album. It would’ve been nice to hear some more new stuff too since the majority of the newer songs were quite good. Besides that it is a decent release with some ups, downs and in-betweens.


[Digital Single] Joo – Painter in the Wind OST

Painter in the Wind OST is the first digital single released by Joo.

Released: November 20, 2008
1. Color (색色)
2. Color (Inst.)

Color is a ballad that has some similarities to her debut release but also provides something different. It has a light hearted feel to it that is more in tune with her cover of Like Yesterday, while it also utilizes strings present in her other songs. It’s a charming song to say the least and for me sounds like it has a stronger J-Pop influence to it that reminds me of something by Mika Nakashima. Joo’s vocals are sweet and work well with the song although there are times in the chorus where I felt her voice was too weak for the arrangement.

Overall: This is a pretty nice OST song. It works well with Joo’s tone and different enough to set it a part from the songs on her debut single.


[Mini-Album] U-KISS – BREAK TIME

BREAK TIME is the fourth mini-album released by U-KISS. It’s also the last Korean release to feature members Alexander and Kibum. Shut Up!! was used as the promotional song.

Released: October 8, 2010
1. Before Yesterday (Intro)
2. Shut Up!! [MV]
3. Light it up
4. Rock ya’ body
5. Avatar
6. Shut Up!! (Inst.)
7. Light it up (Inst.)

Another mini another intro. Before Yesterday (Intro) is quite stunning with it’s use of piano and the layering on the vocals. It sucks that U-KISS’s intros sound so nice as it makes me really want them to make full songs out of them.

It’s weird to think though that this goes right into Shut Up!!, a song which pretty much continues the electronic dance sound they’ve been going for since the last two releases. Like their last few promoti0nal tracks, this one has a heavy dose of autotune but it differs in some areas. Its beat is significantly lighter and the chorus is far more toned down. It also has some weird slicing synths in there as well as a pretty odd fart-like beat. In general I think it has more life to it than Round & Round, but it comes off as a bit messy at times and I’m not really a fan of the rap in this song. It just lacks the punch. I’m more on the fence with this song and don’t know whether I like it or not.

Light it up is a bit more consistent though. It’s another electronic dance song, but has a really gorgeous repeating synth going throughout and the beat is more of a clap-beat which is better than the farting going on. It is a stronger song than the last one, but there’s just something about the opening part of the chorus that sounds a little off. With that said, the verses are great as the vocals sound really nice even if they are autotuned quite a bit.

Rock ya’ body brings something new to the table with a dance song with some dancehall punch to it. While it’s not what I expect from U-KISS, it’s a breath of fresh air after the numerous electronic dance songs and it adds some punch to this mini with its heavy beat. The vocal arrangement is ok, but I wish they didn’t autotune the vocals so heavily here.

Avatar, like the last song, is a dance tune but with a different edge to it. This time we have U-KISS with a bit of urban flair. While I think the song is just a big mess, it’s fun and the rap is really nicely done. The chorus is really catchy and the overall atmosphere is a great combination of the mini’s sound with a party influence. My only problem is the vocals. They are so autotuned that I really can’t tell who is who here.

Overall: U-KISS comes back strong with BREAK TIME. I was worried this mini would be like their first album and full of electronic pop songs, but it’s nice to see some more variety here. While I feel each song here seems pretty messy besides Light it up (and the intro), they are all solid listens. It’s also good to see the rest of the mini being better than the promotional song.


[Digital Single] SISTAR19 – Ma Boy

Ma Boy is the debut digital single by SISTAR subunit SISTAR19 which features only Hyorin and Bora. Another Brave Brothers production, it was a pretty big hit and helped elevate SISTAR’s popularity.

Released: May 3, 2011
1. Ma Boy [MV]
2. Ma Boy (inst.)

Ma Boy is a bit different for SISTAR. While it contains similar elements to that of their past singles, especially that of Shady Girl, the song has a more laidback R&B vibe to it. This is evident by the heavy beat and the lack of strong dance elements. The song pretty much has Hyorin in the forefront as while Bora is featured, her part isn’t as large as Hyorin’s so it sometimes feel more like Ma Boy by Hyorin featuring Bora. It would’ve been nice to see a few more parts for Bora since she’s a decent rapper and a nice interchanging of parts would’ve been interesting. Regardless, this is a stellar song and up to this point my favourite by the group (even if it’s a subunit). Vocally it’s great and Hyorin really works the song.

Overall: Definitely my favourite SISTAR related release to date. This laidback flirty R&B song really steps things up and we move away from the catchy, but generic pop they had been doing before while still having that SISTAR sound to it. The vocals were great too.


[Digital Single] miss A – Love Alone

Love Alone is the first digital single released by miss A. It was released as a pre-release single to their first album.

Released: May 02, 2011
1. Love Alone [MV]

Love Alone has miss A written all over it. It’s a dance / pop song that is fully in English and features a heavy constant beat similar to that of Bad Girl Good Girl’s. The song has an ethereal quality to it that is different from their past songs though, so it at least has something to differentiate itself. Despite being in English, the pronunciation by each member is still pretty decent and there are no heavy accents visible. What I really enjoy about the song though is that the song is both catchy, but not too in your face. Although I can imagine it to get a bit dull at times because it’s a bit more one dimensional, it’s a strong offering and everyone has equal parts!

Overall: A strong pre-release single by the girl group. What I like about this release though is that it sums up miss A pretty well and was a good teaser before their first album was released.


[Digital Single] U-KISS – What

What is the first digital single released by U-KISS. The song originally appeared on their first album, Only One.

Released: April 30, 2010
1. What (New Ver.) (뭐라고)

No clue why I’m actually reviewing this. I thought it would actually be something ‘new’ but What (New Ver.) is really not much different than the original. The only difference is there is a little more pizazz for the intro as the rest of the song is pretty much the same thing as it was in the album.

Overall: Little disappointing that they changed it up so little. They could have remixed this song quite well too or at least made it different. It is still good, but I’m only giving it a lower score because it’s not that much different.


[Digital Single] Song Ji Eun – Take Care of Us, Captain OST Part. 2

Take Care of Us, Captain OST Part. 2 is the third digital single released by Secret’s lead vocalist, Song Ji Eun. It was used as a theme song to the drama, Take Care of Us, Captain.

Released: January 19, 2012
1. It’s Cold (추워요)
2. It’s Cold (Instrumental)

It’s Cold is a slow piano ballad that fits its drama ties. It’s pretty gorgeous and much better than her last “typical” ballad, Yesterday, because the melody is much stronger here. This mixed with the use of strings and twinkles in the back give it a relaxing feel that also makes it sounds as though it has some trot influence in there. I especially enjoy the ending where the song proceeds to take it up a notch. Ji Eun really shines here and her voice fits perfectly for this type of song. My favourite part is definitely the middle 8 where she shows her control by switching from falsetto to her chest voice.

Overall: It’s a pretty simple ballad and not something that isn’t unheard of when it comes to drama tie-ins, but there’s something about it that is charming. Maybe it’s because Ji Eun just has the voice made for this type of music, but the melody itself was also quite captivating.