[Mini-Album] PRISTIN – SCHXXL OUT

SCHXXL OUT is the second mini-album released by PRISTIN. WE LIKE was used as the promotional song.

schxxlout
Released: August 23, 2017
1. WE ARE PRISTIN
2. WE LIKE
3. ALOHA
4. TINA (티나)
5. You’re My Boy (너 말야 너)

WE ARE PRISTIN is a powerful opening and brings me back to After School’s Bang with its marching band style. The verses are definitely more melodic and less chant-like, but the powerful beat really helps carry the song through and I love the powerful vocals showcased in the pre-chorus. The chorus is a little one-note, but it surprisingly works. It’s a fun start. WE LIKE is a tornado. It is like Wee Woo in the sense that it is just a fusion of different sounds, but I would say things feel even more disjointed in this song. I don’t think it’s particularly bad, just some of the parts don’t work together. The first half of the chorus is made up of the hook of “We Like Dubudubududu”, which is catchy but doesn’t quite fit the attitude of the strong percussion based music. What I absolutely love though is the light background vocals that flow underneath this part as it adds a really cool edge. The second half of the chorus is much more melodic and would have been great as the main chorus piece. It’s a fun song, just very confusing. ALOHA is another upbeat tune, but switches the blaring percussion for something on the jazzier and sweeter side. I’m terribly impressed by this song, but it is a decent tune. It has some out of place parts like the verses, but the rest of the song flows pretty well and I like the touches of R&B at parts. I wish the vocal performance had more energy to it though. TINA brings in some tropical house, which is a nice change. The verses are pretty forgettable for me, but the chorus is definitely the highlight. It’s simple, but works really nice. It’s a bit standard trop-hop flair, but it executes things nicely and in a memorable way. I wish it pushed things a little farther though. The bridge is the best part of the song with its great vocal arrangement. You’re My Boy is a cuter song, which is not what I was expecting. It reminds me of something that A Pink might do as it doesn’t quite go to the saccharine extreme, but does present a nice balance. It’s still a fun tune that works nicely for the summer with its blaring saxophone. However, like the last time, I wish everything was pushed a little more. The vocals are a bit too airy for this tune.

Overall: This is a decent mini and a good follow-up to the group’s last mini, which I really enjoyed. There still isn’t a song that I have adored as much as WE from the group, but there are solid songs on here. My main problem is that when the group goes full-out on a song, it gets a bit messy, but when they play it safe, it feels too safe. I feel like the girls got to keep taking risks but go through a bit of quality control.

A-

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[Digital Single] 4minute – Is It Poppin’?

Is it Poppin’? is the ninth digital single released by 4minute.

isitpoppin
Released: June 28, 2013
1. Is it Poppin’? (물좋아?)

Is it Poppin’? can be seen as a follow-up to What’s Your Name? from the group’s last mini-album. Both songs were made by Brave Brothers and feature a brighter sound that has a barrage of hooks. I actually prefer Is it Poppin’? and it is one of my favourite 4minute songs. It isn’t as fast-paced, but has a more dragged out delivery. The sparkly synths, bouncy percussion and odd sounds all make a funky, but summery vibe that works nicely with the insanely catchy chorus. It’s not an in-your-face kind of song, but really worms its way into your ear.

Overall: This is a great follow-up single to the group’s last mini-album and really continues the hook-heavy pop sound that was present in that release. It’s a solid tune that works really nicely with the summer season.

A+

[Repackaged] KNK – GRAVITY, Completed

GRAVITY, Completed is the repackaged mini-album of the group’s second single, GRAVITY. It includes three new songs, with Rain being used as the promotional song.

gravitycompleted
Released: July 20, 2017
1. Rain (비)
2. Good Night (이 밤이 지나면)
3. Feel So Good
4. Think About You
5. Very Pretty (너무 예뻐)
6. Sun, Moon, Star (해, 달, 별)

Rain continues sort of blends the laid-back midtempo style of Sun, Moon, Star with the drama of their more upbeat tunes. It has an interesting arrangement with the touches of saxophone and gentle piano foundation. I quite like this song and I do find it more appealing than their last promo song just because it is more dramatic while still providing a catchy melody. It’s not their strongest tune, but it is a solid song. Good Night is a change as we are given something a bit more lighthearted. I do like how it starts and I quite like the midtempo sound of the music and the more touching take on the guys’ delivery. With that said, I do wish the chorus pushed things a little more because it definitely needs a catchier chorus to take it to the next level and it just ends up a bit forgettable. Feel So Good is the upbeat song of the repackaged mini and it’s a weird combination of styles. I don’t quite like the music because everything just sounds too cluttered and all over the place. It’s a bit unfortunate because I think if it went something more streamlined tropical house, then I think the melody could have actually let out its potential. The messy arrangement covers the hooks of the melody.

Overall: The newer songs on this repackaged mini weren’t that bad, but it felt similar to the original single in the sense that two songs were decent and one was weaker. It didn’t really wow me and there was nothing like Back Again or U, but the promo was still a nice listen.

B

[Digital Single] SISTAR – One More Day

One More Day is the fourth digital single released by SISTAR. It is a special collaboration with famous disco producer, Giorgio Moroder.

onemoreday
Released: November 22, 2016
1. One More Day
2. One More Day (TAK Remix)
3. One More Day (Instrumental)
4. One More Day (TAK Remix) (Instrumental)

I really love a lot of the music that Giorgio Moroder made for Donna Summer, so I had high expectations for this song when it was first teased. Fortunately, the song is stellar and it is easily one of SISTAR’s strongest offerings. One More Day has a pulsating beat that runs throughout the song and while it starts off in a slower way, once the chorus comes, things start to pick up. The song is a bit repetitive, but there is something just so compelling about the melody and it is still able to worm its way through to my mind. I especially love how the “One More Day” hook plays out. The TAK Remix of the song is an interesting update and makes things a bit more contemporary as it brings a stronger EDM influence. I do like it, but I do wish the music after the chorus hit a little bit harder.

Overall: This is a strong digital release by the group and one of their best songs. It is a nice blend of old and new and despite the fact the song is more dramatic and slower in its delivery, everything is still fresh. Hyolyn especially shines throughout this song.

A+

[Mini-Album] ASTRO – Winter Dream

Winter Dream is a special album released by ASTRO that was a gift for their fans. Again was used as the promotional track.

winterdream
Released: February 22, 2017
1. Again (붙잡았어야 해)
2. Cotton Candy
3. You & Me (Thanks AROHA)

I actually love Again, even if it is a departure from the brighter and cuter sound of the group’s previous promo tracks. Again is more serious and sadder, but it is still gorgeous. The gentle piano that touches the surface of the music adds a bit of emotion despite the instrumental being fueled by a heavy beat, synths and guitar. The boys also sound great and it is a nice glimpse of their vocal capabilities. Cotton Candy is what we usually get from ASTRO as it is a bright and sweet pop song. I quite like the music because the touches of bass really give it some edge. With that said, I don’t like the pre-chorus where everything decides to switch to a hip-hop edge and then it blasts into the bubblegum pop again. It’s an odd transition and just cuts the flow of the song. With that said, the melody itself isn’t that memorable and I can see it more as a filler. You & Me (Thanks AROHA) is a song for the group’s fans. It’s more of a midtempo pop tune and I surprisingly really like it. It’s not the most interesting song, but it is better than the last one and it is quite sweet. I like the bounciness of the music and it works nicely with the cute melody and the boys’ bright voices. Not the strongest of the group’s album tunes, but a decent one.

Overall: This is an interesting mini, but I think it largely depends on the strength of the promo track. Again is a change, but it is still a gorgeous track and surprisingly works for the guys despite being more serious. Unfortunately, the other two songs are weaker. The fan song is a decent tune, but it is a bit generic and not that interesting musically, while the other tries too much and doesn’t execute anything in a strong way.

B+

[Mini-Album] April – Spring

Spring is the second mini-album released by April. Tinkerbell was used as the promotional song.

spring
Released: April 27, 2016
1. Wake Up
2. Tinkerbell (팅커벨)
3. M.F.B.F (내 미래의 남자친구에게)
4. Open Your Eyes (눈을 뜨면)
5. Jelly
6. Tinkerbell (Instrumental)

Wake Up opens the album on a blissful pop note and reminds me of the material from the group’s first mini, specifically Dreaming Candy. It’s a pretty great song and I felt like it has potential to be the promotional song. The verses start pretty bare but gain more instruments and power as things go on. The chorus isn’t explosive, but the melody is catchy and has a nice combination of being melodic while including repetitive hooks. It’s a solid starter. Tinkerbell was used as the promo song and it isn’t difficult to see why considering it has way more energy than the last song. I love the excitement of the music and the pre-chorus really helps to build this feeling up for the chorus. The chorus isn’t as a melodic as the last song, but it is certainly catchy. I also love the use of strings to emphasize the melody. Another strong tune. M.F.B.F, which is an acronym for My Future Boyfriend, is a little slower, but keeps up that brighter pop sound. This song isn’t as memorable for me just because the melody isn’t as catchy nor is the music as interesting. It reminds me a bit of something KARA would do (there are parts of the melody that remind me of the group’s Pretty Girl song). Not horrible, but just an average song. I was expecting Open Your Eyes to be a ballad, but instead we are given another upbeat tune. This time, the song has a really heavy beat that stays throughout its entirety, but I don’t think it really fits in this instance. Also, the transition into the chorus is a bit jarring and doesn’t really lend itself in helping the song. The chorus itself isn’t particularly memorable either, but I do quite like the gentler section that follows it. Jelly is a bit of a change because it doesn’t follow that innocent pop sound, but instead does something a bit similar to f(x) or Red Velvet with its crazier music. It’s a great example of showing that the group can branch outside of their usual material and deliver. This song is so catchy and one of the group’s more memorable tunes. The chorus is a bit repetitive, but there are some stellar moments. Great!

Overall: This was a pretty good mini and a stronger offering than their first one. There were three really strong songs. They aren’t songs I have totally fell in love with, but they are definitely ones I would repeat over. I do like that the mini has a pretty consistent sound until Jelly, although I do wish there was a ballad to balance things a bit as Open Your Eyes felt a bit unneeded in the sense that it followed a similar formula to other songs and wasn’t as strong.

A

[Mini-Album] HELLO VENUS – What Are You Doing Today?

What Are You Doing Today? is the second mini-album is the second mini-album released by HELLO VENUS. The title track was used as the promo song.

whatareyoudoingtoday
Released: December 12, 2012
1. What Are You Doing Today? (오늘 뭐해?)
2. Romantic Love
3. First Love
4. The Same (똑같아)
5. Winter Fantasy

Like Venus, What Are You Doing Today? is a spunky pop tune with a heavy beat and light percussion. It’s a bit of an odd song because half the song goes for something a bit edgier whereas the verses and first half of the chorus are more bubblegum pop in the melody. While the brighter parts are definitely catchy, I do find that the hook and rap where the edgier stuff happens are the more exciting parts of the song. It’s still a fun song, but I also feel like the music is missing something. Romantic Love is a midtempo pop tune, but I’m not sure if I like it that much. The music is pretty nice and I do like the showcasing of the vocals, but I feel like the overall song is just a bit forgettable. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the melody isn’t that catchy. However, there are some really nice parts where the girls belt it out nicely. First Love is another song that helps show the girls’ voices off. Unfortunately, this ballad is just a bit too boring. The opening chorus line is actually quite nice, but then it just gets forgettable. The music and melody just don’t really go anywhere and it ends up a little flat. The Same is a bit better because it has a larger beat and nice piano line that keeps the song flowing. The chorus is unfortunately really flat though. While the music is more interesting, the melody doesn’t do anything and just trudges through with very little energy. It’s like it just doesn’t want to sound exciting. Has potential, but could be a lot better. Winter Fantasy is the second best song on the mini just because it has a lot of energy and it is catchy. The music is bright and fits the timing this mini was released. The Christmas style of the song is a bit generic, but there are some charming points like the fun beat and electronic touches.

Overall: I am quite disappointed in this mini. The group’s first one was a solid debut effort, but this just felt boring and uninspired for the large majority of it. The title track was fun, but the three of the B-sides just didn’t hit the mark and came off uninteresting and lacking much energy.

C+