[Digital Single] IU – Road No. 1 OST Part. 3

Road No. 1 OST Part. 3 is the third digital single released by IU. It was used for the drama, Road Number One.

roadnumberoneost3
Released: July 14, 2010
1. Because I’m a Girl (여자라서)
2. Because I’m a Girl (piano ver.)

Because I’m a Girl is your usual OST ballad with its dramatic strings and gradual building up into that bigger final chorus. With that said, it’s a pretty good song. The melody is memorable and IU’s voice is quite emotive. Actually, I think this is one of her strongest vocal performances and this really shows the vocal improvements she made in two years when compared to Lost Child. Although I probably won’t revisit the song again, it is a pretty solid ballad. The piano ver. is just much shorter and really focuses on IU’s voice. It’s a nice addition and I like that it isn’t very long as the main version is the stronger one.

Overall: This is a pretty good OST single. It’s generic in the sense that these are the kinds of songs one would hear in many dramas and it can sort of get lost in the sea of these songs, but this is one of the stronger examples.

B+

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[Digital Single] IU – Nagging

Nagging is the second single released by IU. The title track includes 2AM’s I’m Seulong.

nagging
Released: June 3, 2010
1. Nagging (잔소리)
2. Rain Drop

Nagging is a pretty sweet sounding pop song with a bright and bouncy quality to it. Both IU and Seulong do a good job, although I find IU’s sweet vocals to fit the song a little better. Maybe it’s the mixing, but IU’s vocals seem clearer. Still, it’s a pretty nice song and has a catchy melody. The music is really fun and I love the strong beat tied with the string-like synths. Rain Drop is a little slower and brings a sweet quality that reminds me a bit of spring. It’s not particularly catchy, but I do like how the music sounds and has some folk-like elements that helps it stand out from the other song. IU also shows some of her vocal ability in this song. A cute tune.

Overall: This was a decent single. I think both songs are quite sweet and are a good fit for IU’s vocals, but I don’t feel any particular attachment to both of the songs. There are some nice moments here and there, but IU has easily eclipsed these songs.

B+

[Repackaged] OH MY GIRL – Windy Day

Windy Day is the repackaged version of the group’s third mini-album, Pink Ocean. The title track was used as the promo song and was one of two new songs and a remix.

windyday
Released: May 26, 2016
1. WINDY DAY
2. STUPID IN LOVE
3. LIAR LIAR
4. B612
5. I FOUND LOVE
6. KNOCK KNOCK
7. One Step Two Steps (한 발짝 두 발짝)
8. LIAR LIAR (Chinese Ver.)

WINDY DAY is one of my favourites from OH MY GIRL. The group changes things up for the quirky pop tune, LIAR LIAR, by bringing something a little more folk-like. This song has an uplifting quality that focuses a lot on the guitar to bring a brightness to the verses. The chorus is a bit different as there is an explosion of energy that pushes the percussion and synths. I love the catchiness of the song and the different sections of the chorus help to bring different intensities. The coolest part is that there is a variety of instruments that are featured that aren’t heard in your usual K-Pop songs. STUPID IN LOVE is a relaxing pop tune with some light R&B elements. I quite like the verses because it feels like it is building to something big. The chorus isn’t as hard-hitting as I like, but the laid back nature of the song is a nice change of pace from the last song. I didn’t like the hook at first, but it did grow on me a bit. I just wish the girls didn’t sound so airy in their singing and had some power to their voices. The repackage also includes the Chinese version of LIAR LIAR. Their pronunciation isn’t too bad, but I feel like that tied with the high-pitched delivery of the song is not the greatest combo. Not bad though.

Overall: The new songs were both pretty decent and I did like the new version of LIAR LIAR. I do feel like WINDY DAY sticks out like a sore thumb, especially considering a lot of the other songs are more on the straightforward “pop” route, but it’s a solid song that it carries itself well. STUPID IN LOVE could have a bit more power, but it was also solid.

A (new songs)

[Mini-Album] BLACKPINK – SQUARE UP

SQUARE UP is the first mini-album released by BLACKPINK. DDU-DU DDU-DU was used as the promo song.

squareup
Released: June 15, 2018
1. DDU-DU DDU-DU (뚜두뚜두)
2. FOREVER YOUNG
3. REALLY
4. SEE U LATER

DDU-DU DDU-DU is a bit of a departure from the group’s other material. It follows most closely to the sound of Whistle with its stronger hip-hop elements, although this one is definitely more hard-hitting. The verses are pretty much given to Jennie and Lisa for their raps, while Rose and Jisoo come in on the pre-chorus to give a more slowed and dramatic tone. The chorus is quite repetitive, but the attitude and hook is strong enough to carry everything. I quite like the contrast of the different parts of the song and there is a lot of power. It’s not their strongest song, but it is memorable. Forever Young reminds me more of 2NE1 and I love that the group went back to the more obvious pop elements. It has some tropical house elements to it, but I do like it plays with things so they aren’t stale. The chorus is definitely more hard-hitting and I feel like the whole feeling of the song is heavier than the usual breezy tropical house hits. It’s fun and catchy, although I do not like the odd breakdown about three minutes in, which switches the sound. Really is a midtempo pop song with some hip-hop and reggae inspiration. I’m not quite into this song as much because I feel like the music doesn’t sound as clean as it could be. It feels like they are trying to continue the sound from the last song, but the synths and editing just sound off and don’t fit. The melody is quite catchy though and reminds me of iKon’s Love Scenario. See U Later starts as a nice change from the other songs with its effortless pop sound. However, my main gripe with the song is when that drop comes in for the chorus. It just doesn’t fit the brightness of the verses and I think it ruins the flow of everything. Once again, the girls go the repetitive route, but things just don’t flow as strongly. I think I like everything but the chorus is disappointing.

Overall: This is a solid release from the group. I did enjoy all the songs, but I wish there were some tweaks done to the last two songs. The first two were quite strong and they felt much more polished in their delivery. The music was cleaner and the melodies weren’t muddled. The second half just felt a bit all over the place at times.

A

[Mini-Album] Red Velvet – The Velvet

The Velvet is the second mini-album released by Red Velvet. One of These Nights was used as the promo track. This mini is to represent their “Velvet” sound.

thevelvet
Released: March 6, 2017
1. One of These Nights (7월 7일)
2. Cool Hot Sweet Love
3. Light Me Up
4. First Time (처음인가요)
5. Rose Scent Breeze (장미꽃 향기는 바람에 날리고)
6. One of These Nights (De-Capo Ver.)
7. One of These Nights (Joe Millionaire Ver.)
8. One of These Nights (Piano Ver.)

One of These Nights is a really interesting change for Red Velvet as it is a ballad. It’s the type of slow-burning song that isn’t that interesting at first, but soon unravels its magic. The verses are a bit light and don’t have much power to them, but focus on the ambiance and the emotion. The chorus is where things pick up and I really love the melody. The music does pick up after the first chorus and the power in the bridge really helps to push the song to the next level. To be honest, this reminds me of an early 00’s J-Pop ballad and I love it. Cool Hot Sweet Love is a total change with its hip-hop and R&B elements. It starts off in an awkward way and I feel like the verses are reminiscent of current American music. However, the chorus is definitely where things change as there is a blast of pop that helps to bring that needed melodic sound. I wish the song was built more around this instead of the other elements as they feel out of touch with each other. Light Me Up starts off sounding like it will be a jazzier tune, but it really lays it in with the R&B influence. I feel like this could easily be seen in a current R&B/soul album. I do enjoy parts of it, but there are also other parts I wish just weren’t as messy. I feels like the music is a bit all over the place and the melody gets overpowered by the barrage of sounds. It has potential to really blast off, but ends up a bit too chaotic. First Time is another ballad, although there are is an R&B beat to help push the song forward. To be honest, this song just does not have the same feeling as the promo track and it ends up on the generic side. It’s not a terrible song, just not as memorable. It sounds like it is trying to take on an 80’s pop ballad sound but the vocal performance just doesn’t elevate the song. Some of the girls sound awkwardly edited and it makes a weird quality over the vocals that feels like it doesn’t fit with the music. Rose Scent Breeze is yet another ballad, but I like this one much more. It focuses more on the piano and vocals and brings a really gentle and calm feeling. The vocals are much clearer and the girls sound really beautiful. The music is also more grand and has a really great build up to the climax that works wonderfully with the melody. It’s not the strongest ballad in terms of a memorable melody, but it is a solid tune. The next three songs are different versions of One of These Nights. The De-Capo Ver. changes things up by doing some weird things with the music. It’s really odd because parts of the music are changed in pitched and it tries to create a different kind of sound. I don’t think I like it that much though because there are elements that really ruin the mood of the song. The Joe Millionaire Ver. also does some things to music, but I do feel like the execution is much better. The changes aren’t that distracting and add some really cool sounds to the song. I really love the Piano Ver. because it sounds like the girls are singing right there. Wendy’s voice is especially gorgeous here and I love how she sounds during the bridge. It doesn’t quite give the same effect of the original, but it’s a nice version.

Overall: This isn’t a bad mini. Disregarding the different versions of the promo track, this mini isn’t as impressive as I was hoping. I do like that they experimented with their velvet sound, but I wish some of the songs were more interesting or not as messy. The girls have the capability of pushing songs to the next level, they just need the right material. There were no terrible songs, just most of them sat on the middle ground.

B+

[Digital Single] Cosmic Girls – KISS ME

KISS ME is the first digital single released by Cosmic Girls.

kissme
Released: July 14, 2017
1. KISS ME

Following the more upbeat and bright pop sound of Happy, KISS ME is a tune that fits perfectly in the summery season. The song has a strong guitar backing that adds a lot of character to the music, but the general execution of the song is a bit lackluster. The best part is the pre-chorus as it builds up the hype. The chorus is just not for me. The hooks are weak and the girls sound indistinguishable with the high-pitched melody. Happy had a lot of character but this just feels like a weak B-side.

Overall: This was a bit disappointing to listen to considering Cosmic Girls have had three hit promo tracks in a row. This release was used to promote a makeup brand, but I still feel like it could’ve been a stronger song as this is just a bit on the generic and boring side.

C+

[Digital Single] PRODUCE 101 – 35 Boys 5 Concepts

35 Boys 5 Concepts is the second digital single from the second season of Produce 101. 35 boys were split into five teams that had songs with their own unique concept.

35boys5concepts
Released: June 3, 2017
1. It’s – Showtime
2. Boys Under Moonlight – I Know You Know
3. Knock – Open Up (열어줘)
4. Slate – Oh Little Girl
5. Nation’s Son – Never

Blasting off right away, we have Showtime, an upbeat and explosive pop tune with some nu-disco elements. I love the energy of this song and there is something about it that really gets me into the song. The chorus is a bit repetitive and feels like it rushes right through, but it is really catchy. My only gripe would maybe be young Woojin’s voice as it sticks out so much. Definitely a great pop tune. I Know You Know is one of my favourites of the five songs. I love the funk vibe that its got going on. I do think the abundance of falsetto is its downfall as it causes areas to end up weak vocally and I do wish that the chorus had more power in the music. It doesn’t really pop from the rest of the song. However, the verses are great and I love how cool they sound. Open Up was popular for its dance and it is a cool mix of pop and EDM. I actually really like the verses and the bouncing around of sounds. Baekho also has a really nice tone that suits this song. The chorus is lacking though. It feels like the melody doesn’t quite fit with the tempo of the music and I always think its off. I think the music is really interesting, but the melody leaves me wanting more. Actually, Oh Little Girl is the one song I always forget about. I feel like it doesn’t have a really memorable sound compared to the other songs despite it having more R&B/hip-hop elements. The chorus isn’t bad though and I do feel like it reminds me of some older J-Pop songs in terms of melody. It has a really relaxing vibe, but it comes off more like a B-side. NEVER was my favourite of all the songs. With its deep house sound, it stands out, but its the sadder quality to it that I feel really sets it apart. It feels more emotional than the other songs and how it was constructed makes it feel like it was organized well. The gentle verses, intense raps and finally that flaring chorus really meld together so well. Jaehwan especially does well here as his voice just takes the song to the next level.

Overall: This is a great collection of songs and I feel like its a good follow-up to the girls’ version. I do think this one is a bit weaker though as some of the songs just don’t sound like promo material and would be more suitable as album tracks. With a bit of tweaking, I think some of these songs could have showed their true colours. Still, I did enjoy most of the songs.

A+