[Album] Sowelu – 24 -twenty four-

24 -twenty four- is the third album released by Sowelu. The album became her highest charting, peaking at #3, however, it also saw lower sales than her past two albums as it only sold 84,000 copies. The singles were more successful as a whole as three of the four were top 20 hits. Surprisingly, one of the singles was not featured on the here.

24twentyfour
Released: July 12, 2006
1. Dear friend
2. Crazy for you
3. Mamoru Beki Mono (守るべきもの; Shall Be Protected)
4. tomorrow
5. smile again
6. DANCE
7. Flyer
8. cry
9. Let’s go faraway
10. Kimi no Kehai (君の気配; Your Sign)
11. without you
12. Pride
13. to YOU

dearfriend

The album opens with its last and most popular single, Dear friend (#19 / 23,000). This is a bit different from her other A-sides as it doesn’t have any R&B influences and is an upbeat pop song with rock elements. To me, it’s not my cup of tea. I do like the energy that it gives, but the fact that Sowelu has done some stronger pop tunes that were much catchier, this just comes off a bit lackluster. It doesn’t really take me into the album like her ‘Do You Remember That?’ did.

Crazy for you is definitely cooler as it has a really funky guitar going on. The pop/rock sound is still present here, which I’m not too happy about as I think Sowelu works best with R&B. The verses are decent, but nothing particularly interesting, while the chorus isn’t much better. It’s just a lackluster pop/rock tune that comes off really generic but average.

Mamoru Beki Mono was used as a theme to a Pokemon movie and it is the album’s first ballad. It’s a full-fledged piano ballad and I really like how it starts off. It has a really sentimental feel to it. The chorus isn’t as strong as I feel like the English parts sort of ruin things a bit. It is better than the other two songs, but it does drag on a bit by the end.

tomorrow brings things back to the pop/rock sound but this one comes off like an album filler from Avril Lavigne’s first album. I do like qualities of it, but it just lacks a punch. The songs keeps a consistent feeling throughout and I feel like it really needs something to elevate it. Sowelu does sound nice here though and it is one of the stronger pop/rock songs.

smile again has some folk qualities to it and I do like that it stands out. The pop/rock influences are there, but it isn’t as strong as there is a nice violin to help offset the guitars. I feel like this song wouldn’t be bad for someone like YUI, but it needs to elevated. The chorus just doesn’t push things hard enough and plays too much on soft and sweet.

When I saw the title for DANCE, I was expecting something more…well…dance. Unfortunately, this is yet another lackluster pop/rock song. I think Sowelu’s vocals can actually fit this style really well and the melodies are decent, but the songs just don’t push it far enough. The music doesn’t have any impact and this song just comes off as forgettable.

Flyer is more relaxed and focuses on the acoustic guitar. It’s more on the midtempo side, which is a nice change, but it is another tune that doesn’t particularly impress me. The music doesn’t really go anywhere and Sowelu’s vocals don’t give me any kind of emotion.

cry is another acoustically focused track, but this one actually has something going for it with its gentle vibe and R&B beat. It might not be the best song, but at least it brings something different. Sowelu’s sweet vocals really work nicely here.

letsgofaraway

Finally, we come to Let’s go faraway (#64 / 9,400), the album’s first single. This is literally the album’s saving grace because we get a sparkling summer pop tune that is insanely catchy and has a lot of fun energy to it. It’s one of my favourite Sowelu songs and it is easy to get sucked into it. It has such a positive feel to it that the hooks really work wonderfully here. The music is bright and explosive and help to push this feeling.

Kimi no Kehai is a pop ballad that finally brings something different as well. The verses aren’t bad as they featured a variety of instruments that come flying in. The chorus is a bit generic and doesn’t quite hit the spot. I really wish the music had some punch to it as the music stays so quiet that I wonder what its doing. Not her strongest ballad.

without you is another slow song, but this time we have a nice return of R&B Sowelu. This song sounds like something that would have been featured on her last album and I’m quite happy because it is a decent song. I just wish the chorus had a stronger hook as I don’t think I’ll come back to this song that much, but it is nice to hear something that has a bit of punch in its music.

Not quite sure what to think of Pride. It definitely has that pop/rock sound, but it has a more aggressive side to it that isn’t present in the other pop/rock songs on this album. It definitely reminds me of something from Avril Lavigne, which I’m happy about. That is, until the chorus hits, where things turn a bit more pop. I wish it kept being aggressive and darker because it helped it stand out. It’s not bad though.

toyou

to YOU (#20 / 13,000) was the album’s second single (as Get Over was not included) and is a full-fledged pop ballad. I didn’t like this song that much at first because I thought it was boring, but it has grown on me a lot. The melody is something that would have been heard on her second album and the hooks are much stronger here than on any other ballad on this album. The chorus also has a lot of punch thanks to the music, which is what I was looking for.


Overall: This is so weird because I do not know what happened. Sowelu’s last album was very strong and had some amazing tracks. This has maybe two. Instead of going her usual pop/R&B route, she switched to pop/rock, which was an odd change. I think it is great when a singer experiments with their sound, but this just didn’t sound like a Sowelu album and the songs were just much weaker. They weren’t terrible, just average and didn’t have anything particular interesting about them. I can’t remember what most of the songs sounded like.

C+

[Mini-Album] NU’EST – CANVAS

CANVAS is the fifth mini-album released by NU’EST. Love Paint (Every Afternoon) was used as the promotional track.

canvas
Released: August 29, 2016
1. Daybreak
2. R.L.T.L (Real Love True Love) (one morning)
3. Love Paint (Every Afternoon)
4. Thank You (evening by evening)
5. Look (a starlight night)

I love how the mini-album titles cover the times throughout the day. The first song, Daybreak is a duet between Minhyun and JR. It’s a pretty laid back R&B-inspired track that works really well with Minhyun’s sweet tone. This kind of song is quite popular in Korea and while it can get a bit dull at times, I really like this song. The melody is catchy and the music suits it really well and fits the theme. It’s a nice starter.

R.L.T.L (Real Love True Love) (one morning) starts off with a piano, but starts to bring some synths and a beat in and creates a fun dance tune. My only gripe with this song is that the first chorus has nothing and only features the instrumental. I’m usually fine with this, but I feel like this song has so much more potential because the beat and music is so beautiful. It’s still a stellar tune and something I wasn’t expecting.

The promo track, Love Paint (Every Afternoon), is my favourite NU’EST song and was one of my favourites from 2016. It goes the electro-urban route and is similar to ‘Overcome’ from their last mini. It builds up slowly before exploding with a powerful beat and flying synths. It is really beautiful and I just love how everything ties in so well with each other. JR’s rap is the only part that sticks out a bit, but the rest of the song easily covers that. Charming.

Thank You (evening by evening) is a midtempo R&B tune although the R&B influences are much stronger here within the melody. I think this is a solid tune, but it’s the weakest at this point. I feel like it doesn’t have the same dreamy feel the rest of the mini has and it feels a bit generic and dull at times. The vocals are really nice though.

I was really worried the last song was going to be a slower tune, but Look (a starlight night) is another upbeat dance tune. It has a cooler vibe to it and doesn’t really burst out until the chorus, where that beat comes in and really changes things up. It’s a bit repetitive in its hooks, but there are some nice melodic parts in between. With that said, I love the feel of the song and it ties really well into the theme with its dreamier qualities.


Overall: This mini is amazing. I am really impressed. It has a really cohesive sound despite all the tracks sounding different from each other. All three of the upbeat tunes are solid and some of NU’EST’s best songs, while Daybreak is a great midtempo R&B tune. The only one I wasn’t keen on was Thank You, but it is still a decent song. I just wish the music followed by having a dreamier quality to it. Besides that, this mini is the group’s best.

A

[Digital Single] A.C.E – 5TAR (Incompletion)

5TAR (Incompletion) is the first digital single released by A.C.E. It was released as a special single for fans and only featured four members at the time (Chan was in The Unit’s “UNB”).

5tar
Released: March 15, 2018
1. 5TAR (Incompletion)

5TAR (Incompletion), like many special fan songs, is a ballad. It is a pretty good song as it keeps up the contemporary style the boys have going for them, but it drags on a bit too much at times. The beat is really slow and even when the instruments come in, the melody just has to speed nor impact until the end. The guys do sound really great here and this is a nice showcase of their strong vocals.


Overall: I’m a bit on the fence with this song. It has some really nice qualities to it, but then I feel like it loses its impact a bit as it takes so long to really get to that powerful point. It needs to have a faster beat and strong arrangement.

B

[Mini-Album] MISIA – THE GLORY DAY

THE GLORY DAY is the first mini-album released by MISIA. The mini did decently in its first week, peaking at six, but longevity really played in its favour. It eventually sold around 750,000 copies.

thegloryday
Released: November 21, 1998
1. key of love ~Ai no Yukue~ (key of love ~愛の行方~; Love’s Whereabouts)
2. THE GLORY DAY
3. MELODY
4. INTO THE LIGHT
5. INTO THE LIGHT (GOMI’S BEAUTY & BEAST MIX)
6. THE GLORY DAY (THE SPECIAL DAY MIX)
7. key of love ~Ai no Yukue~ (ACOUSTIC CRAB SOUL MIX)

key of love ~Ai no Yukue~ is such an interesting start with its uplifting music and high falsetto. MISIA sounds great in the verses and I do like that they give a bit of unpredictability with the melody. However, it’s the pre-chorus that is the highlight with its slow buildup and dramatic attitude. The chorus is fun, although I’m not as engrossed with it as I was hoping. It’s still a good listen though and I like how everything intertwines within each other.

The title track, THE GLORY DAY, is a powerful and dramatic ballad. It is a very long song, topping in at over eight minutes and thirty seconds. I’m not quite sure what to make of it because I do like it, but it just feels too long for me to handle the whole length. I do love the chorus though with its touches of brass and gospel influences. It’s a really beautiful song and really takes it up a step in the second half of the song.

MELODY is a long song as well (everything on this mini is over five minutes). This is the album’s funky disco-inspired tune and I absolutely love the music to this one as it sounds so fleshed out and full. The chorus is especially great with the brass instruments to give it that punch. It’s not particularly catchy, but I still find myself immersed in everything the song offers.

INTO THE LIGHT was not what I was expecting with its house and disco influences. I do like that the song has some brass to tie it in with the rest of the mini, but it is still able to shine on its own with that powerful beat. The song is just really exhilarating and MISIA pulls it off. That chorus is explosive and exciting and not many vocalists could pull off those bigger notes. It’s easily the strongest song on the mini.

The mini also includes three remixes of the three promoted tunes. INTO THE LIGHT (GOMI’S BEAUTY & BEAST MIX) clocks in at over ten minutes, which I just cannot sit through. I do actually love the beat and it really makes me think of dance music from the late 90’s. I really want to love this, but I can’t sit through the entirety of it without diverting my focus. Still a fun remix.

THE GLORY DAY (THE SPECIAL DAY MIX) changes things up by making the song into an R&B tune. I still feel like this fits with the song nicely and helps to simplify the music a bit to really highlight MISIA’s vocals. It is also a whole two minutes shorter, which helps it not drag on.

key of love ~Ai no Yukue~ (ACOUSTIC CRAB SOUL MIX) really brings that acoustic vibe and I love it. I dare say that I actually enjoy this version more than the original as the vocals sound much clearer and the emphasis on the melody really makes me get into the song more. It’s great!


Overall: This mini is so solid and I was not expecting such a strong offering after her stellar debut album. I think the only thing keeping this mini from taking it to the next level is the fact that these songs are all so long. With that said, since a lot of these songs are great, it isn’t too difficult to get through them (except for the two very long ones). I love that the four original songs had that classic MISIA style while the remixes still kept the original structures in place while bringing some fun changes.

A

[Mini-Album] TWICE – Page Two

Page Two is the second mini-album released by TWICE. Cheer Up was used as the promoted track and was a massive hit for the group, earning the group their first number one.

pagetwo
Released: April 25, 2016
1. Cheer Up
2. Precious Love (소중한 사랑)
3. Touchdown
4. Tuk Tok (툭하면 톡)
5. Woohoo
6. Headphones On (Headphone 써)
7. I’m Gonna Be a Star

I love that the mini opens with Cheer Up, which follows up their last promo track with something a little more on the sugary side. With that said, even with the aegyo-filled vocals, the song is just full of catchy hooks. The chorus is especially ear worm-y with its simple but effective “Cheer Up” catchphrase. The verses are also quite fun and each section has a different but still equally catching sound. It just glides along before exploding into the chorus.

Precious Love is a cover of a Park Ji Yoon song by the same name. I love the original, so this was an interesting choice. It’s more on the cuter side, but it is changed up a bit to sound more contemporary. This song is just perfect for TWICE. They aren’t known as vocalists, but the group’s unique tones thrive in this sweet pop tune that showcases each member.

Touchdown is one of the group’s more intense pop tunes with its clapping beat and more aggressive vocal delivery. It’s nice to hear the girls do this kind of song because it shows they can do something a bit harder hitting. The song has a great hook with its countdown before swinging right into a trumpet heavy backdrop. It’s a fun song.

Tuk Tok starts off in a soulful way but then goes right into a cuter pop song. I think this is the first song I’m not a big fan of. It is just really messy. The song tries to do a lot of things, but ties everything together in an odd way. None of it is particularly catchy and there are times when the vocals sound totally off.

Another upbeat pop tune, Woohoo is better than the last song just because it seems to transition smoother. With that said, there is something missing. The melody feels like it has the potential to be as strong Cheer Up, but the editing was just messing around. The music does nothing to heighten the melody and the melody itself could use some tweaking.

I like the way Headphones On starts off because it has a cooler vibe going for it. The energy of the songs starts to get more powerful before hitting the chorus, where things get a bit confusing. It goes a bit more bubblegum pop, which isn’t totally bad but it just lacks impact. It makes the song forgettable.

I’m gonna be a star gets a lot of flack from people because it has a really annoying, but highly memorable hook with that spoken “I’m gonna be a star” line. I actually really like this song because that beat is crazy addictive and there are some really fun parts to this song. I quite enjoy the rap and it fits the song so well. The pre-chorus where things slow and bring something a bit more dramatic is also really fun and helps build things up for that funky chorus.


Overall: This mini is really weird because I really like half of it but the other half I don’t. There are some great pop tunes on here that work really well with the group and fit their image. However, at the same time there are some tracks that just seem so dull. The music has no life and the melodies are just forgettable.

B+

[Single] LABOUM – Aalow Aalow

Aalow Aalow is the third single released by LABOUM. The title track was used as the promoted song.

aalowaalow
Released: December 6, 2015
1. Intro
2. Aalow Aalow (아로아로)
3. Tasty
4. Aalow Aalow (Instrumental)
5. Tasty (Instrumental)

Blasting right into the Intro, this is a nice way to open the single as it is pretty bright, innocent and has a great beat. There are snippets of the hook from the title track used here.

Speaking of the title track, Aalow Aalow continues the retro sound that the girls were bringing with Sugar Sugar. The beat is nice, but its that 80’s synth backdrop that drives the song. With that said, the rest of the song is pretty much standard pop flair. It’s a cute song, but I feel like it doesn’t push things further. It isn’t particular catchy, but does have a charm to it. I think the melody would have benefited more from the dreamy synths of the intro.

Tasty is more on the side of that dreamy pop sound that I was looking for. The overall delivery of this song is definitely more generic, but it has a really catchy chorus. The hooks are much stronger and I think this would have been a much stronger promoted song. It is like a more intense version of KARA’s ‘Honey’, which is another song I love. This is one of LABOUM’s stronger b-sides.


Overall: The title track is a bit lackluster, especially compared to the B-side, but this single is still a solid release. Both tracks have their quirks and they bring different sounds. With that said, I do believe that Tasty is the stronger of the two tracks and should have been made the promoted song.

B+

[Album] Cyndi Wang; Cyndi Loves You

Cyndi Loves You is the second album released by Cyndi Wang. This was another successful album by the rising star and contains some of her most well-known upbeat pop tunes.

cyndilovesyou
Released: March 26, 2004
1. Love You (愛你)
2. Moonlight (月光)
3. See You Tomorrow (明天見)
4. Rhythm of Love (戀愛節奏)
5. Sugar Jar (糖罐子)
6. Love Set (愛的套餐)
7. First Person I Loved (第一次愛的人)
8. Hold You and Cry (抱著妳哭)
9. Kindred Spirit (心心相印)
10. Feather (羽毛)

Love You is a cover of a song by Korean girl group, Papaya. It’s a cute tune with some reggae elements to it. The original (and other covers) is already great, so this song is a solid starter. It’s one of her biggest hits and it shows. It’s catchy, simple and works really well with Cyndi’s sweet voice. It’s the type of song that is easy to sing along to.

Moonlight is another cover, but this time of a song by the Village Singers (later covered by Shimatani Hitomi). I quite like Shimatani’s cover, so this is another nice version although it replaces the latin sound for something more laid back. It starts off with a gentle acoustic vibe and Cyndi sounds great here. As the song goes on, it gains some other instruments that give a fuller sound, but it still retains that more traditional style to it. It’s a really charming tune.

See You Tomorrow is the album’s first ballad and it’s a sadder one. I love how the song starts with the piano and rain and sets a nice atmosphere. It sort of builds up from there before bringing in the strings for the chorus. It’s not the catchiest melody for a ballad from her, but it does get the job done and it works nicely with the music. Cyndi also gives a pretty decent vocal performance and one I wasn’t expecting from her.

Rhythm of Love is pretty cool with its R&B elements. It does sound like something from 2000 and not 2004, but there are some fun parts to it like the verses. I don’t think Cyndi’s sweet voice really works here though and it lacks a bit of impact. It’s a decent song and the chorus is catchy, just not as strong as the first three tracks.

Sugar Jar is a midtempo pop/R&B and I think this works much better with Cyndi’s voice. Unfortunately, at this point, this is the most boring song on the album. It isn’t bad, but the melody just isn’t as memorable and it sort of lulls about. I think it would have been better if there was a more drastic transition into the chorus.

Love Set opens with some super odd background vocals, but soon transitions into a fun and bright pop tune. This is a cover of a Korean song by Hyun Zoo, but I’m not that familiar with the original, however this tune definitely has qualities of an early 00’s K-Pop song. It is catchy, although it does come off a bit more outdated than some of the other songs.

First Person I Loved is a cover of M2M’s “The Day You Went Away”, which is originally a great pop tune. Cyndi does this song justice although there are times where her singing is a bit off for the song’s atmosphere. It’s a catchy ballad and has a stunning melody that works beautifully with its melancholic atmosphere. I think my only major problem is the editing, which makes things have a bit of a disconnect between the vocals and music.

Back to the Mandopop ballad sound, Hold You and Cry just starts off very boring. The verses have nothing particularly interesting and I’m lulled to sleep. The chorus is a bit better as the melody has some power to it, but the overall delivery is on the dull side. It’s so weird because I usually like songs like this, but verses are actually a negative aspect to the song.

Kindred Spirit starts off in a way that makes it sound like its setting up for something and it is as around a minute in, a dance beat comes stumbling in. I’m not quite sure if I like this song though. I was expecting something a little more exciting as the beat is quite light and the delivery is a little flat. The only thing keeping the song afloat is the melody and even doesn’t have anything helping to push it forward.

Feather is light R&B/pop ballad, but it does what the last ballad did, which was use a boring verse to set up a slightly more interesting chorus. It just makes the song feel so slow and harder to get through. The chorus also lacks a bit of a strong melody as it sounds more like Cyndi is fitting in as many words as she can into it. Just meh.


Overall: I wasn’t really expecting a lot from this album and its delivery was actually a bit lacking. There were very few songs that stood out to me. Sure, there were a few decent tunes and one tune I would revisit, but the rest were forgettable and made little impact. They weren’t terrible to say the least, just dull and did little to enhance the album’s sound. I think I actually preferred her debut album, which had higher highs.

B-