[Digital Single] IU – Fifth Finger Telecinema Project Vol.6

Fifth Finger Telecinema Project Vol.6 is the first digital single released by IU (not including the collaboration). It was used as the theme to the film, 19.

fifthfinger
Released: February 24, 2010
1. Fifth Finger (다섯째 손가락)
2. Fifth Finger (Instrumental)

Fifth Finger works perfectly with IU’s sweet and soft vocals and she excels at these gentle, acoustic pop songs. Unfortunately, these songs aren’t my cup of tea and this one is especially dull for me. It does have some nice qualities to it like the music being perfect for when the sun goes down and IU’s voice, but it feels more like background music than something I would actively listen to. It’s not a bad song, just not for me.

Overall: Pretty much not the kind of song I actively look for or listen to. A bit boring although it does have some charm.

C+

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[Digital Single] Na Yoon Kwon & IU – It’s First Love

It’s First Love is the first collaborative single between IU and Na Yoon Kwon.

itsfirstlove
Released: January 12, 2010
1. It’s First Love (첫사랑이죠)
2. It’s First Love (Instrumental)

It’s First Love is a nice midtempo sort of ballad. It has a more relaxed nature to it but it still has some energy in the music which helps keep it from being boring. Both artists sound quite nice, but I do feel like this is more of a Na Yoon Kwon song than a duet with IU as IU is largely given harmonies. Their voices work really nicely together, but it would’ve been nice to see IU have a bigger presence. The melody is stunning though.

Overall: This was a nice collaboration single, but I think it would’ve been nicer to see the two trade off of each other. The song is a beautiful pop ballad and does play on the strengths of both singers.

A-

[Album] Coco Lee – Promise Me

Promise Me is the second album released by Coco Lee.

promiseme
Released: December, 1994
1. I’m Still Your Lover (Unplugged) (我依然是你的情人)
2. Sincere Intentions (真心真意)
3. Promise Me (答應我)
4. Love, Never Comes Back Again (愛,再也不回來)
5. Don’t Let Me Really Fall in Love with You (別讓我真愛上你)
6. Let Me Love (讓我愛吧)
7. Unfaithful (變心)
8. Love Come So Easy
9. Fly (飛)
10. You are Not My Only One (你不是我的唯一)
11. Let the World Be More Beautiful (Merry Christmas) (讓世界更美麗)

In a way to connect this album to her first one, the album opens with an unplugged version of a song from her first album. I’m Still Your Lover (Unplugged) basically has Coco attempting the song acapella at the start and we really get a sense of her vocal abilities. It’s a short rendition, but it’s a nice way to open things up and it’s nice they picked the best song from her first album. Sincere Intentions comes off as a total 90’s pop ballad to me with its explosive music and soaring melody. The song does come a bit too generic and I feel like there isn’t that much that really makes it stand out from her other songs. It’s not particularly catchy, but the thing that the song does do well is show off Coco’s strong vocals. It’s not bad and I do like it, but I’ve heard better. The title track, Promise Me, is a change of pace as we are given something a bit more laid back with a nice touch of acoustic guitar. I do like how the song builds up into the chorus. It’s not that catchy, but the melody is definitely more memorable than the last song’s melody. It’s a decent tune, but once again, not a stand out in Coco’s discography. Love, Never Comes Back Again is a nice ballad, but with Chinese flair in terms of the synths used. It does bring something a bit different in the music compared to the other ballads, but at the same, the whole feeling of the song is a bit outdated and the structure is very similar to other songs on here. I want to like this song more, but it just doesn’t quite change throughout its four minutes. I wish the final chorus was more dramatic, but Coco flutters on her head voice a lot, so it doesn’t quite have the same impact. Don’t Let Me Really Fall in Love with You starts off sounding like another of your classic 90’s pop ballads. However, once the chorus comes popping in, the tune totally turns to the Mandopop side of things. It has a powerful backing, but the melody isn’t as powerful and floats on top of the heavy percussion. Fortunately, the good thing about this song is that the melody totally has the nostalgia factor to it. It’s much more memorable than the other songs up to this point. Let Me Love just comes out of nowhere and I love it. This is the first upbeat dance song and it totally has that 90’s house vibe to it that keeps it exciting. I know Coco can do some great upbeat tunes and this is a great example. The melody is catchy and the music is explosive and has a lot of energy. My only gripe is that Coco sings a lot of it in her head voice, so I feel like it would have been more powerful if she used her mixed voice more. Unfaithful starts off with a more traditional Chinese sound, but then switches to something more pop/rock. It’s a decent tune and I do like the change in sound, but I wish it played up the traditional vibe a bit more as it would have been a nice surprise. The song sort of ends up forgettable anyways. Love Come So Easy has a bit of a Mediterranean sound going on and has a more relaxed style. These kinds of songs just aren’t my cup of tea and while the song does have its charms, it just comes off a bit boring for me. It’s more background music, although I do like the guitar throughout the song. Fly is another pop ballad and I feel like it brings a bit of oldschool charm to its melody. Unfortunately, the music is just generic and it doesn’t really help allow the melody to stand out. It literally feels like someone copy and pasted another songs background music and pasted it here. Coco does sound quite nice though. You are Not My Only One is yet another pop ballad, although the music of this one is a bit jazzier. Unfortunately by this point, these ballads are doing nothing for me. The melodies aren’t bad, but the music is just so generic that it’s a bit difficult to get through them. It suffers from the same fate as the last song. Let the World Be More Beautiful (Merry Christmas) is a nice change just because it adds something different. This one, like the title says, has a bit of a Christmas vibe to it due to the music and inclusion of child choir. The biggest change though is that halfway through the song, the song just changes and becomes some upbeat pop tune. It’s not catchy, but at least it isn’t a ballad.

Overall: Coco’s first album wasn’t that strong, but I was hoping for something a bit stronger with this. I mean there is one really good song on here, but the majority of the album included these old school ballads that started to all blend into one. I wish there was a bit more variety, specifically more upbeat tunes as my main problem was that the music was really copy and paste for a lot of the songs. Also, the production of the songs was also off. There was some potential, but that mostly laid in Coco being such an expression vocalist.

C

[Mini-Album] OH MY GIRL – Pink Ocean

Pink Ocean is the third mini-album released by OH MY GIRL. LIAR LIAR was used as the promo track.

pinkocean
Released: March 28, 2016
1. LIAR LIAR
2. B612
3. I FOUND LOVE
4. KNOCK KNOCK
5. One Step Two Steps (한 발짝 두 발짝)

LIAR LIAR is more in line with CUPID’s sound than Closer’s sound. It is an upbeat pop tune that has a bit of an unpredictable chorus. At first I hated the transition into the rather bright chorus because it just sort of ruined the vibe that the pre-chorus built up. The verses are great though and I like the more “talk-singing” going on. Nowadays, I like the chorus, as it does have some charming parts like the hook. It’s catchy. Not their best promo track, but definitely a solid tune. B612 isn’t what I was expecting. This one is more on the midtempo side of things, but still continues the slight electronic sound of the last song with its light synths. Unfortunately, I feel like the transition into the chorus in this song just doesn’t do it. The energy builds up a bit and then the chorus comes in but everything just goes flat. The energy doesn’t go up and it just stays at a consistent level but very few, if any, memorable hooks. Has potential, but it gets boring. I FOUND LOVE doesn’t have more energy, but it isn’t my cup of tea. The music isn’t bad, but the bouncy beat doesn’t feel like it matches the dragged out sound of the melody nor the odd background vocals. Everything doesn’t feel as thought-out as I would hope and it comes off as a B-side from a Disney movie. Luckily KNOCK KNOCK comes dropping in as this one is much better. The song has a bit of funk in its music, which is what I love. The verses are also exciting because the beat tied in with Mimi’s rap helps to bring up the energy. The chorus isn’t as powerful as I want it to be, but it certainly has much better hooks and it comes off quite catchy. The vocal arrangement is more better placed and I like how everything blends into one. It’s fun. One Step Two Steps was released as a pre-release single prior to this mini album’s release. It is an ethereal pop tune written by B1A4’s Jinyoung and it certainly has his touch. It’s the best song on the mini and probably my favourite OH MY GIRL song as it has the perfect mix of energy and hooks.

Overall: I feel like the only thing keeping this mini-album from being really strong are the hooks in the B612 and I FOUND LOVE. B612 sounds like it could be a stellar track if the chorus had more energy and catchier hooks and I FOUND LOVE should either be replaced or tweaked so the music matches the melody more. The other songs on the mini are great and solid pop tunes that show the different colours of the group.

B+

[Digital Single] PRODUCE 101 – It’s Me (Pick Me)

It’s Me (Pick Me) is the first digital single released for the second season of Produce 101. This time it features 101 male trainees and was used as the theme song for the show.

itsmepickme
Released: March 9, 2017
1. It’s Me (Pick Me) (나야 나)

It’s Me (Pick Me) is just like its predecessor as it is a blazing upbeat EDM tune with a powerful drop. I feel like the difference between this one and the first one is that this one seems a bit more melodic while the first relied a lot on a simple, but intoxicating hook. Certainly, this one is still without a doubt a catchy tune and there are some great ideas thrown about. I especially love the drop where the title is repeated as the hooks really get stuck in your head. The music itself has no rest and it feels like a never ending blast of synths.

Overall: I’m still unsure which of the two theme songs (now three, but I’ll get there later) I prefer as both have their strengths. They are both exhilarating and powerful dance songs that have simple, but effective hooks. These are the types of songs I can easily play over and over.

A+

[Album] Ito Yuna – WISH

WISH is the second album released by Ito Yuna. It wasn’t as big of a success as her debut as it only sold 103,000 copies. There were four singles released prior to the album with three being top 10 hits.

wish.jpg
Released: February 20, 2008
1. Power of Love
2. alone again
3. Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~ (あなたがいる限り)
4. Urban Mermaid
5. HEARTBEAT
6. Colorful
7. Unite As One
8. Mahaloha
9. A Long Walk
10. Moon Rabbit
11. I’m Here
12. Wish
13. Tokyo Days
14. MY HEART WILL GO ON (Bonus Track)

Beginning the album on an upbeat note, Power of Love has a bit of a 90’s vibe going for it. The start of the song builds everything up to be a powerful tune. While it does have some energy, the chorus just falls flat. It transitions to a brighter pop sound, which is a weird contrast to the edgier verses and I don’t like it. I think this would have been better as two separate songs, but together the song is just disjointed. Luckily alone again comes crawling in. Ito does best with ballads and this is another example of a stunning song. I do find the verses to be a bit dull, but it’s that chorus that really takes things to the next level. The opening chorus hook is just gorgeous and Ito sounds absolutely gorgeous singing this. Here sweeter tone definitely fits this song more than the power ballads she usually goes for. This is the best song on the album. Anata ga Iru Kagiri ~A WORLD TO BELIEVE IN~ is actually a duet with Celine Dion and brings a blend of English and Japanese. This totally sounds like the type of song Celine would do as it is a soaring power ballad. Both singers do well, although Celine does take the lead in the chorus. It’s a very inspiring song, although I do feel the verses are a bit dull. No surprise it was the album’s final single though. Urban Mermaid was the album’s third single and is my least favourite of the singles. It has grown on me a bit, but it is still a weird pop song. The verses do a good job building things up, but then the explosive chorus comes in and it just sort of ruins everything. The transition is odd and the melody isn’t particularly catchy either. A bit disappointing. HEARTBEAT has a bit of a jazzier vibe to it, which is a nice change from the last song. It actually reminds me of something from the early/mid-00’s in J-Pop, but just doesn’t quite hit the mark as well. The chorus isn’t as strong as I want it to be. The melody just floats on top but it isn’t that catchy. I think it could have been tweaked to be stronger as I do enjoy the music. Colorful is a bit cheesy, but it’s a decent pop song. I do feel like the transition between the verses and chorus are much smoother here than in other songs, which is a nice change. It’s not particularly catchy, but it does have its charm. Ito also sounds really nice and her voice suits this kind of song really well. I am surprised they added this B-side to the album though. Unite As One is a long ballad, almost clocking in at seven minutes long. I do like it when Ito does ballads, but there is something about this one that just drags on and on. The verses take forever to get through. The chorus is nice, but this would have been much better if it was cut down another two minutes. Luckily, Mahaloha comes strolling in. This is easily one of the best songs on the album and was released as the album’s second single. It has a relaxing, summery vibe to it that shows a more restrained vocal performance from Ito. The song is also a duet with Micro from Def Tech. Both of their voices fit nicely with the tune and it’s a fun kind of song to sing along to. A Long Walk is an upbeat pop tune with a more electronic take on things. The song also has some Spanish elements to it that helps it stand out. I quite like the music to this song and the melody itself isn’t too bad either. It’s drawn out and beautiful and I love the way that Ito sings this. It’s a surprisingly strong song and one of the better album tracks. Moon Rabbit is a nice fusion of dance and Spanish sounds. It reminds me of something that Nakashima Mika would have done with its upbeat, but flushed out arrangement. The chorus is also surprisingly catchy and while the lyrics are a bit odd, everything still flows pretty well. It’s a great song. I’m Here was the album’s first single and is definitely the most aggressive song on here as it has a fast-paced beat and striking synths. I do like how catchy the chorus is, but I do feel like Ito’s voice doesn’t quite hit the spot as her sweeter and airier tone can’t bring in the right amount of power that the song needs. It’s still a decent tune though and one of the album’s catchier songs. The title track, Wish, is a nice pop ballad that is easily one of the album’s best tracks. While it is a bit long, it isn’t as drawn out and the verses don’t pull the song down. It reminds me of her other song, Precious as it gradually builds in power as the song goes on. The melody is gorgeous and while the music is a bit expected, everything works together so nicely. I don’t know what is up with Tokyo Days though. It is an upbeat, bright pop tune but it has some 90’s J-Pop vibes with it due to the use of background vocals. It reminds me of Komuro Tetsuya’s music, which was popular in the 90’s. Unfortunately, I just don’t think this song does well as it attempts to bring that oldschool sound with contemporary music, but doesn’t blend them well enough. MY HEART WILL GO ON was originally released on a tribute album for Celine Dion. Ito does a good job singing this classic tune. I do think she does strain a bit on the higher parts, but she is able to hold her ground throughout. The song does add a more contemporary twist to things, but it still keeps the original sound in tact. A nice ending.

Overall: I do find this album to be a bit better than her debut. While there are some duds like her first album, I do find the album tracks to be stronger on here. The singles weren’t as good, but they didn’t detract too much from the album. Surprisingly, the second half of the album was stronger than the first half for me as the songs had stronger melodies and more interesting arrangements. This was a solid album though.

B+

[Album] Red Velvet – The Red

The Red is the first album released by Red Velvet. Dumb Dumb was used as the promo song.

thered
Released: September 9, 2015
1. Dumb Dumb
2. Huff n Puff
3. Campfire
4. Red Dress
5. Oh Boy
6. Lady’s Room
7. Time Slip
8. Don’t U Wait No More
9. Day 1
10. Cool World

The Red opens with the promo song, Dumb Dumb, and what an explosive way to start. An upbeat pop tune with some R&B elements in the melody, the song uses the repetition but in a way that ends up as an earworm. The hook is simple but effective and it always feel properly placed throughout the song so it doesn’t get too overbearing. I do find the fact that the verses are short to be a good thing as it helps focus on the catchy chorus. Wendy also does a great job with the high notes that pop up throughout. Huff n Puff has a few more hip-hop elements in the music, which helps bring a different edge. I do like the verses a bit more than the chorus though. The chorus really reminds me of something from f(x) from their second and third albums as it has a funkier vibe to it and a bit more of an unpredictable but bright pop sound. It’s quite catchy and solid album track. Campfire is a nice followup as it slows things down a bit, but keeps some form of energy in its funky R&B beat. I love the attitude in the verses and the girls all sound great here. The chorus isn’t as infectious as the last two songs, but there is a nice vocal element that really helps to show off Seulgi and Wendy’s voices. This is another solid tune. Red Dress has a lot of energy to it and I love it. The verses help to build up all this energy and then the chorus comes in and it sorta goes down instead up. It’s a really interesting twist and while I was expecting something to keep reaching higher, I like that it changes to something more drawn out and heavy hitting. It’s a fun song. Oh Boy brings something a bit more laidback, but it still has power to it. I love the music and the brighter sound works nicely with the R&B-styled melody. I do think there are times where the song sort of drags on a bit too long, but it does have some really strong parts to it. I also like that things were changed up by making the chorus more falsetto-based. Lady’s Room feels like it has a bit more of an oldschool sound going for it as the music is somewhat reminiscent of 90’s pop. Unfortunately, that’s probably the best part about it as the chorus is a bit forgettable. I wish the hooks were stronger or the music brought more energy. While the verses aren’t bad, they don’t quite make up for it as the slowed down pre-chorus breaks the flow. I do like Time Slip a bit more as the subtle R&B and hip-hop elements really work well here. It definitely has more energy than the last song and the melody is much catchier. I don’t really like the rap breaks that pop up in the middle of the song though as it makes me think more of “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea. Don’t U Wait No More is a bit of a mess, but is still a lot of fun. It tries to blend a lot of different melodies together that creates a bit of a puzzle. That combined with the odd music really helps bring a different kind of tune. It’s not my favourite song, but it is quite memorable and I love the harmonies that pop up throughout. Day 1 is the song that most sticks out on this album because it is totally different from the other songs and sound more like something sung by Lovelyz. It’s still quite nice with its light ska sound and more laid back nature. With that said, it just sticks out too much and it doesn’t quite hit the spot for me as the chorus comes off lackluster. Cool World is back to that more straightforward dance/pop sound that the group was doing earlier in the album. I really like the verses to this song as the music works nicely there. However, the melody doesn’t quite match the music once the chorus comes around. It’s a bit slow and tries to be more dramatic, but the hooks are a bit dragged out. Not a bad tune, but not the strongest.

Overall: This album started off quite strong, but I feel like it slipped a bit as it continued. It’s not to say it is a bad album, as there are no bad songs on here. Just that some of the songs just didn’t stand out that much or had some qualities to it that just didn’t quite fit to my liking. It’s a well-produced album and there are some quality tracks on here though. I do wish there were a few more songs like Dumb Dumb that I would really fall in love with though.

B+