[Mini-Album] Cosmic Girls – WJ PLEASE?

WJ PLEASE? is the fifth mini-album released by Cosmic Girls. It is the group’s first release to not include their three Chinese members. “Save Me, Save You” was used as the promotional track.

wjplease

Released: September 19, 2018
1. Save Me, Save You (부탁해)
2. You, You, You (너, 너, 너)
3. I-Yah (아이야)
4. Masquerade (가면무도회)
5. Hurry Up
6. You & I (2월의 봄)

The promo track starts things off on an upbeat note and it’s probably my favourite song from the group. Save Me, Save You took a while to sink in, but the group tackles their usual dreamy-pop sound while bringing a more aggressive beat and hook heavy delivery. I love how it keeps up the energy with the synths, but it’s the wonderful melody that really helps to propel the song forward. It feels like the type of song that always has something surprise me with every listen. It’s stunning and I love the direction the group has gone.

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You, You, You brings that dreamy quality, but goes the bubblegum route with this sparkly pop tune. I wasn’t really expecting something like this, but there is still a great energy to it as well. The girls don’t go the cuter route with their solos, but there the mature delivery actually works in favour of the song as it brings a nice contrast to the higher-pitched chorus. It’s a catchy tune and easily one of the group’s strongest B-sides.

I would argue that I-Yah is easily the best B-side that the group has put out. This could have been a title track. It follows a similar route that “Save Me, Save You”, but the melody isn’t as hook driven. Instead, it feels like it focuses on the build up and eventual blast of the chorus. That’s not to say the chorus isn’t memorable because the melody is still quite beautiful. It’s just an urgent, swirling tornado of a song and it’s quite great.

Masquerade starts off with an almost waltz-like sound, but it soon brings a punch of a beat. I feel like this one tries to depart from the dreamy synths for a bit and instead brings something more in-tune to GFriend’s sound. It has a wonderfully layered chorus that has a brighter quality to it. It’s not as catchy as the other tracks, but I do enjoy the music quite a bit, although I would’ve enjoyed it more if they brought more waltz elements into it.

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The next song stands out a lot. Hurry Up is pop, but with a bit of a retro influence to it due to the added brass backup. It’s another bright song, but I feel like it fits into the group’s older mini’s than this one. It’s cute and it is fun, but it’s a bit lackluster compared to the other tracks.

Ending things on a slow note, we get You & I, which is a pretty R&B/pop ballad. It’s not a bad song, but it’s the type of tune that many group’s have done before. When I listen to K-Pop ballads, I look for a strong melody. This song has a pretty nice vibe to it and I like the jazzier vibe of the chorus. I think it could be better, but it’s still a pretty solid ballad, albeit a bit forgettable.


Overall: This is easily the group’s strongest effort to date. The first three songs are great and while the quality teeters a bit in the second half, the songs aren’t that bad. “Save Me, Save You” and “I-Yah” are especially great and among the group’s best songs to date.

A

[Mini-Album] ONF – We Must Love

We Must Love is the third mini-album released by ONF. The title track was used as the promotional track.

wemustlove

Released: February 7, 2019
1. We Must Love (사랑하게 될 거야)
2. Ice & Fire
3. Yayaya (별일 아냐)
4. Happily never after (첫 사랑의 법칙)
5. I Do

Instead of the usual bright pop tune that was somewhat expected from ONF, their return brings a change in atmosphere. We Must Love brings a darker tone, but it isn’t a terrible thing. The song isn’t something unheard of from boy bands before and actually feels like something by the likes of current SEVENTEEN or NU’EST, and it still brings some really wonderful moments. The chorus is especially strong with its attention grabbing melody that soon switches into a funky synth line. I wasn’t too keen on this song at first, but this part really won me over. Definitely the weakest of their three title tracks, but it’s still a solid tune.

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I was a bit worried about what the rest of the mini would bring considering the quality of their first two. Ice & Fire brings us some groove with this funk-inspired pop song and I love the thumping bassline. The chorus took a bit time to get used to. I was hoping for something to grab my attention right away, but it slowly builds and it’s only in the second half where some fusion goes on that I really start to get into it. It’s a quality tune, but it takes some time to get into it. Probably my favourite of the songs.

I love how Yayaya opens with the strings and its light latin influence. I’m not quite sure what to think of this song in general. It feels like the sister of “We Must Love” and has a very similar structure. The pre-chorus with the blaring arrangement is just weird and things only get back on track once that clean chorus comes blasting in. It’s definitely an experiment and I feel like it will get more appealing as time goes on. For now, I’m not sure if I love it or not.

Happily never after comes cruising in with its light R&B vibe. I love R&B, but I’m on the fence with these kinds of songs. This one does do some really nice things by bringing some more interesting musical elements so things don’t get too boring. Also, the melody is relatively catchy. It feels like an updated version of iKON’s “Love Scenario” in some ways.

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I Do initially sounds as though it will be the ballad of the mini, but the chorus totally changes things up with its drop. Instead, it feels like an interesting blend of something more sentimental that explodes into a darker tropical house influenced chorus. I do wish there were some vocal parts in this part because it sounds a bit empty. It isn’t bad, but pretty generic and I feel like ONF did it better before.


Overall: This was another solid mini-album from the group. I feel like this one didn’t stand out to me as much as their last two, but all the tracks were still pretty high quality. I think some of these tracks need some time to sink in as well and aren’t as attention grabbing on the first listen as I found myself enjoying them more with subsequent listens. At this moment, I still find it to be the weakest of their three mini’s though.

A

[Digital Single] PRODUCE 48 – Nekkoya (PICK ME)

“Nekkoya (PICK ME)” is the first digital single released for the third single of the PRODUCE series. It features both Korean trainees and girls from the 48 girl groups in Japan.

nekkoya

Released: May 10, 2018
1. Nekkoya (PICK ME) (내꺼야)
2. Nekkoya (PICK ME) (Japanese ver.)

Both versions are exactly the same except for the language. I didn’t think Nekkoya (PICK ME) was particularly interesting when I first heard it. Although I loved the previous two theme songs, this one went a different route and was a bit on the sweeter side compared to the EDM heavy original or the more melodic boys version. Fortunately, it eventually got into my head and I started to really like its cute and earworming melody. The song still has a heavy EDM influence, but it feels much lighter due to the swirling synths and girlish vocals. It’s great.


Overall: Third time and still another solid pop tune. I like the change that feels like a combination between the last two versions, while still retaining its own character. Makes me excited for the fourth one.

A+

[Mini-Album] GFriend – The Awakening

The Awakening is the fourth mini-album released by GFriend. “FINGERTIP” was used as the promotional track.

theawakening

Released: November 8, 2000
1. Hear the Wind Sing (바람의 노래)
2. FINGERTIP
3. Contrail (비행운:飛行雲)
4. Please Save My Earth (나의 지구를 지켜줘)
5. Spring Rain (봄비)
6. Crush (핑)

Hear the Wind Sing opens the album and it’s phenomenal. This is easily one of my favourite GFriend songs. It is a bit breezier than the group’s usual material, but it still works really nicely with their sound due to its pulsing beat and straightforward focus. The beat is a bit odd at times, but it gets covered by the piercing string-like synths and catchy melody. It’s really gorgeous and feels like a breath of fresh air.

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When FINGERTIP was released, it definitely got a lot of mixed reception. Some thought it was a great example of the group maturing their sound, while others found it to lack the same touch as their most popular material. I love this song. The song still has the group’s signature “anime theme song” style, but brings a bit of funk into it with a great bass and groovy synth. It has a punch to it that’s helped by the electric guitar, which really shines when the melody isn’t stealing the show. It’s catchy and exciting.

Bringing us back to the lighter pop sound, we get Contrail. It’s not as impressive as the last two tunes, but it’s laid back and bright vibe really brings a nice contrast to the last song. This song actually reminds me a bit of J-Pop and I like it’s more melodic take on the chorus. It doesn’t quite have the same energy, but there is something fresh about this one as well that keeps it a fun listen.

I would say the most classic sounding GFriend sounding song on here comes in the form of Please Same My Earth. Of course, that’s not to say it doesn’t change things up like the addition of the subtler brass throughout the song. The chorus is explosive and has that high energy, almost emotional quality about its delivery. My only gripe is actually with the singing. I feel like if Yuju was doing it, it would have been more impacting. Still, it’s a solid tune.

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I wasn’t expecting Spring Rain to sound this great. It goes the midtempo pop route with some light R&B elements. The verses aren’t that memorable, but they are still a joy to go through and helps to build to that gorgeous chorus. I love the melody here and it ties in beautifully with the light bass and strings. This is definitely a pleasant surprise and I think it is one of the group’s best slower tune.

Considering how strong the first five songs were, I was really worried that Crush would end up as the black sheep. Luckily, this song is another quality pop tune. Here, we get a bouncy pop song that changes up the classic GFriend sound. The song builds up in a way that makes you expect the chorus to have a soaring quality to it, but it instead continues that light melody. It’s not as catchy as some of the other songs, but you can still hear the quality.


Overall: This is probably one of the best mini-albums I’ve listened to in a long time. Literally every track is great and there are great things to hear in each of them. This totally makes up for their first album, which I was disappointed by. I like that each of the songs tries to play around with their usual sound while still getting those powerful melodies.

A+

[Mini-Album] NU’EST W – W, HERE

W, HERE is the first mini-album released by NU’EST W. “Where You At” was used as the mini’s promotional track. The mini proved to be immensely successful and signified a huge jump in the group’s popularity after their stint on Produce 101.

w,here

Released: October 10, 2017
1. My Beautiful (하루만)
2. Where You At
3. Paradise
4. Good Love
5. With
6. Thankful for You (지금까지 행복했어요)

Not sure what I feel about the album starting with My Beautiful. It goes to midtempo route and frankly, it’s just not what I was looking for. I feel like the group did this style better with their digital single, “If You”, but this seems rather generic, especially considering the quality of the tracks that NU’EST did on their last mini. There are some really nice parts in the arrangement, but it just all seems a bit bare.

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While it continues the melancholic tone of the last song, Where You At is an upbeat EDM song and I’m thankful there is some power and energy here. While I really like this song, it sort of falters on the fact that it can come off as a generic Billboard tune. I like the somber quality of the verses and the explosion of the chorus is really great. I do wish the chorus was flushed out a bit more, but the piercing strings bring a lot of excitement. It’s quite a nice track in general.

Getting into the solo songs, we start off with Ren’s solo, Paradise. It pretty much continues the vibe of the last song, but changes things up for the chorus. Instead of an explosive delivery, we get a swirling mess of synths tied with some almost trap elements. It’s a weird blend and I’m not sure if I like it. Ren has a solid enough voice, but it really lacks enough power to push through the craziness of the arrangement. It’s not a super catchy track, but it isn’t bad.

Aron’s solo goes the midtempo R&B route. I wasn’t really going into this song with any expectations, but Good Love actually not bad. I like the bouncy nature of the music and it works to bring some energy to it. The chorus is a bit empty compared to the verses and I don’t really like this weak trap-like delivery. I feel like it would’ve been better to go all in instead of just skirt over it. I also wish it had a brighter quality to it because the music feels a bit heavy. It’s still a cute song.

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With is JR’s solo song and it starts off in a pretty dark way that fits with the rest of the album. This song obviously focuses on JR’s rapping, but I find it a bit weird. The chorus is quite cool and I like the rippling quality of the synths, however, we really only get to the stunning part by the second chorus. I feel like it is really trying to be this emotional track, but it falters in its delivery a bit. It’s still nice.

As expected for a solo from Baekho, we get a ballad with Thankful for You. One thing I like compared to his other solo ballads is that this isn’t a completely generic OST ballad and we get some changes in the arrangement in the first half. Unfortunately, it starts to go your usual ballad route by the second verse with the strings. I also feel like Baekho is always trying to catch his breath and it gets a bit distracting. This isn’t terrible, but I don’t feel particularly interested, especially considering he has such a dynamic voice.


Overall: This is a pretty disappointing mini, especially considering the quality of their last one. I’m really glad for the group’s success, but it’s a bit disheartening that the group went the more melancholic route with their music. The mini is quite cohesive, but I felt like it was more generic in its delivery. Most of the tracks lacked a spark for me except for the promo track, which just had a surge of power to it that helped keep things interesting.

B-

[Mini-Album] MYTEEN – MYTEEN GO!

MYTEEN is a newer boy band that debuted in 2017. They haven’t really hit it big yet, but their music has a lot of potential and the guys were also featured on the show, Mix Nine. It’s unfortunate they are slow to release though despite being a newer group. MYTEEN GO! is the first mini-album released by the group. “Amazing” was used as the promotional track.

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Released: July 26, 2017
1. Amazing (어마어마하게)
2. Hyper (붕 떠)
3. You-reka (이 동네 왜 이래)
4. Take It Out (꺼내가)
5. Mr. Misery
6. 19.20
7. Day By Day (짜장면)

Surprisingly, the mini opens with the promo track, but it’s a great way to start things off. Amazing is a superbly catchy pop tune. It’s pretty generic and sounds like an off shot of something from Seventeen or another group that releases bright and poppy numbers, but it’s still a solid pop tune. The greatest part is the underlying funk bass, which helps give the music a bit of edge. Amazing really delivers in its sparkly chorus though as the energy is brought up and the catchy hook really works nicely and doesn’t overdo things.

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Hyper slows things down to bring something more midtempo, but there is still some energy in the musical delivery. The clap beat and gentle synths help to bring a breezier feel. It sounds as though it is taking some elements from tropical house, but instead of focusing on a drop to do the work, the song still keeps its melodic tendencies in the chorus. It’s not the catchiest song, but it’s a surprisingly sweet tune.

Bringing the energy back up, we get You-reka. The verses aren’t particularly interesting, but the chorus is quite nice. I do wish the chorus had a bit more punch to it in terms of arrangement, but the melody is still quite light and easy to take in. The switches into the raps bring some odd transitions, but they are short and don’t detract too much. It’s another solid B-side and helps keep the cohesion.

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Not quite sure what to think of Take It Out. It brings something that drags on a bit and while it has some great ideas, I feel like it would’ve benefited from having a little more energy. I do like its slower R&B and soul vibes and there are some great parts in the melody, but it just doesn’t have to power to really make enough influence.

I think I like Mr. Misery more. It doesn’t quite have the same power as the first few songs, but there are some wicked parts to it. The music has more punch and that bass really brings a darker edge to it that I wasn’t expecting. The chorus is pretty catchy, but it doesn’t quite have the same punch to it because its delivered in falsetto. I feel like if it was delivered in chest or mixed, it would’ve been more exciting.

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I was expecting a ballad by this point, but 19.20 keeps up the energy. This time we are given a pretty emotionally charged EDM-influenced pop tune. I was expecting the chorus is feature a drop into an instrumental, but instead we get another melodic tune with a melody that slithers around the high flashing synths and heavy beat. It’s a pretty cool track and keeps up the quality.

I think the slowest song comes in the form of Day By Day, which goes the light acoustic route. But even then, it is more midtempo than an actual ballad. I like how it has an almost Mediterranean influence to it in the verses and its unfortunate it lets that go in the chorus. This is probably my least favourite song on the mini as it just sort of lulls along. It has some great points like the rap, but I feel the other songs stand out more.


Overall: This was a pleasant mini. I wasn’t really expecting much going into it, but I ended up enjoying quite a few songs. All the songs are pretty generic, but it’s understandable as a debut mini and many of the songs were still of good quality. I do hope they continue to release such solid releases.

B+

[Repackaged] TWICE – TWICEcoaster: LANE 2

TWICEcoaster: LANE 2 is the repackaged version of the group’s third mini, TWICEcoaster: LANE 1. It includes all the tracks from that one as well as two new songs. A remix and three instrumentals were also added on the physical copies. “Knock Knock” was used as the promotional track.

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Released: February 20, 2017
1. Knock Knock
2. Melting (녹아요)
3. TT
4. 1 to 10
5. Ponytail
6. Jelly Jelly
7. Pit-a-Pat
8. Next Page
9. One in a Million

Knock Knock fits the winter season perfectly. It continues the cuter vibe that the group has worked on since their debut, but sounds closer to the sound of “TT” than their other promo tracks. I actually really like this song. The guitar that plays throughout the song gives the song its much needed energy, while the beat and swirling synths help to give it a punch when needed. The melody is pretty sweet sounding and I like how the hooks are integrated throughout the melodic delivery. Another strong song.

Bringing a nice contrast, we get Melting, which goes brings the light R&B/coffeehouse kind of sound. I’m not a huge fan of these songs, but this is a surprisingly nice tune. I’m not really liking the editing on the vocals, but the actual melody is quite beautiful and fits nicely with the gentle arrangement.


Overall: The two songs added were actually quite nice and great additions to the original mini. I like that they fit the winter season, but bring two contrasting vibes. I’m hoping for more B-sides like “Melting” where the quality is up to par with the promotional tracks.

A (new songs)