[Digital Single] PRODUCE 101 – FINAL

FINAL is the third digital single released from the second season of Produce 101. The final 20 participants were split into two teams and placed on one of the first two tracks, while the last song included them all.


Released: June 17, 2017
1. Hands on me
2. Super Hot
3. Always (이 자리에)

Hands on me is the first song and more down my alley. It’s a pretty smooth, funk-inspired pop song that does a great job of showcasing all the participants’ vocals. I like the lighter arrangement that focuses more on the synths and guitar, although I wish there was a stronger bass line to really give it a bit more punch. The melody is surprisingly catchy and the simple hooks throughout the chorus are super effective in getting me to groove to this. I just wish there wasn’t that weird breakdown halfway through for the rap as it sticks out with its more hip-hop inspired vibe.

Super Hot is a contrast to the last song in the sense that it replaces the smoother, sensual quality for something more in-your-face and bright. It still ties in nicely though as it also has a strong disco/funk-inspired arrangement. I quite like the energy the song has, especially that explosive chorus. I don’t think the hooks are as intoxicating, but it’s still pretty catchy. I do like that the rap is incorporated much better here. It’s not as strong as the last song, but still a fun listen.

Always is a ballad and features all the participants. I think it’s a nice tune, but I’m not particularly drawn to it. The song tries to go a dreamier route with its light percussion, floating synths and breathy vocals. The boys do a good job with their vocals, but I don’t quite like the editing done to their voices. I feel like the melody just isn’t that captivating either and the song relies a lot on its arrangement to give it more power.

Overall: This is another solid digital single release from Produce 101. I really like the first two songs and they each show an interesting contrast to one another. I wish Always was a stronger song though as it left me desiring for a better melody.


[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.

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.


[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.

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.


[Digital Single] PRODUCE 101 – 35 Girls 5 Concepts

35 Girls 5 Concepts is the second digital single released from the first season of the hit show, Produce 101. The theme of this single was splitting 35 girls into five teams, with each team singing a different “concept”.

Released: March 19, 2016
1. Make Some Noise – 24 Hours (24시간)
2. Pinkrush – Fingertips
3. Splendid Rivers & Mountains (화려강산) – Don’t Matter
4. Macaroon Honey Dduk (마카롱 꿀떡) – Yum Yum (얌얌)
5. Girls on Top (소녀온탑) – In the Same Place (같은 곳에서)

24 Hours is a fun ride. The EDM tune was created by the same people who created Pick Me, which guarantees it being an earworm. It’s a really odd song though because it blends EDM with some trot elements in the vocal department. The girls do a great job though and I love the blend of sweet and strong vocals with the powerful beat. With that said, the breakdown is the best part of the song just because it has so much energy.

Fingertips slows things down with something more midtempo R&B/pop. It still has a lot of energy with a steady beat, but it just doesn’t have the same kind of punch the last song did. This song relies more on the melody and hooks to really get things rolling, which is great. I love the chorus as the delivery is really simple, but it’s still really effective. It’s the type of song that is easy to sing along to.

Don’t Matter is the song with the “hip-hop concept”. It also has some really cool aspects with it when it comes to musical arrangement. I love the bouncy piano tied with the low tuba sounds. It brings a really different vibe. The vocal arrangement is still catchy, but I don’t think it’s as impactful, especially tied with the airy vocal delivery. It’s only once the bridge comes by that the song really gets its proper power. Still a good tune, just the weakest on here.

Yum-Yum is supposed to be something a bit more abstract, but surprisingly catchy. The best part of the song is the buildup into the chorus and the rap that comes before that. These two parts really bring up the energy. The chorus is really repetitive, which isn’t bad, but it sort of loses the energy that the other parts of the song bring. I also wish there was more display of the girls’ talents as it lacks a show.

The juggernaut of the show, In the Same Place brings the ethereal and innocent vibes of GFriend, but with a more futuristic touch. It’s a really beautiful song that really relies on the chorus and Yeonjung’s performance to bring the song to the next level. The melodic and catchy, but still showcases the vocal strengths of the singers. The verses are a bit dull and I don’t really like the over-airy vocals because it lacks strength (also the overprocessing). It’s still a beautiful tune and I love the music.

Overall: A lot of these songs are like knock-offs from popular groups already. 24 Hours was noted as sounding T-ara-like, Fingertips was more Girls’ Generation, Don’t Matter was 2NE1, Yum-Yum was like Red Velvet’s music and In the Same Place was similar to GFriend. I think that was a great idea because the concepts are quite different and they each bring a different vibe and using older groups as influence was a great way to bring five solid tunes.


[Digital Single] PRODUCE 101 – PICK ME

PRODUCE 101 was a huge K-Pop survival program that was broadcast in 2016. It featured 101 female trainees from different companies who went through various rounds to make it into a final group of 11 members. PICK ME was released as the theme song for the show.

Released: December 17, 2015

PICK ME is an intoxicating EDM mess. The song starts off pretty bare with a heavy beat and an attack of synths. The girls come in with some high-pitched singing that almost sounds out of place. As the song progresses, it gains energy before entering the insanely repetitive and catchy melody that pretty much consists of a constant barrage of “pick me up”. The highlight of the song though is when it enters the instrumental breakdown and the heavy beats really come into foreplay. At first, everything about the song was odd, but it has a way to getting into your head and the song has some really clever aspects to it. I especially love the hooks in the bridge and the breakdown is intense and exciting.

Overall: This is the type of song that you either love or hate. It can be really repetitive and somewhat annoying, but I think it has some really cool parts to it and it is also insanely catchy. It’s just an overall well-produced tune.